Saturday 31 January 2009

...No defections in Perak too says MB - Malaysiakini

Perak Menteri Besar Mohamad Nizar has brushed off rumours that two Pakatan Rakyat state executive councillors are planning to quit the loose coalition and become independent members of the state assembly.

The two names mentioned are Behrang assemblyperson Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Changkat Jering assemblyperson Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu – who were accused of graft last year.

A meeting of top state Pakatan Rakyat leaders at the Menteri Besar's official residence yesterday morning added fuel to the speculations although party leaders said it was a routine monthly meeting between the parties.

At a press conference at the state secretariat building later in the afternoon, the Menteri Besar dismissed the rumours and denied that the state government had 'lost contact' with the duo, adding that they had taken advantage of the festival break for a holiday.

He also quashed talk that the Perak Pakatan Rakyat state government was on the verge of collapse.

Rumours have been making the round that the duo are planning to quit as PKR members and become independent members of the state assembly.

Malaysiakini had quoted the Chinese daily - China Press - which mentioned them as the possible 'defectors'.

Neither assemblyperson had denied the news report.

Following Bota assemblymen Nasarudin Hashim’s defection from Umno to PKR last Sunday, both Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional had boasted that there were impending defections to their camps.

Pakatan now holds 32 seats in the state assembly, as opposed to Barisan's 27.

Even if Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman were to join Barisan, Pakatan will still hold a one-seat majority.

MB: No defections in Negeri Sembilan - Malaysiakini

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has refuted claims that there will be defections involving Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen in Negeri Sembilan, according to Malaysiakini(B..Malaysia version) quoting Bernama.

"If it is true, give us the names... why should the Perak DAP be concerned about it? Why not just look after Perak?" he said, when met by reporters at his office today.

He was asked to comment on claims by the Perak DAP which was frontpaged in the China Press that three or four state assemblymen would be defecting to Pakatan Rakyat. Mohamad said BN assemblymen were loyal and committed to the party.

MB nafi wakil rakyat NS keluar BN

Menteri besar Negeri Sembilan menafikan desas-desus beberapa Anggota Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) Barisan Nasional akan menyertai pembangkang.

"Kalau ada dakwaan, suruh dia bagi nama. Yang DAP Perak risau sangat pasal apa, jagalah negeri Perak itu," Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan dipetik berkata

Beliau diminta mengenai dakwaan DAP Perak yang tersiar dalam laporan mukadepan akhbar China Press yang menyebut tiga atau empat wakil rakyat negeri akanmenyertai Pakatan Rakyat.

Menurut Bernama, Mohamad berkata wakil rakyat BN bawah pimpinannya mempunyai integriti dan jati diri yang kuat serta sayangkan parti.

"Saya tidak nampak mereka ini senang dipujuk dan mudah melompat keluar dari Umno walaupun ada antara mereka telah tewas dalam pemilihan peringkatbahagian masing-masing.

"Semangat mereka kepada parti masih kuat," katanya.

Meanwhile, Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has expressed support to the proposal to introduce the Anti-Hop Law to ensure political stability in the country.

"It's needs to be looked into again. It is not that we fear more will leave the Barisan Nasional (BN) but what is important is the question of principle," he said.

"Personally, I do agree to that a re-look be made at the earlier provisions of the Federal constitution.

"But, of course, it's entirely up to BN leaders to see the rationale in amending the constitution (to enable the enaction of the proposed Anti-Hop Law) and find out what the people think about it," he said.

Muhyiddin, who is International Trade and Industry Minister was speaking to reporters after attending a Chinese New Year open house at the residence of his deputy and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president Datuk VK Liew, in Kota Kinabalu. (Read the Bernama report
here )

Friday 30 January 2009

AirAsia Labu's airport is as good as off

The proposed new airport in Labu by AirAsia Berhad is as good as off. The decision was conveyed to AirAsia executives when they met the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, this afternoon.

According to an NST report, a source said the Government felt that AirAsia would not be able to raise the funds to develop the new airport.

Instead, Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad will build a new terminal near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport where they will work closely with AirAsia.

"AirAsia’s inputs in the building of the new terminal will also be taken into consideration,” the source said.

The Cabinet is expected to formalize the decision in the next few weeks.

The project was put in doubt after Najib, who is also Finance Minister, told reporters last week that while the cabinet had given the green light to AirAsia's airport, the government had "yet to make any decision" on the matter.

Earlier, AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes briefed Datuk Seri Najib and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat on the proposed new airport to cater to low-cost carrier.

Fernandes presented a detailed report on KLIA-East and plans to make Kuala Lumpur the regional hub for low-cost carriers.

Representatives of the Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad, Transport Ministry, Finance Ministry and Economic Planning Unit also attended the one-hour briefing.

In an immeidate reaction, Fernandes said: We were happy with the meeting. This is a big step for the development of AirAsia."

Read Sime Darby Watch

PM: Nasarudin is weak

Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi has expressed his disappointment over Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim's decision to defect to PKR, describing him as being “weak.”

He said that Datuk Nasarudin Hashim has put his self-interest above that of Umno’s struggles.

The star has the sory here:

Friday January 30, 2009
PM: Nasarudin is weak

IPOH: Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim has put his self-interest above that of Umno’s struggles, party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

Expressing his disappointment over Nasarudin’s decision to defect to PKR, Abdullah described the assemblyman as being “weak.”

“If you are strong, you will face up to all challenges that come your way,” he told reporters in Ayer Kuning, about 50km from here, after launching the Rural Action Plan yesterday.

“As a party member or leader, you are bound to face problems and have to make sacrifices. But if you are willing to continue with the party’s struggles, you will enjoy the fruits of your labour later.”

Speaking of his own experience, the Prime Minister said he had faced problems when he was left with no positions in the party before.

“But I did not turn it into an issue and sulk and leave the party. I did not leave the party when I was facing problems as all my struggles were for the party,” he said.

“If I were to resign, I would not be here today (at the event),” he said.

On Perak Umno liaison committee chief Datuk Seri Mohammad Tajol Rosli Ghazali’s decision to step down as Perak Umno chief, Abdullah said the Pengkalan Hulu assemblyman made the decision as he wanted to assume responsibility for Nasarudin’s defection.

“He (Tajol) is a man with heavy responsibilities. He felt that Nasarudin’s action should not have taken place,” he added.

Kugan's case: Police involved to be charged next week - Malaysiakini

The police personnel involved in the death of 22-year-old detainee Kugan Ananthan are expected to be charged next week.

Quoting a source, Malaysiakini reported that at least nine rank-and-file personnel from the Subang Jaya police district CID department are expected to be charged in court.

However, it is learnt that the officers - aged between late 20s and early 50s - could be slapped with a lesser charge instead of murder (Section 302 of the Penal Code), which carries the death penalty.

One possibility is for them to be charged with either 'causing hurt' (Section 330) or 'causing grievous hurt' (Section 331) to extort confession. If found guilty, the police officers could face a maximum jail term of seven years (for causing hurt) or 10 years (for causing grievous hurt).

The case was initially classified as sudden death but following the emergence of a video clip which depicted severe lacerations on the body of the deceased, attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail last Friday reclassified the case as murder.

Eleven police officers were subsequently reassigned to desk duty pending investigations.

On Wednesday, the AG sent back the investigation papers from the police and ordered them to conduct a more thorough probe.

According to a report in the New Straits Times, Abdul Gani was unsatisfied with the results of the investigation.

He had also demanded to see the results of the second post-mortem conducted at the University Malaya Medical Centre (UUMC) on Sunday.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Najib: Scrapping Umno wings too drastic

Umno has no plans to abolish its Putera and Puteri wings as suggested by the party’s disciplinary board, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, according to the Star.

“The suggestion is too drastic a measure and would create a huge impact on future leadership,” he said at the launch of the Peugeot 308 here on Thursday.

It would also deprive Umno of the opportunity to build up leaders from within, he said.

The structure for the wings has existed since the beginning and they play an important role, he added.

Najib was responding to Umno disciplinary board chairman Tan Sri Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen who suggested Umno revamp by abolishing the three main party wings (including Youth and Wanita) and Putera Umno to ensure that corruption within the party was totally eradicated.

If the party is serious in addressing this scourge, he said, Umno should restructure its organisation by abolishing the wings.

“If the problem is with money politics, then it would be better for us to strengthen enforcement and our value system,” Najib said.

