Appalled by Gutter Politics in Malaysia

March 31, 2011

Finally: Statement by Joint Action Group for Gender Equality*

It is time for Malaysian politics to get out of the gutter, stop campaigns to slander personal reputations and focus on the important issues facing Malaysia today.

A video that was allegedly filmed on 21 February 2011, which shows a man, allegedly an opposition politician, having sex with a “foreign prostitute”, is the latest in a series of sordid debacles to which Malaysian voters have sadly been exposed.

The timing of the release of the tape coupled with the intense politicisation surrounding the case raises some serious concerns about the state of Malaysian politics.

Seeking to undermine the credibility of individuals for political gain in this way is insulting and condescending to Malaysians.

The exposing of such a video at such a time insults Malaysian voters’ intelligence as it is clearly intended to divert attention away from the critical issues facing this country.

The Three Sex Stooges of Malaysian Politics

The critical issues being the widespread corruption, abuse of power, financial mismanagement, wastage of resources and empty rhetoric by those in power.

This farcical situation also raises the concern of what seems to be becoming a culture of spying in this country. Although it must be said that the authenticity of the most recent video is suspect, it is deeply unfortunate that such “spy tapes” are lapped up by journalists.

Even in past cases in recent years in which authentic photos or videos of politicians have surfaced, it is the role of the media to examine the motives behind such exposure and not play into the hands of those with power and money.

A further issue of significant concern is the way in which the woman depicted in the video has been treated.

The loaded terms “prostitute” of “foreign” or “Chinese” appearance in news reports are clearly used to demonise the woman, and by extension, further tarnish the man in the video.

The particular opposition leader who is the focus of this latest furore has had more than his fair share of attacks on his character.

If we are going to hold politicians to a higher moral standard, then this must extend beyond bedroom practices to democratic and ethical values and practices, and these standards must be applied consistently across the board.

The dubious circumstances surrounding this latest episode only serves to alienate the electorate and erode confidence in our political and democratic processes, especially during a time when full, clear and impartial information about the policies and promises of political parties is needed so that voters can make informed choices at the ballot box.

*The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) comprises:

Ulysses: “To strive, to seek,to find, not to yield”

March 31, 2011

Alfred Lord Tennyson‘s Ulysses: Uplifting our Spirits

Najib must Lead, not be Led

The last two stanzas of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses are inspiring for all of us who must face the challenges of living in a much confused Malaysia. We seem to be without direction, drifting in a sea of acronyms (ETP, NKRA, NEM) and slogans like 1Malaysia: Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian DiUtamakan, Malaysia Boleh and Wawasan 2020.  Promises, Promises, Projects, Projects (4Ps), if I may add. So let us be inspired by Ulysses and verses from Lord Tennyson’s poem of the same name.

Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are,
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Maybe my friends, for one fleeting moment in Malaysia there was a Camelot. Or could I be dreaming? I remember this  tune by Julie Andrews on YouTube. –Din Merican

Datuk T Sex Video: Shuib Lazim is the Fall Guy

March 31, 2011

Regina Lee @www.malaysiakini reports:

Datuk T  Sex Video:  Shuib Lazim is the Fall Guy

One of the ‘Datuk T’ trio, PERKASA treasurer Shuib Lazim, has come out to clear the air over his role in the recent sex video purportedly showing an opposition politician having sex with a prostitute.

Owning up over the video, he dismissed claims that he was merely an ‘innocent bystander’ over the whole episode. “I really do take full responsibility over this video,” he told Malaysiakini when contacted.

This is in contrast to the claims by Sungai Petani MP from PKR Johari Abdul, who reckoned that Shuib was an unwitting accomplice to the debacle over the video, which showed a man resembling opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim engaging in a sex act with a woman claimed to be a prostitute.

Johari (left) – who is also Shuib’s nephew – had earlier defended his uncle and said Shuib had told him privately that he did not think Anwar was the man in the video. “I know my uncle and I don’t think he’ll go that far. I think he’s just an innocent bystander… I think he is just a ‘matcher’ because I am his nephew.

“Shuib also told me that he does not believe that it was (Anwar) in the video and I think he called me to watch it because he genuinely wanted me to see it and verify this,” Johari was reported to have said last Thursday.

However, Shuib said this could not be further from the truth. “I know that (the video) is the truth. I know that this is all real and that is why I joined the Datuk T gang. If it wasn’t true, I would not have agreed to it,” he said.

