..claimed to “Perkasakan Islam” ie to make Islam great.
RUU355 is a private members bill to be table in Parliment by an MP, PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang. If the bill is passed, there will be a significant change in the existing penalty limitation of RM5000 fines and a jail term not exceeded3 years to fines up to RM100000 and a maximum jail term of 30 years. Also, 3 additional criminal laws such as adultery, accusing a woman of committing adultery, drinking intoxicating drinks and apostasy.
Unfortunately, issues raise and voice of dissents against RUU355 received a backlash as infidels, anti Islam etc. One mufti of a state even decreed that it is obligatory for every muslim MP to vote an “aye” on the bill.
The Article in the constitution,
” Dual justice system
The dual system of law is provided in Article 121(1A) of the Constitution of Malaysia. Article 3 also provides that Islamic law is a state law matter with the exception for the Wilayah Persekutuan ie Federal Territories of Malaysia. Islamic law refers to sharia law, and in Malaysia it is known and spelled as syariah. The court is known as the Syariah Court. Looking at the Malaysian legal system as a whole, sharia law plays a relatively small role in defining the laws on the country. It only applies to Muslims. With regards to civil law, the Syariah courts has jurisdiction in personal law matters, for example marriage, inheritance, and apostacy(murtad). In some states there are sharia criminal laws, for example there is the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment 1993. Their jurisdiction is however limited to imposing fines for an amount not more than RM5000, and imprisonment to not more than 3 years. In August 2007, the then Chief Justice of Malaysia proposed to replace the current common law application in Malaysia with sharia law. “
Here is an extract from an article by Shaikh Asseem Al Hakeem, a Saudi contemporary ulamak view point of Islamic Sharia Law and the rational of the eeds to impose Huddud penalty in Islamic criminal Law ie God’s Law as prescribe in the quran.
Penalties in Comtemporary Fiqh
Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi calls for applying Shariah while taking into consideration the changes in time, place, and humanity, as there are past jurisprudential rulings that are not applicable in this modern world. Shariah is valid for all times and places; however, the application of Shariah needs ijtihad (use of reasoning and educated judgment to deduce an opinion or ruling) by qualified scholars who take into account the prevailing conditions in today’s world while having extensive knowledge of the tenets of Shariah.
Shariah and Hudud
Shariah cannot be taken in one part while another part or part are disregarded; it must be administered as a whole. It is worth noting, therefore, that out of 6,236 Quranic verses, only 10 directly address the topic of hudud (the limits of lawful behavior and the fixed punishments for transgressing those boundaries). These verses were revealed late during the mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The hudud laws mentioned in the Quran are four, or five if the one of qisaas (retaliation) is added. These five hudud address qisaas, adultery, qadhf (false accusation), hirabah (highway robbery), and theft. The phrase “hududu Allahi” mentioned in some verses of the Quran relates to issues like divorce and marriage. In those verses, the term “hudud” refers to the features and boundaries that distinguish what is permissible from what is forbidden .
We realize that the subject of hudud (prescribed punishments) is an integral but limited aspect of Islam when we consider that many scholars divide Islam into creed, acts of worship, morals, manners, and laws. The laws are then divided into civil, economic, family, commercial, criminal, constitutional, international relations, and so on. Yet some people focus only on one part “the criminal law” and ignore the rest of Shariah. Non-Muslims and even some Muslims see the hudud as the distinguishing element of Islam. Perhaps it is because the hudud laws are essentially different from man-made and, therefore, changeable laws. Moreover, people see the hudud as the conspicuous part of Shariah; however, hudud alone are a core but very limited part of Shariah and its application. People are so primarily focused on the hudud that if the laws related to banning usury or collecting zakah (prescribed alms) are applied, many will think that the ruler is not applying Shariah so long as hudud are not applied.
Hudud in the Quran and Sunnah
There are clear-cut hudud established by the Quran as mentioned above, with regard to retaliation, adultery, false accusation, highway robbery, and theft. There are also the dhanni (deduced) hudud, which are derived from the Sunnah, such as the penalty for drinking wine. Some scholars said it is 40 lashes; others said it should be 80 lashes, while some others, like Al-Bukhari and At-Tabari said there is no specified penalty for drinking wine but should receive a lesser tazeer punishment (discretionary punishment). Sheikh Qaradawi agrees with the application of a discretionary punishment, which could be whipping, imprisoning, or imposing fines.
Another dhanni (deduced) hudud is the one for apostasy, derived from the Sunnah. There are many hadiths, as well as some references in the Quran, about putting apostates to death. However, Umar ibn Al-Khattab asked an apostate to repent. Also, Imam An-Nakhiy and Imam Ath-Thawry are of the opinion that apostates should repeatedly be given opportunity to repent. Another example of a dhanni hudud is the stoning penalty for a married adulterer, a penalty derived from the Sunnah and not the Quran.
Application of Hudud
The problem with hudud is not their application in society but their misapplication ie applying them without meeting the necessary conditions. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prepared his contemporary society before applying hudud. He established the pillars of Islam including the prayer and the collection of zakah from those who could afford it, and distributed it among the poor. He created all the necessary conditions for social stability and solidarity. He established Islam as the way of life so that the needy were provided for and no one was left destitute, without food or shelter or other necessities for survival. In that case, for example, the theft penalty could be applied. But how can hudud be applied when people are unemployed, hungry, sick, orphaned, or homeless? Islam must be established in all aspects first, and then if someone steals, such an act of theft is a result of corruption of the soul rather than out of necessity.
