Given his troubles with cronies hounded by Hong Kong graft-buster ICAC, speculation that Musa Aman has finally agreed to step down as Sabah Chief Minister and move into the non-political office of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri or Head of State is gaining credence among Sabahans.
It is a trade-off many pundits have been predicting and say they would be relieved if it was true. Otherwise, the turmoil the feisty Musa could create with his fabulous wealth may indeed tear the East Malaysian state apart.
Shouts of secession, unheard since the 1980s, could even make a comeback as the Sabah leader plays a dangerous and high-stakes waiting game with his boss, Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Musa has this larger-than-life personality. For him to give up the Sabah chief minister's post will really be like sucking blood from him. He would never agree unless he was offered a higher post, a Sabah watcher told Malaysia Chronicle.
No doubt as YDPN, he wont have any official political power but he still gets to enjoy the trappings of exalted position, the chauffeurs, outriders and limousines. He will still be a part of the scene, a part of the in-circle and that's enough because from these corridors of power, he can wield influence and broker deals.
What about the ICAC
If so, then it would also mean that Najib has agreed not to chase after the slew of corruption complaints lodged against Musa and his friends, one of whom was actually arrested in Hong Kong in 2008 carrying a suitcase containing RM16 million in cash.
How would the PM put off the ICAC, whom sources said were finalizing their probe and are waiting for the go-ahead from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission before taking the next step? One highly-placed source had told Malaysia Chronicle the ICAC had recently warned it would confiscate a! ll the f unds found in an illegal money laundering racket uncovered during the probe on Musas cronies.
In the Sabah coffee-shops, the amount talked about is RM900 million and that is just in Hong Kong alone. It is hard to imagine Musa or Najib allowing the ICAC to confiscate so much money , the Sabah watcher said.
You see, to not probe Musa and his cronies for alleged corruption is one thing, to give him a Tun-ship for illegal immunity is another. But what about this money which will be confiscated on behalf of the Hong Kong government if Malaysia does not act against the culprits. Of course, to live and fight another day is wiser and Musa's cronies may reckon that as long as he is safe, new opportunities can always be found later.
The tale of Musa Aman and his simmering face-off with Najib is the stuff of spy thrillers and ruthless power struggles.
Sabah watchers recount in whispered tones how their chief minister had indicated to the Prime Minister that he would not step down, not without a fight. They talk about how his supporters would often threaten Putrajaya with pulling Sabah out of Malaysia.
I think Najib also got fed up with all these threats. For him, it is very simple. He needs a loyalist, someone obedient who wont always be talking secession the moment there is trouble. Musa is also the head of Sabah Umno and Sabah Umno now has the largest number of members, the insider said.
This gives Musa incredible clout and makes it even more crucial for Najib to put his own man in the chief minister's chair. Najib is also believed to be upset that Musa has been defiant and is taking his time to channel funds back to HQ in KL.
Out of Umno's total membership of 3,159,484, Sabah has 449,805, followed by Johor with 428,663 and Selangor with 414,142.
Seat-warmer for Shafie until 13th GE
At Najibs end, he is believed to be still keen on Shafie Apdal, the Umno national vice-president and MP for Semporna, taking over from Musa. However, to do so! , it wou ld require triggering a vacancy in one of Sabahs 60 state seats and a by-election may be too politically risky for both Najib and Shafie.
As such, many believe that a caretaker chief minister will named if Musa steps down according to plan, which is some time before the current Yang Di-Pertua Negeri, Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah ends his term in December.
Shafie is expected to be shuffled into a state seat at the 13th general election, which many believe will happen before May 2011, which is the latest for the Sarawak state elections to be conducted.
See What Barisan Nasional Gotta Say?
Malaysias Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, a natural target for critics because of his plodding approach and tendency for racial rhetoric, was the butt of more tongue-lashing from political rivals after he blamed a shift in the countrys political landscape for his Umno partys woes.
His call to change the perception of society towards his party comes a day after MCA vice-president Donald Lim proposed a Chinese version of Perkasa, an ultra Malay rights group patronized by the Umno elite. MCA is the second biggest party in the Umno-led ruling BN coalition.
Even MCA is not for 1Malaysia, everyone in BN is going the Perkasa way. Each ethnic group for itself - free for all, PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
This reflects the racial psyche among the BN leaders, because for too long, they have depended on ethnic identity to mobilize support whenever the going gets tough. So how can the DPM blame society now for the Umno-BNs own failure to embrace new politics and to implement new direction just because they themselves rejected new approaches for fear their political survival would be endangered.
It is not the Malays, not the races, but the Umno-BN government
Indeed, Muhyiddin himself recently sparked controversy when he declared he was Malay first and then only Malaysian words aimed at galvanizing support from his community, but which shocked the rest of the nation and also apparently contradicted Prime Minister Najib Razaks 1Malaysia platform.
To be fair to Muhyiddin, till now, 1Malaysia is shrouded in ambiguity as Najib himself is afraid to say out that all the races in the country are equal because ultra groups like Perkasa might jump on him for not favouring his own Malay community, the dominant ethnic group in the country.
! BN has f ailed because of Umno, not really MCA or MIC. It is Umno that brought BN down because its leaders have been too corrupt, too selfish and have no qualms about stirring up racial discord just so long as they can benefit from the scare-mongering and it can help them to keep their positions, PKR Sabah communications chief Ronnie Klassen told Malaysia Chronicle.
Because of their refusal to be inclusive, we have Malaysians asking questions based on ethnicity when that should never be the point. Whether it is a scholarship, or justice or professional treatment from the police, we should not ask on the basis of why - is it because I am Chinese not Malay, Indian not Malay or Sabahan and not peninsula Malay! What the people should zero in on is the common culprit the federal government. Why is the BN government so inefficient, why is it so corrupt, why does it allow racist policies to the extent I cant get that scholarship, or the justice or the decent respect due to me by my right as a citizen of this country."
