The Truth Revealed

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


"...Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10,11

Believe! This is the week of Christmas — and it is so important that we believe God and receive Christ.

When the angel Gabriel spoke to the virgin Mary over 2,000 years ago and said she would have a Son even though she was a virgin, she did not doubt — she believed. She said “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary believed God — and she received God’s promise, the Christ child.

When you celebrate Christmas this year, focus on Christ — the wonderful son of God who came to earth to be our Savior. Believe in Him as the Son of God; receive Him in to your heart if you have not done so already. And let’s pray that:
  • Millions of people across the whole world will believe in God and in Jesus Christ as the Son of God
  • People everywhere will receive Christ as their Savior and Lord
  • Your own friends and family will all welcome Christ as their personal Savior

When Christ came to be born on earth, people had a simple choice — would they believe in Him as Savior?

Would they receive Him into their lives?

Would they welcome Him?

Our choice is the same today.

Let us celebrate the birth of Christ into the world — and into our hearts. Merry Christmas!

Please pray for all the people who are lonely this Christmas.

For many people, Christmas is a time of great joy.

Other people may be alone, and afraid, and not have anyone to spend the holidays with.

Please pray that others would come around them and show them love.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

A TRUE WARRIOR OF MALAYSIA: “Heroes and High Achievers”

A living legend, an IBAN WARRIOR who's the most deserving to be awarded the title TUN.


IBAN WARRIOR KANANG ANAK LANGKAU is the only living recipient of the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) medal and the Pingat Gagah Berani (PGB), the two highest gallantry awards, and the only soldier to have received both awards.

He received a letter of commendation from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday for his service and bravery in the army.

In terms of protocol, one of his awards ranks above a Tun's. But the nation's two highest awards for gallantry rest lightly on retired Warrant Officer (I) Kanang Langkau's shoulders.

According to Colonel (Rtd) Fabian Wong, no award was higher than the SP but it did not carry any title.

“It’s not listed in the federal list of importance,” said Wong, who had received the State gallantry award, ‘Pingat Keberanian Sarawak’ (PK).

He hoped Sarawak would accord protocol and importance to SP holders, adding that SP holders should be recognised as “heroes and high achievers” because its (SP) standing is higher than the ‘Tun’.

Stressing that the SP is ranked first in the federal list of awards, Wong said, the ‘Darjah Kerabat Diraja Malaysia’ is second while ‘Darjah Utama Seri Mahkota’ (third), ‘Seri Maharaja Mangku Negara’ (fourth) and Seri Setia Mahkota (fifth).

The second and third awards were only accorded to deserving members of the royal family while the fourth and fifth award - both of which carry the title ‘Tun’ - are for any other Malaysians, he said, adding that all those information could be obtained from the relevant website.

In 1961 he joined the British 42nd Royal Marines Commandos as an Iban tracker, and was later absorbed into the 8th Ranger Battalion.

"I served my country during my army days. I've sacrificed the quality time I should have had with my family. I didn't get to see my children grow up. Now that I'm retired, I spend most of my time with my grandchildren.

"That alone makes me feel like I'm the richest man in the world. A normal civilian life in peacetime is priceless," said the 67-year-old after the 3rd Army Infantry Brigade's 48th anniversary celebration in Semenggo Camp yesterday.

On June 1, 1976, Kanang and his 8th Ranger Intelligence task force were part of Operation Gerakan Setia in the Korbu Forest Reserve, Perak. They stormed the communist terrorist headquarters, killing three terrorists and disrupted the enemy supply route.

For his bravery in that operation he was awarded the PGB on June 4, 1980.

Another fierce encounter that earned him the SP was during Operation Gerakan Pukat in Tanah Hitam, Perak, on Feb 20, 1980. Kanang's platoon was ambushed while hunting a communist unit in Ladang Kending, Sungai Siput, Perak.

Despite serious gunshot wounds in the chest and stomach, as platoon sergeant, he organised a counter attack before passing out.

For his bravery that day, he received the highest award from the king on June 3, 1981.

"I never regretted joining the army. It's the best job anyone could have. And no one can beat the army in terms of welfare.

"Deep in my heart, I will remain a soldier till the day I die," said Kanang.

Kanang terima watikah PGB, SP

KUCHING 14 Dis. – Pegawai Waran Satu, Kanang Anak Langkau, (gambar) yang dikagumi atas keberaniannya menentang pengganas di Sungai Siput, Perak pada tahun 1980, hari ini menerima sijil Watikah Pingat Darjah Keberanian Tertinggi Negara, Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) dan sijil Watikah Pingat Gagah Berani (PGB).

Anugerah itu disampaikan oleh Panglima 3 Briged, Brigadier Jeneral Jeyabalan S. sempena ulang tahun 3 Briged yang ke-48 di Kem Briged Kuching.

Kanang, 62, kekal menjadi ‘mentor’ dalam kerjaya Angkatan Tentera Malaysia lebih tiga dekad di atas keberaniannya itu.

Pada 3 Jun 1981, beliau diperkenan oleh Yang di-Pertuan Agong untuk menerima Darjah Keberanian Tertinggi Negara, Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) iaitu lebih tinggi daripada penerima Darjah Seri Maharaja Mangku Negara (SMN) yang membawa gelaran Tun.

Sebelum itu pada 4 Jun 1980, Kanang juga pernah menerima anugerah Pingat Gagah Berani Yang di-Pertuan Agong iaitu darjah keberanian kedua tertinggi negara.

“Sejak darah dari badan saya menitis ke bumi ketika bertempur dengan musuh negara, semangat perwira masih lagi kekal dalam jiwa saya sampai bila-bila pun, saya masih seorang askar,” kata Kanang kepada pemberita di sini.

Kanang berkata, beliau tidak pernah menyesal menjadi tentera walaupun ketika zaman mudanya beliau tidak menyimpan cita-cita untuk menjadi askar.

Ketika ditanya apakah pekerjaannya setelah 21 tahun meninggalkan kerjaya sebagai ‘soldadu’, Kanang berkata, beliau mahu berehat dan menghabiskan masa bersama cucunya yang masih kecil.

– Bernama

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Indonesia unveils giant Jesus statue

December 12, 2007 - 10:37AM

Muslim-majority Indonesia has unveiled one of Asia's tallest Jesus Christ statues in the mainly Christian town of Manado on North Sulawesi island, the company behind it said today.

Indonesian real estate developer Ciputra built the 30-metre-high statue in its CitraLand residential estate, hoping it will lure tourists and become a religious icon, the company's marketing manager Sonya Lasut said. "It looks like the Jesus is flying to bless people," she added.

The giant Jesus Christ statue in the mainly Christian town of Manado, Indonesia.
Photo: AFP

The white monument - which shows a robed Christ with his arms and palms outstretched above his head - took nearly three years to complete and cost five billion rupiah (about $A611,000). It also consisted of 25 tonnes of metal fibre and 35 tonnes of steel, Lasut added.

She said the Indonesian Museum of Records had certified the statue as Asia's tallest Jesus - overtaking the 27-metre tall Cristo Rei in East Timor's capital Dili - during a ceremony on December 2.

However, Vietnam's state-run tourism agency SaigonTourist says on its website that the southern coastal resort city of Vung Tau is home to a 32-metre-tall Jesus Christ statue. A museum official said he did not have a record of the Vietnamese statue.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Who was Altantuya Shaariibuu?

John Berthelsen
Asia Sentinel, 05 December 2007

A murdered woman fades into a caricature as the trial of her accused killers in Malaysia drags on into obscurity

On October 18, 2006, a pretty young Mongolian translator named Altantuya Shaariibuu was brutally murdered at the age of 28. Her mutilated body was found in a jungle clearing near the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Sha Alam. Her reputation has been brutalized as well. The pictures printed here may give some of her back to the world.

After her remains were found about a month after the murder, Altantuya’s accused killers, Abdul Razak Baginda, her former lover and the head of a politically well-connected think tank, and two bodyguards for Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, were arrested almost immediately in a blaze of newspaper headlines that all but convicted them.

She had also worked as Abdul Razak’s translator on a shady deal he was brokering for the Malaysian government to buy submarines from France. The pair seem to have travelled to Paris together. A letter found after she was killed appeared to be a demand for money from him for the care of her child, which he may have fathered. She was last seen by eyewitnesses getting into a car outside Abdul Razak’s house with the two elite bodyguards. Abdul Razak had requested help in dealing with her vocal demands for money and presence at the house.

