Friday, February 26, 2010

Circus of Malaysian's politics goes to Washington

The nagging question still remains as to why should the NAG team waste the taxpayers’ money and go all the way to put up a circus when the Americans (who created Avatar, remember?) can easily make out the difference between image, illusion and reality?

by Martin Jalleh

For a little more than a month in 2010, Umno has gone full steam with its scare tactics, sabre-rattling tricks, silly threats and sinister theatrics. Now it is all set to take the Malaysian (political) circus to the US and to show Uncle Sam a far “superior” sample of democracy and governance.

The trip is by courtesy of Apco Worldwide, a global PR firm, employed by the government to resuscitate, redeem, and re-engineer the PM’s flagging image at the cost of about RM20 million. The firm has allegedly offered similar services to dictators and corrupt leaders worldwide. They must feel very at home here in dealing with the “most corrupt institution in the country”.

But why is Umno off to the US with its best circus clowns to impress the US when they just told those low-down politicians in Down Under that to Umno it is a no-no to interfere in the affairs of Bolehland? Why waste the people’s money and be bothered about what the US thinks of us? Alas, the answer to such a mystery belongs only to those who can go the lowest.

The circus will be hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The man behind it is (Ernie) Bower in partnership with a (Karen) Brooks. Both have boasted about their close bond with ASEAN leaders. However, they insist they are not beholden to Southeast Asian governments nor would they act as a lobby group or agents for them in Washington.

Surely Bower and Brooks can come up with better bull than this. Why would they want to bargain their reputation away by sharing the stage with political buffoons and bozos sent to an image-boosting circus? But the circus must go on. Apco must make the Najib administration look appetising enough for the whole audience to want to swallow up what they throw at them!

The event will be held on 24th February 2010 and it will be at K Street in Washington DC. This is where the big lobbying firms have their headquarters and is sometimes referred to as the “fourth branch of government”. But, of course, what is important to Umno is the fact that K Street is also called “The Road to Riches”. Now you get the drift?

The three top officials to speak at the seminar entitled “Governance and Rule of Law in Malaysia and Malaysian Legislative Initiatives” i.e., how the circus is run in Bolehland, are Minister in the PM's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz, former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad and Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail -- a powerful and perfect NAG (Nazri, Abdul Hamid & Gani) team!

They will of course have the privilege and honour of being accompanied and introduced by special envoy, senior diplomat, seasoned politician and Malaysia’s ambassador to the United States, Jamaludin Jarjis, a man who has soared to such high office as a result of his wide reputation of being very adept at grappling, groping and getting to the bottom of things.

Nazri’s Nonsense

Nazri, the Minister in the PM’s Department, overseer of parliamentary affairs and de facto Law Minister, will surely serve up a sterling performance. He has successfully and quite single-handedly reduced Parliament, the country's supreme law-making institution, to an annual circus, a rubber stamp and a stage for the spineless, silly, sexist and not-so-stable.

Nazri should tell the Americans how free he is to go berserk when his brains short-circuit in parliament, like when he: shouted “racist/bloody racist” at MP Kula Segaran 41 times in a space of five to 10 minutes; snapped at a wheelchair-bound Karpal Singh: “You are just jealous because I am standing!”; and screamed at Lim Kit Siang “Stupid, stupid, stupid…!” until the press gave up counting.

Perhaps Nazri could use the above as veritable examples of how supposedly vibrant and vigorous parliamentary democracy is in Bolehland. He could of course throw in the example of a wheelchair-bound Karpal Singh being surrounded by a hostile group of Umno Youth thugs (as the police and security personnel stood idly by) at the Parliament lobby!

The US has much to learn from a loudmouth and loose cannon like Nazri. He has taken Bolehland to greater heights in hype, hypocrisy, half-truths, hysterics and histrionics in Parliament in spite of the declaration of the current Speaker that “Parliament is no longer like a first-world Parliament anymore”.

Good boy, Gani

As Attorney General (AG) Gani Patail will have to paint a glossy picture of how Bolehland is guided and governed by the rule of law though almost everyone knows that it is the AG who is guided by those who rule, to decide how, when, what and which part of the law is upheld! Gani will be too shy to say, it is actually “Rule by law” and at times it’s more of the mob which rules!

Gani is a product of “good governance”. He has been a good boy of those who govern. They take good care of him in spite of allegations against him such as “blackmailing and extortion of the highest culpability” in Sodomy I, interference of justice in not prosecuting then Minister for International Trade and Industry Rafidah Aziz for corruption, and tampering with evidence and interfering with the investigations on the savage assault on Anwar Ibrahim.

