Dec 24, 2008

Altantuya case not over yet for Razak Baginda

Lawyer Karpal Singh, acting on behalf of Altantuya Shaariibuu's family, has filed an application at the Shah Alam High Court to compel the prosecution to appeal against the acquittal of political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda.
SHAH ALAM: Lawyer Karpal Singh filed an application at the High Court here on Wednesday to quash the Attorney-General’s (AG) decision not to appeal Abdul Razak Baginda’s acquittal of an abetment charge in the murder of Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Karpal said the application was filed at noon on behalf of Altantuya’s father Dr Shaariibuu Setev.

He said they were asking the court to quash the AG’s decision not to appeal the acquittal and to direct the AG to use his discretion under Article 145 (3) of the Federal Constitution to apply for leave and file an appeal in the case.

He said the application for leave was necessary since the 14-day period to file for an appeal against the Oct 31 acquittal had expired on Nov 14.

“We have 40 days to file our application and today was the final day for us to do so,” he told reporters at the court lobby here Wednesday.

He said the application also called for Abdul Razak to be taken under custody for the duration of the appeal against his acquittal or then be released on bail.

Justice Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin acquitted and discharged Abdul Razak, 48, without calling for his defence on Oct 31.

Lead prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah announced two weeks later that the prosecution would not appeal against the acquittal as the Shah Alam High Court, which acquitted Abdul Razak, had made a finding of fact in its decision.

Karpal said the application, although the first filed against an AG over the use of his discretion, was based on law as anyone allowed to use discretion in making decisions had to work within set perimeters.

“Discretion must be used fairly and reasonably and not arbitrarily, so we are asking the court to state by way of judicial review that the AG’s discretion can be questioned in a court of law.

“After the amendment to the Federal Constitution, even the rulers are subject to the law and I cannot see how the AG can be exempted, to act as he pleases without anyone to question the manner in which he exercises his discretion,” he said.

He said in view of the public interest in the case, he would also apply for an early date for the application to be heard and for the court to decide if it had the jurisdiction to question the discretion of the AG.

Dec 20, 2008

Tun Mahathir Glad IJN Not Privatised

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he seldom opposed privatisation but the exception he made was Sime Darby’s proposal to buy over the National Heart Institute (IJN).

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 (Bernama) -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is glad the government has decided to defer the privatisation of the National Heart Institute (IJN).

The former prime minister said in the first place, he did not think the privatisation of the institute was a good idea since it "was a unique foundation" based on its good work todate.

"There has not been any complaint on the IJN. They have performed extremely well. Serving the rich and the poor. Everyone benefitted from IJN, including myself," he told reporters after receiving RM150,000 from the foreign ministry, on behalf of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War which he chairs.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim presented the cheque to Dr Mahathir at the Al-Bukhary Foundation here Friday.

He said the government should only privatise anything it owned, only if there was a good reason "but otherwise, it is not healthy."

It was reported that Sime Darby had made a proposal to the government to acquire equity in IJN Holdings Sdn Bhd, the operator of IJN.

IJN is currently the leading medical heart centre in the region and is 99.99 per cent owned by the Finance Ministry.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced Friday that the deal had been postponed until an indepth review was undertaken by the relevant ministries.

On another note, Dr Mahathir said he was unable to reveal the list of Umno candidates involved in money politics, due to lack of proof.

"I have to study the allegations. There is a lot of heresay. They (delegates) can give me names but no concrete details like where, how much and all. We need brave people to come forward and reveal. Some complain but they are not brave enough to reveal the culprits," he said.

Last month, Dr Mahathir, who is also former Umno president, had said he would reveal names of candidates involved in money politics in the run-up to the party election which is slated for March next year.

He said Umno, the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional, could come up with several committees or boards to curb money politics but it would be useless as there were no "brave witnesses willing to reveal details of the offence".

"We need to get the culprits and it should be without any reasonable doubt. We don't want an innocent party taking the blame," added Dr Mahathir.

On another topic, he said there were instances where the Bar Council had indirectly lobbied for certain people to be appointed judges.

"Now, they are asking that they pick the judges. That can't be because once those chosen by the Bar is made a judge, he or she would be directly indebted to the Bar Council and this may interfere in the disposal of justice," he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has called on the government not to hastily rush into allowing the private sector to acquire stakes in IJN.

In welcoming the announcement over the postponement of Sime Darby Bhd's proposed acquisition in IJN Holdings Sdn Bhd, the operator of IJN, MMA president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin said the government should get feedback and views from the public and non-governmental organisations before making any decision.

"We are worried that when a private company takes over, the welfare of the poor will be ignored and they might not get health treatment at a lower rate.

"We are concerned because the bottom line in any commercial undertaking is to make profit as they are answerable to the shareholders...they cannot go and make a loss.

"IJN is the jewel for heart patients in this is accessible to poor heart patients," he told Bernama.

Dec 19, 2008

Tun Mahathir : Be fair and sensible when blogging

“The blog gives you an opportunity to express yourselves in your own words and you will improve over time whenever you repeatedly write, you acquire better skills. In my eyes, blogging on the Internet would be an opportunity for people to learn how to write,” Tun Mahathir said.

KUALA LUMPUR: Blogs should not be censored as long as bloggers are responsible in their writing, said former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said this when answering a question from the public at a book- signing session hosted by Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd and MPH Bookstores at Midvalley Megamall here yesterday.

“Bloggers should make fair comments in their articles and not undermine others,” he said after signing 100 copies of his illustrated biography titled Mahathir Mohamad: An illustrated biography and a book based on his blog titled - Blogging to Unblock.

“As long as you don’t threaten to kill people in your blog, there shouldn’t be any censorship,” he added.

Dr Mahathir said blogs also provided a platform for people to express themselves and brush up on their writing skills.

Also present at the event were Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Mohd Bisharuddin Noor Basha, editor-in-chief Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, MPH Group director Datuk Dr Abdullah Abdul Rahman and chief executive officer Datuk Ng Tieh Chuan.

JERIT protesters defy police ban and cycle to parliament

A group of activists escorted by opposition MPs defied a police ban to cycle to Parliament today and present a list of demands including the repeal of the Internal Security Act.
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian activists escorted by opposition MPs defied a police ban to cycle to parliament Thursday and present a list of demands including the repeal of a tough security law.

The activists, who have spent 16 days pedalling across the country, were blocked by police who deployed scores of officers, threw up barricades at the entrance of parliament and warned organisers their action was illegal.

But a band of 10 cyclists crossed the police line after opposition lawmakers intervened and said it was their democratic right to demand social and political reforms, despite police not giving permission for the protest.

Scores of supporters wearing red T-shirts and carrying banners reading "Cyclists for Change" shouted "Long live the people" as the activists rode into the grounds of parliament.

Among their demands are the scrapping of security laws that allow for detention without trial, the introduction of a minimum monthly wage of 1,500 ringgit (429 dollars), lower food prices and housing for the poor.

Some 130 activists including school children launched the cross-nation biking campaign on December 3, led by the "Coalition of Oppressed People" (Jerit), which champions equality and human rights.

Malaysia's lawyers' group accused the police of intimidating the protesters, and said one person was arrested at parliament Thursday.

"The Bar Council is appalled at the harassment and intimidation from the police directed at participants of the Jerit campaign," vice-president Ragunath Kesavan said in a statement.

"We must accept the peaceful expression of views, even those that are not always palatable, as a legitimate part of the democratic process."

Police on Monday detained 57 participants including 28 children and teenagers in an attempt to end the cycling protest. They were later freed.

During the campaign, organisers said that their bicycles were set on fire by unknown individuals and stones thrown at the vehicle accompanying them.

"The aim of this campaign is important. People are suffering. The government must address the problems which are real," said A. Kalishwaran, a 16-year-old participant who said he was held overnight by police.

