Islam and the fate of others


By Rusman

Given the lack of faith placed in the scholarship of any official Islamic religious body in Malaysia people may find it a better use of their time to educate themselves and spend more time on self-reflection rather than pointing fingers at people during a moment of grief and mourning.  It would be the Ghazzalian thing to do.

From the Ph.D. dissertation of Mohammad Hassan Khalil entitled “MUSLIM SCHOLARLY DISCUSSIONS ON SALVATION AND THE FATE OF ‘OTHERS” also published as a book on Amazon here and PDF of dissertation available here.

In sum, by examining the works of certain highly influential medieval and modern Muslim scholars of various theological backgrounds [al-Ghazali, ibn Arabi,  Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah, Rashid Rida], we find that the discourse on salvation and the fate of ‘Others’ involves a limited array of recurring themes, particularly the two themes of Divine mercy (rahmah), which is often associated with God’s unlimited volition, and the significance of Muhammad’s Message, which is often associated with human submission and Divine justice. Even so, the conclusions put forth by these scholars are radically different in certain regards. All are utilizing most of the same texts (the exceptions being a handful of hadiths which usually function to supplement a particular argument), emphasizing the same themes, and yet, because of variations in hermeneutic strategies and motivations, we find that these texts allow for the kind of variation that makes the often monolithic characterizations put forth by numerous scholars a demonstration of apologetic reassessment, polemical over-simplification, or intellectual laziness. Indeed, a recognition of this discourse is necessary for those of us who seek to be conscious of the spectrum of scholarly readings of Islamic scripture. Indeed, we would do well to avoid simply echoing a single side of a particular debate,
even if that side represents the majority.

I will conclude as I began, by asking the question, “What does Islam say about the fate of ‘Others’?” Whatever the answer may be, I hope that the present study demonstrates, at the very least, that we should avoid the very trap many scholars have fallen into, and that is providing one-dimensional responses, whether it be with regard to the issue of salvation on the Day of Judgment, the issue of eternal punishment, or both. Indeed, a deeper appreciation of the rich diversity of possibilities is in order.”

 

 

The Faithful Aide: Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu


April 18, 2014

The Faithful Aide: Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu

by Bernama

Karpal

The name Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu may not be as famous as the man he was serving – renowned lawyer Karpal Singh – but his sacrifice will remain in the annals of Malaysian history for his devotion to his boss.

It would be suffice to say that Michael was literally the man behind Karpal, since the 39-year-old, would push his boss around in his wheelchair wherever he went, including to Parliament.

Bukit Gelugor MP and former DAP chairman Karpal Singh, 73, died in a car accident on the North-South Expressway this morning near Gua Tempurung, Kampar together with his long-serving personal assistant Michael.

Karpal’s daughter Sangeet Kaur Deo said Michael was a “faithful servant to his master” and stayed with him even in death.

Hailing from Vellore, Tamil Nadu in southern India, Michael leaves behind a wife, a son and a daughter while his body is expected to be flown back to India for burial. – Bernama, April 17, 2014.

OBITUARY by Steve Oh

The Tiger of Jelutong will roar no more as a sombre silence falls upon Malaysia at the death of a loved son.

News of the sudden tragic death of veteran DAP leader, parliamentarian and litigation lawyer Karpal Singh has sent shockwaves across the country and fans of the affable Karpal around the world into a state of mourning.

His admirers are found everywhere, those who respected and loved this rare individual and irreplaceable man, the true ‘people’s politician’ and a lawyer for those with lost hope and a last resort for justice, who defended the underdogs and victims of injustice. They all, friends and strangers alike, will be in silent grief and like I feel, a sense of  loss and grieve with Karpal’s family.

Who would have imagined a man who has saved so many lives from the gallows, from convicted drug offenders to a condemned 14-year-old Chinese boy convicted for possession of a firearm, who survived a car accident that confined him to a wheelchair since 2005, would succumb to a horrific vehicle collision on the North-South Expresswayway at 1.30am while all of us were safe and sound asleep.

The man who took seven years to finish his law studies because he was ‘playful’ by his own admission, who showed early signs of political prowess while a student leader at the University of Singapore, leaves behind a gap that no one can fill.

Though dead, Karpal will still speak through the legacy he left behind. We all die some day but it is what we live for that we will be best remembered, unless you are Jesus Christ whose death and resurrection remembered this Easter weekend is the rare exception.

Karpal, the man of struggle for justice, lived a life of struggle for others. His was not a life in vain pursuit and personal aggrandisement but for the social justice he believed in and fought for others in a country that denied basic justice to all that fell foul of those in power and dysfunctional and corrupt public institutions and politicians. The political ideals of justice he stood for will be the nation’s living inheritance.

Defender of the defenceless

Karpal’s tenacity to see justice done was evident when he laboured on to clear Australian Kevin Barlow of his drug trafficking conviction even after his execution.

This defender of the defenceless, often ‘the little man’, and ‘a friend to the oppressed and marginalised’ as he was renown, lived for the country he loved and at a time when someone of his age should have been in bed at home and asleep, he was instead on his way to Penang to attend court, presumably, to defend someone and was killed in the course of duty.

He died as he lived – striving for someone regardless of race, religion or rank. He lived out his convictions and proved he was no mere talker but doer. To my mind, Karpal is a national icon and a national hero, a paradigm of national character – the ultimate and unrivalled battler for all Malaysians and a better country.

He has not lived to see his vision realised and hope deferred makes the heart sick. Those who loved him must do more for without him the load becomes heavier, the hill steeper and the challenge more formidable.

But if Malaysians have his heart for justice, nothing will stand in their way and they will triumph as overcomers of evil and corruption, and Karpal would have been happy and proud.

Malaysia would have been a worse place without Karpal and those drunk with power would have succeeded in their excessive ways and got away unchallenged with their abuses of power if he had not been there to check them by his intrepid acts of political and personal bravery.

His parliamentary life was colourful and controversial and when you have many parliamentarians suffering from ‘foot in mouth’ disease, it was not surprising he once aptly called an offensive fellow parliamentarian, “the bigfoot from Kinabatangan”. He received as much as he gave.

His life and career should be studied by all aspiring Malaysians and even my father who once in siding with the late Penang chief minister Dr Lim Chong Eu, as his political party stalwart and friend, had expressed a moment of disdain for  Karpal in the 70s but was immediately saddened when I broke the news to him.

Like many of us, he had been won over by Karpal’s acts of selfless service to the people over the ensuing years. Undaunted, Karpal laboured and remained true to the same cause and far be it for us to desert him in his death. We must put our hands to the cart that Karpal and all civic-minded Malaysians had pushed all these years.

He was a “capable and clever man”, my father lamented. And I know who he would have voted for had Karpal stood in his electorate. Our sense of justice should outweigh the affiliation to any group or anyone who is unjust. We betray ourselves when we dampen our conscience to injustice.

But more than the activist he was, Karpal was a man who stood up for principles however unpopular and did not capitulate to political expediency or compromised his convictions. This he proved consistently in his stand against his country being turned unconstitutionally into Mahathir Mohamad’s queer idea of a political Islamic state in flagrant contempt of the country’s secular constitution.

That was classic Karpal. And above all, he never sold himself to the highest bidder in a country ruined by the corruption he often lambasted. He was the honest fighter, he fought in the open ring of political combat with no holds barred, unlike those who claim to fight the fight in the arms of the powers-that-be ‘from within’ and be seduced by their courts of pleasure and become virtually ineffective.

How can we honour his memory?

What is Karpal’s legacy to us all? How can we honour his memory as he would have liked? What is the best way to vindicate all that Karpal stood and lived for? How do we keep it going for the man who started it all, who made opposition politics the crucial preparation for government?

We all individually and collectively must focus on what matters most – the deliverance of justice – the heartbeat of Karpal’s life and labour – to all Malaysians and deliver the country from its bondage to corruption and abuse of power.

In a nutshell we all, whoever or wherever we are, regardless of our backgrounds, must strive for the political and social change that Karpal gave his life to seeing when he went into politics to save his country.

Anything short of a change in a government that Karpal gave his life to achieve would be seen by him as a betrayal to the vision of a just and free Malaysia.  Karpal saw his country in this pernicious grip.

A corrupt government is bad governance and bad governance means suffering and strife for the country. Bad governance is anathema to all citizens and corrupt politicians are the collective public enemy and bane of the nation. Karpal did not say those exact words but better still he lived out his life to destroy the malaise described.

Karpal started life in Penang and began his double vocation in law and politics with an innate sense of justice. His passion saw him get into trouble with those who had become the people’s enemies by their immoral and unjust conduct.

The son of a humble Punjabi watchman and part-time herdsman, whose father emigrated to Penang from India in 1920, he believed there will be no justice until Malaysia is a country where everyone is treated equally under the law.

He believed in the DAP’s ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ political dogma and extolled the country’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman for promoting racial unity. He criticised the special impunity of the hereditary rulers under the original constitution that were subsequently removed.

He put conviction into action by throwing himself into politics in 1970 after the May 13, 1969 riots. I  had the privilege of meeting Karpal at the state funeral of the late Dr Lim Chong Eu. It was a fleeting moment, he gave me a smile, and I shook his hand, as he was pushed past by in his wheelchair, and in that passing moment I was able to intuitively see what a kind and generous person he was, as first impressions can sometimes prove true and lasting.

There was none of the air of self-importance that I find in other dignitaries and politicians I have met and as with the late Irene Fernandez, I regret not having made the effort to learn more about a fellow Penangite and great human being and to spend time to get to know more of such a rare personage.

Who would not have benefitted from meeting someone of Karpal’s stature, to learn from his struggles and achievements? I hope someone will do a story of his life in documentary as a public service to all Malaysians.

No one can do him harm

In the ensuing days, the accolades and obituaries will flow and none will do justice to a true son of the nation who was unfairly and cruelly imprisoned under the notorious now repealed ISA, charged for sedition several times, and even threatened with a silver bullet in a death threat.

