PKR Mansor wins 6052, heads for Penang DCM office

PENANTI: Dr. Mansor Othman is the new state representative of Penanti and Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) of Penang after winning today's by-election, a whopping 6,052 out of the total of 7,100 votes.

His closest rival was Nai Khan Ari, an independent who received just 494 votes while Aminah Abdullah took 392 votes.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said that Mansor would be sworn in on Wednesday morning so that he can attend the weekly state executive council meeting.

A lower turnout and missing names from electoral rolls marked the sure PR victory at the close of a by-election campaign called ‘uninspiring’ due to Barisan Nasional’s (BN) absence.

But ultimately PKR and PR were the winners as it has now successfully removed a troublesome politician in Fairus Khairuddin who was forced to quit as assemblyman and deputy chief minister because of graft allegations.

The lower voter turnout today showed however that clearly by-election fatigue had set in.

The final turn out today was 7,100 voters. The reduced interest in voting is likely due to BN supporters not coming out to vote in the by-election as their party is not contesting.

BN leaders have called the by-election frivolous and part of a political game and can now use the low turnout as ammunition to say that it is a sign of protest from the voters.

Fairus won 7,346 votes in his electoral debut in Election 2008, winning by a majority of 2,219 against BN’s Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid.

The double Masters lawmaker said he resigned to further his studies, prompting BN to boycott what it called an uncalled-for by-election.

Mansor, a Yale graduate and a former academic, is expected to be named DCM I after his victory against Aminah, former Gerakan member Nai Khan Ari and Kamarul, who had earlier lost his deposit in the Bukit Gantang vote.

This is the sixth by-election since Election 2008. BN has not won in any of the four previous by-elections in Peninsular Malaysia, only winning in Batang Ai in Sarawak.

Another by-election will be held in the rural Kelantan state seat of Manek Urai on July 14 after its five-term assemblyman Ismail Yaacob from PAS died on May 22.

Earlier PKR said they received ten complaints from voters who found out they were transferred to the Permatang Pasir ward as turnout came in lower than the party’s target of 65 per cent.

The Election Commission (EC) said total voter turnout was 46.15 per cent or 7,100 when polls closed, against the 82.13 per cent in Election 2008. Police said polling was trouble-free.

PKR Penang secretary Lim Boo Cheng said the voters had verified being from the Permatang Pauh parliamenatary constituency but he was unsure if they – one Malay and nine Chinese – had previously voted in Penanti.

PKR election director Saifuddin Nasution earlier today stuck to his forecast of a 65 per cent turnout as the party moved election workers to encourage more to come out and cast their votes.

Voting began at 8am and closed at 5pm in the semi-rural state seat within the PKR political fortress of Permatang Pauh held by its de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Despite Barisan Nasional’s boycott, PKR has focused on the federal government’s rule and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s performance in its nightly ceramahs, saying a bigger majority will underscore the people’s ire against the ruling coalition.

PKR’s Dr Mansor, who has lost in three elections, faced three independents in a by-election that was his to lose.

Mansor told reporters outside the Guar Perahu polling station that the turnout is “very low” when asked about the roughly 30 per cent turnout by noon. He however hoped things pick up after 2 pm.

He earlier claimed to have received up to eight reports of voters finding their names missing from the Penanti electoral rolls during his rounds at the polling centres.

Voters said the EC had transferred them out of the state seat in the latest electoral roll dated April 16.

Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng, who visited polling stations with Mansor and DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, rapped the EC and called it a conspiracy to sabotage Penanti voters.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof later denied any conspiracy, blaming the voters for not checking the rolls ahead of the by-election.

“They should have checked. This is all the last minute mentality but if we get many complaints, we will probe,” Abdul Aziz told reporters while visiting the polling centres.

He added that 90 per cent of electoral regulations had been met but said voter turnout was still low.

This was seen in both the Berapit and Teluk Wang polling centres. Independent candidate Nai Khan Ari cast his vote in Teluk Wang and told reporters he hoped Penanti voters would give him a chance to represent them.

But turnout at the SMK Guar Perahu polling centre, where PKR lost to BN in the last polls, was high with nearly 400 votes cast at noon.

A PKR election voter claimed that 80 per cent of those going in were the party’s supporters.

Police mounted tight security and deployed Light Strike Force units armed with batons and shields outside the polling centres where most voters trickled in.

Polls observers said the heavy police presence was unnecessary and is seen as intimidating apart from defying international norms.

However, police have been putting in extra policemen for the by-elections which has ramped up government costs, a reason cited by the BN to skip the Penanti vote.

For this by-election, Mansor and four independents – Aminah Abdullah, Mohd Saberi Osman, Nai Khan Ari and Kamarul Ramizu Idris – had filed their nomination papers on May 23 but Saberi was disqualified as PKR proved he was a bankrupt.

Aminah said after the results were announced that the low voter turnout showed voters were now rejecting PR.

Nai said he did not expect to lose.

PKR’s greatest challenge had been Aminah, its former Penang Wanita chief, who claimed the party had tried to bribe her RM80,000 to quit the race or offered her the deputy chief minister I post if she rejoined upon victory.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) are investigating her claims.

Police are also investigating its own reports that DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang and PKR’s Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishnan had committed sedition and criminal defamation for linking Najib to the Perak power grab and the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder during the election campaign.

The police had banned both topics in ceramahs at the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election last month but the opposition had defied them.

“In Najib’s Malaysia, speaking truth has become sedition criminal defamation. Darkness descending on Malaysia. Malaysians must not be cowed,” Kit Siang said after the police took his statement in his Island Glades home.


Anwar slams gov’t for PKFZ wastage and economic recession

The administration’s lackadaisical approach to governance and accountability is deeply disturbing.

At a time when Malaysian’s are forced to cut costs and worry if their hard earned money will cover the next month’s bills, our government continues to pour billions in taxpayer money down the drain.

The government’s neither-here-nor-there approach to the PKFZ scandal is a clear sign of UMNOs unwillingness to sacrifice its own delinquent members for the sake of the national good.

The handling of the PKFZ affair amplifies the hypocrisy which was manifest in the investigations into money politics within UMNO and the selective persecution of foes of the new Najib administration.

The government has bragged that billions have been disbursed from the two fiscal stimulus packages. Yet there is virtually no information available to the public about the process of awarding tenders.

We are left to assume that it is business as usual and have little confidence that the economy will benefit from the misappropriation of these funds that are being channeled to the same coterie of crony companies.

Inefficiency and largesse remain the prevailing traits of our bloated bureaucracy. Government monopolies preclude any significant change in the economic landscape of the nation and promises of liberalisation ring hollow when it comes to the lack of political will to implement change.

To date there is no plan in sight to resuscitate the economy and transform it as the Prime Minister has promised. We hear from him incoherent statements predicting a recovery by the end of the year while at the same time admitting that our economy is beholden to that of the US and Europe, which by their own account will remain weak into 2010.

Bank Negara has this week confirmed what most Malaysians have known already for eight months, save the Minister of Finance. The country is headed for recession.

Thousands of jobs have already been lost and in the coming months we know that more factories will be shuttered and more will be laid off – by some estimates up to a half-million people. 2009 growth figures have been slashed to -5%, the worst economic scenario Malaysia has faced since the Financial Crisis.

These challenges require visionary leadership and the courage to act decisively against corruption and cronyism. Sadly both qualities are lacking in the current administration.

[Anwar Ibrahim is the Opposition Leader and de-facto head of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition]


The terror of Malaysian government's silence towards Penan community

Penan child

DATUK Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil was the perfect picture of concern and care on the front page of The Star newspaper on 28 May 2009. The newly re-appointed women, family and community development minister was photographed at the Serdang Hospital with a five-year-old child who looked like he had suffered serious and constant abuse at home.

"It is so awful and very sad. Obviously the abuse must have been going on for some time," Shahrizat was quoted as saying after she struggled to compose herself.

Shahrizat, who is also Wanita Umno chief, has rightfully demonstrated shock at such abuse. However, she has yet to illustrate the same kind of alarm and urgency towards the plight of Penan girls and women in the interiors of Sarawak who were reportedly sexually violated and abused.

Indeed, since the report first emerged in mid-September 2008 about the sexual violence towards the Penans by logging company employees, eight months have gone by. A government-led task force into the Baram district completed its investigation in mid-November and yet six months later, Malaysians remain clueless about the plight of the Penan girls and women.

Despite public funds spent on setting up the task force, the affected communities themselves remain uncertain about the concrete measures that the government aims to undertake, if at all, to prevent further violations.