On Sunday, at a party event, Muhyiddin had tried to rally supporters by pointing out that the BN had lost 10 out of 11 seats in Kuala Lumpur in the 2008 general election.
If you look at urban areas, there is a trend where there is less support for Umno. How do we work to solve an issue like this?You need skills to manage issues of the urban population, Muhyiddin was reported as saying in Malaysian Insider.
Do not be nostalgic and forget that the times have changed. The new generation of voters do not have baggage from the past, they dont want to know what Umno did to ensure the countrys independence, the sacrifice of past leaders.
Despite the placatory words, pundits accused the DPM of "just going through the motions and scratching at the surface of the complex problems enveloping Umno, and preventing the nation from greater progress economically and socially.
Would Muhyiddin dare to go a step further and tell Umno that extremist groups like Pe! rkasa ar e to be shunned and the way forward is a truly multi-racial government which the BN administration is obviously not. Otherwise, why is MCA suggesting a Chinese Perkasa and Umno itself is backing Perkasa, Tian said.
Letter & Opinion From Joe Public
July 11, 2010
Malaysias Rapid GDP Growth: External Factors not NEP, says Professor Datuk Dr Mohamed AriffBy Lee Wei Lian (www.themalaysiainsider.com)
The countrys premier economic think tanks ex-chief questioned Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamads assertion that the country grew rapidly due to the New Economic Policy (NEP), and instead said Malaysia should thank external factors.
Professor Datuk Dr Mohamed Ariff, distinguished fellow at the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research and its former executive director, also suggested that Malaysia could have grown even faster if the NEP restrictions were absent.
Mahathirs argument that the country had developed more rapidly under NEP is questionable, Ariff told The Malaysian Insider.Yes, Malaysia under Mahathirs leadership did post impressive growth rates, but that cannot be attributed to NEP. A counter argument would be that the economy grew rapidly not because of, but in spite of NEP.The high growth rates Malaysia registered during Dr Ms premiership was largely due to very favourable external circumstances, driven mainly by strong external demand for exports.
He also warned that the external factors are much less favourable now and NEP type policies could not help the nation.
NEP constraints will impair the countrys competitiveness in an increasingly competitive environment, said Ariff.
Mahathir said on Thursday that the country has developed more rapidly under the NEP and the countrys performance outpaced other developed nations.
The former prime minister had also said that the controversial NEP, which was introduced in 1971 and gave economic and other privileges to the Malay! s, was t o help them catch up to other communities and prevent racial riots.
Ariff said that affirmative action was relevant but Bumiputeras were shortchanged by the NEP as it benefitted the elite rather than the poor masses.
The NEP version of affirmative action could not trickle down as the lions share of the benefits were arrested at the top by politically well connected people, said Ariff. No one would deny that all Bumiputeras have got something out of it one way or another, but what they got was crumbs falling out of the table.
Malaysia, once counted as among Asias most prosperous countries in the 1960s and even through parts of the 1970 fell behind in the following decades.
Despite relatively high growth rates it is not kept pace with its Asian counterparts such as Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan which are now regarded as developed high income countries.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said, however, that affirmative action will be made more transparent and market friendly as part of his new economic reforms to boost the countrys competitiveness.
Letter & Opinion From Joe Public
|Kejadian Kg Memali: ‘Tidak kami sangka polis sanggup membunuh’ (2)|
|Written by Faisal Mustaffa|
Sambungan wawancara penulis dengan Senator Yusof Husin, seorang bekas tahanan ISA yang terlibat dengan peristiwa Memali di Baling. Bahagian (1) rencana ini diterbitkan kelmarin.
Usaha untuk menangkap Ibrahim Libya dilakukan bermula dari Sept 2, 1985 sehingga beliau berjaya diberkas. Situasi di mana orang kampung sendiri memberhentikan OCPD Baling, Tunku Muzaffar dan dua orang lagi pegawai polis yang sedang dalam perjalanan pada Okt 22 adalah di antara titik permulaan kepada ketegangan. Namun ramai yang mengepung OCPD, mereka dapat ditenangkan sehingga Tunku Muzaffar dibebaskan.
Pada Nov 19 sewaktu berlaku kepungan dan tindakan polis, seramai lebih kurang 160 orang kampung berkumpul di kawasan rumah Ibrahim Libya.
Polis melepaskan tembakan apabila tiga empat orang pengikut Ibrahim Libya meluru keluar dari tempat persembunyian mereka.
Click on image to enlarge
Yusof: Dan 3-4 orang berpatah balik masuk ke kawasan rumah.
Apabila tempoh Ustaz Ibrahim mati, keadaan menjadi semakin tegang.
Suasana gas pemedih mata yang dahsyat, anak ustaz Ibrahim Nurul Syuhada yang berumur tidak sampai setahun pengsan dibawa keluar oleh ahli keluarganya. Mereka melalui jalan kampung. Mendapat simpati pasukan polis yang berkawal di belakang yang memberi laluan supaya anak bongsu ustaz Ibrahim ini dibawa.
Ringkas ceritanya, pada ketika itu ada pengumuman pihak polis meminta ustaz Ibrahim Libya menyerah diri dengan menyebut diri beberapa orang lagi iaitu Ahmad Hassan dan saya sendiri supaya menyerah diri.
Ustaz Ibrahim tetap tegas bahawa dia tidak akan menyerah diri.
Hampir jam 12 malam setiap sudut dari depan belakang, rusuk kiri kanan, pasukan polis yang diketuai oleh UTK [Unit Tindakan Khas] yang memikirkan pada ketika itu kami semua sudah tidak bermaya kerana berada di dalam kawasan dipenuhi gas yang lebih dari tiga jam.
