Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wear yellow and fly yellow above the national flag

Raja Petra Kamarudin in his "No Holds Barred" article today on civil disobedience suggested a non-rebellious way for Malaysians to show their displeasure at the shenanigans of the current administration, as well as show support to His Royal Highnesses the Rulers who have lately been articulating the concerns and despair of the rakyat. He made two suggestions:

1) Fly a strip of yellow cloth on top of the national flag on 31 Aug (Merdeka Day) as well as on 16 Sep (Malaysia Day). Refer to the picture below for an illustration.

2) Wear yellow, which not only is the royal colour of all the Rulers, it is also a colour representing people's power in most ASEAN countries. Wear yellow on 31 Aug (Merdeka Day) and on 16 Sep (Malaysia Day).

These two suggestions are doable and practical. Whether Malaysians feel the fate of this nation is important enough for them to take part in this act of civil disobedience remains to be seen. If Malaysians can't seem to be able to understand Raja Nazrin's various recent advice and articulation on the need for national unity based on respecting the Constitution, ensuring only persons of integrity and trustworthiness helms the government, and claim the right to an equal place under the Malaysian sun, and put that understanding into action by voting wisely and not blindly, then Malaysians have only themselves to blame when the country crosses the point of no return towards a failed state.

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Do you feel elated this 50th Merdeka?

Consider the following series of news.

Pak Lah after hemming and hawing claimed that Malaysia is neither a secular nor a theocratic state. This after his dear old deputy claimed that Malaysia has never been a secular state, but an Islamic state. Yesterday in Parliament, in a written reply to Kit Siang's question, he changed tack and declared that Malaysia is a "negara Islam" (debateable if he meant Islamic state or Islamic country...perhaps he is just being intentionally vague, as usual), ruled base on Islam Hadhari (whatever that is). Not only that, he keep self-praising his Islam Hadhari saying

"Islam Hadhari is a guideline for the government to be fair and equitable to all communities in the country"
Yeah right, fair to the Klang Untouchables perhaps.

Also, as expected, Kit Siang's attempt to force an open discussion of the RM4.6bil bailout (the largest in Malaysian history) fiasco of Port Klang Free Zone in Parliament has been stalled by the Speaker. Kit has spoken to Capt. Yusof Ahmad (Ancient Mariner), an ex-PKA staff who has served his entire career with the port authority and has blogged plenty on this mega-nonsense, to get better information in preparation for the debate which never happened. Ramli Ngah Talib, the speaker of the house, claimed that since the government is looking into the matter, there is no need for the august house to discuss the matter. Yeah, right, looking into the matter of covering the whole matter up, giving a RM4.6bil "soft loan", and letting the perpetrators get off scot free (and obscenely rich).

And what about the unintentional spill-out made by newly minted Ijok assemblyman K. Parthiban? In an interview with Malaysiakini, he inadvertently mentioned that Selangor BN assemblyperson like himself get some RM2mil of annual allocation for "development" purposes. Wow! There are 54 BN state assemblyperson in Selangor, and that comes up to RM108mil annually, just for them to spend, entirely within their own discretion, with no way for anyone to check on their expenditure because DAP assemblyman for Sg. Pinang Teng Chang Kim says that money is not listed in the state budget. I wonder where the money comes from, and this is the fairness of Islam Hadhari of Pak Lah? Sg. Pinang and Sekinchan residents are lesser Selangorians so they don't need the RM2mil discretionary development fund?

Yesterday morning MTUC members gathered at Parliament to hand a letter of protest against the amendments to the Industrial Relations Act, scheduled to be the first bill to be debated. According to Liz Wong, what happened next is nothing short of disgraceful. One of the secretaries fo the Backbenchers Club came out to inform the unionists that they should come back some other day because the amendments to the above Act will only be tabled for discussion later because the Supply Bill (Additional) is to be debated first. And lo and behold, the first bill to be debated that afternoon was the Industrial Relations Act. This is what you call a government with integrity.

And lastly, the suspension of Makkal Osai, the Tamil daily aligned to S. Subramaniam, MIC's former deputy president and arch rival to Samy Vellu. The daily was suspended for a month after somebody inadvertently published an insensitive picture of Jesus Christ smoking and with a beer in one hand. The daily quickly apologized, suspended the said person, and even met with representatives from the MCCBCHS, various Christian groups such as Roman Catholic Church, Council of Churches Malaysia, National Christian Evangelical Fellowship which have all said the matter should be forgiven since they have already apologized. They are surprised that the ministry has gone ahead with the suspension, when more serious issue such as the mob which confronted a Catholic Church in Ipoh upon a rumour spread by none other than the Perak mufti has never been tackled by the government. The suspension smells more like a political ploy by forces aligned to Samy Vellu to make sure no dissent is raised over the controversial Maika AGM to be held tomorrow (30 Aug), as well as to eliminate the last remnant of challenge from his ex-deputy.

Do you still feel elated? I for one feel like weeping for this nation. 50 years and this is where we have ended up at. Is this the meaning of Merdeka?

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Friday, August 24, 2007

More attempts at Islamisation of our judiciary

Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz in a speech at the "Ahmad Ibrahim: Thoughts and Knowledge Contribution" raised the specter of removing our judiciary's practice of refering to the English Common Laws when making judgments. According to him, such a practice reflects our inability to remove the shackles of colonialism. In its place, he was suggesting using decisions made in Islamic courts (whatever he is trying to refer to), or Islamic principles, in interpreting our Constitution, Acts, and Enactments. If this is not another attempt at subtle pushing for a more far-reaching influence of Islam into the judiciary, perhaps the statement of the Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail regarding how it is about time for the judiciary to include Syariah principles so as to "strengthen" our judicial system will change your mind. Read YB Kit Siang's blog-entry on this matter for a more thorough view. Read this, this, this, and this for responses to the CJ's call.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lynching of Wee Meng Chee continues

After trying to be a hero in forcing the guy and his dad to make an apology to "those who are offended", requests people to accept that apology and move on, now MCA has done an about turn (non other than the Health Minister himself who humiliated the guy in front of national media) and now sings Umno's tune that Wee Meng Chee has to be punished by law. The Malay mainstream media seems to be on a witch hunt. Maklumlah, they have to lick and suck their political masters' dicks and balls. They have to manufacture this "issue" (even though the Internal Security Ministry has issued a gag order to the media in continuing this fiasco) to divert attention away from the really, really serious issues plaguing the country, caused by the administration, namely the PKFZ RM4.6bil bailout, the RM1.1bil new Istana (ballooned from RM400mil), the deaths of 20 bus passengers due to corruption and zero-enforcement, another potential Constitutional crisis, split in PDRM, blatant corruption, subversion of the supremacy of our Constitution, etc. No wonder they're doing overtime manufacturing all these "issues" which are nothing but "non-issues" in the first place. But are Malaysians aware enough to differentiate black and white?

