Nov 30, 2006

Chaos at Kampung Berembang (Photos)

- source

(MalaysiaKini) This morning, MPAJ, armed with four bulldozers, came in to finish the job and again they faced stiff resistence from the villagers.

Some 60 villagers and activists had stood steadfast in their last stand against the demolition. They had also parked their vehicles in a cordon around the surau to stop the bulldozers.

Attempts by the pro-tem secretary-general of Parti Sosialis Malaysia S Arutchelvan to negotiate with enforcement agencies failed and a scuffle broke out when the MPAJ personnel started uprooting trees just outside the surau.

But the situation got out of hand when the MPAJ enforcement team started cutting the fence of the surau at 11am.

They then towed away the vehicles cordoning the surau using MPAJ tow-trucks to an unknown destination.

Battle field

Villagers who tried to block the demolition were violently shoved and pushed aside by the MPAJ enforcement officers, who numbered more than 100.

Things took an ugly turn when the police and the FRU joined the fray to beat the villagers and their supporters who had gathered there.

Women and children, who were holed up inside the surau, were also not spared.

The enforcement officers were aggressive against both the women and children. One woman who had locked herself with a steel chain to the surau was forcibly removed.

The officers were seen pulling the hair of some of the women and slapping the children who refused to leave the surau.

** Get more photos from Malaysia Kini - Kampung Berembang Demolition Album

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Umno Youth Accepts Mukhriz's Explanation, Apology - Hishammuddin

The famous word for 2006 - APOLOGY

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 (Bernama) -- The Umno Youth has accepted the apology by Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir after the movement was satisfied with his explanation over his remark on the presidential address by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when opening the 57th Umno General Assembly on Nov 15.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the unanimous decision was made by the Umno Youth executive council on the spirit of "togetherness" and hoped it would serve as a lesson.

"The explanation was given and apology sought over what has happened. We realise that a wrong is a wrong.

"(Nevertheless) our youth exco has accepted the explanation. We accept what Datuk Mukhriz had said with an open heart and this to a certain extent is a wisdom in ensuring our movement continues to be strong," he told reporters after chairing the movement's executive council meeting Thursday.

Hishammuddin said it was decided at the meeting that Mukhriz meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Umno president, to explain the issue.

"However, the date of the meeting has not been decided as it depends when the prime minister is free to meet him," he said, adding that the issue was discussed in a mature and calm atmosphere.

Mukhriz, who is also the son of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had said Abdullah's presidential speech offered nothing new than the previous one.

Asked for the gist of Mukhriz's explanation, Hishammuddin declined to divulge the contents, saying "what is important is that his explanation has been accepted by the Umno Youth exco."

Nevertheless, he said, Mukhriz was issued a stern warning not to repeat it.

"To me, this is a stern warning to Datuk Mukhriz and to our other friends to never repeat such things again because we've made big plans for our movement," said Hishammuddin, who is also Education Minister.

He denied assumptions that Mukhriz, who is also the movement's international relations and non-governmental organisations bureau chief, apologised following pressure from Umno Youth members.

"This is our firm stand, all of us who had the opportunity today stated our stand and none of us including Datuk Mukhriz himself who felt what was said on that day was not wrong, not right in principle, spirit of comradeship and in terms of what we've built in Umno Youth all this while," he said.

Asked whether the apology was made in written, Hishammuddin said: "No need in writing, we consider Datuk Mukhriz's explanation as an honest confession."

"With the explanation and apology, the movement considers the issue close," he said.

Meanwhile, Mukhriz, when met by reporters later, said he concurred with what was said by Hishammuddin.

Asked what was he going to explain in his meeting with Abdullah, he said: "Let that be between me and the prime minister."

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Anwar Says He Plans to Run for Parliament in 2008

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Anwar Ibrahim, who was fired as Malaysia's finance minister and arrested in 1998, said he will run for parliament after he returns to the country next month.

The 59-year-old Anwar said he plans to push for greater democracy, more press freedom and an easing of affirmative action laws that he argues have enriched "cronies" of the government. The next national elections are scheduled for 2008.

"I'm committed to the reform agenda," Anwar, who also served as deputy prime minister, said in an interview yesterday in Washington, where he is a visiting professor at Georgetown University.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Malaysia's economy is trailing those of its neighbors, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore, Anwar said, advocating a "new economic agenda." Corruption and preferential treatment for ethnic Malays are making the country uncompetitive, he added.

"On that agenda would be a specific way in which you would deal with the rise of China in India, even countries like Vietnam grabbing market share," he said in a separate interview with Bloomberg Television.

Anwar was his country's second-most powerful politician when he was dismissed by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and imprisoned for almost six years on corruption and sodomy charges. Anwar says the accusations were part of a conspiracy by Mahathir -- who had previously named Anwar as his successor -- to destroy his political career.

Malaysia's Federal Court, the highest court of appeal, quashed the sodomy conviction in 2004, although it upheld the corruption charge, which means Anwar cannot run for public office until 2008.

Attacking Cronies

Anwar reiterated his argument that Malaysia should stop discriminating in favor of its ethnic Malay majority, which he described as a "policy to enrich the few cronies and family members of the cabinet and the leaders of the ruling party."

Anwar's rise to power within that ruling party began more than two decades ago when he was elected to parliament from the state of Penang in the country's northeast. His influence grew when he became finance minister in 1991 and deputy leader of the United Malays National Organization, which has governed the country since independence from Great Britain in 1957.

Mahathir left Anwar in charge of the cabinet and party for two months in 1997 in what most legislators said was preparation for becoming leader when Mahathir retired. Relations between the two men began deteriorating, though, as the Asian financial crisis deepened in 1998 and Malaysia sank into recession.

Capital Controls

As well as firing Anwar, Mahathir fixed the exchange rate of the ringgit, the country's currency, and imposed capital controls. The restrictions on the flow of capital were later eased and Abdullah, whom Mahathir nominated to succeed him in 2003, allowed the ringgit to trade more freely last year.

Asked if he aspires to lead the country, he said: "The decision of who is going to be prime minister is going to be the decision of the party," referring to the People's Justice Party, currently headed by his wife.

Ethnic Malays, or Bumiputras, which literally means "sons of the soil," get easier access to housing, education and government jobs under the 35-year-old New Economic Policy, aimed at protecting their interests relative to the country's Chinese and Indian minorities.