Banyak yang memberi kesan terutama kanak-kanak yang pengsan, golongan wanita yang lebih kurang 20 orang lebih termasuk anak isteri ustaz Ibrahim Libya.
Dan pada ketika itu sebahagian daripada kami yang berada di situ melaungkan takbir.
Senjata yang kami ada pada ketika itu semuanya senjata tradisional iaitu seperti parang panjang, pedang, buluh runcing; senjata tradisional, senjata kampung.
Selepas Cikgu Shafie ini ditembak oleh anggota polis maka di dalam kebetulan salah seorang ahli kumpulan kami mempunyai senapang patah kepunyaan Rela, senjata kepunyaan kerajaan ahli Rela. Dengan senapang itulah menembak balas anggota polis dan tidak pasti sama ada mengena atau pun tidak anggota polis.
Selepas itu berlakulah serangan.
Ada 14 orang terbunuh termasuk tertembak di dadanya dan empat orang polis terbunuh. Itupun saya tahu kemudian harinya.
Saya tidak cedera. Cuma cedera kecil sahaja. Saya terus dibawa ke balai polis.
Pergelutan itu berlaku apabila ada di antara orang kampung yang keluar ke hadapan. Ada di antara anggota polis sudah masuk ke kawasan. Saya tidak pasti empat orang anggota polis itu terkena dengan parang atau pun peluru buta dari peluru rakan senjata mereka.
Jadi, apabila serangan itu berlaku, keadaan menjadi kelam-kabut dan mereka dengan banyaknya masuk.
Sebahagiannya dibawa ke UKK [Unit Kecemasan dan Kemalangan], mereka dibawa ke situ dan kemudiannya baru diagihkan ke balai polis di seluruh negeri Kedah. Saya terus dibawa ke Alor Setar tetapi saya dibawa berasingan dan tidak dibenarkan bersama yang lain. Di tempat tahanan pun tidak dibenarkan bersama yang lain.
Ramai ditangkap dan ada yang lain-lain pun ditahan; termasuk ibu, bapa dia, anak dia, isterinya – semuanya tak silap saya seramai 160 yang ditahan ke banyak balai polis. Akhirnya semuanya dibebas kecuali 36 orang ditahan di Kamunting di bawah ISA, termasuklah saya.
Apabila saya dibebaskan, kami bersama peguam-peguam cuba membawa kembali kes ini. Cuma dapat dibawa balik kes balu di mana suami-suami mereka dibunuh; seramai 14 bawa balik. Yang itu boleh, yang itu jalan.
Perbicaraan demi perbicaraan berlaku. Pihak kami dan pihak kerajaan menghadapi masalah sebab kebanyakan saksi-saksi sudah meninggal dunia.
Kes ini diselesaikan di pihak mahkamah di mana kerajaan Malaysia membayar pampasan RM20,000 seorang kepada waris 14 orang yang dibunuh di dalam peristiwa ini, [Akan tetapi] lain-lain kes tahanan itu luput begitu sahaja.
Semasa saya dalam tahanan, banyak pegawai polis pun menyebut bahawa peristiwa ini tidak sepatutnya berlaku. Kalau dilihat ucapan saya di dalam Hansard parlimen, saya berucap panjang di mana kerajaan tidak sepatutnya membunuh ulama terkenal. Kita nak wujudkan seorang ulama dan dibunuh begitu sahaja hanya kerana melaksanakan ISA.
Sebenarnya perkara ini boleh dielakkan sekiranya ada cara yang kena.
Jadi, mereka itu tetap berkeras untuk melaksanakan serangan itu, maka terjadilah, peristiwa itu pun berlaku.
Click on image to expand
Kalau diikutkan sejarah yang ditulis menimbulkan mahasiswa, petani turun ramai [di Baling] …apakah isu? Adakah faktor inflasi yang teruk sehingga kaum mahasiswa dan petani tidak berpuas hati selain cara-cara pidato Ibrahim Libya.
Demonstrasi berlaku pada tahun 1974 yang menyebabkan Anwar Ibrahim ditahan. Pada ketika itu, ustaz Ibrahim Libya masih menjawat jawatan….
Peristiwa Memali berlaku tahun 1985. Maknanya 11 tahun daripada tarikh itu. Keadaan kehidupan pada ketika berlaku peristiwa Memali agak berbeza walaupun ada tahap hidup ramai orang kampung di mana ramai anak-anak orang kampung yang bekerja di luar yang memberi sokongan kepada keluarga mereka.
Keadaan tidak seperti tahun 1974 tetapi sokongan yang diberikan kerana keikhlasan yang ditunjukkan oleh ustaz Ibrahim Libya dan ketegasannya menentang ISA.
Dan dia telah mengotakan apa yang disebut.
Maknanya, tidak ada sebarang rundingan?
Secara serius dengan saya sendiri tidak ada rundingan. Cuma secara tidak langsung dengan pihak polis yang melalui seorang dua yang saya sendiri tidak mengingati nama mereka…
Tidak serah diri. Itu merupakan arahan. Mesti ada alternatifnya. Mesti ada mekanisme yang memberi keuntungan kepada kedua-dua pihak tetapi apa yang ada supaya dia menyerah diri di bawah ISA.
Dan itu menjadi satu benda yang menjadi tentangan dia dan dia menekankan termasuk kepada Allahyarham ustaz Fadzil Nor, Presiden PAS pada ketika itu bahawa dia hendak melawan ISA jiwa raga supaya ia merupakan sejarah dalam negara supaya orang boleh melihat bagaimana kerajaan Umno dan Barisan Nasional sanggup membunuh bangsa sendiri kerana melaksanakan ISA.
Malaysia Boleh should have another caption to match it, Malaysia Boliau ... where our money seems to come, go and disappear in an instant. And if we take this to measure corporate governance and accountability in our beloved country, our present ranking is a mockery to our sense of justice and responsibility.
