Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On Balkis :The Bar Council Says...

It is inappropriate and wholly unacceptable for any member of the judiciary to act as legal adviser or in any legal capacity for any body or person while holding the office of a judge, says the Bar Council.

"More so if the body or person is associated with a state or federal government or a political party," said its president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan yesterday.

“The Bar Council is deeply concerned by the report in theSun that suggests the involvement of a Court of Appeal judge as legal adviser to Bakti on matters pertaining to the transfer of funds from Association of Wives of State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament in Selangor (Balkis) and its Penang equivalent - Bunga Tanjung,” she told theSun.

The two organisations reportedly transferred the funds to Bakti, the Federal Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers, after Barisan Nasional (BN) lost the elections in the states to Pakatan Rakyat on March 8.

“Such conduct is inconsistent with his or her position as a serving judge and has a direct impact on the issue of conflict and the independence and impartiality of the judge,” said Ambiga.

"In the circumstances and given the severity of the consequences of the allegations, it is important that the facts be established and that the judge be accorded a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations in an appropriate manner," she added.

Ambiga was responding to a report in theSun today which named Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Helilah Yusof as Bakti’s legal adviser. This was stated in the minutes of a Bakti Council meeting.


B.U.M 2008!

This is the second bloggers' gathering organised by a group of socio-political bloggers. The first held last year got together bloggers from across the country and was a success.

BUM 2008 will be held, in celebration of Labour Day on May 1 (tomorrow) and to mark World Press Freedom Day (on May 3) at the Lake View Club in Subang Jaya.

Here are the speakers.

This year's initiative is held in association with the Centre for Policy Initiatives.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

F-Grade Keropok Lekor in KL...

I read a letter to the Star from someone who gave his initials as WMR.

A Terengganu native, he was lamenting the widespread sale of imitation keropok losong in the Kuala Lumpur.

What's being sold in KL is not the real deal, he said.

He is proud of Terengganu's keropok and said that it is part of the state's heritage. He wrote:

" concern is the keropok lekor sold in Kuala Lumpur that is passed off as keropok losong. It does not in any way resemble the real deal physically. How can it claim to taste like the real thing?

These imitations are giving the Terengganu keropok industry a bad name. I once asked a keropok seller in Sungei Besi, Kuala Lumpur, where his keropok was from and he didn’t know. Some had the cheek to hang up “Keropok lekor Terengganu asli” labels at their stalls."

WMR ended his letter, saying:

"I urge the Terengganu state government to do something to ensure that imitations are not passed off for the real thing. Please, keropok is our heritage.

Don’t, because of money-hungry individuals, let our heritage be ruined by F-grade keropok.

Actually I can well understand his sentiments. Terengganu is known for the best keropok ever and it is something I make sure I get from anyone visiting this north-eastern state. And especially keropok lekor. My pal, Zainul Arifin can attest to this,

I may not be from Terengganu, but over the years, I have learnt to differentiate between "authentic" keropok lekor and as WMR said, "imitation" ones.

As a KL consumer, I know I have little choice when it comes to buying "authentic" foodstuff and delicacies (of the various states) because most of these items usually masquerade as the real McCoy.

You won't know this until you go on holiday, say in Kelantan , Terengganu or up north in Kedah or Perlis.

Then, you realise that the "kuih-muih" and peculiar cuisine in these places are so different from those in KL where they cost a lot more too.

Almost every evening, I head for Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi to buy pisang goreng. Four miserly pieces of oily pisang goreng cost RM1. I can eat those in one go, so I buy RM4.

I complain but when I see the Mak Cik laboriously preparing the bananas and frying them, I tell myself, "oh well....that is hard work."

I do buy pisang nangka, pisang tanduk or pisang nipah from the market and fry them myself at home -- if and when I have the time which is hardly.

And when my supply of keropok lekor (courtesy Zainul) runs out, I buy the fried ones near the Taman Tun Pasaraya in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

WMR, you are so right. And I hear you.

The keropok I get here is F-grade. But I buy them anyway. Until my next authentic supply arrives.

Balkis Accounts ...Wham Bam!

Well, I'll be!

The external auditors for the Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) said yesterday they were not consulted before the body transferred its RM9.9mil funds.

Yee Choon Kong & Co principal Yee Choon Kong said the firm was never consulted by Balkis president Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, its executive committee members or former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo prior to the transfer.

He said the organisation’s financial statements remained unaudited till now and the firm had not issued a signed Audit Report on Balkis’ conduct and financial affairs for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2007.

“My firm had on a number of occasions called the organisation’s treasurer Datin Suraimi Sapuan to send the financial records including bank statements, official receipt books, payment vouchers, supporting documents, fixed deposit receipts, minutes of meetings and the details of membership and subscription for 2007,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said Balkis ignored the requests, adding that contrary to press reports, the accounts had not been finalised before the funds were transferred out.

Yee was commenting on a recent statement by Dr Khir that Balkis had consulted its auditors and legal advisors before transferring the funds to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti) and there was no “hanky panky” involved.


(Source: The Star)

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Balkis Saga..

and...I'd really like to see it resolved.

Although Balkis president Zahrah Kechik has explained that she and her exco had legal advice every step of the way in dissolving the association, the Selangor PR government is not satisfied and will pursue the legality of this move and related matters.

Everything was done in accordance with the constitution, she asserted.

The state government just wants Balkis (The Association of Wives Of State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament in Selangor) to give back the RM9.9million in its coffers.

And then everything will be ok.

Meanwhile, Zahrah who is wife of former Selangor Menteri Besar Mohd Khir Toyo has warned that she will take legal action against anyone making baseless allegations about Balkis and the women in Balkis.

All I can say is I hope she knows what she is doing because, really, she is not the only one who can run to her lawyers....

Besides, she ought to be sure that there are no cans of worms....

Meanwhile, I just finished reading The Sun's page one today, headlined -- "Globe-trotting VIP Wives", which tells of the lavish spending by Balkis, including overseas shopping trips et al...

Jeff And 221 Other New MPs....

Yes, brother Jeff Ooi -- now Yang Berkhidmat and raring to go as a new parliamentarian, joins 221 others who will be sworn in the Dewan Rakyat today.

The 12th Parliament promises to be exciting given the large number of members from Pakatan Rakyat, most of whom are activists and bloggers.

Jeff, a blogger who is being sued by NSTP and 3 others, writes in his blog, Screenshots, under the posting, "Time To Get Even:

"The defamation suit against me, the blogger, is over one year old and no new grounds had been made to face off the plaintiffs -- NSTP & Others -- in the open court.

With or without judiciary reforms in Malaysia, I have decided to take the offensive and take them on, one by one, big man or small man.

I have been asked to set aside another RM12,000.00 for the solicitor's part of the cost in defending myself, and I am determined to clear my name. Kalimullah Masheerul Hassan, Hishamuddin Aun and Brendan Pereira, who sued me alongside the listed company, the NSTP, must be prepared to see me to the last drop. It's also time to say all that should be said in the court, with evidence."

From Wednesday, viewers nationwide can follow proceedings on television when the first 30 minutes of the Question Time segment is covered live.

UPDATE: Jeff is "blogging live" from Parliament. Click here.

Here's an article - Malaysian Elections Bring Activists, Bloggers and 'Rabble-rousers' In Parliament - by the Associated Press.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Please Welcome.....

to blosphere -- Haslina Usman, eldest child/daughter of Sasterawan Negara (the late) Usman Awang and his (late) wife, Hasnah Din.

(Usman or known by his nom de guerre, Tongkat Warrant, passed away in November 2001 at the age of 72. Hasnah or Cik Senah as we knew her to be passed away two years earlier.)

Haslina has started a blog "Memoriku ....My Memoirs". Click here.

I heard her mention this to Rocky at my dad's birthday dinner last night. I was pleasantly surprised.

