Monday, March 31, 2008

Islam Surpasses Roman Catholicism As The World's Largest Religion

Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world's largest religion, the Vatican newspaper said Sunday.

"For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us," Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. Formenti compiles the Vatican's yearbook.

He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4 percent of the world population — a stable percentage — while Muslims were at 19.2 percent.

"It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer," the monsignor said.

Formenti said that the data refer to 2006. The figures on Muslims were put together by Muslim countries and then provided to the United Nations, he said, adding that the Vatican could only vouch for its own data.

When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.

Spokesmen for the Vatican and the United Nations did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Sunday.
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Proton Recalls All 34,000 Savvy Cars

Proton is recalling its Savvy cars over a possible problem with regards to the car’s rear-wheel bearing.

The company said a recent inspection has brought to its attention that water could get into the bearing, which could lead to a malfunction.

“The safety and satisfaction of our customers is a primary concern. As a precautionary measure, we are recalling all Savvy’s for inspection and repair,” Proton managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed said in a press statement.

The recall will affect a total of 34,000 cars. All Savvy owners are advised to take their cars to the nearest Proton Edar or EON service branch for an inspection.

Proton said it would conduct the necessary checks and replacements at no cost to the customer.

They can also call Proton i-Care at 1-300-880-888 for further info. (The Star)
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Federal Cabinet Posts - PKR Urges Sabah, Sarawak Leaders To Speak Up

The non-proportionate distribution of the Federal Cabinet posts to Sabah and Sarawak, despite the two states being Barisan Nasional's (BN) biggest seat contributors, shows the Federal Government's continuing nonchalant attitude on the problems affecting both states.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Datuk Dr Jeffery Kitingan said it was only now that the people from Sabah, especially component parties, have begun to speak up on the matter.

"Sabah and Sarawak component parties contributed so much to the BN victory and this should be reflected with a bigger percentage ratio on the appointment," he said, adding that he only hoped the leaders from Sabah and Sarawak would voice out when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pays a visit.

In this respect, Dr Jeffery said Sabah and Sarawak should at least have a Deputy Prime Minister and no less than six full Ministers each.

It is normal in a win and lost situation that the winners get their appropriate shares. Dr Jeffery said if the distribution was proportionate, there should not be disputes or resignations.

The Federal Government has also lost its income sources, with five states in the peninsula now under the Opposition rule. "That is why the Federal Government should consider giving more to Sabah and Sarawak that will be its main income sources, being rich with oil palm, timber and petroleum," Dr Jeffrey said.

Meanwhile, members of parliament from Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan must speak up on the 1963 Malaysia Agreement so that the rights and privileges of East Malaysians in the formation of Malaysia are addressed accordingly.

Coordinator of the Federation of East Malaysia NGOs, Datuk Patrick Sindu, said it was also timely that the Royal Commission of Inquiry be set up address these issues so that Malaysia could go forward on a balanced platform.

"Would a referendum be considered for the same purpose to review the Malaysia Agreement? Would other options be considered like bringing this up to the international community with the former colonial master as the key player or the World Court?

"There appears to be a clear message of many grievances coming out from Sabah over this matter although the BN won the latest election in Sabah with the aid of rigging," he claimed. (Borneo Bulletin, Brunei)

***** It looks like the East Malaysians are finally plucking up the courage to confront their weakened 'masters' Umno to get a larger, more fair portion of the spoils. Umno is in no position to flatly refuse or ignore them as in the past. The pejuang2 demi bangsa, agama dan negara from
semenanjung have now to kowtow a bit and play ball or risk losing control of the federal government. Not a bad prospect actually.
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Malaysia May Lift Travel Ban On Chelsea's Israeli Pair

Malaysia on Monday hinted it may lift a travel ban on Israelis to allow Chelsea coach Avram Grant and midfielder Tal Ben Haim to come here on a mini-Asian tour by the English Premier League title contenders.

"I am not sure what the decision would be yet. But it would be a pity that politics should get in the way of sports," Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

"There is a travel ban. I will have to study the situation first but I would like to see Chelsea although it is not my (favourite) team, I would like to see them playing here."

Malaysia does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and its citizens must obtain special permission to travel here.

Chelsea last week said they could be forced to cancel the Malaysian leg of their tour if the Israelis were not allowed into the country.

The Football Association of Malaysia had said tour organisers would raise the issue with the foreign ministry in order to obtain clearance for the pair.

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon, who announced matches in Malaysia on July 29 and in China tentatively on July 23 in the southern city of Guangzhou, was confident approval would be secured.

But he indicated the London glamour side could be forced to ditch the Malaysian visit if Grant and Ben Haim were banned from entering the country.

"We clearly could not travel without our top coach. This (tour) is a critical part of training for the 2008-2009 season," he told AFP. It will make no sense to travel without a key member of the coaching staff."

Najib backed the rare tour by the Premier League giants, saying it would boost Malaysian football. "It's good for local football, definitely," he said.

Chelsea, who have strong support in Malaysia, are scheduled to play the much-derided national team who have slipped down the rankings to 164 after their heyday in the 1970s.

The incident echoes last year's botched visit by Manchester United, who were forced to call off their trip after the Asian Football Confederation complained it clashed with Malaysia's co-hosting of the Asian Cup.

In 1997, Malaysia allowed Israel to compete in the 22-nation ICC Trophy cricket tournament here but the decision sparked a series of demonstrations in the capital.

***** What a change of view when compared to a few decades ago. In November 1986, Malay fanatics here, totally oblivious to the rules of international relations and diplomacy, fueled by their hatred for Israel and discreetly egged on by Umno, vehemently protested, including threats of suicide, the visit of the then Israeli President Chaim Herzog to neighbouring, sovereign Singapore! It's good to see a little commonsense, rationality and pragmatism at play now.

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Malaysia PM In Deeper Crisis As Two Cabinet Ministers Seek Leadership Reforms

Two Cabinet ministers have endorsed demands by ruling party dissidents to hold an open contest for the party leadership, highlighting the prime minister's weakening control over power in Malaysia after disastrous election results.

