Kalau Anak Bangsa Malaysia, mengapa saya dibezakan?


February 28, 2o10

“To celebrate diversity – that is our final destination, the final apex. If we celebrate our diversity, then it means we have reached our final destination of ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ and 1 Malaysia. This means that we think as one people, one nation, one dream.”—Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak

“Saya wartawan anak Bangsa Malaysia, bukannya dari India,mengapa bezakan saya?”

oleh G. Manimaran (February 27, 2010)

Buat pertama kali penulis melangkah ke Kelab Sultan Sulaiman yang terletak di tengah-tengah ibu negara. Ketika melangkah ke pekarangan premis, penulis dapat merasai udara semangat perjuangan orang-orang Melayu, lebih-lebih ia terletak dalam lingkungan Kampung Baru, penempatan milik kaum Melayu.

Kelab Sultan Sulaiman memikul detik-detik bersejarah yang membawa kepada penubuhan Umno, menguburkan usaha menubuhkan Malayan Union dan kemudian kemerdekaan negara.

Walaupun hari ini merupakan cuti mingguan, penulis memutuskan untuk membuat liputan pelancaran Majlis Perundingan Melayu (MPM) yang ditubuhkan oleh pertubuhan-pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO). Program ini menarik perhatian penulis lebih-lebih ekoran perubahan landskap politik yang disaksikan dua tahun lalu.

Tanggal 8hb. Mac ini merupakan genap dua tahun negara melalui tsunami politik. Tsunami politik itu secara langsung dan secara tidak langsung telah mencetuskan pelbagai reaksi yang kita sedia mengetahui dan sedia maklum.

Sebagai penulis yang sudah dua dekad berkecimpung dalam dunia kewartawanan, pengalaman pagi ini cukup merimaskan, malah cukup membimbangkan.

Mengapa kita masih mahu melabelkan kita ini orang Melayu, orang Cina dan orang India? Mengapa tidak kita melihat sebagai satu bangsa Malaysia yang diilhamkan Wawasan 2020 dan kini slogan 1 Malaysia dibawa Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Latar Belakang

Penulis dibesarkan di sebuah ladang yang penduduknya terdiri daripada kalangan masyarakat pelbagai kaum. Penulis meneruskan pengajian di Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, yang rata-rata mengutamakan aspirasi nasional dengan bahasa kebangsaan. Penulis pernah berkhidmat di Kumpulan Utusan selama 16 tahun. Penulis pernah berkhidmat sebagai pensyarah sambilan di universiti-universiti awam yang pelajarnya pelbagai kaum. Penulis pernah terlibat dalam makmal 1 Malaysia akhir tahun untuk menghimpunkan input bagi menyemai perpaduan dan integrasi negara.

Ketua tempat saya bekerja, dari dulu hingga sekarang, adalah seorang Melayu. Mereka tidak pernah membezakan saya ini seorang keturunan India. Saya pernah menyelia staf bawahan saya. Saya tidak pernah melihat mereka mengikut warna kaum dan agama.

Banyak lagi yang boleh diketengahkan bahawa penulis adalah anak bangsa Malaysia.Sepanjang dua dekad penglibatan dalam dunia kewartawan, penulis selaku wartawan yang bertanggungjawab dan beretika, jika tidak amalkan tapisan kendiri dan menyiarkan segala apa yang diperkatakan oleh sumber berita — sama ada dikeluarkan orang perseorangan, NGO atau ahli-ahli politik secara bulat-bulat, sudah tentu ia sudah lama menyumbangkan kepada kerumitan, kesulitan atau masalah-masalah yang tidak perlu.

Penulis pernah membaca dan menghasilkan tulisan yang bersangkut paut dengan insiden berbaur perkauman. Ini termasuklah insiden bekas Ketua UMNO Bahagian Bukit Bendera, Datuk Ahmad Ismail dan bekas pegawai khas perdana menteri Datuk Nasir Safar baru-baru ini, sebagai antara contoh. Begitu juga tindakan seorang perwakilan pada mesyuarat agung tahunan MIC tahun lalu yang mahu mengenakan kalungan selipar.

Kami sebagai penulis mengecam tindakan-tindakan sedemikian.Tetapi apabila ia dialami hari ini, ia sesuatu yang sungguh mengejutkan. Mengapa ia harus berlaku sedangkan penulis hanya menghadirkan diri pada pelancaran Majlis Perundingan Melayu (MPM) selaku Editor Bahasa Malaysia The Malaysian Insider demi menolong masyarakat Melayu dengan mengetengahkan luahan dan suara mereka untuk tatapan kaum-kaum lain, juga kepada pihak berkuasa.

Kata orang “tak kenal, maka tak cinta”. Jika kita hendak menulis sesuatu isu atau perkara dengan mendalam, kita sebagai penulis harus menghayati masalah dan isu seseorang, sesuatu kaum dan sesebuah organisasi.

Justeru, dengan berbuat demikian kita boleh menghasilkan penulisan yang bermutu, adil dan bertanggungjawab. Malah, kehadiran penulis juga bertujuan memberi liputan seimbang selepas tercetusnya pelbagai pandangan tuduh-menuduh dan menuding jari ke arah pihak-pihak tertentu dan kaum lain di negara ini sejak 8hb. Mac 2008.

Diarah Keluar

Sekurangnya-kurangnya sebagai wartawan yang lahir di negara ini selepas Merdeka, yang mempunyai perasaan cintakan negara dan turut mahu menyumbang kepada kemakmuran dan kesejahteraan negara, penulis melangkah ke Kelab Sultan Sulaiman dengan niat baik.

Tetapi niat baik difahami dari sudut serong oleh beberapa individu tertentu yang mengaku mereka wakil sekretariat MPM. Akhirnya ia mencetuskan persepsi negatif terhadap MPM walaupun sebenarnya ia ditubuhkan dengan tujuan tertentu.

Selepas kira-kira 20 minit berada dewan, penulis dibawa keluar dari dewan majlis dan diminta tidak membuat liputan. Ada anggota sekretariat mengatakan bahawa “ini majlis kami, kita bincang masalah suami isteri, tidak mahu orang lain mendengar dan bimbang akan membuat berita mengelirukan”.

Penulis faham kehendak mereka. Justeru, jawapan penulis juga mudah, “jika begitu anggaplah majlis ini majlis tertutup dan wartawan lain yang berada dalam dewan juga harus dimaklumkan ini dan diminta keluar sekali”.

Penulis tersentak apabila dikatakan mereka adalah wartawan kalangan Melayu dan tidak akan menghasilkan berita sensitif.“Saya buat keputusan (mereka akan kekal di dewan),” kata seorang lagi wakil sekretariat. Penulis cuba menjelaskan tujuan kehadiran dan pendirian bahawa mahu memberikan laporan seimbang mengenai MPM tetapi tidak diambil peduli.

Penulis tidak ingin menceritakan panjang perkataan-perkatan lain yang digunakan dalam perbualan dengan sekretariat. Penulis tidak mahu mencetuskan suasana tidak senang di kalangan masyarakat pelbagai kaum negara ini.

Pokoknya, negara sudah lebih lima dekad mengharungi ranjau perjalanan dan pergeseran kaum. Penulis secara peribadi beranggapan bahawa kita sudah lama telah melepasi garis pemisahan kaum apabila melabel orang lain.

Antara yang berucap pada majlis pelancaran ialah  Presiden Perkasa Datuk Ibrahim Ali yang juga Ahli Parlimen Bebas Pasir Mas, Presiden Mubarak Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang dan Presiden Persatuan Pemikir Profesional Melayu Malaysia, Professor Datuk Dr Kamaruddin Kachar yang juga bekas Ketua Pengarah BTN berucap pada majlis pelancaran itu. Presiden Cuepacs Omar Osman juga hadir.

Penulis sudah lama mengenali Ibrahim Ali. Beliau seorang yang lantang bersuara, dan penulis pernah menemu bual beliau selaku ketua Perkasa untuk The Malaysian Insider beberapa minggu lalu. Pernah menemu bual beberapa kali selaku wartawan.

Atas kapasiti itu, Ibrahim secara peribadi menghubungi penulis untuk menjelaskan bahawa sekretariat tidak membuat sebarang keputusan melarang mana-mana wartawan daripada liputan pelancaran MPM.

“Saya sangat sedih, minta maaf dengan apa yang berlaku… saya kesal dengan apa yang berlaku… ini bukan keputusan MPM,” kata beliau yang berjanji akan mengambil tindakan ke atas mereka yang membuat keputusan sendiri itu.

Setiausaha MPM Dr Hassan Mat juga melahirkan pandangan yang serupa.“Saya memang ada dimaklumkan kehadiran saudara dan dikatakan bahawa mereka telah meminta saudara keluar, tetapi saya sebenarnya telah meminta mereka membenarkan saudara terus berada dalam dewan.

“Tetapi ada seorang dua pegawai buat keputusan sendiri, tidak mengikut apa yang saya kata… ini bukan keputusan MPM… saya meminta maaf bagi pihak MPM,” kata beliau kepada penulis menerusi perbualan telefon.

Penulis perlu mengakui sikap-sikap negatif begini tidak melibatkan semua orang Melayu di negara. Penulis juga mempunyai ramai kawan daripada kalangan Melayu dan yang beragama Islam. Penulis menganggap mereka sebagai sebahagian daripada anggota bangsa Malaysia.

Kita kena memahami mereka dan menghormati mereka. Itu yang penulis lakukan selama ini. Misalnya sempena sambutan Maulidur Rasul semalam, penulis meluangkan lebih dua hari untuk menghantar mesej selamat menyambut Maulidur Rasul dan masih ada rakan-rakan yang perlu dikirimkan perutusan.

