Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ku Li: Even Malays leaving Tanah Melayu.

Umno veteran and Gua Musang MP, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah laments the state of affairs in the country. - Picture by Choo Choy May

By Neville Spykerman | malaysianinsider   (dlm B. Melayu)

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is concerned that even Malays are getting disillusioned with the state of the nation and leaving the country.

“Something must be wrong in this so-called Malay Land (Tanah Melayu) when they (Malays) are leaving.” said the Kelantan prince during an interview with The Malaysian Insider.

The Umno veteran and Gua Musang MP said people, especially the young, are feeling uneasy over developments in the country and didn’t mince his words when he pointed out that there are signs of decline everywhere.

“There are many Malays in London who are professionals, making good money, who will not return because the environment is not right in Malaysia.”

He added that the negative publicity generated by the caning of three Muslim women and controversy surrounding the use of the word “Allah” is not helping the country.

While the caning may have been in accordance to Syariah laws, Razaleigh said it still negatively impacts the country when it makes headlines around the world for the wrong reasons.

“Investors and tourists are wondering what’s happening in Malaysia, at a time when we need investments, capital and jobs for our young who are also increasingly finding it difficult...”

He said even the non-Muslims are being hauled up for holding hands and cited a case where Islamic authorities barged into a room where a foreign couple was staying.

Razaleigh also decried that race relations are getting increasingly strained because of divisive policies.

He said the government can stage as many open houses as they like but there’s no warmth.

“Of course people will come if there’s free food but it’s not genuine.”
He pointed out that despite the recent assurances on the crime rate coming down, people are still insecure about their safety.

“Even my wife is afraid to go out. Why should we be afraid in our own country?

”He lamented the corruption in the country and how Air Force jet engines that weigh a ton can go “missing” or how the nation’s first submarine, which cost billions, could not initially dive.

“Now that it can dive, we’re not sure if it can come up again.” he said, adding that it may sound comical but it is alarming.

On the streets, he said, corruption have allowed drugs to flow in.

“Malaysia is only a small market compared to New York, but because people are corrupt they allow drugs to flow in.” he said, adding that young minds and lives are lost because of it.

“These are signs of decline which were never here before,” he concluded.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ex-PKR man Zahrain with BN govt’s delegation to Washington?

Ex-PKR man Zahrain defends govt’s Washington talk

By Debra Chong | KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 2010. - malaysianinsider 

Newly-independent MP Datuk Zahrain Hashim (picture) today backed the federal government which has come under attack over a recent seminar organised by a lobby group in Washington DC two days ago.

The federal lawmaker for Bayan Baru, who quit PKR earlier this month, was part of a Malaysian government delegation present in the US capital for a “Governance and Rule of Law” seminar organised by an American lobby group, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) with the support of Malaysian Ambassador Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis.

“The main aim of the delegation was to inform them about the shift in foreign policy of the Malaysian government towards the USA and I think YB Nazri and the ambassador JJ did a good job contrary to what was said in Malaysia Today,” Zahrain said, referring to an account of the seminar posted fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin’s Malaysia Today website.

“I bear witness. The main agenda was the trade issue,” the former PKR Penang chief told The Malaysian Insidertoday in a text message.

“Questions on Anwar trial, Allah issue and caning of three Muslim women were raised but the minister handled it well by emphasising on the rule of law, which I think was accepted by most of the audience,” added Zahrain, who said he was still in Washington DC.

A panel of three were billed to speak but only Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz showed up. Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad failed to make the event.

The DAP’s Lim Kit Siang yesterday slammed the closed-door seminar as a waste of public funds to influence public opinion in the US over issues like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy prosecution.

Lim also claimed that the crowd at the seminar was dismal, saying “one account put it as about 40 people”.

“Has the Malaysian government achieved its purpose in the CSIS seminar, in convincing Washington opinion about the justice, propriety and justification for the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy II prosecution and persecution?” the DAP parliamentary opposition leader quizzed.

“From all accounts, the answer must be an unequivocal ‘No’. The ‘strangest’ cloak-and-dagger CSIS seminar in Washington is not a coup for the new Malaysian ambassador to Washington, Jamaluddin Jarjis but a major blot on his record book,” Lim added.

