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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Najib hints that current political problems actually began in 1999


Malaysia Chronicle

Perhaps feeling a bit worse for wear, Prime Minister Najib Razak offered a rare glimpse into his private thoughts that probably reflects the way he feels about the current political situation in his Umno party.

"Even though you are very competent, if you back the wrong horse, it can be quite tragic for you,” he was reported as telling a dialogue at the ASEAN 100 Leadership Forum.

Muhyiddin points the finger at Najib

Najib was responding to participants who had asked him which was the most demoralizing period of his career. The 57-year old Malaysian leader has been feeling the heat of late, unable to make any meaningful progress despite having been in power since April 2009.

Muhyiddin
The key initiatives that he has announced so far – his prized 1Malaysia plan, the New Economic Model which consist of the Government Transformation Program and the Economic Transformation Program – have all been heavily panned by critics.

And these include his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin and former premier Mahathir Mohamad. In fact, so obvious is their disagreement that even foreign research publications have taken note and now cite the power tussle within Umno as a risk factor for Malaysia’s political stability.

At almost every major crossroad, Najib appears to have been foiled by the Mahathir-Muhyiddin combo, who lead the powerful conservatives within Umno. Even during Najib’s six-day visit to the United Nations last week, Muhyiddin and his supporters lost no time in undermining Najib's call to the world body for “moderation not extremism”.

In particular, Muhyiddin started tongues wagging when he agreed with British tycoon Richard Branson that the sodomy charges brought against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was damaging the economy.

“If you ask me, personally, would you like this case to be in the Malaysian court? I wouldn’t like this case to be in the Malaysian court. Of course, it is true that if there are no cases of such profile, then Malaysia will be much better positioned. The sooner this matter is resolved, the better for us,” Muhyiddin said earlier this week.

Najib points back at Mahathir

Anwar has previously accused Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor of having plotted the charges to derail his political comeback. As such, Muhyiddin's reply was a shocker because it implied that Najib was to blame for negative economic impact.

Anwar jailed by bitter foe Mahathir
Furthermore, in the past, the government’s stand has always been to lash back at critics, warning them not interfere with Malaysia’s internal affairs. Because of the increasing boldness of the factions seen as aligned to him and Mahathir, pundits now expect Muhyiddin to challenge Najib for the Umno presidency when internal polls are held next year.

This morning, Najib told the ASEAN forum that his darkest period was when he only managed to retain his Pekan parliamentary seat by a mere 241-vote majority in 1999, during the height of Anwar’s first sodomy case brought about by Mahathir.

Mahathir's ruthless and aggressive move not only split Umno down the line, it also brought great disrepute to Malaysia and sparked the beginning of the Reformasi or reform movement that swept the Pakatan Rakyat to power nearly 10 years later in 2008.

"There were times when I felt very frustrated with the situation, (that was) not as a result of my own personal action. It's the circumstances that you find yourself in. You are collateral damage - I don't know if that's the right word - of the process," Najib said.

Tian - do the right thing
But whether he was feeling sorry for himself or was trying tell his party mates that the problems of having to contend with the Pakatan now actually began long ago with Mahathir in 1999, Pakatan leaders said the first thing he should do was to heed the advice of the international community and drop the manifestly fabricated charges against Anwar.

“We don't want to get involved in Umno's vicious cycle. But not only has Richard Branson said that the government should stop it because it is a blot on the economy and the country’s reputation, his own deputy Muhyiddin has also acknowledged that the trial has hurt Malaysia,” Batu MP Tian Chua toldMalaysia Chrnonicle.

Samy's exit: Start of a new era or a new nightmare?


Samy - the last of his clique
Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

MIC president Samy Vellu’s announcement that he would step down in January next year was greeted with sighs of relief especially within the Indian community, but even so, few are willing to celebrate just yet.

Not only because the 74-year old leader has been known to change his mind before, there were also fears that he might still control the party behind the scenes.

Or that his successor, deputy president G Palanivel, might continue the same sort of iron-fisted rule and policies that have been blamed for turning off many young intellectuals from joining the MIC.

“Samy’s departure, if he really does go, will mark the end of an era of strong, one-way type of leadership. He belongs to the same clique as Mahathir Mohamad, Ling Liong Sik and Lim Keng Yaik. All have retired from the Cabinet and their parties although some of them may still be involved indirectly in politics,” Ramon Navaratman, chairman of Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute, told Malaysia Chronicle.