Malaysia's coalition government has faced unprecedented opposition over the past year, culminating in March general elections that produced its worst results in half a century.

Dec 15, 2008

Tun Mahathir Spray Case Posponed As Nik Sapiea Had A Slipped Disc

KOTA BAHARU: The magistrate's court here Monday (15 Dec) postponed Datuk Nik Sapiea Nik Yusoff's defence against a charge of injuring former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to 18-19 March next year.

Magistrate Azman Mustapha said the case had to be postponed as Nik Sapiea had taken sick leave from 13-17 Dec while the case was supposed to continue Monday.

Nik Sapiea's wife Datin Dr Suryani Yahya said her husband had undergone out-patient treatment at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur on 13 Dec after complaining of back pain due to a slipped disc.

Businessman Nik Sapiea, 53, and three others were charged with injuring Dr Mahathir by spraying a substance at the Sultan Ismail Petra airport at Pengkalan Chepa here at 11am on 28 July 2006.

"He is on leave but well. I am here just to send in the medical certificate," she said.

Nik Sapiea was charged under Section 324 of the Penal Code that provides for jail up to three years, fine or whipping or any two upon conviction.

Dec 14, 2008

Tun Mahathir - Leaders must take charge

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 13 — Leaders must be brave enough to take risks and decide on a suitable course of action when faced with challenges, said former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said that a credible and intelligent leader must be in the frontline to lead his subordinates and not just give orders from behind the scene.

He said leaders not only make rational decisions, but must also consider the views and sentiments of the community without putting aside what the majority wanted.

“What usually happens is, people are good leaders before they get power, but when they get it they change.

“Some think they can do whatever they want once they get power,” he said at the Leadership and Intercultural Relationship and Understanding programme with Multimedia University students at the Perdana Leadership Foundation today.

Dr Mahathir said that such leaders were only interested in personal gain and did not care much about fulfilling the country’s vision.

“It is important for leaders to always be aware of their surroundings. If not, they will lead without direction or purpose,” he said.

Citing a general at war as an example, Dr Mahathir said they must always be in the frontline, even if it meant putting their lives in danger.

“Being in the frontline we face all kinds of dangers and may be sacrificed, but that is the challenge and risk we need to bravely face.

“Those who lead from behind the scenes will not face the danger and they will not be aware of what their subordinates are going through. They will end up making decisions that are not sound or rational,” he said.

Dec 11, 2008

Tun Mahathir thinks Vision 2020 not likely to happen

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 11 - Will Malaysia achieve its target of becoming a developed country by 2020?

Unlikely, says the architect of that vision.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad blamed the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, the current global economic turmoil and policies of the Abdullah administration for his stark assessment.

He made this observation during a question and answer session at a forum on the current market volatility in Putrajaya today.

Dr Mahathir noted that during the last crisis in 1997, the government had twin objectives: to ensure economic growth but at the same time protect social cohesion. That is why the government rejected the remedies suggested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which would have included liberalizing the economy.

This strategy has not been followed by the present administration which was weak.

"For 50 years political stability was what attracted investors. Now a weak government has tried to regain popularity by pandering to the demands of extremists. The floodgates are open and all kinds of sensitive issues are being debated. The result is the resurgence of racism on the part of all ethnic groups, " he said.

In such a climate of instability, it will be difficult for the government to tackle the economic downturn.

"The fear of political repercussions will prevent the government from seeking decisive or unpopular measures, " said Dr Mahathir, who has slammed the Hindu Rights Action Force for making excessive demands and non-Malay politicians for revisiting the social contract issue.

The country has been in a state of flux since March 8 when the Pakatan Rakyat shocked Barisan Nasional by denying the ruling coalition their customary two-thirds majority in Parliament and taking control of five states. Dr Mahathir has blamed the weak leadership of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for BN's poor performance and campaigned for his resignation.

Dr Mahathir yesterday dismissed the government's RM7 billion stimulus package, saying that spreading a few billion ringgit would not be effective in heading off the economic slowdown.

Dec 3, 2008

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim sacked from Umno

Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was sacked from Umno late last night for breaking the party's code of ethics. Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi who chaired the party supreme council meeting that lasted more than three hours said Zaid's attendance at opposition events was inappropriate. "It is against the party's code of ethics," said Abdullah when asked to elaborate on Zaid's sacking.
(Malaysiakini) Umno Supreme Council today sacked Zaid Ibrahim from the party for attending opposition events.

Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made the announcement at about 11.30pm after chairing the supreme council meeting at party headquarters in Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Abdullah did not give any details of the opposition events that Zaid had attended.

The supreme council meeting started at 8.30pm and Zaid's participation in the opposite camp was among the main agenda for the day.

To a question by reporters, Abdullah said that Zaid had no avenue to appeal against his dismissal.

"Once he has been sacked, there is no opportunity to appeal," said the prime minister during the 10-minute press conference.

Also present at the press conference were his deputy Najib Abdul Razak and party secretary general Tengku Adnan Mansor.

When asked if Zaid had provoked this sort of action from the party by being seen with the opposition, Abdullah said:

"There were wrongdoings by Zaid as he was seen in the company of the opposition leaders. This is something which is against Umno ethics."

Nov 24, 2008

Tun Mahathir - Teaching of Science, Maths in English should continue

"We have to master the learning of these subjects in English first. Right now, all the research in science and technology is written in English." He said that learning the subjects in English would benefit the Malays and make them more competitive. He was speaking at a dialogue entitled "Malay Dilemma" organised by the Federation of National Writers Associations here.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 – The teaching of science and mathematics in English should be continued to ensure Malaysian students, especially the Malays, are not left behind, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said the change to teach the two subjects in English from Bahasa Malaysia was to ensure students could master them and at the same time become more proficient in English, the number one language in the world.

“It is not aimed at neglecting Bahasa Malaysia. Furthermore, most publications on science and mathematics are in English.

“Take for example the cellular phone. If foreigners manufacture them equipped with cameras and the short-messaging facility but the manual is in English, can we used our science which is in Bahasa Malaysia to make the same hand phone? By the time we are done with the translation we will be left far behind,” he said at the “Malay Dilemma” discourse organised by the National Writers Association (Gapena) here today.

He also cited the dark ages of the Arabs where they had to learn everything from the Greeks.

“Obviously they could not ask the Greeks to translate their knowledge into Arabic. The solution then was for them to learn Greek so that they could have access to the knowledge in their possession. By doing this, the Arabs became a progressive race,” he said, adding that the same applied in the current scenario in the country.

He also said being proficient in two languages was a great asset and cited himself as an example.

“I studied in a Malay school for two years before my father transferred me to an English school. Thereafter all my education was in English. Did I lose my ability to use Bahasa Malaysia?

“It will not signify the end of the Malay race if we are to learn in English as well,” he said. – Bernama

Nov 23, 2008

Tun Mahathir warns of the new Malay dilemma of money politics

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would make good his promise to name Umno election candidates involved in money politics if the party’s disciplinary board fails to take the necessary action against them. He said all complaints on money politics forwarded to him by members have been sent to the disciplinary board for further action.

KUALA LUMPUR: The new Malay dilemma will be who to vote for in the next general election, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

Given a choice between an Umno which he claims is corrupt and an Opposition party that may not guarantee Malay rights, Dr Mahathir said they would have three options in the 13th general election.

“You could vote for Umno but then that would mean you would be endorsing corruption,” he said in reference to the alleged rampant money politics in the ruling Malay party.

“The alternative is to vote for Pakatan Rakyat. But can we be sure they will protect Malay rights?”

Dr Mahathir said the third option would be to not vote at all but by doing so the possibility of Umno being returned to power was high.

He said that the March 8 election result was the direct result of those unhappy with the ruling coalition giving their vote to the Opposition.

