Archive for February, 2014


Anwar as Selangor MB will provide track record for next polls, says top analyst

A prominent Malaysia watcher has said that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becoming the Selangor Menteri Besar could be a game changer for the opposition, as it provided him the opportunity to lead the state and a track record to pitch to Malaysians in the future.

Dr Ooi Kee Beng, the deputy director of Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, noted that a successful Anwar could heap more pressure on the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak ahead of the next general election due in 2018.

“If he runs Selangor, then the policies carried out in the state can be used as track record come the next general election.

“If he has a good track record, from policy making to solving water problems, then he would have something to convince voters, he would have a track record worth talking about,” Ooi told The Malaysian Insider.

Anwar, the 1970s student activist who joined the ruling Umno in 1982 and later rose to deputy party president and deputy prime minister, was fired in 1998 on sodomy and corruption charges.

“Otherwise, his whole political CV is just based on him being the deputy prime minister and finance minister in the mid 90s,” the analyst said.

Ooi also noted that if Anwar takes over from the popular Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, the parliamentary Opposition Leader would be able to resolve the feud between Khalid and Selangor PKR chief Azmin Ali.

“It’s like killing two birds with one stone,” Ooi (pic, right) quipped.

With racial and religious issues at an all time high in Malaysia’s richest and most industrialised state, Ooi said the pressure would be on Anwar to resolve these problems.

Last month, the state’s Islamic Religious Department raided and seized more than 300 copies of Malay and Iban language Bibles from the Bible Society of Malaysia.

To date, the Bibles have not been returned despite the 10-point solution endorsed by Putrajaya in 2011 allowing the Bible to be printed, imported and distributed nationwide with certain conditions imposed for the peninsula.

This was on the heels of protests over the use of the Arabic word “Allah” by non-Muslims, which Muslim groups insist is exclusive to Islam.

“It is a religionisation of ethnic differences, it will make compromises much more difficult. This is when national leaders are needed and Najib hasn’t shown that so far. With Anwar coming in, the pressure will be on Najib to act like a national leader,” Ooi said in reference to Najib.

Anwar as Selangor MB will provide track record for next polls, says top analyst
February 07, 2014 – TMI


Rafizi demands audit of 1Azam scheme

PETALING JAYA, Feb 4 — PKR’s Rafizi Ramli has urged the Auditor-General (A-G) to audit funds appropriated to the 1Azam poverty eradication scheme, which he alleged today has been misused.

The party strategy director said the scandal, if proven true, could be even bigger than the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) controversy, which had involved funds of up to RM250 million.

He pointed out that 1Azam, the federal government’s key poverty eradication programme, has been operating on a sizeable billion-ringgit budget over the past four years.

“I think this is time the Auditor-General should intervene directly and immediately audit so that 1Azam funds will not continue to be abused.

“I think it’s very scandalous because the moment the people know the whole gist and details of the scheme and the alleged misappropriations go to the public, the disillusionment is even bigger than NFC,” he said.

Rafizi’s call today comes on the heels of a complaint by local graftbusters against the delayed prosecution of two former officers of a Cabinet minister, who were due to appear in court.

In the statement yesterday, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) consultation and corruption prevention advisory panel chairman Datuk Johan Jaaffar had lamented that further delays would lead to the perception of selective prosecution or interference in MACC’s work.

The panel chief also urged the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to explain the delay.

Last week, the MACC had announced in the media that the duo – one an ex-political secretary with the title of “Datuk”, and another a director of one of the foundations headed by the Datuk – were to be charged with criminal breach of trust involving some RM1.1 million and another charge for cheating involving RM1 million.

Shortly after the statement, the graftbusting agency corrected its report to say that the men would be charged at an undetermined date.

It is understood that the case is related to the detention of Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim, Shahrizat’s former political secretary, who confirmed last September that he was detained for investigations by MACC.

Suhaimi had said that he was investigated for allegedly misappropriating funds meant for the poor under the 1Azam programme.

