31 July, 2009

The rise, fall and rise of Malaysia's chameleon

The rise, fall and rise of Anwar Ibrahim, South-East Asia’s most extraordinary politician.

ONE evening in mid-July Anwar Ibrahim was deep in the rubber-tapping state of Kelantan in northern Malaysia, urging a crowd of rural folk to vote for a devout fishmonger. The candidate was from the conservative Islamic Party (PAS). A tiny by-election for the state assembly PAS already dominates is ordinarily small beer (or would be, if PAS allowed such a beverage, which it does not). But Mr Anwar needs PAS. For the paradox is that without the Islamists, the alliance he leads of Malay modernisers, Indians and secular Chinese has little chance of driving the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) from power. The coalition that UMNO dominates has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957. Mr Anwar longs for UMNO’s destruction. The feeling is mutual.

That morning, Mr Anwar had been in Perth where he had met Australia’s foreign minister. What had he been doing with Stephen Smith? “Plotting,” replies Mr Anwar, with a conspiratorial wink. Mr Anwar spends a lot of time abroad with national and religious leaders whose names he drops slightly too easily into an engaging conversational style. He moves like quicksilver from one intriguing subject to the next, but you get the uncanny sense that he is speaking to what interests you.

Mr Anwar thinks he will soon need international support. Two days after stumping in Kelantan, pre-trial hearings began in a case in which Mr Anwar stands accused of sodomising a political aide “against the order of nature”. Mr Anwar vigorously denies the charges. He says he is the victim of a political stitch-up. International outrage might help him. Much is fishy about the case. Photographs of the former aide who brought the accusations show him with UMNO members, including people close to the current prime minister, Najib Razak. The charge has been changed from sexual assault to “consensual sex”, yet his accuser has not been charged. (All homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia.)

Mr Anwar has been here before. In 1998 he was charged with corruption and homosexual acts. In custody, he was beaten up by the chief of police. He spent six years in jail, mostly in solitary confinement, until his conviction was overturned. Upon release, his political career seemed over.

It is easy to forget now but for many years Mr Anwar led a charmed life. He made his name as an Islamist student leader in the 1970s and was even jailed under the draconian Internal Security Act. Then he shocked his former colleagues by joining UMNO, where his rise was spectacular. By 1993 he was deputy prime minister and heir to Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s long-serving leader. Malaysia seemed about to fall into his lap. “Ah,” says Mr Anwar, “the good old days.”

But during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, Mr Anwar moved too soon against his mentor, who after 16 years in power was not ready to bow out. Mr Anwar railed against the UMNO cronyism from which he had benefited. Livid, Dr Mahathir threw him out of the cabinet and launched Mr Anwar’s persecution. Mr Anwar’s reformasi movement sputtered out with his jailing.

Yet the hopes which that movement represented surged again after the general election of March 2008, and especially after August 2008 when Mr Anwar won a seat in Penang. In the election the ruling coalition lost its precious two-thirds majority which gave it power to change the constitution. It has since lost five out of six by-elections to Mr Anwar’s forces, which also control four of 13 states. In getting out its message, the opposition has been helped by an explosion of internet opinion that has undermined the influence of the UMNO-controlled mainstream media.

UMNO’s back is against the wall. Even its own officials admit to its arrogance, with corruption bound into the fabric of its power. The New Economic Policy (NEP, introduced in 1971) instituted racial preferences for majority Malays, when ethnic Chinese and Indians owned much of business. But instead of helping the poor, the NEP has enriched rent-seekers around the ruling party, while dragging down economic growth. Resentment has spread from Chinese and Indians to poor or pious Malays.

This has made possible Mr Anwar’s strange alliance. In calling for the end to the NEP, he says poor Chinese and Indians need help as much as Malays—but because there are more poor Malays than other races, they will still get the lion’s share of government help. It is a possible way out from the baneful influence of race on Malaysian politics. But the real strength of this alliance is that Mr Anwar’s charisma and political nous holds it together. Alas, that it is potential weakness, too.

Trials and tribulations

The challenges for Mr Anwar and his alliance will now multiply. For a start, Mr Najib, prime minister since April, has said the NEP must adapt, stealing some of his opponent’s thunder.

Then there is the time-consuming trial. Mr Anwar says he will win whatever the verdict. If he is acquitted, the government which brought the case will be discredited. If found guilty, tens of thousands of supporters will take to the streets. Mr Anwar hints tantalisingly at new information in a murder case that has gripped the country partly because of its links to Mr Najib. This, he suggests, gives him ammunition to fight back.

Intriguing, but it is unlikely to be enough. If Mr Anwar does go to jail, the alliance may not survive the loss of its leader. If he calls out his supporters—for something of the martyr lurks in him—he may be blamed for the ensuing chaos. And if he appeals to international opinion, his local supporters may question that.

This points to a trap waiting to catch the silver-tongued Mr Anwar, who deftly tells different audiences—religious or secular—what they like to hear. The same blogosphere that helped his meteoric rise may one day pay more attention to his chameleon qualities. Malaysians would then come to ask more closely: who and what exactly does Anwar stand for?

- The Economist

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30 July, 2009

Underworld links in Johor DAP ?

Not too long ago, allegations surfaced in Selangor of ‘mafia’ links among some state executive councilors.

A DAP leader in Johor said there are certain people in the party using secret societies to strengthen their political positions in the southern state.

Two police reports have since been lodged. State DAP chief Dr Boo Cheng Hau said he was waiting to be called up for questioning.

“I will cooperate,”, he said.

The reports were lodged in Kulai and Muar.

The Chinese media had quoted him as saying that he had been forcibly stopped from attending party meetings in northern Johor by some people claiming to be DAP members.

He allegedly said he had reason to believe that these people had links with the underworld, with certain members setting the dangerous precedent of using secret societies to strengthen their positions.

Dr Boo, was also reported as saying that he thought it was an isolated case. He added, however, that there was no need to be overly alarmed about his safety and that he was thankful the public was concerned about him.

Dispute among two factions

Speculation is rife that there is a dispute between him and Bentayan state assemblyman Gwee Tong Hian, leading to a leadership struggle between two factions in the state DAP.

It is said that Gwee has strong backing from some top leaders in the party’s central executive committee, while supporters of Dr Boo said he is “an idealist who sticks by his principles”.

Early this month, DAP leaders in Selangor were up in arms against Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong over his accusations that there were links between a state exco member and the underworld.

Wee, a former DAP member and Bukit Bintang MP in the early 1990s, had alleged in his blog that the office of a certain executive councillor was used as a meeting place for people connected with underground business activities.

