Koon Swan honored

October 31, 2012

Koon Swan honored for Contributions to Politics and Business

by Teoh El Sen@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Former MCA Chief Tan Koon Swan will be awarded a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his contributions to politics and business at the 4th World Chinese Economic Forum (WCEF) next month, announced MCA President Dr Chua Soi Lek today.

Tan will be among seven others to be conferred the award at WCEF which will be held in Melbourne, Australia starting November 12.

Congratulating Tan, Chua said:”It is time for what we call redemption. He has gone through a very difficult time and he deserves the award. The prosecutor in his case has admitted to being wrong and has exonerated him… time has proven that he (Tan) is innocent.”

Chua added that it was high time that Tan, who he described as a “well-known corporate figure”, have his hard work and contributions recognised.

The Singapore Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in 1985 slapped Tan with 15 charges, including criminal breach of trust (CBT) and share manipulation following the collapse of Pan-Electric

Industries, which temporarily halted the Malaysia and Singapore stock exchanges. Tan, who had a stake in Pan-Electric, was found guilty and jailed two years. He was MCA President between November 1985 and September 1986, before quitting after the scandal.

Glenn Knight, then Director of CAD, in his recently-launched book, “Glenn Knight: The Prosecutor”, apologised to Tan for the “wrongful prosecution”. In his words, Tan was “technically an innocent man”.

Knight’s book was disputed by Singapore’s Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), which said that Tan’s conviction stood and he remains guilty of the crime that he had admitted to.

Others receiving the lifetime awards are Dr Jonathan Choi– Chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (for Community Leadership); Jannie Chan – Vice Chairman of The Hour Glass Ltd & President, ASEAN Business Forum(for Women Leadership);Councillor Ken Ong – Melbourne City Council (for Community Leadership); Jenny McGregor – Founding Chief

Executive Officer, Asialink Centre, Australia (for Leadership in Asian Studies in Australia); Vincent Lee Fook Long – Executive Deputy Chairman, The Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad(for Media and Communications); Vincent Lo – Chairman, Shui On Group (for Leadership in Property Sector); Liew Kee Sin – President/Chief Executive Officer, SP Setia Berhad Group (for Property Development Leadership).

Meanwhile, Chua said the WCEF, being the first time held outside of Malaysia, was a very significant event for both Asians and Western countries.

“The way to go, as Australia has identified, is to maximise and tap into the growing economy of Asia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. It is often said that the centre of gravity of the economy has shifted from the West to the East.

“The economic growth in the next few years is very positive about this part of the world, rather than America and European Union, who have not put their house in order. Whereas in Asia, growth has remained uninterrupted,” he said.

Sorry, the Vacancy has been filled

October 31, 2012

Sorry, the Vacancy has been filled

by R. Nadeswaran (10-28-12)@ http://www.thesundaily.my

Last Monday, our columnist applied for a “dream job” with the Customs Department after discovering there are fool-proof measures to raise money for charitable causes.

A week later, since he did not get nor expected a reply, he decided to pen a reply (purportedly) from the department.

Dear R. Nadeswaran

I have been directed to reply to your application. First, we would like to thank you for showing interest in our department and the happenings within. However, we regret to inform you that the vacancy had been filled long before we received your application.

To be honest, it is the policy of this department to fill such “exciting” vacancies which involve procurement and money with internal promotions and as a matter of fact, such positions are reserved for officers from the inner sanctum. Perhaps, you will read about the heroics of such officers in future editions of the Auditor-General’s Report, probably in 2017, as you had indicated in your letter.

Having said that, we need to clarify some points in your application which seem to suggest that there’s a lot of wrongdoing in our department. This is far from the truth. On the contrary, we affirm that whatever claims you made in your application are true and can confirm that they are part of our work culture and customs (pun intended) which we have been exercising for decades. We may have a work-to-rule or other forms of industrial action if such systems which bring additional revenue are changed.

Ordering in excess of our requirements is one method we use to spend our budget allocated by the Treasury. Why should we save money which has been budgeted for our expenditure, even if we don’t need the equipment?

We will look silly if we save funds for the government and we can justify that by putting on record that we collect billions for the government and that expenditure on equipment can be considered small change or “weekend rojak money” as one former minister called it.

Because you have not worked in our department or any government agency, you would not know the mechanics when it comes to spending. Let me give you an example. If we need 1,000 torchlights, we normally put up a budget for 2,000 or in some cases, 3,000. Our finance section approves it and money has been budgeted.

If we use the money to buy only 1,000 torchlights, next year, money will only be allocated for the lower figure. So, going by our standard operating procedures (SOP), we buy 3,000 torchlights, irrespective of whether there is use for them. What is wrong in keeping them in our store? That’s how the government system works. And of course, buying such a quantity means there are hefty discounts and the invoice is adjusted accordingly.

We applaud your intention to raise money for charitable purposes. Let us state that such spirit and vigour are also with our officers, who also do their bit for the needy. Occasionally, they drop loose change in a container in the office. However, such efforts cannot be carried out in the same manner as you suggested. They cannot and never can emulate Robin Hood as they have their commitments.

Some of our officers have more than one wife and extended families to support, they have children studying overseas and some own two or more cars.

Some are members of several golf clubs but avoid the club meant for civil servants. This is because they don’t want to show off their RM40,000 golf sets which will cause envy among fellow civil servants. That’s why their luxury cars can only be seen being vacuumed and polished in the confines of some of the best clubs in the country.

But they do a little for society and their contributions are minimal because our officers have been trained to plan for the future. Hence on retirement, with their pensions, some of them live in bungalows in posh neighbourhoods and on the fringes of golf courses.

While some get used to living in cramped quarters provided by the government, there are some who live in bungalows or renting their properties to support their lifestyles. Thriftiness has enabled this latter group. Some of them start saving from the day they start their service and within 10 years, are able to own bungalows costing a million each. Others just have to make one swoop and are made for life.

In view of the above and the “family concept” that is in practice, we cannot accept you into our fold.

Saya Yang Menurut Perintah.

Bagi Pihak Ketua Pengarah
Jabatan Eksais dan Kastam diRaja

A Case for Academic Autonomy

October 31, 2012

A Case for Academic Autonomy in Malaysian Universities

by Azmi  Sharom@http://www.thestar.com

There is a growing obsession with form over substance and nowhere is this more evident than in the unhealthy interest taken with university rankings.

THIS month marks the 22nd year I have worked as an academic.In that time, I have seen many changes in the university. There have been, of course, some improvements since those early days. For one thing, technology has transformed things for the better.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. The very first publication I wrote went through this rather painful process.

