MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, February 28, 2013

To Smile or not to smile

Diorang semua kerja kuat ma. Bab tu diorang berjaya la.

The statement most likely to bring a slight smile or snarl to your face. Or maybe a mixture of both...

Claiming that his sons are successful in business or politics only because of their own hard work, Mahathir said, 

"If they succeed in business or politics, it is due to their own effort. And all this took place after I resigned as prime minister."


It's Now Or Never, Malaysians - VIDEO


A 300 table dinner function is organised by PKR Negeri Sembilan at Lukut, Negeri Sembilan tonite.

The crowd at the function is really encouraging.

Ther people are awaiting for the guest-of-honour, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to arrive and enlighten them on the current issues and why the people in Negeri Sembilan MUST VOTE FOR CHANGE.

- pics  courtesy of MP Anthony Loke

Kisah Sebenar Di Sebalik Projek IC Sabah


Pendedahan oleh Puan Siti Aminah Binti Mahmud hari ini membuktikan bahawa pemimpinn UMNO – BN adalah pengkhianat negara yang sebenarnya.Di bawah projek IC inilah kerakyatan diberikan sewenang – wenangnya terhadap warga Filipina dan Indonesia. Bukan itu sahaja, malah status bangsa sebagai ‘Melayu’ dan agama sebagai ‘Islam’ dikurniakan atas arahan pemimpin yang terlibat sekitar tahun 1990 sehingga 1994 iaitu Tun Mahathir Mohamad, Allahyarham Tan Sri Megat Junid dan Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin.

Puan Siti Aminah yang terlibat dalam usaha kempen dan mempengaruhi penduduk Sabah untuk menyokong UMNO – BN ketika itu menyaksikan bahawa petugas – petugas UMNO – BN dikerahkan untuk mengedar borang pendaftaran kad pengenalan (borang dari Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara), mendapatkan butiran penduduk, mengambil gambar passport dan cap jari.

Maklumat yang diperoleh ini akan diserahkan kepada pegawai – pegawai di JPN di merata Sabah. Kad pengenalan dengan kod 03 ( projek IC ketika era Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Harris Bin Mohd Salleh, bekas Ketua Menteri Sabah), 04 dan 05 ( projek IC era Tun Mahathir ) akan siap dalam tempoh yang singkat dan dihantar kepada ketua kampong sesebuah kawasan.

Pun begitu, beliau yang hanya berurusan dengan Pejabat Perhubungan UMNO Sabah di Kota Kinabalu, ditangkap pada 20 September 1995 di Johor Bahru dan ditahan di IPD Johor Bahru kemudian di hantar ke Bukit Aman dan ditahan selama 60 hari sebelum diheret ke ISA selama dua tahun.Ibarat Ikan jerung dilepaskan, ikan bilis yang ditangkap.

Kesemua petugas yang terlibat seramai 127 orang dimasukkan ke ISA kecuali Ketua Pengarah JPN Sabah ketika itu, hanya ditukarkan ke Negeri Kelantan. Bagaimana pula dengan pemimpin UMNO – BN yang memberi arahan ini?Bagaimana lagi pemimpin UMNO – BN ingin menafikan penglibatan Tun Mahathir dalam memalsukan dokumen pengenalan rakyat asing?

Ini merupakan isu serius yang melibatkan keselamatan Negara, malah menggadai kesucian agama dan kehormatan bangsa.Saya mendesak agar Tun Mahathir dan Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin disiasat segera dan dipertanggungjawabkan di atas segala perbuatan khianat serta mencabuli kedaulatan Negara dan menafikan hak rakyat Sabah yang tulen.

