Aug 31, 2008

PM Abdullah appeals for support on independence day



PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi appealed for the nation's support in an independence day message Sunday, in the face of economic woes and opposition plans to topple the government within weeks.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's embattled premier appealed for the nation's support in an independence day message Sunday, in the face of economic woes and opposition plans to topple the government within weeks.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whose Barisan Nasional coalition has ruled since independence from Britain 51 years ago, led the nation in celebrations with a firework display on Saturday night.

Abdullah, who has faced calls to quit from within his own party after failing to check the rise of the opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim, urged the country to remain united as it faced high inflation and a global slowdown.

"I am confident and believe that all the trials we are facing today can be overcome if we remain united and work together with firm determination," he said.

"A united people is the country's strongest line of defence in facing any situation both internally and externally."

"No one citizen is recognised as being of a higher position than another in this nation. This nation belongs to all of us. Whether we rise or fall depends on all of us," he said.

Abdullah's popular support has crumbled since he came to power in 2003, and the coalition was dealt its worst ever setback in March general elections that handed the opposition five states and a third of parliamentary seats.

Anwar, a former deputy premier who was sacked and jailed a decade ago, returned to parliament last week after winning a by-election in a landslide, and said he would oust the government by mid-September.

He has accused the government of corruption and poor management of the economy, and blamed Abdullah's weak leadership for the steep rise in inflation and falling investment.

Anwar has promised to slash fuel prices if he becomes premier, in a powerful gesture after Abdullah's 41 per cent overnight hike announced in June triggered widespread anger and street protests.

The rise in fuel costs helped inflation spike to a 26-year high in July of 8.5 per cent.

"Now 51 years after independence, we are once again at a junction. We see the constitution being manipulated, democracy trampled on and the institution of the state made into a tool for power," Anwar said in a statement.

"It is time Malaysians made that choice to return the meaning of independence to this country."

Thousands gathered in the city centre Saturday for colourful celebrations, singing rousing patriotic songs and waving the Malaysian flag as they counted down to independence day.

The skies of Kuala Lumpur lit up with fireworks on the stroke of midnight, but the cost was borne by sponsors as the government scaled back its spending in tune with the tighter economic times.

Abdullah last Friday offered tax cuts and perks in a 2009 budget designed to restore support for the beleaguered coalition and spur growth.

Aug 27, 2008

RPK's Malaysia Today is Blocked


Local internet users however can still access the website by typing in Malaysia Today's IP address (http://202.75.62.114/) or an alternative web address (http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/) in their web browsers.

(Malaysiakini) In a rare move, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has ordered all internet service providers (ISPs) to block controversial online portal Malaysia Today.

MCMC chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, when contacted today, confirmed that the block was ordered by the commission.

"It is being blocked because we found that some of the comments on the website were insensitive, bordering on incitement," he told Malaysiakini.

As at 7pm, a check by Malaysiakini showed users are unable to access Malaysia Today through three major ISPs - TMnet, Maxis and Time. However, users can still access the errant website through Jaring.

This is believed to be the first time such curbs have been initiated against a non-pornographic website, posing questions as to whether the government is reneging on its no-Internet censorship pledge.

Under the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Malaysia 10 Point Bill of Guarantees, the government promises to ensure no internet censorship.

The domain name - http://www.malaysia-today.net - has been unaccessible to TMnet subscribers since yesterday evening as a result of the blockage - known technically as 'DNS blackhole list'.

Local internet users however can still access the website by typing in Malaysia Today's IP address (http://202.75.62.114/) or an alternative web address (http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/) in their web browsers.

PM Abdullah faces calls to quit after Anwar victory

The Barisan Nasional ruling coalition has admitted defeat in a by-election against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who will return to parliament after a decade-long absence. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi faced calls to quit from within his ruling party Wednesday after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim scored a landslide by-election victory.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi faced calls to quit from within his ruling party Wednesday after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim scored a landslide by-election victory.

Anwar won the vote to return to parliament despite an intense campaign mounted by the Barisan Nasional coalition, which he has promised to unseat within a month with the help of defecting lawmakers.

The failure to check Anwar has heaped more pressure on Abdullah, who has fought to hold on to his job since March general elections in which the opposition gained unprecedented ground.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a senior member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which leads the ruling coalition, called for a new leadership "to unite our people... and forge a clear national direction."

"(Abdullah) does not have the minimal credibility needed to run the country day by day, let alone to take it in the new directions we need to go in a complex world," he said. "This dangerous situation cannot continue."

