Friday, July 28, 2006

Mahathir sprayed with mace but no alarm

Tun Dr Mahathir was sprayed with mace after he arrived at the Kota Baru airport this morning.
While not condoning such act which tantamounts to criminal assault and intimidation, it should not be perceived as an incident causing alarm to national security and public order. It was an isolated case in view of the intensively publisized trip filled with all kinds of speculation.
The Star online reported as follows:-
Update by The Star Newsdesk
KOTA BARU: A man sprayed Mace at Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad moments after the former Prime Minister arrived at the airport here Friday morning.
In Putrajaya, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he was angry over the incident and ordered the police to conduct an immediate investigation and to take stern action against those responsible for the act.
According to police, former Umno strongman Datuk Ibrahim Ali took the brunt of the spray on his face while Dr Mahathir and his bodyguard were also affected.
The 11am (0300GMT) incident took place just as Dr Mahathir was entering a 4WD vehicle together with Ibrahim.
Dr Mahathir, who was seen taking off his glasses and wiping his eyes, was rushed from the vehicle by his other security personnel to a car nearby, which then drove away.
Dr Mahathir being escorted after the attack at the Sultan Ismail Airport in Kota Baru.Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan told The Star that his officers have identified the man who sprayed the mace and expect to make an arrest soon.
Musa said the police were investigating the incident under Section 328 of the Penal Code.
The section reads: "Whoever administer to or causes to be taken by any person any poison or any stupefying intoxication or unwholesome drug or other things with intent to cause hurt to such person or with intent to commit or facilitate the commission of an offence or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause hurt shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also liable to fine"
Later at a press conference, Dr Mahathir described the attack as an attempt to stop him from speaking out.
Describing how he felt, Dr Mahathir said: “It felt something like a sore throat, my eys were stinging, I could not see clearly and removed my glasses.”
The former premier said he would continue with his scheduled talks Friday.
Dr Mahathir was on a one-day visit to Kelantan and was scheduled to attend a dialogue and dinner organised by the Kelantan People’s Action Council headed by Datuk Paduka Ibrahim Ali.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he was angry over the incident and ordered the police to conduct an immediate investigation and to take stern action against those responsible for the act.
"I regret and am very angry such an incident has happened," he said, adding that those responsible for the incident should be severely punished.
He said the matter should be immediately resolved to avoid negative implications and misconception among the public.
The Prime Minister also feared that certain quarters would take advantage of the incident by disseminating rumours, especially through the Internet.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

UPM refused to accept memorandum

(From the left) Mohd Rifaudin Abd Wahab, Chang Lih Kang and Zainul Faqar Yaakob representing the 23 NGOs at the UPM campus yesterday.
I am unable to apprehend why had the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Putra Malaysia refused to meet up with the representatives of 23 NGOs and to receive their memorandum yesterday.

The news was not reported by the non-Chinese main stream newspapers today. However, all the Chinese newspapers covered the event and Sin Chew Jit Poh had even put it up in the front page.

Probably the Vice-Chancellor felt that being a high ranking civil servant, it was not in accordance with the protocol for him to meet up with the unknown figures of the unknown NGOs. He was of course not totally wrong in terms of the official protocol.

However, he had probably forgotten that living in a democratic society, it was part and parcel of his job, namely the caretaker of a higher education institution, to listen to all views and criticisms especially when there were imminent crisis within the institution he was in-charge of. Perhaps, it’s time for him to take sabbatical leave to further his study on democracy.

In their memorandum, the 23 NGOs had, among others, called for the sacking of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Students Affairs), Azali Mohamed, on a few accounts of allegations against him including his failure to handle the violence in the campus on July 17, 2006.

(Photograph with courtesy of Sin Chew Jit Poh)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

DAP Sarawak roars

Proceedings in the Sarawak State Assembly has certainly turned lively with the emergence of the DAP 6 elected representitives.

The Sin Chew Jit Poh reported today that the 6 DAP representatives refused to wear the ceremonial dress, commonly known as No. 1 suit, while attending the opening ceremony of the assembly yesterday.
It has been the DAP policy not to wear the No. 1 suit which comes with a songkok. I have never wore one since 1995.
I had even protested when the invitation cards to attend the swearing in ceremony of Tan Sri Abu Hassan Omar as the Selangor Menteri Besar at Alam Shah palace in 1997 stated, unprecedently, that all the guests were required to wear songkok. Upon my protest, the directive was withdrawn.
However, the palace had later imposed again the ruling after the present Sultan came to the throne. Since then, I had never attended any official functions that required the wearing of songkok.
Another incident in the Sarawak State Assembly meeting yesterday was the walkout staged by the DAP representatives after the ruling of the speaker that disallowed them to debate on the supplement supply bill, an additional allocation not approved during the yearly budget. The Star reported as follows:-
Unhappy DAP reps stage a walkout

SHARON LING at the Sarawak State Assembly on Monday
KUCHING: Speaker Datuk Mohd Asfia Awang Nasar disallowed debate on the Supplementary Supply (2005) Bill 2006 to seek approval for additional development expenditures, angering DAP assemblymen.
The Bill, tabled by Second Finance Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh, was later approved with objections from the opposition. The six DAP assemblymen then left the chamber.
Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen had earlier sought clarification on the payment of some RM2.4mil as consultancy fees, as contained in the command papers.
“No debate is allowed,” Asfia told him. Chong retorted: “Why are you covering up all these?
He said he wanted to know to whom and for what the consultancy fees were to be paid.
Speaking at a press conference after the walkout, Chong said he had filed a notice to debate on the Bill, alleging some “questionable and unaccountable spending”.
Expressing his party’s regret over the Speaker’s decision, which he described as “unfair and undemocratic”, Chong said: “We are allowed under the Standing Orders to debate on the supplementary Bill.”