“It is to be hoped that MIC members will use the opportunity to further democratize their party, put in better systems so that the voices of the community as whole is heard the loudest and not just the top leaders’. Then hopefully it can get going in helping to address the multitude of problems plaguing the community.”

Free-for-all and sooner rather than later

Palanivel
However, that might be easier said than done. Not only is Palanivel’s support within the party weak, Samy’s son Vel Paari is also eyeing his father’s chair. Human Resources minister Dr S Subramaniam, who is close to Samy, is expected to play the role of mediator in the event that a free-for-all erupts after Samy vacates his seat.

However, the tussle for power may not come from Vel but from other factions led by former deputy president Subramaniam Sinniah or even S Sothinanthan. Despite the high risk of infighting, pundits say internal chaos was still better than for Samy to stay put. According to them, spats and bickering were ever present in the MIC and a shake-up no matter how severe would be preferable rather than the status quo.

“At the end of the day, we have to look at how much the Indian community can benefit from MIC. As it is now, most Malaysian Indians will tell you they get nothing from MIC. So it doesn’t matter if Samy goes and a tsunami takes place in the party. It cannot be avoided anyway. And it is better to drain the pus, let the storm cleanse away all its impurities. There is no other way for the MIC to reform,” PKR supreme council member N Gobalakrishan told Malaysia Chronicle.

Vel Paari
“But whether this is what Prime Minister Najib is expecting is a different story. For him, he may think he can persuade the MIC to put on a united front once Samy goes, do some window dressing and the community will be fooled into thinking a new era has begun for them. But MIC members are a different breed. They will have their own script and I don’t think they can wait patiently before they start going after each.”

When the boss is Umno and not the Indian community

Indeed, many believe Prime Minister Najib Razak finally made Samy a retirement offer Samy could not refuse because he wanted to call for snap general elections next year. Because of Samy’s huge unpopularity within his own community, pundits believe that only a revamped MIC with a new leader could help the Barisan Nasional coalition with the 13th general election.

S Subramaniam
“To me, this is the end of one of the darkest periods for the Malaysian Indians. Samy owes a lot of explanation to his community why under his 31-year leadership, Malaysian Indians have become among the most marginalized groups with only 1 percent of the wealth ownership in the country,” Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming told Malaysia Chronicle.

“Under Samy, Maika Holdings, which is supposed to help the Indians, has become known only for controversies and scandals. In short, Samy and MIC have failed their community miserably. And real change for the Indians won’t come even after Samy goes. It is not just that he might control the party through his proxies, but the MIC itself is compromising the Indian community by being part of the BN. When you are part of the BN, the boss is Umno. Do you think the new MIC leaders will listen to their own people or to Umno?”

Ex-airman moves to confront ‘torturers’ to strengthen freedom bid

SHAH ALAM, Oct 1 — Ex-airman Sergeant N. Tharmendran today applied to put his two “torturers” in the witness stand to support his bid to throw out his charges of stealing two F5-E jet engines.

Tharmendran’s lawyer Latheefa Koya told the High Court today that the cross-examination of his alleged torturers was crucial to determine the validity of his motion to drop the charges against him.

“If it is verified through cross-examination, then the testimony obtained there is very important for the substantial application, which is whether to get the charges dropped or suspended,” Latheefa said.

“The charges made by the applicant are very serious and directly affect the criminal procedure system in the country,” she added.

Tharmendran (picture) previously claimed to have been tortured by two “majors” who sought to force a confession that he had stolen the jet engines.

In a motion filed on July 16, Tharmendran sought for the charges against him to be thrown out on grounds that the authorities involved had specific intention to implicate him.

Latheefa pointed out that the affidavits filed by the two RMAF majors who denied torturing Tharmendran necessitated a cross-examination to reveal the truth.

“It is obvious that there are serious charges about torture on the applicant and bare denial from the persons who are alleged to do the torture,” said Latheefa.

“The truth can only be known if both deponents can be brought to court and cross-examined,” said the lawyer, referring to Major Norazan Md Amin and Major Ismail Omar who had filed the affidavits.

Latheefa also brought up another affidavit, filed by a witness on August 16, claiming that she saw Ismail abuse another detainee in front of her and Tharmendran.

“An affidavit by Intan Yusof showed Major Ismail’s actions... he pulled another detainee’s hair, twisted his head and then slapped him,” she said.

“It is important that the court verifies the charges,” she added.