The 1Azam scheme was introduced by former Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Rafizi demands audit of 1Azam scheme
February 4, 2014 – Malay Mail Online


Najib feels the heat from old Umno hands

Comeuppance or deja vu, Najib feels the heat from old Umno hands

What goes around comes around.

Just after the 2008 elections, Datuk Seri Najib Razak watched as the then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi got skewered for Barisan
Nasional’s (BN) abysmal showing at the polls, with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad leading the campaign to oust Pak Lah from office.

The constant hammering took its toll and in March 2009, Abdullah made way for Najib. Until today, Abdullah’s supporters believe that the so-called groundswell against the PM was not as widespread as painted by Dr Mahathir and his instigator-in-chief, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

But Abdullah had little drive to stay and fight, concerned that a war with his nemesis would mortally wound Umno.

Truth be told, he also never recovered from that day in March when BN lost five states and
the two-thirds control of Parliament.

So he handed power over to Najib, though his men on the ground told him that Najib was part of the campaign to unseat him.

By then, he either chose not to believe that his deputy was plotting against him or was indifferent.

Wounded and upset, some of Abdullah’s supporters consoled themselves with the belief that Najib would receive his comeuppance one day.

It seems that day has come.

What goes around comes around.

It has taken about five years but Najib now knows what it feels to be under siege by Dr Mahathir and his supporters.

He is concerned. He should be.

Because he has witnessed the tenacity and destructiveness of Dr Mahathir; the manner in which the former prime minister keeps chipping away at the perceived weaknesses of his
enemy and the doctor’s ability to paint a dire picture for party and country if his target remains at the helm.

The Mahathir machinery has started moving, with the former PM meeting small groups and repeating the mantra about Najib being a weak leader and the real possibility of BN losing power in the next polls if he is still at the controls.

For good measure, Dr Mahathir has also hammered Najib’s reliance on advisers, consultants and Pemandu, the government efficiency unit led by former Malaysia Airlines managing director Datuk Seri Idris Jala.

Sound familiar? It should. In 2008, the attack was on Abdullah’s reliance on the Fourth Floor, his group of youngish advisers.

Najib’s circle knows the parallel between then and now.

Comeuppance or deja vu, Najib feels the heat from old Umno hands
February 04, 2014 – TMI


Why the hurry for more dams?

Despite Bakun reportedly running at half its optimum, Murum in the impoundment process and slow take-up by industries, the state government is pushing ahead wth its plans for Baram and other dams.

MIRI: Something is wrong about Sarawak’s hydro-electricity plans. For one, Bakun power plant is running at just half its capacity, according to protestors at manning the anti-Baram dam blockades.

And there is also Batang Ai and Murum, the later currently being impounded.

Against this there continues to be a concerted push by the state government for 12 more dams, to be reportedly sited at Ulu Air, Metjawah, Belaga, Baleh, Belepeh, Lawas, Tutoh, Limbang, Baram, Murum and Linau rivers. The plan includes an extension to the Batang Ai dam.

The construction of the world’s second tallest dam at Bakun was itself left questionable after earlier justifications for it were linked to the prospect of running undersea cables to Peninsular Malaysia and powering the rest of Borneo as well. Both fell apart.

Questions continue to swirl around Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s massive projects when there is still no use for the power.

The Sarawak Corriodr for Renewable Energy (Score) the reason for these dams, itself has faile to draw in the much speculated industrial giants.,

According to the news portal, Sarawak Report, Taib is “scouring the world for power-guzzling industries to relocate near Bakun, a prospect which many of the more reputation conscious companies, like Rio Tinto Alcan, have notably decided against”.

The Sarawak Electricity Board has nevertheless been saying that there is and will be demand and further dams are needed as a point of urgency.

In which case why has teh capacity of the eight turbines at Bakun been down-graded? The total electricity generated now is just over half of the 2400MW capacity.

So what is the hurry for new dams?

