Archive for June, 2012


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

Leaders and members in the State Reform Party (Star), Sabah chapter, are heaving a sigh of relief after chairman Jeffrey Kitingan extended an olive branch to known “rebels” in the party despite being humbled for the first time by them at an emergency meeting this morning (Fri) in Kota Kinabalu.

Falling short of waving the proverbial white flag, Jeffrey for starters reportedly did an about-turn with about 20 party leaders including rebels. He claimed that he had never issued a gag order recently against them. It was stressed that the gag order was a “mistake” on the part of some of his more “over-zealous” aides.

The more vociferous among the leaders gathered begged to disagree on making a complete scapegoat of Jeffrey’s errant aides. However, it appears that they did not protest too much on the gag order “in the interest of party unity” after the party chairman announced that two members, a male and a female, would be appointed as his political secretaries.

Lawyer Moses Iking and Ranau member Juliana Situn, it was agreed, would both be offered the post of political secretary to Jeffrey.

This is the second time that Moses is being offered a party post. He was earlier offered a vice-chairmanship but declined on the grounds that the party took no action against another vice-chairman blacklisted by the Insolvency Department.

“Many of us would have liked the aides to be hauled up for disciplinary action but the matter was not discussed,” said a number of party leaders approached separately after the session. “The appointment of the two political secretaries is expected to cut Jeffrey’s errant aides down to size.”

The party leaders, who requested anonymity for fear of being accused of fishing in troubled waters, fumed that the errant aides had not only acted with or without permission in the chairman’s name but also had been “kurang ajar” (disrespectful) of late to several senior party leaders who tried to tick them off privately.

The meeting generally did not comment or did not disagree too much when Jeffrey proposed that the gist of all press statements prepared by party leaders be first cleared with him, at least by telephone, before being issued. His main concern appeared to be on “not souring relations with other opposition parties” and “not touching on party policies”, the latter being read as euphemism for anything the party chairman didn’t like.

One party leader said he had no objections to seeking clearance from Jeffrey on his press statements “provided the party chairman bothered to answer their telephone calls”. Jeffrey, it appears, has a reputation for not picking up telephone calls, not returning missed calls, and not responding to text messages or emails. It’s even said that he doesn’t read emails except on his Blackberry if it’s not too full.

“The chairman promised to take all calls especially from party leaders,” said one party leader who attended the meeting. “He also promised to be punctual in future for appointments.”

The party chairman allegedly turns up late, anywhere between an hour to three hours, for public gatherings and meetings.

The meeting did not fault Jeffrey for this tardy time management on his part but advised him not to take on too many appointments or simply agree each time to the times set by others. He was further advised to learn to delegate and trust his fellow party leaders.

So far, Star has yet to set up any Bureaus, Committees or Sub-Committees although it claims to have a membership of 200,000, of which 175,000 it was further claimed signed up within the first three months of the party being set up in Sabah recently.

The meeting agreed with Jeffrey that the party needs to hold regular meetings and all its Bureaus, Committees and Sub-Committees need to be set up as soon as possible.

The meeting agreed that the party’s proposed vision and mission statements and manifesto, all bones of contention among the leadership and rank-and-file, need to be dusted off and tabled for discussion.

The party’s vision and mission statements and manifesto, Jeffrey agreed, would not be finalized without input from all stakeholders and unanimously agreed at a series of party meetings called specifically for the purpose.

It was tentatively agreed that the first meeting of the proposed Political Bureau would be held tentatively in the afternoon on Mon to discuss the vision and mission for a start. The discussion on the manifesto would be shelved to a later date. In the morning, on Mon, Star would sign a pact with Transparency-International Malaysia in Kota Kinabalu, the meeting learnt.

The party leaders already have draft copies of the vision and mission and manifesto following input by several Supreme Council members. However, the matter became controversial when Jeffrey’s aides sent several emails to senior party leaders dismissing their input as “just spin and bullshit”.

The offending emails by the errant aides have been cited as the reason for the current tension between the party headquarters in Kota Kinabalu and senior party leaders. It appears that snatches of these emails have found their way into FaceBook, Twitter, Chats and text messages.

Jeffrey reportedly promised that he would brief the Political Bureau on Mon on his meetings earlier this week with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice president Tian Chua and party Treasurer William Leong.

No details related to Star were disclosed this morning.

Elsewhere, the meeting learnt that de facto PKR Chief Anwar Ibrahim is wary of Sabah Umno veteran Lajim Ukin and Upko deputy president Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing planning to defect to his party.
“It seems that both Lajim and Ukin are not interested in PKR but want to stand under the party symbol provided their respective factions are allotted 20 Muslim and 18 Native (Orang Asal) state seats,” said a Star leader. “Wilfred is willing to concede only one or two Native seats to Star.”

The suspicion is that both men would defect with their factions after the 13th General Election, said the leader. “We think that both Lajim and Wilfred would frog back to the Barisan Nasional (BN) after winning seats under PKR.”

Jeffrey announced in mid-April that Star would contest all 60 state seats at stake in Sabah and 26 parliamentary seats including Labuan in the 13th General Election.

The party is yet to climb down from this extreme position, reportedly a strategic move, but the word along the political grapevine in Sabah is that it would be prepared to retreat to 35 state seats and the related parliamentary seats.

It’s not known whether the 35 state seats include that which would be contested by the pro-tem United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) under the Star symbol. Usno had been reported to be eyeing 18 state seats.


By Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT State Reform Party (Star) chairman Jeffrey Kitingan is once again in the news for the wrong reasons. He has stirred a hornet’s nest in Sabah by claiming that all politicians in Sabah, including his brother Joseph Pairin Kitingan, are frogs.

He thinks that this will explain him being discredited time and again by Sabahans as the King of Frogs. Jeffrey has, by most counts, moved through as many as six political parties but all this is water under the bridge and for the most part irrelevant.

His considered opinion is that other politicians continued their political frogging until they secured a comfort zone for themselves, albeit “at the expense of the people”.

In his case, according to him, he continued frogging until he could find a political vehicle which could accept his “struggle for the people”.