Monday, July 24, 2006

MCA use govt's fund to support MCA-owned Nanyang

The rumour was rife when MCA Deputy Education Minister launched the national "Reading Newspapers Campaign" in SJK (C) Lick Hung, Subang Jaya recently followed by a series of the similar program in various parts of the country.
Now it is reported by Malaysiakini today, that MCA has used the annual government allocation given to each of the consituencies held by MCA to sponsor the ailing Nanyang Siang Pau.
The ACA should immediately institute investigation. If it were true, it would be a strong case of corruption.
The Malaysiakini reported as follows:-
Use ‘gov’t funds to buy Nanyang’
Kuek Ser Kuang KengJul 24, 06 3:00pm

MCA leaders have been urged to use about RM1 million of government-allocated funds to buy copies of the ailing party-owned newspaper, Nanyang Siang Pau.
According to a letter obtained by malaysiakini, party leaders with ministerial posts are asked to contribute RM20,000 each to the Chinese-language newspaper for a joint MCA-Nanyang programme to promote the reading habit among students.
For MCA deputy ministers, the contribution should be RM15,000. As for parliamentary secretary, it is RM12,000, and for members of parliament, RM10,000. Senators and leaders who hold government posts at the state level are also asked to make contributions.
"Sponsorship can be paid to Nanyang through the annual government allocation (for elected representatives)," said the letter from Nanyang, which was sent to MCA leaders early this year.
The government has allocated RM2 million each to ruling Barisan Nasional MPs for the “development of their constituencies” this year.
The allocation was increased from RM500,000 last year, but opposition-held constituencies do not get any of the money.
According to the two-page letter, copies of the newspaper bought by MCA leaders are to be distributed to the schools in their respective constituencies for free.
Media observers have however cried foul. They alleged that the programme was to boost the circulation of the troubled newspaper by using taxpayers’ funds. The letter gives details of the proposed scale of sponsorship for MCA leaders based on their respective posts.
The total sum works out to RM923,000. The letter described MCA representatives as a “supporting unit”, and urged them to use the government allocations to uphold Chinese education.
A reply slip is attached for the leaders to list the sponsored sum, constituency and other details. Replies are to be sent to Nanyang’s reading programme head Fun Tiong Heng and the MCA headquarters.
‘Others also involved’ When contacted, Fun said representatives from other ruling parties such as Gerakan and MIC as well as business people have sponsored this programme previously.
"This is a very good programme as it cultivates the reading habit among pupils," he said, adding that it has been carried out since the 1990s. When asked about why government funds are to be used to support the programme, Fun said it was a decision was made by MCA.
He added that the question regarding government funding should be directed at the party leadership. The letter also states that the programme will be carried out for 124 schooldays from May 5 to Nov 17.
Under the sponsorship scheme, the newspaper is priced at 80 sen, compared to the regular cover price of RM1.30. Based on the figures, the total sponsorship will work out to 9,304 newspapers per day.
Observers claimed that the daily is using this programme to increase its circulation, which has been falling in recent years. In the 1980s, Nanyang was the country’s leading Chinese newspaper.
Its problems heightened after MCA took over the daily in 2001 amidst strong objections and concerns over its editorial independence. It is currently ranked third among the four Chinese newspapers with a circulation of 131,297.

Friday, July 21, 2006

6 DAP rep in Sawarak Assembly

This was the hostoric moment of DAP in the Sarawak State Assembly.
From the left, Chew Chiu Sing (Kidurong, Bintulu), Chong Chieng Jen (Kota Sentosa, Kuching), Wong Ho Leng (Bukit Assek, Sibu), Violet Yong Wui Wui (Pending, Kuching), Ting Tze Fui (Meradong, Bintangor) and Voon Li Shan (Batu Lintang, Kuching) posed for a photographic session after the swearing in ceremony held in Kuching yesterday.
None of the newspapers in Peninsular Malaysia reported the news. If the campaign of the Sarawak state election on May 20, 2006 could be so important that it occupied major pages of the newspapers in Peninsular Malaysia during the 11-day campaign period , there was no reason why the swearing in ceremony was so insignificant that not a line was mentioned now.
I believe the blow would be too severe for the Barisan Nasional if the news was published. Was there a blackout? Prime Minister, Dato Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, will have to answer.

Blackout of news on Sarawak State Assembly swearing in ceremony?

Is there a blackout of news on the Sarawak State Assembly swearing in ceremony, which was held yesterday, in the Peninsular Malaysia newspapers?
The news was not published in all the major newspapers in Peninsular Malaysia today. I have to go to the webpage of International Times, a Sarawak Chinese newspaper, to confirm that the ceremony was held yesterday where all the 71 state elected representitives elected on May 20, 2006 had sworn in yesterday. 6 DAP candidates were elected setting a new record for the DAP in Sarawak.
I have just called the editor of Chinese Rocket of the DAP, Ng Wei Aik, who was covering the event yesterday in Kuching to send me a photograph of the event as soon as possible to be posted in this blog.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

UPM campus politics may turn racial

I viewed with despair a video clip by Merdekareview purportedly depicting the harrassment and violence inflicted by a group of Malay students on a few Chinese students in the 12th hostel of Universiti Putra Malaysia, the university that drew a controversy over the past few days for its ethnic relations testbook which was eventually directed to be withdrawn by the cabinet.
The incident had been published by the local Chinese press but little seemed to have been done by the relevant authorities. It was alleged that one of the assistant vice-chancellors of the university was behind the scene.
The authorities must act swiftly to resolve the matter before it turns racial.
(Photographs with courtesy of Merdekareview)

