Thursday, March 27, 2008

Umno Supreme Council meeting -

Umno President Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says the Umno Supreme Council has endorsed Datuk Ahmad Said as Terengganu's chief minister. He also set the dates for the next Umno general elections.

Umno Supreme Council Supports Appointment Of Ahmad Said As Terengganu MB - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 (Bernama) -- The Umno Supreme Council Thursday decided to support the appointment of Datuk Ahmad Said as the new menteri besar of Terengganu, ending the tussle for the leadership of the state government which has dragged on for three weeks after the March 8 general election.

The decision was reached at a meeting of the council at the party headquarters at Menara Dato' Onn, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), here.

"The Regency Advisory Council has made its decision and the Barisan Nasional (BN) will give its full support to Datuk Ahmad Said who was selected by the Regency Advisory Council to be the menteri besar of Terengganu," Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told reporters after chairing the meeting of the Umno supreme council for four hours.

Abdullah said the supreme council arrived at the decision to support the appointment of Ahmad after taking into consideration the open statement by former menteri besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh that he was prepared to accept whoever was selected to be the menteri besar.

"The important thing is for Terengganu to have a government," he said.

The post of Terengganu menteri besar was only filled on March 23, two weeks after the general election when Ahmad, 51, received the instrument of appointment from the Regency Advisory Council at a closed-door ceremony at the Istana Tetamu in Kuala Terengganu.

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Malaysian leader says he's willing to face leadership challenge as party postpones polls - AP

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysia's prime minister backed down in a high-profile dispute with the king and postponed party elections Thursday, but insisted he was not running away from rivals challenging his leadership.

The two announcements by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi revealed his increasingly shaky hold over power after leading the ruling party to humiliating losses in the March 8 general elections.

"If they (rivals within his party) have the support and are ready to challenge me, why not? Go ahead. I'm not going to run away," Abdullah said after chairing a meeting of the United Malays National Organization party's policy-making council.

Abdullah said the council decided that the party will hold elections for top office-bearers during its annual congress Dec. 16-20 - four months later than previously planned.

The Malay party is the main element of the ruling National Front coalition. By tradition its president becomes the prime minister.

Since the election debacle Abdullah has faced open calls to step down. Some feared he would lose the post of party president if the elections had been held in August.

The 68-year-old leader has seen his authority erode rapidly after the National Front lost its traditional two-thirds majority in the general elections, although it was returned to power with a simple majority. The Front also lost elections in five states. The double defeats were the worst electoral performance by the Front in the 51 years it has been in power.

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Ghapur Resigns As Deputy Minister - Bernama

TAWAU, March 27 (Bernama) -- Kalabakan Member of Parliament Datuk Ghapur Salleh relinquished his post as Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister effective Wednesday.

He told Bernama on Thursday that he submitted his resignation letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya last night.

Dismissing talk that he would hop over to the opposition, which is said to be trying to lure several MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, Ghapur, who won the seat unopposed in the March 8 general election, said he would continue to be an elected representative and Kalabakan Umno division head.

He is the second MP from Sabah and the third person to resign as a federal deputy minister since the election.

MP Anifah Aman rejected his appointment as Deputy Transport Minister while Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Abu Bakar, the MP for Jerantut, turned down the post of Deputy Foreign Minister.

Asked why he decided to quit eight days after accepting the post, Ghapur, 64, he said: "I don't want to be tied down with the duties of a deputy minister because I want to concentrate fully on the residents of Kalabakan.

He said he had many childrean studying overseas and being a deputy minister would curtail his time to visit his children.


