Dec 31, 2006

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha

To all ProMahathir's readers, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha

Happy New Year 2007

Happy New Year 2007 to all Malaysians.

Dec 30, 2006

Protes, Jangan TAK Protes - Just say "TAK NAK TOL"

So are you ready to say TAK NAK TOL?

MalaysiaKini reported that Litrak - which operates the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) highway - will be the biggest beneficiary of the Jan 1 toll hike with an increase of 60 sen under the new rates.

The company’s 2006 annual report revealed that it recorded a nett profit of RM80 million, an increase of 43 percent from its nett profit at RM56 million in year 2005.

The report further showed that Litrak had set a new record after collecting RM243 million revenue for its financial year ending on March 31, 2006, as opposed to RM227 million it collected for the year before.

While MCA that is losing it popularity among the chinese community, is stepping up its promotion campaign. Teaming up with not just one, but two opposition parties to stage a protest against toll hikes. It's reported that more protests are planned.

(The Sun) PETALING JAYA (Dec 29, 2006): The MCA and two opposition political parties, DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), today staged separate demonstrations to protest against toll hikes.

About 100 Puchong MCA members led by division chairman Wong Hock Aun gathered at the Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP) toll plaza in Bandar Sunway at 10am, carrying banners and placards at 10am.

About 50 police personnel, including Special Branch men in plainclothes, led by Subang Jaya OCPD ACP Muhammad Fuad Talib kept a close watch on the protesters and maintained public security.

Wong said: "We condemn the toll hikes. Puchong residents are vey upset. The government should review its decision to allow the increase in the toll charges because the LDP is not alleviating the daily severe traffic congestions here."

Puchong MCA Youth chief Datuk Theng Book said the demonstration reflects the peoples' sentiment, especially the Puchong folks who have to bear the 60% increase in toll rates.

Effective Monday (Jan 1, 2007), LDP users have to pay RM1.60, up from RM1.

Before the MCA protesters could leave the scene, about 20 DAP and PKR arrived at 10.40am and headed to the LDP's operations complex.

They handed a memorandum of protest to Lingkaran Trans Kota Holdings Berhad (Litrak) communications manager Zuhri Iskandar Kamarzaman.

  • the toll hike be postponed until the world oil price is stable;
  • programmes be initiated to reduce the traffic congestion at the Petaling Jaya South and Pencala toll plazas during the peak hours in the morning and evening;
  • alternative routes be constructed ahead of the Petaling Jaya South, Puchong South and Pencala toll plazas; and
  • U-turns be allowed at the Petaling Jaya South, Puchong South and Pencala toll plazas.

    Ong said the government should reconsider its decision to allow the hike as the toll concessionaire had reaped huge profits, based on its latest annual report.

    Puchong PKR chief Yaakob Sapari said: "The government is being unfair to the public by allowing the increase as the people are already burdened with the hike in water and electricity tariffs."

    Zuhri Iskandar said the memorandum would be forwarded to the company's board of directors.

    Fuad said the gatherings by the political parties were considered illegal as they did not obtain permits.

    "My officer will lodge a report about the matter and we will investigate under Section 27 of the Police Act for unlawful assembly.

    "We used our discretion to allow the gatherings to take place as it wasconducted peacefully and the groups adhered to the 30-minute time given to them to state their opinion," he added

    Motorists honked as sign of support for the demosntarors.

    Meanwhile, DAP and PKR vowed to stage more protests and demonstration at the LDP toll plazas in the coming week.

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    Dec 29, 2006

    DAP calls for inquiry into disastrous floods

    While we are wondering where are the Ministers from Johor, DAP is calling for an inquiry on the disastrous flood that hit Malaysia recently.

    (AFP) KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia's opposition on Friday called for an inquiry into disastrous floods which have left at least 11 dead and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

    The government has insisted it issued adequate flood warnings, but Lim Kit Siang from the Democratic Action Party (DAP) said authorities were caught "completely off guard".

    "What is particularly galling and unacceptable not only to the flood victims but to all right-thinking Malaysians is the denial complex of cabinet ministers in claiming that early warning systems...are adequate," he said in a statement.

    Lim said the floods highlighted "grave weaknesses in our natural disaster management, preparedness, prevention and mitigation strategy".

    He said that an independent probe should be carried out to avert future loss of lives and property.

    Authorities said Friday that the death toll from the floods had risen to 11, with the latest victim a 14-year-old boy whose body was found floating in a canal.

    A five-year-old girl is also missing, after the car her family was travelling in was swept away by strong currents.

    Her father survived, but the bodies of her mother and three-year-old sister have been retrieved.

    The number of people forced to flee their homes and shelter in relief centres in southern Johor state, which has been hardest-hit, rose to 61,352 on Friday from 55,212 the day before, the official Bernama news agency said.

    The government has urged rescuers to brace themselves for another round of the disaster after forecasters predicted more bad weather for Johor and central Pahang state until Sunday.

    "If it doesn't occur, then thank God, but if it does, we must be in a state of readiness so that the necessary operations can be carried out efficiently," Deputy Premier Najib Razak said Thursday.

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    Tun Mahathir and the RM 30 millions yacht from Turkey

    As reported in Malaysia-Today, a letter on behalf of Tun Mahathir regarding the issue of RM30 millions yacht which allegedly purchased by our beloved PM.

    Dear Sir,

    Re: 'Cobra King' RM30 juta bukan milik Abdullah, kata

    I refer to the above article by Zulkifli Mohamed that appeared in on Dec 26, 2006.

    2. In the article the writer had quoted a certain website, alleging that a yacht, the 'Cobra King' (sic) which was being built in Turkey belonged to Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad.

    3. I normally do not respond to articles that appear in what I consider to be less than credible websites, even more so when the authors are opaque and choose to hide behind pseudonyms. In other words I do not take them seriously.

    4. However, I must admit that when it appeared in your website, I felt a need to correct the misinformation given Malaysia Today's standing in the websphere.

    5. The allegation that the yacht belongs to Dr Mahathir is a blatant lie by the author and the website that chose to publish it. As is commonly known a Turkish newspaper had earlier this month reported that the yacht belonged to Prime Minister Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The Prime Minister himself has since denied this.

    6. I take exception that in their eagerness to deflect the heat off the Prime Minister, certain irresponsible quarters should now try to drag and disparage the name of Dr Mahathir.

    7. This is pathetic. For your information, Dr Mahathir did go to Turkey in July this year for his holiday and to view a Turkish Gullet which was being built by her Malaysian owner who is known to Dr Mahathir as well as the Prime Minister. I am not at liberty to disclose the identity of the Malaysian. However, the yacht is certainly not Dr Mahathir's, nor does Dr Mahathir own any other yachts.

    8. The report in the Turkish newspaper to my point of view questions the integrity of the country's leadership. The right course of action, to my mind in defending the credibility and integrity of the the Prime Minister, is to seek some serious explanation and possibly an apology from the Turkish newspaper. After all the Prime Minister's denial shows that the report was indeed untrue and for this the Prime Minister deserves an apology from the newspaper.

    9. As for me, I have stopped asking for apologies from those out to disparage Dr Mahathir be they from the websites or from the mainstream media. But I do believe in presenting the facts as facts, unlike fiction, do not lie. It is up to readers to assess and I leave it to their discretion.

    I hope that you will find some space in your website to publish this simple explanation for the benefit of Malaysia Today's readers at least. I hope also that this explanation is sufficient to answer some of the queries that I have received following the publication of the report in your news site.