“I agree with the former United States Ambassador to Malaysia, John R Mallot, who had described the seminar as the ‘strangest’ he had attended in Washington DC.
“The last-minute conversion of the CSIS seminar into an ‘off-the-record’ session gave it a cloak-and-dagger character that what Nazri said in his speech and Q & A cannot stand public and international scrutiny. Mallot said that it was ‘unusual’ for the session to be off-the-record, which is ‘very rare for a Washington think-tank’,” said the Ipoh-Timur MP.

CSIS had earlier sent out invitations to the media and said the seminar would be on-the-record and open for coverage but changed its stand at the last minute.

Nazri’s speech and the subsequent question-and-answer session were also cut short.

Among other federal lawmakers who had attended the talk were Wee Choo Keong (PKR-Wangsa Maju) and Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (Umno-Pasir Salak) but they did not reply when contacted by The Malaysian Insider.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nazri's talk was so boring even JJ read the newspaper .

Thursday, 25 February 2010  - Nazri then started his formal speech and spoke for 30 minutes. It was a very academic and therefore a very boring speech. There was no real substance to it and the audience quickly grew bored. Even JJ got so bored as he sat next to Nazri on the podium.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER  |  By Raja Petra Kamarudin in Washington

It was a strange scene at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on Wednesday morning. When the seminar on Governance & Rule of Law in Malaysia began, only one of the speakers came into the room, Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Attorney-General Gani Patail and former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamed were somehow nowhere to be seen.

And in good Malaysian fashion, the seminar started 10 minutes late.

The seminar's chairman, Ernest Bower, looked tired and nervous, saying that he had received a number of e-mails expressing concern that the seminar would not be balanced. He said that he wants a dialogue on important issues. Therefore he also has invited the opposition to speak at CSIS. He hopes they will accept.

Ernest Bower then shocked the audience of about 40 people by saying that the session was 'off the record'. The flyer announcing the seminar never said it was an off the record session.

It doesn't matter though. The session was so boring there is very little to report anyway.

Malaysian Ambassador to the US, Jamaluddin Jarjis a.k.a. JJ, spoke for two minutes. He just said that he is working very hard to improve relations with the US (whenever he happens to be in town, that is). He made no mention, though, whether the new US$150,000 Porsche he just bought is paid for by the Malaysian taxpayers or by him personally.

Nazri said that it was just a coincidence that he, Gani and Abdul Hamid happen to be in Washington at the same time. (Sure. If you believe that then I have half a bridge to Singapore to sell you.) He said he didn't know where the two missing persons were.

He then introduced the "four members of my delegation," all MPs. (Talk about wasting the taxpayers’ money!) Two of them were PKR turncoats, including the infamous Zahrin Mohamed Hashim.

In a tribute to Malaysia Today, Nazri held up an Internet printout and referred to Martin Jalleh's article, Malaysian Circus goes to Washington. He claimed that he had been planning the trip to Washington for nine months because he and the PM believe it is important to strengthen ties with the US.

Nazri then started his formal speech and spoke for 30 minutes. It was a very academic and therefore a very boring speech. There was no real substance to it and the audience quickly grew bored. Even JJ got so bored as he sat next to Nazri on the podium.

But what shocked the audience was to watch JJ's antics at such an "important meeting" at such a "prestigious think tank."

The whole while Nazri was speaking, JJ was sending and receiving messages on his Blackberry and mobile phone. He never turned off the ringer. When he tapped out a message, one could hear the "click, click, click" of the keys. He even called his aide up to the podium twice to have conversations. He also got up and left the room and then came back.

And here is a first for Washington.

Then, as Nazri was still speaking, JJ picked up the Washington Post and started to read it -- not once, but twice.

Nazri went on and on, quoting Malaysia's many laws banning corruption. But of course he never said that they apply only to the opposition and not to UMNO politicians or taxi permit holders (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Finally, he stopped speaking and said he would welcome tough questions. He got one right from the start from Kumar, the head of Amnesty International's Washington DC office.

Kumar said Nazri and JJ had both just said that they want to improve relations with the United States. But that will never happen as long as people in Washington have concerns about Malaysia's harassment of the opposition and Anwar's trial.

Referring to the Malaysia Today article, Kumar said if there's a Malaysian circus, it's Anwar's trial.

