Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cadbury melamine levels ok

Oct 1, 2008
Cadbury melamine levels ok
Cadbury said the Hong Kong test results did not change their decision to recall the products from the Beijing plant. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - HONG KONG authorities said the amount of melamine found in samples of chocolate made at British candy maker Cadbury's Beijing factory was legally acceptable for human consumption.

Tuesday's announcement came a day after the company recalled 11 items sold in parts of Asia and the Pacific.

Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety said it ran tests on six Cadbury products, two of which had been made in Beijing and had been recalled, and found them to have melamine levels lower than the territory's legal limit of 2.5 parts per million.

It did not say whether it was testing the other nine products being recalled.

Cadbury said the Hong Kong test results did not change their decision to recall the products from the Beijing plant.

'It was tested as satisfactory but we are still withdrawing it,' said Simon Taylor, head of corporate relations and communications at Cadbury.

'That makes no change from what Cadbury announced on Monday.'

Baby formula containing melamine has been blamed for killing four babies and sickening more than 50,000 in mainland China. The state-run China News Service says 27 people have been arrested so far in connection with the scandal.

Since melamine-tainted infant formula was uncovered in China, the banned chemical as been found in an array of food products forcing a wave of recalls, mostly in Asia.

Experts say some amount of melamine, which is used to make plastics and fertilisers, may be transferred from the environment during food processing.

But in China's case, suppliers trying to boost output are believed to have diluted their milk, adding melamine because its nitrogen content can fool tests aimed at verifying protein content.

On Tuesday, China's President Hu Jintao made his strongest public comments yet regarding the scandal.

'We need to ensure that all products on the market are up to standard, so that consumers don't have to worry,' Mr Hu said during a tour of dairy farms broadcast on China Central Television's evening news.

The Dutch food safety watchdog announced on Tuesday it had found slightly elevated levels of the industrial chemical melamine in cookies imported from China and sold under the 'Koala' brand.

The cookies have been pulled from shelves in the Netherlands and the chance they have made anybody sick is 'extremely small', the agency said.

Also Tuesday, Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever said it was recalling its Lipton-brand 3-in-1 milk tea powder in Hong Kong and Macau after it was found to contain melamine.

Last week, Unilever recalled Lipton Green Milk Tea from the Taiwan market because the product used Chinese-made milk.

Hong Kong authorities also said they had found unacceptably high levels of melamine in Pocky Men's coffee cream coated biscuit stick, produced by Japan's Ezaki Glico. The company had no immediate comment on the reported contamination.

Two samples of coconut and walnut cakes manufactured by Tian Le Yuan Foods in southern China were also found to contain unacceptably high levels of melamine, authorities said.

The South Korea Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday melamine had been found in Nabisco Ritz cracker cheese sandwiches and in rice crackers made by Danyang Day Bright.

Melamine has now been found in six products imported to South Korea and the country has banned imports of all Chinese-made food products containing powdered milk. -- AP

Keep an eye out for those spasms

Keep an eye out for those spasms
Wed, Oct 01, 2008
The Sunday Times

By Gerard Yeo

I have been experiencing twitching under my left eye several times a day for a few months. This sensation usually lasts for about two minutes each time. Is this a sign of some internal disorder?

You may be experiencing a condition known as eyelid spasm. This includes twitching of the eyelids, essential blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm.

While the cause of twitching eyelids is unknown, essential blepharospasm is a condition usually involving both eyes where the eyelids close involuntarily. It is caused by abnormal nerve impulses producing muscle spasms and is not a psychiatric disease.

On the other hand, hemifacial spasm is a condition which involves the eyelid muscles and the muscles around the mouth. This happens on only one side of the face and is usually caused by an artery pressing on the nerve to the facial muscles.

These conditions are due to a weak immune system, a deficiency in the functions of the liver and spleen, as well as a stagnation of blood. Pathogenic factors such as wind, cold, heat and phlegm also play a part.

Chinese medicine, acupuncture, moxibustion or cupping therapy, and tui na massage can improve your condition by strengthening your immune system, enhancing blood circulation and the functions of your organs, as well as removing the pathogenic factors.

Chinese herbs such as qianghuo (incised notoptergium rhizome), fangfeng (divaricate saposhnikvia root) and xixin (Manchurian wildginger) are usually prescribed to treat eyelid spasm.

Avoid cold environments and emotional stress. Do not take alcohol, caffeinated drinks, spicy, sour, cold and deep-fried food as these create heat and dampness.

Massage the area around your eyes in a circular motion for 10 minutes as this helps to enhance blood circulation and dispel the pathogenic factors. Seek medical attention if the condition persists for more than a week.

Information provided by Ms Lim Lay Beng, a TCM physician at YS Healthcare TCM Clinic in The Adelphi.

Remember, you should not self-medicate. Always consult a practitioner. Send your questions to stlife@sph.com.sg

This story was first published in thesundaytimes on Sept 28, 2008.

Melamine found in 2 more China products

Melamine found in 2 more China products
Oct 01, 2008

AVA has detected melamine in 2 more products imported from China.

This brings the total number of affected products found locally to 10.

If you have any New Sshma Ows Mallow Dippers or Silang - House of Steamed Potato Tomato Crackers, it may be time to stop eating them, as they are the 2 latest products to be added to the list of melamine-tainted products.

Strawberry flavoured New Sshma Ows Mallow Dippers

Silang - House of Steamed Potato potato & tomato crackers

Earlier, Silang - House of Steamed Potato Potato crackers were also found to contain melamine, along with other products including Yili dairy fruit bar yoghurt flavoured ice confection, Dutch Lady banana, strawberry and honeydew milk, White Rabbit candy and Xu Fu Ji puffed rice rolls.

As with the other products, the levels of melamine detected in the affected products are not high enough to result in any adverse health effect, a child would have to take 50 cups - and an adult 101 cups - of New Sshma strawberry flavoured dip everyday over a lifetime to exceed the daily intake he can tolerate.

However, the amount of melamine found in the ten products above is higher than what can be considered as naturally occurring. It is clear that Melamine has been artificially added to adulterate these products.

AVA also clarified that companies should verify with them before making claims that their China-made products are safe.

As long as the milk or milk products are produced in China, such products are suspended from import and sale in Singapore. AVA will not hesitate to take enforcement actions against any company who violates this ban.

Marina - Straight From The Heart

Marina - Straight From The Heart

Hari Raya Message From Kamunting

I just read my husband's article on www. malaysia-today.net No Holds Barred and was extremely upset and it made my heart so heavy reading what Pet wrote: “It costs RM8 to feed a dog according to the Malay Mail survey and only RM4.50 to feed ISA detainees.....

I feed my cats and fish premium food such as science diet and would never dream of feeding my pets the food that we are fed here. I actually stopped eating the food here after the first couple of days because it gave me diarrhea. A couple of nights ago I vomitted after eating the food and now I cannot even stand the sight or smell of the trays that they sent to our cell twice a day. I now survive on dates and plain bread....."

Umno preparing food for 200,000 people for their Open House for the 1st day of Hari Raya and what would the cost be per head?

How can Muslims of high authority use this unIslamic law, the ISA, on people during the month of Ramadan (the holy month for Muslims), put them under such barbaric conditions and rehabilitate them according to their perverted standards. Where is the compassion, where is the humanity and most important of all, where is the love of mankind that Islam enjoins its followers to observe? Can someone please explain all this to me? I am really very confused. All I can see is hypocrisy and man's inhumanity to man, not compassion, consideration and common decency.