Of course, there’s the little matter of him not finding any political vehicle for his struggle until he set up Star. This begs the question of why he didn’t make such a move earlier.

Jeffrey’s comments on other political frogs have been dismissed by them as completely untrue. They claim to be struggling for the people too – by “bringing development to them” – instead of focusing on whatever Jeffrey is preaching all the time.

So far, it has all been needless indulgence in the politics of distraction and disruption from the real issues of the day. No doubt politicians in Sabah love the sound of their own voices.

The Star chairman obviously feels that “man does not live by bread alone”.

“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his own soul?” asks Star deputy chairman Daniel John Jambun rhetorically. “This is the thrust of our struggle.”

Daniel may have a point about struggling for the soul of Sabah — i.e. to save it and obviously from the clutches of Peninsular Malaysia and their local proxies and their stooges — but that’s about as far as it goes.

His boss seems to be squatting so far on the so-called struggle for the people.

He has blown hot and cold on Daniel John and Co internationalizing the struggle for Borneo in Malaysia.

Therein lies an emerging split in Star which will either see Jeffrey being ousted from his own party or many Supreme Council members leaving for the Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) which has been approved in principle in recent weeks. The party is awaiting its registration certificate. PCS plans to join the Star-initiated, formed and led United Borneo Alliance (UBA).

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Jeffrey has confined himself thus far in his ceramah to explaining the history of Sabah before and in Malaysia. No one can fault him here since not many people, especially the younger generation, are conversant with the historical facts.

But the movement for Sabah does not seem to be moving from rhetoric to action.

To digress a little, the younger generation doesn’t seem to be too bothered by Sabah’s history in Malaysia.

Instead, they have cut the Gordian knot and are asking why Sabah should be in Malaysia at all.

Their logic is simple: Peninsular Malaysia is so far away, we can’t even breathe without their permission, and “why are we in Federation with them especially since we can be on our own?”

Others ask: “How did we get into this situation and how do we get out?”

Jeffrey has no answers and it would be foolhardy for anyone, judging from his politics since 1984, to look to him.

True, he did lead a rowdy Star crowd to greet Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak on his recent visit to Keningau where he (Najib) announced a quarter billion ringgit loan to Sabah for a water treatment plant.

They had placards reading “Sabah’s independence” and castigating Putrajaya for behaving like an Ah Long (loan shark) with Sabah after seizing almost all its revenue for itself.

This is the first time that Jeffrey has been associated with “Sabah’s independence”. No one is sure what it means. So, the excitement was lacking.

It would have been different had Jeffrey stated in no uncertain terms that Malaysia has ceased to exist following the Federal Government’s non-compliance on the five constitutional documents and/or constitutional conventions on Malaysia i.e. the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63), the Three-Point Oath Stone (Batu Sumpah) witnessed and solemnized by the Federal Government in Keningau, the 20/18 Points, the Inter Governmental Committee Report and the Cobbold Commission Report.

Non-compliance ipso facto meant that Sabah’s self-determination of 31 Aug 1963 (Sarawak 22 July 1963) remains undiminished.

Jeffrey lost a golden opportunity in Keningau to say what he meant and mean what he said.

In any case, he appears to be no messiah for his flock.

The thrust of his complaints thus far has been that the Federal Government has been in non-compliance on MA63. He wants Putrajaya to set up a compliance mechanism.

This is unlikely to happen as MA63 has ceased to exist by virtue of non-compliance but Jeffrey refuses to accept this and continues to flog the proverbial dead horse on a compliance mechanism.

Not surprising he has been accused by no less than former Sabah Chief Minister Harris Salleh of seriously misleading the people with his propaganda barrage on a compliance mechanism. Harris claims that MA63 – and the four other constitutional documents and/or constitutional conventions – “has been overtaken by events”. This is euphemism for non-compliance. However, Harris dreads and avoids the term non-compliance.

Jeffrey’s politics also glosses over the fact that Sabahans are by no means united on being out of Malaysia or even in Malaysia.

Putrajaya has done a very successful job since 1963 of pitting the people in the state against each other, introducing polarisation a la Peninsular Malaysia, and ensuring proxy control of the politics of the state.

The political situation has been further compounded by the influx of illegal immigrants who have over the years allegedly found their way into the electoral rolls.

These illegals see Putrajaya and Malaysia as the best guarantee of their continued existence in Sabah.

Local Muslims see the illegals as being in the state particularly at their expense, further marginalizing and disenfranchising them as the opportunities that should go to them dwindle even further.

Jeffrey is yet to bridge the non-Muslim-local Muslim disconnect created by Putrajaya over nearly five decades. So far, only some of the Dusuns including Muslims and Muruts are with him. The same goes for the Suluks, Brunei Muslims and Chinese. He has hardly any support among the Bajau and Irranun.

The Chinese appear caught between the Orang Asal (Natives) – the Murut and the Dusuns including the Kadazan or urban Dusun – the local Muslims and the illegals.

Jeffrey will be no game-changer unless he can get his act together and help forge total unity among Sabahans i.e. Orang Asal and the others alike to take on the illegals allegedly on the electoral rolls.

Charity begins at home.

Getting his act together would first mean setting his own house in order.

There are growing complaints that Star is a one-man show with little evidence of democracy in action, unrepresentative, and no empowerment of the leadership and members.

Jeffrey’s aides seem to be more powerful than even the party’s three deputy chairmen. The aides have since prevailed on their boss to issue a gag order on anyone other than Jeffrey issuing press statements. These statements are invariably written by the aides.

The party has also yet to reveal its vision, mission, objectives, goals and activities although there’s a draft prepared by several Supreme Council members. The draft has reportedly been dismissed by Jeffrey’s aides as “spin and bullshit”.

The oft-cited party Manifesto, again provided by several Supreme Council members in draft form, has been allowed to gather dust on the shelf by Jeffrey’s aides on the grounds that it was not written by their boss, “it was just spin and bullshit”, and that “Star (meaning Jeffrey’s aides) has its own way of doing things”.