Zuraida Kamaruddin

Ahli Parlimen Ampang

Aliens in the land – Indian migrant workers in Malaysia

Aliens in the land – Indian migrant workers in Malaysia
In the past 130 years, the number of foreign migrant workers in Malaya has grown from about 84,000 in 1880 to more than three million in 2010. Originally, foreign workers were predominantly from China and India and most were locked into semi-permanent “labour circulation” arrangements through their employment contracts.
Currently, foreign workers originate from a range of South and Southeast Asian countries, and Indonesians dominate labour flows. These workers migrate to Malaysia because they and their governments believe that temporary labour migration is a pathway to development. Predictably, most have also become trapped in circulating contract labour regimes.
The debate on the developmental impacts of migration meanwhile continues to exclude discussion on the risks involved and the longer-term consequences of temporary migration. There is no conversation either on integration of earlier cohorts of migrant workers in society, let alone recent migrant workers who are increasingly referred to as aliens. The outlook is particularly gloomy for Malaysia’s marginalised South Indian plantation workers who became “orphans of empire” when hardliners in the ruling United Malays National Organisation legislated to deny them citizenship rights.
Commodities of empire, 1880s – 1970s
Britain’s ‘forward movement’ in Malaya after the 1870s resulted in the country’s greater integration into the international economy and facilitated the production of mineral and agricultural commodities. Concurrently, labour migration became a fundamental component of Malaya’s economic growth model and related social structures.
Malaya’s main’s commodity exports were tin, coffee and sugar. Chinese entrepreneurs monopolised tin production, recruiting workers from China for their mines. European planters were chiefly involved in coffee and sugar cultivation and they relied on indentured labour from India for their enterprises.
In the early 20th century, the planters switched to rubber and it subsequently became the main agricultural commodity. However, they lacked the capital to establish large properties and British trading (agency) houses in Singapore consequently played a vital role in bringing together planters and overseas financial interests (mainly in Britain), to convert the estates into joint-stock companies through flotation on the stock market in London.
The 1909-10 rubber boom led to further changes and the proprietary estates largely disappeared, with their former owners often taking up shares in the new corporate entities as part of the sale price. These events foreshadowed major changes in the industry since rubber production necessitated the development of a distinctive agricultural ‘complex’ with inter-connected operations and a particular cultural milieu. Moreover, the development of the rubber industry reinforced the connections between Indian labour mobility and capital and both the Indian and Malayan colonial administrations strategically planned and organised Indian labour migration to Malaya.
The plantation production system effectively established the Indian workers’ subsequent employment circumstances and contributed to their marginalisation in Malaysia. The plantation system has since continued into the 21st century and has been adapted for oil palm production.
Analogous to colonial frameworks, the Malaysian government and labour-sending states presently organise inter-state labour mobility. Additionally, since the 1980s Indonesian and Bangladeshi migrant workers have mostly replaced the former Indian workforce on plantations. These new migrant workers face a similar marginalisation progression. This paper compares past and present plantation labour regimes in Malaysia and frames the subject in the broader context of the plantation complex to suggest the larger, wider significance of the plantation management system and its institutional frameworks.
Indian workers and rubber
The rubber production system that was developed in Malaya was centred on cultivation of a single crop– rubber; an imported workforce mainly from India; and capital for the enterprise came from Britain, the United States and Europe. By 1910, rubber plantations covered approximately 225 000 hectares, rising to 891 000 hectares in 1921. This accounted for 53 per cent of the total land under rubber in South and Southeast Asia; and Malayan rubber exports also rose from 6500 to 204 000 tonnes between 1910 and 1919.
As stated previously, rubber cultivation necessitated recruitment of a large, cheap and “disciplined” workforce that had be settled and organised to work under pioneering conditions in the country.
British India with its teeming poverty-stricken millions and caste-ridden society was the preferred provider for this labour. The state and planters (as employers) essentially regarded the Indian labourer headed for Malaya as another tradable commodity in the production cycle. All the essential arrangements for his sojourn abroad – recruitment, transport and employment – were made by four parties: the sub-imperial Indian Government (or India Office); the Colonial Office in London; the Malayan (Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States) Government; and the employers.
Since most Indian emigrants lacked the funds for spontaneous mass migration, Indian labour recruitment was managed by the India Office and sponsored by the Malayan administration. Governance arrangements for the plantation labour regime rested on two pillars – the mobilisation of a largely migrant labour force that facilitated the use of economic and extra-economic measures to maintain low wage bills; and an ethnic (and gender) differentiation of the labour force that enabled the manipulation of both workers and wages.
Private labour brokers/intermediaries were entrusted with the important task of facilitating and driving labour migration under the auspices of two recruitment methods – the indenture system and its variant, the kangani system.
The indenture recruitment method authorised employers to utilise enforceable, written labour contracts. Malayan planters either engaged the services of one of the labour recruitment firms in Nagapattinam or Madras, or sent their own agents to south India to recruit labourers directly. The agents advanced money to individuals wanting to migrate to Malaya, the advance being conditional on the intending migrants signing a contract on arrival in the country. The migrants were then considered to be under indenture to their employers for a fixed period, varying from three to five years (reduced to three years after 1904).