Dalam suasana sebegini kita masih ada golongan yang berfikiran sempit, yang merosakkan segala usaha kerajaan dan dasar negara. Sebab nila setitik, rosak susu sebelangga!

Tidak kira kaum dan agama, kita tidak harus ada golongan “Little Napoleon” yang menghina dan menyinggung kaum lain. Bolehkah kita berubah? Saya wartawan anak bangsa Malaysia, bukannya dari India.

Malaysian Economy: Ahmad Husni responds to Anwar Ibrahim


February 27, 2010

Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni on the Malaysian Economy

Malaysia’s recovery from the global economic crisis were fuelled by positive growth registered by various sectors and not solely due to the accelerated implementation of the RM67 billion economic stimulus package, said Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.

He said opposition claims that Malaysia’s 2009 “better than expected” fourth quarter economic performance was the direct result of the whopping RM67 billion stimulus package was totally baseless.

“The economic recovery in the United States and Europe also provided the advantage to Malaysia. While we did not reduce our exports to Europe, we also increased our exports to Asian countries.

“Previously, our country registered a trade deficit with China, but it was no longer the case now as within a two-year period, we have recorded a trade surplus,” he told reporters after launching the “Pintar MAS” programme at Sekolah Kebangsaan Manjoi Dua here today.

Ahmad Husni said the high growth rate recorded by several economic sectors provided the impetus for the country to recover from the economic crisis that plagued the world. For instance, he said, the manufacturing sector recorded a negative growth in the first, second and third consecutive quarters last year, but rebounded in the fourth quarter, with a positive growth.

“In the first quarter, the sector registered -17.9 per cent growth, second quarter -14.5 per cent, third quarter -8.6 per cent and in the fourth quarter +5.3 per cent. All these contributed to the nation’s economic growth,” he added.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, when announcing the 2009 fourth quarter economic performance on Wednesday, said the worst was over for the country.

The 4.5 per cent economic growth registered in the fourth quarter of last year was beyond expectation, amid strengthened domestic and external demand, said Najib, who is also finance minister. For the year 2009, the economy contracted by 1.7 per cent, lower than the -3 per cent projected earlier, he added.

Anwar Ibrahim can forget about getting Justice from Malaysia


February 27, 2010

ALIRAN President  says, Anwar can forget about getting justice

Anwar can forget about getting justice from the Malaysian judicial system. Rules can be bent, rules can be ignored, rules can be overlooked when it involves Anwar. This is what the man in the street is saying.

We witnessed this nauseating so-called judicial process in both the trials concerning Anwar’s sodomy and corruption trials in 1999. In the first sodomy trial the charges were amended three times because the authorities did not know the definite date to conclusively state when the so-called sodomy was believed to have taken place then.

In the corruption trial, the presiding judge made it so difficult for the defence to mount a serious challenge to the charge. The judge even decided that he should be convinced of the relevance of the point before the defence was allowed to question the prosecution witnesses. It was so outrageously unjust that it led Malaysians to believe that Anwar had to be convicted no matter what.

Are we witnessing a similar scenario in this instance where Anwar is on trial for the second time charged with, of all things, another sodomy?

The way things are moving, it seems, only divine intervention can save him from the injustice he is being subjected to. Today’s ruling (25 February 2010) by the Federal Court refusing to review an earlier Federal Court decision has an unsettling effect on our system of justice.

Solicitor general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden had argued that the court is not empowered to review its decision. A review can only (be) granted if the applicant manages to prove that “there was an error in law” and only in extremely rare cases is a review granted (Malaysian Insider).

There may not be “an error in law” but what course of remedy is open to the litigant when there was an error in justice? When such error involving justice is so apparent, should the court turn a blind eye to the injustice?

We are made to understand that Rule 137 of the rules of the Federal Court stipulates that the court had limited power to decide on a review of its own decision “to prevent injustice or to prevent an abuse of the process of the court” (Malaysian Insider).

Is this the reason why the law is sometimes referred to as an ass? Does this mean that an injustice and an abuse of the process of court can be tolerated and condoned by the court? Is this what rule of law is all about?

Why is Anwar being denied the list of witnesses? Why is he denied additional information and evidence which is so crucial to his defence? Is it meant to crucify him by all means as many believe it to be?

Shouldn’t the court, in all fairness, order this vital information be given to him so that the three foreign experts who are here can advise Anwar’s team of lawyers as to how to counter the so-called evidence with the prosecution?

Strangely, the court has also ruled that in spite of the fact that there was no penetration according to medical evidence, it will not dismiss the case as there is other corroborating evidence to support the charge.

Normally, penetration is most crucial in the case of rape and sodomy. In such an eventuality, other corroborating evidence may lend credence to the charge but without any positive evidence of penetration what credibility would this charge hold in any fair trial?

In the words of Lord Devlin, the court process “is to provide a civilized method of settling disputes. It is …to remove a sense of injustice.” Unfortunately, we have not witnessed this truth so far. The injustice has not been removed by any stretch of the imagination.

P Ramakrishnan
President
25 February 2010

Simply The Best for this Weekend


February 27, 2010

Friends and associates,

I have taken the unusual step of consulting Dr. Kamsiah’s friends about the songs that I should present this weekend for your entertainment.

They have chosen hot Tina Turner (which is Dr. Kamsiah’s choice), seductive Gloria Gaynor and lovely lady of song Barbra Striesand and wisely they have also included Sir Cliff Richard and the talented Canadian crooner of the Frank Sinatra type, Michael Buble. While these songs naturally reflect their taste, I personally think that they have chosen tunes which  are acceptable all of us.

May you have a good weekend and enjoy Chap Goh Mei. To the young Chinese ladies, throw those oranges into the sea for good luck and may you find the man of your dream. Hey, make sure you leave your telephone or handphone number and e-mail address on the oranges.–DJ Din Merican

Tina Turner–Simply the Best

Tina Turner–What’s Love got to do with it

Gloria Gaynor–I will survive

Barbra Streisand–Woman in Love

Cliff Richard –We don’t talk anymore

Michael Buble– I wanna go home

On the Malaysian Economy


February 27, 2010

On the state of the Malaysian Economy: Your Say

‘I pity the next generation of Malaysians who will be paying for our past and current culture of ‘entitled’ corruption. Wake up or we’re done for.’

‘Worst has yet to come’

Alfy: First of all, I don’t trust whatever the government announces using its ‘supported’ media. Secondly, when they use their own so-called economists, I trust them even less.

Get independent outside financial experts and let them inform us. They will paint the truth, instead of what we are being fed. The thing I cannot ‘tahan’ (stand) is the government thinking we were born yesterday!

Temenggong: What Anwar Ibrahim says is true and the economy’s been that way since the mid-90s. Obviously, he is being advised by economic experts. Public spending cannot continue indefinitely, and sooner or later we have to address the deficit or risk the ringgit falling. Besides, the government is effectively bankrupt and relies on oil income even to pay operating expenditure. This is a dangerous situation.

The atheist: Najib Abdul Razak’s pronouncement that Malaysia is out of the economic woods is but a smokescreen to hoodwink the unenlightened public and the kampong folks. There is no doubt that our FDI has plummeted, foreign investors are wary because of the racism and unstable political climate here.

Najib should go to the ground and see for himself how average (not BN political plunderers) Malaysians are trying to keep their heads above water. His denial syndrome is not going to fool anyone. Soon we’ll be exporting Malaysian maids and manual labourers to Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

I pity the next generation of Malaysians who will be paying for our past and current culture of ‘entitled’ corruption. Wake up or we’re done for.

Poor guy: Today the economic growth rate of Vietnam and Indonesia already far exceeds Malaysia. Their social activity and intellectual development is also better with the gap between us and them narrowing. According to an economist who recently surveyed the Philippines, he thinks in 20 years’ time, Malaysia can replace Philippines in becoming a world exporter of maids.

Jbss: Yes, Najib is trying to pull wool over the eyes of the rakyat. The KLCI shows increases while the prices of the stocks do not reflect the increases. This is one clear sign of manipulations of the share market to give false hope to the small investors. They become the suckers.

Bullish predictions by pea-brain leaders with devilish political agendas are intended to suck in the small investors who would become the losers in the end. So be warned!

Soapbox: I believe that BN will imprison Anwar. I also believe BN will not kick out Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. PKR should invite him over to helm the party and Pakatan Rakyat when Anwar is in prison. He should be able to hold Pakatan together until the general election. Forget about analysing BN’s economic data. It’s just a waste of time.

Kgen: The government pump-priming is unsustainable. The growth that really matters is private investments and that has fallen precipitously. If even locals have no confidence in investing in the economy, what more foreign investors?

The economy will continue to stagnate because UMNO leaders cannot make the connection between a robust democracy which respects the rule of law and economic performance.

Kay Kay: If what Anwar is predicting comes true, it can only be good for the politics of the opposition alliance. Those with money should consider it a blessing in disguise. There are always opportunities where there are problems. Those who only have their proverbial shirts on their backs should consider going into small trades for themselves. Those who depend on wages will be run out of town by the illegal immigrants.

UMNO will never change. Their politics is based on jealousy of the Chinese in business. Hence, they will always be looking for ways to become as rich as possible in the shortest time possible by stealing the people’s sweat from the Treasury.

More on CSIS Seminar: Gani Patail and MACC Chairman absent


February 26, 2010

CSIS Washington DC Seminar on Governance and The Rule of Law in Malaysia Became a Closed Door Affair, reports Malaysiakini’s Maran Perianen(February 25, 2010)

A high-profile seminar on the Malaysian government and judiciary in Washington DC by a prominent international think-tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) was strangely turned into a closed-door event.

