Friday, January 20, 2012

The Judiciary hasn't really changed: THE CASE OF ROSLI DAHLAN

by Din Merican

When Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of Sodomy II on January 9, there was stunned reaction nationwide. Numerous interpretations came about, not least that this was the Politics of the Prosecution (or “Persecution” to be more apt).

Senior Lawyer Tommy Thomas wrote a most eloquent piece titled “Why was Anwar Ibrahim acquitted?” and suggested that Sodomy II was all about politics, and nothing but politics. That this was gutter politics of a new meaning where no political leaders across the globe had been the victim of such dirty state politics as Anwar.

Thus, the decision to acquit Anwar was about the Politics of Acquittal, that the trial judge did not actually make the decision himself, but it was in reality a political decision. That is the perception of most Malaysians (including lawyers) that in “political” cases the Courts are not independent of the Executive.

Tommy Thomas (left) suggested that one way to analyse judicial independence is by reviewing the trial judge’s overall conduct and he concluded that the judge’s acquittal was a U-turn of massive proportions which contradicted all his prior rulings against Anwar during the trial.

Malaysians shouldn’t be euphoric in heralding the dawn of a new era in judicial independence and that “Anwar’s acquittal will not be the harbinger of better things to come from the judiciary. One swallow does not make a summer!”

The Case of Rosli Dahlan: Gross Injustice and Victimisation of a Professional

That was indeed just one swallow if we are to judge the judiciary by the case of my dear young friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan. Readers would remember that the MACC brutalised Rosli for defending Dato Ramli Yusuff, the former CCID Director, who was fixed by the Unholy Trinity- former IGP Musa Hassan, the MACC and AG Gani Patail.

Dato Ramli Yusuff and Rosli Dahlan had exposed Musa Hassan’s complicity in the Ah Long syndicate and also the Malaysian Airline Systems (MAS) Scandal involving its former chairman Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli. Both Ramli and Rosli were fixed so that these matters can be canned.

Recently, the MAS Scandal resurfaced when Minister in the PM’s Dept, Dato Seri Nazri Aziz, directed several GLCs including MAS to sack their lawyers and appoint the UMNO lawyer Datuk Hafarizam Harun (see the BN and UMNO logos proudly displayed on this firm’s website at: so that the cases against Tajudin can be closed.

MAS Issue unresolved--Why?

Speculation is rife that Tajudin Ramli is protected because he has damaging information about UMNO leaders in the plundering of the national airlines. MAS was at the brink of bankruptcy if not for the WAU (Widespread Asset Unbundling) scheme that allowed MAS to soar again. And the MAS/Air Asia deal is now viewed with grave suspicion as a repeat of all past misconducts which was why Rosli got into trouble with Dato’ Ramli in the first place.

In order to fix Rosli, the MACC served on him an invalid notice to declare his assets whereas he had never been a civil servant and was just a private sector lawyer. Although Rosli replied to that notice and declared his asset under protest, still the MACC brutally arrested him and charged him in a most humiliating and sensational way just one day before Hari Raya of 2007.

Rosli then filed an application in the Civil High Court called a Judicial Review to declare that what the MACC did was wrong. The A-G Chambers took a technical argument that the invalidity of the notice cannot be raised by Judicial Review but should be raised during the trial in the criminal court. On the other hand, during both Rosli’s and Ramli’s criminal trials, the A-G Chambers argued that the invalid notice cannot be challenged in the criminal case but should be challenged by Judicial Review in the civil courts. Clearly, AG Gani Patail is being dishonest by blowing hot and cold.

Eventually, Sessions Judges M. Gunalen and Abu Bakar Katar held that the notices against Dato Ramli and Rosli Dahlan were invalid and unlawful which means the MACC fixed them up! It is amazing that A-G Gani Patail has filed appeals against the acquittals of Dato’ Ramli and Rosli whereas there is total lethargy to prosecute Tajudin Ramli in the MAS scandal, Shahrizat Jalil in the NFC scandal, and Awang Adek for openly admitting that he received money and gratification in his personal account. And former Tourism Minister and incumbent MP Azalina Othman Said who recently admitted to accepting a bribe.

From my friends in the Palace of Justice, I heard that Rosli’s appeal for leave to file the Judicial Review came up in the Court of Appeal yesterday 19th January before Justices KN Segara, Clement Skinner and Anantham Kasinather. To save AG Gani Patail (right) from embarrassment for his inconsistent stand, these Court of Appeal Judges said that Rosli’s appeal was academic as he was already acquitted by the Sessions Court and forced the appeal to be withdrawn.

Hearing all these from my friends in the Palace of Justice made me very sad. Tommy Thomas was right that nothing has really changed, that it is too early to expect better things from the judiciary. The bully and underhand tactics used against Rosli is revolting to me.

I asked Rosli for tea with some friends to see if he was alright. Unlike previously, this time, Rosli did not try to avoid me. He seemed calm and collected when I tried to console him. There was a tinge of sadness in his eyes which he tried to hide by his charming dimpled smile.

Despite all my goading, he refused to talk about his case. When I asked what he planned to do next, he laughed and jestingly quoted Anwar’s war cry – “Lawan Tetap Lawan!”

That was enough for me to know that Rosli has the resolve to continue fighting on for the justice that was robbed off him.

I agree with Tommy Thomas that Anwar’s acquittal provides the best opportunity for the electorate to have a clear choice as to which coalition should be given the privilege of governing Malaysia for the next five years. A true two-party system must occur this time.

If we are to have true change and justice for all, then there must be a political tsunami that will change the landscape like the Malay proverb “Sekali air bah, sekali pantai berubah!”.

Hasan Ali does a Political Mambo

by Terence

COMMENT Every now and then a political party is wracked by the problems caused by a stormy petrel. The recalcitrant is born, not made, so a degree of prescience about when and how to put out the nuisance is to be greatly valued though rare to find.

It is now PAS' turn to feel the heat generated by the decision to expel its former Selangor state executive councillor Hasan Ali (left). The man is not going to go gently into the night; he is determined to cause as much damage as possible.