Tharmendran’s other lawyer N. Surendran confirmed to reporters later that Intan — a 46-year-old businessman — was the new witness that he had mentioned in the High Court here on August 5.

“She is the one who saw the assault,” said the lawyer, referring to the abuse of the detainee mentioned by Latheefa.

Latheefa said that Intan claimed to have witnessed the alleged assault during her visit with the ex-airman in July last year, while he was in custody at the Sungai Besi air base.

“A friend of Tharmendran (Intan) and Tharmendran’s cousin visited him at the Sungai Besi air base in July 2009 when he was kept there,” she told reporters.

Tharmendran had alleged that about 30 to 40 others had been similarly tortured as he could hear their screams during his confinement at the air force base.

The 42-year-old ex-RMAF sergeant had said that he was made to wear a crash helmet and was hit with a cricket bat and a golf club three to four times a day.

He was also allegedly dragged, stripped down to his underwear, thrown into a freezing cold room and made to admit, repeatedly, that he was guilty.

Deputy public prosecutor Ishak Mohd Yusoff, however, urged the court to dismiss Tharmendran’s bid to cross-examine the two majors as his lawyers did not specify the areas of their intended cross-examination.

“The applicant was not specific in stating in his affidavit the areas that they want to cross-examine,” said Ishak.

“This can be categorised as a fishing expedition,” he added.

Ishak also pointed out that Tharmendran’s affidavit did not describe the confession that the two majors allegedly tried to force from him.

“It was not stated in his affidavit what was the confession that was extracted from him,” said Ishak.

“Without a confession, it will render his application to cross-examine... irrelevant because it is extraneous,” he added.

High Court Judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad ruled that she needed to consider whether the court was empowered to grant Tharmendran’s application to cross-examine the two air force majors.

“I have to go back to the basic principle on whether I have the power. I need more time to do research,” she said.

Tharmendran and company director K. Rajandran Prasad were jointly charged in the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court on January 6 in connection with the theft of the missing F5-E jet engines.

Tharmendran is accused of stealing the engines in December 2007 at the Subang RMAF air base.

He was also charged with conspiring in the theft with senior airman Mohamad Shukri Mohamad Yusop at the material processing shed at the Sungai Besi RMAF base.

He was arrested on September 1 last year, and if convicted faces up to 10 years’ jail and a fine.

Rajandran is accused of disposing of the engines on April 30, 2008.

The theft was a major embarrassment to the government, following reports later that the country’s first submarine — KD Tunku Abdul Rahman — could not dive in tropical waters.

The prime minister had vowed that there would be no cover-up in the high-profile case which occurred during his tenure as defence minister while the current minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, had claimed that it had been an inside job.

The High Court judge fixed October 29 to hear her decision on the matter.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

Four 'errant' SPDP reps leave future in CM's hands


KUCHING: The four “errant” Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) assemblymen - who stormed out of a meeting in January 2010 in protest against president Mawan Ikom - have left their political future to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The four – Peter Nansian (Tasik Biru), Sylvester Enteri (Marudi), Paulus Gumbang (Batu Danau) and Rosey Yunus (Bekenu) – refused to comment regarding their political future, but their close aides said that they are leaving it to Barisan Nasional and Taib.

Of the four, Nansian is the Assistant Minister of Environment and Public Health and Enteri the Assistant Minister for Public Utilities.

According to the aides, the CM may decide to field the four as candidates under direct BN membership.

“There are precedents in the past and there is no reason why such precedents cannot be emulated for the four of them. The BN still needs the services of the four elected representatives,” the aides added.

Moreover, they said, BN was going to initiate - at the end of the year - a direct BN membership.

"Once it is open, anyone can contest as a BN member and it will not be necessary to use a component party in BN," said the aides.

Unkept promise

The four together with the MP for Mas Gading Tiki Lafe and three other supreme council members, George Garai, Peter Gani and Eda Egar walked out from a SPDP supreme council meeting in January this year in protest against the decision of the president to drop Enteri as secretary general.

Mawan had promised to retain Enteri as the secretary-general in an effort to prevent Mawan and his deputy Peter Nyarok from being challenged in the December 2009 party election.

However, after the election Mawan failed to keep his word, and during the announcement of the new appointment, the eight walked out from the meeting.

Various efforts including “solidarity night” by Mawan to get them to return to the party have so far failed.

