Satu Malaysia (1Malaysia)
Rasuah–Haram Dan Beban Kepada Rakyat
Untuk Pengundi di DUN Bagan Pinang dari Bekas President UMNO
September 30, 2009
PAS today (September 29, 2009) named its Negri Sembilan chief Zulkefly Omar as the candidate for the Bagan Pinang by-election. That announcement was made at a public rally in the Chinese-dominated Batu 9 town near here by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang. “The candidate represents all Malaysians and the people of Bagan Pinang,” Hadi told the multi-racial crowd.
Zulkefly, 45, a communication graduate, had contested and lost three times. During the last year’s general election he lost Lenggeng state seat in Kuala Pilah by some 1,000 votes.
Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Hadi said he is confident of PAS’s chances of winning the seat. “We have won seven out of eight by-elections, we are confident,” said Hadi. “He is our best candidate — young and educated,” he added.
Hadi dismissed the suggestion that the infighting within Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor will affect the coalition’s chances of winning the seat.
During the last general election PAS lost 12 out of 13 state constituencies it contested in Negri Sembilan. PAS only won the Paroi seat, situated within the Rembau parliamentary constituency. To a question on the Barisan Nasional’s (BN) decision to field Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad as the Bagan Pinang candidate, Zulkefly said he will let the people decide on the former Negri Sembilan mentri besar’s ability to represent them.
“We contested to fulfil the people’s wish, not for other reasons,” said Zulkefly. The Bagan Pinang by-election was made necessary following the death of BN’s Azman Mohammad Noor on September 4.
In March last year, Azman defeated Ramli Ismail of PAS by some 2,000 votes. BN is currently ruling the state with a simple majority after winning only 21 of the 36 state constituencies.
September 29, 2009
Malaysia might not be able to achieve its Vision 2020 on time, if it does not change its strategy and remains dependent on foreign direct investments, says former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said Malaysia should focus on developing major local companies that have the potential to produce their own brands and compete in the global market
“The government must identify these companies and help them grow by lending them money with low interest rate.
“The profit they make will go back to us, the workers and the country,” he said during the 14th Civil Service Conference here today.
He also said workers at all levels must be paid higher wages but by doing so they must be more productive. “Then only the industry can produce in greater volumes, gain more profit and contribute to the country’s revenue,” he said.
Mahathir said Malaysia should become a medium or high cost country because it cannot compete with countries such as China and Taiwan who could offer lower cost manpower and resources to foreign investors.
Speaking to reporters following the event, he said Malaysia was capable of becoming a developed country but might exceed the set time of 2020 due to the global economic downturn which has affected the country.
“However, if we focus on developing local companies and not depend on foreign investments, it will not be impossible to achieve it in the given time,” he said.
He also said the fixing of minimum wages and increasing pay will not pay off if there was no restructuring as it could make the situation worse especially if productivity levels remain low.
On the 1Malaysia concept introduced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Mahathir said the people, especially the younger generation must be given the opportunity to mingle and study together and build up friendships with different races. “During my time we had more opportunities to make friends with other races,” he said.
September 29, 2009
By Jonathan Wootliff *
It appears that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) understands what is the real crisis facing our planet. With the continuing popular obsession with global economic woes, most of the leaders attending last week’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh came prepared with more of the same, worn-out rhetoric about the need to fortify the world’s financial systems.
Buoyed up from his recent election victory, a newly emboldened SBY joined fellow government heads attended the meeting in the US former steel town playing a refreshingly different tune.
He presented a case study to his counterparts on Indonesia’s innovative strategy to wean this nation off addictive fuel subsidies. For as worrying as it may be, he clearly recognizes that the growing threat of climate change will make the current financial troubles look like a fly on an elephant’s back.
This President knows that the untamed escalation in the use of fossil fuels is creating the greenhouse gas emissions that will ultimately cause untold damage to the planet – which all of the world’s treasuries will be unable to fix.
Thankfully, his US counterpart, Barack Obama, shares his concern, which is why he was invited to explain his fuel subsidy reduction policy to the summit, in the hope that other nations would follow suit.
After years of increasing fuel subsidies, Indonesia has instituted a cash transfer system that now enables the government to direct cash payments to more than 19 million households while reducing across-the-board support.
This action has improved the national balance sheet while enhancing the economic condition of the poorest 40 percent of the country’s population, and heralding a whole new approach to our unbridled dependence of planet-heating fossil fuels.
It was SBY’s impassioned public plea and skillful backroom diplomacy at the UN climate change summit in Bali in December 2007 that significantly helped to ensure its successful outcome. Arguably, without the President’s eleventh hour intervention, efforts to allay the prospect of irreversible global warming would have been severely derailed.
Following desperate last minute efforts to avert failure, it was Indonesia that emerged as a true hero. The country’s reputation on the world stage was appreciably enhanced.
Now, as the G8 is replaced by the G20 as the new beacon for global leadership, it is heartening to see Indonesia playing such an innovative and influential role.
Throughout the years of the Bush administration, too many shortsighted Western commentators unfairly blamed the developing nations for hampering progress in instigating effective intergovernmental policies for tackling climate change.
In subsequently rejecting Kyoto, the original climate change treaty hammered out in Japan 12 years ago, the Bush administration took the parochial position that until and unless poorer countries were prepared to cap their greenhouse gas emissions, that it was unfair to expect the US – the world’s single largest polluter – to do so.
The emergence of the G20 has now given seats at the top table to the very nations previously derided by the last US administration for not playing ball on climate change policy.
It is pure political poetry that one such nation has so immediately played such a pivotal role in shaping new thinking on this critical global challenge.
With a key outcome of the Pittsburgh summit being a unanimous agreement of the 20 nations to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, history will again surely show Indonesia was a true hero in the word’s struggle to prevent adverse climate change.
There’s no doubt that the elimination of subsidies is only one small step along a long road to solving the problem. But it is an important stride in the right direction. And the timing is perfect, as governments now turn their attention to the impending climate change talks in Copenhagen in December when it is hoped that a successor to the Kyoto treaty will be agreed.
Planet Earth is sick. Rising sea levels, failing crops, debilitating floods and alarming temperature changes are just some of the many worrying symptoms which will cost far more to cure than the slump on Wall Street.
Climate change is the real crisis facing the world. It’s time for our world leaders to wake up to this harsh reality.
As one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, it is gratifying that Indonesia should be taking a leadership stance in helping to avert catastrophe.
