Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Muslim NGO Seeks PAS’ Help To Stop Pig-Rearing Project In Malacca

About 300 members of a non-governmental organisation, Majlis Permuafakatan Ummah (Pewaris), gathered in front of the Bandar Baru Bangi Stadium, near here Monday night to hand over a memorandum seeking PAS’ assistance in efforts to stop the pig-farming project in Masjid Tanah, Malacca.

A minor commotion broke out when the Pewaris members were initially prevented from entering a talk on abolishing the Internal Security Act organised by PAS.

However, after negotiating for more than 10 minutes, the organisers allowed five Pewaris members to enter the stadium to hand over the memorandum.

Pewaris deputy chairman Rahimuddin Md Harun later handed over the memorandum to PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu and PAS Youth head Salahuddin Ayub.

Pewaris and the Gabungan Gerakan Melayu Muda (GGMM), representing the residents of six villages in Malacca, want the PAS leaders to assist them in resolving the problems regarding pig-farming.

About 30 police personnel from the Kajang District Police Headquarters maintained security at the stadium. (The Star Online)

By submitting this memorandum to PAS, Pewaris and the Gabungan Gerakan Melayu Muda have essentially put the Islamic party on a sticky wicket. If PAS comes out in strong support of this demand, it will immediately alienate the very crucial Chinese vote and put a damper on PAS' national aspirations. If it simply ignores the memo then its sincerity (and credibility) takes a hit. A damned if they do, damned if they don't situation.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

ISA Stays Despite Strong Protests

Despite deafening calls to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA), there was no indication at all in 2008 that it will be abolished or replaced with a new law.

The detention of several individuals under the ISA sparked debate on the act, with many claiming it restricted freedom as enshrined in the federal constitution and was misused for political interest.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has also proposed that the ISA be replaced with an anti-terrorism law, stressing on the rights of detainees like appointing lawyers and the right to judicial review.

Calls to abolish the ISA gained momentum after several Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders were detained on Dec 13, last year for demonstrating in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25 and making slanderous statements against the government.

The Hindraf leaders include lawyer M. Manoharan, state assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah, lawyer P. Uthayakumar, V. Ganabatirau, R. Kenghadharan and former bank officer K. Vasantha Kumar.

Efforts to get them released from Kamunting Camp, Taiping, proved futile when their habeas corpus (writ) application was rejected three times by the Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur high courts.

Their appeals have yet to be heard by the Federal Court.

Matters came to a head when Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Seputeh Member of Parliament Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng were detained under the ISA on Sept 12.

Raja Petra, who is also a blogger, was detained for an article with elements deemed insulting to Islam that could spark anger and affect the peace.

Kok, who was detained under section 73 (1) of ISA for sparking racial and religious conflict over the controversial mosque azan issue was released a week later.

Tan was detained by police in Penang for her report on a speech by Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail who had allegedly said "the Chinese are passengers." She was released, a week later.

Their detentions, particularly Tan's, were strongly criticised by various quarters prompting Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to say she was detained to "protect her from death threats".

The Bar Council Malaysia held an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) and passed six resolutions, asking the government to abolish the ISA and other laws allowing detention without trial.
Read the whole report HERE.

***** It looks like the ISA is here to stay until the day the people decide to abolish Umno once and for all.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hudud Laws Only For Muslims, Says Pas President

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said today non-Muslims should not feel apprehensive about the implementation of "hudud" laws in the country because the Islamic penal code was meant only for Muslims.

He said non-Muslims could opt for the law they wanted, for example as provided for in the Syariah Criminal Code of Kelantan and Terengganu.

"It is unnecessary for PAS to give an explanation (on the hudud laws) because the laws have nothing to do with non-Muslims," he told a news conference after launching the "Jom Sertai PAS" (Let's Join PAS) campaign at Dataran Shah Alam here.

Abdul Hadi was asked whether PAS would provide an explanation on the hudud laws to the leaders of DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) -- the other component parties -- in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) as they were uncomfortable with PAS's idea of wanting to implement the hudud laws if the PR came to power in the country. (Bernama)

***** Now that the top man in PAS has given his assurance, how many of you non-Muslims are relieved by his words? Can we now proceed with its implementation?

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Friday, December 26, 2008

IJN Collected RM3 Million In 2008 From Private Donors. How Much Has Sime Darby Given?

The National Heart Institute (IJN) Foundation has collected RM3 million this year from charitable organisations, private companies and the society to help fund heart treatment for the poor.

IJN Foundation manager Alawiyah Yussof said six private companies had been making regular contributions annually while organisations and individuals contributed from time to time.

Contributors to the IJN foundation include Pfizer Malaysia, AirAsia and the Tenaga Nasional Foundation.

"The contributions were not only in monetary form but also as partners in our programmes," Alawiyah told Bernama recently.

Formed in 1995, the IJN Foundation collects funds to treat poor heart patients and to fund IJN's research programmes.

She said the foundation was never short on funds when called upon to help and last year funded 85 patients costing over RM2 million.

"Sometimes, we also help to buy additional equipments for patients."

IJN treats three categories of patients namely government staff or retirees, patients who could afford to pay and those who could not afford like farmers and fishermen.

She the foundation did not receive any complaints on lack of equipments or poor service from patients or their family members.

On the deferred plan to privatise IJN, Alawiyah said the privatisation of IJN would drive away donors.