First, I had to go to the library and find the relevant cases and journal articles. Then having taken copious notes, I went back to my office where I proceeded to write out my thoughts with an ancient device known as a pen.

Having completed this task, I would send my scratching to a lovely lady in the general office downstairs whose job title was “steno”.

She would type out what I wrote, give it back to me to check and then I would return it to her with any corrections. Finally, it would be placed into a pocket made of paper known as a stamped envelope and posted to the publisher.

Now, all cases and statutes including many journals are online. I type my work myself (with the computer checking my spelling and grammar) and when I am done I e-mail the stuff to the publisher.

All in the comfort of my office where I can play Flight of the Hamsters in between constructing sentences filled with gems of wisdom.

I will be the first to admit that I am quite old-fashioned in many ways, but I can categorically say that I don’t miss the days before the Internet and Word.

Progress, unfortunately, is not always positive. And it saddens me to say that over these last two decades I have seen changes that in my opinion ring the death knell for higher education.

In my opinion, the key problem is that those who decide the direction of our universities have lost track of the values that have to underpin these institutions in order for them to play a meaningful role in society.

There is a growing obsession with form over substance and nowhere is this more evident than in the unhealthy interest taken with university rankings.

Politicians harp on about it, so the Government makes it a priority. Because the Government wants higher rankings, the Vice-Chancellors start ranting about it too.

Rankings have become the raison d’etre for universities.The quick fix then becomes the holy grail, hence universities look to the ranking criteria and they focus their efforts on doing all they can to meet those criteria.

This blinkered modus operandi then leads to some seriously contorted developments which ignore the principles that are necessary for the proper foundations of truly good universities.

Academic autonomy is one of those principles.A university is a complex organisation. It is unlike a factory where there is by and large one goal and usually one method with which to achieve the said goal with the best quality and efficiency.

Even in one faculty, there are many variations. Take, for example, the Faculty of Arts – you have departments as diverse as English and Geography; Urban Planning and Gender Studies; International Studies and Indian Studies; the list goes on.

You can’t possibly be laying down a single criterion for quality for such a diverse group. But that is what happened. Nowadays, if you want to prove your quality, the only way you can do it, which is embraced by universities, is if you publish in the journals recognised by the ranking organisations.

It doesn’t matter if you are an English professor who publishes well-received novels, or if you are a Gender Studies lecturer who uses your knowledge for women’s activism.

What about the fine arts? Shouldn’t the creation of new ideas in dance and theatre take precedence over an article in some obscure (but acknowledged by the rankers) journal which only a handful of people will read? Increasingly, the thinking of universities is it is our way or the highway.

Such a top down approach cannot work because each academic unit in a university has its own expertise and its own value system.

This has to be respected because they themselves should know how to advance their discipline both in an academically and socially meaningful manner.

Autonomy brings with it the necessary flexibility for each department and each academic to chart the necessary course which will improve themselves and their own disciplines.

And who should know better what that course should be than those who have trained in that discipline.

I am not against the publishing of works in reputable journals. I acknowledge that they are important to the advancement of academic thought.What I am saying is that the diversity of academia means that there are numerous methods to determine quality. And the best way to achieve quality is by having true academic autonomy so that those who know best are the ones who determine the way to achieve the best.

The Last of the Malaysian Newspaper Mohicans

October 30, 2012

My Friend Syed Nadzri: The Last of the Malaysian Newspaper Mohicans



Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, Group Editor of the New Straits Times, said farewell to the editorial staff this evening, at a sombre tea party on the 2nd Floor.

His impending departure had been talked about for the past month and word was that he would be taking up a directorship at a large corporation, but for the moment that is just shop talk.

The newsroom focus is more about who might replace him: next in rank is Managing Editor Nuraina Samad.

For the past year, however, it has been Group Managing Editor Jalil Hamid, former Press Secretary to the Prime Minister, who has been calling the shots in the newsroom, as Ahmad Talib did before him and occasionally still does.

Syed Nadzri’s departure comes against a backdrop of constant sniping from pro-UMNO bloggers, especially those allied to Mahathir Mohamad as well as Najib Razak, determined to root out anyone still at Balai Berita seen to be allied with former Deputy Chairman Kalimullah Hassan.

Syed Nadzri rose through the ranks, beginning as a sports reporter with The Star before he moved to Balai Berita on the News Desk. Even as group editor, he would often be at a terminal near the desk in the afternoons, going through copy, rather than in his office.

Last month he was honoured by the National Press Club with its Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions to the industry.

With his departure, the NST has probably seen the last of the professional journalists holding the position, although the appointment of NST editors has always been subject to approval by UMNO Presidents.

Political appointees as group editor-in-chief, responsible for both the NST and Berita Harian, have been the NST editor de jure for many years, with the NST Group Editor (editorially responsible for the New Straits Times and New Sunday Times) reduced to a figurehead position responsible for day-to-day affairs.

Now with the New Straits Times Press swallowed up into the bowels of Media Prima, with television revenues covering for NST losses, and the politicisation of the group media in preparation for the coming general election, it remains to be seen whether there will still be a group editor’s position to be filled.But they do say nature abhors a vacuum.

People of Malaysia Vs Mahathir Bin Mohamad

October 30, 2012

People of Malaysia Vs Mahathir Bin Mohamad

by Navin-Chandra Naidu @ www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT :Suing Dr Mahathir Mohamad is impossible, unthinkable, undesirable, unwise, or difficult? I pose this riddle because I know I do not know the answer to it.

I have been advocating this for quite some time, but I don’t seem to get anywhere. Maybe our esteemed Malaysiakini subscribers will put on their usual thinking caps and help me understand this “problem” so that, maybe, we can get to get this man sued in a court of justice (not a court of law).

There is a great difference between a court of law and a court of justice. Justice is a blind bat. Justice OW Holmes of the US Supreme Court once chastised a lawyer, and told him sternly that he, the lawyer, was in a court of law, and not a court of justice.

You see, Justice Holmes was not given to philosophy of the law although he wallowed in it. He was a practical man who knew that the law is “how one could predict how a court would decide.” Lofty legal principles in many courts in many countries have been abandoned in the rash search for a political solution. The litigant does not count.

In the Malaysian context, when you walk into a court of law, it is a throw of the dice, especially after August 1988. If the judge is learned in the law, and not given to apple-polishing his or her political masters, the litigant has a shot at real justice. There will be equal justice under the law.

The litigant is no better off when he gets a judge concerned about his or her pension. This is not peculiar in Malaysia only. We have a bunch of loonies assigned to the Bench here in the United States, too. One judge was so obsessed he used a penis pump under his robes when a physically attractive female prosecutor showed up in his court.

Will judges rise to the occasion?