The vicissitudes in the life of Karpal who has dared to sue a Malaysian king, a sultan and just about anyone in the public interest has resulted in a man we can salute with utter pride and admiration. Without fear or favour is a phrase reserved for a man like him.

Karpal is no more in the political arena. He leaves a couple of sons in politics to soldier on. But he leaves his nation the priceless legacy of a true patriot, a true son of the nation, and a true lawyer beyond the call of the written law and elusive justice.

Indeed Karpal to many of us will be the missing ‘towering Malaysian’ that cannot be found in the government that coined the phrase.

His incomparable life in law and politics has no equal in Malaysia and indeed there ought to be a Hall of Fame for the sons and daughters of the country like him.

He may be known as the ‘Tiger of Jelutong’ having served that constituency for five terms but his life and achievements are larger than such a parochial title, given him after he told MIC’s S Samy Vellu, “he could be the lion, and I could be the tiger, because there are no lions in Malaysia.”

No lions indeed except in the zoo.
 
Karpal is the ‘Tiger of Justice’ and his life given to seek justice for his clients and his country has earned him a place in history that will stay with us forever.

The nation weeps with Karpal’s family but we are comforted that his enemies can do him no more to harm or spuriously charge him in court and send him to prison unjustly. Karpal Singh lived for Malaysia.

Let Malaysians remember him and honour him by making justice flow like a river and deliver the country from its bondage to corruption and injustice. That must be his living legacy – the passion to seek justice for the nation and something for all Malaysians to emulate.


STEVE OH is author and composer of the novel and musical ‘Tiger King of the Golden Jungle’.

Penang to give Karpal official send-off


The Penang government will provide veteran lawmaker Karpal Singh an official send off.
The Penang government will provide veteran lawmaker Karpal Singh an official send off.

April 17, 2014

A Tribute to The Tiger of Jelutong:

Legacy of the ‘Tiger of Jelutong’ will endure

by Aimee Gulliver @www.malaysiakini.com

  • Cowards die many times before their deaths;
    The valiant never taste of death but once.
    Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
    It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
    Seeing that death, a necessary end,
    Will come when it will come.

    • Julius Caesar Act II, scene 2, line 33.

Karpal Singh’s story may have come to an abrupt end this morning, but the author of his biography says the legacy of the ‘Tiger of Jelutong’ will endure in Malaysia, where he was a warrior in the fight for equality and justice.

image

New Zealand journalist Tim Donoghue first met Karpal in Penang in 1987 and spent nearly 30 years researching the biography he wrote on the fearless lawyer and advocate, titled “Karpal Singh – Tiger of Jelutong”, which was published in 2013.

“I’ve done a few things in journalism, but I’m particularly proud of that because this man was the ultimate scrapper, but he had a sense of humour,” Donoghue said.

“The things he had to deal with, the life and death issues that he had to deal with, he smiled his way through them all, and he helped a lot of people out along the way. There was always that great twinkle in his eyes, and you just knew that no matter what anyone was ever going to throw at that guy, he was never going to kow-tow to any man.”

Karpal and his aide Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu, 39, were killed in a road accident about 1.10 this morning near Kampar in Perak. The former DAP chairperson’s sudden departure has shocked the nation, and elicated a flood of eulogies from both sides of the political divide.

His death comes as the 74-year-old was gearing up to appeal his recent conviction for sedition that was cross-appealed by the government, which is seeking have the wheelchair-bound politician jailed.

Karpal

“I don’t think the legal system has brought any great credit upon itself by convicting this man of sedition.“I think that is something that those in the ruling political and legal establishment of Malaysia do need to think about.”, Donoghue said.

The government’s persecution of the man who stood up and fought for human rights in Malaysia had made a martyr out of him, Donoghue said.

“Now that Karpal has gone to his death under threat of imprisonment for this sedition charge, I think he will be a great rallying point come the next election – there will be a huge groundswell of support among the opposition parties in the country.”

A long line of challenges

Karpal’s conviction for sedition was just the latest in a long line of challenges for the “Sikh warrior in legal attire”. “Back when he was 65, after the car accident, most people said he was gone. Even his best friends, with the best intentions in the world, were saying it would have been a far more merciful end if he had died at that time.”

“But the Tiger of Jelutong had a message for those who doubted him.

“He suffered a huge amount of pain as a result of that accident, but he vowed, with the help of his family, to get back out there into the realm of both politics and the law in Malaysia and to keep challenging those in power.”

“Karpal continued his work, and some of his most notable achievements came in the years following his debilitating accident”, Donoghue said.

“After his car accident, his life was totally shattered. But I do think he did his best work, both in the law and in politics, in the seven or eight years that he had after his accident. He did some amazing things in his life. “He would say to me, ‘retirement is not a word in my dictionary’. And the reason I think he hung on was as a result of the pain he suffered because of that accident.”

Donoghue said the manner of Karpal’s death could be considered a merciful release in some ways, but his family would not agree.

Backed by family, every step of the way

“Every step of the way they backed him, they fought with him, and they lifted and laid him. They fought to keep him going.” It was with the support of his family, and his devoted assistant Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu, 39, who was also killed in this morning’s accident, that Karpal was able to continue his work after the 2005 accident.

“Michael gave his life for this man. He worked around the clock, 24 hours a day, just to support Karpal, and the whole family is very, very, grateful for the job he has done.

“Everything Karpal has done in the last few years has been with the support of (his wife) Gurmit Kaur and Michael. They’ve kept him going, really.”

When he came to Malaysia to launch Karpal’s biography in 2013, Donoghue said he could tell Karpal was extremely proud of what he had achieved in his life.

“Basically, his legacy is one of uncompromising challenge to human rights on a number of fronts throughout his 40-plus years in legal practice.

“I suppose what endeared him to me was he challenged, he challenged, he challenged – and he did it in such a way that everybody enjoyed the trip.”

Although he was an eminently patient man, Donoghue said, Karpal would occasionally get frustrated with him, and ask when the book would be completed.

“I would tell him we would finish when he gave me an ending. We had the final ending this morning, and I think Karpal Singh will go down as one of the great warriors of the Malaysian legal and political fraternities.”

“He was a man who, as long as he had breath going into his lungs, was always going to fight. And in the wake of this man’s life, the fight will go on in Malaysia.”


AIMEE GULLIVER is a New Zealand journalist interning with Malaysiakini for six weeks, courtesy of the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

RIP Karpal Singh


Karpal killed in accident near Kampar
By Radzi Razak and Susan Loone

image
Veteran opposition MP and lawyer Karpal Singh was killed in an accident near Kampar in Perak this morning.

His long-time personal assistant Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu, 39, was also killed.

Karpal’s son Ram Karpal and the driver were believed to be injured in the accident which occurred at 1.10am near 301.6km northbound marker along the the North-South Highway.

Malaysiakini learnt that Karpal and his son, who is also a lawyer, were heading north for a court case later today.

Contacted later, an Ipoh police spokesperson told Malaysiakini that it is believed the MPV collided with a lorry which switched lanes without indication.

Karpal’s other son and Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo (left) told The Star that his father had died on the spot.

“My brother Ram is slightly injured but we are trying to get through to him,” he added when the daily contacted him at 3.30am.

According to a police statement later, Ram and driver of the ill-fated car, C Selvam, were not injured. However, Karpal’s Indonesian maid suffered severe injuries and she is warded at Ipoh’s Hospital Permaisuri Bainun.

The driver of the lorry involved in the road accident that killed Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh this morning has tested positive for drugs.

The driver of the lorry involved in the road accident that killed Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh this morning has tested positive for drugs.

The driver of the lorry, which was hit behind by Karpal’s car, and its three passengers escaped without injury.

The police said the MPV carrying Karpal and four others hit the slow moving lorry at a hilly stretch of the highway.

The five-tonne lorry was carrying a load of cement, steel and mosaic tiles.

Karpal, 74, was involved in a previous car accident in 2005 where he was paralysed and wheelchair-bound.

The vocal politician graduated from University of Singapore and started his law practice before running for Parliament in 1978.

His long tenure as Jelutong MP and fiery speeches in the Dewan Rakyat earned him the moniker “Tiger of Jelutong”.

Karpal had recently relinquished his post as DAP chairperson pending the disposal of his appeal against a sedition charge.

Last month, the High Court found him guilty of uttering seditious words against the Sultan of Perak at the height of the constitutional crisis in 2009.

PM offers condolences

image

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak conveyed his condolences via Twitter.

“I have just landed at Ankara when I heard the news that YB Karpal Singh died in a road accident. My condolences to the family,” read the premier’s tweet.

May his family be brave and steadfast in this trying times. Malaysia has lost another fighter for the people.

May his family be brave and steadfast in this trying times. Malaysia has lost another fighter for the people.

Other netizens also expressed condolences and shock over Karpal’s passing.

“Shocked and sad news! DAP chairman Karpal Singh passed away in accident tonight. Malaysia has lost a truly patriotic son,” wrote Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming.

“Our dear Mr Karpal is no longer with us… I just can’t accept it…,” said Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching.

The bodies of the two deceased, Karpal and Michael, arrived at the Ipoh general hospital at 7.20am.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (right) and his deputy Mohd Rashid Hasnon, and former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin were there.

They conveyed their condolences to Karpal’s sons Gobind and Jagdeep. Karpal’s wife was seen crying, while a relative tried to prevent photos from being taken. The bodies were sent for post-mortem.

BN's Langkawi MP Nawawi Ahmad and also the Chairman of KTMB posted an insensitive collage which he made light of the death of Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh, claiming that it was “not serious”. He however deleted the posting after it became viral.

BN’s Langkawi MP Nawawi Ahmad and also the Chairman of KTMB posted an insensitive collage which he made light of the death of Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh, claiming that it was “not serious”. He however deleted the posting after it became viral.

Gobind said that the family expects the post-mortem to finish at 10.30am, after which they will bring the body back to their family home in Penang by 1pm.

