22 January, 2011

Does Kita, the People’s Welfare Party, Stand a Chance to Change the Country?

Kita, the People’s Welfare Party, aims “to bring back the politics of goodwill and compromise that started this nation 54 years ago … so that politics and public service can be made honorable once again,” said its president, Zaid Ibrahim.

Neither of the current alternatives would do, he said.

The governing Barisan Nasional coalition “will always be autocratic and authoritarian,” while the opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim “says and does whatever it takes for the sake of winning elections.”

There was grand, idealistic talk of defending the secular nature of the 1957 constitution, ending discrimination, fighting ideas of “superiority and hegemony” (a reference to the Malay supremacists who would consign the country’s Chinese and Indian citizens to permanent second-class status) and ensuring “equal opportunities for all.”

Big words indeed for a new party, however laudable — especially given that Barisan and its predecessor, the Alliance, centered around three parties representing the country’s main races, the Malays, Chinese and Indians, have won every national election since independence.

Many would ask, too, why Zaid needs to start another party....more


20 January, 2011

Singapore, Malaysia and the WikiLeaks - the leak is finally leaked.

On Dec. 12, Asia Sentinel printed a story relating WikiLeaks revelations from Singapore diplomats about Malaysian political affairs, particularly concerning Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. Because the cables have seemingly never been accessible through the various WikiLeaks websites and mirror sites, some readers have questioned whether they exist.

17. (S//NF) Turning briefly to Malaysia, the Australians said that Singapore's intelligence services and Lee Kuan Yew have told ONA in their exchanges that opposition leader Anwar "did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted," citing unshared technical intelligence. ONA assessed, and their Singapore counterparts concurred, "it was a set up job-and he probably knew that, but walked into it anyway."

C O N F I D E N T I A L SINGAPORE 000310 SIPDIS SIPDIS NOFORN E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2028 TAGS: PREL, MY, SN SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S DISCUSSION WITH MFA PERMSEC HO ON MALAYSIAN ELECTIONS REF: KUALA LUMPUR 160 (NOTAL) Classified By: Ambassador Patricia L. Herbold for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 1. (C) The Ambassador and MFA Permanent Secretary Peter Ho met over lunch on March 12, discussing issues including Singapore's perceptions of the elections in Malaysia (reftel.) Ho said that in Singapore "everybody was shocked" by the extraordinarily strong showing by the opposition in Malaysia. People knew that change was coming, perhaps one election down the road, but did not anticipate that change could come this fast. 2. (C) Ho said that on the ruling National Front (BN) side, PM Abdullah Badawi is probably done for politically, despite having been sworn in again as PM on March 10. Former PM Mahathir Mohamad will keep throwing stones at Abdullah. The political knives will be out for Abdullah's son-in-law UMNO politician Khairy Jamaluddin, whom nobody likes because he got where he is through family ties. As for Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, he is an opportunist. Although he has not been critical of Singapore, he will not hesitate to go in that direction if it is expedient for him to do so. Najib's political fortunes continue to be haunted by the Mongolian murder scandal. (Note: The scandal involves the ongoing trial of Najib's former political adviser Abdul Razak Baginda for abetting the 2006 murder of the Mongolian woman who had been Abdul Razak's ex-lover; two policemen from Najib's protective detail also are on trial for carrying out the murder. End Note.) The MIC's Samy Vellu bears a large share of the responsibility for the BN's poor showing in the elections. The Indian community's unhappiness, which helped create the current political dynamic in Malaysia, reflects the fact that Samy Vellu neglected the interests of the Indian community, even when its temples were being destroyed, focusing instead on his business activities in India, Ho said. 3. (C) Ho stated that on the opposition side, former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim came out of the elections in a strong position, as shown by the electoral victories by his wife (whom Ho commented he has met and finds very impressive) and his daughter. The Islamic PAS will be pushed in a more pragmatic, less radical direction by its increased proximity to real political power. Within the ruling coalition, UMNO could find itself pulled in the opposite direction as it comes under increasing pressure to compete with PAS, Ho said. 4. (C) Ho expressed pessimism about Malaysia's future prospects. Malaysians from the Chinese and Indian minority communities keep leaving the country. The relative size of the Malay Muslim majority keeps increasing. As a result, more Malaysian students are studying in religious schools and fewer are studying in more rigorous secular schools. This is harming Malaysia's international competitiveness, Ho said.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SINGAPORE 001019 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2018 TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PREL, ASEAN, SN, MY, BU, ID, IN, TH, KN, CH, RU SUBJECT: DASD SEDNEY HEARS OF SINGAPORE'S MALAYSIA ANXIETIES (AND BILAHARI'S TAKE ON THE REST OF THE WORLD) REF: A. SINGAPORE 1001 B. SINGAPORE 586 Classified By: DCM Daniel Shields for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 1. (C) Summary: Singapore perceives a distinct possibility of racial conflict in Malaysia, Bilahari Kausikan, MFA Second Permanent Secretary told David Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia September 15. Kausikan offered his view that if racial conflict provoked ethnic Chinese to flee Malaysia, they could "overwhelm" Singapore. Providing views on events elsewhere, Kausikan said the situation in Thailand is not as dangerous as in Malaysia, but the current political instability in Thailand would continue. Indonesia is the most stable of the three countries, but its governance is weak. Burma's neighbors prioritize its stability, fearing that the junta's collapse could provoke a Yugoslavia-style breakup.

