Wednesday, December 31, 2008

May We All Have A Better New Year!

How time flies so quickly!

So many things happened this year. Good , bad and sad.

I'll remember 2008 as the year I lost my father. Al Fatehah. You're in our heart and our memory, Bapak. Always.

But, as they say, as cliched as this may sound, but it is must go on. And we must move on.

Let's hope 2009 will be better. Who knows, miracles do happen.....



Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuanku Muhriz Is The New Yam Tuan Of Negri Sembilan

Tuanku Muhriz Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir, 60, has been proclaimed the 11th Yang DiPertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan.

The announcement was made Undang Luak Sungai Ujong, Datuk Klana Petra Datuk Mubarak Dohak at the Throne Room, Istana Besar Seri Menanti on Monday.

The proclamation of the 11th Yang Di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan was made following the demise of Tuanku Ja’afar ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

The appointment of the Yang Dipertuan Besar was made according to the “Adat Perpatih” of Negri Sembilan.

Tuanku Muhriz was appointed as the new Yang Di-Pertuan Besar from among the “Putera Yang Empat” (the Four Princes) in accordance with the state constitution in a simple ceremony here Monday.

The other three princes -- Tunku Laksamana Tunku Naquiyuddin Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar, Tunku Muda of Serting Tunku Imran Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar and Tunku Panglima Besar Tunku Nazaruddin Ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar -- were also present.

On Sunday, the four Undangs (ruling chiefs) namely Undang Luak Sungai Ujong, Undang Luak Johol, Undang Luak Jelebu and Undang Luak Rembau together with the Tunku Besar of Tampin held a conference behind closed doors to elect the new Yang Di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan.

Born on Jan 14 1948, Tuanku Muhriz received his early education at Sekolah Menengah King George V, Seremban and continued at the Aldenhem School in Britain.

Tuanku Muhriz obtained his LLB from the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Tuanku Muhriz,is the only son out of six siblings of the late Tuanku Munawir Tuanku Abdul Rahman with his consort Tunku Ampuan Durah Binti Tuanku Besar Burhanuddin.

Tuanku Muhriz is married to Tengku Datuk Aishah Rohani Tengku Besar Mahmud of Terengganu and they have three children: Tunku Ali Redhauddin Muhriz, 31, Tunku Zain Al’Abidin Muhriz, 26, and Tunku Alif Hussein Saifuddin Al-Amin, 23.

In 1967, Tuanku Ja’afar, who was Tuanku Muhriz’s uncle, was elected by the Undangs as the 10th Yang Di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan over him due to his youth after his father Tuanku Munawir Tuanku Abdul Rahman passed away.

Tuanku Muhriz is a businessman and a director of Bangkok Bank. -- Bernama

Israeli Show Of Might In Gaza..

...and going by what Israeli leaders are saying, there's no stopping the attacks in Gaza until Hamas bleed and is brought to their knees. The Israeli offensive which began with surprise rocket attacks -- the Israeli version of “shock and awe” -- on Saturday, has already killed hundreds.

What a bloody start to the new year for the people in Gaza.

Israel has said that the military operation in Gaza is a response to Hamas' rocket attacks in southern Israel and is therefore forcing Hamas to end its rocket barrages and military buildup.

But middle-east political analysts say that Israel's motive is "to expunge the ghost of its flawed 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and re-establish Israeli deterrence".

Israel has a rep to protect. And Hamas and Palestinians and everyone else had better know that.

That display of power in Gaza is for the benefit of Israel's enemies who seem, of late, to be less afraid of it than they once were. Now, that's been worrying Israel.

A news analysis in the New York Times quoted Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, remarking about the weekly government meeting that he attended.

“In the cabinet room today there was an energy, a feeling that after so long of showing restraint we had finally acted,” he was quoted to have said.

Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University was also quoted as saying that that energy reflected the deep feeling among average Israelis that the country had to regain its deterrent capacity.

There has been a nagging sense of uncertainty in the last couple years of whether anyone is really afraid of Israel anymore. The concern is that in the past — perhaps a mythical past — people didn’t mess with Israel because they were afraid of the consequences. Now the region is filled with provocative rhetoric about Israel the paper tiger. This operation is an attempt to re-establish the perception that if you provoke or attack you are going to pay a disproportionate price.”

Granted that Hamas had fired rockets into southern Israel. (But let's not start debating the Palestinian offensive). Israel's response was disproportionate in its force..

So, will the violence end? Is it in someone's interest that the violence continues? And if there is a will to end it, who will be one to end it?

Meanwhile, read this. And this.

And may there be peace on earth!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Selamat Menyambut Maal Hijrah!

This is the first day of the Muslim new year and, in this country, it is also called Awal Muharram.

It is also to commemorate Hijrah or the migration of Prophet Muhammad from Mekkah to Madinah in the year 622 A.D.

Celebrating Maal Hijrah means starting the new year by seeking blessings.
Muslims recite the Quran and "zikir" on the last day of Zulhijjah which is tonight.
It is most blessed and rewarding to fast on the first of Muharram.

Fasting on certain days of Muharram is most encouraged. According to a hadith, after Ramadan, the fasts of Muharram have the greatest excellence.

Of course, any day is a good day to do good. But for Muslims, the 10th day of Muharram or the day of Ashura holds great historical significance.

Fasting (the fast of Ashura), helping orphans and feeding the hungry (including those who are fasting) on this day gives immense rewards.

"On this day (of Ashura): Allah SWT accepted the repentance of Adam after his exile from Paradise; Allah SWT saved Nuh and his companions in the ark; Allah extinguished the fire in which Ibrahim was thrown by Nimrod; And Allah spoke directly to Musa and gave him the Commandments. On this same 10th of Muharram, Ayyub was restored to health (from leprosy); Yusuf was reunited with his father Ya’qub ; Yunus was taken out from the belly of the fish; and the sea was divided as the nation of israel was delivered from captivity and Pharoah’s army was destroyed. ‘Ashura is also the day when the kingdom of Sulaiman was restored; Isa was raised to Jannah; and Sayyidina Husayn (grandson of Prophet Muhammad SAW) achieved the honor of Martyrdom."