Several state DAP leaders lashed out against him over the allegations. They have asked the police to investigate the charges.

Hishammuddin: Probe claims

Meanwhile, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the Johor police have also been asked to investigate the claims that certain politicians were involved with secret societies in the state.

Speaking to reporters after his weekly post-Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, he said such activities could tarnish the image of local representatives in the country.

“Such practices can lead to a breakdown of the highest institutions in the country and work against everything we have striven to achieve in the country in the 50 years since independence,” he said.

- Malaysian Mirror


29 July, 2009

More mystery to Teoh's death ?

PETALING JAYA - DAP party supremo Lim Kit Siang has fired another salvo at the MACC.

In a media statement today, the MP for Ipoh Timor, challenged the MACC to submit itself to a public inquiry to establish that it is not in any way responsible for the “black blog” set up in the past week to defame DAP Selangor excos with lies, half-truths and doctored documents.

He said suspicions abound as to who are behind the anonymous “black blog” which appeared recently to defame the DAP excos , in particular Ronnie Liu and Ean Yong Hian Wah, accusing them of corrupt practices based on lies and doctored documents

“If those behind the ‘black blog’ are honest and honourable people, why are they so cowardly as to have to hide under anonymity,” he questioned.

According to Kit Siang, one likely suspect would be the MACC or MACC officers, who are doing this to deflect public outrage over the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock at the MACC headquarters on July 16, 2009.

As Prof. Dr Shad Faruqi of the of the Faculty of Law, UiTM wrote in the Star “Ferreting out the Facts” today, many questions cry out for answers about Teoh’s mysterious death at MACC, including:

Was Teoh already dead when he fell 10 floors?

“After Teoh was released, did he make any telephone calls which could give some pointers to the time of his death? Was his handphone seized? Was his handphone tampered with? Were the injuries on his body the result of the fall or of prior abuse by himself or by others?

“Did he die because of the fall or was he already dead when his body plunged to the floor below? Did no one hear the sickening thud of his body falling nearly 10 floors?”

Kit Siang added that there are other questions: “Was Teoh released by MACC as claimed at 3.45am on July 16? If so, why was Teoh’s handphone still detained by MACC when Teoh is only a witness and not a suspect?

“If Teoh’s handphone was still in the custody of MACC, isn’t this proof that Teoh was still in the custody of MACC? Does that not mean that Teoh was in the custody of MACC when he met his death, either before or after the plunge from MACC’s 14th floor?”

These and many other questions demand answers which the public have only confidence if they are probed by a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

'Royal Commission would be most appropriate'

Kit Siang said that Shad Faruqi had been exploited by the Barisan Nasional mainstream media a few days ago to support the contention of Attorney-General Gani Patail that an inquest is a “must” for probing the causes of Teoh’s death.

“I am glad Shad Faruqi has come out with a strong article to disabuse the Malaysian public of such a misperception in his Star column today, where he dismissed the Attorney-General’s contention against a Royal Commission of Inquiry as ‘not convincing’ and supported the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry.”

Shad Faruqi had said: “On the peculiar facts of this case, a commission would have been most appropriate because of the legitimate expectations of the people created by assurances and proposals from many top politicians.

“Commission personnel are generally very high ranking and may arouse greater confidence than a junior judicial officer whether a magistrate or a sessions judge.

“This is not to imply, however, that magistrates cannot do justice or act impartially. There are many excellent subordinate court judges and their judicial conduct is often of higher quality than that of many superior court judges.

Justice must be seen to be done

“What is crucial is that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Public scepticism is acute because despite considerable passage of time, no decisive evidence seems to have emerged.”

Lim added that there is a major conspiracy to deflect public outrage at Teoh’s mysterious death at MACC and the refusal of the prime minister and the cabinet to heed family and public demands to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to get to the bottom of the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s death.

“One such tactic was to turn Teoh’s death into a racial issue, with a ‘thief shout thief’ twist by alleging that the public outrage was an attack on a Malay or Malay-controlled institution - the MACC.

“In actual fact, public outrage at Teoh’s mysterious death directed at MACC had nothing to do with race as nobody regarded MACC as a Malay or Malay-controlled institution. Criticisms and demands for accountability from MACC are solely on the basis that MACC is a Malaysian institution!

“Another tactic is to accuse Teoh of unspeakable crimes, which is most disgraceful on the part of the mass media and internet sites concerned,” Kit Siang concluded.

- Malaysian Mirror


26 July, 2009

Malaysia : Fighting corruption is an uphill battle ?

PUTRAJAYA, July 25 (Bernama) -- Weeding out corruption is extremely difficult as detractors feel there is nothing wrong with the scourge while others argue that it is a necessary evil in the society.

Despite these drawbacks, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) community education division is unperturbed in its anti-corruption awareness campaign and efforts to correct the wrong perception of the people on the menace.

"Some people argue that bribes open doors of opportunities in business, politics or even to gain promotions."

"Offenders often scoff at the ill-effects of corruption on the society in the long run," said MACC community education division deputy commissioner Mohd Yusoff Akope.

"It will take years before the bad effects of corruption are felt, thus making it difficult to detect the scourge in the short term," he told Bernama in an interview.

This was further aggravated by the refusal of the people to cooperate with the MACC, he added.

"Although they want us to take immediate action against offenders, they refuse to cooperate in providing the information needed. This make our efforts to fight corruption an uphill battle," he added.

Mohd Yusoff said to overcome some of these challenges, the MACC would use creative measures to attract the public to join its educational programmes to equip them with the necessary knowledge on how to weed out corruption.

"We may include sports tournaments such as bowling in the programmes to enable MACC officers to interact with participants.

"It is not easy to educate the public, we must know how to attract their attention through quality programmes to impart the knowledge they would find useful," he said.

Mohd Yusoff said the public could provide information to the MACC face-to-face or anonymously through telephone, letters or e-mail at info@sprm.gov.my.

The identity of informers is protected under Section 65(1) and 65(2) of the MACC Act 2009 and will not be revealed even in court.

However, they should not share the information with others.

On the face-to-face meeting, he said MACC officers were willing to meet information providers at their convenient times even after office hours and on weekends.

Mohd Yusoff said the MACC community education division would update heads of departments and captains of industries on corrupt practices, systems and procedures.

"We will hold briefing sessions on corruption for private sector employees. For civil servants, we will have face-to-face meetings and induction courses.

"Civil servants are aware of corrupt practices but they fall into the trap as they are either tempted by the bribes or are after quick gains," he added.

