Saturday, June 30, 2012

The proposed redevelopment of Waller Court Flats- Local Council needs to discuss with the residents before any redevelopment takes place.

Media statement by M.Kula Segaran DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat at Majilis Bandaraya Ipoh on 29thJune 2012. 

The proposed redevelopment of Waller Court Flats- Local Council needs to discuss with the residents before any redevelopment takes place. 

Waller Court , one of the most well known land marks of the City,  will go up for redevelopment soon.
Waller Court was constructed in 1964 with 519 flats and with 36 shop lots. These flats are mainly with single and double room units. These flats cater exclusively for the lower income group with monthly rentals of only RM70 and above. We are given to understand these flats are presently only 60% occupied. 

Due to lack of maintenance and age,  the Waller Court flats need more than a face lift. 

In 2002, the Local Council (MBI) came out with a proposal to redevelop these flats and relocate the residents to Lahat. 

The DAP then led a “Save the Waller Court Campaign” and the following resolutions were adopted at a residents’ meeting, namely:-

1.     That we the tenants object to the redevelopment of Waller Court into a commercial complex and the forced eviction of occupants to elsewhere
2.     That we disagree with the City Hall suggestion for the tenants to purchase the proposed RM35,000 low cost houses at Lahat Baru as the proposed location is inconvenient and far from the city.
3.     That we urge DBI to renovate repair and maintain the Flats and continue to rent or sell them to the present tenants.

We handed over the above resolutions to the local Council and after a few meetings, the Local l Council agreed to abort the plans to redevelop this area.
In early March 2012,  the DAP led by my Political Secretary Sdr. Chong Chee King, Jermy Chuah and  Sdr. Wasoo (political secretaries) with a team of helpers and volunteers did a survey on the proposed redevelopment of Waller Court over two months period. The Waller Court Committee led by  Sdr. Wong Wai Fook  and his committee assisted us in the survey.  

We are here today to with the people of Waller Court to hand over a memorandum of the survey on this issue to the MBI.

The residents of Waller Court want to know the detail of the proposed redevelopment of Waller Court . There has been no direct discussion with the residents on the redevelopment exercise. 

Among the issues that MBI needs to explain are: 
1) Who will redevelop the Waller Court flats?
2) during the process of redevelopment where will the tenants be located? 
3) how long will the redevelopment take place and will the flats be rented or sold to the residents? 
4) Why as to date there has been no discussion with the tenants and the MBI. All information on the redevelopment has been from news papers. 

We are now told that to redevelop the Waller Court , it will cost over RM30 million. 
The people of Ipoh would like to know: 
1)      Who will be forking out the RM30 million? 
2)      As the Waller Court is sitting on 8 acres of prime real property land worth millions of ringgit,  how will the rate payers of Ipoh benefit from this redevelopment?  
3)      Who will be redeveloping Waller Court ? If private companies are involved,  the public need to be informed of the details of the terms of the redevelopment. 
4)      will Full details of the redevelopment be disclosed? 

The MBI must be custodian and acting for the benefit of the rate payers of Ipoh . MBI must adhere to the requirements of Local Agenda 21 and have open discussion on the proposed redevelopment of Waller Court soonest possible. 

The DAP is more than  willing to assist all in this process. 

No allegiance owed to BN, Pakatan tells civil servants

No allegiance owed to BN, Pakatan tells civil servants

June 30, 2012
Malaysian Insider
Lim said it must not be assumed that civil servants will blindly follow the recent prompting for them to back BN in the elections. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders reminded the country’s 1.4 million civil servants today that they should “be loyal to the country, the King and the Federal Constitution and not to the ruling party,” amid recent concerns about the lack of impartiality among senior government officials. “They (civil servants) must remember that the government of the day can change. These political parties that form the government of the day, they can come and go.

“So if these parties that rule, if they go into the wilderness, do you follow them? No. You still remain a civil servant and your loyalty is to serve the public professionally,” DAP national deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw told The Malaysian Insider.

Newly-appointed Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Ali Hamsa had recently raised eyebrows when he told his new charges that they “should know better” than to believe the “empty promises” made by the opposition.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Ali had clearly got off to a “bad start” with his statement.
“That was out of line. This is the first time that a KSN (Chief Secretary) has done that. He got off to a bad start here,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The DAP secretary-general, who also sits as a lawmaker in Parliament, reminded Ali that as the country’s top civil servant, he should be particularly respectful of the Federal Constitution.

“And the opposition, which he is telling his charges not to believe in, is entitled to gain the same respect (as the ruling party). We are the loyal opposition to His Majesty’s government,” Lim pointed out.

The Bagan MP said politics must be kept out of the civil service, and disagreed with Ali’s assertion that that the loyalty of public servants lies with the ruling party of the day.

“We must be loyal to the country, the Federal Constitution and the King. We are not to be loyal to the ruling party. At the same time, they cannot tread into politics,” he said.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar concurred with Lim, adding that “loyalty to the nation” should never be equated as “loyalty to Umno and BN”.

She acknowledged that public servants are duty bound to serve the government of the day, as per the General Orders they follow, but she reminded that their duty was also to “serve professionally”.

“They are not to be made tools and servants of the current government... especially when it does not have their interest at heart,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

“They must implement policies cleanly, effectively and with accountability and transparency — that is what the civil service should be,” Dr Tan agreed.

