Friday, February 29, 2008

Do You Believe This Najib Claim? - "Promises Not Just To Win Votes!"

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak stressed Friday that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is not one that promises to do everything for the people just to win the general election on March 8.

"We can make all sorts of promises to win but we are a responsible government and only promise things that we can implement," the deputy prime minister said.

In the field of education, for example, the government had done what was best and every promise in efforts to enhance the status and commitment of teachers had been fulfilled, he said when opening a state-level seminar on school leadership here.

"In Malaysia, new teachers who have just started work, for example, can already buy cars and take housing loans. Teachers who serve in the interior are given allowances of between RM500 and RM1,000," he said.

As such, he wanted teachers in the country to give their full commitment to the government's efforts to produce a truly educated new generation capable of contributing to the dignity of the race.

Najib also wanted the school principals and headmasters to foster relations with the local communities to ensure full cooperation from all parties, including parents, in the students' learning process.

"If the principal or headmaster is dynamic and visionary, a team leader who knows how to get along with the local community, a transformational leader, then we can make a mega leap or multiple leap in the country's education," he said, ending his speech with a poem.

Jika Kita Bersatu Hati; Negara Makmur, Rakyat Cemerlang;

Lapan Haribulan, Hari Mengundi;

Membentuk Kerajaan Gemilang Terbilang. (Bernama)

What do we call the shameless propaganda in Bernama and the mainstream media if not devious attempts to win votes? What about dishing out goodies while strongly implying that a vote for BN is a vote for better things to come, while a nod for the opposition is the beginning of the end?

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8,666 Registered Voters Aged More Than 100 On Malaysia's Electoral Roles!

Malaysia has found nearly 9,000 people aged more than 100 on its electoral rolls as it heads for general elections next month, raising suspicions that the books are "contaminated" with dead voters.

The Election Commission has found the names of 8,666 registered voters with birth dates from a century or more ago, the New Straits Times said on Friday, quoting commission secretary Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor.

They included two 128-year-olds, the daily said.

"As far as the commission is concerned, as of December 31 last year, these voters are still alive," Kamaruzaman said.

Opposition groups have complained for years that the rolls are outdated and vulnerable to fraud.

The Election Commission says it relies on a dead voter's family or officials to notify it of the death and so rolls can be outdated, but it denies scope for electoral fraud whereby someone casts more than one ballot by impersonating a dead voter.

At the elections on March 8, the commission will for the first time use indelible ink to dye a voter's finger to ensure he or she cannot attempt to cast a second ballot undetected.

"We suspect that many among them had in fact passed away but that the commission has not yet struck off their names from the rolls," said Wong Chin Huat, of electoral-reform lobby group Bersih, which includes several opposition parties.

"This suggests a high degree of contamination in the rolls, which will make it easy for people to impersonate them on polling day," Wong added.

Malaysia has 10.9 million voters and its population has a life expectancy of about 72 years for men and 76 for women.

Opposition party Parti-Islam Se-Malaysia, which first spotted the names of the two 128-year-old voters on the rolls of central Selangor state, said it was checking if they were still alive.

"We plan to apply to the Guinness Book of Records to list them as the world's oldest voters if they truly are still alive and kicking," said party spokesman Roslan Shahir said. (Reuters UK)

***** 8,666 centenarians! Wow! Even a country like Japan would be proud of those figures. I wonder why these healthy examples of longevity have not made it to our Malaysia Book of Records?
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Samy Vellu Flees From Protesters

Malaysian Indian Congress chief Samy Vellu had to cut his rally short after he was nearly accosted by more than 10 supporters of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on Tuesday.

The incident took place at 1pm when Mr Samy Vellu arrived in a market in Prai, Penang, to canvass for votes, reported Nanyang Siang Pau.

The MIC chief, who is also the Works Minister, was about to begin his rally speech and press conference when the protesters marched up to him.

Despite the presence of 50 police officers, several of the protesters managed to break through Mr Samy Vellu's security detail.

The protesters wanted Mr Samy Vellu to discuss the problems facing the Indian community as well as to release Hindraf members who have been detained for demonstrating in Kuala Lumpur last November.

But when Mr Samy Vellu saw his accosters, he quickly escaped by hopping into his car and driving off to his next destination.

This only enraged the Hindraf supporters, who kept shouting at him, saying that he should not leave if he had not done anything wrong.

Mr Samy Vellu has been labelled a political liability after several embarrassing incidents.

Besides last November's protest, which accused the MIC of failing to protect the Indian community's welfare, the Works Ministry has been saddled with problems, from leaky roofs in the Malaysian Parliament House to cracks in a major highway in Kuala Lumpur.

Speaking to reporters, the Hindraf supporters said they had no intention of hurting Mr Samy Vellu.

Claiming that the Indian community is underprivileged, the Hindraf supporters said they just wanted 10 minutes of Mr Samy Vellu's time because they felt they deserved an explanation from him.

In a separate incident that evening, Mr Samy Vellu was forced to cancel a walkabout in Lunas, Kedah, after 3,000 Hindraf supporters demonstrated against his appearance there, reported Sin Chew Daily. The demonstrators had gathered there at 6.30pm, after getting wind of Mr Samy Vellu's appearance. More than 70 riot police officers were deployed to the scene.

The son of opposition politician N. Gobalakrishnan was among the protesters, and he and two others were detained.

The standoff continued until 7.45pm, when Mr Gobalakrishnan, who is the vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, arrived at the scene and asked the police to release the detainees. Mr Gobalakrishnan was allowed to fetch his son from the Lunas Police Station.

At an earlier press conference, Mr Samy Vellu insisted that only a minority of Indians were dissatisfied with the Barisan Nasional coalition government.

He also said he believed that the BN could easily resolve the dissatisfaction of this minority. (The Electric New Paper)

***** What's surprising is Sam's tenacity and arrogance which shows no sign of diminishing. His attempt to downplay the incidents with his own interpretation of the embarrassing events is a trifle pathetic though.


Zaid Ibrahim - Champion Of Unpopular Causes

Zaid Ibrahim, a Kuala Lumpur lawyer, stepped up to help the disabled. His fight for democracy is a tougher battle.

