Sunday, August 31, 2008

Call to shut down Malaysia Today

Some agree with MCMC. In his posting Malaysia Today deserves to be shut down!, Ashraf Abdullah writes :
... Raja Petra Kamarudin has committed blasphemy, a crime no Muslim can tolerate. The site should be shut down for good and Raja Petra should be charged under Syariah laws ... in Iran, he would be sentenced to death.
If Ashraf has support, that support is inaudible. Khairy Jamaluddin, in his posting In defense of those who despise me, condemns the MCMC's move even though he has no kind words for RPK or Malaysia Today.
... In his incessant desire to concoct sensationalism, (RPK) often peddles half-truths and occasionally, outright lies. The inability to judiciously moderate comments also results in racially and religiously offensive remarks being posted without any restriction by the web master.
Nevertheless, none of these should justify an attempt at outright censorship.
Uncle Yap, a blogger from across the Second Link, makes his stand clear in Singaporeans to help fight Malaysian Blog Ban here.

Project Malaysia

update 4pm on Merdeka Day.
Politics of Race 2.

"Bangsa Melayu has always been the "tuan" in Tanah Melayu since centuries ago. Just as the Chinese, Indian, Japanese and the Germans, in theirs". - Dr Hassan Ahmad, former Malaysian permanent rep at the UNESCO, quoted in "... Yes, this is about Malaysia!"

Original article
Politics of Race. At midnight, prominent human rights lawyer Malik Imtiaz launched Project Malaysia, a non-profit initiative he has put together with some friends. The "experiment" will run for a year, during which it will explore 12 core Malaysian themes through "comprehensive no-holds-barred, critical discourse in which all stakeholders have a chance to put measured views across".

"The aim," Malik says, "is to find solutions for a better nation and craft a blueprint for the future."

The initiative debuts with its first core theme, Politics of Race. A piece full of promise and optimism. I want to share Malik and Michelle's confidence, but ido I think that, after March 8 and Anwar Ibrahim's win in Permatang Pauh, "race is no longer a pivotal consideration in (Malaysians') quest for what they believe is right"? I have my doubts. I 'd say we're not there yet. But, hey, read the piece and tell them what you think.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Merdeka!


Selamat Menyambut 52 tahun Merdeka! Now, is it me, or do you find it a little quiet for Merdeka, too?

\update, midnight\ thanks and apologies all, it is NOT our 52nd Merdeka but our 51st. or, as Borneo Poster Boy says, Malaysia's 45th ...

Give Life

Ansara's blood donation drive. No plans for the weekend? Why not visit one of 30 locations set up by the former Maktab Rendah Sains Mara students nationwide and donate blood?
The blood donation drive is an annual do aimed primarily to ensure sufficient supply during the Raya period.

For details and the location nearest you, click HERE.

A Sweet Budget

Since the Government has not much money, I expected the Finance Minister to push up prices of alcohol and fags to the ceiling. But that didn't happen. Cigarettes will cost about 60 sen more a pack only and the prices of alcohol remain the same. Even if the Government had increased Marlboro prices by 63 percent (which was how much the prices of diesel was increased the last time) cigarettes in Malaysia would still be among the cheapest in the region. The amount of money earned by the Government from higher prices of cigarette and alcohol could be used to improve the transportation system.

Still, the 1 per cent reduction in individual income tax makes the Budget 2009 one that's sweet for many people. Or is it?

Here's a quick guide to the 2009 Budget; and here for the economic highlights.

In Malaysia, Dreams Do Come True ... For Some!

For Binafikir, at least. Azman Mokhtar (pic) was behind this boutique investment adviser agency called Binafikir, which made its mark in the 1990s. With the help of Nor Mohamed Yakcop, now the Finance Minister ll, Binafikir came up with a rescue plan for Malaysia Airlines. Analysts were full of praise of the radical plan. Amokh went on to become Khazanah Nasional boss though Maybank never really did recover. He is in charge of, among others, Government-linked companies like Maybank.
So when Maybank decides to purchase Binafikir for RM8 m and appoints Rashdan or Danny, who is Amokh's partner then, as Aseambanker top gun, surely there'll be raised eyebrows. Blogger Mindacergas thinks that Danny could soon enough take over Abdul Wahid Omar's job as Maybank chief ... Read his Dreams do come true: Maybank, Wahid, Azman, Rashdan, Binafikir.

Friday, August 29, 2008

When a govt reneges on its promise ...

Malaysia's promise of no Internet censorship was given by Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he was Prime Minister. Did you know, or remember? In 1998, when cyberspace was used by the Reformasi soldiers, including Raja Petra Kamaruddin, to wage war against his government and his person, Dr M did not censor the Internet. He did not break Malaysia's promise to the world.

Read his latest posting on Chedet:

1. When a Government makes a promise to the country and then reneges on its promise, then not only will the Government lose credibility but also any respect that the public may have for it.

2. I do not often agree with Malaysia-Today.net and Raja Petra Kamaruddin. He had been sometimes quite irresponsible. But court action had already been taken against him. He is not above the law and if he is found guilty there are already adequate punishment that can be passed against.

3. But to break a promise and to openly show that you can meddle with the security of the internet is to expose a degree of oppressive arrogance worthy of a totalitarian state.

Click here for more.

The Star spoke to me yesterday and Malaysiakini called me for my comments today. I share Dr M's views.

National Alliance of Bloggers interim president Ahirudin Attan said it was the first time that the commission had decided to go against the spirit of the promise the Government had made and stressed that it would “rattle investors’ confidence in the country.”

“Google is planning to invest here by building a multi-billion ringgit data centre here. If this is the way the commission behaves, it is as good as telling Google to please go away.”

Click here to read the Star article. And here for the Malaysiakini's piece.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Return of Anwar

Aljazeera's 101 East. A special on Anwar's return to Parliament after 10 years will be aired on Aljazeera at 8.30pm tonight. It will feature comments by Khairy Jamaluddin, the guy who returned Anwar's passport not too long ago, among others.
If you miss tonight's, tune in on Friday at 3.30 am, 11 am, 2.30 pm; Saturday at 10 pm; Sunday 1.30 pm; Monday 9.30 am; Tuesday 6.30 pm; Wednesday 3.30 pm, 10 pm; and Thursday at 2 pm.