"This is because the society regards private companies as profit-driven and wholly dependent on capital expenditure," she added.

Sime Darby Bhd was recently reported as planning to buy a 51 percent stake in IJN Holdings Sdn Bhd, the operator of IJN.

IJN, the leading medical heart centre in the region is 99.99 percent owned by the Ministry of Finance.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Dec 19 the privatisation of IJN had been postponed pending an indepth review by the relevant ministries. (Bernama)

***** If the greed merchants in Sime Darby genuinely have the best interests of IJN and its patients at heart (pun intended), then instead of trying to 'help' by taking over the heart institute, they should donate generously as other private groups have done. Najib too should lean on the Sime Darby corporate vultures to part with more cash for the needy instead of attempting to assist his brother Nazir Razak and reward cronies by engineering a backdoor economic coup.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Live TV Coverage Brings Parliament 'Circus' To The Bedroom

The Dewan Rakyat session has never been the same since Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) started live coverage showing government backbenchers in a war of words with the opposition.

The key players are oldtimers like Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor), Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan), Datuk Mohamad Aziz (BN-Sri Gading), Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (PAS-Marang), Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu) and Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur).

The new kids on the block include Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau), Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir (BN-Jerlun), Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak), Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) and Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PKR-Machang).

The high temperature in parliament was due to the political tsunami from the last general election where Barisan Nasional (BN) only won 140 seats of the 222 seats with 82 going to the opposition, thus losing the two-thirds majority.

Veterans Karpal Singh and Datuk Bung Moktar turned parliament into a circus when they traded barbs, calling each other names like 'bigfoot' and 'big monkey', resulting in only three questions answered during the question and answer session.

Karpal: "I hope that the 'bigfoot' from Kinabatangan will not disturb me. 'Bigfoot' sit down".

Bung Moktar: "I dare you to stand. If I am 'bigfoot', you are 'big monkey'," he told off Karpal who kept questioning the manner a member of parliament (MP) had taken his oath.

The name calling did not end there as Karpal then dragged seasoned politician Ibrahim Ali into the fray calling him 'frog' for contesting on a PAS ticket but remaining an independent.

It all broke loose on the first day of the parliament sitting where RTM1 made live coverage for 30 minutes, keeping many Malaysians glued to the TV sets.

After this episode, several quarters called on the government to review the rationale of the live coverage aimed at proving its media transparency with some calling for it to be scrapped.

The Cabinet then decided that the live coverage should continue while the MPs were advised to behave properly and choose their words carefully.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and his two deputies Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and Datuk Ronald Kiandee had been likened to headmasters trying to control a bunch of schoolchildren.

Some of Pandikar Amin's decisions had caused dissatisfaction to Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah), Chong Chieng Jan (DAP-Bandar Kuching) and Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) who were ejected and suspended from questioning them.

The entry of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim into parliament replacing wife Datin Seri Wan Azizah Ismail as opposition leader in August only served to crank up the heat in the Dewan Rakyat.

Anwar, who won the Permatang Pauh seat vacated by Wan Azizah, wasted little time in making his presence felt by claiming that some BN MPs would switch to the opposition enabling him to form the federal government on Sept 16.

His claim that at least 13 BN MPs from East Malaysia would jump ship fueled talks of a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, prompting calls for an anti party-hopping law.

It turned out to be a bluff as no BN MPs had defected except for Datuk Eric Enchin Majimbun (BN-Sepanggar) and Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bui (BN-Tawau), who quit Parti Maju Sabah (SAPP) to become independents.

The Dewan Rakyat was also at the centre of a boycott by the media as pressmen were barred from making coverage in the lobby area.

The boycott was called off after government backbenchers stepped in by cutting the ribbon put up to prevent pressmen from entering the lobby. (Bernama)

***** While we cannot expect a C-Span type of coverage in Malaysia, the present live telecast is a good first step.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Malay Writers Associations' Dec 31 Deadline To Govt On Teaching Maths & Science In English

The Federation of Malay Writers Associations (Gapena) has given the Government until Dec 31 to decide whether to continue the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science in English.

Otherwise, it will act, including taking the matter to court.

Gapena wanted the Government to be firm and decide on the issue soonest possible, said its deputy president Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Abu Bakar.

“The Education Minister can say we are being emotional. Yes, we are emotional (over this matter) but it is only to protect the position of Bahasa Malaysia as provided in the Federal Constitution,” he told reporters at a Gapena dinner with the media here on Tuesday night.

Gapena has been pressuring the Government to revert to the teaching and learning of Maths and Science in Bahasa Malaysia.

***** It's a lose-lose situation for the government. Apparently there is an unbendingly firm view among language lovers of all the major communities that it is better to ditch English. On the other hand some experts feel that English is the way to go for the future competitiveness of our citizens to be enhanced.

Whichever way the government leans it is in for strong criticism. But given the way our pemimpin usually decide, we can be sure that politics will play a crucial role.
Image - Source

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Social Contract Must Be Kept And Honoured, Says Rais

The social contract among the founding fathers should be kept and honoured, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

He said it would be tumultuous to unravel the understanding that had been reached among them and succeeding generations since independence.

"With strict observance and enforcement of the laws, our nation has been able to keep itself intact for half a century in spite the dire predictions of many word-twisting pundits.

"It has been said that a people who ignore the lessons of history are bound to repeat the same mistakes," he said in his speech at a United Nations Association of Malaysia (UNAM) dinner to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the United Nations (UN), here, Friday night.