Well, I am glad that she has started blogging and I am going to claim credit for it. I was cajoling, and persuading her to blog. I knew she was interested in starting a blog but she just could not find the time to get started. Also the idea of exposing her life, as it were, was a little daunting. Looks like Lina has got over much of her initial apprehension and "fears".

I think I should share the credit with her daughter Katriyana who started blogging (You Want A Piece Of Me?) in August last year. Nana must have been instrumental in helping her mom start her blog.

Lina is our "adik". We all grew up together (in Petaling Jaya) as our parents were very close.

As children, we saw a lot of each other during weekends when Pak Cik Tongkat and family would visit us or we would visit them.

Haslina, married with two children -- Katriyana and Taufiq -- is working to re-publish her father's works as well as to publish his un-published poems and short-stories.

Besides her publishing work, Haslina is a wonderful baker. She, her husband, Rahim and their children live in USJ in Subang Jaya.

I should also mention that a son of another Sasterawan Negara A Samad Said also blogs.

Helmy is Samad's eldest son and his blog is Luluhkan Hatitku. It is here.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Petticoat Power And RM10m..

The story is that the exco members of Balkis -- the Association of Wives of State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament in Selangor -- were trying to dissolve the association and close its ((RM10m) bank account.

Its chairman is
Zaharah Kechik, the wife of former Mentri Besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo.

According to The Sun's R Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez, Zaharah
convened an extraordinary general meeting on March 11 (three days after the general election), of the committee "to dissolve Balkis and close its bank accounts. "

The following day, the accounts were closed, with the money transferred to another account and then to Bakti – the federal Organisation of Wives of Ministers which Balkis is affiliated to.

Let's just say that they almost got away with their plan had Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim not got wind of it.

Khalid has written
to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to question the validity of the decision to dissolve Balkis.

Read the Sun's report here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hearing On the Use Of "Allah" Today

Today, the Kuala Lumpur High Court will hear the application for Judicial Review over the use of the word Allah by Catholic weekly, the Herald.

The application was filed on March 19 to challenge the decision of the Internal Security Minister (now merged into the Home Ministry) to prohibit publishers of the Herald from using the word "Allah" in its publication.

A publication permit dated Feb 12, 2008 (for the period Jan 1, 2008, to Dec 31, 2008) to the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur; the publisher of the Herald Catholic Weekly stated that "the Publication Permit is subject to Garis Panduan Penerbitan (Publication Guidelines) which prohibits the use of the word Allah in the Herald."

In a statement to the media sent out on Tuesday, Christian Federation of Malaysia executive secretary Rev. Dr Hermen Shastri said Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Rev Datuk Murphy Pakiam will be in the High Court for the hearing.

A team of five lawyers are representing Murphy who in his capacity as Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur is named as the applicant in this action. The lawyers are Porres Royan, Leonard Teoh, Annou Xavier, S.Selvarajah and Derek Fernandez.

The Herald and the Evangelical Church of Borneo (Sidang Injil Borneo or SIB) had also filed another suit challenging a government decision to prohibit importation of Christian educational materials for children containing the word "Allah".

In its lawsuit, SIB argues that Christian use of "Allah" predates Islam, as the word is used for God in the old as well as modern Arabic Bibles and thus not exclusive to the religion of Islam. This suit is pending.

(Source: The Sun)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Makkal Osai Will Be Back On Newstands...

I am glad that Tamil daily Makkal Osai had its publishing license renewed by the Home Ministry which had earlier turned down the daily's application for renewal.

Makkal Osai will be back on the stands this Saturday.

Its general manager (according to the Star) said he had met with Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar on Tuesday.

The newspaper ceased publication for a week after it failed ot get a renewal of its licence on April 16.

While this is good news, I am wondering why the change of heart, if indeed he ministry believed that the newspaper was in violation of guidelines?

Why did the ministry reject Makkal Osai's application for renewal of its permit in the first place, only to change that decision later?

Worrying this flip-flop in decision-making.

(*In August last year, Makkal Osai was suspended for one month for publishing a picture of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other on its front-page.
The newspaper began operations as Tamil Osai in 1981, and changed its name to Makkal Osai in 2005. It has a daily circulation of 52,000 copies and 95,000 on weekends.

It employs 100 people.)

Has Kah Choon Commited A "Crime"?

"My decision is motivated by the fact that Penang's interest cannot be compromised by any political consideration" -- former Gerakan deputy secretary-general Lee Kah Choon on his decision to accept the Pakatan Rakyat State Government's appointment as Penang Development Corporation (PDC) director and InvestPenang executive chairman.

So, has he committed a "crime" when he decided to sleep with the enemy?
Plain unprincipled or being practical in service of the people?

Looks like this question is now irrelevant because Kah Choon decided to quit Gerakan in response to the party's decision to issue him a show-cause letter for accepting the posts.

The story is here.

Whatever his intentions were, they did not endear him to his political bosses in the Barisan Nasional. They did not buy his case.

Of course, we have Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, in defence of Kah Choon. He said today that Kah Choon was serving Penang pro bono publico. Click here.

That's how sincere and committed he is, Guan Eng said.

Don't know whether that is being taken into account because Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said today that Kah Choon had put himself in an "untenable" position in Barisan Nasional when he accepted the appointments.

Not acceptable, Najib chided.

Former Gerakan chief Dr Lim Keng Yaik has called Kah Choon an opportunist.

And I say -- all he wants is to serve the people of Penang.

Does it matter if it was then with the, er, enemy?

Let the people be the judge then.

By the way, will there be more job offers for Barisan Nasional leaders and members in Penang?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Al Fatihah -- Rustam A Sani

Academician, scholar and political activist Rustam A Sani passed away suddenly at about 2.30am at his home in Gombak. He was 63.

He is survived by his wife, Rohani, his children (Azrani and Ariani) and grandaughter, Arissa.

He will be buried at the Taman Ibukota Muslim Cemetery in Gombak after Zuhur prayers.

Rustam was a newspaper columnist and a poet. He was also involved in a multitude of political, social and literary activities.

M Bakri Musa, describing Rustam, said this:

"The nationalist’s blood runs too deep in Rustam’s veins. His father, the late Ahmad Boestaman, was a firebrand nationalist and an early leader in the movement for Merdeka."
More here.

Rustam was a blogger - Suara Rakyat (Vox Populi) and Suara Ku. (See here and here. )

Here's a bit about him (which I got from his blog):

"As an academician and scholar he has served at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaya and ISIS Malaysia. His anthology of poems – Riak-riak Kecil (1977) – was published by the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. In 1988/89 he was awarded the prestigious ‘Hadiah Sastera Negara’ (National Literary Award) in the category of essays and literary criticism.

In politics, he was formerly the Deputy President of Parti Rakyat Malaysia, which have since merged with the Parti Keadilan Nasional to form the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party).

Rustam obtained his first degree from Universiti Malaya, and later furthered his studies at the University of Reading, University of Kent at Canterbury (both in UK) and Yale University (US).

He is a prolific writer, both in Bahasa Malaysia and English, covering a wide range of areas that include politics, social issues, history, culture, statistics and literature.

Besides, he has produced translation of literary and non-literary works (from English to Bahasa Malaysia and vice versa)."

For more about Rustam, click here.)

My deepest condolences to his family.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Love Our Earth!

Today is Earth Day!

I didn't even know it until my niece, Jehan (an avid but peace-loving environmentalist), texted me this morning, to remind me that "today we celebrate Earth Day".

Here's a little on the history of this special day!

"On April 22, 1970, 20 million people across America celebrated the first Earth Day. It was a time when cities were buried under their own smog and polluted rivers caught fire. Now Earth Day is celebrated annually around the globe. Through the combined efforts of the U.S. government, grassroots organizations, and citizens like you, what started as a day of national environmental recognition has evolved into a world-wide campaign to protect our global environment."