Meanwhile, Putera Umno chief Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim said that Putera is not a wing but a bureau under Umno Youth.

“Putera is still relevant to Umno and should not be abolished as it would only weaken the party,” he said.

“It is an avenue for the younger generation and abolishing it would only alienate them,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said Putera would abide by whatever decision the Umno supreme council makes over the issue.

Kugan's funeral - Malaysiakini

Some 500 people took part in funeral procession behind a golden Mercedes Benz on Wednesday, ferrying the remains of Kugan Ananthan, 22, who died in police custody last week, reports Malaysiakini .

At about 2pm, the procession left the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) in Petaling Jaya en route to a Hindu cemetery in Puchong, some 20km away.

The crowd walked with the hearse for a short distance before getting into their vehicles and driving in a convoy.

Accompanied by scores of media representatives, including foreign journalists, the procession arrived at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya - via the LDP highway - some 80 minutes later.

Some 20 Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel kept a close watch while a police helicopter circled above. However, no untoward incidents were reported at the Taipan police station.

During the funeral procession, another nine FRU vehicles were spotted parked at Dewan Sebarangan Puchong in Batu 14.

The procession reached the cemetery at Kampung Batu 14 in Puchong more than two hours later and Kugan's remains were eventually buried at about 5.30pm.

Earlier the morning, the police had closed all roads leading to UMMC ahead of the funeral procession.

Six people were also arrested, three for wearing a T-shirt of the banned movement Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) and the other two for trying to breach a police barricade to enter the mortuary.

Among those arrested was Hindraf coordinator RS Thanenthiran.

Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan later said that the sixth person arrested was a murder suspect.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Police to submit paper on Kugan's death on Wednesday - Malaysiakini

Police will submit the investigation papers on the death of lockup detainee A.Kugan (pic. left) to the Attorney-General’s Chambers on Wednesday.

Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said the papers would be ready by Tuesday after several more witnesses were interviewed.

(Source: Malaysiakini)

Probe paper on Kugan's death almost completed
Jan 26, 09 8:09pm

The investigation papers on the death of lock-up detainee Kugan Ananthan will be completed tomorrow and submitted to the Attorney-General's Chambers on Wednesday.

Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the police will need to interview several more witnesses, which could be done by tomorrow.

"Yesterday we have taken statements from 11 police officers who were on duty at the time of Kugan's death.

"We have also called in several witnesses who were there when Kugan was arrested and during his death.

"The witnesses' accounts are crucial to our investigations," he said today, as reported by Bernama.

Khalid also said that the investigations were carried out in a professional and fair manner by a special team from Bukit Aman.

He added that the police had also taken statements from individuals who saw police arrested Kugan on Jan 15.

At the same time, Khalid also urged the public not to speculate on the second post-mortem carried out on Kugan's body yesterday.

"The post-mortem was carried out independently," he said.

Kugan, who was arrested on suspicion of being involved in luxury car theft in Sungai Chua, Kajang, died while in detention at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya on Jan 20. - Malaysiakini.

Monday 26 January 2009

And Perak MB tells Najib: Don't be too sure - Malaysiakini

Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin (pic right) today refuted a claim by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak that no other BN state representative will be joining the Pakatan Rakyat, reports Malaysiakini quoting Bernama.

Instead the PAS leader said that three more Barisan Nasional assemblymen were expected to join Pakatan.

He added that discussions with the three assemblymen were ongoing and Pakatan was working at bringing them into its fold.

Here's the rest of the report:

"We did not invite them to join us but they came to see us. We are holding discussions."

After Nasaruddin(Hashim [pic left with Anwar on the right]) announced his joining us yesterday, the three others came to see us and said they wanted to talk," he told reporters in Ipoh, reported Bernama.

Mohammad Nizar did not identify the three assemblypersons, only adding that the trio were disappointed with Umno.

"But it is only one of the reasons, as they were supposed to contest for the divisional chief posts (in the Umno divisional elections last October) but were ordered not to, while some lost in the elections.

"It was Umno's internal problem. Nasaruddin said his joining (PKR) was due to disappointment, internally," he said.

However, he said, the chances of Pakatan getting the BN assemblypersons to join the opposition pact was 50-50.

"They need time to consider as Nasaruddin took three weeks to decide," he added.

Bota assemblyperson Nasaruddin joined PKR yesterday after considering the interests of voters and his supporters in the state constituency.

With that, the Pakatan Rakyat-led Perak government now has 32 seats while BN has 27 (26 held by Umno and one by MCA).

Earlier today Najib rubbished all talks of more BN state representatives in Perak joining the Pakatan alliance.

He said that such talks were only rumours.

Have no effect on state BN

Meanwhile Perak BN chief and former MB Tajol Rosli Ghazali said Nasaruddin's decision to leave Umno does not affect the status of BN.

Tajol, also the state's Umno head, said Nasaruddin's move only brought change to the number of seats in the state legislative assembly.

He expressed confidence that the Perak BN was capable of wresting back the state from Pakatan in the next general election.

"We have three years to do so and the BN has put in motion all measures especially to get the votes of the youth."

BN was left behind in the 12th general election in the third and fourth streams...we will strive to get youth votes in those streams," he said.

Related article in The Star: Crossover leaves BN leaders in shock
Picture (courtesy of The Star): Nasarudin speaking to the press as Anwar listens at PKR’s office in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Najib: No more defections to Pakatan - Malaysiakini

The Deputy Prime Minister made the pronouncement following the decision by Umno's Bota state representative to join Pakatan yesterday. – Malaysiakini

Bota assemblyperson Nasaruddin Hashim left Umno yesterday to join Pakatan in Perak, prompting speculation that others might also follow suit.

"These are all rumours... I don't think so," said Najib.

According to a Bernama report, Najib described Nasaruddin's action as unexpected.

The incoming Umno president said that he hoped Nasaruddin could think carefully his decision to join PKR, a Pakatan Rakyat component member.

He added that he was made to understand that Nasaruddin's action was due to several factors.

He, however, did not elaborate.

Najib was talking to reporters after attending the MCA's Chinese New Year open house in Kuala Lumpur here today.

Later, at the Gerakan open house, Najib said Nasaruddin's decision took many by surprise.

"We heard about this two days ago but it is still a shock," he said.

Najib said Umno and BN elected representatives should understand that the party had done a lot of good deeds to the people and the country.

"It is not right to abandon the party because of personal problems or dissatisfactions at a time when the party needs our support," he said.

With Nasaruddin's defection, the Perak Pakatan Rakyat government now has 32 seats compared to BN's 27.In the March 8 general election,

Nasaruddin, who polled 6,556 votes, defeated PKR candidate Capt (Rtd) Usaili Alias with a 2,068-vote majority. - Malaysiakini

Al Fatiha: Arena Wati (1925-2009)

National laureate Muhammad Dahlan Abdul Baing, better known as Arena Wati, died at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) in Cheras at 1.40am Sunday, from lung cancer. He was 84.

Pak Arena Wati was laid to rest at 3pm yesterday at the Bukit Kiara Muslim cemetery, according to Bernama.

Allahyarham had been treated at HUKM since Sept 20. His wife Halimah Sulong and two of his children, Ratna Siti Akbari and Hasanuddin, were at his bedside when he breathed his last.

He also leaves four other children, Rahmah Wati, Hirianty, Ilhamuddin and Kamaluddin Rostor.

Arena Wati, was born on July 30, 1925 in Kalumpang Kabupatan, Jeneponto, Makasar, Indonesia and went to a Dutch school in Makasar before it was closed when the war broke out.

He had used other pen names such as Duta Muda and Patria. He won several awards like the SEA Write Award (1985) and made a national laureate (1988) forhis works.

Arena Wati had also entered the journalistic world in 1954 and was once an editor at Pustaka Antara.

Among his many works were Eno (1985), Syair Pangeran Syarif (1989), Syair Pangeran Syarif Hasyim Al-Qudsi (1989), Syair Perang Cina Di Monterado (1989, Burung Badai (1990), Turina (1991) and Citra (1991).

The others include Memoir Arena Wati Enda Gulingku (1991), Ombak Samudera(1992), Meniti Kala (1993), Panrita (1993), Sudara (1994), Mevrouw Toga (1995, Begawan (1996, Koleksi Terpilih Arena Wati (1996, Sukma Angin (1999,Getar-Getir Maya Kumpulan Cerpen (2000, Trilogi Busa (2002).