In the meantime, Shahrizat continues to pussyfoot around questions about the report's contents and evades questions about its status.

Why the silence?
One has to wonder, what's stopping Shahrizat as the minister in charge, and the Barisan Nasional (BN) cabinet as the government in charge, from treating the rape and sexual harassment of Penans girls and women with more urgency?

Penan woman and child

Is it because the Penans don't factor as a constituency? Or because there aren't photo opportunities for the relevant minister to be seen demonstrating her care and concern? Or because the BN just doesn't care and will only respond if there is public outrage and pressure?

To be fair, former minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen was quick to respond with a concrete measure against a backdrop of public outrage over the Penans being violated. It was she who set up a task force that included representatives from different government agencies, two women's rights groups and the indigenous community.

And it wasn't as if the task force didn't work as quickly as it could. Additionally, The Nut Graph is told that the report isn't about pointing fingers. It contains comprehensive measures that attempt to address, as holistically as possible, all the circumstances that make the Penans vulnerable to abuse.

However, even Ng seemed unable to commit to making the report fully public. In early February 2009, when I met her at the MCA's Chinese New Year dinner for the media, she would not answer questions about when the task force report would be made public and why it hadn't yet been made public.

For a government that created a women, family and community development ministry to show how much it cares about these constituencies, Ng's and Shahrizat's responses are, at the very least, strange. At the very worst, it reflects a government that actually doesn't care about a marginalised community which doesn't have the influence and capacity to pressure or shame those in power.

Attempts to reach Shahrizat for confirmation on the report's status were futile
The PKFZ report
Compare, for example, Shahrizat's response after she ignored requests by The Nut Graph for a month for an interview about when the government would make the task force report public.

When she was finally met at the press conference of an event she was launching, she first said the report would be tabled in cabinet "as soon as possible" (but perhaps not soon enough for the affected Penans). Then instead of committing to full public disclosure of the report, she said interested parties could go to her ministry to discuss the report. That's at least one hurdle for public scrutiny that the minister is definitely trying to put in place.

Additionally, it was only later when she was pressed again that she said the report would be submitted to cabinet on 27 May. However, attempts to reach her after that to confirm that the report was tabled were futile. The Nut Graph was told she was at the Serdang Hospital as The Star report and photos bear testimony to the following day. And since then, still no word from either her or the cabinet about the report's status.

Compare this with the release of the report on the controversial Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project on 28 May 2009. Indeed, the report is available online until 10 June.

Penan woman

In his blog, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat boasted that the government had to "disappoint" the Opposition by "proving to the public that the new administration under our prime minister has nothing to hide and is prepared to reveal the truth as well as to take the appropriate action should there be any wrongdoing."

Now, if we could only have the women, family and community development minister say exactly the same thing for the Penan task force report. Then, maybe the BN government would have more credibility with regard to being "transparent" and taking "appropriate action" against any wrongdoing.

Penan people in a longhouse in Long Lutin
The question though is why did the cabinet feel pressured to reveal the PKFZ report but doesn't see the need to do so for the Penan task force report? Truth is, apart from the Women's Aid Organisation and the Women's Centre for Change, no other public interest groups are raising their voices for the task force report to be made public.

The traditional media have also lost interest. Two of the largest English dailies in the country — The Star and the New Straits Times — didn't even bother reporting what Shahrizat said about tabling the report in cabinet and making it partially available. So is it any wonder that the government feels no need to be accountable? Hence, it looks to me that as far as Shahrizat is concerned, the public may just forget about the Penan's plight if she keeps silent long enough about it.

Penan person standing in front of the Rukunegara scrawled on the wall of a longhouse

Tackling terror
What was even more ironic is that on 28 May, the New Straits Times highlighted on its front page the headline Zero tolerance for terror — old and new. The report lent support to Datuk Seri Najib Razak's actions in denying the request by former Communist Party of Malaya leader Chin Peng to come back into the country, and in incarcerating suspected terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari under the Internal Security Act.

But what about the terror of a Penan girl or woman living in the Sarawak interiors who faces the real and frequent possibility of rape and harassment?

Want to know what I find even more terrifying than that? It is knowing, as I am sure the Penans do by now, that even after a crime is committed against me, the Malaysian government can remain indefinitely silent for months about what it will do to ensure justice and prevent future violations

The Nut Graph

Hindraf - the way forward

Today, in May 2009 ,with P Uthayakumar back in our fold, I think this issue takes on a fresh significance and needs to be revisited. The country is once again going to experience the effects of a brand of leadership not very much known in our politics -a leadership based on ideals.

Hindraf has had some major successes in the recent past and has created a major impact to the politics of Malaysia. Hindraf has contributed to a change in the whole political landscape.

It was when the people started responding in large ways to Hindraf's initiatives from Nov 25, 2007 that these major events started to happen. Even as the momentum was gathering in the days prior, Hindraf was just another organisation.

In fact, most of us were hardly aware of Hindraf prior to that. The people were galvanised into action only from Nov 25. Hindraf had existed for several years prior to that and had been struggling - and very hard at that - as just another organisation till Nov 25, 2007. Then the big things started to happen.

What all of this says is that the major successes of Hindraf have been possible only because of the ‘Great Wave' that was created beginning Nov 25, 2007. Without the ‘wave' there would be nothing significantly different today.

The people rallied behind Hindraf because of an ideal. The ideal is this - confront injustice without fear. Confront the injustices of police brutality, the injustices of mindless demolition of places of worship, the injustices of a careless government and the injustices of an apartheid-type system.

That fearless confrontation touched the people at the core of their souls and created a groundswell of support of tsunami proportions. This unexpectedly resulted in almost complete unity among the Indians in the country. The unity the Indians needed as a minority ethnic group to be able to have more say over their destinies.

The kind of unity needed to stop the destruction of the places of worship, to stop the continuing impoverishment of a large majority of Indians, to stop the denial of access to quality education, to end a system that marginalises as policy, to stop the continuing bullying both by thugs from within and without and to begin the process towards winning their rightful place under the sun, here in Malaysia.

That is the ideal Hindraf needs to continue to stand for. It is that ideal that Uthayakumar stands for and which today resonates in the hearts of millions of people. Hindraf has created such a resonance within the hearts of our people.

When we have the courage to stand up and speak up for the people, the people respond with their hearts and souls. Only possible, only possible, I repeat, because of the ideal Hindraf was created on.

As long as Hindraf does not abandon the path towards this ideal, Hindraf will get continuing support from the people.

Hindraf's focus must be to continue to confront injustice wherever and whenever it occurs, courageously and consistently. Hindraf must use the position that was created in the period up to November 2007 now to take this on to more larger and substantial issues of injustice.

This then should become Hindraf's central strategy. Continue to confront injustice, and continue to build synergy. Continue to have the people solidly behind Hindraf and push against the injustices in the system and create national change in the process.

The inertia of the system, however, is great. So one must not be deluded into thinking that the next initiatives will easily bear fruits. There are many challenges and obstacles ahead.

There is much work to be done. Only by having the people solidly behind Hindraf can Hindraf yet move ahead and contribute to national change


Umno a racist party, PKR leader tells Malays

Umno is a racist party that had divided and ruled Malaysia for more than 50 years by playing, albeit dangerously, the communal cards, accused a leading PKR leader.

MCPXAzmin Ali, a former Umno leader who is now PKR vice-president, said the ruling party had exploited the issue of income disparity for its own ends and generated a fear syndrome among Malaysians.

“This has split Malaysians and the country along communal lines, which Pakatan Rakyat is now trying to mend.

“All Malaysians should reject Umno’s racism and move ahead as one community, one nation,” the Gombak parliamentarian told a by-election rally in Kubang Semang, Penanti last night.

Describing the New Economy Policy (NEP) as a noble idea conceived to improve the standard of living of all poor Malaysians, he accused Umno of abusing the policy to the extend that it had even marginalised the key target group, the Malays.

“The racist implementation of NEP has not only marginalised Indian and Chinese communities, but also the majority of the Malays,” he said, accusing Umno of advocating patronage politics through NEP.

“In name of the Malays, Umno has politicised the policy to benefit a handful few who have strong links to the ruling elites.

“Umno’s racist policy has forsaken the majority of Malaysians, especially those from the lower-income group,” he told some 3,000-odd largely Malay crowd.

The by-election for the state seat of Penanti sees a four-cornered fight between PKR’s Mansor Othman and three independents – Aminah Abdullah, Kamarul Ramizu Idris and Nai Khan Ari.