Nazri replied, "Anwar is a friend of mine." (With friends like Nazri, who needs enemies?). Nazri said he underwent his legal training in the UK and claimed that if he ever sensed that the Prime Minister was interfering in the case and there is political interference in Malaysia's independent judiciary, he would tender his resignation.

He added, "When we heard about Saiful's charges against Anwar, I thought it was unfortunate. For the sake of the country, we don't want the nation to endure a trial like this again. But Saiful is entitled to justice. Why talk about rule of law if you ignore his report? He had a right to report to the police. In any event, Anwar's acquittal before shows that our judiciary is independent, and we did not appeal that decision. That shows we are interested only in justice, not political persecution."

Nazri went on. "We do not have an agenda against Anwar. Why would we want to use the same old charge of sodomy, again? If you don't believe me, there is nothing I can do."

JJ clapped.

JJ was the only one who clapped.

Murray Hiebert then stood up to introduce himself as the former Asian Wall Street Journal correspondent in Malaysia (but politely declined to mention his experience with ‘good governance’ and ‘the rule of law’ in Malaysia when he was the guest of a Malaysian prison).

Murray asked about the Allah issue. Nazri turned to the Malaysiakini reporter in the room and told him, “Don't you dare report what I am going to say.”

Nazri looked alive and gave a 20-minute history and language lesson, repeating the usual government line. As Nazri finished his long-winded answer, JJ leaned over to whisper to Ernest Bower, who suddenly jumped up and brought the seminar to a halt. It was still only 11:30am and the seminar was supposed to go until noon.

JJ probably thought an early halt would be wise before they put their foot deeper into the mouth. Or maybe he was really getting bored and just couldn't take it anymore. Or maybe he was hungry.

So JJ led Nazri out of the room and the audience followed.

So much for the so-called ‘dialogue’.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dato' Pa mudah lupa

Isu royalti K'tan: Tok Pa bela Ku Li

Feb 21, 10 7:23pm 

Pengedaran surat layang yang memburuk-burukkan ahli parlimen Gua Musang Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah kerana menggunakan platform pembangkang untuk menyuarakan pandangan berhubung isu royalti minyak, tidak sepatutnya berlaku, kata pengerusi perhubungan Umno Kelantan, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed

"Saya tidak bersetuju kerana memang terdapat perbezaan pendapat antara pemimpin tetapi ia boleh dibincang dan diperdebatkan melalui fakta sebenar," katanya.

Mustapa yang juga menteri perdagangan antarabangsa dan industri berkata demikian selepas majlis penyerahan cek RM800,000 kepada Timbalan Yang Dipertua Majlis Agama Islam dan Adat Istiadat Melayu Negeri Kelantan (MAIK), Datuk Kamaruddin Mat Zin.

Jumlah tersebut adalah untuk tujuan membayar elaun imam dan kakitangan masjid di Kelantan.

Tengku Razaleigh telah menyatakan pendiriannya mengenai royalti petroleum melalui platform pembangkang pada 28 Januari lalu di Stadium Sultan Mohamed IV, Kota Baharu, Kelantan.

Veteran Umno Kelantan yang juga bekas Pengerusi Petronas, dilaporkan berkata rakyat Kelantan berhak untuk mendapat royalti minyak.

Kenyataannya menimbulkan kekeliruan kerana Tengku Razaleigh adalah individu yang bertanggungjawab menandatangani perjanjian antara Petronas dan kerajaan negeri pada 1975 di bawah Akta 144 (Akta Kemajuan Petroleum 1974).

Kenyataan Tengku Razaleigh itu dilihat bertentangan dengan prinsip kerajaan dan parti.

Kerajaan pusat sebelum ini bersetuju membayar wang ihsan RM20 juta untuk dinikmati rakyat Kelantan mulai bulan depan.

Bayaran itu merupakan lima peratus daripada hasil pengeluaran gas di Medan Bumi Selatan, Blok PM301, yang berdekatan dengan perairan negeri itu, sejak Mei 2008.

Tahun lalu, kerajaan PAS Kelantan menuntut bayaran royalti RM2 bilion dari kerajaan pusat bagi operasi cari gali minyak di perairannya.

Bagaimanapun, menurut kerajaan pusat, Kelantan tidak layak untuk mendapat royalti kerana dua telaga minyak yang dipertikaikan itu terletak di kawasan 150 batu nautika dari perairan negeri itu.

