Apr 30, 2010

Former PM Badawi denies giving away oil rights

Former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has dismissed his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad's allegations that he had 'given away' two large oil rich areas to Brunei. In a statement late this afternoon, Abdullah said the resources in the 'Block L and M' oil-rich areas in the South China Sea referred to by Mahathir were now shared by Malaysia and Brunei under a territorial and commercial deal inked on March 16 last year. Although Block L and M were now the sovereign rights of Brunei, Malaysia will be allowed to participate in joint efforts to develop oil and gas resources there for 40 years. According to Abdullah, the deal was meant to resolve protracted land and maritime boundaries.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi denied today that he signed away oil rights to Brunei after a scathing attack from his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former prime minister issued a statement today denying Dr Mahathir’s accusation that he had given up RM320 billion in potential oil earnings in return for Brunei dropping its claim over Limbang in Sarawak.

Dr Mahathir had claimed Abdullah had given away Malaysia’s claim to oil offshore of Limbang following a trip to Bandar Seri Begawan in the waning days of his administration last year.

Abdullah said today that the areas known as Block L and Block M would be jointly developed by the two countries for a period of 40 years.

“The financial and operational modalities for giving effect to this arrangement will be further discussed by the two sides. This means that in so far as the oil and gas resources are concerned, the agreement is not a loss for Malaysia,” said Abdullah in his statement.

The country’s fifth prime minister clarified that his visit to Brunei which was made three weeks before his departure was aimed at solving a long standing border dispute “without any disadvantage for Malaysia.”

The visit resulted in an agreement between the two countries to establish a permanent land and sea boundary.

“This agreement serves to settle certain overlapping claims which existed in the past which included the area of the concession blocks known before as Block L and Block M. Sovereign rights to the resources in this area now belongs to Brunei.

“However, for this area the agreement includes a commercial arrangement under which Malaysia will be allowed to participate, on a commercial basis, to jointly develop the oil and gas resources in this area for a period of 40 years,” said Abdullah.

He added that he signed the agreement to solve a border dispute with Brunei with prior approval from the Cabinet.

“In my capacity as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, I signed the Exchange of Letters with the Sultan of Brunei after the Malaysian Cabinet approved the deal on 11 February 2009,” said Abdullah.

Earlier today both former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang demanded an explanation from Abdullah after news reports emerged last week suggesting Malaysia had signed away its oil rights.

Murphy Oil, which had entered a production-sharing contract with national oil company Petronas, for Block L and Block M offshore of Limbang, announced last week that it was ceasing operations because “it was no longer part of Malaysia.”

“Abdullah Badawi negotiated with the Sultan (of Brunei) to get back Limbang in Sarawak. In return he agreed to surrender the two blocks to Brunei. No Petronas representatives were present, only foreign office staff and the foreign affairs adviser to the PM,” Dr Mahathir had said in a posting on his blog yesterday.

Apr 29, 2010

Tun Mahathir tells MCA to drop 'extremist chinese'

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today waded into the war of words between the MCA and Perkasa, telling his Barisan Nasional ally to rid itself of “extremist Chinese” before demanding Umno reject the Malay right-wing group.

The Chinese-based party blamed “organisations like Perkasa” for BN’s failure in recapturing the community’s support, especially in last Sunday’s Hulu Selangor by-election, with MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek condemning Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali for urging the government not to fulfil election pledges.

However, the former prime minister said Perkasa’s role was important because it ensured BN’s victory in the by-election.

“Maybe because of Perkasa, the Malay community voted for BN. If there is no Perkasa then BN would not have the Chinese or Malay votes,” Dr Mahathir told reporters after attending a lecture at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel here.

“If MCA wants Umno to distance itself from Perkasa, then MCA must distance themselves with extremist Chinese. Yes, there are lots of extremist Chinese. They even said that there are no people such as Malays,” he added.

In Sunday’s polls, MIC’s P. Kamalanathan secured a 1,725-vote majority win over PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim but failed to recapture votes from the Chinese community. BN only secured just over 20 per cent of the Chinese votes, down from the 35 per cent it had garnered during Election 2008.

Ibrahim has called the Chinese community “ungrateful” and urged the government to ignore demands made by the MCA and Gerakan as punishment for their failure to attract Chinese voters.

The Pasir Mas MP was criticised by Chinese leaders from both BN and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) for what was described as a racist and insensitive statement.

