Thursday, June 18, 2009

Unity talks: DAP says no, PKR to wait and see

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP chairman Karpal Singh said his party has no intention to join in any “unity talks” with Umno, while his Pakatan Rakyat partner PKR has adopted a “wait and see” attitude.

Karpal called for PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa to withdraw from the unity talks.

He said if Nasharuddin continued to insist on talks with Umno, he should quit PAS.

“DAP has no intention to join the unity talks. Hadi should scrap the idea.

“(PAS spiritual adviser) Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat spoke with wisdom,” he told reporters in the Parliament lobby here Thursday, referring to Nik Aziz’s outburst Wednesday in which he said Nasharuddin should quit the Islamist party if he persisted with such talks.

Karpal said PAS was once with the Barisan Nasional coalition back in the 1970s.

“The party never learns its lesson,” he said.

PKR’s Saifuddin Nasution and R. Sivarasa however that they would wait until Monday for a full Pakatan Rakyat presidential council meeting, in which Hadi Awang is expected to brief the alliance on the unity talks, before commenting.

PKR adviser and Pakatan leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is expected to meet with Nijk Aziz in Kota Baru this Sunday to discuss the issue, they added.

Meanwhile in KOTA BARU, Nik Aziz said he would be calling for a meeting soon with all pro-unity talks leaders in his party, including Hadi Awang and Nasharuddin, to resolve the issue, reports SYED AZHAR.

65yr-old grandpa among 47 busted for drug abuse

ALOR SETAR: A 65-year-old grandfather was among 39 fishermen who were arrested by police after testing positive for drugs, while another eight were nabbed for related offences.

They were arrested at two fishing jetties between 4am and 10am Thursday.

Kota Star OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Ghafar Rajab said 40 policemen were involved in the operation.

The 39 tested positive for drugs including heroin, morphine and ketamine, he told a press conference here Thursday.

ACP Abdul Ghafar said that the two of the men were Thai nationals with valid travelling documents.

He said police recovered a stolen motorcycle and drug paraphernalia, but did not find any drugs on them.

“The two jetties were among three spots that we have identified as being frequently used by drug addicts and we will continue to monitor these areas to curb drug abuse among fishermen,” he said.

He said that the men would be remanded for further investigation

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Unity talks only if PKR and DAP included: Mustapha

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS will hold talks on the “unity government” with Umno only if DAP and PKR are included in the process, PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali said.

He said PAS would not leave its Pakatan Rakyat allies behind as it was un-Islamic to break a promise.

“If the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) wants to hold talks on government unity with PAS, he must include DAP and PKR.

“Otherwise, there will be no talks,’’ he told a press conference on Wednesday.

Asked if the alliance with PKR and DAP would ever be reviewed, Mustafa said in politics there was no “permanent seal.”

However, PAS was prepared to hold talks with Umno on certain issues of national interest, he added.

“Even back in 1989 and 1990 during the era of Tun Dr Mahathir, PAS held talks with the Barisan Nasional on issues of national interest,’’ he said.

He was responding to Najib’s statement on Tuesday that he was open to unity talks with PAS and that he believed the Islamist party was sincere in its desire for such talks.

The “unity government” issue was brought up at the recent PAS muktamar (annual general assembly) by party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, to the chagrin of many party members as well as PAS’ allies DAP and PKR.

Others however, such as PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa, supported the move.

Join Umno
In KOTA BARU, PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat told Nasharuddin to quit the party and join Umno if he was so interested in unity with the Barisan Nasional party.

He should also relinquish his seat as Bachok Member of Parliament, where he was elected under the PAS ticket in last March’s general election, Nik Aziz said.

“He is causing a lot of problems in PAS with all this rubbish talk about the unity government with Umno.

“It has never been on the agenda for PAS nor Pakatan Rakyat, and this is just his personal opinion and not a stand of the party,” he told reporters after chairing the weekly state executive committee meeting at Kota Darul Naim Wedsnesday.

Reiterating his allegations that those in PAS behind the unity talks were merely “puppets of Umno,” he described what Nasharuddin was doing as “immoral.”

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Hadi Awang remained committed to the Pakatan Rakyat alliance and would fully explain his talks on the unity government with Umno at the upcoming Pakatan meeting next Monday.

The lack of unity on the Pakatan front has Barisan treading gently. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that there has to be a united stand from all three Pakatan parties before Barisan can respond to talks on the unity government.

"The Barisan stand is clear, but they keep moving the goalposts," he said.