Mohd Yusoff said more often than not bribery among those in high places were not as rampant as those in lower ranks who took bribes to ease their financial burden.

He said the success of the public awareness campaign was subjective as it was difficult to measure.

"The best defence against corruption is self-control," he said.



24 July, 2009

Truth, nothing but the truth for Teoh Beng Hock

A new anonymous blog has accused the dead political aide TBH of being embroiled in a web of corruption with other Selangor DAP leaders, forcing Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu to refute the allegations.

LKS said it was "proof of a 'black blog' operation to defame TBH and 2 DAP Selangor excos."

Liu scoffed at the allegations and dismissed it as part of a wider conspiracy hatched by the Barisan Nasional (BN) to bring about the downfall of the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government.

“The allegations are pure bull . We are not afraid of any investigations,” said Liu, adding that officers in the land office would be able to testify that everything was above board.

The “Truth for Teoh Beng Hock” blog, which was started yesterday, claims Teoh had received kickbacks amounting to RM112 for a project.

It also claims that Teoh was forced by his boss, Ean Yong Hian Wah, and Liu to be part of a scheme to siphon out state funds.

An example of the allegations made on the blog is: “Among the biggest players are WONG CHUAN HOW (in the Kawasan DUN Sungai Pelek) under YB Ronnie Liu who was given 84 projects totalling over RM200,000 (Tarian Cina Persatuan Bahasa, Perayaan Persatuan Buddha Huan Chian Chuen, Kejohanan Bola Keranjang).”

Liu said it was very unbecoming of the anonymous blogger to allege Teoh was involved in corruption when he was no longer here to defend himself.

According to the blog, Teoh did not like what was happening and had “spilled the beans” about the corruption to unknown parties.

It claims Teoh made copies of documents to protect himself and had left behind a hard disk detailing the extent of the corruption with an unidentified person.

The contents of the blog are consistent with theories about Teoh’s death that have been widely published in pro-BN blogs.


22 July, 2009

Inquest into plunge death

"We want to establish the ɥʇnɹʇ , the whole ɥʇnɹʇ, and nothing but the ɥʇnɹʇ in this case,"

- Najib

The Cabinet has agreed to set up an inquest into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock as well as a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into the interrogation methods used on him by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

"An inquest will be led by a magistrate to investigate the cause of death of Teoh," Najib told reporters.

"A Royal Commission will (also) be established to study the rules related to interrogation... used by the (MACC) and to find out if there was any human rights violation during the interrogation of Teoh," he added.

The inquest into Teoh’s cause of death would be headed by a magistrate as dictated by law.

It will be up to the courts to decide which magistrate would be in charge of the inquest, he added.

Najib said the courts had already been notified of the Cabinet decision and he expected the inquest to begin sometime next week.

“The Royal Commission will be set up according to specific terms, which is to scrutinise and study the procedures related to interrogations that are used by the MACC. It will also identify if there were any violations of human rights during Teoh’s interrogation.

“The members of the Commission will be announced later ,” he told a press conference here Wednesday.

He said the investigations by the Royal Commission were necessary to ensure there was no repeat of such incidents and the steps being taken mirrored the Government’s commitment to finding out the cause of death so that Teoh’s family and the public can know what really happened.

Najib said that in line with the 1Malaysia concept of “People First, Performance Now,” he had told the Cabinet that government institutions were created to protect the people’s rights and interests, and as such they cannot act against or neglect these interests or act beyond the country’s laws and Constitution.

He said the Cabinet also ordered the Home Ministry and the police to complete the investigations into the Teoh’s death as soon as possible and he was told that it would be ready within the next few days.

He said the report would be made public when it was completed and he would personally meet with Teoh’s family to explain to them the findings.

He also said that Cabinet members were just as anxious to know the cause of death and hoped that all parties would be patient and refrain from making statements that could cause confusion or create the wrong perception on the issue while the investigations were still ongoing.

He also called on all parties not to politicise Teoh’s death.

The following are Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s responses to questions from the media:

Was there any pressure to form the Commission?

Najib: No. It’s because we want to establish the truth and it’s important for us to ensure public faith and confidence in important institutions that we have in this country.

When do you think the police can complete their investigations? What kind of time frame will be set?

I know that the police can wrap up their investigations very soon. I think we are talking about a matter of days. For the magistrate (on the inquest), I don’t want to put a time frame because that is up to the magistrate to decide (on when it should be held). The Royal Commission will be established quite soon.

The investigation by the Royal Commission, will it be into Teoh’s death?
It will be on the procedures (of MACC interrogations). The inquest will look into Teoh’s death,

Who will be the members of the Commission?

We will announce this later.

Have you named the magistrate?

No, that is up to the court to decide. We have taken steps to notify the court of the need to convene an inquest. So I expect the inquest to start some time within next week.

There’s an online news portal (saying) that the MACC has suspended their investigation into the alleged misuse of constituency funds by Selangor exco members.

No, we cannot have any presumption (of guilt). We have to wait for the results of the investigations first.

What will the Commission investigate?

It will be on the (MACC’s) procedures relating to its investigation, not the investigation on Teoh’s death and the normal investigations conducted by the MACC.

Has the MACC investigation team been suspended?

They have not been suspended, but the lead investigator has been reassigned to the (MACC) headquarters. We cannot have a presumption of guilt.

Will the Commission investigate Teoh’s death?

No, the death will be left to the inquest. The inquest on the cause of death is conducted by a magistrate, so we have to follow the law.

- The Star

Meanwhile, veteran opposition politician Lim Kit Siang said in his blog that he was disappointed by the Cabinet decision on the mysterious death of Teo Beng Hock.

"What the Malaysian public want is a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mysterious causes of Teoh's death," he added.

There will be no Royal Commission of Inquiry into the causes of Teoh’s death although an inquest would be held.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry will be set up, but only to look into the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigative procedures and to determine if there were any human right violations when Teoh Beng Hock was being interrogated.

This falls short of public expectations and is unsatisfactory and unacceptable.

What the Malaysian public want is a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mysterious causes of Teoh’s death at 14th floor of MACC Hqrs, the investigating procedures of MACC as well as into the independence, professionalism and integrity of the MACC whether it has become the catspaw of its political masters to declare war on the Pakatan Rakyat instead of declaring war on corruption.

MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP Ministers have led the Teoh family and the public “up the garden path” into believing that they support a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Teoh’s death.

Did they press for a RCI into the causes of Teoh’s death and were outvoted by the rest of the Cabinet or had they agreed all along to only have a RCI into the investigative techniques of MACC but not into Teoh’s death.

