14 July 2014

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Council on Foreign Relations

Recent political unrest in parts of the Middle East has led many Western analysts to question the compatibility of Islam with democracy, but Indonesia—the world’s most populous Muslim country—is looking to tell a different story, the next chapter of which begins this week.

An important country about which most Americans know little, Indonesia is the world’s third-largest democracy, after India and the United States, and the tenth-largest economy. In recent years, it has enjoyed high growth, low inflation, an extremely low debt-to-GDP ratio, a strong stock market, and record-breaking exports and foreign direct investment.

Indonesia’s economic success has been built on the back of its even more impressive democratic development. In just a few years, after the fall of longtime strongman Suharto in 1998, the country transitioned from a tightly controlled authoritarian system to one of the most vibrant democracies on earth. Through three successive cycles of democratic elections—in 1999, 2004, and 2009—Indonesia has been hailed as a model of an open, moderate, tolerant, multiethnic, and multireligious society.

Presidential elections in Indonesia are among the most free in the world, with a “one man, one vote” system that is not intermediated by an electoral college, as in the United States. Indonesians have embraced this freedom with great fanfare over the past fifteen years. In Indonesia’s first democratic election, in 1999, more than 93 percent of its roughly 150 million voters participated. I had the privilege of monitoring that first election, which was broadly praised as free, fair, nonviolent, and well run, despite the absence of any democratic traditions in the country since the 1950s. While some of the initial euphoria about elections declined in subsequent contests, voter participation has remained above 70 percent in every cycle.

This week, Indonesians are set to test and, hopefully, build on that record as they choose a new president in the most hotly contested race in the country’s history. The race is a nail-biter, with the candidates polling within several points of each other—in some polls, within the margin of error and with a margin smaller than the number of undecided voters. The uncertainty of the outcome has left both the people of Indonesia and its markets on edge.

This is the first time that the incumbent is term-limited. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has served two five-year terms and cannot run again due to constitutional reforms. His party, moreover, did not win enough seats in the April legislative elections to field a candidate for the presidential race. For the first time in Indonesian history, the party in power is not fielding a candidate for the top job.

This election is also the first head-to-head contest, with the popular governor of Jakarta, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, running against the charismatic former commander of the Indonesian special forces and former Suharto son-in-law, Prabowo Subianto. In all previous election cycles, three or more contenders have vied for the presidency.

The race has forced the candidates to make clear distinctions between each other and led the other parties that won seats in the incoming legislature to quickly choose sides. With four of the five Islam-based parties supporting Prabowo, his coalition is perceived as more Islamic, while the coalition backing Jokowi is perceived as more secular and nationalist.

This divide dates back to the founding of the Indonesian state, when leaders of the struggle against the Dutch colonial power were writing a constitution in preparation for their declaration of independence. One of the primary debates among the independence leaders was whether the new state should be Islamic or essentially secular, but rooted in God. Those in favor of the latter won the day, arguing that the archipelago’s ethnic and religious diversity demanded an open paradigm that defined the state as broadly as possible.

There is some overlap between the two coalitions, with the secular-nationalist Golkar party backing Prabowo, and the Islam-based National Awakening Party (PKB) backing the Jakarta governor, for example. But the relatively defined character of each coalition has given Indonesian voters a clearer choice than in past elections and should be healthy for the consolidation of the country’s democracy.

The personalities of the two candidates could not be further apart. Jokowi is a largely untested, understated, and untainted “man of the people,” beloved for his integrity and inclusiveness by Indonesia’s poor and lower middle class. Prabowo is a self-styled strongman with compelling oratory skills and a record of military experience that appeals to the upper-middle and upper classes, which yearn for strong leadership after a decade under Yudhoyono. Prabowo has been dogged by allegations of human rights abuses during his military career, including the torture and disappearance of protesters during the turmoil that brought down his father-in-law and violent suppression of dissent in hot spots like West Papua and East Timor, a former province that is now an independent state. Indonesians, however, have famously short memories, and with more than half the country under the age of thirty, few voters either know or care much about Prabowo’s dark past.

