Mar 31, 2009

Najib to be sworn in on April 3rd

The King might not have accepted Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s resignation letter yet but state leaders have already received the invitation to the new prime minister's swearing-in.

It is learnt that Menteris Besar, chief ministers and other top dignitaries have been invited for the ceremony on Friday.

An aide to Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng confirmed he had received an invitation for the swearing-in at Istana Negara.

Abdullah announced last Saturday that he would submit his resignation letter on April 2 after his Umno party confirmed Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak as party president.

The prime minister said he will step down in favour of his deputy in a power transfer following the ruling Barisan Nasional’s disastrous results in Election 2008.

(Malaysiakini) Ministers and their deputies have today received invitations to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new prime minister in Istana Negara on Friday.

Contacted by Malaysiakini, a deputy minister, who declined to be named, confirmed receiving the invitation via the Short Messaging System (SMS) this morning.

The SMS reads: 'Istiadat pengurniaan surat cara perlantikan dan istiadat mengangkat sumpah jawatan dan setia serta sumpah simpan rahsia oleh YAB Dato' Sri Mohd Najib sebagai PM.'

Apart from listing out the dress code for the function, the SMS also stated that the time for the swearing-in ceremony was at 9am.

It is learnt that invitations were also sent to menteris besar and chief ministers, including from the Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states.

On Thursday, outgoing premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to meet the King regarding the transition of power issue.

However until yesterday, Abdullah had refused to state the date for handing over the reins and told the media not to pester him on the issue.

"Just wait. Don't ask me to say anything. All will happen when the time is right. The transition will take place," he said, sparking off another round of speculation that the plan could derail at the eleventh hour.

Incoming premier Najib Abdul Razak too has remained tightlipped on the matter.

Tun Mahathir still slams PM Abdullah

The former premier, who is on a one-week visit to Britain, again let loose his stinging criticisms of his successor-turned-nemesis Abdullah. In an interview with BBC's World News Today in its London studio, he shreds, rips and slams his successor for sullying his legacy. "Everything went rotten" after Abdullah became prime minister, lamented Mahathir who refused to acknowledge any shortcomings on his part for the problems in Umno despite being asked several times.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 - The so-called rapprochement between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi could be stillborn after the former prime minister continued biting criticism against his successor.

This time, Dr Mahathir took his criticism to an international audience, using the platform of the BBC to say that "everthing went rotten" after Abdullah became prime minister.

He also lashed out at Khairy Jamaluddin and Kamal Abdullah, the son of the PM saying that both men decided on policies during the Abdullah era.
"Everything went wrong when Abdullah took over...", he said.

Despite being asked several times, if some of the problems in Umno and Malaysia was the result of mistakes which he made during 22 years as the PM, Dr Mahathir refused to acknowledged any shortcomings.

Finally, he relented, saying that his mistake was picking Abdullah as his successor.

He said that in 22 years in office, Barisan Nasional always won two-thirds control in Parliament.

Amazingly, Dr Mahathir also appeared to take some credit for BN's historic mandate in 2004, noting that the general elections had come just after he stepped down as prime minister.

This claim in in direct contrast to several surveys and observations by BN leaders and political pundits which showed that the Abdullah factor and excitement over his reform agenda gave the ruling coalition 90 per cent control of Parliament.

Disappointment over his failure to keep his election promises and excesses by Umno led to BN's dismal performance in 2008 and to Abdullah early retirement.

Dr Mahathir has been attacking Abdullah since 2005, upset that his legacy was being undermined by Abdullah and peeved that his counsel was not sought by his successor.

On Saturday, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak pulled off a coup of sorts by getting Dr Mahathir to share the same stage as Abdullah at the close of the party assembly.

He said he hoped that both men would sit down with him and offer ideas of how to rebuild Umno and Malaysia.

But it looks like Dr Mahathir is not ready to bury the hatchet.

Mar 30, 2009

Tun Mahathir expects "firm" leadership under new PM Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: The rise to power of Malaysia's next leader Najib Razak has been overshadowed by allegations he will crack down on dissent, reverting to the hardline tactics of former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Recent moves including the use of tear gas to break up a rally by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, and the banning of the opposition's two main newspapers, have triggered talk of a return to "Mahathirism".

But Mahathir himself, a feisty 84-year-old who remains a colossus of Malaysian politics six years after retirement, is unconcerned about his name being used as a byword for repression.

And he said in an interview with AFP that he expects Najib to be a much more assertive leader than Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who resigns Thursday after a lacklustre term in which he allowed a little more democratic space, but failed to implement promised reforms including combating corruption.

"If he feels he has enough strength, I think he will be more firm. Not necessarily oppressive but firm in his decision and his acts," Mahathir said of 55-year-old Najib who spent the past six years as deputy premier.

"Of course people are wanting to call this Mahathirism. I'm quite aware of that but I don't care whether people call me a dictator or not. In any case I'm the first dictator who resigned of his own accord," he said.

The Barisan Nasional coalition, which has governed Malaysia for half a century, paints itself as a bulwark against racial bloodshed in a country where majority Muslim Malays live alongside ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

Mahathir justified controversial acts during his term in power, including mass detentions of political opponents and rights activists under internal security laws, as being aimed at preserving peace.

"This country needs a firm hand because we have the potential for racial pressures, and it has not happened in this country because the government was strong and knows how far people should play around with sensitive issues."

After deciding to step down, ending more than two decades in power, Mahathir hand-picked his successor but became enraged when Abdullah began dismantling mega-projects close to his heart.

After disastrous elections a year ago, the veteran leader stepped up his attacks, slating Abdullah as weak and accusing him of nepotism and corruption, helping force him into an early retirement.

Mahathir ridiculed suggestions that Abdullah has allowed Malaysians a measure more freedom, by giving the government-linked mainstream press more room to operate and tolerating a little more dissent.

"What has happened is that Abdullah has got no power to administer this country. His tendency is to bow to the opposition. He doesn't want to be all this 'free' and all that, but he feels he doesn't have enough support to be strong," he said.

Mahathir also had sharp words for Najib, who was once his protege but disappointed the grand old man of Malaysian politics when he refused to oppose Abdullah's policies or campaign openly for him to quit.

"Unfortunately as a second man (deputy) he hasn't performed very well. His tendency is just to follow blindly his leader," he said.

"It doesn't speak well of a leader who allows himself to be so overawed by his superior."

Najib on Saturday hit out at accusations that he will be a hardline leader, as well as opposition attempts to paint him as corrupt, and link him with the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman,

"They are malicious, baseless lies. I have given my replies but they persist because it a ploy by the opposition," he said. "Give me a chance, judge me by my actions, don't judge me on rumours and baseless allegations.

Mahathir quit the ruling party UMNO last year in protest over Abdullah's leadership, but said on the weekend that he has decided to rejoin, ensuring he will continue to play a prominent role on the Malaysian political stage.

Mar 29, 2009

Malaysia's incoming leader tested as by-election campaign kicks off

PM-in-waiting Datuk Seri Najib faces first test as campaign kicks off for three by-elections.

BUKIT GANTANG, Malaysia: Malaysia's incoming premier Najib Razak faced the first test of his leadership Sunday, as campaigns were launched for three by-elections seen as a barometer of his popularity.

Najib was declared leader of the ruling party UMNO on Thursday, promising to introduce radical reforms after disastrous polls a year ago that jeopardised the UMNO-led coalition's half-century grip on power.

The by-elections on April 7 will provide a snapshot of the public mood, and show whether UMNO has been able to claw back support with its plans to tackle corruption and infighting.