Campaigning will end at midnight tonight and polling is tomorrow.

Back clean leaders, even if they’re non-Malay

Instead of helping poor Malays, Azmin alleged Umno had preferred to keep squatter colonies for its political gains.

He said Umno had used the poor living condition of Malay squatters as bait to fish votes during elections by making “empty promises of aid and development”.

“Don’t ever think that all Malays benefited from NEP. The majority of them were sidelined and neglected while only a selected few gained from it,” accused Azmin, who is also the Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyperson.

Calling for the dismantling of the NEP, he said Pakatan would replace it with a new national economic agenda that would “manage, distribute and share the country’s wealth equally among all Malaysians”.

Azmin called on the Malays to reject Malay leaders who are corrupt, such as former Selangor menteri besar Mohd Khir Toyo, and put their trust on clean and trustworthy leaders, even if they are non-Malay.

He cited the example of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

“The state government under Guan Eng did not steal any Malay land or money under the pretext of development.

“But corrupt Umno governments in other states have committed all these wrongdoings against Malays over the years,” he said.

Azmin also called on the Penang Pakatan government to carry out a thorough study to explore ways to uplift the standards of living of all marginalised segments of the populace, especially the Malays and Indians.

“This would help address the disparity in wealth among Penang people,” he said.


Malaysian Police officers lodging report against MP's for Najib, joke of the century

ASP Norazizi bin Saad took a statement from me following a police report lodged by Chief Inspector Pang Meng Tuck, CID, Seberang Perai Tengah Police, on 25th May 2009 that my Penanti ceramah speech at Guar Perahu, Kubang Semang on Sunday night (24th May) was sedition and criminal defamation against the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

In my speech, I had blamed Najib as being responsible for Perak political and constitutional crisis because of an unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab, resulting in the expansion of the crisis of confidence, with one national institution after another, such as the Police, Election Commission, MACC, civil service, judiciary compromising their credibility and legitimacy just serve Najib’s political agenda.

In Najib’s Malaysia, speaking the truth has become sedition criminal defamation. Darkness descending on Malaysia. Malaysians must not be cowed.

What is shocking is that this police report against me for sedition and criminal defamation did not come from some members of the public, but by the Police itself. Insp. Pang’s report was on the directive of senior police officers, ASP Subramaniam Sanaassy and ACP Nasir Salleh.

Lim Kit Siang

Malaysian AG & IGP setting up the stage for Anwar's sodomy trial

The recent efforts to smear the reputation of former Kuala Lumpur CID chief Mat Zain Ibrahim is to help shore up the attorney-general’s position ahead of July’s sodomy trial, said Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The sodomy trial, Anwar’s second in 10 years, will kick off on July 1 and the hearing will continue for three weeks.

Without deliberating much on the trial, parliamentary opposition leader Anwar indicated that he would certainly raised the issue of the alleged fabrication of evidence in his black-eye case during the trial.

AG Abdul Gani Patail and inspector-general of police Musa Hassan are both embroiled in the infamous 1998 black-eye episode for allegedly tampering with evidence in the bid to protect the culprits who had assaulted Anwar while he was held in police custody.

“The personal attack on Mat Zain is an effort to strengthen AG’s position and defence in my upcoming trial,” said Anwar, the Permatang Pauh parliamentarian.

Given that the testimony of Mat Zain, who had led the investigation into the black-eye incident, would be vital, Anwar believes a concerted character assassination campaign is being carried out against the retired top cop.

He said the May 14 bankruptcy notice against Mat Zain was issued a month after the former CID chief had submitted an appeal to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission seeking a review to the findings of the three-member independent panel which cleared Gani and Musa of criminal wrongdoings in the black-eye incident.

Mat Zain’s bankruptcy order was widely reported in the media on Wednesday, which prompted the former chief investigating officer in the police force to suggest that “powerful hidden hands” were at work to destroy his credibility.

"It would only enhance my resolve to disclose the whole truth of the 'black-eye' episode. Believe me, this is not the only case the duo (Gani and Musa) had their fingers in. There are others which are just as sensational. The truth shall prevail," Mat Zain had vowed.

Speaking to journalists after a Pakatan Rakyat rally in Mengkuang Titi during Penanti by-election last night, Anwar described the smear campaign was to spook Mat Zain from testifying in the upcoming trial.

“I sympathise with him ... I know he is upset, and feel alone and embarrassed. (But) he has the courage from the very beginning to reveal the truth,” said Anwar, the PKR supremo.

Malays urged to reject ‘racist’ Umno

On July 7 last year, Anwar filed a police report accusing Gani, Musa and one Dr Abdul Rahman Yusof and Mat Zain of falsifying a medical report on the black-eye incident.

“The issue of fabrication of evidence involving top public officers in the country is a serious issue,” said Anwar.

Earlier at the political rally, Anwar slammed Umno of being intolerant of non-Malays where many of them were arrested during a series of candlelight vigils. He called on Malays to denounce such an arrogant show of power.

Anwar added that the recent police raid on DAP headquarters in Petaling Jaya exposed Umno’s racism where it is widely seen as an attempt to crack down on a leading predominantly Chinese party.

“Umno is trying to demonstrate that it can wield its power at will against the non-Malays. Malays should be ashamed of this.

“The Malay populace shall only revere a Malay leadership which has earned respect from non-Malays through its goodwill, not by abusing its power and acting unjustly,” he told the 500 mostly Malay crowd at the ceramah.

Anwar also questioned the sincerity of Umno in seeking to win over the non-Malay electorate on one hand while “victimising” them at the same time.

“Is this the leadership that the Malays want? A true Malay Muslim citizen should reject such leadership,” said the Pakatan leader.


Anwar ticks off Najib: Stop bullying the Chinese and Indians

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim ticked off Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Umno party for bullying the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia, saying they were unfit to lead the country if they could resort to such bigotry and intimidation just to cling to power.

The reform icon said this was evident in the way Najib had not bothered to chase up on the murder of Kugan Ananthan, a 22-year old car thief suspect who was tortured to death by the police while in remand.

Najib, who at that time was PM-in-waiting, had intervened by getting the Attorney-General to re-classify the case as murder. However, since assuming office in April, he has remained silent on the case, allowing the police to delay and wriggle out of the situation.

The Perak Crisis
In particular, Anwar pointed at the recent police raid on the DAP’s headquarters in Petaling Jaya and the string of arrests against the mostly Chinese protesters over the Perak crisis.

“Umno is trying to demonstrate that it can wield its power at will against the non-Malays. Malays should be ashamed of this,” he told a crowd of most Malays at a political lecture.

“The Malay populace should only revere a Malay leadership which has earned respect from non-Malays through its goodwill, not from abusing its power and acting unjustly.”

Since Najib personally hatched the unpopular power grab in Perak, police have made 157 arrests directly related to the turmoil in state.

This exceeds the 106 detentions made by the police under the notorious Operations Lalang, a swoop launched by ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad in 1987. Like Najib, Mahathir had also used racial dissent as an excuse to consolidate his grip on power.

Anwar also accused Najib of racial and political hypocrisy. While Najib went around inviting the Chinese and Indians to be a part of his 1Malaysia, he was at the same time getting his cousin and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to arrest and pick on both ethnic groups.

“Is this the leadership that the Malays want? A true Malay Muslim citizen should reject such leadership,” asked Anwar.


Perak hunger strike: 4,500 signatures, more salvos ahead

Pakatan Rakyat ended its three-day hunger strike to protest Prime Minister Najib Razak’s power grab in Perak, with Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin promising more and harder salvos ahead.

The hunger strike began on Tuesday amid chaos and harsh police action that culminated in 21 arrests including seven assemblymen and one member of Parliament.

But despite the time wasted in the police lock-up and reorganising themselves afer the police left their preparations in tatters, Pakatan still managed to collect 4,500 signatures during the 72-hour protest.

They plan more signature campaigns to petition the Sultan to dissolve the state legislative assembly and call for fresh election.

The Pakatan has promised the people of Perak to battle on for their democratic right to choose their own leaders after Najib launched an unpopular coup d’etat on Feb 6.

Although four months have passed, more than 90 percent of Perakians have rejected Najib’s chosen chief minister Zambry Kadir and are clamouring for a snap election.

Suara Keadilan appends below the comments of Pakatan leaders who attended the closing ceremony of the three-day hunger strike, the first-ever launched by the coalition on such a large scale.