    Best Regards,

    Sufi Yusoff
    for Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad

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    Dec 28, 2006

    Turkish Company says Badawi did not order RM 30 Millions Yacht

    Why misery? I thought it's a good publicity for the company just in case other Malaysians that intend to purchase themselves a yacht too.

    Turkish Co Denies Alleged Order For RM30 Mln Yacht

    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 (Bernama) -- Kobra Yatcilik Turizm ve Turizm Limited Co., a Turkish yachting and tourism company, has denied that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has placed an order for the construction of a RM30 million yacht as reported by a Turkish newspaper recently.

    In a letter sent to the Hurriyet daily, the company said the article published by the newspaper on Dec 17 was false.

    "The honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia does not absolutely have any order for the construction of a cruiser through our company," it said in the letter, a copy of which was sent to Bernama Wednesday.

    The article had alleged that Abdullah made a refuelling stop in Bodrum, Turkey recently to inspect the construction of a boat which he purportedly had placed an order four months ago.

    In the letter, the company, said "your news report that the referred stop was actually a visit for the purpose of an inspection is not authentic, is circumstantial, hearsay and false".

    In the letter, the yacht company referred to an article written by Hurriyet's journalist Yasar Anter published on page 8 which had made reference to the company.

    "We wish to attract your attention that this article has not only despaired our company but put us in desolation and misery.

    "We wish to take this opportunity and find it our responsibility to inform you of the reality," the company said.

    Abdullah had since denied purchasing the yacht, dismissing the report as a blatant lie.

    "It is a lie. I don't know where it got such facts," he told reporters during his recent visit to Venezuela.

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    Dec 27, 2006

    Just Sayin': We have to try harder and believe in ourselves

    NST bringing us the rundown of Malaysian politic scene for 2006.

    (NST) WE’VE forgotten how wonderful Malaysia is, and how much we’re capable of.

    Our universities, in particular, Universiti Malaya, used to be some of the best in the region. The last Times Higher Education Supplement saw the former top school in the country continue to slide in ranking.

    In 1990, Malaysia was ranked fourth in the United Nations’ foreign direct investment ranking. Last year, we dropped to 62.

    A Citigroup report said our economy is "a pale shadow of itself compared with 10 years ago".

    Indonesia, usually behind in terms of foreign investment, has been attracting more interest of late, as are up and coming economies like Vietnam. I think somewhere along the way to 2020, we forgot how great we actually are. We also forgot to try harder, and we forgot to believe in ourselves. Self-belief is important, because without it, all we can think of is making teh tarik in space.

    At the current rate, the Internet revolution will probably just bypass Malaysia. For all the talk about WiMax, state-wide Wi-Fi, and now, the Malaysia Internet Exchange, nothing much has really changed in the past year. Which means it’s quite likely that no one really has a clue how to supply fast, reliable and affordable Internet access to the masses. That is somewhat unfortunate, because we have so many aspiring independent filmmakers making short films with virtually no budget and distributing them online.

    The more people have access to affordable broadband, then more would get to watch some of these hit videos like nude squats in police lockups, UPM students and how good some of them are at imitating animals, schoolkids interpreting Fight Club, and current favourite, footage of couples caught in tangkap basah operations.

    Elections are really overrated. Every five years or less, about 70-odd per cent of eligible Malaysians go out to cast their votes for their Members of Parliament and state assemblymen. Elections equal democracy, some say. But, unfortunately, our Parliament is better known for shouting matches and out-of-touch MPs who make racist or sexist statements.

    More disturbingly, however, many of the people who have power over our lives don’t take part in elections, be they chief ministers, mayors, local councillors, or religious officials. So even if they build big palaces, abuse the privileges that come with their positions, or simply show up for work both late and sloppily dressed, it’s not up to us to dismiss him or her. So much for change through the ballot box.

    All in all, despite my critical view, I think most of us agree Malaysia is a wonderful place to live. Food is good, affordable and aplenty. The weather, though a little too hot at times, is still mostly pleasant. And for all the restrictions imposed, we can all generally find ways to do what we need or want to. Fully enjoying these blessings, however, requires a certain amount of detachment and apathy.

    Stick only to the entertainment section of the newspapers. Don’t find out about how the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council demolished Kampung Berembang, a village in the middle of KL with about 50 houses, leaving its residents homeless. Don’t be alarmed by the polemic and racial nature of Malaysian politics and how it is stopping us from living up to our potential. Instead, think about what to have for lunch tomorrow and where to go this weekend.

    And yes, Khairy Jamaluddin is right: Openness is indeed being abused, just not in the way he claims it is. Instead, it has been modified from something Malaysians have every right to expect as citizens, to a political toy that we must be grateful for, something that will be taken away from us if we’re caught behaving badly. To which I quote Noam Chomsky: "If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all."

    That’s why I don’t believe in freedom of expression — it’s just more satisfying to tell the people I despise to shut up and punch them in the face if they don’t listen.

    To advocate a society that is open means to accept that people who are stupid, rude, ignorant, racist or sexist will be making their opinions known, as will those who have the nerve to think they can ask any questions they want about public figures. I can’t deal with all that acceptance.

    Which segues into my final lesson. It’s a little more personal, though it’s something I realised from writing this column. Sarcasm is many things. Fyodor Dostoyevsky said it’s "the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded."

    Having no idea what he’s talking about, I’m offering my own explanation instead.

    Sarcasm is how you can get away with writing critical opinions while still making some people laugh. It’s also how you can get people to completely misunderstand what you’re trying to say. But I have faith in the intelligence of the average reader, that they will be able to identify when I’m being serious, and when I am being tongue in cheek. Really, I do. Happy New Year, everyone.

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    Dec 24, 2006

    Merry Christmas!

    Merry Christmas to all Christians and Malaysians.

    Pray for peace on earth.

    Dec 23, 2006

    Malaysian Air Force getting secret military trade from Chinese Spy?

    Malaysian Air Force getting secret sales proposal from Chinese Espionage? Interesting!!

    (Source) A Chinese national was charged last week with stealing military trade secrets and using them in demonstration and sales proposals to the Peoples Republic of China, the Malaysian Air Force, and the Thailand Air Force.

    Xiaodong Sheldon Meng, 42, is charged with stealing military combat and commercial simulation software and other materials from his former employer Quantum3D, a company based in San Jose, CA. The economic espionage charges allege that Meng, formerly a resident of Beijing, China, and now a resident of Cupertino, CA, stole the trade secrets from Quantum3D with the intent to use them to benefit the foreign governments of China, Thailand, and Malaysia.

    “One of ICE's top enforcement priorities is preventing terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products and sensitive technology,” said San Francisco Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent in charge Charles DeMore.

    “These items are controlled for good reason -- in the wrong hands, they could be used to inflict harm upon America or its allies," he said.

    “This case highlights the vital importance of protecting the intellectual property and trade secrets not only in Silicon Valley but also for our country's businesses," said a US Justice Department official.

    The alleged economic espionage and theft and export of trade secrets such as these -- visual simulation training software that has military application, no less -- has real consequences that could jeopardize our country's military advantages in the world, in addition to creating substantial financial losses for our businesses which legitimately developed and owned this information, according to an FBI spokesperson.