Najib's new deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, kicked off the campaign in the hotspot electorate of Bukit Gantang in northern Perak state, where parties registered candidates for the seat in national parliament that is up for grabs.

"All by-elections are important, especially one that is done after the process of transition of leadership... we want to tell the people this is a team that means business," he told reporters.

Some 15,000 government and opposition supporters turned out for nomination day in the semi-rural district, putting on a rowdy display as they beat on drums, yelled chants and waved party banners.

The other votes are for seats in state parliaments -- one in another northern state Kedah and one in Sarawak on Borneo island which until now has been a stronghold of the UMNO-led coalition.

Ibrahim Suffian from the Merdeka Centre, an independent polling organisation, said the Sarawak seat would be a tough battle, but that the opposition had a good chance of winning the other two contests.

"Losses will put Najib under some pressure because there's a lot of hope in him to fix the party and turn around the electoral fortunes," he told AFP.

"So if they don't win then he has to really think of different ways to regain voter confidence."

The government and the opposition -- which won a third of seats in parliament and five of Malaysia's 13 states in an unprecedented result in March 2008 elections -- have both tried to lower expectations.

"We will work very hard, we are confident but we are also realistic that we are facing tough odds and we know Najib's tactics -- intimidation, fraud, corruption, bribery," opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said last week.

Najib has also tried to play down the ramifications of the electoral clash, likely to take place just days after the formal transition of power from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi which is rumoured to be on April 3.

"The press are making it a referendum all the time," Najib said on Saturday at the end of UMNO's annual meeting, where delegates also selected a new leadership to serve under him.

"It is very hard to say how much (the results) will reflect national considerations. One has to be guarded. We are approaching the by elections with renewed vigour. We will do our level best."

As the son and nephew of two former prime ministers, 55-year-old Najib has an impeccable political pedigree. But he also carries heavy baggage that pundits say could hamper his efforts to reform the party.

Observers say that those factors -- including low popularity ratings and unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and links to a sensational murder -- may see his administration revert to hardline tactics.

Najib hit out at those predictions Saturday, saying he was being prejudged before he even takes office.

"They are malicious, baseless lies. I have given my replies but they persist because it is a ploy by the opposition," he said.

"Give me a chance, judge me by my actions, don't judge me on rumours and baseless allegations. I will reform and I will make changes, I am aware that the people expect me to do certain things."

Mar 28, 2009

PM Badawi to meet Agong on April 2

PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will meet the Agong next Thursday to inform him of his intention to quit as prime minister and hand over the country’s top post to Najib Abdul Razak.

The outgoing PM made the announcement in his closing remarks in his speech as former Umno president to the party's general assembly this afternoon.

"I will have an audience with the king on April 2 to inform His Majesty that I will relinquish my responsibility as the prime minister," Abdullah told party delegates at the end of the annual meeting.

"If His Majesty grants the consent, a date will be fixed for the official (swearing-in) ceremony," he said.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's outgoing premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Saturday he will meet the king on April 2 to set a date for the transition of power to his deputy Najib Razak.

Najib was appointed leader of the ruling party UMNO on Thursday in a handover that had been planned for months. But Abdullah's refusal to set a date to stand down had raised speculation he may be reluctant to quit.

"I will have an audience with the king on April 2 to inform His Majesty that I will relinquish my responsibility as the prime minister," Abdullah told United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) members at the end of their annual meeting.

"If His Majesty grants the consent, a date will be fixed for the official (swearing-in) ceremony," he said.

Tun Mahathir makes surprise entry and will rejoin UMNO

Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a surprise entry on the last day of the Umno general assembly after having declared yesterday that he would snub the meeting following the election of Khairy Jamaluddin as the new Umno Youth chief.

At 12.30pm, he walked into the hall as newly-elected deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin was making his closing remarks.

Immediately, Muhyiddin acknowledged Mahathir's presence and welcomed him as the former Umno president was ushered to the VIP seats.

Najib Abdul Razak's wife, Rosmah Mansor, was seen greeting and attending to Mahathir, who was accompanied by Dr Siti Hasmah.

The two speakers after Muhyiddin, Najib and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, also welcomed Mahathir and wife to the assembly.
(BERNAMA) Former prime minister and Umno president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Saturday he will rejoin Umno.

He said he would announce the date of his return to the party at a suitable time “after (sorting out) several matters”.

“I have to fill up a form. It takes some time. I will let you know later. I am waiting for certain events,” he told reporters after attending the Umno General Assembly at PWTC on Saturday as an observer.

On May 19 last year, at a “ceramah” (talk) in Alor Setar, Kedah, Dr Mahathir announced his withdrawal from Umno, saying he had lost confidence in the party.

Dr Mahathir, accompanied by his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, was seen entering the Dewan Merdeka at PWTC about 12.30pm, when Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was delivering his winding-up speech. Both of them were given a rousing welcome by the delegates, who stood up to show their appreciation.

Dr Mahathir was seen nodding, as though in agreement, when Muhyiddin expressed the hope of seeing the former prime minister rejoin Umno.

Muhyiddin said Dr Mahathir’s presence more or less reflected his recognition of the new Umno leadership line-up, to which the delegates responded with claps.

At the end of the assembly, Dr Mahathir went down to the main stage and exchanged greetings with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Umno Supreme Council members and then he, Abdullah, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Muhyiddin together held up their hands.

Asked why he decided to attend the assembly after having decided against doing so earlier, Dr Mahathir said Muhyiddin’s election as the deputy president gave him the confidence that the anticipated changes in Umno would take place after all.

“I think there is hope for the future,” he said.

Dr Mahathir had stated earlier in his blog,, that he would not attend the assembly as he felt that Umno Youth had openly condoned money politics.

Mar 27, 2009

Tun Mahathir calls Umno Youth corrupt for electing Khairy

It is expected that Tun Mahathir will criticize the recent UMNO Youth election result where Khairy Jamaluddin has defeated Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 - The expected backlash from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has arrived.

And the venom was aimed directly at Khairy Jamaluddin, the politician who defeated Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir on the way to becoming the Umno Youth chief.

Some of the vitriol was also sprayed on the youth wing and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, both whom he accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in Umno.

Dr Mahathir's tirade is likely to widen the rift in Umno Youth following Khairy's victory on Wednesday and appeared designed to put pressure on Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to exclude Abdullah's son-in-law from the Cabinet.

If allowed to fester, this bad blood could have an impact on the three by-elections as well as force a confrontation between some Umno leaders and Dr Mahathir.

In a post on his blog, he said that he did not attend the opening of the Umno general assembly yesterday because Umno Youth openly sanctioned money politics by electing Khairy.

"They picked as their leader someone who was found guilty of using money and other inducements in his effort to get elected as the head of Umno Youth…Never before has a person who has been acknowledged as corrupt by the party disciplinary board, by the party and the public being elected and hailed as the leader.

"Pemuda has sullied the image of the party and the Malays. It appears that money is more important than one's race and country, '' said the former party president, who wondered whether the rest of Malaysia would accept a leader like Khairy.

Dr Mahathir also added an element of conspiracy into the youth elections, questioning why it took six hours to count 790 votes.

"Didn't they know how to count? Or was there an attempt to ensure victory for the son-in-law of the Prime Minister?

"The PM should not talk about rejecting corrupt leaders because his son-in-law who is corrupt has been given special treatment, '' said the former prime minister, who was unhappy that Khairy was let off with a warning by the disciplinary board while Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Ali Rustam was barred from contesting the deputy president's position for breaching party ethics.

Some of Dr Mahathir's comments are probably borne out of frustration of being unable to convince party delegates to end Khairy's political career in Umno.

