Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Anwar Expects Further Crackdowns Under New Malaysian Leader

BANGKOK – Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Monday again warned that the imminent rise to power of rival Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will likely provoke a further crackdown on popular dissent in the economically struggling Southeast Asian nation.

Speaking in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in Bangkok, Mr. Anwar said: “I think we can clearly see a trend developing. Already we can see what Mr. Najib’s rule will be like.”

In the past week, Malaysian authorities have shut down two opposition-run newspapers, effectively preventing them from reporting on the run-up to three by-elections on April 7, which will provide a partial test of Mr. Najib’s national support. On Monday, policed seized DVDs the opposition was using as part of its election campaign, and last week riot police used teargas and water cannons to prevent Mr. Anwar from addressing his supporters.

Mr. Najib will likely become premier in the next few days after current Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hands in his resignation to Malaysia’s king on April 2. Already a war of words is emerging with Mr. Anwar, arguably Mr. Najib’s most potent foe after the opposition alliance broke the ruling National Front’s customary two-thirds majority in elections last year.

Their deepening struggle threatens to overshadow the Malaysian government’s efforts to offset its steepest recession since the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s. Some economists predict the economy could contract by as much as 4% this year.

The government this month unveiled a $16.7 billion stimulus package to be spent over the next two years.

In addition to the newspaper closures — which will be in effect for three months, according to the Malaysian government — several senior members of the ruling National Front coalition have also accused Mr. Anwar of betraying his race for supporting the scrapping of Malaysia’s decades-old affirmative action policies which were introduced to ensure economic and political power for Malaysia’s majority Muslim ethnic Malay population.

Mr. Anwar is a Malay, but argues that the New Economic Policy, as the affirmative action program is known, has rendered Malaysia’s economy uncompetitive and will likely limit the country’s recovery from the global slump.

“What I argue is that we should help all the races equally so we can take favoritism out of the equation,” Mr. Anwar said. “I think we’re going to hear more about racial issues if the economic situation continues.”

In addition, Malaysian riot police have forcibly broken up two opposition rallies in the past several days, raising concerns among political analysts that Mr. Najib intends to steer Malaysia back to the authoritarian ways espoused by its former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who ruled Malaysia for 22 years before stepping down in 2003.

Mr. Anwar has been distracted by legal issues after a former aide accused him of sodomy, which is a crime in Malaysia. Mr. Anwar, who was convicted and then acquitted of the same crime after challenging the government in 1998, says he is innocent and his being framed by Mr. Najib’s operatives.

Mr. Najib has repeatedly said he has nothing to do with Mr. Anwar’s legal troubles. On Saturday he denied that he was stamping out opposition dissent.

Courtesy: AnwarIbrahimBlog

A Mahathir redux expected with Najib

M. Taufiqurrahman dari DeKalb, Illinois

Nearly a decade after the start of a reform movement and at a time when one of its closest neighbors will soon have a free election for the third time, Malaysia remains where it was, if not worse, politically.

Barring some major catastrophe, very soon Malaysia’s hegemonic coalition the National Front (Barisan National) will have anointed Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak as the country’s new prime minister, replacing Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who has been in power for the past six years, following Mahathir Mohamad’s resignation in 2003.

Foreign media and those in the opposition have buzzed about the alleged involvement of the prime-minister-in-waiting in the grisly murder of a Mongolian model, who knew about shady dealings involving Najib’s aide in a multi-billion defense contract.

But the scandal aside, Malaysians should be more worried about the return of the old-style authoritarianism of Mahathir Mohamad in the country, after the relatively benign rule of the laid-back Badawi.

If Najib’s recent overtures were of any indication, pro-democracy activists and the Malaysian people have reason to worry that it could be d*j* vu all over for them.

In spite of significant electoral gains, life has become very difficult for members of the opposition. Police have been deployed to bar supporters of opposition groups from attending political rallies. In the state of Perak, the police were deployed to block opposition lawmakers from entering the parliament building.

In the Perak imbroglio, the opposition movement learned the hard way about the persistence of the ugly nature of authoritarianism. The police, in spite of the privileges and immunities that he should have enjoyed, harassed Perak Assembly speaker V. Sivakumar of the People’s Alliance Party (Pakatan Rakyat).

Najib’s intolerance to criticism is also apparent in the decision on the suspension of an opposition parliament member who accused him of having links to the murder of the Mongolian model.

This is a repeat scene that borrows its script from Mahathir’s playbook, when the autocrat crushed any opposition movement that stood in the way of his efforts to modernize Malaysia. Mahathir consolidated Malaysian authoritarianism in the early 1980s when he started to push for high economic growth driven by state-led industrialization.

The economic growth could only be achieved by relegating democracy and human rights to the backburner. Especially when the state-led industrialization was threatened by the slump of commodity prices in the mid-1980s, Mahathir resorted to repressive measures with relative ease. When Razaleigh Hamzah challenged his leadership of UMNO in 1987, which was tantamount to control over state resources, Mahathir resorted to subverting independent institutions such as the judiciary, the police, parliament and the media.

And after six years of Badawi’s disastrous term - as indicated by UMNO’s reduced votes in the polls and states falling into opposition hands - there is little option for Najib but to resort to a heavy-handed approach to maintain the National Front dominance in Malaysian politics.

And now the emasculation of independent institutions is taking its toll on the Malaysian political system. The system is now rife with irregularities as indicated by the rise of Najib, the use of police, the judiciary and the bureaucracy to repress the opposition movement and the paralysis among others in the state government of Perak.

One politician from the opposition camp said it best. “At the rate things are going, we’re going to be a failed state within a decade,” Salehudin Hashim, secretary-general of the People’s Justice Party was quoted by the New York Times as saying.

There is also a more worrying development that under Najib, Malaysia would be more Islamist than it has been under Badawi.

Recently, Najib felt the need to emulate what Mahathir did early in his term, playing the Islam card. Concurrent with his state-led industrialization, Mahathir also enacted a massive Islamization program. The culmination of the effort was when, against the backdrop of the Sept. 11 attack, Mahathir declared Malaysia in 2001 an Islamic state.

Najib needs to reiterate his commitment to the Islamist cause. In a gathering of UMNO women, he urged Malays to return to Islamic teachings to face the current challenges. He told members of UMNO the universal values of Islam would lead Malaysian people to success and glory.

It seems for Najib nothing is broken and no fixing is needed in Malaysian politics.

Courtesy: AnwarIbrahimBlog

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What Malaysians learnt from the Umno assembly

MARCH 29 – The talking is done and the dust has settled. A picture is emerging.

• Umno – The country’s most powerful party, is not to be underestimated. Sure, it does not have the vintage class of leaders in the mould of Tun Abdul Razak or Tun Dr Ismail and, despite the enlightened rhetoric of the past few days, the party will be mired in a quagmire of corruption and self-interest for a long time to come.

Still, it controls all the levers of power in Malaysia and on Wednesday and Thursday, delegates voted in a team of politicians who want – and know how to exercise – power. They will not readily give up political control.

In its day, Umno still owns an impressive election machinery. When they are not fighting each other, Umno politicians make fearsome adversaries, opponents who are adept at occupying the shady space between white and black.

With a new leader at the helm and the feel good factor flowing back into recesses where recently only despair and self-doubt resided, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional will be tough to beat in Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai.

• Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak – Malaysians got a peek of what Najib is going to do for the first 100 days after he is sworn in as Prime Minister at 11am on April 3. He will seek to surprise.

On Saturday, he went further than any recent party president by saying that he was going to dismantle the archaic and abused electoral system which has seen 2,500 party delegates deciding the line-up of Umno leaders, and by convention, the country’s leaders.

He proposes that 60,000 branch and division members become the party’s electorate. Najib knows that he has little wriggle room. He cannot afford to tweak here and there.

If he is to silence BN’s critics and convince his army of doubters, he has to make an impact with every announcement. Expect his Cabinet line-up to contain at least 50 per cent new faces.

Whether this line-up, which will be unveiled in early April, captures the imagination of Malaysians who have grown promise-weary, will be another thing.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Najib is tapping top overseas talent to advise him on his first 100 days in office and has engaged the services of an international public relations outfit to help with the messaging.

• Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – In October, several Supreme Council members cautioned Abdullah against defending his party president’s position, saying that with the strong groundswell against him, he may not obtain sufficient nominations to contest the top post.

His supporters argued otherwise. They told Abdullah that they had gone down to the branches and divisions and found out that the groundswell was artificial, manufactured by several Umno leaders who were driven by self-interest.

Several top Umno officials visited his home in Putrajaya with a game plan to defend the party president’s position. As Abdullah noted in his speech at the opening of the assembly, he could have defended his president’s position but chose not to, in the interest of party unity.

The election results on Wednesday and Thursday suggest that Abdullah’s aides and supporters were right when they said that the groundswell against him was manufactured.

New Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, Wanita Umno chief Datuk Shahrizat Jalil and at least 16 of the 25 Supreme Council members are identified as those aligned with Abdullah.

Out in the cold was Datuk Rafidah Aziz who told Abdullah that she would suffer the same fate as former deputy prime minister Tun Ghafar Baba if he persisted and defended his party president’s position.

• Party under siege – It was no coincidence that delegates elected more vocal candidates to the Umno Supreme Council. Puad Zarkashi, Tajudin Rahman, Bung Mokhtar Radin, Noh Omar, Idris Haron, Jamaluddin Jarjis may not have the gravitas or finesse of other Umno politicians but they are fighters and are not afraid of getting into a scrap with Opposition leaders or non-governmental organisations.

Listening to Umno delegates, it is clear that they want the party to start pushing back hard against what they view as excessive demands by non-Malays.

And if Umno’s partners in BN also start mouthing off like the Opposition, they too should be mowed down.

• Reform, what reform? – They want more positions in government-linked companies, they want the party to control the government, they want the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to stop investigating corruption in Umno, they want Malaysians to stop challenging the institution of the Malay Rulers, they want non-Malays to stop using the word Allah, they want newspapers to stop calling the Opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat, they want those appointed to the board of public universities to be Umno-friendly and they want Anwar Ibrahim corralled for promoting the concept of Ketuanan Rakyat and daring to put Chinese and Malays on the same platform as Malays. - MalaysianInsider

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Umno struggles to stay relevant with new leaders

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Malaysia's longtime ruling party is meeting to select a new crop of leaders after a series of electoral setbacks. But it faces a stiff challenge to reverse a rapid slide in popularity at a time when Malaysia's trade-dependent economy is sinking into recession.

At stake is the stability of a political order that has guided the multiracial country for five decades. Umno leads a coalition government that has delivered economic development but appears unable to tackle increasing racial tensions and calls for greater freedom.

At the four-day convention, which began on Tuesday, Umno officials have hammered a message of reform and renewal in order to win back voters. But a scandal over delegate vote-buying, which led to the disqualification of several candidates, has only added to the public perception of an organisation that is mired in graft and out of touch with ordinary voters.

Seizing on this weakness, opponents are turning up the heat on Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is due to replace outgoing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi next week. By convention, the leader of Umno becomes the country's prime minister. Najib is running uncontested for the post, replacing Abdullah.

Earlier this month, an opposition lawmaker was suspended from Parliament after he accused Najib of involvement in a sensational 2006 murder of a Mongolian interpreter. Najib has denied any link to the case, which has snared two of his bodyguards, who are currently on trial for the murder.

A close aide to Najib, who admitted having an affair with the interpreter, was acquitted last year in the same trial. Opposition activists warn that Najib is trying to silence his critics by using repressive laws, adding to tensions. This week authorities suspended publication of two opposition newspapers and sent riot police to break up rallies led by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Last year, a blogger was jailed for two months after airing more allegations over Najib's link to the 2006 murder case. Supporters of Najib, the British-educated scion of a political dynasty, argue that Malaysia lost focus under Abdullah, a soft-spoken Muslim scholar, and requires more forceful leadership, particularly in an economic downturn.

The government has forecast that the economy, which relies on natural resources and manufacturing, could shrink this year by 1 per cent. But it's unclear if a more authoritarian hand would stay the challenge to Umno's grip on power.

Instead, it could undermine any attempt to remake the party and reach out to young voters, who are plugged into Malaysia's lively blogosphere, bypassing stodgy pro-government media. "With new media, it's a more level playing field, in terms of information to the public. While there are factions of the party (Umno) that favour a return to more hardline ways, it's going to be more difficult," says Ibrahim Suffian, who runs Merdeka Centre, an independent polling group in Kuala Lumpur.

A recent poll by the group found that only 19 per cent of the majority-Malay population wanted Umno to lead the country. Most respondents said the party's biggest problem was corruption. This week's convention comes one year after the ruling coalition saw its majority slashed in Parliament. Two subsequent by-election wins have bolstered the opposition's claim of a momentum for change. Three more by-elections are scheduled for April 7, affording a quick test of the government's popularity.

Under Umno's rules, prospective leaders need to secure endorsements from division chiefs, who owe their loyalty to the existing leadership. Only one other candidate, former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, tried to run this time, but failed to get enough nominations, leaving Najib the only name on the ballot.

This does a disservice to the party at a time when it needs to ask itself tough questions, says Clive Kessler, a sociologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, who studies Malaysian politics. He says the party's inertia seems almost impervious to change. "The only way possibly to reform Umno is to get in someone with real stature who has not been part of the system for the last 15 to 20 years," he says. — Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Umno, money politics and corruption

MARCH 23 - The newspaper headlines for the last few days have been busy exposing to the world how rampant "money politics" is in Umno.

Ali Rastam has been banned from contesting the number two seat and Khairy has been let off with a warning letter.

To everybody's surprise, Khir Toyo has been declared "clean". Such were the findings of the Disciplinary Committee of Umno.

From the perspective of Selangor politics, Khir Toyo had to be found "clean" because without him, who is left to play the role of opposition leader in Selangor?

Bearing in mind that the charges presently leveled by Khir Toyo against TS Abdul Khalid are ones pertaining to corruption, it would be ridiculous if Khir was then himself found guilty of corruption!

And by his own party to boot! So they released him with a clean sheeet so that he may "respectably" portray himself, in the eyes of the uninformed, as a champion against corruption in Selangor!

Ignore please, the many years of corrupt governance under his leadership as these are yet to be given serious consideration by any court in the country.