The trial has now been underway for six months while prosecutors wade through a tangle of jurisdictional disputes and take testimony from a tedious list of tangential witnesses. Both prosecution and defense seem intent on keeping the obvious political ramifications of the trial out of the courtroom. It almost seems as if the trial is being delayed just to lessen the impact of a mistrial or even the acquittal of the politically prominent defendants.

In the meantime, Altantuya’s name has been dragged through the mud for so long that she almost has ceased to exist as a person. After being identified by local newspapers following the murder, she was first characterized as a part-time model (code language for a high-priced call girl). She also has been reviled for being an unwed mother, and for jet-setting to Europe with Abdul Razak. She has been described as a bitter, spurned lover demanding money from her rich boyfriend. Her family, meanwhile, has said she worked hard and was just trying to find her way in life.

In a letter found after her death (spelling corrected), she sounds like any jilted young woman: “To see your lover is nothing criminal right? Yes (I) was in shock. I wrote some stupid letters to him where I said I kill myself I want help. Yes I try to blackmail him. Maybe it’s my fault but no I really understand he doesn’t love me anymore and I need to stop that I asked money from him to go back how he promised to me. He lied to me to help and ruin my life. I came to KL to see him to face to face and ask why acting like that. Maybe rich person and he got family doing this. But when I come I did some thing stupid I write letter where I said I will kill myself and thing like that.”

And, she adds: “They say Malaysia is different from Mongolia and said they know people in police so can easy put me to jail. If in Malaysia law goes like that I can’t complain. But true is I did nothing to him. I’m just normal girl trying to meet my lover who lied to me and promised many things but now wants to put me in jail or kill.”

From a series of pictures made available to Asia Sentinel by Syed Abdul Rahman AlHabshi, the honorary Mongolian Consul General in Malaysia, Altantuya looks like nothing more than an attractive young woman off on the trip of her life to Europe. AlHabshi declined a request to say where the pictures came from but they are believed to have been found among her possessions after she was killed. She looks happy. Perhaps she was with her lover when these were taken. Her family has declined to elaborate on the circumstances of the pictures.

According to trial testimony by Burmaa Oyunchimeg, Altantuya’s cousin, who accompanied the victim to Kuala Lumpur to attempt to get Abdul Razak to give her money, there was one more picture. It depicted Altantuya having dinner with Abdul Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Najib. The picture was not in her possession when her decomposed body was found last October. The court has made no attempt to find the picture and Najib has not been called as a witness by either side.

The final picture here is perhaps the most disheartening. It is the three urns in which her bones sit while the trial drones on.

View picture Here

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Raja Nazrin's keynote address at the National Economic Outlook Conference 2008/2009


“Fifty Years of Development: Lessons Learnt”

Ladies and Gentlemen:

1. I am delighted to be here this morning to speak at this National Outlook Conference, an event that is one of the high points in the nation’s economic calendar. The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research has served the nation well for over twenty years with its independent research, and it is only fitting that we recognise its many contributions. Independent research institutes have a very important role to play in modern societies. Their analyses and conclusions may not always receive universal agreement but divergent viewpoints can be useful in provoking healthy debate about issues of national importance. They force us to think more deeply, more clearly and more creatively. They help us avoid the dangers of “groupthink”.

2. It is in this spirit that I turn to the subject at hand. Today, I want to exercise speaker’s licence and focus my address on issues of development and nationhood. I do this for the obvious reason that whether we can achieve our development goals hangs critically on whether we can remain one united and cohesive nation. The latter is a mantra that is constantly repeated but quite often construed and implemented in narrow and self-serving ways. I am of the view that we urgently need to re-evaluate our existing stereotypes and notions about development. I will draw attention to some concepts from the recent development literature that I believe are very relevant to us, with the hope that these can take root in discussions among scholars and policy-makers.

3. Let me start with the present state of development and then proceed to deconstruct it into its component parts. Malaysia today runs with the pack of middle income countries. With a 2006 GDP per capita measured in purchasing power terms of almost US$11,000, the country has a figure that is higher than Mexico and Turkey, two countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. At independence in 1957, Malaya was comparable with Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ghana, Morocco and Senegal in terms of per capita income. Fifty years on, the country’s per capita income had increased six fold, to reach a level that is double that of Sri Lanka, three times that of the Philippines and Morocco and six times that of Ghana and Senegal. More importantly, there have been marked improvements in life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy, access to education, health services and in the incidence of poverty. The country has surpassed most of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and, while there remains a great deal to be done, the UNDP accords the country a High Development Index.

4. All of this point to Malaysia being a development success story, and, not just from the viewpoint of our own policymakers but also from the international community. The standard reasons for this are an open economy, liberal foreign investment policies, high savings and investment rates, prudent macroeconomic management, pro-private sector policies, and high public investments in education, infrastructure and rural development. These days it also seems relevant to point out an often taken-for-granted fact: Malaysia has always had a civilian government and no military presence in domestic politics or the economy. If nothing else, this alone should be a strong selling point for the country. Overarching all of these reasons is the fact that development has taken centre place on the national agenda for the greater part of the last half-century and produced undeniable results. The relative lack of civil conflict has enabled the focus on development to take place, while development has, in turn, had a generally calming effect on the various social groups.

5. The question as to why some countries grow rapidly while others grow slowly or not at all constitutes one of the most important in all of economics. It is a question that has kept economists busy for decades, and, I expect, will continue to do so for some time yet. It is now a cliché to talk about the growth performance of the East Asian economies during the post-Second World War period, first that of Japan then those of the newly-industrialising tiger economies, namely South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. These countries had grown at an average of 6% per annum in per capita terms over a sustained period. To put things in perspective, compare this with the growth records of the leading economies during the Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century (around 1-1.5%) or the growth records of the advanced capitalist economies during the first three decades of the post-Second World War period (around 3%). These East Asian countries underwent the fastest economic transformation in human history, to be surpassed only by developments in China and India in recent years. The spectacular economic performance of these countries naturally generated a lot of interest in the so-called East Asian model of development, and in particular on the extent to which this model could be replicated in other countries.

6. In two very important respects, Malaysia is a more suitable model for other developing countries than the East Asian tiger economies. This is because Malaysia shares features with many countries in Asia, Africa and, to a lesser extent, Latin America that makes it an ideal case study.

7. First, Malaysia is a resource-rich country, in contrast to the East Asian tiger economies that are resource-poor. It might seem intuitive to some that Malaysia’s success was a forgone conclusion given its rich resource base. But other countries have large resource endowments as well and they have not enjoyed the same result. Many resource-rich developing countries have found natural resources to be a curse rather than a blessing. They have experienced little more than short-lived resource booms, their economies expanding rapidly while resources last, but contracting once these have been exhausted. Some have succumbed to Dutch disease, with its attendant ills of accelerating inflation, declining export of manufactures and rising unemployment. Many have squandered their resource riches on wasteful expenditures. Malaysia remains one of the few that have managed to transform its rich natural resource base into sustainable development. Resource rents were productively invested in primary and manufactured exports, in improving infrastructure and in strengthening the human capital base. Within a span of 50 years, the economy underwent significant structural transformation, from one that was heavily dependent on primary commodity exports to one that is more broad-based. Gaining a better understanding of how this was achieved is not only of academic interest to scholars but should be of relevance to policy-makers in other countries.

8. Second, Malaysia shares with many countries in the developing world in having a multi-ethnic, multi-religious population. This is in contrast to the East Asian societies that are largely homogenous. Governing a country that is multi-ethnic and multi-religious is very different from governing one that is homogeneous, particularly in a society like Malaysia’s where ethnic groups differ sharply in occupational pattern, income level, geographic location, culture, language and appearance. This makes promoting national unity of utmost importance for continued political stability and economic progress. The Malaysian experience is a classic illustration that development in multi-ethnic societies consists of more than just unleashing market forces. It demands economic growth that is broadly shared among all citizens, as well as the necessary institutional environment to help bring that about. In such a situation, the state has an important role to play in ensuring an equitable distribution of wealth and income between people, between groups of people and between regions. In countries where it has worked well, the result has been a developmental state that has promoted industrial transformation and stimulated economic development. When it has not worked well, state intervention has verged on the predatory, extracting resources and providing nothing much of value in return.

