Sunday, January 31, 2010

Malaysia will not be used as terrorist transit point

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will not allow itself to be used as a transit point for terrorists, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday.

He said the government would not hesitate to carry out stern and proactive actions to safeguard the country's safety.

"We must carry out pre-emptive measures, whether in the country or abroad, before any violence happens.

"If anything untoward happened in the country, it would paint a bad picture of Malaysia.

"And if anything happened outside our country, we might be accused of being a transit point for terrorists. This is also bad for our country's image," said Najib, who is also Umno president, after chairing the party's supreme council meeting.

He was asked to comment on the move by the police last week to arrest 10 men with links to international terrorist organisations.

The nine foreigners and a Malaysian were also believed to be linked to a Nigerian student who attempted to blow up a US-bound flight on Christmas Day.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had said that those detained posed a serious security threat to the country.

Najib said yesterday that as a responsible country to the international community, Malaysia must always ensure that there were no negative elements in the country.

"Malaysia is not a transit point for terrorists. Many people come to visit our country or use it as a transit point to another country. But that does not mean that we are a transit point for such activities.

"We will take action against those who make use of our country for that purpose."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Najib Visit to Batu Caves - Renewal of a Tradition neglected by Dr. M

I refer to the Malaysikini report Najib to make historic visit to Batu Caves.

The topic of the day that is creating positive waves among the Indian Malaysian community is the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's imminent visit to Batu Caves on the eve of Thaipusam later today which is an auspicious occasion for the Hindu community worldwide. This is where the heartbeat of the Malaysian Hindu community can be adequately captured.

In the year 1970, that is exactly four decades ago, when political upheavals were rife, the current premier's father Abdul Razak took the effort to be with the Hindu community to model and mould this culture of acceptance and understanding.

It was acclaimed and applauded even then. But for no apparent reason after Hussein Onn's visit in 1979, this practice was discontinued. But now precisely after 31 years, Najib Razak has decided to show the community in no uncertain terms that he is with them.

This gesticulation of the premier to be there at this propitious ceremony is to be commended and to be emulated by leaders at all levels. It is a timely gesture, especially at this time in Malaysian history when religious and racial insensitivities and intolerance are ubiquitous.

It goes a long way to show that the PM cares about what happens to the Indian community. It is extremely symbolic in promoting mutual religious appreciation and understanding. On the same note, it allays the fears and apprehensions of the younger generation and imbues new hope and faith.

But one man alone cannot make the difference. The effort of this leader has to be emulated by all the other leaders without the distinction of rank and file, race and religion and should be made a unique Malaysian way of life.

It should become a regular and unalterable feature of our life in a pluralist society and not a once in two or three decades kind of political activity when the political pressures are mounting high.

In this, Malaysians can become and should become trendsetters in making this harmonious multi- racial living a reality in every day life and in all rungs of the society.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Najib Wants to Quick-fix Anwar?

MANILA: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Friday accused his country's government of seeking to convict him quickly of sodomy as part of efforts to deflect attention against its own woes.

Anwar spoke out angrily after he lost his appeal for access to the government's evidence against him in the sodomy trial, which is due to start in Kuala Lumpur next week and could see him jailed for 20 years.

"I'm shocked with the (government's) impunity to go on with such a case despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary," Anwar told AFP on a short trip to the Philippines.

Anwar accused Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak of orchestrating efforts to have him convicted of sodomy, and said he feared the court could buckle under the pressure from the government.

Asked if he thought he would win the case, Anwar said: "Yes, assuming the court agrees... to look at facts and the law. I'm confident of the facts.

"(But) I'm not too confident of the system because I think Najib is quite directly involved."

Anwar said the court case may be over in a matter of weeks.

"It seems they want to rush it... their political masters want a quick conviction."

Anwar insisted the government was seeking to jail him on sodomy charges only to eliminate his political challenge, as Najib's ruling party was losing popularity amid corruption allegations and rising racial domestic tensions.