In the run-up to the party elections, he attacked Khairy repeatedly and cautioned the 790 Umno Youth delegates against voting for him, labeling him as corrupt.

His campaign did not bear dividends and his son polled 230 votes to finish third behind Khairy and former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Khir Toyo.

This blog posting by Dr Mahathir is not likely to be the last word on this subject.

Hounding Abdullah and Khairy has become a preoccupation for the former prime minister; who has identified the both of them as the villains who undermined his legacy.

Mar 26, 2009

UMNO Results : Muhyiddin wins deputy presidency

Official Umno results:
Deputy president: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin - 1,575 votes

Vice presidents: Datuk Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi - 1,552 votes, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein - 1,515 votes, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal - 1,445 votes.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 – Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin convincingly defeated Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib in the race to be deputy president of Umno.

Muhyiddin obtained 1,575 votes and Muhammad, 997.

The strongest critic of Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, Muhyiddin was the first senior leader to urge the outgoing premier to step down after the disastrous general election last year and his victory will be widely seen as the delegates’ appreciation to the Pagoh MP for making that move.

Muhyiddin was also said to be Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s preferred choice for the post and he had also received the endorsement of another strong critic of Abdullah, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Throughout the intense race, Muhyiddin was said to be trailing behind Datuk Seri Ali Rustam but the Umno disciplinary board’s decision to bar the Malacca chief Minister from contesting gave Muhyiddin the lead in the race.

His victory put paid to the theory that disappointed supporters of Ali would swing to Muhammad and propel him to the No 2 post.

Najib, the next PM faces rough ride

Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the PM-in-waiting is facing an enormous task ahead of him.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's next premier, the urbane Najib Razak, faces an enormous task to rebuild the shattered ruling party and win back the support of voters who deserted it at elections a year ago.

The son and nephew of two former prime ministers, the 55-year-old who was Thursday declared president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has considerable political pedigree.

But the veteran party operative, who is expected to be sworn in as prime minister next week, also carries heavy baggage that pundits say could make an already difficult job even more tricky.

And there are fears that baggage -- including low popularity ratings and unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and links to a sensational murder -- may see his administration revert to hardline tactics.

Political analyst Shahruddin Badaruddin said he expected Najib to model himself on his father, Abdul Razak, who took over after 1969 race riots that inflicted a deep wound on the multicultural nation.

"Abdul Razak was seen as being hardline in his policies and restoring order to the country," the analyst told AFP.

"But if Najib takes this position, it will not do him any favours as the people and the political climate is not the same as back then."

Currently deputy premier, Najib is the longest-serving cabinet minister having entered politics aged 23 after the 1976 death in office of his father, who was the country's second prime minister.

In line with the UMNO tradition of uncontested transitions, Najib has long been heir apparent to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, but one recent poll showed only 41 percent of voters believe he will make a good leader.

Najib has been forced to repeatedly deny any involvement in the 2006 killing of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu, the lover of one of his close aides, whose body was blown up with military-grade explosives.

While there is no evidence Najib was involved, the case continues to captivate Malaysians and critics say that the many unanswered questions should be probed in an official investigation.

The opposition has also accused Najib of involvement in the alleged payment of large commissions to close associates for the purchases of two submarines and 18 fighter jets -- charges the government has denied.

He assumes power at a time of crisis for the Malaysian economy, which risks slipping into recession this year.

And he also personally headed the government's failed campaigns for two by-elections, seen as a barometer for the public mood since the UMNO-led coalition lost unprecedented ground in March 2008 elections.

Mild-mannered and always dressed immaculately, Najib took a degree in economics at the University of Nottingham in Britain before returning home in the mid-1970s to take key posts at the central bank and the national oil firm.

He also held several cabinet posts in the 1980s and 1990s, modernising the military as defence minister before becoming deputy premier in January 2004.

Although Najib was a contender for the premiership before, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad chose Abdullah in 2003 -- a choice Mahathir later said he regretted after he fell out with his successor.

Abdullah, who has allowed more openness in Malaysian society, on Thursday warned UMNO members in his last speech as leader not to revert to the authoritarian era of Mahathir.

But many expressed a yearning for the past, when the party reigned supreme.

"I think Najib will return UMNO to its glory days. He will lead UMNO to regain political dominance," said Mohsin Yusoff, the party's youth chief in northern Perlis state.

No date has been set for the formal transition of power, but Najib is expected to be sworn in by the king on April 3.

Najib offciially declared the new president of UMNO

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has been officially declared the new Umno president. The announcement was made by Umno permanent chairman Tan Sri Onn Ismail at PWTC Thursday. Najib won the post uncontested.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's deputy prime minister Najib Razak was Thursday officially declared president of the ruling party, a role that will make him the country's next leader.

In a uncontested transition that has been planned for several months, Najib was appointed president of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which leads the Barisan Nasional coalition of race-based parties.

"For the post of UMNO president, Najib Razak won uncontested," UMNO permanent chairman Onn Ismail said at the party's annual meeting, where delegates are voting for a range of top positions.

No date has been set for the formal transition of power from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, but Najib is expected to be sworn in by the king on April 3.

Khairy Is New UMNO Youth Chairman

The famous son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin has done it.
KUALA LUMPUR: After a recount, Khairy Jamaluddin was announced the winner of the UMNO Youth election by very slim majority.

He received a total of 304 votes, beating his two opponents Khir Toyo and Mukhriz Mahathir, who bagged 254 and 232 votes respectively.

Mar 25, 2009

Umno results: Shahrizat is new Wanita chief

Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil is the new Wanita Umno head. Shahrizat, 56, defeated incumbent Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz. She received 507 votes to Rafidah’s 280 votes. The Wanita No. 2 post was won uncontested by Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim.
(Malaysiakini) In a stunning victory, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil today deposed reigning Iron Lady Rafidah Aziz as Umno Wanita chief.

In the final count, Rafidah only garnered 280 votes compared to Shahrizat's 507.

Shahrizat had gone for broke by challenging Rafidah, who had ruled the wing for more than 20 years.

Shahrizat, who did not defend her deputy chief post, needed to win this contest to remain in the political mainstream.

Rafidah was not in the main hall when the announcement was made at 9.15pm.

PM : 'Najib will take over as planned'

PM Abdullah Badawi has confirmed that he is leaving the post of President of UMNO and the post Prime Minister by the end of this month. He said nothing could stop the handover to Datuk Seri Najib.

NST : Nothing could stop the handover from taking place, he said at a press conference after a closed-door meeting with Umno delegates at Dewan Merdeka of the Putra World Trade Centre here.

Present were Najib and Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

Abdullah was asked on the move by two Umno members, Datuk Mazlan Harun and Datuk Kadar Shah Ninam Shah, who yesterday applied to the Registrar of Societies to suspend all Umno activities and de-register the party.

The two went to the ROS in Putrajaya, where they submitted a stack of documents alleging money politics in the party.

Abdullah said no one could stop the assembly or the transition. "Who is doing all this? It's impossible and it can never happen.

"How can anybody stop Umno from holding its assembly? They also cannot stop us from doing what we have agreed upon. Najib will be the (party) president once confirmation is given and the transition process (to Najib as prime minister) will take place."

Abdullah, however, did not refer to the transition at the meeting. "I did not touch on it at all because it is a topic that everyone knows about.

"What I emphasised was that party elections at all levels must be conducted smoothly."

He also commented on his last briefing to the delegates as president.

"What am I feeling? I was just as happy as I am. I am not the sentimental type. After all, I have been talking to them. I will be very happy to see Umno and Umno people doing well but if they cry, I will also cry."

Abdullah said he had been upset with some quarters in Umno, who had pressed unduly for a transfer of power.