Subsequently, rubber planters started utilising their trusted workers as labour brokers to recruit Indian labour, thus introducing a chain migration outcome based on specific recruitment areas in south India.
This system, known as the kangani recruitment system, was primarily a personal or informal recruitment system and it became the preferred recruitment method after 1910. The kangani also provided the vital connection between poverty stricken rural south India and the frontier regions of Malaya, and enabled Indian migration to take place.
Moreover, planters favoured this method since the prospect of workers absconding became less likely, especially since the kangani had a vested interest in ensuring that the labourers did not abscond.
Growing demand for labour and the Colonial Administration’s own labour needs for public works projects led to a turning point in Indian labour recruitment in 1907. The Malayan Administration approved the Tamil Immigration Fund Ordinance 1907, establishing an Indian Immigration Committee (IIC) to manage a fund, later known as the Tamil Immigration Fund.
This legislation was important for three reasons. First the British established a state-controlled structure to handle the mass recruitment of “free” South Indian labour. Second, the Tamil Immigration Fund (renamed the Indian Immigration Fund in 1910) was set up to provide free passage for Indian labourers intending to come to Malaya.
The recruiting of workers for plantations continued to be undertaken by licensed kangani with the approval of individual planters. Third, all employers of Indian labour were charged a quarterly charge to cover the travel and related costs of Indian labour immigrants to Malaya. The levy was based on each “man-day” worked and amounted to about M$ 29.39 per head in 1912.
The IIC was authorised to manage the movement of assisted labour migrants to Malaya by monitoring the number of recruiting licenses given to the kangani and also the recruiting allowance or subsidy to migrants. Crucially, this legislation resulted in Indian labour migration evolving into two distinct categories, namely recruited and non-recruited migrants. Henceforth, whether migrants were recruited under the kangani system or arrived independently, they were considered “free” migrants.
Settling Indian labour
These transformations represented a major policy change, i.e. a move away from labour circulation to a permanently settled Indian labour force on plantations. Consequently, Indian workers recruited under the auspices of the Fund were subsequently either confined to plantations or government public projects in emerging townships.
Furthermore, although workers arrived in Malaya without any debt obligations, they continued to be considered under contract to plantation owners and under the supervision of the kangani. The government also upheld penal sanctions for breaches of labour contracts.
These penal provisions were only abolished in the Malayan Labour Codes of 1921 and 1923. Plantation production was also organised on military industrial lines and about 1,000 workers were employed on one plantation.
In the early 1920s the colonial government implemented reforms that had broad implications for subsequent Indian welfare and the Indian sex ratio in Malaya. These changes were incorporated in the 1923 Labour Code. The Malayan government endorsed two main codes: a standard wage and an improved sex ratio on the plantations, in accordance with earlier Emigration Acts.
Wages were sufficient to induce migrants to migrate to Malaya and were not revised upwards when rubber prices rose. Thus the plantation wage structure continued to be a productivity-linked wage scheme. Consequently, an Indian worker’s income, despite incorporating the concept of a standard (maintenance) wage, was based on the number of days worked. Employment was also tied to the price of rubber.
Chinese labour
A second labour reserve comprised Chinese workers. Chinese migration overseas could best be described as being conducted under both a personal recruitment system and a mixture of recruitment arrangements directed by Chinese business interests. The recruitment method included a kinship-based migration network in China and the credit-ticket network in Malaya.
The kinship-based migration network involved recruiter-couriers who recruited migrants from their own villages/regions, and relatives or friends from the migrants’ hometown normally guaranteed the passage and travel expenses. The credit-ticket system, which most migrants relied upon, necessitated the passage and travel expenses being paid by labour brokers, captains of junks or labour agencies.
The system exemplified the ‘coolie’ trade that supplied the greater part of Chinese labour migrants. This trade was controlled by Chinese and foreign agencies in the Chinese treaty ports. The migrants normally entered into verbal or written contracts for the repayment of their debt in the form of labour service. There was no recognised “establishment body” and the influence of secret societies was ubiquitous. Labourers were free men and often changed employment and job location depending on market conditions.
Parmer argues that the system of contracted workers on the rubber plantation was a Chinese innovation. This system allowed European planters to manage Chinese workers through Chinese labour contractors. Planters paid the contractors on the basis of specific work contracts on plantations. The contractors then paid the workers their wages and supplied housing and other supplies, including food.
Javanese labour
Javanese workers comprised another labour reserve since planters were concerned about being unable to maintain a continuous and unlimited supply of workers, following the abolition of Indian indentured labour in 1910.
The Javanese were recruited as indentured workers until the early 1930s. The Dutch colonial government in Indonesia regulated their employment while Dutch recruiting firms handled the recruitment procedures. They formed the smallest proportion of rubber plantation workers on Western plantations.
All three groups worked under different employment conditions on the one plantation and had dissimilar pay scales and labour protections.
