Thursday, September 25, 2008
The outspoken editor of the Malaysia-Today web portal was transferred a day earlier to the Kamunting ISA detention camp near Taiping, a former mining town in Perak named for peace.
For Marina and the rest of her entourage — her two daughters, one son-in-law and Raja Petra's cousin — the day was to get darker still.
Their nerves have been wrought since Sept 12 when some 10 police officers burst into the family home in Sungai Buloh near here and took away Raja Petra under the Internal Security Act, tearing apart the close-knitted family.
And on Monday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar signed an order under Section 8 (1) of the ISA which instructed Raja Petra to be placed in the Kamunting camp for up to two years, purportedly for writing articles which had insulted Islam and could arouse anger among Muslims."
Muda Mohd Noor and Wong Choon Mei | Sep 25, 08 10:50am
Despite near unanimous support from two states, including his hometown of Penang, embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is not out of the woods yet in his bid to stay on as Umno president.
If a survey on Umno divisions in Johor conducted by Malaysiakini is any indication, then the 68-year-old leader may have only just begun on a rocky journey that could still spell his ouster, despite recent all-out efforts to retain the loyalty of his deputy, Najib Abdul Razak."
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 (Bernama) -- Maybank is expecting a loan growth of about six to seven percent for the financial year ending June 30, 2009 compared with the 12 percent in the financial year just ended, president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said."
By Alan Ting and S. Retnanathan
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 (Bernama) -- Will the special Umno supreme council (MT) meeting Friday decide to set an early power transition date between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak or discuss more effective ways to strengthen the party?"
The division’s deputy head Alawi Dahalin and several other members lodged the report at the Brickfields police station.
Alawi said he had heard Kok complain about the food she was given while detained under the ISA, at a press conference at the DAP headquarters in Petaling Jaya, shown on the night news on TV on Sept 20, a day after she was released from custody.
He said Kok had said the food she was served was 'fit only for dogs'.
'By saying this, she had insulted the police and the poor. Eggs are an important food for low-income earners and the poor. As an elected representative of the people she should not have said that,' he said.
- The Sun"
In Malaysia, the terms ISA and Kamunting go together. If you are arrested under the ISA, you are often first brought to Bukit Aman (ironically, Hill of Peace in Malay) headquarters of the federal police, or the Police Remand Centre for interrogation, and then onwards to Kamunting.
The latest to hit the news with his transfer from Bukit Aman to Kamunting is blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin. He sadly joined the five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) who have been detained there since December last year.
That 2004 visit was the first, and only time since, that journalists were allowed into the camp to see its living conditions. It was part of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's liberalisation policy - he had just won big-time in the March 2004 (yes, March 2004, not 2008) general elections and the government was full of confidence and promise. It had won 90 per cent of seats in Parliament - a record.The visit was hosted by then-Deputy Home Minister Noh Omar who wanted to show journalists that the government had nothing to hide, despite the noise made then by the opposition, rights groups and families of the detainees that horrible things are happening inside.
I shivered as I looked around this Malaysian Alcatraz, with its trimmed lawns. This was a place where Clint Eastwood could escape from. The 114ha camp (about 140 football fields) had double security checks before anyone is allowed in or out. And if one could cut through one set of fence, there is another layer of fence to deal with.
Even if one could find wire cutters, and then be given the time to cut through the fences, there were all the dogs, lights and guards on watch towers to stop any escape attempt. Beyond the fences were just wide stretches of open fields. I don't remember anyone ever escaping from the prison.
The place reminded me of the song Hotel California - you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. Unless the government wants you to.
According to details published by rights group Aliran in Penang on Sept 19, the big camp has 64 detainees now. Raja Petra makes it 65. Except when they were put in solitary confinement, the detainees I saw were placed in single-storey barracks that they share with others.
There was no privacy, really, and there must have been worries among inmates about saying the wrong things to another person that could prolong one's stay in the dreaded camp.
You see, although people like Raja Petra have been given a two-year sentence, the government after seeing recommendations from a review board, could in theory extend the incarceration for a very long time.
According to Penang-based rights non-governmental organisation Aliran, the longest prisoners now inside Kamunting - businessmen Yazid Sufaat and Suhaimi Mokhtar - have been there for nearly seven years.
Both were detained for alleged links to the Jemaah Islamiyah terror group since December 2001. In that camp in 2004, we were taken to meet two groups of people, separately, from two of the barracks. Noh's aides had told the reporters - you are only observers.
"You can watch the deputy minister talk to the detainees, but if you try to talk to any of them, you would be thrown out right away. And please, do not tape any of the conversation." We had to leave our tape recorders and mobile phones at the front counter.