    Many of Quantum3D's products were designed primarily for military purposes, including military combat training in simulated real-time conditions during the day and night and the use of advanced infrared (IR), Electro-Optical (EO), and Night Vision Goggle (NVG) devices.

    The indictment alleges that Meng stole numerous Quantum3D products which were used exclusively in military applications, and designed for precision training of military fighter pilots in night vision scenarios among other applications. The items are classified as defense articles on the US Munitions List and cannot be exported outside the United States without an export license.

    According to the charges, Meng took up employment with a competing company, Orad, to “pursue other career development opportunities in China”. At one point, Meng altered the Quantum3D's Mantis program to reflect the name of a program which belonged to Orad, a competitor of Quantum3D, according to the charges. Meng then used that program as part of a demonstration project in the People's Republic of China.

    The indictment includes three conspiracy counts; three counts of economic espionage and attempted economic espionage; two counts of violations of the Arms Export Control Act; twelve counts of theft of trade secrets and attempted theft of trade secrets; fifteen counts of foreign and interstate transportation of stolen property; and three counts of making false statements to a government agency.

    FBI Special Agent in Charge Charlene B. Thornton said, “The FBI is committed to aggressively pursue those attempting to illegally obtain and export trade secrets vital to maintaining the United States' position as a world leader in innovation. [The] indictment highlights the value of cooperation between law enforcement and private industry in effectively conducting these investigations."

    Quantum3D, Inc. has cooperated fully in the government's investigation. A company official noted that the company “believes that enforcement of export and trade secret laws is critical to the functioning of our industry and we're pleased to work with the government in these efforts.

    Meng appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd in San Jose on Monday, Dec. 18. Meng was initially charged by complaint on Dec. 9, 2004. The original indictment on the case remains under seal. Meng posted a bail bond for a half-million dollars. If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum sentence and fine of 50 years and fines of up to $2 million.

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    Dec 21, 2006

    ‘Dr M not out to destroy country’

    Finally somebody is speaking on behalf of Tun.

    (The Star) THE Government believes that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has no intention to destroy the country, Foreign Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said.

    “We have heard him and now we know what he wants and does not want,” he told Senator Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

    Ahmad Shabery said the Government was always open to criticisms.

    However, this does not mean that there would be instability of politics and economy in the country.

    “This is how we go through changes, by accepting criticisms and various opinions,” he said.

    THE Asean Transboundary Haze Pollution Agreement will be adopted at the coming Asean Summit, said Foreign Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

    He said the agreement, which was supposed to be adopted at the summit in Cebu this month, was expected to be adopted by January next year.

    While replying to questions from Senators Ahmad Husin, Datuk Seri Empiang Jabu and Tan Bon You, Ahmad Shabery said the Indonesian President had written to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on the matter.

    “The President gave his full commitment to the Prime Minister to ratify the agreement as soon as possible,” he said.

    He also said the ministry had sent a Diplomatic Note to the Indonesian government to state its stand on the negative effects of haze on Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Singapore.

    “The government has taken several measures to tackle the issue of haze through bilateral and various other ties.

    “The Indonesian government had also held an emergency meeting, the Sub-Regional Environment Ministerial level meeting on Oct 13,” he said.

    Ahmad Shabery said the meeting had resulted in the establishment of a committee to monitor the implementation of long-term and short-term measures to overcome the haze issue.

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    Dec 20, 2006

    Abdullah Badawi Denies Buying RM30 Million Boat

    A boat for our beloved Prime Minister? Maybe he is preparing for flash flood in Kuala Lumpur during the raining season. :-)

    CARACAS, Dec 20 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has denied buying a RM30 million boat as reported by a newspaper from Turkey recently.

    "The report is inaccurate. It is a lie. I don't know where it got such facts," he told reporters here when asked to comment on a newspaper report that he went to Bodrum in Turkey recently to see the boat which he ordered four months ago.

    Abdullah said he would ask the newspaper to make a correction.

    According to the report, the boat is made of Akuju, Maun, Sipo and Brimanya's tree which is imported from South Africa and expected to be completed in 16 months.

    "I was in Turkey but did not see the boat," he said in reference to his transit in Turkey from Kuala Lumpur before coming here for a three day official visit which ended Tuesday.

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    NSTP-Utusan Should Not Merge - Mukhriz Mahathir

    Time for Mukhriz to comment on the Utusan-NST merger :

    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 (Bernama) -- Umno Youth executive committee member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said Tuesday The New Straits Times Press (NST) group should not merge with Kumpulan Utusan Malaysia as the country requires different editorial views from the two media organisations.

    Mukhriz, who is also director of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation (PGPO), said: "It would be more balanced if the country gets different views from these two organisations.

    "Both of them play important roles in moulding public opinions and we cannot have only one opinion to be swallowed in whole by the readership," he told reporters after receiving a RM70,000 contribution for the building of a new mosque in southern Thailand.

    He received the contribution from Sogo Pernas Department Store Sdn Bhd managing director Andrew Lim Tatt Keong and another RM20,000 from Nuri Cergas Sdn Bhd managing director Khusairi Wahijan.

    Mukhriz said that if Malaysians believed in the "check and balance" type of reporting, then Utusan Melayu and NSTP should not merge.

    On the mosque project, he said PGPO still needed to raise RM430,000 to finance the project at Saiburi, southern Thailand.

    The mosque will be named Masjid Aman (Peace).

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    Tun Mahathir to build "Peace Mosque" in southern Thailand

    (Channel News Asia) KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia's ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad is heading a project to build a "Peace Mosque" in troubled southern Thailand after brokering talks between the Thai government and Thai Muslims, one of his sons said.

    Mukhriz Mahathir, the third of Mahathir's four sons, said his father had decided to build the mosque in the southern Thai province of Pattani after the meetings on Malaysia's northern Langkawi island late last year.

    "We feel that our job to bring the two parties together in the negotiating table has succeeded," said Mukhriz, who also attended the talks.

    "What is important is to ... build an icon for peace that also shows that Islam does not condone violence, and that a masjid or a mosque should be a centre for peaceful activity," he told AFP.

    Mukhriz said teachers from a religious school in Pattani had offered the use of land in a small village called Kampung Jawa, and that a ground-breaking, attended by Pattani authorities was held on November 27.

    Mahathir and the Perdana Global Peace Organisation he chairs have started fund-raising efforts for the 500,000 ringgit (140,000 dollars) needed to construct the mosque, which will be built by Thai contractors, he said.

    No date for completion has been set for the "Peace Mosque," which will accommodate up to 350 people.

    Mukhriz also said Mahathir was still willing to offer his services to mediate again between the Thai government and Thai Muslim leaders.

    "We are actually waiting to see what other role we can play," he said.

    "We offered them our continued services, but as of now we have yet to hear from them as to whether they want us to be involved."

    Mahathir, 81, has been recuperating since a mild heart attack in November but stepped out last week to meet his old foe, billionaire George Soros.

    Mukhriz said his father was recovering "quite well."

    "He's already started going horse-riding again, so it must mean he's doing well," he said.

    More than 1,700 people have been killed in three Thai provinces bordering Malaysia since January 2004, with the unrest blamed on ethnic Malay separatists, Islamic extremists and criminal gangs. - AFP/de

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    Dec 19, 2006

    " We're missing the X-factor" - Khairy

    This is an interesting comment from the famous son-in-law regarding tourism in Malaysia that was picked up by Reuters :

    "We appear to have it all, but somehow we're missing the X-factor," Khairy Jamaluddin, a politician and son-in-law of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, wrote in a recent newspaper column. "That tipping point. The je ne sais quoi. We might just not be iconic enough, hip enough or cool enough.