Jakim is coming up with an Islamic rehabilitation program for my husband, it is a joke. Did they even understand what Pet wrote in the first place since it is in English? What he wrote was not anti-Islam. The use of the ISA on Pet is all politically motivated. He has taken on powerful people and since the Prime Minister is weak, he is unable to use the powers that are available to bring justice. This is the tragedy of our country. Let us work towards a change in government, one that is committed to abolishing the despicable ISA. We want Rule of Law not Rule by ISA.

I am in Kamunting today, staying the night so that I can be first in line to get into the prison. It pains the grandchildren, children and I to be without Pet on Hari Raya. We miss him and the joy that he brings to us each day.

Thanks for your support and prayers my family have received. We must continue this fight to free Pet and his friends under detention in Kamunting. "Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf, Zahir dan Batin."

Love from Pet and Family

We Know What Dollah Does This Raya

We Know What Dollah Does This Raya
1 Oct, 2008

The Defense Ministry is currently undergoing negotiations with Eurocopter Malaysia Sdn Bhd for its RMAF’s Nuri replacement programme. Defense Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the Ministry had already sent Eurocopter a Letter of Intent (LOI).

Asked why Eurocopter was selected, Abdullah said that the Ministry would have “considered all the necessary specifications in the helicopters” before making a decision, but declined to elaborate.

What Dollah failed to tell all Malaysian was that, Kamaluddin Abdullah, yes the son of Abdullah the PM is the ’secret agent’ for Eurocopter.

Kamaluddin too is trying to win the bid to lease helicopter to PDRM.

Two things happens prior to Hari Raya Aidil Fitri,

1. Dollah swapped portfolios with Najib, which saw Dollah, became the Defense Minister.
2. UMNO AGM is postponed to March 2009.

What Malaysian failed to see is that,

1. Among the first thing done by Dollah was announcing the Eurocopter – Ministry of Defense thingy.
2. Agreed for transition of power to be flexible and maybe earlier but asking for extension of 3 months till March 2009 as The Prime Minister.

Is it true that Dollah’s double action as mention above is due to the fact that,

1. The Eurocopter deal will mean Kamaluddin will get RM250 Million a year for the next 30 years?
2. By postponing the UMNO AGM, Dollah can make sure the deal is sign before he step down.

Hurrah for Malaysia! Selamat Hari Raya and please ask around about this Eurocopter deal during all you Raya visits.


Bursa wants bumiputera shareholding rules relaxed

Bursa wants bumiputera shareholding rules relaxed

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1, 2008 - Bursa Malaysia, the former Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, has asked the government to relax shareholding requirements that mar the market's attractiveness, industry officials say.

The requirements - which stipulate minimum bumiputera shareholdings - are said to be making local companies with overseas assets reluctant to list locally, and driving a growing number of them to go private or list overseas.

Thirty per cent of a listed company's equity must be set aside for bumiputeras, but this is not really being contested.

The main point of contention is that should a company top-up its capital base - say, through a rights issue - regulators can demand that bumiputera equity be restored to 30 per cent if it has been sold down. This has always been a concern because shareholders rightfully complain about earnings dilution.

The bourse wants the rules changed so that once a company is listed and the 30 per cent bumiputera equity requirement is met, it should no longer be subject to any top-up conditions.

Industry officials say Bursa Malaysia also wants all sale moratoriums to be abolished. At present, bumiputeras cannot sell their shares inside a set time. This disadvantages them in bear market conditions, whereas non-bumiputeras face no such limitation.

The officials also say Bursa has suggested that if there is no or insufficient take-up of bumiputera shares, these shares should be offered to the public instead of being placed in escrow, as they are now.

They point out that the current bear market has made it extremely difficult to find investors, as few shares trade above their initial public offer price.

According to them, only two of the past 12 listings have traded above their IPO price.

The 30 per cent condition originated with Malaysia's New Economic Policy, implemented many years ago after race riots.

The policy was originally slated to expire in 1990 but has been extended to 2020. It seeks to bridge economic disparity between bumiputeras and richer non-Malays by discriminating in favour of bumiputeras.

The original aims of the NEP were to eliminate poverty irrespective of race and to restructure society so no race would be identified with a specific economic function.

This was to be achieved through targets - specifically, 30 per cent bumiputera ownership in every sphere of society, from employment and occupation to house ownership and corporate equity.

Securities industry officials say Bursa Malaysia's proposals to ease bumiputera shareholding requirements will be considered by the country's Economic Planning Unit. It isn't clear if any of them will be approved, as similar suggestions have been made many times in the past. But this time the suggestions come from an arm of the government, which will carry more weight.

Also, the proposals are backed by powerful ethnic Malay businessmen including Nazir Razak, chief executive of investment bank CIMB and younger brother of Finance Minister and soon-to-be prime minister Najib Razak.

- Business Times Singapore

Political Turmoil in Malaysia

Political Turmoil in Malaysia

Interviewee: Bridget Welsh, Assistant Professor, Southeast Asian Studies, John Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies
Interviewer: Jayshree Bajoria, Staff Writer, CFR.org

September 30, 2008

Streaming Audio

Download Audio

Bridget WelshMalaysia has been in a political flux since March 2008 when the long-governing multiethnic coalition lost its two-thirds majority in the parliament. The biggest party in the coalition, United Malays National Organization, has ruled Malaysia for fifty-one years, first under the leadership of Mahathir Mohamad, and since 1993, under current Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi. But recently, calls for Abdullah's resignation (BBC) have grown louder and the opposition under Anwar Ibrahim has been claiming power.

Bridget Welsh, assistant professor of Southeast Asian studies at John Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, says Abdullah's failure to implement reforms, to control his party effectively, and to deal with racial relations have led to calls for his resignation. She says Abdullah has alienated most of the minorities in the country, mainly the Indians and the Chinese, who contributed to the ruling coalition's electoral upset in March. These two groups, which make up one-third of Malaysia's 27 million people, resent the government's decades-old policy that gives preferential treatment to ethnic Malays, and the lack of religious freedom in the Muslim-majority country. Now they have moved toward the opposition, says Welsh, allowing it to offer a "multiethnic alternative" to the current coalition.

Under Abdullah's leadership, Malaysia's position in Southeast Asia as well as the Islamic world has declined, says Welsh. She says Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad put the country on the international stage. "Some of that was controversial, some of that was alienating to the West, but it fundamentally gave Malaysians a sense of pride." But now, she says, Malaysian foreign policy is reactive and lacks coherence.

Islam: Try to be nice about each other


Try to be nice about each other

Sep 25th 2008 | CAIRO
From The Economist print edition

A Sunni preacher upsets the Shias

BECAUSE there is no recognised supreme religious authority in Sunni Islam—no one such as the pope among Catholics, for instance—Sunni clerics often suffer the indignity of being challenged, or even ridiculed, by their flocks. Outraged lawyers in Morocco, for example, recently filed a lawsuit against one sheikh after he declared it legal for girls as young as nine to marry. And Muslims the world over poured scorn on Sheikh Muhammad Munjad, a puritanical Palestinian preacher, when he suggested earlier this month, on a Saudi television show, that since mice are abhorrent to God, Mickey Mouse deserved to die.

