Posted by Unknown | Posted on 7:23 PG
- When it involves security, BN is ‘Bush’ Nasional
- Najib’s Peace Overtures
- Najib may sign TPPA when Obama visits: Don’t make M’sia a LACKEY of the US – Anwar warns
- Anwar: We’ve yet to exhaust legal avenues on GE results
- Keputusan mahkamah kes petisyen pilihan raya jelik dan mengaibkan, kata Anwar
- PKR says trade pact lopsided, tells government not to rush into it
- [PRESS STATEMENT] TPPA Is Not In Our National Interest
- Scorpene deal ‘broker’ out to polish PM’s image?
Posted: 12 Aug 2013 02:13 AM PDT
The Barisan Nasional government has the same mentality as former US president George W Bush when it comes to dealing with security problems, said opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today.
He said that the government seemed unable to think beyond harsher laws when it comes to dealing with escalating crime rates.
“This is exactly the Bush thinking. And this has affected a lot of innocent people,” he told a press conference at the PKR headquarters.
Anwar (left in photo) was responding to Home Minister Zahid Hamidi's claim that some 260,000 criminals are now roaming free in the country due to the absence of the Emergency Ordinance (EO).
Zahid has been arguing for a new preventive detention law to replace the EO, and Anwar said that the approach has become "obsolete".
"You kill someone, you get the death penalty. You smuggle drugs, you get the death penalty. What more harsher laws do you want? Now they want to detain people without trial," Anwar asked.
"They say it's preventive. When it's someone else's child then it's okay. What if it's your own child?" Anwar said.
"Every time there is a problem, they want to enforce harsher laws."
He said that shootings and killings are a long-standing problem that had existed even during the times of the EO and the Internal Security Act (ISA).
"This has always been there," he said.
Posted: 12 Aug 2013 01:57 AM PDT
Anwar confirms Malaysian PM’s feelers for a unity government
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, beset on his right flank by an implacable former Premier Mahathir Mohamad critical of his performance in the May 5 general election, has been making quiet overtures to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to explore the outlines of a unity government.
The overtures, made through former Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, are a long, long shot at best. However, they have included three visits by Kalla to Kuala Lumpur, the latest in mid-July. Kalla earlier this year acted as an intermediary between Anwar and Najib at Anwar’s initiative to seek to broker a commitment for a peaceful result in the May 5 general election.
Kalla, now a businessman and head of the Indonesian Red Cross Society, has emerged as a major Southeast Asian peacemaker, brokering peace agreements in various conflicts across Indonesia during his time as vice-president from 2004 to 2009; he also played a role in attempts to settle conflicts in Thailand and Sri Lanka.
While the pre-electoral contacts were made public in mid-May, with Kalla accusing Anwar of breaking a written agreement to accept the outcome of the election, the contacts have continued, according to sources in Kuala Lumpur.
Anwar confirmed the new contacts, saying they had been initiated by Najib, who emerged from the election severely weakened within the United Malays National Organization, the country’s largest ethnic political party, which he heads. The overtures were made via Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Home Minister in Najib’s cabinet, a source told Asia Sentinel. Ahmad and Anwar were friends before Mahathir fired Anwar as finance minister and had him arrested and jailed in 1999.
It is unsure if the contacts will go anywhere. They would require the three components of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat all to sign off. The idea of reaching out to the opposition, particularly Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat, is likely to drive Mahathir into a fury and energize whatever followers the septuagenarian former leader still has in UMNO.
Anwar, in an interview, said he had sent word through intermediaries that the incendiary racist attacks by the UMNO-owned broadsheet Utusan Malaysia on the Chinese and Indian communities would have to stop, and that the racial temperature in the country would have to cool before any progress could be made.
“I said the fundamental issues must be addressed, ending the racial stuff, there has to be a clear understanding and commitment to reform and change,” Anwar said. “I made it clear that discussions must deal with this first and that the racial rhetoric must not escalate. The UMNO president has always had a direct say in running Utusan.”
He said so far no answer has been forthcoming.