The “solidarity night” which attempted to bring them together failed to get off the ground after it was postponed a number of times.

And since then, the eight have failed to attend the supreme council meetings for the third consecutive time. And according to the party constitution, they should have been disciplined if no written apologies were given.

And for that reason, George Garai, Peter Gani and Eda Egar have reportedly been suspended from the party.

Meanwhile, Mawan has been saying that all the eight incumbents including the the four elected representatives would be recommended to defend their seats in the coming election.

But he could not assure that his recommendation would be approved as it all depended on ground reports whether any particular candidate can win or not.

“Even me as president, I cannot guarantee I will be contesting,” he was often quoted by the media.

Mawan’s vague statements are being considered by the four dissident state assemblymen to mean that they might be dropped from the next election.

“Nevertheless, they are not worried at all. After all it was not SPDP who had recruited them to join the party and contested in previous elections,” said the aides.

courtesy of FMT

Clock controversy: Citizens demand explanation


A group of concerned citizens here are demanding transparency from the state government over plans for the proposed 16-storey mixed-commercial development neighbouring the historic century-old Atkinson Clock Tower.

Heritage Sabah, an advocacy group, wants the state government to explain why development plans are being made in a furtive manner without consultation with the public.

"Decisions need public participation. Hold a public forum to get opinions. The public was not involved in the planning stage. All this while, decisions were made behind closed doors," said founder member, architect Nelson Sokial.

He was commenting on a disclosure that state agency and city officials had approved the project which would affect the historical building and its surroundings.

Sokial said the developers should explain how the new building would enhance the 100-year-old tower, as stated by the landowners Sabah Housing and Town Development Authority (SHTDA).

He said the developer should also justify the design of the building to the people and get their feedback on whether it would complement the clock tower.

"The developer must allow the people to have their say on the construction via a forum.

"We also want to see site studies done by consultants at the clock tower prior to the approval of the project. What are the potentials of this heritage site, and how have they been identified," Sokial said in a statement yesterday.

He said Heritage Sabah, an ad hoc group, wants to know how the approved design complements the 105-year-old landmark, as claimed by proponents of the project through statements in the media over the past week.

Strict conditions

Sokial expressed his doubts over whether the proposed complex would "conserve history and whether the approved design could integrate history with a commercial complex”.

"Heritage Sabah stands by its belief that the 16-storey structure built so close to the clock tower (6.3 metres away) will destroy its heritage value," he said.

In addition, the group wants Kota Kinabalu City Hall Mayor Illiyas Ibrahim to explain in detail the "35 strict conditions" that he said the developer would have to comply with in order for the project to be approved.

Illiyas said this in a statement to the press earlier this week but did not specify the “strict conditions”.

Sokial said over the last two weeks, Heritage Sabah had collected more than 1,500 signatures through an online campaign from people who do not want to see a shopping centre next to the tower.

"The people are keeping a close watch on the developments because they want to see how sincere the Sabah government is in listening to their concerns over the direction of urban development in the city.

"The Atkinson Clock Tower will be a test on whether local authorities are exercising transparency in terms of approval of commercial projects," he said.

The group also believes there are many other heritage sites that lack protection and wants to focus on them to avoid a repeat of the clock tower controversy.

Sokial said the group hopes to assist the government in its heritage conservation policies.

courtesy of FMT

Najib's Pastoral Picture of Malaysia


THURSDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2010
ImageDespite the prime minister's speech to the UN, his country is facing serious racial tension

Malaysia's Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, made an eloquent speech to the United Nations earlier this week, telling the assembled body that, among other things, Malaysia "is a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural and democratic society that has benefited from the positive interaction and synergy between the various communities. Mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship co-exist in harmony.
"Although Islam is the official religion, we honor other religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism – by making their religious and cultural celebrations as national holidays and celebrate them as national events. It is this equilibrium that leads to moderation or
wasatiyyah in the Islamic tradition of mutual justice."

That picture of Malaysia, thought to have been crafted by the giant US public relations firm APCO Worldwide for delivery in New York, is badly frayed, however. Many people in Kuala Lumpur say racial tension is higher than it has been since 1987, when former Prime Minister Mahathir cracked down in the so-called Operation Lalang and threw lots of top opposition politicians in jail under the Internal Security Act, which allows in effect for indefinite detention without trial.