I wish Muslims a blessed Maal Hijrah and everyone, a glorious new year (1430). Ameen.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Have a very happy Christmas, everyone!

Go easy on the cakes, cookies and stuffings!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hujan Emas Di Negeri Orang...

...lebih baik hujan batu di negeri sendiri.
How apt this adage is for us, and for different reasons.

Our annual "balik kampung" trip to Singapore is probably icing on top of our cake! It is usually an Aidilfitri affair except for this year because most of the kids -- my nephews and nieces -- were sitting for their national (UPSR, PMR and SPM) exams. Our visit this year had to be resheduled for Aidil Adha when everyone was "free" and it coincided with the school year-end holidays.

This means that there were no all-day Hari Raya rounds of visiting our uncles, aunts and senior cousins. Therefore, no feasts.
This was the fourth consecutive year that we had opted to stay at a hotel on Orchard Road, and not at our aunt's place.
This is because our aunt and her husband who are living with their daughter, are both quite unwell. So we really did not want to trouble them, and we had to go through great length to explain to our aunt why it was near impossible for the lot of us to stay at her place.

We know Cik Ah. She'd insist on cooking every meal -- from breakfast to dinner -- for us.

We felt she was just too frail to be doing this for us. We see her get older and more frail with each passing year.

But we made a deal with her -- we'd let her prepare a feast for us every annual visit.

"That's the least I can do," she had told Nina.

So, for the past four visits, hers was the first house we'd gather at. Depending on our arrival time, we'd either have brunch, lunch or dinner at her place.

It was no different last week when the busload of us descended on Bedok, Singapura.

And what a lovely lunch it was.

We decided to stay in Singapura a day longer than we usually did. This was because the kids had been complaining that our visits had always been too short.

"Tak puas-lah," they had lamented.

It was great to stay a day longer. Besides, our niece, Saleha (a grandaughter of my late eldest aunt) was holding a "tahlil" for Bapak and our family members who had passed on.
We had also wanted to visit my dad's surviving brother whose health was declining.

Saleha made a point to have us all for tea or "makan" everytime we visited. It was an occasion to also get everybody together, including those we were unable to meet.
It was wonderful, as usual.

But the downside to our visit this time around was the fact that we had to have our meals around Orchard Road.

In the past, we would have our day revolve around our visits to our relative's homes. Which means that, we'd have our meals taken care of. So, when we were out shopping, we'd just grab snacks here and there. No problem.

How we had taken this for granted. We never actually thought about this. Until last week.

As we were out "traversing" Orchard Road, we realized that we had to have our meals -- essentially lunch and dinner -- within the vicinity.

I am convinced that there are not enough eateries in Orchard Road. Most of the restaurants were crowded and we had to wait in queue like we had never stood in queue before.

It's not as though we could go to another place when the place we had gone to was crowded. It was full house with a long queue at the other eateries. I remember the food court in Paragon was just brimming with people that it was better to wait in line -- like 20 minutes -- than to look for another makan place elsewhere.

The one marked difference between shopping complexes in Singapura and Malaysia is the availability of and accessibility to eateries.

Imagine, queuing up at Swensen's? Well I never....

Of course, the first night we were there, we had our dinner at Carousel's in the Royal Plaza on Scotts. It was a buffet. Lovely. $55.50 per person. So, all you can eat and it was worth every cent. But, every night there? Don't think so.

That was why, my niece, Marisssa was already missing "shopping in KL".

And when we got to KL on our way home, the kids waved so hard at Mid Valley Mega Mall.

"Ooooh. I love you Mid Valley," screamed Shaira. And not that she is a Mid Valley regular. But she was remembering the oh-so-wonderful varieties of eating places there.

"I can't wait to go to the Mamak shop," Adel said, breathless.

"And all the makan places at Ikano and One Utama," chipped in Amalina.

Oh yes indeed. It maybe golden raindrops across the causeway......but there's nothing like home.

That's where the heart is. And will always be.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Salam Dari Temasek...


I am now in Singapore with my family -- children, siblings, nieces and nephews -- visiting relatives.

I shall try to blog...

Maju-lah Singa...I mean Malaysia...:-)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Salam Aidil adha

Selamat Hari Raya Haji to my Muslim brothers and sisters.

Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!

Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik. Labbaik, La Shareek Laka, Labbaik. Innal Hamdah, Wan Nematah, Laka wal Mulk, La Shareek Laka!
(Here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners)

Aidil Adha is the feast of sacrifice which commemorates the willingness Prophet Abraham SA to sacrifice his first-born, Ishmael, for God.
Aidil Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Zul-Hijjah.

Some of us can celebrate Aidil Adha with our loved ones. In safety and comfort. For victims of the landslide in Bukit Antarabangsa, it will be a very sad one.

Let's hope that the situation gets better for the residents of the housing estate.
Following the disaster early Saturday morning, the main road to the area was cut off.

A temporary tactical bridge has now been laid across a monsoon drain to connect landslide affected Taman Bukit Mewah to Riverdale Park nearby. This will enable the residents to move in and out of the area.

In a related developmnent, the Star reported that many of the residents (numbering some 3,000) of four areas in Bukit Antarabangsa have refused an order for them to move immediately as they are in landslide-danger areas.

Selangor chief police officer Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said the four areas are the Impian Selatan Condominium, Taman Bukit Mewah, Jalan 6A Taman Bukit Jaya and Jalan 9 Taman Wangsa Ukay.

DCP Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said that despite repeated pleas, some residents still continued to defy the calls and would not leave their homes.

Continue reading HERE.

Read Rocky's Bru on the Selangor Red Crescent's appeal....HERE.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Zaid Won't Be Joining The Opposition For Now...

Zaid Ibrahim, who was sacked by Umno two days ago, will not be joining any political party (i.e the Opposition) for now but does not rule out doing so later.

(Read more Here)

And there's no way he's ever going to consider rejoining Umno even if there was a change of heart in the leadership.

