ELECTION 2008: Aljazeera interview with Datuk Seri Najib Razak

In the Aljazeera Channel East 101 interview with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the Q&A touched on various election issues - press and campaigning freedom, sedition, balloting transparency, Hindraf and the Government's liberal stance. The Aljazeera media team had travelled nationwide to gauge the election campaign.
Transcribed by Nisha Sabanayagam

Q. On the conduct of the electoral process. The group BERSIH has provided with us some details on what they way are anomalies in the process. Do you think the registration and the voting practices are completely clean?A. Yes, its very transparent. It is very fair. We have lost the elections before. In fact, the entire state of Kelantan is controlled by PAS. And the present state government has survived for a number of years on the basis of having one seat more than Barisan Nasional. And that one seat which they won, they won by a majority of two. If BERSIH claims that the process is not fair and is not transparent and that we have the means of exploiting the elections results, don’t tell me we cannot find three more votes to change the situation.

Q. I have a list here of at least 100 people over the age of 100 registered as voters.
A. It is possible that the names of people who have died in the past, their names are still on the list. But they will not appear as voters. The opposition parties also have polling agents. They can verify those names.

Q. There have been instances where dead people have turned up to vote.
A. Let us find out and let them bring it up to the Elections Commission.

Q. The DAP recently called this the most important election in Malaysia’s history because they perceive a very strong move towards greater Islamisation of what is the historically a secular state and they worry about issues which marginalise those who are not Muslims. Do they have a reason to be concerned? A. No. We have not changed the fundamental policies. But the irony is that they have some sort of political understanding with PAS, which has a much more Islamic agenda, which is they want to turn Malaysia into a theocratic Islamic state. That is an agenda we do not have. They are political partners.

Q. Does that suggest they are desperate?
A. Yes, absolutely. It is just a political ploy on the part of DAP. How can you present an electorate when you cannot even agree on a common policy let alone a common symbol? They don’t even have a common symbol. So they are not really an alternative to the present Barison Nasional.

Q. On the issue of freedom of speech. There have been a number of attempted rallies in Kuala Lumpur in the past few months which have been denied permission to take place and there have been a bit unpleasantness. Why is it that the government is so cautious about public rallies? A. Because most of the demonstrations that have been organised are street demonstrations. When there are street demonstrations, there is very little control about what’s likely to happen. As you know some of the demonstrations that have been organized have resulted in some physical clashes and there is the risk (not withstanding the risk of businesses being affected) that could spark off retaliatory demonstrations by others who are opposed to some of the issues carried by these groups.

Q. On the HINDRAF rally recently. What you say demonstration they would call it a rally, with the point of trying to present a petition to the Prime Minister at Parliament. They were a rather modest crowd of 700 people and yet the force of police that turned out against them was much higher and rather immediate. Where was the threat?
A. The threat can come first of all (from) the people who are involved in this who may resort to throwing stones. That actually happened in the Batu Caves area, organised by HINDRAF. Secondly there is also the danger that other groups for example the Malays in Kampung Baru, who can get quite agitated and they may organize their demonstrations and this could lead to something very serious in terms of a multiracial society.

Q. What about the different approach to facilitate the demonstration and allow it to disperse as soon as possible?
A. We leave it to the police to manage this. It is very much a police matter. We don’t actually give explicit instructions to the police. They will decide what is the best way to control the situation.

Q. The police obviously have control of the actual event on site. The government has control over issuance of permits and acceptance for those demonstrations. A. Well, actually I have to correct you. The issuance of permits is actually decided by the police. For your in formation, in the state of Terengganu for example, in the last year, there were about 200 public rallies organized by the opposition and another 200, without permits. So there are many instances in which the police have allowed rallies to be continued despite the fact the organizers have not obtained the necessary permits from the police.

Q. The former deputy prime minister Datuk Anwar Ibrahim has complained that genuine political gathering for the purpose of disseminating information are denied permits?
A. I give the example of the state of Terengganu. There were more rallies organized by the opposition and rallies that do not get police permits were actually allowed by the police and not disrupted. So in fact, there is a deal of latitude given in our society. In fact, the opposition parties have started their political rallies or campaigns ever since the last elections happened. Over a period of four years, they have been going down to the ground.

Q. Let me ask you your view of the local media. Many complaints have been made, not just against the media, but within the media itself, that they are not allowed to report on and often do not report on issues of certain significance. Do you think there is free speech in the media? A. I think it is quite open. For example, the alternative media is very open in this country.

Q. And often quite oppressed, it is not? A. No, it is not. You go through the internet, there are websites and blogs and a lot of the material there is actually very, very critical of the government. And this has been allowed. There are also papers owned by the opposition parties, for example PAS, Keadilan and DAP all have their own newspapers.

Q. So, it the government’s position they are free to write what they want?
A. Of course. Except if you break the laws of the country. If what you write can be construed as seditious, then its different. There is a lot of latitude given. I tell you, the kind of things that is written on the internet, it is mind-boggling.

Q. Some of the HINDRAF leaders have been arrested with charges of sedition. Is there any intent to bring charges against these people? Do they deserve to be held? A. The general reaction of the people have been quite positive in terms of using of the ISA because this has led to quite a de-escalation in terms of all the activities going on this country such as the street demonstrations. With some of the street demonstrations in the country, people feel that the government has been too liberal perhaps and people want the stability in this country to be upheld.

Q. A lot people say that the government has not been liberal enough?A. On the contrary, we have been very liberal in this country. - NST

Posted by kasee
Friday, 29 February 2008
Malaysia Today

Anwar vows to dismantle racial politics

Opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim has vowed to end race-based discrimination policies in Malaysia, making it one of the major planks of his party's manifesto ahead of March 8 polls.

Anwar, who was deputy prime minister until being sacked and jailed in 1998, said long-running policies favouring majority Malays had only benefited cronies of the ruling Umno.

"The New Economic Policy has been abused to enrich the family of Umno leaders and their cronies," said Anwar who is campaigning for the PKR formally led by his wife.

"If you really want to deal with the issue of poverty, why can't we just say we have an affirmative action policy helping the poor and the marginalised. It should not be racially based."

Malaysia has pursued an affirmative action program for Malays and indigenous groups known as bumiputeras since the 1970s to close a wealth gap with the minority Chinese community.

However, it has been criticised for failing to pull a large number of Muslim Malays out of poverty, and of ignoring the minority ethnic Indian community, which is also disadvantaged.

Battling rising inflation

The manifesto entitled 'A New Dawn for Malaysia', centred on battling rising inflation, which has triggered public anger and rare public protests as the prices of food and fuel edge higher.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has said the government cannot afford to continue spending RM43.4 billion annually to subsidise essential items.
Anwar said Abdullah was "in denial" over the state of the economy.

"PKR promises to lower the price of petrol ... as well as manage the prices of basic goods to ensure a consistent supply. Tolls and tariffs will also no longer be raised," he said.

PKR has forged a loose alliance with two other opposition parties who have agreed to stand just one candidate against the government in each constituency, avoiding damaging three-cornered contests.

The opposition hopes that gripes over inflation, rising crime rates and mounting ethnic tensions will enable it to reduce the government's thumping majority below two-thirds for the first time in history.


Exercise restraint, Hindraf leader tells supporters

Supporters of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) have been urged to exercise restraint and caution during the 12th general election.

In a statement from London, Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy said the movement’s supporters should not engage in personal attacks of any particular leader from the Barisan Nasional (BN).

"Let us not give them an opportunity to point and blame Hindraf supporters as provokers. I was saddened to hear that a party leader was insulted by a ‘sandal throwing incident’.

"Hindraf does not encourage nor preach this sort of actions," he said.

Although Waythamoorhy did not name the leader, rumours have it that a shoe was thrown at MIC president S Samy Vellu during a function in Penang recently.

However, Samy Vellu has since denied this. The MIC president explained that an argument erupted between him and the local Indian community when he visited Perai two weeks ago.

Argument over arrest

According to rumours, an Indian woman had thrown the shoe at him when he was speaking to the crowd.

It was said that the shoe did little to unnerve the seasoned politician, who purportedly replied to the crowd that he was not afraid of an atomic bomb, let alone a shoe. This was said to have resulted in a second shoe being thrown at him.

The media had reported that some 60 people blocked Samy Vellu’s car while he was leaving the function and criticised him for not helping the Indian community.

It was also reported that the MIC president was stuck in the car for about 30 minutes before being whisked away to safety by policemen.

The 72-year-old politician said there was an argument over the mass arrests in connection with the ‘roses’ demonstration organised by Hindraf this month.

"They wanted me to tell the prime minister to release all of them, I said I can’t do that because I don’t have the power, so that’s the argument."

On Nov 25 last year, Hindraf shot to prominence when it organised a mass protest which saw some 30,000 Indians taking to the streets.

Following this, five of its leaders had been arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) while Waythamoorty is in self-imposed exile in London.


National schools turning into Islamic schools

I, too, send my children to a sekolah kebangsaan but I have to say that I am not really happy about my choice. In fact, I had no choice because my wife and I are from the sekolah kebangsaan background and at where we stay, we have problems educating our children in Chinese as we could not guide them since we do not know Mandarin. Tuition is hard to come by too.

