Friday, August 28, 2009

MACC officer says it is ‘normal’ to break witnesses down

SHAH ALAM, Aug 28 — An officer with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) told the coroner’s court today that it is usual for witnesses to be questioned until they obtain the “right” answers.

However, Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus denied that Teoh Beng Hock was questioned in such a manner.

Ashraf was one of two MACC officers who questioned the political aide between 10.40pm on July 15 and 12.40am the next day.

He told the court that he received instructions to question Teoh at 9.40pm but had to wait for his colleague to arrive and finish his work before starting.

The 25-year-old officer said it was also normal to question witnesses late at night, if they wanted to co-operate.

He maintained he never questioned Teoh because he was the junior to another officer — Arman Alies — who did the questioning while he only checked documents.

Both officers questioned Teoh before his statement was taken by another officer known only as Nazri. He has yet to be called as a witness.

Ashraf, who joined the MACC in 2005, said he was not trained in interrogation techniques though he underwent six months of basic training at the Police Training Centre in Ayer Hitam.

He also did not know what the word "oppression" meant but he did know what "psychologically breaking down a witness" was.

He said the term was "normal" based on the popular TV series "CSI" but denied assertions by lawyer Gobind Singh Deo that Teoh was assaulted.

Gobind also said the role of the officers was to break Teoh down before he went to give his statement but Ashraf denied this.

Others complained of abuse by MACC

SHAH ALAM, Aug 28 — The inquest into Teoh Beng Hock's death heated up today with revelations that there are “victims” who have lodged police reports against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for alleged physical and psychological abuses at its Plaza Masalam office.

Gobind Singh Deo, who is acting on behalf of Teoh’s family, said one of the complainants will be testifying at the inquest to dispute denials by MACC officers that no oppression takes place while they interview witnesses and suspects.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I did not hear any quarrel, says MACC officer

Mohd Anuar Ismail (left)

SHAH ALAM (Aug 27, 2009) : A Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer told the Teoh Beng Hock inquest today he did not hear any argument between Teoh and Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah.

"I would run if I had heard fighting. But I did not," MACC deputy enforcement officer Mohd Najeib Ahmad Walad, the inquest’s 18th witness, said.

Gobind Singh Deo, counsel for the Teoh family, had asked Najeib whether he heard an argument when he was leaving the Selangor MACC office at Plaza Masalam here at 2am on July 16.

In testimony yesterday, MACC investigating officer Mohd Anuar Ismail said he was told by another officer, Bulkini Paharuddin, that Bulkini overhead Teoh and Tan quarrelling in the MACC toilet at about 2am.

Mohd Najeib (left)

Najeib said that when he left for home at 2.30am, the situation in the office was "normal".

"There were other MACC officers around, some were photostating, some were working ... but there was no shouting," he said.

Earlier, Najeib said Teoh seemed "restless" when the MACC officers visited the office of his employer, Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, on the 15th floor of the Selangor State Secretariat.

Asked by Tan Hock Chuan, the lawyer appointed by the government to assist in the inquest, was Teoh’s demeanor was when he was being interviewed by the MACC officers, Najeib said he was cooperative .

He said Teoh had complied with the MACC’s requests for records of Ean Yong’s allocatio accounts.

"He gave us the papers (documents) for 2009 but we told him we were not looking for this. He said the 2008 papers were in his office," he said.

This testimony was challenged by Gobind, who pointed out that MACC investigating officer Mohd Anuar Ismail had testified on Wednesday that Teoh had brought both the 2008 and 2009 accounts.

"Anuar said he brought both accounts. You said Teoh only brought the 2009 accounts. Who is correct," asked Gobind to which Najeib maintained that his version of events was accurate.

The inquest continues.

Lee claims conspiracy in PKFZ scandal

PUTRAJAYA: Port Klang Authority chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng revealed there was possible conspiracy among five parties in connection with the Port Klang Free Zone scandal.

The five are Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd, its CEO Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, former PKA general manager Datin Paduka O.C. Phang, BTA Architect and the consultant for development work Bernard Tan Seng Swee.

He also revealed that some of the parties had made unsubstantiated claims amounting to about RM1.5bil.

Lee revealed this in his report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­m­ission against the five here yesterday.

Various organisations welcomed Lee’s move, saying the MACC should probe the matter because it involved public funds.

MACC man claims Teoh had an argument with Kajang councillor

SHAH ALAM: Political aide Teoh Beng Hock was heard having an argument with fellow DAP member Tan Boon Hwa on the day he died.

Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission (MACC) investigating officer Mohd Anuar Ismail told the inquest into Teoh’s death that his colleague Bulkini Paharudin informed him of this.

“After Teoh Beng Hock’s death, I was informed by Bulkini that there had been an argument between Tan and Teoh at 2am in the MACC toilet,” testified Mohd Anuar when cross-examined by MACC’s counsel Datuk Abd Razak Musa.

