Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dear Ambassador Todt

by Art Harun

MAY 21 — Hi there. It's me again. Your friendly, average and simple Malaysian with no entitlement. I hope you are keeping fine. Please do. Because Malaysia, quite obviously, needs a Frenchman like you to be her ambassador.

You know, actually, there were a couple more persons who were considered to be an Ambassador of Tourism. Datuk Shah Rukh Khan was one of them. But his propensity for not attending ceremonies, even when they were organised to ceremonised him, caused his disqualification.

I heard Hee Yit Foong, the lady ADUN from Perak, was also considered for this job. My inside source however told me that her inclination towards carrying a morphable key-chain and pepper spray was a negative aspect causing her nomination for the job adversely affected. The final nail on the proverbial coffin was apparently struck when she was asked to orally shout a slogan to promote tourism and she instantly and very distinctively said "Come to Berak". Needless to say Mr Ambassador, you got the job.

You must be happy. I am too, if I were you. But unfortunately I am not you. You know, it takes people like Jamaluddin Jarjis years and years of being involved in politics and serving the peasants of Malaysia as a minister before he would even be considered to be an ambassador. Even then, he still hasn't got the job. But you got the job just two weeks after you became a second-hand Malaysian! Aren't you proud Mr Ambassador? I betcha! That is even faster than a Brawn GP car. (Sorry, I wanted to say faster than a Ferrari, but .... well, you know what I mean.)

One piece of reminder though. Please don't go about pinching some young asses in some bar, okay. The mere fact that you are an ambassador does not mean that you could do that with impunity. Furthermore, I am sure Ms Yeoh would not be happy if you did that.

The word is Malaysia and France are now even. No, I am not talking about football. Because in football terms we are quite obviously not even. I mean, Platini, Blanc and Barthez could even play in the team with their balls collectively tied up together against our team and I am sure we would still lose 13-1. And even then, the goal which we score would have been scored when Barthez was taking a ciggy break and Platini was checking having an impromptu prostate check. No. In football we are not even, quite obviously.

What I am talking about is this. We have a miserable singer who can't sing very well in France. He is Datuk Shake. And France has a guy who can't really drive well over here to become an ambassador. Yes. 1-1. Even. That's what I mean.

If you must know Mr Ambassador (or is it Your Excellency? I mean our Foreign Minister addressed the US State Secretary as one the other day), Malaysia is truly Asia. We have people who behave like some Iranian Ayatollah here. In fact, if you go to some of our government school, you would think you are in Iran.

And some women here behave like Imelda Marcos. In addition, there is a bit of Sultan Brunei in some of our royalty. Then sometimes we have the FRU, policemen and army lining up the streets like the Thai army and police (although in Thailand they do that because there were thousands and thousands of protesters on the street whereas in Malaysia there were only people having breakfast in a restaurant and burning some candles on the pavement!).

We also have people who behave like Ferdinand Marcos and Suharto in Malaysia. And the Tamil Tigers are also here, apparently. We also have quite strong traces of the Taliban here, even in Parliament sometimes. Try bringing in a Bible in Malay and I am sure you will be meeting these. Added to that, Malaysia also is very closely connected to the Bangladeshis, Myanmars, Indonesians, Vietnamese and what have you. Apart from that, there also appear to be many Chinese babes from China in KL, especially at night.

In our administration, our Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and its empowering law are loosely based on the Hong Kong set-up. But, of course, implementation and enforcement wise we are different la.

There you go. Without doubt, Malaysia is indeed truly Asia.

As the Tourism Ambassador, I am sure you must also come up with schemes to promote tourism here. I think you should tell Yen Yen or whoever is responsible to not use Visit Malaysia Year 2009 or 2010 or 2011 anymore. Tell her to use "Visit Malaysia Year Every Year" instead. That way, the ministry concerned would not have to make new posters, flyers and whatever promo stuff every year because the year keeps on changing. Save some trees and, more importantly, money. After all, the ministry, through Pempena, had lost a lot of it some time ago.

I am sure you know how to do your work very well. But, please do allow me to teach you anyway. Here are some suggestions on the do's and don'ts.

I think you should, while promoting tourism to Malaysia your second home, advise potential tourists on several matters. First and foremost, tell them not to wear black upon arrival. That is a complete no no. Then, if they are thinking of bringing as a souvenir to their Malaysian friends a Bible in Malay, tell them to forget about that. In fact, tell them not to bring more than one Bible (even if it is in English) for any one group. Preferably, they should be in Latin. That is because we Malaysians are adverse to the Bible as do vampires to the crucifix or garlic. Don't ask me. I don't know why.

Further, I think you should remind that old couples, especially Americans, should not sleep together in a hotel room, particularly in Langkawi. Otherwise, some religious authority officers, or people claiming to be from such authorities, might storm into their room and arrest them for khalwat or close proximity.

Upon arrival, tourists must see the grandeur of our airport. If you have the chance, take them to the LCTT too. They would notice that our airport serves not too many people and airplanes. But still we must build another LCTT for whatever reason. On the way to KL, you of course can tell tourists to make a detour to the F1 circuit to see some races. But do tell them not to waste their time. Because they can witness better, and more exciting, motorcycle races along the Kesas Highway or somewhere in Bandar Tun Razak or Cheras at 3am. But do tell them not to bring any wallet or handbag while watching, okay?

Malaysia has nice places in abundance. Places with high historical values are also around. I think the first place to go is the KLCC. They used to be the tallest buildings in the world. But now they are the tallest twin towers in the world. You must tell the tourist Mr Ambassador, that the KLCC is proof that a man's ego can manifest itself into many things. And one of it is the desire to build the tallest buildings.

Indeed, Malaysia is entered as the country with the most number of records in the record book. Longest teh tarik. Biggest bunga manggar. Longest beef grill. Biggest kites. I heard we are now attempting to have the most number of speakers in a state legislative assembly and the most number of mentris besar — at the same time — in a state as well. Not to mention the quickest change of government in the whole world. Like at 11am today you have one government and at 11.30am tomorrow you have another government. Things like that. It is like quicker than a Ferrari pit stop, if you know what I mean. Do you know what I mean?

The KLCC is also home to what we Malaysian think is the most highly capitalised condom shop in the world. It is called Valuecap. Nobody knows what it does although it loses billions and was given more billions. But judging by the name, it must be something to do with condoms we suppose.

The KLCC is also the building featured in the movie "Entrapment". But the darn Hollywood people made us look so bad when they doctored the picture in that movie and made it look like the KLCC was situated at the fringe of a dirty river. Not that we do not have dirty rivers here but that is totally misleading. Malaysians and the Malaysian government do not like misleading statements especially when foreigners are the one who make them. You see Mr Ambassador, in Malaysia only the mainstream media are licensed to mislead.

On my part, however, I objected to the movie because of a scene in which that wrinkly old man was hugging, rubbing and kissing the pretty babe. Please don't be upset Mr Ambassador. I am not talking about you and Ms Yeoh. I was talking about Sean Connery and Zeta Jones in that movie.

After that, the tourists could be brought to Brickfield, our very own "Little India". But they must not miss visiting the police station there. This is where lawyers were arrested simply because they had wanted to see their clients in the station. Oh yes. While visiting this place, please don't wear black or carry any candle. T-shirts with the words "Head Hunter" printed on it should be okay.

At night, perhaps you could suggest that the tourists take a trip to our own "Chinatown". This is in Petaling Street.

What makes this "Chinatown" so unique, you may ask. Well, this is the only Chinatown in the world where there are more Bangladeshis and Myanmars than there are Chinese. It is a Chinatown like no other. In fact it is a non-Chinese Chinatown. Here, not only the whole Malaysia is on sale. Here, the whole world is on sale. They can buy Rolex, Panerai, Franck Mueler and whatever watches for 40 bucks. And various handbags from Italy at such low prices.