Zaid Ibrahim knows all about fighting the odds. When he was 7 and growing up in rural Malaysia, his walk each way to school took an hour. As an outspoken member of Malaysia's long-ruling, conservative United Malays National Organisation, he has run into trouble as he pushed for more human rights, judicial reform and greater democracy. So it came naturally for him to help the people facing perhaps the toughest odds in the country, the disabled.

Zaid, 57--a member of parliament and also the majority owner of Malaysia's largest law firm, the 140-lawyer Zaid Ibrahim & Co. in Kuala Lumpur--set up the Kelantan Foundation for the Disabled in 1998. Kelantan state is home to a high proportion of disabled people, he says, "9,000 officially, though I suspect it's closer to 13,000," and little was being done to help them. His law firm and political career were taking off and he was in a position to step in.

The foundation now has a full-time staff of nine and operates on $78,000 a year. It offers counseling, physiotherapy, transportation and home visits for its 2,400 clients suffering from Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, blindness and other disabilities. Family, friends and law clients supply most of the budget, and Zaid has hosted golf tournaments and film premieres to raise funds. In months when there's not enough money to meet the operating costs, Zaid covers the rest from his pocket. Now the foundation is benefiting from his political views. The proceeds from a recent book of his essays urging UMNO to become more democratic, called In Good Faith, are going to the foundation.

The much-talked-about book is also raising awareness of the foundation. The introduction boldly draws parallels between his country and the disabled. "I am frequently moved to reflect on who is really disabled in our society and how. … In what ways might our thoughts and movements be confined?"

Zaid also has been a vocal critic of Malaysia's race-based political landscape, which has enshrined the divisions between the country's three main ethnic groups: the majority Malays, the Chinese and the Indians. "We have superficial unity," he says. "It has bred enmity. I think we need to start over." Talk like that has made Zaid an inspiration for Malaysians who wish to see the country transcend its ethnic divides.

Zaid grew up taking little for granted. Raised in a farm family outside Kota Bharu in the far northeast corner of the country, Zaid started skipping school around age 11 because he couldn't afford some of the fees. Hearing of this, the schoolmaster recommended him for a scholarship that came with a 15-ringgit monthly stipend, allowing him to continue on to secondary school. He studied law as an undergraduate and then qualified as a barrister-at-law in London.

Internal critiques of UMNO such as Zaid's are not customary. Big names who have strayed from the party line have been ignominiously ousted, even jailed. The UMNO disciplinary board felt that Zaid had offended it in 2005 and handed down a punishment. Then last month UMNO dropped him from its list of candidates in the Mar. 8 elections. But this is hardly slowing him down. "At the end of the day fear will not succeed," he says. (

"He pushed for more human rights, judicial reform and greater democracy and has been a vocal critic of Malaysia's race-based political landscape." No wonder the 'fair-minded democrats' in Umno booted him out.
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Thursday, February 28, 2008

'Iran Is The Number One World Power' Says President Ahmadinejad!

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on Thursday that Iran was the world's "number one" power, as he launched a bitter new assault on domestic critics he accused of siding with the enemy.

"Everybody has understood that Iran is the number one power in the world," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to families who lost loved ones in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

"Today the name of Iran means a firm punch in the teeth of the powerful and it puts them in their place," he added in the address broadcast live on state television.

Ahmadinejad's comments come amid renewed Western efforts on the United Nations (UN) Security Council to agree on a third package of sanctions against Tehran over its refusal to suspend sensitive nuclear activities.

They also came a day after former top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani launched an unprecedented attack on Ahmadinejad's foreign policy, accusing him of using "coarse slogans and grandstanding".

"You can see how some people here...try to materialise the plans of the enemies and by showing that Iran is small and the enemy is big," added Ahmadinejad.

"These are the people who put the enemies of humanity in the place of God," said the deeply religious president.

He also told the families of the "martyrs" of the war that their loss was not in vain as the message of the Islamic revolution of 1979 that ousted the pro-US shah was spreading all over the world.

"Today the message of your revolution is being heard in South America, East Asia, in the heart of Europe and even in the United States itself," he said.

Ahmadinejad said he talked with people everywhere he travelled in the world and "it is like I am in district 17 in Tehran", referring to the low-income area in the south of the Iranian capital where he was giving his speech.

Ahmadinejad is due to travel to Iraq on Sunday in the first visit by a president of the Islamic republic to its western neighbour. (Independent Online)

***** Our very own Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin sounds a lot like the Iranian president.
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Malaysian Police Finds 123 Bombs Near Tampoi

Image above - A Cluster Bomb

Malaysian marine police recovered 123 bombs in the waters near Tampoi in Malaysia's southern state of Johor over the past days, local media reported on Thursday.

The bombs included three cluster bombs and Malaysian police mobilized naval divers and boats to find these bombs.

The bombs have been detonated at a shooting range by the police bomb squad in Johor.

It looks like some terrorist whackos are on the loose in the country. The government should come up with a satisfactory explanation at the earliest.

What is the point of screaming Barisan Nasional stands for 'stability and peace' if at some venue or venues a group of crackpots succeed in detonating a couple of explosives? The consequences would be unthinkable. But come to think of it, perhaps such an incident may actually frighten the average citizen into voting for BN! Hmmm.


4 Malaysians In Forbes Asia Inaugural Heroes Of Philanthropy List. But Not Even One Is Chinese !

Excluded incumbent Barisan Nasional Kota Baharu Member of Parliament Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim is one of four well-known rich Malaysians picked as heroes of Forbes Asia's inaugural philanthropy list.

The other three generous Malaysians are businessman Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, 56, retired Sarawakian politician and businessman Leonard Linggi Tun Jugah, 67, and Hishamudin Ubaidulla, 52.

Forbes Asia has released its first Heroes of Philanthropy list in its March 10 issue business magazine in honour of some of Asias most generous and interesting philanthropists.

"With Asia booming, newly created wealth is increasingly being earmarked for altruistic causes", Forbes Asia says in a statement today.

It said for the first time this year Forbes Asia had put together a list of 48 philanthropists - four each from 12 countries.