Teoh, who was the political secretary to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was summoned to the MACC office on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam here on July 15 to be questioned over alleged irregularities in the disbursement of state funds.

He was found dead at the building’s fifth floor service corridor the following day.

Tan, a councillor with the Kajang Municipal Council, had also been summoned by the MACC for questioning on the same day.

Bulkini is also among the witnesses scheduled to be called to testify at the inquest.

Earlier in the day, the inquest was told that the documents found on Teoh’s laptop belonged to four companies that were allegedly used to siphon state funds via claims for non-existent construction projects.

Cross-examined by Abd Razak, Mohd Anuar said the documents bearing the letterhead of four companies were “leased” out to individuals to be used to claim funds from the state.

He added that the construction projects were non-existent and when payments were made, individuals using the letterheads and companies received kickbacks.

The four companies were Fizami Construction Sdn Bhd, Aris Enterprise Sdn Bhd, MKMN Enterprise Sdn Bhd and MA Bina Melor Sdn Bhd.

When asked by Abd Razak about the total number of projects and their value, Mohd Anuar said: “Fizami Construction had 21 projects worth RM147,812, Aris Enterprise had obtained 14 projects worth RM88,275.30, MKMN Enterprise obtained six projects valued at RM50,765 and MA Bina Melor had seven projects valued at RM69,010.”

He also testified that Ean Yong would approve the payments and projects whilst Teoh prepared the necessary documentation for collection of payment as well as confirming that work has been completed.

Meanwhile, counsel Samil Bashir, who is holding a watching brief for Ean Yong showed Mohd Anuar pictures and documents pertaining to the projects granted to the four companies.

“Do you agree that these pictures show that work is being done and these are valid projects?” asked, to which Salim Mohd Anuar said: “I agree.”

Earlier when being cross-examined by Abd Razak, Mohd Anuar said he did not agree that Teoh had died while in the MACC’s custody as he had been released from questioning when he died.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Last MACC man to see Teoh alive is identified

SHAH ALAM, Aug 24 — The last man to see DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock alive is graft buster Raymond Nion son of John Timban, a Selangor MACC man told the coroner’s court today.

The investigating officer from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) Selangor branch, Mohd Anuar Ismail, is the 16th person to step into the witness stand in the ongoing inquiry to learn how Teoh died.

Mohd Anuar told the coroner’s court he only learned later that Raymond supposedly saw Teoh sleeping on a sofa in the MACC office on the 14th-floor of Plaza Masalam here as he himself was sleeping in a different room at the same time.

He added that another fellow officer, Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus, was the last to speak to Teoh.

“After the incident of Mr Teoh Beng Hock’s death, I was informed that at about 5am, he had called Mr Ashraf to ask for a drink and at about 6am, an officer named Mr Raymond had seen Mr Teoh Beng Hock still sleeping on a sofa,” the MACC IO replied when quizzed by lawyer Tan Hock Chuan.

Tan is a former deputy public prosecutor who was asked by the Attorney General to help the coroner in the inquest.

Mohd Anuar also said Teoh, who was found dead on a 5th-floor landing at the MACC Selangor branch on July 16, had been questioned overnight as the main witness into claims that Selangor DAP assemblymen were misusing state funds.

The soft-spoken MACC IO any denied that any “force” or “threats” had been used on Teoh during the interrogation.

He noted that two officers who had interviewed Teoh, Arman Alies and Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus, had later told him Teoh did not answer several questions on certain “documents” and his laptop but the officer who recorded the deceased’s statement, Mohd Nadzri Ibrahim, said there were “no problems”with Teoh.

Mohd Anuar also told the coroner that he had found Teoh’s bag, a dark-coloured slingbag, left behind on a sofa in the MACC Selangor office when he finally woke up at 8.30am on July 16, after Teoh was said to have been “released” from questioning.

He said he remembered seeing Teoh carry in the bag when he entered the building the previous day at about 6-plus in the evening but failed to identify the bag when pressed by Tan, who referred him to a photograph.

He had checked with several MACC workers, from fellow investigators including the head of the investigations unit, Hairul Idham Hamzah to the telephone operator to see if Teoh was still in the building, but failed to get a positive answer.

Mohd Anuar told the coroner his next sight of Teoh was after the political aide’s death, when he had received an emergency phone call from fellow officer, assistant enforcer Mohd Redzuan Mohamad, who told to go down to the 5th-floor “immediately”.

The IO had previously testified that he had been called back to the MACC office by Hairul Idham about midnight on July 16 after leaving at 8.30pm the day before.

However, he himself was not involved directly in the interrogation process despite being the IO, he said in reply to Tan’s pointed remark, explaining that officers carried out their jobs based on orders given from a senior officer.