Draw a line with Mahathir

In the Part 3 of Malaysiakini's interview with Anwar Ibrahim, Anwar said that it was dangerous to support Mahathir at the moment. A line must be drawn. I fully agree.
In fact, while responding to a question from the floor during a talk organized by Parti Keadilan Rakyat last week in Kuala Lumpur, I had expressed the view that Pas leaders should be criticized for being seen to be too close with Mahathir when they attended a talk held by Malaysia-Today a few weeks ago.
I said that the opposition supporters would be confused when they saw the Pas leaders who had not too long ago called Mahathir "Firaun" but now suddently stood side by side with Mahathir simply because Mahathir was now at loggerhead with Abdullah Badawi.
Any politician who believes that enemy's enemy equal friends, he is not only too simplistic, naive but foolhardy.

Mustapa proven wrong, textbook withdrawn

I had advised Dato Mustapa Mohamed, Higher Education Minsiter, to admit mistake on the controversial ethnic relations textbook used by the Universiti Putra Malaysia yesterday. Earlier, he was adamant to defend that the textbook was a product of academic freedom.

Mustapa was proven wrong when the cabinet did not accept his defence and directed that the textbook be withdrawn yesterday. His deputy, Dato Ong Tee Kiat, as usual, attempted to claim credit with an afterthought statement. MCA President, Dato Seri Ong Ka Ting, also rushed to claim that the MCA cabinet ministers had done their part by raising the matter in the cabinet.

Well, Ong Ka Ting again failed to realize that the matter needs no effort from the MCA to bring it up to the cabinet. It had been condemned by the Ngos in the chinese press for the past few days, and brought up in Parliament by Chong Chieng Jen, DAP MP for Bandar Kuching, by way of an emergency motion when Ong Tee Kiat was still sitting side by side with his superior in the press conference held in the Parliament House and other MCA ministers were still hesitating to use strong words against the textbook.
Minister for Prime Minister Department in charge of Parliament, Dato Nazri, who had openly said that the contents of the textbook were seditious, would have had brought the matter up in cabinet because he was the minister whose duty was to report the proceedings in Parliament to the cabinet. I would rather trust the UMNO minister whose stand was clear in public than the MCA minister was silent and dilly-dally in public but claimed later to have been heroic in the closed door cabinet.
It is interesting to note that Dato Seri Samy Vellu, Works Minister cum MIC President, was also silent on the issue when the Indian youths were blamed for the Taman Medan riot. Was that because such view was actually opined by Dato Dennison, the chairperson of the MIC think-tank, himself in one of his working papers?
When controversy of such nature erupts, true and ugly faces of the politicians surface.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Population Census in 2000

I was asked where did I get the figure that Chinese Malaysians consists of 26% of the Malaysian population which I quoted at the RTM1 live telecast forum, "Debat Perdana" on July 9, 2006. My reply was that I got it from the news report. Today, the Sin Chew Jit Poh's report confirmed it .

As reported, Prime Minister, Dato Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in his written reply to the question tabled by Karpal Singh, MP for Bukit Gelugor, in Parliament disclosed the result of the census conducted in 2000 as follows:-

Malay: 11.68 mil (53.4%)
Other Bumiputra: 2.57 mil (11.7%)
Total Bumiputra: 14.25 mil (65.1%)

Chinese: 5.69 mil (26.0%)
Indian: 1.68 mil (7.7%)
Others: 0.27 mil (1.2%)

Malaysian: 21.89 mil (94.1%)
Non-Malaysian: 1.38 mil (5.9%)

Total: 23.27 mil (100.0%)

Admission of mistake is a virtue, Mustapa

I must tell Higher Education Minister, Dato Mustapa Mohamed, that the great educationist, Confucius, had said that admission of mistake is a virtue. So, please admit the blunder caused by the authors of the ethnic relations textbook used in the Universiti Putra Malaysia and close the chapter graciously.
It is indefensible to blame the Indians for the riot in Taman Medan, to accuse the DAP for triggering the 1969 racial tragedy and to label the Suqiu (Committee for Appeal formed by the Chinese Associations and NGOs prior to the 1999 general election) as extremists purely from the standpoint of UMNO wrapped up in the form of academic module purportedly meant for fostering national unity.
Mustapa's dismal performance in Parliament yesterday as reported in Malaysiakini had tarnished his 'so-far-so-good' image as a rare rational intellect in the UMNO when he attempted to justify the views in the controversial textbook as academic freedom.
Equally disappointing is his deputy, Dato Ong Tee Kiat, Vice-President of the MCA, who had failed to speak up but had to show his solidarity to his boss by attending together with Mustapa in the press conference in Parliament House yesterday when his MCA comrades had spoken strongly against the textbook.
Political survival reigned over conscience, as far as the duo were concerned, yesterday.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bar Council's proposal on definition of rape