Razaleigh said the coalition's by-election campaign, which was criticised for its racial overtones and focus on sodomy allegations against Anwar, has "embarrassed and divided the nation with its ugliness."

"It is time to face the music: it is we who have been buried," he said.

Razaleigh plans to challenge Abdullah for the party leadership in December polls, but is likely to fail after the premier silenced calls for his immediate ouster by agreeing to hand over power to his deputy Najib Razak in 2010.

Abdullah's main critic, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, has also called for the resignation of his successor after relations between the two soured in 2006.

Mahathir's son Mukhriz, another senior UMNO figure who is vying for the top spot in the party's influential youth wing, also called for Abdullah's immediate resignation.

"I think Abdullah should strongly consider for all our sakes, to step down now," he told AFP.

"This is a second time that the Malaysian people have given a clear message, with the first at the general elections. It is a rejection of the present leader and he must leave now."

Aug 26, 2008

Permatang Pauh By-Election Result

9.50pm: Final official EC tally - Anwar got 31,195 votes, Arif Shah, 15,524, Hanafi, 92. Anwar won with a majority of 15,671.

Anwar's wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, won the seat with a 13,388 majority at the March 8 general elections.

9.25pm: Official EC results: With final five ballot boxes to go, Anwar has bagged 29,526 votes, Arif Shah (14,444) and Hanafi (89). Majority so far: 15,082.

9.12pm: Official EC results: With 11 more boxes to go, Anwar has won the by-election with a 14,551 majority. He garnered 27,977 votes while BN's Arif Shah obtained 13,426 while Akim's Hanafi Hamat got 85.

Malaysian govt concedes by-election defeat to Anwar
PERMATANG PAUH, Malaysia - Malaysia's ruling coalition on Tuesday conceded defeat in a by-election against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who will return to parliament after a decade-long absence.

"Yes of course we have lost... we were the underdogs going into this race," said Muhammad Muhammad Taib, information chief of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which leads the Barisan Nasional coalition.

Anwar's Keadilan party, which leads a three-member opposition alliance, claimed a "landslide" victory. It said Anwar had garnered at least 65 per cent of the ballot and that the figure could rise as high as 70 per cent.

"We declare victory, the margin is very huge," said Keadilan information chief Tian Chua.

Muhammad said UMNO had been hampered by internal disagreement over the choice of its candidate in the by-election, Arif Shah Omah Shah, and was distracted by upcoming internal leadership polls.

"There are factors that we have to be practical about but this does not mean that he is enjoying full support elsewhere in the country," he told AFP.

"He is the winner here because this is his hometown and the timing of the elections is to his advantage because UMNO's party polls will be held in a month."

Muhammad also dismissed talk that the victory would help Anwar oust the government with the help of defecting lawmakers, after landmark March general elections that handed the opposition unprecedented gains.

"I don't think so. In the last general election the people gave the Barisan Nasional the mandate to rule, so if the opposition wants to form a government they will have to wait for the next general election."



8.32 pm Unofficial PKR alert - Anwar wins with a majority of 17,652, obtaining 31,949 votes. BN's Arif Shah garnered 14,297 while Akim's Hanafi Hamat got 74. Hanafi to lose his RM15,000 deposit.

Anwar's wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, won the seat with a 13,400 majority in the March 8 general election.


Anwar's party claims by-election win
PERMATANG PAUH, Penang - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's party claimed he has won a seat in parliament in a by-election here on Tuesday.

"We won already. We are far ahead," Keadilan party spokeswoman Ginie Lim said. Anwar is scheduled to address a press conference at 1230GMT, she said.

Official results are expected to be released by about 1400 GMT.

The opposition and the government blamed each other for the low turnout, which Election Commission secretary Kamaruzzaman Mohamad Nor said stood at 65.25 per cent, significantly lower than the last election in March.

Anwar said that although the opposition-controlled state government of Penang had declared a public holiday to boost turnout, many workers were not given time off to cast their ballots.

"Most of the core supporters of Keadilan are factory workers. My concern is the turnout and it's too low for comfort," he told AFP.

Deputy premier Najib Razak said the opposition had prevented people from voting, accusing it of causing huge traffic jams by bringing in many supporters from outside the electorate.

Anwar has been widely tipped to win the vote in Permatang Pauh, an electorate in his home state of Penang which he held until he was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges.

But political pundits said they will focus on the size of the winning margin, compared to that attained by Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who held the seat during his political exile.



8pm Unofficial: Anwar Ibrahim is the winner, obtaining a majority of 16,210 votes. He garnered 26,646 votes while Arif Shah Arif Omar got 10,436. His wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, won the seat with a 13,400 majority in the March 8 general election.