Presumably the Najib gambit opens another front against Mahathir, who has been allowing surrogate bloggers to attack the wounded prime minister ever since the election, in addition to delivering his own blistering attacks on Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese, who make up about 25 percent of the population, making allegations that they are trying to take over the country politically as well as economically.
The Barisan Nasional, the ruling national coalition, lost the popular vote in the May election for the first time since 1969, with Anwar’s three-party Pakatan Rakyat coalition winning 50.87 percent of the vote against 47.38 for the Barisan, which nonetheless preserved its majority in the parliament, winning 133 seats to 89 for the opposition, largely the result of pro-Barisan gerrymandering.
Since the election, Mahathir and former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin have kept up an unrelenting barrage of criticism against Najib, saying he had miscalculated by reaching out to minority communities instead of playing to his ethnic Malay base.
Najib himself has gone silent, to the consternation of not just his allies within UMNO, but of people in the broader community. Ambiga Sreenevesan, the former head of the Bar Council and leader of Bersih, an electoral reform NGO, said the country needs the prime minister to speak out on the rising number of contract murders and the strident racial rhetoric being practiced by Malay nationalists. Najib is on a six-day holiday in Phuket.
Najib’s next test is the UMNO annual general assembly, scheduled for later this year. For the first time, as a result of reforms instituted by Najib, all 160,000 UMNO delegates are to vote on the party’s leaders instead of the 2,500 leaders of the 191 divisions. The widened electoral contest is likely to be less controllable than the previous brokered assembly.
Although no real rival has emerged against Najib, he appears to be in the same position as his predecessor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who in the 2008 election lost the two-thirds majority the Barisan had held since independence in 1958. Although Abdullah Badawi was his anointed choice as prime minister, Mahathir, who ruled the country for 22 years, later played a major role in driving him from power.
Najib’s main potential rival is Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, an ally of Mahathir’s, who has repeatedly denied any intention of taking on Najib in the UMNO election.
Sources close to the Mahathir wing of the party say instead that Najib is likely to stay on as a lame duck premier.
“Can Najib take charge?” asked one of the sources. “The elections didn’t go well for him personally. He lost the popular vote and lost the respect of UMNO members. UMNO is now in charge. Everybody is telling Najib to go fly a kite. He ran a US Presidential style campaign, attempting to appeal to all the people, and he lost. It hit him right in the gonads.”
Interestingly, a new factor has emerged, with a new book of articles about Abdullah Badawi, in which the former prime minister himself answered back in an interview at the seven years of criticism on the part of Mahathir over his tenure.
Mahathir, he said, had thwarted all attempts at reform and turned on him when he sought to cut back on the grandiose projects Mahathir had put in place before they nearly bankrupted the nation.
So far, Mahathir hasn’t answered Abdullah Badawi’s charges, although he has said he intends to do so. The army of bloggers allied with Mahathir has, however, pointing to Abdullah Badawi’s failings as premier.
The book and the reaction have also opened a new flood of sympathy for Abdullah Badawi, with large numbers of UMNO cadres offering to visit him in retirement. He retains the affections of perhaps 10 percent of the cadres, according to one estimate – not much, but enough to become a factor in opposition to the Mahathir wing. The UMNO assembly should be an interesting affair.
Posted: 12 Aug 2013 01:25 AM PDT
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim warned Prime Minister Najib Razak not to rush into signing the US-mooted Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement just to please President Barack Obama when the latter visits Malaysia in October.
According to Anwar, if Najib did so, it could damage Malaysia’s reputation in the region and give it a negative image of being a lackey or stooge of the United States.
“We should reject the TPPA for our own sake because it does not benefit Malaysia. If Najib were to rush into the agreement merely because of Obama’s visit, we would be seen as lackeys of the US,” Anwar told a press conference on Monday.
Within East and Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia have expressed reservations over the controversial TPPA although Japan has already signed up for the pluri-lateral free trade agreement, which is the brainchild of Obama himself.