Kamalanathan has also taken measures to distance himself from the outspoken leader.

Dr Mahathir explained that Perkasa was only defending the interest of the Malay community.

“If you look it is balanced because there are extremist Chinese groups that are saying there are no people such as Malays. This is why we say that racial issues should not be discussed publicly. One person says something and other person must reply. You say the other person is racist but they also say that you are racist.

“I also don’t think Perkasa is driving a wedge between the Barisan Nasional’s component parties because there are others who are saying things which cause Perkasa to reply,” the former Umno president said.

He stressed that while it was important for the government to recapture Chinese support it must not neglect the Malay community.

“Everybody’s support is important. If you have all the Chinese supporting and no Malay support then we will still lose. In this country, we must have everybody’s support,” he said.

Ibrahim, who was a deputy minister in the Mahathir administration, stirred up controversy again today when he asked Chinese voters in Hulu Selangor to repent after they received RM3 million for a school which the prime minister had pledged during the election campaign.

The Malay rights leader also demanded the Chinese voters be “grateful” for the donation and suggested that the Chinese may have been promised more than the Malays of Hulu Selangor.

Apr 25, 2010

Unofficial results: BN wins

KUALA KUBU BARU, April 25 — Barisan Nasional (BN) has won the Hulu Selangor by-election by more than 2,500 votes, according to unofficial results from the counting centre.

The Election Commission (EC) has not declared a winner yet but BN sources say their candidate — P Kamalanathan — has defeated Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

Tun Mahathir convinced BN will wrest Hulu Selangor

HULU SELANGOR, April 24 (Bernama) -- Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed said tonight he is confident the constituents in Hulu Selangor will hand over victory back to the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election tomorrow.

He said that the people were not foolish in evaluating which was the better political party in championing their cause.

He also believed that if the BN were to emerge victorious in Hulu Selangor, it would be a sign that the BN would achieve a bigger win in the next general election.

He said the people also knew how to evaluate who Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was.

"I'm convinced that the electorate in Hulu Selangor know Anwar's intention which will not bring any benefit to the people and country except to become the prime minister," he said when addressing thousands of BN supporters at a gathering in Taman Bunga Raya, Bukit Beruntung, here tonight.

Also present were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and BN candidate P. Kamalanathan.

Dr Mahathir also wanted the people to reject the two-party system suggested by the opposition as this would not bring any develoepment to the country as they would be busy politicking.

Apr 22, 2010

Home Ministry clears 'Malaysian Maverick' book

KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — The authorities have cleared the controversial political biography of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for sale in the country.

Copies of “Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times” have been held up in Port Klang while awaiting clearance from the Home Ministry.

Digital copies of the book, however, can be downloaded from the Internet.

The distributor was informed by the ministry of the clearance recently and the book is expected to go on sale next week.

It also plans to launch the book in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

“We have always stood by the book which has been subject to peer review to ensure its academic rigour,” said Alexandra Webster, associate director of the publisher, Palgrave Macmillan, in a statement.

Written by Barry Wain, a former editor of the Asian Wall Street Journal, the “Malaysian Maverick” has sold more than 12,500 copies in Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and Australia.

In Singapore, it has been on The Straits Times’ best-seller list for three months, with many copies being bought by Malaysians.

“We’ve been waiting for more than four months for the Malaysians to make a decision, and we’re extremely pleased they have given the book a clean bill of health,” said Wain in the same statement.

The book has been a subject of intense debate and discussion among politicians and critics of the fourth prime minister.

The book claims that Dr Mahathir had squandered an estimated RM100 billion of taxpayers’ money.

Dr Mahathir, who ran the country for 22 years, had said that he does not need any protection from the authorities and urged the government to release the book.

Just early this month, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told Parliament that the government was still reviewing the book before making any decision.

Apr 21, 2010

Tun Mahathir says Iran is important to us

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said Petronas has the right to supply gasoline to Iran saying that the Gulf nation is an important trading partner .

“Initially when I read the report that Datuk Seri Najib had ordered Petronas to stop supplying gasoline to Iran I couldn’t understand it because Iran has a lot of gasoline, so I was disappointed,” said Dr Mahathir when asked about the suspension of Malaysia’s gasoline supply to Iran.

“But later Datuk Seri Najib denied that he had ordered the cancellation and he said it was purely a commercial deal. So it is Petronas’ right to sell to anybody,” he said at a press conference here.