7.59pm Unofficial latest count, Anwar has obtained 16,101 votes as opposed to Arif Shah's 6,071.








7.43pm The EC starts to announce official results as per the ballot boxes it has counted. As it stands, Anwar is leading by 3,507 votes (or 48.11 percent).

The breakdown is as follows: Akim's Hanafi Hamat (nine votes), Anwar (5,398 votes) and Arif Shah (1,891).

So far 20 ballot boxes of a total of 111 have been opened and counted. Anwar had won in ALL these 20 boxes. In one particular box, he had obtained 441 votes compared to Arif's 14.

7.25pm: There are signs of significant swing to PKR despite the lower turnout. In the state constituency of Penanti, which PKR won at the March 8 general elections, the party has bagged the sole polling station, Telok Wang, it failed to win five months ago.

March 8 result: BN - 261 votes, PKR - 227
Aug 26 result: BN - 232 votes, PKR - 260

Anwar is also making gains in the state constitutency of Seberang Jaya, where PKR had lost to BN candidate Arif on March 8.

7.25pm: Anwar's press conference at 9pm is believed to declare his victory. The press conference was rescheduled to 9pm from its original time of 7.45pm.

7.20pm: Unofficial results so far: Anwar 5,855; Arif Shah 1,910

7.13pm PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim is to hold a press conference at his by-election headquarters at Yayasan Aman at 7.45pm. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will also be holding a press conference at about 9pm.

6.55pm: Counting in all 25 polling stations is now underway. From inside sources, Anwar is leading in all voting streams. Votes are being counted simultaneously in all the polling stations with the results to be sent to the main counting centre for the final tally.

According to EC secretary Kamaruzaman, 38,144 voters went to the ballot box today with turnout being 65.25 percent. This is much lower than the 82 percent turnout at the March 8 general elections

6.30pm: Thousands of supporters, almost all from PKR, have gathered at the main counting centre. A police helicopter was hovering above the centre. Numerous police roadblocks were also mounted along the roads leading to the centre - this despite the police blocking the main access to this place.

About 30 police and FRU trucks were also seen in the vicinity, along with hundreds of police personnel

6.05pm: According to EC secretary Kamaruzaman, voter turnout was at 63.7 percent at 4pm. Final voter turnout yet to be released but expected to be lower than the 82 percent at the March 8 general elections.

5.53pm: The police have blocked the main road to the Tuanku Bainun counting centre where the announcement will be made later tonight. Even journalists with EC tags are not allowed to pass through. The move is seen as an attempt to deter people from gathering at the centre.

5.26pm: BN candidate Arif Shah is still confident of taking the seat.

5.11pm: PKR top leaders are confident that Anwar would win the seat as their exit polls show that he is leading by 18,000 votes.

5.10pm: EC officials will start counting votes polled at the respective polling centres by 6.30pm. The final count from all 25 polling centres will then be brought to the Institut Perguruan Tuanku Bainun for the official result to be announced.

5pm: Polling ends for the Permatang Pauh by-election.

Aug 19, 2008

Tun Mahathir dares Anwar to swear

Referring to Mohd Saiful's swearing on the Quran at the Federal Territory mosque in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, Tun Mahathir said it was his way of "proving" he was not lying about the sodomy allegation.

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has dared Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to swear on the Quran to prove he is innocent of the sodomy charge he faces.

He said Anwar should do so just like his accuser Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan who had sworn upon the Quran that Anwar had sodomised him.

“Anwar should also be doing the same thing, instead of just giving ceramah everywhere, to prove his innocence,” Dr Mahathir said when approached by reporters during his visit to the Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism Show 2008 in Serdang yesterday.

Referring to Saiful's swearing on the Quran at the Federal Territory mosque here yesterday, Dr Mahathir said it was the former Anwar aide’s way of proving he was not lying when he alleged he had been sodomised by the PKR adviser on June 26.

Dr Mahathir said that as a figure on the Malaysian political scene, Anwar should act in accordance with public sentiment that he said, required that he give a sworn statement pertaining to the sodomy allegation.

However, the action would be considered to be just a good political gesture because Anwar himself had to provide legitimate evidence to prove that he was not guilty in the matter.

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said said Saiful did the right thing by swearing upon the Quran.

“It is to demonstrate that he was telling the truth. I congratulate him for his courage,” he said.

Former PKR Youth chief Mohamed Ezam Mohd Nor said it was not easy for Saiful to do what he did.