According to Bauer European planters made use of south Indian labour as the permanent core of European plantation labour forces, in a ratio of about 10.2 Indians compared to 2.7 Chinese, per 100 planted acres. Whereas Indians were housed in permanent lines (compound housing) in the central section of the plantation, Chinese contract workers lived outside the plantations in their own kongsi accommodation (communal housing) or in separate huts.
Javanese also lived in compound housing but they had greater opportunities for interaction with Malays due to language and religious connections. The entire process of labour market functioning and organisation in the plantation sector was effectively regulated through legislation, recruitment systems and immigration policies that served to protect the interests of Western firms and maintain workforce fragmentation. The colonial administration was also able to repatriate unemployed Indian workers during depressed economic conditions while Chinese workers’ mobility was restricted through immigration policies, since they were considered aliens.
Most marginalised
The Indians were the most marginalised of workers. They resided in closed plantation societies in frontier zones and the plantation symbolised the boundary of their existence.
The isolation of plantations and colonial vagrancy laws also prevented them from leaving the plantation. In any case, the Indian workers’ low caste backgrounds and inability to speak either Malay or English intensified their isolation and vulnerability. They were trapped in an unending cycle of dependency and poverty on the plantation. According to one writer, the provision of housing and other amenities by planters had a built-in mechanism for social control. Labourers living in estate housing were not charged rent (which was included in the wage calculation).
Consequently if they were dismissed, they faced eviction. They were thus effectively tied to the estates and the low-wage structure inherent in the plantation system.
Crucially, the plantation system infantilised the Indians since they became dependent on their plantation masters for provision of services such as housing, crèches, and plots for growing vegetables or raising livestock and had problems making the transition to urban surroundings when they were evicted from the plantations.
Oil palm plantations
In the aftermath of the 1969 racial riots, the national government instituted a new policy known as the New Economic Policy, which incorporated poverty reduction and income redistribution programs based on affirmative action policies on behalf of the Malays. The state’s economic goals prioritised a centralised approach to national development and economic diversification.
The main concern was to raise the standard of living of Malays and hence a rural development strategy became critical in development planning. The rural development strategy and land reforms thus correlated with the opening up of large areas of land for commercial crop production to raise the incomes of the rural poor and landless Malay peasants.
The reforms incorporated block new planting schemes under the Rubber Industry Smallholders’ Development Authority and the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA). The rubber industry thus underwent a major replanting and operational reorganisation phase.
FELDA, on the other hand, was tasked with diversification of crops and led the move into oil palm production. Concurrently, between 1957 and 1960 over 300 rubber plantations with a land area of about 230,000 acres were converted into smallholdings. This figure rose to about 324,000 acres in 1967.
The fragmentation of plantations had severe repercussions for the Indian plantation workers and most of them returned to India. Subsequently attempts were made to form plantation workers’ cooperatives to purchase rubber estates for them but these involved small numbers of Indians.
'Foreign' Asians
Since colonialism had also bred resentment of foreign Asians in Malaya, the national government instigated new legislation in 1957 that effectively closed access to the labour market for them.
“Foreign” Asians or “aliens” (Chinese and Indians who were not granted citizenship) were forced to leave or were repatriated, despite their earlier connections and residence in the country.
The Malay-dominated government’s Immigration Act 1959 was primarily intended to control the movement of non-citizens into the country. Next, after the creation of Malaysia (1963), the government passed the Employment Restriction Act 1968, which was intended primarily to restrict the quantity and manipulate the ‘quality’ of migrants to ensure that only skilled non-citizens were permitted entry into the country.
The government also made it compulsory for non-citizens to apply for work permits for about 2,000 employment categories. These included the plantation industry, railways and municipal services, all of which were dominated by Indians.
The Indians’ work permits were non-renewable and consequently 60,000 Indians left for India. Although they were eligible for citizenship, they were unable to acquire citizenship, and their reasons for wanting it to secure employment were not acceptable to the Malays.
Orphans of empire
The new exclusionist policies also discriminated against Indians’ economic and political rights, turning them into “orphans of empire”.
Importantly there was a shift in citizenship classification categories in the country. From an earlier racial categorisation, Indians became non-citizen aliens and were transformed into “stateless” and illegal migrants.
The new Malaysian state hence became a closed labour market and citizenship conferred both the right to reside and work in the country. The share of Indian workers in agriculture (i.e. plantations for the Indians) declined, falling from 12.8 per cent in 1950 to 9.7 per cent in 1970. Most of the Malayan citizen-Indians then either continued to work on rubber plantations or were absorbed within the oil palm sector.
But the demand for a less-skilled hired workforce had not diminished in Malaysia. The government subsequently modified its labour migration policy and this change signalled a second period in the history of plantation structures and associated labour regimes. Indonesia, Thailand and subsequently Bangladesh became the preferred labour providers for the plantation sector and the workers were hired under guest worker schemes. Employers also subcontracted all responsibilities to labour contractors.