Decades ago, the sekolah kebangsaan I attended did not have the reading of the doa before school starts and before school ends. These days, when they have the doa, the school prefects even ask my children to lift up their hands like the Muslims do.

My children told me about it and I went to school to watch and waited till the doa was over. When they see that I am around, they do not dare to do direct my children. Even now, off and on, I will drop in at the school to check on my children. I will also regularly ask them if any of the teachers are trying to talk to them about religion.

When my first child was in Standard One, a few of the teachers even asked my child to study Bahasa Arab without my permission. I had to go to the school and tell the teachers that I didn’t want my children stuyding the Arab language. They tried to bluff me by saying that it was harmless, but I am not stupid.

I know from my schooldays that Bahasa Arab is related to the study of Islam and so unknown to me, they would be able to brainwash my children. As it is , some of the teachers and students are now telling my children how good Islam is and that all other religions are false. This shouldn't be the case in schools.

One of my sons, who is now in Form Two, was given an article by one of his teachers to read. It is about a Chinese man who converted to Islam. My son did not want to read it and the teacher is now turning a cold shoulder towards him.

I specifically told my son that should any teacher want him to read such articles, they should get my permission first.

This making of the sekolah kebangsaan into Islamic schools is one of the main factors why many non-Malays do not want to send their children there - even if it is the best school in the area.

Joe Chia

Samy nothing more than a glorified lackey

‘They wanted me to tell the prime minister to release all of them, I said I can't do that because I don't have the power, so that's the argument," the above report quoted MIC President S Samy Vellu as saying in Butterworth in reference to the ISA-detained Hindraf leaders.

So Mr Minister if you do not have the power, why should we vote you in or the MIC for that matter? You did not even tell them you'd try, because you know you can't in the BN. Do you want us to vote you in so that Umno can have you for a window dressing?

We do not want Indians parading in Parliament when indeed they are only lackeys of the ruling elite. Let me tell you this in no uncertain terms - you are nothing more than a glorified lackey to do their bidding and this by your own admission.

You have innocent Indians whose only fault was to ask for their fair share being thrown into jail and all you can say as the minister representing the community is that you ‘do not have the power’? Is that why you are there sitting on ‘equal terms’ with the other members of the BN?.

You tell us then what was wrong in the Hindraf approach. Why weren't the Malays from the other parties thrown in under the ISA for their rallies? Why weren't Umno members who displayed daggers and talk about the mastery of their race not thrown in under the ISA? Why is it the prime minister can call for a rally after rally at any time he pleases and no one is caught for disturbing the peace?

Now, as the Indian minister, tell us why were the Indians singled out. Have they no constitutional rights like everyone else? Your utterance that you have no power is the clearest indication that the Indians are treated as third-class citizens and your condemnation of Hindraf shows us how useful you are to the community - ‘useful’ for want of a better term.

Now tell us very honestly why should any Indian in Malaysia vote for you or the MIC for that matter? So that they can be ridiculed? So that the bodies of their husbands and children can be snatched for a Muslim burial? So that they can be forced to go to the Syariah Court to seek a remedy when they are not subject to that court in the first place?

The MIC has served its purpose in acting in concert with Umno to enslave the Indian community. Your party leaders are just as bad as they are there for personal gain only. You are now irrelevant. Please hang up your gloves before you get booted out.

Because of you, the Indians will now vote for the opposition. We have given you more time then you deserve. In other countries, you would have been dismissed long before this.


Election promises won't materialise

I would like to address Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak’s speech at the recent MIC special assembly.

Firstly, he said Indians are doing very well in all professional jobs. Yes, indeed, but that’s it is their own hard-earned money. How many medical seats are allocated for Indians in local universities? The worst part was the de-recognition of Ukraine’s Crimea State Medical University (CSMU), where many Indians study. Is the BN taking credit which never belonged to them?

Besides, can someone tell us how many Indian lawyers were recommended for the positions of magistrates or session and high court judges? Secondly, why say sorry for the temple demolition just days before Deepavali? Furthermore, why say sorry after two sweet months? Let me guess, because elections are around the corner?

Thirdly, the government agreed that there are legitimate grouses among Indians so MIC came up with seven issues for immediate action. These seven points were exactly what the Hindraf leaders raised first. Why do they have to be sent to prison for reminding the authorities about their ignorance?

Fourthly, free election goodies are now being thrown to the Indians. The DPM promised better opportunities (such as government jobs, loans for businesses and so forth) to put smiles on frustrated faces. Aren't these basic deliverables for a community? Do we need an assembly to announce these? Especially when elections are around the corner?

Moreover, the people feel these could be arbitrary promises. Will they document these deliverables in an election manifesto with concrete numbers? We can't fly a kite during a snowfall, can we? Current happenings seem to be desperate, sudden manoeuvers. The fear with election promises is that they will not materialise.

As judgment day rounds the corner, let's leave it to the people to judge the candidates.


GE 2008: Time to punish Umno

Now that the elections are around the corner, the major dailies have fed us with news that the government has allocated huge sums of money to Chinese schools, and also to help the poor Indians. However, non-Malay voters, especially those living in Umno constituencies, should take this opportunity to teach Umno leaders a lesson.

One might not be able to forget how the Malays deserted Umno in droves in the 1999 elections and if not for the non-Malay votes, Umno would have lost several states namely Perlis, Kedah, Pahang and Selangor. One could also remember how these Umno politicians went to the various Chinese and Indian areas begging for votes, knowing that they had lost the support from the Malay community.

As a result, Umno still won many state and parliamentary seats, but with far-reduced majorities. Having won and being ‘safe’ for the next five years, these leaders became arrogant and are back to their antics.

Suqiu then, and now, Hindraf, are being labelled as extremists by the extremists in Umno. Accusing others of being extreme is a simple yet effective way to protect these leaders from revealing their true colours. Hence, a group of Umno Youth supporters went to the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, and threatened to burn down the hall as retaliation to the requests made by the ‘extremists’ Suqiu. More recently, Umno leaders have warned that they have stopped the Malays in Kampung Baru from coming out to retaliate over the Hindraf issue.

After 50 years of Independence, what have we learned about national unity? After years of being ruled by Umno, one would have expected the ruling party to inculcate a sense of respect among the races and incidents like ‘threatening to burn down the hall’ and ‘stopping the Malays from coming out’ should not even have happened. As a non-Indian, I do not see any reason for a non-Indian to retaliate against Hindraf, which is only demonstrating peacefully and making a point known to the government. If it is ‘so easy’ for the Malays to come out from Kampung Baru and probably riot (that seems to be the assumption that Umno is giving to the non-Malays), then Umno as the ruling party should be held responsible, for after so many years in power, it has failed to take good care of its main constituents in this civilised era.

If Umno claims itself to be a moderate party which fully upholds the religion of Islam, one would have expected Umno to sympathise with the minorities and their grouses. Instead of trying to be fair, trying to correct the imbalance and learn from the Hindraf issue, Umno leaders are seen as being able to instigate the feelings of the Malays against the non-Malays, and use this opportunity to boost up support from its Malay constituents for their own benefit.

Take for instance the body-snatching incidents. Generally, most Malays and non-Malays would not have bothered if the religious authorities showed some respect to the dead person’s family. However, the incident happened as a result of overzealousness of the few religious officers and this has practically angered the rest of the non-Muslim population. Because of these few, millions of us are unhappy and frustrated. Of course, overzealous religious officers think that they might be going to hell if they do not proceed with the body snatching. Understandably, some Malays would sympathise with these religious officials, knowing that this was done in the name of religion.

These people, of course, never thought that the deceased person’s family also has a religion and will be going to hell instead, if they allow the dead body to be snatched. Never mind that the deceased has a mother or a wife who has lived with the deceased for years. They simply have no respect and regards for other religions and for the sensitivities of the non-Muslims. There is a need to reach a consensus since other religions might also have a ‘one and only one religion’ rule and hence respect and mutual understanding are the key points in solving such difficult and mind- boggling issues.

Some might argue that the above case should not be solely blamed on Umno, since it was the result of overzealousness of the religious officials. However, this argument does not hold water since Umno is the main reason for creeping Islamisation in Malaysia. Taxpayers money is involved. Is my contribution to taxes being used as allocation for religious classes and who funds the salaries of religious teachers and who pays the electricity bills for such classes?

When I was in school, I wonder why the baca doa is read at every assembly when two-thirds of the students are non-Muslims. When applying for a place in local university, I wonder why is there a need to state my race and religion. Why is it inappropriate to eat pork in front of Muslims but perfectly acceptable to eat beef in front of Hindus? When buying a house, I wonder why I do not get a discount for my only house whereas my much richer bumiputera friend gets a hefty 7% discount for all the semi-Ds and bungalows that he has purchased.

When Umno talks about fairness, it would be as simple as producing statistics, showing how the Chinese controls the private sector, and hence it would be fair for the Malays to control the public sector. How the Chinese forms the majority in private colleges, and hence it would be fair to allocate most of the place in public universities to the Malays. When Hindu temples are torn down, they come out with statistics, proving that there are more Hindu temples than mosques. Chinese and Indians complain of unfairness. So do the Malays. Since everyone complains of unfairness, it is then all ‘fair’ according to Umno’s simple but shrewd logic.

