Sunday, 30 November 2008

Najib, Mahathir live on Al Jazeera next week - Malaysiakini

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be appearing separately live on Al Jazeera's Riz Khan show next week, according to Malaysiakini.

Both are expected to talk on the current political situation in Malaysia and the implications of the global economic crisis.

Najib will be making an appearance on 10 pm on Monday, Dec 1, while Mahathir is scheduled to be on air at the same time three days later on Thursday, Dec 4.

Those keen to participate can call in or email questions to Riz’ email ( or call in live to the show at +1 202 275 2360.

Riz will also be having blogger and ex-Internal Security Act detainee Raja Petra Kamarudin on the show to talk on the ISA, culture and politics. Playwrights Kee Thuan Chye and Jo Kukhatas will appear on the same panel.

This show will air in between the Najib and Mahathir interviews on Wednesday, Dec 3, with a repeat at 10 pm the next day. - Reports from Malaysiakini

Friday, 28 November 2008

Deputy education minister Razali dies - Malaysiakini

Deputy Education Minister Razali Ismail, 59, died today after collapsing while playing badminton at the teachers training college, Aminuddin Baki Institute, in Genting Highlands at about 6.30pm. Malaysiakini reports .

He was at the college for a Terengganu Umno retreat. His body was subsquently brought to Hospital Bentong. The deputy minister left behind his wife, Nooraini Lob Yusoff, and five children.

Razali, who was a two-term Kuala Terengganu parliamentarian for Umno, defeated PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu and 89-year-old Maimun Yusuf in the March 8 general elections.

He won with a slim majority of 628 by bagging 32,562 votes against Mohamad’s 31,934 and Maimun’s 685.

Razali, a first-time deputy minister, was chairman of the Higher Education Fund (PTPTN).

The Election Commission is expected to call a by-election within 60 days.

Let this be the 'wake-up call' to employers - Irene Fernandez

Migrant workers' rights group Tenaganita has reiterated its call for a better protection of foreign domestic workers in the wake of a court decision against homemaker Yim Pek Ha.

Yim was sentenced to 18 years in jail after she was found guilty of grievously hurting her domestic helper Nirmala Bonat.

Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez said that the jail sentence imposed on Yim "must bring out a lot of soul searching in how domestic workers are treated and employed in the country".

"Will the 18 years imprisonment be a wake-up call to employers and to all of us?" asked Fernandez in a statement yesterday. (Read Malaysiakini here)

She said that it was time for everyone to critically address the conditions that enabled employers' such as Yim to systematically and continuously harm her domestic worker.

"The power of the employer to hold her domestic worker's passport; the non-recognition of Nirmala as a worker under the Employment Act: no off-day but work very long hours for seven days a week ; and kept in isolation gave Yim the confidence and the power to abuse and belief that Nirmala will never be able to seek redress.

"It is these conditions that must be addressed. Yim will pay through her jail sentence for the grievous hurt caused on Nirmala," she said.

However, she blamed the government too for being equally responsible because the conditions of work are not regulated.

There is neither a law nor a standardised contract to protect Nirmala and all other domestic workers.

"The government provided the condition of isolation by not giving a paid day off. And consequently, it opened the doors for abuse and exploitation," she said.

Fernandez said that while it could be an end for Nirmala's case, there were many more Nirmalas in the country who were in a vulnerable situation.

Irene who was acquitted on Monday on a charge of publishing false news on ill-treatment and abuse of migrant workers after a 13-year court battle, should know what she is talking.

Tenaganita has handled more than 188 cases of domestic workers who have been abused, raped and exploited with intense human rights violations.

According to her, the government must attack the root causes of such forms of abuse and exploitation. As a priority, it must immediately recognise the conditions under which these domestic workers were working.

"There is a need to give a paid day off to all domestic workers and a standardised contract that will clearly state the terms and conditions of employment," she added.

She also urged the Human Resources Ministry to stop being silent as it is part of the abuse and exploitation of domestic workers.

"The ministry must do justice to more than half a million women who are working as domestic workers in this country.

"It is only when domestic workers are recognised as workers and protected through an effective legislation that we can say justice is done to Nirmala and all domestic workers," she said.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Irene Fernandez acquitted - Malaysiakini

The High Court today freed Tenaganita Sdn Bhd director Irene Fernandez after quashing her conviction and 12-month jail sentence for publishing false news in 1995, Malaysiakini reports .

Judge Mohamad Apandi Ali had initially fixed Oct 28 to 30 to hear her appeal but this morning made his surprise decision to acquit Irene, an activist and a Parti Keadilan Supreme Council member, on a charge of publishing false news on ill-treatment and abuse of migrant workers after a 13-year court battle.

Read the rest of the story below:

The High Court judge made the decision after deputy public prosecutor Shamsul Sulaiman said that the prosecution had decided not to fight the appeal.

"In the light of the prosecution not opposing the appeal by the appellant, there is no necessity to deliberate on the appeal further," said Mohamad Apandi, drawing cheers and applause from Fernandez's family and friends who were gathered at the court as early as 9am.

"I hereby reverse the findings and sentence, and acquit and discharge the appellant. Conviction and sentence is hereby set aside," said the judge.

Prior to the judgment, the lawyers had met with justice Mohamad Apandi in chambers for about an hour. The court resumed open hearing at 11.30am and soon after announced the verdict.

Shamsul said that the prosecution had decided to not pursue the appeal as there were "recently discovered systemic error which are manifested in the notes of proceeding” as well as “the peculiar set of circumstances of this appeal".

DPP: AG decided to drop appeal

Shamsul added that the government’s decision to drop the appeal was made by attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail.

The Tenaganita executive director's was put off time and again after statements of important prosecution witnesses were found to be missing.

On Aug 5, the case was brought to a standstill when Fernandez was told a computer virus had wiped out a portion of a specific volume of notes required for the trial.

Two months later, Fernandez's lawyer M Puravalen said that the 8,988 pages of handwritten and typed notes amounting to a total of eight volumes of documents were "incomprehensible”.

Judge Mohamad Apandi had subsequently set today to hear arguments on the issue.

Fernandez’s 13-year ordeal began in 1995 when she exposed the poor conditions at immigration detention centres in a memorandum entitled 'Abuse, Torture and Dehumanised Conditions of Migrant Workers in Detention Centres'.

She alleged incidences of torture as well as deaths of illegal immigrants who were detained in the camps.

Fernandez was arrested and charged a year later under Section 8A (1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

Her case, which became the longest-running criminal trial in Malaysian history, ended in 2003 with the court finding her guilty and slapped her with a 12-month imprisonment.

'Light at the end of the tunnel'

Met outside court, 62-year-old Fernandez appeared jubilant after the court decision, saying that she could at last see "light at the end of the tunnel".