We cannot allow our politicians to procrastinate on this issue. Scientists are clearly showing us that time is running out. SBY should be applauded for his international leadership. He has shown his mettle as a true crisis manager.
As we march towards the Copenhagen summit, with its new found international reputation, I hope we will see Indonesia continuing to play an influential and innovative role in mobilizing world governments in bringing Planet Earth back to good health.
*Jonathan Wootliff is an independent sustainable development consultant specializing in the building of productive relationships between companies and NGOs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Adib Zalkapli in Port Dickson
UMNO’s central leadership bowed to pressure from the Negeri Sembilan party grassroots and picked Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad as the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Bagan Pinang by-election.
The by-election is expected to end Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) winning streak in all by-elections in the peninsula since the last general election.
The announcement was made at the BN main operation centre near here and was attended by some 10,000 party loyalists.
BN election director Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin described Isa, who was the Negri Sembilan mentri besar for 22 years until 2004, as a grassroots leader who has worked hard for the party.
“This by-election is about the people, people first,” said Muhyiddin citing the 1 Malaysia campaign slogan to loud cheers from the crowd.
“Whoever the people want, we will grant the people their wish,” he added.
In his acceptance speech, Isa said he felt rejuvenated by the announcement.
“God willing, with the support of Negri Sembilan mentri besar and other component party leaders, we will retain the seat,” said Isa as he struggled to hold back his tears.
Isa’s selection today marks his second attempt at making a comeback after failing to defend the UMNO vice-president post during the party election last April.
His candidacy was also opposed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had advised the UMNO leadership to consider the long-term consequences of fielding Isa as he was found guilty of money politics by the UMNO disciplinary board in 2005.
Earlier this month, the Teluk Kemang UMNO division had insisted on proposing only the name of its chief – Isa – to the supreme council to be considered as the candidate, but Muhyiddin requested that the division submit more than one name.
Yesterday, Muhyiddin told reporters that the division had indeed submitted more than one name, resulting in a minor revolt in the Teluk Kemang division when banners threatening to boycott the by-election was put up across the state constituency this morning.
The Bagan Pinang by-election was made necessary following the death of BN’s Azman Mohammad Noor on September 4.
It is situated within the Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituency represented by PKR’s Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas.
Apart from Bagan Pinang, UMNO also won the neighbouring Linggi state seat in last year’s election, while PR controls three other state seats in Teluk Kemang — Chuah (PKR), Lukut (DAP) and Port Dickson (PKR).
In March last year, Azman defeated Ramli Ismail of PAS, by some 2,000 votes.
BN is currently ruling the state with a simple majority after winning only 21 out of the 36 state constituencies.
by Rahmah Ghazali
The fuss over the expectation that a police officer would be charged this morning for the death of detainee Kugan Ananthan has fizzled.
Thus far, there is no sign that the case will come up at the Petaling Jaya Magistrate’s Court today, as anticipated.
Tun Majid Tun Hamzah, the head of prosecution in the attorney-general’s chambers, said “nothing has been confirmed” at this point.
Kugan’s uncle V Raviroy, who arrived at the court at 8am, said he is uncertain if the police personnel involved will be charged.
“I found out about this from (Kota Alam Shah assemblyperson and lawyer) M Manoharan, but up to 11am today, there has been no sign (of the police officer),” he said.
He and another of Kugan’s uncles, N Ravi, were accompanied by Manoharan and Kapar parliamentarian M Manikavasagam.
Reporters too had been waiting as early as 8am, only to find out that the case may be postponed. However, they are on standby for any developments.
Contacted this morning, Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar indicated that he is in the dark.
“I haven’t any news about this and I am not sure what is happening at the moment,” he said.
Kugan, 23, died on Jan 20 at the USJ Taipan police station, five days after he was picked up in connection with a car theft case. His family has accused the police of foul play.
Two post-mortem examinations were conducted. The second of these revealed that Kugan had been beaten, burnt and starved prior to his death. Concerned groups have long complained about the lack of action in the case, which exploded into a national issue after a video recording revealed severe lacerations on Kugan’s body.
by Haris Ibrahim (dated September 25, 2009)
September 27, last year, some of us gathered at Dataran Merdeka to light a candle and wish RPK, who was then being detained under the ISA, ‘Happy Birthday’. You can read about that HERE.
Later, some of us moved on to join the HINDRAF folks who were also holding an anti-ISA candle light vigil that culminated in a gathering at the Sri Ganesha temple in Jalan Pudu.
A huge crowd had built up at the temple but one man, all fire and brimstone, had my attention.
I could not understand most of what Thanenthiran (circled in yellow in picture) said, but he certainly roused the crowd to constantly break into a chorus of ‘Makkal Sakti’ and ‘Mansuhkan ISA’.
Just eleven days before this vigil, Thanenthiran was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying that HINDRAF ‘backed Anwar Ibrahim to become the country’s sixth prime minister for it believes that the opposition leader is the only person capable of putting the country back on the right track’.
Thanenthiran was quoted as saying :
“Anwar has assured that he will ensure a free and fair country based on equality, justice and democracy for all, something that Barisan Nasional has not given to Malaysians in its unbroken 51-year rule. He is now the best bet to instill some order to our political uncertainty. HINDRAF wants him to become prime minister and safeguard the Indian community from marginalisation”.
Well, Thanenthiran appears to have vindicated the adage we hear again and again that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics.
And the perception amongst many that to get anywhere in the world of politics, one (like the man who wears a lounge suit below) has to whore one’s own soul.
In May, this year, Thanenthiran and his merry men moved to register a new political party. The stated objective of the new party, as reported by Malaysiakini, to spearhead “a political struggle for the betterment of the Malaysian Indian community”.
At that time, sources close to Thanenthiran indicated that this new party would not incline to either BN or Pakatan but would steer its own course.
However, the speed with which the new party, Parti Makkal Sakti Malaysia, secured registration by the Registrar of Societies was, for many, telling.
Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that Najib has been invited to and has agreed to be the guest of honour at the official launch of this new party this coming October 10th.
According to this report, Thanenthiran made many curious statements.
Whilst insisting that the invite to Najib should not be seen as detracting from the independence of this new party he nonetheless candidly shared that “We are working together with him as partners… we walk together for the benefit of the Indian community”.
This ‘working together’, as Thanenthiran disclosed, includes actively campaigning for the Barisan Nasional in the forthcoming Bagan Pinang by-election.
Why this about-turn?
