31 March, 2010

Malay first, Malaysian,Ketuanan Melayu - 1Malaysia ?

"I am Malay first, but being Malay doesn't mean I am not Malaysian," said Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

"How can I say I'm Malaysian first and Malay second? All the Malays will shun me... and it's not proper," he said.

"I can say I'm a Malaysian first but (would it be sincere)?” he asked.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched his 1 Malaysia idea when he took office last April but a recent spate of racial and derogatory remarks from his Umno party has further divided rather than united Malaysian behind his Barisan Nasional government.

His efforts to liberalise government policies and create a more inclusive, more open policy towards all races appear to have riled Malay right-wingers who now fear that his 1 Malaysia would cause them to lose their rights to the minority races.

“We started off with one basic paradigm and that is tolerance. We say we tolerate or we live in a society that is tolerant of one another. But in the concept of 1 Malaysia, being tolerant is just the beginning.

“The next paradigm is a shift from tolerance to total acceptance. This is when we accept the differences of our people, when we accept diversity as something that is unique, that provides us with a very powerful chemistry in our society... something that can actually give us strength and not otherwise,”

"The third and final paradigm of 1 Malaysia was to celebrate diversity".

Najib’s remarks came after nearly 80 Malay groups formed the Majlis Perundingan Melayu or Malay Consultative Council (MPM), ostensibly to protect and defend Malay rights, Islam and the Malay Rulers which they claim is being questioned and sidelined in recent months.

A Malay group leader said the MPM will focus on the economic rights and privileges of the Malays and Bumiputeras to ensure they are not neglected in the New Economic Model (NEM).

Ketuanan Melayu

Malays today are knowledgable. Extremist views on race and religion are not our vision of Malaysia. We aim for solidarity by encouraging participation from all sections of society for a truly democratic nation.

Confident Malays are not threatened by other races. Nor do they feel inferior or undermined. They are not spiritually bankrupt and do not get confused when non-Muslims use words like Allah.

Malaysians are aware of their surroundings - abuses of power, select Malays selfishly milking the NEP, endemic corruption, public institutions compromising their neutrality by becoming political stooges, no accountability in government bodies and politicians.

There are many disadvantaged people in Malaysia. Our urban and rural folk lead parallel lives, with little overlap. Our society consists of the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. Racism, sexism and ageism are rife. It is little wonder there is a rise in cynicism. It is amusing to see the '1Malaysia' concept in a mess because of these.

We are a young nation, and we attained independence through the collective effort of the peoples of Malaya: Ordinary Malayans - rubber tappers, tin coolies, jungle clearers, road builders, railway workers, teachers, policemen, port labourers.

They were Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Orang Asli. Some made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of independence. Must we now forget their contributions and treat their children and grandchildren not as true Malaysians, but merely as immigrants? Are we not indebted to them?

Those who champion ketuanan Melayu should concentrate on the Malay community and seek answers for the following:- Malays lacking aspiration; Malay girls outperforming boys; Malay men abrogating responsibilities towards their family, spending money on successively younger wives, leaving families severely disadvantaged; high divorce rates in Malay marriages;

Most drug addicts and HIV/AIDS sufferers are Malays; abandoned babies are primarily Malays; incest, rape and sexual crimes are committed mainly by Malays. Why not sort out your priorities, clean up your own house first and stop pointing fingers?

Sadly, few Malays are willing to admit the faults within them but would rather lay the blame on other races. And please stop brandishing the keris about. They are revered items, as any good Malay knows, and should never be used in a cheap publicity gimmick.

- Mariam Mokhtar


30 March, 2010

NEM - may spell an end to some of the special privileges enjoyed by ethnic Malays ?

Prime minister Najib Abdul Razak has unveiled a new economic plan in a push to transform the country into a developed nation by the year 2020.

The plan, called the New Economic Model (NEM), will eliminate rent-seeking and patronage viewed as stemming from race-based policies favouring ethnic Malays in place for nearly four decades.

The past policy has provided ethnic Malays with privileges in areas such as jobs, housing, education, businesses and government contracts.

He promised to review the controversial race-based policy, and said the new model will provide fair treatment for those who form the bottom 40 per cent of the income strata.

Najib called the long-promised economic reforms a "bold transformation" when unveiling them.

He said "the objectives of the existing programme, known as an affirmative action policy, are still relevant "but it is time to review its implementation".

"It will now be need- and merit-based, rather than race-based, with the top priority to "eradicate poverty, irrespective of race", Najib said.

"So there will be a renewed affirmative action policy ... It will focus on the needs of all our people,"

Najib said the government will no longer tolerate practices that support "the behaviour of rent-seeking and patronage".

The NEM is designed to boost economic growth so that Malaysia achieves the income levels of a "rich" nation by 2020, more than double its $7,000 per capita income of today.

The proposed reform comes at a time when Malaysia is losing its attraction as a low-cost investment destination to other countries in the region such as Vietnam and Indonesia.

In view of that, the NEM proposes reducing subsidies and in raising education levels.

Najib said that two subsidiaries of Petronas, the state oil giant, would become listed companies and that the Employees Provident Fund, a state fund, would sell some of its holdings to boost liquidity on the stock market.

Following are some of the highlights of what he announced:

* State investor Khazanah to sell 32 percent stake in Pos Malaysia.

* To list stakes in two Petronas units.

* Facilitate foreign direct and domestic direct investments in emerging industries/sectors.

* Remove distortions in regulation and licensing, including replacement of Approved Permit system with a negative list of imports.

* Reduce direct state participation in the economy.

* Divest GLCs in industries where the private sector is operating effectively.

* Strengthen the competitive environment by introducting fair trade legislation.

* Set up an Equal Opportunity Commission to cover discriminatory and unfair practices.

* Review remaining entry restrictions in products and services sectors.

* Phase out price controls and subsidies that distort markets for goods and services.

* Apply government savings to a wider social safety net for the bottom 40 percent of households, prior to subsidy removal.

* Have zero tolerance for corruption.

* Create a transformation fund to assist distressed firms during the refom period.

* Easing entry and exit of firms as well as high skilled workers.

* Simplify bankruptcy laws pertaining to companies and individuals to promoteo vibrant entrepreneurship.

* Improve access to specialised skills.

* Use appropriate pricing, regulatory and strategic policies to manage non-renewable resources sustainably.

* Develop a comprehensive energy policy.

* Develop banking capacity to assess credit approvals for green investment using non-collateral based criteria.

* Liberalise entry of foreign experts specialising in financial analysis of viability of green technology projects.

* Reduce wastage and avoid cost overrun by better controlling expenditure.

* Establish open, efficient and transparent government procurement process.

* Adopt international best practices on fiscal transparency.

Key benefits

The New Economic Model outlines three key benefits for businesses - to provide an equitable environment in which investors will thrive, an effective ecosystem for operations and an efficient market to facilitate investment.

On equitable environment, there will be due recognition of the rights and possibilities of business owners and the rule of law that allows businesses to manage their affairs with the assurance of a fair and credible legal system, the National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC) said in the New Economic Model for Malaysia Part 1 Report released here today.