The seminar titled “Governance and Rule of Law in Malaysia” featured prominent Malaysian government officials before an audience of US government officials, activists, students, diplomats and Malaysian expatriates.

NONEIn the CSIS announcement sent out last week, it stated that the two-hour seminar was “on the record”. But organisers made a U-turn on the matter.

Law Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz (right) was the sole Malaysian representative.Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s advisory panel chairperson Abdul Hamid Mohamad were also invited speakers but were absent.

Instead, Nazri’s entourage included an unsual mix of government and opposition federal lawmakers along with Deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Ronald Kiandee.

The MPs present were Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (UMNO – Pasir Salak), Wee Choo Keong (PKR – Wangsa Maju), Zahrain Mohd Hashim (Independent – Bayan Baru) and Jamaluddin Jarjis (UMNO – Rompin), who is also the Malaysian Ambassador to the US.

Expectedly, the US audience and press were particularly keen on questioning the government’s handling of the on-going Anwar Ibrahim sodomy trial and were thus disappointed with Abdul Gani’s absence and the organiser’s request for the seminar to be kept off the record.

Ex-envoy: Strange Seminar

Before the seminar commenced, senior adviser and director of the CSIS Southeast Asia Program Ernest Bower barred attempts by Malaysiakini to record the session on video. When told that the invitations for the seminar did not specify that the seminar was a closed event, Bower brushed it off by saying that it was quite normal for CSIS seminars to be kept off the record.

NONESeminar participant and former US envoy to Malaysia John R Malott told Malaysiakini that the seminar was the “strangest” that he had attended in Washington DC.

“I found it unusual that the session was off-the-record. This is very rare for a Washington think-tank,” he said.

“The seminar was very strange because there were supposed to be three speakers, but throughout, only one person, Minister Nazri, was there. Abdul Gani never came at all.”

MalottNONE (left) said he had hoped that Abdul Gani would be present because he had specific questions regarding the conduct of the prosecution team in Anwar’s sodomy trial.

He said that the prosecution is required by law to give the defence team whatever evidence necessary for the accused to mount a defence but prosecutors are doing the exact opposite.

“How can they convince us (that it is a fair trial) when they withhold vital information needed defend someone. In America there is no question about this. It will be certainly hard to convince us that this trial is fair,” he said.

Seminar cut short

During his 40-minute speech, Nazri spoke about laws in Malaysia which promotes good governance and how he was instrumental in the formation of the National Integrity Plan, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and other instruments to curb graft.

Nazri also lauded Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s commitment towards combating graft and promoting good governance. He added that he would resign if Najib ever interferes with the MACC. Before the question-and-answer session began, Amnesty International representative T Kumar urged the seminar organisers to open up proceedings to the press.

“That is the right thing to do,” said Kumar, who is the Amnesty International’s Asia and Pacific advocacy director. Despite Nazri’s nod of approval, Bower replied with a firm “no”, adding that he will not backpedal on his decision.

Following this, Nazri was quizzed on the sodomy trial, the Internal Security Act and the controversy surrounding the use of the term ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims. Before he answered the question about the ‘Allah’ controversy, Nazri told the Malaysiakini reporter not to report his answer before his lengthy reply.

Bower abruptly ended the brief 20-minute session after Nazri answered the third question. According to Bower, the Malaysian entourage had to rush off to another engagement.

PKR MP’s participation not unusual

Meanwhile, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution described Wee’s presence at the event as nothing out of the ordinary.

“I do not think that it is peculiar because it is very normal for MPs to go on delegations, whether the opposition or the government. In fact, my last trip to Japan was with Parliament speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia and other MPs from BNBC (Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club).

“We cannot stop CSIS from inviting us. But we do have our stand on the speech given (at the seminar). However, the participation by our MPs is not against Pakatan Rakyat’s stand. So I think that it is perfectly normal for Wee to attend the event.”

Reminder to Our Prime Minister: “Pump Priming is the Road to Economic Serfdom”


PRESS RELEASE

Office of the Leader of the Opposition

February 26, 2010

MALAYSIAN ECONOMY: THE WORST IS YET TO COME

The latest declaration by the Prime Minister that “the worst is over” when the country’s GDP grew at 4.5% in the last quarter of 2009 is not only premature but irresponsible.

It is clear that the supposedly stronger growth was due to the massive pump priming by the government over the last year. Propping up the sagging economy is at best a stop gap measure. Pump priming by definition cannot be permanent. I am deeply concerned that the continuous reliance on massive spending will take us down the road to economic serfdom. And that may not be too distant in the future.

Since 1998, the Barisan Nasional government has implemented only one economic policy i.e. increasing public expenditure (most of the time unnecessarily through massive projects that were subjected to leakages and inflated costs) to make up for the dramatic slack in private spending.

The data on private investment trending since 1991 should serve as a reminder of the path to economic damnation that BN has dragged us into. While private investments grew at the compound annual growth rate of 16.2% between 1991 and 1997, this has dropped severely to a marginal growth of 1% between 1998 and 2008.

Translating this into private investments in real terms, between 2005 and 2008, private investments into our economy stagnated at RM20.3 billion each year. This is even lower than the private investments figure in 1991, nearly 20 years ago.

While Barisan Nasional remains clueless about rejuvenating the economy for the long term, private investments have plunged from the pre-1997 days when it constituted 40% of the gross domestic products (in real terms), to an average of 28% in the last decade.

That is why Pakatan Rakyat will not jump too quickly to declare that the economy has recovered, because there are still structural problems with the economy that have to be addressed urgently if we do not want to continue to fall behind.

Trumpeting a 5% growth for 2010 is disingenuous at best. What the Prime Minister does not say to the people is that even if our economy grows by 5%, Malaysia will continue to fall behind Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and even Vietnam in 2010.

The latest economic forecast by IMF published in October 2009 shows that in 2010, Malaysia is expected to perform the worst among all these countries even as the world economy shows signs of recovery. Vietnam is expected to double our growth rate while the rest will outpace Malaysia by an average of 50%.

The Barisan Nasional government must own up to the fact that our economy is the way it is because of the years of mismanagement and corruption perpetrated by the powers that be.

The future wealth of our country can only be guaranteed by a government that is accountable to the people where transparency and good governance are absolutely essential.

That is why Pakatan Rakyat will remain relentless in the pursuit to offer the people an efficiently managed economy that will sustain the livelihood of future generations.

ANWAR IBRAHIM
Parliamentary Opposition Leader

KENYATAN AKHBAR

Pejabat Ketua Pembangkang

26hb. Februari, 2010

EKONOMI MALAYSIA: RETAK MENANTI BELAH

Pengumuman terbaru oleh Perdana Menteri bahawa “senario ekonomi terburuk” negara telah berakhir kerana KDNK berkembang pada kadar 4.5% dalam suku terakhir 2009 bukan sahaja dikira terlalu awal tetapi juga tidak bertanggungjawab.

Apa yang jelas, pertumbuhan itu sebenarnya dipacu oleh perbelanjaan besar-besaran oleh kerajaan sejak setahun lepas. Suntikan pakej rangsangan, seperti yang diketahui oleh mana-mana ahli ekonomi, sebaiknya adalah langkah sementara dan tidak boleh dilakukan secara berterusan. Oleh sebab itulah, saya amat khuatir kerana kaedah pergantungan yang berterusan kepada perbelanjaan kerajaan secara besar-besaran seperti yang diamalkan Barisan Nasional, akan membawa kita ke kancah permasalahan ekonomi yang sangat serius. Saat apabila ekonomi negara yang kini retak akan terbelah dan berkecai sebenarnya sudah hampir tiba.

Sejak 1998, kerajaan Barisan Nasional hanya tahu satu dasar ekonomi sahaja, iaitu menaikkan perbelanjaan kerajaan (melalui projek-projek besar yang tidak diperlukan dan membazir kerana melibatkan kepentingan kroni) untuk menutup kegagalannya menarik pelaburan individu dan swasta yang telah jatuh merudum.

Data pelaburan individu dan swasta sejak 1991 menjadi peringatan bagaimana Barisan Nasional telah mengheret negara ke lembah kehancuran ekonomi. Kalau sebelumnya di antara tahun 1991 hingga 1997 pelaburan individu dan swasta meningkat setiap tahun pada kadar 16.2%, selepas 1998 hinggalah kini kadar ini hanya menokok 1% secara purata sejak 11 tahun lepas.

Mengambil kira kesan inflasi, maknanya di antara tahun 2005 sehingga 2008, pelaburan individu dan swasta kekal tidak berkembang pada tahap RM20.3 billion setiap tahun. Jumlah ini adalah lebih rendah dari jumlah pelaburan individu dan swasta semasa saya mula-mula menjadi Menteri Kewangan dalam tahun 1991, iaitu hampir 20 tahun lalu.

Pada ketika Barisan Nasional terus hilang punca untuk menghidupkan kembali ekonomi bagi jangka masa panjang, kadar pelaburan individu dan swasta menjunam berbanding dengan tahapnya sebelum tahun 1997. Pada ketika itu, pelaburan individu dan swasta menyumbang 40% kepada KDNK. Malangnya sejak sedekad yang lalu, sumbangan pelaburan individu dan swasta terus merosot secara puratanya kepada kadar 28% sahaja daripada KDNK.

Oleh sebab itu, Pakatan Rakyat tidak akan membuat pengisytiharan yang cuai seperti Perdana Menteri bahawa ekonomi kita sudah pulih, kerana masih terlalu banyak masalah pokok yang perlu diselesaikan dengan segera sekiranya kita tidak mahu Malaysia terus tertinggal di belakang.