Google, Go Away!

Malaysia censors the Internet. While Asian countries are battling each other for Google's attention because Google wants to build a multi-billion dollar data centre, we are telling Google to go and fly kite elsewhere.

The MCMC might as well tell Google and those investors that they are NOT welcomed in Malaysia. Its decision to censor Malaysia Today (mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/) in effect breaks Malaysia's promise to the world that the Government of this country will not censor the Internet.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some Pictures and a Message about Sons and Sons-in-Law

Permatang Pauh's Big Night in pictures Part 1 and Part 2.

Bukit Mertajam, Last Night: DSAI made a short speech in English for the benefit of the English-speaking world. Yup, there were many foreign journalists. I'm not sure how many, but many. When he was the Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar was very popular with foreign journalists. They liked him. They liked Dr Mahathir, too, but in a different, less friendly, way.

DSAI said the world media were there because they were interested to witness the change:

"This victory is due to the commitment and the support and the conviction of the people, not only the people of Permatang Pauh but of Malaysians in general. We demand change. We want freedom. Freedom from injustice. We demand an independent judiciary. We want to give a real meaning to the spirit of Merdeka. In terms of the economy, we demand a fairer distribution of wealth for the majority. Not for the corrupt few, (not for) families, sons and sons-in-law."

I missed my blogging buddies (except for Jeff Ooi and Elizabeth Wong, who were up there with DSAI and the other Pakatan Rakyat leaders). I almost didn't make it for DSAI's victory celebration. We had no Press passes, but it was a good thing we knew some people, and the cops listened to reason (or excuses). Saw Lim Guan Eng for the first time since he became Chief Minister, but he didn't see me.

UMNO must change, says Razaleigh

Ku Li, who has offered to contest Abdullah Badawi in Umno's elections this December, says with Anwar Ibrahim's victory in Permatang Pauh and Barisan Nasional's defeat in the Prime Minister's own home state, "What scraps of credibility the Prime Minister and his Deputy had left after March 8 are gone".

Read Ku Li's scathing statement here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Anwar Returns To Parliament

AFTER MIDNIGHT UPDATE:
Anwar: I will swear, I will take an oath ...
After a rousing victory speech in front of some 10,000 supporters at the sports complex of the Institute Tuanku Bainun in Tanah Liat, Permatang Pauh, Anwar leaned over the railing and told reporters:


"Tomorrow, I will swear ... And I will take an oath .... In Parliament!".

It must have been a line that Anwar had rehearsed many times and saved for lthat very moment when victory is in hand. The by-election he had just won was dominated by issues of sex and sodomy. His refusal to swear on the Quran in response to the oath taken by his former aide Saiful, who is accusing Anwar of sodomizing him, had rattled Anwar and the PKR for a while during the campaigning.

DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang told a joint press conference a little later that the Pakatan Rakyat will insist that the Dewan Rakyat Speaker hasten the swearing-in of Anwar Ibrahim as a Member of Parliament and "... as leader of the Opposition, seated right in front of the Prime Minister."

Kit warned that if Anwar is not sworn in, the tabling of the 2009 Budget by PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi this Friday will be made to be very difficult. "There is no reason to delay the swearing-in," Husam Musa, the PAS vice chairman, said.

UPDATE
:
11.20pm: Anwar wins big -- 31,195 votes (15,671 vote-majority)
Arif Shah:15,524
Hanafi Mamat: 92
Spoilt: 447

ORIGINAL REPORT:
9.15pm: Anwar Ibrahim arrives at the tally centre where he will be announced winner of the Permatang Pauh by a bigger majority.

At the moment (9.30pm), the last portions of the votes are being counted.

Anwar is over 17,000 votes ahead of his opponent, Umno's Arif Shah. (The other contender is Hanafi Mamat of Akim)

Given that voter turn-out was lower, Anwar has won by a majority bigger than that by his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Ismail. She won by more than 13,000 votes.

A crowd of about 10,000 has already gathered here. And they are jubilant.

9.35pm: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng arrives.

(More later)

No hell will break loose tonight


Crowd jubilant, set to party to welcome back Anwar to Parliament. My eyes and ears at the Institute Tuanku Bainun, the tally centre for the Permatang Pauh by-election, say there's a crowd of about a thousand PR supporters gathered outside now (about 6.30pm) as counting of the votes begin. Malaysiakini says the road to the centre has been closed by police (read here and click on the Mkini map to enlarge).

The unofficial result should be known in about an hour or so. The Election Commission places voter turnout at about 65 per cent.

Will there be trouble tonight?
That's what a lot of people are asking. My E&E says: "Trouble? Not here. This lot is happy, not angry."

"Most violent" by-election under way

Second noon Update: Former NST political editor says it's a "foregone conclusion".

First noon Update: As of 11 am, 17,911 voters have cast their votes in Permatang Pauh by-election. That's about 31 per cent turnout. PP has 58,459 registered voters.

original posting:
70 police reports.
Anwar Ibrahim, on his way back to Malaysian Parliament, cast his vote at Kubang Semang about 9 am. We missed that, caught in a two-hour jam (see Star pic) from Seberang Jaya, where his main opponent Arif Shah had cast his vote at 8 am. Syed Hamid describes Permatang Pauh (PP) by-election "the most violent in Malaysia's history" but we haven't seen any untoward incident. As we crawled in traffic, I saw BN and PR workers and supporters side by side , mile after mile, along the road, handing motorists caps, Anwar masks, and free copies of Utusan Malaysia. The heavy police presence, seen as a nuisance by some, gives a sense of greater security to others.

SMSes in the longest traffic jam. Teoh, a blogger friend from KL, sms-ed me around 10.30 this morning to know what's up.

Teoh: How's the mood on the ground? U think DSAI convinced Malays there he is 4 them? I think mee sodo tak laku.