Nizar Jamaluddin, Pakatan Menteri Besar of Perak
Unlike the other freedom fighters in the world, we have only fasted for three days. This shows that Pakatan’s fight is only at the starting point.

We must continue for the good of our future generation. Barisan Nasional tried to turn the people against us by saying that hunger strikes are against our religion but they are not right. If through fasting, one is able to create awareness of the tyranny and injustices in the world, then it is highly acceptable.

Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief Minister
Although BN Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir is occupying the state head seat, he knows that the people are not acknowledging him as the legitimate Menteri Besar.

PKR will win two-thirds majority if the state election is called and they are afraid as they know they are in the wrong. Although the police and state BN machinery are backing them, we are not afraid as the truth is with us.

Nga Kor Ming, MP for Taiping and assemblyman for Pantai Remis
We also collected 4,500 signatures from the public during this 72-hour period, showing their support for the dissolution of the state assembly. Democracy will once again be alive in Perak with the support of Perakians.

Although leaders from MCA and Gerakan have supported the call for fresh state elections in Perak, Umno prefers to remain silent on the issue while MIC is sleeping on the matter.

Two outstanding people had participated in the hunger strike - one is a blind contractor Hah Kuang Yoong aged 60 who went blind about five years ago, and the youngest child of PAS state treasurer Dr Khairuddin Abdul Malik, Fatin Sakinah aged nine.

PKFZ report handed to MACC: But after that what happens?

Port Klang Authority chairman Lee Hwa Beng has handed over the audit report on the Port Klang Free Zone to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for further action.

Lee told reporters he spent about 10 minutes with MACC deputy commissioner Abu Kassim Mohammad.

While he pledged full co-operation with the MACC, Lee said he would leave it to the anti-graft body to investigate before taking further action of its own.

On Thursday, the PKA finally released the audit report compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The massive PKFZ project, dubbed a white elephant, has been hit by trouble and scandal since its launching in 2002.

Massive cost over-runs and conflict of interest

Initially slated to cost RM1.9 billion, unexplained over-runs have lifted the final figure several fold.

According to PwC, the project outlay of RM4.947 billion has gone up to RM7.453 billion due to interest payments, and PKA must restructure its loan or the final bill could balloon to RM12.453 billion by 2051.

A long string of BN politicians have also been implicated in the long-standing scandal including former MCA president Ling Liong Sik and ex-Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy.

The PwC report itself names Deputy Finance Minister Chor Chee Heung, Backbenchers Club chairman and Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing and Semanta assemblyman Abdul Rahman Palil for possible conflict of interest in the project..

For example, Tiong is the majority shareholder of Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd, the turnkey contractor for the project.

PwC also exposed land purchases at a ’special prices’ that were way above market value, saying that Kuala Dimensi may have also overcharged interest between RM51 million to RM309 million.

But will the MACC do its job, or will PKFZ slither away like the Lingam Tape?

Completed on Feb 3, 2009, the report blamed weak governance, project management together with conflict of interest for the problems at PKFZ.

The project was modelled after the Jebel Ali free trade zone in the United Arab Emirates. It is the Malaysian government’s biggest investment ever in the port industry. PKA, a government agency under the Transport Ministry, is the project overseer.

Meanwhile, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang has called for immediate investigation and action from the MACC.

“Feel utterly violated at manner public funds squandered in PKFZ scandal. Real rip-off. Imagine what RM13billion can do for the country,” Kit Siang said on Friday.

The Pakatan Rakyat leader has been relentless in pushing Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government to account for the fiasco.

Like many Malaysians, he is reserving judgement despite the MACC investigation as the anti-graft body itself has been proven to be subservient to Najib’s Umno-BN coalition.

Said Kit Siang: “I would not say anything until I have the opportunity to study the PwC report, except to say that the first thing I would look for is whether the PwC report furnish answers to five questions on the PKFZ scandal which I posed to Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, on 9th April last year.”

Five golden questions

The quesions raised by Lim were:

1. Was it true that when the Port Klang Authority and the Transport Ministry insisted on buying the 1,000 acres of Pulau Indah land for PKFZ at RM25 psf on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis, in the face of strong objection by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Treasury which had recommended that the land be acquired at RM10 psf, the Cabinet had given its approval subject to two conditions: (i) categorical assurance by the Transport Minister that the PKFZ proposal was feasible and self-financing and would not require any public funding; and (ii) that every RM100 million variation in the development costs of PKFZ would require prior Cabinet approval.

2. In the event, the first condition was breached when the PKFZ project ballooned from RM1.1 billion to RM4.6 billion requiring government intervention and bailout while the second condition was breached with the original PKFZ development costs of RM400 million ballooning to RM2.8 billion without any prior Cabinet approval ever sought for every RM100 million increase in development costs.

3. The Transport Minister had unlawfully issued four Letters of Support to Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd (KDSB), the PKFZ turnkey contractor - to raise RM4 billion bonds, which were regarded as government guarantees by the market. The Transport Minister had no such powers to issue financial guarantees committing the government, as it could only be issued by the Finance Minister and only after Cabinet approval. The first Letter of Support was issued by the former Transport Minister, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik on May 28, 2003, which was Liong Sik’s last day as Transport Minister while the other three were issued by Kong Choy.

4. Whether it wasn’t true that in recognition that the four unlawful “Letters of Support” of the Transport Minister had nonetheless given implicit government guarantee to the market that the Cabinet had in middle of last year gave retrospective approval for the unlawful and unauthorized four Letters of Support by the Transport Ministers in the past four years creating RM4.6 billion liability for the government in the bailout of PKFZ.

5. Why no action had been taken against the two previous Transport Ministers, both Liong Sik and Kong Choy, as well as the government officials responsible for the unlawful issue of the four “Letters of Support” - getting the government embroiled in the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal?


Audit: PKFZ cost to balloon up to RM12bil

The PKFZ audit report said the project outlay has ballooned from RM1.96 billion when the free-trade zone was conceived in 2001 to a staggering RM12 billion.

According to the report prepared by PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) - which was released today - the astronomical figure includes mounting interest costs.

"The original estimated cost for the land purchase and development works in 2001 was RM1.957 billion... (the) project outlay has escalated to RM3.522 billion as at Dec 31, 2008.

"Interest cost of the deferred payments to KDSB (Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd) amounted to RM1.425 billion resulting in a total project outlay of RM4.947 billion.

"PKA (Port Klang Authority) was unable to fund its obligations to KDSB from its own resources when the first scheduled payment was due in 2007.

"PKA secured a 20-year soft loan of RM4.632 billion from MOF (Ministry of Finance), of which RM4.382 billion is available for draw down.

"This loan would impose an additional interest cost of RM2.506 billion resulting in a total project outlay of RM7.453 billion," said the report.

However, it states that cashflow projections by PKA indicates that it would be unable to service its loan installments between 2012 and 2041, thereby attracting additional interest of another RM5 billion.

This will bring the total project outlay to a whopping RM12.453 billion by year 2051.

The report added that PKA can however avoid or reduce the extra RM5 billion interest cost on two conditions - that (1) it can restructure the MOF soft loan and (2) make the project viable.

Other highlights of the report:
The land was purchased by PKA at a price of RM25 psf (per square feet) on the basis that the land was of special value, despite that the Property Evaluation and Services Department had valued the land at RM10.16 psf in August 2001.

The report noted several weaknesses in the governance and project management.

The report also said that there had been failures to inform cabinet over several key decisions.

This include the failure of the transport minister to inform the cabinet about PKA's inability to pay for the project out of its own funds.

"In May 2004, PKA was aware that it was not able to meet the cabinet's condition on self-financing. PKA should have alerted the cabinet of this important fact.

"To compound the issue, PKA entered into other very significant development agreements thereafter."

It lamented that many important decisions were made without the port authority board's oversight.

"Key agreements were not submitted to the board for approval. The agreements were signed under common seal without prior authorisation."

MACC report tomorrow
Speaking at a press conference to release the report, PKA chairperson Lee Hwa Beng said that he will meeting with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency tomorrow.

Lee said that he was instructed to do so by Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat.

"The transport minister has instructed me to lodge a report with the MACC tomorrow morning at 8am," said Lee.

Lee said that the audit report was not targeted at any particular individuals, and it was up to the MACC to act on its findings.

The report was available to the public from today until June 10 where it can be obtained from the PKA headquarters, or from a special website which hosts the 45-page document.

Lee said that the report was not hosted on the PKA official website because it would incur extra cost and a special server had to be rented to host the document for the public to download.

