Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What the government does not want Malaysians to realise

On September 17, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi who was then the Finance Minister switched portfolios with Defence Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. There were mixed reactions to the sudden exchange of offices but it was a matter of better-late-than-never as the future of the country's ailing economy seemed bleak.

Being a graduate from University of Nottingham with a Bachelor's degree (Hons.) in Economics, many saw Najib as a more suitable candidate to lead the Ministry of Finance. His predecessor, Badawi on the other hand graduated with only a Bachelor of Art in Islamic Studies.

And it took Badawi this long to realise Islamic Studies had nothing to do with economics.

In just than a week in office, the new Finance Minister announced that Malaysia is heading for an economic growth rate of 5.5% or 5.7%; provided the US economy remains stable.

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 25 - Malaysia is on track to achieve the targeted 5.5 per cent or 5.7 per cent GDP growth if there are no more disastrous news from the United States, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today. [The Malaysian Insider, 25/9/08]

So, does it mean that the Malaysian economy is getting any better?

The optimism and confidence in the country's economy shown by Najib may just be nothing more than a smoke screen to dilute the magnitude of the current economic situation. However, it is not to imply that the announcement of encouraging GDP growth is a total lie by the government as there could be understated issues affecting the economy which has gone unnoticed by the majority of Malaysians.

Malaysia's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) remains at 5.1 this year, showing no major improvement since 2001, said Transparency International Malaysia president Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam. [The Malaysian Insider, 23/9/08]

On September 23, Malaysia's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) remained unchanged to last year's; at 5.1. The CPI works a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 10 (highly clean). Transparency International Malaysia president Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam told reporters that Malaysia's CPI have lingered within 4.9 to 5.1 since 2001. The absence of any signs of improvement can only be explained by Badawi's empty promises of reforms to curb corruption when he assumed office in 2003. Nonetheless, the country's CPI may have been stable but Malaysia's ranking have slipped from 43rd to 47th among 180 countries this time around.

Our closest neighbour, Singapore scored 9.2.

The inflation rate has jumped to a 27-year high of 8.5 percent in August, driven by the escalating cost of food and fuel. [Malaysiakini, 24/9/08]

On September 24, the day before Najib announced a positive growth for Malaysia, it was reported that the inflation rate for the month of August have skyrocketed to 8.5% - the highest ever in 27 years. The hike was driven by the reduction of fuel subsidies in June which witnessed the price of fuel reached an unprecedented peak of RM2.70 for petrol and RM2.58 for diesel. Hence, the prices of products ranging from rice to transportation increased as well. The price of fuel have since been reduced to RM2.45 for petrol and RM2.40 for diesel.

However, the government would be naive to believe the current reduction of fuel prices would bring the prices of goods and service down too. Most products off the shelf of supermarkets and grocery stores remained high despite lower fuel costs.

Can the projected 5.5% GDP growth be able to increase household incomes and help the middle-class cope with rising costs?

Foreign direct investment (FDI) outflow in Malaysia has exceeded inflow for the first time ever, underscoring fears that investors might be losing confidence in the government and its economic policies. [Malaysiakini, 25/9/08]

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's (Unctad) World Investment Report 2008, FDI outflow in 2007 surged 82% to RM38 million from 2006. The net outflow was also reported to be almost RM9 billion.

Many economists perceived that the increase in FDI outflow reflected the maturity of many local sectors as more companies were accelerating cross-border acquisitions to expand regionally. Nonetheless, Malaysia's Inward FDI Perfomance Index ranking fell to 71st position from 67th in 2006. Ratings Agency Malaysia chief economist Yeah Kim Leng told the Business Times Singapore that larger reverse investments are acceptable, but there would be a concern if domestic investments and FDI inflow declined sharply in future.

Malaysians certainly do hope that a graduate in Economics could do a better job in turning the economy around this time. However, the predicament is not solved until the link between Islamic Studies and the military has been figured out.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Hindraf starts off snowballing effect

About 2,000 people marched from the Dataran Merdeka to the Hindu temple opposite the Puduraya bus terminal in solidarity against the Internal Security Act; pleading for the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the release of all detainees. [Malaysiakini, 27/9/08]

What started off as a candle light vigil for press freedom by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) and several NGOs quickly snowballed into a gathering of 2,000 Malaysians calling for the disbandment of the ISA and the release of all its detainees.

The organisers of the candle light vigil had initially planned to stage a peaceful gathering in Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square). It was understood that the police had deployed a number of officers at the intended venue; probably to pull the plug on the so-called "illegal gathering". The group of about 500 people, then took another route and marched for a kilometer to a Hindu temple adjacent to the Puduraya bus station.

Amazingly, many members of the public soon found themselves joining in the 1 kilometer march and the numbers quickly swelled to 2,000 people. Another group carrying lanterns also mustered in to join the street-wide protest against the ISA.

A group of just 500 people have triggered a snowballing effect; turning a mini vigil for press freedom into an ostentatious display of democracy.

Hindraf Chairman, P. Waytha Moorthy (image) who is now residing overseas later expressed his gratitude to the Royal Malaysian Police for allowing the peaceful march to go on without any major incidents. He also stressed the significance of the march; hoping it would be a step closer to abolishing the ISA.

"The government now must accept the reality; Malaysians have sent a strong message and have voiced their rejection to the use of the ISA," he said. [Malaysiankini, 27/9/08]
However, it was reported that the police had obstructed the distribution of anti-ISA materials to the public the day earlier on September 26. ASP Sydney Clyde Jeremiah also warned the group coordinator, E. Nalini not to use loudspeakers or carry signboards in front of Masjid Jamek where they were gathering.

The September 26 March was not the first time in recent years for ordinary Malaysians to take to the streets in peaceful protest for justice. About 40,000 people participated in the Bersih Rally on November 10, 2007 to peacefully demand for electoral reforms but was eventually marred by sanctioned police violence and arrests.

The 2000-strong march on September 26 may not poise the slimmest chance of persuading the government to abolish the ISA once and for all. Nonetheless, it still leaves Malaysians a tinge of hope that there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

The voice of democracy was heard once again. It is now up to the leaders of the Barisan Nasional government to heed its call and restore true freedom.

Let us continue to believe in Malaysia.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Teresa to be arrested again for insulting the egg?

The Seputeh UMNO Youth division lodged a police report today against Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, claiming she had insulted the Royal Malaysian Police and the egg, which is an essential food of the underprivileged. [The Sun, 24/9/08]

Teresa Kok, the DAP MP of Seputeh was released on September 19 after spending 7 days in detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA). She later revealed that while in police custody, the was served with what she likened as "dog food". She told reporters that she was only given 2 boiled eggs, cucumber and curry gravy; twice a day for lunch and dinner.

The Public Complaints Bureau (PCB) chief who is also Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister's Department, T. Murugiah has expressed his shock over Teresa's claims and assured her that he would look into the matter.