"I think Najib wants to deflect attention from the cases of corruption and the tensions that are brewing," he said.

Anwar is accused of having sexual relations with then 24-year-old Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who was an aide in his office.

The case runs the risk of repeating history for Anwar, who was sacked as deputy prime minister and jailed a decade ago on separate sodomy and corruption charges.

He spent six years in prison but the sex charge was eventually overturned.

After being released, Anwar reinvigorated the opposition and rallied it in 2008 to achieve its best ever results in national elections, when it won a third of parliamentary seats.

When asked about the prospect of people taking to the streets to express support for him, Anwar said mass protests against the government could occur if he was found guilty of sodomy again.

"I cannot preclude that possibility," he said.

In Kuala Lumpur, Anwar's lawyer said their legal team would seek a review of Friday's Federal Court ruling that barred them from having access to the prosecution's evidence against him.

"The court ruled that the evidence that we were seeking did not fall within the 'necessary and desirable' category and turned down the appeal," lawyer Sankara Nair told AFP.

"It has far-reaching negative implications in Malaysian criminal law as it is a reversal of earlier positions in law allowing greater disclosure by the prosecutors so the accused can prepare his defence effectively."

Sankara said he would seek a stay of the trial, which is due to begin on Tuesday, to give time for Anwar's legal team to push for an appeal to strike out the case completely.

Friday, January 22, 2010

By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak may have been basking in the limelight in Chennai after meeting the revered Tamil Nadu Chief Minister “Kalaignar” M. Karunanidhi yesterday, but the benefits for him are here at home, among voters from the Indian community, the vast majority of whom are Tamils.

The landmark visit to Tamil Nadu is a major change in the itineraries of Malaysian prime ministers in their official visits to India.

Najib is the first national leader to visit Chennai and shake hands with Karunanidhi, who is dubbed the Tamil Lion.

During their meeting, Karunanidhi extended a personal invitation to Najib to participate in the World Classical Tamil Conference, which will held in Coimbatore in June.

Meeting Karunanidhi is one of the most cherished ambition of Tamils the world over not just because of his political stamina but also for his command of the Tamil language, his poetry, his writings and his deep knowledge of Tamil literature and history.

Meeting the Tamil Lion face to face is a strategic move to win the hearts of the Tamils in the country, whose support he needs to stay in power in the next general election.

Barisan Nasional has determined that, besides its inherent support from Malay voters and others, it needs a five per cent swing among Indian voters to stay in power.

Najib has been wooing Indian voters in a focused and determined manner even though the BN’s traditional Indian partners — the MIC and PPP — are weakened by one leadership crisis after another.

“Even if the MIC and PPP fails to deliver, Najib believes he can carry the Indian voter on his own charisma and standing as a national leader,” a senior Barisan Nasional leader said.

Najib has been courting the Indian community directly — from offering RM1 billion in unit trust funds, to cash for Tamil school upgrading and ending other endemic woes like the issuance of birth certificates and identity cards.

The visit to Chennai and meeting Kalaignar (poet) is a small step in that direction… to touch base with the Tamils.

Najib can return and brag about it and milk the episode for its high symbolic value — as the first Malaysian prime minister to officially visit the Tamil state and personally meet the Tamil Lion.

Potentially, the Chennai visit can win for him favours from Tamils similar to what his father’s historic 1974 visit to China did for Tun Abdul Razak with the Chinese community — a strong emotional endorsement.

“It is quite a big bragging right… to meet the Kalaignar,” said MIC CWC member KP Samy. “His status among Tamils would be very much enhanced.”

Pakatan Rakyat leaders have also been trying hard to meet Karunanidhi for the same reasons Najib is meeting him — its symbolic value among Tamils in Malaysia and elsewhere.

But they have failed to meet him yet or invite him over to Malaysia.