At first glance a “godsend”, but may promote US agenda to the extent M’sia loses its sovereignty
The TPPA is currently under negotiations between 12 nations within the Asia-Pacific region, which have a combined GDP worth more than YS$33 trillion at the end of 2012.
But as Anwar and Nurul izzah, the MP for Lembah Pantai who was also at the press conference, pointed out, the TPPA is more than just a conventional FTA.
Its critics have warned the TPPA not only seeks to regulate market access for good services but will also affect the way a country does business due to “cross-cutting horizontal issues.
“The TPPA has a direct impact on our legal and judicial system, economic structures and democratic institutions. Our national interest and sovereignty therefore is at stake. PKR view the TPPA as an attempt by the US to impose its brand of economic model of free market, laisses-faire approach, de-regulation and small government,” Anwar, who is also the adviser for the PKR or People’s Justic Party, said.
“The glaring absence of China, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia in the TPPA lends credence to this belief that it promotes primarily US economic, business and geopolitical interest.”
Posted: 12 Aug 2013 01:23 AM PDT
Pakatan Rakyat has not exhausted all legal avenues open to it in challenging the outcome of the May 5 general election, according to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.
“We still have a couple more applications regarding indelible ink coming up (next month),” he told a press conference at the party headquarters today.
Anwar was asked about Pakatan's next move, since all the election petitions filed by its component parties have been thrown out on technical grounds by the Election Court in various locations.
He was critical of the election petitions being dismissed based on preliminary objections.
“In Ketereh, our petition was struck out on the basis that the applicant was not present in person. I have been involved in many court cases and I did not attend to every one of them in person,” he said.
He said the judiciary has given a “worrying picture” by striking out all the election petitions filed by Pakatan parties.
“It’s as though a trial is being avoided so that the facts can’t be heard in court,” he said.
He said the federal opposition has ceased voicing objections to the poll results through public protests, which had been held over a month after the election was concluded.
“We didn’t want the problem to become big, (as it has) in Egypt or Thailand, so we chose to stop voicing our objections openly and opted go through the courts,” Anwar noted.
Posted: 12 Aug 2013 01:21 AM PDT
Keputusan mahkamah kes petisyen pilihan raya jelik dan mengaibkan, kata Anwar. – Gambar The Malaysian Insider oleh Najjua Zulkefli, 12 Ogos, 2013.Penolakan petisyen pilihan raya yang dibuat mahkamah disifatkan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sebagai keputusan yang sangat jelik dan mengaibkan nama institusi kehakiman negara.
Menurut Ketua Umum Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) itu keputusan yang dibuat hakim berkenaan petisyen adalah sesuatu yang tidak boleh diterima akal.
“Badan kehakiman memberi gambaran yang cukup membimbangkan. Pertama menolak dengan asas yang paling tidak bertanggungjawab.
“Antara alasan yang diberikan hanya kerana orang yang memohon petisen tidak menghantar sendiri.
“Adakah alasan itu boleh diterima kerana selama ini berpuluh kes yang saya hadapi tidak pernah saya hantar sendiri semua diwakili peguam, “kata beliau kepada wartawan dalam sidang media hari ini di Ibu Pejabat PKR.
Kata Anwar, tambah mengecewakan apabila mahkamah langsung tidak melihat senario penyataan itu sendiri apabila petisyen dikemuka kerana kegagalan pengurusan PRU lalu yang tidak telus dan bebas.
“Kita terima majoriti undi memihak pada Barisan Nasional namun majoriti dan suara dimenangi PR , kerana itu beberapa kes yang diragui kita minta bicarakan,” katanya.
Bagaimanapun, katanya, tindakan tersebut sengaja dielakkan kerana tidak mahu isu yang membabitkan kegagalan SPR tidak mahu diketengahkan.
Anwar berkata, penolakan itu tidak bermaksud PR akan menghentikan usaha untuk mendedahkan kegagalan SPR.
Katanya, PR akan mengemukakan beberapa lagi kes ke mahkamah termasuk kes penipuan SPR mengenai dakwat kekal dan undi pos yang akan dibentangkan 2 September kelak.