In recent months, Prabowo has closed the gap with the Jakarta governor, who was leading by as many as 30 percentage points. While this heated competition is in many ways a good thing for Indonesian democracy, it has also unleashed a dark side of Indonesian politics, with a raft of smear campaigns, largely against Jokowi, flooding social media—Indonesia has the second-largest Facebook community in the world, after the United States—and tabloids. They have accused Jokowi of being everything from Chinese and non-Muslim to a communist. While none are true, the ferocity and relentlessness with which these charges have circulated have hurt the governor in a country that is still overwhelmingly Muslim and anticommunist.

More importantly, these campaigns have brought race and religion to the fore in an ugly and highly divisive manner, a real concern for a country of such diversity and one that has a history of ethnic and religious violence. Indeed, the role of media in this campaign has been more controversial than at any time in the past, with outlets owned by businessmen aligned with one ticket or the other providing highly partisan coverage and undermining Indonesia’s reputation for a free, independent, and neutral press.

This race is not only the tightest in Indonesia’s democratic history; it’s also widely seen as the dirtiest, raising fears of a close outcome—perhaps with a margin of less than 2 percent—that could get bogged down in court challenges and even give way to violence. Passions are running high across the country. Some reports suggest that minorities are afraid to vote and that a climate of intimidation exists in some of the most contested areas.

Indonesia has achieved great things over the course of its fifteen-year experiment with democracy, but the ugliness of this race reminds us that such progress cannot be taken for granted. At a time when political restructuring in the Middle East continues to challenge the notion that Islam and democracy can coexist, and when pluralism and tolerance are under attack around the world, Indonesians hope to rise above these provocations and cement the country’s place as a vibrant Muslim-majority democracy.

12 July 2014

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Further to our earlier denunciations of the atrocities; we reiterate our condemnation of the latest massacre of more than 100 Palestinians including women and children in the Gaza by the Israeli regime of Netanyahu and call on the international community to collectively put pressure to stop the atrocities.

It is clear that the Israeli regime is exploiting the killing of the three Israeli youths as a pretext to attack Gaza and start a chain of violence and bloodshed so as to destabilize the unity government between Hamas and Fatah.

In his desperate attempts at destroying the prospect of a united Palestinian state in the near future, Netanyahu is prepared to drag the Israeli people to the brink of outright war.

No doubt, he is committing these acts of violence with impunity, emboldened by the fact that neither the United States nor the European Union will condemn these crimes, let alone intervene to stop them.

In this regard, the Western powers have once again displayed hypocrisy in their muted response to the atrocities. This is a disgraceful abdication of moral responsibility and exposes their double standards to the cause of democracy, freedom and justice.

Even more tragic is the fact that Muslim countries, except possibly Turkey and Iran, appear to be powerless in the face of these unmitigated acts of violence and cruelty while so-called jihadists are keener on killing fellow Muslims and proclaiming a caliphate than helping their downtrodden Palestinian kin.

Meanwhile, the Western media continue to report the latest rounds of violence in its usual skewered manner by its constant reference to Hamas firing of missiles into Israel so as to justify Israel’s utterly disproportionate retaliation.

The media and Western leaders continue to downplay if not entirely ignore the fundamental issue of the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and Israel’s blatant disregard of UN Resolution 242 in their barefaced drive for territorial aggrandisement.

Indeed, the current round of murdering and wounding of hundreds of innocent Palestinians is but yet another episode of the continuing saga of brutality, ruthlessness, inhumanity, and injustice committed against them by the Israelis.

Anwar Ibrahim
Member of Parliament,
Parliamentary Opposition Leader
Malaysia

12 July 2014

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MSN.Com

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal against his second sodomy conviction and jail sentence should not be rushed through again, his lawyer N. Surendran said today after the Federal Court registrar fixed August 8 for case management.

The PKR vice-president said after walking out from the Federal Court registrar’s chambers, where the court fixed Aug 8 for the case management of Anwar’s appeal and also the prosecution’s cross appeal to enhance his five-year jail sentence.

According to another of Anwar’s lawyers, Ramkarpal Singh, the registrar also set the same date for the case management on Anwar’s application to disqualify Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who was appointed ad hoc deputy public prosecutor to lead Putrajaya’s case to overturn the sodomy acquittal.