Another must-read article is the letter from the President of Bar Council, Yeo Yang Poh, published in the New Straits Times today. I am in full support of the Bar Council's view on this issue, contrary to the view of my party comrade, Teresa Kok, who is a member in the Select Committee of Parliament that proposes the amendments currently debated in Parliament.
The net is cast far too wide
18 Jul 2006
THE amendments to the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code proposed by the Parliamentary Select Committee are being considered in Parliament.The vast majority of the proposed changes are positive.
The Bar Council commends and congratulates the select committee for introducing these progressive changes. An area of change concerns the widening of the definition of "rape" in Sections 375 and 376 of the Penal Code, with the objective of addressing custodial rape, offences committed by "spiritual healers", as well as by persons in authority or persons holding positions superior to the victims.
It is in this regard that the Bar Council has expressed reservation, and urged caution, in relation to the current proposals. The Bar Council agrees that (among other things) issues concerning custodial rape and offences committed by persons who abuse their superior positions of authority must be adequately addressed.
However, the wording of the proposed provision, in the Council’s view, is unsatisfactory, for the reasons that follow.
The proposed new sub-section 375(f) deals with new categories of rape, where sexual intercourse with the consent of a woman will become rape if:
(a) her consent was obtained by the offender "using his position of authority over her", or
(b) her consent was obtained "because of professional relationship", or
(c) her consent was obtained because of "other relationship of trust in relation to her".
The Bar Council appreciates the objective behind this new proposal. It is necessary to nab offenders who abuse their positions or trust in circumstances that would vitiate the consent and, therefore, amount to rape.
However, in the same breath, the new provision as it is at present drafted will be capable of "catching" situations in which consent should not be treated as vitiated.
This unintentional effect is due to its general and broad wording. For example, consent given "because of professional relationship" will have such a wide ambit; and making the "use of position" (rather than abuse of position) an element of the crime of rape causes concern.
It is important not to cast the net so wide or sweepingly that persons who should not be assigned the same type or degree of culpability might be "caught" by such laws.
The Bar Council suggests that sub-section 375(f) be re-worded in the following manner:
"375. A man is said to commit ‘rape’ who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the following descriptions:
(f) With her consent, when the consent was obtained by duress, coercion, threat, inducement or promise made by an accused:
• Who was a public servant having authority or control over her, or who was responsible for her protection, safety, welfare or well-being; or
• Who was a public servant, officer, agent, employee, or person who works at any place of detention, custody or training, or who was responsible for her protection, safety, welfare or well-being at such place; or
• On whom she relied for religious or spiritual guidance, teaching or practice; or for cure or treatment of herself or any member of her family; or
• Who was in a position of power, authority or trust in relation to her, and who abused his position to obtain such consent; provided that if such consent was obtained by threat, inducement or promise, it shall be a defence if the circumstances were such that there was reasonable opportunity for her to have refused consent."
Similar amendments are applicable to sub-section 376(2)(f).

Anwar's candid view on Mahathir versus Abdullah

Malaysiakini posted its Part 1 exclusive interview with Anwar Ibrahim, today. I would say that it is a must-read article. Anwar candidly gave his views on Mahathir, Abdullah, Najib and some UMNO financial affairs.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Parliamentary Secretary misled the house and the people

I am quite perturbed to learn that the Parliamentary Secretary of the Prime Minister Department, Masitah Ibrahim, had said in the Dewan Rakyat today that “ it was stated more than 20 times in the Federal Constitution that Islam was the official religion of the country”, as reported in the Malaysiakini today.

The Parliamentary Secretary has obviously misled the house and the people.
Firstly, Article 3(1) of Federal Constitution stipulates, in verbatim, that “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”
Article 3(1) does not say Islam is the “official” religion. It is “official” by way of implication and interpretation.
Secondly, it is, as a matter of fact, not true that the Federal Constitution has stated more that 20 times that Islam is the official religion of the Federation. It states only once.
Thirdly, the fact that “Islam is the religion of the Federation”, whether it is stated once or 20 times, does not make the Federation an Islamic state. Otherwise, the Federal Constitution would have had expressly stated so.
Fourthly, the phrase “Islam is the religion of the Federation” in Article 3(1) does not end with a full-stop. It is followed by a semi-colon and the phrase “but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation”.
The construction of Article 3(1), therefore, clearly implies that Parliament has only intended to position Islam to be first among equals in the Federation. Nothing more and nothing less.
The full report of Malaysiakini is as follows:-

Secular M'sia: Ex-PMs' personal views
Vanmala SubramaniamJul 12, 06 5:02pm
The classification of Malaysia as a secular nation by the first three prime ministers was based on their personal opinions, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Parliamentary secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department Masitah Ibrahim said this in response to a supplementary question from Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor). The opposition leader wanted to know the present administration’s stand on Malaysia’s religious classification.
“It is a well-known fact that Tunku (Abdul Rahman), Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn did not categorise Malaysia as an Islamic nation.
“Does the present government consider Malaysia an Islamic country or a secular
one. I want an answer from the parliamentary secretary,” said Karpal.
Masitah replied that it was not an issue since it was stated more than 20 times in the Federal Constitution that Islam was the official religion of the country.
“The opinions of the former prime ministers that Malaysia was a secular nation were purely personal,” she said.
'Sensitive issue'
Following this, Karpal came under fire from backbenchers Badruddin Amiruldin (BN- Jerai) and Mohamed Aziz (BN-Sri Gading) for raising a ‘sensitive’ issue and ‘straying’ from the original discussion.
Their rebuke was met by jeers and shouts of ‘bahaya’ (dangerous) from the opposition MPs.
The issue arose when the phrasing of Badruddin’s question on the implementation of Islam Hadhari in ministries and government agencies came under scrutiny.
In his question, the backbencher had referred to Malaysia as an Islamic nation.
The Islam Hadhari or Civilisational Islam concept was mooted by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and focused on cultural and moral integrity of society.
Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also previously declared Malaysia an Islamic state drawing flak from the opposition, namely DAP.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Debat Perdana: We are still struggling in the "red ocean"

As expected, we had a heated debate when touching on the distribution of wealth in the 9th Malaysia Plan in the RTM1 live telecast "Debat Perdana" last night.