This second period of foreign labour recruitment for the plantation sector is best observed through the lens of business cycles and structural changes in the Malaysian economy. During an initial phase the government surreptitiously allowed local contractors/intermediaries to recruit Indonesian workers from the Indonesian squatter settlements in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley. Subsequently both regular and irregular migrants formed the nucleus of less-skilled foreign workers in the oil palm plantations during this period.
In the 1980s an offshore recruitment program was started, consistent with the launch of a consortium of labour recruiting agencies in Indonesia, known as the pengusaha pengerah tenaga kerja Indonesia (PPTKI) in 1981. This consortium was established by the Indonesian Manpower Supply Association to organise and manage Indonesians migrants’ mobility overseas.
The Malaysian government’s intention was to keep the workers coming through legal channels and it then established a Committee for the Recruitment of Foreign Workers in 1982 to ensure the Indonesians were employed in the designated sectors. This was also done to appease Malaysians generally, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, representing Malaysian workers, and opposition leaders. Afterwards, Malaysia instigated labour accords with labour-sending countries.
The government’s role was largely confined to official immigration procedures and formalisation of recruitment regulations while employers and private recruiting agencies handled recruitment tasks. Consequently, migration industries evolved in both countries to handle the trade in migrant workers under explicit conditions.
Contract migrant workers were categorised as semi-skilled or unskilled workers (who earned less than $2,500 per month). They were given visit passes for temporary employment in Malaysia and the passes were used to regulate their admittance, place of residence and employment type. They were not allowed to bring their dependents with them.
The government’s plan was to ensure that the workers’ employment remained temporary and encourage employers to introduce labour-saving technology on plantations. Another major policy change impacted on the remaining Indian plantation workers’ employment conditions. In the 1980s, rubber and oil palm planters extended the contract system to Indian workers, although Indians were employed directly by them. One researcher has surmised that since the “ties” between the kangani (the field supervisor) and Indian workers had been removed following passing of the 1955 Employment Act, planters extended the contract system to their Indian workers in order to have greater control over them.
Recurring policy
Against the backdrop of continuing irregular migration and depressed economic conditions the government then suspended foreign labour recruitment in 1986. Then, in 1989 the government introduced another policy amendment, i.e. declaration of an amnesty for the irregular workers, followed by a legalisation program for these (mainly Indonesian) workers in the oil palm plantation sector.
The government’s regularisation program subsequently became a recurring characteristic of Malaysian foreign labour policy and a long-term policy instrument for labour force growth. In implementing this strategy of offering amnesty and an opportunity to become regularised, Malaysia followed closely behind the United States, Europe and Thailand.
Furthermore, the policy also contributes to a larger legal labour pool that has consequences both for domestic and international investment. Simultaneously, the government introduced a levy or tax to reduce planters’ reliance on foreign workers and encouraged them to upgrade their operations. This annual levy (or tax) on migrant workers was stipulated in the 1991/2 national budget and the levy differed according to the sector and migrants’ skill categories (general, semi-skilled and unskilled).
Although the levy was imposed on employers, in fact levy payments could legally be passed on to workers from 1992 -2009. In 2009 employers became responsible for payment of the levy but this ruling has recently (2013) been rescinded, with the implementation of a minimum wage, so as not to “burden” employers. One reason could be that “2013 is an election year and strange things happen in election years”.
Nevertheless, the harsh working conditions and remoteness of plantations, coupled with a non-existent social life and the contract labour environment, resulted in workers absconding and also deterred employee stability on plantations.
Compared to other sectors, the government has been “fairly generous” as regards plantation workers’ contract periods. The contracts have been extended from 3 years in 1984 to 5 years in 1994 and 7 years in 1998.
In 2002 the figure dropped to 6 years and employers were allowed to recruit workers from 9 countries. The government also enacted new legislation, the Workers Minimum Housing Standards and Amenities Act 1990. This legislation prescribed minimum standards of housing and provision of nurseries for workers and their dependents. Additionally, employers were required to allocate land for cultivation and grazing and provide medical and social services. Nevertheless, the legislation was initially applicable to Peninsular Malaysia only and covered plantations that were more than 20 hectares.
Thus the oil palm plantation complex has been beset with acute problems under the national government’s (mis)management of the plantation system. The contractor system has also led to allegations of forced labour in the oil palm industry by the United States Department of Labour and the Malaysian government has had to pass new legislation on working conditions.
Planters also dislike having to rely excessively on one particular ethnic group and the guest worker program since the oil palm industry is seen as “the pillar of rural economy and provides job opportunities for more than 1.5 million people in the sector.
Overall, the government’s policy of undue reliance on cheap foreign labour and the plight of the dispossessed marginalised communities in the country have clearly contributed to this dismal situation. Perhaps the new minimum wage in the plantation sector (as of 2013) may draw in some of the earlier marginalised Indians but it will certainly require more accommodation on the part of the state to make it work.