The Star daily Monday quoted International Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin as saying that everybody should be eligible to run for the post of the United Malays National Organization party's president.

At present, a contestant must be nominated by 30 percent of the party's divisions, which is hard to secure by someone not endorsed by the party leadership. The party president automatically becomes the prime minister.

The nomination quota encourages an "unhealthy political culture," Muhyiddin, who is the party vice president, was quoted as saying. I hope that with the abolition, the party at all levels will have a healthy democratic election system," the daily quoted Muhyiddin as saying.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is facing the biggest crisis of his political career after the March 8 general elections, in which the ruling National Front retained power but lost its traditional two-thirds majority. It also conceded five states to the opposition.

Being the dominant party in the coalition, Abdullah's United Malays National Organization took most of the blame for the losses. The pressure on Abdullah increased after critics called on him to resign, a demand he rejected.

He also postponed party elections, which were due in August, until December. But it will be difficult for a challenger to dislodge Abdullah in the elections because of the quota system, which was introduced by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1987 after he narrowly survived a challenge by then-Finance Minister Razaleigh Hamzah.

Mahathir, now an ordinary party member, is one of those calling for abolishing the quota system. Among the others is Razaleigh, who has openly declared he will try to challenge Abdullah.

Critics say the quota system ensures that members dissatisfied with the prime minister's leadership cannot challenge him democratically. Supporters say it is necessary to ensure only serious candidates contest.

Muhyiddin also said the quota system for top party posts was unnecessary, The Star said.

He and Muhyiddin claimed they had opposed it when it was introduced by Mahathir but failed. Muhyiddin stressed that his call did not mean he was against the current leadership or was encouraging members to challenge the president, The Star said.

Aides to Khaled and Muhyiddin confirmed they made the comments. The aides declined to be identified citing protocol.

Abandoning the system would also mean changing the party constitution, which can only be done at an extraordinary general meeting. Party leaders have so far rejected calls for such a meeting. (International Herald Tribune)

***** Many of those who worry for the future of the country also worry for the future of Pak Lah. While he has been blamed for Umno's debacle in the last polls, it cannot be denied that he has in many ways eased the intolerance and stifling controls of government which was the hallmark of Dr Mahathir's rule. We could during Abdullah's premiership, at least breath easy and voice out our fears, unhappiness and disdain without trepidation. The crackdown on Hindraf and Bersih being the sad exceptions.

The question that should be answered by those who are buoyed by Umno's current predicament, ecstatic at Pak Lah's present discomfiture and clamouring for the PM's withdrawal from politics is, 'after Pak Lah, who?' Will any of the current bunch of Umno warriors and warlords who still spout the old clarion call of 'bangsa, agama dan negara' be acceptable? Do we really need the corrupt, racist and parochial baggage that each of them carries proudly and unflinchingly?

Realistically speaking Umno isn't simply going to drift into oblivion any time soon. It's only a matter of a few years before they recover and claw their way back to power, especially if Barisan Rakyat were, God forbid, to unravel over time. Do we want to witness an Umno renaissance and see the same type of injustice, discrimination and war-mongering being perpetrated on hapless citizens as has been happening these past several decades? If the answer is no, then all of the current crop of corrupt Umno race-baiters including Najib, Muhyiddin, Rustam, Muhd Md Taib, Hishamuddin et al should be prevented from rising up the Umno hierarchy. A tall order, but definitely in the best interest of the nation and her citizens.

So who'll be left to pick up the baton and oversee the emergence of an uncorrupt, more benevolent and less chauvinistic Umno? Shahrir Samad? Zaid Ibrahim? I don't know. Do you?
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Malaysia: People's Verdict And Government's Defiance

Malaysian government’s refusal to free M.Manoharan, who was elected to the Selangor State Assembly in the last elections but still kept in custody under the Internal Security Act, was condemned by the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), reported AFP on Sunday. "It shows that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi's administration has not really heard the voice of the people in the March 8 political tsunami to change towards a more democratic and accountable Malaysian society. The ISA detentions are used as political instruments to suppress dissent. It has no relationship whatsoever with national security," said DAP leader Lim Kit Siang to AFP.

Five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), including Manoharan were arrested in last December under Internal Security Act and three of them were charged for allegedly making speeches inciting hatred. All of them were detained for two years by an order signed by Mr. Badawi, who was also the then Internal security Minister.

The leaders were the main organizers of an unprecedented massive rally of around 10,000 people of Indian origin against discrimination in Malaysia in November last year.

The draconian Internal Security Act of Malaysia provides for detaining any individual for up to 60 days without a warrant, trial and without access to legal council. After 60 days the Minister of Home Affairs can extend the period of detention without trial for up to two years, without submitting any evidence for review by the courts, by issuing a detention order, which is renewable indefinitely.

Besides the five leaders, 31 Indians were charged with attempted murder, in connection with the head injury of a policeman during the banned demonstration. “This is the first time in the history of Malaysia that an unlawful assembly has been charged with attempted murder”, said their defence lawyer, reported by Indian Express, last December.

The public opinion of the Indian community, shaped by the grievances of discrimination and the awakening coupled with the demonstration, had a big impact in the March elections. For the first time since 1969 the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has lost its two third majority in the Parliament and lost the governance of five states to the opposition. The mood of the Indian community was already reflective in the poor attendance to the Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves in January, heeding the call of Hindraf.

Being in detention Manoharan contested the elections on a DAP ticket, and had an impressive victory in Selangor, defeating the sitting candidate.

"Branding some one a terrorist is not the prerogative of some individuals sitting in power. The verdict of the concerned people is supreme. Laws, constitutions and all human institutions without exception are made and unmade by people in need. Mr Badawi should learn to respect the mandate of the people and release all leaders of Hindraf", said a political activist of Malaysia to TamilNet.

In the meantime, Mr Samy Vellu, the leader of the Malaysian Indian Congress, a component of the ruling front which suffered the worst in the last elections, said on Sunday that he would seek the release of the Hindraf leaders with the prime Minister, according to AFP and Malaysiakini reports. He was (earlier) throughout justifying the detention.