Anxiety About Malaysia ---------------------- 2. (C) The situation in neighboring Malaysia is confused and dangerous, Singapore perceives a distinct possibility of racial conflict, Singapore MFA Second Permanent Secretary Bilahari Kausikan told Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Sedney in a September 15 meeting. (Embassy Comment: The Kausikan meeting took place a few days after Malaysian authorities arrested three persons, including two ethnic Chinese citizens, under the Internal Security Act, causing a political uproar, but no security incidents. End Comment.) Kausikan warned that Malaysia's current political instability could lead to unconstitutional action or a "constitutional emergency." He did not think that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had found the thirty crossover votes in Parliament necessary to fulfill his vow to bring down the government. But one side or the other might try the "time-tested strategy" of inciting communal conflict or some other incident to provoke a reaction. The possibility of conflict is high because the three competing factions backing Anwar, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, and Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak all have much at stake. Should Anwar fail in his bid to become Prime Minister, he would likely end up back in jail. Najib "has his neck on the line" in connection with a high-profile murder case and also needed to prevail politically in order to avoid prosecution. Having been in power for so long, ruling UMNO party leaders would also likely face repercussions if they lost power. 3. (C) A lack of competent leadership is a real problem for Malaysia, Kausikan said. Anwar might be the most competent leader, but he too comes with liabilities. While Anwar had made concessions to non-Muslims in order to build his coalition, he is unlikely to live up to his commitments to his non-Muslim partners should he gain power, Kausikan predicted. Should racial conflict break out, China would be compelled to weigh in on behalf of the ethnic Chinese population in Malaysia, though it was unlikely (at that stage) that anyone in Malaysia would listen to China's concerns. Kausikan said the GOS is also watching the situation carefully as it fears any significant racial conflict in Malaysia could lead to an influx of ethnic Chinese to Singapore and "overwhelm" Singapore. (NOTE: 60,000 - 70,000 Malaysians commute daily to work in Singapore. END NOTE.) Kausikan characterized Malaysian traditional foreign policy as including elements that are 1) anti-western, 2) pro-business, 3) supportive of China's growing role in the region. However, as China's influence in the region grows, Malaysia's "pro-Malay" domestic policies would eventuallylead to problems with China. SINGAPORE 00001019 002 OF 003 Thailand Not as Dangerous -------------------------

9. (C) Koh rated the performance of Malaysia's new prime minister Najib Razak as a "brave beginning" but added that he fears there may be skeletons in Najib's closet that will come back to haunt him. Likewise, Koh expressed reservations about opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who he said is so determined to be prime minister that he may make "Faustian bargains" to achieve that goal. Koh observed that the 2008 Malaysian general election reflected a "tectonic shift in Malaysian politics that we don't fully understand." In that election, for the first time, young urban Malays showed themselves willing to vote for political parties that did not base their identities expressly on race, he said.

Labels: ,

17 January, 2011

'just looking for anti-gov't teachers' ?

As the Chinese Saying goes, "Eyes wide open to talk blindly", Johor Education Department director Markom Giran, who has been caught on video allegedly campaigning for the BN in Tenang, has denied the accusation.

He said he was merely identifying the political tendencies of teachers to ensure that they “support the government's policies”.

"I did not campaign. I was speaking to my subordinates. It is our right to identify which (political parties) our teachers are supporting," said Markom when contacted today.

"If they are found to be against the government, we will call them up and send them for courses to let them understand that a government servant should not be against government policy."

He explained that a government servant is an executor of government policy and hence they should follow whatever policy is made by the government of the day.

"We are hired (makan gaji) by the government. So we should not go against the government. Whatever the policy is, we just follow."

