Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And the Newsmaker of 2013 is...

7:39AM Dec 31, 2013

And the Newsmaker of 2013 is... 

Every year, for over a decade, Malaysiakini has named a top newsmaker as we bring the curtain down on the year.

A newsmaker is defined as “someone whose actions make news headlines, who effects the course of public discourse and creates an impact in Malaysian politics, for better or worse”.

Malaysiakini has nominated 12 candidates for the newsmaker of 2013 award. A total of 1,450 participated in the seven-day poll, opened only to paying subscribers of the news portal.

They voted by indicating their preference for each of the nominees - one vote being the lowest and 10 the highest.

This year, Malaysiakini readers paid tribute to perhaps the most controversial woman in Malaysia.

The award goes to...

And the newsmaker of 2013 is Rosmah Mansor, wife of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Controversies have dogged Rosmah over the years. But what possibly helped her win this year’s award - she was no 7 last year - was perhaps her overseas trip using the government-funded private jet.

Rosmah is the second woman to have won the award outright, which was first given out in 2001. Ambiga Sreenevasan won it last year, while Rafidah Aziz shared the award with Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2005.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who has a penchant to ‘shoot first’ with his mouth, finished a close second this year.

Interestingly, another controversial entity, the Election Commission, made it to No 3 on the list.

At the other end of the list, it appears that elder brother P Uthayakumar, who is currently serving a jail sentence for sedition, is more popular between the Hindraf duo.

He edged out his younger brother, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waythamoorthy, who emerged last among the candidates.

Here’s the full list:

1. Rosmah Mansor

9,552 points

2. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi


3. Election Commission


4. Shahrizat A Jalil


5. Khalid Ibrahim


6. Mohamad ‘Mat’ Sabu


7. N Surendran


8. Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor


9. Dr Mahathir Mohamad


10. P Uthayakumar


11. Mukhriz Mahathir


12. P Waythamoorthy


Previous newsmakers
2012 - Ambiga Sreenevasan
2011 - Bersih supporters
2010 - Ibrahim Ali
2009 - Teoh Beng Hock
2008 - YOU
2007 - VK Lingam
2006 - Mahathir Mohamad
2005 - Joint award - Rafidah Aziz and Mahathir Mohamad
2004 - S Samy Vellu
2003 - Husam Musa
2002 - Zainuddin Maidin
2001 - Rais Yatim

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 10 news of 2013 - readers' choice

Top 10 news of 2013 - readers' choice

As an annual tradition, Malaysiakini has let its readers decide what they think are the most important news stories of 2013.

A total of 1,450 readers participated in the seven-day survey, opened only to paying subscribers.

They voted by ranking each of the 21 news items selected by Malaysiakini from 1 (lowest interest) to 10 (highest).

Interestingly, GE13 is not the No 1 news item of the year. The most important issue of 2013 for our readers is the slew of price hikes, indicating that many are deeply concerned over the rise in our cost of living.

However, not so surprising is the news that ranked third on the list - Rosmah Mansor, Prime Minister Najib Razak's controversial wife.

Her trip overseas on a government-funded private jet, as well as huge utility and maintenance bills of the couple’s official residence in Putrajaya remain among the top newsgrabbers.

The issue of education and the sorry state of our schools also made it to Top 10 with the ‘Canteen in shower room and cow slaughter in schools’ at No 7, followed immediately by ‘Education crisis and blueprint’.

Here they are - Malaysiakini readers' choice of the top 10 headline-grabbers.