Meanwhile, the seven-volume appendixes to the report can only be viewed beginning tomorrow at the PKA headquarters during office hours. There are only 15 hard copies available.

Conditions set by auditors
Accompanying Lee to the press conference today was auditors PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) managing director Chin Kwai Fatt and PwC partner, Lim San Pin.

The two were there to verify that the publicly-released report was not tampered with and released in its entirety.

However, Lee said that PwC normally does not grant permission for their reports to be made public and thus the firm was releasing the report with three conditions:

That the reader is not authorised to use or rely on the report to arrive at any conclusion.

PwC has prepared the report for PKA. Their duty of care is only to PKA and PwC does not owe a duty of care to any other party.

PwC is not obliged to respond to any queries.

Despite these conditions, Lee heralded the release of the report as a historic moment.

"This is the first time in the history of Malaysia that an audit by a foreign firm is being released to the public in its entirety," he said.

Immediate actions needed
The audit report detailed a litany of "weak governance and weak project management", which it said have severely undermined the viability of the project.

It recommended PKA to take immediate actions to restucture the Finance Ministry's RM4.632 billion soft loan to avoid a potential default in three years.

"The project's actual occupancy of 14% is low and is not generating sufficient revenue to cover its operation expenses," it warned.

It added that PKA may not have received value for money due to its heavy reliance on KDSB as turnkey developer.

"The development contracts totalling RM1.846 billion were all awarded to KDSB without competitive bids."

Contracts of as much as RM1 billion were also given on the basis of estimated amounts and without detailed building plans.

Part of the project should have been done in multiple phases over eight years instead of having the entire project completed in two years, said the report.

It found that only 77 lots of the 512 Light Industrial Units were rented out as of Dec 31, 2008.

The report also said that PKA could have saved half a billion ringgit had it purchased the land for the project through cash basis by issuing government-guaranteed bonds instead of deferred payment basis which incurred high interest.

There is also the potential interest overcharge of up to RM309 million in connection to the purchase of the land.

"KDSB may have wrongly compounded its interest from PKA using a half-yearly compounding method instead of a 'simple' (non-compoundable) annual basis," it said.


PKFZ report: Three top politicians named

Three ruling politicians have been named in the damning Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) audit report, two of whom for possible conflict of interest involving the controversial project.
The trio are Deputy Finance Minister Chor Chee Heung, Backbenchers Club chairperson and Bintulu parliamentarian Tiong King Sing and Semanta state assemblyperson Abdul Rahman Palil.

Chor (right) had served as chairperson of the Port Klang Authority (PKA) - the managing authority of PKFZ - from April 2007 to March 2008.

The audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) alleged that Chor was potentially in conflict of interest as he was involved in a private company which is a main contractor in the PKFZ project.

According to the report, Chor served as deputy chairperson of Wijaya Baru Global Berhad (WBGB) from April 2004 to July 2007.

WBGB is the parent company of Wijaya Baru Sdn Bhd (WBSB), which in turn is the main contractor to turnkey developer Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd.

“Minutes of the (PKA) board did not indicate that Chor either declared his previous involvement in WBGB to the (PKA) board or withdrew himself from deliberations,” said the 45-page report.

Chor is also currently the member of parliament for Alor Star and was deputy home minister until April this year before he was moved to the Finance Ministry.

Efforts by Malaysiakini to contact Chor for his comments were unsuccessful.

Tiong a key owner of turnkey developer

Meanwhile, the report said Abdul Rahman was a PKA board member from 1997 to 2003, and also president of Koperasi Pembangunan Pulau Lumut Bhd (KPPLB) - the original landowners of PKFZ project site.

“At one (PKA) board meeting, Abdul Rahman declared his position as the president of KPPLB and queried the proposal for compulsory acquisition of the land over direct purchase.

“Given that compulsory acquisition would have benefited PKA, the rationale for Abdul Rahman raising the query is unclear,” read the report.

Abdul Rahman is the current Sementa state assemblyperson and was Selangor state executive council member when Barisan Nasional was in power in the state.

Meanwhile, Tiong was named as a 32 percent shareholder of WBGB, which has a 45 percent stake in WBSB - the main contractor to the turnkey developer.

Tiong is also 70 percent shareholder of WBHSB, which is the sole proprietor of Kuala Dimensi, the turnkey developer.

The report however does not make any reference to Tiong as having any conflict of interest.

Quantity surveyor and law firm too

Another party cited for possible conflict of interest is quantity surveyor consortium Perunding BE Sdn Bhd. The company was appointed by PKA to assess the final cost for the project, but it was previously acted for Kuala Dimensi.

The report also named legal firm Rashid Asari & Co for possible conflict of interest.

According to PwC, the firm was appointed PKA’s legal advisory, but it was also acted in the sale of same land by KPPLB to Kuala Dimensi in 1995.

“Good practice would require this earlier involvement to be declared to the PKA board prior to the firm’s appointment as PKA’s legal advisory,” said the report.

SPECIAL REPORT: Poser over mega 'ghost town'

Husam Musa, The man like Anwar Ibrahim able to unite Malaysians

Husam Musa, particularly in the state legislative term 2004-2008, trimmed and streamlined the procedural requirements for starting up in business in Kelantan - a move that benefited small and medium-sized concerns.

This raft of measures and the acumen Husam showed in rolling them out marked him for elevation, not just in party and state but also at the level of Pakatan Rakyat, an outfit not exactly endowed with riches when it comes to talent among its notables.

Husam’s extra-party prominence has brought on him added fusillades from detractors within PAS who look askance at his supposed closeness to PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim, regarded by some quarters in PAS as a covert secularist, one adept at using the forms of Islamic discourse to garner support from Muslim activists and turn their extensive organisational network to secular advantage - in sum, the quintessential Erdogan.

“If Anwar can unite the races as he has demonstrated and if he can draw the votes for Pakatan to take power in this country, I see no reason why he cannot be prime minister, especially if the reform agenda that this country so badly needs can then be worked,” opined Husam.

“The way he has been treated since his sacking from Umno is a disgrace to any citizen concerned about how things are done in this country.

"I don’t have to be carry a torch for him to have an opinion like that,” sniffed Husam, his disdain for the methods employed by the powers-that-be against the former deputy prime minister evident in his tone.

Husam’s rising prominence and imputed links to Anwar has had its downside: he has become the target of more than the usual dose of resentment, backbiting and vilification that is the lot of a fast-rising politico, even for one in an Islamist party zealous about keeping its ranks free of the sordid and grubby plays that are the common coin of the political arena.

“I cried,” said Husam improbably, about an incident where his tardiness in paying a RM200 utility bill saw graft busters scouring his home, pouring over bills and documents in search of a speck that could to bring down the high-flyer.

In the line of ulama fire
It’s hard to imagine that Husam, 48, can be a soft touch. A striking looking man with a guardsman’s height and bristling moustache that hints at toughness underneath, Husam, in public encounters, radiates calm and a poise that’s very nearly irenic.

The calm has been buffeted the last few months by petards launched at him on the Internet for his having the temerity to shape up for a position in the party considered as the exclusive domain of ulama for some three decades.

With the announcement earlier this week of his acceptance - following months of playing coy - of nominations to contest the party’s No 2 post, Husam Musa, dyed-in-the-wool scion of ulama, has placed himself squarely in the line of clerical fire.

However, Islam recognises no clergy, so the principle of clerical supersession of the laity in politics is tenuous at best.

That suits Husam’s instincts for he appears to believe that while revelation provides him with the essential truths with which to navigate the world, interpretation of these truths is not fixed.

This must have been what he sensed in an intuitive way years ago when he hastened to his dying father’s side from the airport in Kota Baru where he was to take a flight to Saudi Arabia. Ustaz Musa Yahya was rushed to the hospital after a road accident the same evening of his eldest son’s departure for abroad.

The previous day, after evening prayers the father’s last sermon, written out as usual, dwelt on the subject of death. The homily was in the brief and unadorned style characteristic of Musa senior.

As Husam bent low over his father’s mortally injured body, hoping to speak or listen to a few last words, all he could hear were the muffled gasps of laboured respiration.

Both father and son had been close, more in an intuitive than demonstrative way which is why for Husam, the religion imbibed from his father could never be a matter of rites only, because, as one famous critic of religion observed, the sure way to destroy a flock of sheep is through teaching it incantations, and slipping in with it a certain quantity of arsenic.

To Husam, in all his compelling intellection, notable achievement, considerable valor and not-a-little frailty, it has been a lifelong mission to mind the incantations and watch out for the arsenic that now and then tends to be slipped in.