On March 7, the Court of Appeal overturned Anwar’s acquittal in 2012 for sodomy and sentenced him to five years’ jail.

Ramkarpal filed an appeal against the conviction on March 10. Anwar is free pending appeal.

Anwar had also made three applications to disqualify Shafee, with the third one pending at the Federal Court.

Surendran told reporters that the indication was that the court wanted to fix the hearing dates by September.

“There should not be any unusual rush to hear the appeal like what happened at the Court of Appeal the last time.

“Dates are fixed when the documentation is done and subject to the availability of the counsel involved,” he said.

According to Surendran, lead defence counsel Sulaiman Abdullah was not well and as such his progress needed to be taken into account before hearing dates could be fixed.

He also called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to drop the charge against Anwar immediately, saying that the attempt to send the country’s Opposition leader to jail was an embarrassment.

“He should withdraw this trumped up and fabricated charge immediately,” Surendran said.

The court has served the full appeals record to Anwar, an indication that are plans to rush through the appeal, Surendran said.

Anwar, who is the Permatang Pauh MP, risks losing his parliamentary seat and could see his political career coming to a premature end should the apex court uphold the Court of Appeal ruling.

Under the Federal Constitution, an elected representative is disqualified from office if fined more than RM2,000 or jailed for a term exceeding one year.

The sodomy punishment under Section 377B of the Penal Code carries a jail term of up to 20 years and the offender shall also liable to whipping.

Anwar was found guilty of sodomising his aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, at an upscale condominium in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.

Trial judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah ruled on January 9, 2012, that he doubted the integrity of samples taken for DNA testing from Saiful as the samples could have been compromised before they reached the chemistry department for analysis.

However, the three-man Court of Appeal bench, led by justice Balia Yusof Wahi, in their oral decision said Zabidin had erred in his findings as the samples were not compromised.

The appellate court ruling, four days before the nomination day for the Kajang by-election, scuttled Anwar’s hopes of becoming the Selangor menteri besar as he was PKR’s candidate for the by-election.

10 July 2014

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Keynote address by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysian Opposition Leader and Selangor State Economic Advisor at the Royal Selangor Club, Kuala Lumpur on July 9th 2014

English Version

Versi Bahasa Malaysia

 

 

4 July 2014

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Malaysian Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has denied accusations by the Malaysian Government that he’s trying to smear the country’s reputation overseas, by calling on foreign governments to speak out against human rights abuses in his country.

Click here to watch the full interview on ABC Australia.

30 June 2014

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KENYATAAN MEDIA
UNTUK EDARAN SEGERA
30 JUN 2014

Berita pemecatan serta merta Profesor Datuk Dr Mohamad Redzuan sebagai Pengarah Pusat Kajian Demokrasi dan Pilihan Raya (UMcedel) tidak mengejutkan tetapi tetap mengecewakan dan tidak wajar.

Penyingkiran secara melulu bertujuan memberi amaran kepada semua ahli akademik bahawa kebebasan mereka akan berakhir semata untuk mempertahankan kepentingan UMNO. Dalam pentadbiran yang rakus ini, kebebasan mengkritik adalah hak mutlak kepada mereka sasarannya adalah pemimpin-pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat atau mereka yang kritikal terhadap UMNO-BN. Penghukuman yang cukup pantas ini akan menimpa mereka yang menyokong apa-apa pandangan atau pendapat yang kelihatan kritikal terhadap UMNO apatah lagi yang memihak kepada pembangkang.

Nasib yang sama juga telah menimpa pakar ekonomi terkenal Prof Jomo KS, profesor sains politik Prof Dr P. Ramasamy dan pakar perlembagaan dan undang-undang Dr Aziz Bari tidak lama dahulu. Dan hari ini kita lihat ia menimpa Prof Redzuan yang telah terbukti menunjukkan prestasi akademik dengan profesional dalam bidang penyelidikan yang menuntut objektiviti lengkap dan kebebasan.

Amat jelas bahawa keputusan untuk tidak menyambung tempoh Profesor Redzuan sebagai Pengarah UMCedel amat tidak wajar. Beliau sekali lagi menjadi mangsa penguasa angkuh yang enggan melihat sarjana bersikap bebas dan berani.