Bru: Hey bro, caught up in the longest traffic jam in PP. DSAI will make it but his majority will be reduced .... Malay votes 50-50, very dependent on PAS' strength. How's KL?

Teoh: KL subdued. No action at all. Heat all @ PP 4 now. Ur 2 cents. DSAI 15k* n above? Or less?

Bru: Less.

Teoh: Will this deter frogs ...?

Bru: The frogs will still lompat. Q is if there are enough frogs. I doubt Sept 16 will happen but DSAI will be in Parliament.

Teoh: Thanks bro. C u in KL soon.

* Wan Azizah, Anwar's wife, won the PP seat by a majority of over 13,000 votes in March. Lower turnout of voters alone will rob DSAI of a similar margin. If you ask those in BN who are close to the action, they'd say their man was only about 5,000 votes behind Anwar as of last night.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Permatang Pauh, last call

A Long Final Day (and A Short Relief for Anwar?) For the last two days, I've been running around Penang interviewing people and reporting for RazorTV, the region's latest Internet TV or IPTV. In the last 24 hours, I spoke to the two main candidates for the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election - Anwar Ibrahim and Arif Shah.

Anwar told me this afternoon that he remains confident of winning, despite the controversial new electoral list that the Election Commission has come up with. The "confession" by Imam Ramlang Porigi seems to have been a big relief to Anwar (but according to Bernama here, Najib has said only the Mufti can decide on the validity of Saiful's swearing by the Quran and the Mufti can be expected to say something by tonight, the eve of the by-election, so Anwar's relief may be short-lived!).

I had been told that Arif spoke Mandarin so I thought I'd start my interview with him this morning with "Ni Hau Ma?". The guy launched a good two or three-minute speech in Mandarin to say how confident he is now of winning.

Independent election observers I interviewed today were not happy with the huge presence of cops (about 6,000 police officers have been deployed for a by-election with just over 58,000 voters). The complained about unnecessary road blocks and also about the Election Commission holding polling day on a weekday. The special public holiday the Penang government has declared for tomorrow does not appease them. But Yunus Ali, the chairperson of the National Institute for Electoral Integrity, said the watchers were impressed with one thing: ALL ceramahs and gatherings got approvals.

I am going to a carnival tonight on the mainland, organised by the Pakatan Rakyat, where the politicians hope to party.

I was told the interviews will be aired on RazorTV tonight . Please check it out at www.razor.tv

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pak Samad in ICU


A. Samad Ismail, the Tokoh Wartawan Negara, is in the Intensive Care Unit at Pantai Hospital, KL. His condition is stable but critical.
Prayers for his quick recovery.

Najib's a Hindu now!?

Another Statutory Declaration. Another SD has been launched against Najib Razak, apparently by people who wish to hasten his political demise. But the quality of the Statutory Declaration by the former driver of Anwar Ibrahim's former tennis partner is such that you'd wonder whether the SD won't do the launchers more harm than it would do the DPM. But an SD is an SD.

Read Malayia Today's Najib: Muslim by birth, Hindu by practice.

p.s. Someone just told me that Najib is actually a Jew. I'm trying to find the link this info. Watch out for this space soon. update: OK here's the link: Najib is not a Hindu but a Jew ...
p.p.s. I'm in Penang, hoping to get a close look at the Permatang Pauh by-election. So watch out for this space for Anwar's comeback tale.

Friday, August 22, 2008

In defence of Syed Nadzri

No room for dissent, Zorro? Mohd Ashraf Abdullah, one of the first editors to quit after a new regime took over the NST at the end of 2003, has a question for Bernard Khoo aka Zorro-Unmasked in his latest posting The pot calling the kettle black.

Ashraf, who started his Jejak Pujangga blog, recently is responding to Zorro's Wednesday posting What Price Loyalty?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Permatang Pauh's poster war


"Cabinet BABI"? A loud mouth was quoted by the Malaysian Insider, a portal run by ex-New Straits Times journalists still aligned to Kalimullah Hassan and Brenden Pereira (therefore to Pak Lah), as calling this mysterious Cabinet list as "Cabinet BABI".

The PKR's side captured a rather interesting poster/banner at Permatang Pauh last night (see below). The message on the banner: REJECT THE PAK LAH + ANWAR ALLIANCE, BE WITH NAJIB RAZAK.


Will Adnan be given the RM18 B project?

Najib to decide. The Cabinet Committee on Broadband meets today to discuss a proposal by a company chaired by the Pahang Menteri Besar to take over a billion-ringgit 10-year broadband project from TM, a public-listed company. According to a foreign bank's report, TM officials met the Deputy Prime Minister for half an hour or so earlier this week to discuss their fate.

My earlier posting here on why Adnan should not be considered.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

PM calls blogger "evil"

Upside-down flag. Abdullah Badawi's reaction to Sheih's campaign to fly the Jalur Gemilang upside-down as a sign of protest towards the country's selfish politicians (regardless whether they are BN or PR politicians) is belated, excessive and smacks of the kind of politics that drove Sheih and friends to mount the campaign in the first place.

Just read the Bernama article Evil for blogger to fly flag upside down, says PM.

Evil, dear Pak Lah, is a person who steals from the orphans, who uses religion to mislead others, who tells lies about others, who abandons his people in pursuit of worldly pleasures, and anyone who aniaya orang lain.

Flying the flag upside down is not evil. (Capt Yusof told me that if you are a Japanese, for eg, flying the flag upside down does not make a difference at all). If you don't agree with it, don't fly it upside down.

So let's cut the crap, Pak Lah. And please withdraw your statement about wanting the police takes action against the blogger. You, Sir, should direct the police to pursue Nurin's killers (One year on, Nurin's family suing police - NST Online). At the very least, you must tell the police to charge the people who distributed pictures of Nurin's post-mortem. Now, Sir, those people are EVIL!

p.s. If you didn't know, Sheih's blog Kickdefella was inspired by Abdullah Badawi. Yep, the "fella" in his blog name and the PM are one and the same, er, fella.