Sabah discriminated by BN government

KOTA KINABALU: The Barisan Nasional (BN) Government is discriminating Sabah when it comes to providing the needed development, in particular, energy supplies, said Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).

SAPP Wanita Chief Melanie Chia said it is evidence when the Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), a Government Linked Company (GLC), which has been monopolising energy supply in the country, has confirmed that power from Bakun dam in Sarawak is very unlikely to be channeled to Sabah .

"Is this another confirmation of the disparity managed by the Barisan Nasional Government," Melanie, who is also Luyang Assemblywoman asked in a statement, here, today.

She said Sabah also deserved to be supplied with energy from either Bakun dam or another dam in Sarawak, Murun dam, and not only peninsula due to our power problems, which persistently hit all over the State since the last 30 years.

"Why energy generated from Bakun goes all the way to Peninsula and not Sabah?" she asked adding Sabah needed energy more than Peninsula because West Malaysia probably has sufficient supply while Sabah are in dire needs.

She said there is no reason not to channel energy to Sabah from Bakun or Murun when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had recently said that part of the energy from Bakun goes to Indonesia .

In addition, a minister has also indicated that energy from Murun will be exported to Brunei...more


Zaid attacks racial overtones in anti-Chin Peng campaign

Chin Peng – former leader of the Communist Party of Malaya.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former communist leader Chin Peng laid down arms 20 years ago, and on April 30, he lost his final bid in the Federal Court to return to Malaysia, but in recent weeks Umno leaders and media controlled by the party have turned him once again into the country’s “Public Enemy No. 1”.

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, a former Umno Cabinet minister, expressed concern today over the racial overtones of the campaign to prevent Chin Peng from coming home.

“According to Rais Yatim and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi there is a new enemy — the group that wants to revive communism. The ministers may have come to this conclusion because there are a few Chinese who want Chin Peng to be allowed home,” the former de facto law minister wrote on his blog today.

Rais, the information minister, and Ahmad Zahid, the defence minister, both claimed this week there were moves to revive communism.

Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian have also been running anti-Chin Peng stories on a daily basis in what appears to be a campaign to whip up a sense of nationalism among readers.

Former security forces veterans are also being interviewed to rail against the “evils of communism”.

Rais also said this week that RTM would start airing documentaries on the “cruelty” of the communists.

Writing in his weekly column in Berita Harian, Datuk Abdul Rahman Sulaiman, a former MP and a media advisor in the Najib administration, claimed that the principles of freedom of speech and democracy were fronts to revive communism.

He added that the tendency of the opposition to speak of a class struggle by using specific terms such as "ruling elite", "Umno elite", "Umnoputras" and "marginalised groups" reflected the same pattern.

The anti-communist campaign so far suggests an attempt to paint a picture of the Chinese community as sympathisers.

It also appears to include the portrayal of Malay Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders such as ousted Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin as a communist sympathiser because of his close ties with the Chinese-dominated DAP.

Zaid, who was sacked from Umno and who is expected to join a PR party, defended those who have pleaded for Chin Peng to return to Malaysia.

“Many are sympathetic to Chin Peng’s aspiration to return home and die. This does not mean they want to revive communism.”

He pointed out also that even the Chinese in China were now practising free market capitalism as are the Chinese community in Malaysia.

“So what is the motive of Umno in making a big issue of communism? Don’t cause friction among the people by creating a new enemy.

“I wonder if Chin Peng were a Malay, would our stand and emotions be the same?”

Zaid noted that Utusan Malaysia was campaigning aggressively against Chin Peng, and while he agreed that the former communist leader was “cruel,” he pointed out the “cruel” communists included former fighters such as Rashid Maidin and Shamsiah Fakeh who were allowed to return home to Malaysia.


DAP wants PKFZ to close shop to cut further losses

PORT KLANG: The DAP wants the government to cut its losses in Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) that faces at least RM8.6 billion in future losses and have asked it to close shop, even if it means declaring the Port Klang Authority (PKA) bankrupt.

After a team led by its parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang had spent four hours at the PKA headquarters perusing the full report on the RM7.5 billion already spent, they concluded that the government should "bite the bullet and end the project, even if it means declaring PKA bankrupt."

Party information chief Tony Pua explained that if the statutory body liquidated its assets, it could reduce losses to around RM3 billion from the RM4.6 billion already sunk in by the Treasury.

According to the report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), PKA is already servicing a government loan but operating losses will see it unable to meet payments by 2012.

It will only turn around in 2042. By then, it would have racked up a shortfall of RM3.6 billion in cash.

PKA will need to refinance the loan and lose RM5 billion in interest payments, resulting in a total RM8.6 billion bailout by the government.

"Even this is a best case scenario because the calculations are based on projections that PKA provided," Pua said.

He pointed out that according to these same forecasts, PKA had expected 20 per cent occupancy in the light industrial areas today, but it currently stands at 14 per cent.

He also disclosed that the only major shipping line using Port Klang as a regional hub, CMA CJM, was planning to move to Tanjung Pelepas in Johor, saying "expecting it to be 40 per cent in 2011 and then full occupancy in 2014 is extremely optimistic."

Lim had earlier expressed disappointment with the report as its scope was restricted and while it named a few "middling characters," he said "the bigger story is the top VIPs" who are "puppet masters."

"Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat had promised to tell all but knowing full well the questions posed before the report was commissioned, this is a grave injustice.

"We know it goes higher than this," he said, adding that a royal commission of inquiry should look into the roles of those in power when the project was being conceptualised in 1999 onwards.

This includes previous transport ministers Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy as well as then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

"It is an astronomical rip-off. The can of worms has turned out to be a pit of crocodiles and alligators," Lim declared.

He added that immediate action should be taken against those named in the report, including three active Barisan Nasional politicians, its backbenchers chief Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung and Sementa assemblyman Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil, who is a former Selangor state executive councillor.

He said that there was "no point" in filing a report at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng had done this morning.

"Our Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu has already lodged four police and MACC reports. What have they done? In fact, Liu will later lodge a report on MACC at the MACC," the Ipoh Timur MP added.

The party's Selangor vice-chairman Charles Santiago called for those involved to be suspended from their positions and have their bank accounts frozen pending investigations.

The Klang MP expressed shock at the amount of wastage and believes there has been political pressure and collusion to keep the 10-year saga quiet.

"It is a colossal failure of our regulators and governance," he said.

"Given the global and financial crisis that has hit Malaysia's shores, RM7.5 billion is more than the government's first stimulus package and RM12.5 billion is over one-fifth of the second package."

Bawa balik Balasubramaniam, siasat semula akuan bersumpah!

KUALA LUMPUR: Angkatan Muda KeADILan Selangor menggesa agar pihak kerajaan dan Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) membawa segera penyiasat persendirian Balasubramaniam a/l Perumal yang masih berada di luar negara.

Gesaan ini adalah untuk membantu siasatan berkenaan kes pembunuhan Altantuya Shaaribuu melalui Akuan Bersumpah bertarikh 1hb Julai 2008.

Ketuanya Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zainuddin mempertikaikan tindakan pantas pihak kerajaan yang begitu cepat meminta bantuan Interpol untuk mengesan dan membawa pulang Raja Petra Kamaruddin yang berada di luar negara sebaliknya dalam isu akuan bersumpah Balasubramaniam seolah-olah tiada berita dan perkembangan terkini.

"Kita juga membidas pihak-pihak tertentu yang mempolitikkan isu mengenai kembalinya ancaman Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM) berkaitan membawa pulang bekas Ketua PKM ke Malaysia.

"Isu ini ditimbulkan hanya strategi politik 'desperado' sesetengah pihak Umno/BN yang berusaha membakar hati dan perasaan bekas anggota keselamatan,keluarga dan rakyat Malaysia untuk menyokong kembali Umno/BN yang semakin hilang sokongan dan dokongan rakyat Malaysia, " katanya dalam satu kenyataannya.

Beliau berharap penyiasat persendirian Balasubramaniam perlu dibawa pulang segera oleh kerajaan kerana akuan bersumpah yang pernah dibuatnya melibatkan individu yang sangat penting negara ini.

"Semakin melambatkan tindakan untuk membawa pulang selama itu juga nama baik individu yang sangat berprofil tinggi itu terus tercemar di peringkat nasional dan antarabangsa.

Katanya AMK Selangor berharap isu membawa pulang bekas ketua PKM ini tidak menjadi satu lagi isu sensasi politik pihak-pihak tertentu yang semakin hilang dari sokongan rakyat.

