Tuesday, February 26, 2008

DAP Makes Empty Promises, Says Najib - Bernama

PEKAN, Feb 26 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, described DAP's proposal to offer a bonus of up to RM6,000 per family for households earning RM6,000 or less per annum as an empty promise and will ruin the country.

He said any promise made must be based on the ability to pay and not just to fish for votes during the March 8 general election.

"This is the work of the opposition who can only make promises. Everybody can make promises. I can promise this and that. But they must be within our capability to fulfil them," he told reporters at the DRB-HICOM Bhd's meet-the-people session here today.

He said if the country spent more than it's capable of, it would result in a deficit and the country's debt would increase.

On the opposition's strategy to deny to Barisan Nasional two-third majority, Najib said voters must make wise decision to set up a strong government which would be able to gain the confidence of investors.

[More at]

Monday, February 25, 2008

BN launches manifesto -

Barisan Nasional's promises in its manisfesto are realistic and responsible. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says the government's plan is people-centred during the launch of BN's manifesto and campaign website Monday.

BN Confident With Strong Track Record - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 (Bernama) -- Armed with a strong track record in the past four years that shows the country's impressive economic, social and technology advancement, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) is seeking a fresh mandate for continuity with promises to take the nation to greater heights.

BN, which started the 13-day campaigning for the March 8 general election by winning seven parliamentary and two state seats uncontested on the nomination day yesterday, unveiled its progress report and election manifesto today, with the theme "Security, Peace and Prosperity".

A day after nomination, more than 1,500 candidates have begun the gruelling 13-day campaign period with house-to-house visits and endless "ceramah" to canvass for votes and win the hearts of over 10.9 million eligible voters.

Launched by Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the manifesto contains among others the 14-party coalition's pledges to raise the country's productivity, revenue and competitiveness, as well as generating more than two million jobs in five years.

Abdullah, who took the helm in 2003, also reiterated BN's promise to address the people's concern over price increases for essential goods, citing the RM43.4 billion spent in the form of subsidies last year alone.

"We promise to continue to work with the people. We promise to manage and expend the country's finances prudently," said Abdullah, adding that BN's promises were realistic.

[More at]

Rights for all, match-making and housing discounts in PAS manifesto - The Star

KOTA BARU: PAS launched its general election manifesto promising development, rights for all races, match-making for women marrying late and a 20% discount in housing for the poor. Entitled, “Development In Line With Islam – Spearheading Changes For Blessings”, the manifesto pledged to make Tumpat its window to global trade by making it a business and tourist city through joint ventures.

The Islamist party also promised to develop Bachok as a tourist centre and create a knowledge centre in Gua Musang.

It said it planned to develop 2,000 acres in Gua Musang and Lojing for science, technology, economy, tourism and an Islamic centre.

For agriculture, the manifesto also identified the expensive agawood and biofuel for cars as a potential income generator.

To overcome the problem of women marrying late, the party pledged to use a matchmaking approach and lower the amount of mas kahwin (dowry).

The party also said women would be given 90 days' maternity leave and that there would be women village heads representing women's affairs in all districts and constituencies.

While the manifesto was silent on hudud law and the Islamic state concept, PAS said it would improve its anti-vice programmes by strengthening the enforcement agencies in the state. The party also said it would have village heads to represent each ethnic group.

For non-Muslims, it pledged that their rights were guaranteed without discrimination, as said in the Federal Constitution.

The party also promised that there would be no illegal clearing of land that would affect dams and clean water supply, while also promising to build parks and recreation centres in every town and housing estate.

It would also ensure that low-cost houses have three rooms and use the syariah system to formulate government policies on entertainment, culture, tourism, youth and women.


BN's Manifesto Promise Security, Peace And Prosperity - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today launched Barisan Nasional's (BN) progress report and election manifesto, themed "Security, Peace and Prosperity", which contains a clear mission and vision to bring Malaysia towards a more glorious future.

Eight main topics form the thrust and pledge of the manifesto which was accompanied this time by a progress report outlining what the coalition has done from 2004 to 2007.

The topics are economy, balanced development, education, law and public safety, public service,
combating corruption and enhancing administration, religion and unity and foreign policy.

Under economy, the BN pledged to:

* raise the country's productivity, revenue and competitiveness;

* tackle price increases to ensure quality of life for the people;

* enhance the role of the private sector as the primary engine in generating economic growth;

* Nurture and help one million small- and medium-scale companies and entrepreneurs in five years;

* generate more than two million jobs in five years;

* reduce the country's fiscal deficit to enable more funds to be used for development, without raising taxes;

* implement development plans for all the five economic corridors to generate growth, investments and job opportunities nationwide;

The progress report for the economy, entitled "Generating Strong and Sustainable Growth", for 2004 to 2007 says that:

* The gross domestic product (GDP) grew from RM427 billion to RM504 billion;

* All sectors showed growth including new activities like modern agriculture, biotechnology, ICT and Islamic banking. Visit Malaysia Year 2007 recorded the highest number of tourist arrivals of 21 million people;