"Yes (I was offended). Why disturb me? I know what I am supposed to do and I will do what I am supposed to do. I don't have to be disturbed."

On the suspension of Pas' and Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Harakah and Suara Keadilan respectively by the Home Ministry, Abdullah said there must have been valid reasons to warrant the three-month suspension.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar had said the suspension would take effect immediately following non-compliance by the newsletters.

Tengku Adnan said online media such as Malaysiakini were barred from covering the assembly because of their "irresponsible" reporting.

"If you report responsibly, we will let you come in but the reports so far are sickening."

Najib: Umno must change to remain relevant

Umno president-elect Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has called on party members to embrace change as demanded by the people and at the same time stay united to recapture lost ground.

“Change from being aloof to being friendly and approachable; from always thinking of our self interest to instead putting the interest of the people above our own; from laziness to diligence and from doing the required minimum to embracing a passion for service,” he said when opening the joint Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings assemblies here last night.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak signalled his intention tonight to change Umno’s electoral system by taking away the vote from just party delegates in a move which he says is necessary to save the party and win back the support of ordinary Malaysians.

“This move will be able to put to an end the problems of money politics and abuse of power,” the incoming Umno president and the country’s next prime minister told delegates of the party’s Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings tonight.

Najib’s remarks tonight, goes further than what any other Umno leader has suggested to introduce the kind of reforms needed to counter the widespread perception of Umno as a corrupt party.

The Umno deputy president said the party must now reexamine its quota system for selecting candidates to senior positions and give the vote to a greater number of members.

“As it stands the deciders are a delegation of some 2,600 delegates from 191 divisions. Clearly the choice of these delegates cannot correctly reflect the preferences of more than three million grassroots members.

“To my mind the time has come for us to review the constitution of Umno so that the selection of Umno leaders will be more inclusive,” he said.

Najib’s proposal may cause some controversy among delegates who have largely benefitted from being courted for their votes, but it is likely to get the backing of party members as well as ordinary Malaysians.

Spelling out the need for Umno to reinvigorate itself, he implored party members to undertake a process of addressing its weaknesses or risk being continued to be seen as a party in denial.

“To do this Umno must first remove itself from being linked to money politics and any other form of unsavoury activities. Umno will be destroyed if its leaders are enshrouded in the evils of money politics.

“Clearly if this evil is not halted and is allowed to grow and fester it will become so commonplace that leaders and followers alike can make light of it with humorous remarks like ‘beri salah take beri kalah (To give would be wrong, not to give would result in defeat)’,” he said.

Umno has been heavily criticised in recent weeks over the manner in which it has handled the problem of money politics, or vote buying, especially after the party barred Datuk Ali Rustam from contesting elections but allowed a number of other leaders to continue their campaigns despite perceptions of impropriety against them as well.

In recent days, senior leaders aligned with Najib have been working hard to try to convince delegates to reject tainted candidates.

While tonight’s remarks were addressed towards his own party, Najib clearly acknowledged the anticipation of him becoming prime minister next week by acknowledging the negative public perception of Umno.

Touching on the party’s worst ever electoral performance in last year’s general elections, he said: “We lost the two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time since Barisan Nasional was formed. It is an awful and bitter truth, but a truth none the less and one which we must accept.”

He said public perception showed the party had swayed far from its original struggle and its raison d’etre.

“That being the case, your collective duty as delegates this year is the heaviest duty to have ever been borne by any delegation in the history of Umno.

“What is at stake is nothing less than the fate of Umno. The decision we collectively make at this assembly will determine the future of our party; whether we continue to shape and mould history or just become an entry in the annals of history.”

Najib also gave a particularly measured response to accusations that the government’s affirmative action policies were akin to racial segregation.

“There are those who dare question what has previously been agreed to and entrenched in the federal constitution. There are even those who have the audacity to accuse us of Apartheid when history will show this is far from the truth.

“Let it be known that the policies introduced by the government in aid of the Malays are not formulated because we feel that the Malays are better than everyone else. Rather we crated these policies precisely because the Malays are left behind compared to others.”

Mar 24, 2009

All eyes on UMNO's upcoming annual congress

Whether you love or loathe Umno, there is no denying that its much-anticipated 63rd general assembly will be closely monitored when it convenes from this evening. Deputy president Najib Abdul Razak, who will flag off the meeting, will be the man of the moment.

KUALA LUMPUR: In Malaysia, all eyes are on the ruling party United Malays Nasional Organisation's (UMNO) annual congress this week.

55-year-old deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to be installed as UMNO president who, by convention will assume the country's premiership.

His policy speech setting the country's future direction and his choice of cabinet members will be scrutinised by millions within and outside the party.

Since the last general election a year ago, UMNO has been plagued by crisis of confidence, and has been unable to implement crucial reforms as it struggles to regain its footing.

This week's general assembly may well determine the future survival of the party that has dominated Malaysia's politics in the last 50 years.

Incoming president Najib Razak, who is taking over the party's top leadership from Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, has his work cut out for him.

Not only is the economy teetering on the verge of recession, the party UMNO is at its lowest point in history.

Said Abdullah Ahmad, former news editor in chief of NSTP: "I don't envy Najib becoming Prime Minister. You know why? Because this is the worst time, (take for example) economic problems.

"UMNO is not as strong as it used to be - for the first time last year it lost five states. (But Najib) is a good man, he's capable and you'll not be ashamed of having a PM like him."

With the next general election expected to be held before 2013, Mr Najib, who is battling allegations of corruption, may be running out of time to restore negative public perceptions towards himself and the party.

But according to the former news editor, who used to serve under Mr Najib's father, former prime minister Abdul Razak, it is still not too late.

He explained that the choices Mr Najib makes for his team will ultimately determine the fate of UMNO.

"Unless he changes UMNO completely radically, I think he will be the last UMNO prime minister,” he said. “But having said that, a week is a long time in politics, and he’s got two, three more years. He's got time to reinvent himself, reinvent UMNO and I know he wants to do that.

"(But the question is, does) he have the determination, and the political will to do that? This is the real test of his leadership. Who are the people he will bring to his cabinetm, and who will be his advisors?"

Trade minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who has been perceived as having the least political baggage, is favoured to be Mr Najib's second in command.

He faces Vice President Muhd Muhd Taib in a straight fight for the deputy presidency after Mohd Ali Rustam, the Chief Minister of Malacca, was barred from contesting for breach of party ethics.

The race for the party's Youth Chief race is also keenly watched.

There is a three cornered fight that includes Prime Minsiter Abdullah's son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, and Mukhriz, son of former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Meanwhile, former trade minister Rafidah Aziz, dubbed the iron lady, is defending her post as Women’s Chief after umpteen years.

Also up for grabs are three vice president posts and 25 supreme council seats with 51 candidates vying for them.

Mar 23, 2009

PAS's Harakah and PKR's Suara Keadilan banned

In a move that appears to be geared towards handicapping the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) machinery ahead of the three by-elections on April 7, Suara Keadilan and Harakah have been banned for three months by the Home Ministry with immediate effect.

The party organs of Pas and PKR respectively were informed of the decision around 5pm this evening by fax with no reason given.

This effectively bars them from covering the Umno general assembly and the Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai by-elections.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's opposition said Tuesday that two of its newspapers have been banned for three months, in what they fear is the start of a media crackdown under incoming premier Najib Razak.

Malaysia is entering a period of intense political activity, with a leadership transition, a critical ruling party conference, and three high-profile by-elections all to take place in the next few weeks.

Two newspapers belonging to parties in the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance have been targeted -- "Suara Keadilan" run by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party, and "Harakah" which belongs to the Islamic party PAS.