And will they ever be brought to the attention of the courts? Or will they, as always, lie in the back cupboard somewhere in the office of the MACC or the Public Prosecutor, collecting dust, yet another case of justice falling victim to Umno politics.

Yes, same old song it would seem. However, what Umno seems to have forgotten is that the case of Ali Rastam and that of Isa Samad of years gone by, prove that money politics is alive and kicking in Umno.

In fact in the words of their own leaders, the situation is "worse than ever before". What they fail to realise also is that the rakyaat can now put two and two together and ask, "Where do they get the money to start buying up each other's votes?"

One must bear in mind, we are not talking about coffee money or small change here.

It is not a case of five ringgit or ten ringgit per vote. It runs into the thousands, bringing the total to millions!

Where would a Chief Minister of any state in Malaysia come up with that kind of money. Even if his salary was RM50k per month, which it is not, it would take years to raise the kind of money we are talking about.

As such it is obvious that the money used to buy the votes comes from sources other than his official salary. Simply put, corruption.

A piece of commission here, a sale of state land there, money for favors here, a crony"s contribution there and the list goes on. It takes corruption to feed corruption and the vicious circle goes on.

Politicians who "invest" by buying votes then make sure they reap the profits of their "investment" when they win leading to their holding public office.

Knowing full well that they would not be prosecuted for an act which has become synonymous with BN, they just make sure all the palms that need greasing are greased.

Then they plunder the wealth of the nation or state as the case may be.

It is for this reason that the MACC should definitely step in. The MACC is not necessarily interested in the internal politics of UMNO.

If it is a question of UMNO funds being wrongly used, then the party can say, "we wish to settle it ourselves. It is our money so butt out!"

However, it is not UMNO funds being used to buy votes here but public funds which have been siphoned away, one way or the other and any self respecting Anti-Corruption "Commission" would be interested to find out how.

Oops, I forgot. We do not have one of those yet do we?

The MACC should investigate, quantify the amount of money involved and follow the paper trail so as to ascertain the source of the funds.

Then we will see for sure the "can of worms". We can be sure that we will not see that level of professionalism while the BN remains in power at the Federal level.

Too many cans, too many worms. All belonging to the BN.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Money politics: Making lemonade out of lemons

MARCH 19 — There are many things which we accept as normal today that would have seemed like utter lunacy in a different age. For example, in early democracy, only landed gentlemen were allowed to vote. Women, children, peasants, serfs, immigrants, idiots, and other people the landed gentlemen disliked were not given the vote.

These days, however, we have universal suffrage, which basically means that — excepting children and convicted criminals — everyone (including idiots, liars and politicians) can vote. If the landed gentlemen of yore were to be told this, they'd be falling over in their togas, for sure.

Conversely, a few generations ago, people would happily ride motorcycles on public roads without wearing helmets. We consider that to be absolutely crazy now, especially given the higher number of cars on the road today. Okay, maybe the converse example is not so good, since we still have a lot of lunatics riding around without helmets.

The point is that time changes things, and what was good then may not be so good now… and what is evil now can be perfectly acceptable tomorrow. Consider money politics. What is it that we find so abhorrent about it, exactly?

The bleeding heart commie idealists say that it's a corrupt practice, tantamount to vote buying. They may have a point. Following through, those with a more religious bent would argue that vote buying is a sin, since bribery is considered an abomination. Politicians engaging in the practice, both on the giving and receiving ends, will go to hell. Literally, theologically, go to hell. Unless they repent before they kick the bucket, obviously.

However, we feel that there is another approach towards handling money politics — one which has the potential of eventually turning into something normal, with the added benefit of not needing to repent before you get six feet underground, in order to avoid going to hell.

In two words: Legalise it.

No, hear us out. In an editorial in this very august comic, it was noted that at a Perak Umno delegates meeting Datuk Norza Zakaria was given a rapturous applause when he was introduced, even though he's currently charged by the MACC.

Similarly, when it was made known that Datuk Seri Ali Rustam was found guilty of having dodgy agents and barred from contesting the post of deputy president, he was offered words of consolation and man hugs instead of being instantly treated like, well, a man found guilty of dishing out the dosh for votes.

We can only agree with the editorial that spreading the largesse is not so much an exception but the norm in Umno. In this matter, we posit that Umno is ahead of the curve. Way ahead.

It's said that vote buying in Umno occurs from the lowest branches to the highest level. To put it starkly, if that were true, you'd need to pay money just to get into branch elections, never mind getting into a position where you can contest the president or deputy president posts.

If such a condition is endemic and systemic within the largest political party in the country, then short of declaring the party a malignant cancer and eviscerating it forever like a smelly, rotten, pus-filled, gangrenous tumour… just legalise it.

Further, let's tax it. Those who receive monies from the candidates should be required to declare their income, of which a portion is to be paid as tax. If they're of a more religious bent, then they can have the taxable amount declared as zakat — in other words, get the mullahs to bless the moolah.

It's a good hell-aversion plan, really. The candidates, in turn, can get tax deductions up to a certain amount for use as a “war chest”. Also, they can do money-raising campaigns. Don't provide a limit to the amount they can raise, either, because they'll just start devising dodgy ways to cover up any excess money.

What we propose here is not exactly a new idea. After all, it's already normal practice in the world's most religiously conservative nation, the United States of America.

Some of us may have forgotten this, but in the race to become the Democratic candidate for President, then Senator Barack Obama consistently raised millions of dollars, outpacing the other millions of dollars raised by Sen. Hillary Clinton and other candidates.

Did anyone say that it was a stinky, immoral way of getting chosen? No, and in fact, his ability to raise money was considered one of the yardsticks for his chances of securing his party's nominations.

Okay, granted, the money he raised didn't exactly go directly into the pockets of the Democratic Convention delegates and the American electoral college system is different from Umno's style of anointed democracy. But the fact of the matter is, money was raised, spent and, more importantly, accounted for. In the hundreds of millions.

So, there you go. It's just an idea, anyway. After all, if life hands us lemons, we might as well make lemonade. Ergo, if the majority of Umno politicians engage in vote-buying practices, and we can't lock them all up because they hold all the keys to the jails, might as well just legitimise it so that the rest of us can get on with our lives without having to deal with the excrement.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Let the king be kingmaker

“Ucapan Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim Di Rotary Club”

This is the second time I have been invited to address a Rotary Club. Thank you for the honour. Given the times we live in, perhaps it might be appropriate for me to speak about the leadership transition that has been foisted upon us Malaysians.

I say ‘foisted’ because neither me nor anyone in this room had any role or say in the choice of the person who will lead Malaysia next. We were mere bystanders in a political chess game. And yet the transition is a subject of great consequence to the nation, one I would say is of great national interest.

Leadership is definitive; the individual who assumes the mantle of leadership of this nation, whomever that may be, is one who for better or worse will leave his mark on us. His will be the hand who guides us to greater success, or possibly gut-wrenching disaster.

Save for the dawn of Merdeka, never in the history of this country has the choice of prime minister been so crucial: Malaysia is in crisis. We are facing tremendous economic challenges with unavoidably harsh socio-political consequences. Our much undermined democracy is once again being assailed by those who would prefer a more autocratic form of governance.