He also wrote Armageddon (2004), Kutukan Dari Langit (2004), Langkah Pertama Kumpulan Cerpen Awal 1954-1959 (2004, 7 Tegak Bersama (2005), Warna Sukma Usia Muda (2005) and Cakra Waruga (2006).

Most of his writings revolve around the struggles of people from the lower stratum of society and the championing of the lot of the disadvantaged or oppressed. - Bernama

Happy Chinese New Year!

Kong Hee Fatt Chai!

Happy Chinese New Year to all my Chinese friends. May the year of the bull bring happiness and prosperity to all


Sunday 25 January 2009

Perak: Umno state rep defects to PKR -Malaysiakini

Malaysiakini reported today that Bota assemblyperson Nasarudin Hashim (pic left) has quit Umno to join PKR, resulting in Pakatan Rakyat now controlling 32 state seats in Perak.

Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin when contacted by Bernama said that Nasaruddin made an announcement that he was joining PKR at the party’s headquarters in Petaling Jaya.

With this development, the BN seats have been reduced to 27, (Umno 26 and MCA 1).Nasaruddin, 58, is also a former chairperson of the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra).

Meanwhile, Nasaruddin in a press statement posted on PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim's website, said he took the decision after considering the interests of his constituents.

In the general election held in March last year, Nasaruddin defeated PKR candidate Capt (Rtd) Usaili Alias by a majority of 2,068 votes.

There had been talk that Nasaruddin might quit Umno after he lost in the contest for the division head post of Parit Umno, two months ago. He had been the deputy head of the division prior to the contest.

In a related development, Anwar said Nasaruddin’s decision is critical and reflected the sentiments of his voters, namely the Malays in his constituency.

He said this reflected the demand of the public and saw it "as the beginning of a new wave," when quizzed over the significance of the move.

Saturday 24 January 2009

Detainee's death: 11 policemen removed - Malaysiakini

Malaysiakini quoting an NST report said that Police have removed 11 constables and lance corporals from the Subang Taipan police station where the case of A Kugan, a detainee, who died in their custody, was reclassified as murder yesterday with immediate effect.

According to the report, Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the policemen were currently at the contingent headquarters in Petaling Jaya on desk duty.

Khalid said that they have been at the contingent headquarters to speed up the investigation and police expect to complete the investigations within three days.

“Police are still recording and compiling statements. Once the investigations are completed, we will decide on the next course of action," he said.

Yesterday, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail classified the death of the 22-year-old police detainee as murder and it was learnt that investigations were already underway.

In Kuching yesterday, Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan said an in-depth investigation would be carried out.

He said this was despite the initial post-mortem which indicated that Kugan had died of pulmonary edema or fluid accumulation in the lungs.

Musa, however, condemned the actions of a mob which forced its way into the Serdang Hospital mortuary on Tuesday night, evicted the hospital staff and locked themselves in for two ours.

They were believed to have taken pictures of Kugan's body, which they claimed had bruises all over.

"The mob incident shouldn't have happened in the first place.

"The group should not have obstructed the medical team from performing their duties that night," said Musa after chairing the 1st Tripartite meeting between the police chiefs of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei yesterday.

Deputy ministers to cooperate

Police have also contacted the two deputy ministers, T Murugiah and SK Devamany, both with in Prime Minister's Department, to have their statements recorded.Both were said to have been present during the mortuary incident.

In Kuala Lumpur, Devamany, while saying he would co-operate with the police, added: "The reclassification of the case as murder is good. I don't regret going there (mortuary). The rakyat needed us (Murugiah and him)."

After all, as an MIC central working committee member and as a deputy minister, this is my serve the rakyat and to serve the Indian community when they needed help.

"If there is no foul play, then no one should be afraid. Let the law prevail. For now, I can see that with the murder charges, justice has prevailed," he said.

Police have also identified most of the 50 people in the mob at the mortuary.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission welcomed Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail's instruction to the police to investigate Kugan's.

Its chairman, Abu Talib Othman, said probing the death was the "right thing to do".

"Let the police gather evidence so that the attorney-general can act without fear or favour and for the next course of action to be taken," he said.

Bar: Don't focus on mortuary incident

The Bar Council, meanwhile, hoped the authorities' attention would not be focused on the incident at the mortuary while investigating Kugan's death.

Its president, S Ambiga, said the people's reaction only reflected their feelings of outrage over the death."We trust that undue attention will not be given to the incident at the mortuary.

It reflected the reactions of persons who were understandably outraged and emotional about Kugan's sudden and unexplained death.

"This view prevails because none of the perpetrators of similar acts in the past have been brought to book," she said.

Ambiga addded that this incident once again prompts the setting up of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission.

"We also call on the authorities to expedite the ongoing inquests into other custodial deaths," she said. - Malaysiakini

Bernama report: MIC Wants Independent Probe Into Kugan's Death
Sakmongkol Ak47's entry The Murder of an Unknown Indian is NOT less important

Kugan's Death Classified As Murder

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has classified the death of 22-year-old car theft suspect Kugan Ananthan as murder and has instructed the police to carry out thorough investigations.

Kugan, who was arrested on Jan 15 on suspicion of being involved in the theft of luxury cars, died - five days later - at 11am on Tuesday while in police custody.

According to Bernama, the family claimed that there were injuries on Kugan's body (pictures here ) despite the autopsy report stating that the death was due to fluid accumulation in the lungs.

In KUCHING, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said police would carry out in-depth investigations into the case. Bernama has the story here .

Friday 23 January 2009

Najib: No Decision Yet On New LCCT In Labu - Malaysiakini

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that the government has yet to decide on a new airport in Labu, located less than 10km away from the KL International Airport's (KLIA) and to be exclusively used by budget carrier AirAsia, according to Malaysiakini.

The deputy Prime Minister said that the government was studying the Labu LCCT proposal to see "if we can go ahead or we need to make a different arrangement.

"We are looking at it but have yet to make any decision. I cannot pre-empt the decision by making an announcement," he said today.

If the government gives the green light for the project, the new LCCT is expected to be ready by March 2011.

His announcement today was in contrast to a disclosure by Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat on Dec 21 that the government has approved the RM1.6 billion airport.

Ong had said then that the new airport - to be called KLIA East @ Labu - would be jointly built by AirAsia and conglomerate Sime Darby on a 2,800-hectare site in Labu under a private finance initiative.

Since then however there had been a public outcry over the necessity of four airports serving Kuala Lumpur with many critics saying AirAsia should just make use of the present LCCT in Sepang as it will soon be expanded and incorporated with the KLIA, with possibility of a new runway added.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini, AirAsia chief executive office Tony Fernandes said that the new airport was necessary for the survival of his budget carrier.

The AirAsia boss will also be meeting with Najib next Friday to press his case for the new airport.

And judging by Najib's announcement today, Fernandes must be at his best in putting forward his case before the incoming premier. Excerpts from Malaysiakini

Thursday 22 January 2009

Obama Inaugural speech: A promise of serious change or was it rhetorics of the same?

Barack Obama has been officially sworn in as the 44th president of the United States in front of a crowd of millions in Washington DC, the US capital.

In his Inauguration speech he promises "mutual respect" to the Muslim world and all other nations who “seek a future of peace and dignity”.

Does his speech reflect promises of a serious change or was it nothing more but rhetorics of the same of his predecessor?

The friendly message to Muslims, "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect", simply did not address the pictures of the Gaza bloodbath at which the world has been staring in outrage, writes Independent journalist Robert Fisk .

“ would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about.”

Robert Fisk: So far, Obama's missed the point on Gaza...

Thursday, 22 January 2009

It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn't the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to "slaughtered innocents", but these were not quite the "slaughtered innocents" the Arabs had in mind.

There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he's the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the "full partnership" Obama has apparently offered him, whatever "full" means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.

But for the people of the Middle East, the absence of the word "Gaza" – indeed, the word "Israel" as well – was the dark shadow over Obama's inaugural address. Didn't he care? Was he frightened? Did Obama's young speech-writer not realise that talking about black rights – why a black man's
father might not have been served in a restaurant 60 years ago – would concentrate Arab minds on the fate of a people who gained the vote only three years ago but were then punished because they voted for the wrong people? It wasn't a question of the elephant in the china shop. It was the sheer amount of corpses heaped up on the floor of the china shop.

