PKR urged to take disciplinary action against the recalcitrant Khalid Ibrahim

July 31, 2014

PKR urged to take disciplinary action against the recalcitrant Khalid Ibrahim

A group of grassroots PKR leaders have called on the party to take disciplinary action against Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim for insisting on staying on as the state’s chief executive officer.”His recent actions clearly undermine the stance and decision of the PKR leadership council and the leadership of Pakatan Rakyat (to replace him). Therefore, we, who represent the grassroots, urge the party and top leadership to take disciplinary action against him,” reads a joint statement by five PKR division leaders.

 The five are – Mohd Yahya Mat Sahri (Tanjung Karang), Talip Bujang (Sabak Bernam), Mohamad Fauzi Ahmad (Sungai Besar), Burhan Aman Shah (Sepang) and Azizi Ayob (Kapar). The five also pledged their support for PKR President Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who was on July 21 nominated by the party to replace Khalid.

Meanwhile, PKR-linked think-tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU) said PKR was acting responsibly by proposing to replace Khalid. This is because Khalid has turned ineffective and is not a team player. Thus the party’s actions cannot be faulted, KPRU said.

It argued that under Malaysia’s democratic system, ruling political parties have the full prerogative to replace the Menteri Besar of a state, as they are voted in to rule as a party. This is different from the presidential election system of the United States, for example, which is a contest to look for the best person to lead the country.

“PKR holds the right to suggest a change of the chief executive of Selangor with a more suitable candidate and at the same time, a leader that is rejected by his own party should not cling on to his position,” a KPRU founding director, Ooi Heng, said in a statement published on its website today.

It was written in response to the recent impasse in Selangor, where PKR leaders had decided on July 22 that Khalid should be replaced by Wan Azizah (above). However, the leaders of Pakatan partner PAS publicly damned the move last week, sparking fears that Selangor government may have to go for a state election to seek a new mandate.

Final say

Under the Westminster parliamentary system that Malaysia inherited from the British, the political party that wins elections has the final say on its leadership line-up, KPRU’s Ooi noted. This means that a change in leadership in mid-term is allowed and whether the said new leader is viewed positively or negatively is irrelevant.

KPRU cited that this was also the case when the ruling Australian Labour Party replaced the country’s prime minister Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard midway in 2010.Rudd initially protested the changeover bid by his party members, but then relented.

“This showed political maturity – a maturity based on an understanding of the operation and functions of a parliamentary system and the associated political party system,” Ooi said.

He questioned whether, amidst the much ado over PKR’s plan to replace Khalid as Menteri Besar, Malaysian politicians could also show similar political maturity, which would also promote a key tenet of Pakatan’s fight to be different from BN.

Ooi also drew parallels between Khalid and Australia’s Rudd, as both are supposedly strong leaders who had fallen out of favour with their teammates. He cited open disputes over the Kidex highway, water crisis and Bible raid issues as indications that Khalid didn’t trust his own executive councillors and wanted a monopoly on power, disregarding alternative views.

“There is no more time to waste by blindly ignoring the problems that have arisen under the administration of Khalid. A a solution has to be found and implemented as soon as possible,” Ooi said.

Tan Sri Halim Saad set to take Sumatec up the corporate ladder

July 31, 2014

Tan Sri Halim Saad set to take Sumatec up the corporate ladder

by Sharen – 31 July 2014 @ 1:15 AM

ASSET INJECTION: Firm targeting more than RM1b profit by 2018, say sources

FORMER Renong Bhd Executive Chairman Tan Sri Halim Saad is scaling up Sumatec Resources Bhd, which is set to make more than RM1 billion in net profit by 2018.

Halim Saad3

Halim controls 24.9 per cent of Sumatec and has been maintaining his shares since last November as he believes that the company can grow fast. “He is not selling his shares any time soon. He plans to build up the company by injecting more assets into it. He is eyeing some oil and gas (O&G) assets in Central Asia,” said a source.

Sumatec expects to produce 30,000 barrels of oil a day in Kazakhstan by 2018. Sources say the company is targeting an average net profit of US$30 (RM95.30) per barrel. “This means it will make around US$900,000 a day from 30,000 barrels, or more than US$328.5 million a year, compared with less than US$20 million currently from existing operations,” said the source.

For the financial year ending December 31 2014, Sumatec is projecting RM69 million in profits. The firm is producing oil at the Rakuschechnoye field with Markmore Energy (Labuan) Ltd, which is 99 per cent-owned by Halim.

