THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
JUN 30 — ManekUrai hanyalah sebuah kampung di daerah Kuala Krai, Kelantan tetapi dengan hampir seluruh 31,000 penduduknya orang Melayu, ada sesuatu yang perlu diperhatikan tentang kampung ini dalam seminggu dua yang akan datang.
Statusnya sebagai salah sebuah kawasan Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Kelantan dan dengan jumlah pengundi seramai 12,292 yang memperlihatkan pengundi Melayu seramai 99.25 peratus, menjadikan Pilihan Raya Kecil DUN Manek Urai yang akan berlangsung pada 14 Julai nanti sebagai titik tolak kepada proses evolusi nilai budaya Melayu.
Di tangan para pengundi Manek Urai terletaknya pembentukan citra bangsa Melayu masa depan. Semua orang tahu bahawa kedudukan bangsa Melayu ketika ini amat goyah kerana sedang berhadapan dengan krisis identiti atas factor dalaman mahupun akibat faktor luaran.
Semenjak sekian lama, terdapat orang Melayu yang hanya sibuk memperkaya diri sendiri dan kaum keluarga serta sahabat handai tanpa berusaha bersungguh-sungguh untuk membantu bangsanya sendiri yang ketinggalan.
Akibatnya sebahagian orang Melayu memprotes keadaan itu pada Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-12 lalu. Kuasa politik yang selama ini menjadi tunjang pertahanan orang Melayu mulai goyah dan terhakis sedikit demi sedikit.
Demi kuasa, ada orang Melayu yang sudah tergamak membelakangkan symbol tradisi ketuanan Melayu dan sebaliknya lebih rela tunduk kepada kehendak orang lain. Baru sahaja digertak, sebahagian orang Melayu sudah menolak hasrat untuk bersatu, walaupun sebelum itu mereka sendiri yang mengacah-acah untuk mewujudkan perpaduan Melayu.
Ada orang Melayu yang sudah tergamak mengumpamakan saudara sebangsa dan seagama sebagai komunis, sosialis dan mengamalkan ajaran sesat, sedangkan pada masa yang sama saling bermesraan dengan rakan seperjuangan yang secara terang-terangan menolak Islam.
Ketika orang ‘dewasa’ Melayu asyik dengan sepak terajang politik, masalah remaja Melayu yang terlibat dengan dadah, lumba haram dan budaya hedonisme masih tidak selesai malahan semakin berleluasa.
Sedarkah orang Melayu bahawa ketika ini kita sedang leka bertandak mengikut rentak paluan gendang orang lain yang tidak jemu-jemu berusaha melelahkan kita?
Pengundi Manek Urai akan menjadi penentu citra yang menjadi pilihan orang Melayu untuk masa depan. Walaupun hanya pilihan raya kecil, pengundi Melayu di DUN ini akan memilih kumpulan pemimpin mana yang akan mewakili mereka.
Satu kumpulan pemimpin mewakili golongan orang Melayu yang sudah sedar dan bersedia mendahulukan rakyat dan mengutamakan pencapaian. Manakala satu golongan lagi nampaknya masih leka berpolitiking dan bermain retorik.
Satu kumpulan pemimpin Melayu sudah bersedia untuk berbincang tentang perpaduan Melayu, manakala satu kumpulan lagi menjadikan agenda perpaduan Melayu sekadar test market.
Satu kumpulan pemimpin sedang berusaha keras untuk mengembalikan keyakinan penyokong Melayu, manakala satu kumpulan sedang menagih simpati dan sokongan kaum lain dan rela memburuk-burukkan bangsa dan agama sendiri.
Satu kumpulan pemimpin sudah mulai turun padang untuk meninjau sendiri masalah rakyat, tetapi satu golongan lagi juga sudah turun malah hingga ke jalanan tetapi untuk berdemonstrasi.