Increasing Wealth

Affirmative action has increased wealth among Bumiputras, who account for 65 percent of the population, and eased tensions between them and the 25 percent of Malaysians who are ethnic Chinese and comprise the wealthiest segment of the population. Critics say the system discriminates against minorities and even hampers progress by creating a sense of entitlement that stifles initiative among ethnic Malays.

Malaysia's race quotas run the gamut of society, from governing university entrance to business ownership, and include a requirement that developers sell at least 30 percent of new units in their projects to ethnic Malays at a discount to the market price. Companies planning initial public offerings must sell 30 percent of stock to the grouping.

The program, introduced in 1971, has helped defuse tension between ethnic Chinese and ethnic Malays, who clashed in pitched street battles two years earlier. Race riots in Singapore in 1964 killed 36 people and contributed to the island's ouster from the Federation of Malaysia the following year. In neighboring Indonesia, anti-Chinese riots occurred as recently as the 1990s.

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80% of taxpayers for Malaysia were Chinese?

Kit Siang’s taxpayer figure causes uproar

(The Star) OPPOSITION Leader Lim Kit Siang (DAP – Ipoh Timur) struck a raw nerve among backbenchers in the Dewan when he claimed that 80% of taxpayers in the country were Chinese.

Datuk Mohd Alwi Che Ahmad (BN – Ketereh) lashed out at Lim and called him a liar.

Mohd Alwi stood up just before the debate session started and called for Lim to be referred to the Parliamentary Rights and Privileges Committee for misleading the House on Tuesday.

He said Lim had malicious and seditious intentions when making the statement.

“I’ve checked with the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) and they said they have never calculated the contributions of income tax by race,” Mohd Alwi said.

Lim then stood up and defended himself: “If you said that I was lying, that means Tun (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) is a liar. I obtained the figures from Tun in one of his speeches.”

Amidst shouts from MPs from both sides, Deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng rejected the motion, saying that the Standing Order required an MP to raise the issue when misleading statements were uttered and not a day after.

When met at the lobby later, Mohd Alwi said he had called up IRB to check and there was no such figure.

“Saying that 80% of the income tax come from the Chinese community will give the Malays the impression that the Chinese are monopolising the wealth in the country,” he said.

Lim said he took the figures from a speech Tun Dr Mahathir made earlier this year.

“If the 80% figure is wrong, then what is the actual figure?” he asked.

“(Mohd Alwi) should check with the Government for the real figure.”

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Nov 29, 2006

Malaysia bites back and industriously trades the insults

Michael Backman, The Age November 29, 2006

MY LAST column on wasteful government spending in Malaysia (Business, 15/11) generated a furore. I received more than 600 emails from readers, mostly Malaysians (both expatriate and in Malaysia) and nearly all supportive.

The column was the most emailed item on The Age's website for six days straight and it was replicated in dozens of blogs worldwide.

My personal website received more than 50,000 hits. A Malaysian Government minister criticised the column publicly. And the Malaysian Opposition Leader issued a news release in its support.

The minister, Rafidah Aziz, Malaysia's Minister for Trade and Industry, declared somewhat imperiously that she didn't care what I said because I am a foreigner and I probably don't know much about Malaysia anyway.

Rafidah knows her trade brief like few others. Her knowledge of the complex rules of the international trading system, with its many trade barriers, is remarkable. In meetings with other trade ministers, she rarely needs assistance from minders. Hard working and tenacious, I once thought she might make a reasonable prime minister.

But her technical abilities are marred by her mishandling of other issues, most recently her ministry's allocation of much coveted car import permits. Most went to a handful of well-connected businessmen, including her own relatives.

The issue exploded in Malaysia late last year and she was lucky to keep her job.

And then there are the corruption allegations. In 1995, in a report to the attorney-general, the public prosecutor said there was a prima facie basis for Rafidah's arrest and prosecution on five counts of corruption.

An opposition activist later acquired official documents that appeared to confirm this. He was jailed for two years under the Official Secrets Act simply for possessing them. Rafidah, on the other hand, was not even charged.

Rafidah added to her remarks about my column that no Malaysian should say such things. It's little wonder that she doesn't welcome scrutiny from her own people. But then the idea that Malaysians cannot comment publicly about how their country is run but a non-Malaysian can, is disgraceful.

Perhaps Rafidah needs to be reminded who pays her salary.

And as if to underscore my points about waste, on the day that my column was published, an assistant minister told the Malaysian Parliament that Malaysia's first astronaut to be sent into space next year aboard a Russian space mission will be tasked to play batu seremban, a traditional Malay children's game played with pebbles, will do some batik painting and will make teh tarik, a type of Malaysian milky tea, all to see how these things can be done without gravity.

The day before, the Government announced that a new RM400 million ($A142 million) palace will be built for Malaysia's king, a position that is almost entirely ceremonial.

And the week before a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a second bridge between Penang and the Malaysian peninsular costing RM3 billion, a bridge that many consider unnecessary.

Where would the money be better spent?

Education is the obvious answer. But not on school buildings, for it matters less in what children are educated than how. And how children are educated in Malaysia is a national disaster.

Learning is largely by rote. In an email to me last week, one Malaysian recalled her schooling as being in a system “all about spoon-feeding, memory work and regurgitation. Students are not encouraged to think for themselves and they become adults who swallow everything they're told.”

Even the existing system fails many. It has just emerged that in Sabah state, only 46 per cent of the students who had sat the UPSR — the exam that students sit before going to secondary school — had passed. One small school actually had a 100 per cent failure rate.

But does the Malaysian Government want creative, critical thinkers? Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said to the ruling party's recent general assembly Malaysia needed to make students creative. But that means they must be questioning and thus critical; what hope is there of that when one of Abdullah's own ministers tells Malaysians that they cannot say the things that I can and hundreds of them write to me to complain because they don't feel that they can complain to their own Government?

Malaysia needs to do something. Its oil will run out soon and it has lost much of its appeal to foreign investors — recent UN figures show that from 2004 to 2005, foreign investment in Malaysia fell by 14 per cent, when the world economy was enjoying one of its longest periods of growth. One might wonder what the Trade and Industry Minister has actually been doing.

But, while politicians from the ruling party preach about Malay nationalism, there are at least some who quietly go about the business of trying to secure the country's future. Not all of them are Chinese.