Yet it comes as a surprise that Yusuf Qaradawi, the star preacher on the popular al-Jazeera satellite channel, who is a widely respected moderate on most issues, should find himself at the heart of a far bigger storm. The 81-year-old cleric, Egyptian by birth but long based in the Gulf state of Qatar, strayed onto tendentious ground by telling an interviewer he considered Shia Islam a heretical branch of the faith, and warning of a Shia attempt to “invade” Sunni societies by stealth and gain converts.

As might be expected, the response from Shias has been furious. Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanon’s most popular ayatollah, demanded that Mr Qaradawi produce figures to back up his claim of a Shia missionary drive and that he explain what danger it would be to Islam if one Sunni decided to adopt Shiism. Shia activists in Saudi Arabia have threatened a lawsuit, charging Mr Qaradawi with fomenting sectarian schism and requesting that he be forcibly retired on grounds of senility. A news agency in Shia-majority Iran posted a story that blasted the sheikh as a front for “international Freemasonry and Jewish rabbis”.

Some leading Sunnis have also been discomfited. Fahmy Huwaidi, a widely syndicated columnist who champions Islamist causes, said that while he could not dispute Mr Qaradawi’s authority in jurisprudence, his timing was politically disastrous, since maintaining Muslim unity was paramount at this stage. “He should be the first to know that there are forces at present who seek to ready public opinion for a military strike against Iran, and for stripping Hizbullah of its arms,” Mr Huwaidi chided.

Mr Qaradawi has responded to his critics by stressing his support for Iran’s right to nuclear energy and his long history of backing Muslim unity and Muslim causes around the world. Unlike Sunni extremists who deny that Shias are Muslim at all, he accepts their membership in the faith, he said. But as a Sunni scholar he could not overlook doctrinal differences. Unfortunately for the state of Muslim unity, it appears that most Sunnis tend to agree.

In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

The importance of IslamOnline

All thanks to God, Whose blessings make possible all good deeds. He has guided us to this and without Him we would not be guided. Peace be upon the Prophet, who was sent as a mercy to the universe and a witness on all people, Muhammad, our beloved imam. Peace be upon his companions, those who followed his guidance, and struggled in his jihad to the Day of Judgment.

God has granted us the greatest gift known, and that is the gift of guidance to his religion, the complete and final religion. The Holy Qur'an says: "The day I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion."

One of the characteristics of this great religion is that it is universal. It is not for one nation without the others, one environment without the others, or one generation without the others. It is for the entire universe, for all people, at all times until God inherits the Earth and everything on it. The Qur'an says: "We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures," and "Say: 'Oh men! I am sent unto to you all, as the Messenger of Allah.'"

It is our duty to carry this religion to all people around the world until they understand it, become interested in it, look for it, and enter it in surges as God would like. This is the duty of the Islamic nation. It is a collective obligation for this nation to propagate the message of this religion to the corners of the globe, and it is an individual obligation for the scholars of this religion to propagate Islam in all languages and tongues and be as God said: "We sent not a messenger except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people in order to make (things) clear to them."

I understand from this verse much more than what is apparent. It means that the English must be spoken to in English and the Chinese in Chinese. Easterners must be spoken to in the way Easterners speak to each other. City folk must be spoken to as city folk, and not in the country accent. The people of the 20th century must be spoken to in the language they understand, and not in the language of past centuries. We must use the tools needed to achieve that.

We used print, radio, and television. Today, there is a new medium known as the Internet. All religions have used it to call to their religions and sects. It is the duty of the Muslims to use this tool to call to their great religion, which God has granted them with, and leave others - who have lost their way - to call it.

The Islamic nation must prepare men to carry that out. This is what this major, global project - Islam Online - is doing. It carries the message of Islam to the world. It addresses non-Muslims to help them understand the creed, law, ethics and civilization of Islam. It addresses Muslims as well, to help them understand correct Islam, explain the realities of this religion, answer the questions, and correct the misconceptions they picked up through the faulty inherited culture or through the invading imported culture.

The duty of this network, or project, is to correct Muslims and call non-Muslims. The Qur'an says: "Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, works righteousness, and says, 'I am of those who bow in Islam?'" The unique feature of this project is that major scholars are responsible for it. They can be used for a reference for both Muslims and non-Muslims. This project is an obligation on the nation, imposed by the teachings of the religion and the calling. It is a need imposed by reality, our modern times and it is what non-Muslims are doing to call their religions.

The Muslims must be at the forefront of those calling to their religion; that is the obligation of this nation at this time, when relationships have intertwined, people are closer together and the world has become a giant village, or even a small village.

Our duty as Muslims is to call our religion and to teach it to people correctly from its pure sources. We should teach it as a creed, a way of worship, a set of behaviors and ethics, as a law and as an ideal civilization that connects the earth to the heavens, finds a place between the heart and mind, balances between rights and obligations and between individual rights and communal interests.

This is the great message that this project that this project strives for, and now we present it to you. May every Muslim contribute with what he can, because it is not the project of a state, or a group of people, but the project of the Islamic nation. The Qur'an says: "You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind. Enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah," and "Thus have We made you a nation justly balanced. That ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves."

I ask God almighty to light our paths and guide our steps. May He help us carry out this dangerous mission: to call, educate and adjudicate so that our call to this religion may be the best it can, and for us to possess a certain knowledge in all we present. The Qur'an says: "Say thou: 'This is my way; I do invite unto Allah - with a certain knowledge - I and whoever follows me. Glory to Allah! And never will I join gods with Allah.'"

Peace be upon the Prophet Muhammad, his family and companions.


30 Sept, 2008

Author unknown

Why MCA, after 51 years of independence your own race,
is treated like second class citizen?

Why MCA, after more than 50 years of supporting the alliance/bn,
your own race appears to have to beg to get a scholaship?

Why MCA, after more than half a century being part of the ruling government,
many of your own race do not see they have a future in Malaysia?

Why MCA, despite being a partner in the bn, when a man said,
'bath the keris in Chinese blood' MCA still want to support that man?

Why MCA, after so many years of being treated like irrelevant,
MCA still cannot make the move to prove to your own race that MCA is 'alive and kicking' and still relevant?

Why MCA, despite your ancestors having been in this country hundreds of years earlier than others,
your own race are called 'Squatters'?

Why MCA, despite knowing that the NEP is obsolete and had benefited only a few,
MCA does not have the bravery to stand up and say, 'If the NEP is not dismantled, MCA will quit'?

Why MCA, you cannot work with people of your own race for the benefit of every race in the country,
but chose to work with a party which is using race to create fear among your own race?

Why MCA, even after 51 years of independence you can be so blind,
to the extent of not being able to see where your own race is heading to?

Why MCA, you are still so obsess to keep the status quo within the government,
despite having very few of your own race in the army, police, petronas, GLC, TNB, govt dept, etc etc etc?

Why MCA, for how much longer are you going to hang around a government which dares to do whatever it wants,
whenever it wants and whichever way it wants with or without you around?

Why MCA, are you going to wait until your own race becomes 5% of the total population,
before you can get your act together?

Why MCA, when the writing is so clear on the wall,
you are still not able to sing the song 'Why_MCA'


30 Sept, 2008


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I was perturbed when I read YB Teresa Kok’s statement that the food under ISA detention is equivalent or slightly better than dog food. It costs RM8 to feed a dog, according to the Malay Mail survey and only RM4.50 to feed on ISA detainees.

