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Obama in Ghana: War a ‘millstone around Africa’s neck’

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on July 12, 2009


President Obama speaks before Ghana's Parliament on Saturday.

(CNN) — President Obama reached out to Africa in a speech in Ghana on Saturday, praising the continent’s achievements but condemning persistent wars, calling them the “millstone around Africa’s neck.

“Despite the progress that has been made — and there has been considerable progress in parts of Africa — we also know that much of that promise has yet to be fulfilled,” Obama said in a speech to the parliament of Ghana, a West African nation seen as a model of democracy and growth for the rest of the continent.

Obama’s visit, the third by a sitting American president, highlighted the stability, political strides and painstaking economic progress that Ghana made in being the first sub-Saharan nation to gain independence, in 1957.

This is in sharp contrast to conditions in other continent hot spots cited by Obama — Zimbabwe, where the society is in economic and political turmoil; Sudan, where fighting rages in the Darfur region, and Somalia, site of civil warfare. Congo and Liberia have also been in the throes of war.

“Here in Ghana, you show us a face of Africa that is too often overlooked by a world that sees only tragedy or the need for charity,” Obama said.

“The people of Ghana have worked hard to put democracy on a firmer footing, with peaceful transfers of power even in the wake of closely contested elections. And with improved governance and an emerging civil society, Ghana’s economy has shown impressive rates of growth.”

After his speech, Obama toured Cape Coast Castle, the notorious fort used in the transatlantic slave trade.

After viewing the castle, a visibly moved Obama, who was accompanied by his wife and two daughters, said that the site held special significance for him.

“As Americans, as African-Americans obviously, there’s a special sense that on the one hand this place was a place of profound sadness, on the other hand,” he said, “it is here where the journey of much of the African-American experience began,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Obama in his speech to the country’s lawmakers said the kind of nation-building exemplified by Ghana doesn’t have the “drama of the 20th century’s liberation struggles,” but he believes “it will ultimately be more significant.”

“We must first recognize a fundamental truth that you have given life to in Ghana: Development depends upon good governance. That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long,” he said. “That is the change that can unlock Africa’s potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans.”

Obama pointed to Kenya — where his father was born — as an example of unmet potential.

“Countries like Kenya, which had a per-capita economy larger than South Korea’s when I was born, have been badly outpaced. Disease and conflict have ravaged parts of the African continent. In many places, the hope of my father’s generation gave way to cynicism, even despair,” he said.

“History shows that countries thrive when they invest in their people and infrastructure, when they promote multiple export industries, develop a skilled workforce, and create space for small and medium-sized businesses that create jobs.”

Obama said the United States has committed $63 billion to a global, comprehensive health strategy.

“Building on the strong efforts of President [George W.] Bush, we will carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS. We will pursue the goal of ending deaths from malaria and tuberculosis, and we will work to eradicate polio.

“We will fight neglected tropical disease. And we won’t confront illnesses in isolation — we will invest in public health systems that promote wellness, and focus on the health of mothers and children,” Obama said.

The visit by the first African-American president in the United States sparked a frenzy in the country as street vendors sold miniature U.S. flags, and massive billboards with pictures of a smiling Obama and “akwaaba, ” the local word for welcome, were set up in the capital city.

“People in Ghana are printing clothes for this occasion,” said Adrian Landry, general manager of a beach hotel in Accra.

“The fact that his father is African and he picked us makes us special,” he said. “He is endorsing our strong democracy in Ghana. This is historic.”

Bill Clinton was the first U.S. president to visit Ghana in 1998 as part of a six-nation Africa tour. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, stopped there as part of a four-nation Africa tour during his last year of office.

Obama, who recently attended the G-8 summit in Italy, will not visit any other country in the continent during the trip.



Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 30, 2009


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.

Malaysians are the real agents of change — The Malaysian Insider

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 29, 2009


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.

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Nizar, Pakatan MPs thrown out after his swearing in

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 15, 2009


By Adib Zalkapli and Shannon Teoh

NIZKUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was thrown out of Parliament moments after he was sworn in this morning as the new Bukit Gantang MP.

He had led Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs in chants of “Hidup rakyat (long live the people)” and “Bubar DUN (dissolve the assembly)” as soon as the swearing-in ceremony ended, with some of them seen wearing headbands with the words “Bubar Dun”.

Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, who was annoyed by the Perak lawmakers, asked Nizar, M. Kulasegaran, Ngeh Koo Ham and Nga Kor Ming to leave the House, after they refused to remove the headbands.

“Please remove the cloths. That is not part of our uniform,” he had said.

As more MPs joined in to protest the action of the Speaker, Datuk Mahfuz Omar (Pokok Sena), N. Gobalakrishnan (Padang Serai), Teo Nie Ching (Serdang), were also asked to leave.

Pandikar later refused to deliver the customary welcoming speech, saying that Nizar had misbehaved.

“Traditionally after an MP is sworn in, the Speaker’s job is to welcome the new member, and in the welcoming speech, the Speaker will speak of his hope that the new member will be able to contribute to the House,” Pandikar told the House.

“But this morning I find it difficult to say that, look at the behaviour of the member who was a mentri besar. I don’t care how you behave outside the House, but inside the Parliament please watch your behaviour. And because of this I will not deliver my welcoming address,” he added.

Speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby, Nizar said that Barisan Nasional (BN) was hypocritical as Parliament was sitting while the Perak assembly is in crisis.

“In my oath I said that I will defend the constitution therefore I asked for permission from the Speaker to inform the members on the constitution which has been sidelined in Perak,” said Nizar.

However, the Speaker did not have time to consider his request before Nizar began the chants.

Mahfuz also pointed out that former Speaker, the late Tun Zahir Ismail, had allowed anti-ISA armband during the 10th Parliament session.

Several Perak PR assemblymen were also present to show support to the ousted Perak mentri besar who was asked to step down by the Perak Sultan last February despite asking for fresh polls.

Nizar won the Bukit Gantang seat in April in a by-election seen as a referendum on the takeover of the state government by BN through defections.

A relatively unknown politician until his appointment as mentri besar last year, Nizar early this month was voted into the PAS central working committee and obtained the highest number of votes.

Anwar: Hadi, Kit Siang and I remain committed to Pakatan

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 11, 2009


By Anwar Ibrahim

Kenyataan ini saya edarkan setelah berbincang dengan Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang dan Sdr. Lim Kit Siang semalam. Kami mengulangi komitmen untuk memperkukuhkan kerjasama Pakatan Rakyat bagi menjayakan Agenda Perubahan.

Kami berpendapat adalah penting untuk memberi peluang dan ruang kepada rakan-rakan parti komponen untuk menjelaskan pendirian mereka berhubung sebarang isu yang berbangkit.

Kami percaya perselisihan kecil yang digembar gembur oleh media Umno-BN tidak akan meretakkan permuafakatan yang terbina dari iltizam untuk membawa Perubahan kepada rakyat Malaysia keseluruhannya.

Perlu dijelaskan bahawa isu rundingan PAS-umno yang berbangkit dari kenyataan Ustaz Abdul Hadi pada sidang akhbar selepas menyampaikan ucapan dasar di muktamar tahunan baru-baru ini harus dilihat dalam konteks pidato Presiden Pas.

Dalam pidato tersebut Ustaz Abdul Hadi mengulangi komitmen PAS untuk memastikan Perubahan terlaksana melalui wadah Pakatan Rakyat dan menggariskan kewajaran muafakat antara parti bagi menyelesaikan krisis Perak melalui pilihanraya, menggesa agar badan kehakiman bebas dari sebarang kongkongan dan pilihanraya yang telus.

Inshaallah permuafakatan Keadilan, PAS dan DAP akan bertambah utuh dari hari ke hari. Rakyat Malaysia mahukan sebuah kerajaan yang bertanggungjawab, telus dan cekap mentadbir bagi kembali memacu negara ini ke persada. Pakatan Rakyat bersedia menggalas tanggungjawab demi memastikan negara ini berada di landasan yang tepat.


Obama’s speech to Muslims seeks the right balance

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 5, 2009


barack-obama-bw1(06-04) 20:48 PDT — President Obama sought in Cairo today to warm the Islamic world to the United States eight years after the 9/11 attacks, carefully targeting the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims in their prime time.


And Obama gave them a lot to listen to in his 55-minute speech at Cairo University, with a sprinkling of allusions, phrases and references that may have flown by many Western viewers – but were aimed at the heart of the Islamic experience.