I mentioned just now about "the whole Malaysia is on sale". Well, this is one of those projects that we have where during certain times of the year; all shopping complexes will be having "sales" where huge discounts are offered. Now don't you go thinking that the whole Malaysia is for sale. That is seditious.

The next day, perhaps, they all should go to Klang. On the way though, please make sure they stop at the forested area somewhere near the Subang dam at Puncak Alam. This is where the body parts of a certain Mongolian woman (you know la... the one that I told you not to mention her name in my last letter to you) were found. She is believed to have been murdered and blown up to pieces at this area. I doubt it. Because there is no record of her ever coming to Malaysia. If she wasn't in Malaysia, how could she be murdered in Malaysia? Rumour has it that she was actually abducted by alien submarines. I tend to believe this more.

While in Shah Alam, do go to the High Court. This was where a very brave judge ordered the release of an ISA detainee despite the law purportedly allowed him to only scrutinise comas and full stops when a release application is made.

In Port Klang, please visit the PKFZ. This is a port support complex built to Malaysia's highest standard. Nothing was left unattended in the building of this complex. The cost was originally RM1 billion. It later became RM2 billion. Then RM4 billion and now it is RM10 billion. Some say it is RM12 billion. It is an awesome complex. I mean, it is such a complex complex. Very complex. It is so complex that a report about it had taken months to prepare and be read by the minister. Probably the report itself has become complex now.

There is also a palace to visit in Klang. But the owner has passed away. So, let's not talk about it.

Oh, I forgot. While on the way to Shah Alam, don't forget to stop at a condominium called Tivoli Villa. This is a historical place. It was in one of the condominium here that our former DPM was accused of having committed sodomy. The only thing is, the sodomy was supposed to have occurred even before the condominium was completed. I told you before, we are very unique people.

By the way, at this juncture may I remind you to tell the tourists that sodomy is a crime in Malaysia. So, all those tourists who are gay, please take note. If they are caught, they could be charged and the mattress on which they commit the act could be brought to court. Just be careful in what they do in Malaysia. We are all very upright — morally, that is — here. After all, we have "Asian values", you know. Speaking of which, we also have the "Malay Dilemma". And the "Melayu Baru". As well as the "Melayu Glocals". Now we have "1 Malaysia".

Further to the north, of course, you would want to bring the tourists to the state from which Ms Yeoh comes from, namely, Perak. Go to the state capital Ipoh. There is a tree there which is of some significant. A whole session of the state legislative assembly was convened and proceeded under that tree. Tell that to the tourists. Then go to the state secretariat building. Look at the legislative assembly hall. This is where they have two speakers. And two MBs. Two governments too. This is also a place where a key chain could morph itself into a pen drive and later a pepper spray.

This assembly is also probably the only assembly where the police could come in and forcibly removed the speaker. And it is also the only assembly where a meeting could remove the speaker even before the meeting actually started. (The sodomy occurred in a condominium before the condominium was actually completed and the speaker was removed at a meeting before the meeting started — you see the trend here?). Weapons can also be brought in. And please do visit the mamak restaurant nearby. But please do not have breakfast there. You might get arrested.

While there, do find a football player dubbed the Pangkor Pele and get your autograph signed by him. After all, Malaysia is not only truly Asia but also truly Brazil at times.

Down south, the tourists should go to Malacca and take a ride on a Ferris wheel known as the "Eye of Malacca". This is a very special Ferris wheel. It is a mobile one. It was in Kuala Lumpur and later it moved itself to Malacca. It is probably the most expensive one too. In KL, it costs the government 30 million bucks per year. Yes. Thirty million. Apparently it was handmade by the French. I don't know. That was the rumour. Don't be surprised if next year, they build a contact lens for that "eye" at a cost of 15 million or something.

Then you all can go to Johor. On the way to Johor Baru, the state capital, please do stop at Batu Pahat and go and have lunch or something at Katerina Hotel. This is the hotel where a former minister had sex with a personal friend. The sex act was secretly taped and soon DVDs of the "show" was distributed to the public. Come to think of it, while in Petaling Street, the tourists might be able to buy this DVD as souvenirs for their beloved ones. Don't forget to buy the T-shirt as well. It is printed "My dad goes to Malaysia and all I get is a sex DVD". Awesome!

Speaking of souvenirs, if the tourists choose to buy that DVD as a souvenir, they can choose to buy another tape or recording just to complete their collection. Buy both and their collection would be considered "premium". Yes. Complete their collection by also buying the Lingam tape. They will not be disappointed. From the Lingam tape, the tourists could, for example, learn that someone who looks like someone and sounds like that same someone might not be that someone after all. Very unique indeed.

Finally, you all will arrive in Johor Baru. Here, the attraction is of course the "crooked bridge". But hang on. It is not there yet. It was supposed to be there. Then it was not suppose to be there. Now it is supposed to be there again.
Please do also visit a cluster of rocks called "the middle rocks" in the straits between Johor and Singapore. This cluster of rocks should be called "the middle finger" because it is obviously Singapore showing us, in Malaysia, its middle finger. But do go there only during low tide. During high tide, the rocks will be submerged. You see, this is again very unique. Malaysia is probably the only country where her international boundary depends on the tides. I am sure the tourists would be interested to know.

I wish you all the best in your job.

Yours sincerely,
A. Harun

P.S. I have always wondered. Why do the French call the French toast a toast although it is not toasted? — www.art-harun.blogspot.com

Anifah to Anwar: See you in court

By Adib Zalkapli, Malaysia Insider

SEPANG, May 17 - Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman today said he is ready to face Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in court over his statement that Anwar had offered him the deputy prime minister's position if he crossed over to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) last year.

"Oh yes, I have no problem with that, as the foreign minister I have better things to do, Anwar is the least of my concern," said Anifah when asked whether he is prepared to face legal action by Anwar after he refused to retract his remark.

Anifah, at a joint press conference with Hillary Clinton in the United States on Thursday, said Anwar had offered him the deputy prime minister post to lure him to defect to PR, but Anwar had yesterday denied the allegation and threatened to take legal action.

Speaking to reporters upon his arrival from the United States, Anifah said that Anwar had called him once last year to make the offer.

"I told him, 'Don't waste your time, I am not willing to leave Umno and Barisan Nasional'," said Anifah adding that the matter was an open secret. When asked when the call was made he said he could not remember as he did not treat the call from Anwar as something important.

Anifah said he only revealed what Anwar did in Washington because a reporter there had asked about the charges against the opposition leader.

"There was a reporter who asked a question about whether all the charges against Anwar were politically motivated so I told the reporter that I have utmost faith in our judicial system, there is no need to doubt, our judicial system is free and independent," said Anifah citing the recent High Court declaration on the Perak crisis which favoured the PR.

He added that Anwar was being irresponsible by tarnishing the country's image in the United States which is Malaysia's largest trading partner.

"I believe it is necessary to tell the Americans the truth," said Anifah.

Remarks by Malaysian Foreign Minister After his Meeting with US Secretary of State

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 14, 2009

QUESTION: Opposition leader – or opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim faces charges again, and I believe a trial later this summer, on charges that the State Department itself in the annual human rights report said are politically motivated. Did you raise his case specifically in your meeting today? And, Mr. Minister, if you would care to comment on that case and specifically on the American position that the charges against Mr. Ibrahim are politically motivated.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with respect to the latter question, we raised rule of law issues and the larger questions concerning the institutional reforms that Malaysia has been pursuing. We’re on record as to our opinion as to that particular case, and I think that speaks for itself.