"(I am) relieved that truth and justice had prevailed and the conviction has been set aside but it also tells us that the courts have to be more systematic in what they do so that the technical errors do not surface."Still, the main point is I am free now after 13 years of struggle...," said Fernandez, who vowed to continue her fight to support migrant workers.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Shahrizat: I was forced to accept June Transition plan

The verbal war between the top two Wanita leaders has begun with Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz firing (read here and here ) her first salvo a day after her deputy Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil announced her intention to challenge her in the coming party polls.

Rafidah hit out at Shahrizat for breaking the promise made earlier that she would not challenge her.

In her 11-page handwritten statement to the press yesterday, Rafidah said her deputy even said ‘My word is my honour’, that she would abide by the advice of the party’s top leaders and had accepted the (June) transition plan.

But Shahrizat disclosed - as many have suspected - that she had agreed to Wanita’s transition plan under duress.

“Can you imagine if I had declined the transition plan in front of 700 to 800 people, including the Prime Minister,” she told the Star.

According to Shahrizat, Rafidah had sprung the June 2009 plan on her at a Wanita function at the Putra World Trade Centre on the day it was announced (Aug 4), without any prior consultation with her or the executive council.

Shahrizat, who admits that she has always been a “yes man” to Rafidah said:

“I am always listening to Tan Sri. I have positioned myself as her deputy. It is not my habit to offer anything that I was not asked. This is something I have conditioned myself for over the years. I am a party person.

"She is my boss.”

The rest of the report below:

“Throughout the years, you never find me offering opinions, because Tan Sri is a very strong leader and she speaks her mind. I look at myself as a backbencher. This is to maintain peace,” she said.

Shahrizat said she took time to come to a decision because she had to consider the effect of her decision on the movement.

“But once I have made up my mind, I don’t turn back,” she said.

She said although she had called for divisions to respect the transition plan, the ground was volatile.

“The mood was that they don’t want top leaders to make decisions for them. They were resentful that we assume they will accept the plan. And I bore the brunt for a long time.

“The women wanted to be given a choice and felt that their right to exercise their right had been taken away. This was putting the Wanita structure in danger. The women were angry with me for agreeing (to the plan) because the Wanita chief will be acting and there would be no deputy.

“They wanted me to stand up and fight against it. But at that time, I did not have the strength to fight,” she said, adding that the straw that broke the camel’s back was the last Wanita exco
meeting, where she was not given a chance to express her views. The Star

Rafidah, who earned the nickname 'Iron Lady' while serving as Trade Minister for two decades before being dumped from the cabinet earlier this year, had hoped to remain as Wanita chief until June 2009.

Friday, 21 November 2008

"I will defend my post" - Rafidah

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz announced on Friday that she will defend the Wanita Umno chief's post in the party's elections in March, Bernama reports.

Rafidah, 65, said she appreciated and respected the nominations she received from 117 divisions.

"I leave it to the delegates, who represent the grassroots, to determine their preferred leader for the 2009-2011 period," she said in an 11-page statement today.

On Thursday, Wanita Umno deputy chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who received 73 nominations, announced that she would contest for the movement's top post.

The decision has effectively scuttled the movement's leadership transition plan in June 2009 as announced by Rafidah in August.

In the statement, Rafidah also expressed disappointment that the transition plan was being disputed and rejected three months after she made the announcement.

She added that Datuk Seri Shahrizat herself who had agreed to abide by the transition plan was willing to change her stand when she received enough nominations to contest for the top post.

Had the matter been brought up before the nomination process started, the Wanita Umno executive council would have scrapped the transition plan, said Rafidah.

"And there would be no hesitation on my part to allow the divisions to nominate whomever they want for the posts of Wanita chief and deputy chief," she said.

The objection, however, only came to light after sufficient nominations were obtained for the posts, she said.

"Only then they come out with all kinds of excuses to object the plan," she said. Read here to continue...

In August, Rafidah had agreed to step down in June next year to pave the way for Shahrizat to take over the movement's leadership, but the postponement of the party polls to March made many Wanita Umno leaders urge Rafidah to reconsider the transition plan.

Last weekend, the Wanita Umno exco reaffirmed its earlier decision for the top two posts in the wing not to be contested, but Kuala Kangsar Wanita chief, Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim, who has already qualified to run for No 2, insisted that the Wanita Umno exco had no right to decide on the movement's leadership.

Kamilia, who is also a Wanita Umno exco member, has won the No 2 post uncontested since Shahrizat has decided to go for the top post.

Rafidah: "We will meet 'di gelanggang' in March"...

"'It is not a question of whether or not I am accepting the challenge....there is a challenge and I will have to defend my post.

"We will meet di gelanggang in March," the incumbent Wanita chief, Rafidah Aziz, told Nuraina Samad of 3540 Jalan Sudin in response to her deputy's decision to challenge her for the post in the party elections in March.

Rafidah, in an interview with the blogger, said she was shocked by Shahrizat Jalil's "about-turn" - by going against her earlier pledge.

Shahrizat had assured her, the Wanita exco and the public that she had no intention of contesting the top post and had agreed to the transition plan to ensure a smooth transfer of leadership in June.

Yesterday, Shahrizat as expected - following recent development in the movement - announced her decision to challenge Rafidah.

Asked if she would hand over the leadership to Shahrizat in June if she wins in the March elections, Rafidah said:

"If I win, then I will have to lead the wing for another three years."- continue here.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Confirmed: Shahrizat to go for top Wanita post - Malaysiakini

Malaysiakini reports

Confirmed: Shahrizat to go for top post
Nov 20, 08 4:37pm

Wanita Umno deputy chief Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil today announced that she will contest for the wing's top post next year.

Sharizat, who was appointed as a special adviser to the prime minister after the March 8 elections, made the announcement via a two-paragraph statement this afternoon.

"Wanita Umno must be united in strengthening the party as well as be bold in bringing about changes and renewal," she said.

The announcement ended speculations as to whether or not Shahrizat would accept the 73 nominations for her to contest against incumbent chief Rafidah Aziz, who received 117 nominations at the division level.

Previously, Rafidah had stated that she would defend her post and hand over the reins to Shahrizat in June.

Strong backing for Shahrizat

However, Wanita exco member Kamilia Ibrahim threw a spanner into the works by announcing that she would contest for the number two post.

She had received 55 nominations, which is more than the minimum number required to be a candidate for the contest.

Kamilia's announcement led to speculations that Shahrizat had been left with no hoice but to go against Rafidah for the number one slot.

Kamilia, on the other hand, is expected to win the deputy chief post uncontested.

Some of the divisions which had nominated Rafidah were also said to have switched their allegiance to Shahrizat.