Meanwhile, the MCMC has started investigating Negaraku-ku (hello MCMC, what are you guys doing about the SMS scams exposed by Jeff Ooi not too long ago in a series of blog entries?). Also, Rawang village residents affected by TNB's insistence on building high-tension transmission line over their houses have ended up in 4 arrests, and 4 injured women. Also, MCA's "heroic" antics during their AGM last weekend looked like nothing but hot air. Umno through Utusan Malaysia has started to put them down in their place again. Now MaChAi...sit boy, sit! Roll dog, roll! Beg boy, beg! Good boy! Nah, some crumbs for you, courtesy of your Umno masters.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Screwing Dubai in PKFZ, still hope they'll come to IDR?

Public Accounts Committee chairperson Shahrir Samad expressed fears that the fiasco that is the PKFZ will have a spillover effect on the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) down south. The same group of Dubai based investors being wooed by the government will either have invested in the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), or have close business links with others who have invested there. And we all know now how PKFZ's owner Port Klang Authority (PKA) have screwed Jafza which eventually pulled out of a 15-year contract to manage and market PKFZ. And nothing beats word of mouth in business, whether it's positive or negative. Meanwhile, The Sun has dug up more shit on this mega fiasco called the PKFZ. But will the government do anything about it? Of course it will! Bail it out using taxpayers' money to the tune of billions of ringgit, and the perpetrators will get off scot free! Malaysia Boleh!

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Friday, August 17, 2007

The Straits Times article on Raja Nazrin

Nothing much to say, except that this piece by Ooi Kee Beng, author of "The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time", captures the essence of what Raja Nazrin has been trying to do lately, and what he is trying to achieve by doing so. I reproduce it here.


Royal voice for racial harmony
By Ooi Kee Beng, For The Straits Times

ROYAL IMPACT: In a country where royalty is often silent, a vocal prince speaking about issues that interest the general public has been more than welcomed...The question that remains is: How far will he let himself go, and how far will he be allowed by the powers that be to go?

THE crown prince of Malaysia's Perak state, Raja Nazrin Shah, holder of a Harvard University PhD in Political Economy and Government, has always been a respected personage in Malaysia, but never nearly as much as he is esteemed at present.

Why this is so is explained by his choice of issues in a series of speeches he has been giving recently, and by how his focus earns ready response among common Malaysians.

In a real sense, this love affair acts as a painful reminder of what it is that ails the present regime in 50-year-old Malaysia.

Perhaps this new phase in Raja Nazrin's relationship with Malaysia's citizens started a fortnight after the annual meeting of the dominant United Malays National Organisation (Umno) in November 2006 at which provocative remarks were made by party members against non-Malays despite the proceedings being telecast live.

Feelings ran high for a while, testing even the patience of non-Malay parties within the ruling coalition. Deeply concerned, Raja Nazrin pondered openly in a newspaper interview then that 'dividing lines of race' had become prevalent after the 1969 racial riots, eclipsing the perception first generation leaders held that national unity must come before all else.

Despite the enviable economic progress that Malaysia has enjoyed since 1969, inter-racial attitudes have indeed deteriorated from a give-and-take attitude to a belief that progress is a zero- sum game, which leaves little room for 'humility, generosity of spirit and intellectual curiosity'.

The key question the prince asked was: 'Why has economic wealth not improved inter-ethnic relations?' His answers were as simple as they were clear: first, Malaysians no longer considered diversity a blessing; second, there were too many immature and irresponsible leaders using parochialism for their own ends; and third, racial and religious segregation was being encouraged and allowed from a very young age.

The nine months or so following that interview have seen the prince utilising a series of platforms to voice his worries and speak against the belief that national unity was achievable through domination by one race, one religion or one ideology.

He instead urged that mutual understanding, genuine respect, good role models and sound institutions were what a diverse Malaysia needed.

On April 3, he made an excellent speech (excerpts of which were published in these pages) to young Malaysians, calling for the Constitution, the Rukunegara (Principles of the Nation) and Vision 2020 to be 'defended and promoted'. Most noteworthy was his statement that 'Malaysians of all races, religions and geographic locations need to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have a place under the Malaysian sun'.

'The price of racial and cultural intolerance,' he added, 'must be made prohibitively high.' His great fear was that young Malaysians would, given present trying times, increasingly entertain 'cynicism and hopelessness'.

He reiterated his stand two days later at the Ave Maria Convent in Ipoh, calling on students to defend the 'unique identity' that had evolved out of racial diversity. He donated RM100,000 (S$44,000) to the Catholic school. The following week, he gave RM100,000 to Sam Tet Secondary School, and on that occasion advised teachers and parents to teach their children to reject 'racial extremism and religious fanaticism'.

Throughout May, the 50-year-old prince was busy with his marriage to Zara Salim Davidson. Not only was the news of the royal wedding welcomed, Raja Nazrin's advice to firms and individuals to avoid buying advertising space to congratulate him and his family and to donate the money to charity instead went down very well with his countrymen.

His popularity increased further when he declined a state offer to fund the wedding, saying that he would bear all expenses himself.

Raja Nazrin continued to develop his thoughts about reforming Malaysia further, and on July 30 he gave a speech in commemoration of the late Prof Syed Hussein Alatas, Malaysia's most famous social scientist.

He spoke then against corruption, an issue that has concerned and frustrated Malaysians for decades, and warned that 'once corruption becomes widespread, it will no longer seem immoral and unlawful - just business as usual'. He called for regulatory and institutional curbs, and proposed that those with 'a chequered past or clear evidence of questionable morality' should not be allowed to take office.

Although the prince has always avoided criticising the present administration directly, his words nevertheless echo the widespread displeasure Malaysians feel about Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's lack of success, and will, in fighting corruption, and with the fact that many who are in power are tainted by allegations of corruption.

On Aug 3, speaking at the launch of the Malay translation of a book on Malaysia's former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail (disclosure: I wrote the English original of the book, The Reluctant Politician) at Universiti Malaya, Raja Nazrin was overcome by emotion several times. He later told friends that it was because he was overwhelmingly reminded of the sacrifices that the late Tun Dr Ismail had made for the country, and of how much still needed to be done.

While the prince had spoken of the need for role models before, he had not provided any names to emulate. He seemed now to have found character traits worth promulgating in Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman. Praising his commitment, integrity and openmindedness, he said that he saw in Tun Dr Ismail 'a statesman, an inspirational leader and a visionary...who envisaged a Malaysia for all without colour lines, without ethnic borders and without any one group feeling a sense of inferiority'.