Sure, it's easy to be cynical. Arab rhetoric has something in common with Obama's clichés: "hard work and honesty, courage and fair play ... loyalty and patriotism". But however much distance the new President put between himself and the vicious regime he was replacing, 9/11 still hung like a cloud over New York. We had to remember "the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke". Indeed, for Arabs, the "our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred" was pure Bush; the one reference to "terror", the old Bush and Israeli fear word, was a worrying sign that the new White House still hasn't got the message. Hence we had Obama, apparently talking about Islamist groups such as the Taliban who were "slaughtering innocents" but who "cannot outlast us". As for those in the speech who are corrupt and who "silence dissent", presumably intended to be the Iranian government, most Arabs would associate this habit with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (who also, of course, received a phone call from Obama yesterday), King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and a host of other autocrats and head-choppers who are supposed to be America's friends in the Middle East.

Hanan Ashrawi got it right. The changes in the Middle East – justice for the Palestinians, security for the Palestinians as well as for the Israelis, an end to the illegal building of settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, an end to all violence, not just the Arab variety – had to be "immediate" she said, at once. But if the gentle George Mitchell's appointment was meant to answer this demand, the inaugural speech, a real "B-minus" in the Middle East, did not.

The friendly message to Muslims, "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect", simply did not address the pictures of the Gaza bloodbath at which the world has been staring in outrage. Yes, the Arabs and many other Muslim nations, and, of course, most of the world, can rejoice that the awful Bush has gone. So, too, Guantanamo. But will Bush's torturers and Rumsfeld's torturers be punished? Or quietly promoted to a job where they don't have to use water and cloths, and listen to men screaming? Continue here ...

Monday 19 January 2009

Umno should stop looking for scapegoats for its defeat...

...and address the roots of its problems. Until then it will not succeed in removing the perception of arrogance and elitism that hangs over it, says NST writer Zubaidah Abu Bakar on the BN's loss of the Kuala Terengganu Parliamentary seat to PAS.

BN candidate Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, handpicked by outgoing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, was defeated in what has been described as a crucial parliamentary by-election, by PAS's Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut.

The wrong choice of candidate, it seems, has been cited as one of the reasons for BN's loss. Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid was perceived as being less friendly, due to his serious demeanour. Concerned about this perception of its candidate, the BN machinery was said "to scramble " to dismiss such notion and explained to voters that his natural look should be used as the main consideration when they cast their votes. And while Wan Ahmad Farid was seen as unfriendly and even "arrogant", Pas believes its choice of candidate had worked to its advantage.

ZUBAIDAH ABU BAKAR: Not the time for witch-hunt but to delve into party woes

THE more questions asked, the clearer it is that the personality of the candidate could not have been the only reason for Barisan Nasional's defeat in Kuala Terengganu.

It would thus not be fair for Umno members to point fingers at Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh. It would equally be off the mark to lay the election loss at the feet of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, with whom Wan Farid has been closely associated. Will the media also be a target of the blame game?

Before Umno members go witch-hunting, they should do a muhasabah diri (self-examination) of the roles played by those involved in the by-election.

Was the election machinery well oiled, yet lagging in strategic planning, implementation and sophistication compared with the opposition's? Pakatan Rakyat has attributed the victory of Pas candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut, who is Wakaf Mempelam assemblyman, to its highly organised machinery and teamwork. Was there a lack of commitment on the part of Umno campaigners to prevail despite the party leadership having declared Kuala Terengganu a must-win seat?

Deputy Prime Minister and Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said many factors had contributed to the BN's failure to retain the seat it had won in the March 2008 general election with a 628-vote margin.

The answers to the questions could shed light on the actual reasons for the defeat on Saturday and pave the way for solutions to address the weaknesses. Wan Farid lost to Wahid Endut of Pas by 2,631 votes while independent candidate Azharudin Mamat @ Adam polled 193 votes.Tens of thousands of Umno members were in the Terengganu state capital but many, including party leaders, were mere political tourists.

There were campaigners who toiled and sweated, but they were outnumbered two to one by those who went binge shopping on Terengganu songket and batik, and spent hours at hotel coffee houses discussing the impending Umno elections.Large groups also spent their time trailing Abdullah, Najib and other party leaders when their opponents were out in the field bringing in votes.

An estimated 10,000 BN members were in Kuala Terengganu on nomination day but more than half were gone the next day. It appeared that the big Umno crowd, with their luxury cars congesting the roads, only came together when party leaders were in town. These are not the sort of people to put up posters or distribute flyers or to stop at warung or gerai to have tea with the locals.

In the opposition camp, university professors, doctors, lawyers and other professionals joined forces with party workers to display posters and hand out election pamphlets. Most of the party workers were young and manned their operation centres round-the-clock.

On the BN side, very few centres remained open after midnight. Members of the press and those who came to observe the by-election were baffled when Umno members packed Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah stadium to watch a performance (read here) of songs and dances organised by the Information Department.

Isn't the last 24 hours of campaigning crucial?

Umno should stop looking for scapegoats and address the roots of its problems. Until it does, it will not succeed in removing the perception of arrogance and elitism that hangs over it. The NST

Related article:
Pasqual's BN would have had better chances if the candidate was not Wan Farid
Nobisha's Rakyat Nak Monsoon Drain, Umno beri Monsoon Cup!
Lawyer Kampung's The blame game

Saturday 17 January 2009

PAS wins KT by 2,631 votes - Malaysiakini

PAS has won the Kuala Terengganu by-election with a majority of 2,631.

The result was announced by the Election Commission's returning officer at 9.29pm, according to Malaysiakini.

"The win shows that Pakatan Rakyat is aviable coalition. This win is not just for PAS but for Pakatan Rakyat," said PAS vice-president Ahmad Awang.

PAS candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut, obtained 32,883 votes compared to Barisan Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, who got 30,252 votes. The Independent candidate, Azhazudin Mamat, received 193. There were 665 spoilt votes.

The by-election was held following the death of Kuala Terengganu member of Parliament Datuk Razali Ismail on Nov 28.

In the 12th general election in March last year, Razali defeated Mohamad Sabu of PAS and an Independent candidate, Maimun Yusuf, with a 628-vote majority.

With this victory the Opposition now has 82 seats in Parliament. Barisan now has 137 and the remaining three seats are held by Independents.

At press conference tonight, deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak rejected the suggestion that the defeat in Kuala Terengganu meant that the voters had spurned Barisan Nasional or that it had reflected badly on his leadership.

"We accept this defeat, this decision of the people. In a democratic system, the people's voice is supreme," he said.

"I am confident that in the end the people will be confident of BN," he added.

Also present were the BN candidate Wan Ahmad Farid Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Said and Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

Live coverage of polling day in KT by Malaysiakini


9.20pm: The EC is expected to announce official results at any time now. Only PAS candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut is present. No BN leaders are seen at the main tally centre at the Kuala Terengganu state stadium.

9.10pm: According EC official tally: PAS (32,393 votes), BN (29,969), Independent (191) with two more boxes to be tallied.

9.05pm: PAS leaders on the other hand, led by party president Abdul Hadi Awang, are heading towards the counting centre at Stadium Negeri to wait for the official announcement

9.04pm: Terengganu MB's official residence is still bereft of any top BN/Umno leaders. DPM Najib was supposed to be here at 8pm. The whereabouts of both and BN candidate Wan Ahmad Farid is unknown. At the residence, MB Ahmad Said is huddled with about 20 of his supporters.

8.55pm: Latest count - BN has reduced PAS' lead to 1,751 votes - PAS (28,249), BN (26,498), Independent (160). With another 9,000 votes to be counted, it is very unlikely for BN to stop PAS.

Thousands of PAS supporters have gathered outside the main tally centre at the Kuala Terengganu state stadium.

Meanwhile, the official Election Commission tally has PAS leading by 543 votes - PAS (24,004), BN (21,461), Independent (136). This is based on 100 polling boxes while 44 boxes yet to tallied.

8.45pm: According PAS leaders, the party has won Kuala Terengganu by a majority of 1,600 votes. It is learnt that PAS has won in all four state constituencies. In the last general election, the party won three of the four state constituencies.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is to call a press conference soon.