It says Zaid, who owns the country's largest law firm, Zaid Ibrahim & Co, started the Kelantan Foundation for the disabled in 1998, which serves 2,400 people suffering from Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

Syed Mokhtar, who controls Malaysia Mining Corp, and holds big stakes in Johor Port and other businesses started the Albukhary Foundation, a Muslim charity that assists the needy, regardless of colour in 1996.

He is the sole funder to the foundation.

Forbes Asia says the businessman gave the foundation $30 million in 2006 and $25 million last year, which funds remedial classes in English, Science and Mathematics for 20,000 under-achieving students from poor rural families each year.

The foundation hopes the extra schoolwork "will help bridge the educational divide between the rich and poor." It also runs a college scholarship programme for 300 students from more than 40 countries. (Bernama)

***** Whatever happened to our Chinese billionaires? Much money but no heart perhaps?
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Singapore Terrorist Leader Escapes

A Singapore terrorist leader escaped from a local detention center on Wednesday, local TV reported.

Local television Channel NewsAsia quoted a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as saying that Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) detainee Mas Selamat Kastari escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Center at 4.05 pm local time.

Mas Selamat was the leader of the Singapore JI network and once planned to attack Singapore's Changi airport, said the report.

He was arrested by the Indonesian police on Bintan island in January 2006 and then sent back to Singapore, Channel NewsAsia said.

The Home Affairs Ministry said the terrorist walks with a limp and is presently at large.

He is not known to be armed, and extensive police resources have been deployed to track him down, according to the report.

Jemaah Islamiyah is an Indonesia-based terrorist organization linked to al-Qaida or the Taliban. (Xinhua)

***** Small time crooks, drug addicts and petty thieves disappearing from police lock-ups and rehab centres is quite a common occurrence in Malaysia. But a terrorist like Mas Selamat successfully escaping from the super-efficient Singapore authorities is indeed a surprise. Suspicion naturally would be on an inside job perhaps from a couple of JI sympathisers within the centre.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

When Arafat Almost Kissed Benazir Bhutto!

A book dedicated to Benazir Bhutto by a former aide says that the slain Pakistani former premier was paranoid about shaking hands with men, but Palestinian icon Yasser Arafat came close to kissing her one day!

Retired Pakistani diplomat Arshad Sami Khan, who served Bhutto when she became prime minister for the first time, says that although she was "a liberated Muslim woman... she was extremely careful about her personal deportment and demeanour".

Bhutto's first instruction to Khan as the Chief of Protocol was that she does not shake hands with men, the author says in his book "Three Presidents and An Aide: Life, Power and Politics" (Pentagon Press, New Delhi), which former Indian Prime Minister I.K. Gujral will release in New Delhi on Thursday.

Khan quotes Bhutto as telling him: "Sami, make sure everyone knows this as I don't wish to appear rude by not taking a man's extended hand. So make it clear to all that I don't shake hands with men."

Bhutto was so paranoid about this that she would repeat it to Khan every now and then.

The instruction, Khan says, was duly followed until one day Arafat came visiting Karachi. The Palestinian leader had held Benazir's late father Z.A. Bhutto in great esteem "and thus looked upon her with the affections of an uncle".

As Khan climbed the gangway to receive Arafat, Bhutto whispered: "Don't forget to remind him that I don't shake hands with men."

The author says he told Arafat as much: "Excellency, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is downstairs waiting to receive you and may I take the opportunity to remind you that she does not shake hands with men!"

Arafat replied: "Yes, yes, yes, I've been told, I've been told. Thanks for reminding me again anyway."

But as Arafat alighted from the aircraft, "in one straight go he elegantly extended his hand to shake hers. She gave me the worst stare possible and then hesitantly pulled out a timid hand from beneath her shawl and gave it to him for a friendly shake.

"He shook it with the warmth and vigour of a friendly Arab and we moved on towards a smartly turned out Guard of Honour, with me a step in the lead.

"Patience not being one of her best traits, she couldn't wait to scold me. Whispering beneath her breath in broken Urdu so that Arafat wouldn't understand, she reproachfully asked: 'Didn't you tell him that I don't shake hands?'

"Before I could respond, Arafat caught on and said smilingly: 'Madam, you are lucky I didn't kiss you. As a profound Arab custom and expression of warmth, I'm used to kissing dignitaries that come to receive me; not once but twice - on both cheeks."

Khan says that he and Bhutto, joined by Arafat, laughed after that remark. The author adds: "I made sure the media edited out shaking of hands from TV and still photographs."

Describing Bhutto's assassination as "a monumental loss", Khan says contrary to her tough posturing "often to the extent of being impolite and indecorous with a foul temper, I saw her as an extremely kind hearted and religious minded person deep inside".

He says she was a wizard in politics and foreign affairs but mediocre in the fields of management and administration.

"Like her father, in her highly politicised mind, individuals, friends and loyalties were disposable commodities...

"Again like her father, she too held her intellect way above all and was thus opinionated to the extent of being dogmatic, in fact blinkered, which often cut her off from realities of life." (DNA)
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How Many Faces Does Zainuddin Maidin Have?

Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said he did not fear contesting in any constituencies as the community knew that he has only one face.

He said that in an election, it was normal for a political leader, who has confidence in himself, loyal to the party leader and committed to the rakyat to shift to another constituency.

"I only have one face, but there are others who have various faces and this is confusing, today he is an ulamak, the next day he becomes a singer and dancer and at times he also has the face of a demonstrator.

"I was well accepted in the Merbuk parliamentary seat and now feels the vast acceptance of the Sungai Petani residents and voters. I am confident they will vote for me in the March 8 general election," he told reporters here today.

He was commenting on a statement by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who said during his campaign in Taman Keladi, here on Monday, that Zainuddin was contesting the Sungai Petani seat because he was chased out of Merbuk. Zainuddin was previously the member of parliament for Merbuk.

Zainuddin also said that the admittance by Datin Seri Wan Azizah Ismail that she would give up her seat to Anwar if she won the election showed that she was not oriented to serve the rakyat.