It said entrepreneurs will be given the freedom to fully own their
businesses and work with partners they choose while intellectual assets will be protected.

Regulations for small and medium enterprises (SME) will be appropriate and proportionate to the risk faced by small businesses while business operations will be free from rent-seeking, quotas and preferential treatment.

To provide an effective ecosystem for business operations, NEAC said the government will set up a transformation fund which will help entrepreneurs to have access to special assistance during the economic transition period.

It said approvals will be faster in public services while unnnecessary
licensing and undue regulatory burden will also be removed.

In terms of human capital, employers will enjoy an efficient access to the best talent they can afford and increased flexibility and timeliness of access to SME funding.

To ensure an efficient market to facilitate investment, NEAC said that there will be confidence in the openness and fairness of government tenders while entrepreneurs will thrive in liberalised sectors.

The council said the private sector will also have more opportunities to collaborate with the public sector and government-linked companies.

With minimal exceptions, NEAC said subsidies and price controls will also be eliminated to enhance more growth opportunities.


29 March, 2010

Tee Keat, Ka Ting Accept Defeat, Dr Mahathir Hopes MCA Members Will Accept Dr Chua

Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, who lost the MCA presidency at the party's elections Sunday, said he accepted the delegates' decision with an open heart.

He said he would now concentrate on discharging his duties as the Pandan member of parliament.

"We will carry out a post-mortem; there is no need to make any conclusion at this juncture. Win or lose, we should accept the result.

"To me, I'm still a member of parliament and I will continue discharging my duties; this is my commitment to the voters in the area," he told reporters at Wisma MCA after the poll results were announced.

Meanwhile, Ka Ting said he too accepted the defeat with an open heart.

He expressed the hope that the new leadership would be able to unite the party.

"This is democracy," he said, "there will always be losers and winners."

"I hope the winners will perform their duties for the party and people. It will be up to the new leadership and it is their responsibility to unite the party," he said.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hopes that the MCA members will accept the election of Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek as party president.

"The members have expressed their choice and I hope that the whole MCA will accept it. The loser must accept it and the victor must also accept the loser as part of the MCA.

"God willing, the MCA can run smoothly," he said.

Asked whether the sex scandal involving Dr Chua would burden the party, he said the decision showed that the party members had put the issue behind them.

"If the members are mature, they have to accept the decision of the majority as in any democracy," he said.

Asked on the possibility that others may not accept the result in the context of strengthening the party he said: "We may not be able to accept but it's not our party."

Following is the list of MCA's new office-bearers after the party's elections Sunday:


1. Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek - 901 votes


1. Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai - 1,171 votes


1. Datuk Seri Ng Yen Yen (1,528 votes)

2. Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai (1,469)

3. Datuk Chor Chee Heung (1,202)

4. Gan Ping Sieu (1,202)


1. Datuk Lee Chee Leong (1,430 votes)

2. Dr Hou Kok Chung (1,312)

3. Senator Heng Seai Kie (1,267)

4. Datuk Wee Jeck Seng (1,175)

5. Toh Chin Yaw (1,142)

6. Tee Siew Kiong (1,141)

7. Datuk Gan Tian Loo (1,117)

8. Datuk Seri Tan Chai Ho (1,114)

9. Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan (1,104)

10. Lee Wei Kiat (1,100)

11. Loh Seng Kok (1,086)

12. Hoh Khai Mun (1,077)

13. Datuk Liew Yuen Keong (1,059)

14. Tan Cheng Liang (1,054)

15. Koh Nai Kwong (1,040)

16. Dr Por Choo Chor (1,037)

17. Tan Ken Ten (999)

18. Kong Sing Chu (981)

19. Datuk Chong Itt Chew (975)

20. Yoo Wei How (974)

21. Tan Ah Eng (969)

22. Wong Koon Mun (953)

23. Datuk Ti Lian Ker (929)

24. Teh Kim Poo (864)

25. Chuah Poh Khiang (851)

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27 March, 2010

'Use the ISA in 'Allah' issue' - Perkasa

Opening right-wing Malay group Perkasa’s AGM today,former PM Dr Mahathir asked for a comprehensive review to answer allegations that the Malays have stolen the country’s wealth and denied the rights of non-Malays.

“I ask that if people want to accuse, make accusations that have basis, don’t be unfair,” Dr Mahathir told the Perkasa faithful.

“I am not racist, I love my country, we are not racists ... if we cannot be fair to the Malays, then we cannot be fair to other races,” he had said.

Dr Mahathir said: “If I am wrong, prove it to me, prove it to others.”

Perkasa also urged the government not to bow to "pressure and threats" from Chinese-based political parties and groups into sacrificing bumiputera rights for electoral votes.

Chinese NGOs such as Ziong Dong and (Associated) Chinese Chambers (of Commerce) have used all available opportunities to pressure the government with all kinds of demands that benefit the Chinese community.

"In the event that their demands are not met, they would threaten to vote for Pakatan Rakyat, which is willing to surrender everything to the Chinese community,".

Perkasa's annual general meeting today also passed resolutions on three other matters - politics, education, religion and security.

They called for the preservation of the Internal Security Act (ISA), and urged the government to use the law against those who maligned Islam, including "corrupting" the purity of the word 'Allah'.

They also called for the government to change all bumiputera-to-non-bumiputera quotas to 90:10, or at least based on the country's ethnic composition, 67:37.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir Mohamed today told his successor Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to open his ears to the voice of Perkasa and other Malay NGOs.

"I would like to remind the current leadership to listen to the Malay NGOs. They represent the Malays. He should be mindful of the Malays for they are his constituents. They hold the votes (in their hands)."

"The Malays are flocking to Perkasa because Umno has failed to promote and fight for the Malay cause."

In an immediate response, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang lamented Mahathir's backing of Perkasa.

“Mahathir has come full circle, from an ultra back again to an ultra – repudiating Bangsa Malaysia and Vision 2020 which he enunciated in 1991. This is the greatest tragedy.”


26 March, 2010

Malaysia Muslims protest Muhammad cartoon :"Take some lessons from 9/11!!!"

Over 500 Muslims gathered at the Swedish embassy today to voice their protest against three Swedish dailies for allegedly "insulting Prophet Muhammad".

They gathered at the embassy after Friday prayers led by Islamist party PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan and National Malay Students Federation (GPMS) president Jais Abdul Karim.

Both leaders submitted a two-page memorandum of protest to the embassy official.

The protesters burned a Swedish flag outside the Swedish embassy, chanting "Long live Islam" and "Down with Sweden" and carrying posters that read "Take some lessons from 9/11!!!" and "We fight for our prophet."

They also burned a picture of Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who made the drawing of Muhammad's head on a dog's body in 2007 that was reprinted in papers recently.

"We demand that the Swedish government take strong action against the newspapers and against the artist," said Sabki Yusof, one of the protest leaders from the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party. "It's unacceptable what they did to our prophet."

Swedish ambassador Helena Sangeland called for more dialogue with Muslims for better mutual understanding but said no action would be taken against the papers. She said she was "very disappointed" that the Swedish flag was burned.