If and when the audience grills Gani on Sodomy II will he give them a go-around? Or will he parrot the government’s pathetic reply to the international community that sodomy is an offence here? It is very offensive indeed to people’s intelligence when you speak of sodomy (under the penal code) without any penile penetration (verified by doctors)! Will Gani be providing a more penetrating view there?

Surely K Street would love to see the kangaroo courts, which have become an increasingly special feature of the Malaysian judicial circus. Nazri and Gani should show how the judiciary, the very portal of justice, continues to be reduced to a convenient playground for the ruling elite to legitimise their power grab, persecute their opponents and promote their political agenda, through the perversion of the rule of law by certain court jesters.

Nazri and Gani should speak proudly on the cattle-trading culture (politically brokered judicial appointments) in the judiciary, which still lingers on after both of them decided to treat the findings of the Royal Commission on the V.K. Lingam video clip case very lightly. Nazri made a laughing stock of himself as he lectured Parliament on “What may be morally wrong could be legally or politically ‘correct, correct, correct’”.

The Americans must know that ‘good governance’ reigns in our good country. A good number of politicians, especially the Umnoputras, have made good money in good time in doing what is "good for the people". In their good fortune they built for themselves palatial mansions, own a fleet of posh cars and huge properties abroad, and take their families on pleasure and all-paid-for holidays and place their children in premier schools overseas.

Abdul Hamid’s Acrobatics

Poor Abdul Hamid, who was well-respected though he was an accidental Chief Justice, may have to do a few head-stands and somersaults to convince the audience that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which he chairs is doing a good job of curbing corruption and playing a crucial role in good governance. Since its formation, corruption worsened drastically!

Only two per cent of the respondents in a Star Online live chat rated the MACC’s performance in fighting corruption as “good”. The rest frowned upon the MACC as a “monumental failure” and a farce in its task of tackling corruption. It has become a favourite tool of the Umno government to repress the opposition and its fatal flaw is that it is not politically neutral.

Since its much-hyped up launch on 1st January 2009, the then MACC’s chief commissioner (CC), Ahmad Said Hamdan, “has managed to put his mouth into overdrive while shifting his brains into reverse” (Tunku Aziz). He chose to retire early and will remain haunted by how he had handled the “small case” of the death of Teoh Beng Hock. As for the new CC of the MACC? Well, the public prefers to wait and see.

The Malaysian Circus in K Street must of course end with a few key words on how the PM’s slogan of 1Malaysia is a resounding success. For never before has the Government, Parliament, Judiciary and institutions like the Police, Election Commission, and civil service been made to “bond” and “blend” together as One in order to bury the Opposition for good! How’s that for good governance!

Surely Nazri will proudly tell the Americans that he was right on when he declared a few years ago: “…the concept of separation of powers between the legislative, judiciary and executive is ‘too idealistic’ to be implemented in the country.’’

The nagging question still remains as to why should the NAG team waste the taxpayers’ money and go all the way to put up a circus when the Americans (who created Avatar, remember?) can easily make out the difference between image, illusion and reality?

Furthermore, their audience would have probably read the report by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), which warned that Malaysia was “veering towards instability”. Then there are also the annual human rights reports on Third World countries by US-based NGOs and the US Government itself!

Alas, the threesome should have stayed back, saved the rakyat’s money and do something more fruitful or even spiritual, like join in the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday procession organised by the Penang State Government?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kelantan strikes back over KL’s oil ads

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Fed-up with the federal government’s attempts to dodge out of paying oil royalties, the Kelantan state government is fighting fire with fire.

Earlier this week, Kelantan sent out copies of its eight-point stand of its claims for payments for oil produced off its coast to several Malay-language newspapers to counter the federal government’s eight arguments.

According to lawyer Tommy Thomas, a member of a team of lawyers engaged to act for the state government, the papers have yet to publish the state’s version.

The federal government had over the weekend taken out pages in Berita Minggu, Mingguan Malaysia and Sinar Harian listing eight reasons to deny Kelantan its claim.

“We disagree with the answers given in the recent advertisement made on behalf of the federal government,” Thomas said, and provided a copy of the state’s basis for its oil claims for contrast.

He noted that the Petroleum Development Act (PDA), which is the document referred to by both state and federal governments in the oil dispute, had come into force on Oct 1, 1974, and had set up Petronas, giving it rights to oil sourced from land or in waters in the country.