And now, 38 years later -- have things improved for us?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tun Dr Mahathir On BBC's Hard Talk Today

Dr M talked to Stephen Sackur who must have found that our former PM's views have not mellowed in retirement.

Among other things, Dr Mahathir said:

"a man very unpopular trying to do something right. He is making use of the system in the worst ways!" -- when asked on the PM's promise of judicial reforms.

Blogger Big Dog has the story here.

If you missed the morning broadcast of this edition of Hard Talk, I believe you can catch it on BBC at 11.30 tonight.

Do read the full interview here at Apanama.
UPDATE: Bernama came out with t h i s later.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Now It's All Umno's Fault....

Why do I get the feeling that the Prime Minister's spin doctors are trying to "turn the tables" and blaming Umno (and some of its leaders) for the party's very dismal performance in the general election?

The NST has this to say which is not putting things in perspective. Like a 360-degree turn.

And I've seen banners angrily saying that Umno has betrayed Pak Lah.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Makkal Osai Should Be Given a Second Chance

Making caricatures of religious figures held sacred by their followers will surely get you in trouble.

Certainly Makkal Osai did a not-so-smart thing by publishing a picture of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette in one hand and what looked like a beer can in the other.

I'd be the first to whack their hand!

Makkal Osai was suspended for their mistake.
The newspaper has already apologised.

But now, the Home Ministry is not renewing its permit.

I think that's a harsh stand. I don't think Makkal Osai deserves this.

I agree with the Malaysian Press Institute which called on the Government to give this Tamil newspaper a second chance. Click here.

From day one, the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) had insisted that Makkal Osai editor be sacked and the newspaper be closed. It had also lodged a police report against the newspaper.

Makkal Osai has been very critical of the MIC which, coincidentally, owns a rival Tamil-language newspaper.

Right now, I'm just thinking of their employees and their future. Click here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Bapak!

Bapak turns 84 today.

I was reminded of this at the Malaysian Bar Council dinner last night when the Prime Minister caught sight of me, and beckoned me to his table.

He said to me that he had not seen me for quite a while now.
I am no longer at NST, I replied, but I forgot to tell him why I had left the newspaper.

I told him I now run a media consultancy and am with a magazine.

"And you also have a blog," the PM hastened to add.

"Haha...yes I do," I said.

"And you blog bad things about me, ya...", he remarked, smiling.

"", I mumbled.

Anyway, the PM asked about Bapak. I said he was okay, getting older by the day and that he turns 84 today (April 18).

So, that was how I was reminded of Bapak's birthday.

Here's a very happy birthday wish for you, Bapak.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A New Chapter For The Malaysian Judiciary....

...and a tribute to former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and the 5 brave judges - Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, (the late) Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh, (the late) Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah -- who defended him after he was sacked in 1988.

The judges and lawyers I spoke to at the Malaysian Bar Council dinner tonight were very hopeful of a new beginning for the judiciary in the country.

This was after Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi delivered his keynote address, "Delivering Justice, Renewing Trust" in which he announced judicial reforms including the setting up of a judicial appointment commission.

But what was more important was the Prime Minister's acknowledgment and recognition of Tun Salleh's and the judges' contribution.

Read it here.

Short of saying sorry or offering an apology, Abdulah said the government wanted to recognise “their commitment towards upholding justice and to acknowledge the pain and loss they have endured".

He spoke of compensation i.e. goodwill ex-gratia payment to the judges.

"I do not presume to equate your contributions, pain and loss with mere currency, but I hope that you can accept this as a heartfelt and sincere gesture to mend what has been.”

Indeed, as Salleh had intimated earlier today -- no monetary payment can ever adequately compensate his suffering the last 20 years.

Salleh was present with his wife and children (and their spouses). So was Azmi.
Seah was unable to attend the dinner.

Is this a closure of the sad event in 1988?

And a start of better things for the country?

(Tun Salleh was sacked on Aug 8, 1988 by a tribunal for misconduct. The 5 judges were suspended for granting Tun an interlocutory order against the tribunal.
Tan Sri Azmi, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah and Tan Sri Eusoffe were reinstated while Seah and Wan Suleiman were sacked.)

It Doesn't Matter If The PM Doesn't Say Sorry.....

"God is great prayers for a moral victory have been answered" -- Tun Salleh Abas said.

Tun Salleh Abas who was sacked as Lord President in 1988 said to us (*this blogger and Ahirudin Attan) when asked how he'd feel if there was no apology forthcoming from the Prime Minister at tonight's dinner jointly hosted by the government and the Malaysian Bar Council.

The former Lord President is not expecting any apology from the PM tonight.

"If Pak Lah doesn't say sorry it doesn't matter to me. Let the public judge and God deal with them.

"I've waited for 20 years...God wants to give me only that, and they cannot open their hearts to say sorry, what can I do. Perhaps God has not opened their hearts.

"Why should I feel sad about this....I have been sad enough," said Tun Salleh, a deeply religious man.

He will be at the dinner, accompanied by his wife, Toh Puan Azimah and their children.

*Ahirudin and this blogger were with Tun Salleh during a session for the writing of his book.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Special Guests For Dinner...

Tomorrow at the J W Marriott, the Malaysian Bar Council plays host to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas at a dinner.

Datuk George Seah, one of the 5 Federal Court judges who were suspended in 1988, is also expected to attend the dinner.

Seah and the 4 judges were suspended for granting Salleh an interlocutory order against the tribunal which tried him for misconduct.
In other words, for coming to his defence. The others were (the late) Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman Pawanteh, Tan Sri Mohamed Azmi, (the late) Tan Sri Abdoolcader and Tan Sri Wan Hamzah.

Azmi, Abdoolcader and Wan Hamzah were later reinstated.

Wan Sulaiman will be represented by a family member.

Also at the dinner will be de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim who is said to have been instrumental in having the dinner organised.

The judges will be there with their families.

The Prime Minister will deliver a speech, "Delivery of Justice: A Renewal of Trust".

How will justice be delivered, as Rocky had asked in his bru, or, as someone had prodded - will justice be delivered at all?

Will the event be a circus, yet another had wondered.

Can't quite say, can we? But it will definitely a momentous, if not, historic occasion.

I will be there.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Welcome To The Club, Dr Chua.....

I saw an addition in the list of politicians who blog in TV Smith's "Malaysia Central".
What a pleasant surprise to find that it was former Health Minister and MCA leader Dr Chua Soi Lek.

What can I say, Doc. Welcome to the club.

Read Rocky's welcome bru, and TV Smith's two sen on Dr Chua's foray into (his) uncharted territory.

Dr Chua's maiden posting is on, well, well, well, waddya know -- Media Freedom.
Just check on the good doc's blog here.

Countdown From Black 14.....

Tonight at the Sultan Sulaiman Club in Kampung Baru at 8.45pm is the people's rally to mark the end of Anwar Ibrahim's five-year ban in electoral politics.

Anwar who is the de facto PKR leader will deliver a speech about his role in the country’s politics.

Will you be at the " Perhimpunan Rakyat “countdown dari Black 14 ke arah kemenangan Rakyat” ?

See you there!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Poor Little Yeap....

LATEST: Wednesday April 16 2008

Yeap Jia Hui, 10, who was abandoned by his mother for some 18 months, will live with his grand-aunt, Yeap Choon Lean, 59 and her husband.
His mother, after much persuasion, has finally relented to this.

The story here.

Little Yeap who was abandoned by his mother about 18 months ago, forcing him to live alone in their apartment in George Town, Penang, will now live with his grand-aunt. Click here for the story.

That's happy news for this 10 year-old who's been fending for himself all this while.

He's a good boy who did his homework and everything as though he had someone taking care of him.

