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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Donald booed at church forum at a MEET THE CANDIDATES SESSION..

This is a good idea that can be followed at all levels - at churches, temples, residential areas, etc --

People should meet the candidates and choose the best "Wakil Rakyat" ...and these sessions should not stop at elections but possibly be held once every six months creating a regular forum for the constituents to meet their "wakil rakyat"..and that will ensure that "wakil rakyats's" are doing their job and expressing the view of the RAKYAT and not their own or that of their 'political party or coalition" or some select interest groups...


Donald booed at church forum
Soon Li Tsin | Feb 28, 08 2:38pm

It was proven in St Francis Xavier’s Church last night that comparing how Malaysia is better off than Burma will only result in boos and jeers.

church election forum 280208 donald limThis was the response that Petaling Jaya Selatan (PJS) parliamentary incumbent Donald Lim received when he used the same example on how well the country is doing - several times.

"Under the BN leadership, we are doing much better than Burma ..." he said before he was interrupted by boos and jeers.

In a closed-door election forum attended by 250 parishioners, voters in the church were given a rare chance to hear both Barisan Nasional and opposition candidate slug it out on stage.

The deputy tourism minister was pitted against his opponent PKR’s Hee Loy Sian while Bukit Gasing incumbent Gerakan’s Dr Lim Thuan Seng squared off with DAP’s Edward Lee.

The session kicked off with the soft-spoken Hee introducing himself before explaining PKR manifesto to the audience.

Boos and cheers

This was followed by Donald’s pitch on BN’s past successes and his PJS manifesto for the city which includes battling crime and traffic problems.

church election forum 280208 panelThuan Seng - who was late - gave a speech on his past achievements and how he has given his best to help his constituents.

Last speaker Lee was clearly the ‘star’ of the night when he promised to lobby for local council elections should he be elected and urged the people to be more proactive in handling community issues which drew applause numerous times.

The question-and-answer session resulted in many serious discussion surrounding PJ’s traffic woes and high assessment rates.

Lee drew cheers when answering several questions but Hee remained silent throughout since most of the questions were directed to the two BN candidates.

However, the session was mostly punctuated by humourous moments most notably when Donald developed a trend in his answers by saying ‘That is an interesting question’ and ‘You can call me and I will get it done’ for every question directed to him.

Asked to comment on how to stop talented Malaysians from leaving the country, the three-term PJS parliamentarian said he was ‘okay with it’ before talking about the ‘Malaysia My Second Home’ program which led to boos by the crowd again.

When a member of the audience asked Donald to talk about oil subsidies and profits by Pertonas, he said it was ‘not a state issue’ to more jeers from the audience.

church election forum 280208 crowdThe crowd also laughed at Donald’s expression as he passed the microphone to Thuan Seng several times to avoid questions.

Towards the tail end of the Q&A session, Maxwell Towers Residents Association chairman Victor Oorjitham had challenged the BN to sign a pledge that they help prevent Bukit Gasing from being developed and to get Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to make a public announcement that there will be no development on the 15.52 hectare secondary forest.

The crowd gave a standing ovation as Victor went up on stage to give the respective incumbents the pledge form.

Not signing pledge

However, Thuan Seng declined to sign it but promised to get the Kuala Lumpur City Hall to disclose their development plans.

church election forum 280208 lim thuan seng"I am not going to sign this pledge. When you talk about your rights, about justice and fairness but we must think about other people’s rights.

"I won’t say I can do this and that and perform miracles like somebody’s manifesto, they are bluffing. At the end of the day I will walk away with my conscience clear.

"If you want to vote me in or not this time, it’s your choice. I’ll do what I can for you. I’ll let my records speak for itself," he said.

Meanwhile Donald said he can sign the pledge but is unable to get Abdullah to make a public announcement.

"If you come to see me, we can do something about it. What for I sign something that is impossible. Come see me, we can discuss ways to get around it," he said to the amusement of the audience.

DBKL has approved land owner Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd’s plans to build 142 bungalows on the green lung of Petaling Jaya.

Protests have taken place since 2006 from residents concerned with the possible land erosion due to the hill’s soil composition which may results in landslides.

The Catholic SFX parish has previously held a similar dialogue between the BN and opposition candidates in the 2004 election.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Report card: Excellence, glory, distinction

Report card: Excellence, glory, distinction
Feb 26, 08 4:06pm
On the eve of the 2004 general election, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition unveiled an impressive manifesto under the slogan of ‘Excellence, Glory, Distinction’. It contains a slew of breathtaking promises involving the economy, education and religion, among others.

Four years later, with another election in two weeks, how did the BN fare in fulfilling its promises? Here’s our verdict.