“Party leaders are so taken into the culture of money politics because they had been given positions, titles or money that they support without question,” he said at a forum on the Malay Dilemma organised by the Federation of National Writers Association (Gapena).

“That is why there is this transition of power in March next year. They are finding the easy way out with no confrontation so they can save the face of this or that person.”

Dr Mahathir said the dilemma could not be solved unless Umno is clean.

Nov 20, 2008

Najib never met Altantuya - Razak Baginda

Speaking to the media for the first time since his acquittal from the Altantuya murder case, Abdul Razak said that neither Najib nor his wife, Rosmah, had met the Mongolian woman.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda said today that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had never met his Mongolian lover Altantuya Shaariibuu who was brutally murdered two years ago.

"I know that Najib and his wife had never met the deceased Altantuya," Abdul Razak told a packed press conference at a hotel here today and pleaded for the media and the public to stop spreading "lies about Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife."

He said that those who have slandered the Deputy Prime Minister and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor can "never produce authentic evidence because there is none."

Abdul Razak was recently acquitted of the charge of abetting in the murder of Altantuya in one of the country's most sensational murder trials.

While Abdul Razak was acquitted, two policemen are still facing trial for the murder.

Pressed today on how he knew Najib had never met Altantuya, Abdul Razak simply replied: "I know."

His relationship with Najib and the sensational nature of the murder in which Altantuya's body was blown to bits with C4 explosives have sparked allegations and numerous questions over possible political conspiracies.

Najib and Rosmah have been the subject of often wild allegations about their involvement.

This has resulted in a smear on the record of Najib, who was recently elected unopposed as Umno president and is expected to become the next Prime Minister in March.

Today his friend and adviser Abdul Razak attempted to help clear his name.

Hoping to "close one chapter of my life and open a new chapter", he expressed frustration that "many have jumped on the bandwagon of skullduggery. The innocents have become the victim while the liars are running supreme."

With several relatives including his father present, Abdul Razak reiterated that he was innocent and was in fact "caught in the system, the system puts you in and the system will get you out."

He said that there was no link between the deceased and the submarine deal which has been the subject of widespread speculation as the motive for the murder of Altantuya.

He said the "purported deal" was inked in June 2002 but he had only met the deceased in late 2004.

"Everyone is lazy and did not check the facts. I fail to see the connection. These are vicious lies," he said.

He was also visibly agitated at a suggestion that he was still not exonerated in the court of public opinion.

Remarking at how the media blows up "people power" with references to recent uprisings in Thailand, he retorted by asking: "Is that democracy? If you talk about 500 people in the streets as opposed to a population of 100 million? If I have money and I pay everyone RM10 and I get 100,000 people out in the streets to protest against the government, is that public opinion? Blimey, that is not public opinion that is manipulation."

"You talk about it as if it is a coherent consensus. I do not want to pander to so-called public opinion. Can a blogger reflect public opinion? Then I can run you down as well, mate," he sniped.

Lifting up a tape recorder, he said if the press chose to report him as holding a gun or whisky, he could not be responsible for that.

Abdul Razak also said that he has had no contact with Najib since his release.

"I have not met him, seen him, spoken to him, SMSed him, e-mailed him. Not at all," he exclaimed.

He clarified his relationship with Najib, saying that it has "evolved" since it began professionally in the ‘90s, and they have since become personal friends but he has never held an official position with Najib as a member of his staff and could not be classified as an "aide" as was often reported.

Abdul Razak, however, said he felt Najib would make a very good Prime Minister as he is a well-read person and attuned to global affairs but he was not interested in becoming a member of Najib's staff as he is "quite happy with my freedom at the moment."

He said his immediate concern now was to return to Britain as he was a doctorate student at Oxford and had submitted in September 2006 his dissertation which was placed on hold due to his arrest.

He bristled at a suggestion that he would not return.

"Why the hell should I run away, I am innocent. You will see me back in a few months after I get my doctorate unless I get a cushy job like the Prime Minister of the UK," he quipped.

He also refused to comment on several issues such as why he was implicated in the first place, his relationship with the two accused police officers and why he dropped prominent lawyer Datuk Shafee Abdullah when he was finally charged with abetting the two police officers, saying that a trial is still proceeding and legal ethics had to be adhered to.

He, however, denied that he had met Altantuya at a party as reported in the media and said that a photo of him, Najib and the deceased was doctored.

As for the recently leaked text message exchange between Najib and Shafee which led to claims of abuse of power, he said that by that time he was already in remand and he could not imagine how there could be a suggestion of interference.

"How can there be any intervention if I went through all that? God almighty, come on," he said.

He added that while he was sympathetic to the family of the deceased, he has never met them and if they chose to bring the matter to an international court, it was up to them.

Abdul Razak also expressed surprise that he has not become "a leper”.

"A lot of people came to wish me all the best and congratulate me. Of course, when I walk around I hear people whispering but that's obvious."

Nov 18, 2008

Tun Mahathir - Bitter race politics still prevails

"Malaysian politics have not been decoupled from racial sentiments and loyalties. And it is going to remain so for as long as the different races prefer to be separated and divided, prefer to strongly uphold their languages, cultures and their historical origins and links" - Tun Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 - Malaysia is witnessing an explosion of racial politics that is more bitter and blatant than ever before, says former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed.

Writing in his blog, he claimed that "even the least observant cannot fail to notice how Malaysian politics now is more about racial inequities than about liberalism, human rights and openness."

"Malaysian politics have not been decoupled from racial sentiments and loyalties. And it is going to remain so for as long as the different races prefer to be separated and divided, prefer to strongly uphold their languages, cultures and their historical origins and links," he said while claiming that talk of reforms and liberalism was mere lip service.
While he conceded that there is now discussion on the Internal Security Act, the most bitter and angry debates were on Malay privileges, the social contract, the Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister being Malays, UMNO bullying, Chinese being immigrants and about Malay dominance.

"Even the criticisms regarding the way judges are appointed or promoted have elements of race that is hardly disguised," he added.

He wrote this in yet another attack on his successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi's leadership of Barisan Nasional.

He rationalised that the losses suffered in the March 8 general election by the governing coalition were not due to a rejection of racial politics but due to PM Abdullah's weak administration.

"Foreign observers and many in this country were jubilant because they claimed that it marked the demise of racial politics and racial parties in Malaysia.

"If it is because the Malaysian electorate had rejected racial politics, why did they vote for such parties as PAS, a very Malay Muslim party, and DAP, a Chinese dominated party?

"Even PKR is made up of Chinese dissatisfied with the MCA's representation of the Chinese in BN, self-serving Malays who could not find a place in the other Malay parties and violently racist Hindraf

Indians," he said referring to the recently outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force and adding that PKR were "anti-Malay" racists.

Dr Mahathir, who was Prime Minister for 22 years, instead said that the opposition's success in the general elections was due to "the defection by BN party members which resulted in the opposition parties, regardless of the quality of their candidate, getting the large number of votes to win so many more seats than they or anybody else expected."

Nov 14, 2008

Every second with Pak Lah spells doom for Umno

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed today blamed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi for the corruption which he says is rife in Umno. He said the new Umno leadership would have to work hard to repair what he described as the damages inflicted on the country by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's administration.

(Malaysiakini) Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad continued to attack his handpicked successor although Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had agreed to hand over the reins next March.

"Three months is not a long time," he conceded, but on the same note added: "(Taking into account) the present Umno and national politics, a lot of rehabilitation efforts will be affected by this baseless postponement (of power transition)."

"This is because the damage inflicted by Abdullah on Umno is so severe that every second rehabilitation is delayed could have a negative impact on the party and Barisan Nasional," he noted in his latest blog posting.

According to Mahathir, Umno and BN component parties have been reduced to tatters in the five years under Abdullah.

