30 November, 2009

Ejected from Singapore

Ben Bland
The Guardian

One correspondent ponders why his working visa was not renewed by the city-state

Unfriendly reporters are jailed, assaulted or assassinated by the governments of Burma, Iran and Sri Lanka. Singapore, with pretensions to being a global "media hub", prefers tools of repression that are more subtle, yet have the same chilling effect on free speech. After a year as an accredited correspondent in the southeast Asian city-state, I was unexpectedly told last month that my employment visa would not be renewed.

The government refused to disclose its reasons despite repeated requests and an appeal from the British High Commission. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based press freedom group, condemned the decision, saying that it "shows the Singapore government's intolerance of independent and critical reporting". CPJ added that I was merely "the latest on a long list of foreign journalists who have been targeted by the government for their news coverage".

Although I reported on some sensitive issues such as rising crime, the ageing population and business links with Burma, I did not break any of the taboos that normally lead to a government reprisal – namely criticising Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father, or his son, the prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. International publications that dare to hold Singapore's ruling caste to account tend to find themselves on the wrong side of a costly libel suit. In recent years, the Economist, the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal and, most recently, the soon-to-close Far Eastern Economic Review have all been forced to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages to the Lee family.

While the international press is silenced through the courts, Singaporean journalists are cowed by the government's ownership of key stakes in all the country's daily newspapers and news broadcasters. The insidious practice of self-censorship is all-pervasive. One senior editor at a major international newspaper in Asia admitted that he line-edits every single story about Singapore for fear of upsetting the powers-that-be.

A veteran foreign correspondent in Singapore insisted that it was possible to criticise the government "if one takes a subtle rather than confrontational approach and focuses on policy issues rather than personalities". But, fearful of jeopardising his employment visa, he was not prepared to speak on the record.



29 November, 2009

1Malaysia is a grand illusion, BTN promotes unity is a farce !

Najib is apparently good at developing popular policies on the trot, and all his reform promises seem to flow so effortlessly and glibly off his silvery tongue and that worries many people who are looking more for substance rather than form.

His 1Malaysia is a case in point. How does Najib propose to give practical effect to his excellent concept given the reality of Malaysia’s race-biased policies of racial discrimination?

Does he not see a contradiction? Is he clear in his own mind what he is talking about? For now, it remains a slogan and, without a clear vision of what 1Malaysia is intended to be, it could well turn out to be nothing more than a grand illusion.

Does he really believe that he has what it takes to reconcile Umno’s pathological obsession with bumiputra rights on the one hand with the principles of inalienable equality for ALL Malaysians on the other?

1Malaysia without complete equality of opportunity is nothing if not a cruel and dishonest practical joke.

While the ministry of education higher education combined may has hundreds of experts — many overseas trained and have tasted the “spirit of multiculturalism” and the “beauty of intellectual freedom” in their classrooms abroad — who ought to have engineered a paradigm shift to help dismantle indoctrination agencies such as Biro Tata Negara (BTN).

But where are the voices in the wilderness of our public universities — those who should be speaking up against ‘Ketuanan Melayu or Ketuanan this or that race’? Why are many of these experts, instead of fighting for radical changes to affect radical-peaceful structural changes, are making big decisions to further advance the cause of racism? One-dimensional thinking prevails — the thinking that does not allow diversity of ideas and failed to develop cross-cultural perspectives. Ideas move nations but indoctrinations remove intelligence. Political masters– however corrupt to the core they are — dictates the work of our academicians.

Whoever writes history and turn that into say, BTN propaganda, controls the future (or at least they think they do). We must question what is taught during the sessions or during any history lesson; fundamentally:

* Whose history are we studying?
* Is it meaningful to me?
* Who wrote this history? Why? Who benefits?
* Who gets included and excluded in this history textbooks?
* Who’s the hero — who’s the villain?

What we want to see is a stop to the systematic and ongoing stupefication of the Malays and the non-Malays and to let them be free from being run-down emotionally by boot camp facilitators who make a living humiliating people. We have a new generation of best and brightest Malaysians to educate. .

These are extremely creative individuals who enjoy being challenged at the most respectable and intellectual levels — not through indoctrination methods such as those used in BTN camps. They want to be fed with more questions and not be shoved with BTN-type of answers. We cannot afford to turn term them into docile beings while at the same time we holler the slogan “human capital” or modal insan the world over. It will be a “modularly insane” human condition if we continue to capitalize on human docility.

The Biro Tata Negara as an indoctrinating institution was conceived by “intellectuals” who themselves are trapped in their own cocoon or glass coconut shell of “wrongly-defined” Malay-ness and in a paradigm that teaches a poor understanding of Malaysian history. These intellectuals are running around in our public universities promoting a more sophisticated and pseudo-intellectual version of racism. Inciting racial sentiments in classroom and boot camps is big business nowadays — profits made in the name of patriotism. But who’s monitoring the trainers?

Education is not about insulting one’s intelligence and instilling fear in our children. This is what the creators of BTN need to learn. In short, the indoctrinators need a good education on how not to indoctrinate. “Melayu ‘kan hilang di nusantara … ” if we allow the dumbing down of Malaysians to continue.

If Prime Minister Najib Razak is really serious in building a 1Malaysia, he should first abolish BTN forthwith. Sane Malays do not support it because it is a racial indoctrination imbibing hatred against the non-Malays and non-Muslims. Having closed BTN down, send its entire personnel for re-orientation course on humanities and sociology.

In this modern and enlightened world, a responsible government should embark on social engineering to help all races of all denominations who are living in poverty that affects their livelihood, good education and shelter.

BTN promotes unity ? My foot !


28 November, 2009

How the gov't 'looted' up to US$100 bil, and Mahathir squandered RM100 bil

The multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone scandal may be big, but it is only the latest in a long line of scandals going back to the early 1980s.

In July of 1983, what was then the biggest banking scandal in world history erupted in Hong Kong, when it was discovered that Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF), a unit of Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Bhd, had lost as much as US$1 billion which had been siphoned off by prominent public figures into private bank accounts.

The story involved murder, suicide and the involvement of officials at the very top of the Malaysian government. Ultimately it involved a bailout by the Malaysian government amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

No major politician was ever punished in Malaysia despite a white paper prepared by an independent commission that cited cabinet minutes of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad giving an okay to a request to throw more money into the scandal in an effort to contain it.

That was just the first Bank Bumi scandal. The government-owned bank had to be rescued twice more with additional losses of nearly US$600 million in today's dollars.