Economy

In order to face future economic challenges, BN will:
  • Pursue economic growth strategies to achieve Vision 2020.
  • Enhance competitiveness in order to build a resilient and performance-based economy.
  • Develop rural areas as new centres for economic growth.
  • Exercise prudent and responsible fiscal management.

Four economic growth corridors were introduced during this period; Iskandar Development Region (IDR), Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), Eastern Corridor Economic Region (ECER) and Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

IDR, created in July, 2006, is expected to lead the way in helping different regions in Malaysia. Being the first among the four to be mooted by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s government, IDR’s progress will be a good indicator for the other three’s success.

However, IDR is currently is still in its infancy and it is still too early to gauge its success. Nevertheless, property developers such as Eastern & Oriental Bhd and UEM World continue to invest in this region.

Growth was kept between 5.2 percent and 7.2 percent from 2004-2007, in line with Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. Compared with other developing countries Malaysia is on par with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. Only China and India posted much higher figures, averaging 9.7 percent for the same period.

However, while the GDP growth is maintained and even matches and surpasses other developing countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, the GDP per capita continues to lag far behind them.

Hong Kong’s (population: 7 million) GDP per capita income is estimated to hit US$30,448 while Singapore (population: 4.5 million) and South Korea (population: 49 million) are expected to reach US$34,461 and US$20,634 respectively.

Malaysia’s GDP per capita income continues to trail 3-5 times below the above countries. In the latest Economic Report 2006-7, it is expected to touch US$7,098 if it achieves its target of 6-6.5 percent growth in 2008.

Another issue affecting BN’s claims to economic success pertains to corruption. Although, corruption in itself is not included directly in economic considerations, a high level results in unnecessary wastage of funds and a drop in investor confidence.

In an annual survey of expatriate business executives in 13 countries conducted by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), Malaysia came in seventh behind Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau and Taiwan.

Malaysia scored 6.25 in a grading system with zero as the best possible score and 10 as the worst.

Comments

Money flows freely again after the economy almost grinded to a halt soon after Abdullah took power. Major question marks - will there be open tenders for government procurements and what will happen when we become a net oil importer in five years?


Balanced development

Ensuring balanced socioeconomic development is an ongoing effort. BN will:

  • Fully eradicate poverty and reduce income disparity.
  • Ensure balanced regional development in all states throughout Malaysia.
  • Improve the effectiveness of social programmes to help marginalised groups such as Orang Asli, the disabled and elderly.
  • Enhance measures to protect our heritage and environment.
Chief among the problems plaguing the current administration continues to be the income disparity between urban and rural inhabitants. According to a United Nations Human Development Report in 2004, Malaysia has the highest disparity between the rich and the poor in Southeast Asia.

The report states that the richest 10 percent controls 38.4 percent of the economic income compared to the poorest 10 percent who control only 1.7 percent. As a result of this, Kuala Lumpur has seen increasing numbers of squatters and slums and an increase in petty crime such as snatch theft and robberies.

BN also did poorly on the protection of the environment. Here are some examples:

Currently there are several law suits in Sarawak where natives are suing timber giants for logging and having presence on native customary rights (NCR) land. Most natives have accused the state government to be in cahoots with the logging giants.

The government officially scrapped the Broga mega-incinerator in 2007 after dogged protests mounted by residents against the incinerator. Since 2002, villagers from Broga have protested against the 1,500-tonne incinerator plant on grounds that it posed a serious threat to public health, the environment and their livelihood.

The Save Bukit Gasing movement began after the land owner, Gasing Meridian Sdn Bhd, has applied to build 142 bungalows on the 15-hectare land in 2006.

Bukit Gasing - considered the green lunch of Petaling Jaya - is highly susceptible to land erosion due to its soil composition and have gotten residents worried that development on the hill would cause landslides.

The movement recently filed for a judicial review by the High Court to compel DBKL to hold a public hearing on the proposed development application on Feb 11, 2008 after the city hall denied residents access to their meeting with the developers.

Comments

While the government appears to make headway in the fight against poverty, it doesn’t look like it has the political will to bridge the income inequality gap. More so, when it ignores intra-ethnic disparities in its bid to strengthen the New Economic Policy.


Education

BN will advance our present education system as follows:
  • Ensure quality teaching and learning at all levels of education.
  • Enhance teaching of communication skills including English, ICT skills, problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
  • Foster student interaction to enhance national unity.
  • Enhance higher education institutions to produce high-calibre graduates.
In Nov 2005, a government survey revealed that nearly 60,000 Malaysian graduates were unemployed because of their lack of experience and poor English and communication skills. The study by the country's Economic Planning Unit in September said the typical unemployed graduate was female, from the majority ethnic Malay race and lower income groups.