Zaid, former de facto Law Minister, was sacked from Umno for attending the opening of Parti Keadilan Rakyat's annual national congress in Shah Alam over the weekend.

But he reckons that he was sacked not "simply" for that but "because many leaders in Umno are not comfortable" with his views and stand on many issues.

He claims to be a "victim of double standards in Umno" and that he had not been given the opportunity to be heard.

He is also not aware of any specific violation that he had committed.

Zaid said this at a Press conference at the Tropicana Club in Petaling Jaya.

(*Zaid resigned as Minister in the PM's Department and senator on Sept 17 after he disagreed with the government’s decision to detain a journalist, a blogger and a Pakatan Member of Parliament under the Internal Security Act (ISA).)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mumbai Terror : Searching For Answers & Pointing Fingers

As Indian security officials investigate the attack on Mumbai, India has already blamed "some elements in Pakistan" for the massacre that left some 174 people dead.

India said the 10 militants who rampaged through its financial capital were not only from Pakistan but were also controlled from within that country.

India has blamed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group, who oppose Indian rule in Kashmir, for the attacks.

If Pakistan fails to act swiftly against those responsible, India has threatened to pull out of a nearly five-year-old peace process between the nuclear rivals.

Islamad has denied that"Pakistani elements" were behind the violence and has called on India to share evidence.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi avered:
"Our hands are clean, we have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of because this government feels that good neighbourly relations with India are in the interests of Pakistan."

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari told CNN that he had been given no tangible proof that the surviving gunman was a Pakistani, and that he doubted the Indian claim.

Naturally such suggestions and accusations are threatening to further escalate the already tense relations between the two countries.

And with this latest terror attacks, the US-initiated and sponsored war on terror must be stepped up, for sure.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Military Aircraft To Fly Back Stranded Malaysians

From Bernama:

The Malaysian embassy in Bangkok is arranging a special military flight to carry Malaysians stranded in Bangkok following the closure of the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports in the capital by anti-government protesters since Monday.

An embassy official said that since the seats are limited on this flight, those who can afford commercial flights are advised to fly with them.

"For the special military flight, all Malaysians in need are advised to call the embassy's hotline number for the latest information and coordination. We will inform soon on the departure of the military aircraft ," he said.

In view of the uncertainty in Bangkok, the embassy has opened a round-the-clock operations room. The numbers to contacted are (+66) 2629 6808 or (+66) 2629 6800 ext. 4106.

The official said those with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) tickets should contact the airline as it would operate a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Utapao, near Pattaya, on Friday to bring back hundreds of its passengers stranded in Bangkok.

MAS area manager for Thailand A. Vijayakumaran said two more flights would be operated on Saturday, using the Airbus aircraft wit h passenger capacity for 290 people, compared with the normal capacity of 144.

Thailand's Department of Civil Aviation has agreed to allow airlines to use the airport, which is located about 140km from Bangkok, following the closure of the Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports.

Vijayakumaran said the MH782 flight on Friday would leave Kuala Lumpur at 3.15pm and arrive here at 16.20pm (Thai time), before the return MH783 departs at 5.10pm and lands in KLIA at 8.15pm.

On Saturday, MAS will operate two flights, starting with MH784 at 9.10am and arriving here at 10.15am (Thai time) and departing (MH785) Utapao at 11.10am.

The second flight (MH788) will depart KLIA at 12.25pm and arrive at 1.30pm while the return flight (MH789) is scheduled to leave at 2.15pm (Thai time) and arrive at KLIA at 5.25pm.

For enquiries, passengers can call MAS office in Bangkok at (+66) 2263 0572 or (+66) 2263 0565 up to 71 (hunting line), as well as MAS' 24-hour Call Centre at 1 300 88 3000 in Malaysia.

Karpal Demands Nazri's Resignation

DAP chairman Karpal Singh has demanded the resignation of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz for misleading the Dewan Rakyat and the people.

He said Nazri had maintained that information on the pension received by the judges sacked during the 1988 crisis had never been disclosed to the public.

"It is indeed difficult to comprehend how Nazri could say that the provision for the pension to these judges was not privy to the public and that for 20 years, no one knew that pension had been paid," he said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday (Thursday).

He said the The Star on Oct 7, 1988 had quoted the report of the five-member judicial tribunal which among others stated that the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong had consented for two of the three judges to be given pension.

The two judges were Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawan Teh and Datuk George Seah.

Tun Salleh Abbas was tried separately. Three other judges -- Tan Sri Mohamed Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader and Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh -- had been reinstated.

The 140-page tribunal report was made public by the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman on the order of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

On Nov 6, Nazri said in the Dewan Rakyat that all six judges were not sacked but advised to take early retirement. He later admitted that that was not the case as upon checks, he knew they were given pension on the basis of compassion.


MIC Welcomes Pak Lah's Yoga Statement

MIC has welcomed and thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for his statement on the yoga ruling by the National Fatwa Council.

MIC secretary-general Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said Abdullah's statement was an explanation acceptable to all parties.

"I hope with the explanation, there will no longer be disagreements or conflicting statements on yoga practice," he said in a statement here Thursday.

He said MIC considered the prime minister's explanation as sufficient and the issue should not be prolonged.

On Saturday, the National Fatwa Council ruled that systematic yoga was haram (forbidden in Islam) as it involved chanting of mantra and acts of worship which are against Islamic teachings.

On Wednesday, Abdullah said Muslims who performed yoga exercise with no elements of worship could continue and the non-Muslims should not feel hurt or slighted by the fatwa as it was only applicable to Muslims.

(Source: Bernama)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

And Closer To Home In Bangkok...

A friend's husband on a working visit to Bangkok was not able to come home. I think, given another occasion, another circumstance, my friend would not take too kindly to such sudden change in return-home plan. I imagine she'd fly to Bangkok on the next available flight just to be sure he's telling the truth.

But she's been keeping up with the news in Bangkok and had been so worried. In fact, it did occur to her that the situation in Bangkok might worsen.