Let MCA President and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, Gerakan President Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon and all the other Ministers concerned speak up!

Tengku Razaleigh, the former Finance Minister of Malaysia and chairman of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank said our major public institutions and our political system have degenerated to the point that the public no longer trusts them. A democratic system of government cannot function below a certain threshhold of public confidence. The suspicious death of Teoh Beng Hock under the custody of a watchdog body reporting directly to a prime minister who has his own public confidence issues may have pushed us below that threshhold.

What we must do now goes beyond political parties. We need the rakyat to rise up to claim their institutions, and demand that our public institutions are answerable to them. We must wake up to our sovereignty as citizens, reclaim the constitution which constitutes us as a nation and guarantees our rights, and demand a comprehensively reformed government to restore public confidence. We must do this before it is too late.


20 July, 2009

Candlelight Vigil: PAS Ulama Should Issue Fatwa, Says Perak MB !

AS ulama should issue a fatwa (religious ruling) on candlelight vigils like the one participated by Perak PAS deputy commissioner Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin for political aide Teoh Beng Hock, who fell to his death at the MACC office in Shah Alam on Thursday.

Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir who said this, pointed out that a photograph of Mohammad Nizar holding a lighted candle with some opposition leaders following Teoh's untimely death, appeared in the New Straits Times on Saturday.

Zambry said PAS had many ulama including its spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang

I am not an ulama to comment on Nizar's action. Let the many 'tok guru' in Pas comment. He (Nizar) is also a 'tok guru' as he can read the Quran well and give (religious) talks and sermons at the mosques," he said.

- Bernama

Meanwhile,the Malay-language press continues to react to the death of Selangor government aide Teoh Beng Hock. Or rather, they continue to react to the outrage expressed by certain quarters over the tragedy.

The 20 July 2009 edition of Utusan Malaysia ran a simple warning on its front page: Jangan melampau. The news report to which that headline referred, Henti tohmahan terhadap SPRM, quoted politic.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has called on all quarters to stop pointing fingers at the agency for the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock, as investigations are still ongoing.

MACC chief commisioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan said since the incident was reported, many quarters had issued various statements, and made comments to the point of raising speculation and affecting investigations.

"Let the police investigate and solve the case. Don't muddy the situation," he said.

Colleagues and fellow Pakatan Rakyat (pr) comrades vowed today at his funeral that they will do all it takes to ensure justice is served.


19 July, 2009

No conspiracy behind Teoh's death ?

Teoh Beng Hock is "worth more to us alive than dead", according to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission as he was a key witness in an ongoing case.

"He was considered a crucial witness and was assisting the MACC in sorting out files and documents which had been taken from his office."

He said it was absurd to allege a conspiracy behind Teoh's death.

"First and foremost. Teoh was a witness, not a suspect."

"As a witness, he could either produce important evidence or testify in court. Hence, he was worth more alive to the MACC than dead."

While ordinary Malaysians have expressed shock, dismay, and anger. Demonstrations and candle-light vigils have begun, symbolising an outpouring of sympathy for Teoh’s fiancée and family, and anger that the MACC has washed its hands in public and shrugged off any responsibility.

Leaders spanning the political spectrum, from the MCA’s Dr Chua Soi Lek, Umno Youth’s Khairy Jamaluddin, to PAS Vice-President Salahuddin Ayob, the PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim, the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, and the national human rights commission Suhakam, have called for an independent Royal Commission to reveal the truth.

Some, including blogger Rocky’s Bru, condemn politicians such as the DAP’s Lim Guan Eng for trying to gain political mileage from the young DAP aide’s death. Yet it is undeniable that Teoh’s death is deeply political, for Teoh died during an MACC probe targeted at Pakatan Rakyat (PR) representatives.

The MACC has not answered allegations of corruption among Barisan Nasional representatives, such as Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, with nearly the same fanatical hounding the MACC has given PR reps. After Teoh’s death, Khir blurted out disingenuous claims that he thought the MACC to be even-handed. He alleged that he, too, had been questioned by the MACC, for eight hours, a “similar treatment” to Teoh’s. It can be assumed Khir’s “similar treatment” did not involve a fall from a tall building.

Umno papers slam MACC critics in Teoh’s death

Umno-controlled newspapers, Berita Harian and Mingguan Malaysia, today slammed critics for demonising the country’s graft-busters over Teoh Beng Hock’s death, with one suggesting there is an agenda to weaken Malay-controlled institutions.

Both newspapers accused the opposition of politicising the political secretary’s death on July 16, with Mingguan saying the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) was using the incident to divert attention away from internal problems and weaknesses.

But Berita Harian suggested the agenda was to weaken Malay-controlled institutions in the article, “Kematian Teoh timbulkan pelbagai spekulasi politik”, written by the New Straits Times group managing editor Zainul Ariffin Isa.

He wrote that political opportunism can turn grief into political capital, and death can be made a catalyst to stoke anger and racial sentiments.

“It is not just the Chinese or supporters of the Pakatan Rakyat who know anger and seek justice.

“Suspicions have been raised especially among the non-Malays that MACC, which like other departments have many Malay officers, selectively chose non-Malays to be investigated,” he wrote.

The new boss of the Umno-owned New Straits Times group did not, however, address complaints raised by two DAP men who were also, like Teoh, brought in for questioning.

The two DAP men, one a Chinese and the other a mixed Malay-Chinese, claimed racial insults were hurled at them by the MACC officers.

Like Teoh, both men were not suspects, but “witnesses,” according to MACC officers.

So far, leaders of the PR alliance, led by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, have not referred to race in their statements demanding the MACC be held responsible for Teoh’s death.

Zainul appeared to suggest that Teoh’s death was an accident and that the MACC officer involved was Malay when he wrote in Berita Harian that “when a victim of an accident was non-Malay, who was previously investigated by a Malay, the speculation is great.”

By suggesting anti-Malay sentiment in Teoh’s death, he also appeared to suggest that government departments were Malay-based institutions rather than a non-partisan civil service.

“Why did the Selangor MB, a Malay, question those of his own race to act fairly?” Zainul wrote.

Mingguan Malaysia, which is also owned by Umno, also attacked the PR alliance for politicising the death.

The newspaper said the controversy could not be resolved through demonstrations or wild accusations.

Mingguan suggested instead that the opposition was using Teoh’s death to distract attention from its own problems.

- The Malaysian Insider


16 July, 2009

¡ uʍop ǝpısdn sı ɐısʎɐןɐɯ

¡ uʍop ǝpısdn sı ɐısʎɐןɐɯ

My deepest condolence to the late Mr Teo Beng Hock's family.

