Thursday, May 31, 2007

Losing my Religion


updates 1 June, 1800hrs

Pak Lah has asked the people to accept the decision on Lina Joy with an open mind and not be overcome by emotions. He said his government did not influence the court.
"That is the decision of the court; I don't question them," the PM said yesterday. Read the Bernama report here.
Our blogosphere continues to resonate with talk about the decision. Zewt has refused to blog about it here and still gets over 30 comments for the posting.
Read also:
Kata Tak Nak [It must not be legal]
Abdul Jalil Backer [Lina Joy ikon mencabar perlembagaan Malaysia]
Nuraina A. Samad [Conversations: How come you're not blogging about Lina Joy...?]
and various takes by Haris Ibrahim [here, here and here]

Lina Joy and the Deed Poll.
Until the Eighties, what you needed to do to convert to another religion was to adevertise a "Deed Poll" in the local newspapers and declare that you, Mohd So-and-So, had renounced your religion and did not wish to be known as Mohd So-and-So as your Christian name now was Mr So-and-So.
After that, you go to the NRD with the cutting of your "Deed Poll" and get your ID amended accordingly.
Then the religious authorities told newspapers that they must get Perkim's consent before publishing any "Deed Poll" advertisements. As far as the experts I spoke to were concerned, no consent was ever given.
If we could go back to the "Deed Poll" days, perhaps life for the Lina Joys - and everybody else - would have been simpler.

Read also:
A Voice (Interfaith issues .. Gimme a Break!)
Elizabeth Wong (Realpolitik behind Lina Joy decision)
Walski (Lina Joy loses her appeal) and (Joy Overload)
Big Dog (No one can embrace or leave religion as one fancies)
Marina Mahathir (Do we believe in the Quran?)
Shar101 (Lina Joy: The aftermath)


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Marilah Singapura Part 2

Grilled Najib promises no flip-flop. According to Channelnewsasia.com, some tough questions awaited Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak during his two-day visit to Singapore.
Will the Malaysian government change its economic policies midstream like it has done in the past? What is being done to tackle the high crime rate in Johor, home to the Iskandar Development Region?
According to the report Promise of no flip-flops on IDR Najib's answers did not satisfy everyone.
The DPM was on a two-day International Road Show to Singapore to promote IDR. I'm not sure who the organisers of the road show are but based on the report and on the issues raised clearly they should have done some homework, including helping the Singaporean journalists raise more relevant questions.

I mean, why bring back the Clob issue, for heaven's sake? And why touch on Johor's crime rate again? Is Singapore a crime-free country? Singaporeans don't commit crime in Johor?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Swiss against the Minaret

Minaret a symbol of aggressive Islam. The largest political party in Switzerland's parliament has begun a campaign to ban the building of minarets, saying the minaret is not necessarily a symbol of worship but a symbol of Islamic law.
"The move has shocked Switzerland's 350,000 Muslims, many of whom have been campaigning for decades for more recognition for their faith.
In theory Switzerland is a secular state, whose constitution guarantees freedom of religious expression to all. In practice however mosques in Switzerland tend to be confined to disused warehouses and factories.
Across the country, there are only two small minarets, one in Zurich and one in Geneva, neither of which are permitted to make the call to prayer. In Switzerland's capital Berne, the largest mosque is a former underground car park. "
[Read how the Swiss view Muslims here].
We think that the developed Western world is more tolerant to religious diversity. No way. But if the minaret is on the riyals and dinars - and Muslim sheikhs and oil-rich countries bank in billions of Euro and USD's worth in Swiss banks - I don't think the Swiss banks will be concerned.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Rocky vs NSTP and4 Others

Duta Courts Complex, 28 May 2007: The lawyers and I wanted to have both the striking out and the injunction to be heard before the Judge. The plaintiffs, however, insisted this morning that the striking out be heard before the Registrar. Reason? They wanted to reserve their right of appeal to the Judge, if it became necessary.
Malik Imtiaz, my lead counsel, indicated to the NSTP lawyers that if this is the case, the hearing of the injunction application before the Judge in June would have to be deferred pending the disposal of the striking out application, which is now fixed for clarification and/or decision in early August.
Parties have taken directions to put in written submissions. Meanwhile, we will write to the judge to request that the hearing of the injunction application be deferred pending disposal of the striking out application. We will write to the judge and ask for deferment of the 28 June. Early August will be next date.

Consolidation. Notwithstanding the above, 19 June 2007 remains the next big date for Jeff Ooi and I. On that day, our lawyers will argue on our behalf the merits of merging our two cases. Jeff, the Screenshots blogger, is facing a defamation suit by NSTP and 3 Others.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Marilah Singapura .. A Visit Johor Year special

Najib's task to woo Singapore to Iskandar. So, it has officially begun. The Deputy Prime Minister will go to Singapore tomorrow to start laying the red carpet for Singapore to invest in Johor's Iskandar Development Region.
I want to adopt an open mind on this but that I will need the government to be open about its schemes regarding the IDR. Mohd Najib Abdul Razak and team can have their meetings with the Singapore investors behind closed-doors to obtain their "frank feedbacks" but the rakyat must not be left out as they can provide very frank feedbacks, too.