Umar ibn Al-Khattab suspended the theft penalty during the Starvation Year, as people were stealing because of need and hunger. When a rich man came to Umar complaining that his slaves were stealing, after pondering and investigating the matter and knowing that this master had not met the needs of his slaves, Umar told him, “Go meet their needs first, or “I’ll cut your hands off” So social justice should be applied and people’s needs should be met, and proper conditions should be established in order to apply hudud. Otherwise, hudud may be used as a pretext by rulers to oppress people. Most egregious is the reality in some countries that the hudud are not applied to those who are politically connected or wealthy, even though they may defraud the people or embezzle millions of dollars. Yet the hudud are applied to the weak and the poor.
Hudud Are Not the Ultimate Goal
Another point is that when someone commits a crime with a prescribed punishment, the authorities should not start with applying the hudud penalty, but rather should seek lesser punishment if any doubt about guilt or mitigating circumstance exist. An agreed-upon rule of Islamic jurisprudence is “Let doubt suspend hudud”. Many jurists widen the range of doubt based on the following hadith related by Al-Hakim and As-Suyuti: “Refrain from enforcing hudud on Muslims as much as you can. If you find a way out for a Muslim, let him (or her) go, as it is better for the imam (ruler) to wrongly forgive than to wrongly punish.” We can thus see that Islam is not keen on punishing people. Punishments are for wicked, corrupt, or sociopathic people, who constitute a small portion of society. However, if these people are not punished, corruption will prevail. There is a hadith that says, “A penalty applied on earth is better for people than rain falling upon them for 30 or 40 mornings” (Ahmad). This is in the case that guilt is “beyond doubt” and with no mitigating circumstance. Then, according to this hadeeth, there is no benefit in receiving rain and cultivating when all that hardwork becomes a stolen harvest by thieves prevailing in a society.
Restrictions of Applying Hudud
Allah has prescribed hudud to deter and purge the wrongdoers. Hudud deter those who commit crimes and prevent them from committing them again; they further discourage other people from committing crimes. Some people say that the hudud are harsh. In fact, harshness is sometimes required for reform. Moreover, what is the alternative for hudud? The alternative in a man-made system of justice is imprisonment, which does not deter criminals. And a large percentage of criminals repeat their evil acts with more severe and harmful results after being released from prison. They become more hardened in their criminal intent and, unfortunately for society, have gained in criminal know-how from the malevolent experiences of their fellow criminals while in jail.
Islamï¿½s rational and jurisprudential basis for applying hudud with regard to adultery, for example, does not relate to the act of adultery itself ï¿½ which is a forbidden act due to many reasons . Rather it is correlated to the adulterer committing his or her act publicly. Thus, the adultery penalty is applied only when four individuals witness the act of illicit sexual intercourse, or when the adulterer confesses four times before a judge that he or she has committed that act. In that case, the defendant should be informed of the penalty before he or she confesses. Moreover, the four witnesses must be competent to give testimony, and the judge must interrogate them to determine if they are lying or in any way untrustworthy in their testimony. If any of these conditions are not met, the penalty cannot be applied. In that case, the adulterer may have the chance to repent without receiving the penalty.
Even when guilt has been established beyond doubt or disupte and there exist no mitigating circumstance, there still remain conditions for hudud to be applied:
It must be established that the accused committed the crime by choice rather than under duress of some kind, and while knowing that the act is illegal and a punishable crime.
The defendant has publicly committed the crime or confessed to committing it.
Applying Hudud Today
When the elements of a crime categorized as punishable by hudud laws are established according to all requisite conditions, hudud should be applied. However, if these elements are not present, then tazeer (lesser, discretionary punishment) should be applied. Tazeer is to be applied under the authority of the imam or judge. But applying hudud is the exclusive domain of the state. Thus no group in any place has the right to apply hudud to a group of people away from the authority of the state.
Countries today that apply hudud such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan must answer for themselves as to whether all conditions have been met and an Islamic way of life fully established so that hudud is applicable and Islamically warranted. And Allah SWT knows best.
i’d picked this interesting piece, conversation between a young cashier and an old lady!
credit to Pedro Barte, whoever he is..
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.
The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today.
Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”The older lady said that she was right — our generation didn’t have the “green thing” in its day. The older lady went on to explain:Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store.
The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things.
Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then.
We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw away kind.
We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day. Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room.
And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.
We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a r azor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the”green thing.” We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.
And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?
Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person.
We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off… Especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartass who can’t make change without the cash register telling them how much.
Head of 1MDB sets the record straight
BY: THE RAKYAT POST
1MDB Board of Directors believe that public scrutiny of 1MDB is a good thing, and will only serve to strengthen the company and its governance.
Statement by Tan Sri Datuk Seri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin
Chairman of the Board of Directors, 1MDB
AS the chairman of the Board of Directors of 1MDB, I have viewed with surprise recent statements, both in the media and by certain individuals, suggesting that the company has failed to respond to various questions that have been directed at it over the past months.