The Bahasa Malaysia version below:

Shahrizat sah cabar Rafidah
Muda Mohd Noor Nov 20, 08 3:24pm

Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil hari ini mengumumkan akan bertanding jawatan ketua Wanita Umno.

Beliau mengumumkan demikian dalam satu kenyataan rasmi yang dikeluarkan petang ini.

Menurutnya, beliau menerima pencalonan dan sokongan untuk bertanding jawatan ketua Wanita Mac depan.

Shahrizat merupakan naib ketua Wanita dan penasihat hal ehwal pembangunan wanita dan sosial kepada Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Beliau akan berdepan dengan Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, tokoh ketua Wanita yang paling berkhidmat selama 21 tahun, sekiranya ahli parlimen Kuala Kangsar itu tetap mahu mempertahankan jawatan tersebut.

Pengumuman Shahrizat itu menjawab teka-teki selama ini sama ada beliau akan menerima pencalonan untuk bertanding jawatan tersebut.

Ini berikutan desakan supaya Rafidah supaya mempercepatkan peralihan kuasa dari Jun kepada Mac depan.

Bagaimanapun, mesyuarat exco Wanita baru-baru ini memutuskan supaya pelan peralihan kuasa kekal pada Jun tahun depan dan tiada pertandingan bagi jawatan ketua dan naib ketua.

Bagaimanapun seorang lagi calon yang layak bertanding jawatan naib ketua, Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim bertegas akan tetap bertanding jawatan tersebut.

Kamilia mendapat 55 pencalonan dan layak bertanding jawatan naib ketua.

Ekoran itu, timbul desas-desus yang mengatakan Shahrizat tiada pilihan kecuali bertanding menentang Rafidah bagi jawatan ketua Wanita.

Dalam kenyataan dua perenggan itu, Shahrizat menegaskan bahawa Wanita Umno mesti bersatu dalam mengukuhkan parti serta berani membawa perubahan dan pembaharuan.

Dengan itu, Kamilia dijangka menang tanpa bertanding bagi jawatan naib ketua.

Selepas 191 bahagian selesai mesyuarat awal bulan ini, Shahrizat memperolehi cukup pencalonan untuk bertanding jawatan ketua.

Penyandang jawatan tersebut Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz memperolehi 117 pencalonan, manakala Shahrizat mendapat 73 pencalonan.

Malah, sebahagian bahagian yang mencalonkan Rafidah pun kini beralih sokongan kepada Shahrizat.

Menurut exco pergerakan itu, Raja Ropiah Raja Abdullah, lebih 100 bahagian menyokong Shahrizat bertanding jawatan ketua Wanita Umno Mac ini.

Katanya, sekurang-kurangnya lima negeri memberi sokongan penuh kepada Shahrizat untuk mencabar penyandang Rafidah.

Razak Baginda: Najib not involved - Malaysiakini

Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda said today that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had never met the Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was brutally murdered two years ago, according to a report by Malaysiakini

Speaking to the media for the first time since his acquittal from the case on Oct 31, Abdul Razak said that neither Najib nor his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, had met Altantuya.

"I know that Najib and his wife had never met the deceased Altantuya," Abdul Razak told a packed press conference at a hotel here and pleaded for the media and the public to stop spreading "lies about Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife."

So much 'fitnah' (lies) have been thrown towards the DPM and his wife. he said.

"Those who have spread such lies can never produce any authentic evidence because there are none."

Here's the rest of the report:

He also said that Altantuya was never involved in any arms deal as was mentioned by various quarters for the reason of her killing.

The former Najib aide said that the arms deal took place in 2002, and he met Altantuya two years after that.

He added that he could do nothing about the public perception on the matter, urging everyone to stop linking Najib and Rosmah to the murder.

Abdul Razak also said that Najib would make a good prime minister.

The political analyst was originally charged with abetting with two elite police officers to murder Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu in November 2006.

Surprise acquittal

He was however acquitted without having to enter defence on Oct 31. The other two will have their defence heard next year when the trial continues.

Abdul Razak's acquittal came as a shock to many observers as the prosecution had claimed to have a strong case against him.

Claims of alleged political interference in the case grew stronger when the prosecution did not appeal against the acquittal.

In his 50-minute long press conference held at Hotel Maya in Kuala Lumpur this morning, Abdul Razak blamed bloggers and opinion makers in creating a negative impression on the case.

He also said that he planned to finish his doctoral degree in international relations at Oxford University.

The press conference was also attended by his father and brother.

Both his wife and daughter were not there.Abdul Razak is a known confidante of Najib, having worked on government arms procurement projects while the latter was defence minister.

He was to have held a press conference on Nov 6 but it was cancelled at the last minute.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The fight for Wanita Chief post is on…

The latest I read is that Datuk Shahrizat Jalil, the Wanita deputy Umno chief, will challenge incumbent Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz for the Wanita Chief post in the party election in March.

Highly placed sources said that Shahrizat is expected to make the announcement tomorrow, according to Malaysiakini .

Shahrizat has been under pressure from her supporters to go for the number one post since she has bagged 73 nominations, which makes her eligible to contest and challenge Rafidah, who has 117.

Since the transition plan was revealed on Aug 4, Rafidah has been criticised by Wanita grass root members for her unwillingness to let go of her post which she has held since 1984 - with the exception of three years when she lost to Datuk Dr Siti Zaharah Sulaiman.

Under the plan, the top two posts aren’t to be contested and Rafidah will only step down in June 2009 when she will pass over the movement leadership to Shahrizat. This means that Shahrizat will be acting Wanita chief for three years until the next party election is held.

Shahrizat initially agreed to the plan but on Sunday Nov 9 she asked Rafidah to reconsider bringing it forward to March because of “development” in the movement.

The Wanita exco held a meeting on Monday during which it rejected Shahrizat’s proposal and endorsed the original plan.

However, exco member Kuala Kangsar Wanita chief Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim sprang a surprise the very next day by announcing that she’d challenge Shahrizat. Kamilia, who has 55 nominations for the post of Wanita deputy chief, by the way, didn't attend the Monday exco meeting to show her objection against the transition plan.

The challenge mounted by Kamilia is the reason, many believe, why Shahrizat is now going against her earlier pledge of not contesting the number one post. She is left with no choice - sudah tersepit - but to go for it. Damn she does and damn she doesn’t.

Another reason is the increase in support she is getting from divisions who seem to have a change of heart. Ten out of the 13 Penang divisions have rejected the transition plan yesterday. And shifting loyalties point to a Shahrizat win. (read here , here , here and here).

Jainab Ahmad, the information chief for Sabah Wanita wing, has asked Rafidah yesterday to reconsider her transition plan, according to Bernama.