FOREIGN MINISTER ANIFAH: I’d like to address the comment on Anwar Ibrahim. You know, we have utmost faith in our judicial system. And recently, as late as a few days ago, the court has declared that the chief minister of a particular state which comes from the opposition as election of a chief minister which is a rulings against the government. And insofar as Anwar Ibrahim is concerned, (inaudible) he – we know him very, very well. And he has – more or less, what he has said, especially overseas, most of the things are untrue; for example, like the involvement of our honorable prime minister and the murder of a Mongolian citizen. And he has repeatedly said before the elections that he will provide evidence and yet, until today, he has not given anything.

And also just for the information of the audience here that, you know, he also said that he will form a government on 16 September and he has changed the dates many time. And he was trying to entice the members of parliament. And I was personally offered to jump into the oppositions and offered a very lucrative position, and also to be told it’s like a deputy prime minister. And these are not known to the world at large. And he has started, you know, trying to buy into other, you know, legislative members. And I think what he is doing – he has not accepted the result of what – the last elections. And we have lost five states and we willingly and accept the people’s verdict. And all the time we leave it to the people to decide, and which, on the other hand has not been able to accept.

And it’s also my concern and that of our government that it is what he has been doing overseas to tarnish the image of Malaysia, which impinge trade and indirectly and directly, you know, bring hardship to the people of Malaysia, which he said he’s very, very concerned about. And therefore, it is our wish and hope that he will respect the democratic system in Malaysia, which is very open and which, I think, we have conformed to the wish of the people. And we have repeatedly told him that if he believes that he is the rightful prime minister, or his party has been sidetracked, then it is – wait for the next election. And he has continuously gave wrong impressions and accused all the government officials of being corrupted, which is part and parcel of the system (inaudible). And the people have rejected him in Malaysia, and is a proof that he has not been able to accept.
Thank you.


Raja Petra Kamarudin ( Malaysia Today : Monday, 04 May 2009)

From the 12th to the 22nd September 2008, I was detained at the Police Remand Centre (PRC) where most ISA detainees spend their first 60 days of detention. Suddenly, on the morning of the 22nd, I was told that my interrogation, which was held from the 17th to the 21st, is going to end and that they have to finalise their report that same day.

That was the first surprise.

I was supposed to sign my statement the following day -- on the 23rd. Instead, I was packed off to Kamunting the morning of the 23rd without being allowed to sign the statement cum confession.

That was the second surprise.

What was it that the higher-ups were so scared about that they wanted to keep my confession cum statement from those who were supposed to review it and decide whether I can be released or should be sent to Kamunting for further detention? I really don’t know because they never told me.

Anyway, here is part of my interrogation by the Special Branch -- what they asked and what I replied.

The last time you were detained for 54 days, is that correct?

Yes, it was from 11 April to 6 June 2001. I think it was about 54 days.

You were not sent to Kamunting right?

That’s correct.

That’s because you cooperated. So if this time you also cooperate then there is a good chance you will also not be sent to Kamunting. You might be allowed to go home like the last time.

(I just nod)

We find your Statutory Declaration very hard to believe.

Why do you say that?

Well, we don’t think what you said about Rosmah being at the murder scene is correct.

How do you know?

It is highly unlikely. Rosmah is very rich. She has plenty of money. Why would she want to take the risk of going there personally? She can pay someone to do the job. No need for her to go there herself.

Well, that’s what I was told, that she went there personally.

We don’t think so. It doesn’t make sense for her to go there herself.

Okay, if you say so, but I know what I was told.

Who told you?

Lt Kol Azmi Zainal Abidin. He is the number two in the Special Branch of the Military Intelligence.

Yes, we know who he is.

So, that means you can ask him yourself then since you know him.

But how do you know he was telling you the truth? He could be setting you up.

I admit I don't know Lt Kol Azmi that well. But he is always in Ku Li’s office. He is very close to Ku Li. And Anwar Ibrahim also knows him very well.

So you are not really that close to Lt Kol Azmi. That means you don’t know whether you can trust him. We feel he is setting you up as the fall guy.

Maybe if I had to just trust him then I wouldn't dare take that risk. I mean; I don’t know him well enough to trust him all the way. But the person who introduced us is a very old friend. I’ve known him for about 45 years, longer than I’ve known my wife. And I trust my friend. My friend gave me his personal assurance that the story is legit.

Who is that friend?

Nik Azmi Nik Daud. We call him Bull. He works for Ku Li. I also asked Din Merican to check with Anwar whether I can trust Lt Kol Azmi with my life. Those were the exact words I used.

What did Anwar say?

Anwar replied you should never trust anyone with your life. However, Lt Kol Azmi’s information is very reliable. I also asked John Pang, who also works for Ku Li, to check with Ku Li whether Lt Kol Azmi’s information is reliable. I told John what Lt Kol Azmi told us and asked him to inform Ku Li about it. John confirmed that Lt Kol Azmi told Ku Li the same thing and that the information is reliable.

So that is why you signed the Statutory Declaration?

No. Actually, initially, I wanted to just write an article, like usual. But Bull asked to meet first before I write anything. So we met early April at La Bordega in Bangsar. Bull suggested I should instead sign a Statutory Declaration, as that would be stronger. They can ignore my article but they can’t ignore a Statutory Declaration.

Then you signed it?

No. I still did not sign it yet. I was worried about the repercussions. We would be forcing the government to act and they might come down hard on me. As Bull said, they can ignore my article but they can’t ignore a Statutory Declaration. Bull called for a second meeting on the Sunday before I signed the Statutory Declaration. We met at the Selangor Club Dataran Merdeka for lunch.

And then?

I told Bull I was a bit worried about signing a Statutory Declaration because the government will surely arrest and charge me if I do. I felt an article would be safer. But Bull disagreed. He felt an article was not strong enough. Bull said if anything happens to me they would go to court to testify that what I had signed is the truth. Bull assured me they would not allow me to rot in jail. So, on the 18th June, I signed the Statutory Declaration.

Are you sure they will come forward to testify in your trial?

That’s what Bull told me and I trust him. As I said, I’ve known him for 45 years.

Okay, let’s see whether they do or not. But we think they will not. They will not come forward to testify at your trial.

Maybe. Maybe what you say is true. I don’t know. Let’s see. After all I have already been charged and my trial will soon start. Let’s see whether they keep their word and testify at my trial. But I am confident they will because they have given me their assurance.

We believe you have been set up as the fall guy. Maybe they want to get rid of you.

I don’t think so. Anyway, we will know soon enough once my trial starts. It is going to be a most interesting trial indeed once the truth surfaces. Don’t you think so?

Didn’t Najib’s people approach you to make a deal?

You mean to buy my silence? Yes, they did.


Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis.




It was not long after I was charged for sedition, before I signed the Statutory Declaration. JJ phoned and said he wanted to meet. I knew he was working for Najib so I agreed. We met at the car park outside Kelab Taman Perdana. My wife drove me there and waited at a distance. She was worried that it may be a trap and she wanted to be cautious in case they were setting me up, or something like that.

JJ arrived about 6pm and asked me to get into his car. He was alone. I waved to my wife and signalled her to go home and she wrote down JJ’s car number plate in case I disappeared or whatever.

We drove to a roadside stall in Jalan Ipoh and sat there and talked. JJ told me that Najib had asked him to meet me to make a deal. I asked him whether Najib really knows we are meeting and whether he had endorsed or sanctioned the meeting and JJ replied that our meeting was on Najib’s instructions.

We spent about an hour talking. The bottom line is he wanted me to stop writing about Najib and Altantuya. He also asked me whether I could delay my sedition trial until Najib becomes the Prime Minister. Once Najib is installed as Prime Minister they will drop the charges against me. I will also receive a monthly allowance of RM30,000 for my cooperation. He didn’t say for how long though.