Teo Beng Hock, 30, an aide of Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, has plunged to his death at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Selangor headquarters in Shah Alam.

Teo’s body was found on the rooftop of a building next to the towering block which houses the MACC headquarters.

At about 8pm, his body had not been taken from the scene and the police were still investigating.

Teoh, the special assistant to exco Ean Yong Hian Wan, was a witness in the investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) into allegations of misappropriation of state allocations.

MACC's director of investigation Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdull said at a news conference at the scene that Teoh went to the Selangor MACC office on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam at 5pm yesterday to give a statement and was allowed to leave at 3.45am today.

He said that before leaving, Teoh promised to return to the Selangor MACC office and bring several documents to assist in the investigations.

"He however said he wanted to rest first in the visitors' room [in] the MACC office and was allowed to do so. At 6am, he was seen sleeping on the sofa and after [that he] was not seen again.

"During the investigation the victim cooperated fully as he was not an accused but was a witness," he said.

The MACC controversial probe into several DAP assemblymen’s activities was thrown into more turmoil today with the death of political aide .

The 30-year-old’s death will put more pressure on the MACC, which has been accused by the opposition of conducting selective investigations.

It is unclear if Teoh, a former journalist with Chinese daily Sin Chew Jit Poh, fell or jumped from the MACC office.

According to Kit Siang, Teoh, an Alor Gajah boy, was to register his marriage tomorrow.

Kit Siang also confirmed he and Anwar will meet reporters at the MACC building in Shah Alam at 10am Friday.

Meanwhile, Selangor CPO Datuk Khalid Abdu Bakar told theSun: "We have asked for the pathologist to conduct investigations at the scene. We have also offered Teoh's family to bring in their own pathologist, if they want a second opinion.

"As at now, the case is classified as sudden death. But we will leave no stone unturned and there will be no cover-up of anything for anyone, I assure this."


15 July, 2009

Religious row flares in Malaysia

¡ uʍop ǝpısdn sı ɐısʎɐןɐɯ

While Obama may have praised the Malaysian government for its success in making Malaysia an Islamic country that was modern and progressive ...

Obama may have also praised the Malaysia's government for its success in being able to ensure the country's multiracial society lived in peace and harmony.

In reality, the persecution of non-Muslims continues in Malaysia ....

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysian police have arrested nine Christians accused of trying to convert Muslim university students ? a serious crime punishable by prison in this Muslim-majority country, a lawyer said Wednesday.

The suspects have denied the allegation, which could aggravate complaints by religious minorities that authorities are increasingly ignoring their rights in favor of Islam.

Proselytizing of Muslims by members of other religions is forbidden in Malaysia, though the reverse is allowed. Muslims, who comprise nearly two-thirds of Malaysia's 28 million people, are also not legally permitted to change religion.

Police detained the nine in a hostel room at the Universiti Putra Malaysia near Kuala Lumpur late Tuesday, said Annou Xavier, a lawyer who is handling their cases and is a specialist in religion issues. He spoke to The Associated Press by phone from the police station where the nine are being held.

They claimed they were visiting friends, but a Muslim student apparently filed a police complaint accusing them of trying to convert Muslims, Xavier said.

"These allegations are baseless and untrue," Xavier said.

The identities of the nine were not immediately clear. The Malaysian Insider independent news Web site said they were students belonging to a Malaysian Christian organization.

Zahedi Ayob, the police chief of Sepang district near Kuala Lumpur, said he could not immediately confirm the arrests.

Cases of non-Muslims preaching to Muslims are rare in Malaysia. Penalties differ for various states, but most provide for prison terms of at least two years. One northern state also prescribes a punishment of six lashes with a rattan cane.

Malaysia's Constitution guarantees freedom of worship for minorities, who include Christians, Buddhists and Hindus. But Muslims who try to convert are often sent by Islamic authorities for counseling and rehabilitation, and some have also been imprisoned for apostasy for up to three years.

There was no indication that at Tuesday's arrests were linked to a separate religious dispute involving Roman Catholics who complained about two Muslim men who posed as Christians and took Communion at a church service.

The men were researching a magazine article about unsubstantiated rumors that churches were converting Muslim teenagers. Police said Tuesday they were investigating whether the men had caused religious disharmony -- a crime that carries a prison term of up to five years.

Minorities say their right to practice religion freely has been increasingly threatened by Muslim authorities in recent years. The government denies any discrimination.

Other ongoing problems include a court battle between the Catholic church and the government over a 2007 order banning non-Muslims from translating God as "Allah" in their literature. The government says its use would confuse Muslims, but Christians say the ban is unconstitutional.

Minorities also complain about the occasional demolition of their places of worships. In a separate case Wednesday, the High Court ruled that Islamic authorities in northern Kelantan state unlawfully destroyed a church in 2007.

State officials had said the church was illegally built, but the court ruled that the Christian villagers there should receive financial compensation.

- The Washington Times

Meanwhile, according to BBC news report, Police have said they will release nine Christians mistakenly accused of trying to convert Muslim university students to Christianity.

A university security guard wrongly thought they were handing Christian pamphlets to Muslims, police said.

Just last week, there was a controversy that centering on two journalists who wrote about hiding their Muslim identity in order to receive Communion at a Roman Catholic church.

One of the journalists said they were investigating reports that Muslims had committed apostasy by attending prayers or Communion at the church, but that they found no evidence of this.

A Christian priest complained about the article, published in the Malay-language magazine al-Islam.

Police said officials were investigating whether the two men had caused religious disharmony, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

Read also :

" Police arrest two for “criminally trespassing” as non-Malays/Muslims in University Malaya’s Academy of Islamic Studies !"

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14 July, 2009

Infidelity !

PR, DAP and BN died and arrived at the gate. St Paul explains to them:

'Heaven is a very big place and you need a car to get around. The car you get depends solely on how faithful you were to your spouse while you were alive'

PR was married for 15 years and cheated on his wife 3 times so he got a Citi Golf.

DAP was married 20 years and cheated on his wife once so he got a Toyota Corolla.

BN was married for 50 years and never cheated on his wife so he got a BMW.

PR and DAP were very envious of BN!

A couple of months later PR and DAP see Eric sitting on the pavement crying...

DAP asks: 'What's wrong buddy?'

BN replies: 'I just saw my wife'

PR asks: 'So? why are you crying?'

BN says: 'She was on a bicycle!


13 July, 2009

Police arrest two for “criminally trespassing” as non-Malays/Muslims in University Malaya’s Academy of Islamic Studies !