Suing Mahathir will require several thousand Malaysians gathering together a team of pro bono publicus lawyers – lawyers willing to work for free, yours truly included, of course – to unleash a shattering legal tsunami against the former prime minister for corrupt practices, wasting public funds with his warped sense of largesse and bigness, and perversion of justice through his unique cabalistic methods that resulted in the ruination of the country’s prospects for equal opportunities for all Malaysians which is still reverberating as a persistent and nagging reminder in the federal constitution (FC) as Article 8. The man has done more damage than anyone else in Malaysia.

The first and foremost criterion to take into account is whether our Malaysian judges, using Article 162(6) of FC, would care to dare to bare the truth of the citizens’ allegations against a former prime minister, and serve as judicial referees and umpires to a genuine trial that would make truth take centre stage instead of just proof and evidence that our police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers are so proud and adept at manufacturing, fabricating, altering, covering up, and delivering as factual reality.

Malaysian judges must take up the slack and deliver judgments that can withstand the after effects of an appeal. After all, the dreadful and dreaded Adorna Properties ruling and decision got overruled by Tan Ying Hong v Tan Sian San, which restored deferred indefeasibility of title and offered Section 340 of the National Land Code 1965 a new shine and polish.

Our appellate judges ought to hold up the scales of justice and not be caught cheating with misapplied thumb pressure upon these scales without checking, rechecking and cross-checking all the facts that were submitted by the lawyers. I wonder if our Malaysian judges conduct any independent investigations like our European counterparts on the Bench.

After all, one cannot simply take any lawyer’s submissions for the truth, because lawyers are not the only ones entitled to lie in court.

A-G the stumbling block

Such a case involving a Muslim Prime Minister could be initiated in a Syariah Court that would leave the Attorney-General (A-G) powerless under Article 145(3) FC. But that is exactly what is sorely desired. Malaysians do not relish the idea of the A-G agonising on whether or not to proffer charges against his boss.

The A-G is a stumbling block. Someday, he ought to be impeached being a federal judge and all. But that may already be happening. The burning question is whether the Syariah Court will be willing to adjudicate The People of Malaysia v Dr Mahathir Mohamad bin Iskandar. It ought to, especially if the defendant is a Muslim, as is the case.

At the same time, the native courts ought to file another motion against Mahathir for grabbing their lands during his 22-year watch. The Orang Asli’s motion would be rock solid given the fact that the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Forum’s representatives will have to attend these lawsuits as umpires and referees to make sure no plaintiff is forced to flee the lawsuit by the local thuggery enclaves admirably and efficiently run by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).

The Aboriginal Peoples Act of 1954 together with Article 8(5)(c) of the federal constitution would be a powerful combination against Mahathir in all 18 Orang Asli Native Courts as all 18 Orang Asli tribes will be suing the same man in 18 different Native Courts.

While the syariah and native courts effort is under way, lawsuits ought to be filed in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, at the same time by the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. An all-out concerted effort to bring this man down ought to be the most pleasurable thing any Malaysian can think or dream about.

NONEI wallow in the fun I may have as a lawyer see true blue justice done to an arrogant man who thinks he is beyond and above the law. Mahathir probably thinks he still wields untold power and pleasure in Malaysia. He may still enjoy a lot of power given the fact that the Ling Liong Sik-Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) case fizzled away like a flash in a pan without much fanfare.

Curtain time for Dr M

The task at hand is formidable amassing all the facts, details, data, particulars, proof and evidence to succeed in bringing this puppeteer down.

Subpoena everyone that was associated or affiliated with the man. You can forget about a criminal case being mounted. I am talking about a civil suit for unjust enrichment, violating the public trust, defaming the public thinking we are a bunch of fools, and a host of suitable causes of action, which I am sure we Malaysians will have absolutely no difficulty in marshalling together as a must-do and can-do fun exercise.

Royal commission of inquiries (RCIs) are a waste of time. Waiting for election results is another doleful exercise in patience with a crooked Election Commission to contend with. Writing books, articles, essays, ceramahs, and public debates aside, suing Mahathir is where the rubber meets the road. It’s time for action.

Talking about making Mahathir liable is what it will take, and I hope and pray we Malaysians can rally together and bring this suit against Mahathir to fruition. Powerful people in historical annals could not just get away with it. They had to pay. Some with their lives, some with long prison terms.

I believe a well-informed citizenry, like Malaysians today, can make the difference. The leaders of any country cannot get zilch done without the workers putting their effort together. Mahatma Gandhi shut out and shut down the British Empire with the simple “bandh” effort. “Shut it down,” he instructed, and every worker, soldier, cook, errand boy, gardener, cleaner, polisher, driver, dhobi, every other menial worker simply shut it down.

So, my fellow Malaysians, expose the man. Let’s shut down Mahathir. Let’s shut him up in prison. Let’s shut down his last show. It’s curtain time.

Putrajaya determined to recover NFC funds

October 29, 2012

Putrajaya says determined to recover NFC funds

by Clara Chooi @http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Putrajaya said today it is determined to recover monies lost in the RM250 million National Feedlot Centre (NFC) project, the controversial cattle-farming scheme that hit media headlines last year after it was highlighted for mismanagement in the Auditor-General’s Report 2010.

Responding to several opposition lawmakers in the Dewan Rakyat here, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar  said discussions were still ongoing between the government and several companies on the best option that would ensure the government recovers the federal soft loan.

“We want to take over the management (of the NFC) and most importantly, we want to recover the government’s money,” he told the House.

Noh said the Najib Cabinet had elected Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to lead the discussions, adding that it was imperative that the federal cattle-farming scheme survives as it is an important project for the country’s future.

He stressed that despite the issues surrounding the NFC, the scheme is still operational with some 12,000 cattle reared at 38 out of 57 satellite farms.

When questioned on the financial assets of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), however, the firm in the centre of the scandal, the minister pointed out to Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR-Ampang) that the matter was still in the courts.

“I cannot say any more, except that the firm did ask to lift the freeze on its assets… but this could not be approved,” he said.

PKR’s Rafizi Ramli recently said that Putrajaya was unlikely to see the return of the RM250 million in public funds lent to NFCorp even if it initiates a civil suit against the company.

The firm, owned by the family members of former minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and picked to run the NFC cattle-farming project, hit the headlines last year when the Auditor-General in his 2010 report stated that it had missed production targets.

The Opposition Party’s strategy chief, who spearheaded corruption allegations against the company over the project, pointed out that the Auditor-General had in his 2011 report tabled this week in Parliament recommended legal action against NFCorp to claim back public money owed.

