Jun 30, 2010

Tun Mahathir renews pressure on Najib to revive crooked bridge

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pressed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today to revive the crooked bridge he had proposed to replace the Johor Causeway connecting Malaysia and Singapore.

The former prime minister questioned Najib’s reluctance in continuing the project despite a request by the Sultan of Johor for Putrajaya for its revival.

“The question that many have asked me, and I am convinced that this is also being asked by a majority of people, is why Datuk Seri Najib as the powerful prime minister is not willing to continue building this bridge?” asked Dr Mahathir in a posting on his popular blog today.

“Is Najib tied in a deal with the fifth prime minister? What is the status of this deal?” he added, referring to former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi who had cancelled the crooked bridge project.

The proposal to build a “crooked” bridge to replace the ageing Causeway, linking peninsular Malaysia to the island republic, was mooted by Dr Mahathir when he was the prime minister.

However, relations between the two countries were often chilly during his administration, causing Singapore to shoot down his idea which was eventually cancelled by his successor Abdullah.

Besides easing traffic congestion between Johor Baru and Singapore, the proposed bridge would also facilitate the free flow of water in the Tebrau Straits in addition to allowing ships heading to East Asia to bypass Singapore.

“I have never heard objections from Malaysians towards the bridge project in replacing the Johor Causeway,” said Dr Mahathir.

“There is also a letter from the previous prime minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong, that was published by the Singaporean government in the book ‘Water Talks – If Only It Could’ that he never objected the building of the bridge in Malaysian waters if it was so desired by the Malaysian government,” he added.

In response to the Sultan of Johor's call for the bridge project to be revived, Najib had said that his administration would look into the matter but did not elaborate further.

At Najib's recent meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong a month ago, both leaders had decided to reduce toll charges at the Second Link, one of two bridges linking Malaysia and Singapore, by 30 per cent starting August 1 this year.

Aside from the toll rate announcement, the two prime ministers had also agreed to move the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) station from Tanjong Pagar to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP) by July 1, 2011, as well as setting up a joint venture company called M-S Pte Ltd, to jointly develop the land that is left behind.

However, the issue of the crooked bridge or a third bridge was not discussed in their meeting.

Najib had mooted the idea of a third bridge linking the republic to Malaysia in June last year, which he said could enable the development of the eastern side of Johor and districts like Mersing and Desaru.

Jun 24, 2010

Tun Mahathir : I would have approved betting licence

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would approve the widely unpopular football betting licence if he were still in power.

“If I am the government, I will approve it,” he said in Putrajaya today.

He said the government should not stop those who are permitted to gamble.

“The Chinese always gamble, it isn’t haram for them. Why stop them?

“Why should we stop them? We can’t stop them from eating pork because for them it’s not haram,” he said.

Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s Berjaya Corp had reported last month that the government had re-issued the licence to Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd — also controlled by Tan — after the original licence was cancelled by the previous administration under Tun Abdullah Badawi.

The listed company had proposed in a filing made to Bursa Malaysia on May 12 to acquire Tan’s 70 per cent stake of Ascot Sports for RM525 million. The remaining 30 per cent would remain under the control of his son, Datuk Robin Tan Yeong Ching.

However, its status has been called into question by the Finance Ministry’s recent denial that it had issued the licence to Ascot Sports following public uproar at the legalisation of another avenue for gambling.

Long-time Mahathir associate Tan had first obtained the licence from the feisty veteran politician himself but had “asked the government to take it back” when the venture was unsuccessful.

But he has now obtained the right to get the licence back and was exercising it.

Dr Mahathir said last Monday that Pakatan Rakyat’s objections to the re-issuance of the sports betting licence was not driven by religious reasons but, rather, political ones.

“The objection is political, not Islamic,” he had said.

“Even the DAP is protesting, as if the DAP too is supporting Islamic teachings. This is the politics of the opposition parties which are looking at issues (for political mileage).”

Jun 15, 2010

Tun Mahathir : Make sports betting legal

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the opposition by many quarters against the move by the government to issue a sports betting licence is purely for political reasons.

KUALA TERENGGANU: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has given his backing to a proposal to issue licences for sports betting, saying that this will help legalise the industry as well as thwart illegal gambling.

He slammed opposition leaders for protesting against the issuance, claiming that they were just trying to gain political mileage.

“I don’t understand DAP’s rationale in protesting. It is not as if DAP is championing the tenets of Islam. They just want to make a mountain out of a molehill to garner political support,” he said after delivering his keynote address at an inaugural rally organised by Gerakan Kebangkitan Rakyat’s (People’s Consciousness Move ment) here yesterday.

Dr Mahathir also questioned PAS’ motive in objecting to the plan as there were other forms of licensed gambling in the country.