Our public institutions are hollowed out caricatures, unable to distinguish vested party interests from national ones, unable to offer the man in the street refuge from the powerful and connected.
Our social fabric that took us from colony to an independent nation and on through the obstacles of nation building has reached a point where it sometimes feel like we are hanging on by a thread. This is the Malaysia we live in.

PM’s resignation ill-fated

This is the Malaysia which Abdullah Ahmad Badawi leaves behind. Our prime minister will resign later this month - an ill-fated decision. I say ill-fated not because he has been a great prime minister and we would lose irreplaceable leadership, that is regrettably not the case as all things said and done, Abdullah could have done much more for Malaysia.

Rather, I say that his resignation is ill-fated because his departure will expose the country to forces which may take us down the road of perdition faster than ever. Much has been said of Pak Lah being a weak leader. However, what his critics have not adequately addressed are the consequences of replacing him as prime minister with the anticipated incoming president of Umno, Najib (Abdul) Razak.

It is an undeniable truth that the average Malaysian is anxious about the anticipated transition. Many would prefer it did not happen.

There are two reasons why this is so. The first has to do with the reasoning underlying Umno’s demand for the transition itself. The second has to do with Najib personally.

We must recall that after the 2008 general election - a great success for the nation but a fiasco for Umno – one of the chief complaints by the powers-that-be within Umno was that Abdullah’s feeble leadership led to the concept of Ketuanan Melayu being challenged and ultimately undermined.

His critics also lashed out at him for the latitude given to civil society, a move which they believed weakened a key aspect of Umno’s political leverage. It followed in Umno’s mind that in order to regain lost ground, it was necessary to reassert its ideology with greater strength.

There was nostalgia for Mahathir’s heavy-handed style of leadership and a return to the times when the party cowed many into subservience and submission.The conservatives in Umno yearned for a return to Mahathirism, hoping that it would become a cornerstone of the leadership transition plan. There has been much speculation and punditry on whether a return to the Mahathir era would be good for Malaysia.

Difference between then and now

Let me offer some of my own insight to this debate. The major difference between then and now is this: in most instances, Mahathir was harsh and dictatorial if he believed it was good for the country. But an authoritarian style of government under anyone else would be dictated by the need for self preservation and very little about the country’s interest.

The evidence is all around us. After March 8, (2008) when the prime minister ceased being the home minister, the threats of reprisal have escalated and a climate of fear re-cultivated. The detention of Raja Petra Kamarudin, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoong Cheng exemplify this turn for the worse, this appetite to use the sledgehammer.

The shameful power grab in Perak and wanton disregard for public opinion over how BN wrested control of the silver state make many people shudder at the prospect of a return to the dark days. If that was not depressing enough, we have had to bear witness to the police and the newly-minted Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) displaying their allegiance and support to the BN when all we needed and craved for were honest brokers.

It stands to reason that in the mind of the average Malaysian, having suffered a significant loss last March, Umno is on a rampage to regain what it lost by any method available and the man who is expected to lead it to victory is the man who succeeds Abdullah: Najib (Abdul) Razak.

A prime minister must have the confidence of the majority of the rakyat. In order for this to be the case, his integrity must be beyond question; not only must he be such a person character, he must be seen to be such a person. The office of prime minister is one of great trust, he who holds that office cradles the nation in his palms.

For this to be the case, there cannot be anything in the mind of the greater public that, correctly or otherwise, associates him with matters of criminality, wrongful action, improper conduct or abuses of power. In short, he must be beyond reproach in his dealings both official and private.

Without intending any accusation, it is regrettable that in the collective mind of the rakyat, Najib is not such a person. If a referendum were to be conducted on the subject or if the prime minister was to be elected directly by the rakyat, I do not think Najib would succeed. The reason for this is obvious: the rakyat has doubts, fuelled by the unanswered allegations against him and his unwillingness to confront these allegations.

It is not a mere trifle in the minds of the rakyat that despite a direct challenge from a member of parliament in the august House recently, the deputy prime minister remained silent, not even denying the implicit accusation made against him and demanding that it be repeated outside the chamber in the tried and tested method of refutation employed by parliamentarians throughout the world.

It has not assisted the cause of the incoming prime minister that the MP concerned was suspended for a year on a motion tabled by a fellow minister without the member having been afforded an opportunity to defend his position.

Evidence of SMS text-messages

Consider this. Commissions were paid to an agent for the procurement of submarines through the Defence Ministry, Najib (then) being the defence minister. It is unthinkable that he had no knowledge that the agent was his adviser and aide, Abdul Razak Baginda. The commission paid out was exceedingly large, in excess of RM400 million.

The defence minister was dutybound to direct enquiries to see if there had been any impropriety in the way the contracts were awarded when news of the commission surfaced; after all the price of the submarines would be considerably lower without the need for such commissions.

Taxpayers, you and I, have paid for those submarines at a price that in all probability factored in the commission. Taxpayers are yet to be told of an inquiry let alone the result of such an inquiry.
Consider the Altantuya Shaariibuu affair. A young woman was brutally murdered, her corpse destroyed by explosives.

These explosives are not the usual type of explosives, yet no inquiry was held to determine how they were available to these killers. Those accused of her murder are police officers serving in the Unit Tindakan Khas, a highly specialised unit who amongst other things serve as bodyguards to the prime minister and the deputy prime minister.

Amidst evidence that the accused were employed to protect the PM and the DPM, they were directed to (Abdul) Razak Baginda through the aide of the deputy prime minister. Amongst other things, we have heard of the senior investigating officer admitting that the deputy prime minister was an important witness and yet no statement was taken.

It is not unreasonable to think that this is irregular, more so when evidence of SMS text-messages from the deputy prime minister concerning material matters have surfaced. The text-messages cannot be ignored, proverbially swept under the carpet.

Even if they do not establish - or are not capable of establishing - any culpability on the part of Najib, these issues must be addressed.

The air must be cleared, it is thick with accusations and doubts which can only undermine the office of the prime minister if he were to assume it. The deputy prime minister’s cause has not been aided by the fact that charges were preferred against (Abdul) Razak Baginda only after public outcry, the manner in which the prosecution was conducted and the decision of the High Court acquitting (Abdul) Razak Baginda not having been appealed.

Power grab an unmitigated disaster

The Perak affair was an unmitigated disaster for the nation. It is no secret that Najib led the charge there and is still overseeing matters.

In the minds of Malaysians, Perak is synonymous with the deputy prime minister. They now equate him with the high-handed tactics that were employed to seize power, tactics that included the disappearances of the three crucial assemblypersons and the blockading of the legislative assembly by the police.

In doing so, they equate the DPM with the hijacking of democracy, the only persons saying otherwise being those persons who have associations with Umno. In their minds, no responsible leader would allow for the undermining of the institutions of state and the constitution of this nation.

They ask, rightly so, whether this is the kind of leadership that Malaysians can expect from Najib when he becomes the prime minister.

With all of this, and more, how are we not to feel anxious? How are we to sleep peacefully at night? I know that I cannot. The situation is desperate and the air is pregnant with tension. We need the state of affairs to be resolved in a way that is in the best interests of the nation and the rakyat.

To an extent, this is a matter for the Barisan Nasional. I urge its members to put politics aside and think things through. We all want a better future, a safer and more prosperous life for our children, all of them, a Malaysia where our children can reach for the stars with the certainty that there is nothing to stop them from being the Malaysians they want to be.