He told the inquest that he had spent most of the hours between midnight and 9am sleeping: first on a sofa, then moving to the surau next to the toilet until about 3am when he was woken up by Mohd Nadzri Ibrahim who told him he had finished recording Teoh’s statements.

He instructed Mohd Nadzri to tell Teoh to go home and return the next day to hand over certain “documents”.

At 5am, Mohd Anuar moved to the main visitor’s room in the front of the office, where he slept with an MACC security guard, Mohammed Khairuddin Denan until 8.30am.

Yet, Mohd Anuar told the court he did not contact Teoh the next morning to follow-up on the “documents” related to the MACC’s investigations on the abuse of state funds when Tan probed.

Tan: As the IO, if someone does not bring the documents, do you call up the next day to ask him to bring the documents? Did you telephone Mr Teoh?

Mohd Anuar: No.

Tan: Did you ask any other officer to telephone Mr Teoh?

Mohd Anuar: No.

Tan’s eyebrows shot all the way to his hairline when he learnt that

Mohd Anuar had not gone home from July 16 until July 18.

The latter’s punch card showed he last clocked in on July 15 at 8.22am without ever clocking out, even though he admitted he had left the building at 8.30pm the same day to go home.

Tan: Is it a normal thing for the MACC?

Mohd Anuar: It’s a normal thing.

The MACC’s legal affairs director, Datuk Abdul Razak Musa, today offered again to supply the coroner with the recorded statement taken from Teoh before his death, which he said may be relevant to show his mental state.

But lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, acting for Teoh’s family, pointed out that the recorded statement was only an “interpretation” from the MACC and could not be said to fully “reflect” Teoh’s mind when he was no longer alive to prove the truth of the recording.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, the lawyer for the Selangor government, was equally cautious for the coroner to accept wholeheartedly the recorded statement.

“We have to study the statement first as we have just received it today. Our main concern is whether it is inded Teoh’s statement,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Speaking to reporters after the inquest, Abdul Razak admitted the statement was not a video or audio recording but merely a written record of Teoh’s conversation with the MACC officers.

Magistrate Azmil Muntapha Abas, who is acting as coroner, noted that the recording may still show relevance. He said he would decide tomorrow. - Malaysian Insider

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sivarasa suspects ‘cash inducement’ in PKR Lunas walk-out

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — PKR vice-president R Sivarasa today shrugged off claims of a break in party ranks following their Lunas assemblyman turning independent, saying the Kedah executive councillor (exco) might have been “financially induced” to quit to portray internal division.

Mohd Radzhi Salleh today discarded his party membership and declared himself independent, a move which could cost him his state exco position.

His political aide disclosed the dissolution of the party’s Padang Serai division, which Lunas falls under, citing their disappointment with the central leadership as the main reason that prompted the move.

Sivarasa, however, said there is no basis for Radzhi to make such allegations, claiming he has not heard complaints from members against the party’s central leadership.

“There is no basis to what he is claiming. There is no crisis whatsoever. I think it is reasonable to believe that the he might have been offered a substantial amount of money to do so to create the impression that the party is in crisis,” Sivarasa told The Malaysian Insider.

Apart from Radzhi, PKR is represented by two other councillors: Bukit Selambau’s Manikumar Subramaniam and Bakar Arang assemblyman Tan Wei Shu.

Sivarasa, who is Subang member of parliament, said the party would leave the question of Radzhi’s exco position to Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Razak.

“I think it’s just a matter of time before Radzhi would be removed as an exco,” commented Sivarasa.

Prior to Radzhi’s resignation, PKR was in control of five seats in the 36-member Kedah legislative assembly while PAS has 16 and DAP one. Radzhi won the state seat by more than 10,000 votes in the last general election.

His resignation today marks the second time the Kedah Pakatan Rakyat has been hit by internal crisis.

In July, DAP’s sole assemblyman, Lee Guan Aik threatened to withdraw from the state coalition after disagreements with the PAS-led government

Muhyiddin hints more PKR reps may quit

BUKIT MERTAJAM, Aug 23 — Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin hinted more PKR lawmakers could quit the opposition party as his faltering Barisan Nasional campaign in the Permatang Pasir by-election capitalised on the walkout by PKR's Lunas assemblyman.

The Umno deputy president said they would leave as they have lost confidence in the struggles of their leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim whose Pakatan Rakyat has won six out of seven by-elections since Election 2008.

"Many PKR members and elected representatives no longer trust Anwar Ibrahim because they realise that the party's struggles are only for meant one individual, that is Anwar," Bernama quoted Muhydiddin as saying here.

He said the decision of Lunas state assemblyman Mohd Radzhi Salleh to quit the PKR showed that elected representatives from the party no longer cared about their position although they were members of the state executive council.

Muhyiddin said although he was shocked by Mohd Radzi's sudden decision to leave the PKR, nonetheless he had expected it to happen.