Though he does not have much support, as evidenced by the lack of nominations from the PAS branches in the state ward in which he was elected, he can count on Umno-wallahs to give him the publicity and audience for his rants.

PAS has gotten rid of him but must live for some time with the consequences of its decision to excise the gangrene from its body.

Hasan is not like Zulkifli Nordin, the former PKR MP who spelt trouble for the party early in his tenure as the representative for the parliamentary seat of Kulim Bandar-Baru. PKR were tardy in chopping him when they had the chance to in the later part of 2008, after Zulkifli had been flagrant in violating its ideological principles when he barged into a Bar Council-organised seminar on religious conversions.

A chop in time saves the chopping party much public mortification; delay emboldens the recalcitrant to go ballistic with his "I'm the wronged one" theatrics. Zulkifli, unlike Hasan, is a small fry; so the consequences of the delay in getting rid of him were not too costly to PKR.

In contrast, Hasan is a man with the gravitas of a long-established reputation as a motivational expert. Reading him wrong means one is saddled with the consequences a long time after one realises the depth of one's misreading.

Hasan's appetite for power

Hasan's ambition was stoked when he was consulted by UMNO's Mohd Khir Toyo on the possibility of a coalition government between UMNO and PAS in Selangor as results came in on the night of March 8, 2008, that the opposition had won control of the state.

Khir was trying to forestall the formation of a PKR-led administration by propositioning Hasan, who was the PAS commissioner for Selangor, about an UMNO-PAS coalition. The talks reputedly broke down over Hasan's insistence that he be the Menteri Besar in such an eventuality.

The next morning PKR's Khalid Ibrahim unwittingly whetted Hasan's appetite for power further by offering him the Deputy Menteri Besar's position in a PKR-led government. After that Hasan was unstoppable, much like a shark with the scent of blood in the water: he was often a source of dissidence in the state administration led by Khalid.

pkr taman ehsan selayang ceramah 020810 hasan aliHasan, who held the Islamic affairs portfolio, took perverse pleasure in being at odds with the rest of the Selangor state government.

This he flagrantly demonstrated in the incursion of Jais (Selangor Islamic Affairs Department) into a charity dinner function hosted at the Damansara Utama Methodist Centre in August last year.

Before the initially confused matters of the incursion could settle down into something like clarity, Hasan went public with his alarums about Christian proselytisation of Muslims having occurred at the dinner.

This was a leap that turned out to be unsustainable by the facts, but that mattered little to the PAS legislator. Hasan was not only unconstrained in raising the alarm about Christian proselytisation of Muslims - this despite a lack of evidence that this had actually occurred at DUMC and elsewhere in the country - he went to make common cause with Himpun, a body that was hastily formed to campaign against the supposed threat.

More than a torn in PAS' flesh

When it transpired that PAS wasn't going to go along with the storm fomented by Himpun with an assist from Hasan over alleged Christian proselytisation, the alarmist was unfazed. Hasan persisted in his synthetic cause and with that he became not just an embarrassment to the party but a wound in its flesh.

That wound became an abscess when Hasan fulminated against Pakatan Rakyat supremo Anwar Ibrahim's, predicament in the immediate prelude to the verdict to be delivered on Sodomy II.

The PAS central committee's surgical decision to bring Hasan's brazen run of dissidence to an end with his expulsion was the response of a party that knew any further forbearance towards would convert a torn in its flesh into a dagger at its heart.

The combined lessons of the Zulkifli Nordin (left) episode in PKR and the Hasan Ali imbroglio in PAS would support the conclusion that some prescience is needed when assessing the character of a refractory member. There are nuances to recalcitrance, the more brazen shades compounded of vaulting ambition and self-appointment as guardians of some confession.

The latter shades are recipes for recalcitrance morphing quickly into rebellion. Good discernment is necessary for an assessment of the threat and a surgical decision is imperative once the menace threatens to go overboard. Pakatan's attitude towards its dissidents should be - dissent yes, insurrection no.

Can Umno Change or Cows Fly?

By Kee Thuan Chye

UMNO is beyond redemption. At its general assembly in December, the message it sent out was suspicion of others and hatred for them, and a desperate desire to win the next general election.

Its President, Najib Razak, once again proved what many of us have long suspected – that he is a dissembler. He exposed the ultimate lie behind his 1Malaysia slogan by saying things that would divide the races rather than bring them together. He set the trend for delegates at the assembly to harp on the threats to UMNO from other races. It was disgraceful coming from the prime minister of the country. It was supremely irresponsible.

Worse, two days after the assembly ended, he appealed to the right-wing NGO Pertubuhan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Pekida) for support. This has to be the final nail in the 1Malaysia coffin.

To cap it all, UMNO showed its partiality to cronyism by defending Wanita leader Shahrizat Abdul Jalil over the scandal surrounding her family’s business, the National Feedlot Corporation. One or two colleagues called for her to step down, but the overwhelming majority stood by her and castigated the Opposition for exposing the scandal.

This begs the question: Can UMNO change? As the major party in the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, can it truly stand up for other races as well, and work for their well-being? Can it stay clear of corrupt practices? Can it stop dishing out favours and projects to party leaders and their cronies? Can it save Malaysia from financial meltdown or will it rather bleed our coffers dry?

The online news website The Malaysian Insider sums it up eloquently: “UMNO looks set to win the polls in the next general election but yet looks woefully ill-equipped to lead a multi-racial country. … One expects delegates to articulate a vision to continue its previous success but that did not happen. Instead, delegates harped on age-old themes of having their culture and faith eroded by political foes taking over the country. That they are the only guarantee of faith and culture. What about the economy? What about the reforms? What about Malaysia? … Everything is centred around UMNO... But they didn’t articulate the vision for continued success. … Instead, everyone is at fault except those in UMNO.”

And yet Najib could tell Pekida: “If we miscalculate and choose the wrong side, our country could very much end up like Greece.” Surely, he must mean that the wrong side would be BN. The way it has been going – awarding projects to cronies who have no track record; continuing to allow overpriced purchases by government departments, despite what the Auditor-General uncovers year after year; giving out money like there’s no tomorrow in order to win votes, such as the substantial pay rise for civil servants – BN is more likely to lead us down that way.

The civil service is bloated, with 1.4 million employees, but Najib criticised Pakatan Rakyat (PR) for suggesting it should be trimmed. According to his top public service official, 1.4 million is “the right size”. How this is so puzzles me. Japan has a population of 127 million and its civil servants number just over a million. We have a population of 28 million and our civil service is as large as Japan’s. It seems to me that trimming down the civil service is more likely to save us from going Greek.

And so I think we should not take any more risks with UMNO. Especially now that we have an alternative. PR has shown itself capable of running the four states under it and earned positive ratings from the Auditor-General and a few others. It’s time to see whether they can bring reform to the country.

Najib of course insists that PR will lead us to our doom, but what are his words worth anyhow?At the UMNO general assembly last December, he presented a grossly untruthful picture of the DAP to strike fear into the hearts of the Malays. He accused the party of being anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-royalty.

But after PAS won Terengganu in the 1999 general election, who stopped the state that is 90 per cent populated by Malays from getting its oil royalties and substituted it with the lesser Wang Ehsan? Was it the DAP?

Who created a constitutional crisis in 1983 and curtailed the powers of the Malay royalty? Was it the DAP? In 2008, who protested against the Terengganu sultan for not accepting Idris Jusoh as the menteri besar, and insulted His Highness with the word “natang” (animal)? Was it the DAP?

Who gave away citizenships overnight to immigrants, legal and illegal, in Sabah to ensure they kept UMNO there in power? Was it the DAP? So where is the truth in Najib’s warning that if BN did not continue to be the government, the Malays would be under threat? Who has proven to be the real threat?

But still, he called on Pekida “to defend the current government” – to guarantee the special position of the Malays, the dignity of Islam, the preservation of the Malay royalty. He thumped his chest and yelled, “We are warriors!” and “We will not surrender even an inch!” He led the crowd in cries of “Hidup Melayu!

Someone was moved to comment on Facebook, “Listening to what Najib said, it feels like we’re at war.” A knowing friend warns me: “Do you know what Pekida is about? They are like gangsters. They have secret codes, like particular handshakes or the way they hold their cigarettes. They have 2 million members. These are the people we should worry about.”

Indeed, when the film KL Gangster came out last year [2011], Pekida objected to its portrayal of secret codes and use of words like “abang long” and “ayahanda” that apparently cut too close to reality.

This prompted blogger Ibnu Hasyim to ask, “Apakah benar kononnya filem itu membuka ‘kod rahsia pertubuhan’ Pekida? … Terkejut kita, apakah pertubuhan dakwah itu pun mempunyai ciri-ciri pertubuhan bawah tanah atau gangster? Pekida adalah Gangster Melayu? Perlukah pertubuhan itu disiasat polis? Mana ada dakwah dan kebajikan pakai ‘kod rahsia’ pertubuhan?” (Is it true that the film apparently exposed ‘secret organisational codes’ of Pekida? … We are shocked, does this missionary organisation have the characteristics of an underworld or gangster organisation? Pekida are Malay Gangsters? Should the police investigate this organisation? Why would missionary and welfare organisations use ‘secret codes’?)

Najib’s appeal to Pekida and his words at the UMNO General Assembly spell desperation. That’s clear to see because UMNO has no case left to make for its continued rule. News of its corruption is bursting out. Soon after the general assembly ended, the Singapore Straits Times reported that ex-menteri besar Abdul Hamid Pawanteh was involved in the Alstom bribery case. He has, however, denied it.

Earlier, questions had been raised about Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi allegedly flying to Saudi Arabia for his haj in a private jet, and about “ridiculously overpriced” rural development projects in Sabah allegedly linked to senior BN politicians. The worms are crawling out of the can.

UMNO cannot defend itself. So it lashes out at enemies. It fabricates untruths about its enemies. Sadly – and sickeningly – UMNO resorts to rousing tribal emotions and harping on the issues of race and religion. After 54 years in power, it still plays those explosive cards.

As the blogger Sakmongkol AK47 puts it: “UMNO gets on by making Malays believe that they are being besieged, attacked, assaulted and victimized. That’s how UMNO can survive. How does it do that? By fabricating lies and manufacturing stories. The Chinese are going to eat you up. The Chinese are going to Christianize you. They are going to wipe out the Sultans, ban the use of Bahasa Malaysia, and abolish Jawi and so forth. You feed on people’s irrational fear. You want to maintain stupid and mute people. Can you sustain whole people like that, turning people into xenophobes? I say this is a recipe for destroying Malays, not cultivating them to become self-confident people.”

UMNO has been doing that for decades. It has not evolved. So how can it change? How can such a party still be allowed to rule multiracial, multi-religious, multi-cultural Malaysia? If we continue to vote for UMNO (and Barisan Nasional) it at the next general election, what would that make us? Dumb and dumber?

Ambassador Malott on recent Political Developments in Malaysia

Chronicle: 1. Firstly, the hottest Question in town still remains, why did Najib pull back from a conviction (of Anwar Ibrahim) ? Most Malaysians believe in a conspiracy but not an independent judiciary as BN has claimed. The story around town is that the Judge had already written a conviction judgment and had to make do with a verbal acquittal that lasted all of 60 seconds. Do you see internal UMNO power play in this, was Najib fearful for his own legacy and how he will be remembered if he were to adopt a 'hardline' approach on this issue?

Malott: I don’t have a clue why the Judge ruled the way he did. It really was surprising. There are so many well-documented reports of political interference and misuse of the judicial system. For example, not just Anwar but also the case of Ramli Yusoff and the failure to seriously investigate and prosecute the deaths that occurred at MACC. Earlier in the trial, this Judge reversed his own decision on whether the DNA taken from the comb and towel that Anwar used in jail was admissible, and it seems clear there was pressure on him to do so. Otherwise, why would he reverse himself? But now he ruled in Anwar’s favor. It was a shock. As I said in my op-ed, the government might have decided that Anwar was a bigger threat to them in jail because he would be a rallying point for the opposition. We can all speculate, but only the judge knows why he did what he did.

Chronicle: 2. Perhaps the answer to (1) will have a bearing on this second Question. Do you think that the Najib administration will push for an appeal? If it does, what will it do to Najib's and the Malaysian government's reputation, the country's image to investors? Will the repercussions be deep and long-lasting given global corporate captains such as Richard Branson have already expressed exasperation and obvious disgust over the Anwar prosecution?

Malott: I think there will be a lot of pressure on Najib to appeal, coming from the hardliners in UMNO, who are afraid of what will happen if the opposition comes to power. Gani Patail and the prosecutors also have lost face, so they might be inclined to want to appeal. Some people might think that they can find a more compliant Judge the next time. But the reaction not just from inside Malaysia but also from overseas will be strong if the (Malaysian) government appeals and puts Anwar and his family through this again.

Chronicle: 3. Given your familiarity with the Malaysian political scene and its players, after decades of monitoring the situation, what do you personally think Najib will do? Will he push for an appeal and why?

Malott: Personally, I think that Najib does not want to appeal. But Najib has always been a very weak leader. He talks a good game, but as the saying goes, he doesn’t walk the talk. He is under a lot of pressure. So he might just remain silent and let it happen, saying that the decision is up to the prosecution. There have been other times like this, like when he said “it is up to the Police” whether a demonstration can go forward. Are you in charge of your own government or not?

Chronicle: 4. If so, will it mean it's back to square One for Malaysia and Pakatan Rakyat? Also, what about Malaysian voters? Will it make them more inclined to boot out the BN? Or will it make them doubt Anwar again?

Malott: Somebody joked, never make predictions about the future. I don’t know what will happen. But I do think that 2012 will be the most important and also the most interesting time in Malaysia’s political history. That’s good for Malaysia Chronicle. You will have lots to write about !!

Chronicle: 5. From an outsider's view, what do you see happening inside UMNO? It is famous for intrigue and infighting. Have trends or scenarios evolved that even outsiders can see clearly the divisions forming, with distinct groups or factions emerging? If yes, who do you reckon are the main players in UMNO and what is their respective purpose?

Malott: I think it is clear that BN as a whole is no longer a strong political force. It is all about UMNO now. MCA and MIC have been emasculated and lost credibility with the Chinese and Indian communities. So the focus will turn to UMNO. In some ways, the struggle inside UMNO will be more important than the struggle between UMNO and PR. The hardliners, the right wing inside UMNO will become more vocal and anti-Najib. Mahathir, Muhyiddin, Hisham, Ibrahim Ali will all cause Najib even more trouble. Depending on how the political winds blow, some of the more moderates inside UMNO might decide to cross over, or be lukewarm in their support of UMNO, sit the election out and see what happens.

Look at Sakmongol (Dato Ariff Sabri). He kept trying to get UMNO back on track, and now he has joined DAP. It will be interesting to watch what Ku Li says and does and whether he finally concludes that there is no hope for reform inside UMNO.

Chronicle: 6. GE-13 date is also another factor that may be affected by the acquittal. Some say the aquittal pushes GE-13 forward but others including DAP's Lim Kit Siang thinks it is no longer March but June 2012. There are others who even think it may be after the UMNO internal polls later this year - perhaps in early 2013? What do you think and why?

Malott: I think that elections are more likely sooner rather than later. The longer UMNO waits, the more problems will come out, the longer the opposition will have to organize and campaign.

Chronicle: 7. In your article 'Testing Malaysia's Promises', you mentioned electoral reforms and the dirtiest GE-13 ever with the possibility of a return to the strong-arm tactics of Dr Mahathir. Since the July 9 Bersih rally and the formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee on reforms, as someone who has been watching the Malaysian situation, do you think enough is being done to ensure clean elections and swiftly enough too?

Malott: I don’t think anything has been done yet. All talk, no action. The point is, these reforms need to be put in place before the general elections are held, or the results will not be credible.

Chronicle: 8. So far, the proposed use of indelible ink has been approved, but are there many other hurdles? Would you be satisfied with current achievements of the PSC and the electoral reforms it has agreed to implement? And why?

Malott: I think the most important reform of all is to make sure that RTM and Bernama, which are owned by all the people of Malaysia, are fair and balanced in their reporting. Right now they act like they belong to UMNO and not the Government. The restrictions on distribution of the opposition’s newspapers also should be removed. The ruling parties and the opposition should be treated the same. That is the only fair way.

Chronicle: 9. Anwar has long been a friend of yours. This acquittal has been a tremendous boost for him - personally, for his family and for his legitimacy as a leader of the country. If the Najib administration pursues an appeal, do you think public sentiment will desert Anwar?

Or do you think Anwar has already navigated a tricky corner and is now able to fully push the Pakatan Rakyat towards victory in GE-13.

What are some of the benefits Anwar and Pakatan will reap from the acquittal and what will an appeal do to these?

Malott: It is true that my wife and I have become good friends with Anwar and Azizah, and I came to know all of his children so well during the time that they lived here in Washington DC. They are a wonderful family. But when I analyze Malaysian politics, I still wear my old diplomat’s hat and try to be observant and not let my personal feelings get in the way.

If the Government pursues an appeal against Anwar, it will strengthen the opposition in terms of public sentiment. It will tie up Anwar’s time in court, however, and make it harder for him to deal with issues inside the opposition and campaign, simply because he would have to deal with legal issues and sit in court all day.

I said that I do not like to make predictions, but I do believe that if electoral reforms are put in place, and the elections are fair, then the opposition most likely will come to power. They almost did it in 2008, with one hand tied behind their back. I say this as an analyst of Malaysian politics, and not because of any personal feelings.

Malaysia Chronicle

UMNO-BN bombs voters with Cash, says Former Cabinet Minister

A former Federal Minister from UMNO claimed today that cash was handed out in previous election campaigns in attempts to buy votes, a tactic known as “bomb”.

Tan Sri Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said in a forum today that he had experienced himself how cash handouts ranging from RM200 to RM1,000 was used in Barisan Nasional’s election campaigns to gain voter support.

“I have been the head of delegation of many campaigns and I have been given lump sums of money to distribute,” said the former Information Minister at the Malaysia Strategic Outlook Conference 2012 here. “It was a blatant use of money to buy votes.”

Tan Sri Kadir , who was also formerly the Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism, said that the word used for the strategy was called “bomb”.He added though that he personally didn’t use the money.

James Chin, who heads the School of Social Sciences at Monash University at Sunway, and who spoke at the forum after Abdul Kadir said that “bombing” was a very effective tool in Sabah and Sarawak.

During his presentation, Abdul Kadir said that while he still held positions in Umno, he wanted to remind them of the “Merdeka trust” — which meant giving the people the right to truly free and fair elections.

He also urged UMNO not to fear losing if it was sincere in its intentions. “If you lose accept it; people change governments all the time in US and Australia,” he said. “I am an UMNO man, I don’t mind if I lose. If you are there just to make millions for yourself and your cronies or if I have made my billions and am afraid I will be arrested after I lose power, then I will do all these tricks.”

“If you are sincere, you have nothing to fear,” he added.He said that to have free and fair elections, there must be equal access to the media and GLCs and government departments must be neutral.

“You must give them (the opposition) the freedom to have TV, radio and newspapers,” he said. “For 50 years, PAS has been asking for a newspaper licence but none given — the government is a big bully.”

He also said that during elections, Barisan Nasional should not be making use of the Ministry of Information, FELDA, FELCRA, the Special Branch and other federal agencies to support their campaign.

Abdul Kadir is also the Deputy President of non-partisan pro-unity NGO Angkatan Amanah Merdeka (Amanah) and executive chairman of the Sazean group.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maminco Tin Fiasco: IPOH transformed into a Ngar-Choy-Kai, thanks to Dr. Mahathir


The last time I met a friend who was born after the "Tin-bust", I asked him in jest, "Do you know what Ipoh's famous for?" He gave me a blank look.

Anyway, not wasting any time, I told him,"Tin Industry." "If there is no tin, Ipoh wouldn’t be here. It would be just another Orang Asli settlement. He squinted his eyes and responded, "Are you sure? I thought it was Ngar-Choy-Kai."

Thanks to Barisan Nasional for single-handedly transforming Ipoh from a rich and bustling Tin-City to a Ngar-Choy-Kai (Bean-Sprout with Chicken) industry. Ipoh never recovered from this fatal stroke of incompetence and greed to corner the World Tin Market. As a result of this, the once vibrant Tin Industry was totally wiped out.

Dr Mahathir leapt at the chance to gamble

It all started with a shady Egyptian tin trader by the name of David Zaidner. He worked for the commodities firm Marc Rich & Co in Switzerland. (I'll ask my children to remember their names!).

Actually, Zaidner first approached the Indonesian government thinking that they were stupid enough to buy his idea of cornering the tin market. But the Indonesians smelled a con job and had him kicked out of the country.

Next, he couldn't believe his lucky stars when his idea was accepted with enthusiasm by our then brand-new Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir. A plan was quickly hatched to corner the World Tin market.

In December 1980, the state-owned Malaysian Mining Corp. Bhd (MMC) named Marc Rich as its trading agent in a move that would shock the world commodities industry. Secret large tin purchases were made on the London Metal Exchange and went unabated throughout 1981, inducing a worldwide price increase. The strategy was cheap and simple. Malaysia had to only pay a 10 percent deposit against three-month's forward purchase contracts.

What a silly billy!

When the price of tin shot up in the world market, the Malaysian government thought it had scored a huge victory. But unexpectedly, the price increase attracted many world producers to increase tin production and even the United States began selling from its huge strategic stockpiles to take advantage of the Malaysian-induced price rises.

Subsequently, Malaysia amassed about 50,000 tons of tin and had no other choice but to keep buying just to keep prices up (being "shot-squeezed"). Production continued to soar and even unheard-of suppliers started to turn up to cash in on the high tin price. The world tin market went berserk and it crashed. (The Palm Oil market could face the same faith! - oh, maybe not, because FELDA-FELCRA are involved.)

Malaysia lost an estimated US$250 million on its failure to honour forward contracts, and another local bank lost another US$1 billion in separate losses on loans it had made covertly out of its Hong Kong subsidiary.

Refused to admit it

For five years Mahathir categorically denied that Malaysia had anything to do with the plan but as outside pressure mounted, Mahathir finally revealed the details in 1986. Marc Rich (right) was finally indicted and arrested then extradited to the United States and convicted of massive tax fraud (and pardoned subsequently by President Bill Clinton).

Think of the billions of ringgit taken out of our economy in Perak when the tin price went bust. Had Mahathir not meddled with the tin price, we wouldn't have lost 30 years of Tin export income. Perak wouldn't have been relegated from one of the richest states to a poor one like today.

Another good example akin to the Perak demise is Terengganu. If all the oil royalties go to the people of Terengganu, Terengganu would be an advanced state at par with Selangor. But unfortunately, these royalties go to the pockets of BN politicians and cronies in the form of “Duit Esan”.

"To all our children,... you must all remember them by their names ! "

This material was lifted from:

A Billion Ringgit Tin Mining Industry to Nga-Choy-Kai Industry - By Choo Sing Chye. Researched from Steven Schlossstein's book, Asia's New Little Dragons.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The 18 Or 20 Point Agreement Between Sarawak, Sabah & Malaya

The 18/20 Point Agreement

Point 1: Religion

While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia there should be no State religion in Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah), and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to Borneo.

Point 2: Language

a) Malay should be the national language of the Federation
b) English should continue to be used for a period of 10 years after Malaysia Day
c) English should be an official language of Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) for all purposes, State or Federal, without limitation of time.

Point 3: Constitution

Whilst accepting that the present Constitution of the Federation of Malaya should form the basis of the Constitution of Malaysia, the Constitution of Malaysia should be a completely new document drafted and agreed in the light of a free association of states and should not be a series of amendments to a Constitution drafted and agreed by different states in totally different circumstances. A new Constitution for Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) was of course essential.

Point 4: Head of Federation

The Head of State in Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) should not be eligible for election as Head of the Federation.

Point 5: Name of Federation

“Malaysia” but not “Melayu Raya”

Point 6: Immigration

Control over immigration into any part of Malaysia from outside should rest with the Central Government but entry into Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) should also require the approval of the State Government. The Federal Government should not be able to veto the entry of persons into Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) for State Government purposes except on strictly security grounds. Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) should have unfettered control over the movements of persons other than those in Federal Government employ from other parts of Malaysia Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah).

Point 7: Right of Secession

There should be no right to secede from the Federation

Point 8: Borneanisation

Borneanisation of the public service should proceed as quickly as possible.

Point 9: British Officers

Every effort should be made to encourage British Officers to remain in the public service until their places can be taken by suitably qualified people from Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah)

Point 10: Citizenship

The recommendation in paragraph 148(k) of the Report of the Cobbold Commission should govern the citizenship rights in the Federation of Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) subject to the following amendments:

a) sub-paragraph (i) should not contain the proviso as to five years residence
b) in order to tie up with our law, sub-paragraph (ii)(a) should read “7 out of 10 years” instead of “8 out of 10 years”
c) Sub-paragraph (iii) should not contain any restriction tied to the citizenship of parents – a person born in Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) after Malaysia must be federal citizen.

Point 11: Tariffs and Finance

Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) should retain control of its own finance, development and tariff, and should have the right to work up its own taxation and to raise loans on its own credit.

Point 12: Special position of indigenous races

In principle, the indigenous races of Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) should enjoy special rights analogous to those enjoyed by Malays in Malaya, but the present Malays’ formula in this regard is not necessarily applicable in Borneo(Sarawak & Sabah).

Point 13: State Government

a) the Prime Minister should be elected by unofficial members of Legislative Council
b) There should be a proper Ministerial system in Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah).

Point 14: Transitional period

This should be seven years and during such period legislative power must be left with the State of Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) by the Constitution and not be merely delegated to the State Government by the Federal Government.

Point 15: Education

The existing educational system of Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) should be maintained and for this reason it should be under state control.

Point 16: Constitutional safeguards

No amendment modification or withdrawal of any special safeguard granted to Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) should be made by the Central Government without the positive concurrence of the Government of the State of North Borneo

The power of amending the Constitution of the State of Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) should belong exclusively to the people in the state. (Note: The United Party, The Democratic Party and the Pasok Momogun Party considered that a three-fourth majority would be required in order to effect any amendment to the Federal and State Constitutions whereas the UNKO and USNO considered a two-thirds majority would be sufficient).

Point 17: Representation in Federal Parliament

This should take account not only of the population of Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah) but also of its size and potentialities and in any case should not be less than that of Singapore.

Point 18: Name of Head of State

Yang di-Pertua Negara.

Point 19: Name of State

Sarawak or Sabah.

Point 20: Land, Forests, Local Government, etc.

The provisions in the Constitution of the Federation in respect of the powers of the National Land Council should not apply in Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah). Likewise, the National Council for Local Government should not apply in Borneo (Sarawak & Sabah).

The Brisk Business of Corruption

by Jeswan Kaur (12-29-11)

One must beware of ministers who can do nothing without money and those who want to do everything with money– Indira Gandhi.

Corruption has become a way of life for politicians in this country. Under the disguise of defending the rakyat’s well-being, these unscrupulous politicians are in actual fact looking after the welfare of their own kith and kin.

This “C” (corruption) factor while a favourite among the politicians has become a menace and bane for the people, most whom have become exasperated at the after-effects of a corrupt system.

Earlier this month, the Transparency International Malaysia survey revealed that for the third consecutive year, Malaysia recorded a decline in its Corruption Perception Index score, its 4.3 score slightly lower than the 4.4 recorded in 2010 and much lower than the government benchmark of 4.9.

Is it fair to deduce that a lack of political will is the reason corruption in Malaysia is doing “brisk” business? If the recent cases of palm greasing involving politicians who also hold ministerial responsibilities are any indication, then yes, there is no commitment coming from the “powers that be” to weed out corruption from the system.

Nipping the malignant bud of corruption is not something the federal government is interested in. Instead, the government under the Barisan Nasional flagship is doing the reverse.

When Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak “unceremoniously” deported French human rights lawyer William Bourdon five months ago, Suara Rakyat Malaysia or Suaram was convinced that the premier and his government are “inextricably linked” with the Scorpene submarines corruption scandal.

Bourdon was representing Suaram in a high-profile case filed against submarines’ vendor DCN at the Parisian courts. (In 2002, Najib then the defence minister, sanctioned the purchase of the Scorpene submarines amid accusations of gross over-pricing and kickbacks).

“It is the biggest mistake yet by the Malaysian government for it is an affront to diplomacy, to international law and common decency. It was a totally arbitrary act by the Home Ministry and a gross abuse of executive power of the Najib administration,” Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel retorted via a statement on July 27, four days after Bourdon’s deportation.

‘Leadership by example’

Najib has since denied having had a hand in any financial impropriety in the submarines deal. Now, following in his wrong steps is the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil who is vehemently denying any involvement in the misappropriation of funds allotted to the National Feedlot Centre which is headed by her husband Mohamad Salleh Ismail and the couple’s children.

Details furnished by the opposition party PKR allege that Shahrizat and her family have misused the RM250 million meant for NFC by purchasing a luxury condominium in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur and another one in Singapore, a Mercedez Benz and an all-paid Umrah pilgrimage.

Pressure has been mounting on Shahrizat to quit serving the rakyat but no thanks to the nation’s top two leaders i.e. Najib and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin who are playing “godfathers” to her, the 58-year-old Shahrizat seems unfazed and is capitalising on her 16 years experience as a politician to cover up her tracks.

Najib thought deporting Bourdon would be the end of his worry, but not as far as Suaram is concerned, with this human right group going all out to pin the premier down.

Shahrizat should learn her lesson and own up before she is rejected by the people, “unceremoniously” that is.

Corruption thriving in Malaysia

The NFC scandal has become Shahrizat’s worst political nightmare. On Dec 23, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) raided the NFC office at Mont Kiara. A day earlier, the MACC set up a special team to investigate allegations of corruption involving NFC.

While the NFC scandal remains the hottest topic at present, also having caught the people’s attention was news that aides of Najib and Muhyiddin and a deputy minister were allegedly “bought” by a businessman to obtain contracts from the government and its agencies, as exposed by a blogger, “The Whistleblower711”.

Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Hussin, who was implicated, claims that his “conscience is clear” and the money received was not corruption but instead for the benefit of the people of Bachok, where he is the Umno division chief.

Whatever their excuses, Shahrizat, Najib, Awang Adek and Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud best take cognisance of the fate that befell former Selangor menteri besar Dr Khir Toyo who on December 23 was jailed to one year after he was found guilty of obtaining for himself and his wife a valuable property at a consideration Khir knew was insufficient four years ago.

The court also ordered that Khir’s land and bungalow be forfeited. So much for Khir trying to ride on his MBship to amass for himself a fortune. Politicians must at all times remember that you are here to serve the rakyat – “people first and not money” must be your undertaking.

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.

Review of Politics in 2011: Now Who is running the country?

by Moaz

Marching into 2012 Najib Abdul Razak is still not perceived as a strong leader by the masses. It is the perspicacity of the masses that his many personal, social and economic debacles will keep haunting him until the next general election – widely believed to be held before June 2012.

Race relations in the country is not getting any better and evidently religion is widely seen as a convenient gizmo used by UMNO to divide the people. Above and beyond, shady characters among some UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians , abuse of taxpayers’ money, and the ineffective economic strategies of the government have failed to convince the masses.

Almost four years of BN at the helm after the March 2008 general election has not seen much clout in UMNO or Najib to shove the country to the right track. Their popularity seem to slide.

Many social and economic woes relating to race relations, religion and the economy have since alienated the masses. Corruption is perceived as too rife among those having power and authority but more often than not these are swept under the carpet for political reasons.

They only receive the crumbs

The recent RM100 and RM500 one-off payments to students and the poor respectively have been perceived by the masses as trying to ‘bribe’ for votes in facing the next general election. Even the purported 1Malaysia RM5,000 loan to the poor to invest under a national unit trust scheme is not going to electrify the people into voting for BN.

To an aid recipient in Kedah, he is not full of praise for the government: “This matters least, as the money given to the people is not from UMNO’s own pocket but it’s taxpayers’ hard-earned money. We have to edify the people on this political strategy of UMNO. For now, just accept the money as it’s the people’s money, not UMNO’s or BN’s. When it comes to voting, this is totally going to be a different issue.”

The people sense that the amount of money given to the poor by the government is just pittance that could not even make ends meet in time of high inflation in the country now. “This ‘bribe of sort’ is for short-term delight,” says a farmer in Kedah. “The government has not come up with any concrete long-term plan to reduce inflation and bring down the cost of living to help the poor.” He adds, “Increasing the pay of those already earning big salaries is not going to help reduce the price of food. Only the rich are seen to be given huge incentives and rewards to become richer. The poor are becoming poorer, as they only receive the crumbs.”

What is more interesting to the inquisitive minds of the masses is the quality of leadership the country has to offer. The buzz among voters is, ‘”Who is actually running the country now?” This is the question asked by many within and outside UMNO and BN. Everyone knows that officially Najib is the PM. But Najib has been perceived as a leader who could not steer the country free from Mahathir’s influence. “As long as Anwar is around, Mahathir will not give up harassing Najib’s administration. He fears that UMNO and BN will lose big in the coming general election with Pakatan’s increasing popularity,” says a young voter in Kerian.

Mahathir's role in Najib's Administration

The people are beginning to see Mahathir’s role in Najib’s administration is not receding but mounting. Apparently, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was squeezed out from his post as Prime Minister in 2009 by the maverick politician, Mahathir. Could the same happen to Najib if he decides not to ‘listen' to Mahathir? Mahathir is still influential in UMNO politics not because he is too good a politician but there are factions within UMNO who would want to see Najib tumble. “But if Najib and UMNO tumble, BN has to close shop,” says a political observer. “Pakatan will form the next government.” Mahathir is thus perceived by some political observers as the right man who can decide Najib’s fate and possibly give more hope to the many other UMNO aspirants to climb up the political ladder.

The buzz is that before Najib decided on his Cabinet line-up, he was somewhat ‘warned' by Mahathir that Khairy Jamaluddin – the elected UMNO Youth leader – should be excluded from the Cabinet. True as envisaged, when the Cabinet line-up was announced, Khairy was excluded. Perhaps this must be the first time in the history of UMNO where its Youth leader has not been given any Cabinet post. “With that move by Najib, Khairy’s political fate is sealed,” says an UMNO lawmaker. To some political observers, even Khairy’s performance as a Youth leader is dismal: “He does not have the right charisma as a leader. The next general election would most probably see him not contesting at all.” The political murmur is that Khairy will lose his post as Youth chief in the next UMNO elections much to the delight of Mahathir.

Not only that, the hum was that Mahathir signalled to Najib that all Abdullah’s men should also have been thrust aside from the post Abdullah Cabinet line-up. Shahrir Abdul Samad – being a fine politician – and realising the consequence, made a pre-emptive move. He decided to tender his resignation as a minister even before the new Cabinet line-up was announced. He nattily backed out before the axe fell on him. He could have sensed that the new Cabinet was going to be a Mahathir-charted Cabinet.

But when Najib had the courtesy to include some of Abdullah’s men in, the whispers were Mahathir murmured that the Cabinet was still filled with some ‘tainted' characters. Najib had no choice, as he saw some of these UMNO hardliners as his loyal supporters. Najib needs them to ‘brawl’ for him against the Opposition for his controversial roles in many of the grim accusations on him by the latter. He is wary that he is not a political pugilist. Neither is he the pugnacious type. He is perceived by the people more as a ‘play-safe’ politician or prime minister unlike the belligerent Mahathir.

Flip flop policy

Abdullah in 2006 cancelled the famed half-crooked or curved bridge project into the Tebrau Straits to replace half of the Causeway that connects Johor Baru and Singapore. The project was mooted by Mahathir during his tenure as prime minister. When the iniquitous half-bridge was again cropped up by Mahathir during Najib’s time, the latter was rather quiet on the issue. Possibly, he must have known that the project was just unviable. Mahathir was again unhappy about this, as he is still adamant that the project must proceed. Najib has since been silent on this whole issue. The bridge project has stalled. The government lost RM740million of taxpayers’ money for this cock-up.