It appears to be clear to many that if the two respective drafts can be “rejected”, then Jeffrey is clearly no game-changer and can be discounted from the emerging political equation in Sabah and Malaysia.


Letter To The Editor

 

Dear Sir,

Not a day goes by without the newspapers in Sabah carrying pictures of grinning lawyers standing next to their Clients.

This is a scam by lawyers who “lose” 90 per cent of their cases except where they are photographed grinning ear to ear outside the courthouse with their Clients.

The purpose of the picture in the newspapers scam — the photographer/reporter concerned usually gets at least RM 200 from the lawyer concerned — is to attract even more Clients.

The real story is that Clients who don’t appear in the newspapers with their lawyers invariably “lose” their cases.

This is because the lawyer will do a deal with the other side and do a number on the Client who will eventually be sacrificed after being fleeced over many years.

The truth is stranger than the fiction.

Ninety per cent of civil litigation case don’t go into Court — in most cases because the lawyers do a number on Clients after taking money — or for Trial.

Clients must not rush to see a lawyer the moment that they have a civil litigation problem.

A lawyer is the LAST person they need to see.

It’s better for Clients to file their own cases in Court after drafting them with the help of someone who knows how to make submissions. Such help need not be a lawyer but someone who knows how to draft very well and can therefore make out a compelling case.

Most lawyers have very poor language and drafting skills and rely on oral submissions or cross examination in Court. They can’t even draft a simple letter in English or Malay.

Clients need a lawyer only to appear in Court after a Trial date is secured and to make oral representations for an out-of-court settlement or to take the matter to Mediation Court or failing both approaches, prepare for Trial. Here, lawyers are needed for citations re the law and authorities.

Lawyers will generally claim that they have to do a lot of legal research but this is just bullshit to fleece Clients. Legal research is available online at the touch of a button.

Lawyers are not allowed to be present in Mediation.

Contrary to popular belief, Courts don’t determine the direction of a civil litigation case or its outcome but they can help by way of Order for Directions.

Under our adversial system in Court, the parties to a conflict determine the direction of a case and also determine the outcome by the manner in which they draft and file submissions.

The Court merely draws the outcome of a case from the submissions of the parties in conflict.

Besides Mediation Court, lawyers are not allowed to be present at the various Tribunals which sometimes are held at the courthouse. These include Land Office, Immigration, JPN, Customs, Income Tax, Labour, Industrial Relations, Housing, Consumer, Small Claims, Marriage, Arbitration (lawyers allowed with permission but not necessary) etc etc

Get hold of a copy of the High Court and subordinate court rules for reference and study them.

Thank you

Adichan Pudichan


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT The latest talk along the political grapevine in Kota Kinabalu and the local media is that the Sabah People’s Front Party (SPF) might be more than willing to “accommodate” the so-called Sarawak Workers Party (SWP) on one condition: that the SWP fields and finances SPF candidates in Sabah under its (SWP’s) banner.

The alternative is that SPF, led by Deputy President Osman Enting, would apparently “go all out to destroy SWP”.

The prime-movers behind SWP aren’t taking the bait so far and are unlikely to do so since that would be tantamount to their admission of being complicit in an alleged illegality. It would have been quite a different matter if the story had not gone public. In that case, the prime-movers would have been more than willing to throw money at the problems to make them all go away.

Obviously, the purported “destruction threat” relates to SPF’s charge that no EGM was ever held by the party to approve the name change to SWP and the shifting of its headquarters, if any, to Kuching. Hence, the complaint goes, any minutes related to a purported EGM held by SPF on the matter were “falsified”.

The purported EGM was supposed to have been held at the Palace Hotel in Kota Kinabalu but in reality “only happened on paper”. The party constitution calls for any name change to be endorsed by two-thirds of its Supreme Council

The disclosure by Osman makes up the thrust of a police report lodged by him and 31 other senior party leaders in Kota Kinabalu on May 31 and a complaint filed at the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in Kota Kinabalu. Ironically, it was the ROS Sabah which obtained the name change documentation from Putrajaya and handed them over to SPF in response to an official request from the party.

The police report has been lodged with the Registrar of Societies in Putrajaya together with the minutes of a special party meeting convened on June 3 in Kota Kinabalu under Osman to suspend SPF president Berman Angkap and secretary-general Salun Dueasim. Osman heads the party’s disciplinary council.

The SPF’s reported “about-turn”, if true, is not just on. There are even reports that Osman has withdrawn the police report in order to “settle the matter internally”.

This is not a situation where “compromise” is possible between contending factions i.e. one led by Osman, another by the “suspended” president, and the third by SWP activists in Kuching.

Serious charges have been levied and the law must be allowed to take its course and those found indulging in wrong-doing must face the consequences of their action. The list of wrong-doers would include anyone in SPF who, on second thoughts, may be actively moving in the direction of the so-called compromise.

SPF’s name change to SWP is clearly non-existent in law although approved by the ROS on April 2 this year.

It’s a principle in law that if someone obtains official documentation and/or certification by falsification, deception, fraud and misrepresentation, then such documentation and/or certification is void and a nullity in law as if it never existed from the very beginning. The “approval” of the ROS does not exist in law.

For another, the ROS should not take lightly the rampant practice of “selling” and “buying” political parties. Indeed, such practices would not take place if the ROS had not been only too willing to be in cahoots with the Home Ministry to deny any application for registration of a political party deemed a threat to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. It’s unconstitutional.

SWP deputy president George Lagong, putting up a brave front, claims that the SPF’s registration certificate in the new name is “legitimate”. His group, led by “President” Larry Sng, “would not entertain any claims by SPF in Sabah”, according to George.

There’s genuine fear in those “earmarked for destruction” by SWP that the parties in conflict over the name change would be allowed by the ROS to paper over their differences, so to speak, in order to legalize an illegality. Clearly, this is not possible since the proverbial cat is out of the bag.

The overwhelmingly Iban Dayak-based Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), for one, which has been targeted for demolition by the “still-born” SWP is crying foul and is determined to see that the law is upheld and the miscreants face the music. It’s understood that the party has written to the ROS in Putrajaya for clarification and followed this up with a meeting.