Bakun is supposed to have eight turbines, each able to generate 300 MW of power and all the turbines were scheduled to have been installed by the end of last year.

Seven units are “already commissioned” but only six are reportedly in operation todate.

“But all six units are now running half load, powering 150MW each,” said a source.

Inviting ‘dirty’ industries

The Sarawak government’s plan is to use up the huge quantities of power it will generate by inviting potentially “dirty” industries to relocate to the state.

Environmentalists however point out that Sarawak’s already mauled rivers will be destroyed once and for all.

But sources here said the planners at Score are determined to push ahead with their mega-project without doing an in-depth study on the possible consequences.

Why the hurry for more dams?
February 3, 2014 – FMT


Mahathir’s nightmare, Anwar Ibrahim

Anwar Ibrahim has no right to be a leader. So reports Bernama.

According to Bernama news, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a once-upon-a-time prime minister of Malaysia, said that Anwar Ibrahim – a rising star of prime ministerial hope for many, has no right to be a leader.

With the Tun’s latest nightmare tantrum addition, the rakyat will now keep wondering since when did this edit come into place on the Malaysian political landscape.

The question is since when did individuals anywhere on this democratic planet “have a right” to be a leader?

And in making that allegation, the Tun has only further bulldozed home into the minds and hearts of Malaysians and the world-over, the perception that Dr Mahathir is the slayer of democracy and guilty of desecrating the sanctity of voting in a democratic manner.

In the first place no one has any right to be a leader. In a democracy that the world is fighting hard to promote, uphold and defend, it is the voting citizens – the community of people, who choose, anoint and consecrate an individual to be their leader.

By stating that one has a right to be a leader the Tun is certainly marketing tyranny. As long as one thinks he or she has a right to be leader, he or she clings to power. That is tyranny. It is not democracy, Tun!

Indeed, each time Anwar Ibrahim takes centre-stage on the political circuit, Tun gets all worked-up and jittery. One cannot help but conclude that Tun must be having nightmares at the prospect of Anwar becoming the chosen, anointed and consecrated leader for all Malaysians.

So, his recent media statement through Bernama – the national news agency, that there is a right to claim leadership clearly should ring alarm bells within and outside the nation. Champions of democracy will clampdown the enemies of democracy for democracy is the platform for the new age civilisation taking root across the planet since the dawn of Glasnost (openness) and the democratisation of Communism.

Tun, the people decide. Not you. Not Umno Baru. Not Anwar.

But at least Anwar has the humility to know that fundamental truth, but sadly not you.

Mahathir’s nightmare, Anwar Ibrahim
Feb 11, 2014 – Malaysiakini Letters


Tell us why we can’t have English-medium schools as AN OPTION

“If having English as a medium of instruction is good for UiTM, why isn’t it good for the rest of the country?”

by Ho Kay Tat

I COULD not believe what I read. The government has engaged Cambridge English Language Assessment to evaluate the teaching and learning of English as some people have complained that proficiency in the language is not as good as before.

Do we need another study? And how much will it cost? I thought the government was short of money.

If the government does not believe that the standard of English has dropped, why doesn’t it just ask the Malaysian Employers Federation and the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers?

They can tell you how the situation has deteriorated over the years and how investments and job creation will slow considerably if more and more of our labour force are unable to read and write English competently.

Or they can try conversing and listening in English with the thousands of young Malaysians who do not come from English-speaking homes and studied in our national, Chinese and Tamil schools.

I was at the annual dinner of a big financial services company recently and a young man with its administrative support department, who had won one of the best dressed prizes, was asked in English by the emcee, “Please explain to us what you are dressed as.”

He could not understand the question and requested that it be repeated in Bahasa Malaysia.

I don’t blame the young man. In fact, I sympathise with him.

I blame a system that has failed him and many, many others by depriving them of the chance to have a decent command of English.

That is why The Edge supports the idea of having primary schools with English as the main medium of instruction as AN OPTION.