Tindakan Perdana Menteri merwar-warkan anggaran pertumbuhan 5% bagi 2010 sebagai sangat baik sebenarnya kurang berhemah. Apa yang tidak diwar-warkan oleh Perdana Menteri disebalik anggaran pertumbuhan 5% itu adalah hakikat bahawa pada kadar tersebut, Malaysia ditinggalkan jauh oleh negara-negara seperti Korea Selatan, Singapura, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Filipina malahan juga Vietnam dalam tahun 2010 kelak. Malaysia pada suatu ketika adalah setanding dengan Korea Selatan dan Singapura dan jauh lebih maju dari negara-negara yang lain.

Anggaran terbaru yang dikeluarkan oleh IMF pada Oktober 2009 menunjukkan bagi tahun 2010, Malaysia dijangkakan akan tumbuh pada kadar yang paling lembap berbanding kumpulan negara-negara tadi, walaupun ekonomi dunia dijangka akan mula pulih. Vietnam dijangka akan tumbuh pada kadar 2 kali ganda lebih baik dari Malaysia dan negara-negara lain akan berkembang pada kadar yang secara puratanya 50% lebih pesat dari Malaysia.

Kerajaan Barisan Nasional perlulah bertanggungjawab dan menerima hakikat bahawa ekonomi kita tersangkut di dalam perangkap seperti yang diumumkan Menteri Kewangan Kedua suatu masa dahulu; adalah disebabkan oleh salahguna kuasa dan rasuah oleh mereka yang berkuasa sejak sekian lama.

Kemakmuran negara pada masa hadapan hanya boleh dijamin oleh sebuah kerajaan yang memikul amanah yang diberikan oleh rakyat dengan rasa tanggungjawab yang tinggi. Maka, persoalan ketelusan dan amalan pentadbiran yang baik adalah prasyarat untuk memulihkan ekonomi negara.

Oleh sebab itu, Pakatan Rakyat akan terus bekerja keras untuk menawarkan kepada rakyat pentadbiran ekonomi yang telus, tulus dan berkembang secara sihat bagi jangkamasa yang panjang demi generasi akan datang.

ANWAR IBRAHIM
Ketua Pembangkang

CSIS Seminar is “cloak and dagger” stuff, says Kit Siang


February 25, 2010

Lim Kit Siang on CSIS Seminar

The DAP’s Lim Kit Siang today called a seminar organised by a lobby group in Washington DC yesterday the “strangest cloak and dagger seminar” and advised against wasting public funds to influence public opinion in the US over issues like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy prosecution.

The “Governance and Rule of Law” seminar was organised by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and sanctioned by Malaysian Ambassador Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis.

But the seminar turned farcical after it was declared off-the-record at the last minute, while only one of three scheduled speakers — Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz — turned up.

The other two speakers — Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad — failed to make the event.

CSIS had earlier sent out invitations to the media and said the seminar would be on-the-record and open for coverage. Nazri’s speech and the subsequent question-and-answer session were also cut short. “I agree with the former United States Ambassador to Malaysia, John R Mallot, who had described the seminar as the ‘strangest’ he had attended in Washington DC.

“The last-minute conversion of the CSIS seminar into an ‘off-the-record’ session gave it a cloak-and-dagger character that what Nazri said in his speech and Q & A cannot stand public and international scrutiny. Mallot said that it was ‘unusual’ for the session to be off-the-record, which is ‘very rare for a Washington think-tank’,” said Lim.

Lim also claimed that the crowd at the seminar was dismal, saying “one account put it as about 40 people”.

“Has the Malaysian government achieved its purpose in the CSIS seminar, in convincing Washington opinion about the justice, propriety and justification for the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy II prosecution and persecution?

“From all accounts, the answer must be an unequivocal ‘No’.  The ‘strangest’ cloak-and-dagger CSIS seminar in Washington is not a coup for the new Malaysian ambassador to Washington, Jamaluddin Jarjis but a major blot on his record book,” according to the DAP stalwart.

Lim said the only way for Malaysia to escape condemnation for Sodomy II would be to drop the charges against Anwar.

Federalism ala UMNO–Federal Government as Godfather


February 25, 2010

“The Federal Government is behaving like a Godfather…”, say Tengku Razaleigh

By Neville Spykerman

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (picture) says the federal government is behaving like a “Godfather” in refusing to pay oil royalties to Kelantan, in remarks suggesting the Kelantan prince and veteran UMNO man is bent on continuing to speak out for his home state against the Najib administration.

He also pointed out in an interview with The Malaysian Insider that oil disputes had sparked the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979 and warned the federal government against denying the wishes of the public by depriving states of oil royalties.

“Ayatollah Khomeini was 91, when he led the uprising against the Shah over 30 years ago,” said the Gua Musang MP, who added the revolution was not only because the Iranian monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was a dictator but because he was misusing the country’s oil revenue.

The 72-year-old Kelantan prince, who is better known as Ku Li, was quick to dismiss any suggestions that he wanted to lead any kind of revolution in Malaysia. But he continues to persist in his attacks against the federal government, and this has clearly caused some tension with his UMNO colleagues.

Today, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin questioned Tengku Razaleigh’s loyalty to UMNO and accused the Kelantan prince of trying to confuse the public over the oil royalty dispute. He also defended the federal government’s refusal to pay oil royalties claimed by Kelantan, saying that it was in “accordance with law.”

In yesterday’s interview, Tengku Razaleigh said he was moving to establish a bi-partisan Federation Caucus in Parliament to examine ‘unhappy’ federal-state relations, including the dispute over oil royalties.

The federal government and the PAS-ruled Kelantan government are locked in a dispute over whether the state is entitled to five per cent royalty for oil extracted off its waters.

The UMNO veteran has broken ranks with his party to weigh-in on the side of the state government by insisting Kelantan was entitled to the payments according to the Petroleum Development Act .

Tengku Razaleigh said the Federation of Malaya Agreement was signed in 1948 while Malaysia was formed in 1963, and a review was overdue. “The Federal Government is behaving like a Godfather even though their power comes from the 13 states,” he said in likening Putrajaya’s heavy-handedness to that of the head of a criminal organization.

He added it was not only the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) led states that were unhappy with the Federal Government but also mentris besar of some Barisan Nasional (BN) states. Despite his campaign against the federal government, Tengku Razaleigh said that UMNO had nothing to fear because he is, and remains, a life member of the party.

“I am not a scheming fellow unlike some,” he said, adding a caucus was only a discussion group and a conduit for new ideas which is common in modern democracies. He said the caucus would not be a voting bloc to oppose the government.

Netto on the Failed CSIS Seminar


February 25, 2010

Three Blind Mice went to Washington, one Gani Patail never turned up at CSIS Seminar

By Terence Netto

Comment

“Make them the object of ridicule. Nothing succeeds like laughter where the masses are concerned,” offered M J Akbar, author of a classic book titled  Nehru: The Making of India [ISBN 8174362053],   renowned Indian journalist and communications expert while on a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur  at the invitation of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Akbar was sharing his insights with Pakatan Rakyat-aligned media practitioners. His audience had little difficulty agreeing with their erudite interlocutor that the deepest cuts in political debate are wrought by barbs leavened with humour.

Three decades ago the Conservatives in Britain, led by Margaret Thatcher, campaigned to victory in a general election against Labour by employing the pithy slogan: “Labour – it doesn’t work.” Few political contests before and since have displayed the devastating wit and concision encapsulated by that bon mot.

Akbar’s listeners hardly needed prompting that the exertions of local powers-that-be in portraying themselves as worthy of merit can sometimes border on the absurd; they were just wondering where to locate the genius who can transmute the absurd into the evocatively fabulous.

Take the decision to send de facto law minister Nazri Aziz, former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed, and Attorney General Gani Patail to Washington for a conference on the rule of law and transparent governance.

Excepting Abdul Hamid, under whose brief tenure as chief justice the courts in the country improved marginally, sending Nazri and, particularly, Gani to the Washington conference was like asking Jacob Zuma to be presenter at an international conference on AIDS prevention.

Incorrigible Zuma, who some years ago was charged with rape after having unprotected sex with a young woman who was HIV positive, has just now admitted to having unprotected sex with yet another young woman with whom he has fathered a child. (Zuma is the president of a country which has some of the highest rates of HIV infection.)

Sending anybody from the government to a Washington conference on good governance would be as futile as raising your tone when addressing the deaf. Listing the grounds for absurdity in the government’s presumption of its own merit would bore the seat off your pants.

Suffice loose cannon Nazri is the sort of fellow you only send into battle if you are minded to take on the charlatanry of Dr Mahathir Mohamed. He can swing roundhouse hooks the way a prizefighter desperate to put bread on his kids’ table can be expected to.

His vociferous branding some time ago of Dr Mahathir as “racist” and as the “father of all racists” was patently indiscriminate until Nasir Safar’s remarks about the immigration into Malaysia of Indian beggars and Chinese whores occasioned the response from the former premier that this was a “truth” you bandied about only in private. Seldom could the flailing Nazri been so spot-on.

After the fiasco of Sodomy I, you would think Gani *would have been chastened enough not to try something as feeble again. Think again. A lawyer who must surely overrate his persuasive powers, Gani’s best use would be as counsel if Sudan’s Omar Bashir were to submit to the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur.

This is not such a stretch. Bashir was once in Malaysia in the 1980s studying some course. He must have picked up some esoteric science. He would need that if he elects to go to the Hague, though if he were to commission Gani, he would have to forget the Malaysian’s performance in the case of who owned Pedra Banca, the island off Johor that Singapore out argued Malaysia at the International Court of Justice two years ago. But then Gani never knows when he is beat.