Let the king be kingmaker

I do not believe that the Barisan Nasional will do what is necessary. Politics has a tendency of making those who embrace it cynical. The answer lies elsewhere, with His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

In this case, His Majesty plays the role of ‘kingmaker’. The discretion to appoint the prime minister who succeeds Abdullah lies with His Majesty. Though His Majesty is required under the constitution to appoint the person who commands the confidence of the majority of the members of parliament, it is a matter for His Majesty’s judgment.

Never before has such a heavy burden being laid on His Majesty to make a brave and correct choice.

For King and country, I urge His Majesty to take into consideration the prerequisites to appointment and the concerns of the rakyat. There is no constitutional obligation on His Majesty to appoint the president of Umno as the prime minister. There are still well qualified members of parliament from Umno who can be appointed PM to bring us back from the brink.

Malaysia needs someone who the rakyat can throw their weight behind without reservation. Someone they can trust and respect. Someone who has no scandal to distract him and thereby gain respect from the international community.

These are difficult times and be prepared for worst times to visit us. Malaysia needs a leader who will unite the country in the face of the adversity. Divided, we are weak. I am loath to say it, but for the reasons I have set out am compelled to say that Najib will most certainly divide us and in doing so, will nudge us closer to the edge.

Some of you may say that all efforts to promote the national interest are at this stage an exercise in futility. If truth be told, I am tempted to slip into cynical hopelessness too. I am fighting the temptation to give up for one simple reason: Malaysia and all that it represents. This is a blessed country, a country too valuable for us to turn our backs on.

Courtesy : AnwarIbrahimBlog

Monday, March 16, 2009

Malaysian MP suspended

Mr Gobind (left), stunned the lower house of Parliament on Thursday with a tirade against Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is scheduled to become premier in early April. -- PHOTO: THE STAR

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA'S parliament on Monday barred an opposition lawmaker for one year after he accused incoming premier Najib Razak of involvement in a sensational murder case.

A government motion calling for the suspension of Gobind Singh Deo, from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), was passed after lawmakers from the opposition alliance staged a walkout in protest.

Parliament erupted into a furious row before the walkout as opposition lawmakers who control one-third of the 222-seat house protested against the Speaker's decision to deny Mr Gobind an opportunity to defend himself.

'How do you proceed to condemn a person without giving him the opportunity even to speak?' said opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who leads the three-member Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance.

Mr Gobind, a first-term MP, was suspended from parliament for one day last week after calling Mr Najib a 'murderer' during a heated parliamentary debate.

'I will continue my constituency work, keep the fight outside and come back in one year,' he told reporters after the suspension.

Mr Najib was last year forced to deny having an affair with 28-year-old Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was murdered in 2006. Her remains were blown up with military-grade explosives in a jungle clearing.

Mohamad Nazri Abdul Aziz, the minister in charge of legal affairs, tabled the motion against Mr Gobind, saying he had abused parliamentary immunity and his privileges as a lawmaker.

He denied that the move showed Mr Najib - who is expected to be appointed prime minister later this month - was not able to tolerate criticism.

'Gobind is not just accusing a MP but the deputy premier for a hideous crime. He must be punished for the severity of the his allegation against the deputy premier,' Mr Nazri told a press conference. -- AFP

Sunday, March 15, 2009

'Shocked' by smears

Ms Rosmah, who was herself linked to the crime by a prominent blogger who was slapped with sedition and defamation charges over the allegations, said the furore was part and parcel of political life. -- PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA'S next first lady Rosmah Mansor has said she was 'shocked' by attacks from political opponents who have attempted to link her and her husband to a sensational murder.

But the wife of deputy premier Najib Razak, who is to be installed as prime minister later this month, dismissed suggestions the accusations could overshadow his premiership and said the experience had made them stronger.

'When I heard these unpleasant things it shocked me, I can't imagine that somebody like that could exist on this earth and not feel guilty about making other people's lives miserable,' she told AFP in a recent interview.

'But as far as I'm concerned, I'm not affected by all this because I know they will do anything to stop my husband from being (leader), and they chose the wrong way.'

Mr Najib was last year forced to deny having an affair with 28-year-old Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was murdered in 2006. Her remains were blown up with military-grade explosives in a jungle clearing.

The deputy premier's close adviser, who admitted having a relationship with the woman, was charged with abetting the murder but was later acquitted.

Two policemen from an elite unit that guards the prime minister and deputy prime minister are accused of carrying out the grisly slaying and are currently on trial.

Ms Rosmah, who was herself linked to the crime by a prominent blogger who was slapped with sedition and defamation charges over the allegations, said the furore was part and parcel of political life.

'If they cannot get my husband, they get me, if they cannot get me they even go to the children... they will resort to anything at all,' she said. 'But it doesn't matter, it makes us much wiser, it makes us much stronger, closer as a family, and more mature.

'What's important is your conscience, that when you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror, are you able to look at yourself and love yourself, and ask yourself whether you've done the right thing.' -- AFP

Friday, March 13, 2009

Umno corrupt: survey

Member of Malaysian's ruiling party, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) shout slogans in support of the Malaysian monarchy in Kular Lumpar February 19, 2009. --PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - UMNO has received a slap in the face just ahead of its key annual meeting, with many voters polled in a survey seeing Malaysia's biggest political party as corrupt and out of touch with the ground.

Respondents to the survey also said that International Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was the best choice for the deputy prime minister's position, a contrast from Umno pundits, who expect another leader to emerge as the new No. 2.

The 1,031 respondents also felt that the views of ordinary Malaysians should be considered while picking leaders in internal Umno polls, going against the conventional political wisdom that the leaders are picked only by party members.

The party's chiefs are currently elected by about 2,500 top Umno cadres in elections that are held every three years.

The survey was conducted last month by independent pollster Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research.

Respondents comprised 57 per cent Malays, 31 per cent Chinese and 12 per cent Indians based on random sampling.

The survey showed that a year after the watershed general election that empowered the opposition, voters were clamouring for a bigger say in how the country's leaders were picked.

'This survey indicates the Malaysian public's keen interest in Umno's election,' Merdeka Centre chief Ibrahim Suffian said in a statement.

'They also have strong views about the problems affecting the party while at the same time harbour high hopes that those elected...will be able to fulfil their wishes.'

From March 24 to 28, Umno will hold its annual assembly, which incorporates the triennial party polls.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Annual National Address by Anwar Ibrahim

We gather today not only to celebrate an auspicious anniversary, but to hail the triumph of an idea, an idea so sublime that people throughout history were willing to give their lives for it.

Its force was so great that we have to be reminded by Victor Hugo of its strength. This great French writer said: “Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.”

On March 8th last year, an idea with the force of a tsunami landed by way of the ballot box in Malaysia.

This idea was that the people are sovereign, that they are the masters of their political destiny. Their destiny is not decided by autocrats or elites; plutocracies and a controlled media; neither the army, the police, nor by corrupt judges.

Their fate is decided by the free exercise of their choice registered through the power of their vote.

By no means was this choice exercised completely free of fetters. But given the constraints of a not independent Election Commission, a not free mainstream media, and a curtailed campaigning period, Malaysian voters rose to the occasion to register their choice.