Sumatec expects to produce 5,000 barrels of oil and gas a day from this field in the next three years. It is also acquiring Borneo Energy Oil and Gas Ltd, which owns 100 per cent of Buzachi Neft LLP, for US$250 million in cash and shares.

Buzachi has two 25-year contracts  to explore and produce oil and gas in the Karaturun Vostochnyi and Karaturun Morskoi fields, also known as Buzachi Fields.

At a recent media briefing, Sumatec Chief Executive Officer Chris Dalton said he expects the acquisition to be completed by October. He said the two assets will contribute US$1.62 million to Sumatec’s profits in the fourth quarter.

Sumatec is targeting to produce 25,000 barrels of oil and gas a day from the Buzachi Fields.  Meanwhile, Sumatec is expected to move out of its  PN17 status by next month and will submit its application to the Securities Commission soon.

US Report: Religious intolerance rising in Malaysia

July 30, 2014

US Report: Religious intolerance rising in Malaysia

The United States has expressed concern over growing religious intolerance in Malaysia as Islamic sects are being persecuted in public and in secret, along with abstruse laws aimed at blocking those wishing to leave Islam.

In the recently released ‘International Religious Freedom Report 2013’ the US noted that observers continued to express concern that “the secular civil and criminal court system had ceded jurisdictional control to syariah courts, particularly in areas of family law involving disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims.”

The report also raised alarm that the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM), under the Prime Minister’s purview, now had full power to determine what was proper Islamic teaching and hammer away at those who did not agree.

“The government reportedly has a secret list of “sects” banned as “deviant” interpretations of Islam which included over 50 groups,” the report, submitted to the US Congress, said.

It notes that among those publicly banned were Shia, Ahmadiyah and Al Arqam believers. “Members of banned groups may not speak freely about their religious beliefs. The government may detain Muslims who deviate from accepted Sunni principles and subject them to mandatory “rehabilitation” in centers that teach and enforce government-approved Islamic practices,” the report noted.

Jamil KhirThe report singled out Prime Minister’s Department Minister Jamil Khir Baharom (left), Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and  Kedah Chief Minister Mukhriz Mahathir as among government leaders who publicly backed and carried out the government’s policy to weed out Shia and Al Arqam followers in the country.

It added that these forced “rehabilitation programmes” could last up to six months.

One-way street

The US also expressed concern that Islam was a one-way street in Malaysia. “The law strictly forbids proselytising of Muslims by non-Muslims, but allows and supports Muslims proselytising others.Neither the right to leave Islam nor the legal process of conversion is clearly defined in law,” it said.

This has led to the Syariah court having an bigger say on child custody issues when parents of mixed-faith divorce.

The US report noted that the case of M. Indira Gandhi, dating from 2009, remains unresolved. In another case, Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah faced much difficulty in getting the courts to hear her case, challenging the validity of her conversion to Islam when she was seven years old.

“At year’s end, the police had taken no action to return the youngest child to Gandhi, and the case was ongoing,” the report stated.

“Religious NGOs contended that syariah courts did not give equal weight to the testimony of women. Several NGOs dedicated to the advancement of women’s rights continued to state that women did not receive fair treatment from syariah courts, primarily in matters of divorce, child custody, and enforcement of alimony payments,” it said.

The report also noted that there were stringent laws restricting the use of certain words exclusively to Muslims, including the controversial court case over use of “Allah” by Catholic publication, the Herald. Other restricted words included ‘baitullah’ (house of God), ‘Kaabah’ (location toward which Muslims pray) and ‘salat’ (prayer).

Meanwhile, under a section on “Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom” the US report singled out Malay rights NGO Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali as an unpunished violator.

“In January, Ibrahim Ali (right), President of the Muslim NGO Perkasa, called for bibles to be burnt… In Ib Aliresponse to his statement, lawyers and human rights activists called for action to be taken against Ibrahim Ali for inciting religious disharmony, hatred, disunity, and discomfort, which is punishable by law. The Attorney General’s Chambers noted that they would only take action against Ibrahim Ali if the bibles were actually burnt,” the report said.