"The Swedish government will not comment nor take any action against media. Freedom of expression is enshrined in our constitution. It is not negotiable," she told The Associated Press. "I don't think Malaysia-Sweden bilateral relations will be affected in any way."

The controversy started when a Swedish regional daily published cartoonist Lars Vilks' satirical cartoon in 2007, which prompted protests by Muslims in the country while Egypt, Iran and Pakistan made formal complaints.

An al-Qaeda front organisation had offered US100,000 to anyone who murdered Vilks, with an extra 50,000 if his throat was slit.

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25 March, 2010

PKR's Hulu Selangor parliamentarian Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad passed away this evening

PKR's Hulu Selangor parliamentarian Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad passed away this evening at his home in Kajang after a protracted illness.

Zainal Abidin, 71, was the former Selangor deputy menteri besar.

In the 2008 general elections, Zainal Abidin defeated MIC deputy president G Palanivel by a tissue-thin majority of 193 votes.

Under the election law, the Election Commission will have to call a by-election within 60 days of the seat falling vacant.

With his seat now vacant, the country will see its 10th by-election since the 12th General Election on March 8, 2008.

The other by-elections were in Permatang Pauh, Penanti and Permatang Pasir (Penang); Kuala Terengganu; Bukit Selambau (Kedah); Bukit Gantang (Perak); Batang Ai (Sarawak); Manek Urai (Kelantan); and Bagan Pinang (Negri Sembilan).


24 March, 2010

Migrants in Malaysia Face Abuse

Amnesty International said in a report released on Wednesday that migrant workers faced exploitation and widespread abuse in Malaysia, and accused the government of not doing enough to protect them.

Malaysia, a country of 28 million, relies heavily on foreign labor, with an estimated two million foreigners working legally and another million illegal workers from countries like Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar.

More than 200 migrant workers were interviewed last July for the Amnesty report, which found that some workers were being lured to Malaysia by agents, only to find that the jobs they had been promised did not exist.

Others complained of physical, verbal and sexual abuse, and said their employers held their passports, forced them to work long hours and did not pay wages they were promised, according to the report, “Trapped: The Exploitation of Migrant Workers in Malaysia.”

The researchers spoke to migrants working in restaurants, construction sites, factories and in homes. They also visited three detention centers around Kuala Lumpur, where they found extreme overcrowding and a lack of beds, access to clean water and medication.

Amnesty said that many of the migrant workers were victims of human trafficking, and that in some cases immigration officials were involved. Last year, the United States State Department included Malaysia on a list of countries that do not comply with minimum standards to combat trafficking.

The caning of illegal migrants was also condemned in the report, which states that almost 35,000 migrants were caned between 2002 and 2008.

Michael Bochenek, the report’s author and director of policy at Amnesty International, said that migrant workers were not protected as well legally as other workers.

“We are seeing not only exploitative and abusive acts by recruitment agents and employers but really a failure on the part of the state to secure the human rights of those workers who are subject to these forms of abuse,” he said.

The human rights group is calling on the government to reform labor laws, increase workplace inspections and improve standards at detention centers.

Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam denied that foreign workers faced discrimination, telling The Associated Press that they had the same rights and protection as Malaysian workers. He said they could bring complaints of mistreatment to the Labor Department.

The government has said that it wanted to reduce reliance on foreign labor, but employers have repeatedly called for more foreign workers, saying that they cannot find enough local workers to fill positions.

Malaysia must end abuse of migrant workers

24 March 2010

The Malaysian authorities should take action to end widespread workplace and police abuses of the migrant workers who make up more than 20 per cent of the country's workforce, Amnesty International said in a report released on Wednesday.

Trapped: The Exploitation of Migrant Workers in Malaysia documents widespread abuses against migrant workers from eight South Asian and Southeast Asian countries who are lured to Malaysia by the promise of jobs but are instead used in forced labour or exploited in other ways.

"Migrant workers are critical to Malaysia's economy, but they systematically receive less legal protection than other workers," said Michael Bochenek, the report author and director of policy at Amnesty International. "They are easy prey for unscrupulous recruitment agents, employers and corrupt police."

Migrants, many from Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Nepal, are forced to work in hazardous situations, often against their will, and toil for 12 hours a day or more. Many are subject to verbal, physical and sexual abuse.

Most pay recruitment agents substantial sums of money to secure jobs, work permits and training. Once they arrive, they often find that much of what their agents told them about their new jobs is untrue — the pay, type of work, even the existence of those jobs or their legal status in the country.

Most workers have taken out loans at exorbitant interest rates and simply cannot afford to return to their home countries. Some are in situations close to bonded labour.

Nearly all employers hold their workers' passports, placing workers at risk of arrest and in practice preventing them from leaving abusive workplaces. Coercive practices such as these are indicators of forced labour.

Labour laws are not effectively enforced, and labour courts may take months or years to resolve cases. For domestic workers, who are not covered by most of the labour laws, recourse to the courts is usually not an option.

"Malaysia can and must do better for its workforce. Everyone, regardless of immigration status, is entitled to safe and fair working conditions and to equal treatment under the law," said Michael Bochenek.

Amnesty International's report concludes that many workers are victims of human trafficking. The Malaysian government has the responsibility to prevent such abuses but instead facilitates trafficking through its loose regulation of recruitment agents and through laws and policies that fail to protect workers.

In addition, Amnesty International heard over a dozen cases in which Malaysian authorities delivered immigration detainees to traffickers operating on the Thai border between 2006 and 2009.

Malaysia imposes severe and excessive criminal penalties — in some cases caning — on migrants who work without proper permits, even when errors by the employer are the reason for immigration violations.

Large-scale, public roundups in markets and on city streets and indiscriminate, warrantless raids on private dwellings in poorer neighbourhoods are common. Police frequently ask migrants for bribes. Those who cannot pay are arrested and held in deplorable conditions in immigration detention centres.

"The Malaysian government must stop criminalizing its migrant worker force and instead tackle forced and compulsory labour," said Michael Bochenek. "Until Malaysia's labour laws offer effective protection and are effectively enforced, exploitation will continue."

Amnesty International called on the Malaysian government to reform its labour laws and promptly investigate abuses in the workplace and by police. Malaysia should also make more effective use of its Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act to prosecute individuals who recruit, transport or receive workers through fraud or deception in order to exploit them.

This work is part of Amnesty International's Demand Dignity campaign, which aims to end the human rights violations that drive and deepen global poverty. The campaign will mobilize people all over the world to demand that governments, corporations and others who have power listen to the voices of those living in poverty and recognise and protect their rights. For more information visit the Demand Dignity website. (Source)

Malaysia: Trapped: The exploitation of migrant workers in Malaysia

Drawn by promises of jobs in Malaysia, thousands of men and women from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal and elsewhere in the region pay substantial sums to recruitment agents. Once they arrive, they find that much of what their agents told them about their new jobs is untrue. Malaysia’s economy depends on the labour of migrant workers yet the government effectively criminalizes them. Malaysia can and should do more, beginning with a reform of its labour laws, prompt investigation of workplace and police abuses, and effective use of its Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. (Source)

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22 March, 2010

1Malaysia women's group 'Sisters in Islam' sued over 'Islam' in name

Muslim activists filed a lawsuit against a Malaysian women's group, asking it to remove the word "Islam" from its name on the ground that it misleads people to believe it speaks for all Muslims.

