Apr 29, 2009

Former PMs urged not to voice their concern publicly

Due to the fact there are so many ways to express personal opinions via the Internet, both former Prime Ministers are advised not voice their criticism towards the new government publicly.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Umno presidents Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi have been urged to use the proper channels to voice out their concerns for the party.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who is also an Umno supreme council member, said both leaders should consider Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s “humble request” to both men to speak to the new party president if they had anything to say about Umno.

“Datuk Seri Najib is willing to meet either one of them if they have any issues to bring up.

“If there is anything that they are unhappy about, please don’t make it public, because making open statements will not be good for the Government and the party,” Shabery told reporters after attending the closing of the Jelajah Malaysia 2009 cycling tournament at Dataran Merdeka yesterday.

He was asked to comment on Dr Mahathir’s criticism that some of Najib’s Cabinet members should not have been appointed due to their backgrounds.

On Saturday, Abdullah had said that problems could occur if one refused to accept changes and do things which were not proper.

On Dr Mahathir’s claim that the Western media was making a concerted effort in demonising Najib, Shabery said Umno would need to look into the allegations seriously.

However, he said such demonisations against Malaysia’s leaders were not new.

“Some of the media make news reports on happenings or make commentaries, which are fine.

“But, if their reports are based on certain agendas, then we have to look into that,” he added.

However, Shabery did not elaborate on what action the Government could take on the matter.

Shabery said financier George Soros once had sponsored some of the media which criticised Dr Mahathir’s leadership during his tenure as Prime Minister.

On another matter, Shabery said Terengganu Umno members should carry out their public duties in line with Najib’s aspirations outlined in his 1Malaysia concept.

“Our president is working to unite Malaysians through his 1Malaysia idea.

“Married people have quarrels too, but my advice is they should not go overboard,” he added.

He was commenting on 10 Terengganu state assemblymen who stayed away from the state legislative assembly sitting amid talk of concerns over the Mentri Besar’s administrative style and decisions.

Apr 23, 2009

Tun Mahathir : I’m not Najib’s adviser or consultant

Tun Mahathir, in quashing suggestions that he had been calling the shots from behind the scenes, said he was never consulted prior to decisions made by the leadership. Contrary to talk, he said Najib had been independent in running the country, consulting him for neither pointers nor advice.

CYBERJAYA: Saying he was not a “consultant” to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointed out that the Prime Minister did not depend on him for any advice.

He cited the appointment of the Cabinet as an example, adding that he did not agree with the selection of certain people who he claimed were corrupt.

He declined to identify them, but said that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Johari Baharom should not have been appointed.

“Nazri was nasty to me, so of course I don’t like him. And Johari ... he had this accusation against him that he had accepted RM5mil to release some people (from jail).

“Of course he was cleared. But some people feel that he should have not been made deputy minister,” he told reporters after presenting a speech titled “The MSC and Leadership in the Information Age” at the MSC Malaysia Leadership Talk Series here yesterday.

Nazri had been a vocal critic of Dr Mahathir when the latter constantly made scathing attacks against Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was prime minister then.

Johari was Deputy Internal Security Minister when he was accused of accepting bribes to release a detainee in 2007.

Dr Mahathir said he was only giving his personal opinion that Barisan Nasional should contest if a by-election is called in Penanti, although Najib had indicated that the coalition should focus more on improving the economy.

“I gave valid reasons. But I’m only expressing my opinion. He (Najib) doesn’t have to follow what I say. I give my opinion, but they don’t consult me. I’m not a consultant on every issue,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also said the Iskandar Malaysia project would be a success if the bridge linking Johor Baru and Singapore was built.

“The bridge is needed because we need to prevent traffic jams occuring at the Causeway. Now that the bridge is not built, we can’t use the CIQ complex,” he added.

Earlier, he said local IT companies should not underestimate the potential of research and development (R&D) and allocate funds for it as the returns could be huge, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

Apr 22, 2009

Another War Of Words between Nazri and Tun Mahathir


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T39_SAXts0s

Tun Mahathir is starting to criticize the newly appointed PM Najib. He even criticized some of the new cabinet members.