Other incidences

Other incidences of religious bigotry in Malaysia cited in the 13-page report included:

  • The use of Registrar of Societies (under Home Ministry) to arbitrarily determine whether a religious group may be registered and thereby qualify for government grants and other benefits. It noted that Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) were registered businesses in Malaysia.
  •  State laws in in Kelantan and Terengganu making apostasy, defined as conversion from Islam to another faith, a capital offense. However it notes this law has yet to be implemented.
  • Islamic religious instruction is compulsory for Muslim children in public schools; non-Muslim students are required to take nonreligious morals and ethics courses. Local churches and temple groups unsuccessfully urged the government to include the option for non-Muslim religion classes to be held during the school day.
  • State governments have exclusive authority over allocation of land for, and the construction of, all places of worship, as well as land allocation for all cemeteries.
  • On October 24, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission questioned two radio producers after they conducted an interview with American religious scholar Dr. Reza Aslan, who criticized the Malaysian government over the ban of the use of word “Allah” by non-Muslims.
  • In August the Sultan of Johor, the highest Islamic authority in the state, called for a Muslim prayer hall at a privately-owned resort to be demolished after a group of Buddhists used the hall for religious meditation.
  • According to the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Taoists (MCCBCHST), the government continued its practice of restricting visas for foreign Muslim and non-Muslim clergy under the age of 40 as a means of preventing “militant clergy” from entering the country.
  • The government continued to require, but did not strictly enforce, all Muslim civil servants to attend approved religion classes, and several government agencies pressured non-Muslim women to wear headscarves while attending official functions.
  • Kelantan’s restrictive laws prohibiting traditional performances such as Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit and overzealous enforcement on conservative women dressing codes and crackdown on hair salon publicity posters which displayed hair.

Positive note

The report ended with a positive note: “Unlike previous years, there were no reports of public anti-Semitic statements made by government representatives.”

John KerrryReleased on July 28 to mark International Religious Freedom Day, US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) stressed that “nations that protect this fundamental freedom will have the partnership of the United States and the abiding commitment of the American people as we seek to advance freedom of religion worldwide.”

Kerry also announced the following countries as Countries of Particular Concern (CPC): Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Turkmenistan has been designated a CPC for the first time this year.The reports, now in their 16th edition, are available on and

Read the full report on Malaysia here.

PAS risks isolation if it quits Pakatan

July 30, 2014

PAS risks isolation if it quits Pakatan, analysts say

by Boo Su-Lyn and Ida

PAS risks losing the support of some moderates, both Muslim and otherwise, if it pursues a path that is at odds with its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) allies on key issues, including its insistence on hudud laws and retaining Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor Mentri Besar, observers said.

Hadi2Trust his Judgement of Khalid Ibrahim?

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said there is increasing belief within PAS that it can do better without PKR, but warned that such confidence could backfire if snap polls are called as a result of the imbroglio over Khalid’s position as Selangor MB.

“PAS will be the biggest loser and PAS will also be the cause of Pakatan’s losses,” Wan Saiful told Malay Mail Online when contacted. “But not because of hudud. It will simply be because they will have to rely on their own supporters and their numbers are not that big. Their gains so far are because of Pakatan,” the political analyst added.

Wan Saiful said PAS is mistaken if it believes that it can have a better chance of implementing hudud, the controversial Islamic penal code, by leaving PR. “The only party talking about hudud in the country is PAS. If they continue that campaign alone, they will become a truly lone voice,” he said.

PAS has expanded beyond its northern Malay strongholds in Kedah and Kelantan and made significant inroads in the west coast states in the 2008 and 2013 general elections, bagging 23 and 21 parliamentary seats in total respectively. In 2004, it only won seven seats.

PAS, PKR and DAP worked together in 2008 by not contesting in the same seats. The political cooperation was formalised as the PR pact shortly after the 2008 general election, and the coalition mounted a strong challenge against Barisan Nasional (BN) in Election 2013, robbing the long-ruling coalition of a two-thirds majority and pushing it to its weakest election performance.

In Election 2013, PAS was represented in every state in Peninsula Malaysia at the federal or state level, except for Negri Sembilan. Merdeka Center Chief Ibrahim Suffian said PAS’ campaign for hudud has eroded its non-Malay support.

“It will definitely be punished by non-Malay voters if it is out of Pakatan,” Ibrahim told Malay Mail Online. PAS’ best option is to renew its commitment to Pakatan and abide by its decisions and use the remainder of the term to deliver on promises and showcase its positive universalist values,” the political analyst added.