Ini kerana dakwanya, melalui Kajian Merdeka Center dengan jelas menyatakan BN menang kerana undi pos dan undi awal, tanpa undi itu maka BN akan kecundang.
“Sebab itu kita ambil keputusan untuk tidak bantah di jalanan kita bantah di mahkamah namun dipukul dan terpaksa menerima bayaran tinggi,” kata Anwar.
Posted: 12 Aug 2013 01:21 AM PDT
The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) currently being negotiated by Malaysia is not a mere trade pact as it cuts through the nation's legal, judicial and economic structures, and democratic institutions, said opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (pic).
"Our national interest and sovereignty is at stake," said Anwar at a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Tropicana, Petaling Jaya, today.
Anwar said the TPPA was an attempt by the United States to impose its economic model which is based on a laissez-faire approach, deregulation and small government.
The TPPA provides free movement of goods and services among 12 countries including the United States, Mexico, Canada, Peru, Singapore, Chile, Brunei, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. It aims to create a market of 800 million people with a combined gross domestic product of US$27.5 trillion.
The TPPA has come under fire for its lack of details on the negotiations. The government maintains that a confidentiality clause under the agreement prevents disclosure.
"There has been no full public disclosure of comprehensive and impartial cost benefit analysis undertaken by the Malaysian government," Anwar said.
He gave one example of how it can work against Malaysia, saying that while the TPPA may theoretically give Malaysian companies access to the US$500 billion annual US government procurement market, a sizeable chunk of this market is defence-related so it's not covered by the TPPA.
He said Malaysian companies also would not be able to bid for these projects as all the 50 states in the US had their own procurement policies and were not subject to the TPPA.
"There is no obligation for the individual states to observe any free trade agreement, so where's the benefit?" said Anwar.
He also said Malaysia's economic liberalisation should be done at the country's own pace and needs.
"The TPPA at this juncture appears to be more lopsided to the detriment of Malaysia as a whole without significant benefit. PKR would like to reiterate that there is no valid reason for Malaysia to rush into signing the TPPA," said Anwar.
Anwar said Malaysia would be in a stronger bargaining position after 2015 following the formation of the Asean Economic Community to negotiate free trade agreements.
PKR is the latest in a growing number opposed to the country joining the TPPA.
Among them is Anwar's foe and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had called the TPPA a restriction on free trade.
Dr Mahathir has argued that free trade agreements have failed in the past because countries have to “regulate trade through agreements rather than free trade”.
"If the TPPA is not accepted, then the recalcitrant nations will face restrictions against their freedoms to trade with members of the TPPA,” he also warned in a commentary published by government-backed daily The New Straits Times recently.
Posted: 12 Aug 2013 01:20 AM PDT
12 AUGUST 2013
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a proposed plurilateral free trade agreement (FTA) currently under negotiations among 12 nations surrounding the Asia-Pacific region, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the Philippines, the United States, Vietnam and more recently Japan, boasts a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of over US$33 trillion as at end-2012. Being a trading and foreign direct investment (FDI)-reliant nation but with a small domestic market and a GDP of less than a hundredth of the GDP of total 12 Pacific rim economies, at first glance, the TPPA would appear as a godsend to fast-track Malaysia’s ambition become a developed, high income nation by 2020.
Nonetheless, TPPA is not just a conventional FTA. As it aims to be “a comprehensive, next generation regional agreement that liberalises trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st century challenges”, it does not deal only with market access for goods and services namely removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers but also contains cross-cutting "horizontal issues" that has a direct impact on our legal and judiciary system, economic structures and democratic institutions which undermines our national interest and sovereignty. At present, the US has FTAs with 6 of the TPP countries, namely Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Singapore. The TPPA has clearly gone beyond trade in goods and services to encompass ‘WTO-plus’ issues.
Being the major trade policy initiative of the Obama administration, little wonder that the US is the leading negotiator behind most proposals while the TPPA is mainly based on the typical US FTA template. With its 29 chapters in total as opposed to at most 10 chapters in an usual preferential FTA, Keadilan views TPPA as an attempt by the US, as its main driver, to impose its brand of economic model of total free market, laissez-faire approach, deregulation and small government. The glaring absence of China, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia in the TPPA only lends credence to this theory of modern-day American hegemony that promotes primarily the US economic, business and geopolitical interests.
