Let Anwar contest in General Elections (source:www.malaysiakini.com)

Jan 31, 08 1:15pm
Opposition party PKR today urged Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi toensurethat the coming general election is held after April 15 so that the party’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim can contest.“Abdullah should ensure that he does not fix the timing of the next election to once again deprive Anwar of his right to participate –a basic right which was denied to him in the 1999 and the 2004 general elections,” said PKR secretary general Khalid Ibrahim today.“We say have an early election by all means, but fix nomination day for April 15th or later,” he added. Anwar is legally prohibited to participate in the elections until April 15 due to his previous convictions for corrupt practices and sodomy. “Anwar has already been wrongfully deprived of his political rights since his first conviction on April 14, 1999.

“Both his convictions have been universally condemned as politically motivated, and the result of procedurally flawed and unfair trials, rendering his six year incarceration in Sungai Buloh prison, a political detention,” added Khalid.

He added that if the government believed that Anwar has become“irrelevant” to Malaysian politics, then there should be no reluctance in delaying the election by a month or so to allow him to participate.

Also present at the press conference were party vice president Sivarasa Rasiah, treasurer William Leong and the Youth wing information chief Low Teik Hai.

Anwar is ready

When asked by the media of the significance of Anwar contesting in the coming election, Khalid said that it was important for Anwar to contest as he was the de facto leader of PKR.He added that by denying Anwar his rights, PKR would be deprived of presenting their best candidate.

Khalid also dismissed the suggestions that Anwar can always contest in a by-election in the event the general election was held before April 15.

For Anwar to contest in a by-election was a waste of time and the contest itself would be a waste for the rakyat, as seen by the extravagant cost undertaken by the government in the last by-election in Ijok, said Khalid.

The former corporate flier also said Malaysians should be given a chance to hear and decide on Anwar’s proposals for reforms for the nation.

To a question as to where would Anwar contest, if the election is held after April 15, none of the four PKR leaders at the press conference were forthcoming with an answer.

They said that the identity of the seat would be kept as a secret for the moment.

“But if you ask me whether he is ready to contest in the election, yes, Anwar is here to stay and has been ready for the last six years” said Khalid.

The prime minister is expected to call for the election very soon. Pundits speculate that the elections could be held in mid March.


Vincent Tan, the Man intent on being in the Corridors of Power

By Ahmad Mustapha Hassan

Vincent Tan, Oh! Sorry! Tan Sri Vincent Tan, the man who played me out in the Sports Toto deal, after having deviously become a corporate figure ,was bent in getting into the good books of the then Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He would be unhappy if anyone informed Dr. Mahathir of any of his unethical business practices. He wanted to be portrayed as a cultured and intelligent corporate man.

He believed he could easily gain Dr. Mahathir’s confidence as he had seen how others of lesser stature than him could easily become confidants of the man in office. If they could, he definitely could easily do that and be better at it. He did not need to be a genius to do that. All he needed to do was to impress the man with his ability to do what Dr. Mahathir wanted or what he felt Dr. Mahathir fancied.

He first met Dr. Mahathir in Rome in 1984 when I introduced him to the then Prime Minister who was on an investment tour to Rome. He wanted to get Dr. Mahathir’s blessings and approval in the privatisation of Sports Toto. He also met in Rome Mohamad Abdullah Ang, who was the chief executive of Malaysia’s Sogososha, (Multinational Company) Malaysian Overseas Investment Corporation, MOIC for short, and a confidant of Dr. Mahathir. This man was not that known until he became Dr. Mahathir’s close friend.

Dr. Mahathir was a native of Kedah, a state in the north of the peninsula. He naturally appreciated northern types of dishes. What better chance than to start a restaurant specialising in northern cuisine! Thus Restoran Rasa Utara was born.

Dr. Mahathir liked riding horses. Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Resort would definitely impress the man. It did not matter that the Club did not make money. It was important that Dr. Mahathir graciously approved of this venture. He knew that now being a corporate figure banks would always come to his aid.

He managed to develop a resort on the hill at Bukit Tinggi with all the various amenities that would appeal to Dr. Mahathir. And Dr. Mahathir would spend time at this resort to write his speeches. After all Vincent had already become Dr. Mahathir’s buddy.