There were 2 UMNO representatives, Senator Hj Mohd Puad Hj Zarkasi and Dato Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, and a representative from the pro-UMNO Yayasan Kajian dan Strategik Melayu (Malay Research and Strategy Foundation), Dato Mohd Dahan Abdul Latiff, in the same panel moderated by Datuk Johan Jaafar.

There was an attempt to rely on the views of Amy Chua, a professor in Yale University, in her book, "World On Fire" to portray the Chinese Malaysians as the market-dominant minority similar to that of Philippine and Indonesia which I, without hesitation, distinguished on the ground that the extreme cases of 1% population of Chinese in Philippine controlling 60% of its economy and 3% population of Chinese in Indonesia controlling 70% of its economy were in no way similar to once 35% and now 26% population of Chinese in Malaysia controlling only 39% of Malaysia economy.
I also emphasized the importance of the Bumiputra acquiring skills to manage wealth rather than harping the issue of distribution as statistics would show that if the wealth distributed to the Bumiputra for the past 30 odd years were properly managed, the target of 30% Bumiputra equity set by the government would have had been met long ago.
At this juncture, I quipped that some Malays had given the impression that they "get rich fast, live in luxury, stay in big houses, marry three wives and travel in chauffeur driven Mercedes" (cepat kaya, hidup mewah, rumah besar, isteri tiga, Mercedes berdrebar).
One important point I brought up was for the Malaysians to adopt the "Blue Ocean Strategy" to explore the oversea markets rather than to struggle among ourselves in a relatively small Malaysia market. That may be the right answer to increase our wealth for fair distribution.

Selangor held short assembly meeting

It was widely reported, commented and criticised by the Chinese press on the one and half hour Selangor State Assembly meeting last week.
However, the English and Malay press did not seem it fit to even report the incident. It only caught the attention of Malaysiakini a few days after, as follows:-

Selangor assembly sets new ‘sitting’ record
Bede Hong Jul 8, 06 3:45pm

Two days and one-and-a-half hours - that’s how long the Selangor state legislative
assembly sat in the seven months of this year.

After spending only a total of two days in session in the past seven months, not many could imagine that the assembly’s poor attendance record could get any worse.
However, the state managed to exceed itself last Monday morning when the second state assembly meeting was adjourned just one-and-a-half hours after it began, taking almost all the 54 attending assembly representatives by surprise.
The state, which currently holds the dubious record of having the shortest state assembly meetings nationwide, received wide criticism after Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo called the meeting to a close after a brief question session.
The meeting began at 10am and lasted an hour, whereby only four of the 169 questions posed were answered.
After a half-hour break, Khir abruptly proposed the motion for adjournment, which was seconded by state exco Tang See Hang. Backbenchers were informed that remaining questions would be replied by letter.

Shameful incident
Ng Suee Lim, the sole DAP assemblyperson present, called a press conference immediately in protest.
The incident was publicised in several Chinese dailies on July 4.
“It is shameful incident which shows that the ruling state government does not give the democratic processes its proper due. How can anything get done?” said Ng when contacted yesterday.
“We already have restricted time in the past to discuss and scrutinise policies by the state government. Now, it’s beyond ridiculous,” he said.
Asked why the meeting concluded so early, Tang had been quoted by the Chinese dailies as saying that it showed the “Selangor government is efficient”.
The meeting is the latest to mar Selangor’s state legislative record. The assembly meets three times a year - March-April, June-July and in November for the budget meeting.
It last gathered on March 5, where the meeting was rounded up within two days, excluding a day for the official opening ceremony. The Selangor assembly is officially allocated five days for each meeting.
In comparison, the Penang and Perak governments allocates 12 to 14 days.
Asked if backbenchers knew beforehand that the meeting would end abruptly, one BN backbencher, who declined to be named, replied that not all were aware.
The backbencher said he learnt that the MB had cut short the meeting to go on “work-related trip to China”. When contacted, Dr Kow Cheong Wei (MCA-Kinrara) confirmed this, adding that he was a member of the MB's delegation for the China trip from July 5-8.
On what the trip was for specifically, Tan did not wish to comment, adding that“I will only speak after I return.”

Malaysiakini was unable to reach Khir for comments.

Time allocationAccording to suspended assemblyperson Teng Chang Kim (DAP-Sg Pinang), the problems are not only limited to the allocated days for the meeting.
"The opposition leader here is only given half an hour to speak on the budget. In Penang, he has more than three hours to debate the budget debate. Here we are limited to half hour, with 10 to 15 minutes for ordinary members, regardless of which party they are from,” said Teng, who has been suspended pending an apology for ‘insubordination in the august House’ since April last year.
Last Monday’s incident is likely to raise criticism on the governance of the state, and not just by the opposition.
In fact, a BN backbencher said that the representatives from the ruling coalition were embarrassed at the situation, adding that some were upset.
“We have to show our constituents that we are doing our job. We hope this does not happen again. We need at least two days,” he said.
He added that a repeat would jeopardise the standing and reputation of all Selangor state representatives.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mahathir is on holiday in Turkey

Tun Mahathir is not available for comment on Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli’s claims of his “patriotic” purchase of the MAS shares in 1994. Mahathir is still on holiday in Turkey as reported by the Sun today.

Looks like we are going to have a peace weekend.

The Sun reports as follows:-

DrM, Daim cannot be reach for comments on Tajudin's claims

PUTRAJAYA: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin could not be reached for comments on Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli's claims of a secret deal that led to his purchase of a 32% stake of MAS in 1994.