An uphill task. Najib needs to minimize policy boo-boos and maximize public support for IDR. The 4th Floor kids and their Public Relations advisors have blundered once too often where the IDR is concerned. Remember the proposal to make it a no-passport zone for Singaporeans? And, very recently, the fiasco on the formation of the Malaysia-Singapore joint-ministerial committee? These, among other things, have made many Malaysians suspicious about the agenda behind the IDR. Najib needs to tell those kids to stop messing up the project.

If the government wants IDR to be a success, it needs to stop the 4th floor kids from shooting its foot. And it needs to carry out a better PR campaign. Not one aimed at the Singaporean investors but one for the Malaysian public. The people need to know the truth.

Read the Bernama's story on Najib's mandate in Singapore here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Malaysia's ex PM out of IJN

Dr M discharged. The doctors at the IJN allowed the former PM to go home at 3 pm today.

P. Ramlee Airport?

Veteran journo R. Nadeswaran has proposed in his widely-followed column, Citizen Nades, that the Bayan Lepas Airport in Penang be renamed P. Ramlee Airport. He had shared this idea with me during the Bum2007 night last Saturday. Why not? As Nades says, after all, P. Ramlee is one of Penang's most illustrious sons.
Orange County in California has renamed its airport after John Wayne and Liverpool now calls its airport the John Lennon Airport.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Star's blog directory

AllMalaysian Blogs Project. The government can try all it can to paint bloggers black but The Star, the largest English-language daily in the country, will cash in on this phenomenon of new media and citizen journalism.

Together with Genting Bhd, the newspaper has launched AllMalaysian Blogs Project is "to gather ALL Malaysian blogs under one umbrella site from which readers can search for various blogs."

Who is it for? Malaysian bloggers. Your blog can be about anything - as long as it's not unlawful, pornographic or in, er, bad taste - but only those with a Malaysian slant will be considered for contest prizes. There are two contest: one for bloggers and the other for those who read blogs.
Contest period from 21 May to 29 July.

Blogger the_ _earthinc, however, oubts that The Star/Genting's blog Project would be a friend of free speech. [More details here and here].

Zam on AKJ and I

Don't follow them. The Info Minister, Zainuddin Maidin, yesterday spoke out against journalists "yang dah berhenti dan diberhentikan, like Kadir and Rocky" who made use of their following when they were journalists for the benefit of their blogs.
Why he saw that as wrong beats me. Journalists do all sorts of things when they quit or are forced to quit their jobs. Some do well and some don't. In Zam's own case, he entered politics and is today a full Cabinet minister. Whether he is a good minister or a poor one has little to do with how he was as a journalist. But he's proven that it's a quick route to being conferred the Tokoh Wartawan Negara award, whether or not he deserved it.

As reported by The Star here, the minister also spoke on how very few people read socio-political blogs in this country. Only urbanites get to read my blog so unless I can reach out to the rural and kampung people, he thought I really shouldn't bother.
If that is so, why the blogosfear, then?
[Read on at Screenshots and SK Thew's blog].

New dress code for Malaysian women?

"The women's dressing nowadays can entice men to harass and do things to them."
These are the words of Shabudin Yahya (BN-Permatang Berangan). Debating the motion of thanks in the Penang state assembly yesterday, he said the way women dressed up was among factors that led to sexual harassment and violent sexual acts being committed.
Jasmin Mohamed (BN-Sungai Dua) said women's pursuit of position prompted many of them to put aside their responsibility to the family and was one of the reasons for the violent sexual acts.

For women's own good, these two men have proposed a dress code for women. The Bernama story here does not provide details on the proposed dress code, though.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Drama on Malaysian blogosphere

Drama Queen, Drama King? Blogger Shar101 wants the National Alliance of Bloggers to consider going to the Parliament. But who's the drama queen/king, man?
"Perhaps, it’s time that All-Blogs goes to Parliament. Whaddaya say, folks? And let’s do this without the ‘urgings’ from a certain ‘drama queen or king’, shall we. There’s enough c.interruptus from that corridors of power housed within the dilapidated building up the hill." [Read his latest posting Integrity Interrupted].
Much Ado about a do. Blogger YL Chong aka Desiderata, who chaired the successful Bloggers United Malaysia gathering last Saturday, is not too happy with what he sees happening in some parts of blogosphere in recent times. He's ticked off a blogger but is particularly unhappy with a commenter who accused that 85 per cent of bloggers who turned up for BUM 2007 were "(Rocky's) sidekicks and machai .. including RPK ..".
At the end of my speech that night, I cautioned all of us against threats from certain quarters out there and from within (the blogosphere). [Read Desi's piece of mind here].

The do on video. Blogger Zan Azlee of Fat Bidin captures Bum2007 on his faithful cam. Go here to watch.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Syed Ahmad Idid on Corruption


Syed Ahmad Idid, the former High Court Judge who resigned about a decade ago after alleging corruption and abuse of power in the judiciary, will speak on Addressing Corruption in Malaysia tomorrow. Admission is free.
Date: Tuesday, 22 May
Time: 4 pm
Place: Universiti Malaya (Tun Mohamed Sufian auditorium)
I did a posting on the man in June last year [Good Judge, Poor Judge] to protest the way Brenden a/l Pereira treated the good judge after the man had granted NST with an interview.