9. History seems to have had a very pervasive hold over some countries by trapping them in an endless cycle of recrimination and violence. Certainly, colonialism, foreign invasion and occupation have had an extremely negative impact on development in much of the Third World. It would take a brave soul to argue otherwise. I cannot, however, come to terms with – and, indeed, I am not convinced at all about – the idea of historical inevitability. As bad as it may have been, colonialism has not held back economic progress in all cases. We forget that both Korea and Taiwan were also colonised, but they still managed to make significant economic leaps. In Malaysia, the colonial legacy left the country with some very strong positives, including the legal system, an efficient civil administration and the English language.

10. If development is not a random occurrence but the result of direct human intervention, it becomes of critical importance to find out why some countries have been able to pursue sound economic policies with greater success than others. Since humans are involved, culture would seem to be a natural candidate. Culture has many definitions but can be seen as the shared values, norms, meanings and behaviours that characterise a society. It can affect development through its impact on organisations and production, on attitudes towards consumption and work, on the ability to create and manage institutions, and on creating bonds of trust through social networks. I will expand on the last of these shortly. But exactly how important culture is to the development process is a question with many answers. Much depends on how it is thought to function. Some subscribe to the functionalist or consensus school. Others prefer Marxist conflict-driven interpretations of culture. Yet others adopt a post-modern view of culture that sees society as the product of open, negotiable and changeable social interactions.

11. The problem with culture is that some elements of it change over time, while others can remain firmly entrenched. In many respects, there can be no economic change without there being at least some degree of cultural change. Take as an example the multinational companies that located themselves in Malaysia’s free trade zones in the mid-1970s and began the process of industrial transformation. These depended on large numbers of young Malay females many of whom were from rural villages and thus traditional social structures. This required breaking strong social values that favoured marriage and household work and disapproved of the unsupervised movement of females to and from the workplace. That this occurred to a significant extent – at its height, females accounted for 75% of electronics, and over 90% of textile, employment – meant a measure of social adaptability and dynamism. This, in turn, allowed rural families to enjoy lessened dependency, higher productivity and additional source of incomes.

12. Many middle-income countries are now focused on human capital development, entrepreneurship and scientific and technological innovation, and Malaysia is no different. The question, however, is whether these can be standalone propositions. Can entrepreneurs, scientists and technologists be nurtured without an enabling political, social, economic and cultural environment? Can they flourish in the presence of perverse incentives and disincentives? The answer is obvious: they cannot. They cannot be removed from how society functions, from the societal norms and values at play, and from how state and private institutions counteract or reinforce these norms and values. Human capital development without the right environment is futility in itself. There are countries today whose citizens are highly educated and whose scientists and engineers are at the leading edge in their fields but who want nothing more than to leave their countries. Countries must change in line with the aspirations of their citizens or they risk losing their best and brightest.

13. It is time that we reunite these disparate parts into our development story. Until we merge the economic discourse of development with the socio-political setting in which societies are embedded, we will tend to underestimate what needs to be done and overestimate our capacity to do it. We will develop selective memory, remembering only results but not causes, only gains but not costs. The inability to reduce the development process to a neat set of propositions or equations will no doubt put some off. Academic journals might be reluctant to publish cross-disciplinary studies. But unless we are prepared to step outside of the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines, it is unlikely that that we will be able to conceive a clear and undistorted picture of development’s prerequisites.

14. In earliest development thinking, physical capital was seen to be the catalyst for development. The Harrod-Domar model, for example, saw growth as simply the function of savings (which was equal to investment), multiplied by the productivity of capital. There has therefore been a central preoccupation with securing the financial resources to develop. Notwithstanding the fact that it was introduced as early as Adam Smith, human capital then became the centrepiece of development. Practice though may differ from principle and some countries loudly and proudly trumpet their human capital policies but still exhibit strong physical investment-bias. With the far-reaching work of sociologists such as James Coleman, Robert Putnam and others, there has been another quantum leap in our understanding of the software of development, and that element is social capital.

15. Social capital refers to the organisations, networks and institutions that allow citizens of different backgrounds to act collectively in the national interest. As Putnam nicely puts it, “Just as a screwdriver (that is, physical capital) or a college education (that is, human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so too social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups". It fosters trust and cooperation and is essential to all kinds of economic transactions, especially long-term investments and efforts to raise human capital and productivity. Researchers have found other significant positive externalities, such as lower crime rates, improved child welfare, better public health, and lower rates of corruption and abuse of power. Thus, the economic benefits of social capital, and, conversely, the costs of social division, can thus be much higher than anyone expects or believes.

16. Social capital manifests itself in four ways. First, it can take the form of organisations such as associations, clubs and community groups. These promote collective action and esprit d’corps based on common goals and objectives. Much care is needed to ensure that social institutions do not, wittingly or unwittingly, promote social exclusion and discrimination rather than social cohesion. The unwavering aim should be to establish organisations that transcend ethnic, religious and cultural boundaries, promote social contacts and create conditions for reciprocity and trust.

17. Second, social capital is represented by the vertical and horizontal networks of relationships among and within citizens of different ethnic, religious and territorial groups. These networks are supposed to lead to bonding and bridging but they may again defeat the purpose if they are not inclusive in nature and are instead used to pursue narrow sectarian interests. The emphasis must therefore be on increasing opportunities for bonding and bridging in residential neighbourhoods, classrooms and the workplaces, all with the understanding that more cultural mix is better.

18. Third, social capital is embodied in official institutions such as political parties, the legislature, judiciary and civil service. Douglass North, Dani Rodrik and William Easterly have all argued that institutions determine the capacity of countries to pursue their collective interests. They are responsible for formulating and implementing policies and laws that affect all groups and these can either promote or penalise good socio-economic behaviour.

19. Fourth, social capital takes the form of synergism or co-operation between state institutions and non-governmental networks. There can probably be no higher expression of trust and confidence than governments working alongside community groups to reach target groups in the population.

20. Physical capital, human capital and social capital constitute the three prerequisites of development. At the end of the day, the difference between a fully functional state and a fully dysfunctional one may lie in nothing more than the quantity and quality of its social capital. How else do we account for economies that, in their early stages, had little physical infrastructure and not even skilled labour to speak of but which have demonstrated great economic dynamism? What would account for landlocked and/or otherwise isolated economies with widespread poverty but able to make the transition to high productivity and incomes? Good fortune? Maybe. I believe that shaping the right socio-economic environment is a very important task and that this does not lie entirely, or perhaps even mainly, in the economic domain.

21. We, in Malaysia, must seek to refine our development thinking. The development community should make social capital an integral part of its discourse. Interestingly, there are studies that show that social capital and institutional quality are related. A recent study by Easterly, Ritzen and Woolcock demonstrates that it is social cohesion that determines how effective institutions are and this, in turn, impacts the formulation and implementation of development policies. Together, social capital and institutional quality may determine our development headroom or how high we will be able to climb.

22. Malaysia has accomplished a great deal over the past 50 years. The next 50 years will be equally, if not more, challenging. Policies that have served us well in the past are unlikely to work in the future. Malaysia today finds itself squeezed between the low-cost economies of China and Vietnam and the high-technology economies of Japan and South Korea. Malaysia’s comparative advantage in the export of manufactured labour-intensive products is fast eroding. Nothing less than the most competitive, innovative and flexible responses are required. To keep internationally competitive, the country needs to take a big step up the technological ladder by moving into high-technology and knowledge-intensive industries. It is well understood that Malaysia’s past growth was driven mainly by large increases in the use of labour and capital inputs. Future growth will have to come from productivity gains and technological breakthroughs. This in turn requires the country to vastly improve its human capital base by investing heavily in training and education, and promoting research and development. Economic policies must be aimed at nothing less than performance. Economic management must be driven by nothing less than competence. In this environment, the lack of social capital and cohesion will be ever costlier to nations.

23. Throughout history it has been crises that have most often driven change. I believe this will not be the case for Malaysia. I believe that in facing future challenges we will demonstrate both pragmatism and fairness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Natives: Are we the problem, Mr Minister?