It’s like the lines from the ditty:

Three blind mice

Three blind mice

See how they run

See how they run.

And so on and so forth…

*Attorney-General Of Malaysia, Gani Patail, never turned up at CSIS Seminar as he was busy at The State Department and Department of Commerce. The former Chief Justice and now MACC Chairman who probably over slept turned up late and spoke for 10 minutesRead related story: A failed mission in Washington DC

A Failed Mission in Washington DC


February 25, 2010

On CSIS Seminar: A Failed Mission

by Raja Petra Kamaruddin in Washington DC (February 24, 2010)

http://www.malaysia-today.net

It was a strange scene at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on Wednesday morning.  When the seminar on Governance & Rule of Law in Malaysia began, only one of the speakers came into the room, Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Attorney-General Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed were somehow nowhere to be seen. And in good Malaysian fashion, the seminar started 10 minutes late.

The seminar’s chairman, Ernest Bower, looked tired and nervous, saying that he had received a number of e-mails expressing concern that the seminar would not be balanced. He said that he wants a dialogue on important issues. Therefore he also has invited the opposition to speak at CSIS. He hopes they will accept.

Ernest Bower then shocked the audience of about 40 people by saying that the session was ‘off the record’. The flyer announcing the seminar never said it was an off the record session. It doesn’t matter though. The session was so boring there is very little to report anyway.

Malaysian Ambassador to the US, Jamaluddin Jarjis a.k.a. JJ, spoke for two minutes. He just said that he is working very hard to improve relations with the US (whenever he happens to be in town, that is). He made no mention, though, whether the new US$150,000 Porsche he just bought is paid for by the Malaysian taxpayers or by him personally.

Nazri said that it was just a coincidence that he, Gani and Abdul Hamid happen to be in Washington at the same time. (Sure. If you believe that then I have half a bridge to Singapore to sell you.) He said he didn’t know where the two missing persons were.

He then introduced the “four members of my delegation,” all MPs. (Talk about wasting the taxpayers’ money!) Two of them were PKR turncoats, including the infamous Zahrin Mohamed Hashim.

In a tribute to Malaysia Today, Nazri held up an Internet printout and referred to Martin Jalleh’s article, Malaysian Circus Goes to Washington. He claimed that he had been planning the trip to Washington for nine months because he and the Prime Minister believe it is important to strengthen ties with the US.

Nazri then started his formal speech and spoke for 30 minutes. It was a very academic and therefore a very boring speech. There was no real substance to it and the audience quickly grew bored. Even JJ got so bored as he sat next to Nazri on the podium.

But what shocked the audience was to watch JJ’s antics at such an “important meeting” at such a “prestigious think tank.

The whole while Nazri was speaking, JJ was sending and receiving messages on his Blackberry and mobile phone. He never turned off the ringer. When he tapped out a message, one could hear the “click, click, click” of the keys. He even called his aide up to the podium twice to have conversations. He also got up and left the room and then came back.

And here is a first for Washington. Then, as Nazri was still speaking, JJ picked up the Washington Post and started to read it — not once, but twice.

Nazri went on and on, quoting Malaysia’s many laws banning corruption. But of course he never said that they apply only to the opposition and not to UMNO politicians or taxi permit holders (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Finally, he stopped speaking and said he would welcome tough questions. He got one right from the start from Kumar, the head of Amnesty International’s Washington DC office. Kumar said Nazri and JJ had both just said that they want to improve relations with the United States. But that will never happen as long as people in Washington have concerns about Malaysia’s harassment of the opposition and Anwar’s trial.

Referring to the Malaysia Today article, Kumar said if there’s a Malaysian circus, it’s Anwar’s trial. Nazri replied, “Anwar is a friend of mine.” (With friends like Nazri, who needs enemies?). Nazri said he underwent his legal training in the United Kingdom and claimed that if he ever sensed that the Prime Minister was interfering in the case and there is political interference in Malaysia’s independent judiciary, he would tender his resignation.

He added, “When we heard about Saiful’s charges against Anwar, I thought it was unfortunate. For the sake of the country, we don’t want the nation to endure a trial like this again. But Saiful is entitled to justice. Why talk about rule of law if you ignore his report? He had a right to report to the police. In any event, Anwar’s acquittal before shows that our judiciary is independent, and we did not appeal that decision. That shows we are interested only in justice, not political persecution.”

Nazri went on. “We do not have an agenda against Anwar. Why would we want to use the same old charge of sodomy, again? If you don’t believe me, there is nothing I can do.”

JJ clapped.

JJ was the only one who clapped.

Murray Hiebert then stood up to introduce himself as the former Asian Wall Street Journal correspondent in Malaysia (but politely declined to mention his experience with ‘good governance’ and ‘the rule of law’ in Malaysia when he was the guest of a Malaysian prison).

Murray asked about the Allah issue. Nazri turned to the Malaysiakini reporter in the room and told him, “Don’t you dare report what I am going to say.”

Nazri looked alive and gave a 20-minute history and language lesson, repeating the usual government line. As Nazri finished his long-winded answer, JJ leaned over to whisper to Ernest Bower, who suddenly jumped up and brought the seminar to a halt. It was still only 11:30am and the seminar was supposed to go until noon.

JJ probably thought an early halt would be wise before they put their foot deeper into the mouth. Or maybe he was really getting bored and just couldn’t take it anymore. Or maybe he was hungry. So JJ led Nazri out of the room and the audience followed.

So much for the so-called ‘dialogue’.

The Malaysian Divide


February 25, 2010

The Malaysia Divide

An Institution Overhaul is long overdue in Kuala Lumpur

by Alice Lloyd George*, Asian Wall Street Journal (February 24, 2010)

“The Leopard,” Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s celebrated novel about the crumbling feudal order in 19th century Sicily, made famous the line, “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” That pretty much sums up the predicament of Malaysia’s ruling elite today.

The sodomy trial of Anwar Ibrahim drags on in Kuala Lumpur, with the opposition leader’s freedom and political career hanging in the balance. But the true significance of this anachronistic case does not depend on the outcome in the courtroom. The political assassination of Mr. Anwar aside, Malaysia is witnessing the death throes of a political machine that has run the country for over five decades. Mr. Anwar is a skilled politician who holds together an unlikely alliance of opposition parties—his conviction would certainly be a blow for the prospect of real political pluralism in Malaysia. But he also serves as a vessel for wider social forces and a disenchantment with the country’s leadership. Another figure would surely take his place at the head of the reform movement.

The ruling coalition was founded on the principle that the three main races—Malays, Chinese and Indians—participate in politics through their own parties. Coupled with an elaborate system of affirmative action, this has allowed the United Malays National Organization to maintain a lock on power by protecting Malays from the winds of competition. After the opposition made unprecedented gains in the March 2008 elections, desperate tactics were called for, hence a rather tired repeat of the homosexuality charge first brought against Mr. Anwar a decade ago, now dubbed “Sodomy II” by a skeptical public. The government has denied that the trial is politically motivated.

That the political system and patronage network are under increasing stress is clear, but the prognosis is not yet apparent to all. Some in UMNO, like Prime Minister Najib Razak, think they can maintain the old system by merely tinkering around the edges. Mr. Najib has gestured toward loosening long-standing affirmative-action policies, but any good intentions are obstructed by entrenched interests in UMNO’s conservative wing—to date the repeals have been cosmetic at best. Others are coming to a different realization—Malaysian society has matured and even Malays now recognize that outdated and discriminatory policies must give way to a more transparent and accountable system.

One such leader is Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a former finance minister of royal blood. Mr. Razaleigh has re-emerged as an outspoken critic of the government in recent weeks, though he strongly denies any intention of switching to the opposition. The 73-year-old party veteran has a history of challenging the leadership; in 1988 he left UMNO and formed a rival Malay party before returning to the fold in 1996.

Sitting in his Kuala Lumpur home—a remarkably exact replica of the White House’s Oval Office—Mr. Razaleigh argues that UMNO politicians have not been responsive to calls for reform. “The young want to see a really multiracial organization, fighting on egalitarian issues, without having to fall back on race,” he explains. “Unless the party system and the political system are reformed exhaustively, I think we are going to be pulled back into the same boat we have been in for the last 50 years.”

Mr. Razaleigh believes that Malaysians want to move beyond identity politics, but UMNO is unable to break away from its Malay nationalist roots. Most recently, the government appealed a court ruling that allowed the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims. Though UMNO called for calm, the prime minister’s statement that he couldn’t stop protestors from expressing their opinions only served to fan the flames. The ruling was followed by a spate of desecration and arson attacks on churches and mosques. Mr. Najib further undermined the government’s response to the crisis when he flew across the world for a 10-day tour of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and India, taking key cabinet ministers and senior officials with him.

By contrast, in a milestone decision, the opposition Islamic party PAS—which only 10 years ago campaigned to create a theocratic state with Sharia law—took a more moderate stance, urging Malaysians to respect the court ruling. The irony is that while UMNO continues to play race politics to out-Islam its opponents, PAS is appealing to a more progressive voter base.

Part of the reason for the electorate’s change of heart is the realization that Malaysia risks being left behind economically if it doesn’t climb out of its middle-income trap and eliminate the inefficiencies inherent in racial policies. These policies were formulated in the 1970s, when Malaysia was a tiger economy. Now its growth lags behind Southeast Asian neighbors like Indonesia—the new “i” in BRIC—and China and India increasingly pose competitive challenges.