* International trade rose 26 per cent from RM881 billion to RM1.11 trillion;

* The average monthly household income rose from RM3,249 to RM3,617;

* Price control on essential goods was maintained and RM43.4 billion was spent in the form of subsidies (2007) to tackle price increases;

* 1.3 million jobs were created;

* Programmes to transform government linked companies (GLC) succeeded in increasing profits and giving higher returns to unit trust shareholders and Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors;

* Over 204,000 SMIs had been developed since 2005 involving the disbursement of RM107 billion in loans and the implementation of 402 programmes;

* Five economic corridor development plans were launched to generate and bring growth to all corners of the country;

* The Malaysian Bourse Composite Index rose to its highest level in history and there was a 161 per cent increase in capital market from RM460 billion in 2003 to RM1.2 trillion in2007;

* Foreign exchange reserves rose 130 per cent from US$44 billion to US$101 billion;

* Malaysia's ranking in the Global WEF Competitiveness Index rose from 25th in 2005 to 21st in 2007;

Under Balanced Development, the BN pledged to:

* eradicate hardcore poverty and reduce overall poverty to 2.8 per cent by 2010;

* increase incomes and opportunities for quality jobs in the rural areas;

* improve service and facilities for low-income households in urban areas, including for migrants from the villages to the towns;

* enhance the provision of quality houses at affordable prices;

* increase access to modern and quality health services;

* improve public transport service in the towns and reduce traffic jams;

* improve road development in rural and other less developed areas;

* Upgrade rail and air services;

* Increase coverage of electricity supply in the rural areas in Sabah from 81 per cent to 90 per cent by 2010;

* Increase coverage of water supply in rural areas in Sabah and Sarawak to 70 per cent by 2010;

* Continue with efforts to narrow the digital divide and enhance the penetration of broadband Internet service through the National Broadband Plan;

* Continue with the implementation of the New Villages Development Master Plan;

* Ensure balanced distribution of quality chances that can generate income, employment, business and education nationwide;

* The "New Kelantan, Progressive Kelantan" approach aims to ensure quality development and a better life for the residents of Kelantan;

Under the same topic, the progress report from 2004-2007 underlined the topic on Narrowing the Gaps:

* Reduced hardcore poverty from 1.2 per cent of population to 0.7 per cent and reduced overall poverty from 5.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent;

* Reduced rural-to-urban income ratio from 1:2.11 to 1:1.99, exceeding the 2010 target;

* Increased agriculture incomes; e.g padi farmers mean monthly income increased 27 per cent to RM1.549; rubber smallholders increased 34 per cent to RM1,727;

* Delivered 178,000 low-cost homes;

* Opened 14 new hospitals, 22 new `Klinik Kesihatan' and 64 new `Klinik Desa';

* Expanded electricity supply to over 74 per cent in Sabah and 83 per cent in Sarawak;

* Built 12,190km of village roads;

* Built three new airports, including a low-cost terminal, and upgraded five existing airports.

BN's pledge in the education sector is to:

* Raise teachers' minimum qualifications and provide more training opportunities;

* Continue to make national schools the school of choice by, among others, expanding the teaching of Mandarin and Tamil;

* Safeguard the position of national-type schools;

* Enhance national unity by fostering student interaction;

* Provide more scholarships at the undergraduate level for poor but deserving students regardless of race;

* Identify apex universities and provide more autonomy and resources for public institutions of higher learning to attain world-class standards;

* Raise investment in science and technology particularly in indigenous R&D.

In the education progress report for 2004-2007, BN has enhanced access and standards by:

* Launching the Education Blueprint 2006-2010 and the Higher Education Strategic Plan to raise education standards;

* Expanding `Skim Pinjaman Buku Teks' to all primary and secondary school children;

* Removing school and examination fees;

* Allocating RM3 billion for scholarships and essential items to lower-income group students;

* Providing RM12 billion to improve rural schools;

* Raising special allowance for 12,000 teachers and teaching assistants serving in rural areas;

* Allocating RM174 million for fully-aided Chinese primary schools and RM65 million for fully-aided Tamil primary schools under the 9th Malaysia Plan;

* Allocating RM100 million for partially-aided Chinese and Tamil primary schools under the 9th Malaysia Plan;

* Ensuring at least one public university or one UiTM branch in every state;

* Expanding community colleges from 34 o 53, doubling enrolment to over 115,000;

* Increasing number of JPA undergraduate scholarships at local universities from 5,000 to 10,000 annually; raising allowance for JPA students in overseas universities;

* Raising investment in science R&D, including sending the first Malaysian into space.