Last night, two individuals - Ong Jing Cheng and Yap Heng Lung - were arrested for “trespassing” in Universiti Malaya. Their “crime?”

Being non-Malay in a “Malays only” area :|

And what area is this that is “Malays only?” - The Academy of Islamic Studies.

- From jelas. info

Ong and Yap are both deeply motivated activists who work to Malaysia a better place. Their efforts cross racial lines, and for their trouble, they landed a night in jail.

Another ridiculous aspect of this case is how having a draft memorandum aimed at helping crime-fighting efforts was interpreted as subversive when a) it’s in the interests of citizens plagued by crime and b) has absolutely nothing to do with the university.

Merdeka Review reported that a magistrate has approved the extension of the remand order by another two days!

12 JULY 2009

To all,

Release Ong Jing Cheng and Yap Heng Lung Immediately!

Ong Jing Cheng, (a graduate student from USM, also Secretary of Administration of DEMA and coordinator of EMPOWER) together with Yap Heng Lung (fresh graduate student from USM and Coordinator of Student Politics Department of DEMA) were charged under Penal Code 447 for trespassing University Malaya (UM). Both of them were detained overnight at Pantai Police Station and is believed to be remanded the next day.

We call for immediate release of Ong and Yap because:

1. Both of them were only meeting friends at UM without any other motive or intention.

2. Local universities are public places, not security zone. Public should be welcomed to enter and utilize the facilities in the university.

3. Police is an executive force and they should be accountable and independent. In this case, the police worked in coop with the UM security officers and there was an obvious bias in handling the case by rejecting the request from Ong and Yap to lodge a police report against the security officers.

Background of the Incident:


12/7/09 (Sunday)


· Ong Jing Cheng and Yap Heng Lung (two DEMA activists and graduate students from USM) went to University Malaya (UM) to meet their friend at Academy of Islamic Studies (API). Unfortunately their motorcycle broke down before they reach. So they had to walk to their meeting place.

· Three UM security guards stopped them and asked their reasons to be there as according to the guards, API is a “Malay place” and therefore Chinese should not be there.


· The security guards contacted another seven officers to come and surrounded Ong and Yap. Ong and Yap were forced to follow the officers back to the security department for trespassing UM.

· When Ong and Yap refused to follow the instruction, the officers called the police.

· Police came and brought both Ong and Yap to Pantai Police Station.


· Ong and Yap reached the police station.

· Police accepted the report from the UM security officers, accusing Ong and Yap as trespassers in UM.

· Also, the police found a memorandum of EMPOWER issued to Prime Minister on “Making a Street Safe” on their motorcycle and suspected that they were trying to protest. (*Ong Jing Cheng is a coordinator of EMPOWER-Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor)

· Police rejected the request of Ong and Yap to lodge a report on the security guards who harassed them without reasonable excuse.


· Both Ong and Yap were detained overnight by the police and were charged under Penal Code 447.

Abuse of Power

Public Universities are opened zone for public to enter. Security officers of UM should not be intimidating Ong and Yap for trespassing UM because both of them were only visiting a friend at UM. The accuse was not standing on a reasonable ground as the officers claimed that Academy of Islamic Studies (API) is a place for Malay race and any Chinese presented at the venue will be suspected. The responsibility of security officers is to help maintain the order of UM, not abusing one’s power to find fault on targeted people without concrete basis.

The police, on the other hand, should play a role as an independent force to execute the law. In this case, the police was bias towards the UM security officers by only accepting their reports, detaining Ong and Yap without proper investigation.


Hence, DEMA calls upon the police to release Ong Jing Cheng and Yap Heng Lung and withdraw all charges immediately. DEMA also urges UM authority to take action against the security officers who were not professional and intimidating Ong and Yap without reasonable basis.

What Can You Do?

Fax the sample letter below to Bukit Aman Police Headquarter:
Fax number: 0-322739602
Call Pantai Police Station to ask about the case and demand immediate release of Ong and Yap:
Tel: 03-22822222 or 03-22824786

Released by,
Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (DEMA)
Lee Song Yong (Secretary of National Affair)

Sample Letter

Please state your concern and protest and faxing the letter to Bukit Aman Police Headquarter and CC to Vice Chancellor of University Malaya (UM) and Ministry of Higher Education.


Tan Sri Musa Hassan
Inspector-General of Police
Ibu Pejabat Polis Diraja Malaysia
Bukit Aman
50560 Kuala Lumpur.

Release Ong Jing Cheng and Yap Heng Lung Immediately!

We/I from ______________________, oppose the action of the police officers in detaining Ong Jing Cheng and Yap Heng Lung without reasonable basis.

2. We call for immediate release of Ong and Yap because:

i. Both of them were only meeting friends at UM without any other motive or intention.

ii. Local universities are public places, not security zone. Public should be welcomed to enter and utilize the facilities in the university.

iii. Police is an executive force and they should be accountable and independent. In this case, the police worked in coop with the UM security officers and there was an obvious bias in handling the case by rejecting the request from Ong and Yap to lodge a police report against the security officers.

3. Public Universities are opened zone for public to enter. Security officers of UM should not be intimidating Ong and Yap for trespassing UM because both of them were only visiting a friend at UM. The accuse was not standing on a reasonable ground as the officers claimed that Academy of Islamic Studies (API) is a place for Malay race and any Chinese presented at the venue are to be suspected. The responsibility of security officers is to help maintain the order of UM, not abusing one’s power to find fault on targeted people without concrete basis. This will continue to create fear among the students.

4. The police, on the other hand, should play a role as an independent force to execute the law. In this case, the police was bias towards the UM security officers by only accepting their reports, detaining Ong and Yap without proper investigation.

5. We urge the authority to:

i. Release Ong Jing Cheng and Yap Heng Lung immediately.

ii. Withdraw all charges on Ong and Yap.

iii. Take action on security officers of UM who were not professional.

Yours faithfully,

( )

Ghauth Jasmon,
University of Malaya
50603 Kuala Lumpur
Tel. No : +603 7967 3213 / 3510 / +603 7956 8400
Fax No.: +603 7955 2975
Email: vc@um.edu.my / ghauth@gmail.com

Menteri Pengajian Tinggi,
Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi,
Aras 7, Blok E3, Parcel E,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
Tel : +603-8883 5010
Faks : +603-8889 1952
Emel : menteri@mohe.gov.my

So, whatever has happened to "Police report on Muslim men spying in Catholic churches" ?