"We received a letter from the home ministry this afternoon saying Suara Keadilan has been banned for three months with immediate effect," said Keadilan spokesman Tian Chua.

"We fear that this action by the government is a prelude to a general clampdown on press freedom in Malaysia," he told AFP.

PAS secretary-general Kamaruddin Jaafar said the party would appeal against the decision.

"This is a violation of the freedom of media and a violation of a political party's right to have its official organ published freely," he said.

"This is another sign of a new era of repressions with Najib coming into power."

Najib is due to replace Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the ruling party UMNO holds a general assembly this week.

Murder of 'Far Eastern Mata Hari' linked to Malaysia's PM-in-waiting

The Australian newspaper has published the latest story involving Altantuya with the headline 'Murder of 'Far Eastern Mata Hari' linked to Malaysia's PM-in-waiting'. The story was co-written by journalists Michael Sheridan and Matthew Campbell.

The Australian : MARCH 23 - A French arms company is at the centre of a deepening scandal involving the sale of three submarines, the murder of a beautiful Mongolian interpreter and the man most likely to become prime minister of Malaysia next month.

All three have been linked in a sensational sequence of revelations that have convinced many Malaysians the woman was killed to silence her claim for a share in the rewards of the arms transaction.

The scandal exploded last week after French newspaper Liberation alleged the submarines deal and the murder of Altantuya Shariibuu, 28, were connected. A glamorous and cosmopolitan woman, Altantuya grew up in St Petersburg, spoke Russian, Chinese, Korean and English, moved in elite circles and has been dubbed "a Far Eastern Mata Hari".

She became the mistress of a Malaysian political fixer and was allegedly trying to extort money from him at the time of her violent death.

Two members of an elite Malaysian police unit that protects top politicians are on trial in Kuala Lumpur, accused of shooting her in the jungle and then blowing up her body with military explosives.

Special Branch officers Azilah Hadri, 32, and Sirul Azhar Umar, 36, could go to the gallows if convicted of abducting and murdering Altantuya on October 19, 2006. A verdict is expected early next month.

Their trial is unfolding as Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak stands on the verge of taking over as premier after a ruling party leadership election, due within days.

Mr Najib was accused in parliament by a young opposition MP, Gobind Singh Deo, of involvement in the murder. Mr Deo was suspended by the speaker for making the remark. Mr Najib has strongly denied any involvement.

Testimony in an earlier court case has established an intimate personal and financial connection between Altantuya and a close aide to Mr Najib, who was defence minister at the time of the submarine deal.

The aide, Abdul Razak Baginda, was acquitted by a court last November of being an accessory in the murder.

He has since been working on a doctorate at Trinity College, Oxford.

Mr Baginda admitted Altantuya was his mistress for about a year and prosecutors said she had demanded money from him after their break-up.

Just before her death, she arrived in Kuala Lumpur, accompanied by a Mongolian shaman, who was to put a curse on Mr Baginda if he did not pay up.

Altantuya was dragged away from outside Mr Baginda's home by two Special Branch officers, but he was acquitted after maintaining that he had never given orders for her to be harmed.

The Liberation expose linking the murder to the shadowy world of arms contracts has embarrassed the French warship firm DCNS. Armaris, a firm now merged with DCNS, sold the three submarines to Malaysia in 2002 for Euro 1 billion (RM4.3 billion).

Attention has centred on why Armaris paid Euro114 million to a Malaysian company called Perimekar in 2006.

Opposition leaders alleged in parliament that the payment was a "commission" for intermediaries and that Perimekar was secretly owned by Mr Baginda. Mr Najib replied that it was not a "commission" and that Perimekar was a "project services provider". Liberation alleged Altantuya learned of the payment and demanded $US500,000 (RM1,800 million).

DCNS has refused to comment on the case. It is already the subject of a French judicial investigation into corrupt practices. Efforts to contact Mr Baginda, a self-styled political analyst, at his new home in Oxford were unsuccessful last week.

Mr Najib has avoided public comment, but his wife told Agence France Presse she was shocked by attempts to link her husband to the case.

Mar 22, 2009

Tun Mahathir wants the famous son-in-law out

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is asking all the Umno delegates and incoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to freeze Khairy Jamaluddin out of the party and government.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has gone for the jugular, pressing the Umno delegates and incoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to freeze Khairy Jamaluddin out of the party and government.

This move by the former prime minister is the latest verbal volley against the son-in-law of his nemesis, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and appears to be a final push to improve Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir's chances of being elected as the Umno Youth chief on Thursday.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the battle for the youth wing is turning out to be a fight between Khairy and Datuk Dr Khir Toyo, with Mukhriz trailing some way behind.
Though no longer an Umno member, Dr Mahathir carries considerable influence in the party and has been commenting on trend of money politics in Umno and the ineffectiveness of the party's disciplinary board to censure the culprits.

In his latest blog posting, he slammed the disciplinary tribunal for missing out on a great opportunity to bar candidates who had used money to buy votes.

"If they had done so, this would have improved the image of the party and there is a good chance that the party would win in the next general elections. But because tribunal has allowed candidates said to be corrupt to contest, there is a good chance that they will be elected to the
Supreme Council, '' he said.

He said that only Najib could save the party.

"When Dato Seri Najib forms the new government, he can reject these leaders and do not give them any positions in the Cabinet or government. I believe Dato Seri Abdullah will force Najib to pick certain individuals as Cabinet ministers.

"We of course know about the desire of someone to become the youngest Prime Minister. The fact is that even if he wins, his involvement in the government will cause voters to reject Barisan Nasional in the next general elections. If Dato Seri Najib picks the corrupt and certain people in his Cabinet, Umno will be destroyed, '' said Dr Mahathir, who believes that Khairy was the power behind the throne and person who influenced Abdullah to chart his own style of administration and undermine the former prime minister's legacy.

Ground reports suggest that either Khir Toyo or Khairy will emerge victorious on Thursday. Khir Toyo was cleared of graft by the disciplinary board while Khairy was warned but allowed to contest.

This latest posting by Dr Mahathir is a gentle reminder to Najib that the latter's choices for the Cabinet will have to be "endorsed'' and "sanctioned'' by the former prime minister.

Otherwise, Najib can expect to be criticized from the sidelines.

Dr Mahathir, who quit Umno in protest against Abdullah's leadership, is expected to attend the party's general assembly as an observer. He is also likely to be given an unofficial role in the new administration.

Mar 20, 2009

Ali Rustam's Appeal Rejected

The Umno appeals panel has unanimously rejected the appeal by Umno vice-president Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam against the decision to bar him from contesting in party elections next week.

Its chairman Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Kamaluddin said the panel upheld the Umno Disciplinary Board's decision to bar Mohd Ali him from contesting in the elections in line with Article 29(C) of the Umno constitution.

(Malaysiakini) The Umno appeals panel today rejected Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam's appeal to overturn the decision to bar him from contesting for the Umno deputy presidency.

According to Bernama, the panel made a unanimous decision on the matter.

Its chairperson, Mohd Zuki Kamaluddin, said the punishment meted out on Mohd Ali takes immediate effect.

Prior to the meeting, Zuki had said he believes that the disciplinary committee had taken all factors into consideration before making a decision.

With polling just five days away, the chief minister's only hope rests with the Umno supreme council, which has yet to hold its final meeting ahead of the March 26 party polls.

On Tuesday, Mohd Ali was barred from contesting by the Umno disciplinary committee for allegedly being involved in money politics through his agent.

Certain quarters alleged that it was a conspiracy to exclude Mohd Ali, who was tipped to be in the lead, in order to ensure victory for the preferred candidate Muhyiddin Yassin.