Political events since the 2008 general election have led to ever-rising tension, particularly between Malays and Chinese although there have been strains in the Indian community as well. It is unclear today how far down into the society that racial bitterness extends. On many occasions, the two races have worked together to attempt to calm racial tensions. Last year, when unknown vandals firebombed a Christian church in a Kuala Lumpur suburb, urban Malays went to the church to attempt to calm anger.

Najib's attempts to unify his country are facing deep problems, many of them caused by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has taken on the question of special rights for the Malay majority and played a major role in the development of a Malay superiority NGO called Perkasa, whose fiery leader, Ibrahim Ali, has been perceived as a Mahathir ally although he is an independent legislator.

"Perkasa's vocal spokesmen Ibrahim and Mahathir seem hell bent – through such vociferous bickering – to stop Prime Minister Najib Razak from implementing his New Economic Model which is supposed to liberalise the economy from the clutches of the economically stifling, much corrupted and skewed New Economic Policy that heavily plays on 'Malay rights," wrote Raja Petra Kamarudin, the editor of the influential blog Malaysia Today.

"The problem is a segment of the Malays fear what is needed to revive private investment, especially domestic private investment, could cause Najib to lose the general election," said an analyst with a Kuala Lumpur-based think tank. "This assumes that the Malay electorate would be hostile to policy measures to ameliorate the NEP's re-structuring objectives. Najib has said this will now be applied on nationally rather than on a company basis while continuing the focus on reducing poverty. Perkasa's strength comes from its linkage with Mahathir who still commands some support in Umno and among the Malay community. Undoubtedly, Malays who feel threatened by prospect of less contracts etc from the Government will be hostile to Najib's economic plans."

The Sept. 27 death of another lawmaker, Parti Islam se-Malaysia state assemblyman Che Hashim Sulaima, will kick off the 12th by-election since the 2008 electoral surprise that gave the opposition control of four states and shocked the ruling Barisan Nasional. The United Malays National Organisation is expected to pull out all the stops in going after the Kelantan seat. With the Islamic fundamentalist PAS in the unanticipated role of positioning itself as a moderate party seeking to attract non-Malay votes, it remains to be seen if UMNO will attempt to appeal to voters by emphasizing Malay superiority.

Mahathir has been fanning the flames of unrest by his continuing demand for the continuation of special treatment for Malays, a cause he has espoused ever since the publication of his book, The Malay Dilemma. In that book, Mahathir argued that because Malays were rural and backward and because the economy was controlled by urban Chinese, they needed special treatment. After disastrous racial riots in July of 1969, the government agreed with Mahathir and created the New Economic Policy, in affect an affirmative action program for a majority race. For 40 years, they have been given that special treatment but they have advanced relatively little vis-à-vis the Chinese. Today, social scientists argue that affirmative action to help the Malays has been a crutch that has cushioned their lives and kept them from healthy competition.

But changing that policy is messing with a powder keg. Rallies against changing it have drawn thousands of angry Malays. Mahathir fanned the flames considerably by lending his public support to a Malay superiority rally in Terengganu on May 13, the anniversary of the 1969 race riots that took hundreds of lives. The octogenarian former leader has not broken with Najib, partly out of his loyalty to Najib's father, who reinstated him in politics after he was expelled from UMNO following publication of his book. But he continues to demand special treatment for Malays. In his blog, Che Det, on August 30, he wrote that the leader of the Chinese Economic Congress was racist for calling for a meritocratic society.

"It is racial because he was advocating taking away the protection afforded by the NEP and quotas from the bumiputeras (native Malays) and not from any other race," Mahathir wrote. "I am not proud of the protection afforded the bumiputera. It implies weakness. I don't think Malays and other bumiputera like to think that they are inferior in any way. But the reality is that in Malaysia the bumiputeras need new skills and a new culture even. These cannot be had by them in a mere 20 years. The original planners of the NEP were too optimistic."

Najib hired the US public relations firm APCO to come up with a US$40 million program to seek to pull the races together as well as to seek to burnish his own image overseas, tarnished as it has been by a long series of scandals. The program, called 1Malaysia, is considered by most people to have failed.

Despite the fact that the special rights have become a millstone around their neck instead of moving them into a higher income bracket. Especially, critics say, it has created a rentier class of so-called "Umnoputras" who skim off contracts through government–linked companies to enrich themselves and that little of the benefit trickles down to the rank and file

When Najib took office in April 2009, he started seeking to modify the program, called the New Economic Policy. That has led to continuing tension. In May, some 1,500 members of the Malay Consultative Council, a group of 76 Malay-rights organizations, summarily rejected Najib's plans to replace it with what the premier called his New Economic Model.

