Malaysia-Singapore to build New Bridge; Causeway remains

SINGAPORE : Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to work together to improve the connectivity and ease of movement of people and goods on both sides of the Causeway.

The options include broadening the Causeway, and a new bridge to link the eastern part of Johor to Singapore is also being explored.

The prime ministers of both countries also want to move forward with implementing the Points of Agreement (POA) signed between Malaysia and Singapore almost two decades ago.

A ceremonial welcome awaited new Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the Istana where he was received by his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong.

Both leaders said they had a good discussion, first between themselves and when they were joined by their ministers.

One outcome of the talks is a study on a new physical link between both countries.

Mr Najib said: "The eastern side is less developed and there is huge potential there, and we both agreed we should look at it in the medium and long term. There is no hurry. Let us commission a proper study and look at the viability of that."

Mr Lee said: "Malaysia is developing Penggarang, Desaru, linking up - there is a bridge across the Johor River which is being built. So for the medium to long term, the needs should be considered, and perhaps we should consider a new bridge linking up eastwards to that part of Johor.

"We agreed that these were areas we should get together and study, and this is something the joint ministerial committee can look into."

The joint ministerial committee will also study the possibilities of developing a wellness centre and an integrated township within Iskandar Malaysia.

On the growing volume of traffic along the Causeway, both leaders agreed that facilitating movement with ease is important.

Mr Lee said: "I expressed my full support for enhancing the connectivity and the ease of movement on both sides. And I suggested there might be other alternatives like broadening the Causeway or improving a rail link between the two sides, maybe linking up the two rail transport systems so that we could make it easy for people to travel back and forth in large numbers."

Mr Najib said: "With respect to the Causeway, I told Prime Minister Hsien Loong that I would not want to go down the same road and end up with another problem or another disappointment. We should agree on what to do. We agree on the objectives and let us look at how we can achieve those objectives. There could be other ways of achieving the objective."

The two prime ministers also discussed the POA, which was signed between Malaysia and Singapore nearly 18 years ago. Both leaders agree that this matter has dragged on for too long, and so they have now asked the two foreign ministers to look into the the Points of Agreement and implement them.

The POA states that the KTM railway station would be moved either to Bukit Timah first, or directly to Woodlands. But Malaysia wanted variations of the POA after it was signed.

Mr Lee said: "They are not easy issues. Otherwise, they would have been solved before. But they need to be resolved, otherwise they would continue to potentially trouble our relationship for a long time to come.

"I think one of the difficulties has been over the years, the issues have taken on their practical significance, but... because they have been explained and argued over, debated and positions have been taken... it is difficult to have the flexibility in discussions which are pragmatic and forward looking."

Mr Najib said: "We should not wait for another 18 years to resolve this problem, so let us put our minds together and put this behind us and move forward in terms of our relationship. We both recognise that there is much more to gain from productive and cooperative arrangement, rather than allowing these things to hamper and dampen the relationship.

"The basic principle is to make sure it is in the classic win-win mood in terms of moving the relations. We do not have to quantify that we win exactly the same amount as Singapore wins, or Singapore wins exactly the same amount as we win.

"As long as generally speaking, we have been seen as benefiting from resolving these problems, if we can have this kind of spirit, I do not think the problems are so insurmountable. I am confident we can move ahead resolving these legacy issues."

Meanwhile, another positive outcome is that a new consular office will be set up in Johor to attend to the needs of Singaporeans there. - CNA/ms

Najib - The Most Shameless and Unscrupulous PM in Malaysian History

Do the honourable thing, Najib - By Tunku Aziz

MAY 15 — The last three months have seen a flurry of activity on the Perak political front. All of this was without any doubt occasioned by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s blatantly cynical, barefaced manipulation of human greed. Najib is no novice when it comes to money matters. He succeeded spectacularly in seducing the three most unremarkable and positively unpleasant Pakatan Rakyat characters to declare themselves independent supporters of the Barisan Nasional.

They have, as to be expected, denied most vehemently that they had succumbed to any such unworthy and degrading temptation as money. Conventional wisdom, on the other hand, says that Malaysian politicians will only transfer their party allegiance for cash, and not principle. I leave you to draw your own conclusion in this particular case.

Video of shameful swearing act by Najib.

Najib’s single act of subterfuge has been remarkable for the damage, and repercussions, to the Malaysian body politic, quite apart from damaging further his own already seriously bruised reputation. If he thought what he had done was an example of cutting edge political sophistication, I suggest he should think again. He has by his reckless adventure only succeeded in portraying himself as nothing more than a common garden variety, and not the statesman that we thought he would become given his father’s honoured place in our history and his family credentials.