How lonely and alone he must have felt when he was at home...poor thing.

I hope his grand-aunt Yap Choon Lean, 59, can cope, though.

But where is little Yeap's mummy, Kim Hong? Is she ok? I hope she's ok so that we can bring her to see her son!

My original posting:

What's to become of 10 year-old J.H Yeap (picture) whose mother left him more than 1 year ago -- all alone in their apartment in George Town, Penang.

Please read about him here.

The story does not say what has become of little Yeap, whether he is still living on his own, after the story was published in the papers.

And whether any effort is being taken to locate his mummy.

I'm sure that Yeap is in good hands and being taken care of by the Penang Welfare Services Department.

Or, is he?

I'd like to know.

Shouldn't They Return Home To Serve..... our hospitals?

I'm talking about our medical graduates who were on government scholarships.

This is not a new problem and one that has never been easy to overcome.

One overriding factor for their reluctance to return home to serve in our hospitals, is, of course, money. Another is the terms and conditions of service, I reckon.

That is, if things have not changed for our government doctors and specialists.

Years ago, my colleague (at the NST), Sulochini Nair, wrote about the brain-drain in the country, in particular, among doctors.

She discovered that among Malaysian public servants, doctors practising in hospitals, were the worst off.

Surprising, because medical students were (still are) the creme de la creme of our school-leavers and would have spent more number of years at university (than other undergrads) but were not being given due recognition in service.

This was in comparison with other sectors in the civil service.

I'm not sure if medical officers still have horrendous working hours -- like working 48 hours non-stop (quick meal breaks in between).

However, doctors in public health (not practising in hospitals) were better off in terms of salaries and conditions of service including prospects of promotion.

Now, this was in the 80s. I'm not sure if the situation has improved for them.

I was prompted to write about this after reading a report here.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Need Some Help? start your blog?

Read this.

So, you Yang Berkhidmat wannabes -- there's a lesson to learn from your seniors.

Don't say stupid things.

Remember this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and, of course THIS!

Najib -- Loyal Deputy Or Just Waiting For THAT Moment.....

Umno deputy president Najib Abdul Razak has got many people making guesses as to where he stands in the issue of the embattled Prime Minister and Umno president.

His supporters say that it is not fair to expect him to make a firm and clear stand on Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who is under increasing pressure to take a rest, take a break, go on leave or to simply do the right thing -- step down as PM.

"He is the number two. Put yourself in his place....why would you want to undermine your boss? This is the time to show solidarity", someone said.

Well...I can see your point.

Not so his detractors and critics who think that he just doesn't have it in him to make a stand right now, right here.

"Just waiting for the cue...", a political observer remarked.

How many cues does he need, did I hear someone ask?

I am remembering what I said in an earlier posting -- that if Pak Lah chose to remain in power after the Barisan Nasional's disastrous performance in the general election (for which he has taken partial blame), more and more people will press him to step down. And they will come from within Umno's ranks. (In my posting "Borrowed Time")

Several Umno divisions have already put the heat on Abdullah to step aside and allow for a succession.

Johor Umno has called for the Umno president to put into place a structured, smooth and speedy exit plan.

Kedah Umno has suggested that Najib takes over the Umno number one (and party vice-president Muhyiddin Yasin as the number two).

Najib has, typically, refused to respond to this. (Here.)

Which takes me back to my question -- where does Najib really stand in all this?

Is he being a good and loyal deputy or just waiting for, that moment, that right time? You know, political expediency and all that.

But you know what? Najib doesn't have to say anything because at this point, the question does seem irrelevant.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Integrated Pig Farms In Kuala Langat To Proceed....

Here is the Bernama story.

If I were to oppose the setting up of pig farms, it would be because of issues of health and hygiene.

And for many people -- the spectre of the deadly Nipah virus.

That said, I am also reminded of the many pig farmers who lost everything during that period of the Nipah virus epidemic in the farms a few years ago.

I don't wish for any of that to recur. I hope all that remains in the past.

But, there are lessons to be learnt from that experience.

I am not objecting to the opening of pig farms. I, however, hope that the Pakatan Rakyat government of Selangor will ensure that pig farmers employ clean and efficient pig-rearing and slaughter methods so that these farms do not become breeding grounds for any deadly virus.

I'm sure these farmers need a lot of help in this department.

So, help them by having a body within the state government to look into their needs.

Because it is in everyone's interest...

Pak Lah Cannot Resolve Umno's Problems...

because he still believes that the Barisan Nasional's disastrous performance in the March 8 elections was caused by everything else but...

Which is strange because he had earlier admitted to being a factor in the BN's loss of votes.

"We cannot be in a state of denial," - Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, April 11, 2008, when reminding Umno members of the various factors leading to the BN's dismal performance.

And in reference to calls by several state Umno liaison committees for him to step down, he reiterated that he would only withdraw once he had resolved all the party's internal problems and had regained the people's confidence in the party.

Oh dear. With all due respect, Sir. Didn't you have a chat with them during which they expressed their frank and honest views?

Ahhh...I am reminded of what Mark Twain once said : Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm A Cause for BN's Poor Performance, Says Pak Lah

....therefore I'm staying to rebuild the party, said the Umno president.

“I feel I am the cause of the loss of votes to Barisan Nasional. And I feel responsible to make the best to rebuild BN dan Umno,” he told reporters today after a two-hour meeting with members of the Johor Umno liaison committee here, led by Menteri Besar and Johor Umno chief Abdul Ghani Othman.

And Ghani said that Johor Umno is all behind Pak Lah if he wishes to defend his post in the December party elections.

The NST online story here.
Read Big Dog's report here.

I'm scratching my head here.

I have one word for all this -- sandiwara.

Pak Lah In Johor To Meet the 20 Umno Leaders...

.....who had asked the Umno president "to go on leave".

They were said to have asked him to hand over his duties as Umno president and prime minister to his deputy Najib Abdul Razak during this period.

According to Malaysiakini, the call was made during a meeting between 20 division leaders with Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othaman at his residence in Johor Bahru early last week.

But six other division leaders, who hold ministerial positions, were not invited for the meeting.

They are Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein (Semberong), Shahrir Abdul Samad (Johor Bahru), Khaled Nordin (Pasir Gudang), Syed Hamid Albar (Kota Tinggi), Muhyiddin Yassin (Pagoh) and Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Mersing).

Also not invited were Tourism Minister Azalina Othman Said and Deputy Human Resources Minister Noraini Ahmad.

However, Shahrir was quick to refute the report saying that no resolution was made at the meeting.

"The meeting did not pass any resolution or take any decision to be conveyed to the Umno president. Those present shared the views and on my part, I stated that rehabilitating Umno should be the main priority," he was quoted to have told a press conference to announce the National Intellectual Property Day 2008 here Wednesday. Here.

Burying Brickendonbury....

I know many Malaysians will rejoice over this piece of news.

I remember people -- homemakers, students, lawyers, doctors, sportsmen (yes!) -- wondering why we would want to spend so much money on this project.

Even Youth and Sports ministry officials found it difficult to defend this project.

It was being carried out with the best of intentions (for Malaysian sports), a close aide of the then Youth and Sports Minister told me.

Well here's the piece of news (source: NST) --

The Youth and Sports Ministry has shelved the Brickendonbury High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) project in London as a forward base to prepare Malaysian athletes for the 2012 Olympic Games.

“As we are aware, our application to build the Brickedonbury HPTC had been rejected by the East Herts Council Development Control Committee.

“The ministry can appeal against the decision and file a fresh application.

But after studying it from various angles and considering the views of all parties, the ministry has decided to shelve the project. So we will not make an appeal and file a fresh application,” said its minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob at a press conference here today (Thursday April 9).