Indians constitute about nine percent of Malaysia’s population of which the large majority are Tamils. (, Sri Lanka)
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Umno EGM Important For Damage Control, Says Razaleigh

Gua Musang Member of Parliament Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah reiterated his call for Umno to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to discuss the results of the March 8 general election saying it was important for damage control.

He said the EGM would be the best platform to face the results squarely and take the appropriate measures to ensure Umno regained its footing.

"But for this to happen, the divisions must first agree for the EGM to be held and move a resolution to discuss the election results, which saw the Barisan Nasional (BN) lose five states and its two thirds-majority in Parliament.

"And formulate the steps that must be taken by the party because without the support of MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, Umno will no longer have any power in Parliament," he told reporters on arrival from Kuala Lumpur at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport here last night.

He said Malays from the peninsula now had lost power in Parliament after Umno and the BN were humiliated in the election.

"It is time the leadership comes down from its ivory tower and listen to what the members have to say about this serious debacle. We leaders having failed, now must listen to the views of the members, who give us our strength.

He said by doing this, Umno would be able to rectify the situation, as it did after a similar debacle in 1969. "But 1969 was not as bad as this time and more so after we introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP) to uplift the bumiputeras.

Tengku Razaleigh said the meetings he held with Umno division leaders post-election in the capital over the last few days was to explain to them the gravity of the situation and thus the need for the EGM. However, some of the division leaders feared they would lose their posts if they spoke up, he said, adding that this would be detrimental to the party as fear would be what would ultimately lead to Umno's extinction. (Bernama)

As much as one can appreciate Tengku Razaleigh's worries, he too must understand that it is in the national interest for Umno to be kept in check or better still in the doldrums awaiting, in his words, 'extinction'. They've had their time, five decades of it and in the end, all that they have succeeded in doing is to screw up the competitiveness of our economy, split the people and endanger national unity. And in the process they have
created a large group of pathetic rent-seekers and transformed otherwise healthy individuals into economic crutch-bearing no-hopers and basket cases.

It is time for fresh ideas and strategies for national reconciliation and Umno is simply not up to it. They have been dishing out the bangsa, agama dan negara crap for far too long and have thrived on frightening the Malays while bullying the non-Malays with visions of large-scale slaughter. People of that breed cannot see the larger picture and are forever doomed to view the world through the communal lens to politically survive.

If ever they come back to 'full' power they will definitely up the ante and become even more ferociously racist to ensure their survival. Let's pray that never happens.
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Dutch Businesses Mull Suing Wilders Over Anti-Islam Film

Dutch businesses warned Saturday they would consider suing far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders if his anti-Islam film led to a commercial boycott, as police said cars were set ablaze and graffiti called for Wilders to be killed.

"A boycott would hurt Dutch exports. Businesses such as Shell, Philips and Unilever are easily identifiable as Dutch companies. I don't know if Wilders is rich, or well-insured, but in the case of a boycott, we would look to see if we could make him bear responsibility," Bernard Wientjes, the chairman of the Dutch employers' organization VNO-NCW, told the newspaper Het Financieel Dagblad.

Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad suggested a boycott Saturday. "If Muslims unite, it will be easy to take action. If we boycott Dutch products, they will have to close down their businesses," he told reporters. "If the world's 1.3 billion Muslims unite and say they won't buy, then it (the boycott) will be effective," he said.

The media in Jordan has also called for such a boycott.

Two days after the release of the long-awaited 17-minute documentary "Fitna" on the Internet, Muslim nations including Malaysia and Singapore (sic) have condemned the film, as has the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Although there were no mass disturbances in the Netherlands, in Utrecht two cars were set ablaze overnight, with a slogan calling for the death of Wilders. Police said they could not say with certainty it was connected to the release of "Fitna."

The Dutch prime minister has warned it could be "months" before the consequences of the film were known.

Late Friday the British Web site host pulled "Fitna" from its site citing threats made to staff -- although it can still be seen on YouTube and other sites.

Condemnation of the film was led by the U.N.'s Ban, who called it an "offensively anti-Islamic film." "There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence. The right of free speech is not at stake here," he said in a statement.

Speaking after a Council of Ministers summit on Friday, Dutch PM Jan Peter Balkenende warned not to be beguiled by the initially calm reception to the film. "We are not past it yet... Sometimes it can take months before the true repercussions are felt," he told journalists.

Malaysia's foreign ministry attacked Wilders for producing the film. "Portraying Islam as a religion advocating extremism is not only misleading and erroneous but also blatant disregard and utter disrespect for Islam and the sensitiveness of the Muslim world," it said in a statement. Malaysia is a multi-racial country with a majority Muslim population.

Neighboring Singapore also condemned the film Saturday, deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng calling it offensive to Muslims. "Freedom of expression does not give anyone the license to insult another's religion or race," he said in a statement, adding he was confident Singaporeans would react to the film rationally.

Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, have also objected to the posting of the film,as well as the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Wilders has denied any responsibility for the repercussions of his film. The head of the Freedom Party, which has nine seats in the Dutch parliament, he has also called for the banning of the Koran in the Netherlands, calling it "fascist." (The China Post, Taiwan)

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Two Gems From Pak Lah - "Open Tender System Not Fair; NEP Not Racially Biased!"

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Saturday lashed out at the Penang state government for adopting a fully open tender system as it does not guarantee fairness to those who are financially weak to compete.

He said in principle the proposal by the state government to emphasise on equitability appeared to be good but this would actually result in only those who were financially strong benefiting from the system.

"The transparency, open tender and open bidding approach is certainly good and gives comfort to everyone but we have to remind them that not everything that is said to be equitable is fair. Actually, only the strong and those with financial capacity will derive benefits from it.

