Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Moles burrowing aound Penang CM

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Frustration a possible reason for Zahrain's outburst.
Since the outburst by Zahrain Hashim against DAP Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, the Penang PKR members are divided right down in the middle.
In one group, made up and lead by 'critic specialists' Sim Bak Seong, Teh Ewe Chong and Chin Kim Siang, they are of opinion that Zahrain is wrong because he has his hidden personal agenda in critising the chief.minister.
On the other hand, there is a group of members who are supporting the action taken by Zahrain. This group feels that the CM does not respect the coalition partners and some of the PKR leaders are just kowtowing to the whims and fancies of the CM.
This group is made up of those close to Zahrain and chief among them is his one-time close confidant, an ex-Umno leader from the same division as him who surprisingly is also seen in the DAP and public circles to be very close to Lim Guan Eng.
This ex-close confidant of Zahrain had in a closed door meeting recently with his associates, supported the issues brought up by Zahrain even though he had met up with CM the day before and was very cordial.
During the meeting, his personal assistant voiced his displeasure and made an unpleasant remarks about Johari Kassim kowtowing to the CM when Johari apologised to the CM after another outburst in the press by Johari on the appointment of the Seberang Perai Municpal Councl (MPSP) chief. The ex-Umno man did not rebut the remark even though he is seen to be very close to the CM.
According to party insiders, this ex-Umno man was sent by Zahrain to get close to the CM in order for him to gather vital information which will be handed over to Umno and use as 'bullets' to attack DAP and the chief minister CM the crucial general election time.
The ex-Umno man is also an elected representative and is currently being handsomely rewarded by both sides for disclosing information with regards to PKR to the CM and for his attempts to block the way of PKR in the state government. He is also in the midst of information-gathering for the opposite side.
An insider source claimed, 'The ex-Umno man has recently bought a RM1,000,000 house in his constituency and claimed that his sister is footing the bill but can you imagine that his sister who is quite loaded all this had never helped him during the years he was in the wilderness?'
'Who is really paying for the luxury house? It cannot be the CM, but would it be money from Umno to bring down the DAP lead government? Will the ex-Umno man destroy DAP and Lim Guan Eng in the near future? That remains to be seen'.

Pakatan lawmakers say lack of funds no excuse for poor service

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — While PKR lawmakers complain of insufficient funding for their constituencies, their fellow Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs said fiscal constraints is no excuse for shoddy service.
Nibong Tebal PKR MP Tan Tee Beng (picture), backed by several other party lawmakers, blasted the Penang DAP government yesterday for being slow in providing funds for their constituencies.
The complaints were made amid a simmering feud between DAP and PKR over accusations of favouritism by the former. The Penang state government, however, shrugged off the allegations and said it is not obliged to provide funds to MPs.
Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng called his fellow PKR MPs “jokers” for their demands, and made references to veteran DAP lawmakers like Kepong’s Dr Tan Seng Giaw who served as MP for seven terms despite no financial assistance.
“These people are just a bunch of jokers. I think they should just shut up. Look at Dr Tan and other veteran DAP MPs in KL,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
“They have no assistance at all from the Barisan Nasional (BN)-led Federal government at all but they have managed to serve their constituencies very well,” he said.
The Federal government has been accused by PR of sabotage attempts when allocations meant for each parliamentary constituency are given to local BN leaders instead of the elected opposition representatives.
This has forced PR lawmakers, particularly from PKR, to depend on state governments for funds but Lim noted that PR MPs from Kuala Lumpur (KL) are worst off compared to those from other states.
“In KL, we don’t have the state government to help us as the finance is channelled through the local council and the mayor but still, DAP lawmakers have done tremendously well under these circumstances,” he said.
Lembah Pantai PKR MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, however, disagreed. Speaking to The Malaysian Insider, the daughter of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said allocations are important.
“Ideally, an MP should focus on raising pertinent local and national issues at the parliamentary level, whilst being supported by assembly persons and an elected local government adept at servicing the constituents’ needs.
“But (KL) MPs do not have state assembly persons. Additionally, they are mostly at the mercy of the Federal government-appointed mayor and City Hall officers who decide matters most sacred to KL like issues of licensing, enforcement and servicing,” she said.
More experienced leaders like Hulu Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad believe PAS has proven its credence as a veteran opposition giant by serving their respective constituencies without complaining of funding strictures.
“Serving is not just about giving money. It’s about going down to the ground and there are ways to go around it. If you are resourceless, you have to be resourceful,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Giving an example, Dzulkefly said one approach is to compile data on poor voters and provide them to existing Federal government bodies like the Welfare Department or the Zakat Department (Islamic version).
Adding pressure will then prompt reactions from these organisations which will then provide financial assistance — taken from the Federal budget — to those in need.
“So if you ask me is it possible to serve your constituencies without funding help, it’s difficult but not impossible,” concluded the Kuala Selangor MP.
Meanwhile, an official from the PKR-led Selangor government said PKR MPs from the state demanded additions to the existing RM150,000 allocations given to them for their constituencies.
“But we too have our commitment to our voters so we can’t entertain them,” said the official who agreed with Dzulkefly’s approach on the issue.
“Maybe they lack experience... these MPs... as compared to those from PAS and DAP,” the official added.