Ultimately government officials gave up and the bank was absorbed into CIMB Group, currently headed by Nazir Razak, the sitting prime minister's brother.

Perwaja Steel, for instance, lost US$800 million and its boss, Eric Chia, a crony of Mahathir's, was charged with looting the company. He stood trial, but was acquitted without having to put on a defense.

In the mid-1980s, the Co-operative Central Bank, a bank set up to aid the Indian smallholder community, had to be rescued by Bank Negara, the country's central bank, after hundreds of millions of ringgit in loans granted to a flock of Umno and MIC politicians became non-performing....read more here.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has squandered an estimated RM100 billion on financial scandals under the 22-year rule of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, according to a new book about the former prime minister.

According to Barry Wain, author of the soon-to-be launched 'Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times', direct financial losses amounted to about RM50 billion.

Wain writes that the Mahathir administration, which took office in 1981 with the slogan, “clean, efficient, trustworthy”, was almost immediately embroiled in financial scandals that “exploded with startling regularity”.

By the early 1990s, he says, cynics remarked that it had been “a good decade for bad behaviour, or a bad decade for good behaviour”.

The book also reveals that:

* Mahathir, despite his nationalistic rants, signed a secret security agreement with the United States in 1984 that gave the Americans access to a jungle warfare training school in Johor and allowed them to set up a small-ship repair facility at Lumut and a plant in Kuala Lumpur to repair C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

* Mahathir used a secret fund of his ruling Umno to turn the party into a vast conglomerate with investments that spanned almost the entire economy.

* Mahathir's Umno financed its new Putra World Trade Centre headquarters in Kuala Lumpur partly with taxpayers money, by forcing state-owned banks to write off at least RM140 million in interest on Umno loans.


27 November, 2009

Black Friday - Global markets hit by fresh bout of selling

Dubai has shocked investors by asking for a debt standstill at Dubai World, the government’s flagship holding company that has developed some of the world’s most extravagant real estate projects.

Dubai’s surprise move angered some investors who had been reassured by local officials for months that the city would meet all obligations on its $80bn (£48bn) of gross debt in spite of recession and a real estate crash.

Dubai also launched a restructuring of the government holding company, which oversees ports operator DP World, the UK-based P&O Ferries and troubled investment company Istithmar. Nakheel, the developer behind the city’s Palm Islands that boast celebrity owners such as David Beckham, has had to shed thousands of staff and left contractors out of pocket as local property prices halved and credit dried up.

A symbol of Dubai’s pre-crunch excess, the government company has had to cancel plans for the world’s tallest tower and a constellation of reclaimed islands, as collapsing cash flow left the developer on the brink.

The main share indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt all opened more than 1% lower before recovering.

The moves followed news from the state-owned Dubai World that it would delay repaying some of its debt.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the fall in the markets as a "setback" but said it was "not on the scale of previous problems".

"The world financial system is stronger now and able to deal with the problems that arise," he told reporters on his way to a Comonwealth leaders summit.

Earlier, Asia's markets had fallen sharply. Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei fell 3.2% to 9,081.52. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended down 4.84% at 21,134.5.

Dubai World is the centrepiece of the Gulf state's economy. David Buik, senior partner at BGC Partners, said: "You can't just say to the world: 'I don't want to pay my debts'. There is no income coming in from any of these properties. I think this is shocking PR."

The biggest underlying fear is that Dubai's problems could reignite the international financial turmoil of the credit crisis.

Chris Skinner, chairman of the Financial Services Club, said: "We're very heavily interlinked. Dubai is the key financial centre in the Middle East."

Any knock to economic confidence could lower global demand for a whole range of commodities, including oil.


26 November, 2009

The vast majority of people in Malaysia say corruption is rampant in the country !

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - The vast majority of people in Malaysia say corruption is rampant in the country, according to a poll by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research. 40 per cent of respondents say corruption is a very serious issue in Malaysia, while 41 per cent say it is a somewhat serious problem.

The United Malays National Organization (UMNO)—the biggest party in a coalition of 12 political factions known as the National Front (BN)—has formed the government after every election since the Asian country attained its independence from Britain in 1957.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as prime minister in October 2003, after the retirement of Mahathir Mohamad, who served for more than 22 years. In the March 2004 election, the National Front secured 198 of the 219 seats in the House of Representatives. Abdullah was sworn in as head of government with the biggest majority in three decades.

In the March 2008 ballot, the National Front won 140 seats in the legislature. The coalition’s share of the vote dropped drastically, from 64.4 per cent in 2004, to 50.27 per cent in 2008. According to Human Rights Watch, the most recent election was "grossly unfair" and marred by irregularities.

In September 2008, Abdullah announced his intention to step down in 2009. Najib Razak—who served as deputy prime minister and finance minister—took over as head of government in April.

Earlier this month, the anti-corruption group Transparency International (TI) released its annual corruption perception index, showing that Malaysia has dropped from the 48th place to the 56th spot in a ranking of 180 countries.

Datuk Paul Low, TI’s president in Malaysia, praised the Najib administration’s efforts to stem corruption by creating the Anti-Corruption Commission, among other things, but warned that Malaysia’s low score this year "may be attributed to the perception of little progress in combating corruption, and lack of political will in implementing effective anti-corruption measures."

Polling Data

How serious do you think corruption is in this country?

Very serious - 40%

Somewhat serious - 41%

Somewhat not serious - 12%

Not serious at all - 1%

Not sure - 6%

Source: Merdeka Center for Opinion Research
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,241 Malaysian adults, conducted from Sept. 16 to Oct. 12, 2009. Margin of error is 2.8 per cent.


25 November, 2009

Anwar Ibrahim won his defamation suit against the New Straits Times

The High Court today ordered New Straits Times Press (M) to pay RM100,000 in damages to Anwar Ibrahim over a defamatory article published in 2002.

The court also ordered the media giant to pay RM20,000 in costs to the PKR leader.

Earlier the court ruled that NSTP had defamed Anwar in its article published in the New Straits Times on March 2, 2002.

The High Court ruled that the daily may have had “sinister” motives behind an article it published seven years ago which linked Anwar financially to powerful US lobbyist, Douglas H. Paal.

But the court noted that the RM100 million Anwar is seeking in damages was a gross exaggeration.

The court ruled that Anwar can only claim RM100,000 as compensation from the daily, plus another RM20,000 in costs.

An interest rate of eight per cent shall be added to the amount.

Anwar had sued New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd and its former group editor-in-chief Abdullah Ahmad for RM100 million over the defamatory article.