As for one the heavily criticized cabinet member, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, he has called Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad “childish and lame” for saying he is among those whom the former prime minister thought was unfit to be a minister. “It’s not worth commenting since he is an old man. Let him talk. What he feels is no longer relevant,’’ Nazri told a press conference at Parliament House yesterday.
(Kuala Lumpur) Two weeks ago, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad strongly praised present Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for willing to acquire with an open mind. He then predicted that Najib will bring changes to the country.

One week ago, Dr M was still praising Najib’s new cabinet: “I think Najib did very well by dropping most of the people who are accused of corruption, although one or two somehow or other slipped in.”

However, he came out with a series of “harsh” words today. It seems like he is putting pressure on Najib.

Dr M again talked about the “Scenic Bridge” project. He said: “Does the Government need to ask Singapore for permission to build the now desirable crooked bridge? Is Malaysia free to do things in its own territory? Are we really independent? I wonder.”

Dr M insisted that BN should be fighting for its dignity. It should not withdraw from contesting the Penanti by-election, allowing Pakatan Rakyat to win hands down.

Dr M as well critised Najib’s cabinet. He pointed out that Najib has taken in a number of “unsavoury characters who had been accused of being corrupt while in the previous government”, showing that Najib has negated any desire to rid Umno of blatantly corrupt politicians.

Shortly after his return to UMNO, Dr M has started to frequently “say no” to Najib, who has taken the office for less than a month. Is this what we called “good advice jars on the ear” or is it showing us that the honeymoon period of the former and present Prime Ministers has been reaching the end and they start to face new challenges?

It is not surprising at all as Dr M’s personal independence of conduct has been widely known. But this time, he changed too quickly, making it thought-provoking about the reasons and impacts behind it.

DAP Adviser Lim Kit Siang said that Dr M is “playing for very high stakes”. But Najib seems to have a well-thought-plan. He did not fight back the criticisms, or directly declare his stand.

Nevertheless, Najib’s recent remarks were though-provoking. In his blog, a post entitled “8 Values of 1 Malaysia - Part 5: Loyalty”, he said: “Yes I think gone are the days when loyalty should be misconstrued as blind faith, or as having a carte blanche in terms of personal relationship, that you can do whatever you like, and you get away with it.”

The above remarks could easily lead people to relate it to someone. Or it might be interpreted as his “indirect response” to other’s concern of the “possibility of the return of Mahathirism behind the scene”.

On the other hand, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (Dr M described him as unfit for a cabinet post) could not stand any longer and made a drastic response. Nazri said Dr M is childish and lame. He criticised Dr M as a racist. He even derided Dr M by asking him to better stay at home as the people no longer like him.

It appears that the war of words is getting more and more interesting. It will sure continue to drag the people’s attenton.

Apr 19, 2009

Tun Mahathir : BN must contest Penanti by-election

While PM Najib said that Barisan Nasional might not contest the Penanti state by-election if it obtains the consensus of all component parties, Tun Mahathir is urging Barisan Nasional to contest.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has urged Barisan Nasional (BN) to drop the idea of not contesting the Penanti by-election in Penang.

To do so, he said, would be to concede defeat to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

The former PM does not seem to be on the same page as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who floated the idea yesterday of not contesting the polls.

“If it was in an Umno area, I am sure that we will contest. However, since it is in an Opposition area, we do not want to contest.

“But if we wait to contest only in Umno areas, then there would not be any Umno’s areas and we would not have to contest anywhere,” he said in Raub, Pahang today.

Najib had argued that contesting elections he claimed were unnecessary was a waste of public funds.

His idea appeared to have gained traction with many BN leaders voicing their support and accusing Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of using elections for political purposes.

Since last year’s landmark general elections, BN has lost four out of five by-elections held so far to Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

The latest defeats, in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau, were particularly galling for BN as it came soon after Najib took over as PM from Tun Abdullah Badawi, the man who has been singled out for blame for the coalition’s poor performances.

Today, Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof was quoted by Sin Chew Daily as saying he was seeking a meeting with both BN and PR to urge them not to contest the polls.

The EC chairman echoed Najib’s call, but he did not cite any legal or constitutional provisions which would allow the vote to be called off.

Dr Mahathir’s latest remarks will be the latest test for Najib’s fledgling leadership of BN as the PM will want to assert his leadership.