Two weeks ago, Malaysia's MMC Corporation, together with a local partner, won a $US30 billion infrastructure deal in Saudi Arabia. That's a huge undertaking for any company, let alone a Malaysian one, and just as well too — someone has to pay the bills.

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'Death for apostates'

(The Sun) KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 30, 2006): The punishment for apostates should be death. And apostasy is also a crime under the Federal Constitution.

These were the opinions of two International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturers at yesterday's "Convention on Freedom of Religion and the Issue of Apostasy: Towards Practical Solutions" organised by the IIUM Law Faculty's Islamic Law Department and the Syariah Judiciary Department of Malaysia.

Law lecturer Dr Zulkifly Muda said that according to a hadith or one of the Prophet Muhammad's sayings, the punishment for apostates was death.

However, this law on apostates could not be enforced in Malaysia because the country had yet to adopt a comprehensive Islamic administration system.

"If there is no Islamic system, even though there is Islamic law (as practised by the syariah courts), in the case of a Muslim who commits apostasy, half of the blame goes to other parties including the parents, the government, the police as well as the universities," he said in his talk titled "The Crime of Apostasy: Implications and Solutions from the Perspective of Islamic Law".

"So, the death penalty cannot be carried out here because there is negligence on the part of others which caused a person to apostacise."

Zulkifly also said the Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial, can be used against apostates because apostasy could be deemed a threat to public order and security.

He said this was in line with the prime minister's concept of Islam Hadhari.

"However, some things need to be straightened out in dealing with ISA detainees so that it is more suitable to Islam, for example, how detainees are treated while in detention," he said.

The Education Ministry's SPM syllabus for Pendidikan Islam (Islamic Studies) also teaches students that apostates should be killed.

However, internationally-recognised Islamic jurists have stated that the Quran does not at all stipulate death for apostasy, and argue that the hadith which is often used to justify death was borne out of a time when political saboteurs used apostasy to undermine the nascent Muslim community.

Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, who spoke on "Freedom of Religion from the Perspective of the Federal Constitution", said a careful reading of the Constitution showed that committing apostasy was a crime.

"In the Constitution, there is nothing to say Muslims can become murtad (apostates). That is why it is important for each and everyone of us to understand the Constitution and for non-Muslims, too, to understand Islamic law," he said.

He said the issue was not a non-Muslim problem.

"It is the problem of the Muslim community. The Muslims have the right to decide on this issue."

Mufti: Many ways to become murtad

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 30, 2006): There are many ways a Muslim can become an apostate or murtad. It can be through intention, words or behaviour, Perak mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria said.

This, he said, justified his claim that hundreds of thousands of Malay Muslims have apostacised.

"One can become murtad if he feels in his heart there is another being which possesses the same power as Allah or if one says that all religions are the same," he said at the convention.

"Muslims cannot say this because in the Quran, it is stated, Islam is the only accepted religion.

"We can say there are some things which are common in Islamic teaching as well as other religions but we cannot say all religions, including Islam, are the same."

Speaking on "Freedom of Religion from the Perspective of Syariah", Harussani likened apostasy to a disease. He said like a diabetic who has an infected foot or finger that must be cut off, apostates must face the death penalty.

He has been criticised for creating unnecessary alarm over his unsubstantiated claims, made in February, that 250,000 Muslims had apostacised themselves, while 100,000 more had applied to do so.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Abdullah Mohd Zin said earlier this month the numbers were grossly exaggerated.

A study by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) law professor Dr Mohd Azam Mohd Adil also revealed that according to the state syariah courts, religious departments and the National Registration Department, the number of conversions are only in the hundreds.

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This is a SAD case

This news is just shocking and sad too.

I just wish someone can just read the context of the matter properly before passing any judgement.

Maybe it's time to have a refresher course and learn more from Wikipedia.

Click to learn now.

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UMNO policing is much more efficient

Matters like this sometimes really make you wonder. How come after police report is made, no actions taken but instead UMNO management committee is the first to take action.

“Umno wants to be proactive. We will be calling the speakers in the next few days,” he told reporters after chairing the National Council on Local Government meeting here yesterday.

“The reason is that we are mindful that there are laws of the country and that the speakers must abide by the laws.”

Police have classified all reports lodged against several Umno members for their fiery speeches under the Sedition Act.

Asked whether the party would take action before the police does, Najib replied: “We will decide whatever is appropriate.”

So who do you want to be "proactive"?

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Admit And Rectify Weakness, Abdullah Tells Public Sector

Another "sounds" and "feel good" speech. Remember this? "Work With Me, Not For Me".

Maybe it's time for more action less talking?

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has called on organisations and individuals in the public service to openly admit their weakness and shortcomings and continuously take steps to correct and rectify them.

In this context, they should not be in self-denial, he said when officiating the 2006 Public Sector Quality Awards presentation ceremony here Tuesday night.

He said efforts to improve the civil service had to be a continuous process to ensure that Malaysia remained globally competitive.

"What is wrong, we correct them, what is spoilt, we make it good... that is our way. All the things we do, they must become the best," he said.

He said efforts to improve the public sector was not new as they had started since the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein was prime minister but until today, the people still had negative perception especially towards the public sector's delivery system and this must be changed.

"Is it because of the conduct of a few guilty ones that make shocking headlines and make the people to jump to conclusions? Actually, the whole barrel was spoilt because of one bad apple. Actually, only one or two persons who have caused a lot of problems to a lot of people," he said.

He said when the negative perception on certain matters unfolded, it would be difficult to allay or correct the perception.

Abdullah said it was important for the public sector to enhance its quality of work, productivity and competency from time to time.

"So, we have to think, if we are really the victim of perception, of how do we overcome it... we have to enhance our performance," he said.

Abdullah said although Malaysia had been recognised as a country that had recorded stunning growth, with an excellent track record in eradicating poverty and the trade volume axpected to breach RM1 trillion in the near future, the people still felt that the public sector had yet to meet their expectations.

"So, we have to enhance our capability... not to add more officers but rather our capability and ability to work faster and more effectively," he said.

Abdullah said that with the advanced development and use of the information communication technology (ICT), there was no reason why work could not be done faster.

The Prime Minister said that to ensure high value of the human capital development in the civil service, the civil servants had to improve their knowledge.

"There are plenty of management books written now compared to when I was a PTD (administration and diplomatic) officer," he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia received the Prime Minister Quality Award for the public sector.