The 1.4-million-strong public sector has been a traditional vote bank for BN but the controversy over a new pay scheme and attacks on the ruling parties by PR over bread-and-butter issues may offer the federal opposition a glimmer of hope in the coming polls.

But recent days have seen top government officials go on an apparent overdrive to protect the BN government they serve.

Apart from Ali’s message to the civil service, Foreign Ministry undersecretary Ahmad Rozian Abdul Ghani recently attacked a Canadian newspaper for describing Najib as a “false democrat,” and insisted that the prime minister had “an impressive track record by anyone’s standards”.

“While the prime minister takes nothing for granted, he hopes he will be given a mandate to continue Malaysia’s transformation,” the diplomat added, appearing to campaign for the country’s sixth prime minister who is due to call for polls within months.

A director at Putrajaya’s efficiency unit, Pemandu, also made a public attack on PR on Wednesday for not improving the states it governs and focusing on sniping and criticising the federal government’s efforts.

“All oppos do is snipe & critic wot is being done but not focused on improving their states! Wot hv they done??” communications director Alex Iskandar Liew said on his public account on micro-blogging site Twitter, copying @barisannasional and @NRC11, a fan club dedicated to the prime minister.

But despite this, Lim believed these subtle messages infiltrating into the civil service may be falling on deaf ears.

“I don’t think we should underestimate the intelligence of our civil servants,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
“They may be compelled and forced to carry out their duties because they are instructed to do so. But once they retire, you see many of them joining the opposition,” he pointed out.

Lim pointed out that it is not easy for civil servants to go against an order they have received from above if they felt it was wrong.

“It is also not easy for them to just resign. It affects their rice bowls, after all,” he said.

But this, he added, does not mean that civil servants will necessarily cast their votes for BN when stand before the ballot boxes

“Do not underestimate their intelligence,” he repeated.

Friday, June 29, 2012

GE13 battle between racialists and patriots, says Kit Siang

GE13 battle between racialists and patriots, says Kit Siang

June 29, 2012
Malaysian Insider
Lim said the coming election was an opportunity for Malaysians to reject racial compartmentalisation. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Voters must choose between a government that promotes racial policies and one that espouses democracy, good governance and equitable economic practices in the coming general election, the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang has said.
 The opposition leader said today that Malaysians of all cultural, social and economic backgrounds have the power to determine their country’s future at the ballot box, a day after influential former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad played up old race-based fears ahead of the 13th general election (GE13) due within a year.
“The next general election is not a battle between Malays and non-Malay voters, but between racialists who want to continue to keep Malaysians in their separate communal compartments and Malaysian nationalists and patriots who want good governance, economic justice, democracy, human rights and national unity and not race to become the dominant election issues,” Lim said in a statement.

“Malaysians have the chance to show that they have become more Malaysian-minded and patriotic than the Umno and Barisan Nasional leaders and will respond and rally to Pakatan Rakyat’s call to vote as Malaysians than just as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans,” he added.

The Ipoh-Timor MP was responding to Dr Mahathir’s remarks yesterday, in which the fourth PM said the next election was all about race, adding that Chinese voters would be the “kingmakers” despite being in the minority because the Malay vote would be split three-ways among Umno, the BN’s lynchpin party, and opposition parties PKR and PAS.

The country’s longest-serving PM of 22 years had told a business forum yesterday that the ruling coalition was forced to cater to various racial demands because it had grown weak after he left office and lost its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament.

“In this country, we are very racist, even more than before. The next election is going to be about race. Who gives what, who gets what based on race. When the government is weak, it caters to demands which are not going to be good for the country in the long run,” said the prime minister who resigned in 2003.

Lim called on Malaysian voters to prove Dr Mahathir and Umno strategists wrong.

“This is what (Dr) Mahathir and the Umno leaders and strategists want the next general election to be about so that they could play the race and fear cards to effect,” said the federal lawmaker who had bumped heads numerous times in Parliament against the 86-year-old Umno man.

An Umno lawmaker had suggested this week that Bersih leader Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan be hanged for “treason” against the King for pushing the federal government to clean up the existing voter roll of dubious entries before calling for elections.

His statement in Parliament was greeted with cheers from other BN backbenchers, prompting the DAP to hit out at them for perpetuating racial hatred.

Opposition politicians and several prominent business and human rights personalities have criticised the BN — in which its top three senior parties are split according to race — and, more specifically, Umno of taking a racial approach in resolving the country’s social and economic problems.

They raised as example the strong resistance by right-wing elements within the establishment to the dismantling of a decades-old affirmative action policy giving Malays a handicap over other races in areas covering economy and even education, leading to a massive brain drain out of Malaysia.

Lim said the reality was that the Chinese, who make up some 30 per cent of the population, were not “kingmakers” and did not want to be labelled as such.

“The real kingmakers in the 13th general election are not the Chinese voters but all Malaysian voters,
whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans to unite and bring about peaceful transition of federal power for the first time in the 54-year history of the nation to end corruption, cronyism and abuses of power,” Lim said.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Speaker slams MPs for using Parliament as soap box

Speaker slams MPs for using Parliament as soap box

June 27, 2012
Pandikar told the lawmakers to stick to discussing the topics at hand. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has rapped members of parliament who like to play politics when speaking in Dewan Rakyat, describing it as “wasting the dewan’s time.” He said they should make full use of the opportunity given to talk on the relevant subjects especially during the question and answer session.