One foot in the door - The Sun

Read this doc on Scribd: One foot in the door - The Sun
16 theSun | THURSDAY MARCH 27 2008 One foot in the door DESPITE A BAD BACK AND FATIGUE FROM TWO WEEKS OF CRISS-CROSSING THE NATION, PARTI KEADILAN RAKYAT (PKR) DE-FACTO LEADER AND FORMER DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER DATUK SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM IS ALL SMILES, FOLLOWING THE ALTERNATIVE FRONT’S UNPRECEDENTED PERFORMANCE IN THE RECENT GENERAL ELECTION AND HIS IMPENDING RETURN TO ACTIVE POLITICS. HE TELLS R. NADESWARAN AND TERENCE FERNANDEZ OF THE CHALLENGES IN GOING INTO THE POLLS AND THE EVEN BIGGER TESTS AHEAD. Nades: One of your biggest challenges was (prior to the elections) getting a cohesive team. You had three different parties with three different ideologies. How did you manage to unite and convince them on having straight fights? Anwar: What’s so different about Umno, MCA and MIC? Or PBB or PBS or PBDS. One talks about ketuanan Melayu, one talks about Chinese survival, one wants Indian affairs resolved. It does not seem to be contentious as in practice they were able to show a cohesive stance. Similarly within Keadilan, PAS and DAP. Other than what’s perceived from outside … look at the manner they conducted the election campaign, they were together and worked well. We have Chinese voting for PAS, Malays voting for DAP. The people have spoken. They said: “Look, we want a cohesive Opposition, so today, so-called contentious issues of the past, like the Islamic State and Hudud have been resolved. It’s neither their (PAS’) manifesto nor their agenda anymore.” Nades: How did you manage to get PAS to drop the Islamic State agenda which they had been so vociferous on in previous elections? Anwar: I’ve convinced them and they also know my position ... if you want me to be involved, this is my position. Similarly with Keadilan and DAP. They must be seen to be multiracial and not questioning the position of Bahasa or the Malay position. You can adjust but the paramount interest of justice, catering to those who are poor and marginalised, covering all races must be realised. I think what was achieved last night (a meeting between PKR, DAP and PAS) is a very important beginning. We sat down and discussed for hours and looked at the issues and it was agreed that we must unite and make politically expedient decisions. Terence: It seems that when you go into elections it is easy to have a common front. But like what happened in Perak shows that once you gain power, it is a different story altogether. Anwar: What happened in Perak is less problematic (than those) in Perlis and Terengganu (laughs). Because the media is controlled by them; that is why the focus is on Perak and Selangor. But I don’t deny that there are problems. Even within Keadilan, we have contending candidates, the DAP and PAS also have issues. But in the case of Perak, I understand the problem. PAS had the least number of seats so naturally, for DAP to take a tougher stance is quite understandable. (But) Why does the media play up this huge issue? We took a position that was quite tough too – we support the MB; we support the administration but we refused to participate in the administration unless the spirit of cooperation is there. I have enough problems in Penang with having eight non-Malays and two Malays. To have a similar arrangement in Perak would not be wise. It does not mean the Opposition is cracking up and to be fair to DAP, they made adjustments. And I have to record my appreciation. That’s in the past, now contrary to popular perception that the collaboration is merely prior to elections or prior to forming a government ... as of last night (March 18), we have now entered into this new arrangement. It will be a much more cohesive force as it will not be like the BN or PAS or DAP… here is the agenda, about constitutional guarantees, what about the Malaysian Economic Agenda, basic tolerance and the perceived dominance of one race against the others. Terence: You needed this new resolution because you were ill-prepared for the aftermath of the elections where Barisan Rakyat took five states and Kuala Lumpur? You never expected the results. Anwar: I was very confident that we will take over the whole government. We crossed the one-third mark a long time ago. Nades: Reading your comments in a Singapore interview, we said maybe Anwar is overconfident? Anwar is sounding cocky that he can form the government. Anwar: The interview in Singapore was given after they cancelled the indelible ink and the reason they cancelled the ink was because we were edging towards that (winning the election). We had passed 48% of the popular vote. Edging about 2% a day of the shift; and they knew that. That’s why they cancelled the indelible ink. Which means they had 3-4% votes to cheat. So imagine if they had used the ink? And the postal votes? We would have won easily. Nades: Should the postal votes be abolished as we are not at war or in emergency. It was (mostly) meant for our servicemen in the jungles during the Emergency and the war against the communists. Anwar: No. Postal voting can be conducted in a transparent and fair manner. These people … they virtually have robbed the people of their votes. Like in Setiawangsa (which was won by Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique) … we won. Then came 14,000 postal votes. Terence: We cannot prove this but is there any truth that in Lembah Pantai, where your daughter Nurul Izzah was contesting (and won against Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil), there were similar attempts? Anwar: Yes. But there was not enough to go around. In Teluk Kemang 7,000 postal votes were brought in, still our guys managed to win. Which means the number supporting us is big. That’s why I said, we will win if we get 55%. Even during the campaign I said you want to win with 50%, forget it! Nades: How are you going to put your economic plan into action while dealing with the sensitive topic of the NEP? Anwar: I drafted the MEA (Malaysian Economic Agenda) a year ago and gave a detailed explanation to civil servants about what we have planned for the poor and marginalised Malays, Chinese and Indians. We should start with regaining our competitiveness which we have lost, and attract more foreign direct investment. We have to build the economy upwards. With that in mind, then we can talk about distributive justice and equity. Terence: It seems that only Umno is opposing the MEA while the other BN component