The Penanti state seat has fallen vacant due to the resignation of Fairus Khairuddin, who also resigned recently as the state’s deputy chief minister amid graft allegations.

Penanti is a state seat which falls within Anwar’s Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency.

Yesterday, Anwar also welcomed Najib’s suggestion, saying he was happy if BN did not contest the vote.

Dr Mahathir said that when he was prime minister, Umno never withdrew from any election, including in Kelantan, a PAS stronghold.

“Winning or losing is a separate matter but if we do not contest then the other party has already won,” he said.

“History has proven that Umno can face giant powers, including the British in our struggle for independence.

“The fighting spirit of those days should be a lesson to present and future generations.”



Apr 17, 2009

PM Najib : The country does not need another by-election


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbICif5KPnc


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak says a lot of money is currently being spent on by-elections that are not needed. He said that a by-election should only be held when the elected representative died. He said this when asked to comment on the resignation of PKR’s Mohamad Fairus as Penanti state assemblyman on Thursday, which would likely see another byelection being held.
KLANG, April 17 — Newly-minted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is weary of by-elections and just wants to move forward with his job: fixing the limp economy and taking Malaysia to a higher level, all in the name of taking care of the public’s best interests, he says.

“Too much time, energy and ringgit are being spent on by-elections that are actually unnecessary,” he told reporters today after opening the 63rd annual general meeting of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM).

Najib looked visibly tired when asked to comment on the likely by-election awaiting Penang voters in Penanti, a state seat within the mainland Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency.

Permatang Pauh voters also went to the polls last August, in which Najib led the Barisan Nasional campaign that resulted in a return to Parliament of his arch-rival Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Najib noted there had been too much “politicking in our country when right now we should focus on recovering our economy and taking care of the people’s interests and to move forward for the sake of our country and take Malaysia to a higher level of success”.

“This resignation is a political decision and can be likened to a political game for certain purposes,” he said, referring to Penanti assemblyman and former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, who resigned yesterday amid a flurry of corruption allegations just over a year after being elected to the seat on a PKR ticket.

“The rakyat generally do not like by-elections that are deliberately held,” he added.

Apr 16, 2009

Rais : Govt wants to ensure Internet not abused

The government is not looking to find fault with bloggers and other internet users but would like them to follow the law to ensure they did not misuse it. Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the ministry played an important role in establishing only the right kind of information reached the masses.

KUALA LUMPUR (April 16, 2009) : Bloggers who "twist the truth" should face the music and be held accountable, says the new Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim

"Anybody who violates the laws of this country has to answer for his actions. And there are various laws that govern the rights of people to communicate through the Internet," said Rais.
He said the Communications Act 1998 would be used to bring errant bloggers to book.

"Those who have been maligned by bloggers have the right to report to us," he said, adding that a mechanism will be established to prevent abuses of the system.

Rais said the ministry was not out to hunt down bloggers, but to ensure news is not "twisted".

"We are not looking for people to prosecute, but the Communications Department under this ministry will be looking out for news that has been maligned or twisted or untruths.


"There already is a minimal standard of monitoring, but the public can come to us if they feel they are being harmed by acts on the Internet which intrude into their personal livese," he added.

When asked how the "truth" in blog posts would be evaluated, Rais said it was a matter of proof.

"It is very simple (to evaluate the truth). If someone says A is corrupt, he has to prove the corruption, and if he says A is a murderer, he has to prove it. If he can't, he has to answer to the authorities. So one should be careful when discussing the personal matters of others, as this ministry is playing a role in safeguarding stability," he said.

Rais also said the ministry would investigate posts made by Malaysians overseas, and leave it to the Attorney General's chambers to decide on any further action.

Asked whether investigations by the ministry would be perceived as a form of censorship, Rais said it was a question of enforcing the laws in place.

Rais, who was speaking to reporters after his ministry's monthly assembly at Laman Budaya today, denied allegations of a blackout in Radio Television Malaysia over coverage of the Terengganu State Assembly boycott on Monday, and said RTM had the right to choose what news it aired.

"I leave it to RTM to pick whatever news it wants to air. It is just like any other TV station, and the government has the right to air whatever it thinks should take priority. If there was any bias, or any party feels it is unfair, we will investigate," he said, adding that the lack of coverage of the incident should not be seen as censorship.