He added that he was informed about the accident at 2.15am, and together with his wife, rushed to the scene. Gobind and his mother, Gurmit Kaur, managed to see Karpal’s body.

The funeral for the veteran politician is expected to be either on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, he added.

“Mr Karpal has family and friends overseas and we are waiting for them to return for his funeral,” he said.

“His body will be kept in our ‎family home along Jalan Utama (Penang),” he added.

Gobind said Ram, who sustained slight bruises, is well.

He also thanked all well-wishers for their support and requested the public to give the grieving family some privacy.

“We will be keeping everyone informed with regular updates,” he added.

At about 8.30am, a man believed to be Karpal’s driver, Selvam, was seen approaching the forensic department in the hospital. He was sobbing but was taken away by several people from the scene.

It is learnt that Karpal’s body will be cremated at the Sikh cremation hall at 11am on Sunday.

The DAP has lost an upstanding and outstanding leader, the nation lost a brilliant legal mind and the rakyat a fearless “tiger” with an indomitable spirit who stood up for the poor, weak defenceless and dispossesed.

The DAP has lost an upstanding and outstanding leader, the nation lost a brilliant legal mind and the rakyat a fearless “tiger” with an indomitable spirit who stood up for the poor, weak defenceless and dispossesed.

ASEAN-US Security Relations Moving to a New Level


 
east-west-center-asia-pacific-bulletin
Number 256 | April 15, 2014
ANALYSIS

ASEAN-US Security Relations: Moving to a New Level

by Mary Fides Quintos and Joycee Teodoro

Chuck Hagel -The United States has just completed hosting a three-day forum with the ten ASEAN Defense Ministers in Hawai’i, fulfilling US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s invitation to his ASEAN counterparts during last year’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. The agenda of the US-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Forum included a roundtable discussion on humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HA/DR), site visits to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the USS Anchorage–an amphibious transport dock ship designed to respond to crises worldwide–and discussions on various pertinent security issues in the region.

The US-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Forum marked the beginning of Secretary Hagel’s ten-day trip to Asia which included visits to Japan, China, and Mongolia and is his fourth official visit to the region in less than a year, all part of the ongoing US rebalance policy to Asia. This event was the first meeting that the US hosted, as previous gatherings were conducted on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Retreat and ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) Summit.

The US-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Forum was conducted under the ambit of the ADMM-Plus which was established in 2007 to serve as a venue for ASEAN to engage with eight dialogue partners–Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, and the United States–in promoting peace and security in the region. To date, ADMM-Plus has established five working groups for practical cooperation covering maritime security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster management, peacekeeping operations, and military medicine.

This most recent meeting was held amid another wave of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea. For ASEAN, a recent water cannon incident near Scarborough Shoal involving Filipino fishing vessels and Chinese Coastguard ships, the standoff at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal again between the Philippines and China, and China’s naval exercises at James Shoal which is claimed by Malaysia are all issues of concern.

Indonesia’s strengthening of its military presence in the Natuna Islands which China included in its nine-dash line is another indication of the increasing insecurity and instability in the region. The meeting provided a good opportunity for informal dialogue on the overall security environment in Asia and the possible implications of developments in Ukraine for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity within the international order. It also served as an opportunity for the United States to reemphasize that it can be relied upon by ASEAN members in supporting the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law and in upholding the freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.

With regard to humanitarian assistance and disaster response, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines Hishamuddin Husseinlast year and the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has demonstrated the lack of capacity of individual ASEAN countries or ASEAN as a bloc to immediately respond to a crisis. Not disregarding the efforts made by the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia, these incidents highlighted the need for the participation of other states particularly in terms of sharing of expertise, technology, and information. The US-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Forum explored areas where cooperation in these areas can be further strengthened. It was a reiteration of the need for multilateral cooperation in non-traditional security challenges that do not respect territorial boundaries.

The increased frequency of high-level visits by US officials to Asia, the provision of resources to its allies in the region, the reallocation of military hardware, along with ongoing military activities demonstrate that the US intent is to have a closer engagement with the region over the long term. These actions are also manifestations of the US commitment to Asia despite fiscal restraints and the looming crises in other regions where the US is also expected to be involved.

Moreover, they send a strong signal that the United States remains the region’s security guarantor regardless of doubts on its capacity to perform that role. However, the US-led hub-and-spokes alliance security model can be perceived as an act of containment against a particular country, hence the importance that bilateral alliances are supplemented by a multilateral institution that is open and inclusive such as ASEAN in shaping the regional security architecture.

The conclusion of the first US-initiated US-ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Forum highlights the growing importance of ASEAN to the United States, especially if the event becomes more institutionalized. The message is that the United States views ASEAN as a central and strategic player, not only in the US rebalance to Asia but more importantly in the building of a strong and credible regional security architecture for the Asia-Pacific.

The move by the United States to actively engage ASEAN in its rebalance also shows the maturation of ties between them. By acknowledging ASEAN as an important regional actor, the relationship between the two has clearly been elevated. This also raises a key point with regard to respecting ASEAN’s centrality in the region. Economic power and military size notwithstanding, major powers need to recognize that any credible regional security architecture must include ASEAN.

These deliberate and sustained efforts involving ASEAN in devising the region’s security architecture are clear manifestations that the United States is actively engaging more actors in the region for maintaining peace and stability. More importantly, by involving ASEAN, there is the added assurance that the region’s security environment will work under a framework that is not dominated by a single power.

ASEAN, for its part, should see changes in the regional security environment as both opportunities and challenges. While ASEAN has been successful in engaging the major powers in the region, its centrality must continuously be earned. First, it needs to maintain unity amid differences; it should not be influenced by any external actor that seeks to advance its national interests at the expense of regional interests. ASEAN members must learn how to pursue their respective interests not only through national strategies but also through regional unity.

As a community, ASEAN is expected to act as a bloc championing the group’s interests and not only those of the individual member-states. Second, there should be greater commitment to cooperation not only in HA/DR but also in other non-traditional areas of security. Non-traditional security challenges are often transnational in scope and include multiple stakeholders. ASEAN must continuously enhance regional cooperation and coordination in times of crisis, although individual countries must also develop domestic capacity to respond to security challenges.

ASEAN should start addressing this deficit now otherwise institutional mechanisms will remain only on paper. These challenges will force ASEAN to build and improve on its usual practices and move beyond its comfort zone, in the long run benefitting the bloc as it matures institutionally.

About the Authors: Ms. Mary Fides Quintos and Ms. Joycee Teodoro are both Foreign Affairs Research Specialists with the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies at the Philippines Foreign Service Institute.

The views expressed here belong to the authors alone and do not reflect the institutional stand of the Philippines Foreign Service Institute. Ms. Quintos can be contacted at fides.quintos@gmail.com and Ms. Teodoro at joyteodoro@gmail.com.

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.
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MH370: Is the story credible? Watch this lengthy video–30-Day Update


April 16, 2014

MH370: Is the story credible? Watch this lengthy video–30-Day Update

Presented by Lauren Moret (Part 1)

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia’s democracy is best in the world.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia’s democracy is best in the world. If so, why are you, Mr. Prime Minister, keeping things from us, your citizens? The truth will be known eventually and you will answer for this.

http://exopolitics.blogs.com/peaceinspace/2014/04/part-1-leuren-moret-confirmed-mh370-shot-down-by-us-over-singapore-airspace-as-uk-inmarsat-leads-30-day-false-flag-psy.html

Obama and Malaysia


April 16, 2014

Obama and Malaysia

US President must walk a delicate line in a country facing increasing international criticism.

Obama-for-BERSIH2Obama for Clean and Fair Elections in Malaysia?

US President Barack Obama is expected to visit Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia this month as part of his push to increase US diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. But despite the relative size and strategic importance of the other countries, it is his April 27 trip to Malaysia that arguably gives the President his biggest problems.

Given the events of the past few months, Obama will visit a country that has earned some of the worst press in Asia, not only for its fumbling response to the loss of its jetliner, MH370, with 239 people aboard, but to revelations of growing racial and religious intolerance, blatant attempts to silence the Opposition through spurious legal action and bizarre charges by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s own newspaper that the Central Intelligence Agency kidnapped the plane to foment trouble with China, 152 of whose citizens were aboard the missing craft.

The same newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, repeated as a real possibility speculation by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that the CIA brought down the World Trade Towers in 2001 as a plot to blame Muslims for the destruction.

anwar-ibrahim2In recent weeks, an appeals court has reversed a lower court decision against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, declaring him guilty of what were clearly trumped up charges of sodomy. The decision, apparently rushed forward, was designed to deny Anwar an almost certain win in a Kuala Lumpur suburban by-election that would have paved his way to becoming Chief Minister of the country’s most populous and prosperous state and would have given him a potent rhetorical platform to challenge the government.

In an equally dubious decision, Karpal Singh, chairman of the Democratic Party, the biggest in the troika of opposition parties, was declared guilty of sedition for saying a decision by the Sultan of Perak could be questioned in court.  The conviction, which is being appealed, bars him from politics. 

The international press that showed up in Kuala Lumpur after the disappearance of the airliner began asking questions that exposed a regime unaccustomed to facing independent scrutiny – questions that a kept mainstream media, all of which are owned by the political parties in power, have ignored for decades. While a vibrant opposition press exists on the Internet, the government simply ignores it or tries to neutralize its reports. Those questions include crony capitalism, gerrymandering and political repression. CNN, the major US and British newspapers and other media assailed the government as authoritarian, corrupt and befuddled.

The feeling in Washington, however, is that the cost of cancellation to the strategic relationship between the two countries would be too high. Obama reportedly is being urged to visit a Christian church while in the country to show US commitment to human and religious rights. Advocates say the President should make at least some gesture of recognition of the fact that a 50.87 percent majority of Malaysians voted against the ruling coalition in 2013 general elections at 47.38 percent but still hold only 89 of the 222 seats in parliament because of gerrymandering. It’s unsure if he will do so. There is speculation that he may just opt for a “meet and greet” and get out of town as quickly as possible to avoid international criticism for propping up a regime that is starting to assume Zimbabwean characteristics of repression and kleptocracy.