Malaysiakini, 2007-11-23
By Fauwaz Abdul Aziz

Sarawak’s Dayak Ibans are wondering whether their cultivation of small plots of oil palm is the problem hindering the cultivation and production of certified sustainable palm oil.

As they see it, they are not the ones ‘displacing indigenous communities from their land, committing violence against and persecuting them and trampling on their customary rights’.

Therefore, it was to their wonder when Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui reportedly expressed concern yesterday that small farmers would not meet the standards required by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) criteria for sustainable palm oil production.

“These farmers must be enabled and be provided with the skills and knowledge to comply with the criteria,” he said in his keynote address at the closing ceremony of the Fifth Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil in Kuala Lumpur.

To qualify for the RSPO certification label, palm oil companies must fulfill standards and requirements pertaining to environmental conservation, social development, labour practices, land tenure and human rights.

'Dashed our hopes'

Noting the irony of Chin singling out rural small holders while large palm oil companies - backed by the Sarawak government - violated all legal, environmental and social norms, the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) said the Sarawak-born minister had dashed their hopes.

“We had high hopes for him that he will try to solve the issue of local communities in Sarawak,” said Sadia secretary-general Nicholas Mujah at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

“I don’t think his statement was pleasant for us,” he added.

Mujah said the expansion of the palm oil industry in recent years, particularly in Sarawak, had seen a growing number of conflicts between the large palm oil industry players and the Dayak people who make up 60 percent of the state’s 2.2 million indigenous peoples.

Among those experiencing this, Kampung Wawasan village chief Rajang Sangalang said he himself had taken up the state government’s call for indigenous communities to plant oil palm trees instead of leaving their lands idle.

However, his small village - consisting of about 100 people and located about 50 km from Miri - soon found that it was up against a large company that had suddenly claimed ownership of their land and was seeking to set up a 2,145-hectare oil palm plantation.

Despite evidence that Sangalang and his fellow villagers had lived and worked on the land for generations, the state government had leased the company to set up its plantation for 60 years.

Graves desecrated

Meanwhile, Sangalang said contractors for the company have not only torn up the palm trees previously planted by the villagers but also dug up the graves of their forefathers and desecrated other places considered sacred by the community.

Out of the 50 longhouse villages on the land coveted by the company, three of the villages - including Sangalang’s - have taken the company to court.

For this, Sangalang claimed that the local police are persecuting him and his family.

On Sept 12, 2007, notices were served on the villagers of Kampung Wawasan for their eviction and the demolition of their houses. On Nov 6, Sangalang was arrested and detained overnight at the local police station.

To this day, neither he nor the officers at the police station know why exactly orders were issued for his arrest.

“The police officers asked me, ‘What did you do wrong?’ So I told them, ‘I don’t know. What did I do?” said Sangalang.

Following his arrest, another letter arrived from Kuching warning him against his refusal to abide by a court injunction to vacate the land.

“He did not even know there was an injunction from the court. We had to rush to find him a lawyer to help him on the matter,” Mujah explained.

Mujah also pointed out that from the 163 disputes currently pending in Sarawak courts over native customary rights, more than 40 involve large oil palm developers.

Commenting on this, rights group Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez said Sarawak was becoming a “low-intensity conflict zone” due to the rising number of such disputes and the rising stakes involved caused by the boom in prices for crude palm oil in the international markets.

“The state is in collusion with the palm oil industry and they are acting with impunity... If matters escalate, it will lead to a considerable rise in the state of tensions,” said Fernandez, who was instrumental in the formulation of the RSPO criteria for sustainable palm oil certification.

Fernandez said a monitoring and auditing mechanism will be set up to ensure adherence to the RSPO certification.

Those companies that fail the audits will not qualify for the RSPO certification, she added.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Japanese timber ships still ‘stranded’ in Sarawak ports, Sat, Nov 3, 2007, 3:11pm
By Tony Thien

Numerous Japanese-registered ships are still being made to wait at various ports in Sarawak for their ‘entry permits’ to load timber products destined for Japan.

Sources in the shipping industry attribute this long-standing problem to Achi Jaya Shipping, which holds exclusive rights as the agent for all vessels dealing in timber exports.

Malaysiakini understands that only Japanese-registered ship are being affected because their owners reportedly refused to pay between US$2 and US$3 per metric tonne as ‘rebates’ to an offshore account linked to the agent.

About a dozen such ships are presently made to wait at various ports, including Kuala Baram, Bintulu and Tanjung Manis. Their owners are said to be haggling with agents over the matter.

This ships belong to a Japanese cartel which has been appointed by the Japanese timber buying houses to import timber from Sarawak.

Due to Japanese probe?

The stand-off is likely a result from an international scandal involving RM32 million in kickbacks paid by Japanese shipping companies for timber from the resource-rich state.

According to a Japan Times report, the multi-million ringgit ‘commission’ - made over a period of seven years - was paid to a Hong Kong company said to be linked to Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his family.

This was uncovered by Japanese tax authorities who deemed the payments made by the shipping companies as ‘illegitimate expenses’ since the Hong Kong agency, believed to be a paper company, did little ‘substantive work’ to justify the payments.

According to tax authorities, the shipping companies had tried to disguise the payments as ‘business expenses’ and were thus not taxed. The companies were then fined heavily for the offense.

A shipping industry source said cartel members have since refused to pay the rebates to Achi Jaya - which incidently is linked to Taib’s brother, Onn Mahmud - and thus cannot obtain their ‘entry permits’.

“It is definitely a retaliatory move (against the Japanese). There is no indication when the issues are going to be resolved,” said the source.

Industry affected

Local shipping firms are also said to be unhappy with Achi Jaya’s monopoly over timber carriers in Sarawakian ports.

“We had a request from a Miri-based timber conglomerate to arrange for ships to carry their finished timber products contracted to Japanese buyers,” said a senior official from a Bintulu-based shipping company.

“It is very unfortunate, that only they control the ‘entry permits’,” said the official who revealed that some shipping firms are trying to become Achi Jaya’s sub-agents.

The senior official added that the present stand-off between Japanese ships and Achi Jaya has taken a toll on Sarawak's timber industry.

Industry sources indicate that timber prices have dipped recently due to over supply and reduced Japanese demand. The stand-off at the ports are also making matter worse.

Sarawak plywood mills have allegedly also slashed production, some as much as 50 percent.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Daniel Paul Tammet: Boy with the Incredible Brain

Daniel Tammet

A remarkable young man, exhibiting stunning mental abilities. Daniel Paul Tammet born 31 Jan 1979 claims to see colours and sparks, which he can somehow relate to words and numbers. Scientists consider him a gold mine to further investigation into the understanding of brain activity and potential.

>Daniel claims that since the age of four, he has been able to do huge mathematical calculations in his head. So the makers of this documentary put him to the test, asking him to calculate 37 raised to the power of 4. He completed this in less than a minute, giving the correct answer of 1,874,161. While considering the question, it was observed that, he appeared to be drawing shapes on the table with his finger. When asked about this, he explained that he could see the numbers as shapes and colours in his mind. This breakdown or confusion of the senses is known as synethsesia.

Next he was asked to divide 13 by 97. This time the researchers had the answer to 32 decimal places, Daniel gave the answer and continued beyond 32. He claims he can do the calculations to 100 decimal places.

He appears to be doing the mathematical calculations without actually thinking about it, which seems preposterous, but if true, blows away scientific theory.

Daniel's talents do not stop at numbers. He is very gifted with words and speaks nine languages and claims to be able to learn a new one in just seven days. To put this to the test, the documentary team shipped Daniel off to Iceland for a week. His Icelandic tutor described their language as immensely complex and considered it an impossibility for anyone to learn in only one week. Daniel Tammet was to appear on an Icelandic talk show at the end of his week to discuss his experience in their native tongue. Although he appeared to struggle to begin with, in the last few days his tutor said "He was like a sponge, absorbing all words and grammar at a phenomenal rate". He made his television appearance with great success.

In March of 2004 Daniel had his own surprise, in Oxford, England, he would recite the number Pi to 22,500 decimal places, in public in front of a team of invigilators to verify his accuracy. After just over five hours he had completed this extraordinary memory feat.