“It is true the BN did not do much for us in the past 52 years but the Pakatan Rakyat has done even less for us in the past two years. BN under Datuk Seri (Najib) is beginning to do for the Indians in major areas and we welcome it. We want to work with him to get a fair share of the nation’s resources”.
Getting a fair share of the nation’s resources is all well and good, but for whom?
The marginalised Indians?
Isn’t that what MIC and Samy Vellu have been saying all these years?
So is Thanenthiran and his new party, as Malaysian Insider suggests, merely filling in the seeming vacuum in BN’s divide and rule scheme brought about by MIC’s increasing irrelevance and inability to reform?
Three days before that vigil last September, Malaysiakini reported that Thanenthiran had challenged Samy to seek the forgiveness of Malaysia Indians.
“Samy Vellu should kneel and beg for (forgiveness) for his wrongdoings (against) the community if he is sincere and honest about seeking freedom for our leaders”.
Samy did better than that.
On April 1 this year, Samy visited a recuperating Thanenthiran in hospital. Thanenthiran was recovering from a heart attack and, quite possibly, the disappointment of being overlooked by PKR as the candidate for the Bukit Selambau by election. Malaysiakini has a report of this HERE.
Was this the turning point for Thanenthiran?
Some two weeks after this visit, Waythamoorthy purged the HINDRAF leadership by suspending several who reckoned themselves as the top guns, including Thanenthiran.
Had Waytha got wind of some wheeling and dealing by those within the ranks of HINDRAF to further their own agenda?
In a Malaysiakini report dated May 21, this year, Thanenthiran, speaking on the formation of this new party, admitted to having led a delegation to meet PM Najib a month before.
This would place that meeting with Najib some three weeks after that visit by Samy at the hospital.
Political deals, it would seem, were being made at lightning speed.
And lo and behold, what emerges today is a re-branded and re-cast Thanenthiran, now perfectly kosher for Najib and UMNO.
And the Police.
In June, Malaysiakini reported that Thanenthiran said that his new party would not follow in the footsteps of HINDRAF in going to the streets to pressure the government to look into the needs of the marginalised Indians in Malaysia.
In rationalising this change of strategy, Thanenthiran, in my view, let the cat out of the bag.
“Going to streets may make one popular, but it will not necessarily resolve the problems at hand”, is what he is reported to have said.
And that, it would seem, was what his street activism was all about.
The question that must now be asked, is whether the Malaysian Indian community will submit itself to another 52 years of marginalisation by being taken in by this political whoring?
Bagan Pinang may provide an early answer come October 11. 2009.
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal (September 26, 2009)
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today reaffirmed his stand that Tan Sri Isa Samad should not be nominated to represent UMNO for the by-election in Bagan Pinang on October 11, 2009.
He also suggested sarcastically that UMNO should nominate him to stand instead of Isa if there were no other suitable candidate.
He stated it would be a shame on the part of UMNO and Barisan National (BN) as a whole if Isa won the by-election, and that this would directly impact the ruling coalition collectively.
“If I was in Isa’s shoes, I would step down immediately and support another UMNO candidate. I would want the party to not nominate me but instead campaign for someone else in the party who is more deserving and qualified,” said Dr Mahathir here today.
Dr Mahathir has been a vocal critic of the possible nomination of the former Negeri Sembilan mentri besar, who was punished with a three-year suspension after the party’s disciplinary board found him guilty of vote buying during the UMNO elections in 2004.
According to him, UMNO stands a strong chance of winning the Bagan Pinang seat because the area was an UMNO stronghold, but having a candidate who was found to have been involved in corruption does not speak well for UMNO and BN.
“If UMNO cannot find enough candidates, just choose me,” Dr Mahathir quipped. Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has set itself the target of capturing the UMNO stronghold but has acknowledged it as an uphill battle. Critics speculate that UMNO has a good chance of retaining the seat due to the high number of registered postal votes, which traditionally is a reliable vote bank for BN.
The Bagan Pinang Seat fell vacant following the death of incumbent Azman Mohamad Noor of Barisan National on September 4. He won the seat in the last general elections after defeating PAS’ Ramli Ismail with a majority of 2,333 votes.
September 29, 2009
Comment: After intense public pressure, the government has finally decided to take action on the Kugan case. A cop, according to Malaysiakini (below), will likely be charged today. Details of the charge are not known at this juncture. More importantly, we do not know how high up the accountability totem pole in the police force will this person be. In recent years we have seen double standards in the application of the law– in some cases, we have politically motivated selective prosecution– with the all powerful Attorney-General as the final arbiter on whether or not a given case merits prosecution in our courts.
It is important for police personnel and civil servants to take extra care to ensure in their over-zealousness to do their job, especially to please people at the top of the pole and get promoted, they should not lose their humanity and good common sense; they should never take the law into their own hands. They cannot count on the protection of the superiors. Do what is right, even if it is at the expense of your job.
People at the bottom are always in danger of being scapegoated in order to protect the powerful and well connected. That is the sad truth. It is also a universal problem, especially in situations where justice favors the strong and the weak becomes the victim.—Din Merican
Malaysiakini reports on September 28, 2009:
After more than eight months since Kugan Ananthan breathed his last, at least one policeman is expected to be hauled to court tomorrow over the 23-year-old detainee’s death.
The latest development comes 48 hours after the deceased’s family and supporters failed in their bid to submit a petition to the King in protest over the snail-paced response from the authorities.
Contacted this evening, a senior police officer confirmed that a suspect would be charged tomorrow.
Although it could not be ascertained how many would face the rap, the source said: “I strongly believe that it is one person.”
“We don’t have the details pertaining to the case as the matter is being handled by the Attorney-General’s Chambers,” he added. It is believed that the police personnel would be charged at the Petaling Jaya Magistrate’s Court early in the morning.
Malaysiakini later learnt that there is a possibility the AG may defer his decision to charge the suspect tomorrow. Concerned groups have long complained about the lack of prompt action concerning the case, which exploded into a national issue after a video recording revealed severe lacerations on the deceased’s body.
Case classified as murder
Following the massive public outcry, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail classified the case as murder. Subsequently, 11 police personnel were reassigned to desk duties pending investigations.
Kugan died on January 20 at the USJ Taipan police station, five days after he was picked up in connection with a car theft case.
The deceased’s family had accused the police of foul play, and a second post-mortem commissioned by them revealed that the youth was beaten, burnt and starved prior to his death.