Sementara itu, Bernama juga melaporkan bahawa Mustapa sedih apabila dianggap mengkhianati rakyat Kelantan kerana tidak memihak kepada kerajaan negeri yang diteraju PAS dalam menuntut royalti minyak.

Beliau diminta mengulas mengenai ceramah-ceramah yang diadakan penyokong PAS yang antara lain menyifatkan beliau sebagai pengkhianat dan menderhaka kepada rakyat Kelantan berhubung isu royalti minyak tersebut.

Mustapa menegaskan kerajaan persekutuan juga tidak pernah menganak tirikan Kelantan dalam agihan peruntukan pembangunan sepanjang negeri itu ditadbir PAS sejak 20 tahun lepas.

Katanya, beliau telah melakukan yang terdaya mengikut keupayaannya sebagai anggota kerajaan persekutuan sejak 1996 dalam memperjuangkan nasib rakyat Kelantan meskipun mereka ditadbir oleh parti PAS.

"Sebagai anak jati Kelantan, saya sanggup meluluskan peruntukan berpuluh juta ringgit bagi membiayai projek-projek pembangunan untuk kepentingan kerajaan negeri," katanya kepada pemberita selepas majlis perhimpunan bulanan warga jabatan-jabatan persekutuan.

Beliau memberi contoh antara projek pembangunan yang pernah diluluskannya ialah pembangunan Medan Tuan Padang bernilai RM1 juta, Pasar Siti Khadijah (RM3.3juta) dan Medan Usahawan Perbadanan Stadium Kelantan bernilai RM5 juta.

"Saya amat sedih dan dukacita jika dalam begini saya masih dikatakan sebagai rakyat yang derhaka dan mengkhianati rakyat Kelantan kerana semata-mata tidak menyokong kerajaan negeri dalam tuntutan royalti minyak yang diperjuangkan kerajaan negeri ini," kata Mustapa yang juga ahli parlimen Jeli.

Mengenai isu royalti itu, Mustapa berkata beliau telah membantu rakyat Kelantan mendapat wang ihsan yang bakal diagih pada Mac ini.

"Soal tuntutan kerajaan negeri untuk mendapatkan wang royalti itu tidak berbangkit lagi, yang pastinya rakyat akan mendapat faedah melalui wang ihsan, cuma kaedahnya berbeza," katanya.

Malah katanya peruntukan yang diberi kepada kerajaan negeri Kelantan adalah berkali ganda lebih banyak berbanding kutipan hasil yang diserah kepada kerajaan pusat. 

November 21, 2007 | Pengakuan Dato Mustapha Mohamed: Sekatan Terhadap Kelantan

The devil is in the details:

Dissecting Karzai's plan to fix Afghanistan

By Norine MacDonald

What really happened at the London Conference on Afghanistan? Sadly, not much. There was a real sense of déjà vu -- much the same has been said in Bonn, Tokyo, Kabul, Berlin, London, Rome, Paris, and the Hague -- and these conferences all seem divorced from the real facts on the ground. 

These events are, of necessity, political pep rallies for Western domestic audiences who are anxious to see their governments "doing something" about Afghanistan and addressing their concerns about the Karzai "government." 

During the conference, President Karzai unveiled a six-point "Action Plan" designed to turn around the situation in Afghanistan. But how much "action" is really behind the political façade of his six-point plan? 

1. Peace and Reconciliation
President Karzai announced the Taliban Reintegration Plan, with the stated aim to "offer an honorable place in society" to those insurgents willing to renounce al-Qaeda, abandon violence and pursue their political goals peacefully and in accordance with the Afghan Constitution. 

This plan seems hastily pulled together to attempt to give the London Conference a focal point. There was mechanical support for the initiative and very little genuine political enthusiasm from Western leaders: just $140 million has been pledged for the first year. 

This is surely a case of "the devil is in the details." There have been mentions of paying Taliban a flat fee to switch sides (later denied by Interior Minister Mohammed Atmar), or offering socio-economic opportunities such as jobs or training. There is no clarity and so far only confusion. 

What jobs are these reformist Taliban to be offered? Unemployment levels in Afghanistan run at around 40 percent. Since neither the Afghan government nor the international community have yet been capable of providing enough jobs for law-abiding young men in Afghanistan, how can a Reintegration Fund suddenly create sustainable employment for tens of thousands of former insurgents? Or would they be welcomed where there are job opportunities: in the Afghan National Police or Afghan National Army? Surely, this would be a formula for infiltration of the ANA and ANP by the Taliban, especially given the existing problems with vetting recruits. 