His childhood holds a clue to his unbelievable brain. As a small child he suffered a number of severe seizures which were later diagnosed as epilepsy. Ever since this time he has been able to see the patterns in numbers. While this is rare, there are other cases where individuals have suffered injury to the brain only to emerge with a similar startling talent. Orlando Serrill was just 10 years old when he was hit, hard, on the side of the head by a baseball. Since when, he has been able to recall the day, date and weather of every day since the accident.

The scientific community refer to people with these extraordinary memory skills as savants of which there are only a handful in the world. The condition is often associated with autism. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen a Cambridge University neuroscientist describes autism as a mix of ability and disability. However, Daniel displays the ability with no obvious sign of disability. Daniel, as a baby, cried constantly up until the age of two. He could only be soothed by being rocked in a blanket forming a hammock. Soothing by repetitious movement is, according to Prof. Baron-Cohen, indicative of autism. By most measures, Daniel is autistic but he has managed to develop the social skills to blend in.

Dane Buttino, another savant, displays phenomenal artistic skills, but his language and social skills remain child like. Unlike Dane, Daniel can describe what he is experiencing, making him very valuable to science.
Next in Daniel's travels is a trip to Salt Lake City to meet Kim Peek, probably the world's best known savant and the original Rain Man. Kim has a double photographic memory and can recall everything he has ever read. He speed reads by scanning opposing pages at the same time, one page with each eye.

We finish by visiting San Diego Center for Brain Studies where two very sceptical scientists, Shai Azoulai and Professor V.S. Ramachandran are going to put Daniel through his paces. As expected, his numeracy skills were flawless but the scientists are still not convinced. They don't believe he can relate coloured shapes to complex numbers so challenge him to make putty models of the shapes he sees for a given set of numbers. The following day, they ask the same to test the consistency of his shapes. Not surprisingly, Daniels excels and the scientists have to concede that they are amazed at what they have seen.

46 Year Pregnancy: Zahra Aboutalib and her Sleeping Baby

Extraordinary People

In 1955 in a small village just outside Casablanca, 26 year old Zahra Aboutalib is pregnant with her first child. She was looking forward to giving birth, but after 48 hours of painful labour, she was rushed to the local hospital. Doctors informed her that she would need a caesarean section. On the ward Zahra saw a woman in terrible pain die in child-birth. She fled the hospital fearing she would meet the same fate if she remained.

In the days that followed, Zahra continued to suffer excruciating labour pains but the baby remained resolutely in her womb. After a few more days the pains ceased and the baby stopped moving.

In Moroccan culture, it is believed that a baby can sleep inside the mother to protect her honour. Zahra believed this myth and put the pregnancy out of her mind. She adopted three children and in due course they made her a grandmother.

Many years later when Zahra was 75 years old, the pains suddenly returned. Her son being concerned for his mother's well-being wanted her to see a specialist. For this they had to travel to Rabat where they saw Professor Taibi Ouazzani. He suspected the protruding belly was being caused by an ovarian tumour and arranged for her to have an ultra-sound scan. This revealed a large mass that he could not identify.

He referred Zahra to a specialist radiographer for a second opinion. He could see it was a calcified structure of some sort, but it took a detailed MRI scan to reveal that it was the baby Zahra had conceived 46 years earlier.

Zahra had an ectopic pregnancy where the egg had implanted in the fallopian tube. The foetus that developed, burst out of the fallopian tube and continued to develop in the abdominal cavity. It survived by attaching it's placenta to vital organs around her stomach.

Professor Ouazzania was faced with a difficult decision when deciding if it would be safe to try and remove the foetus. The foetus weighed 7lb and measured 42cm in length.

Stone Baby

When they operated they discovered that the foetus had calcified and was a hard, solid lump. It was, essentially, a stone-baby. More concerning was the fact that it had fused with her abdominal wall and vital organs.

After nearly 4 hours the surgeons manage to remove the calcified foetus from Zahra and the operation is hailed a success.

Dissected foetus showing internal organs

In an ectopic pregnancy, if the dead foetus is too large to be re-absorbed by the mother's body it becomes a foreign body to the mother's immune system. To protect itself from possible infection the mother's body will encase the foetus in a calciferous substance as the tissues die and dehydrate.

As the calciferous wall builds up, the foetus is gradually mummified becoming a lithopedion or stone babay.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Whatever Happened to Altantuya Shaariibuu?

Asia Sentinel, 15 October 2007
by Mat Salleh

Timid prosecution, long delays and avoiding a powerful witness in a sensational murder case raise questions about Malaysia’s judicial system

The trial of Abdul Razak Baginda and two of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s bodyguards for the October 2006 murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu has been underway for 150 days with neither the prosecutors nor defense showing much appetite for an aggressive proceeding.

The brutal demise of Abdul Razak’s jilted girlfriend, a freelance Mongolian translator, has been lost in a haze of procedural motions and delays. Critics of Malaysia’s judicial and political systems frequently point to the closeness of Abdul Razak and the two bodyguards, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 31, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 36, to Najib. The latter were part of the Special Action Squad, an elite team of bodyguards directly under Najib’s control, until they were arrested last November.

Fewer than 50 days have been spent in court over the course of the five months since the trial began. As the trial resumed Oct. 10 after yet another lengthy delay, the prosecution said it had another 15 witnesses left to go with the 38 that have already appeared, leading one lawyer connected with the case to tell Asia Sentinel, “that is a huge number of prosecution witnesses to call, which I think is totally unnecessary.”

What began as gripping drama has devolved into grinding routine, and the Malaysian public has become increasingly bored with the trial. But it still remains one of the most spectacular trials in Malaysian history because of the gruesome execution of the beautiful 27-year-old woman, who was shot twice in the head and then had her body blown up with plastic explosives in a jungle clearing.

The foot-dragging and numbing technical proceedings have led to suspicions on the part of many that it is being deliberately delayed by the prosecution and the judiciary to lessen the eventual impact of an expected not-guilty verdict, although legal sources point out that Malaysia has no pre-trial discovery process, which means that in other jurisdictions time-consuming activities like the identification of evidence are concluded before the trial begins. But in the case at hand, suspicions have been heightened because of the politically well-connected defendant in a judicial system saddled with scandal, inefficiency and suspected collusion with government for nearly 20 years. The concerns emanate from a landmark event in 1988, when then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sacked Tun Salleh Abbas, the highly respected Lord President of the Supreme Court, when the court refused to buckle under on government decisions.

Certainly, there are questions about the delays, including a one-week break in mid September for a judges’ conference and another while Abdul Razak Baginda went for treatment of an eye problem. In August, there was a three-week break to give lawyers on both sides time to handle other cases. There have been lengthy trials-within-trials while prosecutors and defense attorneys squabbled over the admissibility of evidence. Most of last week was taken up with a debate on DNA evidence.

“In civil cases this is the usual thing,” the lawyer said. “But I am surprised that it has gone on this long. I don’t think we have had this kind of factual circumstance in a criminal trial in Malaysia’s legal history.”

The bodyguards accused of pulling the trigger, Azilah and Sirul, are alleged to have killed Altantuya at the behest of Abdul Razak, who had broken off his affair with her. She was demanding as much as US$500,000 in support money for a child he supposedly had fathered. In a statement to police, he acknowledged that he had given Altantuya US$10,000 on three separate occasions.

As Asia Sentinel previously reported, there is abundant reason to suspect that Najib also knew Altantuya, despite his protestations, although his name has been mentioned only once in the Shah Alam high court where the trial is being held. Malaysia’s government-influenced newspapers have mentioned Najib only reluctantly in connection with the case, merely printing that he had sworn before Allah that he had never met the woman.

Najib and Abdul Razak, probably accompanied by the translator, were in France together at the same time in 2005, perhaps because of a military procurement deal that netted Abdul Razak a fortune. In a letter left behind after her death, Altantuya said she regretted blackmailing Abdul Razak, although she didn’t say what the blackmail entailed.

At the time she accompanied Abdul Razak to Paris, Malaysia’s defense ministry, headed by Najib, was negotiating without bids through a Kuala Lumpur-based company, Perimekar Sdn Bhd, which at the time was owned by yet another company called Ombak Laut, wholly owned by Abdul Razak Baginda, to buy two Scorpene submarines and a used Agosta submarine produced by the French government under a French-Spanish joint venture, Amaris.