1. Barang Naik (petrol, sugar, electricity, public transport, tolls hikes, etc) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) - 11,062

2. GE13 / Chinese tsunami / Apa Lagi Cina Mau? Malapportionment and Blackout 505 rallies - 10,879

3. Rosmah Mansor’s private jet and PM’s residence - 9,849

4. Sulu incursion / Lahad Datu - 9,749

5. Sabah RCI on illegal immigrants - 9,351

6. Prevention of Crime Act, Ops Cantas and crime statistics, gangland shootings, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's shoot first remark - 9,026

7. Canteen in shower room and cow slaughter in schools - 8,821

8. Education crisis and blueprint - 8,601

9. Court acquittals - Altantuya Shariibuu’s convicted killers / Ling Liong Sik / Aminulrasyid Amzah - 8,474

10. Listen, listen, listen - 8,126

The also-rans

Eleven of the 21 news items failed to make the cut and were relegated by Malaysiakini subscribers to the also-ran category.

They are:

11. Death of Chin Peng - 7,980 points

12. Religious row - Allah court case, dog trainer video, Johor surau demolition, Alvivi - 7,844

13. Deaths in custody - P Karuna Nithi, C Sugumar and others - 7,392

14. K-pop sponsorships and Auditor-General’s Report - 7,141

15. Candi demolition in Kedah - 6,748

16. Tanda Putera / New Village / the playing of Negaraku in cinemas - 6,473

17. Mat Sabu and Shiite crackdown - 6,326

18. Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail’s alleged involvement in lost of Batu Puteh - 6,265

19. Bumiputera Economic Empowerment (BEE) - 6,134

20. Pay hike in Selangor and other assemblies - 5,988

21. Hindraf-BN MOU - 5,572

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Kula lauds 'rare unanimity' between BN and Pakatan

Kula lauds 'rare unanimity' between BN and Pakatan

From among the factors that bring down governments, which one more surely puts the skids under them in comparison to other factors?

According to DAP national vice-chairperson M Kulasegaran, the factor that more certainly scuttles incumbent governors is economic failure beyond the limits of plausible excuse or explanation.

The MP for Ipoh Barat alluded to the "rare unanimity of views" between BN and Pakatan Rakyat politicians on what would more surely bring down the more than half-century-old BN government.

"On Dec 24, the Umno MP Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the increases in the prices of goods and services will result in BN losing more votes in the 14th general election," noted the opposition legislator.

Kulasegaran said as an accountant Nur Jazlan would have a finer feel for the impact of abruptly raised prices on the pockets of the middle classes and the lower income groups.

"That must have been why he raised the alarm over what he must have seen as the pathway to certain defeat for the BN at the next general election which is the gouging of the ordinary people by forcing them to bear the burden of raised taxes and inflated prices for goods and services beyond their capacity to withstand," explained the three-term MP.

Najib administration has overspent

Citing as evidence of the "rare unanimity of views" between BN and Pakatan politicians on the matter, Kulasegaran noted that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had urged in his latest blog postings that the government should trim its expenditure before it chooses to raise taxes and curtail or remove subsidies.

"We acknowledge that over time the government's expenditure would increase to meet the costs of serving the public, but this increase should not primarily be derived from increased taxation of the public but from prudence and frugality in its expenditure.

"After that only, should taxed be raised and subsidies be curtailed or removed," argued Kulasegaran.

He said that Prime Minister Najib Razak was "putting the cart before the horse by proposing to increase tolls and tariffs, raise taxes and remove or curtail subsidies even before looking to see where he can trim a fat and flabby administration whose upkeep is a burden to the ordinary taxpayer."

Kulasegaran said this was why even the Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin had remonstrated against the proposed increase in the electricity tariff which is expected to be raised by 15 percent from Jan 1, 2014.

"The Najib administration has overspent and now the rakyat is forced to bear the consequences of the government's spendthrift ways," said Kulasegaran.

"The shirking of responsibility is going to be punished by voters at the next election even if the government decides to resort to more rounds of Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BRIM) handouts before the polls to seduce the people from remembering who is responsible for their reduced economic plight," predicted DAP leader.

Price increases will be a very important factor that can and will cause BN’s downfall in the next general election.

Media Statement by M Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman on December 28, 2013
Price increases will be a very important factor that can and will cause BN’s downfall in the next general election. 

Former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir’s criticisms about the federal government’s price increases should not come as a surprise. 

