14 June, 2014

Lawmakers, LGBT groups urge U.S. trade action on Brunei criminal laws

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 100 U.S. lawmakers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups on Thursday urged the Obama administration to stop trade talks with Brunei unless the country revokes Islamic criminal laws they say jeopardize human rights.

Brunei, the first East Asian country to introduce Islamic criminal law, has announced laws that will impose fines or jail terms for offenses such as pregnancy outside marriage and failure to perform Friday prayers. The laws will ultimately punish sodomy and adultery with the death penalty, including by stoning.
One hundred nineteen members of the House of Representatives signed a letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to shun Brunei in talks on a Pacific free trade zone unless the code is repealed.

The United States and Brunei are among 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which aims to set common standards on issues from labor to intellectual property and cut tariffs on traded goods.

Pride at Work, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality said in a letter to President Barack Obama that Brunei's new laws placed the country outside the bounds of international standards for human rights.

"It would be inconsistent with U.S. human rights policy to enter into a preferential trade agreement with a nation that so vagrantly violates the human rights of its citizens," they said.

State Department officials have said the United States has "very serious concerns" about the Brunei laws criminalizing freedom of religion and increasingly threatening human rights.

Brunei, a tiny former British protectorate of about 400,000 nestled between two Malaysian states on Borneo island, relies on oil and gas exports for its prosperity, with annual per capita income of nearly $50,000.
(Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

10 June, 2014

An open letter to TS Francis Yeoh of YTL (reproduced from The Malay Mail):

Dear Editor,
I read in awe the comments made by Tan Sri Francis Yeoh (FY) reported in your Malay Mail Online Portal on Tuesday, 3rd June, 2014, and several other newspaper including The Malaysian Reserve and The Edgedaily, quoting him at Pemandu’s global Malaysia Series Forum at the Securities Commission.

Francis Yeoh is probably the last person qualified to comment on cronyism, racial and religious rhetorics. For someone whose family is one of the biggest beneficiary of crony capitalism, political corruption and high handed business tactics. Francis Yeoh should just keep his fake views to himself and continue planning his transfer of wealth overseas.

Lets recap how FY and YTL “won “ the first IPP in the country in 1994.

All you have to do is read the Memoirs of Tan Sri Ani Arope to know first hand of how high handed Francis Yeoh bulldozed his way through his IPP which has cost the Malaysian citizens billions of Ringgit. It’s the same billions which Francis Yeoh has now transferred abroad acquiring assets in UK, Australia and Singapore, all from the grossly inflated electricity tariff YTL got in 1994 on the back of power crisis in 1992.

Francis Yeoh called the IPP as “innovation”. I and most Malaysian citizens would call it daylight robbery.
The innovation was to produce electricity at 23 sen, sell it at 30 sen, when TNB was producing it at 8 sen and selling it at 17 sen.
Innovation was land-grabbing the Paka and Pasir Gudang sites from TNB and building his IPP. Innovation was arm- twisting Petronas to sell gas at huge subsidy. Innovation was forcing through a “take or pay” mechanism in the Off-take Agreement .

Innovation was bulldozing through the IPP via EPU through whatever means to get the sweetheart deal. Innovation was forcing Dato Sri Ani Arope, the TNB CEO then to resign for refusing to accept YTL terms.

Francis Yeoh is probably the only Chinese who dared walk through like a King into an UMNO General Assembly those days to see the Prime Minister and nobody dared questioned him or stopped him.

Let’s move on to the Express Rail Link which is also another innovation by FY which he touted as a runaway success without government help.

Oh, he forgot to mention and most people didn’t know that RM 5 of every passenger airport tax paid by travellers going through KLIA is paid to ERL even though less than 5% of them uses the ERL to get to KLIA.

And not to forget that the government paid RM 100m for the recent extension of ERL to KLIA2 and the passengers now to pay an extra RM2 to get to KLIA2 to cover the cost of the extra trip to KLIA2.

Perhaps we should give FY the “Malaysian Innovator of the Century” for all the “innovation” he had done that ripped off billions of Ringgit of taxpayers money including mine.

Now lets move to the topic of racism.

Can FY come clean on how many Malays and Indian YTL Group has employed? I would like to see it broken down by category of senior management, management and kulis. It’s the same FY who employed a token Malay as Executive Director in his Group who doesn’t have to actually go to work, so he won’t learn their trade secrets.

On corporate governance, YTL has the infamous Kitchen Board comprising of family members only that meets and decide on key things . The formal Boards of his listed companies only meet to rubber stamp decisions and tick their attendances for publishing in the annual report.

Francis Yeoh participated in a recent forum of Top 50 PLCs chaired by the Prime Minister at the Security Commission recently.

At the session, a study on graduate employment by 2 lecturers (Dr Lee Hwok Aun and Dr Muhammad Abdul Khalid) in University Malaya was tabled, which highlighted how Malay graduates are discriminated against in job application.

It was Francis Yeoh his most eloquent, when he was asked to give his views. He managed to say about 5 words and “innovated” his way out by changing topics. Francis Yeoh’s latest innovation is now team up with royalties for business.