However, incoming Umno president Najib Abdul Razak, Muhyiddin and even Mohd Ali have dismissed this.

Mohd Ali is seen to be aligned to outgoing president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Should the supreme council endorse the disciplinary committee's decision, observers say the backlash could tilt the scales in favour of Muhammad Muhd Taib, the other 'Abdullah camp' contender for the number two slot.

Tun Mahathir: Zaid’s plea to King on Najib ‘very stupid’

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has rubbished a statement by former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim on the country’s leadership transition.

“Why should the Yang diPertuan Agong listen to the opinion of only one man? And the person who made that suggestion is not even a credible figure,” he said.

“Takkan Yang di-Pertuan Agong mahu dengar cakap katak. (I don’t think the Yang diPertuan Agong would listen to a frog),” he told reporters at his office here, yesterday.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today it is illogical to call on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as the prime minister.

Commenting on the call by Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, urging the Yang di-Pertuan Agong not to appoint Najib as the prime minister, Dr Mahathir said, “He can say what he likes but he is just one person.”

“Whether the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will listen to the opinion of one person will be up to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he said.

He was speaking at a news conference to announce the “Forum and Exhibition on Gaza Genocide: Palestine Solution” here today.

Zaid, the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, claimed that Najib’s appointment would divide the people.

Dr Mahathir said: “The person who made this suggestion is not someone who is regarded highly or someone who is rational. If I were the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, I wouldn’t even want to read about this. It’s too stupid. Who does he want to be?”

Asked whether he would fully support Najib’s appointment as the prime minister, Dr Mahathir said, “I will give a full backing to Datuk Najib on condition that he must not appoint any of the corrupt leaders to his cabinet.”

He also commented on perception that Najib was corrupt.

“I’m not talking about what people believe. A lot of people believe about something but there is no legal stand taken on whether Najib is corrupt or not.”

Asked on his choice for the Umno deputy president’s post, Dr Mahathir said, it would be Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the International Trade and Industry Minister.

“I think what is left is somebody who is... well, could not read English and therefore he did something wrong in Australia. So my choice is Muhyiddin,” he said.

The contest for the deputy presidency is now between Muhyiddin and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib.

A third candidate, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was barred from contesting after the party’s disciplinary board found him guilty of breaching party ethics.

Dr Mahathir also commented on the statement by Mohd Ali that he (Dr Mahathir) had a hand in the recent decision taken by the disciplinary board.

Dr Mahathir said: “I wish I had but I’m not a member of Umno. If I had been involved, I would have thrown him out from the very beginning but I’m not involved. I have to very reluctantly wait for the decision by the board and I’m not completely happy with it.”

He said that Mohd Ali should be treated the same way former Umno vice-president Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad was treated in 2005.

“Isa was thrown out because he was involved in money politics but he also lost his position as a minister. But here, we have a very strange decision.

“He was found to be corrupt but he can remain as the Chief Minister (of Melaka). Now we have a person who is confirmed corrupt but the party accepted him as the chief minister.

“If you pass judgment, you must be consistent. It must apply to everybody in the same way and in the same amount.

“You cannot say, well, he killed that person so he should be hanged. And then he killed another person but this other person is not important, so let him go,” he said.

The former Umno president also spoke on the possibility of a “motion of confidence” be tabled in Parliament to have Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi remained as the prime minister.

“It’s a possibility; it’s not against the law. The law provides that to be the prime minister, you must have the support of the majority in Parliament but it does not say from which party.

“According to the constitution, the person who shall be made the prime minister is a person who has the majority support in Parliament. If you appoint somebody who has no majority support, he will be out,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said that there was nothing in the Federal Constitution which stated that the Umno president must be the prime minister.

“There is no provision. That is only our arrangement,” he said, adding that legally, the current prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi could continue serving his term until the next general election if he wanted to.

“But of course he may face a vote of no confidence in Parliament... he has a good chance of winning with the support of opposition members but he will become the prime minister of the opposition,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said opposition members also had votes in Parliament and if they, together with some members of the Barisan Nasional, were to vote for Abdullah, “then he will be the PM.” — Bernama

Mar 19, 2009

Tun Mahathir endorses Muhyiddin as DPM

Tun Mahathir has endorsed Datuk Seri Muhyiddin Yassin to be the next Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. He also openly criticize Muhammad Muhd Taib as someone that is poor English and a corrupted politician.

(Malaysiakini) “One of the candidates couldn’t write in English, he couldn’t speak English and therefore (that was why) he did something wrong in Australia because he could not understand English. My choice is Muhyiddin (Yassin).”

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad made this sarcasm-tinged comments when asked by a reporter as to who he would endorse as the country’s new number 2 once current Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak takes over the country.

Muhammad Muhd Taib and Muhyiddin are the only two candidates left contesting for the deputy presidency of Umno after the party’s disciplinary board barred Malacca Umno chief and Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam from contesting following his involvement in money politics.

It is therefore clear who the sarcasm was targeted at.

Although the reason given by Mahathir not to endorse Muhd Taib appears to be superficial, the former premier has stronger reasons as to why he thought Muhd Taib would not make the best candidate for the deputy presidency.

“It is important for the party that only personalities 'beyond any suspicion' are in the leadership line-up,” he told a press conference at his KLCC office this afternoon.

He said it was important for Umno members to be aware that Umno had already been rejected by the people as reflected in its poor performance in the March 8 polls last year.

“This is caused by widespread public perception that Umno is a party with corrupt leadership and therefore members must elect clean leaders in the party polls next week in order to restore public confidence in the party.

And for him, Muhd Taib who was arrested in 1996 for carrying RM2.4 million in cash in Australia is seen by the public as a corrupt person and does not exactly fit in the ‘clean character’ bill.

To a reporter’s query of the possibility that Mohd Ali’s supporters may back Muhd Taib given their perception that their leader has been sabotaged, Mahathir replied, “If that is the case, the real verdict will come at the 13th general election.

“When the public see that Umno members are electing someone who is not above suspicion, I think they will make a decision. They can elect him as deputy president but Umno will lose the next election,” he said.

Ku Li: Ali Rustam can ask ROS to stop Umno polls

According to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam's body and soul might be Umno but he can appeal to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to stop the Umno elections as his rights have been deprived. Writing in his popular weblog, the Kelantan prince said it is wrong to deprive the Umno vice-president of his candidacy or his right to vote as long as he remains a member.

“Mohd Ali can appeal to the Registrar of Societies to put a stop to the Elections if he is unlawfully deprived of his eligibility for office. At the very least, his appeal against his punishment needs to be heard before the party elections commence next week,” Tengku Razaleigh wrote in his latest post.

(Malaysiakini) Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam can appeal to the Registrar of Societies to stop the Umno elections, said party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

On Tuesday, the Umno disciplinary committee found Mohd Ali, who is vying for the deputy president post, guilty of breaching campaigning rules.

Following this, he was disqualified from contesting but remains a party member and chief minister.

Commenting on this in his latest blog posting today, Razaleigh said the committee's move may be in contravention of the party constitution and Societies Act 1966.

Razaleigh said the Act allows for members of a registered body to have full rights to vote and hold office in that organisation.

"The disciplinary committee can remove certain privileges but not rights provided by the (party) constitution. Umno's constitution cannot be interpreted contrary to the Societies Act.

"So long as Mohd Ali remains a member, it is just as wrong to deprive him of his candidacy as to deprive him of his right to vote," he said.

Elaborating further, Razaleigh pointed out that Umno supreme council member Norza Zakaria is still eligible to defend his post despite having been charged in court for the alleged inducement of voters through agents.