BN's promise in the implementation of law and order:

* Bring down the country's crime index;

* Tackle drug abuse and other social ills;

* Address the issue of illegal immigrants;

* Add 60,000 police personnel by 2011;

* Set up more than 150 new police stations and beat bases to increase presence in more neighbourhoods;

* Improve safety in schools, playgrounds and public areas;

* Enhance community policing via partnerships with non-governmental organisations, the private sector and local community;

* Upgrade police communications technology, armaments, vehicles, technical aids and training;

* Focus police operations and resources in crime hot-spots across the country;

* Redelineate police districts to better match police resources with community security needs.

Efforts to make the police more dynamic and the progress attained from 2004 through 2007:

* Established the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Police, leading to over 85 per cent of the Commission's proposals being carried out;

* Increased salaries of police and armed forces personnel by 9 to 42 per cent;

* Doubled development allocation in 9th Malaysia Plan to RM3.8 billion and allocated an additional RM5 billion in PFI funding to modernise the police;

* Increased recruitment of police personnel, brought back newly-retired police officers, set up more police stations and expanded use of CCTVs;

* Launched more intensive police surveillance and operation in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, the Kinta Valley and the Iskandar Development Region;

* Established an Independent Commission in response to public concern on police body search procedures;

* Raised road user awareness and enforcement, notably reducing injuries and deaths per population from road accidents.

BN's promise on Public Services:

* Speed up implementation of e-government initiatives;

* Complete overhaul of all land offices and district offices;

* Speed up issuance of licences and permits;

* Establish rating system for local authorities to improve performance;

* Tie civil servants' promotions, rewards and penalties more closely to performance targets;

* Increase ethnic diversity in the public sector;

* Have a three to seven-day response time by all government agencies to all public queries and complaints;

Progress in the public services from 2004-2007 takes on the topic "Moving Towards World-Class Levels":

* Automatic refunds for overpaid income taxes; refunds paid within 14 to 30 days for online tax submissions;

* Passports issued within three hours at major Immigration Department branches;

* MyKad issued within 24 hours at major National Registration Department branches;

* Cleared 70 per cent of backlogged land cases via "flying squads";

* Reduced time taken for payments to government contractors and suppliers to 14 days;

* One hour to register business and 15 minutes to renew business registrations;

* One-stop centres at local authorities to reduce time to approve building plans;

* Replaced Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (CFO) with industry-issued Certificate of Completion & Compliance (CCC);

* Set up PEMUDAH, a public-private task force to reduce the cost of doing business in Malaysia;

* Increased civil service salaries, reintroduced cost of living allowance and allocated more than RM6 billion for government quarters.

BN's promise in reducing corruption and improving governance:

* Continue to enforce anti-corruption measures without fear or favour;

* Strengthen monitoring and enforcement by agencies such as the ACA, Customs, Inland Revenue and local authorities;

* Establish an effective Special Complaints Commissions to act on complaints of misconduct in enforcement agencies;

* Continue to foster a culture of integrity and high ethical standards through the National Integrity Plan.

The progress report for 2004-2007 for "Creating First Class Institutions" in reducing corruption and improving governance:

* Raised awareness on fighting corruption, leading to a 25 per cent increase in the number of reports lodged (2003-2007);

* Increased number of corruption-related arrests by 72 per cent from 318 arrests (2003) to 546 (2007);

* Increased conviction rate for corruption-related cases from 50 per cent (2004) to 74 per cent (2007);

* Doubled the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) operating budget to RM154 million and committed RM372 million for development under the 9th Malaysia Plan;

* Increased the number of ACA officers including specialists such as forensic auditors, and established the ACA Academy;

* Launched the National Integrity Plan and established the Malaysian Institute of Integrity;

* Established and enhanced eight Parliamentary Select and Special Select Committees to increase checks and balances;

* Enhanced transparency and accountability in the annual Auditor-General's Report;

* Established a Commission of Inquiry into the video clip of alleged interference in judicial appointments.

BN's pledge on religion and unity:

* Build a better understanding of Islam among Muslims and non-Muslims through Islam Hadhari;

* Enhance appreciation for diverse cultures among Malaysia's multiethnic people;

* Expand the teaching of J-QAF to more schools;

* Ensure provision of reserve land for places of worship in newly-developed areas in accordance with developed guidelines;

* Facilitate construction, consolidation and relocation of all places of worship via state government mechanism, co-ordinated at federal level, that will protect the interests of all communities;

* Increase dialogue on inter-faith issues through the Department of National Unity and National Integration;

* Improve unity programmes, especially in schools and institutions of higher learning.

The progress report on religion and unity from 2004-2007 under the topic "Building Bridges, Deepening the Faith":

* Established 10 principles of Islam Hadhari, an approach of progressive Islamic civilisation;

* Upgraded Islamic education in schools by introducing the Jawi-Quran, Arabic and Fardu-Ain (J-QAF) Programme;

* Improved welfare of religious officers, including provision of RM450 allowance for imams;

* Maintained cost of Haj pilgrimage despite rising prices;

* Guaranteed the right to worship for all Malaysians;

* Develop guidelines that ensure the provision of reserve land for places of worship of all communities in newly-developed areas;

* Encouraged inter-faith understanding via forums such as the National Unity Advisory Panel;

* Promoted inter-ethnic unity via the School Integration Programme and National Service Training Programme.