Again, the prince's disappointment in certain leaders could be discerned: 'The citizens' loyalty to their leaders must not be defiled by the actions of leaders...driven by greed to obtain wealth for themselves and their families.'

He ended his poignant speech by declaring to Tun Dr Ismail's family that 'the country and the people are indebted to you'.

Two days later, the prince continued along the same vein when addressing the inaugural Student Leaders Summit in Kuala Lumpur. He asserted that rule of law, inviolability of the Constitution, economic and social justice for all, good governance and a thriving civil society were necessary for successful nation building.

He advised his young audience to familiarise themselves with the Constitution, seek inspiration from history, study past sacrifices made by exemplary leaders such as Tun Dr Ismail, take personal ownership over the well-being of the country, resist cynicism and opportunism, promote inter-ethnic activities and develop their personal capacity.

In closing, he reminded his audience that while expertise of all sorts could be imported, what could not be bought or hired was integrity.

In a country where royalty is often silent, a vocal prince speaking about issues that interest the general public has been more than welcomed. The approach the prince has developed over the last few months strikes a chord with many, even leading an opposition leader to request that he be made adviser to the prime minister.

The question that remains is: How far will he let himself go, and how far will he be allowed by the powers that be to go?

The writer is Fellow at Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He is the author of The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time (ISEAS 2006). This is a personal comment.

In tomorrow's Review pages: Excerpts from Raja Nazrin Shah's speech at the launch of the Malay version of The Reluctant Politician on Aug 4.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dr M's meet with bloggers yesterday

Tun Dr Mahathir yesterday spent some two-and-a-half-hour making a speech addressing a group of some 100 bloggers who have gathered at the Perdana Leadership Foundation HQ in Putrajaya. There were already hints from Raja Petra Kamarudin earlier that the early hunky-dory story from Bernama on how Pak Lah and Dr M are buddies again after the Langkawi International Dialogue is nothing but a farce, and Dr M will show it in yesterday's event. Anyway, Dr M touched on a host of issues, including the call for bloggers to be united, not be cowed by the intimidation of the administration, and write with facts, figures and without fear. Calling bloggers and netizens as the only hope left in the face of an onslaught from a totally paralysed Umno (in terms of its inability to correct itself), he gave this advice:

“You have to gather force. You have to talk to people. Even if you are arrested, you go and talk... If you have only one person doing that, it’s not good enough.

“If you want to do something that is positive, you have to get everybody, as much as possible, and do it openly and say it loud and clear.”

Source: Malaysiakini
Rocky has quite a number of entries about the event (here and here), as well as Harakah who reported that Dr M said the Malays can't seem to break out of their tendency to vote for Umno. Malaysia-Today has a video recording of the event. Malaysiakini also provided a good overview of the various topics touched by Dr M (who called Malaysiakini a "pain in the neck" for him). I reproduce it below:
Malaysiakini was a 'pain in the neck'
Aug 15, 07 10:01pm

Below are excerpts of key topics covered by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his two-and-a-half-hour speech-cum-dialogue with about 100 bloggers today.

The event was organised by Warga Prihatin Malaysia (Prihatin) and was held at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya.

On the emergence of online dissidents

During my time, the pain-in-the-neck was Malaysiakini.com. I must admit I was very annoyed with them simply because I find that what they said about me was not right... was not true at all.

Of course, everybody assumed that I was corrupt. Even if I said I was not, people won’t believe you. Nowadays if you say you didn’t bribe, people will believe you.

But today, the number of bloggers are just so many, (this means) something must really be wrong (with the current administration). Otherwise, it would be Malaysiakini.com only.

I met Malaysiakini.com and I explained why I did those things before. I don’t know if they believe me or not. I may have committed sins. I don’t think anyone inside this hall has not committed sins before. We all commit some sins at some stage or other.

But if just because we’ve committed some sins therefore we feel shy about saying anything, then of course, others would continue with doing the wrong things.

On the 'rotten' state of the country

Shakespeare said in Hamlet, “There is something rotten in Denmark”. Maybe, our gathering today is because there is something rotten in the state of Malaysia.

The stench is so strong until we have to find a way to reduce the smell. We have to discuss the issues which caused the stench. But what is real about our situation? That would depend on your point of view.

If we were to follow the (reports of the) mainstream media, everything is very good. Everything smells very nice - from politics, to economy or even society.

On judicial appointments

The power (to appoint important judicial positions) is with the prime minister, not the Agung (king). The Agung must follow whatever advice given by the prime minister. When a PM is not brave enough to hold on to this basis, we will have a situation where it is very difficult to appoint a judge.

On a story in Sunday Star in which Khairy Jamaluddin was referred to as a ‘political son of Mahathir’

Spot on! I am a dictator remember? I had an administration that was cruel and harsh... that arrest people and put them under ISA (Internal Security Act) all the time, spend money on mega-projects until the country is bankrupt... that is Dr Mahathir and that is Khairy!

It’s a compliment to him, not to me. I’m grateful. I don’t have to say anything else. Next question?

On press censorship

I’m waiting for what’s going to happen to the editor of The Star (who) allowed the article by (the) former IGP (inspector-general of police Hanif Omar) to be published. I’m quite sure somebody is going to get blasted for letting that article to come out.

(In his article on Aug 12, Hanif claimed that there was a severe split in the police force with one group taking orders from the current IGP while another taking orders from the Internal Security Ministry).

On the purchase of a portion of MV Augusta by BMW

Somebody who bought from Proton and (later) sold Augusta to BMW made a profit... why didn’t Proton wait in the past? They could have been made offers by other companies such as BMW. Instead, they sold it for RM4 to Gevi.

Who is this Gevi? I’ve tried to find out. It’s not listed in the Italian stock exchange... This is a mystery. Not only is the smell bad, there is a lot of mystery about this smell. Bau busuk.

But we cannot question (the decision to sell MV Augusta) because the people involved were ‘very good’ - people with strong nationalist sentiments. That’s why they are willing to save Proton from losses by selling it for RM4.

(At this juncture, Mahathir was interrupted from the floor by former Proton chief executive Mahaleel Ariff who said that BMW paid RM446 million for MV Augusta)

Oh my goodness... tapi apa kira? (but so what?) we are capable of taking losses... RM300 million... RM400 million... it’s nothing to us...

On politics

I don’t want to say much about politics... Today, politics is not something that we can discuss because the people who are in charge of politics know everything already. So don’t ever suggest anything is wrong with Malaysian politics.

On selling water to Singapore

We don’t have to negotiate (with Singapore) to sell them 1,000 gallons of water for three sen. That is a reasonable price. If we were to buy nasi lemak for three sen, we might get three grains of rice.