The party intends to keep tabs on the SPF/SWP situation and ensure that the latter is not resurrected from the dead. The party is even prepared to claim locus standi, based on newspaper reports issued by SWP against it, and seek a Judicial Review in Court to squash the decision by the ROS to approve SPF’s name change to SWP and its migration to Sarawak.
Lawyers for PRS are confident that the party will win hands down if push comes to shove.

The consensus among the legal community and others in the know is that the police in Kota Kinabalu should follow up the report lodged by Osman and send the investigation papers to the AG’s Chambers. It appears that Osman cannot withdraw the police report if the allegations are true, and if untrue, he faces possible criminal charges for making a false police report.

However, 31 other witnesses cannot possibly be wrong when they alleged that the so-called minutes of the purported EGM had been falsified.

Independent of the police probe, the ROS is duty-bound to seek further clarification in writing and in person from those who collected the name change certification and have it recalled and suspended. There may be grounds here for the ROS himself to lodge a police report against those who collected the name change certification.

Needless to say, those who collected the name change certification to SWP and those listed as office bearers in Sarawak would be “blacklisted” by the ROS, Special Branch and the Home Ministry from applying for the registration of any new political party.

Meanwhile, the ROS would be further duty-bound to write officially to SPF to show cause why it should not be deregistered.

It’s a certainty, in that case, that SPF would be deregistered.

SPF’s latest woes can be traced back to certain quarters reportedly linked to Sabah Umno veteran Lajim Ukin. The veteran, it appears, forked out several hundred thousand ringgit to set up a new headquarters for the party in Kota Kinabalu with a view to taking it over. The sums may include that paid out to certain SPF leaders who were alleged involved in the purported EGM and the related minutes.

Unfortunately for those eyeing SPF in Kota Kinabalu, the party subsequently went on “sale” in Kuching where the modus operandi for its transfer and re-birth were hatched in not too many details.

SPF claims to have a membership of 50,000 in 42 branches throughout Sabah.

Its avowed objective is to drive Umno out of Sabah.

SWP claims to be BN-friendly except for its declared aim of wiping out PRS.

Larry had not so long ago claimed to be PRS President, a dispute which involved the ROS, and brought the party to the brink of deregistration if not for a timely move by then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step in and support embattled President James Masing. PRS was quick to expel Larry and his faction from the party despite the best efforts of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud to step in and save the young Chinese politician aspiring to lead the Dayak party.



Woaw! it seems Facebook has now acquired Israeli facial recognition firm Face.com for an undisclosed amount in a bid to strengthen its photo-sharing platform.

Face.com’s software is used for facial recognition on photos loaded on its websites and through mobile applications.

Face.com Founder Gil Hirsh said on his blog “Facebook has acquired Face.com”.

The announcement comes about two months after Facebook shelled out $1 billion for photo-sharing service firm Instagram.

Although financial details of the deals were not disclosed, media reports have pegged the transaction in the range of $60 million to $100 million.

Announcing the deal, Mr. Hirsh said, “Facebook is a part of your life every single day. We keep up with our friends and family, share interesting (or mundane) experiences from our daily lives, and perhaps most importantly for us, we share a lot of photos”.

Face.com’s apps scan billions of photos monthly, and have helped tag hundreds of millions of faces. It helps people to tag their own photos quickly and easily, and discover photos of themselves and their friends that they never knew existed.

The two recent acquisitions by Facebook, which has over 900 million users across the world, suggest that the social networking firm is taking huge interest in strengthening its photo-sharing platform.


In this time of stupefying political stagnation at the highest levels of the Government of Malaysia, good news is hard to come by. Good news is only possible when governments show that they are capable of firm economic and political decisions. And, there is not the smallest sign that the Najib’s government plans to do anything other than continue stagnating till the next general election somewhere on March/April 2013. Please do not allow 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) payment of RM500 to households with an income of less than RM3000 per month to fool you into believing that there are signs of renewal that are suddenly going to manifest themselves. The results of the last round of General Elections the 12th were so stunningly bad for UMNO that there is not a murmur of revival in the hot June air.

On the economic front, where there is the most urgent need for change, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala also Chief Executive Officer of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) drops a bombshell that Malaysia will be bankrupt by 2019 if it does not cut subsidies and rein in borrowings. Idris a Sarawakian the former “Number One Man” for Sarawak Shell further added fuel when he said that Malaysia’s debt would rise to 100 percent of GDP by 2019 from the current 54% if it did not cut subsidies. And what is even more frightening is when Idris said that Malaysia was likely to become an oil importer as early as next year at the current rate it was consuming petroleum. It seems Malaysians continue to be among the highest fuel consumers per capita in the world fuel consumption habits pattern which generally has remained relatively unchanged despite increased oil prices in 2008. The damage that can be done by a tired, comatose government before 13th General Elections is too horrific to think about but do not despair. There are signs of good news from the states.

You would have noticed them if you read between the lines of the statements that were made in Keningau Sports Complex few days ago by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak when he celebrated Tadau Kaamatan this year in Keningau with 20,000 Natives including, Huguan Siou Pairin Kitingan and Chief Minister Musa Aman. Najib openly acknowledged that Sabah is experiencing rapid growth under Musa Aman and Sabah in the first quarter of this year had attracted about RM10 billion from foreign investors including the Sabah Ammonia Urea (SAMUR) project in Sipitang and the Keningau Integrated Livestock Center and a lobster cultivation project in the east coast of Sabah. But, UMNO now rules only 8 states minus Sarawak, so it does not matter. What does matter is for chief ministers like Musa Aman, Lim Guan Eng and perhaps even Menteri Besars like Khalid and Tok Guru Nik Aziz to wake up to how they could become the engine that takes Malaysia forward despite the inertia in Putrajaya.