Setiap tingkah itu ditontoni oleh orang Melayu. Pengundi Manek Urai akan menterjemah pendirian Melayu melalui kuasa satu undi apabila tiba masanya. Jika mereka memilih golongan pemimpin yang sudah sedar dan sudah bersedia membela nasib rakyat, bermakna mereka mahu mengekalkan status quo nilai Melayu yang dibudayai selama ini.
Sebaliknya, jika mereka memilih golongan pemimpin yang sudah berani membuang tongkat dan bersedia menjadi Malaysian, orang Melayu lain harus bersedia juga dari semua sudut supaya tidak lemas dalam arus persaingan membangunkan bangsa Malaysia itu nanti.
Justeru, para pengundi Melayu Manek Urai perlu berfikiran bijak dan rasional kerana undi mereka menjadi penentu kepada citra bangsa Melayu masa depan. — Utusan Malaysia
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDERBy Adib Zalkapli
KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — With the PAS-Umno unity talks behind them at last, Pakatan Rakyat will hold a public rally this evening in Petaling Jaya to show that the loose coalition formed after the last general election remains intact.
Senior party leaders including Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang will address the rally which organisers are hoping will draw about 100,000 people.
PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa, who came under heavy criticism for his part in the pro unity talks, is also expected to make an appearance tonight.
But the infighting within the Islamist party — which reached its peak during party elections early this month — caused by the unity government proposal made by Hadi is far from over.
The rally tonight which was first proposed at last week’s PR leadership council meeting has already being criticised by supporters of the Erdogan faction who are against any form of co-operation with Umno.
Political attacks targeted at Nasharudin continue despite last week’s meeting of pro unity leaders with spiritual adviser Nik Aziz that ended the public display of disagreement between senior leaders.
Just days earlier Nik Aziz had asked Nasharudin to leave the party after he responded positively to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s remark that favours a formation of a unity government.
“Tonight’s assembly is to publicly cleanse Nasharudin Mat Isa, but a tiger doesn’t change its stripes,” said a Kelantan PAS official who is sceptical about the Bachok MP’s stand on Umno.
The Malaysian Insider understands some party leaders linked to the Erdogan faction believe that last week’s central working committee meeting did not solve the issue.
“They will be squeezed out, unless they are willing to be yes man in the party,” said former PAS vice-president Datuk Nakhaie Ahmad on the Erdogans in a recent interview with The Malayian Insider.
Nakhaie left the party in late 1980s in the face of strong opposition from PAS’s conservative leaders who were against co-operation with the non-Muslims and his approach in formulating party policy in preparation for taking over the government.
The authorities in Sri Lanka have arrested a popular astrologer who predicted that the president will be ejected from office, police say.
Chandrasiri Bandara announced last week that the government would flounder in September and October because of political and economic problems.
The opposition have condemned the arrest and warned that the country is heading towards a dictatorship.
Astrology is taken seriously by numerous Sri Lankan politicians.
Police told the AP news agency that Mr Bandara told an opposition meeting that the prime minister would take over as president on 9 September and the opposition leader would become prime minister.
He was arrested on Wednesday night to investigate the basis of his prediction, police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera said.
Mr Bandara made his forecast despite the president’s high approval ratings following the defeat of Tamil Tigers rebels in May, bringing an end to nearly 26 years of civil war.
“The CID (Criminal Investigations Department) is questioning the astrologer,” Mr Gunasekara said.
The astrologer predicted that a planetary change on 8 October will be inauspicious for parliament and the government may not be able to contain rising living costs – a forecast which correspondents say has already been made by private economists.
“The crime which Chandrasiri Bandara committed was publishing an astrological column which was adverse to the government,” said opposition United National Party General Secretary Tissa Attanayake.
So convinced are Sri Lankan politicians over the accuracy of astrology that many have their own personal seers who decide the auspicious times to launch any new initiative.
President Rajapaksa has declared himself to be a believer, telling foreign reporters earlier this year that he has often consulted a favoured astrologer for advice on what time to make speeches or to depart for trips.