"What holds for Norza holds for Mohd Ali too. Members may not be barred from contesting," he added.

Najib : Ali Rustam is not a scapegoat

Prime Minister-to-be Najib Abdul Razak today took pains to deny there was any selective persecution of Umno deputy president hopeful Mohd Ali Rustam, who reportedly has the backing of the outgoing premier.

He stressed that Mohd Ali was not made a scapegoat in the ruling party's fight against money politics where the deputy president candidate had been barred by the powerful Umno disciplinary committee from contesting in next week's polls.

PUTRAJAYA, March 19 — Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam was not made a scapegoat by Umno in its efforts to crackdown on vote buying in the party election campaign.

Deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this to reporters today when quizzed about Mohd Ali, who is appealing his disqualification from the deputy presidential race.

"No, this is not the case," he said, when asked if Mohd Ali was made a scapegoat in the party's bid to fight money politics.

Instead, Najib, who will be elected unopposed as president in next week's party polls, said that the disciplinary board's integrity should not be questioned as it would lead to a chain of implications.

"We must make a firm stand. If not all sorts of activities will take place in a bid to grab positions in the party. We cannot compromise and have to place our trust in the board.

"It is not a fun job and we cannot accuse the board of having an agenda or hidden motive," the deputy prime minister said.

Adding that the board acted independently without any external influence, he said that it could only discipline members based on facts.

"Even if we think someone is guilty, it cannot take action without information," he explained.

Najib also said in the case of Mohd Ali, the disciplinary board decided not to make any ruling on his position as Malacca chief minister based on the fact that the wrongdoing was by "certain individuals," implying that Mohd Ali was not fully aware of what had transpired.

He added that Mohd Ali would also continue as election head for Kuala Sepetang, a state constituency under the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat, for the upcoming by-election there.

Najib also said that Mohd Ali's fate now rested with the panel of appeal and whether or not a decision would be made before the party polls was up to the panel.

"Everyone has a right to appeal," he said but added that whether it is successful or not, depended on the circumstances at hand.

Mar 18, 2009

Zaid Ibrahim urges King not to make Najib the next PM

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has made an impassioned plea to the King to not appoint Datuk Seri Najib Razak as prime minister, and instead appoint someone else from Umno "to bring us back from the brink."

The former de facto law minister urged the King to used his judgment to appoint as PM someone who is "beyond reproach in his dealings both official and private," in a scathing attack on his former Cabinet and party colleague.

"A prime minister must have the confidence of the majority of the rakyat…For this to be the case there cannot be anything in the mind of the greater public that, correctly or otherwise, associates him with matters of criminality, wrongful action, improper conduct or abuses of power," he said in a speech to the Rotary Club here today.

(Malaysiakini) Sacked Umno veteran Zaid Ibrahim today called on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to make the correct choice - by not appointing Najib Abdul Razak as the country's next prime minister.

"These are difficult times. Malaysia needs a leader who will unite the country in the face of adversity. Divided we are weak.

"I am loath to say it but for the reasons that I have set out, I am compelled to say that Najib will most certainly divide us and in doing so, will nudge us closer to the edge," he said.

Speaking at the Royal Rotary Club of Kuala Lumpur's weekly luncheon meeting, the former law minister said there are still well qualified Umno parliamentarians who could be appointed as prime minister.

"For King and country, I urge his majesty to take into consideration the prerequisites to the appointment and the concerns of the rakyat.

"There is no constitutional obligation on his majesty to appoint the president of Umno as the prime minister," he added in his speech titled 'If Truth be Told'.

Najib is slated to assume the prime minister's position later this month when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi steps down.

Save for the dawn of Merdeka, Zaid said, never in the history of this country has the choice of prime minister been so crucial.

Malaysia, he noted, is in crisis. "We are facing tremendous economic challenges with unavoidably harsh socio-political consequences. Our much undermined democracy is once again being assailed by those who would prefer a more autocratic form of governance."

"Our public institutions are hollowed out caricatures, unable to distinguish vested party interests from national ones, unable to offer the man in the street refuge from the powerful and connected.

"Our social fabric that took us from colony to an independent nation and on through the obstacles of nation building has reached a point where it sometimes feel like we are hanging on by a thread. This is the Malaysia we live in," he said.

UMNO : Ali Rustam calls for calm, to appeal decision

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said he accepted, with an open heart, the party’s disciplinary board decision that bars him from contesting the deputy president position although he had refuted any wrongdoing when he was hauled before the committee. He also said he would appeal the decision by end of Wednesday. He also apologised to his supporters, urged them to be calm and close ranks for the sake of party unity.

(Malaysiakini) Umno vice-president Mohd Ali Rustam has urged his supporters to remain calm in the wake of the party's decision to bar him to contest for the deputy president's post for alleged money politics.

He also added that he accepted the decision made by Umno disciplinary committee yesterday, but maintained his innocence by denying any wrongdoing.

The Malacca Chief Minister is expected to meet party president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today to discuss this matter.

Talking to reporters at his official residence in Malacca this morning, Ali Rustam said he would be appealing to the party supreme council.

"I reiterate that I am not guilty (of money politics). I hope the supreme council will accept my appeal today. I hope my intention to contest will be allowed," he said.

The appeal is then expected to be forwarded to the party's appeal board and it is uncertain if the board can decide on the matter before party polls later this month.

Yesterday the party's disciplinary committee chairperson Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail said Mohd Ali was disqualified from running for the post after three of his aides were found guilty of vote-buying.

He said that Mohd Ali's political secretary Saadun Basirun and two other agents were found guilty of being involved in vote buying.

No other details were however revealed. Saadun and the other two Mohd Ali's agents were suspended from the party for three years.

Mohd Ali's party membership however was not suspended.

Supporters met Abdullah

Following that a group of Mohd Ali's supporters had gathered at the Royal Air Force base in Subang last night to appeal to Abdullah to reconsider the decision.

The group, numbering some 150, was waiting for Abdullah's return from his official visit to Indonesia.

According to one Mohd Ali supporter, the premier had agreed to meet Mohd Ali today.

Earlier yesterday another group of people had gathered in Ipoh - where Mohd Ali and other candidates were in a meet-the-delegates session - to show support to the embattled vice-president.

A smaller group of supporters had also protested when the decision to bar Mohd Ali was made at Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The party supreme council - the party's highest body- is expected to hold an emergency meeting today but this could not be confirmed.

Before the decision to bar Mohd Ali from contesting was made, the likeable candidate was seen by many as being able to score an upset by winning for the powerful deputy president's post.

His stars have been rising in recent weeks amongst the delegates and many had speculated that he would be able to knock off the other two candidates - vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin and information chief Muhammad Muhd Taib - to be incoming president Najib Abdul Razak's deputy.

Mar 17, 2009

Tun Mahathir : Najib fails to shine

Dr Mahathir Mohamad today expressed disappointment in the performance of incoming premier Najib Abdul Razak, who was once seen as the 83-year-old statesman's preferred candidate for the top spot.

Speaking to Reuters, he said Najib needs to take swift action to reverse the declining support for the government which has been in power for more than 50 years.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Malaysia’s incoming prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak needs to take swift action to reverse declining support for the government that has ruled for 51 years, influential ex-prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad told Reuters.

Mahathir was prime minister of this Southeast Asian country for 22 years until 2003, and his attacks on his successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi helped catalyse opposition to Abdullah in the main ruling party which led to him quitting office early.

Najib will take power at the end of March and will have to deal with the worst economic downturn since the Asian financial crisis of 1998 as well as rebuilding a party tainted with corruption and still bruised by last year’s big election losses.