As for paying the Taliban to switch, the figures provided so far are not significant: $140 million for the first year will not achieve much. Current U.S. military intelligence estimates indicate that there are around 30,000 Taliban fighters across Afghanistan. Even if the Reintegration Fund was only able to reach half of these insurgents, there would be at most $1,000 paid to each Taliban member who switched. Once administrative costs, are factored in, this figure will drop even further. What is to stop a Taliban fighter from taking the money and then "relapsing," and returning to violence? 

2. Security
Another expected, but still largely aspirational, goal was President Karzai's insistence that Afghan security forces would "lead security of our country within the next five years all over Afghanistan." Unaddressed were the significant desertion and drug addiction rates in the security forces, which are still alarmingly high. In late 2009, it was estimated that 10,000 out of the 94,000 Afghan soldiers who had been trained so far -- 10.6 percent -- had simply disappeared. Fifteen percent of the Afghan army, and up to 60 percent of the Afghan police in Helmand province, are estimated to be drug addicts. 

3. Good Governance
Expanding the reach of the central government while reforming its institutions to be accountable and effective is another worthy aim set out in Karzai's speech. However, there is no indication how this will come about. Significant portions of the country have a limited or non-existent government presence, and some areas are completely controlled and governed by the Taliban. The government's reputation for bribery and inefficiency has led many Afghans, and members of the international community, to simply bypass it. 

In Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, the Shinwari tribe has agreed to fight against the Taliban but will be paid $1 million, directly from the U.S. government. The aid will avoid the local government, with whom the Shinwari are also furious for their corruption and inability to provide basic services. One of the tribe's elders declared that: "We have absolutely no faith in the Afghan government to do anything for us. We don't trust them at all." 

Karzai also stated in his speech that the parliamentary elections now scheduled for September will be "free and fair," calling for the international community's assistance to be "impartial, technical and constructive," a back-handed complaint against the role of Western allies in responding to the fraud in last August's presidential election. Given that the Karzai-appointed head of the Independent Election Commission remains in charge of the election process, we should mark the notion that the parliamentary elections would be of a different sort as aspirational, at best. 

Inside Kabul itself we see the dysfunction of the political process. Karzai has not been able to complete his government, as the Parliament has failed to confirm his proposed Cabinet members. Yet the Speaker of the Parliament, Mohammed Qanooni (a member of an opposition political party and a Tajik) was not invited to the London Conference, despite the need for the Karzai Government and the international community to build a functioning political relationship with the Afghan Parliament and opposition party members. 

4. Corruption
Tackling graft will be the "key focus of my second term in office," according to  Karzai. Much has been made of his supposed commitment to fighting corruption, which the UNODC estimates at comprising 25 percent of Afghanistan's GDP. Karzai continues to talk of corruption as if it is being undertaken by someone other than his own government and his own appointees. 

Additionally, in an interview with the BBC's John Simpson just a few days before the London Conference, President Karzai insisted that the UNODC report on corruption level was "simply fabricated." 

In London, Karzai called for an "end to the culture of impunity" -- again as if this was being carried out by actors outside his government. Yet last July it was Karzai himself who pardoned five senior drug traffickers, one of whom was related to his election manager, and he has supported the mayor of Kabul despite his conviction on corruption charges. 

All of this makes his bold declarations on corruption and the rule of law sound incredibly hollow, and merely part of a stage production for the international community. 

5: Regional Co-operation
The need for a regional solution to Afghanistan's crisis is another lofty, aspiration. In reality, the interests and the capabilities of Afghanistan's neighbors are too divided to make this a meaningful solution. Iran's last-minute absence from the London conference underlines this point, as does the continuing hostility between Pakistan and India. And are we including Russia and China? What exactly does this " regional co-operation" point mean, how will these regional players be brought in? 

6: Economic Development
Pledges to build Afghanistan's private sector and improve the country's infrastructure have been heard again and again over the past eight years. However, Karzai's speech did not mention one of the most central economic issues to Afghanistan -- opium trafficking. 