While some degree of confidentiality is not unexpected in any negotiation, the extent of secrecy and clandestinity in the TPPA is extremely worrying and disconcerting. Since the TPP negotiations have been shrouded in secrecy, what we have learned so far regarding the content of all 29 chapters under the TPPA either came from leaked position papers of TPP countries or can be inferred by analysing existing US FTAs.
The truth is, the negotiating protocols for such international agreements must adhere to accepted international standards especially with regards to transparency (the negotiated agreement text for WTO is made publicly available) and the democratic principle of ratification by the respective legislatures.
Currently, we have an expansive FTA framework through ASEAN and our own bilateral agreements that already include 9 out of the 12 TPP partners which provide equal market access suitable to each signatory country's developmental stage and competitive capacity. In essence, it is both a Free and Fair Trade Agreement (Fair to each country's situation unlike TPPA which disproportionately appears to benefit big multinationals).
In fact, Malaysia is negotiating another two major trade agreements, which are the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Malaysia-EU FTA.
Since Malaysia is the world’s 17th largest trading nation, Keadilan would like to reiterate its commitment to any on-going negotiations and principles of free and fair trade. However, we would prefer to err on the side of caution by withholding our support to the TPPA since we remain unconvinced that benefits will eventually outweigh the costs in the long run. In the absence of a full public disclosure of a comprehensive and thorough Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) undertaken by the Malaysian government, we should take with a pinch of salt an assessment as a result of a study conducted in 2012 by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Washington DC-based think tank that Malaysia would be among the biggest winners under the TPPA with gains of up to RM41.7 billion in exports and RM26.3 billion in gross national income per annum by 2025.
For illustration, although TPPA may theoretically give Malaysian companies access to the US$500 billion in annual US government procurement market, the chunk of this market is for defence, which is exempt from the TPPA while all 50 US states have the authority to determine their own procurement policy and hence, no obligation to observe any US FTAs.
It is interesting to note that apart from the TPPA, the US is also in the midst of negotiating a Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) with the European Union (EU). What is important to note is the different approaches used in negotiating these two agreements. The European Commission is officially quoted as stating that it negotiates on behalf of the EU and will keep its Member States and the European Parliament regularly informed and updated. The EU is committed to providing as much information as possible for the public, the media, and all other stakeholders as they move through the TTIP negotiations. For example, they have taken the unprecedented step of making available to the public a number of the EU’s initial position papers on various aspects of the negotiations and made available the list of the lead negotiators for all the areas covered by the process.
Therefore, on this difference alone between the Atlantic and Pacific regions, Keadilan holds the position that we should reject the TPPA outright until and unless a comprehensive and impartial CBA and comparative advantage study are conducted whose results are extensively communicated to the public, TPPA’s key points are made available to all stakeholders especially our members of Parliament, and the final agreement (when the entire text is disclosed) is duly ratified by our respective legislature.
We can never emphasise enough that any FTAs, whether bilateral or multilateral, must be based on mutual benefits, taking into account the level of economic development, social needs and competitive capacity or each TPP partner. While there is little disagreement over the need to push through the agenda of holistic reforms premised on innovation, creativity and high value addition in order to provide a conducive ecosystem for a sustainable economic development, thriving businesses and prosperous citizens, Keadilan believes Malaysia’s economic liberalisation and market opening should be done at our own pace and according to our needs.
In view of the 58 redlines or “red stops”, the US-Malaysia FTA talks that began in 2006 were suspended in 2009. Since there is not much difference between US-Malaysia FTA and the template for TPPA, it is mind-boggling and implausible that all these red lines seem to have suddenly disappeared only four years later.