Petrol, diesel prices to go down


RM2.10 per liter of petrol? Delay that trip to the pump station, guys. Word is (read here) the Government will announce cheaper fuel prices very soon. World oil prices are cheaper now than it was when the Abdullah Administration made that wretched decision to push up petrol prices by 41 per cent and diesel by 63 per cent.

Two weeks ago when I was in Singapore, the ST reported pump prices falling for the sixth time in a month.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Permatang Pauh by-election issues


When pics of the Son-in-Law in a girly dress, apparently during some college show years ago, are making their rounds ahead of a by-election that Anwar Ibrahim is expected to win easily, you get a feeling that there aren't too many issues to fire up the campaigning.
I'm not even sure if these pictures are supposed to work against BN or PR. They are on anti-Anwar portal here as well as pro-Anwar blogs, here and here.

There were no Anwar cronies?

Not even one crony? The Star online's report, Anwar: Name my 'cronies' (excerpts below) is intriguing. The question that came to my mind was, Did Anwar really say that?
When Anwar Ibrahim was DPM and Finance Minister, many businessmen were linked to him. There were, or course, many, many more who claimed that they were linked to him. The joke among us disillusioned reporters then was: "Mahathir has Ting, Anwar has Tong". Sure, people said Ting Pek Khiing and Tong Kooi Ong were fairly big corporate names even before they were labelled Dr M and Anwar's cronies, but the fact remained that they were seen to be extra close to the two.

I also remember the list of so-called cronies put up by Dr M at the PWTC in 1998. It was said that there were many Anwar's cronies on that list. Can't recall their names, though.

BUTTERWORTH: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has challenged his detractors to name the people who allegedly benefited from his position when he was deputy prime minister and finance minister.

“There was no such thing. If you know of the people who benefited, you should identify them. Do not just make claims,” he said.

The PKR leader, who is contesting the Permatang Pauh by-election, was asked to comment on his involvement in bumiputra policies when he was in the Federal Government and the award of projects without tenders.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ah, the "missing" MP is back!

Zulkifli Noordin, the PKR Member of Parliament who went missing and some feared was detained under the ISA after leading a protest at the Bar Council's "Conversion" forum on Aug 9, made a public appearance at the Dewan Rakyat today. He said was away to attend to some personal matters (read here). Bah!

Shafee: Raja Petra a coward, a common pariah

Stirring up a hornet's nest. Unlike Raja Petra Kamaruddin's previous "victims", Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the prominent lawyer accused by the Malaysia Today editor as the "devil" behind a purported conspiracy against Anwar Ibrahim, is not taking RPK's allegations lying down.

During a press conference at his office in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Shafee dared RPK to face him, in court, like a man. In a single press release, he called RPK, among other things:
"a coward"
"a common 'pariah'"
"one who hides behind the skirt of his wife"
"a common bankrupt"
"bankrupt of ideas and credibility"
"dishonest and reckless"
Shafee also described Malaysia Today, the website RPK runs, as a political "propaganda website" and that Raja Petra is its "chief puppet".
"Raja Petra is not a bona fide journalist or an independent news provider."

"Raja Petra does not practice an open blog site. He only publishes materials that support him. All other materials that are critical of him or condemn him are not published. He is not interested in an open debate for alternative views. His claim that his website is a source of independent news is total nonsense. Clearly this blogger is a coward and one that hides behind his blog ( and as you can see in court last Friday, one that hides behind his wife as well). Any so called “Royalty” (as Raja Petra claims himself to be) who indulges in publishing vulgar statements over and above being defamatory ought to be ashamed of himself as his behaviour evidenced in the blog site is that of a common “pariah”."
Read Shafee's press release in full (thanks, Big Dog) here.

Has RPK abused blog freedom and basic decency with his articles on Shafee? Some people frown at the way RPK writes but that he has a large following proves that people love the stuff he has been dishing out. Raja Petra's strength lies in developing a readable story based on a bit of facts and a lot of opinions (and he's willing to go down defending what he writes). But that is also what has gotten him into trouble repeatedly with the law. His followers believe that RPK has the evidence to back what he writes but so far Raja Petra has yet to come out with the evidence.

Shafee is a prominent lawyer and member of the society. Even if he wasn't, Shafie is entitled to defend his honor. The intensity of his response to RPK's attacks is frightening. He isn't going after just RPK, he is setting a precedence by going after the commenters in Malaysia Today who have defamed him as well.

He said he was lodging a police report against RPK and the commenters for: (a) Criminal Defamation; (b) Sedition under the Sedition Act 1948; (c) Offences under the Penal Code for vulgarities; (d) Offences under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998; and (e) Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984.

I have been sued myself by the NSTP and 4 of its officials who claimed that I have defamed them on my blog. Nearly 20 months have passed by and my case is on-going. My lawyers told me that the TRUTH is the best defence against defamation suit. I can run to the court of public opinion to win my fight, but in the end it is still in the court of law that I must defend myself and clear my name.

updates:
Sue me, Shafee tells RPK (NST, 18/8/2008)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No to 90:10 (or 10:90)

Why stifle Democracy on radio? Our artistes, it seems, are always having to fight for their miserable share of the local music pie. Their current complaint is against the Indonesian artistes and local radio stations who appear to be favoring the foreigners by giving them more air time.

The people at Karyawan, who represent the local artistes, are now demanding that these local radio stations air local songs 90 per cent of the time and allow the Indonesians the remaining 10 per cent.

I am of the opinion that the 90:10 demand is ridiculous.

Don't stifle radio democracy (read Engku Emran - Part 1 and Part 2). I will listen to a radio station that knows how to give my ears a break. If a radio station airs Indonesian songs 90 per cent of the time, not even the Indonesians who live here would be happy to tune in to it. If it plays local songs 90 per cent of the time, I'm not going to listen to it.

p.s. I grew up on D'lloyds and Broery because they were damn good. Malaysians could not make the kind of music they were making.

But the Indonesians could not come near Ramli Sarip* even though Kamelia is Ebiet G. Ade's song. And Carefree, Alleycats, M. Nasir**, Headwind, Wings, Search, and Karyawan boss Freddie Fernandez's Revolvers -- we remember them and we listen to them because they make/made excellent music, not because the radio stations played their songs all the time.