“Talking without content for a long period of time is the same as giving a short speech. Please consider the officials who have to wait here until 12 (midnight) for Dewan business to be over.

“Every one will jump if I limit the time (for debate), but when given the chance, you want to play politics. Enough. (Don’t) play politics in the Dewan, leave it outside where you can also go without sleep (playing politics),” he said.

Earlier, Pandikar criticised M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) who asked Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar a supplementary question and accused the ministry of carrying out programmes involving only members of Umno.

Kulasegaran’s relentless accusations, which sought to shame the minister personally and several other members of parliament, also drew the ire of Pandikar who ordered him to sit down.

“I am very patient at this sitting. I will call anybody to ask questions, but if you do like Ipoh Barat, don’t blame me if I don’t call you anymore in future. Because, every question which I hear from Yang Berhormat (Kulasegaran) must have a political connotation. Can’t you do away with that first?” he said.

Datuk Ibrahim Ali (Ind-Pasir Mas) who stood up to remind Pandikar not to give any more leeway to Kulasegaran was also rebuked when the Speaker said: “Pasir Mas, I did not invite Pasir Mas (to stand up and give a speech).” — Bernama

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Treason is giving away citizenship for votes, says Ambiga

Treason is giving away citizenship for votes, says Ambiga

June 27, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Treason is giving away citizenship for votes at the ballot box and not asking for clean elections, Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said today, a day after an Umno MP called for her to be hanged.

The prominent lawyer-activist has led the call for the federal government to reform the election process and rid voter roll of dubious entries, for which she has been repeatedly branded a "traitor" by right-wing elements within the pro-Barisan Nasional (BN) establishment. They have also demanded for her citizenship to be stripped.

But an Umno lawmaker went a step further yesterday and called for Ambiga (picture) to be hanged for pushing electoral reforms through two street demonstrations, which the Najib administration has said was a bid to topple the government.

“Shouldn’t we also hang Ambiga for treason towards the (Yang diPertuan) Agong? Traitors should be punished as harshly as possible,” Sri Gading MP Datuk Mohamad Aziz said in Parliament last night, referring to the violent spectacle in the nation's capital after the April 28 Bersih rally.

The four-term federal lawmaker had compared Ambiga to leaders of the Al-Ma’unah militants who tried to overthrow the government in 2000 and were eventually sentenced to death by hanging for “waging war against the King,” the first people to be convicted of the offence.

“‘Off with her head!!’ Sounds like Alice in Wonderland! The statement, of course, reflects more on the maker than on me,” Ambiga said in response to Mohamad’s remark.

“But seriously, I have a question for this MP. Are the reforms sought by Bersih going to be fully implemented before the 13th GE?” she asked, in an emailed reply to The Malaysian Insider.

She pointed out that the rumoured early 13th general election no longer appeared to be on the cards, allowing the Najib administration time to meet Bersih’s eight demands, which include cleaning up the electoral roll ahead of polls.

“The offer by civil society to help with the cleaning up of the electoral roll still stands, and as he is an elected MP, I believe the public would be more interested in his response to these critical questions,” Ambiga said.
She added: “As for treason, asking for free and fair elections is not treason. Giving away citizenship for votes is.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Continued rule by BN will only mean further ruins for this beloved country.

Speech by M Kula Segaran, DAP National vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat at DAP Ceramah held at Kuala Kangsar road, Perak on Saturday, June 23, 2012.

Continued rule by BN will only mean further ruins for this beloved country. 

At the recent Umno 66th party anniversary celebration, Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib said that he felt like seeing the Agung the next day to advise dissolution of Parliament.

But everyone present knew he was only joking or cakap syok sendiri only as even Umno members knew that one of Najib’s biggest headaches since becoming the Prime Minister is to decide when will be the best timing to call for the nation’s 13 th general election.

A new Prime Minister will normally call for dissolution of parliament within 6 months of assuming office so as to take advantage of the usual “honeymoon period” and to seek  a mandate of his own from the people .

However, Najib has not been able to find a suitable timing after having been the Prime Minister for more than 3 years.

The reason is simple, he is not confident of BN’s electoral performance in the next general election.

There is no doubt that Najib’s administration has made unprecedented splash of money on the public in its efforts to woo the people’s support.

Yet Najib is not confident of BN’s electoral performance because he knows politics in Malaysia has changed since the 2008 general election.

Still, being desperate, the BN government will still resort to all possible tactics. One of these will be the scare tactic.

When opening the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCIM) 66th annual general meeting a few days ago, Najib warned the Chinese business community that their assets and wealth may “evaporate” unless there is “political certainty and stability”.

Such warning clearly shows that BN is becoming desperate and is therefore prepared to resort to politics of threat.

Malaysians who yearn for change must not be fearful of such threat. Instead we should all think of the brave decision of the Penang people in the 2008 general election.

Gerakan had always frightened the people by saying that a weakened Chinese Chief Minister would not be able to protect the Chinese interest.

In the 2008 general election, the Penang voters felt that the best way was to have a new chief minister and a new chief minister in Lim Guan Eng was born.

Today, despite having been in office for only a few years, Penang Pakatan Rakyat government has outperformed the previous BN governments in so many ways and aspects.

The assets and wealth of the people do not evaporate.

I dare say that BN’s politics of threat will no longer work and I challenge the Prime Minister to fight the Opposition fair and square in the next general election.