I asked him how to delay the trial and he replied I can always get a medical certificate to confirm I am not fit enough to attend trial. I told him if I delayed the trial then the legal costs would increase and he offered to pay all the legal fees. He asked me to get my lawyers to issue an invoice and he would pay the cost, whatever it may be.

I told my lawyers about this incident so that at least some other people know about it.

So, what happened to the deal?

Soon after that I signed my Statutory Declaration. That was my way of saying no deal. After that they arrested me and charged me for criminal defamation. I suppose that was their way of replying to my reply.

Wouldn’t it have been better for you to accept the deal? After all, Najib is soon going to be the Prime Minister.

Maybe. But it’s too late now isn’t it? I have already burned my bridges behind me.

The above is a small portion of my questions and answers session with the Special Branch over the five days of interrogation. This, plus a lot more, was compiled into a report, which I was supposed to sign on the morning of 23 September 2008 -- but which never materialised for some strange reason. I am probably the first ISA detainee in almost 50 years who made a statement (confession) but was never asked to sign it.

Altantuya : how and why she was killed?

The Altantuya Shaaribuu’s Case :
How and why she was killed?

(First published in Liberation French newspaper, 5th of March 2009)

Shaaribuu Setev is a bitter and disappointed man. Yet behind the saddened face of this Mongolian lies a fierce determination. Seated in a sofa in the lobby of an Ulaan Baataar hotel rattled by gushes of a freezing wind, this sixty years old man is ready to fight. His face features, hardened by the suffering and the stern climate, and his intense gaze tell all. “My daughter has been murdered by Malaysians on Malaysian territory. And they did not have even offer a word of apology,” states this professor of psychology at the National University of Mongolia.

The assassination of his daughter, Altantuya Shaaribuu, took place in October 2006. This was a murder unlike others in a region where business conflicts or petty politics are often settled with a gun. Everything in this case, which started in 2002 when the French Spanish company Armaris concluded the sale of three submarines to the Malaysian government for the amount of one billion Euros, is out of the ordinary.

The impact of the “Altantuya case” in France, Malaysia and Mongolia has yet to reach its climax. The murder of the 28 year old Mongolian was the result of a “commission” at the price of 114 million Euros by Armaris to its Malaysian counterpart. This “commission,” which was acknowledged by the Malaysian government in front of the Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, has triggered a chain of events that has led to the assassination of Altantuya and the disappearance of several key witnesses in the case.

A report from the Malaysian police, written on 19th November 2006 and which has been kept secret until now, reveals dry and precise descriptions as to how this young woman, a member of Asian high society, has been killed. In this document, one of the killers, a policeman of the Malaysian Special Branch named Sirul Omar, replied to the questions of an officer at a police station close to the murder scene.

“When the Chinese woman saw that I was taking a gun, she begged me to spare her, saying she was pregnant. Azilah (the commanding officer of Sirul) grabbed her and [threw] her on the ground. I immediately shot the left side of her face. Then Azilah took off her clothes and put them in a black plastic bag. Azilah noticed that her hand was still moving. He ordered me to shoot again, which I did”, said Sirul.

This is the first confirmation of Altantuya’s assassins’ identity. “Then we carried her body into the woods. Azilah wrapped the explosives around her legs, her abdomen and her head, and we exploded her.”

The revelation of this report in the French newspaper Liberation is the latest chapter in this colorful and dramatic saga featuring French weapon sellers, Mongolian Shaman, and Malaysian politicians. This case is explosive not only for the Malaysian government, since the deputy Prime minister Najib Razak (who is scheduled to become Prime minister at the end of March) is suspected of having links to the case, but also because it could embarrass the DCNS, this French company specialising in military shipbuilding. The French Spanish company Armaris, which sold two Scorpène and one Agosta submarines to Malaysia in June 2002, was bought by DCNS in 2007.

With her magnetic beauty and sophistication, Altantuya is reminiscent of the troubling image of a Far East Mata Hari. She grew up in Saint Petersburg (Russia), then studied at the Institute of Economic Management in Beijing. Besides speaking English, she is fluent in Russian, Chinese and Korean. The fateful cycle for Altantuya came into gear when she met Abdul Razak Baginda in Hong Kong in 2004. Baginda is a security expert and the director of the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre, a pro-government think tank. The two quickly became romantically involved. Altantuya, nicknamed Tuya by her friends, proved to be a useful assistant, helping Baginda translate from Russian to English.

Whereas Altantuya is young and beautiful, the rich and alluring Baginda is a well known figure of the Kuala Lumpur’s elite, notably because of his proximity to the Malaysian Deputy Prime minister and minister of Defense Najib Razak (he is also his security affairs adviser). Baginda parades in the most exclusive circles of Kuala Lumpur, sometimes accompanied by his legitimate wife.

In March 2005, Altantuya and Baginda departed for Europe, touring France, Germany, Italy and Portugal in the red Ferrari of Baginda, staying in posh hotels and dining in the finest restaurants of the old Continent. This trip, however, was not only for tourism: the contract for the sale of the submarines had been signed in 2002, but important details had yet to be settled. “We knew that Baginda was used by Deputy Prime minister Najib Razak as an intermediary for weapons systems deals, especially the high level ones,” says a regional security affairs expert.

At the end of March 2005 the couple was in Paris, where they met with Najib Razak. A picture shows the threesome in a Parisian private club. “Tuya showed me the pix. She said that one of the men was her boyfriend, Abdul Razak Baginda, and the other the “big boss”, Najib Razak. I asked her if they were brothers because of the names, but she said no, and that Najib Razak was the ‘prime minister’”, said Amy, Altantuya’s best friend (Najib Razak has sworn on the Koran that he has never met Altantuya). According to a private detective, now in hiding in India, the beautiful Tuya was also the occasional mistress of the deputy Prime minister, who was introduced to her by Baginda at the end of 2004.

The story became dramatic when, in October 2006, Altantuya was informed that the commission paid by the French-Spanish company Armaris had arrived on a Kuala Lumpur bank account. It had been paid to Perimekar, a company owned by Baginda. Altantuya rushed to Kuala Lumpur, in order to claim her share of the commission from Baginda ; she said she was entitled to 500,000 dollars. Baginda and Altantuya broke up prior to this. A jealous Rosmah Mansor, the feared businesswoman and wife of Najib Razak, objected any payment to Altantuya. Altantuya arrived in Kuala Lumpur with two other Mongolian women, one of them was a Shaman responsible for putting a spell on Baginda if he refused to pay. For several days, Altantuya harassed her ex-lover.

On the 18th of October, Baginda could no longer tolerate the daily scenes made by Altantuya in front of his house. He contacted the Director of the Special Branch, Musa Safrie, who happened to also be Najib Razak’s aide de camp.

On October 19th, 2006, a little before 9 pm, two police officers of the Special Branch, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Omar, were sent in front of Baginda’s house where Altantuya was gesticulating and shouting. They had the order of “neutralizing the Chinese woman.” They kidnapped her, and drove her ten kilometers away and shot her several times. Then, they destroyed her body with C 4 explosives, a type which can only be obtained from within the Defense Ministry. Her entry into Malaysia was erased from the immigration records. It would appear that Altantuya had never come to Malaysia, because there is no trace left of her. There is no perfect crime. The taxi driver hired by Altantuya for the day did not appreciate that his passenger was kidnapped under his eyes without payment for the fare. He took note of the registration plate of the kidnapper’s car and filed a complaint at the local police station. In a few days, the police identified the car and realized that it was a government vehicle. Events unfolded that even the Deputy Prime minister Najib Razak could not impede. He tried to cover the case. A few hours before the arrest of Baginda, he sent him a SMS : “I will see the Inspector General of Police at 11 am today… The problem will be solved. Be cool”. A few hours after, Baginda was arrested as well as the two police officers of the Special Branch, Azilah and Sirul.

