Archive for August, 2011

Money, money, money

— The Malaysian Insider
Aug 24, 2011

AUG 24 — When all else fails; when policies flounder; when rumbling from within grows louder; when the reform agenda stutters in the face of resistance from interest groups, throw money around in the hope of hushing up the protestations.

This strategy was used by Tun Abdullah Badawi after his fitness to lead Malaysia was questioned by Tun Dr Mahathir Muhammad and after his early promise of reforming the country dissipated into flip-flops, missteps and pandering to his party’s demands.

He increased the salary of civil servants and even put cash in the pocket of Malaysians through a one-off RM600 payment.

Underlying this move was the view that even though the ground had soured on him considerably by 2007, putting money into the hands of Malaysians would make them put their bitterness aside and vote him in again.

We know how that strategy played out. Read the rest of this entry »


Najib must guarantee reforms before polls, says Pakatan

By Shannon Teoh
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 24, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — The federal opposition has demanded a guarantee from Datuk Seri Najib Razak that the Election Commission (EC) will carry out electoral reforms before a general election is called.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) said today that the prime minister’s insistence that the timing of polls was not bound to a parliamentary select committee on electoral improvements raised doubts over whether “he means business.”

However, with just six weeks to go before the polls panel is to be formed by Dewan Rakyat, the opposition pact said it has not decided if a failure to offer such an assurance will see PR decline to join what Barisan Nasional (BN) hopes will be a bipartisan committee.

“There is no decision to boycott but we have made it abundantly clear that the onus is on the government to show good faith.

“The EC must take immediate action and there must be an assurance from the prime minister that he means business … that elections will only be held after the EC has taken measures recommended by the select committee,” Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told reporters after a PR leadership meeting. Read the rest of this entry »


BN pushing the panic button

— Douglas Tan
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 24, 2011

AUG 24 — What a flurry in government giving we are seeing these days!

Bonuses, dividends, loans, grants and scholarships and now doled out like candy by Umno, MCA and the like to the masses and their constituents. Acting more like NGOs or charities, the Barisan Nasional component parties have engaged on a charm offensive by handing out our money back to us, and trying to discredit the Opposition.

It really got going when our Prime Minister announced that the government half month Hari Raya bonuses for all civil servants, which would cost in excess of RM1 billion to taxpayers, despite reduced subsidies and mounting budget deficits. Read the rest of this entry »


GE-13: BN wins landslide victory

Mariam Mokhtar | Aug 22, 11

Only an optimist would believe that their vote would sweep Umno from power in GE-13. Why bother with a sham election and waste resources going through the motions of an election, where the outcome has already been decided in advance? The headlines will proudly boast: “BN wins. Najib scores a landslide victory, in a massive 103 percent turnout”.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak wants GE-13 before electoral reforms. In a functioning democracy, the rakyat has a choice. The fundamental difference is that we are denied that choice.

We distrust our electoral processes despite Najib’s assurance about the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reforms. Will Umno/BN leave office gracefully?

At the 61st Umno general assembly Najib declared: “Even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost, brothers and sisters, whatever happens, we must defend Putrajaya”. Read the rest of this entry »


BN govt should state what are the 8 demands of Bersih 2.0 which could be implemented before Parliament meets on Oct 3

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz pressed most of the right buttons about public demands about electoral reforms when he announced without naming Bersih 2.0 that the parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms will base its framework on Bersih 2.0’s eight-point demands, viz:

1. Cleaning up the electoral roll

2. Reforming postal or advance voting

3. Use of indelible ink versus the EC’s proposal of a biometric system

4. Extending the campaign period to 21 days

5. Free and fair access to media

6. Strengthening the credibility of the EC

7. Ending vote-buying

8. Ending dirty politics

But on the most vital issue of a firm and unequivocal government commitment that the electoral reforms will be implemented before Parliament is dissolved to make way for the 13th general election, Nazri could offer no assurance except to say lamely: “That is not my problem…I don’t know when the election will be held.” Read the rest of this entry »


Anwar’s unsworn statement an indictment of Malaysia’s political, justice systems

by Ramli Zain
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 22, 2011

AUG 22 — By making an unsworn statement from the dock today in his sodomy trial, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has now put the whole country, its judiciary, the media and our entire justice system on trial.