Time flies - One year later

First anniversary. My blog is 1 year old today and - borrowing from aMIR and admitting it so I don't get accused of plagiarism - "Oh, what a year it has been".
The joys, but more the troubles. The writing was on the wall from the start, I suppose. Hardly two weeks after I started blogging, the NSTP management decided to firewall my blog, thus denying the general population of its journalists and editors the right to access Rocky's Bru [For Adults Only? 5 June 2006]. And then the lawsuits [Bloggers sued in Malaysia, 18 January 2007] that brought about the desire to unite bloggers [Bloggers United: No Fear, January 13 2007]. And the formation of All-Blogs to protect bloggers and promote blogging [National Alliance of Bloggers set up, 5 April 2007].
During that one year, I have made more brothers and sisters than I have lost. Huge net gain.
Here's looking ahead for another year. Thank you all.

Thank you for the birthday postings:-
Anon From Miri
Kickdefella
Big Dog, formerly Big Guy
Ena of 3540 Jalan Sudin

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bum 2007 a success!

Bloggers, united. I met young bloggers Lim, Daphne and June. Veteran bloggers Pok Ku, Pak Idrus and Zorro were there. Soh Chee Wen, a big corporate name from the 90s. Citizen Nades. Friendly non-blogger Sonia from CIJ. All-Blogs exco. Malaysiakini. Foreign journalists and former journalists. Maverick, Mahaguru, Kugan, Stanley, Shar101, Shanghai Fish, Big Dog, A Voice. New politician Tony Pua and veteran politician Tien Chua. A former PM's daughter. A genuine Tokoh Wartawan Negara's (and ex-ISA detainee) daughter. The only blogger sacked from Umno. Asia's No 2 most progressive person. Taiko of bloggers.
Beyond the speeches, Bum 2007 brought together for the first time the main characters in Malaysian blogosphere. Syabas Desi, Howsy, Lucia, Li Tsin, Nat, Mob1900, and (the M.I.A.) Jed Yoong. A quarterly do would be lovely, in association with All-Blogs?
And Pok Ku has put up a slide-show on his site here.

RM90 m leak: Passing the buck?

PWD to explain. The DPM said yesterday the Public Works Department will be asked to explain to Cabinet this Wednesday why the Parliament's roof was not repaired when the department spent RM90 million to renovate the august House just two years ago.
"The expenditure .. should have taken into account problems like the leaking roof .. During the submission (for allocations) there was no request to repair the roof. So we are wondering how come it escaped our attention," Najib said when responding to Works Minister S. Samy Vellu.
Samy, who once even blamed God for a major catastrophe under his ministry (and got away with it), said last Thursday: "As an architect, I can tell you that the present condition is severe. We must dismantle the whole structure and build it again with the waterproofing equipment .. If the roof of the Parliament House is leaking we have no choice but to repair it because Parliament is a very important institution for the country."
Bernama has the story Najib asks PWD to explain to Cabinet on leaking Parliament roof [click here].

I am just wondering why it's the PWD and not Samy who is being asked to explain the RM90 million leak. And is no one angry and upset with him?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Malaysian bloggers come together

Embrace and Engage. A big night tonight for bloggers in the country. Aimed at bringing together socio-political bloggers, the Bloggers' United Malaysia 2007 has attracted the non-Sopo's as well as friendly non-bloggers. I will be there to speak about the National Alliance of Bloggers - what we've done so far and where we are going.

NSTP Chairman apologises

"I should have checked". The NSTP chairman, who misinformed the company's AGM last Thursday [here] about the absent Deputy Chairman's whereabouts, sent blogger-publisher A. Kadir Jasin another SMS yesterday after reading this blog.
“Dear Datuk, I saw your piece in Rocky’s Bru just now. I gave you a short reply yesterday because I thought a long story was not necessary. But since you put a question at the end about somebody in the NSTP management not giving me the correct information, I have to clarify in full. Nobody in NSTP gave me the wrong info. The mistake was mine. I should have checked on the latest first before informing the AGM.
The actual events are as follows:
On Saturday, 13th I called on Dato’ Kali to enquire after his health. He told me his Pantai Dr wanted him to rest in Pantai for a week to relieve the pain developing on his neck. He was going there soon.
When Dato’ Kali was not able to attend I assumed he was resting in Pantai, and informed the AGM accordingly.
Actually that was not the case. When I got your msg that he was not checked into Pantai, I checked with NSTP, and they gave me the correct information, which was that he had to go for physio to Pantai that morning. The mistake, therefore, is all mine and I apologise. The information was given in good faith.”

