29 April 2014

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KENYATAAN MEDIA
UNTUK EDARAN SEGERA
29 April 2014

PEMBERHENTIAN CATUAN AIR

Dalam tempoh seminggu dari 23 April 2014 hingga hari ini 29 April 2014, jumlah takungan air di Empangan Sungai Selangor telah meningkat dari 38.97% (89.63 juta meter padu air) kepada 40.23% (92.53 juta meter padu air).

Walaupun jumlah ini belum mencecah paras 42% takungan seperti yang diumumkan sebelum ini, saya menyarankan Kerajaan Selangor menghentikan dahulu catuan air yang sedang dilaksanakan mengambil kira paras takungan di empangan-empangan lain yang tinggi.

Pada masa yang sama, saya menyeru penduduk di Lembah Klang supaya menggunakan air secara berhemah dan mengurangkan penggunaan seperti membasuh kereta yang terlalu kerap, melaporkan paip pecah secepat mungkin dan lain-lain agar penggunaan air dapat dikawal.

Ini memberi ruang kepada Kerajaan Selangor dan pihak yang bertanggungjawab membuat unjuran semula menggunakan kadar penggunaan air yang lebih rendah bagi mengelakkan catuan yang berpanjangan di masa hadapan.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

29 April 2014

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Anwar: Mengapa dana RM18 bilion 1MDB di Pulau Cayman?

Pakatan Rakyat masih perlu masa bincang usul hudud

Anwar: Najib umpama maharaja, tapi dakwa tiada kuasa

29 April 2014

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Majlis Bacaan Yasin dan Solat Hajat di Kediaman Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim

Tarikh: Khamis, 1 Mei 2014

Masa: 7:00 mlm – 9:30 mlm

Tempat: (Kediaman Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim) No.11, Jalan 3/61, Bukit Segambut Dalam, Kuala Lumpur

 

PEJABAT DATO’ SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM

29 April 2014

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Nation Multimedia

Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim spoke to the Nation’s Group Editor-in-Chief Thepchai Yong in Kuala Lumpur last week prior to the visit of US President Barack Obama. He expressed his disappointment that Obama didn’t see him, criticised the Najib government for what he sees as a cover-up in its handling of missing flight MH370, compared the ongoing political situation in Thailand and Malaysia, and urged a more “aggressive” approach by the Malaysian government in helping Thailand seek a peaceful solution to the southern insurgency. Here are excerpts of the interview:

Anwar Ibrahim speaks to  Thepchai Yong during their interview.

THEPCHAI: ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED THAT US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IS NOT SEEING YOU DURING HIS VISIT TO KUALA LUMPUR?

ANWAR: Our request is that the US stays consistent and coherent. The US ambassador has explained that the [Obama's Asian visit] doesn’t include meeting opposition leaders. I can’t complain because the US has consistently been in support of the democratic process, rule of law, and has taken up my case. In that sense, I appreciate it. But I find it difficult to accept that the Malaysian government can use the trade agreement [TPP] and business to pressure the president of the United States. That doesn’t go well for those fighting for freedom and reform.

SO YOU BELIEVE THE NAJIB GOVERNMENT WAS BEHIND THE DECISION OF THE US PRESIDENT NOT TO SEE YOU?

Yes, because their position has been clear. When I had programmes to see the president of Indonesia, Prime Minister Abhisit in Bangkok, or the visiting prime minister of Turkey, there were always problems and pressure. When they wanted to see me they were all stopped through diplomatic channels.

WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO SAY TO PRESIDENT OBAMA IF YOU SEE HIM?

Be consistent with the American foreign policy in supporting reform agenda, transparent governments, democratic reforms. They have sent battalion after battalion of troops to Afghanistan and Iraq and also drones in the war on terrorism, and here they can’t be muted when the UMNO regime is using the court to deny my basic rights and those [rights] of other political leaders.

IT HAS BEEN TWO MONTHS SINCE THE DIS-APPEARANCE OF MH370 AND THERE ARE NO |INDICATIONS THAT THE PLANE WILL BE |LOCATED ANY TIME SOON. YOU HAVE SPOKEN OUT STRONGLY ON WHAT YOU SEE AS THE INEFFICIENCY AND INCOMPETENCE OF THE NAJIB GOVERNMENT. AND YOU HAVE ACCUSED THE GOVERNMENT OF A COVER-UP. WHAT IS YOUR THEORY ON THIS?

It’s a tragedy, not only for the crew members, the passengers and their families, but it also opens up some of the major flaws in our opaque system of governance. No transparency and accountability. It’s very difficult to understand what happened when there was a huge cover-up. I know the government is angry when I say that but I know about the radar which was procured when I was minister of finance. The Marconi system is a very sophisticated system comparable to the Thai radar system. And up to today, the government has not even released the cargo manifest of the flight except to say it was four tonnes of mangosteens . The Thais and Malaysians laugh about it because we know this is not the mangosteen season and you cannot get four tonnes off-season easily. The passenger list and the cargo manifest are there on all flights. Why are we hiding them? And there was also Interpol’s report of stolen passports and we overlook(ed) that.

SO YOU ARE SAYING THAT THERE ARE THINGS THAT THE GOVERNMENT KNOWS BUT IS NOT TELLING THE PUBLIC?

Sure. The radar issue is known to the government. The cargo manifest is also known to the government. These have happened in the past. We had a case some years back in which two jet engines went missing and no one was accountable. There was also the murder of a Mongolian model [which was linked to an aide of Prime Minister Najib] and there was no record when she came in, when she left. This tradition of an opaque |system of cover-up has happened many times in the past. But it was not of |interest to the international community until MH370.

WITH THE SOPHISTICATED RADAR SYSTEM YOU DON’T THINK THE PLANE COULD JUST DISAPPEAR INTO NOWHERE?