On December 24, Umno MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad has said that the increase in prices of goods and services will result in Barisan Nasional losing even more votes in the 14th general election.

It is so obvious to all that the price hikes will hurt the public and the public are angry with the government, yet the federal government still thinks that the people will accept such painful measures and is not listening to the people. 

I don’t find many issues which I can agree with Mahathir when he was the Prime Minister, but I certainly support the questions raised by him in his blog 2 days ago, that is - We must accept that the Government needs more money with the passage of time. But should the increase be as big as the Government says. Should the taxes and rates come all at the same time?

In fact, anyone will agree that government taxes must not be too high and come all at the same time.
Why has the government become so insensitive and arrogant?

The recent announcement of electricity hike of 15% is certainly huge and will overburden the taxpayers and industries. Yet despite many voices of objections including from Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin who is a Cabinet member, the government has not agreed to conduct a review. 

Perhaps the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib thinks that the people will forget all the pains brought by the price increases when he calls for the nation’s 14th general election in 4 year’s time.

Let me tell Najib that he can ignore public criticisms and he can forget and abandon his ‘People First’ slogan, but the voters will know which party to vote at the next general election. 

Nur Jazlan has said that the price increases will cause BN to lose votes in the next general election, I am very sure that the price increases will be a very important factor that can and will cause BN’s downfall at the next general election. 

BN will not only lose votes due to the implementation of painful measures, it will also pay the price for misleading the people as many voters now know that the measures were only postponed due to BN’s desperation to win the 13th general election.

Now, BN government not only has to deal with  the nation’s chronic budget deficit, it has to deal with “ trust deficit” of the people due to its misleading of the people at the 13th general election.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Right about Islam, Christianity’s common ground, but who seeks to keep Allah exclusive?

Right about Islam, Christianity’s common ground, but who seeks to keep Allah exclusive?

December 26, 2013
Prime Minister Najib Razak waving to visitors during the Christmas open house celebration in Padang Kota, Penang. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, December 26, 2013.Prime Minister Najib Razak waving to visitors during the Christmas open house celebration in Padang Kota, Penang. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, December 26, 2013.Faith in Malaysia has become a trickier issue in the past few years, first with the authorities insisting that the word Allah is exclusive to Muslims, and finally that Muslims must be Sunni, and not Shia.

The preoccupation with faith and the policing of it is perplexing to say the least when it has never been a bone of contention for the most part of the country's independence. If anything, the economy and the salaryman's pay packet has always been a greater issue.

But the usually taciturn Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak finally broke his silence on Christmas Day to speak about Islam and Christianity amid the Government's battle to keep the Arabic word Allah only for Muslims.

He spoke of common origins for both religions and called for mutual respect, saying "Although in terms of faith, we have our differences, for example, the concept of God. In Islam the concept of God is quite different.

"But if we are always quarrelling on this, then we will be distancing the Muslims from the Christians."
He is right, of course. Except that it has been the Government that has been quarrelling about this and finally coming up with its Solomon-like ruling that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak can use Allah but not in the peninsula.

Perhaps, the Kuala Lumpur Catholic Church Archbishop emeritus Murphy Pakiam put it succinctly when he said yesterday, "What did he say? Even if the world talks and laughs about this 'Allah' issue, Malaysia will not allow (its use by non-Muslims), we (Government) will defend the exclusivity of its use.

"This is not a man who was educated in our Catholic school. By talking like that, you are just a bickering politician. I am praying that Allah will enlighten him to become a statesman."

The Government's directive to the Church's weekly, Herald, to refrain from using the word in its Bahasa edition has been the subject of a court case that saw a 2009 High Court decision to allow the usage, only for the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling last October.

The latest ruling and Putrajaya's opposition to a new appeal has caused outrage among the country's Christian community, particularly those who worship in Bahasa. Christians form 9% of Malaysia's 29 million population.

"You think I am not angry? But he is the prime minister, so I have to pray to God to please help him do his duty for the whole country and not just Umno," Pakiam said at the Christian Federation's Christmas Day celebrations where a minister represented Najib.