The NSTP article was based on another article - 'The Bush Administration's dubious envoy to Taiwan' - that was published in the political weekly magazine New Republic's March 2002 issue. Anwar filed the suit on July 4, 2003.

Harminder said he did not quite see how ordinary, right thinking members of the community would see Anwar as an American agent.

"The purpose of dialogues, as conceded by the plaintiff, was to build strong rapport with members of the Congress and United States government," said the judge, saying that using the APPC as a vehicle does not suggest anything sinister, illegal or immoral.

"I think the community will perceive dialogues to be an excellent way to exchange ideas or even influence the thinking of the people and the countries involved. To have dialogues to build rapport and to influence change is certainly better then waging wars as recent events bear testimony.

"Looking at it in this light, I do not think members of the community will see anything wrong with the government funding the dialogues. There cannot be anything defamatory about this. Certainly, the imputation about the plaintiff being an American agent is quite baseless."

Harminder said NSTP did not try to prove the truth of its article and asserted that it was unable to show accuracy. As well, Anwar was brought in to testify that there was no truth to the article, and he was not challenged on this.

"Anwar also called the former director of investigations of the Anti-Corruption Agency, Abdul Razak Idris who told the court that he supervised investigations on the contents and allegations stated in former assistant governor of Bank Negara Abdul Murad Khalid's statutory declaration. The investigations found the allegations were baseless and sustainable."

Harminder further held that the writer had not interviewed Anwar, who was in prison at the time.

"Apart from resorting to the Internet, she did not take other steps to locate Paal. She also admitted she did not interview Abdul Murad.

"Her response to this was that the article contained matters which had already been commented upon by government officials and also subject to extensive coverage by the media.

"She should have verified the accuracy of the New Republic article. Her reasons for not doing so are therefore unjustifiable and unsustainable and therefore cannot be accepted."

Harminder said there was no urgency for NSTP to print the article, as the story about APPC and Abdul Murad's statutory declaration was stale news.

"A response was necessary as there was only one side of the story available. Considering all the facts and circumstances, the article by the defendant was not a piece of responsible journalism to which the defence of qualified privilege is available," he added.

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24 November, 2009

Tunku Naquiyuddin sues The Malay Mail.

According to Rocky Bru, Naquiyuddin , the eldest son of the late Yamtuan Negri Sembilan, says the paper has defamed him in an article " Long Wait over at Seri Menanti" ran early last month.

In his letter of demand, Naquiyuddin wants the paper to publish and apology and pay him RM50 million in damages.

"We have just replied to his letter of demand to say, in a nutshell, that the said article wasn't about him."

The writer, Rusdi Mustapha, is The Malay Mail regular columnist and a son of Seri Menanti himself.

After "Long Wait .." Rusdi Mustapha wrote two more articles on the palace: "Daulat Tuanku, What it means" (Oct 12, 2009) and "Installation of the 11th Yamtuan" (Oct 26, 2009). Both Naquiyuddin and Rusdi attended the installation of Tuanku Mukhriz.


23 November, 2009

Malaysia to re-emerging as an “Asian tiger” ?

ASIA’S tiger economies have suffered some of the sharpest declines in output during the global recession, and some fear that, because of their dependence on exports, they will not see a sustained recovery until demand rebounds in America and Europe.

Amid the shifting global dynamics that will see the development of new engines of growth and the gearing up for the next industrial revolution, Levitt Capital Management LLC (LCM) founder and chief investment officer Robert Levitt has been investing his clients’ money in emerging markets, including Malaysia.

LCM, which manages over US$400 million (RM1.36 billion) for clients globally, is based in Boca Raton, Florida, the United States. Levitt, who splits his time between the US and France, has been in Malaysia for the past three months to identify investment opportunities.

Though liquidity, or lack thereof, is an issue, Levitt is not wasting any time and in just two months, LCM has invested between US$10 million and US$15 million in stocks here, spending an average of US$1 million to US$2 million per stock.

“An investment theme that I’ve been looking at for several years is a group of countries that missed the industrial revolution, such as China and India, which are now catching up, and countries with large populations such as Nigeria, Pakistan and Indonesia, that don’t want to miss the next revolution.

“The fast growth of these countries with large populations adds an element of growth that is not really being considered by investment professionals in the United States and Europe. They are growing in affluence and income and are supported by governments trying to eliminate barriers to communication,” he said.

He sees Malaysia, though small population-wise, as among the countries “unwilling to miss the next industrial revolution”. He said Asian economies would be part of the world’s new engines of growth, in a market of increasing importance to investors.

“Malaysia will fit into that category and will become interesting again as one of Asia’s emerging tigers as it was in the 1990s, because it is opening itself to the world and especially if it is able to attract Chinese investments, which could be a huge boost to the economy,” Levitt said.

LCM also sees countries with growing affluence, emerging healthcare and aging populations in developed countries as an investment theme.

Levitt said the company looked at investment themes that would sustain for multiple years, in a world transitioning from exporting to the US and Europe for growth to increasing inter-regional trade, such as in Asia, which was growing quickly and where populations had increasing purchasing power.

Read more here

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19 November, 2009

Decision Making

A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused.

Only one child played on the disused track, the rest on the operational track.

The train is coming, and you are just beside the track interchange.

You can make the train change its course to the disused track and save most of the kids.

However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed.

Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let's take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make........ ........

Scroll down .......

Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child.

You might think the same way, I guess.

Exactly, to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally.

But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place?

Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was.

This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday.

In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsighted and knowledgeable the minority are.

The child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined.

And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

The great critic Leo Velski Julian who told the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train's sirens..

If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track! Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe.

If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake!

And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made,
we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

'Remember that what's right isn't always popular... and what's popular isn't always right.'

Everybody makes mistakes; that's why they put erasers on pencils.


18 November, 2009

R. Seetha - May she rest in peace

The woman who fed paraquat to her four children and herself apparently out of grief over her brother's death died at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah hospital (TARH) today.

R. Seetha, 31, who was admitted to the hospital a week ago with her three daughters and son, died at about 3pm of multiple organ failure as a result of paraquat poisoning.

Human Rights Party (HRP) information chief S. Jayathas said Seetha's husband Manimaran and HRP leader P. Uthayakumar were by her side when she died.

The mother of four was said to have taken the poisonous substance after being overwhelmed with grief following her brother's death.

Her brother Surendran was among the five youths, aged between 17 and 24, killed in a police shootout in Klang on Nov 9.

The housewife had also given the poison to her children, apparently telling them that if they drank it, they could go to their uncle.