It was not possible. It is a very sophisticated radar at Gong Kedah [the air force facility in northern Malaysia]. It can read from the border of Thailand to central Malaya, South China Sea and Indian Ocean. If the objects were just kites I would understand. But if they are huge planes, even small planes like Cessna, flying low or high they can be easily detected. The Marconi replaced the old radar system which also could read but this one is much better. The air force staff might be asleep but … the beeps would be so loud that they must have been alerted and there would [be the] recording of the radar. The plane crossed five provinces, Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perak, Penang our heartland. We have major security problems if the government says it cannot detect.

DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN THEORY AS TO WHAT HAPPENED?

It’s concealing and cover-up.

FOR A PERIOD THE INCIDENT APPEARED TO BE POLITICISED WHEN THE FACT THAT THE FLIGHT CAPTAIN ZAHARIE AHMAD SHAH, WHO WAS A CARD-CARRYING MEMBER OF YOUR PARTY AND A DISTANT RELATIVE OF YOURS, WAS HIGHLIGHTED. 

Seven hours after the decision of the court of appeals to convict me, Zaharie took off with the flight. I do not deny he is a card-carrying and active member of the party. He was known to have expressed his views against frauds in the elections and corruption in this country and supporting reforms. He supports democratic transition, free elections, which means he is against any form of extremist, fanatical or terrorist activities. They tried [to politicise the incident] for a few days but when the international media went after them to see how absurd, insane [it was ] of them to cast a suspicion like that they all backed off, saying they were not linking it to any political activities and Anwar was exploiting it. All UMNO blogs and Malaysian media made reference that Zaharie was a fanatical supporter of Anwar.

WHY DO FOREIGN MEDIA COME TO YOU, THE OPPOSITION LEADER, INSTEAD OF GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES TO GET INFORMATION AND COMMENTS ON THE MH370 INCIDENT?

They came to me because the government was trying to link Zaharie to me. But more important it was because there was a lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the government. The prime minister came for a press conference and refused to take questions. This is because they are familiar only with the UMNO-controlled and government-controlled compliant media which would not ask questions. But in this case, they had to face international media, not only The Nation, but CNN, BBC, Chinese and Indian media. They knew there were questions they could not answer. So because of the failure of Prime Minister Najib and the government’s flip-flopping they came to me. And fortunately, I happen to know about the radar. I know the system. I know the place. And I don’t deny that I know Zaharie, who is related to my daughter-in-law. But only because they are my relatives they cannot all be hijackers.

BUT CAN THE GOVERNMENT ALSO ACCUSE YOU OF TRYING TO POLITICISE THE INCIDENT?

They did because they thought I was getting the media attention. But I didn’t say anything beyond the facts. There are questions about the radar, the cargo manifest, the passports and the flip-flop answers. Nothing beyond that. The government has to address these questions but until today there are no answers to the questions of the radar, the cargo manifest and the passports. When they government is asked about the cargo, the answer is mangosteens. That’s why people resort to asking opposition leaders and asked me how I would handle the situation. My answer was that in one second I would decide to be transparent and tell them our problems and our weaknesses and what we would do. They twisted it and quoted me as saying that in one second I would solve all the problem.

THE MH370 INCIDENT HAS PUT MALAYSIA UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT THE WAY IT HAS NEVER SEEN BEFORE. BUT THERE ARE SUGGESTIONS THAT SUCH GLOBAL SCRUTINY MIGHT FORCE THE GOVERNMENT TO HAVE A SECOND THOUGHT ABOUT THROWING YOU BACK INTO JAIL. DO YOU SEE THAT POSSIBILITY?

I would be happy if that is a case. But we are not dealing with a democratic regime that is sensitive to the sentiments of the public and international community. We are dealing with a corrupt and opaque authoritarian regime that knows only brute force and power. They feel that if I am the threat, they will deal with the threat. The international media now are monitoring what is happening in Malaysia. So I think it would be immensely helpful because now people are looking at the court proceedings. I recently had lunch with the EU ambassadors and I had no need to brief them because they all followed the case [Anwar's trial] quite well, not from our media, of course, but from court proceedings. That is very much welcome because it creates awareness and it helps us.

WOULD YOU SAY THAT THE MAJORITY OF MALAYSIANS ARE NOT GETTING THE INFORMATION THEY WANT ABOUT MH370 FROM THE LOCAL MEDIA?

You are right. The local media always report information given them by the government. The UNMO says this is the best way we can handle the situation and we are being praised all over the world. But according to the latest survey, 54 per cent of Malaysian say their handling of MH370 crisis was very poor. They blame the government for that.

SO WHAT YOU SAY TO INTERNATIONAL MEDIA DOES NOT GET REPORTED BY THE LOCAL MEDIA?

Never. Even during the election. My role as the opposition leader was completely erased and I didn’t even have one minute of airtime on our national television.

SINCE PRIME MINISTER NAJIB CAME TO POWER, MALAYSIA HAS SLIDED DOWN THE MEDIA FREEDOM INDEX. ACCORDING TO THE LATEST INDEX COMPILED BY INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ORGANISATION REPORTERS WITHOUT FRONTIERS, MALAYSIA IS DOING WORSE THAN MYANMAR. CAN IT BE THAT BAD?

It’s true. At least Aung San Suu Kyi was given half an hour of airtime to speak on national television prior to the election. The [Myanmar] media can report bits about opposition parties from time to time. But here it’s zero. Not only that, they [Malaysia media] demonise you. In newspapers, you are [a] one-time Chinese agent, and then Al-Quaeda, [a] Jewish agent or a sex pervert, or [an] Indonesian agent. But they have not called me a Thai agent yet.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER MAHATHIR MOHAMMED, WHO WAS MOST INSTRUMENTAL FOR YOUR POLITICAL MISFORTUNE, HAS ALSO COMPLAINED ABOUT THE LACK OF MEDIA FREEDOM IN MALAYSIA. ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THE SAME TIME?