“They are also against the plan, not because of Islam but to win political support. They are not against other types of gambling. They just want to find fault on football betting to get political attention,” he said, adding that legalising sports betting was the only way to stamp out underground syndicates.

Dr Mahathir said even if the Government decided against issuing the licence, the Chinese would still continue to gamble as they had a passion for it.

“Sport betting is for the non-Muslims and it is their right to gamble,” he said, adding that the Government could not forbid them from gambling.

Dr Mahathir also scoffed at a suggestion that the Government was forced to approve the licence to millionaire Tan Sri Vincent Tan as gratitude for funding the Barisan Nasional in recent polls.

“Vincent Tan has been prospering in Vietnam, Korea and China. He is not desperate to find money here,” he pointed out.

Dr Mahathir also said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak could consider calling for an early general election if it was confirmed that his approval ratings had climbed to 72% from 69% in a recent poll conducted by Merdeka Centre.

In Parliament, backbencher Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin called on the Government to legalise sports betting to curb illegal gambling, especially when the World Cup fever was at its peak.

He added that illegal bookies were raking in at least RM15bil per year in football betting, most of which was then channelled overseas.

“The Government should provide an option for non-Muslims to participate in legal sports betting activities. If we want to prevent a huge outflow of money from the country, then we should legalise sports gambling.

“The Government can gain revenue through taxes. It should also be made clear that only Muslims cannot gamble and drink,” he said when debating the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Jun 14, 2010

Tun Mahathir : Barry Wain can say what he wants

KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he will not sue the author of a political biopic despite claims in the book that the former prime minister squandered RM100 billion (US$40 billion) of the country’s wealth.

“My view is that a politician must accept all the opinions for or against him as normal. They go with the job,” he said in his blog chedet.co.cc.

Former Asian Wall Street Journal editor, Barry Wain, whose book Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times, had also attributed many problems hampering Malaysia today to the former prime minister’s 22-year-tenure.

However, Dr Mahathir said the author and his supporters can say what they like.

“The people in this country can decide whether it is just arrogance or whether their accusations are what they say they are. I will have my say if I think it necessary.”

He said many have asked him to sue the author especially after a recent forum held at the University of Malaya to discuss the book during which he was condemned for all kinds of misdeeds.

“In fact even before the book was allowed to be sold in Malaysia, many who took exception to Barry Wain’s vilification of my stint as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, including the press, have asked me to sue the author.”

However, Dr Mahathir said that he was wary of politicians who sue their critics, describing the move as cowardly

“I suspect that what they want is to make the issue sub-judice so as to prevent the critics from attacking them on the issue. This is a cowardly move and in fact proves that the criticisms are fully justified.”

He said a politician who is convinced of his own integrity and innocence should be able to fend off the attacks by proving that they have no basis.

“It is up to the people, after hearing both sides to decide on the matter.”

He said muzzling critics by abusing the authority of the court is no better than governments which censor or shut down papers, critical of them.

“Those who resort to this trick to shut the mouths of their critics are in fact showing the kind of leader they would make if they come to power.”

He said Malaysians should be discerning enough to recognise such politicians who are fond of accusing others of misdeeds but who are in fact already abusing whatever little power they may have at their disposal.

In his best seller, Wain indicated that issues which exist in Malaysia today including corruption, lack of leadership and abuse of the New Economic Policy stemming from Dr Mahathir’s tenure.

However Wain, who was a foreign correspondent in Malaysia from 1977 to 1979 and has worked in Asia for 38 years, said Malaysia was already one of the fastest-growing developing economies midway into Dr Mahathir tenure.

The book, a result of two-and-a-half years of research and interviews spread over three years, was launched in Asia in December last year but the Home Ministry only approved its sale in Malaysia in April this year.

Over 4,000 copies were sold here after its launch and another 5,000 copies are being printed for Malaysia by UBSD Distribution Sdn Bhd.

Tun Mahathir claims Malays could become like ‘Singapore Malays'

KUALA TERENGGANU, June 14 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the Malays were in crisis and risked becoming marginalised like “Singapore Malays” because of political divisions.

He told a rally of Malay NGOs here today that Malays could end up as a minority in their own country.

According to the ex-premier, the community had become divided by political parties selling them out for power.

He then blamed PAS and PKR, instead of Umno, for the predicament he claimed Malays were now in.

“The Malays make up 60 per cent of the population. However, the percentage of Malay voters are smaller today because 20 per cent each is given to the three [Malay] political parties, including Umno.

“And they will fight each other, [and this will cause] the community to become a minority. They (PKR and PAS) only want to grab power. Their priority is not race and religion but power.

“They are willing to do anything to become prime minister,” he claimed when addressing Gertak’s rally at the state’s indoor stadium here.