By the way, I listen to Radja and Samsons, too. Most of the lady singers, Malaysian or Indonesian, sound the same (but not in a bad way). The ones I can tell immediately are Sheila Majid, Ella and Ning.

* and ** Ramli and M Nasir were made in Singapore, by the way.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ah, Nuraina hits a Million!

Nuraina A. Samad started her blog 3540 Jalan Sudin in January 2007 and left an instant mark on blogosphere with her open letter to the Prime Minister asking him to stop certain individuals from dragging the NSTP in their suit against blogger Jeff Ooi and I.

The former NST political editor then started her romantic "Tuesdays with Bapak" weekly series and initiated NURIN Alert with other bloggers. She is the Honorary Secretary of the protem Alliance of Bloggers.

Lately, you'll read more postings on her blog (eg "It IS a conspiracy but, so what?") in defence of Anwar Ibrahim who, like "Bapak", was an ISA detainee. When she was at NST and the height of Reformasi, Ena was known for her strong pro-Anwar views. She is not a card-carrying member of any political party, though.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The 18 Billion Ringgit Man

Govt stalls RM11.3 billion deal to consider RM18 billion option. Why?
Today, the Government was supposed to have signed a High Speed Broadband (HSBB) agreement with Telekom Malaysia to get us further into the Information superhighway. The project, to spread over 10 years, will involve a total investment of RM11.3 billion. Of that, RM8.9 billion was to come from TM and RM2.4 billion from the Government.

The signing ceremony did not happen. It was called off hastily last Friday after a group of businessmen from Pahang succeeded in drawing Putrajaya's attention to their RM18 billion proposal.

And so, the Cabinet Committee on Broadband, chaired by the DPM, will meet next Wednesday (Aug 20) to study the Pahang group's detailed proposal. The business pages have reported quite a bit on the news, and rightly so - the difference between the two proposals is a whopping RM6.7 billion! The blogs, however, have somehow ignored this development, perhaps because bloggers didn't think the Government will seriously listen to the Pahang group's sales pitch.

The usual way to take this kind of news is to tell yourself that maybe - just maybe - there are good reasons to consider the Pahang group's proposal, even though it's going to involve so much more money. Perhaps there serious defects in the TM's proposal? Perhaps with the RM18 billion proposal the Government does not have to cough up a single sen, eh?

If this was a case of giving all available options due consideration, why left it till the eleventh hour? Invitation cards for the signing ceremony had already been sent out, according to a news report. Foreign investors are already nervous about Malaysia; why give them another reason to go somewhere else to do business?

Personally, what nearly made me fall off my chair was the news that Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob will lead the Pahang team (in his capacity as Pahang Technology Resources Sdn Bhd chairman) to present the RM18 billion proposal to Najib.

I mean, just look at his picture above. And please read my CCC 9 posting on the guy to understand my reservation.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A healthy blog

"One-quarter of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-quarters keep your doctor alive".

Doctor2008.wordpress.com. Even if you are the sort who avoids doctors, do check out this doctor's blog for things you should know about your health. His articles on health try to relate to things that happen to real people.

Past titles include Falling sick in Malaysia and The truth about lying. Given our woes, many of us would benefit from reading his posting on Managing Anger. But if doesn't work for you, don't take it out on the good Doc, please.

Ah, Shahjihad Jalil

"Hope you ladies know what you're doing". I didn't want to post on this Wanita Umno's "jihad" on Anwar Ibrahim because it's so, er, not on. i I also thought, at first, that Shahrizat was talking about Rafidah Aziz and the AP thing. Read Jalan Sudin's take here. I join her in hoping that those ladies know what they're doing.

p.s. Somebody said Shahrizat should focus on wresting back what Anwar Ibrahim's daughter took away from her during the last General Election instead of trying to take on the daughter's father. Makes sense?

No Human Rights Walk this year, says Bar Council

Debate on human rights at UiTM, Dec 9-12, 2008. It's still a long way, but the Bar Council is promoting it early because of the prep that is needed. This is probably the first debate in the world hosted by a professional legal body and a public university.

The Bar and UiTM expect 300 Malaysian and foreign debaters to cross words at the great debate. The theme is "UDHR @ 60 and still not all is right". The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 is celebrated on Dec 10 every year.

Last year, the Bar Council and supporters of human rights walked through the KL City on a Sunday morning. Several people were arrested.

Interested to take part? Click here for more details.

Interested in last year's walk? Click my previous links below:
Walking with 500 cops
No one above the law featuring the Son-in-Law
Laughing stock featuring the Attorney-General

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Will Anwar sell us all out?

The following is a media statement by Mukhriz Mahathir defending Malaysia against Al Gore's attacks. Exactly a decade ago, Al Gore, who was then the second most powerful man of the most powerful nation on Earth, had also slammed Malaysia for Anwar Ibrahim's trial.

"ONE WONDERS whether former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore’s unfounded allegations and reprehensible statements against Malaysia in support of Anwar Ibrahim is proof of the pudding that Anwar Ibrahim is a political puppet of the United States government. Isn’t this proof that there has been and is in vigorous motion a concerted conspiracy to install their lackey in Malaysia as further evidenced by the summoning of the Malaysian envoy by the US State Department?

The United States lost all moral authority when it lied to the world in order to invade Iraq for its oil for starters. Democracy, human rights, and justice are merely slogans used by the United States administration when it is convenient. This is a government that sanctioned the ‘extraordinary rendition’ or kidnapping of suspected ‘’terrorist’’ around the world to be transferred to secret torture camps in parts of Europe and in third world countries.

Perhaps Al Gore needs to be updated that true democracy is alive and well in Malaysia. We have had 12 general elections with the ruling coalition losing five states, the Federal Territory as well as its two-thirds majority in parliament in the most recently concluded general elections. This couldn’t have been possible if elections in Malaysia weren’t free and fair. Al Gore of all people should know this difference after failing in his popular bid for President in 2000 against a ‘’well-connected’’ George W. Bush.