He said that the statement clearly indicated that she was contesting in the interest of her husband and her family and not to serve the rakyat.

"The rakyat should choose a candidate who is contesting in order to serve (them) as well as place their interest above all else, not a person who merely considers the interest of her family," he added.

Wan Azizah, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president, is contesting in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat which was once held by Anwar, the PKR defacto leader. (Bernama)

***** As far as I can gather Zam was eased out of Merbok, but here he seems to spin a different tale and attempts to confuse the issue by mentioning 'faces'. Whether he has multiple faces or for that matter
multiple personalities, it is for us to decide and not for him to go around claiming.
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Sex, Murder And Corruption: Malaysia's Ruling Coalition Dodges Scandals In Election Campaign

A close associate of the deputy prime minister allegedly orders the murder of a beautiful foreigner. The health minister is filmed having extramarital sex. A politically connected lawyer is accused of brokering top judicial appointments.

A string of scandals features heavily in the opposition's campaign for Malaysia's parliamentary election on March 8.

"It's not that we want to capitalize unnecessarily on these issues, but it's our moral duty to bring them out in our campaign to show that the government is rotten," said Hatta Ramli, an official in the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.

The ruling National Front coalition is widely expected to win, but with a smaller majority than its landslide victory in 2004. The scandals are not the main factor, but they may be adding to voter discontent with the status quo.

"I think everything that has been made public is only the tip of the iceberg," said Voon Chin Joo, a 28-year-old information technology consultant. "My vote will be for the opposition because I want to see all the other scandals exposed."

But, analysts say, most voters are more focused on issues that affect their lives, such as inflation, crime and rising racial and religious tensions.

"Malaysians have a short memory," said Tricia Yeoh, a senior researcher at the Center for Public Policy Studies, a Malaysian think tank. "These scandals may contribute to some people's perception that Malaysia is in a mess, but they wouldn't drastically change voting patterns."

The government's first headache emerged with the slaying of Altantuya Shaariibuu in late 2006. Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, was charged with abetting the murder of the Mongolian interpreter, with whom he had had an affair.

Opposition parties worked feverishly to link Najib to the killing, in which two policemen allegedly used explosives to destroy Shaariibuu's remains in a jungle clearing in October 2006. But the opposition failed to come up with evidence to substantiate its claim that Najib had a hand in the killing.

The government has moved quickly to deal with the unusual spate of pre-election scandals.

Last August, opposition leaders criticized the government for providing a low-interest loan to rescue Malaysia's main port authority from debts of US$1 billion (€700 million). Officials deflected the criticism by saying the loan was not a bailout, because it would be repaid.

In October, authorities swiftly arrested eight junior officials on corruption charges after the auditor general revealed that ministries bought defective boats and helicopters and paid grossly inflated prices for screwdrivers and flower pots.

"There has been no attempt to hide things under the carpet, so there shouldn't be a negative impact for us in the polls," Shahrir Samad, a ruling coalition lawmaker, told The Associated Press.

"The public is confident that all these issues have been well tackled," Shahrir said. "Openness, transparency and accountability have been obvious in the government. We have not been riding roughshod over anyone or trying to ignore the public's concerns."

The nation's attention shifted in recent weeks to two video scandals.

In January, Health Minister Chua Soi Lek, married with three children, resigned amid intense public pressure after DVDs — allegedly made by his political rivals — began circulating in his hometown showing him having sex with his lover in a hotel room.

No sooner had that scandal faded, when newspaper front pages turned to a government inquiry into another video, which showed a well-known lawyer apparently talking on the phone to Malaysia's former top judge about using their government connections to influence judicial appointments.

The inquiry heard testimony in open court from prominent figures including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. A decision is expected next month — but not until after the election. (IHT)

***** There is some trepidation that after the elections many of these scandals will be firmly swept under the carpet, those guilty 'rehabilitated' and semuanya will be OK!
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Malaysia's Political Poverty

Malaysia's many middle-of-the-road critics of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi are in a quandary as the March 8 election looms. Do they deliver the governing coalition, led by the United Malays National Organization, the drubbing that it richly deserves for its money politics and abuses of power? Or do they vote for the coalition out of concern that a poor electoral performance would undermine the well-meaning if weak Abdullah and enhance the positions of those politicians more closely associated with sleaze, religious intolerance and racial preferences?

The election cannot change the government. Malaysian politics is trapped in an institutionalized racial ghetto. The coalition is sure to win, as it has for 50 years. Abdullah himself acknowledges that it will not do as well as in 2004, when he was enjoying a honeymoon after 22 years of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. But most likely, the governing coalition of race-based parties will retain a two-thirds majority in Parliament - failure to do so would be a humiliation for Abdullah.

Nevertheless, the election results will indicate important trends. The vote comes at a time when economic and political issues point in different directions. The economy is growing at 6 percent, underpinned by strong commodity export prices. Added to this has been a pre-election surge in government spending and massive subsidies for fuel and food that otherwise would have pushed consumer price inflation to double its official 2.3 percent rate. The assumed peak of the economic cycle explains why the election is being held now when Abdullah could have waited a year. Judging by history, a vote now should ensure few discomforts for the governing party.

But the election also comes in the wake of a host of scandals and disputes, some attributable to the current government, some the belated uncovering of corruption under Mahathir's watch. Issues include well-founded reports of high-level judicial corruption and influence peddling, and the bizarre conduct of the trial of Razak Baginda, an arms-dealing associate of the deputy prime minister and defense minister, Najib Abdul Razak, for the murder of his mistress.

While Abdullah has removed a few of those who prospered under Mahathir, there has been widespread disappointment at his failure to make more reforms.

It remains to be seen whether these issues resonate with the Malay majority, which has two alternatives - to vote for the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, commonly known as PAS, or support the multi-ethnic Parti Keadilan Rakyat, or People's Justice Party, led by a former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim. PAS has yet to prove that it can escape its mix of modern fundamentalism and rural conservatism and broaden its appeal among increasingly urbanized Malays. Anwar has yet to prove that his stature and Islamic past can translate into Malay votes for a multi-ethnic party, or that he can shake off the suspicions that many non-Malays have about his commitment to secular and multiracial principles.