The PCB later discovered that only RM4.50 was allocated a day to each detainee for food in police lock-ups.

On September 24, Seputeh UMNO Youth lodged a police report against Teresa for insulting the Royal Malaysian Police and ... the egg at the Brickfields Police Station.

According to the division's deputy chief Alawi Dahalin, the Seputeh MP had insulted the egg which he explained, is an essential food to the underprivileged.

"Teresa Kok said she was served with food "fit for dogs". By saying this, she had insulted the police and the poor. Eggs are an important food for low-income earners and the poor. As an elected representative of the people she should not have said that," he said. [The Sun, 24/9/08]
Egg rights activist Alawi Dahalin and Seputeh UMNO Youth might as well speak up for the rights of cucumbers and curry gravies of this country.

Speaking in a forum, Teresa also attacked her critics for manipulating the matter in attempt to stir racial sentiments among the Malay community. Teresa had apparently offended the Malay community for using the word "dog" in her description of the food being served to her while in detention. The Seputeh MP was quick to clarify that she did not intend to offend the Malay community or anyone as it was just a figure of speech. [Malaysiakini, 25/9/08]

No action has been taken against Teresa so far.

Should the police arrest Teresa for insulting eggs, it was understood that Humpty Dumpty might also file a defamation suit against kindergarten teachers and children below the age of five.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PAS young leaders show UMNO how it is done

Will the Pakatan Rakyat continue to flourish long into the future or will it collapse under the thorns of racial politics?

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party or more commonly known as PAS is viewed by many Malaysians as a pro-Islamist political entity; aiming to establish Malaysia as a country based on Islamic principles and legal theories. While PAS still lack support from the non-Muslim community in the west coast of the Peninsula, their political presence remains strong in the conservative east.

PAS joined forces with two other Opposition parties to form the Pakatan Rakyat; in attempt to give the ruling Barisan Nasional a run for their money in the 2008 General Elections. Despite having conflicting ideologies, the alternative coalition to the government was a proven success; snatching 5 states from Barisan Nasional plus 62 extra Parliamentary seats to deny the government two thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

Many have predicted a brief existence for the Pakatan Rakyat as PAS do not share the same secular political ideologies of its partners - DAP and PKR. However, with more young intellectuals in the party's hierarchy, PAS may someday abandon it's old ultra-Islamic policies in favour of a more lenient path in politics.


PAS Shah Alam MP, Ir. Haji Khalid Abd Samad relates the defeat of his party in Terengganu in the March 8 Elections to PAS State Commissioner Dato’ Hj. Mustafa Ali's mentality of "banning everything". [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

Khalid Abdul Samad could be part of a new wave of young PAS leaders who might give a breath of fresh air to the party's conservative approach to politics. The Shah Alam MP criticized Terengganu PAS Commissioner Dato' Hj. Mustafa Ali recently; blaming him for the party's defeat in the hands of Barisan Nasional.

"We (PAS state branch) in Selangor are far weaker than our counterparts in Terengganu. Yet, we are successful. What is needed for them to consider now is their strategy and approach in politics," he said. [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

He reckoned that it was Mustafa Ali's "mentality of imposing bans" on trivial issues that had contributed to the decline in public support. Khalid also added that Mustafa Ali had been paying too much attention in imposing restrictions on concerts, liquor, gambling and dress codes. He further suggested the Terengganu party chief be more concerned in establishing a cleaner and more efficient administration.

PAS have been known in the past to be overly conservative when dealing with Western influences and have been imposing their values on others who may not share the same religion with them. Perhaps, Khalid as a young party leader realised that a multi-racial and multi-religious nation like Malaysia demands more tolerance and mutual understanding between the races in order to achieve lasting unity.

"Look, with the majority of the Terengganu's population being Malay Muslims, PAS Terengganu still failed to win in the General Elections last March. So we need to go back to the drawing board and review our approach. That's because we cannot be too stringent in governing. What's the point when at the end of the day, we do not have the support of the people?" [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

PAS Youth Information Chief of Wilayah Persekutuan, Herman Samsudeen called on the disband of all race-based political parties and replacing them with multi-racial ones for the greater good of the nation. [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

Another PAS leader took a leap of faith when he suggested that all race-based political parties should be abolished in favour of a multi-racial platform. Malaysian politics has been heavily segregated by race since the formation of the federation with the majority of political parties representing a single ethnic community. Both PAS and UMNO rely on the support of the Malays which constitutes roughly about 60% of the entire country's population. The remaining ethnic minorities are represented by parties like the MCA and MIC.

However, many Malaysians believe that the future of Malaysia remains volatile unless the country does away with race-based politics. The philosophy of a multi-cultural approach to politics and governance proved to be the Pakatan Rakyat's winning stroke in the General Elections last March. Hence, it can be implied that most Malaysians are already favouring the abolishment of racial politics.

"Racism should not be pushed aside and be used as a political agenda for any party to achieve their goals. Racism in the world of politics will evidently cause national instability and disunity ," Herman described. [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

Herman shared his view in response to MCA vice president Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai who recently said that it would be "dangerous" if all non-Malay parties defect to the Opposition; leaving the pro-Malay UMNO as the sole ruling party in the government. According to Donald Lim, a scenario like that would create racial tension and uncertainties which will affect businesses and ultimately, the economy.

However, Herman rebuked Donald Lim; saying he was merely "trying to stir racial sentiments to ensure MCA remains the sole representative of the Chinese community".

"If the Chinese parties cross over to the Opposition, this country will not be governed by the Malays alone. Because the multi-racial Pakatan Rakyat would have formed the federal government by then," he said. [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

It showed that PAS has accepted the reality of a multi-cultural Malaysia; a notion the racially-motivated UMNO is struggling to comprehend.

One can only continue to wonder how a pro-Islamist party like PAS can ever strike a formidable working partnership with the secular DAP and PKR. Yet, with the emergence of young intellectual leaders like Khalid Abdul Samad and Herman Samsudeen, a reformed PAS in the Pakatan Rakyat might just teach UMNO a thing or two about a multi-racialism.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Khir Toyo sounds like a comedian who is not funny

Former Selangor menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo (image) has flatly denied any role in the recent seven-day detention of DAP parliamentarian Teresa Kok under the Internal Security Act (ISA). [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]

It was understood that Teresa Kok was arrested on September 12 under the Internal Security Act based on Khir Toyo's accusations against the Seputeh MP through an article in Utusan Malaysia. Teresa was alleged to have called on the Selangor State Assembly to ban the Azan prayers calls by mosques in Puchong and Kota Damansara.

All fingers have been pointing towards Khir Toyo and Utusan Malaysia columnist Zaini Hassan as the culprits for the unlawful arrest of Teresa on September 12. It was later revealed that the police had acted solely on the allegations written in Utusan Malaysia without prior investigations - much to the anger of many Malaysians. Teresa was only released 7 days later due to the lack of evidence.