More than that, he has given notice to politicians like Datuk Seri Najib Razak and other players in his prosecution that he intends to place them on trial as well.

Whether one agrees with this move or not, the message is clear.

Sodomy II is no longer about whether he is guilty of sodomising his aide — if it ever was in the first place — but will now be an attack against the political and justice system which he claims has conspired to put him in this position. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Racism and fanaticism’ exploited in Malaysia for politics, Asri tells WSJ

By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 23, 2011

Asri: Islam must be described as a religion of love for others, with a respect for rights, respect for knowledge, rejecting superstition and basing all practices on real arguments.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — Muslim scholar Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin took a swipe at Malaysia’s religious authorities in a recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) interview, claiming that “racism and extreme religious fanaticism” are often used to protect certain political interests.

The former Perlis Mufti, who was recently placed on a terror watch list for Wahhabism, told the influential newspaper that the authorities here needed to be more open-minded, adding that the term “Wahhabi” was recklessly used in Malaysia as a derogatory term to slander others.

“Religious authorities in Malaysia should be more open-minded. Their attitude is to force others to think in only one way, and that is not the attitude of a civilised people,” he said, according to an excerpt of the interview found on WSJ’s website yesterday.

He lamented that Malaysia’s more progressive Muslims were “marginalised” by the conservatives who controlled the religious institutions in government, and accused the administration of fearing criticism from the former group. Read the rest of this entry »


MCA Chua Soi Lek, Gerakan Koh Tsu Koon caught in a time warp?

by Richard Loh

Respectable and honorable leaders during the 20th century but what have become of them in the 21st century?

Are MCA Chua Soi Lek and Gerakan Koh Tsu Koon caught in a time warp? Both of them have to be reminded that we are living in the 21st century and the present political scenes and what the rakyat wanted are different from what they used to be. From their talks and political speeches one can see that they are truly out of touch with reality.

Since I am from Penang I will write and use examples from this state. Read the rest of this entry »


Resisting Any Witch Hunt Aimed at Blaming the Illegals

Commentary by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

The statement by the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein that the presence of more illegal workers compared to the legal ones is a cause of concern and could undermine national unity reveals either an ignoramus or an idiot. Did he expect many less illegals given the super-efficiency of his Ministry and the other government agencies sharing responsibility on this vital matter of securing our borders against unauthorized intrusion and stay in the country?
According to the current ongoing exercise, as of Friday, a total of 2,088,358 foreign workers had been registered, of whom 1,135,499 were illegals. Probably everyone else in the country knows that this number is an under-estimate and that a very large number are still waiting processing or are avoiding being included in the count altogether.

Since his appointment in 2009 as the Minister in charge of this portfolio, Hishammuddin has been lurching from one self inflicted debacle to another. From bending over backwards to defend the indefensible conduct of demonstrators in the infamous cow head incident to his most recent use of repressive force against the Bersih rally, he has shown a standard of leadership of this important Ministry which must be plumbing new lows or matching those lows attained by Dr. Mahathir.
Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia in the Era of Globalization #79

By M. Bakri Musa

Chapter 9: Islam in Malay Life

Reform in Islam

Islamic Economics
Dealing With the Concept of Interest

As alluded to earlier, the biggest stumbling block to Islamic economics is the concept of interest. Stripped of its complexities, the issue can be simply reduced thus. When B borrows money ($X) from A, there is a cost involved. Regardless of the terminology, someone has to bear that cost. If at the end of the year B returns to A the same amount of money he borrowed the year earlier, that is $X, he claims to have satisfied the Koranic admonition that he repays his loan at its original amount, nothing more and nothing less. But has B done that?
Read the rest of this entry »

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Anwar: “I categorically deny the charge against me.”