He claimed that it was the other companies fully-owned by Shahrizat’s family which had nothing to do with the national feedlot project and not NFCorp that had allegedly embezzled and bought luxury assets.

The Opposition had alleged that NFCorp directors used the loan meant for a federal cattle-farming scheme to buy or finance properties in Kazakhstan and Singapore worth at least RM45 million, and to siphon out at least RM12 million to their own companies in the island state.

PKR had also accused NFCorp of “hunting down” alleged whistleblowers to “put the lid on” claims the company abused the RM250 million federal loan to finance property, luxury cars and expenses unrelated to cattle farming.

Shahrizat, who had headed the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry when the project was awarded to her family in 2006, relinquished her Cabinet post in early April over the allegations against her family.

Malaysian Jihadists In Lebanon–Update

October 29, 2012

Malaysian Jihadists In Lebanon: Belated Response from Wisma Putra and Home Affairs Ministry

by Malaysian Insider (10-28-12)

Putrajaya is giving priority to investigating Malaysia’s alleged link to global Islamic militants al Qaeda and the Taliban after Lebanon arrested two Malaysians suspected of being suicide bombers who had infiltrated the Middle Eastern country earlier this month.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said his Ministry is on the case as the duo’s ties to the Islamic terrorist groups is very worrying while Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Wisma Putra is monitoring closely the detention of suspects in Lebanon.

“We’ll investigate the suspected involvement of Malaysians with al Qaeda and Taliban in depth as it’s a matter of grave concern,” Hishammuddin was reported by state news agency Bernama as saying in Kluang today.

He was also reported saying that Malaysia’s involvement with terrorist organisations based in the Middle East was unusual and pointed out that local links have so far been limited to regional groups such as Jemaah Islamiah or Darul Islam.

“Malaysia does not condone terrorism or extremism by any group that may compromise the security of any country and its people, and fully respects the laws of Lebanon,” Anifah said in a statement today to Bernama, backing his Cabinet colleague.

The Foreign Minister said the two Malaysians were picked up by Lebanese authorities on October 18 and have been taken to the country’s Military Court in Beirut and charged last Thursday.

He added that both were scheduled to appear in the Lebanese court again tomorrow, but did not say what the charges were.

He said the Malaysian embassy in Beirut is acting to meet the duo and provide them with consular advice and that the families of the two suspects have also been informed of their arrest.

Lebanese newspaper al-Joumhouria has identified the two suspects as Rafik Mohammed Aaref, 21, and 28-year-old Mohammed Razin Shaaban, citing its country’s military intelligence.

Wisma Putra did not respond when contacted by The Malaysian Insider today for confirmation of the suspects’ identities.

The Arabic newspaper also reported that the duo have been charged with being members of al Qaeda and had been recruited to join the organisation in 2007 by another Malaysian, whom they named as Mustapha Mansour.

Citing Lebanese security sources, the paper reported that the two Malaysians had previously been arrested in 2007 and were sentenced to jail where they met Jamal al-Badawi, who was accused of being behind the 2000 bombing of a US Navy destroyer, the USS Cole, in Yemen.

Al-Joumhouria reported that the Malaysian suspects tried to enter Syria some two months ago, through Turkey on a jihadist mission in order to carry out suicide attacks planned by a man the paper named as Abou Hassan and which it said was responsible for the entry of all jihadists to Syria.

The daily reported that the Malaysians then headed to Lebanon after they failed to enter Syria.

Nick Watney wins CIMB Classic Golf 2012

October 28, 2012

Nick Watney wins CIMB Classic Golf 2012 with a Final Round Score of 61

By Patrick Johnston

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – American Nick Watney fired a brilliant 10-under-par 61  to overhaul compatriot Bo Van Pelt and win the $6.1 million CIMB Classic on Sunday as a brave run by Tiger Woods fell just short.

Watney started the day four back of overnight leaders Bo Van Pelt (66) and Robert Garrigus (66) but, after flirting with golf’s magical number 59, ended one ahead on 22-under 262 to win the Asian and PGA Tour co-sanctioned event in Malaysia.

Van Pelt, who double-bogeyed the last chasing a 59 in his third round on Saturday, failed to force a playoff when he could only par his final hole after hitting his approach into a greenside bunker.

The 31-year-old Watney, who won the PGA Tour’s Barclays Tournament in August, fired 11 birdies on the short and soggy Mines Golf Course, which proved an easy test for the 48-man field after a third consecutive day of preferred lies. Watney needed to birdie the last to shoot the rare 59, but he could only bogey the hole after a poor second to the par-four from the rough.

Woods hauled himself into contention with an eight-under 63 but had to settle for a three-way tie for fourth place, three behind Watney, and will rue a number of missed opportunities on the back nine when he was close enough to challenge the leaders.

(Editing by John O’Brien)

Your Weekend Entertainment

October 27, 2012

Your Weekend Entertainment

Aidil Adha is behind us. Enough of ketupat, lemang, asam laksa, rendang and other dishes that come when Muslims in Malaysia welcome this occasion and with one stroke, we have also been able to reduce the population of cows in our country, while Shahrizat and her family are battling in our court over the National Feedlot scandal. So let us put all that behind us momentarily as we welcome the Sabbath.

Hari Raya Haji 2012

For this purpose, we present Ronan Keating and Boyzone, Air Supply and the Stylistics. We hope you like what we have chosen for you this weekend.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Ronan Keating


With Boyzone

Air Supply

The Stylistics

Can Asia Beat Corruption?

October 27, 2012

Can Asia Beat Corruption?

by Tunku Abdul Aziz@http://www.nst.com.my

ON October 2, I was invited to participate in a televised debate on corruption, organised by Channel News Asia as part of its Bridging Asia: The Singapore Debates. The motion before the house was “Can Asia Beat Corruption?”

Professor Mark Thompson, director, Southeast Asian Research Centre at the City University, Hong Kong, teamed up with prominent Singapore anti-corruption lawyer Wilson Ang to try and convince a critical studio audience that Asia could lick corruption, citing cases of countries once at the bottom of the Transparency International Perceptions Index and today showing signs of improvement.

They drew comfort from, and put great store by, the fact that nearly all Asian countries had introduced anti-corruption laws. But they forgot to mention that a million anti-corruption laws would amount to nothing without strong, effective enforcement.

In those countries, and to some extent in Malaysia, enforcement continued to be derisory. Laws are of course required for defining public service behaviour: they are essential for creating institutions, but of themselves, “as a deterrent to unethical public behaviour”, are largely ineffective.

Ann Florini, Professor of Public Policy, School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University and I were not persuaded that Asia could confront corruption decisively because, unlike Singapore or Hong Kong, there was no evidence of strong political will emerging any time soon in much of Asia.