The anger is palpable for Christians who feel the prime minister has pretended to be moderate and reasonable on a world stage, but is nothing like that when he returns to government business in Malaysia, pandering to the Malay far right, which seeks economic and religious dominance.

But at least the likes of Malay rights group Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali and controversial lecturer Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah are straight about their aims.

With the two of them, it is what you see is what you get. They do not pretend to be champions of multiracial politics, unlike the prime minister and politicians from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).
This includes the Christians who choose to remain as ministers, deputy ministers and MPs in the Najib administration – while making polite noises to their community but remain silent in government – being just grateful that there is some financial aid or extra holidays for the festivities.

As DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang said today, Najib has to prove he is a moderate by deed and conviction and not be a political chameleon who alternates between moderation and immoderation in his speeches, depending on the crowd and occasion.

The thing is, Najib and BN have constantly hammered Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for being a political chameleon. But the reality is this: Anwar and many Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders are secure in their faith as Muslims, and have not played politics on the Allah issue.

In the run-up to the election, Anwar supported the right of Christians to continue using the word Allah, stumping Terengganu and other Malay-belt states.

The same cannot be said for Najib and his ministers who have been chameleon like in their dealings with other communities, especially on religious issues. The Shia are now feeling the heat although Malaysia has cordial ties with Iran, the world's most populous Shia nation.

If anything, the only Malaysian prime minister with religious credentials has been Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, although it was under his time that Putrajaya began enforcing the exclusivity of Allah for Muslims.

Yet, he was also the man who signed the Amman Message that agreed Sunni and Shia are legitimate branches of the faith.

For Putrajaya however, politics come first rather than interfaith harmony even if the prime minister did say, "I had mentioned before that I am not interested in winning an argument. I'm only concerned about preserving peace, harmony and stability in this country. This is my responsibility as Malaysia's prime minister."

That peace, harmony and stability means he needs to keep his vote bank happy. With the next election years away, he and BN have dropped their act of being good to every community, focusing only on one.
After all, the Allah appeal was only decided after the general election. And in time, perhaps people will forget that, and even forget prices only rose after the polls.

But there is no reason to despair.

Just understand that this man is just a politician, not a leader or statesman.

Just another politician. And they all come and go. Right? – December 26, 2013.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Can Putrajaya talk up unity while sponsoring divisiveness?

Can Putrajaya talk up unity while sponsoring divisiveness?

December 25, 2013

The Malay rights group Perkasa has now admitted that government agencies have helped sponsor some of its programmes, saying what it received was similar to other race groups.

The question is of course, why is Putrajaya sponsoring groups that preach and foster racial silos while promoting national unity with initiatives such as 1Malaysia.

Does it make sense to say one thing and do another?

Can any government or its agencies justify sponsoring groups that preach racial exclusiveness, that ask for concessions based on race and those that prefer its race remain dominant in a multi-racial nation?

How can Perkasa's aims gel with the Najib administration's 1Malaysia or even its patron Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's lofty aim of a Bangsa Malaysia in his Vision 2020 document made in 1991? Or is it all just lip service?

Malaysia's population is 29 million, the Malays or Bumiputeras forming 60% of the people, with the rest being Chinese and Indians. How can any government that is elected by all these people pander to only one race?

Can Malaysia have a government that protects and cares for all citizens rather than just one race, beyond the rhetoric of 1Malaysia and working through race-based parties?

If the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is serious about national unity, shouldn't it keep a distance from race-based groups that preach exclusiveness and help based on skin colour?

Perhaps Putrajaya should listen to Umno veteran and Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's speech at Perkasa's annual general meeting last weekend.

The Kelantanese prince, popularly known as Ku Li, said Perkasa should take a good look at itself and ask why it has been mocked and ignored by the Malay community whose rights the party professes to struggle for.