Kedah tourism councillor Mohd Radzhi today announced his decision to leave the party and become an independent assemblyman, saying that he had lost confidence in the party's struggles.

He also claimed that 200 Padang Serai PKR members left the party as they had lost confidence in the party's leadership which no longer followed the original objectives of the party's formation.

Muhyiddin said the voters in Permatang Pasir should learn their lesson and should no longer be duped by Anwar's struggles and stop supporting the opposition coalition which was facing more problems.

Umno's scandal-hit candidate Rohaizat Othman, who has been disbarred as a lawyer, is facing Penang PAS state commissioner Mohd Salleh Man in a straight fight in the by-election this Tuesday.

Two PKR lawmakers in Perak quit with a DAP lawmaker last February and brought down the Pakatan state government led by PAS's Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin.

None of the PKR or DAP lawmakers have joined Barisan Nasional although they have pledged support for the federal coalition.

Their resignations have been a blow for Anwar, who predicted he could form the federal government with 30 MPs from Barisan which has ruled the country since Merdeka when the coalition was known as the Alliance.

Anwar's Pakatan won 82 seats in the 222-seat Parliament and five states in Election 2008, breaking the Barisan's traditional two-thirds parliamentary majority.

PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah said today “cash inducements” could have prompted Radzhi to quit, denying the party was facing cracks.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Permatang Pasir could be quicksand for Umno

PERMATANG PASIR, Aug 23 — Umno’s dream of capitalising on its resurgence in Manek Urai’s narrow loss could end up a nightmare in Permatang Pasir, where its campaign is sinking in the quicksand of its choice in scandal-hit candidate Rohaizat Othman.

It is understood that local Umno members “intend to voice their anger over the choice of candidate made by the Penang Umno leadership” by voting for PAS after a more favoured and popular choice, Permatang Pauh Umno youth chief Zaidi Mohd Said was bypassed by the party’s top leadership.

Umno and the ruling federal Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition have already watched in horror their campaign efforts go down the drain following revelations that Rohaizat had been disbarred for professional misconduct, apart from a few more cases and allegations of a second wife.

Campaigning has also been lacklustre, with very few turning up for the political ceramahs featuring top Umno leaders. Only a few allies from BN component parties have pounded the streets to canvass votes in next week’s by-election, where Rohaizat faces Penang PAS state commissioner Mohd Salleh Man.

“Many here were shocked when they found out that Rohaizat was picked instead of Zaidi and this has created discontent among the local Umno supporters,” said an Umno man here who spoke to The Malaysian Insider on condition of anonymity.

Zaidi, or known affectionately to locals as “Cikgu”, a name given after his profession, is a popular figure among the locals from both sides of the political divide. He is also said to be a well-liked figure among the Chinese community which make up 25 per cent of the predominantly Malay Permatang Pasir.

Malay and Chinese residents here have backed the claims describing Zaidi as well-liked for his “unpretentious” and “grassroot” character.

At a ceramah delivered by deputy prime minister and Umno No. 2 Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Wednesday night, Zaidi, who was present received a loud applause when he was introduced while Rohaizat was embarrassed by the lacklustre response he received from the audience.

Ironically, Muhyiddin, despite witnessing the obvious, have rubbished off claims that there are elements of sabotage within its party claiming that his observation indicated the local supporters have been earnest in their effort to ensure a BN victory.

“They are not talking about it. Instead, they are working hard at the grassroots to convince the voters to vote for the BN and I don’t see any sign within the BN that there are groups working to the contrary,” he was reported as saying.

Perhaps betting on the fact that their man is a local, Muhyiddin, apparently a traditionalist, seemed certain that Rohaizat’s background would be of advantage to the ruling coalition.

Locals however, thought otherwise. Many here say they have never even heard of Rohaizat before and that the Permatang Pauh Umno division secretary “only started appearing during the by-election.”

All this could well be a blunder to Muhyiddin and BN, local politicians say, given that the ruling coalition have been fortunate that residents here have shrugged off the scandal weighing on their candidate.

Umno sources say Zaidi’s reputation among the Chinese community could have been the vote-puller pivotal for BN’s aim to regain the much needed non-Malay votes that went to PAS in last year’s March 8 polls.

Former Permatang Pasir assemblyman, the late Datuk Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman, won the state seat with a majority of 5,433 votes, a victory local Umno leaders claimed made possible due to the non-Malay votes.

The negative perception of the non-Malay electorate here towards Rohaizat, coupled with the alleged sabotage elements and lacklustre campaign enterprise may well see the ruling coalition suffer yet another disastrous defeat, ushering BN chairman and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s hard-earned popularity rating to a premature end.
Malaysian Insider

Lunas assemblyman quits PKR, declares himself independent

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 23, 2009): Lunas state assemblyman Mohd Radzhi Salleh today announced he had quit Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to become an independent member of the Kedah legislative assembly.