Other recepients were:

-- Petronas Ammonia Sdn Bhd; Prime Minister Quality Award for private sector;

-- Pahang Farmers Organisation; Prime Minister Quality Award for sosio-economic sector;

-- Retarded Children Association, Johor; Prime Minister Quality Award Special Appreciation for socio-economic sector;

-- Public Service Department; Information Technology Prime Award for public sector;

-- MISC Berhad; Information Technology Prime Award for private sector;

-- Terengganu Information Technology Unit; Information Technology Prime Award for sosio-economic sector;

-- Melaka City Council; Prime Award for local government; and

-- Petaling District and Land Office; Prime Award for district and land office.

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Nov 28, 2006

To Film or not to Film? - JAIS

Two days ago, there was a big hoo-hah about videos leaked from JAIS regarding khalwat (close proximity). From the statement made by JAIS enforcement division assistant director Akmal Senin, it's common for JAIS to record video clips during the raid and the video clips will be sometimes used as evidence.

When contacted by mStar Online, The Star’s Bahasa Malaysia news portal, yesterday, JAIS enforcement division assistant director Akmal Senin said they usually recorded their raids.

He said that the video clips were sometimes used as evidence in some khalwat cases.

And today, there is a big denial from JAIS. According to MalaysiaKini, Public relations officer Fakrul Azam Yahya clarified that JAIS does not have the right to film khalwat incidents because footage is not required for prosecution. The department will lodge a police report today. While JAIS director Mohammed Khusrin Munawi said the enforcement division does not own specific filming equipment or inventory.

“We don’t need film or photos because it is enough (evidence) to find a man and woman in a lonely place or in a dwelling (if they do not have) any marital relations,” he said.

So what is going on here? Then where are those video clips originated from? Anyone?

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UMNO-led government continues to steadfastly defend NEP

Part V

(Channel News Asia) KUALA LUMPUR: As the debate rages on in Malaysia over the continued implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP), the UMNO led government has steadfastly defended the three decade old affirmative action policies.

In 1970, Malays enjoyed political supremacy, but were the poorest among Malaysia 's racial groups, with less than 3 percent of corporate equity ownership.

Among the targets that the NEP set out to achieve was to lift the status of Malays through economic restructuring to attain at least 30 percent bumiputera equity ownership by 1990.

But despite years of efforts and investments, the bumiputera share of the country's economic wealth still hovers below 19 percent. And that, according to the ruling party UMNO, which is the defender of the Malays' economic and political rights, still leaves much to be desired.

Khairy Jamaluddin, Deputy Chief of UMNO Youth, says: "What we've been a little unhappy about is not the philosophy behind affirmative action; it's the implementation of it.

"That's where we see a lot of weaknesses whether it is in the form of leakages where policies designed to assist and empower the bumiputera community and opportunities given to the bumiputeras have been leaked or there have been leakages where those policies and those opportunities have actually been passed on to others."

At a recently concluded UMNO general assembly, calls resonated among the 3.2 million members for the affirmative action policies under the NEP to continue.

Oxford-trained Mr Khairy, who is also the son-in-law of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, says more coordinated monitoring is needed to ensure the NEP's success.

Political observers also warn of potential pitfalls in pursuing such affirmative action policies.

Professor Zakaria Ahmad, Political Analyst, says: "The perception is that there's a gap and the Malays have not achieved what they think is rightly theirs, and in fact, they think that the Non-Malays have gained tremendously."

69-year-old Mazlan Shukor agrees that handouts will only perpetuate poverty of his race.

"Those who are still poor are mostly the lazy ones who don't want to work. They wait for government aid. They're healthy so they can work," said Mr Mazlan.

But until the 30 percent share of the country's economic wealth is met, Mr Khairy argues that help along the way is still needed for the Malay majority to bridge the gap by 2020.

"We hope that once we reach these targets equity of 30 percent – a more balanced ratio of household income between Malays and Non-Malays – we can sustain the achievement through our own merit." - CNA/so

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Lim Kit Siang branded as "unpatriotic" in parliament

Stir Over Proposed Salary Cut

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 (Bernama) -- A stir broke out in the Dewan Rakyat Monday during a debate on the Supply Bill 2007 at the Education Ministry's Committee level when Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers objected to a proposal by Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) for a salary cut.

Lim had proposed a RM10 cut in the salaries of Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, his two deputies - Datuk Hon Choon Kim and Datuk Noh Omar, and the ministry's Parliamentary Secretary Komala Devi because there was no allocation for Chinese and Tamil national-type schools in the Budget 2007 and the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

The backbenchers accused Lim of being unpatriotic for attempting to raise racial politics by bringing up issues on the national-type schools and chided him for making fun of the Education Minister's action in kissing a "kris" at the recent Umno general assembly.

The backbenchers were also irked with Lim for bringing up the issue on the alleged misappropriation of funds for a Chinese school as was raised by Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Ong Kee Teat some time ago.

Among those who objected to Lim's proposal for the salary cut were Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainudin Raja Omar (BN-Larut), Datuk Badruddin Amiruldin (BN-Jerai) and Datuk Mohamed Aziz (BN-Sri Gading).

Raja Ahmad Zainuddin said the government had never neglected the needs of any races, especially on education.

Meanwhile, Badruddin said various initiatives were taken by the government to develop the country's education sector.

"Facilities are provided in the urban, rural and interior areas. The government also abolishes examination fees so that all children are not deprived of proper education," he added.

He said the government's move to take action against parents who did not send their children to schools proved the government's commitment and the importance of education.

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Malaysia calls for end to quarrels with Singapore

(Channel News Asia) KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia called Monday for an end to decades of squabbling with Singapore, saying the neighbours could no longer afford the conflict in the face of growing regional economic competition.

Deputy prime minister Najib Razak said past ties had "often lurched from grudging civility to outright acrimony" but urged both nations to seize on "a palpable thaw" in relations in recent years to tighten economic links.

"We must raise our political will to work together where we can, and accommodate each other in areas where we cannot. We have no real choice. The economic logic is as clear as day," Najib told a Malaysia-Singapore business forum.

"If we choose to remain aloof, to go it alone, we risk being torn apart by competition," he said.

Malaysia's relations with Singapore have been rocky ever since the city-state was ejected from the new Malaysian federation in 1965.