"We prioritise what we should present to the people. There is no prejudice," he said, pointing out that censorship was everywhere and not limited to Malaysian media.

Rais also said his ministry was committed to making the Prime Minister's 1Malaysia concept a success.

"Our first goal would be to make the concept and practice of 1Malaysia a success, by involving the facilities of the departments in this ministry.

"We will use all these departments to give information, entertain, and involve the public in the core aims of the nation," he added.

Apr 9, 2009

PM Najib names his new cabinet line-up

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today announced appointments to the new Cabinet, comprising 28 Cabinet Ministers and 40 deputy ministers.

They are:-

PRIME MINISTER:
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER:
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

MINISTER IN THE PRIME MINISTER'S DEPARTMENT:
1. Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon (Unity and Performance Management)
2. Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz (Legal and Parliamentary Affairs)
3. Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop (Economic Planning Unit)
4. Mej-Jen (B) Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom (Islamic Religious Affairs)

Deputy Ministers:
1. Datuk Liew Vui Keong
2. Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim
3. Datuk S.K. Devamany
4. Ahmad Maslan
5. T.Murugiah

FINANCE MINISTER:
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

SECOND FINANCE MINISTER:
Datuk Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah

Deputy:
1. Datuk Chor Chee Heung
2. Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin

EDUCATION MINISTER:
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

Deputy:
1. Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong
2. Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi

TRANSPORT MINISTER:
Datuk Ong Tee Keat

Deputy:
1. Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri
2. Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew

PLANTATION INDUSTRIES AND COMMODITIES MINISTER:
Tan Sri Bernard Dompok

Deputy:
1. Datuk Hamzah Zainudin

HOME MINISTER:
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein

Deputy:
1. Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop
2. Jelaing anak Mersat

INFORMATION, COMMUNICATIONS, ARTS AND CULTURE MINISTER:
Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim

Deputy:
1. Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum
2. Senator Heng Seai Kie

ENERGY, GREEN TECHNOLOGY AND WATER MINISTER:
Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui

Deputy:
Noriah Kasnon

RURAL AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER:
Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal

Deputy:
1. Datuk Hassan Malek
2. Datuk Joseph Entulu anak Belaun

HIGHER EDUCATION MINISTER:
Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin

Deputy:
1. Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung
2. Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah

INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER:
Datuk Mustapa Mohamed

Deputy:
1. Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir
2. Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION MINISTER:
Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili

Deputy:
Fadillah Yusof

NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT MINISTER:
Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas

Deputy:
Tan Sri Joseph Kurup

TOURISM MINISTER:
Datuk Ng Yen Yen

Deputy:
Datuk Seri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Abdul Taib

AGRICULTURE AND AGRO-BASED INDUSTRY MINISTER :
Datuk Noh Omar

Deputy:
1. Datuk Johari Baharum
2. Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim

DEFENCE MINISTER:
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

Deputy:
Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad

WORKS MINISTER:
Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor

Deputy:
Datuk Yong Khoon Seng

HEALTH MINISTER:
Datuk Liow Tiong Lai

Deputy:
Datuk Rosnah Rashid Shirlin

YOUTH AND SPORTS MINISTER:
Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek

Deputy:
1. Datuk Razali Ibrahim
2. Wee Jeck Seng

HUMAN RESOURCES MINISTRY:
Datuk Dr S.Subramaniam

Deputy:
Datuk Maznah Mazlan

DOMESTIC TRADE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS MINISTER:
Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Deputy:
Datuk Tan Lian Hoe

HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT MINISTER:
Datuk Kong Cho Ha

Deputy:
Datuk Lajim Ukin

WOMEN, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT MINISTER:
Datuk Seri Sharizat Jalil

Deputy:
Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun

FOREIGN MINISTER:
Datuk Anifah Aman

Deputy:
1. A.Kohilan Pillay
2. Datuk Lee Chee Leong

FEDERAL TERRITORIES MINISTER:
Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin

Deputy :
Datuk M.Saravanan

The following are ministers dropped by Najib:

Syed Hamid Albar (Home Affairs), Muhammad Muhd Taib (Rural and Regional Development), Azalina Othman Said (Tourism), Ong Ka Chuan (Housing and Local Government), senator Amirshah A Aziz (Minister in the PM's Department), Mohd Zin Mohamed Zulhasnan Rafique (Works) and (Federal Territories).

Shahrir Samad who had tendered his resignation as domestic trade and consumer affairs minister last week was not considered in this line-up.

Azilah and Sirul to hang for killing Altantuya

Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 32, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar,36, were found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu three years ago, wrapping up the country's longest trial ever.

Justice Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin, said the prosecution had proven the case against them beyond reasonable doubt.

He said their defences were essentially ones of denial and of blaming each other and as such, were irreconcilable and unbelievable.

KUALA LUMPUR: Two Malaysian policemen were sentenced to death Thursday for the murder of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu, in a sensational case the opposition has tried to link with new premier Najib Razak.

Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of Najib who was sworn in as prime minister last week, had been accused of ordering police to kill his former lover after she came to his family home to harass him for money.

But last year he was acquitted of abetting the 2006 slaying of the 28-year-old model and interpreter -- a case which, with its ingredients of sex, politics and violence, has captivated the nation.

Altantuya's body was blown up with military-grade explosives in a jungle clearing, leaving only shattered bone fragments as evidence.

The two officers found guilty of the murder, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, are from an elite unit that guards the prime minister and deputy prime minister.

"Each of them are blaming the other, they failed to raise reasonable doubt against the prosecution's case. I convict both of you as charged," said Shah Alam High Court judge Zaki Mohamad Yasin.

"I sentence both of you to death. You will be taken to a place of execution where you will be hanged by your neck until you are dead," he said.

The pair looked calm when the sentence was handed down, and then stepped out of the dock and hugged their lawyers, who later said they would file an appeal.

Azilah's fiance, Nur Azila Baharuddin, insisted the pair were not guilty.

"We expected him to be acquitted but the judge has made the decision. We will wait for the next stage," she told reporters. "I really want to marry him, I have been waiting for so long since 2006."

Malaysia's top blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin has been charged with sedition after repeatedly linked Najib and his wife to the murder on his popular website Malaysia Today.

Najib has vehemently denied any involvement in the killing and said he never even met Altantuya, but despite any evidence linking him to the case, the allegations persist and the opposition has called for an official inquiry.

Karpal Singh, an opposition politician and leading lawyer who is representing Altantuya's family, said the verdict left many questions unanswered.

"You must satisfy the international community. The international community does not accept that only these two are responsible for the murder. It goes beyond these two," he told reporters.

"These two have no motive, they didn't even know her before."

Altantuya's father Setev Shaariibuu was distraught over the acquittal last year, in a case seen as a test of the strength of Malaysia's much-criticised judiciary.

"I am not satisfied. My daughter knows only one Malaysian and it is Razak Baginda. Now my daughter is dead and Baginda is freed... the country has lost credibility in the world," he told reporters at the time.

Setev Shaariibuu was not present in court on Thursday.

Apr 8, 2009

PM Najib to unveil Cabinet on Thursday

Newly-appointed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has been meeting with Barisan Nasional component party leaders Wednesday as speculation mounts that he will unveil a leaner Cabinet on Thursday.

On Monday, the MCA submitted a list of candidates for the new Cabinet line-up based on the party’s hierarchy and the candidates’ status in the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, its president Ong Tee Keat said.

He said the MCA hopes that the party’s current allocation -- four ministers and six deputies -- would be retained in the new line-up.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's new premier Najib Razak will unveil his Cabinet on Thursday, officials said, with expectations for a streamlined team aimed at helping him push through promised reforms.

"The announcement of the new Cabinet line-up will be made at the PM's office at 3:00pm (0700 GMT) on Thursday," an official in Najib's office told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The convention is for Najib, who was sworn in last week, to seek the consent of Malaysia's king before announcing the new Cabinet.

Local media have said that Najib is likely to reveal a slimmed-down Cabinet, which currently embraces 27 ministries with 32 ministers, and that coalition partners of the ruling party UMNO have been told they may get fewer seats.

Insiders say Najib is likely to retain the finance portfolio -- seen as critical during the global economic crisis -- and that UMNO deputy leader Muhyiddin Yassin is tipped to be deputy prime minister and home minister.

Najib has unveiled an ambitious agenda to heal race relations in the multi-ethnic country and to overhaul UMNO, which was humbled in elections last year by voters who see it as corrupt and out of touch.

But the new premier was dealt a rebuke by voters Tuesday, losing two of three by-elections seen as an unofficial referendum on his leadership.

Malaysia's new PM Najib dealt mixed polls verdict

The recent three by-election results seen as a referendum on support for PM Najib's new leadership and promised reforms.

TAIPING, Malaysia - Malaysia's premier Najib Razak received a mixed verdict from voters Tuesday in three by-elections seen as a referendum on support for his new leadership and promised reforms.

The opposition scored a landslide victory in the most prominent of the three polls, in Bukit Gantang in northern Perak state, where a seat in the national parliament was up for grabs.

But in another vote in Batang Ai on Borneo island, for a seat in the Sarawak state parliament, electoral authorities said that the Barisan Nasional coalition had won with a decisive majority of 1,854 votes.

The result, compared with the coalition's lead of 806 votes in the last state elections, cemented its status as the dominant political force in Borneo, a vast island shared with Indonesia.

However, Anwar Ibrahim, who leads the three-member opposition alliance, said its victory in Bukit Gantang was a show of no confidence in the coalition that has ruled Malaysia for half a century.

Electoral officials said the opposition won with a majority of 2,789 votes -- substantially wider than the 1,566 majority it scored in the last polls a year ago.

"It is a landslide victory," Anwar told AFP. "Malaysians want change, irrespective of the new prime minister."

He said the winds of change were "still blowing" after landmark general elections a year ago in which the opposition gained unprecedented ground, including five of Malaysia's 13 states and a third of seats in parliament.

Najib, who was sworn into power last week, has announced an ambitious agenda to reform the ruling party UMNO, which represents majority Muslim Malays, and repair ties with the nation's ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

His pledges were put to the test in the three votes, which provide a snapshot of the public mood, and show whether UMNO has been able to claw back support.

"Collectively, these three contests will illustrate whether Najib and his newly elected team have the support of the Malaysian people," said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asian specialist at Johns Hopkins University before the results were announced.

The three constituencies, embracing more than 98,700 voters, represent a spectrum of Malaysians, including rural Malays who have been UMNO's bedrock, as well as ethnic Chinese and Indians, who shifted to the opposition in the March 2008 elections.

"Given the national representativeness of these constituencies, (whoever) emerges as victor in at least two of these contests will have the potential to secure the majority in the next elections," Welsh said.

There are no official results yet from the third vote, for a seat in the state parliament of northern Kedah, where the 13 independent candidates who are standing may take support from the main parties.

The coalition's win in Sarawak was widely anticipated, after it flooded the impoverished electorate with development funds, but political analysts said the loss in Bukit Gantang heaped pressure on Najib.

Ibrahim Suffian from the Merdeka Centre polling firm said the new leader must now deliver on his promises, in order to win back voters before the next general elections due to be held by 2013.

"He has to be able to tangibly make a difference before Malaysians will swing back support to the coalition," he said.

"What it means is that there is no honeymoon, Malaysians want their changes to happen now, and he cannot expect that rhetoric alone will carry the day."



Apr 7, 2009

By-election Results : Barisan retains Batang Ai, Pakatan retains Bkt Gantang and Bukit Selambau

Bukit Gantang Result
Bkt Gantang: Official final results - Ousted Perak MB Nizar (PAS) wins with a 2,789 majority. PAS 21,860 votes vs BN 19,071 votes. Independent 62 votes.

Bukit Selambau Result
With all 22 polling boxes counted, Manikumar retained the seat for PKR by winning with a 2,396-vote majority, a slightly higher margin than in the 2008 general elections.

Manikumar is already celebrating at the official counting centre SM Teknik in Sungai Petani. Along with him is Kedah Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and PKR vice-president Azmin Ali.

BN candidate S Ganesan is not in the hall. Other MIC leaders are also not present.

Batang Ai Result
Returning officer Nelson Mujah declares Malcom Mussem Lamoh of Barisan the official winner, to thunderous cheers.

Official final results - BN wins with 1,854 majority. BN 3,907 votes vs PKR 2,053. BN supporters cheering.

Apr 6, 2009

Tun Mahathir: I will not accept senior minister post



Just two days after rejoining Umno, ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad ruled out taking a senior minister post in Najib Abdul Razak's cabinet but is open to being an unofficial advisor to the government.

Mahathir also appeared to have withdrawn earlier criticism of the BN takeover of Perak, by addressing BN's Zambry Abd Kadir as the Perak menteri besar.

TAIPING, April 6 - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today shot down speculation that he would be appointed a senior minister in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's Cabinet but did not rule out the possibility of serving as an advisor in an unofficial capacity.

Government sources have however told The Malaysian Insider that Najib has asked the former PM to focus on strengthening Umno, making it clear that Dr Mahathir will not have a role in government.

"No position in Cabinet," said Dr Mahathir today to questions of whether he would be appointed a senior minister in the new Cabinet expected to be announced by Najib soon.

"Unofficially yes, I am retired so I should remain retired," he said when asked whether he was willing to serve as an advisor.

On the allegation by the opposition that he was going to dictate the direction of the new administration, he said it was made without basis.

"They condemn Mahathirism. What is wrong with Mahathirism? The country was developed for 22 years because of Mahathirism. So I think it is good," he told reporters.

He said that despite his support to Najib who was appointed Prime Minister last Friday, he would still continue to criticise the government if it does anything wrong.

"I find that Umno is now willing to listen to the people so is Datuk Najib and he has taken early steps to release ISA detainees, to allow Harakah to be published again and he met the people after he came to

office," said Dr Mahathir who left Umno in May last year to express his dissatisfaction with the administration of Tun Abdullah Badawi before rejoining the party last Saturday.

Dr Mahathir also said it is up to Najib whether to appoint Abdullah's son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin who won the Umno Youth chief post to the Cabinet.

"That is not for me to determine. It is up to Datuk Najib, I am no longer the prime minister, fortunately or unfortunately," he said.

When asked about his criticism on the legality of the newly formed Perak government, Dr Mahathir said he is now supporting the government which was formed last February.

"We have to support, unless of course they can prove legally that it is wrong, so that it is a different matter. But at the moment it seems accepted by the people," said Dr Mahathir.

On why he had raised doubts on the legality of the Perak government in his blog he said: "The explanation is very simple. I am not a judge, maybe I am wrong, and it depends on the judge."

Apr 4, 2009

Tun Mahathir and wife return to UMNO




Dr Mahathir Mohamad is now back with Umno after a two-hour meeting with new premier Najib Razak at his official residence in Putrajaya this morning.

He rejoined the party today together with his wife, Siti Hasmah and son, Mokhzani.

The former premier resigned in a huff last May 19 after a very public spat with his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's former premier Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday rejoined the ruling UMNO party which he quit last year and immediately pledged to strengthen the beleaguered party.

Mahathir left the party after falling out with his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was replaced by Najib Razak on Friday as the new prime minister.

Mahathir, who spent more than two decades in power, had hand-picked Abdullah to replace him in 2003 but was enraged by Abdullah's decision to dismantle several of his pet projects.

"The image of UMNO has suffered in the last few years," Mahathir told reporters after handing over party membership forms to Najib, together with his wife Siti Hasmah and son Mokhzani Mahathir.

"The first thing is to clean the image of UMNO," he added.

Mahathir said he hoped his return would spur other former members to rejoin the party.

"I hope many other ex-UMNO members will return to the party. I am prepared to help UMNO regain the people's trust," he said.

UMNO, or the United Malays National Organisation, is the dominant political party in the country and leads the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

Mahathir last week endorsed a landmark speech by Najib in which he outlined radical reforms to UMNO following humiliating elections last year, when the opposition claimed five of the 13 states and a third of seats in parliament.

For a start, Mahathir said he would help campaign in two by-elections -- in Perak and Kedah -- to be held on Tuesday and which the opposition has expressed confidence in winning.

A third by-election will be held on the same day in the eastern Sarawak state of Batang Ai.

Mahathir defended his attack on the party leadership under Abdullah.

"I criticise UMNO because my criticism is to build UMNO ... not to destroy UMNO," he said.

Najib said Mahathir's return would help rejuvenate the party.

"Mahathir's return will revive the party and strengthen the Barisan Nasional," he said.

Najib takes office at a time when the economy is in dire straits and with minorities deserting the ruling coalition as demonstrated in the 2008 elections.

Apr 3, 2009

Najib to be sworn in as Malaysia’s sixth Prime Minister

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is scheduled to be sworn in as Prime Minister in front of Yang diPertuan Agung Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin at 10am Friday.

The King had consented to the appointment of Najib as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan had said. He said in a statement Thursday that Najib would be presented his letter of appointment as Prime Minister and would take his oath of office, loyalty and confidentiality before the King at Istana Negara.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's Najib Razak is to be sworn in as prime minister Friday, inheriting the tough task of implementing reforms, healing racial ties and shoring up the weak economy.

Najib was to be officially appointed by the nation's king in a ceremony at the royal palace at 0200 GMT, a senior government official said.

"The swearing-in ceremony will be followed by a brief handing-over ceremony between the new prime minister and the former prime minister in the late afternoon at the prime minister's office," he told AFP.

Najib's accession to the country's top post completes a transition triggered by elections last year that saw the ruling United Malays National Organisation party (UMNO) put in its worst ever performance.

Former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tendered his resignation Thursday, after agreeing several months ago to step down in the fallout from polls that transformed Malaysia's political landscape.

Abdullah spent an unremarkable six years in office, during which he initially pledged extensive reforms including tackling corruption, which is endemic in the ruling party and society at large.

However, he was punished at the ballot box for not making good on his promises, and was widely criticised as a weak and ineffective leader.

Najib became president of UMNO last week at the party's annual assembly, which was dominated by debate on how to overhaul the party and reclaim the support of voters.

According to Malaysian political tradition, the party leader takes on the country's premiership, at the head of the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional coalition.

Najib, the 55-year-old son and nephew of two former prime ministers, has said he will focus uniting the multi-racial nation, after ethnic minorities shifted to the opposition in the 2008 polls.

Malaysia's population is dominated by Muslim Malays, and among the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities here there is a sense that their rights are eroded.

Najib also faces the challenge of cushioning the country's economy from the impact of the global economic crisis, which has seen the loss of more than 26,000 jobs here since the beginning of the year.

Earlier this month, Najib, who is also finance minister, unveiled a stimulus package worth 16.2 billion dollars but has warned the country's export-driven economy could shrink by 1.0 per cent this year despite the massive spending.

However, analysts say that before Najib can begin to tackle these issues, he must first clear the air over opposition allegations connecting him to the 2006 slaying of the mistress of his close aide -- a Mongolian woman whose body was blown up with military-grade explosives.

He has also angrily rejected allegations of corruption, and that his administration will adopt hardline tactics including detention of its opponents under tough internal security laws.

UMNO leads a coalition of race-based parties that also represent the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities, but they were hammered in elections a year ago as minorities shifted towards the opposition.

In a bid to win back support, Najib has pledged to "develop a government that respects the voices of all Malaysians."


Apr 2, 2009

PM Abdullah meets Agong in Istana Negara


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb0wJ9YCB0s

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi arrived at Istana Negara at 9.55am to meet the King and left at 10.57am. Datuk Seri Najib arrived at the palace at 11.20am to have a audience with the King.
(Malaysiakini) Outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has gone to Istana Negara to meet the king today to hand in his resignation in a planned transition of power to his deputy Najib Razak.

Abdullah arrived at the Istana at 10am to have an audience with King Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin.

The Agong was seen arriving at the palace 10 minutes earlier. As of 10.50am, Abdullah is still inside Istana Negara.

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Abdullah "will inform the king of his intention to resign and tell him that Najib is ready to assume the country's top post."

Najib has told reporters he will be sworn into office at a ceremony tomorrow, completing a transfer of power triggered by the ruling coalition's disastrous showing in elections a year ago.

Abdullah will have a function at his Defence Ministry in Kuala Lumpur believed to be a farewell party at 3pm today.

Analysts say he faces an enormous challenge to rejuvenate his Umno, which has floundered since those elections, and cushion the country from the worst effects of the global meltdown.

He faces his first big test next Tuesday with three by-elections that will be seen as a referendum on support for his fledgling leadership.

"He will inherit a divided party with trust in the government at its lowest ebb and a strong opposition," political analyst Shahruddin Badaruddin told AFP earlier.

He said Najib's challenge would be "to unite the fractured elements of the party."