11 July, 2009

100 Days of Najib and his "people-friendly" measures.

Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak today announced 11 "people-friendly" measures in conjunction with his first 100 days in office as the prime minister, among them discounts for frequent users of toll roads, ownership of public housing to those renting them, and a new unit trust scheme.

Speaking at the "100 Days of Najib with the People" function at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) here, Najib said a 20 per cent discount would be given to users of the pre-paid Smart Tag and Touch n Go cards who pay toll 80 times or more in a month.

He said this was an interim solution pending the completion of a comprehensive study on the toll rates, which he felt would take time.

Najib said he had come to know that some users of toll roads paid about RM300 in toll a month out of their RM3,000 monthly salary, and added that these people only earned 11 months salary in a year because one month's salary went totally to toll payment.

"I believe this (discount) will come as a relief to the people, particularly those who use toll roads daily," he said.

In a televised address to the nation, Datuk Seri Najib Razak also outlined the focus of his administration would be in six key areas:

• The prevention of crime;

• The fight against corruption;

• Access to quality education;

• The improvement of the living standards for the lower income group;

• Improvement of rural infrastructure;;

• Improvement of public transportation.

Besides offering motorists a 20 per cent discount for those who use toll roads more than 80 times a month and increasing the number of individual taxi permits by 3,000, he also announced:

• The allocation of 44,000 units in public housing projects to be offered for sale to tenants;

• A 50 per cent reduction in license fees for petty traders in the Federal Territories;

• Drastic steps to be taken to combat crime and graft of which details would be announced later;

• A pledge to settle birth registration issues in east Malaysia;

• A pledge to settle citizenship applications in East Malaysia;

• A pledge to build up to 1,500 kilometres of rural roads;

• Efforts to be made to improve water and electricity supply to east Malaysia;

• A reduction in the cost of motorcycle riding courses from RM500 to RM211;

• A new Amanah Saham 1 Malaysia with 10 billion units offered for sale to all Malaysians above 18.

Najib also extended an olive branch to critics of the government’s human rights record.

“The era of government knows best is over,” he said. “We will consult the public including on the review of the Internal Security Act and this includes consulting the Bar Council and other NGOs.”

Najib new slogan of 1Malaysia has already been much questioned and ridiculed by news portals and hostile bloggers. His attempt at liberalisation of the country’s political and economic system has often been criticised as being too little too late.

Worse still, his Barisan Nasional coalition has suffered a string of defeats in a series of by-elections, while we await the outcome of the Manek Urai by-election in Kelantan.

Meanwhile, the unresolved political imbroglio in Perak with its ongoing related court cases keep alive the festering discontent among a huge swathe of the rakyat.

The tradition of reviewing the performance of a new national leader after 100 days in office began with the 32nd President of the United States Franklin D Roosevelt (1882 – 1945). Coming into power in 1933, FDR was immediately plunged into the very depth of the Great Depression.

One hundred days would be too brief a period to give a fair and accurate assessment on the performance of any new top political leader. What is certain is that the months and years ahead will be full of such political challenges never before confronted by a new prime minister in the history of our country.

At stake is the future political fortune of his BN coalition and his personal future as prime minister of Malaysia. The next general election to be held in three or four years’ time must weigh heavily on his weary mind in his every waking hour!

Indeed, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Najib Abdul Razak now has probably the most unsavoury job in the country.

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10 July, 2009

Najib Razak's first 100 days in office dogged by indifference !

When Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was appointed as the country's sixth premier 100 days ago, he ascended to power in the most unwelcoming circumstances.

Najib took over the reins of leadership on April 3 at a time when his ruling National Front coalition was suffering its worst-ever level of public support, as the country spiraled into a recession.

The son of Malaysia's second prime minister was also suffering badly from rumours surrounding his alleged links with a murdered Mongolian beauty, Altantuya Shaariibuu, whose body was found blown up by military-grade explosives in 2006.

Around the time of his appointment, Najib's popularity rating stood at just 41 per cent, an embarrassing figure considering his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi enjoyed a figure of 46 per cent despite being criticized as largely ineffective.

Najib's low public approval was so obvious that the premier himself, in an interview given just before his appointment, implored voters to give him a 'chance to prove' himself, adding that he was determined to bring about change within the country's economy and corruption-riddled government.

Barely a month into his new role, Najib's new government released 13 people who were held without trial under a draconian security law, and removed a 30-per-cent requirement for ethnic Malay ownership in 27 public service sectors.
Earlier this month, Najib announced even bolder economic measures, scrapping a decades-long policy requiring listed businesses to allocate at least 30 per cent of their shares to Malays.

As a result of his efforts, a recent survey conducted by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, an independent pollster, found that support for the premier had risen to 65 per cent.

However, the rating was by far the lowest of the 100-day approval ratings for all of Malaysia's former prime ministers.

Former PM Mahathir Mohamad gave a thumbs down to Prime Minister Najib Razak's first 100 days in office, saying there has been "more negatives than positives" under the new administration.

"I'm sorry to say this, there are more negatives than positives," he told reporters when asked to assess Najib's first 100 days. "It doesn't mean that I don't support the government but I think the government is doing the wrong things."

He slammed Najib's move to roll back an affirmative action program for ethnic Malay Muslims, including scrapping a requirement for Malays to own 30 percent equity in some sectors in the financial services industry.

Companies seeking to list on the stock exchange also no longer need to allot 30 percent shares for Malays.

Mahathir further criticized Najib for plans to scrap the use of English to teach math and science by 2012 in favor of the national Malay language, warning it would hurt the country's competitiveness. It reversed a policy started by Mahathir in 2003 amid concerns that poor English skills were hindering students' job opportunities.

Najib says the government remains committed to raise the level of English in schools by employing more English teachers and increasing the hours of teaching.

Mahathir also objected Najib's plans to build a third bridge to neighboring Singapore and said he hasn't taken concrete steps to fight corruption.

And, just a day before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak marks his first 100 days as premier, 40 non-governmental-organisations (NGOs) have come out with 10 "new" key performance indicators (KPIs) for him to achieve in his next 100 days.

In a joint statement, the group said the next 100 days after tomorrow are just as critical and that the civil society organisations want to throw the gauntlet down to Najib to extend his programme of reform to all aspects of life in the country, especially in the critical sphere of good governance.

"We laud the various measures of economic reform announced lately by the government...(but) the structural roots of economic stagnation - namely ethno-nationalism, cronyism, corruption and power abuse, are the major constraints and must be addressed if the country is to make any headway.

"If the government insists on maintaining the current authoritarian system of political control, the economic liberalisation and other reforms will be seen for what it is, a thinly-veiled attempt aimed at ensuring that the present political elite stays in power," the group said in a statement.

