03 June, 2011

BN Vs PR in Perak: ‘A play of brute and refined force’

A leaked WikiLeads cable reveals that US diplomats visited Perak after the BN coup and concluded that only the BN has the clout to muscle its way to power.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) takeover of Perak indicated clearly the ruling coalition’s clout and ability to manipulate and muscle its way to power, noted US diplomats.

The BN victory in Perak was a “successful political power play both in terms of brute and refined power”.

“(This) reminds us that of the two coalitions, only the BN has the clout, money, and ability to manipulate the government system (election commission, courts) to muscle its way to power,” added the US diplomats.

The diplomats also felt that while Pakatan Rakyat leaders have been critical of the manner in which the state was taken away from their control, there were also cracks appearing in the Pakatan coalition.

“They (Pakatan) remain somewhat fragmented both within their coalition, and within their component parties,” added the diplomats, referring specifically to the internal fight for influence in the Perak DAP.

These comments were made by the US diplomats based in the US embassy here to their State Department in Washington in a confidential cable dated Feb 19, 2010.

Details of the cable were leaked by WikiLeaks to popular blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin who had published the leaked cable in his Malaysia Today website today.

The US diplomats had visited Perak one year after the BN takeover, and just after a February 2010 Federal Court ruling which affirmed BN’s Zambry Abd Kadir as the righful menteri besar.

“The BN now has firm control of Perak and is working to regain some of its lost influence among voters, having allocated resources into projects to win back support of the people,” added the diplomats in the cable.

“With the Chinese vote firmly supporting the opposition, the deciding votes in any future election rest with the ethnic Malays,” they added.

They also noted that the Malay support was split between the ruling coalition and the opposition.

Zambry vs Nizar

The diplomats had also met up with politicians from both BN and Pakatan during the visit to Perak, including meetings with Zambry and Pakatan’s menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin.

Both sets of politicians had claimed that the people of Perak supported them, and had slammed the state administration of the other.

While Nizar had said that his short administration was “successful and people-friendly”, Zambry had said that he had the will of the people to rule and had pointed out his “people-friendly policies”.

Zambry had also informed the US diplomats that he was confident of winning snap polls if it had been held then – in 2010 – saying that BN would win 34 out of 59 state seats.

He, however, ruled out calling for a snap election, saying that “the Perak BN state government does not operate based on the dictates of the opposition”.

Nizar, meanwhile, had informed the US diplomats that he had the support of 80% of the Chinese and Indian vote, and at least 50% of the ethnic Malay vote.

However, he admitted that even with fresh elections, there was no guarantee that the Pakatan would win a majority of seats to form a government.

“Nizar stated that the BN has managed to ‘poison the minds of the rural Malays’ by convincing them that he was ‘a lackey of the DAP’ and ‘had committed treason by defying the Sultan’ after the defections,” noted the diplomats in the cable.

Non-Malay support

The cable also spoke about the meetings between the US diplomats and non-Malay BN leaders on the support of the Chinese and Indian communities for BN.

Gerakan deputy president and state chief Chang Ko Youn openly blamed Umno’s racist policies as the reason for the Chinese voters to “desert the BN by droves” in the last general election.

He also added that the Chinese media were “unfriendly” towards BN, stating the Chinese newspapers were more independent and at times favoured the opposition rather than BN parties.

He had also said that it would be difficult for BN to win over the Chinese voters in the next general election.

However, this view was not shared by MCA’s Mah Hang Soon, who said that BN was “now more aware of the Chinese problem” and was “working on overcoming it”. Mah is the state MCA Youth chief and the sole non-Umno state rep.

He said the state BN had given land titles to Chinese farmers and had funded nine independent Chinese schools in the state, admitting that in the past, the BN state government had completely ignored the plight of independent Chinese schools.

As for the Indian community, the BN state assembly speaker and state MIC secretary, R Ganesan, was of the opinion that the BN government “has enacted numerous polices for the benefit of non-Malays”.

“Ganesan proudly stated that for the first time the state government has allocated funding for Hindu temples,” added the cable.

The cable also noted that the previous Pakatan government started the policy of allocating funds to non-Islamic religious institutions, but it is the BN which was seeing this through.

The cable also quoted Ganesan as saying that he could see the Indians returning to the BN based on the number of people attending BN-sponsored meetings and political rallies.

Read more Here


07 May, 2011

Politics Explained


While walking down the street one day a "Member of Parliament" is tragically hit by a truck and dies.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

'Welcome to heaven,' says St. Peter.
'Before you settle in,  it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'

'No problem, just let me in,' says the man.

'Well, I'd like to, but I  have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.'

'Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,' says the MP.

'I'm sorry, but we have our rules.'