parties are keeping mum. You see, even in Umno there is disconnect between the thinking of the leaders and the grassroots. I will be meeting division leaders to explain this. I was portrayed negatively by Utusan Malaysia. They were demonising us, saying that we are traitors to the Malays. That’s interesting. “I am a traitor to the Malays”. I have not taken one share, no taxi permit, no contract in the name of bumiputra and all those so-called champions of Malays have taken hundreds of taxi permits, APs and contracts by the hundreds of millions of ringgit. So I said don’t enter into this (argument) otherwise I will smash them hard. Don’t use the racial card. If you say you are concerned about the NEP, it’s okay we can argue, we can discuss this but don’t start condemning us. I’ve appealed to them to stop this. Reviewing the NEP is not just (DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng’s view; of course in my mind we should craft the words properly. Coming from a Chinese they would immediately play the racial card. It is unfair to Guan Eng, although I would have advised him not to touch on the NEP, but it was unfair to him because his words were taken out of context. He did say it was for the poor of all races. Nades: Closer to Selangor, what changes can we expect from the new government? Anwar: Firstly, it’s governance. There was so much of wastage, corruption, leakages and alienation of land. According to the reports I have, hundreds of millions of ringgit are literally down the drain. But we have to be careful. We cannot create the impression that we are going to dismantle everything, because we will lose investor confidence. People want We have Chinese voting for PAS, Malays voting for DAP The . people have spoken. They said look, we want a cohesive Opposition, so today, so-called contentious issues of the past, like the Islamic State and Hudud have been resolved.” theSun | THURSDAY MARCH 27 2008 17 stability and continuity. The only major issue we accept is the mentri besar’s recommendation to review the water agreement. The water agreement is virtually scandalous! And it is a burden to consumers. Nades: What about land alienation to cronies? You cannot take the land back because the deal is done. Anwar: There are many ways to deal with this. If the land is given, we can go through the plans; we want to know why this is done in such a way. Terence: But you are not going on a witch hunt, are you? Anwar: I think it will be a problem for us, because it is endless. Then we will spend the next two years just doing this instead of running the states that we won. Immediately our plans are to move on by ensuring a vibrant economy. Drawing foreign investment, but problems affecting the poor are top on our list. Yesterday we went to Kampung Jawa (in Klang) to visit the Malay and Indian squatters. A contention was the demolished temple. So I told (Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul) Khalid (Ibrahim), you better deal with this immediately. In two weeks get it done; give them their land and pay compensation to rebuild their temple. Of course they will demand for this and that. That’s normal, but we draw the line. Then it’s their housing status. Khalid was concerned with Ijok where some areas have no water supply. It cost just RM200,000 to supply the water, so Khalid has announced that water will be supplied. These things must happen whether it’s a Malay area, Chinese area or Indian area, it must happen. There are huge problems in Selangor and he (former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo) has the audacity to talk about governance! I don’t deny that there are problems. Even within Keadilan, we have contending candidates, the DAP and PAS also have issues. But in the case of Perak, I understand the problem. PAS had the least number of seats so naturally, for DAP to take a tougher stance is quite understandable.” likelihood, with the dawn of the two-party system. Anwar: Yes, well, like I said, we actually won the election. Terence: While Anwar can become PM, there seems to be a dearth of individuals who would be able to govern and this brings me to the formation of the shadow cabinet. Anwar: Yes, when all these fellows took over … (former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) … they had no administrative experience. Myself too … so was the first generation of civil servants. As long as we have a clear programme and agenda, and more importantly here and now, clearer ground rules we will be all right. No way are we going to tolerate alienation of land to your son, daughter, son-in-law. No way! I think we have to work as a team. As far as qualified people are concerned, you look at (DAP stalwart Lim) Kit Siang, he is still there. We were discussing some election laws last night and he brought up some laws which I don’t remember. (laughs) He says, “Anwar you were finance Santiago on water and R. Sivarasa on human rights. Anwar:There you are! Some of them of course are not as well-known as I am but Siva is a Rhodes scholar … very articulate. Syed Husin Ali is one of the more renowned scholars. Nades: How did you manage 13 days of campaigning with a bad back? It was not easy. We were using my Dad’s car a Mercedes since it was bigger. I had to duduk bersila like in yoga. (laughs) Also, we had (PKR deputy president) Dr. Syed Husin Ali. He didn’t want to stand in this election, but he was here manning the fort, while I was travelling all over the country. I was wondering who would be doing this as (former PKR Youth chief) Ezam (Mohd Noor) is gone, Nik Nazmi (Nik Ahmad who won the Seri Setia state seat in Selangor ) is gone; (Sim) Tze Tzin (who won the Pantai Jerejak state seat in Penang) is gone … then I realised I was handicapped. My staff was making all the arrangements. to put you on Page One? Also associates who once had no time for you, but now are queuing up to see you? Anwar: (Laughs) I have no malice. You know, sometimes I laugh at these people. This is the quality of people and they think they are great. I have no personal agenda. They have. Some of them are scared. Dead scared! They came to see me saying we are sorry, but were forced to do this and do that. In a way it is good - not that it is fair for them to put me in prison and treat me that way … but it is a good experience. And if people make mistakes and are remorseful, we should give them a chance. I always believe that. Nades: What are your plans after April 13 when you are eligible to contest for political office? Your wife is