In July 3, 2006, Deputy Human Resources Minister Abdul Rahman Bakar revealed that some 70% of public universities and institutes of higher learning graduates in the country are unemployed. UiTM (Mara Technology University) showed as having the highest number with 3,278 unemployed graduates. This is in contrast with 26% for private institutions of higher learning and 34% for foreign graduates.

At the same time, Human Resource Minister Fong Chan Onn disclosed that his ministry has spent a whopping RM82 million from RM100 million allocated to run a graduate retraining programme to sharpen the skills of unemployed graduates.

Local universities continue to perform poorly according to influential Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) on world university rankings.

Universiti Malaya (UM) plunged from its 89th place in 2004 to 192 in 2006. Last year it fell out of the top 200 rankings altogether. Meanwhile, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) rose by 105 places to break into the top 200 ranked universities for the first time, climbing from 289 last year to 185 in 2006. It did not make the top 200 cut a year later either.

Comments

Meritocracy in education is still a pipedream. Meanwhile, expect our top educational institutions to continue to slide downwards.


Religion

BN will:
  • Continue to build a progressive and modern Islam Hadhari.
  • Improve the application of syariah law in the country, and ensure Muslim women have recourse to a fair and just legal system.
  • Upgrade Islamic education through syllabus improvements, compulsory Arabic language courses for Muslim students and completion of Quran recital during primary school.
  • Enhance the welfare of imams and other religious officers.

Muslim-born Indian who was raised as a Hindu M Revathi was detained at the Malacca Syariah High Court in January last year when she attended a hearing over her application to have her official religious status be recognised as a Hindu. She was detained at the court and subsequently held at the Ulu Yam religious rehabilitation camp in Selangor for six months until she was freed in July 2007.

Born Siti Fatimah Abdul Karim to Muslim convert parents, Revathi said was subjected to ‘mental torture’ and was forces to pray, eat beef and wear a headscarf. It is part of Hindu tradition to avoid the consumption of beef. Her story sparked a row on Muslim conversion drawing vociferous views from proponents of religious freedom and Islamic commentators.

The issue of body snatching also raised religious tensions in December 2005 when Syariah Court ruled that Mount Everest hero M Moorthy was a Muslim on an application by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council despite his family’s insistence that the former army commander had died a practicing Hindu.

In Nov 30, 2006, Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) and the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) tried to claim Anthony Rayappan’s body from Hospital Kuala Lumpur morgue to bury him as a Muslim.

Rayappan, who was born a Roman Catholic, but converted to Islam in 1990 when he took a Muslim woman as his second wife. However, he had renounced Islam in 1996 and went back to his first wife Lourdes Mary and their six children. After a legal battle, Mais released the body back to Lourdes. She has sued the religious authorities for general, aggravated and exemplary damages.

There has also been demolition of Hindu temples which sparked activism by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf). According to the movement, 79 temples have been demolished nationwide since 2006. The height of these tensions reached its peak when the 100-year-old Sri Maha Mariaman temple located in Klang was demolished by Shah Alam City Council without a valid court order.

The controversy over the use of the word ‘Allah’ began when the Catholic Church’s weekly organ Herald was facing problems in renewing its yearly publishing permit allegedly over the use of the word ‘Allah’ in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

Although the Internal Security Ministry backed down and granted the weekly paper an unconditional permit, more disputes over religious materials soon surfaced.

This included Customs Department officials confiscating English language Christian children’s books said to contain offensive caricatures of prophets and English bibles thought to be for commercial use.

Sabah Sidang Injil Borneo Church president pastor Jerry Dusing has also filed a suit against Abdullah in his capacity as internal security minister over after six titles of children Christian literature from Indonesia containing the word ‘Allah’ for their Sunday school education were banned from being imported.

On Jan 29 this year, a teacher in Perak has been reprimanded for forcing six Hindu schoolboys to shave their mustaches and beards, which they were growing for Thaipusam. The teacher also forced the students to remove religious wristbands to enforce a rule that no ornaments be worn in school. The teacher has since apologised.

Comment

Islam Hadhari has appeared to fail miserably.

Rejected - Hindraf 5 to remain under ISA

Did we really expect the High Court to release the HINDRAF 5 -- after all note that the court can only look and see whether procedure was followed in the issuance of the Detention Order. The court cannot look and/or review the reasons forwarded for the Detention and/or whether there is any evidence whatsoever to support the said allegations.....



Rejected - Hindraf 5 to remain under ISA
Feb 26, 08 12:32pm

The Kuala Lumpur High Court today rejected the habeas corpus applications filed by five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders held under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Judge Zainal Azman Abdul Aziz told a packed courtroom that the detention order issued by the internal security minister was valid and met all the requirements under the ISA.

hindraff isa detainees 141207He said the court had taken into consideration the affidavits filed by the applicants and the affidavits filed in reply by the respondents, including the supporting affidavit by the minister.