Scorpene Submarines under construction in France

The Malaysian ministry of defense paid one billion euros (RM4.5 billion) to Amaris for the three submarines, for which Perimekar received an 11 percent commission, 114 million euros (RM510 million) from Amaris. Deputy Defense Minister Zainal Abdidin Zin told the Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia’s parliament, that the whopping commission was not a bribe, but was a fee for “coordination and support services.”

Saturday, September 29, 2007


If something like this can happened to a serving Policeman, I would shuddered to think what could happen to an ordinary citizen on the street ?

Blow Away The Whistle-blower

by Raja Petra Kamarudin

Let me make this short and sharp. Malaysia Today has published many reports about the links between the organised crime syndicate and the Royal Malaysian Police. The seven reports are as follows:

Thus far, six police officers and two underworld operators have come forward to sign Affidavits testifying that undoubtedly there are links between the underworld and the police. Malaysia Today did not publish the two Affidavits signed by the underworld figures (yes, that is my insurance policy in the safe-keeping of someone very important) but the six signed by the police officers were previously published as follows:

Today, what we want to reveal is the story of how one police officer’s family was ‘kidnapped’ by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and held for ‘ransom’ to solicit his cooperation. He and his wife have since made police reports on the matter. Isn’t it ironical that even police officers face kidnap threats and they have had to resort to making police reports to seek justice? What danger do you think people like you and I face when we do not wear a police uniform and carry a gun? In fact, when a police officer shot two people in Kuala Terengganu recently, they launched a day and night, house-to-house, state-wide manhunt to look for 37 of the 41 demonstrators who did not ‘surrender’ when the deadline to do so ended. It is not the police officer who shot two people whom they were concerned with. Instead, it was those who the police tried to shoot who are the brunt of the police action.

And now they talk about bringing the parents of a raped, tortured and murdered child to face the music for the tragedy that befell them. And we also hear sermons from people of the cloth who blame scantily-dressed girls for getting raped by sex perverts who can’t keep their hormones in check. Will we next see bank directors getting charged in court when bank robbers rob their banks and goldsmith owners being dragged off to jail in chains when their goldsmith shops get robbed? Yes, and millionaires should be shot when their children get kidnapped because they did not hire bodyguards to look after their children and luxury car owners should be jailed for parking their cars on the street when they went into the restaurant to have dinner instead of employing a driver to sit in the car to guard it against car thieves.

Anyway, let us get back to the police officer whose family was kidnapped by the ACA. Awhile back, Malaysia Today reported that some underworld bosses who were detained under the Emergency Ordinance were released by instructions from some higher-ups in the police force. This was in fact not the only time this happened. There were other such incidence where the Deputy Minister of Internal Security was implicated and where it is said he received RM5.5 million in bribes to release them. The allegation was revealed in an anonymous website which the Deputy Minister concerned suspects someone in the police force itself set up. Nevertheless, the revelation was announced by the police as only they appeared to be aware of the existence of this website and the Deputy Minister was called for interrogation before the ACA. The ACA subsequently announced that the Deputy Minister is innocent of the allegation and they classified the case closed and no further action (NFA) required.

In the second incident it was the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) who was this time accused of perpetuating the exact same thing that the Deputy Minister of Internal Security was accused of. But this time the amount was slightly less than half which the Deputy Minister was accused of. The IGP too was cleared by the ACA. It seems they checked his bank account and could not find RM2 million in it so this means he must be innocent and could not have taken any bribes from the underworld.

So it looks like both the Deputy Minister and the IGP are innocent and the allegations against them are all false. Sure, many underworld bosses who were detained under the Emergency Ordinance were released. But they were released because they were wrongly-detained and their detention did not follow proper procedures and not because the Deputy Minister and the IGP were paid money to release them. And since the ACA launched thorough investigations into the allegations against the Deputy Minister and the IGP and found them innocent then we must take the word of the ACA and assume that they are therefore innocent as what the ACA says. After all, if the ACA could not find the RM7 million or RM8 million in their bank accounts then there is no way they could have taken bribes from the underworld bosses. If they did then the money would still be in their bank accounts.

The government -- meaning here of course the Royal Malaysian Police, the Anti-Corruption Agency, and the Attorney-General’s Chambers -- have said that they have investigated the allegations against the Deputy Minister and the IGP and have found them to be unfounded. It is just two groups that are trying to bring each other down, say those who walk in the corridors of power. The police force is badly split and this is just the result of two groups, Team A and Team B, fighting for control of the police force, explains others in the corridors of power. This is just a turf war between two organised crime syndicates that are trying to gain control of the drugs, prostitution, illegal gambling and loan-sharking rackets, argue yet others who walk in the corridors of power. More theories are thrown onto the table: actually, both Team A and Team B are equally guilty of links with the underworld and each is trying to topple the other so that they can gain control of the drugs, prostitution, illegal gambling and loan-sharking rackets.

Well, whatever it may be, those who walk in the corridors of power should know better. But whatever the reason may be, they are all equally perturbing. This means there are serious problems in the police force. Whether it is one group jealous of another, whether it is a conspiracy to bring down the IGP, whether it is because the police are split into Team A and Team B, whether it is a turf war in the underworld and the police are just taking sides, they are all destructive and merely serves to demonstrate that we have serious problems on Peace Hill. And what irony that Peace Hill is not so peaceful nowadays.

Anyway, the government needs the truth to emerge and the only way for it to emerge would be for those who know the truth to come forward. 90% of the success in solving cases by the Income Tax Department, the Anti-Corruption Agency, the Royal Malaysian Police, etc., is the result of information they receive from whistle-blowers. In fact, the government depends so much on whistle-blowers that it has launched a whistle-blower protection program. Protection of whistle-blowers is internationally accepted and there is even an international agreement to that effect. Whistle-blowers must not only be protected but they have to also be placed under the witness protection programme and relocated with a new identity if need be. That would be the only way to ensure that the crime rate is kept low and the success rate of solving crimes is kept high.

But this does not happen in Malaysia. In Malaysia, if you were to squeal on those from amongst you who are corrupt, you will suffer retribution. Now do you know why it is so hard to pin down those police officers who murdered Altantuyu? Many know what happened but not many dare come forward to reveal what happened. To do so would be detrimental to one’s health.

Take the case of Nordin bin Ahmad, a police officer. He investigated the underworld bosses and helped build up the case against them. He squealed on the dirty cops. And he was made to regret that. They used the ACA to kidnap his wife and children on 23 September 2007 with a warning that they will be released only if he presents himself at the ACA office and changes his testimony implicating the underworld bosses. Both Nordin Ahmad and his wife, Kalsom Mat Nor, have made police reports on the matter which you can view below.

Chief Inspector Nordin Ahmad (right) and Lance Corporal Wong Boon Wai pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Two policemen claim trial to 14 counts of forgery

Yes, this is the same ACA that investigated the allegations against the Deputy Minister of Internal Security and the IGP and subsequently cleared them. If the ACA can resort to kidnapping the family of police officers and witnesses who testify against crooks, it makes one wonder whether you can any longer take the word of the ACA. It appears like they are accessories to crime rather than the eliminators of it. It appears like the ACA helps cover up the crime instead of going after the criminal. I know they say it takes a thief to catch a thief. But in this case the thief is protecting the thief and kidnapping the family of those who report the thief.

Many other witnesses and whistle-blowers were also summoned before those who walk in the corridors of power, in particular those who have signed Affidavits testifying to the fact they have received instructions from the underworld or received instructions from their superiors in the police force to cooperate with the underworld bosses and follow whatever orders they receive from them. Whistle-blowers have been exposed and now fear for their lives. Whistle-blowers will now get blown away. And the purpose of this exercise is to ‘prove’ that the allegations against Goh Cheng Poh a.k.a Tengku and his minions are false. On 1 October 2007, the court is scheduled to hear the application from Tengku for his detention and restricted residence order to be declared mala fide. If the court buys what he says, then this notorious underworld boss will be out on the streets in time to send Hari Raya Ang Pows to the dozens of police officers he has in his pocket.

Anyway, I am sure they will adduce all sorts of ‘evidence’ in court to ‘prove’ that Tengku is law-abiding, is a member of the Rotary Club and PTA, goes to the temple every week to pray, does uncountable charity work and dishes out donations to needy people by the millions, and all such bullshit. And I am going to start taking bets that Tengku will soon be back on the streets and all those police officers who arrested him and those witnesses who testified against him will wish they had never been born.