The children are reportedly out of danger and in stable condition.

Human Rights Party (HRP) leader P Uthayakumar told Malaysiakini that Seetha died at 3.05pm at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang.

He said the doctor had classified the death as "poisoning due to paraquat with multiple organ failure."

Previously, Uthayakumar had warned that if Seetha died, he would take her coffin to Parliament as a mark of protest against what he described as the 'summary execution' of Indian Malaysians suspected to be involved in criminal activities.

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17 November, 2009

1Malaysia, 56th in Transparency International's corruption perception index for 2009

(Image source - Malaysiakini )

Malaysia suffered a major blow in terms of combating corruption today when it fell to its worst ranking and score in 15 years in Transparency International's corruption perception index for 2009.

In the ranking which was revealed today Malaysia plunged nine places from last year's 47th CPI ranking to 56th position.

At the same time, Malaysia's CPI index score plunged to the lowest in 15 years to 4.5. It previous worst scores below 5 were 4.8 in 2000 and 4.9 in 2002.

Malaysia has been continuously sliding down in the TI index since it best ever placing of 33 in 2002.

In 2003, when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took office, Malaysia was ranked 37. It dropped to 39 in 2005 and 43 in 2007. Last year it was ranked 48.

DAP parliamentarian leader Lim Kit Siang, in an immediate reaction, said while he had expected a poor result, he did not anticipate such a grave fall.

"This is a national shame and major blow for Najib's premiership," he said.

"I have no doubt that the mysterious death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock on July 16 and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's role as Umno's catspaw to declare war on Pakatan Rakyat instead of declaring war on corruption were major factors for Malaysia's worst-ever TI CPI ranking and score," he said.

He questioned if Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will react to the embarrassing fall suffered by Malaysia.
( Read more here )

Singapore tied in 3rd place with Sweden in latest Corruption Perception Index 2009, scored 9.2 points out of 10 points.

Top marks went to New Zealand with 9.4 points and Denmark with 9.3 points.

Switzerland had a score of 9.0.

These scores reflect political stability, long-established conflict of interest regulations and solid, functioning public institutions.

Transparency International said 180 countries were surveyed for the 2009 Corruption Perception Index, the same number as last year.

Scoring the lowest points were Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan and Iraq.

The results showed that countries perceived most corrupt were also plagued with long standing conflicts which have torn apart their governance infrastructure.

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16 November, 2009

Dr M "Anwar Ibrahim does not know anything about the economy."

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad believes that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Anwar Ibrahim does not know anything about the economy.

"He is a good speaker but not about economics. If you want to bankrupt Selangor, that's the good advisor.

"Of course, you pay him RM1, you'll get RM1 worth,"

Mahathir said that Anwar, when he was in the Cabinet as finance minister, almost brought down Malaysia to its knees during the financial crisis.

"He adopted the International Monetary Fund and made the matter worse. I don't think he knows anything about (the) economy," he said when commenting on Anwar's appointment as economic advisor to the Selangor Government.

Mahathir himself had his ambitions, initiatives, and plans, and launched his favored projects with flourishes of economic nationalism. Yet many of those pet projects entailed huge problems, flaws, and abuses. Moreover, Mahathir’s policies were inconsistent, and several of his major policy turns were in fact “U-turns” made in response to crises, some of which were created by him, albeit unwittingly.

Mahathir and Daim had Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim suspend KLSE rules to allow the leading crony UEM-Renong conglomerate to organize a bailout. That move caused the stock market capitalization to fall by RM70 billion, or 20 percent, in three days in November 1997.

Mahathir government had established Danaharta, Danamodal, and the Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee to restore banking liquidity, manage non-performing loans, re-capitalize banks, and restructure the banking system and major conglomerates. Now it has become clear that the efforts of these three agencies were variously biased and abused, in practice if not in intent.

When it took over billions of ringgit of corporate debt, the government hardly penalized the borrowers. Ostensibly this was because some of them were said to have been performing “national service” with their borrowings. Moreover, the government used public funds to “re-nationalize” privatized assets at prices far exceeding market levels. Critics charged that the regime’s cronies were doubly blessed – first by benefiting from privatization, and then by walking away unscathed from their debts and liabilities. Despite such abuses, Danaharta, Danamodal, and the Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee managed to restore essential liquidity.

Besides, the government’s absorption of corporate losses reached new heights under Mahathir. Perwaja, the steel-making corporation, is a spectacular failure, having lost more than RM10 billion by the mid-1990s. Bank Bumiputra Malaysia was scarcely better. Before it was acquired by Bank of Commerce, Bank Bumiputra had been re-capitalized several times with several billion ringgit of public funds.

As yet, there is no careful accounting of the losses associated with privatization followed by re-nationalization. Public assets were privatized at a discount, but re-nationalized at premiums that were enjoyed by their non-performing beneficiaries. In short, we have experienced 20 years of privatizing profits and profitable assets, and socializing losses and liabilities.

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15 November, 2009

BN government is waging a war of revenge against the Indian community ?

Ipoh Barat DAP secretary P. Sugumaran has accused the Barisan Nasional (BN) government of waging a war of revenge against the Indian community by ordering the police to kill suspected criminals, saying that the police had no right to pass judgement without first asking them to surrender.

“Their actions are clearly the BN’s political agenda to take revenge on the Indian community in the country.

“But how different are they from the suspected criminals they murder when their actions are tantamount to a criminal act in itself?” Sugumaran said in a statement here yesterday.

He cited the Nov 8 incident in Klang when the police had shot dead five robbers during a high-speed car chase and the recent shooting of the Deva Gang leader in Penang.

The fatal shooting of the five members of the PCO Boy gang in Klang triggered an outcry by Indian politicians including former Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders.

Police killings were among the reasons for Hindraf’s massive street protest in 2007, and helped swing Indian sentiment tremendously against the Barisan Nasional (BN) in last year’s general election.

It remains a volatile issue. Six days ago, police shot dead the five they said were responsible for at least 10 armed robberies around Klang Valley since last year.

Selangor Criminal Investigations Department chief Hasnan Hassan was quoted as saying that the men, aged between 24 and 30, had been known to injure their victims. Police also seized a semi-automatic Remington .45 pistol, five swords and a machete.

The shooting stirred even greater controversy after the sister of one of the dead suspects tried to kill herself and her four children two days ago.