He said Perkasa was perceived by many as the cause of splits between the various ethnic communities in Malaysia. He said this was a damaging view of the party as national unity was prized in Malaysia.

National unity, the one thing that Putrajaya has been preaching, but groups like Perkasa have been chipping away, saying their race is the priority. How can anyone reconcile the fact that Putrajaya aids Perkasa?

Can Putrajaya blame anyone who thinks the government says one thing and does the other and therefore is not worthy of their trust? Because that is the reality that has been confirmed by Perkasa.

Putrajaya needs to take a hard look at itself and its policies before talking up national unity. Sponsoring programmes of a racial group will just show the government's insincerity, rather than its open-mindedness. - December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

BN’s populist moves delayed price hikes, but leaving a stronger sting

BN’s populist moves delayed price hikes, but leaving a stronger sting

December 23, 2013
Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali says the Malay rights group is ready to replace Umno in the Government. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, December 23, 2013.Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali says the Malay rights group is ready to replace Umno in the Government. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, December 23, 2013.Whether it was populist measures or Perkasa that helped Barisan Nasional (BN) keep the government in the 13th general election, the reality is that both are now biting the ruling coalition just months after the May 5 polls.

BN's move to delay the price hikes and a mandatory minimum wage law ahead of the general election has resulted in growing anger among the middle and lower classes, especially those who supported the ruling coalition, as they cope with increased costs with a shrinking ringgit.

The sting of the rising cost of living is being felt more by the country's dominant Bumiputera community – from the villages in Perlis to the longhouses in Sabah and Sarawak – the areas where Malay rights group Perkasa is looking to gain support.

Apart from urban areas, these are also areas where Putrajaya's cash aid is seen as inadequate to cover basic needs.

For them, the new 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) of RM650 per household and RM450 for singles would not be able to cover the subsidy cuts in sugar and fuel or hikes in electricity tariffs, toll rates and public transport fares in Kuala Lumpur.

In the election 2013 campaign, BN had hinted that BR1M could go as high as RM1,200 a year but the Budget 2014 had only allocated RM650 a family with RM50 for insurance.

The same budget also contained proposals for a consumption tax, the goods and services tax (GST) at 6% effective April 2015, which critics say will add to rising costs of living.

But the Government believes otherwise and has even said it can cut trade mispricing.
These arguments are irrelevant to working Malaysians. And Perkasa is tapping it for support which its president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said yesterday could see it replace Umno in the BN, to the chagrin of the ruling party's officials.

“If Umno appears exhausted, tired and toothless, come on then, Perkasa can take your place,” Ibrahim said at Perkasa's fourth annual general assembly in Kuala Lumpur.

He even had the audacity to set key performance indicators (KPIs) for Putrajaya and its top office-bearers.

"There are so many issues worrying the people now with the price of fuel, sugar, electricity and toll rates going up.

"Therefore, one of the KPIs for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will be the cost of living," Ibrahim said.

Putrajaya's response has been to say it was setting up a lab to study the cost of living and make recommendations apart from a study on raising wages in tandem with price hikes.

Both appear out of touch with reality or an admission that BN does not have the grassroots network to poll working Malaysians or at least inform them that price hikes are inevitable because of rising business costs.

"We have to bite the bullet but Umno just wanted to be popular rather than do what is right of the country," a party warlord told The Malaysian Insider.

"All the delays did was to postpone the inevitable. And now we have a flood of price increases and subsidy cuts. Of course, people are angry, especially those who voted for us," he added. – December 23, 2013.

Residents of Ipoh's last village to appeal eviction

Residents of Ipoh's last village to appeal eviction
The 75 families residing in Kampung Tai Lee in Ipoh, which is probably the only village still existing in a major city in Malaysia, have decided to appeal a High Court decision that they vacate their homes by April next year in return for compensation of RM10,000.

DAP MP for Ipoh Barat M Kulasegaran, long-time counsel to the eviction-threatened residents who inhabit six acres of land, said the court-ordered compensation quantum was "manifestly inadequate."