Asked about Johari’s allegations about his role, Shuib said that it was probably a case of the lawmaker wanting to “defend his boss”.

Death threats against Shuib

The 22-minute video recording was released last Monday by an initially mysterious Datuk T, who later unmasked themselves as being a ‘trio’ of businessman Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, former Malacca chief minister Rahim Thamby Chik and Shuib.

Shuib not present at their press conference on Wednesday, giving rise to speculation that he was not exactly a willing party.Shuib, who sounded tired but affable over the phone, also said that he has received death threats. He refuted an article in the New Straits Times yesterday that he had placed himself under voluntary house arrest, saying he still ventured out.

“The Police just told me to be careful,” he said, denying that he received any police protection. Shuib also said that he has given his statement to the police twice over the video, the most recent being two days ago.

Saying that he was still staying in his Kuala Lumpur residence, he joked that he would be “going into hiding” back in his hometown in Sungai Petani, Kedah, soon. “I nak sembunyi dah. I dah nak lari (I want to go into hiding now. I want to flee),” he said with a chuckle.

‘Foolish, childish rants’

In a related development, PKR political bureau member and MP for Subang Sivarasa Rasiah warned Eskay against repeating his “foolish and childish rants” about Anwar’s purported travels to Thailand or anywhere else.

Sivarasa, who is also one of Anwar’s legal counsel, said “no sensible person would deem it necessary to answer the sort of questions that Eskay was posturing with pretended bravado.”

“If Eskay has any specific accusations to make, then he should make them and meet the consequences, legal and otherwise,” the lawyer said in a statement late last night.

Eskay is reported to have challenged Anwar to answer his questions about ‘trips’ to Thailand and his activities in a hotel there.

“Over the past two years, how many times has Anwar been to Thailand? Who greeted Anwar in Thailand? Which hotel did Anwar stay in?

“What was Anwar doing in the hotel? And who paid for the travel expenses?” Eskay was quoted as having said yesterday.

“Don’t force me to reveal all of this. Ask Anwar to answer these questions before attacking me,” he added.

Sivarasa said Anwar has been advised not to respond to Eskay’s “foolishness”. “Eskay seems to have the benefit of BN-conferred immunity from criminal prosecution despite having openly committed the criminal offence of being in possession of an obscene video and also publicly screening it.However any specific accusation that he chooses to make instead of these foolish, vacuous questions will be met with the appropriate and stern legal riposte,” said Sivarasa.

Daim: Previous Models to build BBC failed

March 31, 2011

Daim: Previous Models to build Bumiputera Business Class(BBC) Failed

by Aidila Razak@

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin today defended the much-criticised New Economic Policy (NEP), but said that previous models used to build a bumiputera business class have failed.

Speaking to a full house audience at the sixth installment of the Universiti Tun Abdul Razak lecture series in Kuala Lumpur today, he said that in fact the NEP was a “noble effort” with logical goals.

Daim (right) said that when the country received its independence, the British policy of divide-and-rule had caused severe income and ethnic disparity which needed to be addressed through social engineering that was the New Economic Policy.

Ethnic economic aspiration become an important factor in economic development policies. NEP was to expand the economy and benefit all ethnic groups.

Malays and bumiputera (who make up about 60 percent of the population) are politically dominant. A political party not sensitive of this group cannot hope to rule the country.

“Some of the NEP exist elsewhere, in the United States it is called affirmative action… to assist the low-income group, the alleviation of poverty, to reduce regional imbalances. There is nothing wrong with eradicating poverty and reducing disparity.

“It is a noble effort and we shouldn’t be apologetic about it. It affects the whole society (regardless of ethnicity) either directly and indirectly,” he said, adding that poverty data today compared to the 1970s is evident of NEP’s partial success.

Daim, who last week broke his long silence in an interview with Mingguan Malaysia, added that when the government pursued the policy to award contracts to companies with part-bumiputera ownership, it was at a time when the community was still “weak” and had “no networks like the non-bumiputera” business community who had more experience.

“If (a project was awarded) to a bumiputera company, the bulk of work was given to a non-bumiputera company. There was still trickle down (and) no deprivation of the non-bumiputera (business class) in sharing in the spoils of development,” he said.

As evidence of this, he said, the bumiputera community has yet to achieve the 30 percent equity target set for 1990, and currently only holds 21.9 percent.  Additionally, he said, none of the top 10 companies in Bursa Malaysia are owned by bumiputera.