Credit had to be given to Datuk Noh on that day, because although he was civil to the detainees, he was bombarded with questions on why they were still inside, their worries about their families, and their many claims of innocence.
A couple of the detainees cried spontaneously when talking about the plight of their families outside. Many of the inmates then were being detained due to alleged links to the JI, while others were alleged gangsters from the Borneo states.
One of the detainees, seeing the reporters, accused the deputy minister of using the visit to "seek political mileage".
"Don't use us as political tools and visit us as if we are animals in the zoo," he said.
There were no famous faces inside then, except for Nik Abduh Nik Aziz, a son of the Parti Islam SeMalaysia spiritual leader, Nik Aziz Nik Mat. He was held due to alleged links with JI, and did not say anything at all. Nik Abduh has since been released.
As for Raja Petra, he is not the most famous person to have passed through those infamous gates. Those gates are the only ones that the public can see on a drive there, unless he or she is allowed inside to see a family member. And even inside, unlike the journalists in 2004, most family members are restricted to a meeting area.
In Malaysia, being jailed under the ISA has, rightly or wrongly, come be to taken as a badge of honour. It is as if the time spent under detention shows that 'My struggle was so intense that to stop me, the government had to put me behind bars without trial'.
Among those who have been detained under the ISA are opposition veterans Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh, Parti Keadilan Rakyat chiefs Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin Ali, PAS vice president Mohamed Sabu, former deputy minister Ibrahim Ali, current defacto Islamic Affairs Minister Zahim Hamidi, rights campaigner Irene Xavier and academic Chandra Muzaffar.
The list is far from comprehensive as it includes lawyers, Chinese educationists, social activists and yet more politicians. A group of ex-inmates are fighting to get the ISA laws totally dropped. They are known by their Malay acronym GAM, or Gerakan Mansukan ISA (Abolish ISA Movement).
After the arrests of Raja Petra, opposition MP Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, rights groups and NGOs have again banded together to the ISA repealed. It is not clear what will happen next, but most of those released from the camp were not cowed, but became fierce fighters against the security laws. - Reme Ahmad
|Tan's Cabinet status for PM|
Kota Kinabalu: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman will meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi soon to discuss Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah's position in the State Cabinet and Barisan Nasional (BN).
"Yes, we (State Cabinet) discussed it just now and for the time being he (Tan) will continue his duties as a Deputy Chief Minister and Infrastructure Development Minister," he said when met after chairing the Cabinet meeting Wednesday.
"Besides meeting with the Prime Minister I will also be consulting my BN component colleagues to seek their views on the matter," he said, adding that Tan was also present at the meeting.
Tan, a Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Deputy President, tendered his resignation letter on Monday after the party decided to pull out of BN.
However, Musa told him to remain in the two posts pending a decision.
However, some leaders in the BN like Kalabakan MP Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh, Liberal Democratic Party President Datuk VK Liew and Upko Secretary-General Wilfred Madius Tangau have expressed reservations.
Ghapur had expressed fear that allowing an independent to hold positions in the Government could pose trouble for the coalition while Liew noted that such a move was unprecedented.
There have also been questions posed by fellow BN component Parti Bersatu Sabah in allowing Deputy State Assembly Speaker Datuk Frankie Chong to continue in that post despite being aligned to SAPP President Datuk Yong Teck Lee, who had openly been campaigning for the Prime Minister's resignation or alternatively supporting a no-confidence vote against Abdullah in Parliament.
In Labuan, another of Yong's loyalists said he received the go-ahead from Labuan Corporation head-cum-Labuan Chairman Datuk Suhaili to remain in the Labuan Advisory Council.
Meanwhile, Musa said he had received resignation letters from two other SAPP members, namely Assistant State Finance Minister Melanie Chia and Sabah Economic Development Corporation Deputy Chairman Datuk Liew Teck Chan as well as Science Advisor to the Chief Minister Datuk Tham Nyip Shen.
A co-founder of SAPP, Tham had on Tuesday announced he was also quitting the party.
As for the replacements to fill up the many vacated posts following the mass resignations of the SAPP leaders after the party ditched the BN last week, Musa said it would be looked into later.
It is not known how many vacancies have arisen following the resignations of SAPP members holding community leader posts like PKRs and JKKK heads.
|Dompok returned unopposed as Upko boss|
Kota Kinabalu: Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok has been returned unopposed as President of the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko).
His Deputy, Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing also won uncontested after nominations closed at 2pm on Wednesday.
Secretary General-cum-Party Election Chairman Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau said Upko have a new Wanita Chief with Datin Dr Jaina Sintian also winning uncontested.