8.35pm: Unofficial - PAS now leads by 2,132 votes with 52,466 votes counted so far - PAS (26,971), BN (24,839), Independent (152). Another 20 percent of votes, or about 10,000 votes, yet to be counted.
PAS is certain to win the crucial Kuala Terengganu by-election with this unassailable lead.

8.20pm: BN sources say the party is ready to admit defeat.

Meanwhile, the EC official board at the main tally centre is now showing PAS leading - PAS (18,532 votes), BN (18,364), Independent (119). This tally is based on 85 boxes while 59 yet to be tallied.

8.16pm: With 48,842 votes counted, PAS has extended its lead over BN by 2,224 votes. PAs garnered 24,604 votes while BN has 22,380. Independent is way back with 142. There are about 15,000 votes left to be counted

8.13pm: Unofficial PAS has won the Bandar state seat by 190-vote majority. This is the only state seat the party lost in the March general election. About 80 percent of the Chinese voters in the Kuala Terengganu constitutency are from Bandar.

8.08pm: Latest unofficial count: PAS increased lead to 2,026 votes. PAS (23,640 votes), BN (21,614), Independent (136). About 30 percent of votes yet to be tallied.Meanwhile, the Election Commission's unofficial tally has BN still leading - BN (15,385 votes), PAS (15,189), Independent (92). This tally is from 70 boxes while another 74 have yet to be tallied.

7.55pm: EC's unofficial tally put's BN in the lead with 11,120 votes. PAS has 10,802 votes while Independent has 69. This tally is from 50 boxes received, with 94 boxes yet to come in.

7.48pm: PAS is now leading by 1,554 votes. Its candidate has garnered 22,030 votes as opposed to BN's 20,476. Independent candidate has bagged 134 votes so far.

7.42pm: PAS has now obtained 19,487 votes, leading by a 1,007-vote majory over BN which has gained 18,480. Independent has 117 votes. PAS is also leading in all four state constituencies.

7.40pm: PAS has extended its lead to 1,078 votes. Latest count from sources - PAS (18,934 votes), BN (17,907), Independent (113).The official Election Commission tally board has BN in the lead with less than 10,000 votes being counted - BN (4,676 votes), PAS (3,966), Independent (26).

7.26pm: It is learnt that Deputy Prime Minister Najib has asked all BN leaders, including the BN candidate, to assemble at Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Said's official residence at 8pm.

7.25pm: PAS is leading by 778 votes. PAS (16,795 votes), BN (16,795), Independent (107). PAS is slightly ahead in all four state constitutencies.

7.15pm: PAS has increased its lead to 530 votes. PAS (16,237 votes), BN (15,707), Independent (89). Another 50 percent of votes yet to be tallied.

Latest count: BN, PAS at neck-and-neck

7.06pm: EC's unofficial voter turnout is 79.73 percent (63,967 voters).

7.05pm: PAS is now leading by 158 votes - PAS (14,802 votes), BN (14,644). According to inside sources, PAS is leading in all areas except the Ladang state constituency. There are hundreds of PAS supporters outside the state stadium where the main tally centre is located. Few Umno supporters spotted.

7.04pm: Unofficial result for postal votes - BN (1.039 votes), PAS (86) and Independent (1).

6.40pm: Unofficial results - According to inside sources, of the 14,370 votes counted so far, BN is leading by 259. Another 80 percent of votes yet to be counted.

Malaysiakini is going live with the coverage of the Kuala Terengganu by-election. News are updated as they come in.

Earlier report:

Malaysiakini team Jan 17, 09 9:00am

5pm: Polling is closed at all 38 polling centres for the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

4.55pm: EC said that as at 4pm, the voter turnout stood at 76 percent. That means 60,794 of the 80,229 voters have voted so far.

4.45pm: PAS candidate's agent Wan Sukairi Wan Abdullah claimed that he received reports regarding BN trying to "sneak in phantom voters in the final hour" of the polling day."It is quite strange, because starting at 2pm today, the voters' streams are getting slower and at some parts, there were no queues at all.

"But FRU started to line up in front of school's gates. What are their motives? In the morning, when the turnout was high, there was not a single FRU personnel in sight!" he said.

Wan Sukairi said such incidents occurred at Ladang, Sekolah Menengah Bandar and Durian Burung. He however was positive on PAS winning the by-election despite a 'lower turnout' this time around.He also said PAS candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid was currently riding on his motorcycle from a polling station to another to monitor the situation.Meanwhile BN candidate's agent refused to comment when contacted.

4.30pm: Malaysiakini observation: A quick survey of polling stations between 4pm and 4.30pm indicated that PAS campaigners were outnumbering the BN people.

Many BN campaigners in these stations were seen resting and appeared unenthusiastic compared to PAS party workers.PAS has also lined-up a team of lawyers on the streets in case of a need for legal help.The voter flow also appeared to be slow in some of these stations.

4.15pm: NST reports the unofficial voter turnout stands at 72 percent. The EC will give its official figure at 6pm.

4.10pm: Independent candidate Azharuddin is nowhere in sight and could not be contacted as his mobile phone is switched off.

4.05pm: When contacted, election observers Mafrel said that many party supporters were still campaigning at the polling centres despite it being against the election laws to be campaigning today.

"It is even more disappointing when they are using minors to campaign today," said Mafrel's BK Ong.He added that the party candidates should have made public their expenses during the 11 days of campaigning, including "the use of public facilities".

3.30pm: PAS's official organ Harakah reported that Putera Umno chief Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim was ‘caught' by PAS monitoring team trying to pass himself off as an election agent.

The report said that the incident happened this morning at 10.45am at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pusat Cabang Tiga, Bandar. Abdul Azeez was reportedly using a BN agent pass belonging to one Ibrahim Omar. PAS is expected to lodge a police report on the matter soon.

However when contacted by Malaysiakini, Abdul Azeez denied being ‘caught' by anyone from PAS, stating that it was a mischevious lies. He added that he has been at the Tok Ku polling centre, also in Bandar since morning.

Tok Ku polling centre is about 600 metres away from the Cabang Tiga centre.

3.10pm: A check at several polling stations indicates an unexpected low turnout. Weather still holding.

2.30pm: NST reports: Deputy Umno Wanita leader Shahrizat Abdul Jalil is busy making her rounds to monitor the by-election along with Wanita chief Rafidah Aziz.

2.10pm: Campaigners continue their final push under the scorching afternoon sun. Our team members describe the heat as the worst over the past 10 days.

2.00pm: Turnout is reported at only 56 per cent. PAS is concerned as they feel that this may give rise to phantom voters. They did not elaborate on how this could take place.

1pm: According to RTM, 44 per cent of voters have turned out to vote.

12:43pm Worried that their ballot papers would be accidentaly spoilt after they were folded by EC officials, voters in SK Bukit Losong polling station made a report to EC and the officials were later instructed not to do so.

Earlier, Malaysian for free and fair election (Mafrel) reported that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and some BN supporters entered the polling station even though they have no right to do so. This resulted in a protest by some PAS supporters.

12 noon: As of this hour, 42 per cent of the 80,229 electorates have cast their votes, according to the EC chair. Polling closes at 5pm.

11.45am: mStar reports: Election Commission chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof says indelible ink may be used in the next general election. "We are currently doing our research to go on with the use of indelible ink", he said after paying a visit to polling station at Sekolah Menengah Tunku Bariah.

11.25am: Under the watchful eyes of dozens of police officers, the polling station in Kubang Ikan
is calm and BN/PAS pondok panas seem to attract equal numbers of voters.

11.20am: Election Commission officials says they hope for a high turnout among the 80,229 voters who are eligible to cast their ballots, according to AFP. They say that the short lines of voters at polling booths during the morning was normal and that the pace will pick up in the afternoon.

11am: Weather still holding although rain is expected in the afternoon. Most polling stations report brisk polling. No uneventful incident reported.

10.20am: Mostly women supporters from both sides seen outside the five polling stations within the Ladang state seat. These are Malay areas. Situation calm. Heavy police presence at schools. Traffic jams due to campaigning in front of schools.

10.03am: NST reports: In SK Chabang Tiga, BN party workers look worried as a majority of voters are seen stopping at the Pakatan Rakyat pondok panas before entering the polling station.