My name is Anwar bin Ibrahim. I am the leader of the Opposition in Parliament. In the 1990s, I was the Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister until September 1998 when then Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad sacked me after I had refused to resign. He had told me to resign or face dire consequences including criminal prosecution for alleged sexual and corruption offences. I refused and all hell broke loose. My unceremonious and grossly unjust dismissal simultaneously orchestrated with a trial by media under Mahathir’s complete control triggered mass and widespread demonstrations throughout the country and launched the movement for change and reform known in our history as the Reformasi era.

After a series of show trials during which every rule in the book on evidence and criminal procedure was violated with impunity at the hands of the prosecution and the courts, I was convicted and sentenced to a total of 15 years.


First and foremost, I categorically deny the charge against me. I want to state in no uncertain terms that I have never had any sexual relations with the complainant Mohamed Saiful. His allegation is a blatant and vicious lie and will be proved to be so. Read the rest of this entry »


Guan Eng: Insinuations I want to be PM are false

by Susan Loone
Aug 21, 2011

MCA has been accused of conspiring with Umno-owned Malay language daily, Utusan Malaysia, to insinuate that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng wants to be prime minister.

Lim told the party’s president Dr Chua Soi Lek to refrain from ‘lying’ as he had neither the ambition nor the qualifications to be PM.

He asked Chua to stop following in the footsteps of Utusan Malaysia by inciting racial sentiments to attack him, the DAP or Pakatan Rakyat.
Read the rest of this entry »


Dr M and sovereignty

— Ronald Benjamin
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 20, 2011

AUG 20 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s speech that the Malay community has been split into three groups and that this could create a scenario for foreign intervention is another type of opinion that does not understand the nature of politics and what makes a nation vulnerable to foreign intervention.

This type of view has been used by authoritarian leaders around the world on the pretext of safeguarding national sovereignty but who contradict themselves by building political barriers for their own people with laws and economic systems that infringe on human dignity.

This in turn gives opportunities to foreign powers to manipulate shortcomings in these nations with larger agendas in mind.

The question is how could a nation call itself sovereign when it denies its own people the right to express themselves? Read the rest of this entry »


Will the real PM please stand up?

— Jose Rizal
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 20, 2011

AUG 20 — I have to say this about Malaysians: We are very patient and tolerant and forgiving.

But I do believe that even our legendary patience is at breaking point with Datuk Seri Najib Razak, one time prime minister of all Malaysians but now prime minister of who threatens most.

I give up because I cannot figure what he stands for anymore. One week he talks about economic reforms and opening up the country, and the next week he returns to the safe embrace of the New Economic Policy; and yet one week later, he goes silent when right wing elements assail his policies.

I have been reading The Malaysian Insider and there seems to be some the suggestion that hardliners like Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin are pushing Najib towards more right wing, Malay-first policies. I am sorry but this is absolute rubbish. Read the rest of this entry »


End the charade, revoke the ban on Bersih 2.0 and drop all charges against the 1,600 Bersih demonstrators and others related to wearing Bersih T-shirts or yellow

On the occasion of the sixth yellow Saturday, I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to end the Barisan Nasional government charade for the past two months, revoke the ban on Bersih 2.0 and drop all charges against the 1,600 Malaysians arrested for taking part in the peaceful Bersih 2.0 rally for free and fair elections on July 9 and all others related to Bersih 2.0 rally, including those for wearing Bersih T-shirts or just wearing yellow.

Let the Prime Minister and all Barisan Nasional Ministers come out openly to admit that they had gravely mishandled the Bersih 2.0 rally for free and fair elections, which are the most pertinent, legitimate and democratic aspirations of right-thinking Malaysians so that the Malaysian electoral process can win the support, confidence and legitimacy of Malaysian voters.

It is no answer to the Bersih 2.0 rally for the Barisan Nasional Ministers and the Election Commission to counter that if the electoral system is as flawed as alleged by Bersih 2.0, Pakatan Rakyat and the civil society, then Pakatan Rakyat would not have won in five states or denied the Barisan Nasional two-thirds parliamentary majority in the 2008 general elections. Read the rest of this entry »


Will the PSC on electoral reforms be stillborn with another Najib flip flop

In just four days, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has done a full flip-flop, reneging on his implicit undertaking on Monday night that the next general elections would not be held until the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms has reached a national consensus on electoral reforms.