"This is our reminder to them because it is our (Barisan Nasional's) responsibility as the opposition party (in Penang) to give our views and we will become an opposition that is active, sensitive and curious about what is happening in Penang. We are not around just to keep the seat warm," he said at a thanksgiving gathering held by the Penang Umno Liaison Body, here Saturday night.

He clarified that the New Economic Policy (NEP) was not merely for the Bumiputeras as it also assisted the Chinese and Indian communities because the policy was not racially biased. He said the NEP was a national approach implemented to eliminate poverty regardless of race, enable equitable distribution to the people including enlarging the Bumiputera Commercial and Industrial Community (BCIC) and ensuring a robust economic growth to be enjoyed by all races.

Abdullah, who is also the chairman of the State Umno Liaison Body, reminded the 11 Umno Assemblymen, who represent the Barisan Nasional (BN), to fight for the cause of all races in the state.

"They have a heavy responsibility not only as the Assemblymen in their constituency but also as the opposition in the State Assembly," he said.

As such, he praised the strategy of the State Umno Liaison Body to give each Assemblyman a responsibility or portfolio to monitor the implementation of state government policies.

At the meeting of the state Umno management committee chaired by Adullah earlier Saturday, it was decided that a 'shadow executive council' would be appointed with each of the Umno assemblymen who won in the recent general election being given portfolios equivalent to the state government executive council.

The Prime Minister also gave an assurance to the people of Penang that the federal government led by the BN would continue to give effective service to the people and fulfil the promises contained in its manifesto.

Also present at the gathering were deputy chairman of the Penang Umno Liaison Body Datuk Seri Abdul Rashid Abdullah, Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and Perlis Umno Liaison chairman Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim. (Bernama)

***** Pak Lah is partly correct when he says that the open tender system does not guarantee fairness. However it is a much, much better mechanism than the closed system which was nothing but a corrupt, crony-serving money dispensing machine that Umno used avidly and uninterruptedly for five decades to stay in power and enrich a couple of thousand Malays.

As for the NEP, if it is not racially biased then why is every non-Malay totally against it while many Malays are vehemently objecting to even a watering down of its 'non-racial' policies? One would have thought that a near fatal blow in the last polls would have taught the umnoputeras a lesson in objectivity and honesty, but from Pak Lah's doublespeak it looks like they have yet to learn anything. Consigning Umno to the rubbish bin of history is our best bet.
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shahrir For Greater Sabah And Sarawak Representation

Domestic Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad supports the view that Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties in Sabah and Sarawak should be 'rewarded' for their splendid performance in the 12th general election.

He said their excellent performance, especially in terms of political support and contribution towards political stability should be taken into account.

"We have to take into account their political support and contribution to political stability, and thus they should be rewarded," Shahrir, who is also the member of parliament for Johor Baharu and an Umno Supreme Council member, told reporters Saturday.

Several leaders of BN component parties in Sarawak and Sabah, including Umno, felt that the number of ministers and deputy ministers from both the BN strongholds should be increased following their impressive performance in the general election on March 8.

Besides an increase in the number of full ministers and deputy ministers from the two states, they also wanted more important portfolios in the cabinet announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

In the recent general election, the BN component parties in Sabah won 24 of the 25 parliamentary seats while the Sarawak BN won 30 of the 31 parliamentary seats contested. In the Prime Minister's new cabinet, Sabah has three full ministers while Sarawak has two.

Shahrir, however, is confident that the Prime Minister was capable of resolving the requests from the Sabah and Sarawak BN component parties. "The matter will be decided by the Prime Minister when he visits the two states," he said. (Bernama)

***** While they are not openly saying it, probably both the
Sabah and Sarawak BN component parties want Umno semenanjung to give up a couple of the more important portfolios to reflect the new realities after the recent elections. Which is only fair. Umno cannot go on pretending that everything is hunky dory and it has not been weakened by the polls loss and can continue to lord it over the others. Such an attitude of denial will spell disaster for them.

Sacrifices have to be made and for a start Umno should give up a couple of the main portfolios like Home, Foreign Affairs, Defence, Trade and Industry and Education. Of course this won't happen and the 'will-they-or-won't-they-defect' sandiwara will go on.

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"Boycott Dutch Products," Dr Mahathir Urges Muslims Worldwide

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called upon Muslims worldwide to boycott Dutch products in protest of a film released Monday on the Internet which criticised Islam's holy book, the Quran.

He said such a boycott could result in The Netherlands having to "close shop", as Muslims made up the wealthiest portion of the world's population and were also the biggest importers.

However, in order to be effective, all 1.3 billion Muslims in the world must unite in the boycott and put the interest of Islam and Muslims over that of individual needs.

"We must not be afraid of losing trade with them. If we do, then we won't be thinking as Muslims, but more for our own self interests," he told reporters after opening the Malaysian Islamic Welfare Organisation's (Perkim) 46th annual general meeting at a hotel here, today. Dr Mahathir was referring to Fitna, a 15-minute film posted on a website on Thursday that highly criticised Islam, setting verses of the Quran against a background of violent images from terrorist attacks.

Dutch legislator Geert Wilders created the film, which also shows statements from radical clerics and cited verses from the Quran interspersed with images of the Sept 11 attack on the United States, the 2004 commuter train bombings in Spain and the murder later that year of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on an Amsterdam street.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir had said the film was a result of misconceptions about Islam and there was also a "critical motive behind it". "They will continue to do this until we show to them Islam is a good religion, that we are not violent people, that we don't tell lies to people..but this must be shown in practice by the Muslim community," he said.

On the home front, Dr Mahathir who is also Perkim president, said it was very important for Perkim to give the right impression of Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims alike so that there would be no misunderstanding on the religion, which could lead to fear, suspicion or hostility against Islam. (Bernama)

***** I wonder if there will be any takers for Dr M's call? To punish an entire country for the idiocy of one man seems like 'overkill'.

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Asian Students Doing Better At British Schools Than Whites: Study

Asian students in Britain are making far better progress at secondary schools than their white peers, a study has found.

White students from working-class families actually do the least homework and fall behind all other youngsters by the time they take their secondary examination as their parents have low educational aspirations, according to the study.