Mohd Radzhi, who is chairman of the Tourism, Community Development and Human Resources Committee, said he would retain the post of state executive councillor as the appointment was made by the Sultan of Kedah.

His decision to leave PKR was due to loss of confidence in the PKR leadership and in keeping with the dissolution of the PKR Padang Serai division announced by division acting chief Jamaludin Abu Hassan who himself had quit the party, he told a news conference also attended by Jamaludin.

"As an elected representative, I sympathise with the decision to dissolve the division because the divisional members were responsible for my victory in the last general election," he said.

In the general election last year, Mohd Radzhi beat the BN candidate, S. Ananthan, by a majority of 10,323 votes to win the seat.

Mohd Radzhi said 14 divisional committee members and 200 ordinary members supported the dissolution of the division.

"I am no longer prepared to be in PKR because I feel responsible along with the members and, as a divisional committee member, I am leaving the party in support of the decision," he said.

Mohd Radzhi said he would continue to serve as an independent state assemblyman and support the federal government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.

The Kedah government is administered by the PAS-PKR-DAP coalition.

Replying to a question, Mohd Radzhi denied that he has been bought over by any political party.

In BUKIT MERTAJAM, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, who is in Penang to help in the campaign for the PAS candidate in the Permatang Pasir state by-election, said the status of Mohd Radzhi as a state executive councillor would be determined by the PKR leadership.

He said as the menteri besar he had the right to replace any state executive councillor who no longer represented any party in the Pakatan coalition after getting the consent of the sultan.

"I am waiting for the official letter from PKR on Radzhi's position and will replace him if PKR advises so. As of now, I have only heard news that Radzhi has left PKR," he told Bernama.

Azizan, who is also Kedah PAS commissioner, said he would not want to comment on Mohd Radzhi's departure from PKR as it was the party's domestic affair.

With Mohd Radzhi quitting PKR, the Kedah assembly now has four PKR assemblymen, two of whom are also state executive councillors. PAS has 16 assemblymen in the house, seven of whom are state executive councillors, while the DAP has one assemblyman. The Barisan Nasional has 14 assemblymen in Kedah.

In PADANG SERAI, former Padang Serai PKR chief Hamid Osman, 68, said he had expected the division to dissolve.

Hamid, who had headed the division since 2004 and quit the party in April, said he and more than 500 others were considering joining Umno.

Another former leader of Padang Serai PKR, Sarji Singh, 45, said he was not surprised over the departure of Mohd Radzhi from PKR as he himself and more than 1,000 PKR members had left the party to join the MIC last year.

Meanwhile, Padang Serai Umno deputy chief Abdul Halim Hasan said Umno was prepared to accept former PKR members for the sake of Malay unity and development.

Padang Serai Gerakan chairman Tang Liang Hiang said the party's doors were always open for former PKR members and supporters. -- Bernama

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rohaizat candidacy to BN self-sabotage

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, The Malaysian Insider

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed took a dig today at Barisan National’s (BN) choice of candidate for the Permatang Pasir by-election by pointing out that he was not sure if Rohaizat Othman — a disbarred lawyer — was qualified to run for office.

The former prime minister said that he was also informed Rohaizat was accused of having two wives.

“If you give someone a good reason to sabotage you, then it will be easy to be sabotaged and it will be your fault,” quipped Dr. Mahathir.

Umno has come under fire recently since its chosen candidate Rohaizat Othman was discovered to have been found guilty of misconduct by the Bar Council after failing to return RM161,000 belonging to the Penang Rubber Smallholders Cooperation.

The former lawyer has been on the defensive ever since the discovery was made public, blaming Pakatan Rakyat for attempting to discredit him personally.

However, Rohaizat has yet to respond to allegations made by his former partner Yusri Ishak against him.

Umno maintains that Pakatan Rakyat is trying to “assassinate” the character of their chosen candidate.

Rohaizat is facing Penang PAS state commissioner Mohd. Salleh Man in a straight fight for the state seat in the by-election on August 25.

- MT

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kit Siang calls MACC ‘Gestapo’

PETALING JAYA, Aug 15 — DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang today slammed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as the Gestapo for its high-handed manner in arresting political aide Wong Chuan How.

The special assistant to Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu for the Barisan Nasional-held Sungai Pelek constituency was injured during a scuffle with MACC officers outside his office yesterday.

Lim said the MACC officers who when to meet Wong at his service centre in Sungai Pelek had gone back on their word by trying to arrest him.

An appointment had been made earlier for Wong to meet the MACC as a witness in ongoing investigations into alleged impropriety in state allocations. But five officers turned up at the service centre said he was a suspect and wanted him to follow them to their office in Putrajaya.