At the forefront of the protest against Najib's plans has been Ibrahim Ali, who has not only threatened non-Malays but launched a series of attacks on moderates. Among other things, Ibrahim has sought to have top officials including Chua Soi Lek, the president of the Malaysian Chinese Association – the second biggest component of the Barisan Nasional after the United Malays National Organisation – arrested for sedition, basically for talking back at him. He has demanded also that shariah laws be amended to prohibit non-Muslims from entering mosques and prayer rooms – which they have done traditionally. He has also demanded that Nurul Izzah Anwar, an MP and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, be jailed as well after Nurul accused Mahathir of inciting racial animosities. -
Asia Sentinel

Don’t turn cash aid matter into a religious issue


Thomas Lee

More than 40 Muslim senior citizens have returned cash aid from the Penang state government due to suspicion and uneasiness over the sources of the funding.


Bernama quoted an imam from Pulau Mertajam, Saidin Chik, 72, as saying that he decided to return the money as he learned that it was from non-halal activities.

“I received RM100 aid some time this year, but I heard over television and read in the newspapers that the money was from gambling activities. We have been praying everyday and suddenly we get a cash aid from non-halal sources and spent it. What is going to happen to our prayers?” he said.

Saidin told reporters this after handing over the money to Penang Umno secretary Azhar Ibrahim on Wednesday.

According to Azhar, who is also the Penaga state assembly member, the Muslim recipients suffered mental anguish and emotional distress after knowing that they had received cash aid from non-halal sources, and are terrified at the thought of spending the money.

Azhar said more Muslim senior citizens are expected to hand over the money to the Umno Youth to return it to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

Umno Youth had earlier claimed that the state government was using a contribution from the Penang Turf Club to fund its hardcore poor eradication programme.

The Penang state government has acknowledged receiving RM500,000 from the Penang Turf Club, but said the money would be used to help poor non-Muslims.

Certainly, due respect must be given to our Muslim friends whose religious conscience does not permit them to accept money originated from non-halal sources, but the unwitting and inadvertent incident should not exploited into a religious and political issue.

Guan Eng should not be lambasted for something which he probably assumed is proper and harmless since over the years the Barisan Nasional federal government has been using tax monies from the gambling corporations and haram businesses like pubs and non-halal restaurants which serve alcoholic drinks, and also from workers in haram professions such as pork sellers, to fund government and public projects.

Now that we know that it is forbidden (haram) for our Muslim citizens to accept and use monies derived from non-halal sources, then the federal government should rectify the matter, and have a special separate account for all tax monies collected from haram sources such as Sports Toto, Magnum, the Genting casino, the pubs, and the entertainment joints and restaurants selling alcoholic drinks. These monies must never ever be used in anything associated with Islam, or in projects which may involve the Muslims.

No, I am not being cynical, just respecting the religious conscience of my Muslim brothers and sisters. Their right to practise their faith without impediment and hindrance must surely be upheld and given the utmost due respect.

Even in my own Christian faith, there are some followers who will not eat food that had been used in a worship ceremony of another religion. Although many of us who are more open and liberal do not feel restrained by our conscience on such matters, we do respect the wish and aspiration of the others who believe in the abstinence.

As for the tax monies collected from haram sources, the federal government could use them for the building of Chinese and Tamil schools, temples, churches, cemeteries, or even scholarships for non-Muslim students.

The totally unpremeditated “mistake” of the Penang state government should not be exploited by Umno to undermine the good and people-friendly scheme of helping the poor and needy of the state. Perhaps, Guan Eng should reoffer the cash aid to our Muslim brothers and sisters from a more acceptable source, such as rentals from Komtar or other state buildings.

Let us look at the positive side of this incident, and learn from it. Don’t aggravate the situation to turn it into a religious issue, like holding demonstrations against Guan Eng. I know Guan Eng personally for many years and firmly believe that he is a very good man with a good heart, with no malice or spite towards anybody, especially Penangites of all races and religions under his tender care. And he is definitely not anti-Islam or anti-anybody, only anti-corruption and anti-discrimination.