In the event, he seems to me to be no better than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the roughneck street fighter. What a bad start for someone who begins his premiership on a discordant note, encumbered with enormous baggage to boot: any chance of redeeming himself has gone down the Sungai Perak, baggage and all. However, all is not lost. If he has any sense of self-worth, justice and integrity, he should take immediate steps to untangle the political mess he created. My father’s injunction to me as a very playful boy was, “Don’t start something you can’t finish.”

It is still relevant and appropriate advice, in my view, to give particularly to Najib who desires so devoutly to be loved and embraced as a people’s prime minister. He should practise what he is preaching so fervently about the importance of “feeling the pulse” of the people. If his close advisers are not telling him what really is going on in the towns and cities, big and small, as well as in the poor and neglected villages and hamlets up and down the country, then let me tell him some inconvenient truths about Perak that he might not particularly want to hear.

The people of Perak and, by extension, the overwhelming majority of the people of this country want to see an immediate end to the unseemly and totally disgraceful and disgusting display of political opportunism by the Umno-BN axis that has dragged the much-loved Sultan of Perak into political controversy that could have been avoided in the first place. His Royal Highness could have been spared the indignity of being reviled and ridiculed if Najib had thought more carefully about the fallout from his politically immature act.

As a responsible “people’s prime minister”, he has a duty to the people and the Sultan of Perak to return some semblance of order to their state which has since become the butt of some very unkind jokes. Najib does, of course, recognise that what the people want is for the state assembly to be dissolved so that fresh elections may be held. He is on record as admitting this as a way out of the current impasse, but claims that it is really up to the Sultan to decide.

We naturally respect his concern not to be seen to interfere with royal prerogatives. However, we wish he would stop playing poker and drop the hypocrisy because the reality is that he exercises considerable influence in matters of state, and he jolly well knows it.

The Perak crisis is pregnant with potential for mischief making, and you do not have to be the director of the Special Branch to know that unless something was put right quickly, the seething public anger could be exploited by enemies of the state to the detriment of our nascent democracy, peace and security. Najib must finish the dirty job he started by going back to the people. His Royal Highness the Sultan will not stand in the way of a just and popular solution. This is the only way to stop the rot that has already paralysed the government of Perak. Another day’s delay to dissolve the state assembly is another opportunity lost to return Perak to political sanity. Najib cannot just sit tight and look the other way hoping the crisis he fomented would just blow away.

The choice for the prime minister is a simple one: either elect to conduct himself like a common, opportunistic politician and face the dire consequences of his perfidious behaviour or a statesman who is concerned more with nation building on a lasting basis than opting for short-term political gains that may well turn out to be illusory. His 1 Malaysia, already riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies, will not amount to anything if the Perak crisis remains stuck in limbo. The ball is in his court.

Perak Debacle - Najib says Don't blame me

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — After more than four months, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak attempted today to put together a cogent case on why the power grab in Perak was justified.

He also moved to absolve the Sultan of Perak and himself from any blame for the defections from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and the installation of a Barisan Nasional (BN) mentri besar.

The Umno president was quoted by Bernama as saying the Sultan of Perak had adopted the principles and spirit of democracy when appointing the mentri besar from PR last year and also BN this year, and should not be blamed for the political crisis in Perak currently.

The prime minister said he too should not be blamed for purportedly causing the crisis which had dragged on for more than four months.

“In practicing our democracy, the people will choose their elected representatives and the Sultan will appoint the candidate from the party that has gained the majority as the mentri besar,” he said at a media conference with Malaysian journalists at the end of his two-day working visit to Manado, North Sulawesi in Indonesia to attend the Summit Meeting of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI).

Najib’s comments come as public sentiments seem to be against BN as the Perak crisis drags on.

This week, the Kuala Lumpur high court declared PR’s Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful MB, but the ruling was stayed following an appeal by BN’s Datuk Zambry Abd Kadir.

In recent days, Najib has been distancing himself from the problem in Perak. His ally Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also pointed out this week that he thinks it is a foregone conclusion that PR will win the state if fresh polls are called.

The coverage of the Perak crisis in local newspapers, especially those with close links to Umno, had also suggested BN was now distancing itself from the Perak palace.