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    Dec 18, 2006

    UMNO politics for oversea students

    In a recent email entitled "Malaysian Law outlaws any student participation in politics, why are local political parties allowed to set up clubs overseas to ‘corrupt’ us.” to Lim Kit Siang

    Something however has been troubling us for a while. We see the constant use of race to divide us and promulgate an agenda that is supposed to benefit the majority. Our local Malaysian Societies have been infiltrated by UMNO and MCA and any legitimate discussion about the state of affairs in Malaysia is anathema. We are forced to tow the Government’s line and those who do not are branded un-Malaysian. I find this most unfair.

    I guess with this report from BERNAMA, this is proven to be very true :
    BANDUNG, Dec 17 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Sunday overseas Umno clubs have to play the role of quashing slander spread through the Internet and explain the actual situation to Malaysian students pursuing courses abroad.

    The deputy prime minister said much of the Internet material in the cyber world spread slander, untruths and half-truths with the aim of confusing students and Umno members.

    "Much of the Internet material in the cyber world of today attempts to influence the thinking of Umno members within and outside the country with slander, untruths and half-truths," he told a news conference here at the end of his four-day visit to Indonesia.

    Najib, who is also deputy president of Umno, said third parties would be influenced unless there were attempts to quash the slander and provide accurate explanation.

    He said it was for this reason that Malaysian leaders had to be close with and communicate often with Malaysian students abroad regardless whether they were Umno members so that the students could be given accurate explanation that they could pass on to their colleagues.

    When addressing a gathering of more than 700 Malaysian students from all the 13 universities recognised by the Malaysian government in Indonesia, Najib said it was important for Malaysian students to ensure that the universities they selected were recognised by the government.

    "This goes not only for government-sponsored students but also private students because if the university was not recognised, they will face difficulty getting employment upon their return to the country," he said.

    He said it was not only the government that placed emphasis on academic qualification from a recognised university but also the private sector.

    Najib and his delegation returned to Kuala Lumpur from here.

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    Information Minister criticises shaming in vice raids

    Something new from our Information Minister;

    (Channel News Asia) KUALA LUMPUR : A Malaysian minister on Sunday joined growing criticism of vice raids by Islamic authorities on unmarried couples, saying shaming offenders was not a way of deterring them.

    Under Islamic law, which operates alongside the civil code in mostly Muslim Malaysia, "khalwat" - close proximity between a man and a woman who are not married - is forbidden.

    Surprise khalwat raids on unsuspecting couples are often conducted by Islamic authorities, sometimes accompanied by media.

    But Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin said the shaming exercise was not necessarily effective.

    "The way to correct offenders is not by putting them to shame. They have to be moulded and educated," Zainuddin was quoted as saying by the state Bernama news agency.

    Debate has erupted over khalwat busts in the wake of a high-profile raid in October on an older, married, non-Muslim American couple holidaying on Malaysia's northern tourist island of Langkawi.

    A senior cleric from northern Perlis state, Mohamed Asri Zainul Abidin, last week criticised the investigations, saying they violate Islamic principles of privacy.

    Zainuddin called on religious officers to focus their efforts on other crimes and asked them not to take pleasure in arresting khalwat offenders.

    "There are other pressing issues such as robberies, muggings, illegal racing and drug abuse committed by our youths, which need their urgent attention," he said. - AFP/de

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    No teh tarik and roti canai?

    The Star reported that there will be no teh tarik-making or roti canai-tossing experiments in space for our Angkasawan when he blasts off in October.

    Instead, he will carry out at least 10 laboratory tests for serious research designed by 10 universities, institutes of higher education and government science agencies.

    Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said the experiments were important as “they will have an important impact on our local food and medical industries”.

    “All the experiments done in space so far are for the benefit of the countries that sponsored their scientists to fly to space.

    “There have been no scientific studies in space on any Asian interest, in terms of medicine or food technology.

    Maybe it's because of the foreign article from Michael Backman?

    Next year, a Malaysian astronaut will go into space aboard a Russian rocket — the first Malay in space. And the cost? $RM95 million ($A34.3 million), to be footed by Malaysian taxpayers. The Science and Technology Minister has said that a moon landing in 2020 is the next target, aboard a US flight. There's no indication of what the Americans will charge for this, assuming there's even a chance that they will consider it. But what is Malaysia getting by using the space programs of others as a taxi service? There are no obvious technical benefits, but no doubt Malaysians will be told once again, that they are "boleh". The trouble is, they're not. It's not their space program.

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    Dec 17, 2006

    Malaysia's Anwar: Government stifling non-Muslims' rights

    While the only report on BERNAMA is that Anwar is contesting for the next election.

    PETALING JAYA, Dec 17 (Bernama) -- Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will contest in the next general election if it is held in 2008.

    Confirming this today, the former deputy prime minister said his intention to contest was his right.

    "It is the right that the court tried to take away from me," he told reporters before attending a forum entitled "An Intra Muslim Roundtable Dialogue" jointly hosted by PKR and Frederich Nauman Stiftung Foundation.

    Anwar, however, did not say whether he would contest under the opposition ticket.

    Anwar, who served a six-year jail term for corruption and sodomy, was released in September 2004. Anwar, for the first time last month, made known his intention to contest in the next general election.

    Under the country's laws, a person, who had served a jail term, is not allowed to be active in politics for five years after his release.

    here is another full report from IHT.

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday accused the government of stifling non-Muslims' rights, as his party declared it has begun preparing for the next general elections.

    Anwar, a former deputy prime minister and an ex-stalwart of the ruling party, also said Malaysia's majority Muslims feel their own rights are threatened by greater clamor among minorities for protection of their rights.

    "The worrying thing is the Muslims feel their position and their power in religious discourse is eroding. The non-Muslims feel they are being marginalized and discriminated against," said Anwar, the adviser to the opposition People's Justice Party headed by his wife, Azizah Ismail.

    "We have come to a stage where it is considered unhealthy. The debate over ... religious issues has been contentious. There is a lot of unhappiness," Anwar said at a news conference during a dialogue his party hosted to discuss Islam's role in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

    Anwar's backing of the minorities appears aimed at expanding the support base of his party — which has its roots among Malay Muslims — ahead of the next general elections, which must be held before 2009.

    Azizah told reporters the party is already in election mode. "The mood is with us on the ground," she said, adding that there is a negative feeling against the government.

    Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister in September 1998 following a fallout with then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad over economic policies. Anwar was arrested, tried for corruption and sodomy, and sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison.

    He was released in September 2004 after he was acquitted of the sodomy conviction and finished serving the corruption sentence.

    Anwar called for a cross-cultural dialogue to ease tensions in the multiracial country. He cited recent disputes over the faiths of two ethnic Indian men after their deaths.

    Islamic authorities in both cases claimed the men had converted to Islam and should be buried as Muslims, despite arguments to the contrary by their families.

    "I do appreciate the concern of non-Muslims," Anwar said. "The action by certain religious departments and offices backed by government authorities ... to deny the rights of non-Muslims ... and to deny open public discourse has exacerbated the problem."

    In one case, an Islamic Shariah court allowed the Islamic Religious Affairs Department to bury Maniam Moorthy, a former Mount Everest climber, as a Muslim, ignoring his widow's insistence that he had never practiced Islam and had consistently celebrated Hindu holidays.