Rais said there was no traditional mechanism, educational or otherwise that "educates the people on the rudiments of the Malaysian social contract".

"Due to this lack in educational guidance, some have even said that there is no such thing as the social contract in this country. This is frivolous and dangerous talk.

"The social contract is there. It is there through the laws of the land. It is there through the history pages of our country. It is there through the substratum of our cultural innates."

He said Malaysians tended to take for granted the peace and harmony that they enjoyed today.

"But peace and harmony did not come automatically. They were the result of painstaking efforts, sacrifice and compromise on the part of our founding fathers, particularly the UMNO leaders and the Malay Rulers who had the wisdom of sharing power instead of governing on their own.

"Many had preferred that UMNO could govern on their own but they didn't. Many ultras have harangued our leaders by saying that we hold power but we are not the majority rich," he said.

Rais said rather than taking one another for granted, Malaysians should work assiduously to strengthen inter-ethnic relations at all levels, from school to the work place, from the private sector to the civil service and beyond.

"Of course the stumbling block is that we still think and behave in racial or ethnic terms as Malays, Chinese, Indians and as Ibans, Melanaus or Murut-Kadazans and other ethnic groups that make up our blessed land.

"In such a milieu, the importance of showing respect for our people's cultural and religious values and heritage is of the utmost importance.

"There is a place for everyone of us under the Malaysian sun irrespective of racial, cultural or religious background. We should constantly remind ourselves of the vital importance of these ingredients which have guaranteed our political stability and have enabled us to achieve since we came together as a nation," he added. (Bernama)

***** "
The stumbling block is that we still think and behave in racial or ethnic terms as Malays, Chinese, Indians and as Ibans, Melanaus or Murut-Kadazans," says Rais. But pray tell who is to blame for this? Which group of power hungry racists has been assiduously sowing the seeds of division for decades and ruling by wielding the strategy of fear and prejudice? Which political party has been demanding loyalty from those they have discriminated against repeatedly, in the name of a policy which is morally reprehensible and repugnant?

In practical terms isn't this frequent alluding to a 'social contract' merely an attempt to justify racial discrimination? What say you?

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Friday, December 19, 2008

IJN Doctors Prefer Status Quo. So Why Are Najib And Sime Darby Lying?

National Heart Institute (IJN) doctors are happy to serve the institute in its present form and do not want to be made a scapegoat in the proposed privatisation of the institute.

In a statement signed by 33 of the 35 medical consultants working for IJN, they stressed that the proposed privatisation was not a response towards their demands for better pay.

“We would like to reiterate our commitment to serve IJN in its current form and want to stress that the move must not be seen as a response to our demands for better pay,” it said.

The doctors added that the medical personnel were not at all involved in the negotiations for the proposed takeover. (The Star Online)

***** Yesterday Najib said that the proposal would have some advantages for IJN as funding would not be a problem for Sime Darby and doctors would also receive better remuneration and that Sime Darby must pledge its commitment that the poor would not be marginalised if IJN is to be transferred to it. That statement was meant to allay fears about the poor being ignored while throwing a sop to the doctors there.

It is abundantly clear that the IJN doctors themselves smell a huge rat in the whole deal which in reality is meant to enrich a few Umno cronies as is customary in this once fair land of ours.

With Najib holding the finance portfolio and his impending rise to the PM's post, this particular episode does not boost our confidence in him. On the contrary, with all the political baggage and scandals he has already amassed, this highly suspicious proposal merely adds to our worry about the slippery slope this country will be on under his leadership.

Let us not forget that it was this same Najib in cahoots with former sports minister Azalina who was hell-bent on splurging hundreds of millions of taxpayer money under the pretext of building a sports center in the UK despite near unanimous public objections. That crooked scheme fortunately came to a screeching halt when the local authority there gave Najib and Azalina the 'up yours'.

Makes one almost regret why we allowed Pak Lah to be hounded out of office.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

IJN To Be Sold To Sime Darby. Who Will Suffer And Who Will Make Millions?

The government has no objection in principle for Sime Darby Bhd to acquire a stake in IJN Holdings Sdn Bhd but the conglomerate must ensure high priority for the poor, said the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today.

"We are in the process of finalising the matter with the Ministry of Health although in principle we have no objection to the proposal," he said after chairing a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on AIDS in Parliament, Thursday.

Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, said Sime Darby must pledge its commitment that the poor would not be marginalised if IJN is to be transferred to it.

"Whatever the position of IJN, it is important for the social programme to be given high priority," he added.

It was reported that Sime Darby had written to the government proposing to acquire a stake in IJN Holdings as the operator of the national heart institute.

IJN is currently the leading medical heart centre in the region and is 99.99 percent owned by the Ministry of Finance.

When asked if there were other parties interested in acquiring a stake in IJN, he said: "Not, as far as I know,".

Najib said the proposal would have some advantages for IJN as funding would not be a problem for Sime Darby and doctors would also receive better remuneration.

"Given the need for better treatment of heart diseases and the competition from new hospitals coming up, it is possible to pinch doctors from IJN," he said.

It was reported that Sime Darby is expected to pay a premium price above the typical hospital valuation of 16 times the price to earnings (PE) ratio as IJN is a reputable heart specialist centre in the region. (Bernama)

***** I can't think of a single logical reason for Sime Darby's interest in acquiring IJN other than profit, profit, profit. You can be sure that altruism is not a motivating factor. Having plundered everything in sight, the umnoputeras' avaricious hunger for easy money has not spared even the IJN.