But, on the other hand, it has revealed that Asian and black youngsters, growing up in similar households, manage to do better in studies than white pupils, the British media reported here on Friday.

The government-funded report said: "The most significant factors were the frequency of completing homework, academic self-concept and pupils educational aspirations.

"These variables play a large part in accounting for the differential progress among pupils from low socio-economic classification (SEC) homes, and could statistically explain the strong progress of minority ethnic pupils and the poor progress of white British pupils from low SEC homes."

It added: "White British pupils were one of the two ethnic groups who reported doing the least amount of homework and the ethnic group with the lowest academic self-concept and the lowest educational aspirations, and these factors are key in interpreting their poor progress."

In addition, the research by Dr Steve Strand from the Institute of Education at Warwick University, has uncovered a massive gulf in achievement between poor white pupils and white pupils from middle-class homes.

"In effect, white British are the most polarized ethnic group in terms of attainment. White British pupils from high SEC homes are one of the highest attaining ethnic groups, while white pupils living in disadvantaged circumstances are the lowest attaining group," it said. (DNA)
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Malaysian Government Refuses New Permit For 'Chinese Spectacular'

The Malaysia Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage apologized to the organizer and audiences for the cancellation of Divine Performing Arts' Chinese Spectacular shows in Kuala Lumpur.

The Ministry published an open statement through the mainstream newspapers, explaining the reasons behind the cancellation.

However, the Ministry refused to issue the performance permit to the organizer despite the apology.

The statement says that the Ministry granted the performance permit for Chinese Spectacular on January 8, but canceled the permit on February 21 due to pressure from Chinese Communist Party's embassy. The performance was scheduled for the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre Plenary Hall on March 22 and 23.

The statement explains that the Malaysian government was forced to cancel the show permit for the reasons of "maintaining the harmony of the country and for the bi-lateral relationship with Communist China".

Mainstream Chinese newspapers Sin Chew Jit Pao and China Press published the content of the statement.

On March 24, about 20 foreign audience members from Australia, Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong protested outside the building of the Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage.

The disappointed audience members wrote in their protest letter that they have lost their good impressions of Malaysia and are concerned about the country's freedom and independence.

According to the organizer, more than 200 foreign audience members from Singapore, Indonesia, India, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia, who have booked their air tickets and accommodation, still flew to Malaysia as scheduled and had to bear the financial and time losses.

Mr. Lawrence Koh, an Australian who had bought 20 tickets for his relatives in Malaysia, expressed his disappointment: "I am disappointed. Malaysia is a democratic country, yet Malaysia bowed to the pressure of Chinese Communist Party. This is a disgrace!"

NTDTV Global Media Network, local organizer of the show, expressed regret to the Ministry for not reissuing the show permit despite its apology.

"The statement justifying the cancellation for 'maintaining harmony' is misleading, and we really do not understand how our government can label a top-notch Chinese cultural show as affecting harmony; in fact, our show can really encourage harmony in society because we are promoting the true traditional Chinese culture and values," said Wong Mei Yee, the project manager of local NTDTV.

"We hope our government can apologize to us and also support our show sincerely by reissuing the performance permit to us," said Wong. (Epoch Times, NY)

***** Will someone in the know please enlighten us on this issue?

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Dutch Fear Anger As Anti-Koran Film Hits Web

The Netherlands government tried to defuse Muslim anger after the release of a film by a Dutch lawmaker that accuses the Koran of inciting violence and shows an image of the Prophet Mohammad primed to explode.

Islam critic Geert Wilders launched his movie on Thursday evening. Titled "Fitna", a Koranic term sometimes translated as "strife", it intersperses images of the September 11, 2001 attacks and other Islamist bombings with quotations from the Koran.

The film warns that the rising number of Muslims in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe threatens democratic societies. It urges Muslims to tear out "hate-filled" verses from the Koran.

After the caption "The Netherlands in the future?" the film shows images of gay men being executed, children with bloody faces, a woman being stoned and genital mutilation. It concludes with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb under his turban, originally published in Danish newspapers, accompanied by the sound of ticking.

The Dutch government has distanced itself from Wilders’ views, hoping to avert the kind of Muslim backlash Denmark suffered in 2006 over cartoons of Mohammad.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he hoped there would not be a violent reaction to the film. "We believe it serves no purpose other than to cause offence," Balkenende said. "But feeling offended should never be used as an excuse for aggression and threats."

He said the Netherlands was in contact with Muslim countries and Dutch exporters and that he was heartened by the initial restraint of Dutch Muslims.


Before the film’s release, demonstrators had already taken to the streets from Afghanistan to Indonesia to burn Dutch and Danish flags, and the governments of Pakistan and Iran sharply criticised the project.

NATO has expressed concern the film could worsen security for foreign forces in Afghanistan, including 1,650 Dutch troops.

Brahim Bourzik, a spokesman for a Dutch Moroccan group, said mosques would open their doors to the public on Friday in an effort to defuse tension.

A court in Rotterdam is due to hear an injunction against Wilders on Friday brought by the Dutch Islamic Federation. The politician said on Thursday the film did not break any laws.

Wilders has been under heavy guard because of Islamist death threats since the 2004 murder of Dutch director Theo van Gogh after he made a film critical of Islam’s treatment of women. His killing by a Dutch-Moroccan militant triggered a wave of unrest in the Netherlands, home to almost 1 million Muslims out of a population of 16 million. Mosques, churches and Muslim schools were firebombed.

Earlier this month, Dutch security officials raised the national risk level to "substantial" because of the Wilders film and perceptions of an increased al Qaeda threat. They also asked all Dutch politicians to register their public appearances.

Dutch exporters have expressed fears of a possible boycott in the Muslim world, though trade with such countries makes up only a few percentage points of total exports. There is also concern for 25,000 Dutch citizens living in Muslim countries. (Reuters)
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Review For Hindraf 5 Under ISA Detention? Syed Hamid Albar Plays Dumb

The detention of the five Hindraf leaders under the Internal Security Act will be reviewed as there is provision for it, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

He, however, said he did not know yet when the review period would be for the five who are under a two-year detention at the Kamunting detention camp.