    The other case was settled after Islamic authorities withdrew their claim over the body of Rayappan Anthony, an ethnic Indian Roman Catholic who had once converted to Islam, after his family proved he had returned to Christianity.

    tags :

    Information Minister Unhappy Memorials For Communists Being Erected

    Even the dead are not forgiven? And this is the jurisdiction of an Information Minister? Governing memorials for the dead?

    SUNGAI PETANI, Dec 16 (Bernama) -- Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin Saturday expressed his displeasure by the actions of some in erecting memorials for communists at private Chinese cemeteries.

    He said that such memorials had been detected in private Chinese cemeteries in Sarawak and Nilai in the peninsula and that although it was done at private lands, it was something insensitive as many Malaysians had been killed in the fight against the enemy during the post-War period, including from the Chinese community itself.

    It also showed disrespect for the country, which will be celebrating 50 years of independence next year and could also disrupt the existing racial harmony, he said.
    "After we gained our independence and succeeded in overcoming the communist threat to the country, I am severely disappointed that some people will do something like this (erecting memorials for the communists)," he told a press conference after officiating a leadership course of Merbok Puteri Umno here.

    Zainuddin, who is also the Member of Parliament for Merbok, said the Chinese community in the country also was unhappy with the action as many of their people died in Malaysia's struggle against them.

    "We managed to beat them because many of the staff in the Special Branch then comprised Chinese officers, who monitored their activities and fought them," he said.

    He said that there was no justification whatsoever to pay tribute to them.

    "The people must remember that at one time, they were the nation's number one enemy," he added

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    2006: Most Challenging Year But A Success For BN - Khairy

    Look at who is talking. The famous son-in-law says that 2006 is the most challenging year for BN, maybe he is referring to all the crisis created by him.

    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 (Bernama) -- Barisan Nasional (BN) Youth deputy chairman Khairy Jamaludin Saturday regarded 2006 as the most challenging year in the government's history apart from proving the maturity of the government led by BN leaders.

    Citing as an example the SMSes case about Muslims purportedly committing apostasy in Ipoh, which stirred racial and religious sensitivities, Khairy said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Umno president, was able to find ways to solve the matter amicably.

    "Although various issues were raised and blown out of proportion, he was able to bring us all to the right path, to the real situation so that we will not deviate from the actual purpose, that is unity," he told reporters after opening the People's Progressive Party (PPP) Youth Convention here.

    Khairy said that under the present political climate, which was more open, there were quarters trying to test the limits of freedom, which to some extent, could hurt the feelings of certain groups or race.

    He said that the situation could affect the grassroots and as such, discussions should be held among Youth leaders of BN component parties to address the problem and that a course would be held for BN Youth leaders for the purpose as announced by (BN Youth) chairman Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein recently.

    "This is because when problems are not solved, they will spread and become bigger, the media will also play up the matter," he said.

    He said that although more open politics was better, certain matters had to be tackled wisely since the country's democracy was still young.

    "Sensitivities are still high among the Malays, Chinese, Indians and others and we have to respect them," he said.

    Khairy said Umno Youth would support for stern action to be taken against those who were too extreme or went overboard.

    Meanwhile, PPP Youth Chief T. Murugiah wanted the party to be given more seats to contest and certain posts for its members, adding that the matter would be tabled as a motion by PPP President Datuk Dr M Kayveas at the party's convention.

    Murugiah said that PPP presently had 500,000 members and expected the figure to reach one million before 2008.

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    Dec 16, 2006

    Malaysia Should Work Towards More Transparency, Says Soros

    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 (Bernama) -- Billionaire and philanthropist George Soros said Malaysia was not a victim of the "resource curse" like other countries such as Angola or Sudan where "the government was corrupt" and where there were tribal wars.

    He said Malaysia had a stable government, mirrored by its economic performance.

    However, the country should work towards transparency and accountability initiatives, he added.

    "Transparency initiatives in Malaysia would be of considerable benefit to the country as a whole," he said during a dinner talk organised by the London School of Economics and Political Science Alumni Society of Malaysia here Friday.

    He said the people of Malaysia have the right to demand for transparency and accountability from the government.

    This demand, he said, if met, could be a major contribution to the future of the society.

    Soros was in Malaysia to launch his book "The Age of Fallibility" and he had earlier Friday met with former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who once blamed him for the currency attack during the Asian Financial Crisis 1997/98.

    However, the former premier said he had accepted Soros' explanation that he was not personally involved in the devaluation of the Asian currencies especially the Ringgit.

    At the dinner, Soros said he was involved with the Ringgit and Thai baht speculations before but after January 1997, he had not traded in both currencies.

    Meanwhile, the dinner was also attended by Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop and the Alumni's president Datuk Dr Munir Majid.

    tags : tags :

    Dec 15, 2006

    Toll rate increase 'is not something we wanted' - Najib

    DPM said Toll hike is not something "we wanted", so what is something "they wanted"?
    Luckily there is no advice for change of lifestyle to adapt to the toll hike. Maybe we should start commuting by using bicycle. :-)

    (The Star) JAKARTA: The increase in toll rates for the five expressways is not something that the Government is passing on “merrily” to the public.

    Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Government was mindful of the burden such an increase was on the public, but had no choice.

    “It is not something that we wanted, but the important thing to understand is that, for us to have world-class infrastructure, somebody has to pay for it.

    “You can’t have quality highways without being willing to pay for it. So we decided we had no choice but to go ahead and it is on the basis of sharing the burden,” he told reporters here Friday.

    Najib said sharing the burden meant the Government would have to fork out a considerable amount of money that could have been spent on development.

    “However, we use it to keep toll rates at a level lower than otherwise,” he added.

    The Government had announced toll increases for the Damansara- Puchong Expressway (LDP), Cheras-Kajang highway, Kuala Lumpur-Karak highway, Guthrie Corridor Highway and Kesas expressway from Jan 1.

    The deputy prime minister, who is here for a working visit, said the Government had, for example, delayed the toll increase for LDP back in 1999.

    “There was an earlier exercise which kept the rate at RM1 much longer, so it is not something that we pass on merrily to the people.”

    When asked to react on unhappiness among the public over the higher cost of living with fuel price and now toll rates increases, Najib said the Government was mindful of the matter.

    “That is the subsidy that the Government can afford which has been announced at RM2.5bil (for petrol).

    “It is the kind of level of subsidy that we can give. On top of that, we are continuing to subsidise petrol prices, so the amount of subsidy that we have set aside is huge,” he added.

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    Malaysia's former leader Mahathir meets financier George Soros

    Tun Mahathir met up with George Soros today. It's nice to see that in 1997, Tun Mahathir referred Soros as a "moron," blamed him for undermining the Southeast Asian economies by destabilising their currencies, and later established capital controls to prevent currency speculation. However, things got better after this meeting.

    As reported by MalaysiaKini :

    "I accept Soros is not responsible for the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis,” said former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad today.

    He said this after meeting the US billionaire philanthropist George Soros at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

    Speaking at a joint press conference, Mahathir said the ringgit crash was a result of speculations by other traders.

    and news by IHT :
    (IHT) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysia's former leader Mahathir Mohamad on Friday met George Soros, the U.S. financier he accuses of triggering the Asian financial crisis in 1997, when the two men became bitter foes and publicly traded insults.