Mr Bandara – who has a weekly television show and writes controversial political columns for a pro-opposition newspaper – is one of the most popular astrologers in the country.
Media rights groups have complained of continued efforts by the government to stifle freedom of speech despite the end of the war.
On Wednesday the main media organisations in the country urged the government not to re-establish a body that can fine and imprison print journalists.
According to Amnesty International, at least 14 journalists and staff at news outlets have been killed by suspected government paramilitaries and rebels since the beginning of 2006.
A Yemeni airliner with 150 people on board has crashed in the Indian Ocean near the Comoros archipelago, officials there say.
“We don’t know if there are any survivors among the 150 people on the plane,” the Comoros vice-president told Reuters news agency.
The plane belonged to Yemeni state carrier Yemenia Air, he said.
The three islands of Comoros are about 300km (190 miles) northwest of Madagascar in the Mozambique channel.
Vice-president Idi Nadhoim, speaking from the airport at the main island’s capital Moroni, said the accident happened early on Tuesday.
The exact location of the plane was not immediately known.
The details of the flight are also unknown, but there was a flight from Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, due about 0230 (0030 BST). That flight was a connecting flight from Paris.
A resident near the airport told the BBC about 100 people were trying to get into the airport to find out more information, but without much success.
(NST) – KOTA BARU: Some 3,030 police officers and men will be deployed for the Manik Urai by-election, starting from nomination day on July 6 until polling day on July 14.
Kelantan police chief SAC I Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said the first group of about 1,200 men would be dispatched just before nomination day.
“The deployment will be made in six batches with the final one just after polling day,” he said at a Lions Club function here yesterday.
On campaign permits, Rahim said they would be issued by the Kuala Krai police chief but, as state police chief, he could cancel permits for campaigns that contravened the rules.
“We have yet to issue campaign permits to political parties. However, gathering permits have been issued to the contesting parties.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
Malaysia saw its performance drop in four categories — voice and accountability (level of democracy), political stability, regulatory quality and control of corruption.By Lee Wei Lian
KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — A study by the World Bank suggests that Malaysia’s governance has deteriorated since 2003. The country fared worse in four out of six good governance categories in the World Bank study and improved in only two as of 2008.
The nation also lags well behind the scores of high income countries such as Australia, Japan and Switzerland. It scored better than Indonesia but remained far behind Singapore. Indonesia, however, saw its governance scores improve across the board since 2003.
Malaysia saw its performance drop in four categories — voice and accountability (level of democracy), political stability, regulatory quality and control of corruption.
In terms of its relative position to other countries, Malaysia also fell further behind countries in the same categories. It recorded an improvement in performance and relative position in only two categories — government effectiveness and rule of law.
The World Bank study uses a percentile method to show the relative ranking of a country. For example, a country with a ranking of 60 means that its score is higher than 60 per cent of countries in the study.
Malaysia has a rank of 32 (2003 ranking — 38) for voice and accountability, 50 (57) for political stability, 84 (80) for government effectiveness, 60 (70) regulatory quality, 65 (63) for rule of law and 63 (65) for control of corruption.
It is an indication of the divergent paths that Malaysia and Singapore took upon their split in 1965 that Singapore is the highest ranking country in three categories and near the top in all except for voice and accountability, where it ranked in the bottom third with Malaysia.
While Indonesia ranked in the bottom half for all categories, it nevertheless saw both its relative position and raw scores rise in the past five years. Significantly, Indonesia appears to be doing better than both Malaysia and Singapore when it comes to the practice of democracy.
While the study does not make a link between a country’s income and good governance, broadly speaking, countries that enjoy high incomes such as Australia, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland tend to score and rank near the top in all categories, while the poorest countries are likelier to cluster near the bottom.
Malaysia’s numbers suggest that the government’s emphasis on service delivery over the past five years is gaining traction but it is losing the fight against corruption despite numerous promises to eradicate the scourge.