Saya ingin mengingatkan Menteri Pendidikan, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin dan Dato Seri Idris Jusoh bahawa kuasa pelantikan dan pemecatan bukannya mutlak dan tindakan terbaru ini bukan sahaja melanggar kebebasan akademik malah pengkhianatan terhadap harapan rakyat terhadap peningkatan mutu dan kedudukan institusi pengajian tinggi.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

30 June 2014

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PRESS RELEASE
30 JUNE 2014

Today’s news report that Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Redzuan has been effectively fired as the Director for the Universiti Malaya’s Center for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) comes as no surprise, disappointing and unwarranted as it is.

This totally uncalled for dismissal is intended once again to send that chilling message to all academicians that their freedom ends when UMNO’s popularity begins. In this terror reign, freedom to criticize is absolute as long as the target are leaders of the Pakatan or those groups critical of UMNO-BN. Swift reckoning will be brought to bear to those who espouse any views or opinions that appear to be critical of UMNO let alone in favour of the opposition.

This was the fate that befell a reknown economist Prof Jomo KS, political scientist Prof Dr. P. Ramasamy and constitutional law expert Dr Aziz Bari not too long ago and today we see it happening to Professor Redzuan who has proven to have performed his academic tasks in a most professional manner in a research area that demands complete objectivity and independence.

It is obvious that this decision not to renew Professor Redzuan’s tenure as the Director of UMCedel is just a backhanded way of sacking him for his courageous stand in carrying out his work without fear or favour.

I would like remind the Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Dato Seri Idris Jusoh that their powers of appointment and dismissal are not absolute and this latest action is not just a violation of academic freedom but a betrayal of the people’s expectations for the enhancement of standards and rankings of our institutions of higher learning.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

26 June 2014

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Malaysiakini

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the lack of leadership from the prime minister and the courts has allowed “irresponsible elements” to hijack the discourse on the ‘Allah’ issue.

Anwar was lamenting the missed opportunity at a reasoned debate over theHerald’s ban on using the word ‘Allah’ arising from the Federal Court’s decision on Monday.

“It is unfortunate that a great opportunity has been lost for reasoned and enlightened thinking to prevail over rabble-rousing and extremist sentiments.

“The Federal Court’s non-decision and Prime Minister Najib Razak’s complete lack of leadership only place this country in further anxiety and uncertainty,” said Anwar in a statement today.

The PKR de facto leader said the Herald’s appeal was an “important legal and constitutional issue with major implications for Malaysians” and the Federal Court had the duty to offer its guidance.

He pointed to Perkasa’s controversial remark this week on thechopping of heads of those who ridicule Islam and the sultan as the result of the highest court’s failure to hear the case.

“Disturbingly, Perkasa has even suggested decapitation of those who disagree with it.

“The judiciary must not abdicate its duty. By not deciding, it allows irresponsible elements such as Perkasa, Isma and Umno to hijack the national discourse with divisive, confrontational and wrong-headed views,” Anwar said.

On Monday, four judges of a seven-memberFederal Court benchruled against granting leave to hear the appeal by the archbishop of the Catholic Church over the ban on its weekly publication from using the wor ‘Allah’.

26 June 2014

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The New York Times

The past month has presented the world with what the Israeli analyst Orit Perlov describes as the two dominant Arab governing models: ISIS and SISI.

ISIS, of course, is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the bloodthirsty Sunni militia that has gouged out a new state from Sunni areas in Syria and Iraq. SISI, of course, is Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the new strongman/president of Egypt, whose regime debuted this week by shamefully sentencing three Al Jazeera journalists to prison terms on patently trumped-up charges — a great nation acting so small.

ISIS and Sisi, argues Perlov, a researcher on Middle East social networks at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, are just flip sides of the same coin: one elevates “god” as the arbiter of all political life and the other “the national state.”

Both have failed and will continue to fail — and require coercion to stay in power — because they cannot deliver for young Arabs and Muslims what they need most: the education, freedom and jobs to realize their full potential and the ability to participate as equal citizens in their political life.