BN's promise on foreign policy:

* Continue to play an active, principled and impartial role in international affairs;

* Expand trade and investment linkages;

* Advance the economic agenda of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) through capacity-building programmes in less-developed OIC countries;

* Promote strategic partnerships between the West and the Muslim world to advance the economic agenda of the Makkah Declaration 2005;

* Continue to build bridges between the Muslim world and the West through continuous dialogue;

* Contribute towards a development agenda for the world's poorest countries.

The progress report on foreign policy from 2004-2007 under the topic: "Demonstrated Strong Malaysian Leadership":

* Showed steady leadership in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and OIC;

* Hosted the historic first East Asian Summit, providing the platform for closer co-operation between ASEAN and China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand;

* Secured new markets and enhanced linkages via high-level visits. Trade with all major trading partners expanded rapidly, with fastest growth recorded for China (65 per cent increase), OIC countries (54 per cent) and ASEAN (29 per cent);

* Strengthened Malaysia's voice in the international arena by championing the developing world's economic and social interests;

* Highlighted international injustices, in particular Israeli aggression in Palestine;

* Enhanced NAM's role, including establishing the NAM institute for the Empowerment of Women and NAM News Network;

* Put an economic face to the OIC via the Capacity Building Programme to reduce poverty and through the World Islamic Economic Forum to enhance trade and investment;

* Played a key role in promoting dialogue between the West and the Muslim World;

* Continued to promote cooperation, peace and stability in ASEAN.


Azalina and Ghapur win for Barisan without contest again - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional made a good start in the general election, taking seven parliamentary seats and two state seats uncontested on nomination day.

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said retained her Pengerang seat uncontested for the second time, as did former Sabah deputy chief minister Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh in Kalabakan.

PAS won a state seat without a fight when Wan Ubaidah Omar took Kijang in Kelantan after Barisan candidate Mustopha Ahmed was disqualified because he was an undischarged bankrupt.

In 2004, Barisan had a better start when it won 21 seats uncontested.

[More at]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Election 2008: Po Kuan makes about-turn - NST

IPOH: In what must be the most confusing political about-turn of the decade, DAP's Fong Po Kuan yesterday announced she would be defending the Batu Gajah parliamentary seat after all.

The volte-face came six days after declaring publicly that she would not be contesting in this general election, giving vague reasons about internal politicking before vanishing out of sight.

Yesterday, at a hastily called press conference chaired by DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, Fong re-emerged by saying her Feb 17 decision about not contesting was "not a wise one".

Reading from a prepared statement, she said she felt remorseful when she discovered how much people cared for and supported her through blogs, calls, emails and messages.

"Indeed the reflection of their immense support touched me deeply. This brought about the thought that I must not fail them.

"It (the decision not to contest) was definitely a very painful decision then (but) it made me realise that it was not a wise decision," she said.

[More at]

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Altantuya Murder Trial: Razak Baginda stuns court with outburst - NST

By : V. Anbalagan

SHAH ALAM: Just what triggered an outburst from political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda in court yesterday?

This was the question on the minds of those present at the High Court for the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial.

The drama started before proceedings began in the morning when Razak’s father, Datuk Abdullah Malim Baginda, whispered something to his son who was in the dock.

Razak’s demeanour changed and he stood up and walked back to the holding cell as proceedings had not yet begun.

He turned, faced his father angrily and shouted: “Shall I shout it out?”

His father pointed his finger at him and indicated no.

Razak did not let up: “I’m innocent! I’m innocent,” he said loudly before going into the cell.

[More at]

‘Close one ‘eye’ MP out - The Star

By Martin Carvalho and Tho Xin Yi

MALACCA: Controversial “close one eye” Jasin MP Datuk Md Said Yusop was among the 13 incumbents dropped for contest in the polls. He was replaced by Datuk Ahmad Hamzah, the incumbent for the Serkam state seat.

Md Said is known for his remark to Customs officials to overlook a consignment belonging to his company’s client that was seized for exceeding the size limit.

He also accused Customs officials of selling confiscated luxury cars cheaply to their friends in the palace, but could not produce any evidence to back his allegation.

Making the election list were incumbents Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam (Bukit Baru state seat), Malacca MCA liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn (Alor Gajah parliamentary seat) and Wong Nai Chee (Kota Melaka parliamentary seat).

One of the biggest surprises in the line-up was the increase in the number of women candidates from one in previous polls to four.

They are MCA's Chiew Hong Lan (Ayer Keroh state seat), Gerakan's Wendy Ngo Kim Hwa (Bachap state seat), and Umno's Latipah Omar (Taboh Naning state seat) and Norpipah Abdul (Rembia state seat).

[More at]

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Khir sees tough elections for BN - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The elections will be difficult for the Barisan Nasional, says Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo.

“It looks easy, but it is a difficult one,” he said, adding that this was because people were reserved and did not openly show who they would support.