Don’t exacerbate and exploit this cash aid matter, which any sane person will know and understand, has been done without any ill-intent. — mysinchew.com

Mahathir's wealth prescription will bankrupt Malaysia


KUALA LUMPUR (Malaysian Insider) - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s prescription of growth and wealth to avoid race relations problems plaguing Malaysia will bankrupt the nation if followed by Datuk Seri Najib Razak, analysts and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders said.

They pointed out that the former premier’s own advice had failed during his administration which showed a trend of declining race relations amid ballooning government expenditure.

“Najib will be crazy to follow Dr Mahathir’s prescription for it’ll only bankrupt the country and worsen race relations, especially when the root causes of deteriorating race relations are not first addressed,” DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua told The Malaysian Insider.

“Race relations were getting worse by the day between 2005 and 2009 despite record government expenditure and budget, and a record-breaking number of projects,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said on Wednesday he had formulated the Bangsa Malaysia concept under his Vision 2020 plan based on the premise that thriving economic growth would ease race relations.

Pua, however, pointed out that after Dr Mahathir’s administration, the government budget had expanded from RM128 billion in 2004 to a hefty RM200 billion last year.

“Yet race relations had been increasingly worse in those past five years compared to the years before,” said the Petaling Jaya Utara MP, citing incidents of Umno leaders waving the keris, a traditional Malay dagger, during annual general meetings.

In 2005, then-Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein sparked an uproar when he wielded the keris at the party annual general meeting, which was criticised as a symbol of Malay supremacy.

Recently, there has been a spike in racial tension, such as the incident of two school principals accused of uttering racial slurs, the furore surrounding a Chinese MP’s visit to a surau, and a National Civics Bureau (BTN) senior official who allegedly referred to the Chinese and Indian communities as “si mata sepet” and “si botol” at a closed-door Puteri Umno function on Monday.

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar echoed Pua’s views and noted that Najib’s administration now suffered a tight budget due to Dr Mahathir’s wastefulness.

“We are having financial management problems because of spending during Dr Mahathir’s time and Pak Lah’s time,” said Mahfuz, referring to former premier Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Malaysia is facing uncertain economic prospects with average GDP growth in the next five years projected to be just shy of the six per cent target Najib had set.

“Najib does not need to take Dr Mahathir’s advice because if he does, the country will lose a lot of money like what happened in Dr Mahathir’s time,” said Mahfuz.

Mahfuz says the Najib administration now suffered a tight budget due to Dr Mahathir’s wastefulness. — File pic
The Pokok Sena MP also pointed out that the infamous Kampung Medan racial clash had occurred during the administration of the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

“There were racial problems even during his time, like Kampung Medan,” said Mahfuz.

In 2001, a violent clash between the Malay and Indian communities in the Petaling Jaya suburb left six dead.

Pua dismissed the former Umno president’s spending strategy to ease racial tension as “unsustainable” and irresponsible.

“Looking forward, it’s unsustainable. The country does not have the money to keep spending the way Dr Mahathir wants us to spend,” he said, pointing out that the national debt had increased from 40 per cent of the GDP to 52 per cent today at RM363 billion.

“We cannot keep spending irresponsibly,” stressed Pua.

The lawmaker pointed out that the abuse of affirmative action policies was the underlying factor of race relations problems, but not a stagnant economy as claimed by Dr Mahathir.

“It is NEP (New Economic Policy) abuses — the ‘bastardisation’ as described by Nazir Razak — where they benefited a minority few,” said Pua, referring to CIMB group CEO Datuk Seri Nazir Razak who is Najib’s younger brother.

Recently, Nazir had lambasted the policy for being “bastardised” over the decades since its inception in 1971 for deviating from its goal of eradicating poverty.

Political analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee agreed with Pua, saying that unfair wealth distribution caused by NEP-type policies was the reason behind simmering racial tension.

“Unequal income distribution has contributed to an increase in racial tension. It was during his period that growth in racial polarisation started to take place because of his policy,” said Lim, citing Dr Mahathir’s continuation of the NEP despite its targeted end date in 1990.

The Centre for Policy Initiatives director also slammed the former premier for squandering billions to feed his appetite for grand projects.

“The big projects undertaken during Mahathir’s time, when a lot of money was thrown around, resulted in bailouts between 1970 and 2007 costing the country more than RM100 billion,” said Lim.

“It is a recipe for disaster when projects are simply generated. It is economically unjustifiable, unsustainable and badly managed,” he added.

Political analyst Professor Madya Dr Samsul Adabi also cautioned against frittering away the country’s finances.