Do you for a minute think that charges would go down after these buggers take control of IJN? The rich and middle class will have to cough out much more while the poor will slowly die at home, unable to afford even a fraction of the fees that will inevitably and surreptitiously be increased skywards. 'There's tons of money to be made in people's suffering' should be Sime Darby's working motto from now on.

Greed merchants laughing all the way to the Swiss Banks.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yoga: A Conflict Of Religion?

I came across the following article which may be of interest to you.
Avondale's Kim Mason is a Christian who takes her faith seriously. She also practices yoga several times a week.


No way, said Mason, who scoffs at the notion that yoga is an overt or subliminal homage to ancient Indian gods or spirituality.

"You don't have to worship anything" during yoga, Mason said. "You can worship a Gucci purse if you want to - you have to look at your motive."

Mason's motive? Glorifying Christ.

"It is a form of praise and worship, in my opinion."

Given that nearly 16 million Americans practice yoga and spend $5.7 billion a year on classes and related products, Mason isn't alone in embracing the practice. But there are also many who view it as spiritually suspect at best and spiritually corrupting at worst.

The issue was thrust into the spotlight in November when an Islamic religious council in Malaysia banned Muslims there from practicing yoga because it includes postures, rituals and chants with ancient Indian origins.

That ruling mirrors the concern of some Jewish and Christian leaders who warn their followers against participating in any activity violating the biblical prohibition on idolatry and that tends to claim that all religions are equally valid paths to salvation.

And the issue is on the minds of studio owners and others as doctors, psychologists and other health professionals are increasingly recommending yoga as a way to combat everything from depression to stress.

Is yoga a religion?

Yoga teachers and studio owners draw a distinction between "spiritual" and "religious" when describing the practice: It's spiritual because it can do as much to strengthen existing faith as it can muscles, they said.

"It's a spiritual path," said Shri Hamilton-Hubbard, owner of Bliss Yoga in San Marco. "It works very well if you practice a religion along with it."

Yoga postures are more effective in both the physiological and spiritual realms if a practitioner is focused on what is most sacred to them during a session, whether it's Buddha, Jesus, Ganesh or simply "spirit," she said.


"Spirit for you can be connecting with your breath," said Kate Cordell, director of Ocean Yoga in Atlantic Beach. "Spirit could be connecting with a particular deity - maybe you're a Christian, and Jesus is who you honor."

Hamilton-Hubbard, Cordell and other teachers and studio owners said they never push a particular deity or agenda in their classes - just the principle of connecting with the sacred through practice.

Clergy advice: 'Be careful'

Rabbi Yoseph Kahanov said he's no yoga expert, but he knows for Judaism some forms are acceptable and some are not.

Kahanov, spiritual leader of Mandarin-based Chabad Lubavitch of Northeast Florida, said he's often asked if it's OK to participate in yoga. He reminds people that Judaism prohibits worshipping or honoring other deities in any form.

"I tell them it's OK when it's just trying to help people focus and meditate properly," Kahanov said. "But when it starts becoming religious in any way, I advise them not to be involved in that."

The Rev. Pradeep Thorat said he advises people to stay away from the practice, period.

Even yoga that's completely devoid of Sanskrit spiritual terms should be avoided because some of the postures originate from Hindu worship.

"If it comes from a spiritual background, it does carry some sort of spiritual effect," said Thorat, pastor of First Baptist Church of India in Jacksonville.
Read the whole report HERE

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Angkasawan Will Get To Defend Himself

National astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor will be given the opportunity to defend himself before any action is taken if he is found guilty of amassing RM1.2 million from a series of talking engagements, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said Tuesday.

"We will follow the normal government procedures and see if there is a breach of contract or certain provisions. We have to allow him to defend himself (first)," he said when asked what the government would do if he was found guilty. Dr Sheikh Muszaphar is currently in Mecca for the haj.

"We are waiting for him to come back. There are a few things he has to explain," Ongkili told reporters after opening the Confederation of Scientific and Technological Associations' conference.

He said that if Dr Sheikh Muszaphar were found guilty, the government would "guide" him and allow him to decide if he wanted to "stick" to the space programme or go back to his medical practice or further studies.

On astronaut Mejar Dr Faiz Khalid, Ongkili said he was doing his Masters in the United Kingdom under the National Science Scholarship.

He said Dr Faiz would continue his physical training so that he would be prepared when Malaysia decided to embark on the second space programme. (Bernama)

"The government would 'guide' him." What the devil does that mean? So if he's found to have received appearance fees he might have to leave the space programme? Some would say that he deserves the fees while others may opine that he should make appearances for free. In all fairness, a judicious balance between both these opinions (as the angkasawan is in fact said to be following) should be a win-win situation. There's nothing wrong in him being rewarded for his fame if done moderately.
Image - Source


Monday, December 15, 2008

Third World Mentality Often Produces Third World Results

Does Malaysia still want to lay claim to having first world infrastructure despite being stuck in third world mentality, particularly after the tragedy that struck Bukit Antarabangsa two Saturdays ago?

Or isn’t it about time that the country woke up to reality and constantly challenged and raised standards in all aspects — social, economic and political?