I feed my cats and fish premium food such as science diet and would never dream of feeding my pets the food that we are fed here. I actually stopped eating the food here after the first couple of days because it gave me diarrhea.

A couple of nights ago I vomited after eating the food and now I cannot even stand the sight or smell of the trays that they send to our cell twice a day.

I now survive on dates and plain water and I suppose if that is good enough for camels to survive in the Arabian Desert, it should be good enough for me.

I was told camels have a healthy sex drive and I would like to believe it because of the date that is my staple food. Of cause, there is no way I can test this theory until I come safely out of this place.

Actually, food is the least of my worries at this point of time. I am presently in three months solitary confinement and the only pussy I get to see is this mangy cat that somehow has found its way into my cellblock to sleep outside my locked door.

It has not rained since I arrived here a week ago and I was told Kamunting has not seen any rain for the last few weeks.

The heat in the cell is unbearable and the air is very stuffy.

The uncomfortable environment does help to put your mind off your growling stomach.

I am what they call under orientation. This three months' orientation I suppose is to get me used to the 2 years I am going to spend here.

One of my favorite classics that I used to read in Standard 1 is the Tale of Two Cities, which is about the French Revolution. I can now better appreciate the battle cry “give me liberty or give me death”. They say you appreciate something only after it has been taken away from you. Today, my liberty is at the top of my priority list. But I know it shall not come soon and it shall not come easy and it shall only come if there is a change of government and if the new government fulfills its promise to abolish the ISA.

Zaid calls for repeal of ISA in open letter to PM

Zaid calls for repeal of ISA in open letter to PM

KUALA LUMPUR, SEPT 30, 2008 - Datuk Seri Zaid Ibrahim, who quit as de facto Law Minister because he wasn't getting any support for his proposed reforms, has written an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for the abolition of the ISA.

Zaid says in the letter that the government has failed the people in repeatedly reneging on Tunku Abduk Rahman's promise that "the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent".

Here is his letter in full:

IN our proclamation of independence, our first prime minister gave voice to the lofty aspirations and dreams of the people of Malaya: that Malaya was founded on the principles of liberty and justice, and the promise that collectively we would always strive to improve the welfare and happiness of its people.

Many years have passed since that momentous occasion and those aspirations and dreams remain true and are as relevant to us today as they were then. This was made possible by a strong grasp of fundamentals in the early period of this nation.

The federal constitution and the laws made pursuant to it were well founded; they embodied the key elements of a democracy built on the rule of law. The Malaysian judiciary once commanded great respect from Malaysians and was hailed as a beacon for other nations.

Our earlier prime ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were truly leaders of integrity, patriots in their own right and most importantly, men of humility. They believed in and built this nation on the principles and values enunciated in our constitution.

Even when they had to enact the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, they were very cautious and apologetic about it. Tunku stated clearly that the Act was passed to deal with the communist threat.

"My cabinet colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the government under the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silence lawful dissent," was what the Tunku said.

Our third prime minister, Tun Hussein Onn, reinforced this position by saying that the ISA was not intended to repress lawful political opposition and democratic activity on the part of the citizenry.

The events of the last three weeks have compelled me to review the way in which the ISA has been used. This exercise has sadly led me to the conclusion that the government has time and time again failed the people of this country in repeatedly reneging on that solemn promise made by Tunku Abdul Rahman.

This has been made possible because the government and the law have mistakenly allowed the minister of home affairs to detain anyone for whatever reason he thinks fit. This subjective discretion has been abused to further certain political interests.

History is the great teacher and speaks volumes in this regard. Even a cursory examination of the manner in which the ISA has been used almost from its inception would reveal the extent to which its intended purpose has been subjugated to the politics of the day.

Regrettably, Tunku Abdul Rahman himself reneged on his promise. In 1965, his administration detained Burhanuddin Helmi, the truly towering Malay intellectual, a nationalist who happened to be a PAS leader. He was kept in detention until his death in 1969. Helmi was a political opponent and could by no stretch of the imagination be considered to have been involved in the armed rebellion or communism that the ISA was designed to deal with.

This detention was an aberration, a regrettable moment where politics had been permitted to trump the rule of law. It unfortunately appears to have set a precedent and many detentions of persons viewed as having been threatening to the incumbent administration followed through the years.

Even our literary giant, ‘sasterawan negara’ the late Tan Sri A Samad Ismail was subjected to the ISA in 1976. How could he have been a threat to national security?

I need not remind you of the terrible impact of the 1987 Operasi Lalang. Its spectre haunts the government as much as it does the peace-loving people of this nation, casting a gloom over all of us. There were and still are many unanswered questions about those dark hours when more than a hundred persons were detained for purportedly being threats to national security. Why they were detained has never been made clear to Malaysians.

Similarly, no explanation has been forthcoming as to why they were never charged in court. Those detainees included amongst their numbers senior opposition members of parliament who are still active in Parliament today.

The only thing that is certain about that period was that Umno was facing a leadership crisis. Isn’t it coincidental that the recent spate of ISA arrests has occurred when Umno is again having a leadership crisis?

In 2001, Keadilan ‘reformasi’ activists were detained in an exercise that the Federal Court declared was in bad faith and unlawful. The continued detention of those that were not released earlier in the Kamunting detention facility was made possible only by the fact that the ISA had been questionably amended in 1988 to preclude judicial review of the minister’s order to detain.

Malaysians were told that these detainees had been attempting to overthrow the government via militant means and violent demonstrations. Seven years have gone and yet no evidence in support of this assertion has been presented. Compounding the confusion even further, one of these so-called militants, Ezam Mohamad Noor, recently rejoined Umno to great fanfare, as a prized catch it would seem.

At around the same time, members of PAS were also detained for purportedly being militant and allegedly having links to international terrorist networks. Those detained included Nik Adli, the son of Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the menteri besar of Kelantan. Malaysians were made a promise by the government that evidence of the alleged terrorist activities and links of these detainees would be disclosed. To date no such evidence has been produced.

The same formula was used in late 2007 when the Hindraf 5 were detained. Malaysians were told once again that these individuals were involved in efforts to overthrow the government and had links with the militant Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka. To date no concrete evidence have been presented to support this assertion.

It would seem therefore that the five were detained for their involvement in efforts that led to a mobilisation of Indian Malaysians to express, through peaceful means; their frustration against the way in which their community had been allowed to be marginalised. This cause has since been recognised as a legitimate one. The Hindraf demonstration is nothing extraordinary as such assemblies are universally recognised as being a legitimate means of expression.

In the same vein, the grounds advanced in support of the most recent detentions of Tan Hoon Cheng, Teresa Kok and Raja Petra Kamarudin leave much to be desired. The explanation that Tan Hoon Cheng was detained for her own safety was farcical. The suggestion that Teresa Kok had been inciting religious sentiments was unfounded as was evinced by her subsequent release.

As for Raja Petra Kamarudin, the prominent critic of the government, a perusal of his writings would show that he might have been insulting of the government and certain individuals within it.

However, being critical and insulting could not in any way amount to a threat to national security. If his writings are viewed as being insulting of Islam, Muslims or the Holy Prophet, he should instead be charged under the Penal Code and not under the ISA.