The two nations have sparred on a number of issues, including the price of water Malaysia sells to Singapore, and sovereignty of a tiny island off the Malaysian coast.

And while economic ties are strong, Malaysia has aspired to compete with Singapore for investment, and as a regional hub for business and services.

"The unfortunate truth is that the relationship between Malaysia and Singapore has been primarily that of rivals," said Najib.

"We must eventually move beyond the rhetoric, and focus on the underlying fundamentals which are of mutal interest to us," he added.

Najib said Malaysia and Singapore "continue to be twin beacons of stability in a turbulent Southeast Asia that has been rocked by political upheaval and the threat of militant terrorism."

However, the countries are facing competition from regional economic powerhouses China and India, while other Southeast Asian nations such as Vietnam and Thailand are fast catching up, he said.

"For Malaysia and Singapore, the stakes are high. We are no longer the darling of foreign investors," said Najib.

The deputy premier said Singaporean investments into Malaysia had increased significantly in recent years, but also made a pitch for Singapore to help facilitate Malaysian acquisitions of Singaporean assets.

"With increasing competition, it simply makes common sense for Malaysia and Singapore to invest in each other's future," he said. - AFP/ch

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Nov 27, 2006

Hishammuddin On Shortage Of Pupils In Chinese Schools

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 (Bernama) -- The shortage of pupils in 531 national type Chinese schools (SJKC) nationwide has to be addressed first before new schools can be built, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Monday.

He said the 531 schools had less than 150 pupils each.

"The opposition has raised the issue of new Chinese schools but is there a need for new schools when the existing ones are short of pupils?" he asked when winding up a motion tabled by Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) proposing to cut by RM10 the salaries of Hishammuddin, the two deputy education ministers Datuk Hon Choon Kim and Datuk Noh Omar and the parliamentary secretary P. Komala Devi.

Lim said he brought the motion because there was no allocation for new national type Chinese schools (SJKC) and national type Tamil schools (SJKT) in Budget 2007 and in the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

"SJKC Central Heights in Segamat has two pupils and three teachers, SJKC Padang Gajah in Beruas has two pupils and two teachers. Do we need to build more schools when the pupil shortage problem has not been resolved?" Hishammuddin said.

He said the government's education agenda was to bridge the gap between schools in the rural and urban areas, provide adequate quality teachers, improve school infrastructure especially in the rural areas, and provide access to quality education.

"We do not choose between SJKC or SJKT but have a larger agenda. Those in rural areas in need of financial aid will be championed not because of race but on humanitarian grounds to provide access to knowledge to all races," he added.

Hishammuddin later told reporters that the government was steadfast in its agenda to close the educational divide, upgrade teacher quality, create more knowledgeable students and provide a holistic approach to education.

"The majority of our pupils are enrolled in national schools. So when the focus is on national type schools, there is some confusion. This is not fair.

"I have a heavy responsibility to all and there are lots of things to do in five years," he added.

The motion was rejected unanimously. The Dewan Rakyat sits again Tuesday.

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RTM Will Not Telecast Parliamentary Proceedings Live

Is he saying that due to the behaviour of certain MPs therefore it should not be shown to the public? Then shouldn't the MPs first should learn and accept that Malaysia is a multiracial country and behave as a good MP? Instead asking the future generation to accept that Malaysia is a multiracial country?

Till when Malaysia MPs should debate national interest issues based on races?

I still don't get it, anyone?

KANGAR, Nov 27 (Bernama) -- Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) will not telecast the parliamentary proceedings live despite constant requests by the opposition, Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said Monday.

He said the decision was made in the interest of safeguarding harmony in the country because besides the high cost involved, the people would surely not be able to accept the behaviour of the MPs and the conduct of the proceedings which had political and racial intonations.

"The time has not come for RTM to telecast the parliamentary proceedings live because our society has not attained a mental maturity where it is insensitive to racial issues," he told reporters after a gathering organised by the Perlis Special Affairs Department here.

He said that in view that the position of the political parties in the country still hinged on the strength of each race and not on the overall unity of Malaysians, some form of control like the Sedition Act and the Internal Security Act was still needed.

As such, he reminded the young generation to prepare to become future leaders who were acceptable to the multiracial society in the country.

The young generation, he said, must be broad-minded, rational and open-minded because the country's history had never shown that the quality of leadership was focused on the strength of just one race.

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Nov 26, 2006

Our beloved Prime Minister

A PIcture Is Worth A Thousand Words

- source

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Newspapers Can Play Role Of Government Critic, Says Najib

This is called "Transparency" ?

KUANTAN, Nov 25 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said newspapers can play the role of government critic but the criticisms should be constructive and done in a responsible manner.

He said the important thing was the intention and objective of the newspapers and that they must be honest when publishing the issues at hand.

"Newspapers can criticise, but it must be made responsibly and aimed at correcting things. This will help the party criticised accept them (criticisms) positively.

"Leaders are only humans and if there is nobody to criticise us, then we may be carried away by our positions.In a democratic system, our fate lies in the hands of the people, as such it is best to be corrected early rather than be rejected by the people later," Najib said when launching the Pahang edition of the Malay tabloid, Kosmo!, here Saturday.

He said that the media should also play a key role in nurturing quality minds in line with globalisation, by providing reading materials that were intellectually challenging.

Najib said publishing companies should not only give priority to circulation but should adopt a holistic approach by providing reading materials that could develop the minds of Malaysians constructively.

"We must not view from one aspect or dimension only, it must be looked at as a whole," he said.

Asked whether there was a need for the media to be more transparent due to the easy access of information from other sources like the Internet, Najib said: "From what I can see, the mainstream media is playing a balanced role. We cannot compare with the alternative media like that in the Internet, which is not controlled at all."

Najib stressed that not all news on the Internet could be trusted as the information could not be independently verified.

"So, it is unfair to compare the mainstream media and the alternative media. I will like to see the media publishing stories that are correct, true and balanced," he said.

On freedom of the press, Najib said there was no total freedom per se as there were a lot of sensitivities in multi-racial Malaysia.

"Yes there is control over newspapers. As I said earlier there is no total freedom and newspapers must understand their responsibilities. I do not see this as a problem as there lots of space for newspapers to make their coverage.

"There is no control when it comes to the Internet as it is a different world altogether. What is important is control of the print media, especially the mainstream newspapers," Najib said.