To wake up and become engine that takes Malaysia forward, sometimes the state governments should be vocal with the way development projects from the Federal is forced down their throats and not done according to the aspirations of the local population. So far they have only rebelled against the Rural Development Ministry’s attempts to set up rural development committees to bypass and to undermine the state governments without consulting them. In states were UMNO was not in control, the minister Shafie Apdal uses his district rural development committees to bypass and to undermine state governments. In states were UMNO is in control, the rural development program was used in a pork-barrel fashion to support local party leaders. And, the states are right to do so but they now need to become more vocal about other things like having centrally controlled development and welfare programmes rammed down their throats. I have met state ministers and state exco members who admit privately that they are often forced to sacrifice excellent welfare programmes of their own for the sake of national welfare programmes. Remember, the former Chief Minister Harris Salleh recently even said that Shafie’s Rural Ministry had even justified awarding a RM100 million tender amount for the Pulau Gaya electrification project when the actual tender cost was only about RM25 million. Harris Salleh even said that he had received “many complaints from rural folk” that the billions of ringgit allocated by the federal government for rural projects was not having an impact on their lives and these projects were introduced for the sake of contracts and most of them are of low standard.

This is wrong because I can confirm from my own field research that the rural development programmes and welfare programmes that work best are the ones that are locally controlled. I have said it before and I will say it again that if we are seriously interested in ensuring that not another child grows up malnourished and illiterate in Malaysia, the solution lies in giving kampong women control of food programmes. This is something that more enlightened chief ministers should start doing forthwith which brings us back to what chief ministers can do to become Malaysia’s engine of growth.

They must demand more control over their resources. The sight of chief ministers and Meneri Besars lining up outside the Putrajaya to beg for development funds is an ugly one. Some states are bigger than the whole of Peninsula Malaysia and they would develop and grow much faster if they had more control over their economies. Many distortions crept into Centre-State relations in those bad old days when UMNO controlled nearly all of our major state governments. These distortions need to be removed and should be quite easy to remove now that we see Non-UMNO chief ministers making common cause on matters of national security.

Once state governments start competing with each other to become popular tourist destinations, favorites for foreign investment and centres of excellence in rural development, education, healthcare, sanitation and infrastructure building, Malaysia will finally begin to really change.

If this starts to happen soon, then the deleterious consequences of having a stagnant government in Putrajaya and a Prime Minister who seems to be in a somnambulant state will be mitigated. At the moment, despite the “spectacular” success of BR1M, we are in the hands of so weak a government that not a day seems to go by without someone giving it a slap or two. In recent months, we have seen Ministers and supposedly faceless bureaucrat interfere publicly in matters of policy.

When Federal Ministers decide what our telecommunications and multimedia policy should be and when Ministers decides whether MAS should be refinanced or abandoned to its fate. And, when the Minister tells us despite possessing state-of-the-art warplanes, modern weapons  and submarines that the nation’s security was so fragile that it could be compromised by mineral water bottles and packets of salt, it starts to feel as if we do not have an elected government at all. The Chief Ministers and Menteri Besars have at least a mandate to rule and real administrative experience.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist
BRIEFLY The consensus at the grassroots level is that the 13th GE won’t see a repeat of the 2008 political tsunami in Peninsular Malaysia despite the alternative media because the vital Hindraf Makkal Sakthi factor, representing the Indian underclass in particular, will be missing this time.

The reasons are aplenty.

Bersih under super duper rich lawyer Ambiga Sreenivasan won’t be able to help Pakatan Rakyat (PR), especially Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), compensate for the absence of Hindraf.

Amibiga is no match whatsoever for Hindraf. She doesn’t represent the Indian underclass. She continues to get the support of the Chinese and Malays, the converted, for PR but the Indians, the crucial factor, is missing. Attacking Ambiga in racist terms is not going to make the Indians come rushing to her defence.

Indraf, the new NGO, is a sick PKR joke just as Malaysian Makkal Sakthi was a desperate Umno joke.

In the same vein, ex-PR propagandist and fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, currently held up by the Barisan Nasional (BN), has been labelled a “political clown” who’s full of himself.

The bottomline is that people did not vote for PR in 2008.

They voted against BN because of the bandwagon effect created by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi in Nov 2007 and mid-Feb 2008 and the alternative media playing it up.

Only the Indians can bring down the BN in Peninsular Malaysia.

If the Indians abstain, PKR will lose and BN will win by default and coupled with Sabah and Sarawak, BN will still form the Federal Government.

If the Indians vote against BN, even support from Sabah and Sarawak will not be enough to help BN to form the Federal Government.

People in Sabah and Sarawak are under the mistaken impression that they can be King Makers.

They are sadly mistaken.

Only the Indians can be King Makers or King Killers.

If Sabah and Sarawak are King Makers and King Killers, BN won’t continue to take them for granted as Fixed Deposit — think illegals — states.

If Sabah and Sarawak want to be a factor in politics in the mainstream, they should join forces with the Indians as a 3rd Force. By themselves, they will be not in the political mainstream, and that’s why Umno continues to ignore them and take them for granted.

PR will never form the Federal Government if they don’t get the Indian community to vote against BN. Note that the Indians voting against BN is not the same as voting for PR. The Indians voted against BN the last time because of Hindraf and not MIC.

By focussing on the Chinese and Malays, Anwar is merely preaching to the converted.

Come the 13th GE, PR will at best hang on to its gains of 2008 in Peninsular Malaysia including Perak.

At worst, PKR will lose all its seats outside Kuala Lumpur and in the five Opposition states of 2008 because of the Indians and maybe even the Malays.

The Chinese will be all out for PR, the Indians for Dap and Pas only.

The Indians will reject PKR as cast in the same mould as Umno and BN.

Where PKR loses, it will be because Indians didn’t vote for them and where BN wins, it will be because the Indians didn’t vote against them (BN). In both cases, the Indians would have abstained from voting.

The Chinese know that PKR is another Umno but think that the solution to that is to increase their numbers in the party.

If the Chinese are willing to do this with PKR, the Indians should adopt the same approach and give it time to get results for themselves. The Indians must remember that they can’t join Umno but PKR is open to them. At one time, Indians reportedly formed 40 per cent of the PKR membership but they left largely because of de facto party chief Anwar Ibrahim’s attitude to Hindraf.

Unfortunately, the Indians can only bring down the ruling party in the immediate future without themselves benefiting from the change. That’s why they left PKR.

