Utusan Malaysia to Malaysiakini: Apologise


September 30, 2012

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Utusan Malaysia to Malaysiakini: Apologise

Utusan Malaysia has called on Malaysiakini to “apologise” to all Malaysians over allegation that the news portal is financed by currency speculator George Soros. In Mingguan Malaysia – the weekend edition of Utusan Malaysia – today, Awang Selamat, a pseudonym for the paper’s editors, also asked if Malaysiakini intends to cease being “a tool of foreigners”.

“With all the proof, do not claim to be an independent news portal. It is akin to shooting yourself in the foot. There is  still time for (the portal) to return back to the right path as this involves the sovereignty of the nation,” wrote the unidentified columnist.

He blamed the alleged foreign funders for the “anti-government” stories that he claimed were supportive of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Utusan had been on a campaign running various allegations against Malaysiakini that include reports of a former Malaysiakini editor YL Chong alleging the Soros link by suggesting that one of the portal’s directors, Harlan M Mandel is a “Soros man”.

However, the pro-government daily has not carried any reports on Malaysiakini chief executive officer Premesh Chandran’s clarifications and rebuttals of the allegations.

It has also not reported that former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had made amends with Soros and had even once asked the billionaire to support his anti-war programme Global Peace Forum.

Premesh noted that the accusations made now are a rerun of the campaign 11 years’ ago that had been amply rebutted, and questioned the mainstream media for linking Mandel with Soros.

Perkasa: Mandel financed Bala meet

Meanwhile, expanding on the Jewish conspiracy theory, Malay rights pressure group Perkasa has demanded Subang Jaya MP Sivarasa Rasiah and also lawyer M Puravalen to explain whether their meeting on July 2, 2008 with former private investigator P Balasubramaniam and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin was financed by Mandel.

Mingguan Malaysia also reported Perkasa’s information chief Ruslan Kassim alleging that Mandel and Soros were financing the “slander” of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

“Malaysians have the right to know who financed this agenda to smear the country, government and its leaders,” said Ruslan, also questioning who had financed the cost of the alleged fake photograph of murdered Mongolian interpreter Altantuya Shaariibuu with Najib.

It was reported that Puravalen has denied reports made in the New Straits Times and also Utusan Malaysia and has sent legal letters to the two pro-government dailies to demand an apology or face a lawsuit.

Previously, Malaysiakini has disclosed that Mandel only joined the portal as a director last year after he took helm as the Media Development Loan Fund, one of Malaysiakini’s investors.

The Ryder Cup 2012: The US Team takes a Comfortable Lead


September 30, 2012

The Ryder Cup 2012: The US Team takes a Comfortable Leader

by CNN Sports

Two Ian Poulter-inspired victories offered Europe a glimmer of hope in their quest to retain the Ryder Cup after another day dominated by brilliance from the United States.

Despite Poulter’s heroics, David Love III’s team took a commanding 10-6 lead with only the 12 singles match to come on Sunday.

The last time a team came back from such a large deficit was at the infamous clash at Brookline in 1999 when Justin Leonard capped a superb fightback for the United States.

But after taking five points from a possible eight on offer, Love’s side are firmly in the driving seat and on course to record their first victory since 2008.

Day Two of the Ryder Cup as it happened

Sunday would have been a procession had it not been for England’s Poulter, who revels in the matchplay format in the Ryder Cup and kept European captain Jose Maria Olazabal’s dream alive.

He made five straight birdies on the final five holes as he and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy wrestled a point from Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner.

And his ten foot putt on the final hole to secure victory was greeted with wild scenes of celebration from a European team that had looked down and out at one stage on Saturday.

“It comes from within,” Poulter said of yet another strong performance in the Ryder Cup. “If we can do anything to get our hands on this trophy, with Seve (Ballesteros, who died in 2011) looking down on us, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

“We’ve got a chance and that’s all we could’ve done. We’ve got to take it to them tomorrow – it’s that simple. I want to go out early tomorrow.”

McIlroy said of his afternoon partner: “We needed something to happen, some sort of spark, and after 13, Ian took over from there.All the credit needs to be put on this man. We can feed off his positivity, for sure. We clawed it back thanks to some incredible golf from Ian.”

Shortly before Poulter and McIlroy’s victory, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia held on for a narrow victory over Steve Stricker and 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, who has now lost all three matches he has played in Chicago.

But in the afternoon’s other two matches Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson trounced Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari 5&4 while Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson defeated Paul Lawrie and Nicolas Colsaerts one up.

Earlier, Poulter and Justin Rose spared Europe a humiliating whitewash in the morning foursomes. The English pairing edged past Watson and Simpson, grabbing a precious point on the 18th green.

