Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Flush before intake

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's announcement last week that we would be 'importing' 1.5 million Bangladeshis within 3 years to work in various sectors, was met with criticism, including by pro-Putrajaya groups.

Some said the influx of foreign workers will add to problems, especially security, social and health. The rise in number of TB (tuberculosis) cases 'brought in' by foreigners was alarming, according to the Health Ministery.

However, Zahid's brief explanation in Tawau on Saturday helped douse off the critics, although not all. There's still confusion among those who are not familiar with how the management of foreign workers is conducted.
The Home Ministry (KDN) has convened discussions with several labour source countries to issue one-way travel document in a bid to deport illegal foreign workers to their countries of origin.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the discussions were held with the countries' envoys in Malaysia, hence correcting whatever misunderstandings caused following the decision to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia.
"I hope non-governmental organisations or employment agencies can understand the government's aspiration and not to push the news as if an additional 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers are coming to work in the country.
"They will be brought in to replace the illegal foreign workers who will be deported to their countries of origin," he told reporters at the 5th Annual Grand Iftar with Palestinian community in Malaysia here Monday night.
The home minister said this to refute the allegation of certain quarters that the plan to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia in three years as inappropriate.
Ahmad Zahid said the decision to bring in the workers was aimed at meeting the demands of employers in heavy industry, construction, plantation and manufacturing sectors.
Of course we need to flush out the estimated 3 million illegal immigrants before bringing in the Bangladeshis.

A program is being finalised to get all foreign missions of the respective nationals and agencies involved - Immigration Dept, Rela, the police, employers' association, among others - to help with the 'sending home' program.

In fact, the program has been going on since about a year ago. As at now, we have deported about 500,000 illegal immigrants back to their respective countries.

It will be an aggressive effort. The government will ensure that all illegal immigrants leave the country in the span of three years, and the intake of the 1.5 million Bangladeshis will only take place once the 'sending home' program is halfway through.

We need workers in many sectors, notably plantation, construction and services that are 'rejected' by locals. Development must go on and without skilled and semi-skilled workers, it would dampen such projects.

However, it is hoped that the ministry will engage a comprehensive approach in attending to the issue. The workers must undergo thorough medical test as to avoid contagious diseases such as TB doesnt make its way to Malaysia. We have been declared free from TB in the late 80s.

And allegations that ministers and senior government officers will lucre from the 1.5 million intake is baseless as the G to G arrangement will be conducted as transparent as it could, and no agents will be appointed to manage it.

The government is expected to collect RM3 billion in levy and other charges once the 1.5 million intake is completed. However, we also need to finance some 'sending home' of the illegal immigrants, and fullest cooperation by the public is needed.

The Cabinet has approved the intake after studying the needs and all aspects of the industry. It was not KDN's decision, and neither was Zahid.

The 'send home first, intake later' should be well conceived as a formula to drive away illegal immigrants, clear the country from security and diseases threats, and ensure a properly-managed foreign workers system for Malaysia.

Should there be hiccups, it must be addressed there and then...

Monday, June 29, 2015

MH17: Will there be justice?

A United Nations tribunal on MH17 is still under discussion despite Russia rejecting it, said Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

We need to find answers and seek justice for the victims. While Malaysia Airlines - also the victim - is compensating families of the victims, we cannot just let those involved in shooting down the Boeing 777 that killed all 298 on board, off the hook.

The question is, will there be justice?

Nearly a year ago, Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over the rebel-held territories of eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 on board — more than two-thirds of them Dutch citizens.

And while the conclusions of official investigation into the tragedy won't be released until October, recent moves by Dutch officials for a UN-backed international tribunal has reignited international legal debate about justice for the victims.

Dutch prosecutors have reportedly narrowed their focus to the theory that MH17 was shot down by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian rebels, which suggests that those criminally liable may hail from Ukraine, Russia, or both.

While assessing responsibility and liability will be daunting, no country is better poised to utilize the entire variety of international legal instruments than the Netherlands. After all, Hugo Grotius, the "father of international law" was a Dutchman, while The Hague itself is synonymous with international justice for the myriad of international courts and tribunals seated there.

So it is definitely worth paying attention when Dutch officials claim that an ad hoc UN tribunal would be the "best option" in facilitating cooperation from all concerned countries.

To be sure, conventional legal options are fraught with difficulties. By virtue of territorial jurisdiction, the Ukrainian government could try accused individuals in their domestic courts — though those proceedings would be hindered by a perceived lack of impartiality.

Likewise, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and others could claim jurisdiction to try the accused for the murder of their nationals in their own domestic courts based on the nationality principle — likely to be confounded by extradition troubles, as with the Ukrainian option.