Meanwhile, PAS deputy Johor commissioner Dzulkefly Ahmad was reported as saying that “We see this as a clear evidence of government officers and machinery being used to help the BN garner support in a way that violates civil service neutrality in politics,” he added.

Dzulkefly said if senior civil servants want to take part in politics, they must first resign from their posts in the service before entering the political fray,” he asserted.

Labels: ,

13 January, 2011

Singapore: Massive outcry over Thaipusam’s noise curbs

Guidelines made public last Friday that restrict devotees to singing – no music or drums to be played – have drawn varied reactions.

The Hindu Endowments Board (HEB), which announced the guidelines, said it has received a “handful” of queries from devotees seeking clarification.

A Facebook page, Bring The Thaipusam Beat Back, was set up by a devotee on Monday – and more than 40 people had pledged support.

Prominent socio-political blog Temasek Review saw hundreds of comments within days condeming the new guidelines.

Prominent lawyer Mr Ravi has also filed a Summons against the AGC and HEB claiming that the rights of minorities have been violated with this new guidelines. He will be holding a press conference at 11am in his office tomorrow.

Thaipusam is an annual occasion where Hindus give thanks to Lord Murugan for his blessings. Devotees carry milk pots or kavadis – metal or wooden structures fixed to the body – to express devotion to the deity.

Census figures indicate that Hindus make up about 5 per cent of the overall resident population – or about 250,000 people.

The 4km event, which can take as long as five hours, starts from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road and ends at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road.

The rules, which the HEB said mirrored police guidelines with regard to public order, appeared to bear stricter control over common practices during the procession. One was the barring of music and playing of instruments. Now, only religious hymns may be sung. Other rules include no wearing of make-up on the faces of devotees and allowing only small objects to be hung from their bodies.

The HEB said these guidelines were set by the police and were not new, even if it was the first time they were compiled and made public.

HEB chairman S. Rajendran said the move was calculated to reduce noise and unruly behaviour, both of which have been on the rise. Twenty years ago, the walk was attended by about 10,000 people – including both participants and spectators. Last year, that figure was 50,000, he said.

Read more here


08 January, 2011

MCA echoing Perkasa's sentiment

Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek dismissed calls for a royal commission to probe Teoh Beng Hock’s death, whose scope has been limited to anti-graft investigation methods.

“The Attorney-General already said he would file for a revision (of the verdict) to look into the cause of death,”

The PM said Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had expressed his dissatisfaction with Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas’s verdict and would file for a revision soon at the Shah Alam High Court.

Najib has also said the RCI could not look into the cause of Teoh’s death as the law mandated such investigations to be done through the coroner’s office.

Teoh’s family, the Bar Council and the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), however, have demanded the PM to expand the powers of the RCI.

At a press conference yesterday, Malay rights pressure group Perkasa has urged the federal government not to proceed with its plan to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into political aide Teoh Beng Hock's death.

Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali said there was no need for the commission because the inquest had already declared an open verdict on his cause of death.

"We should all just leave it to the police to handle the matter and take action against the guilty party," said Ibrahim.

Given that the courts had already decided on the matter, having the commission to probe the matter was tantamount to disrespecting the courts and a waste of public funds.

"(What) if this commission does work? What else will we establish next?" Ibrahim asked.

He explained that the inquest will serve no purpose because the matter had already been presented in an open court.

“Of course, we are saddened about his passing but this should not be the way,” he said.

Ibrahim adds that the establishment of the commission would also serve as fodder for the opposition.

Meanwhile, Teoh family’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo, said yesterday it was meaningless and a waste of public funds to set up an RCI that could not investigate how Teoh had plunged to his death.

Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan also stressed that the Najib administration was obliged to give the family closure.

Teoh’s sister Lee Lan accused Najib yesterday of failing to honour his promise that the Teoh family would know how her brother died.

She expressed her disappointment with Najib’s announcement of setting up an RCI that lacked the powers to investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding Teoh’s death.

Lee Lan pointed out that the coroner had noted there were pre-fall injuries and had singled out the injury to Teoh’s neck.

She also said when the family met Najib two years ago after Teoh died, the PM personally pledged he would see to it the family will know how Teoh fell nine floors to his death.

However, Dr Chua questioned Lee Lan’s claims of Najib’s vow to the family.

“Do you know what the prime minister said to the family? Were you there?” he asked a reporter who had highlighted Lee Lan’s claims.

“It is not fair to say what the family said is true and what the prime minister said is not true,” added Dr Chua.

He also stressed that Teoh’s death should not be used to gain political mileage.