“Very small things, like saying shukran (thank you) or salaam aleikum (peace be upon you) or quoting from the Koran … these are hugely significant things,” said Munir Jiwa, director of the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Obama’s speech, delivered while most Americans slumbered, was billed as an open hand to the Islamic world, was wide-ranging, touching on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, globalization and modernity, women’s rights, history, war and stereotypes many Americans hold of Muslims – and vice versa.

But threaded through the address were words that resonated with many Muslims – references that are elementary and familiar to even young students of Islam but that were surprising to many when coming from a U.S. president.

President George W. Bush, Obama’s predecessor, also made speeches seeking to bridge the gap to the Islamic world but he is remembered more for gaffes – such as referring to the war on terror as a “crusade” or dubbing the military response to the Sept. 11 attacks as operation “Infinite Justice,” which Islam teaches is the province of Allah alone. The name was changed to “Enduring Freedom.”

By contrast, Obama’s allusions were positive and relatively sophisticated, said Georgetown University professor John Esposito, author of “Who Speaks for Islam?”

“It’s what a good speaker ought to be able to do. You don’t just take your message, you craft the presentation to your audience,” he said. “(The speech was) clearly written by a president with a group of advisers who understand what Muslim concerns are, what Muslim hopes are.”

Some allusions were simple: Obama opened his speech with salaam aleikum and closed with “may God’s peace be upon you,” bookends commonly used by many in the Muslim world. He cited several Koranic phrases and recounted the history of American-Islamic relations, from Morocco’s recognition of America in 1776 to the modern experience of Islamic Americans.

Some experts also noted what Obama did not say: While he referred to extremists he did not use the word terrorism. Nor did he mention jihad, a complicated term that for many Americans is synonymous with terrorism to the frustration of Muslims who often use it in a positive sense of struggling for a personal goal.

“Jihad is a term of honor, and for many, many young Middle Easterners who yearn to fight what they see as oppression, to be a mujahid is a term of honor, of courage, of valor,” said Donna Lee Bowen, an expert in Islam and politics at Brigham Young University. “And we in the west use it as a derogatory term.”

Among Obama’s more sophisticated references was his mention of “Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition.” The president did not elaborate but many Muslims would have recalled stories of the centuries when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in relative harmony in Islamic Spain.

“That’s exactly the resonance it has, some kind of golden age when everybody goes along,” said Nathan Brown, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “That’s how it’s remembered.”

Similarly, Obama’s closing reference to the Islamic story of Isra would have resonated in many Islamic ears. A popular tale often mentioned by Muslims in interfaith contexts, the story tells how the prophet Muhammad rode a magical steed – called al-Buraq– on a tour of heaven where he meets with Jesus and Moses.

In mentioning the three prophets’ names, Obama used the phrase “peace be upon them,” which several Islamic experts said showed not only familiarity with traditional Islamic honorifics, but also bridged the three faiths.

“It’s amazing. It’s an acknowledgement that Islam is part of this Abrahamic tradition, that it’s continuity and that he recognizes that (Jesus and Moses) are also prophets of Islam,” Jiwa said. “These things resonate with people.”

That could be seen in the nearly two-dozen times Obama was interrupted with applause, Esposito said, especially for his religious references. Thursday’s release of a new tape from Osama bin Laden was a coincidence that Esposito said suggests extremist groups are displeased with Obama’s efforts at bridge-building.

“They’re going to be apoplectic,” he said. “(The Bush administration) was a dream for jihadists who just said, ‘Look, this guy talks like a neo-colonialist hegemonic leader ….’ You can’t say any of that about the way the Obama administration is moving forward.”

But celebration of Obama’s speech was not universal in the Islamic world. While many bloggers and commentators cheered it, some said pretty words are meaningless unless they are followed by concrete policy changes in Iraq, Afghanistan and especially the Middle East.

“They throw in some Koranic quotations, and everybody is yeah, yeah, yeah … but in the meantime people are dying,” Bowen said. “Expectations are very, very high for Obama. And I think that cuts both ways…. They’ll say this is a good first step but they’re also going to say, where have you been?”