If Umno were to exist in other countries, it would have long been kicked out from their Parliament. Yes, the time has come. We must reduce Umno’s power once and for all. The more it wins, the more threatening it becomes. We do not want to be bullied for the rest of our lives in Malaysia. Say a big ‘NO ‘to big bullies.

Benjamin Tan

Don't license BN to rob

I am writing from Germany, as a Malaysian looking on from outside at what has happened over the past four years or so.

When we fell into the trap of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi about four years ago, we were actually thinking that he could outperform former prime minister Dr Mohamad Mahathir. So do not blame yourselves. After all, all of us make mistakes. But we must not make the mistakes twice. To do so is utter foolishness and the giving away of your God-bestowed justice.

The question is: In the past four years, have the people of Malaysia - be they Malays, Chinese or Indians or others - benefitted? My answer is: Yes, but only the minority who were aligned with the wicked and corrupt people who are linked to the BN.

The mega projects and the toll hikes and the increase in petrol prices are all filling up the pockets of the dirty politicians in the BN. My friends, this is our money that could have been used for development projects, petrol subsidies and helping the poor.

Recently, I came back to my hometown to celebrate the Chinese New Year with my family and all I heard were grouses about the devaluation of our ringgit against major global currencies and neighbouring countries. This clearly shows the inability of the BN government to maintain the wealth of the people.

The Umno government is the most greedy. They have daringly robbed the wealth of the non- Malays in the name of income redistribution. Let me ask you, how many banks in Malaysia are still owned by non- Malays? What key positions are still being held by the Chinese or Indians? Are any chief ministers or high-ranking civil servants Chinese? Recently, a high-ranking Chinese police officer retired - who succeeded him?

Are there no better or more qualified non-bumiputeras in Malaysia? Ask the MCA why do they run behind Umno with their tails between their legs and their tongues sticking out, salivating like idiots. What did Ong Ka Ting do for the Chinese?

Even the approved permits (APs) for the importing of turkeys last Christmas were given to bumiputera companies. Since when was Umno so concerned about Christmas? Open your eyes and see who the import permits for the importing of mandarin oranges for the Chinese New Year were given to. Are there no credible Chinese businessmen in Malaysia? Has Ong Ka Ting or Lim Keng Yaik uttered a single word of protest? I dare not dream of it.

A MAS pilot who was recently fined in Australia for possessing pornography is said to be the son of a high-ranking government servant. No action has been taken against him because of that relationship. Why another set of laws for the cronies?

These are just a few examples.

My dear friends, to vote for BN is to give them the license to continue to rob ordinary people like yourselves. To do so is to participate in their evil deeds without any benefits for yourselves.

Let us now use this opportunity to throw out the corrupt government, and the slave-partner mentality of the MCA and MIC, by giving your sacred votes to the opposition - a voice of dissatisfaction with the BN for the last 50 Years. In unity there is strength - that is really ‘Malaysia Boleh’.

A Frustrated Malaysian

PAS' odd woman out in Johor

VOTE FOR CHANGE: Ms Kumutha distributing party pamphlets in Ulu Tiram. The law graduate is the first non-Muslim to run for PAS. -- ST PHOTO: SHAHRIYA YAHAYA

IN TIRAM (JOHOR) - MS KUMUTHA Rahman's quest for a seat in the Johor state assembly is an odd one.

The conservative Islamic Parti Seislam Malaysia (PAS) has fielded the 29-year-old law graduate - an Indian and practising Hindu - as its first non-Muslim candidate.

But she is contesting under the Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) flag.

Posted by Raja Petra
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Malaysia Today

Mr Hafiz Hamidun, PAS secretary of religious affairs for Tebrau district, which the Tiram constituency falls under, says that non-Muslims are not allowed to be party members or candidates under the PAS constitution.

But non-Muslims can join the PAS Supporters Club as members, and, if they run for a seat, must use the PKR symbol as agreed in an electoral pact between the two parties.

'No non-Muslim member can be a PAS candidate that's why I'm using the PKR's ticket to contest,' she said matter-of-factly.

Pointing to the word 'Keadilan', which means equality in Malay, she added: 'See this? I chose PKR over other opposition parties as it promises equality to all races and faiths.'

But asked after an hour-long interview when the notebook was closed and the pen capped if her nomination was aimed at attracting support from non-Muslim voters in Tiram, particularly the 14 per cent who are Indian, she said with a twinkle in her eye that 'it's a strategy'.

Ms Kumutha is putting her acquisitions officer job at Citibank on hold for a month to vie for the seat held by the Barisan Nasional's (BN) Datuk Maulizan Bujang.

A staunch Hindu who wears the salwar-kameez - a traditional Indian get-up - Ms Kumutha said she took part in the Johor non-Muslim PAS Supporters Club activities last month as she felt that the group was tolerant towards other religions.

She said that her younger brother, 26-year-old Logeswaran, president of Lajnah Perpaduan Nasional that boasts 2,500 Hindu Indian youth members in Johor, had organised many activities with PAS.

'I liked that PAS is for all (races and faiths) and that influenced me to get more involved in its activities,' she said. 'PAS stood out more than DAP or PKR but I don't want to elaborate. In this election, I want to elect the alternative party so we can make changes.'

She said: 'Nobody in the party ever tried to force me to convert from Hinduism to Islam. And I am very religious.'

Without prompting, she rattled off the names of Hindu temples that she visits regularly in Johor, and proudly declared that she is a vegetarian on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

She has never touched a drop of alcohol in her life, even while pursuing her degree from the University of Northumbria in Newcastle in the UK.

Speaking to The Straits Times at Ulu Tiram during a break from a walkabout, she said: 'People in the UK are liberal, they go to parties. But I don't. The Hindu religion made me aware of my limits. I know how I should act as a Hindu and behave as a lady.'

She is also traditional and filial.

'At the airport, before I flew off to study, I bent down to kiss my parents' feet to ask for blessings,' she said. 'Everyone was looking but to me, that's tradition.'

The spelling of her father's name, Rahman, had in the past prompted some to ask if she was Indian-Malay - Malays usually spell Rahman with a 'h' and Indians without - but she explained that this was due to a clerical error.

When her father was born, his parents, who were illiterate, wanted his name spelt as 'Raman' but the Malay clerk spelt it as Rahman.

Ms Kumutha's strong belief that she could bring about some changes in society spurred her to stand for election.

'I come from a poor family,' she said. Her father, Rahman Veerasamy, 52, is a taxi driver, and her mother Ponnammal Krishnan, 47, is a cleaner at Singapore's Suntec City. Brother Logeswaran runs a nursery in Johor.

Her dream was to earn enough so her parents could quit their jobs and 'goyang kaki' (to idle in Malay).

But she hoped to raise awareness about the importance of education to the poor and needy, especially the Indians, whom she said have adopted a nonchalant attitude towards education.

On Johor affairs, she said she was troubled by the high cost of living and rampant crime - which had deterred Singaporeans from coming.

'If I am elected, I will do a field research on the reasons why people here turn to crime and find appropriate solutions to tackle each of them,' she said.

She also promised better welfare for migrant workers including providing proper housing for squatters.

Ms Kumutha said she was confident she would 'get full support of the Chinese and Indians'.

She hoped to get 'maybe 25 per cent of Malay vote', adding: 'But what's for sure, even if I lose, is this will not be my last time contesting.'

A Tiram resident, Mr Mohd Yusof Harun, 64, a driver, said he will give Ms Kumutha a chance to prove herself.

He said: 'She may be young but she is educated and humble. I also don't want her to lose her deposit should she not get enough votes. So yes, I will put a 'pangkah' (cross) on her name.'

But others such as businessman John Lim, 58, are not so sure about her. 'She has no track record. She may be able to bring in fresh ideas but I'm not sure if she has the resources or well-thought-out plans to carry them out,' he said. - THE STRAITS TIMES

Crowd forces Samy Vellu to cancel event

BUTTERWORTH - MORE than 1,000 opposition supporters turned unruly at a Tuesday dinner in Kedah that Malaysian Indian Congress president S. Samy Vellu was supposed to attend, forcing him to cancel the function.

It took riot police guarding a Chinese temple in Jerlun to disperse the Parti Keadilan Rakyat crowd, which had gathered to heckle Datuk Seri Samy Vellu. He was slated to attend the dinner organised by Barisan Nasional supporters, but was told by police to cancel it.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi described the commotion as an act of desperation by opposition party supporters disappointed by the lack of support they received. He said: 'They are desperate and so cause a commotion; that's the opposition for you.'

The minister has been the target of public displays of anger by the Indian community in recent months.

On Tuesday, he was campaigning for MIC candidate P. Subbaiyah in Bagan Dalam, Penang, when about 10 Indians approached him. It was believed they wanted his help for friends arrested for an illegal gathering in Kuala Lumpur, China Press reported yesterday.

More than 50 policemen surrounded Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, who ducked into a car and left.

To counter allegations that the party had not done enough to help the Indian community, the MIC has started a series of advertisements in four major newspapers, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu told The Star in an interview.