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it  are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress.. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises....

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

'Now it's time to visit heaven.'

So, 24 hours pass with the MP joining a group  of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing.  They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by  and St. Peter returns.

'Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and  another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.'

The MP reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would never have said it  before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but
 I think I would be better off in hell..'

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his  shoulder. ' I don't understand,'  stammers the MP.
'Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. 
What happened? '
The devil looks at him, smiles and says, ' Yesterday we were campaigning.....

Today you voted !!


29 April, 2011

The cancellation of Mr. Amsterdam’s talk in Malaysia

Open split over whether the organization is aggressive enough on Thai repression.

An open split has divided the Asian operations Amnesty International, one of the world's most prestigious human rights groups, over its operations in Thailand.

Some 70 members of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have sent an open letter to Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General at the organization's London headquarters complaining about the actions of Benjamin Zawacki, AI's Southeast Asia researcher, and Donna Guest, the Asia-Pacific deputy director, in blocking a dialogue to be held by the Malaysia wing of the organization on the issue of human rights violations in Thailand.

Zawacki, in a brief telephone interview referred Asia Sentinel to a written statement saying it was self-explanatory. The statement said that "Amnesty International globally has avoided partisan entanglement in the Thai political crisis. Despite allegations from both sides that the organization supports the Yellow or Red positions and groups, Amnesty has limited itself to the human rights issues and has avoided politics."

The cancellation of Mr. Amsterdam’s talk in Malaysia due to:

1. Amnesty International globally has avoided partisan entanglement in the Thai political crisis. Despite allegations from both sides that the organization supports the Yellow or Red positions and groups, Amnesty has limited itself to the human rights issues and has avoided politics. Amnesty has been in touch with Mr. Amsterdam over the past year and is aware of the substance of his claims, as well as his political strategy, for which he is compensated. In this context, Mr. Amsterdam is a paid advocate of former Thai PM Thaksin, and is thus very clearly a partisan of one side of the political crisis. This is not a value judgment on Mr. Amsterdam’s position, it is simply a factual observation that implicates a rule that Amnesty applies in its work everywhere: remain neutral, objective, and impartial. Sharing a platform with Mr. Amsterdam would place Amnesty in breach of that rule.

2. Moreover, the substance of Mr. Amsterdam’s talk would have been particularly ill-advised for an Amnesty platform. Amnesty International understands that Mr. Amsterdam has presented a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the alleged commission of crimes against humanity by Thai authorities in April and May 2010. Thailand, however, has not acceded to the Rome Statute establising the ICC, meaning that the only possible way a case based on events involving Thai citizens in Thailand could reach the ICC would be through a referral by the UN Security Council. It is true that following the referral of Libya’s Colonel Qaddafi by the UN Security Council to the ICC, this avenue of seeking accountability has new life. That the international community struggles, however, to get the Security Council to respond to the massacres in the Sri Lankan civil war–in which 20,000 to 40,000 civilians were killed over a few months–is a sobering counterpoint. Thus, while Amnesty would not totally rule out the possibility of international accountability for various events in Thailand, the organization would clearly refrain from publicly taking a position that suggests that referral to the ICC is a feasible, or even desirable, method of seeking accountability in Thailand.

3. Finally, in addressing any situation that involves accountability in Thailand, Amnesty again must maintain its neutrality and avoid political partisanship. Thus, alongside discussion of the allegations raised by Mr. Amsterdam, considerable reference would also need to be made, among other events, to the thousands of extrajudicial executions as part of Mr. Taksin’s “war on drugs” and during counter-insurgency operations in southern Thailand. Mr. Thaksin strenuously combated Amnesty’s efforts to seek accountability for these serious violations. While these infractions of international human rights law do not in any way justify the present Thai government’s unlawful use of lethal force against demonstrators who may be generally labelled pro-Thaksin, they are crucial elements of any discussion of the Yellow-Red dynamic in Thailand, and in particular, of any discussion of justice and accountability in the country. Amnesty was not confident that a talk by Mr. Amsterdam, on an Amnesty platform, would refer to this context adequately.

Other human rights organizations in Thailand have been critical of Amnesty International's Thai operations, saying they often have not been aggressive in defending opponents of the Thai regime and the military as the government has slid deeper into repression. Human rights campaigners have charged that the government is using lèse majesté not to protect King Bumibhol Adulyadej and the royal family but to quell legitimate dissent.

"Amnesty International enjoys the support of many rich, elite, overseas-educated Thais, many of whom bear Royal decorations," said CJ Hinke, the head of Freedom Against Censorship Thailand and one of the signatories to the open letter. "AI is considered to be just liberal enough to provide the rich a halo of concern. That support will only continue as long as AI does not investigate Thailand's own human rights violations in any great depth. Lèse majesté in particular.