Already , the besieged Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has declared a state of emergency at Bangkok's two commercial airports amid rumours that the army was plotting a coup to end mass protests that have left thousands of travelers stranded for two straight days.

The army has staged 18 coups in Thailand's history, the most recent in 2006 when it toppled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Somchai's brother-in-law.

Man, don't we smell a coup?

*Coup or no coup, and circumstances aside, another friend remarked, with a mischievous wink: "Of all places to be holed up...Bangkok!"

Mumbai Siege

Just a week ago, a close friend invited us to visit Mumbai.

"The place is really coming up...", he enthused.

We were not keen on Mumbai. Delhi is "nicer", we said.
Now, we really really are not keen on Mumbai. Such terrible news about Mumbai. More than 100 people are dead and injured after the city was attacked. It is carnage there. Dozens are still held hostage.
An extremist group has claimed responsibility.

It's horrid enough knowing what happened. I hope there are no one I know among the dead and injured.

Here's the latest:

Indian commandos freed hostages from Mumbai's Taj Mahal hotel today but faced continued resistance in other parts of the city from Islamist militants still holding dozens of hostages and demanding the release of extremists held in Indian jails.

The commandos stormed two buildings in the late afternoon, seizing the lobby of the Oberoi hotel and taking positions around a tower block where a number of militants were believed to be holed up. Indian television reported that a number of people had been freed from the Oberoi.

The gunmen arrived in India's financial capital by boat last night before fanning out to launch an audacious series of attacks on luxury hotels, restaurants, a rail terminus and an ultra-orthodox Jewish centre, killing more than 100 people. (source: The Guardian).

Assalamualaikum, This Is Mikaeel.....

Otherwise known as Michael Jackson, American pop star.

Here's from a foreign online news:

According to The Sun, the 50-year-old singer converted to Islam at a friend’s mansion in Los Angeles.

The report said that Jackson pledged his allegiance to the Holy Quran at a small ceremony. Jackson, wearing a small hat, sat on the floor after an Imam was summoned to officiate at the conversion ceremony.

Jackson decided to adopt Islam while recording a song at the home of his friend, where a Jehovah’s witness was summoned to help him through the ceremony.

The pop star was reportedly convinced by his producer and songwriter friends David Wharnsby and Phillip Bubal to convert to Islam.

A close source revealed, "They began talking to him about their beliefs and how they thought they had become better people after they converted.

Michael soon began warming to the idea. An Imam was summoned from a mosque and Michael went through the Shahada, which is the Muslim declaration of Islamic belief.” Jackson changed his religion days before he was due to appear at the London High Court where he has been sued by an Arab Sheikh.

The singer, who mostly ventures out with a mask, is due to give evidence on Monday in a GBP 4.7 million lawsuit filed by Prince Abdulla Al-Khalif of Bahrain for defaulting on an exclusive recording contract.

Well...his brother, Germaine converted to Islam some time ago.

And Michael has chosen the name of one of God's angels.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Now I Can Do Yoga.....

I'm almost a fitness fanatic. Aerobics, Qi Gong, Pilates, jogging, Zumba, gym work-out. belly-dancing, hip-hop, salsa -- done them all and am still doing some.

Now Yoga....I have always been interested in this form of exercise but never ever got around to registering in any Yoga class. So many people have encouraged me to do Yoga for its physical benefits.
There are many Yoga centres and I never tire of finding out one that is suitable for me....

Years ago in the 70s, I followed a TV programme on Yoga. I'd follow the exercises and enjoyed doing them because they were so soothing and gentle yet helped firmed up the body.

When I closed my eyes, it was just to rest my body. To calm down my senses.

I have several books on Yoga. Some were given to me as gifts. Some I bought. I am aware of the origins of Yoga and the meditative and spiritual elements, though I am no expert.

I have always believed that there is nothing "haram" with the physical element of Yoga. Frankly, I am sure it is the same with other Muslims. I was (and still am) aware of the un-Islamic elements of Yoga. I am sure other Muslims must be too. I believe that Muslims who do Yoga, exclude these elements.

So, now that the National Fatwa Council has confirmed my own belief about the physical element of Yoga, I am pleased that I can do Yoga without any doubt or skepticism. I had none, in the first place. But I feel vindicated.

My concern is that if and when the respective State Islamic councils decide to adopt the "fatwa' (edict), some overzealous and unthinking officers will start a "crackdown" of Yoga centres and round up Muslims.

That will be really crappy and I fervently hope that it will not happen. Still, I am pre-empting any such decision -- I firmly protest any such crackdown.

When the fatwa council announced that it was going to issue a fatwa on Yoga, I must admit that I was one of those who thought the whole issue was laughable. Also insulting to me as a Muslim. Am I that weak or stupid to go astray, or what?

And after Yoga, what next, I thought.

I thought it was unnecessary because I was firm in my own belief about Yoga. So I dismissed the council's action as trivial. You know, making a mountain of a molehill.

In a way, I am glad now that the council has confirmed that it is okay to do Yoga -- minus the spiritual elements, of course.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"My Word Is My Honour...."

Those were words uttered by Wanita Umno vice chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil to the media after the wing's June leadership transition plan was announced in August.

She had repeatedly given the assurance that she would not challenge Rafidah Aziz for the leadership. She would also not accept any nominations to contest the post.

"What happened to this?, " Wanita Umno chief Rafidah Aziz seemed to be asking today.

Yesterday, Shahrizat who obtained 73 nominations, ended speculations when she announced in a two-paragraphed Press statement that she will be challenging her boss e in March.

Rafidah issued an 11-paged statement explaining the situation. She also expressed her disappointment that the transition plan was being disputed and rejected three months after she made the announcement.

She said she appreciated and respected the nominations she received from 117 divisions.

"Ever since I made the announcement, none among the executive council members, or those outside, has questioned it.

"In fact, Datuk Seri Shahrizat herself, either during four-eye meetings, in executive council (meetings), and in news conferences, has repeatedly affirmed that she will not contest the post even if she is nominated, that she will abide by the transition plan, that she will abide by the advice of top party leaders.