However, he said there was nothing to show that the requirements were violated.

The judge also stated that based on previous cases, the minister could order a person to be detained under Section 8 of the ISA.

Hundreds of supporters

In their habeas corpus applications, the five stated that their detention was unlawful because of the vague grounds given for their arrest.

The five - P Uthayakumar, M Manoharan, T Vasantha Kumar, V Ganabatirau and R Kenghadharan were held on Dec 13 for allegedly organising an illegal assembly on Nov 25 and for making seditious statements against the government.

Disappointed with the judgment, some 300 Hindraf supporters outside the courtroom shouted 'Valga Hindraf' (long live Hindraf) and 'Valga Makkal Sakthi' (long live people's power).

The detainees' counsels Karpal Singh and his son Gobind Singh Deo told the crowd that an appeal would be filed with the Federal Court tomorrow.

Gobind said while they respected the court’s decision, they were not happy with it and vowed to fight for justice till the end.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An interesting read....before casting your vote

Of Bull, Broken promises, Blockheads, Buffoons, Bigots, and Bravehearts
by Martin Jalleh

It is the Year of the Rat. The Prime Minister (PM) has just let the cat out of the bag – the “General Elections (GE)” will be real soon, for there is a feeling amongst many that the country is going to the dogs.

The PM, who has never lost any sleep since he became the PM – has been trying to awaken the nation to an imminent GE. He had declared in June last year, in what could have been the most important statement of his political career: “I am no sleeping PM”!

Four years have passed swiftly by since Pak Lah became PM. He has made it very clear he is no “one-term” PM. Why, in between his many 40 photogenic winks he has even come up with Vision 2057! Who says the PM has failed to walk the talk -- when he has even managed Bolehland sleepwalking!

But the boys on the fourth floor of Putrajaya who have been spinning the broken record which critics have entitled “I started a joke” have a tough job ahead. Experts of make-believe and myths, they have to create a mega-mirage of a PM and a government with a proven track record this coming GE..

Often, and as was evident in 2007, their script and sandiwara have spun out of control by the silly statements of small-minded and self-serving sycophants surrounding the PM, causing Pak Lah and his government to stumble from one comic caper to another.

As the government’s delivery system fell apart, very symbolically and significantly so did structures give way in buildings such as parliament, the world’s second largest court complex in Jalan Duta and even Putrajaya.

Back to the PM’s “proven track record”, surely the year 2007 was a very “revealing” year and there was so much that the ordinary citizen of Bolehland could fall back on to help them decide who they should vote for this coming GE.

Excellent Economy
50 years ago, we were second in Asia in terms of economic development. Last year we were almost second last. We also had much lower FDIs than many other countries in ASEAN such as Thailand and Indonesia. But we were told our economy is doing well compared to many countries.

As one BN MP had so proudly declared in parliament last year, Bolehland had great cause to celebrate Merdeka, for we are “10 times more (economically) advanced than Ghana” which became independent in the same year as us!

Why bother with former European Commission Ambassador to Malaysia Thierry Rommel’s remark that the NEP amounted to protectionism against foreign companies? It is only “loglokal” that Umno still needs not only an unleveled-playing-field but also to move the goalposts from time to time.

2007 was another high point of Pak Lah’s premiership. We had to contend with high prices of food, fuel, gas, public transportation, tolls, etc. resulting in a high cost of living. We were told we were better off than four years ago. We
were merely paying the high price of believing some people in high places.

Even government backbenchers doubted the positive economic indicators by the government and expressed disappointment that the grassroots were not benefiting from domestic economic development. It is difficult to gauge what is going on in the grassroots when you are governing from the fourth floor!

Graft Galore
Pak Lah’s track record in his supposed “zero tolerance for corruption” drew a big zero in 2007. But there were several “firsts”. For the first time in the country serious allegations of corruption were made against the chief of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and even the Inspector General of Police (IGP)!

Corruption allegations were also made against the Deputy Internal Security Minister, the Sabah and the Sarawak Chief Ministers and the Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief! It was revealed that 40% of the senior police officers could be arrested without further investigations – strictly on the basis of their lifestyles!

Another first was when the parties suspected of corruption investigated each other! The police investigated the (then) chief of the ACA; the ACA investigated the Internal Security Deputy Minister and the IGP….and the Attorney-General decided that all three were clean!

What the Mahathir administration took to “achieve” in 22 years – pervasive corruption and criminal breach of trust, mismanagement and wastage of public funds – Pak Lah’s regime did even better in his first four years, made evident especially in the 2006 Auditor General’s Report.