“We cannot simply spend,” said Samsul.

Like Dr Mahathir, he noted that wealth generation would help reduce racial tension in the country, but stressed that other factors also played a part.

“I agree because it can be one of the factors in reducing race relations problems, but there are other factors too,” said the analyst.

The double standards of halal or haram

In the course if my life, I've met people of many different religious faiths .... from the really pious to the loosely religious, and they exist in every single religion known to man. There are even varying degrees of atheists ..... from the "I think therefore I am" atheist to the "I don't believe in God but I won't say anything bad about Him - just in case" types. In essence when it comes to human spiritual beliefs, it cuts across the entire spectrum of humankind.

I'm bringing this up because of the recent "haram" money issue in Penang, which state opposition leader Azhar Ibrahim from UMNO/BN, is playing up which caused a lot of distress to some "more pious" Penangites of the Islamic faith. Let me stress that it is not my purpose to question here anyone's sensitivities about what is"haram" or "halal'. As I said above, there are varying degrees of piousness and what may be perfectly legitimate for me may not be acceptable to others in their understanding what their faith requires of them.

Instead I would like to aim my attention at Azhar Ibrahim for knowingly being hypocritical and playing on the fears of others (whom UMNO claims they
"bela") for political mileage.

For as long as I can remember and that goes back to the sixties, Malaysia has had some form or other of gambling - horse racing, social welfare lottery, 4D, Sports Toto, etc., now whether this is right or wrong is another question altogether (which the scope of this posting will not cover for now).

Some of which were legacies from our colonial past and some of which were new introductions after independence. All of them were and are still heavily regulated and heavily taxed by the federal government of the day, which in Malaysia's case had been the Alliance and BN government. In both instances, whether Alliance or BN, UMNO to which Azhar Ibrahim belongs is the real power behind the government. And they have been collecting huge amounts of
"haram" money in the form of taxes for the treasury.

Over the course of many years, these
"haram" money together with "halal" money (those which have not been lost through corruption) had been spent on subsidies and various social programs not to mention the bribes given each time elections comes around. I dare say that not a single Malaysian then and now have benefited in one way or another from "haram" money which the treasury collected.

I dare say that no one today can distinguish what is
"haram" or "halal" money spent by the government not that they made any attempts to make that distinction in the first place. The reality is it is just impossible to make such a distinction.

In all those years,did Azhar or for that matter any politician from UMNO, ever once questioned if the federal government was being insensitive to pious Muslims by giving them "haram" money in one form or another? Why bring it up now when it involves the DAP state government of Penang? Why cause such anguish to those whom they claim they represent when they have been doing it for all these years since independence?

To Azhar and the party he represents, they are so bereft of ideas on how to win back the
rakyat's support that they will go to all lengths even if it smacks of hypocrisy! Actually hypocrisy is nothing new to them since they think that we are too dumb to see through it.

I don't know about you but I'm not so much irked by the silly antics of UMNO/BN politicians. I mean after all what do you expect of a party whose rank and file comprises of many out for personal gain and hence will do anything to regain or remain in power? That is to be expected otherwise we would not be talking of regime change today.

Being pious or stupid or ignorant is one thing as most can't help themselves when they fall into such categories. But being hypocritical? This is the most evil kind when ordinary folks who don't know better are manipulated to serve a political end!

Whatever religion you may belong to or not, is it not "haram" for us to be taken as fools not once, not twice or thrice but many many many times over? So long as we allow such politicians to remain around, our country will never achieve "halal" status! Time to rid Malaysia of all these "haram" HYPOCRITES!

courtesy of The Middle Ground

Home Ministry bans Kim Quek's March To Putrajaya book


KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) - The Home Ministry has banned a book written by Kim Quek titled 'The March to Putrajaya-Malaysia's New Era Is At Hand' under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as it may incite public hatred and anger.

Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam said the book contained elements of baseless accusations and speculations against national leaders and was not suitable for general reading.

"Contents of the book has been banned because of the accusations against leaders while it may also incite hatred and anger among the people. If allowed to publish it can also be detrimental to public safety," he said in a statement here Thursday.

The printing, importing, publishing, reprint, sell, distribute or offer to sell or in possession of such books is an offence punishable under the law, he said.

The book, 'The March to Putrajaya - Malaysia New Era Is At Hand' authored by Kim Quek is a 361-page book that has twisted facts and incites hatred against the constitution of the country, he said.