E-mail Matthew B. Stannard at

UK minister quits, calls for Brown’s resignation

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on June 5, 2009


LONDON, England (CNN) — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Thursday he was “disappointed” over the resignation of James Purnell, his work and pensions secretary, who in a scathing letter sent to members of the news media called on Brown himself to resign.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been rocked by numerous minister resignations recently.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been rocked by numerous minister resignations recently.

In a written statement, the prime minister’s office said Brown learned the news just before 10 p.m. (2100 GMT), and would focus in coming days “on the big challenges facing the country for the future: how we guide the economy through the downturn and strengthen it for the future; how we push ahead with reform of and investment in our public services; and how we renew trust in our democracy and Parliament.”

In his letter of resignation — published by the Press Association — Purnell called on Brown to follow his lead.

“I now believe your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more, not less likely,” Purnell wrote. “That would be disastrous for our country. This moment calls for stronger regulation, an active state, better public services, an open democracy. It calls for a government that measures itself by how it treats the poorest in society. Those are our values, not David Cameron’s.”

Cameron is leader of the opposition Conservative Party.

“We therefore owe it to our country to give it a real choice,” Purnell said. “We need to show that we are prepared to fight to be a credible government and have the courage to offer an alternative future.

“I am therefore calling on you to stand aside to give our party a fighting chance of winning. As such I am resigning from government.”

Purnell allowed, though, that “if the consensus is that you should continue, then I will support the government loyally from the backbenches.”

Purnell resigned as polls closed Thursday for local elections.

He is the fifth member of the Labour Party government to call it quits in recent days. His direct challenge to Brown raises the question of how long the political career of the Labour Party prime minister will continue.

Brown has vowed to fight on.

Key to his political survival will be how his party fares not only in local elections, but also in elections for members of the European Parliament, which are taking place through Sunday. All 27 EU member states are voting with 736 seats up for grabs.

In Britain, polls show popular support for the Labour Party at historic lows.

Brown’s ability to regain authority may depend on his ability to reshuffle his government, something he will have to do since two other members of his cabinet who were implicated in an expense scandal have recently resigned.

Though Purnell, too, was involved in the case, his role was of a lesser nature and he was expected to survive any cabinet reshuffle, which could take place as early as Friday

Pakatan: Low voter turnout still our biggest fear at Penanti

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 28, 2009


tian9At the halfway mark of their Penanti by-election campaign, Pakatan Rakyat believes its chances for another thumping win will hinge on getting voters to come to the ballot boxes this Sunday, rather than on the competition put up by the three Independents, including the controversial Aminah Ahmad.

Said PKR strategic affairs director Tian Chua: “Our main focus remains on how we can encourage people to turn out to vote. Many of our supporters here are too sure of victory. We have to work extra hard to persuade them not to be too confident and to make the effort to come to the polling stations this Sunday.”

Pakatan partner PKR is fielding former USM lecturer Mansor Othman in the four-cornered contest. Mansor will face Aminah, a former PKR state Wanita chief, Nai Khan, the newly-resigned Gerakan Youth chief of  Teluk Wang branch and businessman Kamarul Ramizu.

Arch-rival Umno-BN is sitting out after coalition president and Prime Minister Najib Razak decided to ‘save costs’. His controversial decision has drawn jeers of cowardice, not just from opposition politicians, but also from within his own Umno party.

A revealing referendum  –  already trailing in the approval ratings

Despite the decision not to face up to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim at Penanti, the by-election is still billed and eagerly watched as a revealing referendum on Najib’s first 60 days in office. He assumed the premiership on Apr 3.

“Najib will have a tough time convincing Malaysians he is offering anything new. He has neither demonstrated his ability to provide leadership nor far-sighted planning,” said Tian..

“Look at his handling of the Perak crisis, the split within the PPP, the unresolved tensions in Terengganu and the new challenges in Kelantan and Perlis. By not contesting in Penanti, what has he achieved? More flak for himself and his party! He must realise that he can never gag people or police their thoughts. Respect must be earned not forced.”

Indeed a poll carried out by PKR in Penanti showed that the unpopular PM only managed to score a 28 percent approval rating. The poll was carried out on a sample size of 3,374 constituents.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng took top place with 59 percent of respondents saying they were satisfied with him, while Anwar bagged 58 percent approval rating. Even Najib’s deputy Muhyiddin Yassin scored higher than him with 39 percent.