For that to happen, the country badly needs proper political leadership.

Recall when former Works Minister Datuk S Samy Vellu got an avalanche of brickbats after he proclaimed the landslide near Genting Highlands in 1995, which claimed 21 lives, to be “an act of God”.

The Almighty’s name has not been invoked in the aftermath of the latest disaster, but at least one politician — Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Ong Ka Chuan — has proclaimed no early evidence of any human negligence.

Were adequate standards exacted out of developers as well as the local and central authorities to absolve humans of any blame?

If regulations are found wanting, standards should be made as tight as humanly possible to ensure that hillside development projects are safe, and in the event of breaches, the heftiest of penalties be imposed.

The authorities and engineers do not have to reinvent the wheel, but could learn from other jurisdictions that have proven to have successfully tackled hillside developments.

Safety must be guaranteed according to the strictest of standards at whatever cost, not only for those living on the hillslopes but also those at the foothill and surrounding areas.

There is no reason to deprive the well-to-do and not risk-averse the privilege of building their homes on hillslopes. Attacking the rich for their choices is uncouth. Making it as stringent and as costly as possible, more green lungs and catchment areas may even be saved from humanity’s destructive nature. The benefits of these will outweigh any opportunity cost.

Incidentally, the disaster claimed four fatalities comprising the country’s three major races, while a Sri Lankan maid is missing. That is no coincidence.

Politicians need to face up to the reality that the country is a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, where people share the same resources and the same plight.

The Gift Of Death (GOD) is colour and creed blind. Given the racial tension in recent times, the bar too needs to be raised in the country’s social agenda.

Political parties must make it the national agenda to purge racism and make anti-racism a conscious effort for everyone, as part of the protection of human rights.

How the economic agenda, specifically the National Development Policy that stipulates affirmative actions, even for well-to-do politicians, fit into this social agenda has to be meticulously worked out and proper standards applied.

Speaking of standards, most quarters have welcomed the tabling of the bills to form the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Yet, lastly but the most important is the need to bring back the Rule of Law to the country’s political structure, particularly the restoration of the principle of separation of powers. Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has said it. Former UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Param Cumaraswamy has said it.

Regardless of whatever legislation, however welcome, no meaningful independence of the judiciary can be achieved unless the original Article 121 (1) of the Federal Constitution is restored.

As it is now, the judiciary is subservient to parliament and the executive branch.That forms the basis of many aspects of people’s lives.

Many positives can be had from exuding self-confidence and beating the chest, but when reality is not what it is made out to be, it is time for further self-examination.

Third world mentality will more often than not produce third world results. Will the country rise to the challenge in raising standards, or will our social structure and existing policies continue to be stumbling blocks?

The country badly needs political leadership that will do not only the right thing, but also think out of the box in doing so.
***** If we truly want leaders who think out of the box, then the current group at the helm of Umno is absolutely the wrong lot. They are still employing four-decade-old strategy of dividing the people and ruling by exploiting fear and prejudice while actively flaming racial distrust and tension. For only in such circumstances can these opportunists thrive.

It'll take a completely different mold of politician who can rise above the mediocrity which has seized us in a deadly stranglehold, to lead us out of the quagmire. An Obama-like figure emerging onto our political landcape now would be extremely useful. But alas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Original Star Wars Light Sabre Sold For $240,000. How Much Would Hishamuddin's Umno Keris Be Worth?

The light sabre used by Luke Skywalker in the movies 'Star Wars' and 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back' has sold for $240,000 at a Hollywood auction.

The item topped the bidding at a Profiles in History auction held Thursday, according to a press release Friday. In total bidders paid around $3.5 million for more than 500 items of Hollywood memorabilia.

The second most expensive item in the auction was a droid helmet from 'Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi' which sold for $120,000.

Other major items included an original handwritten manuscript of the James Bond film 'You Only Live Twice', and a full-sized animatronic primate from the movie 'Mighty Joe Young', both of which sold for $96,000 each.

A Wolverine black leather battle-suit from 'X-Men' sold for $90,000 and a custom-built version of a 1937 Mercedes German staff car from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' went for $76,000.

The costume worn by Marlon Brando when he played Jor-El in 'Superman: The Movie' went for $72,000.

Light sabres were the weapon of choice for Jedi knights of Star Wars fame. They were constructed for the movies by adapting an advanced camera flash attachment to a handle that was made from rubber windscreen wipers from a British WW II tank, according to the Star Wars website.

So how much would Hish's notorious 'ketuanan keris' fetch in a lelong? Any guesses?

Image - Sabre
Image - Keris


Saturday, December 13, 2008

"I Have Great Faith In BN," Says Pak Lah. Do You Believe This Hype?

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said today the spirit of consensus among Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties has contributed towards making the coalition strong.

He also called on component members to take stock of events in the past which had weakened the BN, and work towards strengthening the coalition.

"If we can learn from this experience, God willing, we will do better in the future. I have great faith in BN," he said when opening the 21st delegates' conference of the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) at the party's headquarters here.

Abdullah, who is BN chairman, said BN was a strong coalition as it had the combined strength of all component members which were united in fulfilling common manifesto and contesting under one banner during elections.

"BN is strong because of the spirit of consensus and because we practise democracy, power-sharing and tolerance and we refrain from raising sensitive issues which can lead to problems among us.