Moreover, trial in domestic courts would be limited to domestic crimes such as murder or manslaughter, rather than larger-scale crimes of international law, such as war crimes or crimes against humanity.

To that end, an oft-touted option is the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague — established specifically to try individuals charged with such heinous international offenses. Yet neither Russia nor Ukraine have ratified the Rome Statute that established the court, so neither are subject to its jurisdiction.

And by virtue of being one of the Permanent Five (P-5) members of the UN Security Council, Russia could wield its veto to stymie any referral to the ICC's prosecutor to investigate.

Both Ukraine and — more importantly — Russia are subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), where cases could be brought by aggrieved states or family members of victims.

Yet Russia's relations with the ECHR are already strained to the point of breaking. With some 20,000 petitions already pending against Russia, its compliance has been spotty at best, and it has recently threatened to abandon the court, which would deprive victims of Russian domestic human rights abuses their most vital avenue for redress.

So perhaps an ad hoc international tribunal based in the Netherlands would indeed be the best option — perhaps even able to overcome Russia's signaled hostility toward the idea.

While there is no standard of "stare decisis" (binding precedent) in international law — meaning each transgression must be adjudicated according to its own merits — it seems the Dutch are patterning their response after the case of Pan Am 103, which was blown out of the sky by a Libyan terrorist's bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, en route from London to New York.

After extensive negotiations with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya agreed to extradite the two accused terrorists to an ad hoc tribunal established at an abandoned U.S. military base at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.

There, in 2000 — in an unprecedented development in international law — special considerations were made for the seating of a Scottish court, enforcing Scots law, on the territory of the Netherlands for the purpose of trying two Libyans for 270 counts of murder.

The parallels between Pan Am 103 and MH17 are evident, but Putin's Russia is not Gaddafi's Libya. As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia has far more diplomatic levers at its disposal to prevent extradition and stymie judicial action, while its ability to withstand and defy international sanctions has already been demonstrated.

What's more, extradition of Russian nationals is forbidden by the Russian Constitution and Criminal Code. Especially amid the current atmosphere of East-West hostilities, the potential for Russian acquiescence to and participation in an international tribunal that would serve as a galling indictment of the Putin government and its involvement in the bloody separatism in eastern Ukraine seems remote at best.

There is one final case worth considering that may avoid the thorny extradition problem. Just five months before Pan Am 103, and one month before the end of the Iran-Iraq War, in July 1988, Iran Air Flight 655 from Tehran to Dubai was mistakenly shot down by an American surface-to-air missile from the USS Vincennes in the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 aboard.

Here we have a case of a P-5 member negligently complicit in the downing of a civilian airliner over contentious territory during an international armed conflict.

Iran took the United States before the International Court of Justice (again, in The Hague) over the tragedy. As the judicial proceedings increasingly highlighted American culpability in the tragedy, in 1996 the United States reached a settlement with Iran — paying ex gratia $61.8 million to the families of the victims.

While expressing "deep regret" for the "terrible human tragedy," the United States never admitted legal liability for shooting down the plane, and no American serviceman was ever charged with a crime or served time.

As these cases show, while the number of legal venues and instruments have proliferated over the years, the struggle for international justice will be an uphill one.

And while no settlement can ever bring back the victims of MH17, the actions of Dutch investigators and prosecutors to ascertain individual, criminal liability and then prosecute on those grounds, will hopefully further the development of civil and criminal accountability within international law itself.

Predecessor vs successor

Water woes in Selangor.

And now Mentri Besar Azmin Ali is under mounting pressure - settle the problem amicably or step down!

Most vocal is (similar to Dr Mahathir and Najib's case) non other the former mentri besar himself, Khalid Ibrahim, who said Azmin is not sincere in solving the problem.

Yesterday, Khalid had once again pushed for his successor to step down from his post, citing the latter’s failure to seal the state’s water restructuring deal.

According to Khalid, since Azmin took over the position earlier this year, he had on many occasions issued statements that were confusing, rhetoric, one-sided, and baseless, especially in the ones directed at certain quarters with vested interests, such as the federal government.
“I am sure many of those in the Klang Valley, especially in Selangor, are feeling disappointed with the state and its Menteri Besar’s behaviour that has shown no authority nor the commitment to solve the state’s water service industry.
“If the Menteri Besar himself is aware of his personal limitations or any other restraints that are making it difficult for the Selangor water restructuring deal to be finalised, at a total cost not exceeding RM9.65 billion, then I reiterate the call I made during the Selangor state assembly before.
“His sincerity in putting the public first will really show if he steps down now and allows the Selangor state assembly to find a replacement, a candidate who is really qualified and able to carry out this heavy responsibility,” said Khalid in a statement.
He added that Azmin had not only delayed the process of taking over four water concessionaires, but had also failed in outlining a detailed action plan, complete with concrete steps, to solve all issues related to the state’s water services.
“As a result, I was made to understand that all the officers who have worked hard all this while to complete the water restructuring process are now at a loss due to the lack of proper instructions from the Menteri Besar.
“It is either he is really incompetent or he actually has an ulterior motive,” he said cynically.
Khalid said that Puncak Niaga Holdings Berhad’s (PNHB) move recently, releasing a statement saying that it had not rejected the possibility of cancelling the purchase agreement with Selangor Water Management Sdn Bhd, must be taken seriously.

