Saturday, May 31, 2008

Put politics aside lah!

Can we just put politics aside? The Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaacob has asked Datuk Mokzani Mahathir to step down as Sepang International Circuit chairman. Mokzani may have quit as Umno member and the SIC post is a government appointment but it is more important whether he has done a good job. The Formula One is 10 years old and we know he has done well. Mokzani doesn't even get paid. Despite the glamour surrounding F1, it is not an easy job, especially now with Singapore hosting it for the first time. Sports and politics should never mixed. Mokzani has not even join another political party. In Penang, many of the committee members involved in Chingay and Dragon Boat come from different political parties. Gerakan, MCA or DAP, so what? It's no big deal as they merely share the same passion and want to make Penang shine. It's the same with FI.Please put politics aside lah.

Friday, May 30, 2008

People's Victory! Barricade must go!

The Cabinet has decided that the barricade put up at Bandar Mahkota Cheras to prevent residents from using the access road has to go. In short, it means no more barricade. The happy news was conveyed to the residents by Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed just an hour ago, according to The Star. The access road will now remain open until the court case is completed. It's a victory for the people there who have fought strongly for their rights. Grand Saga, the highway concessionaire, has been claiming the access road is illegal. It's a lot of nonsense, really. The access is on state government land and any developer worth his salt can tell you that the state has a right to open it if it wants to. But what is even sadder is the unnecessary use of force by the police and the thugs against some residents and reporters who covered the protest. Suhakam has rightly condemned against the "excessive use of force" on the residents, especially a 21-year-old man who ended up in hospital, after being whacked by the cops.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Breaking news! Another ex-Anwar aide joins Umno

Anuar Shaari, a former PKR leader and confidante of Anwar Ibrahim, has joined Umno. The former private secretary to Anwar handed his application letter to the Deputy Prime Minister at Parliament today, according to an SMS alert from The Star. Anuar was at one time the chief of the Permatang Pauh PKR division. Like Ezam Mohd Nor, he is said to have a feud with Azmin Ali, who has the ears of Anwar Ibrahim. For some political observers, it was a fight for the affection and attention of the big man. Finally, Azmin won. Ezam has said that it was Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's fight against corruption which made him decided to join Umno.

Anyone for Kafir Latte?

When I first expressed my views about the myopic statement from the Persatuan Pelajar Islam Malaysia, the last thing I expected is to be accused of being an infidel. In the words of blogger Mahaguru58, lawyer Karpal Singh and I are non-believers in God. It's really tiresome going into a debate on religion. Haris Ibrahim has taken up the case for me and I have to thank him for defending me. Like many other people, religion is a personal thing. It is between God and myself. No one has any right to judge us. But the point is this - Malaysia must not be allowed to go to the Little Talibans. It does not matter whether they come in shades of white (too sexy?), green (too PAS?) or blue (too BN?) but the fact remains that Malaysia has turned more conservative over the years. Anyone, regardless of their religion, who speak up, find themselves on the firing line. They are intimidated and all kinds of names are hurled against them. As always, the tiresome argument is used, non-Muslims cannot even make a squeak because we are kafirs. Never mind, if these rulings impinge on our rights. Police women have been asked to cover-up because they were supposedly part of the uniform. Kelantan state Women Affairs committee chairman Wan Ubaidah Wan Omar said there was no problem with baju kurung but it was "challenging" for schoolboys to sit in the same classroom with schoolgirls who wore revealing school uniform! Have we come to this? Looks like Cafe Latte must now make way for Kafir Latte!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Breaking news: Ezam back into Umno

Umno has accepted former PKR Youth leader Ezam Mohd Nor into the party. The Prime Minister who met Ezam at Parliament at 3pm has just told the media that he welcomed Ezam into the party but said he would not be given any special posts, according to an SMS alert from The Star. (See also Star Online update) There has been talk that Ezam would be made a Senator but it is unlikely to happen. At least, in the near future. Ezam is likely to channel his energy to reform Umno. Ezam, a one time confidante of Anwar Ibrahim, is said to have left PKR after a bitter feud with Azmin Ali.
After quitting PKR, Ezam made the fight against corruption as his political platform, landing himself into trouble with the authorities numerous times. It would be interesting to see how he intend to continue his struggle in Umno if he is serious about fighting corruption. Is it a mission impossible for him? What kind of role is he expected to play or can he play?