Voice and accountability, defined as the extent to which a country’s citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media also deteriorated during this period.
In the category of political stability and absence of violence/terrorism, which measures the perceptions of the likelihood that the government will be destabilised or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including domestic violence and terrorism, Malaysia peaked in 2005, the year after the ruling Barisan Nasional government won its biggest ever mandate.
It went downhill from there and reached its lowest point in the last five years in 2008, which saw protestors and police clash on the streets and was also the year that the opposition made record gains at the ballot box.
The World Bank study, called the Worldwide Governance Indicators project, reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for 212 countries and territories over the period from 1996 to 2008.
By Wong Choon Mei
PAS is disappointed that Prime Minister Najib Razak has rejected any public debate with its spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat even before receiving an official invitation or considering the merits of the issues, which if raised openly, could benefit the people.
“I am sorry and sad that Umno did not even consider the matter, but had simply shot it down,” Nik Aziz told reporters in Kota Baru on Monday.
The Kelantan Menteri Besar had issued the invitation after Najib and Umno criticised him for rejecting any talks to form a unity government with Umno and the BN coalition.
The Islamic scholar added that the invitation was still with him as his political secretary was overseas and due to return only on Wednesday.
More transparent than closed-door dialogue
Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub said Umno should not fear debate, which was a better option than dialogue held behind closed doors which was what Najib had proposed.
“I have debated with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz, and others too have been involved in other debates and they turned out well,” he said.
Salahuddin also said if Najib was afraid of being grilled over certain issues, such as oil and gas royalty owed to Kelantan, then they could still debate on other topics that could benefit the Muslim community, such as religion.
“Perhaps what Nik Aziz wanted was to debate current issues, and one of the latest is oil and gas royalty for Kelantan,” said Salahuddin.
“Even if the debate were to be more on Islamic matters, it should also not be a problem, and both parties would prepare their arguments.
Meanwhile, another Umno leader has rushed to join the queue defending Najib for turning down the debate challenge.
BN Menteri Besar for Perak Zambry Kadir, who owes his position to Najib, accused his counterpart in Kelantan of arrogance.
“He should not regard himself as so terrific, because sometimes when we feel we are so great, we don’t realise there are others who are better than us,” Zambry told reporters.
“Nik Aziz should be speaking based on religious knowledge and not on his emotions.”
According to Zambry, an open debate would not benefit anyone and may create disunity.
“I don’t think that the prime minister is incapable of debating with Nik Aziz, but I believe Najib is thinking more of the effects on the community,” he added.
Federal judge gives maximum sentence to Ponzi mastermind following his apology and victims’ request for life sentence.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — A federal judge sentenced Bernard Madoff, the convicted mastermind of the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever, to the maximum sentence of 150 years in federal court Monday.
Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in New York announced the sentence just moments after Madoff apologized to his victims.
Chin, who called Madoff’s crimes “extraordinarily evil,” said the maximum sentence was important for deterrence, and also for the victims, many of whom erupted into applause after the judge announced the sentence. Many hugged and some of them broke down in tears.
“The sentence imposed today recognizes the significance of Bernard Madoff’s crimes,” Lev Dassin, acting U.S. attorney, said in a written statement.
The 150-year sentence is the maximum that federal prosecutors in New York requested, based on the number of Madoff’s victims, the amount of money he stole and the extent of the damage he caused. Judge Chin said that the Federal Department of Probation had recommended a 50-year
By Wong Choon Mei
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has slammed Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Umno-BN for launching a smear campaign against PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat after the Kelantan Menteri Besar rejected Umno’s overtures for unity talks.
This shows that they feel threatened by Nik Aziz. I don’t think it is a healthy practise. He is a well-respected figure,” Anwar told reporters on Monday.
Nik Aziz, the senior-most leader in the Islamist party, has been the most vocal critic of Umno.
He even gave his deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa a public scolding recently for not immediately rejecting Najib’s offer to form a unity government with PAS and its Pakatan Rakyat partners.