Attempts are underway by PR’s Indian leaders to also invite Karunanidhi’s son MK Stalin or Vaiko, another popular Tamil politician, but these plans have yet to make it off the drawing board.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

PM woos Indian firms to invest in Msia

CHENNAI: Indian firms have been invited to play a key role in the development of human capital under Malaysia’s New Economic Model (NEM).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told India’s captains of industry at a roundtable meeting here on Friday that the NEM, to be launched within the first quarter of the year, would be based on innovation, creativity and high sources of growth.

He said the new model was aimed at shifting Malaysia’s reliance on manufacturing based on low and semi-skilled workers to one focused on high technology and a modern service sector with skilled and highly-paid workers.

“We need to move Malaysia from an upper middle-income economy to a high-income economy by 2020.

“For this to happen, we will increase investments in human capital development and build a strong foundation in research and development design and engineering, and commercialisation of research activities,” Najib said.

He added that the Government was rationalising all research funds and grants to be more effective.

“Indian companies focusing on research and development, and design and development, are welcome to explore and take advantage of the opportunities in these areas,” he said.

Najib added that Malaysia had always provided a cost-competitive environment for In­­dian investors.

He said the Government remained business-friendly, and had put in place the necessary infrastructure and administrative support to provide a conducive environment for both local and foreign investors.

“We continually review existing incentives and create new ones to attract private investments.

“The NEM focuses on enhancing private investment from domestic sources, and these companies are encouraged to collaborate with foreign investors strong in high-knowledge content industries,” he said.

Among the areas identified for further development were advanced electronics, information communication and technology (ICT), machinery and equipment, biotechnology, medical devices and renewable energy.

Najib said attractive incentives like pioneer status and investment tax allowances would be offered to companies investing in these areas.

He said India, the world’s leading provider of information technology services particularly in software and multimedia development, should explore opportunities for joint ventures or other forms of collaboration.

On ICT, he said, the Malaysian Government had put in place a number of initiatives to promote the sector, including granting Multi­media Super Corridor-status to qualified companies.

MSC-status firms enjoy incentives and benefits backed by the Bill of Guarantees.

Malaysia is now home to 1,953 MSC-status companies, out of which 401 or 20.5% were foreign-owned. Indian firms make up 13.7%.

Earlier, Najib witnessed the signing and exchanges of memorandums of understanding between 13 Malaysian and Indian companies.

Malaysian Probe Into Murder Cover-up Bribery May Fail Without PI witness

By Manirajan Ramasamy

Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said its probe into bribery accusations surrounding the murder of a Mongolian woman will fail unless it can contact the private investigator at the center of the allegations, who has been missing since 2008.

P. Balasubramaniam disappeared after holding a press conference in July 2008 to retract his allegation made a day earlier that Prime Minister Najib Razak had an affair with the victim. Najib, who was deputy premier at the time, said he had never met the woman and has denied any wrongdoing.

“Without him coming forward, we can’t continue the investigation,” Chief Commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today. “We are willing to meet him anywhere, even overseas, without any conditions. We need him to get in touch with us.”

The anti-corruption unit is probing allegations that bribes were paid to cover up the murder case, which was tried separately. The commission opened its probe after opposition politicians filed a report.

Two of Najib’s former police guards were sentenced to death in April for the 2006 murder of the Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, a lover of Najib’s former adviser, Abdul Razak Baginda. Abdul Razak was acquitted in 2008 of abetting the killing.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Church attacks a setback for Najib’s 1 Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia idea suffered a setback yesterday with attacks on three churches stemming from an escalating row over the “Allah” ruling as police stepped up security at Christian houses of worship around the country.

Politicians from both sides of the divide swiftly condemned the firebombings at two churches and an unsuccessful attempt at another in the Klang Valley. Police also dismissed rumours and fears of other church attacks or car-smashing in a tense Kuala Lumpur.

"In just nine months, Najib’s 1 Malaysia slogan is facing its most critical test as its very credibility is at stake," veteran opposition leader Lim Kit Siang said in his first reaction to the firebombings.