Much ado has passed over the last few months in what used to be fertile and tranquil corporate Malaysia. Despite the failings and more failures recorded, corporate Malaysia used to be immune to the toxic ingredients of politics, governance and figureheads. But all that changed when Sime Darby, the bastion of corporate exuberance announced it lost more than RM1billion over its last financial year.
Close scrutiny of the announcement would have at least saved the grace of fallen MD Ahmad Zubir Murshid. That Zubir was made the scapegoat for the entire Board of Directors’ failure to exercise prudent management and conduct a thorough risk analysis and profiling of its investments have, at present at least, made our corporate governance and the penchant for accountability the laughing stock of the entire business world.
Sure, as the head honcho, Zubir was responsible with dealing with the management and investments made by the bloated Sime Group. But no decision can be made without Board approval ... so the board is absolved from responsibility for losing so much of taxpayers’ money? In that light, the fact that a small company which happened to be a subsidiary of the CIMB group (or so they say) made a few hundred million ringgit in handling the merger process between Sime, Guthrie and Golden Hope was also overlooked. Could the huge payment be merited and thrust into the accounts? One wonders whether it actually made it into the accounts in the first place, failing which the losses would be even more apparent for all to see.
But if all of its directors and boards or whatever hold dear to the holy grail of accountability, then all should resign as a mark of respect to Malaysians, taxpayers and God. Sime is owned by the PNB group, where the pakciks and makciks in the villagers toiled each day to keep what extra they made in this pristine institution. Where is the accountability of Sime’s owners for failing to watch over the company?
In Malaysia one former Prime Minister coined the caption Malaysia Boleh – an inspirational call for Malaysians to rise up to the challenge to propel the country towards its 20-20 vision. No harm in having such a call. But in answering the call, many of our corporations, leaders and even followers have unearthed another caption – where there’s money to be made anything is Boleh.
So we have Khazanah, a trusted arm of the government being blessed with the job to help flailing GLCs to move forward and to recover. One such job was the restructuring of the behemoth Renong group – where there sat one Tajudin Ramli, proud benefactor of the Daim era. When Khazanah approached him to claim its RM2 billion debt which he owed them, he managed to pull off a Houdini act by not having to pay a single cent of debt, and instead was let off the hook for a few hundred million profit. Let me get this straight, you owe Khazanah 2 billion but when you give back the company to the government you make a few hundred million ... wow, sounds fair to Bolehlanders anyway.
Then Proton, the see-saw king on wheels who so far have driven us mad with the escalating prices of cars and yet no good product to show which is comparable to other makes. One of its bosses must have struck oil when he or she advised the company to purchase MV Augusta, a company which was reaping in billions of debt. Yes, reaping as that was what happened to the company when Proton had to sell it to a third party for a mere 1 Euro. In Bolehland we are made to believe that any project is viable even if the taxpayers have to fork out their entire savings to invest in lost causes. What did its risk analysis had to say during the purchase process, if it was done in the first place that is? That currently the bike company has made a comeback should shock Proton who was forced to sell it as junk ... who made the decision there, what happened to the principle of accountability and what ever happened to the people who made the purchase in the first place. What about Proton’s dream of producing world class bikes of its own? Currently the only thing worth mentioning about Proton is its bicycles, although that too is overpriced for most Malaysians.
Then Proton made another mark in history by offering compensation to sack its MD ... errr something like EPL stuff here for under-performing. This MD didn’t even say thank you, but actually asked the company for more compensation! For what, we will never know. He got it, and again the spirit of Bolehland shows us anything is possible.
Proton owns 100% of Lotus. That Lotus has no respect for we Malaysians is already a humdinger as to why we keep the management still in its place and instead really put people who can saddle the job better. That Proton invested hundreds of millions of dollars which it did not have on Lotus and on those failed R&D projects (especially on hybrid technology) are left untouched to this day ... and allegedly this fine culture is being continued by whoever is running the show now. Any guesses? If this is true, my only explanation is that maybe we’re building a legacy to make the caption Malaysia Boleh a truly Malaysian caption.
Then came the real sucker punch, when the new boss of Petronas announced that the oil giant (small in the world but of economic saving proportions for Malaysia) is now going to concentrate its efforts on local exploration efforts. Err ... Mr CEO, can you clarify that isn’t that what Petronas was supposed to be doing over the last 30 years or so? Exactly what has Petronas been up to other than wasting our hard-earned money on F1?
Maybe its employees should come clean and spit it out in the open ... the 3 months bonus awarded might prove a bit too much for them to come clean .... But allegations are surfacing that most (some say above 80%) of Petronas’ foreign exploration efforts have come out short ... sorry, deep and empty. In one particular case, it was alleged that Petronas paid an extra USD100 million above the price paid to the Sudanese government to a French company that has yet to struck oil in Sudan, for its rights there. The French was all too willing to let this project go, since it only had 3 months left in its agreement. So Petronas paid extra for something yet to bear fruit which was about to de dumped. Another feather in the cap for the Boleh history books.
Since the company is under the government’s lock and key, we will never know any truth to the allegations, unless the government itself can unlock the mystery. Will it do so? We can only hope and pray accountability will prevail at the end of the day.
If we take into calculation that the allegations are correct, we have actually managed to lose money that at present the government allegedly have to source from some pension fund and other friendly GLCs, if they have any to spare that is. And here we are still crapping about how good our companies are doing.
Malaysia Boleh should have another caption to match it, Malaysia Boliau ... where our money seems to come, go and disappear in an instant. And if we take this to measure corporate governance and accountability in our beloved country, our present ranking is a mockery to our sense of justice and responsibility. Maybe we should next apply for high ranking jobs in these institutions and see if the Boleh culture can be turned into a legacy of its own.