And what were the consequences of that historic choice? The previously invincible Barisan Nasional was denied its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

In addition, the opposition Pakatan Rakyat gained control of four state legislatures and retained and extended its control of another state. Only the shortness of the campaign period prevented the political tsunami from rolling into other states considered bastions of BN rule.

Today, a year later, we stand humbled by that expression of people’s sovereignty. In this last year, we have given the people in Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan a taste of the kind of government we ought to have when the people are sovereign.

We have started to implement a Malaysian Economic Agenda for the nation that is truly Malaysian. Our aim is to build a prosperous country by establishing a stable and clean business environment that is competitive in the global economy. We believe in free markets, but our pro-growth policies are tempered with a dose of state intervention and an emphasis on good governance and social justice. This would ensure that the poorest segments of society including the Malays and bumiputeras have access to economic opportunities and aid that trickles all the way down instead of disappearing long before it reaches them.

The Coalition has grown stronger and our partners have worked in unison to govern in the states. After two by-elections our mandate from the people is stronger than ever.

BN’s fear of facing us in another election is most clearly visible in Perak. The illegitimate tactics they employed to attempt a hostile takeover of that State’s government backfired. In so doing they have alienated the public, which has issued strident calls from over 75% of its population for a fresh election. Petrified of an outcome that would swing the balance in our favour, the BN has abused its power and launched an all out attack on our elected representatives, making a mockery of itself and of the institutions of governance.

Our policies do not seek short-term political mileage nor are they calculated to win headlines. Our struggle is neither to fulfil the ambition of one man nor to settle old vendettas.

We have a comprehensive vision for leading Malaysia and our leadership is rooted in sound economic planning as well as reinstating the principles of democracy, socio-economic justice, equal economic opportunities and religious freedom.

We invest in education. We create jobs and bring foreign investment into our states, and we give everyone an opportunity to benefit from the newly created wealth. From what we earn we share with those less fortunate. And we fought the increase in petrol prices until the BN conceded to reduce the burden it had foisted upon the people.

To rebuild a nation after fifty years of decay and decadence is no simple task. Despite setbacks and false starts we promise that our commitment to the principles of justice, freedom and the Rule of Law will not waver, and we will always take the Constitution as our guide. I promise you that we will not relent and we will not rest until the job is done.

We pose the question to those watching today. Has the BN government fulfilled its promise?

After March 8th, we were told that they understood why the people rejected them. They admitted they had fallen out of the Rakyat’s grace and lost touch with their hopes and aspirations. They admitted that without reform, the people would give them the final boot from office.

But since that moment of reckoning has anything really changed? Have the reforms that were promised been implemented? As Umno muddles through a power transition in which it plans to anoint a new Prime Minister, has its course been righted?

Hardly. The Umno-dominated BN is caught in a warp of its own making. They talk about reform but cannot walk the talk. This is what a half-century in power does to you. It is unable to reform, immune to change, deaf to criticism.

Billions of dollars of public funds are poured into wasteful projects and the unnecessary purchases of military goods. Exorbitant commissions are paid while the perpetrators of these crimes go unpunished.

While the rest of the world braced for the impact of a deep and difficult recession, the Finance Minister seemed oblivious to the imminent economic challenges. While other nations geared for the calamitous conditions we now face, this man watched from the sidelines. In his most decisive act he issued bailouts for a few corporations using money plucked from the retirement savings of the Malaysian people. The earlier stimulus package has gotten stuck in the quicksand of bureaucracy, causing extraordinary delays in the disbursement of funds. The second one, which arrives belatedly in Parliament this week, may be a case of too little too late.

On the issue of justice, there remain two standards in Malaysia – one for those who wield power, and another for those who seek justice and call for the Rule of Law.

After much anticipation and hype we have a new Commission to fight corruption. But it has already proven its true colours. The MACC is no different from its predecessor, pursuing frivolous attacks against the Pakatan Rakyat whilst ignoring the endless supply of abhorrent corruption taking place in the BN government’s own backyard.

Has the judiciary shown any sign of redress? Do Malaysians feel confident that the scales of justice are more balanced and the dispensation of justice more fair? On the contrary, a superficial attempt to restore credibility to the process of appointing judges has fallen flat. The courts remain cluttered with judges whose records speak volumes as to their lack of impartiality and pervasive influence peddling.

Is the Election Commission a fair and impartial arbiter of elections? Or does it plot and scheme against the people and try to stack the odds in favour of the BN?

We have seen the darkest and most evil abuses of power take place at the hands of the police – an institution that has for many years resisted calls for reform. We condemn the tragedy of Abu Ghraib, and yet in our own prison cells victims are tortured and left to die. How manifestly unjust is it that the people of Malaysia must live in fear of those who are entrusted with their protection?

Those whose responsibility it was to safeguard this nation have failed. Years of their polices have left Malaysia at great risk. A lagging economy is on the brink of recession. Crime runs rampant and our streets are not safe to walk. The education that our children receive is substandard and many of our schools lack funding for basic infrastructure. The police and the judiciary are feared for their ruthlessness and their disdain for justice and human rights.

Despite our nation’s abundant natural resources, we see that the rich grow wealthier while the gap widens between them and the vast majority of Malaysians. The poor, the majority of whom are still the Malays and bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak and the Indians in the estates, are scarcely better off today than they were ten years ago. Behind the façade of a first world country we reflect the tendencies of Third World development.

A new Prime Minister waits in the ranks, not as a reformer, but to continue to take this nation down the same destructive path.

I am humbled by your support and your faith in us to set right what has been afoul for so many years in this nation. I promise you that the tenacity of our resolve has never been stronger and no impediment, no matter how great, will deny us our final objective.

The days and months ahead will not be easy.

Our economy is buckling under the pressure of a global recession. Every month that passes more factories are closed and more jobs are lost. 55,000 Malaysians lost their jobs since October alone. Some groups have predicted nearly 400,000 more are at risk in 2009.

The economy stopped growing at the end of 2008 and is now expected to contract at least 2 percent in the coming year. Manufacturing sales slumped over 20 percent in December 2008, a sector of our economy that has lost 68 thousand jobs in just one year.

Not surprisingly the export market has also been battered, registering its largest decline in 15 years. In January alone it contracted 32 percent from the same time a year earlier. It is easy to understand why, when our primary export markets in Singapore, the US and the EU warned of recession months ago.

The question arises then – why did we not act sooner?

The government is encumbered by divisive politics and the underhanded tactics of the ruling party; a party that has placed its own self-preservation ahead of the interests of the people.

Religion and race are manipulated by the powers that be to sow divisions in the country and pit Malaysian against Malaysian. Democracy is itself subverted and the rights of the people are trampled and trodden with no respect for the Rule of Law.

With an open hand and good intentions we in Pakatan Rakyat have reached out to our adversaries in government. Our brightest minds have offered solutions to the problems facing Malaysia and we have shared these openly in Parliament.

We have offered a detailed budget recommendation with sound proposals to create jobs, retrain workers and stimulate sectors of the economy that will contribute most efficiently to growth in the short term.

Sadly our efforts have been rebuffed. We have encountered in Umno politicians who are insecure and paranoid, desperate to hang onto power and oblivious of their responsibility to the people.

The Federal Government has been an unwilling partner to our states. Projects have been cancelled or delayed and development funds withheld. Efforts to limit the power of monopolies so that the people may have cheaper access to basic utilities have been thwarted. The attempts to undermine our leadership continue unabated.