"In fact, she said, she would keep her words, that "my word is my honour'. All these have been reported in the media," she said.

Rafidah also said that she had no reason to believe that there would be turmoil after the completion of the nomination process.

Read the rest of the Bernama report HERE.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rafidah Will Defend Her Post...

The writing was on the wall.

Last week when Wanita Umno vice-president Shahrizat Abdul Jalil called for the wing's leadership transition plan to be brought forward from June to March, it was clear that all was not well at the top (of Wanita Umno).

The transition plan was agreed to by the Wanita exco in August.

As expected, this afternoon Shahrizat announced her decision to challenge Rafidah for the number one post.

Rafidah told 3540 Jalan Sudin today that she will be defending her post.

"It is not a question of whether or not I am accepting the challenge....there is a challenge and I will have to defend my post.

"We will meet di gelanggang in March," she said.

Rafidah said she was shocked by Shahrizat's "about-turn" because Shahrizat had given assurances to her, the Wanita exco and to the public that she had no intention of contesting the top post.

The transition plan was to ensure a smooth transfer of leadership in June.

Shahrizat's decision has now upset this plan. Also, Wanita Exco member Kamilia Ibrahim has announced her decision to contest the vice-chief post.

Looks like she has won the post uncontested.
Asked about criticisms that the plan was neither provided in the Umno constitution, nor was it an Umno practice, Rafidah said that was inconsequential.

"Just because it is not in the party constitution or not an Umno practice does not mean that it cannot be done. The point is, we all agreed to it."

On concerns that handing power to Shahrizat in June, three months after the party elections would render Shahrizat just an "acting chief", Rafidah said she had reassured Shahrizat that "if you are the leader, you are the leader, acting or not."

In other words, being an acting chief does not have a bearing on one's leadership.

Rafidah said (the late Tun) Hussein Onn was acting Umno president for more than one year.

Rafidah's supporters have questioned Shahrizat's late decision, accusing her of denying other very able and capable leaders from contesting.

"Why didn't she oppose the plan from the beginning? What kind of leader is this? She said repeatedly that her word is her honour.....why this?" a Wanita leader asked.

Shahrizat's supporters have hinted that Rafidah was selfish and was leaving Shahrizat with little choice but to contest.

The Wanita chief said that she had explained to the exco that she needed six months to strengthen not just the wing but the Barisan Nasional Wanita machinery.

"After that, I will step down. I have already explained. It was accepted".

Rafidah said BN lost five states and she needed to help lay the groundwork for the next general election.

"You know I have nothing to lose," she remarked, adding that she had been looking forward to retiring from active party politics.

The former International Trade and Industry Minister is Kuala Kangsar Member of Parliament. She holds no Cabinet post currently.

Shahrizat lost her Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat to Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Nurul Izzah Anwar in the last election. She was made Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for Women and Social Development Affairs.

Asked if she would hand over the leadership to Shahrizat in June if she wins in the March elections, Rafidah said:"If I win, then I will have to lead the wing for another three years."

Well, there goes the Iron Lady's retirement plans....

Read the Star on Shahrizat's decision to contest....HERE

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Heated And Hot In Wanita Umno (Part 2).

Wanita Umno chief Rafidah Aziz will face her number two, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, in what will certainly be a keen fight for the wing's top post in the upcoming party elections.

Barring unforeseen circumstances --like "slow talk" from the top -- the contest will take place.

Shahrizat has not announced her decision to contest and is expected to do so tomorrow.

Given recent developments -- some say undercurrents -- in the wing, Rafidah had most probably expected Shahrizat's decision to challenge her.

Original leadership transition plans went awry after Aidilfitri.

Key to the turn of events was the announcement by Wanita Umno exco member Kamilia Ibrahim to challenge Shahrizat for the vice post. The lady cannot be talked out of contesting.

Whether this was all part of Shahrizat's strategy to pressure Rafidah to step down ahead of the planned June transition is still being talked about among supporters of both leaders.

Obviously, Rafidah is not daunted. Nor intimidated. She will defend her post.

Her detractors have pooh-poohed the June transition plan saying that the party constitution does not provide for it. Besides, it is not an Umno practice.
They also say that she should not be biding her time and, well, why wait for June.
It is time for her to hand over the leadership to Shahrizat.

Stepping down in June after the party elections in March would leave Shahrizat as just an acting chief until the next party elections.That's not fair, they holler.

Rafidah is aware of this concern.

So why was the June transition plan agreed to, in the first place? Why did Shahrizat not say much earlier that she wanted to go for the number one?

Shahrizat's supporters said that it was never her intention to challenge Rafidah but she "tersepit" because of Kamilia's steadfastness to go for her post.

Really, Rafidah has nothing to lose here. She is going to step down anyway. If she wins -- well, that's endorsement and validation from members. She'll be stronger, that's for sure.

For Shahrizat -- she has to win. It's a do or die.

And Kamilia? Congratulations should be in order for her. She's the "winner", any which way you look at it.

This turn of events in Wanita has saddened the Umno president who will be meeting Rafidah and Shahrizat to "resolve" the situation.

Pak Lah believes that a contest for Wanita's top post will split the wing. Will it?

Some people disagree. Contests are good because it produces strong leaders who are endorsed by members.

I don't know what Pak Lah has in mind, or how he is going to persuade Rafidah and Shahrizat to come to an agreement/compromise to avert a contest. I wish him well.

Chances are that the show will go on.

You may want to read this, this, this, this, this or this.

PM & DPM Away Tomorrow...

So, we are literally without anyone at the top on official duty for about two days.

Tomorrow, neither the Prime Minister nor his Deputy will be around. Both will be away.

Pak Lah is on an official visit to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and is scheduled to return on Friday while Najib is flying tonight to London en route to Lima, Peru, to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit at the weekend.

Najib admits that this is unusual.

"But (it is) unavoidable," he told reporters after opening the Asia Pacific Regional Water Conference 2008, in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

He says that this goes to show that all's well in the country --that the government and the nation are stable.

The cats maybe away but Najib reassures that both Abdullah and he will be in close contact with the ministers and top government officers while they are abroad.