We are going to have to wait for a new generation that “puts society in the center,” argues Perlov, a new Arab/Muslim generation that asks not “how can we serve god or how can we serve the state but how can they serve us.”

Perlov argues that these governing models — hyper-Islamism (ISIS) driven by a war against “takfiris,” or apostates, which is how Sunni Muslim extremists refer to Shiite Muslims; and hyper-nationalism (SISI) driven by a war against Islamist “terrorists,” which is what the Egyptian state calls the Muslim Brotherhood — need to be exhausted to make room for a third option built on pluralism in society, religion and thought.

The Arab world needs to finally puncture the twin myths of the military state (SISI) or the Islamic state (ISIS) that will bring prosperity, stability and dignity. Only when the general populations “finally admit that they are both failed and unworkable models,” argues Perlov, might there be “a chance to see this region move to the 21st century.”

The situation is not totally bleak. You have two emergent models, both frail and neither perfect, where Muslim Middle East nations have built decent, democratizing governance, based on society and with some political, cultural and religious pluralism: Tunisia and Kurdistan. Again both are works in progress, but what is important is that they did emerge from the societies themselves. You also have the relatively soft monarchies — like Jordan and Morocco — that are at least experimenting at the margins with more participatory governance, allow for some opposition and do not rule with the brutality of the secular autocrats.

“Both the secular authoritarian model — most recently represented by Sisi — and the radical religious model — represented now by ISIS — have failed,” adds Marwan Muasher, the former foreign minister of Jordan and author of “The Second Arab Awakening and the Battle for Pluralism.” “They did because they have not addressed peoples’ real needs: improving the quality of their life, both in economic and development terms, and also in feeling they are part of the decision-making process.  Both models have been exclusionist, presenting themselves as the holders of absolute truth and of the solution to all society’s problems.”

But the Arab public “is not stupid,” Muasher added. “While we will continue to see exclusionist discourses in much of the Arab world for the foreseeable future, results will end up trumping ideology. And results can only come from policies of inclusion, that would give all forces a stake in the system, thereby producing stability, checks and balances, and ultimately prosperity. ISIS and Sisi cannot win. Unfortunately, it might take exhausting all other options before a critical mass is developed that internalizes this basic fact. That is the challenge of the new generation in the Arab world, where 70 percent of the population is under 30 years of age. The old generation, secular or religious, seems to have learned nothing from the failure of the postindependence era to achieve sustainable development, and the danger of exclusionist policies.”

Indeed, the Iraq founded in 1921 is gone with the wind. The new Egypt imagined in Tahrir Square is stillborn. Too many leaders and followers in both societies seem intent on giving their failed ideas of the past another spin around the block before, hopefully, they opt for the only idea that works: pluralism in politics, education and religion. This could take a while, or not. I don’t know.

We tend to make every story about us. But this is not all about us. To be sure, we’ve done plenty of ignorant things in Iraq and Egypt. But we also helped open their doors to a different future, which their leaders have slammed shut for now. Going forward, where we see people truly committed to pluralism, we should help support them. And where we see islands of decency threatened, we should help protect them. But this is primarily about them, about their need to learn to live together without an iron fist from the top, and it will happen only when and if they want it to happen.

26 June 2014

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London Evening Standard

Londoner Hugh Dunleavy has spent the past 107 days working tirelessly to find flight MH370. Here the Malaysia Airlines boss tells Lucy Tobin what really happened during the night that sparked a thousand theories

It was four in the morning and Hugh Dunleavy was heading to Kuala Lumpur airport to fly to a conference in Borneo when his phone flashed with an emergency text. Malaysia Airlines’ commercial boss never made it to that conference. Instead he spent the next 72 hours working non-stop to find out why flight MH370 had gone missing and trying to explain his lack of an answer to hundreds of distraught relatives in a grief limbo.

The now-infamous flight lost contact with air traffic control at 1.34am on March 8, an hour after take-off. But in this, his first major interview since MH370 disappeared, Dunleavy reports it was three hours later by the time air traffic controllers — having tried and failed to get a response from the plane and from radar controllers in Vietnam, Hong Kong and China — sent that emergency text.

