For my son, when he grows up, this site will be my legacy for him. The decisions his mother and I made for him, to understand them, to learn from them and to lead a life without prejudice and to succeed in it on his own merit.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vision 50-50 (chance)

This bite-the-nail-stake-at-the-heart writing was discovered in Malaysia Today and posted by one call R. Shan.
The Malaysian will – trying to cross the sea by standing and swearing at the ocean

We have gone through a whole generation of totally brainwashed sheep. We have followed anything and everything that benefits the people in government and the government system while depriving ourselves and our future generation the chance of a life filled with humanity; where we can see true law and order, where we can be happy with any other race.

When our children do not get the scholarships they deserve, we complain a little, then say, "Baa!" and bow our heads. When we do not get the contracts we ought to deserve as being the most competitive, we complain again but still we say "Baa!" and bow our heads. When our then Deputy Prime Minister was beaten up and hauled to prison on what seemed like trumped up charges, we do not even complain. When RPK was taken away from us, we are even more cowered. We do not even complain anymore. Well, we do; but only to each other.

Malaysians have been taught to always accept, always be agreeable. We are willing to give up our liberty to speak, to think, to act; hoping that by hiding, we will save ourselves from persecution. But we do not see that we are being persecuted every day. Every single day. We see others voicing out for us and get imprisoned. We want to protect ourselves. We say if we keep quiet, then it won't happen to us. We say we are not busybodies. But we are suffering. Our children are suffering. And the children of our children will suffer more if we continue to stick our heads in the sand.

Why should we think change will come if we do not do anything to make change happen? Yes, there are some of us who are willing to voice out. But how many of these are there? 300? 500? 1000? Malaysia has a population of about 27 million. Where is everyone hiding? You can't even hide in the jungles anymore. Even the Penans have been reported to have been persecuted.

A person's will is how a person will act in order to get his wishes fulfilled. The key word here is ACT. Nothing is going to change if we are just going to think about it. Any delay to act erodes our freedom further. Time waits for no man.

Nobody can change anyone else, nor do most intend to. However, by thinking, brooding and complaining about everything and everyone, it isn't going to help either. We all know what has been going on. We have talked about it to death with friends, with family, with other readers of Malaysia-Today. We now need to be willing to act on this knowledge.

If every single one of us rise up to do our part to do what is right, not just do what is right for us individually, but right for all Malaysians irrespective of race or religion, then Malaysia will have a better future. I am not Nostradamus, I cannot foresee what should be the right thing to do or how it should be done but at least by doing something, there is a chance that change can happen. It is by doing nothing that I can guarantee that nothing will change.

Let's all evolve in our public will that you, me and everyone around us will spend some time to act or initiate acts for the good of society without any expectations. Just for the sake of wanting to do something for someone else. Anyone else; not just for people of your own race, of your own religion, of your own beliefs.
Be your own judge.
R. Shan (Human Being)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Loser keepers, finder weepers


AFTER more than seven months in power, the Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor is still discovering "irregularities" committed by the previous government formed by the Barisan Nasional which it ousted on March 8. Had the previous administration abided by the principles of good government, it could have stayed on. In fact, for about 50 years the people of Selangor knew of no other government than that formed by the BN.

However because of the long tenure, it gathered a lot of dirt just like any other government which stayed too long did. There were, therefore, abuses and cover-ups.

After 50 years, it tended to lose sight of why it was there in the first place and was lulled into a false sense of security that no matter what it did, the people would return it to power in the next election. So sure was it of being returned again and again that many malpractices – sometimes no longer considered so after years and years of being considered perkara biasa – were not even covered up by the time of the general election, hoping to do so when it was sworn in again after polling day.

But the people, no longer amused by being taken for granted for years and years, decided that enough is enough. The latest "irregularities" are found in the government’s property development arm, the Selangor Government Development Corporation or PKNS. Discovered was a conflict of interest situation in the management structure of the corporation for a long time considered as perkara biasa. Among other abuses also probably considered perkara biasa by PKNS was the payment of RM100,000 "bonus" to its former chairman and mentri besar, Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo. The series of abuses in the corporation was disclosed by Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim on Monday. He said more disclosures would be made later. While the discovery of the irregularities could provide a lot of political mileage for the parties in the ruling state government, it should also act as a warning to them to constantly remind those at the helm of power in Selangor that they are accountable to the people for whatever they do.

Those governing the state now, too, can leave dirt that will be certain to be discovered when the next government takes over. Thus, those in the ruling group should take heed that whatever "evil that they do" can come back to haunt them later. At the same time they are also to be congratulated for attempting several innovations that can only augur well for the future and happiness of all the people in Selangor. One of them is the appointment of one of PKNS’s Chinese managers as the corporation’s overall boss, albeit in a temporary and acting capacity.

- The Sun Speaks

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hear ye, acted ye, heli, helicopter

Email sent to Lim Kit Siang

From: asiseesit
Sent: Monday, 27 Oct, 2008 12:14 AM

Malaysian Insider today reported that the government have decided to ditch the eurocopter deal in view of the global economic storm. While it only quoted sources of this latest development, the government have yet made any official announcement.

Still, in view of the whole process that had occured from this tender, many have questioned the irregularities of the deal and letter of intent at a time when portfolio of the two leaders changed and the manner the whole exercise was conducted.

the question is, or should i emphasized it, PAC should continue with it's investigation irrespective of whether the deal is call off or not. It should not be the reason to cease the enquiry as i view the latest development as a separate issue altogether.

the objective of PAC's investigation should be to identify, it there exist, irregularities or oversights, to ensure the integrity of RMAF is intact. should such faults are discovered, to recommend the adherence of standard procedures or benchmarking for future tender exercise since such purchases involved a huge sum of the country's funds.

even as a layman like myself, but being in the construction industry and had gone thru many bonafide tendering process, had detected discrepancies in the previous statement by the secretary general's affirming that all rules and regulations are followed in the acquisition.

On or off, PAC inquiry into RM2.3b 12 EC725 helicopter deal must go on
By Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader

Posted: October 27th 2008

Yesterday, The Malaysian Insider reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had decided over the weekend to “cut out the EC725 military helicopter contract” when the government “reviewed its expenses in light of falling revenues from crude oil and palm oil and slowing economic growth for the next few years”.

Today’s Bernama carried a more qualified report, “Govt yet to discuss helicopter purchase”, quoting a government source as saying that “In the wake of the global economic crisis, the government will have to discuss further whether to go ahead with the purchase of new helicopters to replace the ageing Nuris in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)”.

The government source said the discussion will need the involvement of the Defence Ministry and the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who is the Defence Minister.The source said the procurement of the new helicopters was only at the letter of intent stage (LOI) and no letter of award (LOA) had been made to any party.

Regardless of whether the RM2.3 billion 12 Cougar EC725 Eurocopter deal is on or off, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry into the deal, fixed for two days on Wednesday and Thursday, must be held as scheduled as larger issues are involved concerning national integrity and proper billion-ringgit defence procurement process.

Even if the helicopter deal is cancelled, PAC is duty-bound to investigate into the highly dubious and controversial procurement process as it runs counter to all principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.

The objective of the PAC investigation should be to identify, if there exist, irregularities or oversights, to ensure the integrity of the Defence Ministry and RMAF are intact, and should such faults are discovered, to recommend the adherence of standard procedures or benchmarking for future tender exercise since such purchases involved a huge sum of the country’s funds.

Parliament and the nation are entitled to a searching and no-holds-barred PAC inquiry to produce a report to be tabled by the end of November which can answer many controversial questions, including:

1. The bid price from Eurocopter, including delivery charges amounts to Euro 233,345,390, which is around RM1.1 billion. Why has total price ballooned becoming RM2.3 billion? Has the other half RM1.2 billion allocated to middleman for maintenance service over the next 40 years?

2. Why is Malaysia paying over twice the price for the EC 725 helicopters as compared to Brazil, which is getting 50 EC725 helicopters at RM84 million per aircraft as compared to the RM193 million price tag for the RM2.3 billion Eurocopter deal? Shouldn’t Malaysia be getting over 100 EC725 helicopters at the Brazilian price instead of just 12?

Following the nation-wide furore over the helicopter deal, the PAC has itself come under the spotlight as to its performance, efficacy and usefulness.

As one comment queried on my blog:

What happened to RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal issue even bigger than the RM2.3 billion 12 Cougar EC725 helicopter deal?

The last time PAC reported they were dissatisfied with the outcome of investigations. I thought there independent auditors (was it Price WaterHouse??) appointed at beginning this year to audit. What is the outcome?

What about PAC’s earlier investigation into Middle Ring Road II?

I understand PAC will besides EC725 helicopter deal also investigate the other mega deals highlighted by Opposition in the 2009 budget debate - Maybank purchase of Bank International Indonesia (BII) and RM11.3 billion high-speed broadband contract to TM Bhd? Has PAC the resources and expertise to do all these? Wouldn’t investigation of BII’s acquisition be closing the barn door after horses have bolted?

On record has PAC done anything to prevent consummation of scandal tainted mega deals or has its investigations so far brought any one especially the big wigs to account?

The PAC Chairman Datuk Azmi Khalid should give a response to this query.

DAP insists PAC continue probing Eurocopter deal
By Shannon Teoh

Reported October 27 2008

PETALING JAYA, Oct 27 - Despite the government shelving the Eurocopter deal, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang today insisted that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should continue investigating the proposed RM2.3 billion defence contract for procurement irregularities.

The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday that Malaysia will cancel buying 12 Eurocopter EC725 military helicopters due to the bleak world economic outlook. The PAC announced last week it will meet over the deal when parliament reconvenes this Wednesday.

"Even if the helicopter deal is cancelled, PAC is duty-bound to investigate into the highly dubious and controversial procurement process as it runs counter to all principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance," said Lim, who is DAP parliamentary leader, in a statement today.

The veteran opposition leader said the PAC investigations should be "to identify, if there exist, irregularities or oversights and should such faults be discovered, to recommend the adherence of standard procedures or benchmarking for future tender exercise".

National news agency Bernama reported yesterday evening that "in the wake of the global economic crisis, the government will have to discuss further whether to go ahead with the purchase of new helicopters to replace the ageing Nuris in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF)".

The Defence Ministry had earlier announced it would sign a letter of intent for the dozen military helicopters, to be used for combat and also search and rescue missions apart from troop transport, to replace the Nuris that have been in service since 1968. The RMAF has about 30 Nuris left after suffering 18 crashes that killed 95 servicemen since the aircraft entered service.