Haze: Air quality gets worse

PETALING JAYA: The air quality in the country deteriorated slightly on Wednesday, with only 23 areas posting good Air Pollutant Index (API) readings of between zero and 50 as at 5pm.

This is compared with 31 such areas on Tuesday.

Some 26 areas had moderate air quality reading of between 51 and 100 while Tanjung Malim was declared unhealthy (between 101 and 200) with an API reading of 116.

The area with the best air quality Wednesday was Limbang with a reading of 19.

A total 41 hotspots were recorded in Sumatra while 74 were found in Borneo.

Most parts of the country recorded visibility readings of above 10km while Sandakan had the lowest at 4km at 8pm Wednesday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Several Pakatan MPs ordered to leave Dewan Rakyat

KUALA LUMPUR : Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin (PAS) was kicked out of the Dewan Rakyat minutes after he took his oath as the new MP for Bukit Gantang.

Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia ordered him out as he was the person who started putting on black headgear bearing the words " bubar DUN" (Dissolve state assembly).

Several other opposition Pakatan Rakyats MPs followed suit by donning the headgear. Visitors at the public gallery, believed to be Nizar's supporters, also put on the headgear amidst shouts of "Bubar, bubar” while the Backbenchers shouted "Keluar, keluar ......"

Nizar, after his oath taking, put on the black headgear and shouted "Hidup rakyat, bubar dewan!" raising his left arm.

Pandikar ordered Nizar to remove his headgear. Nizar obliged but Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham (DAP - Beruas) and Nga Kor Ming (DAP - Taiping) who stood up and refused to remove their headgear, were ordered out by Pandikar. When both Ngeh and Nga left the House, Pandikar also ordered Nizar out as he had started it.

This was followed by Datuk Mahfuz Omar (PAS - Pokok Sena), N. Gobalakrishnan (PKR - Padang Serai) and Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (PAS - Kuala Selangor ) leaving the dewan as well.

Shouts of “samseng, keluar” were heard amidst shouts of “bubar.”

“This is not a market place Please sit down, don't join him,” said Pandikar.

"This is how children argue in the streets. We have many issues to discuss for the rakyats' interests,'' he said.

The fracas took up 25 minutes before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak could stand up to answer Question 1 on 1Malaysia.

All in all, seven Pakatan MPs have been suspended for two days, DAP's Lim Kit Siang said in Twitter.

Ngeh returned inside the House when Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein answered about the Perak state assembly, which was after Najib's reply.

Pandikar spotted Ngeh and ordered him out again, saying : " If I have not told you how long the suspension is, now I am telling you that it is two days under Standing Order 42."

Later when approached by reporters, Pandikar said headgear was not allowed in the House and not part of the attire.

MPs must wear proper attire to attend a sitting inside the house.

"They (the MPs) were ordered out because they refused to heed the Speaker's order. They were shouting. Headgear is not part of the proper attire."

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PKR - Permatang Pauh) said Pakatan Rakyat would be writing to Pandikar to reconsider the decision to evict Nizar and other Opposition MPs earlier Monday.

In a press conference at lobby, he said Parliament had too many rulings that restricted MPs from performing their tasks and that it was the right of MPs to voice their stance.

"The right of MP to wear marks of protest or support is allowed in any parliament around the world.

"If they can't show protest in parliament, where else could they show it? They will be restricted to gaining public support by going to the streets," he said.

He said Parliament did not allow the latitude required for MPs to perform their tasks.

"You don't expect us to take what happened in Perak as irrelevant to the proceedings of this parliament and outside its purview,'' he said

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Zaid has joined PKR, says Anwar

KAJANG: Former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who made the announcement during the party’s special convention to amend the party constitution, said Zaid’s inclusion will boost PKR’s agenda to promote democracy and freedom of expression.

He added that Zaid was known to be vocal against the Government’s arbitrary use of the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Zaid had resigned from the Government last year due to dissatisfaction over the use of the ISA on a reporter, a web portal editor, and a Selangor state executive council member.

In welcoming Zaid on Saturday, Anwar commended him for his bravery in fighting for human rights, democratic principles and for the independence and reform of the judiciary.

“Zaid’s close friendship with colleagues from PKR, DAP and PAS will help strengthen the inter-party relations in the Pakatan Rakyat.

“His role in PKR will be formalised by the leadership later. Due to his experience Zaid may be given a seat in the supreme council and head the political bureau,” he told reporters.