He also pointed out that as long as Abdullah remained at the helm, it would affect premier-in-waiting Najib Abdul Razak's efforts to "rehabilitate all that needs to be rehabilitated".

"Maybe there are those who would defend Abdullah by claiming that the damage had been there for a long time and it was inherited by him.

"If this true, then why was Umno and BN given a 2/3 majority in every general election since 1974?" asked the former premier who stepped down in 2003 after leading the nation for 22 years.

He also underscored the fact that the ruling coalition had never failed to control the states of Kedah, Perak and Selangor as well as Penang since Gerakan joined BN.

Nov 13, 2008

Nazri to Tun Mahathir : Don't be 'celupar'

Umno supreme council member Nazri Abdul Aziz has done it again. This time he has asked Tun Mahathir not to be "big mouthed" aka 'celupar'.

(Malaysiakini) Umno supreme council member Nazri Abdul Aziz had a go at former Umno president Dr Mahathir Mohamad for insinuating that a candidate for deputy president was into money politics - saying that the octogenarian was too ‘celupar’ (big-mouthed).

Yesterday Dr Mahathir suggested that money politics has found its way to the party’s number two contest, to be decided in March party polls.

"I think there is a lot of hanky-panky going on. When you know that someone has a bad history is still getting support, I think that bad history has relevance to his support," he said without naming who the jibe was intended for.

It is widely seen as an attack on Rural and Regional Development Minister Muhammad Muhd Taib.

Nazri - a minister in the prime minister’s department - said the former premier should not be too ‘celupar’.

"This is very serious, he should not be too ‘celupar’ and claim things without any basis because the candidates and the parties will suffer the consequences," he said when met by reporters in Parliament today.

Muhammad is vying for the seat against favourite International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin - who is Dr Mahathir’s choice - and Malacca chief minister Mohd Ali Rustam.

Nov 12, 2008

Tun Mahathir - Non-Malay PM is possible but not multiracial party

It does not matter if the Prime Minister is Malay or non-Malay, as long as he enjoys the trust of all Malaysians. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said there was no specification in the country that a Prime Minister must be a Malay.

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 12 - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today it is possible for anyone including the non-Malays to be the Prime Minister, but he warned against harping on the issue of having a non-Malay PM because that would itself be racist.

"When you talk about a non-Malay PM, you are being racist, because you shouldn't ask the question whether a Malay or non-Malay can be PM. Here everyone can become Prime Minister, but he must be a leader of the majority party," said Mahathir after delivering a keynote address entitled Bangsa Malaysia at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here.

He claimed that the situation in Malaysia was different from that of Singapore.

"It's very clear when (Singapore Prime Minister, Lee) Hsien Loong said non-Chinese cannot be the PM, they are very open, of course we say one thing, we do another thing," said Mahathir.

However he said Malaysia is not ready to have a truly multiracial political party.

"It doesn't work, every multiracial party is dominated by one race, like Gerakan and DAP. Even PAP in Singapore is not multiracial," said Mahathir.

He added even the opposition parties have failed to prove they are multiracial despite their repeated claims that racial politics has ended.

He said that the failure during his administration to unite vernacular and national schools under one roof is evidence that the people are not ready to be united.

On the imminent economic crisis Mahathir said the problem can only be solved with international cooperation.

"I can assure this is very difficult to handle. I have no confidence in Obama, what about Najib. This is too big for Obama and Najib. We need to change the system, to change the system, we need international cooperation," said Mahathir.

He said that the present system is open to all kinds of abuses.

"You have to have a system that is more solid, based on something that is more tangible. All currencies of the world were pegged to gold. But when the US decided to go off the gold, that is when things go out of control, because you can print any amount of money without any backing," said Mahathir.

Tun Mahathir - ‘Hanky-panky’ in Umno deputy president race

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today suggested the Internal Security Act (ISA) should be used against corrupt Umno members. He also backed Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the best candidate in the race for the Umno deputy presidency while suggesting that the other two challengers are involved in money politics.

PUTRAJAYA: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has raised questions over the credibility of candidates contesting the number two post in Umno, asking how a candidate with a “very bad history” qualified to contest at the last minute.

“There is a lot of hanky-panky. When you know someone with a very bad history is still getting support there is a strong possibility that money politics is involved because, somehow, someone has come from very far behind to catch up.

“At first, in the initial weeks, some people succeeded in garnering enough nominations while others remained at the bottom.

“Then, suddenly, nominations for these people shot up. Why?” he asked reporters after delivering a keynote address on “Bangsa Malaysia” at the Perdana Leadership Foundation yesterday.

There are currently three contenders in the deputy president’s race – Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is leading the pack with 91 nominations while Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam has 47 and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib has 46.

Muhyiddin was the first to qualify to contest the post and Dr Mahathir said he believed Muhyiddin was the best person for the job.

On money politics, Dr Mahathir said the only way to clamp down on the scourge in Umno was to investigate all the names listed in the 900 complaints received and then have them removed from the party.

“They should be thrown in jail. That is a good way to use the Internal Security Act and not against someone writing some nonsense.

“Umno must be cleaned up. If not, they will lose in the next general election,” he said.

Nov 4, 2008

Najib is unopposed as Umno president

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s unopposed win in the Umno presidential elections proves that the transition plan has been accepted, party vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said. He said it also indicated strong unity within Umno.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 – Datuk Seri Najib Razak won the contest for the Umno presidency unopposed today when he obtained the 134th nomination from the Batu Kawan division in Penang.

He has so far obtained an unassailable 136 nominations to Tengku Razaleigh's sole nomination from his Gua Musang division. A candidate needs 58 nominations from among the 191 divisions to contest the party presidency.

Najib will be officially declared as the party president during the Umno general assembly scheduled for March 24-28 next year.

His victory also paves the way for him to take over the premiership when Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi steps down.

After the supreme council meeting on Friday, Abdullah had said that he would need a few days after the assembly to sort things out before resigning as Prime Minister.

In 2004, Tengku Razaleigh made an attempt to challenge Abdullah for the party's top post but failed to qualify as he only obtained one nomination, also from the Gua Musang division.

In the deputy presidency contest, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is still the favourite, with 76 nominations, ahead of Datuk Seri Ali Rustam, who with 31 so far needs eight more to qualify.

Another contender, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib, has 28 after he received the bulk of the nominations from Selangor Umno divisions today. Puchong, Kota Raja, Kapar and Pandan nominated Muhammad for the number two post. The Cameron Highland division in Pahang also nominated Muhammad.

For the vice president posts, Tan Sri Isa Samad, who obtained the highest votes during party polls in 2004, needs one more nomination to join five other candidates who have qualified to contest.

Other candidates who have qualified are Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein with 105 nominations, Datuk Zahid Hamidi, 78, Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, 60, Datuk Shafie Apdal, 55 and Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, 24.

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Khir Toyo is now ahead of Khairy Jamaluddin in the contest for Umno Youth chief. The former Selangor Menteri Besar has so far obtained 56 nominations while Khairy has 51.

Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir still leads with 71 nominations.

The Umno divisional meetings will conclude next week, and the Kepala Batas division, headed by Abdullah, will meet on Nov 9.

Oct 30, 2008

Tun Mahathir is back with a vengeance

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — With a hit count reaching almost nine million in just one year, it would not be wrong to describe former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Malaysia's most successful blogger.

His blog,, routinely attracts hundreds of comments, and is frequently quoted by the mainstream media. Ironically, he started the blog only because he was blacked out in the media for his harsh criticism of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Five years to the day since his retirement in 2003, Dr Mahathir's influence seems to be growing steadily as Malaysia readies for a new prime minister by the end of March next year.

His every move is dissected for its significance. When he showed up at International Trade Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's Hari Raya open house last week, it stirred much excitement as it was perceived as an endorsement of the minister. This can count for a lot in the upcoming election in Umno, whose members still love him.