Lim said any eventual PAC report should provide answers to several questions, including the reasons for the bid price ballooning from 233,345,390 euros or RM1.1 billion to RM2.3 billion.

"Has the other half, RM1.2 billion, allocated to middlemen for maintenance service over the next 40 years?" he asked.

He also questioned the rationale for Malaysia paying over twice the price for the EC725 helicopters as compared to Brazil, which is reportedly getting 50 EC725 helicopters at RM84 million per aircraft compared to the RM193 million price tag for the RM2.3 billion Eurocopter deal.

"Shouldn't Malaysia be getting over 100 EC725 helicopters at the Brazilian price instead of just 12?"

The Ipoh Timur MP also added that the Eurocopter inquiry was a test of the PAC's "performance, efficacy and usefulness."

"On record, has PAC done anything to prevent consummation of scandal tainted mega-deals or has its investigations so far brought anyone especially the big-wigs to account?"

He cited the investigations into the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone and the Middle Ring Road II as examples and called on PAC chairman Datuk Azmi Khalid to give an adeqaute response to the status of these inquiries.

Confirmed - Eurocopter deal off for now
By Shannon Teoh

Reported October 28 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 - The Eurocopter deal has been deferred until the economy improves, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi said today, confirming a Malaysian Insider report.

At a press conference at the Ministry of Defence, he said that this was to reallocate funds to projects which could benefit the people directly in the current financial crisis.

"At the moment we have decided not to purchase the helicopters so as to allocate funds for other projects. The savings are important due to the economy and financial crisis.

"Due to the financial crisis, we need money. We cannot just be borrowing every time we need money. The best thing to do now is reallocate our budget," Abdullah said.

He also revealed that the decision was made in an Economic Council exco meeting on Oct 13, which recommended that certain projects be shelved in favour of those that had a high "trickle-down multiplier effect" on the economy.

Clarifying that the deal is worth RM1.67 billion and not RM2.3 billion as reported, he said the Public Accounts Committee would continue its scrutiny of the deal.

Abdullah, however, said he believed there were no irregularities in the procurement procedure and that the scrutiny would be good.

"It will let us know what the procedures are and explain why the price is so high and comments with regards to the tender," he said, adding that the price was high due to the specifications involved.

By stating that the helicopters were capable of combat, search and rescue as well as troop lifting, Abdullah explained that the 12 Cougar EC725s cost more than those being acquired by Brazil because "they have been upgraded to that level. If it is only for transport, it will cost much less."

It had been revealed that Brazil were purchasing 50 Cougars at RM84 million each whereas Malaysia would be buying its units for RM139 million each.

Eventually, the Royal Malaysian Air Force would need to purchase new helicopters to replace its ageing fleet of 28 Nuris, Abdullah added.

"It does not mean we don't want to buy. The Nuri is old and has been involved in many fatal accidents.

"We have to buy new helicopters no later than 2011. If we can, we want to buy earlier," he said, explaining also that "it is not like buying a car" and would take a three-year period for the aircrafts to be delivered.

He, however, did not rule out a new tender process in the future.

"This is a matter for our officials to decide. Whether we want to do it is our decision," he said.
Abdullah added that various ministries have been instructed to reduce expenditure and this may cause some other projects to be shelved.

Thursday October 30th 2008
Eurocopter deal - shameful episode in Parliament

Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusof was literally grilled in Parliament for over two hours over the billion-ringgit 12 Cougar EC725 Europter helicopters deal as he was totally at sea and unable to answer the most elementary of questions, such as

(i) Why three sets of different figures for the 12 Cougar helicopter deal - RM1.1 billion given by Defence Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah; RM1.67 billion given by the Prime Minister-cum-Defence Minister; and RM1.604 billion stated by Abu Seman Yusof in Parliament today;

(ii) Why no physical evaluation or test flights for the short-listed helicopters; or as I said in Parlaiment, getting Malaysia into the Guinness Book of Records as probably the only government in the world to order sophisticated and expensive aircrafts without any test flight although such physical evaluation for the short-listed tenderers was one of the conditions specified in the tender document.

Abu Seman was dumbstruck when asked both questions and was unable to give any sensible reply. It was a most shameful episode in Parliament.

It has to be left to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to try to immediately repair the damage created by the deputy Defence Minister by answering these two questions outside Parliament, as in the following report:

The Malaysian Insider
Thursday October 30 2008
PM admits price mistake, Najib says RMAF pilots tested Eurocopters at Lima
By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi admitted he had made an error when he spoke of the package price of the much-disputed Eurocopter helicopter deal and which had caused an uproar among Opposition lawmakers in Parliament.

Abdullah who is also the Defence Minister said he was informed by officials in the Defence Ministry this morning on his slip.

The correct figure is RM1.604 billion, but he had thought it was RM1.67 billion and had rounded it up to RM1.7 billion.

“I apologise for my mistake,” he said.

Asked to respond to the opposition’s calls for him to explain the price discrepancy inside the Dewan Rakyat, Abdullah said it was unnecessary as he had already announced that the deal would be deferred to a later date.

He pointed out that the price would be renegotiated again as and when the government finally decides to purchase the helicopters.

“This is academic,” he said.

Speaking at the same press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also denied claims that no physical evaluation was conducted on Eurocopter aircraft.

Najib who until last month held the Minister of Defence portfolio emphasised that the Eurocopter EC725 Cougar was not a new or ‘experimental’ aircraft. He noted that many countries had tested it out, including in combat in Afghanistan.

He said that Royal Malaysian Air Force pilots had tested it in local flight at the Langkawi International Marine Aerospace (Lima) show previously.

Asked to comment on calls by the Opposition for an independent expert panel to evaluate the procurement process, Najib said: “They are making too much a big deal out of it.”
Eurocopter scandal: No inspection done on choppers
Syed Jaymal Zahiid October 30, 2008

Defence Deputy Minister Abu Seman Yusop received a beating from Pakatan Rakyat MPs today when he openly admitted that the multi-billion ringgit military helicopters did not undergo any physical inspection.

Abu Seman, in his Budget 2009 winding-up speech, said the ministry’s technical committee had decided to buy 12 units of the Eurocopter Cougar EC 725 helicopters based on documents alone.

He also took pains to explain that the purchase of the helicopters had cost the government RM1.6 billion, instead of the RM1.1 billion figure given by the ministry’s secretary-general Abu Bakar Abdullah in a press statement last week.

His revelation sparked an uproar in the House and prompted several Pakatan Rakyat MPs, led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, to grill him.

“How is it that a government procurement as big as this did not undergo any physical inspection? I have eight years of experience as finance minister and we have never make procurements without first inspecting (the items),” thundered Anwar.

M Manogaran (DAP-Teluk Intan) took a swipe at the deputy minister, saying that “even when you purchase something as small as a Perodua Kancil, you would want to inspect it first, what more when it is helicopters worth RM1.6 billion.”

Anwar said various aspects have to be taken into consideration like the safety of the pilots should there be any defects in the helicopters and it was absurd of the government not to make such deliberations when procuring the helicopters.

He demanded answers as to why conflicting figures have been cited on the cost of the helicopters.

Abu Seman then replied that it was a mistake on his part as he had overlooked the fact that the services charge and ‘offset package’ like supplementary military hardware had added RM500 million to the original RM1.1 billion to make it RM1.6 billion.

Set up Royal Commission

At a press conference later, Anwar said he could not accept the reasons given by Abu Seman although he believes that the deputy minister was only “reading the text provided to him by his superior” and was not involved in the matter.

“This is a shocking revelation by the deputy minister. A procurement this big without a physical inspection being done is swindling the people’s money par excellence.

“How can you allocate RM1.6 billion for something that you have never even seen or (when you don’t) know if it works or not.”

He said he could “vouch on behalf of the Malaysian army that they would definitely want to inspect the helicopters before purchasing it.”

Asked what he thought of all this, Anwar reiterated his demand for the government to set up a royal commission to probe the matter.

Earlier today, a decision on Anwar’s emergency motion to set up a royal commission to probe not just into the Eurocopter scandal but two other ‘mega-projects’ was deferred to Monday by the speaker.

A RM11.31 billion high-speed broadband project and the RM4.26 billion purchase of the Bank Internasional Indonesia by Maybank were the other projects Anwar had wanted to government to probe.

PAC clears Eurocopter deal, but decision not unanimous
By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 - After several meetings stretched out over the past one week, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has cleared the federal government of scandal into the RM1.6 billion Eurocopter military deal.

However, the decision was not unanimous as some of its members felt that officials from the Defence Ministry had failed to address several key questions, notably what made the Eurocopter EC725 Cougar the preferred choice to replace the Royal Malaysian Air Force's 42-year-old fleet of Nuri helicopters.

Attempts to obtain detailed explanations from the ministry's top officials who were present at today's inquiry session were thwarted.

The questions had been submitted beforehand, but apparently the military top brass had chosen to ignore the queries or had responded merely that they were confidential military information and could not as such be disclosed.

Seven helicopter manufacturers had made a bid for the RMAF tender, which was to equip the Defence Ministry with air craft for search-and rescue missions primarily, and which could later on be used for military combat missions.

Three made it to the final list but the Defence Ministry selected the Eurocopter which cost RM1.604 billion for 12 units. The other two packages cost RM1.262 billion and RM2.442 billion respectively.

The Malaysian Insider understands that while the Defence Ministry had abided by the regulations in the tender procedure, it had not followed the standard norms in calling up each of the helicopter manufacturers to clarify the details of their tender.
"Our concern is that this deal, to put it in a way, is made for Eurocopter. None of the tenderers were called in for tender clarification of the tender document during the entire tender process," noted a horrified PAC member.

"It does not answer the big question," he added, referring to the advantages Eurocopter possessed over the other bidders.

Chairman Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid however concluded today that he was satisfied that there had been no misappropriation of funds into the federal government's procurement in the Eurocopter deal.

"PAC's responsibility is to see if procedure was followed. In the evaluation process, we found that the procedure has been followed," Azmi told reporters after wrapping up the meeting with officials from theDefence and Finance Ministries in Parliament this evening.
He added that the only aspect of the deal found to be dissatisfactory was the fact that no physical examination or flight test had been carried out specifically for this tender.
Queried if PAC found elements of financial misappropriation due to the glaring difference in the Eurocopter package price for Malaysia and Brazil, Azmi said: "The PAC does not determine what is the right price.'