Good governance was totally absent in seriously corrupt societies where best practices were more observed in the breach than the observance. In such countries, corruption would continue to run its course with little or no prospect of even reducing it marginally.

I said that in the case of Singapore, which was once a very corrupt colonial backwater, if at the time of independence the city state was run by a bunch of crooks instead of Lee Kuan Yew, the course of its history might have been quite different.

Countries in Asia that managed their affairs well and supported their institutions, the likes of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia, while still wrestling with corruption at the national level, apparently had a better chance of reducing corruption substantially over a shorter time frame.

Ann Florini and I won the debate against worthy opponents. The verdict was that as long as Asia continued to pay lip service to fighting corruption in their societies, it would invariably be regarded as a profitable, low-risk enterprise. Corruption would be in robust good health.

Electronic voting was employed by those in the studio as well as those watching at home. I must say they do these things extremely well in Singapore, as indeed we have come to expect. I believe it is the institutions in which they worked that made the difference. Strong institutions produce highly motivated and competent people.

I remain unabashed and unrepentant in my complete support of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s national transformation programmes as I see in his initiatives a brave new approach to transparent and accountable governance for Malaysia, and not a day too soon.

Over the years, we have, largely by default, allowed unprincipled governance to take on a life of its own, with predictable consequences. These comprehensive transformation programmes, covering a whole range of critical social, economic, legislative and governance issues, once implemented, will help ensure for Malaysia a place of honour at the top table, among the “clean” nations of the world.

I am confident that as a result of these measures, we would be better armed and equipped to tackle the scourge of corruption head on. I am happy that the Najib administration has shown great moral strength to resist the temptation of turning the national transformation programmes into a political slogan: they are far too important for the long-term future of our nation to be trivialised and used as a political play thing.

They are not about scoring a political point. They are about getting the country out of its slumber, out of the rut and bouncing back with clear and transparent policies that will grow the economy, unite our people and ensure peace and harmony for all Malaysians.

The government should not be distracted by the mountains of lies and innuendoes spun without a break by the opposition “axis of evil”, with apologies to the junior Bush.

Najib must do whatever it takes legally to win big and win well to save the country from the clutches of unprincipled political adventurers, who, lacking experience, would be too risky a gamble to be allowed to govern this country.

Let me remind the Anwars and Guan Engs of this world that it is easier to destroy than to build.

Tiger Woods’ Third Round Charge stalled on Back Nine of Mines Course

October 27, 2012

Tiger Woods’ Third Round Charge stalled on Back Nine of Mines Course

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Tiger Woods found lakes, bunkers and cart paths to stall his third round charge up the CIMB Classic leaderboard on Saturday, as Bo Van Pelt grabbed a share of the lead after flirting with golf’s magical 59.

Defending champion Van Pelt double-bogeyed the last to sign for a nine-under-par 62 and sit at the top of the leaderboard on 16-under 197 alongside overnight front-runner Robert Garrigus (69), with Woods (69) a further five shots back in joint 10th.

Heavy rain in Malaysia led to a second day of preferred lies at the soggy Mines Golf Course, leaving the course exposed to supreme scoring with only five of the 48 players in the field going over par in their third round.

Woods had raced to the turn in 30 after five birdies and four pars but his round unraveled on the back nine as he dropped five shots to offset two more birdies on another stifling day in Kuala Lumpur.

“I made a couple of bad decisions, bad swings on top of that, just all-in-all made too many mistakes and on a golf course that is playing this benign, you can’t afford to do that,” Woods told reporters.

“I’m going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow, something similar like Bo did today, but probably being this far back, I’m going to need some help, a great round tomorrow might not win that’s the only problem.”

Starting the day five behind Garrigus, Woods roared out of the blocks, holing a 12 foot birdie putt from the fringe on the short par-four first as he finally found some form with the short stick after two days of struggles.

Four further birdies came by the eighth as he raced to 14-under and held the lead on his own in the PGA and Asian Tour co-sanctioned event, which will become an official tournament on the American circuit next year.

However, the rest of the field were also taking advantage of the ideal conditions and Woods was joined at the top by four others at one stage, including Van Pelt, who had started the day seven back but turned in 29 to make up the gap.

Van Pelt added further birdies at 10, 11 and 12 to make it five in a row as he moved two ahead of Woods and set up the chance of joining the likes of David Duval, Chip Beck and Stuart Appleby in the 59-club.

While Van Pelt (left) charged, Woods was enduring a difficult start to the back nine as he lost his second shot to the par-five 11th way right, the ball bouncing off the cart path and finishing up with an awkward lie on a bank.

Standing on the path, Woods chipped down to 20 foot but missed his birdie effort and he also failed to get up-and-down from the edge of the green on the next hole, missing a slippery downhill four-footer for par to drop his first shot of the day.

After rolling in a straight 15 foot effort for birdie on the par-four 13th, Woods’ approach to the par-three 14th came up short and rolled down the bank into the lake, leading to a double bogey after a duffed chip.

Woods rattled in a 20 footer for birdie on 15 but he dropped another at the par-three 16th after failing to get up and down from the bunker and then three-putted 17 for bogey after missing a short putt.

Van Pelt had few such worries on 16 as he rolled in his 10th birdie putt of the day on the hole, before narrowly missing a lengthy eagle putt at 17, when his curling effort across the green at the par-five just brushed the edge of the hole.

Needing a birdie at the last for the magical but unofficial 59 due to the preferred lie rule, Van Pelt drove through the fairway to the left of the tee before plonking his approach to the par-four in the bunker right of the green.

A poor, escape and heavy chip shot left a six-foot bogey effort which lipped out to end his sparkling round in disappointing fashion.

“Obviously disappointing to finish with a double, but I look back on the 17-and-a-half holes I played well, and you know, hopefully that will carry over into tomorrow – not the last half,” Van Pelt told reporters.

(Editing by John O’Brien)

1 candidate-1 seat: Reprising the arguments

October 27, 2012

1 candidate-1 seat: Reprising the arguments

by Terence Netto (10-26-12)@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT It appears the DAP has opted for a stance of prevarication on the issue of ‘one candidate, one seat’ which was the recommendation of its chairperson Karpal Singh some time ago.

Karpal’s suggestion wasn’t exactly aimed at paring down the threat of warlordism by state barons so much as augmenting the chances of election to the legislature of a wider array of the party’s members, the numbers of whom would inevitably rise as a result of the DAP’s success in administering Penang and the performance of its MPs in the federal legislature.

Karpal’s recommendation that the party adopt the one-candidate-one-seat policy for the 13th general election, with a justifiable exemption for secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, had all to do with increased opportunity and effective performance.