It seems that the Indians are condemned to repeatedly bringing down the ruling party until the Chinese and Malays finally get the message that they (Indians) must be given their rightful place in the Malaysian sun or otherwise it will continue to undermine national security and thereby bring down and depress values — shares, property, currency etc — as investor and consumer confidence continues to be lacking.

In Sabah and Sarawak, come the 13th GE, the BN will not be able to repeat its performance of 2008. There will be a mini political tsunami in Sabah and Sarawak as a delayed reaction to the 2008 political tsunami in Peninsular Malaysia.

PKR will be rejected in Sabah. The party, rightly or wrongly, has acquired the stigma of being against the Orang Asal (Natives) and rooting, overtly and covertly, for the illegal immigrants allegedly on the electoral rolls.

Meanwhile, the longer the 13th GE is delayed, the less seats that Dap will win in Sabah.

The 3rd Force, albeit small, will come into being in Sabah if not Sarawak but at the expense of BN and not PR.

PR should work with the 3rd Force. It should not continue to belabour under the mistaken impression that the 3rd Force is its mortal enemy.

This is the same strategic mistake that they, especially PKR, has made with Hindraf Makkal Sakthi.

Again, it’s high time that PR accepted the fact that the people did not vote for them in 2008. They voted against BN and PR won by default.

There’s no place in Sabah and Sarawak for PR and eventually for BN too. It’s better for BN and PR to focus on Peninsular Malaysia and leave Sabah and Sarawak alone.

Sabah and Sarawak are 3rd Force and Hindraf Makkal Sakthi territory.

Sabah and Sarawak, being in the underclass like the Orang Asli and the great majority of the Indians, Christians and other minorities, are crucial to Hindraf’s strategy to cut Umno down to size and prevent PKR from getting too big for its boots.


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June 19, 2012

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By Kazi Anwarul Masud

History has repeated itself so many times in the case of the Rohingyas in Myanmar.

Even after the slackening of the authoritarian control over all sectors of the country by the military since General Ne Win’s military takeover of the country decades back and his Idi Amin –like forced deportation of the people of Indian origin( including Bangladeshis) xenophobic nationalism was adopted as the philosophy guiding the country. Burma Socialist Program Party, floated by the military to the total exclusion of all other political parties, effectively banned the expression of dissident opinion and pluralistic political arrangement in the country. Since then the Burmans who constitute 60% of the population and perhaps all the personnel in the military have been fighting wars with other ethnic groups like the Shan, Mon, Kchin, Arakanese and many others in the ruthless way the Romans adopted to rule their vast disparate empire and consequently driving out hundreds of people to Bangladesh, India and Thailand.

The Burmese military following strict socialistic policy till recently literally ran the resource rich country into the ground and forcing Burma to become a member of the least developed country. The Western world looked on indifferently, barring economic sanctions from time to time, while some of the atrocities in the name of state security interest were being committed by the Burmese junta. The principles of the responsibility to prevent and protect, sanctioned by the UN Summit in 1985 were found wanting but not in former Yugoslavia( where NATO attacks received universal approval along with consequent emergence of new states from the ashes of former Yugoslavia). Burma perhaps escaped international attention because of its geographical location ( it was out of the area for NATO and did not merit US strategic interest) and so its territorial integrity remained inviolate.

What justifies humanitarian intervention? Why Iraq invasion was so important for the West that both Bush jr and Tony Blair had to misrepresent to their own people that Saddam Hussain was about to strike with weapons of mass destruction and that he was bedding with the Taliban-both accusations have now been proved to be incorrect? Can it be that inter-ethnic conflicts are so common with inevitable results of ruthlessness and barbarity like in Sri Lanka and in some African countries that the West suffering from “imperial over-stretch” simply cannot come to the rescue of the rape, murder and annihilation or like in Syria where the efforts of the international community are stymied by veto wielding great power in the UNSC?

Perhaps the answer partly lies in the fact that many countries in the world, both developed, emerging and underdeveloped countries have ethnic minorities preventing their coming to the rescue of the victims of ethnic conflict lest finger is pointed at their record of discrimination against minorities. The declared “failure” of multiculturism in Europe where Jurgen Habermas’ post-secular society is seen as again finding a political space may be a case in point. The saga of the persecution of the Rohingyas is another example of ethnic conflict based mainly on religious differences.

Once again Rohingya people are fleeing from atrocities committed on them by the Buddhists in the Rakhine province into Bangladesh. Bangladesh is already hosting 200000 Rohingyas for the last two decades. The repatriation of these “stateless” persons has been very slow due to insistence by the Burmese authorities in ascertaining their identity which most of them either had not acquired any documents of nationality or had to leave everything behind to save their lives. Bangladesh, despite UN appeal to let the Rohingyas enter Bangladesh, has decided not to allow this time Rohingyas to enter the country in national interest.

Rohingyas were using the land border – kept open until recently ­ to cross over to Bangladesh. The local administration admitted that they had no actual data on the inflows of Rohingya refugees in Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar and the adjoining areas An added element has been added by the Burmese authorities accusing the activities of armed Rohingyas, aided by Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami, a right wing political party that had opposed the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, inside Myanmar. Bangladesh government is very clear on the question of refusing Bangladesh territory to be used for terrorism in any country. Some Western countries and UNHCR have urged Bangladesh to give refuge on humanitarian ground.

The US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a briefing in Washington regarding the issue that the US “ have been urging the Government of Bangladesh to respect its international obligations under the relevant refugee conventions and to continue its longstanding policy of non-refoulement of refugees”. Non-refoulement is a principle of the international law, i.e. of customary and trucial Law of Nations which forbids rendering a true victim of persecution to their persecutor; persecutor generally referring to a state-actor (country/government). Bangladesh Foreign Minister, however, said that Bangladesh is not a signatory to any international convention or protocol on refugees. She hoped that this ethnic problem would be solved by the Burmese authorities and peace will be established soon.