An aide to the former premier said Mahathir who is in Turkey for a holiday was informed this morning on the story published in theSun Thursday.

However, there has been no response from the former premier as at press time.

Meanwhile Daim's aide's said the former finance minister is overseas and cannot be reached at the moment.

Meanwhile,Finance Minister II, Tan Sri Nor Mohd Yaakob who was the Economic Adviser to the government then, was also not available for coment. His press secretary Roslan Ali said the minister is away in Australia.

I will be in "Debat Perdana" this Sunday

I have accepted the invitation to participate in the RTM1 live telecast “Debat Perdana” on this coming Sunday, July 9, at 9.30 pm. The theme of the discussion is “Middleclass as the indicator of the success of 9th Malaysia Plan”.

The other panel speakers are Senator Hj Mohd Puad Haji Zarkasi from UMNO, Dato Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, Perak State Exco member from UMNO and Dato Mohd Dahan Abdul Latiff, Senior Fellow of the Malay Research and Strategy Foundation (Yayasan Kajian dan Startegik Melayu).

Judging from the Talking Points I received from the moderator of the program, Datuk Johan Jaafar, I anticipate a heated debate on the issues of disparity of wealth distribution among the races and the New Economy Policy.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It’s Mahathir’s turn to answer now

It’s Tun Mahathir’s turn to answer the allegations of the former owner of Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) that he was directed by Mahathir to buy shares in MAS to as to help Bank Negara recover from losses in its involvement in the forex. These allegations are certainly much more bigger than the issues raised by Mahathir against Abdullah recently.

The Sun reported today as follows:-

Tajudin alleges secret deal with DrM and Daim

Faced with a RM589 million suit by Danaharta, one-time corporate high-flyer Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli has counter sued for RM13.46 billion and also drops the following bombshell in court documents:

* He was directed by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin to buy shares in MAS to help Bank Negara recover from foreign exchange losses in 1994

* The transaction was a national service but was disguised as an arm's length commercial deal because the government wanted it that way

* He was at all times only a nominee/agent of the government in MAS

* He was assured repeatedly by Mahathir and Daim that he would not suffer any losses or be held liable for anything arising from his purchase of the MAS shares.

PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli, who was sued by Danaharta recently for RM589 million, has filed a countersuit against Danaharta, the Malaysian Government and several other companies and individuals for a total sum of about RM13 billion.

The suit revolved around transactions related to shares of Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS), Celcom (M) Bhd and Naluri Bhd, all companies that Tajudin had controlled at one time.

In court documents filed by his lawyers Lim Kian Leong & Co on June 29, 2006, Tajudin made some startling revelations about the circumstances leading to his RM1.8 billion acquisition of a 32% stake in MAS in 1994.

He claimed that it was not a normal commercial deal as it was made out to be and that he was instructed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin to buy MAS shares at RM8.00 each (way above the then market price of RM3.50) as a national service to help out Bank Negara (which owned the MAS shares) which was hit by multi-billion ringgit foreign exchange losses.

Tajudin said his purchase of MAS shares was disguised as a commercial deal as "it was essential for the public and the international investment community to perceive the entire transaction as a normal commercial arms length deal (which clearly it was not)".

The one-time corporate high-flyer said he did not want to buy the MAS stake as he was worried about financial losses but agreed to do it because it was a directive and also because the government had assured him that he would be protected from financial losses and liabilities.

Tajudin said at all time, he was a nominee of the government of Malaysia (GOM) and that there was an "Overriding Agreement" pertaining to the whole exercise.

He went on to say that he was requested from the start never to reveal this arrangement and had honoured it because there were repeated assurances from Mahathir and Daim that he would be protected from any financial losses and liabilities.

He described Danaharta's legal action against him as a "clear breach of the Overriding Agreement by the GOM" and he now had no choice but to reveal what he claimed to be the truth.

In his statement of claim, Tajudin said as a result of the 1998 financial crisis, Danaharta took over his non-performing loans from the bank together with the shares and securities that he had pledged.

At the request of the GOM, he cooperated with Danaharta to settle the problem on the understanding that that GOM would abide by the Overriding Agreement and that a fair mechanism would be reached to relieve Tajudin of all liabilities arising from his purchase of MAS shares.

Tajudin obtained confirmation from Daim before entering into a "settlement agreement" with Danaharta that it was necessary for "appearances"and that the Overriding Agreement would still be honoured.

The court documents went on to explain how in the end the whole negotiations collapsed causing him to lose control of Naluri.

He then alleged that this was part of a conspiracy by Danaharta to sell his shares in Technology Resources Industries Bhd (TRI) to Telekom Malaysia cheaply and enable Telekom to merge TRI's subsidiary Celcom with Telekom Malaysia's own cellular telecommunications business.

Following are the summaries of the key points with regards to the so-called Overriding Agreement Tajudin had with the GOM contained in his 104-page court document.

Since the mid-80s, the Government of Malaysia (GOM) had embarked on a wide-ranging privatisation programme which included major infrastructure development, utilities, strategic industries and other key areas being privatised. The policy was termed generally as "Malaysia Inc.". A key feature of "Malaysia Inc." was the close symbiotic relationship between the GOM and private entrepreneurs.

Whilst termed "private", many of these private entrepreneurs, including Tajudin, were in fact, required and obliged to carry out activities and business on behalf of the GOM as a matter of National Service or Duty:

MAS's performance during the 1980s and early 1990s was not reflective of the dynamic economic upswing experienced by Malaysia.

The GOM, being very concerned with MAS, had considered ways to deal with it, including the disposal of government held shares in MAS (through Bank Negara Malaysia) and privatisation.