“We extend our fullest sympathy but it should not be politicised,” he said.


05 January, 2011

Teoh's death is suspicious, but the intent of the deceased could not be proved

The cause of political aide Teoh Beng Hock's death on July 16, 2009 is still a mystery after an inquest stretching 18 months. Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas ruled out suicide and homicide and delivered an open verdict to a packed courtroom this afternoon.

The "open verdict" was not well received by Teoh's family and various other interested parties who demanded for a royal commission of inquiry (RCI).

In delivering his 20-page decision, Azmil said his role was to determine when, where, how and after what manner Teoh, the aide to Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, came to his death on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam and whether any person was criminally concerned in the cause of death.

WHEN: Based on the testimony of pathologists Dr Khairul Azman Ibrahim, Dr Prashant Naresh Samberkar and Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, Azmil established that Teoh died between 7.15am and 11.15am.

WHERE: It is "irrefutable" that Teoh, died on a service corridor on Plaza Masalam’s 5th floor.

On HOW and AFTER WHAT MANNER Teoh died, whether anyone was criminally involved, Azmil narrated how he first considered and dismissed suicide.

"In considering suicide, I find that there remain some unsettled issues which are still questionable," he said.

"To fulfil this verdict of suicide would entail some form of guesswork on my part to connect the dots, so to speak, which I find as not acceptable. I rule out the verdict the deceased committed suicide," he said to a hushed courtroom.

Azmil said he also considered if Teoh had a suicidal intention based on the testimony of Teoh’s brother Meng Kee and a note found in Teoh’s bag.

"Handwriting expert Wong Kong Yong testified and produced two reports. However, his evidence only goes as far as to establish that the writing is similar to documents found in Teoh’s bag," he said.

Azmil pointed out two unresolved issues.

"The documents were not ascertained to contain Teoh’s handwriting, and no samples of Teoh’s writing were obtained for the purpose of the examination by Wong," he said, adding that it was settled law that evidence of a handwriting expert could never be conclusive as it was only opinion evidence.

He also noted the testimony of Meng Kee that Beng Hock did not have any suicidal tendencies and also acknowledged the submissions of Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) prosecution head Datuk Abdul Razak Musa.

"It was assumed that Teoh felt so guilty and was afraid to leave the MACC office because he was ashamed to face society, especially his boss (Ean Yong).

It was also submitted that Teoh was seen to be agitated, uneasy and looked guilty," said Azmil, who added that as a coroner, he was not qualified to make his own assessment "purely from such assumptions".

"At best, I can only assume the note was authored by Teoh, but I am not qualified to say it is a suicide note," he said.

Azmil also ruled out homicide due to inconsistencies in the theories put forward by pathologists, noting closely a 4cm x 3cm bruise on Teoh’s neck. He noted that three doctors had all not ruled out pre-fall pressure to the neck region.

“Evidence showed that Teoh did not have these injuries when he went into the MACC office, and you and I know he never left the MACC office.

“So how did he come by these injuries and who is responsible? These questions are of grave significance… do we just sit by and let it be?” asked the Teoh family's lawyer Gobind Singh Deo.

“You rule out accident and suicide then what else is left? The family cannot have closure,”


01 January, 2011

Malaysia in the Year of the Rabbit 2011 -Ethnic strife could aggravate with political intrigue and corruption

The Bangalore-based Gayatri Devi Vasudev , a prominent editor of the Modern Astrology Magazine described 2011 as a little "gloomy" for the Southeast Asian region that would suffer civil unrest and natural calamities.

Lower fertility among women and possibilities of escalating political violence in Southeast Asia will be some low points of 2011, but farmers will be a happy lot, the Indian astrology analyst said.

Volcano eruptions in the Philippines, terror attacks and earthquakes in Indonesia, and ethnic tension in Malaysia plus another political upheaval in neighbouring Thailand, are likely features of 2011, said her prognosis.

"It's a period of strife. There will be civil unrest in Indonesia and destructive earthquake. Ethnic strife could aggravate with political intrigue and corruption adding to the situation in Malaysia," Gayathri, one of the national vice presidents of the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences, told Bernama.

The trouble-prone year, she said, was largely due to the transition of influencing planets like Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and "Ketu" (a shadow planet in Indian mythology).

"These (predictions) are based on planetary parameters. They are not mambo jumbo, they are scientific studies better than most modern sciences of today," she noted.

A well-respected analyst in the circle of astrologers, she had even predicted the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.....more

SO, Is 2011 the right time for a GE?

Labels: ,