Let me quote from Bernama on Najib’s announcement on Monday night:

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced Monday, Aug 15 the setting up of a parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms to put to rest any suspicion that there is manipulation by the government in the country’s electoral process. Read the rest of this entry »


As talents fly home, Penang’s fortunes rise

By Debra Chong
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 20, 2011

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 20 — Six months ago Dr William Khor quit his London flat in affluent Kensington to fly home to Penang with little more than a rough plan to build a boutique health resort by the sea.

The former student of St Xavier’s Institution had jetted to the UK near a decade ago in pursuit of a medical degree and initially planned to head home immediately after graduating in 2007.

“The prospects then were not good,” the 28-year-old said, explaining the change in his plan.

He decided to stay on another year and complete his housemanship there to qualify as a doctor while reconsidering his options. Read the rest of this entry »


Loyalty to King and Country II

by drrafick
August 19, 2011

1. Words can’t describe the anger and pain that I felt with the MAF Chief over his political partisanship comments that disgraced the serving and retired members of the Malaysian Armed Forces. It is unbecoming for a General to call retirees a traitor to the service when he does not have the facts on hand. Anyone who can tell the truth and stand by what they said deserves much more respect than this General whose chest wall is pasted with tin medals. Half of them are probably earned while sitting at a desk and pushing papers.

2. We expect our generals to lead and provide leadership to the man in uniformed. We expect him to defend the integrity of the nation and not defending any political party. Loyalty to the government of the day has its limits. It does not include having a blind loyalty to the political party. In our country the civil service is lame and dictated by politicians, the police are crippled and now the MAF leadership has defamed itself. He send a strong message to the public that confirms that the brass are spineless and their past career growth has been dependent on politicians. They continue to look at politicians for their post retirement career.

3. Aren’t there any officers with strong character and conviction to serve the King and the country today? Has the phrase loyalty to the King and country has been change to blind loyalty to BN? It worries me as the 2nd and 3rd layer of our civil service, police and military has been groomed to be politically loyal to BN first and country second. Read the rest of this entry »


Is the world facing fundamental changes?

Viewpoint by Chris Williamson
Chief economist at global financial information firm Markit
BBC News Business
18 August 2011

Recent events, including stock market falls, the escalating sovereign debt crises, US credit rating downgrade and a near-stalling of growth in the developed world is leading increasing numbers of experts to wonder if the world is facing some fundamental changes.

In reality, many of the ideas reflect trends that have been under way for many years, but the crisis had accelerated the process of change.

Four years after the financial crisis began and the world has certainly not returned to normal.

No major developed economy has yet fully regained the output lost during the recession and global share prices remain almost a third lower than their peak prior to the crisis.

Financial stocks have lost two-thirds of their value. Government debt has spiralled due to the bank bailouts, although it has become apparent that not all governments can finance this debt.

If stage one of the crisis involved the transfer of liabilities from the financial sector to governments via bank bailouts, stage two is witnessing transfers from weaker governments to stronger governments, as the latter seek to prevent the former from defaulting and causing more financial turmoil. Read the rest of this entry »


Review of media censorship a major step forward

CC Liew
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 19, 2011

AUG 19 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently announced that the government would review its media censorship policy. This move undeniably constitutes a major step forward for the country and would effectively remove the shackles some civil servants ignorant of present day realities have imposed on the media.

Najib’s announcement also shows that he has come to recognise the on-going changes taking place in the county’s media landscape.

Even though this is no longer a novel idea, yet many of our civil servants appear to be indifferent to this important message: While you can audit the printed page of the newspaper, a reader only needs to push a few buttons to read completely unedited reports in the electronic version. While you can block a news report from appearing on the print media, there is no way you can stop bloggers writing their stuff online.

Sometimes, the censorship criteria themselves are dubious and incomprehensible. Magazines publishing bare breast pictures of aboriginal women are torn and even classics by master painters would not escape the fate of their works published in upscale magazines being blacked out. Read the rest of this entry »