“They look at candidates now, and 60% to 70% would decide based on the quality of the candidates.”

Dr Mohamad Khir was speaking to reporters yesterday after witnessing the signing ceremony between New Era College and Vintage Heights at Wisma MCA here.

Asked whether the MIC would be a liability to the Barisan, Dr Mohamad Khir said it would not.

Dr Mohamad Khir also said he had submitted the state's list of candidates to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.


Po Kuan sticking to her guns - The Star

IPOH: Incumbent Batu Gajah MP Fong Po Kuan is sticking fast to her decision not to contest in the general election.

In her blog (, Fong said it was a tough decision.

“I am unable to reconsider my decision of not to contest in this coming 12th General Election. I am sorry if I have disappointed you. I do hope you all will try to understand,” she said in her comments posted yesterday at 3.14pm.

She started her posting with an apology and stated she was unable to answer all calls, reply messages, e-mails and comments.

“I do appreciate your views, criticisms, supports and encouragement,” she said.

[More at]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We need you in Batu Gajah, Guan Eng tells Po Kuan - The Star

IPOH: The DAP is pleading with Fong Po Kuan to contest in Batu Gajah in the general election.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said yesterday that the party and the people needed Fong.

“Fong has the ability, capacity and experience to continue to contribute as an MP.

“I know it was not her intention, but it is definite that without Fong, Batu Gajah will not be a safe seat,” he told a press conference.

Describing Fong’s announcement as a “shock”, Lim said he had cancelled all his programmes yesterday to meet Perak party leaders.

He said that he was still reeling in shock from Fong’s “abrupt announcement” but would try to convince her to stand in the elections.

[More at]

Monday, February 18, 2008

DAP Chief Denies Forcing Out Fong - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 (Bernama) -- DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang is crying foul, saying that he has been made the "villain" and denied that he was forcing incumbent Batu Gajah member of parliament, Fong Po Kuan to contest in another constituency in the March 8 general election.

The party never asked Po Kuan to change constituencies as all party leaders had expected and fully supported her to contest for the third time in the Batu Gajah parliamentary seat, the Ipoh Timor MP wrote in his blog.

"Very tired, but no thought of sleep until I blog about Fong Po Kuan. Not just because I have been made the villain prompting Po Kuan's announcement that she would not contest in the general election but also because of her qualities," he said.

Lim, who attended two ceramahs with Fong in Batu Gajah parliamentary constituency on Friday night, said he had received calls asking why he had forced the 34-year-old party's assistant publicity secretary and Wanita DAP national organising secretary to retire from politics.

"I never did such a thing and Po Kuan never resigned from the party - but the damage was done, as first impressions (however false) are most lasting, that I had forced Po Kuan to resign from the DAP because I was forcing her to contest in another constituency apart from Batu Gajah. Talking about "eating dead cat"!," Lim wrote.

[More at]

PO KUAN CRIES OFF: Batu Gajah MP declines nomination - NST

By : Shahrul Hafeez and P. Chandra Sagaran

BATU GAJAH: The opposition Democratic Action Party was dealt a major blow in Perak when its firebrand female leader, Fong Po Kuan, pulled out of the general election, citing internal politicking as her reason.

Fong is a two-term incumbent Batu Gajah MP. Her claim to fame was the defeat of Perak MCA chairman Datuk Ong Ka Chuan, who is also the brother of MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, in the 2004 general election.

She had been a favourite to retain her parliamentary seat.

Her decision yesterday threw the Perak DAP into disarray, with state DAP chief Ngeh Koo Ham saying he hoped Fong's decision would not affect the party's bid to win at least four parliamentary seats in the Kinta Valley.

Party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said they would try to persuade Fong to stay.

"We were surprised to receive her letter. I have been too busy to read it in detail," he said, adding that the party was caught off-guard as he had phoned her the night before to confirm that she would be re-nominated in Batu Gajah.

At a press conference here, Fong, who is one of the more vocal DAP MPs in the house and was elected at the age of 24, said: "My decision is final. It was not an easy decision."

[More at]

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Abdullah condemns illegal Hindraf rally - NST

By : Noor Adzman Baharuddin

YAN: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi condemned the action of the Hindu Rights Action Force in organising an illegal assembly in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, saying it was an attempt to raise fear in the people and disrupt the general election.

He said the group did not respect the process of democracy because by creating trouble they would scare off the people from coming out to vote.

"The business community, too, would be affected and, like the majority of people, does not support such behaviour because this is not the Malaysian way," he said after launching a project to upgrade a road under the Northern Corridor Economic Region here.

"The country has prospered not because of demands made through illegal demonstrations.

"Everything we do is for the people and we meet their needs and this is what they want.
"This is also the way we have been developing the country and this is what is meant by stability for the growth of the people and nation."

[More at]

PM keeps mum on Khairy - The Star

YAN: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has refused to be drawn into speculation if his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin would contest in the general election.