“If I were Anwar, the next thing I’ll do is to go to the mosque and prove my innocence. The legal way is not enough.”

The Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia said in a statement that Anwar should respond to Saiful's latest move.

Aug 14, 2008

Tun Mahathir slams Bar Council for holding forum

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad harshly criticised the Bar Council for holding its forum on conversion to Islam.

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad harshly criticised the Bar Council for holding its forum on conversion to Islam.

He said sensitive issues should only be discussed behind closed doors and its conclusions passed to the Government and not openly announced and disseminated.

He slammed the Bar Council for forgetting the agreement between the founding fathers of the parties representing the three main communities not to openly discuss sensitive issues, one of them being Islam as the official religion of the country.

“The leaders and races have respected this understanding when Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussein Onn and myself were Prime Minister".

He said there should not be any misgivings about the level of democracy enjoyed in this country and that of certain developed nations.

“What is good for them is not necessarily good for us,” he said.

The former prime minister said certain restrictions that ensure peace and security of the country should be accepted.

He blamed the Government for the Bar Council's “arrogant attitude” and recent forum on conversion to Islam, adding that the Government should have prevented the forum instead of turning their back on the past understanding.

Dr Mahathir said during past premierships including when he was a premier, every race and their respective leaders had respected the special understanding although there were some challenges, which they overcame.

Aug 11, 2008

Tun Mahathir denies speculation he will run against Anwar

Tun Mahathir said he had resigned from politics in 2003 and "I'm not coming back". He said he doubted that any independent candidate would win in the Aug 26 by-election, and such a candidate would only succeed in splitting the votes for Umno or Parti Keadilan Rakyat. "At the moment I do not see anyone who can give Anwar a run for his money," Tun Mahathir said after delivering a talk at a forum entitled "Challenges Faced by the Malays".

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad has denied speculation he will run against his arch-foe, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, in a by-election expected to return Anwar to parliament.

Anwar was Mahathir's deputy and heir apparent until 1998 when he was sacked and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges widely seen as retribution for challenging his one-time mentor.

Mahathir, who has also had a serious falling out with his successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said the ruling party has no one who can beat Anwar in the August 26 by-election.

"At the moment I do not see anyone who can give Anwar a run for his money," Mahathir said, according to the New Straits Times newspaper.

But Mahatir said he would not challenge Anwar for the seat vacated by Anwar's wife after he was charged with sodomy once again last week.

"No way, I have resigned in 2003 and I have said that I'm not coming back," he said, according to the state Bernama news agency.

Despite the new allegations that he sodomised a young male aide - a serious offence in Malaysia that carries a penalty of 20 years imprisonment -Anwar has said he is still on track to seize power.

Landmark general elections in March handed the opposition an unprecedented one-third of parliamentary seats, and Anwar would need just 30 lawmakers from the ranks of the ruling coalition to switch sides.

Aug 6, 2008

Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to record statements from PM, DPM

The Anti- Corruption Agency will soon record the statements of the Prime Minister and his deputy over a report lodged against them by an Umno veteran. ACA director-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan said investigations into an allegation of power abuse by the two leaders in the run-up to the Umno elections this December have already started.

(Malaysiakini) Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak will be asked to give statements to the Anti-Corruption Agency following a report lodged against them by an Umno man yesterday.

ACA director-general Ahmad Said Hamdan told reporters in Penang that the statements from the two top leaders would be taken soon. He did not specify when it would be done.

"All our investigations, which are facts-based, are carried out without fear or favour and in a transparent manner regardless of the person's status and our arrest track record speaks for itself," he said, as reported by the Star Online.

Yesterday veteran Umno leader Mazlan Harun lodged the complaint against Abdullah and Najib - also the top two leaders in Umno - for alleged abuse of power.

He claimed that both Abdullah and Najib had abused government machineries to garner support among Umno members in a bid to sustain their positions in the coming party elections.

The complaint was based on an open letter written by Umno Petaling Jaya Selatan division chief Zahar Hashim and addressed to the party's secretary-general, demanding that both Abdullah and Najib be disciplined for allegedly abusing their power.


UMNO veteran lodges complaint at ACA against PM Abdullah

An Umno veteran lodged a report with the Anti-Corruption Agency against the party’s top leaders. Selangor veteran leader Datuk Mazlan Harun, who is also a former Umno Youth exco member, did not make it clear what the report was about but said it was to alert the ACA on possible abuse of power in the run-up to the party elections in December. Meanwhile Umno Deputy President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has refused to comment about an Anti-Corruption Agency report against him and party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

KUALA LUMPUR: A ruling party UMNO veteran has on Tuesday lodged a complaint at the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) against Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and his deputy for alleged abuse of power.