He explained that PAC was not in a position to say which was the correct price or better deal as the requirements for military procurements differed from country to country.

Asked if PAC had inquired the reasons behind the hasty decision to sign the deal a mere two days before Datuk Seri Najib Razak who was the Defence Minister swapped portfolios with Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, Azmi replied that the committee had not asked those questions nor did it address the issue.

When pressed about the issue of commissions from the helicopter deal, Azmi said that it was not the committee's responsibility to inquire about that aspect. But he smiled and hinted that in any business, people would try to make good deals.

Asked if PAC considered its inquiry into the Eurocopter case closed, Azmi hesitated before saying that PAC would continue to "monitor" its development "but for how far, we cannot say".
Azmi added that the PAC proposed for the Defence Ministry to conduct a proper physical evaluation on the air craft before the delivery if they decided to go ahead with the procurement, which is now deferred.

He also submitted that PAC would recommend that an independent review panel be set up to scrutinise all extravagant government purchases in the future. However, he said he left it to the government to determine the amount it would consider to be "extravagant".

The latter recommendation was met with disdain by some of Azmi's colleagues. They observed that the PAC was there to fulfil that role.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oh my god, what have you done!!!

Ex-leader uses blog to needle Malaysian government
By Seth Mydans

International Herald Tribune
Sunday October 26 2008

For 22 years Mahathir was the most powerful person in this land, and his thoughts were commands as he reshaped the country in his own grand image.

But he has become an irritant and a spoiler five years after stepping down, turning against his handpicked successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and he has fallen victim to the press controls he perfected as prime minister.

It is mainly a system of self-censorship in an atmosphere of pressure and intimidation that produces an obedient press and has seen the closure or banning of many publications. “Where is the press freedom?” he exclaimed two years ago, apparently surprised to be suddenly ignored. “Broadcast what I have to say! What I say is not even accurately published in the press!”

Earlier this year, like many other inconvenient critics, he joined what seems to be a political wave of the future, creating his own acerbic blog - - an online journal where he vents in both English and Malay several times a week.

Around the region, bloggers like him are becoming a fifth estate, challenging the government’s monopoly on information in Singapore, evading censors in Vietnam and influencing events in places like Thailand, Cambodia and China.

In March, political experts say, Malaysia’s bloggers helped tip the balance, contributing to the biggest upset the governing party, the United Malays National Organization, had suffered since independence in 1957. For the first time in decades, it fell below two-thirds of the seats in Parliament, and it lost control of 5 of 13 states.

Two months after that, in May, Mahathir went digital, cutting and thrusting with elan.”It is time the so-called intellectuals realize they were being duped by the Master of Spin,” he wrote on Aug. 21, referring to his bitter enemy, Anwar Ibrahim, who was his deputy prime minister and now leads the opposition.

“The pious Muslim, who is also the bosom pal of Paul Wolfowitz, the neo-con Jew, the killer of Muslims,” he said, referring to the former U.S. deputy secretary of defense.

Blogging on September 3, he offered a sort of mission statement. Many people are with him as he harasses the government, he asserted. “But they are not prepared to say it openly. That was why I started my blog. About six million had visited my blog site and tens of thousands have commented and supported me.”

In case anyone doubts this, he posts the comments, by the dozens and hundreds, page after page, day after day. It turns out he has a lot of fans out there. “Amazingly brilliant!” reads one comment. “I can’t stop laughing… you made my day Sir!”

“HAHAHAHA …This is your BEST posting so far, my dear Tun!!” reads another, referring to Mahathir by an honorific.

“Dearest Tun,” reads another, “You are sooooo right.. spot on.. bulls eye..” And just to clear up any possible misunderstanding, another writes: “You, sir, are the most brilliant politician Malaysia has ever been blessed with.”

In the upheaval of the March election, several bloggers, following an opposite trajectory from that of Mahathir, used their online popularity to win seats in the national or state parliaments.The most prominent was Jeff Ooi, 52, a former advertising copywriter who was one of Malaysia’s first political bloggers, in 2003, at

“The government doesn’t have a clue how to handle bloggers,” he said in an interview. “If I were a dictator I would be despairing. What do you do against this?”

The government’s assault on Ooi - “very hostile,” he said - included threats of imprisonment without trial, attacks in the government-friendly press and defamation lawsuits, which are popular among leaders in Southeast Asia.

But that only seemed to make him a hero, and when he decided to run for Parliament with the opposition Democratic Action Party, he already had a big head start.

“As a person that has consistently faced threats as a blogger, I had a kind of iconism and imagery that this is someone you can trust, someone the government fears, someone you need to put into Parliament,” he said.

But he said it is much harder to blog from the inside. “The trade-off is that I have to write with measured words,” he said. “I am no longer my old self. I thought I had to take it to a higher level, and a lot of readers are getting disappointed. It isn’t the same blogger that they used to know.”

Earlier this year, Ooi said, he attended a public forum with Mahathir, and he claims that he is the one who persuaded the old war horse to get blogging. “I threw him a challenge,” Ooi said. “A blogger shares a few prerequisites. One, he is strongly opinionated. Two, he could be controversial. And, thirdly, he is an agent provocateur on issues.

“I thought Mahathir fulfilled all three.” The result, Ooi said, was “a miracle, he scored about 10 million visitors within months.”

Now, a convert to free speech, Mahathir is using his blog to champion the most recent victim of government censorship, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the country’s highest-profile blogger, who posts his slash-and-burn commentary on his site, The site has been blocked, but readers are redirected to another address, which continues to be updated.

The government has fallen back on the kind of tactics that Ooi said it threatened against him, charging Raja Petra with sedition and locking him up for two years without trial for comments he has posted.

Mahathir, the country’s former strongman, sounded almost like Che Guevara when he said in his blog that the arrest showed “a degree of oppressive arrogance worthy of a totalitarian state.”

Furthermore, locking people up is futile, he said in an interview in his sky-high office. There is no way the government can arrest all the bloggers, even if it wants to. At least, he said, “I hope so. Otherwise I’ll be in, too.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Loan those downwards

RM5 Billion EPF funds to Valuecap – Nation-wide protest
October 25th 2008

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the government would inject RM5 billion from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to double the size of the highly-secretive government fund, ValueCap Sdn Bhd to RM10 billion to prop up the stock market.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) President, Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud has rightly come to the forefront to condemn the government’s move to boost up ValueCap to support the local stock market using RM5 billion from EPF, “as the provident fund is the custodian of the workers’ money and not some sort of ‘automated teller machine’ for the government”.

This is the second government attempt to raid the EPF to support ValueCap to prop up the stock market since the idea of ValueCap was first mooted by the Mahathir administration at the end of 2002 to shore up the stock market and bail out ailing companies.

In response to widespread criticism and objections that EPF funds would be involved in the ValueCap operations, the EPF on 20th November 2002 came out with a strong denial clarifying that it had not appointed ValueCap Sdn Bhd to manage the EPF’s investment fund. It also denied any EPF involvement in the KLSE to shore up the stock market.

The EPF declared:

“The EPF invests in companies with sound fundamentals, long-term growth potential and competent management. The EPF is always prudent and professional in its approach when investing members’ savings. The Fund ensures that the investments are safe, not exposed to high risks and gives reasonable returns to its members for their retirement.”

Why are EPF funds being used now to do what EPF had declared six years ago that it would not do – “The EPF’s investments are not used to bail out ailing companies”?

Why is EPF departing from its “prudent and professional approach when investing members’ savings”?

The ValueCap operations has been in existence for some six years but it had always been shrouded in secrecy, with no accountability or transparency whatsoever to Parliament or the nation, which is totally against the principles of good governance and parliamentary responsibility.

When the new government asset management company, equally owned by government agencies Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Permodalan Nasional Bhd and Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen commenced operations on 10th January 2003, Malaysians were told that ValueCap had started with a RM10 billion cash fund allocation.

Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, who was then Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister, was reported by New Straits Times of 17th January 2003 as saying that ValueCap’s three shareholders had transferred the RM10 billion to it equally “in actual cash, and not in the form of shares” when “quashing rumours that the company did not yet have the full amount available”.

Why then are Malaysians suddenly told five years later that ValueCap had only RM5 billion and not RM10 billion investment fund? Where have the balance of the RM5 billion gone to?

This is not the only instance of the totally opaque nature of ValueCap operations, avoiding accountability though managing public funds.

The Public Accounts Committee should undertake an in-depth scrutiny of the operations, management and investments of ValueCap for the past five years and table a full report before the end of the current meeting of Parliament to enable MPs to decide whether it should be allowed to raid RM5 billion from the EPF for its new tranche of operations.

EPF monies are easy government targets for bail-outs, whether for ailing companies or to recoup losses as a result of financial scandals.

The eighties provide a good example as it started the era of disastrous government intervention in the market coupled with the lack of accountability, transparency and good governance – a recipe which produced the Maminco scandal (RM600 million losses in a secretive but foolhardy and expensive foray to corner the international tin market in London), the EPF-Makuwasa scandal (multi-million ringgit EPF losses when EPF funds were hijacked unethically and illegally for stock market operations in trying to recoup losses resulting from the Maminco scandal), the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal which involved the murder in Hong Kong of a Malaysian auditor Jalil Ibrahim and the Bank Negara forex exchange market operation scandal (RM30 billion losses caused single-handedly by Nor Mohamed who was running the forex speculation operation in Bank Negara at the time).

The 12 million EPF members cannot allow their life-savings to be imperilled by stock market speculation activities using the EPF funds, which stand at some RM340 billion.

DAP will launch a nation-wide campaign to protest the RM5 billion EPF loan to ValueCap to prop up share prices and to protect the RM340 billion life savings of 12 million EPF members.

The protest-cum-protection campaign will start from Ipoh next Friday and will be taken to the whole country to urge the government not to hijack the workers’ hard-earned life-savings and “coffin money” to prop up or bail out ailing companies facing bad times with a collapsing stock market with the onset of the worst global economic crisis in 80 years.

Question marks over Valuecap debt

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — State investment company Valuecap Sdn Bhd owes its three shareholders RM5.1 billion, which is due to be repaid in February 2009.

This debt, in the form of interest-bearing unsecured bonds, raises questions over plans for the Employees Provident Fund to lend RM5 billion to Valuecap to invest in the stock market.

In March 2003, Valuecap borrowed RM5.1 billion from shareholders Khazanah, Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen and Permodalan Nasional Bhd to invest in the stock market. At the time, world stock markets were bracing for a looming war in Iraq which followed on the September 2001 attacks on the US.