"We must emphasis more on what is common to us and avoid the differences that can cause trouble," he said. (Bernama)

***** It's surprising that even after the smaller BN component parties have publicly lamented about Umno's arrogance and lack of respect for them, the PM can still openly tout the 'spirit of consensus'! Has he so quickly forgotten that the Umno leadership was only a few months ago experiencing 'testicular shivers' over the rumoured mass defections to PKR?

The truth of the matter is that the BN is a one-party Umno show while the rest of the other parties are in it only for the personal gain of their leaders. The rest of us meanwhile, get shafted as usual and are unable to express the strong faith that Pak Lah has in the Barisan Nasional.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

No Leave To Challenge Commission's Findings On Lingam Clip

The five individuals implicated in the controversial "Lingam video clip" failed in their bid to obtain leave from the High Court here to challenge the Royal Commission of Inquiry's findings.

Justice Datuk Abdul Kadir Musa accepted the preliminary objection raised by senior federal counsel Azizah Nawawi, for the commission, that the findings were not reviewable because they were not a decision in the context of Order 53 Rule 2(4) of the Rules of the High Court.

The five-member panel of commissioners, in their report, had found the video clip showing senior lawyer Datuk V.K.Lingam in a telephone conversation with former chief justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim over judicial appointment to be authentic.

The commission also recommended that appropriate course of action be taken against six individuals -- Lingam, tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and two former chief justices Ahmad Fairuz and Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin -- for misconduct.

It found that there was sufficient evidence to investigate the six men for offences under the Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act, the Penal Code and the Legal Profession Act 1976.

Except for Dr Mahathir, the other five filed for leave for a judicial review in an attempt to quash the inquiry's finding.

The commissioners -- chairman Tan Sri Haidar Mohd Noor, former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Amar Steve Shim Lip Kiong, retired Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mahadev Shankar, former solicitor-general Puan Sri Zaitun Zawiyah Puteh and Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim -- sat for 17 days to inquire into the 14-minute video clip. (Bernama)

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ministry To 'Carefully' Study Historical Facts For Textbooks To 'Instill Patriotism'

The Education Ministry will carefully study the facts and information to be entered into history textbooks to instill patriotism among the young generation.

Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the step was among the ministry's efforts to change the education curriculum at the primary school level by having history as a special subject by 2010.

"What is important is noble values like patriotism, loving the country, comprehending the sacrifice of national heroes and understanding that the present state of the country did not come about just by being still but through blood and sweat.

"We must not be satisfied by our present position what with a world that is now smaller. Such efforts must be continued and intensified through how we stress our history to our children while they are still in school," Hishammuddin told reporters .

Earlier, in his speech, said Hishammuddin said the book could be a reference for students and also parliamentarians to further understand the processes and events that shaped Malaysian history.

He said the book could also bring about greater appreciation of independence leading to love, loyalty and patriotism in defending the country's sovereignty.

Meanwhile, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, his speech reminded people not to forget the country's history while the country progressed.

"To learn the future, look at the past. I believe in that English phrase," he said. (The Star)

Oh dear! I've a strange feeling that this so-called effort to
'carefully' study the facts and bring 'changes' to the education curriculum will be the harbinger of more distortions and untruths to further cement the place of Umno in our 'unique' interpretation of history, while adding the present crop of our 'pemimpin' to the list of our nation's warriors who have 'sacrificed' everything in the 'struggle' for Merdeka and the nation's subsequent progress. When the word 'patriotism' is carelessly thrown around, one may lose sight of the fact that Umno's definition of patriotism usually refers to our unreserved loyalty to the party and its 'yeoman' service to the nation.

As with previous attempts to tinker with our history, the current effort too will involve the selection of a group of ultra-nationalist wingnuts who will give a highly slanted version which will further trivialize the contribution of the non-Malays while downplaying the substantial influence of China and India on the tradition, culture, language and heritage of the Malays. (Perhaps the bit about Proto Malays and their origins from Yunnan Province could be quietly edited out?) You can also expect the highlighting of unsubstantiated and unproved 'age old' connections with the Middle East. I wouldn't be surprised if there are claims of general ancestral blood ties which may just stop short of calling ourselves Arabs.

Perhaps I'm being overly cynical, but given our past attempts in rewriting history to fit Umno's grand designs, can you blame me?
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Proton To Be On Par With World's Top Carmakers

Though still a long way to go for Proton Holdings Bhd to be considered a successful carmaker in the world, it is albeit on the right track to be on par with the world's top car manufacturers.

The national carmaker has proven its sceptics wrong by doing what it should do best, and that is the business of making and selling cars.

Launching of the highly-popular Proton Persona and the new Saga models has changed the company's dwindling fortunes.

The company is now present in 24 countries including in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

Analysts feel the company can double its overseas shipments to 40,000 units next year, aided by new models such as Persona, Saga and its latest edition, new multi-purpose vehicle, due for launch by March next year.

Currently, the company exports 2,000 units a month, working out to 24,000 units a year.

The crucial "ingredient" for its current success has been "offering the right car at the right time and at the right price." Credit should be given to managing director Syed Zainal Abidin Mohamed Tahir, who since taking over the helm in 2006, has been working tirelessly to push forward such a strategy that has thrust Proton on the right track to regain its share in the local and foreign automotive markets.

***** A very optimistic analysis indeed, isn't it?

Read the whole report HERE.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bukit Antarabangsa Residents Slam Shabery Cheek's Insensitive Attempt To Spread The Blame

Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek should be more sensitive towards the feelings of the residents who have suffered so much as result of the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy last Saturday.