Apparently, Khir Toyo is now attempting wash his hands clean by denying he had anything to do with Teresa's unlawful arrest nor had he agreed to the use of force by the police.

“I never agreed to Kok (Teresa) being arrested under the ISA. The issue is now under police investigation. Just let the police investigate it and see what they have to say,” he explained. [Malaysiakini, 22/9/08]
If the former Selangor Chief Minister had meant that as a joke, it wasn't funny. He may not have agreed with the arrest but had Khir Toyo lost touch of reality or did he fail to realise that the police had acted on his allegations in Utusan Malaysia? Indirectly or not, one cannot deny Khir Toyo had nothing to do with Teresa's detention under the ISA.

On September 9, the Malay language daily reported that a certain "female politician with glasses" had attempted to disallow the Azan prayer call through loudspeakers. However, Masjid Kota Damansara explained that a damaged amplifier had resulted the prayer call to be done without the help of the PA system; resulting a period of "silence". Masjid Kinrara also denied Teresa Kok was involved in any way of leading a petition against the Muslim prayer call.

It was evident that there was no case against Teresa to begin with. She then decided file a RM30 million suit against Utusan Malaysia for defamation and false reporting. Could Khir Toyo be next in line to face the music?

With the looming possibility of being extradited for his defamatory allegations, Khir Toyo is now trying his best to disassociate himself as much as possible from the controversy. He may have his hands washed clean but little does he know that words once said can never be taken back.
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Don't expect caviar for ISA detainees

But at least provide decent meals for them...

DAP MP Teresa Kok who was detained for 7 days under the Internal Security Act, revealed that the food provided for her during police custody were similar to "dog food". [Malaysiakini, 19/9/08]

The Public Complaints Bureau (BCB) will meet Seputeh MP Teresa Kok on Monday to investigate claims that she was not given proper food during her detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA). [Malaysiakini, 21/9/08]

Teresa was held under the ISA after former Selangor Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Khir Toyo and Utusan Malaysia columnist, Zaini Hassan accused her of campaigning against the Muslim Azan prayer call by mosques around Puchong and Kota Damansara. She was then released by the authorities on September 19 due to the lack of evidence.

Many have publicly condemned the arrest; as a result Zaid Ibrahim resigned from the Cabinet as Law Minister in protest of the unlawful arrest. Teresa is now seeking to sue Utusan Malaysia and Khir Toyo for defamation; reportedly for RM30 million.

Read: Whatever Utusan Malaysia says is true! for more details.

The Seputeh MP shared her experience while in police detention to reporters during a press conference organised by DAP. [Malaysiakini, 19/9/08]:
  • Upon her arrest, she was denied the right to make a telephone call to her lawyer or family.
  • She was confined to a 6 x 8 meter cell.
  • There was no air ventilation.
  • She had to spend the night on a wooden plank.
Teresa raised more eyebrows when she said she was served with what she likened as "dog food". She revealed that she was only given 2 hard boiled eggs, cucumber and gravy - twice a day (lunch and dinner).

She got the attention of the Public Complaints Bureau (PCB) who has promised to investigate Teresa's claims of the poor treatment she received during her detention. Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister's Department T. Murugiah said he, along with PCB officers will meet Teresa to acquire more information on the matter.

“I am shocked with Kok’s comments on the food. I will be handing in a report on my findings to the Home Minister and the Prime Minister,” he said. [The Star, 21/9/08]

If the Deputy Minister was shocked of Teresa's comments, he should get a cardiac arrest for this: The Star reported that only RM5.80 have been allocated a day for food for suspects in police lock-ups. Of course, T. Murugiah's heart was still functioning quite well when he said,
“If it is true, then it is definitely not enough especially with the price of goods going up. A detainee needs to have breakfast, lunch and dinner." [The Star, 21/9/08]
T. Murugiah who is also the chief of the PCB suggested that each detainee should be allocated RM10 a day for meals; including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“We want transparency. I’m quite serious about this and I dont want this to be swept under the carpet. I’m not happy that this news has gone international,” he said. [The Star, 21/9/08]
The Malaysian Bar Council have called on the government to immediately release all detainees under the ISA and charged them in a civil court. There are currently 60 people still detained under ISA and more than 2000 people imprisoned under various preventive laws. [Malaysiakini, 20/9/08]

The majority of Malaysians are not bothered if ISA detainees have caviar for breakfast or truffles for dessert. The unlawful detention of individuals without trial can never be justified with better living conditions. The ISA may be an obsolete piece of legislature but it's sting on freedom is still as painful as it was back then in the 1960's.
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Whatever Utusan Malaysia says is absolutely true!

According to the police, at least.

DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok (image) was released at 1pm today, after being held under the Internal Security Act for a week, revealed her lawyer Sankara Nair. [Malaysiakini, 19/9/08]

Police investigation on Teresa Kok was said to be based on an article published by
Utusan Malaysia. The writing covered the issues of the Muslim prayer call, Jawi writing, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and pigs. [Malaysiakini, 19/9/08]

DAP MP Teresa Kok was arrested on September 12 under the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) for allegedly leading a petition to the Selangor State Assembly for the ban of the Muslim azan prayer call in Puchong and Kota Damansara. The arrest came after a Malay language daily, Utusan Malaysia and former Selangor Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Khir Toyo accused the Seputeh MP in the article, "Azan, jawi, JAIS, UiTM dan ba-alif-ba-ya".

Teresa was defended by Kota Raja MP Dr. Siti Mariah Mahmud of PAS. She lodged a police report against Khir Toyo (image) for making false accusations and seditious remarks about the Seputeh MP. However, the police have yet to take any action. Utusan Malaysia columnist, Zaini Hassan on the other hand reported that a female politician had gone to a mosque early in the morning to ask the congregation not to use loudspeakers.

Both Khir Toyo and Utusan Malaysia columnist Zaini Hassan could not provide any solid evidence against Teresa to support their claims. However, Khir Toyo had mentioned that he had seen the petition with "his own eyes". The existence of the petition was fervently denied by Teresa and Dr. Siti Mariah. Even the mosque mentioned in Zaini's report refuted his claims; saying they had no knowledge of any female politician setting foot in their compound.

Interestingly enough, Utusan Malaysia is owned by UMNO.

The DAP MP from Seputeh was investigated by the police on the claims of:

  1. her participation in a movement by Bandar Kinrara residents to hand in a petition to ban the Muslim azan prayer call;
  2. her suggestion to allocate 30% of the Selangor Islamic Department's (JAIS) budget to non-Muslim organisations;
  3. her opposition to the replacement of existing signboards in Kuala Lumpur with the Jawi writings.
Teresa Kok denied the first two claims but she did explained her reason for opposing the replacement of signboards in the city early this year as she felt it would be waste of public funds to do so. The existing signboards in Kuala Lumpur are currently written in romanized Malay.