And Perak Deputy Wanita Chief , Datuk Rusnah Kassim, was quoted as saying that the movement "hope to have a leader in March not an acting chief.”

Watching the drama unfolding, the top two Umno leaders have declared they are not going to interfere in the decision of the women’s wing,

Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, the Umno President, however, has expressed his concern and intends to meet the wing's leaders when he returns.

And what has Rafidah, who is holidaying in Hong Kong, to say about this latest development?

She will comment on the matter upon her return.

All the best to Shahrizat & Rafidah.

Related articles:
Aziz Hassan's entry A Plan Goes Awry -- And A Politician Refuses To Let Go
Nuraina's Heated And Hot In Wanita Umno (Part 2)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Ronnie Liu charged, claims trial - Malaysiakini

Selangor Exco member Ronnie Liu was today charged at the Petaling Jaya magistrate's court under Section 109 and Section 186 of the Penal Code with abetment in obstructing a Subang Jaya Municipal Council enforcement officer from closing down a hotel on Nov 2 last year, Malaysiakini reports.

He pleaded not guilty.

PJ magistrate Mohamad Ibrahim Mohammad Ghulam granted Liu, a DAP central committee member, bail of RM3,000 in one surety and set Feb 10 for mention.

Liu, 49, a Pandamaran state assembly person and also the Local Government, Study and Research Committee chairman, was arrested at the state secretariat building in Shah Alam last Wednesday and released on RM2,000 bail on the same day.

On Thursday, he filed a notice of motion at the Shah Alam High Court to set aside the warrant of arrest issued and served on him.

A lesson or two on what is money politics by Dr Khir Toyo…

There is a vast difference between what is political money and money politics, according to the former Selangor Menteri Besar.

Before anyone accuses him of being involved in political bribery which he, of course, denied, please gather your facts and please do not confuse these two terms - wang politik and politik wang.

Mohd Khir, who is vying for the post of Umno youth chief and who has bagged the second highest number of nominations, says that people should learn to differentiate between “political money” (wang politik) and “money politics” (money politics)

In politics, we need to spend money for various expenses, especially for logistics."

According to him, in the United States, political parties will ask for political donations from companies and individuals to finance their campaign activities.

This is not bribery," he said.

"Bribery is when you give in cash or in kind, like promises of datukships or positions, in return for support.”

Dr Khir said this in an interview with the Star in response to allegation that he is involved in money politics – the contender who is said to have spent the most during the divisional meetings.

“That’s total rubbish,” he said.

“When I was mentri besar, I received only my salary and nothing else.

The Selangor state government dealings during my time were always transparent. I do not believe in money politics or other types of political bribery.

Please do not insult the delegates’ intelligence. They vote based on ability and leadership qualities, and not because of money.” Read the rest of the interview here.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Anwar's sodomy trial faces further delay - Malaysiakini

Malaysiakini reports:

Court hearing for Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy trial has been put off after the prosecution applied for a stay of proceeding pending an appeal for the case to be transferred to High Court.

The Sessions Court this morning was to have fixed a date for the trial to be heard before Sessions judge SM Komathy Suppiah.

Last Friday, Komathy had
dismissed an application by the prosecution to have the case transferred to the High Court.Her ruling was based on her finding that the
transfer order signed by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail was invalid.

"This case raises a unique situation where it is evident that any involvement by the AG in this case would seriously undermine public confidence in the administration of criminal justice," she had said.

However, the prosecution had
filed an appeal against the decision on Nov 11.

The appeal will be heard at the High Court on Nov 20 and 21.

Anwar was charged three months ago with sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 23.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in jail. He is currently out on a RM20,000 personal bond.

Anwar objects stay application

This morning the prosecution applied to Komathy not to fix a date pending their appeal against her decision.

"Under Section 35 (2) of the Courts of Judicature Act, allows for a stay of proceedings at the lower court if a revision is filed in the upper courts.

The stay would allow for the notes of proceedings to be handed to the upper courts.

"Hence, it would not be proper to set a hearing date at this juncture as the matter would be heard at the High Court for revision on Nov 20," lead prosecutor Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden said. To continue read
here .

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Nazri: I made a mistake, it is true the judges were sacked – Malaysiakini

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz, admitted today that the six former Supreme Court judges, embroiled in the 1988 judicial crisis, were indeed sacked.

He also explained that his remark in the Dewan Rakyat regarding the 'retirement' was based on the pensions the six judges had received over the last 20 years, according to a report by Malaysiakini .

He revealed that it was the former Yang dipeartuan Agong who had requested the government to pay pension to the six sacked judges.

"It is true, they were sacked, " he said.

"I regret my statement has caused some misrepresentations. I did not mean to do as I did not know the contents of the letter," he explained.

King wanted pension for sacked judges
Rahmah Ghazali Nov 13, 08 2:01pm

Former Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Iskandar Ismail had requested the government to pay pension to the six sacked judges who were embroiled in the 1988 judiciary crisis, Parliament was told.

Revealing this today, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz said the king had expressed his wish in a letter about 20 years ago to the then chief secretary to the government.

Nazri said he discovered this letter after a thorough investigation and conceded his mistake in claiming earlier that the six judges were not sacked but forced to retire.

He also explained that his remark in the Dewan Rakyat regarding the 'retirement' was based on the pensions the six judges had received over the last 20 years.

"This (letter from the King) is the thing that I did not know. But I want to say that I regret my statement based on the fact they received pensions," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

Normally, he said, government service pensions will not be given if the civil ervants were sacked.

"That is why, I said, 'maybe, maybe they were not sacked because they received pensions'... but it is true, they were sacked.

"I regret my statement has caused some misrepresentations. I did not mean to do as I did not know the contents of the letter," he explained.

The minister added that he would also explain the matter in the House.

'Parliament asked, so we revealed

'The six judges, including former Lord President Salleh Abas, recently received RM10.5 million in ex-gratia payment from the government.

Salleh received RM5 million while former Supreme Court judges, the late Wan Suleiman Pawanteh (RM2 million), George Seah (RM2 million), Azmi Kamaruddin, the late Eusoffe Abdoolcadeer and Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh (RM500,000).

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

But Kamilia wants to go for Wanita No 2 post...

So where does this leave the incumbent deputy chief, Datuk Shahrizat Jalil (picture right)? What options does she have now that she is being challenged by the Kuala Kangsar Wanita chief? Will Shahrizat defend her post or will she go for broke and try to unseat her boss, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz?

According to the Malay Mail Shahrizat may still go for the movement’s top post.

In an exclusive interview with the paper, Shahrizat was quoted as saying she would wait for Kamilia Ibrahim's next move and seek the views of the grassroots before making up her mind.