“How did he become a suspect when he was previously just a witness and this shows they are not sincere in their investigations,” the Ipoh Timur MP told reporters.

In light of what happened to Teoh Beng Hock who was found dead last month at the MACC office, two lawyers with Wong insisted he lodge a police report at the Sungai Pelek police station before he followed them to Putrajaya and the MACC officers agreed.

However, three unidentified men tried to handcuff and drag Wong to their car as he walked out of his service centre.

There is no question about Wong resisting arrest because the men did not identify themselves, Lim said.

In the struggle, Wong fell to the ground and injured his right leg while struggling with the men.

Lim noted that MACC had broken their promise again and called on MACC advisory panels to rein in the MACC which seem to have even greater powers than the police.

He also pointed out that the MACC seems to be overly focus on Pakatan Rakyat while ignoring the ongoing RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo’s alleged RM24 million mansion and the RM10 million donation received by MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Kiat.

Wong, whose right leg was bandaged and was seen moving with the support of a walker, confirmed he did not know who the three men were and said he has no confidence in the MACC.

“The MACC is not independent and a tool which is being used by the Barisan Nasional to topple the Selangor government.” said Wong, adding he was not even found guilty yet but was treated like a criminal.

Wong's boss Liu took the MACC officers to task for refusing to identify the three men involved in grabbing his assistant.

“I asked several officers to provide us their names but they themselves claim they did not know who they were,” Liu said, adding he did meet the men at the police station later.

Liu added there is no doubt the MACC was being selective in their prosecution.

He claimed no investigations has been done on the previous Barisan lawmakers who had spent RM500,000 in annual allocations, in just two months, prior to the March 8 general elections last year.

Umno-linked firm plans to privatise NST

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — A company closely associated with Umno is proposing a major corporate revamp which would privatise the country’s most established newspaper company, New Straits Times (NST) Press.

But analysts and bankers are charging that Media Prima’s financial engineering plan will not help boost the newspaper company’s flagging fortunes.

In fact, the proposal would see NST surrendering its listing status on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange in a deal that would not be beneficial to its existing shareholders, bankers and analysts say.

“The deal shows that it is tough to make a business model work when a newspaper is used as a political vehicle,” said a senior media industry executive familiar with the proposed transaction.

Media Prima, Umno’s main investment arm, owns a commanding 43.3per cent interest in NST.

Last week, it submitted a plan to the board of the newspaper company to acquire shares it does not already own through a so-called share swap.

Under the proposed acquisition, which has not been made public, stockholders of NST would receive new Media Prima shares in a one-for-one exchange.

Bankers said that the swap favoured Media Prima more than NST because the underlying value of the newspaper company was more than twice the value of its main debt-heavy controlling shareholder.

The deal would also transform Media Prima, which also owns all of the country’s free-to-air television stations, including the profitable TV3, into Malaysia’s most powerful media company.

Financial implications aside, media industry executives said that the proposed corporate revamp would do little to improve the deep financial strife in NST, which publishes the English-language daily The New Straits Times, and two other Malay-language publications, Berita Harian and Harian Metro.

Wracked by management problems, a dwindling readership and shrinking advertising revenue, NST has long lost its premier position in the print media business in Malaysia.

The Star, which last year reported a daily circulation of just over 300,000 copies, is now the country’s top-selling English-language media company.

Media industry executives said that daily circulation for the New Straits Times is struggling at just under 120,000 copies, down from the roughly 140,000 it posted last year.

Its main Malay-language daily Berita Harian has seen daily circulation figures fall by about 25 per cent over the last four years to about 180,000 copies currently.

The publishing group’s Malay readership now favours the racy tabloid Harian Metro, which has seen its circulation jump to roughly 370,000 copies from 180,000 copies in 2004.

“The whole deal will streamline the media assets of Media Prima in a neat fashion and will give the company the financial means to move forward in a very challenging environment,” said one investment banker who is involved in the proposed transaction.

Media Prima’s single largest shareholder is Gabungan Kasturi, which is owned by the business nominees of Umno. - Straits Times

Friday, August 14, 2009

MACC nabs Ronnie Liu’s assistant after scuffle (Update)

SHAH ALAM: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested Wong Chuan How, special assistant to Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu, after a scuffle Friday morning.

Both parties have lodged police reports over the incident, which saw Wong injured.

The MACC alleged that Wong, also a Sepang municipal councillor and a contractor, tried to resist arrest and attempted to flee during the 9.30am incident at the Sungai Pelek service centre in the Sepang district.

They were investigating allegations of the abuse of constituency funds by several state assemblymen.

Sources said the MACC officers were meeting Wong on Friday morning, claiming that he had “gone missing” for several weeks despite numerous attempts to contact him over allegations that he had been awarded more than 230 projects worth a total of nearly RM500,000.

The sources said the MACC had last week detained two men whose company was used as a front by a contractor to obtain projects.