As a Board of Directors, we welcome debate, and as a company that is wholly owned by the Ministry of Finance — and by extension the people — we believe that public scrutiny of 1MDB is a good thing, and will only serve to strengthen the company and its governance.
In the interest of increasing the company’s transparency, I have held meetings with members of the media where I listened to and responded to their concerns.
Furthermore, the company has taken various other measures such as issuing multiple statements responding to allegations directed at the company, publishing a detailed document answering frequently asked questions, and releasing a public statement outlining key highlights from 1MDB’s last financial results – the first time 1MDB has done so since the company’s inception in 2009.
All of this information is freely available on 1MDB’s website, and we believe that these actions reflect our efforts to engage in a more open and constructive dialogue than has perhaps been the case in the past.
Despite this, issues that have previously been raised and subsequently addressed by the company continue to be regurgitated by certain individuals.
In the interests of providing clarity, we would once again like to respond to the various concerns.
1MDB’s funding and debt levels
Contrary to claims, 1MDB is not a sovereign wealth fund, but rather a strategic development company. In practice, this translates into a company that is independently run and funded, but one whose investment decisions are driven by the interests of the national economy.
Whilst a sovereign wealth fund and a strategic development company may not sound very different, there is an important distinction between the two: whereas a sovereign wealth fund is directly funded by the government and invests on its behalf, 1MDB raises and invest its own capital.
In fact, in terms of actual funding, the company has only ever received RM1 million in equity, which was provided by the Ministry of Finance at the time of its inception.
Given that 1MDB does not receiving any funding from the government, it is therefore simply not true to claim that the company is investing or worse, wasting, the state’s – or the people’s – money.
As 1MDB funds its own operations, it should not be surprising that, from time to time, the company raises capital on the international debt markets in order to finance some of its projects. However, all of this debt is backed by solid assets.
At present, this includes the 15 power and desalination plants in five countries that comprise our energy business, as well as our extensive property portfolio which includes 70 acres of prime real estate currently being developed as TRX —Kuala Lumpur’s first dedicated financial district, 495 acres of land on the site of the old airport in Sultan Besi earmarked for Bandar Malaysia — a mixed-use urban development, and 234 acres of land in the centre of Air Itam, Penang.
The total value of the company’s assets (RM51.4 billion as at the financial year end of March 2014) comfortably exceeds the value of its total debts (RM41.9 billion for the same period).
This means that the company has net assets of close to RM10 billion, representing the value it has created since its inception five years ago.
Furthermore, this does not take into account the expected benefit to be realised from the initial public offering of the group’s energy portfolio, which will help deleverage the group and contribute towards reducing its debt profile.
Finance costs & interest rates paid by 1MDB
Like any business, 1MDB attempts to secure the lowest rate of interest and finance costs when taking out a loan or conducting a bond issue. However, in certain instances, these interest rates and finance costs have been towards the higher end of the market rate.
It has to be understood that, when it comes to raising debt on the financial markets, there is no one size fits all solution.
A number of factors determine the finance costs and the interest rate applied to a loan or bond issuance. These include the length of maturity, whether the loans are underwritten or guaranteed, macro-economic factors, and many more.
To take one example, we are aware that concerns have been raised about the 5.75% interest rate assigned to a RM5.0 billion Islamic bond that was issued by 1MDB in 2009. As a comparison, it has been noted that another government-linked company, Petronas ,paid an interest rate of 3.60% on a bond at the same time.
This is an unfair comparison that does not take into account a number of important factors.
To highlight just one: when subscribing to a bond, lenders take on a certain degree of risk and the longer the tenure, the higher the risk for the bondholder. Therefore, bonds that have a longer maturity period typically have a higher interest rate.
To the best of our knowledge, the only Petronas-related bond issued in 2009 that carried a coupon rate of 3.6% was for a RM100 million bond with the tenure of only 3 years, whereas the 1MDB bond had a tenure of 30 years.
As such, given the significant difference between the maturity periods, it should not be surprising that the bond issued by 1MDB had a higher interest rate.
More broadly, it is important to note that the bond issued by 1MDB in 2009 was the first Malaysian bond with a 30-year tenure, and the first Islamic bond to be issued with a maturity period of that length.
Given the economic climate at the time, the fact that 1MDB successfully managed to raise this amount of capital reflects the support, goodwill and confidence placed in the company.
Funds regulated by the Cayman Monetary Authority
There has also been substantial debate about funds invested by the company regulated by the Cayman Monetary Authority.
However, anyone familiar with the financial world should be able to confirm that there is nothing unusual about companies of this size investing their funds in the Cayman Islands, which is one of the largest registered fund jurisdictions internationally, with the Cayman Monetary Authority recognised as one of the leading fund regulators in the world.
Thousands of international blue-chip companies have funds regulated by the Cayman Monetary Authority, including over 200 Malaysian companies, many of which are household names.
To provide some background with respect to 1MDB’s investment: In 2009, 1MDB and a Saudi Arabian company entered into a joint venture to facilitate long-term economic cooperation between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
As part of this, a joint-venture fund was set up to undertake investments on projects which would generate financial and strategic benefits to both countries.