Since Najib has talked so much about transformation and reforms, he should walk his talk.

A true reformist will not resort to language and politics of threat to win election.

A true reformist will accept Bersih‘s demands for free and fair elections.

But time has proven that BN government cannot change. Continued rule by BN will only mean further ruins for this beloved country.

So come the next general election, Malaysians should rise to the occasion and vote for total change to bring about A Better Malaysia for All.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Is Najib prepared to declare that those who regard Chinese and Indians as “kaum pendatang” are lunatic, anti-national, must be condemned by all patriotic Malaysians and will have no place in Malaysian politics or public service?

Is Najib prepared to declare that those who regard Chinese and Indians as “kaum pendatang” are lunatic, anti-national, must be condemned by all patriotic Malaysians and will have no place in Malaysian politics or public service?

--Lim Kit Siang 

June 25, 2012.

In trying to downplay the “pendatang” (immigrants) slur oft made against non-Malay Malaysians, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is admitting to two things:

• Firstly, the failure of his 1Malaysia Policy which he announced when he became Prime Minister 39 months ago with the objective to create a Malaysia where every Malaysian regard himself or herself as Malaysian first and race, religion, region and socio-economic status second;

• Secondly, his inability and impotence to do anything to counter and wipe out this divisive and insidious mindset which perpetuates a false, mischievous and anti-national division of Malaysians, which is particularly ludicrous when the first-generation local born of one community could call on a fourth, fifth or sixth-generation local born of another community to “balik China” or “balik India”!

In his dialogue with Chinese youths at University Malaya yesterday, Najib urged the Chinese community not to be offended by people who call them pendatang (immigrants) because such remarks are made by a handful of “lunatics” with “loose screws”.

He said those who utter such remarks intentionally say so to hurt the feelings of the Chinese community and that his administration does not share such views.

He said: “I hope we are not too hurt by one or two comments. In every community, there are always one or two individuals whose heads are not quite right.”

Najib’s answer would be most assuring if it is true that it is only “one or two lunatics” with “loose screws” who made such offensive, insidious and anti-national remarks.

However, this is not the case.

In actual fact, the “pendatang” slur is most potent proof of the failure of Malaysian nation-building in the past five decades as well Najib’s 1Malaysia policy, as it is not confined to “one or two lunatics” but infected the highest levels of politics and government because of decades of Biro Tata Negara (BTN) indoctrination of civil servants and public officers.

Najib’s own special officer to the Prime Minister, Datuk Nasir Safar for instance had labeled Indians and Chinese as “pendatang” and added insult to injury in declaring that “Indians came to Malaysia as beggars and Chinese especially women came to sell their bodies”.

Two years ago, at the launch of the Merdeka celebrations of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Kulai, the school principal Hajah Siti Inshah binti Monsar said:

“Pelajar-pelajar Cina tidak diperlukan dan boleh balik ke China ataupun Sekolah Foon Yew. Bagi pelajar India, tali sembahyang yang diikat di pergelangan tangan dan leher pelajar nampak seakan anjing dan hanya anjing akan mengikat seperti itu.”

Malaysians of course still remember the incident in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election in August 2008 where an UMNO division chief referred to the Malaysian Chinese as pendatang orang tumpang and totally untrustworthy Malaysians.

The “pendatang” slur is not the result of “loose screws” of “one or two lunatics” but the result of decades of the poison of anti-national indoctrination by state agencies like the BTN perpetuating Malaysians into two classes of people.

What has the Najib administration done under its 1Malaysia policy to develop an official policy backed up by a national consensus that only “lunatics” with “screws loose” would make the “pendatang” slur, and classifying it as a divisive, treacherous and anti-national point of view which must be condemned by all patriotic and rational Malaysians?

Malaysia will be celebrating our 55th National Day on August 31. Is Najib prepared to send out a clear and unmistakable message that in line with his 1Malaysia policy, those who continue to regard the Chinese and Indians as “kaum pendatang” are lunatic, positively anti-national who must be condemned by all rational and patriotic Malaysians in unequivocal terms and who should have no place in Malaysian politics or public service?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Crime: Perception and publicity — The Malaysian Insider

Crime: Perception and publicity — The Malaysian Insider

June 24, 2012
JUNE 24 — Datuk Seri Idris Jala has a tough job, to manage the performance and delivery of key government initiatives and targets from the economy to cutting index crime.

So, the minister and the PEMANDU chief executive has to work with the private and public sector on all these targets.

But telling the media how to report crime — be it solved or unsolved — isn’t really his brief. That’s just window-dressing, and there’s a limit to window-dressing, don’t you think?

The Sunday Star today carried an interview with Jala, where he called on the media to play its role in fighting crime and help arrest the “doom and gloom” by reporting on solved cases and not sensationalising crime by repeatedly reporting the same news.

“They should work closely with the police on communicating the cases that they have successfully solved. Sometimes, we need to arrest the doom and gloom by also focusing on the positives.

“If the statistics are not convincing, perhaps then we should try to dwell into how the police were able to bring the crime rates down in a specific area, for example, one of the hotspots,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Putrajaya’s efficiency unit has staunchly defended statistics showing street crime has fallen by 40 per cent in the past two years despite a recent spate of high-profile kidnappings and assaults.