9.50am: At Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman where the Chinese voters of Kg Cina cast their votes, turnout is brisk. Many are seen quietly in queue. Outside, some 50 supporters of both camps are separated by police. Atmosphere is friendly. MCA leaders Dr Chua Soi Lek, Liow Tiong La, Wong Foon Meng are here. Also sighted are DAP's Ronnie Liew, PKR's Tian Chua and PAS' Annuar Tan.

9.27am: Bernama reports: Traffic in the city under control, with vehicles carrying party flags seen plying the streets. Police personnel station themselves in strategic locations. The Election Commission expects a 90 per cent voter turnout.

9.00am: Over at SK Pusat Chabang Tiga station, about 100 PAS and Umno supporters seen on both sides of road waving flags and placards. PAS group comprises mainly elderly women while Umno seems to be dominated by Puteri members. They exchange shouts with PAS' Allahu-akbar while Umno replies with "PAS kluk klek", "PAS bohong."

8.50am: Big groups of BN supporters armed with party flags start converging outside SK Bukit Besar. Shouts of Allahu-akbar and 'Hidup BN' heard.

8.30 am: Weather reported good throughout KT when polling started. Morning is cool although some parts are cloudy. Large groups of policemen seen outside some polling stations.

8.15am: After voting, Wan Farid told reporters outside, "God willing, voters will choose intelligently and vote for continuity through BN'

7.50am: BN's Wan Ahmad Farid arrives at the SK Bukit Besar. Together with his wife, Intan Baizura, they voted at 8.05am.

7.45am: PAS candidate Wahid Endut arrives at SK Pusat Chabang Tiga polling station. Accompanied by his wife and five of his nine children, he says he wants to be the first voter at the station. - Malaysiakini

36 Polling Centres Opened For Kuala Terengganu By-election

A total of 143 voting channels in 36 polling centres were opened from 8am today to enable 80,229 electorates to cast their votes for the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election.The Election Commission expects a 90 per cent voter turnout.

KUALA TERENGGANU, Jan 17 (Bernama) -- A total of 143 voting channels in 36 polling centres were opened from 8am today to enable 80,229 electorates to cast their votes for the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election.

The polling centres are located at the Yayasan Islam Terengganu al-Quran and Fardu Ain learning centre in Jalan Hiliran as well as in schools and multipurpose halls around the city.Voters are expected to cast their votes early to take advantage of the fair weather in the morning.The Meteorological Department had forecast that there would be rain in the afternoon.

The by-election is seeing a three-way fight between Barisan Nasional (BN)candidate Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan (pic. extreme left) Salleh, Pas' Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut ( middle) and an Independent candidate, Azharudin Mamat @ Adam (pic. right).

It is held following the death of Deputy Education Minister Datuk Razali Ismail on Nov 28.

In the 12th general election in March, Razali defeated Mohamad Sabu of Pas and an Independent candidate, Maimun Yusuf, with a 628-vote majority.

Traffic in the city was under control, with vehicles carrying party flags seen plying the streets, while police personnel were stationing themselves in strategic locations.

The Election Commission expects a 90 per cent voter turnout.-- BERNAMA

Thursday 15 January 2009

Ezam shows letter, Anwar says 'So what?' – Malaysiakini

This is about the letter, alledgedly written by Datuk Seri Anwar to the then Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, before the former was sacked as deputy Prime Minister in 1998, which was released by his former aide, Ezam Mohd Noor, at a ceramah during the current BN campaign in the Kuala Terengganu. The question is: why is Ezam, who has since rejoined Umno, producing the letter now – more than 10 years after he was asked to deliver the letter to the Tun? And how much of it is going to help the BN in the current by-election campaign? Just shows how incompetent and useless he (Ezam) was as an aide.

Here’s the report from Malaysiakini

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim is unperturbed by former confidante Ezam Mohd Noor (pic left) releasing a letter he allegedly penned to Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1998.

"So? What's the problem? Saya tak berdamai dengan siapa (Who am I not at peace with)? What is the problem? What is the problem in making peace with anyone?" asked Anwar.

Anwar said this when met by reporters after his ceramah at Kg Kubang Ikan, Kuala Terengganu, last night. At a press conference this morning, Anwar refused to elaborate on the subject.

Ezam revealed the letter last night at a ceramah in Kg Kubang Parit to a crowd of 800 people and claimed that the document was Anwar's attempt to make peace with Mahathir.Ezam said Anwar had given him instructions to hand-deliver the letter "by hook or by crook" to Mahathir on Sept 8 when the latter was holding a meeting at the Putra World Trade Centre.

However, Ezam said he was unable to meet Mahathir at the venue and handed the document to the prime minister's department instead, adding that he was unsure if the former premier had received it.

"This letter was written after he was sacked and after he had strongly criticised Mahathir. From this letter, the nation and not just people of Kuala Terengganu, can evaluate what kind of leader Anwar is," he said.

Ezam's own interpretation?

Ezam read out the entire letter which began with Anwar seeking for ‘space' to fight against a ‘conspiracy' against him and also sought Mahathir's protection for his family.

"Myself and (Dr Wan) Azizah (Wan Ismail) do not forget the love, mentoring and opportunities that you have given us. Even though our relationship is strained, I cannot forget your deeds," read the letter.

Copies of the letter were not distributed to the media.Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister on Sept 2 and the following day, he claimed that he was a victim of a political conspiracy.He began his nationwide tour on Sept 12, culminating in a mass demonstration at the national mosque on Sept 20.

Speaking to reporters later, Ezam said both prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and deputy prime minister Najib Abdul Razak were given copies of the letter.

"As far as I'm concerned, I've gotten the green light (from them) and they feel that it is a responsibility for me to explain, not just to the voters in Kuala Terengganu, but to the whole nation about the hypocritical nature of Anwar, he said.

Aman Malaysia to send doctors to Gaza...

Ten Aman Malaysia (Peace Malaysia) doctors, including a radiology specialist, have volunteered to serve in Gaza if given the go ahead.

Aman Malaysia coordinator Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said apart from providing medical support, the team would also compile a report on Israel's atrocities on civilians in the Palestinian territory.

"The report will be submitted to the United Nations," he told reporters at the launching of Petaling Jaya Umno Youth's humanitarian fund for Palestine in Petaling Jaya last night.

The donation drive which will last for two weeks was launched by the division's head Datuk Ikhwan Salim.

The total collected will be handed over to Aman Malaysia to be channeled to the war victims in Gaza. - Bernama

Al Fatiha...former journalist Samani Mohd Amin passed away

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi ro ji uun. Al fatiha untuk arwah Pak Cik Samani. Semoga rohnya dirahmati Allah SWT dan ditempatkan bersama para solihin. Amin

Former Berita Harian Assistant News Editor Dies

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 (Bernama) -- Former Berita Harian assistant news editor, Samani Mohd Amin, died of a heart attack at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang at 6.55pm Wednesday. He was 78.

He leaves behind his wife, Azizah Ahmad, 67, and four children, Marx Aidied, 50, Muschairil, 47, Mas Dati, 45 and Mas Elati, 38.

Mas Elati said her father was admitted to hospital at 11pm last night (Tuesday) after he fell in his home at Lot 3218, Kampung Batu 7, Jalan Kebun, Klang and suffered a blow to his head.

"After being taken to hospital, the doctor said he fell due to a heart attack and had a cut on his head. At the time my father was still alright until he fell very ill at 1pm," she told Bernama when contacted here.

Samani will be buried at 9am today (Thursday) at the Kampung Batu 7 Muslim Cemetery in Jalan Kebun, Klang.

Samani who received his education in Singapore was a reporter with Utusan Melayu during the newspaper's strike in the early 60s before moving to Berita Harian.

He was detained under the Internal Security Act together with the late Tan Sri Samad Ismail (read here and here ) in 1976.-- BERNAMA

Read related report in the Star here

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Aye! Put Israel on trial

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Israel has to be brought before a United Nations-santioned international war crimes tribunal for its atrocities and violence on the Palestinian people, the special Parliament session decided yesterday.

It also expressed the country’s disappointment with the international community, especially the UN Security Council, for their lack of effort in trying to halt the attacks.

The demand was part of 10 resolutions proposed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who tabled the motion to discuss the Israeli invasion of Gaza in the Dewan Rakyat

Abdullah said the resolutions would be presented to the relevant parliaments, the United States Con­gress and the European Parliament.

He said the latest military invasion of Gaza was the worst incident of attacks by the Zionist regime on Pales­tine since it was occupied in 1967, and that it had crippled a small territory which could not defend itself from successive and cruel attacks.