“I don’t have any problem with Obama visiting Malaysia, provided he reaches outmalott1 to Malaysians on both sides of the aisle and all sectors of society, including the Christian community, whose rights are being trampled on by their government,” said John Malott, a former career foreign service officer who served as Ambassador to Malaysia from 1996 to 1998 and who has emerged as Malaysian government’s severest western critic. “But this has to be a visit that is based on the reality of what kind of country Malaysia really is today – and not to believe the talking points that Malaysia is still a tolerant multi-racial, multi-religious, harmonious, moderate Islamic nation, an economic success story, and a role model for others. It no longer is.”

Najib visited the White House in 2011 and was given a wholehearted endorsement by the President, who said Najib has “showed great leadership, I think, not only in continuing to show great leadership not only in Malaysia’s economy but on showing leadership on a wide range of multilateral issues.”

Najib PMThe President is said to like Najib personally despite the fact that a wide range of issues have never been cleared up, going back to allegations of Najib’s personal involvement in the US$1 billion purchase of French submarines that according to French prosecutors was said to have netted US$114 million in bribes and kickbacks to the United Malays National Organization. The case is still making its way through French courts.

There is also the matter of the still controversial 2006 murder by two of Najib’s bodyguards of Mongolian translator and party girl Altantuya Shaariibuu, who according to a now-dead private detective had been Najib’s girlfriend before she was allegedly passed on to his best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, a key figure in the purchase of the submarines. The bodyguards were acquitted on appeal despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt, raising questions about Malaysia’s legal system as well.

There have been some rude shocks. Six months ago, in the run-up to his previous delayed visit to the region, the US President hailed Malaysia as an “an example of a dynamic economy” and praised its multi-ethnic, moderate Muslim-dominated society only to see just three days later a court decision ordering Christians not to use the word “Allah” when referring to God, making it the only Islamic country in the world to do so.

After that, the government ordered the confiscation of Malay-language Bibles containing the word – but only in Peninsular Malaysia. Christians using Malay-language Bibles in East Malaysia were allowed to keep them. That is because most of the Christians are tribes indigenous to Borneo that are aligned with the ruling party. In Peninsular Malaysia, they form the bulk of the Opposition.

“So the issue is — how can you talk about establishing a ‘strategic partnership’ with such a government?” Malott asked. “Maybe that is what will have to be downplayed or even canned for this visit. To me, the idea of a declaring a strategic partnership with a government whose faults have now been revealed to the world, day after day, seems politically unwise.”

Malott also questioned what strategic benefits the US can obtain from Malaysia.“What strategic value does Malaysia have that it warrants America to hold its nose and ignore the trampling of democracy and political freedom, not to mention the corruption and cronyism that hurt American business interests there?” he asked. “And with Mahathir, the great anti-American, increasingly calling the political shots and Najib’s popularity the lowest of any Prime Minister in polling history, will a ‘strategic partnership’ with the US survive Najib’s departure?”

ESSCOM: Another Dysfunctional Security Set-Up


April 16, 2013

ESSCOM: Another Dysfunctional Security Set-Up

by Aidila Razak and Hafiz Yatim @www.malaysiakini.com

The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) leads to a duplication of work, said a former Sabah Police Chief.

However, Dato’ Ramli Yusuff, who was Police Chief from 2002 to 2004, refused to comment on whether Esscom should be scrapped, saying that it was a policy issue.

On the same note, Ramli said, Esscom should be headed by the state Police Chief to avoid duplication of the chain of command and ensure a better grip on security operational matters.

“I have studied the area well and I think Esscom, or whatever you want to call it, should be headed by the Police or Army. But I prefer the police because this is an internal (security) matter..,” Ramli told Malaysiakini in an interview.

“This is my personal opinion, but (current Esscom Chief) Mohammad Mentek is from the Immigration Department and he doesn’t know operational matters,” he added.

Ramli, who headed Ops Nyah which saw the deportation of more than 100,000 illegal immigrants from Sabah during his time, said Esscom creates a conflicting chain of command.

“I don’t know… they may have their own standard operating procedures. But to me, as the ex-Police Commissioner, I think it is ridiculous. It is better to increase the assets of the local Police or Army for that matter… These things should be coordinated already,” he added.

Commenting on the recent kidnapping of two women from a resort off Semporna, Ramli said if the Police were in charge, no time would have been wasted. Instead there was “pushing (bertolak-tolak)” between Esscom and the Police to figure out whose jurisdiction the kidnap fell under.

Ramli said when he was Police Chief, there were no incursions or kidnappings because coordination was tight among all enforcement agencies, including the Army.

In fact, he said, he “wiped out” a gang of kidnappers from Sarawak with help from the intelligence and operations teams from Bukit Aman, with which he had worked before.

As Police Chief, Ramli said, he would advise the Chief Minister on security issues and coordinate everything with the Navy, Air Force, Army, volunteer corps (Rela), and Immigration and Customs departments. “I advise politicians, I don’t listen to politicians,” he added.

Visit Malaysia Year without security?

Ramli said the Army and Police shared their assets throughout Sabah, and compared notes on intelligence which he insisted is the most crucial aspect of security operations.

Special attention was also given to tourist areas where more personnel were deployed at outposts and for patrols.

“(The kidnappers) are clever, and they have phones. They will try to invade but if you put your people there, they won’t take it lightly. All our boys were there.

“Security must be in place, especially if you want to have Visit Malaysia Year. Or else who will come?… It doesn’t matter (how long the border is). If it happens in your district you have to know,” he said, adding that ground intelligence should be water tight in “red zones”.

Based on his experience, Ramli said “there is no way” such kidnappings and incursions can take place because the state and security personnel have already identified these “red zones”.

“So I cannot understand why Esscom cannot (handle) this… These are the areas we used to take care of before and we beefed up (security) in all these areas.

“If only the Police and Army can sit down and work together again, it will be very good. We worked based on information on the ground. Now I believe they have many platoons… There is no reason for such things to happen,” Ramli added.

April 16, 2014

Ramli: I’d have hit Sabah intruders fast and hard

by Aidila Razak and Hafiz Yatim

http://www.malaysiakini.com

INTERVIEW: The Lahad Datu incursion last year remains a black mark in the nation’s history but former Sabah Police Chief  Dato’ Ramli Yusuff said if he was at the helm during the crisis, he would have wasted no time hitting the foreign intruders quick and hard.

Ramli, born in a leap year 62 years ago, said if he was in charge, he would never allow armed invaders to prevail.

“I would straight away (have my men) kill them. No negotiations in matters of security – if it is confirmed they are armed intruders, we whack them.I do not negotiate,” he said, when asked how he would react to that armed incursion.

The former senior Police officer, who rose to number three in the Police Force before his retirement, added that there was no compromise when it comes to the country’s sovereignty.

In last year’s armed incursion, the authorities moved in on the Sulu invaders on March 1, after the intruders had holed up at Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu for almost three weeks.

“As far I am concerned, when it comes to internal security, the Commissioner of Police of Sabah is in charge of operations, as he looks after the security of the state.”

Ramli was Sabah Police Chief from 2001 to 2004, and prior to that he had served as the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) deputy director for seven years from 1994. He later progressed to become Pahang chief police office (CPO) and later Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) Director.

As Sabah Police Chief, Ramli said he took three months in 2001 to clear the illegal settlements during the state-wide Ops Nyah II in all 20 Police districts.

He said the Police worked with intelligence gathered from the ground in identifying which houses held the illegals and acted against them.

Within three months, thousands of squatter areas were cleaned and demolished from Pulau Gaya, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kudat, Marudu, Beluran, Kinabatangan, and Semporna, said the former Sabah CPO, showing aerial pictures of the clampdown on the settlers.

“During that time, the Police, Army, Rela, Immigration, and marines were with us in mounting the operation and moving into the villages, where many had weapons. If the Police were to move on their own, it would be dangerous. In some of the places, it was like moving into fortresses as they were well armed.

“When we moved in, we documented the illegal immigrants by taking their photographs and fingerprints. This was to make sure that they did not come back illegally, with false papers and passports with new names. We warned employers that if they wanted to hire them, to do it legally.”

Death threats

Ramli said biometric documentation was done when he was Sabah Police Chief and the Police would keep a copy while another was handed to the Immigration Department to deter the illegals from coming back. If they returned and were caught, they would immediately be deported.

“All in all, we sent back hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and we charged another 100,000 who did not have documents. The courts were packed with these cases,” he said. Ramli added that if the illegal immigrants surrendered willingly, the Police would deport them without them being charged.

As a result of his stern actions, Ramli revealed he received death threats, and showed an article from the New Sabah Times on this (right).

“They dared to call my office to threaten me. But that did not deter me. I continued to hit them harder. I suspect it was foreigners or illegal immigrants who had called following the arrest of their relatives.”

He said as a result of the strong action taken against the illegal settlers during his time, crime went down by 30 percent in Sabah in 2002.

“The illegals were drug addicts, drug pushers, criminals. They were a major cause of crime. When we hit them hard and sent them away, crime rates immediately dropped,” he said with quiet pride.

Once a Upon Time: Malaysia was known for its Institutions


April 15, 2014

Once a Upon Time: Malaysia was known for its Institutions

Commentary

by The Malaysian Insider (http://www.themalaysianinsider.com)

There was a time when Malaysia was known for its institutions – a civil service that facilitated rapid development from an agrarian economy to an industrialised one, a judiciary that was held in high esteem of the Commonwealth, and a military that defeated a communist insurgency.

Today, more than 50 years as a nation spanning from Perlis to Sabah, we see ineptitude and incompetency, a complete meltdown of Malaysian institutions.