Is Dr Mahathir making a political comeback? Not exactly. But there is a strong belief that his influence is on the rise.

Observers suggest that he could have a big say in the next administration after he played a key role in securing the early retirement of Abdullah, who was blamed for the poor showing of the Barisan Nasional in the March polls.

Many believe that Dr Mahathir's skilful manoeuvres behind the scenes were instrumental in getting Deputy Premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak to persuade Abdullah to retire earlier than his original plan of June 2010. The whiff of resurgent power has sent Umno leaders and the media flocking to Dr Mahathir again, and he is back in the limelight after five years of being out in the cold.

“His views are being reported more widely, precisely because many people think that he will make a comeback,” said political analyst Ong Kian Ming.

Professor Agus Yusoff, from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, agreed that this was one perception, but felt that the bigger reason was the weakness of the current leadership.

“His views are being heard now because people are looking for better leadership. They see Dr Mahathir as experienced, and his views relevant,” he said.

Things have come full circle for Dr Mahathir, 82. His star dimmed soon after his retirement when Abdullah won a massive mandate in 2004. But the former premier soon sprang back into limelight after he began to give voice to public misgivings about Abdullah's weak administration.

His attacks gripped Malaysians for months in 2005, but they soon wore thin — until the March election that saw the BN suffer heavy losses. His campaign to topple his successor gained unstoppable momentum, returning him to a position of influence. Dr Mahathir's recent blog entry criticising the reach of vote-buying, or “money politics”, in Umno was debated widely in Umno circles.

His most recent acerbic comments on Najib's alleged young advisers sparked even more talk.

In a blog entry on Tuesday, he warned Najib not to repeat the mistake of cloistering himself with young advisers as Abdullah had, to the anger of Umno.

Dr Mahathir named consultancy firm Ethos as the Deputy Premier's adviser, and claimed that it also had links to Abdullah's young advisers.

“They (Ethos) are interested in getting a portion of the EPF worth RM300 billion to manage its investments, apparently with returns of up to 40 per cent,” he wrote, referring to the Employees Provident Fund.

The management of Ethos was quoted in The Edge business weekly recently about their interest in managing part of EPF investments. Najib has not responded.

Political observers believe that he will not marginalise the former premier, especially after seeing how Dr Mahathir's constant sniping damaged Abdullah's reputation.

“Najib will certainly prefer to have Dr Mahathir inside as an adviser rather than outside lobbing criticism at him,” said Ong.

This has led some people to predict a return of Mahathirism, suggesting a stronger hand on government than Abdullah's looser style. But Najib's supporters have denied this perception.

“Najib is not a puppet, he will have his own way and will want to make his own mark,” said Agus.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir's every move and word will continue to be watched, and his blog can expect to hit the 10 million mark very soon.

Oct 28, 2008

Tun Mahathir against abolishing Bumiputera equity

Malaysia should retain the 30% bumiputra equity in public-listed companies as the objectives of the New Economic Policy (NEP) have not been achieved yet, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 - Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad disagrees with the MCA’s proposal that the conditional 30 per cent Bumiputera equity ownership in public-listed companies be abolished.

He said this was not the right time to do so as the target for Bumiputera equity participation had not been achieved.

"If we have achieved the 30 per cent target for Bumiputeras, 40 per cent for non-Bumiputeras and 30 for foreigners, then we can do away with the condition," Dr Mahathir told reporters at the Malaysia Muslim Welfare Organisation (Perkim) Aidilfitri function here today.

“We have not reached that yet... there’s still a lot to be done. If we reduce it to 20 per cent today and it does not expand while the economy does, the Bumiputera equity participation will get smaller. We have to take all this into consideration.”.

Dr Mahathir, who is Perkim president, said although the equity ownership could be changed, the target for Bumiputeras needed to be protected.

“This is not a suitable time to make any adjustment as the world is in turmoil. It does not mean that if we abolish the equity quota it will make the companies stronger and more competitive.

“If we reduce the Bumiputera equity participation to 20 per cent, then the others must also reduce theirs,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the issue should have been brought to the Barisan Nasional’s attention as it was raised by a BN component party.

Yesterday, MCA vice-president Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the condition for 30 per cent Bumiputera equity in public-listed companies should be abolised in order for them to remain competitive.

Liow was also quoted as saying that the 30 per cent target set was a hindrance to the creation of true partnership between Malay, Chinese and Indian businessmen in the country.

Billion-ringgit Eurocopter deal suspended

The purchase of Eurocopter helicopters has been deferred. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the postponement is until the global economy improves.He said the decision was made two weeks ago by the Economic Council.

(Malaysiakini) Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today announced that the controversial multi-billion ringgit deal to buy a fleet of military helicopters has been suspended so that the money could be used for more pressing projects.

"We have decided not to purchase the helicopters. We need the allocation for other projects and the saving is very important for us."

Abdullah said that the purchase has been frozen "indefinitely" until the economy is in better shape.

At a press conference today, the outgoing PM who is also defence minister, revealed that the purchase price for the 12 Cougar EC725 helicopters from a Franco-German firm, Eurochopter, was RM1.7 billion, and not RM2.3 billion as reported earlier.

He also said the public accounts committee (PAC), a powerful parliamentary committee tasked to ensure that public funds are well spent, can continue with its two-day inquiry from tomorrow to look into the controversy.

According to the premier, the decision to delay the purchase was made by the National Economic Council's executive committee on Oct 13.

Oct 27, 2008

Ex-leader uses blog to needle Malaysian government

(IHT) KUALA LUMPUR: In a vast office at the top of one of the world's tallest buildings, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sits at a broad, glass-topped desk, scribbling his thoughts on a pad of unlined paper.

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

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

It is mainly a system of self-censorship in an atmosphere of pressure and intimidation that produces an obedient press and has seen the closure or banning of many publications.

"Where is the press freedom?" he exclaimed two years ago, apparently surprised to be suddenly ignored. "Broadcast what I have to say! What I say is not even accurately published in the press!"

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

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

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

Two months after that, in May, Mahathir went digital, cutting and thrusting with elan.

"It is time the so-called intellectuals realize they were being duped by the Master of Spin," he wrote on Aug. 21, referring to his bitter enemy, Anwar Ibrahim, who was his deputy prime minister and now leads the opposition.

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

Blogging on Sept. 3, he offered a sort of mission statement.

Many people are with him as he harasses the government, he asserted. "But they are not prepared to say it openly. That was why I started my blog. About six million had visited my blog site and tens of thousands have commented and supported me."

In case anyone doubts this, he posts the comments, by the dozens and hundreds, page after page, day after day. It turns out he has a lot of fans out there.

"Amazingly brilliant!" reads one comment. "I can't stop laughing... you made my day Sir!"

"HAHAHAHA :) ...This is your BEST posting so far, my dear Tun!!" reads another, referring to Mahathir by an honorific.

"Dearest Tun," reads another, "You are sooooo right.. spot on.. bulls eye.."

And just to clear up any possible misunderstanding, another writes: "You, sir, are the most brilliant politician Malaysia has ever been blessed with."

In the upheaval of the March election, several bloggers, following an opposite trajectory from that of Mahathir, used their online popularity to win seats in the national or state parliaments.

The most prominent was Jeff Ooi, 52, a former advertising copywriter who was one of Malaysia's first political bloggers, in 2003, at

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

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

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

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

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

Earlier this year, Ooi said, he attended a public forum with Mahathir, and he claims that he is the one who persuaded the old war horse to get blogging.

"I threw him a challenge," Ooi said. "A blogger shares a few prerequisites. One, he is strongly opinionated. Two, he could be controversial. And, thirdly, he is an agent provocateur on issues.

"I thought Mahathir fulfilled all three."

