Friday, October 31, 2008

Razak Baginda Acquitted.

The judge ruled that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against Abdul Razak Baginda. He was acquitted at the Shah Alam court this morning.

Abdul Razak was on a murder abetment charge in the murder case of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

C/Insp Azilah Hadri and Kpl Sirul Azhar Umar, members of the Special Action Squad (UTK), were ordered by to enter their defence against the murder charge.

Both of them chose to testify under oath.

Azilah and Sirul Azhar were charged with murdering Altantuya at Mukim Bukit Raja, Selangor, between 10pm on Oct 19, 2006 and 1am the following day.

Abdul Razak was charged with abetting them in the murder of the beautiful 28-year-old translator.

Read the Star report HERE.

And in Rocky's Bru HERE.

Well, I'll be!
We all know that this verdict will not go down well with certain quarters.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fatwa On Yoga...

From Bernama:

The National Fatwa Council will come out with a ruling relating to yoga exercise soon.

The announcement would be made by the council's chairman, Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, said Deputy Director-General (Operations) of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) Othman Mustapha.

He told reporters this after opening the two-day seminar on Islamic Jurisprudence and Eternal Islamic Thinking at Universiti Sains Malaysia jointly organised by the Islamic Studies Division of the university's Human Knowledge Study Centre and Jakim here today (Wednesday).

Yesterday, lecturer Prof Zakaria Stapa of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Islamic Studies Centre advised Muslims who have taken up yoga to stop practising it for fear that it could deviate their belief.

It must be such a pressing issue facing the lot of Malaysian Muslims that the National Fatwa Council sees it fit that a decision be made on whether or not yoga will cause them to go astray.

Must be because yoga has its roots in Hindu philosophy?

I thought it's the "nawwaitu" that is important. can't be deviating from your (Islamic) belief if you do yoga. And people do it for fitness and health.
It's quite simple, really. If any Muslim feel uncomfortable about it, then don't do it.
Oh...don't tell me some Muslims approached the council on this....

Ok. I don't do yoga. But one day I may have to because it could be the only suitable form of exercise for me.

My blog sister, MarinaM has her take, HERE.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crossroads And A Changing Umno...

I'm going to throw in a cliche -- our country is at a crossroads.

One knock, one whack in quick succession since March, have hit high profile political leaders -- stakeholders in the power game. And the political landscape of the country is forever changed.

When political titans are locked in battle, many "pelanduk" in the midst, get the stray bullets, the kapak kecik. We, the ordinary folk - though not such innocent bystanders -- have a choice to either be spectators or, simply switch off. Ignore. Be no part of it.
The reality, however, is that in the end, we are still affected. Whether we like it or not.

Since Anwar Ibrahim gained legitimacy to contest in elections, he seemed unstoppable in his quest to wrest the premiership from Abdullah.

Whether or not it is through democratic means is still an issue thrown wide open for debate.

Right now, Anwar is on a hiatus of sorts.

Now that the issue of power transition from Abdullah to his heir-apparent, Najib Abdul Razak has been resolved, we're focussed on Umno's heirarchy because Umno's hierarchy directly affects the power structure of the country.

Yep. Anything that happens in Umno -- the backbone (yes, people, it still is and you'd better believe it) of the BN which is (still) the ruling (federal) government -- will in no uncertain terms have a bearing on the direction the country will take. For now, of course.

We have been witness to the shenanigans of players from either side of the political divide.

And then there's Anwar's passionate politics and (broken) promises, the arrest and detention under the ISA of Malaysia Today editor and popular blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin , Pak Lah's exit plan and Najib's ascension. And now, the rigmarole of Umno elections.

I wish sometimes I can say that because I'm not an Umno member, it does not affect me. I wish I can say, "who cares?".

The truth is that the decision of these 191 Umno divisions as to whom they want to be Umno president and leaders, affects me -- and you. And this bugs me.

You wonder why there is any need for Najib to obtain nominations when the exit plan is already in place. An academic exercise?

In a way it's good (for Najib) to prove real legitimacy. To know that he has support.

So, the way is clear for Najib to win the presidency unchallenged after picking up 106 nominations.
His running mate, Muhyiddin Yasin who is contesting the deputy presidency, appears to be the favourite so far. But the contest for the number 2 post is pretty keen.