Speaking today in Indonesia, Najib said the Sultan of Perak had adopted the same procedure when appointing Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir from the BN as the mentri besar just like he did when appointing Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin from PAS after the 2008 general election, Bernama reported.

According to the report, Najib said Sultan Azlan Shah had appointed Mohammad Nizar after obtaining the agreement of the majority of the State Assemblymen who had nominated him as mentri besar.

Najib said that after the opposition parties had lost the majority, the Sultan of Perak then appointed the candidate nominated by the BN after three opposition assemblymen had declared themselves as Independents and gave their support to Zambry as mentri besar.

“Don’t forget... don’t blame Tuanku. In the 2008 general election, the BN was the only party that had the majority in the State Assembly with 28 seats... the opposition pact is not registered and remains as three separate parties.

“At that time, if Tuanku had wanted to appoint Tan Sri Tajol Rosli Ghazali (the former mentri besar), he would have had the right because the BN was the only party that had the biggest majority.

“The Tuanku, in the spirit of democracy based on the resolution made by the elected representatives from the three opposition parties... (After) the Tuanku had received their written pledges, the Tuanku then appointed Nizar as the mentri besar,” Najib explained.

But now, the opposition had lost the majority in the state assembly and Sultan Azlan Shah had appointed Dr Zambry who was nominated by the BN using the same approach and based on legitimate principles without breaching the democratic system and constitution.

“This transpired according to procedures in line with the Perak State Constitution and parliamentary democracy.

“This must be explained and that’s why I say that the election is an option and discretion... not a must. The problem is that they (the opposition) do not accept this and hinder this (democratic) process as was done in the state assembly.

“Who asked for the suspension of the MB and BN Executive Councillors. This is against the spirit of parliamentary democracy. If that’s the case, we (BN) have the majority in Parliament...we can suspend 20 Opposition members of parliament if we want to. Using the same principles (as in the Perak State Assembly), we have the power...discretion, we can do what we like,” said the prime minister.

“(But) the Opposition disputed the appointment of Dr Zambry and challenged it in court. We too challenged in court when they suspended the state assemblymen. Is it reasonable that in a democratic system, when there is a majority, the Speaker suspends six assemblymen? If that’s the case, we too can suspend six assemblymen,” he said.

Commenting on party-hopping, Najib said this was allowed by law and had happened in other countries such as a former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill who had switched parties several times, and the latest was a senator in the United States who defected.

Najib pointed out that the BN did not seize power in Perak because the change in government was made according to regulations and the law, which, if accepted by everyone, would clearly show that the present BN government could administer Perak as it had received a sufficient majority.

“Don’t forget that on Sept 16 last year, who had wanted to steal 21 of our members of parliament. But when he failed, and we succeeded in Perak, we were then said to be undemocratic. We have been accused of seizing power.

“It was the opposition who first tried to seize power but without success... we (the BN) did not start it,” Najib stressed.

Court rules Nizar as legitimate MB - your say

From: Politikus
Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 07:42:08 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Mon, May 11 2009 10:42 pm
Subject: On Court rules Nizar as legitimate MB

(Formerly) confused: I am confused no more! The constitution is valid!
I pray that all is done right by the people this time ... To the

Perak Citizen: Congratulation to Nizar and his Pakatan team, and
thanks to lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah and team. The court has finally
declared Nizar as the legitimate Menteri Besar of Perak. The
legitimate Menteri Besar should have an audience with the Sultan of
Perak and dissolve the State Assembly immediately.

Baiyuensheng: I have a question now Nizar has been declared the
legitimate MB. Let's say if the present MB losses confidence of the
majority of the assembly but manage to cling on to power since he is
able to cohort with the Speaker who can reject motion of a vote of
confidence, what is the alternate recourse? I think there is a
similarity with the Terengganu state government. Anyway, thank
goodness the constitution is upheld.

Now that the court has ruled. Can the people take Zambry, the police,
state secretariat and the rest that have violated the constitution for
treason? Or, they have committed no crime?

CK: If the speaker refuses to accept a motion of no-confidence, I
suppose the opposition can invite the Sultan to the State Assembly
Hall to table the motion. We are all glad that the judiciary seems to
be no longer under the shadow of the 1988 judiciary crisis and it
proves that the judge can make his judgment without fear or favour.
Let's hope that the government's appeal to the upper courts will be

Selvadurai: With this ruling it should establish that the meeting
under the tree legitimate. This then means that all the resolutions
passed are also legitimate. Way to go Nizar Jamaluddin and company.
Please make sure all the civil servants who went out of the way to
thaw your rule are transferred to positions where they can not disrupt
the election process before the assembly is dissolved.