This was before the rise of warlordism in some sectors of the party, a phenomenon that, if not checked early, would harm the party down the road.

Judging from what DAP national vice-chairperson and Penang chief Chow Kon Yeow  said in Penang two days ago, the party had already decided, in a lengthy discussion on the matter earlier this year, that it cannot place a blanket ban on dual representation as there may be exceptional circumstances in Sabah and Sarawak where a shortage of candidates may compel the doubling up of the available few for both state and parliamentary seats.

Fair enough. Sabah and Sarawak may present the party with exceptional conditions wherein a candidate may have to double up, but on the peninsula the situation, except for Johor where Dr Boo Cheng Hau is the odds-on favorite to add the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat to his Skudai state incumbency, is clear-cut: dual representation, safe for Lim, would be a cramp on the party rather than a catalyst for its expansion.

From what Chow said, proposals for dual representation would be decided on a case-by-case basis, which is as good as saying that there will be no hard and fast rule to decide who can and who cannot vie for dual representation.

This way of deciding a matter as critically important as dual representation, on the peninsula at least, opens the leadership to charges of favouritism and sundry other criticisms.

Better not to pretend there is a policy discouraging dual representation than to make a hash of its implementation.

Largest bloc of MPs

The virtue in a bar on dual representation, on the peninsula especially, is that it will inhibit the growth of territorial barons, or warlords, in the party.

Such a check is necessary for the racial diversification of the party’s membership that is Chinese-dominated and wanting to get away from that image.

Embryonic warlords in the party are all seen as Chinese chauvinists which is why a bar on dual representation, especially on the peninsula, would, besides enhancing representational effectiveness, enjoy the additional advantage of checking the power of self-aggrandising barons.

It is not improbable that among the opposition Pakatan Rakyat parties, the DAP would emerge as the component with the largest share of parliamentary seats when the results of the 13th general election are in.

This is certain to draw from Malay chauvinists the ‘I told you so’ warning that they have been striving, thus far without apparent success, to get across to the Malays – that division among them would engender Chinese economic power and political assertiveness. Grist for this fear mongering would be supplied by the presence in DAP of warlords.

Thus a bar on dual representation, especially on the peninsula, would be a preemptive move against the emergence of the bogeys that the Malaysian nation must free itself from if it is to emerge into a new era where the Gordian knot of race and religion no longer impose their stultifying constraints on the body politic.

There is an additional reason why the imposition of a bar on dual representation, on the peninsula particularly, would speed more than stymie the DAP.

Orthodox elements in PAS

It’s no longer wise to sustain the pretence that when and if Pakatan takes over Putrajaya, and in the event that the DAP has the largest bloc of MPs, it will just be a matter of time before the orthodox element in PAS would push for the implementation of syariah.

True, the item is not on Pakatan’s Common Policy Framework and cannot be implemented without consensus among the three parties that compose the present opposition front. Still, orthodox elements in PAS would push for it. Not to do so would be akin to wishing that rivers flow uphill.

DAP would not be able to depend on the Muslims of PKR to lead the reasoned effort at dissuading PAS from something that is not advisable for a multi-racial, multi-religious society.

Orthodox PAS would inevitably push; DAP would have to politely but firmly dissuade.  That effort would be less arduous if the DAP does not have within its ranks warlords whose presence would stoke the bogeys in the Malay mind against which syariah implementation would be seen as a bulwark.

On the Islamic State

October 27, 2012

On the Islamic State

by Azril Mohd Amin(10-25-12)@www.malaysiakini.com

President Sukarno, Founding Father of Indonesia, was in Central Kalimantan on one occasion, directing the design of Palangkaraya to become the capital of the entire republic.

His design is still on the board, and there is recent debate whether to move the entire governmental structure to that location.

All three Islamic-based political parties have suffered losses in recent parliamentary elections. Furthermore, government workers complain bitterly at the overcrowding in present-day Jakarta.

Sukarno chose Palangkaraya to take the ‘leadership spotlight’ off of the Javanese who had ruled much of the area for many centuries.

The local ethnic and religious mix there was quite varied, and so he took the occasion to deliver an infamous speech in which he declared that Indonesia must NEVER be an Islamic state, and the Indonesian government absolutely insists that Indonesia (under the state ideology known as “Pancasila”) is an entirely secular government.

Kalimantan would have been a good location to get the “spotlight” off Islam as the dominant force in the modern-day republic, if that is what the Indonesians really want.

The long-term effects of using “Pancasila” to replace Islam as a value and ideology base have been bitterly debated for a long time. President Suharto effectively ended the debate by defining Pancasila as the ONLY legal basis for Indonesian governance and law.

One religious teacher of my personal acquaintance was actually buried in the ground up to his head and fed only water for two weeks, in punishment for teaching his students that Pancasila was unIslamic.

What has been the result of this Pancasila deliberate displacement of Islam?Aesthetically, the Islamic majority of Indonesia is quite hidden compared to Malaysia, as one can see in the totally secular design of Jakarta architecture, as well as such phenomena as no tudung at all on TV. If a Martian suddenly landed in downtown Jakarta, he might have no idea what sort of country he was in.

Locals justify the lack of Islamisation of their city environment by saying that according to the principles of Pancasila, the non-Muslim Indonesians must not be offended by Islamic design and practice in public areas.

Even the national Istiqlal Mosque was designed by a Christian architect with a central dome supported by the “magic Christian number” of twelve columns.

A large part of Malaysia’s recent successes in the modern world are due to government support of Islamic style and practice, in spite of these policies causing such dread and fear in the non-Muslim countries, obviously due to lack of proper understanding and media stereotypes about Islam.

Islamic policies give our people pride and self-esteem, thanks to the genius of those who were not afraid to position Islam as the religion of the federation.

The implications brought about by this special position were in fact once translated into real policies used to be protected by our caliph in Istanbul, but must now be re-acquired, sometimes painfully, Islamic state-by-state.

In fact, a truly enduring model of Islamic governance was the brilliant Abbasid reign in Andalusia (modern Spain), which lasted almost 700 years. And the downfall of that model was exacerbated by the incredibly “dirty fighting” of the Catholics, Isabella and Ferdinand, king and queen at that time.

If you insisted that God was One, these monarchs created the Inquisition to torture you until you declared “God is Three”.

With their plunder literally stolen from the Andalusian Muslims, Isabella funded Columbus’ discovery of America, with its following model of freemasonic secular governance in the USA. His voyage took place in 1492, the exact same year as the final fall of the Muslims at Granada, in their battles to preserve the Andalusian Muslim legacy.