Upon her release from detention, Teresa told reporters that the police did not present any evidence against her during interrogations but only harped on the three accusations raised by Utusan Malaysia. It was clear that the police had acted in response of an article without prior rational judgement.

"I was shocked as no other questions were asked of me apart from those issues (the list above). How could the police take the article by Utusan Malaysia word for word without any thorough investigation on the columnist (Zaini Hassan) who wrote it?" she told reporters. [Malaysiakini, 19/8/08]
Which part of the saying "innocent till proven guilty" did the police not understand?

On the other hand, it was also reported that columnist Zaini Hassan challenged Teresa Kok to take a lie-detector test to proof her innocence. Shouldn't Zaini be out there trying to prove her crime with solid evidences first? The lack of logic and critical thinking from a journalist like Zaini was indeed disturbing; yet amusing at the same time.

Questions have been raised on why Khir Toyo and Zaini Hassan have been spared from the jaws of the ISA. On September 12, Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng (image) was arrested for apparently over-reporting Ahmad Ismail's alleged racist remarks against the Chinese community. Ironically, Ahmad Ismail was not held responsible by the police but Tan, who was blamed for ballooning the matter into a "racial issue". She was subsequently arrested under the ISA.

The difference between Tan Hoon Cheng and Zaini Hassan was the truth and substance in their reports. What then does the police make of the Utusan Malaysia columnist who unlike Tan, was obviously guilty for false reporting?

"Therefore, I urge the police to launch an investigation on the editors of Utusan Malaysia, Zaini Hassan and Dr. Mohamad Khir Toyo under the Sedition Act," Teresa called on the authorities to be fair in their pursuit for justice. [Malaysiakini, 19/9/08]
It was reported that Teresa had decided to sue Utusan Malaysia for RM30 million for defamation. She also demanded that the Malay language daily not to repeat their seditious accusations and comments in any of their future articles.

On a side note, DAP national chairman Karpal Singh have also filed a RM10 million suit against Utusan Malaysia for misquoting him on a matter relating to Islam in their article, "DAP diingat jangan bakar perasaan Melayu (DAP reminded not to inflame sentiments of Malays)" dated August 25.

Had Utusan Malaysia been considered as holy scripture; so much so that the police were willing to act on their claims without any prior investigation? The force has been entrusted to protect the people but with the recent ISA travesties, it would take a lot for the Royal Malaysian Police to restore public confidence.

Perhaps Utusan Malaysia should report on the little green men living on the moon and we might just see a squad of policemen in the next space launch.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Preparing for life after Badawi

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today said he would pass his finance portfolio to his deputy Najib Abdul Razak (image), while he takes over as defence minister. [Malaysiakini, 17/9/08]

n July 11, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi announced that he will step down as the country's premier and UMNO president by 2010. Badawi took the blame for the ruling Barisan Nasional's humiliating defeat at the March 8 General Elections which saw the Opposition taking 5 states and gaining 62 more Parliamentary seats. He has since been under pressure to resign and allow for a new leader to lead the coalition. After much deliberation with component party leaders and members alike, it was agreed that he would resign as Prime Minister by 2010; paving way for his second-in-command Datuk Seri Najib Razak to succeed him in office.

However, things took an awful turn on September 17 when Badawi surprised everyone by swapping portfolios with his deputy, Najib. Badawi is now effectively the new Defence Minister while Najib takes over as Finance Minister. However, the former remained as the Prime Minister; at least till 2010. According to Badawi, the switch was necessary to ensure a smooth transition of power in the build-up to his resignation in about 3 years time.

The portfolio swapping came a day after the Opposition failed to form a new government on September 16. It was suggested that Badawi had done so in order to put to grave any unrest within the ranks of UMNO and Barisan Nasional. Badawi had also hinted that he might step down earlier than 2010 but it would all depend on Najib's fulfillment of his new role.

"The period of power transition is flexible. I might step down earlier than 2010 but it all depends on Najib's performance as the Finance Minister," he explained to the media in the presence of his deputy. [Malaysiakini, 17/9/08]
"Handing over is a process. Between now and June 2010 we will study the process and decide accordingly what we need to do. The agreement remains. I am PM and president, he is DPM and deputy president." [The Malaysian Insider, 17/9/08]
The possibility of Badawi stepping down prematurely would be a welcoming sight for International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who had called on the premier to resign as early as possible.

"The year 2010 is too far away. I have asked Najib whether he really believes by then he would have enough time in restoring confidence among the people. In the interest of the Malaysian people, I think the Prime Minister should reconsider this (his resignation date)," he said to the media during a conference in Singapore. [The Star, 10/9/08]
The portfolio exchange received mixed reactions across the two sides of the Dewan Rakyat. Barisan Nasional leaders lauded the Badawi's move to groom Najib into the next Prime Minister. They also credited Badawi for ensuring a smooth transition of power and this latest move would give Najib ample exposure to the job that lies ahead of him.

"Although he was briefly a Deputy Finance Minister, he has never held a full ministerial post in the Finance portfolio. This will allow Najib to go into the deep end of the economy,” Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad commented. [The Star, 18/9/08]
“The swapping will allow the PM to focus his attention on more important matters, particularly during this testing time,” Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim said. [The Star, 18/9/08]

Curiously enough, Dr. Rais did not elaborate further on what was "more important" than managing the finances of the country.

Across the divide, Opposition leaders criticized Badawi's portfolio-swapping theatrics as irrelevant in bringing about stability to the country's ailing economy. Selangor Chief Minister Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said that Badawi who tabled the Budget 2009 should continue with the plan til the end.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng also questioned Badawi's motives behind the switch as he believed that it would not benefit the Malaysian people in any way. He told reporters,

"What can be achieved from at this transition but to hasten Najib's prospects at becoming Prime Minister?" [The Malaysian Insider, 17/9/08]
PAS Treasurer Dr. Hatta Ramli was even more less forgiving by saying that the exchange of posts by the country's top two leaders was not consequential enough to improve the country.

"The portfolio exchange does not hold any significance except to reflect their individual failures in their (previous) portfolios. The PM is not capable of handling finances in the country. The DPM is not capable of handling defence in the country," he shared. [The Malaysian Insider, 17/9/08]
Malaysians have yet to see if the exchange of offices would serve to stop the Opposition from taking over the federal government or to restore stability and confidence in Badawi's already fragile regime. Either way, Malaysians would now have to brace themselves for the post-Badawi era that has already begun.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Badawi's refusal to meet the reason for September 16 delay?

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said today he had signed up more than 31 defectors needed to form a new government and called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (image) not to implement emergency rule to thwart a takeover. [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]

Despite all the hype, there were no waves of defections from the east, no signs of a government takeover and no mass exodus of Cabinet members. Was the thought of forming a new government on September 16 a mirage, just like Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi had coined it? Or simply an empty promise made by the Opposition to woo more supporters?