It is rather strange coming from her right after the Wanita exco yesterday met and called for the two top posts to be left uncontested and decided that the leadership transition between Rafidah and her deputy in June stays as planned, rejecting the latter’s proposal to bring forward the transition to March.

And now that Kamilia (picture left) has announced her decision to contest the deputy chief post, will Shahrizat heed the call of her supporters and be brave enough to go for it - the number one post? (read here)

What if Shahrizat insists in defending her post and is defeated by her challenger? If she loses, Shahrizat will be left with nothing - and come June next year Rafidah will step down and hand over the leadership to Kamilia, assuming that she wins, of course.

Interestingy enough, Kamilia’s division nominated Rafidah - who is also MP of Kuala Kangsar - and her for the two top posts in the movement. However, Shahrizat maintained her lead with 114 nominations and Kamilia, 55 nominations.

The Star has the story below

Wednesday November 12, 2008

Kamilia to go for Wanita Umno No. 2 post

KUALA LUMPUR: Wanita Umno executive committee member Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim will contest for the wing’s number two post in the March party elections.

She said she would go up against Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil if she had to. Kamilia said she did not recognise the Wanita Umno’s leadership transition plan between Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and her deputy Shahrizat, set for June.

She said there were no provisions in Umno’s constitution for leadership transitions.

Kamilia, who has not attended the last two exco meetings including the one on Monday, said her absence was a clear message that she did not agree with the plan.

The Kuala Kangsar Wanita Umno head added that it was not up to the exco to decide who should lead.

On Monday, the exco had called for no contests for the Wanita chief and deputy chief’s posts in the interest of unity and strengthening the wing.

The meeting also rejected Shahrizat’s proposal to speed up the transition to March when the party polls would be held.

Kamilia has qualified to contest after garnering 55 nominations from 191 Wanita divisions. The minimum needed to qualify is 39.

Asked whether Rafidah and Shahrizat knew of her stand, Kamilia said: “I feel both of them know.

“I do not see the need for negotiations as I have made up my mind.”

In Kota Kinabalu, a senior Sabah Wanita Umno leader called for the movement’s leadership transition to be conducted simultaneously with the March handing-over between the party president and his deputy.

Kalabakan chief Datuk Hamisah Samat Hamisah, who is also Tanjung Batu assemblyman, said that if Shahrizat took over as Wanita Umno chief in March, it could be endorsed by the general assembly.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Shahrizat will not challenge Rafidah

Datuk Sharizat Jalil, the deputy Wanita chief, will not challenge incumbent Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz in the coming party election in March, allowing the latter to retain her post until June when she hands over her leadership as planned.

The decision was reached after the Wanita Umno executive council held a six-hour meeting yesterday.

Rafidah, had on Aug 4, revealed the transition plan saying that she will stand for election this year and step down and hand over her post to Shahrizat in mid-2009.

She also asked members to support her decision not to have any contest for the top two posts. Sharizat accepted Rafidah's decision.

But on Sunday Shahrizat had said in a press statement that she wanted the leadership transition plan between her and Rafidah to be brought forward to March in line with the transition of power between Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. In other words, she’d like Rafidah to step down earlier than planned.

Many members had asked her to declare her stand on the transition plan she said. She has received 73 nominations for the post of Wanita Umno chief, making her eligible to contest for the movement’s top slot. The number of nominations she has picked is also an indication that Wanita members wanted her to lead.

At the press conference after the meeting, Shahrizat explained that as a lawyer she was just putting down her thoughts into words and taking into consideration the views of the grassroots.

Here's Malaysiakini's report

Shahrizat will not challenge Rafidah

Nov 10, 08 8:11pm

Wanita Umno deputy leader Shahrizat Abdul Jalil will not challenge incumbent Rafidah Aziz in the party polls next March to allow the latter to retain the post without a fight.

And as planned, Rafidah will hand over power to Shahrizat in June, thus enabling the younger woman to act as the acting head of the movement.

These were the decisions made by the members of the Wanita Umno executive council in a six-hour meeting held today.

Their decisions were unanimous, although executive council member Kamilia Ibrahim - who has secured enough nominations to contest the post held by Shahrizat now - did not attend today's meeting.

It is still uncertain how Kamilia can throw the spanner in the decisions reached by the women's wing today.

As it stands, Shahrizat has enough nominations to stand in the election for the top post but she has decided to bide her time and wait for the June handover by Rafidah.

"I will take the initiative to negotiate with Kamilia together with Rafidah. I believe a wise decision can be reached," she told reporters.

To ensure solidarity

Rafidah also told reporters that she had the backing of the executive council to pursue with her transition plan.

"We had an in-depth discussion on the nominations. The executive council have agreed with the transition plan which was decided earlier and it will take place in June 2009."

Shahrizat who was present at the press conference, said she accepted the executive council's decision.

"I still respect the transition plan announced by Rafidah in August and today when we met, I personally asked her: Do you agree that about the transition plan, we open it for discussion?

"They have asked for it for the sake of Wanita Umno solidarity and to strengthen it; so we are maintaining the status quo until June," she said.

"I listen to the grassroots, I thanked them. I listen to what the executive council wants but most of all, I believe in the Rafidah's leadership.

"So, I say okay. This is for the good of the nation, for the party. Then I accept it," she said.

The dark horse Kamilia

The consensus reached by the executive council today was indeed a surprise as it was reported only yesterday that Shahrizat was going to ask Rafidah to bring forward her transition plan, preferably to March to coincide with the party polls.

Shahrizat's position is quite shaky with the present set up as she could face a tough battle - and lose - to Kamilia, leaving her with nothing.

If that happens, Rafidah would then be forced to hand over the leadership as planned to her deputy in June.

Many Wanita members also feel that the June transition plan would put a lot of pressure on the incoming chief - be it Shahrizat or Kamilia - as that person would have to prepare for the next general election on her own, without the aide of a deputy.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Umno issues show cause letter to Zaid - Malaysiakini

Former de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim (picture right) today said that he had been issued with a show cause letter by Umno, asking him to explain his open letter on the Internal Security Act to the prime minister, according to the news portal Malaysia kini. Read the report below:

"The letter also wanted me to explain my participation in an ISA event organised by the Pakatan Rakyat in Parliament," he told reporters today.

He said that he received the show cause letter sometime last week. He added that his lawyer, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, would be responding to the matter soon.

Zaid left the cabinet after objecting the use of ISA against member of parliament Teresa Kok, blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin and Sin Chew journalist Tan Hoon Cheng in September.

Last week he also resigned from his post as a senator.

On Sept 29, he wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, urging him to repeal the ISA.

He was embroiled in another controversy last week for questioning the status of Malays in a speech. This prompted several Umno leaders to urge the party to take action against Zaid.