The country has suffered from an acute brain drain over the last decade, as individuals seek education and employment in countries where talent is better rewarded. Now it faces capital flight, too, with foreign direct investment dropping to $2.7 billion in 2009 from $8.1 billion the previous year, according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates. One reason is the fear that UMNO will continue to play the race card and stir up tensions to keep itself in power. Another is the government’s failure to undertake much-needed institutional reforms and address issues such as corruption, civil liberties and judicial independence. Malaysia’s risk index, as calculated by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, rose to 5.4 in January from 5.24 in December on a 10-point scale.

If there is a silver lining here, it is that even as UMNO has stoked tensions, by and large Malaysians have refused to be provoked—a stark contrast to the May 13 Incident in 1969, when rumors of ethnic slights quickly snowballed into massive riots and emergency rule. And that is one more indication that leaders like Mr. Anwar and Mr. Razaleigh are right that Malaysian society is ripe for change. If the current UMNO elite is to stand any chance of remaining in power, it needs to focus on remedying the very real challenges on its doorstep, rather than felling the opposition. Societal reform based on equality of opportunity is a change that is long overdue.

*Ms. Alice Lloyd George is a Princeton in Asia fellow at The Wall Street Journal Asia.

A Circus Clown with a penchant for changing mode


February 24, 2010

Malaysia’s Circus Clown gives new meaning to sycophantic groveling

by Sakmongkol AK47 (February 23, 2010)

Remember Him?

The decision by the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture to take out advertisements in various MSM papers was highly unprecedented. They, of course, exposed the balding stupidity of the minister who has a penchant for burning bridges and changing mode and at once give new meaning to the term sycophantic groveling.

I mean, it’s a sad spectacle to see an out-of-age group person having to bend backwards and is always seeking to find ways in making the boss thinks he is relevant. Many many years ago, when he was a leading member of Parti Semangat 46 and was hanging by the financial coattails of Tengku Razaleigh, he went on TV to accuse Rahmah Othman a former minister, as having prostituted herself. Well today, the same description comes back to haunt not Rahmah Othman, but the minister himself. He doesn’t know it yet, but he is being called Doctor Pimp.

This is precisely the behavior by UMNO leadership that causes it to be estranged further from the Malay base. It was the reason why in 2008, more Malays did not vote for UMNO candidates. The people are just fed up of leadership by arrogance that has permeated every sinew and bone of UMNO politics.

The advertisements carried out exposed more than what they intended- revealing that all this time, UMNO as leader of the government of the day, manages this country’s assets and resources on the basis of political expediencies. It governs not on the basis of what is right, but on the plusses and minusses of political opportunism.

As a result, it places whole people at ransom and at the mercy of the government who continues ruling with the old school ideology, which holds that the future and welfare of a whole group of people depend on its benevolence. This is precisely the ideology that stunts the mental development of Malays rather than uplifts them.

People are just fed up with the self-proclaimed manifest destiny of people like Rais Yatim who behaved as though Malaysians, Malays and non Malays alike, owe him and this government their living. Further in doing so, people are expected to tolerate and accommodate stupidities, bullying and so forth as necessary evils. He and his like minded friends are greatly mistaken.

Rais Yatim and the relics in UMNO belonged to the group of leadership that fights on values that are no longer relevant today. These values include raw an unqualified Malay interests, of things couched in language more suitable to take on colonialism which is nonexistent today.

Today’s values that motivate the people of Malaysia have everything to do with- doing what is right, with good governance, with stemming corruption and crushing inefficiencies and kicking out bully tactics of any government. A government failing to recognize new values and priorities demanded by people is going to lose relevance.

The contradictions unintentionally exposed by such old tech instruments of communications are amply written elsewhere. I shall not repeat them here. The advertisements display nothing but crude bully tactics that has become hallmarks of people like Rais Yatim.

UMNO Circus performs today in Washington DC


February 24, 2010

http://www.malaysia-today.net

UMNO Circus performs today in Washington DC courtesy  Ernest Bower and Karen Brooks

by Martin Jalleh

For a little more than a month in 2010, UMNO has gone full steam with its scare tactics, sabre-rattling tricks, silly threats and sinister theatrics. Now it is all set to take the Malaysian (political) circus to the United States and to show Uncle Sam a far “superior” sample of democracy and governance.

The trip is by courtesy of Apco Worldwide, a global PR firm, employed by the government to resuscitate, redeem, and re-engineer the PM’s flagging image at the cost of about RM20 million. The firm has allegedly offered similar services to dictators and corrupt leaders worldwide. They must feel very at home here in dealing with the “most corrupt institution in the country”.

But why is UMNO off to the US with its best circus clowns to impress the US when they just told those low-down politicians in Down Under that to UMNO it is a no-no to interfere in the affairs of Bolehland? Why waste the people’s money and be bothered about what the US thinks of us? Alas, the answer to such a mystery belongs only to those who can go the lowest.

The circus will be hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The man behind it is (Ernie) Bower in partnership with a (Karen) Brooks. Both have boasted about their close bond with ASEAN leaders. However, they insist they are not beholden to Southeast Asian governments nor would they act as a lobby group or agents for them in Washington.

Surely Bower and Brooks can come up with better bull than this. Why would they want to bargain their reputation away by sharing the stage with political buffoons and bozos sent to an image-boosting circus? But the circus must go on. Apco must make the Najib administration look appetising enough for the whole audience to want to swallow up what they throw at them!

The event will be held on February 24, 2010 and it will be at K Street in Washington DC. This is where the big lobbying firms have their headquarters and is sometimes referred to as the “fourth branch of government”. But, of course, what is important to UMNO is the fact that K Street is also called “The Road to Riches”. Now you get the drift?

The three top officials to speak at the seminar entitled “Governance and Rule of Law in Malaysia and Malaysian Legislative Initiatives” i.e., how the circus is run in Bolehland, are Minister in the PM’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz, former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad and Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail — a powerful and perfect NAG (Nazri, Abdul Hamid & Gani) team!

They will of course have the privilege and honour of being accompanied and introduced by special envoy, senior diplomat, seasoned politician and Malaysia’s ambassador to the United States, Jamaludin Jarjis, a man who has soared to such high office as a result of his wide reputation of being very adept at grappling, groping and getting to the bottom of things.

Nazri’s Nonsense

Nazri, the Minister in the PM’s Department, overseer of parliamentary affairs and de facto Law Minister, will surely serve up a sterling performance. He has successfully and quite single-handedly reduced Parliament, the country’s supreme law-making institution, to an annual circus, a rubber stamp and a stage for the spineless, silly, sexist and not-so-stable.

Nazri should tell the Americans how free he is to go berserk when his brains short-circuit in parliament, like when he: shouted “racist/bloody racist” at MP Kula Segaran 41 times in a space of five to 10 minutes; snapped at a wheelchair-bound Karpal Singh: “You are just jealous because I am standing!”; and screamed at Lim Kit Siang “Stupid, stupid, stupid…!” until the press gave up counting.

Perhaps Nazri could use the above as veritable examples of how supposedly vibrant and vigorous parliamentary democracy is in Bolehland. He could of course throw in the example of a wheelchair-bound Karpal Singh being surrounded by a hostile group of UMNO Youth thugs (as the police and security personnel stood idly by) at the Parliament lobby!

The US has much to learn from a loudmouth and loose cannon like Nazri. He has taken Bolehland to greater heights in hype, hypocrisy, half-truths, hysterics and histrionics in Parliament in spite of the declaration of the current Speaker that “Parliament is no longer like a first-world Parliament anymore”.

Good boy, Gani

As Attorney General (AG) Gani Patail will have to paint a glossy picture of how Bolehland is guided and governed by the rule of law though almost everyone knows that it is the AG who is guided by those who rule, to decide how, when, what and which part of the law is upheld! Gani will be too shy to say, it is actually “Rule by law” and at times it’s more of the mob which rules!

Gani is a product of “good governance”. He has been a good boy of those who govern. They take good care of him in spite of allegations against him such as “blackmailing and extortion of the highest culpability” in Sodomy I, interference of justice in not prosecuting then Minister for International Trade and Industry Rafidah Aziz for corruption, and tampering with evidence and interfering with the investigations on the savage assault on Anwar Ibrahim.

If and when the audience grills Gani on Sodomy II will he give them a go-around? Or will he parrot the government’s pathetic reply to the international community that sodomy is an offence here? It is very offensive indeed to people’s intelligence when you speak of sodomy (under the penal code) without any penile penetration (verified by doctors)! Will Gani be providing a more penetrating view there?

Surely K Street would love to see the kangaroo courts, which have become an increasingly special feature of the Malaysian judicial circus. Nazri and Gani should show how the judiciary, the very portal of justice, continues to be reduced to a convenient playground for the ruling elite to legitimise their power grab, persecute their opponents and promote their political agenda, through the perversion of the rule of law by certain court jesters.

Nazri and Gani should speak proudly on the cattle-trading culture (politically brokered judicial appointments) in the judiciary, which still lingers on after both of them decided to treat the findings of the Royal Commission on the V.K. Lingam video clip case very lightly. Nazri made a laughing stock of himself as he lectured Parliament on “What may be morally wrong could be legally or politically ‘correct, correct, correct’”.

The Americans must know that ‘good governance’ reigns in our good country. A good number of politicians, especially the Umnoputras, have made good money in good time in doing what is “good for the people”. In their good fortune they built for themselves palatial mansions, own a fleet of posh cars and huge properties abroad, and take their families on pleasure and all-paid-for holidays and place their children in premier schools overseas.

Abdul Hamid’s Acrobatics

Poor Abdul Hamid, who was well-respected though he was an accidental Chief Justice, may have to do a few head-stands and somersaults to convince the audience that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which he chairs is doing a good job of curbing corruption and playing a crucial role in good governance. Since its formation, corruption worsened drastically!