The Rohingya problem is not of recent origin. The ethnic conflict between the Muslim minority and the Buddhist majority has been going on for many years and became worse when General Ne Win seized power in 1962. Muslims were expelled from the army and were rapidly marginalized. Burma has a Buddhist majority. Muslims are stereotyped in the society as “cattle killers” (referring to the cattle sacrifice festival of Eid ul Adha in Islam). The generic racist slur of “kala” (black) used against perceived “foreigners” has especially negative connotations when referring to Burmese Muslims. The more pious Muslim communities who segregate themselves from the Buddhist majority face greater difficulties than those who integrate more at the cost of observance to Islamic personal laws. Muslims in Burma are affected by the actions of Islamic extremism in other countries.

Violence in Indonesia perpetrated by Islamists is used as a pretext to commit violence against Muslim minorities in Burma. The anti-Buddhist actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan (the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan) was also used as a pretext to commit violence against Muslims in Burma by Buddhist mobs. Bangladesh is not the only country of refuge for the Rohingyas. It is understood that over the years thousands of Rohingya also have fled to Thailand. There are roughly 111,000 refugees housed in 9 camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. There have been charges that groups of them have been shipped and towed out to open sea from Thailand, and left there. In February 2009 there was evidence of the Thai army towing a boatload of 190 Rohingya refugees out to sea. A group of refugees rescued by Indonesian authorities also in February 2009 told harrowing stories of being captured and beaten by the Thai military, and then abandoned at open sea. By the end of February there were reports that of a group of 5 boats were towed out to open sea, of which 4 boats sank in a storm, and 1 boat washed up on the shore. In February 2009 then Thailand’s prime minister Abshit admitted and regretted “any losses”, and promised to work on rectifying the problem. One may wonder who are these Rohingyas fighting for recognition as Burmese nationals where they claim to have lived for centuries.

Wikipedia reveals dispute over the origin of the term “Rohingya”. Some Rohingya historians contended that the term Rohingya is derived from Arabic word ‘Raham’ meaning sympathy. They trace the term back to the ship wreck in 8th century AD.

According to them, after the Arab ship wrecked near Ramree Island, Arab traders were ordered to be executed by Arakanese king. Then, they shouted in their language, ‘Raham’. Hence, these people were called ‘Raham’. Gradually it changed from Raham to Rhohang and finally to Rohingyas. However, the claim was refuted by some leaders of Arakan Muslim Conference who argued that ship wrecked Muslims are called ‘Thambu Kya’ Muslims and currently residing along the Arakan sea shore. Should the term Rohingya derive from these Muslims, “Thambu Kyas” would have been the first group to be known as Ruhaingyas. According to them, Rohingyas were descendants of inhabitants of Ruha in Afghanistan. Another historian argued that among the Muslim populations, the term ‘Mrohaung’ (Old Arakanese Kingdom) is corrupted to Rohang. And thus inhabitants of the region are called Rohingya.

These claims are categorically rejected by Burmese historians. Burmese historians like Khin Maung Saw asserted that the term Rohingya has never appeared in history before 1950s. According to another historian there is no such word as Rohingya in 1824 census survey conducted by the British. Historian Aye Chan from Kanda University of international studies noted that the term Rohingya was created by descendants of Bengalis in 1950s who migrated into Arakan during colonial area. He further argued that the term cannot be found in any historical source in any language before 1950s. However, he stated that it does not mean Muslim communities have not existed in Arakan before 1824. But history also reveals that during World war II Japanese forces invaded Burma, then under British colonial control. The British forces retreated and in the power vacuum left behind, considerable violence erupted. This included communal violence between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya villagers. The period also witnessed violence between groups loyal to the British and Burmese nationalists. The Rohingya supported the Allies during the war and opposed the Japanese forces, assisting the Allies in reconnaissance. The Japanese committed atrocities against thousands of Rohingya. They engaged in an orgy of rape, murder and torture In this period, some 22,000 Rohingya are believed to have crossed the border into Bengal, then part of British India, to escape the violence. 40,000 Rohingya eventually fled to Chittagong after repeated massacres by the Burmese and Japanese forces. The history of this part of Burma is replete with ethnic wars. The Muslims being a minority are the worst sufferers.

Rohingya activists have long fought for full citizenship and some were hopeful that after the recent elections and the victory of Aung San Su Kyi things would be better. But Aung San Su Kyi chose not to address the Rohingya issue during her visit to Thailand. All said and done Burma, under long military rule and the present façade of civilian government, remains a fractured, ethnic conflict –infested, pre-modern country despite being endowed with rich natural resources. It is true that after the visit of Hillary Clinton, some opening of the country to international community and internal political reform, and the holding of general elections through which Aung San Su Kyi was elected to Parliament the US has eased some of the sanctions imposed upon Burma and the ASEAN countries may enhance their engagement.

Bangladesh, as India has done, would like to get gas from Burma and increase trade with her. It is, therefore, to the advantage of the countries concerned to remain engaged with Burmese authorities. But as the Americans have learnt from their experience of engagement with the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, ethnicity and religion play a great role in underdeveloped societies.

Had it not been so the Yugoslavia, despite being a relatively developed economy, would not have fragmented into many independent states. In the case of Bangladesh we have to doggedly work with the UNHCR and international community to stop the exodus of the Rohingyas into Bangladesh and to effect the repatriation of those already in our country. Patient diplomacy would give result. Crossing of the swords will not. But he international community should not remain silent spectator to violence against unarmed people forcing them to flee their land of birth but should continue to encourage, in particular ASEAN countries, Burmese military to mend their ways enabling that resource rich country to be on the same page with the international community respecting the rights of their own people as well as those of the foreigners. But as Richard Hass, President of the Council of Foreign Relations notes: “Humanitarianism is another contender for America’s post-Cold War doctrine, and it is one that animated much of the foreign policy of the Clinton Administration.

The international community has enshrined the “responsibility to protect” as an obligation all states must fulfill on behalf of threatened peoples everywhere. The appeal of humanitarianism is obvious: to save innocent lives. Alas, there is no shortage of situations calling out for such intervention. But therein precisely lies part of the problem with humanitarianism”. Rohingyas, therefore, are likely to remain a forgotten chapter in the post-Cold War and current history where bread and butter issues gain prominence and perception of direct security threat are more important for the leading powers than the daily and deadly humiliation of some people in some remote part of the world.