“Under the PDA, each of the 13 states signed identical agreements and vesting grants at different dates between 1975 and 1976 with Petronas, vesting their respective ownership of oil in Petronas,” the lawyer said, giving a brief background of the case.

The national oil company was to pay each state where oil was produced “a yearly sum equivalent to five per cent of the value of petroleum produced onshore and offshore of the state concerned”, Thomas added.

He also pointed out that Kelantan’s neighbour on the east, Terengganu, had received yearly payments for oil from the federal government from the start while the state was in the hands of the national coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), but the payments stopped almost immediately after the state fell to PAS in 1999.

Kelantan’s response to the eight questions raised is reproduced below alongside the federal government’s answers to the same questions, for comparison.

1. According to the Petroleum Development Act 1974, what is the term used for payment made for oil and gas production?

State: The PDA, the 13 Agreements and the 13 Vesting Grants all use the term “cash payments”. The popular word used by all concerned is “royalty”. However, nothing turns on the description of the payment.

Federal: The term used is “cash payment” of 5 per cent. The word “royalty” is not being used anywhere in the Act.

2. According to the agreements between Petronas and the state government in 1975/1976, what are the requirements to entitle the state governments to the 5 per cent cash payments?

State: The terms used in the PDA, the 13 Agreements and the 13 Vesting Grants are “on-shore” and “off-shore” to denote petroleum produced from land (on-shore) and from water (off-shore). Neither the PDA, the 13 Agreements nor the 13 Vesting Grants contain any limitations on the right of any state to receive cash payments for petroleum produced off its coast based on the length from the coast. Hence, neither the PDA, the 13 Agreements nor the 13 Vesting Grants restrict the payment of cash payments for petroleum produced 3 miles, 12 miles, 200 miles or any other distance from the coast of the 13 states because distance is not specified in the PDA, the Agreements and the 13 Vesting Grants. Instead, the generic word “off-shore” is used.

The Emergency (Special Powers) Ordinance No. 1969 does not govern the ownership of petroleum, whether on-shore or off-shore. The Ordinance also does not deal with the legal obligations of Petronas to pay cash payments to a state where petroleum is produced on-shore or off-shore. Only the PDA does. Thus, the Ordinance is not the relevant law on the matter.

Federal: The oil or gas wells must be within the state boundaries, that is, the state land and its territory waters which is 3 nautical miles measured from the ebb level (Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance No.7 1969).

3. Does the Kelantan state government or any other state governments in Peninsular Malaysia have the right to claim from Petronas the said cash payment?

State: Yes, provided petroleum is produced on-shore or off-shore the state concerned. Thus, in March 1978, Petronas informed Terengganu that petroleum had been produced in the Pulai oil field, which is located about 150 miles from the coast of Terengganu. In June 1978, Petronas made the first ever cash payment to Terengganu for petroleum produced off-shore Terengganu (in Pulai). For 22 successive years, that is, from 1978 to March 2000, Petronas made cash payments to Terengganu twice a year under the PDA, the Agreement and the Vesting Grant, although petroleum was produced hundreds of miles off-shore Terengganu. Only when PAS formed the state government of Terengganu after the general election of November 1999 did Petronas cease making cash payments to Terengganu, although Petronas is still producing petroleum off-shore Terengganu without paying Terengganu for it.

Federal: They have no right to do so as at this moment, all productive oil and gas wells in the peninsula are situated beyond the 3 nautical mile zone. Therefore, any production from the wells situated beyond state waters, which is beyond the 3 nautical mile zone, belongs to the federal government.

4. What is the position of Sabah and Sarawak on the issue of royalty payment?

State: Until the PDA came into force in October 1974, the legal basis of royalty payments to Sabah and Sarawak were laws passed by the British colonial power. After the PDA’s enactment and the establishment of Petronas, Sabah and Sarawak are treated in an identical manner as the peninsula states. Thus, the sole legal basis of payment of cash payments to Sabah and Sarawak since October 1974 is the PDA, their two Agreements and their two Vesting Grants. They are in the identical position with Kelantan, Terengganu and the other nine states of Peninsular Malaysia. All are treated equally under the PDA to avoid discrimination among the 13 states of Malaysia.

Federal: Before 1974, the state governments of Sabah and Sarawak already had their own positions on the royalty rights through enforcement of agreements as well as the enforcement of the Continental Shelf Act 1966. It is historic and special privileges acknowledged when they joined Malaysia in 1963.