Najib: We will appeal against decision

KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 – The prime minister said that Barisan Nasional (BN) will appeal the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision declaring Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful mentri besar of Perak.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this evening that BN will file an appeal tomorrow.

“We are appealing against the decision. We hope for an early date for the appeal,” he told reporters after meeting Pemudah, the special taskforce established to simplify business dealings with the government. “We feel we have a strong case.”

The High Court had today also ordered Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir and his executive officers to vacate their offices, and the judge also rejected an appeal from Zambry for a stay of the declaration.

When asked by reporters if the state assembly should be dissolved and elections held, Najib replied that it was the Sultan of Perak’s decision to make.

He added that he has not made any arrangement to meet the Perak ruler.

However, Nizar is seeking an audience with the Perak Sultan to ask for consent to dissolve the state assembly.

When asked about moving a motion of no-confidence against Nizar instead of appealing the court decision, Najib replied that their first action will be to appeal.

Najib also asked Perakians to keep calm.

“Don’t get overexcited,” he said. “We will solve the problem.”

Several police Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) trucks have been observed pulling up at the Perak State Secretariat in Ipoh and state police chief Datuk Zulkefli Abdulah has warned the public not to gather near the secretariat complex to prevent any untoward incident.

Barisan loses Perak in the High Court

Court rules Nizar is Perak MB; BN to appeal

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional will appeal the High Court ruling on Monday that declared Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful Perak Mentri Besar, and not Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

The appeal would be filed on Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

In the meantime, he urged the people of Perak to remain calm while "the situation is resolved."

Pakatan Rakyat is however adamant that there is no "situation."

“This is a great day for the rakyat (people) because the Law and the Constitution are the true winners,” Nizar said in a statement.

“It is a historic day for all who love democracy and it will be remembered for years and years to come. Its positive effects for revitalising parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy is tremendous,” he said.

He said that everyone from both sides of the political divide would benefit from this ruling “because an independent judiciary is absolutely essential for the well-being of any country and its people.”

Nizar said that all previous decisions made by the Dr Zambry administration would be subject to review but not invalidated except for the tumultous May 7 sitting.

He also suspended the state legal adviser with immediate effect.

Nizar said that once he arrived in Ipoh, he would meet with his Pakatan exco at 11pm and a press conference could be expected after that.

Earlier, Zambry said he would apply for a stay pending appeal. This was immediately rejected by the court.

The court also ordered Zambry and the six executive councillors he had appointed to vacate their office.

An aide to Dr Zambry told the media that Perak Barisan Nasional will respect the court order and will vacate their offices at the state secretariat building immediately.

He added that Dr Zambry is on his way to Kuala Lumpur from Ipoh. Dr Zambry could not be reached for comment at press time.

Dr Zambry's private secretary Khairul Azwan Harun then asked the media to vacate the office, saying that their presence was "scaring off the staff."

By 5:30pm, several truckloads of Federal Reserve Unit personnel and police had arrived at the state secretariat building in Ipoh.

“Our presence is to maintain law and order,” said Perak CPO Deputy Comm Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah.

“We will not allow any illegal assembly or procession by either party,” he said.

Nizar left the KL courtroom saying he would seek an audience with the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, to get his consent to dissolve the Assembly and call for fresh state elections.

He would make his request for the audience at a state function at the Istana Kuala Kangsar Tuesday morning.

In his ruling Monday, Justice Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim said that a new mentri besar could not be appointed as the office had not been vacated.

He said a mentri besar can only be dismissed by a vote of no confidence, and upheld the Stephen Kalong Ningkan ruling.

He noted that the Perak State Legislative Assembly had not held a vote of no confidence.

In 1966, Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan was ousted when the state governor showed him a letter of no confidence issued by 21 out of 42 legislators and asked Ningkan to resign.

Ningkan refused, saying the letters were not tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the state legislative assembly. He was sacked by the governor but eventually reinstated by the Borneo High Court, which saw the necessity of a formal vote of no confidence.

Mixed reactions (no, really!)
Not all Barisan reps were ready to accept the court’s ruling. Perak senior executive councillor Datuk Hamidah Osman said in a democracy, the majority rules.

“How can Pakatan Rakyat rule without having a majority?” she said in IPOH. “Why should the State Assembly be dissolved?”