After a trial considered dubious by many observers, Baginda was acquitted with the accusation of having ordered the murder and released in November 2008. Accused of having perpetrated the murder, Azilah and Sirul appeared in front of the Court last month. If convicted, their sentence is death. The verdict is scheduled for the 9th of April. Thousands of miles from there, in the Mongolian capital city Ulaan Baataar, Shaaribuu Setev, Altantuya’s father, is trying to control his anger. To him and his family, the acquittal and release of Baginda is symbolic of the unfairness of the Malaysian judicial process: “The Malaysian government is not even answering to the letters from the Mongolian Foreign Affairs Ministry,” he says.

When Shaaribuu came to the Malaysian parliament to meet Najib Razak, the Deputy Prime minister had to escape through a back door in order to avoid an embarrassing encounter. The Altantuya case has become a key element of the Malaysian political game between Najib Razak (who is expected to become Prime Minister after the United Malay Nation Organisation (UMNO) Congress in March) and the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. So far, Najib Razak has navigated around the obstacles, but the murder of the young Mongolian remains a sword suspended over his head.

One of the most obscure aspects of the Altantuya case is the role of the Armaris company. In October 2007, the Malaysian Deputy Defense minister, Zainal Abidin Zin, acknowledged in front of the Parliament that Armaris had effectively paid 114 million Euros in commission to Perimekar. He maintained that it was not a bribe, but a payment for “support and coordination services.”

Was there corruption as in the case of the Taiwanese frigates in which the French DCNS was also implicated ? DCNS, a private company with public financing, has declined our request for a meeting. “Nobody can comment on this case,” was the sober reply of the DCNS Press relations officer in Paris. A document, which could establish a link between Altantuya and the French company is the guarantee letter written by Abdul Razak Baginda so that his mistress could obtain a visa to enter the Schengen zone (of whom France is a member country). The French embassy could not refuse this service to a man decorated with the Legion d’Honneur. But the role of Altantuya in the submarines negotiations is still not clear. Intelligence agencies find her background intriguing and the Russian FSB (ex-KGB) is following closely the case.

In Ulaan Baataar, Mungunshagai, the eldest son of Altantuya, who is 12 years old, is traumatized by the death of his mother. Altanshagai, the youngest, who is five years old and mentally handicapped, has not understood that he will never see again his mother. “He is asking for her all the time and is staying the whole day prostrated on his chair. Every evening, I bring him sweets and I tell him that his mother gave it to me for him”, says Shaaribuu Setev, the grandfather of the two boys. As for Baginda, he settled down in the United Kingdom with his family. He never uttered a word of regret on the deadly fate of the one who shared his life for two years.

Arnaud Dubus (in Kuala Lumpur, Ulaan Baataar and Paris)

Nizar’s star shines bright in PAS

By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Just how much has Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin's profile grown in the past 13 months?

He was a relative unknown on March 17, 2008, when he was appointed Perak mentri besar. Today, he is PAS's rising star and a symbol of its possible future where the stigma of Islamic extremism no longer retards its political ambitions.

At the time of writing, the new Bukit Gantang MP has collected vice-presidential nominations for the June party polls from all three divisions that have had their general meetings so far.

The Feb 5 toppling of his government, which has led to a gripping constitutional crisis, has paved the way to a paradigm shift within the party, that for decades, suffered under the perception of Islamic extremism, rendering it "unelectable" to non-Muslims, in the words of research chief Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Dogged by the constant controversy over its espousal of hudud, which prescribes punishments such as amputation of limbs for offences like robbery, and an Islamic theocratic state, Nizar's overwhelming popularity with non-Malays due to his moderate and inclusive stance may further open the floodgates for PAS if he is elected into the vice-presidency.

With the startling success of Nizar in sweeping the non-Malay — 85 per cent of Chinese in the state constituency of Kuala Sepetang voted for Nizar — votes in the April 7 Bukit Gantang polls, PAS now has a clear path from being a Malay belt party, to a truly national and mainstream one. But whether it chooses to embark on this journey is a question that will only be answered in the June muktamar in Shah Alam.

Observers have long spoken of two main factions existing within the party. The side supporting closer ties with Umno, led by president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, are labelled the ulama faction, while those who support Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim are tagged the Erdogans because of the opposition leader’s close ties with the Turkish leader.

The former is synonymous with a more conservative Malay Muslim view of the party's objectives while the Erdogans, who have the blessing of spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, believe that Islamic principles can complement an equitable multicultural society.

Nizar, although not a member of any faction, clearly shares the sort of moderate views espoused by the Erdogans. When contacted by The Malaysian Insider, he said that he has not thought about the possibility of contesting for one of the three vice-president posts but should nominations continue to stream in, admitted that he "will have to consider contesting."

Modest, as usual, Nizar preferred to analyse circumstances as an "opportunity for PAS's true colours to emerge" and with Erdogan man Datuk Husam Musa set to take the step up from vice-president to deputy president, the post-June Islamist party could very well be the sort of partner that PKR and DAP can finally be comfortable with.

Husam has so far been reluctant to signal any intent to contest for the No. 2 post but it is understood that like Nizar, he will respect the party's wishes if it decides to push for his candidacy.

Dzulkefly told The Malaysian Insider that he is confident that the party is beginning to take a more pragmatic view of how the party should operate, and step away from pure dogmatism that has in the past stopped it from making the sort of inroads with non-Muslims that it has managed to make in the past year or so.

"Of several candidates considered for Bukit Gantang, eventually Nizar was chosen as he was the most 'winnable' despite our studies showing there would be a reduction of Malay support. But the party understood that what was important was to win, so the party is now able to conceptualise its priorities differently," he said.

Perak DAP chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham, who was Nizar's No. 2 in his 11-month-old administration, told The Malaysian Insider that PAS's inclusive policies, if continued and affirmed, would create greater cooperation within Pakatan Rakyat.

"For PAS to be a national party, it must continue with its open attitude," he said, adding that it would quash what he calls Umno's demonisation of PAS as a party of extreme ulamas (religious scholars).

Ngeh's hopes may soon be realised as Nizar's candidacy as vice-president is not the only brow-raising trend in the nominations so far.

While it is accepted that Hadi will retain the presidency uncontested, it appears that his deputy Nasharuddin Mat Isa has not impressed the grassroots. Out of the three divisions, the ulama leader has only received one nomination, the same as Husam. But with heartland Malay division Temerloh nominating Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak instead, Nasharuddin could be in trouble.

Indeed, developments so far will give PAS's Pakatan Rakyat partners some joy. Besides Husam's candidacy for No. 2, the favourites for vice-president are dominated by more moderate voices such as Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub, firebrand vice-president Mohamad Sabu and Nizar.

For those who feel that a strong Pakatan Rakyat is crucial for the political future of Malaysia, the PAS muktamar, and not last month's Umno general assembly, may well be the highlight milestone for 2009. – The Malaysia Insider.

Bukit Gantang : Undi Melayu tidak merosot, undi Cina bertambah, bukti PAS diterima

Ditulis oleh Harakahdaily

Isnin, 13 April 2009 08:14

"Saya masih ingat pada tahun 1994, ketika Tuan Guru Nik Aziz dalam kempen pilihan raya kecil Lundang beliau pernah mengatakan akan tiba satu masa duit tidak lagi laku dalam pilihan raya. Jadi pada hari ini sudah terbukti apa yang pernah dikatakan oleh beliau" kata Timbalan Pengarah Pilihan Raya PAS Pusat, Dato' Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah ketika interbiu Salmiyah harun. Beliau turut mengulas lanjut berhubung keputusan pilihan raya Bukit Gantang yang memberi tamparan hebat kepada BN.

Keputusan di Bukit Gantang akhirnya memberi kemenangan kepada rakyat, bagaimanapun nampaknya BN tetap menafikan keputusan itu adalah referendum rakyat? Apa komen Dato'?

DATO' WAN ABDUL RAHIM: Keputusan pilihan raya ini memberikan suatu gambaran semasa tentang sikap dan pendirian pengundi Bukit Gantang yang bagi saya merupakan satu bentuk referendum walaupun dinafikan oleh BN. Tetapi dari sudut masanya, inilah peluang rakyat Bukit Gantang khususnya, dan rakyat negeri Perak umumnya menyatakan sikap mereka mengenai apa yang berlaku peralihan kuasa di Perak.

Ini dibuktikan dengan pengakuan oleh Dato' Zambry Abdul Kadir ketika mengulas pada pengumuman keputusan pilihan raya baru-baru ini, bahawa keputusan ini adalah satu petanda sikap rakyat ke atas apa yang berlaku di Perak. Ini juga secara rasminya adalah referendum rakyat. Apa yang penting semua pihak meneliti keputusan ini, yang jelas daripada rakyat Perak yang menghadapi kegawatan politik yang sedang berlaku.

Perak mempunyai majoriti 50-50 di kalangan Melayu dan Cina. Daripada pemerhatian Dato' bagaimana 'trend' pengundian di Bukit Gantang?

Trend pengundian menunjukkan pengundi-pengundi Cina dengan jelas menggambarkan sikap mereka dalam pemilihan antara PAS dengan Umno. Apa yang dicapai di daerah mengundi yang mempunyai 97 peratus pengundi Cina misalnya di Kuala Sepetang.

Di sini PAS mendapat undi 85 peratus daripada pengundi Cina. Saya membuat kesimpulan ini bahawa 85 peratus daripada masyarakat Cina menyokong Pakatan Rakyat. 85 peratus undi popular diberikan kepada PAS manakala 15 peratus sahaja kepada BN.

Oleh kerana pengukuran sokongan Cina kepada PAS hanya boleh dibuat di sini, kerana Melayu daripada 3,300 orang sahaja, di tempat-tempat lain pengundi Cina dan Melayu bercampur-campur. Kalau kita hendak tahu sikap pengundi Cina... Kuala Sepetanglah tempat yang sesuai.

Adakah ini pencapaian terbaik?

Pencapaian ini bukan sahaja PAS tidak pernah dapat di kalangan masyarakat Cina, tetapi DAP juga sebelum ini hanya mendapat 80 peratus sahaja. Jadi 84 peratus ini adalah satu rekod baru.Jadi apabila kita lihat majoriti kemenangan kita bertambah, begitu juga undi PAS. Ini memberikan satu tanda yang baik mengenai ketuanan rakyat sebagaimana yang dikatakan oleh Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Di mana apabila berlakunya demokrasi berparlimen dan raja berpelembagaan, akhirnya rakyatlah yang membuat penentuan.

Di Bukit Gantang dan Bukit Selambau merupakan satu landasan dimana rakyat telah menyatakan kematangan sikap dan kemahuan masing-masing. Walaupun institusi yang ada dalam negara tidak memihak kepada PAS misalnya SPRM, polis, istana, mahkamah... itu tidak mengapa.

Akhirnya rakyat yang membuat keputusan. Dalam amalan demokrasi ini juga memberi petanda dan harapan baru bahawa dalam pilihan raya umum ke-13 nanti kita akan meraihkan kemenangan di luar jangkaan.

Dalam siri pilihan raya kecil bermula Permatang Pauh, Kuala Terengganu, dan terkini di Bukit Gantang dan Bukit Selambau, BN nampaknya sudah ditolak habis-habisan oleh rakyat. Apa yang boleh kita gambarkan keadaan BN ini?

Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Muhyiddin Yassin yang akan membuat 'post-morterm' di kalangan badan bebas untuk mencari punca kekalahan BN di dalam pilihan raya kecil. Saya rasa BN bukan memerlukan 'post-morterm', ini kerana 'post morterm' di Permatang Pauh belum pun keluar lagi begitu juga di Kuala Terengganu.

Apa post morterm yang mereka hendak buat?

Apa yang mereka perlukan ialah 'soul searching' bermakna mereka kena fikir balik asas BN itu sendiri. Saya melihat bahawa pada tahap sekarang ini rakyat dan pengundi tidak boleh di perbodohkan, ini bukan tahun 60an. Tahap pendidikan dan pemikiran, jadi rakyat sudah pandai memilih. Peranan media tradisi atau yang sedia ada ini, memang tidak mampu untuk mempengaruhi sikap pengundi dalam pilihan raya.

Saya masih ingat pada tahun 1994, ketika Tuan Guru Nik Aziz dalam kempen pilihan raya kecil Lundang beliau pernah mengatakan akan tiba satu masa duit tidak lagi laku dalam pilihan raya. Itulah Tuan guru pernah mengatakan bagi duit ambil, bagi kain pakai dan bagi gula kacau. Jadi pada hari ini sudah terbukti apa yang pernah dikatakan oleh beliau dulu.

Di Bukit Gantang dan Bukit Selambau ini, banyak mana BN mencurahkan duit atau bantuan tidak mempengaruhi pengundi sebagai mana berlaku di Kuala Sepetang. Sewaktu berkempen hampir tiap-tiap malam BN mengagihkan hadiah, sumbangan, bantuan duit tetapi tidak menjejaskan undi kita.

Janji BN yang hendak menyelesaikan masalah air di Kuala Sepetang, sedangkan sepenggal yang lalu BN juga yang menjadi wakil rakyat di sana bagaimana pun masalah ini tidak selesai juga. Sekarang masalah perparitan di Kuala Sepetang masih berlaku. Akhirnya rakyat naik muak dan menolak segala bentuk habuan untuk memujuk mereka menyokong BN.

Nampaknya, BN sudah ditolak mentah-mentah oleh kaum Cina dalam pilihan raya ini, bagaimana Dato' melihat situasi Umno sendiri pada masa akan datang berdepan dengan pilihan raya umum nanti?

Untuk masa depan Umno perlu bergantung kepada pengundi di kawasan yang mempunyai 70 peratus orang Melayu jika untuk menang. Kalau kurang daripada itu, seumpama di Bukit Gantang yang mempunyai 62 peratus pengundi Melayu ia tidak mampu untuk menang, kerana penguasaan pengundi Melayu cuma 50 peratus dan paling tinggi ialah 53 peratus, tetapi apabila masyarakat bukan Melayu tidak memberikan sokongan kepada BN maka sukar untuk BN meraih undi.

Satu tugas yang berat jika BN mahu mengambil balik undi Cina dan India. Ataupun mungkin rakyat boleh melihat sejauh mana kekuatan Perdana Menteri kita yang baru ini. Buat masa ini semakin banyak Umno bercakap semakin kuat pengundi Cina lari. Kita lihat apa yang dikatakan oleh Dato Hishamuddin baru-baru ini, menegaskan Melayulah yang memulakan perjuangan kemerdekaan. Mereka menganggap orang di sekelilingnya tidak peka dengan apa yang beliau ucapkan sehinggakan pimpinan tertinggi MCA mempertikaikan kenyataan mereka itu.

Keris yang selalu dijulang oleh bekas ketua Pemuda Umno itu, dan berharap beliau tidak lagi menghunus keris 'telanjang' itu di khalayak ramai. Ini satu perbuatan samseng yang mana bukan sahaja masyarakat Cina tidak boleh menerima bahkan orang Melayu pun tidak boleh menerima.

Majoriti di Bukit Gantang bertambah sekali ganda. Bagaimana pun ada dakwaan undi Melayu untuk PAS merosot? Bagaimana Dato' melihat senario ini?

Saya masih hendak mempertikaikan bacaan daripada Pengarah Pilihan Raya Perak Asmuni Awi. Mungkin beliau ada kaedah pengiraan yang khusus, tetapi saya melihat tempat-tempat seumpama di Kemunting Station yang mempunyai 90 peratus undi Melayu.Memang kita kalah di sini. Tetapi sedarkah kita dalam pilihan raya umum 2008 kita kalah majoriti 500 lebih, tapi kini kita kalah majoriti 400, jadi macam mana kita nak kata undi Melayu merosot.

Saya juga mendapati memang undi Melayu kita meningkat, walaupun kita tidak sampai 50 peratus, tetapi pengurangan majoriti itu cukup jelas. Saya melihat pengukuran undi Melayu ditempat yang mempunyai 100 peratus Melayu, manakala pengukuran undi Cina di kawasan yang mempunyai 90 peratus undi Cina. Di kalangan Cina jelas dan di kalangan Melayu pun jelas.
Dengan kemenangan selesa ini, apa yang perlu PAS lakukan bagi menghadapi pilihan raya umum ke-13 nanti?

Untuk masa depan keputusan ini memberi suatu mesej kepada PAS dan pemimpin PAS bahawa mereka harus melipatkan ganda usaha. Kerana tidak ada parti lain yang mampu melawan Umno seumpama PAS yang mana kedua-dua parti bergerak dalam kawasan Melayu.

Apa yang diperkatakan oleh Tun Musa Hitam yang mana mengatakan Umno sedang mengalami penyakit tua yang tidak mempunyai ubat hanya menunggu mati. Dan kita lihat daripada pengishtiharkan kabinet pun nampak cukup terang dan jelas, yang menang tidak diberikan tempat sebaliknya yang kalah diberi jawatan. Tidak tahulah tidak pasti apa hujah yang digunakan BN. Ketua pemuda pula tidak diberi tempat sebaliknya timbalan pula yang dilantik menteri. Suasana ini saya lihat ianya agak kurang sopan.

Bagaimana respons masyarakat Melayu di Bukit Gantang terhadap PAS?

Orang Melayu di Bukit Gantang seolah-olahnya terabai. Misalnya apabila petugas muslimat hadir berkempen di salah sebuah rumah pengundi Melayu, memang pada peringkat awal kurang mendapat respons tetapi semangat berkempen di kalangan jentera kita yang tidak berputus asa terus juga turun ke rumah-rumah. Akhirnya mereka menerima petugas kita sehingga kita boleh ke dapur mereka menggoreng keropok. Ada ketua wanita yang meninggalkan program Umno kemudian hadir ke program cakna PAS malah ada yang terasa bahawa muslimat PAS mendekati dan menyantuni mereka sehingga mereka tertarik. Maknanya jika PAS tidak sampai tahap itu boleh jadi peti undi seperti Sungai Limau, Kampung Menteri, Batang Gelugur yang mana jentera PAS sukar untuk menembusi hingga ke akar umbi. Apabila kita hadir dengan pembantu dari luar kita diterima baik. Kita dapat meningkatkan usaha kita mendekati pengundi di peringkat akar umbi.

Dua isu yang dominan dimainkan olah BN iaitu derhaka dan Nizar boneka DAP, sejauh mana isu ini boleh mempengaruhi undi PAS?

Saya tidak fikir isu ini boleh mempengaruhi undi. Saya lihat Nizar adalah satu peluang. Bahawa orang tidak tahu ada manusia seumpama Nizar. Orang kata kepimpinan dalam PAS seperti Allayarham Dato' Fadhil Noor, Tuan Guru Nik Aziz dan Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi, adalah ulama yang memimpin parti adalah kelebihan PAS. Apabila Nizar dalam tempoh tidak sampai setahun boleh membuktikan pengaruhnya walaupun beliau bukannya hasil daripada pondok tetapi dia menjadi satu aset kepada PAS. Beliau ini macam 'revealation'. Pendek kata, kita tidak menyangka beliau ini bukan sahaja intan tetapi batu geliga. Sebagai Menteri Besar dan ketua Kerajaan Perak, kadang-kadang boleh menenggelamkan orang lain. Bukan sahaja orang Cina tetapi seluruh rakyat melihat Nizar mempunyai peribadi yang baik untuk menjadi ketua kerajaan dalam masyarakat majmuk seperti di Perak.

Bukit Gantang : Still not too late for Malaysia – Ivanpal S. Grewal

©The Malaysian Insider

APRIL 13 – Many Barisan Nasional leaders are still confounded over the failure of the BN to wrest the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau seats. I was in Bukit Gantang for over a week and had the privilege of witnessing the campaign first hand. The BN machinery was surprisingly well oiled and moved much better than at Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu. In fact, I witnessed a kind of cohesiveness that many thought the BN was incapable of. However, there were still challenges.

On the Pakatan Rakyat side, PAS was as efficient as they could be; despite rumours of a split. It did not seem to affect the campaign as they moved in unison with victory clearly their ultimate aim. The BN campaign was segmented based on the ethnicity of the electorate. In Malay areas, the issue of Derhaka was driven to the hilt with banners and posters condemning Nizar Jamaluddin for going against the Sultan of Perak. He was also accused of being a stooge of the Perak DAP, especially of Nga Kor Ming and Ngeh Koo Ham.

When it came to the Chinese voters, Gerakan and MCA were given the task of explaining the change of government in Perak. The hostility of the Chinese community was evident and many were openly expressing support for Nizar. They felt the Pakatan state government was removed through unjust means and the final arbiters should have been the people. The major problem of the BN campaign was the segmentation of the campaign message backfired. The usual way of saying one thing to the Malays and another thing to the non-Malays may have worked in the past but this time it was counterproductive. The Chinese and Indians were put off by the constant characterisation of Nizar as stooge of the Nga-Ngeh cousins and invariably this was taken as meaning that Umno was trying to paint him as a puppet of the Chinese.

Some leaders even went to extent of exclaiming that the BN Government was more Malay than the PR Government. This was not only childish and immature but contradicted the BN’s claim that only they could ensure harmony and unity in Malaysia. As BN leaders accused PR of threatening national unity, many felt that it was the BN that was trading with sentiments. In fact, we even had BN leaders postulating that the people have now “repented” and will gladly return to the Barisan fold. This was a faux pas even for the staunchest of Barisan supporters. Many feel that it was the BN that needs to repent and adopt some level of earnestness when dealing with voters.

On the Pakatan side, Nizar had the same message for all communities. It was about justice, fairness and equity. He spoke with great conviction of his hopes for a more prosperous and equitable Malaysia. He explained that the special position of the Malays as guaranteed under the Constitution is at the heart of the Pakatan’s agenda; however he explained that the non-Malays must also have their rights under the constitution protected.

Nizar also explained how Pakatan will bring change to Malaysia through honest leadership. I concede it was a breath of fresh air. It was refreshing and full of hope thus giving everyone in the audience a sense of belonging. For once, we were not reminded of our ethnicity or differences but we were exhorted to unite and coalesce around the universal messages of truth and justice.

Malaysians in the Pakatan ceremahs were not told of the delicate social fabric or the fragile harmony but reminded of the similarities of communities and religions share. The Malays clapped and exclaimed that God was great, the Chinese roared in approval and the Indians cheered on as Nizar explained how he would like to see Malaysia and how he sees Malaysians. The end result was that the Malay support for the BN only rose by 5% but the non-Malay support for the BN plunged over 13%.