Umno Polls: Muhyiddin looks set to face a tough challenge...

It’s not going to be a walkover for International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He will be facing Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam and Umno Information chief Muhammad Muhd Taib for the second most powerful post in the party election in March - making the contest a three-way battle.

Ali Rustam, who is also Umno vice-president has secured enough nominations to contest for the post in the party polls. His 39th nomination - the minimum required - came from the Pasir Putih Umno division in Kelantan on Saturday.

Muhammad Taib, the last among the three contenders to be eligible to contest for the post succeeded in getting more than the required numbers on Sunday, the last day of the party’s divisional meetings, with nominations from Kelana Jaya and Hulu Terengganu divisions. He now has 43, three less than Ali Rustam's 46 nominations.

The former Selangor Menteri Besar, said to be fiercely loyal to current party President Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, was forced to step down from his post in 1997 after being charged in Australia for holding currency worth RM3.8 million. He was found not guilty and appointed a senator in 2006 by Abdullah.

Muhyiddin, the former Mentri Besar of Johore and frontrunner for the post, has already bagged 90 nominations. He qualified to contest four weeks ago.

But Umno president-elect Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who won the party's top post uncontested last week, has not publicly declared his preference for the party No 2 spot, and this has turned the contest wide open.

In fact, his division of Pekan abstained from nominating candidates for the party Supreme Council posts, including the deputy presidency, to avoid influencing the delegates in the party election.

Datuk Seri Abdullah had also recently pointed out that there was nothing wrong with any contest for No 2, which many read as tacit support for Ali Rustam.

The race is particularly significant because the Umno deputy president is traditionally appointed Deputy Prime Minister, and will be considered a potential future Prime Minister.

The post was last contested in 1987 party elections – between the then incumbent Tun Musa Hitam and the lateTun Ghaffar Baba.

Police disperse Bersih rally, arrest 24 - Malaysiakini

Police dispersed a crowd of about 300 people gathered at a field opposite the Amcorp Mall here on Sunday night to mark the first anniversary of the Bersih rally, arresting 24 people as well.

The rally was to commemorate the march last November that called for a free and fair general election.

Among those arrested were PJ Utara Member of Parliament Tony Pua,Kampung Tunku state assemblyman Lau Weng San, MBPJ counsellor Tiew Fei Chin and a videographer from the Malaysiakini news portal.

Police disperse crowd, 24 arrested

By Malaysiakini Team

Riot police today dispersed about 300 people who had gathered at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre.

The police moved into the crowd just as they were singing the national anthem and getting ready to leave.

The crowd had walked over to the PJ Civic Centre shortly after 9.30pm after they had been originally dispersed from the Padang Timur, about a kilometre away, where they had gathered to take part in a candlelight vigil.

Just as the crowd started re-gathering at the Civic Centre, a team of anti-riot squad and a water cannon truck arrived.

Shortly afterwards the police started dispersing the crowd using their shields.

In the ensuing melee, police arrested PJ Utara member of parliament and DAP leader Tony Pua, Kampung Tunku state representative Lau Weng San and 22 others. Also arrested was Malaysiakini videographer Shukri Mohamad.

"I was shooting the water cannon truck when a policeman told me to stop that. He ordered me to hand over the camera and tape. I turned and walked away when I was arrested," Shukri said when contacted.

Eyewitnesses said that Pua was taken into a waiting Black Maria.

The police were also seen chasing the crowd into an Indian restaurant located opposite the Civic Centre. Those arrested have been taken to the Petaling Jaya police station.

A small group of people have gathered outside in support of those arrested under the watchful eyes of a team of police anti-riot squad.

Candlelight vigil called off

Earlier, at about 9.35pm, a candlelight vigil organised by polls reform group Bersih was hampered by police insistence on the gathered crowd to disperse.

The vigil was to have started at 9.30pm at Padang Timur opposite Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya.

However, the police had started blocking the roads leading to the venue as early as 7pm. And as the scheduled 9.30pm approached, the police urged the gathered crowd in the field to disperse.

The crowd had then moved into the nearby Amcorp mall.

Among those in the crowd were recently court-released ISA detainee Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu and DAP leaders Lau Weng San and Pua.

At about 9.30pm, the organisers told the crowd to disperse to avoid any trouble with the police. Some of those in the crowd then decided to hold a mini-procession from the field to the PJ Civic Centre, about a kilometre away.

Roads blocked

Eyewitnesses told Malaysiakini that roads leading to the PJ field have earlier been blocked by the police from about 7pm.

Some have complained that the roadblocks had stopped them from going to a wellknown fast-food outlet in the vicinity.

Many had to park their vehicles in PJ new town - some two-kilometres away -to walk to the field to take part in the vigil. At about 8pm, eye-witnesses said that about 100 people had gathered at the venue.

The police meanwhile had began asking the crowd to leave the place. By 8.30pm - with only an hour away from the planned vigil - the police managed to turn away most of the people from the field.

The crowd, which had by then grew to about 200, moved closer to the Amcorp mall, waiting for the organisers to start the vigil.

No water cannons

At the same time, about 20 federal reserve unit personnel took position just outside the shopping mall. The planned candlelight vigil scheduled at 9.30 did not take place.

Tonight's vigil was to have featured speakers from both civil society groups and political parties.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bersih commemorates 2007 rally with candlelight vigil - Malaysiakini

Nov 9, 08 7:46pm

Polls reform movement Bersih will be holding a candlelight vigil tonight at 9pm in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

The venue for the vigil - held in commemoration of the Nov 10 rally which attracted about 50,000 people last year - is the MBPJ stadium opposite Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya.

Tonight's vigil will feature speakers from both civil society groups and political parties.

Bersih - in full the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections - calls for electoral reform as well as for the abolition of the ISA in a push for a democratic and free Malaysia.

A similar rally will also be held in Ipoh tonight to commemorate the first anniversary of the Bersih rally In Kuala Lumpur last year. Continue here

Friday, 7 November 2008

Sodomy trial: Anwar wins first round - Malaysiakini

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has won the first round of a legal battle against a transfer of his sodomy trial to the High Court, after a sessions court judge ruled that the lower court had the right to hear the defence's objections to the transfer. Malaysiakini has the story:

Nov 7, 08 3:42pm

The Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court today ruled in favour of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and decided that his sodomy trial would be heard in the same court.

Delivering the ruling this afternoon, judge SM Komathy Suppiah had ruled that the transfer order signed by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail was invalid.The court fixed next Friday for ention.

The decision will pave the way for the sodomy trial to begin - three months after Anwar claimed trial after being charged with sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 23.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in jail. He is currently out on a RM20,000 personal bond.