The absence of a new approach to opium production underlines the fundamental problem with the London Conference. The event produced a lot of bold promises and fine words, but there is a concerning lack of detail on all of these points. The Karzai "government" continues to dismiss the problem of corruption as a Western invention; the "international community" insists on the need for reconciliation with the Taliban and then fails to provide the necessary funds. 

And what of the grinding poverty of the Afghan people themselves, the lack of food aid in the South, the growing camps of displaced families, and civilian casualties at their highest level ever last year? 

This type of "hold hands and hope for the best" conference has happened before, at all of the 10 international conferences on Afghanistan held over the past 9 years. In which capital will we meet next year to re-affirm, once again, our "commitment to Afghanistan"? 

Sultan of Kelantan . . . .

...may return before March 30

STAR | Saturday February 21, 2010 - PASIR MAS: The Sultan of Kelantan Sultan Ismail Petra Sultan Yahya Petra, who is undergoing treatment at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, is expected to return here before his official birthday on March 30.

Tengku Temenggong Tengku Muhammad Fahkry said his father was recuperating well after suffering a heart attack in May last year.

“My father will be receiving physiotherapy at his official residence in Istana Mahkota in Kota Baru but this will depend on whether the doctors in Singapore will allow my father to return home.

“My father is doing very well. If everything goes well he should be back here before his birthday celebration.

“I have been made to understand that this year’s birthday celebration will be conducted on a small scale,” he told reporters here yesterday.


... 2nd wife cites Sultanah for contempt of court 

KOTA BARU: The second wife of the Sultan of Kelantan Elia Suliana Ahmad has cited the Sultanah of Kelantan Tengku Anis Tengku Hamid and her two bodyguards for contempt of court for not complying with a Syariah High Court order allowing her rights to visit her ailing husband in Singapore.

Elia Suhana, 31, who was escorted by five bodyguards, was granted a two-day per week visiting right by the Syariah High Court judge Mohd Yusof Daud on Feb 4.

However, she was unsuccessful in her bid to visit her husband despite the court order and was prevented by Tengku Anis and her two bodyguards namely Mohamad Shahriman Zainal Abidin and Zaiton Hussein Marican who were also named as respondents in her affidavit.

Elia Suhana’s counsel Fakrul Azman Abu Hassan, when interviewed outside the chambers of Syariah High Court here, said the court had also ordered the police to assist Elia Suhana to serve the order on the three respondents.

The three respondents were also ordered to present themselves on March 7 to show cause why they refused to abide by the order and why action should not be taken against them.

“As it is, from now on, my client will visit the Sultan of Kelantan with police escort because she yearns to meet her husband whom she has not seen for the past six months,” he told reporters.

He added that his client was prevented by the three respondents from meeting her husband and had often waited in vain at the bottom floor of the Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore.

Fakrul Azman said the court order would be served to the respondents with the assistance of the police ore left at the respondents’ residence.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dr M and Ku Li at it again?

Contemporary Malaysian history is cyclical, not linear. We are fated to repeat ourselves: why have one Razak as Prime Minister, when you can have two? Or settle for just Lim Kit Siang instead of Lim Guan Eng as well?

On a more dispiriting note, if we can have Sodomy1, why not Sodomy2? And since Dr Mahathir toppled one Premier--Tunku Abdul Rahman, why not a second, Tun Abdullah Badawi?

Thankfully though, we've never actually repeated the race riots of May '69--proof perhaps that we Malaysians are more evolved than our leaders.
Still, we retain a healthy respect for age. Whatever we might really think about the increasingly irascible Dr Mahathir, we continue to defer to him in public.

For much of the past twenty years Dr Mahathir--having wiped out all the opponents from his generation--has dominated the political stage. Indeed, his toughest challengers have been much younger men--most notably, Anwar Ibrahim.

Now, however, we're presented with a curious development: Dr Mahathir has suddenly got company in the 'Grand Old Statesman' category once again.

Tengku Razaleigh, the Kelantan prince has found his voice. Sidelined for decades, Razaleigh has emerged as a potent voice for Middle Malaysia. With his princely pedigree and easy-going personality, he straddles the nation's contradictions comfortably, from Nik Aziz to Anandakrishnan, 'Joe' Pairin and any number of prominent Chinese tycoons.
At the same time his familiarity with the Malay elite--the various Royal houses, the military, the police, the Bumiputra businessmen and the civil service means that he is accepted by those who've always felt a little discomfited by Anwar's populism. Invigorated by his arguments on oil royalties, Razaleigh has staged an almighty comeback.