Because of this, Umno has been targeting the 78-year old religious scholar, accusing him of being the stumbling block to Malay and Islamic unity in the country.
Meanwhile, Pakatan has scoffed at the Umno allegations, counter-accusing the ruling coalition of trying to split not just their alliance but the entire country by fanning racial sentiments.
Top Pakatan leaders including Anwar, Nik Aziz and DAP’s Lim Kit Siang will hold a rally at the MPPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya, Selangor at 9 pm on Tuesday to reassure voters that they will fight together as a team to bring further reforms to the country.
Afraid to face Nik Aziz in public debate
Anwar also ticked off Umno for unethical politicking by picking on Nik Aziz just to gather support for the Manik Urai by-election due to be polled on July 14.
“Such a smear campaign against Nik Aziz is not necessary but I expect it to increase during the by-election,” said Anwar.
PAS’s Mohd Fauzi Abdullah will face off against Umno’s Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat in Manik Urai, a core Malay heartland and a key referendum on Najib’s acceptability as a leader in his own community.
Indeed, over the weekend Najib’s deputy Muhyiddin Yassin said Nik Aziz should seek forgiveness from God for likening Umno to religious extremists Ayah Pin and the Sky Kingdom.
The DPM was following through on a police report lodged by an Umno Youth leader who alleged that Nik Aziz’s comments were seditious.
“When a Muslim accuses another of not being a Muslim, well, I really don’t know what to say as such an accusation is a very serious offence in Islam,” Muhyiddin was reported as saying in Sunday’s edition of the Star.
Nik Aziz has denied the accusations and has challenged Najib to a public debate if the premier was still resentful and dissatisfied over the unity talks issue.
However, Najib’s supporters have rushed to reject the offer on his behalf.
“The debate will not bring anything. In fact, I believe now is not the time for the government or the prime minister to spend time debating,” said Rais Yatim, Information Minister.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
Too much support too quickly leads to arrogance, inertia and apathy.
KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Malaysians should take a bow. If the administration of Datuk Seri Najib Razak is making some reform noises — merit-based national scholarships, talk of finally abandoning quotas — it is because of the political changes effected on March 8, 2008.
Do not for a minute think that the prime minister would even bother to tweak the system if the status quo had remained.
The likes of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein and Khairy Jamaluddin are not agents of change and never will be. It is Malaysians who are the agents of change.
And the message is that Umno and Barisan Nasional only becomes less arrogant when their political survival is being questioned.
Malaysians should not be so ready to throw their support behind BN yet. Remember the lessons gleaned from being under the administration of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Too much support too quickly leads to arrogance, inertia and apathy.
If any political party becomes too dominant anywhere in the world, chances are corruption, abuse of power and the tendency to take for granted the needs of the voters will set in.
Najib is expected to make some announcements this week on more liberalisations of the economy. And while these are probably steps in the right direction if Malaysia is to become more competitive, it is also coming about because the country has no choice.
Whether it is too little too late, remains to be seen. But really, Malaysia has little choice but to open up the economy, in the face of competition from around the region and pressure from trading partners.
The bloody nose inflicted on BN last year also left the ruling coalition with little choice but to respond to an unhappy electorate. That it took more than a year and a change of leadership to finally see some reform noises being made speaks volumes of the inertia that BN suffers from.
So far the signals also appear to be mixed.
The Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia continues to stoke racial sentiments. Umno’s own leaders continue to speak of what can only be described as outdated ideas about racial identity.
Instead of being progressive, Umno leaders continue to talk about the need for “protection.”
To his credit, Najib has refrained from making racially-sensitive remarks. He has been playing the statesman role, keeping himself above it all. But the prime minister will need to get his hands dirty, roll up his sleeves and make the change in his own party before he can talk about a 1 Malaysia.
And ordinary Malaysians should now also realise how effective the power of the vote is in their hands.