R. Seetha, 33, fed weedkiller to her children, aged between three and nine, and then drank it herself. Her family said she was distraught over the death of her brother Surenthiran, 24. Her husband Manimaran said his wife was extremely close to her brother. All five are still in hospital.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reported that lorry driver M Manimaran,the husband of seetha, was arrested this afternoon and taken to the Gemencheh police station for questioning.

"The police think his wife had taken poison because of a misunderstanding with him. They are saying he caused her to attempt suicide as he was having an affair and had ill-treated his family," said Human Rights Party information chief S Jayathas.

Following that Seetha's father R Rampathy lodged a police report at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital police beat to state that the police arrest was an attempt to divert the attention away from the real situation.

He said that the police wanted to wash off any responsibilities over Seetha's situation which was caused by them killing her younger brother.

In his report he said that he came to know that the police and the hospital authorities had forced Seetha to sign a declaration to state that her decision to consume paraquat had nothing to do with her brother being killed by the police.

Selangor Criminal Investigation Chief Datuk Hasnan Hassan denied the arrest, he said M. Manimaran was only asked to help in the investigations.

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12 November, 2009

In 1Malaysia, the word "Allah" should be used only by Muslims

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said his country wishes to join Malaysia in proving to the world that Islam is in tandem with modern democracy.

He said the republic also wanted to be together with other Muslim countries in developing a model and proving that Islam too shared the same values as the other civilisations.

"Tun Musa Hitam (a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia) is right, Indonesia like Malaysia wishes to prove that there is no conflict between democracy and Islam. I had just spoken at Harvard University (in the United States) that it is not true that Islam and democracy are incompatible.

"Let us prove that Islamic values also contain values possessed by other civilisations," he said when delivering a speech at a luncheon in conjunction with his official visit to this country.

Is Islam in tandem with modern democracy in 1Malaysia ?

According to a Malaysiakini report, Weekly Catholic newspaper The Herald has lost its publishing permit for next year amid a long-running dispute over its use of the word "Allah".

The government has argued that the word "Allah" should be used only by Muslims, who dominate the population of Malaysia.

The Herald's editor, Father Lawrence Andrew said the Home Ministry cancelled the new permit without any reason.

The Roman Catholic Church has waged a two-year legal battle with Malaysian authorities over the use of the word "Allah".

The row is among a string of religious disputes that have erupted in recent years, straining relations between Muslim Malays and minority ethnic Chinese and Indians who fear the country is being "Islamised".

Earlier this month, Christian groups said that the government seized 15,000 Bibles, most of which were to be sent to the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak, where the Malay language is most commonly used among people of all religions.

The reason given by the authorities, which was that the Bibles were 'prejudicial to public order'.

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11 November, 2009

Kickdefella gets the "kick" from Pas

The movie director, who achieved blog-fame for using movie posters on his blog to take jabs at Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he was PM (the name of his blog was inspired by Pak Lah), joined the PAS state goverment of Kelantan one year before the March 2008 by-election where he used the media, especially the new media, to help improve PAS' appeal to Malaysians outside Kelantan.

From Malaysiakini:

The ongoing graft probe at Kelantan Chief Minister Incorporated (PMBK) has resulted in the sacking of its corporate liaison officer Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz.

Popularly known by his Internet pen name Kickdefella, Syed Azidi in an entry in his blog, said he learnt about the termination of his contract with PMBK at noon yesterday.

The speculation is that his sacking was related to the ongoing Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigations against PBMK chief executive officer Mohd Ariffahmi Abdul Rahman.

MACC has yet to reveal its reasons for probing PMBK and Ariffahmi, the son-in-law of Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Mat, but it is believed to be over financial improprieties.

Syed Azidi said that since the MACC began investigations into PMBK, he had been a victim of many spurious accusations by those who have been brought in for questioning.

He said he would be holding a press conference tomorrow to clear his name before returning to his home in Kuala Lumpur.

He also suggested a possible rift between his detractors and Nik Aziz, who is also the chairperson of PMBK.

"I will stand firmly behind the menteri besar throughout the investigations," wrote Syed Azidi, a staunch supporter of Husam Musa, one of Nik Aziz's protege and state exco member.

Denies involvement

Syed Azidi said that upon learning of his termination, he had met Nik Aziz to accept the termination notice and sought the latter's advice on how to take an oath based on Islamic traditions.

He said he then took an oath in front of the MB denying he was responsible for reports of corrupt practices in PMBK to the MACC.

He also denied divulging information about the corporation to Umno politician and Nenggiri state assemblyperson Mat Yusof Abdul Ghani.

PMBK is an investment arm of the state government directly under the control of the Menteri Besar's office.

Ariffahmi was appointed as chief operating officer in 2008 before being promoted as CEO two months ago. He was questioned twice by the MACC, while his chief financial officer was questioned last Thursday, where several documents including financial statements were seized.

Penamatan Kontrak Serta Merta

Tengahari tadi sejurus selepas saya tiba ke Kota Bharu dari tugas rasmi di Kuala Lumpur, saya dimaklumkan bahawa kontrak perkhidmatan saya dengan Perbadanan Menteri Besar Kelantan telah ditamatkan dengan serta merta.

Sebaik menerima makluman itu, saya menemui YAB Tuan Guru Haji Nik Abdul Aziz Bin Nik Mat, Menteri Besar Kelantan dan Pengerusi Perbadanan Menteri Besar Kelantan.

Di dalam pertemuan pada 2.45pm di Pejabat Menteri Besar Kelantan saya telah,

1. Mengucapkan jutaan terima kasih diatas kepercayaan Tuan Guru selama ini terhadap saya.
2. Memaklumkan bahawa saya menerima penamatan serta merta ini dengan tanpa rasa terkilan.

Saya kemudiannya meminta YAB Menteri Besar mengajar saya bagaimana untuk bersumpah mengikut syarak kerana saya ingin bersumpah dihadapannya bahawa,

1. Saya tidak pernah membuat sebarang aduan/laporan kepada SPRM berhubung PMBK.
2. Saya tidak pernah memberi sebarang maklumat kepada Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri Barisan Nasional dari Nenggiri berhubung PMBK sewaktu Sidang DUN yang lalu.

Setelah melafazkan apa yang ingin saya lafazkan, saya mengucup tangan YAB Menteri Besar dan meminta maaf sekiranya ada kesilapan di pihak saya sepanjang perkhidmatan saya dan meminta dihalalkan makan minum dan gaji yang saya terima selama ini.

Perjumpaan tersebut disaksikan oleh Setiausaha Politik Menteri Besar.