We do not understand why there are options to have the medium of instruction in Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin and Tamil but not in English, a language that is so important.

After all, offering English-medium schools as an option does not take away the rights of those who want to study in other languages.

As Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon said at The Edge Forum on Education on Jan 18, we allow Chinese schools for 20% of the population and Tamil schools for 11% of the population, but do not provide English-medium schools for 26% of the population of various races for whom English is the main language.

Offering English-medium schools as an option fulfils the needs of those who want to be taught in English, without forcing it on everyone. This was what happened with the teaching of mathematics and science in English (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik Dalam Bahasa Inggeris in Bahasa Malaysia or PPSMI), which was compulsory in all schools.

This led to complaints that students who were weak in English could not cope. As a result, the PPSMI was scrapped. While the move is fair to those weak in English, it is unfair to those who can cope and want to use English.

Many of us who have done well today know that it is because we were empowered by our ability to speak, read and write English. Our parents, though they did not know a word of the language, made sure we were schooled in English.

Our founding prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, made sure English was the medium of teaching in his time because he knew that mastering the language was a window to the world for Malaysians. He also knew that English-medium schools would attract students of all races and he wanted them to mingle.

The leaders who followed him changed all that and the end result is what we have today.

At national primary schools or sekolah kebangsaan, 97% of the enrolment comprises one race, while children of other races opt to go to vernacular schools or sekolah jenis kebangsaan.

The primary school years are an important formative period as this is when children start to interact with people outside of their homes and families. If they study and play with boys and girls of other races, they will build a level of comfort and appreciate our multi-racial fabric. This was the case in the 1960s, 1970s and even the 1980s, when our national schools were more racially mixed.

Today, Malaysians are divided by race from a very young age and by the time they enter secondary schools, their views about those from another race would have been coloured by the six years spent in a largely mono-ethnic primary school environment.

The World Bank has said that failure to address the quality of education will prevent us from becoming a high-income economy. And we all know what will happen to Malaysia as a society if our young people only live and think within their respective ethnic silos.

And lately, another silo has mushroomed, a breakaway, so to speak, from the mainstream school system, and that is the private and international schools. Unfortunately, only those who can afford it can take this “escape” route.

A fact that few people are aware of, and which my colleague Azam Aris has mentioned in one of his recent columns (Issue 990, Nov 25), is that English has long been used as the medium of teaching in many subjects at the bastion of Malay education – Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM).

At The Edge Forum, I posed the question: “If having English as a medium of instruction is good for UiTM, why isn’t it good for the rest of the country?”

Tell us why we can’t have English-medium schools as AN OPTION
Feb 03, 2014 –


Why the delay in charging ex-Umno political aide with corruption?

Mounting speculation over delay in charging ex-Umno political aide with corruption

There is mounting speculation of political intervention or selective prosecution in the delay in charging a former Umno political secretary arrested last Monday for misappropriating RM1.1 million from three foundations.

Sources say the former political aide and a director of one of the foundations were linked to investigations that money from the foundations was diverted for political purposes instead of being used to help the poor.

“This is an explosive investigation and just the tip of the iceberg. Some Umno people don’t want to see this case go to court,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.

He was referring to a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) statement last week, saying it had arrested two men, including a former political secretary with a datuk title, and were expected to charge them on Tuesday.

But hours later, the MACC said there had been a mistake and the men would be charged at an undetermined date. Both were released on RM50,000 bail.

“The power of prosecution lies with the Attorney General’s Chambers and any MACC statement is only issued after they agree,” another source said.

“MACC is ready but no one knows why there is a delay. It might happen this week but who knows,” he added.

According to the MACC statement issued by Investigations Director Commissioner Datuk Mustafar Ali, the two men in their 30s and 50s were to be charged in the Sessions Court last Tuesday with criminal breach of trust amounting to some RM1.1 million and cheating involving RM1 million.