Oil prices go up. Cigarette prices go up. But since 1927, the price of water for Singapore is still the same. Their ability to control inflation is so good that their price of water cannot go up. So we should pat ourselves in the back for our ability to control inflation.

On siding with the opposition

I don’t side with the opposition. I side with my country, my race, my religion and my party (Umno). When I say I side with my party, (it) doesn’t mean I side with the party leaders.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My turn to feel despair today...

...after Lulu's despair yesterday. A couple of things:-

1) Suhakam has revealed a report on the sufferings and plight of the Penans in Sarawak after a detailed study and investigation was done when the Penans brought their plight to them. The Penans have been facing immense pressure from the Sarawak Government's complicity with logging companies to clear their ancestral land. They have fought the injustices as well as non-recognition of their plight and rights to the forest in the courts, but have not seen much success. What is worse, the Suhakam report actually found that the Penans have now lost legal avenue to claim their rights over their ancestral land because of the enactment and subsequent amendment to the Sarawak Land Code which do not recognize the Penan's historic custom ownership and stewardship of land. This despite the fact that the Penans are an indigenous group of Sarawak.

2) Potential biggest financial scandal of Pak Lah's administration in the RM4.6bil bailout of Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ). Ronnie Liu of DAP was one of the very first people who exposed the sorry state of the huge PKFZ which was modeled after the Dubai Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza). The whole place resembles a ghost town, with barely a few companies taking up the space available. What is worse, the entire project has now been exposed, backed with documentary evidence, as a potential massive financial fraud involving senior figures of an Umno division, Port Klang Authority, Transport Ministry, and Finance Ministry. Also, Jafza pulled out of the whole thing after being frustrated with the various chicanery, politics, bureaucracy, and machinations of certain individuals which, in the words of Chuck Heath (a top official of Jafza),

"Unfortunately, without radical surgery in cutting out the above obstacles, we feel this project is doomed to failure."
Read Jeff Ooi's detailed blog entry on this massive farce.

3) The Election Commission's decision to use indelible ink in all the coming elections after countless pressure from Bersih should be a reason for joy. But this morning at 7am (my usual wake-up time for a run), I caught a few minutes of the RTM1 morning news and they were reporting on the EC's use of indelible ink. Part of the report involved going around town interviewing various people for their comments. And that was when my heart sank into despair. Out of 10 or so people interviewed, only TWO (2) understood fully the reasons why the use of indelible ink is being introduced, and how it will work. And they were Malays who responded in Bahasa Malaysia. The rest were mainly Chinese, with one or two Indians. These people spoke in English, and I was shocked when all of them start to describe that the use of the ink is for fingerprinting, and it helps to ensure that the identity of the voters are genuine. Worse, they even described how no two people on earth have the same fingerprints, thus making sure voters are unique and they can't vote twice. Harlo?!?!? The use of indelible ink is NOT to put your fingerprint anywhere. Besides, how the heck can the EC officials/workers compare two fingerprints and decide if they're matching or not, not to mention if the "multiple voter" goes to another polling station and vote there, again? I can understand if you use some form of biometric reader, but even then ALL of the readers in ALL of the polling stations would have to be linked to a central system to warn of duplicates. If these supposedly middle-class, English speaking, educated, urban Malaysians can't even understand a simple thing as the use of indelible ink in elections to prevent multiple voting, we better stop dreaming they'll understand issues of more substantive in nature. Malaysia seems doomed to be ruled by BN forever, if that is the case.

So please, how could I not despair for my country? How could I be in any celebratory mood this coming 50th anniversary of our independence? Shouts of Merdeka will ring hollow to me if we are still colonized and shackled by indifference to the abuses faced by our fellow citizens and Malaysians, apathy and ignorance to the corruption, abuse of power, and intimidation of the BN administration against Malaysians, and the "tidak apa" attitude and celebration of mediocrity among Malaysians who simply refuse and cannot see beyond their only goal to fulfill their own desires while unable to understand how the bigger picture affects their very means of that fulfillment. Indeed, like what Anwar Ibrahim has proposed, the slogan for this 50th Merdeka should be Selamatkan Negara Malaysia, Save Malaysia, and if we rakyat Malaysia cannot do it ourselves, perhaps the Rulers can change that.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Khoo's stinging rebuke of MCA

Check out Khoo Kay Peng's stinging rebuke of MCA's role and relevance, especially against the backdrop of recent events, the latest being the manufacturing of an "issue" out of Namewee's Negarakuku. Again and again, countless questions have been raised about MCA's relevance and identity as a political party, and its role in the BN. The facts thus far have shown the MCA as nothing more than playing a supporting actor to Umno, as well as behaving more like a social organization than a political party with supposed influence and decision making voice. The way they have faltered in explaining away the extremist positioning of various leaders in Umno, from the keris waving antics of the Hishamuddin to the recent unilateral re-interpretation of the Federal Consitution by Najib, just reaffirm their real position as Umno's voice to the Chinese Malaysian, rather than the other way round which they always claim.

Meanwhile, Tun Hanif Omar in The Star has a stinging rebuke of the pathetic states our police force, Anti-Corruption Agency, and the Attorney General's office have slipped into. If this is not a voice of despair, nor the rakyat feels the same, then maybe our country will not be able to escape the certainty of becoming a failed state.

Also, following in the footsteps of Raja Nazrin's string of recent speeches aimed squarely at the problems facing this nation and what is required to overcome them, plus being a subtle rebuke of the present administration, His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor also expressed his concerns over similar issues, as well as expressing his desire for a politics-free Merdeka celebration. Perhaps the Rulers should really start playing a more active role to alleviate the concerns and despair of the rakyat over the excesses and corruption of the present Pak Lah administration.

Read more!

Friday, August 10, 2007

No wonder Malaysia is ranked high for human trafficking

NBC recently aired a documentary about the forcing of Filipino girls into prostitution in Penang, and how an American went there to eventually secure their release. It is almost bizarre if you read the following report on the documentary, especially the seemingly close link between the "businessmen" and the police. Not surprising considering Raja Petra's expose of the IGP. Anyway, for those who have a short memory, Malaysia was recently blacklisted by the US for failure to take concrete measures against human trafficking. In fact, we're considered one of the major transit hubs for this disgusting trade. Reproducing the Malaysiakini report here as I think it's very important for readers to understand the severity of the problem. Also, please do subscribe to Malaysiakini, in part to get excellent news and articles, as well as considering it as playing your part in supporting press freedom in Malaysia.


NBC’s grim tale of sexual slavery in Penang
Aug 10, 07 5:06pm

Two months ago, Malaysia was blacklisted by the United States for the first time for its failure to take concrete action against human trafficking.