The suit against Sisters in Islam, one of the most well-known non government groups in this Muslim-majority country, comes after it angered conservative Muslims by criticizing Islamic Shariah laws that allow the caning of women for offenses such as drinking alcohol.

Dewan Pemuda Masjid Malaysia's (Masjid Youth of Malaysia) executive director, Mohd Taqiuddin Abdullah, filed the summons at the Kuala Lumpur High Court Registrar's Office through Sahlan & Associates.

In the originating summons, Dewan Pemuda Masjid sought a declaration that the respondent's legal name was not Sisters in Islam.

It also sought for an order prohibiting the respondent from using Sisters in Islam as its name and identity in any pamphlet, correspondence, publication and/or statement, whether in the Internet, print or electronic media, until it was legally allowed to do so.

The applicant further sought for an order forcing the respondent to remove the name 'Sisters in Islam' from its website, printed materials and publications and to prevent the respondent from distributing printed materials which used the name Sisters in Islam. until the respondent was legally authorised to do so.

The applicant also sought for costs and other reliefs, but did not state the amount.

In his supporting affidavit, Taqiuddin claimed that SIS Forum had breached the Companies Act 1965 by using the name 'Sisters In Islam' as its organisation's name in its activities.

He claimed that based on the respondent's 'Memorandum Of Association', it was not stated that the organisation's objective was to look after the interest of Muslim women, but was more oriented towards secular feminism which supported the policy of equality between men and women.

Numerous Muslim groups have in recent months accused Sisters in Islam of misinterpreting religious principles, highlighting a divide between Muslims who demand strict enforcement of Islamic morality laws and others who fear religious intolerance is threatening the moderate practice of their religion.

Hamidah Marican, executive director of Sisters in Islam, declined to comment on the case, saying the group's lawyers need to study the suit before they can issue any statement. However, she defended the group's work as being "driven by the tenets of the Quran and Islam."

Established in 1988, Sisters in Islam has long been the most outspoken advocate of reforms involving Muslim laws that allegedly fail to protect the rights of women, such as regarding polygamy and child marriages. Its official name is SIS Forum (Malaysia), but it uses Sisters in Islam on its Web site and publications.

Sisters in Islam's troubles with other Muslim groups began last year when it tried to stop authorities from caning a woman who was sentenced by an Islamic court for drinking beer in public. Since then, three other Muslim women have been caned for having extramarital sex, the first time the punishment has been carried out on Malaysian women.

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21 March, 2010

Anwar in London

Anwar Ibrahim came to London and in two evenings he addressed over a thousand of his countrymen. That is nothing like the tens of thousands who attend opposition ceramahs back in Malaysia but at home the rain is never as dismal as it is in London at night as winter takes its time to fade.

They bothered to show up and so they were an easy and willing audience, applauding and laughing in all the right places. Some were more curious and motivated than others and even showed up both nights.

Over an hour at the LSE (London School of Economics), Anwar managed to quote TS Eliot, Winston Churchill, Alexis de Tocqueville and Islamic scholars. He also offered an explanation of the Ramayana, the famed Hindu epic. On Friday night, he referenced Samuel Johnson's condemnation of patriotism “as the last refuge of a scoundrel”, a remark made popular in the early 1980s by Bob Dylan.

He tossed these out with ease in a stark reminder of the years spent in solitary confinement with nothing but books to keep him company. Anwar's message was underlined by his past and his uncertain future.

On Friday night, he spoke of the deaths of Teoh Beng Hock and A Kugan before he said, “I understand what humility is all about. I understand what freedom is all about.”

And then he insisted that he would not be convicted this time.

Anwar spoke throughout the evening of change, that appealing concept sold so skillfully to the American public by Barack Obama that means different things to everyone.

He spoke of that inalienable right of freedom, he spoke of good governance, he spoke of justice and he spoke of equality. He was insistent that respect for individuals was paramount. Anwar was insistent that this applied to all as he argued that religion had to sit side by side with respect for the rights of others. He spoke of ideals and principles and all those soaring notions that skilled speakers can evoke so easily with language and are harder to transform into reality.

He proffered an image of a nation led by PKR that combined a more competitive economy with academic and media freedom and a “transparent” policy of affirmation action based on need......more

- Liz Chong

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19 March, 2010

Malaysia's dilemma.

Malaysia's dilemma over whether to end some of the world's most entrenched systems of racial-preference laws is coming to a head.

Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to outline this month plans to revitalize how the country's export-driven economy is run, with details to follow in June. The program might mean a push to change a decades-old system of preferential treatment for the country's majority Muslim-Malay population, which has often economically lagged behind its ethnic compatriots.

People familiar with his plans say he might move to liberalize some sectors of the economy, giving non-ethnic Malays a larger role. He also is expected to give more non-Malay students access to scholarships. He already has made it easier for foreign business to invest in areas such as Islamic finance, and last week warned Malaysians to prepare for an end to state subsidies on various commodities, including sugar.

Malaysia's race-based quota system, in place since the early 1970s, gives ethnic Malays special treatment—from cheaper housing and loans, to advantages in securing university places and government jobs and contracts. The aim is to boost the economic power of the Malay population, which represents 54% of the country's 28 million people, but which typically doesn't do as well in business or high-earning jobs as Malaysians who are ethnic-Chinese or, to a lesser extent, ethnic-Indians. Those ethnic groups make up about 35% of the population.

Many think the affirmative-action system is too rigid for global competition for markets and investment. Business leaders such as Nazir Razak, Mr. Najib's brother and chief executive of banking concern CIMB Group Bhd., have called for the so-called bumiputera, or indigenous, rules to be revised. An opinion poll conducted by the independent Merdeka Center in 2008 found that 71% of Malaysians surveyed—and 65% of Malays—agreed the laws needed to be overhauled. Trading partners such as the U.S. and European Union have singled out government procurement policies that ensure contracts go to Malay-owned business as stalling free-trade pacts.

"I don't think there's any question that we need to commit to reform, although we'll still have to help Malaysians according to their need," says Khairy Jamaluddin, a top Malay politician with Mr. Najib's National Front coalition and leader of the United Malays National Organization's youth wing.

Still, some analysts doubt Mr. Najib will be able to take his overhauls far. Voluble opponents have emerged recently, led by a charismatic activist named Ibrahim Ali, who holds rallies and lobbies government officials. Last year, he founded the group Perkasa—the Malay word for warrior. He counts former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and royal rulers such as the sultan of Selangor among his 30,000 or so supporters.

Mr. Ibrahim argues that the social stability ensured by giving a leg up to the Malay population far outweighs the benefits of opening more of what was once one of Southeast Asia's most dynamic economies to the nimble and capital-rich ethnics in Malaysian—particularly the Chinese, but also the ethnic-Indians.

"The playing field can be leveled sometime in the future, but it's only 2010," says the 59-year-old Mr. Ibrahim, in his Kuala Lumpur office amid pictures of Fidel Castro, Che Guevera and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. "But we've got to be honest and say we can't compete."