Dunleavy is one of London’s brightest expats: he grew up in Ealing, took a PhD in physics at Sheffield University then started his career working in a role “I can’t talk about” for the Ministry of Defence. He was the first to arrive at the airline’s emergency control room that morning; then he became Malaysia Airlines’ public face as the tragedy unfolded.

“My first thought was that the pilot had fallen asleep, or something had gone wrong with the communication system,” he says. “We had five other aircraft in the sky nearby, so our senior pilots started contacting them, asking if they’d seen MH370, getting them to ping it. But we got no response.”

Three months since that plane and its 239 passengers and crew went missing, there’s still no trace. “Something untoward happened to that plane. I think it made a turn to come back, then a sequence of events overtook it, and it was unable to return to base. I believe it’s somewhere in the south Indian Ocean. But when [a plane] hits the ocean it’s like hitting concrete. The wreckage could be spread over a big area. And there are mountains and canyons in that ocean. I think it could take a really long time to find. We’re talking decades.”

Dunleavy replays the early hours of response, wondering what could have been different. “People say, ‘Why didn’t you work quicker?’ But you’re calling pilots, explaining the situation, waiting for them to send out pings, doing the same to the next plane, then the next, and it’s four in the morning, you don’t have 50 people in the office, only a couple. An hour goes by frighteningly quickly — you realise that the missing plane is now another 600 miles somewhere else.”

A vigil for the missing flightThen there was the “frightening speed at which false information was coming in — after only an hour in the control room, rumours were coming in on social media. ‘Your plane has landed in Nanning, China’. ‘It’s in the airport of an island near Borneo’. You’ve got to follow up, calling your local people, getting them out of bed to find up someone who worked at the airports — mostly remote places, not 24-hour operations — to check if the plane was there. We lost an hour just on that Nanning rumour.”

Finding an AWOL plane wasn’t a priority for international air traffic controllers. “We were calling, but they’ve got other planes in the air; they’re saying, ‘Your plane never entered my air space, so technically I don’t have to worry about it at the moment’. They’re not dropping everything to answer us.”

In those first hours, Malaysia Airlines’ executives all thought the plane had diverted — not crashed. “But by 06.30, the plane was supposed to be landing at Beijing. People were waiting for it; we had to do a press release,” says Dunleavy. The media swarmed in Beijing, and 130 Malaysia Airlines executives needed to get there — but none had Chinese visas. “No one wants to talk about that side of things but it took hours, not minutes, to sort it all out — there were negotiations. Eventually we got to Beijing at 10.30pm. Then officials came to our plane to issue visas, which took another two hours.”

By midnight, when Dunleavy approached the Beijing hotel ballroom that hosted sobbing, frustrated relatives, he and his colleagues needed Chinese police protection to take them through the bowels of the hotel to avoid being besieged.

“As far as the families were concerned, the plane had been hijacked by terrorists, the Malaysian government was negotiating with them, and we weren’t telling them. I knew that wasn’t happening — there had been zero communications from MH370.”

For the first 48 hours, Dunleavy and the airline’s team of “care-givers” didn’t sleep, dashing between the hotel’s ballroom and chaotic press conferences. “No one went to bed. But we had no news. Conspiracy theories were coming out — blaming Chinese scientists on board, the mangosteen [4.6 tons of the exotic fruit were on board], all this rubbish. Every news channel had some ‘expert’ — who’d never been to Malaysia, and had no idea about our planes — coming up with stories about what may have happened. Then a family member would latch on to one of those ideas that appealed to them. There would be 50 different people all arguing about 50 different scenarios, and I’m saying — through a translator — ‘I can’t tell you what happened until we find the plane’, over and over.”

About 32 hours after MH370 went missing, Dunleavy entered the ballroom, got everyone’s attention, and said: “I think you all need to be prepared for the worst.”

The 61-year-old describes the scene to me as we sit in the relaxed backdrop of the Langham in the West End, but he still pales as he remembers: “That’s when the screaming started. One person had a heart attack. Others fainted. People started throwing things at me, mostly water bottles. The police were standing there, but they said ‘this is part of our culture, it’s normal’ and that they wouldn’t interfere unless they started throwing chairs and tables.”

