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."