Muhyiddin who is International Trade and Industry Minister, was Johor Menteri Besar.

Over the weekend, two Johor divisions nominated Mohd Ali Rustam and Muhammad Muhd Taib. This has already set tongues a-wagging because Johor is Muhyiddin's home state.
Then again, many aren't surprised knowing the intrigue of Johor politics and the intense rivalry among the warlords.

(Johor Baru picked Mohd Ali while Kota Tinggi, Muhammad. Johor Baru is headed by Shahrir Abdul Samad and Kota Tinggi, Syed Hamid Albar.)

The three-cornered contest for the Umno Youth chief post -- a post vacated by Hishammuddin Hussein -- is , without a doubt, exciting .

Leading the fray is Umno Youth exco member Mukhriz Mahathir with 67 nominations. Not far behind are incumbent Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin and former Selangor Menteri Besar Khir Toyo, who each has picked up just about 50 nominations.

Over the weekend, Pekan nominated Mukhriz while Kepala Batas, Khairy.

In the wing's 2004 elections Khairy won the wing's number two post uncontested, much to the chagrin of some of the members.
Khairy being Pak Lah's son-in-law was a factor, coupled with his seeming arrogance.
He was booed in the begininng (of the assembly), lending him a kind of baptism of fire. But he remained unfazed throughout. But before the end of the assembly, he seemed to have warmed up to the delegates. His winding-up speech - displaying much humility -- earned him some brownie points.

Mukhriz garnered the highest number of votes in the Umno Youth exco 2004 elections.

Oh, he now has many detractors for sure -- notably among the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's critics or the anti-Mahathir group(s) in Umno, which are probably the same group supporting Umno president and PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

You know...the "sins" of the father visited on his son. That sort of thing.

Mukhriz has endeared himself to members since the last (party) election (and general election). He tirelessly went around house-to-house meeting the grassroots.

Who wins the Youth leadership will define the role, and thus, the path the wing will take.

Meanwhile, much as you want to steer clear of wanting to know about Umno elections, you can't help but have some interest.

Indeed, we are at a crossroads as changes are taking place in Umno. Of course, many will question whether these are "real changes", in the first place.

As the power-brokers are hard at work, and the major players campaign, we are hopeful that better leaders emerge from this crop.

We, as non-Umno members, are of course, helpless.
Nonetheless, I am reminded of this: we get the leaders we deserve and we deserve the leaders we vote for.

So, here's looking at you, Umno.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Deepavali

To my Malaysian brothers and sisters,

Happy Deepavali.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Nothing Illegal About Istana Mat Deros


SHAH ALAM: The Selangor Government has not initiated any action over the mansion belonging to the late Port Klang assemblyman Datuk Zakaria Md Deros as it has not found any proof of wrongdoing.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said soon after Pakatan Rakyat came into power, a study was carried out on the legal, social and political aspects related to the construction of the mansion in Pandamaran.

He said however until now it had not found any proof of fraud or abuse of power involving the construction of the mansion.

“Whether we agree with it or not, we have to accept that a title for the land (occupied by the mansion) was issued by the previous state government so the occupation of the land is legal.

“We have to study whether any offence was committed in the other aspects of the construction of the mansion before taking any action and we cannot act as we wish,” he told a press conference in the lobby at the Selangor state assembly yesterday.

Khalid said the state government also wanted to do the right thing and not act in haste even though it could have won political mileage by taking action.

He was answering to a challenge issued by former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo to the state government on Tuesday to take action since many Pakatan Rakyat leaders had then slammed the previous government for failing to act.

The controversy began when it was discovered that Zakaria had built his palatial home in a low-cost housing area without submitting building plans to the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) for approval.

Zakaria, who died just days after the general election in March, had also operated an unlicensed satay restaurant built illegally on government reserve land and had not paid assessment for another property for 12 years.

All these occurred while he was an MPK councillor.

What was all the hoo-haa and hullabaloo and ruckus back then , about?

If that is the truth and it is on record....somebody, someone... owes Zakaria's family an apology!

Anwar Is In No Hurry..... bring down the Barisan Nasional-led Federal Government.

Ok. I changed my mind. I thought of not talking politics but I can't resist posting this AP report:

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim acknowledged that he won't be able to bring down the government any time soon but said he is in no hurry to take over given the nation's economic problems.