Need to develop a new model

All the same, he said that the old model of providing licences, subsidies and approved permits to the bumiputera in hopes of building entreprenuers had failed and is no longer sustainable given diminishing public funds.

“My main concern is the need to develop a new model (to build) Malays in business and entrepreneurship. In the past we have used licences, approved permits, financial support, etc, but has it brought about sustainable entrepreneurship? The answer is no… (and) it is no longer tenable. There is a need to have a Malay group that is more sustainable and less dependent on government support. This is an unfinished business,” he said in his speech.

Similarly, he said, Malay rights group PERKASA’s discontent with the New Economic Model shows a reluctance to let go of old inefficient models, which  are incompatible with market needs as well as the state of public funds.

Elaborating in the question-and-answer session, Daim said Malaysia’s small economy is facing greater liberalisation and Malays should not fear this as it is an opportunity to prepare themselves for competition.

“Have we achieved something for the Malays and the business community, yes, but when we do this there is still a gap. The only way is through education, with education you can stand on own feet. The government’s role is to provide education… and after that don’t come and say ‘I don’t have a job’.

‘I believe I am better than the Chinese’

“We have more Malay graduates now compared to the 1960s and 1970s and (still) you say we can’t compete, then there’s something wrong with us. I don’t believe that we are less intelligent than the Chinese… I believe I am better than the Chinese. You can say you’re clever but I say I’m cleverer [sic],” he said.

“PERKASA is looking at bumiputera interests, saying we cannot achieve 30 percent equity, blah, blah, but this is subject to debate and it is good that there is a debate so people understand… that (the government) is not depriving (Malays) of anything and if (the Malays) are good then (the government) will not stop (them) from being successful,” he said.

Amusing the audience, he said that politicians generally “don’t know nothing about the economy” and that “they only know how to spend money and please their voters”.

As such, he said that his advice is to “let them be politicians, not economists” and make sure that they have the right advisors.

The former politician, who has previously been nicknamed “Diam Daim” (Silent Daim) added that he is prepared to offer advice, but only if it is sought.  “I don’t want to be a busybody,” he said.

Alkitab Row: Federal Government Overtures rejected

March 30, 2011

Alkitab Row: The CFM rejected Federal Government Overtures

by Debra

Christian Federation of Malaysia

Founded in 1986.

Mission Statement: We, who are Christians belonging to different Christian churches, denominations and organizations but professing the same Christian faith, have resolved to form the Christian Federation of Malaysia through which we, as a community, shall endeavour, together with other religious communities, to play our part as loyal and useful citizens of our nation.

“No religious community will ever want to suffer the indignity of having its sacred scriptures banned and prohibited as though it is some seditious material or a contraband product considered immoral.”

“That this has [been] done repeatedly over so many years is an affront and insult to the religious community concerned and raises very serious questions about the status of religious freedom and respect for other religions in our country.”–Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) rejected today the federal government’s overture in the Alkitab row, saying it did not resolve the core issue which is the erosion of basic human rights protected by the Federal Constitution.

The umbrella body representing over 90 per cent of churches here was referring specifically to Putrajaya’s offer to mask the Home Ministry’s stamp and serial numbering of 35,100 copies of the Malay bibles shipped in from Indonesia last week, as laid down last week by its Christian minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jala, who is in charge of government and economic transformation.

Jala, in his statement on March 22, also said that certain Christian donors had also offered to fully replace, free of charge, the two marked cargoes at Port Klang and Kuching, which had been seized and detained by home ministry officials.

The CFM did not seem mollified by Jala’s attempts to placate the community, maintaining that the act — which had been carried out quietly and without the bible importers’ consent — amounted to a desecration of the Christian holy book and an outright show of disrespect, breaching the guarantees of this country’s highest law.

“Our position is that there should be no restrictions, proscriptions or prohibitions whatsoever on the bible or the use of the language of our choice in the practice of our religion, as it was in the days before and after the formation of Malaysia,” CFM said in a statement here today, adding that the Alkitab issue was not the only restriction.

It noted that there has been a “systematic and progressive pushing back” of Christian rights — dating back to the 1980s — namely the right to practise, profess and express their faith.

It pointed to a series of restrictions imposed on Christians, such as the freedom to wear and openly display religious symbols, like the cross; the building of churches; and even what words can be used in a Christian religious context.