    Mahathir and his daughter Marina arrived at a luxury Kuala Lumpur hotel where Soros was staying during his two-day visit for a meeting of the London School of Economics Alumni Society. He was set to make a speech to the society Friday.

    Mahathir did not speak with reporters in the hotel lobby, and took the elevator to Soros' room for their first-ever face-to-face meeting since the financial crisis. Details of the meeting were not immediately known.

    The meeting is a remarkable event given that Mahathir, who was prime minister during the Asia's financial crisis that began in 1997, had accused Soros and others of wrecking the region's economies through currency speculation.

    Mahathir called Soros a "moron," and Soros hit back by accusing Mahathir of being a "menace" to his own country. Mahathir replied that Soros was a menace to the world economy.

    Soros, the self-made Hungarian-born billionaire, was ranked number 27 in Forbes' list of 400 richest Americans in 2006, with a net worth of US$8.5 billion (€6.6 billion) to his name through hedge funds. He is currently on a regional trip to publicize his new book "The Age of Fallibility," reports said.

    Soros was convicted in 2002 by a French court of insider trading and fined $2.2 million (€1.7 billion). The fine was the same amount Soros was accused of having made from buying stocks at French bank Societe Generale with insider knowledge 14 years earlier.

    Mahathir took bold measures to rejuvenate Malaysia's economy during the economic crisis, and unlike neighboring Thailand and Indonesia, did not turn to the International Monetary Fund for economic assistance.

    The country recovered from its worst recession in a decade after fixing its currency, the ringgit, at 3.8 to the U.S. dollar in 1998 to insulate it from fluctuations, and imposing sweeping exchange controls.

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    Angkatan Belia Islam Msia regrets proposing ISA for apostates

    Several punishments were proposed for apostate in Malaysia, ranging from ISA to death penalty. It's quite severe for country that preaches freedom of religion. Now, ABIM is retracting the statement made earlier.

    (The Sun) PETALING JAYA (Dec 14, 2006): The Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia or Abim has expressed regret over its statement last month that supported the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) against Muslim apostates.

    Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said the coalition - of which Abim is a member - had a two-hour meeting with Abim president Yusri Mohamad on Wednesday about the matter.

    GMI, the group advocating for the repeal of the ISA, comprises a total of 83 non-governmental organisations.

    "It was a good discussion," Syed Ibrahim said, adding that both parties had reaffirmed the coalition's objectives to abolish the "draconian" Act and to work towards the release of all ISA detainees.

    The ISA, which allows for indefinite detention without trial, has been described by Muslim scholars as unjust, and hence unIslamic.

    "No action will be taken against Yusri or Abim by the coalition and I hope that Abim will continue with its commitment in efforts to fight against the ISA," Syed Ibrahim told theSun in a phone interview today.

    Last month, at an International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) convention on freedom of religion and apostacy, IIUM law lecturer Dr Zulkifly Muda said the ISA could be used against apostates because they could be deemed threats to public order and security.

    When interviewed, Yusri had supported the suggestion, saying the ISA could be used against apostates in extreme situations where they threaten peace, order and security, and where "the authorities have trouble compiling evidence".

    GMI had expressed shock at these calls, pointing out that the law has only been used for political expediency since its existence more than 40 years ago.

    Asked what Yusry's explanation was to the GMI on Wednesday, Syed Ibrahim said it was better for Yusri to comment. However, when contacted, Yusri declined comment, and asked the press to stop pursuing the matter.

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    Model's murder raises explosive questions for Malaysian minister

    From the same Australian newspaper that gave us the Michael Backman's "Malaysia Bodoh" article, here is another recent article regarding the murder of Mongolian in Malaysia from a foreigner's perspective.

    (The Age) THREE men will appear in Malaysia's Shah Alam High Court today in a case that has riveted the country's media and political classes.

    The murderous drama involves a beautiful Mongolian model, a Muslim political analyst with friends in the highest places, and an explosive cover-up — the body was blown to bits.

    Altantunya Shariibuu, a 28-year-old mother of two, was kidnapped on October 19. She was allegedly shot twice in the head, and her blown-up remains were found in forest at Shah Alam, south of Kuala Lumpur. She was identified by DNA taken from bone fragments.

    Respected political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, 46, who was allegedly her lover, has pleaded not guilty to abetting murder, a charge that carries the death penalty.

    The prosecution case hinges on an alleged meeting between Abdul Razak and two elite police officers at his Kuala Lumpur office the day before the kidnapping. The two officers, special taskforce Chief Inspector Azhila Hadri, 30, and Corporal Siral Azhar Umar, 35, are also charged with murder. They have not entered a plea.

    Abdul Razak is a confidant of Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Najib Abdul Razak.

    Although Mr Najib has not been formally implicated in the case, questions have been raised about the alleged involvement of special taskforce police and whether the apparent use of C4 explosives points to an abuse of Defence Ministry power.

    Malaysia's elite has not seen anything like it since former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was falsely accused of sodomising his driver.

    Unlike Mr Anwar, who was beaten up by the police chief and jailed for six years, Abdul Razak was charged and then released on health grounds in late November, on an unguaranteed bail bond. This had never been allowed before in a Malaysian murder trial, but there was no protest from prosecutors.

    The victim's father, Setev Shaariibuu, travelled from Mongolia to Malaysia to seek justice for his daughter.

    "This is an international case, this is a brutal murder," he told reporters after Abdul Razak was released. "It was all about releasing him, all about his family, and his background … I hope justice will be served."

    Early in the case, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi promised there would be no cover-up, but the Government has since refused to comment, saying the case is before the court.

    That has not stopped opposition politicians. In Parliament, Karpal Singh of the Democratic Action Party has claimed the C4 explosives could only have been found in the Defence Ministry.

    "So what was the link of the Defence Ministry (with the case)?" he reportedly asked Parliament this month. "Why was Altantunya's body exploded? Was she pregnant? Are the police afraid to investigate because it involved a highly placed minister?"

    Another opposition politician, Syed Husin Ali of the People's Justice Party, said: "Should the Government continue to be silent, rumours will spread even further and will eventually be accepted as the truth by the public." The trial is expected to begin next year.

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    Dec 14, 2006

    Toll rates: 20%-60% hike from Jan 1 2007

    Semua naik, tapi gaji tak naik?!

    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 (Bernama) -- Toll rates at five highways in and around the Klang Valley will be raised between 30 sen and RM1, starting Jan 1 next year, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu announced Thursday.

    The five highways involved are Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP), Lebuhraya Shah Alam, Lebuhraya Cheras-Kajang, Lebuhraya KL-Karak and Lebuhraya Koridor Guthrie.

    The new toll rates for LDP will be RM1.60, an increase of 60 sen, Lebuhraya Shah Alam -- RM2.20 (up 70 sen), Lebuhraya Cheras-Kajang -- RM1 (Batu 9) and 90 sen (Batu 11) (both 30 sen more), Lebuhraya KL-Karak -- RM5 (Gombak) (RM1 higher) and RM3 (Bentong) (50 sen more) and Lebuhraya Koridor Guthrie -- RM1.40 (up 40 sen). These rates are for cars classified as Class 1.

    The minister said if the government had allowed the five concessionaires to raise toll rates according to the concession agreement, then the burden on the consumers would have been much higher.

    The LDP toll would have reached RM2.10, Lebuhraya Shah Alam (RM2.40), Lebuhraya Cheras-Kajang (RM1.20 -- Batu 9) (RM1.10 -- Batu 11) and Lebuhraya KL-Karak (RM8.80 -- Gombak) (RM3.70 -- Bentong).