Posted by Raja Petra
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Malaysia Today


It is common knowledge that Datuk Seri S. SamyVellu is responsible for breeding the 'gangsters'. It is also noted that he and his representatives use the services to create chaos during meetings, temple demolitions and others.
It has been noted that SamyVellu claims that others are using 'samseng' or 'gangsters' to create trouble.
Look who is calling the kettle black.
Time for the rakyat to show the gangster leaders in MIC that enough is enough, that the rakyat can never take anymore lies and their gangsterism tactics.
The rakyat can evaluate this from scenes on youtube and articles or personally witnessing incidence when problems are created.
Time for Samy Vellu to face up to reality and accept responsibility for the creation and maintenance of these 'gangster' groups.
Please stop telling lies and own up to it, SamyVellu, that is why there is a huge number of Indian gangsters who are tarnishing the good name and reputation of the Indian community at large.

Posted by Mohd Kamal Abdullah


For all that the MIC considers Kapar to be its fortress, the parliamentary seat will be one to watch this time around.

Incumbent P Komala Devi won the seat comfortably with a 14,588 majority in the 2004 elections, but an upset may be on the cards - all because of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

Her opponent this time will be PKR’s S Manickavasigam (photo), known to close associates as Mike, who hopes to cash in on the Hindraf factor and latent discontent in the Indian community.

Kapar has 112,224 registered voters - the largest constituency in the country - with Malays forming the majority at 51.4 percent and Chinese at 35.4 percent.

Indians make up 13 percent, working mainly in oil palm plantations and the factory sector. With an average household income of about RM900, they feel the sting of recent increases in the price of fuel and consumer goods.

But resentment rooted in racial discrimination has become the single-biggest catalyst in recent months, manifested in strong support for Hindraf and its leaders. Manickavasagam counts himself among supporters.

“I have the support of almost 98 percent of the Indian community here. This time, Komala will lose because the voters know that MIC and its members have done nothing but cheat the people,” he claimed when met at a pasar malam in Taman Intan.
“Komala was chased out when she came here (Taman Intan) what more evidence that you need to show that MIC has lost its relevance here?”

During his walkabout, his supporters - all Indians - waved PAS flags and shouted out ‘vote for PKR and PAS’.

Dislodging Komala will be no walk in the park, although a local resident offers the view that Malays are “50-50" in their support and that Chinese voters are known to be pro-opposition.

‘Disregard rumour’

Komala discounted speculation that she will be booted out, expressing confidence that she will be able to retain the seat.

“We have the strongest support, not only from the Indian community, but from the Chinese and Malays as well,” she said after meeting with some 50 supporters near Taman Intan.

Asked to comment on the apparently strong anti-BN sentiments among the Indians there, she denied that such feelings exist.

“There are no anti-BN sentiments but confusion. MIC has always been the favourite party in Kapar and will remain so,” she claimed.

MIC has addressed the main issues - crime, employment and vernacular education - about which all voters are concerned, she added

Some obviously think otherwise. One resident said he is upset with Komala, claiming she has not visited Kapar even once following the 2004 elections to listen to the grouses of the residents.

“We have called her and sent text-messages and she has not replied even once,” he alleged.

Another resident echoed the comment, and added that it is high time the MIC is taught a lesson.



Abolish ISA Movement which consists of more than 83 organisations made up of non-governmental bodies, political parties, trade union, human rights bodies, women and student bodies, hereby wishes to demand from the political parties and candidates contesting in the 12th General Elections on the following items:

To respect the Federal Constitution, especially Article 10, as primary reference on rights and freedom of the people
To respect one’s rights to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, rights to trial and rights to be defended. Violation of these rights is a transgression of international human rights norms and the belief of any religion.
To provide security to all levels of society from threats of cruelty, mala fide, abuses, torture and criminal acts. Peace and security of the nation should be defended but not at the expense of basic human rights and justice.
To support and uphold efforts to abolish detention without trial laws especially Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960.
To place high priority on campaigns to abolish ISA as use of ISA is politically motivated. Its arbitrary nature and wide array of powers is dangerous to the livelihood of the people. Since trials do not exist under the ISA, the Government has the power to cover-up any case without the necessity to conduct investigation and produce evidence in courts. With no transparency and accountability, ISA is one of the main reasons for the rise in corruption, police brutality and abuse of power.
To support demand for the immediate release of all ISA detainees. The prolonged detention without trial and proof is a serious act of cruelty and tyranny to the detainees and family.
To support SUHAKAM’s recommendation for the repeal of ISA dan raise efforts to escalate the recommendation and SUHAKAM’s annual report to Parliament. Many international human rights bodies have demanded the Government to respect SUHAKAM’s recommendation.
To avenge the well-being and welfare of the wives and families of ISA detainees including from the harrassment and mental torture of the Police Special Branch, Detention Camp and Ministry of Internal Security.
To bring to justice perpetrators who have victimised and tyrannize ISA detainees and their family members. Many reports and complaints have been filed to the Police, SUHAKAM and Ministry on the abuse and torture that have happened. Even civil suits have been filed.
To take into consideration recommendations made by the Independent Commission to improve the operations and management of the Police to establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commissions (IPCMC) especially to limit the police power and duration of detention under Section 73 of ISA.
To close down Kamunting Detention Camp in line with the Prime Minister’s suggestion to close down Guantanamo Camp on the basis of the existence of torture and violation of rights to fair trial.
To respect judiciary system as an element of checks and balance on the powers of the police and Ministers and return freedom of the judiciary.
To deny the practise of amassing and abuse of powers which have compromised the integrity and credibility of important Government institutions, consequences of which prosperity and security of the people have been in jeopardy.
To practise separation of powers in totality to ensure healthy and efficient democracy. Executive powers must be denied of the powers to influence legislative and judiciary body arbitrarily.
To provide more space for civil society bodies to play the role of garnering the people towards the struggle to uphold justice and truth.

Abolish ISA!
Release All Detainees!
Close down Kamunting Detention Camp!

Posted by JD
Makkal Sakti

Bloggers test their popularity in Malaysia election

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The Internet is changing the face of Malaysian politics, becoming a virtual political party of its own as the country gears up for elections next month.

Three high-profile bloggers, all opponents of the ruling coalition which has effectively governed for five decades, are standing for the first time as candidates on March 8, hoping that their popularity on the Net will translate into votes.

"Everyone of us has a stake in the country's future, but talk is cheap. We now need to walk the walk," says Jeff Ooi, a well-known blogger contesting a seat in northern Penang state for the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP).

A 52-year-old former advertising copywriter, he has made his name writing a political blog, "Screenshots" www.jeffooi.com, one of dozens that have found an active readership outside the pro-government mainstream press.

Another popular blogger, also running on a DAP ticket, is 34-year-old Tony Pua, a fresh-faced Oxford graduate who started blogging three years ago after setting up a high-tech firm.

"I've had opportunities to migrate but I decided that Malaysia is my home," Pua said as he dreamt up campaign slogans at a cramped DAP office on the second floor of a shophouse, above a Chinese restaurant, on the outskirts of the capital.

"So the next question is what should I do to make it better?" His blog's address is: tonypua.blogspot.com.


Pua, like Ooi, is running from an urban constituency where Internet penetration is highest and opposition sentiment runs stronger than in the countryside.

A third blogger, Badrul Hisham Shaharin, said he is struggling to spread his message because of the limited Internet access in the rural Malay majority seat where he is standing.

"I admit that is difficult because my blog is not accessible here, but I am getting a lot of help from fellow bloggers," he said by phone from his electorate of Rembau, a sleepy farming district south of Kuala Lumpur.

Badrul, who is running on opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's party ticket, will take on Khairy Jamaluddin, the prime minister's son-in-law and an ambitious politician. Badrul's blog: chegubard.blogspot.com

Considered a thorn in the government's side due to their often critical political and social commentaries, Malaysia's blogging community offer alternative views in a country where the government keeps a tight control on mainstream media.

The government said last year it might compel bloggers to register with the authorities to curb the spread of malicious content on the Internet.

Government backers doubt whether bloggers turned opposition politicians could make their presence felt.

"Beyond the major cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang, there's not much the bloggers can really hope to accomplish," says Mohamad Norza Zakaria, a leader in Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's UMNO party (www.umno-online.com)

The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) dominates the 14-party Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Only a fifth of Malaysians have access to the Internet, official data show. There are 10.9 million voters in a nation of 26 million people.

Blogger Ooi spoke of the difficult challenge ahead. "Compared to the BN, we are behind on the three M's - money, machinery and media access."

Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
Yahoo News

Not all Indians are professionals

Certain groups in the MIC are trying to score grades by claiming to have done social research and development intervention strategies to uplift the welfare of the Indian community. What is upsetting is at times, BN leaders trumpet some findings and data on the success of Indian professionals as if the help for them came from the Government.

Yes, there were some scholarships here and there but not enough to meet the required numbers in order to bring about positive changes for te community. Perhaps MIED and .MIC President S Samy Vellu can be given credit. He did deliver loans to desperate Indians to become professionals but the actual credit should go to the hard-working parents who sacrificed their retirement pland and sold their properties to create the Indian professionals.

These parents are mostly heavily in debt due to their quest to see their children through to a sound professional career. If only the government had been somewhat fair in the distribution of the nation’s wealth and education opportunities, Indian parents would not be in such a bleak situation today.