Malaysia joined other offenders - among them, Burma, North Korea and Sudan - in the US State Department's annual ‘Trafficking in Persons Report’.

In all, 16 countries were given the so-called ‘Tier 3' status in the 236-page survey of global efforts to combat human trafficking, which makes these errant nations eligible for US economic sanctions.

As if to underscore Malaysia’s abysmal record in human trafficking, top US television station NBC aired on Wednesday a gripping tale about an American who went to Penang to rescue his Filipino niece from the clutches of her captors.

The 30-minute ‘Dateline’ programme detailed the dark web of collusion between the Malaysian law enforcers - the police and immigration officers - and the human traffickers.

“The State Department says that human trafficking and the sex trade it fuels are rampant here. Yet in all of 2006, not a single trafficker was prosecuted,” said Dateline correspondent Chris Hansen.

They helped themselves to the girls

One victim, Anna, told Dateline that she went to Malaysian immigration authorities for help, a top official there advised her to “go back to work” and called her traffickers.

“I want them to help me - to rescue me - so I can go back Philippines,” she said.

According to Anna, some of the Malaysian police and immigration officials were clients of the clubs where she worked and helped themselves to the girls.

Dateline also revealed that Malaysian officials were notorious for turning a blind eye to trafficking.

“So much so that when victims like Anna show up looking for help, they are often brought up on immigration charges,” it said.

Anna, who sold her virginity for RM280 (US$80) on her first night in Malaysia, was eventually rescued by the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Dateline also told the grim tale of another Filipino girl, Lannie Ejercito, 22, (right) who was rescued by her American uncle, ‘Troop’ Edmonds.

Edmonds and his Filipino wife Ravina - Lannie’s aunt - were at home Oregon when they received a distressing phone call from Lannie to rescue her.

Edmonds, with the help of a retired Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) friend, Jerry Howe, with the Dateline crew in tow, flew first to Philippines and then to Penang in search of Lannie.

Hot on the traffickers’ trail

They discovered that Lannie and 15 other Filipinos were sent to Penang as singers. And when they can’t sing, they were forced into prostitution.

With the help of Malaysian police, which they said were not very helpful, they raided a flat near Universiti Sains Malaysia. But no one was there.
However, sensing that the two elderly 60-something Americans were hot on their trail, the traffickers decided to take Lannie to the police station to sign a statement saying that she was not being held against her will.

The two men rushed to the police station on hearing that Lannie was there.

“Lannie (photo, right) was brought to the police station by Kenny Kang (photo, left), one of the people who has been holding her captive,” said Dateline. “In fact, she's been saying all is well - she's fine.”

But the Americans were astonished to find the police interviewing Lannie with Kang sitting next to her.

Jerry Howe, who's conducted hundreds of interviews during his 26 years in the FBI, was shocked that the lead detective failed to separate the victim from the victimiser, said Dateline.

“And when I suggested that, it's like the light bulb went off in his head. ‘Oh, yeah, that's a good idea.’ And they'll move - they moved him away from her so she could speak. But she was still terrified,” said Howe.

Kang was finally sent to an adjoining room.

Hansen asked Howe whether it appeared to him that Kang had a “pre-existing relationship with some of the police officers” at the station.

Howe: Boy, did I ... I got that impression.

Hansen: And what gave you that impression?

Howe: Well, he's laughing. He's making phone calls. He's joking with the police officer that he's with. And we can see all this through the glass in the offices there.

With Kang in another room, Lannie eventually revealed that she wanted out.

Fear that everyone would end up in jail

However, Kang refused to hand over Lannie’s passport. An argument over the passport erupted at the police station.

Edmonds accused Kang of paying off the police, and at one point was worried that he and Howe would end up in jail.

“And just when it seemed things couldn't get any stranger, in walks a man who describes himself as Kenny Kang's business partner, a gynecologist named Ng Kok Kwang (left). The doctor says he has a side business supplying singers to work at various hotels and he insists he's not engaged in human trafficking,” said Dateline.

Ng demanded that Edmond reimburse him for the money he had spent transporting, housing and for the “singing lessons” which Lannie did take - altogether RM200,000.

“That translates to nearly US$60,000 - a sum so high it would take the average Filipino at least 20 years to pay it off,” said Dateline.

Eventually, Ng let Lannie go.

A few months later, Philippine officials staged a dramatic late-night operation and freed the 15 others (left) whom Ng and Kang kept locked up with Lannie.

For Malaysia to be removed from the US’ blacklist, the “government needs to demonstrate stronger political will to tackle Malaysia's significant forced labour and sex trafficking problems,” said the US State Department.

In April, in the bid to improve Malaysia’s record on human trafficking, the government approved a milestone anti-trafficking bill which introduces a 20-year jail sentence for offenders.

But it is not immediately clear whether this will help burnish the country’s image, especially with existing problems with enforcement, and corruption in the police force as well as immigration.

Full transcript and video of Dateline’s To the rescue (30 mins)

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

National Fatwa Council OKed indelible ink for elections

Seems like the BN's attempt to prevent the Elections Commission from implementing the use of indelible ink for elections this country has hit a snag. Earlier, under the most ridiculous of reasons, the BN has thrown the request to the National Fatwa Council as they're worried that it will be unIslamic. Never mind the fact that it has been used in most countries with large Muslim population, as well as in largely Islamic countries. Even PAS couldn't resist laughing about it. But now it seems like the Fatwa Council has given the thumbs up for the proposal. Now the decision is back in the EC's court. Let's see if they will have spine to implement it, considering the vehement protests from BN who has the most to lose on preventing voters from multiple voting.

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Rulers reject PM's choice for Chief Judge of Malaya

Something seems to be brewing as this move is unprecedented (I may be mistaken...those in the legal fraternity might know better). The Conference of Rulers has actually rejected the PM's recommendation for the position of Chief Judge of Malaya, vacated after the retirement of Tan Sri Siti Norma Yaakob last year. It is believe that such a move was linked to the growing concerns that more and more junior judges are being promoted over more senior ones, with no proper transparency on how and why such promotions happen. Read more about it here. Perhaps as pointed out by Raja Petra Kamarudin earlier, maybe things are rumbling among the Rulers.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Going after a Malaysian for something in YouTube

Updated! I've watched the YouTube video done by this Malaysian media communications student (named as "Namewee") in Taiwan's Ming Chuan University. It's in Mandarin, but you could get the English translation at The Cicak. To be honest, other than he could have been a little tactful in saying some of the calls of the azan for Solat Subuh waking people up sound like those of cockerels greeting the morning sun, I find the entire piece very creative, satirical (but mostly true) of the police force and government service, government policies with regards to economics and education, and catchy (the tune). But most important of all, the entire music video shows that no matter what, the beautiful people of Malaysia, its achievement and development, and its natural beauty, that is what makes Malaysians and Namwee himself love the country so much, and regardless of where they are still yearn to be back home. If his attempt to show his love for the country, albeit in a very different but creative manner, and might offend certain people, be considered seditious and unpatriotic, then we are surely headed for the dumps. All the more so if we consider patriotism as shallow acts of flying the little flag, keep saying "YES" to the BN government, and worse, the antics of KJ and gang. For more information, read here and here. But funny that the Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education Ministry said they need to investigate if the student is sponsored by the government because I thought Taiwan universities are not recognized by the Malaysian government. But then again, nothing from the government surprises me these days.