As has refreshingly been pointed out by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Malaysia has never been declared a secular nation and the federal constitution made no mention of the word ‘secular’.

And even if we prefer not to call Malaysia an “Islamic state” due to the loaded content of that phrase, and also due to the considerable variety of definitions of “Islamic state” in the different Islamic legal schools of thought, we are still nevertheless engaged in the critical task of forming a Muslim polity that need not bow down to the mobilisation of Western secular forces, such as the United Nations.

We are in fact attempting to form a model of a state following the constitutionally enshrined religion of Islam, which can help the entire Muslim world to resist the secular aspects of western liberalisation (for example, the LGBT demands for legal and public recognition), as well as make up for the hundreds of colonial years after the 1492 fall of Andalusia, during which Islam’s undeniable enlightenment in the arts and sciences was hijacked by the secular west.

And so, it is up to Malaysia more than any other Muslim country to create at least some implementation that would most closely approximate the Ummah we originally had under the Prophet himself (may Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him) in multi-racial Madinah Al-Munawwarah.

Malaysia is struggling manfully to strike this balance. We can be justifiably proud of our downtown area and its peoples, which no Martian would mistake for anything other than a Muslim city.

We can find tudung galore, as well as many calls-to-prayer and other religious reminders for Muslims on the public media.Yet, although the 35 percent non-Muslim citizenry worries much about “hudud” and even sometimes the Azan being too loud from their local mosques, they prosper. They do not care to return to their ancestral countries.

Instead of complaining that the balance is not right this way or that, we should give thanks to Almighty Allah SWT that our country is really the only one in the world that is trying to achieve this balance in a fair-minded and Islamic way, which still requires fairness to all religious practices within her borders.

What matters most is the spirit to achieve the actual Islamic practice which has been and will be ongoing in our country’s daily governmental, legal, and public lives.

AZRIL MOHD AMIN is Vice-President, Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia.

Ali Hamsa touts Malaysia’s PPP Model in India

October 26, 2012

Ali Hamsa touts Malaysia’s PPP Model in India

Bernama reports:

The public-private partnerships (PPP) initiative,  one of the major transformational approaches in the public sector in Malaysia, has worked well for the country’s development, says Chief Secretary to the Government Dato’ Seri Dr. Ali Hamsa.

The PPP model allows government allocation for development projects to be reduced and it can shift its attention to projects that will be implemented and funded by the private sector.

“The PPP experience has shown that truly business is no longer usual. It has also enriched both the public and the private sector, especially by sharing of best practices,” he said at the biennial conference of the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management. His presentation was titled “Reaffirming the Public Service Ethos: The Malaysian Experience”.

“Within a short period of time PPP has become a major mode of private sector driven financing for development projects,” said Ali. In just two years, it has attracted RM65 billion in private investment.

He said while government contracting with the private sector is not new, the emergence of public-private partnership as a form of policy implementation and service delivery was a new development for Malaysia.

“PPPs present new challenges in terms of contract specification, accountability arrangements and governance mechanisms,” he said.

Ali also said the Public-Private Partnership Unit (UKAS), which leads PPP implementation, has taken proactive steps to enhance integrity within its organisation.

Among the major functions of UKAS is to manage the Facilitation Fund, negotiating concession terms and conditions for PPP and the Facilitation Fund and implementing value management process.

UKAS has put in place specific measures to ensure that its function, roles and activities are implemented transparently and with integrity and, adhered to all specified regulations, he added. — Bernama

CIMB Bank Golf 2012: Garrigus take the lead but Tiger lurks

October 26, 2013

CIMB Bank Golf Classics 2012: Garrigus takes the lead but Tiger lurks

By John Pye — AP Sports Writer

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Robert Garrigus shot a 7-under-par 64 to take a two-stroke lead ahead of Jbe’ Kruger, who upstaged Tiger Woods in their second-round pairing at the CIMB Classic on Friday.

Garrigus at the 18th Tee, Mines Golf Resort, Kuala Lumpur

Garrigus was at 14-under 128 after two rounds. After starting the day in second spot at 7 under, the American golfer got as low as 15 under before leaving his par putt just short on the 18th hole for his only bogey of the round.

Kruger (left), playing his first competitive round with Woods, pumped his right arm after each of his eight birdies in a round that contained only one bogey amid the soggy conditions at the Mines Resort and Golf Club. He had a 64 and was 12 under, two shots clear of Australia’s Greg Chalmers (69) and overnight leader Troy Matteson, who followed his opening 63 with 69.

Woods carded a 67 and was tied for fifth at 9 under with Kevin Na (66) and Zimbabwe’s Brendon De Jonge (65).

While Woods is predicting a total of better than 20 under to win the $6.1 million tournament, Garrigus is setting his sights much higher.

“I’m going to try to get to 30 if I can, if that’s possible,” he said, adding that in his first tournament of the year he was 6 over after eight holes and played the next 54 holes at 32-under par. “So I can do it. I just need to do it on the weekend when it counts.

“No disrespect to anybody on the PGA Tour, they’re all great players, but I feel like I can beat anybody in the world.”

Kruger only slipped up once, at the 12th, and took no chances on the 18th when he decided to putt from off the green instead of using his pitching wedge to have a better shot at a par.

The South African had a double-bogey on 18 in the opening round after getting into contention at 7 under at the 17th.

“I think playing with (Woods) definitely made me concentrate a bit harder,” Kruger said. “That is one thing I’ve been lacking the last couple of months, so I think I want to play with him every day.”

It was hot and humid for the second consecutive day and, with the course still damp after a heavy tropical storm the previous evening, the PGA Tour allowed preferred lies so that players could lift, clean and place muddy balls in the closely mown areas through the green.

Garrigus didn’t encounter any serious problems with the course or conditions, with a run of four consecutive birdies from the seventh hole and another four from the 12th to the 17th holes. He has one win on the tour, in 2010, and had seven top-10 finishes this year in a breakthrough season.

Tiger Woods and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak at CIMB Golf Classics 2012

Woods narrowly missed with his putter for the second straight day, but this time he said it was because he wasn’t hitting his irons into the right spots, leaving him with tough downhill, across-the-green putts.

Despite being five shots off the lead, he’s confident he can make up the ground.”I feel good about it,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out there and make a bunch of birdies. The golf course can be had, especially if we have ball in hand like we did today.It’s wet. It’s a little bit muddy … (but) it can be had out there. I just have to get after it tomorrow, where at least I have a chance going into Sunday.”

Both bogeys in Woods’ round followed wayward tee shots. At the fourth he sliced right and landed near four parked vans and a row of public toilets, then hit his second shot into a muddy bank near the left front of the green. He had a tough lie where it sloped down to a lake, and asked for a rules official to examine it before chipping on in a spray of dirt.