Late last week, foreign news agencies reported the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak confirming that the national oil company has stopped supplying gasoline to Iran ahead of further global sanctions.

Najib denied the report a day later saying that the transaction was a one-off sale and there has been no new order.

His denial was followed by a statement from Petronas which stated that the decisions regarding the sales were based purely on commercial reasons.

Iran currently imports 40 per cent of its gasoline supplies due to the drop in investment in petroleum refineries in that country.

When it was pointed out that Iran is facing possible international sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme, Dr Mahathir dismissed it as another example of the oppressive foreign policy of the United States.

“The international sanctions is an American job. A lot of countries do not approve of the sanctions. China is still trading with Iran and so is Russia. If it is ‘international’ [then] all countries would have to adhere to it,” said Dr Mahathir.

“This is how America oppresses the others. If people die, like the sanction if Iraq where 500,000 children died, they said it’s alright. This was what Madeline Albright said,” he added referring to the former Secretary of State in the late 1990s.

Tun Mahathir : Anwar supports only those who want him to be PM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 (Bernama) -- Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would back only those who support him to become prime minister.

He said one would know whether Anwar was really a nationalist when one became closer to him.

"I believe the closer you are to him, the more you understand his personality. Is Anwar a nationalist? Actually, he's just fighting to become prime minister. If someone can support him to be prime minister; doesn't matter whether he's a Chinese, Hindu or whatever, he will support that person. That's why he supported Hindraf."

Dr Mahathir, who is Perkim (Malaysia Muslim Welfare Organisation) president, said this after attending a conference with religious teachers under the Education Ministry and Perkim members, here, today.

According to him, the withdrawal of some of Anwar's close allies from PKR showed that they eventually realised his true personality.

Dr Mahathir cited the case of Prof Dr Chandra Muzaffar who quit as PKR deputy president, while Zainul Zakaria, Anwar's lawyer in his sodomy case, withdrew from representing him.

The latest development was that Anwar's personal doctor and Hulu Selangor PKR division treasurer, Datuk Dr Halili Rahmat, announced yesterday that he quit the party, saying that PKR had deviated from its original struggle since its founding in 1999.

On the allegation against Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, the PKR candidate in the Hulu Selangor by-electon, that he was a drinker, Dr Mahathir said such an allegation was unavoidable.

"All is fair in love and war, and in the election. I was also a victim of various allegations... that I had a Chinese wife... had a wife in Singapore. This is politics. So, those who hear the allegations, should make their own evaluation."

Asked whether the personal attacks (against Zaid) could give Barisan Nasional a win, Dr Mahathir said: "May be, may be not. It's up to the voters."

In another development, Dr Mahathir said trade ties between Malaysia and Iran could be affected if Petronas was forbidden to supply gasoline to Iran.

"Datuk Seri Najib (prime minister) denied he disallowed (Petronas). This is a commercial deal. It's Petronas' right to sell the fuel to whoever," he said.

The foreign media had earlier reported Najib as saying that Malaysia had stopped supplying gasoline to Iran, but the purported statement was refuted by the prime minister and said that it was merely a commercial transaction.

Asked about formal sex education for the young, Dr Mahathir said it was not necessary as it was already part of Islamic Studies and Moral Education taught in schools.

He said what was important was to make students understand and teach them how to control their desires, so so to prevent unwanted pregnancies and throwing away of unwanted babies at rubbish dumps and elsewhere.

Apr 20, 2010

Tun Mahathir : All’s fair in love, war and elections

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the smear campaign against PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim in the Hulu Selangor by-election cannot be avoided.

“In English they say all is fair in love and war and in election,” he said when asked if it was right for Barisan Nasional (BN) to exploit Zaid’s past drinking habit in the campaign for the rural constituncy.

“I was subjected to many allegations too. Some people said I have a Chinese wife, that I have a wife in Singapore,” said Dr Mahathir who led the ruling coalition until his retirement in late 2003.

The former prime minister however was unsure if the tactic would help BN in recapturing the seat that it lost in Election 2008 by a slim majority of 198 votes.

“Maybe, maybe not,” he said when asked whether the smear campaign would benefit BN.

The BN campaigners in the April 25 by-election have called on voters to reject Zaid because of his habit.

At an Umno Youth-organised public rally last weekend, the party speakers accused the former Kota Baru MP of having a mini bar at home and drinks regularly despite party vice-president Datuk Hishammddin Hussein’s attempt to distance the party from the smear campaign.