Selangorians may soon have a civil liberty no other citizen in Malaysia can claim. The State Government is tabling its Freedom of Information Bill at the week-long State Legislative Assembly meeting beginning tomorrow.By Shaila Koshy, The Sunday Star
IMAGINE walking into a state department or agency in Selangor and asking for information on how much was spent on beautifying the streets in your neighbourhood with fancy street lights that stopped working after a few months.
Or about whether the draft plans from 10 years ago have been gazetted.
Or whether the land use in the area where you were going to buy a plot is still fully residential and not changed to include light industrial.
Getting that information might well become a reality as the Selangor State Government is tabling its Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill 2010 during the week-long State Legislature meeting beginning tomorrow.
The Pakatan Rakyat coalition in Selangor is striving to keep the promise it made to voters at the 2008 General Election.
In an exclusive interview, Bukit Lanjan assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong tells Sunday Star the Bill would stipulate a response time of 30 days.
However, in life-threatening situations, the information requested for would be delivered in seven days.
But before Selangorians jump up and down for joy, they should bear in mind that this law can only cover what is under the state’s jurisdiction, that is – land, local government, forestry and statutory bodies and state government-linked companies.
“Education and the police, for example, are federal jurisdiction and so they won’t be covered,” says Wong who heads the FOI Special Taskforce.
The other no-no, as in FOI laws elsewhere, are matters relating to national security.
The good news is this is not a profit-making service: applicants only pay the real cost of getting the information.
“Once you make a request, you can expect one of three responses: whether you can or cannot have it; whether they have the information or not; or that you can’t because it’s national security.”
And the Government has to give a reason for any denial of information.
Also, a rejected applicant can appeal to an independent appeal board, much like the Housing Board, for example on whether the information requested indeed relates to national security, Wong says.
She adds that the board will be made up of two former judges as well as those who are advocates and solicitors of the High Court of Malaya, members of the Legal and Judicial Service and others with similar experience. It would not exceed six members.
Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had announced a year ago that they would enact an FOI law to allow citizens access to information relating to administration.
Why has it taken this long and was there any consultation?
Wong, who is also the state executive councillor for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and the Environment, says the time was spent on consultation and drafting.
While there is existing FOI legislation in 80 countries, including Commonwealth countries, she notes that “drafting is a difficult process.”
“We’ve gone through five or six drafts,” adds Wong whose taskforce members included groups like Suaram, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Transparency International – Malaysia, and the Coalition of Good Governance.
She says the first draft, which came from CIJ and HRC, was sent to the State Legal Adviser for her feedback and then to a drafting committee for fine-tuning.
And while it went through a few loops of feedback and fine-tuning, the substance of the first draft remains, Wong says.
“We also had a legal firm go through it as well, following which some amendments were made.
“The FOI Bill is a labour of love by all parties – the non-governmental organisations, CIJ, HRC and individuals in political parties.”
The process is crucial
Wong, at pains to stress the process is just as important to Pakatan as the final product, says consultation was a key feature.
And this will continue after the Bill’s First and Second readings in the State Legislature this week.
“After the Second Reading, a Select Committee will be set up to get feedback from a wide array of people like the Association of Civil Servants, Attorney-General’s Chambers, NGOs, civil society and the public.
“Anyone can propose changes and we will take all suggestions seriously,” says Wong, adding that the Bill will be available after its First Reading.
But is Pakatan only looking for feedback on the letter of the law?
Wong says no; educating the public on what freedom of information is and what it will mean for the people is just as important.
“The education of the public and civil servants will be done by the Select Committee, the state and NGOs,” she says, adding that the Select Committee will work out the cost of the whole exercise.
She envisages the process to take three to six months.
When asked whether the Bill was premised on a constitutional guarantee or on international norms, Wong sighs and says: “We’re one of the few left behind who don’t have an FOI law.”
While Selangor’s Bill is based more on international norms, she says, the spirit of the Federal Constitution suggests an FOI law is necessary to advance civil liberties in Malaysia.
“We are also asserting our right as a state – since the Constitution provides that certain areas come under our purview – to make public information that is under our control.”
There was talk after Khalid’s announcement that it was just a political gimmick. Is the state expecting any obstacles, in the form of conflicts with laws passed by Parliament like the Official Secrets Act?
Wong doesn’t see any potential conflict with the OSA but says it may come from the A-G’s Chambers.
Asked whether the State Legal Adviser had been supportive, Wong says Datin Paduka Zauyah T Loth Khan had expressed some concerns early on but that was because “it has never been done before.”
She notes that some Exco members were also cautious but everything had come together in the last couple of months.
“In fact, the legal adviser helped refine the draft for us,” says Wong, adding that the Select Committee’s feedback from the public and studies of other FOI laws would help to further refine the Bill.
How long after it is gazetted will the new law become operational?
Wong says that if civil society feels they need more time the Government would not rush them.
“After all, even the Parliamentary Select Committee on amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code took over a year.”
Britain’s FOI legislation was passed in 2000 but was only enforced in 2005 so everything could be in place. Can Pakatan afford a delay since the next election is not that far away?
“As soon as it’s gazetted, it will be operational.
“It’s an administrative matter. Britain is huge, unlike Selangor, and its information goes far back.
“Governments have been operating in secrecy for donkey’s years. We need to change that.”
Reiterating Pakatan’s promise to “make governance transparent and Government accountable,” Wong adds, “with that always in mind, decisions will be made with accountability in mind.
“That is what the Mentri Besar is trying to do in the Exco and this Bill will standardise a culture of openness and transparency in all local councils and state agencies.”
Asked whether the state would be publishing information pro-actively, Wong says they are doing so already.
And Khalid has been using his powers under Section 2C of the OSA to declassify some of the previous government’s documents, with a mix of success and failure, she says. (See chart).
Once the Bill is tabled, it will be interesting to see whether there will be censorship of information that is released – for example, black lines across certain details in some minutes on a council sub-committee discussion on whether a temple in a neighbourhood is legal; or whether all data will be digitised from now.