Two days ago, some 20 people, including Kugan’s family members, attempted to submit a petition to the King to call for a speedy probe into the case.
The group was led by opposition parliamentarians Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) and S Manikavasagam (PKR-Kapar).
Gobind had demanded that the attorney-general come forward and explain why nothing had been done in the past eight months. “The entire country cannot understand why the silence on the part of the AG, who had already classified it (Kugan’s case) as a murder,” he added.
The first post-mortem concluded that Kugan died due to fluid accumulation in the lungs. Also pending in court is a suit filed by Kugan’s mother against the police for seizing items from the office of Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) pathologist Dr Prashant N Sambekar who performed the second post-mortem.
September 28, 2009
The logic of Najibo-nomics
by Dr Azly Rahman (via e-mail)
Fashionable it may seem to credit this or that “economic miracle” episode to this or that country to the name of its leader, economist, dictator, emperor, etc. – the larger picture of the historical march of “freakonomics” is neglected.
Freakonomics is what the global society was plagued with beginning with the American sub-prime-inspired crisis; a breakdown of the world’s casino-capitalist system.
Fashionable it may seem to cite this or that case-study to a proposed “Harvard” study, just like calling a university “Harvard of the East” or “Princeton of the Peripheries” or “Oxford of the Outbacks” or even “Cambridge of the Caribbean” – it misses the point of what and how casino capitalism works.
It misses the point that the world is undergoing yet another wave of perpetual revolution in the field of economic thinking.
Malaysians are into this fashionable game of assigning this or that terminology to this or that epoch of “economic cultural depression and how these are cured”.
Like the style of historicising that assigns this or that age to this or that person, resulting in epochs of historical vaingloriousness, Malaysians have seen periodisation of its capitalist march, in names such as “Mahathirism”, “Badawi-ism”, and now “Najibo-nomics”.
Not much was seen in names such as “Tunku-nomics” (after Tunku Abdul Rahman), Razak-ism (after Abdul Razak Hussein), and Hussein-nomics or Hussein-ism (after Hussein Onn).
Perhaps we did not really pay attention to how the pre-Mahathir era leaders address issues. We did not see words such as “Doctrine” attached as affix to these names to read “Tunku Doctrine” or the likes.
The Politics of Names
History that glorifies individuals is a result of historicising that involves forced authoring of name. Hence, dynasties in China are generally named after individuals and Empires in India, after their first rulers. In modern times, we saw terms such as “Thatcherism”, “Reaganism” or “Reaganomics” and perhaps “Obama-nomics” after we saw “Obama-mania”.
At the beginning of the century we saw Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, Castroism, and the “Kennedy Era”. Then there were Hitlerism, Bismarkian era, and Tokugawa Period. The Islamic world saw names such as Wahhabi-ism and Khomeini-ism.
Post-Independence Southeast Asia saw Marcos-era, Sukarnoism with its Marhaenism and Ganyang-Malaysia-ism replaced by Modern Day-Yudistira-ism of Suhartoism. We saw Lee Kuan Yew-styled Asian Despotism and the 22-year rule of Mahathirism.
As if there is not enough of the game of glorifying persons in history, the modern media too is continuing the politics of false-consciousness; masking the larger picture of oppression of those nameless masses in the march towards the perfection of casino capitalism.
Logic of Capitalism
Philosophically positioned, capitalism takes Nature, turns it into Technology, and engineers the evolution of culture that structures the divisions of classes of people, through the installation process of the “machine in the garden” and the transforming of human beings into labor and commodities.
Ultimately, Technology subdues Nature and thrusts Humanity into a matrix of complexities that relegates human beings as cogs in the wheels of Capital.
Capitalism is a system of predatory economics, sanctioned by the evolution of power, knowledge, and ideology. It must be looked at not by the “epochs” of rulership of these or that kings, tyrants, or despots, but culturally as a system that has a logic and its own system of periodisation.
It requires the unmasking of the psychology and culture of human control, bondage, and the abuse of control apparatuses, in order to sustain an economic system that will naturally create a complex system of ownership rationalized through yet another system of production of culture as commodity, and production of strategies of mystification that provides false consciousness and happiness to those exploited by those who own the means of economic, cultural, and intellectual production.
The evolution of tribes, nations, and countries need not be seen as linear, following Rostowian idea of developmental economics, framed by Friedmanian doctrine.
The premises underlying these ideas need to be studied, critiqued, and made culturally relevant in all of our institutions of higher learning.
We must also demand our students to master the concepts and applications of radical economic ideas that put back human dignity in the march of meaningful human progress.
In this case, why not challenge them to explore ecological socialism and sustainable developmental paradigm by having them study the economics and social systems of the indigenous peoples of Malaysia, such as the Penans, Ibans, and Kadazan-dusuns?
For too long, we have been so obsessed with creating wealth and destroying Nature rather than spreading wealth and preserving Nature.
The Middle Name
Back to “Najibo-nomics”.
I do not think it is necessary to give birth to this name. I think there is, in the words of a research or case-study strategy, those who proposed that the name must triangulate the data of Malaysia’s claim to economic invulnerability.
One must not only study numbers crunched officially and bury human beings under those numbers that are then trumpeted across the globe.
One must go back to Malaysia’s timeline of economic history and look at the country from a culturally-kaleidoscopic perspective, from the lens other than what structural functionalists would use.
The world we inhabit in is not merely a celestial body tattooed culturally and stylized by economic numerology; we live in a structurally violent world of the powerful and the powerless, of the haves and the have-nots, and of increasing dehumanization as a consequence of the economic condition we are born into, exacerbated by the rapidisation of technology and the speed of politics.
In Malaysia, fifty years of glorifying this and that epoch and of periods and ruptures must, in any case study of political economy, be triangulated with data on the human and cultural consequences of development — this “developmentalist agenda” must be perceived from a human rights perspective.
How must Malaysians study the decades of racial disintegration, incidences of ethnic violence, nature of authoritarianism, breakdown of virtually all sub-social systems, etched patterns of economic apartheid, schooling and racial discrimination, abuse of the state ideological apparatuses, and finally the steadily rising billion-Ringgit benchmark of corruption this country has gauged in her way to becoming a failed state?
Those above are amongst the variables that need to be taken into consideration when one thinks of a good case study. Let us be more sophisticated when naming names.
September 28, 2009
William Buckley and Noam Chomsky
Buckley Versus Chomsky
Noam Chomsky–911 Interview –Part 1
Noam Chomsky on Barack Obama
September 28, 2009
By Farish A Noor
It is bad enough that academics and political theorists are badly paid and overworked; now it seems that we have to make sense out of a mode of politics that is, frankly, nonsensical and irrational in Malaysia.
Perhaps the cause of the dilemma that is faced by many academics today lies in the fact that we were trained in rational choice theory and the assumption that human being are, and can, work and live as rational agents who are capable of making rational choices in life. That was certainly the predominant ethos in the 1960s to 1970s, when it was assumed that nation-building was a rational process to be driven and determined by technocrats who at least attempted to plan and develop the country along rational lines. It was assumed, for instance, that with the accumulation and division of wealth then the comfort zones of all communities would slowly expand and that greater income and capital equality would lead to a more equitable society that was more tolerant and harmonious.
It was also assumed that with mass rural migration to the urban industrial zones the nature of social relations and social bonds would become more contractual and rationalised, and that primordial loyalties to birth-places, clans, essentialist notions of identity and feudal modes of politics etc would diminish with the passing of time.
These were the pipe-dreams of technocrats and social scientists who perhaps spent too much time in the laboratories of the developed world and failed to see the prevailing social realities of Malaysia in the face. Social scientists (and I include myself in this list of losers) failed to note that despite the superficial trappings of progress and development, Malaysian society and culture remained mired in the politics of communalism, feudalism, narrow ethnic and racial communitarianism and the like. We earnestly believed that science and technological advancement would open up new opportunity structures and introduce new social arrangements where identity politics could be reconfigured on perhaps a less essentialised basis.
But we failed to note the social realities on the ground: Despite the prattle about modernity and modernisation, Malaysian politicians – of all parties – practised and perpetuated the mode of neo-feudal politics where loyalty to the leader was paramount and ideology was secondary.
We failed to note that even the most seemingly secular-leftist parties in Malaysia could not transcend the parochial and primordial politics of race and ethnic solidarity. We failed to note that despite the rise in literacy levels the most popular reading material in the country remained the tabloid press and sleazy magazines that featured an incessant dose of bomoh and pontianak stories, rape stories, sex scandal stories and the like. We failed to note the level of superstition, anxiety and apprehension towards modernity in a country that boasted of having the tallest twin towers in the world, but where people believed that the 41st floor and the 3rd level basement of the same building was haunted. In short, we failed to note that Malaysia was a hybrid nation that was only superficially modern.
Today we are trying to make sense of Malaysian politics and it is painfully and embarrassingly obvious that the politics of the country is senseless. The instances of apparent public insanity among our politicians is plainly demonstrated for all to see: Leaders of the BN coalition talk about racial equality and respect while some of them openly unsheath weapons and talk of racial supremacy in public. Politicians talk of respect for communities yet do nothing when a cow head is cut off and paraded in public in a protest against the relocation of a Hindu temple.
Opposition politicians talk about presenting themselves as the new alternative to national politics, but begin their gambit to power by banning alcohol, music concerts and generally upsetting every liberal minded Malaysian they can find. And now the new Makkal Sakti party is set to add yet another party to the already overcrowded landscape of Malaysian politics, after having first supporting Anwar Ibrahim and the Pakatan Rakyat to the hilt, only to do a u-turn in public and to denounce the Pakatan and openly support the Barisan.
It would appear that two important developments happened :- First, the horizon of possibility of Malaysian politics has expanded to a hitherto unprecedented degree, and where anything – and literally anything – can happen tomorrow. The erratic behaviour of Malaysian politicians and Malaysian political parties means that it is now practically impossible to predict what the respective politicians and parties will do next. Political alliances are made and broken at a drop of a hat, and political loyalties seem more focused on personalities rather than ideologies than ever before.
Second, the erratic and unpredictable nature of Malaysian politics today signals the return to short-termist politics in the narrowest sense of the word, where long term national interests are no longer held to be important and all that matters is winning the next by-election (and not even general election).
The lack of national focus and a view of Malaysia’s place in the world now and into the future was aptly demonstrated during the recent spat between Malaysia and Indonesia over cultural claims over batik and other forms of art and culture that is equally shared between the nations. Malaysia’s response was so lame and slow as to give the impression that the country’s foreign policy at present is aimless. Why? Because the political elite of the country at present have been engaged in a prolonged exercise of introverted navel-gazing and self-preservation instead.
In the midst of all this, analysts and scholars can no longer explain or understand Malaysian politics. How does one explain a party that claims to be the spokesman of a minority community which then decides to join forces with the very same groups that have been denigrating that minority in the first place?
Without sounding overly pessimistic or derisive, perhaps the time has come to abandon the old and outdated paradigms of rational choice theory when looking at the Malaysian political model; and to see if the time has come for a new paradigm altogether. Now more than ever there is the need to seriously analyse and understand the nature of Malaysian politics, but perhaps outside the sphere of the rational, objective and scientific.
September 28, 2009
by Zainon Ahmad
AS IS generally known, Britain was reluctant to grant Malaya independence so quickly after it reoccupied the country following the Japanese surrender. One of its officials stated in 1951 that it would take another 25 years before the country would be ready for self-government.
The reason, as acknowledged by scholars and also evident from the recent releases of Colonial Office documents, is Britain’s need for Malaya’s dollar earnings from the rubber and tin industry to help in the recovery of the war-ravaged British economy. In a sense Malaya was the “jewel in the crown” in the Far East.
One of the excuses given by colonial officials against early general election and independence was security. Indeed the communists, who were once part of the British-equipped Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army, had just launched an armed insurgency against the colonial government.
But to appear committed to decolonisation Britain made appropriate noises about its intention of preparing the people of Malaya for self-rule and eventually independence once the security threat was less critical.
The editorials of the British-controlled The Straits Times and The Malay Mail, dutifully echoed the sentiments of the British colonial officials, things just have to wait.
Another excuse, and a constantly used one, was the absence of a country-wide mass-based nationalist movement clamouring for independence. British colonial officials were quite smug about this as to them it would be a long time before any kind of a mass independence movement involving all the races would emerge to demand freedom.
There were attempts including the one by the All-Malaya Council for Joint Action (AMCJA) formed to protest the 1948 Federation of Malaya Constitution drafted by the joint effort of UMNO, the British and the Malay rulers. But it did not quite morph into a nationalist movement even after it was joined by a coalition of radical Malay parties.