Zaid said he had decided to join PKR and not the DAP or PAS as his political ideals were similar to PKR which he described as a multiracial party that fights for the rights of Malaysians.

“I choose this day to join because this is also a historical day for PKR (to amend its constitution). I’m offering my services as I also have friends in Pakatan Rakyat component parties, and I know Anwar is a good man,” he added.

Zaid resigned from the Government in September last year in protest after he criticised the arrests of DAP MP Teresa Kok, online portal editor Raja Petra Kamarudin, and Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng under the ISA.

The former Kota Baru MP was also seen mingling with Pakatan leaders at their functions before he was sacked from Umno in December last year.

DOE reports healthier and clearer skies

PETALING JAYA: Air quality in the country shows a general improvement as rain brought a brief respite from the haze.

Although satellite pictures showed an increase in hotspots in Sumatra from 49 to 86, API readings from the Department of Environment showed an improvement in air quality.

On Friday, there were three areas in the Klang Valley that had unhealthy air quality levels but this was reduced to zero on Saturday.

The highest API reading was recorded in Port Klang (89) as at 5pm. Port Klang had an API reading of 136 on Friday.

Overall, 24 areas recorded good air quality (API 0-50) while 25 areas recorded moderate air quality readings (API 51-100).

As for visibility, most parts of the country recorded readings of 10km and beyond.

Subang had the lowest visibility level at 6km.

Bernama reported the API report released by the DOE on its webpage as at 11am showing no area reaching the unhealthy API level.

The readings for Cheras, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam were at 83, 81 and 81 respectively.

Of the 48 locations monitored, 24 showed good API readings, including Langkawi (29), Kangar (23) and USM, Penang (30).

Allow Chin Peng to come home, says Anwar

KAJANG: Despite strong objections from various quarters on the return of former Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leader Chin Peng to Malaysia, PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim supported the move.

He said Chin Peng should be forgiven and allowed to return to Malaysia on humanitarian grounds.

Anwar added that the Government was being inconsistent in allowing former PKM Malay leaders such as Shamsiah Fakeh and Rashid Maidin to return.

“We stress that we oppose the militant actions of the communist terrorists on Malaysians and we are not supporting communist ideology.

“If Shamsiah Fakeh and Rashid Maidin can be allowed to return, why not Chin Peng. “If we are friends with China, which is a communist state, why is it we cannot have peace with Chin Peng?

“Is it because he is a Chinese that he should not return, while the others who are Malays can?,” he told reporters during the party’s special convention to amend the party’s constitution here Saturday.

Anwar said Indonesia, which is a Muslim country had already rehabilitated its communists who were involved in atrocities against its people.

He added that when Prophet Muhammad entered Mecca, he decided to forgive the infidel Quraish tribe who had fought and killed Muslims.

The Government should also do the same in Chin Peng’s case, he said, adding that he believed the mainstream media will manipulate his comments, by accusing PKR of acting as a “fifth column” for CPM.

On another matter, Anwar said the Pakatan Rakyat will not form a unity government with Umno but was prepared to meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to discuss several issues including the political impasse in Perak but on several conditions.

“Such talks can be held if the Government agrees to stop its cruelty against the people, and reform the judiciary, the Election Commission and other important institutions. “This idea is also supported by PAS,” he added.

On the meetings by Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew with the Malaysian Government and opposition leaders, Anwar said it can strengthen relations and the understanding between both countries

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hotter and drier days ahead with El Nino

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians can expect hotter and drier days till September as an El Nino phenomenon is forming.

While the real extent of the El Nino impact could only be gauged sometime in August, more open burning was expected to contribute to more haze, the Meterological Department said in a report.

Malaysia experiences a hot and dry season in the months of June, July and August and temperatures range between 33C to 34C.

It is understood that temperatures could soar another 3C during El Nino.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) satellite report had identified 125 hot spots in the country since May 25 to June 7.

“The ministry has taken a pro-active measure by reviving the committee which monitors hot spots.

A national haze main committee meeting was held in February and June 8 and local government agencies have been ordered to be on a stand-by for any eventuality,” he said after launching the ‘Genting Goes Green’ at First World Plaza, Genting Highlands Resort Tuesday.

In a further preventive measure, the ministry has continued to increase its monitoring on the situation via daily aerial surveillance with co-operation from the police air unit and private airline companies, said Douglas.

“Emphasis is given to areas that are prone to fires such as Selangor, Pahang and Johor, especially peat swamps and garbage landfills.

“We have also roped in commercial airlines such as Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia to help report open burning cases that they spot while up in the air,” he said.