CUEPACS president slammed for playing politics

CUEPACS president slammed for playing politics
Civil service union CUEPACS president Omar Osman (pic) was today heavily criticised for urging government servants to back Barisan Nasional at the coming general election.
“Omar’s act of urging civil servants to support BN is inappropriate. It is their right to choose whichever party they prefer,” said Jerai member of parliament Firdaus Jaafar.
CEUPACS, he said, should be professional and should not become part of any political party.
“His action will cause civil servants to lose public trust,” added Firdaus.
Firdaus, who is also PAS Youth exco member, said Omar should instead focus on the well-being of civil servants including fighting for some 13,000 contract staff to have their status converted to permanent employees.
Omar had called on civil servants to support prime minister Najib Razak’s administration, saying that voting for the opposition could affect their employment benefits.
But Firdaus said civil servants should carefully evaluate the offers put forward by Pakatan Rakyat in its manifesto.
Among others, PR promised reduction of housing loan interest and wages to commensurate workload.

SHADOW OF GUILT: Paranoid BN bans Int'l Conference on Malaysia's GE13 from Parliament

SHADOW OF GUILT: Paranoid BN bans Int'l Conference on Malaysia's GE13 from Parliament
There are several pertinent developments to International Conference on Malaysia 13 General Elections, they are as follows:
The Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has rejected the application by the Office of the Leader of Opposition to use Parliament House.
In his written reply, dated February 26, 2013, he stated that it was unnecessary for the event to be held at Parliament, citing further that the conference was beyond the legislative jurisdiction of Parliament and suggesting it was political.
He added that he has to sustain the integrity, supremacy and sovereignty of the institution at all times.
I am unsure how having a conference discussing the manner in which democratically individuals like the Speaker are selected through a desired free and fair election would be counter to the purpose of Parliament.
The conference with eminent panellist from near and far, including those serving Dewan Rakyat from Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, is certainly an event that embellishes the integrity, supremacy and sovereignty of the institution, not detract from it.
Forced by the situation, the conference will be now held at Lake Club, Kuala Lumpur.
Two prominent individuals are joining the conference.
Kota Belud MP Dato’ Abdul Rahman Dahlan has agreed to be panellist. The Umno legislator from Sabah will help provide insight and more importantly increase the diversity of views in the discussions he will be part of.
The leader of Cambodia’s opposition, Sam Rainsy, has also agreed to be a panellist. The leader of the Sam Rainsy party, he brings with him the experience of electoral processes in a country recovering from a period of authoritarian rule.
I like to thank both gentlemen for their consent.
Abd Malek Hussin
Chair Convener of Conference
International Conference on Malaysia 13th General Elections

Speaker throws out Anwar’s request

Opposition Leader's application to hold conference on free and fair elections in Parliament rejected by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.
PETALING JAYA: Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia has rejected Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s application to hold an International Conference on Malaysia’s 13th General Election in Parliament.
In a statement today, the conference’s chair convener, Abd Malek Hussin, said that Speaker felt the event was politically motivated.
“Pandikar justified his decision by saying that he has to sustain the integrity, supremacy and sovereignity of Parliament,” said Malik.
As a result of the Speaker’s decision, the organising committee has now decided to hold the conference at the Lake Club in Kuala Lumpur.
Anwar, had on Feb 26, said that he had gotten permission from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz and Pandikar to hold the conference in Parliament on March 4 and 5.
The conference will be attended by panelists from Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, in addition to several other foreign guests from around the region.
Malek said that he was baffled as to how Pandikar felt that a discussion on free and fair elections would run contrary to the sanctity of Parliament.
“The event is about upholding the integrity and sovereignity of the August house, not the other way around.
“Besides, politicians from both sides of the divide have been invited for the conference,” he said.
Umno MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Cambodia’s opposition leader Sam Rainsy were among the earliest to confirm their attendance.
- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/02/28/speaker-throws-out-anwars-request/#sthash.frRdYUo4.dpuf