Of course. He is talking about the prominence he should get but he forgets the fact that he is no longer the prime minister and thinks what he says should get reported on national television. But no criticisms of Mahathir get reported in the media, either about corruption or the fact that his son controls Petronas contracts and is a multi-billionaire. These things are never covered by the media. But the fact that he criticises it [the lack of media freedom] is something positive. In a direct hit today against Najib he said “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. I think this is timely advice.

DO YOU THINK MAHATHIR STILL WIELDS ANY INFLUENCE IN UMNO THESE DAYS?

He has [a] small influence. Combined with former finance minister Tun Daim and others who are billionaires, they can fund a lot of civil society operations and can get a lot of people to attend activities. But I don’t believe they wield a lot of influence, even within the ruling party. One evidence is [that] when he contested to be a delegate to a UMNO meeting he lost. And his son also lost his bid for vice presidency of the party. Of course, that made him very angry.

IN HIS MEMOIRS, MAHATHIR MADE IT CLEAR HE STILL HOLDS GRUDGES AGAINST YOU. WHAT ABOUT YOU?

I am a forward-looking person. I was bitter and was in prison for eight years. But I have to move on. Mahathir has done something positive for the country too but has destroyed institutions in the process – the media, the judiciary, the corruption. His children are billionaires and there are cronies. Unfortunately, he still has this mindset of the past. His bitterness is clear. I don’t think I want to be like that. You have to overcome not only fear but also anger. If your intention is to be in power like Mahathir, full of hatred and venom, I don’t think you would have time to lead the country.

HE HAS HAD HIS DAYS BUT WHY WOULD HE STILL WANT TO BE BITTER AND VENGEFUL?

I think most retired dictators have the same problem. They still want to dictate. For 20 years you are the authoritarian leader, you want people to listen and obey, not to question. So even after retirement, he cannot accept the fact that people oppose him and … Anwar criticises him in public. Things like these are still eating into him. I feel sorry for him. He should have peace and tranquillity and move [on], be a statesman. But he has his strengths too. I don’t deny the hard work, the vision and other things he has done, including the latitude given to me to function as [a] minister of many portfolios.

NOW YOU ARE FACING THE PROSPECT OF GOING BACK TO JAIL. ARE YOU FEARFUL?

You get on with time and you are no longer young. You have been through what you thought was [the] worst. But because you continue to persevere on the path of freedom and, of course, you have to battle against the corrupted and the unjust. I have overcome fear. I was in London a fortnight ago for a conference with former Vice President Al Gore, former Irish President Mary Robinson and other personalities. All of them advised me to stay back in London because there is no point going to jail.

STAYING BACK MEANS SEEKING EXILE?

Yes, seeking exile. Going back means you are not going to get a fair trial. They know I will be condemned to jail. But I, without hesitation, decided to come back. This is my country.

BUT THIS IS PROBABLY WHAT THE NAJIB GOVERNMENT WANTS TOO.

Yes, they prefer to see me out of the country. But I, all my life, I am here fighting for reforms. We are lacking behind in many ways. We used to be better economically but we have lost out. Despite all the political commotion, the battles between the red and yellow shirts, the Thai economy is still moving, albeit at a slower pace. But we are behind because of the issues of governance and endemic corruption. So I believe people like me have a small role to play. But I have to overcome fear. And overcome fear to me is a great achievement.

AND WHAT ABOUT YOUR SUPPORTERS. DO THEY WANT YOU TO STAY TO LEAD THE FIGHT FROM WITHIN THE COUNTRY?

Even many of my supporters who are passionate about reforms feel that they can accept if I chose to stay overseas because they would be disheartened if I have to endure [a] prison sentence again. But I told them I am here, committed.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? YOU LOST A CHANCE TO CONTEST IN THE BY-ELECTION IN SELANGOR THAT WOULD HAVE PROVIDED YOU WITH A SPRINGBOARD FOR A BIGGER POLITICAL [MOVE] AND YOU ARE NOW FACING A PROSPECT OF GOING BACK TO JAIL.

Que sera sera. What will be will be. But we shouldn’t believe that authoritarian and corrupt leaders have the final say. I will continue to persevere inside or outside prison. We trust [the] wisdom of the people. Without the media, without the resources and with electoral frauds we still won 52 per cent of the popular vote. Can you imagine if the election was free, if I had an hour of airtime on television. We would easily have garnered 60 per cent. Everybody says that and some observers say we would have got a minimum of 58 per cent, which would be seen as a resounding victory. But it did not happen because everybody knows there were electoral frauds. Can you call it a democratic election when we didn’t have even one minute of airtime?

IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE ELECTION LAST YEAR, YOU WERE ABLE TO BRING HUGE CROWDS TO STREET PROTESTS AND RALLIES. BUT THEY EVENTUALLY FIZZLED OUT. DOES THAT MEAN YOU HAVE ACCEPTED THE ELECTION RESULT AS A FAIT ACCOMPLI?

Our decision was to have rallies, not street demonstrations. Rallies mean we assembled and departed at eleven. Some rallies were huge, something unprecedented. Though we registered for the rallies we were taken to court and were penalised and had to pay millions. Like in Ukraine and Bangkok, those were the only options we had then. At that point we thought they had sent powerful enough a message and decided to back off a bit, hoping that Najib would respond to a dialogue. Unlike the Thai situation, we the opposition are calling for a dialogue and conciliation. There was no response. I have been opposition leader since 2008 and cannot get an appointment to see the prime minister even once.