Malaysia need more Obamas, not Osamas.

The world is ready for a new American president. A young, black American with Hussein as his middle name. Barack Obama has become the beacon of hope for many people around the world, especially minorities. We don't have to agree with his politics but he represent renewal.
We read of his Republican rival, John McCain, who reportedly planned to have Bobby Jindal as his running mate. Jindal's family migrated to the US from India. Recently, another black man was voted into the Italian parliament.
Times have changed and even the conservatives realises that talent is more important than race and religion. When you have a heart attack, you seek the help of the best doctor to save your life, you don't care about his race or religion. You want the best teacher to teach your children because you only want the best for them. You want the most trustworthy banker or accountant to look after your money. Who cares if they are Malays, Chinese or Indians as long as they can do the job?
But in Malaysian politics, we are still struggling with this issue, when it comes to the question of leadership. From certain ministerial posts to the appointment of judges, race come into play.
Even as some younger and liberal Umno leaders push for reforms, they have found themselves hitting the wall with some Umno leaders holding on to their grip at the old style of politics. Reforms are perceived as weaknesses and compromises to other races. In the name of nationalism and race, some, including respectable names, are playing the racial card to fit their political agenda. Malaysia deserve the best leaders, regardless of their races, because there is so much good things going for us if only we can go beyond race and religious extremism. We need more Obamas, not Osamas.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Miscalculated move by Dr M?

Since Dr Mahathir Mohamad's resignation from Umno, it has failed to spark off a mass resignation from the party. Only his immediate family members, excluding Mukhriz, have quit but there has been no big names. Certainly, his "shock and awe" tactic in quitting Umno has jolted Umno members but it has not led to the kind of effect that the former Prime Minister would surely want to see. But many Malaysians are also worried at the line he has been using lately, particularly his remarks of possible racial unrest and allegations that groups were making demands because a weak government. Malaysians, regardless of their races, simply want to have a bigger say over the kind of government they want. They have voiced it loudly at the elections, that's all. Even BN leaders have acknowledged that times have changed. There's nothing racial or religious when Malaysians speak up, if they do so within the legal boundaries. Even Dr M is trying to sound like a democrat these days, calling for bigger democratic space including press freedom.
No one can argue that during his 22 year leadership, he brought massive development to Malaysia but we also paid a heavy price for it, compromising our institutions. But that's over. Whatever his weaknesses, his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has opened up the country. Whether it was due to the political environment or his willingness to open up, Malaysians certainly enjoy greater freedom. He allowed the Lingam inquiry and got the BN burnt big time during the elections. It was the last straw for Dr M. For many Umno members, they find some of Pak Lah's reforms disturbing and a threat to their positions. Ministers Zaid Ibrahim, Shahrir Samad and Ahmad Shabeery Cheek, for example, have been openly criticised at Umno functions for their reforms. Will the reformists get their way in Umno or they will be put on fire?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Yes, Here is My Home

Some days, it is good to remind ourselves what our Home is all about.

Click here for this video clip of multi-ethnic Malaysian artistes, including Ning Baizura, Awie, Afdlin Shauki, Jaclyn Victor, Suki and many more, sing about Home. This project is produced by Pete Teo and directed by Yasmin Ahmad and Ho Yuhang.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pulau Batu Putih verdict today.

Updates: 6pm Singapore keeps Pulau Batu Putih

Press release of the judgment from The Hague, click here.

The full judgment, click here, (but take note that this pdf file is 1MB in size)

By 6pm - we should know whether Pulau Batu Putih will go to Malaysia or Singapore. The International Court of Justice is expected to take at least two hours to deliver their judgement with the decision make known at the end. RTM is telecasting the event live from The Hague from 4pm.The decision will bring to a close the 28-year-old dispute. The word is that the ICJ verdict will be close, with some experts saying it could favour the Singaporeans. Both sides have agreed that they would congratulate each other regardless of how it would swing. And no celebrations too.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Little Talibans in Malaysia