Pictures, believed to have been doctored, of Zaid drinking have also made their appearance in Malay-majority areas in the rural federal constituency.

The former law minister had admitted to consuming alcohol in the past but said he had repented and hoped that all parties will focus on major national issues.

In retaliation, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters have started publishing pictures on the Internet, of what they claimed to be of Umno leaders, Hishammuddin and Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin with alcoholic drinks.

The personal attacks from both sides appear to be an attempt to win the Malay votes, which will decide the outcome of this election.

This Friday PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat will speak at a rally in the constituency to win the Malay votes which form more than half of the 64,500 Hulu Selangor voters.

Apr 16, 2010

Tun Mahathir to give Hulu Selangor a miss

Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will not be campaigning in the Hulu Selangor by-election, although his name has surfaced several times in the run-up to nomination day.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today he will not campaign in Hulu Selangor but has asked the voters to choose Barisan Nasional (BN) in the April 25 by-election.

“I’m not going to campaign but if people want to use my name, it’s up to them. I don’t care,” he told reporters here after speaking at a Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) event.

The former prime minister last took an active role for BN in a by-election campaign last April in Bukit Selambau, a state seat, and Bukit Gantang, a federal seat. The BN lost both.

But that did not stop him from offering his advice to the voters there.

He urged the 64,500 voters in the parliamentary seat to tick BN even if they may know next to nothing about its candidate.

MIC information chief, P. Kalamathan, was named yesterday after the earlier nominee, four-term Hulu Selangor MP Datuk G. Palanivel, was rejected by Umno, the ruling front’s senior partner.

“As far as Barisan Nasional is concerned, we should not think of just the candidate. We should support the party.

“It’s the party which gives power so please choose the party. A candidate by himself cannot do anything,” Dr Mahathir said, when asked to comment on the choice of candidates in the Selangor seat.

The Hulu Selangor by-election was called following the death of PKR MP Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad earlier this month. PKR had won it two years in the 12th General Election, ending the BN’s control.

But Dr Mahathir noted that the ruling government’s chances of wresting the seat back from the opposition bloc were “as good as any, provided people are not influenced by emotion but a proper evaluation of the contributions.”

Asked to comment on Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) man for the by-election, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir said: “He’s a man who claims he has contributed a great deal to Malaysia so up to the electorate to audit his contributions.

Tun Mahathir : Malays must ditch crutches

The New Economic Policy (NEP) was intended to be a "temporary crutch" and abolished when the Malays and bumiputeras are capable of standing on their own two feet, said former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad. He said the whole point of the NEP and similar programmes would be lost if the Malay and bumiputera communities continue to rely on it for financial support, a "weakness" which he said is inherent in their culture.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today berated the Malay community for being rent-seekers, but pressed for the retention of affirmative action to “correct” the country’s wealth imbalance among the races.

In a keynote speech to commemorate the 44th anniversary of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), a government agency set up boost Bumiputera participation in business and education, the former premier said the Malays must not be proud of always getting aid from the government.

“Aid is like a crutch... to be given when we are weak” he told an attentive Malay audience, which packed the ground floor foyer of Medan MARA, the agency’s headquarters here.

“It is better if we can stand firmly on our own feet,” he added.

“Do not be proud with such aid. In truth, we are not masters because of aid,” he chided, lamenting the general attitude among the Malay community which frequently looked for the easiest way of getting rich.

Dr Mahathir, a strident anti-colonial critic, told the crowd that many of the affirmative action policies they regarded as their natural rights were actually created by the colonial British, who viewed them as a backward race in need of handicaps, drawing parallels to the “Red Indians” who continue to reside in Native American reserves in the US.

The author of “The Malay Dilemma” pointed out that the New Economic Policy (NEP) drawn up 30 years ago was never meant to be a permanent policy.

“The NEP was a temporary crutch,” he reminded the crowd, and added that the real Malay fight was not to preserve affirmative action but to spur the community towards better economic opportunities.

He added that Mara, as a government agency, provided such opportunities and urged them not to waste the chances.

“I think we don’t have to rely on aid forever,” he added.

But Dr Mahathir later told a press conference that he did not think the time had come to fully dismantle NEP-style policies.

“The exact time, I can’t say but we must see the result first. You fix the time, [but] you don’t know what your achievement is like. You have to give it more time, have to be patient,” he said, when quizzed on a suitable timeframe for the policy to be phased out.