Gani PatailThe Attorney-General now farms out cases to an UMNO lawyer; the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) leads an organisation which does not act when a High Court rules; the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) suffers a credibility deficit; and the Air Force has not covered itself with any glory.

So who do Malaysians turn to in time of need? Not any of the above, it appears. Sad but true. The saga of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared with 239 people on board on March 8, has confirmed what Malaysians have suspected for a long time. That there is not much meritocracy and thinking going on in the civil service.

The authorities, from the Minister downwards, have yet to explain what happened in the crucial hours after MH370 was found missing. A CNN and BBC television report yesterday showed Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein avoiding the question.

Tiga AbdulTiga Abdul (Abdul Muhyuddin, Abdul Najib, Abdul Hisham)

Can the civil aviation sector trust the DCA to do the right thing immediately after a flight vanishes from the radar screens? Why wasn’t the Air Force told that a jet was missing? Why wasn’t plane maker Boeing told immediately? Why didn’t the air traffic control respond to their Vietnamese counterparts when told that there was no contact with the Boeing 777-200ER that was on its way to Beijing?

Why the silence?

These days, Malaysia just has bad jokes passing off as the Civil Service, Police Force, Military and the Public Prosecutor. This is the meltdown of institutions that had shaped the country from its formative years to the Asian tiger that it once was.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) also has to explain how it defends the Chief of the RMAF, Rodzali Daudcountry’s airspace throughout the day. Yes, we have brave men and women in uniform keeping watch but a mysterious blip on the radar moving east to west was left unmolested.

Not even hailed by radio, let alone scrambling jets to check on the blip. Or even to ask the DCA and air traffic control if they were also seeing the blip.Does the RMAF have fighter jets on standby? How many can fly these days apart from those used for parades, air shows and F1 races?

The IGP has decided to play marriage counsellor to a divorced couple rather than enforce the law after the ex-husband forcibly took away his son from the ex-wife’s legal custody. Does the IGP or anyone else in the police force know the law and the offence that was committed, or do they assume there is a conflict in the civil and Shariah law that they cannot take any action?

Can anyone cite religion and get away with a crime? How can people trust the Khalid Abu Bakarpolice to enforce the law passed by lawmakers elected by the people?

Where is the Attorney-General in all of this? Is it more important for him to go to London to figure out who will have custody of the MH370 black box, once found, rather than stay back in the country and decide on whether to prosecute or take action against a man for abducting his child from his ex-wife’s legal custody?

Or just outsource some jobs to an UMNO lawyer – from defending the Registrar of Societies (RoS) in a judicial review brought by the  DAP to prosecuting Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his sodomy appeal. Is the Attorney-General’s decision to outsource some work a tacit confirmation and acknowledgment that there is no talent left in the A-G Chambers to do the work?

And is there any talent also left in the Civil Service, Police Force and Military? Malaysia’s Civil Service was the envy of many – from working on poverty eradication and affirmative action policies to industrialisation and a respected Judiciary and prosecution. They did more with fewer resources and lesser people then. But they had quality talent back then.

These days, Malaysia just has bad jokes passing off as the Civil Service, Police Force, Military and the Public Prosecutor. This is the meltdown of institutions that had shaped the country from its formative years to the Asian tiger that it once was.

It might take a generation to possibly set things right with these institutions. Or is that just a hope that is fading as fast as the chance of hearing another ping in the southern Indian Ocean?

 

A Debate on William Easterly’s New Book: The Tyranny of Experts


April 14, 2014

Public Event
Easterly

A Debate on William Easterly’s New Book: The Tyranny of Experts

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 – 10:00am to 11:30am

Featuring

William Easterly

Professor of Economics and Co-director, Development Research Institute, New York University

Vs.
Owen Barder
Senior Fellow and Director for Europe, Center for Global Development

Moderated by
Nancy Birdsall
President, Center for Global Development

Why does poverty persist across so much of the world, despite billions of dollars in international aid and the efforts of development professionals? William Easterly’s answer, as proposed in his new book, The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, is a lack of respect for liberty—not just on the part of governments of impoverished countries but also, more provocatively, on the part of the development experts. Owen Barder, Director of CGD in Europe and a noted development expert himself, disagrees. A vote of the audience will determine who wins the debate, which will also be streamed live.

 

The 2014 Masters at Augusta: Bubba Watson wins in a Spectacular Fashion


April 14, 2014

The 2014 Masters at Augusta: Bubba Watson wins in a Spectacular Fashion to don a 2nd Green Jacket

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/apr/14/bubba-watson-wins-masters-green-jacket

Bubba Watson-2014 Masters ChampionThe 2014 Masters Champion

Nobody can claim Gerry Lester “Bubba” Watson won his second Masters in three years the easy way. Not with a straight face, at least.

Watson let a three-shot lead fritter away on Saturday. As Jordan Spieth brilliantly holed out from the bunker at the front of the 4th green during round four, Watson trailed the 20-year-old by the same margin. Watson matched Spieth’s birdie two, moments later; the battle between eccentric major winner and fresh-faced pretender had commenced.

Jordan at thr 2014 MastersThis slugging match continued until the crucial period of this, the 78th Masters. Spieth (left) stumbled from eight to five under from the 8th tee to the 12th green. As Spieth left his tee shot at the 12th short and in Rae’s Creek, Watson had claimed a level of initiative that he didn’t look of a mind to throw away.

Watson sat at seven under by the end of the same stretch, with his score and advantage improved further with a birdie on a 13th hole which a combination of power and technology allows the left-hander to butcher.

At nine minutes to seven local time, Watson confirmed his aggregate total of 280, Jonas Blixteight under par and three better than both Spieth and Sweden’s Jonas Blixt (right). A three-stroke lead on the 72nd tee was comfortable enough, even for this jittery and emotional character. Watson still took three-wood, just to be safe.

He has been re-acquainted with the Green Jacket. Augusta National has been witness once again to Watson’s victory tears. Starting with Mike Weir, there have now been six left-handed winners of the Masters since 2003.

So Watson joins an illustrious list. The stellar names who have won this famous tournament more than once include Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Seve Ballesteros. Just like Horton Smith, the very first Masters victor, Watson’s three-year run here reads: win, loss, win. And all this, for a man who has never had a single golf lesson, let alone a coach.

For all the intensity and drama of day four, and there was plenty, a glance back to Friday is necessary in the context of Watson’s success. Then, he embarked on a run of five back-nine birdies in a row which kick-started not only the champion in waiting but the event itself. At the time, Watson’s spell looked ominous for the remainder of the field; it ultimately proved precisely that.

Even in defeat, Spieth emerges with immense credit. He was seeking to become the youngest ever winner of the Masters. Only three players in history had claimed the first major of the year on their debut.

Instead, the Texan fell narrowly short but displayed a spirit and maturity in defeat which many of his professional elders should take note of. He simply refused to give up, as a superb chip from the right of the 17th green which almost dropped into the cup illustrated.

Spieth won the hearts of the golfing public in Georgia and identified himself as this sport’s brightest young star. More importantly, he proved both to himself and others that he can go toe-to-toe with the best without feeling in any way inadequate. “It still stings, as any close call in a major would do,” Spieth admitted.

JimenezGiven Spieth’s showing, there would be an argument for experience being overrated, but for the exploits of Miguel Ángel Jiménez (right). The 50-year-old pot-bellied, chain smoking Spaniard recorded his best ever Masters finish of fourth. Never mind thoughts of a vice-captaincy role at the Ryder Cup in September, Jiménez has every chance of playing in it.

“Yes, technology helps me,” Jiménez said. “Of course. But if you don’t know how to hit the ball then technology doesn’t do anything.”

Blixt, too, is worthy of immense praise. The 29-year-old Swede carded four sub-par rounds on his maiden Augusta appearance. He’ll be a force, here and elsewhere, in the near future.

rory mcllroyAs ever on the Sunday of a major championship, there were early charges. Rory McIlroy (left) made one, with the Northern Irishman clawing back to level par from a starting point of plus three by the time he reached the 13th tee. However, McIlroy’s second shot to that hole, a generous par five, fell agonisingly into the water hazard and that was that. McIlroy can file this tournament firmly in the category of what might have been. Still, there was a first ever place inside the top 10 as a consolation.

“I played the par fives in even par this week, which you just can’t do out here,” McIlroy admitted. “I’m even par for the tournament and even par for the par fives. You are looking to play the par fives somewhere around 10 to 12 under par. Obviously if I had done that it would have been a different story.”

KucharMatt Kuchar (right) held more legitimate aspirations of glory. Kuchar chipped in for a dramatic birdie from the back of the 3rd green and tied for the lead but then four-putted the next hole and was never a threat thereafter.

Lee Westwood, who finished seventh, used the putter three times from 10ft on the 4th to trigger a double bogey. He was only ever going to make up the numbers after that. “I had a chance and didn’t put any pressure on,” admitted the Englishman. It is an all-too familiar major story, as Westwood knows all too well.

Watson’s narrative, specifically in relation to Augusta National, is one of stunning success. If you are going to be a horse for a particular course, where better to choose?

Malaysia gets top prize for football match fixing


April 14, 2014

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Bolehland (Malaysia) gets top prize for football match fixing

 by Nicolas Anil

PETALING JAYA: “If there was a gold medal for football match fixing, Malaysia would win it.”

Declan Hill's bookThis is the damning verdict of Declan Hill, the Canadian journalist and academic who has been called the world’s foremost expert on match fixing and whose book, The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, is an international bestseller.

Hill has testified on the issue before the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the British and European Parliaments as well as the integrity units of the European Union of Football Associations. He has hard facts to back his claims.

Indeed Malaysian football has become synonymous with match fixing since 1994, when 21 players and coaches were sacked, 58 players suspended and 126 players questioned over corruption.

Two decades on, little has changed. In 2012, the Malaysian Football Association (FAM) suspended 18 President Cup players and banned a former Negeri Sembilan coach for life after they were found guilty of fixing matches.