Dr M’s administration ended with Malaysia being ranked No. 37 on the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in 2003. Three years after Pak Lah took over, Malaysia’s TI CPI ranking plunged to No. 44 in 2006. It is likely to plunge further.

Crippling Crime
Pak Lah also achieved a record of sorts with regard to his pledge of a drastic reduction of the crime rate in the country. For the first time in Bolehland’s history, the crime index crossed the 200,000 mark. The rakyat in Bolehland did not feel good nor safe at all – whether inside or outside their homes!

The crime rate soared from 156,315 cases in 2003 to 224,298 cases in 2007 – a sharp rise of some 45% in the past four years of Pak Lah’s premiership. The number of serious crimes increased by 13.36% nationwide, with gang robbery without the use of firearms rising by more than 159% .

Shocked by the crime statistics of 2007, Pak Lah came up with a multi-pronged anti-crime strategy. What was really needed was the setting up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), a key proposal by the Royal Police Commission.

The PM had in fact in principle agreed to the setting up of the IPCMC on 24 January 2006, but by the end of 2007 his track record showed that his biggest “crime” was to shelve the IPCMC and replace it with a toothless Special Complaints Commission proposal.

Blocking Bloggers
2007 saw the elite in Umno going berserk over blogs. For so long they had monopolised “the truth". Unable to “buy over” the countless blogs on the Internet as they do with newspapers, they did what they were best at – “criminalise” or demonise what was a major threat to them.

It was quite a record – they intimidated bloggers with police reports (and yet could not pinpoint what they were complaining about!), law suits, arbitrary arrests, police interrogations and threats of the government’s use of the ISA,
the Sedition Act and a host of other laws.

On International Women's Day, Tourism Minister Tunku Adnan bin Tengku Mansor put on record how the government (also read as Umno) felt about bloggers: “All bloggers are liars, they cheat people using all kinds of methods. From my understanding, out of 10,000 unemployed bloggers, 8,000 are women.”
“All bloggers are not in favour of national unity. Our country has been successful because we are very tolerant with each other, if not, there will be civil war, the Malays will kill the Chinese, the Chinese will take revenge and kill the Malays, and the Indians will kill everyone,” Adnan proved how asinine he was.

But bloggers were not bothered. (Raja Petra was the least petrified.) They refused to be cowed by the blather on blogs by the bunch of official blockheads. They took to heart former PM Dr M’s description of them as being the "only hope" left to speak out on problems in the country.

Puerile Parliament
Pak Lah had quite a track record of being absent from parliament. In fact he was more overseas than in the august house. In a 44-month period as PM he made 83 overseas trips. Yet his deputy Najib Tun Razak would declare: “Parliament’s importance has not diminished even after 50 years of independence”.

Najib added that the role of the country’s legislature “should be given due respect not only from the elected representatives but also the people”. It was difficult to take Najib seriously especially when one takes into account:
§ the serious problem of high absenteeism in parliament amongst BN MPs

§the presence of six cows and 10 goats on parliament grounds waiting to be slaughtered for a dinner scheduled at the banquet hall to celebrate Pak Lah’s wedding

§ the severe and recurrent leaking problem of parliament's roof and the “bocor” comments by two BN MP buffoons – with Minister in the PM’s Department Mohd. Nazri Abdul Aziz, and even Najib defending their remarks

§ the comments of spineless, silly, sexist and of course ‘stupid’ MPs

§ the hype, hypocrisy and of course, hysterics and histrionics in Parliament led byMinisters like Nazri

§ the arrest of over 20 people within the parliamentary precincts when they wanted to hand over a memorandum.

Idiocy & the ISA
The government of Pak Lah created its own track record on the 20th anniversary of Operation Lallang which took place last year. Minister in the PM’s Department Bernard Dompok claimed there had been no detention under the ISA after Pak Lah took over as PM in 2003!

Foreign affairs ministry parliamentary secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek had even the cheek to insist that “no one has demanded that the ISA be abolished”.

T
he PM himself declared that the ISA “is still relevant and useful” and that “matters pertaining to the rights of detainees will be given due consideration and assessment”. How can this be done when the basic tenet of the ISA is to detain a person without trial?

The Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) demolished Dompok’s claim by providing the statistics of arrests and renewal of detention orders under the ISA during Pak Lah’s premiership. They relieved Ahmad Shabery of his amnesia by forwarding him the long history calling for the abolishment of the ISA.

In a landmark decision the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that ex-ISA detainee Abdul Malek’s arrest was unlawful and that he was assaulted under police custody. He was awarded RM2.5 million in damages.

But it did not deter the government from ordering the arrest of five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) under the ISA on the false notion linking them to terrorists without a shred of evidence. Samy Vellu would later confirm that was no such evidence.