"These villagers have been staying in the kampung for decades and in 1995 renovated their houses and on those grounds were granted a 30-year lease on the land by operation of the National Land Code," said the DAP national vice-chairperson.

NONEBut Kulasegaran (left) said that in 1997, the land owner wanted the land for commercial development and began to serve eviction notices to the residents on the grounds that the residents were illegal occupiers.

But this was denied by the villagers who said they have been paying RM5 to RM10 as ground rental.

A long battle ensued with some sign of a satisfactory resolution when the Pakatan Rakyat took control of the Perak state government after the March 2008 general election.

Kulasegaran said Pakatan moved to allocate four acres of vacant land adjoining Kg Tai Lee for the building of low-cost flats or alternatively, to subdivide the land and hand the lots to the villagers.

But the Pakatan government was deposed after a 11-month tenure and with that the possible resolution of the matter through development or subdivision of the adjoining four acres withered on the vine.

A deal that's far from satisfactory

Kulasegaran said that in early January 2010, BN Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir attended a gotong royong organised by the residents during which the MB urged the Ipoh Town Council to find a solution to the villagers' problem.

"But the matter has not moved beyond earnest expressions of a desire to help but no real movement towards a solution of the problem," said Kulasegaran.

"Now with the court having ruled that the villagers must vacate the land by next April in return for compensation of RM10,000 for each family, the villagers have wound up with a deal that's far from satisfactory," he asserted.

He said he and another lawyer, N Selvam, will act for the villagers in their appeal of the High Court decision.

"The compensation is manifestly inadequate. The villagers are at the bottom of the ladder and have nowhere to go. Compensation of only RM10,000 will see them reduced from their present state of abject poverty to grinding penury," opined Kulasegaran.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Despite Kugan ruling, justice still found wanting

Despite Kugan ruling, justice still found wanting
10:55AM Dec 22, 2013  
Despite the landmark ruling where the High Court had found the police liable for death in custody victim A Kugan’s case, justice is still found wanting in succeeding cases, said Suaram.

NONEIn a statement yesterday, the human rights group highlighted a High Court decision to dismiss a civil suit against the government and police by Ganga Gouri (right) over the death of her brother, R Gunasegaran.

Suaram coordinator R Thevarajan said even though the court agreed that Gunasegaran’s arresting officers had abused their powers, the case was dismissed on a technicality.

He said the Dec 19 decision ruled that Ganga could not file the action as she was neither the victim’s wife or children and had not been appointed as a legal representative of the deceased.

“The judiciary seems to be a stumbling block for many in search of justice. Ganga Gouri was saying that people hope that the judiciary will provide justice, but when the judiciary fails where else can the people go?” he said.

He urged the setting-up of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kg Tai Lee eviction issue: Residents decide to appeal to Court of Appeal

Media Statement by M. Kula Segaran, MP for Ipoh Barat and DAP National Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 22nd December 2013

Kg Tai Lee eviction issue: Residents decide to appeal to Court of Appeal. 

What started as a village for the poor to live and work in the city in the early 50's had over the time become one of the largest villages around Ipoh.

The land owner had rented the nearly 6 acres of land to people who had built their own houses and the land owner collected land rental.

The village, which is located on private land within the Ipoh City area, is now comprised of 50 houses and 75 families who are the third generation Kg Tai Lee residents.

But what was once a remote village has over the time become an important area for commercial development. Thus in 1997 , the land owner issued notices to evict all the residents. The land owner in the notice asserted that the residents were illegal occupiers who had entered the land without consent and permission.

Contrary to this, the residents defence was that they were legal tenants paying a ground rental of between RM 5 to RM 10 a month. And that in 1995,  on the encouragement of the land lord,  the tenants expended monies to renovate their houses as such they have a 30 year lease to occupy the land commencing from 1995 as provided for by the National Land Code.