Abdullah said he had yet to discuss the candidates' lists submitted by the various state Umno liaison committees.

“We have yet to discuss anything,” he said.

It was recently reported that the Rembau Umno division had nominated Khairy to contest the Rembau parliamentary seat.


Angry Hindraf supporters mob Samy - The Star

By A. Letchumanan and Derrick Vinesh

BUTTERWORTH: MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu was prevented by a group of people from leaving a function here.

The group, believed to be Hindu Rights Action Force supporters, surrounded his car last night and demanded for an undertaking for the release of women and children who were detained during a Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur yesterday morning.

They also locked the door of SJKC Chung Hwa Pusat 3 in Taman Senangin here where a Chinese New Year function was being held.

They relented after Samy Vellu said he would talk to the relevant authorities.

After 15 minutes, police came and cleared the way for Samy Vellu to leave.

[More at]

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ethnic Indians protest in Malaysia - Al Jazeera

Malaysian police clashed with activists demanding greater representation for the country's ethnic Indian minority.

It is the second illegal demonstration in recent years by the Hindu Rights Action Force.

The rally in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, comes days after the government announced early elections.

Teymoor Nabili reports.

160 arrested in Hindraf's 'rose' rally - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Police arrested 160 Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) supporters who took part in its “rose” campaign Dataran Merdeka area Saturday and nine of them, including a woman have been held for further investigations.

They will be brought to court for remand orders to be made against them Sunday.

Of the 160 arrested, 138 were men and 22 were women, including an 11-year-old girl. The girl was later released.

The Hindraf supporters with children holding roses had planned to gather outside the Parliament building and the leaders wanted to hand over a memorandum on improving the lot of the Indian community.

Police had earlier declared the gathering illegal and set up roadblocks and closed the road leading to the Parliament building. The road closures resulted in Hindraf changing their destination to the Suhakam office at Jalan Raja Laut.

Police started to fire tear gas canisters and spray water cannons at 9.20am on Jalan Raja Laut after repeated warnings for the crowd to disperse went unheeded.

Many of the supporters scattered to the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Masjid Jamek areas. Then the police began detaining those who refused to budge.

[More at]

Ethnic Indians Rally in Malaysia Demanding Rights, Defy Police - Bloomberg

By Manirajan Ramasamy and Soraya Permatasari

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- About 200 Malaysian ethnic Indians defied a police order and rallied in the capital today demanding equal rights and the release of supporters held without trial as tensions rise three weeks before the country holds elections.

Carrying banners and roses, members of the Hindu Rights Action Force, or Hindraf, gathered near the city hall in Kuala Lumpur at 9 a.m. local time. Fifteen minutes later police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the group and arrested dozens of participants.

Hindraf, which is holding its second rally in three months, is demanding an end to alleged racial discrimination in a country where the government gives the ethnic Malay majority preferential treatment for jobs and homes. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has struggled to contain racial tension in his first term, and is targeting a smaller parliamentary majority at the March 8 ballot.

Authorities on Dec. 12 arrested five members of the group under the Internal Security Act, a law that allows for indefinite detention without trial. The order was signed by Abdullah.

``While the yellow roses are a symbol of our cry for justice, we seek the immediate release of Hindraf's five leaders,'' the group said in a statement before today's rally. ``We are going to Parliament as it is a symbol of justice.''

[More at]

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hadi has no confidence, says Abdullah - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took a swipe at Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang for stating that he wanted to contest in Kepala Batas, saying that the PAS president has no confidence in recapturing Terengganu.

The Prime Minister said Abdul Hadi’s statement that he was willing to stand in his (Abdullah’s) parliamentary seat showed that he knew he could not win in his own state.

“He said he wants to contest in Terengganu, then after that, he wants to go somewhere else. This means he knows he cannot win and is looking at other constituencies,” he said after chairing the Barisan and Umno supreme council meetings yesterday.

In Setiu, Terengganu Barisan chief Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said Abdul Hadi knew that his support had diminished in his Rhu Rendang constituency and was now “trying his luck” elsewhere.

On Wednesday, Abdul Hadi said he was prepared to face the Prime Minister in his Kepala Batas parliamentary constituency.

“(Abdul) Hadi is afraid of losing here and he is quickly looking for another constituency.

“However, he is free to contest anywhere. PAS had lost its confidence in Terengganu,” Idris said after launching the Gelombang Biru 66 election campaign at Batu Rakit, Setiu, yesterday.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Election 2008: Highlights and controversies - NST

The 11th parliament drew up several pioneering legislation but at the same time, threw up controversies, which spilled outside the chamber and into public domain. Here are some of the major events that shaped life in the 11th parliament

1. MPs began the 11th session of parliament on May 17, 2004 with new1 leather seats, plush carpets and giant LCD screens to monitor proceedings, following the RM50 million refurbishment of parliament house.

Not only were the refurbishments meant to upgrade the 40-year-old building, they were carried out to accommodate the increased number of parliament seats from 194 to 219. But at the end of its first session, the roof leaked and it created a public furore.

2. Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) was referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee for misleading the house during the swearing-in ceremony before Speaker Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail on May 17, 2004.

Karpal had questioned the legitimacy of the ceremony and this resulted in the disciplinary action. The committee found him guilty and Karpal was suspended without allowances and perks for six months.

3. For the first time in its 49-year history, the Dewan Negara on July 26, 2004, sent a bill back to the Dewan Rakyat to be re-tabled. In debating the Pesticides (Amendments) Bill 2004 passed by the lower house earlier, the Dewan Negara found that two words - "human beings" - had been excluded from the bill. The upper house was of the view that "human beings" should be among those protected against harmful pesticides.

Senator Datin Paduka Jaya Partiban who discovered the mistake became a celebrity of sorts and left Dewan Rakyat members red-faced.

4. After 22 years in office, Dewan Rakyat speaker Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail died of renal failure on Oct 14, 2004. Highly respected for his cool demeanour, legal acumen and fair sense of judgment, Zahir held the distinction of being the longest-serving parliamentary speaker in Asia. Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib was appointed the new speaker. It was the first time that a sitting MP was voted into the position.

5. During the budget session on Oct 3, 2005, Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) and Datuk Mohamed Aziz (BN-Sri Gading) were issued warnings by the whip for supporting an opposition motion. Both had supported a motion by Lim Kit Siang to refer International Trade and Industry Ministry secretary-general Datuk Sidek Hassan to the Rights and Privileges Committee. Both were given warnings by Chief Whip Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

6.On Nov 24, 2005, DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok, brought the attention of the public to a video recording of a woman forced to do squats in the nude. The recording, which was made on a mobile phone, resulted in public outcry over the police treatment of those detained in police lock-ups.

The outcry also led to the setting up of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into police standard operating procedures on arrest and detention.

7. Citing differences in opinion, Datuk Shahrir Samad quit as Barisan Nasional Backbenchers' Club chairman on May 4, 2006, when BN MPs did not follow his lead and support an opposition motion to refer the New Straits Times to the Rights and Privileges Committee. The motion was moved by opposition leader Lim Kit Siang following an NST report on an MP who had allegedly asked the Customs and Excise Department to "close one eye" in a case involving the import of sawn timber.


- May 25, 2004: "Crazy", "Animal, not fit to sit in the House." - Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) describing Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) after the latter interrupted opposition leader Lim Kit Siang during the debate on the motion of thanks on the Royal Address.

- Oct 13, 2004: "If the minister should be sacked, then replace him." - Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) on Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu's handling of the Gua Tempurung mudslide.

- March 29, 2005: "TV1 and TV2 were fast 'asleep' while TV3 was showing an NBA basketball game. The only station which offered the breaking news was ntv7. I shudder to think what would happen if we did not have ntv7." - Dr James Dawos Mamit (BN-Mambong) expressing disappointment with local television stations which had failed to provide breaking news of the magnitude 8.7 earthquake which hit Sumatra the day before.

- July 6, 2005: "Maybe we can put all those infected with HIV/AIDS on an island and isolate them from others." - Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh (BN-Kalabakan) offering an alternative to the government's plan to distribute free syringes and condoms to stem HIV/AIDS. He was debating the Syariah Court Evidence (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill 2005.

- Oct 4, 2005: "I am not willing to stand by and allow such fitnah against my family and me. Don't play around. If you say I am the queen, then you are the court jester. I'll sue you." - International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz telling off Lim Kit Siang (DAP- Ipoh Timur) when he questioned her about the awarding of APs (Approved Permits). Lim had earlier referred to Rafidah as the "AP Queen".

- Dec 1, 2005: "I will wonder whether the man who wanted to marry me has a hidden agenda. Does he really want to marry me or does he want the money." - Women, Family and Community Development Ministry parliamentary secretary Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun dismissing a proposal by Datuk Idris Harun (BN-Tangga Batu) that "some kind of incentive" should be given by the government to men who marry single mothers with children as they were doing a good deed.

- April 10, 2006: "RTM is always changing channel names just like it is always changing ministers and deputy ministers. So much money is spent on changing names and the image of these stations." - Datuk Mohamed Aziz (BN-Sri Gading) replying to Deputy Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (BN-Bagan Datok), who had pointed out that Mohamed had mentioned "TV1 and TV2" when the stations had changed their names to "RTM1 and RTM2".

- April 26, 2006: "The main reason for the large number of failed marriages is because female divorcees are gatal and are easily spotted at functions through their gatal behaviour. It is as if they have no regrets over their divorce." - Abdul Fatah Harun (Pas-Rantau Panjang) commenting on divorcees when Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil was winding up her debate on the Ninth Malaysia Plan. He later withdrew the word from his remarks after being urged to do so by female and male MPs.