In any event, he had already been charged for sedition and criminal defamation in respect of some of his statements. He had claimed trial, indicating as such his readiness and ability to defend himself. Justice would best be served by allowing him his day in court more so where, in the minds of the public, the government is in a position of conflict for having been the target of his strident criticism.

The instances cited above strongly suggest that the government is undemocratic. It is this perspective that has over the last 25 plus years led to the government seemingly arbitrarily detaining political opponents, civil society and consumer advocates, writers, businessmen, students, journalists whose crime, if it could be called that, was to have been critical of the government.

How it is these individuals can be perceived as being threats to national security is beyond my comprehension. The self-evident reality is that legitimate dissent was and is quashed through the heavy-handed use of the ISA.

There are those who support and advocate this carte-blanche reading of the ISA. They will seek to persuade you that the interests of the country demand that such power be retained, that Malaysians owe their peace and stability to laws such as the ISA. This overlooks the simple truth that Malaysians of all races cherish peace. We lived together harmoniously for the last 400 years, not because of these laws but in spite of them.

I believe the people of this country are mature and intelligent enough to distinguish actions that constitute a ‘real’ threat to the country from those that threaten political interests. Malaysians have come know that the ISA is used against political opponents and, it would seem, when the leadership is under challenge either from within the ruling party or from external elements.

Malaysians today want to see a government that is committed to the court process to determine guilt or innocence even for alleged acts of incitement of racial or religious sentiment. They are less willing to believe, as they once did, that a single individual, namely the minister of home affairs; knows best about matters of national security.

They value freedom and the protection of civil liberties and this is true of people of other nations too.

Mr Prime Minister, the results of the last general election are clear indication that the people of Malaysia are demanding a reinstatement of the rule of law. I was appointed as your, albeit short-lived, minister in charge of legal affairs and judicial reform.

In that capacity, I came to understand more keenly how many of us want reform, not for the sake of it, but for the extent to which our institutions have been undermined by events and the impact this has had on society.

With your blessing, I attempted to push for reform. High on my list of priorities was a reinstatement of the inherent right of judicial review that could be enabled through a reversion of the key constitutional provision to its form prior to the controversial amendment in 1988.

I need not remind you that that constitutional amendment was prompted by the same series of events that led not only to Operasi Lalang but the sacking of the then Lord President and two supreme court justices.

Chief amongst my concerns was the way in which the jurisdiction and the power of the courts to grant remedy against unconstitutional and arbitrary action of the executive had been removed by Parliament and the extent to which this had permitted an erosion of the civil liberties of Malaysians.

It was this constitutional amendment that paved the way for the ouster provision in the ISA that virtually immunises the minister from judicial review, a provision which exemplifies the injustice the constitutional amendment of 1988 has lent itself.

I also sought to introduce means by which steps could be taken to assist the judiciary to regain the reputation for independence and competence it once had. Unfortunately, this was viewed as undesirable by some since an independent judiciary would mean that the executive would be less ‘influential’.

I attempted to do these things and more because of the realisation that Malaysia’s democratic traditions and the rule of law are under siege. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with giving everyone an independent judiciary and the opportunity to a fair trial.

This is consistent with the universal norms of human rights as it is with the tenets of Islam, the religion of the federation. Unchecked power to detain at the whim of one man is oppressiveness at its highest. Even in Israel, a nation that is perpetually at war the power to detain is not vested in one man and detention orders require endorsement from a judge.

If there are national security considerations, then these can be approached without jettisoning the safeguards intended to protect individual citizens from being penalised wrongfully. In other jurisdictions involved in armed conflicts, trials are held in camera to allow for judicial scrutiny of evidence considered too sensitive for public disclosure so as to satisfy the ends of justice.

If this can be done in these jurisdictions, why not here where the last armed struggle we saw, the very one that precipitated the need for the ISA, came to an end in the 1980s?

Any doubts as to the continued relevance of the ISA in its present form should have been put to rest by the recommendation by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) that the ISA be repealed and an anti-terror legislation suited to the times enacted in its place. Containing as it did a sunset clause in its original times, the ISA was never intended to be a permanent feature on the Malaysian legal landscape.

Through its continued use in the manner described above and in the face of public sentiment, it is only natural that the ISA has become in the mind of the people an instrument of oppression and the government is one that lends itself to oppressiveness.

Its continued use does not bode well for a society that is struggling to find its place in the global arena. It does not bode well for the democracy that is so vital for us to develop sustainably.

Mr Prime Minister, I remember very clearly what you once said; that if one has the opportunity to do what is good and right for the country, then he must take on the task. I respect you deeply for that and if I were confident that I would have been able to do some good for Malaysia, I would have remained on your team.

Sir, you are still the prime minister and you still have the opportunity to leave your footprint in Malaysian history. I urge you to do so by repealing the ISA once and for all.

Let us attempt to fulfil that solemn promise made by our beloved first prime minister to the people of this country.

Yours sincerely,

Zaid Ibrahim

- The Malaysian Insider

Syed Hamid's act a stroke of genius

Syed Hamid's act a stroke of genius
30 Sept, 2008

Why do people think what Syed Hamid did to RPK is dumb? In one stroke of his pen, he managed to inflict tremendous hurt to Anwar.

With RPK imprisoned for such a long time, many have lost hope or are losing hope of there ever being a change in the government. They may still want Pakatan in power, but when asked if they still support Anwar, many are now hesitating. They blame Anwar for procrastinating. They blame Anwar for each day that RPK remains locked away.

DO NOT ALLOW SYED BOTAK TO MANIPULATE YOU! Yes, deadlines have been broken time and time again but Malaysians still need to believe that change can happen. Even if you do not want to believe in Anwar's or Pakatan's promises any longer, we can still make this change happen.

We people have a say as well. Why do we need to keep depending on someone to lead us? Such leaders can always be locked away. But if ALL of us start doing our little bit to help, there are just not going to be enough space in our prisons to hold all of us.

Everyone of us are able to contribute to change, even if it may be considered extremely miniscule to others. But all these little acts of showing solidarity will add up. It does not matter what others choose to do. Why put them down for not doing enough? We are all together in this. Some do not mind a bigger role but others still need to conquer their fears. It is ok. We all want the same things.

Let us show Syed Hamid that he did not sign away our spirit.

By Freedom for All

Monday, September 29, 2008

Should Malaysia's Khazanah buy stakes in US banks?

Tuesday September 30, 2008

Should Malaysia's Khazanah buy stakes in US banks?

News analysis by Danny Yap

Analysts say it’s not a good idea

PETALING JAYA: It is said that in every crisis there are opportunities. The current volatility in the global financial markets stemming from the troubles afflicting the US financial sector may just reveal such opportunities, especially to non-US financial services groups and sovereign wealth funds, as events in recent weeks have shown.

The sale of parts of US investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings as well as real estate assets to Britain’s Barclays PLC and Japan’s Nomura Holdings Inc is but a recent example.

Last November, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), acquired a stake in Citigroup Inc for US$7.5bil.

Besides ADIA, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) also acquired stakes worth US$500mil and US$3bil respectively in Citigroup.

KIA and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings also acquired stakes late last year in Merrill Lynch & Co Inc, which in turn was recently acquired by Bank of America for US$50bil.