Datuk Onn Jaafar, even when he was UMNO president, did not quite believe Malaya was ready even for self-government. In fact, in 1950 when he announced that the country would be ready for independence in about 15 years, he was rebuked by colonial officials.
He, too, tried after he left UMNO in 1951 and formed the mass-based multiracial Independent of Malaya Party (IMP) which was much favoured by the British colonial government.
None, however, foresaw UMNO and the MCA, two communal parties, working together on one platform to win the Kuala Lumpur municipal elections in February 1952. The successful joint outing inspired both party leaders towards further cooperation which was later institutionalised in the formation of the Alliance Party.
In his latest book, The Alliance Road to Independence, Dr Joseph M. Fernando, whose earlier books The Making of the Malayan Constitution and Federal Constitution won wide acclaim, provides the first detailed historical account of the Alliance struggle for independence of the country.
Contrary to what earlier writings have suggested, and is widely believed to be the case, Fernando reveals that the independence of the country was not given on a silver platter by the British but rather “it was the result of a concerted and sustained political struggle pursued by the Alliance Party which represented all the main races in the country.”
Two weeks after the Kuala Lumpur municipal elections, leaders of UMNO, led by Tunku Abdul Rahman and the MCA, led by Tan Cheng Lock, met to discuss extending the cooperation nationwide in preparation for other municipal and town council elections scheduled for later in the year.
Both parties agreed to cooperate as an “alliance of equals” where they will each preserve their separate identities, character and structure. H.S. Lee, leader of Selangor MCA told a forum that the country “will never be united unless the two communal organisations come together to give the lead to others”.
Tunku told the March 1952 UMNO general assembly that the party intended “to extend the alliance and promote friendly relationship with non-Malays in other states”.
All these are well-known but what is less known and what is highlighted by The Alliance Road to Independence is that the Alliance had to fight every inch of the way but in the process it was gradually becoming the foremost independence movement.
It was no plain sailing as the two parties had to fight internal doubting Thomases while at the same time outside criticisms, especially those from IMP’s Onn who had a powerful influence in the Federal Legislative Council where he was member for home affairs.
After more local council election victories in 1952 and 1953 and after the MIC abandoned the IMP and joined the Alliance in 1954 it was clear that the Alliance had won the leadership of the nationalist movement.
The book argues that the influence of the communists on the process of independence was marginal after 1951. Onn, whose IMP collapsed after the Chinese and Indians abandoned it, formed another multiracial party, Parti Negara, but clearly he was a spent force.
The introduction of federal elections in July 1955 was an important milestone in the country’s political evolution and the devolution of power from Britain to the local political elite paving the way towards self-government and independence.
To get there the Alliance had not only to fight British High Commissioner Sir Gerald Templer and his successor, Sir Donald MacGillivray, but also officials in London, Onn, other pro-Onn elites including the mentris besar, all of whom were generally against early Federal Legislative Council elections and the Alliance proposal for elected members to be in a slight majority over those nominated.
To back their demands for early general election for a new Federal Legislative Council and constitutional reforms, the Alliance leaders boycotted the government and organised demonstrations throughout the country. So overwhelmingly large was the mass support that the government was nearly paralysed and law and order was threatened.
The colonial government was concerned with the massive support the Alliance was getting but to avoid a breakdown of law and order gave in and announced that elections would be held on July 27.
The British supported Onn’s party hoping that it would win sufficient number of seats to deny power to the Alliance. But the Alliance won 51 or the 52 elected seats, with PAS winning one, in the new Federal Legislative Council of 98 members. The Tunku as leader of the Alliance became Chief Minister.
Even at this stage things were not clear about when full independence would be granted. The Alliance had campaigned on “Independence in Four Years”. But its leaders in several meetings with the British government leaders in London were able to make them agree to many of their demands, including August 31, 1957.
The book concludes that independence was the realisation of the dream UMNO and MCA leaders had in 1952. It was a reflection of the degree of consensus reached among the Alliance leaders to end British rule early.
Clearly independence was a joint effort in which all communities and their various organisations contributed significantly.
There was no doubt as the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and the Jalur Gemilang raised that the emotions felt and the hopes that were entertained were truly those of 1Malaysia.
(September 26, 2009)
I was in Seoul last Monday to participate in the World Forum for Democratisation in Asia (Third Biennial Conference) on “Sustaining Democratisation in Asia: Challenges of Economic and Social Justice” with some 200 delegates from Asia and the United States.
The conference brought together people from diverse backgrounds and of all ages, to seek ways of strengthening, and arresting the rapidly declining state of democracy in their countries. These men and women, all with impeccable credentials as human rights advocates, shared many of the same democratic values that have inspired human beings through the ages, all over the world, to make great personal sacrifices against humanly impossible odds in the name of justice and freedom from the tyranny of state-sanctioned human rights abuses, such as we are subjected to in Malaysia regularly.
I spoke on the panel on “Citizen Participation and Political Accountability.” In the audience were participants from Indonesia, the US, India, Cambodia, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia and Mongolia, among others.
I thought I was doing well, having made some rather important points on the need for citizens to take charge of their own destiny as freedom was far too important to be left to the tender mercies of politicians, many of whom were charlatans at best and untrustworthy to boot. I mentioned as an example how citizens’ active participation in the March 2008 general election in my country had succeeded in changing, albeit ever so slightly, the 50-year corrupt political landscape, a feat that was nothing short of miraculous given the corrupt and repressive environment against which they were fighting to change.
I must confess that I was somewhat surprised that interest in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “baggage” had extended beyond the shores of Malaysia. Blame the borderless cyber technology for this unwelcome attention. Before I could finish my final remark, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the personable Yale- and Princeton-educated Ms. Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, advisor to the President of Mongolia. She wanted to know, in the nicest possible way, why Malaysian citizens had voted for a person of Najib’s known reputation to assume the highest political office, and, she continued, was it true that in the Altantuya Shaariibuu trial, the Malaysian judiciary was acting improperly to protect Najib?
We do not, of course, have direct prime ministerial elections in Malaysia. I explained that the prime minister was elected by his party, UMNO. It says more about the integrity of the party than perhaps the person it elected to high office. Now, I am not unused to being asked all kinds of questions in my years of public speaking, both at home and abroad, but this, about the murder trial of Altantuya threw me off balance.
Ms Tsedevdamba was putting the proverbial cat among the pigeons. It caused a real flutter in my dovecot, no pun intended. My character and integrity would be put under close scrutiny, effectively on trial, and as in any trial, telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth would, I thought, be the best policy.