Any takers anyone? Let’s make it cheap: teh tarik at a favourite watering-hole of the winner’s choice.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Guan Eng reports OPV issues to ACA

By: Ng Kee Seng (The Sun, Fri, 28 Sep 2007)

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 28, 2007): DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today lodged a report with the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) on alleged abuses of Power and irregularities in the purchase of six Offshore Patrol Vessels( OPVs) and the detroying of relevant documents.

Lim lodge the report in the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory ACA office on Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin about noon, attended to by ACA Supt Zulkifly Zainal Abidin. He also attached to his report a letter to ACA Acting Senior Asst Comm I Abu Zubir Mahfodz @ Hatmon.

"It's not only the irregularities and destroying of evidence. The shocking 38% or RM 1.85 billion increase in the contract from RM4.9 billion To RM6.75 billion and waiver of RM214 million in penalties on the contractor for late delivery must be investigated," he said after lodging the report.

"The DAP had earlier called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to be set up to determine whether the Cabinet was misled into making a foolish decision to approve the RM 1.85 billion increase in the contract and waiver of penalty.

"However there is no such urgency to find the truth as to how the public lost so much money in getting six OPVs that are either still not operational or undelivered. Clearly, the Prime Minister’s efforts to promote transparency, accountability and good governance by demanding that ministries must answer for the instances of mismanagement disclosed in the Auditor-General’s 2006 Report is mere lip service and empty promises.

"There is greater urgency in discovering the truth of this scandal following the shocking revelation by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad that certain records have been destroyed and that PAC has not been able to get hold of sufficient company reports regarding the vessels.

"Datuk Shahrir was quoted as saying that the records destroyed involved the first two problem-ridden vessels which were delivered to the Royal Malaysian Navy last year after a two-year delay.

"The RM6.75 billion OPV scandal is the largest single case of misuse of funds in the 2006 Auditor-General (A-G)’s Report. PSC-NDSB had agreed to supply 6 OPVs at RM4.9 billion, which was arranged without an open public tender.

"This was subsequently increased to RM5.35 billion in September 1998. All the 6 OPVs were supposed to be delivered by April 2007 with the first delivery on March 2004. However only 2 OPVs were delivered so far and the 2 OPVs are not fully operational as the technical specifications required are still not completely performed.

"The two OPVs delivered in June and July 2006 respectively had 100 and 383 incomplete works and items at the point of handing over. There were 298 complaints over the operations of the vessels. This puts the life and safety of our sailors at risk if such OPVs are put out to sea when it is not performing at optimum capacity," said Lim.

The A-G estimated that the government can claim at least RM 214 million in late penalties for the late delivery of the two OPVs and non-delivery of the remaining four OPVs.

Lim said: "However in another remarkable and unwarranted act of charity and generosity, the Cabinet on Nov 29, 2006, waived the claim of penalties. Worse, in a continuing act of generosity and charity the government increased the contract price by RM1.4 billion in January 2007.

"The cost for the 6 OPVs had risen by RM1.85 billion or 38% from the original contract price of RM4.9 billion to RM6.75 billion, ie to RM5.35 billion in September 1998 and again to RM6.75 billion in January 2007."

"The A-G also criticised the monitoring by the project steering committee. Was the Cabinet misled?"

In the letter enclosed to the ACA report, Lim urged the ACA to focus on six prime investigative areas:

  • Why were there no open tender and instead the contract awarded to PSC-Naval Dockyard Sdn Bhd - a subsidiary of PSC Industries Bhd owned by Umno associate Amin Shah Omar Shah - in 1998?;

  • What is the justification for increasing the contract value by 38% or RM 1.85 billion to RM 6.75 billion when the contractor had already failed to perform?;

  • Why did the government waive claims of at least RM214 million in late penalties for the late delivery of the two OPVs and non-delivery of the remaining four OPVs?;

  • Why no action was taken against the contractor for sub-standard work on the two OPVs delivered in June and July 2006 respectively which failed to fulfill technical specifications with over 483 incomplete works and items and 298 complaints over the operations of the vessels?;

  • Why did the Defence Ministry pay in advance RM4.26 billion to the contractor by Dece 31, 2006, even though progress of work done only amounts to RM2.87 billion, which is RM 1.4 billion more than the contractor is entitled to claim?; and

  • Who ordered the destruction of the documents as announced by Datuk Shahrir?

  • ACA Report on Abuses of Power and Irregularities into the Purchase of 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV)

    Pmg. Penolong Kanan Pesuruhjaya I Abu Zubir Bin Hj. Mahfodz @ Hatmon,
    Pengarah Negeri,
    Tingkat 5 & 6, Rumah Persekutuan
    Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin Peti Surat 6000,
    50502 KUALA LUMPUR



    BPR Report On Abuses Of Power And Irregularities Into The Purchase Of 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels(OPV) Where Relevant Documents Have Been Destroyed And The Shocking Increase Of 38% or RM 1.85 Billion In The Contract Value From RM 4.9 Billion To RM 6.75 Billion And Waiver RM 214 Million In Penalties For Late Delivery.

    We wish to make a report to the BPR to investigate the abuses of power and irregularities surrounding the purchase of 6 OPVs where relevant documents have been destroyed and the shocking increase of 38% or RM 1.85 billion in the contract value from RM 4.9 billion to RM 6.75 billion and waiver from collecting RM 214 million in penalties imposed on the contractor for late delivery.

    DAP had earlier requested that the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister YAB Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to determine whether Cabinet was misled into making a foolish decision to approve the increase by 38% or RM 1.85 billion in the contract value of the 6 OPVs from RM 4.9 billion to RM 6.75 billion and waive RM 214 million in penalties for late delivery.

    However there is no such urgency to find the truth as to how the public lost so much money in getting 6 OPVs that are either still not operational or undelivered. Clearly the Prime Minister’s efforts to promote transparency, accountability and good governance by demanding that Ministries must answer for the instances of mismanagement disclosed in the Auditor-General’s 2006 Report is mere lip service and empty promises.

    There is greater urgency in discovering the truth of this scandal following the shocking revelation by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chair Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad in Malaysiakini on 26 September 2007 that certain records have been destroyed and that PAC has not been able to get hold of sufficient company reports regarding the vessels. Datuk Shahrir said that the records destroyed involved the first two problem-ridden vessels, which were delivered to the Royal Malaysian Navy last year after a two-year delay.

    The RM 6.75 billion OPV scandal is the largest single case of misuse of funds in the 2006 Auditor-General’s Report. PSC-NDSB had agreed to supply 6 OPVs at RM 4.9 billion, which was arranged without an open public tender. This was subsequently increased to RM 5.35 billion in September 1998. All the 6 OPVs were supposed to be delivered by April 2007 with the first delivery on March 2004. However only 2 OPVs were delivered so far and the 2 OPVs are not fully operational as the technical specifications required are still not completely performed.

    The two OPVs were only delivered in June and July 2006 respectively had 100 and 383 incomplete works and items at the point of handing over. There were 298 complaints over the operations of the vessels. This puts the life and safety of our sailors at risk if such OPVs are put out to sea when it is not performing at optimum capacity.

    A penalty of 0.5% per month based on the contract value is imposed for any delay. However such penalties can not exceed RM 53.5 million, a very generous self-imposed limit by the government. The first OPV was late by 27 months and the second OPV was late by 18 months but yet both are imposed penalties of RM 53.5 million each due to the self-imposed limit.

    The other four OPVs are still not delivered. The Auditor-General Report estimated that the government can claim at least RM 214 million in late penalties for the late delivery of the 2 OPVs and non-delivery of the remaining 4 OPVs. However in another remarkable and unwarranted act of charity and generosity, the Cabinet on 29.11.2006 waived the claim of penalties.

    Worse, in a continuing act of generosity and charity the government increased the contract price by RM 1.4 billion in January 2007. The cost for the 6 OPVs had risen by RM 1.85 billion or 38% from the original contract price of RM 4.9 billion to RM 6.75 billion, ie to RM 5.35 billion in September 1998 and again to RM 6.75 billion in January 2007.

    The Auditor-General also criticized the monitoring by the project steering committee - led by YAB Deputy Prime Minister and an executive management committee chaired by top ministry officials. Was the YAB Deputy Prime Minister being misled resulting in Cabinet also been misled? If so, severe action should be taken against the officials involved.