BUT AREN’T THERE VOICES OF REASON WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT OR THE RULING PARTY THAT SEE THE NEED FOR DIALOGUE THAT WILL HELP MOVE THE COUNTRY FORWARD?

I believe there are elements within UMNO, probably [a] small minority, that share some of these concerns. But we are talking about a system that is autocratic and authoritarian, which does not allow dissidence within the establishment. Being seen talking to the opposition is considered a sign of weakness. When you have a prime minister who gave a press conference but not taking questions, how do you expect him to meet me? It is difficult to imagine that will happen.

FOR A WHILE PRIME MINISTER NAJIB WAS SEEN AS A MORE LIBERAL LEADER WITHIN UMNO, SIGNALLING A WILLINGNESS TO SCALE BACK SOME OF THE RACE-BASED ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL POLICIES AND LAWS THAT ARE SEEN AS AUTHORITARIAN. 

He did talk about transformation programmes, well-crafted policies to show that he understands some issues, the need for economic competition and to end some of the race-based policies. But they were crafted by international consultants that he employed and paid 17 million ringgits (Bt170 million baht). They were the same group that advised Nigeria and Kazakhstan. So good luck. But beyond that he did not make any efforts.

BUT SHOULDN’T THE RESULT OF LAST YEAR’S ELECTION HAVE COME AS A RUDE AWAKENING FOR THE RULING COALITION?

Based on the essence of their policy, clearly there is no change. As you said, any reasonable persons looking at the election result, with the cheating and the media control, you still managed to get only 47 per cent of the votes. You should shift so that you will be popular, more transparent. In fact, when the ethnic Chinese and Indian chose to support the opposition, the first reaction from Najib was “what more do the Chinese want?” And following that he strengthened the pro-Malay policy. The Malay policy is designed to benefit their family members and cronies, not the poor marginalised Malays.

YOU HAVE BEEN TALKING CONSISTENTLY ABOUT PROBLEMS OF CORRUPTION AND CRONYISM BUT NOTHING SEEMS TO HAVE CHANGED.

No. But there is a better understanding of the issue. Corruption was not a major issue in our culture or elections but now it’s one of the top issues. People see that once you are in the political leadership or prime minister you automatically become billionaires. The contracts are opaque, no tender bids. Privatisation means to prioritise to your families and your cronies. In that sense, we are successful because the awareness has shot up.

YOU WERE INSTRUMENTAL IN UNITING THE OPPOSITION PARTIES BUT AS YOU SAID YOU ARE NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER AND FACING A PROSPECT OF BEING JAILED. HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF THE OPPOSITION WHEN YOU WILL BE NOT PLAYING AN ACTIVE POLITICAL ROLE FOR WHATEVER REASONS?

Political leaders tend to think they are invincible and irreplaceable. But you can be successful only when you are able to give exposure and train new leaders. In our party, across all ethnic groups, we have a growing number of young team members in their 40s and 30s who show the capacity to be effective and articulate leaders with a clear vision for reform, freedom and justice. I am, therefore, very much encouraged by this trend. I don’t think this is just an Anwar’s role. Yes, given the circumstances, I did my part. The coalition parties are quite cemented and strong. It will be difficult to break them.

THAI PEOPLE HAVE TAKEN A LEAF FROM THE BOOK OF YOUR REFORMASI. THEY ARE TAKING TO THE STREETS ON A REFORM AND CHANGE PLATFORM – SOMETHING YOU STARTED MANY YEARS BACK. BUT THE RULING PARTY INSISTS ON ELECTORAL. DO YOU SEE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE SITUATIONS IN THAILAND AND MALAYSIA?

Lots of similarities, because the demands for change and reform are more comprehensive. It’s not just elections. In Iraq, the fault of US policy was its obsession with elections. The institutional governance was not in place, there was no free media or independent judiciary and strong emphasis on education. When you talk about free and fair elections in Malaysia, which are neither free nor fair, you also talk about free media, independent judiciary and the level of understanding of politics and policies so that people can judge the political leadership.

THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THAILAND WHO BELIEVE THEY CAN BRING ABOUT CHANGES THROUGH STREET PROTESTS AND THERE ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE CHANGES SHOULD BE MADE THROUGH BALLOT BOXES. HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE WHAT HAPPENS IN THAILAND WITH THE SITUATION IN MALAYSIA?

You are going through what I have gone through. I understand the Thai phenomenon and the reformasi in Jakarta. At least in Thailand the media does give some latitude to both sides but in Malaysia we don’t have that. In elections as they are, if I have one billion dollars in my constituency I am going to win. So you must start by making sure that the electoral process is clean, there is public education, there are strong electoral laws against electoral frauds, laws against abuse of power and corrupt practices. I think all these must be in place, otherwise you will have one or two big conglomerates funding and winning elections.

SO ELECTIONS ARE NOT THE ONLY ANSWER TO PROBLEMS THAT COUNTRIES LIKE THAILAND AND MALAYSIA ARE FACING?

Election is one of the fundamental pillars but not the only answer. We would require public education, access to the media, and independent judiciary. So it’s a whole paraphernalia that would be required in establishing a democratic system of governance.

MALAYSIA HAS HELPED FACILITATE PEACE DIALOGUE IN SOUTHERN THAILAND BUT THE TALKS HAVE STALLED, LARGELY BECAUSE OF THE ONGOING POLITICAL CONFLICT IN THAILAND. WHAT ROLE DO YOU THINK MALAYSIA SHOULD PLAY IN HELPING TO BRING ABOUT PEACE IN SOUTHERN THAILAND?