Taking into account major fears and concerns among the public, Keadilan would urge our negotiators during the remaining rounds of the TPPA to defend our rights and privileges no matter how difficult and sensitive the issues are by pushing clear-cut redlines in particular for:
1. Trade in goods particularly exclusion of tariff elimination for rice, other food products, tobacco crop, alcohol, automobile`and other sensitive industrial products with significant local production; no restriction of export taxes to promote local processing of commodities and manufacturing of derivative products or other downstream activities; no “yarn forward rule” for the textile industry; no general or specific provisions in the sanitary or phytosanitary (SPS) or technical barriers to trade (TBT) with requirements to liberalise Malaysia’s halal certitifcation process or lower Malaysia’s halal standards
2. Services liberalisation which should be based on the “positive list” framework instead of the “negative list” framework whereby all services sub-sectors would be assumed as liberalised unless placed on a “negative list” beforehand
3. Investment related issues such as no to investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms that will render the government vulnerable to claims and lawsuits filed by foreign investors from TPP countries; no restrictions on performance requirements beyond the WTO
4. Intellectual property particularly no requirements beyond the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); any extension of patent term or copyright term; any provisions requiring data exclusivity, linkage between patent status and medicine registration, patents on new uses or ban on pre-grant patent opposition, etc especially for the sake of public access to affordable healthcare, medicines and pharmaceutical products
5. State-owned enterprises (SOEs) or government-linked companies (GLCs) and small-and-medium enterprises particularly no enforcement of competition via state-state dispute settlement
6. Financial services particularly no obligation to liberalise Malaysia’s financial services industry or bind the level of its financial openness; no restriction to Malaysia’s ability or policy flexibility to regulate the financial sector and to introduce new or reinforce existing capital controls over flows of funds in order to safeguard financial sector stability and other mandates of Bank Negara Malaysia
7. Food safety and labelling particularly no restrictions to Malaysia’s ability to regulate its food safety policy especially no requirement to amend existing laws that require the identification and labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and products of such organisms including GM food
8. Native customary rights and environmental issues
9. Effective exceptions applicable to all 29 chapters
Given Malaysia’s bad track record in international negotiations or disputes, putting the fate of our future in the hands of our negotiators, either from MITI or other ministries/government agencies could be too big a risk to take. A series of failures in recent times makes us seriously wonder whether they can do a good job this time around in fighting for our principles and positions.
As such, the TPPA at this juncture appears to be more lopsided to the detriment of Malaysia as a whole without significant benefits. Keadilan would like to reiterate that there is no valid reason why Malaysia should rush to sign the TPPA before conducting the following:
(a) public disclosure of the results of an independent, holistic and detailed CBA in terms of impact of reduction in tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and services sector liberalisation as well as trade-offs with ex-sovereign commitments such as dilution or even loss of sovereignty in the areas of policy space, constitutional amendments, government procurement, vulnerability to investor-state disputes, intellectual property rights, etc.
(b) engagement with all stakeholders via round table discussions or public forums
(c) Parliamentary scrutiny and debates
While we would prefer the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), Keadilan still lauds the move recently to set up a multi-partisan Parliamentary Caucus, comprising both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat members of Parliament with the objectives of protecting the interests of all stakeholders including consumer associations, business & industry associations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other groups with vested interests while scrutinising all decisions made by the government regarding the TPPA. We sincerely hope that this Parliamentary Caucus will turn into a strong pressure group with the ability to exert due influence on Cabinet decisions regarding TPPA.
Keadilan is of the view that it would be more appropriate and ideal for Malaysia to focus on strengthening its regionalisation efforts through ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which will come into force by 2015. Then, leveraging on a much more powerful trade, investment and economic bloc i.e. AEC, Malaysia would be in a better position to negotiate for preferential access to developed countries instead of undertaking negotiations individually in plurilateral FTAs such as the TPPA.
Furthermore, by maintaining our current geopolitical posture especially within ASEAN and the BRIC nations where China being our largest trading partner followed by Singapore and Japan; we already have access to a market that is 60% of the world's population and 40% of the global economy.