The result was a victory of almost 2,800 votes for PAS despite pulling out all the stops and even featuring former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on the weekend before the vote. Despite throwing all that they had, the BN could not dent the momentum of the PR. I can only speculate that the movement of change in Malaysia seems to have a life and momentum of its own. While Malaysians may be still ambivalent about who can bring about that change given the challenges within the PR itself; many have nonetheless decided that they want a radical shift in governance and policy.

If the BN cannot ride on the coattails of this movement, then they may have already surrendered the next election to the Pakatan Rakyat. The PAS bogeyman no longer seems to spook the non-Malays because in the months preceding the By-Election, PAS adopted a more conciliatory and tolerant approach as opposed to Umno. In the aftermath of by-election losses we had the usual blame game and after conflating expectations with reality, I am sure many within the BN knew it was an uphill battle to begin with and expected the result.

The moral is that in mixed seats like Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau which is pivotal to the BN’s survival, the divide and rule politics does not bring the desired result anymore. What is most upsetting is that over the weekend, Mingguan Malaysia has chosen to further aggravate this issue by commenting on the apparent wisdom of Chinese voters in their editorial. While it is nothing more than a snide attempt to remind the Chinese voters on where their allegiances ought to lie; it again as again part of the old politics that no longer holds water. Rather then reminding the Chinese and Indians where their loyalty should be, Mingguan Malaysia should have commissioned their own study to fin out why the Chinese and Indians are deserting the BN in droves.

The yearning for a cleaner, fairer and more just government is something that the BN must address. There is nothing racial or unreasonable about these demands, in fact is it non-racial and apolitical in nature and permeates all sections of society. Even the Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin seems puzzled by the aversion that Chinese and Indians voters seemed to have for the BN. He even claimed that the Chinese and Indians want to be kingmakers in Malaysian politics.

While I reject his notion as completely unsound and devoid of logic, I cannot help but feel that the BN still seems to wrapped in the old and outdated thinking, that material development is all that Malaysians want. The development argument is also a losing one because of the imbalanced development of Malaysia. I was told by an Indian voter in Bukit Gantang that he has lived in the same house his father was born in; and went on to ask why he should trust the BN? I looked at him completely befuddled and was unable to provide an answer. I told him, rather sheepishly, to follow his heart.

One Malaysia must be expounded upon and Malaysians must be given a reason to associate with this concept. While the agenda is laudable and entails everything from unity, fairness, justice and equality; the government must now make a serious attempt to give real bite and meaning to this concept.

Our Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, has asked that he be judged based on his actions and I feel it is a fair request. We must not allow emotions and personal feelings to cloud our judgment no matter how difficult it may be. Nonetheless, it is unfair for the government to ask Malaysians for infinite tolerance and to demand carte blanche authority to do as they please with complete disregard for the law, the sentiments and aspirations of Malaysians.

The age of government-knows-best has indeed ended rather ignominiously and the age of Rakyat-knows-best has begun with a bang and has been reinforced by four further bangs. The question on the minds of all Malaysians is, how many more bangs are needed before BN sees the change and rejuvenation that Malaysia desperately needs?

There is an urgent need for reforms especially economic reforms to lift us out of the economic troubles we find ourselves in; we need structural and legal reforms to remain competitive and continue to attract foreign direct investment (FDI); we need a bill of rights to defeat abuse and overreaching by the authorities; we need honest and ethical leadership to restore the trust of people in government; and crucially, we need our leaders to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.

The commonality of these ideals is a no-brainer. There is nothing Malay, Chinese and Indian about it, in fact it is very Malaysian and what our Constitution endeavoured to do after 1957. Fifty-two years is a long time, but it is still not too late to return to the original ideals this nation was founded upon.

* Ivanpal S. Grewal is an analyst with SEDAR Institute. The views reflected are a personal observation.

Bukit Gantang: Undi Melayu, Cina lebihi sasaran punca PAS menang


mStar : Rabu April 8, 2009

TAIPING: PAS, yang berjaya mempertahankan kerusi Parlimen Bukit Gantang, memperoleh kira-kira 43 peratus pengundi Melayu - lebih daripada disasarkan parti itu. Malah PAS juga memperoleh sokongan besar daripada pengundi-pengundi Cina kali ini untuk kekal di Bukit Gantang yang merupakan kubu kuat Barisan Nasional (BN) sejak 1959.

"Sokongan kaum Cina dianggarkan naik daripada 65 peratus ketika Mac 2008 kepada 75 peratus kali ini," kata Pengarah Operasi Pilihan Raya Kecil Bukit Gantang, Asmuni Awi hari ini. "Dari segi sokongan pengundi Melayu, kami sebenarnya hanya menjangkakan kira-kira 40 peratus tetapi kami peroleh hampir 43 peratus, ia melebihi sasaran kami," kata beliau.

Nizar memperoleh 21,860 undi manakala calon BN, Ismail Saffian menerima 19,071 undi dan calon Bebas, Kamarul Ramizu Idris 62 undi. Peratusan keluar mengundi adalah sebanyak 41,626 (75 peratus) naik tiga peratus dengan undi rosak sebanyak 456.
Nizar, yang juga Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) Pasir Panjang, menang dengan majoriti 2,789 undi berbanding diperoleh Allahyarham Roslan Shaharum, dari PAS, sebanyak 1,566 undi. Mengenai sokongan pengundi India pula kata beliau, ia tidak jauh berubah dengan kekal dalam lingkungan 60 peratus berbanding 63 peratus ketika pilihan raya umum 2008.

Bahagian Parlimen Bukit Gantang terdiri daripada 55,562 pemilih dengan kaum Melayu mewakili kira-kira 63.5 peratus, diikuti masyarakat Cina 27.1 peratus, India 9.1 peratus dan selebihnya kaum lain.

Kata beliau, walaupun ada usaha untuk menghalang arah aliran sokongan pengundi Cina dan Melayu kepada PAS tetapi pihaknya berjaya memperoleh sokongan besar. Dari segi prestasi mengikut bahagian Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN), beliau berkata, pihaknya menerima sokongan memuaskan di DUN Kuala Sepetang.

Kali ini PAS memengani tambahan satu peti undi berbanding lima tahun lalu di DUN Kuala Sepetang. Di bahagian itu, PAS memperoleh 8,466 undi berbanding 7,490 manakala BN juga mengalami kenaikan iaitu daripada 6,193 kepada 6,259.

Di DUN Changkat Jering, kali ini PAS kehilangan satu peti undi kepada BN iaitu Changkat Jering. Pada pilihan raya umum lalu PAS menguasai lapan peti undi di DUN Changkat Jering yang wakilnya telah keluar PKR dan Pakatan Rakyat lalu bertindak sebagai wakil rakyat Bebas. Kedua-dua BN dan PAS memperoleh sokongan undi lebih baik kali ini. PAS menerima 9,896 undi berbanding 9,163 Mac tahun lalu manakala BN pula 8,206 undi berbanding 7,939 undi.

Berhubung kedudukan di DUN Trong, yang dikuasai BN tahun lalu, PAS juga kehilangan satu peti undi. Tahun lalu kedua-dua BN dan Pakatan Rakyat menguasai masing-masing tujuh peti undi. Dari segi undi sokongan, kedua-dua BN dan PAS menerima peningkatan undi. Misalnya PAS merekodkan 3,367 undi berbanding 3,301 tahun lalu manakala BN memperoleh 4,124 undi berbanding 4,021 undi Mac 2008. Dari segi undi diperoleh, PAS menguasai DUN Kuala Sepetang dan Changkat Jering.