“A lot of people are uncertain. Having watched Najib’s performance as deputy (prime minister), he did not shine,” Mahathir said a week before the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), the main party in the ruling coalition, holds internal polls.

“Najib can do well, but we will have to see, because when I asked Abdullah to appoint him as deputy I had a lot of hope for him, but he did not perform the way I expected,” Mahathir said today.

Najib is standing unopposed to be Umno president, a post that traditionally carries with it the premiership, but there are tough battles for the deputy presidency and other top posts.

Mahathir did praise Najib’s action as finance minister in putting together a 60 billion ringgit package of spending to try to offset the looming recession, contrasting it with Abdullah’s performance as the previous finance minister.

However, Najib does arrive with the kind of baggage that no other Malaysian leader had on entering office.

He has been linked on the internet blogs to a brutal murder of a Mongolian model, Altantuya Shariibuu. Although he has firmly denied involvement and there is no evidence to tie him to the death, he was challenged again in parliament last week over the issue by an opposition lawmaker.

His popularity rating stands at just 41 per cent, according to a recent poll by independent pollster the Merdeka Centre, and that is less than the 46 per cent enjoyed by Abdullah.

“Legally he has cleared his name (over Altantuya). But whether people will perceive that he has cleared his name or not is something he cannot decide,” Mahathir said.

One of the ways that Najib can fight back against negative perceptions is to stamp out corruption in Umno and the 13-party National Front coalition, Mahathir said.

“Today the problem with Umno is that people see it as a corrupt party and it has no credibility and they really look down on Umno as being irrelevant.”

If Umno fails to tackle corruption, Mahathir warned that it would lose power to the opposition and its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar was Mahathir’s chosen successor until he was sacked as deputy prime minister and convicted on what he says were trumped up sodomy and corruption charges at the end of the 1990s.

Anwar faces new sodomy charges in court that could see him jailed for 20 years, ending his political career.

“He (Anwar) is not to be trusted. He will do anything to become prime minister,” Mahathir said.

“During the time when he was my deputy, he was involved in cronyism. He supported a lot of his own people, they became very rich, because he gave contracts to them,” the former prime minister said. — Reuters

Khairy can contest while Ali Rustam banned from polls

Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam has been found guilty of breaching the party’s campaign rules and would not be allowed to contest the Umno deputy presidency next week.

Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaludin was also found guilty of breaching Umno campaign rules and given a warning, but would be allowed to contest the wing’s chief post.

(Malaysiakini)Umno deputy president aspirant Mohd Ali Rustam has been barred from contesting in the upcoming party polls.

The decision was revealed by the party's disciplinary committee chairperson Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail at a special press conference at the Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Ahmad Rithauddeen said Mohd Ali was disqualified from running for the post after three of his aides were found guilty of vote-buying.

"It is presumption of guilt, as the principle is that he is liable for the wrongdoing of his agents," the disciplinary head told a press conference. [See chart below]

The committee also issued a stern warning to Khairy Jamaluddin, who is standing for Umno Youth chief.

It, however, cleared another candidate, former Selangor menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, of any wrongdoing.

In view of Mohd Ali being barred, the contest for the No. 2 slot will see a straight fight between favourite International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Rural Development Minister Muhammad Muhd Taib.

State Youth chief suspended

umno code of ethics assumption of third party faults 170309Over the past weeks, speculation has been rife that the Malacca chief minister's political ambitions would be dashed over his alleged involvement in money politics.

However, certain quarters claimed that Mohd Ali has been deliberately targetted since he was seen as being able to stage an upset.

During the press conference, Ahmad Rithauddeen announced the committee's investigations involving 29 party members.

According to him, 10 have been suspended for three years effective March 12 and four were issued with a warning.

Among those suspended is a state Umno Youth chief.

Mar 16, 2009

Tun Mahathir tells Najib to pick a clean cabinet

The country’s fourth prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, today vowed to work to oust incoming premier Najib Abdul Razak should he appoint corrupt leaders in his new cabinet.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has advised Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to choose his Cabinet line-up carefully as corrupt leaders could lead to the demise of Umno.

Dr Mahathir said if Najib made the wrong selection, he could be “signing his own death warrant”.

“We will see (who will get chosen). We know that a number of the candidates had used money as a ticket to contest,” he told a press conference at Memorial Tun Hussein Onn here yesterday.

He hoped that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Umno disciplinary board would take stern action against those found guilty of corruption.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir gave a talk on democracy and the future of leadership in Malaysia to a packed hall.

In his speech, he reminded Umno delegates who will be voting in the coming party polls to choose candidates based on leadership qualities and not for favours they could get.

Mar 14, 2009

Tun Mahathir says Perak grab unlawful

According to Tun Mahathir, the current takeover by Barisan Nasional of the Perak state is considered to be unlawful.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — More than a month after Barisan Nasional ousted Pakatan Rakyat from Perak, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said the takeover was not done according to the law.

He said mistakes, bad strategy and carelessness in the Feb 5 power grab, orchestrated by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had led to the current crisis in the state.

"You cannot topple a menteri besar or a prime minister without a no-confidence vote in the assembly. There is no other provision," he said at a function organised by Mubarak, the association for former elected representatives.

"Umno-BN was too careless and did not wait for an assembly but instead asked the Ruler to sack the menteri besar," he said, referring to Sultan Azlan Shah's decision to ask Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin to resign.

"As far as I know, there is no such provision in the Perak or Federal Constitution," he said.

Dr Mahathir said that BN should have done it properly and not "be in conflict with the law" as the courts may now rule that the Sultan has no right to sack a menteri besar.

He added that a Sultan could only reject a candidate for one of his choice after an election but even this candidate could be defeated in the assembly by a vote.

The veteran politician said BN should have "followed the laws of the country, especially the constitution."

"Because this may be in conflict with the law, we find that people will not comply. Because we started on the wrong foot, people are now against us," said Dr Mahathir, who quit Umno last year in a long-running feud with his successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The Perak power grab is now mired in a series of lawsuits, with both sides claiming to be the legitimate government.

Six people have also been charged with insulting the Perak Ruler after he backed BN to govern the state. One has pleaded guilty and was fined RM10,000 yesterday while five others claimed trial.

Umno has said those who opposed the Sultan's decision are committing treason.

Mar 7, 2009

Malaysian police fire teargas at protestors

Riot police fired tear gas into several hundreds of people marching to Istana Negara to protest the use of English in the teaching of Mathematics and Science at 2.40pm Saturday.

KUALA LUMPUR: Riot police fired teargas to disperse at least 5,000 ethnic Malays who demonstrated in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur Saturday against the use of English in local schools, witnesses said.

The protesters planned to march to the royal palace to ask the king to intervene in the row over schools teaching Science and Mathematics in English rather than in the Malay language.

But they were blocked by scores of anti-riot police.

Protester Hatta Ramli said police began to fire teargas without warning as the demonstrators began their march from the National Mosque to the palace about three kilometres (two miles) away.

"It was a peaceful march. They shot (teargas) without any warning," he said.

"Many times the police fired teargas at us. I am exhausted."

Language, race and religion are sensitive issues in multiracial Malaysia, which experienced deadly riots in 1969.

Malays make up 60 per cent of the population of about 27 million, compared to 26 per cent ethnic Chinese and eight per cent ethnic Indians.

The protest by pro-Malay language activists and opposition political leaders was held despite assurances from the government Friday that the Malay language would not be sidelined.

Najib Razak, deputy prime minister, said English was important in a globalised world but the government would continue to ensure Malay was the official teaching language.

"Mastering foreign languages does not necessarily erode an individual's identity," he told Bernama news agency.