When contacted Friday afternoon, Liu was rushing Wong, 50, to the Serdang Hospital to treat his injuries.

Liu said that Wong had been initially told that he was to be questioned as a witness, but the three MACC officers who came to the service centre Friday morning instead told him he was a suspect and was to be arrested and taken to their office for questioning.

“When I was alerted to this, I called the senior MACC officer there and asked him if they could guarantee Wong’s personal safety.

“When they wouldn’t do so, I told Wong to lodge a police report before going with them.

“The Selangor state government will not take chances anymore when it comes to the safety of its employees, given the Teoh case,” he said.

Political aide Teoh Beng Hock was found dead near the MACC office on July 16, the day after he was taken in for questioning. An inquest is currently being conducted into his death.

Liu said the MACC officers should have conducted their questioning at the Sungai Pelek service centre.

“The law does not stipulate where the MACC has to conduct its questioning, so there was no need for them to take him to their office,” said Liu, who claimed the scuffle occurred as Wong stepped out of the office to lodge a report at the police station.

Liu claimed there was some pushing which caused Wong to lose his balance and fall.

“He can’t walk at the moment and his entire right leg is swollen.” he claimed, adding that Wong was “not a young man and is quite heavy-set.”

Liu said he requested the MACC officers allow Wong to be admitted to the hospital for treatment instead of being taken in for questioning.

“But the senior MACC officer disagreed and said they would allow him to receive outpatient treatment and that the questioning would continue,” Liu said.

Loke’s statement taken by 2 Bkt Aman police officers

SEREMBAN: Two police officers from Bukit Aman took a statement on Friday from DAP Socialist Youth chief Loke Siew Fook at his office at the Lobak state constituency service centre here.

Loke, who is also the Member of Parliament for Rasah and Lobak state assemblyman, said the officers were Supt Victor Sanjos and ASP Hazizi A. Samad from the computer content investigation unit of the cyber and multimedia crime investigation division.

"They came to my office about 10am and took my statement over two and a half hours. They took my statement as a witness.

“Lawyer Siow Kim Leong who is the chairman of the DAP legal bureau was present when the statement was taken," Loke told reporters here.

He said the statement was taken after he had made a police report at the Dang Wangi police station in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 10 to deny that he had said words or sentences that insulted Islam and the Sultan of Perak.

"I deny vehemently that the statement was written by me. I have never written anything that had insulted Islam or the Sultan of Perak.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Karpal sedition trial: Reporter ‘unsure’

KUALA LUMPUR: A witness told the High Court here that he was not sure if during a media conference, DAP chairman Karpal Singh had actually uttered the words that a Ruler could be sued for his role in removing a mentri besar from office.

Utusan Malaysia reporter Mohd Nizam Mohamad Yatim, 38, who took the witness stand on the first day of Karpal’s sedition trial, said this during cross-examination by lead defence counsel Jagdeep Singh Deo.

“After the press statement was read by Karpal Singh, there was an answer and question session. A reporter asked if ‘legal action’ included suing the Sultan, and Karpal Singh said ‘yes’,” said Mohd Nizam when relating the events at the media conference.

When asked who the reporter was, Mohd Nizam replied he was “not sure.”

When Jagdeep pointed out that it was that reporter who asked Karpal to sue the Sultan of Perak, Mohd Nizam replied that the reporter was just asking for a clarification.

Jagdeep: “So it does not say that Karpal Singh had said he would sue the Sultan of Perak?”

Mohd Nizam: “I am not sure.”

Karpal is alleged to have uttered seditious words during a media conference relating to the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah’s consent to remove Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as mentri besar.

He allegedly committed the offence at his law firm Messrs Karpal Singh & Co between noon and 12.30pm on Feb 6. He is charged under Section 4 (1) (b) of the Sedition Act 1948.

During the trial, Jagdeep grilled Mohd Nizam and even raised his voice, causing DPP Datuk Kamaluddin Md Said to interject and remind the defence counsel not to shout at the witness.

At one point, Mohd Nizam drew incredulous laughter when he said that he did not know what Karpal was being charged with.

Jagdeep accused Mohd Nizam of being “insincere” when the witness said he “only reports what was said” and does not give opinions in his article.

Mohd Nizam said he wrote two stories based on the press statement and the media conference, but only one of his stories was published on Feb 7. The second article about whether a Ruler can be sued was picked up by Bernama, the national news agency.

Jagdeep asked Mohd Nizam to read the press statement, which was in English, and explain to the court the meaning of it in Bahasa Malaysia.

Jagdeep: “Does the term ‘ultra vires’ mean ‘to insult’? Is that correct?”

Mohd Nizam: “Correct. That is what I understand. But I did not use it in my story.”

Jagdeep: “Do you know that your understanding of the term is wrong? Do you realise that your article caused a lot of chaos?”