    Starting Jan 1, the toll rates at the LDP, which was built at a cost of RM1.5 billion, will be RM3.60 for Class 2 vehicles, RM5.40 (Class 3), 90 sen (Class 4) and RM1.80 (Class 5).

    Users of Lebuhraya Shah Alam, constructed at a cost of RM1.3 billion, would have to pay RM3.30 (Class 2), RM4.40 (Class 3), RM1.10 (Class 4) and RM1.70 (Class 5).

    At the RM303 million Lebuhraya Cheras Kajang (Batu 9), consumers will have to fork out RM2 (Class 2 and 3), 50 sen (Class 4) and RM1 (Class 5). For the Batu 11 toll, users will be charged RM1.80 (Class 2 and 3), 50 sen (Class 4) and 90 sen (class 5).

    At the Lebuhraya Koridor Guthrie, developed at a cost of RM862 million, users will pay RM2.80 (Class 2), RM4.20 (Class 3), 70 sen (Class 4) and RM1.40 (Class 5).

    At the Gombak toll of the RM500 million Lebuhraya KL-Karak, motorists will pay RM10 (Class 2), RM15 (Class 3), RM2.50 (Class 4) and RM5 (Class 5). At the Bentong toll of the same highway, they will have to pay RM6 (Class 2), RM9 (Class 3), RM1.50 (Class 4) and RM3 (Class 5).

    Class 1 is for cars, Class 2 for lorries below one tonne, Class 3 for big lorries and trailers, Class 4 for taxis, and Class 5 for buses.

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    Khairy Jamaluddin - "Style mesti ADA"

    A good analytic article written by Aliran on the most powerful son-in-law, Khairy.

    Oxford-educated, journalist, television show producer, and investment banker, Khairy Jamaluddin is clearly a man of many 'talents'. But who is the real Khairy? Were he not the premier’s son-in-law, would he have much in common with Abdullah Badawi, wonders Khoo Boo Teik.

    During the heady days of 1998–99, many apologists for the regime repeatedly asked, ‘Will the real Anwar Ibrahim stand up?’

    The question was asked with feigned wonderment as if the possibility of an inconsistent politician had struck the questioner for the first time.

    The truth of its answer, though, wasn’t important. The point of the question was to insinuate that ‘DSAI’ (Dat Sri Anwar Ibrahim) was an opportunist and to discredit Reformasi for supporting someone of dubious virtue.

    Remember that. Now think how Khairy Jamaluddin (KJ) looms as a central, if shadowy, figure in the spat between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (TDM) and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

    Is it surprising, then, that no one from the Abdullah camp has asked, or will ask, ‘Will the real Khairy stand up?’

    Looking for KJ

    One supposes that ‘KJ’ himself would rather not face that question in public. After all, any unwanted publicity from the tussle between PM and TDM could be costly. Witness the forced sale of his ECM Libra shares and his tearful denial of the slur on his private affairs.

    Still, having gone public and high-profile, KJ can’t avoid being split into different images, making one wish the ‘real KJ’ would stand up, if only to ease our confusion.

    There’s KJ as the foreign-schooled, Oxford-educated, journalist, television show producer, and investment banker. This image of a suave, urbane, corporate-savvy and liberal KJ is easy, that is, simple and non-threatening, to behold.

    There’s another KJ: rapidly rising First Son-in-Law, go-getting UMNO Youth Deputy President, and imposing tower of power possessed of an octopus-like reach of influence.

    This KJ is the ‘boy wonder’ protagonist of The Khairy Chronicles whose ‘no holds barred’ producer, Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK), has done more than anyone else to track KJ’s comings, goings, doings, and undoings. This KJ is the master manipulator Mahathir blames for ‘4th Floor’s sway over 5th Floor’.

    If RPK or Mahathir is to be believed, this image of KJ must be fearsome to encounter.

    Yet another image

    There’s no compelling reason to accept just one of these images. A politician, as the Chinese say, speaks out of both sides of the mouth, and in mass politics an aspiring leader seeks to be all things to all men.

    Yet, this much is already apparent of KJ. He seems to represent the future; yet his recent politics was stuck with a Malay nationalism that Mahathir made obsolete before he retired. KJ is careful to remain in the public eye but his ways are so self-absorbed he can’t cut a truly public figure.

    Put these together and there’s KJ the ‘MyTeam’ manager, the ‘Mat Rempit’ patron, the basher of the Penang government and, not least, the ‘Out of the Cage’ columnist for the New Straits Times.

    Try a different way of seeing things. Compare KJ with Anwar and Mahathir when the latter two were just immersing themselves in politics.

    Beside them, KJ looks young, too young to merit a serious evaluation as a politician, and too early into his career to know just where and how things are going.

    UMNO's tents

    Naturally KJ and his allies will dispute the point about an obsolete Malay nationalism. After all, UMNO is strong again and many of its keris-waving leaders cling to an unfinished agenda.

    KJ himself didn’t doubt UMNO’s relevance. He shopped around, politically speaking, but rejected PAS and Keadilan. ‘When all those around me in 1999 ran away,’ he wrote, he entered ‘the big tent that is UMNO’.

    Five years later, KJ was deputy chief of the lesser tent of UMNO Youth in circumstances publicly related by Abdullah: ‘Hisha-muddin says, “The Youth have decided, I have decided, I want to nominate Khairy for Youth deputy head, Pak Lah don’t disturb, this is Youth affairs”.’

    In UMNO Youth’s history, KJ’s rise was not as spectacular as Anwar’s defeat of Suhaimi Kamaruddin for the UMNO Youth presidency in 1982, barely a year after Anwar had joined UMNO.

    But, by 1982, the ideological impact, organisational assets and popular standing Anwar had gained from leading ABIM, protesting in Baling, languishing in Kamunting, and heading the anti-Societies Act movement had made him a youth of international prominence.

    KJ in 2004 was still best known as Abdullah’s son-in-law. No one really knew what he stood for other than a presumed association with his father-in-law’s reformist intentions and election promises.

    Stark contrast

    Young man Mahathir, using the pseudonym of C.H.E. Det, wrote a number of essays for the Straits Times. The C.H.E. Det essays explored the Malay world, noted its changes, explained its problems, and argued its case. One notable piece outlined what Mahathir later called the ‘Malay dilemma’.

    Reading those essays, one wouldn’t learn the writer’s identity. But one encountered a coherent Malay worldview and an articulate young voice of Malay nationalism. The C.H.E. Det essays ended a quarter of a century before KJ was born.

    A regular reader of ‘Out of the Cage’ will soon notice that KJ’s column in NST is mostly about KJ – how he’s grown up in politics, his sponsorship of MyTeam, his problems with Mahathir, and so on.

    In his piece on MyTeam, for example, KJ spoke of feeling ‘pumped up’ as if ‘I was ordering a battalion into war’; scolding ‘pea-brained political opportunists who suggested that MyTeam supporters were unpatriotic’; never allowing MyTeam to ‘challenge the Football Association of Malaysia or turn Malaysians against the national team’; and believing ‘MyTeam has succeeded’.

    In another essay, he said of himself: ‘You choose this life less ordinary because you want to stand up and be counted. You took the plunge because you have something to say. Say it. Do it. And never stop fighting until the fight is done. Light the fire.’