He said the decision was made at the ministry’s post-cabinet meeting yesterday and it was endorsed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who is also the Cabinet Committee On Sports Development chairman.
The East Herts Council Development Control Committee rejected Malaysia’s application to upgrade the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre (TARRC) in London in November last year.

Please read The Sun's C
itizen Nades on Brickendonbury here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More On Sufiah......

I was told today that the Malaysian-born mother of Sufiah Yusof -- the child prodigy who was admitted into Oxford at 12 years old, has started her own blog.

The blog is simply called Yusof Family -- the official family blog.
It does look like it is written by Halimahton.

The first posting on April 2, reads:

"Hi! This is the Yusof family’s official blog. We’ll be adding content here over time from Halimahton, Iskander, Zuleikha, Abraham, and Aisha; see the About page for our respective profiles."

In the blog, Halimahton tries to clear all the misconceptions and inaccuracies regarding her husband's purported involvement in the education of Sufiah, her siblings.

There is an FAQ where Halimahtom explains and clarifies. There are also dated photos of her and her children.

Sharlinie Is Not Forgotten...

Is she still alive?

I may not have posted any updates about her. And that's because there have been no updates from the the police. And maybe that's because there is nothing on which they can update.

No, I have not forgotten her. It's been very long. Too long that she's been gone, disappeared.

So, please tell us if there is hope of ever finding her...

House Break-Ins On The Rise In Taman Tun Dr Ismail...

In the last three weeks, at least four houses have been broken into in Taman Tun Dr Ismail. In one case, a maid was found murdered in the house.

This topic is pretty hot among residents in this neighbourhood. They are so fearful of being the next victim.

Really. It is a case of "it can happen to you".

Consider this -- about three weeks ago, my friend, Mia, came face to face with one of two intruders at her home.

She had gone to fetch her daughter from school, the duration of which was about 20 minutes. When they returned home, they were shocked when they noticed two men in their house.
On hearing them, the men rushed out. One fled through the broken side door and jumped over the neighbour's wall, while the other brushed past them, out of the gate. Both got into a waiting car.

Mia immediately lodged a police report. But how odd that the policeman kept asking her whether she was really really sure about wanting to make a report.

She told me she was at first a little puzzled by this. Then she got a little irritated.

"Was he reluctant to take my report? Of course I was sure about wanting to make the report, for heaven's sake...Two men had broken into my house. The only reason they were not able to take off with my belongings was that they had no time to do that as I had come home a little too soon.

"That's the least of my worry.... I am just so thankful that neither I nor my daughter was hurt," she told me.

That same afternoon, in a house just down the road, a maid was found murdered.

Mia now lives in fear. And she is not alone.

In her case. the perpetrators were "foreign-looking". She noticed that they were young, perhaps in their 20s, and looked middle-eastern or South American. That kind of physical appearance.

These days, I always check the front door to make sure it is locked, and the gate, to make sure it is closed.

And, oh....every time I leave the house, I am on the look-out for "strange" cars and even stranger characters lurking near my house.

I think I have become paranoid.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Oh...Just Kiss And Make Up...

Some Umno leaders want Dr Mahathir and the Prime Minister to meet and make peace.

Will they want to smoke the peace pipe?

Azalina Rectifies Statement on Tourism MoUs..

There is no element of discrimination and tourisim-related activities will go on in the five Pakatan-ruled states, Azalina Othman Said said yesterday.

She said this in response to her statement last week on the termination of tourism MoUs and state tourism action councils in the five states which drew criticisms not only from Pakatan leaders but also the public.

Read the story here.

Ahmad Tajuddin Resigns...

"Let me be the one to start the ball rolling", said Ahmad Tajuddin Sulaiman who has quit as Pahang Umno liaison committee secretary with immediate effect.

He is taking full responsibility for the party's poor performance in the March 8 general election.

Ahmad Tajuddin who is Paya Besar Umno chief said his resigning was in line with his call that all Umno supreme council members do the same.

Well, the next question is -- who else will be joining him? Anymore out there?

The full story here.

It's On Friday Now..

This is going to take some getting used to.

Cabinet meetings chaired by the Prime Minister had, for a very long time, been held on Wednesdays. The meetings have now been moved to Fridays to enable ministers to attend parliamentary sittings.

Minister in the PM's Department Nazri Aziz, announcing this, said this change also had to do with the planned 30-minute live telecasts of Parliament proceddings from the end of the month.

Check out the Bernama story here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Know When To Quit...

And not a minute longer, said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Not his words, but I suppose I am allowed to spin it that way.

What he actually said was that he would not stay (as PM) longer than he should.

There's just so much he has to finish, so much to do, he said in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

Here's the full Bernama story:

Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Monday he would not stay longer than he should as prime minister.

"I would retire one day but I could not leave in this kind of political scenario. I will retire one day, of course. I'm not going to stay longer than I should.

"But there are certain things that I like to do now. I cannot leave at a time when the party is in this condition.

I cannot leave at a time when we are preparing for the implementation of development projects. We have already promised the people. We will do it.

"I'm not going to stay on for years. Certainly not," the prime minister told reporters after meeting Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders here.

Abdullah was asked whether he had a date in mind on when he would retire after having named Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as his successor.

The prime minister said Sunday Najib was his successor and that they had no problems between them.

On naming Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as his successor, Abdullah said in jest: "Of course.

Are you in doubt that you have to ask me again?" "Datuk Seri Najib understands me more than you can understand me. I am not going to stay on for years. Certainly not," he added.

Abdullah also thanked Sabahans for having given the mandate to the BN in last month's general election.

"I wish to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations and thanks to everyone and the chief minister (Datuk Seri Musa Aman) for the cooperation in the BN which led to the big victory in the general election," he said.

Leaders of the eight Sabah BN component parties had expressed their appreciation to Abdullah for having listened to their views and having agreed to consider their requests made at the meeting with him.

They also expressed support for Abdullah as the BN chairman.

Tuesdays With Bapak

When Bapak Returned -- Tuesday April 8 2008

I had been in the NST for about four years before rumours were rife that "Pak Samad was coming back".

Everyone asked me and I had to confess that I was as much in the dark as they were. I think I disappointed many people because I couldn't confirm those rumours.

How could I, his daughter, not know what was going on with his life?

"Alaa...surely you know. You're the daughter," someone would remark.

But, really. How could I?

It's hard to believe, but there were things, Bapak did not and would not tell, even his own daughter.
No, he did not tell me anything about his imminent return to the NST.

After graduating from UiTM (then ITM), I was offered a job at the NST. (The late) Dr Noordin Sopiee who was then managing editor, was already familiar with our (mine and that of my classmates -- Zaharah Othman and Fatimah Abu Bakar ) work and performance having done our practical training with the NST as requirement for our second and final year journalism studies.

After about a year at NST, I was offered a place at Boston University for a masters programme. I went on study leave and returned early 1981 to complete and finalise some research.

After that, I wanted to take time off to "rest and relax". It was at this time that Bapak was released from detention (under the Internal Security Act).

That gave me more reason to not return to work yet and spend a bit of time with Bapak.

I didn't mind being Bapak's driver as he did not have a valid driver's license. After his release, he wanted to go on a "visiting spree".
And being gainfully "unemployed" then, I was appointed his personal chauffeur. Unpaid, of course.

I remember I was driving him to the Utusan Malaysia Jalan Chan Sow Lin office one morning when I was "hailed down" along the highway by a traffic policeman. There was an anti-speeding operation.

I was speeding a little and Bapak did remark so. In fact, he warned me to go a little slower.

"No-lah...tak laju-lah," I had responded, a tad smug.

So there was I, being made to pull over. The policeman said I had exceeded the speed limit.

Bapak wasted no time. He wound down the window, looked up at the policeman and said: "Saman dia.... memang laju". And he cackled.

It was a "serves you right" message written all over his face.