Due to the special nature of MAS, as a national carrier with wide-ranging social and political responsibilities, it was not suitable to be privatised in the conventional manner.

However, in the early 1990s, it was well known that Bank Negara Malaysia, which was holding the shares in MAS on behalf of GOM, had suffered massive foreign exchange losses due amongst other causes, to imprudent speculation in the foreign currency markets.

Even though MAS was not a conventional privatisation candidate, the GOM investment in MAS had to be disposed of to cover these foreign exchange losses and so as to make this politically acceptable, the terminology of privatisation was used to disguise the real motive, which was to cover the Bank Negara Malaysia losses.

Initially, 10% was sold in June 1992, reducing the GOM's investment in MAS to 32%. The GOM urgently had to sell the balance of the shares in MAS to meet the foreign exchange losses incurred by Bank Negara Malaysia in 1994 by way of a "privatisation exercise".

When the GOM decided to "privatise" MAS, the GOM wanted an established Bumiputra to take over its equity stake. The GOM, through Mahathir, raised the possibility of Tajudin taking over MAS on behalf of the GOM since Tajudin was already involved in the transportation business through Naluri Bhd ("Naluri") (formerly known as Malaysian Helicopter Service Bhd).

At the suggestion of the GOM, Tajudin considered the proposal to take over MAS. Tajudin could not afford to buy the shares personally or through his private companies. He could only consider taking over the 32% shares in MAS from Bank Negara Malaysia through Naluri.

However, Tajudin was extremely reluctant, as the task to purchase and carry out the radical restructuring required for MAS was beyond that of an ordinary private entrepreneur. Tajudin was concerned the task might bring his other businesses to ruin.

However, the then Prime Minister made it very clear to Tajudin that this task was to be a National Service and was in fact an obligation. It was also emphasised to Tajudin that the Malaysian economy was facing extremely difficult times brought about inter alia by foreign currency speculations by Bank Negara Malaysia and that purchasing the GOM's shares in MAS was considered to be essential by the GOM to avert the national emergency.

Based on conventional financial wisdom, Tajudin was only prepared to acquire Bank Negara Malaysia's interest in MAS at no more than RM5 per share which even then represented a premium of more than 40% over the market price which then was around RM3.50 per share.

Mahathir, through Tun Daim Zainuddin, on behalf of the GOM, instructed Tajudin to pay RM8 per share for the shares in MAS. The GOM required this price to assist it to avert the foreign exchange crisis. The price had nothing to do with the economic or true value of the MAS shares.

However, Tajudin was not prepared to proceed with the transaction without protection as there was no way commercially for Tajudin ever to recoup an investment at RM8 per share or to pay normal commercial financing costs.

When Tajudin expressed his unwillingness to purchase the shares in MAS at RM8 per share, Tajudin was requested by Tun Daim not to refuse the then Prime Minister. After further discussions and considering that it was a National Service and public duty entrusted to him and to avert national crisis, Tajudin had no choice but to agree to proceed with the transaction.

However, Tajudin's agreement was subject to and conditional on the Overriding Agreement on the understanding that Tajudin was to act as the agent and/or the servant of the GOM.

Tajudin wished for the acquisition to be carried out by Naluri, as initially discussed, but the then Prime Minister and the GOM insisted that the sale should be carried out quickly as the cash proceeds were immediately and urgently necessary to offset the massive foreign exchange losses incurred by Bank Negara.

Due to the GOM's insistence, Tajudin agreed to the GOM's request to expedite the purchase and that he personally or through his private company would take over the shares in MAS from Bank Negara on the understanding that Tajudin would later "on-sell" them to Naluri.

The GOM insisted on this method even though it was clearly understood that Tajudin did not have the financial capability.

The acquisition through private means was necessary to avoid the need for time consuming approvals which Naluri (being a public listed company) would have been required to obtain. Tajudin therefore had no choice but to agree to the GOM's requirements as to price at RM8 per share and method and speed. However, Tajudin's agreement was always subject to and conditional upon the Overriding Agreement.

The urgency imposed by the GOM required Tajudin to take out personal loans and giving personal assets/securities as collateral, which Tajudin would not otherwise have had to give if Naluri had been the original purchaser.

The loans taken were advanced to Tajudin's private company, RZ Equities Sdn Bhd. As security for the syndicated loan, Tajudin pledged most of his shares in Naluri and TRI and his other interests to the lenders.

The GOM, through Ministry of Finance ("MOF"), Bank Negara Malaysia and other regulatory bodies, arranged for the transaction to be concluded expeditiously with stamp duty waiver, single customer limit waiver and various immediate approvals, etc. This was all to enable Bank Negara to obtain the sale proceeds to offset its foreign exchange losses and to fulfill the GOM's requirement.

Prior to agreeing to the purchase, Tajudin was convinced and assured by the then Prime Minister and Tajudin agreed that this was not to be a "takeover" in the traditional sense.

It was important for political and commercial reasons (including for foreign investment perception) and also in the National Interest that Tajudin was to be perceived as "taking over" the shares in MAS from Bank Negara through normal commercial share sale procedures and financing.

But the actual agreement between Tajudin and the GOM was different. Prior to entering into the transaction, it was agreed and understood between Tajudin, the then Prime Minister and the GOM that the acquisition would be subject to and conditional upon the Overriding Agreement.

Further, as part of the Overriding Agreement, after the immediate financial crisis at Bank Negara had been averted, Tajudin would be permitted to sell back the MAS shares to the GOM and be relieved and indemnified in respect of all liabilities which may have been incurred as a result of the initial purchase.