Surendran to make election debut

The PKR vice-president confirms that he will be contesting for the parliamentary seat of Padang Serai in Kedah.
KUALA LUMPUR: He started out as a human rights activist and then made the transition to politics. Now, PKR vice-president N Surendran has his guns trained on a parliamentary seat for his election debut.
The lawyer, a familiar face at the forefront of numerous human rights abuse cases, would be contesting in the Padang Serai constituency in Kedah, now held by N Gobalakrishnan.
Gobalakrishnan, who quit PKR following differences with the leadership, is still hoping that he would be allowed to contest the seat without hindrance from Barisan Nasional.
In an exclusive interview with FMT, Surendran said: “Yes, I would be contesting the Padang Serai seat. I have worked in elections since 1999; however, this would be the first time I would be standing as a candidate.”
“It is quite a challenge and at the same time it is exciting, but the main goal is to garner enough seats in order to take control of the federal government.
“There is a need to change this country; to rule this country the way it ought to be done,” he added.
Commenting on the speculation that many PKR MPs would be replaced in the coming election, he said that seat deliberations are still ongoing.
“It is an open secret that certainly some may be dropped and there may be new candidates but most would be able to accept the central leadership’s decision.
“There are many ways for them to contribute especially after the takeover of Putrajaya, which we are reasonably confident of, because there’s a lot of work to be done,” he added.
Surendran said that there is a place for everyone in PKR, in the efforts to clean up this country. “We need to end corruption, we also need to clean up the administration,” he added.
With regard to Padang Serai, Surendran said that he had been working on the ground there for sometime.
“I was assigned to contest in Padang Serai by the party leadership which, of course, I immediately accepted.
“I started working in Padang Serai sometime back to send Pakatan’s message down to the people, to explain the changes that we wish to bring,” he added.
No separate list of Indian candidates
Surendran revealed that among the many problems in Padang Serai, it was the poverty rate that alarmed him.
“There’s a lot of problems in Padang Serai, there are many poor people and there’s definitely a lot of work to be done because the poverty rate there is quite shocking. The federal government has not done enough to tackle poverty,” he added.
Asked whether there is a separate list of PKR Indian candidates, he replied that there is none.
“There is no separate list of PKR Indian candidates in the general election. Candidates are being chosen on the basis of requirements of the constituencies, capability, capacity, track record and potential contribution to a new Pakatan government.
“The primary consideration would be the ability of the candidate to bring change to this country and to serve the people of this country,” he added.
Surendran stressed that for a clean and corrupt-free nation, candidates must have the ideas and initiatives to put Malaysia on the right path.
Last week, Gobalakrishnan told FMT said that he will defend his seat as an independent candidate with BN’s support, adding that he had urged BN not to contest against him.
“I definitely stand a better chance than an MCA (BN) candidate,” he told FMT. “Nobody has shown more interest in the wellbeing of the people there than I have.”
Gobalakrishnan quit PKR in early 2011 after receiving a show-cause letter over his attacks against the party leadership.
- See more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/02/28/padang-serai-surendrans-election-debut/#sthash.wuG0fuFl.dpuf

PI Bala: A lot of hot air but no 'bomb'