Only two per cent of the respondents in a Star Online live chat rated the MACC’s performance in fighting corruption as “good”. The rest frowned upon the MACC as a “monumental failure” and a farce in its task of tackling corruption. It has become a favourite tool of the Umno government to repress the opposition and its fatal flaw is that it is not politically neutral.

Since its much-hyped up launch on  January 1, 2009, the then MACC’s chief commissioner (CC), Ahmad Said Hamdan, “has managed to put his mouth into overdrive while shifting his brains into reverse” (Tunku Aziz). He chose to retire early and will remain haunted by how he had handled the “small case” of the death of Teoh Beng Hock. As for the new CC of the MACC? Well, the public prefers to wait and see.

The Malaysian Circus in K Street must of course end with a few key words on how the PM’s slogan of 1Malaysia is a resounding success. For never before has the Government, Parliament, Judiciary and institutions like the Police, Election Commission, and civil service been made to “bond” and “blend” together as One in order to bury the Opposition for good! How’s that for good governance!

Surely Nazri will proudly tell the Americans that he was right on when he declared a few years ago: “…the concept of separation of powers between the legislative, judiciary and executive is ‘too idealistic’ to be implemented in the country.’’

The nagging question still remains as to why should the NAG team waste the taxpayers’ money and go all the way to put up a circus when the Americans (who created Avatar, remember?) can easily make out the difference between image, illusion and reality?

Furthermore, their audience would have probably read the report by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC), which warned that Malaysia was “veering towards instability”. Then there are also the annual human rights reports on Third World countries by US-based NGOs and the US Government itself!

Alas, the threesome should have stayed back, saved the rakyat’s money and do something more fruitful or even spiritual, like join in the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday procession organised by the Penang State Government?

jallehmartin@yahoo.com

Malaysia’s Outdated Thuggery


February 23, 2010

http://www.smh.com.au/

Outdated Political Thuggery embarrasses Malaysia

by Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald

Dumb autocrats use the army, goon squads and guns to repress the opposition. Smart autocrats use the law courts to do it. Indonesia’s Soeharto was a dumb autocrat. Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia’s Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad were smart autocrats.

The Lee-Mahathir model keeps the outward facade of a functioning democracy, with elections, a parliament and supposedly independent courts. Behind it, the systems are gutted to guarantee the ruling party remains ruling.

In Singapore, where Lee’s People’s Action Party has been in power for 50 continuous years, the government simply sues opposition politicians for defamation. A tame court hands down ruinous damages, opponents end up in bankruptcy, jail or exile.

When a meddlesome foreigner, the deputy director for Asia of Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, said last month that “Singapore is the textbook example of a politically repressive state”, the government just shrugged and said: “Singapore is a democratic state with a clean and transparent government.”

The army is in its barracks and there are no goon squads smashing through people’s front doors at 3am. It’s all legit(imate), see? The foreign investors and governments play along. So what if the ruling party holds 98 per cent of the seats in parliament? It has an elected parliament, and surely that’s good enough.

Lee quit the prime ministership in 1990 and now holds a personalised cabinet post of Minister Mentor. But his system lives on. His handpicked successors as prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, and now Lee’s son, Lee Hsien Loong, have been every bit as smart as the old man himself in preserving the appearance of legitimacy.

In Malaysia, Mahathir was never as subtle or as smooth as Lee. But Mahathir was still a smart autocrat who kept control through his puppetry of the judicial system. The pivotal moment was in 1988 when Mahathir complained that the courts were “too independent”.

He purged the chief judicial officer, the Lord President Tun Salleh Abas, and suspended the five chief justices of the Supreme Court. The court system has never given any further trouble to the Barisan Nasional (BN), or National Front, since. Together with its predecessor, the BN has ruled Malaysia continuously for 54 years.

It’s infinitely smarter to use legal instruments to purge judges than to use guns against protesters. A judicial massacre makes lousy TV. You won’t see one live on CNN. So it remains hidden from international view. Yet it can be every bit as repressive. So when Mahathir faced a power struggle in 1998 with his deputy prime minister and heir apparent, the charismatic Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, he naturally turned to the courts to purge his younger rival.

In a blatantly political fix-up, he had Anwar arrested and charged with sodomy, a shocking crime in a predominantly conservative Muslim country. Even today it carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ jail. The police Special Branch concocted evidence and coerced witnesses. Anwar emerged from his police cell to appear in court with a bruised face, inflicted, it was later learnt, when the chief of police beat him.

The verdict was never in question. The courts convicted Anwar of sodomising his aide and speechwriter, Munawar Anees. The former deputy PM spent six years in jail. Munawar, now living in the US, has since said he was coerced into giving evidence against Anwar. “My detention by the Malaysian Special Branch taught me how it feels to be forcibly separated from one’s wife and children,” Munawar wrote in the Wall Street Journal last month.

“How it feels to be searched and seized, disallowed to make phone calls, handcuffed, blindfolded, stripped naked, endlessly interrogated, humiliated, drugged, deprived of sleep, physically abused. What it’s like to be threatened, blackmailed, hectored by police lawyers, brutalised to make a totally false confession.”

With Malaysia under tremendous international pressure from Anwar’s admirers, including America’s Al Gore and Britain’s Gordon Brown, and with Mahathir retiring from the prime ministership in 2003, a review court overturned the sodomy sentence. Anwar was released in 2004.

He was allowed to return to politics in 2008 to lead the opposition to the BN. He committed the crime of doing so with some success. In March 2008, under challenge from Anwar, the BN won a national election, but was shocked to lose its prized majority of two-third of the seats in parliament.

The new BN Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, reacted exactly as Mahathir had to a challenge from Anwar. Four months after the ruling party’s election setback, Anwar was once again charged with sodomy. Once again, it’s a blatant political case. The newspaper The Star called the case “Sodomy II”.

Why is Anwar such a threat? “At the moment,” says Carl Thayer, an expert at the University of NSW, “there is no other leader who can hold together the opposition coalition of an Islamic party with a Chinese party, who is capable of being prime minister, and who has experience and international recognition that Anwar has.”

The case is a joke. It exposes the Najib government as desperate and underhanded. It makes Malaysia a subject of international ridicule. While under Mahathir this form of legal manipulation might have been smart autocracy, in today’s world it just looks like Malaysia is playing around with its national future.

Perbezaan 8 sen – Lim Guan Eng


February 23, 2010

oleh Lim Guan Eng*

Bagi kebanyakan rakyat biasa, sistem tender terbuka seolah-olah tidak ada kaitan dengan kehidupan seharian mereka. Tetapi ia telah menimbulkan kemarahan UMNO dan penyokong-penyokong parti itu.

Mereka marah apabila saya membuat pengumuman bahawa Kerajaan Negeri Pulau Pinang akan melaksanakan sistem tender terbuka bagi semua pemerolehan dan kontrak kerajaan selepas saya mengangkat sumpah jawatan sebagai Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang pada tahun 2008. Mereka menuduh saya cuba menidakkan hak-hak orang Melayu, mendakwa ia satu dasar pro-Cina untuk meminggirkan orang Melayu di Pulau Pinang.

Walaubagaimanapun, menyedari pentingnya satu dasar yang adil dan telus, sistem tender terbuka terus dilaksanakan. Sepanjang tempoh pelaksanaannya hampir dua tahun ini, bilangan syarikat yang berjaya mendapatkan tender dengan harga tawaran terendah agak banyak juga dan persaingannya begitu sengit sekali, malah melangkaui batas imaginasi saya.

Tujuan pelaksanaan sistem tender terbuka ialah untuk mengamalkan meritokrasi supaya kerajaan dapat menguruskan kewangan secara berhemah dan menghentikan budaya kronisme. Persaingan secara terbuka membolehkan kerajaan membuat lebih banyak pilihan yang mana pada akhirnya rakyat juga yang mendapat keuntungan. Amalan ini sememangnya tidak menyenangkan kroni-kroni pihak tertentu.

Persaingan hebat tender terbuka Program Perlindungan Insurans Komprehensif untuk Bangunan dan Harta Tetap Perbadanan Pembangunan Pulau Pinang (PDC) baru-baru ini sememangnya menakjubkan saya dan ahli-ahli Lembaga PDC.

Terbukti persaingan sihat dalam pasaran akan dapat membantu meningkatkan daya saing sektor swasta.

PDC mengadakan Program Perlindungan Insurans Komprehensif untuk Bangunan dan Harta Tetap PDC setiap tahun. Sebelum ini, Program Perlindungan Insurans Komprehensif PDC tersebut adalah dikendalikan oleh satu Konsortium di bawah Syarikat Takaful Berhad dengan jumlah premium RM821,550.88.

Memandangkan tempoh perlindungan insurans komprehensif yang sedia ada akan tamat pada 31 Januari 2010, tawaran telah dibuka kepada syarikat-syarikat insurans dan broker insurans yang mempunyai Lesen Bank Negara dan berdaftar dengan Kementerian Kewangan untuk mengemukakan tawaran.

Sebanyak 5 syarikat insurans dan broker insurans telah membeli dokumen tender melalui sistem e-perolehan. Pada tarikh tutup tawaran iaitu pada 11 Disember 2009, tiga syarikat telah mengemukakan tawaran dengan jumlah premium masing-masing, iaitu Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad sebanyak RM777,351.40, Sterling Insurance Brokers Sdn Bhd RM777,351.48 dan Sime Darby Lockton Insurance Brokers Sdn Bhd RM816,738.96.

Tawaran yang tertinggi pun 20% lebih rendah daripada peruntukan RM1,020,000.00 yang telah disediakan oleh PDC untuk tujuan tersebut.

Apa yang lebih menakjubkan ialah perbezaan tawaran terendah dan tawaran kedua terendah hanya sebanyak 8 sen sahaja.