He also said that he was not involved in the review.

"Since I am not involved in the review, I will leave it to those responsible to make proposals (on their detention period) and only then can we take the necessary action," he told reporters Friday at his office here.

Better known as the Hindraf 5, the men under detention for their role in the Nov 25 protests in Kuala Lumpur last year, are P. Uthayakumar, V. Ganabatirau, K. Vasantha Kumar, R. Kengadharan, and M. Manoharan who won the Kota Alam Shah state seat by a 7,184-vote majority over incumbent Ching Su Chen of Barisan Nasional.

When asked on calls for Manoharan's release to allow him to take care of his constituency, Syed Hamid said any action taken would be based on precedent, adding that the law was applicable even on those who are under detention.

"We cannot simply react to political parties' call, we have to react towards what is public safety and peace and will make due considerations if there is no threat to national security," he said, adding that if they found no changes to the situation, it would not be considered.

Syed Hamid added that Manoharan could not attend state assembly sessions as an elected representative while under detention.

But he said Manoharan could take an oath as a state assemblyman at the detention camp as this had been done in the past.

Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit, who won the Batu Gajah and Sungai Besi parliamentary seats respectively on a DAP ticket, did so in the presence of the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Tan Sri Dr Syed Nasir Ismail, the secretary of the Dewan Rakyat and camp authorities in 1978. (The Star)

Syed Hamid Albar should act like the Home Minister that he is and not try to be diplomatic as if he were still in the Foreign Ministry. Nothing involving ISA detainees can escape his purview and he should stop this "I don't know," or "I am not involved," bullshit. His lame excuse that the authorities 'must make due considerations if there is no threat to national security' is laughable at best and downright pathetic and stupid at worst.

Keeping those chaps from Hindraf under the ISA is a despicable act, a serious travesty of justice and totally out of sync with claims by the government that we are a democracy. Come on Syed Hamid, do end this sham as quickly as you can. It might earn a little credibility for you, even if the other principals responsible for their detention will always stand condemned.
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Hanif Basree Walks Out A Free Man After Federal Court Upholds Acquittal

Shah Alam City Council engineer Hanif Basree Abdul Rahman walked out a a free man Friday after the Federal Court here upheld his acquittal on a charge of murdering business development executive Noritta Samsuddin.

The five man-bench comprising Justices Datuk Arifin Zakaria, Datuk Nik Hashim Ab.Rahman, Datuk Hashim Yusoff, Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin and Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi (now Court of Appeal president) unanimously threw out the prosecution's appeal to set aside the High Court's decision to free Hanif.

Zaki, who delivered the judgment, said that the High Court and Court of Appeal had correctly examined the evidence adduced and applied the correct principles in coming to their findings.

"The prosecution has not discharged its burden in this case. The trial judge was right in deciding not to call Hanif to make his defence and subsequently discharging and acquiting him," Zaki said.

On Jan 29, 2005, the Court of Appeal dismissed the prosecution's appeal to set aside the High Court's decision on July 2004 acquitting Hanif without calling for his defence.

Hanif, 39, was accused of killing Noritta, 22, at No D-7-1, Puncak Prima Galleria Condominium in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, between 1.30am and 4am on Dec 5, 2003.

The whole panel was present except for Justice Arifin who had some business to attend to. (Bernama)
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Terengganu MB Impasse - Humiliating Retreat By Umno

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was granted an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Wednesday morning before the weekly Cabinet meeting. But what transpired at the Istana will go down in modern Malaysian history as nothing short of earthshattering. In a humiliating comedown, Pak Lah made a complete u-turn on the Terengganu MB impasse and sheepishly accepted the choice of the palace, Kijal assemblyman Datuk Ahmad Said.

Last Sunday, Ahmad, 51, received the letter of appointment as the new Terengganu Menteri Besar from the Regency Advisory Council (MPPR) in a closed-door ceremony at Istana Tetamu. His appointment replaced Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, who had earlier received a letter from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, nominating him as the Menteri Besar for the second term.

How the rest of Umno will react to this slap in the face by the Agong is not known but could this episode further weaken the embattled prime minister? Only a couple of days ago Pak Lah had said that the issue was one that would have to be addressed quickly. "I’d like to say that there are ways to overcome this problem. I don’t think the situation cannot be resolved," he had then confidently explained. But no one even for a moment thought that his 'way of overcoming the problem' was a quiet retreat from the earlier belligerent posturing and claims of the palace's decision being unconstitutional.

Seeing the happenings over the past few days one has to consider if the super-strong political behemoth that Umno has always been reputed to be, is in reality another overrated house of cards. Probably so. Any political party which had thrived on the premise of racism, corruption and fake slogans must one day crumble under its own weight of misdeeds. Here, one is reminded of what Mahatma Gandhi once said about dictators - "there have been tyrants and murderers, and, for a time, they seemed invincible, but in the end, they always failed." That sagacious statement is equally applicable to Umno.
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Party Elections Must Go On," Says Umno Management Committee. Beginning Of The End For Pak Lah?

The Umno management committee has unanimously agreed that the party should proceed with its elections this year.

Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said all members of the panel chaired by deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak were of the view that the polls should not be postponed under the pretext of reviving the party after its poor showing in the March 8 general election.

"We should have elections because the democratic process has to continue. There is nothing to be afraid of"

"We should take the bull by the horns," Muhyiddin told reporters at the Vietnam-Malaysia Economic Conference at the Sunway Lagoon Resort Thursday. (The Star)

***** Do we see a split in the views of the top Umno leadership? On the one hand, Muhd Md Taib called for a postponement of the party polls for which there were solemn 'ayes' and now the management committee itself says 'no postponement'.