Lehman Brothers investment bank headquarters in on Sixth Avenue in New York. - AP

Are there local institutional investors with balance sheets solid enough that are looking to acquire stakes in US banks? Off hand, what comes to mind is the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, which has assets in excess of US$20bil.

Currently, Khazanah has a direct 51% stake in Indonesia’s PT Bank Lippo and an indirect stake in PT Bank Niaga via its 20.18% stake in the CIMB group. But, will it even consider acquiring stakes in US banks given the uncertainties ahead not only in the global economy but also in the US financial markets, which are bogged down by a housing slump that has not ended?

It may not even be a good idea since Khazanah is still preoccupied with the merger of its Indonesian banks to comply with banking regulations.

A Singapore-based analyst with a European bank said while stock valuations of US banks were attractive versus the risks, the volatility of global financial markets, coupled with more bad news in the pipeline, might make acquiring them or stakes in them not very worthwhile.

Before local institutional investors look to acquiring stakes in US banks, it will be a good idea to take heed of the home ground as the US financial turmoil has impacted East Asia via tighter funding conditions for the region’s financial hubs.

Citigroup analyst Moh Siong Sim said in a recent report that liquidity strains had broadened out beyond South Korea to the region’s financial hubs judging from the rise in money market rates in Hong Kong and Singapore.

“Both financial hubs are probably hit by similar heightened concerns over counter-party risks sparked by the failure of Lehman,” he said, adding that Citigroup analysts had negative outlook for banks in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Besides East Asia, banks in the European Union have also been hit. Yesterday, Britain’s Bradford & Bingley PLC was nationalised, Germany’s Hypo Real Estate Holding AG was given a 35 billion euro loan guarantee to fend off bankcruptcy and Fortis was thrown a 11.2 billion euro lifeline by the governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

RM6.9mil ransom paid for release of second ship

Tuesday September 30, 2008

RM6.9mil ransom paid for release of second ship


(The Star) PETALING JAYA: The MT Bunga Melati Dua, the second Malaysian tanker hijacked by Somalian pirates, has been freed.

Sources said US$2mil (RM6.9mil) in ransom was paid for each of the tankers.

The vessel and its crew are now on the way to the East African country of Djibouti, the sources said.

The release comes two days after the MT Bunga Melati Lima was freed by the pirates on Saturday night. MT Bunga Melati Dua, with a crew of 29 Malaysian and 10 Filipinos, was hijacked on Aug 19 in the Gulf of Aden.

One of the Filipino crew members was killed when he was hit by a stray bullet.

Ten days later, the MT Bunga Melati Lima, with 36 Malaysian and five Filipino crew members, was also hijacked while sailing from Yanbu in Saudi Arabia to Singapore.

The sources said the MT Bunga Melati Dua was released at 4.14am yesterday and that all its crew was safe.

They added that the ship, together with the MT Bunga Melati Lima, was being escorted by Malaysian Navy ships KD Lekiu and KD Sri Inderapura to Djibouti.

“The crew change over for both ships is expected to take place in Djibouti on Friday,” the sources added.

It is not known if the crew, who have been held captive on board both vessels for more than a month, would return to Malaysia.

A relative of one of the crew of MT Bunga Melati Lima said MISC had contacted her and said some of the crew were in Yemen.

Norazlina Mat Salleh, the sister of Mohamed Nazeri, said her brother had also undergone medical checks in Yemen.

She was not told when they would return.

East African Seafarers Assistance Programme head Andrew Mwangura, said the ransom for the MT Bunga Melati Dua had been paid on Sunday.

“I want to thank the Malaysian government for talking things out (with the pirates) and not using force,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Mwangura, who is based in Mombasa, Kenya, said he was kept informed of what was happening in the region by local fishermen and officials.

MISC has refused to comment on the issue, apparently for fear that any comment could jeopardise the safety of the ships.

Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican is expected to hold a press conference today on the matter.

Salts in the body

Salts in the body
Tue, Sep 30, 2008
The Star

By Dr Y.L.M

Q. MY husband has high blood pressure. He is on an antihypertensive drug. For the past six months he has been feeling fatigued and he has had headaches. When the doctor did a blood test, it was found that some of his electrolytes were low. What are electrolytes and what do they do?

A. Electrolytes are salts like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate and chloride that conduct electricity. They are present in our bodies and are found in our blood, tissues and other fluids.

Sodium (Na+) is the major positive ion in fluid outside our cells (called extracellular fluid). You get sodium from the foods that you eat, especially salty foods like French fries. Sodium is very important for determining the amount of water in your body as it regulates the movement of water in and out of your cells. Many body functions, especially in your brain, nerves and muscles, require electrical signals transmitted by sodium for communication.

Potassium (K+) is the main positive ion in the fluid inside our cells (called intracellular fluid). Potassium is essential for normal cell function, such as your muscle movement and tone as well as the regulation of your heartbeat.

Chloride (Cl-) is the main negative ion in extracellular fluid. The concentration of chloride in your body is almost the same as seawater. Chloride, together with sodium, maintains the normal fluid balance in your body.

Bicarbonate (HCO3-) is necessary to maintain the normal pH level (or acidity) of your body fluids. Carbon dioxide dissolves into the blood stream to be carried as bicarbonate.

Your kidneys regulate fluid and electrolyte absorption and excretion. Excess electrolytes are excreted through your urine or faeces.

Q. Then what causes there to be more or less electrolytes in our body? Will eating too much of a certain kind of food cause this?

It depends on the type of electrolyte imbalance you have. Too much sodium in your blood is called hypernatremia. Its causes are excessive fluid loss from your body (dehydration), such as from diarrhoea, vomiting, taking too many diuretic medications, diabetes insipidus, heavy exercise or exertion, too much sweating and severe burns.

It can also be caused by too much salt in your diet. It causes fatigue, weakness, irritability, muscle twitching and headache. If not treated, it can lead to fits, delirium, coma and death.

Too little sodium in your blood is called hyponatremia. It is caused by too much water being retained and kidney failure. If you are dehydrated and you drink too much water too quickly, it can lead to hyponatremia.

People who also lose too much salt when they have diarrhoea or vomiting or if they are taking thiazide diuretics can also have this condition.

It is interesting to note that hyponatremia shares a lot of the same causes as hypernatremia - it all depends on which you are losing in proportion to the other: water or salt. Other causes include liver cirrhosis, heart disease, hypothyroidism and nephrotic syndrome.

The symptoms are, as with hypernatremia, fatigue, weakness and headache progressing to fits, coma and death.

Q. What about potassium? My husband's doctor asked him to take more bananas to restore his depleted potassium.

A depletion of potassium in your blood is called hypokalemia. Its most common cause is potassium depletion through usage of diuretics which makes you urinate more. Once again, the usual channels of diarrhoea, excessive vomiting and sweating can also deplete your potassium levels.

If you don't take enough foods containing potassium, such as bananas and certain fruits, you also might not have enough to replenish your potassium should you be on certain medications.

The symptoms of hypokalemia can include abnormal rhythms of the heart (arrhythmia), muscle pain, irritability, and weakness which can progress to paralysis.

Too much potassium in your blood is called hyperkalemia. It can be caused by burns, having chemotherapy if you have cancer (causing too much tumour cells to break up and release potassium), too much red blood cell destruction through any means, too much skeletal muscle destruction, and rarely, strenuous exercise.