“Today, at least 800 people have been killed in Gaza, 3,000 are wounded and 15,000 more have be­come refugees after Israel laun­ched the attack codenamed ‘Cast Lead’ on Dec 27, 2008,” he added.

Abdullah said all Malaysians should unite and make a strong stand to the world against the inhumane actions of the Zionist regime.

“The attacks by Israel have contravened international laws and such actions are deemed war crimes in the Fourth Schedule of the Geneva Convention on protection for civilians during wartime,” he added.

Abdullah said Malaysia’s call for a special UN session to condemn Israel over its military aggression received a boost when the UN General As­­sembly agreed to hold the session to urge the Security Council to take action by declaring a cease­­fire and force Israel to withdraw from

However, he said, the Council only acted after allowing the Israel military attacks to proceed for two weeks.

“We all know that the reason for the lack of action by the Security Council was that Israel didn’t want it.

Israel has strong supporters within the Council.

Related article: Demands grow for Gaza war crimes investigation: The Guardian

Monday 12 January 2009

Rights group: Israel uses incendiary bombs in Gaza

Human Rights Watch said it was clear Israel had fired shells containing white phopshorus[GALLO/GETTY]

By JASON KEYSER, Associated Press Writer

AP) – Human Rights Watch said Sunday that Israel's military has fired artillery shells with the incendiary agent white phosphorus into Gaza and a doctor there said the chemical was suspected in the case of 10 burn victims who had skin peeling off their faces and bodies.

Researchers in Israel from the rights group witnessed hours of artillery bombardments that sent trails of burning smoke indicating white phosphorus over the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza. But they could not confirm injuries on the ground because they have been barred from entering the territory.

The chief doctor at Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza said he treated several victims there with serious burns that might have been caused by phosphorus. He said, however, that he did not have the resources or expertise to say with certainty what caused the injuries.

The substance can cause serious burns if it touches the skin and can spark fires on the ground, the rights group said in a written statement calling on Israel not to use it in crowded areas of Gaza.

Military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich refused to comment directly on whether Israel was using phosphorus, but said the army was "using its munitions in accordance with international law."

Israel used white phosphorus in its 34-day war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006. The U.S. military in Iraq used the incendiary during a November 2004 operation against insurgents in the city of Fallujah.

An AP photographer and a TV crew based in Gaza visited Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis on Sunday and recorded images of several burn patients...AP

Related artilce: Israel 'using white phosphorus'

Friday 9 January 2009

Thousands in anti-Israel protests in KL - Malaysiakini

Thousands of people gathered at the US embassy in Jalan Tun Razak to protest against the ongoing Israeli brutal 13-day attack in Gaza, Malaysiakini reports.

Eye-witnesses said that about 5,000 people started their march from the Tabung Haji building, located less than a kilometre away from the embassy, right after the Friday prayers.

The march was organised by the Coalition of Concerned NGOs - COMPLETE (read here) . The marchers - which included PAS supporters - shouted anti-USA and anti-Israel slogans.

Among the leaders that attended the rally were PAS Kuala Krai MP Dr Hattta Ramli, Youth chief and Kubang Kerian MP Salahuddin Ayub, PAS vice-presidents Mohammad Sabu and Husam Musa, PSM president and Kota Damansara assemblyperson Dr Nasir Hashim and the party’s secretary-general S Arutchelvan.

They carried Palestinian flags, anti-US and Israel banners. Most of the male protesters were seen wearing the traditional Palestinian scarves 'kaffeiyah' in a symbolic show of solidarity with the victims of the conflict.

One female protester was seen carrying a baby doll wrapped in white cloth with smudges of red paint. Nearly a 100 children and infants have since perished in the conflict. Unlike past demonstrations at the embassy, police presence this afternoon was at a minimal with only members of the Light Strike Force deployed.

The police however stopped the protesters from gathering directly outside the embassy but allowed a 15-member delegation led by Husam to submit a memorandum to the embassy officials.While the delegation met with embassy officials, protesters were seen burning, spitting and stomping on the Israeli flag.

Addressing the protesters after submitting the memorandum, Husam called the US ‘hypocritical’ and said the ‘global police’ would have reacted immediately if the victims were US citizens.

“I told them just now, if the victim was President George W Bush's daughter, the whole nation would act immediately. But since this is just ordinary Palestinian women and children, nobody cares,” he added.

The PAS leader also took a swipe at newly elected US president Barrack Obama for his ‘silence’ in this matter.

Meanwhile, about 200 people gathered at the Kampung Baru mosque to protest against the Israeli invasion, and burnt American and Israeli flags to show their anger.

This group was largely made up by Umno Youth members from the Titiwangsa division. who started their gathering after the Friday prayers and were led by an exco member from the division, Mohamed Muizz Shadik Mohamed.

And at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad addressed some 500 people in condemning the Israeli invasion into Gaza.

He repeated his calls for a boycott of American products and their currency.

"People should boycott McDonalds and Starbucks for a month," he said.

He also urged people to leave their jobs from American firms.

The Malaysian Muslim Consumer Association also launched their boycott US campaign at the gathering. - Malaysiakini

"Save Palestine" peaceful rally...

Date: Today, Friday, Jan 9
Time: 2 pm
Place: Gather behind Tabung Haji building in KL city, walk to US Embassy
Notes: Wear black, red or white if possible. No children, please.

"It's being organised by a coalition of NGOs who bonded under the name of COMPLETE, which stands for Coalition of Malaysian NGOs Against the Persecution of Palestinians.

A key member of COMPLETE, in her email said: "It is now over two weeks since the savage bombardment of the Gaza strip. Now reinforced with a full-fledged ground invasion, the Israeli forces continue their invasion of this already fragile and helpless land – one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, home to over a million people – despite international outrage and in defiance of all international humanitarian laws.

Standing in solidarity against this barbarity, COMPLETE will be holding a peaceful dmonstration and handing over of memorandum to the US Embassy on Friday (Jan 9) after Friday prayers.

Anyone who wish to rally behind the Palestinian struggle are advised to gather at 2 pm outside Tabung Haji Complex in Jln Tun Razak before proceeding with the walk to the US embassy across the road.

Attendees are advised to dress in black, white or red colours and any other Palestinian symbols (badges, scarves, t-shirts). Please bring along relevant placards/banners/posters.

The time has come for us, as citizens of the world, as brothers and sisters in the human family, as conscientious individuals, to link hands across the divides of race, religion, and nationality, and to stand together against the tide of injustice and speak on behalf of the voiceless. It is our duty, our sacred responsibility, not only to humanity, but to ourselves. Say - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" - save palestine now

Read Rocky'sbru Walk for Gaza at US Embassy here
Also Save Palestine Now here

Three Simple Proposals ...

Gaza Seen From Paris


There are surely millions of us, invisible to each other, enraged and powerless as we watch the massacre of Gaza and listen to our media describe it as a "retaliation against terrorism", "Israel’s right to defend itself".

We have reached a point where answering the Zionist arguments is both useless and unworthy of humanity. So long as it is recognized that the shells landing on Ashkelon are likely to have been fired by descendants of the inhabitants of that region who were driven out by the Zionists in 1948, talk of peace is a smoke screen for continued Israeli assault on the survivors of that great injustice.

What then is to be done? Yet another dialogue between "moderate" Arabs and progressive" Israelis? An umpteenth "peace plan" to be ignored? A solemn declaration from the European Union?

All such mainstream gestures are mere distractions from the ongoing strangling of he Palestinian people. But more radical demands are just as futile. The call to create an international tribunal to judge Israeli war criminals, or for an effective ntervention by the United Nations or the European Union will accomplish nothing. The real existing international tribunals reflect the relationship of forces in the world, and will never be used against the cherished allies of the United States. It is the relationship of forces itself that must be changed, and this can be done only gradually. It is true that Gaza is a dire emergency, but it is also true that nothing really effective can be done today to stop it, precisely because the patient political work that should have been done before still remains to be undertaken. Continue here

Thursday 8 January 2009

Israel 'fires on UN Gaza convoy'

At least one Palestinian has been killed after a UN relief agency convoy came under fire from Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, officials say.

The attack took place on Thursday as the lorries travelled to the Erez crossing to pick up supplies that were to have been allowed in during a three-hour ceasefire.