Also present were Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and executive chairman of Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Berhad Tan Sri Mohamed Hashim Makaruddin.

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Financial Express - The racial divide widens in Malaysia

(Financial Express) Malaysia's government regularly cautions its constituents that open and honest dialogue of the "sensitive" subject of race is strictly off limits.

Then comes along the week-long United Malays National Organization (UMNO) annual assembly, at which Muslim Malay party leaders warn the country's minority Chinese and Indians that questioning the special status of Islam and Malays in society will be met with violent doom.

Fists tremble. Daggers are brandished. Party delegates thunder, "Long live the Malays." The very predictability of the chest-thumping is what UMNO members use to rationalize it: "Although some sides were a bit extreme [this year]," said UMNO vice president Muhyiddin Yassin, "it is quite normal to voice feelings during the assembly."

Yet it would be a mistake to confuse this year's assembly with previous party congresses. The Islamic and racist zeal was unmistakably more incessant and explicit, and the proceedings were considerably less tempered with calls for national unity. Remarks by Hasnoor Hussein, an UMNO delegate from Malacca, were typical: "UMNO is willing to risk lives and bathe in blood to defend the race and religion. Don't play with fire. If the [other races] mess with our rights, we will mess with theirs."

What troubles many Malaysians about UMNO's lack of restraint is that it comes at a time when the country appears more racially polarised than it's been in decades. Malaysia's mix of ethnic Malays, Indians and Chinese has long been resentful of each other and willfully segregate themselves. Those resentments exploded into full-blown race riots in 1969, when ethnic Malays attacked and killed scores of ethnic Chinese.

These days, some 90% of Chinese students attend private Mandarin-language schools. Meanwhile, most Malays attend public schools and most Indians Tamil-language institutions of learning. Two years ago the government initiated a public service program to improve race relations by choosing 18-year-olds to participate in a military style camp. That scheme has been dogged by reports of race-related infighting, however.

In the face of a creeping Islamization, non-Malays and social activists have recently pressured Malaysia's UMNO leadership to grant equal rights to all of the country's citizens regardless of race or religion - as is guaranteed under the federal constitution.

In particular, they have also become more vocal in questioning a controversial affirmative action program intended to help Muslim Malays catch up economically with the ethnic Chinese, who comprise 60% and 25% of the population respectively.

Started in 1971, the so-called New Economic Policy (NEP) was originally intended to last 20 years but has since been extended indefinitely. That's because, according to the government, its target of 30% Malay ownership of the country's total corporate equity still has not been achieved. According to official statistics, that percentage now hovers around 18%. Yet a study conducted by an independent academic last month contested that figure by claiming that ethnic Malay total equity ownership could already be as high as 45%.

The push for more democracy in authoritarian Malaysia leaves its ethnic Chinese and Indian minority groups particularly vulnerable - a fact reflected in the racial bashing at this year's UMNO assembly. At the same time, UMNO's preoccupation with racial politics raises growing doubts about its ability to lead the country forward faced with the challenge of China's economic emergence. The party leadership has openly acknowledged the need for Malaysia to change course if it is to remain competitive with its fast-rising neighbors.

Economic growth slowed from 7.2% in 2004 to 5.2% last year, while foreign investment dropped 15% to $3.9 billion. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has promoted his concept of Islam Hadhari, or Civilisational Islam, a modernist interpretation of the faith that stresses moderation and technological and economic competitiveness. In that direction, his party has also introduced plans to transform Malaysia into a regional information technology, agricultural and biotech hub.

"We need an economic transformation," Abdullah said in his opening address at the UMNO assembly. Yet tight curbs on personal freedoms, implemented to curb racial tensions, have hindered the open inquiry and innovative spirit necessary to achieve Abdullah's vision. The next phase of economic development will require coincident social transformation, reforms the current race-obsessed political leadership is reluctant to implement.

Oddly, UMNO was once a progressive party, championing what seemed a viable vision to improve equity among the races. Even into the 1990s, under the iron-fisted leadership of Mahathir Mohamad, UMNO looked primed to lead Malaysia toward developed country status. The shimmering steel and glass that spangle Kuala Lumpur's skyline are remnants of that now fading vision.

But the plan went awry as UMNO became politically entrenched in power. Meanwhile, Malaysia's social development and technical know-how has not kept pace with its infrastructural achievements. A common concession in Malaysia, even among its own leadership, is that the country has first world infrastructure but a Third World mentality. Now, that dubious distinction is becoming increasingly obvious to outsiders.

The country's leadership must take much of the blame. UMNO has clung to old solutions, such as the NEP, to fix new problems. Put another way, UMNO, which has ruled Malaysia for four-plus decades through a coalition of other race-based parties, has become bitter, cynical and defensive -- a party that is emphasizing preservation at the expense of progress.

Even younger UMNO members, once portrayed as idealistic, urbane and liberal, have quickly come to resemble the party's conservative old guard. And now they often represent the front edge of the party's increasing racist angst. For instance, Abdullah's Oxford-educated son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, who is coincidentally the deputy chief of UMNO's youth wing, warned in September that Chinese political groups would try to take advantage of any split inside UMNO.

When pressured to apologize, according to media reports, the 31-year-old said, "What is there to apologize for? ... I am only defending my race." At the annual assembly, meanwhile, UMNO youth chief Hishammudin Hussein urged the government to reject proposals for an inter-faith commission intended to foster better understanding among Malaysia's various religious groups.

He brandished a Malay dagger, known locally as a keris, when speaking. Some delegates, it seemed, urged him to go further. "Datuk Hisham has unsheathed his keris, waved his keris, kissed his keris. We want to ask Datuk Hisham, when is he going to use it?" said UMNO Perlis delegate Hashim Suboh.

Non-Malays are seeking to exploit the fiery tone of the UMNO assembly to their own political advantage. Liow Tiong Lai, youth chief of the Barisan Nasional component of the Malaysian Chinese Association, said the day that the assembly wrapped up, "All of us are Malaysians in this multiracial country and hatred must not exist. Instead, we must find strength in diversity. We must inculcate love and unity among the races in order to overcome obstacles together."

Malays and UMNO party members will question the sincerity of such remarks, and not without reason. Following UMNO's example, all of Malaysia's major political parties are explicitly race-based, and all have been known to play the race card to shore up their support bases. But only UMNO has the weight of an assembly that has incited anger, mistrust and ridicule of other races.