Najib's vision of 1 Malaysia is a concept aimed at uniting Malaysians through their common, shared experiences but it has faced internal opposition within the ruling coalition and has been scoffed as another empty slogan by the opposition.

Lim said the attacks went further than just hurting the concept and damaging race and religious relations in the mainly Muslim country.

"Malaysia also cannot afford further adverse international publicity over the ‘Allah’ controversy, which would only aggravate Malaysia’s declining international competitiveness if there is escalation of deplorable incidents by irresponsible and extremist elements like the spate of church attacks," the Ipoh Timur MP pointed out.

His allies in the Pakatan Rakyat opposition bloc laid the blame squarely on Najib's ruling Umno party and Barisan Nasional coalition which the prime minister angrily denied.

While condemning the attacks, Najib reacted sharply to opposition claims that Umno politicians may have exacerbated the situation.

“Don't point fingers at Umno or anyone else,” Najib told reporters. “We have always been very responsible. Don't say this attack is motivated by Umno.”

The attacks demonstrate the fragile nature of race and religious relations in Malaysia, a country of 27 million people with a 64 per cent Muslim majority. In contrast, only 9 per cent are Christians, including 800,000 Catholics.

From another standpoint, the attacks seem to have had a sobering effect on Muslims, many of whom had promised to organise mass demonstrations after Friday prayers. As it turned out, only three protests — mostly mild affairs — were held under watchful police scrutiny.

To their credit, the men in blue reacted swiftly. “Since last night, I have instructed all patrol cars to patrol all church areas,” Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan told Reuters. “We are monitoring all churches.”

He confirmed to reporters that only three churches were attacked in the wee hours yesterday morning — the Metro Tabernacle Church in Ampang, Assumption Church in Petaling Jaya and the Life Chapel, also in Petaling Jaya. Only the Assumption Church is Catholic.

The attack on the Metro Tabernacle Church gutted its administrative office while a Molotov cocktail tossed into the Life Chapel damaged its porch slightly. Meanwhile, the firebomb hurled at the Assumption Church failed to explode.

In addition, a priest at St Francis Xavier, a Catholic church in Petaling Jaya, lodged a police report over a caller threatening to torch the church.

Another pastor was reportedly manhandled by four men later in the night.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

PM and other leaders condemn arson attacks on 3 churches

PM, other leaders condemn arson attacks

PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has condemned the attacks made on three churches in the Klang Valley but has asked the public not to start pointing fingers at who may have been responsible for the attacks.

The Prime Minister said he viewed the matter seriously as these actions could jeapordise harmony, adding that the Government would take all possible action to prevent such incident from recurring.

At the same time, Najib had directed the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan to beef up security and surveillance at places of worship.

“We must not allow the peace and the understanding that we have among Malaysians of various ethnic backgrounds and faiths be threatened by anyone or any parties.

“As I have said before, whatever problems that arise, we must use the right channel and method to solve it. Our action must not be against the law as this can jeapordise harmony,” he told reporters after chairing the fourth Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) on Friday.

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Chief Secterary to the Government Tan Sri Sidek Hassan.

Najib angrily denies Umno raising tension in ‘Allah’ issue

Najib: Don’t point the fingers at Umno or anyone else.
By Neville Spykerman

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 8 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today strongly denied Umno should be blamed for raising the mercury in the “Allah” issue which climaxed with today’s attacks on three churches.

“Don’t point the fingers at Umno or anyone else. We have always been very responsible. Don’t say this attack is motivated by Umno,” said Najib, who was clearly unhappy when asked if politicians especially from Umno should be blamed for fanning the flames.

The Metro Tabernacle church in Kuala Lumpur was firebombed at midnight and Live Chapel in Section 17, Petaling Jaya was attacked with a Molotov cocktail, causing some damage.

Another Molotov cocktail failed to explode in the Church of Assumption in Petaling Jaya at 4am.

Police have tightened security at all churches nationwide while bracing for protests by Muslim groups against the Dec 31 High Court ruling allowing Catholic weekly Herald to use “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

Najib also disclosed that there have been two incidents and one threat reported thus far.