(Yahoo News) - “Bala! Bala!” The crowd cheered as private investigator P Balasubramaniam walked with his hands raised into a packed hall at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH). And thus the night began with an air of anticipation – that something "big" will be revealed.
Hundreds of people poured into the hall last night while others watched on a screen provided outside despite the rain yesterday evening.
Close to 1,000 people from all walks of life -- from a young man with skinny jeans and eyeliner to elderly grandfather wearing a kopiah -- anxiously waited for the main event.
The night began like a concert with opening acts to warm up the audience. Controversial political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque or Zunar and Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel took to the stage to fire up the crowd and set the backdrop for Bala’s "revelations".
After more than an hour, Bala finally took the stage and sat with Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) chief Badrul Hisham Shaharin, who was the moderator.
Bala, who had just returned home on Sunday, Feb 24, after being in hiding since 2008, was now centre stage, looking visibly nervous. He started his two-hour-long "talk" by recounting how he met Abdul Razak Baginda to the day he issued his second statutory declaration (SD).
Bala, the key witness in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial, had linked the then deputy prime minister Najib Razak to the murder in his first SD. However, he retracted the passage regarding Najib in the second SD the next day. - See more at: http://fz.com/content/pi-bala-back-arrives-klia-heros-welcome
Bala was the key witness in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial, and he had linked the then deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the murder in his first SD. However, he retracted the passage regarding Najib in a second SD the next day.
Bala stumbled on his words, constantly referring to PowerPoint slides to help remember the events, and it went on for so long that he even took a toilet break. “I am very sorry. I haven’t been in the country for so many years so I hope you will have patience with me,” he apologised to the crowd.
Although Bala repeated and revealed nothing new, the audience were at the edge of their seats, glued to his words. The crowd cheered and jeered every time Bala mentioned the names of the prime minister and his wife.
Bala also gave his version of what happened when he met businessman Deepak Jaikishan after he issued his first SD.
“We went to one Chinese shop in Rawang and he (Deepak) was asking what do you get by doing that SD one? Then suddenly I received a call from my wife that she getting harassed by two Malay men outside the house... He (Deepak) said 'don’t worry. If you can prepare this SD then everything will be solved'.
Bala also claimed that he had allegedly met Datuk Nazim Razak at The Curve and that Nazim had threatened Bala's family because of the first SD.
Badrul later promised that last night was the first of many public forums that SAMM planned to organise with Bala nationwide, promising to drop more “bombs” in Kelantan, Johor and Sabah.
Bala declined to speak to reporters.

Putrajaya told to cut excise tax if serious about cheaper cars

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 – Putrajaya should cut excise tax for all foreign cars shipped into the country instead of doing away with the import duty for high-end makes that only the rich can afford, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli said today.
“If Umno/Barisan Nasional is also concerned about the people’s fate, it should reduce the excise duty, not make a shadow play like now,” the PKR strategy director said in an immediate statement following the federal government’s announcement this morning.
He also said the 13.6 per cent import tax cut for cars in the 2,500-3,000cc fuel capacity range would only affect 21,000 units a year, noting that a large proportion of the foreign cars favoured by Malaysians were completely built in Japan, which formed around 3.5 per cent of the total industry volume.
“The total number of cars imported from Australia is too small and will completely not impact the car price in that country,” Rafizi said.
An excise tax is an extra charge imposed by a government on use or consumption of certain products, such as gambling, motor fuels, cigarettes and alcohol. It is conventionally levied to protect the domestic market or to discourage people from buying certain goods.
The opposition politician said his party maintained its stand that the excise tax needed to be restructured if cars were to be cheaper.
He noted that excise tax, coupled with the sales tax, that starts from 85 per cent for a 1,800cc car and exceeded 115 per cent for the high-end makes of 3,000cc are imposed on all cars regardless of where they were built.
“It is this tax that is choking the people, especially the lower-income classes that buy locally-made cars,” he said.
He added that for this income group, they were “forced” to fork out to double the original car price because of the excise tax.
“More importantly, the excise tax is fully within the control of the federal government without having to negotiate with any country,” he said.
Rafizi repeated his party’s promise under the recently-launched Pakatan Rakyat (PR) election manifesto to reduce the excise tax by 20 per cent in stages over a five-year period.
He said that by 2018, there would be no more excise tax on foreign-made cars on the road here if PR were voted into Putrajaya.
PR in its manifesto has promised to liberalise the national automotive industry to increase its competitiveness, leading to a national car priced as low as RM25,000.
Currently, Perodua Viva starts at RM24,912 for its 660 BX variant, while a Proton Saga FLX starts at RM38,361 for its standard variant with manual transmission.
The initiative to lower car prices is the government’s way to help the youths who are struggling financially in urban areas, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said earlier today.
“We understand that cars is a necessity for youths in Kuala Lumpur ... We sympathise with them,” he said.
He however insisted that in long term, the more sustainable solution should be to improve Malaysia’s public transport instead of making it easy for citizens to purchase cars.
“The long term solution is not to keep on encouraging people to drive a car to work ... It’s not environmentally friendly,” Mustapa said.
The minister declined to comment when asked about the possibility of reducing traffic congestion in urban areas when cars can be available for cheaper prices.
The Malaysian Insider understands that under the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which came into effect on January 1, Putrajaya has committed to cut duties from 15 per cent in 2013 to 10 per cent in 2014 and 5 per cent in 2015 with zero duties in 2016.
Malaysia is also a signatory to the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreement, which will liberalise the automotive industry by the end of 2015 through the removal of taxes on vehicles with at least 40 per cent Asean regional value content.