Abdullah scrapped the double-tracking railway project from Johor to Padang Besar which would have cost RM14billion during his time as PM. Najib showed no enthusiasm on this project either. Instead the railway project is now being designated only from Ipoh to Padang Besar and the delay has cost the government RM12billion just for this short distance. Mahathir is riled, as he feels that had the project taken off very much earlier, just with an additional amount of RM2billion the double-tracking would have connected Johor Baru and Padang Besar.

The use of English to teach Science and Mathematics (PPSMI) – Mahathir’s brainchild is being dropped by Najib’s government. Mahathir has been reported to have disagreed with the idea of dropping this plan that he implemented in 2003. Being averse to controversial issues, Najib smartly tossed ‘the hot potato’ to Muhyiddin Yassin to do the unpopular decision to scrap the policy. Muhyiddin has now ended up becoming a very unpopular education minister. This issue has dented his political career, but Najib is posing a chic silent on the matter. The dust has yet to settle and parents are not happy with this flip flop policy in education. BN is expected to lose more votes because of this issue and Mahathir is aware of this.

Muhyiddin is obdurate that the policy has to be totally scrapped. RM5billion ringgit of taxpayers’ money was wasted on the PPSMI which lasted for only nine years before it came to naught. Had this been in another democratic country the whole cabinet members would have resigned and many leaders would have been sent to the political dungeon.

The campaigns leading towards a few by-elections during Najib’s premiership washed a lot of his dirty linen in public. ‘’Enough mud-slinging at me and smearing my name,” Najib was reported to have said during one of the crusades against the Opposition. Unfortunately, Najib is not perceived by the people as a leader free from personal baggage and this is not a good omen for UMNO and BN. To the political observers, Mahathir is more eager to save UMNO than to indulge on personal problems of UMNO leaders.

In by-elections where Najib was quite reluctant to tramp Mahathir was seen more ready to tread. But, if Mahathir was to be seen going to the field jousting against the Opposition without Najib to be seen, what would the people perceive of the latter then? Despite Mahathir’s help, UMNO lost a few by-elections and this badly bruised Najib's image.

At that point of time, Najib was cagey when BN lost a few by-elections to the Opposition and Najib ended up becoming the punching bag for the Opposition as well many of his foes within UMNO. “Najib, who grew up in a political aristocratic family would naturally play out-of-harm's-way politics. The most he would do is to have his people fight for him. But he has failed to realise that others cannot keep on doing the ‘stunt’ for him. Being the PM, the millstone will still hang around his neck,” says a political observer.

Mahathir to salvage his image

Mahathir’s presence was quite noticeable during the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau, by-elections in 2009. Najib – the incoming PM at the time – was practically kept away from the scenes. Mahathir went to the ground trying to salvage UMNO and BN but was stung taut by the ‘mountain bees' at both the constituencies and both the seats finally went to Pakatan – PAS and PKR.

Mahathir as a ‘retired general’ after leading the country for 22 years with relative success cannot live in peace seeing UMNO crumbling under Najib despite BN winning a few by-elections thereafter. Najib seems to be losing more support currently by depending on Mahathir to salvage his image. Mahathir perhaps seems to be unhappy to see Najib more into building his image rather than focusing more on economic development for the country.

Mahathir must also be wary that if the ride is tough for Najib, he will let his other Cabinet ministers do the traverse for him. Najib has been silent on many issues – specifically the PPSMI and the RM250million loan given to a company whose owner is the spouse of a Cabinet Minister. The cattle project was set up in 2008 when Abdullah was the prime minister. Khairy was at first adamantly defending the company but later on when more evidence cropped up on the alleged ‘abuse’ of the government-loaned money to the company he too went on a silent mode.

A puppet of this class

Knowing Mahathir, he does have some syatria (warrior) blood of the Keralites in him and he will go on fighting even after his war flag has fallen to the ground.

In the traditional wayang kulit (puppet show), the Tok Dalang (performer) pulls the puppet strings skilfully from behind to captivate the views and minds of the people watching the show on the white screen. Najib may prefer not to be a puppet of this class. But being perceived as a weak leader from within his team and also by his political nemeses he cannot afford to ignore Mahathir – the Tok Dalang. One flawed move Najib makes, he will be in trouble and would meet the same fate as what happened to Abdullah.

Najib, like all heads of government, aspires to be an independent prime minister but the thorn that is pricking his conscience from an ‘obvious hand' is too much for him to bear. Unfortunately, he seems at times not being able to withstand it, but out of no choice the battle against his conscience has to go on for his political survival.

“To Najib, the advice is to let his own conscience decide what he wants to do as a prime minister. He should stand by his principles. He does not have to be shoved to the edge by anybody. It may be bitter though, but this is the pill he has to swallow in order to be respected or else it will affect his image as prime minister. But then he is seen as not too forceful a leader.” says a senior UMNO member.

Next person to lead UMNO

Words are going round asking, “Who is the Prime Minister now? Najib or Mahathir?” Most people already have a vague answer to this question, for now. Najib to the masses has been implicated time and again for being a puny jouster and fingers are pointing at Mahathir who is pulling the string. But Najib is Mahathir’s choice after Abdullah. Indeed, Mahathir should have first tutored Najib to be a ‘fighter’ before the latter could be put on the altar. Mahathir was in a haste to push Abdullah out of the scene and thus the appointment of Najib as PM.

Mahathir will keep Najib on his toes until the next general election. Najib realises that if he decides not to listen to the ‘self-appointed advisor’ to him, he will be in trouble. This is the least that he wants to face before the next general election. But if he keeps on listening to Mahathir, his political nemeses will brand him as a PM without his own stand.

If UMNO and BN fail in the next general election – which is more likely, Mahathir will call for Najib’s resignation as prime minister like what he did to Abdullah at one time. Hope Mahathir lives long to see the fate of Najib after the next general election. Mahathir can, after that, decide who should be the next person to lead UMNO.

Malaysia Chronicle