This year's assembly could mark a dangerous turning point for a country that not long ago was often applauded internationally as a model moderate Islamic nation for its seeming religious tolerance and clear economic achievements. Nowadays, it's altogether unclear if a racially charged UMNO can even manage to maintain short-term social and political stability.

Ioannis Gatsiounis, a New York native, is a Malaysia-based writer. — Internet

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The "Joker" says The Keris is here to stay

Sometimes no one can understand how certain people can get the position as a minister. It's really hard to comprehend that such mentality is benefiting the people and the country. In one hand, we have the joker stating that the keris is here to stay and he is willing to carry a kungfu sword too;

The keris is here to stay. I told Liow (MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai), give me your kungfu sword and I will carry it. I am doing it on a question of principle, until people realise the keris is not there to threaten non-Malays but to motivate the Malays. These are all symbols to get Malays to move.

We will do whatever it takes to bring them to a point where they don’t feel they are alienated in their own country. We’ve tried everything and if it can help Malays be more focused on what they can do, then my conscience is clear. I did it for the future. I want non-Malays to understand that our doing this is not to take anything away from anybody. That is also enshrined. Allowing the release will help the stability of the country. It won’t drive off investments. [The Star]

and in another hand, MCA is having a roadshow to explain the Chinese communities that statements made by UMNO delegates are not racist in nature. How can one explains a racist statement to the rakyat that it is not racist. Even the Deputy Prime Minister said that action will be taken on "Extreme" UMNO delegate members. So what is the point of the roadshow?

In the special briefing, party president Ong Ka Ting made the assurance that the party leadership had conveyed the Chinese community's demands to the government and that they will not compromise the rights of the Chinese community.

"The leadership thinks that the (impact of the) previous briefing was not significant, so they want to extend it to grassroots leaders in all states," said the MCA leader who declined to be named.

He said that the roadshow was planned before the Umno assembly but racist statements made by Umno delegates would certainly become one of the main features at the briefing.

"This is one of the issues that the Chinese community is most concerned." [MalaysiaKini]

So is the keris not a threat to a multiracial nation like Malaysia?

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Nov 25, 2006

Mahathir's attacker arrived in court in limousine

The couple, Wan Elysya and Nik Sapeia’s bodyguard enjoying the facilities in the car.

(The Star) KOTA BARU: His Porsche’s gear stick had loosened and the road tax for his Pajero had expired. So tycoon Datuk Nik Sapeia Nik Yusof decided to go to the magistrate’s court here in his stretch 7,500cc Cadillac limousine.

It was this gleaming beauty that made heads turn when Nik Sapeia arrived in court on Wednesday to face a charge of causing hurt to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and three others at the Sultan Ismail Petra airport on July 28.

He was alleged to have discharged a dangerous substance through a spraying instrument.

Despite facing trying times, the affable tycoon and his wife Datin Dr Suriani Yahya consented to an interview with The Star at their mansion in Pasir Tumboh here

“A former state CPO said we looked like (former US president) John F. Kennedy and (his wife) Jacqueline,” he quipped.

Nik Sapeia, who has more than 10 luxury cars in his stable, said he wanted to own a Cadillac from the moment he saw former US vice-president Al Gore “grandly” stepping out of one in Kuala Lumpur seven years ago.

Nik Sapeia was introduced to a Cadillac dealer in Thailand in 1999 and bought his dream car for RM1mil.

The licence plate – “Bangkok 2” – is custom-made and a gift from a Thai VIP, he said, adding that he was involved in many charities in Thailand.

“Do you know that it is one of only 40 right-hand drive Cadillac limos in the world?

“A Cadillac model only comes out once every 15 years and it is a prestigious vehicle,” said the proud owner.

The Cadillac, which takes up two and a half lots of normal parking space, is placed in a “secret” underground car park near his home where his prized collection of cars are kept.

The limousine is equipped with a TV set, a drink dispenser and aircraft material shock absorbers.

Nik Sapeia, who made his fortune in fisheries, said he normally used the Cadillac for important business functions in Bangkok and would only occasionally drive it around town here. He has approval to drive the car into Thailand.

The Cadillac is his way of showing that fishermen can also be successful.

“I want to tell everybody that fishermen can become rich,” said the former politician who claims to own the largest fleet of deep-sea trawlers in the region.

The Kelantan-born was educated in St Xavier's Institution in Penang.

He started dabbling in the import-export business with only RM500 and went into other fields before finding his niche in the marine industry.

After the interview, Nik Sapeia and Dr Suriani sportingly posed for photographs beside the Cadillac together with two of their six children Nik Abdul Matin Fawwaz, 14, and Wan Elysya Sapeia, seven.

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JAIS X-File Videos

(The Star) PETALING JAYA: Video clips of teenage couples caught hugging and kissing during the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department's (Jais) raids have been exposed on the Internet.

The clips were uploaded on a free video-sharing website (YouTube) that can be accessed by anyone.

The video clips, each lasting 20 to 30 seconds, also showed Jais officers questioning the couples.

In one of the clips, a girl said she regretted her actions and thanked God that she was given a chance to repent.

In another, a couple was questioned for suspected khalwat.

When contacted by mStar Online, The Star’s Bahasa Malaysia news portal, yesterday, Jais enforcement division assistant director Akmal Senin said they usually recorded their raids.

He said that the video clips were sometimes used as evidence in some khalwat cases.

When asked about the video clips that were exposed on the Internet, he said they could not verify or deny that the clips were from them as they had yet to watch them.

Akmal also assured that Jais would take disciplinary action against any officer involved in uploading the clips on the Internet.

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Mukhriz to face Youth exco

(The Star) PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir will face the Umno Youth executive committee on Nov 30 to explain the controversial remark he made about Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s policy speech at the Umno general assembly.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the wing expected something

“He will have to explain more than the two-liner we have heard. Whether his explanation is enough will be weighed at our meeting. There will be a decision but I will also guide the exco on the extent to which we should act.

“However, I do not intend to bring this further to the main party or the disciplinary committee. The Prime Minister has said that it is a Youth matter and any decision made will be within the Youth wing.”

Mukhriz, who is a Youth executive committee member, had caused a stir at the assembly when he said the presidential speech did not offer new ideas nor was it different from that of the previous year.

He was criticised by his Youth colleagues.