At the 12th, he hit into a thick, grassy bank on the right of the fairway, got on to the green in three and stared blankly as his par putt shaved the outside of the cup.

In between was a classic chip from off the green at the seventh that made him smile for the first time in his round. “That was nice! It looked like I was going to go the other way,” he said. “I jerked a nine iron over to the left – you shouldn’t miss a green with a nine iron that bad – but I hit a really good shot and it trickled in like a putt, which was nice.”

Woods’ group is one shot ahead of three Americans at 7 under, including 2010 champion Ben Crane, 2011 runner-up Jeff Overton and Brian Harman.

South Africa’s Trevor Immelman had the low round of the day with a 63 to move into a share of 11th place with defending champion Bo Van Pelt. Nick Watney improved by six strokes in his second round by firing a 65 to move to 6 under, but Justin Dufner was 2 over in his second round, 12 strokes behind.

Communal Violence threatens Reforms in Myanmar

October 26, 2012

Communal Violence threatens Reforms in Myanmar

by AFP/Channel News Asia

SITTWE, Myanmar: At least 112 people have been killed and thousands of homes torched in communal violence in western Myanmar, casting a shadow over the reformist government’s attempts to remake the country’s international image.

People have fled their homes in droves following the latest clashes in Rakhine state, which was rocked by communal violence in June that split communities and left tens of thousands of mainly Muslim Rohingya living in camps.

“Up until this morning, 51 men and 61 women have died,” a spokesman for Rakhine state Win Myaing said, doubling an earlier toll. The dead were from both ethnic Rakhine and the Rohingya, he added, while scores more were wounded as violence engulfed four townships.

More than 200 people have now been killed in the state since June, according to the authorities, who have imposed emergency rule in the face of continued explosive tension in the region.

The United Nations responded to the bloodshed on Friday with a stark warning that Myanmar’s reforms are under threat from the continued unrest between ethnic Rakhine and the Rohingya. “The vigilante attacks, targeted threats and extremist rhetoric must be stopped,” a spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement released in Yangon.

“If this is not done… the reform and opening up process being currently pursued by the government is likely to be jeopardised.”

President Thein Sein has been widely praised for overseeing sweeping reforms in the former military-ruled nation, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.

But the Rakhine violence poses a stern challenge to the reform process. State media on Friday took the rare step of acknowledging the damage the resurgent violence is causing to the nation’s image at a pivotal moment in its transition from authoritarian rule.

The violence comes as the “international community is watching”, a statement signed by the President’s Office said in government mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar.

Myanmar’s 800,000 Rohingya are seen as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh by the government and many Myanmar citizens — who call them “Bengalis”.

The latest violence, which prompted Myanmar’s main Islamic organisations to cancel celebrations for the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday that began on Friday, is seen as a serious challenge to the government.

Washington joined the United Nations to swiftly condemn the violence, with US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland urging both sides “to exercise restraint and immediately halt all attacks”.

Security has been stepped up in affected areas, including around the state’s main tourist attraction of Mrauk U and Kyaukpyu, where a major pipeline to transport Myanmar gas to China begins.

Tun Tun, an ethnic Rakhine resident in Mrauk U contacted by AFP from Yangon said the situation in his township had calmed on Friday. “The situation is calm now. We heard that more security forces were sent from Sittwe (the state capital) to Mrauk U,” he said, adding some shops have been closed since violence flared.

AFP journalists visiting Rakhine just before the renewed unrest saw thousands of Rohingya trapped behind barbed wire and armed guards in a ghetto in the centre of the capital.Tens of thousands more are housed in camps beyond the city limits as segregation between the two communities becomes more pronounced.

The stateless Rohingya, speaking a Bengali dialect similar to one in neighbouring Bangladesh, have long been considered by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities on the planet.

Bangladesh on Thursday mobilised extra patrols along its river border with Myanmar amid reports of dozens of boats carrying Rohingya refugees fleeing the clashes.

Dhaka drew criticism from the UN after it turned back boatloads of Rohingya, mainly women and children, after the June violence. But the nation said it would not accept any new refugees because it was already dealing with an estimated 300,000 Rohingya.

The UN’s refugee arm has said it fears large numbers of Rohingya will attempt the perilous sea journey south over the coming weeks to escape violence in Rakhine and the sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh.

- AFP/ck/al

One Man’s Political Insecurity : 1987 Operation Lalang

October 26, 2o12

One Man’s Political Insecurity : 1987 Operation Lalang

by Lim Kit Siang@http://www.malaysiakini.com

MP SPEAKS Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Lalang which brought about the  darkest days for democracy and human rights in the nation’s history.

ops lalang 261005 watan front pageThere was not only the arrest of 106 Malaysians, including opposition leaders – 16 of whom were from the DAP, including MPs and state assemblypersons – trade unionists, social activists, academics, environmentalists, Chinese educationists and religious workers.

There was also the wholesale attacks on press freedom with the closure of three newspapers, the merciless attacks on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law resulting in the sacking of the Lord President and two Supreme Court judges and the series  of undemocratic legislation which caused a tectonic shift in the Malaysian political landscape, subordinating the legislative and judicial branches to the executive or to be more exact to the fiat of  one person, the Prime Minister of the day.

The Government Transformation Programme of Prime Minister Najib Razak has promised to make Malaysia “the best democracy of the world”, but after more than 42 months of his premiership, Malaysia falls far short of the conditions to be a “normal democracy” let alone the “world’s best democracy”.

ops lalang 261005 star front pageThis is illustrated by the refusal by the prime minister and the ruling UMNO-BN coalition to make a public commitment that they would fully accept the verdict of the voters in the 13th general election and would peacefully and smoothly transfer federal  power to Pakatan Rakyat if this is the verdict of the Malaysian electorate in the ballot box.

It is clear that a change of government at the national level, for the first time in 55 years, is needed to undo all the ravages and adverse effects of the 25-year Operation Lalang on democracy, human rights and the national institutions – whether it be the restoration of a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law; the unshackling of executive usurpation of powers of Parliament and the judiciary.

Or whether it be the flourishing of a free and responsible media and the fundamental rights of freedom of speech, expression and information; proper checks and balance mechanisms to end corruption and abuses of power; and the restoration to all national institutions their impartiality, independence and professionalism.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Operation Lalang, let all Malaysians reaffirm their resolve to undo all the ravages of the Operation Lalang catastrophe in 1987, by a united effort to strengthen democracy, human rights and national institutions so that there could be no recurrence of a Operation Lalang in future by voting solidly for a national change of government in the coming general election.