About the author:

SAAGSAAG is the South Asia Analysis Group, a non-profit, non-commercial think tank. The objective of SAAG is to advance strategic analysis and contribute to the expansion of knowledge of Indian and International security and promote public understanding.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

ANALYSIS Malaysia Agreement or no Malaysia Agreement, Sarawak or Sabah/Labuan for that matter, cannot step outside the bounds with the Federal Government. Putrajaya belongs as much to the two Malaysian states in Borneo as to Peninsular Malaysia.

At a lower level, the Federal Government presides over the individual sultanates, states and territories in Peninsular Malaysia.

Five on-going issues, some simmering for long, have pitted the Sarawak state government in a head-long clash against the Federal Government. It’s anybody’s guess how Putrajaya will bring the recalcitrant Taib Mahmud regime to heel. Surely, the Joseph Pairin Kitingan administration (1985 – 1994) in Sabah is the mother of all precedents!

Now (drumroll) for the latest of the five issues viz. Native status, followed by immigration, heads of federal depts, NCR land and Taib’s long-promised retirement as Chief Minister.

In the latest move, the Sarawak National Registration Department’s (NRD) willful defiance of an 18 Nov 2009 policy circular, [ref: PM( R)11880/A/072/3 Jld 5] by the Chief Secretary to the Government is likely to inflame passions and further infuriate the Chinese and other non-Native communities in Sarawak against the state government.

Not that Taib cares anyway despite the drubbing he received in the urban and Chinese seats during last year’s state elections.

A Sarawakian non-Native married to a Bidayuh lady has come forward to scream in the local media, anonymously, that the Sarawak NRD does not recognise the Chief Secretary’s circular which rules that children born in Sabah and Sarawak of only one non-Native parent can henceforth be registered “by administration” as Natives. The only reason that this is happening is because recruitments for federal departments in Sarawak, unlike in Sabah, are done through the Sarawak Federal Public Services Commission.
The Sarawak NRD, according to Sarawakian, advised him to get confirmation from the Native Court and the Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (MAIS) on his children’s Native status. To add insult to injury, The Sarawak NRD reiterated that it doesn’t recognise the Chief Secretary’s said circular as valid.

MAIS told him point-blank that it interprets Native strictly as a citizen of Malaysia of any race which is now considered to be indigenous to Sarawak as set out in the Schedule under section 3 of the Interpretation Ordinance (1958 Edition), Chapter 1 of the Laws of Sarawak “and any admixture of the above races with each other”.

Obviously, the Sarawak NRD is wrong in law to ignore the said administrative policy circular from the Chief Secretary to the Government. The said circular has never been successfully challenged in Court and therefore, until such time, stands valid in law.

“Law” is not just Adat, the Constitution and Acts/Enactments/Ordinances but also constitutional conventions, administrative policies and even includes what can be deemed as “politically correct”.

That’s how Momogun (non-Natives) in Sabah can apply for Pasok (Native) status provided they are citizens in the state living among the latter community and habitually speaking Native languages and practising Native culture, customs and traditions.

For example, the Queen of England can refuse to appoint a Prime Minister on the grounds that the unwritten constitution and related aspects makes no reference to a Prime Minister.

In reality, the Queen appoints the Prime Minister anyway by convention. Otherwise, she would be precipitating a constitutional crisis.

Likewise, the Sarawak NRD has no business ignoring the said circular by the Chief Secretary to the Government. Wither 1Sarawak, if not 1Malaysia!

Those unhappy with the said circular, and this by the way does not include the Sarawak NRD, should take up the matter in Court by way of a Judicial Review of the administrative policy.
So, the right thing for the Sarawak NRD to do under the circumstances would be to accept the applications from “Sarawakian” and leave it to others with locus standi to challenge the administrative ruling in Court.

Instead, the Sarawak NRD seems to have created its own mini-administrative ruling to oppose the circular.

The Federal Government is also irked by the state government, under Taib’s directive, routinely barring Malaysian citizens from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah entering Sarawak.

The Special Provisions for East Malaysia, under the Immigration Act 1967, does not bestow the right to bar citizens from Sabah and Sarawak. The provision is only meant to safeguard local jobs from being taken by Peninsular Malaysians.

Likewise, Taib has been misusing the Immigration to deny long-term work permits to Peninsular Malaysians or Sabahans appointed as heads of Federal Departments in Sarawak. These appointees can only secure three-month work permits at a time instead of one for three years.

Will Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak blink when push comes to shove on the difficult patches with the state government and, as it is being predicted by the locals, flee with his tail between the legs when Taib says, “boo!”

The talk in Kuching is that Taib has gone back on his public pledge, made during the state elections in Sarawak last year, to resign as Chief Minister not long after the results come in and certainly well before the 13th General Elections. Instead, Taib woke up the 90-year-old Governor and had himself sworn in as the Chief Minister in the dead of night instead of waiting until the next morning.

Taib, when pressed by Najib on the resignation issue, is reported to have retorted in a challenge: “Let’s see who will retire first, whether me or you!”

The Federal Government is also extremely unhappy that the Sarawak state government has virtually ignored several NCR land cases which went against it in Court. Putrajaya released several million ringgit to demarcate Native lands in Sarawak but Taib, being displeased with the funding, has been dragging his foot on the issue. In the lands reluctantly demarcated so far by the state government, only the area immediately surrounding a longhouse is being considered NCR land while communal land further away is being treated as state land.

Najib seems ever mindful that Taib, with at least 25 parliamentary seats behind him, can dictate to him at least for the moment given his stand-off in Peninsular Malaysia with the national opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat.

It goes without saying that had Taib been a non-Muslim, Najib would have gone after him hammer and tongs as what former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad did to Pairin.

HAPPY FATHERS’ Day!

Posted: June 17, 2012 in Eric Clapton, Fathers Day

This is for you Pa, I know you are watching over me from high above, MISS YOU SO MUCH….