Mr. Ibrahim is focusing on what political analysts say is Malaysia's defining quandary: How and when to dismantle one of the world's most comprehensive systems of preferential treatment, in an ethnically and religiously diverse nation.
...read more here.



18 March, 2010

Malaysia's opposition coalition is struggling to stay united

Malaysia's opposition coalition is struggling to stay united as their popular leader Anwar Ibrahim focuses on his sodomy trial. Already four lawmakers have defected.

Over the past month, four lawmakers have left the opposition, shaving its bloc in the 222-seat parliament and raising doubts over its cohesiveness. Analysts say further defections are possible, as the ruling coalition seeks to regain its two-thirds majority in parliament, the minimum threshold for changing the Constitution.

Mr. Anwar, who is accused of sodomizing a young aide, a charge he denies, heads an unlikely coalition of ideological, racial, and social opposites. His popularity and charisma are widely seen as the glue that holds it together, and a criminal conviction would be a major blow.

Keadilian members say that Anwar hasn’t anointed a successor to run it in his absence, as his wife, a former lawmaker, did during his last jail term. A party executive, who requested anonymity, says Anwar refuses even to discuss the issue properly and is distracted by the trial.

Tian Chua, a lawmaker and spokesman for Keadilian, says the party is ready and would survive a guilty verdict. “Keadilian’s strength isn’t its leadership. It’s a people’s movement,” he says.

But the party has been badly stung by defections and by claims that Anwar’s erratic leadership was to blame. Last year, the opposition lost control of Perak, one of five states it won in March 2008, after similar crossovers by Keadilian assemblymen that infuriated the two other parties in the coalition.

Mr. Chua admits that the party has had trouble disciplining its ranks and needs to better scrutinize its candidates. “In an election, it’s quite easy to bring everyone together with a manifesto. But when you come into power the issue of implementation becomes key,” he says.

Pressure is starting to show on the opposition, which has struggled to raise funds while refusing to hand out no-bid contracts to party insiders, as UMNO is known to do. Anwar has campaigned on an anticorruption platform, seeking to capitalize on public anger over the issue, but some donors have complained of meager returns, says Chua.

The opposition also lacks a common policy platform that satisfies the three parties, which include a conservative Islamic party and a Chinese-oriented party. But observers say the same goes for the UMNO-led ruling coalition, which relies on support from the mostly Christian states of Sabah and Sarawak to fend off the opposition’s challenge.

“They’re still more united by what they’re against than what they’re for,” a Western diplomat says of the opposition. “But they’re still united.”

(Source: Malaysia opposition embattled by leader Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy trial )

Meanwhile,UK Parliament passes Early Day Motion on Anwar Ibrahim:

EDM 1092


Corbyn, Jeremy

That this House recognises Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's contribution to promoting democracy in Malaysia and peace and understanding between the Muslim world and the West; is deeply concerned at the charges laid against Anwar Ibrahim and that his current trial flouts international standards of fairness and adherence to the rule of law; notes that this trial resembles the one he faced in 1998 in which the conduct of the judiciary was condemned by Malaysians and by the international community; further notes the renewed exhortations by international human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and prominent leaders from Commonwealth nations including the Right honourable Paul Martin of Canada and the Right honourable Michael Danby and 59 other elected representatives of Australia for the Malaysian government to drop the charges against Anwar Ibrahim; and calls on the Malaysian authorities to bring an end to the harassment and persecution of members of the political opposition.

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16 March, 2010

Pakatan MPs walk out

Opposition MPs walked out of the House when they were not allowed to debate on the status of Inspector-General Musa Hassan in the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday.

The motion at hand then pertained to an order by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to the IGP to keep the road leading to the Parliament building free of obstruction and traffic.

The motion is a regular routine by the Government at the start of each Parliament session to ensure that the House representatives have access to the building.

The opposition benchers had wanted to use the motion as a platform to debate issues relating to the police transition plan involving the IGP and other senior officers.

Kamarudin Jaafar (PAS - Tumpat) had stood up to ask that the motion be debated, claming that there is confusion regarding the status of the IGP because of impending changes in the police force.

Hishammuddin had said on Monday that there would be changes in the force involving top police officers in the near future.

He had added that there would be an announcement of the changes within six months.

Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Ronald Kiandee disallowed Kamarudin's call for debate.

He approved the motion, tabled by Hishammuddin, following a majority support from the House.

The opposition MPs later held a press conference outside the hall to explain the Pakatan Rakyat's stand on the motion.

Nasaruddin Mat Isa (PAS - Bachok) said the non-debate on the motion convinced them of the IGP's incompetency to continue his contract of service, which is due to end this year.

Lim Kit Siang expressed regret at the Speaker's decision to decline the debate as there were some crucial points that he was going to present on the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry on the police force.

"Although it is is a convention for a motion like this not to be debated because it is very straightforward, it doesn't mean that we can't have a debate when the MPs who want to debate and I have also debated such motions before," Lim told reporters at a press conference at the Parliament lobby.

The Ipoh Timor MP said that he intended to raise the matter relating to a newspaper report claiming IGP Musa Hassan's resignation.

The editor-in-chief of China Press has been told to resign over a report which claimed that inspector-general of police Musa Hassan had tendered his resignation, veteran MP Lim claimed.

Should the editor refuse, the popular Chinese daily will face three to six months' suspension.

Lim said whatever China Press had done did not warrant such drastic action on the part of the Home Ministry.

"What's the big a deal about the China Press report? It was a mistake, yes. It should have been (reported that Musa was to resign in) September but they said March 25," said Lim.

"(Newspapers in) other countries that report about presidents and prime ministers going to resign, (they) go through corrections and then, of course, their credibility suffers.

"But what is the big deal here with the Home Minister breathing down the neck of the media?" he asked.


15 March, 2010

Home Minister confirmed that Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan will be replaced .

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has confirmed that Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan and several other police top brass will be replaced but did not specify when it would take place.

Hishammuddin said that a transition process was already in place, with details to be decided by the government.

“I already know who is going to replace the IGP. I already know who is going to replace the Director of the Commercial Crime Division. I already know those who will take over, so there is no need for us to speculate and report news without basis,” said Hishammuddin.

Interest over Musa's tenure stems from the many controversies surrounding Musa. He is the pet peeve of opposition parties who accuse him of consorting with Barisan Nasional to harass dissidents.

He has also been implicated of allegedly fabricating evidence along with Attorney-General Abdul Gani Pail in the infamous Anwar Ibrahim 'black-eye' incident.

More recently, he was accused of having a hand in the apparent power struggle within the police force which eventually led to the suspension of then Commercial Crimes Investigation Department director Ramli Yusoff.

Meanwhile, Hishammuddin also confirmed that the ministry has called in representatives from China Press today for clarification on their report last week which alleged that Musa had resigned as IGP.

Last Saturday’s China Press report had claimed Musa would retire on Police Day on March 25 and that he would be succeeded by his deputy, Tan Sri Ismail Omar.