Reaching the middle Malay Malaysian

2 Feb 10 : 8.00AM
By Deborah Loh

(See-saw image by scusi/Dreamstime)
THE DAP's unveiling of "Middle Malaysia" couldn't have been at a better time. But with the ongoing "Allah" debate and the defiance by Parti Keadlian Rakyat (PKR)'s Zulkifli Noordin, an apt question is, just who are Middle Malaysians?
From party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng's description, Middle Malaysia indicates a state of mind or a set of values based on moderation and mutual respect. However, the DAP's new catchphrase is also an electoral strategy. Lim's confidant, parliamentarian Liew Chin Tong, says in an interview: "We're responding to the leadership vacuum left by the Barisan Nasional (BN), which has no middle-ground leadership. There has been no effort to create space for ordinary people, who may not be ideologically inclined, but who just want a government that works."
But whether it is an election strategy or a mindset approach, defining Middle Malaysians may be a trickier exercise than assigning group labels such as "moderate", "tolerant" or "the silent majority". Ultimately, assessing the DAP's game plan raises at least two questions. Are collective values consistent? And is the line of moderation largely drawn along ethnic boundaries?
Where's the middle?

Nik Aziz
How consistent are moderate values? A modern-minded, Western-educated, occasional beer-drinking Malay-Muslim Malaysian may today strongly object to letting non-Muslims in Malaysia use "Allah". Conversely, hardcore Islamists like PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Seri Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat have no qualms over sharing "Allah" with other faith communities.
Other examples: a young PKR leader like Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad can be forward-thinking on meritocracy and needs-based affirmative action, and yet be uncritical about Islamic moral policing by the state. Or take PKR de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's indecisiveness over disciplining hardliner Zulkifli at the risk of angering PKR's Malay Malaysian support.
If PKR, whose leadership espouses plurality and equal rights, is concerned about losing its Malay Malaysian base, is being moderate in Malaysia largely defined by race?
In the March 2008 general election, to be moderate meant having values contrary to the BN's alleged corruption, cronyism, and race-based policies. But election results showed that the middle ground was largely Peninsula-based non-Malay Malaysians who voted for the opposition. Opposition parties netted only 35% to 40% of the Malay Malaysian vote, notes DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua.
The question then becomes, who are the middle Malay Malaysians? As the largest ethnic group at over 60% of the population, it should matter to the DAP, which knows it cannot succeed in elections without the help of its partners, PAS and PKR.
Making sacred what isn't

Norani Othman
Political sociologist Prof Dr Norani Othman thinks the Malay Malaysian middle class, also known by the idiom "Melayu Baru", is still evolving. "They have not shown clearly whether they have had a change of values to be necessarily cosmopolitan and global in outlook," she tells The Nut Graph in a phone interview.
The rise of this middle class is the result of the New Economic Policy and rapid national transformation under former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It brought fast wealth and drastically raised standards of living along with the sense of entitlement.
"Scratch beneath the surface of those who say they are tolerant, and what they mean is that they are tolerant only if their security is assured. Tolerance comes from being in a superior position," Norani says.
One reason for this, she says, is the sacralisation of the Malay Malaysian's "special position" and privileges. Islam, intended as the country's official religion, is conflated or equated with Malay identity and issues. Thus, any discussion on such matters is considered "a threat to Islam and Malays", and hence, taboo.
Norani notes that the country's leaders have been encouraging this making sacred of Malay Malaysian issues. It perpetuates a sense of racial and religious superiority and causes some to question if they are weak Muslims. It becomes a barrier that keeps middle-class Malaysians from stepping onto the middle ground.
Setting the agenda

The number of truly middle-ground Malay Malaysians in tune with the DAP's thinking may be too few in number. The party's own membership comprising Malay Malaysians is less than 5% of total members, says Pua.
But he is optimistic that there are more of such Malay Malaysians out there. He believes the "Allah" debate has exposed deep fissures in the collective Malay Malaysian mindset.
"The fact that there are some who can agree with the High Court judgement means there is a group that does not operate based on insecurities. We're not asking them to forsake their ideals about what being Malay and Muslim means, but when we say they are Middle Malaysia, we recognise that they are willing to engage and to respect others' differences," Pua tells The Nut Graph.
The DAP's challenge is to convince middle-class Malaysians by ensuring party policies cater to them as well, Pua adds.
And though there are different degrees of moderateness, the aim is to net support from different people "within the context of Pakatan (Rakyat)", says Liew.
"Through our partners, we can win different people with different definitions of being moderate," he adds. In other words, Middle Malaysia is also about the DAP setting the middle-ground agenda for PAS and PKR without putting them off, especially the Islamist PAS.
"It's a roadmap for the PR. The DAP is clarifying its relationship with PAS and PKR by stating clearly that we need them and are serious about our collective path to Putrajaya," Liew says.
But the Zulkifli saga in PKR shows that this won't be easy. What we mustn't be surprised about is the likelihood that as the DAP and other secularists push to expand middle-ground values, reactions from conservative forces are likely to increase.
Is Middle Malaysia a hopeful gamble? Are the DAP's partners up to it? Whether it works as an election strategy remains to be seen.