Tian said despite Najib’s boycott, Pakatan ceramahs or political lectures were well attended even by Umno supporters, who had been asked to ignore the campaigning. In fact, Umno leaders have been busily offering free trips to northern border sex-and-shopping towns in a bid to lure voters away on the May 31 polling day.

“I suppose our supporter laugh at Najib’s cowardice, his inconsistency in not wanting to contest here but his eagerness to put up a candidate in Manik Urai in Kelantan.”

“So far, Umno supporters have been quiet, although many come to our ceramahs. But it is still early to gauge what Umno supporters will do on voting day,” Tian said.

A quiet and pleasant electorate unruffled by Aminah’s  bid for publicity

Penanti is a small constituency of 15,384 voters. It is located on mainland Penang, with padi fields, rubber and palm oil plantations dotting a landscape made up of little villages and a smattering of commercial activities.

It is also a Malay heartland. Most of the folk are industrial workers and small businessmen. Some 73 percent of voters are Malay, 24 percent are Chinese, and 2 percent are Indian.

According to Tian, most of the electorate have been generous with their feedback.

While keenly interested in national issues and the troubles overwhelming their counterparts in neighbouring Perak, they have also been vocal on local issues and the direction Penang was headed for in the coming years.

“Yes, the audience likes to hear talk on Perak. They are quite a savvy lot and very in touch at the national level. On the local side, their feedback, if anything negative, would be on smaller matters such services, lamp-pole, road repairs etc,” Tian said.

Of the three Independents, it is Aminah and Gerakan dark horse Nai Khan who are likely to pose the bigger problem to Mansor. Aminah hit the headlines by releasing a controversial CD recording of a conversation with two PKR leaders whom she alleged had tried to ‘bribe’ her into withdrawing from the by-election.

Both men – Cheah Kah Peng and Peter Lim – have denied the accusations and the PKR has proceeded with legal action against. But the 56-year staunch supported of Ezam Mohd Nor, the former PKR Youth chief who was lured away to Umno by Najib last year, has promised to reveal more ‘dirt’ on her former colleagues.

Said Tian: “This is part of campaigning – the good and the bad, the ugly and the sad. But I doubt she will swing many votes. The press are all going after her as it is sensational, otherwise the news reports on the by-election would be too mundane.

“For example, her claim that we offered her the deputy chief minister post is just too ridiculous. We are confident that her support will not grow.”

Waytha ticks off Najib for demonising Hindraf

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 28, 2009


By Wong Choon Mei

Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy ticked off Prime Minister Najib Razak for failing to protect and advance the lot of the Indian community in Malaysia.

“Instead of looking into the genuine grievances raised by Hindraf and addressing them objectively, the government plays to the tune and sentiment of racialism as capitalised by certain elements,” Waythamoorthy said in a statement.

The Indian leader is in self-exile in London after fleeing certain arrest under Malaysia’s notorious Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite imprisonment without trial.

Five other leaders of the outlawed movement – a coalition of Indian rights groups and NGOs – were locked up in December 2007 after organising a mammoth rally the month before.

All five, including Waytha’s brother, Uthayakumar, were released only recently – two in April this year and three earlier this month.

Najib’s supporters have not been shy to ask the five to thank the PM for their freedom. However, Hindraf views their arrests to be illegal in the first place.

Said Waytha: “To date, Hindraf has been demonized by the government with all kinds of allegation and accusation, yet the government fails to see that Hindraf has created an awareness within the public with its sole objective is to ensure an equal and fair treatment in a nation that we call Malaysia.

“If the Prime Minister and his government is really working towards promoting unity, then it should take the trouble to engage all parties and voices genuinely and deepen the solidarity between their people, while respecting their history, culture and their traditions, rather than abusing its power by threatening and intimidating through its machinery which is in line with authoritarianism, intolerance, and a police state.”

A callous PM

hindraf6Waytha also slammed Najib, who had threatened further action, for trying to intimidate Hindraf.

Earlier this week, the prime minister had suddenly turned around, chiding Hindraf for complaining that four of the five detainees were forced to sign conditional letters of release before being allowed to leave the Kamunting Detention Centre.

One of them, M Manoharan – the DAP assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah – also called for all Malaysians born from Independence Day August 31, 1957 onwards to be be accorded Bumiputra or indigenous people status.