“It was absolutely key. Jose put us out number one for a reason and that was to get a point,” Poulter said.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley

But it was the high point on an otherwise miserable morning for the European team.Lee Westwood and Luke Donald were hammered 7 and 6 by Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson with Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson heaping on further misery with a 2 and 1 win over Nicolas Colsaerts and Sergio Garcia.

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell were also unable to stem the U.S. tide conceding defeat to Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker on the final green.

Despite their two dramatic victories on the 18th green, Europe still have a mountain to climb on Sunday, needing eight points from the 12 on offer to retain the trophy.

No to International Mediator Role, says Dr. Mahathir


September 30, 2012

No to International Mediator  Role, says Dr. Mahathir

by Bernama

NEW YORK: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has ruled out taking up the role of an international mediator similar to the ones performed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair or United States (US) President Jimmy Carter.

He said this during an informal meeting with Malaysian students on Saturday at the Malaysian United Nations (UN) mission in New York.

After the conferring of the Rafik Hariri United Nations Habitat Memorial Award on Mahathir Friday night, some guests were privately asking if he would not make a good mediator for resolving international disputes, given his wide-ranging international experience and his elder statesman status.

“No, I don’t think I am qualified for such a role,” he told Bernama, adding in a lighter vein that the “world will not listen to me and people will do what they like…so, I would discount such a role.”

Mahathir looked relaxed as he fielded questions from the students on issues ranging from the political situation in Malaysia and Malaysia’s transition to a developed nation, to the China-Japan conflict.

“You need a strong government to manage a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious country like Malaysia,” Mahathir noted.

Return home, students told

He also advised the students not to forget the culture and values they brought from home when studying in the West.

“We begin to change in terms of our values and culture after staying in developed countries. Some may even say that we (in Malaysia) are not as progressive as in the countries where you have studied.When you compare something good with something better, then your own country doesn’t look so good. But when you compare your country with something not so good, then even the bad things begin to look good,” he told the students.

He also urged Malaysian students to return home after completing their studies and offer their expertise for nation-building.

“Help Malaysia realise its goal of becoming a developed country by 2020,” Mahathir said, pointing out that Malaysia, despite the global downturn, was still growing and “defying gravity”, as the Financial Times recently put it.

Looking mentally sharp and alert for his age, 87-year-old Mahathir recalled that at the time of Independence from British colonial rule, Malaysia seemed to have been written off, with critics saying that the country would not survive because of its multi-ethnic and multi-racial composition.

“We decided to share our wealth between our communities –- Malay, Chinese and Indian. It’s better to have a smaller slice of the cake than the full cake.

“By sharing the cake, we offered opportunities to the other communities as well,” he said, explaining that Malaysia had thus ensured economic growth and prosperity.

Striking a balance

He said that Malaysia was blessed by nature and, unlike some of its neighbours, had not been at the receiving end of natural disasters.Mahathir also spoke against corruption, saying that the person giving bribe was as guilty as the person taking it.

On the recent riots in several Muslim countries over an anti-Islam film made by an individual in the US, he said that he favoured freedom of expression but there were limitations to it, particularly when it hurt the feelings of others.

On the escalating China-Japan tensions and the US role in the conflict, he said: “…You have to be willing to compromise and strike a balance.”

He cited Malaysia’s examples in reaching deals with its neighbours by taking a ‘reasonable stand’ when conflicts or issues arose.

Mahathir and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali were welcomed at the mission by Malaysian Ambassador in Washington, Othman Hashim.

Muhammad Afiq Hassan, a student at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, read out a welcome address on behalf of the students.

- Bernama

Slow Death of Damascus


September 30, 2012

Slow Death of Damascus

by Bunn Nagara@http://www.thestar.com.my

When no solution or resolution is allowed to work for Syria, it could just bleed to death.

THE Syrian conflict has morphed into a painful and dangerous war of attrition for five reasons, none of them the official one of scale.

The purported reason so frequently cited by international media and diplomats, that of 30,000 dead and counting, and 1.5 million refugees, is a result of the spiralling conflict and not a cause of it.

The first of the actual reasons is the continually escalating conflict with no apparent or conceivable limits. If a country can be said to bleed to death, Syria tragically is at gravest risk of doing so.

The second reason is that all the parties to the conflict are actively engaged in the escalation, with none of them having any interest in stopping or even mitigating it.

The third is that external parties with an interest in Syria continue to fuel the flames. Iraq and Iran are said to be contributing in different ways to the Syrian government’s armed might, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar are known to be providing material or logistical aid to the rebels.