Valuecap’s bonds were due to be repaid in February 2006, but the company was given another three years to this coming February. At the end of 2006, the three shareholders each held RM1.7 billion in these bonds, according to documents obtained by The Malaysian Insider.

Since these debt instruments were not listed and are not tradeable, the three shareholders are probably still holding these bonds today.

Recently, the government proposed that EPF lend Valuecap RM5 billion to invest in the stock market. In view of its impending obligation to repay its shareholders, however, questions arise over whether the loaned funds will be used to redeem the bonds.

As at the end of 2006, Valuecap’s investments were valued at RM4.8 billion. Since then, the stock market has lost 21 per cent of its value. If Valuecap’s investments have tracked the stock market, these could be worth RM3.8 billion currently.

Valuecap may have managed to unwind some of its positions when it launched a RM840 million Islamic investment fund earlier this year. Called myETF Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Titans 25, the fund is managed by a wholly-owned subsidiary, iVCAP Management Sdn Bhd.

At the end of October, the fund's value was 41 per cent lower than at its launch in January this year.

Market observers have speculated that this was Valuecap’s version of Hong Kong’s Tracker Fund, which the Hong Kong government launched in 1999 to unwind US$15 billion (RM52.5 billion) worth of stock positions accumulated during the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The fund concluded the disposals of almost the shares by the end of 2002.

Current market conditions make it difficult, if not impossible, for Valuecap to unwind its positions.

If it is unable to sell its stock market investments, it may repay its shareholders in kind, transferring its share portfolio to them instead of coughing up cash.

If it did so, the EPF loan would provide fresh cash to make new investments. If its shareholders require to be repaid in cash, however, Valuecap may need the cash infusion from EPF.

The company has been servicing the interest on the debt. It has also established a sinking fund to set aside funds to repay the debt. As at December 2006, the sinking fund stood at roughly RM780 million, and it held RM1.7 billion in cash and deposits.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I am who you say I am

Although my birth right and what is stated in my Mykad tells the whole wide world that I'm a Malaysian, I can't help feeling that the many instances of PR applications by foreigners married to Malaysian citizens who faced the daunting task of going to the National Registration Department (NRD) year after year without fail to renew their visa.

Two cases I like to relate here. And it happened to people I personally dealt with in the course of my work.

Case 1 - Filipino lady married to a Malaysian chinese man

Having completed their studies in the US, both returned to their own country and continued with their relationship thru phones, letters and a visit for another 3 years before they finally agreed to tie the matrimony knot in 1995. Both are qualified professionals in their own rights.

The woman began her PR application process in 1997 after staying in the country for 2 years. Over the years, they have giving birth to two lovely boys. Both registered as Malaysian citizen.

Ten years later, by now 2007, the woman is still waiting for her application for permanent residency to be approved.

I do not know what became of them since then after leaving the company where I worked with her husband.

Case 2 - Filipino lady married to a Malaysian muslim man

Upon finishing their studies in the UK, they continued to stay on in UK and worked there for two years before returning to Malaysia where they got married. Both husband and wife venture into business with the husband father's help while the wife helps with the daily administration of the company. The business was mediocre so to speak but sufficient to afford them a comfortable lifestyle and gradual savings for the family.

Within the same year, the lady submitted their application for permanent residency after converting to islam. After two years of waiting, they received good news that the wife application was successful. That was in 2003.

Can anyone tell me if they are any significance to my posting of this and if there existed any bias in term of race category? Why both cases seemed to warrant differing merit on the part of NRD?

While immigrants to our country with intention to settle here due to matrimony ties, we are also hearing the same predicament of our very own people. The Sabah Daily Express reported today, after controversies of "missing" citizens in East Malaysia being highlighted in the past few weeks.

More citizen grievance
- Daily Express, Sabah

More citizenship cases involving locals in rural areas are being unearthed and some are considering filing legal action against the National Registration Department (NRD).

Veteran politician Dr Chong Eng Leong said the people he met during a visit to Ranau on Sunday wanted to take legal action because they felt victimised since "they believe they are entitled to be citizens by operation of law".

Speaking at a Press conference, Tuesday, Dr Chong said among those who had met him in Ranau were two Orang Sungai brothers aged 27 and 30 who despite having original birth certificates registered few days after birth in Kampung Diwara, Penangah, had their status written as "Temporary Resident".

Accompanied by their mother, he said their other siblings are all Malaysians.

Another case involved two sisters, Siew Yin @Chong Ah Kun and KimLing @Chong Kim Leen who are holding Permanent Resident (PR) status.

Dr Chong said Siew Yin was born before independence in 1941 in Ranau and has a Native Declaration Certificate (Sijil Anak Negeri) No. 40/72 Ranau. She also has a late registration birth certificate.

"She told me she was asked to apply for citizenship in 2000 because her case was classified under Article 15 (1), which is citizenship by registration since she is the wife of a citizen.

"The sad thing is that when her husband passed away in 2006 she was informed that her application was rejected because her husband was dead.

"She was in tears and I understand her feeling. Do you think it is easy for those living in remote areas to come down to the NRD frequently?," he asked.

Siew Yin's sister, KimLing who was born in 1951 also in Ranau had her first IC in the mid 1960s but she only came to know about her PR status in 1974 when the IC was replaced. "All their other siblings are Malaysians," said Dr Chong.

Other cases included Chia Siew Fah, a Sino-Kadazan born in 1949 in Ranau and holder of a Sijil Anak Negeri but also given PR status.

Dr Chong said a 13-year-old Ranau-born girl also met him seeking assistance after her application for an IC could not be processed even though her father is a Malaysian citizen.

The application was not processed because her mother was not a citizen.

"Her mother is an Indonesian who is in the State legally and having a work pass. However, by operation of law, the girl is a citizen of Malaysia since one of her parents is a Malaysian. Furthermore she was born here," said Dr Chong.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hush! Mind your thoughts

Malaysia’s Press Freedom ranking on a free fall
Posted by: Din Merican on: October 23, 2008
October 23, 2008

During the Asia Economic Forum organised recently (October 13-16, 2008) by the University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, I told my Cambodian audience that their country made tremendous progress since 1998 when the last band of Khmer Rouge guerillas in Pailin surrendered to Royal Government of Kingdom of Cambodia. I was particularly struck by degree of freedom, and free market policies of Cambodian leaders. I attributed their progress and stability in part to freedom of the media.

It also reflected the confidence that Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen in himself and the capacity of his party, The Cambodian Peoples’ Party, to lead his country into the 21st century era of globalisation and information revolution. Dissent and criticisms are accepted because the Cambodian people are prepared to learn from, and emulate the best. Malaysia, I added, is not the best, at least not yet. As a result, I was not qualified to offer any advice.

At the risk of being branded a “traitor” in my own country for daring to criticise the Malaysian government in a foreign country for its lack of democracy, failed media and other socio-economic policies and programmes, I said that it was refreshing and enlightening for me to be in Phnom Penh, a city by the great Mekong, even if it was just for a few days.

This stance of the Royal Government of Cambodia is in stark contrast to the UMNO-Barisan Nasional led Malaysia, a country which claims to have become one of the most economically advanced in ASEAN. In Malaysia, the media, I added, has to be licensed, controlled—some are owned by the political parties in power— and monitored by a government that is now increasingly unsure of itself, and scared of its own shadow.

Press freedom is curtailed and Malaysians in general are scared to speak their minds as they feel intimidated by strident actions of government against its critics and members of civil society. Those who dare to speak and write are incacerated in gaol. I alluded to the fact that one of Malaysia’s top blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, and others have been kept under detention without trial for exposing for corruption and abuse of power by the government, its agents and its cronies.Many other brave Malaysians have been detained by the Malaysian Police under the draconian Internal Security Act for dissent.

I am vindicated to read that Cambodia, Timor Leste, Indonesia and Thailand are ahead of Malaysia (see below) in the worldwide press freedom ranking index released today by Paris-based watchdog Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF, Reporters Without Borders).

When will we as both as country and as Malaysians ever learn that free media and freedom of speech and expression are the foundations of democracy? We are poor as a people when we cannot criticise our leaders when they richly deserve to be taken to task for failed policies, wasteful spending of taxpayer ringgits, rampant corruption and blatant abuse of power.

Economic growth, as conventionally measured in real GDP per capita or as a percentage of real GDP, is meaningless when our country is bereft of core human values which include respect for our own dignity (and self-worth). We need people who can think, act with conviction and stand up for what is right if we seek to create a united Malaysia.—Din Merican

Malaysia’s press freedom ranking on a free fall
October 22, 2008

Malaysia crashed into the bottom quarter of 173 countries in the worldwide press freedom ranking index released today by Paris-based watchdog Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF, Reporters Without Borders).

In the latest 2008 ranking, Malaysia fell eight spots to 132. Last year, it was placed 124th while in 2006, it was at 92.

According to the index, Malaysia was placed fifth among 10 Southeast Asian countries after Timor-Leste (65), Indonesia (111), Thailand (124), Cambodia (126).

“In the face of mounting criticism, the government of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reacted with a crackdown,” lamented RSF, referring to several incidences last year.

It said that the mainstream press made no attempt at balance remarks by the authorities attacking the organisers of two major demonstrations last year which were led by election reform movement Bersih and Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

“The Internal Security Ministry asked some media on three separate occasions in November not to report on unauthorised demonstrations.

“Thus a march on Nov 10 calling for free and transparent elections passed off without any coverage, apart from online, including by the daily Malaysiakini, which also revealed in June (2007) that the authorities had ordered radio and television not to allow too much airtime to the speeches of opposition leaders.”

UNMO-linked NST ticked off

RSF also ticked off UMNO-linked New Straits Times for abruptly halting the columns by two independent-minded writers.

“Officially for technical reasons, the columns written by Zainah Anwar, promoting the rights of women, and another by Amir Muhammad disappeared within five days or one another.

“Zainah had headlined her last piece, ‘Let’s give freedom a good press’. Amir Muhammad, a respected film-maker and writer, had broken one of the country’s taboos by rehabilitating communists who fought for independence in the 1940s.

“He posted on his blog the uncut versions of his articles, which were regularly re-written by the daily’s management.”

The press freedom watchdog also said that the management and former managers of NST sued bloggers Jeff Ooi and Ahiruddin Attan for “defamation”, after they posted articles “demonstrating that some news and editorials in the daily lacked objectivity”.