The ASMC report also showed that there is an increase of hot spots in Sumatera and Kalimantan, Indonesia, totalling to 996 and 108 hotspots.

Douglas added that the country’s Air Pollution Index (API) has slightly deteriorated and now stands at 51 to 100, which is moderate.

“This has caused it to be slightly hazy. This hazy situation happened because of a stable atmosphere with a high humidity level of above 85%.

“This leads to air pollutants such as dust and emissions from vehicles and industries to collect and continue increasing in the air space, thus causing poor visibility,” he said.

According to a Meterological Department report on June 8, visibility at certain areas in Prai, Bayang Lepas, Subang, Petaling Jaya, Malacca and Kuantan has deteriorate to between 6km to 9km

Monday, June 8, 2009

Shahrizat defends Sisters in Islam

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has come to the defence of Sisters In Islam (SIS), which PAS wants banned if its activities were against the religion, saying the Islamist party should learn to accept differing views.

The Women, Family and Community Development Minister said if PAS could not even accommodate the differing views of some Muslim women activists, “how can they tolerate the dissenting non-Muslim voices?”

Although the ministry did not always see eye-to-eye with any non-governmental organisations or individuals on certain matters, it had never called for any punishment against them, she said in a press statement Monday.

PAS adopted a motion on Sunday at its 55th muktamar, urging the National Fatwa Council to declare SIS haram if its activities were found to be contrary to the Islamic teachings and principles.

The party alleged that the group’s activities were “dangerous” as it could cause confusion among the Muslims.

The motion also urged the council to introduce special programmes to rehabilitate the group’s members so that they could come back to the “right religious track”.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat and DAP - PAS’ partners in the Pakatan Rakyat - are also disturbed by the motion.

PKR voiced its disagreement, particularly with the call for SIS members to be rehabilitated.

“Freedom of speech and association are cherished principles under a modern and democratic state. Differing and dissenting views (and association) are not only allowed but should be protected as these are the essence of a democratic and fair society,” said its vice president Mustaffa Kamil Ayub.

He said the correct way was to engage and debate with any organisation in a mature and civilised manner rather than seeking to ban it and punish its members.

DAP lambasted PAS over the motion, saying that it wanted the Islamist party to hold on the principle of democracy and freedom of speech of which the two parties has agreed upon.

Its Women National Secretary Teresa Kok said such a ban would be against human rights, adding that SIS was free to express its opinion.

“To ban or declare it haram means an iron fist way of doing things that should not be allowed to be turned into a culture,” she said in a statement.

Malaysian Bar president Ragunath Kesavan expressed alarm over the motion, also saying dialogue and debate should be the way and not silencing differing views.

“We call on PAS to move away from the typical Malaysian political approach of imposing a ban merely because of disagreement over differing viewpoints,” he said.

Wanita Gerakan secretary general Jayanthi Devi Balaguru said such a motion was a glaring reminder that the state of women’s affairs in Malaysia was still in its infancy.

She expressed disappointment that in this case, religion had apparently been used to divide and coerce.

Meanwhile, Selangor Islamic Religious Affairs Department (Jais) director-general Datuk Muhammed Khusrin Munawi was supportive of PAS’ call, noting that the group was too liberal when it came to issues relating to Islamic family law.

He said most of SIS members were not qualified to comment on Islam as they did not have an Islamic studies background.

Selangor Mufti Datuk Mohd Tamyes Abd Wahid agreed, saying SIS’ activities and efforts were contradictory to Islamic teachings

Kamarudin: Decision to retire made before Muktamar

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar, who relinquished his PAS secretary-general post immediately after the party’s Muktamar, is not seeking reappointment.

Kamarudin said that even if the party leadership wanted to retain him in the post, he would have to decline.

“I need to spend more time with my family. My wife is not well,’’ he said Monday.

Kamarudin, however, said that he would remain as central working committee member as he was elected to the post by the delegates.

He also denied talk that he was stepping down because his close ally Datuk Husam Musa had lost in the race for the deputy presidency.

“My decision to retire was made even before the Muktamar. The outcome of the party elections has no bearing on my decision,’’ he said.

Kamarudin, 58, said party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang would be appointing a new secretary-general and other office-bearers soon.

He said major changes was likely in the new line-up of office-bearers and that he was “confident the party has enough capable leaders to be appointed to the posts.”

Kamarudin, who is also Tumpat MP, served as PAS secretary-general for two terms from 2005. PAS holds elections biennially