We are not surprised by their intransigence. A party that has grown so out of touch with the plight of ordinary Malaysians can easily and without guilt abandon them in this moment of their greatest need.

But we have not allowed these selfish actions to dampen our resolve. Our Menteris Besar and Chief Minister have met to discuss avenues of cooperation among our states and our members of Parliament are vigilant in watching over the Rakyat’s wealth. Pakatan Leaders will soon announce shadow committees to monitor and report on the BN government’s spending and to evaluate the impact of its policies. Our policy committees will articulate more clearly the Pakatan Rakyat position on key areas including land reform, education, youth development and Sabah and Sarawak.

We believe it is not too late to act boldly to address the challenges of the global economic crisis. Our government must spend money to stimulate growth and create jobs – but the question of how much we spend is superseded by the question of how we spend. If we allow more bailouts for crony companies and look the other way as billions of dollars in economic stimulus are funnelled back to these companies then our nation faces serious peril.

It is imperative that with any economic stimulus package, a strong and impartial regimen of oversight and public disclosure also be implemented. This government has a dismal track record in disbursing funds – every year according to Morgan Stanley an estimated USD 10 billion is lost to corruption. We have every reason to believe that unless monitored carefully the money will once again end up in the wrong hands, and the country and the people will suffer the consequences.

If we address the crisis of confidence in our judiciary and take real steps to combat corruption, ensure the professionalism of the police and make our villages and streets safe, foreign investors will again find Malaysia an attractive destination. With continued investment in education, infrastructure and health care we can create the jobs we need and emerge from this recession stronger than before.

Our commitment to good governance is sacrosanct and the signs of its implementation can be seen throughout our states. Contracts are awarded more efficiently and with open tenders. Zero tolerance of corruption has saved us 100s of millions already, while giving small businesses and entrepreneurs the confidence to invest and create jobs knowing that the system works for them.

The benefits of an accountable and efficient government guided by prudent management, such as the one which has been in place in Kelantan under Tok Guru Nik Aziz, is now being seen throughout the Pakatan States. Kedah, which like Kelantan is one of the more economically challenged regions of the country, has dramatically increased its savings through greater efficiency and transparency, freeing up much needed resources to allocate to development projects and social welfare activities.

This has also created an environment more attractive to foreign investment, which in Penang doubled in just one year and in Perak increased to RM 3.4 billion. In Selangor it has reached its highest point in nine years, RM 11.87 billion, creating 30,000 new jobs for Malaysians.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has announced a bold agenda in Selangor to create thousands more jobs and to attract billions of investment focusing on the restoration of affordable housing and improving public transportation to alleviate the increasing problem of traffic congestion.

His administration has allocated energy and resources towards developing more liveable cities and Green Zones within Selangor and has, following the example of Kelantan, launched a first-ever senior citizens insurance scheme. RM 40 million has been allocated to facilitate medical care for 365 thousand of the state’s elderly citizens.

Under the Tawas scheme in Selangor all newborn children will be guaranteed insurance through the age of 18. A number of programs have been implemented to award low-income families with grants to aid in the cost of education and health-care.

In Penang, foreign investment in 2008 totalled RM 10.2 billion, a 117 percent increase from the previous BN government. This is a remarkable achievement given that the recession has already begun in other parts of the world last year. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s stewardship of the Penang economy, guided by the principles of Competency, Accountability and Transparency is credited with creating programs to retrain and employ thousands of Penangites. Knowing that it takes time for these investments to increase incomes – the Pakatan Leadership in Penang has already awarded RM 17 million in water grants to over 170,000 households to provide direct relief to low-income families during these difficult times.

Selangor and Perak have done their part in reducing the burden of the recession by granting free water to the poorest households. The Perak government has provided land titles to deserving families in the state, including Malay, Orang Asli and Chinese, a credit to Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin’s visionary leadership and his tenacity in defending the rights of the poor and marginalized.

And we promise that in Selangor we will remain firm in defending the rights of the people against the monopolies and conglomerates. Now is not the time to sacrifice the welfare of the people in the interests of excess profits or political gamesmanship. In our negotiations with the water companies we will maintain our ground and not repeat the historic blunders that were made in dealing with the IPPs.

We believe that the most important contribution we can make is to ensure that our children receive a good education. We want the future generations of Malaysians to compete regionally and in a global economy. Selangor has invested in the development and infrastructure of schools that cater to all the ethnic communities. In Perak 1,000 hectares of land has been granted to the religious schools (SAR) and to National type Chinese schools.

Pakatan States are redrawing programmes aimed at lessening the pain the inevitable economic slowdown will bring. Our priorities are to create jobs and combat poverty. Housing projects, particularly for lower-income groups will be announced. These developments will be liveable and affordable, and we will also identify ways to improve the living standards in existing low-income residential areas.

What was a year ago described as a marriage of convenience has proven to be much more than that. This Coalition is strong and has proven its resolve time and again against a formidable opponent. The time has come to strengthen the bonds amongst our parties. Greater confidence in the Pakatan Rakyat’s ability to govern is achieved not only through the implementation of sound public policy in the states but also in cementing our cooperation in the form of a Common Agenda.

March 8th restored hope to many who had given up on our government. Throughout the country I meet Malaysians inspired by that day. They envision a future that is more prosperous and a nation more united. With the Pakatan Rakyat they envision a time when schools will be better, where cities and villages will be safer and where good jobs will be plentiful and where honest people can earn a decent living.

If you voted for us in 2008 you were a part of history. Know that in the next election your vote will determine the future course of this nation. Don’t let that opportunity pass. I ask of all Malaysians who share in this dream to be part of the movement for change.

To the brave members of Keadilan, we are embarking on a major exercise to reorganize and refocus the party. Our mission, and that of our partners in the Pakatan Rakyat, is simple. Show the people what we have accomplished. Invite them to join us in this effort.

Call the people to be a part of this new birth of nationalism; to build this nation upon the principles of justice, fair play and opportunities for all.

Call them to join us in Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau, and Batang Ai where we will once again show that the people of Malaysia are united for change.

To our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak, I know that this belief and hope for a better tomorrow is hard for you. Your hopes and aspirations have been betrayed many times already. Give us a chance. This Coalition has proven it has much to offer you and that together we can build a better Malaysia.

To the bumiputeras – this nation is our home and in Malaysia our customs and traditions are secure. We believe that the best way to safeguard our values is to reject socially divisive approaches and uphold Constitutional guarantees. In doing so we will work to ensure that you remain pillars of this society and that your contributions in all fields are recognised and your excellence rewarded.

This spirit of togetherness was rediscovered on March 8th and it is a reflection of what our founding fathers envisioned when they secured our independence years ago. It is manifest in businesses and factories where Malaysians work together to build the goods that are exported to countries around the world. It is visible throughout this country in schools where Malays, Chinese, Indian, Dayak and Kadazan students learn side by side.

The spirit lies at the heart of the great civilisations that make up the fabric of this land. Muslims adhere to the Qur’anic injunction, li-ta’arafu, that we must recognise God’s wisdom in understanding our differences and showing compassion and care for all. The Chinese have a saying that conveys a similar message: si hai zhi nie jie xiong di; that within the four seas all men are brothers, a sentiment equally reflected in the Tamil proverb ontre kulam oruvane thevan, one humanity one spirit.