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said PAS risks losing mixed seats that have a significant non-Malay and non-Muslim electorate if snap polls were to be called in Selangor, pointing to the Islamist party’s diminished electoral performance in the 2008 general election. “There was a period when PAS did not win that many seats in Selangor,” Khoo told Malay Mail Online.

PAS won 15 state seats in Selangor in the general election last year, while DAP and PKR won 15 and 14 seats respectively, allowing PR to form the state government with a two-thirds majority in the 56-seat state legislative assembly. In the 2008 general election, however, PAS bagged just eight state seats in Selangor.

Centre for Policy Initiatives Director Dr Lim Teck Ghee said PAS’s Malay support would decline further if the party were to leave PR. “Their best option if they want to be politically relevant is to remain with PR,” Lim told Malay Mail Online.

Some within PAS have reportedly agreed with PKR and DAP during the PR presidential council meeting last week that Khalid should be removed from his office as Selangor Mentri Besar, but the Islamist party’s top leaders — president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat — have thrown their support behind the PKR man.

A senior PR leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said PR could lose Selangor if snap polls are called because PAS could lose more than half of its seats, while DAP could lose two to three seats and PKR could lose three to four seats.

“Without a handful of PAS seats to support PR, PKR and DAP will likely lose Selangor with only 24 to 25 seats in total,” he told Malay Mail Online. “PAS was heavily reliant on an overwhelming non-Malay support to win many of their seats in GE13. Their positions on hudud, Al-Kitab and their betrayal of Pakatan Rakyat over the MB issue will severely damage their support from the minorities, while at the same time, not give them any additional support from the Malays vis-a-vis support for UMNO,” the leader added.

The PR leader said the seven PAS seats at risk in a snap election are Sabak, Dusun Tua, Seri Serdang, Paya Jaras, Sijangkang, Morib and Tanjung Sepat-seats it won in 2013 with majorities below 2,000 votes.

PAS Vice-President Salahuddin Ayub admitted that his party stood to lose the most from a snap election. “PAS will suffer the most. If we fail to solve the problem, Pakatan Rakyat may lose the state election,” Salahuddin told Malay Mail Online when contacted on Monday.

But he said that PR will “try to avoid” having to go through a fresh round of elections by resolving the Selangor Menteri Besar issue in the pact’s upcoming presidential meeting.

BOOK REVIEW: Shankaran Nambiar’s The Malaysian Economy: Rethinking Policies & Purposes

July 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Shankaran Nambiar’s new book, The Malaysian Economy: Rethinking Policies & Purposes 

by Tricia Yeoh@

FEW writers and analysts are able to both identify precisely the challenges facing the Malaysian economy as well as communicate these in a manner easy to digest. Shankaran Nambiar’s new book, The Malaysian Economy: Rethinking Policies & Purposes does so with bold and relevant commentary. Dating from 2003 to the present, this compilation of writings focuses on six broad themes including the need to strengthen institutions, the importance of competitiveness, regional trade, fiscal reform and finally, the reality that is the influence of elections and politics over economic policy.

?????????????????????What is prevalent throughout the book is the clear economic position he takes, arguing for a more open and free economy, one in which companies and traders would be able to compete without the shackles of a large and interventionist government. He takes cognisance that our neighbours are moving at a rapid pace, and mentions specifically China in its ability to out-compete many in the region, but that Malaysia would need to “develop our human capital and readjust our institutional framework to align it with global requirements.”

Of course, on the economic ideological continuum, criticisms often abound of the far-right leaning liberal position. More specifically, public sentiment in Malaysia has weighed heavily against the free market and privatisation. This is not surprising, since the Malaysian version of “free market” and “privatisation” is anything but. It has been but a muddied example of what a free market could actually do to improve the quality of goods and services.

Nambiar does not shy away from this oftentimes-controversial debate. He states explicitly, “privatisation, in theory, implies giving markets a bigger role … privatised companies have to be efficient … and cannot rely on the government to bail them out.”

Theoretically, yes. But in the execution of it – and Malaysia has done a poor job at this – privatisation has not been done in a fair, competitive way. In fact, what took place in our context is that when public entities were privatised, instead of improving efficiency, things got worse. Again, Nambiar hits it squarely on the head: “What was once a government monopoly now becomes a private monopoly. One form of inefficiency is substituted with another.”