Muzzled Media

“I think this government under Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is a very, very liberal government,” Nazri tried very hard to convince himself as he spoke at a National Union of Journalists (NUJ) forum in September.
How and when was Pak Lah’s government “very, very liberal”? Was it when:

·
Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin (Zam) told the top editors of the media that there was “no need to tell the PM the truth”?

·
Chief secretary to the government Mohd Sidek Hassan instructed the media to avoid emphasising on news deemed negative against the government, such as the 2006 Auditor-General’s report?

· C
hairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Halim Shafie ordered broadcasters against giving airtime for speeches by opposition political parties?

· t
he media were barred from covering the public hearing on crime held by the
Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights and Good Governance in Petaling Jaya by Caucus chairman Nazri Abdul Aziz,?

·
all editors were rounded up to take specific instructions from the 4th Floor Boys in Putrajaya as to how to report the wedding of Pak Lah?

·
Zam told local newspapers not to quote from Internet blogs or use them as sources of information?

·
the Internal Security Ministry issued a directive to mainstream media not to publish any news on the issue of Malaysia being an Islamic State and only to publish statements from Pak Lah and his deputy?

·
Bernard Dompok’s disagreement with the PM and deputy PM that the country was an Islamic state was blacked out by the mainstream media?

·
editorial interference led to self-censorship which in turn had resulted in stories being slanted heavily towards the government such as the public rallies by Bersih and Hindraf?

The “liberalism” which Nazri spoke so proudly of resulted in Bolehland achieving the worst-ever ranking in the latest worldwide press freedom index released by Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – the sharpest plunge of 32 spots from 92 to 124 placing, which is also Malaysia’s worst ranking in the RSF annual worldwide press freedom ranking since it was started in 2002

Judicial Jesters
The defects which began to show on nine occasions in a three-month period after the opening of the second largest court complex in the world in Jalan Duta were very symbolic of the state of the judiciary in 2007.

Here too Pak Lah and his government achieved a record of sorts. The two main players were then Chief Justice (CJ) Ahmad Fairuz and Nazri
who is also the de facto Law Minister. Both were ready to do whatever it took and to utter the most naïve and nonsensical in order to maintain the status quo.

For the first time, the country did not have a Chief Judge for eight months, and the Nazri would insist that there “is no law that says the Chief Justice cannot act as the Chief Judge of Malaya”.

It was also the first time when a de facto Law Minister of Bolehland openly declared that he is the Minister for the Chief Justice! It showed how nascent Nazri was.

For the first time too the country heard a CJ confess the existence of judges who

(a) were often seen socializing with lawyers, prosecutors and corporate figures while hearing their cases in court;

(b) were “constantly angry and foul-tempered”, portraying themselves as being the most brilliant or perfect judge in court;

(c) accepted bribes.

No action was taken against all these judges!

The super fast-track appointment of Umno lawyer Zaki Azmi as the president of the Court of Appeal was also unprecedented. The government was passing a vote of no confidence on the judiciary and saying there was no one else in the judiciary worthy of the position!

Fairuz would go on to advocate the abolition of Common Law and favouring its replacement by an Islamic law system. He would challenge
Karpal Singh to reveal the name of a Federal Court judge who had not written judgments in as many as 35 cases. When the latter did, the then CJ kept an elegant silence.

With his track record, Fairuz was put on a fast-track to retirement. It was perhaps the most “correct, correct, correct” thing that Pak Lah and his government did. It would also give Fairuz a lot of time to recall his supposed infamous telephone conversation with V. K. Lingam.

People Power
2007 was a year when the ordinary citizens decided courageously to record their feelings on the streets of Bolehland. They believed in their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, in spite of the government’s poor track record of respecting these rights.

And so they told Pak Lah the truth –

on 8 Sept. when 750 people gathered near Batu Buruk, in Trengganu for a Bersih ceremah;

on 26 Sept. when 2,000 lawyers and others marched to the PM's Department in Putrajaya to hand over a memorandum asking for a Royal Commission to investigate the lingering Lingam tape scandal.

On 10 Nov. 40,000 converged at Istana Negara to express their concern over the conduct of elections in Malaysia;

on 25 Nov., about 40,000 ethnic Indians protested against the marginalisation of the Indian community;

on 9 Dec., a 100-odd crowd attempted to conduct a march commemorating Human Rights Day.

The tell-me-the-truth government could not handle the truth. Predictably each assembly was labeled “illegal” – is the Federal Constitution illegal? We were told it is not our culture to demonstrate – ask Umno, its in their history. It will damaged the country’s good name – peaceful assemblies are a common democratic feature overseas. There will be violence – only when the police “riot”.

In sharp contrast was former deputy PM Musa Hitam, who, when asked in an interview whether Malaysia is ready for peaceful assemblies, spontaneously declared: “Yes! Come on, we have been independent for 50 years”!