Tajudin was also assured by the then Prime Minister that he would not "lose out".

This was explained to Tajudin that if at the end of the day the task turned out to be "too big", the GOM would buy back the MAS shares and work out an arrangement in such a way that all Tajudin's financial obligations would be settled so that Tajudin could "return to status quo", i.e. with no liabilities in respect of any matter connected with or arising from or related to the purchase of the MAS shares from Bank Negara by Tajudin or companies connected to Tajudin.

Thus it was an express term of the Overriding Agreement that Tajudin would be indemnified by the GOM against all such liability aforesaid. It was only on express assurance from the then Prime Minister and the GOM and subject to the Overriding Agreement that Tajudin agreed to proceed with the purchase of the 32% shareholding in MAS from Bank Negara and enter into "commercial" and financial arrangements.

In keeping with the spirit and image of "Malaysia Inc.", it was essential for the public and the international investment community to perceive the entire transaction as a normal commercial arms length deal (which clearly it was not) and Tajudin was requested and until the filing of this Defence and Counterclaim has kept silent to maintain this image.

However, due to the position taken by Danaharta to sue him and the clear breach of the Overriding Agreement by the GOM, Tajudin has no choice now but to reveal the true Overriding Agreement.

Further, as part of the Overriding Agreement, as between the GOM and Tajudin, Tajudin was required to carry out the Public Duty in the National Interest and as part of his "National Service" to take on the task of heading MAS on behalf of the GOM.

To further emphasise the special nature of the Overriding Agreement, Tajudin was appointed, and at all times remained on the board of MAS as a nominee, servant and agent of the GOM, and not in his own right or as Naluri's nominee.

Due to the sensitive nature of the Overriding Agreement, Tajudin did not seek any written confirmation from Mahathir or Daim on behalf of the GOM. Tajudin had never known the then Prime Minister and the GOM to renege on any agreement before and had complete trust in the principle "my word is my bond". However, it should be noted that the GOM at all times maintained a "Special Share" or "Golden Share" in MAS, in recognition of the GOM's special rights and in recognition that Tajudin was acting as a Government nominee.

Throughout his tenure as a director and chairman of MAS, in keeping with his special role as GOM nominee, servant and agent, Tajudin was not allowed to manage MAS according to normal commercial terms but at all times reported to and abided by the decisions of the GOM on material matters, including but not limited to matters concerning the re-branding, livery, disposal of assets, restructure of human resources, policies involving domestic and international routes, passenger and cargo hubs, investments, etc.

Tajudin briefed and obtained the support of the then Prime Minister, cabinet and the GOM on all material issues before implementation and was not permitted to implement matters which were rejected by the GOM. Further, Tajudin also undertook not to sell any of the shares in MAS on the open market even if the share price was very high. This was because MAS was the "national carrier" and the airline was and still is one of the nation's strategic industries.


Following the Asian economic crisis of 1997/98, MAS performance was severely affected. At the same time, MAS critically required more capital injection to meet the loan obligations and working capital caused by the depreciation of Ringgit.

The loans taken by MAS were in foreign currencies (mainly US Dollars and Japanese Yen) as MAS was not allowed due to GOM restrictions to borrow in the Malaysian financial market. MAS's foreign currency loans were particularly onerous.

The GOM did not permit MAS to borrow in the domestic Ringgit market as MAS's capital requirements were such that local banks did not have sufficient resources to lend to MAS without causing a shortage of funds to other Malaysian borrowers.

The GOM therefore insisted that MAS should only borrow from foreign lenders and hence, MAS was particularly hard hit by the depreciation of Malaysian Ringgit at this time.

A substantial portion of the foreign currency debt had been incurred by MAS before Tajudin bought the 32% stake.

Neither Tajudin nor Naluri had sufficient resources to meet MAS's capital requirement. To address the said problem and after discussions with the GOM, and in accordance with the Overriding Agreement, the GOM agreed to repurchase the shares in MAS from Tajudin at RM8 per share.

The monies were paid to Naluri which by then had acquired the MAS shares as originally planned by Tajudin and the GOM.

It was also understood that Tajudin would be relieved of all personal liabilities and indemnified in accordance with the Overriding Agreement but the details were to be left to the bankers and corporate advisers to work out.

Negotiations to transact the aforesaid in accordance with the Overriding Agreement were handled by various parties, including Mahathir and Daim Zainuddin, personally and Tajudin understood that such negotiations were with the support and knowledge of the Cabinet.

Around this time, Tajudin had also been requested by the GOM together with other corporate leaders, to support the stock market and this required Tajudin and companies related and associated with him to invest substantial amounts which would otherwise have been used for their usual businesses.

This is another example of public service which imposed a heavy burden on Tajudin. Mahathir, Daim and the GOM and Tajudin received a huge amount of public criticism at the time, including from foreign commentators who were highly critical of GOM policies but Tajudin was requested at the time as a matter of national interest not to disclose the truth concerning the Overriding Agreement for the time being.

In accordance with the Overriding Agreement, the monies paid to Naluri for the shares in MAS were actually intended to discharge Tajudin's liabilities for the loans taken out to buy the shares in MAS and to constitute a full and final settlement of Tajudin's liabilities and it was agreed that details and exact arrangements were to be worked out by bankers and corporate advisers and Tajudin would be indemnified accordingly.

In hindsight, it is apparent from the events following the repurchase of the shares by the GOM, despite the periodic assurances of the then Prime Minister, that the GOM has by itself and through its servants and agents, including Danaharta and the Special Administrators consistently failed to honour and have indeed breached the Overriding Agreement on several occasions.