It's stupid really. But thanks to the National Islamic Students Association of Malaysia, an unheard of group, we have made it to the international media for the wrong reason, again. The group has claimed that the school uniforms worn by our female students are too sexy, saying the blouse were too transparent and could lead to rape and pre-marital sex. What planet do these guys come from? These little Talibans are also claiming that these uniforms are a distraction. The Home Ministry also has their strange rules. Newspapers and magazines cannot have pictures of women in clevages, belly buttons or arm pits. But hey, you get plenty of these on MTV but that's because another ministry is handling TV stations! For a stronger perspective, hear it from Patrick Teoh.
But Mahaguru58 is fuming MAD at those who criticised the students. Here's his side, calling me and Karpal Singh infidels, obviously unable to argue his case well. The women PAS wing, as expected, is throwing their support for the association. The Islamist party also think it's too sexy for the students.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Breaking news! Mokhzani quits Umno

Updates: 9.40pm - Umno supreme council meeting over Dr M's decision to quit party. Hishamuddin Hussein Onn wants Mukhriz referred to management panel for his call to Pak Lah to step down.

Mokhzani Mahathir has joined his father to quit Umno. The former businessman and former Umno Youth leader has less risk that his brother, Mukhriz, who is eyeing the Umno Youth chief post. Unlike Mukhriz, who is the MP for Jerlun, Mokhzani does not hold any party positions. Former Kota Setar MP Dr Hadi Derani also quit, together with other branch members. The constituency has been renamed Pokok Sena, now under PAS. Dr Mahathir's biggest challenge, to sustain the momentum, is to get some big names to join his move. At this point, those who have joined in are mostly veterans and family members although his act has jolted Umno.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Breaking news: Mukhriz to stay on in Umno

Mukhriz Mahathir is staying on in Umno to fight it out. It come as no surprise as the Jerlun MP is eyeing the Umno Youth chief post. If he join his father in quitting, that would be the end of his political dream to helm the youth movement. There is talk that at least five branches in Kedah would close shop tonite following the dramatic decision of Dr Mahathir Mohamad to give up his party membership. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi met Umno MPs at Parliament today where they pledged their support for him. It will be the turn of the BN MPs tomorrow. Meanwhile, seasoned Malaysian journalist Ong Hock Chuan has blamed Dr Mahathir for some of the mess in the Abdullah Administration while another veteran scribe, Kadir Jasin, said Malaysians can expect Dr M to be more critical from now.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Breaking news! Dr M quits Umno

Updates: 4.17pm - Ku Li says he is staying back to fight Pak Lah
Updates: 3.54pm - Former Umno sec-gen Tan Sri Sanusi Junid has quit too.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has announced he has quit Umno and has asked other party members to follow suit. The former premier stunned his listeners at a gathering in Kedah today, where Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is scheduled to speak at a another function next. Dr Mahathir's dramatic decision is regarded as the latest move by him to pressure Abdullah Ahmad to step down as Umno president and Prime Minister. The announcement came a day after Dr Mahathir told Umno members in Johor that they should Pak Lah straight in his face that he should quit. Dr Mahathir, who headed Umno for 22 years, said he would only return to Umno after Pak Lah has quit. But he has also told his listeners not to join another party. His loyalists particularly the veterans could joined in. Just hours after his announcement, former Kedah MB Tan Sri Sanusi Junid said he would followed suit. Other veterans said they were shocked. But minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi welcome the decision while Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir declined to comment on his move. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dr M also plays the racial card

Even Dr Mahathir Mohamad cannot resist playing the racial card when he faced the Umno crowd. It was all about the perceived threat, mostly imagined, that the Malays were losing their rights to non-Malays.Umno seems to believe that one way of winning back the Malay votes is to re-emphasise its role as the protector of Malay rights. But the results of the last polls showed that it did not hurt PKR a bit even with Anwar Ibrahim saying the NEP has become irrelevant. The MCA has now talked about adopting a multi-racial approach with some even thinking that in the long run, the party has to evolved into a totally different structure. The Chinese community is shrinking, that's a reality. But Umno has not shown enough willingness to adapt and change when Malaysians have changed. There is no more future for communal politics.

Cops to start probe, PM backs report against media

Expect reporters and editors to be called up by the police soon. So would members of the Royal Commission and government officials involved in the inquiry. The PM has also said he supported the police report lodged against the newspapers which published news of the commission recommendations before it was made publicly. The media has protested against the report, saying it has nothing to do with the Official Secrets Act while the Cabinet is peeved that the press beat them to it. But that's how the media operate. The media is doing national interest by publishing the outcome of the inquiry. In any case, there was no "earth shattering" news relevations in the report. The media has a duty to inform the public of what they know about the investigations and recommendations. It is a waste of time and taxpayers money for the police to spend their time recording statements from journalists. I am sure they rather spend their time fighting crime.