Doesn’t the community pays taxes and fines? So why did 30,000 Indians rush to the streets if all was okay with the community? These so-called Indian professionals only make up to less than 10 percent of the Indian community’s 1.8 million.

The solution to the Indian woes is seeing results We need to see the results. We need to see the physical numbers in the intake for government jobs, into varsities especially for critical professional courses, in the extension of loans, permits and licenses.

If this change is to materialise, the government has to dilute the civil service with more non-bumiputera staff. A balanced multi-racial mix of staff from head to toe who will follow the directive of the policy-makers who should set honest goals of change to make all Malaysians happy. Care and importance should also be given to Malay-majority states so that help for the poor Malays and aborigines need not be interrupted.

A Malaysian strategy that should please all races should be in place and implemented in the most effective manner so that all Malaysians will feel a sense of belonging to their birth-land and relish in the fair and equitable distribution of wealth in the real sense.

The MIC has unveiled its candidates for the coming polls but I predict that this time around, the MIC is set to face its worst challenge. Perhaps the time has come for all Malaysians brothers and sisters to place as many Indians in Parliament as possible so that debate on issues faced by the community can take place. Parliament should see a well-balanced opposition in order to mould a better Malaysia for all.

The writer is president, Malaysian Indian Business Association.

P Sivakumar

Hisham a failure as education minister

Hisham, why don't you do something different and go speak to the parents of schoolchildren and ask them for their views. Why do you think more and more people are now sending their children to private schools although it cost an arm and a leg? This is because of the rot in our government school system. Why do you think parents are working overtime to be able to send their children for more and more tuition classes? Again, it's because of the terrible education standards we have in government schools.

My son goes to a government school and whenever I go to his school during class hours, there are hardly any teachers in the classes. My son says that the children are very regularly left alone to do their own work. By the way, in case you are interested, he is in the Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Tunku. This school is a disgrace to all Malaysians. Many parents have taken their children out of this school. Unfortunately, not all of us can do that. So, we are stuck with the system that you are so proud of.

You said that you are proud that all the government’s educational development plans have been put into action and were not empty promises. Yes, I'm sure you rushed to spend that RM3 billion allocation. Can you divulge to all now where did all that billions go to and which companies were awarded the contracts and the shareholders and directors of those privileged elite companies?

Come on Hisham, get real. Everyone knows that you are an absolute failure as the minister of education and that the government schools are just a waste of time. If our PM spent more time awake, he, too, may be able to see your disgraceful record.


PKR's "A New Dawn For Malaysia"

PETALING JAYA (Feb 26, 2008): Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today unveiled a 20-page election manifesto titled "A New Dawn For Malaysia", targetting RM100 billion in foreign investments within five years.

In the press conference to releasse the manifesto, Anwar was flanked by his wife and party president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali.

The main highlights of the five thrusts featured in the manifesto are:

Part I - A Constitutional State for All

Upholding Unity, Integrity & Human Rights
> Restore genuine unity, Federal Constitution guarantees rights and privileges of every Malaysian. Provides blueprint for true social harmony based on mutual respect.

> Institute economic policies, offer affirmative action based on need not greed for all Malaysians irrespective of race, as described in the Malaysian Economic Agenda.

> Guarantee the primacy of Bahasa Malaysia, the position of the Malay rulers, full rights for all Malaysian citizens and the role of Islam as the official religion.

> Dismantle all draconian laws that run counter to the spirit and letter of the Constitution, suspend fundamental liberties and inhibit the growth of a functioning democracy. Includes the Internal Security Act and the Emergency Ordinance.

> Institute more checks and balances into the process of judicial appointments. Establish a Judicial Commission and subject the selection of major appointments in the judiciary to parliamentary confirmation.

> Make the Anti-Corruption Agency accountable to Parliament, and not the Prime Minister's Office.

> Encourage a free and fair media. Amend restrictive laws that regulate the press, including the Printing, Presses and Publication Act.

> Reinstate with immediate effect local elections for municipal and local councils to create greater accountability at every level of government.

> Immediately enact recommendations made by the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) to ensure a clean electoral process for every political party involved.

Part II - A Vibrant, Prosperous Economy for All

Equitable Distribution for Better Competitiveness
> Bring Malaysia’s growth rate to 8% and per capita income to become on par with developed Asian countries by driving transparent, competitive economic policies.

> Dismantle networks of corruption, monopolies that disadvantage consumers in industries like telecommunications and banking, as well as protectionist policies that only benefit vested interests.

> Invigorate foreign direct investment by eliminating disincentives such as a corrupt judicial system that cannot effectively guarantee contracts, a lack of media freedom and laws promoting transparency in business practices, as well as equity requirements that promote rents. A target of RM100 billion in foreign investment within 5 years.

> Guarantee steady supply of goods at reasonable prices by maintaining an open market that is free from self-interested political manipulation. Prices will remain steady and shortages will be avoided.

> Affirm the dignity of all working Malaysians by implementing a minimum wage of RM1,500 in line with the increasing cost of living. A steady stream of training and retraining will also be provided to maintain the global competitiveness of the local workforce.

> Replace the New Economic Policy with affirmative action policies based on need rather than ethnicity to ensure that all impoverished Malaysians are given the means to empower themselves and break the cycle of poverty.

> Promote a fully transparent culture of openness in the awarding of government contracts and tenders, and granting awards based not on connections, but on competitiveness and track records.

> Place major GLCs such as Petronas under the care of Parliament to enable greater scrutiny of its funds and prevent any abuse or graft. This will ensure that the nation’s profits are funnelled back to its people, and not to limited vested interests.

Part III - A Safer Malaysia for All

A Cleaner Police Force for Safer Streets

> Ensure that at least 80% of the police force is tasked with purely crime fighting duties that have an immediate, tangible effect on security in our homes and neighbourhoods.

> Double the number of police tasked with performing regular, visible neighbourhood patrols, and a wide range of upgradings in crime fighting equipment and incentives for policemen and the implementation of the IPCMC.

>Part IV - An Affordable Malaysia for All

Better Control of Prices for Petrol and Basic Goods

> Immediately reduce the price of petrol in line with continuously growing Petronas profits.

> Restructure market systems to encourage price reductions, increases in quality and a steady, uninterrupted supply.

> Re-examine all concessions and monopolies; agreement that is found to be one-sided and abused to yield disproportionate profits for corporations must be renegotiated.

> Implement innovative measures such as a 60 year repayment period for housing loans to make home ownership a reality for more Malaysians.

Part V - Better Education for All

Universal Access to Higher Quality Education

> Ensure universal access to high quality education by making education from kindergarten to university completely free of charge for all Malaysians.

> Guarantee government scholarships for students with a minimum of 4A’s in their STPM and who are admitted into top international universities. Special attention will be given to poor families and students from rural areas.

>> Increase the salaries, allowances and benefits for teachers by at least 15% in line with the sacrifices and nobility of the profession.

Asked on Barisan Nasional (BN) labelling PKR's assurance of keeping fuel prices low as absurd, Anwar said: "PKR will stand by its word, if elected.

Asked to comment on the BN’s manifesto released on Monday, he said: "It's much ado about nothing. They have yet to fulfil their previous promises. - theSun

Posted by kasee
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Malaysia Today

Sex, murder and corruption: Malaysia's ruling coalition dodges scandals in election campaign

A close associate of the deputy prime minister allegedly orders the murder of a beautiful foreigner. The health minister is filmed having extramarital sex. A politically connected lawyer is accused of brokering top judicial appointments.

A string of scandals features heavily in the opposition's campaign for Malaysia's parliamentary election on 8 Mar.

"It's not that we want to capitalize unnecessarily on these issues, but it's our moral duty to bring them out in our campaign to show that the government is rotten," said Hatta Ramli, an official in the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.

The ruling National Front coalition is widely expected to win, but with a smaller majority than its landslide victory in 2004. The scandals are not the main factor, but they may be adding to voter discontent with the status quo.

"I think everything that has been made public is only the tip of the iceberg," said Voon Chin Joo, a 28-year-old information technology consultant. "My vote will be for the opposition because I want to see all the other scandals exposed."

But, analysts say, most voters are more focused on issues that affect their lives, such as inflation, crime and rising racial and religious tensions.

"Malaysians have a short memory," said Tricia Yeoh, a senior researcher at the Center for Public Policy Studies, a Malaysian think tank. "These scandals may contribute to some people's perception that Malaysia is in a mess, but they wouldn't drastically change voting patterns."

The government's first headache emerged with the slaying of Altantuya Shaariibuu in late 2006. Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, was charged with abetting the murder of the Mongolian interpreter, with whom he had had an affair.

Opposition parties worked feverishly to link Najib to the killing, in which two policemen allegedly used explosives to destroy Shaariibuu's remains in a jungle clearing in October 2006. But the opposition failed to come up with evidence to substantiate its claim that Najib had a hand in the killing.

The government has moved quickly to deal with the unusual spate of pre-election scandals.

Last August, opposition leaders criticized the government for providing a low-interest loan to rescue Malaysia's main port authority from debts of US$1 billion. Officials deflected the criticism by saying the loan was not a bailout, because it would be repaid.