Hishammuddin’s ministry subsequently issued a show cause letter to the newspaper under Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (Act 301). Under the law, action can be taken against those responsible for publishing false news including the printer, publisher, editor and the writer.

Today, the Home Minister said that representatives from China Press had been called by the ministry to provide an explanation.He said that while the ministry will listen to their explanations, if found to be unsatisfactory, action will be taken against the newspaper.

On the controversy over the use of the term 'Allah' by the Catholic newsletter the Herald, Hishammuddin said negotiations with various stakeholders are currently underway to resolve the matter out of court.


13 March, 2010

Musa denied he had sent in a letter of resignation.

Image taken from Malaysiakini

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has denied a report by a Chinese daily that Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan had tendered his resignation letter.

Describing the report as a lie, Hishammuddin said he had instructed the ministry's secretary-general Mahmood Adam to ask the newspaper editor to explain the report.

Earlier Saturday Musa had denied a report that said he had sent in a letter of resignation.

"I am shocked how such a report can be published, as if it was planned by certain quarters who have interests," Musa said.

While questioning the source used by the newspaper concerned in the report, Musa said the report had no basis whatsoever as he had not forwarded any resignation letter as reported.

"If there are any changes, I will know... I have an excellent relation with the Inspector-General of Police and his deputy," said Hishammuddin.

"It's impossible that they can resign without my knowledge".

"The report is a lie and I will take a stern action," he said.

Reports of Musa's resignation - five months before he was due to end his contract - came a day after former No 3 in the police force, Ramli Yusuff, was acquitted of failing to declare his multi-million ringgit assets.

Ramli has accused Musa himself of having links with underworld figures and the man behind his persecution, leading to him being charged by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and his suspension from the force.

Musa, 59, who is the eighth IGP, has served in the top post for four years since he was appointed on Sept 12, 2006.

He was given a two-year contract after he reached the compulsory retirement age in 2007.

Last year, his contract was renewed for another year.

The opposition kicked up a storm over the renewal of his contract.

A controversial figure, he was the investigation officer of the first Anwar Ibrahim sodomy case in 1998.

He was accused by Anwar of colluding with attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail, who was then a senior public prosecutor, in fabricating evidence against the former deputy premier.

However, following a poice report made by Anwar two years ago, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Aziz cleared Musa last March when he announced that an independent investigation panel found that the top cop was not involved in fabricating evidence.

Meanwhile, the Home Ministry issued a show-cause letter to the China Press hours after the Chinese daily published a front-page news that inspector-general of police Musa Hassan had resigned.

"The report has been verified to be not true," the ministry said.
It added that China Press had been given seven days to give a written reply to the show-cause letter which was issued under Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (Act 301).

Under the Act, action can be taken against those responsible for publishing false news including the printer, publisher, editor and the writer.
If convicted, offenders are liable to be jailed not more than three year or fined not exceeding RM20,000 or both.


12 March, 2010

Rosmah 'actively champion womens' issues and advocate womens' rights and interests' ?

THE Penan girls who were raped can be considered collateral damage for the Sarawak government and its state-sanctioned timber companies. The illegitimate children and the exploited Penan community are mere side-effects in the push for progress.

It is no longer about the Penan girls and the timber workers who raped them. Actually, it is about the rape of our system of administration of justice.

- Mariam Mokhtar

Recently, three Sarawak women activists handed a petition to the prime minister's wife in an attempt to engage her support in bringing justice to the Penans.

This unprecedented action of approaching Rosmah Mansor during a state banquet will undoubtedly raise questions of breaches of security during these official functions. Might heads roll because of an unguarded moment by protection officers, when three 'concerned individuals' successfully presented a letter and a sheaf of documents to Rosmah?

Surely, what is more important is whether these activists manage to rekindle the questions of breaches of trust between the Penans and the Sarawak government, for its failure to bring justice to the raped Penan girls.

Others failed to speak up

Ironically, Rosmah was seated beside Empiang Jabu, the wife of the state deputy chief minister, Alfred Jabu. His callous remarks arrogantly described the Penans as 'good storytellers' and that the reports 'generated' were 'lies'.

And as if to increase the poignant agony of the Sarawak detractors, Rosmah was flanked on her right by Fatimah Abdullah, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Department, who like the rest of the well-oiled government machinery, also spectacularly failed to speak up for the Penans.

Official photos deftly captured the stunned and shocked expressions of these two women, on either side of the PM's wife, as the three activists from the Malay, Chinese and Iban communities, appealed to Rosmah's motherly and caring instincts to help the Penans.

Thus far, the official line has been to deny that the loggers sexually exploited the Penans. Instead, the Penans have been victims of a smear campaign and depicted as primitive and promiscuous liars, who are not willing to embrace logging as a form of development.

In a BBC Radio 4 interview on the flagship Today programme, Sarawak's Minister of Land Development, Dr James Masing, replied, "I think this is where we get confused. I think... the Penan are a most interesting group of people and they operate on different social etiquette as us... a lot this sex by consensual sex."

Undaunted, the BBC correspondent Angus Stickler related how Mary, a young Penan teenager, had been dragged from her room, was beaten unconscious and raped after she had hitched a ride to school on a logging truck, how she and some other girls became pregnant as a consequence and that the federal government task force had confirmed that 10-year-old girls had been raped by loggers.

Incredibly James Masing told the BBC, "They change their stories, and when they feel like it. That's why I say Penan are very good storytellers."

The findings of the Task Force from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development Task Force, confirmed that rape and other types of sexual exploitation had taken place. The full report of over a hundred pages is a heart wrenching portrayal of the suffering of this marginalised community. It took 8 months to compile and more months before being made public.

If the roads that are built by the timber companies are supposed to bring the Penans development, then these same roads transport the evil people who destroy their livelihood and who cruelly snatch away the innocence of their children.

Loggers searching for girls

The Penan people, known for their respect of the land and who live off it by hunting, tragically find that progress reverses the roles of the hunter and prey; they end up being hunted by these loggers, who raid their villages in search of girls.

In January 2009, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Musa Hassan promised to give his full backing to the joint Police-NGO
 investigation into the allegations of rape by those employed in the Sarawak logging industry. But today, both the police and government have announced that they lack the capacity and funds to conduct proper investigations, and that the case is closed....more


11 March, 2010

UMNO using the police to intimidate Pakatan Rakyat leaders ?

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today charged that the Umno-led Barisan Nasional are showing signs of desperation by using the police to intimidate Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders.

Anwar claimed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife are behind the campaign of police harassment against PR.

“I sense this continued harassment by the police by the behest of the political masters and clearly under the administration of Datuk Seri Najib and Rosmah. There is this intimidation using the police. I had to deal with three police reports filed by the police themselves and one by a so called concerned citizen,” he told reporters here.

The four police reports were lodged on the 16, 17, 22 and 27 of February.

Anwar said that Umno were using scare tactics to stop the democratic process in the country.

“We strongly resent and protest this continued intimidation by the police force. We also strongly protest how the police is used by Umno leadership of Datuk Seri Najib and Rosmah to hinder the process of democracy in the country. If this is the way to scare us then I would like to guarantee on behalf of Pakatan Rakyat that it does not even bother us a bit

“When authoritarian leaders sense that there is a demand for change and sentiments against their oppressive policies, they normally resort to punitive and oppressive measures,” he said.