"Amat jelas isu ini sudah lama selesai dan tidak perlu ditimbulkan semula lagi. Kini rakyat Malaysia lebih bijak dan pintar dalam menganalisis sesuatu isu melalui perkembangan semasa revolusi maklumat global," katanya.


Perak crisis is a tragic comedy, bad political judgment & failure of political leadership

As it continues to spin out of control, it damages our democratic system of governance. To all intents and purposes, one of our most prosperous and developed states has been reduced to a failed state, with a possibly illegal state government in place. This is a condition that can propagate outwards to the rest of the country.

I stated at the beginning of this crisis that by our Constitution, a change of government can only be brought about by democratic means, which is to say, through the ballot box or through a formal vote of confidence in the elected Legislative Assembly. These are the constitutionally mandated means by which the people decide on their government.

Any other means of changing the government is unconstitutional and undemocratic, and subverts the basis upon which we are a civilised society.

We now have reason to fear the loss of the people’s confidence in the Constitution, in democracy and in our constitutional monarchy. Responsible political leadership must support rather than destroy the confidence of the people in these practices and institutions. In particular, powers reserved for the Legislative Assembly, which represents the sovereign will of the people, cannot be taken away under any circumstances by anyone. This foundational constitutional principle has been affirmed by the Court. We are all sworn to uphold it. Those who do not understand or accept this principle have no place in government.

Some issues can be solved by a court of law, but the Perak crisis is not one of them. The back and forth events of the past week demonstrate this fact abundantly. The Perak crisis cannot be solved by a decision of the Court because it is at heart a political rather than a constitutional problem. There is really no doubt about what the Constitution says. What is now unclear as a result of an ugly series of manoeuvres is whether Perak has a legitimate government, and there is only one way to resolve that issue. Perhaps our political leadership has not understood how important it is that the people’s voice must prevail, and be seen to prevail, in the choice of their government.

The only solution to the Perak crisis now is for the State Legislative Assembly to be dissolved and free and fair elections held. At this stage there is no other way to restore both public confidence and constitutional legality to the Perak state government, and by extension to our entire system of government.

Our survival as a democratic and constitutional monarchy depends on our acceptance of the judgment of the people as expressed in free and fair elections. Any attempt to circumvent that judgment betrays the basic principles and values upon which our nation and incidentally, UMNO itself, stand. I appeal for wisdom and a broader concern for the wellbeing of our country.

Tengku Razaleigh

Pakatan ends hunger strike in Perak

IPOH: After 21 arrests and three days of hunger, Perak Pakatan Rakyat (PR) representatives have finally concluded their hunger strike.

Although most are aware that not eating for three days would do little for their cause, the representatives vowed that they were still determined to keep their struggle alive.

Former mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, in his speech at the programme’s closing ceremony here, told a crowd of black-clad representatives and supporters that the strike was only the beginning of PR’s fight for freedom.

“Unlike the other freedom fighters in the world, we have only fasted for three days. This shows that Pakatan’s fight is only at the starting point.

“We must continue for the good of our future generation,” he said.

Nizar also reiterated that the hunger strike was highly encouraged under Islamic law as it was sanctioned by Muslim scholars.

“Barisan Nasional tried to turn the people against us by saying that hunger strikes are against our religion but they are not right.

“If through fasting, one is able to create awareness of the tyranny and injustices in the world, then it is highly acceptable,” he said.

Perak DAP secretary Nga Kor Ming said PR had received a total of 210 pledges from the public who wanted to join in on the strike.

“We also collected 4,500 signatures from the public during this 72-hour period, showing their support for the dissolution of the state assembly,” he said.

He added that earlier today, a total of 300 cups of coffee had been served to those dressed in black.

The PR had offered free cups of kopi-o to those dressed in black at the mamak shop near the Wisma DAP premises here from 7am to 7pm.

Uniformed police personnel, who caught wind of the “promotion”, were also seen camping out at the shop.

Police presence around Medan Istana, where the strike’s programmes were taking place, had remained heavy throughout the day.

Meanwhile, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir too “broke fast” at the official mentri besar’s residence here at 7pm, around the same time as the PR.

According to Dr Zambry’s aid, the chief executive, along with several other Umno members and BN representatives too had gone on “puasa sunat”.

The aide denied that the fast was to counter PR’s hunger strike and steal media attention away from the closing ceremony of the strike.


UM backs Kugan autopsy report, his mum sues police

Universiti Malaya has backed the pathologist’s report on dead police detainee A. Kugan in a recent letter to the Health Ministry while his mother today filed a suit against the police for seizing specimens related to his second autopsy.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider today that the Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor’s office wrote to Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Ismal Merican last month, backing pathologist Dr Prashant N Sambekar’s autopsy report on Kugan who died on January 20 at the Taipan police station.

“The Universiti Malaya disputed Tan Sri Ismail’s report that came out on April 6 which dismissed the pathologist’s report. After all, this involves the university’s reputation,” the source said.

Dr Prashant’s report showed Kugan had died from a condition known as rhabdomyolysis, which is the rapid break-down of skeletal muscle tissue which will lead to kidney failure but the committee concluded he died due to water in the lungs or acute pulmonary edema, inflammation of heart muscles or acute myocarditis which was compounded by blunt force.

The first post mortem carried out at the Serdang Hospital by Dr Karim Tajuddin on January 21 stated Kugan’s cause of death as “acute pulmonary edema” or fluid in the lungs.

The source said the university did not make public the letter as it involved government agencies.

Universiti Malaya, the country’s oldest university with a reputable medical programme, is under the aegis of the Higher Education Ministry. The first autopsy was at the Serdang Hospital which is run by the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, Kugan’s mother N.Indra filed the suit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning, seeking the return of the specimens that were seized by police on April 6 after Dr Ismail made public the committee’s findings.

Family lawyer N.Surendran had last month said the family wants the specimens of organ parts, photographs and other materials returned as it has to be sent for further tests in Australia.

Police had said the documents obtained from the hospital would be used as evidence in police investigations into Kugan’s death which occurred five days after he was arrested on suspicion of car theft.

They took all files, pictures and samples from the second autopsy done on January 25 after flashing a search warrant.

Federal Criminal Investigation Director Datuk Seri Bakri Zinin told The Malaysian Insider police were instructed to make the seizures by the Attorney-General and the move was part of ongoing investigations into the case. Eleven policemen have been given desk duties in connection with the case.

In an eight-page report released to the press, Dr Ismail said the 10-men committee unanimously agreed there was no evidence to show that the deceased had been ‘branded’ or been given repeated application of heat with an instrument or object as reported in the second post mortem.

In their opinion the injuries were the result of repeated trauma by a blunt and flexible object, like a rubber hose.

The committee found that all injuries on Kugan were insufficient to directly cause death and the discrepancies in the two reports were due to the absence of communication between the two pathologists, the misinterpretation of post-mortem changes and some of the injuries by the second pathologist.

They concluded the discrepancy was not because of any foul reporting, misleading of information and there was no intention to hide information.

Dr Ismail said the differences in the number of external injuries found on Kugan, was because of different methodology used by the doctors. Dr Karim had tabulated 22 external injuries because he had grouped them by regions while Dr Prashant had listed some individually and some in groups, on the body.
Malaysian Insider

A weakened Prime Minister Najib seeks to quell dissent

After little more eight weeks in power, the Malaysian government headed by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has started to come down hard on protesters and the opposition, going so far as to order police to raid the opposition Democratic Action Party headquarters Friday without a warrant. It appears to be the first such raid, as far as can be determined, on an opposition party headquarters in the country’s history.

Following his April 3 anointment as prime minister, Najib at first publicly pledged cooperation with the always-tense minority Chinese and Indian communities, freeing several protesters from detention under the country’s stiff Internal Security Act, which allows for what in effect is indeterminate detention without writ of habeas corpus. He and his wife, Rosmah, made public appearances at minority community affairs.

However, tensions in the state of Perak, where Najib had engineered the ouster of the national opposition coalition from power by persuading three lawmakers to jump ship amid charges that their loyalty had been bought by the Barisan Nasional, or ruling national coalition, eventually put a stop to the nice guy act.

Government sources make the point that it’s hard for the opposition to summon indignation over the crossovers, pointing out that they had their genesis in the fact that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said he would seek to persuade 30 Barisan MPs to cross over to the opposition.