Opposition Leader - a position which is being warmed for you. Anwar: Yes, but it is still early. Parliament only convenes in May. We still have time. I have to travel overseas for some engagements and I have to resign from my Terence: Do you positions (in several think the media As long as we have a clear proforeign think tanks and has been fair with academic boards) … the new state gramme and agenda, and more meetings and lectures importantly here and now, clearer governments under in Harvard and at Barisan Rakyat? ground rules we will be alright. No way Kennedy School … Anwar: They have are we going to tolerate alienation of we’ll see. But now the not been fair to them. focus is on having a land to your son, daughter, son-in-law. What with these cohesive Opposition loaded questions and No way!” and make sure the state their own agenda. governments are on Give them a chance track. to do something like minister, how can you not how I suggested to Guan Eng Terence: Are you ready to know this?” that he should go to the Malay take over? I said: “Yalah Kit, I don’t villages, no one highlighted Anwar: This is for the MPs remember.” Then he reminds it when he went to Tanjung and the people to decide. We me. Tokong. just want to make sure that I think he is certainly That’s why I was very the states are running well, qualified to serve. You have rough with the Utusan guy. It’s and that we are prepared for (PAS president) Hadi (Awang) not their fault though, I know Parliament. We have time to who has four years experience that when they start pushing, come to that. of being mentri besar of they have their instructions but Terengganu … and many repercussions can be great. Terence: If you asked me others. two weeks ago, one would Terence: Can we touch a dismiss Anwar Ibrahim Nades: Come to think of little on some of the media being prime minister. it, you have some experts organisations that used to But today, there is such on your side like Charles blacklist you but now want back the IGP and tell him, I cannot be a Penang leader if I can’t settle this problem.” Nobody wanted to go! Koh Tsu Koon, Shariff Omar, all the excos semua tak nak pergi! So I went. You know the problem? I told the mosque people, azan five times a day is ok but there were some announcements, touching on Melayu and Islam, some hints ... so I told them: “Lima kali. Lebih daripada itu, I have a problem. I kena rampas you punya mike.” (Five times. Anything more, I will have to seize your microphone.) So they said: “Jangan Datuk.” So I said: “You know I’m with you, don’t overdo it.” I also told Koh Tsu Koon to give them the land for the (relocation of the) temple. Nades: But what was your So, I told the (Muslim) problem with (former PKR people, you pukul budak Hindu vice president) Chandra umur 12 tahun, (hit a 12-yearMuzaffar? He came out very old Hindu boy) is not right. So scathing against you. they settled and shook hands. Anwar: I was in prison when Done. he first decided to attack and I only brought my smash me to pieces prior to plainclothes guards. Even the the 2004 elections. He had police were not allowed in the problems within the party, temple because people were initially with the Youth Wing already angry as they tear… Ezam, later (former PKR gased the neighbourhood. vice-president) Marina Yusof. I said the same thing to the I was still backing him but he temple committee: “I know came out very strong against your prayer times.” I was me. I still wonder why. studying in Malay College Kuala Kangsar where there Terence: After Chandra was was a temple next door. You released from the ISA, he don’t have to look at your seemed to be more prowatch. Teng! Teng! Teng! establishment. Teng! 6am. Teng! Teng! Teng! Anwar: Well, he went through Teng! 6pm. a lot. I can’t deny So I told that and I do them don’t That’s interappreciate his provoke initial contributions esting. ‘I am a because during to Keadilan. I did the Muslim traitor to the not want to pursue prayer times Malays’. I have not litigation (over his they were taken one share, statements against ringing the no taxi permit, no Anwar during the bells even election), but my contract in the name louder. lawyers advised me of bumiputra and So I told (to proceed) and the them that all those so-called letter (of demand) I warned champions of was already sent. the mosque committee that Malays have taken Terence: Do you I will seize the hundreds of taxi want to retort microphone. permits, APs and against Chandra’s So, to the contracts by the allegations about temple hundreds of millions committee, I the words you uttered when said if you do of ringgit.” you visited the the same thing, Hindu temple I will also in Penang? rampas your (Background: In March bells. 27, 1998, a group of And what did Chandra say? Muslims marched from the That I threatened to silence all Kampung Rawa mosque bells in Hindu temples across to the nearby Sri Raja Raja the nation?! It’s not true. Of Madurai Veeran temple, course I had to sound very angered by the loud ringing tough also. How do you solve of the temple’s prayer bells. the problem when they are The resulting clash between fighting like that? 500 Muslims and Hindus It is totally wrong what they resulted in several people are trying to portray me as. I being injured. The dispute am very indebted to the Indian was settled when the state community. They have helped government provided an me a lot. You see the Bukit alternative site for the Selambau fellow (Independent temple.) candidate V. Arumugan)? He Anwar: These accusations are said he will join PKR if I come excessive. Did he ask me what there and hold his hand. So I happened at the mosque? I was did. And he won, and now he DPM at that time and nobody has joined Keadilan! wanted to go down there. I went to the mosque and then Terence: What is your take the temple. on the new cabinet? Some (Then) IGP (Inspector say that it is very UmnoGeneral of Police Tan Sri) centric. Rahim Noor called up the Anwar: Ya! First I can see that Penang CPO (chief police there are attempts to respond officer) and told him: “Tell to the electorate but overall it Anwar not to go down to the is a disappointing line-up. It is mosque as the police cannot not catered for the expectations guarantee his safety.” of people. There seem to be (Incidentally it was Rahim some shift in policies but then Noor who gave Anwar his some characters tainted with black eye that inspired the PKR corruption continue to be in symbol). office… well, these are exciting I told the CPO: “You call times!