I have always called for rapprochement, dialogue between the two parties with the involvement of Bangkok directly. Malaysia must be more aggressive in sending out a clear message that we want a peaceful resolution. There seems to be contradictory and conflicting messages from Malaysia. I know many of the people in Pattani and various groups on the border. A number of times I mentioned to my colleagues in Bangkok the issues of poverty and marginalisation. But we should not compromise on the need for a peaceful resolution. They are all Thais and violence is not the answer. I am not saying the problems are perpetrated by the Thais or because of excesses by the military in the past. But sometimes they are criminal acts using the facade of insurgency by the Pattani movement. I must say that Bangkok’s initiative must be supported clearly and aggressively by the Malaysian government. The Malaysian government must also utilise people that are credible. They cannot have people that even some people in Pattani would question. They must have people who are credible and committed to a peaceful resolution. They must be prepared to surrender arms. And there must be concession in terms of their rights, their language, culture and religion, which I believe are clearly defined in the Thai constitution and supported by most who believe in democracy and freedom in Thailand. What I want to say is that Malaysia must be more aggressive in supporting Thai initiative.

BUT HOW AGGRESSIVE CAN MALAYSIA BE?

Those groups that we have some influence in, we can help convey their legitimate demands to our friends in Thailand. But we must also be firm in suggesting [to] them that in no way will we condone armed insurrection or violence.

29 April 2014

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Foreign Policy

Anwar Ibrahim on Malaysia’s mishandling of MH370, President Obama, and good Jews and bad Jews.

Malaysia’s embattled opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim may not be meeting Barack Obama when the U.S. president visits Kuala Lumpur on April 26-27, but he has a message for him: Ibrahim’s party won the 2013 election in this Muslim country of 30 million people, and Obama’s meeting with the wrong guy.

“How is it conceivable that the U.S. government could ignore the massive election fraud in Malaysia?” Anwar asked. “I would like to see the United States remain consistent and coherent in their policy of supporting democracy. Sending drones to Afghanistan for democracy, and ignoring that I garnered 52 percent of the popular vote? We won!” he said in a phone interview with Foreign Policy on April 17.

Ibrahim was Malaysia’s deputy prime minister and finance minister until he ran afoul of the long-serving former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad. The political conflict led to a 1998 conviction on sodomy and corruption charges, followed by 6 years in solitary confinement. In 2008, Ibrahim put together an opposition coalition that he claims would have won the 2013 government election, had the elections been fair — which the ruling government, helmed by current Prime Minister Najib Razak disputes. Convicted again of sodomy in March — an almost certainly politically motivated overturning of an earlier acquittal — Anwar may face another long spell in prison. “Remind people that I won’t be free for long,” he told FP. (The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Foreign Policy: If you had been prime minister, how would you have handled the MH370 inquiry differently?

Anwar Ibrahim: Although the media here is completely controlled by the government, Malaysia is not. I would say that given this situation, the issue is how you manage a crisis. You must remain consistent with your statements. And transparent! Otherwise, nobody will trust you.

Why is the government concealing critical information about the radar? Or the passenger manifest of those who use stolen passports! Why is the cargo manifest not made public, knowing very well that is relevant? What are we hiding?

Mangosteens are not in season — but Malaysian Airlines confirmed they had three to four tons of mangosteens on board. The Thais didn’t have it now, nor did the Indonesians — so how on Earth did they get all of these mangosteens?

All of these contradictions have caused a lot of concern — that the government is concealing information, and even worse, misleading.

It is very difficult to understand that in this day and age you can have a huge plane and not detect it.

FP: Do you think Prime Minister Najib [Razak] knows where the plane is?

AI: I don’t think so. I don’t know. But what is questionable is why are they now concealing relevant information. What sort of integrity can we have when we can’t release this critical information?

FPU.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Prime Minister Razak on Saturday. Would you like Obama to mention your situation to him?

AI: The United States is more preoccupied with TPP [the Trans-Pacific Partnership] and international trade than issues of freedom and repression. It’s not an issue if Obama meets me or not. But if you preach democracy, you have to be consistent.

Unlike most countries, the prime minister and foreign minister would take any steps to not let any foreign leader to see me. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said to me, “I’ll meet you in Ankara, it’s too much hassle to meet you in Kuala Lumpur!”

FPAnd if Obama wanted to meet with you in KL?

AI: I would be surprised that the U.S. president can be dictated to by Malaysian protocols.

FPMalaysia lacks diplomatic relations with Israel. What would it take for you to establish them?

AI: I was hammered by the government here for what I told the Wall Street Journal in a January 2012 interview: I was attacked as pro-Jew, pro-Israel.

The ruling party already hangs my picture saying all the Jews — Robert Rubin, Madeleine Albright, Paul Wolfowitz — are Anwar’s friends! And that is quite effective. My photograph with [former World Bank President] Wolfowitz is in many villages around Malaysia.

I make no apologies about them being my friends — they are good Jews! There are good Muslims and bad Muslims, just like good Jews and bad Jews. I choose the good Jews.

If I’m a friend of Bob Rubin, he was secretary of the treasury — yes, he’s a friend, what’s the problem?

In the United States, APCO and other public relations firms portray me as anti-Semitic. I have taken a large beating through Najib’s hiring of APCO as his consultant. As you know, they have been involved in Nigeria and Kazakhstan in the past, and the highest paid is Malaysia — $20 million in one go!

I don’t have a problem with the government using APCO — but why must they use paid bloggers, journalists, to demonize me in the United States? [APCO did work for the government of Malaysia until 2010. In an emailed statement, Adam Williams, APCO's global media relations manager wrote that "we have never worked to portray Mr. Anwar as anti-Semitic. We have never taken editorial control over or paid bloggers or journalists to write stories. It is against our code of conduct as a firm."]

So I will be very careful: I continue to support the plight of the Palestinians. It is important for Israel to recognize the plight of Palestinians, and recognize their rights. And contingent on this we can explore with countries such as Turkey, Qatar and Indonesia the right way to engage with Israel.