This is the first time that a formal complaint was lodged against the party's top two leaders on money politics.

Speaking after lodging a report at the ACA branch office in Kuala Lumpur, UMNO veteran Mazlan Harun accused Prime Minister Abdullah and his deputy Najib Razak of abusing their position and party machinery to stay in power while warning others not to do so.

Mr Mazlan continued to say that it was a clear breach of election guidelines issued by UMNO headquarters.

"Everybody wants an internal party poll which is free from interference," said Mr Mazlan in Malay.

"It's not just the Malay community, but Malaysians at large want a free and fair election. I will leave it to the ACA to take action."

Many doubt the investigation will go anywhere as the ACA is unlikely to initiate actions against their bosses.

Critics see the latest report as a sign of cracks within UMNO, which they say is at its weakest following the dismal electoral showing in March.

Meanwhile, scores of reporters are camping out at former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim's family home in Bukit Segambut, on strong rumours that he may be arrested ahead of the crucial by-election in Permatang Pauh.

The election commission will meet on Wednesday to decide on the nomination and polling dates.

Aug 5, 2008

Tun Mahathir raises the possibility of Rais to be No. 1

According to Tun Mahathir Mohamad one of those leaders that is willing to make sacrifices in order to restore the party to its former glory is Umno veteran Dr Rais Yatim.

(Malaysiakini) Umno veteran Dr Rais Yatim is one of those leaders willing to make sacrifices in order to restore the party to its former glory, according to Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former premier's stamp of approval for Rais came a day after Muhyiddin Yassin announced that he would not contest for the party president or deputy president but would instead defend his vice-president posts.

Mahathir, who had been Umno president for 22 years, lamented that the party cannot be nursed back to health as long as his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was at the helm.

Based on Mahathir's diagnosis, the remedy for the present Malay feeling of insecurity is not a merger or some kind or cooperation between PAS and Umno.

It lies in restoring Umno to its previous strength, said the medical doctor-turned-politician in a posting on his blog.

"There are several leaders in Umno who are qualified to take over from him (Abdullah). Leaders who are not influenced by the greed of their families, leaders who are willing to make sacrifices in order to restore the pre-eminent position of Umno within the Barisan Nasional.

"One of them could be Rais Yatim. Maybe in the end it would be (another Umno veteran) Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, with Rais as deputy," he said.

Both Razaleigh and Rais belonged to the camp which opposed Mahathir during the 1987 Umno leadership tussle. Rais was also a member of the now defunct Razaleigh-led splinter party Semangat 46.

However, the duo have since buried the hatchet with the former premier. Mahathir even appointed Rais to a cabinet position later.

After the March 8 polls, Abdullah appointed Rais - an Umno supreme council member - as foreign minister.

Aug 4, 2008

PM Abdullah's approval ratings at all-time low

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was accepting of the drop in his approval rating as suggested by an opinion poll conducted by the Merdeka Centre recently.

"Nevermind-lah. That's the fate of politicians. Up and down. What's important is what you do before you leave," he said after a meeting with Wanita Umno leaders at the Putra World Trade Centre here on Monday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi on Monday brushed off a survey by a local independent polling centre which showed his approval ratings at an all-time low.

This comes as the ruling government faces a tough fight against former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim at the upcoming by-election in Mr Anwar's home turf Permatang Pauh.

Compared to an all time high of 91 per cent which Mr Abdullah enjoyed in 2004 when he first came to power, Mr Abdullah's popularity ratings dipped to 42 per cent last month.

Citing rising fuel price and soaring inflation as voters' main concerns, the survey by Merdeka Center also showed that many Malaysians are fed up with the political uncertainty and bickering plaguing the country.

Still, Mr Abdullah, speaking after launching a special meeting of the ruling party women’s wing, has shrugged off his plunging popularity with a smile.

"That's the fate of politicians everywhere, up and down, what's important is what you finally do before you leave,” the prime minister said.

Mr Abdullah has planned to handover the baton to his deputy Najib Razak in June 2010.

But Mr Anwar has accused the prime minister in waiting of being all out to unseat him, and has promised to form a new government by his self-imposed deadline of mid-September with the help of defecting MPs.

He has also promised to lower pump prices from the current US$0.83 to US$0.62.

Deputy Premier Mr Najib has criticised the populist move as against global trend that will only encourage wastage.

The UMNO Supreme Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss preparations to take on Mr Anwar in his home turf, where Mr Anwar is expected to win big in the coming by-election.