Indeed, it appears as if we're witnessing a replay of their mid-80's battle to dominate UMNO. However, back in 1987 when their rivalry brought the country to a near halt, the contest was factional. Frankly, there was little to differentiate them ideologically.

This time round the differences are stark. Indeed they represent contrasting views of both UMNO and Malaysia. In one respect, at least someone in the political firmament is moving forward!

So what has happened? Basically, Dr Mahathir has gravitated to his traditional conservative position. He now graces events organized by Perkasa, a 'Tea Party'-like pressure group seeking to force UMNO into greater ethnocentrism.

He has resurrected the Malay-ultra rhetoric of his angry youth, warning the community to unite lest the community lose power to Malaysia’s restive minorities.
There is no doubt that this has caused difficulties for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is currently trying to win back non-Malay support without antagonizing Dr Mahathir. The PM is walking a tightrope.

Razaleigh on the other hand, has called for greater pluralism and civil liberties. Indeed, in doing so he has noticeably broken ranks with UMNO’s leadership who have rejected such ideas altogether.

The Kelantanese prince’s independent-minded remarks reached a crescendo at a gathering in Kota Baru where he called for the Federal government to honour its obligations under the Petroleum Act.

Razaleigh has also decried the state of justice in Malaysia and the growing ethnic polarization. To him, Malaysia’s democracy was "existing in name, but grievously compromised in substance, reality and fact."

Malaysians are presented with a richly-ironic situation. Two of the most venerable political leaders are presenting a very young nation with entirely separate visions of the country’s future.
Interestingly both men appear to enjoy a degree of immunity, criticizing the government with impunity. No one will act against them. This suggests that they both command a high level of respect if not wariness from the authorities.
Moreover, they also represent a living connection with Malaysia’s first two premiers, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak. This invests them both with a mantle of authority--especially as UMNO is trying to find its 'groove'.

Nonetheless, the really important link is with the late Tun Razak. Both men were instrumental in implementing the New Economic Policy. As such, both are responsible to some degree for the fraught race-relations that we are now facing up to as a nation.
However, Tengku appears to be stepping back from the NEP--not unlike Anwar Ibrahim--concerned at the abuses and losses. Dr Mahathir, conversely, has clung to the policy steadfastly.

To be fair, Dr Mahathir’s current stance is also indicative of what appears to be his frustration at the possibility of seeing his legacy destroyed. He has been straight-forward in condemning UMNO's poor human capital.

The cyclical nature of our politics I mentioned earlier means we tend to be enamoured with dynastic politics. This often leads to more paradoxes.
On one hand, we have an aristocrat pushing for more openness in Malaysia. On the other, a scion of the middle-class opposes anything of the sort. But perhaps this is not so surprising.

Sadly, I'm not sure UMNO members recognize the ideological differences between Tengku Razaleigh and Dr Mahathir. Patronage politics--contracts and more contracts--remains the central issue and Tengku doesn't have the money to splash around.

In the end it's not about the men themselves, it's about UMNO and where the party chooses to go. Will the members veer to the right or will it assume a more moderate stance? At least we have two contrasting visions. 

KARIM RASLAN | MySinchew 2010.02.19

Supreme Leader: Iran has no belief in atom bombs.

Saturday February 20, 2010 | TEHRAN: Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said Iran has not the least belief in making nuclear bombs, Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

“We have said time and again that our religious beliefs and fundamentals consider nuclear weapons as a symbol of annihilation of generations, thus forbidding them.

“Accordingly we do not have the least belief in gaining nuclear arms,” said Ayatollah Khamenei in an address to ceremonies, marking the launch of ‘Jamaran’ destroyer into the southern Bandar-Abbas waters.

The Supreme Leader said the claims of the US President Barack Obama and several other US officials over recent days are all signs of their anger and mishap over Iranian nation.

“The threadbare and vain claims that nuclear arms are being made in Iran indicate that enemies of the nation have resorted to repetition even in the field of propaganda out of extreme helplessness.

“In response to such vain claims, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not fall into emotions because we have repeatedly said that our religious ideas and beliefs consider such weapons, which are the symbols of mankind degeneration, forbidden and “Haram” (religiously prohibited).”