Selepas pertimbangan, ahli-ahli Lembaga Tawaran memutuskan Program Perlindungan Insurans Komprehensif untuk Bangunan dan Harta PDC ditawarkan kepada Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad yang mengemukakan tawaran terendah. Dengan kata lain, Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Berhad telah mengalahkan pesaingnya dengan perbezaan tawaran 8 sen sahaja.

Ini amat memberangsangkan kerana ia telah mencatat sejarah sistem tender terbuka. Lebih-lebih lagi syarikat yang mendapat tawaran itu merupakan sebuah syarikat yang dimiliki seratus peratus (100%) oleh orang Melayu.

Siapa kata orang Melayu akan hilang daya saing kerana sistem tender tebuka?

Asyik manjakan orang Melayu, memberi “tongkat” dan meletakkan mereka di bawah payung naungan tidak akan dapat membantu dalam meningkatkan daya saing orang Melayu. Sebaliknya, membuka pasaran, menggalakkan persaingan yang adil akan membolehkan lebih banyak syarikat Melayu berpeluang untuk menonjolkan kebolehan mereka dan membuktikan kejayaan mereka dengan mengalahkan pesaing-pesaing yang lain.

Persaingan inilah akhirnya akan menghasilkan orang Melayu yang lebih kental, lebih berdikari dan lebih berkeyakinan diri. Inilah legasi yang terunggul untuk orang Melayu.

Negara China pernah digelar “Orang Sakit Asia” (The Sick Man of Asia) kerana kelemahan ekonomi sistem komunis. Tetapi kini ia telah menjadi kuasa ekonomi kedua terbesar di dunia. Dasar pasaran terbukalah yang menyumbang kepada kejayaan negera China.

Faktor penting untuk meningkatkan daya saing rakyat sesebuah negara sebenarnya terletak pada satu sistem yang tidak mengira warna kulit, bukannya payung naungan kerajaan.

Sekiranya negara China boleh berjaya, saya yakin Pulau Pinang dan Malaysia juga akan berjaya. Saya optimistik setelah melihat keputusan tender terbuka PDC tersebut.

Nilai 8 sen sahaja sudah mampu menentukan kejayaan atau kegagalan sesuatu tender. Ini menjelaskan betapa kuatnya kuasa pasaran.

Namun tidak perlu mana-mana pihak risau kerana pihak kerajaan akan tetap memantau untuk memastikan pihak swasta tidak mengabaikan tugas dan tanggungjawab mereka untuk rakyat.

* Lim Guan Eng adalah Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sistem tender terbuka yang diamalkan kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang mampu melahirkan kontraktor Melayu yang benar-benar menguasai kemahiran dan tahu membuat kerja. Bukan untung 10% atas angin seperti yang diperhatikan berlaku dalam tender tertutup bilamana kerja itu dialibabakan saja biasanya kepada subkontraktor Cina. Harga yang ditawarkan adalah harga yang sewajarnya, tentu dengan keuntungan, bukan harga yang diinflatekan untuk sumbangan sebahagiannya kepada tauke-tauke politik mereka. Akhirnya duit rakyat yang dapat dijimatkan disamping mendapat khidmat yang terbaik pula. Teruskan YAB!

Syabas kepada pucuk kepimpinan kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang dan YAB Lim Guan Eng sebagai Ketua Menterinya. BERANI KERANA BENAR!

Even if I fail and have to go to jail, I have no regrets. I have no regrets of going down fighting for the principles of truth and justice. And pursuit of human rights, especially women’s rights. There can be no women’s rights if women rape victims are considered equally responsible, and even detained, whilst the accused remain free. — Lim Guan Eng

There are injustices in the law which are mind-boggling … The lesson is clear – choose your rapist carefully … As a woman, especially a Muslim woman, I am angry, disgusted and ashamed … As a mother, I now have real fears for my daughter. What protection can we hope for our daughters if, in the interests of politics, a minor can so easily be sacrificed? — Marina Mahathir.

Oil Payments to Kelantan and Terengganu, Not Wang Ehsan


February 22, 2010

razaleigh.com

Oil Payments to Kelantan and Terengganu: Do the right thing, urges Tengku Razaleigh

I see the Ministry of Information has taken out full page advertisements in the major Malay newspapers to argue that Kelantan has no right to oil payments under the Petroleum Development Act because the oil resources in question lie outside the 3 nautical mile limit that delimits state versus federal jurisdictions. The advertisement fails to point out that almost all the oil found in Malaysia is located more than 3 nautical miles offshore, and PETRONAS has nevertheless been making oil payments to the states.

By the argument deployed in the advertisement, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak too are not entitled to the “cash payments” of 5% of profit oil (commonly and a little inaccurately referred to as “oil royalties”). Everything is at the arbitrary behest of the Federal Government.

Yet last year, according to its annual report, PETRONAS paid out RM6.2 Billion in petroleum cash payments, with RM 3Billion to Terengganu, RM 2.3Billion to Sarawak and RM0.9Billion to Sabah. One wonders what basis this payment was made on since none of this was for petroleum found within 3 nautical miles offshore of these states.  The argument for depriving Kelantan of 5% cash payments on the basis of its petroleum resources being found beyond 3 nautical miles is an insult to the intelligence.

I have spoken and written at length on this issue and had been reluctant to say more on it. Moreover, as a member of the ruling party I am embarrassed to have to belabour elementary points against the government. This information campaign, whether through a leaflet campaign in the schools or through newspaper advertisements paid for with taxpayer money, implies either culpable stupidity or gross deceitfulness on the part of agents of the Federal Government. I had hoped to avoid that implication.

The government’s advertisement also exhumes a ten year old mis-quotation in a government newspaper to allege that I once denied that Terengganu had any right to the 5% cash payment. I said no such thing. If the government media is to be believed I also once converted to Christianity by wearing Kadazan headgear  just in time to be exposed amidst a General Election campaign. Why does the government rely on a ten year old misquotation? Well, these days we have our own blogs.

In fact, as a BN backbencher at the time I opposed the Federal Government’s intervention to prevent PETRONAS  from making oil payments to Terengganu and the move to channel those funds instead into “wang ihsan”. Tun Salleh Abbas and I offered ourselves as witnesses to the Terengganu state government in the suit it filed against the Federal government to recover those oil payments.

Between the 2000 and 2009, RM15.8 Billion was paid out through the legal black hole of wang ihsan, not to the rightful party as specified under the Petroleum Development Act, which is the state government’s consolidated fund, but to agencies more amenable to vested interests linked to the central government. The outcome of that spending is the Monsoon Cup, a Crystal Mosque in which it is impossible to pray, a leaking swimming pool, a collapsed bridge and a collapsed stadium. The people of Terengganu remain poor while billions have been paid out in their name.

I am said to have changed my mind or somehow ignorant of the fact that Kelantan’s petroleum resources all lie offshore when the fact is that, on the instruction of the late Tun Razak, I drafted the Petroleum Development Act precisely because we wanted to ensure that Kelantan, Terengganu, and potentially Pahang and Johor would benefit from the 5% cash payments.

We did precisely because we knew that these states did not have oil onshore or within their territorial waters. The device we used was a Vesting Deed by which the states vested, in perpetuity, all their petroleum resources to PETRONAS, onshore or offshore. In return for this PETRONAS guaranteed the cash payment of 5% from oil found anywhere, offshore or onshore, of the state.

This rendered any consideration of federal/state boundaries whether at 3 or 12 nautical miles or whatever irrelevant for the purpose of reckoning the payment. I traversed the country to sign this agreement with each Chief Minister of each state government. Tun Razak was driven by the nation-building concern that these poorer east coast areas, which are also predominantly Malay areas should benefit directly from offshore oil, and I drafted the Petroleum Development Act to reflect that concern.

It is this benefit to the people which UMNO Kelantan opposes 34 years after the death of Tun Razak. It is also Razak’s legacy that they make a mockery of. It is a mark of how far UMNO has strayed off course that the leadership of UMNO, and in particular UMNO Kelantan is doing its utmost to deprive the people of Kelantan of sovereign rights secured by an UMNO-led government of another day. No one in their right mind could mistake this as behaviour that is beneficial to UMNO’s long term standing in Kelantan, let alone elsewhere as people observe this behaviour.

I am accused of putting state interest before party interest. However the issue goes far beyond Kelantan. The arguments used in yesterday’s newspaper advertisement undercut the rights of all the states in respect of a natural resource which is theirs as a sovereign right. It violates a contract between PETRONAS and the states, denies the Petroleum Development Act, denies the raison d’etre of PETRONAS (which was in the first place formed to ensure the integrtiy of the federation by way of an equitable sharing of this valuable resource) and sets the Federal Government in contravention of an Act of Parliament.

One immediate implication of the argument laid out in yesterday’s official clarification from the Ministry of Information is that Terengganu is also ineligible for the oil payments. This means that after cutting off oil payments when Terengganu fell into Opposition hands and replacing it with “compassionate payment” there is absolutely no basis for the government’s promise to return Terengganu to cash payments again. All of Terengganu’s oil is found very far offshore. In this matter whatever holds for Kelantan holds for Terengganu and vice versa.

In the end this is not a question of politics or personality. It is not about what I or anyone else says, nor of  where UMNO or PAS stand. It is about the government complying with written agreements governed by an Act of Parliament and respecting parliamentary democracy. The rights of the people are not to be fulfilled or withheld depending on who they have voted for.

In treating Terengganu and Kelantan in this manner we are depriving them of money that is rightfully theirs, undermining sovereign state rights, and eroding parliamentary democracy. We should do the right thing by the people at whose pleasure we serve.