The 10 KPIs are:

> Call for fresh elections in Perak, which is facing a constitutional crisis;
> Form a royal commission on electoral reform before the next constituency redelineation exercise;
> Form a parliamentary select committee on judiciary and prosecution reform;
> Form a royal commission on parliamentary reform as as there is no sharing of legislative leadership at both the house and committee levels as well as provision for the role of shadow cabinet;
> Repeal the Internal Security Act, with no new laws allowing detention without trial;
> Implement the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC);
> Form a parliamentary select committee on media law reform;
> Have freedom of information laws at the federal and state levels;
> Have local government elections nationwide; and
> Amend the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act to increase the commission's autonomy under optimum parliamentary oversight.

The groups had called on Najib to meet the 10 "new" KPIs that can deepen the process of democratisation and also "KPI" Minister in the Prime Minister Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon as well as Malaysians to join in endorsing and monitoring the attainment of these KPIs.

"We hope that Najib will implement the proposed KPIs and in this way leave the right legacy for the country. Only through his commitment to a genuine and holistic reform programme that includes democratisation will our prime minister be able to earn the full respect and support of the people and leave his mark on Malaysian history," the statement said.

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09 July, 2009

Teaching of Maths and Science in English - One step forward and two steps back (2)

Four issues that lead to a long-brewing row between Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his chosen successor, Abdullah Badawi, those four issues are the sudden rise in the number of import permits for cars which he claimed affected the national car project, Proton; the sale of a motorcycle company by Proton, the removal of Proton's chief executive and the cancellation of the bridge to Singapore.

For more than two decades Dr M single-mindedly drove Malaysia towards industrial development through a combination of large scale state intervention (such as launching pet projects like Proton) and by building a coterie of favoured businessmen to whom were handed government projects and lucrative monopolies.

Abdullah Badawi broke with Dr Mahathir's penchant for mega-projects to concentrate on problems like rural poverty and education while rebuilding institutions debased during his predecessor's tenure - the police, the judiciary and the civil service.

Matters started to come to a head after Abdullah's government abandoned plans for a new bridge to Singapore - a project Dr Mahathir had championed when he was in office - on the grounds that it might contravene international law.

"This is the limit," Dr Mahathir declared then. "To surrender your sovereignty to Singapore as if you are scared of them... This is a 'half past six country' with no guts.", and announcing publicly that he regretted appointing Mr Abdullah as his successor. "I'm in the habit of choosing the wrong people."

Ever since Datuk Seri Najib Razak took office as prime minister just under 100 days ago, the outspoken Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has held his peace and refrained from attacking the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

But today Dr Mahathir hit out at the Najib administration for “not listening to the voice of the people” when it decided to abandon the policy of teaching science and mathematics in English.

“I am not surprised over the disappointment and even anger towards the government’s decision on the teaching of maths and science,” he said.

“Seems to me like the government is not listening to the voice of the people,” the former prime minister said in a short posting on his blog today.

He has started a poll to ask readers of his blog if they supported or opposed the decision to now revert to teaching science and mathematics in Bahasa Melayu.

A separate poll conducted recently of voters in peninsular Malaysia by the independent Merdeka Centre showed that a majority of Malaysians wanted English to remain as the medium of instruction for the two subjects.

But yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the government’s decision to scrap the policy, bowing to pressure from nationalists and education activists.

Dr Mahathir, who had been informed by the DPM prior to the announcement, said yesterday that his recommendations were not taken into consideration.

The former PM also punched holes in the government’s arguments, and pointed out that if the government was now going to train more English teachers, they could also train science and mathematics teachers in the same language as well.

Meanwhile, PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak said the goal of raising students' English proficiency in the national education system remains even with the abolishment of the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English in 2012.

The prime minister said measures to enhance the teaching of English would include increasing the teaching/learning hours for the subject, increasing the number of English language teachers and setting up language laboratories in schools.

"If the situation permits, we may make a pass in the English language a must at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) level.

Asked about former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's disappointment over the abolishment of PPSMI which was introduced by him six years ago, Najib reiterated that the aim for English mastery remained but only the methodology and implementation would be different.


08 July, 2009

Teaching of Maths and Science in English - One step forward and two steps back

When Dr Mahathir realises that English is the key to Malaysia's future competitiveness in world markets and so 30 years of education policy is put into reverse.

The former Prime Minister of Malaysia, was spearheading a drive to improve the standard of English among the country's citizens.

The move, which involves a switch to teaching maths and science in English from an early age.

And after more than two decades in power his last great project before he retired was to once again make English the language of education.

One of the endearing things about Dr Mahathir is that while most politicians of even junior rank learn to quell their quirks and foibles, he gives his full rein.

Whether Science and Maths should be taught in English should be decided solely by considering the welfare of the students and the country.

Our people should know how to read, write and speak the national language but, at the same time, to gain knowledge, they should learn and use English

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Six years later, a generation of students have passed through the system and the vast majority of them have preferred to answer questions in English even though they were given options to answer in other languages.

But today, a sad day indeed, deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin said that from 2012, MATHS and SCIENCE WILL be taught in Bahasa Malaysia, under a government policy reversal that will affect tens of thousands of school children, and their parents, of course.

Critics of the six-year policy of using English to teach the subjects argue that it has dragged down students' performance and is particularly unfair on children who are not proficient in the language.

"I wouldn't say it's a complete failure but it has not achieved the desired objectives that it was supposed to achieve," Muhyiddin said.

"The government is convinced that science and maths need to be taught in a language that will be easily understood by students, which is Bahasa Malaysia in national schools, Mandarin in Chinese schools and Tamil in Tamil schools."

He said the government would boost the teaching of English in schools, with more time given to the subject and the recruitment of nearly 14,000 extra teachers nationwide to teach the subject.

Muhyiddin cited a 2008 survey which found that students' performance in maths and science had fallen since it had been taught in English, and that rural children were hit particularly hard.

“The gap between rural and urban students has widened since PPSMI started.

“Only 19.2% of secondary teachers and 9.96% of primary teachers were sufficiently proficient in English,” he said, explaining the Government’s decision to revert to the old system.

It is learnt that Muyhiddin briefed former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of the government's decision a few days ago as a matter of courtesy, as the teaching of maths and science in English was a policy initiated by Dr Mahathir.

Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and officials from his Ministry had met me to brief me on what the Government had already decided to do , said Dr Mahathir.

The reversal is going to affect tens of thousands, but Muhyiddin is also expected to announce plans by the Ministry to strengthen English as a subject in schools.