These cases in the Klang Valley, one of which has left a teacher fighting for her life, have led to questions over PEMANDU’s claim that crime dropped by 11.1 per cent last year with street crime falling by 39.7 per cent in the last two years since crime reduction was made a National Key Result Area (NKRA) in 2010.
Yes, police statistics, where available, are pretty impressive.

But even within government circles and among some Cabinet ministers, there is little belief in PEMANDU’s figures or statistics.
Numbers don’t tell the stories that people pass on to each other, the violence and the fear among those who have been robbed in broad daylight or in the wee hours of the morning in what are supposedly safe areas.
In addition, there are several hundred thousand foreign security guards who protect Malaysian neighbourhoods, some which are now gated but still report incidents of crime.

It is an open secret that a fair number of Malaysians have lost trust in the police force and therefore don’t report crimes when they happen. Or often enough, are discouraged from reporting petty crime.

So instead of lecturing the media on what to do and what not to, Jala and his colleagues in PEMANDU should step off their pedestal and acknowledge that window dressing and cosmetic change have their limits.
Malaysians don’t feel safe, and it doesn’t matter if the mass media reports it or not. There is enough social media to put flesh to the bare bones that statistics do to explain the crime rate in the country.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Malaysia's human rights abuses highlighted at UN

Malaysia's human rights abuses highlighted at UN
  • Yolanda Augustin
  • 11:24AM Jun 23, 2012
COMMENT A team of civil society activists from Suaram, Bersih, Empower and Aliran wrapped up a week-long visit to the 20th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today.

Their aim was to highlight human rights violations in Malaysia, in particular the clampdown on freedom of assembly, association and expression and police brutality at the Bersih 3.0 rally in April.

During the week the team took the opportunity to brief various UN Special Rapporteurs, country specific permanent missions and human rights organisations on deteriorating conditions in Malaysia.

NONEEarlier this month, Maina Kiai, (left) special rapporteur for freedom of assembly and association issued a joint press statement together with Frank La Rue and Margaret Soakage, the special rapporteurs on the right to freedom of expression and the situation of human rights defenders, requesting an invitation to conduct an independent inquiry into the human rights abuses during Bersih 3.0. To date, the Malaysian government has failed to respond.

Consequently, it was welcomed when Maina Kiai's gave special mention of the deteriorating human rights situation in Malaysia in his address to the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday specifically in respect of a worrying worldwide trend whereby governments were using legislative powers to restrict and suppress the rights of the citizens, particularly in relation to freedom of assembly and association.

At a parallel event, Kiai, reiterated that he took the human rights violations in Malaysia very seriously, saying, "...the state cannot lose its duty to protect people, protestors alike..." In response to questions posed by Suaram's executive director Nalini Elumalai, he repeated his request for an invitation by the Malaysian government to visit the country ahead of the 13th general election.

Rights abuses under UN microscope
On Wednesday June 20, 2012, Suaram held a successful parallel event bringing together leading Malaysian human rights defenders to discuss the Malaysian government's human rights abuses and international human rights obligations.

Nalini and Maria Chin Abdullah detailed the increasing incidents of government limitations on the freedoms of expression, information, peaceful assembly and association.

A Samad Said and Ambiga Sreenevasan, both co-chairs of Bersih 2.0, delivered video messages concerning electoral fraud and police brutality.

Baru Bian, Sarawakian parliamentarian and land rights lawyer, also provided an important perspective on the harassment and intimidation faced by human rights defenders seeking to protect native customary rights in Sarawak and the government's complicity in human rights violations by logging companies especially in Penan.

bersih 3 rally 090512 02 tear gas near dataran merdekaParticipants were also shown video clips of the police brutality against protesters at the Bersih 3.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur, including the disproportionate use of tear gas, water cannons, arbitrary beatings and media censorship.

The following day Nalini delivered an oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of Forum-Asia.

She highlighted the severe restrictions imposed on freedom of assembly by the Malaysian government through the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) which includes prohibitions on street protests, the organisation and participation in peaceful assemblies by non-citizens, the organisation of assemblies by persons below the age of 21 and the participation in peaceful assemblies of children below the age of fifteen years.

She also highlighted the onerous responsibilities placed on the organisers of assemblies, contrary to the recommendation of the UN Special Rapporteur that "assembly organisers and participants should not be held responsible and liable for the violent behaviour of others".

She called on the government of Malaysia to repeal the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, and to fulfil its obligation to actively protect peaceful assemblies.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Suhakam, also made an oral intervention. The commission shared the special rapporteur's concern over peaceful assemblies ‘that were either not allowed or violently dispersed' in several countries, including Malaysia.

The commission affirmed the fact that "while peace and public order need to be maintained at all times, peaceful assemblies must be recognised as a legitimate democratic means for the public to express themselves."

The commission also reiterated that the authorities remain responsible or assisting and facilitating the assembly process and that "action taken against provocateurs and counter demonstrators must not impede with the rights of other peaceful demonstrators."

NONEThe commission also highlighted the fact that the PAA imposes too many restrictions and conditions in the organisation of such assemblies and noted that the government had recently instituted a court action against the organisers of the Bersih 3.0 rally for damages that were allegedly sustained during the rally on April 28, 2012.

The commission concluded, "such actions by the government might discourage future assemblies and absolve the authorities of their responsibility to maintain peace and order."

Stepping up the exposure of Malaysia's human rights violations in the international arena forms a part of a wider strategy to hold the Malaysian government to account for its poor human rights record in the run up to Malaysia 's Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations in 2013.