Friday, May 16, 2008

What? More police reports?

Updates: Zaid: Govt has to control leakages of information. Click and here, click.

After the series of police reports lodged against lawyer Karpal Singh for allegedly making seditious remarks, it's the turn of the newspapers. The Prime Minister's Department has lodged a police report against several newspapers for publishing the findings of the Royal Commission before it was made public.
The case is being investigated by the police under the Official Secrets Act where a jail sentence is mandatory, according to sources. The Star, New Straits Times, Sin Chew Daily and even the Bar Council website have published the findings before it was made public today. The report has puzzled the local media - both mainstream and alternative - as the findings of the commission were not prejudicial to national security and the proceedings were opened to the public. But the scoops of the some newspapers is said to have irked certain members of the commission and Cabinet members, which met today. Malaysian Insider also has an update on this development. How the press got hold of the information should be the last worry for the government and commission. Its priority is to restore the public's confidence in the judiciary and right what has been wrong. It should proceed with the action against those who have subverted the course of justice and not those who report about the commission's investigations. Jeff Ooi and Kit Siang also have their say here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The political possibilities

Updates: A reader has questioned whether the barely 3-mth old govt can call for fresh polls. Here's the answer from M-Star. Here in Malaysiakini too.

It is still the hottest talk at the Dewan Rakyat, at least at the MPs' lounge, lobby and canteen. Despite the denials of some Sabah MPs of defecting and some openly telling the press that they have been offered millions of ringgit, the speculation simply refuses to go away. But let's look at some political possibilities.
If enough BN MPs want to jump to Pakatan Rakyat, and should the government looks like it would fall, the likelihood is that the BN would dissolve Parliament and call for fresh elections. That means we have to go through the entire process again. No political party that has been in government for 50 years would allow their power to be snatched away without a fight. It's a risk to seek a fresh mandate - the BN could end up worse or better - but it's certainly a better option than to be toppled due to party-hopping.
Iif fresh elections are held, Anwar Ibrahim will surely contest. It is unlikely that Anwar will come in as a senator as speculated. The Federal Constitution is clear. Under Article 43 (2) (a), the King shall appoint as PM a member of the Lower House, who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House. That's the only specific requirement as it says nothing about ethnicity, gender or region although by convention, ethnic and political realities come into play. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

It's not music to the ears

It's scandalous. DAP MP Lim Guan Eng has claimed that Petronas spent RM3.5mil a month to sustain the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) with the conductor paid RM130,000 a month. If that's true, that means the conductor is better paid than the Prime Minister and most chief executive officers in town. According to the Penang Chief Minister, his assistant gets RM30,000. Since its inception 10 years ago, Petronas has forked out RM500mil for the orchestra. This is serious stuff because only 10 per cent of the orchestra members are said to be locals. It is difficult for us to accept the fact that after 10 years, we are still unable to train enough musicians to take these roles. According to Guan Eng, the musicians are getting between RM16,000 and RM28,000 a month. I am not an expert but I think for top class act, these salaries are not that big. But still, we would like to see more Malaysians, not necessarily all Malaysians.
Surely a decade is a long time. Penang born Ooi Chean See is said to have left the MPO because she was unhappy. But that's not all, companies which support the MPO have found out that they cannot even claim tax deductions. Surely, it make sense to have some form of tax incentives to encourage the private sector to back the arts scene. No one will get the full details of the allegations as Petronas does not have to make public its financial status.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Angry Sabahan MPs give deadline

Sabah's SAPP MPs led by Datuk Yong Teck Lee have issued an ultimatum to the Prime Minister - resolve the problems in the state by August or we cannot guarantee that we will still remain in the Barisan Nasional. It is the strongest warning from a Sabah politician since the open expression of unhappiness over the past two days. Sabahan MPs, said to persuaded by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to quit BN, have been vocal and one PBS MP said he has met the PKR leader. Yong warned that "an explosion" will take place in Sabah when the "opposition comes into play" but did not elaborate. Anwar is clearly a factor - that's by Yong's admission. The possible defection of Sabah MPs has been the biggest talk among the politicians and press at Dewan Rakyat since Monday. They are also the most sought after MPs these days with the spotlight on them. There is talk of these Sabahan MPs forming somekind of caucus or even a new party instead of joining PKR - where they will play second fiddle - but they know that they are calling the shots now. But for now, they have remained uncommittal and vague. Certainly, most of them are enjoying the attention they are getting.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Royal rebuke against Karpal Singh