The Ipoh High Court heard the case for over 10 days and finally on the 12 of December 2013 , the Court delivered its decision on the issue of over 50 families residing in Kg. Tai Lee as follows:-

 The court agreed that the residents were tenants and not squatters as alleged by the land owner. Further they are entitled to a 30 years lease from 1995 which means they have another 15 years right to stay on the land. The Judge Lee Siew Seng found that as compensation for them to move out now, each resident would be paid a compensation of RM 10,000 and they need to vacate by April 2014.

Lawyer N. Selvam and I met up with the residents last night at Kg. Tai Lee. After a lengthy discussion with questions posed by the residents,  it was decided the residents will appeal to the Court of Appeal.

The residents feel the compensation is too low and to move out by April is an impossible task as the residents have no other houses to move to. 

The DAP has been involved with this lower income group of residents for over 3 decades. We will provide the necessary legal and other assistance right to the end of this matter.

When the Pakatan Rakyat government was controlling Perak in 2008, we discovered that adjoining this Kg. Tai Le area, there is a vacant 4 acres of land. We suggested that this 4 acre land be set aside for the residents for the building of flats or the land be sub divided and be given to the residents. But Pakatan Rakyat government could not implement this idea as the government was taken over by the present BN Government. 

Just before the 2008 general election, the residents were informed by the Ipoh Land Office that they would be relocated to Pusing, but this has remained an empty election promise till today.

There were also repeated assurances that the residents would be given state housing lots, but all these too have never materialised.

Sometime on Jan 3, 2010, there was a gotong-royong event organised by the state government with the Kg Tai Lee residents. At the gotong-royong, the Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir ordered the local council of Ipoh (MBI) to find a solution to settle the issue faced by the residents. To date although numerous meetings have taken place "a win win" situation has not materialised.

At yesterday's meeting, the residents have also requested for a meeting with the Perak Mentri Besar to discuss and find a solution to this longstanding issue of the people.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Unable to take the heat, Putrajaya puts media on notice

Unable to take the heat, Putrajaya puts media on notice

December 20, 2013
Malaysian Insider
The article which is believed to have got The Heat into trouble with Putrajaya. – The Malaysian Insider pic, December 20, 2013. The article which is believed to have got The Heat into trouble with Putrajaya. – The Malaysian Insider pic, December 20, 2013. Putrajaya's transformation programme took a step backward yesterday when the Home Ministry suspended The Heat weekly, most likely for its November 22 lead article that focused on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's spendthrift ways.

While such reports are commonplace in online news portals, The Heat's article hit too close to home as it was in print and came at a time when Putrajaya had cut fuel and sugar subsidies while higher electricity tariffs, toll charges and public transport fares were on the cards as public funds were tight.
Putrajaya insiders say the Home Ministry took action as the report made the PM look bad, which is an unwritten out-of-bounds marker in the local media scene.

"You get a permit to publish, so you must know your parameters even if you want to be critical," a retired newspaperman told The Malaysian Insider.

"This is just a warning not to overstep the boundaries even if the PM can be quite liberal about such things," he added, noting that the government is more concerned about print rather than online media.
Ironically, Najib had relaxed publishing rules two years ago, allowing printing permits without the need for annual renewals that has kept the media in check all these years. However, the Home Minister retains the right to suspend printing permits, as he did with The Heat yesterday.

The last newspaper suspension was in February 2006 when the Sarawak Tribune ran into trouble for publishing an image of Prophet Muhammad which is taboo for Muslims. And before that, in 1987 when The Star and several Chinese dailies were suspended under Operasi Lalang.

The contrast cannot be any greater in all suspension orders. Then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had just launched a security crackdown in 1987 and the newspapers were suspended ostensibly to preserve harmony. For Sarawak Tribune, it was to cool hotheads upset over the publication of the Prophet's image.

This time, it was a report over profligacy that has stung the government, whose populist measures to maintain subsidies and certain rates did not help it regain the two-thirds parliamentary super-majority in the May 5 general elections.