The policeman was momentarily stunned. It must have dawned on him that this old man wasn't jesting. No negotiations for a reduced rate or sweet talking to get off scot-free but a "saman dia" gentle order.

He smiled and quickly gave me a ticket.

I could not say a word and, perhaps, it was just as well that I was lost for words.

Throughout the rest of the drive to the Utusan office, Bapak wore a mischievous smirk on his face. I kept silent.

I had intended to resume work but still had a bit of holiday left. It was during one of my visits to NST that Dr Noordin convinced me to cut short my "vacation" and "come back to work".

I suppose I didn't need much persuasion or convincing. So, back at work it was for me.

I was assigned to the newsdesk (to which I was attached to before I went on study leave).

After Bapak was released, he accepted an offer to be editorial adviser with the Star. He couldn't refuse the offer.

At that time, the Star office was very close to our Section 16 house. Most of the journalists at the Star were formerly with the NST and had worked under Bapak.

After Bapak's release, they would visit him almost everyday, Bapak would be regaling them with tales -- old and new, and they would be telling him about office politics, political developments and well, gossip and rumours.

Whenever I came home for lunch, he'd always have visitors. I could hear laughter filling the living or dining room, and most distinctly, Bapak's signature cackle.

So, I suppose it was only natural that he was happy to join his "girls and boys" at the Star.

Then, Bapak and Mak went to Makkah to perform the Haj.

Not long after their return from the holy land, there was a buzz. A little rumour of Bapak returning to the NST.

I wanted to confirm the rumour and asked the man himself. You know, to get it from the horse's mouth.

And the horse was not telling anything. He would never actually deny it but made it seem as though they were really rumours.

But I know that on several occasions -- at night -- I could see a car waiting for him and he'd leave and would only return very late.

I always asked Mak. She'd say that he was meeting "old friends". I was born yesterday.

Kak Ton, my other siblings and I did discuss this and we had our suspicions but could not confirm them.

It was frustrating.

Then one day, as I was talking to my news editor ( I think it was Bakar Hashim). in walked a man in a short-sleeved shirt and dark pants, wearing a "kopia", accompanied by a senior editorial and management executive.

It was as though, he was given a guided tour.

A deafening silence seemed to shroud the entire newsroom.
You really cannot imagine a "silent" newsroom.

And almost immediately after people realised who that person was, you could hear the buzzing, the chatter.

"Assalamualaikum, Pak Haji", someone yelled afffectionately from across the room.

"Eh, isn't that your dad?" my news editor asked.

I must have been equally stunned.

Could the rumour be true?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Fault-finding Big Time And No Soul-searching..

Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said disciplinary action will be taken against Umno members who sabotaged the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates in 14 parliamentary constituencies and denied the BN from winning the two-third majority in the last general election.

Abdullah, who is also the Prime Minister, said based on the party's analysis, several of the seats concerned were `white' or safe areas which should have been won and thus allowing the BN to win with the two-third majority.

He said the BN would also not have lost Kedah and Perak if there had been no acts of sabotage against the coalition in the 22 state constituencies concerned.

He said if there had been no acts of sabotage which had robbed BN of victory in the 14 parliamentary constituencies, the BN would have won the general election with a more than two-third majority, he said at a press conference after attending a briefing session with the Umno president which was attended by the party's information machinery at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), here Sunday.

Asked why there were members who had sabotaged candidates from their own party, he declined comment.

Abdullah said that at the moment, there was no need for him to state the reasons why the members had acted in such a manner but he would give the information needed to the Umno Disciplinary Committee for appropriate action to be taken.

(Source: Bernama. Click here for the rest of the story)

And I thought Umno was going to do some serious soul-searching and some serious analyses to find out the causes, the reasons for the Barisan Nasional's disastrous performance in the elections. I was dead wrong.

It' always so easy to find fault and point fingers. More "effective" is accusing your own members of being saboteurs during the elections.
Sabotage? Explain sabotage?
Now, if they did "sabotage" (in whatever form), why, why were they so compelled to do that?

But, aaah, never mind the real reasons. the blame game. The witch hunt.

I wonder who the Umno president's fingers are pointing at. Ok, ok. We all know who.

Nice, this finger-pointing.

Can Umno members now point their fingers at the real culprits who caused VOTERS to decide to vote out the BN in those constituencies?

And who put the Umno president up to say all this?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Stage Is Set For Open Contest

Mukhriz Mahathir has kickstarted the race for Umno Youth's number one post when he offered to be a candidate after Hishammuddin Hussein announced that he was not seeking re-election this year.

After Mukhriz, it was former Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo who confirmed that he was interested to go for it as well.

Incumbent deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who has been keeping a pretty low profile since the elections, has not made any commitment yet on whether he will be offering himself.

Much as he'd like to, it is doubtful that he will offer himself but he may "send" a proxy to contest. We can make some guesses.

There's another eight months before the party elections in December. But the nominations for candidates to contest posts will be in October when the divisions hold their meetings.

With Mukhriz and Dr Khir already offering themselves, we can be sure that the field is now wide open.

More will come forward and offer their candidacy.

Even the number two post may be challenged.

But, what I'd really like to know is -- who has Hishammuddin's support in the race.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Big Bad Mistake, Azalina

Said Elizabeth Wong, the Selangor Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment exco chairman and Law Heng Kiang, the Penang Tourism Development, Culture, Arts and Heritage Committee chairman.

They were responding to
the Tourism Ministry's decision to terminate all tourism MoUs and the state tourism councils.

It will not only have adverse effects on the industry but also the the national economy, they agreed.

Wong, a blogger , said the decision was "regrettable".

It would be foolhardy, she stressed, for the central government to continue sidelining Selangor as well as Penang, Perak, Kelantan and Kedah, which are all premier destinations.

"Selangor is one of the top destinations in the nation and the first stop for most international tourists," she said in a statement.

Wong said the State had been looking forward to work with the tourism ministry.

She said Selangor accounted for some 30 per cent of the national GDP and the move could jeopardise the national economy as well as the industry.

Yesterday, Minister Azalina Othman Said said all funds for tourism in the five opposition-ruled states would be directly channelled into the accounts of the states' Tourism Action Councils which will no longer be chaired by the State Executive Councillors in charge of tourism.

The RM1mil annual budget for each state which used to be channelled to the state financial officers when the states were ruled by the Barisan Nasional (BN), will from now on be channelled through federal funds.

Law described the move as "unwise" and urged the ministry to seriously reconsider it.

He said it would bring about a spiral-effect causing losses to the people and the whole industry in the country, including Barisan Nasional (BN) supporters.

"In the short term, it may affect Penang's tourism industry but in the long-term it will definitely affect the Malaysia's tourism industry," said Law.

(Source: The Sun online and The NST online)

Now isn't that a bad move? So mean. It's punishing those states that fell to the Opposition.

When you punish these states, you are really punishing the people.

How to redeem Barisan Nasional like this?

It's akin to telling the rakyat (the Malay expression): "Hah, baru rasa sekarang."

Transforming And Reforming Pemuda Umno

And its chief Hishammuddin Hussein is leading the way by not defending his post in the December Umno elections this year.

“We have to look forward. We have to do changes and reforms, re-build the party and the wing. And if the Youth is still in a situation where they don’t know what my plans are come December, that becomes a barrier for us to move forward.

“I feel today might be the right time for me to tell them about my plans after 10 years of building the Youth from the time when it was split to where it is now," he said today.

His announcement not to defend his post has paved the way for Jerlun MP Mukhriz Mahathir and former Selangor Menteri Besar Dr Khir Toyo to offer themselves as candidates for the post.

Both had said that they would offer themselves if Hishammuddin decided not to defend the post.

Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin had no comment when the Press contacted him after Hishammuddin's announcement.