5. What is meant with the payment of “Wang Ehsan”?

State: This is the political label invented by the Mahathir administration in 2000 when it directed Petronas to cease making cash payments to Terengganu after PAS formed the state government. The term “wang ehsan” has no legal basis. It is not found in the PDA, the 13 Agreements and the 13 Vesting Grants.

Federal: Wang Ehsan is a contribution or aid channelled to the states including Kelantan based on the discretion of the federal government. This contribution is beyond the scope/ jurisdiction of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and the agreement signed between Petronas and the state government in 1975/1976. This aid is given solely based on the federal government’s awareness and responsibility for the welfare of the state and its people.

6. Why is the federal government offering Wang Ehsan to Kelantan in the amount of RM20 million only?

State: We cannot answer this question as it is a sum arbitrarily picked out by the federal government and without any legal basis.

Federal: The federal government is giving this allocation based on courtesy with regard to gas produced in federal waters. The Kelantan state government has no right in the area as it is outside the 3 nautical mile zone.

7. What is the position of the statement made by former Petronas chairman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that royalty should be paid to Kelantan based on the petroleum production obtained from outside the state waters as well as questioning the giving of the Wang Ehsan?

State: We support the recent public statement by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. Much weight must be given to Tengku Razaleigh as he was the first chairman of Petronas, and signed the 13 Agreements on behalf of Petronas with each of the state governments. He is very conversant with these matters. He also enjoyed the trust and confidence of the late Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia’s 2nd Prime Minister, and the architect of our petroleum policy.

Federal: The statement by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Gua Musang MP, needs to be seen as a mere personal opinion from him. Any decision taken with regard to the right to royalty payment needs to be made in accordance with the relevant laws as well as agreements signed between Petronas and the state governments.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah needs to explain that the PAS Terengganu government cannot question the position of Wang Ehsan as the money that has been channelled all this while, although in the name of oil royalty, does not belong to the state.

He also stated that when Petronas was formed, there was no state in Peninsular Malaysia that had the right to the oil production found in the area outside the state’s “territory” (Bernama, Nov 1, 2000).

Although today Tengku Razaleigh had changed his position, the position of the law has still not changed. The people and the country are obliged to respect the laws of the country.

8. Is the opposition leader informed of the position of the rights of the state government in this issue?

State: Again, we cannot answer this question because Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the opposition, does not officially represent Kelantan in the petroleum royalty issue.

Federal: Based on the position of the existing provisions of law, the opposition leader is aware that the state government has no right to any cash payment or royalty in relation to the petroleum production which are being explored beyond state waters. That is why the opposition leader had once tried to make a resolution to amend the Petroleum Development Act 1974 in December 2009.

Therefore, the opposition leader himself is aware that the Kelantan state government has no right on any oil or gas wells within federal territory.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Remembers Feb 6, 2009.

IPOH, Feb 6 — Of all the Perak Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, it is Tronoh assemblyman V. Sivakumar whose life has changed most drastically after Feb 6, 2009.

Before the March 8 general election in 2008, Sivakumar was working as an aide to Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran.

After winning the Tronoh state seat in the elections and becoming an assemblyman for the first time, he also became the first Indian to be appointed Speaker in a legislative assembly.

When the dramatic events of the infamous power grab first unfolded, Sivakumar, who was still in the process of learning about his role as Perak Speaker, suddenly found himself in a very crucial position.

After his PR friends were booted out of government and were replaced by a new team from the Barisan Nasional, Sivakumar became the opposition’s only hope in trying to wrest power back.

As Speaker of the House, Sivakumar still commanded authority over all the 59 state assemblymen in the assembly and the PR was trying to choke all avenues of his power.

“When I took up the post of Speaker, I did not know what the job entailed. I had no idea how important the Speaker of the House was.

“In my early days before becoming an assemblyman, I had only looked at the state representatives and told myself that one day I wanted to be one of them.

“I never looked so far up to the Speaker’s chair and said that I wanted to be him,” Sivakumar told The Malaysian Insider in an interview recently.

He said that although he managed to learn plenty during the PR’s one-year tenure in government, it was during the days of the “power grab” that he really understood the true importance of the Speaker’s role in the assembly.

“There were times when I wondered to myself ‘can I really do this?’. There are many things that are written in the Standing Orders about the rights of the Speaker but it is not easy to implement them.

“I kept asking myself if by doing certain things, would I be wrong and would it only serve to backfire on me? It was not easy but I had the help of the lawyers in the party,” he said.