Maria, executive director of Empower and Bersih steering committee member, highlighted the recent violence at Bersih 3.0 and raised the issue of the responsibilities of the state in ensuring the safety of those exercising their right to peaceful protest.

NONEShe also raised the issue of the recent intimidation, harassment and personal attacks against S Ambiga, (right) including those by the Traders Action Council, intent on laying claimed financial losses at the door of the rally organisers.

Kiai responded robustly: "...public space has as much right to be used by protesters as anyone else..." and urged for "one standard" - that peaceful protests be treated fairly whether or not the demonstration is in favour of the government, without bias or favouritism.

"Moreover, it was the responsibility of the state to ensure a peaceful and safe environment for any demonstrators; this responsibility cannot be transferred wholly to the organisers.

YOLANDA AUGUSTIN is a Malaysian doctor training in the United Kingdom.

Mahathir’s remarks cause for concern — Lim Sue Goan

June 22, 2012
Malaysain Insider
JUNE 22 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has made many shocking statements after leaving office. In January 2010, he claimed that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were staged by the US government.

In a recent speech, he openly criticised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s liberalisation policy. He said that the government was too soft in handling the Bersih rally and warned that too much freedom risked stirring an ethnic hornet’s nest. He later implied that he was not impressed by the government’s gesture to revive a Chinese independent school in Kuantan, believing that the vernacular school system has divided the country.

We should not overly discuss Mahathir’s remarks since he is no longer in office. However, it is worrying that his remarks might trigger the nerves of the party’s hawks and conservatives, resulting in more obstacles to the work of reviving the Chinese independent school in Kuantan.

During his administration, Mahathir adopted the authoritative style of leadership, which led to many disgraceful events, including Operation Lalang, suspension of judges and the movement to save government enterprises. Therefore, it has been expected that he would not agree with Najib’s transformation plans.

However, Najib is the prime minister candidate of his choice. He did not severely criticise Najib like how he did Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Has he lost control recently?

Mahathir is opposed to openness and liberalisation. It shows that he has fallen behind the times. Democratisation is now a general trend, something which can’t by stopped by individuals, political parties or even governments.

He said that racial confrontation has become more intense nowadays and changes brought by liberalisation could inflame Malays. He wants to make liberalisation the scapegoat. Inharmonious racial relations are a result of racial politics, which has reduced mutual trust among the people. And he cannot not shirk the responsibility.
There are racial problems in the US and other democratic countries, too. However, black slavery might not have been overthrown without the help of democracy and the country might be facing a more serious racial problem today. A democratic system allows the Americans to openly debate, fight and resolve sensitive issues, preventing contradictions from turning into conflicts.

Therefore, liberalisation is not the cause of racial polarisation. Without liberalisation, the country would not be able to retain talents and attract foreign investment, causing the economy to shrink. The country will fail to move forward and the people will turn conservative and extreme.

Similarly, vernacular schools are not the obstacles of communication among young people. Instead, it is politics that has caused mistrust among them.

Vernacular schools show the country’s advantage of diversity. If mother-tongue education is suppressed for so-called national unity, it is actually just turning the clock back.

Najib’s transformation plans are heading in the right direction. The country will never get rid of the middle-income trap without liberalisation. The BN and Umno might not be able to keep power in the next general election without democratisation.

Even Myanmar has announced a second round of reforms to attract foreign investment. We have no reason to continue implementing a protection policy.

However, some people, particularly people living in remote areas, still believe in Mahathir, while the conservatives and hawks who have kept quiet “for the sake of the overall situation” might also have received orders.

Hopefully, all these are just unfounded speculation and the country will not stop its pace of transformation. Otherwise, we might fall into troubled times even before the election is scheduled. —

Friday, June 22, 2012

JAWI ignores justice and fairness — P. Ramakrishnan

JAWI ignores justice and fairness — P. Ramakrishnan

June 22, 2012
Malaysian Insider

JUNE 22 — Justice and fairness is the much emphasised virtue in the Islamic faith and tradition. There is no dispute regarding this. But does the Jabatan Agama Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) project this virtue in its conduct and deed? This is disputable.

The Barisan government for reasons known only to itself banned the book “Allah, Liberty and Love” by the Canadian author Irshad Manji. The book was apparently banned on May 29, 2012 and this was made public 16 days later on June 14, 2012.

But before the book was officially banned, JAWI officials raided the Borders bookshop at The Gardens Mall in Mid-Valley City, Kuala Lumpur on May 23, 2012 and seized these books that were on sale. This raid took place six days before the book in question was officially banned.

In other words at the time of the raid there was no ban and no announcement that these books should not be sold. There was no justification for the raid. There was no fatwa issued by JAWI prohibiting the sale of these books. There were, therefore, no grounds for JAWI to act. Under the circumstance, the only conclusion that could logically prevail is that it was legitimate to sell these books on May 23, 2012.

The day following the raid, JAWI officials came again to the shop accompanied by members of the media and questioned another female Muslim employee of Borders. When she informed them that the books had been removed from the shelf as directed by JAWI the previous day, she was unjustly accused of lying.

On what basis they refused to believe this Muslim woman is beyond comprehension. The JAWI officials searched the premises thoroughly but found no evidence or trace of the book. They did not apologise to the Muslim woman for not believing her version of the truth. That would have been the decent thing to do.