Anwar gave a statement to the police today — joining the list of Pakatan Rakyat leaders who have been asked to meet the police over their recent public speeches at four gatherings.

Three uniformed and two plain clothed police officers arrived from Penang to interrogate Anwar at party headquarters at noon.

The interrogators from Timur Laut were led by ASP Mohd Syukry Moh Ali.

Anwar confirmed that he is currently being investigated for unlawful assembly, sedition and criminal defamation.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the interviews are a result of police reports made at Batu Maung, Kepala Batas, Kampung Baru and Kubang Semang.

At these gatherings Anwar spoke about the legislature’s and judiciary’s loss of credibility, the lost jet engines, the death of the Mongolian model, the second sodomy trial and developments in ‘Allah’ controversy.

“What is this? What is the purpose? Why is there apparently mention of the Altantuya murder, mention commission of corruption regarding the procurement of two submarines and there is mention of the jet engines and sodomy trial. Why is this a case of concern by the police? Unless there is of course rioting and disturbances. These are peaceful assemblies, many of them with permits and some of them are just tea parties,” he said.

So far those questioned have been Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, R. Sivarasa and Salahuddin Ayub. The latter two being vice-presidents of PKR and PAS respectively.

Sivarasa and Salahuddin have had their statements taken following accusations that they made seditious statements at a public rally in Penang early last month.

Salahuddin disclosed that the police inquired about portions of his speech which touched on ‘Allah’ but the Kubang Kerian MP refused to answer their questions.

Sivarasa, also the Subang MP, was asked about his comments on Anwar’s sodomy trial which is ongoing.

Anwar also urged the police to be independent when exercising their duty.

“Our advice to the police is focus on the problem and security. Don’t be servants of the Umno corrupt leaders. Let political leaders collide at the Parliament and don’t be used by political leaders and concentrate on the problem of increasing crime,” he said.

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani - The Malaysian Insider

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09 March, 2010

Bolehwood presents : The New Malay Dilemma

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak apparently has decided that taking the wraps off his long-awaited New Economic Model, as he calls it, is politically too dangerous for now.

According to local reports, although Najib who doubles as Malaysia's finance minister, had been scheduled to introduce his new policy at the end of March, it is apparently off till June and he may not even introduce it himself, letting someone else take the heat.

Najib appears to be caught in a trap of his own, with a widening gap between what he would like to do as an economist and what a major chunk of his Umno constituency wants.

What they want is not only to not forward but to repeal the limited reforms he has already put in place, and they are increasingly angry about it.

That is playing havoc with his so-called 1Malaysia campaign, designed to bring the country's fractious ethnic groups together and rebuild the flailing Barisan Nasional ruling coalition.

One pessimistic aide to a prominent Umno politician told Asia Sentinel it is even possible that Umno could be superseded by a growing organisation of 80-odd Malay non-governmental organisations cobbled together in recent weeks under the title Malay Consultative Council, which is seeking to push the government to maintain so-called ketuanan Melayu, or Malays first, a slogan embraced by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The assurance by the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that no Malaysian would be sidelined in the New Economic Model (NEM) is not convincing when from all indications, the NEM has been hijacked by Neo-NEP Umnoputras like Perkasa, forcing another delay in its announcement.

When Datuk Seri Najib Razak became Prime Minister last April, he announced that the government would introduce a new economic model for the country to ensure that Malaysia makes a quantum leap to escape the middle-income trap to become a high-income country through greater emphasis on innovation, creativity and competitiveness.

In May last year, the Second Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said the new economic model would be announced in the second half of the year.

Time is clearly of the critical essence to launch a new economic model as Husni subsequently admitted in a very frank speech in December that the country had lost a decade in economic stagnation - Lim Kit Siang

Najib first talked about a new economic plan a year ago, but its introduction has been pushed back several times. Even as late as Feb 8, during a two-day conference in Kuala Lumpur, Najib told reporters that his administration is open to suggestions for what would go into the policy.

Principal elements are expected to be the removal of subsidies and further liberalisation of the economy that appear certain to bite into Malay privilege.

Absolute rule?

Many in Najib's cabinet want nothing to do with the plan, concerned that the voter rebellion that began in the disastrous March 2008 elections will grow.

The Malay NGOs are streaming into a perceived political vacuum for Malay ultranationalists, according to a source in Kuala Lumpur.

No one really knows at this point how strong they are despite the noise they are making.

There has been no independent polling. They are feeling marginalised by Najib's centrist politics and would like to take the country back to the days of absolute Umno rule, the course say.

So they remain frustrated and angry.

Any time word gets around that the fundamentals of the NEP are being tampered with, Umno politicians rush to the microphones to say it isn't true.

Mukhriz Mahathir, the former premier's son and a deputy International Trade and Industry Minister in Najib's government, for instance, was the latest to insist to reporters that the new policy "is in line with previous policies particularly the New Economic Policy."

Loss of perks

Najib has repeatedly said the country is confronted by a new reality, given the stagnating economy, which shrank by 3.3 % in 2009 and faces relatively anemic 3.7 % growth in 2010 and 5% in 2011.

Last year, he removed a requirement mandating ethnic Malay participation in 27 economic sub-sectors as well as removing a requirement that 30 % of shares in IPOs go to ethnic Malays.

That has played a major role in stoking ethnic Malay anger, although some observers say the leaders of the Malay Consultative Council are actually Umno wheelhorses who fear the loss of their perks instead of the wider community.

One of the leaders of the Malay rights groups is an NGO called Perkasa, which is headed by Independent MP Ibrahim Ali, a long time Mahathir ally and former Umno stalwart.

It has been holding strident rallies across the country, demanding close adherence to the Malays-first policy. Some pessimists say Perkasa members are trying to provoke the Chinese into a confrontation with the Malays that will result in the imposition of the country's draconian Internal Security Act ( ISA).

One Malay businessman told Asia Sentinel that "Umno leaders who are not particularly sympathetic to its aims are climbing onto the speakers' platforms to endorse them because they're afraid not to."

Others say they aren't particularly concerned and that the Malay Consultative Council and its member organisations more resemble the Tea Party movement in the United States, which is loud, angry and vocal but which almost certainly will remain a splinter group.

Asked about the concern that the Malay Consultative Council would grow big enough to replace Umno, and particularly Perkasa, a political analyst said: "Perkasa's appeal is not broadly based."

They may shout the loudest but it will take more than that to replace Umno.

Umno needs other component parties in Barisan to sell their multiracial appeal.

I doubt the component parties in Barisan can work with Perkasa as closely as Umno.

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08 March, 2010

Will Soi Lek do another stunner ?

Shah A Dadameah
Malaysian Mirror

DR Chua Soi Lek has become a regular 'shocker' in MCA politics.

After fighting so hard to get back his deputy presidency, his stunning resignation from the post last Thursday signals that he has yet another card up his sleeve to surprise his party members again.