So,'s not a big deal.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Heated And Hot In Wanita Umno..

It looks like Wanita Umno deputy chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil is left with no choice but to mount a challenge against incumbent Rafidah Aziz for the wing's top post.

Besides, Wanita exco member Kamilia Ibrahim is firm in her decision to contest the deputy post.

So, yes --- it's a case of damn if I do and damn if I don't for Shahrizat.

You won't be wrong to assume that all is really not well between Rafidah and Shahrizat.

You know, politics does this to people.

Rafidah is sticking to the plan to not step down anytime sooner than June next year.
But Shahrizat, pressured by her supporters and inspired by the leadership change at Umno's helm, wants an earlier transition.

Her proposal at Monday's Wanita exco meeting was shot down, mercilessly. Accusations of this and that flew around...and some.

No way, Ijat, they told her.
Rafidah is adamant that it's no go.

Shahrizat has got nominations to contest Wanita's number one post. So has Rafidah.
Wanita exco member Kamilia Ibrahim cannot be talked out of her decision. She's got more than enough nominations already.

So, yes...damn if Shahrizat does and damn if she doesn't.

Good luck, y'all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bangsa Malaysia...

I'm always interested in discussions on Bangsa Malaysia. I've listened to so many views....

There's a discourse on the subject this morning at the Perdana Leadership Foundation. I think I'll "menyibuk" there.

Our former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will deliver his keynote address.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Four Books By Dr Syed Husin Ali

I had missed the launching of his book, "The Malays - Their Problems and Future" sometime in the middle of the year.

I was out-of-town and regretted that I was not able to be there.

Syed Husin -- or Pak Cik Syed, Pak Tuan or Abang Syed as I call him -- would always call or text me if there was any event -- private (family) or otherwise (PKR).

Syed Husin and his wife, Kak Sabariah are my family's long-time friends.

I remember Syed Husin when he and several Universiti of Malaya undergraduates and student activists back in the 60s, would converge at our house in Jalan Sentosa (Section 3, Petaling Jaya), later in Jalan Lembah (Section 5, Petaling Jaya).

Bapak and these students would discuss and debate politics, current affairs and well, everything under the sun....

And later on, when we moved to Section 16, Syed Husin would visit Bapak for their intellectual discourse and would not miss the Hari Raya visits.

I wept when he was detained under the Internal Security Act, just as Kak Sabariah did when Bapak was detained.
We kept close contact with Kak Sabariah when he was in detention. We would always meet up at Pak Cik Tongkat's (Usman Awang's) home for makan or any other family gathering.

All through the years, Syed Husin has remained close to Bapak and our family.

When I became a journalist, he was one of the people I would regularly call for input on anything.

So when he texted me two weeks ago inviting me to the launch of his four books at Carlton Holiday Hotel in Shah Alam on Sunday, I told myself that I must not miss it. In fact, he asked that my siblings come as well.

My youngest sister, Nina told me we MUST not miss the event. We absolutely must go. No excuses.

She reminded me that he visited Bapak at the hospital twice, and came to pay respects twice -- the evening Bapak' was brought back home and at the funeral.

Besides, Bapak's old friend and compatriot since Utusan Melayu days - Pak Cik Said Zahari would also be there.

And of course, another pull factor -- Saudara Anwar Ibrahim would also be there to deliver his keynote address.

So last Sunday (Nov 9), we all went to the event -- launch and review of his books -- with our children in tow.

Although we were not able to stay to the end because of a pressing family engagement, we were glad we were able to be there.
Besides, I met some old friends from Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

And we all made sure we got the books (although we've already got "The Malays...." and "Two Faces..."):

"Orang Melayu: Masalah dan Masa Depanya". "Ethnic Relations in Malaysia: Harmony & Conflict" and the Malay and English editions of "Dua Wajah: Tahanan Tanpa Bicara/Two Faces: Detention without Trial".

Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim reviewed "Orang Melayu",
Director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives Lim Teck Ghee reviewed "Ethnic Relations in Malaysia" and Pak Cik Said reviewed "Dua Wajah/Two Faces".

The books are available at book stores.

Syed Husin is deputy president of PKR. He was for a long time president of Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia. He was detained for six years under the ISA in the 70s.

*Pak Cik Said
was editor-in-chief of Utusan Melayu and an advocate of unbiased press freedom. He was detained by the Singapore government and subsequently held for 17 years without trial. Allegations against him included being a "Communist". He was released a few years ago and holds the distinction of having been Singapore's second longest-serving political detainee after Chia Thye Poh. (from Wikipedia)
He now resides (with his children) in Subang Jaya, Selangor.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mr Rahmbo In Obama's Office...

...and why the Mid-East is doing a U-turn -- from ecstasy in Barack Obama's election to unease and depression when the President-elect named Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.

Here's from "The Middle East" Blog.

Barack Obama chose Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff not for his Middle East policy expertise but his Beltway experience and savvy. Nicknamed Rahmbo, Emanuel was Bill Clinton's scrappy White House political director--he taught that president the Hebrew word for balls, baytzim--and has served three terms in congress.

Yet, news of Emanuel's appointment is causing a stir in the Middle East. It's being met with some elation in Israel, a country that has been notably uneasy about an Obama presidency, and some despair in the Arab world, which had largely embraced Obama.

An Oxford-educated Arab friend called Thursday night to ask me in a tone of deep disappointment, "Did you notice how in the span of 24 hours Egyptians went from being ecstatic to being depressed about Obama?"

The Arab News in Jeddah, whose editorials are a good reflection of the Arab mainstream, did an astounding somersault on Friday. Just the previous day, the paper hailed the "symbol of hope and change" in the U.S., saying Obama's historic election "threatens the cosy Washington consensus. We are, therefore, embarking on exciting times.

" After hearing of Emanuel's appointment, the paper headlined its next editorial "Don't pin much hope on Obama." Arab expectations, the paper warned, "are likely to be dashed, generating a great deal of pain and resentment...The new team may turn out to be as pro-Israeli as the one it is replacing."