He said that should this take place, the state government would have  to face legal action by PNHB, which would attempt to retrieve the state’s outstanding debts, estimated to have reached RM4.97 billion on March 31 this year.

“It is not impossible that this PNHB threat may turn to into reality, considering the immunity enjoyed by Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash), another water concessionaire that has stubbornly rejected Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad’s offer.

“Although the Selangor Sultan himself has repeatedly reminded the state administrators to ensure that the water restructuring deal is finalised as soon as possible, without contradicting the main agreement’s spirit and theme, his reminder appears to have been ignored.”

In my opinion, rakyat Selangor just couldn't be bothered who leads the state anymore. The only thing that matters now is to see their taps running, and their other problems solved...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Terror Friday

Call it 'Terror Friday'.

Dozens of people died in attacks on a mosque in Kuwait, a resort in Tunisia and a factory in southeast France.

Its alarming. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, and governments around the world are taking extra precaution of any possibility such incidents take place in their own compound - and Malaysia is of no exception!

Kuwait is observing a day of mourning today after 27 people died in an attack on a Shia mosque during Friday prayers.

Another 227 people were wounded in the Imam Sadiq Mosque in the capital Kuwait City (pic). Images circulating online show bodies on the floor amid debris.

An Islamic State-affiliated group said it was behind the attack. IS has carried out similar recent attacks in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

However, this is the first attack on a Shia mosque to take place in Kuwait.  A spokesman for the Kuwait National Petroleum Company said security was being stepped up at oil installations around the country in the wake of the bombing.

The majority of the 38 people killed in the attack on a Tunisian beach resort were British, the country's prime minister Habib Essid has said.

Islamic State extremists have claimed responsibility for the attack.

At least five Britons have been confirmed dead by the Foreign Office, which warned the death toll could rise.

Thomson and First Choice said their customers were among "a number of fatalities", and they had sent 10 planes to bring home 2,500 tourists. The first were expected to arrive back in the UK on Saturday morning.

An emergency Cobra meeting chaired by the prime minister is due to take place later to look at the UK's response to the attacks.

Tunisians, Britons, Germans, Belgians, French and at least one Irish citizen were among those killed when a gunman opened fire on tourists. Thirty-six others were wounded.

They said they are advising Irish citizens in Tunisia to 'follow the instructions of the police, tour operators, and their hotel staff'.

"Given the number of Irish holiday makers in Tunisia we have opened a dedicated consular support line as a precautionary measure," a spokesperson said.

Of course, this is all a fa├žade -- ISIS is neither invincible, nor is it defending Muslims. Instead, it is killing them, both Shiites and Sunnis.

When ISIS kills Westerners it receives much more media attention in the West, but the vast majority of the group's victims are Muslims. Similarly, ISIS' claim to be defending Sunnis from Shiite oppression, notably in Iraq, rings hollow when its enforcers kill anyone -- including Sunnis -- who defy its wishes.

Similarly, in Syria, the ISIS attacks of the last couple of days against Kurds in and near Kobani served both tactical and propaganda goals.

The Kurds have become the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State, with Kobani becoming the site of the first major defeat for ISIS after a lengthy siege in which Kurdish forces ultimately beat back and repelled ISIS.

And just a week ago, Kurdish fighters supported by U.S. bombers managed to wrest the strategic city of Tal Abyad from ISIS control. In doing so, the YPG, or Kurdish People's Protection Units, opened up a very real vulnerability for ISIS, cutting off supply routes to Raqqa, the Islamic State's "capital," in Syria.

That constituted not only a significant military setback for ISIS, but also a crucial blow to its aura of divinely anointed invincibility, which has been a key component of its appeal.

The furious counterattack of the past few days in the Kurdish area, complete with civilian massacres, therefore appears to have been rooted in tactical battlefield objectives -- ISIS wants to roll back Kurdish gains and prevent the YPG from moving toward Raqqa, but also hopes to repair the dents in its image.

Clearly, attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait would not be about immediate military gains. However, such attacks on outside states can act as recruiting operations, aimed at firing up pious Sunnis and stoking sectarian and anti-Western animosity in the process.

