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17 April 2014

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17 April 2014

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Asia Sentinel

US President set to arrive April 27 as KL faces increasing international criticism

US President Barack Obama is expected to visit Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia this month as part of his push to increase US diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. But despite the relative size and strategic importance of the other countries, it is his April 27 trip to Malaysia that arguably gives the president his biggest problems.

Given the events of the past few months, Obama will visit a country that has earned some of the worst press in Asia, not only for its fumbling response to the loss of its jetliner, MH370, with 239 people aboard, but to revelations of growing racial and religious intolerance, blatant attempts to silence the opposition through spurious legal action and bizarre charges by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s own newspaper that the Central Intelligence Agency kidnapped the plane to foment trouble with China, 152 of whose citizens were aboard the missing craft. The same newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, also repeated as a real possibility speculation by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that the CIA brought down the World Trade Towers in 2001as a plot to blame Muslims for the destruction.

In recent weeks, an appeals court has reversed a lower court decision against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, declaring him guilty of what were clearly trumped up charges of sodomy. The decision, apparently rushed forward, was designed to deny Anwar an almost certain win in a Kuala Lumpur suburban by-election that would have paved his way to becoming chief minister of the country’s most populous and prosperous state and would have given him a potent rhetorical platform to challenge the government. In an equally dubious decision, Karpal Singh, chairman of the Democratic Party, the biggest in the troika of opposition parties, was declared guilty of sedition for saying a decision by the Sultan of Perak could be questioned in court.

The international press that showed up in Kuala Lumpur after the disappearance of the airliner began asking questions that exposed an authoritarian regime unaccustomed to facing independent scrutiny – questions that a kept mainstream media, all of which are owned by the political parties in power, have ignored for decades. While a vibrant opposition press exists on the Internet, the government simply ignores it or tries to neutralize its reports. Those questions include crony capitalism, gerrymandering and political repression. CNN, the major US and British newspaper s and other media assailed the government as authoritarian, corrupt and befuddled.

The feeling in Washington, however, is that the cost of cancellation to the strategic relationship between the two countries would be too high. Obama reportedly is being urged to visit a Christian church while in the country to show US commitment to human and religious rights. Advocates say the President should make at least some gesture of recognition of the fact that a 50.87 percent majority of Malaysians voted against the ruling coalition in 2013 general elections at 47.38 percent but still hold only 89 of the 222 seats in parliament because of gerrymandering. It’s unsure if he will do so. There is speculation that he may just opt for a “meet and greet” and get out of town as quickly as possible to avoid international criticism for propping up a regime that is starting to assume Zimbabwean characteristics of repression and kleptocracy.

“I don’t have any problem with Obama visiting Malaysia, provided he reaches out to Malaysians on both sides of the aisle and all sectors of society, including the Christian community, whose rights are being trampled on by their government,” said John Malott, a former career foreign service officer who served as ambassador to Malaysia from 1996 to 1998 and who has emerged as Malaysian government’s severest western critic. “But this has to be a visit that is based on the reality of what kind of country Malaysia really is today – and not to believe the talking points that Malaysia is still a tolerant multi-racial, multi-religious, harmonious, moderate Islamic nation, an economic success story, and a role model for others. It no longer is.”

Najib visited the White House in 2011 and was given a wholehearted endorsement by the President, who said Najib has “showed great leadership, I think, not only in continuing to show great leadership not only in Malaysia’s economy but on showing leadership on a wide range of multilateral issues.”

The president is said to like Najib personally despite the fact that a wide range of issues have never been cleared up, going back to allegations of Najib’s personal involvement in the US$1 billion purchase of French submarines that according to French prosecutors was said to have netted US$114 million in bribes and kickbacks to the United Malays National Organization. The case is still making its way through French courts.

There is also the matter of the still controversial 2006 murder by two of Najib’s bodyguards of Mongolian translator and party girl Altantuya Shaariibuu, who according to a now-dead private detective had been Najib’s girlfriend before she was said to have been passed on to his best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, a key figure in the purchase of the submarines. The bodyguards were acquitted on appeal despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt, raising questions about Malaysia’s legal system as well.

There have been some rude shocks. Six months ago, in the run-up to his previous failed visit to the region, the US president hailed Malaysia as an “an example of a dynamic economy” and praised its multi-ethnic, moderate Muslim-dominated society only to see just three days later a court decision ordering Christians not to use the word “Allah” when referring to God, making it the only Islamic country in the world to do so.

After that, the government ordered the confiscation of Malay-language Bibles containing the word – but only in Peninsular Malaysia. Christians using Malay-language Bibles in East Malaysia were allowed to keep them. That is because most of the Christians are tribes indigenous to Borneo that are aligned with the ruling party. In Peninsular Malaysia, they form the bulk of the opposition.

“So the issue is — how can you talk about establishing a ‘strategic partnership’ with such a government?” Malott asked. “Maybe that is what will have to be downplayed or even canned for this visit. To me, the idea of a declaring a strategic partnership with a government whose faults have now been revealed to the world, day after day, seems politically unwise.”

Malott also questioned what strategic benefits the US can obtain from Malaysia.

“What strategic value does Malaysia have that it warrants America to hold its nose and ignore the trampling of democracy and political freedom, not to mention the corruption and cronyism that hurt American business interests there?” he asked. “And with Mahathir, the great anti-American, increasingly calling the political shots and Najib’s popularity the lowest of any Prime Minister in polling history, will a ‘strategic partnership’ with the US survive Najib’s departure?”

17 April 2014

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The Hindu

Veteran Malaysian opposition lawmaker Karpal Singh, an eminent lawyer who had been detained without trial under security laws and battled numerous sedition charges, has died in a road accident. He was 73.

District police chief Ng Kong Soon said Mr. Singh was travelling with four others when his car collided with a truck early Thursday on a highway.

Mr. Ng was quoted by national Bernama news agency as saying Mr. Singh and his personal assistant were killed immediately and his Indonesian maid was badly injured, but his son, Ram Singh, and the driver escaped unhurt.

Gobind Singh Deo, Mr. Karpal Singh’s son and also a political leader, posted a message on Facebook and Twitter announcing his father’s death.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Malaysia has lost an “indefatigable fighter for justice.”

17 April 2014

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TMI

Karpal Singh – the prominent lawyer, lawmaker and DAP leader – died early this morning in a road accident while on the way to Penang, doing what he does best: going to court for a client. He was 73.

His reputation as a lawyer and politician had earned him the nickname the “Tiger of Jelutong” from the time he started legal practice in 1970 – which was also the year he joined the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

When he died early today, Karpal had just let go of the DAP chairmanship as he battled a sedition conviction that risked his four decades of legal and political career.

But the controversial decision was nothing to Karpal. He had been thrown out of parliament, put in detention during Ops Lalang in 1987 and had faced previous sedition charges.

“Eliminating me from the political terrain will not be the end of Karpal Singh. It will in fact lead to the rise of many Karpal Singhs!” said Karpal, who was Amnesty International’s “prisoner of conscience” for his detention without trial.

His legal and political colleagues remember him as a fearless and smart lawyer and politician, but to the countless ordinary people in his Penang constituency and legal office in Jalan Pudu Lama, Kuala Lumpur – he was a friend.

This was the other side of Karpal Singh apart from his legendary roles as a DAP politician and remarkable lawyer – he was a gentle-mannered man who was always ready to help the ordinary folk he came across in his daily life.

They knew Karpal as a humble man with a ready smile, who was always ready to stop and listen, no matter how small you were. No question was too trivial or repetitive for him to answer, no hello was too unimportant to stop for.

His tragic death in a road accident today meant that he “died in his saddle”, a term he had used upon turning 70 when he said: “I’ve always said that a lawyer should die in a saddle. I think it equally applies to being a politician.”

An earlier road accident in 2005 put him in a wheelchair while this morning’s road accident occurred near Gua Tempurung when the veteran lawyer was on his way up north to Penang in his white Alphard for a court case.

Anyone who knew Karpal would easily attest to how he was probably the busiest 73-year-old around, often shuttling between parliament and court during the week, and on weekends, travelling up north, mostly to visit his constituency or for a court case.

Nothing stopped Karpal, who at 73 was still shuttling between parliament and court or travelling north to visit his constituency. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 17, 2014.

Nothing stopped Karpal, who at 73 was still shuttling between parliament and court or travelling north to visit his constituency. – The Malaysian Insider pic, April 17, 2014.Nothing would stop him in court or politics. Not even the latest sedition conviction where he was alleged to have said that the removal of Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as menteri besar of Perak by Perak ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah, could be questioned in a court of law.

Karpal’s defence was that he had offered a legal opinion and not a threat to the ruler, who was once the Lord President of the Supreme Court. Charged for the offence in 2009, Karpal was acquitted by the High Court without his defence called in the first round.

However, the prosecution appealed against the decision and succeeded at the Court of Appeal, and even pressed for a deterrent sentence against the wheelchair-bound politician.

He was handed down a RM4,000 fine, which would have disqualified him as an MP if he did not succeed in an appeal which has not been heard.

Karpal joined DAP in 1970 and was first elected as a Kedah state assemblyman in 1974 before becoming MP for Jelutong in 1978, a seat he held until he lost in 1999.

He returned to parliament in the 2004 general election as the Bukit Gelugor MP, and although the motor accident in 2005 confined Karpal to a wheelchair, it did nothing to curb his spirit or vigour.

Karpal’s legal career started when he was admitted to the Penang Bar in 1969 after reading law at the National University of Singapore.

He was one of Malaysia’s most prominent lawyers, and had taken up numerous high-profile cases, including drug trafficking charges against foreign nationals such as Australian Kevin Barlow, and the sodomy accusations against former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

He was a staunch opponent of the death penalty, especially for drug trafficking offences.

He was detained in the Ops Lalang government crackdown in October 1987 under the Internal Security Act which allows for detention without trial, along with DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and 104 others. He was released in 1989.

Karpal was also known to be opposed to turning Malaysia into an Islamic state, often citing the Federal Constitution that provides for a secular nation.

“I’m doing it for the country. At the end that’s what it is for,” he had told The Malaysian Insider in an interview before his 70th birthday.

He had also said then that “one can’t always win,but should not stop trying either”.

Clearly, Karpal never stopped. He was and will always be a Malaysian hero.

He will be missed, never forgotten. He will always be loved, treasured and respected for decades to come.

But that cannot be said about the government which until the last moment was trying to put him behind bars for speaking the truth and speaking lucidly about something that mattered dearly to him: the law.

He leaves behind wife Gurmit Kaur, daughter Sangeet, sons Jagdeep, Gobind, Ramkarpal and Mankarpal, and a host of grandchildren. And Malaysians.

17 April 2014

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“He gave his honours to the world again,
His blessed part to heaven, and…henceforth, will now sleep in peace.”

At almost 3 this morning I awoke to the shocking news of the death of one of the nation’s most illustrious heroes – YB Karpal Singh. It came like a lightning bolt to me because just last evening, I had had a lengthy chat with him.

After getting hold of myself, I then twittered a short condolence expressing deep sorrow and devastation over the loss of “our indefatigable fighter for justice”. Once again, Azizah and family offer our deepest condolences to Gurmit Kaur, Gobind, Ram and the rest of the family. May you all remain strong in this great hour of tribulation.

Indeed, words cannot express enough my profound sadness of the passing away of my brother-in-arms for freedom and democracy, an inspiring symbol for the struggle against oppression and injustice and a man of unimpeachable moral integrity.

The nation has lost one of her most dedicated servants. The people have lost  a selfless , courageous and noble defender of their fundamental liberties. The legal fraternity has lost one of it’s sharpest minds and I have lost a true friend, kind in words, noble in deed.

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.”

And so it was with our hero Karpal Singh for there is none more valiant in life than this great mortal whose body may have perished but his spirit shall live on with us.

Anwar Ibrahim

17th April, 2014

16 April 2014

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Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has hit back at Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for “manipulating” a comment made to Chinese daily Southern Weekly.

At a Finance Ministry meeting yesterday, Najib had attacked Anwar for reportedly saying that he could have solved the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 mystery “in one second if he was prime minister”.

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim reiterated that his fight to win the presidency is not with his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, but with the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

Pakatan Rakyat has been told to be “mindful” that Umno will use PAS’ proposal to implement hudud in Kelantan, in order to get political mileage.

In issuing the reminder, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim pointed to Umno’s inconsistency on the matter.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has criticised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for remaining silent on the MH370 crisis and refusing to take questions from the media.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has criticised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for remaining silent on the MH370 crisis and refusing to take questions from the media.

Anwar also questioned the government’s refusal to release the cargo manifest from MH370.

16 April 2014

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Malaysiakini

As you may or may not recall, in my column last week I made the blindingly obvious point that Malaysia’s perennially crooked, incompetent and thus altogether pathetic apology for a government should get real or get out.

But I also realistically conceded that the Barisan Nasional gangster-regime will never so much as consider getting real, let alone getting out, as long as there is anything left for it and its cronies to steal.

A dismal truth that has been even more pressingly and depressingly evident in the week since, due to fresh revelations of BN’s stealing on regardless, as in robbing the rakyat blind as ever, and no sign whatever that it has any intention of stealing away as in getting lost.

The clearest signal this week of BN’s steely and stealy determination to stay despite the incalculable amount it has cost Malaysia and Malaysians economically, electorally, socially, educationally and every other way domestically, and the shame it has brought on the nation internationally, was the refusal of Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya to contemplate resigning.

Far from taking any responsibility for the mysterious disappearance of MAS Flight MH370, however, let alone for the airline’s shocking financial losses and its record of corrupt dealings with crony suppliers under his stewardship, he brazenly ignored the question of his resignation and declared that “we have a lot of work to do. The airline needs to get itself together” so it can once again “soar”.

Whether MAS can ever soar above its sore and sorry mismanagement by BN and the would-be high fliers it has variously sold it to or hired to run it after its corrupt “repurchase” at an inflated price and at public expense remains a moot question at this moment.

But meanwhile, note the typically BN-style weasel words in this statement, implying that it’s “the airline”, not himself or the regime that installed him in his job as head or at least figurehead of the airline, that “needs to get itself together”, and thus neither his responsibility personally or that of the regime collectively.

But at least Yahya was relatively subtle in dodging blame for the airline’s woes on his own or BN’s part, compared with Utusan Malaysia, the rabid, racist alleged ‘newspaper’ that serves as the most strident voice of Umno, the majority party in the BN coalition.

Recycled conspiracy theory

Some Umno poison-penman whose name I can’t be bothered looking up last week recycled the tired old Dr Mahathir Mohamad conspiracy theory that the CIA carried-out the 9/ll attacks on the World Trade Centre to provide a pretext for the US to go to war against Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and put forward the proposition that the CIA has likewise engineered the disappearance of MH370 for the purpose of sabotaging the relationship between Malaysia and China.

As former US Ambassador to Malaysia John Mallot recalled in his responseto this latest crime against journalism byUtusan Malaysia, this rabid rag is not only owned by Umno, but the president of Umno and Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Abdul Razak, recently praised it to the skies, urged government-linked corporations to advertise in it, and even named a street after the thing.

So, in view of the image of caring and compassion that Najib and his regime have been desperately trying to convey despite their incompetent handling of the MH370 disappearance and their blood-sucking attempts to make capital of it by proposing the squandering and stealing of yet more public money on still more price-inflated, “commission”-generating defence purchases, Malott was more than justified in posing the question “so what say you, Najib?”

“You will soon be welcoming President Barack Obama to Malaysia. Are you going to let this absurd statement in ‘your’ newspaper stand? Or will you speak out – and denounce this nonsense – before Obama comes?”

Of course as John Malott and all the rest of us are well aware, Najib will not admit, let alone denounce, any fault whatever in the way he and his fellow 1RM chickens in the kangkung BN regime choose to run, or rather ruin, Malaysia.

In any event, Najib has already moved on from the MH370 affair, leaving countries with operative air and sea assets and competent defence personnel to conduct the search while he and the BN gang get back to business as usual.

And business has certainly been brisk this past week, with so-called ‘editor’ of Umno’s unsanitary Utusan Malaysia, Zulkiflee Bakar, attacking Malaysiakini for what he oddly calls “stone-age journalism”, presumably in a bid to aid Najib in his determination to ignore the latter’s revelations that the regime’s career of crime is raging unabated.

Items of BN ‘business’ this week have included the awarding of a RM1.6 billion contract for the building and maintenance of a hospital by “direct tender”, which is apparently the latest euphemism for crony-riddled rip-off, and of a similarly uncontested RM98.85 defence contract to the Destini Prima subsidiary of Destini Berhad, a company plausibly suspected of strong ties to Umno Youth chief and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

Daylight robberies

And these daylight robberies come on top of the annual farce of a damning report by the Malaysian Auditor-General into shocking levels of waste, embezzlement, fraud and theft by the BN regime’s tame civil services, and the news that just one (of course unnamed) such culprit has been sacked since the previous year’s equally scathing report.

Far from appearing to notice, let alone take the slightest responsibility for this disgraceful state of affairs, however, Najib was out demonstrating that he is lying as usual in claiming to be “prime minister for all Malaysians” by urging employers in the nation’s private sector to hire more Malays.

Or perhaps, as some commentators have taken him to be suggesting, he means that private business should hire pretty well only Malays, like the police, military and most other departments of the BN regime do.

But whatever he had in mind, or at least was reading off the piece of paper someone had put in front of him on this occasion, Najib has repeatedly and definitively demonstrated over the past five years or so that he is a fitting prime minister not for all or some but of no Malaysians, and thus, along with the rest of his rotten, ridiculous regime, should get the hell out of office.

But he, or they, won’t go voluntarily, of course. So it’s up to the Malaysian people to progress from just criticising and complaining about these incompetent crooks to pressuring them in every way possible to go get lost.

Or, to employ the immortal words of Oliver Cromwell in his April 20, 1653 speech contemptuously dismissing Britain’s then so-called Rump Parliament in sending BN the message: “Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

16 April 2014

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TMMO

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim should have taken a tougher stance and intervened in the bible seizure row to ensure a fairer outcome for Muslims and Christians in the state, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today.

The PKR advisor said the Khalid administration could have returned the 300 Malay language bibles confiscated by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) in January to the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) with the condition that they were not distributed to Muslims.

“The MB should have taken a tougher stance..the state government must take measures to appease the situation. You could return the bibles but give a strong condition that the bible cannot be distributed to Muslims,” Anwar told a press conference here.

He said that as Mentri Besar, Khalid should have acted firmer in protecting both Muslim and non-Muslim rights in the country.

Yesterday BSM announced its decision to relocate its headquarters from Selangor to Kuala Lumpur, citing its disappointment with the state government’s decision not to interfere in the seizure of its bibles.

BSM president Lee Min Choon said the federal government has given “better protection” to the society’s operations, and has even upheld the Cabinet’s 10-point solution to the “Allah” row by allowing free movement of its bible shipments.

Selangor, on the other hand, has continued to refuse to help the society recover the over 300 Malay and Iban language bibles that were seized by the state’s religious authorities earlier this year, Lee said.

16 April 2014

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TMI

PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today criticised the Prime Minister for manipulating his statement of solving the MH370 crisis in a second.

Anwar (pic, right) said Datuk Seri Najib Razak was swift in retorting his statement but did not display such agility in handling the MH370 crisis.

“Najib did not answer the issues which have arisen due to the disappearance of MH370,” Anwar told a press conference today.

“But he appears to be nimble when replying to my claim that the tragedy could be resolved in a second.”

Anwar explained that the remark, which was translated from the Chinese language, was completely different to what had been reported by the media.

“In the original Chinese language text, I said it would take a second to carry out the necessary enforcement to guarantee national security,” he said.

He then denied issuing any statement that he would resolve the MH370 crisis in a second if he was prime minister.

“Najib twisted my statement and lied by misinterpreting my statement,” Anwar said.

Ever since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 12 crew members and 227 passengers, Najib has not taken any questions from the media.

“Instead, Najib preferred to hand over the responsibility to his cousin, acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein,” Anwar said.

14 April 2014

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Malaysiakini

The grand self-proclamation of “Malaysia, the Best Democracy in the World”, with its fantastic education system which rivals the British, American and German systems is a myth designed for die-hard Umno Baru supporters. This fairy-tale was shattered by the disappearance of MH370.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, like the prime ministers before him, has let down the nation, but the investigation into MH370 has trashed Malaysia’s reputation.

We need a cull of the political class to regain our credibility as a nation. We should start with the following initiates of the ‘Hall of Shame’. Politicians head the list, then civil servants. If the civil servants were to be replaced before the politicians, the new ones would be corrupted by their political masters, who dictate to them.

Malaysia has been on auto-pilot for several decades and the nation has been performing like a rudderless aeroplane. MH370 signals the beginning of the end of Umno Baru.

The Malaysian Hall of Shame

Number One: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Two words describe the MH370 “investigations”: Mismanaged. Mishandled. (MM).

MH370 may have been an unprecedented incident but the crisis management team was shambolic, with several people issuing contradictory official statements. Our confidence and trust has been shaken to the core despite all the big talk and the hundreds of billions of ringgits spent on military hardware and sophisticated equipment. We may have the best machinery that money can buy, but are monkeys operating them?

In the first few days of MH370’s disappearance, Najib and his wife, the self-styled ‘First Lady of Malaysia’ (FLOM), sought to gain cheap publicity by “weeping with the families of the passengers and crew of MH370”.

Did Najib make a premature announcement that MH370 had crashed into the Southern Indian Ocean, based on one mathematical interpretation by one company? The local press are conditioned not to ask awkward questions but foreign journalists demand answers.

Number Two:Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein. Hishammuddin (left in photo) justified Malaysia’s mismanagement of the MH370 investigations by saying that history will judge Malaysia well.

People ask, “Who writes the history books if not the Malaysian cabinet and their proteges?”
Hishammuddiin told the families of passengers and crew of MH370 that miracles do happen. The act of giving false hope is as bad as trading on people’s grief.

Number Three: Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. His response to the stolen passport fiasco at KLIA is symptomatic of a sick nation. He told parliament, “Furthermore, Interpol’s information of lost (passports) may slow down the process of immigration checks at counters.”

Zahid prefers speed to efficiency and safety/security concerns. Interpol has since given Zahid a dressing down and said the checks take 0.2 seconds per passport.

Malaysia is a hub for human trafficking and people have alleged that our police and immigration officials are involved. Will Zahid clean up his department?

Number Four: Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri. Abdul Rahim told Parliament that the RMAF “assumed” that Flight MH370 had been ordered to turn back by the civilian air traffic controllers.

Following a public outcry, he backpedalled and said that HE had made this assumption. So did the RMAF make this assumption or was Abdul Rahim forced to retract his statement. His U-turn is typical of the tactics of the government of Malaysia.

Lack of communication

Number Five: The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman. Azharuddin contradicted the statements of the home ministry and the inspector-general of polcie (IGP). More worrying than this is the lack of communication between the military and civil aviation authorities.

The MH370 investigation has lacked transparency and is mired in intrigue. This incident has reminded us of the question, by the opposition MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in June 2012, about the roles of the DCA and the Transport Ministry in the award of the contract for the supply of the RM128.4 million air traffic control system to a minster’s family through “closed tender”.

Three weeks ago, we were told that the final words from the cockpit were “All right, good night”. In the past few days, the DCA issued a correction and said the final words were “Good night. Malaysian Three-Seven-Zero”.

How can the public be expected to put their faith in the DCA or the investigative bodies with such a simple error as this? So what else is wrong?

Number Six: MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya. When the reputations of the pilot and co-pilot on MH370 were being trashed, Ahmad Jauhari (right) failed to defend his men. Although he did speak on their behalf, he waited several days and the damage was already done. His failure to act immediately demoralised all of the MAS employees.

The sending of a text message to the families of the passengers and crew of MH370, ahead of Najib’s announcement that MH370 had gone down in the southern Indian Ocean, is symptomatic of the poor customer relations in MAS. Many people have previously stated that their complaints are rarely acknowledged or addressed.

Number Seven: Chief of the Armed Forces Zulkifeli Mohd Zin. He despatched ships from Lumut on the night MH370 disappeared. He then claimed that a C-130 plane was sent to scout the area the following morning.

What made Zulkifeli confident that he was scouring a potential crash site, thousands of kilometres from where Najib had directed others in the search and rescue (SAR) operations? Is Zulkifeli hiding something from us?

Number Eight: Chief of the RMAF Rodzali Daud. An unidentified plane was picked up by military radar around 200 nautical miles northwest of Penang in the Straits of Malacca, at about the time MH370 went missing. The military failed to act on this information, wasting both time and opportunity.

Number Nine: IGP Khalid Abu Bakar. When asked about the contradictory descriptions of the men using stolen passports, a dismissive Khalid said, “Why ask me? Ask Immigration, or ask Interpol.”