A very common cause is also kidney failure. Medications which impair potassium excretion (such as potassium-sparing diuretics) can also lead to hyperkalemia.

Hyperkalemia's most serious consequences have all got to do with the heart. It can cause irregular conduction patterns in your heart, which can lead to ventricular fibrillation (where your heart chambers are beating abnormally and ineffectively), which can lead to a cardiac arrest and death.

In addition, it can also cause tingling in your hands and feet, weakness and numbness.

How do you treat electrolyte imbalance? Is it by taking salt water and bananas for low sodium and potassium respectively?

Hyponatremia must be corrected slowly because a sudden change can cause your brain cells to shrink. Treatment is usually through fluid restriction, IV 3% saline infusion and salt tablets. Your doctor might also ask you to increase salt in your diet.

Hypernatremia is treated by slowly replenishing water loss through drinking or infusion.

Hypokalemia can be treated slowly via potassium supplements (Slow K). You are also encouraged to eat foods rich in potassium like bananas, oranges and spinach. Hyperkalemia is treated via diuretics to flush out the excess potassium and insulin to force the excess potassium into cells.

Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health advice, computers and entertainment.

The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author nor AsiaOne gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information.

The Star, the author and AsiaOne disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

This story was first published in The Star on Sept 28, 2008.

Kit Siang: PM must be brave to reform before quitting

Kit Siang: PM must be brave to reform before quitting

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should end his “lackustre premiership in a blaze of glory: by enacting reforms in at least 10 areas, veteran opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said last night.

The DAP supremo said Abdullah should consider the sixth option, apart from the five he had outlined which included not contesting in Umno polls; remain a lame-duck Prime Minister; resign immediately; advise the King to dissolve the Parliament; or cooperate with Pakatan Rakyat to form a new federal government.

“Accept the Umno Supreme Council ultimatum that his premiership ends by March next year but ending his hitherto lacklustre premiership in a blaze of glory in the final six months by leaving a lasting legacy for future Malaysians by being a courageous reformist Prime Minister,” Kit Siang told the crowd at a ceramah in Serdang.

The text of his speech was sent out today.

Kit Siang said Abdullah can begin his six-month programme of reform in the next Cabinet meeting by choosing to act in at least 10 areas, which are:-

1. Police – Establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) by the end of the year, based on the Bill proposed by the Royal Police Commission, in order to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class service to restore to Malaysians their fundamental freedom to be free from crime and the fear of crime.

2. No more foot-dragging with judicial reforms by ensuring that a Judicial Appointments Commission is established by the end of the year and that the country is not plunged into another era of judicial darkness and scandal with the appointment of the first Umno Chief Justice in the 51-year history of Malaysia.

3. A total revamp of the Anti-Corruption Agency, which has proved to be an utter failure with Malaysia's Transparency International Corruption Perception Index plunging from No. 37 in 2003 to No. 47 in 2008, when we should have improved to at least No. 30 according to the National Integrity Plan – with the formation of a completely independent anti-corruption commission by the end of the year.

4. Far-reaching parliamentary reforms including the introduction of a full-fledged Parliamentary Select Committee system whereby every Ministry is shadowed by a Parliamentary Select Committee.

5. Repeal of draconian Printing Presses and Publications Act to ensure press freedom and an independent media.

6. Immediate release of Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the Hindraf Five and all other Internal Security Act detainees and the repeal of the ISA.

7. Declaration of Malaysia Day on September 16 every year as a national public holiday.

8. 20% oil royalty to Sabah and Sarawak to be devoted solely for the development of the people in the two states and not for the enrichment of a handful of political parasites.

9. Meritocracy as a national policy to reverse brain drain and to retain the best and brightest to transform Malaysia into a competitive global player in the international economic scene.

10. Full acceptance of “Bangsa Malaysia” as primary nation-building objective and not ketuanan Melayu or any other communal, retrogressive or obsolete concept.

Malaysia wracked by slow, uncertain leadership change

Malaysia wracked by slow, uncertain leadership change
30 Sept, 2008


Malaysia, once one of the most politically stable and financially sound countries of Southeast Asia, is being wracked by the uncertainty of a seemingly interminable transfer of power.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, a courteous but ineffectual leader, has been on the skids since the ruling coalition led by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), narrowly retained power in March elections.

Significant factions within UMNO want Abdullah to resign soon and hand over the party leadership and government to his deputy, Najib Razak.

These calls for Abdullah's head are driven by the apparent resurgence of Anwar Ibrahim, the previously disgraced UMNO deputy leader and now head of the opposition People's Alliance coalition.

Anwar claims there have been so many defections from the ruling alliance since March that he now controls a majority of seats in parliament and should be prime minister.

But despite the economic decline that sees inflation at 27 per cent and capital flight accompanying this political uncertainty, no one will wield the knife on Abdullah. It's a measure of the supreme importance of good manners and respect for power in Malaysian society.

"We want to ensure that the power transition process does not affect Abdullah's honour. It must be done in a dignified manner," said Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday.

Muhyiddin was speaking after UMNO's executive committee decided to postpone until March party leadership elections which had been scheduled for December.

After the meeting Abdullah said he will decide by October 9 whether he will be a candidate for the leadership.

Abdullah has already offered some compromises to his critics. Recently he offered to hand over the UMNO leadership to Najib in 2010 rather than 2013 when Abdullah's term runs out.

But party dissidents and especially Najib's supporters wanted Abdullah gone before 2010. In advance of Friday's executive meeting it was widely rumoured Abdullah would be tendering his resignation to the committee.

That didn't happen. Courtesy and good manners won out and extending the deadline for a leadership review until March offers Abdullah an honourable exit. He is expected to take it.

But this does nothing to secure the future of UMNO, which has been the ruling party for all 51 years since independence from Britain and which, under the firm hand of former prime minister Mahathir Mohammed, became a model of developing country success.

While Najib is clear favourite at the moment to take over UMNO and the prime minister's post, there are grave doubts about his suitability for the jobs.

Najib has an impeccable political heritage, in some ways too impeccable and too elitist at a time when very many Malaysians are looking for reforms that will remove the deadening rule of patronage and the bonds of racially structured politics between the majority ethnic Malays and the minority ethnic Chinese and South Asians.

There is also the major problem of the murdered Mongolian model, Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Altantuya was the mistress of Abdul Razak Baginda, an analyst and policy adviser to Najib as defence minister. There are also reports that she played a role when Baginda was negotiating Malaysia's purchase of submarines from France.

But Baginda apparently tired of Altantuya's charms and returned to the bosom of his family.

Altantuya, however, proved to be a fatal attraction and in October 2006 started loudly demonstrating outside Baginda's house. She promptly disappeared and police later found fragments of her body in the jungle.

Investigations led to the arrest and trial of Baginda and two police officers assigned as bodyguards to the office of deputy prime minister Razak.

The trial continues.

This ought to be the perfect set-up for opposition leader Anwar to complete his political restoration and engineer the first change of government in Malaysia's history.

But Anwar seems to be running out of steam. A couple of months ago he announced he would have the support of a majority of members of parliament by September 16. Then he wanted an emergency sitting of parliament and a confidence vote on September 23.

Now Anwar is talking about a confidence vote when parliament resumes on October 13 after Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.

The smell test says Anwar doesn't yet have the numbers and Malaysia is still some way from restored political and economic stability.