And how much of the state Budget is the state prepared to give? Photocopying is not cheap, the training of the PIOs will take time and money; and storing data in an accessible format can be a costly affair.
More importantly, ensuring that the mechanisms for implementation of the Bill are in place will be crucial.
It won’t just be the Federal Government watching what happens in the Selangor State Legislature this week: it will be Malaysians in the other states as well.
July 11, 2010
Dead for a Century, Twain Says What He Meant
by Larry Rohter (published July 9, 2010)
Wry and cranky, droll and cantankerous thats the Mark Twain we think we know, thanks to reading Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in high school. But in his unexpurgated autobiography, whose first volume is about to be published a century after his death, a very different Twain emerges, more pointedly political and willing to play the role of the angry prophet.
Whether anguishing over American military interventions abroad or delivering jabs at Wall Street tycoons, this Twain is strikingly contemporary. Though the autobiography also contains its share of homespun tales, some of its observations about American life are so acerbic at one point Twain refers to American soldiers as uniformed assassins that his heirs and editors, as well as the writer himself, feared they would damage his reputation if not withheld.
From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out, Twain instructed them in 1906. There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see.
Twains decree will be put to the test when the University of California Press publishes the first of three volumes of the 500,000-word Autobiography of Mark Twain in November. Twain dictated most of it to a stenographer in the four years before his death at 74 on April 21, 1910. He argued that speaking his recollections and opinions, rather than writing them down, allowed him to adopt a more natural, colloquial and frank tone, and Twain scholars who have seen the manuscript agree.
In popular culture today, Twain is Colonel Sanders without the chicken, the avuncular man who told
The editors behind the forthcoming Autobiography of Mark Twain, from left: Michael B. Frank, Victor Fischer, Harriet E. Smith, Sharon Goetz, Robert Hirst and Benjamin Griffin.
stories, Ron Powers, the author of Mark Twain: A Life, said in a phone interview. Hes been scrubbed and sanitized, and his passion has been kind of forgotten in all these long decades. But here he is talking to us, without any filtering at all, and what comes through that we have lost is precisely this fierce, unceasing passion.
Next week the British literary magazine Granta will publish an excerpt from the autobiography, called The Farm. In it Twain recalls childhood visits to his uncles Missouri farm, reflects on slavery and the slave who served as the model for Jim in Huckleberry Finn, and offers an almost Proustian meditation on memory and remembrance, with watermelon and maple sap in place of Prousts madeleine.
I can see the farm yet, with perfect clearness, he writes. I can see all its belongings, all its details. Of slavery, he notes that color and condition interposed a subtle line between him and his black playmates, but confesses: In my schoolboy days, I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware there was anything wrong about it.
Versions of the autobiography have been published before, in 1924, 1940 and 1959. But the original editor, Albert Bigelow Paine, was a stickler for propriety, cutting entire sections he thought offensive; his successors imposed a chronological cradle-to-grave narrative that Twain had specifically rejected, altered his distinctive punctuation, struck additional material they considered uninteresting and generally bowed to the desire of Twains daughter Clara, who died in 1962, to protect her fathers image.
Paine was a Victorian editor, said Robert Hirst, curator and general editor of the Mark Twain Papers and Project at the Bancroft Library at the University of California,! Berkele y, where Twains papers are housed. He has an exaggerated sense of how dangerous some of Twains statements are going to be, which can extend to anything: politics, sexuality, the Bible, anything thats just a little too radical. This goes on for a good long time, a protective attitude that is very harmful.
Twains opposition to incipient imperialism and American military intervention in Cuba and the Philippines, for example, were well known even in his own time. But the uncensored autobiography makes it clear that those feelings ran very deep and includes remarks that, if made today in the context of Iraq or Afghanistan, would probably lead the right wing to question the patriotism of this most American of American writers.
In a passage removed by Paine, Twain excoriates the iniquitous Cuban-Spanish War and Gen. Leonard Woods mephitic record as governor general in Havana. In writing about an attack on a tribal group in the Philippines, Twain refers to American troops as our uniformed assassins and describes their killing of six hundred helpless and weaponless savages as a long and happy picnic with nothing to do but sit in comfort and fire the Golden Rule into those people down there and imagine letters to write home to the admiring families, and pile glory upon glory.
He is similarly unsparing about the plutocrats and Wall Street luminaries of his day, who he argued had destroyed the innate generosity of Americans and replaced it with greed and selfishness. The world believes that the elder Rockefeller is worth a billion dollars, Twain observes. He pays taxes on two million and a half.
Justin Kaplan, author of Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography, said in a telephone interview: One thing that gets Mark Twain going is his rage and resentment. There are a number of passages where he wants to get even, to settle scores with people whom he really despises. He loved invective.
The material in Volume 1 that was omitted from previous editions amounts to maybe as little as! 5 perce nt of the dictations, said Harriet E. Smith, chief editor of the autobiography. But there will be a much higher percentage in Volumes 2 and 3, each expected to be about 600 pages.
By the time all three volumes are available, Mr. Hirst said, about half will not have ever been in print before. A digital online edition is also planned, Ms. Smith said, ideally to coincide with publication of Volume 1 of the complete and authoritative edition, as the work is being called.
Some of Twains most critical remarks about individuals are directed at names that have faded from history. He complains about his lawyer, his publisher, the inventor of a failed typesetting machine who he feels fleeced him, and is especially hard on a countess who owns the villa in which he lived with his family in Florence, Italy, in 1904. He describes her as excitable, malicious, malignant, vengeful, unforgiving, selfish, stingy, avaricious, coarse, vulgar, profane, obscene, a furious blusterer on the outside and at heart a coward.