Updates: May 17, Cops investigating Umno members too
Updates: May 13, 11pm Probe against Karpal completed
Updates: 10.30pm Teng said Karpal lacked political wisdom

The Royal Court of Selangor, which met this morning. has issued a statement against DAP chairman Karpal Singh for purportedly saying that the Sultan of Selangor had interfered in the executive matters of the state. The report came out in the Malay Mail on May 6.In a strongly-worded statement from the Royal Court, which comprises elders of the palace, it regarded the statement by Karpal Singh as baseless and irresponsible. The statement from the Selangor royalty is the first from the palace. Most of the police reports lodged have been from Umno supporters. The latest development will certainly add the pressure on Karpal Singh. Meanwhile, Karpal Singh has said that he made no specific allegation against the Sultan of Selangor and wondered if the Royal Court had acted hastily.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ibrahim Ali - what party next?

Independent MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali has finally admitted that he is looking for a party to join. This is no surprise to most Malaysians. The Pasir Mas MP said he could not serve his constituents effectively on his own. But the former Umno politician said he would decide in the next five or six months - presumably when the political scenario is clearer. In short, he would want to be on the government bench, one suspect.
The political maverick surprised everyone in the 2008 elections when he was allowed by PAS to contest under its banner. The decision did not go down well with PAS grassroots who questioned the move. Recently, he was accused of supporting the Barisan Nasional in the selection of the Dewan Rakyat Speaker. Next, he had a fight with DAP's Karpal Singh, which made him "more BN than the other BN MPs."
But Ibrahim is obviously aware that he has become a prized item given the speculations that there would be defections soon. Keeping his cards close to his chest, he also said he has good ties with PAS. No surprise that talk of an anti-hopping law has fizzled out. Both the BN and Pakatan are keeping their doors open, after all.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Karpal Singh: AG to decide next week?

Updates: 7.15pm Police has recorded a statement from Karpal Singh over reports made against him for allegedly making seditious remarks. Click

At least nine police reports have been lodged against DAP chairman Karpal Singh for allegedly questioning the powers of the Sultan of Perak. The veteran politician has argued, saying it was a purely legal issue and he had not questioned the prerogative of the Sultan. But the talk is that more police reports would be lodged and protest gatherings held. There could possibly be a royal rebuke, too, of some sort next week. PM has already pushed the case further with a call to the Attorney-General to speed up the investigations.
With the police busy taking down the statements of politicians and reporters over the case, we can expect some kind of a decision next week.
But the biggest test would be how the DAP MP's Pakatan partners would react to his position, particularly the position of the Malays. PAS and PKR leaders have either remained silent or reacted cautiously over the issue, mindful of the fact that some Malays have claimed that Karpal Singh has gone too far. But Penang exco member Abdul Malik Abul Kassim has come out to dismiss the protest by some Malay groups, saying they are petty and not representative of the community. Anwar Ibrahim has also come out strongly against the use of Malay issues. But a storm seems to be gathering and it is possible that the AG may decide on Karpal Singh's case, as early as next week.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah - not the end yet

The Syariah High Court in Penang may have allowed the application by Muslim convert Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to renounce Islam and revert to her original faith but that's not the end of her problems. Or the problems of others in the same situation. The court did not grant her application to change the religious status on her IC from Muslim to Buddhist, saying that it did not come under the court's jurisdiction and she had to pursue the matter with the National Registration Department. Let's hope the NRD would be kind to her. Unlike the civil courts, Syariah Courts are not bound by the principle of judicial precedents. The Syariah court judges exercise their own judicial findings. The Penang Syariah Court's decision maybe unprecedented but other states may not necessarily follow suit. For that matter, the next case that comes up in Penang, the judge is not bound to make a similar decision. The concept of precedent is for the purpose of consistency which is normally followed, unless the facts and circumstances being tried are different. But lawyers and court reporters have told me that the gates have not been opened. The Penang decision is a victory for the freedom of religion but don't jump for joy too fast.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