Friday, May 18, 2007

Wrong info on Kalimullah

NSTP chairman says sorry to A. Kadir Jasin. Yesterday, I quoted the NSTP chairman as saying at the AGM that the deputy chairman could not attend the annual meeting as the doctors had ordered him to rest at the Pantai Hospital after a recent back op. He was so confident with the info that when a shareholder expressed his doubts, the Chairman suggested that he verify the info. The shareholder did and discovered that the deputy chairman was NOT at the hospital. The shareholder relayed the info to the Chairman and later left a comment on my posting here.
I am taking the liberty to reproduce the Chairman's sms to the shareholder in this posting. Some of the shareholders at the AGM yesterday [and many of the directors and the MCM members) are faithful readers of this blog, so I hope this will help inform them that the Chairman had been misinformed and that Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan was not at all admitted to the hospital. In fact, the deputy chairman only had a physio appointment.
“Thanks Datuk. I am now informed he was not checked-in but he was required to do physiotherapy this morning and that was why he could not be present this morning.
“In fact the seating arrangement this morning included him and the secretary had to quickly rearrange things.
“Sorry my info was slightly wrong. You may want to verify that he had to do physio at Pantai this morning. Salam, Dato’.”
Nuraina A. Samad, a shareholder, has her take here, At the NSTP AGM 2007. Big Dog is not a shareholder but he has a question: The NSTP Chairman lied?

"Top 20 Asian Progressives"

Dr M, 2 others and a blogger! Some people don't consider Raja Petra Kamaruddin a blogger but I have had him on my blogroll all this while. MalaysiaToday, the online news portal he founded, is also on my links. And he's been named by the World Business publication as one of 20 Asia's "Progressives".
The publication has 4 Malaysians on the list. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister, who is recovering at the IJN, is one of them.
The other two Malaysians on the list of 20 are Zeti Aziz, the Bank Negara governor, and SyedMokhtar Al-Bukhari, the tycoon. Read story here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

NSTP not going private

Rumours. The NSTP's Chief Executive Officer said at the company's AGM today that there were no plans to take the company private. A shareholder had said he heard rumours to that effect. The CEO said, "I heard it too".
Screenshots had the story yesterday, quoting a note from OSK Research to its clients, not rumours. I was told Business Times had the story, too, but it didn't see print.

NSTP AGM

The Forgotten Mail and Other short stories from Balai Berita. Where financial performance is concerned, 2006 was nothing to shout about though the Chief Executive Officer* of the NSTP insisted that it was "not bad". The meeting was conducted without any untoward incident and ended before lunch.
Missing in Action.The AGM took place without the Deputy Chairman**. The Chairman informed the shareholders that the Deputy Chairman had been told to rest his neck after a recent back op in Singapore. The Group Editor-In-Chief*** was still at the Pantai Hospital's CCU after a by-pass surgery.
A. Kadir Jasin, a shareholder, observed that the Deputy Chairman was able to write "a long piece on Ijok (by-election)" despite being unwell. The Chairman responded that the doctors' order had come more recently and that the Deputy Chairman was now in Pantai Hospital resting, a fact that can easily be verified, he added.

The Malay Mail and the J Curve theory. In his power-point presentation on the group's showing last year and the encouraging 1st quarter results released yesterday, however, not a word on the Malay Mail/Weekend Mail. I asked him why. I said the Malay Mail was the Harian Metro of the Eighties for the NSTP, the group's cash cow and today it was not mentioned at all. The Malay Mail and the Weekend Mail were also very much in the news last year, although for the wrong reasons. The paper, helmed by the CEO himself, went through a revamp which cost reportedly US$1 million. Then it published the Nov 4/5 issue that got the Weekend Mail suspended for about three months. I asked:
a. What lessons were learnt from these?
b. Was there going to be greater accountability as a result of what had befallen the Mail, other than the removal of the editor of the paper then?
c. How much did the group lose as a result of the misadventure?
The CEO said the company spent only RM200,000 on the study to revamp the Malay Mail/Weekend Mail early last year. Many lessons were learnt. "We even apologised," he said. The Weekend Mail was suspended, he added. "It shouldn't have happened but it did." Another lesson learnt: he said they have been bringing back the hard news ("we discovered that the young wanted to read hard news too] to the Mail.
He spoke of the J Curve theory and how it will take years to get the Mail right.
Kadir Jasin retorted that if the Mail continued to lose money despite the revamp, the directors should consider hiving it off. Director Rahman said the group will consider selling if all else fails. "We are still committed towards turning around the paper".

Paying for the Plaintiffs
Kadir Jasin asked if the NSTP was paying for the Plaintiffs in the lawsuits against two bloggers [NSTP and 4 others vs Rocky and NSTP and 3 others vs Jeff Ooi] and a lawyer (Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan vs Matthias Chang]. He also asked how much the bills have come up to and if the company was also paying the legal bills for an ex-employee involved in the suits [former group editor Brenden a/l Pereira is a plaintiff in both the suits against Jeff and I].
The CEO* confirmed that the NSTP is footing the bills for ALL the Plaintiffs as they were all associated with the group. He also said the NSTP has to date spent RM70,000 only on their legal fees.

*The 4th Plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit against this blogger by the NSTP and 4 Others
** The 2nd Plaintiff in the same lawsuit
*** The 3rd Plaintiff in the same lawsuit

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NSTP annual general meeting

Hot AGM. That was the headline I used for my posting on the NSTP's annual general meeting last year [read here]. Since I am embroiled in a defamation lawsuit involving the media giant and 3 of its top execs and a former group editor, I am not too sure how much I can contribute. But I'll be there tomorrow morning way before ten, nonetheless. If only to meet old friends and collect the door gift.

In any case, watch for my lunchtime posting tomorrow.

I was dropped!