About literary figures of his time, however, Twain has relatively little to say. He dislikes Bret Harte, whom he dismisses as always bright but never brilliant; offers a sad portrait of an aged and infirm Harriet Beecher Stowe; and lavishly praises his friend William Dean Howells. He reserved criticism of novelists whose work he disliked (Henry James, George Eliot) for his letters.
Critics, though, are another story. I believe that the trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value, Twain writes. However, let it go, he adds. It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and Congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden.
As aggrieved as he sometimes appears in the autobiography, the reliable funnyman is in evidence too. Twain recalls being invited to an official White House dinner and being warned by his wife, Olivia, who stayed at home, not to wear his ! winter g aloshes. At the White House, he sought out the first lady, Frances Cleveland, and got her to sign a card on which was written He didnt.
Mr. Hirst said: Ive read this manuscript a million times, and it still makes me laugh. This is a guy who made literature out of talk, and the autobiography is the culmination, the pinnacle of that impulse.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/10/books
See What Barisan Nasional Gotta Say?
PUTRAJAYA: The Government has decided to set up a committee to stop the dissemination of false news, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
He said if lies were allowed to be disseminated, those doing it would think what they did was right.
“All this while, the Government did not take any stern action.
“However, if this is allowed to carry on, the people would continue to be cheated,” he told reporters after chairing the ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting here.
He said that besides himself, other committee members were Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz.
“At the committee’s first meeting three days ago, we decided to set up a high-level task force comprising senior officers from enforcement agencies under the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
“The Committee also discussed several related issues including the definition for fallacious news,” he said, adding that the media would be provided with a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure they didn’t run afoul of the law.
He said a draft of the guidelines, which would have clearer rules and regulations for all media, had been handed over to the A-G’s Chambers two days ago.
Hishammuddin also said a “Balai League Table” would be launched on Wednesday to grade each police station according to its performance and achievement.
In Kota Baru, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said the federal government should accept criticisms of its administration and not try to stifle the right to speak up.
“If the Government of the day has no answers to the questions brought up by the Opposi-tion, why bother to run the Government?” he said during the weekly religious lecture held at Dataran Ilmu along Jalan Dato Pati here yesterday.
On Thursday, PAS organ Harakah had reported that its management was trying its best to get a permit for its operations.
Harakah’s printing permit expired on Wednesday.
Dr Mahathir retired in 2003. In 2004 his successor, our 5th PM took us through the GE11. UMNO won big. The period 2004-2008, can be said to be wholly Pak Lah's era. He took many measures. He carried out a lot of programs. He brought perestroika onto local politics. He gave too much room to UMNO people. They became critical and at the same time, went out of control.
The freedom given, tuned many lesser UMNO leaders into political fiends. Nazri Aziz was particularly fiendish when he continuously belittled and berated Tun Dr Mahathir. When he did that, I thought this is it. You are hitting at the great helmsman.
I find some parallels of what happened in UMNO with what happened in Tiananmen square. Zhao Ziyang was liberal and gave too much space to students and Chinese citizens. They were at first given freedom to agitate for democracy even though as admitted by many students, they didn't know what democracy meant, but wanted more of it anyway. But when the freedom spilled over to explicit criticism towards Deng Hsiaoping, that was it. The Chinese government sent in the tanks. Li Peng, the hardliner won the day and he was supported by Deng.
Nazri and his ilk did just that. You hit back at a former premier who governed for 22 years who gave Malaysians a sense of purpose and pride, you can't expect not to suffer consequences. Pak Lah wanted to be loved more than to be feared. By fear, I don't mean, he orders people to be shot or incarcerated indiscriminately. Fear as in firm and resolute and having a just do it attitude.
When GE12 came, the BN was severely mauled. The opposition won several states and got 82 parliamentary seats. Now of course the Opposition has less MPs as a result of defections. It also lost Perak when its members reneged and went over to the dark other side.
On all accounts, Pak Lah has been failure. He failed to win big in the elections. The losses incurred reflect what is wrong with the BN its policies. But it was also a reflection of heightened political and social awareness.
Pak lah's failure is also Dr Mahathir's failure. It reflected badly on him as far as picking choices is concerned. He has failed in this aspects several times already. Beginning with Musa, then Ghafar Baba and then Anwar Ibrahim. He wasn't able to bring in a good running mate. Pak lah was smart in the sense he kept his true self concealed. He later proved to be not docile as expected by Dr Mahathir.
When he began dismantling many of Tun Mahathir's legacy and projects, that unleashed the master's fury. The unleashing proved fatal as it galvanizes moves to oust Pak Lah from office even before his tenure was completed. We can say, this was a palace coup. Orchestrated by people within UMNO leadership itself, drawing impetus from the attacks by Dr Mahathir.
Beyond the clash of egos, we can look at the politics in this way. We have failed to develop a system of self continuity in which the best and ablest can come forward. Much of the fault lies with Dr Mahathir too. Because he wasn't able to put in place a system that ensures self continuity which require space for the best and ablest. Instead he puts in place a system, where the second best and mediocre rise to the top to ensure the same system is replicated. In UMNO the quota system designed to prevent busybodies and crackpots from challenging the president's position. The system proved to be a hurdle for the emergence of credible leaders who can offer competitive values.
Instead we have a system, where self perpetuation is the driving force. The system breaks down, when it elevates people not up to their job. Pak Lah proved to be inadequate for the job. The jury is still out on Najib although he is showing dangerous signs of also being inadequate. Many UMNO people, deep in their hearts are not saying that Najib is doing a good job. UMNO may implode during his watch. Already the UMNO grassroots are thinking how to save UMNO.
It may because, we haven't put a system where the ablest and brightest can offer themselves to public service. We have a lot of cartoon characters yes. But the ablest and brightest are shying away from UMNO.