How does one determine if a case is politically motivated if the due process of law isn’t allowed to take place? It’s a double insult that Al Gore had first supported the reformasi-riots in 1998 and now chooses to support Anwar Ibrahim whom faces the very same charges of sodomy. Perhaps Al Gore doesn’t understand the gravity of the charges of sodomy as it may not be a crime in the west, but in Malaysia it’s a serious unlawful act. Also, the present political situation is getting even more severe as Anwar Ibrahim is like a chameleon, changing colours whenever it suits him.

The world as well as Malaysia lauds Al Gore’s efforts to combat global warming but playing the worn geo-political game of propping up stooges in foreign countries will just serve to damage his credibility.

If Anwar Ibrahim has nothing to hide and hasn’t committed any offence against the laws of Malaysia, then he has nothing to worry about. Although it is known that he has made public certain allegations against the impartiality of the judiciary, it is the same judiciary that acquitted him of sodomy on a technicality. Therefore, one wonders whether the recent disparaging comments made by foreign individuals about Malaysia is the direct result of Anwar Ibrahim complaining to them and inviting them to exert pressure on the Malaysian government to subvert the process and rule of law in order to allow him to continue with his ambitions to become the next Prime Minister – however surreal that may be. This then begs the question whether Anwar Ibrahim will surrender our sovereignty as a nation and sell out the Rakyat’s interest if, however unlikely it may be, he were to become Prime Minister."


Notes: Mukhriz issued the statement yesterday in his capacity as chairman of the International and NGO relations Bureau of the Malaysian Umno Youth Movement.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Pahang Sultan and Umno politics

Rakyat before politics. Last night, during a closed-door meeting with over 1,000 Umno leaders at his palace, the Sultan of Pahang expressed concern with the manner issues concerning the position of the Malays and the status of Islam are being dealt with.

The Sultan said that while he had no interest meddling with Umno politics, he would like to gently remind the Umno leaders not to let their politics, especially the party elections in December, to take precedence over the pressing issues facing the Malays and Islam.

I was told that the Sultan of Pahang also touched on issues facing Malaysians in general, the state of the economy and the welfare of the people.

He did not -- I repeat, he did not -- make any request or demand that the Umno leaders from Pahang nominate a certain name for a certain post at the party's election in December.

"Whoever you elect as leader, shall lead," the Sultan was said to have said.

Who said MP was detained under ISA?

I read on Nuraina's blog that PKR's Member of Parliament Zulkifli Noordin, who played a role in Saturday's angry protest against Bar Council's "Conversion" forum, was not being detained under the Internal Security Act. She cited a Bernama article quoting the Deputy IGP that the police will investigate blogs said to have published news of the detention.
I reported here that Zul had been picked up around midnight by the police. My calls and sms-es to Zul were not returned. Anybody knows where the YB is?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

For the love of the Jalur Gemilang

I thoroughly agree with Sheih (Kickdefella) that Malaysia is a nation in distress ... However, I decided against flying the flag upside down for my own reasons ... - Tehsin Mukhtar of Me Only Better
Not flying it upside down. On Aug 3, Sheih launched a campaign to fly the Jalur Gemilang upside down as a symbol of the People's Frustration and a signal that the nation is in distress. Several blogs quickly declared their support for this cyber-strike.

But some of them have since changed their minds. They found out that they didn't have the heart to do it.

Pasquale of Barking Magpie is one of them:
"I can sense something that I thought I will never feel again. There are a lot of you morons out there that truly love your country very much. Then by all mean defend it people! .... So here is our beloved Flag!"
On Aug 5, the day I put up my own posting, Engku Emran of Between My Legs, a n old buddy and a new kid on the blog, called me up. He said he was disturbed by the whole upside-down flag business. We met at the Press Club that night to talk about the Jalur Gemilang.

Afterwards, he made a posting here that captures his pain:
"some bloggers have put up our beloved jalur gemilang upside down on their blogs as a sign of cyber-strike...apparently it is also the global code of distress signal...i was and still am terribly disturbed by this recent development...not by their actions (doesn't mean im for it though) but for the very fact that i care for the well being of all...again pls don't get me wrong here as the last thing i want is to mislead any1... I just need to get it off my chest thats all...good nite Malaysia..."
My own posting here drew well over 130 comments; easily more than 90 per cent were strongly against the idea of flying the flag upside-down as a sign of protest.

The overwhelming objection didn't come as a surprise. In early July, when I launched my own cyber-strike not all my blogger bros and sisters were supportive of my action or sympathietic with the reasons for going on the 48-hour strike (which were the same very reasons that compelled Sheih to launch his upside-down flag campaign).

Marina Mahathir and Wong Chun Wai went on strike even before I did as they were fed-up with the way politicians were treating the people and how things were going for the economy. But the two, especially Marina, had even less sympathy from som e fellow bloggers (please read Wattahack's Oh! How Hate Blinds Thee!).

I have decided to fly the Jalur Gemilang, full-stop. I will fly it not upside down nor half-mast, but the way it's supposed to be flown. Like Tehsin and Pasquale and Engku Emran (and Marina, Wong Chun Wai and Wattahack), I agree with Sheih that we are a nation in trouble. I won't go on another strike to prove that point because I believe I've proven my point.

For me, Sheih has proven his point and I hope that on August 31, when our nation celebrates her 51st Merdeka, we'll fly the flag together. Not upside down, not half-mast.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Who stopped the Conversion forum?

Updates, 3 am Sunday 10th Aug 2008: According to blogger A Voice, YB Zulkifli Noordin was picked up by the cops about midnight for his role in the protest against the Bar Council forum. In his last posting on Aug 9 at 9.31 pm, the PKR MP for Kulim- Bandar Baharu says it's time a Muslim lawyer heads the Bar Council. Read here.

Picture from The Star Online
Original post
Bar Council aborts forum after police "advice".
Last night, Syed Hamid told the Bar to be ready to face the consequences of holding the forum. The Bar seems to have heeded the Home Minister's warning (see article below).

According to Malaysiakini, some 300 protesters (1,000 people by 9.30am, according to Bernama) had gathered outside the hall. The TV3 news at noon showed some of the protesters angry faces. Scary.