He added: “Due to the same reason, we do not have the least belief in nuclear arms and bombs and do not go after them.”

The Supreme Leader made the remarks here on Friday after launching of ‘Jamaran’ destroyer into Bandar-Abbas waters in the Persian Gulf.

Ayatollah Khamenei said there will be times more valuable and magnificent works in the field of navy construction in Iran in the future.

The Supreme Leader noted: “Some causes might initially seem to be ambitious but under high endeavours, overshadowed by faith and trust, any seemingly impossible goal will be possible.

“By the same token, definitely future works in the field of navy construction will prove to be more giant and valuable.”

The Supreme Leader said Islam and Islamic Republic will not allow degradation of Iran and Iranians’ potentialities, dignity and fame worldwide.

The Supreme Leader recalled hundreds of years of navy industry background in Iran and said domination of the corrupt and despotic rulers over the country over the past centuries have made the country weak in the field.

Hailing high public turnout in the Bahman 22 (February 11) rallies, Ayatollah Khamenei said that on such an unforgettable day, tens of millions of people in chorus chanted their hatred of the arrogant powers, insisting on their Islamic faith and dignity.

“Such a beautiful and everlasting fact had made the hegemony powers, especially the US, bewildered, disappointed and angry.” -- Bernama

Friday, February 19, 2010

Six killed in heavy rain in Mecca

Feb 19, 2010  |  A RIYADH -  family of six died when the wall of a soccer stadium collapsed onto their home in heavy rain in Mecca, a diplomat said on Monday.

“The preliminary information we have is that a Bangladeshi couple and four of their children died,” a Bangladeshi diplomat told Reuters from the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. “We are trying to confirm their identities,” he added. 

The heavy rain over Mecca started on Saturday and submerged some districts in Islam’s holiest city, 

Saudi state media reported. The rain raised fears of a repeat of floods in Jeddah in November that killed almost 130 people. Mecca’s location at the heart of a mountainous desert valley makes it vulnerable to flash floods.

Amano Puts New, Hawkish Face on IAEA Rhetoric

New Reports Show Uncharacteristic Willingness to Speculate
by Jason Ditz, February 18, 2010   |  antiwar.com

Those agitating for war with Iran claimed a major victory today when a draft IAEA report on Iran contained unsubstantiated references to “possible” Iranian work on a “nuclear payload for a missile.”

Later in the day, another IAEA report was leaked which included another wiggle word speculation about the “possibility of nuclear-related activities” in Syria, again with a total absence of new data backing up these claims.

Both draft reports came straight from the desk of new IAEA chief Amano Yukiya, who replaced former chief Mohamed ElBaradei. Amano’s reports were careful to include enough mentions of “possibilities” and “questions” to avoid making any direct claims, which would be flat out lies given the paucity of evidence in both cases, the rhetoric was clearly designed to be sensational. Unsurprisingly, the media dutifully latched onto the messages, excised any mentions of “questions,” and reported the reports at proof of new threats.

Amano was widely supported by Western nations as a replacement for ElBaradei, and it is becoming increasingly apparent why. Though ElBaradei was far from perfect, he saw it as a sort of duty to avoid including any speculation which might be used as a pretext for war. Amano seems far less scrupulous about this, and seems content to speak his mind about what “possibilities” exist, absent any evidence, and regardless of the possible consequences.

At some point, the media will likely get used to the new, more alarmist statements coming out of the IAEA. In the meantime, media scare pieces about “unprecedented” IAEA comments, backed with materially nothing, will be the order of the day.

US Home Grown Terrorism : Austin plane crashed into IRS building.

 Class struggle brewing in America!

February 18, 2010 | Video from a traffic camera shows heavy smoke coming from the building. Investigators say the Cherokee-140 plane hit the building at 9:46 am central time, the pilot has been identified as Joseph Andrew Stack. Federal Officials say the IRS and CIA have offices in the complex, in a strange twist, Austin fire fighters were called to Stacks home which he allegedly set on fire.

Texas plane crash 'pilot' left a note

It is being reported that the pilot who crashed his plane into a Texas tax office left a note on his blog.

Law Enforcement Press Conference On Plane Crash Into I.R.S. Building

Pilot Who Flew Plane Into I.R.S. Building Getting Support & Understanding Online