This is after years of currying favors from politicians until his true self showed up and no politician wanted to have anything to do with him.

After he bad-mouthed Tun Dr Mahathir to just about everybody who cared to listen, the same Tun Dr Mahathir who made him a billionaire many times over. After years of loathing the royalties, now they are his favorite people.

But things didn’t go according to plan. After losing out in the Project 3B IPP tender, FY managed to “innovate” his way through bypassing the open tender method to win Project 4A just days ago.

Another brilliant innovation by FY, is to metamorphorse YTL from a mere Chinaman contractor turned power producer to also now be a brilliant telecommunications company. How much did you pay for the 4G license Francis Yeoh?

And also the highly inflated Bestranet project to wire up all the schools in the country, so that you can plant your base stations paid for by the people! Another brilliant innovation by YTL should be your company tagline, no need to hire a bumiputera PR company to come up with a tagline for you.

And what about KTM land in Sentul FY? I suppose taking land from a bleeding KTM at rock bottom price makes you a national savior?

After benefitting from all these sweetheart deals, you later called for “brutal competition” as the only way for the country to progress.

When you get all these deals. Its innovation and entrepreneurship. When a bumiputera like Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar gets them, its cronyism and unfair privileges for the bumiputeras.

You criticized the affirmative action plan which is national policy giving unfair advantage to the bumiputera, but I can assure you that all the small contracts handed out to the small contractors the last 21 years since you got your innovative IPP does not even come close to the contracts and businesses YTL has got from the government and the people.

I can go on and on, and I am sure there are many more people who knows more than me who can add to it. Not enough in attacking and insulting our intelligence, FY is also now attacking bumiputeras, saying the non-bumis now have no chance in business in Malaysia.

My message to Francis Yeoh is maybe it’s time for you to sell out the remaining 15% of business which are still in Malaysia and start packing your bags to move to UK. A lordship awaits you in the land of the fair.

Anak Malaysia

08 June, 2014


King Gyanendra
RAKYAT Nepal kini bergembira bagi meraikan tamatnya pemerintahan beraja yang wujud di negara itu sejak 240 tahun lalu. Parlimen Nepal pada Rabu lalu meluluskan usul menamatkan pemerintahan berkenaan dan sekali gus akan menukar pemerintahan negara itu kepada sebuah republik.

Ketika rakyat negara itu bergembira dan menganggap ia kemenangan bersejarah bagi mereka, keputusan Parlimen itu adalah sesuatu yang mendukacitakan bagi Raja Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev.

Baginda kini diberi tempoh selama 15 hari untuk meninggalkan istana yang bakal ditukar menjadi muzium. Di situ akan ditempatkan segala sejarah mengenai pemerintahan beraja di Nepal untuk ditatapi generasi akan datang.

Raja Gyanendra menjadi Raja Nepal sejak 4 Jun 2001. Sebaik sahaja Gyanendra menjadi raja, baginda telah membubarkan Parlimen serta memerintah Nepal secara kuku besi.

Malah pada abad ini, baginda boleh dianggap sebagai sebahagian kumpulan elit raja di dunia yang merupakan monarki mutlak. Walaupun begitu tindakannya menindas rakyat, telah memberi peluang kepada Parlimen mengambilalih kuasa daripadanya.

Oleh itu pada April 2006, Parlimen mula membatas kuasa mutlak yang dinikmati oleh baginda selama ini. Raja Gyanendra dilahirkan di Kathmandu dan mempunyai seorang abang bernama Birendra. Bapa baginda ialah Raja Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah dan ibunya ialah Puteri Mahkota Indra Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah. Walaupun baginda adalah anak bongsu, Gyanendra telah ditabalkan sebagai raja selama dua tahun antara 1950 dan 1951, sewaktu keluarganya yang lain berada dalam buangan di India tetapi pemerintahannya tidak diiktiraf di peringkat antarabangsa.

Takhtanya Datuknya, Tribhuvan, kemudiannya pulang ke takhtanya apabila keluarga Rana menyerahkan kuasa. Baginda bersama abangnya Birendra belajar di kolej yang sama iaitu Kolej St. Joseph, Darjeeling, India. Sewaktu di sekolah baginda dianggap sebagai pelajar pintar. Walaupun begitu, baginda meneruskan pelajarannya di sebuah universiti tempatan iaitu Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. Manakala abangnya pula melanjutkan pelajaran ke universiti di Eropah.

Setahun selepas tamat pengajiannya iaitu pada 1970, Raja Gyanendra telah berkahwin dengan Permaisuri Komal Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah dan dianugerahkan dengan seorang putera dan seorang puteri.

Raja Birendra menaiki takhta pada 1972 dan cuba memerintah Nepal dengan penuh demokrasi. Namun baginda terpaksa berhadapan dengan tentangan hebat tentera Mao. Pada 1 Jun 2001, dunia telah digemparkan dengan serangan terhadap keluarga diraja Nepal, anak saudaranya Dipendra mengamuk dan membunuh sebahagian besar keluarga di Raja termasuk abang Gyanendra, Raja Birendra.