Residents action committee chairman Datuk N. Muneandy said his statement Tuesday was uncalled for in light of the recent tragedy and only served to add fuel to the frustration and dismay already felt by the victims.

Ahmad Shabery reportedly told residents not to point fingers solely at the Government as both developers and housebuyers who chose to live in highland areas were equally to be blamed and should accept responsibility for what happened.

“Are you saying we should blame the mother for giving birth to the thief?” he told reporters Wednesday, adding that residents had invested millions of ringgit to purchase homes there.

Muneandy said there had been many signals over the years to indicate that the soil structure was unstable but complaints to the local authorities had fallen on deaf ears.

He said the complaints for the past five to 10 years have touched on various issues including cracks in drains and falling rubble and trees at the current landslide site.

“We want the authorities to do something to safeguard the future safety of residents there. The buck must stop here,” he said.

Muneandy said the committee would be bringing in their own geo-technical and legal experts to look into the soil structure at the landslide area which killed four people and resulted in nearly 3,000 being temporarily evacuated from their homes.

“We will collect evidence on what exactly happened and who is responsible. Then, we will consider whether to sue those responsible,” he said.

The committee, which represents the residents of four streets in Taman Wangsa, Wangsa Heights and Antanium, also told the Government to provide more information to the residents’ committee, claiming they were being kept in the dark over plans to alleviate problems caused by the landslide.

“We have not been told about what is happening. We are left wondering what to expect next,” he said.

Read the whole story HERE

***** Did we really expect any thing different from a government minister? If Shabery had his way he'll totally absolve the kerajaan and place the blame solely on the residents and the developers. MBs, Exco members and Majlis officials will be exonerated and described as completely honest and dedicated public servants. Malaysia Boleh!!

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

No More Permits For Hillside Projects Says Najib. How Many Times Have We Heard This Same Bullshit?

The Government will not be issuing any more permits for hillside developments following the landslide tragedy at Bukit Antarabangsa early Saturday morning.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said this on Saturday at a press conference after visiting the tragedy site.

He also told developers not to lobby or pressure the Government for any building permits for hillside development projects.

He said preventive measures must be taken to avoid hillside tragedies.

At about 4am Saturday, a landslide occurred at Taman Bukit Mewah in Bukit Antarabangsa that buried at least 14 houses.

***** As a people, Malaysians must be sick and tired of the government's assurances every time such a tragedy occurs. After a short period of mourning it is back to business as usual - The MBs keep enriching themselves by influencing the doling out of permits and the local authority bigwigs keep filling their private coffers by allowing development wherever the developer wants, as long as they pay the considerable bribes. One feels such a sense of helplessness amidst all the corruption and unwillingness of the government to at least do something about it. Terrible.

Among the many earlier posts:
1) DBKL - Another Greedy Bungler.
Bungalow Development At Bukit Gasing - Can We Believe DBKL?

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Speech By Bill Clinton On Behalf Of Malaysian Entrepreneur Vinod Sekhar Irks Investors

Former President Bill Clinton visited Malaysia on Friday to deliver his first paid speech since his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, was selected Monday by President-elect Barack Obama to be secretary of state.

Mr. Clinton spoke before nearly 3,000 people in Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of Vinod Sekhar, a Malaysian businessman whose foundation paid Mr. Clinton $200,000, according to several people with knowledge of the fee. The figure is on the lower end of the scale that Mr. Clinton usually commands for his speeches.

“You should be proud of this man,” Mr. Clinton told the audience, pointing at Mr. Sekhar, the 40-year-old chief executive of the Petra Group, a privately held rubber technology company.

But several angry investors in Britain and Malaysia say they disagree with the former president’s glowing assessment of Mr. Sekhar, whose company has suffered a rough few weeks.

“I believe he is using Bill Clinton — this is what he does,” said Abdul Azim Zabidi, a former board member of Petra Group who claims Mr. Sekhar broke numerous promises to him and still owes him $100,000. “He just wants to get new investors.”

Another investor, the actor Bruce Willis, recently settled a lawsuit with Petra over the return of $900,000. The company called it a “misunderstanding.”

And this week, after a 10-year partnership, a member of the Malaysian royal family quit as Petra chairman, saying he was tired of the many “surprises” during his affiliation with the company.

Enough is enough,” the former chairman said.

Mr. Sekhar declined to comment. A spokesman for the Petra Group, Andrew Murray-Watson, said that Mr. Zabidi’s assertion that he was still owed money was “utter rubbish,” and that the Clinton event was held as a memorial for Mr. Sekhar’s late father, a scientist who invented an environmentally sound way to recycle tires.

“The idea that Vinod organized this event purely for public relations purposes is frankly ludicrous, and insulting to the memory of his father,” Mr. Murray-Watson said.

Officials with the Obama transition team said they did not vet Mr. Sekhar’s background before Mr. Clinton’s speech. The speech was one of the last Mr. Clinton will deliver without being reviewed by a State Department ethics panel, a requirement he has agreed to follow if Mrs. Clinton is confirmed by the Senate as secretary of state. Mr. Clinton also agreed to have his fees from business dealings and foreign speeches reviewed by the White House counsel’s office, if necessary.

