21 Jan 2014

Agong’s speeches that confuse

FMT LETTER: From Ravinder Singh, via e-mail

The Agong’s two recent speeches, one upon the heels of the other, have left me, and I suppose many others, confused.

Celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, he was reported to have said “Let us together make every effort to strengthen brotherhood and bring about changes and improvements in the Islamic mould as taught by Prophet Muhammad in a moderate and balanced manner.”

The Agong had further said that the Prophet himself had succeeded in ridding the community of bad habits and a culture of fanatical beliefs and substituting these with a culture of tolerance and mutual understanding of one another.

“The Prophet had proven that diversity in society, regardless of whether it is in terms of religion, culture or language, is not a problem and obstacle to unity so long as the approach of ‘wasatiyyah’ (moderation) is adopted as a practice in life.”

In his own birthday speech a few days later, he told Malaysians that ‘several words including ‘Allah’ were the exclusive rights of Muslims, citing a 1986 decree by the National Fatwa Council on their use.’ 

He said the public should respect religious and social sensitivities, including on the ‘Allah’ issue, to preserve peace and stability in Malaysia.

18 Jan 2014

Intrepid campaigner against corruption

I HAVE from time to time written about people past and present, who have taken a clear, unequivocal stand on ethical issues in both their personal and professional dealings.

Today, I put the spotlight on Tan Sri Robert Phang, the intrepid, if sometimes controversial, campaigner against criminality in all its manifestations.

Unlike many whom I know who will go to any length to mask their humble origins, Robert, true to form, seems to derive enormous comfort from sharing the story of his early life: a long personal journey punctuated by grinding poverty when growing up all those years ago in Penang.

It was, according to him, a life of unremitting struggle for survival for the family.
Young Robert and his siblings somehow survived, to his own utter amazement.

Robert is a survivor in the best possible sense. He is not given to self-pity, and for him, the misfortunes of his early life were part of a natural order of things that God, in His wisdom, had ordained.

The past was a series of lessons to be learnt. His deep and abiding faith in his religion is reflected in his highly developed sense of right and wrong.

His concerns for the welfare of his fellow human beings manifest themselves in his devotion to many humanitarian causes that involve both great financial expenditure as well as putting his life at risk.

This is his way of giving something back to society. For all that, and perhaps because of that, he is a much maligned and misunderstood man: his intolerance of acts of injustice, hypocrisy, and corruption has earned him names that would make your maiden aunt blush.

No accolade for him, but this has not affected him in the least. If anything, it makes him ever more determined to confront corruption in national life.

15 Jan 2014

'Mammoth street rally if graft goes unpunished'

PKR MPs have warned of a mammoth rally if prominent individuals being probed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) do not face charges after an expected amendment to the MACC Act in March.

Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli pointed out that the MACC has previously claimed that it could not present a solid case against bigwigs due to loopholes in the Act.

"Hundreds of thousands of people were on the street (during Bersih’s push for) electoral reform, but corruption is the Number One enemy of the country and many problems are rooted in corruption,” he told an anti-graft forum in Kuala Lumpur last night.

"This is an early warning to the government and the MACC. If they do not handle (corruption) well, people will get sick of it and march in the streets.

"We start in a consultative way but by March, after the law is amended and (if) ministers are still not charged, I am sure a few us will be instigators (of a mammoth rally)."

This consultative manner, he said, included the forum itself, which was aimed collating ideas to contribute to the drafting of an alternate amendment Bill.

The government's Bill to amend the MACC Act is expected to be tabled when Parliament convenes for its new session in March.

Axe AG over PKFZ foul-up, says DAP

Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail should be sacked as he failed to secure convictions in the two Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) cases involving prominent MCA leaders, said DAP.

Commenting on the acquittal of former MCA deputy president Chan Kong Choy yesterday, DAP's Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said Abdul Gani (right) is either incompetent or the charges were "intentionally framed to fail".

Pua, who is also a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member, said that this is because the AG in his testimony in 2009 told the PAC that Chan could be charged with criminal breach of trust.

He said that this was based on the three letters of guarantee which Chan had signed on behalf of the government without approval from the Finance Ministry.

He said that auditors PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) in their testimony also stated that these letters caused the government to pay the contractual amount to bondholders, despite services not fully rendered.