Let it therefore be known that on this day, when we celebrated the victory of March 8th, we came together and in one sovereign voice declared that we will together write a lasting chapter of peace and prosperity in our nation’s history.

My fellow Malaysians, we are all travellers on the same road, striving towards one dream. This is the road that has not yet been travelled by in the history of our nation. It is long and winding and fraught with the greatest of hazards and impediments. We will be waylaid and abducted from our journey but yet we shall not be strayed.

And no matter what we must keep our faith and our resolve with the greatest of patience and fortitude. By God’s grace we shall succeed.

Thank you

Friday, March 6, 2009

Summon Speaker. Malaysia- Police Country?

IPOH: Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar was again summoned by the police to give a statement at the state contingent over the deluge of reports lodged against him for suspending Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and six executive council members from the state assembly.

He however failed to show up Friday, instead sending his lawyers Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran and Anthony Augustin to explain his absence.

Kulasegaran said Sivakumar’s office was informed by the police at 3pm Thursday to come forward and record his statement at the Criminal Investigation Department Friday.

This's what the cops good for!!! They act to the benefit of UMNO/BN, not for the RAKYAT.

“He is unable to be present as he is now on holiday outside the state,” Kulasegaran said, adding that Sivakumar was expected to be available by Wednesday.

Noting that Sivakumar was asked to give a statement under Section 111 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Kulasegaran said the explanation was to clear the misconception that the Speaker was being uncooperative.

Beside Friday’s questioning, Sivakumar had last month been questioned by the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over the same issue.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

MACC received 1,958 tip-offs this year

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) received 1,958 tip-offs on graft between Jan 1 and Feb 23 this year alone.

Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said out of this, 523 tip-offs were from information gathered by MACC officers themselves.

“In January, the Commission had also opened 77 investigation papers, 49 of which were by its own initiative.

“Last month, 89 investigation papers were opened, 56 of which were by its own initiative.

“In that same period, the Commission has also arrested 65 people in relation to graft charges -- 33 were members of the public, 22 were civil servants from the supporting staff category, three from the administration and professional category, and seven politicians,” he said in a written reply to Tan Kok Wai (DAP-Cheras).

Cops to track down cussing individuals

IPOH: Police will trace several individuals who allegedly hurled abusive words at them while they were preventing a group of assemblymen from entering the state secretariat building here to attend the State Assembly’s emergency sitting on Tuesday.

Ipoh OCPD ACP Azisman Alias said more than 200 people had gathered outside the building but the situation had been under control.

However, he said several individuals had used abusive words and the police would trace them through the photographs taken, he told reporters.

Hello Mr Cop, the RAKYAT says the words they used suit you!!.

Azisman said police would also seek the help of the media to publish the photographs of those involved in the gathering and those who used abusive words besides preventing police from carrying out their duty.

After being prevented from entering the State Assembly Hall, Speaker V. Sivakumar held the emergency sitting under a tree about 100m from the building. -- Bernama

Speaker can hold sitting anywhere

KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 2 – The MP for Ipoh-Barat, M. Kula Segaran, sys that the Perak Assembly Speaker has the right to decide where to hold the emergency meeting tomorrow.

“The place of assembly is up to the speaker to interpret,” Kula Segaran said, quoting from the Perak Assembly Standing Orders Nos. 10, 11, 89 and 90, which describe the sessions of assembly.

“The meetings of the assembly during each session shall be held on such days and place as Mr Speaker shall determine,” Kula Segaran added.

Highlighting the principle behind the separation of powers, Kula Segaran said the courts cannot interfere in the matters of parliament and the state legislative assembly because the two lawmaking bodies act as “courts” themselves.

“That’s why the courts cannot rule over the events in another court at the same time,” he added.

But, Kula Segaran observed, the various events have mired the state in legal technicalities which are taking away the attention from the main issue.

“The bottomline is why they fear to have the meeting?” he questioned.

Kula Segaran also pointed out that the Perak chief police officer (CPO) is not “very knowledgeable” on the laws regarding assemblymen and members of Parliament.

“Section 124 of the Penal Code states that any person who impedes an assemblyman or an MP from carrying out his official duties can be jailed,” the MP said.

He explained that it is very likely that Speaker Sivakumar will still head to the state assembly building tomorrow as planned and try to talk to CPO Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah if he is blocked from entering for the emergency meeting. - Malaysiainsider

Will the public forget the day the constitution was pushed aside?

MARCH 2 – Here is a piece of advice for Perak State Assembly Speaker V Sivakumar: throw away the Perak Constitution.

Forget about the by-laws and Standing Order 89 which gives the speaker the final say in any interpretation of the legislature’s orders.

And stop being naïve about the separation of powers between the executive and the legislature, or for that matter, lofty democratic values.

The battle of Perak is all about politics. The law and the constitution count for little. Today’s events seem to suggest that the two trends in vogue in the Silver State are: the ends justify the means and might is right.

There was a flurry of activity and statements today, 24 hours before an emergency sitting of the state assembly was called by Sivakumar.

In the morning, Perak executive councillor Mohd Zahid Abdul Khalid served a notice of misconduct on the Speaker, referring him to the Rights and Privileges Committee.

And who is the head of the Rights and Privileges Committee? Sivakumar.

His alleged offence: violating Article 47 of the state constitution. The article states that an assemblyman taking oath must swear to preserve and defend the state constitution and bear true allegiance to the Sultan of Perak.

Even by the strange happenings in Perak since the defection of three Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers last month, this gambit by Mohd Zahid was odd, and it smacked of desperation.

But more was to follow. This evening, the State Secretary’s office issued a circular informing all staff to cancel all appointments on Wednesday as the main entrance to the building would be closed. The circular did not elaborate on why the entrance would be locked. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the state assembly is situated

within the State Secretariat.

By now the public must have been wondering why the executive was getting involved in affairs of the legislature.

Then came the intervention of the Perak Chief Police Officer. Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah said that, according to the state assembly secretary, the emergency meeting called by Sivakumar was invalid because it had not received the consent of the Sultan.

Now, on whose authority was the state assembly secretary passing judgment on the validity of the emergency assembly meeting?

The rules state that the assembly secretary must take orders from the Speaker.

Also, legal experts point out that Sivakumar does not require the consent of the Sultan to call the emergency meeting as the current session is not prorogued.

But really all these legal arguments, Standing Orders and fine principles only matter if the political players are willing to abide by them.

The evidence from Perak suggests that Barisan Nasional wants to cling on to power by any and all means.

They are counting on the people of Perak having short memories. They are confident that the anger and disgust that some voters feel today at the tactics employed by BN will be long forgotten the next time general elections are held.

Perhaps, once again, they are underestimating the Malaysian voter. The BN paid a high price on March 8 2008 for believing that the promise of more good years of economic growth could dim the anger and disappointment Malaysians were feeling.

About Zakaria Deros; the fighting talk of the Umno assembly in 2006; the impotence of the MIC and MCA; the breakdown in law and order and the weak leadership of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Despite the promise of political stability and economic development, Malaysians did not forget on March 8.

Who is to say that the public will forget the day the Perak Constitution was pushed aside? - Malaysia Insider