Orders from above. Yep, I've been had!
They informed me on Monday that last night's Fast Forward programme on TV2 would not be on Presss Freedom so I would not be required to come. I thanked them and updated my posting accordingly, here.

I was taken aback, therefore, when told last night to watch the programme. Lol! They did not postpone the programme or change the topic! There was Hamidah Hamid, the programme's host, with The Sun's Zainon Ahmad and The Star's Bunn Negara. And they had Bernama's Azman Ujang on the line, too. They discussed Press freedom and touched on blogs.

So why did they not just tell me that the programme was on but they had to drop me?

It seems that my appearance in the Hello on Two programme two weeks ago was too hot. The producer was called up and asked why this blogger was invited. After that the producer for Fast Forward was told to drop me. The lawsuit filed against me by the NSTP and four others (here) was cited as a reason that I should not have been invited for the two programmes.

I have asked the Information Minister's office to provide me with an official explanation, since my sources said the orders came from above last week. Meanwhile, let me thank the producers for HOT and FF for their guts and professionalism. I was there so I know their limitations. The important thing is: They tried!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dr M transfers to IJN

Recovering. The doctors in Langkawi have allowed Dr Mahathir to travel back to Kuala Lumpur for observation at the IJN. Marina said her father is "fine".

update 8pm
The Tun is better.
Although visitors are discouraged, they still come to the IJN to try and see him. Ananda Krishnan got to visit. So did Lim Kit Siang.
When the Old Man was in ICU in Langkawi, I was told Pak Lah was planning to see visit. On his way to the hospital, however, the PM was told that his former boss was asleep and so decided to turn back from where he came. Dr Siti Hasmah, the Tun's wife, waited for Pak Lah, just in case.

A question for Shahziman and Mat Taib

Have you read the blog today? Deputy Minister Shahziman was making threats about sedition and slander even before he read the blog. Read here [Blogger can be hauled up for Slander]. Muhammad Mohd Taib aka Mike Tyson, the former Selangor Menteri Besar, too. Go read the blog.

By the way, it still baffles me. Why did it take Bernama more than half a day to file the news flash on the incident where the PM "almost collapsed" (according to Bernama's own story here) in Lumut? Bernama has trained reporters to do these flashes in no time at all. Was there an attempt to black out the news? Was there any need to?/

A question for Hong Leong Bank and Public Bank

How many Bumi firms are on your panel? At the Dewan Negara yesterday, Senator Syed Ali Alhabshee wanted to know how many Bumiputera legal firms have these two Chinese-owned local banks appointed to their panel of lawyers. Syed Ali was defending Maybank's policy requiring legal firms to have at least 50% Bumiputera equity if they wish to join its panel of solicitors. Another Senator, Azizah Abd Samad, also praised Maybank's move to do its bid for the Bumiputeras.
The Senators joined Umno's G7 who said the pro-Bumi policy is not a racist policy. Read the Bernama's story here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fast Forward

update, midnight
Postponed.
Got word late that the programme has been postponed. Will get confirmation from the producer in the morning.

Original post

Press Freedom.
Tomorrow night, 10.30pm, TV2. I have been invited to speak on press freedom in Malaysia. Not sure who the other panelists are but The Star top editor Wong Chun Wai won't be able to make an appearance. Sun's Zainon Ahmad and Bernama's Azman Ujang, possibly. I know both journalists.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pak Lah collapses in Lumut

Original post.
I've just been told that the PM collapsed while officiating a handing-over of keys to residents in Lumut. Pak Lah is scheduled to meet his Singapore counterpart during the Lumut retreat.
I'll update whenever I can as I'm on the move. Look out for the news in Bernama too.


Update 8.30pm

13 Mei, 2007 20:32 PM
PM Nafi laporan Disebar di Internet Kononnya Beliau Pengsan
LUMUT, 13 Mei (Bernama) -- Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi menafikan laporan yang disebarkan di internet kononnya beliau pengsan semasa menghadiri majlis jamuan rakyat dan perasmian Dataran Hadhari di Teluk Batik, Lumut, tengah hari.
-- BERNAMA
And the national news agency's English version [PM denied rumours spread in Internet that he collapsed].

Final Update, Midnight
PM "almost collapsed", blames heat and lack of sleep. The PM's personal physician conducted several tests (ECG, blood and blood pressure tests) on him after this afternoon's incident and "these were found to be normal". Bernama reported that during the incident, Pak Lah "appeared to be losing his balance and almost collapsed".

The PM himself said his condition could be due to the heat as the weather was very hot and his lack of sleep last night. The PM also admitted that he was worried at first: "I'm relieved now (after the doctor's examination). At first I was worried too. I thank the Almighty that I'm alright."

Read the full report here: Abdullah says not to worry, he's alright.
If you ask me, it's a far more honest take than the earlier flash: PM denied rumours spread in Internet that he collapsed.

Mother


Happy
Mother's
Day ...

Seven want Maybank to retain 50% Bumi ruling

"Patriotic ruling". Key Umno leaders now want Malayan Banking Bhd, lynched early last week for a ruling on a 50 per cent Bumiputera ownership for legal firms that want to get on its panel, to be allowed to retain the controversial ruling.

Utusan Malaysia has the story on its front page yesterday [Maybank diminta kekalkan semula syarat 50% pemilikan Bumiputera].