This already has the makings of a Shi’ite-Sunni conflict on the verge of spreading well beyond Syria. The regional rivalry between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia is poised to multiply exponentially.

Fourth, whereas a stronger Syrian military can swiftly dispatch a weak opposition and end the agony of war, the situation is muddied and muddled with inputs from abroad. The opposition is well-armed with a Free Syrian Army supported by Egypt, Turkey, the Arab League and the odd combination of Islamist militant groups and Western powers.

The result is a nation teetering on the brink of destruction while being torn apart from within and abroad. The conflict is simply not allowed to resolve itself forthwith either militarily or diplomatically, while the life of the nation is steadily drained away.

Among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and China refused to add to the conflict by approving military intervention. The US, Britain and France as the other three condemn this inaction without considering how their own support for forcible intervention can bring peace.

The fifth reason for Syria becoming a potential time bomb in the region is a deepening split between even the self-proclaimed champions of peace. Where it is already difficult enough to resolve the conflict through inclusive talks, the rift between different sets of exclusive dialogues can only make things worse.

The US-led Friends of Syria group that comprises the US, the EU and the Arab League specifically excludes Iran, despite Teheran’s prominent role in Syria. Western officials baulk at any thought of including Iran without realising that talks have to be more open and less restricted and partisan.

And as might be expected, the Friends of Syria has failed to show any promise in resolving or even limiting the conflict. Despite Egypt not sharing Iran’s perspective of Syria, it has invited Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to join a contact group to work for peace.

At the same time, Iran is working with an even broader focus in proposing a 12-nation group to end the conflict. In contrast, the Friends of Syria looks dated and inadequate.

Much the same can be said of the UN role, or what remains of it. UN and Arab League Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (picture right with Kofi Annan and UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki Moon) can only go through the motions of diplomacy, saying little and doing even less.

In political science, a protracted stalemate is a condition frozen into inconsequential irrelevance. In the messier world of government, it is a painful and unsustainable paralysis deriving from mutual destruction between fellow citizens.

Such a situation like Syria’s is not static but dynamic in the most chaotic way possible. It actively grinds, wears down and pulverizes both sides without offering any hope of better days ahead.

Brahimi sees it differently, of course, but then he is an interested party. He conceded that the Syrian situation was “extremely bad and getting worse,” yet added that things would get better later.

That supposed light at the end of the tunnel could be a fully loaded oncoming freight train. Actually, the deadly chaos which is the Syrian nightmare, is a lot worse because it continues to worsen.

Brahimi gave no basis for predicting a better future for Syria and Syrians. That means the deliverance he purports to foresee is what must follow the destruction of the country: when nothing can possibly get worse, anything that happens next is bound to be better.

That may seem like cynicism, but the seasoned diplomat did not mean to be cynical. The implication, therefore, is that through all the muck in the mire, there is not going to be any “awakening” from the Syrian nightmare.

Syria’s current realities say it plainly enough. Rag-tag bands of violent militants with questionable ideologies, armed by dubious foreign sources, are battling the state with deadly force under cover of a presumed moral legitimacy.

The battle cry is against authoritarianism, but Syrians have lived with that for some 40 years of Assad family rule without requiring a violent uprising to save anyone. But in the current regime-change mentality, past gains are easily forgotten.

After coming into office first as Prime Minister and then elected as President, Hafez al-Assad (Assad senior) provided Syria with political stability and development.

He steered clear of religious extremism by separating religion from politics, ensured women enjoyed equal rights, and even amended the Constitution to allow non-Muslims to become President.

Far from being anti-Western, he tried to make peace with Israel and even joined the US-led alliance against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1990.

Among the enemies the elder Assad made was the Muslim Brotherhood, which forced him to retreat from the Constitutional change. Then when the Brother­hood staged an armed revolt in 1982, he hit them hard by killing thousands.

His son and successor Bashar al-Assad lacks his political pedigree and policy adaptability, and that has proven to be a policy setback. Promised liberal reforms largely remained undelivered, the few moves towards change were slow, and eventually Damascus was overtaken and overwhelmed by events.

The resulting irregularities have produced singular anomalies. Brahimi, for example, is simultaneously supposed to represent a neutral UN and a partisan Arab League.

He substituted for Kofi Annan, who quit after a ceasefire call went unheeded, Western powers withheld support, and a plan to involve Iran was opposed.

For Syria, Damascus had implemented all six of Annan’s recommendations which were not honoured by the rebel side. Western news agencies lately reported intensified fighting in Aleppo and Homs, but the situation has so deteriorated that violence has actually escalated throughout the country.

Meanwhile, Qatar has signaled the likely introduction of no-fly zones, the strategy against Libya that also meant direct military intervention from abroad. That again could be making matters worse in the guise of making them better.