In October, authorities swiftly arrested eight junior officials on corruption charges after the auditor general revealed that ministries bought defective boats and helicopters and paid grossly inflated prices for screwdrivers and flower pots.

"There has been no attempt to hide things under the carpet, so there shouldn't be a negative impact for us in the polls," Shahrir Samad, a ruling coalition lawmaker, told The Associated Press.

"The public is confident that all these issues have been well tackled," Shahrir said. "Openness, transparency and accountability have been obvious in the government. We have not been riding roughshod over anyone or trying to ignore the public's concerns."

The nation's attention shifted in recent weeks to two video scandals.

In January, Health Minister Chua Soi Lek, married with three children, resigned amid intense public pressure after DVDs _ allegedly made by his political rivals _ began circulating in his hometown showing him having sex with his lover in a hotel room.

No sooner had that scandal faded, when newspaper front pages turned to a government inquiry into another video, which showed a well-known lawyer apparently talking on the phone to Malaysia's former top judge about using their government connections to influence judicial appointments.

The inquiry heard testimony in open court from prominent figures including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. A decision is expected next month _ but not until after the election. (By SEAN YOONG/ AP)

Posted by Raja Petra
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Malaysia Today

The BARISAN RAKYAT posters will be ready tomorrow afternoon, Thursday, 28 February 2008.

Stocks are limited so book your requirements early to avoid any disappointment.

To book, call:
019-948 6096 or 013-387 2028
You can also contact the handlers via e-mail at barisanrakyat2008@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Collection will be via pre-arrangement at:
No. 66, Lorong Setiabestari 2
Damansara Heights (up the hill behind Victoria Station in Medan Damansara)

Posted by Raja Petra
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Malaysia Today

Ruling coalition may lose majority

Malaysia's ruling coalition could lose its crucial two-thirds majority for the first time in 40 years in next month's election due to eroding support, opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday.

The last time the multiracial coalition failed to score a two-thirds majority was in 1969. A few days after the election, the country's worst race riots erupted, killing hundreds.

"We can deny Barisan Nasional a two-thirds majority,"‌ the former deputy premier said in his office in an old bungalow in a leafy suburb just outside the capital.

He said voters were set to punish Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's administration for the rising cost of living, alleged racial discrimination and claims of judicial corruption.

A two-thirds majority is needed to change Malaysia's constitution. It is also a psychological level that Barisan, which has ruled Malaysia in various forms since independence in 1957, says is needed to ensure political stability.

The 14-party Barisan is widely expected to retain power in the March 8 election, although analysts say complaints about inflation, rising crime and racial and religious discord could cost Barisan some votes.

Anwar said his Parti Keadilan Rakyat is expected to win at least 20-25 of the country's 222 parliament seats. The party held just one parliamentary seat in the last election in 2004.

"We are safe now for 20-25 seats and we are going beyond,"‌ he said. The seats would likely come from capital Kuala Lumpur, central Selangor state and the northern states of Penang and Perak and Kedah, Anwar added.

The 60-year old Anwar was once, then prime minister Mahathir Mohamed's anointed successor before he fell out of favour in 1998.

Anwar is barred from running for public office until this April because of a conviction for corruption. He was sacked by Mahathir in 1998 and jailed on what he says were fabricated charges of corruption and sodomy.

A court quashed the sodomy charges and freed Anwar from jail in September 2004, soon after he finished serving the corruption sentence.

Mahathir has branded Anwar as a 'day-dreamer', telling reporters last month that his political enemy would not be a major factor in the coming election.

"If he thinks he's going to be the prime minister, it's daydreaming of the worst kind," Mahathir said.

Malaysia's main opposition parties - Keadilan, the fundamentalist Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) and the mainly Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP) - have failed to form a strong alliance that can rival Barisan.

The parties have little in common, with PAS championing an Islamic state that punishes Muslims with stoning and amputation and DAP envisioning a secular state.

The DAP had 12 out of the total 219 seats in the last parliament, and PAS had six.

This time, the opposition needs to win at least 74 seats to deny Barisan the two-thirds majority. Analysts say the opposition was unlikely to reach the goal.

Keadilan, which projects itself as a multi-ethnic party, is regarded as the best bet to bring together DAP and PAS but its future is now in doubt after it fared poorly in 2004 polls.

Anwar dismissed the notion that Keadilan would eventually disappear, following in the footsteps of splinter parties such as Semangat 46, which tried to rival the main United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in the early 1990s. - Reuters

Posted by Raja Petra
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Malaysia Today

AP Interview: Election chief says media bias will make Malaysia polls a laughingstock

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - The Election Commission in Malaysia needs more power to prevent one-sided campaign coverage in local media or the entire electoral system will become a "laughingstock," the commission's chairman said.

Top election official Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahim's comments Friday appeared to lend rare support to opposition complaints of pro-government bias in the press.

"If you want free and fair elections ... you must be able to have that power to level that playground," Abdul Rahim, head of the Election Commission, said in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the March 8 general elections.

"Without that power, then the whole system becomes a laughingstock," he said. The commission must be able "to control the media when they take sides."

It is rare for any official connected with the electoral process to speak so candidly about media bias. The comments are even more surprising coming from Abdul Rashid, who has been criticized by opposition parties for refusing to acknowledge that voting irregularities occur in the country.

"In an election you have to produce what is called an informed choice. That's the principle. People must know who is contesting so publicity must be given to all, not just one section. And there are media bodies that take only one side," he said.

The mainstream media in Malaysia are either government-owned or controlled by the parties in the ruling coalition. They also need annually to renew government licenses to operate. This has ensured that virtually every newspaper and television station broadcasts flattering reports of the government. The opposition rarely gets a good mention in the papers.

The Election Commission is supposed to be an independent body, whose members are appointed by the constitutional monarch. But it is largely seen as a pro-government panel that has done little to promote electoral fairness.

Abdul Rashid indicated his hands are tied, saying the commission is in charge only of the electoral rolls and the polling process and has no power to control other irregularities, including vote-buying.

The laws need to be changed to give the commission more muscle, he said.

"Our (electoral) laws have been there for 50 years. After 50 years, I feel there must be some kind of review," he said. "There must be a law ... put in place where the EC is seen to be in full control."

Despite his frank comments that will likely be welcomed by the opposition, Abdul Rashid insisted the electoral process itself is free, fair and transparent.

He dismissed allegations that electoral rolls, which are vetted by the Election Commission, are filled with names of dead people and people living in other constituencies. These names are used by bogus voters deployed by the ruling party, critics say.

"That never happens here. It cannot happen because the process _ the polling, the counting and so on _ is so transparent," he said.

"Cheating has never been proven anywhere in this country," he said, adding the few incidents of fraud that may have taken place have been so minor that they didn't affect election results.

Opposition groups reiterated demands for electoral reforms at a rally late Friday in northeastern Terengganu state, where the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party's president, Abdul Hadi Awang, told a crowd of several thousand people there were "clear signs of cheating."

Associated Press Writer AP


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

M. Manoharan, HINDRAF leader currently detained under the Internal Security Act, will contest the Kota Alam Shah state seat against Barisan Nasional’s incumbent Ching Su Chen. Seat code is N48.

His wife Pushpaneela said he was pleased to have been given an opportunity by the DAP to stand in the general election.

He will be facing Ching Su Chen of Gerakan, who won with a 2,000 majority last time.Kota Alam Shah seat consist of the following racial breakdown.

Malay: 16.8%, Chinese: 58.4%, Indian: 24.1%, Others: 0.7%

If DAP can bring in the big guns of their party to campaign here, you can have 60% of Chinese votes, coupled with 80% of the Indian voters and a small portion of PAS/PKR support, Mr Mano can pull it through.

Those who believes that ISA is a draconian law, you should vote for this guy. It will send a clear message to the government that ISA is not supported by the people.

Makkal Sakti

Can The Malaysian Indians Be Fooled AGAIN?

When Mahathir and Ling Leong Sik had gracefully retired from politics just before the last elections, the M.I.C. leader, Samy Vellu was asked to leave the helm of the party so as to allow the younger generation an opportunity to serve the Indian community in Malaysia.

However, Samy Vellu at that time said that he will serve the party as long as the Indians want him to serve them and the entire M.I.C. machinery was put into full gear with pledges and unwavering support coming from the other M.I.C. leaders. During that election Barisan National won a resounding victory and it looked certain that Malaysia was in for a change from the Mahathir regime. M.I.C. won all the seats they contested in.

Many Malaysian Indians realised at that time that the only voice of the Indians that can be HEARD by the world at large came from the media controlled by the government machinery i.e. through the offices of Barisan National and its component parties. Thus many Indians had no choice but to accept Samy Vellu as the head of M.I.C. and a self – proclaimed champion of the Indians.

What baffles me the most is that even yesterday, Samy Vellu had made the same statement that he is here because the Indians want him to be here. Is he getting too old that he has forgotten all the events that had happened in the last two years?

The Internet has opened up a different playing field all together as the government can no longer vet the information that is being given to all the people out there. This includes the Indians. Even those in remote areas have been able to keep up with the latest information on government misdeeds as many Indians, through their sheer hard work, had been able to give their children a decent education and these children are able to relate the news on the information super-highway to those in the rural parts of this country.