I am fiercely patriotic, proud of our many achievements in a number of important areas, but like many of you I often hang my head in utter shame and humiliation when I see the cynical manipulation of democratic principles by a government that seems to have lost its moral capital by developing an unethical and immoral political behaviour into a fine art form. To them who govern this country, the end would seem to justify the means.
In this respect, it is useful to remind ourselves what Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when he was Prime Minister, used to proclaim, without a tinge of embarrassment, that we were a democracy because we held regular elections. It was not important to the emasculator (or perhaps constrictor is a more appropriate word in his case) of human rights that they might not always have been free and fair. What Dr Mahathir and his UMNO friends have never appreciated, or deliberately failed to acknowledge, is the fact that democracy is not just about elections. It is what happens between elections that really is the point at issue. I hope Najib will not allow this grotesquely vintage Mahathir blind spot to rub off on him. It could lead to further electoral nightmares he can do without.
The “UMNO-led by the nose Barisan Nasional” government has always been preoccupied more with the form rather than the substance. To them democracy is a product you could pick and choose as and when you like, much like buying a kilo of sugar over a supermarket counter, in the same way they buy votes by the thousands at party election time.
Democracy is a process that requires active citizen participation and direct involvement because it belongs to the people irrespective of race. They should, therefore, be free from the shackles of corrupt political and bureaucratic practices that have become embedded in many of our once proud national institutions but, which today, have become nothing more than the sordid tools of an unprincipled government. The people should be liberated from the clutches of unjust and undemocratic laws such as the ISA.
Don’t these UMNO leaders see any contradiction between sending their own fellow citizens to indefinite detention without trial and celebrating Merdeka religiously at great public expense each year to mark the nation’s freedom from the injustice and degradation of alien rule? You cannot have 1 Malaysia without policies and systems that first dismantling those have done untold damage to the development of democracy in our society. These must be replaced by those that are consistent with the dictates and aspirations of a Malaysian Malaysia with all that this implies.
The end of the year is the season for overseas conferences. I will be speaking at three in the next six weeks and I wonder if the likes of the delectable Ms Tsedevdamba will be in the audience to plague and ply me with questions as I was in Seoul about the Najib-Altantuya nexus, the submarine and other arms contracts. Najib should have realised by now that his every word, gesture and action will be scrutinised and analysed by the people of this country. It is their right to know what their prime minister is up to in the public domain. It is the price he must pay willingly under our democratic system.
I suppose if my listeners ask me awkward questions about Najib, I will have to tell them that I am not, thank heavens, Najib’s keeper. I suppose, also, that is the price I pay for living in the shadow of Najib’s 1 Malaysia.
September 27, 2009
Comment: Extraordinary political leaders are a special breed of people. Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Dr. Ismail, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Tun Hussein Onn, Tan Sri Khir Johari, Tun Tan Siew Sin, Tun Sambanthan, Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Dr. M. Said, Dr Burhanuddin Al-Helmy, Ahmad Boestamam, Zulkifli Mohamad et.al of that generation are unique. I must not forget to include King Ghaz (Tun Muhammad Ghazalie Shafie). They gave of themselves so that in the first 2 decades we became a nation respected by our region, and the rest of the world. They served the rakyat with distinction and are still remembered today for their deeds and public service.
The qualities that they all embodied today have given way to greed and arrogance, which enabled a new generation of leaders after them to subvert the rule of law, destroy our institutions of governance, and enrich themselves, their families and cronies. They did it with impunity; we tolerated it while some of our compatriots flock to them for their own personal gain.
The idea of public service is no longer in vogue today. Our worth is not measured by our intellectual capital (integrity, honesty and trust) and our performance (hard work, competence and professionalism), but by the size of our bank accounts. Corruption is rampant, almost, if not already, a way of life.
Over the last 30 years, we are mere bystanders as our “leaders” are allowed to do as they please. We gave them a strong mandate to govern and then on March 8, 2008, we gave them a shokku by denying the UMNO-Barisan Nasional the much coveted two thirds majority and voting them our 5 state government (Kedah, Penang, Perak, Selangor, and Kelantan). That is not enough. The question of extraordinary leadership for Malaysia remains unresolved, and the UMNO-Barisan Nasional government continues to behave as it pleases.
Why must we continue to degenerate in terms of our morality and ethics? Progress in material terms is meaningless if we slide in terms of our values and our dignity. How can we reverse this degenerative process? –Din Merican.
by ninitalk (September 19, 2009) @ninitalk.wordpress.com
No leader is invincible!
Whether it is in the corporate and business world, in politics and government, in cultural and religious movements, in the community and among kinsfolk – no one person is indispensable however smart he (she) is and however exemplary his (her) leadership qualities are; however much he has contributed to the group or organisation and however greatly he is loved and respected.
Even in families where the father is the head, the roles and responsibilities of the mother and the other members are diverse. Together they form a whole and together they function as a unit. If one member falters or fails or the head of the family dies, the next in line assumes responsibility.
Of course there are extraordinary people whose talents and skills are outstanding and whose leadership is visionary. Such leaders will carry the organisation to great heights, leaving a string of achievements and an everlasting legacy. Excellent teachers inspire confidence and breed excellence in their students. Dedicated parents raise children who are outstanding whether it is in their scholastic achievements or in their personality traits.
A true leader builds a strong and loyal team and nurtures the strengths of each member of the group and each echelon in the organisation. He lays down the principles, sets the targets and determines the pace for the organisation to achieve its goals and realise its vision in the most effective and efficient ways.
So it is whether the person is the manager of a corporation, the director of a government department or the head of a political party. Assuming a leadership position requires you to trust and to delegate and to mobilise your team for the general good. No person can do it alone or has the capacity to do so! No leader should selfishly pursue his own ambitions at the expense of his team!
The leader of a government must be relevant for the times and the needs of the nation and its people. He must not only have the resilience to face the greatest challenges and withstand the harshest adversities in the country’s development, he must have the courage to take the toughest stands and the most unpopular decisions for the common good. Both praise and criticism must be handled with equanimity for the responsibility to the nation and its citizens are great indeed.
For a country’s leaders to cling to power when they sense the people’s displeasure and a shift in loyalties is foolish indeed! That politics has its ups and downs is a truism that must be taken more seriously. Playing political games at the expense of the people you lead is dishonourable and shows a lack of principles and integrity. When the support is gone, politicians must realise that their time is up and they must pass the baton on to the next in line.