For its part, Amnesty International Bangkok has repeatedly issued press releases and campaigned publicly for the release of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, an online news editor for lèse majesté charges, and demanded the repeal of emergency powers that were ultimately withdrawn in December.

The open letter complains that Amnesty International Malaysia had planned to meet on April 23 with Robert Amsterdam, the lawyer representing the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship – Thailand's Red Shirt opposition -- who had filed a case at the International Criminal Court against the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva government for ordering the military crackdown in April-May 2010 which resulted in the deaths of 92 people, mostly civilians, and 2,000 people injured.

However, the letter says, the Malaysia wing "received strong instructions from the International Secretariat demanding them to cancel the dialogue session. The action is a clear violation on the very principle central to human rights for which is on freedom of expression and opinion, toleration of different opinions and ideas, and fighting against culture of impunity."

Amnesty International, the letter said, "is taking the same approach by the Thai government in banning Mr. Amsterdam from entering Thailand, and thus violating Mr. Amsterdam the right to exercise his freedom of expression."

In the statement, however, Zawacki called Amsterdam over the past year "a paid advocate of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin (Shinawatra) and is thus very clearly a partisan of one side of the political crisis. This is not a value judgment on Mr. Amsterdam's position, it is simply a factual observation that implicates a rule that Amnesty applies in its work everywhere: remain neutral, objective, and impartial. Sharing a platform with Mr. Amsterdam would place Amnesty in breach of that rule."

Read more here.


22 April, 2011

Reality bites - Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights

In an article published a day after the Sarawak polls, Utusan Malaysia's Awang Selamat was of the opinion that greater appreciation should be given to those who supported the BN and as such, a clear message has to be delivered to the Chinese community for rejecting the BN and supporting the DAP.

According to Awang, the state Barisan Nasional government should no longer be too generous in allocating representation in government to the Chinese community.

Awang further opines in his piece that there is now a new reality – that the BN needs to ignore the Chinese and instead focus on the other communities.

What a load of nonsense.

It seems that Awang has conveniently forgotten that it was the Chinese community that overwhelmingly supported the BN in 1999 when over half the Malay vote went to the opposition.

On the back of Anwar's Reformasi movement, the Malay vote swung mainly to PAS and it was Chinese support that dragged BN across the finish line with a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

I do not recall anyone from Utusan Malaysia calling for BN to stop being too generous in allocating government positions to the Malay community after the 1999 General Elections.

I do not recall anyone from Utusan Malaysia at that time calling for the BN government to ignore the Malays and instead focus on the Chinese and Indian communities.

A government is bound to serve every citizen – even those who did not vote for it.

As Larry Flynt once said, "Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights. Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper."

A government cannot collect income tax from everyone but ignore the interests of the taxpayer that did not vote for it.

The taxpayer that did not vote for the government is not a traitor. He is as much a patriot as the next guy who did.

In fact, the taxpayer that voted for the opposition keeps the government on its toes. He ensures that the government does not rest on its laurels.

Without a credible challenge against the BN government in Sarawak, there would not have been any pressure on Taib Mahmud. The Chief Minister would not have even bothered offering to step down despite being in power longer than Hosni Mubarak.

more here.


15 April, 2011

Cyber attack on Harakahdaily

The Harakahdaily website has become the latest victim of cyber attack.Websites critical of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud such as Sarawak Report and news portal Malaysiakini were also attacked and were forced to take alternative measures.

The website, which is PAS’ mouthpiece, had come under a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack since 10pm yesterday and Harakahdaily technicians are still working to ensure that the site is running.

Due to a real threat of cyber-attack targeted at Harakahdaily pages, we would like to provide you these alternative URLs in the unfortunate event we are downed.

In the event our site succumbs to any cyber attack, please take note of the following URLs:

1. harakahdaily.net
2. myharakah.net
3. harakah.net.my

The following are alternative URLs for the website of PAS:

1. pas.org.my
2. parti-pas.org
3. parti-islam.org

We are giving this notice as part of our preparation for any cyber-attack on our servers, similar to the attacks on Malaysiakini and Sarawak Report.

Our IT team reported one such attempt last night at 10.00pm, in the form of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service), to shut down Harakahdaily's pages. We have been literally on our toes to ensure the move will continue to be thwarted.

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12 April, 2011

6 Important life lessons

Lesson 1: Naked Wife

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next door neighbor. Before she says a word, Bob says, “I’ll give you $800 to drop that towel.” After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob.

After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 dollars and leaves. The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks,…

“Who was that?” “It was Bob the next door neighbor,” she replies. “Great!” the husband says, “Did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?”