Anwar had previously claimed that he would get enough ruling party lawmakers to defect to unseat the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by Sept. 16.

However, he missed his self-declared deadline. Anwar has asked Abdullah for a face-to-face meeting to discuss voluntary power transfer, but the prime minister has refused.

Anwar told reporters yesterday he is still aiming for a "peaceful orderly transition" but said his options have diminished. Abdullah also has refused to call a special Parliament session to hold a vote on confidence in his leadership, he said.

Anwar said this amounted to the opposition being denied "constitutional legal options" to bring down the government.

"We have lost two options ... (but) there's 10 to go. ... We are working on it," Anwar said. He has refused to reveal the names of lawmakers purportedly willing to defect, saying they will be subject to coercion if their identities are revealed before the time is right.

"We are not in a terrible hurry. Particularly in the present economic downturn we need to engage with government leaders to ensure that they take the right measures," he said.

Malaysia's stock market has plunged 37 percent this year amid the global financial crisis. The government also expects its economic growth forecast of 5.4 percent for 2009 to dip, partly because of lower demand for key exports such as palm oil and crude oil. Some analysts predict growth of only 3.4 percent.

Anwar's People's Alliance coalition won an unprecedented 82 seats in the 222-member Parliament in March elections, gaining ground as the government's popularity plummeted amid racial disputes, a weak economy and corruption accusations.

Anwar refused to set a new deadline to topple the government but said it will be done "with an element of surprise."

He dismissed suggestions that his goal was becoming tougher to reach after Abdullah recently announced he will hand over power in March to his deputy Najib Razak, who commands much greater loyalty from ruling party bosses.

Anwar said Najib's position is shaky amid accusations of abuse of power.

"This is the first time in history where you have a prime minister designate hounded and haunted with serious allegations," Anwar said.

The most recent accusations involve the purchase of military helicopters while Najib was defense minister. Najib has denied suggestions that the prices were inflated.

Anwar said his opposition alliance, if it takes power, would curb expensive projects and cut operating expenditures, channeling more funds instead to develop education, public transportation and housing.

Fatwa On Tomboys

...and lesbians too, I presume.

So, can I put the issue of Umno elections aside for today?

Caught this one:

The National Fatwa Council has ruled that it is forbidden for girls (women) to dress and behave like boys (men)
Islam forbids it.

Its chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Shukor Husin said in Kota Bharu yesterday that the decision was prompted by recent developments i.e cases of young women inclined to behave like men and indulging in homosexuality.

He advised parents to "stop their children from indulging in disruptive activities that are against Islamic teachings".

(Source: Bernama)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nominations For Ku Li, Anyone? Anyone?

I'm just wondering. You know, just wondering . Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah -- Umno veteran and Gua Musang division chief -- has not got a single nomination yet.

Will he ever?

Deputy president Najib Abdul Razak has already got 65, way past the required minimum (58). Very foregone conclusion that Najib will win the post uncontested.

Ku Li, at the start of the power transition issue, had offered to contest the party's number one post.

Yeah. Who are we kidding..

I guess it is a done deal.

Azalina Offers To Contest the Wanita No 2...

Azalina Othman Said has announced her intention to contest the wing's No. 2 post.

She has so far received six nominations. She needs a minimum of 29 to contest the Wanita Umno deputy head's post.

Azalina said that if she has enough
nominations, she "will fight". She announced this yesterday at her ministry's 'Zoom! Malaysia Aidilfitri' open house.

But if she cannot get enough nominations, then she will contest for a supreme council post.

Azalina has to do a lot of groundwork to get support. She might already have, so we'll just have to see.
Her stiff rival for the post is Kuala Kangsar Wanita Umno division head Kamilia Ibrahim who has already got 21 nominations.

Azalina was the founder-leader of Puteri Umno.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shahrizat's Dilemma - Will I Or Will I Not?

The Wanita deputy chief has 40 nominations to qualify her to contest the number one post.

Of course, logically, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil should take on her chief, Rafidah Aziz. Besides, there is mounting pressure from members for her to do so. But will she?

I seriously doubt it.

Firstly, there's the ladies' agreement and understanding i.e. the transition plan for Rafidah to step down in June next year, and for Shahrizat to take over. Graceful and nice. No contest necessary. No unpleasantness.