Sebahagian besar rakyat Nepal percaya, Raja Gyanendra menjadi dalang di sebalik pembunuhan itu memandangkan kesemua kerabat diraja yang lain dibunuh sedangkan keluarga baginda terselamat.

Bagaimanapun selepas siasatan menyeluruh dijalankan oleh pasukan penyiasat mereka gagal menemui bukti berhubung penglibatan Raja Gyanendra.

Sebaik sahaja menaiki takhta, Raja Gyanendra mengamalkan sikap mengawal sepenuhnya kerajaan berikutan kegagalan parti-parti politik. Pada Mei 2002, baginda memberi sokongan kepada Sher Bahadur Deuba sebagai Perdana Menteri. Bagaimanapun ia hanya bertahan lima bulan apabila, baginda menyingkirkan Deuba. Sepanjang tempoh 2002 hingga 2005, baginda telah melantik dan memecat tiga Perdana Menteri.

Ketika baginda menguasai sepenuhnya pemerintahan pada 1 Februari 2005, baginda menuduh kerajaan Deuba gagal melaksanakan pilihan raya Parlimen dan mewujudkan kestabilan dalam negeri berikutan tercetus perang saudara yang dilakukan oleh pemberontak Mao.
Walaupun Raja Gyanendra memberi jaminan akan mewujudkan keamanan dan pemerintahan demokrasi dalam tempoh tiga tahun tetapi sepanjang pemerintahannya ia dipenuhi dengan tindakan kuku besi.

Berikutan itu pertubuhan antarabangsa melahirkan kebimbangan mereka terhadap keselamatan wartawan berikutan langkah Raja Gyanendra mengehadkan kebebasan awam termasuk kebebasan media.

Tindakan demi tindakan yang dilakukan Raja Gyanendra mula mencetuskan perasaan tidak puas hati rakyat sehingga mencetuskan demonstrasi besar-besaran pada April 2006 bagi membantah pemerintahannya. Raja Gyanendra bertindak balas dengan mengisytiharkan darurat.

Bagaimanapun bantahan terhadap baginda berterusan dan ini memaksa baginda mengumumkan akan mewujudkan pihak berkuasa eksekutif yang mana Perdana Menterinya akan dipilih oleh parti politik.

Namun tawaran itu ditolak oleh beberapa ketua parti, mereka sebaliknya menggesa Raja Gyanendra mewujudkan satu majlis bagi menentukan peranan raja dalam politik.

Kemelut antara raja dan ahli politik di Nepal seolah-olah sampai ke kemuncaknya pada 10 Jun 2006, apabila Parlimen menghapuskan kuasa raja termasuk hak untuk menggunakan kuasa veto dalam meluluskan undang-undang. Tindakan itu telah menyebabkan Raja Gyanendra ibarat seorang raja awam yang tidak mempunyai apa-apa kuasa kerana segala-galanya sudah dipindahkan kepada Perdana Menteri.

Usaha Raja Gyanendra untuk terus mempertahankan sistem monarki di negara itu sampai ke penghujung pada Mac 2007 apabila Perdana Menteri Nepal, Girija Prasad Koirala yang dilihat orang yang paling memihak kepada sistem berkenaan berpendapat Raja Gyanendra perlu berundur daripada takhta.

Pada 23 Ogos 2007, kerajaan peralihan Nepal mengumumkan semua harta Raja Gyanendra yang diwarisi daripada abangnya termasuk Istana Diraja Narayanhity kini milik negara, bagaimanapun pengumuman itu tidak melibatkan harta peribadi baginda sebelum menaiki takhta.

Akhirnya apa yang dibimbangi oleh Raja Gyanendra menjadi kenyataan apabila pengumuman dibuat pada 24 Disember 2007 bahawa sistem monarki di negara itu akan dihapuskan pada tahun ini selaras dengan salah satu syarat dalam perjanjian damai dengan pemberontak Mao.

Ia sekali gus bermakna Nepal akan menjadi sebuah republik yang akan dipimpin oleh seorang presiden. Berikutan keputusan itu pada Rabu lalu, Raja Gyanendra diberi tempoh selama 15 hari untuk meninggalkan istana tempat baginda bersemayam. Baginda akan melangkah keluar dari istana berkenaan sebagai rakyat biasa dan tidak mempunyai apa-apa keistimewaan dari segi undang-undang.

Demikianlah berakhirnya riwayat pemerintahan beraja di Nepal yang wujud 240 tahun lalu. Kesilapan dan keangkuhan sang raja ketika memerintah telah mewujudkan rasa muak di kalangan rakyat.

Ia kesudahannya mengakibatkan istana tidak lagi dilihat sebuah institusi yang kebal dan perlu dipertahankan. Segalanya berlaku kerana kealpaan Raja Gyanendra yang selama ini merasa begitu berkuasa dan tidak terfikir bahawa suatu hari kelak institusi beraja di negara itu hanya akan menjadi lipatan sejarah yang disimpan di sebuah muzium.

Lebih malang lagi muzium berkenaan sebelum ini adalah istana yang menjadi tempat baginda bersemayam dan bersukaria. (UM - 1/6/2008)