“There wasn’t any talk then of crossovers being immoral and undemocratic,” said a source in Kuala Lumpur. “Only when crossovers affected (the opposition coalition) did they start complaining about this being immoral and undemocratic. ”

A series of harsh police crackdowns

The series of tough police actions began on May 5 when Wong Chin Haut, a spokesman for the nonpartisan electoral reform group Bersih (Clean) was arrested at his home in Kuala Lumpur after calling a press conference earlier in the day to urge the public to wear black Wednesday to protest the Perak takeover.

Since that time, as many as 100 people have been arrested on various charges for anti-government protests, including 16 people last Thursday night for holding a candlelight vigil. Then they nabbed a handful of others a few hours later, apparently mistakenly, when they were holding a birthday party for Lim Swee Kuan, an assistant to DAP leader Lim Kit Siang.

That leads to the possibility that Malaysia is entering a particularly sensitive political period. The Barisan, which Najib heads as president of the United Malays National Organisation, has lost four of five by-elections and will lose a sixth on May 31 in the northern state of Kedah because they declined to field a candidate because of the certainty they would lose.

Najib himself, the subject of a series of scandals as defense minister that cost the public treasury hundreds of millions of dollars, and widely suspected of having a role in the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, for which two of his bodyguards were convicted, came to power even less popular than his predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“The opposition are ratcheting up the pressure because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that Najib is a much easier target than Pak Lah (Badawi)ever was,” said a long-time political observer with ties to the national coalition’s Malaysian Chinese Association. “Part of the pressure is due to the Barisan’s self-inflicted mess in Perak. But part of it is also the overwhelming confidence of the opposition who believe they are witnessing the dying days of the Barisan.”

But the opposition is no longer toothless

Since the country’s inception, the scattering of political parties that make up Malaysia’s opposition have been largely toothless, composed of extremely disparate organizations - the DAP, a Chinese chauvinist party and Parti Islam se-Malaysia, a fundamentalist and largely rural Islamic party.

Over the last couple of years, however, the two have been joined together into an unlikely three-party coalition by Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the People’s Justice Party, a largely urban ethnic Malay party headed by onetime finance minister and deputy prime minister Anwar.

The opposition coalition, called Pakatan Rakyat, broke the Barisan’s historic two-thirds hold on power in the parliament in March 2008 elections and won five statehouses as well including Perak and Selangor, two of Malaysia’s most prosperous and populous states.

That belief on the part of the newly empowered opposition that it could actually drive the government from power doesn’t just mean a change in the political equation. It would mean the ethnically dominant Malays, who make up about 55 percent of the population, would probably lose the privileged political position that was given to them in the wake of disastrous race riots in 1969, which killed hundreds of people.

The New Economic Policy which was passed to attempt to improve their economic position is in effect an affirmative action for the majority, and it remains a millstone around the country’s neck, creating a class of political cronies who have fattened themselves at the public trough through government contracts and executive positions at government-linked companies at the same time it has increased ethnic Malay ownership of some businesses, guaranteed government jobs for them and assured them primacy in government schools.

Anwar has publicly threatened to end the NEP, as it is known.

“The Malays have been complaining to the leadership that it’s all getting out of hand,” said a political operative with close ties to the so-called Mahathir wing of UMNO. “Surely, if Najib and UMNO are so weak, there must be renewed confidence to want to take these actions. Every other day, we get grassroots Malays asking to hit back. And that’s what we see.”

Don’t blame Abdullah, Najib is just as inept

Among the UMNO rank and file, the mindset is that Abdullah Badawi’s laxity in cracking down on dissent is what opened the floodgates for the kind of opposition that led to the Barisan’s disastrous showing in the March 2008 national election, and that there must be a return to the kind of firmness that former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad showed during his 22 years in power, which ended in 2003.

“They are aware that it isn’t possible to turn back the clock to the pre-Abdullah era, at least not cold turkey,” said another longtime UMNO operative. “I believe that they’re looking to find a middle ground - liberal, yet tough on unnecessary agitation. So you get mixed signals. They have released almost all detainees under the ISA. At the same time, they are cracking down on protests and such by using the “lesser” Sedition Act, illegal assembly laws and so on.”

Najib, the source said, “is still trying to find his feet. It would seem to me the current administration is trying to seek a ‘benevolent authoritarian’ government, where a little dissent is allowed but too much agitation lands you in court, or worse jail. And mind you, there are many Malaysians who would prefer it this way as they think that Abdullah gave too much freedom and this has mired the country in too much politicking which has diverted the country from the real business of managing itself.”

The question is whether the opposition will give the Barisan any chance to pull that off. While the crackdown is applauded inside UMNO, it is alienating the Chinese, who make up about 25 percent of the population, and Indians, who make up another 8 percent.

The MCA, the Chinese ethnic party that makes up the second-biggest party in the ruling coalition, has all but imploded, as has the Malaysian Indian Congress, especially after power was handed back to S. Samy Vellu, the long-time head of the party, after he lost his parliamentary seat because of perceptions he was out of touch with his constituency and was conspicuously flaunting wealth he did not appear to have earned.

The perception of political corruption wasn’t helped by the fact that after High Court Judge Aziz Rahim voided the ouster of the Petak chief minister by the Barisan on what appeared to be compelling legal grounds, the decision was reversed by an appellate court without addressing the high court’s arguments.

While the political chaos continues, Malaysia continues to slip into economic difficulty. The region’s third-largest economy, it is expected by Bank Negara, the central bank, to shrink by 1 percent or possibly grow by the same amount, with a US$19 billion stimulus program to attempt to prop it up.

“Najib is the first PM who is an economist,” a political commentator said. “On the economic front, he is showing a much more deft hand and moving in the right direction - liberalizing the economy. I don’t know whether his ineptness politically is due to the fact that he has always had his positions handed to him on a platter.

“He has never had to participate in the rough and tumble of Malaysian politics. He was appointed Chief Minister of Pahang, the youngest ever. He was made a cabinet minister and chosen as deputy prime minister by Adbullah Badawi, a choice foisted on him by Mahathir. Najib isn’t a stupid man. He must know all these arrests are politically unhelpful. He is reputed to have some media advisers, although no one seems to know who they are. These media advisers, whoever they are, can’t be happy with what is happening.”

Asia Sentinel

Waytha ticks off Najib for demonising Hindraf

Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy ticked off Prime Minister Najib Razak for failing to protect and advance the lot of the Indian community in Malaysia.

“Instead of looking into the genuine grievances raised by Hindraf and addressing them objectively, the government plays to the tune and sentiment of racialism as capitalised by certain elements,” Waythamoorthy said in a statement.

The Indian leader is in self-exile in London after fleeing certain arrest under Malaysia’s notorious Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite imprisonment without trial.

Five other leaders of the outlawed movement - a coalition of Indian rights groups and NGOs - were locked up in December 2007 after organising a mammoth rally the month before.

All five, including Waytha’s brother, Uthayakumar, were released only recently - two in April this year and three earlier this month.

Najib’s supporters have not been shy to ask the five to thank the PM for their freedom. However, Hindraf views their arrests to be illegal in the first place.

Said Waytha: “To date, Hindraf has been demonized by the government with all kinds of allegation and accusation, yet the government fails to see that Hindraf has created an awareness within the public with its sole objective is to ensure an equal and fair treatment in a nation that we call Malaysia.

“If the Prime Minister and his government is really working towards promoting unity, then it should take the trouble to engage all parties and voices genuinely and deepen the solidarity between their people, while respecting their history, culture and their traditions, rather than abusing its power by threatening and intimidating through its machinery which is in line with authoritarianism, intolerance, and a police state.”

A callous PM

Waytha also slammed Najib, who had threatened further action, for trying to intimidate Hindraf.

Earlier this week, the prime minister had suddenly turned around, chiding Hindraf for complaining that four of the five detainees were forced to sign conditional letters of release before being allowed to leave the Kamunting Detention Centre.

One of them, M Manoharan - the DAP assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah - also called for all Malaysians born from Independence Day August 31, 1957 onwards to be be accorded Bumiputra or indigenous people status.

“The warning issued by the Prime Minister is one that is callous in nature without regard for the suffering of the minorities, in particular the poor and neglected ones across the board and their sentiments to create a better Malaysia for all,” Waytha said.

“In what way were the statements made by the Hindraf leaders extreme in nature? How can the call by the Hindraf leaders against the review on the release of the Hindraf detainees and accordingly, the equal and fairer treatment towards all Malaysian-born be construed as extreme in nature when the Prime Minister shouts out for One Malaysia?”