Are WE prepared for the consequences of such a discourse on Islam? Apparently, we are not.

Should the Bar have gone ahead with the forum in the first place? Should it have held it when we are more ready, like after they've held equally controversial forums on other religions? Or, perhaps, after the Pakatan Rakyat has formed the Government? Would PR be more tolerant of such a discussion on Islam?



General August 09, 2008 11:28 AM
"Conversion To Islam" Forum Ends Early


KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 ( Bernama) -- The Bar Council held its controversial "Conversion to Islam" forum today despite opposition from various parties but ended it earlier than scheduled.

Midway through the forum, Bar Council president Datuk S Ambiga took to the stage and told those present that the police had advised them to wrap up the forum by 10am.

The forum at the Bar Council office in Lebuh Pasar Besar started at 9am and was supposed to end at 1.30pm.

At 10am, Ambiga formally announced that the forum was closed.

"We respect everybody's views. We have no quarrel with anyone and I call the forum closed," she said.

Meanwhile, the 100-odd people, including those from Islamic non-governmental organisations who had gathered outside the venue to voice their protest had swollen to 1,000 by 9.30am.

About 80 policemen were deployed to handle security in the area.

-- BERNAMA

Friday, August 08, 2008

Blogger stands by posting, apologises for "stupid mistake"

Bakaq released! Abu Bakar Mohd Rashid, 50, who runs the blog Penarik Beca, has been released by the police. He walked out of the CCID hq in KL about 5.30pm, nearly 40 hours after he had been picked up from his home on Wednesday night.

The blogger said he was being investigated him under Section 4 (1) of the Sedition Act, which deals with the act of republishing materials which are seditious in nature.

The material in question is the police crest that accompanies his posting Kenapa Tak Saman Raja Petra? (which I am not going to reproduce here for obvious reasons).

Bakaq told me he will stand by the contents of his posting. "I defended my posting during the police interrogation and I will defend it again and again".

But of the crest, Bakaq expressed regret.
"I would like to say that I regret putting the crest there. It was wrong, a stupid mistake. I would like to tender my sincere apology to the whole police force.

"I defended and still defend what I wrote but since the first moment they hauled me in, I've said without any reservation that I regretted having copied-and-pasted the image."
The police crest has a tiger at the centre; in the crest that Bakaq republished in his blog, the tiger is replaced by the image of a dog. The word "Allah" (in Arabic) on the top right hand corner of the crest has been replaced by "$" and the word "Muhammed" (also in Arabic) by "C4".

Bakaq said he intends to bring down the image (but not the posting) from his blog, "but I don't have my computer". The cops took away his desktop, sound box, etc when they picked him up.

p.s. The National Alliance of Bloggers and the Centre of Policy Initiatives issued a joint press statement this afternoon calling for the release of the blogger. That press statement has now been overtaken by events, but my gratitude to Dr Lim Teck Ghee and my bro Desi for the initiative. Click here to read the press release.

I would also like to thank Bakaq. His unreserved regret about republishing the defaced crest has compelled me to review my earlier stand on how we should/should not treat the crest.

Blogger arrested for doing a doggy

The Inspector-General of Police told reporters in Kuala Lumpur a while ago that the blogger Penarik Beca or Bakaq is being investigated for "humiliating" the police force.

How did Bakaq humiliate the force? The blogger apparently transformed the TIGER on the police emblem into a DOG!

I don't agree with the act of doggying the cops that way. Like the hippies calling the police PIGS in. Like most of you who are unhappy with some bloggers' decision to raise an inverted flag on Merdeka as a sign of protest.

But is it seditious?

As I see it, Bakaq's detention is another example of police over-reaction. Bakaq's defaced emblem is nothing compared with the missing RM1 million syabu stolen while in the cops' possession in Johor Bahru this week, to cite just one latest example.

The decision to pick him up in the middle of the night did more damage to the police force than a hundred of Bakaq's worst postings on the cops.

I would like to appeal to the IGP to release Bakaq immediately, without charge, and use the feedback given on blogs and on the Net to improve the image of the Force.

There are many Malaysians out there who still hold the police in high esteem, so don't piss them off (or let them down).

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Another blogger detained in Malaysia

The pro-PAS blogger Penarik Beca, or Bakaq to friends, was picked up by cops from his home in KL just before midnight yesterday.

They also took away his computer, I was told.

A group of bloggers will be at the CCID hq (the old PM's Department near Bank Negara) at 2pm to protest the detention.

Here in Singapore, news about blogger in Malaysia remains a subject that fascinates people. My prayers for Bakaq.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Anwar: I hold Abdullah Badawi responsible

6 AUGUST 2008, PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA
 
This morning the Malaysian Election Commission announced nomination and polling day for the by-election that I will contest in Permatang Pauh. I look forward to the campaign period to meet with voters in my home constituency.   I invite all Malaysians to join me in this historic campaign to bring forth a New Dawn for Malaysia as we work together to build a more peaceful and prosperous nation.
 
At the same time we would reiterate our longstanding concerns about the integrity of the electoral process.  To this date, the evidence of phantom voters and ballot box stuffing has yet to be addressed by the Election Commission.  The poor handling of the use of indelible ink in the General Elections gives all Malaysians, particularly those in Permatang Pauh, reason to be concerned about the conduct of polling this month.  I urge the Election Commission to take this opportunity to restore some credibility to its reputation by fulfilling its constitutional mandate to ensure that voting is fair and unbiased.
 
 
On a darker note, I regret to say that I fear an enormous injustice is about to be perpetrated upon the Malaysian people, worse than those actions taken in 1988 and 1998 which rendered almost irreparable harm against the institutions of democracy and the rule of law.  While some individuals suffered greatly by those actions, the Malaysian people have been the greatest losers. 
 
Tomorrow I will be charged with a crime I did not commit.  The real criminals will, in their efforts to humiliate me and to derail the people's aspirations for transformational change in Malaysia, hide behind a smokescreen created by the government controlled mainstream media.
 