In the case of Tun Razak, he would spend time at Government bungalows either at Cameron Highlands or Fraser’s Hill so that he would not be seen to patronise any businessman with luxurious facilities.

Dr. Mahathir was ‘a simple man’ and he would not mind patronising such places like the resorts at Bukit Tinggi. After all the resorts have many attractions and one of them being the Japanese Restaurant. Dr. Mahathir, I was told, liked Japanese cuisine.

Vincent did a good study of the man in power then. He knew the likes and dislikes of the man. Once confidence had been built, it would be easy to talk and discuss various topics with this man who held the destiny of the country. It would also be nice to impress other notable people if he could show that the man in power was a close chum of his. He could slap the man’s back in public if he wanted to.

Once, when Vincent was still trying to gain the confidence of Dr. Mahathir, he became very angry with me for blemishing his image with Dr. Mahathir. Anyway Dr. Mahathir would not listen and believe anything I told him of any black marks about all these “successful” businessmen. He thought I mentioned all these out of jealousy. That was always his favourite remark.

Vincent, after having gained the confidence of the man holding the destiny of the nation, was now a man in the corridors of power. He was able to strut around and discuss matters of national importance. It would also be possible to influence Mahathir’s decisions on such matters.

When his name was mentioned in the Lingam tape scandal, it was never a surprise to me. The man had made it into the corridors of power.


Thanks, Ahmad, for allowing me to post your piece on my blog. Most of the tycoons around Tun Dr. Mahathir knew how to please him and would be bend backwards to accommodate the needs of this very powerful man. Once the Tun trusted them, they could get away with blue murder (figuratively speaking). Some of them have deserted him and are now hanging around Badawi; but not Tan Sri Vincent Tan, who would play both sides. —Din Merican

Trip to Kedah

By Din Merican


Dear Friends,

I will be on a road trip again, this time back to my hometown, Alor Star, Kedah where Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be holding a series of ceramahs. It will be another exciting trip to witness for myself and enjoy the sense of elation whenever Dato Seri Anwar meets ordinary people. I shall have a report for you when I return to Kuala Lumpur.

Thanks for visiting my blog and I am most grateful for your support. My only wish is that more of you, my dear friends, give me your comments and feedback. Please have the courage to express your views and share your ideas. In my experience, I find that there are no correct answers and I know that we have to look at things from many different perspectives. If we want change, we must be able to articulate it. It is not enough to complain. We must take action. There are risks, of course, but remember that even a turtle must stick its neck out in order to move forward.

Join the turtles and be a ninja! A new dawn awaits us…

Mahathir: “Pak Lah overstaying welcome”

source: http://www.malaysiakini.com

AFP | Jan 30, 08 4:23pm

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said he never intended his successor Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to serve more than one term and suggested he should stand down.

Abdullah, who has had a very public falling out with the veteran leader, will contest for his second term in general elections expected to be held in March.

Mahathir previously said he made a mistake in picking Abdullah, and should have opted for influential deputy prime minister Najib Razak.

“That was my thinking, since (Abdullah) was older than Najib, he should be PM for one term and then Najib should be able to take over,” he told a press conference at the launch of selected letters to world leaders.

“I know it takes time to implement plans and projects but I think if that is to be used as an excuse to stay in power for 18 years then that will not be very welcome.”

Abdullah won a landslide victory in 2004 polls when voters were enthused by his plans to fight corruption, but since then he has been widely criticised for inaction and suffered a steep tumble in popularity.

In recent months he has faced an unprecedented wave of public protests over the rights of minority ethnic Indians, as well as electoral reform and rising food and fuel prices.

“They see a government that is retreating and they want to take advantage,” Mahathir said of the street rallies which would have been unthinkable during his term in power which ended in 2003 after more than two decades.

Abdullah was Mahathir’s hand-picked successor when he stepped down, but after the new leader dumped several of his pet projects he began launching accusations of economic mismanagement, nepotism and corruption.

Enduring Friends: Vincent and The Tun

By Din Merican


In his recent testimony before the Haidar Commission, gaming magnate, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, commented on his links to the former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He said that he and the Tun met in the early 1980s when he brought the McDonald franchise to Malaysia. Initially, this friendship was strictly professional. He then acknowledged that “I owe whatever success I have in business to him…He was the Prime Minister of the country for a long time. He is a very powerful man.I don’t want to go around claiming he’s my good friend. But I’m very pleased that he said I’m an old friend”.