    The most shocking aspect about this RM 6.75 billion scandal is why the Defence Ministry pay in advance RM 4.26 billion to the contractor by 31.12.2006, even though progress of work done only amounts to RM 2.87 billion? Would not the government lose RM 1.4 billion already paid to the contractor should the contractor abscond and flee overseas?

    In summary the ACA should focus on 6 prime investigative areas in the RM 6.75 billion OPV scandal, especially the key people who gave approval.

    1. Why were there no open tender and instead the contract awarded to PSC-Naval Dockyard Sdn Bhd - a subsidiary of PSC Industries Bhd owned by Umno associate Amin Shah Omar Shah - in 1998?

    2. What is the justification for increasing the contract value by 38% or RM 1.85 billion to RM 6.75 billion when the contractor had already failed to perform?

    3. Why did the government waive claims of at least RM 214 million in late penalties for the late delivery of the 2 OPVs and non-delivery of the remaining 4 OPVs?

    4. Why no action was taken against the contractor for sub-standard work on the two OPVs delivered in June and July 2006 respectively which failed to fulfill technical specifications with over 483 incomplete works and items and 298 complaints over the operations of the vessels risking the lives and safety of our sailors?

    5. Why did the Defence Ministry pay in advance RM 4.26 billion to the contractor by 31.12.2006, even though progress of work done only amounts to RM 2.87 billion, which is RM 1.4 billion more than the contractor is entitled to claim?

    6. Who ordered the destruction of the documents as announced by Datuk Shahrir?

    BPR must investigate how RM 6.75 billion could be lost to purchase OPVs for the defence of our naval waters that would either not be delivered or not fully operational. The 2006 Auditor-General’s Report had provided all the necessary materials that would assist BPR’s investigations and clearly spelt out that there was “no justification” for the government to approve the extra RM 1.4 billion and waiving RM 214 million in penalties for late delivery that it was entitled to claim from the contractor.

    It would be unfortunate if those that expose corruption are persecuted and punished whereas those who commit such wrongdoings can prosper and flourish. Failure to take action on this massive scandal would only confirm negative public perceptions about the role of the Anti-Corruption Agency and not help to restore public confidence in Malaysia’s commitment to establish integrity, accountability and transparency as part of Malaysian culture.

    It is this failure that has caused Malaysia’s position in the 2007 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index to be at No. 43, which though an improvement from last year’s No. 44, is still far below the No. 37th position enjoyed by Malaysia when YAB Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over in 2003. Only firm and stern action taken against such high-profile cases involving huge amounts of public funds highlighted even in the Auditor-General’s report can facilitate the restoration of our credibility and commitment to combat corruption.

    Yours faithfully,


    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Rio Tinto and Ascendant Copper Partner in Ecuador

    Written by Carlos Zorrilla
    Thursday, 20 September 2007

    On October 30, 2006, and in spite of numerous reports linking the presence of Ascendant Copper Corporation to serious human rights violations in the Intag area of Ecuador, Rio Tinto Zinc signed an exploratory/profit-sharing agreement with Ascendant. The agreement, which included turning over to Ascendant many years worth of exploratory information gathered in Western Ecuador by Rio Tinto, also gives Rio the right to invest in future mining projects developed by Ascendant.

    Ascendant Copper since May of 2004 has unsuccessfully tried to develop its Junin copper mining project, situated in the biodiverse Toisan Range, Northwestern Ecuador. The opposition to mining in the Intag area- which includes all local governments, and most of the communities and NGO’s, has stopped Ascendant’s attempts to access land the company considers theirs and carry out exploration. The company has also been singularly unsuccessful at getting the environmental impact statement approved by government to begin exploration. This has caused nearly $20 million in losses and several millions worth of "exploration investments" in its Junin mining project.

    Rio Tinto likes to portray itself as a model corporate citizen, yet the agreement with Ascendant was signed just 2 weeks after police illegally raided the home of a well-known anti- mining activist opposed to Ascendant’s Junin project. The illegal action was linked to Ascendant Copper Corporation by a prestigious human rights organization.

    The day following the signing of the agreement, approximately 50 persons, hired by a company contracted by Ascendant Copper Corporation, tried to violently enter some of Ascendant’s concessions using tear gas and attack dogs. Community members stopped the incursion, but not before several local residents- including a 6 year-old boy- was tear-gassed, and another community member was allegedly run over by a company car.
    But then things got much worse.

    Paramilitary Problem

    On December 2, 2006, exactly 30 days after the first failed incursion, the same company tried again to force their way into community areas. This time the confrontation, which was filmed and photographed in high-definition digital cameras, showed how about 20 heavily armed individuals pretending to be security guards (and paid for by Ascendant) without any provocation started pepper-spraying and shooting their 38 caliber hand guns and shotguns at unarmed community members. One community member received a gunshot wound in the leg. As in the previous attempt, the community stopped the aggression, and the guards had to turn back. The company even hired an army helicopter to supply the "troops" with supplies. Later that night, over 100 more so-called security guards arrived in the town of García Moreno. Two days later, the communities captured and held 56 of them in the village of Junin. On being interviewed, it was discovered that every one of them were ex-military personnel, and some indicated they had been hired to do work for the mining company and that they were to build a mining camp. Several of them admitted having participated in the November incursion.

    Based mostly on the violent incident of December, which was featured in several national newspapers and shown on prime-time Ecuadorian TV, in addition to international electronic magazines and Canadian newspapers, the government of Ecuador immediately suspended all of Ascendant’s activities in the area. The government also rejected the company’s environmental impact study based on fundamental flaws. To date (September 2007), the company has not resubmitted another one.

    The persecution and harassment against anti-mining activist in the Intag area of Ecuador, however, did not stop with the use of armed ex-military groups. It deteriorated to the point where, in July of 2007, Amnesty International Amnesty International issued an urgent action, alerting the world of the threats and danger faced by Polivio Pérez, Mercy Catalina Torres, and "others opposed to the Intag copper mining project."
    Another alert was issued on August 2007 as a consequence of a near lynching of Mr. Perez, in an incident involving company employees, according to a report by CEDHU- a respected Ecuadorian human rights organization

    All the above events were widely publicized, so there was no way Rio Tinto Zinc would not have known of them. But even prior to these specific events, there were already many other documented instances of human rights violations taking place in Intag, and several voices had alerted the world to the violent conflicts arising from Ascendant’s presence in the area. The confrontations included the burning down of the company’s mining camp in December of 2005 by local residents (see,%20,, or

    The involvement of Rio Tinto Zinc with Ascendant Copper Corporation points to a worrisome and disturbing trend behind the so-called "social-responsabilization" of large mining companies. Besides using similar publicity tactics utilized in the "greenwashing" of many of these same companies’ projects, a more worrisome pattern is emerging: the strategy of the big companies (with a reputation at stake) relying on aggressive cowboy junior companies to "clear the way for them" in troubled areas. In the case of the Junin copper-mining project, the "clearing of the way" has turned into a human-rights nightmare for the people on the ground opposed to the mining project.

    By attracting fresh capital from new investors, the signing of exploration or exploitation agreements between aggressive or violent junior mining companies and large, "reputable" and well established ones, can greatly exacerbate the sort of human-rights abuses briefly pointed out above.

    If responsible corporate-citizenry has any meaning whatsoever, and if corporations like Rio Tinto are serious about respecting human rights, the company would have never signed on to this very troubled project.

    Note: In Sarawak, Rio Tinto has signed an agreement with Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS) a state conglomerate 51% controlled by the current Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud's family and 49% controls by SEDC (State Economic Development Corporation, an entity owned by the State government) to set up one of the largest Aluminium Smelting Company in the region, known as Sarawak Aluminium Company in Similajau, Bintulu. Similajau has been declared a State Forestry National Park by the state government a few years ago. Now , with the aluminium smelting plant to be sited there knowing what Rio Tinto capable of in term of worst environmental and human rights record where they had been in operation around the world, we should be wondering whether the worst could happened in Similajau and in particular the whole of Bintulu division? We hope SUHAKAM, DOE and other relevant authorities are aware of the implications what this mammoth smelting plant could bring to the area; the worst scenerio of catastrophic environmental destructions?