Incumbent Datuk Christine Tibok Vanhouten was not defending the post as she is going for the Vice President post.
She is challenging the five elected vice presidents Datuk Dr Marcus Mojigoh, Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin, Senator Maijol Mahap, Datuk Wences Angang and Datuk Tan Yong Gee.
There would also be contest for the Youth Chief post with incumbent, Donald Datuk Peter Mojuntin being challenged by his deputy, Arthur Sen.
Tangau said nominations were received from 36 eligible divisions.
"The election for the Wanita and Youth movements will be held on Oct 10 while the central leadership on Oct 12," he said adding that the party's triennial congress has been scheduled from Oct 10 to 12.
According to him, nominations would be sent out on Thursday and the nominees have until Oct 29 to accept.
Madius said a straight fight would be seen for the central committee's Permanent Chairman post between Datuk Herman Tiongsoh and Datuk George Ginibun.
As for the Deputy Wanita Chief post it would be a three-cornered fight between Evelyne Mingkong, Georgina George and Petronella Untol.
Six nominations were received for the three Wanita Vice Chief posts, namely Evelyne Mingkong, Viola Dompok, Petronella Untol, Monica Henry, Juliana Jani and Angela Kok.
The Upko Wanita Permanent Chairperson and Deputy posts were won uncontested by Datin Dr Danna Untol and Datin Barbara Suan, respectively.
As for the Youth movement, Kuamut Assemblyman, Masiung Banah won the deputy chief post uncontested.
Andrew Durat Misun also won the youth vice chief post uncontested after another contender Padis Majinking failed to get sufficient nominations.
Jeffrey Teo won the movement's Permanent Chairman's post uncontested but for the deputy chairman post it would be a straight fight between Dr Monih Epin and Miming Pornama.
Madius said 30 candidates have been nominated for the 16 Supreme Council posts.
|Playing safe by putting off Umno polls|
The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 - On the face of it, postponing the party elections until June next year helps Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi more than anyone else in Umno.
He can remain as party president and Prime Minister and have another six to eight months to complete some reforms and salvage his legacy.
And as a bonus he will not have to seek nominations from divisions which have become increasingly confrontational towards him since the Permatang Pauh by-election defeat on August 26.
A win-win proposition for a man with precious few options.
Only in theory, it seems.
Officials familiar with the series of meetings on the transition plan between Abdullah and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak say that the PM was not sold on the idea when his number two raised it on Tuesday.
He reasoned that postponing the party elections would open Umno to ridicule from Malaysians (many of whom already view the party in dim light no thanks to the likes of Ahmad Ismail, etc) and create even more unhappiness among the party grassroots, who have spent the last few months preparing for the elections.
Abdullah's supporters have another reason to object to pushing back the election date: it paints Abdullah as a desperate leader who is willing to do anything to stay on as party president. And this includes staying on in a lame duck capacity.
An Umno Supreme Council member, who is aligned to Abdullah, told the Malaysian Insider: "Najib should either support the transition plan or tell PM that he cannot do so. Then Pak Lah can go on and try and get the nominations to defend his position. This is more honourable than trying to stay on like this.This idea of postponing the elections and then handing the position to Najib only benefits Najib.''
It appears that the DPM has lost control of his own warlords on the ground. He admitted as much in talks with several supreme council members recently.
As such, he is unable or unwilling to risk the backlash from them if he continues to support the transition plan which will see Abdullah contesting the party elections in December and then handing over power to Najib in 2010.
Najib believes that if he supports the transition plan unconditionally, there is a possibility that he and Abdullah will have to face off with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and other critics of the PM.
He has told his supporters that he is confident that he and Abdullah will be able to emerge victorious but was worried that it will come at a high price.
On the flip side, if he distances himself from Abdullah's transition plan, this is bound to persuade the PM to wage an all out campaign to obtain at least 58 nominations from the divisions and defend his party president's position.
In this scenario, Najib may have to face off with Abdullah, a battle which could be expensive for a politician still recovering from a battering to his image by the Opposition.
So the safest option for Najib was to cobble together a plan which achieved the twin objectives of allowing Abdullah to remain in his position for a few more months without committing to the 2010 transition plan.
He believes that postponing the party elections will keep the peace in the party and allow all the stakeholders to walk away with something.
And yes, it will allow Najib to inherit an intact Umno.
Top Umno leaders will convene an emergency supreme council meeting tomorrow in the hope of finding a way for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to make an honourable exit and pass on the baton to his deputy Najib Abdul Razak by early next year.