Pak Lah’s ministers stammered, stuttered and struggled to make some sense in front of the international media and to justify the government’s desperate responses such as charging the peaceful Hindraf assembly for “attempted murder”!

The mainstream media sank to a new low. At the 50th year of our nationhood we still have a servile press sucking up to their political superiors and giving stories a spin and a slant that suits, soothes and serves the government.

The police pranced, pounced on and provoked. They pushed and pulverized. They pummeled and reduced to a pulp. They pounded with chemical-laced water and pierced the air with tear gas.

But the people, especially in the Bersih and Hindraf assemblies showed they were no longer afraid. There were even moments when they stood their ground. The police lost all authority and respect Fully armed, they were helpless!

Rage on Race & Religion
For years Malaysia was very well known as Asia’s melting pot of races and religion. But Pak Lah’s track record showed a country gradually turning into a boiling pot – a land where opportunistic politicians used race and religion to stir the cauldron.

The PM, of whom well-known writer M. Bakri Musa calls “His Hollowness the Imam of Islam Hadhari” failed to put a leash on the increasing number of lower echelon zealots
or those whom columnist Helen Ang calls “Little Mullah Napoleons” running riot with their brand of religion.

Marina Mahathir’s Musings in May 2007 highlighted the existence of a “new association registered for the propagation of the shallow and superficial (SS)” and meant for those “who have nothing better to do with their lives than look for monsters under their beds, enemies in their blankets or crosses in their buns”.

“Just as we don't see the supreme irony of trumpeting our religious superiority while at the same time claiming that it only takes biscuits to destroy us, we don't see the irony of extolling ourselves as a superior race while at the same time insisting on crutches and handouts,” was Marina’s marvelous conclusion.

“2007 has proved to be one of the most divisive and troubled years in the half-a-century of Malaysia's nationhood – with religious polarization assuming its most serious dimension, compounding an already difficult problem of racial polarization in the nation-building process,” observed Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang.

In 2007, Pak Lah would create a record of sorts by contradicting himself time and again on matters concerning race and religion. For example, he would preach the virtues of inter-religious dialogue but would go on to ban the Building Bridges Conference, a seminar meant to bring together Christian and Muslim scholars of international repute.

The PM would insist on Malaysians being sensitive to each other but he would defend Hishammuddin’s brandishing of the keris at the Umno annual general assembly. He would also give his blessings to Umno holding its annual general assembly – on Deepavali!

He would emphasise that Malaysia is not a secular nor a theocratic state but would later decide to follow his deputy in declaring that Malaysia is an Islamic state – and made sure that the mainstream media carried his and Najib’s views only – what a dialogue!

In his Christmas message of 2007 he would call on Malaysians to move forward and put the country’s interest before any “narrowly-defined demands”. He would then be so “narrow-minded” as to ban the use of the word “Allah” by those of non-Muslim faiths, and its use in the Herald, a Catholic weekly!

Anwar Ibrahim provides a good comment on Pak Lah's track record in this regard: “The ruling BN coalition is appealing to Muslim sentiment to reinforce its support in elections which could come in March…Malaysia's problem is not radicalism…The real issue is what I would describe as state-sponsored Muslim puritanism more by racist sentiments than religious principles.”

Flip-flopping into the future?
The once looking good PM who had the people feeling good, increasingly failed to deliver the goods of transparency and accountability. Indeed in 2007, the supposed fairy tale of change by Pak Lah became what it really was – a full-bloom farce.

After four years, the PM
has no concrete results to show – just cheap claptrap. The only significant change of Pak Lah was when he made an amendment to the Federal Constitution to allow the then 65-year-old Election Commission Chief to serve until the age of 66 – do you smell a rat?

Will the citizens of Bolehland re-elect the “flip-flop” PM and continue to stomach the
farce, flaws and fraud flung at our faces by the 4th Floor Boys? Will Malaysians want to bring back the many soiled reputations, spent characters and self-seeking politicians of UMNO and the BN?

It is time to get real. Even the part-time model “space participant”, who came close to a moonwalk at the cost of RM90 million of our hard-earned money, had to come down to earth, and is probably busy back at the catwalk.

Indeed, ratting through the past four years it does not take very much for one to see that Pak Lah has ratted on his promises of 2004. Surely, enough is enough! A
Happy Rat Year!

Martin Jalleh
14 Feb. 2008

Pulling up bosses who abuse foreign workers

2008/02/19
Pulling up bosses who abuse foreign workers
By : Suganthi Suparmaniam

insidepix1

KUALA LUMPUR: The Labour Department will go all out this year to prosecute employers who mistreat their foreign workers as they have tainted Malaysia's good name.