Bloggers threatened by ISA

RSF added the attacks against bloggers continued last year. “Abdullah had called bloggers ‘liars’ while (last) July, (then) law minister, Nazri Abdul Aziz, said the government would not hesitate to resort to the Internal Security Act (ISA) to punish them.”

Popular blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, who was eventually detained under ISA last month, was interrogated by the police in July last year after he posted criticism of the king.

“Nathaniel Tan, a blogger and member of the opposition PKR was held in custody for four days, apparently because of a link from his blog to a website hosting news termed as an ‘official secret’ relating to a corruption case implicating (then deputy) internal security minister, Johari Baharum.”

The press freedom watchdog also cited two cases of journalists being threatened, one of whom was beaten up by unknown men.

Photo-journalist R Raman of the Tamil-language Malaysia Nanban was left in a coma after being assaulted by two thugs in his office in Johor Baru.

Meanwhile, his colleague, M Nagarajan, received a phone call threatening to kill him if he continued to write articles about poor conditions in the schools.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Does it really exist?

The Social Contract: What Next
Written by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Wednesday, 22 October 2008 07:17

The statement released by the Conference of Rulers following their 215th meeting needs to be scrutinized in terms of what has recently happened and who has been responsible for precipitating the current situation of racial and religious disquiet which has resulted in that unusual and extraordinary press statement. My intention is not to engage in discussion about the correctness or wisdom of what is contained in the statement but to point to some differing perspectives that have appeared in academic circles on the contested origins, meaning and implications of the “Social Contract”.

Firstly, it is important to note that the term “Social Contract” is of recent lineage. It was not a term used during the constitutional negotiations; neither does it appear in the days of soul searching in the nation after the 13 May racial unrest. The very first reference to it appears to have been made by Abdullah Ahmad, an UMNO Member of Parliament in 1986 – that is, 30 years after independence and 23 years after May 69.

Abdullah Ahmad’s view of the Social Contract as reported by The Star (31 August 1986) was as follows:

“The political system of Malay dominance was born out of the sacrosanct social contract which preceded national independence. Let us never forget that in the Malaysian political system the Malay position must be preserved and that Malay expectations must be met. There have been moves to question, to set aside and to violate the contract that have threatened the stability of the system. The May 69 riots arose out of the challenge to the system agreed upon out of the non-fulfilment of the substance of the contract. The NEP is the programme after those riots in 1969 to fulfil the promises of the contract in 1957….The NEP must continue to sustain Malay dominance in the political system in line with the contract of 1957. Even after 1990 there must be mechanisms of preservation, protection and expansion in an evolving system.
“According to Dr. Mavis Puthucheary who has studied the subject, Abdullah Ahmad’s speech was roundly criticized at that time – over 20 years ago when it appeared - “as a figment of the writer’s heated imagination and lacking any basis of truth” (“Malaysia’s Social Contract” in N. Othman, M.C. Puthucheary and C.S. Kessler, Sharing the Nation, SIRD, Petaling Jaya, 2008, p.13). She also writes that several writers at that time too strenuously challenged this social contract argument “on the grounds that Malay political dominance [as it was envisaged by Abdullah Ahmad in 1986] was a mundane political reality, not a solemn, enduring, immutable and morally binding constitutional guarantee … entered into at the time of independence.

In the last few years, as noted by Mavis, the term “Social Contract” has again prominently re-entered the vocabulary of politicians and scholars who appear to be uninformed or ignorant about the origins and political connotations of the term and have used it “to fulfill their own preferred notion, and that of their leadership successors, of the future Malaysian nation and its direction”. Further she has warned of the “subtle, often imperceptible, process of redefinition … and even, opportunistic reformulation” of the social contract concept.

Other scholars and writers have also similarly repudiated the notion of the “Social Contract”. Perhaps the most prominent of these dissenting views in recent times is Royal Professor, Dr. Ungku Abdul Aziz, who is reported to have stated that “There is no such thing as [a] social contract, and that the social contract is "a fantasy created by politicians of all sorts of colours depending on their interest". According to the same report he also stated that the social contract “should rightly be called an "economic contract" to justify affirmative action in areas of education and health for groups that needed it the most.” Finally he was reported to have said that he would save his views for another forum.

Now is the time, perhaps if not within the glare of the larger public arena, for a closed door meeting of leaders from the various communities to deliberate on what exactly constitutes the Social Contract, how it relates to the various constitutional provisions balancing the rights and interests of the Malays and non-Malays, and how such a contract can be made compatible with social justice, equal opportunity and the rights and interests of all of the communities that make this country their common home. Just over a year ago, a somewhat similar call was made by Muhyiddin Yassin, UMNO Vice President, who suggested that there is a need for a new national consensus grounded in the “social contract” and the Constitution” (Carolyn Hong, “Let’s Talk About Malaysia’s Social Contract – Interview with Muhyiddin Yassin”, Straits Times, 17 September 2007). Unfortunately, his call at that time appeared to be directed entirely to the Barisan Nasional parties. None of the BN parties - including the non-Malay ones - responded to this invitation.

Now is the right time for all leaders and stakeholders in our country - including those from the component Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat parties and non-political organizations - to find their voice on this possibly the most important subject affecting all communities and the future of our country.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

50 years coma

The following article was extracted from


The failure of the New Economic Policy is becoming increasingly apparent. Affirmative action has morphed into cronyism, nepotism and corruption.

It is a system where a first-generation Indonesian immigrant, who is likely to be Muslim and physically resemble native Malays, can qualify as a "son of the soil" within several years of arriving in Malaysia. But a fifth-generation Chinese or Indian Malaysian is still classified as an immigrant.

Nurtured by the BN/Umno regime for years, these hand-picked Malay captains of industry are today deep in debt and running unprofitable businesses that rely on government largess's. The country's Malay leaders are faced with the decision of whether to bail them out or let them sink — and thus liquidate the very symbols of Malay enterprise.

The NEP has also contributed to a brain drain. Others suggest that the NEP has contributed to racial polarisation and a feeling of marginalisation among the non-Malays. Umno's very own political survival depends on the support of the Malays especially from the rural heartland. Whenever Umno is in trouble as they are now, Umno will invoke The 'Evil Spirits'. These 'Evil Spirits' come in the form of Israel, the United States, of non Malays and non Muslim Malaysians threatening or questioning the so-called Social Contract, the NEP, Islam, the Malay language, Malay Special Rights, the Malay Rulers and Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy).

Umno knows that by invoking these imaginary 'Evil Spirits', the Malays will go into a frenzy and go running to Umno's bosom. One of the ways Umno whips the Malays into a frenzy is to use the MSM such as Utusan Malaysia and TV3. Next, in order for Umno to 'Exorcise' these Evil Spirits, it invokes the Evil ISA and the Chief Exorcist will be none other than Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar. Whatever you may say or believe, Malaysia is ruled by a racist regime that is using race and religion to enrich themselves, their families and cronies at the expense of the Rakyat (People).

The following is a Comment by MASTERWORDSMITH.

Thank you very much, MarGeeMar for this great post. We need more people like you who can see the UMNO moronic racist fiends for who they are. May I have your permission to put your post in my blog and have it linked to yours? I await your response with anticipation.

With regards to your question, I would encourage the child to work towards that dream and to let him know that God willing, one day it may happen. But not at the moment where morons and bigots rule the country.

Having said that, I would not snuff out that desire in his heart but would encourage him to develop himself in the relevant areas, prepare himself mentally, socially, intellectually, spiritually etc and to make him realize that his dream COULD come true if UMNO is not in control of the government and if there is constitutional reform.

I would encourage that child to be a leader in his own little way and to impress upon him that leadership must begin with the right attitude. I would tell the child and guide him along the way to develop himself to be a wise and virtuous man.

Along the way, I would help him to develop powerful analytical skills and also the uncanny knack of sensing possibilities that would benefit the rakyat as a whole and not just for himself or his group. If he cannot get along with his peers, how then can he try to be a political leader?

Although this might sound a wee bit idealistic, as a mother, I almost always try to ensure that my boy has well-integrated personality and display thorough discipline, training and learning, acquired poise, tact, maturity and the ability to discern truth from falsehood and to see everything in the light of reason without vested interests or selfish influences that could come both internally and externally. And this must be done without him losing his childhood. Far too often, in Malaysian society (especially in Chinese families), the desire for meritocracy ends in a dead end because of unfair practices. As such, many parents overload their children with excessive homework, tuition classes etc. with the hope that one day, they will win a scholarship etc and leave the country. Sadly, the development of critical thinking skills, and how to be street smart. The over emphasis on A's must be put to a stop!!!

I also believe that regardless of whether a child wants to be PM or whatever, he/she must be taught to respect the traditions and beliefs of his fellow citizens and show deep respect for the opinions of others even if these contradict his own. Fact is, with the appalling examples from UMNO brats and other racist leaders, this will be difficult because such disgraceful leaders are setting a most unhealthy trend as can be seen by the protest re PKNS GM.

Sadly, our educational institutions seldom teach kids of today moral courage and the need to have complete honesty with himself and his subordinates. We have moral education but does it teach kids today to be able to make the distinction between holding on and living for ideals with integrity and not show moral cowardice but be gentlemanly to admit his mistakes? If they were to look at our leaders of today, *sigh* they would probably be wondering why their parents teach one thing and leaders do the opposite.

Finally, I believe that anyone, young or old, who wants to be a political leader must be a self-sacrificing leader who joined politics because of a genuine love for the country and the well-being of the rakyat and so must be willing to sacrifice comfort, safety and advancement for the greater good of the country. Needless to say, he must have mastery of language and show clarity of expression in speech, writing and thought. If not, then he would have muddled and fuzzy thinking

As for now, we can only dream of a just, capable, intelligent and pragmatic PM for our country because ....reality speaks louder than words.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It is what it is

“Genuine interests of the other communities”. This was the first eye catching words used and it did strike a chord in me. That press statement issued by the Keeper of the Rulers in response to the current state of affairs in our country right now. While I will not go into sentence by sentence and attempt to interpret it’s meaning and the messages intended, I believed you would have come across many other blogs with such analysis, I will only resound my evaluation of the statement to derive the intention of it made at a time when the country is going thru a political uncertainty.