Rafidah has been Wanita Umno chief for 24 years. In the last Cabinet shake-up after the March general election, she was dropped as International Trade and Industry Minister.

Shahrizat who lost her Lembah Pantai constituency to first-timer Keadilan's Nurul Izzah Anwar, was also dropped from the new Cabinet line-up .
But, Shahrizat who was Women, Family and Community Development Minister, was appointed special adviser to the PM for Women and Social Development Affairs.

A couple of months ago, when bombarded with questions on whether she would still contest for the top Wanita post (notwithstanding the transition plan), Shahrizat made it clear that she would not.

Then, the Umno elections were postponed to March next year. This somewhat scuttle Wanita's own agenda.
Several Wanita leaders felt that circumstances had now changed and the Rafidah-Shahrizat transition plan seemed to have been overtaken by events.

It now makes more sense to hasten the transition plan.

Still, Shahrizat maintained that she would not take on Rafidah.

Shahrizat, like most political leaders, is surrounded by allies and supporters. Some well-meaning, some not so. Some, very impatient.

They, of course, want her to take over from Rafidah ahead of the transition plan. So they got her some nominations, more than enough to qualify her to contest. Rafidah received 81.

I don't think that Shahrizat will challenge her chief.
There is no need to. But the message is clear. There is pressure in the wing for changes to be effected.

Rafidah and Shahrizat know that there's more than one way to skin a cat to hasten the transition without a contest.

I'd go for a revised transition plan. Some negotiations between Rafidah and Shahrizat.

And everyone will be happy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pak Lah Gives Way...

Umno president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will not defend his post in the Umno elections in March.

The PM will go on a two-month leave before handing over the premiership to his successor, presumably, deputy Umno president and Deputy PM, Najib Abdul Razak.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Umno's Amazing Race...

Even the dizzying pace of Aidilfitri has not unsettled me, nor has it made me so totally detached from the goings-on in Umno/national politics. No sir.

My ears tingle during Aidilfitri chatter. By design or otherwise, the chatter invariably veers towards making guesses whether or not Pak Lah will announce that he's stepping down. And this sparks heated debate on why he would or wouldn't. Most times, innuendos and unsavouriness and gossip dominate discussions.

How we so easily forget that this is the holy month as we fill our chatter with some unsubstantiated allegations! Eesh eesh eesh!

Looks like Pak Lah has until Wednesday to announce his decision whether to defend his Umno presidency or hand it over to his deputy, Najib Abdul Razak (before the Umno divisions begin holding their annual meetings on Thursday).

Well...we can safely speculate that Pak Lah will announce his retirement. And Najib will get the nominations, I'm sure. The mood is palpable already.

Next question: Will anyone challenge Najib for the presidency? Or it's understood that the presidency should remain unchallenged?

By convention, the Umno president automatically becomes the Prime Minister..

We all know that Umno veteran and Gua Musang division chief Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has already openly offered his candidacy. Whether or not he gets enough nominations from the divisions, remains to be seen.

Thus far, there has been no other who has openly offered himself for nomination to contest the party's top post.

What's interesting and seems to have taken a life of its own is the contest for the deputy presidency. Suddenly, it's crowded with favourite Muhyiddin Yassin who is tipped heavily as candidate, surrounded by wannabes.

Well, alright then. Not all can be dismissed as wannabes. There are a couple of REAL contenders there.

The 61 year-old party vice-president has earned the distinction of being the one with balls, spine and gall, for having been the first Umno leader/member to push for an earlier power transition, ahead of the set 2010 pact.

He opened the way for the revised decision -- for Pak Lah to step down next March.

Still, Muhyiddin has not quite made any commitment - openly or on the quiet -- whether or not to go for the number two post.

The Umno deputy president is, by tradition, the choice for the Deputy Prime Minister's post.

Muhyiddin will find no problem in garnering more than enough nominations to get his candidacy. You can count on that.

So obviously, Umno is looking at a Najib-Muhyiddin tag team. For the moment or until such time when all the wannabes decide to bow down and settle for a slot in the vice-presidents' race.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and supreme council member Zahid Hamidi has offered himself. Some say, he's there to put a spanner in the works.

"Buat kacau...pull the rug from under Najib and Muhyiddin" or something to that effect. Can Zahid do that?