Karpal: Use election to form government

Karpal: Use election to form government
30 Sept, 2008

(NST) GEORGE TOWN: Another DAP bigwig has warned that Pakatan Rakyat runs the risk of losing the support of the people in the next general election if it forms the federal government with crossovers. DAP national chairman Karpal Singh said the opposition coalition should seek the people's vote to form the government instead of relying on traitors and turncoats.

"PR should not depend on disloyal members of parliament.

"The people will not accept such betrayal," he said in a statement yesterday.

Last week, DAP vice-chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim said that it was unethical to don the mantle of government other than through the ballot box.

In disagreeing with the idea of forming a government by asking politicians to switch sides, he was quoted as saying:

"This is really a matter not so much of politics but really to do more with ethics in politics."

Tunku Aziz also warned that when one put ethics on the back burner instead of in the driver's seat, problems would happen.

Karpal said DAP's stand on crossovers had been consistent.

"Such acts (crossovers) are deplorable and unethical, and won't have the stamp of approval of all right thinking people."

He said that after the March 8 elections, he had even suggested that the DAP support the Barisan Nasional to amend the Federal Constitution to outlaw party hopping.

Karpal said it must be clearly understood that the DAP is against crossovers for any reason.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had claimed on numerous occasions that he has a list of more than 30 MPs crossing over to PR.

PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said recently that more and more MPs had shown their willingness to cross over to the opposition coalition.

Singapore opposition stalwart JB Jeyaretnam dies

Tuesday September 30, 2008 MYT 9:43:52 AM

Singapore opposition stalwart JB Jeyaretnam dies

SINGAPORE: Veteran opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretam died of heart failure early on Tuesday morning. He was 82.

The pugnacious former head of the Workers’ Party, who recently formed the Reform Party, died at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said his close friend and chairman of Mr Jeyaretnam’s new political party.

He leaves behind two sons, Kenneth and Philip.

He was the first opposition member to break the ruling People’s action Party’s grip on Parliament 27 years ago.

He was unable to contest the 2006 general election after he was made bankrupt in 2001 for failing to pay S$265,000 in defamation damages to then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.

He was discharged from bankruptcy in May last year.

Jeyaretnam made his final political comeback earlier this year.

He left the Workers’ Party after years at its helm and was succeeded by Mr Low Thia Khiang, who is now MP for Hougang.

When he broke the PAP’s 15-year monopoly of the Parliament in 1981, most of today’s young Singaporeans were not even born yet.

After losing his parliamentary seat in 1986 for making a false declaration of the WP accounts and being jailed for a month and fined S$5,000, he spent most of the last two decades battling outside the legislature.

Of the five General Elections since then, he has contested only once, in 1997.

He finished as top loser through the bruising Cheng San GRC bout, earning 45.2% of the valid votes.

That brought him back into the House as a Non-Constituency MP, a brief tenure that ended in 2001, when he was declared a bankrupt for failing to pay after losing a defamation suit against five Indian People’s Action Party MPs, among others.

When he left his 30-year-long WP vehicle in that same year, after accusing his successor Low of not helping him clear his debts, he was effectively banished to the margins of the opposition scene here. -- The Straits Times / ANN

His last interview with The Star: Armed for a fresh battle

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Marina - Straight From the Heart

Marina - Straight From the Heart
28 Sept, 2008

Happy 58th Birthday, Love

Yesterday, 27th September, 2008 was Pet’s Birthday. My two daughters’ and I were allowed the schedule visit to see Pet at Kamunting, on his 58th birthday.

When we wished him Happy Birthday he had forgotten it was his birthday and told him that we had brought along birthday cards hand drawn by his 2 grandchildren, ages 5 and 6, 1 from Jia Wei age 7, 1 card signed by a few of his friends and also 3 books. We had to handover all the items with the prison authorities and they will only give it to him after inspection. I told him of the numerous emails, sms’, calls, on the blogs and our sons in the UK also sent him Birthday wishes.

This visit was also face to face and so I was holding on to his hands all along. An officer came along to inform us that we were allowed 2 visits for Hari Raya the 1st and 2nd day and it could be in the courtyard. But then it would also depend on the Recording Officer (RO) whether he is considered a hardcore and if he is then the visit would be face to face across the counter. Then Pet asked him “Am I considered a hardcore?” he said he would have to refer to the RO and get back to him. He also told us that our subsequent visit after Raya would be through a screen and we have to talk on the phone.

Pet then said, “In here it like stick and carrot,” if you are good you get a carrot when bad to get the stick. So when you don’t cooperate, you get lesser family visits and if you do they give you more face to face visits.

Well I guess if the RO don’t consider him a hardcore and allow the courtyard visit that would be the only time I would be able to give him big hug and kisses, even though it is considered “kelakuan tak senonoh” (unbecoming behavior) until he is FREE again. When he told me about this “kelakuan tak senonoh” the last trip, I did wonder whether the officers know we are married and that it was alright for married couples to show affection. Pet and me have been together for 40 years and married for 35 years.

He looked in better spirit and I asked him how he was coping and what have they been doing to him. He said that he was reading a lot and finishes a book a day and asked for me to bring him more books but no books on religion.

He is allowed to step out his cell from 7am to 6pm and at this juncture my daughter advised him to do a bit of excise due to his arterial blockage and extreme stress, we don’t want his condition to worsen. But he said that he usually reads and was reading like a book a day cause from 6pm onward the lighting in his cell was very bad and could not read anymore. If he wanted to read after 6pm he had to try and get some light from the passage way and it was very difficult.

He said he is also given the yesterday’s NST newspaper to read. Then he asked us about what he was told by an officer on a report in the NST that there was a signature campaign asking for 150 thousand signatures to free RPK and it was not getting any respond and it was a failure. I told him yes we have all sorts of campaign and the signature campaign is one of them and the response is overwhelming cause to have just started that campaign and the last I looked before coming here was about 28,000. I also told him that we having T-shirt campaigns, going bald campaign and getting supporters to send him birthday and Raya cards to Kamunting Prison he then said no wonder I am getting 10 Raya cards a day.

I told him, “Love, please don’t believe anything they tell you, they trying to break your spirit”. I said, “Trust me, you have tremendous support out there, this time around I am not alone fighting to get you out. We have a huge family out there and they are all praying everyday, burning candles in their homes having candle light vigil all over the country for your release and to abolish the ISA”. I saw tears in his eyes at this time, he was touched. I said, “Love, don’t let them tell you otherwise”.

He then said.

“Please send MT readers’ my Hari Raya greeting and thank them for remembering me and to continue supporting Malaysia Today. Malaysia Today now belongs to them and they will have to keep MT going until I am out to make that change”.

He told us that he is still in solidarity confinement all alone in that block unless they bring in someone new. He has 3 guards outside his cell at all times on a 3 hourly rotation and he remarked “what a waste of manpower guarding me inside for writing when you can read in the NST there is so much crime and murders outside there”.

When we were there 2 other detainees had family visits as well and Pet said, that the detainees gets very few family visits after awhile especially the Malay detainees. At the beginning of their detention they get frequent visits, but since some of them have been in here for a long time the family visit gets lesser and lesser due to many constrains, money being one of them. But he said, there was one Chinese, detained for 2 years, he had family visits’ without fail. I told him “Love, I will be here, I am Chinese and will be here every week rain or shine and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise”.