Click here to continue reading.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Court Orders Raja Petra's Release

Got a text message from blogging lawyer Elviza this morning just before 10am to say that Raja Petra Kamaruddin will be released.
At the Shah Alam court, RPK's lawyer, Malik Imtiaz succeeded in obtaining a release order from detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) via his habeas corpus application.

That is good news. We are all elated.

Here's the Star report:

The judge ruled that the Home Minister had acted outside his jurisdiction when he issued the two-year detention order under Section 8(1) of the ISA.

The High Court also allowed the blogger and Malaysia Today editor to be brought to court to be released today.

He was detained for a second time under the ISA on Sept 12.

On April 11, 2001, Raja Petra along with 10 other activists were detained under the ISA for allegedly plotting to overthrow former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Raja Petra was released 52 days later.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hey, America, You Ain't So Bad After All...

After 9/11 in 2001, I felt distressed for many obvious reasons -- the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, war on Iraq, the US-prescribed war on terror, Guantanamo Bay, among others.

I had my own little boycott of the US. I was, of course, not alone. Not at all.

Time is supposed to heal. In this case, it took a little longer.

A planned visit to my alma mater (Boston University) had to be cancelled. Personal invitations from American friends to attend their weddings or for holidays had to be declined.

Reassurances from the acting US ambassador (can't recall his name -- it was in 2003, I think) that I would not be singled out at random for detailed checks and questioning at American airports could not appeal to my senses.
I refused to visit the US -- neither for work nor for play.

And, boy, was I glad and relieved when my son, Adel decided not to do any US degree programmes, after his SPM.

To cut a long story short -- I am now giving America a chance. (As though I matter at all.)
And I will no longer look at America with contempt and disdain.

There was a time I looked at the US as a reference point for many things. About freedom, mostly.

Post 9/11 changed all that.

Barack Obama as the 44th US President, will still have to prove himself. We know that.

But the fact that Americans want him as President warms my heart.

I can say to an American : "hey, America ain't so bad, after all..."

And maybe, just maybe......

Anyway, I wrote this after reading an AP article "Suddenly, It' Maybe Cool to Be An American Again":

VIENNA, Austria – She was a stranger, and she kissed me. Just for being an American.

It happened on the bus on my way to work Wednesday morning, a few hours after compatriots clamoring for change swept Barack Obama to his historic victory. I was on the phone, and the 20-something Austrian woman seated in front of me overheard me speaking English.

Without a word, she turned, pecked me on the cheek and stepped off at the next stop.

Click here to continue....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New America?

I sure hope so.
Won't you please close down Guantanamo Bay and release all the detainees who were unlawfully captured...

Barrack Obama, America's first black President, undoubtedly, has made history.

Will he make a difference - to the US, to the world, I wonder? We'll have to wait and see how this guy will turn out -- his oratorical skills, smooth style and good looks aside.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Barack Obama was elected the nation's first black president Tuesday night in a historic triumph that overcame racial barriers as old as America itself.

The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, the Democratic senator from Illinois sealed his victory by defeating Republican Sen. John McCain in a string of wins in hard-fought battleground statesOhio, Florida, Virginia and Iowa.

A huge crowd in Grant Park in Chicago erupted in jubilation at the news of Obama's victory. Some wept.

McCain called to concede defeat — and the end of his own 10-year quest for the White House.

Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, will take their oaths of office as president and vice president on Jan. 20, 2009.

As the 44th president, Obama will move into the Oval Office as leader of a country that is almost certainly in recession, and fighting two long wars, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan.

The popular vote was close, but not the count in the Electoral College, where it mattered most.

There, Obama's audacious decision to contest McCain in states that hadn't gone Democratic in years paid rich dividends.

Obama has said his first order of presidential business will be to tackle the economy. He has also pledged to withdraw most U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months.

Fellow Democrats rode his coattails to larger majorities in both houses of Congress. They defeated incumbent Republicans and won open seats by turn.

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...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Salam Aidilfitri....

A very subdued Eid for us this year. But a blessed and wonderful Eid, nonetheless.

I wish all my Muslim friends a Happy Aidilfitri. Maaf Zahir dan Batin.

And to everyone -- happy holidays and take care!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Umno Polls Postponed To March Next Year.. facilitate "an early power transition" from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to his deputy, Najib Abdul Razak.

Abdullah will also decide whether or not he will defend his postion before the party's divisional level elections begin on Oct 9.

The was the outcome of the special Umno supreme council meeting at PWTC in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

Abdullah who is the Prime Minister said Umno divisional elections would go on as scheduled from Oct 9 to Nov 9.

The Umno general assembly was to be held from Dec 16 to 20.

The original transition plan, which was announced in July, was for Abdullah to hand over the reins of power to Najib by June 2010.

Read more HERE and HERE.

So, there you are. A compromise. Pak Lah gets his way to have the party general assembly and elections postponed and Najib....well, almost, his.

Undoubtedly, tension is building up and it will continue to rise.

While it looks like the Prime Minister is handing over power ahead of 2010, presumably in March, he has not exactly made any commitment to do so.

In fact, it looks like he does not want to let go.

Meanwhile, we have players on the sidelines manouvering and, making moves, surely.

Perhaps, the tension, the heat, the uncertainty will subside in October when the PM makes known whether he is defending his presidency.

Only perhaps.

So, is Pak Lah out to see how many nominations he'll get? Read Rocky's Abdullah's Last Stand.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Very Sad Ramadhan...

Shall I light a candle?
For the injustice that I see
I shall do that
Just As I shall say a prayer
many prayers
for my brothers

'Tis Ramadhan
Or didn't you know that?
A sad day, it is not supposed to be

'Tis Ramadhan
A blessed month
A holy month

So, why?


I shall light a candle
And I shall say my prayers....

nuraina samad

I know any arrest or detention under the ISA need not have to be during Ramadhan, Aidilfitri, or Christmas, or Chinese New Year or Deepavali, for it to be a really sad thing. Any day is bad. Wrong. Cruel. Heartless. And a sad day for the detainee and his loved ones.