While stressing the importance of unity and tolerance, it emphasized on many instances the Malay’s rights and further elaborated on the government stands against acts of chaos and social unrest. It would seem that those responsible had only acquired limited exposures of truth thus straying dangerously away from their agenda in seeking for resolutions. In actual fact, the crux of the issues was never on rights, but considers a trespassing of cultural properties and entities to a realization which was necessary to make aware of oversights and compromise needed to attain an agreed common wisdom and acceptance.

It was indeed noble and patriotic that such statement was issued but it falls short of any solution or definite end in sight to our current situation. What it did was enhancing the ideas of differing ethnic and racial groupings categorizing them between the rightful ownership of birth rights by history and the migratory status of our forefathers.

As our nation, including our government leaders are beginning the embrace the digital information era, albeit being behind after a disastrous kick-in-the-butt showing of the last general elections, our leaders cannot ignore the fact that the people had and still voicing their dissatisfaction after conventional delivery proved ineffective.

To date I’ve yet to comprehend why in this country the fundamental channel thru legitimate means although it appeared only thru press statements and media’s highlight of events, controversies of differences in perceptions and social territorial encroachment, were not addressed by the relevant leaders or arbitrated via intermediaries. Instead, the judiciary found itself suddenly with a sea of lawsuit cases and subsequently the clamping down of so called provocateurs with the use of ISA. Judgment and punishment seemed to be the solution.

Whether the use of ISA, rightfully so in it’s nature to maintain order and harmony in the country, applied in a non-hostile country like Malaysia and it’s citizen in the least combat minded, at a time when tolerance and virtue is of the most crucial and critical. The ruling party, to elevate their image to an acceptable level to the people and reinvent themselves with promise of greater performances to show sometimes only in graphical forms, by doing so, evidently showcased and paraded a range of incompetence and discrepancies in their implementations for the benefit of the oppositions onslaught.

It further aggravated the sentiments of hardliners and even generated sympathizers which are now believers by as much as the sands on the shores. Credibility of the government is now at risk or already have as each justifications of its’ actions resulted in more controversies and raises doubts as to the intention of safeguarding the country’s well being or simply the ruling party credentials – past, present and future.

After more than 7 months of soul searching and with an agenda to revalue their worth to the people, the ruling party obviously had chosen a path to sustain their grip hold with the ascendance of a successor that is equally questionable on its level of integrity.

The assurances by the rulers to untangle complications thru a check-and-balance factor to the people is somewhat deluged with more statements of nobility standings and assertions of its status of rights and seeking all to complied to the Federal Constitutions and in it the clauses are deemed undisputable. More tried to interpret and understand these verses so intellectually and eloquently phrased, key and prominent figures have yet to offer real settlement in physical forms other than mere psychological reliever.

What it did do is exonerate itself completely from the confusions and uncertainties with spiritually enhanced sermons designed to offset the rising change and needs by the people for the ruling party to maintain a tradition that is still sacrilege and bountiful with material wealth of immerse proportion to a few elites and power house that far out weight the ratios spread of a greater population.

The wave of change is imminent. Whether by a stroke of the pen or a slap on the wrist, the signs are there and the final call of descend will requires one’s patience and perseverance.

I offered the below caption:-

Failed in Business - Bankruptcy, 1831
Defeated for Legislature, 1832
Sweetheart/Fiancée Dies, 1835
Nervous Breakdown, 1836
Defeated in Election, 1836
Defeated for U.S. Congress, 1843
Defeated again for U.S. Congress 1846
Defeated once again for U.S. Congress, 1848
Defeated for U.S. Senate, 1855
Defeated for U.S Vice President, 1856
Defeated again for U.S. Senate, 1858

ABRAHAM LINCOLN – Portrait of an Achiever
Elected President of the U.S.A., 1860

"You can not fail...unless you quit!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Define privileges, define eminence...

The following article was extracted from The Malaysian Insider. It took me a while after a couple of readings to really understand the context of this statement. Over the weekend, I will pen my thoughts and reasoning on this, with a heavy heart.
Rulers: Do not question social contract

KUALA TERENGGANU, Oct 16 - The 215th meeting of the Conference of Rulers, held at the Istana Maziah here, today issued a special press statement on several matters enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Following is the press statement in full issued by the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, Engku Tan Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah. :

"Press Statement issued by the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal on the role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers regarding the special privileges, position, eminence or greatness of the Malay Rulers, Islam, Malay as the national language, the special position of the Malays, and genuine interests of the other communities in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

"The Malay Rulers who attended the meeting of the Conference of Rulers conferred on the issuing of this special joint press statement today.

"The Malay Rulers hold the constitutional role to safeguard the special privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the National Language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia.

"The actions of certain quarters in disputing and questioning these matters, which formed the primary basis for the formation of Malaysia and are enshrined in the Federal Constitution, had caused provocation and uneasiness among the people.

In retaliation, several quarters particularly Malay leaders whether in the government or non-governmental organisations as well as individuals had expressed their dissatisfaction and anger against those who had made the statements and reports and organised the forums.

"Among the reasons identified for these to have occurred is the cursory knowledge of those concerned regarding the historical background as to why these provisions were enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the influence of their attempts to implicate the principles of impartiality and justice without regard for the historical background and social condition of this country.

Narrow political interests are also a cause. "Unless this phenomenon is arrested immediately, it can lead to disunity and racial strife that can undermine the peace and harmony which has all this while brought progress, development and success to the nation.

"As such, it is necessary for the Conference of Rulers to emphasise and remind all quarters of these constitutional provisions besides giving emphasis to the assurance of safeguarding the genuine rights of other communities.

It has to be emphasised that each provision in the Federal Constitution has undergone the process of discussion, consideration, consultancy, sacrifice and compromise of the highest degree for what has been championed, discussed, considered, benefited from as well as agreed to by all quarters concerned, until the realisation of the provisions in the Federal Constitution which are known as the Social Contract.

It is not proper to dispute and question this Social Contract and more so to subject it to a review or change because it is the primary basis of the formation of Malaysia.

Therefore, it is appropriate for the Malay Rulers to remind that there should never be any attempt ever to test and challenge issues related to the Social Contract.

"Truly, the leaders of the pre-independence era were insightful - far-sighted. They brought along with them the Malay Rulers for the negotiations to claim independence.

The Institution of the Rulers was retained and legally enshrined in the constitution of an independent Malaysia.

The Institution of the Rulers was accorded eminence, was positioned at the apex of Government, as the head of the country and the states, as a protective umbrella, ensuring impartiality among the citizens.

The Institution of Rulers takes on the role of being a check-and-balance factor to untangle complications, if any.

"The Conference of Rulers also calls on the Malays to be united to safeguard the privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the national language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

It has to be emphasised that this agenda is more important and foremost than political or factional interests.

"Non-Malays should not harbour any apprehension or worry over their genuine rights because these rights are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and provisions of the state constitutions of Malaysia contained in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

"It is hoped that with this emphasis, all confusion among the people regarding these matters can be contained and an atmosphere of peace, harmony and mutual respect can continue to exist among the people for the maintenance of order in the country."

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, attended the meeting today. His Majesty was accompanied by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The two-day meeting, which ended today, was chaired by the Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah. All the Rulers and Yang Dipertuas Negeri attended the meeting except the Rulers of Pahang, Johor, Terengganu, Perlis and Negeri Sembilan.

The Sultan of Pahang was represented by the Regent of Pahang, Tengku Mahkota Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah; the Sultan of Johor by the Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Sultan Iskandar; the Sultan of Terengganu by the President of the Regency Advisory Council Raja Tengku Sri Panglima Raja Tengku Baderulzaman Sultan Mahmud.

The Yang Dipertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan by the Regent of Negeri Sembilan, Tunku Naquiyuddin Ibni Tuanku Ja'afar; and the Raja of Perlis by the Raja Muda of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Jamalullail.

Also present were the menteris besar and chief ministers except the Sarawak chief minister who was represented by State Planning and Resource Management Minister II Datuk Seri Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

The Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, Engku Tan Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah, said matters related to defence, security, the national economy, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong scholarships, and proposals on the appointment of the Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judge of Malaya were discussed at the meeting.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lead them backwards

Politics And Posturing
Farish A Noor

I have not given up on the idea of democracy yet, though I would have to say that even as the best of political arrangements, there are still some bugs in the system. The most obvious is the tendency for democratic politicians to pander to the whims and demands of every constituency that comes forward and says, “If you give us this, we will vote for you”.

The run-up to the American Presidential election has witnessed just one such prolonged bout of horse-trading as the candidates were forced to deal with demands from every single lobby and interested party, be they disenfranchised single mothers or the looney gun lobby.

Democratic politicians are therefore inclined to that most distasteful and indecorous of habits: political posturing. It is all part and parcel of the pathetic attempt to win votes at any cost, though the costs — social and political — are many as they are high. Add to political posturing the plural climate of a multicultural society, and you have the formula for disaster.

In many post-colonial societies like Malaysia, we see the same perilous path being walked by all parties. At present the uncertain fate of Malaysia hangs in the balance as nobody knows for certain who or what party will be running the country by 2009. Added to that is the increasingly vocal cry of so many dissonant voices demanding different things. The vernacular educational lobby is demanding separate educational streams where students will be taught in their mother tongues, be it Malay, Chinese or India. The religious lobby is likewise divided amongst themselves as Malay-Muslims demand Islamisation and more mosques, while the other communities are demanding protection of their Churches and Temples. Malaysian politicians, being the craven lot that they are, are conceding to all the demands and promising everything under the sun as long as they are voted into office.

Now of course all of this posturing will lead us to that fateful day when the electorate says, “Now that you have won, where are the things you promised us?”

Can any Malaysian government — regardless of who leads it — really deliver on all their promises? Can any Malaysian leader really deliver more Malay-Muslim, Chinese and Indian schools at the same time, or more money to be spent on mosques and madrassas, churches and temples, at the same time?

Even if all these demands are met, does anyone has the common sense to look at the realities on the ground and note the fact that Malaysians are less inclusive and accommodating compared to what they were like in the 1970s? In Malaysia’s universities Malay, Chinese and Indian students are not even sitting down and eating together in the canteens.

The nightmare scenario that may be the outcome of multiculturalism gone wrong is the day when a Malay-Muslim in Malaysia can be born to a Malay family, live in a Malay home, have Malay friends, speak Malay, read the Malay papers, watch Malay TV shows and movies, live and die in a Malay neighborhood without ever having had a serious meaningful conversation with a non-Malay throughout his or her life. The same concerns can be extended to Malaysians of Chinese and Indian origin, and multiply this on a scale of 25 million and you will have the Malaysian nation-state falling apart before our eyes.