The governing coalition will almost certainly suffer from the increased disaffection of non-Malays. Indians who traditionally support it have been upset by discrimination. Many may defect to the predominantly Chinese opposition Democratic Action Party or the People's Justice Party.

The Chinese are increasingly frustrated by the continuation of racial preferences that enrich the Malay elite at their expense, and by the low standing of the faction-riddled Malaysian Chinese Association in the government. Non-Malays are fed up with discrimination against non-Muslims.

Yet the influences that drive non-Malays into the arms of the opposition may help United Malays National Organization retain the loyalty of Malays who see it as the most effective guardian of their privileges and status of their religion. Thus they will overlook its many sins, just as many non-Malays will, however reluctantly, vote for an UMNO-led coalition, which they see as the best safeguard against Malay and Muslim extremism.

There is not much sign that Abdullah will use the election to bring change; radical moves are not his style. Yet if he does want to leave a legacy of doing more than keeping the leader's seat warm he will need to start soon after the election. Will the election make him see the necessity of change? Or leave him without the authority to achieve it? (Philip Bowring, IHT)

***** So will we be able to reduce the number of seats held by BN, or more critically those held by Umno? It would be wonderful if Umno were to be brought down a peg or three. The nation's social fabric would be strengthened and genuine inter-ethnic harmony may even become a reality. As long as Umno and its racist practitioners remain powerful we can forget about equality or true unity.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bloggers Test Their Popularity In Malaysia Election

The Internet is changing the face of Malaysian politics, becoming a virtual political party of its own as the country gears up for elections next month.

Three high-profile bloggers, all opponents of the ruling coalition which has effectively governed for five decades, are standing for the first time as candidates on March 8, hoping that their popularity on the Net will translate into votes.

"Everyone of us has a stake in the country's future, but talk is cheap. We now need to walk the walk," says Jeff Ooi, a well-known blogger contesting a seat in northern Penang state for the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP).

A 52-year-old former advertising copywriter, he has made his name writing a political blog, "Screenshots", one of dozens that have found an active readership outside the pro-government mainstream press.

Another popular blogger, also running on a DAP ticket, is 34-year-old Tony Pua, a fresh-faced Oxford graduate who started blogging three years ago after setting up a high-tech firm.

"I've had opportunities to migrate but I decided that Malaysia is my home," Pua said as he dreamt up campaign slogans at a cramped DAP office on the second floor of a shophouse, above a Chinese restaurant, on the outskirts of the capital.

"So the next question is what should I do to make it better?"


Pua, like Ooi, is running from an urban constituency where Internet penetration is highest and opposition sentiment runs stronger than in the countryside.

A third blogger, Badrul Hisham Shaharin, said he is struggling to spread his message because of the limited Internet access in the rural Malay majority seat where he is standing.

"I admit that it is difficult because my blog is not accessible here, but I am getting a lot of help from fellow bloggers," he said by phone from his electorate of Rembau, a sleepy farming district south of Kuala Lumpur.

Badrul, who is running on opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's party ticket, will take on Khairy Jamaluddin, the prime minister's son-in-law and an ambitious politician. Badrul's blog.

Considered a thorn in the government's side due to their often critical political and social commentaries, Malaysia's blogging community offer alternative views in a country where the government keeps a tight control on mainstream media.

The government said last year it might compel bloggers to register with the authorities to curb the spread of malicious content on the Internet.

Government backers doubt whether bloggers turned opposition politicians could make their presence felt.

"Beyond the major cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang, there's not much the bloggers can really hope to accomplish," says Mohamad Norza Zakaria, a leader in Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's UMNO party.

Only a fifth of Malaysians have access to the Internet, official data show. There are 10.9 million voters in a nation of 26 million people.

Blogger Ooi spoke of the difficult challenge ahead. "Compared to the BN, we are behind on the three M's - money, machinery and media access." (Reuters)

***** It was a matter of time before our bloggers joined in the fray and this is as good a time as any for a modest start. While we cannot expect miracles overnight, slowly and surely the average Joe will get used to the idea of bloggers taking on an important role in politics.

The three bloggers mentioned above are trailblazers in this respect and they should be praised for testing the waters. All the best to them.
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Australian School Bars Turban For Sikh Student

An Australian school refused entry to a Sikh student on Tuesday because he was wearing a turban, saying it would not change its rules despite the threat of legal action.

The family of the 12-year-old boy, who will not be named, have complained to the Anti-Discrimination Commission in Queensland state after Ormiston College ordered the boy to cut his hair and remove his turban as a condition of entry.

"The complaint is the college discriminated against the child by placing conditions on his enrolment that he was unable to comply with because of his religion," family solicitor Scott McDougall told Australian radio.

Ormiston College is a co-educational and non-denominational school which says on its Web site that it "affirms individual differences and actively promotes cultural and intellectual understanding".

The private school, which has almost 550 students, is on the coastal outskirts of the state capital Brisbane.

Principal Brett Webster said the school respected the boy’s religious beliefs, but would not change its rules.

"We’re certainly not asking the family or the boy to turn their back on their religion," Webster said.

"But the question is should the school, should every organisation, change its standard policies every time somebody comes along with a different set of beliefs."

Australia has around 50,000 Sikhs among the 21 million population.

Several Western nations have been criticised for bans on head coverings and clothing, including France where conspicuous religious symbols are barred. Germany has banned hijabs for female students, while Britain has seen controversy over veils.

Brisbane international airport officials were also criticised on Tuesday after demanding 13 Sikhs and a woman wearing a veil remove their head coverings for security checking.

Airport spokesman Jim Carden said the group had been asked take off the turbans and veil only after initial screening with a metal-detection wand.

"No one has singled out Sikhs or Muslims, or anybody else," he said. "If the screening authority is still not satisfied that the screening has still not been completed, that passenger may be asked to remove that headgear."
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Malaysia PM Woos Non-Malays In Election Manifesto

Malaysia's ruling coalition promised on Monday to soothe growing anger by minority Chinese and Indians over education and religious rights.