Read the whole report HERE


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pak Lah Wants 'To Do The Right Things' Before Leaving Office

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on Thursday he wants to do the right things despite any challenges before leaving office after five years rendering his services to the nation.

"I don't know if it's about leaving a legacy or just doing the right thing while you have a chance to do so. This is what I am doing," he said in an interview with The Sun newspaper.

Abdullah said he would let the people be the judge.

"If the people say what Pak Lah (Abdullah) is doing is good, well and good," he said.

Abdullah said when he decided on the development of soft infrastructure - the heart, the human being - a long time friend had told him to chose something tangible.

However, he said he was unfazed by this as he believed that 2020 could not be achieved without quality and dynamic human capital.

"I hope everyone as human beings just remember to do what is right, no matter how difficult it may seem," he said.

On freedom of speech, Abdullah said he had given the space but wanted it to come with responsibility.

"If you want to exercise your right to speak, yes, go ahead but you must be mindful of your responsibilities. You claim the right to speak, you must also listen to others," he added. (Bernama)

Ironic isn't it? Pak Lah achieved diddly-squat for the five years he'd been in power and now just when he's being shown the door by his own party he wants to 'do the right things'! Pitiful bugger. Indecisive till the end.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thai Court Dissolves Ruling Party, Bans PM From Politics For 5 Years

Thai judges ordered Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat's ruling People Power Party (PPP) disbanded on Tuesday after it was found guilty of vote fraud.

The Constitutional Court also barred the party's top leaders, including Somchai, from politics for five years, raising the risk of clashes between his supporters and anti-government protesters who are blockading the capital's two airports.

The yellow-shirted People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrators at the airports have been seeking to topple Somchai, whom they accuse of being a pawn for his brother-in-law, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup and is now in exile.

A grenade was fired from a flyover near the domestic airport hours before the court hearing, killing one anti-government protester and wounding 22 people.

The electoral fraud case was scheduled to be heard at the Constitutional Courthouse in Bangkok on Tuesday, but authorities moved it after hundreds of red-shirted government supporters surrounded the building.

The ruling on allegations of vote fraud in the December 2007 election will not necessarily mean a snap election as many PPP MPs will simply switch to a new "shell" party already set up.

Fears of violent clashes, or worse, are growing.

"It now seems that violence cannot be avoided. Some even predict what has been unthinkable for 700 years: a civil war," the Bangkok Post said in an editorial.

It also asked: "Does Thailand have a functioning government?"

That question could be even more pertinent after the court ruling forcing the PPP to disband.

Several thousand PAD supporters have occupied the prime minister's offices since August but the PAD has said it would hand the compound back to the authorities on Tuesday.

A Reuters reporter said only a handful of PAD activists remained at Government House early on Tuesday. There were no police present, but cranes had arrived to remove the shells of six buses used to barricade surrounding roads.

The PAD leadership apparently intends to move more supporters to the international airport, which has been blockaded for a week, adding to the pain of a tourist- and export-dependent economy already suffering from the global financial crisis.

Thousands of foreign tourists have been stranded and the air cargo industry has ground to a halt.

Finance Minister Suchart Thada-Thamrongvech told Reuters on Monday the economy might be flat next year, or grow by just 1-2 percent, after earlier growth forecasts of between 4-5 percent.

The chaos has worried Thailand's neighbors, due to meet in the country in two weeks for a regional summit. The Thai cabinet is expected to approve a delay to March when it meets in Chiang Mai on Tuesday. (Reuters)

***** Any chance of our own supreme court doing the same thing to Umno?

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Monday, December 01, 2008

MAS CEO Idris Jala Named Orient Aviation Person 2008

Datuk Seri Idris Jala, managing director and chief executive officer of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), has been named Orient Aviation Person 2008 for being the driving force behind the national carrier’s amazing comeback.

While many wrote off the airline when it made its biggest losses ever of RM1.3 billion in nine months in 2005, Idris joined the airline and turned MAS’ record losses into record profits and rebuilt confidence and morale among its 20,000 employees, all within two years.

“MAS recorded RM851 million in the financial year 2007, its highest profit in 60 years of operations, and is only one of the six airlines in the world recognised as a “5-star airline” by Skytrax, United Kingdom, an accolade it has won for three consecutive years from 2006 to 2008,” said MAS in a statement.

Idris said he was pleased and honoured to accept the award as he and his team worked hard to turnaround MAS. Now, they are embarking on a business transformation journey in pursuit of their vision to become the World’s Five Star Value carrier. Idris said he is blessed with a great team of people who are passionate about the airline.

Orient Aviation chief executive Barry Grindrod said Idris acted speedily and decisively. In the last three years, he has slashed US$500 million costs at MAS.

Idris is on target for additional cuts of US$280 million in operational costs this year. Significantly, he has also restored morale in the carrier which was rock bottom when he joined the airline, Grindrod said.

He has quickly become one of the most highly respected chief executive officers in the industry worldwide, he said.

Previous winners of the award, which was established in 1999, include Chew Choong Seng from Singapore Airlines; Geoff Dixon, Qantas Airways; Jaime Bautista, Philippine Airlines; Kanok Abhiradee, Thai Airways International and David Turnbull, Cathay Pacific Airways. (Bernama)

***** Our congratulations to
Datuk Seri Idris Jala. It is hoped that the government has learnt valuable lessons from the earlier debacle and will in future not treat the airlines as the personal property of Umno.
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