Badawi had even called the September 16 dream a "political lie" despite receiving a request letter from the Opposition to negotiate face-to-face for a smooth transition of power. However, Badawi denied that the letter had anything to do with the transfer of power but was just a general notice of the country's current situation.

On September 16, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (image) announced that his side had enough numbers to topple Badawi's regime and form a new federal government. It was understood that 31 MPs have penned their signatures on paper, agreeing to switch their allegiance. However, Anwar still refused to reveal the names of the defectors and said he would meet the Prime Minister to discuss the transition of power first.

"We've not given any ultimatum to Abdullah. We've said it is of national importance, it is incumbent and urgent for any sitting prime minister to respond positively in the interest of the nation and not just to appease the upheavals and turmoil within UMNO," he responded when asked if Badawi has a deadline to meet the Opposition leaders. [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]
Regarding the names of the defectors, Anwar said he would only reveal them when Badawi agrees to meet with the Opposition entourage for negotiations. The Opposition leader believed that this was the best way to go about in order to protect the defecting MPs from being harassed by the government. He told reporters,
"Questions are raised on who and where are they. We name them now and they get harassed immediately. So, I'm telling you now that I will choose to confide in the prime minister. And if he wants the list I will show the list in the meeting. Until the right opportune moment, we can't declare. We know how the system operates. One Teresa Kok in detention is enough." [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]
However, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi refused to meet with Anwar and the other Opposition leaders. His declination to negotiate certainly made matters worse for the Opposition who was planning to reach an agreement with the current government by September 16. On the other hand, Badawi challenged Anwar to reveal the names first before heading to the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya to meet him.
"If he has the names, he should show the entire country. Everyone wants to know," Badawi told reporters in Kepala Batas, Penang. [The Malaysian Insider, 16/9/08]
With both parties refusing to give in, it was a classic case of "pay first, get product later" or "get product first, pay later" type of dilemma. Either way, delaying the September 16 plans would only serve as an advantage for Badawi's government as they aim to accuse Anwar for making empty promises.

International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (image) told the media that there was no need for the Prime Minister to meet with Anwar; calling it a trap set by the influential Opposition leader to mislead the public. The minister who had recently called on the Prime Minister to opt for an early retirement was an unexpected supporter of Badawi's refusal to meet with the Opposition leaders.
"If he meets the prime minister, with the media coverage, people would think he must be right. I am not in the position to tell the prime minister not to meet, but I think it is not necessary. I don't think the prime minister would walk into the trap laid by Anwar," he explained. [The Malaysian Insider, 16/9/08]

Badawi's refusal to negotiate had prompted the Opposition to turn to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for royal intervention in the formation of a new government. Parti Keadilan Information Chief Tian Chua (image) announced that the Opposition will seek an audience with the monarch within the next 24 to 48 hours. However, Tian Chua was also quick to stressed that seeking the intervention from the King was their last resort as Malaysia has always been a democratic country and the Opposition would honour that.

"Like we have said, the Opposition have enough MPs now to form a new government. As Anwar have announced, we have more than 31 MPs crossing over to our side. However, we will try our very best not to involve the Agong," Tian Chua said in a press conference. [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]
Despite of Badawi's ignorance for a proper dialogue, Anwar said the Opposition was "not in a rush" to seize power from the Barisan Nasional government as he wants to ensure national stability and a peaceful transition of power.
"He (Badawi) is currently under pressure from within his party (UMNO) and we should give him more time to consider this in the interest of the country and guarantee a smooth and orderly transition. This is one of our main considerations so that any moves made will be constitutional," Anwar explained. [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]
September 16 may have passed with no signs of a change in government but the hope of a better Malaysia continues to burn amongst the people. Though Badawi will soon learn that preventing the inevitable is a fool's errand, many Malaysians are still cautiously keeping their fingers crossed.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Zaid Ibrahim - Finally, a minister that walks the talk

Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (image) says he will stick to his decision to resign from the Cabinet after failing to convince the government to reform the judicial system. His resignation comes as his protest of the recent use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) on three individuals. [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]

On September 12, the government invoked the Internal Security Act to detain three individuals for "threatening national security." While Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Teresa Kok are still in detention, Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng has been released after 16 hours and is now safely back in Penang.

For more details, read Even clowns give better excuses than Syed Hamid.

Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar ordered was soon lambasted from both the public and within the Barisan Nasional ranks for the use of such draconian laws on civilians. He also claimed that such arrests under the ISA were necessary to maintain public order.

Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was the front man in the protest against the ISA and had openly called for the immediate release of Raja and Teresa Kok.

"This country has many laws which can be used by the authorities to detain any individual. They do not have to use the ISA," Zaid Ibrahim told reporters. [Malaysiakini, 14/9/08]
Zaid Ibrahim also told reporters that the recent arrests under the ISA has hampered his efforts to reform the country's judiciary system for the past 6 months.

Another member of the Cabinet also voiced his disgust over the abuse of the ISA. Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr. S. Subramaniam questioned the government's use of the ISA,
"We have adequate laws to supress any irresponsible acts that jeopardise national security. Why don't we use those laws?" [Malaysiakini, 14/9/08]
MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting also shared his two cents worth on the matter:
"If a matter is said to be threat to national security, we must first have evidences to prove it. Those who were detained under the ISA should be charged in a civil court under existing laws which are enough bring about justice. This is beacause the ISA itself has the potential to undermine the rule of law and the deny the basic constitutional freedom of individuals," Ong explained to the public. [Malaysiakini, 14/9/08]
Zaid Ibrahim showed that he meant business when he threatened to resign from his position as Law Minister unless the government reviews the Internal Security Act and releases the remaining two detainees. Unfortunately, his cry for justice went unheeded by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi and as a result Zaid Ibrahim decided to step down as Law Minister without any hesitation.

Badawi rejected Zaid Ibrahim's resignation and in return requested the latter to take a 2-week long leave from his job to take some time to "reflect". However, the Prime Minister did not succeed in convincing Zaid Ibrahim to regress on his decision to quit the Cabinet. He held a press conference on September 16 to explain the situation:
"I am not tired (referring to the suggestion from the Badawi for a 2-week break). I am just disappointed. Therefore, my decision stays and I will resign from my position as Law Minister." [Malaysiakini, 16/9/08]
Malaysians have yet to see if the other members of the Cabinet who protested against the use of the ISA would follow Zaid Ibrahim's footsteps by standing up for what is just and fair. Either way, Zaid Ibrahim did the right thing to disassociate himself from the corrupt acts of the government. He was also applauded by the Malaysian Bar Council and the Opposition for having the courage to make a stand against injustice and tyranny.

Therefore, it's now time for the other politicians to rise up and practise what they preach!
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Even clowns give better excuses than Syed Hamid

Sin Chew Daily senior reporter Tan Hoon Cheng was released after 16 hours in detention and she is now back at home in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. [Malaysiakini, 13/9/08]

The recent ISA blitz on September 12 saw three individuals: Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng (images in order below) being detained by the authorities on the grounds of "national security". However, Tan was the first among the three to be released after 16 hours in police custody. Apparently, she was held in Ipoh.