If moral legitimacy derives from honesty and consistency rather than hypocrisy and double standards, Qatar and Saudi Arabia would also be supporting the rebels in Bahrain.

But that would be a slippery slope for them, since the regime-change mindset could extend further afield to other Gulf kingdoms like themselves. Awakenings can be contagious.

Aliran:Bemused by Criticism of Malaysiakini


September 30, 2012

Bemused by criticism of Malaysiakini

By Aliran Executive C0mmittee
An Emerging Force in Malaysia

Aliran is bemused again. Last week, the focus of attacks was on Suaram. This week, they have turned their attention to Malaysiakini.

In our statement in response last week, we mentioned how foreign interests are affecting the minds and lives of Malaysians, virtually on an everyday basis. We made references to the influence of the English Premier League, BBC and CNN telecasts into millions of households in the region.

More seriously we highlighted how we measure economic growth in terms of, among others, the quantum of FDI. Why, we even want to draw in foreign investors that may be environmentally harmful e.g. Lynas’ rare earth refinery, RAPID in Pengerang, Johor and aluminium smelters in Sarawak!

We also highlighted US support for military exercises involving the Malaysian military via the Office of Defence Cooperation in support of the US Embassy in Malaysia and the US Pacific Command. (We should have also mentioned the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition, now in its 12th edition.)

None of the critics of Suaram bothered to respond to these points. Neither did they show us HOW Suaram is undermining democracy by receiving foreign funds.

Now we are told that it is not proper for foreigners to hold directorships or other stakes in local media outfits!But then, we note that a leading “integrated consumer media entertainment group in Malaysia and Southeast Asia with operations in four key areas of business, namely Pay-TV, Radio, Publications and Digital Media” has a non-independent, non-executive director who appears to be a foreigner.

If we are talking about moulding public opinion, why only talk about the media? Why not talk about foreign public relations groups and spin doctors such as APCO which are in the business of shaping public opinion to promote certain leaders and political parties as paragons of virtue especially as elections approach? Is this not trying to influence public perception falsely as certain quarters are now accusing Malaysiakini of?

Since we are talking about moulding minds, what about education? We now have foreign universities invited to establish branch campuses in Malaysia. Often the curriculum is adapted from abroad and taught by foreign lecturers – and in the English Language too!

Then there are the international schools in Malaysia. Quotas or restrictions on Malaysians attending such schools have now been relaxed. Increasingly, these schools now have free access in shaping young and impressionable local minds – an exposure which could be equally dangerous!

If we want to stretch this ridiculous argument, what about the tens of thousands of Malaysian youths who have been sent abroad by the government and their parents to further their studies in Europe, America, South and East Asia, and the Middle East? Wouldn’t they too have imbibed foreign values and ideologies?

The Malaysiakini Pioneers

Much ado has also been made about an Opposition politician’s small stake in Malaysiakini as if that would affect its editorial independence. In that case, what about UMNO’s ownership of Utusan and MCA’s ownership of The Star, Nanyang and China Press? Doesn’t that compromise their independence? Doesn’t that have an even greater impact in undermining media independence?

Instead of making vague insinuations and innuendos, critics of Malaysiakini should give us clear examples of how the foreign presence on its board or foreign funding has resulted in a diabolical foreign agenda creeping into Malaysiakini’s reporting that threatens to undermine democracy.

By the way, Aliran does not receive any foreign funding for any ongoing programmes nor do we have a foreigner sitting on our board of directors. Why, we don’t even have a board of directors! But we won’t make any insinuations against others just because they might have a foreigner on their board. After all, we live in an era of globalisation.

Aliran Executive Committee
29 September 2012

 

Time for some Entertainment


September 30, 2012

Time for some Entertainment

The Budget 2013 Speech was delivered by the Prime Minister Najib last Friday. The debate continues in Parliament while both the mainstream and alternative media have given their take on the budget proposals and we ourselves have expressed our opinion on it. Now let us have some entertainment.

Dr Kamsiah and I thought that we should bring you music from contemporary singers in Indonesia for this weekend. We think they are talented and outstanding because they have passion for music. So, let us start with some slow romantic songs by Melly Goeslow, Ari Lasso, Roosa and the dynamic Ruth Sahanaya.

We then bring in Harvey Malaiholo, a favorite of Din’s, who ends our entertainment with four of his popular tunes. Harvey has a great voice and it does not surprise us that he is popular in his country but also in Malaysia. We hope you like our choices. Have a great weekend.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Melly Goeslow

Ari Lasso

Ruth Sahanaya

Rossa

Harvey Malaiholo