Chua had held various prominent posts in his MCA career, spanning state politics in Johor and national-level action where he had been Labis MP, health minister, party vice-president and a 'now you see, now you don't' deputy president.

He resigned as VP and from all his political an d public offices in January 2008, due to the eruption of a sensational sex scandal, a rare occurrence in Malaysian politics.

Two DVDs were widely circulated throughout Johor, showing Chua having sex with a young woman. The DVDs were believed to be wireless hidden camera recordings in a hotel suite.

He admitted to being the man in the video clippings but claimed no involvement in the filming or production of the DVDs.

He also accused his critics of trying to be 'holier than thou' and hypocrytes.

Turn of events last six months

The scandal, however, did not stop him from targetting higher positions in the MCA political ladder.

So, when the party polls came around in October 2008, instead of fighting to regain his vice-president's post, he went a notch higher.

Against the odds, he stunned party members by beating then secretary-general Ong Ka Chuan and two others in the deputy presidency contest.

Ong Tee Keat was elect ed president.

However, Chua and Tee Keat could not see eye-to-eye and it became an arduous task for both to run the MCA together.

Using the sex videos as the tool to get Chua out of the way, Tee Keat and his presidential council sacked Chua in August 2009 on the grounds that he h ad tarnished the party's image.

After his explusion, Chua allegedly stirred an uprising against the party president and a series of moves led to the infamous 10.10.10 extraordinary general meeting last October.

Some delegates challenged Chua's removal but in a confusing turn of events, the meeting decided to reject his appeal for reinstatement while Tee Keat did not survive a vote of no confidence - by just 14 votes.

It was at this stage of the MCA turmoil that a third force emerged and the 'puppet master' was identified as Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai, supported by Youth chief Wee Ka Siong and MCA Wanita leader Chew Mei Fun.

Chua seemingly resented Liow's intrusion into the MCA's power broking scheme and plotted to be reinstated to the deputy presidency by getting the Registrar of Societies (RoS) to endorse the line-up of elected members in the party's October 2008 polls.

So, in another surprising turn of events, Chua returned as the Number Two in the party.

More unexpected, he announced on Oct 22 last year that he would stay loyal to Ong and the two men worked like brothers on what they called 'the greater unity plan.'

Liow, however, had other ideas. He worked behind the so-called MCA integrity restoring task force with Wee and Chew on a campaign to deride the plan and to get the bulk of young MCA members to their side.

For a brief spell between the RoS ruling and the Oct 10 EGM, Liow was appointed to the No 2 slot.

Marriage of convenience

Party insiders said if Chua is going to surprise the party again, it could be through a marriage of convenience with Liow.

The two shocked Tee Keat to lead two-thirds of MCA central committee members to quit last Thursday, triggering new internal elections.

Tourism Minister Dr Ng Yen Yen, also an MCA vice-president, quit on the eve of the party's Sunday annual general assembly; becoming the 22nd person to vacate a central committee post.

Party rules state new polls for leadership posts must be called within 30 days. Dutifully, the party has fixed March 28 as the date of the new polls. Nomination day is six days earlier.

The resignations appear to deepen the crisis in the party although some chose to say that it could end the in-fighting that had been going on ever since Ong Ka Ting and Chan Kong Choy quit as president and deputy president in the aftermath of the MCA's worst electoral showing in the March 2008 general election.

When the two left, they did not leave any successor.

Instead, it was a free-for-all party elections in October , which saw Tee Keat and Chua coming in as No 1 and No 2 respectively.

Since then, one turmoil had followed another and, somehow, each new crisis had centred on Chua.

One school of thoughts is that Chua had been fed up of Tee Keat using him to checkmate Liow. So, while the going is still good, he quit his position.

The other train of thoughts is that it was Chua who had been using Tee Keat to project himself (Chua) as one who has repented from his alleged immoral ways.

Nevertheless, whoever gets elected on March 28, will only be there for a a brief stint since the triennial MCA election is due to be held again in 2011.

Branch meetings and elections at that level will kick off around March next year in the build up to the triennial polls.

On the surface, therefore, it does not makes sense to have a short-term lineup – unless the reason is to weaken Tee Keat's leadership before 'going in for the kill' in the actual polls.

Will Chua do another stunner?

Tee Keat plans to have direct presidential elections and a major resolution at Sunday's AGM, was passed by the delegates, which will will broaden the current base of 2,400 central delegates.

And, confidently, he has declared to the delegates of the assembly that he "will continue this journey' and be with the members through thick and thin.

This of course means that he will defend his post in the face of the twin challenge from Chua and Liow.

Between Chua and Liow, political observers will be more interested to see the movements of the former deputy. Will he do another stunner?

Will Chua go for the to post, which Tee Keat is likely to defend?

And will he work with Liow, so that the latter goes for the No 2 while Chua goes for the top post?

Or will Chua, as speculated, team up with former first vice-president Kong Cho Ha?

And, if he fancies to be a ladies' man, Chua could work with Ng, with support from Chew and her Wanita MCA crew.

Would anyone be shocked if that happened?

- Malaysian Mirror

SHAH A DADAMEAH is senior editor of the Malaysian Mirror.

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07 March, 2010

Better late than sorry !

The PKR supreme council has decided to boot out Zulkifli Noordin, the Kulim Bandar Baru MP who has been a thorn in the flesh of the fledging party.

The meeting was chaired by party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Her husband, Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the PKR de facto leader was also present along with deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali.

At a press conference following the supreme council meeting, party secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution said that the decision to sack Zulkifli was unanimous.

By sacking Zulkifli, the party has opted to cut off the wound which has been left festering for over a year.

The supreme council has requested Zulkifli to vacate his parliamentary seat "with immediate effect" but he is unlikely to do so.

However, Saifuddin said he is allowed to appeal the decision within 14 days.

Asked if he does not want to vacate the seat, Saifuddin stressed that PKR members subscribe to an oath to serve the people.

"We feel he has violated the oath with his actions," he said.

Questioned if Zulkifli wants to be an independent MP, the party secretary-general said it would be up to him.

"He is elected under the PKR ticket and he should resign. If he is a man of integrity which he claims he is, he would vacate his post."

Charges against Zulkifli

According to the party constitution, Zulkifli could be given a stern warning, suspended or sacked from the party.

A disciplinary board had been tasked to probe Zulkifli over a police report he had lodged against PAS Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and for his scathing criticism of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and also PKR in a television interview which was aired by TV3.

The Kulim Baru MP had however claimed that he was brought before the board for his opposition to the party's stance on the 'Allah' issue.

Zulkifli, an ordinary PKR member, had walked out of the disciplinary board in protest against the presence of non-Muslim members on the panel.

The board had subsequently recommended that Zulkifli be kicked out from the party.

“You cannot criticise or lodge a police report against a friendly partner within Pakatan. You also do not criticise the party openly. There are proper channels to do so and he did not do it,” said Saifuddin in explaining why the party went for the harshest punishment against Zulkifli.

“Such actions would be deemed as going against the party and our Pakatan partners. Hence such action should be taken and we hope it would also educate our 500,000 party members to abide by the party discipline and rules,” he said.


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