Democratic politicians in Malaysia and elsewhere should therefore understand one simple fact: That democracy is not a license for every sectarian grouping to come forth and make exclusive sectarian demands for itself and at the expense of the rest of the nation. While Malaysia’s race and religion-based lobby groups have been calling for their own specific interests to be met, when was the last time any Malaysian group called for a simple thing like a playground, a common neutral space where Malaysians of all races and religions could come together on a universal basis, as citizens?

If Malaysia’s multicultural society seems to be growing further apart, the time has come for Malaysia’s democratic forces to get its act together and insist on the widening and deepening of the country’s shrinking neutral democratic space.

Populist politicians may get political mileage by pandering to the demand of bigots and sectarian-minded exclusivists when it suits their electoral prospects, but politicians are leaders who should lead, not be led. They can start by leading the way back to an inclusive neutral democratic culture where citizenship, rather than parochial ethnic and religious belonging, is the defining feature of our plural politics. Failure to do so means that they are just taking us down the path to the Balkans, or worse still, Rwanda.

Dr Farish A Noor is a Senior Fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; and one of the founders of the research site

source: Daily Times, Pakistan

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why him? Why now? Why here?

Dato’ Seri Anwar Bin Ibrahim - Prime Minister of Malaysia (to be?)

Dato' Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim (born 10 August 1947) is a Malaysian politician who served as Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998. Early in his career, he became a protégé of the Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, but subsequently emerged as the most prominent critic of Mahathir's administration.

In 1999, he was sentenced in a highly controversial trial to six years in prison for corruption, and in 2000, to another nine years for alleged homosexual acts. However, in 2004, Malaysia's highest court, the Federal Court reversed the second conviction and he was released. In July of 2008, he was arrested over allegations he sodomised a male aide.

Anwar is the only Malaysian to ever make it into Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world.

On August 26, 2008, Anwar won the Permatang Pauh by-election with a majority of 15,671, returning to Parliament as leader of the Malaysian opposition. He is currently struggling to assemble the Opposition government and faces new sodomy charges in the Malaysian courts.

Early years
Anwar was born in Cherok Tok Kun, a village on the mainland side of the northern Malaysian state of Penang, to a hospital porter, Ibrahim Abdul Rahman (later to join politics and retire as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health) and Che Yan, a housewife (and later UMNO politician). He was educated at University of Malaya, where he read Malay Studies. Prior to that, he took his secondary education at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar.

From 1968 to 1971, as a student, Anwar was the president of a Muslim students organisation, Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM). He was one of the protem committee of Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) or Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia which was founded in 1971. He was also elected President of the Malaysian Youth Council or Majlis Belia Malaysia (MBM). In 1974, Anwar was arrested during student protests against rural poverty and hunger. He was imprisoned under the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial, and spent 20 months in the Kamunting Detention Centre for political prisoners.

Groomed for leadership

In 1968-1971, he was first groomed in the National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students (Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia, PKPIM) as the president of the Union. He was very well known as one of the most prominent student movement leaders. In 1982, Anwar, who was the founding leader and second president of a youth Islamic organisation called Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM), shocked his liberal supporters by joining the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), led by Mahathir bin Mohamad, who had become prime minister in 1981. He moved up the political ranks quickly: his first ministerial office was that of Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports in 1983; after that, he headed the agriculture ministry in 1984 before becoming Minister of Education in 1986. By then, speculation was rife about Anwar's ascent to the Deputy Prime Minister's position as it was a commonly-occurring phenomenon in Malaysia for the Education Minister to assume the position of Deputy PM in the near future.

During his tenure as Education Minister, Anwar introduced numerous pro-Malay policies in the national school curriculum. One of the major changes that he did was to rename the national language from Bahasa Malaysia to Bahasa Melayu. Non-Malays criticized this move as it would cause the younger generation to be detached from the national language, since they would attribute it to being something that belongs to the Malays and not to Malaysians.

In 1991 Anwar was appointed Minister of Finance. In 1993, he became Mahathir's Deputy Prime Minister after winning the Deputy Presidency of UMNO against Ghafar Baba. Anwar was being groomed to succeed Mahathir as prime minister, and frequently alluded in public to his "son-father" relationship with Mahathir; in early 1997, Mahathir appointed Anwar to be acting Prime Minister while he took a two-month holiday.

In 1994, Anwar was knighted by the then State Governor of Penang, Tun Hamdan Sheikh Tahir, a Penang-born, Negeri Sembilanese former Education Ministry Director-General who was also a family friend of his and Dr Mahathir's.

Towards the end of the 1990s, however, the relationship with Mahathir had begun to deteriorate, triggered by their conflicting views on governance. In Mahathir's absence, Anwar had independently taken radical steps to improve the country's governing mechanisms which were in direct conflict with Mahathir's capitalist policies. Issues such as how Malaysia would respond to a financial crisis were often at the forefront of this conflict.

Anwar's frontal attack against what he described as the widespread culture of nepotism and cronyism within UMNO (and the ruling coalition as a whole) angered Mahathir, as did his attempts to dismantle the protectionist policies that Mahathir had set up. "Cronyism" was identified by Anwar as a major cause of corruption and misappropriation of funds in the country. Mahathir retaliated by isolating Anwar within UMNO. The events of late-1998 marked the beginning of Anwar's descent within UMNO and his subsequent ouster from the party and from Malaysian politics.

Financial crisis

During the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 Anwar, in his capacity as finance minister, supported the International Monetary Fund (IMF) plan for recovery, which meant a restructuring of the economy involving opening up to greater foreign investment and competition. He also instituted an austerity package that slashed government spending by 18%, cut ministerial salaries and deferred major investment projects. Large-scale infrastructure development projects known as "mega projects" were set back as well, despite being a cornerstone of Mahathir's plans for developing the nation. These measures aroused bitter opposition from Mahathir.

Although many Malaysian companies faced the threat of bankruptcy, Anwar declared: "There is no question of any bailout. The banks will be allowed to protect themselves and the government will not interfere." Anwar advocated a free market approach, sympathetic to foreign investment and trade liberalisation, whereas Mahathir favored currency and foreign investment controls, blaming unchecked speculation by currency speculators like George Soros for the shrinking economy. There is disagreement among economists whether Anwar's policies would have been more or less successful than Mahathir's; however, most denounced Mahathir's hypothesis that George Soros was to blame. Economists proposed currency controls before the Malaysian currency, the ringgit, slid further, but their advice was not taken. By the time Mahathir decided to impose currency controls and preventive measures to keep hedge funds in check, the Malaysian economy had plummeted to its lowest level yet since the recession of the early-1980s.

In 1998 Newsweek magazine named Anwar the "Asian of the Year." However, in that year, matters between Anwar and Mahathir came to a head around the time of the quadrennial UMNO General Assembly. The Youth wing of UMNO, headed by Anwar's associate, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, gave notice that it would initiate a debate on "cronyism and nepotism". The response was swift, as Mahathir issued lists of cronies who had benefited from government share allocations and privatisations. To the chagrin of Anwar and his allies, several of them were on the list, including Anwar and Zahid.

Anwar continued his assault on what he called the rampant corruption within Mahathir's administration, by attempting to impose transparent audits on major conglomerates and business empires, which, he alleged, had been overcharging for government projects and evading taxes. One of the potential victims would have been Mahathir's son, Mirzan Mahathir, who was a director in almost 100 private and Government-linked companies. Conglomerates that were closely linked to the government, such as Renong, would have been adversely affected as well.


At the UMNO General Assembly, a book, 50 Dalil Kenapa Anwar Tidak Boleh Jadi PM ("50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister") was circulated containing graphic allegations as well as accusations of corruption against Anwar. This book carried the byline Khalid Jafri, an ex-editor of the government-controlled newspaper Utusan Malaysia and former editor-in-chief of a failed magazine, Harian National. Anwar obtained a court injunction to prevent further distribution of the book and filed a defamation action against the author. In August, police charged the author of the book with malicious publishing of false news. In September, the judge who had banned the book's distribution was transferred to a lower court despite being a senior judge.

Among the allegations in the book was that Anwar is homosexual and a serial sodomite. The police were instructed to investigate the veracity of the claims. The author died in 2005 of complications from diabetes, but not before the High Court found that he had committed libel and awarded Anwar millions of ringgit in compensation.

Recently, the former deputy President of Anwar's political party, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, lambasted Anwar for his close ties to Paul Wolfowitz, the former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense and former president of the World Bank. In an interview with the BBC's Hardtalk after his release from prison, Anwar admitted to his friendship with Wolfowitz. This allegation has repercussions in Malays, who have been found to generally agree with the statement by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir, that the U.S.-led "war on terror" is actually a "war on Islam".

Trial and conviction

Anwar was fired from the Cabinet in September, amid police reports that he was under investigation. The following day, he was expelled from UMNO. Dr. Munawar Anees, Anwar's former speechwriter, and Sukma Darmawan Sasmita Atmadja, Anwar's adoptive brother, were arrested under suspicion of engaging in homosexual acts. Five days later, they were given a jail sentence of six months after pleading guilty to "unnatural sex" with Anwar. They later recanted their confessions, and appealed the sentence, claiming to have been coerced into pleading guilty. Anees made a statutory declaration to that effect. However, Dr. Munawar's appeal was rejected by the High Court on October 29, 2008 upholding his guilty sentence. Two of Anwar's secretaries, Ezam Mohamad and Mohamad Azmin Ali, were both held separately as part of police investigations into the "50 reasons" book. Both were later released.

A few days later Anwar addressed a protest gathering of nearly 100,000 people in Kuala Lumpur, after which a number of his supporters marched to Mahathir's then official residence demanding reformasi (economic and political reforms) and Mahathir's resignation. This march, a rare event in Malaysia, caused concern in the government. That night, Anwar's home was raided by a masked and armed SWAT team from the Royal Malaysian Police. His arrest was announced several hours later, as were those of several of Anwar's supporters, although most of them were later released.

Charges of corruption and sodomy
On September 29, 1998 Anwar appeared in court and pleaded innocent to charges of corruption and sodomy. A photo of Anwar with a black eye (which he incurred from a beating by then Inspector General of Police Rahim Noor) and one hand raised became a symbol of the political opposition in many reformasi posters.

The black eye was explained by Mahathir Mohamad and Rahim Noor as being "self-inflicted" and caused by "pressing a glass over his eyes". Only after a Royal Commission was convened did Rahim Noor admit that he had administered the beating to Anwar Rahim apologized for the incident in August 2005. Both Anwar and Rahim Noor have denied the allegations that Anwar was sodomised in prison to "plant" the forensic evidence of anal sex.

During the trial, a mattress was presented to court, supposedly stained with Anwar's semen. This was submitted as DNA evidence of Anwar's sexual acts. Anwar denied having anything to do with the mattress, although the DNA tests came out positive. The defense team alleged that Anwar was masturbated while unconscious. Dr. Lim Kong Boon, a doctor during the trial, testified that it is possible to massage the prostate gland through the anus in order to stimulate ejaculation in an unconscious victim. The defense council presented this as evidence for police sexual abuse to obtain false forensics evidence to frame Anwar.

Anwar was also accused of corruption relating to the police investigation into and arrest of the author of 50 Reasons. He was also accused of sodomy with his wife's chauffeur, Azizan Abu Bakar. Judge Augustine Paul wrote 320 page judgment in the case, the longest judgment in the country's history. In that judgment, he explains the evidence involved and the rulings he made.

During the trial, Mahathir appeared on Malaysian television in a special appearance to explain the arrest of his deputy. This was one of several occasions in which Mahathir declared Anwar guilty of sodomy and homosexual acts, even as the trial still was underway. The government included the statements of the purported victims of Anwar's sodomy attacks, evidence that was widely considered to be tainted. Furthermore, the prosecution was unable to accurately decide on a date that the alleged acts of anal sex had occurred - the government originally alleged that a sodomy had occurred inside a building that had not been constructed at the time of the alleged event. Furthermore, the Attorney General's prosecution team (headed by Abdul Gani Patail) also submitted a scenario in which Dr Munawar Anees took an overnight flight from Britain all the way to Malaysia to be sodomized by Anwar, and flew back to Britain after that. The infamous "stained mattress" that was taken in and out of court over 20 times throughout the duration of the trial, was supposedly the same one that Anwar did his homosexual acts and extramarital sex on. However, according to the evidence, the sexual acts had taken place on the mattress a few years ago, and yet the DNA evidence obtained from it were rather recent in age.

On April 14, 1999, Anwar was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption and, on August 8, 2000, nine years in prison for sodomy. The sentences were to be served consecutively, and Anwar was given no credit for the six months he spent in jail during the trial. The following year, Anwar's corruption conviction was upheld by Malaysia's Court of Appeal. In July 2002, Anwar lost his final appeal against the corruption conviction in the Federal Court.

In a speech during the proceedings against him, Anwar explained what he believed to be the underlying motive behind his persecution. He told the court: "I objected to the use of massive public funds to rescue the failed businesses of his (Mahathir's) children and cronies." Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch expressed doubts about the fairness of the trials. Amnesty International subsequently designated Anwar as a prisoner of conscience. The trial also provoked international criticism. Then-U.S. Vice President Al Gore denounced Anwar's trial as a "mockery", but Mahathir rejected all such international criticism as "foreign interference."

Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, subsequently formed Parti Keadilan Nasional (the National Justice Party, later known as Parti Keadilan Rakyat or the People's Justice Party), which based its platform on campaigning for Anwar's release and reformasi. At the following general election, the People's Justice Party performed poorly in the election, only retaining a single parliamentary seat, Anwar's old parliamentary seat of Permatang Pauh, which was won by his wife.

Release from prison
On September 2, 2004, a panel of three judges of the Federal Court (Malaysia's highest court) overturned the sodomy conviction by 2 to 1, finding contradictions in the prosecution's case. However, the judges noted "We find evidence to confirm that the appellants were involved in homosexual activities and we are more inclined to believe that the alleged incident at Tivoli Villa did happen."

Anwar completed his term for corruption after his sentence was being reduced for good behaviour. Although the point was by now moot, an appeal on the corruption charges was heard on September 6, 2004. Under Malaysian law a person is banned from political activities for five years after the end of his sentence. Success in this appeal would have allowed him to return to politics immediately. On September 7, the court agreed to hear Anwar's appeal. However, on September 15, the of Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that its previous decision to uphold a High Court ruling that found Anwar guilty was in order, relegating Anwar to the sidelines of Malaysian politics until April 14, 2008. The only way for Anwar to be freed from this stricture would have been for him to receive a pardon from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

At the time of his release from prison, Anwar was reportedly suffering from serious back problems, which his family said was the result of the beating by the ex-police chief. However, the UMNO-owned newspaper, the New Straits Times, alleged that the injuries had actually been caused by a fall from a horse in 1993 during Anwar's tenure as deputy prime minister. His wife had argued during his imprisonment that he required treatment for his condition at a clinic in Germany. The government refused, claiming that such treatment was readily available in Malaysia, offering medical treatment if necessary. However, in September 2004, after the Federal Court quashed his conviction for sodomy, Anwar was free to travel to Munich for back surgery.

Since his release from prison, Anwar has held teaching positions at St Antony's College, Oxford, where he was a visiting fellow and senior associate member, at Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies in Washington DC as a Distinguished Senior Visiting Fellow, and as a visiting professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. In March 2006 he was appointed as Honorary President of the London-based organization AccountAbility (Institute of Social and Ethical AccountAbility).

In July 2006, Anwar was elected Chair of the Washington-based Foundation for the Future. In this capacity, he signed the October 1, 2006 letter to Robin Cleveland of the World Bank, requesting the transfer of the secondment of Shaha Riza from the US Department of State to the Foundation for the Future. This transaction led to Paul Wolfowitz's resignation as president of the organization. He was one of the signatories of A Common Word Between Us and You in 2007, an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders, calling for peace and understanding.

Political future

In November 2006, Anwar announced he planned to run for Parliament in 2008, after his disqualification expired. Anwar has been critical of government policies since his release from prison, most notably of the controversial New Economic Policy (NEP), which provides affirmative action for the Malays. The policy sets a number of quotas, such as for units of housing and initial public offerings, that must be met.

He is also the Advisor of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the party of which his wife Dr. Wan Azizah is president. He was in the forefront in organising a November 2007 mass rally, called the 2007 Bersih Rally, which took place in the Dataran Merdeka Kuala Lumpur to demand clean and fair elections. The gathering was organised by BERSIH, a coalition comprising political parties and civil society groups, and drew supporters from all over the country.

The 2008 election date, however, was set for 8 March 2008, sparking criticisms that Barisan Nasional called for early elections in a bid to deny Anwar's plans for a return to Parliament. In response, Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, declared that she would step down should she retain her Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat to force a by-election in which Anwar himself would contest.

When asked about the possibility of Anwar becoming the next Prime Minister, former leader Tun Dr. Mahathir reacted by saying rather sarcastically, "He would make a good Prime Minister of Israel".

On April 14, 2008, Anwar celebrated his official return to the political stage, as his ban from public office expired a decade after he was fired as Deputy Prime Minister. One of the main reasons the opposition seized a third of parliamentary seats and five states in the worst ever showing for the Barisan Nasional coalition that has ruled for half a century, was due to him leading at the helm. A gathering of more than 1,000 supporters greeted Anwar in a rally welcoming his return to politics. Police interrupted Anwar after he had addressed the rally for nearly two hours and called for him to stop the gathering since there was no legal permission for the rally.

On April 29, 2008, after 10 years of absence, he returned to the Parliament, albeit upon invitation as a spouse guest of Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, People's Justice Party and the first female opposition leader in Malaysian Parliament's history. Anwar Ibrahim stated he is confident that he can win over enough government legislators in a parliamentary vote in September to end over 50 years of rule by one party. His party pledged to stage a confidence vote on September 16 against Abdullah Badawi and needed the support of just 30 government legislators in the 222-seat lower house of parliament, but missed Anwar's own deadline. Prior to this they had hoped to sway ruling party lawmakers from the states of Sabah and Sarawak to oust the UMNO party from power for the first time since Malaysia won independence in 1957.

On July 27, 2008, Anwar Ibrahim said that he aimed to return to Parliament if a court ordered a by-election near his home town of Permatang Pauh in Penang. He said on July 31 that he would contest a by-election for the parliamentary seat of Permatang Pauh, which was being vacated by his wife in order to expedite his return to political office. His wife Wan Azizah said she handed her letter of resignation to the parliament speaker on 31 July. Party officials said that the by-election had to be held within 60 days.

Permatang Pauh Election Campaign

Anwar Ibrahim making his campaign rounds in the constituency of Permatang Pauh with his wife Wan Azizah.

The Election Commission (EC) has fixed the nomination day for the Permatang Pauh by-election on August 16, with polling to be held ten days later on August 26. Some 58,459 voters in the Permatang Pauh constituency would be eligible to vote on August 26, a working Tuesday, adding that the figure also include 490 postal voters. Umno Seberang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah is the Barisan Nasional leadership’s choice to face Anwar Ibrahim by-election.

Anwar said: "Barisan Nasional is clearly overwhelmed. It's no longer a by-election. It's more than that". Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak admitted the ruling party was the underdog: "It is going to be an uphill task but nothing is impossible in politics."

Landslide victory
Anwar Ibrahim was victorious in the Permatang Pauh by-election held on August 26, 2008. Muhammad Muhammad Taib, information chief of the UMNO, stated: "Yes of course we have lost . . . we were the underdogs going into this race." Anwar won by a large majority against Arif Shah Omar Shah of the National Front coalition, according to Election Commission officials. Reuters reported "Anwar Ibrahim has won with a majority of 16,210 votes"; according to news website Malaysiakini (, Anwar won 26,646 votes, while the government's Arif Omar won 10,436 votes. People's Justice Party spokewoman Ginie Lim told BBC: "We won already. We are far ahead."
Final results announced by the Election Commission revealed that Anwar Ibrahim won 31,195 of the estimated 47,000 votes cast in the district, while Arif Shah Omar Shah received 15,524 votes and a third candidate had 92 votes. According to his party and information chief Tian Chua, Anwar Ibrahim will be sworn in as a member of parliament on August 28 Thursday after a landslide by-election victory that ended his decade-long political exile.

On August 28, 2008, Anwar, dressed in a dark blue traditional Malay outfit and black "songkok" hat, took the oath at the main chamber of Parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, as MP for Permatang Pauh at 10.03 a.m. before Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia. He formally declared Anwar the leader of the 3-party opposition alliance. With his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar, also a parliamentarian, Anwar announced: "I'm glad to be back after a decade. The prime minister has lost the mandate of the country and the nation."