In my capacity as Director of Corporate Affairs and Planning, Sime Darby Group, I travelled to Seoul with Tan Sri Vincent Tan when, as part of the Malaysian business delegation, we accompanied the then Prime Minister, Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on his official visit to South Korea (in 1986). Tan Sri Vincent was then a young businessman and an emerging entrepreneur. We chatted about Ray Kroc, the man behind the McDonald empire and how hard he worked to convince Ray to give him the franchise for Malaysia.

I wanted to know what Ray was like, having read about the man and his concept of business. Ray was a hands-on manager with a passion for service quality and a stickler for cleanlinesss. I remember, Tan Sri Vincent mentioning to me that he had to attend a programme at the Hamburger University to learn the art of making burgers and the McDonald business culture and model before Ray was convinced that he was their man for Malaysia. I admired him for his capacity for hard work and his business acumen, and entrepreneurial skills. He was also an excellent networker with an engaging personality. But I was shocked to learn from listening last year (September, 2007) to the now famous “Correct, Correct and Correct” Lingam video clip that his name was mentioned together Tunku Adnan.

I am still too embarassed to admit that I was naive then in thinking that business was very straightforward with a strong orientation towards maximising shareholder value. I was trained in an American Business School to look at business as a stream of future cash flows—the further one goes into the future the riskier the cashflows— and one had to make one’s decisions on the basis of the maximum total expected value of these cashflows which are determined by a certain discount rate. But in the real world, business is more complex than what I had learnt from my professors. Politics gets in the way of one’s decisions and more often than not managers are forced to learn the art of taking care (greasing) of politicians, their cronies and top civil servants, and other functionaries.


January 31, 2008

Since posting this piece, I was severely criticised by a respected entrepreneur—also a close friend— for being too kind to Vincent Tan and Tun Mahathir. I told him that I had expected my readers to read between the lines.

A Muslim leader should not condone gambling and other forms of gaming, he added. My friend made it plainly clear to me that Tun Mahathir gave Vincent Tan a licence to print money. His gaming company kept Vincent out of financial trouble all these years, and that is the real reason why the friendship between the two men is enduring!! Tun Mahathir had given licences to others, including a virtual monopoly over our air waves plus licence to run a lottery to an Indian billionaire businessman. 

I will state clearly that the fixing of judicial  appointments and judicial decisions is just unacceptable anywhere in the world, and those who had a hand in this should be severely dealt with, irrespective of their status or rank. I assume, the true  purpose  of  a Royal Commission is to get at the truth, nothing but the truth. I will, therefore, hold Commissioner Datuk Mahadev Shanker to his words: “The only hands we have here are the hands that God has given us. These are the hands, together with other skills which have been divinely provided, which we will use in this inquiry.” (seee page 8, The New Straits Times, January 31, 2008).

Well said, Datuk Shanker. I agree, since we are all God’s creations. Even our political leaders and administrators have divinely designed hands. But I wonder what they have been doing with their hands over the last 50 years. Some of them have put their hands in the national till, and continue to do so with impunity. Huge commissions—almost RM1 billion— have been earned, for example, by a senior Minister from the purchase of two French built submarines and a fleet of Russian made fighter jets. He used his God given hands to sign those deals.

Now the state of Malaysia is rotten. Corruption is rampant; our judiciary is severely compromised and in urgent need of root and branch reform; our civil service is dysfunctional because those in charge have become politicians; our country is lagging behind other nation states in the region because our leaders are playing politics with our economy and public administration; our universities are of poor quality because there is no academic freedom and our professors have become cheerleaders and “kaki ampus” of the Government in power and, finally, Malaysians are divided along ethnic and religious lines and we are being led by an inept Prime Minister who has overstayed his welcome.

As a private citizen, I have the right to state that I am dissatisfied with the way the Haidar Commission handled the hearings. Key witnesses were not called to give evidence. Anwar Ibrahim and lawyer Mohamad Shafee Abdullah, for example, were denied their day at the hearings while the others appeared in camera. The public right to know is being suppressed. —Din Merican