The result, Ooi said, was "a miracle, he scored about 10 million visitors within months."

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

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

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

Furthermore, locking people up is futile, he said in an interview in his sky-high office. There is no way the government can arrest all the bloggers, even if it wants to.

At least, he said, "I hope so. Otherwise I'll be in, too."

Oct 26, 2008

PM Abdullah ditches Eurocopters on gloomy economic outlook

Ever since the Eurocopters deal was published in Malaysia Today, there were much talks about it. Now after much controversies, ACA reports, and complaints from Opposition parties, the Eurocopters deal is finally off?.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 - Malaysia will ditch the RM2.3 billion Eurocopter defence deal as it battens down to face the global economic storm, sources said today.

Prime Minister and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi decided to cut out the EC725 military helicopter contract over the weekend when the government reviewed its expenses in light of falling revenues from crude oil and palm oil and slowing economic growth for the next few years.

"The Eurocopter deal is off due to the bleak economic times ahead," a source told The Malaysian Insider.

Opposition leaders and critics had savaged the purchase of the dozen EC725 helicopters, saying its RM193 million price tag per aircraft was more than double of Brazil's contract for 50 EC725 helicopters, which came tom RM84 million per aircraft. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it will investigate the deal.

Abdullah had earlier said he will investigates claims of irregularities over the purchase of military helicopters after company representing a rival military chopper, the Kazan MI-172, said it offered to sell a dozen helicopters at RM898 million, RM1.5 billion less than the Eurocopter deal.

But the Kazan MI-172 is expected to be phased out of production soon although it shares similarities with the current Nuri helicopter fleet, particularly its rear ramp door that is used for troop and materiel transport.

Opposition parties had also lodged reports with the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) asking for investigations as the tender was allegedly awarded before evaluations were completed and two days before Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak swapped the defence portfolio with Abdullah.

The government earlier through a Cabinet meeting on July 18, 2007 had made the decision to acquire new helicopters to replace the Nuri aircraft following a series of crashes for the ageing transport helicopters in the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

The Nuri or Sikorsky S-61A-4 came into Malaysian service in 1968. The medium transport aircraft has suffered 18 crashes and killed 95 servicemen and is due to be phased out in 2012. There reportedly only 31 left in RMAF service

However, sources said the Nuris would have been pressed into service with the Army Air Wing if the EC725s arrived on time. The Eurocopter EC725 or Cougar is a medium lift helicopter that is used for combat search and rescue missions.

The Cougar, which can carry up to 29 soldiers, beat out the Sikorsky H-92, the AgustaWestland EH-101 Merlin, the Boeing CH-47F and the Russian MI-172 in an open international tender issued at the Langkawi International Maritime and Air Show in December 2007.

Sources said Eurocopter won the deal as it also proposed to invest RM250 million to upgrade Malaysia's maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capacity in its Subang facility as part of its tender.

It has already invested about RM45 million in Malaysia and had plans to spend another
RM20 million this year to expand its Subang facility as well as MRO facilities in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

Apart from the Nuris, the RMAF operates the A109 light utility helicopters and Super Pumas for VIP service.

Oct 25, 2008

Mukhriz denies dad’s role in good run

KAMPUNG GAJAH: Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir says his good run in the number of nominations received for the Umno Youth chief’s post had nothing to do with his father’s influence.

“If my father’s influence had been a criteria for me to contest, why should I have waited until his retirement to do so?

“My father headed the party for 22 years. Surely if I had wanted to use his influence, I should have been active in politics way back then,” Mukhriz said after meeting Pasir Salak Umno Youth members here on Thursday.

The Jerlun MP added that it was Tun Dr Mahathir’s principles that forbade him from active politics when his father was in power.

Earlier in his speech, Mukhriz said the upcoming Umno elections was a golden opportunity to bring about much-needed change and inject new hope into the party.

Oct 24, 2008

Tun Mahathir says Umno will lose power because of corruption

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said Umno will lose the next General Election if nothing is done to weed out corruption in the party.

“After the defeat there will be no Prime Minister, minister and other positions. No more contracts, APs and licenses. Everyone will suffer, and be insulted by others. And that is the end of Umno,” said the former Prime Minister.

In his latest blog posting he said that he believes that many people are disappointed with money politics in Umno now.

“I know a lot of money is being used. It used to be only the division Youth heads that received the money. But this had resulted in other office bearers of the movement not cooperating. But now everyone can get it and the return is very substantial for the bribers,” said Dr Mahathir.

“The winners can become lawmakers, Exco members, ministers, deputy ministers, parliamentary secretary, chairman of GLCs and receive contracts worth millions of ringgit,” he added.

He said corruption is expected to get worse by March 2009 when the General Assembly begins.

“Looking at the positions being contested, every delegate can receive up to RM20,000,” said Dr Mahathir.

He said that the Barisan Nasional's victory in the 2004 General Election was because the people believed that the new leadership was cleaner than the previous administration, but Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi had failed to walk the talk.

“Between 2004 and 2008, they could see that Abdullah's administration was full of corruption. They noticed the role played by his family members and cronies and also Cabinet members. What they saw convinced them that the administration is not clean. The result can be seen in the 12th General Election,” said Dr Mahathir.

Corruption or money politics is a thorny issue in the Malay nationalist party.

After the last party election in 2004, newly elected vice president Tan Sri Isa Samad was suspended for three years for his involvement in money politics.

Supreme council member, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who is vying for a vice president's post even suggested that the positions in the party be awarded to the highest bidder, since money politics is so rampant in the party.

At the Umno Supreme Council meeting on Oct 20, the issue was discussed at length and the party's highest decision making body is expected to announce tough measures soon.

Oct 20, 2008

Rais lashes out at Tun Mahathir critics

Jelebu Umno division chief Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim lashed out at those who criticised former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for making statements regarding Umno.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 (Bernama) -- Jelebu Umno division chief Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim today lashed out at those who criticise former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for making statements regarding Umno.

"There are many who are blasting Tun Dr Mahathir for making statements about Umno. This should not be an issue," said Rais, who is Foreign Minister.

"He has the locus standi (standing) to make any statement on Umno. He led the party for 23 years."

"If they want to say something to him, look at him straight in the eye and tell him. Dr Mahathir has every right to say what he wants about Umno," he told reporters when met at the Foreign Ministry's friends of Malaysia cultural exchange programme here.

Over the last month there had been calls by certain Umno leaders, including Umno president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, blaming Dr Mahathir for a divided Umno.

The former prime minister earlier this year quit the party, which he once led, saying that he would only return once Abdullah vacates the party and government posts.

On another note, Rais alleged that there is a rapid rise in the menace of money politics in Umno and if left unchecked, the scourge would spell the death of the largest political party in the country.

The Anti-Corruption Commission Act, which had been proposed and is to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat by year end, would be able to cover this practice, which had hogged Umno everytime it held its elections, he said.

Umno, the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional, will hold its elections in March next year. Under the party system, all 191 divisions will nominate leaders to contest for the top national positions, from the president, deputy president, three vice-presidents down to the 25 supreme council members. Rais had announced his wish to contest the vice-presidency and to date has only obtained six nominations.

A vice-presidential candidate needs at least 20 nominations to contest. The divisional meet ings are currently underway and will end on Nov 9.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein is leading the veep race with 54 nominations, followed by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (38) and Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal (32). They are just the top three of 12 Umno leaders who have received nominations for the three-seat vice-presidential race.

Rais said that he noticed that some leaders had obtained nominations "out of the norm" but did not specify the leader or the post. "Even I have been approached by some divisions wanting donations and contributions. If I had given them these so-called donations or contributions, then I would have received their nominations but I will not yield to such requests. Nominations should be based on service and capability," said Rais, who is one of the more senior leaders in Umno.