Dr Mahathir also said he did not see the other ethnic races as having lost out much in terms of economic opportunities as a result of the government’s policies favouring the Bumiputeras.

“In this country, if you study the distribution of wealth, it is still unequal so we need to correct that. And we have been doing this thing for so many years, for almost 50 years.

“It’s not like it has hampered the growth of this country nor have people run away from this country because of injustice or unfairness from the government,” he said.

Dr Mahathir conceded that there were statistics showing an increase in the number of Malaysians leaving the country, but defended this as a natural process that other countries also faced.

“One has to take the good with the bad,” he explained.

The former prime minister seemed to suggest that the brain drain was not critical and that Malaysia was not losing talents as such.

“Of course there will be people who will leave. They feel they are in this country to enjoy the benefits but not to make the sacrifice.”

Apr 12, 2010

Matthias Chang freed from prison

PUTRAJAYA, April 12 — Matthias Chang, the ex-political secretary of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was incarcerated at the Kajang Prison for 12 days, was freed today.

This follows the granting of an ex-parte order for his release by Court of Appeal judge Datuk Sulaiman Daud pending the hearing of an appeal against the High Court’s refusal to issue a discharge order for Chang’s release despite the fine imposed by the High Court which was paid by Chang’s friend.

An interim order was also given to stay the High Court’s decision in refusing to issue the discharge order.

Chang was released at about 6.30 pm from the Kajang Prison and was received by his lawyers and family members.

His lawyers obtained the release order at about 4.30pm. Chang, who looked weak when approached by reporters, said, “I’m okay.” When asked if he has been eating, he responded: “Bubur (Porridge

Chang, 60, a lawyer, was sent to prison on April 1 following his refusal to pay the RM20,000 fine imposed on him by the High Court on March 25 for contempt of court in his defamation case against American Express (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

On April 7, judge Noor Azian Shaari refused to issue the discharge order to Salahuddin Hashim, a friend of Chang, to secure his (Chang’s) release despite the fine paid by Salehuddin on grounds that a third-party did not have locus standi to pay the fine.

Chang was cited for contempt when he failed to apologise to the court after an argument with the judge and a lawyer, during cross-examination by the lawyer in his civil suit.

The attempt to pay the fine was undertaken without Chang’s knowledge as his friends were concerned about his well-being following his hunger strike for being sent to prison. He ended his nine-day protest after a plea from Dr Mahathir.

On April 5, Kajang Prison authorities had to admit Chang to the Serdang Hospital where he was put on drip after his health took a turn for the worse following his refusal to take any solid food.

In his affidavit to support his ex-parte application for Chang’s release Salahuddin claimed that he paid the fine on behalf of Chang on April 5 and handed over the original receipt of payment which was issued by the High Court to a Kajang prison officer, and requested that Chang be released from prison.

He said, however, he was directed by a Prison officer to go back to the High Court to obtain a release order in order to secure Chang’s release.

On April 7, he said his application for Chang’s release was denied on the grounds that he did not have locus standi to apply for Chang’s release.

He said the judge had ordered that the RM20,000 fine which he paid be refunded to him.

However, he said he undertook not to claim back the RM20,000 paid by him on behalf of Chang but would abide by the Court of Appeal’s decision.

Salahuddin said there were merits to the appeal, adding that the High Court erred in law in holding that he did not have locus standi to make the application for Chang’s release.

Meanwhile, at the Kajang Prison, one of Chang’s counsel, Manjit Singh, said Chang was in good condition and will be going home.

Manjit said Chang had been treated well while he was in prison. He said Chang will be going for a medical examination at the Subang Medical Centre. — Bernama

Apr 11, 2010

Lawyers rebut Dr M, say ISA, contempt are different

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — Several lawyers have rebutted Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s argument that equated contempt laws with the Internal Security Act (ISA) that provides detention without trial.

The former prime minister wrote in his blog yesterday that both laws represent excessive concentration of power, and accused lawyers who support the former but not the latter of practising double standards.

Bar Council vice-president Lim Chee Wee explained there here was a “world of difference” between the practice of contempt of court and the ISA.

“For contempt, the process involves the alleged contemnor being given the opportunity to appeal against the decision. Unlike ISA where the detainee is deprived of the right to defend himself against the accusations levelled against him.