However, due to various factors, both parties eventually decided not to proceed with these plans.
As a consequence, 1MDB’s investment in the company was converted into a fixed income instrument in the form of Murahaba notes, essentially a loan, with an annual interest rate of 8.75%.
This loan was paid back in full, for US$2.318 billion with a profit of US$488 million, in 2013.
Repatriating these funds to Malaysia would have exposed them to fluctuations on the foreign exchange market, as being witnessed at the moment.
In order to ensure that 1MDB maintained a strong liquidity position with a truly diversified global portfolio, these funds were invested in a 1MDB subsidiary that was registered in the Cayman Islands.
However, the company has already redeemed a significant portion, US$1.4 billion, of the fund and expects to redeem the remaining amount in the coming months.
Overpaying for power assets
In line with the government’s strategic aim of ensuring Malaysia’s energy security, 1MDB has acquired a number of energy assets since 2012.
These acquisitions have allowed the company to diversify its fuel mix and country risks, as well as benefit from healthy cash flows and the expertise of their excellent management teams.
The claims relating to the amounts 1MDB paid for its energy assets revolve around values that were attributed to the assets at the time they were acquired and on the basis of certain assumptions made by external parties.
However, the company takes a long-term view and consider broader synergies for the group, as well as the social and economic impact on the country, when we evaluate assets and forecast economic returns.
As such, it is the management team’s strong belief that the value paid for these assets, which may have involved a premium in certain instances — as is common when acquiring another business, is commensurate with their existing and future potential.
It is also important to note that since acquiring its first energy assets in 2012, 1MDB has built this into the second largest independent power producer in Malaysia, with a strong presence in international markets within three years.
In total, 1MDB’s energy business has consolidated 5594MW of net capacity, comprising both gas and coal fired plants.
This portfolio provides the business with healthy cash flows and enables 1MDB to participate in bids for coal and gas fired plants, the two primary fuel source for power generation assets in the markets that the company operates in, allowing it to create further value and drive future growth.
As such, the economic benefit gained from these assets means that the company has recuperated any excess value it may have paid at the time of the acquisitions.
Overpaying for land
Any decision the company makes to invest in real estate is reached following an extensive period of due diligence, which includes the appointment of independent appraisers to determine the value of the land at the time of the acquisition, whilst also taking into account the value the company can add to it.
All of 1MDB’s investments are undertaken in line with the best interests of the business, and with a view to stimulating economic growth and prosperity in Malaysia.
We understand that there has been some speculation about the value paid by 1MDB for a land parcel in Penang.
This land is located in the centre of the town of Air Itam, a much sought after area where property prices have seen a substantial increase in recent years.
This is reflected in the prices that other developers have paid to acquire land in neighbouring areas which, at over RM200 per sq ft, is substantially higher than what 1MDB paid.
In fact, in one instance dating back to 2013, approximately 9.8 hectares in Air Itam were purchased for RM267.4 million, about RM251 per sq ft, for a mixed-use development. In another, approximately RM251 per sq ft was paid for a mixed development project near the Kek Lok Si Temple.
Given the general difficulty companies face in finding sizeable plots of land in prime areas of Penang, that are suitable for carrying out large-tier development projects, the amount paid by 1MDB for this land was not only commensurate with its value but highly attractive.
Preferential treatment on power contracts
Any award takes a number of factors into consideration: the technical standards of the bid, the track record of the company, the bidding price, the urgency of the project and the whole systems cost of the bid to name a few. The projects that 1MDB have been awarded, in Malaysia and abroad, have been on this basis.
Earlier this year, a joint consortium consisting of 1MDB and Mitsui & Co, Japan’s second-largest general trading company, participated in an open and competitive tender exercise for a 2,000MW coal-fired power plant known as Project 3B.
Following due consideration of the various bids, the Energy Commission announced that the joint 1MDB-Mitsui consortium had been chosen as the preferred bidder.
Subsequently, there have been suggestions that 1MDB received preferential treatment, and the basis of these claims is that the company’s bid was not the lowest offered.
This rationale is flawed as it fails to take into account the fact that any award is based on a number of considerations, not just the tariff.
Whilst there was a bid that was slightly lower than the one presented by 1MDB, the fact is that 1MDB’s was the lowest compliant bid, with a proposed levelised tariff of 25.33 sen/kWh.
There was a bid that was fractionally lower, of 25.12 sen/kWh, but this proposal did not comply with a number of requirements set out by the Energy Commission, key amongst which was their lack of experience operating a coal plant.
As the Energy Commission announced in a public statement, the 1MDB-Mitsui Consortium won the bidding exercise “in a fair and square manner with a well-proven technology that would enhance security of supply expected of a 2000MW coal-fired power plant operating in a grid system of our size”.
It is also important to note that there are other tenders that 1MDB has participated in where the contract has been awarded to other parties.
For example; despite 1MDB offering the lowest bid for a gas-fired plant in Prai, another company was deemed as offering a better over-all package and awarded the contract on that basis.
Statement by Tan Sri Datuk Seri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin,
Chairman of the Board of Directors, 1MDB
“Alhamdulillah, today justice has been delivered. Thanks to God for having vindicated me from all these false allegations against me. I have lost almost everything; my rank, career and my reputation. My deepest gratitude to my wife, Anita, who has stood by me throughout this darkest moment in my life,” he told reporters.