When the first elected Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan Dr Mohd Said was asked by the then Prime Minister not to contest the state seat in the 1969 election on the grounds that he had lost the support of the major state UMNO divisions, he acceded. He knew that his time was up although he had the support of the state MCA and MIC and some of the UMNO divisions.
He submitted his resignation, turning down the Prime Minister’s offer of contesting a parliamentary seat and the post of a federal Minister. This he politely did in a letter, but not without refuting the flimsy argument that his leadership was flawed because he had not acquired a building for the state UMNO headquarters, and that he had not acquiesced to the state Ruler’s demands.
His principled stand was that he wanted to continue serving his constituency, Linggi and his state, Negeri Sembilan. This he had tried to do to the best of his ability for ten years, with the wisest of counsel from his political mentors and government colleagues and the highest standards of integrity. If the support was no longer forthcoming then it was time for him to move on. Being a federal Minister was not part of Dr Mohd Said’s personal or political ambitions despite the power and glamour it promised.
Ultimately one has to ask what one’s purpose and mission, goals and visions, ethics and principles in life are? Whatever path one chooses, whatever decisions one makes, ultimately one has to be able to hold one’s head high! One has to be able to live one’s life with dignity! No one is invincible! Leaders come and go but their good lingers on.
Before I forget, let me play some jazz pieces, which are classics in my ranking, featuring some well known trumpet players like Al Hirt, Chet Baker (with Alto Saxophonist Paul Desmond), Louis Armstrong, Wynton Marsalis, and Terence Blanchard for your weekend entertainment. For the next 20 minutes or so, forget our politics and enjoy the sounds of cool jazz. I know you are difficult to please, but I sincerely hope that you like my selections. I have included Pahnur’s choice, that of his favorite jazz man (mine too), the legendary Oscar Peterson (piano player).–DJ Din Merican
Al Hirt- Night Life
Chet Baker and Paul Desmond–Autumn Leaves
Wynton Marsalis–I can’t get started without you
Louis Armstrong–La vie en rose
Terence Blanchard–Boat to Havana (2001)
Oscar Peterson–Pahnur’s choice
posted by din merican–September 26, 2009
Bloomberg’s Justin Blum in Washington DC reports on September 14, 2009 that Iran increasingly is obtaining U.S. military equipment and technology through shipments to Malaysian middlemen that illegally circumvent trade restrictions, according to American officials and analysts.
The U.S. has charged, convicted or sentenced defendants in at least six cases involving Malaysia since August 2008. The shipments have included parts for bombers and items sent to firms linked to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program, according to court papers. More Malaysia shipments are under investigation, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The shipments illustrate how difficult it is for U.S. law enforcement to keep military secrets and equipment from reaching Iran, a country the U.S. accuses of developing nuclear weapons and sponsoring terrorism. The U.S. bans most trade with Iran.
Middlemen also have operated out of the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai. Shipments through Malaysia increased after the U.A.E. cracked down on exports more than a year ago, said Steven Pelak, the principal deputy chief of the Justice Department’s counterespionage section in Washington.
“We’ve seen a lot more being now diverted through Malaysia in particular,” Pelak said in an interview. “We have seen Iranian front companies there and we’ve seen an increase there since there’s been a tightening in Dubai.”
Military goods also have been illegally shipped to China, which has been trying to obtain missile, imaging, semiconductor and submarine technology from the U.S., according to a Defense Department report this year. Espionage allegations against China are “unwarranted,” said Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the country’s embassy in Washington.
The Iranian government creates a shopping list of items it wants and gives it to middlemen who seek the products in the U.S. and elsewhere, said Pelak.
When one country that is home to intermediaries cracks down, the shipments move elsewhere, said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington and a former Iraqi weapons inspector.
The activity in Malaysia “poses a threat,” Albright said in an interview. “It allows Iran to improve its military capabilities, nuclear capabilities.”
In a case unsealed last year, the Justice Department alleged that electronics were illegally sent from the U.S. to Iran through Dubai and Malaysia. Some of those electronics are the same type found in roadside bombs in Iraq.
Shipments to Malaysia have increased, Albright said, because “it’s harder to do it from Dubai. You’re trying to get a U.S. supplier to send it to a false end user.”
The U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 after militant Iranian students occupied the American embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak declined to comment, according to an aide. Afdal Hashim, a spokesman for the Malaysian embassy in Washington, didn’t respond to phone calls or an e-mail.
The U.S. companies that supply middlemen typically are closely held sole proprietorships, said Pelak. In 2007, the U.S. brought charges against a larger company, defense contractor ITT Corp., based in White Plains, New York, for allowing the transfer to China of night-vision technology. The company agreed to pay $100 million and plead guilty to two criminal charges.
The U.S. announced a crackdown in 2007 of illegal exports of restricted military technology and “dual-use” equipment with military and commercial applications.
The multiagency effort resulted in criminal charges against more than 145 defendants in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a 32 percent increase from the year before. Nearly half of the 2008 cases involved munitions or other restricted items headed for Iran or China, according to the Justice Department.
Authorities increased enforcement after concluding other countries were taking advantage of the U.S. to develop their own militaries and compete economically, said David Szady, who retired as an assistant director of the counterintelligence division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2006. The FBI trained agents to better detect illegal exports of sensitive materials, he said in an interview.
In a March criminal complaint, the U.S. said Iranian national Majid Kakavand oversaw an international network that purchased thousands of military and commercial items from U.S. companies and illegally sent them to Iran via Malaysia.
Recipients included two Iranian military firms that the U.S. says are linked to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, according to court papers.
Kakavand allegedly used a company in Malaysia called Evertop Services Sdn Bhd to purchase products for Iran from U.S. and European companies, according to court papers. Among the items were capacitors, spectrometers, resistors and airborne antennae. It’s unclear whether Evertop is still operating. The company couldn’t be located.
Kakavand concealed from the U.S. companies that the products were going to Iran, according to court papers. He was arrested in March in France. The U.S. is seeking his extradition.
The U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, James Keith, said in a February speech in Washington that Malaysia should create a strong system to control exports. A proposed law has been pending since 2004, he said.
“One reason this has become an increasingly urgent priority is trade diversion to Iran by entities who seek to exploit the Malaysian system,” Keith said, according to the prepared text of his speech. “Malaysia has more to contribute to international mechanisms to manage the flow of sensitive technology, including nuclear and missile-related equipment.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Blum in Washington at email@example.com