FP: Last summer, Prime Minister Razak responded to a question about the Arab Spring in Malaysia by saying there was “no basis for people to go onto the streets.” Do you believe that?

AI: He’s presiding over an authoritarian regime with no free media, a compromised judiciary — and all of this is being exposed. Naturally he would sound like Hosni Mubarak!

I would frankly concede that the government is not as blatantly dictatorial or cruel as Mubarak’s. We have better infrastructure and investment is coming. But its authoritarian manner, endemic corruption — that’s why people are talking about going to a major rally on May 1.

FP: Why were you accused of sodomy — why that particular crime?

AI: I am clean, so they had to resort to something that conservative Muslims would find distasteful. It has been used by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein against his opponents. Even Hitler in one case, if I’m not mistaken. It’s convenient.

They can haul up young guys and get them to say it — with not a shred of evidence! No witnesses!

I should add: No one should be above the law. But that sodomy law is obsolete because it is rarely used except against me or other opposition leaders. Second, you have to produce evidence! It’s shocking.

FP: Back to political matters, how would your policies towards China differ from Prime Minister Najib’s?

AI: The position of the government is purely trade and business, and soft on China.

While we are very [much in favor of] strong relations, our position on issues on human rights is certainly more pronounced.

I have personally taken a position on Uighurs in China — we have appealed to the international community to be cognizant that the Uighurs have a right to be heard. We have evidence of abuses and oppression towards them. Our position has always been to encourage China to give them their rights.

FP: If you were Malaysia’s prime minister and were meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, would you bring up the case of the imprisoned Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo?

AI: I would certainly — in a polite, nuanced way. We are a small country, and we are not in a position to provoke. But it would be unacceptable for me, after being imprisoned for more than 7 years of my adult life, and completely insensitive to ignore the plight of prisoners of conscience.

29 April 2014

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The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 28, 2014

Today, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice met with three top leaders of the Malaysian political opposition to hear their views on the situation in Malaysia and their efforts to press for greater democracy, transparency, and reform. Ambassador Rice underscored that the President’s historic visit to Malaysia has been an important opportunity to continue the transformation of the relationship between our two countries–but that even as we deepen our cooperation with the Malaysian government, we are looking to expand our engagement with all of Malaysia, including civil society, industry, students, and participants from across the political spectrum.

Ambassador Rice reiterated the President’s message that countries that welcome the contributions, and uphold the human rights of all their citizens, regardless of their political affiliation, ethnicity, race or religion are ultimately more prosperous and more successful. She also shared the United States’ view that it is critical for Malaysia to apply the rule of law fairly, transparently, and apolitically in order to promote confidence in Malaysia’s democracy and judiciary.

Ambassador Rice emphasized to Mr. Anwar that the United States has followed his case closely, and that the decision to prosecute him and the trial have raised a number of concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the courts.

Ambassador Rice told the opposition leaders that the United States will continue to raise our concerns about issues of political freedom, the basic universal rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and religious liberty–as well as the need to respect and protect the rights of all people, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

Finally, Ambassador Rice conveyed deep condolences on the passing of democracy and civil rights activist Mr. Karpal Singh.

Participants:

-Anwar Ibrahim (Mr. Anwar), Leader of the Opposition, chairman of the People’s Justice Party
-Lim Guan Eng (Mr. Lim), Leader of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and opposition Member of Parliament
-Mustafa Ali (Mr. Mustafa), Secretary General of the Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) and opposition Member of Parliament

Report and photos can be found here:
http://m.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/28/readout-national-security-advisor-susan-e-rices-meeting-malaysian-opposi

28 April 2014

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PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

During the joint press conference on April 27 with Prime Minister Najib Razak and US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Najib stated that:

‘Specifically on Anwar’s case, it’s not — I want to put it on record, it’s not about the government against him. It’s an action taken by an individual who happens to be his former employee who’s taken up this case against him — a complainant. And under the eyes of the law, even if you’re a small man or a big man, you have equal justice. I think you believe in that principle.’

This is a dubious and misleading statement for several reasons.

Firstly, the complainant met with Najib just a few days before filing a police report against Anwar Ibrahim. Najib initially denied the meeting took place. Then he admitted it happened but indicated the complainant only visited him to seek help in obtaining a scholarship. Then Najib changed his story again indicating the complainant came to him to express trauma over being allegedly assaulted by Anwar. Following his meeting with Najib, the complainant met with a police officer known to have been deeply involved in the conspiracy to frame Anwar in the 1998 trial. The complainant filed his police report with Anwar the following day.

Secondly, Anwar was acquitted on January 9, 2012 of the charges leveled against him. The prosecution led by the Attorney General filed an appeal on January 20, 2012 and has led the charge to overturn Anwar’s acquittal. The AG appointed Shafee Abdullah as lead prosecutor in the appeal, an ad hoc appointment to the case which makes virtually no sense unless one considers his background. Shafee is the lawyer to key members of the ruling UMNO party including Dr Mahathir Mohammad and Najib himself. He has also litigated numerous high-profile cases for UMNO leaders. He was present at the meeting in 2008 between the complainant and Najib. The entire prosecutorial process in the Court of Appeal is tainted with the direct influence and interference of the ruling UMNO party led by Najib. Similar concerns were raised by the legal fraternity who observed the trial including the Bar Council, International Commission of Jurists, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the International Bar Association.

Lastly, Najib said that under the eyes of the law, even if you are a small or big man, you have equal justice. His statement reveals the truly deplorable condition of Malaysia’s pliant judiciary. The big men in UMNO-BN complicit in innumerable cases of corruption, abuse of power and murder – such as the Altantuya murder case and the PKFZ scandal – remain virtually immune from prosecution. Meanwhile the small men are systematically denied due process and justice in Malaysia.