Instead, the real challenge for Malaysia is to enhance our competitive capacity with adequate social security networks which unfortunately have suffered badly through BN's continued mismanagement of our economy, bad education, training and human capital development policies along with the subversion of our democratic institutions.
Ketua Umum Parti KeADILan Rakyat
Ketua Pembangkang Parlimen, Malaysia
Posted: 11 Aug 2013 09:53 AM PDT
Since the procurement of two Scorpene-class submarines in 2002, the federal government has reluctantly parried a decade of controversy, scandals and intrigue that followed.
From allegations of corruption to murder, the government’s response had often been curt and vague to an issue that wouldn’t go away, as NGOs and the opposition sought to keep the issue alive.
So it is a matter of great curiosity when the entire government-linked media machinery recently featured the the matter prominently, be it on television or newspapers, on what was meant to be a quiet festive season in terms of news.
Two weeks after an interview with Jasbir Chahl Singh, the so-called “architect” of the Scorpene deal, hit newspapers and airwaves, the man was again on television yesterday and in the newspapers today.
The national news agency Bernama had rushed Jasbir’s lengthy statement late last night with six updates to the story in less than three hours – a practice out of the ordinary – that was subsequently reproduced by most major newspapers today.
Jasbir insisted that the Scorpene deal was transparent and reiterated that it had nothing to do with Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu who was shot and blown up with C4 explosives by then Najib Abdul Razak’s security detail in 2006.
He was then deputy prime minister and defence minister.
Timed with Umno polls
Puzzled that the government machinery is now giving prominence to its own controversy, opposition strategists can only look to the looming Umno party elections to offer an explanation.
PKR strategies director Rafizi Ramli pointed out that Jasbir had been silent for the past decade but has suddenly been in the news for two consecutive weeks.
“Jasbir’s timing makes it clear that the whole thing is not in the interest of truth and justice as he could have addressed the issue much earlier.
“The timing is very suspect. This whole thing appears to be part of an internal Umno campaign to preempt attacks on Najib with regards to the Scorpene controversy,” he toldMalaysiakini when contacted.
The Scorpene issue had always been a bane to Najib, and at theheight of the controversy in 2008, his approval rating as deputy prime minister was worse than then premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi whose support was already bleeding from failed reforms.
Ultimately, Rafizi said the key to end the decade-long controversy that has plagued Najib, who is also Umno president, is for an open inquiry to establish the facts of the Scorpene deal as well as Altantuya’s murder once and for all.
“The fact is this one sided argument from time to time by characters such as Jasbir without the government’s willingness to open the books for full scrutiny will not work,” he said.
PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar echoed this, stating that the government cannot depend on individuals to clear its name with the help of its media machinery.
“Even though there are indications that the Umno presidency and deputy presidency will not be challenged, I believe he (Najib) wants to make sure that no one will use the controversy to mount a challenge against him,” he said.
Since taking over the premiership, Najib’s team has successfully strengthened the premier’s popularity, with Najib even becoming the face of an ailing BN to shore up support.
Najib appears to be employing the same strategy in the upcoming party polls when he urged some 150,000 party members who will be voting, to not only choose someone who can be successful in Umno, but also can appeal to the larger population in a general election.
Najib’s team in Umno is also expected to ride on his popularity which will likely receive a boost as China president Xi Jinping and US president Barack Obama will visit the country just weeks before the party polls.
Why not just show the figures?
However, the new Scorpene media campaign, whoever is behind it, could potentially be more a bane than a boon for the premier as even the government had preferred to be silent on it.
“The answers we have received from the government about Scorpene in Parliament have always one liners which is not much use,” said DAP publicity chief Tony Pua who is also Petaling Jaya Utara MP.
Instead of having point men to counter the Scorpene controversy, Pua said the government would do best to quantify all payments involved in the Scorpene deal to show that there was no improprieties.
“Whether it is above board or not, the inquiry in the French court will also determine that,” he said in reference to Jasbir’s assertion that the deal was transparent.
Human rights group Suaram has filed a case in France against French naval company DCNS over kickbacks allegedly paid out in the Scorpene deal and the probe is still ongoing in Paris.
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