Mohd Nizam: “That is not my article. It is Bernama’s article.”

When questioned by Jagdeep if the press statement was about constitutional issues, Mohd Nizam answered yes.

“So you would agree that Karpal Singh’s statement does not in anyway seem a threat or intimidation of the Sultan of Perak?” Jagdeep said.

“I agree,” said Mohd Nizam.

Jagdeep summarised that based on the testimony of the witness, the statement by the accused was only a firm reminder to the Sultan of Perak to act within the parameters of the Constitution.

The trial was adjourned to Thursday afternoon because the next witness, an RTM reporter, failed to turn up in court.

Jeff Ooi, Loke to be called up by cops

KUALA LUMPUR: The police will soon be calling up DAP Youth chief Loke Siew Fook and Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi to have their statements recorded regarding allegations they had insulted Islam.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said police would record their statements before making any recommendation to the Attorney-General, who will then decide whether to charge them in court.

“The alleged actions are punishable under the Sedition Act or Section 298 of the Penal Code for insulting religions,” he said after handing over a donation to the Gaza children’s humanitarian fund in Bukit Aman on Wednesday.

Also present were former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah who accepted a cheque for RM97,156.55 to help the victims.

Loke had allegedly hit out at freelance religious speaker Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah and called him a racist for the latter’s statement on the status of the unborn child of political aide Teoh Beng Hock, who died after a fall last month.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak later directed police to investigate comments that purportedly appeared on Loke’s blog that allegedly insulted Islam as well as the Sultan of Perak.

Loke, also the Member of Parliament for Rasah, has strongly denied the allegation and said he did not know of the existence of the blog and was not aware of who was behind it. He lodged a police report about the matter at the Dang Wangi police station on Monday.

Ooi had made a statement which purportedly linked the Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) movement to religious extremists for wanting to promote Syariah laws.

He later retracted the statement.

Musa said the investigations on Ooi would be handled by Penang police while those on Loke would be investigated by the Bukit Aman Commercial Crimes Department.

Kayveas rightful PPP president: ROS

PUTRAJAYA: Datuk M. Kayveas is the valid People’s Progressive Party (PPP) president while sacked youth chief Datuk T. Murugiah’s appointment as president at a May 24 emergency general meeting (EGM) is invalid, the Registrar of Societies (ROS) has decided.

Murugiah’s sacking has also been found to be have been conducted according to provisions in the party constitution and is therefore deemed valid.

However, the PPP will be issued a notice by the ROS asking it to explain why certain aspects of the running of the party had failed to follow procedures outlined in its constitution.

Failure to provide a satisfactory explanation can result in action that includes the deregistration of the party, the ROS warned.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said he had personally spoken to Kayveas and Murugiah on Monday and Tuesday respectively to inform them of the decision and they had both accepted the decision.

He said the ROS had been thorough and transparent in conducting its investigations and had even checked its findings with the Home Ministry legal advisor, so there was no reason to doubt if the decision was the correct one.

“Murugiah can still appeal against the decision but what is more important is the status of the party itself. They first need to answer to the notice within 30 days ... or the party’s existence will come into question.

“At the end of the day what I would like is for them (Kayveas and Murugiah) to find a solution that ensures that the party and its members do not suffer,” Hishammuddin said.

“This a legal solution but at the end of the day a political answer needs to be found for the personalities and leaders within the party,” he told a press conference after chairing his ministry’s post-cabinet meeting here on Wednesday.

He said the ROS decision would not affect Murugiah’s position in the Cabinet as he had been appointed by the Prime Minister.

Monday, August 10, 2009

PAS wants 'oil royalties'

SEVENTY people set sail in three boats on a 26-hour round trip of the South China Sea last week.

Their mission gave Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak a new headache in Kelantan - although some themselves returned seasick.

Malaysia produces oil and gas offshore, in the South China Sea, and a growing number of Kelantan residents feel that the federal government owes the east coast state at least RM1.7 billion (S$700 million) in 'oil royalties'.

Ten leaders of Malaysia's opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat went on the watery expedition on Tuesday to make that point.

The rest were mostly journalists, bloggers and PAS members from Kelantan, a state that has remained in PAS hands for 19 years.

Kelantan's Deputy Speaker Zaki Ibrahim led the mission and state executive councillor Husam Musa was also on one boat.

The two fishing boats and one decommissioned navy boat sailed from two jetties in Kelantan.

Tabloid reporter Khairi Mohamad, who went on the trip, was quoted as saying in a newspaper: 'The trip was a harrowing experience and almost all of us suffered from severe seasickness.'

Malaysia extracts hydrocarbon resources from Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Pahang.

Each receives a 5 per cent royalty a year from the federal government based on the values of the deposits brought out. Most Malaysians refer to this simply as an 'oil royalty'.