Last year, five Kuala Lumpur players and three officials were slapped with life bans FBL-GERMANY-CANADA-CORRUPTION-HILLand 17 others were fined after FAM found them guilty on match fixing charges. A few months before that scandal, the Perak FA suspended its entire team for two weeks on suspicion of match fixing after they lost heavily in several matches.

In fact, according to Hill (right), match fixing has been spreading like cancer since the 1994 disgrace.“Malaysian match-fixers were not stopped in 1994,” he said recently. “They decided to keep local fixing under the radar and spread their activities throughout the world [instead], where the profit was much more lucrative.

“In 1994, we barely had the Internet. There was hardly any live coverage of European football and this was a massive change in Malaysian and Singaporean society. And so, gradually, Malaysians identified something that the rest of the world was just waking up to, which was globalisation.

“These people were really intelligent businessmen. They started to send their people around the world, proposing deals to dubious players, coaches and team owners to fix the games in their leagues.

Irresistible deals

“These Malaysians would propose the following to local fixers: ‘You fix the local game, and we’ll fix it on the Asian gambling market.’

“These deals were simply irresistible. They could make 10 times the profit because there was demand for it on the Asian gambling market. Now, suddenly, you have a second division game in Italy that could generate around a hundred thousand Euros.

“With this kind of money, more people could be bought and so it became a pattern. Malaysians have certainly become a household name on the match fixing market, having traces in Greece, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Italy and Germany.”

Hill has a suggestion on how to stifle Malaysian match fixers.“A special, independent unit needs to be formed to crack and clean this phenomenon,” he said.

Kj“Pressure must be put on the Malaysian officials, and pressure has to come from men like me.There is an expectation of corruption in Malaysian football amongst the fans, players, coaches and officials, because there is a bigger fish involved in this.So that is why an elite task force has to be formed, and they must have the guts to go after these fixers.”

Hill said that if Malaysia did not act soon, there would be ramifications that could damage the nation’s prestige.

“As I have testified before various Parliaments, we have to tell the IOC that if Malaysia doesn’t clean up this problem, they will be banned from international sports. Not being able to participate in the Olympics, for instance, would be a damaging blow to the country’s pride. So it may be just be the tonic for them to get down to the root of this problem.”

It is certainly hard to argue with Hill when Malaysian football keeps making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps it is time for the Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to sit down and brainstorm a way to kill this cancer.

Nicolas Anil is a sub-editor with Sports247.

A-G Gani Patail is not above the Law


April 11, 2014

A-G Gani Patail loses to Rosli Dahlan: NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW

by Din Merican

mh370-hishammuddinWilliam Pesek, a prominent Bloomberg columnist, wrote recently that the global outcry over the loss of flight MH370 has highlighted the country’s deepest flaws of incompetent people running the country.

The Fumbling Team of MH370

“The fumbling exposed an elite that’s never really had to face questioning from its people, never mind the rest of the world. The country needs nothing less than a political revolution,” said Pesek. And I agree. Nothing will change until the present political elite is made to pay for their ineptitude, incompetence and crooked ways by Malaysian voters.

At the international level, our political leaders will have to take the blame. At the national level, we are facing a crisis of our public institutions being headed by not just mediocre and incompetent people but also characters who are downright dishonest and who abuse the system with impunity– the rogues in government.

Rosli Dahlan wins against A-G Patail

Vazeer, a former practising lawyer before being made a judge, said he agreed that deliberate abuse of power by those holding a public office was misfeasance in public office.

Vazeer, a former practising lawyer before being made a judge, said he agreed that deliberate abuse of power by those holding a public office was misfeasance in public office.

That brings me to the news reports of this morning that my young friend, Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, has again won another case against A-G Gani Patail. For my readers’ convenience I have reproduced only the MKini report by Hafiz Yatim (below) that provides interesting links on this story that never ceases to inspire me.

Back in Time–To the Eve of Hari Raya (Aidil Fitr), 2007

It’s a sad story of how on the eve of Hari Raya 2007, Lawyer Rosli Dahlan (right) wasR Dahlan brutally arrested in his office in full view of his staff by the ACA (now MACC). He was then charged in a most sensational manner to deceive the public into believing that Rosli had hidden illegitimate assets belonging to the Director of Commercial Crimes, Dato Ramli Yusuff, in another sensational story fanned by the media dubbed as the “The RM 27 million Cop”.

All this was part of a conspiracy to eliminate Dato Ramli from the PDRM as Dato Ramli posed a threat to then IGP Musa Hassan and A-G Gani Patail. Rosli was made a victim because he dared to defend Dato Ramli despite warnings having been sent to him. Since then, Musa‘s former ADC had sworn a Statutory Declaration to expose IGP Musa Hassan’s links with the underworld.

A lot more was also disclosed about A-G Gani Patail’s association with shady corporate figures like the one in the Ho Hup Affair. The Internet was also abuzz with stories about how A-G Gani Patail went to Haj and had his son to share a room with a shady former Police Inspector who was once charged for corruption, Shahidan Shafie, a proxy of former MAS Chairman Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli.

Tajuddin Ramli and the MAS saga was among the many failures of Dr Mahathir’s Bumiputra corporate advancement project which culminated with MH370 disaster. The latest episode could sink MAS without tax-payers bailout forthcoming .

Tajuddin Ramli and the MAS saga was among the many failures of Dr Mahathir’s Bumiputra corporate advancement project which culminated with MH370 disaster. The latest episode could sink MAS without tax-payers bailout forthcoming .

That explains why A-G Gani never charged Tajudin Ramli for the losses of RM 8 billion that MAS suffered despite recommendations by Dato Ramli Yusuff. Dato Mat Zain Ibrahim, former KL OCCI also swore SDs about A-G Gani Patail throwing away the Batu Putih case for pecuniary gains.

Ramli YusuffYet Gani Patail remains as the A-G of Malaysia, leading many to speculate that he has a grip on PM Najib Razak because of Razak Baginda’s acquittal in the murder of the Mongolian beauty, Altantuya Shariibu. In that case, the A-G did not appeal against Razak Baginda’s acquittal.

On the other hand, the A-G has pursued criminal appeals against certain people like Lawyer Rosli Dahlan and Dato Ramli Yusuff (left). In the PKFZ case, A-G Gani Patail charged and appealed against the acquittal of Tun Ling Liong Sik which led to Tun Lingcalling him – “ That Stupid Fella”.

Back to Rosli’s case. Lawyer Rosli, he has fought a long and lonely battle, winning his acquittal and then suing every one of the mainstream media for defaming him – Utusan Malaysia, The Star and the NST, and winning against them one by one very patiently.

On April 15, 2008, Utusan Malaysia published a public apology admitting their wrongdoings and acknowledged that the Utusan Malaysia’s article “was written and published in a sensational manner to generate publicity which exceeded the parameters of ethical journalism surrounding the investigation of YDH Dato’ Pahlawan Haji Ramli Haji Yusuf who at that time held the post of Director of the Commercial Crime Investigation Department of Police DiRaja Malaysia.”

Utusan's Apology

On January 15, 2013, the Star paid damages and admitted to its wrongdoings in a published public apology.

The Star's Apology

On October 18, 2013, the KL High Court found the NST and the MACC guilty of defaming Rosli and ordered them to pay damages of RM 300,000 and costs. This made history as it was the first time that the MACC was sued by a person and the MACC lost and had to pay damages.

Last year Rosli sued A-G Gani Patail, MACC Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim and several other MACC officers for conspiracy, false and malicious investigation, abuse of power, abuse of prosecutorial discretion, malicious prosecution, prosecutorial misconduct and public misfeasance.

Read the MKini report below and you will discover that A-G Gani Patail had engaged Tan Sri Cecil Abraham , a senior private lawyer from Messrs ZulRafique & Partners (an UMNO law firm) to defend him, the A-G Chambers (A-GC) and the MACC.

I find that surprising since I am told that the A-GC has over 800 lawyers, making the A-GC the “largest law firm” in the country. By contrast, I am told that the largest private law firm in the country has a maximum of 140 lawyers.

 Putrajaya needs to review its policies as it can't afford to spend taxpayers' money on the AG's own legal problem.


Putrajaya needs to review its policies as it can’t afford to spend taxpayers’ money on the AG’s own legal problem.

That means the Government of Malaysia spends millions of ringgit to staff the A-GC in order to defend the government. Yet when the Government is sued, A-G Gani Patail engages private lawyers. Does that makes sense to you?

Is A-G Gani Patail admitting that he is not confident of the A-GC, which he heads, to defend him and the government in the face of the law suit by Lawyer Rosli Dahlan? Is A-G Gani Patail admitting that the A-GC is incompetent? Was that why Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah was asked to be an ad hoc DPP to prosecute the appeal against Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim? Or is there is a commercial logic to that? Is A-G Gani Patail outsourcing legal work to his friends in the private sector to reward them for covering up for his misconduct and incompetence?

Cecil Abraham sits in the MACC’s Operations Review Panel.

Cecil Abraham sits in the MACC’s Operations Review Panel.

I had a chat with Tan Sri Robert Phang who has always been critical of A-G Gani Patail. He told me a more worrisome story. Robert Phang questioned whether Tan Sri Cecil Abraham (right) is a fit to lawyer to defend the A-G because Cecil Abraham sits in the MACC’s Operations Review Panel, which advises on oversights in the MACC. One of the committee’s functions is to ensure that the MACC and other government agencies do not commit abuses. It is like an Ombudsman. If so, how can Cecil Abraham defend A-G Gani Patail and the other MACC officers whom Rosli has accused of fixing him? Is that not a conflict of interest?

Other lawyers tell me that Cecil Abraham is the senior lawyer implicated in the PI Bala SD case over the Altantuya murder. I am stunned by all these revelations. It seems that all the committees and advisory panels in the MACC and other government agencies are to cover up for their wrongdoings rather than to expose and correct them. No wonder our country is headed for doom !