Update (9 Aug, 14:22): Check out The Star today for Namewee's response to the threats of prosecuting him for alleged insult to the national anthem, as well as PKR Youth's take on this. At least the PDRM has the good sense of not pursuing the issue. Besides, I think they're getting pretty tired of the Umno politicians lately in forcing them to haul up Nat and Raja Petra (even his wife Marina!) for nothing but to confirm the image among the rakyat of the PDRM as a paid goon of Umno.

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Recent Federal Court judgement which reaffirms supremacy of Federal Constitution

This has somehow escaped the radar of the media (either that or I am the only one who have missed it). On a recent case before the Federal Court on 25 July 2007, between Latifah Bte Mat Zin vs Rosmawati Binti Sharibun, the presiding judges (Justices Abdul Hamid Mohamad, Arifin Bin Zakaria, and Augustine Paul) unanimously declared in their judgement to the effect that returns the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, that the right forum to determine a court's jurisdiction on constitutional grounds is the Federal Court (apex of the civil courts), the fact that Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution was introduced not for the purpose of ousting the jurisdiction of the civil courts in all matters pertaining to Islamic law, and that the syariah courts in Malaysia inhabits a position within our judicial space which is inferior to the higher civil courts (i.e. High Court, Court of Appeal, and the Federal Court). This judgement is aligned with all the previous judgements made by various judges before that fateful case of Soon Singh vs Perkim (1999) which started the downhill of judges simply washing their hands off cases involving even a slightest hint of Islamic matters. Read Malik Imtiaz's blog on this (so far he has only written the first part), as well as this letter to Malaysiakini by a reader.

Perhaps as what the writer of the letter has said, maybe the PM's wishy-washy position recently on the nature of Malaysia is, in a way, useful afterall. Judges could now take the hint from the PM and start upholding their oath to protect and defend the Constitution once again, and for the nation to start putting a stop to the worsening religious divide and reverse the dangerous Islamic extremist trend. We should just stop debating the nature of our nation, and accept Raja Nazrin's advice which is to keep to the spirit of the Federal Constitution. Afterall, that is the very basis for this nation's existence, and very likely its progress as well.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

Raja Nazrin's speech on nation building

I just have to copy and paste Raja Nazrin's speech from The Sun, delivered at the first annual Student Leaders Summit 2007 on Aug 5, 2007 at Nikko Hotel Kuala Lumpur. Raja Nazrin, who is the next in line to the throne of the state of Perak (the current Sultan of Perak is Sultan Azlan Shah, ex-Lord President of Malaysia and Raja Nazrin's father), has been making all the right and relevant speeches regarding the challenges we are facing after 50 years of independence, as well as what we need to do to overcome these challenges and progress further. If he could just play a more active role in our national politics, our nation would have a much better prospect in overcoming these challenges. However, by virtue of his position, he could only do so much. But that doesn't mean the Rulers take a back seat to everything concerning the nation. They do have a role to play, especially one with respect to true national unity as well as ensuring the interests of the rakyat is not destroyed by an overpowerful executive. As Raja Nazrin himself has said before, the Rulers just have to change with the times and remain relevant. Otherwise they only have themselves to blame when the day comes when Malaysians start questioning their roles. Raja Nazrin has started to show the way, and it would be heartening to all Malaysians if the other Rulers start to follow in his footpath.


The Sun

Keynote address by the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, at the first annual Student Leaders Summit 2007 -- "Celebrating 50 Years of Nationhood" -- on Aug 5, 2007, at Nikko Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

I am delighted to be here this morning to deliver the keynote address at this Summit, dedicated as it is to Youth. All of you in this room are the creme de la creme of the young generation -- those fortunate enough and intelligent enough to benefit from the best education. You are the future leaders of this nation.

This morning, I want to talk to you about the challenges and prospects for nation-building. Nation-building refers to the structuring of a country, with the help of state power, to ensure a strong national identity that is viable in the long run. It is predicated on national unity and is a topic of utmost importance to all of us, not least the younger generation. Fifty years of the national relay race has been run. Soon the baton will be handed to those of you who will run the next lap. The Malaysia familiar to most, if not all, of you is the modern prosperous nation with its increasingly urban population and robust middle class; not the poor and predominantly agricultural society of 50 years ago. When Malaysia gained independence, we were on a par with countries like Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ghana, Morocco and Senegal in terms of per capita income. Today we have far surpassed these countries in economic growth and human development.

However, it is important to be aware that this was a far-fetched vision 50 years ago. The first Merdeka generation, almost overnight, found themselves tasked with an onerous job when Malaysia gained independence. The country was born against the backdrop of a virulent communist insurgency. Poverty was widespread, particularly in the rural areas. There was very little sense of unity and national identity. The states that made up the federation were only loosely integrated. Many people regarded themselves primarily as natives of their state rather than as nationals of Malaya. The enlargement of Malaya into Malaysia in 1963 was vigorously opposed by our neighbours, leading to confrontation with Indonesia. After the traumatic events of 1969, many predicted the imminent disintegration of Malaysian society.

That we have been able to forge a successful nation without resorting to the rule of the gun makes us something of an oddity in a region of coups, civil strife and people power. This has been due in large part to wise leadership, the innate good sense of the Malaysian people -- and a bit of luck. Today, the nine Sultanates, two Straits Settlements and the two states in Borneo have united in a tangible way despite historical separation and physical distance. Development policies and communication channels have managed to fuse together the myriad religions and ethnic groups and forged a sense of belonging and shared destiny.

Malaysia is one of the very few countries with a diverse mix of race and religion that have been able to do this. Our peace momentum is also demonstrated on the international arena. Malaysia played a seminal role in the creation Asean and its enlargement from six members to 10, then Asean plus 3. It still has a lead role in the first moves towards a regional architecture, particularly the East Asian Summit

Our group culture is very distinct from the individualism of the west. We participate actively in one another's cultural and lifestyle choices. We celebrate festivities together, we learn and speak one another's languages, we wear each other's traditional costumes, we appreciate different arts and types of music. A chat over teh tarik is an example of a typically Malaysian pastime that all races and ages take delight in.