Reading the book, one would initially conclude that he is a hard-hitting liberal – libertarian in American circles – and based on many principles, indeed this is so: his firm belief in competition, economic freedom, strong institutions and a legal framework, property rights and so on.

But what is refreshing to note is that he does not blindly accept what would typically be a liberal’s position, but views all subjects with a critical mind. Instead, he agrees with the need for a minimum wage because based on empirical research, this would transform the economy into one that is technologically advanced and contribute towards high value-added growth. A hardcore liberal economist would usually argue against the minimum wage as it is a false and forced imposition by government, which does put many small and medium companies out of business.


Finally, as many things seem to be in Malaysia, economic policy is subject to political influence, and this is evident in the many examples Nambiar provides, such as how the federal government transfers revenue to individual state governments, Najib’s electoral position determining whether or not the goods and services tax is introduced, and other “inappropriate policies” that are introduced “because of the polls”, which is “as if we have an economy balancing on the tip of a pin”, which is dangerously accurate.

Many proposals have been expressed elsewhere, on the need for fiscal reform and discipline, addressing structural issues (income distribution, corruption, crime, education), and so on. But the book’s beauty lies in its concise and deft articulation of problems and solutions. The commentaries are candid, and arguments tight. He also comes across as rational and fact-based, criticising or praising whenever necessary. This neutral, non-partisan position of analysing economic (or any other) conditions in the country is rare and must be valued.

As Malaysia enters into its final year of the 10th Malaysia Plan in 2015, and draws up its next set of policies for what would be the last five-year plan before the year 2020 – the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016 – 2020) – it is certainly worth examining Nambiar’s publication that spans the last decade or so. Where exactly are we going? Will the problems raised in his book 10 years ago start to manifest themselves in the next 10? What happens to an economy that pays little attention to such recommendations, and fails to strengthen its institutions?

Policymakers, politicians, academics and students ought to pick up this slim and thoroughly readable volume to gain a historical perspective of good and bad policy. History may not repeat itself, but its leaders may very well do – so it is up to the electorate like us to know which pressure points to press, well before the alarm bells start ringing.

SAK AK47: Short Take on Khalid Ibrahim

July 30, 2014

SAK AK47:  Short Take on Khalid Ibrahim

 Just a short take. The 2 hot issues now I think are (1) the leaked conversation between PAS members in their whatsapp group. In particular the scenario analysis of Dr Zuhdi Marzuki about the position of PAS and (2) the ignorance of Khalid Ibrahim about the unspoken rules of politics.

Nik Aziz has been proven wrong in the past

Ariff SabriMuch as I respect and revere Tok Guru Nik Aziz, he has been proven to be wrong on several occasions when judging personalities. He may be a pious man but it’s not possible for any human to have complete qashaf or knowledge beyond the physical.

I remember a long time ago, he was supportive of Abu Hassan Omar a onetime MB of Selangor. He gave such a resounding endorsement to Abu Hassan who the later expressed syukur to Nik Aziz. Abu Hassan turned out to be a dud despite Nik Aziz’s endorsement. So if I were Khalid Ibrahim, I would not be counting my chickens too soon.

I have not written about this- because the official stand of DAP is to allow these parties directly involved in these issues to sort them out. In the case of the scenario analysis, PAS should make its stand clear on this. In the case of the Selangor MB- PKR and Khalid Ibrahim.So readers please take note: this is a personal opinion of mine.

MB-ship is not like CEO of Guthrie

Khalid Ibrahim must stop believing that his position as MB is the same as being the CEO of Guthrie or even Permodalan Nasional Berhad. He is MB because his party together with the endorsement of the other PR parties agreed on his position. We do not have direct elections in choosing the MB. Khalid as an economics teacher (he taught is Sekolah Menengah Abdul Rahman Talib in Kuantan) cannot comprehend this? Instead he makes a big fuss about PAS supporting his position as MB. Where is his honour in this instance?

Khalid has no support from his own Party

You don’t have support from your own party; you have to depend on the support of another? Then he should quit PKR and join PAS. Or PAS can insist on wanting their man to become MB. They can, as suggested by Dr Zuhdi team up with UMNO and retain Khalid Ibrahim, whom the future of Selangor depended.

They must do so, because Khalid Ibrahim is the only man who can develop Selangor. PAS has only kampung ustazs and lay preachers who are more interested in other worldly pursuits and using Islam and a control tool. That will satisfy the power crazy and position starved PAS members who want to have positions in government.