Mukhriz, the third son of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, issued a two-line statement several days later to say that he had not meant to hurt Abdullah and that he accepted Hishammuddin’s reprimand.

Hishammuddin said he was personally very disappointed with Mukhriz’s behaviour.

“I have given him a lot of space but this time around, I think he overstepped the line. It was against everything I had tried to inculcate in the exco and so soon after my closing speech where I had talked about loyalty to the leader and party,” said Hishammuddin.

Asked whether Mukhriz was merely acting in the new spirit of openness and transparency, he said that there was a time and place for being open.

“You can’t do that as a senior exco member especially when the Youth wing has clearly stated that we support Pak Lah’s leadership. People are asking what his motives are. Criticism for the sake of criticism does not go down well with the party.

“This is a learning process for young politicians, that position comes with responsibility and the trust to maintain the institution. If the institution is not intact, nobody is going to listen to you.”

On how this would affect Mukhriz’s political future, Hishammuddin said it depended on how the former carried himself.

“The fact that he is the son of a former PM, like myself, gives him a bit of an edge and opens doors. But after that, it depends on your perseverance and how you feel the pulse of your constituency.”

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Analysts warn of fallout from Malaysia's affirmative action policies

Part IV

(Channel News Asia) There is growing concern among the non-Malay community in Malaysia as the ruling party UMNO continues to pursue the affirmative action policies to uplift the status of bumiputras.

And analysts say the economic and political fallout may become evident in the next few years.

The UMNO-led government's continued push to maintain the affirmative action based New Economic Policy has made many non-Malays anxious.

Opposition leaders say the people are disappointed that Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has failed to honour his electoral promise to be a prime minister not just for the Malays but for all Malaysians.

Lim Kit Siang, Opposition Leader, DAP, said: "Many people have expected the Prime Minister to be fair but he's not been walking the talk. It's going to be bad in terms of electoral results for all BN component parties because everybody is disappointed - they feel they are at the raw end."

The NEP, he says, is geared towards internal distribution, where only the upper class or the Malay elite benefit, while the large masses remain marginalised.

But a representative of the rural Malays begs to differ.

The 40-year-old US trained engineer says he's got the government to thank for getting him to where he is today.

Idris Haron, Member of Parliament, Tangga Batu, said: "I came from a very poor family, my father passed away when I was 6, I have siblings of 5, my mother had to rubbertap every single day. It's been proven I have changed my family status from a very poor to middle class now. I brought power to the house and now my mother really lives on the floor not on land anymore. Last time my house got no floor, the roof leaks after heavy rains."

But the concerns of the other races extends beyond just polarisation of Malaysian society.

The Malaysian economy slowed to 5.2 percent last year from 7.2 percent a year ago.

Foreign direct investments have also dipped considerably.

Chia Kwang Chye, Secretary General, Gerakan, said: "The concern is if the economy do not grow fast enough, do not expand or worst still if it goes into recession then where are you going to take the extra wealth to distribute?"

Nevertheless, the opposition argued that the government, by hanging on to the 35-year-old affirmative action policy, will only undermine the country's competitiveness in a fast globalised world and that, they say may cost the UMNO-led government in the next elections. - CNA/ch

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Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) singled out because of Bumiputera-owned?

Bagai pepatah "Kalau tak ada angin bertiup, takkan pokok bergoyang"

Bumiputera-owned CMS Singled Out For Criticism, Says Govt Backbencher

KUCHING, Nov 24 (Bernama) -- Public-listed Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad (CMS) has been singled out for criticism by the opposition for being awarded government contracts because it is a Bumiputera company, a government backbencher said Friday.

Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (BN-Asajaya) told the Sarawak Legislative Assembly that other more successful companies were not singled out even though they were also doing government projects and had been given land for plantations and logging concessions.

"The economic cake has to be shared by all Malaysians. As a matter of justice and fairness, CMS should not be penalised merely because a group of its shareholders, with 43 per cent interest, have links with the top leadership in the government," he said when speaking during the debate on the Supply Bill 2007.

At this juncture, he was interrupted by Dominique Ng Kim Ho (PKR-Padungan), who said the opposition was not implying that CMS was singled out simply because it was a Bumiputera company.

Thursday, Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa) incurred the wrath of Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud for alleging that CMS, a company owned by the latter's family, had become rich through contracts from the state government.

However, Abdul Karim said, Taib was not expected to be the sole breadwinner of his family and that his children and their families deserved to participate in business in Sarawak and elsewhere just like anyone else besides subjecting themselves to the same business risks.

He said he hoped that the opposition would realise that their criticism of CMS, within and outside the august house, could jeopardise the millions of ringgit that public shareholders had invested in the company as well as the job security of its employees.

"As the chief minister has explained on Tuesday (Nov 21) in this august house, if CMS is discriminated against or unfairly treated in the award of contracts by the government, public shareholders such as the Employees Provident Fund have a legitimate cause for action against the government," he said.

He said Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh had also explained that Taib was not involved in any decision on the matter as contracts for CMS were dealt with in accordance with the rules of good corporate governance.

CMS is not a family or private entity but a public-listed company with 329,445,840 shares issued and traded in the market and its shareholders include the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), which owns 8.19 per cent of the CMS issued shares, and EPF another 4.71 per cent. SEDC also owns directly 49 to 59 per cent of the operating CMS subsidiaries.

Meanwhile, Tan Joo Phoi (BN-Batu Kawah) asked the government to come up with laws to monitor the operation of scrap dealers in Sarawak in view of the increasing cases of electric and telephone cable thefts.

He also said that the crime rate had gone up a whopping 16 per cent between January and September this year throughout Sarawak and about 45 per cent in Kuching due to moral decadence, socio-economic problems, illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries and a decreasing sense of neighbourliness.

Dr Johnical Rayong (SNAP-Engkilili) urged the government to speed up the implementation of native customary rights (NCR) land for oil palm with the verification of land ownership.

He said the Land Development Ministry should have adequate personnel to go down to the ground to conduct meetings with land owners and build up rapport with them to avoid unnecessary confusion.

Violet Yong (DAP-Pending) said the state government should ensure that laws and policies did not discriminate against women by encouraging them to actively participate in the labour force and contribute towards the country's socio-economic development.

Urgent attention should also be given to provide government-funded childcare facilities, especially in selected housing estates in every major town, and childcare subsidies to working mothers, she said.

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