Being Indian does not mean being Hindu. That is an important distinction that all must accept. However, due to the fact that the majority of Malaysian Indians are Hindus, the Indians expect M.I.C. to protect their religious rites under the Federal Constitution through their active involvement in governance of this country as a member of the ruling coalition.

You can bend a person’s pride, not their belief. Samy Vellu made a grave error in allowing the demolition of so many temples. There would not be a need for Hindraf if M.I.C. had done what it had promised. The Barisan National government even refused to receive petitions from the rakyat about their plight. The Supreme Head of Malaysia was also not allowed to receive petitions from the rakyat. How arrogant of these Little Napoleons (in RPK’s words) that they even deny justice to be seeked from the King.

Only when the representation is inadequate that changes are requested. There is no need to form new parties and allies in order to combat the problem. People within M.I.C. must overthrow the regime so that the real ones still in the party can help represent the true plight of Indians in Malaysia. Hindraf was formed not to terrorise this country or to expend some form of religious fanaticism. It was formed with the pure hope that our temples, our sacred places of worship is not demolished and vandalised the way it has been done for many years.

Now that the M.I.C. knows that there are many channels that the Indians in Malaysia can use to voice their opinions, is it not time for them to take a vote of no confidence against the leaders in their parties and restore the pride and honour that the MALAYSIAN INDIAN CONGRESS once stood for.

There are hardly any professionals joining the M.I.C. and would this not be an indicator as to the underlying problems in the party. Many Malaysian Indians have come to the point that they believe M.I.C. is a party of thugs and gangsters, whether it is right or not. The inclusion of some new faces in the M.I.C. line-up would make you think this is indeed the case. The changes made by M.I.C. seem to show no difference on the national level as most incumbents are still there. There are many new faces in the state seats but how will this help the general Indian brothers and sisters in Parliament? The ones who remain contesting the Parliamentary seats have failed before in the eyes of the Indians thus why they are still they baffles me and many other political analyst around the country.

The Sabahans and the Sarawakians have come in defence of the Barisan National that all the tribes and races in their states are treated equally and rights given without prejudice. Due the fact that all rights are the same for all, anyone from any tribe has the same access to education and jobs. That is what the Indians here are also striving for. The Indians are not on the same playing field and they never have been as the Indian labourers were not educated too when they came here. There were a selected group of Indians and Sri Lankans who were educated and they occupied many government posts and positions during the pre-war and early post-war eras. However, the Indian labourers were never in that same playing field. They were more closely related to the Malay farmers of early independence in terms of education and socio-economy. The Indians are not asking for something that is not theirs. The statistics speaks for itself. If the M.I.C. has strived all these years for the betterment of the Indians, why does the statistics show otherwise?

There are many who benefited from the ruling coalition but the general public has suffered a great deal to satisfy the greed of a few. I wonder if I would ever come across a country where Capitalism runs amok among an elected dictatorship. The rich becomes richer and the poor poorer. The powerful little Napoleons dictate the course of the country so as to suit their personal capitalists’ gains. It always seems from the outset that the major problem is the redistribution of wealth and benefits among the races but the bare truth is that there is no redistribution of wealth outside ruling coalition. The race of a person does not have a bearing anymore. The only thing that matters is whether you are a party person or not.

By virtue of that error in judgement by the Barisan National Government, today they stand in tight spot trying to defend their majority. The Barisan National will win; nobody is living in denial about it. However, can they retain their majority in the House is a huge question mark that even their former boss, Tun Mahathir has publicly acknowledged.

Please vote sensibly and rationally.

Show Hindraf 5 our gratitude

Before you lay yourself down to sleep tonight, take a moment to think of the Hindraf 5 currently being detained under the ISA in Kamunting. Just wonder what must be going through their minds, as they lie on their beds. Without doubt, they must be missing their wives and children. Take a moment to think of their children who cannot see, hug or play with their fathers.

The Hindraf 5 must be wondering how to support their families since they are out of work. They must be thinking how to continue the struggle for the Indians in this country since their freedom has been so unjustly taken away from them. They may even wonder if the Indian Malaysians have forgotten them.

Now, take a moment to think of our prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Think of him lying on his comfortable bed in Putrajaya. Do you think he feels an iota of guilt, since he was the one who signed the ISA instructions to wrongfully separate these men from their wives and children? Think of MIC President S Samy Vellu lying on his bed after a good dinner with his family.

Do you think he feels sorry for the plight of these men, since he was the one who boldly declared to the international media that they were detained under the ISA on mere suspicions that they had terrorist links? Both of them know in their hearts that these men are innocent, but they had to selfishly put them away to safeguard their political futures.

How can we continue to allow these kinds of men to be our leaders?

The MIC was supposed to take care of the Indian community’s interests all these years, but only after the Nov 25 Hindraf rally do you see the government taking such a keen interest in this deprived community. Million of dollars have been ‘promised’ for Tamil schools. The chief secretary to the government has been instructed to ‘look into’ hiring more Indians for the civil service. An Indian boy falls to his death at a school in Puchong, and Umno Youth now sends an officer to visit the family and investigate!

Would all this have taken place if not for Hindraf? If your answer is ‘no,’ take a moment to think about where their struggles and sacrifices have landed them.

How do we repay these men who put the interests of their community above themselves and their families? How do we give back for the sacrifices they have made?

The best thing we can do is to free them. How do we do it? The ISA is the tool of this government. If this government is replaced in the next elections, the ISA will fall, and the Hindraf heroes will be freed. Therefore, if you value the sacrifices these men, their wives and their young children have made for your interests, then all you registered voters should make a commitment to vote against the Barisan Nasional on March 8, election day.

Go out in force and urge your families and friends to go with you. Just remember that every vote counts. The government has taken us for fools by promising a lot of last-minute goodies and last-minute development plans. Let us show them that we are not fools.

Most importantly, come election day, let us show Uthayakumar, Manoharan, Kenghadharan, Ganabatirau, Vasantakumar and their families that we have not, and will never forget them.


Janji Anwar

1. Turunkan Harga Minyak
Alihkan keuntungan untuk kurang beban rakyat
PILIHANRAYA kali ini sudah pastinya adalah pilihanraya harga minyak. Sekiranya BN menang dengan majoriti besar, pasti mereka akan naikkan harga minyak. Harga minyak yang tinggi membebankan rakyat. Harga minyak yang tinggi menyebabkan barang keperluan menjadi lebih mahal, makanan menjadi lebih mahal, perkhidmatan jadi lebih mahal dan kos pengangkutan jadi lebih mahal.

Sebagai pengeluar minyak, kerajaan mengaut keuntungan besar apabila harga bahan bakar melonjak di pasaran dunia.

Tetapi kerajaan membazirkan sumber pendapatan ini untuk membiaya projek-projek mega, untuk rasuah, dan untuk projek-projek yang tidak menguntungkan rakyat.

Kerajaan bertanggungjawab memastikan rakyat tidak susah dan tidak dibebani kos kehidupan mahal. Kerajaan KeADILan mampu kurangkan beban rakyat dengan tidak mengenakan harga minyak yang tinggi. Keuntungan Petronas akan diguna untuk subsidi bagi mengimbangi harga runcit Petrol. Kita alihkan sebahagian dari keuntungan minyak untuk membantu kurangkan beban rakyat.

2. Pendidikan Percuma dan Bermutu
Pelajaran dalam Bahasa Melayu, bahasa ibunda
MANFAAT dari pendidikan percuma amat besar. Pendidikan percuma akan menaikkan taraf daya saing rakyat.

Dengan pendidikan percuma, semua rakyat berpeluang untuk belajar dan memantapkan diri dengan ilmu sebaik mungkin.

Tetapi taraf pendidikan kita hari ini semakin menurun kerana kerajaan tidak memperuntukkan sumber yang mencukupi. Urus tadbir yang lemah juga menyebabkan kualiti pendidikan terus corot.

Dasar pendidikan negara akan kita tukar. Kita akan tukar semula pengajaran sains dan matematik ke bahasa Melayu, dan bahasa aliran ibunda bagi memudahkan pembelajaran anak-anak di sekolah.

Kita bagi hak sama rata dan peruntukan yang adil kepada semua sekolah. Kerajaan KeADILan komited kepada menambahbaik kecekapan tenaga pengajar.

Tidak kira apa aliran sekolah itu - sekolah agama, sekolah Cina atau sekolah Tamil - kita tidak mendiskriminasi mana-mana pihak.

Tetapi KeADILan tegaskan pendidikan nasional iaitu sekolah-sekolah kebangsaan diberi keutamaan. Sekolah kebangsaan dan mutu pembelajaran dijadikan lebih kukuh, dan ditambahbaik kerana sekolah kebangsaan menampung jumlah murid paling besar.

KeADILan akan mansuhkan Akta Universiti dan Kolej Universiti. Ini adalah satu akta yang menyekat pemikiran pelajar dan skop penyelidikan di universiti. Hari ini, pentadbiran universiti dikongkong kuasa politik. KeADILan percaya perlantikan pegawai-pegawai kanan universiti harus berdasarkan keupayaan.