Moral of the story:
If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2

A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, “I’ll give each of you just one wish” “Me first! Me first!” says the administration clerk. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.” Poof! She’s gone. “Me next! Me next!” says the sales rep. “I want to be in Hawaii,relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.” Poof! He’s gone. “OK, you’re up,” the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.”

Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 3

A priest offered a lift to a Nun. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg. The nun said,”Father, remember Psalm 129?” The priest removed his hand. But,changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again. The nun once again said, “Father, remember Psalm 129?” The priest apologized “Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.” Arriving at the convent, the nun went on her way. On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, “Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.”

Moral of the story: If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Lesson 4

A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day. A rabbit asked him,”Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?” The crow answered: “Sure, why not.” So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, and rested.

A fox jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very high up.

Lesson 5: Power of Charisma

A turkey was chatting with a bull “I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree,” sighed the turkey, but I haven’t got the energy.” “Well, why don’t you nibble on my droppings?” replied the bull. “They’re packed with nutrients.” The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree.

Moral of the story: Bullshit might get you to the top, but it wont keep you there.

Lesson 6

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Moral of the story:
1. Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy
2. Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend
3. And when you’re in deep shit, it’s best to keep your mouth shut!


05 April, 2011

Mahathir Mohamad a polarising figure ?

An Unbalanced and Unreliable Memoir
Barry Wain - Straits Times Indonesia | April 05, 2011

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has always been a polarising figure. He expressed strong views and adopted contentious policies during his 22 years in office - dividing Malaysians into blind believers or instinctive opponents - and he has continued to do so in retirement since 2003.

The publication of his memoirs will only deepen those divisions. Nearly nine years in gestation, A Doctor In The House arrived with a thud: 843 pages - inside hard covers, with a jacket bearing a recent colour photograph of a beaming and youthful-looking author - weighing in at 1.7kg.

In keeping with his theme song, My Way, Tun Dr Mahathir, who will be 86 years old in July, uses the occasion to discuss his life and career entirely on his own terms.

He sees no reason to reassess most of the major political controversies associated with him: among them, the dismissal and prosecution of his deputy, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim; the sacking of Lord President Salleh Abas; and the campaign to oust his hand-picked successor, Tun Abdullah Badawi.

He makes an exception of Operation Lalang, which saw the detention without trial of 119 people amid rising ethnic tensions in 1987.

Yet even while conceding that his government's response was 'excessive', he tries to shift the blame to the police for recommending the crackdown.

Dr Mahathir simply brushes aside or ignores much of the specific criticism directed at him and his ambitious projects over the years, not even bothering to mention some crucial events in which he figured.

A bold leader with big ideas and no time for critics who carp about details, he occasionally peeks in the mirror and recognises reality. Marina, the first born of his seven children, 'turned out to be a lot like me: argumentative, stubborn, opinionated and always believing she is right', he says.

It should also be acknowledged that the book goes some way towards answering one question that has long puzzled political scientists: Why Dr Mahathir, a self-proclaimed 'young Anglophile' at 20, later developed a lifelong, virulent hostility towards British colonialism.

He explains that his political awakening made him realise, 'looking back', that he had been 'brainwashed' to the point where 'I forgot that I was one of the natives', triggering a feeling of humiliation. 'It was then that the decolonisation of my own mind and soul began,' he says.

Dr Mahathir might have been expected to take this opportunity to clear up certain personal issues that have long been the subject of intense gossip and speculation, such as his ethnic origins. Rather, he repeats without comment several stories that circulate about his father's ethnicity and religion.

He then adds: 'I admit that some Indian, or more accurately South Asian, blood flows in my veins, but from which part of the Indian subcontinent my ancestors came I do not know.' Also missing is any admission that Dr Mahathir concealed various important policy initiatives and developments while he led the country.

For example, he verges on the misleading when he writes that 'nothing of significance resulted from' his first visit to the United States in 1984, when he met President Ronald Reagan.

As I revealed in my political biography of Dr Mahathir last year, he approved the innocuous sounding Bilateral Training and Consultation (Bitac) agreement, which was, in fact, a secret security pact. Without informing Malaysians, he threw in his lot with the Americans, agreeing to naval ship visits, ship and aircraft repairs, joint military exercises in Malaysia and close cooperation between the two militaries.

It would also have been fascinating to get an authoritative insider's account of the long-ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno), whose history has been described by one former minister as 'a mixture of political subtlety and crudeness, ethical practices and greed, fair play and foul... occasionally expressed with sheer ruthlessness'.......more.

(The writer, who is writer-in-residence at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, is the author of Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times, published by Palgrave Macmillan.)