If you put yourself in the shoes of the no. 2, 3 and 4 in Umno, then you can understand why they don't want a postponement. This is the most convenient opportunity to dump Pak Lah when his stock is at its lowest. For Najib this is the best time to occupy the top slot, provided the whole sandiwara to oust the PM does not in any way implicate him. He must be seen as the 'innocent, disinterested' pemimpin who has been elevated to the presidency by circumstances.

As for Md Ali Rustam, the CM of tiny Melaka, this must be a dream come true as he nervously prays from the sidelines for the decision which may thrust him into the limelight and the no. 2 position in the party and perhaps even the deputy premiership.

Let's wait and watch as the drama unfolds.
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Raja Petra Ordered To Pay RM4m In Damages

The High Court yesterday ordered blogger Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin to pay RM2 million to Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) vice-chancellor Tan Sri Dr Nordin Kardi in general damages over an article he posted on his website "Malaysia Today" two years ago.

Deputy High Court Registrar Priscilla Gengadaran also ordered Raja Petra to pay RM2 million to the university over the article which appeared on the website on Dec 16, 2006.

Raja Petra and two defendants did not defend themselves and they also failed to appoint counsel.

Nordin, the first plaintiff, and UUM, the second plaintiff, had filed a defamation suit against Raja Petra (first defendant) and three others -- Parti Keadilan Rakyat (second defendant), chief editor of the opposition party's organ, Suara Keadilan (third defendant) and editor of the bulletin (fourth defendant) -- on Feb 25 last year.

Nordin and UUM claimed that Raja Petra and the three other defendants had published the libellous article with intention to tarnish his and UUM's good name and integrity.

The article Dato' Dr Nordin Kardi Ciplak Karya Saya? Mohon Penjelasan... (Dato' Dr Nordin Kardi plagiarises my works? Please explain...) was first published in Raja Petra's website, "Malaysia Today", on Dec 16, 2006.

The article authored by Muhtar Haji Suhaili had claimed his works Mahasiswa dan Tanggujawab Menguruskan Kejayaan (Graduands and the Responsibility in Managing Success) was plagiarised by a person who had used the name Dato' Nordin Kardi.

As it turned out, Raja Petra had picked up the article which was posted on a website at

The article was subsequently published in Suara Keadilan on Dec 27, 2006.

In her judgement, Priscilla also ordered the chief editor and editor of Suara Keadilan to each pay Nordin RM1 million for publishing the article.

They also each have to pay UUM RM500,000.

Nordin and UUM were represented by Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz.

Priscilla, however, has yet to fix a trial date for the PKR which is represented by R. Sivarasa.

Meanwhile, Nordin described the judgment as a landmark decision against a cyber misconduct. "I hope others who might have been defamed by cyber misconduct would consider legal action against the wrongdoers.

"I also hope the High Court decision would serve as a deterrent against any attempt to invade the integrity of an individual or institution," he said. (NST)

Deputy Registrar Priscilla Gengadaran seems to be dishing out fines for damages as if they were Smarties candy. I doubt if such exorbitant fines, for this or any other case, will be allowed by the higher courts. The days of judicial excesses and imprudence going unchecked are over.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

China - A Shortsighted Choice To Host The 2008 Summer Olympics?

With the Beijing Olympics less than five months away, issues China would prefer not to bubble up as the games approach – its involvement in Darfur, longstanding record of egregious human rights violations, violent clashes in Tibet, and reports of drastic punishments for Chinese citizens who speak out against the games – are finally beginning to gain some traction and media attention. And deservedly so. These problems should have been anticipated years ago, and are now threatening to make Beijing more of an international incident than a global competition.

Foremost among China’s troubles is its relationship with the Sudan, where there is growing pressure to end the genocide in Darfur. As the Sudan’s largest trading partner, China knows it is under intense scrutiny and is only now starting to publicly put separation between itself and the African nation. China has a history of blocking sanctions against Sudan and has supplied weapons that end up in the hands of militants contributing to the damage. Any steps China takes now to minimize the chaos in Darfur are clearly motivated by its public-relations-fueled desire to quiet any controversy leading up to August 8, when the eyes of the world turn to Beijing.

Questions more directly related to the games themselves have also arisen. Distance runners are worried about China’s high pollution levels having potential health-related consequences. There have been stories about China displacing families living in areas planned for Olympic facilities. Restrictions on live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square have been discussed for fear of protests pouring out over global television and embarrassing the host nation.

The confluence of these problems has the potential to make the Beijing Olympics a disaster, but that doesn’t mean they should not have been expected. China, after all, is what might be described as just somewhat less than democratic. And yet, despite seven years of pro-democracy chest-thumping from the Bush administration, there has not been even the slightest opposition to some of China’s more worrisome practices (which of course is likely owed to the fact that China basically owns us at this point – a bigger problem for another day).

The controversy would put any conscionable athlete in a tough spot. Taking the strongest possible individual stand against the games – refusing to participate – is probably not worth it to them to sacrifice a moment on the biggest stage of their sport. Indeed, the burden of raising awareness about the issues plaguing China and the games cannot fairly be placed on the athletes alone. Some Olympic contributors of varying levels of importance have voiced concerns. Steven Spielberg pulled out as an artistic advisor, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested he may skip the opening ceremonies.

In retrospect, China may appear to have been a shortsighted choice to host the 2008 summer Olympics. But with the games’ inevitability cemented, China must make a real effort to resolve some of its vast international problems. Until such progress is made, individuals, governments, athletes, and others involved should use whatever influence they may have to force China’s hand. (By Zach Epstein, the Daily Colonial)
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Malaysia's PM Pays High Price To Stay In Power

By Michael Backman

MALAYSIA'S hapless Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi got something right last week: he announced a radical reshuffle of his cabinet, which included dropping several ministers who had seemed untouchable. But what Abdullah got wrong was the timing. The reshuffle is about two years too late. Had he done it then, his coalition Government would not have done so badly at this month's elections. He would not now be staring into the political abyss whereby it is almost a certainty he will not be Prime Minister at the next election. It is a possibility that his party will not even be in office.

