Nov 25, 2008

Scandal Smear The Prime Minister In Waiting

Like Mr Badawi before him, Mr Najib comes to the job promising reforms, including of the system of preference for members of the ethnic-Malay majority for state contracts and jobs. Mr Badawi achieved little, though he allowed a bit more freedom of expression than had his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad.

Expectations for Mr Najib are lower still. It is possible, notes Edmund Gomez, a political scientist, that he will use the worsening economic outlook as a pretext for reverting to Mahathir-style repression.

Mr Anwar has failed to carry out his threat to topple the government through a mass defection of parliamentarians. Even so, there is a palpable fin de régime air around UMNO. Mr Badawi, Mr Mahathir and other leaders are publicly lamenting how corruption and cronyism are rife in the party. But his opponents say Mr Najib is hardly the man to restore confidence.

In the latest scandal to which they are linking him, the defence ministry (which he oversaw until recently) has deferred a big order for helicopters following questions about their high price. A parliamentary committee this week cleared the government of wrongdoing, but admitted not investigating whether “commissions” were paid.

In an earlier case, a company the opposition claimed was linked to Razak Baginda, an adviser to Mr Najib, was paid juicy fees for services provided over a contract for the purchase of French submarines. A Mongolian woman, said to have worked as a translator in the negotiations, was shot dead and her corpse destroyed with explosives in 2006. Mr Razak was put on trial over her killing, along with two policemen.
The case has dragged on for months and seen various odd goings-on, including changes of judge, prosecutors and defence lawyers at the start of the trial. A private detective signed a statutory declaration implicating Mr Najib, retracted it the next day, saying it had been made under duress. Calls by the victim’s family for Mr Najib to testify were rejected. On October 31st the judge ruled that the prosecution had failed to make a prima facie case against Mr Razak.
The policemen’s trial will continue.

A blogger who linked Mr Najib's wife to the case is on trial for criminal libel. None of this, however, seems likely to interfere with Mr Najib’s accession to the prime minister’s job. A bigger threat may yet emerge from the resurgent opposition and Mr Anwar, who nurtures a long-thwarted ambition to take the job himself.

Extract of Report from the Economist. For Full Report Go HERE.

Malaysia's Authoritarian Resurgence

Using the ISA to swat political gadflies is an unfortunate tradition in Malaysian politics. We were reminded of this as activists marked the 21st anniversary of Operasi Lalang, a police action in which 105 government critics were detained under the ISA during the Mahathir era.

What we have learned about Malaysian politics over the years is that once a period of arbitrary arrest and detention begins, frivolous detentions very quickly multiply as authorities suddenly find it difficult to determine when exactly the ISA shouldn’t be applied.

This tendency was apparent in the southern state of Johor on Oct. 17 when Cheng Lee Whee was taken into custody under the ISA after protesting a series of squatter evictions. Authorities there interpreted Ms. Whee’s efforts to file a legal complaint against heavy-handed police as an act of “spreading information which could cause fear among the people.”

These reports come to the fore just as Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has announced that he will step down in March 2009 to make way for his current deputy prime minister. Before judging the impact of the recent ISA detentions on Prime Minister Badawi’s legacy, I must point out that it wasn’t very long ago that a positive argument could still be made for his governance.

The watershed elections of March 2008 that saw record losses for Mr. Badawi’s Malay-based political party (UMNO) were viewed as nothing short of a disaster by the ruling elite. (Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad suggested that seppuku might be an appropriate response from the current head of state). Some observers suggested, however, that UMNO’s setbacks reflected Mr. Badawi’s openness to dissent and commitment to democracy.

There was talk of his willingness to amend the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), which Mr. Mahathir has used to suppress political activity on college campuses and quash student unrest. As old-school politicians demanded his ouster, some thought that Prime Minister Badawi would take the opportunity to make a clean beak with the past by addressing some of the country’s anachronistic legal policies.

As his administration has begun to unravel, however, Mr. Badawi’s recent moves seem to ensure that he will be remembered as anything but a reformist. With the banning of the Hindu Rights Actions Force (Hindraf) on Oct. 15 and the continued detention of Tamil lawyers who have sought to redress ethnic disparities, activists throughout the country are wondering who next will be denied the right of due process under the ISA.

Under criticism, Mr. Badawi defended the detentions earlier this month by claiming that the ISA legislation is completely appropriate since other countries including the United States have enacted similar policies recently. Such an assertion ignores the fact that both front-running candidates for the American presidency have vowed to close the United States’ arbitrary detention facility in Guantanamo Bay and clean up the vast legal mess left by the Bush administration’s mishandling of the “enemy combatant” issue.

Prime Minister Badawi now appears largely committed to retaining the policies of his predecessor. At the same time a deepening divide is becoming apparent between reformists energized by Anwar Ibrahim’s recent return to parliament and the recalcitrant rump of a fading regime

This is an Extract of a report from the Far Eastern Economic Review. For Full Report GO HERE

Nov 1, 2008

More Controversy Ahead

Extract of a news report from the Straits Time Singapore:

Far from closing the chapter, the acquittal of his former close associate over the murder of a Mongolian beauty is set to reignite controversy surrounding Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Mr Abdul Razak Baginda, a former close associate of the Deputy Premier, walked free yesterday after the High Court found no evidence that he had asked two policemen to kill his former lover after their affair went sour.

The decision has thrust Datuk Seri Najib back into an unwelcome spotlight even as he is set to take over the premiership from Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi next March.

Within minutes of the verdict, it became fresh fodder for renewed attacks on Mr Najib, who is already battling a non-stop flow of allegations of corruption.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim fired the first salvo.

'There is growing perception that the investigation was not done professionally. There is a clear motive to cover up, a lot of evidence was not adduced.

'The prosecution has failed to conduct the case professionally. From the beginning, changes were made to the court and the judge.

'Now that there are more allegations involving DPM Najib - the SMSes and evidence the public has raised a number of times - this case clearly is bigger,' Datuk Seri Anwar said.

Prominent blogger Rocky Bru wrote: 'Many will cry foul. This is going to give a lot of people a heart attack.'

For Full Report HERE

Pm Promises to Leave

Malaysia PM promises to leave after the UMNO general assembly to be held in March next year.

Are Promises any good...

He promises to bring reforms to the nation and greater democracy of which he has done naught,
He promises to bring reform to the judiciary and again he has done naught,
He promises to rid the country of corruption and yet again he has done naught,
His promises are aplenty and is it any good now.....

Promises! Promises! Promises!

I wonder what goes on in the mind and heart of this man... his going might be the worst of things to come as how can you just hand over power just like that and it looks like the post of PM is a bargaining tool amongst a few powerful umno lords and woe is to us the people as we are continuously being bullied and oppress by their unjust laws and evil ways. Even Chief Justice now comes from UMNO!!!

It is all only UMNO and nothing else and is there a Barisan National? who is MCA? and who is MIC? and Gerakan (?) (the most irrelevant) for all that i know these guys are all racist and it is after all a racist party dominated by just one and making the rest irrelevant.

The best part is that the incoming PM of UMNO does not even need to make any promises to the people and country and don't even need to appease the people and need not make any promises on how he is to lead the nation.