The article quoted seven Umno leaders, several from the governing Supreme Council of the party; namely, its vice-president Ali Rustam, who is also the Chief Minister of Melaka; former Melaka Chief Minister and now chairman of Gagasan Badan Ekonomi Melayu (Gabem) Rahim Thamby Chik; Umno liaison boss Muhammad Muhammad Taib; Minister of Rural and Regional Development Aziz Shamsuddin; Puteri chief Noraini Ahmad; and youth leaders Subahan Kamal and Rizal Merican Neena Merican.

Subahan, for example, said Maybank's new guidelines should not have been questioned by anyone as they are clearly aimed at safeguarding Malay interests.
"It should not have been made an issue. It is so odd that so many quarters are questioning the move, including the fact that it was brought to the Cabinet.
"Why don't we view it as an effort towards encouraging the growth of the Malays, who seem to be losing more and more of their rights?"
The Scribe has put up a commentary on this, with the hope that the Utusan Malaysia newspaper editor responsible for publishing the story will get to keep his job. Since the Prime Minister has distanced himself from the Maybank guidelines [read here], it will be interesting to see how he responds to the Seven, and how this issue will develop, during the coming week.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nasi Kandar (banjir) dah bungkus!

"Atrociously bad service ..". Last December, the PM deserted the country when Johor was facing its worst floods in a hundred years to open a nasi kandar restaurant in Perth. Looks like he abandoned the Johoreans for nothing. In just a few months, that restaurant has closed down. Screenshots has the story here, plus pics.
A reader in Perth sent me a mail last night to alert me of the news, too. The Anon said:
"With the price hike last month and the atrociously bad service, the restaurant never stood a chance."
Atrociously bad service equals a bad name for Malaysia. Perhaps the PM's office might want to do a little bit background search before officiating anything for Malaysian business concerns overseas.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

All-Blogs meets Anwar Ibrahim

(Original Posting)
But not for Friday sermon
. Former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim and the protem exco members of the National Alliance of Bloggers are due to meet after the Friday prayers tomorrow. The agenda? We haven't fixed anything specific yet. Which means we can talk about anything under the sky.

Update, May 11, 6pm
The meeting with Anwar lasted over an hour at his office in PJ. It was cordial, the kuih-kuih Melayu were excellent. We touched on wide-ranging issues, from blogging and politics to Independent candidates and the economy. He talked about Dr Mahathir, Pak Lah, Abdul Najib Razak, Malik Imtiaz, Tok Guru, and Zahid Hamidi, whom he said he has not met for a decade. Anwar says he is supportive of bloggers. "Bloggers are making an impact," he said. Anwar is a blogger himself; check out his blog at http://anwaribrahimblog.com.

Big Dog, who attended the meeting and asked the most questions, has more here. Among bloggers present were Jeff Ooi, Nuraina A. Samad (Anwar asked her about Pak Samad, his fellow former ISA detainee, several times during the meeting), Tony Yew, Bernard Khoo, Li Tsin, Jed Yoong, R. Rajahram, Stephen Francis, A Voice, and Ancient Mariner.

If Pak Lah was French ..

Leader thrashed for luxury yacht holiday with billionaire buddy.
Read this article France's Sarkozy sails into storm over luxury yacht holiday.

Sounds familiar? Yes, the similarities with our Prime Minister's Turkish getaway on a yacht belonging to billionaire Ananda Krishnan in Turkey last year are quite uncanny. Even the French president's buddy is a "media mogul". But President Nicolas Sarkozy's aides said the new President, deserves the rest. Moreover, he will report for formal duties only on May 16. The French papers, nevertheless, criticized Sarkozy.

When Abdullah Ahmad Badawi went on his fishing trip with AK on his luxury yacht, it was reported in the Hurriyet, a Turkish paper, and in the blogs. Our papers played dumb. For a refresher on Abdullah's own yachty experience, read here and for the pics here. Utusan Malaysia has the Malay version of Sarkozy's Malta holiday di sini.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

JJ apologises to Sheena

Boston: Jamaluddin Jarjis yesterday offered an apology to student Sheena Moorthy over remarks he made during a lunch with about 40 students, including Sheena, in Los Angeles last week. The minister told a gathering of a few hundreds students here that he had said some things in jest; nonetheless, he wished to apologise to "the student in LA" if he had offended her, an aide told me on the phone.

I have sent Sheena a couple of mails seeking more info since she sent me her mail on May 3 about how upset she was. JJ has come under fire on-line, with some blogs even calling for his sacking [here]. Sheena confirmed in her latest mail this morning that she was away in Boston the last couple of days. I've shot her another mail asking her views about the apology. Am awaiting her comments.

JJ did right to apologise, in my opinion. It is a quality missing in many politicians. Even journalists. Till today, for example, people are still waiting for Kalimullah Hassan to apologise for the June 11 column he wrote in The Sunday Times [read here]. Khairy Jamaluddin also hasn't apologised for his racial slurs he made against the Chinese last year [incidentally, Rustam Sani mentioned KJ's refusal to apologise in his posting today; read here].

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tulips for critically-ill babies



KLM Annual Charity Tulip Sale. The Royal Dutch Airlines is flying in 3,000 tulips to raise money this Saturday for critically-ill children in Malaysia.
If you feel like helping, mark the following details:
Venue: Concourse Level of Sungei Wang Plaza.
Date: Saturday, 12 May
Time: 11 am onwards
The tulips are just RM6 per bloom. This year's proceeds will go to Hospital Selayang's Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, which cares for critically-ill babies including those with low birth-weight who would require ventilation support, nutrition and close monitoring.

Letter from Bahrain to All-Blogs

Re: Zam and his desire to classify. A Malaysian blogger in Bahrain sent me this mail yesterday. I gave him All-Blogs' assurance. The Alliance is here to promote blogging and protect bloggers, NOT divide them. Zam can try till the cows come home to him.

Dear Rocky,
I'm writing to you concerning the suggestion by our Information Minister to classify bloggers as professional and non-professional. I sincerely hope that as the President of the All Blogs, you will strongly oppose to the suggestion as we don't want two divisions in the movement. I'm not a journalist but I love to read and write. I may not be gifted in the art of writing like some of you. I'm sure there are so many others like that. But I too believe in writing fearlessly. Therefore, I humbly ask you not to divide us..

Vhishnu Varthana
Proud Member of Bloggers United Malaysia
Manana
Kingdom of Bahrain

Spoil sports

Behind the scenes in Sports. There is this new blog at http://spoilsport.blog.com/ that some claims will give us the hottest gossips and dirt about our sports, especially badminton, and sports personalities in this country. It kicked off with trouble brewing off our badminton courts, with Punch Gunalan stirring a hornet's nest. Azalina's ministry may want to watch this blog closely.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Dr M and Abdullah's billions

Kick-ing-defella in Kota Baru. Inspired by Dr M's speech, blogger Sheih tells us about two Dollahs and their billions. Click here for his Who Wants to be a Billionaire?. Interesting pictures of Ku Li and another Dollah - the original Abdullah Ahmad of the Dollah Kok Lanas fame.

Ah, Shar101!

Poster boy is a Blogger ... Local bloggers have waited quite a while for a time when Shar101 would start a blog of his own. I was there at the National Press Club in Jalan Tangsi when he finally did. See his debut posting here; I have never seen anyone got more comments for a non-post!
In his latest posting Class Registration, however, 101 holds back little in ticking off the Information Minister for still trying to register bloggers (this time by making them classify themselves as "pros" and "non-pros") when the PM has already said the Government will not do so [here].
Professional politician, amateur politician. Zam's proposal has reached faraway shores. ABC Radio Australia journalist Corrine Podger interviewed me on the phone this morning and asked me about the pro/non-pro idea. I said bloggers may agree to it if politicians , Zam included, agree to the same classification.
I was told the interview will be aired tomorrow morning on Connect Asia. If they can't get a feedback from Zam's ministry, you'll probably be listening to me on Wednesday. Go to www.radioaustralia.com, then follow the links to Connect Asia.

p.s. Please click here for a definition of Professional Politician.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Out with outdated Press laws!

Top mainstream media editor wants more. Veteran journalist Wong Chun Wai has called on the government to do away with "archaic" laws that are stifling Press freedom in Malaysia. The Star's editor is unhappy with Malaysia's poor rankings in a Freedom House survey on nearly 200 countries (Malaysia is ranked 150th). He also noted that bloggers are becoming more credible as a source of news.

"Many have raised pertinent issues and asked good questions, which make us think harder. Many former journalists-turned-bloggers have proven that they still have the network of contacts to help them break news."

But a seasoned editor knows how and when to cover his behind:

"Still, it cannot be denied that under the Abdullah Administration, the Prime Minister has allowed greater democratic space and tolerance for dissent. It is thus unfortunate that some bloggers have made heroes of political players who had suppressed the media when they were in power. Many of these figures lack the credibility to talk about press freedom and when they do so, they smack of hypocrisy. Some are turning to the new media and have complained about media blackout when they, too, had used the same tactics to shut out their opponents. Many bloggers, unfortunately, are much too young to realise this or they have chosen to look the other way for political expediency. Some bloggers write about press freedom and yet display blatant intolerance of others who don’t share their political views. "

I disagree with Wong on one point, at least. I was there, too, and I will deny that under the Abdullah Administration, the Prime Minister has allowed greater democratic space and tolerance for dissent. And I wonder who Wong is referring to when he writes about "political players who had suppressed the media when they were in power"? Dr Mahathir Mohamad?

Whatever, now that I know his views on these issues, I look forward to the roundtable forum on Press freedom on TV2 scheduled for middle this month featuring both of us, among others. In the meantime, do read Wong's Do Away With Archaic Laws.

My fellow Journalists, please blog!

Short-cut to Press freedom. In my interview with Malaysiakini* yesterday, I made a call to my fellow journalists to start blogging. I said the media in this country will become freer if journalists blog. Their blogs will not only be their personal journals but will have the power to ensure that their newspapers and televisions do not suppress, spin or censor news. Their blogs will create effective media watchdogs within the media itself, which will augur well for Press freedom.

I said The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president's call that the government start recognizing the New media (blogs and on-line media) is a good start. What the courageous Norila Md Daud can do now as a follow-up to the call she made on World Press Freedom Day is to start encouraging her members to start blogging.