“To all the men in blue, I say to you — do your job fearlessly and professionally. Uphold your oath of office to ‘sedia berkhidmat.’ Do not be afraid of the syndicate. Protect the innocent.
“To all who wield power in their hands, be mindful of God’s promise that on the day of judgment, you shall be held accountable for even an atom’s weight of evil,” he said without identifying the “syndicate” he referred to.
Ramli described the period when he was charged for corruption as the “darkest moment in my life”. He felt that he was victimised by this “Syndicate”, ( those people with power). Logically, it should be the hands of the law that caught up with him. But the court found that he should be acquited. Who are this Syndicate ? Surely they must be the powerful hands above him.
Ramli also took this opportunity to advise the “men in blue”. His advise for them is to act base on the law without fear or favour. Do not fall prey to this “syndicate”. …I think he can see that the “syndicate” cannot act against you if you are truthful, i.e on the same side with the Law.
My admiration to him for his holistic comment to the syndicate. Maybe he had been looking back at his actions that brought him to the “darkest period”. Man who is victimesed will always seek for God.
Surely, man will be accountabled to every grain of his action on earth in the hereafter. Even to the smallest i.e a grain of his deed will be rewarded and he must pay for even a grain of evil.
May Allah bless us all
i like to share this article….A Ranking of BN’s Twelve Worse Political Disasters By Malaysian Spring
Barisan Nasional is a natural magnet for scandals and self-inflicted public relation disasters, mainly due to its entrenched patronage politics (an euphemism for corruption) and its contempt for the public. The following is a ranking of one dozen worse political disasters which will drag BN down at the 13th general election in order of least to heaviest impact. This “dirty dozen” are selected on the basis of their deep effect on a wide segment of the population and the durability of their impact to last till the next election.
No. 12 – Death in Custody of Ananthan Kugan At this level there are many competing scandals such as the theft of jet engines from the air force, the RM540 million commission paid for submarines and pointless ISA detentions of Teresa Kok and Sin Chew journalist Tan but none have the emotional impact of the death in custody of A. Kugan who was arrested as a suspected car thief in Jan 2009 A government pathologist performed an autopsy and proclaimed that he died of water in his lungs. Dissatisfied, his family members demanded another autopsy which revealed that Kugan died of horrific beatings and torture which caused his kidneys to fail. After a long delay of 9 months and much public pressure, a lowly Indian police constable was charged with causing grievous hurt although the victim died and there were suspicions of others involved. Can you say scapegoat? Kugan will not be the last to die in custody but he is the most widely publicized and has become the poster boy of the numerous helpless victims who die with shocking regularity in the hands of our law enforcement agencies.
No. 11 – Shah Alam Cow Head Protest Race and religious baiting is nothing new with a party which leverages on racial and religious tension to maintain its power. In this category are Ahmad Ismail’s and Nasir Safar’s racist outbursts. The Umno controlled Utusan Malaysia frequently goes on a racist rant without any fear of sedition laws. But come next election, Ahmad Ismail and Nasir Safar will be largely forgotten. The event which sears itself into the minds of voters is the cow head protest held at the Selangor State Secretariat over the relocation of a Hindu temple to Section 23 in Shah Alam. To drive home the insult the protesters which were widely perceived to be linked to Umno brought along a severed cow head, an animal which is sacred to Hindus. This wasn’t the most damaging act. What really disappointed the people was the police inaction during the protest although they have been known to be brutally effective in dealing with any anti-BN protests. To compound the damage to BN, Home Minister Hisahmuddin granted a meeting with the protesters and even defended their action. Although some of the protesters were charged for sedition the delay has earned the public’s ire and gave the impression that the religious sensitivities of minorities are secondary under the BN regime.
No. 10 – Refusal to Charge Al-Islam Journalists Two journalists from the Utusan Malaysia offshoot Al-Islam entered a Catholic church to spy on the activities just in case the church is secretly converting Muslim teenagers. They took part in the holy communion but spat out and photographed the white bread which Catholics believe is changed to the body of Christ. Then they had the audacity to write about it. Despite this highly sacrilegious act which is an insult to the Catholic religion the Attorney-General refused to charge them on the specious reasons that they were ignorant, no public disorder had been caused and it would not serve the interest of justice. One wonders whether such forbearance would be shown if a sacrilegious had been made against Islam. The magazine later apologized but the apology was 10 months late and only offered under public pressure. At about the same time, The Star was slapped a show cause letter for a reasonable, rational and cautious article questioning the caning of three Muslim women on the basis that it had insulted Islam. The BN government’s double standard is clear. Minorities can expect little or no protection for any attacks and insults on their race and religion while it goes overboard to protect the dominant race and religion.
No. 9 – Refusal to Charge VK Lingam The Lingam video affair rocked the nation with its expose of corruption and undue influence in judicial appointments. Due to intense public pressure a Royal Commission of Inquiry was appointed to probe the case and concluded that the incriminating video was genuine and there was unseemly interaction between Lingam and the ex-Chief Justice, Tun Eusoffe Chin in a New Zealand holiday. The RCI recommended criminal action against the main actor Lingam and a few others. To date the Attorney-General has shown amazing reluctance to charge anybody over this documented proof of judicial interference while it goes after dubious transgressions against opposition leaders such as Karpal Singh’s sedition charge. The judiciary is the pillar of a modern democracy and to restore its reputation is of paramount importance. Does the refusal to charge VK Lingam indicate the lack of political will to correct the rot in our democratic institutions? Correct! Correct! Correct!
No. 8 – The Altantuya Affair The violent murder of a Mongolian girl whose body was blown up by explosives scandalized the nation with its audacity and rumours of high level involvement. A string of revelations by Raja Petra Kamaruddin and private investigator Balasubramaniam told a salacious tale of a Mongolian beauty, extra-marital affairs, meetings in Paris, secret commission on a submarine deal, jilted lover, blackmail, murder and allegations of VIP involvement including Najib Razak himself. P.I. Bala made a damning statutory declaration but in an amazing turn-around, he retracted it the next day and disappeared. He resurfaced more than a year later with more riveting tales of how he had been offered RM5 million and forced to flee to India via Singapore and Bangkok. A long-winded trial ended in the conviction of two police commandos for her death and the acquittal of Najib’s associate, Razak Baginda but left many questions unanswered such as the obvious lack of motivation of the two killers. The Altantuya affair will leave a long lasting impact in the minds of voters who are not convinced that all has been revealed or that justice has been done. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth that anything can be covered up in Malaysia, even murder.
No. 7 – BTN’s Racist Course Biro Tatanegara has been conducting courses for civil servants, government scholarship recipients and others for umpteen years but it was only in Nov 2009 that controversy exploded over the racist content of the course when the Pakatan controlled Selangor government refused to send any more participants. Denials that the BTN course was racist were dashed by testimonies by ex-participants that the course fanned racial sentiments and sought to teach its own version of history of the country’s early years. It also badmouthed opposition leaders and inundated attendees with dire warnings of what would happen if the opposition came to power. The public is given the impression that the purpose of the BTN course is nothing more than to help BN maintain power at the expense of taxpayers. Indeed, opposition stalwart Lim Kit Siang revealed that the government spends more on BTN courses than it spends to run parliament. Isn’t this rich coming from a body directly under the office of the prime minister who has been aggressively promoting his 1Malaysia? Calls to scrap the course have only met with vague promises of “refinements”. Abdullah Badawi was kicked out by voters for not keeping his promise of anti-corruption; Najib Razak may be kicked out for giving the people false hopes of racial integration and fairness.
No. 6 – PKFZ Scandal Financial scandals are nothing new to BN. The Auditor-General’s report of profligate bleeding of the public purse and common items purchased at breathtaking prices makes its round with monotonous regularity every year. We hear of Khir Toyo’s fabulous mansion which must be beyond the means of a mere ex-Mentri Besar and the RM10 million transfer to London by another Mentri Besar with a shrug and a sigh. Will things ever change? But the sheer size of the financial shenanigan of the Port Klang Free Zone project makes even the jaded Malaysian gape in anger. A PriceWaterhouse-Cooper report said that potential losses could reach RM12.5 billion, a staggering amount for a small developing country. For all that only a few small fishes have been charged, the highest being the ex-general manager of Port Klang Authority. What about the big sharks including the ex- transport ministers who signed the illegal letters of guarantee? How about going after the owner of the Contractor who laughed all the way to the bank instead of his employees? The public is not impressed with such tokenism. PKFZ will continue to dog BN as the hallmark of its plundering ways with the real sharks getting to enjoy their ill gotten gains with impunity.
No. 5 – Teoh Beng Hock’s Death A DAP political aide went voluntarily to MACC’s office in Shah Alam to be questioned as a witness over a RM2400 allegation involving his boss and left through the window of the 14th floor in the early hours of the morning, his bruised body cold and lifeless. The senseless death of a young man who was only days away from getting married and had an unborn child shocked and outraged Malaysians who demanded that the culprits be brought to justice. But justice in Malaysia can take a long winding road and be completely sidetracked at times. MACC denied responsibility and claimed Teoh had been released although his hand phone, wallet and car keys were still in their custody. Why was he relentlessly interrogated throughout the night over such a trivial case? Lengthy police investigation of this open and shut case drew an incredulous blank. During the inquest, two government pathologists took medical leave at the same time. When they returned they sang a duet to try to convince the public of suicide although the lack of motivation is clear. A Thai expert appointed by the Selangor government testified that there is an 80% chance of homicide and pointed to injuries which are unlikely to be due to a fall including contusions on the neck, bruises on the thighs and a punctured anus. A second post mortem was held in the presence of foreign experts but a third government pathologist sang the same implausible tune of suicide. The inquest has not been concluded but it is not difficult to guess which way the verdict is being guided to. BN can avoid serious political fallout by dispensing justice but is that likely? After all, the public are gullible fools who can be lied to with impunity can’t they?
No. 4 – The Perak Power Grab In Perak democracy has been physically and psychologically shred to pieces with the power grab by Umno with the help of three morally tainted party hoppers. Two of the political frogs were facing corruption charges and there was a strong stench of corruption and coercion involved. Despite widespread calls for new state elections to return the mandate to the people, Umno is genuinely puzzled why it should hold election when it already controls the state legislature, albeit by a narrow margin. The power grab was backed up with the physical force of the police and enforced by controversial court judgements which blurred the doctrine of separation of powers and the distinction between a constitutional and absolute monarchy. In a shameful act, police entered the Assembly to drag the legal Speaker Sivakumar from his chair to allow BN to install an improperly elected Speaker. The Perak power grab will forever be remembered as an immoral and reprehensible act by Umno to whom democracy is just lip service and power is all that matters irrespective of how it is obtained and kept. In a nutshell this describes Umno perfectly.
No. 3 – Buying of PKR Elected Representatives Instead of respecting the choice of the people Umno has never stopped attacking and trying to de-stabilize PR in any way possible including luring elected representatives to defect using the carrot ($$$) and the stick (MACC trumped up charges). In a vile attempt to regain its 2/3 majority in parliament to gerrymander constituencies a war chest of RM50 million of corruption money was set aside to buy opposition members of parliament. Regrettably three PKR MPs succumbed to BN’s contemptible temptation. These MPs have ended their political careers but as they have probably collected more than they can earn in two lifetimes this could be the least of their worries. Yes, PKR should have fielded better quality candidates but in 2008 few good candidates wanted to stand under the banner of what they perceive as a sure loser. Hence low quality candidates were fielded in seats where they were not expected to win. But win they did and caused all the problems. The public is intelligent enough to disregard the shallow reasons given by the defectors and zero in on the real reason – money and lot’s of it. They will punish BN at the next election for subverting democracy. This cleaning out of refuse from the party will in fact make PKR stronger. One may be tempted to compare Anwar’s Sept 16 bid to topple the Federal government by defections and BN’s despicable acts. First of all, two wrongs do not make a right. Secondly, Anwar was appealing for good people to defect on principles to build a better Malaysia and not by dangling millions in front of them. Thirdly, Anwar pledged to hold snap elections after the BN government had been toppled. Lastly, Sept 16 did not happen.
No. 2 – The Allah Controversy If ever there is a self-inflicted political disaster, this is it. For decades and even before the formation of Malaysia the Christians in East Malaysia had been using Allah for the name of God. No Muslim has objected or become confused; indeed there is a historical basis that Allah is not exclusive to Islam and is also used by many other faiths around the world. Enter the gung-ho Home Ministry who decreed that Allah can only be used by Muslims and banned the Catholic Church from using the term in their internally circulated newsletter. The Church took the matter to court and won a High Court judgement lifting the Home Ministry’s ban. Umno leaders took it badly and criticized the court judgement roundly. Tacit approval was given for demonstrations by supposedly enraged Muslims. It turned out to be an ill attended tame affair. What happens next shows that playing with religious sentiment is as risky as playing with fire. A church in Petaling Jaya was burnt down and eleven others attacked. When these failed to elicit any counter response boar heads were found at two Muslim places of worship. The attacks on the churches brought condemnation from around the world and much bad publicity for Malaysia whose reputation as a moderate Muslim nation was in tatters. Umno was given a hefty slap when PAS stood with its allies and said that Allah is permitted to be used by other faiths. The roles of the two Malay parties have been reversed. PAS which was once perceived as extremist is now seen as more centrist than Umno which is now perceived as pandering to extremists. The caning of three Malay women has not helped Umno’s image. What a boost for Pakatan Rakyat trying to win over middle Malaysia!
No. 1 – Sodomy II Make no mistake, this is the numero uno, the number one in BN’s self-inflicted political disasters. In this day and age, an educated and literate population will witness an opposition leader dragged to court on transparently trumped-up charges and in all probability convicted. If you think sham trials were over with Stalin and Hitler or are the domain of brutal military regimes like Burma and North Korea, welcome to Malaysia. The charge of consensual sodomy itself reeks of political persecution when the government has never been interested in enforcing this archaic piece of legislation against practicing homosexuals. Yet Anwar is charged with consensual sodomy while his alleged consensual partner has become the “victim” on whose behalf the whole apparatus of the Malaysian government is seeking justice. The government saw fit to proceed with this dubious case despite two medical reports by one private doctor and 3 government specialists that there is no evidence of penetration on the accuser. Perhaps we will be the only country in the world to convict a man of rape when the “victim” is a medically certified virgin. Zimbabwe, watch and learn! Even before the inevitable conclusion of Anwar’s trial, Malaysia has become the whipping boy and the butt of ridicule in the international press. When it is over our judiciary will become an international laughing stock. To proceed with this ludicrous case shows BN’s incredible arrogance and lack of political sense. Not only did they dig their own graves, they brought their own shovels, not only did they hang themselves, they supplied their own rope. * * * * No doubt in the 2 to 3 years to the next general election there will be many more scandals and controversies surfacing although they have already done enough. Given enough time, BN will do all the work to convince people it is the bigger devil so all that Pakatan Rakyat has to do is to stay as a cohesive coalition and survive BN’s relentless attacks. Of course it doesn’t hurt for PR to do the right things and give better service delivery to the people to leave no room for doubt that it is the better alternative.
Summary of BN’s dirty dozen
No. 1 – Sodomy II
No. 2 – The Allah Controversy
No. 3 – Buying of PKR Elected Representatives
No. 4 – The Perak Power Grab
No. 5 – Teoh Beng Hock’s Death
No. 6 – PKFZ Scandal
No. 7 – BTN’s Racist Course
No. 8 – The Altantuya Affair
No. 9 – Refusal to Charge VK Lingam
No. 10 – Refusal to Charge Al-Islam Journalists
No. 11 – Shah Alam Cow Head Protest
No. 12 – Death in Custody of Ananthan Kugan
Budget highlights – How do the rakyat understand and benefit from it? How many people who would really utillize the benefit? How many people who would benefit from it for themselves and “dump” the goodies down the drain?
1. An allocation of RM191.5 billion, consisting of RM138.3 billion or 72.2 per cent (operating expenditure) and RM53.2 billion or 27.8 per cent (development expenditure).
2. Special payment of RM500 in December 2009 to civil servants from Grade 41 to Grade 54 or its equivalent as well as those on mandatory retirement.
3. Enhancement of tax incentives for healthcare service providers who offer services to foreign health tourists. Income tax exemption of 50 per cent on the value of increased exports will be increased to 100 per cent.
4. Individual taxpayers will be given tax relief on broadband subscription fee up to RM500 a year from 2010 to 2012.
5. Civil servants are eligible to apply for computer loans once in every three years as compared to once in every five years now.
6. Subsidies, incentives and assistance amounting to almost RM2 billion to safeguard the interest of farmers and fishermen.
7. An allocation of RM9 billion to finance infrastructure projects, including construction of roads and bridges, water supply, sewerage services, rail facilities, ports and sea services as well as airport projects.
8. An additional allocation of RM20 million for small-scale Malaysian-Indian entrepreneurs under the Tabung Kumpulan Usaha Niaga (Tekun), on top of the existing RM15-million allocation.
9. Establishing a RM200-million Creative Industry Fund to finance activities, such as film and drama productions, music, animation, advertisements and local content development. Establishing “Tabung Kebajikan Penggiat Seni” to ensure the welfare of artistes.
10. An allocation of RM20 million for 20 schools to be identified as High Performance Schools (SBT) in 2010.
11. Awarding national scholarships to 30 “creme de la creme” students strictly based on merit. These scholarship recipients will further their education in world-renowned universities.
12. Converting the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans to scholarships for students who graduate with first class honours degrees or equivalent beginning 2010.
13. Providing a 50 per cent discount on fares for long-distance services of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) to students aged 13 and above beginning Jan 1, 2010.
14. Offering a netbook package, including free broadband service, to 100,000 local university students for a start for RM50 per month for two years, effective Jan 1, 2010.
15. An allocation of RM100 million for the PERMATA Programme to implement various programmes which emphasise early childcare and education in an integrated and organised manner.
16. Micro insurance and Takaful coverage for small-scale businessmen which will benefit from coverage ranging from RM10,000 to RM20,000 with premium as low as RM20 per month.
17. Establishment of 14 Special Corruption Sessions Courts and four Special Corruption Appeal High Courts.
18. Imposing RM50 service tax on each principal credit card and charge card, including those issued free of charge, and a service tax of RM25 a year on each supplementary card effective Jan 1, 2010.
19. All ministries and government departments are required to provide day care and education centres for children. For this, an allocation of RNM200,000 will be made available for every ministry and government department to establish day care centres.
20. Reduction of the maximum individual income tax rate from 27 percent to 26 percent, effective from the year of assessment 2010.
21. Personal relief for individual tax payers to increase from RM8,000 to RM9,000 effective from the year of assessment 2010. This means that each individual tax payer will enjoy an increase of RM1,000 in disposable income.
22. About 50,000 hardcore poor households registered with eKasih and 4,000 Orang Asli households will be given assistance to achieve the target of zero hardcore poverty in 2010. An allocation of RM41 million will be provided to improve the income and quality of life of the Orang Asli community.
23. An allocation of RM48 million to implement urban poverty eradication programmes, including welfare assistance and house rental payments. The Ministry of Federal Territories shall now be known as the Ministry of Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing.
24. The National Housing Department to provide 74,000 low-cost houses to be rented in 2010.
25. EPF to launch a scheme that enables contributors to utilise current and future savings in Account 2 to enable them to obtain higher financing to buy higher value or additional houses.
26. An allocation of RM224 million to the disabled for the implementation of the Rehabilitation In The Community Programme and an allocation of RM174 million for senior citizens, including assistance as well as the construction and upgrading of two Rumah Seri Kenangan.
27. Increasing the allowance rate from RM50 to RM150 a month for every disabled child enrolled in NGO-organised special schools effective Jan 1, 2010.
28. Establishment of 1Malaysia Retirement Scheme for the self-employed, such as taxi drivers, hawkers, farmers and fishermen, to be administered by the EPF.
29. Effective immediately, employees’ EPF contribution will revert to 11 per cent on a voluntary basis.
30. Construction of 510 km of rural roads and 316 km of village roads with an allocation of RM857 million, including roads to be constructed in Kapit, Lawas and Simunjan in Sarawak as well as Kinabatangan, Kota Belud and Keningau in Sabah.