Perak DAP deputy chairman M. Kulasegaran said the KL High Court’s decision confirmed that the appointment of Dr Zambry as mentri besar was unconstitutional.

Kulasegaran, who is also Ipoh Barat MP, said the Perak State Assembly should now be dissolved and fresh elections be called.

“All this while during the political impasse, the people ended up being the biggest losing party.

“Investors are shying away from the state due to the uncertainty,” he added.

In KOTA BARU, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said the court’s decision had “revived democracy in Perak that has been in a ‘coma’ for the past three months.”

In GEORGE TOWN, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng described the High Court’s decision “a glorious victory” for the people of Perak.

He said the DAP reiterates its call for the dissolution of the state assembly and the holding of fresh elections to allow the people to choose their own government.

“The verdict clearly shows that Mohammad Nizar and his state executive councillors are the rightful leaders of the state government,” he said.

Earlier, he had said that the Opposition was willing to work with anyone to resolve the crisis in Perak.

“The crisis has caused shame not only to the people of Perak but also the entire country. What is more shameful is that the police forcibly took over the state assembly.

“I think we should respect the power that emanates from the ballot box,” he said.

Perak crisis
The political impasse in Perak goes back more than three months when three assemblymen from Pakatan quit their parties, saying that they would remain independent but pledging their loyalty to Barisan.

While the state assembly was evenly divided between Pakatan and Barisan with 28 seats each, the "pledge of loyalty" was sufficient to convince the Sultan of Perak that Barisan commanded the majority.

He refused Nizar's request for the Assembly to be dissolved and for fresh state elections to be called, instead asking the PAS man to step down as mentri besar.

Nizar declined, claiming he still retained the confidence of the Assembly.

The Sultan however gave his blessings to Barisan's choice of mentri besar, Dr Zambry.

Nizar filed for a judicial review on Feb 13, seeking a declaration that he is the rightful mentri besar of Perak and asked for an injunction to bar Dr Zambry from discharging his duties as the mentri besar.

On March 6, Justice Lau Bee Lan had ruled that there were constitutional issues involving the interpretation of Article 16 (6) of the Perak Constitution and later referred four consitutional questions to the Federal Court for determination.

However, on March 23, the Federal Court ruled that the case of who the rightful mentri besar is should be heard by the High Court.

Nizar’s lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah, in wrapping up his submissions last week, said the Constitution was the “genius of the Malaysian people”, adding that the court had a duty to uphold it. Over the last few days, he had submitted that the Sultan, while granted powers in the Perak Constitution to appoint a mentri besar, could not dismiss him.

The only way Nizar could be dismissed, he said, was through a vote of no-confidence in the House.

He also said that a mentri besar could request for the State Assembly to be dissolved in the middle of a term without losing the confidence of the majority of the House.

Dr Zambry’s lawyer Datuk Cecil Abraham, however, argued that Nizar went by Article 16(6) of the Perak Constitution when he sought an audience with the Sultan – this article specifically provides for the mentri besar to request for a dissolution when he has lost the confidence of the majority in the House.

Under the article, Nizar is required to tender the resignation of his executive councillors when his request was rejected, he said.

Najib wants a new economic model for Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today the government will introduce a new economic model to ensure the country makes a “quantum leap” to become a high-income country.

Addressing a Labour Day rally, the prime minister said the economic model would emphasise innovation, creativity and productivity.

The government’s Economic Council has been given the job of formulating the new model.

“The new economic model is something that we are working for. When the economic council was established, consisting of economy experts including those from abroad, we gave a job scope to the council to recommend one new economic model for our country.

“We also wanted to see how we can move the economy forward from a high middle income to a high income country,” he said.

One of the ways to move the country forward, he said, was to increase the productivity of the workforce through innovation and creativity.

“If we stress on innovation and creativity, we will be able to ensure the standard the production is higher, not only in terms of numbers, but also the quality of the products. When we have reached that stage then we can increase the income of the workforce,” he told reporters.

Najib said his administration would be emphasising the new economic model so that the country could attain a higher level of competitiveness.

The prime minister added that the government would be introducing a retrenchment fund to cushion the effects of the global recession as well as review the Employees Provident Fund.

“I feel that a retirement scheme needs to be considered because a study conducted by EPF shows that 70 per cent of the members finish their funds between three and 10 years.

“We know that the age expectancy in Malaysia has risen from 50 to 55 years before independence to 73 years now. In this regard, the retirement scheme, if introduced, will give security in their old age,” he added.

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani