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19 April 2012

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Malaysia Chronicle

The Tun Dr Mahathir who still stubbornly remains fixated on the falsified notion of his that the Malays and the Chinese are potent forces with ingrained enmity against and for each other deserves outright condemnation. It in fact is a racist remark and deserves the Rule of Law to act decisively.

The Tun fails to see that the DAP, PKR and PAS all have all races within their party as members. Has he ever walked the streets of Kota Bahru to see how Malays and Chinese eat, work, play, live and laugh side by side? Has he walked into any Taman in sprawling Kuala Lumpur to see how all races live side by side and in the same flats happily?

Stop your racist view points for this is 2012 not 1969, Tun. You have seemingly deep frozen your philosphies with your Malay Dilema, really. The same type of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Sabahans and Sarawakians that still float within BN are also the members within the opposition coalition.

Opposition does not have Japanese, Russians, Mongolians or any other as their party members. They are all citizens of this land, please do not forget Che Det.

Loose coalition? What about Samy Vellu telling you off

Now the Tun also spoke of PR being a loose coalition that would spilt up quite easily. How presumptuous.

He fails to recall that only last week his MIC kingpin, Samy Vellu, who stood by him for 22 years revealed that he was stabbed in the back by none other than the Tun himself. Is this not worst than splitting because of ideology?

It is very clear that either the Tun is living a life too high up or that his gurkas are not keeping him piped on the ground realities today.

In any case PR better be forewarned. As the General Election looms around a mysterious corner, it is obligatory and a categorical imperative that all three members – PKR, DAP and PAS get their act cemented together. There should be no space for even a hairline crack or tiny chip to your solidarity, viewpoints and coalition principles.

It is mandatory that you script the same verse, sing the same song and dance to the same tune. You cannot afford any disagreement and conflicting statements to hit the sail. If you are not vigilant and are unable to harness the changing winds that is proving to be increasing in your favour, you risk losing all of it with any signs or even a whisper of your in-congruent positions.

And it certainly calls for solidarity and sacrifice; forget about compromises. Your combined intentions is to act in the best interest of nationhood and the future of all Malaysians who are the subjects of His Majesty and Council of Rulers and citizens of the same land.

Pakatan must stay united behind their anointed Leader

Let your anointed Leader be the torch bearer at all times; let your lieutenants be a team. Put aside your ideologies and stand united for a common goal and agreed pathways.

This is not the season to go to battle with internal conflicts and jostlings with a mysterious enemy who cannot even tell you fairly and squarely when election date is. Hold on to a nation-manifesto not a party-blueprint. The 13th GE is not about political party winning; it is about returning to society what rightfully belongs to a nation’s citizens.

Once you have won the battle hands down, you can get back to your drawing boards to see how best you can galvanise your divergent strengths and distinct ideologies to work together in delivering on the promises to nationhood.

Tough yes, but it is do-able. It is worth all the price and prize because we get to put the nation back on its path that is not riddled with corruption, racism, divisive politics and personal, self-serving greed.

Like they say,:When the going gets tough, only the tough can get going.

DSAI must prove the Tun wrong

And having said that, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the responsibility falls on your shoulders.

Surely you can carry the yoke with ease given your incarceration in prison, the unceremonious and acrimonious slanders slammed upon you and your family, and most importantly with the dedicated support of the coalition members who have come a long way of fifty over years struggling with commitment and determination despite the mammoth and almost insurmountable challenges and frustrations thrown in their way.

In short, prove the Tun wrong. There is no space for self-centered mistakes. PR cannot afford to make apologies like their opposition the BN.

Let us march on and show the world that we have made Malaysia ‘Truly Asia’ – a nation of solidarity, harmony, co-existence, justice, civil liberties and democratic to the dot.

And on that score, dear Tun, please also be informed that people who vote for the opposition are not lacking in common sense. It is just that the voters have grown tired of all the promises undelivered and the hurt thrown at them for half a century. And you Sir will have to take the whole blame because we gave you the benefit of doubt for 22 years only to drive us to the other side of the wall.

19 April 2012

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Harakah

KUALA LUMPUR, 19 April: Sekumpulan antara 40 hingga 80 samseng berkelakuan biadap apabila menyerang perkhemahan mahasiswa di Dataran Merdeka, kira-kira jam 2.30 pagi, lapor KeadilanDaily.
 
Berpakaian serba hitam, samseng itu turut meroboh khemah, memukul mahasiwa dan orang ramai yang menyokong perkhemahan dengan menumpu sasaran terhadap mereka yang membawa kamera dan perakam video.
 
(Kanan: Mahasiswa dan orang ramai berkumpul menceritakan detik-detik cemas, namun semangat mereka tidak luntur.)

Kejadian itu menyebabkan seorang lelaki terpaksa dihantar menaiki ambulans ke hospital manakala beberapa orang termasuk mahasiswa, ditendang, ditampar dan ditumbuk.
 
“Saya sedang tidur dalam khemah sebelum terjaga apabila muka saya ditendang dari luar,” kata penuntut sarjana Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Nur Ruqayyah Abdul Rahman yang berpurdah itu kepada Keadilan Daily, awal pagi ini.
 
Beliau yang turut kehilangan telefon bimbit akibat insiden itu berkata demikian ketika berkongsi detik cemas itu bersama mahasiswa dan orang ramai.
 
Kebanyakan mereka kesal kerana kumpulan samseng itu dibiar bermaharaja lela walaupun balai polis bergerak terletak hanya 10 meter dari lokasi perkhemahan.
 
Seorang saksi lain kesal kerana polis enggan memberi bantuan walaupun beliau merayu bantuan tetapi anggota pihak berkuasa itu memberi alasan ‘bimbang keselamatan mereka terancam’.
 
(Kiri: Khemah mahasiswa yang dirosakkan kumpulan samseng.)

Dalam kejadian itu, samseng turut melontar kata-kata kesat dan mencampakkan cermin mata aktivis sosial, Fahmi Reza manakala rakannya, Boon Kia Meng, seorang pensyarah institusi pengajian tinggi swasta, ditumbuk.
 
“Sebaik saja keluar khemah akibat kekecohan itu, saya hanya duduk tanpa membalas cercaan mereka. Sebaliknya, mereka ambil dan campak cermin mata saya. Kia Meng di sebelah pula ditumbuk,” katanya.
 
Kamera Nurul Haniza Mohamad, 24, pula rosak selepas ia dirampas ketika dikerumuni lima atau enam samseng.
 
“Mereka tarik baju dan beg saya. Ada seorang tunjal kepala saya sambil menghambur kata-kata kesat,” katanya yang berasal dari Batu Arang, Selangor.
 
(Kanan: Kebiadapan samseng tidak mematahkan semangat mahasiswa untuk terus berkhemah sehingga 28 April ini.)

Seorang ahli Unit Amal PAS Batu, Mohd Kassim Abdullah, 24, pula ditampar dua kali, malah disiram air oleh sekumpulan samseng berkenaan.
 
Sungguhpun berdepan kekasaran samseng itu, semua mahasiswa dan kumpulan penyokong tetap bersemangat, malah membuat ketetapan untuk terus kekal berada di situ.

19 April 2012

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Malaysiakini

Ketua pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim menegaskan bahawa golongan kaya perlu membayar semula pinjaman melalui Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN) walau Pakatan Rakyat komited untuk memansuhkan bayaran itu.

Anwar berkata, Pakatan akan berusaha untuk menyediakan rangka kerja untuk memberi pendidikan percuma dan memansuhkan pinjaman semula itu.

Namun langkah itu lebih banyak melibatkan golongan miskin dan juga yang berpendapatan sederhana yang tidak mampu membiaya pendidikan selain melalui pinjaman, katanya.

Katanya lagi, peluang pendidikan bukanlah satu masalah kepada golongan kaya dan maha kaya, katanya lagi,

“Saya dengar, anak lelaki bos AirAsia (Tan Sri) Tony Fernandes pun memohon (pinjaman PTPTN), ini tak munasabah,” katanya dengan berjenaka dalam satu sidang media selepas mempengerusikan mesyuarat majlis pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat hari ini.

19 April 2012

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Sinar Harian

KUALA LUMPUR – Pakatan Rakyat (PR) mencadangkan agar Selangor tidak turut serta dalam Pilihan Raya Umumke-13 (PRU13) serentak bersama Kerajaan Pusat jika Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) gagal membersihkan senarai daftar pemilihyang dipertikaikan pembangkang.

Perkara itu diputuskan pada mesyuarat Majlis Pimpinan PR di sini, petang ini.

Ketua Umumnya, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim berkata, jika PRU13 diadakan dalam tempoh singkat ini, Selangor tidak akan turut serta selagi SPR tidak membersihkan senarai daftar pemilih.

Pada 17 November lepas, Abdul Khalid berkata, Dun Selangor tidak akan dibubarkan pada awal tahun ini meskipun kerajaan Persekutuan bertindak membubarkan Parlimen dan hanya bersedia menyertai pilihan raya umum ke-13 jika ia diadakan selepas
Jun 2012.

Menteri Besar Kelantan, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat telah menyatakan kesediaan untuk mengadakan pilihan raya negeri serentak dengan Parlimen bagi menjimatkan peruntukan kewangan dan tenaga kerja.

Menteri Besar Kedah Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak pula menyerahkan keputusan kepada kepimpinan parti untuk menentukannya.

18 April 2012

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Jom Bersih 3.0

20 April 2012 (Jumaat)

1)    5.00 ptg – Perjumpaan Dengan Masyarakat India

          Lokasi : Ladang Alma, Bukit Mertajam

2)    7.00 mlm – Solat Dan Tazkirah Maghrib

         Lokasi: Masjid Daerah Balik Pulau

3)    8.00 – 11.30 mlm – Majlis Makan Malam

         Lokasi: Komplek Sukan Balik Pulau

4)    Penceramah:

i.                    YB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim

ii.                  YAB Lim Guan Eng

iii.                YB Dato’ Mansor Othman

iv.               YBhg Dato’ Seri Chua Jui Meng

v.                 YB Fauziah Salleh   

5) 9.00 – 12.00 mlm – Ceramah Perdana – Jom Bersih 3.0

         Lokasi : Taman Cermai, Sama Gagah, Permatang Pauh

6)    Penceramah:

i.                    YB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim

ii.                  YAB Lim Guan Eng

iii.                YB Dato’ Mansor Othman

iv.               YB Dato’ Salleh Man 

18 April 2012

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Malaysiakini

A pre-Bersih 3.0 rally last night raised eyebrows when Tamrin Abdul Ghafar, son of former deputy prime minister Abdul Ghafar Baba, made his debut by urging the crowd to throw their support behind the April 28 sit-in protest to demand clean and fair elections.

Tamrin (right) took to the stage and declared: “I have a clarification to make, I am still an Umno member.”

This invited laughter and some jeers from nearly 2,000 people who filled the muddy field in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.

“But today, I have decided to come down to the ground with you because I can no longer bear to see the electoral system being manipulated for the sake of maintaining power,” he said.

Tamrin claimed that it was his first time speaking on stage since 1986. He was last spotted in 2010 with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim at a ceramah, but he was then a guest and made no speech.

Last night’s rally, marking the 10-day countdown to the massive protest expected at Dataran Merdeka on April 28, saw several participants wearing the trademark yellow Bersih T-shirt.

They sat on makeshift mats on wet grass to listen to speeches by some 31 activists, student leaders and politicians.

Tamrin contrasted premier Najib Abdul Razak’s administration with that of his father.

He said Abdul Razak had willingly surrendered power after assuming absolute authority as head of the National Operations Council following the May 13, 1969 riots.

“But today, I am saddened to see that our country can simply be sold to foreigners for the sake of winning (the general election),” he said.

Pointing to media reports that tens of thousands of foreigners were being granted instant citizenship in exchange for votes, Thamrin related that he too, had come across a Pakistani taxi driver, who was in fact a Malaysian citizen.

He also conveyed a message to the crowd from Umno veteran and Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, popularly known as Ku Li.

“Ku Li has clearly said that he supports what Bersih is doing and he is also supportive of calls by Anwar and allies for PTPTN to be abolished in favour of free education. This is the best investment for our country,” he said.

‘Don’t let them steal the election’

Another surprise guest was former information minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir who urged the audience not to allow BN to “steal the election”.

“I was an Umno member for 56 years and it was a party owned by the members, the leaders were clean. But as time passed, it appeared that it had become their (selected few) fathers’ party.

“They stole this and stole that, I could no longer tolerate it and quit as a minister at the peak of my career,” he said.

“After I quit, I remained silent but the stealing became worse. Millions were no longer enough, its now in the billions, in the end I could no longer take it and quit the party.”

He said elections cannot be called until the government provides fair access to the media and stops abusing government machinery, the police and the army to give it an upper hand in the polls.

“Don’t forget that 48 percent of people voted for Pakatan Rakyat in 2008 without media access, half of the country was being blacked out… this is not a democracy.”

Abdul Kadir, who claimed that he had secretly supported the two Bersih rallies in 2007 and 2011, pledged to show up on April 28. He was then handed a Bersih T-shirt which he put on.

Others who spoke at the rally included PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, PKR deputy presidents Nurul Izzah Anwar and Tian Chua, PSM secretary-general S Arulchelvan, former Perak menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin, Bersih steering committee members Maria Chin Abdullah and Hishammuddin Rais, Himpunan Hijau steering committee member Clement Chin and Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia chief Safwan Anang.

Also gracing the event was Anne Ooi who shot to fame during the Bersih rally last July when she was photographed standing in front a phalanx of Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) officers holding a yellow flower and drenched in acid- laced water.

The retired teacher, accompanied by Kota Raja state assemblyperson Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, cheekily told the crowd to give Najib “a headache”.

“Are afraid of the police? Are you afraid of Umno? Are you afraid of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)?” she asked, to which the crowd roared “No!”

Dataran Merdeka, the main venue for Bersih 3.0 rally which is expected to be simultaneously staged in more than 50 cities locally and globally, is under the jurisdiction of DBKL.

‘Rally for justice, no more deaths’

Azhar Mohd Kassim, the nephew of Baharuddin Baharuddin Ahmad who had died amid the chaos of the police crackdown in the Bersih 2.0 rally, appealed to the crowd to fulfill his uncle’s last wish.

“When my uncle left for the protest, he said he was doing it for justice… I hope that you can join the rally to uphold justice,” he said.

However, Azhar said he hoped the rally this time would not face a similar police crackdown and result in injuries and deaths.

As Bersih co-chairperson A Samad Said, better known as Pak Samad took the stage, marking the final lap of the rally, the audience huddled closer to listen to the 77-year-old national laureatte.

“We have received hurtful answers from the Election Commission that constantly favour those in power… it is time for everyone to take responsibility if our democracy is tainted,” he said.

“April 28 will be an important day to voice our dissatisfaction with what has happened in the last 54 years.”

Pak Samad also commended the student activists who have taken a two-week head start to camp at Dataran Merdeka in spite of harassment from DBKL.

“If they (authorities) insist on evicting you from Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), then it is Dataran Penjajah (Colonialists Square); therefore anyone who prevents our right to gather at Dataran Merdeka is a colonialist,” he said.

Later, some 300 people visited the students, who entered the fifth day of camping there.

Police and DBKL officers have remained mum so far on whether Bersih will be allowed to hold its rally at Dataran Merdeka.

However, the organisers say they will go ahead with the rally with or without the authorities’ consent.

18 April 2012

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Malaysiakini

Peguam terkemuka Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah didakwa dilantik oleh Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak dan isterinya Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor untuk tugasan sulit di luar negara daripada 2 hingga 25 April.

Dalam satu surat bertarikh 23 Mac, beliau dikatakan memohon kepada ketua hakim negara, presiden Mahkamah Rayuan dan hakim besar Malaya – dengan salinan kepada Najib dan Rosmah – supaya semua kesnya antara tarikh itu dikosongkan.

Sebahagian kandungan surat itu didedahkan di Dewan Rakyat oleh Datuk Saifuddin Nasution (PKR-Machang) semasa membahaskan Rang Undang-undang Kanun Keseksaan 2012 semalam.

Saifuddin ketika membacakan surat itu mendakwa, Shafee dilantik bagi pihak kerajaan Malaysia, terutamanya Najib dan isteri, untuk menjalankan tugas perundangan sensitif di luar negara yang mesti diselesaikan sebelum pilihan raya umum.

Shafee juga akan menjelajah tiga negara – New York, London dan Dubai – dan kemungkinan juga Paris dan akan terlibat dalam persediaan perundangan intensif, seperti berunding dengan pelbagai pihak serta saksi mereka, dakwa Saifuddin lagi.

Selain itu Shafee juga akan ditugaskan untuk merangka tuntutan dan afidavit serta dan mewawancara saksi yang berada di New York, London, Paris dan Basel (Switzerland), dakwanya.

Tugasan Shafee itu didakwa mempunyai kaitan dengan siasatan oleh kerajaan Perancis terhadap dakwaan rasuah dalam pembelian kapal selam Scorpene oleh kerajaan Malaysia, yang sekali gus dijangka menyentuh kes pembunuhan penterjemah Mongolia Altantuya Sharibuu, enam tahun lalu.

Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz dalam reaksi segera berkata beliau tidak dapat mengulas isu isu sehingga kesahihan surat yang didedahkan disahkan terlebih dahulu.

17 April 2012

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Malaysia Chronicle

Today, the raging debate is about PTPTN loans. Buried within this concern that has gone viral and public today is a long and festering issue of making education into a business to profiteer from. The trophy of course goes to Tun Dr Mahathir although he has recently and as usual, blamed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim entirely.

When the Pakatan Leader announced that the Opposition political party will do away with education loans and ensure everyone had free access to higher education, the avalanche of BN machinery has come cascading.

Senior BN personalities have immediately dismissed the notion of free education. Their arguments ranged from maintaining that the nation would be bankrupted to one of one of putting the blame entirely on the head of DSAI. How pathetic.

But history is recorded. Let us take a trip down memory lane.

This is what Tunku said

In 1958 the late YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj declared, “Here I would like to emphasize that there is one thing the Government will not consider in terms of lack of money, and that is the question of education. In this case, the Government is giving special consideration in order to honor its education policy. The future of the country depends a great deal on the students of today.”

We did not have petro-dollars then; we did not have the highly profitable palm oil either. We were a poor, fourth-world nation that had just earned its independence after having lost so much wealth to feed and comfort the colonial powers. But Bapa Malaysia had that courage, determination and wisdom to recognize that education was the cornerstone for the future of the nation. He made it very clear that the Government must shoulder this responsibility fully.

And YTM Tunku encapsulated the role and responsibility very clearly – one that does not let money to be the impediment of education. If the money had to be found, it better be found so that every one can have free education.

And what Hussein Onn said

If that is not enough, let us hear out another Visionary Leader, the late YAB Dato’ Hussein Onn who held in 1979, “It has always been the Government’s desire to widen the opportunities and access to higher education for all. Tertiary education should not be confined only to those who can afford or those who come from higher income groups. But, it should be available to everyone who qualifies.”

Again, a right thinking Government ensured that there are no financial impediments to further education.

Then came Mahathirism

But look at what Mahathirism has yoked the rakyat with. Through all kinds of unprecedented privatization policies, crutches, favoritism, Ali Baba schemes, and what have you, the visions of our past Leaders were systematically dismantled and abandoned by the doctor who helmed the nation for 22 years.

And today when the students, unable to continue any longer with the burden of PTPTN loan schemes – given the spiraling cost of living and shrinking purse strings, raise the alarm what do we get in rebuttal?

> blaming the Opposition leader;

> challenging the opposition held States to go it alone;

> attempting to justify by stating that the Government already subsidizes the cost of education;

> taking high handed action against protestors; threatening that the country would sink into bankruptcy if education was free;

> accusing those in support of free education of becoming victims of populist ideologies – all of these despite having created for the select and privileged few a handful of billionaires;

> extravagant lifestyles for BN leaders and their families;

> recording eyebrow-raising profits year in, year out for some select companies;

> and what have you.

Just shut up and study!

One cannot question the wheeler-dealer mega million businesses inked under cloak and cover of the Official Secrets Act (OSA); arresting and shutting down people in the know who question such deals with the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) and beating up people with scare tactics and chemical laced water cannons if they protest in public.

“Your job students is to shut up and study, otherwise we will throw you out” has been the all too often threat billowed down the necks of students who moaned and groand under the trying conditions.

Too busy with bailouts for cronies

It is not a problem to pump billions of ringgit into loss making Government ventures; it is also okay to rescue sons and daughters and proxies when they hit troubled financial waters, thereby costing the nation’s coffers millions of ringgit.

So Mahathir set in motion an idea that was contrary to what YAB Dato’ Hussein Onn and YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj had about education. For the Tun and BN, education cannot be free. If you want we will lend you some money but you better pay up or else we will come after you like a blood hound.

Today when it comes to education, all the way from pre-school to the graduate corridors it is money making. From school bags to pencils, from text books to workbooks, from sports to extra-curriculum activities, from projects to examinations – it is money. Even to get to do your mandatory internship, you have to fork out your own money because the pittance paid by some organizations cannot even buy you one lunch every day.

No money, no talk.

And on top of that you have to borrow from your own Government and earn your guts out to make good all payments.

So, in a nutshell is it not a case of bonded slavery in disguise? The ordinary rakyat must slog all the way to his or her tombstone making others richer. If you happen to get rich through the long corridors of education, sheer hard work, and some luck, you must also keep paying the rent-seekers to keep moving on, right?

When do we say enough is enough? When do we say the buck stops right here? When do wake up and see the whole truth? And how?

It is only when we are all agreed on the answers to these questions can we start back from where our founding fathers YAB Dato’ Hussein Onn and YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Al-Haj left us.

Otherwise, we are headed in one direction – all the way downhill for a crash landing. But by then the pilots would have fled to their havens under the pretext of giving others a chance to lead, you know.

16 April 2012

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From Asia 360 News

How does a Muslim village boy who faithfully attends Quran classes and goes home to the works of Lao Tzu and Confucius, grow up to view the world — and his country? The scope of Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s worldview is matched by the breadth of his political ambitions. Having risen from the ashes, the leader of Malaysia’s opposition is raring to prove his mettle at the upcoming elections.

Asia360 News editor-in-chief Goh Chien Yen caught up with Anwar Ibrahim in an exclusive interview at the Houses of Parliament, to discuss how exactly the firebrand politician plans to do that.

Asia360 News: There is a lot of talk about the general elections being round the corner. Some predict that they could be held as early as June this year. When do you think it will be?

Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim: I don’t know. I’m not particularly good at speculating. But the incessant attacks in the UMNO media on the opposition and their rosy coverage of [Malaysian Prime Minister] Najib’s movements, which you see virtually every day, is a sure sign of the imminent elections.

Q: Is the timing good for UMNO to call for an election soon?

AI: I don’t think the timing is actually good for UMNO. You see, they have downplayed UMNO as a party. They are projecting Najib, to show that he’s trying to do his level best. Relying solely on him, however, is to acknowledge the fact that there are strong sentiments against UMNO and the Barisan Nasional coalition. The other component parties that used to play a major role — MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) and the MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) particularly — are completely sidelined. I don’t believe they’re that confident.

Q: And the timing is good for the opposition, for Pakatan Rakyat? What’s your plan for the upcoming election in order to boost your chances of getting into the government?

AI: Well, we’re working very hard under the circumstances. We have at least been able to present ourselves as a formidable force, a team, and I think that has helped. Unlike Najib, they’re projecting him, but we always appear — the three party leaders [of the opposition coalition] — together. Then, there’s a clear common platform from Buku Jingga, the Orange Book, and on some issues we presented at the recent Pakatan Rakyat Convention. The good thing is that we’ve been working very hard on those issues. We presented the case not only as an alternative government, but with clear policies laid out.

Q: So what are some of these clear policies from an economic standpoint? The Malaysian economy seems to be doing quite well, registering about 5% growth for 2011 despite the global slowdown. What can you do differently or do better on the economic front?

AI: We are of course for market economics and market reforms, but to us, governance is central. Price hikes here are mainly due to monopoly. Rice and sugar are the monopoly of a few select companies controlled by family members of cronies. We believe that if things are done in a transparent manner and proper procurement policies, tender process, then we can minimally reduce some of these problems.

And this figure, the 5% growth, does not really resonate with the masses. Unlike our neighbouring countries, we’re a net exporter of petroleum; the revenue rests comfortably with this huge income resource.

I don’t think we have much of an issue with infrastructure, or economic growth. People tend to compare us with mostly developing economies. But I would always say that we should be compared with Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, and not Myanmar and Bangladesh. But what is more important in terms of economic policies is that we have the capacity to move forward at a faster pace and to improve, radically shift and substantially improve the quality of education.

Q: So these are what you see as the immediate challenges if you were to get into power. What would your priorities be in your first 100 days in office?

AI: We need to make sure and be clear that it is not a race-based politics, number one. Number two, the issue of governance. If an observer looks at the growth figures, they know what is lost to corruption.

Q: If the opposition comes into power, Malaysia will be faced with an unprecedented situation of UMNO not being in government. How would others such as the judiciary, military and the monarchy react to this new political state of affairs?

AI: This issue is probably relevant much earlier. In 1969, it was a race question. The opposition was seen to be an attack on the Malays. It is not necessarily right; I’m talking about perceptions here. By 2008, we [the opposition] controlled five states — this is not a concern anymore. We are talking about an UMNO-dominated government versus the opposition, which is also Malay-led, so you can’t use this race card. Also now that we have been in government at the state level for some years, our interactions with the military, the police, has been deeper, and also with the sultans.

Q: So you think Malaysia is ready to move further away from race-based politics that have dominated the political scene for so long?

AI: If you look at the 2000 elections, it’s clearly a departure. It’s been quite clear since 2007. Some critics painted the picture that that if we do take over, it will be like a stooge to the Chinese. It has been used by Mahathir [the former prime minister] against me and it was used by Najib against me. He had publicly said that I will be a stooge of the Chinese, particularly the DAP (Democratic Action Party). My style has never been to be apologetic. Why can’t I be used by the Chinese and the Malays and the Indians, for the good of this country? Instead of just denying, “No, I will not.” Although this has been a major campaign in rural areas about the insecurity of the Malays, I think it’s over. People finally want to know about the future, their welfare. You go to the Penang Malays, it’s not whether a Chinese is chief minister, it is about their housing, about access to credit, which are their concerns. So we’ll have to address these issues.

Q: What are the challenges for Malaysia as it modernises while remaining faithful to its religious and cultural heritage? Do you see a balance that could be struck or will it always be a source of tension?

AI: We have been able to navigate this successfully, maintaining our posture as a tolerant, moderate, Muslim society. The so-called contentious religious issues were not raised by religious scholars but were purely a political ploy. After all, this race card, religion card are all inculcating a climate of fear. What they want to hear is what you have to offer in terms of concrete policies. If and when we do take over, then the constitutional guarantees and framework will be made on the issues of language and religion, which I think is clearly acceptable to Muslims and non-Muslims in this country. But, having said that, I wouldn’t want to discredit the fact that it would still continue. Look at the UMNO media; it’s a daily dosage of Christians versus Malays, so they may attempt to send this message through their incessant propaganda efforts to the rural heartlands.

Q: You’ve been scandalised, beaten, stripped of your title and thrown into jail. What keeps you going?

AI: I’m just plain crazy!

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration?

AI: I’m not crazy; I was just quoting Mandela. After I was released, he invited me, Azizan and the children to visit him. So we went to Johannesburg, because he wasn’t doing too well. He was very apologetic, he said, “Anwar, I’m sorry we’re not able to do much.” I said, “Look, you did your best.” He had immense influence and he was successful in even getting me out of the country for treatment in Johannesburg. He said: “People like us, people say we’re mad, we’re crazy.” Then I intercepted and said to him, “Mad, for sure we are not, but crazy, yes.” But I don’t know. I’m grateful for my parents, they were quite idealistic, my late mum and my father.

Others have asked me how I see Mahathir now, and I spent the first 20 minutes talking about the nice time I had with him. They said, “No, please be serious.” I said, “I am!” That’s a wonderful thing to have. Of course I get angry, I counter his arguments, rebut very strongly, in some ways despise his hypocrisy, the gross injustice, but I wouldn’t deny the positive contributions he made. But the destruction of the institutions of government, that’s unforgivable. Personally, I’m okay, I moved on, but the judiciary, media, the police force, parliament, were all relegated to becoming inconsequential.

Q: Speaking of your relationship with Mahathir, do you have any regrets in the sense that perhaps things could have been done differently? After all, you were the heir-apparent. You were the deputy prime minister, slated to become the next leader.

AI: Oh, I thought about that a lot. You have to remember, I was in prison, so what do you do? Meditate, read and think. And sing, I sing quite a bit too. You do, you reflect, but then it was mutual, he was kind to me and I was exceedingly kind and loyal to him. It was a very difficult period but I don’t think I had much option towards the end. In fact, I’ve always said to my more critical friends that I have absolved myself. After all, we were part of the government. Some of the decisions were bitter, but we needed to draw the line. Things like bailouts, things like the corruption reports against ministers, already on your table, and for you to say “not to do anything”… you have to bring it up! But people say you could have compromised, some friends did say that. But then you would have transgressed the boundary. If or when you do take over, how do you then rationalise with the public what you’ve done? If it’s done by the prime minister, well there’s not much I can do. But if it is condoned by you, you have a problem. So, do I regret it? No. Was it difficult? Yes. Do I think I had other options? No, except to resign early, to die a fighter.

Q: You’re also a man of ideas. It was about 17 years ago when you wrote the book “Asian Renaissance”. A lot has happened since. Asia is on the rise. Do you think what you described as renaissance is happening now? And where do you see Malaysia in this emerging Asia?

AI: That book became quite contentious because people close to Mahathir thought we were clearly parting ways. Secondly, the central idea of economics empowerment is critical, but not everything, that’s why I talked about renaissance, cultural empowerment, I talked about freedom, and justice. And I think there was a flaw in the thinking at that time of these economic gurus: prescriptions by the World Bank, the IMF about the East Asian economic miracle, and so forth. They didn’t talk about disparity, the marginalised, the poor, whether the judiciary is independent or not, or if the media’s free. To them ‘the miracle’ was in terms of a limited notion of economics and power. I hold very dearly the thesis I presented in that book. That’s why I used the term ‘renaissance’.

Q: Do you think this is happening now? There have been some changes. Indonesia has changed and is now a proud democracy. Malaysia has made progress too, slightly more liberal and democratic these days.

AI: I don’t think they’re that liberal — they are forced to be. Look at the parliament proceedings today — a mockery, a joke. But it’s a challenge. Once you are transformed into a relatively vibrant democracy, then you actually allow for space. And that latitude is essential for the mushrooming of ideas. That, to me, is very critical when you talk in terms of economics or cultural empowerment.

That is happening more successfully in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand because they are more democratic. Although I wouldn’t want to deny the fact that Indonesia, too, is facing a major problem due to endemic corruption and marginalisation. If the issue of governance is not resolved, people have this suspicion, then whatever policies, however rational or good, will always be suspect. Is it to enrich your cronies or is it really something really essential to the masses? Trust is important.

Q: What would you consider your greatest political achievement to date?

AI: I’ve not achieved much. For now, I’m cementing the three parties together. Fortunately, the leaders of the three parties are like-minded and willing to collaborate for a common agenda. But there is still a long way to go. So we shall see. People say that success means you assume office. It’s not true. Success is when you’re able to deliver. It’s not when you attain the position. That’s I think the wisdom of having been there and being downtrodden. And I think that keeps your sanity and humility. I think that’s important. People think being prime minister is the end, but I don’t think so. I think you should be evaluated and judged. And when you’re able to honour your commitments after you assume office, and remain true to your ideas, that, to me, is a far greater challenge than articulating this ideal in the absence of authority or power. When you’re there, you deal with the realpolitik, with the power play, with the big forces, with the tycoons. If they give you a 10 million dollar ring, what do you do?

Q: There’s a strong moral conviction behind your political action. What keeps you true? What keeps you walking the straight and narrow and not, like you said, being wavered by the 10 million dollar ring or turning your eye away from what you think is not right?

AI: I’m a man of faith; I’m a practicing Muslim. At the same time, I grew up well thanks to my parents. My mother is not English-educated but she’s an avid reader. She virtually read all novels in Malay or in Bahasa Indonesia in those days, the entire collection of Balai Pustaka books. And my dad, we always had these small compendiums of books, from Gandhi to Lao Tzu to Confucius, and it’s interesting. For a Muslim family in a village, with a small library at home, we have that. So you familiarise yourself. I go to Quran class, and following the Nabi (prophet), as an intellectual, you don’t view religion purely from a dogmatic sense but you engage.

Roger Garaudy was a great philosopher, who started off being a Christian in France, then later on became a Muslim. It’s very interesting what he said, unlike a new convert. He said, “I’m blessed, I grew up a Christian, and that’s where I learnt compassion and tolerance. Then I became a Communist, and I had strong empathy and love for the poor and downtrodden. Then I became a Muslim and then I became more universal.” So just because he is a Muslim, the past is no longer relevant? No, the past is what is him. Exactly what Amartya Sen had said. In his book “Identity and Violence”, he said, “I’m an Indian, I memorised Sanskrit at the age of nine and I think it was a great thing, I’m a Hindu and I think we have a great civilisation, but because I’m in India, I think that Muslim moguls have done wonderfully well. But later I became a professor in Cambridge, in Harvard. I think it’s a great institution and I love being here in America and despite the fact that I grew up in Santiniketan, I am a great admirer of Shakespeare. So who am I?” And that is beautiful. I use that a lot. And when you read it and understand it and you see these people talking about Malay supremacy, oh my god, they know nothing. CY & FE

16 April 2012

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Angkatan Muda KEADILAN (AMK) merujuk kepada kenyataan YABhg. Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, bekas Perdana Menteri yang dilaporkan oleh agensi berita BERNAMA semalam yang mendakwa bahawa Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN) diwujudkan ketika YB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim memegang jawatan Timbalan Perdana Menteri.

Berdasarkan fakta, kenyataan YABhg. Tun Dr. Mahathir itu adalah tepat namun demikian adalah mustahil bagi beliau untuk menafikan kenyataan bahawa ketika PTPTN ditubuhkan, beliau sendiri memegang jawatan Perdana Menteri dan YAB Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak (kini Perdana Menteri) pula merupakan Menteri Pendidikan yang bertanggungjawab membentangkan Rang Undang-Undang Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional 1997 di Dewan Rakyat pada ketika itu.

Jika merujuk kepada handsard Parlimen Kesembilan, Penggal Ketiga, Mesyuarat Pertama (Jilid III, Bil. 26) bertarikh 13 Mei 1997 [dilampirkan], Rang Undang-Undang Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional 1997 telah dibentangkan untuk bacaan kali kedua dan ketiga oleh YAB Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib (ketika itu Menteri Pendidikan) pada jam 9.06 malam.

Rang undang-undang ini kemudiannya telah diluluskan dan dimaktubkan menjadi Akta Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional 1997 dan seterusnya PTPTN telah ditubuhkan di bawah akta ini yang mula berkuatkuasa pada 1 Julai 1997.

Justeru, kenyataan YABhg. Tun Dr. Mahathir yang dilaporkan oleh media semalam tidak akan sekali-kali menafikan fakta bahawa inisiatif penubuhan PTPTN adalah dilaksanakan di bawah pentadbiran beliau yang ketika itu merupakan Perdana Menteri dan juga YAB Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak yang ketika itu menjawat Menteri Pendidikan dan merupakan menteri yang bertanggungjawab membentangkan Rang Undang-Undang Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional pada 1997.

 

NAJWAN HALIMI
Timbalan Ketua Penerangan
Angkatan Muda KEADILAN

16 April 2012

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim insisted today that the newly-proposed security law to replace the Internal Security Act (ISA) still contravenes human rights, and demanded it be referred to a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for review.

The opposition leader, when debating the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill in Parliament this morning, argued that the law now transfers the power to make arbitrary arrests to the judiciary instead of the executive arm of government.

He pointed out that while the controversial 52-year-old ISA grants absolute powers to the home minister to order a person’s detention, the new security law offers the same power to the courts.

“Now, all that is needed to be done is for the public prosecutor to merely suggest to the court that the individual be rearrested… what is the difference from the ISA?

“It is just that now we are using the court process to detain a person,” Anwar (picture) said.

The Bill, tabled for first reading last week as a replacement to the ISA, stipulates that those under trial for a security offence, once acquitted, upon application by the public prosecutor, can be remanded in prison pending a notice of appeal against the court’s decision.

In effect, this means the accused will be kept imprisoned until all appeal avenues are exhausted.

Anwar, who is also Pakatan Rakyat (PR) de facto leader, however commended the repeal of the ISA, saying that it has been a long-time struggle of the opposition.

But he said that while Malaysia still needs laws to combat terrorism, the government should look into total reforms to the country’s security framework instead of merely enacting fresh laws.

“We do not want Malaysia to be a base for terrorist activities… we do want to have tough measures against terrorism.

“Why not set up a counter-insurgency unit for the police force? Why is 30 per cent of the police force made up of the Special Branch unit that is more of a counter-Pakatan insurgency unit?

“The institutional framework must be there… therefore, we have to oppose to the specific provisions in this Bill that is contrary to human rights provisions,” he told a press conference later.

15 April 2012

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Malaysia Chronicle

My dear Tun Dr Mahathir

I’m at a loss as to whether you are hallucinating or failing to see the reality.

Your views on Penang and Selangor are misconceived and misplaced. You come across as a dishonest politician determined to score political points and mislead Malaysian voters. You do no credit to yourself nor do you live up to your reputation as an elder statesman (Bernama, 29 January 2012).

Your statement, “They have already been given a lot of chances. A lot of unhappy things have happened in Penang, the same (is happening) in Selangor,” does not make any sense at all. “They have been given a lot of chances”, you unreasonably claim.

Pakatan only came to power on March 8, 2008. They have been in office only for four short years. What chances were given to them and who gave them those chances? What are you talking about? What miracles were you expecting them to perform in this short period of time?

Compare their short term of office to the Barisan Nasional’s nearly 55 years of tenure – truthfully and honestly. We can justifiably throw back at the BN the very words you had uttered: “They (BN) have already been given a lot of chances. A lot of unhappy things have happened in Penang, the same (is happening) in Selangor.” This is indeed a valid observation requiring an honest answer from you, dear Tun.

More than half a century

Indeed, 55 years is a very long time. It is more than half a century. The BN have been given all the chances it wanted and needed. But what have the BN achieved during their long tenure in office except undermining our unity and keeping the people apart? Our unity has been destroyed by senseless and thoughtless policies and statements without a care for the welfare of the majority of Malaysians who are peace-loving and poor.

Yes, Tun, if anybody had been given too much chance it is the BN. Indeed, what more can the BN do which they had failed to do during these 55 years? What miracles can the BN now perform to transform this country into a haven for all citizens and provide them with a dignified livelihood?

What do you actually mean by claiming, “They have been given the chance. What’s there left to try. If we allow the situation to deteriorate badly, it will be difficult to repair.”

Your rambling statement, “If we allow the situation to deteriorate badly, it will be difficult to repair” comes across as ridiculous and garrulous. What has the Pakatan done that has brought about the deterioration? What is that they are doing that would render the problem beyond repair? Please be specific and enumerate the wrongdoings of the Pakatan.

Don’t make statements you can’t back up

Tun, you should not make sweeping claims that are without merit. Many Malaysians are truly disappointed and disillusioned with you and justifiably feel that you have out-lived your usefulness as a political leader. You had your time and you did things the way you wanted to. That period is over and done with. There is nothing more for you to do.

Both Penang and Selangor have attracted the biggest FDI totalling more than RM15bn, which is unmatched by the BN-controlled states. Doesn’t this indicate positively that the Pakatan-controlled states are performing very much better in spite of their short term of tenure and lack of administrative experience and expertise? Honestly, dear Tun, doesn’t that deserve some praise?

You kept everything under wraps and resorted to the Official Secrets Act (OSA) to deny citizens their right to be informed. A lot of scandals and corruption prevailed because they are kept from the purview of public scrutiny and guarded as state secrets.

The Pakatan-controlled states in Selangor and Penang, on the other hand, have promulgated a Freedom of Information Act in order to be transparent and accountable. Tun, isn’t this something that has to be complimented?

Cronies and corruption

Under your tenure for 22 years, many crony politicians became wealthy beyond imagination and without being accountable for their wealth. Elected representatives and cabinet ministers declared their assets only to you and, according to certain well-informed circles, you had used this information to secure their unquestioning loyalty. That was how you had your way – it was your way and no other way!

We are reminded of the episode concerning the removal of Osman Aroff, the then Menteri Besar of Kedah, who had enjoyed the support of the majority of assembly members in Kedah. These assembly members went to see you, dear Tun, to plead for the retention of their MB. You, reportedly saw them individually and after that they all returned to Kedah abandoning Osman Aroff. Rumour had it then that you had a file on each of them and that forced them to fall in line behind you.

Dear Tun, Pakatan-controlled states of Selangor and Penang did something that you wouldn’t dare dream of doing. All their Exco members declared their assets publically. This is something that civil society of Malaysia has been campaigning for, for a very long time, claiming that this would curb corruption and check abuse of governance.

But you would not be persuaded. You wanted to be the sole privy to the corruption and abuse so that you would have absolute control over politicians holding public positions.

Many Malaysians, in the past, have worked loyally and faithfully and had contributed to the progress of this country. These old timers who retired many years ago are forced to struggle to live a hard life with their meagre pensions in these times of hardships. Their counterparts of modern times, on the other hand, draw reasonable pensions to lead a decent life. The hardships suffered by these senior citizens have not been addressed. Their contributions were not even acknowledged.

But the Pakatan government in Penang has been giving out RM100 once a year for the last three years to express their appreciation to these senior citizens. Admittedly, this isn’t very much but the very thought of appreciation really warms the hearts of these people. With the vast resources available to the BN, they are placed in a far better situation to do more to help these unfortunate people. But why, dear Tun, did the BN government not bother doing this? They could have shown a generous face and given more to these people with all the wealth at their disposal. But they did nothing!

Corruption has become so rampant that so much of our wealth is either lost or stolen to the detriment of the nation. Contracts given to crony companies with inflated costs have drained our wealth. Highway toll agreements, the Tajuddin-Malaysia Airlines out-of-court settlement, the rescue of Bank Rakyat and Bank Bumiputra, the reckless forex fiasco in the UK, the bungling Maminco tin-buying spree, to name a few – they have all resulted in the loss of billions of ringgit that could have alleviated the plight of the poor. These are, unfortunately, dear Tun, your legacies that brought terrible hardships for the homeless and the helpless.

Uplifting the people

You wouldn’t have open tenders for projects that would have saved billions of ringgit and secured the services of contractors with ability and proven expertise. That would have prevented some contractors from running away without completing their projects and ensured that buildings wouldn’t collapse because of poor workmanship and inferior materials. But repeated episodes of cheating contractors and uncompleted projects did not seem to disturb the conscience of those in charge. It was business as usual and billions of ringgit were regularly squandered without a care in the world.

On the other hand, now we have open tenders in the Pakatan states and Class F contractors are very happy and contented with this arrangement. According to these contractors, under the previous BN government, one had to have connections to get a contract and one had to give inducements to be considered favourably. Otherwise, getting contracts would have been impossible. But now, with open tenders, the deserving have been rewarded with contracts and they have delivered the completed projects on time. Isn’t this something that has to be appreciated, dear Tun?

Malaysian workers have been struggling for years for a minimum wage policy. The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has been championing this issue for decades. But it was opposed vehemently by the Malaysian Employers Federation, which wanted to reap hefty profits from the sweat of the workers. And the Malaysian government did not have the political will to implement the minimum wage policy. Thus we lost our local skilled workers and builders who left the country to work elsewhere. But the exploitation continues to this day with the employment of foreign workers.

Isn’t it praiseworthy that the Pakatan government in Selangor has implemented a minimum wage policy for all its employees in GLCs as from January this year? They are paid a minimum salary of RM1,500. Shouldn’t the employees enjoy the fruit of their labour, dear Tun?

Farmers in the new villages of Perak who have been tilling the land and growing vegetables and fruit for the country for generations were exploited and kept in a state of uncertainty as to their livelihood as they did not own the land. Every election this became a moot point for the farmers. Whether their TOL would be extended or cancelled was a worrying experience for these farmers. And when the BN wins the election in Perak, the TOL of these farmers would be renewed. The message was very clear. Vote for the BN or your TOL would not be renewed. They were beholden to the BN for the extension of their TOL.

The Pakatan government gave them the land titles and their dignity and freed them from their unnecessary anxiety. The rational was these farmers have been on the land for generations and have been serving the nation with their produce and they deserved the land titles. Isn’t this something wonderful that deserves to be congratulated, dear Tun?

Every voter who dies in Penang and Selangor is given RM1,000 and RM2,500 respectively for funeral expenses. This assistance is greatly appreciated, especially by the poor. For the first time a voter receives something very specific and substantial when he or she dies. This had never happened under BN rule. They bribe the living for their vote and forget them when they are dead. Under the Pakatan rule they take care of the living and the dead! Don’t they deserve a pat on their back, dear Tun?

All this caring and giving must make a great impact on the people. If given more time there will be other good policies that will benefit the people and perhaps make it difficult for the BN to make any headway in the future. Is that what is worrying you, dear Tun? Is this what you meant when you sounded the warning to the BN, “If we allow the situation to deteriorate, it will be difficult to repair”?

You have correctly foreseen the inevitable doom for the BN. You have realised that it will be difficult to undo the good deeds of the Pakatan. In comparison, the BN will be cast in poor light and cursed for neglecting the majority of the deserving Malaysians who are poor. You are seeing what is impending and you have the right to fear the inevitable, dear Tun!

By P Ramakrishnan Former president of Aliran

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