The problem with Pak Lah is- he wanted to be loved and not feared. He didn't study the Prince which postulates that it's better to be loved or feared or both. If one has to choose one, then to be feared is better. Not sure if he was loved. But certainly he wasn't feared at all. he lets loose all the Kraken in UMNO and in the BN component parties. MCA an MIC demanded so many things that people were saying, during Mahathir's time, these parties were all muted.
Look at the leadership of UMNO now. you have the 3 vice presidents. You have the Sabahan who always seem to be diffident and has a nervous energy emanating from him. You have the defense minister from Perak who says he is just looking at the papers passing through his desk. And then you have that ow, ow Minister of Home affairs.
The denial of publishing permits for Suara Keadilan and Harakah robs ordinary Malaysians of their democratic right to information from a broad spectrum of the political parties in the country, observes Mustafa Kamal Anuar.
Malaysia’s Home Ministry recently has denied the party organs of Pas and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Harakah and Suara Keadilan, their respective publishing permits. This effectively means that the political parties have been muzzled by the BN government.
The Home Minister’s action, which is provided for under the omnipotent Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA), has serious implications: it deprives the two political parties of an important medium to communicate with their members and the wider public.
Like other political parties such as Umno, MCA and MIC, both PAS and PKR have the democratic right to spread their respective ideologies, ideas and policy statements to the general public. The party organs are crucial to the parties concerned given that opposition parties in Malaysia generally are often not given enough space by the mainstream media, which are largely owned by the ruling group. As many are aware, even if opposition politicians and parties do appear in the mainstream media, they often are depicted in a negative light, such as squabbling partners in the Pakatan Rakyat – as if there is no friction or tension within the ruling BN coalition.
This permit denial has another grim implication: ordinary Malaysians are robbed of their democratic right to have access to information about and ideas from a broad spectrum of the political parties that exist in the country. To be sure, Malaysians have the right to make an informed choice when it comes to voting a political party into power.
Moreover, the affected party organs are not given the right to defend themselves in the face of accusations that they have made editorial or journalistic errors. If it is true that they indeed have made a mistake (such as defamation), they then should be brought to court where truth and justice can be achieved.
It patently doesn’t serve justice and democracy when party organs have been bludgeoned by the Home Minister via the refusal of publishing permit for a matter or issue that requires a settlement in court. This also lends credence to the suspicion that the BN government doesn’t take kindly to criticism from various quarters in society despite its purported willingness to listen to the rakyat.
Even if it is true, as alleged by certain observers, that the Home Ministry takes a bit of time to process the renewal of publishing permit, it is nonetheless tantamount to unnecessary political intimidation of publications that are perceived to be critical of the powers-that-be. Indeed, to publish should be a matter of right in a democracy.
An important lesson from this sordid episode is that the PPPA is archaic and irrelevant to modern times, and a nagging insult to intellectual decency, democracy and justice. Mustafa Kamal Anuar is assistant secretary of Aliran and joint coordinator of Charter 2000-Aliran.
Shafie, who is also rural and regional development minister, was commenting on Trevio Strategies and Media Inc president Joshua Trevio that Anwar hired media contacts, particularly in CNN proper to apologise on his Jew-bashing.
For sure we know that Mahathir paid over USD1 million to have tea with ex-President Bush, while Najib paid RM77 million to APCO to arrange for a handshake with President Obama.
Anwar spend about 30 minutes of valuable time on CNN that was beamed thru out the world on prime time, that Mahathir and Najib missed badly.
Letter & Opinion From Joe Public
(Harakahdaily) - Mursyidul Am, Tuan Guru Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat meminta pemimpin dan penyokong Pakatan Rakyat memboikot semua media pro-BN jika permit untuk akhbar pro-Pakatan tidak diperbaharui.
“Saya harap permit Harakah dan Suara Keadilan diperbaharui. Bagaimanapun, jika kedua-dua akhbar yang menjadi suara rasmi Pakatan ini tidak diperbaharui, saya cadangkan arahan rasmi dikeluarkan kepada pemimpin dan penyokong Pakatan agar mula memboikot media pro BN," kata beliau melalui laman komuniti Facebook hari ini.
Beliau dipercayai mengulas tindakan Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) yang sehingga kini tidak menyambung permit Harakah dan Suara Keadilan yang telah tamat tempoh.
Turut tamat tempoh adalah permit akhbar Rocket versi Bahasa Inggeris yang dimiliki oleh DAP.
Permit akhbar Harakah tamat pada 7 Julai lepas. Pada 5 Julai, Pemangku Ketua Pengarang Harakah, Taufek Yahya telah dipanggil mengadap lapan pegawai KDN di Putrajaya.
Pada 8 Julai lepas, KDN menghantar satu surat tunjuk sebab kepada Harakah kenapa tindakan tidak boleh dikenakan ke atas akhbar itu.
Pada 9 Julai, Taufek sendiri telah ke pejabat KDN di Putrajaya menghantar jawapan Harakah ke atas surat tunjuk sebab itu. Ia dijawab sendiri oleh Pengarah Urusan Harakah yang juga AJK PAS Pusat, Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar.
Kamarudin dalam kenyataannya berkata, Harakah akan diterbitkan seperti biasa kerana permohonan penyambungan permit sudah dibuat kepada KDN dan Harakah memang menunggu kelulusan permit itu.
Sementara itu, KDN memberikan amaran kepada PKR agar jangan menerbitkan Suara Keadilan kerana pihaknya tidak berpuashati dengan jawapan PKR ke atas isu 'Felda Bankrap".
Dalam kenyataannya, Nik Aziz yang juga Menteri Besar Kelantan meminta KDN atau kerajaan mengambil pendekatan menyaman Harakah jika ada apa-apa kesalahan yang dibuat bukannya membatal atau menarik permit akhbar itu.
"Jika mereka rasa Harakah salah, mereka boleh saman dan memberikan bukti kesalahan Harakah jika ada," katanya.