Well, his people say that he's going for broke. And they're right. Because if he loses, he's got to pack up. Then again, miracles happen in Umno.

Malacca Chief Minister and party vice-president Mohd Ali Rustam and Pulai member of Parliament Nur Jazlan Mohamed have also offered themselves for the deputy presidency.

Meanwhile, party information chief and Rural Development Minister Muhammad Muhd Taib has indicated that he is interested too. Weelll....

And then, there are Foreign Minister Rais Yatim and former Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Isa Samad.

But let's not get deluded. We'll have to see whether or not they'll get the required number of nominations to qualify or, whether it's just hot air for now and in the end, some of them will back off.

Just wait...with bated breath obviously for the show, I mean, the race to really begin.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Sun Still Shines....

The last day of Ramadhan, we left Bapak's house way past midnight. Funny...but it is still Bapak's house to me. Or to Adel, Shaira and their cousins, it's Datuk's house.

Way past midnight because of the customary odds and ends, the Raya eve rituals. Sounds like a whole lot to do but, honestly, because there are just so many of us, the labour is always pretty decently divided.

And as always (since Mak and then Kak Piah's passing) Kak Olin did all the cooking -- the dishes for our traditional Raya fare of lontong.

It was not easy to feel down and sombre at Ramadhan's end. Neither was it easy to forget that this Eid, a person so important and riveting to all of us, is gone.

But, it's the togetherness that lends so much meaning to the occasion. Always has been.

The haunting -- always haunting to me -- call of takbir on first of Syawal reverberated through all of last night.
It seemed more palpable this time that I was momentarily shaken and gripped the edge of my bed. I sat and wept...but only a little.
Never happened before.
So quickly I dried my tears lest Adel and Shaira caught me.

Dawn prayers needed to be performed before sunrise.
Already fierce shades of amber were splashing in the dark sky.

This Eid, I am an orphan. A "yatim piatu". In mid-life, I am an orphan.

Are they all feeling the same? I found myself asking this question.

But there was no time to ponder.

Got the kids ready to visit Bapak, Mak and Kak Piah at the Kiara cemetery. Kak Eda is at the USJ cemetery.

Several times, I blinked my eyes. Bapak, bapak, bapak. Deal with it. He's gone. Gone. He's six feet under, remember?

I remember. I know. I know.

Yes we all know.

They-- my siblings -- are clever. They always make their visit to the cemetery on the eve of Raya to avoid the crowd on Aidilfitri. They know that this place would be crowded and needed to avoid the crowd.

Perhaps, they needed the quiet to recite the Yassin and offer prayers to Bapak, Mak and Kak Piah.

They needed the privacy . They needed to be alone.

Me? I don't fancy crowded cemeteries either. But I make my visits just after dawn on the first of Syawal.

Bapak's grave has somewhat "settled" which means that soon we will be making arrangements to have the "stone" built.

It would be a simple one, we all agreed. Not the fancy granite or marble.

"You know that's not Bapak... he wouldn't have it."

It'll be made of wood. Cengal wood. Nothing fancy.

At Bapak's -- there I go again -- at our family home in Section 16, everyone was already gathered to begin our Eid celebration.

Kak Olin was preparing the "lodeh" which -- due to its "santan" content -- has to be cooked only on Raya morning.

Once that was over and done with, we gathered in the living room for the "ampun, maaf" ritual. And for the kids, the giving of "duit raya".

Without Bapak as the focal point, our eldest sibling, Kak Ton had to take his place, with Abang Med by her side, and then Kak Olin and so on in order of seniority.

It was a very emotional occasion.

But, sometimes, I think we surprise ourselves. We were under control. A little display of emotion was very much excused.

Oh, why not? Let there be tears. Just don't overdo it.

How wonderful that while we are still in mourning, we are able to celebrate the spirit of Eid.

Bapak's room is brightly-lit. The televison is always on until bed-time.

You'll not only find the kids lounging in his room, or lying on his bed.

It is aidilfitri. It is another glorious and blessed month.

Yes, we miss our beloved Bapak. No words can describe our sense of loss.

As someone said: "the experience of grief is a great gift....for the heart that breaks is just opening again."

Bapak is in us. We need courage and strength to keep his memory alive.

So, for us....the sun will never cease to shine...