Semenjak Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia memasuki premis Perbadanan Menteri Besar Kelantan, terdapat tuduhan-tuduhan dari pihak-pihak yang ditemubual oleh SPRM terhadap saya.

Saya akan berdiri teguh di belakang YAB Menteri Besar sepanjang siasatan ini.

Esok saya akan membuat sidang media untuk menjelaskan dan membersihkan nama saya dari segala tuduhan yang dilemparkan dan kemudiannya akan terus pulang ke Kuala Lumpur.

Perjuangan Belum Selesai.

Patah Sayap Terbang Jua.

Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz

Kampung Demit

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10 November, 2009

Zulkifli Noordin challenged R Sivarasa to quit and battle him for the top post

"I challenge Sivarasa to step down within the next 24 hours and go against me, man to man.

"Let PKR members exercise their democratic right to decide if it is the party's policy to defend the right of Islam and Muslims or otherwise,"

Zulkifli was responding to Sivarasa's statement in an English newspaper today that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's warning to party representatives to shape up or ship out was targeted at Zulkifli.

Among others, Sivarasa said the PKR supremo's warning was aimed at people like Zulkifli who constantly issue statements contrary to the party's stand.

Zulkifli alleged that "Sivarasa and the likes of him" have their own personal agenda, and are using Anwar's political clout for their own purposes.

"I hope Anwar is aware of this because the public would one day know about it, and this would tarnish the party's image," he said.

Meanwhile, Anwar told a press conference later that he did not specifically target anyone in his warning.

"What I said was that everyone who is PKR must abide by the party's agenda and principles... no specific reference was made," he said.

The opposition leader also felt that Zulkifli had crossed the line in issuing a challenge to Sivarasa.

"I spoke to him (Zulkifli) after his press conference. I feel that he could have simply explained his position... but he went overboard with his challenge which I think was unnecessary.

"He wanted to respond to the negative perception towards him and that is not wrong, but I feel that he could have refrained from issuing a challenge," he added.

Asked if he was angry with the PKR MP over his statement, Anwar replied: "It is not fair to be angry at him because his name was singled out (in the report quoting Sivarasa)."

Anwar stressed that no disciplinary actions would be taken against both parties,and declared an end to a policy spat between the two hours after it happened.

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09 November, 2009

"correct, correct, correct" - morally wrong, legally clean !

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz struck again today. This time over the VK Lingam issue.

According to the de facto law minister, the prominent lawyer, famed for his "correct, correct, correct" phrase, had not broken the law.

The statement is the latest in a series of conflicting views over the matter, with the last coming from Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein who told Parliament on Oct 29 that the infamous video clip was still being probed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Nazri, who had opposition MPs up in arms with his remark, told the Dewan Rakyat that Lingam's alleged brokering of judges may be morally wrong, but there are no specific laws against it.

"His actions can undermine and erode the integrity of the judiciary, but things must be viewed from a legal perspective…moral and legal must be separated," he said.

The minister said that the recording of the telephone conversation involving Lingam may have just been an act or an attempt to show off on the lawyer's part.

"Lingam can say that he wants to help someone get appointed, but we don't know if he had actually gone to the (then) prime minister and instructed him to appoint a certain judge," he said.

- Malaysiakini

A video footage showing Lingam allegedly brokering the appointment of judges was released by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in 2007.

Lingam was said to be talking on the phone with former chief justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, but the latter denied this.

The video clip unleashed a furore in Malaysia and subsequently a five-member inquiry commission was set up to probe the matter found it to be authentic and implicated prominent personalities.

The Royal Commission said that the evidence presented and chronology of the judicial appointments being discussed in the video clip proved that:
  • It was prominent lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam on the telephone in the clip,
  • It was former Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim on the other end of the line, and
  • The process of judicial appointments was open to manipulation by the Executive and private citizens.
  • It was a joint operation of Lingam, Tengku Adnan and business tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan as persons responsible for ensuring the late Tan Sri Dr Abdul Malek Ahmad did not become Chief Judge of Malaya.


08 November, 2009

Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew pisses off Chinese netizens

Singapore's ever so feisty and sprightly 86 year old Minister Mentor1 Lee Kuan Yew has gone halfway around the globe to meet US President Barack Obama in Washington ahead of his debut Asian tour that will include China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Lee's tour also saw him meeting two key Cabinet members of the Obama administration - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

In his various meetings rubbing shoulders with very important minds, the sage-like Lee who has often been counted on to interpret Asia to the west did not hesitate to tell the Americans what he saw in his crystal ball.

"The 21st century will be a contest for supremacy in the Pacific because that's where the growth will be," said Lee. "If you do not hold your ground in the Pacific you cannot be a world leader."

Prior to his meetings with Obama and Clinton, Lee received a lifetime achievement award from the US-ASEAN Business Council in a high profile event witnessed by the likes of Henry Kissinger. In his keynote address delivered at the gala dinner last Thursday in Washington, Lee urged the US to remain engaged in Asia:

The size of China makes it impossible for the rest of Asia, including Japan and India, to match it in weight and capacity in about 20 to 30 years. So we need America to strike a balance.

Those comments had the effect of rubbing up Chinese netizens the wrong way. Within a few hours of the Global Times 《环球时报》report hitting the interwebs, Lee's comments attracted the fury of hundreds of Chinese netizens, but wait a minute, there's more.

In building any new East Asian architecture, Lee said the United States must be "an important part" of it, adding that "it would be a serious mistake for the region to define East Asia in closed or, worse, in racial terms."

Here is a snippet from a Global Times blogpost summarising the reactions of Chinese netizens (with translation from the Malaysian Insider):

Many of those who responded were upset and said that Lee had treated the Chinese as outsiders although they had treated Singaporeans as “among their own”.

“Lee Kuan Yew spoke for the feeling of those in the West who fear China’s rise would harm their vested interests,” said one netizen.

Another described Lee as “a political animal”, saying that while he “relies on China to develop his country’s economy, he is ushering wolves here to deal with China”.

A third posting said: “Just because he has achieved some success in Singapore, he dares to play the guiding light that shows US the way. If he has the stuff, he should go to Africa and offer tips on how to shake off poverty and achieve wealth.”

Another posting brushed off his comments as insignificant as Singapore was a small country.

“Lee Kuan Yew had made such comments likely because Singapore is a small country that needs an interplay of balances in the international arena,” said the netizen.

“However, what significance do his words carry when the reality is that for a voice to be heard and the views realised, one needs to be truly powerful,” the netizen asked.