On June 19, 2012, strangely the manager of the bookshop, Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz, was charged by JAWI in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court under section 13(1) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 for distributing Irshad Manji’s book which was deemed to be against Islamic law. If convicted Nik Raina faces a RM3,000 fine or a maximum of two years’ jail or both.

But the fact was no such books were distributed or sold after May 23, 2012. This episode exposes the officials of JAWI as not living up to justice and fairness — the core value in the Islamic faith.
They were not just and fair in their conduct in this instance:

● It was not just and fair to charge Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz simply because the book in question was not banned on May 23. Under the law, Borders bookshop was justified in selling the books on that day. It was a legitimate transaction of a registered entity.

● It was not just and fair that the female Muslim employee was accused of lying without any proof. In fact, the search that was conducted in the bookshop produced no trace of the book in the premises.

● It was not just and fair that on May 30, 2012, when Nik Raina — together with two other colleagues and accompanied by a Borders-appointed lawyer — turned up to attend an investigation by JAWI, they were treated roughly and issued with an arrest warrant. They had turned up in compliance with the directives issued by JAWI. There was no justification for this conduct.

● It was not just and fair that Nik Raina was denied legal representation. This is a serious violation of her human right to legal counsel.

● It was not just and fair that both the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Islamic Affairs, Senator Major-General Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, did not respond to Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, which had sought their assistance and intervention on June 5 with regard to JAWI’s action.

Berjaya has rightly applied to the High Court on June 18 for a judicial review.
It is our sincere hope that the High Court would rule on the side of justice and fairness.
But what is disturbing is that the prime minister has not uttered a word in an issue that is glaringly unjust and unfair. Keeping a not-so-elegant silence may be construed as concurring with the unjust action of JAWI.

Our former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir, who seems never lost for words in commenting on issues and who finds it difficult to hold his peace, has not uttered a word on this glaring violation of fundamental rights. -

* P. Ramakrishnan is an Aliran executive committee member.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

PEMANDU exaggerating ETP’s investment figures, REFSA claims

PEMANDU exaggerating ETP’s investment figures, REFSA claims

June 21, 2012
Malaysian Insider 
KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — Putrajaya’s efficiency unit had exaggerated the RM179 billion figure in total investments recorded last year under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), a think-tank alleged today, saying the number of “actual investments” received in 2011 only totalled RM12.9 billion.

The opposition-linked Research for Social Advancement (REFSA) think-tank, which has published a series of critiques on the ETP that aims to double per capita income by 2020, disclosed in a focus paper today that the government’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) had downplayed the fact that RM179 billion was merely the total “committed investments” for last year and not the “actual investments”.

It said that a Maybank report in April this year had pointed out that only RM12.9 billion of investments had actually been realised in Malaysia last year, a far cry from the RM179 billion boasted by PEMANDU.
“The gap between actual and committed investments is huge,” REFSA wrote in Part 3 of its focus paper, which dissects the ETP’s recently released 2011 Annual Report.

Further to this, REFSA also pointed out that in the ETP report, PEMANDU had appeared to claim credit by boasting that the total private investments of RM94 billion in 2011 was 113 per cent above its target.
“PEMANDU is stealing credit again,” the research body complained, pointing again to the RM12.9 billion “actual investment” figure for last year, which it says encompasses both private and government-linked investments.

“So PEMANDU deserves very little credit for the RM94 billion private investments actually achieved across the whole country,” it said.

Next, REFSA accused PEMANDU of shifting goal posts, pointing out that the efficiency unit had claimed that its target for private investments was RM83 billion, when the Finance Ministry had already in 2010 stated a RM86 billion target.

“Why is PEMANDU, which is supposed to be adding value and transforming the economy, targeting a level lower than that anticipated by the ministry? In fact, PEMANDU’s professed RM83 billion target is equivalent to a paltry 2.7 per cent growth in real private investment,” REFSA said.

The think-tank also drew doubts over the RM179 billion figure in “committed investments”, claiming to have found at least five Entry Point Projects (EPPs) under the ETP worth RM17 billion where the ultimate investment may be less than promised.

“At least two big ticket private sector EPPs — Karambunai Integrated Resort and Tanjong Agas Oil & Gas Hub — may not deliver as much economic transformation or investments as PEMANDU would like us to believe,” it said.

As an example, REFSA said that PEMANDU had given itself a 110 per cent score in its KPI for the villa pre-bookings at the RM9.6 billion Karambunai resort even though the project developer is being sued for defaulting on RM18 million in rental payments.

Karambunai Corp, it said, is currently the subject of legal suits mounted by some 100 investors in the Nexus Residence development in Kota Kinabalu. The investors, who had bought luxury beachfront properties which were completed in 2009, are claiming that the company is nearly one year in arrears of rental payments due to them.

REFSA also drew question marks over investment targets identified for the Tanjong Agas Oil & Gas hub in Pekan, Pahang, saying the ETP report had touched very little on the project’s progress so far.

It said that while PEMANDU had in November 2010 said that RM3 billion of investments was expected in the industrial park between last year and this year, the ETP report had gone on to proclaim that total investment of RM30 billion was expected in the next decade.

“The validity of this assertion is questionable, given that the very same Annual Report says little about progress so far,” REFSA said.