Oct 19, 2008

Not your business, Pak Lah tells Dr M

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi does not rule out that an attempt is being made to push him out of office earlier than March and slammed his key critics Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

KUALA LUMPUR: It was during his last stop on a lightning visit to Kota Kinabalu late Saturday night (18 Oct) that Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi finally gave voice to his thoughts about his resurgent predecessor.

He lambasted Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the strongest words.

"Who is he? He has left Umno (United Malays National Organisation) but he still issues orders to members of Umno. The party does not need to take orders from anyone who is no longer a member of the party," Abdullah was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times.

He accused Dr Mahathir of behaving like a party elections director, and of trying to create a rift by inciting anger and hatred, after his predecessor urged Umno to get rid of his "toadies".

Dr Mahathir had written in his blog that Umno should vote out those who supported Abdullah.

To this, the Prime Minister said: "What is wrong with people who work with me? He is trying to teach people to hate one another."

He said it would be better for Dr Mahathir not to "speak at all today".

Their rivalry, which had intensified over the past four years as the former premier tried to topple Abdullah, has reached new heights.

The Prime Minister's outburst comes in the wake of speculation that Dr Mahathir played a pivotal role in forcing his early retirement, and that the former premier is poised to become a powerful influence over deputy prime minister Najib Razak, who is slated to succeed Abdullah by March next year.

It is no secret that Dr Mahathir pushed Najib and international trade and industry minister Muhyiddin Yassin to take an active role in persuading Abdullah to bring forward his retirement, originally planned for June 2010.

Najib and Muhyiddin are now the front runners to win the Umno presidency and deputy presidency and, by extension, Malaysia's premiership and deputy premiership. Both have easily garnered the minimum number of nominations needed to contest the party positions.

Dr Mahathir's son, Mukhriz Mahathir, is also far ahead of Abdullah's son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin in the race for nominations for the Umno Youth presidency.

This has sparked speculation about the return of 'Mahathirism', with many bloggers noting Najib's purported loyalty to the former premier. Dr Mahathir himself has dismissed the notion that he would be a 'de facto' prime minister.

Najib's supporters are also keen to dismiss the idea, knowing the old ways might not sit well with voters. They note that the deputy premier acted quickly to dispel the impression that a new set of young advisers was emerging to replace Abdullah's hugely unpopular team.

The Prime Minister has also lashed out at Muhyiddin, who called for the Umno elections to be brought forward to December from March, saying a longer campaign would distract the government.

"Is he so impatient to become the deputy prime minister? That is, if he gets the support," said Abdullah. 'What is the meaning of all this? I am not happy with this. Is he trying to stop me from making reforms?'

He added that Muhyiddin seemed to be trying to get him to hand over power in December.

Muhyiddin has since clarified that he merely wanted the Umno election to be held earlier, while a transition of power at the national level could take place in March. But observers wonder if he is trying to start a groundswell for an earlier retirement date for Mr Abdullah after successfully starting the push for him to abandon his June 2010 plan.

This latest bout of squabbling shows that Umno, while more stable now than in the early months after the 8 March polls, is still mired in internal politicking.

Najib has not commented on the developments, but in his blog on Saturday, he said Umno members should remember that the party election was just the start of the real work to revive Umno's fortunes. "In fact, this is what should be in the minds of Umno delegates when choosing the individuals who will occupy positions of leadership at all levels of the party hierarchy," he wrote.

Oct 14, 2008

Najib denies allegations of abuse, says SMS was private

Datuk Seri Najib Razak has denied any abuse of power in relation to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder investigations and the government's acquisition of 12 Eurocopter helicopters.
(Malaysiakini) Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today said that there was no abuse of power on his part in his exchange of text-messages with lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in relation to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.

"Why do I need to comment? Nothing. There is no abuse of power. It doesn't really matter.

"The important thing is that there is no abuse of power, whatever it is, the prime minister (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) has said enough," he told reporters in Parliament today.

Pressed by reporters, the deputy premier did not confirm or deny if he had sent the text-messages and whether he was trying to help his close ally, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda who has been charged with abetting the murder.

"Why should it be a major concern? The important thing that is of public concern is the (allegation of abuse of power). If you read it (the messages) very carefully, there is no abuse of power. Period."

Najib was responding to a report in Malaysia Today which published the alleged exchange of SMSes between him and Muhammad Shafee over the alleged involvement of Abdul Razak in the case.

Yesterday, Abdullah said he did not believe that his deputy would abuse his power.

Earlier today, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim had urged the government to probe Najib for alleged abuse of power, stating that the latest development would affect the government's credibility.

Oct 11, 2008

Zaid : No reforms as long as Tun Mahathir is around

Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim says Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s impending rise to become Umno president and Prime Minister marks the return of “Mahathirism”. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he said, will become Malaysia’s “de facto PM”, standing behind Najib.

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will not be able to institute any crucial reform as Prime Minister as long as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is around, claimed former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

“The 2004 election manifesto is history,” said Zaid who had been appointed minister specifically to work on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s promise to reform in stitutions of government, improve accountability and transparency, and strengthen the Rule of Law and independence of the Judiciary.

“Najib is smart and articulate but to change the course of Umno, he has to be brave and why would he take such a risk.

“Second, even if he wanted to, he would not be able to do it with Dr Mahathir around,” he said.

Asked whether that was because he thought Dr Mahathir was powerful or had a strong influence on Najib, Zaid - who resigned from the Cabinet recently after journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, Member of Parliament Teresa Kok and news portal editor Raja Petra Kamarudin were arrested under the Internal Security Act - said:

“He (Dr Mahathir) has a large group of friends, otherwise the Prime Minister (Abdullah) would not have been ‘thrown out’ just like he wanted.”

“Mahathirism was all control, control, control. He has a strong influence on the top Umno leaders who had to choose between doing his bidding or facing his wrath.

“So many in Umno are bound to the old, making it difficult to abandon old values and principles.

“Especially when if you allow for more democracy, you lose some control.

“I don’t see it (major reforms) happening but I hope that Najib will prove me wrong, for himself and for the country’s sake.”

On his recent comment that Najib has never talked of reforms, when asked why a deputy prime minister would need to do so when the agenda is set by the Prime Minister, he replied: “Yes, but after the Prime Minister talks, shouldn’t the deputy strengthen it with his own comments?"

Oct 8, 2008

PM Abdullah will quit in March 2009

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Wednesday he will step down next March and hand power to his deputy, ending months of uncertainty since disastrous general elections.

Abdullah has been under intense pressure to quit since leading the Barisan Nasional coalition to its worst polls performance in half a century, losing a third of parliamentary seats and five states to the opposition.

The premier said he expected his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which leads the multi-racial coalition, to hand Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak the top job in a leadership vote next March.

"I am now announcing I will not seek the presidency of UMNO in the upcoming elections. I want a party that is united," he told a press conference.

"I will hand over power to... Najib after he wins the election at the general assembly. I am sure he will win," he said.

"There will be a transition of power after the new president of UMNO is decided upon."

The president of UMNO -- which has dominated Malaysian politics since independence from Britain in 1957 -- by tradition automatically becomes prime minister of the country.

Abdullah originally wanted to hand over to Najib in mid-2010 but was forced to review his departure date as he lost support from the grassroots of UMNO, which was shattered by the March election results.

He also faced a campaign by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is seeking to seize power with the help of defecting lawmakers.

Anwar says he has the numbers to form a new administration but is being blocked from triggering a change in government -- which would be the first in Malaysia's history.

Abdullah came to power in 2003 and was initially buoyed by a groundswell of support for his promises of reform after two decades of rule under veteran premier Mahathir Mohamad.

However, he was quickly seen as weak and ineffective after failing to come to grips with corruption, high crime rates and inefficient bureaucracy which he had vowed to address.