The ex-political secretary and director were arrested on January 27 morning and evening and released on bail ahead of their charges.

The three foundations involved in the case were set up in the 1980s and three years but were registered as limited companies and not as welfare bodies, it added.

The two were the directors and trustees of the foundations and MACC said the money was taken out against the foundations’ objectives.

The statement said another director with a datuk title was also held for offences under the Companies Act in an investigation related to the foundation.

Several Putrajaya insiders say the Attorney General’s Chambers must act quickly to dispel the impression of selective prosecution in high-profile cases, noting that former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik had brought up that complaint last month.

“People are watching the government. They must be fair and charge all, not just those outside Umno,” said one insider.

It is understood that the case is related to the detention of Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim, the former political secretary to former women, family and community development minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil (pic), who confirmed last September that he was detained for investigations by MACC.

Mounting speculation over delay in charging ex-Umno political aide with corruption
February 03, 2014 – TMI


Shafee has ‘too much baggage’ to be next AG, says lawyers group

Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (pic) and Putrajaya will suffer from negative public perception if he is made the Attorney General, a lawyers group said.

Lawyers for Liberty adviser and co-founder Eric Paulsen said Putrajaya should not even consider Shafee a candidate for the job as “he is carrying too much baggage”.

“The office of the AG is sacrosanct and any candidate must be seen to be neutral and above politics,” Paulsen told The Malaysian Insider.

He said if Shafee was appointed or even considered for the post, then the whole debacle that had plagued the AG’s position would turn from bad to worse because he (Shafee) is “through and through an Umno lawyer”.

He said Shafee had acted and advised previous prime ministers and even current premier and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak on various matters.

“Shafee was also known to have taken up adversarial position against the opposition, especially Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“That is why, it is all the more inappropriate for him to be involved in Anwar’s sodomy case. The public perception is that if he successfully secured a conviction for the prosecution, there will be a trade off, and Shafee gets to be the next AG,” said Paulsen.

On January 9, 2012, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur acquitted Anwar on a charge of sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 26, at the Desa Damansara condominium unit in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, on June 26, 2008.

Shafee is expected to lead the prosecution when the Court of Appeal hears the public prosecutor’s appeal on February 12.

Paulsen was commenting on The Malaysian Insider report today where Shafee had said that he would take up the position of Attorney General as “service to the public was far more important than making money”.

“I would take any position to do public service. And if that public service is something I am qualified for, if the government really requires me, I will take it,” said the 61-year-old Shafee.

Shafee said rumours of him becoming the AG had been around since the time of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, some 15 to 20 years ago.

He had said that his appointment as ad hoc deputy public prosecutor to lead the prosecution team to overturn the acquittal of Anwar, should also be seen as doing public service.

Paulsen said Shafee’s admission confirmed what has been an open secret for a long time among the legal fraternity.

Shafee has ‘too much baggage’ to be next AG, says lawyers group
January 31, 2014 – TMI


‘Inaction over blood protest irresponsible’

Inaction against a group of protesters that slaughtered chickens and smeared its blood on banners of politicians’ faces last week is tantamount to authorities ignoring threats to public order, the Malaysian Bar Council said.

The Bar’s president Christopher Leong (left) said the incident, whereby banners featuring the faces of several DAP and PKR leaders’ were smeared with blood and propositions were made to the public to slap Seputeh MP Teresa Kok was dangerous as it also made references to the May 13, 1969 racial riots.

The Bar Council said the actions carried out by the group, which dubbed itself Council of Islamic NGOs, can be viewed as an “incitement and a threat to public order”.

“It is wholly irresponsible of the authorities not to take immediate and firm action,” Leong told reporters during a press conference at the Bar Council office in Kuala Lumpur.

Leaders told to show leadership

Leong said those in power appear to be dragging their feet and this may then promote such threatening actions.

“I believe there are a lot of images (of the protest) and it would be very easy for the authorities to identify the participants and take action,” he said.