Sivakumar’s first move in the power grab was to declare the seats of Changkat Jering, Behrang and Jelapang vacant upon receiving the infamous “undated resignation letters” from the assemblymen before Feb 6.

That, however, failed to work when the trio appeared in public to declare themselves as BN-friendly independents and publicly deny knowledge of the letters. They also sought legal redress on the matter.

On Feb 6, Pangkor assemblyman Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and his six state executive councillors were sworn into government before the Sultan at Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar.

“The next thing we could do was to invoke my powers as the chairman of the assembly’s Rights and Privileges Committee,” he said.

In the PR’s well-crafted strategy, Sivakumar was to receive a complaint from a member of the assembly over the “wrongful” installation of the new government under the BN.

He revealed that when Zambry and his group attended the committee’s inquiry, they refused to respond to the questions put forth.

“He came into the room with his gang, sat in front of me and told me ‘I am not going to answer you on anything’. And then he left.

“Zambry only attended the hearing to show to the media that he respected me as a Speaker but in truth, he showed the committee total disrespect,” said Sivakumar.

He added that the committee, after deliberating for hours, decided on the spot to suspend Zambry for 18 months and his executive councillors for 12 months.

This implied that the BN would lose its three-seat edge over the PR in the assembly and a vote of no-confidence against Zambry as the mentri besar would surely be passed in seconds.

The decision, however, was questioned in court and the Federal Court overturned it, declaring that Sivakumar had acted ultra vires the Constitution.

Still, the repercussions of that decision, said Sivakumar, were that he was forced to live the next few months of his life like a fugitive.

“I was never in Perak for more than a few days unless I was needed. I moved from state to state, under the protection of the PAS ‘unit amal’ members. I sent my family to live with my in-laws.

“I could not make public appearances for fear of my safety because we all knew that I was the target of the BN,” he said.

He added that despite this, he never once wanted to give up the fight. “The government was stolen from us and I wanted justice to be served,” he said.

With that in mind, Sivakumar and his friends in the PR endured a series of chaotic state assemblies, from the March 3 “tree sitting” to the tumultuous May 7 sitting, the Sept 2 “hotel sitting” and finally, the most recent Oct 28 assembly.

On March 3, Sivakumar, upon being blocked from entering the State Secretariat for the assembly, convened the sitting anyway, decked in full Speaker’s garb, beneath the shade of a large rain tree near the building.

On May 7, Sivakumar found himself roughly removed from the Speaker’s seat and unceremoniously kicked out from his post of Speaker during what was probably the country’s most farcical assembly sitting.

On Sept 2, Sivakumar, still insisting that he was the rightful Perak Speaker, tried to convene another sitting but, upon being prevented from entering the State Secretariat again, decided this time to hold it in the air-conditioned ballroom of a hotel.

On Oct 28, Sivakumar, again insisting he was the Speaker, led the team of PR representatives to attend another sitting, this time convened by his successor, BN’s Datuk R. Ganesan, but was allegedly attacked by policemen at the basement parking lot of the State Secretariat.

In the process, the official Speaker’s garb he had donned was ripped and Sivakumar only managed to salvage a small strip of the embroidery.

“I went through a lot, more than any Speaker in the country has ever been through. But it has not weakened my resolve one bit,” he said.

Sivakumar said he was still positive the support of the people remained with the PR and that the events of the power grab still angered the Perak electorate.

“After the past one year, the people are still with us. When I go out in public, this is what I see. People come to me and tell me they sympathise with the PR,” he said.

Sivakumar added that he was more than game to keep up with the fight, no matter what it entailed and despite the fact that none of PR’s strategies had earned them success.

“I am ready to go on. This time, however, I am more prepared. The Perak crisis is a dark time for the people but to me, it has helped to mould me into a better leader and a better representative of the people.

“If I sit back on the Speaker’s chair again, I will know so much better how to handle the assembly,” he said.

Sivakumar also expressed optimism that the results of the Feb 9 court case in the Federal Court would favour the PR and not Zambry.

“I think everyone knows that the best way to solve this crisis in Perak is by going back to the electorate. If PR wins, we will dissolve the assembly and opt for snap polls. It is the best way,” he said.

In the meantime, however, Sivakumar has gone back to playing his role as a state assemblyman and no longer has any reason to hide.

“These days, I go back to my constituency every day to meet the people. Earlier, when I finally decided it was safe to return to my constituency, I used to hear people telling me ‘why have you been away’ or ‘it has been so long since I saw you’. I no longer wish to hear such questions,” he said.