AG's role disputed

In previous arguments on the case transfer, Anwar had objected to the application because the transfer certificate was signed by Abdul Gani.

The defence team's objection was on the basis that the AG should not have played any role in this case as he is being investigated for allegedly having tampered with evidence in Anwar's trials 10 years ago.

The defence has also argued that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had given an assurance that Abdul Gani would not be involved in the case

Court orders Raja Petra's release - Malaysiakini

THE Shah Alam High Court today released Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) after allowing his application for a writ of habeas corpus. Malaysiakini has the (updated) report below.

The Shah Alam High Court this morning ruled that the detention of well-known blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (picture right) under the ISA was illegal and ordered his immediate release.

Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad said that Raja Petra's detention was unconstitutional.

He said that the Home Minister had not followed the proper procedure under Section 8 of the ISA to issue the detention order against Raja Petra.

The judge also ordered that Raja Petra, editor of the popular 'Malaysia Today' website, be produced in court by 4pm today after which he should be immediately released.

Raja Petra is presently being held at the Kamunting detention centre in Perak.

"Now is about 10.30am, and I think there is enough time for Raja Petra to be released. I do not want this matter to be prolonged as the weekend starts tomorrow," said the judge.

"I thank the prosecution for their cooperation in handling this case and require your assistance to ensure that the order would be carried out," he added.

Senior Federal Counsel Abdul Wahab Mohammad said he would make the necessary arrangements by 4pm.

The release comes more than a month after Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar signed the ISA detention order on Sept 23, although Raja Petra was initially arrested under the Act on Sept 12 from his house in Sungai Buloh.

Reasons for the detention

Raja Petra, 58, named the Home Minister as the defendant in the habeas corpus application, which sought among others for his immediate release and an order that his detention under the ISA was unlawful.

The minister had stated three reasons for Raja Petra's detention:

* that he owns and operates the Malaysia Today website;

* publishing his articles and readers' comments intentionally and recklessly which were critical and insulted Muslims, affecting the purity of the religion and the personality of Prophet Muhammad; and

* publishing articles deemed defamatory or false concerning Malaysia's leaders, with the intention of undermining public confidence and inciting hatred against the government. The articles are alleged to be a threat to national security.

The said articles in questions were 'Malays, the Enemy of Islam', 'Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell', 'I promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim' and 'Not all Arabs are descendents of the Prophet'.

Raja Petra was represented was also represented by counsel Azhar zizan Harun, J Chandra and Ashok Kumar.

Raja Petra's wife Marina Lee Abdullah was also present to listen to the judgment which was delivered before a packed court room.

Marina was in tears and hugged her daughter when hearing the judge rdering the release.Raja Petra's supporters who were wearing black, yellow, green and orange t-shirts with the message 'No ISA' and 'Free RPK' clapped when the decision was made.

A procedural non-compliance

Syed Ahmad Helmy in his judgment said the court looked into two factors, namely the constitutionality of the ct and whether the home minister acted correctly within his jurisdiction to issue the order.

He said under Section 8(b) of the ISA indicated that those issued with he detention order by the minister may not be allowed for judicial review, however, the court could hear such an application if there were instances of possible abuse of powers.

"I agree the formulation of the ISA was to protect the security of the ation and is constitutional. However, the court could review the detention order if it found instances where the minister could have acted beyond his jurisdiction to issue the two-years' detention order."

Syed Ahmad Helmy said there was no relevance for the minister to issue the order on Raja Petra on the basis of mala fide.

"Following this, the court finds there is a procedural non-compliance as stated under Section 8(1) of the ISA based on the minister's ffidavit.

"Hence the court finds the minister had acted ultra vires (beyond the owers) in issuing the detention order under the ISA section. For example, the minister cannot issue an order if a person had in bad faith decided to colour his hair red."

"Following this, the court is allowing the plaintiff's application and order for his release," the judge said.

Raja Petra's lawyer Malik had during submissions before today's decision said the court had the jurisdiction to scrutinise the detention order if it was made in bad faith.

"This is not a situation like Jemaah Islamiyah or communists. This is just a man whom the government thinks can bring it down to its knees," the counsel said during submission.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Razak Baginda cancels press conference

Recently acquitted Abdul Razak Baginda (picture left) cancelled a press conference scheduled at a hotel here on Thursday, according to a Malaysiakini report. (Read here)

A group of local and international reporters had turned up at the hotel in anticipation of Razak breaking his silence .

The press conference was supposed to be his first following his acquittal on Oct 31 of abetment in the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Several media organisations had received information on Wednesday night that the press conference had been cancelled but reporters and photographers still turned up at the hotel Thursday morning in case he changed his mind.

The journalists left when told by a senior manager of the hotel that the press conference had been cancelled.

Abdul Razak was however present at his home in Damansara, but he left the house with his family when several reporters arrived there without speaking to them.

His daughter, Rowena, issued a statement later, apologising for the cancellation.

"We apologise profusely for any inconvenience and confusion in this matter. As you can imagine there is much readjustment that my father has to do. "

Abdullah hopes Obama's election will bring positive changes to the world – The Sun

(Nov 5, 2008) : Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hopes Senator Barack Obama's election as president of the United States will bring positive changes to the world.

In congratulating Obama for being the first African-American to win the White House race, Abdullah said:

"His victory is expected to bring changes in the affairs of the US, I hope the Obama presidency will also bring positive changes to the world.

"I hope president-elect Obama will give immediate attention to address the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and in particular Palestine. I hope there will also be positive changes to the situation concerning Iran," he told a press conference at Parliament.

On ties with the United States, Abdullah said he looks forward to a new era of friendlier relations between Malaysia and US. Continue here.

And here’s what our leaders say. All of them see Obama’s victory as reflecting an important change in the American mindset.

Leaders elated over Obama's election –Malaysiakini

Foreign Affairs Minister Rais Yatim: "Malaysia... hopes Obama's government will be more sensitive to the sovereignty of smaller nations and will not use force in resolving global conflicts," he said in a statement.

Malaysia welcomes him as the new light in the struggle for democracy.

As America's first black president his victory has shown that Americans can accept a leader regardless of colour, religion or beliefs."

"Obama's victory is seen as bringing change and hope to the world."

Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general:
Obama’s rise to arguably the most powerful position in the world augurs well for global politics, said Lim.

He described the landslide win as a symbol of transformation of the American mindset.

“The Americans have voted in a president based on character and the principles of rule of law, equality, human rights, justice and democracy, rather than colour of skin,” he said.

Anwar Ibrahim: Obama's decisive victory signals a new chapter in the history of America, said the Opposition leader.

"His call for unity and his promise to forge a new direction in the relationship between the US and the rest of the world is welcomed by Malaysians.