“The warning issued by the Prime Minister is one that is callous in nature without regard for the suffering of the minorities, in particular the poor and neglected ones across the board and their sentiments to create a better Malaysia for all,” Waytha said.

“In what way were the statements made by the Hindraf leaders extreme in nature? How can the call by the Hindraf leaders against the review on the release of the Hindraf detainees and accordingly, the equal and fairer treatment towards all Malaysian-born be construed as extreme in nature when the Prime Minister shouts out for One Malaysia?”

Pakatan tells Penanti: Look at Perak and reject Umno-BN

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 26, 2009


By Wong Choon Mei

Pakatan Rakyat leaders fired the first salvo in Penanti, urging voters there to stand up for neighbouring Perak state by telling Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Umno-BN coalition in no uncertain terms that Malaysians will not brook any loss of their democratic rights.

“We must send a strong protest signal against BN that the people will no longer tolerate their despotic rule,” said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

“And the way to do this is to increase voter turnout and increase the majority votes from what we gained in the last general elections.”

The reform icon was speaking before a huge crowd of thousands at a ceramah or political lecture in the electorate, a core Malay heartland and part of his Permatang Pauh stronghold.

His view were echoed by other top Pakatan leaders – DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and PAS president Hadi Awang.

Both Hadi and Kit Siang urged Malaysians to reject the Umno-BN as it had failed the people, and was increasingly resorting to abusing the country’s system and robbing its institutions of every drop of credibility.

There was no better example than Perak, which remains been plunged in turmoil as a power-crazed Najib refused to heed either the wishes of the people there nor the rule of law, they added.

“Never mind that this by-election is not as vibrant as other by-elections. Penanti is important because the increase of votes for Pakatan would send a strong signal that the people are rejecting the BN government,” Kit Siang said.

Treachery from hidden Umno-BN hands

anwar27At Penanti, Pakatan has fielded PKR Penang deputy chief Mansor Othman. The 56-year old former USM lecturer will face three Independent candidates in the by-election – Aminah Abdullah, Nai Khan and Kamarul Ramizu Idris.

Arch rival Umno has decided against contesting, having lost in four of the past five by-elections.

However, Najib is widely expected to quietly back either one or even all three of the Independents to spoil the Pakatan’s chances, while at the same time shielding himself from the political consequences of a loss.

Already Aminah, a former PKR Wanita member, is spreading news that Pakatan agents tried to lure her from contesting by offering ‘bribes’.

Her accusations sparked an immediate denial from PKR leaders.

“We will resort to other actions, including legal means, on these complainants if they failed to prove their claims,” said Tian Chua, PKR director of strategic affairs.

“I am sure no PKR leaders were engaged in such unhealthy activities.”

Independents the new trend as the Umno-BN brand becomes unmarketable

Tian also said there was now an unmistakable trend of Independents taking part in by-elections despite the huge costs involved. In nine cases out of 10, candidates ended up losing the hefty RM15,000 campaign deposit.

“The BN symbol has become so unmarketable, it is now the trend to go in as Independent if you can’t run for the Pakatan. Your chances would be better, the dacing (BN’s trademark) would be a sure loss anywhere in Malaysia now,” Tian said.

Of the three Independents, the 41-year old Nai has the most direct links to Umno-BN. He quit as Gerakan Youth chief of Teluk Wang branch on May 19 just so that he could contest as an Independent. “Contesting in Penanti is like cat fighting a tiger. But I am not afraid,” he said.

Another aspirant Mohd Saberi Othman was formerly an aide to Abdullah Badawi, the previous Umno president and premier. But as the heat of speculation grew that he was a front for Umno, his candidacy was suddenly pulled back for ‘technical errors’, sparking talk that his case had become too obvious and would embarrass Umno.

As for Kamarul, president of unknown Parti Iman Semalaysia, this is his second outing as an Independent in as many months. In April, he secured only 62 votes in the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election, eventually won by Pakatan Perak Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin.

Said Kamarul: “I want to promote the system of sekolah pondok (a religious primary schooling system) to the world and hope that private sector and individuals can help to develop this pondok in Penanti.”

Kamarul admits that to participate in any by-election, a candidate would need to stump out at least RM30,000 to RM40,000.

Said Saifuddin Nasution, PKR election director: “We cannot sit on our laurels thinking that a win is a mere formality. We have to work for it.”