The Sin Chew Daily journalist was the person responsible for reporting Ahmad Ismail's racist comments; resulting a nationwide concern for racism and the fragility of national unity.

Read Political antagonists more dangerous than rapists, robbers and murderers?

The arrest of the journalist was duly justified by Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar (image) whose jurisdiction covers the Internal Security Act - a preventive law that allows the government to detain any individual on grounds of national security. He told reporters:
"She (Tan Hoon Cheng) made the first report so we (the authorities) had to get to the bottom of it and we received information that her life was under threat." [Malaysiakini, 13/9/08]
At this point, the Home Affairs Minister and the entire Royal Malaysian Police sounded really foolish. Here are three points to consider from Syed Hamid's latest press statements:
  1. Tan Hoon Cheng was detained for 16 hours by the police.
  2. If there was really a death threat, how did it disappear after 16 hours?
  3. If the police was really sincere in protecting Tan, why not consider assigning officers to her home and avoid the logistical fuss of taking her all the way to Ipoh for 16 hours?
If Syed Hamid wanted to make an excuse or even lie about having one, he should first consider sparing himself from insulting his own intelligence. Malaysians are not dumb to fall for cheap tricks; not this time.

On the other hand, the minister also blamed Tan for the national furore over Ahmad's Ismail's racial slur; apparently due to her over reaction on the issue. He also claimed that the arrest of the journalist has been made into another racial issue.
"At present everything we are doing, we are looking at it from an ethnic angle. Khir Toyo is a Malay, Ahmad Ismail is a Malay, we arrest Chinese...We should start to think as Malaysians. Even me, if I'm considered a threat, the police are free to take action against me." [The Malaysian Insider, 13/9/08]
Did Ahmad Ismail first thought himself as a Malaysian before making such disrespectful statements towards the Malaysian Chinese community. Had Syed Hamid and his men acted as Malaysians when they should arrest the real culprit to this racial unrest and not the person who reported it?

Sometimes, clowns do make better excuses.
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Political antagonists more dangerous than rapists, robbers and murderers?

Controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin was arrested today under the Internal Security Act for allegedly being a threat to security, peace and public order. [Malaysiakini, 12/9/08]

Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng has been arrested today under the Internal Security Act at 8.30pm at her home in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. [Malaysiakini, 12/9/08]

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP MP Teresa Kok is the latest to be arrested under Section 73 (1) if the ISA Friday. [The Star, 12/9/08]

Three arrests under the ISA in a day? Though Malaysians have yet to see any extensive arrests of robbers/rapists/snatch thieves/kidnappers by the authorities in one day, at least we know the government is good at something.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin (image) was arrested for allegedly "insulting Islam" in his article Not all Arabs are descendants of the Prophet and his commentary on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's letter, I Promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim. His arrest, of course came under the orders of Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar who acted on the Internal Security Act (ISA).

You may read both the articles here and judge for yourself whether they were truly disrespectful to Islam:

  1. Not all Arabs are descendants of the Prophet
  2. I promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim
The Internal Security Act allows the arrest of a person without trial on the claims of national security by the government. This legislature was first introduced by the British to quell the communist insurgency in 1948. It was then inherited by the Malaysian government when the country gained independence in 1957. Since communism no longer pose any threat today, the question still remains on why the ISA is still being allowed to run; creating potential avenues for it to be used for political agendas.

The Home Minister explained that Raja Petra was arrested under Section 73 (1) of the act. Plus, his ministry has the authority to extend Raja Petra's detention period to more than 60 days.
“The police will do an assessment during this period and if they feel he should be held more than 60 days, the police will then refer to me,” he said. [The Star, 12/9/08]
Ironically, Raja Petra was arrested 24 hours after the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) lifted the ban on his site, Malaysia Today. He was previously charged for sedition for linking Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak with the murder of a Mongolian citizen, Altantuyaa.

Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng (image) was also arrested at her home in Penang. Tan was the journalist responsible for reporting Ahmad Ismail's racist comments. The latter had allegedly called the Chinese "squatters" and had refused to apologise for his racial slur. He related the refusal to apologise as a gesture of defending the pride and dignity of the Malays.

Ahmad Ismail had also expressed his intention to sue the reporter who, according to him, have "blown the issue out of proportion" and turning it into a "racial issue". The Sin Chew Daily reporter chose to stand by her report and claimed that the other reporters who were with her then can back her up. Datuk Seri Najib Razak's prior apology also meant that he agreed with the reporter that Ahmad Ismail had indeed said those racist remarks.

So since when reporting racism was racist?

However, Ahmad Ismail was only given a slap on the wrist - a 3 year suspension of his party membership; sentenced not by a civil court nor the ISA but by UMNO's supreme council.

Seputeh MP and Selangor state exco assemblywoman Teresa Kok (image) became the third person to be arrested under the ISA. She was accused of leading a petition to the state assembly for the ban on the Muslim Azan prayer call by mosques in Puchong and Kota Damansara. Former Selangor Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Khir Toyo made the allegation through the Malay-language newpaper, Utusan Malaysia. [Malaysiakini, 12/9/08]

Khir Toyo could not provide any evidence at the moment but have said that he had "seen the petition with his own eyes."

PAS came in defense of Teresa by filing a police report against Khir Toyo for his baseless accusations. Kota Raja MP Dr. Siti Mariah Mahmud have called on the police to investigate Khir Toyo's accusations which she claimed were seditious and had the intent to incite racial disharmony. Both Teresa and Dr. Siti Mariah have denied the existence of any petition for the ban on Muslim prayer calls.

Teresa was returning home from a mooncake festival function in Kuala Lumpur when she was stopped by three police cars at approximately 11.20pm. She will also be charged under Section 73 (1) of the ISA.

There is no certainty if there would be any more arrests to follow in the next few days. The previous political spring cleaning was back in 1987 which saw the arrests of 106 persons and the revoke of printing rights on four publishers under the infamous ISA.

Could September 12 be the beginning of history repeating itself?

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Touring MPs in Taiwan poised for early homecoming

The recent study tour of the Barisan Nasional Backbencher's Club to Taiwan's agricultural sector was to be cut short; bringing the bulk of its MPs back to Malaysian soil 3 days ahead of their scheduled return. The group was expected to return on September 16 - the same day the Opposition plans to takeover the government but the decision was made to bring it ahead of its schedule.

In fact, Backbencher's Club chairman Datuk Tiong King Sing said that some of the participating MPs had already departed from Taiwan a few days earlier. [The Malaysian Insider, 12/9/08] The rest will follow suit on September 13.