In its election manifesto, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's coalition also pledged to create two million new jobs, encourage one million new businesses and rein in the fiscal deficit over the next five years.

"We have managed the economy well, we have ensured that Malaysia is on the right track," he told some 500 supporters at his party headquarters. "We will deliver our promise."

The Barisan Nasional coalition is considered certain to be re-elected in March 8 polls, but risks a backlash by Buddhist ethnic Chinese and Hindu ethnic Indians who have complained of religious and racial inequality in the mainly Muslim nation.

The opposition, aiming to deny Barisan a two-thirds majority, the level needed to change the constitution, also hopes to draw a protest vote over rising food and fuel costs, street crimes and an influx of cheap foreign labour.

In the manifesto, Barisan said it would keep Chinese and Indian schools, extend use of Mandarin and Tamil at national schools and offer university scholarships for poor students, irrespective of race.

It will also form a "special mechanism" to facilitate the setting up and relocation of temples, mosques and churches, an issue that has sparked a bitter complaint especially by Hindus.

The government will also step up inter-faith dialogue and ensure that developers set aside land for places of worships in their townships, it said.

More than 10,000 Indians staged their community's biggest anti-government protest in November, braving water cannon, tear gas and arrest to accuse the government of discrimination.

Ethnic Chinese, too, have aired growing complaints about the government's decades-old affirmative action policy, which gives Malays perks such as share allocations and cheap housing loans.

Politically dominant Malay Muslims form about 60 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people. (Reuters India)

***** How much of the pledges made are genuine remains to be seen. But I think that the assurance to
step up inter-faith dialogue is an outright lie. The present crop of Umno leaders have neither the intention nor the will to foster better ties between the disparate religious groups here. It is to Umno's advantage to maintain a certain tension and disagreement between them.
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Monday, February 25, 2008

'Dr' Zahid Hamidi Conferred PhD By Universiti Putra Malaysia

Deputy Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been conferred a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Communication by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

He will receive the Phd at UPM's convocation in October, said the university's School of Graduate Studies Deputy Dean Prof Dr Hasanah Mohd Ghazali in a statement here today.

The university senate approved the degree at its meeting on Feb 21. For the Phd, Dr Zahid completed a thesis entitled "Barisan Nasional Manifesto As Agenda for Malay Language Newspaper During the General Election Campaign."

The study was undertaken to identify the usage of BN manifesto as an agenda for the Malay language newspapers namely Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian during the general elections in 1982, 1986, 1990, 1995 dan 1999.

Dr Zahid, when asked to comment on the degree, hoped that it would spur the young generation to pursue their education to a higher level. He said that the major factor for his success was his belief in life long learning and hoped that it would encourage his children to follow in his footsteps.

"I hope this success will spur my political colleagues, especially the younger ones to study to a higher level. "If I can do it at the age of 55, the young generation should feel challenged (by it)," he said.

Commenting on his thesis, Dr Zahid said that based on the research the manifesto, which is regarded as a promise by BN, was the basis for the success and support obtained by the party during the general elections.

If the manifesto announced provided something good for the rakyat, the effect would be seen from the number of popular votes and increase in the number of seats won by BN, he said. (Bernama)

***** Waah! Great honour brudder! Tahniah 'Dr' Zahid. Malaysia Boleh!


Singaporean Assoc Professor Charged For Stealing Women's Underwear

A Singaporean teacher was charged for stealing women's underwear from a university dormitory, according to media reports from Singapore Monday.

Lee Wing Foon, 39, an associate professor, was in the city-state for his leave when he committed the crime. A security guard at the dorm then nabbed him and found female undergarments in Lee's haversack.

"I have heard stories before about underwear being stolen, but I never thought it would happen to me," a victim, who was not named, was quoted as saying.

Lee's lawyer, Jose Charles, told the Community Court that his client suffers from a psychiatric disorder and started taking women's undergarments when he was 14. The items sexually arouses Lee, his lawyer said.

The lawyer also said that his client is an honorable and kind person who has no intention of causing annoyance to the underwear owners.

Lee obtained his doctorate degree in the city-state before leaving to teach in China. (People Daily Online)
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Tomorrow's Cell Phones May Be Powered By Body Heat

Making calls from a cell phone without a battery, using just the warmth of your hand? Perhaps that's no more than a pipe dream right now. But new circuits being developed by researchers in Germany are already making it possible to harness body heat for generating electricity.

Numerous items of medical equipment are attached to a patient's body in the intensive care ward. They monitor the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, pulse and breathing rate. This tends to produce quite a jumble of cables as all these devices require their own electricity supply.

In future, medical sensors may be able to function without power from a wall socket. Instead, they will draw all the power they need from the warmth of the human body, say the German researchers. The data will be sent by a radio signal to the central monitoring station.

In collaboration with colleagues from the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques (IPM) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Applied Materials Research IFAM, research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen, Germany, have developed a way of harnessing natural body heat to generate electricity.

It works on the principle of thermoelectric generators, TEG for short, made from semiconductor elements. The TEGs extract electrical energy simply from the temperature difference between a hot and a cold environment. Normally, a difference of several tens of degrees would be required to generate enough power, but the differences between the body's surface temperature and that of its environment are only a few degrees.

“Only low voltages can be produced from differences like these,” explains Peter Spies, manager of this sub-project at the IIS.

A conventional TEG delivers roughly 200 millivolts, but electronic devices require at least one or two volts. The engineers have come up with a solution to this problem: “We combined a number of components in a completely new way to create circuits that can operate on 200 millivolts,” says Spies. “This has enabled us to build entire electronic systems that do not require an internal battery, but draw their energy from body heat alone.” The scientists are making further improvements to this system: Circuits that are ‘excited’ at 50 millivolts already exist.

Spies believes that in future, when further improvements have been made to the switching systems, a temperature difference of only 0.5 degrees will be sufficient to generate electricity.

The scientists have set their eyes on a wide range of possible applications: “Electricity can be generated from heat any place where a temperature difference occurs,” claims Spies.