For Najib to make a claim that the case against Anwar is a personal matter is consistent with his attempt to deflect from the very real and damning evidence linking him to this conspiracy. For him to utter such calumny standing beside President Obama while stating his commitment to upholding the rule of law is nothing short of an insult to the intelligence of the President, all Malaysians and all Americans.

PRESS OFFICE
OFFICE OF ANWAR IBRAHIM
28th APRIL 2014

28 April 2014

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PRESS STATEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Anwar Ibrahim, opposition leader of Malaysia, and Justice Party (PKR) advisor, along with Democratic Action Party (DAP) Secretary General Lim Guan Eng and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) Secretary General of Mustafa Ali met with United States National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice this morning in Kuala Lumpur. Also present was US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel.

In the meeting Ambassador Rice conveyed a personal message from President Barack Obama to Anwar Ibrahim. President Obama said he sends his regards and best wishes to Anwar and wishes to be informed of the progress made in the meeting. Ambassador Rice also offered her condolences on the passing of the late Karpal Singh.

Anwar expressed his appreciation for the personal reference made by President Obama and on his being concerned.

In the meeting several important facets of the US-Malaysia bilateral relationship were discussed.

Ambassador Rice requested input on strategies to improve the bilateral relationship between Malaysia and the United States and recommended an honest conversation about the negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Anwar indicated he believed it is important to explore all avenues of bilateral cooperation and made reference to the United States’ comprehensive partnership framework in engaging with neighbouring Indonesia and Vietnam. In those countries, engagement was truly comprehensive covering trade and commerce, security, education, environment as well as issues of human rights, good governance and democracy. Anwar suggested the United States create a Working Group on governance and human rights that included representatives from civil society and opposition as one critical way to strengthen the comprehensive partnership announced during President Obama’s visit.

On the issue of the TPPA Anwar believes that Malaysia is a trading nation that must attract Foreign Direct Investment to survive in a challenging global economy. He explained to Ambassador Rice that Pakatan Rakyat has voiced its concerns about the TPPA, specifically regarding its stipulations about the agricultural sector, pharmaceutical sector and the exposure to complex and costly litigation that Malaysia may face upon signing the agreement. Anwar further explained that efforts to engage with the Federal Government to convey Pakatan Rakyat’s concerns and suggestions have been rejected. Ambassador Rice noted the need to facilitate a broader conversation in Malaysia about the agreement to ensure all parties understand it, to not vilify the US, and to ensure that the negotiation process is more transparent and inclusive.

Guan Eng, who is also Chief Minister of Penang, highlighted concerns about electoral integrity in Malaysia. He informed Ambassador Rice that despite the fraudulent conduct of May 2013 elections (which has been documented in a joint study by Harvard and the University of Sydney), the opposition still garnered 52% of the popular vote. Guan Eng explained to Ambassador Rice that Anwar Ibrahim should be the rightful Prime Minister of Malaysia right now. Following the 2013 elections, Guan Eng informed Ambassador Rice that the opposition rallied millions of Malaysians from across the country and around the world to protest the fraudulent outcome. Although never conceding defeat, after six weeks of sustained protests, the opposition agreed to move forward with the business of governing in the interests of avoiding civil strife.

Mustafa Ali stated that Malaysia suffers from the failure of federalism. The states rely heavily on the federal government for development, education and social welfare programs. Mustafa explained to Ambassador Rice that the federal government controlled by the UMNO-dominated BN coalition will resort to punishing states that are controlled by the opposition, such as by withholding development funds (e.g. the Petroleum Royalty for Kelantan). Ultimately the people suffer. Mustafa also emphasized to Ambassador Rice the need for a free media and an independent election commission to correct these problems.

Anwar expresses his appreciation on the availability of Ambassador Rice for these candid and frank discussions.

After the session with Pakatan Rakyat, Anwar and Ambassador Rice continued for a one-on-one session for approximately 20 minutes.

PRESS OFFICE
OFFICE OF ANWAR IBRAHIM
28th APRIL 2014

28 April 2014

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President Obama is on the final legs of his Asian tour that included a two-night weekend stop in the increasingly prosperous Muslim-majority nation of Malaysia. So it’s a shame that Mr. Obama pointedly chose not to meet with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who nearly won last year’s election even as he appeals a second suspicious conviction on sodomy charges.

“The fact that I haven’t met with Mr. Anwar in and of itself isn’t indicative of our lack of concern, given the fact that there are a lot of people I don’t meet with and opposition leaders that I don’t meet with,” Mr. Obama said at a joint news conference on Sunday with Prime Minister Najib Razak. “And that doesn’t mean that I’m not concerned about them.” The opposition leader met instead with White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

Mr. Obama doesn’t meet with every opposition leader, but he was happy to meet with the leader of Angela Merkel’s opposition, German Peer Steinbrueck, and his former campaign adviser David Axelrod is advising British Labor Party leader Ed Miliband. Malaysia wants to join the ranks of rising middle-income states and be considered a full-fledged democracy, yet its ruling party has never lost an election. Mr. Anwar won an appeal of his first conviction but then faced a second indictment as he prepared to fight an election in which his party won 51% of the vote but only 40% of the seats.

Mr. Obama could have sent a powerful message of American concern and political tolerance by meeting with Mr. Anwar, and the symbolism of his failure to do so won’t be lost on Malaysians, especially the young urban voters who are Mr. Anwar’s core supporters.

Wall Street Journal Article
27 April 2014

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303939404579527722508795960?mg=reno64-wsj

26 April 2014

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – On the eve of President Obama’s visit to Malaysia, Amnesty International USA urges him to publicly address the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.