Fewer than a thousand people were present at The Gerakan Kebangkitan Rakyat’s (People’s Awareness Movement) “Melayu Bangkit” rally here. The organisers had expected a turnout of more than five thousand.

Gertak means “to intimidate” or “to bully” in Bahasa Malaysia, but organisers have denied that today’s rally was meant to intimidate non-Malays.

Dr Mahathir said that community was in crisis and must act before it shares the same fate as its southern neighbours.

“If we do not think deeply about the future of our community then there is a possibility that we can become [like] the Singaporean Malays and have no power.

“We would have to bow down when facing other races. It’s not that we want other races to bow down to us but we want fair distribution of economic and political power,” he said.

The Gertak movement was founded earlier this year, shortly after the controversial “Allah” judgment.

In a landmark ruling on Dec 31 last year, the Catholic Church won the right to use the word “Allah” to also refer to God outside of Islam, shattering a long-held view among many Malaysian Muslims who considered that the word was reserved for their community.

The movement’s purpose was to unite the Malay community, which today is split over issues of religion and race, Gertak chief Razali Idris said.

An initial rally scheduled for May 13 had been cancelled after authorities stepped in out of concern the event may trigger memories of the racial bloodbath from 41 years ago and reignite tensions between Malaysia’s diverse ethnic groups.

Jun 7, 2010

Rethink Gaza aid channels, urges Tun Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — A new assessment on the effectiveness of shipping humanitarian relief aid to Gaza has to be made to ensure the aid reaches the people of Gaza, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said: “We have to make an assessment first as to the effectiveness of the method of bringing relief to Gaza. This is not just a propaganda.

“We are very worried that cement, for example, is not allowed by the Israelis to be imported into Gaza. They (Palestinians) may make use of it to build military bunkers to fight against them (Israelis), but without the cement they (Palestinians) cannot build the houses,” said Dr Mahathir when asked on the next move of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation (PGPO) to bring aid to the Gazans following the hijacking of the relief vessels by Israel’s navy.

He was speaking to reporters after launching the inaugural charity fund to raise funds for the development of a new Kiblah Education Complex yesterday, which will comprise a secondary school, a tahfiz centre and a linguistics centre, under the patronage of Yayasan Kebajikan Nusantara (Yakin).

The new Kiblah Education Complex will be built in Jenderam Hilir, Sepang.

When asked whether humanitarian aid can be transported by air, he said that he did not think so, and added that “it might be by land”.

“If Egypt opens its border with Raffah, they want to examine everything and every item that we take and that may cause delays, and also they may consider certain things as dangerous,” he said.

Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir expressed his hope that the development of the new Kiblah Education Complex would stress the understanding and teaching of Quran.

At tonight’s charity dinner, the Yayasan Kebajikan Nusantara received donations amounting to RM3.5 million including 3 million Qatar Rials from Emir of Qatar, who was represented by the Mufti of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Syeikh Dr Sulaiman Al-Saloomi. — Bernama

Jun 6, 2010

Tun Mahathir : Malays now divided into three groups

(BERNAMA) Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad hopes that the people will give Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak time and space to strengthen racial solidarity and boost the country's economic development.

He said it was not easy for Najib to resolve problems relating to the economy and unity unless the people gave him their undivided support.

"If he (Najib) does anything bad, then you can criticise, but if he does something good, we should support him so that he will get the strength from our support.

"When he gets strong support, he can discharge his duty more effectively. A weak leader will certainly not be able to protect us," he said.

He said this to reporters after attending a programme in Tanjong Karang yesterday.

Meanwhile, the former prime minister said the Malays must unite again to regain their political power because although they form 60 per cent of the population, the race had been divided into three.

The Malays were now divided into three groups and mathematically, Umno only represented 20 per cent of the 60 per cent Malays. The same was also true of PAS and PKR.

"Twenty per cent for each Malay party is considered weak. The Malays have lost direction, some have joined the DAP.

"There are Malays wearing scarves but carrying the rocket (DAP) flags during the Sibu parliamentary by-election," he said.

Jun 4, 2010

Tun Mahathir : Give Najib time and space

TANJONG KARANG: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should be given time and space to strengthen racial solidarity and boost the country’s economic development, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He added it would not be easy for Najib to resolve problems unless the people gave him their undivided support.

“If he (Najib) does anything bad, then you can criticise, but if he does something good, we should support him.

“When he gets strong support, he can discharge his duty more effectively,” said the former Prime Minister.

On another matter, Dr Mahathir said the Malays must unite again to regain their political power because although they form 60% of the population, the race had been divided into three.

“Mathematically, Umno only represented 20% of the Malays. The same was also true of PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

“20% for each Malay party is considered weak,” he said, adding the Malays had lost their direction. — Bernama