But this Ramadhan. A holy month. Soldiers were known to have laid down their arms during Ramadhan. A truce.
And, RPK was arrested and, begins a 2-year detention, during this holy month. I offer his family my very sad wishes. I hope they stay strong.

Raja Petra To Be Sent To Kamunting.... be detained for two years. He was served with the order last night.

This is indeed a sad piece of news to receive. What more, during Ramadhan.

The High Court is to hear his Habeas Corpus application.

The Malaysia Today editor and popular blogger begins his detention today.

According to Malaysiakini, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar signed his detention order last night for Raja Petra to be held without trial under section 8(1) of the tough security law. Under the Act, the government can renew his detention indefinitely.

(From Malaysiakini):

Lawyers said the police had informed them this morning that they would be taking Raja Petra to the detention centre.

"Act by the minister to sign the section 8 order yesterday is completely unacceptable," said Raja Petra's lead lawyer Malik Imtiaz.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court is to hear a habeas corpus bid by Raja Petra's lawyers to overturn the detention of the controversial blogger today.

Habeas corpus is a writ ordering prisoners to be brought before a judge to ascertain if there are any procedural defects which could render their detention unlawful.

Raja Petra's wife Marina Abdullah confirmed that the police had informed her that the detention order had been issued by the minister yesterday.

Also present in the court this morning was recently resigned minister Zaid Ibrahim.

Raja Petra, 58, was arrested along with two others two weeks ago and has been under police custody in an unknown location.

The other two - Sin Chew Daily senior journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, 33 and Selangor senior executive councillor and parliamentarian Teresa Kok, 43 - have since been freed.Tan was released 18 hours after her arrest, while Kok was freed seven days later.

According to his lawyer J Chandra, Raja Petra was arrested for publishing articles on his news portal which tarnished the leadership of the country and insulted the sanctity of Islam.

The former newspaper columnist has already been charged with sedition and defamation after linking Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to the sensational murder of a Mongolian woman.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

ISA Detention --Then And Now..

I'll say one thing -- good for the rakyat that they are making their opposition to the Internal Security Act heard loud and clear.

Times have really changed.

These days, if anyone is detained under the ISA, you can be sure that there'll be concerned citizens protesting outside the police station where the detainee is being held, and gathering for a candlelight vigil to show support for the detainee.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin is not alone. Neither were Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng.

It's good to know that some families of detainees have relied on the law to get their loved ones released on a writ of habeas corpus (an order that a prisoner be brought before a court to determine whether his detention is lawful).

They even hold Press conferences demanding the release of their loved ones.

The ISA maybe here to stay for now, as Home Minister Syed Abdul Hamid Albar said but any arrest of individuals under the Act will surely trigger an overpouring of protest. The support for the detainee comes just as swiftly and as strong.

We should be mighty proud of ourselves in this regard. That we, as a people, have come a pretty long way.

We dare to be heard. We dare. We are a courageous lot.

I remember when my own father was detained under the ISA in 1976 for alleged communist activities. He was, of course, as good as guilty. He was detained for four-and-half years and released in 1981 after making a televised confession that he was a communist.

It was a different time then, under different circumstances.

People feared the ISA and ISA detainees were a different category of prisoners who were best left undefended.

It was something we had to accept. We had no one who dared come forth to support us.
We did not seek legal counsel nor any lawyer offered us any counsel -- to get him released. No one dared fight for his release. No protest, except, if I remember correctly, from DAP's Lim Kit Siang. But privately, I believe one or two Cabinet ministers protested against the arrest, not only of my father's but others -- Abdullah Ahmad, Abdullah Majid and Samani Amin.

Outside the county, international human rights groups protested the arrests. But this had very little, or no impact at all, in securing his release.

I felt really good for Marina Abdullah when she and her children were allowed to visit Raja Petra within a week of his arrest.

Those days, we were not able to see our father until months later.

I don't know whether the ISA will ever be repealed or abolished. Some people believe that it is a necessary evil. Perhaps. But, so far, it has existed only to be misused and abused.

I don't know the statistics, but I'm sure there are more political detainees than insurgents. Tell me I'm wrong,

For now, my fervent wish and appeal to the government is for those detained under the ISA be released immediately.

**The Internal Security Act (ISA) is a draconian and an anachronistic law. It is a preventive detention law originally enacted in the early 1960s during a national state of emergency as a temporary measure to fight a communist rebellion.
Under Section 73 (1) of the ISA, police may detain any person for up to 60 days, without warrant or trial and without access to legal counsel, on suspicion that "he has acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof."
After 60 days, the Minister of Home Affairs can then extend the period of detention without trial for up to two years, without submitting any evidence for review by the courts, by issuing a detention order, which is renewable indefinitely.
The law has repeatedly been criticized by Malaysian human rights groups, the Malaysian Bar Council, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, and international human rights groups, which called for its repeal.
The ISA's provisions violate fundamental international human rights standards, including prohibitions on arbitrary detention and guarantees of the right to due process and the right to a prompt and impartial trial.

Sheih's Out!

What great weekend news to have greeted me!

My brother, Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz AKA Sheih Kickdefella was released from police custody yesterday afternoon.

He had been detained for three nights by the Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID).

Later at a Press conference at his sister's home in Kuala Lumpur, Sheih said he did not give any statements to the police throughout the duration of his detention.

“I told them that if they wanted a statement, they would have to charge me and I will give my statements in court in front of a judge,” he was quoted to have said.

He said the police treated him well.

Sheih believes that his detention was politically motivated.

They were trying to scare other bloggers and dampen my spirits. It didn’t work,” he said.

According to Malaysiakini:

Immediately after his release, he was interviewed by officials from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in the CCID headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

He walked out of the CCID headquarters at about 4pm and was received by his family members and friends.

Syed Azidi was being investigated for posting allegedly seditious material in his blog kickdefella involving a campaign to fly the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian flag) upside down.

Continue reading HERE...

And while you're at it, read Sheih's "I Found Al-Ghazali In Dang Wangi"....