RPK case - the political cause and cost

Perception is everything in politics. For the Barisan Nasional, the public perception against the government is that the sedition charge is a form of persecution against blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin for his daring comments. He is a hero who dare to face the might of the government, even at the risk of being jailed. Fresh from the heavy electoral defeats in five states, the public opinion against the BN can be politically costly. In fact, it can ill afford such sentiments at this point. RPK has the public on his side.
It would be more appropriate, even more effective, for the aggrieved parties to file civil suits against RPK. Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to slander or libel, his detractors are saying. Sue him for defamation and libel then. It is more difficult to prove the sedition charges against him, in fact.
But the Umno political leaders have said that he has broken the law and must face consequences of his actions. For RPK, he would now have to substantiate the allegations he has made in his article when the trial begins.
The attention would also be on Karpal Singh, where a few police reports have been lodged against him for sedition too. There is strong pressure within the Umno ranks for action to be taken against him for his various statements on the Rulers, saying he has gone too far. The police have, in fact, started their investigations by taking down statements from various parties including reporters.
Again, if the Attorney-General decide to press charges against him, it will be another politically costly affair. But for Karpal, like RPK, it's for a cause.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Altantuya case: Back in the news

Just a couple of months ago, the interest on the Altantuya murder case seemed to be waning. The attendance at the court room was dropping and newspapers relegated the coverage to the backpages. The legal process seemed draggy and the foreign press, too, appeared to have lost interest. But the sedition charges against Raja Petra Kamaruddin today could well change the entire scenario. The appearance of Altantuya's father on the first day of Parliament also provided fresh sparks. Fans of RPK regard the blogger as brave and daring while his detractors consider his articles libellous. But there is no doubt that the charges against him would make him a martyr and helped to renew interest in the court case. The political temperature is likely to go up too.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Raja Petra charged with sedition

Updates: 12.20pm - RPK charged with sedition over article "Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell." See The Star for latest. RPK has claimed trial. Syed Ali also charged with sedition for posting comment to the blog.

Updates: 12noon - RPK still waiting in PJ for charges to be read while Syed Akbar Ali in Jalan Duta.

Updates: 11.10am - RPK now has now been told to go to PJ Sessions Court

Updates: Big crowd at the courts, Raja Petra arrives
According to an SMS alert from The Star, RPK arrived at the magistrates court at 9.06am to be charged for sedition; big crowd gathered outside.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the webmaster of Malaysia Today news portal, is expected to be charged for offences under the Sedition Act tomorrow at the Magistrate's Court. There are no details about the charges. To raise bail, family members are expected to appeal to the public to raise the money. Another person, Syed Akbar Ali, is also expected to face similar charges. He is said to have posted comments on Islam.

Equally ridiculous proposal

The Foreign Ministry has come out with another outrageous plan following criticism against its proposal that women travelling alone overseas must bring along consent letters from their families or employers. The ministry has now clarified that the proposal was only meant for those below 21 years old. Some consolation. This is an equally ridiculous suggestion and don't expect Malaysians to accept it. This time, Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who is facing the barrage of attacks, has said it was a media misunderstanding. But Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has shot down the idea, saying it was impractical and a violation of human rights. Drug mules or smugglers, whether women or men, know precisely what they are doing. Travellers are asked at airport check in counters whether they have packed their bags themselves. Drug smuggling is certainly an offence and let's not pretend they don't know. There will always be people who are prepared to take the risk for quick money. Use the media, youth groups and colleges to tell the young that the risks is just not worth it. They could face death sentences in some countries. Can the Foreign Ministry just end this and admit it is a stupid idea? Or pretend it didn't happen.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Travel letter proposal - it's ridiculous

Come on, it's simply a ridiculous idea. Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim should just scrap his idea of wanting all Malaysian women travelling out of the country alone to have a letter from parents or employers.
He shouldn't waste the time of his fellow Cabinet members with this proposal. What's there to stop someone from drug smuggling even if they are travelling with these letters? The proposal would only create more red tape and paper work. To put it simply, it is just not feasible. I am sure Dr Rais mean well as there are over 119 Malaysian women in prison worldwide for drug offences but why should women be singled out? What about single men travelling overseas alone?