She can count on the National Alliance of Bloggers to help; it is the All Blogs' raisons d'etre to promote blogging and protect bloggers. And we can always ask Zam, later, if he thinks journo-bloggers should be categorised as professional or non-professional bloggers.

& drop by Central Mart today
*Malaysiakini interviewed Jeff Ooi and I in conjunction with the launch of the WPFD celebrations the on-line news portal company is organising jointly with the Centre of Independent Journalists. You can still catch the second and final day of the event, which also features freedom art works by adults and children, today (Sunday, 6 May 2007) at the Central Market, KL.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Rocky vs NSTP & 4 Others, Defence and Strike-out

Malu. In trying to put up a defence against the defamation suit filed by the NSTP, Kalimullah Hassan, Hishamuddin Aun, Syed Faisal Albar and Brenden a/l Pereira against me in January, I was embarrassed; which basically means that:
1/ I do not know the exact nature of the Plaintiffs' case against me; and
2/ I am left in uncertainty as to which imputations flow from each of the alleged offending publications and/or comments. My lawyers and I have tried to decipher the meanings of their claims against me.

My lawyers had written to the plaintiffs' lawyers requesting for further and better details of their claims in order to help me with the task but they declined.

I was therefore left with two options:
First, to file a holding defence against claims that least embarrassed me, namely:
a. Plagiarism concerning the 5th Plaintiff
b. Weekend Mail concerning the 4th Plaintiff
Second, to apply to strike out the entire suit

I applied the first option on Thursday [see reports by Malaysia Today and Malaysiakini; also the mainstream media including the Star and Bernama and several blogs] and yesterday applied to strike out the entire' suit [here].

Thursday, May 03, 2007

WPFD: Thank God for Myanmar, Cuba


And thank you Malaysiakini and Screenshots. If not for Malaysiakini and bloggers like Screenshots, according to Freedom House's latest Press Freedom index, Malaysia would have scored even worse than the 150th place (out of 195 countries) that it managed this year.
Myanmar and Cuba are not too far worse than us but we can still boast (to them, at least) that our Press are freer!
Screenshots blogger Jeff Ooi is facing a lawsuit and on-line news portal Malaysiakini could be facing a big one soon.

Read the piece on our declining freedom ranking here.

Malaysian journo body wants bloggers recognised

Hail, NUJ! Norila Mohd Daud, the president of the National Journalists Union, has urged the Government to recognise bloggers and netizen writers as the new media. The NUJ's membership comprises unionised journalists from all media, including the ones owned and/or controlled by the government via the major political parties, directly or through proxies.
Norila makes her call in conjunction with the World Press Freedom Today. On behalf of the National Alliance of Bloggers, I would like to thank her for the NUJ's support for bloggers and for Press freedom.
Bernama has the story HERE.

World Press Freedom Day and Rocky's Defence

Rocky vs NSTP & 4 Others. Today is the World Press Freedom Day! And mMy lawyer Edmund Bon will file in Kuala Lumpur today my defence in the defamation suit filed in January against me by NSTP and 4 Others.

For other events in Kuala Lumpur to mark this day, check out Jeff Ooi's Screenshots.
Or head for Central Market where the Centre of Independent Journalists is holding a two-day People's Art Fest.

World Press Freedom Day and Al Jazeera/Bloggers

Al Jazeera on Bloggers. Al Jazeera will air a week-long programme on bloggers in the region on its 101 East on Channel 20 from today.
The times are:

Thurs 3 May at 10.30 pm
Fri 4 May at 1.30 pm
Sat 5 May at 3.30 pm and 9.30 pm
Sun 6 May at 4.30 pm
Mon 7 May at 10.30 am
Tue 8 May at 11 am
Wed 9 May at 9.30 am and 3 pm
Thurs 10 May at 8.30 am

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tenaga exits Indon mine

Expensive lesson. Last July this blog highlighted Tenaga Nasional's unhappy union with Pak Robert and other Indonesian partners in a shady coal mine venture. In August, I wrote about a potential RM350 million losses at group level as a result of this soured ties. In Tenaga Okays Bail-out, I reported a US$100 million scheme to help Che Khalib Mohd Noh, the President and CEO of the utility giant, to get out of the Indonesian mess. On Oct 24 last year, he told Bernama here that Tenaga would sell off the mine in Indonesia even at a loss because the losses would be pittance to Tenaga Nasional.

In the Business Times today, Anna Maria Samsudin reported that Tenaga has reached an agreement to sell all its shares in the Indonesian business for just US$19.5 million [story here]. Tenaga is said to have invested over RM200 million.

Tenaga Nasional probably did not have any other options but to quit but it is an expensive lesson the GLC had to learn. But for a man sitting on billions of ringgit, Che Khalib is unlikely to be too perturbed. As he said in the interview with Bernama:
In giving a comparison of the Indonesian coal mining investment, he said TNB's turnover for 2005/2006 financial year 2005/2006 was RM20 billion while coal mining venture only cost RM200 million.
"It is not worth cracking and banging our heads against the wall (over this matter)," he added.

Zahid Hamid does not have to be the "bitter pill" that we need to swallow

KUL, Dec 1 : Imagine DPM Zahid Hamidi courting a group of international investors, talking about good governance and transparency and the go...