While Parliament heard that the Prime Minister's official residence had consumed some RM2 million a year in electricity, Putrajaya started cutting subsidies for fuel and sugar, and allowing increases that have been described as a "tsunami of hikes" for the average salaryman and even manufacturers.

"There is a sense that Putrajaya is rather detached from the reality of daily life. It is spending public funds while asking Malaysians to save or pay more," a political analyst told The Malaysian Insider.

The Heat summed up the situation in its November 22 report, saying "Najib has built up a reputation as a big spender, using public funds in a manner that sometimes invites public criticism. Some news portals have emotionally panned him – and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor – as “spendthrift”.

"In many Parliament sessions, questions have been raised on various aspects of his spending, including the utility bill for his official residence Seri Perdana in Putrajaya, his use of government aircraft for official business, his penchant for using consultants and the mammoth budget allocation for the Prime Minister’s Department.

"People need to know how taxpayers’ money is being spent. However, there is no full access to information on such spending. The only source so far is parliamentary meetings, and opposition MPs are playing watchdog to the hilt," it said in the report which is still available online.

But Putrajaya has defended its tough if unpopular decision to cut subsidies and hike other rates, saying it was trying to protect the economy and keep investors' confidence.

"To keep Malaysia’s economy strong, we need to keep our public spending in check. That means raising some rates and cutting some subsidies. In the short term, this will be unpopular with some.

"But it is absolutely necessary to maintain investor confidence in Malaysia – and to continue the strong growth in jobs and income over the last four years," the government had said in a statement in response to a Merdeka Center survey that showed Najib's approval ratings fell 10% to 52% this month.

According to Merdeka Center’s latest survey, his approval rating for December is the lowest since September 2009 (59%) and is close to the 45% he had in May 2009, a month after taking over as prime minister.

"Taking out The Heat might cool the antagonism towards the prime minister. But it comes at the expense of being seen as undemocratic and unable to take criticisms," a diplomat told The Malaysian Insider, on condition he was not named.

"It is a step backward, but he has four years to go forward," he added, referring to the next general election due in 2018. – December 20, 2013.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

M'sians feel country going 'wrong direction', post-GE

M'sians feel country going 'wrong direction', post-GE
Most Malaysian voters surveyed by pollster Merdeka Center feel that the country is going in the "wrong direction".

Close to half or 49 percent of the 1,005 registered voters surveyed between Dec 4 and 12 believe that the country is heading south, compared with 41 percent who feel otherwise.

This is the government's worst showing since October 2008, the last month of fifth prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's tenure, when 45 percent of Malaysians were pessimistic about the nation's direction.

The findings released today also portray a trend of growing unhappiness since the 13th general election, after which more and more Malaysians expressed dissatisfaction with the country's direction.

right versus wrong direction merdeka center dec 2013 smallIn June-July, 37 percent of those polled said things were not looking good, followed by 41 percent in August-September, followed by the latest findings at 49 percent.

The post-GE gloom also cuts across all races, dipping pronouncedly among the Malays and Chinese.

If 70 percent of Malays surveyed thought things were heading the right way in June-July, only 56 percent feel the same this month.

Indians appear greatly disappointed

Remarkably, only nine percent of the Chinese surveyed thought Malaysia is on track, down from an already low 22 percent in June-July.

Indians, who had a surge of optimism between July and September, appear greatly disappointed, with only 52 percent registering confidence in the country's direction, compared with 64 percent in September.
right direction versus wrong direction merdeka center december 2013
Most, or 30 percent, attributed rising cost of living for their pessimism, followed by unfavourable economic conditions in general.

However, those who felt things were going the right way for Malaysia said so because of “improving economy”, rapid development and the peaceful state of the country.

Merdeka Center said the foreboding sentiments were driven by the cut in fuel subsidies, announcement of the introduction of the goods and services tax in April 2015 plus the impending electricity tariff hike in January 2014.

“Concern over the economy, particularly in the form of rising costs and inflation, rose to its highest ever recorded level of up to 67 percent of all respondents,” it said.