But Abdullah's new ministry is no clear-cut triumph. Two Government members named as ministers refused to serve, highlighting the sloppiness of the process of government in Malaysia. Why did Abdullah not check with them before announcing his ministry? This is the usual process in parliamentary democracies elsewhere. One, aged just 54, said he wanted to make way for a younger person. Did he sense a sinking ship?

The head of the Malaysian Chinese Association, a component of the ruling coalition, made it quite clear he didn't want to be considered for a cabinet post. He wants to spend more time watching his back. There is much bitterness in the MCA and a chance it will split.

Most interestingly, Abdullah appointed Muhammad Muhammad Taib as his Minister for Rural and Regional Development. What does such a minister do? He travels to Malaysia's more far-flung parts and hands out money for development. What he really does is to hand out contracts to politicians, their families and friends to keep them onside. This will be more important than ever now, as the ruling coalition does not have a majority of seats in Parliament drawn from peninsular Malaysia and can only rule with the support of the smaller, regionally based parties in Sarawak and Sabah states on the island of Borneo.

Muhammad Taib's job will be to fly to those states with suitcases of money to keep them onside. It's a role for which he's shown some talent. In 1997, when chief minister of Selangor state, he was arrested at Brisbane International Airport with the equivalent of $1.26 million in currency in his luggage as he was about to board a plane for New Zealand.

Australian law requires that amounts above $5000 be declared. Muhammad Taib had no identifiable source of significant wealth and had been a lowly paid school teacher before entering politics. In addition to the cash, he and his wife were found to own property in Queensland and another six properties in New Zealand.

Muhammad Taib avoided prosecution for currency smuggling by claiming he misunderstood the customs declaration form because it was in English — a sad indictment of a former school teacher from a country where English is one of the main spoken languages.

Sabah and Sarawak hold the key to the longevity of Abdullah's Government. If the parties based there can be persuaded to leave the ruling coalition, then it will be out of office. It is for this reason that in the days after the election, opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim travelled to the two states for discussions with local politicians.

What would it take for them to change sides? No doubt Anwar gently inquired. And no doubt the answer would be no surprise.

The distribution of government contracts is the amalgam of any political coalition in Malaysia. And the principal figure when it comes to handing out contracts is the Finance Minister. It's not on account of his skills as an economist that Abdullah defied convention and made himself Finance Minister when he came to office. Indeed, I once asked a former finance minister Daim Zainuddin what he spent most of his time doing. His response was absolutely unequivocal: awarding contracts and making sure all those who politically needed pay-offs got them, took up most of his time.

What was Anwar before he was sacked from the government? He too was the finance minister. Essentially Anwar fully knows the grubby ins and outs of politics in Malaysia because, as finance minister for five years, he was the nation's chief dispenser of contracts. So in his discussions with the Sarawak and Sabah powerbrokers, he will know exactly what buttons to press and what promises to make. Don't expect high-minded principle to be behind any changes in alliances. Leopards do not change their spots, particularly when they are from Borneo.

Abdullah knows this too, which is why Muhammad Taib has returned to the ministry: Abdullah needs a bag man. The battle for Sarawak and Sabah is going to cost Malaysia dearly. Sarawak especially, which has already experienced break-neck development, will be even more resplendent with contracts and infrastructure. Its politicians will grow richer and its jungles sparser. Projects that have been put on hold suddenly will be approved.

One project, a giant dam and hydro-electric scheme, which has been on and off for at least two decades, will be one of the bargaining chips. It will net the family of the Chief Minister of Sarawak hundreds of millions of dollars in supply and construction contracts. Indeed, in August Rio Tinto signed an agreement with a company controlled by the Chief Minister's family for an aluminium smelter in Sarawak. Other foreign contractors will also find rich pickings in Sarawak and Sabah.

Its not clear who will win control of the Malaysian Parliament, but the family businesses of the politicians of Sarawak and Sabah stand to profit handsomely no matter which side is victorious. (The Age, Australia)


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Terengganu MB Tussle - Ahmad Said To Pick Many New Faces For Terengganu Exco

The State Assemblyman for Kijal, Datuk Ahmad Said, who started work as the new Terengganu Menteri Besar today, said he would appoint members of the State Executive Council (Exco) from among the 23 Barisan Nasional (BN) elected representatives.

"Of course (I will pick them as State Exco members because) they were elected by the people," he told reporters at Wisma Darul Iman, here today.

Asked about the lack of support for him from the BN elected representatives, Ahmad said he believed some of them supported him.

He said the elected representatives who would be appointed State Exco members would take their oath of office at a ceremony to be decided later.

He also disclosed that the Exco line-up would see a drastic change with the entry of many new faces.

"It's normal, when things are new, some will remain, some will be new," he said.

On Sunday, Ahmad, 51, received the letter of appointment as the new Terengganu Menteri Besar from the Regency Advisory Council (MPPR) in a closed-door ceremony at Istana Tetamu, here.

He received the letter from the Head of the Council, Tengku Sri Panglima Raja Tengku Baderulzaman witnessed by two other members of the Council, namely Tengku Sri Laksamana Raja Tengku Sulaiman Sultan Ismail and former Federal Court Judge, Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman.

His appointment replaced Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, who had earlier received a letter from Prime Minister Dauk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, nominating him as the Menteri Besar for the second term.

Ahmad also said that he did not have to take the oath of office as the Menteri Besar because the letter of appointment he received on Sunday had confirmed his position as the new Menteri Besar. (Bernama)

***** Well Ahmad Said seems upbeat amidst all the hoo-haa! Perhaps he has reason to be. A little earlier
Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, the chairman of the Terengganu Umno Liaison Body had morosely announced that he will accept whatever decision taken by the leadership and the palace for the good of the rakyat, including the possibility of not taking the menteri besar's post.

What one can deduce from this announcement is that a deal has been made somewhere along the line and our man Idris is out.

There is no doubt that no matter who may replace Idris, Umno as a party and as the major partner in the government has taken a solid beating and can only emerge weaker from this test of wills. The political landscape is being realigned and reformed with no one really knowing what will happen tomorrow, let alone next week.
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