Umno sources had earlier told Malaysiakini the two main items on tomorrow’s agenda would be the controversial 2010 power transition plan and the postponement of the party’s annual general assembly, currently slated for Dec 16 to 20.
They also said Abdullah was likely to take long leave, perhaps for a month, from Oct 8 or 9 onwards to refresh himself before returning to prepare Najib for the premiership and party presidency.
Supreme council member and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz did not comment of the possibility of Abdullah taking leave, but he conceded that Umno was currently split into camps for and against the 68-year old premier.
"It is seldom that such meetings take place so it should be an important one. In light of what is currently occuring, I suspect that the power transition plan will be the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting," Nazri told Malaysiakini in a phone interview.
"There are two extremes in Umno on the matter. One extreme are those who want to stick with the 2010 dateline given by Abdullah to step down. The other extreme say he should go earlier, during the divisional meeting scheduled for October," he added.
Both Abdullah and Najib agreed in July on a power transfer pact whereby the former would hand over the premiership and Umno presidency to the latter in June 2010.
All will be known by tomorrow
The transition plan - pounded by critics as ‘undemocratic’ when it was unveiled - has since been endorsed by the party’s supreme council.
Nevertheless, it has come under renewed and even more vigorous attack ahead of next month’s divisional meetings, sparking factional infighting in the already bitterly divided party.
According to Umno information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib (left in photo), all members of the supreme council were informed of the meeting only today. However, he declined to shed any light on what the meeting would be about.
"Yes, there will be a meeting tomorrow. I just received a call earlier today that a special supreme council meeting will be held tomorrow," Muhammad said.
"I am in the dark just as you. All I know is I received the phone call and was told to attend the meeting tomorrow morning," he added.
Meanwhile, Najib also confirmed the meeting would be held tomorrow, telling reporters who swamped him with "political questions" to wait another 24 hours for the answers.
"Political questions will only be answered tomorrow," Najib said.
The 25-member supreme council is the top decision-making body in Umno, the country’s most powerful political party.
It usually meets on monthly basis and during last week’s meeting, a furore erupted when news leaked that several leaders, aligned to former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, had openly demanded Abdullah’s resignation.
Led by vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin and Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein, a number of top leaders warned Abdullah that he may not be able to get the minimum 58 nominations needed to defend his presidency.
Umno's 191 divisions begin their annual meetings on Oct 9, when they will also nominate candidates for the top posts.
AGM likely to be postponed
Another hot topic on the agenda is the postponement of party polls to next year to enable Abdullah to remain Umno president and prime minister until the handover.
Defered once before by the party due to the March 8 general elections, the Umno annual general assembly is to take place from Dec 16 to 20.
Party watchers are divided over when the assembly will be postponed to, but most believe it will take place early next year possibly in March rather than June given the groundswell of support for a fast leadership change.
"I suspect that this will also be discussed tomorrow and I believe that the postponement would act as the dateline for Abdullah to step down," said Nazri.
ROME, Sept 25 - A man who attacked a priest has claimed he did so after watching the film The Da Vinci Code.Father Caino Calitri, 68, was in a critical condition in a Rome hospital yesterday after he was repeatedly stabbed in the neck by 25-year-old Marco Luzi.
Police found a note in one of Luzi's pockets reading: "This is just the beginning, 666" - a number linked to the Devil.
The Daily Mail says Luzi, who also stabbed three bystanders who came to Father Calitri's aid, told police he had watched The Da Vinci Code the night before.
Officers who visited his flat also found a print of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci and a note. which read, "I, the antiChrist".
The attack took place at the Santa Marcella church in Rome.
Hero police officer Luca Gori, 41, who disarmed Luzi, suffered knife wounds to his stomach as he struggled with him on the floor of the church.
Witnesses said Luzi had burst in armed with two knives and carrying a set of rosary beads, shouting that he was the 'antiChrist' and yelling about The Da Vinci Code.
Vittorio Rizzi, of Rome's flying squad, said: "There certainly seemed to be a link between the film and the attack. He told us he had seen The Da Vinci Code on TV the night before.
"Then he said he had heard voices in his head telling him to carry out his mission and we also found a copy of Da Vinci's Last Supper at his home."
The theme of the antiChrist and the fresco figure prominently in the book and its film adaptation, both of which have been condemned by the Vatican.
Published in 2003, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has caused controversy around the world and it follows symbologist Robert Langdon as he investigates a murder in the Louvre.
He then goes on to discover a battle between the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei over the possibility of Jesus having been married to and fathering children with Mary Magdalene.
The film - which starred Tom Hanks and Sir Ian McKellen - outraged many Catholics because of its claim that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had children.