“Two other projects under this EPP with foreign partners — in Pengerang, Johor and Pulau Daat , Labuan — were cited as achievements. But nothing was said about the RM620 investment commitment into Tanjong Agas by the Dubai-based Oilfield Supply Center (OSC) announced in October 2010,” it added.

REFSA also alleged that based on present figures, it was clearly shown that private enterprises are rejecting the ETP, only contributing some 37 per cent to the total number of investments here.

The private sector, it added, is targeted to account for at least 60 per cent of ETP investments in the 8:32:60 ratio of investments from the government, GLCs and the private sector.

“We reiterate our call: PEMANDU must take the bull by the horns and address the root causes of why the private sector has little confidence in the long-term potential of the country to invest capital in the so-called shovel-ready projects under the ETP,” REFSA said.

It added that if private sector investment is lagging, “hiding” behind different sets of data would not help Malaysia achieve its high-income nation status.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An open letter to Datuk Kayveas — Tan Zhong Yan

An open letter to Datuk Kayveas — Tan Zhong Yan

June 18, 2012
Malaysian Insider
JUNE 18 —
 Dear Datuk Kayveas,

I, as part of a younger generation of Malaysians and a participant of Bersih 3.0, am totally disappointed with your statement which states that 99 per cent of those who went for the sit-in demonstration did not know why they were there and that they were paid. Your statement is not only absurd and irresponsible but also insulting.

If the people do not know the purpose of the sit-in demonstration, why would they want to waste their time? Were they there to get a taste of the tear gas, water cannons and how it feels to be beaten up by the police?
I would like to tell you that I was there; neither because my parents asked me to (in fact, I am the one who asked my dad to tag along) nor because I was paid. I was there because I was aware of the fact that elections in Malaysia are not clean, free or fair. I was there because I fully understand that we need clean, free and fair elections. Only clean, free and fair elections will guarantee a better future. Only clean, free and fair elections will make Malaysia a true democracy.

And if I, as a youth with normal intelligence, am able to understand this, I truly believe that at least 99 per cent of all Malaysians will be able to understand this as well. Therefore, I believe at least 99 per cent of those who went to the rally do understand the purpose of the demonstration.

You say that 99 per cent of those tens of thousands who went to the rally do not understand why they were there and they were there because of money, and if what you say were true, then perhaps we should blame the government and the Malaysian education system for producing such a stupid and ignorant bunch of citizens.

Therefore, I, as a Malaysian, would like to demand that you apologise sincerely to all Malaysians, specifically to the participants of Bersih 3.0 for your absurd, irresponsible and insulting statement.

You have insulted the intelligence of the people for saying that they did not know what they were doing. You have insulted the people for saying that they were there because they were paid. I would like to tell you that we, the ordinary citizens of Malaysia, are not like those kataks in politics who can be bought with money nor are we prostitutes who will betray ourselves just for money.

So, please stop insulting us!

Tan Zhong Yan

Penang to buy land for Rumah Hijau low-cost housing, says Guan Eng

Lim said the state government has identified three plots of land near Rumah Hijau and is in talks with the landowners. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today said his administration will provide land for a new low-cost housing project for Rumah Hijau residents, while challenging the federal government to commit to provide funding. Lim said the state government will either buy or acquire land to help solve the housing woes of those living in Rumah Hijau, in the Bagan constituency of Penang.
The Rumah Hijau residents were forced to move after the previous state administration signed a privatisation deal with developer Silver Channel, although some have stayed put.
“Basically, the state government is ready to offer the land with the condition that the federal government comes up with money to build this affordable housing. We hope they will provide money, don’t just say ‘consider’. I can also say ‘consider’. I say here, we are buying land,” said Lim in Penang today.
Lim was referring to a letter issued by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHLG) regarding an application for federal funds to build a low-cost housing project.
“After four years of asking from the government, finally we get a letter from the MHLG,” said Lim, who is also the Bagan MP.
“The National Housing Department is ready to consider the application in the third Rolling Plan if there is a suitable site to build the people’s housing scheme (PPR) houses,” the Ministry wrote in the Malay language in the letter dated May 17.
The letter addressed to the Rumah Hijau Residents’ Association was emailed to The Malaysian Insider.
Lim chided the government for the letter, saying that it only says “bersedia untuk mempertimbangkan (willing to consider)” and not “promise or commitment”.
“We hope the central government, because they are the ones who caused this problem, they are the ones who privatised this land...can together with the state government help to solve this problem.”
On the state government’s part, Lim said that it has identified three plots of land near Rumah Hijau and is in talks with the landowners.
He added that close to 2.5 acres of land will be needed to build over 300 units for the Rumah Hijau residents, but declined to speculate on the eventual cost of the land.
Lim said the new housing units will also be made available to Rumah Hijau residents who moved out after the privatisation deal.
“We don’t want a rolling plan. We want a direct grant; only then will there be a guarantee,” Lim further said, commenting on the government’s provision of funds for the new housing.
Yesterday, MCA’s Bagan Youth Chief David Chua said he had sought the federal government’s help for the Rumah Hijau families for the past two years.
“It is now up to the state government to provide a piece of land for these residents to build their flat units,” Chua was quoted as saying by The Star.
“The construction of a flat unit, measuring 600 square feet costs about RM60,000, while the entire cost for the 70 units is about RM4.2 million,” he said.
Last Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that the federal government will give RM2,000 to each family still living in Rumah Hijau to repair their houses, according to Bernama.