Thursday's pause in the 13-day Israeli offensive to allow humanitarian aid into the strip was scheduled to last from 1pm (11:00 GMT) to 4pm (14:00 GMT).The Israeli military said that it was checking reports of the incident.

John Ging, the head of the UN relief agency in Gaza, said that the casualties were Palestinian civilian contractors contracted to bring supplies from the crossing points.

"They were co-ordinating their movements with the Israelis, as they always do, only to find themselves being fired at from the ground troops," he told Al Jazeera.

"It has resulted tragically in the death of one and the injury of two others."

Wednesday's three-hour ceasefire allowed beleaguered Gazans and aid workers to recover dead bodies, treat the wounded, and gather much-needed supplies in and around Gaza City.

Read also Nuraina's Israel Forces Delay Help for Wounded Palestinians

And The Guardian's How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Sime Darby drops IJN plan - Malaysiakini

Sime Darby Berhad today announced that it would not pursue its ambitious plan to take over the National Heart Institute (IJN), according to a Malaysiakini report .

The multinational company said that the decision was made after taking into consideration the "public sentiment and feedback" on the matter.

The group's chief executive officer and president Ahmad Zubir Murshid said in a statement today that the company has to respect the "wishes of the rakyat" for IJN to remain in its present structure.

He said that the company had written to the government in August expressing interest in a partnership that would be "mutually beneficial in extending the scope and scale of operations of Sime Darby Healthcare and IJN".

The government however, although initially agreed in principle with the proposal, said that it had deferred its decision to allow Sime Darby to begin negotiations with the Finance Ministry on taking a 51 percent stake in IJN.

A strong public outcry, including from the specialists working in IJN, is believed to have reversed the government's decision.

Among the main concerns raised included the possibility of Sime Darby increasing the fee structure at the institute.

On Dec 19, deputy premier Najib Abdul Razak said the deal has been put on hold until an in-depth study is conducted by the relevant ministries.The institute was carved out of the Kuala Lumpur general hospital in 1992.

Specialising in cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery, it has provided speedy, efficient and affordable treatment. - Malaysiakini.

Monday 5 January 2009

Dr M blames US for Gaza war

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has blamed the US for backing Israeli military aggression against Palestinians in Gaza, saying it makes the US "much more guilty than even the Israelis".

The former Prime Minister on Monday said that no matter how clever or powerful Israel was it would not be able to carry out the offensive without US support.

"The backing by the US gives it encouragement to do all these things which I think ordinary Americans would not like to see them do," Mahathir said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

"Israelis believe it they go to war there is this big brother that is going to come with the weapons, with the money, so they don’t care what the world thinks."

He also suggested a boycott of the greenback as a way to pressure the US, saying that if the US is impoverished "it cannot undertake all these aggressive acts".

Mahathir, also defended the Palestinians' right to retaliate against the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Meanwhile Malaysia is leading the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in a bid to seek a special session at the UN General Assembly to stop the escalating violence in Gaza.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Malaysian permanent envoy to the UN will discuss with officials from the 57-member OIC on how best to push for such a session.

"I hope the United States and its allies will not impede efforts to convene the special general assembly," the Bernama national news agency quoted him as saying.

In a separate statement, Abdullah urged the international community not to tolerate Israel's ground offensive which he described as "an act of total war".

The US late on Saturday blocked approval of a UN Security Council statement that called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and expressed serious concern at the escalation of violence, according to council diplomats.

Israel sent troops and tanks into Gaza on Saturday after a week-long aerial bombardment which has left more than 500 Palestinians dead and thousands more wounded so far.

Read Hantu Laut's entry : Gaza:Dirty American,Ruthlessly Cruel Jews And Stupid Arabs

Galadriel's A Palestinian Holocaust?

Gaza burns as Israel intensifies attack...

Smoke from the three-day Israeli air strike over Gaza

At least a dozen Palestinian civilians have been killed on Monday as Israeli forces pushed deeper into the Gaza Strip, medical sources say.

The latest total death count in Gaza stands at 531 people killed and more than 2,000 injured across 10 days, with more than 80 deaths since the ground offensive began two days ago. Overnight and Monday morning air raids were reported in open fields in east Jabaliya, Beit Lahiya and in the Shati refugee camp. Among the dead was a family of seven at Shati refugee camp, who were killed by navy shelling off the coast of Gaza.

As Israeli troops advanced in their ground invasion supported by military helicopters that sporadically dropped bombs and caused mass panic as frantic families fled by car or on foot.

Artillery shells explode over Gaza as Israeli forces invade Gaza. Troops, backed by air and naval support, are reported to have surrounded Gaza City. And with soldiers positioned on the north-south road at Netzarim, the besieged territory has been split into two, effectively blocking Palestinian supply lines.

The Israeli government officials claim they are not targeting civilians, only seeking to halt rocket fire from the Palestinian Hamas movement governing Gaza. But pictures on the ground tell a different story. It is all in the name of self-defence, claim the Israelis.

But in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians rallied for a third day of protests, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a man, Palestinian medical sources said.

Mufid Saleh Walweel, 22, was shot in the head in the West Bank city of Qalqilya during a protest against Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip.

As always, children are the victims... (AFP photo).

Streets remained deserted in Gaza City, capital of the battered and densely populated Palestinian territory, as it was encircled by Israeli forces cutting off the main access roads.

Stores were shuttered and long queues formed outside the few open bakeries, with those residents who decided to stay stocking up on goods for fear of a protracted conflict.

The first night of Israel's ground invasion, Gaza was blasted with explosives from both air and sea .

Artillery shells rained down along the border, tanks firing in support of advancing infantry units in the northern Gaza Strip, and Hamas retaliated with mortar rounds and by setting off roadside bombs.

Aid agencies have condemned Israeli Foreign Minister Livni who claimed there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza where 1.5 million people, are already suffering shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies due to a two-year economic blockade imposed by Israel.

Egypt has also completely closed the Rafah crossing, cutting off aid supplies to the territory.

About 250,000 people in the northern part of Gaza are also reported to be without electricity. The main power plant has been shut down for lack of fuel due to Israel's blockade.


I'm outraged and angry as I watch helplessly at the TV in front of me showing the carnage going on in Gaza. At the last count, Israeli's bomb had killed 530 Palestinians and injured 2,450 injured since its assault on Gaza last Saturday.

The death toll and the number of those injured are most likely to rise. Hospitals in Gaza are running with no electricity. There is shortage of medical supplies and the injured are being treated on the floor because there are not enough beds and space. And many are dying while waiting to be treated...the majority of them civilians.

Despite the Israelis assurance that civilians are not their target, 20 per cent of those killed were children and women.

Israeli's well-oiled PR machinery has been working overtime. It is a fight to defend itself and it is Israel's war against "Terror" and the terrorists (Hamas) ... always claiming that it is the victim, not the aggressor.

What about the Palestinians right? Their right to defend itself ? You cut off a group of people from the outside world by militarily occupying their land and force them into a state of destitution and then are surprised when they reacted the way they did?

The majority of the families of the people now living in Gaza, one of the most densely populated strip of land on this face of the earth - were from what is now called Israel. They were driven to Gaza to pave the way for the establishment of a Jewish State/homeland , Israel in 1948, for Jews dispersed all over the world. But the Jews claim, the land is theirs by right given by God because they are the Chosen people.

Much has been made of Hamas firing rockets at Israel, but who has been counting how many missiles Israel has fired at Gaza over the past six years? The fact that 3,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks against 30 Israeli deaths suggest that there are many more then 6,000 Israeli missile attacks.

The Israeli reaction now is based purely on posturing for their own elections combined with the certainty that Bush will let them do whatever they want.

During the so-called truce, Israel put up blockades to stop almost all essential goods - food and medicine - from getting into Gaza which angered Hamas who then started firing rockets. The shelling did not kill a single Israeli. Now Israel has decided to bomb any building in Gaza it deems as a 'Hamas institution' - which include mosques, institutions of higher learning, hospitals and refugee camps - to clear that strip of land of "terrorists".

And the US says Hamas is reponsible for the deaths of the Palestinians.

While the killing continues, Israel has closed the Gaza borders to the outside world.

Israel will continue with the carnage as long as there is no word from the White say enough is enough.

Am not surprised. Are you?

For more of the atrocities read here
Read Nuraina's : I weep for you: sons and daughters of Paletine