The defence minister asked everyone to avoid speculation, but Khalid said that his policemen were analysing all the speculation on the Internet to help in the MH370 investigations.

The IGP should focus on facts, rather than investigating speculation and rumour. He should chase criminals, rather than hound opposition politicians and NGOs.

Number Ten: Witch-doctor Ibrahim Mat Zain, or Raja Bomoh. This shaman heaped ridicule on the country when, at the entrance to KLIA, he used his bamboo binoculars and two coconuts to divine that MH370 had been hijacked by elves and the plane was either suspended in mid-air or had crashed into the sea. He should be jailed if he refuses to say who sent him to KLIA, to mock the suffering of the passengers and crew of MH370.

Bonus: It is reported that Najib’s favourite number is 11. When former PM Mahathir Mohamad resigned, he continued to make his presence felt by refusing to hand over the controls of the airship Malaysia, which he was flying to mediocrity. Mahathir completes the list by being the eleventh member of Malaysia’s Hall of Shame.

14 April 2014

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Aliran

Irene’s true grit triumphed over a false accusation

She was initially accused of peddling false news when she tried to protect and promote the collective welfare of migrant workers and the downtrodden.

Dragged for years in court, the late Irene Fernandez nonetheless was steadfast in her determination to champion the cause of the neglected. In fact, she spent decades via her NGO Tenaganita, which she spearheaded, to fight for the rights of the oppressed whose dignity as humans were trampled by employers and others who didn’t care two hoots about human rights.

The Malaysian government may not want to recognise, let alone appreciate, Irene’stireless work. But concerned Malaysians and civil society have duly paid glowing tributeto this towering Malaysian. Her liberating spirit and noble values will indeed live on especially when the rights of workers are still being violated in our society.

Such violations demand the attention and action of civil society groups and thosewho are dedicated to improving the welfare of workers. It is no wonder that over 50civil society groups have come together to protest against workers’ rights violationsand the disciplinary action taken by the management of the much-troubled MAS against the secretary-general of the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) and 30 other members.

Likewise, some civil society groups have expressed solidarity with Major Zaidi Ahmad of the Royal Malaysian Air Force who is now facing legal action for doing what a conscientious Malaysian is expected to do. Like the late Irene Fernandez, Zaidi found himself in trouble with the powers that be for speaking truth to power. Obviously this doesn’t speak well of the Najib administration, which once boasted of a Malaysia being the best democracy in the world.

Denial of press freedom

That brazen claim (being ‘the best democracy’) is indeed indefensible. In fact, this assertion becomes all the more untenable when press freedom is once again violated by the federal government. Recently, the Home Ministry denied publishing permits for the print editions of Malaysiakini and FZ Daily. The minister concerned was apparently concerned that ‘too many’ newspapers in our midst would confuse ordinary Malaysians who are exposed to too much information.

Such a paternalistic and patronising attitude is certainly misplaced and unfortunate given that Malaysians in general are able to think for themselves. They certainly deserve a wide range of opinions about particular issues before they make their informed judgement. At the very least, they are not confused and know how to discern which politicians make imbecile remarks and which ones make perfect sense.

Concerned Malaysians are also not confused when they bear witness to a hate-mongering mob out to create trouble. But they ARE disturbed when the powers that be, otherwise ever so often mindful of actions that could purportedly jeopardise ‘political stability’ and ‘national unity’, refuse to take action against these trouble-making hate-spewing groups.

One person who does appear to get easily confused is Ibrahim Ali (or those of his lk),who often acts as if his faith is quite brittle.

In the meantime, ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad seems to have overcome his oft-shaky memory when he admitted he was actually in the country on 19 November 1985 during the terrible and bloody Memali incident, which has yet to achieve closure.

14 April 2014

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Buat rakyat Malaysia yang berketurunan Tamil, saya ucapkan kepada anda sekeluarga “Iniya Chitterai Puthandu Naal Valthukal

Tidak dilupakan juga buat masyarakat Sikh yang meraikan hari Vaisakhi. Gagasan hari Vaisakhi yang menyeru kepada persahabatan dan pemahaman bersama sewajarnya terus diterapkan terutamanya dalam merealisasikan negara Malaysia yang lebih bersatupadu.

Anwar Ibrahim

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