At its peak, the ballroom hosted 1,500 people. Dunleavy says much of the relatives’ anger was directed at the Malaysian government. “They blamed them for not tracking the aircraft more solidly.” The first week was spent searching in the south Indian Ocean — before an official source revealed the plane had been spotted on military radar making a U-turn and heading towards an island in the Malacca Strait.

“I only heard about this through the news,” Dunleavy says, for the first time letting anger inflect his voice — a hybrid English-German-Canadian accent thanks to a string of airline career moves. “I’m thinking, really? You couldn’t have told us that directly? Malaysia’s air traffic control and military radar are in the same freakin’ building. The military saw an aircraft turn and did nothing.

“They didn’t know it was MH370, their radar just identifies flying objects, yet a plane had gone down and the information about something in the sky turning around didn’t get released by the authorities until after a week. Why? I don’t know. I really wish I did.

“It made people look incompetent, but the truth is, it’s early in the morning, you’re not at war with anyone, why would you jump to the conclusion that something really bad is now transpiring?”

Dunleavy is adamant Malaysia Airlines did the best it could for the Chinese relatives on board MH370, paying for hotel rooms, food bills, distributing $5,000 to families and organising 520 passports and Malaysian visas plus a plane for the Chinese to fly to Kuala Lumpur, only for the vast majority to decide to stay in Beijing. But the carrier faced global criticism for texting relatives that it was “beyond doubt” their loved ones were killed.

“That wasn’t done in a callous way,” Dunleavy says, “we only got 15 minutes’ notice that the government was going to make that announcement, there were six hundred people in six different hotels, and they had suggested text messages to us at the start. We thought, ‘isn’t it better they get the message before the media relays it?’”

The airline expects the tragedy to cost up to $500?million. Three months on, Malaysia Airlines is getting back to business. It’s Dunleavy’s job to make passengers want to fly on the carrier again — demand slumped after MH370, and bookings from China fell 65 per cent. The airline will this year install pioneering technology (from Inmarsat, the Old Street firm which gained global fame for its satellites’ role in the search for MH370) that means if a plane ever deviates from its flight path, it will send out a signal.

“We will always remember MH370. We will take care of the people and we’re working on what sort of a memorial we will have. But we are a business. We have to keep flying, we have 20,000 staff, shareholders, and 50,000 passengers each day. We owe it to them to get the airline back and move beyond MH370.”

24 June 2014

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TMI

Timbalan Menteri Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani Datuk Tajuddin Rahman (gambar) merupakan pemegang saham minoriti dalam konsesi penswastaan Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Tapah, kata PKR.

“Hari ini saya boleh mengesahkan ahli Parlimen Pasir Salak adalah pemimpin Umno yang mempunyai pegangan minoriti dalam konsesi penswastaan UiTM kampus cawangan Tapah,” kata Pengarah Strategi PKR, Rafizi Ramli.

Rafizi berkata, konsesi penswastaan UiTM cawangan Tapah dianugerahkan kepada UniTapah Sdn Bhd dengan konsesi selama 23 tahun untuk membina dan menyewakan kembali kampus itu kepada UiTM.

Beliau mendakwa, salah seorang pengarah UniTapah Sdn Bhd ialah Sri Rahayu Tajuddin, iaitu anak kepada Tajuddin.

“Sri Rahayu juga pernah menjadi setiausaha Umno Bahagian Pasir Salak yang diketuai oleh Tajuddin.

“Ini mengulangi perkara yang sama dalam konsesi penswastaan kampus cawangan UiTM lain apabila setiap syarikat konsesi turut mempunyai kaitan dengan pemimpin Umno atau ahli perniagaan yang rapat dengan Umno,” katanya.

Rafizi berkata, seorang lagi pengarah dalam UniTapah Sdn Bhd yang mempunyai hubungan dengan Tajuddin adalah Vignesh Naidu Kuppusamy Naidu melalui usahasama perniagaan bersama di antara mereka.

“Selain UniTapah Sdn Bhd, Tajuddin dan Vignesh Naidu mempunyai hubungan melalui sebuah syarikat pembinaan iaitu Everfine Resources Sdn Bhd yang mana Tajuddin adalah pengerusinya dan Vignesh Naidu pengarah syarikat itu.