The President must send a clear message to the Malaysian authorities that increasing restrictions on free speech and ongoing human rights violations by the police are unacceptable and incompatible with the country’s human rights obligations.

“President Obama’s visit to Malaysia – the first of a U.S. President in almost 50 years – offers a crucial opportunity to push the authorities on much needed human rights reforms,” said T. Kumar, Director of International Advocacy, Amnesty International USA.

A series of recent developments demonstrate the increasingly restrictive space in which civil society, human rights defenders and opposition politicians can operate in Malaysia.

In March this year, a court in Malaysia overturned the acquittal of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on politically motivated “sodomy” charges. The authorities have consistently harassed him for years, in a blatant attempt to silence one of the opposition’s most important voices.

In another case, human rights defender Lena Hendry is facing politically motivated charges as a result of her legitimate work. She was arrested on July 3, 2013 and subsequently charged under the Film Censorship Act 2002 for screening a documentary about alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka.

In January 2014, the government declared illegal the civil society grouping COMANGO – a coalition of Malaysian non-governmental organizations formed to raise human rights concerns at the United Nations.

“Human rights in Malaysia are increasingly coming under attack, and President Obama must speak out on behalf of all those whose voices are being silenced by the Malaysian authorities,” continued Kumar.

President Obama should demand the repeal or else amendment of the range of laws used by the Malaysian authorities to arrest and imprison activists and human rights defenders and to curtail free speech. These include the notorious Sedition Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Printing Press and Publications Act and the Peaceful Assembly Act.

Amnesty International USA also urges President Obama to highlight continuing human rights violations committed by the Malaysian police. There are ongoing reports of torture, other ill-treatment and deaths in police custody, fatal shootings and excessive use of force and firearms. Many such allegations are not adequately investigated and suspected perpetrators are rarely held to account, creating a climate of impunity which perpetuates further violations.

“President Obama should tell Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak that enough is enough – Malaysia’s human rights record must improve,” said Kumar.

Amnesty International

26 April 2014

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For 15 years, the people of Malaysia have been immersed in our own Arab Spring. After enduring a corrupt and authoritarian regime for more than five decades, an era has emerged in which we are standing up for our rights.

For the first time in our history, the voices of reform and democracy represent the majority. In last year’s general election, the popular vote in favor of the opposition would have swept from power the authoritarian regime of Najib Razak and the party that has ruled Malaysia since its independence in 1957. In its place would have been the Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance), poised to push the nation on the path to greater freedom and democracy. Alas, widespread fraud and devious gerrymandering perpetrated by the ruling party, a situation the White House noted, affected the outcome. A study conducted by Harvard ranked Malaysia as having one of the worst records on electoral integrity in the world.

Despite this setback, the Malaysian people have remained steadfast. Despite anger and frustration over our government’s continued corruption and abuse of power, we have pursued a peaceful approach to educating and engaging with the masses. Thousands have come to hear our message and embrace our cause.

President Obama’s visit to Malaysia this weekend comes at a pivotal time. It would be an opportune moment to live up to the ideals Obama espoused in his campaign and the early days of his administration. Then, there was hope that U.S. engagement with Muslim countries would be based on mutual respect and mutual interest. Yet as the Arab Spring came and went, hope was eclipsed by disappointment. It is baffling that the United States can talk about a democratic transition in Egypt today as hundreds of innocent people are sentenced to death while thousands languish in prison.

In Malaysia, there is an opportunity to take a different path.

Our agenda for Malaysia is straightforward. We envision a nation that enforces the rule of law; a country where judges are independent of executive influence, the media are free and the election commission conducts its affairs unfettered by the dictates of the ruling party. We would fight corruption by guaranteeing the independence of the Anticorruption Commission and removing the laws that make government procurements opaque.

In our Malaysia, all media would be independent and free to shine sunlight on excesses of power, be they in government or the private sector. Most certainly we would repeal draconian laws, such as the Sedition Act, so they cannot be used to muzzle political opponents. In our pursuit of a robust and dynamic economy, social justice principles would prevail over unfettered accumulation of wealth by the rich and powerful. Rent-seeking projects would no longer be allowed to be masqueraded as infrastructure spending, nor would the misappropriation of state funds be permitted under the guise of subsidy cuts while higher and higher taxes are foisted on the middle and lower classes to pay the bills.

In tending to the needs of all races, the Pakatan Rakyat envisions a pluralistic society in which moderate Islam coexists harmoniously with other faiths whose espousal is a fundamental liberty under the federal constitution. It would be a far cry from the diabolical politics of the ruling party, which purveys to the Western world its facade of moderation in religious and race relations while pursuing a policy of race baiting and incitement to religious hatred — abuses widelydocumented by groups including Suaram and Human Rights Watch. With the print and electronic media under the regime’s full control, rumors are spread about an imminent government takeover by Christians, threats of violence are hurled against non-Muslims, Bibles are seized and bishops get hauled in by the police for interrogation. My address to a congregation in a Catholic church one Sunday was condemned as an act of apostasy.

No doubt Malaysia’s media will shower praises on the regime in the wake of Obama’s visit. Malaysia has descended to 145th place on the Reporters Without Borders index of media freedom, so it takes some effort for Malaysians to get the truth. And the truth is that the U.S. pivot to Asia should not merely be about trade and investment or the creation of alliances of the world’s great powers, important as these goals may be. The values of freedom and democracy must remain paramount, and even if Wilsonian idealism appears to be on the wane, Jeffersonian ideals still resonate with the people in this part of the world.

Anwar Ibrahim
Published in the Opinions section, Washington Post
25 April 2014

26 April 2014

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Tarikh     : Selasa 29hb April, 2014

Masa        : 8.30malam

Tempat    : Padang MPAJ.

Semua dijemput hadir.

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