Nizar sees second Perak power grab

Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin has accused Barisan Nasional of planning yet another “coup d’├ętat” if the Federal Court rules in his favour next week and reinstalls him as Perak mentri besar.

“When the Feb 9 (court) decision comes out, Umno will launch yet another coup de tat of the worst kind to wrest power away from us.

“They will do anything in their power to make sure that the Pakatan (Rakyat) would not hold [the] government,” he said in a speech during a breakfast session with the public at Chemor, here this morning.

Later at Sungai Siput, Nizar explained that he was “pre-empting” Umno’s next move in predicting what would happen once the Federal Court delivers its decision in the MB vs MB case next Tuesday.

“If the decision sides with me, they will get (deputy Speaker) Hee Yit Foong to convene a special assembly sitting so that they can move a vote of no-confidence against me as the mentri besar,” said Nizar.

A vote of no-confidence against Nizar would see the fiery leader losing his post as mentri besar once again for PR only holds 28 seats in the 59-seat assembly.

While BN also shares the same number of assemblymen, they would also get supporting votes from the infamous three “frogs” who have become “BN-friendly independents.”

Although Hee, by chairing the assembly, will be unable to cast her vote, BN would still have a two-seat edge over PR.

Nizar said he would not put it past BN to perform yet another power grab.

“They will use their people to stop the lawful Speaker of Perak, V. Sivakumar from entering into the hall,” he predicted.

Should Nizar win in his appeal in the MB vs MB case, The Malaysian Insider understands that Sivakumar would automatically be re-instated as the lawful Speaker of Perak.

This is because all the events, including the swearing-in of Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir as the new mentri besar and the appointment of BN’s Speaker, Datuk R. Ganesan, that took place after Nizar’s ousting would be considered as null and void.

In a mammoth ceramah last night at the Ku Tien hall in Ayer Tawar, Seri Manjung, Nizar told a crowd of over 3,000 people of his suspicions, in a clear bid to warn the BN government against any hanky-panky.

He retold the story of the “violence” that BN had used against the 28 PR assemblymen during the tumultuous May 7 sitting as well as the recent Oct 28 sitting last year.

“They are capable of doing anything. That is why I am saying, on Feb 10 or Feb 11, after the court decision, BN will once again grab power from us,” he said.

He alleged that there was irregularity in Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi’s call for a meeting with all veteran army personnel at the State Secretariat today.

“What is the meaning of this? It is because they know that the support of the people is with us. So they will stop at nothing — they will use their police power, the commandos and their people to stop us.

“But I hope that, despite this, the judgment on Feb 9 will be a fair one where the people of Perak will get their rights returned,” he said.

Zahid met with former army personnel from Perak at the State Secretariat this morning and handed out awards to 22 personnel for their contributions.

During the ceramah, several other PR heavyweights were also present to engage the crowd, including DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and PKR supremo, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar, however, left early after a short speech, to attend to another function.

In spite of this, the size of the crowd that gathered for the ceramah was a good boost to the spirits of the Perak PR representatives.

For the past week, the PR team has been campaigning furiously across the state in preparation for the coming Feb 9 decision and to cement their support from the people in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of the power grab.

During today’s expedition, Nizar, who is leading the northbound bus to Parit Buntar, received warm response from the public.

“It has been very promising so far. The people are responding well to us,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

He will make at least 10 stops, in the towns of Jelapang, Chemor, Sungai Siput, Kuala Kangsar, Lenggong, Padang Rengas, Changkat Jering, Taiping, Bagan Serai and ending with a ceramah at Parit Buntar.

The southbound expedition will pass through the towns of Batu Gajah, Gopeng, Kampar, Tapah, Bidor, Slim River, Tanjung Malim and ends in Teluk Intan.

Both expeditions, which kicked off from the “Democracy Tree” here this morning, are being followed by state PR representatives and party members.

To lend a softer touch to the campaign, Nizar also brought along his wife, Datin Seri Fatimah Taat, and his two young daughters aboard the bus

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Illegal logging detected in Hulu Selangor

SHAH ALAM: A 120-hectare forested area in Hulu Selangor has been encoached and 1,500 pieces of logs illegally logged at it has been seized by the Selangor Forestry Department, said Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong.

The state executive council was told of this during its weekly meeting here Wednesday, she told a press conference afterwards.

Wong said the people behind the illegal logging had been identified and the department had been instructed to lodge reports with the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for action to be taken.

Asked how long the illegal logging had been taking place, she said the matter was being investigated by the department. -- Bernama