However, every coin has two sides. Let us not be naive in thinking it is all a rosy picture. There is still much room for improvement. Interaction between the ethnic groups, to the extent that it exists, remains more of an urban phenomenon. In recent years, ethnic identities appear to have become more explicit. In some instances, what divides us has become more emphasised than what unites us.

When the New Economic Policy (NEP) was established, it was to address the problem of economic function being identified along the lines of ethnicity, and the problem of widespread poverty. All quarters of society came to an agreement that in order for nation-building to proceed, certain sacrifices had to be made to help the underperforming groups. But it was not a case where one party was to benefit at another's expense. Distribution was to take place within the context of a growing economy. It was meant to be a situation of give-and-take that would result in economic growth shared by all segments of society.

Today, the give-and-take attitude seems to have dissipated. Malaysians are exhibiting signs of polarisation along ethnic and religious lines. Some groups bear grudges against what is perceived as preferential treatment. Others regard preferential treatment as an indisputable entitlement.

Moreover, the impasse at the global level between Islam and non-Islam affects even a moderate country like Malaysia. Matters of faith are topics of immense controversy. They provoke overzealousness and coercive action, and drive Malaysians further and further away from each other. Our diversity was meant to be our unique asset. The Federal Constitution and the Rukun Negara institutionalised living together in peaceful, harmonious co-existence. Yet years after Merdeka, we are still grappling with concerns about unity.

So what are the challenges to nation-building that we need to face head on? To me, the challenges are many, but the one that stands out is the need to balance change with continuity. The current phase of nation-building should be in tune with the temper of the times to reflect the new realities of the modern world. We are facing a globalised environment where excellence and meritocracy are the rule of the game.

Opportunities in the global world reward those with ability, regardless of colour or creed. A multi-ethnic country like ours has to be especially watchful. In the absence of a strong national identity, we are prone to polarisation and competition along ethno-religious lines. Therefore, a most expert balancing act is required to maintain socio-political stability while not losing out on global competitiveness.

As I have said elsewhere, to ensure sustained success at nation-building, Malaysians of all races, religions, and geographic locations need to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have a place under the Malaysian sun. Only when each citizen believes that he or she has a common home, is presented common opportunities, given due recognition and is working towards a common destiny, will he or she make the sacrifices needed for the long haul.

Managing change is not easy and nation-building does not occur naturally in any society, let alone a pluralistic one. Allow me to suggest three essentials for effective and sustained nation-building.

The first is the Rule of Law and the inviolability of the constitution. The constitution is the supreme law of the country which guarantees fundamental liberties to every citizen. A cleverly crafted document, it clearly provides for adequate checks and balances against excesses through the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches -- with each protected from encroachment by the other.

It has often been said that many a misunderstanding may be avoided if the principles embodied in the constitution are adhered to strictly. Upholding the Rule of Law is paramount. In this connection, I can do no better than to quote the words of Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a leading jurist, when she delivered the Sultan Azlan Shah Law Lecture in Kuala Lumpur last month:

"Law is the bedrock of a nation; it tells us who we are, what we value. It regulates our human relationships one to the other and our relationships as citizens with the state. Law is cultural. It comes out of the deep wellsprings of history and experience within a country...

"The rule of law is one of the tools we use in our stumbling progress towards civilising the human condition: a structure of law, with proper methods and independent judges, before whom even a government must be answerable. It is the only restraint upon the tendency of power to debase its holders. As we know, power is delighful and absolute power is absolutely delighfful.

"We must be the protectors of those who are vulnerable to abuse. We have to stand up and be counted. We have to protect the things that make our nations great..."

The second element necessary in nation-building is economic and social justice for all. All groups in society, regardless of ethnic group, religion or gender, must participate in making decisions that affect their lives and livelihood. They must have a voice and a place in all sectors. They must carry equal responsibilities in making society work. The people we work and play with, the friendships we make, must never be constrained by ethnicity. Preconceptions, parochialism and chauvinism can be eradicated if we interact actively with others of a different ethnic group or religion -- even if it is just one teacher, one man or one schoolmate. In many areas, this is absent and it must change.

The third requisite to nation-building is good governance and a thriving civil society. Institutions of governance must demonstrate and generate norms and behaviour that are fundamentally efficient, productive and just. Only those who are capable, responsible and scrupulously honest should be allowed to serve in positions of leadership. Those who are inefficient, incompetent and, most importantly, corrupt should be held in absolute contempt. There must also be concrete anti-corruption measures and management practices based on efficiency, transparency and accountability. It is also very important that we have leaders who are earnest in maintaining unity, never resorting to religious or ethnic posturing to further their political careers at the expense of peace and security. Should they fail in this respect, they must be held accountable and answerable before the law.

What can you do to help promote national unity? I'm going to assume you are still at an age when you are still idealistic -- that you wish to improve the human condition. That you are patriotic. That you believe in friendship and peace. That you would rather build than destroy. You are in the best position to tenaciously forge this nation. Let me suggest a few ways how you can contribute towards Malaysia's continued success at nation-building.

First, get a copy of the Federal Constitution and familiarise yourselves with it. The constitution is the supreme law of the land. It guarantees the rights of every Malaysian. As such, the integrity of that document must be protected.

Second, study the nation's history, particularly the lives and works of past leaders who have sacrificed so much for this country. One such leader is Tun Dr Ismail. He was an exemplary Malaysian. He envisaged a Malaysia for all without colour lines, without ethnic borders and without any one group feeling a sense of inferiority. He recognised the importance of open-mindedness in addressing day-to-day issues and problems; the importance of listening and learning from others, particularly from those who are more advanced. He strongly believed in the principle of life-long learning, visiting other lands and adopting best practices without losing our core values and our identity as a nation. He had the interest of the nation at heart and went beyond the call of duty in the service of his nation. He put his country above himself and served till the very last day of his life. The leadership, sincerity, sacrifices and integrity of Tun Dr Ismail and other leaders of his generation should serve to inspire the next generation of leaders.

Third, you must take personal ownership over the wellbeing of the country. Do not succumb to indifference and apathy. Hold on to your ideals. Do not give way to cynicism and opportunism. Believe that you can make a difference. Channel your energies in a constructive manner to bring about positive changes around you.

Fourth, participate actively in community service that is geared towards promoting interaction between communities. Volunteer your spare time and energy to work with Malaysians from other walks of life and ethnic groups.