- May 11, 2006: "All of us have two eyes, but some see with one eye, while some don't even use their eyes. Maybe the ministry can do something concerning this and teach MPs right and wrong." - Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) to Datuk Mohd Said Yusof (BN-Jasin), referring to the incident where Mohd Said had asked the Customs and Excise Department to "close one eye" on a consignment handled by his forwarding agency.

- May 9, 2007: "What is the problem? The member of parliament for Batu Gajah also leaks once a month." - Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) and Datuk Mohd Said Yusof (BN-Jasin), equating leaks in parliament house to Fong Po Kuan's (DAP-Batu Gajah) menstrual cycle. Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang had drawn attention to the leaks when Mohd Said and Bung Mokhtar, displeased that the matter had been raised, had made the comments. They both issued brief apologies on May 14 on the insistence of Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"No PM has the prerogative to tell lies publicly": Kit Siang -

Parliamentary Opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang, says that no prime minister has the prerogative to tell lies publicly.

PM dissolves Parliament -

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today announced the dissolution ofthe Parliament at a specially arranged press conference at his officein Putrajaya.

I won't call election ... oh alright, I will - AFP

From correspondents in Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has dissolved parliament to pave the way for snap elections which are expected to see the ruling coalition's majority eroded.

Yesterday Mr Abdullah had tried to quell the rumours that he would dissolve parliament on the 13th - his favourite number - telling reporters: "No, it won't be tomorrow".

Mr Abdullah's popularity has plummeted as the nation is beset by mounting racial tensions, unprecedented street protests, anger over rising fuel and food prices, and high crime rates.

Announcing that the king had consented to dissolve parliament, Mr Abdullah indicated he did not expect a repeat of the 2004 landslide when the Barisan Nasional coalition seized some 90 per cent of parliamentary seats.

"2004 was a special election and it was extraordinary. I pray that BN will get at least two-thirds of the votes in the upcoming election," he said.

"I hope voters will understand the issues affecting our country objectively," he said, adding that the Election Commission would decide on the polling date.

[More at,23599,23207629-401,00.html]

Parliament Dissolved Today For 12th General Election - Bernama

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 13 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today announced the dissolution of Parliament to pave the way for the 12th general election.

The announcement was made at a media conference at his office here and telecast live on RTM1 at noon.

The prime minister also advised all the state governments, except Sarawak, to dissolve their state assemblies to enable the state elections to be held simultaneously.

He said he had an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin this morning and had received his consent to dissolve the 11th Parliament.

The dissolution of this Parliament was made 15 months before the expiry of its five-year term on May 16, 2009.

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Parliament won’t be dissolved today, says PM - The Star

BANGI: Parliament will not be dissolved today.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi put an end to such speculation, telling reporters here yesterday: “Esok tak ada (No, it won’t be tomorrow)”.

He also denied that today’s Cabinet meeting would be the last with his present team of ministers before Parliament is dissolved to pave the way for the next general election.

“What makes you think that? How do you know it’s going to be the last Cabinet meeting (before elections are called)?” he asked when responding to a question.

Asked if there would be more Cabinet meetings with the present team, Abdullah said: “Yes, there will be more.”

The Cabinet meets every Wednesday. The Prime Minister’s comments yesterday means it is still a guessing game as to when the polls would be called.

[More at]

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mukhriz: My father will never support the opposition - NST

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Youth executive council member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said this is not the time to change direction and stressed the importance of continuing with the current leadership.

He was commenting on reports which quoted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as saying that there had been no "gentleman's agreement" between him and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that he would only serve as prime minister for one term.

Mukhriz said his father would neither oppose the government nor support the opposition.

"My father will never support the opposition. He has fought the opposition all his life."

Mukhriz, the movement's International Relations and Non-Governmental Organisations Bureau chairman, said this after accepting a RM100,000 donation for Aman Malaysia's Gaza Humanitarian Fund from Cheras Umno and the Cheras Education Foundation, represented by Senator Datuk Syed Ali Al-Habshee.

Instead, Mukhriz, who is also Aman Malaysia's co-ordinator, said the opposition would try to manipulate the issue to its own advantage and attempt to sow confusion among the people.

"I think both their remarks would strengthen Umno."

[More at]

Friday, February 1, 2008

PM: There was no gentleman’s agreement between me and Mahathir - The Star

By Shahanaaz Habib

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said there was no gentleman’s agreement between him and his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that he (Abdullah) be prime minister only for a term.

“No such thing,” the Prime Minister told reporters yesterday after he launched Pavilion, the latest upmarket shopping mall here.

Asked why he thought Dr Mahathir felt that there was such an agreement, he said, “Each person has his own views.”

When reporters pressed him further on the so-called gentleman’s agreement, Abdullah brushed it aside saying, “Why are you so interested in this? There was nothing.”

Three days ago, the former prime minister had claimed that he had a gentleman’s agreement when he handed over power to Abdullah in 2003, that the latter would stay on for one term only and subsequently pass over the mantle to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

On the general election, Abdullah indicated that it was close.

Asked whether he had received inspiration to call for the election, he replied, “I am about to.”

[More at]