3. Menjamin Keadilan Sosial untuk Semua
Layanan sama rata untuk semua golongan

KEBAJIKAN rakyat menjadi keutamaan KeADILan. Keadilan sosial meliputi kebajikan dan penambahbaikan dari segi keselamatan dan khidmat kesihatan untuk rakyat, dan bukan sahaja dari segi hak asasi manusia.

Pengagihan kekayaan negara hari ini tidak adil. KeADILan prihatin dengan nasib golongan termiskin, ibu-ibu tunggal, anak-anak yatim, anak-anak muda, pekerja estet dan Orang Kurang Upaya (OKU) dari semua kaum dan semua agama. Gaji minima RM1500 untuk semua pekerja. Ini adalah jaminan kami mereka tidak didiskriminasi oleh masyarakat.

Muda belia yang berminat untuk memajukan diri diberi galakan. Ramai muda belia hari ini mahu menjadi usahawan, mempunyai insentif yang tinggi tetapi kurang modal. Kerana tidak ada connection, mereka tidak berpeluang untuk mengubah kehidupan mereka.

4. Menjamin Kebebasan Institusi Kehakiman
Bebaskan mahkamah dari politik

KeADILan mahu membebaskan mahkamah dari kawalan politik. Perlantikan dan kenaikan pangkat hakim juga akan dibuat dengan melalui proses suruhanjaya yang lebih telus dan cermat.
Demokrasi bukan sahaja mengenai pilihanraya setiap lima tahun.

Dengan kemenangan pilihanraya, se-mua agensi dan sumber kerajaan di-kuasai dan digunakan bagi mengu-kuhkan kedudukan parti pemerintah.

Oleh itu, kita perlukan kuasa pengimbang atau check & balance. Tunggak check & balance ialah badan kehakiman. Kehakiman harus bebas dari politik dan boleh mentafsir dan melaksanakan undang-undang dengan bebas.

Tanpa kuasa pengimbang, pemimpin-pemimpin politik dan orang-orang mereka boleh melanggar undang-undang dan bebas dari dihukum.

5. Menstruktur semula Institusi Polis
Pasukan yang profesional, bebas politik

PARTI KeADILan meletakkan keselamatan rakyat sebagai keutamaan. Insitusi polis akan dibersihkan dan dimantapkan.

Dengan tanggungjawab yang lebih diberikan kepada pihak polis, hal ehwal anggotanya juga tidak dilupakan - gaji yang lebih baik, persekitaran kerja yang lebih selamat, dengan kebajikan kakitangan yang lebih muna-sabah - semua ini adalah dalam satu pakej khas KeADILan kepada anggota-anggota polis yang mendedahkan diri mereka kepada risiko demi keselamatan kita semua.

Polis seperti yang kita tahu sekarang ini tidak cekap, rasuah dan tidak telus.

Polis adalah agensi yang bertanggungjawab menjaga setiap individu dan warganegara selamat dari jenayah, tetapi hari ini jenayah semakin menjadi-jadi.

Pada 2004, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tubuhkan suruhanjaya untuk melibat bagaimana untuk merombak semula polis. Tetapi sehingga hari ini tidak nampak apa-apa perubahan. Polis masih tidak cekap, masih rasuah dan jenayah masih menjadi-jadi.

Ini harus diubah. Tenaga polis harus difokuskan untuk membanteras jenayah dari segenap sudut.

Hari ini, hampir separuh anggota polis terlibat secara tidak langsung dalam pembasmian jenayah, tetapi tertumpu kepada kerja-kerja politik.

Cawangan Khas (SB) dan Unit Simpanan Persekutuan (FRU) diperalatkan untuk kepentingan politik.

Antara cadangan suruhanjaya adalah penubuhan Suruhanjaya Aduan dan Salahlaku Polis (IPCMC), badan bebas yang menyiasat rasuah dan salahlaku polis serta menjamin profesionalisma polis. Tetapi sehingga ke hari ini IPCMC belum ditubuhkan. Sekiranya KeADILan menang, penubuhan IPCMC adalah pasti.

Overcome fear, vote for change

It’s election time again. And it’s the best time to see all the prepped-up photographs of the Yang Berhormats (YBs), and wannabe YBs, at every pillar, lamp and post, hung up with the hope of continuing their wealth-amassing banditry in the name of serving the people.

Our politicians know all to well that, with the help of a very compliant press, winning an election for the Barisan Nasional is nothing but a show that they put on every four or five years. Money is spent and the people are pleased by the immediate attention that their ‘sleepy hollows’ will get when all the big gun politicos from both sides of the divide come a-calling to ‘preach’ about the future.

We, the rakyat of this blessed country, are the ones that are to be blamed for our continued bewilderment with the ruling coalition since time immemorial. We are such a predictable lot that the politicians here think that it just takes knowing the right people, standing on the right ticket or throwing money to the rakyat to get elected.

This brings about the common election talk of ‘safe seats’ – a topic on which the ruling coalition is very good at discussing. We have a ‘safe seat’ phenomenon here that no other country can boast about. But it is we the rakyat who allow such talk and let these politicians dictate our lives for the next five years.

We must come out of this rut. We must let the government know that we cannot be taken for granted and that we will use the power of our vote to determine who should best represent us in the state assemblies and Parliament. Until and unless we, the rakyat, wake up and state that we will not be dumb fools, we will keep hearing the same old rigmarole that only the BN coalition can bring about the betterment of the people. We must learn to vote in other parties for the sake of change and allow new ideas of governance to be implemented for the betterment and welfare of the people.

The media's constant reminders that chaos will occur if the opposition garners support are nothing but the same old tricks at work during election time.

We seem to fear, and it is this fear that the ruling elites capitalise on for the sake of their continued dominance in the seats of power. We must learn to use the power of the vote to ensure that change takes place and to put a stop to corruption and the complete control of the executive over the other two state bodies (the judiciary and the legislature). Healthcare, education, the cost of living, religious sensitivities and, most precious of all, equality and freedom must be in our minds when we cast our votes.

If we, the people, are known to change the government once every two or three terms, the ruling elites will come down from their ivory towers and start treating us as equals. That must slowly start this election.

More seats must be won by the opposition so that the rakyat will slowly overcome the culture of fear that has been drilled into them by a compliant media and the state apparatus. With the exposure of corrupt practices in high and powerful seats of government, we the rakyat must not waste this upcoming opportunity.

P Dev Anand Pillai

Malaysia's Judiciary, Failing Quantity and Quality Tests

One remarkable thing about the Malaysian judiciary is how small it is. The recent Chief Justice scandal has highlighted how problematic corruption in the judiciary is, or at least is perceived to be (if we want to be exceedingly generous about the benefit of the doubt).

That there is so much perceived corruption in such a tiny institution is surprising; it is disproportionate. Scandals at the highest levels in the justice system, which we consistently witness do not appear to be as common in even some of our worst basket case neighbours.

Pakistan may be a third world authoritarian country virtually governed by its military, but even there its judiciary has withstood the trespasses of the executive and even become a flagbearer for reform, as highlighted by the incredible outpour of public support for the judiciary when President Pervez Musharraf attempted to oust judges who were not to his liking.

Malaysia experiences a rate of corruption in the judiciary extremely disproportionate to its tiny size, which indicates that something is very wrong with how we appoint our judges.

The first problem, of course, is that we are not appointing enough judges. A report in the New Straits Times issue of 1 September 2006 indicated that we have 2.4 judges for every million people. By way of comparison, India has four times this amount!

Of course, there would not be much to complain about if this process produced excellent judges. After all, a low proportion of judges compared to the general population may simply indicate that we are appointing very efficient and honest judges, with very stringent selection criteria.

But all the evidence suggests otherwise — that we are not winnowing the wheat from the chaff, but taking and appointing the chaff while throwing out the good wheat!

The infamous backlog of court cases, with some accused of offenses waiting a decade or more to stand trial, is one black mark.

The backlog of written judgments in trials which have been heard is another, with several prominent judges recently accused of failing to promptly deliver written judgments, making appeals impossible.

Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to personally witness the proceedings of a session of the Federal Court; at least one case in the apex court of our land was delayed because the lawyers could not obtain a written judgment!

And, of course, we have clear disincentives for good judges to progress. There is no reason to think Gopal Sri Ram is a particularly bad judge, though some of his rulings have been controversially overturned in the Federal Court (the Metramac case being one such example) but he has been sitting in the Court of Appeal for years.

Meanwhile, some colleagues of his who heard cases in the Court of Appeal for only a few months have been promoted ahead of him! This would perhaps be excusable if they were brilliant men and women, but for Gopal Sri Ram to have been bluntly ignored, after years of service, can only indicate that he is either a terrible judge relative to his colleagues, or that his performance is simply not recognised.

Much is rotten in the state of the Malaysian judiciary, to borrow an overused Shakespeare quotation. We have to re-examine our whole process of appointing and promoting judges.

Our justice system should be giving everyone a trial, and making sure that trial is a fair and just one. There is usually a trade-off in the short run between quantity and quality, and I am sure the justice system is no exception.

The remarkable thing here is that no such trade-off exists; we can confidently say that our justice system is not delivering, both on quantity and quality. It is time to look at our process of judicial appointments, and to ask what has gone wrong.

Written by johnleemk