Its legal and enforcement chief, Khamis A. R. Majid, said each of its 300 officers were expected to prosecute at least two cases this year.

To date, the department has 45 cases pending. They include unpaid wages, unfair deductions of salaries and abusive employers.

He acknowledged that outsourcing companies, which bring in workers in large numbers before contracting them out to work with different employers, have caused many problems.

"We will do our best to inspect the outsourcing companies," he said, adding that cancelling the permits of such unscrupulous companies was not under his jurisdiction.
"We are serious. We are going all out to investigate those who employ foreign workers," he said at a conference on "Developing a Comprehensive Policy Framework for Migrant Labour" here yesterday.

The conference, jointly organised by the Bar Council and the International Labour Organisation, was attended by about 300 participants.

Khamis said his department had also proposed that employers pay for the insurance for their domestic workers, failing which they would be fined a maximum of RM20,000 or jailed for two years.

He said foreign workers should seek the help of the labour department if they were mistreated by their employers.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

RICH getting RICHER poor getting poorer....

Now, if we were to look at the distribution of wealth in Malaysia based on ethnicity, of course the figures will not be reflective of the wealth of individual households within that particular ethnic group.

The government must provide us with the statistics that show us how much wealth or income that households do have...and I am sure we will find that the majority of households are really not well off - if not poor...irrespective of whether the are Malay, Chinese, Indian, Semai, Kadazan, etc..

After all, Malaysia has been shown to have the biggest gap between the rich and the poor...whereby the richest 10% own 22 times more than the poorest 10%.

"Malaysia has the largest gap between rich and the poor in Southeast Asia, where the top 10 percent is 22.1 times richer than the poorest 10 percent. Malaysia's income gap is higher than Philippines (16.5), Thailand (13.4), Indonesia (7.8) and Vietnam (8.4). The richest 10 percent in Malaysia controls 38.4 percent of the country's economic income as compared to the poorest 10 percent controlling 1.7 percent."

In fact, it should not just be the Indian poor out there in the streets claiming discrimination - it should be the Malaysian poor...

I am sure that some of the "rich" are not listed as they are clever in concealing their wealth...and after all this list is based on 'public records' i.e. of "value of stakes in listed companies..". What about lands and property they own? What about non-listed companies? What about other assets?

As mentioned before, the only one to blame for this unequal (or inequitable) distribution of wealth amongst Malaysians and Malaysian households, families and individuals is our government --- oh yes that Barisan Nasional government (before the Perikatan government) - the one and only government we have had...

Maybe time for a change is here...



Kuok's still 'Mr Richest'
Feb 16, 08 2:56p

Sugar King Robert Kuok Hock Nien remains the richest Malaysian, ahead by a wide margin from closest rival T Ananda Krishnan, according to Malaysian Business magazine's list of 40 Richest Malaysians.

robert kwokThe magazine in its Feb 16 issue puts Kuok's wealth at RM58.11 billion, which accounts for nearly 36 percent of the total wealth of the 40 richest.

The Hong Kong-based tycoon added a whopping RM25.7 billion to his vast fortune last year, due to the higher equity prices of his stable of listed stocks.

It said Ananda Krishnans fortune however registered a marginal drop to RM19.63 billion.

IOI Corporation Bhd's Lee Shin Cheng, said the magazine, has for the first time etched himself in the top three position of Malaysia's richest by doubling his fortune to RM14.94 billion.

YTL patriarch dislodged

Others in the top-10 ranking are Quek Leng Chan of Hong Leong Group (RM11.098 billion), Syed Mokhtar Albukhary of the Albukhary Foundation (RM8.550 billion), Teh Hong Piow of Public Bank (RM8.060 billion), Lim Kok Thay of Genting (RM3.168 billion) and Tiong Hiew King of the Rimbunan Hijau Group (RM3.87 billion).

The magazine said two tycoons found their way to the Top-10 - Vincent Tan of Berjaya Group (RM3.409 billion) and Azman Hashim of Amcorp Group (RM2.87 billion).

"They dislodged YTL Corp patriarch Yeoh Tiong Lay who slips to 13th position (RM1.747 billion)," it said.

Among the notable new entrants to the list is Singapore-based Ong Beng Seng who, at RM1.74 billion, ranks number 14.

The others are Tony Tiah Thee Kian of TA Enterprise Bhd, Lau Cho Kun of Gek Poh Holdings, Lin Yun Ling of Gamuda Bhd, Liew Kee Sin of SP Setia Bhd and Kwan Ngen Chung of Kwantas Corporation Bhd.

The full list of the 40 tycoons and details of their wealth appears in the magazines Feb 16 issue. Their wealth was assessed based on the value of their stakes in listed companies as at Jan 18, 2008," the magazine said.