Nazri, keep an open mind

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz has said his piece against the abolishment of the Printing Presses and Publications Act. In short, over my dead body. He told The Star that he would have to be defeated in the elections and let the new government repeal the Act. Nazri is entitled to his opinion and the reasons for it but he must learn to trust Malaysians more. If the Malaysian media crosses the line, there is always the Sedition Act and the Internal Securty Act. There is no reason why the media would misuse their position if the act is repealed. By shackling the media through various laws, Malaysians would only turn to other medium where is a greater room for dissension and expression. Politicians should not be afraid of criticism. We hope Nazri would keep an open-mind on this. But other politicians have adopted a more reasonable position including calling for a waiver of the annual printing permit requirement as a first step towards the end of the PPPA.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

World Press Freedom Day

It's World Press Freedom Day. For the Malaysian media, whether they are in the print, electronic or internet medium, it's a day when we are stand together to show our common stand of demanding greater press freedom. The freedom of expression is an essential part of democracy. A healthy democracy means a meaningful participation of Malaysians in the political process.
We don't have to agree with each other. But we don't have to shout each other down, or to shut each other down. More importantly, we must push for the removal of laws that shackle the media such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the annual renewal of printing permits. There are also the relevant laws such as the Internal Security Act and the Official Secrets Act. Not to forget, the almost daily legal suits from commercial houses. Let's remove these draconian laws.

Friday, May 2, 2008

It's hot in Perak too!

In a dramatic event, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin has been ordered by the Sultan of Perak to reinstate state religious department director Datuk Jamry Sury. Royal consent was not obtained for the sacking. Earlier, at 11am, Nizar was summoned to the palace. The palace has also issued a statement on the decision.

Breaking news! Live telecast to go on

Here's the good news! The Cabinet which met this morning has agreed that the live telecast of the parliament proceedings should proceed. Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek is expected to call for a press conference at 4pm to announce the decision. The Star has the story
It's certainly a wise decision. Shabery who initiated the decision for the live telecast called for a review after Wednesday's 30-minute delay of the question time. But several Cabinet ministers including Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Datuk Shahrir Samad and Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen wanted the telecast to go on.

Breaking news! Police at Raja Petra's house

The police, according to sources, are now at the house of blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin. It is not clear what the six police officers are looking for and the reason for the visit. Rocky Bru broke the story in his blog. This is the second time the cops have visited him. The first time was during Hari Raya Haji in 2001.
He has been asked to go to Bukit Aman tomorrow at 11am to give a statement to the commercial crime unit. The police is expected to release details later. See The Star here for updates.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bad news - live telecast off?

According to an SMS alert from The Star, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has said that he was ashamed of what transpired on the first day of the Dewan Rakyat sitting. He agreed that the live telecast be scrapped. Earlier, Information Minister Datuk Shabery Cheek said he would proposed to the Cabinet meeting tomorrow that the telecast be called off, which would be really sad.
Let's face it. Some MPs, especially the new ones, wanted to make an impression on the first day. They seemed disruptive and appeared to want to stall the proceedings. All this must be very new to the government.
Then, there were some MPs who should have exercised some restraint but showed their true, or old, colours again. They looked bad with their name calling and crude performances. But the public surely can judge. They can differentiate the good and bad ones, regardless of their parties. Certainly, the MPs would also know that they cannot be quoting from the Standing Orders after a while. It's just the first day and the first live telecast. A very good decision has been made, don't call it off too fast. This is democracy at work and Malaysians need to see how their MPs fare. Let the show continue.

Dr M, welcome to blogosphere!

Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the latest to join the blogging community. Rocky Bru alerted Malaysians with this piece of news. The former prime minister has posted his first comment on the appointment of judges. Dr Mahathir, welcome aboard!

Don't scrap the live telecast!

Information Minister Datuk Shabery Chik is having second thoughts about having the parliamentary proceedings being telecast live after the fiery start yesterday. He complained that the opposition MPs had behaved badly and that it was unworthy to telecast the meeting as they were playing to the gallery.
It's really the best comedy show so far. In the words of Shabery, it's really a circus. But the voters would be able to pick out the disruptive ones better if we get to watch it live. From government MPs with unparliamentary behaviour to opposition MPs who are only good at fault finding and their delaying tactics, Malaysians would know what to do with the culprits. The voters are not stupid.
The issue would probably be discussed at the Cabinet meeting this Friday. It shouldn't be scrapped after just one telecast. Let's see how it goes, for sure RTM's ratings will shoot up with such telecast.