This travesty of justice will take place.  It will happen with the active support and the criminal involvement of the highest echelons of the police and politicians—including the office of the Prime Minister.
 
We have been informed that the Attorney General's chambers has advised against charging me after having studying the investigation papers. Despite its views, some individuals within the Police have insisted on pursuing this case even though the legal professionals in the AG's Chambers take a different view.
 
The evidence proves that the accuser lied in his initial report. He has been seen to be working in close collaboration with the police, notably his meeting with SAC2 Rodwan who was working hand in hand with Musa Hassan to conspire against me in 1998.  Other witnesses in this matter have been threatened and harassed in order to fabricate evidence. Doctors appear to have been pressured to violate all norms of medical ethics. Senior Ministers, in their comments about the case, have demonstrated their consistent interference in the investigation.
 
We are also informed that some individuals within the Prime Minister's close circles are adamant about pursuing this case.  Their involvement further undermines the credibility of the case and proves that the entire conspiracy hatched against me is politically motivated.
 
Today the Prime Minister faces a crisis of confidence.  His approval ratings have plummeted since the March elections and senior members of the Barisan Nasional have joined Pakatan Rakyat in droves.  The economy under his abysmal management has reached its lowest ebb in decades and all signs point to further weakening.   And just yesterday prominent UMNO members have initiated an investigation into his own involvement in corruption and money politics.  This is a man under siege – and he sees no way out but to deflect the attention of the Malaysian people with a sham trial against me. 
 
He is now burning the forest to save his own tree!
 
I have thus far constrained my criticism of the Prime Minister to his failed policies and general incompetence in leading the nation. But now it is clear that his vendetta against those who would seek his early dismissal from office knows no boundaries and will transgress all limits of the rule of law.
 
I hold the Prime Minister personally responsible for the damage that is about to be done to the nation and to the integrity and dignity of the Malays.
 
Our international standing, recently lambasted by prominent leaders from around the world, will plummet even further.  Overseas investors are already deeply skeptical about Malaysia on account of its reputation for deeply engrained corruption and economic inefficiency. They will certainly be further dissuaded from any further activity in Malaysia. The continued decline in the economy will lead to greater unemployment and rampant stagflation. 
 
I will fight this with the hope and energy of the people who have supported reformasi in Malaysia. I will not allow this cowardly attack to derail Pakatan Rakyat's agenda for change. Insha'Allah we will win in Permatang Pauh.  Insha'Allah we will win convincingly. I look forward to joining my colleagues in the Parliament to prepare for the historic transition that the country is eagerly awaiting. 
 
ANWAR IBRAHIM

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Our beloved is in extreme danger!


Flying the flag upside down. Sheih of Kickdefella asked me a while ago what I thought if he was to launch a campaign to state our despair and our frustrations as a people. I told him that I will join him. I have said I am fed up with our politicians' preoccupation with politics, politics and more politics. I went on cyber-strike recently to say how fed up I was. I still am, like Sheih still is:
"... it is the nation who is in distress. We are facing economic uncertainty and the citizens are facing all sorts of difficulties facing it. We are losing our competitive edge and we are losing our territories too." - Sheih Azidi
Click H E R E to find out who are displaying the Jalur Gemilang upside down as a sign of distress.

NOTE: Displaying the flag upside down is internationally accepted to denote extreme distress. It is not a sign of disrespect for the flag. Read here.
Updated 3.15 pm: A commenter said it is an offence to display the flag upside down in India. Please read here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

ACA report against PM on money politics

Umno against money politics. At 9.30 tomorrow morning, Mazlan Harun is expected to lodge a report with the Anti-Corruption Agency against Umno president and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi in relations to alleged money politics.

Illegal gathering. Before that, around 9 am, some Umno veterans are expected to gather at the Dataran Merdeka before proceeding to lodge the report.

Read Umno bloggers' posts on this here and here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Leave politics to the politicians ...

One morning at Istana Pelangi.
I was present when a group of Malay non-governmental organisations met with the TMJ weeks after the elections to request that he address an all-Malay convention.

The theme of the convention was to safeguard Malay rights. The TMJ was expected to assure the Malays in Johor of their survival in the face of the stronger opposition.

The TMJ curtly told the delegation to leave politics to the politicians.

"The Malay Rulers are responsible for all Malaysians. The Chinese, the Indians and other non-Malays ... What about their survival and their rights? They are our citizens, too."
The above are excerpts of my latest piece for Singapore's mypaper. You may read the full article here. Earlier in the same week that I wrote this:
Bakri Musa has written a piece on the Terengganu Sultan in The Courage to be Different;
Leslie Lopez wrote, basically on Raja Nazrin of Perak, in Royals start to flex their Muscle (read blogger Headliner's comments as well); and
Tehsin Mokhtar had something to say to the Agong in Message for Tuanku Mizan.

As politics become more celaru in the coming months, we'll be reading and hearing more about the Royalty ...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Malaysian headhunter in London

I sometimes wonder if I'd ever let the kids go abroad to study. There are just too many horror stories. This latest one, sent by a reader in Britain, involves one Noor Azura Mohd Yusof, of Ealing, a 22-year old Malaysian prostitute.

Read the article here.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Mr Not-So-Nice Guy

Abdullah Badawi's popularity has dipped to its lowest since becoming Prime Minister in 2003, according to a Merdeka Centre quarterly survey.

Once popularly known as Mr Nice Guy and Mr Clean, Abdullah's popular ratings slumped to 28 per cent from a score of 68 just before the General Elections in March.


His economic policies, especially the 41-63% fuel price increases, were blamed for his new-found unpopularity.

The ratings sure won't help as Abdullah leads the BN to the Mother of By-Elections within two months in Permatang Pauh, the stage for Anwar Ibrahim's comeback bid to Parliament.

I'm not clear if the sodomy charge against Anwar is also a reason for Abdullah's unpopularity.

It's interesting to note, though, that the same survey found that 55% of the respondents DID NOT believe Anwar committed sodomy.

The rest of the respondents were mostly unsure, but 11% were convinced that Anwar did it.

Check the survey out at www.merdeka.org