Americk Sidhu, PI Bala's lawyer makes a startling revelation at the Bar AGM that Cecil Abraham confided in him that he prepared the 2nd SD on instructions from Najib.

Americk Sidhu, PI Bala’s lawyer makes a startling revelation at the Bar AGM that Cecil Abraham confided in him that he prepared the 2nd SD on instructions from Najib.

I am told that Rosli’s Statement of Claim against A-G Gani Patail contains very damning revelations about A-G’s misconduct. I am told that with every victory that Rosli gained against A-G Gani Patail, more and more civil servants and people are coming up to him to offer assistance and being more willing to be witnesses in his cases. This was unlike before when many were afraid to be associated with him.

Is that why AG Gani Patail does not want to go to trial and employ all kinds of delaying tactics in Rosli’s suit against him. Is that why A-G Gani Patail engaged Tan Sri Cecil Abraham to strike out Rosli’s suit? Otherwise, why is A-G Gani Patail so afraid to go to trial in Rosli’s case?

But now that Tan Sri Cecil has lost this striking out application and the A-G is ordered to pay cost to Rosli, who is going to bear this cost? Should taxpayer’s money be used to pay for the misconduct of these rogues in government? If we taxpayers have to bear this cost, then A-G Gani Patail and the likes of him will never be repentant. There will never be accountability!

In my view, A-G Gani Patail must bear the full costs of his misconduct. He must be held accountable and he must pay the legal fees charged by his friend Tan Sri Cecil Abraham. I am also of the view that the MACC should sack Cecil Abraham from being on its Advisory Panel. Cecil Abraham cannot sit there to pretend that he is acting as a check and balance against the MACC’s misconducts whereas he is also covering up for the MACC when the MACC is sued by Rosli, and getting well paid by the Government using tax payer’s money!

Conflict of Interest

The conflict of interest is so clear and it is appalling that a senior titled lawyer like Tan Sri Cecil Abraham cannot see that. I also feel that the Bar Council should not stand idle arms akimbo with this revelation. The Bar Council should subject Cecil Abraham to disciplinary proceedings for breaching such common sense rule on conflict of interests. Cecil has dishonored the Bar and the Council must act against him!

Well Done, JC Wazeer Alam Mydin 

In that regard, I must congratulate Judicial Commissioner Wazeer Alam Mydin for having a fair sense justice in not allowing A-G Gani Patail to strike out Rosli ‘s claim. A judicial Commissioner is basically a probationary judge. For a probationary Judge to do this means JC Wazeer is indeed a brave man who would not tolerate public authorities who commit abuses and then claim immunity. It is indeed a brave probationary judge to stand up to the A-G and tell it to the A-G’s face that the A-G is not above the law.

The winds of change is blowing and judges like JC Wazeer Alam will be a credit to the judiciary. JC Wazeer Alam is indeed a brave man to make this iconic statement:

“The claim by AG of his absolute public and prosecutorial immunity is an anathema to modern democratic society.”

======================================================

April 11, 2014

A-G not immune to legal action, rules Judge

by Hafiz Yatim@www.malaysiakini.com

The Attorney-General is not immune to legal action, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled today.

Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera said this in dismissing Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail’s application to strike out the suits by former Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Ramli Yusuff and his lawyer Rosli Dahlan.

Public authorities who abused their powers have been "insulated" from prosecution for "far too long" by using the Public Authorities Protection Act.

Public authorities who abused their powers have been “insulated” from accountability  for “far too long” by using the Public Authorities Protection Act.

“I am afraid that the notion of absolute immunity for a public servant, even when mala fide or abuse of power in the exercise of their prosecutorial power is alleged in the pleadings, is anathema to modern day notions of accountability.

“I agree that deliberate abuse of power by a person holding a public office is tortious and is referred to as misfeasance in public office.

“Such a tortious act can arise when an officer actuated by malice, for example, by personal spite or a desire to injure for improper reasons, abuses his power,” Vazeer Alam said.

“This is keeping with developments in modern jurisprudence that absolute immunity for public servants has no place in a progressive democratic society,” the judge added. The A-G and two other officers from the A-G’s Chambers were named in the respective suits filed by Ramli Yusuff and Rosli Dahlan.

They had sought to strike out the suits on the grounds that they should be immune to such action in carrying out their prosecution powers. Ramli had filed a RM128.5 million suit against A-G Gani, former IGP Musa Hassan and several Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers.

Rosli had filed a separate suit amounting to RM48 million against the same parties.The two are suing them for abuse of power, malfeasance in the performance of public duty, malicious prosecution and prosecutorial misconduct, among others.

Suits not filed out of time

Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam also ruled that the two suits for malicious prosecution were not filed out of time as this cause of action accrued upon the determination of the final appeal. He said that the court could not consider the period to be when Ramli or Rosli  were acquitted, as there were subsequent appeals against the acquittals made after this.

“As with Ramli’s case, the appeals lodged by the public prosecutor were dismissed in June and in November 2011. Therefore the filing of the action on Nov 1 last year is well within the time stipulated in Section 2 of the Public Authority Protection Act,” the  ruled,

Vazeer Alam also allowed the two to name the MACC in their legal action, since the MACC took over from the Anti-Corruption Agency.

Ramli had sued the defendants for their claim that he was the policeman in the Copgate affair and that he had RM27 million in assets.

Subsequently, Ramli was charged with the non-disclosure of some of his assets and the case against him was thrown out. Ramli’s lawyer friend Rosli was also hauled up as a result of this.

Ramli, who was a former state Police Chief for Pahang and Sabah, said in his statement of claim that his relationship with Gani soured in 2006.

This was after he met then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and recommended that former Malaysia Airlines chairperson Tajudin Ramli be prosecuted for the severe losses suffered by the company.

“But the A-G decided not to prosecute Tajudin. I even told the PM then that if the AG was reluctant to prosecute Tajudin, the CCID would have the necessary resources to conduct the prosecution.

“This earned me Gani’s permanent displeasure…” Ramli said in his statement of claim.

‘A brave decision’

After today’s court session, Ramli commended the judge for his brave decision. “I am not doing this for Ramli Yusuff but for the Police Force, some of whom have been victimised as a result of this. And I am also doing this for the serving government officers who have also been victimised.

“I am also seeking closure to an event that has affected my possible career advancement,” he said.

The RM27 million investigations had hindered his promotion to be the Inspector-General of Police, he added. This post was subsequently handed over to Musa Hassan.

Rosli, on commending today’s High Court decision, said abuses by the public authority have for too long been insulated by invoking the Public Authority Protection Act.

“Today, a brave judge has declared that absolute prosecutorial immunity is  anathema to the modern concept of democracy. This is to remind the public authorities that no one is above the law,” Rosli said.

Several Police Officers under Ramli’s charge have also been prosecuted as a result of the Copgate affair and all of them have acquitted and have been reinstated to their posts during former IGP Ismail Omar’s tenure.

Ramli was represented by Harvinderjit Singh, while Chethan Jethwani and Darvindeer Kaur appeared for Rosli. Senior lawyer Tan Sri Cecil Abraham, Rishwant Singh and Senior federal counsel Dato Amarjeet Singh represented the defendants.

Vazeer fixed June 18 for case management to possibly fix trial dates for the hearing.

Obama in Malaysia: A Strategic Partnership?


by Joshua Kurlantzick via Council on Foreign Relations
April 8, 2014

During his upcoming late April trip to Asia, President Obama will visit two nations in Southeast Asia, Malaysia and the Philippines, in addition to stops in Northeast Asia. The White House already has been briefing reporters on the overall messaging of the trip, and the specific themes the president plans to hit in Malaysia and the Philippines. In Malaysia, it appears from several news reports and from speaking with several administration officials, President Obama will add to the Malaysian government’s self-promotion that Kuala Lumpur is a successful and democratic nation, an example of other Muslim-majority countries, and a force for moderation in the world. The president apparently plans to hit these themes despite the regional anger at Malaysia’s handling of the Malaysia Airlines vanished plane, which exposed to the world many of the problems with Malaysia’s governance.

No matter, say some Southeast Asia experts. Some of Obama’s advisors, and many Southeast Asia experts, are urging the president to use the trip to cement a strategic partnership with Malaysia and establishing a roadmap for the kind of higher-level strategic cooperation that the United States already enjoys with Singapore and Thailand, among other countries in the region.

This approach to the Malaysia visit would mean downplaying – or simply not even discussing – serious regression in Malaysia’s domestic politics, including the recent sentencing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in jail for sodomy, the highly flawed 2013 national elections that barely kept Prime Minister Najib tun Razak in office, and the increasingly shrill, anti-Chinese and anti-Indian rhetoric and legislation of the Najib government, hardly the kind of sentiments a supposed leader of political moderation should be espousing. According to this logic, if President Obama were to bring up such unpleasant issues as the Malaysian government’s crackdown on opponents over the past year or its unwillingness to reform pro-Malay policies that have entrenched a culture of graft and self-dealing at many Malaysian companies, that would sink the visit.

Under Najib, Malaysia and the United States have, on a strategic level, moved beyond some of the acrimony of the Mahathir and Abdullah years, and have made progress on a wide range of military-military and diplomatic cooperation. Najib definitely deserves some credit for this rapprochement, though growing Malaysian fear about China’s South China Sea policies are probably the main driver behind closer strategic ties with Washington.

But simply ignoring the disastrous Najib policies on human rights, political freedoms, and economic liberalization would not be a wise move by Obama. For one, it would play into the narrative that Obama cares little about rights and democracy promotion, a narrative that has gained significant force not only in Washington but also among many Southeast Asian activists and young people in general. And ignoring Malaysia’s opposition politicians, who won the popular vote in the 2013 national elections and enjoy their strongest support among young Malaysians, would be alienating the biggest growing pool of Malaysian voters. As in other countries in the region, like Cambodia and Indonesia, these young voters are increasingly favoring opposition parties or new figures like Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, breaking from long-ruling, autocratic parties. The United States should be cultivating these young voters who will prove critical to the region’s democratization. This new generation will eventually power the Malaysian opposition, in some form, to the prime minister’s office. It would be a shame if the United States president had ignored them, and their party leaders, before then.