"(The) AG said that the three support letters issued by Chan were implicitly a form of guarantee from the government to ensure that there would be allocations for Port Klang Authority, to enable it to meet its obligations under the development agreement.

"As a result, Chan can be charged with criminal breach of trust under Section 409 of the Penal Code, read with Section 409B," he said.

8 Jan 2014

Open letter to PM and Cabinet – Lim Kit Siang

I am taking full advantage of the Age of Information Technology which enables the instant communication of information with information travelling at the speed of light to pen this Open Letter to the Prime Minister and all Cabinet Ministers just before they start this morning, their first Cabinet meeting of the New Year of 2014.

I urge the prime minister and ministers to send out a clear and unmistakable message in their first Cabinet meeting to end the drift and loss of leadership and direction to create a united, harmonious, just, competitive and great Malaysian nation.

The Cabinet cannot do better than start their first meeting by discussing and digesting the question eloquently posed yesterday by a Good Samaritan in Malaysia, Tan Sri Robert Phang, who asked “Why are we quarrelling over God?”

In his New Year statement, Phang said: “Happy New Year! I am sure that all Malaysians wish and pray that this year 2014 would be a better year than last year.

But are our prayers in vain when we are so divided as a nation and we are so petty as to quarrel over God?

7 Jan 2014


7 January 2014
Justice of Peace
Chairman – Social Care Foundation

1. Happy New Year! I am sure that all Malaysians wish and pray that this year 2014 would be a better year than last year. But are our prayers in vain when we are so divided as a nation and we are so petty as to quarrel over God?

2. When we make prayers, we do so in the name of God by whatever name we call Him. We have done so without much problems in the past because to God belongs all things in heaven and on earth. We have done so since independence of Malaya and the founding of Malaysia. Our beloved Prime Minister teaches us to wave our finger to say 1 Malaysia and yet today we are like a nation tattered.

3. As an old man past 74 yrs who had seen our independence and formation of Malaysia, I am troubled by the fractious state that we are in today. Our leaders are so articulate, our government’s cabinet is filled with highly qualified people and yet all that they seem to be capable of is to shout out rhetorics. But these are just hallowed cries with no sincerity to resolve one simple thing that should bind us together – our love for God.

4. I was troubled when JAWI raided Borders Bookstore and charged a Muslim store manager for doing nothing more than selling books. I congratulated Nik Raina Nik Rashid for being brave enough to not yield to the oppression by JAWI. I congratulated Tan Sri Vincent Tan and his son Dato Robin Tan when they fought the Borders case and won. As testimony, Malaysians today hailed Nik Raina as one of 10 inspiring Malaysians. That is the power of the ordinary people – to discern from right and wrong. And yet what has become of our country’s leadership?

5. Why do our leaders encourage religious bigotry? Perhaps the Minister of Home Affairs has forgotten that High Court Judge Dato Zaleha Yusof had declared state religious laws as ultra vires when it goes against the Federal Constitution? Again Perhaps Minister of Home Affairs has forgotten that the same Judge had chided the Minister for abdicating his constitutional duties in not bringing law and order by clarifying the laws? What is the Attorney- General doing in keeping mum over these legal issues?

4 Jan 2014

Bible seizure: Sabah BN leaders must take a stand

KOTA KINABALU:  Sole STAR assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan today slammed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Joseph Kurup, for his “disappointing” response to the latest asault on Christianity.

Kurup is the MP for Pensiangan constituency in Sabah.

“It is rather foolish for a federal Minister from Sabah to urge the people to remain calm without himself stating clearly his stand and what he will do to resolve the growing menace against religious freedom.

“He is no different from a doctor telling his patient who is suffering and in pain to go home and rest and remain calm without doing anything. Of course, no such doctor will do such a foolish thing,” said Kitingan who is Bingkor elected representative.

Kitingan, who is also chairman of the NGO the United Borneo Front (UBF) and STAR, noted that Sarawak BN leaders had been braver and had taken a stand on the matter with the state’s Chief Minister Taib Mahmud stating that the religious bigotry of the peninsula had no place in Sarawak.

“Another senior Sarawak Minister has now stated there cannot be two sets of legal interpretation on the Allah issue when the Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of religion,” he added referring to Sarawak’s Land Development Minister James Masing.