"The support that president-elect Obama draws from across racial, religious and generational lines parallels the sentiments felt by Malaysians from all walks of life who earlier this year cast votes in vehement opposition to the failed policies of an incumbent regime," he said in a statement.

Anwar added that nations which have been at odds with the US may now find opportunities to cooperate on issues of foreign policy, sustainable development and the environment.

"His administration also brings renewed prospects for engagement between the United States and Muslim countries.

"Some of the most contentious issues of our time, including the ongoing conflicts and confrontations in the Middle East, require a commitment to diplomacy, a willingness to engage in a meaningful dialogue and a departure from the aggressive unilateralism witnessed in recent years.

"In this we anticipate that president-elect Obama will show leadership where previous administrations have failed." - Excerpts from Malaysia kini .

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Obama triumphs, will be first black US president

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama (picture left) was elected the nation's first black president Tuesday night in a historic triumph that overcame racial barriers as old as America itself.

The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, the Democratic senator from Illinois sealed his victory by defeating Republican Sen. John McCain in a string of wins in hard-fought battleground states — Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Iowa.

A huge crowd in Grant Park in Chicago erupted in jubilation at the news of Obama's victory. Some wept. Full AP report here .

BBC News - Obama wins historic US election

Monday, 3 November 2008

Gerakan's Vijayaratnam found dead - Malaysiakini

Malaysiakini reported that Gerakan vice-president Dr S Vijayaratnam (picture left) was found dead outside his clinic in Seremban this morning. He was 58.

His body was discovered around 11.30am outside the three-storey building which he owned known as 'Vijay Mahal' located along Jalan Tengku Hassan.

He leaves behind widow Anucia Tharumaratnam and two sons.

Below is the report from Malaysiakini
The police are investigating the matter and Gerakan's top leaders are currently at the Seremban Hospital where the remains had been taken.

In a statement later, Gerakan said Vijayaratnam had suffered a heart attack and party sources dismissed rumours that foul play was involved.

"Vijayaratnam passed away this morning due to heart attack. This is a sad news to Gerakan, the Barisan Nasional and to the country," read the statement.

"He was a leader of principle respected by many and a role model for the young people inside and outside of Gerakan. May God bless his family and give them strength."

Meanwhile, Gerakan president Dr Koh Tsu Koon expressed shock and sadness over Vijayaratnam's sudden demise.

"We lost a committed comrade and close friend," he said in a statement.

Describing Vijayaratnam as a dedicated and loyal leader of Gerakan, Koh said:

"We pay tribute to a true Malaysian. Vijayaratnam frequently contributed articles to the media to articulate the party's ideology and stand on various issues of national concern.

"Vijayaratnam, whose father is a former DAP leader and a one-term parliamentarian for Seremban Barat, joined Gerakan in 1980.

Vijayaratnam was appointed senator in 2002 and served for two years, from 2006 to 2008, as parliament secretary of the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry.

Highest ranking non-Chinese in Gerakan

Vijayaratnam - who was a general practitioner based in Seremban - was the highest ranking non-Chinese leader in Gerakan.

In the party polls last month, he retained his vice-president post by coming in second. The highest vote-getter was former Youth chief Mah Siew Keong (1,153 votes), followed by Vijayaratnam (678) and former Penang Youth chief Huan Cheng Guan (568).

Highly-fancied Malay candidate Dr Asharuddin Ahmad (537) failed to make the cut.

Party observers said that Vijayaratnam was able to win the post twice because he was known as the president's manVijayaratnam was chairman of party's International Affairs & Ethnic Relations Bureau and head of Gerakan branch in Sungai Ujong, Negri Sembilan.

He was also a member of the National Economic Consultative Council, a fellow of the Royal Society of Health in London, and an honorary fellow of the Indian College of General Practitioners in New Delhi, India.
Picture: Courtesy of the Star

Najib Wins Umno Presidency Unopposed…

... as expected when he received his 134th nomination from the Batu Kawan division in Penang Sunday, clearing the way for him to be appointed prime minister next March.

By passing the 133 mark, Datuk Najib, who is deputy Prime Minister and deputy Umno President, has denied former Finance Minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, the only other candidate who has offered to go for the party presidency, from securing the required number of nominations.

A candidate needs 58 nominations from among the 191 divisions to contest the party presidency. Two-thirds of the party divisions have already met and there are about 40 which have yet to hold their respective meetngs.

As at 8pm, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, has garnered a total of 138 nominations.

Tengku Razaleigh, who is Gua Musang MP, has so far obtained only one nomination on Saturday. The sole nomination came from the Gua Musang (Kelantan) division which he heads. (read related article here)

International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin still leads in nominations for the deputy president post with 78.

Melaka Mentri Besar Datuk Ali Rustam, one of the three contenders for the post, has 32 nominations so far and needs another seven more to qualify for the contest.

The third candidate, Umno Information chief Muhammad Muhd Taib, has 28 nominations. Like Ali, he needs 39 nominations to qualify.

For the vice president posts, Tan Sri Isa Samad, needs one more nomination to join five other candidates who have qualified to contest.

Other candidates who have qualified are Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein with 105 nominations, Datuk Zahid Hamidi, 78, Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, 60, Datuk Shafie Apdal, 55 and Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, 24.

Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo is now ahead of Khairy Jamaluddin in the contest for Umno Youth chief.

The former Selangor Menteri Besar has so far obtained 56 nominations while Khairy, the son-in-law of Premier Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi and the current deputy youth chief, has 51.

Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir still leads with 71 nominations.

The Umno divisional meetings will conclude next week.

Read Malaysiakini here and the Star here .

Click the above table for an enlarged view.
Read a voice's entry Najib: "tried and tested " new Umno President here

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Umno AGM to be held from March 24-28...

...this was decided by the Supreme Council, said party president Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after its meeting at the Putra World Trade Centre on Friday.

The party elections will also be held during that time ending speculations that it might be brought forward to December this year, as was originally scheduled.

Speaking to reporters after a three-hour council meeting, Abdullah said: "The decision has been made long ago.”

On the handover of power to Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who continues to take the lead for Umno president post with a total of 78 nominations as of last week end and unlikely to be challenged - Abdullah said it would take place after the party polls.

“You have got to give it a few days to sort things out." He said.

He also said that among the topics discussed at the were those involving campaigning, lobbying and money politics in the impending polls.

Abdullah, who is also prime minister, revealed that agents, campaign managers nd vote canvassers have been found staying in hotels around Kuala Lumpur.

“We have sent out observers to spot them. I am warning them to go home or stern actions will be taken against them.”

He also warned candidates against using “either directly or indirectly” overnment machineries for campaign purposes and not to spread lies through short messaging service (SMS). – extracts from Malaysiakini. For full report. go here and The Star report, here.