Abdullah insisted Wednesday that he still intended to fulfil his promises.

"I intend to carry out several initiatives before I leave office," he said, pointing to the anti-corruption programs, reform of the judiciary and poverty alleviation.

The political vacuum since the March elections has paralysed foreign investment and suppressed trade on the stock exchange, in a malaise which is now being worsened by the global economic crisis.


(Malaysiakini) Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has decided not to defend his Umno president post and will quit in March next year when the ruling party meets at its annual general assembly.

Abdullah told leaders of the 13 Barisan Nasional component parties that he would be stepping down as prime minister in five months at the BN supreme council meeting in Putra World Trade Centre this afternoon.

“PM to step down in March, DPM to take over. He won’t stand for Umno election,” a component party leader told Malaysiakini via an SMS message. The meeting is still underway.

It is also learnt that the BN leaders are presently thanking Abdullah for his leadership.

As the prime minister was briefing BN leaders on the power transfer plan, scores of Abdullah’s supporters gathered outside the PWTC building to urge him to stay on.

Armed with banners, the supporters are calling on the embattled premier to continue until 2010 amid speculations that he might be forced to step down earlier.

The banners read: 'Hormati peralihan kuasa, elakan perpecahan lagi' (Respect the transition of power, avoid further rifts) and 'Pak Lah, teruskan perjuangan' (Pak Lah, continue the struggle).

The supporters also chanted 'Hidup Pak Lah' (Long live Pak Lah) and 'Pak Lah presiden, Najib timbalan'. (Pak Lah as president, Najib as deputy).

Oct 7, 2008

Tun Mahathir says Khairy will beat Mukhriz

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 7 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today hinted that Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin would employ undemocratic methods to ensure his victory for the highest position in the Youth wing in March.

Dr Mahathir, in his latest blog posting, was commenting on the complaint by Khairy that he was prevented from meeting Umno Youth members while campaigning.

"I don't know whether people have heard about the thief who cried 'thief!'. Well the thief got away because people who are not very intelligent went chasing in the opposite direction. The highly educated thief then walked away with his booty," said Dr Mahathir.

"I would advise him not to be disheartened. There are so many other ways of influencing Pemuda than meeting them. I will not enumerate them as he will know how to use these other ways," said the former Prime Minister.

He added that Khairy, who became Umno Youth deputy chief in 2004 when he won uncontested, would easily defeat Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir during the party election.

Dr Mahathir blamed Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for Khairy's victory four years ago.

"Apart from Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein who gave other possible candidates a tongue lashing, telling them in no uncertain terms that they must not contest the position because it was reserved for the Prime Minister's son-in-law, others suspected of having ambitions to contest for the post received phone calls from family members of the PM and other influential supporters not to do anything to spoil the ambition of this first-time Umno member with absolutely no track record from winning uncontested," he added.

On Sunday, Khairy told reporters that he is contesting on his own merit and hoped that Umno Youth delegates would evaluate him based on his personal credibility and strength.

"I got down to the ground, I became director of the by-election machinery... I conducted programmes and various others things on my own initiative and this will not change whether Pak Lah or Datuk Seri Najib is the president. I will continue with my work as a leader of the young generation in Umno," said Khairy.

Oct 6, 2008

PM Abdullah to decide within two days

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will announce his decision on whether he would defend the Umno presidency either tomorrow or by Wednesday.

The Prime Minister also said he hopes to convene a meeting of the Barisan Nasional supreme council on Wednesday to brief component party leaders on the revised power transition plan between him and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He told this to reporters after opening the International Advisory Biotechnology Panel Conference 2008 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here Monday.

On Sept 26, the Umno supreme council postponed its annual general assembly and supreme council elections to next March to facilitate the early transition of power.

Abdullah had also said then that he would decide by Oct 9 on whether to defend his Umno presidency.

"I have not announced any decision as far as this particular point is concerned. And I intend to do it before the division meetings begin," he said

He said this when asked if an "early transition" meant that he would not be contesting in the party elections.

Pak Lah will not defend the Umno president’s position?

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 - No surprises. On Wednesday, after briefing the Cabinet and the Barisan Nasional Supreme council, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will tell Malaysians that he will not defend the Umno president’s position.

His announcement, a day before the start of the Umno divisional elections, will mark the beginning of the end of his premiership, the shortest in the history, and sets the stage for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be returned unopposed as the president of Umno and prime minister of Malasysia.

Under the transition plan accepted by Abdullah, and endorsed by the party’s supreme council late last month, the PM was expected to decline receiving any nominations from the divisions. In return, the party elections were postponed from December to March to give him the time to complete several reforms which he started.

But since the transition plan was announced, there has been speculation that Abdullah could surprise everyone by deciding to defend his position. Supporters and government officials who have met him over the past 10 days, say that though disappointed with the manner the March transition plan was sprung on him, and while he has come to believe that the groundswell against his leadership in Umno was manufactured, he did not speak about wanting to contest the party elections.

The reason: He believes that Umno cannot survive an all-out contest for the presidency between him and Najib.

An official, who attended a meeting with Abdullah, said: “He believes that the party’s biggest enemy is Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat. I also sense that he does not want to be remembered as someone who put his needs before the party’s. There was pressure from different sources for him to contest, but he just wants to complete several reforms he has started.’’

For example, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a long time critic of the leadership, believes that the transition plan is unconstitutional and Abdullah must defend his party president’s position to reaffirm the party’s commitment to democratic principles.

His critics argue that the Kelantanese prince's desire to see a contest for the top position is self-serving. He too has offered to contest the top position and his chances of garnering the 58 nominations from the divisions will be greatly reduced if the transition plan is accepted by Abdullah and supported by the divisions.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat also want Abdullah to go for broke, knowing that any implosion in the ruling party will create more uncertainty with Umno and BN ranks which can be harvested by the Opposition.

Abdullah has told government officials that he will spend the next few months pushing through judicial reforms and legislation to make the Anti-Corruption Agency more independent. This will not be a walk in the park because there is strong resistance among Umno ministers for any change which will weaken the party’s hold on the institutions.

The vexing question is this: If Abdullah could not convince his Umno ministers of the need for change when he had all the powers, how was he going to do so in a lame duck position?

His supporters say that he must be prepared to be confrontational to keep his promise of strengthening the country’s institutions. Seems like a big ask for someone who has put his party above everything else since becoming PM in October 2003.

Tun Mahathir : No Need For Team Mates

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 (Bernama) -- There is no need for aspirants wanting to run in the Umno party elections next March to form any team, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

Instead, he said, the newly-elected leaders must be prepared to work with one another for the good of the party.

He also cautioned the aspirants not to be carried away with the trend of the US Presidential Election where the candidates were required to have a running mate.

"This is not the United States. There is no need for a team. If we win, our team cooperate with those contesting against us will be difficult.

"We can contest whatever posts and we should be able to cooperate with whoever wins," Dr Mahathir told reporters during the Aidilfitri open house at his residence in Seri Kembangan near here.

He also welcomed the decision of a number of senior party members who made known their intention to vie for the No. 2 post, following anticipation that its incumbent, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, will go for the Umno president's post.

"That's good, as long as you don't play dirty. Don't bribe. We should show our ability, God-willing, the people will choose us.

"But if you use pressure or resort to arm-twisting, then it is not democracy," he said. On his plan to rejoin Umno, Dr Mahathir said he had not made any decision on which branch that he would join.

He said several party members who followed his footsteps in quitting the party on May 1, should be allowed to rejoin the party, too.

"Now, there is another major problem. Apparently, many left Umno after I left. So, if I rejoin and these people cannot follow suit, it is unfair," he said, warning that more problems would arise if these people were not allowed to rejoin the party.

"Dont't forget that these people have the power to vote. If they are outside Umno, they will vote for the opposition parties and Umno will lose."