“That could be on the body, on radiators to meter the heating costs, when monitoring the cooling chain during the transport of refrigerated goods, or in air conditioning systems.” (Sify News)
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Pakistan's 2002 Poll Rigged On President Musharraf's Orders

Pakistan President Musharraf is getting increasingly isolated after his party’s debacle in the recently concluded general elections. This is evident from the fact that even his close associates from the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) are abandoning him now, and that too, by accusing him of having ordered wrong doings in the past.

In a latest major development, the former chief of the ISI’s political wing at the time of the 2002 general elections, Major General Ehtsham Jaferri, has alleged that he had rigged the 2002 general elections in favour of the Q-League under directives from Musharraf, who was the army chief-cum-chief executive at that time.

Approached for comments, Jaferri conceded he was the main wheeler dealer of the 2002 elections. He said he had to rig the polls as General Musharraf wanted a comfortable majority in the parliament to smoothly rule the country for next five years. Commenting on the rout of the Q-League in the 2008 polls, Jaferri said it is actually a reaction of the unnatural dispensation installed in 2002.

Even after the 2002 elections, Jaferri said, the ISI was instrumental in pressing successful lawmakers to join the pro-Musharraf camp to form the government to support his stay in power. Seeking apology from the Pakistani nation, the son of a renowned Pakistani poet Syed Zameer Jaferri, admitted that his actions of 2002 had pushed the country back instead of taking it forward. “Yes, I feel ashamed of my role and seek apology from the people of Pakistan,” he said.

Asked as to who had directed him to rig the polls in 2002, he said, “Obviously, it was General Musharraf and being a subordinate officer, I had no other option but to comply.” (DNA)
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LATEST: Musharraf likely to step down

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Self-Defence Hero Or Murderer?

An Indian-origin shopkeeper in the United Kingdom who could face murder a charge for killing his assailant in self-defence should be rewarded for bravery and not prosecuted, many Britons feel.

In discussion boards and letters to editors, several people have called Tony Singh a "local hero" and expressed support for him. They believe he should be given a bravery award for grappling with his assailant who had a history of criminal acts.

Singh, 34, who owns a shop in Skelmersdale in Lancashire, was leaving for home after closing his shop last Sunday when he was attacked by a hooded man who tried to rob him.

During the struggle to defend himself, Singh took possession of the robber's knife, and in the scuffle, the assailant, identified as Liam Kilroe, died after suffering a stab wound in the chest.

The police said they were preparing a report for the Crown Prosecution Service, which will decide whether to charge Singh, who was also injured during the fight, over the death.

A posting on a Lancashire discussion board said: "The man should have a medal pinned to his chest - not having the thought of imprisonment looming over him. It appears he was simply protecting himself in a life and death struggle. I have not one ounce of pity for the criminal."

Roger Moreton, from Warwickshire, wrote: "Far from being prosecuted, or even arrested, the plucky shopkeeper Tony Singh, should be given a bravery award."

The current law permits people to use "reasonable force" to defend themselves and others. Critics claim it is weighted in favour of the criminal.

Singh, who required hospital treatment for knife injuries to his neck and back, has been quizzed by detectives from Lancashire Police's Major Incident Team.

The case is likely to re-open the debate about householders being allowed to use force to defend themselves and their properties. Singh said that he feared he could have been killed in the encounter. (Rediff News)

***** So is he a hero or a murderer? Have your say.
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Khairy Jamaluddin Has Qualities Of A Leader, Says His Mother

"My son has all the qualities of a leader," said Datuk Rahmah Abdul Hamid, mother of Khairy Jamaluddin who is contesting the Rembau parliamentary seat in the March 8 polls.

"Many people can be managers but not leaders. He (Khairy) has shown outstanding leadership qualities since he was small," she told Bernama outside the Merdeka Hall of the Rembau distric council, the nomination centre for the constituency.

Dressed in a baju kurung with a white scarf and a Barisan Nasional (BN) vest with the letters "KJ" (Khairy's initials), Rahmah, 72, initially declined to be interviewed but later relented.

Khairy, 32, who is also BN Youth and Umno Youth deputy chairman, is engaged in a straight with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) supreme council member Badrul Hisham Shaharin, 30, for the seat.

Asked whether Khairy was capable of championing the lot of the people of Rembau, Rahmah said her son could do it because he was always committed in whatever he did.

"He is dedicated to the race, religion and country. Since his return to Malaysia nine years ago, that has been his mission. He is fully committed to everything that he does, no half-measures," she said.

Khairy received his Masters in Legal and Political Theory from University College London in September 1998 and holds a BA (Hons) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from St Hugh College, Oxford University.

Asked for her message to her son, Rahmah said: "My message to him is only that we live in a world where people will remember our kind deeds and contributions and good behaviour."

Besides Rahmah, Khairy's wife, Nori Abdullah, who was also present, said she was very proud of her husband and was willing to shoulder the responsibilities of an elected representative's wife if Khairy was elected.

"I used to follow my father (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) but now I follow my husband," she said, adding that she believed that Khairy would make a good elected representative.

"He is sincere in helping the people," said Nori, who left their five-month-old son, Jibreil Ali Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, at home in Gadong, near here. (Bernama)

***** Frankly I do not wish to take issue with an elderly lady who is justifiably proud of her son. However alarm bells did ring when she said, "
he is dedicated to the race, religion and country." Now where does that leave the other half of this country's population if God forbid, KJ becomes the Prime Minister? Is he going to be a pemimpin solely for the Malays to the exclusion of everyone else? The thought is frightening indeed.
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PAS' Wan Ubaidah Wins Unopposed In Kelantan, BN Candidate A Bankrupt. So Much For Umno's Vetting!

PAS candidate Wan Ubaidah Omar was declared winner of the Kijang state seat in Kelantan after the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate, Mustopha Ahmed, was disqualified, state Election Commissioner Rahim Mohd Salleh said.

He told Bernama that the records showed that Mustopha had been declared a bankrupt by Mara and was automatically disqualified as a candidate.

"As such, the BN candidate's nomination was rejected and the PAS candidate won unopossed," he said.

Only Wan Ubaidah and Mostapha had submitted their nomination papers when nominations at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Pengkalan Chepa Satu centre closed at 10am.