Disappointment over DPM’s stand on national consultative council

By Neville Spykerman

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s backtracking on the need for the formation of a national consultative council on religious harmony is sending the wrong signal, says religious groups and Yayasan 1Malaysia.
“He had previously said it was a good idea and it’s disappointing that he has changed his position.” said Dr Chandra Muzaffar, the chairman of Yayasan 1Malaysia. The foundation advocates the formation of the council to resolve all religious disputes including the ongoing row on the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims
The deputy prime minister said two days ago that an interfaith commission, which is similar to Chandra’s national consultative council on religious harmony, was not necessary at this time.
According to Muhyiddin there have been no major issues until the current dispute over the use of ‘Allah’ and said dialogue was enough to resolve the problem.
However, Chandra disagreed and said he does not think informal dialogues are enough to resolve the row, which had climaxed with attacks on churches, a Sikh temple and the desecration of two mosques last week.
“I don’t think ad hoc dialogues can help us resolve the issues that now confront us.”
He said the government must be involved with civil society in order for a solution to be found.
“That why we suggested the prime minister heads the council, because decisions have to be made.”
He said Muhyiddin was wrong to say there had been no major disputes previously.
“There’s been lot of issues and it is more important for a mechanism to be found to solve these disputes in a frank manner.”
He, however, agreed with Muhyiddin that dialogue be held behind closed doors.
Chandra, who also lectures on global studies in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), said he suspects the reluctance on the part of the government for a national consultative council was due to opposition from the Islamic religious establishments.
He said religious bodies may feel that the council could demean Islam but he pointed out that there was no theological basis to their opposition.
“Islamic civilization and history shows that Islam has always engaged other religious and is open to dialogue.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism president Rev Dr Thomas Phillips today also expressed surprise at Muhyiddin’s change in position.
“I am surprised because I thought he welcomed it.”
He said a national consultative council on religious harmony would allow leaders of all faiths to come together to resolve all overall concerns instead of tackling issues as they crop up.
“There must be a mechanism where we can come together, while respecting differences and still move forward.”
He said the time was right to create a better Malaysia for the next generation.


Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy part II

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — Opposition leader  Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today he would subpoena the prime minister as his second trial began on what he says are trumped up charges of sodomy.
Speaking outside a packed courtroom and cheered on by 250 supporters shouting “justice for Malaysia, justice for Anwar” the 62-year old former deputy premier said the presence of so many foreign embassy staff in court showed the “interest, concern and disgust” the new trial was attracting.
Anwar’s trial represents a huge political challenge to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is attempting to rebuild the coalition that has ruled Malaysia for over half a century after record losses in elections in 2008.
An upbeat Anwar told reporters after the court hearing was adjourned until the afternoon that his lawyers intended to subpoena Datuk Seri Najib and his wife  Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, alleging that they were involved in what he said was a conspiracy to jail him.
Earlier, Datuk Seri Anwar, accompanied by two of his daughters and his wife, told reporters the prosecution was down to “the machinations of a dirty, corrupt few”.
The government insists it is not involved in the trial and no one was immediately available for comment on Anwar’s charge.
Najib, who has been premier since April last year, also needs to defuse a religious row that has damaged the government and win back foreign investment that fled Malaysia at a faster rate than almost any other emerging market economy in 2009.
Inside the court, diplomats from the United States, European Union, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom observed the proceedings and 70 people squashed onto benches in the public gallery, including Nik Aziz, spiritual adviser to Anwar’s Islamic political allies, wearing a white turban and black robe.
The trial itself was adjourned until the afternoon as Datuk Seri Anwar’s lawyers sought a date to review a higher court ruling, which refused to allow Anwar access to certain prosecution evidence.
Anwar’s previous convictions for sodomy and corruption followed his dismissal as deputy prime minister in 1998, and most international observers said at the time the trials were not conducted fairly, an accusation that haunts the current hearing.
“The evidence will have to be overwhelming in order to move beyond the perception that Najib Razak is using the judiciary to remove a political rival in a desperate and mistaken move to shore up his own position,” said Bridget Welsh, a Malaysia specialist as Singapore Management University.
If found guilty of the charge of sodomising a young male aide in a country where all homosexual acts are criminal, Datuk Seri Anwar, one of Asia’s best known politicians, could face 20 years in jail.
That would effectively end his political challenge to Datuk Seri Najib and the National Front coalition that the prime minister heads and remove a major thorn in the government’s side ahead of elections that must be held by 2013 at the latest.
Datuk Seri Anwar called for a strong turnout for his first day in court on his Twitter account, while his accuser Saiful Bukhari Azlan also said on Twitter he would be in court.
Outside the court, pamphlets supporting Saiful were scattered on the road, denouncing Anwar for not taking an oath on the Koran and for using appeals to frustrate the courts.
Anwar’s lawyers say they cannot defend their client properly without the prosecution’s medical evidence and that access has been blocked by a series of court rulings.
“One of my hands are tied and I am going into this boxing ring,” lawyer Sankara Nair told reporters outside the court. — Reuters
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