The early return could deprive Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of any excuse if he ever fails to form a new government by September 16; a move which the Barisan Nasional government deemed impossible. But the club's earty return could also be a blessing in disguise for the Opposition with an extra of 3 days to finalise any details of the inevitable takeover.

According to Malaysiakini, the Opposition camp have sent 5 representatives to Taiwan on September 12 in attempt to woo any BN MPs into crossing over to opposite side of the Dewan Rakyat. They are:

  • Deputy President, Dr. Lee Boon Chye
  • Party Strategist, Saifuddin Nasution
  • Deputy Director of Elections, Fuziah Salleh
  • Party Information Chief, Tian Chua
  • Wanita PKR Publicity Chief, Elizabeth Wong
Anwar had earlier conceded that the takeover of the federal government might be delayed due to the Taiwan trip but assured that he has the numbers (MPs) to do so. Could the early return of the Backbencher's Club prompt a takeover on September 16 after all?

However, Deputy Chairman of the club, Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin was not convinced that any of his members were willing to meet the Opposition entourage or even considering switching loyalties.

We'll just have to wait see...
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Where is your Sedition Act now, UMNO?

Malaysiakini reported that about 11 of Ahmad Ismail's supporters gathered outside of UMNO Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur; in protest of the leadership's way of handling their man. Cries of "Hidup Melayu!" greeted the UMNO supreme council members who were making their way into the building to discuss on Ahmad Ismail's fate.

The party president, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi assured the public that Ahmad Ismail would have to answer for his alleged racist remarks against the Chinese community.

Ahmad Ismail (image) is currently backed by 13 UMNO divisions from Penang who believed the Bukit Bendera division chief had done absolutely nothing wrong and was merely defending the rights of the Malays. Ahmad Ismail had not only ignored orders from the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to retract his statements but also challenged Gerakan to leave Barisan Nasional. Any action taken against Ahmad Ismail would definitely not go down too well with his supporters.

On September 10, the UMNO Supreme Council which comprised of 48 members have decided to suspend Ahmad Ismail's membership in the party for three years as a disciplinary measure after a three hour long meeting at the party's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. [Malaysiakini]

That's it? Just three years?

The majority of Malaysians expected that Ahmad Ismail be dealt more severely for inciting racial sentiments as national unity was always a fragile matter in Malaysia's multi-cultural set up.

Ahmad Ismail said he accepted the verdict of the supreme council who, according to him, had acted to maintain national security. However, he added that he would still refuse to apologise for his racist comments and also expressed confidence in making a return to active politics after serving his suspension (of three years).

"I will not apologise. If I were a hypocrite, I would not have come this far. I am punished because of my perseverance in this matter. Like I said, I am willing bear the consequences. There is no problem," he told reporters. [Malaysiakini, 10/9/08]
Gerakan had earlier demanded Ahmad Ismail be sacked once and for all from Barisan Nasional; a notion many Malaysians would agree given the magnitude of racial instability the man had created. Only UMNO could explain why he was only 'suspended' when clearly, he should be charged under the Sedition Act without any compromise.

By all means, a suspension is not good enough to make a good example out of Ahmad Ismail. Racism is not a laughing matter and the government should show some nerves of steel when dealing with it. Ahmad Ismail could return after 3 years and continue where he left off. What then? Suspend him for another 3 years?

The hypothesis on why Ahmad Ismail was not directly charged under the Sedition Act was because he was an UMNO member; an influential one too. Badawi who is the party president explained,
"Ahmad (Ismail) is an UMNO member. Therefore, he has to go through UMNO's procedures and be brought to the Supreme Council for further action." [Malaysiakini, 9/9/08]
Party bureaucracy should never stand in the way of justice. This is double standard again; typical of UMNO. Ahmad Ismail should first be charged as a citizen of Malaysia; meaning under the law. Any disciplinary action from his party should only come subsequently, not vice-versa. Where is your Sedition Act now, UMNO?

This is another clear example of how justice was sacrificed for the sake of party stability. The Malaysian people should be placed first and not Ahmad Ismail's membership with UMNO. At the end of the day, it is the Malaysian public, particularly the Chinese community who is shortchanged of any sort of moral justice.

Perhaps the leniency of Ahmad Ismail's punishment is the most rational way to solve the issue; for UMNO at least. The party leadership had to take into account of its 13 divisions who had backed Ahmad Ismail and therefore cannot risk an internal conflict within the party. A harsher whip of the cane on Ahmad Ismail would only create more unrest among his supporters. With Ahmad Ismail leading a stubborn lot and the threat of a potential takeover by the Opposition, UMNO is now at the brink of an impending crisis.

UMNO has to fight a two-front war - to keep Barisan Nasional from caving in on itself and to stop the Opposition from taking Putrajaya on September 16. As for Badawi, he now has an uphill task to quench the mini rebellion instigated by an arrogant politician while struggling to keep the battered BN ship afloat.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

MPs in Taiwan get RM50,000

On September 8, Malaysiakini reported that 49 MPs from the Barisan Nasional Backbencher's Club would be heading to Taiwan for an 'overseas study tour' of the country's agricultural sector. The timing of the retreat was heavily criticized as a ploy to thwart Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's agenda of taking over the federal government by September 16. However, he did concede that his plans may be deferred to a later date until all 49 MPs return from Taipei.

Malaysiakini also revealed that 22 out of the 49 MPs were from East Malaysia.

Read Malaysia's Judgement Day might come later.

However, the controversy took another turn when SAPP President Datuk Yong Teck Lee (image) dropped a bombshell on Barisan Nasional. He claimed that the 49 participating MPs in Taiwan each received RM50,000 as 'pocket money'. SAPP has two MPs in the Parliament - Datuk Eric Majimbun and Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bui; who both had rejected the invitation to go on the trip. [The Malaysian Insider, 11/9/08]

RM50,000 x 49 = RM2,450,000. Where did all the money come from is anyone's guess.

Though Yong's accusations should not be taken as the gospel truth just yet, it would be interesting to see how the Backbencher's Club talk their way out of this in the next couple of days.

The Star had earlier reported that the MPs who were taking part in the trip had to pay for their own expenses. However, The Malaysian Insider reported that the tour group was in fact funded by an unknown Barisan Nasional MP.

Perhaps a full report of their study tour should be disclosed to the public when they return on September 16. Or rather their shopping list...

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Malaysia's Judgement Day might come later

Pragmatic Oppostion leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (image) told reporters that the planned takeover of the federal government on September 16 might be deferred to a later date. According to Anwar, this was due to the Barisan Nasional Backbencher's Club's recent study tour to Taiwan which saw 49 of its MPs taking part.

"We definitely have the numbers (MPs) required to form the new government. However, we will need to wait because they are now in Taiwan," Anwar explained to the media. [Malaysiakini, 10/9/08]
Anwar said he was also informed that the participating MPs of the overseas retreat were "not allowed" to return to Malaysia before September 16; a sign of desperation by the government to stop potential defection of its MPs.