A few highly vitriolic essays written by netizens have been given prominent positions in the blog sections of mainstream media portals. Here are just two of them:

"Lee Kuan Yew's comments reveal that Singapore is but a pawn of the US in countering China"

"Shameless dreams: Lee Kuan Yew wants Singapore to rule ASEAN like an Israel!"

The response by the Chinese mainstream media has been somewhat more measured. Most reports underscored the online fury among netizens, and then weighed in on political scientists to reflect sentiment on the ground. Here are a few headlines:

李光耀谈话显示东盟信任美国胜过中国 [China News Agency]
"Lee Kuan Yew's comments show that ASEAN trusts the US more than it trusts China"

石齐平:李光耀为何建言美国制衡中国 [Phoenix TV]
"Shi Qiping (political commentator): Why Lee Kuan Yew wants the US to counterbalance China"

李明波:李光耀说啥不必太在意 [Guangzhou Daily]
"Li Mingbo (Guangzhou Daily columnist): No need to pay any heed to what Lee Kuan Yew says"

李光耀亲美言论激怒中国网民 新加坡多家媒体辩解 [Guangzhou Daily]
"Lee Kuan Yew's latest comments anger Chinese netizens, Singapore media offer an explanation"

1 Prior to this appointment, Lee Kuan Yew held the title of Senior Minister when he passed over the prime ministership to Goh Chok Tong. In 2004, when Lee Kuan Yew's son Lee Hsien Loong became the nation's third prime minister, Goh Chok Tong became the Senior Minister and the new title of Minister Mentor was created for Lee Senior. Together, the three are often referred to as the "Father, Son and Holy Goh" of Singaporean politics.

( Source: "Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew pisses off Chinese netizens" )

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07 November, 2009

Warning Signs !

On a lawnmower I had was a big label which read: "WARNING WHEN MOTOR IS RUNNING- THE BLADE IS TURNING!"

We once bought a grocery store pizza and the instruction were on the bottom, so we turned it upside down to see how long to cook it etc., and low and behold the first instruction was DO NOT TURN UPSIDE DOWN!

Warning on a curling iron: Do Not Insert Curling Iron Into Any Bodily Orifice…

My bathroom has inadequate ventilation and therefore, develops mold spots in the lower corners. I attempted to purchase a cleaner specifically designed to remove bathroom mold deposits. The directions on the product label stated, "Only use in well ventilated areas."

Seen on the bottom of a Coca-Cola bottle: "Do not open here."

On a bottle of spray paint: "Do not spray in your face."

On a bottle of bathtub cleaner: For best results, start with clean bathtub before use.

On a container of lighter fluid: WARNING: Contents flammable!

On a bottle of hand lotion: Warning: Starts healing skin on contact.

On a box of household nails: CAUTION! - Do NOT swallow nails! May cause irritation!

Microwave popcorn is packaged so that the directions cannot be read unless you open the plastic and unfold it. Direction #1 is Remove plastic.

On a television commercial that says it cleans dentures 4 times better. Below in small print it said "Lab test: (their product) vs. water.

On a television commercial I saw it said they their denture paste was better than any other. BELOW IT, it said in small letters, vs. using no adhesive.

I have a full-face motorcycle helmet with a giant arrow pointing to the front. I can only guess that some idiot put the helmet on backwards, jumped on a bike and hurt himself. This is to protect to manufacturer from future lawsuits.

One day I went to a wall-mart out of state and I went to buy a blow dryer when I read the warnings it said "DO NOT BLOW DRY IN SLEEP"

Seen on the back of a drink bottle label: "Do not peel label off."

On a Band-Aid box: "For serious injuries, seek medical attention."

On a can of powdered infant formula: "Mix with water before serving." Like I'm going to spoon it to my baby dry!

This stupid label was found on a can of Woolite carpet cleaner: "Safe for carpets, too!"

This label was found on the BOTTOM of a box of glass ornaments: "Do not turn upside down."

On a box of Frosted Cheerio's, the logo, "Tastes so good this box never closes," is located just underneath another announcement: "To close: place tab here."

On a plastic orange juice can: "100% pure all-natural fresh-squeezed orange juice from concentrate."

I once saw an ad for some type of contest on a candy bar. The wrapper said "No purchase necessary - Details Inside."

Directions for eating Lunchables Nachos: Dip chips in cheese and salsa.

The golf carts on the course I worked at have warning labels saying, "Not for highway use."

On Clorox Fresh Care: (for cleaning out odors from fabric) "Safe to use in households with pets Warning: Fresh Care is NOT intended to be sprayed directly on pets."

While working at a large medical center in the Midwest, a construction worker was admitted with a large hammer sticking out of his head. Seems he was in an altercation with another gentleman. On the side of the hammer were the words, 'Use protective eyewear.'

On the back of the Pilots seat on NATO AWAC Aircraft (E-3A), is a sign that states: "Seat must be facing forward for take off and landing."

I came upon a bottle of children's cough medicine stating "Caution: May cause drowsiness; do not drive or operate heavy machinery"

On the label of Sterno is a warning that says, "Do not use near fire or flame." Check it out!

Seen on a container of salt:
Warning: High in sodium

Seen on computer instructions: Visit our site for further instructions. http://www.pc.com/pc/instructions.htm

On a hose nozzle there was a warning that said: "Do not spray into electrical outlet."

Seen on an industrial size washer in our local laundry establishment was the (large lettered) sign: "Warning: Do not put any person in this washer."

There is also a stroller on the market with the warning, "Remove child before folding."

I saw a car ad depicting cars driving in the water with fins like sharks. At the end of the ad in small letters it read: "Caution, do not drive underwater"


06 November, 2009

1Malaysia F1 team in, after Honda , BMW and now Toyota pulls out of F 1

Malaysia will have its own team in Formula One next year.

Malaysia are very accustomed to bragging rights – see the Petronas Twin Towers, see Proton. This F1 team idea is just another one of our gimmicks.

A Lotus-powered racing team, to be called the 1Malaysia F1 team, will take on giants like Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes and Renault in the premier motorsports event next year.

Toyota has withdrawn from Formula One, leaving Japan without a team in motorsport’s premier series. Company president Akio Toyoda apologised for the team’s failure to record a single race victory since joining F1 in 2002 despite an estimated annual budget of around $300 million.

Honda and BMW have already exited F1 to cope with the credit crunch.

The decision by the world’s largest carmaker to quit the glamour sport comes as the auto industry starts to stabilise following a sales crunch in the wake of the financial crisis. Cologne-based Toyota’s departure as a team and engine supplier deals another major blow to the sport after Japan’s number two carmaker Honda quit the series last December.