The Catholic Church and other Christian groups and individuals on both sides of the South China Sea have challenged the home minister for imposing those restrictions, which centre on the use of the Arabic word for God, “Allah”, but their cases have been stuck in queue in the courts since 2008 with no end in sight.

“In order to move forward, we call on the Government to commit itself once and for all to remove every impediment, whether legal or administrative, to the importation, publication, distribution and use of the Alkitab and indeed to protect and defend our right to use the Alkitab,” it said.

It demanded the federal government start by cancelling all orders made under the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, as well as the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984, which categorised the Alkitab as a threat to national security and public order.

“Christians, like any other Malaysians, are not demanding for anything beyond our constitutional and fundamental human rights as enshrined in Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution and Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said the group, led by its chairman, Anglican Bishop Ng Moon Hing.

CFM also said that it would leave the decision of what to do with the marked cargo to the affected importers, the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and the Sarawak branch of global Christian group, The Gideons.

“We have left it to the two importers to decide whether or not to collect the Alkitab, based on their different specific circumstances and level of trust in the authorities and the processes in their local context,” it said.

With polls set to be called in Sarawak in just over two weeks, the controversy is expected to weigh on the minds of Christians who make up nearly close to half of the hornbill state’s total population.

Friends and Fellow Bloggers,

I introduce to you the passionate Advocate of “Respect for the Dignity of Difference”, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks. Listen to him with an open mind and then let us discuss his presentation rationally. How do we end this rivalry of siblings.–Din Merican

Public Protest against Lynas Corp of Australia

March 30, 2011

To Lynas Corp: Pack Up and Leave  Gebang, Pahang for Australia

by Joseph Sipalan@

A group of Pahang residents has urged Australia’s Lynas Corp to “pack up and leave” Malaysia and abandon plans to build a rare earth refinery in Gebeng, near Kuantan.

Vincent Jiam, leader of a group of Pahang residents protesting the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant, said that plant would bring more harm than good.”Please pack up and leave and go home. Don’t leave anything behind… don’t even leave your slippers behind,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

Jiam (left) and some 10 representatives of the group were in Parliament to hand a protest petition to Prime Minsiter Najib Abdul Razak.“I’m just a kindergarten teacher. We want the top man to decide,” said Jiam.

The group, however, were not allowed to see the premier, claiming that his aides turned them away without even taking a copy of their memorandum. “(One of Najib’s officers) told me, ‘(you) could go around the country all you want, but for two months you still cannot get an appointment with him’. Why would I want to go around the country? I just want to go to the top man,” he said at a press conference at the Parliament lobby.

PM must be our ‘Father’

“Everyone knows the top man can make decisions and we know he can make a right decision for us.I was hoping he would become like a father to us for just one moment, and take the memorandum,” Jiam said, clearly incensed by the alleged indifference of the Prime Minister’s Office staff.

Jiam, who appeared ill-at-ease sitting under the media spotlight, repeatedly stressed that neither he nor the committee members are politically inclined – and made it clear they have not much love for politicians, be it from the government or the opposition.

“(Politicians) always treat people nice(ly)… they are trying to get people’s attention and say they are concerned, to tell (us) the problems and then tell us ‘don’t be afraid’. Politicians are clever talkers.

“We don’t want that. The country will (become) the darkest country of our time, for all the wrong things that we have done. We cannot (wait) for two months to decide… I am asking the PM for (all) our sakes. Now only the PM can make the right decision,” he said.

Bukit Merah fish didn’t die, they are huge’

Jiam, who lives in Kuantan some 25km from the plant’s site at the Gebeng Industrial  Zone, pointed out that a resident of Bukit Merah – the site of an earlier rare earth plant that was closed down in 1992 – had told him of the aftermath of the radiation leakage in the area.

“I asked him if the fish died, and he told me ‘no, they are huge’. Imagine if Kuantan becomes an exporter of super huge fish, we will be sending out radiation to our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak. We don’t want that, but that is what will happen,” he said.

Jiam said the committee, which was formed on March 22, will not be deterred by their failure to meet with Najib, and will make sure their memorandum will reach each of the 222 MPs in Parliament.

He added that they have so far managed to get 20,000 signatures for a petition against the project, and they “will continue to fight” until the matter is settled in their favour.

“When this is all done, I will go back to being a kindergarten teacher. We cannot let this go on… our children will not forgive us,” he said.