“I condemn the attacks and those responsible because this will destroy the harmony of the country,” the prime minister said.

He pointed out that the country's multiracial and multi-religious identity should not be threatened and the government will take all possible action to stop such attacks, adding he has directed Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to step up security around churches.

He urged the public not to take the law into their own hands and use the right channels to express their concerns.

Both Najib and Hishammuddin had over the past two days said that Muslims had a right to protest the “Allah” ruling within mosque compounds despite fears it might escalate tension in the country.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said top political party leaders should take a common stand to condemn the spate of church attacks in the wake of the “Allah” controversy and ensure that there is no further escalation.

"What many Malaysians had feared would happen and which the Prime Minister and Home Minister had discounted with their far-from-responsible stances — the exploitation of the ‘Allah’ controversy by irresponsible and extremist elements — have unfortunately come to pass," the Ipoh Timur MP said in a statement.

He said Najib "should immediately impress on Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to take all urgent and necessary measures to protect the good name of the country or be held responsible for any undesirable consequences".

"In just nine months, Najib’s 1 Malaysia slogan is facing its most critical test as its very credibility is at stake.

"Malaysia also cannot afford further adverse international publicity over the 'Allah' controversy, which would only aggravate Malaysia’s declining international competitiveness if there is escalation of deplorable incidents by irresponsible and extremist elements like the spate of church attacks," Lim added.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang condemned the “terrorising” fire bombings against the Metro Tabernacle Church and Church of Assumption.

Saying Islam allowed for freedom of worship, he said the actions went against its teachings and were committed by those who don’t understand their own religion.

“PAS members and supporters throughout the country and the people must always remember to be calm and not be influenced by the provocative actions of certain quarters,” Abdul Hadi said in a statement.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Najib Predicts A Brighter Malaysia in 2010

Malaysia Envisioned To Emerge Stronger In 2010 - Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hopes that with the various initiatives undertaken, Malaysia will emerge stronger with positive growth in 2010.

He also hopes that the government's fiscal deficit will be reduced from 7.4 per cent to 5.6 per cent next year.

"However, our long-term objective is not just to recover from the economic crisis, but what is more important is taking this opportunity to lay a strong foundation for the nation's prosperity in the future with continuous renewal," he said in his 2010 New Year message which was carried live on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) tonight.

Najib said it was imperative for its future prosperity that Malaysia uplift itself in the global economic value chain.

"Forging ahead means creating a knowledge-based economy driven by a high capacity for creativity, innovation and adding value."

Hence, he said, in 2010, the government would table two important initiatives. One is a long-term initiative through a new economic model, which will serve as a guide for the national development direction towards 2020 and the years beyond.

"The second is the short- and medium-term initiative in the 10th Malaysia Plan. Indeed, the success of these two initiatives requires the proactive role of every Malaysian.

"It is true that in facing the difficult moments posed by the economic challenges, we have achieved success not by co-incidence but by making wise choices.

"I believe that the key to our future success is not just our wealth in natural resources, but more importantly, our knowledgeable human capital imbued with a strong entrepreneurial spirit in generating new wealth for the nation," he said.

While wishing Malaysians 'Happy New year 2010', Najib urged everyone to move forward to achieve success together as "there are still many paths to travel and many challenges to face".

"What upholds the spirit, I believe, is because I am not alone. I know the people of this country are smart, talented and high-spirited.

"Together, we are fully optimistic of upholding Malaysia's good name," he said while hoping that 2010 would bring prosperity, security, good health and good fortune for Malaysia and its people.

Najib regarded 2009 as a time of extraordinary challenges, such as the global warming crisis which threatened the sustainability and well-being of the planet.

Besides that, he said, Malaysia also had to weather the global financial crisis, "which hit us at an unprecedented magnitude and scale, causing havoc to families and businesses in every corner of the world".

"Whatever the challenges and hurdles, with His blessings, we went through all these not by sitting back, but by standing strong, by taking action and making difficult decisions, while implementing various policies in a thoughtful manner."

He said that whether at the Asean or Apec level, and recently in Copenhagen, Malaysia had played its role aptly to place itself among the major players of global cooperation to achieve progress in the areas of trade and security and in addressing global warming.

"Although we have not fully recovered from the economic downturn, the signs indicate that Malaysia is moving out of the gloom and it recorded positive GDP growth from the fourth quarter of 2009.

"Our past records and achievements have given us confidence that Malaysia will not only recover from the economic crisis, but also have the potential of emerging stronger economically and more prosperous in the post-crisis era."

Najib said Malaysia had proven its resolve in situations like in the 1980s when commodity prices dropped sharply and during the Asian financial storm of the late 1990s, where Malaysia survived through its own recovery formula.

"We had also drawn up and implemented a roadmap towards building a stronger banking and financial sector for the country. As a result, this time, we were saved when many countries were hit hard by the economic crisis due to the failure of their banking and financial systems."

He said Malaysians must be courageous and firm in effecting change and renewal for continued prosperity, while their sacrifice was also required to raise productivity, competitiveness and mastery of new skills.

The prime minister said the effects of the global economic crisis had compelled the government to prioritise things to bring the country back to the optimal economic growth level.

"This we have done by undertaking concrete measures, such as the economic stimulus injection of RM67 billion, tabling of an additional budget, liberalisation of selected sectors, creating employment, providing comfortable homes, improving the public transport service and restructuring of subsidies."

He said that soon after taking over the helm of the government administration nine months ago, he introduced the 1Malaysia concept: People First, Performance Now, which was a priority under the present government.

"Although there are groups which try to sidetrack us or create confusion out of this noble initiative, I am confident and believe that the majority of Malaysians have begun to understand the philosophy behind the 1Malaysia concept.

"Our strength is built in the name of celebrating diversity and homogeneity regardless of whether we are old, young, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban or of other ethnicity. To ensure that the concept's goals are met, the role of the government should be transformed from that of a sole provider to the best facilitator," he said.

Najib said a brighter future for Malaysia depended on the combination and promotion of ideas, talents, initiatives and the spirit of Malaysians, regardless of their limitations and backgrounds.

"The contribution of every Malaysian citizen is vital in ensuring success. There is no Malaysian who is not important or is marginalised. The government welcomes every talent available. Isn't it a waste if a talent that is honed under the Malaysian sky is capitalised on for the prosperity of other nations?"

Under his administration, six National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) were set, which involve reducing crime rates, combating corruption, widening access to affordable and quality education, improving infrastructure in rural and remote areas, and upgrading public transportation.

"I wish to state that the NKRAs and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are not something exhaustive or complete, as the government welcomes the contribution of ideas and opinions from the people.

"I believe that with synthesis between the government and people, we will have vetted ideas to improve on what we have," he said.

Najib rejects royal commission to probe Dr M

Prime Minister Najib Razak said there was no need for a royal commission of inquiry to look into allegations hurled at former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the book ‘Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times’ authored by Barry Wain.

“There is always this call for a royal commission, everything you want royal commission, but (this) is not appropriate to call for a royal commission just because somebody has written a book.

“What is important for us is to look forward to the future. Each prime minister has made a lot of contribution, otherwise we wouldn’t be what we are today, Malaysia will not be a successful nation and regarded as a role model if all the PMs in the past had not made their contribution,” he said.

On Dec 21, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang in his blog had urged Najib to set up a royal commission to probe the allegations contained in the book, which among others had claimed that Mahathir had squandered up to RM100 billion during his 22 years as prime minister.

In an immediate response, Mahathir in his ‘Chedet’ blog welcomed the call for a royal inquiry and said he would cooperate fully with the commission.

Wain, who is the former managing editor of Asian Wall Street Journal, has estimated that Mahathir had squandered up to RM100 billion in his years as PM.