“In other words, there is natural justice or right to be heard in contempt process and none in ISA.” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The former prime minister commented on contempt laws after his former political secretary, Matthias Chang, was charged with contempt by Justice Noor Azian Shaari on March 25 for failing to apologise to the court after an argument with the judge and a lawyer in his suit against American Express (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

The senior lawyer was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment from April 1, where he went on a hunger strike which ended on Friday.

“Clearly we are seeing double standards in the implementation of justice,” Dr Mahathir said when commenting on the silence over Chang’s imprisonment for contempt.

But Lim pointed out that Chang had refused his right to appeal the decision, and in so doing “(deprived) himself and the appellate court of the opportunity of correcting the alleged unjust decision”.

He added that equating contempt laws and the ISA demonstrated a “gross misunderstanding of the injustice of ISA” on the part of Dr Mahathir.

Penang Bar chairman Murelidaran Navaratnam was similarly concerned by the former prime minister’s attempt to draw parallels between contempt laws and the ISA.

“I can’t see how he can equate the two. One is detention without trial whatsoever whereas contempt is only after exhausting the hearing procedure.

“The two are not the same.”

Navaratnam explained, however, that there was room to improve the existing contempt laws to make them “tighter” and that the Bar Council would work towards improving the process.

Another lawyer, who asked not to be named, agreed that contempt laws were archaic but also stressed that the parameters were “very clear-cut”.

She contrasted this to the ISA which allows for an individual to be detained without trial based on the sentiments of the Home Minister.

She also emphasised the importance of the provision for contempt laws to the functioning of the court.

“Contempt laws are there to ensure proper procedure is being followed so that when both parties are presenting their case (they) keep to procedures as provided by law.”

Legal practitioner Phillip Koh commented along the same lines.

“(The court) must have some jurisdiction to control its proceedings and to command respect.”

He said that while such laws should not be abused, Dr Mahathir’s analogies were nonetheless not apropos, and criticised Mahathir for not understanding the judiciary.

“The former prime minister has never quite appreciated the workings of an independent judiciary.”

Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan told The Malaysian Insider that the lawyers had pushed for qualification of contempt laws in 1998 after Zainur Zakaria was charged with contempt by Justice Augustine Paul during Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s first sodomy trial.

“The prime minister said there’s no need for any qualification of laws of contempt and, if I recall correctly, the prime minister at the time was Mahathir,” he said wryly.

“Mahathir was not receptive at all.”

Commenting specifically on the Chang case, Kesavan said the Bar Council will scrutinise a video recording of the actual incident released by the court in the next few days before releasing an official statement.

Apr 9, 2010

Tun Mahathir convinces Matthias Chang to end hunger strike

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer Matthias Chang has agreed to end his hunger strike, after a plea from his ex-boss, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

According to a spokesman from Dr Mahathir's office, the former prime minister, in his appeal to Chang, told the latter that he needed to end his fast as they still had struggles ahead of them.

Chang, who went on a hunger strike from April 1, agreed to end the nine-day protest Friday, after Dr Mahathir's appeal was relayed to him.

He had refused to take any solid food since his incarceration on April 1.

His health took a turn for the worse, forcing Kajang Prison authorities to admit him to the Serdang Hospital on Monday where he was put on a drip.

Chang was discharged from hospital on Wednesday and returned to the Kajang Prison but persisted with his hunger strike.

Meanwhile, friends concerned about his health came up with the money to pay the RM20,000 fine on Monday, which was accepted by the court. However, an application for a discharge order was rejected by High Court judge Noor Azlan Shaari on grounds that such an application could not be made by a third party.

Justice Noor Azian had earlier cited Chang for contempt and fined him RM20,000 in default, one month's jail. He refused to pay the fine and went to jail. - Bernama

Apr 7, 2010

PM Najib defends country's New Economic Model

SINGAPORE: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has defended the country's New Economic Model which he revealed last week.

The plan, aimed at steering Malaysia to a high-income based economy, has received criticisms among some sectors for eroding its decades-old affirmative action policy.

Mr Najib was addressing more than 100 journalists at a dialogue session after his speech at a gala dinner organised by the Foreign Correspondents Association in Singapore on Tuesday.

The Malaysian PM arrived in Singapore just three days after marking his first year in office.

Fresh from announcing the country's new growth strategies, he explained the thinking behind some of the reforms.

Questions flowed fast on whether the New Economic Model will get a backlash from Malaysia's bumiputras and even within the ruling Barisan Nasional party.

Mr Najib said Malaysia's affirmative action policy, which gives Malays special privileges, have not hampered Malaysia's growth.

He said that even at the height of the New Economic Policy, Malaysia was growing at 8 to 9 per cent and some of the richest people in Malaysia are non-Malays.

Mr Najib said: "So it will be a more transparent and fairer way in which we implement affirmative action, and at the end of the day, I hope it will lead to a more cohesive and socially harmonious society."

He said the new approach to Malaysia's affirmative action is for it to be more "market-friendly, transparent, merit-based, and needs-based".

The reforms come after the Barisan Nasional took a knocking at the last general elections in 2008.

The results prompted the new prime minister to think about getting back to basics.

Mr Najib said: "What the public wanted and the rakyat or the people wanted was a change. But they did not want an incremental change or incremental changes, they wanted a massive transformation both economically and politically, and the time was right for us to embark on this."

He also revealed that Malaysia will identify new growth engines to propel the economy.

He did not give details, but said it will move beyond traditional sectors like oil and gas, rubber, and palm oil.

Mr Najib also said Malaysia will most probably issue Islamic bonds denominated in US dollars.

He did not reveal when this will take place or the size, which he said will be announced later. He said Malaysia does not actually need the money, but a bond issue would be a benchmark on how the markets viewed the country's creditworthiness.

He was asked about the possibility of a re-merger with Singapore.

Mr Najib said: "Both countries have taken different paths. It would be too traumatic to try to have a political reunification, but I would like to see deeper economic relations between Malaysia and Singapore, I would like to see good relations between both countries. I would like to see us work together in many fronts."

One is a joint project with Raffles Education to develop a university in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor's economic corridor.

The university will be implemented in three phases, with an initial enrolment of about 5,000 students within its first five years. Mr Najib said an application has already been made to Malaysia's Ministry of Higher Education to establish the university.

There is also a plan to build a Wellness Centre on a 500-acre plot of land in the area.

Mr Najib noted: "But we have not concluded it yet. So, that is a subject of intense discussion with Singapore."

Mr Najib and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are expected to meet for a retreat in Singapore next month to discuss how to further strengthen bilateral relations.

Now that the foundation has been set, all eyes will be on the implementation of the policies announced.

Mr Najib has indicated that details on the New Economic Model will be revealed over the next few months. - CNA/ms

Apr 6, 2010

Tun Mahathir : Capitalism must be handled carefully

KUALA LUMPUR: Capitalism must be very carefully handled although it is a good system, said former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir said events that led to the present global financial crisis, which affected the West very much showed that uncontrolled capital could actually destroy even the big economies.

Capitalism has many different interpretations, some declare it as complete free movement of capital into a country to invest and exploit while others feel that there should be some control over the movement of capital.

"Because capital is a very powerful instrument...it actually can destroy an economy as much as it can build an economy. Many countries now especially in Asia are wary of complete free flow of capital," he said from Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in a question and answer session about the future of capitalism, in a video conference interview.

The session was conducted by Dr Frank-Jurgen Richter, the President and founder of Horasis: The Global Visions Community, an independent international organisation committed to enacting visions for a sustainable future, in conjunction with the Plus International Expressway Conference and Exhibition 2101, which ended here today.

Talking further about the cause of the present financial crisis, Dr Mahathir who is in the capital city of the Balkan state for a visit, said that governments in many countries abdicated their role because they decided that the market will control the economy and the market would play the role of regulating itself.

"But the market is about making money. So, when they saw a chance to abuse the system to get money for themselves...they did not hesitate," he said.

As such, Dr Mahathir said that governments need to regulate the functions of banks and make sure banks did not lend far too much money.

"The crisis started because too much capital (was) lend out without any proper consideration as to the prudence of lending money to the people, who actually turned out unable to pay their debts," he said.

Answering a question on the rise of protectionism in the United States and Europe, Dr Mahathir
pointed out that most countries in the world including East Asia had the tendency to protect certain industries regarded as of national character or very crucial to the economic growth of their country.

"So we had to accept that there cannot be really total openness...some countries will try to protect not by tariffs or physical blockage but by having certain conditions such as qualities...specification, etc...which means in effect you have become protectionist," he said.

On China, Dr Mahathir urged those who had the idea that China posed a threat to the world, to re-think about it.

"Because China is there and will be there, no matter what you do, and is going to be a great world power...but I think to curb China's growth and all that is not the right approach.