Places of worship and schools to pay only RM1 - The Star

By Wani Muthiah and Edward Rajendra

SHAH ALAM: All registered places of worship and schools in Selangor will soon no longer pay quit rent and assessment rates. Instead, they will be charged a token annual fee of RM1.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said this would allow places of worship to channel funds for their own activities while schools would no longer be bogged down by fund-raising work.

The decision was made at the state exco meeting yesterday.

Former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo had three months ago waived close to RM500,000 in quit rent arrears owed by vernacular schools, to allow them to concentrate on education activities.

Klang Valley Taoism Association chairman Yeoh Choo Beng, 59, said the RM1 nominal fee for places of worship showed the caring approach of the new government.

Former Sree Selvavinayagar Temple chairman N.P. Raman lauded the move, while proposing that 100-year-old Hindu temples be gazetted as heritage buildings.

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Husam: MPs may file no-confidence motion against PM - The Star

KOTA BARU: PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa has raised the prospect that some MPs would file a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when Parliament commences.

Husam said many MPs were unhappy with what was going on in the Government, especially after Barisan Nasional suffered stunning losses in the recent 12th general election.

He said such a prospect was possible especially when it was widely perceived that the country’s leadership was weak.

This was why the party was pressing for a leadership change in the country, said Husam, a state executive councillor.

Speaking at a mammoth ceramah held at the state PAS religious centre here, Husam said PAS was ready to capitalise on its new political gains, in the context that many Chinese and Indians now supported the Islamist party.

This was evident in Kedah, Perak and Selangor, he said, adding that the Indians even marched in Perak to demand that the new Mentri Besar be from PAS.

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