Fifth, be prepared to serve your country to the best of your ability. All of you represent the valuable future human capital this country needs. The outside world knows the value of our best brains, which is why they set out to attract our people, creating a brain drain for us. Do not exacerbate the problem of the brain drain. Also, do not be averse to building a career in public service. I believe all of us have some innate desire to serve. Always think nation first.

More than anything, Malaysia needs a future generation of leaders with unquestionable integrity. In countries where specialised expertise and technical know-how are lacking, they can be imported from elsewhere. But integrity, by definition, is something that cannot be bought or hired. You and the quality of leadership you provide are the key to continued peace and harmony in Malaysia. At a time when new powers like China and India are rising, we cannot afford to lose our harmony dividend. It is the anchor of this nation.

The Merdeka generation after a tough climb managed to make it to base camp. The summit lies ahead and I can guarantee you that it will be an arduous climb. But it can also be exhilarating. It will need climbers who are skilled, courageous, confident and above all, steadfast. To face the challenges ahead, you need a bedrock faith in what you and our country stand for. I wish all of you the very best in your future.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Will Singapore steal the show from Malaysia again?

This time it is in something which Malaysia has considered itself as having the advantage compared to its neighbour down south - the brotherhood of Islam. Singapore seems intent on courting the Middle Eastern countries to use Singapore as the launchpad for their investment linked activities in the region. This includes positioning of Singapore as the region's center for Islamic finance. So far the effort has been marked by various high level diplomatic visits between Singapore and various Middle Eastern countries, as well as efforts in creating the right economic environment. This also included free trade agreements between the countries. This is all the more ironic considering that Singapore has diplomatic ties with Israel, which includes military cooperation. Check out this article in Asia Times Online for more information.

As with a lot of ideas and initiatives, Malaysia almost always is the first one in the region to have them. But time and again we seem to fail miserably when it comes to execution, and Singapore has almost always been able to latch onto the idea, execute it well, carry it further, and leave Malaysia scratching its head. And this time I think it would be no different. Malaysia's effort in trying to be the regional hub for Islamic finance as well as being the launchpad for Middle Eastern investment in this region may simply not be enough if it thinks it can rely on the goodwill of Islamic ummah. At the end of the day, the Middle Eastern businessmen are no different from the other businessmen of the world, and they will make their decisions - in typical business-like fashion.

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Why IPCMC is needed

Is this a familiar sight?

This happened in 1998 after Anwar Ibrahim was arrested by the UTK (Unit Tindakan Khas, or Special Action Unit) by storming into his house in the middle of his press conference. I still remember the storming as I watched it on TV in Hong Kong. Emerging after a few days being incarcerated by the police, as well as being promised by the then IGP that he is safe and sound, this picture became a symbol of the shame that has befallen the country. Which brings us to this sight:
Look familiar? 9 years after that shameful event, another one has been subjected to torture, beatings, and abuse at the hands of the police. Tung was accused of being involved in an armed robbery, and was arrested by the police on 9 July 2007. He was held up at various police stations, beaten up in various manner, refused medical attention even when it was approved twice by the magistrate, and was released on 17 July 2007. Read Tony Pua's take on this serious and shameful matter. If you think the IPCMC is just a fuss, or an impediment to police duty, think again. The PDRM actually need the IPCMC more than ever to clean up their totally battered image, and regain the rakyat's confidence once again.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Stories of 50 Refugees in Malaysia

To celebrate 50 years of Merdeka. Got this from Nat's blog. 50 life stories of refugees in Malaysia, escaping persecution in their home countries, and struggling to be recognized as UNHCR refugees (Malaysian Immigration Act does not differentiate refugees from illegal immigrants). Ages ranging from a few days old to 50s, coming from 3 different countries and of 10 different ethnicities. We are celebrating 50 years of Merdeka this year, with plenty of material progression. Yet, have we really progressed in terms of our humanity?

From the website:

As at June 2007, there are approximately 37,000 Refugees registered with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) in Malaysia. Many more are asylum seekers who have yet to achieve Refugee status. This website tells the stories of 50 of them. Aged from babies barely a month old to grandfathers and grandmothers in their 50s, theirs is a varied background, coming from 3 different countries and 10 different ethnicities. Theirs is a heartwrenching story of detention, abuse, fear, neglect, and humiliation. But these are stories of resilience, courage, hope and love as well. Read their stories here. People who are of your age, or of your children's age, or your parents'. Normal human beings, of flesh and blood, hopes and dreams, like you and me.

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Bernard Dompok has the guts

And he has every right to have them. He again broke rank with his colleagues, especially the non-Umno ones, when during a speech at the launching of "The Merdeka Statement" by Centre for Public Policy Studies he said:

“I think my colleagues in the government will forgive me for saying that I will not agree that we are an Islamic state.”
This is the Minister who have not withdrawn the memorandum he and the other non-Muslim ministers submitted to the PM early last year to state their worry and concern over the erosion of non-Muslim rights, as well as to find a resolution to the worsening problem. His refusal contrasts with the others who quickly withdrew and distanced themselves from the memorandum when Pak Lah lost his temper. He is also the guy who recently resigned from chairing the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity citing conflict of interests between his role there and his role as a government minister. Whatever the case, him being East Malaysian is only airing the concerns and disgruntlement of East Malaysians at what they see as Umno's increasing encroachment and unilateral violation of the Malaysian Federation Agreement. A situation where they see themselves getting an increasingly short end of the stick. And Najib's recent pronouncement of Malaysia being an Islamic state serves only to entrench that feeling and belief.

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Pak Lah's pledge to fight corruption has come to nought

After making sweet election promises 3 years ago, Pak Lah's pledge to fight corruption all out has come to this: a suddenly super efficient AG who has cleared ex-ACA DG Zulkipli, and current IGP Musa Hassan, of corruption. All in one stroke of a pen. Talk about efficiency when the investigation into both were only started barely months ago. Maybe this same "efficiency" explains Eric Chia's acquittal last month as well. One of the reasons given for ending the investigations (Ramli, the ex-ACA officer who first blew the whistle against Zulkipli, have queried under which law can the AG order corruption investigations by the ACA be stopped) was for lack of documentary evidence. As if people when giving bribes sign documents proving money have exchanged hands.

Transparency International has called for the AG to reveal the full report of the investigations as well as the basis for the decisions made, arguing that the AG statements thus far seems lacking in terms of soundness. Read Steven Gan's editorial and Jeff Ooi's blog entry for a deeper treatment of this matter. Up to voters to judge if they still want to place their hope in Pak Lah and his goons, as they did in 2004. So far he and his cohorts have delivered NONE of their sweet promises. And I am pretty sure they'll try the same old tricks again this coming General Election. Would voters wake up finally, or will they continue biting and swallowing the hook, line, and sinker?

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