He also expressed his “surprise and disappointment” at the statement made by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi concerning the protest, which took place at downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Ahmad Zahid had said that the open offer of RM500, which was later raised to RM1,200, for anyone to slap Seputeh MP Teresa Kok does not constitute a threat.

He was reported saying that for the police to act, it must be at least have been a murder threat.

“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that slapping somebody is at the very least an assault, a criminal offence,” Leong said, adding that the authorities should be fair in resolving such problems.

“The Bar Council calls on those in leadership positions to, in fact, show leadership.

“It is only with fair and even-handed leadership that there is hope that we are able to resolve the tension that prevails… leaders should not instead, by their action or inaction, contribute to such tension,” Leong said.

Feb 11, 2014 – Malaysiakini
‘Inaction over blood protest irresponsible’


Whoever threatens another with injury has committed criminal intimidation

Ahmad Zahid wrong to say slap threat is nothing, say lawyers

Criminal lawyers have denounced the home minister’s remarks that it was not an offence to offer a reward for slapping parliamentarian Teresa Kok, saying it was up to the public prosecutor to decide whether an offence has been committed.

They said police had a responsibility to act professionally and investigate when the life of a person was threatened, although they were under the Home Ministry which Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi helms.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan said the minister’s dismissal of the threat was rubbish, adding that police should conduct an investigation since reports have been lodged against the perpetrator of the threat.

“The police should enforce the law according to the statute book,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

He said the job of police was to collect all available evidence and present it to the public prosecutor, who would decide whether there was a case for prosecution.

Syahredzan said by making such a statement, Zahid was condoning an act which many saw as a breach of the law.

“The offenders should also be probed into under the Peaceful Assembly Act for bringing a knife and slaughtering chickens in the city centre,” he added.

Zahid had said that there was no need to open investigations into police reports filed against the Council of Islamic NGOs for offering a reward to anyone who dared to slap the Seputeh MP and for slaughtering chickens and smearing blood on a banner with opposition leaders’ faces on it.

“Slapping is not a threat. If they say murder, then it is a threat,” the minister said yesterday.

On Thursday, a group calling itself the “Council of Islamic NGOs” slaughtered two chickens and offered a RM1,200 reward to anyone who dared to slap Kok as a sign of anger towards opposition leaders for allegedly insulting Malay leadership and Islam.

The focus of the group was Kok and her Chinese New Year greeting video, entitled “Onederful Malaysia CNY 2014”.

They later smeared the chicken blood on a banner with photographs of Kok and other DAP leaders.

Lawyers for Liberty adviser Eric Paulsen said Zahid’s statement was also an insult to women’s rights because he had taken a clear and direct threat of violence as a joke.

“He has sent a wrong signal that if you are pro-Umno, you will be immune. He is signalling that you could say and do whatever and threaten to beat up people.”

Paulsen said in this case, the offenders had committed an aggravated offence for encouraging crime to be committed against an MP.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail should educate Zahid on the provisions of Section 503 (criminal intimidation) of the Penal Code.

He said the provision stated that whoever threatens another with injury to his person has committed criminal intimidation.

The penalty for the offence is a jail term of up to two years or a fine, and in the case of threats to cause grievous hurt, the penalty is imprisonment up to seven years.

“Threats to slap a person clearly come within the scope of this section,” said Gobind, who is also the Puchong MP.

He said Zahid was clearly confused when he stated that action would only be taken if the slap had been carried out.

“That is ridiculous. The law doesn’t require one to wait for an assault before action can be taken. The threat of it is sufficient. He doesn’t seem to understand this.”

Lawyer N. Surendran said Zahid had publicly undermined the rule of law, the safety and wellbeing of every Malaysian.

“His statement amounts to an abdication of his responsibilities as the nation’s home minister,” said the Padang Serai MP.

He said Zahid was bound by the law and the oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”.

Ahmad Zahid wrong to say slap threat is nothing, say lawyers
February 09, 2014 – TMI

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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?