Utusan’s claims of US role in MH370 disappearance aren’t the paper’s first wild charges


April 9, 2014

Utusan’s claims of US role in MH370 disappearance aren’t the paper’s first wild charges

Written by Our Correspondent, TUE,08 APRIL 2014

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/govt-backed-malaysian-newspaper-crosses-line-cia-charges/

utusan-online

Utusan Malaysia, the Kuala Lumpur-based Malay-language broadsheet newspaper that Sunday accused the CIA of having a hand in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, has a long history of heated invective as the attack dog for its owner, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the country’s biggest political party.

NAJIB_RAZAK_091213_TMINAJJUA_05_540_360_100It is a publication that could be simply dismissed because of its often-irresponsible diatribes. But presumably it is the mouthpiece for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, the Party President. And from his standpoint, the story had to be an utter disaster.  US President Barack Obama is due to visit Malaysia sometime over the next few weeks, a visit that Najib, whose popularity is fading, needs to prop him up.

There has been no public reaction in the United States. However, certainly Washington would be less than amused by the story, which accused the US of engineering the plane’s disappearance in order to disturb the growing relationship between Malaysia and China.  One source close to the government last week told Asia Sentinel the US has been instrumental in helping Malaysia behind the scenes, providing technological and forensic help from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other organizations in the search for the missing Boeing 777-200, which disappeared on March 8 into the Indian Ocean.

The paper targets a domestic audience and has traditionally felt it could indulge in any necessary rhetoric to help preserve loyalty to the party.  However, over the past three to four years, it has veered into strident invective. In 2011, the company drove senior journalist Hata Wahari, then the president of the National Union of Journalists, out of the paper after he complained about its agenda and urged it to go back to its traditional role of presenting unbiased news to the public. 

Now, it is reaping more unfavorable publicity and runs the danger of once again affecting international relations because of the perception that is has official standing.  But Najib, according to one senior source close to the party, has lost control of the Board of Directors and the editors and has been unable to rein them in despite the fact that his own press secretary sits on the board.

Earlier, the newspaper accused Indonesia of conspiring with the United States to hide the missing airliner after radar communication was lost over the gulf of Thailand.  The Indonesian online news portal Merdeka.com quoted the senior officer for foreign affairs at Indonesia’s Defense Ministry, Sumardi Brotodiningrat, as saying the allegation was “funny” and that his country was already doing its best to assist Kuala Lumpur in the search.

Najib already faces strained relations with the United States over the conviction on Anwar-Kajangappeal of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, a favorite of many US politicians and financier George Soros, among others, on what were obviously trumped up charges of sodomy. According to several sources including the purported victim’s father, the charges were cooked up in the prime minister’s office.  The country is also facing criticism over confiscation of Christian bibles that use the word “Allah” to denote God and other issues.

US officials have had a habit of publicly observing diplomatic niceties in dealing with Kuala Lumpur and it is uncertain what kind of conversation Obama is going to have with the Malaysian premier.  

Najib has repeatedly gone to the US – and the White House – and to the United Nations to characterize Malaysia as a moderate Muslim nation only to take no action against growing religious extremism on the part of Malay nationalists ‑ much to the distress of the country’s other races.

Utusan Malaysia has been at the forefront of racial attacks on ethnic Chinese and Indians. In 2012, a columnist called former Indonesian President B J Habibie a traitor and a “dog of imperialism” for meeting with Anwar. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the comments were unethical and overstepped the bounds of decorum, adding that they had jeopardized relations between the two countries.

However, Utusan’s vitriol is usually reserved for members of the opposition and for Christians. In 2011, for instance, the newspaper printed allegations that Christian pastors were seeking to install a Christian prime minister who would change the country’s official religion from Islam.

The story was ridiculous on its face. Muslims make up at least 60 percent of the population. Some Chinese are Christians, others are Buddhists.  Islam is the country’s official religion, enshrined in the constitution although other religions are guaranteed freedom to exist. Any attempt to change the status of Islam would result in a racial conflagration.

In the current flap, according to a translation by the website Malaysian Insider, assistant editor Ku Seman Ku Hussein said it was time “to think outside the box” about the tragedy to Malaysia and world aviation, repeating baseless allegations that the US had also engineered the 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda.

“If the CIA could arrange for the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, it is not improbable to link MH370 with the intelligence agency,” he wrote, referring to speculation on the involvement of American intelligence in the 9/11 attacks.

“What if the MH370 tragedy had been arranged by certain parties to put Malaysia’s relationship with China in jeopardy?” Ku Seman asked in an opinion piece in the paper’s weekend edition, Mingguan Malaysia.

“The September 11 conspiracy which had been previously treated as nonsense was now a fact, and Putrajaya must look at it from a different point of view.” Ku Seman wrote.

Dani Rodrik: Has sustained growth decoupled from industrialization?


April 9, 2014

The George Washington University, Washington DC–Growth Dialogue

http://www.growthdialogue.org/shared-views/dani-rodrikhas-sustained-growth-decoupled-industrialization

Dani Rodrik: Has sustained growth decoupled from industrialization?

Watch Prof. Dani Rodrik’s full presentation at the Symposium on Frontier Issues in Economic Growth.

Attracting Malaysian Talent Home is tough for Johan Merican


April 9, 2014

Malaysia struggles to woo Malaysian experts home due to ‘better life’ abroad–A Tough Job for Johan Merican

 by MD Izwan (04-08-14) @www.themalaysianinsider.com

TalentCorp CEO Johan Mahmood Merican says the agency has several incentives to make it easier for overseas Malaysians to come home, including tax exemptions on their cars. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, April 8, 2014.

TalentCorp CEO Johan Mahmood Merican says the agency has several incentives to make it easier for overseas Malaysians to come home, including tax exemptions on their cars.–  pic by Najjua Zulkefli, April 8, 2014.

Higher salaries, better professional opportunities and a comfortable life – these are the main reasons Malaysian professionals living abroad are reluctant to return to Malaysia, TalentCorp said.

According to its statistics, TalentCorp managed to bring back 2,500 Malaysians working abroad, but the figure is small when compared with a 2011 World Bank estimate that almost a million Malaysians are working outside the country.

TalentCorp has received almost 4,000 applications in the three years since it was established in 2011 to address the brain drain in the country.

“It is a combination of several factors. First, the quality of life is related to salaries, second, professional opportunities and third, a comfortable life, ” TalentCorp Chief Executive Officer Johan Mahmood Merican told The Malaysian Insider recently. However, the gap in quality of life is not too big when Malaysia is compared with other countries, he said.

“For example, the salaries in London are definitely high but we must increase their awareness about the quality of life after living costs are taken into account. Sometimes, the gap is not that big,” he added.

In terms of professional opportunities, Johan said Malaysia was still capable of offering the best opportunities as the country’s economic position was still good.

“In many other developing countries in the world, their economies are relatively slow but Malaysia’s is steadily progressing,” he said.

“The third factor, there are a lot of reasons for that. It’s true that there are some Malaysians who are worried about education, crime and the political scenario in the country,” he added.

The country which has the highest number of Malaysians wanting to come home is Singapore, followed by the United Kingdom, China, Australia and the Middle East.

According to a World Bank report, Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$303.53 billion (RM995.43 billion) in 2012. Malaysia’s GDP represents 0.49% of the world’s economy.

“When they have been out of the country for too long, it will be hard for them to come home. At least, we appreciate their efforts by giving them incentives.”

The administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has targetted Malaysia to become a high-income nation by 2020 through Vision 2020, which was introduced by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

As part of efforts to achieve the goal, Najib also introduced fiscal steps to reduce the country’s deficit, but that have affected the inflation rate.

Up till 2013, TalentCorp was allocated RM65 million, but it has received criticism over the huge allocation as it did not reflect in the number of talents brought home.

“TalentCorp is not only about bringing workers from overseas, we also have other programmes such as graduate employability and helping foreign talents,” Johan said.

The area in which most talents have decided to come back to is the business service sector, followed by oil and gas, finance, electronics, information technology and health.

“We support the Economic Transformational Programme (ETP) and not just overseas programmes. We help drive the ETP,” he said, adding that TalentCorp was in line with the government’s goal of achieving a high-income nation by 2020.

Johan also said that TalentCorp does not take on the role of a “recruitment agency” for the talents brought home.

“We do not operate like a recruitment agency because we are a government agency. We do not look for jobs for them; it is up to them to find jobs.However, we realise that Malaysians who have worked overseas for too long will not necessarily be used to the local professional culture so we are prepared to help them to get in touch with recruitment agencies or executives,” he said.

Realising that the move to bring back talent is not easy, Johan said TalentCorp has prepared several incentives to make it easier for them to return to Malaysia.

“When they have been out of the country for too long, it will be hard for them to come home. At least, we appreciate their efforts by giving them incentives.”

Among the incentives are tax exemptions on cars the applicants would like to bring back to Malaysia under the Return Expertise Programme (REP).Johan said it was not fair for others to judge TalentCorp’s work just based on allocations to the agency, as there were other activities that they take on.

“You cannot take a whole amount of allocation and divide it by one activity… we have other different activities.Maybe our activities hardly get any coverage, but we are managing talents in a different aspect,” he said.

In 2011, a World Bank Report revealed that Malaysia was experiencing a huge brain drain to other countries, with almost a million of the country’s professional workforce reported to be working overseas.

According to the report, the migration is caused by the imbalances of the New Economic Policy (NEP), with Indians and Chinese making the highest numbers.

The World Bank warned that if the situation was not addressed as soon as possible, it would slow down the economy and halt the country’s development.

Following the report, Putrajaya set up TalentCorp and introduced programmes to lure Malaysian talents from overseas. – April 8, 2014.