    Such a homily might more suitably have been delivered by an older person. Here it’s part of KJ’s defending his decision to be a politician with no sense of irony: ‘We owe it to this great profession [sic] to make it the career of choice for the best, brightest and most principled.’

    Whereas C.H.E. Det’s essays were original, refreshing and bold, KJ’s insights in ‘Out of the Cage’ scarcely rise above platitudes: ‘Politics is not about power, position or personal wealth. Politics is a process in which we can make a difference to others. Politics is that fire in your belly that makes you want to change the world. Politics is about the contestation of ideas.’

    Evidently, one can stay out of the cage without thinking outside the box.

    Style mesti ada

    To say that ‘Out of the Cage’ reveals a KJ wrapped up in himself is not to take sides in UMNO’s old or current battles.

    It’s to show a widening gulf between KJ’s concerns and the substance and style of his Malay nationalism when the pressure from The Spat mounted. To be precise, his responses to the pressure showed little substance but style of a sort ill suited to the contexts.

    KJ baited the Barisan Nasional’s Chinese-based component parties by warning UMNO that the non-Malays would take advantage of ‘Malay disunity’. He contrived this although Chinese parties and organisations, save Matthias Chang who represented himself, had steered clear of The Spat.

    Next, and aided by the Penang UMNO Youth, KJ bashed the Gerakan-led government in Penang for ‘marginalizing the Malays’. Again, this was contrivance.

    Didn’t KJ know that UMNO is more powerful than Gerakan even in the state government?

    Couldn’t he reason that if Malay economic parity with non-Malays was Penang’s problem, Gerakan had no more failed here than UMNO had in the whole country despite UMNO’s control of the Federal government, state governments and incomparably greater resources?

    A sandiwara predictably followed. An apology was demanded of KJ.

    He shrugged it off in the imperious manner of George Bush, Sr who in 1988 said, ‘I will never apologise for the United States, ever. I don’t care what the facts are.’

    KJ’s response was, ‘It never crossed my mind to apologise to those who are hurt by what I said in Kedah last week. For me, if we truly fight for our race, one should not apologise.’

    Power means never...

    Does that sound like ‘My bangsa, right or wrong’? Don’t be deceived. It was ‘Myself, like it or not’.

    Compare that with KJ’s reflection on his maturation: ‘You don’t say the first thing that comes to your mind but say the right thing …You are more mindful of others and think about consequences that are three or four times removed from your action.’

    Although UMNO habitually and aggressively demanded apologies for any imagined hurt to ‘Malay dignity’, no UMNO elder scolded KJ for not being ‘more mindful of others’.

    On the contrary, PM, himself a veteran MP from Penang, instructed the Penang government to review its plans so that Malays aren’t neglected in the state. Najib Tun Razak advised Koh Tsu Koon to be ‘Chief Minister of all races’. And Hishamuddin Hussein, too, was there for KJ – to scowl at MCA (‘Do not challenge us!’) and lecture Gerakan (‘Something must be not right if the Penang UMNO Youth made such a statement.’).

    Is it any wonder that The Khairy Chronicles are full of episodes detailing how KJ calls the shots in UMNO and the government to everyone else’s consternation?

    Perhaps panicked by Mahathir, KJ lashed out against soft targets. Clearly KJ didn’t think he behaved like a ‘little Napoleon’ who, still ‘wet behind his ears’, to use his own words, had violated his ‘probationary licence’ by ‘shaking the tree when there was no wind’.

    Perhaps fearful of UMNO’s own discord, KJ wouldn’t risk opening another front in an intra-Malay battle. If not, why didn’t he go after PAS for fishing in UMNO’s troubled waters? Why didn’t he attack Keadilan when Anwar called for an end to NEP?

    Mistaken tactics

    Times change and youth may think differently but KJ’s capers have nothing to do with Malay nationalism, as C.H.E. Det or Anwar or Musa Hitam or Tengku Razaleigh knew it. We only flatter KJ to mention him with them.

    KJ is no C.H.E. Det who, planted on Malay soil, framed a view of Malay society and economy and formulated a basic solution to the ‘Malay dilemma’. Nor is KJ the young Anwar who drew upon Islam and a firm footing in civil society as the sources of social criticism and activism.

    In contrast, KJ riles his BN partners and bashes Penang as if he’s staging media events and publicity stunts on par with sponsoring socceroos and mingling with bikies. His is an approach that passes off theatrics for politics.

    No doubt many Malaysian politicians reach for the ethnic card when they’re in trouble. This time around, Mahathir flashed the ethnic card just as opportunistically, for instance, by attacking ‘non-Malay editors’ in NST and elsewhere.

    But did KJ expect his tactics to succeed in mending ‘Malay disunity’ where Mahathir’s diversionary attack on Suqiu had failed in 2000? If so, KJ is nowhere near having the substance to confront the one target that matters – Mahathir.

    Listen to this: ‘When defining moments come along, by all means define that [sic] moment … But beware how you define it … And avoid trying to define the moment so much and without any thought that in the end, it defines you.’

    Is this philosophic wisdom dumbing itself down for the rakyat, or plain gobbledygook?

    In fact, it was KJ’s pondering Zizou’s self-destructive World Cup Final head-butting, and Peter Costello’s self-defeating claim of a ‘secret agreement’ between him and Prime Minister John Howard of Australia.

    Actually it was a most oblique attack on Mahathir’s allegation that Abdullah had reneged on their ‘gentleman’s agreement’ made before Mahathir’s retirement.

    But if that’s an indication that KJ won’t face Mahathir squarely the way Mahathir engages his opponents, there’s no point in further wondering whether KJ will ‘out-Malay’ Mahathir. He won’t, because he can’t.

    Beyond the spat

    The mainstream media has it that Mahathir has reached the end of his mission. He failed to be elected a delegate from Kubang Pasu to UMNO’s next annual general assembly. It’s said that he’d lowered his martabat for nothing.

    The pro-Mahathir online media thinks Abdullah’s television interview was flawed and KJ’s been wounded and had to retreat. He was heckled at Titiwangsa UMNO Youth Division, and Abdullah, Najib and Hisha-muddin have had to come to his defence more than once.

    Whatever is the present score in The Spat, we don’t need more personalised images of KJ.

    But we should note that KJ stands at this juncture for a social type, namely, an NEP-created Melayu Baru

    In class terms, this urban, yuppie and corporate class feels superior not only to the masses but the Asian crisis-humiliated tokoh korporat of Mahathir-Daim sponsorship and the older and humbler UMNO ‘grassroots’ as well.

    This class now operates in the borders between state and market. It would prefer not to be overly dependent on the state, but it’s unwilling to face the market frontally.

    Hence, for all the talk of removing crutches and creating towering personalities, the social type of this class resents being ‘backward’ at home and fears being ‘uncompetitive’ abroad.

    Socially, this class has detached itself from the rural Malays, the lower-level civil servants and the self-employed in small business. But, politically, this class must stay connected to them via UMNO and ‘Malay nationalism’.

    Were he not the PM’s son-in-law, KJ’s urban, yuppie, corporate and liberal inclinations would not have much in common with his father-in-law’s small-town, civil service and religious intuitions.

    That each of them comforts the other amidst Mahathir’s onslaught lends a sharp edge to The Spat which is no less than a political ‘disorder’ that has erupted between the slow passing of the Mahathir era and the unsecured birth of Abdullah’s.

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