“Kepentingan beliau dalam syarikat konsesi ini dipegang melalui sebuah syarikat iaitu Detik Utuh Sdn Bhd.

“Syarikat itu mempunyai kepentingan sebanyak 9.8% dalam UniTapah Sdn Bhd manakala saham selebihnya dipegang oleh sebuah syarikat pembinaan yang disenaraikan di Bursa Kuala Lumpur iaitu Crest Builder Holdings Berhad (melalui Crest Builder International Sdn Bhd),” katanya.

Ahli Parlimen Pandan itu berkata, Tajuddin memiliki 450,000 saham di dalam Detik Utuh Sdn Bhd, menjadikan beliau pemegang saham terbesar.

Rafizi berkata, saham selebihnya dimiliki oleh Vignesh Naidu (150,000 saham) dan Obata-Ambak Holdings Sdn Bhd (400,000 saham).

Obata-Ambak Sdn Bhd adalah sebuah syarikat yang dikawal oleh keluarga isteri Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“Pengarah di dalam Detik Utuh Sdn Bhd adalah individu yang rapat dengan Tajuddin iaitu anaknya sendiri, Sri Rahayu dan kenalan perniagaan beliau iaitu Vignesh Naidu dan Haniff Mahmood.

“Walaupun pegangan Tajuddin tidak sebesar pegangan ahli politik Umno lain dalam konsesi yang saya dedahkan sebelum ini, ia mengesahkan setiap konsesi penswastaan kampus cawangan UiTM menguntungkan sekurang-kurangnya ahli politik Umno dengan bayaran sewa yang cukup membebankan rakyat,” katanya.

Rafizi sejak minggu lalu melakukan pendedahan beberapa individu yang mempunyai kaitan dengan Umno memiliki konsesi penswastaan UiTM di seluruh negara.

24 June 2014

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TMI

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 did not climb to 13,700m then dive below 7,000m before it vanished, international investigators said, contradicting earlier reports based on Malaysia’s military radar data.

The New York Times reported today investigators discovered the jet had not soared and swooped as they believed earlier, but remained in controlled flight for hours after contact was lost, until it ran out of fuel over the southern Indian Ocean.

It said they concluded this after a re-examination of the military radar data and the pings the aircraft exchanged with an Inmarsat satellite over the Equator showed that the radar’s altitude readings? appeared to be incorrect.

An international review found Malaysia’s radar equipment had not been calibrated with enough precision for the readings to be accurate, the NYT said.

While many military radar can detect altitude and give accurate readings of an aircraft’s location, speed and direction, the equipment must be recalibrated regularly and carefully according to local atmospheric conditions, it said.

“The primary radar data pertaining to altitude is regarded as unreliable,” Angus Houston, the head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre, was quoted as saying.

The radar tracked MH370 as it veered off its scheduled flight path over the Gulf of Thailand and flew west across the peninsula and Strait of Malacca.

The ?plane then passed beyond the radar’s range near the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The radar readings suggested the plane soared above its certified maximum altitude of 13,700m, then dipped low over the ranges of Malaysia, before climbing back to 7,000m or higher over the Strait of Malacca.

But Houston told the NYT that he doubted whether anyone could prove the plane had soared and swooped the way initial reports suggested.

“There’s nothing reliable about height,” Martin Dolan, the chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, was quoted as saying in the report.

The report said dismissal of the radar altitude data prompted a change in the focus of the search, as the plane’s fuel would have lasted longer if it maintained a steadier altitude.

Data from the pings, or the electronic handshakes, led investigators to conclude that the aircraft came down in the ocean west of Australia along what is called the seventh arc, the area of the final handshake with the plane.

“Everyone agrees that is where the aircraft ran out of fuel,” said Dolan in the report.

Officials said the search would now move hundreds of kilometres southwest across the arc, after the Australian government had scoured the northeast end based on the conclusion that the jet had burned a great deal of fuel.

The New York Times said the specifics were still being finalised, but the new search zone was likely to be an area about 640km long and some 97km wide.

This was based on the assumption that the plane was being flown by its? autopilot, which was unable to control the plane when the engine stopped and would have caused the plane to stall and fall into the ocean.

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