Mustopha, when met, said he was disappointed.

He said he had stood guarantor for a loan taken by a businessman several years ago.

"But I've settled the debt," he said, adding that he would appeal the decision to the Election Commision and the courts. (Bernama)

***** If a bloody third-rate bankrupt can get through Umno's strict 'vetting' of potential candidates, what about the smart and slimy crooks with hundreds of skeletons in their closets who must have got in undetected? All that sanctimonious and brave talk about "I've settled my debt and will appeal in court" is mere sandiwara bullshit.

The way that the MBs, all with serious faces, walked in and out of Putrajaya to see the PM about the list of candidates, one could be forgiven for thinking that the fools had done their homework before recommending names to the PM. Now it looks like this is just the tip of the iceberg and there must be plenty of unwanted crap who have filed their nominations today. More of the same lah brudder; even a cheetah may change its spots but the new pejuang2 Umno will emerge from the same woodwork as the rest of the corrupt worms.
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A Shameless Samy Vellu Crony Talks Crap

As expected the NST, prime purveyor of disinformation and patently false and misleading government propaganda, highlighted how 'happy and fortunate' the Indians are in Malaysia. To back up that contention it interviewed a weird character who has a Tamil name but dons a Sikh-style turban. In a totally subservient and ridiculously pro-MIC fashion, this gentleman basically speaks rubbish which flies in the face of the ground realities. Read and laugh.

Though there are unresolved issues affecting the Indian community, only the Barisan Nasional can safeguard their interests, says the Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisations (Prima). The president of the umbrella body for 115 Indian-based organisations, Raja Retnam, gives his reasons to SONIA RAMACHANDRAN

Q: A section of the Indian community appears to be unhappy with the MIC and there is fear that they will vote against the Barisan Nasional this time. What do you think?

A: With nine parliament and 19 state seats, the MIC cannot afford to lose even one seat as the Indian community is already under-represented. They cannot use the election to punish MIC.

Q: So you think the community should give the MIC another chance?

A: Yes. Its president, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, has already answered the call for change by fielding 13 new faces at state level and two at parliament level.
If MIC fails to deliver this time, there is the next election to teach it a lesson. Indians currently have one minister, three deputy ministers and three parliamentary secretaries in the government. If, let us say, MIC loses five seats, how can we expect seven representatives in the government?

Q: What will happen if they do decide to vote for the opposition?

A: The community cannot afford to gamble. For example, if the MIC representative loses the Pahang state seat, there will be no Indian representative in Pahang. So who is going to bring up Indian issues in the state assembly?

Q: But sentiments are such that there are likely to be some who will vote for the opposition, don't you think?

A: If they do, MIC will still win but with a lesser majority. It may just lose one or two seats. Of course, fewer seats would mean it will be more difficult for MIC to play its role. It might also mean MIC losing seats in the next general election as the other component parties will ask for MIC seats based on the losses this time. It will be difficult for the community to recover those seats.

Q: What caused the discontent in the Indian community?

A: One of the reasons is that there are not enough Indian representatives at state level to raise and address community issues. MIC is a small party within the coalition. It has nine parliamentary and 19 state seats, so we don't have Indian representatives in every state government. In states like Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis, there is no Indian state assemblyman at all. So how can the problems be heard?

Q: Do you think the new faces introduced by Samy Vellu will make a difference?

A: Yes. The new faces know what the community wants. They also know that they have to function effectively.

Q: Do you think the new government that will be formed will be able to rectify these problems?

A: I believe the new government will be able to rectify these problems. The BN is the best government and has brought tremendous development to the country. It has never sidelined any community.

Q: But there are claims that some of the Indian community's problems have not been resolved?

A: The non-governmental organisations aligned with the opposition have distorted and misinterpreted the issue and the opposition has capitalised on this.

The Indian community wanted a change in leadership and that has been answered. Samy Vellu has clearly said this is the last term for him and that he wants to ensure everything is all right before he hands the party over to the younger generation.

Q: Do you think Samy Vellu should step down?

A: Whoever is not functioning has to go. The Indian community is unhappy with the local leaders, not the party president. Samy Vellu meets hundreds of Indians weekly.

Why would they meet him if they do not want him? He has said he will step down after this term and I think he will keep to his word. I think Samy Vellu should not step down because he does his work. Age is not a factor.

Q: Do you think the Indian community is left out?

A: If it is, we can't blame the MIC or the government. There are many other reasons. The community has to grab opportunities presented. For example, the government has allocated hundreds of seats in vocational colleges but these are not taken up. When we go around recruiting, they don't grab the opportunity.

We must teach the community how to fish, not give them the fish. The community, however, seems to be looking for the fish. There needs to be reform and a mindset change in the community. They need to empower themselves.

Q: So what is the answer for the community?

A: They should vote for the MIC candidates. The opposition cannot represent them. They can only shout in the Dewan Rakyat. We need our representatives in policy-making positions.

So I'm calling on the Indian community to think rationally, intellectually. Act wisely and not emotionally. They must think about the fate of their children and community.

This turbaned Tamil gentleman's entire argument is built on the premise that Samy Vellu is beyond reproach, that he has done extremely well, he is needed for the moment and his selection of 'new faces' are a panacea for the problems besetting the community. He further illogically exonerates the Umno-led government and the MIC for the ills of the community.

His contention that Indian political representation would be reduced, is flawed because as it is the buggers aren't doing much and the new blokes won't be able to do anything either; not as long as Umno persists in maintaining racist policies. His so-called 'new faces' already have given rise to doubts about Samy Vellu's sincerity. For example the MIC candidate for Asahan in Malacca it seems even now has a reputation of being corrupt and apparently there are posters all over the place there seeking his removal. A few others it has been said are gangsters in politician's clothing.

Any guy who genuinely feels that Samy Vellu should not step down should have his mental status assessed. But I think that this gentleman doesn't really believe what he has said and is merely speaking up for some future reward that Sam may throw in his path.

The above opinion by the interviewee is a fake one and should be ignored. More realistic is the following AP report: Angry ethnic Indian voters could singe ruling party in upcoming Malaysian election

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