"You have to accept that China is going to be very strong economically and strong economies obviously must have strong military capability to protect themselves. This is not a threat to the world," said Dr Mahathir.- Bernama

Matthias Chang admitted to Serdang Hospital

KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — Matthias Chang (picture), who opted to go to jail rather than pay a fine for contempt of court, was admitted to the Serdang Hospital today after going on a hunger strike.

A spokesman at the hospital, when contacted by Bernama, said Chang was admitted to the emergency ward at 11.59am before being transferred to the normal ward at 1.12pm.

The former political secretary of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s fourth prime minister, was reported to have gone on a hunger strike after he was taken to the Kajang Prison to serve a month’s jail in default on April 1, following his refusal to pay the RM20,000 fine for the contempt offence.

According to a statement posted on Chang’s website on Saturday, Chang had stated that he would persist with his hunger strike until judge Noor Azian Shaari stopped her alleged biasness in her dealings with litigants, and the authorities involved agreed to review legislation concerning punishment for contempt of court (Order 52 of the Rules of the High Court 1980).

Chang, 60, was cited for contempt on March 25 when he refused to apologise after a spat with Noor Azian and a lawyer during cross-examination in his breach of contract and defamation suit against American Express (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. — Bernama

Apr 3, 2010

Tun Mahathir : NEM fulfils 1Malaysia concept

PETALING JAYA, April 2 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the New Economic Model (NEM) launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak on Tuesday fulfilled the 1 Malaysia concept as it encompasses all the races.

The former prime minister said the introduction of the NEM showed that Najib understood the needs of all races in the country, including the Malays.

“I think he understands the need to cater to all communities and not forgetting his own community,” he told reporters after launching the book and art exhibition ‘Painted-Axioms of Life Experiences” by the Vice-Chancellor of the International University College of Nursing, Prof Datuk Dr Hashim Yaacob, at Subang Jaya, near here.

Also present at the function was Dr Mahathir’s wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali.

The NEM was implemented to boost the national economy so that Malaysia would become a developed nation by the year 2020 and subsequently raise the income of the whole population.

When asked on the by-election for the Hulu Selangor Parliamentary seat to be held on April 25, Dr Mahathir expressed his fear on the selection of the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate to wrest the seat from the opposition.

As such, he hoped the BN would field a suitable candidate who could be accepted by the constituents.

On the first anniversary of Najib’s leadership as Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir said the one-year period is insufficient to gauge the leadership and changes brought by Najib.

“One year is insufficient to make an assessment. One year is for the person to learn his job,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the new policies and planning introduced by Najib could only be evaluated when they have been implemented successfully and have achieved results. — Bernama

Apr 1, 2010

Matthias Chang won’t pay fine and is ready to go to jail

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer Matthias Chang will appear before the High Court today and surrender himself to be jailed after refusing to pay his RM20,000 fine for contempt of court.

Speaking to the press yesterday, Chang said he would not pay the fine as the law invoked in citing him for contempt was “an unjust and draconian law”, and was prone to abuse by judges.

He was found to be in contempt of court under Order 52a of the Rules of the High Court.

“I refuse to pay the fine and I am willing to go to jail in protest against such a draconian law.

“I had initially contemplated appealing to the Appellate Courts but realised that whatever the outcome, the draconian law will remain. I, therefore, decided not to appeal,” he said.

Chang had turned up in court at 3pm yesterday with his lawyers Manjit Singh, David Ho and T.E. Cheah to surrender but was instead informed that High Court judge Justice Noor Azian Shaari was on leave.

When asked if he was not concerned about the prison conditions, Chang replied: “If you oppose an unjust law, you must be prepared to face the consequences.

“You cannot be hypocritical. You cannot condemn an unjust law and yet want an easy way out.”

At about 4.20pm, Chang and his counsel were asked to meet deputy registrar K. Pavanni in chambers.

Chang later told reporters that he was informed by the court that he could not be committed to prison as he had until yesterday evening to pay the fine.

“The last chance for me to pay is this (Wednesday) evening.

“So, even though I have presented myself today, by law, they can only send me to prison tomorrow morning at the earliest. So, I’ll come again tomorrow at 9.30am,” he added.

On March 26, Chang, who was previously the political secretary to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was fined RM20,000 in default of one month’s jail for contempt of court after a spat with Justice Noor Azian while the court was hearing his suit against American Express (M) Sdn Bhd for breach of contract and defamation.

Justice Noor Azian dismissed the suit the next day.