The 1Malaysia F1 team will be a partnership between the Govern-ment and the private sector, including investors led by Datuk Kamarudin Meranun (AirAsia Deputy CEO), Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes (AirAsia CEO) and SM Nasaruddin SM Nasimuddin (Naza Group CEO).

The Malaysian-owned team will also mark the return of Proton-owned Lotus, the prestigious constructors who left F1 in 1994.

Malaysia hosted its first F1 race in 1999 at the Sepang F1 Circuit and Alex Yoong was the first Malaysian to race in the championships in 2001 and 2002 for Minardi.

It’s also understood that Proton are pushing Lotus to a F1 return. Proton, which is owned by our government, being the major stakeholder in Lotus, has the power to do so. But why would they do this? Lotus themselves haven’t shown a great interest in returning in recent years, could it be a ploy to improve the marketability of the Proton brand?

If this is their plan, well, good luck, because it’s going to take a lot more than a F1 team in their repertoire to improve Proton. Although Proton have owned majority of Lotus stocks for the good part of 13 years, can’t say much of their technology has been transferred to our shores.

Instead of pouring the millions into an F1 team, why not invest in improving Proton? They’ve been cash-strapped for the past couple years as their sales have taken a downturn due to stiff competition from the like of Perodua, Toyota, Kia, and others. Their quality isn’t worth much mention either. Would it be a lot better to enter a team into F1 as a credible car manufacturer first?


05 November, 2009

The Farce of 1Malaysia, 2 MB

The legitimately elected but illegally ousted Perak Menteri Besar, Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin, had applied for a full quorum of 11 Federal Court judges to hear his appeal.

A majority of Malaysians would support this appeal not only in the interest of justice but also because they want to see the return of confidence in the judiciary. They want the judiciary to be rescued from the doldrums and regain its former glory as a beacon of justice for all Malaysians.

The judiciary is in a shambles. Some judges have contributed to that. The Executive is not without blame either. It had appointed and elevated judges who did not measure up to their oath of office to deliver justice without fear or favour. Lingam’s tape has completely tarnished the judiciary - according to some, beyond repair.

The Perak crisis has further damaged its tarnished reputation , as can be seen in the following instances.

On May 11 High Court judge, Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim, in a well reasoned decision declared Nizar as the rightful Menteri Besar of Perak.

But shockingly, in less than 24 hours the Court of Appeal granted a stay by Justice Ramli Ali who was just elevated in April – the previous month.

Then in what must be considered as super-speed, 11 days later (on May 22), the appellate court over-turned the sound High Court decision for no apparent reason and incredibly ruled Zambry as the legitimate MB.

In this instance, Justice Md Raus Sharif led a three-member Court of Appeal. Justice Md Raus Sharif was subsequently elevated to the Federal Court which raised many eye-brows.

The way Nizar’s case proceeded had created doubts that are disturbing and damaging to the judiciary.

Malaysians are still wondering why a newly elevated justice to the Court of Appeal should have heard the stay application by Zambry. No compelling reasons or justifications were disclosed for this bewildering decision. The stay order was simply granted – just like that.

This was followed by the over-turning of the High Court decision acknowledging Nizar as the legitimate MB by a three-member Court of Appeal panel headed by Justice Md Raus Sharif.

There was nothing wrong with this decision even though a written judgment was not made available. But surprisingly, Justice Md Raus Sharif was soon afterwards elevated to the Federal Court and tongues began to wag insinuating all kinds of things running down the judiciary.

Since Nizar’s case has cast the judiciary in such a poor light prompting the public to perceive that there was biasness in these cases, it is all the more important why a 11-member Federal Court should hear this case.

There is also the constitutional issue in the Perak crisis that had not been properly addressed and seriously considered thus far. The supreme law deserves to be treated with due respect and given the utmost attention by the apex court and its members.

The issues at stake are crying out for a judicial remedy involving the constitution, the rule of law, the people’s mandate, democracy and justice itself.

The Chief Justice will be doing the judiciary a great duty in the interest of justice and public expection if he were to appoint a full bench to hear this very important case tomorrow. If he fails to do this, then we can with confidence conclude there is no hope for the judiciary.

In such an eventuality, Malaysians must decide once and for all at the 13th General Elections whether they want this rotten system to continue or vote for a complete change.

- P Ramakrishnan

(P Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran)

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reported that the Federal Court has finished hearing the appeal of ousted Perak menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin.

The five-member bench however would make a decision at another date, which was not specified.

Much is at stake at this hearing which would decide not only who is the legitimate menteri besar but also set a precedent for future similar political imbroglios.


04 November, 2009

Government rejects call to release 15000 Bibles confiscated

Government has refused to release 15,000 Bibles confiscated for using the word "Allah" to refer to God, a banned translation in Christian texts in this Muslim-majority country, an official said today.

An official from the Home Ministry's publications unit said the government rejected pleas by church officials to allow the Bibles, imported from Indonesia, into the country. Christians say the Muslim Malay-dominated government is violating their right to practice their religion freely.

The government in March banned the use of the word 'Allah' in non-Muslim publications, sparking fierce condemnation from religious groups who argue that the government had no legal right to ban the use of a word that predated the Koran and Islam.

Earlier this week, Christian groups said that the government seized 15,000 Bibles, most of which were to be sent to the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak, where the Malay language is most commonly used among people of all religions.

Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) called for the immediate release of the Bibles, saying that withholding the holy books would be denying Malay-speaking believers the right to practise their faith.

The CFM said in its statement Wednesday that the reason given by the authorities, which was that the Bibles were 'prejudicial to public order', was ridiculous and offensive.

'Bibles in (Malay) have been used since before the independence of our country and have never been the cause of any public disorder,' said Bishop Ng Moon Hing, chairman of the group.

'It is this action by the authorities themselves which is an affront to good public order,' he said in the statement.

'We call on the relevant government officials who have neither the authority nor the right to act in this unconscionable manner to explain their action to the church leaders and to the public.'

According to a church leader, the government seized the bibles because of the use of the word 'Allah' in the Malay-language bibles (which means God when translated) which was banned here, as this word is to be used exclusively in Islam.

This is because the authorities feel that the use of 'Allah' in Christian publications is likely to confuse Muslims and draw them into Christianity. Therefore, it was banned from Christian literature.

The Home Ministry said the words kaaba, baitullah and solat were similarly banned from Christian publications.

Reverend Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia said that these words were borrowed from Arabic, among other languages and maintained that the community should be allowed to use them.

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