Asked whether he wants Khairy to contest for the post, Hishammuddin said it was not for him to decide.

Hishammuddin did not endorse any candidate as his successor although he confessed that he had a personal favourite but would prefer to keep it to himself.

"I have only one vote", he remarked.

(sources: The Sun, Bernama)

So, it's been 10 years, huh? Two years, from 1998 as acting Umno Youth chief and the remaining, after winning the post uncontested in the party elections.

Oh yes, I remember Hishammuddin when he was first elected to the Umno Supreme Council. I had positive thoughts of him, that he'd do good because he seemed "decent and clean".
You know, well-educated, well brought-up. Good family.
A naive thought on my part, perhaps.

But, he seemed a nice guy. Now, how was I to know then that, really, nice guys don't win wars?

This will indeed be exciting. We'll see what the Pemuda is made of. We'll see if the wing is serious about wanting to reform, to shake off so much baggage.

After the Lunas by-election in 2000 (in which the BN lost, causing it to lose its two-thirds majority in Kedah) Umno Youth leaders were so worried about their battered image that they decided to go full gear to repair and rebuild it.

How bad was their image? Being seen in the Pemuda's "white" attire was never a good idea. It was that bad.

In May 2002, I wrote an article in the NST about "Umno's Renewed Sense of Confidence". I interviewed Azalina Othman Said who was then pro-tem chief of Puteri Umno and Hishammuddin. Here is an excerpt:
 It was not too long ago that Hishammuddin faced criticism targeted at
Umno Youth, especially "since Lunas" (State by-election).
(The movement was criticised for a serious faux pas that many believed
cost the BN many crucial votes. Parti Keadilan Nasional's Saifuddin
Nasution Ismail wrested the seat from BN's S. Anthonysamy. The seat was
left vacant following the death of its Assemblyman, MIC's Dr Joe Fernandez
in 2000.)
The lesson learnt in Lunas was costly but valuable for Hishammuddin and
his Exco. There was a time when even the uniform attire worn by Umno Youth
members was "wrong" and fodder for critics.
In fact, even the noblest of causes drew flak. It was so easy to
criticise anything that had an Umno Youth label. Its Pemuda Masuk Kampung
programme - an attempt to be close to the people - was touted as
pretentious and insincere when it was first carried out.
In short, everything was wrong about the movement. It was not difficult
to discredit it
Aah yes. The "Pemuda Masuk Kampung" programme. You see, if your intentions are sincere, you have at least to be seen to be sincere because you cannot fool everyone every time. Not even the "simple" kampung folk.

On hindsight, it did not quite matter whether Umno Youth succeeded in reforming itself. The BN did well in the 2004 general election.

In the ensuing years, we can assume that the wing returned to its "bad old ways" -- it got overly confident, too smug and too arrogant and completely detached from the people.

Will Hishammuddin's departure and his successor bring the desired transformation and reformation in Umno Youth?

Will his successor be effective and successful in leading Umno Youth to rebuild itself to help in the bigger scheme of things -- to rebuild Umno.

Will it rest on who are contesting and who wins? Will this all be an exercise in futility as Umno is doomed, never to rise again? Ever.

We know that nothing is ever certain. Remember how many of us were stunned by the overwhelming victory of the opposition parties?

After the fact and on hindsight -- yeah, everyone was a self-proclaimed clairvoyant.

Which means if Umno Youth gets it right, who knows? We know that nobody or nothing can really be ever written off.

Meanwhile, although Hishammuddin made it clear that he's still the boss, I dare say -- let the games begin, if they have not already.

Pakatan Rakyat Will Not Last.....

Not my words but those of, who else, Barisan Nasional leaders. At least two of them, who I can safely assume, speak for the rest of their colleagues.

Like any marriage of convenience, this "pakatan" will disintegrate once the honeymoon is over and the "novelty" wears off, they alluded.

You know what, I wouldn't be so ready and emphatic to dismiss Pakatan Rakyat. Didn't they trounce the BN in 1, 2,, no, FIVE states?

Hey, maybe, they'll fall so hard and crumble. But, really I wouldn't write them off so swiftly. Because the alliance may emerge stronger than BN ever was. Besides, they know NOT to be arrogant.
So, I wouldn't pooh-pooh the Pakatan because I may have to eat humble pie later. But it is so difficult, isn't it? To eat humble pie, I mean.

Tourism Minister Azalina Othman Said believes that the PKR-DAP-PAS alliance will not last long given their different policies, unlike the BN which had the same manifesto for all.

“Politics is a marriage of convenience. Politicians can say anything they want to gain the people’s support.

“Maybe Pakatan Rakyat will work for a month or a year but it will break up in the end as they are too different,” she added.

Kedah BN chairman Mahdzir Khalid pointed out that the DAP had on many occasions objected to Pas' intention of creating an Islamic state.

"Now, they are talking about a grouping to work on common goals. I seriously doubt their sincerity."

He said it was common knowledge that Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and DAP chairman Karpal Singh had been at loggerheads over the Islamic state plan.
"The tripartite grouping is merely a political expediency. That is all and it will not last."

In contrast, he said the component parties under the BN enjoyed a good working relationship.

"The main parties - Umno, MCA and MIC - have worked together for more than 50 years.

"This relationship has served as a strong foundation for the ruling party to serve the people well."

I Ain't Quitting. Why Should I?

As far as Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is concerned, the people still want him.
He is convinced Malaysians still want him to lead.

He said he has got THE mandate from the people to continue leading this beloved land of ours.

Abdullah isn't buying the crap that HE is responsible for the BN's disastrous performance.

Declared he:

“I am here. I am here. I am here. They speculate that I want to run away, I’ve resigned. Why should I resign?

“My Government has got a strong majority (although) not the two-thirds (majority), but very strong ... that is the stand of support.

“Why must I run away from my entrusted responsibilities?

Abdullah said this after a 45-minute meeting with Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said at his office in Putrajaya yesterday.

Story here.

I think he was responding to Dr Mahathir's call on Tuesday for him to step down "gracefully".

Dr M believes that Abdullah had no option but to step down in order to save Umno from further humiliation and destruction.

"Anyone else would have already resigned but (Abdullah) has no shame," said the former Prime Minister.

"I want him to resign" he told a crowd of more than 1,000 at a post-election forum organised by Umno supporters’ group, MyKMU.Net yesterday.
This leader is the country’s only prime minister to ever come from an opposition state (Penang)..., " he said .

As they say, stick and stones may break Abdullah's bones but words can never hurt him.

You see, there are enough people around the PM to have convinced him that he had done a damn good job leading this country, that under him in the last 4 years, the poor and the underprivileged have had a better life and have enjoyed a better living standard.

The man believes that he is the best PM Malaysia ever had.

So...sorry Dr M, sorry Mukhriz, sorry the rest of Malaysians who voted for change. The man just aint listening.
In fact, he's been told that Dr M is the one responsible for BN's very very tragic performance.
And bloggers who were in cahoots with him.

Or did some people do a good job of closing Abdullah's eyes and covering his ears and .....

ANYWAY.. the man ain't going nowhere.

By the way, he is the Pakatan Rakyat's favourite PM. I was told by a leader in Pakatan that Abdullah should remain as PM.


Please read Mariah Samad's Tok Mommy.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Zahid Calling Bloggers....

"This is the time for the bloggers to do something useful and not just use their blogs to condemn the government" - Zahid Hamidi, Minister in the PM's Department.

Minister in the PM's Department Zahid Hamidi has urged Muslim bloggers (that means me, I suppose - I am Muslim and a blogger) to help counter the attack against Islam by anti-immigration right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders who made a 15-minute film "Fitna".

The short film, posted in the internet, features violent imagery of terrorist attacks in New York and Madrid set against passages from the Quran that are distorted and taken out of context.