The retreat was allegedly intended to give the MPs the opportunity to discuss on the latest agricultural technology and the development of food science. There are currently 49 BN MPs taking part in the trip; 22 of whom are from East Malaysia.

While the names of the potential defectors to the Opposition have yet to be revealed, the list could be narrowed down to 49 based on Anwar's latest comments to the media.

Nonetheless, the Opposition's failure to honour their word to the Malaysian people to form a new government by September 16 is a psychological victory for Barisan Nasional who could use this to their advantage to restore public trust. However, the Opposition leader told Malaysiakini reporters that the takeover plan is still on track, though he did not rule out on any deferment of the proposed date.

Sooner or later, Judgement Day will come.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

BN hegemony starts cracking

Gerakan Penang cuts all ties with UMNO Penang in response to Ahmad Ismail's unruly press conference. [Malaysiakini, 8/9/08]

MCA Penang is severing all ties with Ahmad Ismail and the 13 UMNO divisions that supported him until the issue is resolved. [The Malaysian Insider, 9/8/08]

The Bukit Bendera UMNO division chief Ahmad Ismail received a backlash from Chinese BN supporters with his refusal to retract his racist statements against the Chinese community. Ahmad Ismail has had two press conferences to express publicly his defiance towards the' orders for him to apologise for his remarks from his party's top leaders. He played the racial card again when he stated that it was no longer an UMNO issue but it was now an issue of the dignity and honour of the Malay race. He sparked further anger when he likened the Malaysian Chinese to American Jews in his second press conference.

According to Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider reports, Ahmad Ismail told the media that he will defend the honour of his people at all costs to the very end. He also insisted that he will not bring shame to the Malay people by kowtow-ing to the demands of the Chinese community for him to retract his racist remarks.

Ahmad Ismail also arrogantly challenged Gerakan, who had vocally opposed Ahmad Ismail over the issue, that they can leave the Barisan Nasional coalition if they wanted to.

Who is he to demand a BN component party to leave coalition?

Gerakan Penang decided to cut all ties with UMNO following Ahmad Ismail's second press conference where Gerakan president, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon's photograph was torn into two by an angry UMNO member. Ahmad Ismail had reportedly called the Gerakan president a "hypocrite" for over-reacting to his alleged racist comments. [The Malaysian Insider, 8/9/08]

Read Ahmad Ismail a Malay warrior?

Malaysiakini reported on September 9 that 3 Gerakan members had resigned from the BN Penang State Committee as a sign of protest against Ahmad Ismail and his supporters' disregard of national unity. They were Youth Chief Huan Cheng Guan, Deputy Youth Chief Yew Khean Siang, Secretary Oh Teong Keong and Assist. Secretary Heng Thee Wey.

Gerakan has been reconsidering their membership in Barisan Nasional over the past few days; fueling speculation that it could bail out of the ruling coalition in the near future. Their members, however did not rule out the possibility of the party switching their allegiance to the Opposition.

The Barisan Nasional hegemony took another blow when MCA Penang announced on September 9 that they would emulate Gerakan Penang by severing all relations with Ahmad Ismail and his men. MCA leaders have commented that Ahmad Ismail's racist remarks were an insult to the Chinese community who had sacrificed blood and sweat for the country; notably their involvement in the resistance force against the Japanese occupation during World War 2.

MCA Perak Youth members have been calling the party leaders reevaluate their membership in Barisan Nasional and suggested that the party leave the political bloc if UMNO fails to evolve away from their racist ideology.

Both Gerakan and MCA presidents have called for stern action be taken against Ahmad Ismail. Some even suggested using the Internal Security Act (ISA) to incarcerate the UMNO division chief for provoking racial tensions. The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi promised that Ahmad Ismail will pay for his recklessness when he told reporters,

"All of us have unanimously rejected his views. While it is not the view of UMNO, he is our member and we will discuss and make a decision." [The Malaysian Insider, 9/9/08]
All eyes are now on UMNO's leadership as the Malaysian public is eager to see the division chief be dealt severely by the party's supreme council. Racism of any form should never be tolerated; what more a politician who should be representing the Malaysian people of all walks of life.

Ahmad Ismail could have saved us the effort and walked away from all these mess simply by saying "sorry".

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ahmad Ismail a Malay warrior?

Bukit Bendera division chief Ahmad Ismail declared he will continue to show defiance and is willing to face the consequences for the sake of the pride and dignity of the Malay race. [Malaysiakini, 8/9/08]

Apparently, Ahmad Ismail thinks he is the new Hang Tuah defending his people. What an insult to the legendary Malay warrior.

Malaysiakini reported that Ahmad Ismail held a second press conference on September 8. He refused to apologise once again despite being guilty of inciting racial sentiments among the Chinese community; allegedly calling them "squatters" and "half-citizens".

Read Ahmad Ismail: I have no problems with Chinese and Indians

Despite calls from top government officials to retract his racist statements, he refused to give in and explained that it was no longer a party issue but an issue 0f pride and dignity of the Malays. All 13 UMNO divisions had since stood behind him in support of his notion.

How does apologising for one man's fault be in direct relation to the pride and dignity of an entire race?

Ahmad Ismail is now self-styling himself as a Malay warrior who will defend his people's honour to the last breath. Beneath all the facade, he's nothing but a cowardly vigilante to the Malaysian public who is the prime example of a politician who will grasp on any chance of making a name for himself.

Gerakan, a Barisan Nasional component party had been the most vocal for the past few days; condemning Ahmad Ismail's actions through the mass media. The party led by its president, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon demanded that Ahmad Ismail be charged under the Sedition Act.

However, Ahmad Ismail told reporters in his second press conference that Gerakan was actually the guilty party for turning this whole farce into a racial issue; simply because they had lost the support of the Chinese community. He also said he will sue the Chinese-language newspaper, Sin Chew Daily for their report on his alleged racist comments.

The press conference ended once again with rhetoric cries of "Hidup Melayu! (Long live the Malays!)."

However, UMNO Penang still had one more thing to prove. An UMNO member, Zainol Abidin Hashim took down a photograph of Gerakan President, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon from the wall of the UMNO state headquarters with the help of his fellow 'warriors' . He subsequently tore it into two.

koh tsu koon zainol

The Penang branch of Gerakan took matters into their own hands and severed its ties with UMNO in response to the unruly behaviour of UMNO Penang members [Malaysiakini, 9/9/08].

Ferocious photo-shredding like a dinosaur defends the Malay honour, Zainol?

Barisan Nasional leaders are expected to have an emergency meeting in the wake of UMNO Penang's latest ignorance of any sort of decency. All the childish audacity, racist chants and photograph-tearing from Ahmad Ismail and his supporters would only make ancient Malay warriors turn over in their graves.

Ahmad Ismail is not only bringing shame to his people but to Malaysians alike; by branding himself a so-called warrior who defends the Malay honour.

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