Zahid said the action to boycott goods from the Netherlands was good but not enough to counter anti-Islam attack. He said this was also the time for Muslims to set aside their political difference and unite against anti-Islam elements.

Pas, the National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students, Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), World Assembly of Youth (WAY), Malaysian 4B Youth (4B) and Dunia Melayu Dunia Islam (DMDI) and Umno Youth have called for the commercial boycott of Dutch products in a protest over the film.

To be honest, I have not seen the film. Maybe I don't want to. But I will. Actually, I am so curious but I know I'd be closing my eyes throughout because of the violence.

All I can say for now is that I am not surprised that it was a Dutchman who made the film. know the Dutch, they are very very liberal, open, free.

And, of course, this film was made in the name of art and artistic freedom...
I'm sure Geert Wilders was aware that such a film would inflame Muslims across the globe.

Saving Sufiah?

This is about Sufiah Yusof, Malaysia's child prodigy in the UK, the girl who gained entry into Oxford at the age of 12. Here.

After Malaysian authorities got wind of her "predicament" either from Rocky's Bru, Utusan Malaysia or directly from the News of the World, here's the plan for her, according to Bernama (quoting Minister in the PM's Department Zahid Hamidi).

The Prime Minister's Department and the Malaysian Missionary Foundation (Yadim) will try to assist former child maths genius Sufiah Yusof, now aged 23 and fending for herself as a prostitute in Salford, Manchester.

Zahid said they would help the gifted girl to return to the right path through the "Save Sufiah Programme".

"The first thing we should try to do is to contact her mother or arrange a meeting with Sufiah to find out the real reasons for her to turn to prostitution, offering her services through the Internet and using the name Shilpa Lee," he told reporters after attending a biefing by Yadim here Tuesday.

It has been reported in the "News of the World" that Sufiah is now a 130- pound an-hour hooker operating from her dingy back street flat.

The "Save Sufiah Programme" is headed by Deputy Minister in the PM's Department Mashitah Ibrahim (she of a certain fatwa) who will come up with strategies to assist Sufiah as soon as possible.

Sufiah created news when she was accepted into Oxford University at age just 13. Her mother, Malaysian-born Halimaton Yusof from Muar, Johor, and her father, Farooq Yusof from Pakistan both tutored her and her siblings at home.

However, Farooq is now in jail after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting two 15-year-old girls whom he home tutored in maths.

I know you guys mean well but....

I'm not a psychology expert but it doesn't take one to know and understand why she's become what she is. It's meting out treatment for her that needs skill and expertise.
And you think she needs "treatment"?
She may need advice on "living dangerously", though.

If you guys are so intent on "saving" Sufiah, go ahead. I hope Mashitah does it right.
Er.....are you all going to the UK to do all this? How many times? And for how long each time?
Your first Cabinet project, huh?

And...just don't use Sufiah to score points.

It's good that you all want to help. Sufiah may choose to refuse your help. She is over 21. And she is, after all, not Malaysian.
So, do exercise care and caution...

You know how good we are at screwing things up...even with the best of intentions!

By the way, read what her former husband had to say. Here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tuesdays With Bapak

Saudara Anwar -- Tuesday April 1, 2008

It was the summer of '78, as I recalled. Ok, everyday is summer in this country. Always wanted to use that phrase.

Sometime in '78, after I had just started work with NST, I was assigned to cover an event at Yayasan Anda in Jalan Pantai Bahru.
The person holding the Press conference was Anwar Ibrahim.

I was 22, fresh out of college. Did I know who Anwar Ibrahim was? I'd be stupid if I didn't.
He was the student (mahasiswa) who fought against poverty for which he was detained under the ISA.
He fought for the poor.

Every Malaysian student knew Anwar Ibrahim. And as a student, I was a Guevara-ist. Very anti-establishment. I might not have been from an impoverished class but I certainly was not removed from the problems of poverty and the disenfranchised.

Now before I proceed, this is not an apple-polishing piece on Anwar, ok? Just something anecdotal about my first encounter with every mahasiswa's hero then.

Back to the Anwar Ibrahim assignment my dear editor (the late) Pak Cik Dahari Ali sent me to -- I took the assignment as I would any other.

I cannot remember now what the assignment was about but I remember lucidly some things Anwar uttered during the Press conference and my meeting with him after the assignment, as though it was just yesterday. And this I could never forget and something I have related to my friends and family who by now must already know the story by heart and in detail.

After meeting Anwar, I began to understand the meaning of charisma. Really. I'm not stupid and was not born yesterday. But, I know what charisma is. I'm sure many others too.

I was a newbie. A rookie. But I was not nervous because I had done my practical training with NST in my second and final year.

I was quite lucky because my sister, Maria (Kak Ton), was a senior journalist (with Bernama then) and I knew many of her friends in the Press. They treated me like their younger sister.

At the Anwar assignment, I met (the late) Norijah from Bernama. She made me sit beside her throughout the Press conference.

Arwah Norijah was one of Kak Ton's dearest friends. She was warm and witty. I liked her a lot.

After the assignment, as usual, all the reporters would approach the man-of-the-hour for further clarification, to say hello/goodbye, have a chat (if he/she was a close contact) or whatever. Press people are friendly people. They usually hang around....part of the job.

By the end of the assignment, I was impressed by what I saw and heard. As simple as that.

I remember, in reply to a question (I forget what it was, but I can remember the reply), he said: "......we are brothers in Islam " (to the Muslim reporters) and "we are brothers in humanity", (to the non-Muslim reporter who asked the question.

I liked what he said. I still do.

Everything over, Norijah and I were at the table in front where Anwar was still talking to reporters.

Norijah made herself visible to him, which was not hard, if you knew Norijah.

Anwar looked up and smiled. I think he knew who she was.

He looked at me and smiled.

I, of course, smiled back.

"Nuraina, from NST", I offered.

Before Anwar could say anything, dear dear Norijah said: "Ni anak Samad Ismail."

(I was -- and still am -- a little uneasy whenever anyone introduced me that way. Not so much because of how I'd react but more of how the other party would.)

I was about to say something to Norijah when Anwar unhesitantly, said: "Aaah...Pak Samad. How is he?"

You see, for me at that time, I'd get moved very easily by anyone who asked about Bapak.

I replied: "Alhamdulillah....he is fine."

Anwar, his face a little grim: "What does he do to pass the time?"

Me: "I think he reads the Quran".

His face softened. He took three books on the table.

"Here, please give Pak Samad these books," he said, and proceeded to scribble something in the books, one by one.

"Please, you don't have to sign the books... the Special Branch takes a look at them first and if you have your name there....", I said.

Anwar looked up, smiled and continued to scribble.

"That's ok. That's ok... Not a problem," he replied, as he kept on scribbling.

Anwar handed me the books.

"Please kirim my salam to Pak Samad," he said.

"Inshallah. And thank you," I replied. So impressed was I by his "fearlessness" of the Special Branch.

I decided there and then that I liked the man. I didn't know him and I didn't care.

Norijah seemed pleased that she introduced me to Anwar. I was too.

The following Tuesday during our meeting with Bapak at the police station, I handed the books to Bapak.

"These are from Anwar Ibrahim. He signed them and dia kirim salam," I said.

"Ya kah..Waalaikumussallam." Bapak replied, as he looked at the gifts from Anwar.

I asked Bapak whether he had ever met Anwar.

No, he said. They had never met.

"Please tell him thank you, and kirim my salam," Bapak told me.

Me: "Ok...Inshallah."

I never met saudara Anwar after that, until much much later.

Sometime after Bapak's release from detention, he accepted an invitation from his "girls and boys" at the Star to be its editorial adviser.
It was also the same time Anwar was invited to join Umno.

Just before Anwar joined Umno, he met with Bapak. That was the first time they had ever met. And, certainly, it was not the last.