This was clear in the attack in Kuwait as an ISIS branch calling itself the Islamic State in the Province of Najd -- a region in Saudi Arabia -- took responsibility, saying the bomber went after the "temple of rejectionists." That is language that seeks to deepen and inflame divisions between Shiite and Sunni Kuwaitis.

Kuwaiti leaders called for national unity, which is a good thing. They also urged the country to unite instead against "Takfiris," Muslims who label other Muslims as "infidels."

ISIS most likely hopes for harsh crackdowns in all the places where it has attacked -- in France, Tunisia, Kuwait and elsewhere -- in the belief that stronger security measures will stoke resentments, divisions and instability.

Ultimately, ISIS will continue to perpetrate the kind of horrors we have seen in recent days because it sees potential propaganda and strategic gains.

But it is also worth remembering that even though ISIS and its supporters have shown time and again that they can kill unarmed civilians on the beach or in a mosque, word is getting out that on the battlefield, ISIS is far from invincible.

And here in Malaysia, we are small. I believe we are not prepared if such attacks are to take place here...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Who are the Malaysian culprits?

Its disturbing listening to what Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in Melaka yesterday - that Malaysians were involved in 'doctoring' some documents on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The documents are said to be that of former PetroSaudi executive Xavier Andre Justo (pic) who was nabbed in Thailand on Monday.

And for investigation purposes, these Malaysians - whom Justo named to the Thai authorities - will be extradited to Bangkok.

MALACCA: Several Malaysians could be extradited to Bangkok to facilitate investigations over alleged doctoring of documents by former PetroSaudi executive Xavier Andre Justo.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said these individuals were believed to have asked Justo to manipulate certain facts into information to Sarawak Report as divulged by the Swiss national during interrogation by Thai authorities.
He said authorities had received preliminary feedback that Malaysians would be called-up to help into the probe although there was no official request through diplomatic or the usual channel to the Royal Malaysian Police to extradite these individuals to Bangkok.
“During interrogation, Justo mentioned the names of several Malaysians who supposedly asked to manipulate facts from the information that was downloaded from PetroSaudi’s communication system.
“If Thailand authorities have enough information, the probability of us extraditing any Malaysian personalities wouldn’t arise while on the other hand, we will know who these individuals are, if the request is made."
Government investment arm, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MBD), pointed out on Wednesday that some leaked emails connected to the arrest of Justo were tampered with.

The Bangkok Post quoted Thai police as saying that Justo, 49, was paid the equivalent of 140mil baht (RM15.51mil) to leave the company after he was found to have “behaved against the company’s rules and regulations."

He was also accused of demanding another 90mil baht (RM9.98mil) from the company in exchange for not disclosing confidential information to rival companies.

(Also read Who Is Justo?)

Justo was arrested at a house in Koh Samui on Monday, allegedly for leaking information information to the London-based Sarawak Report over several reports on 1MDB. He denied these allegations.

Thai police had reportedly seized numerous computers, hard drives, and other evidence from Justo's residence after obtaining a court ordered search warrant. PetroSaudi said it was mulling further legal action in other jurisdictions against Justo's actions.

And again, 1MDB biggest critic, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad casts doubt on Justo's arrest.

He said he does not rule out the possibility that the arrest of a former PetroSaudi International (PSI) director, Xavier Andre Justo, 49, in Thailand could have been stage-managed. He ventured that the Malaysian government may be involved in the arrest in Thailand.
“Clever propagandists might be at work to blacken my face.”
“Generally, most countries are only worried about terrorists,” he said. “They don’t care if you committed a crime in another country.”
“In this case, the ex-PSI director was supposed to have committed a crime in Saudi Arabia, not Thailand. If he defrauded a company in Saudi Arabia, it’s not Thailand’s problem.”
He reiterated that it doesn’t make sense for Thailand to arrest Justo. “The government has not taken any action against The Sarawak Report and The Edge.”

He pointed out that the website and the publication were the ones generally publishing the wrongdoings of the government. “If their reports are wrong, the government should take action.”

Thursday, June 25, 2015

G Palanivel 'ousted'

If he is no longer a party member, he can't hold any office.

What is happening to brother Palani, and what would be the best option to salvage his 'former' party MIC?

It is regrettable that the Indian-based party, a strong component of Barisan Nasional, is facing such a turbulent when we should together be preparing for the the next general election.
PETALING JAYA: The Registrar of Societies (RoS) has declared that Datuk Seri G. Palanivel is no longer an MIC member, claims acting party president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
Dr. Subramaniam said the RoS sent a letter addressed to the party’s Central Working Committee 2009 and it said that as per article 91 of the MIC constitution, Palanivel was no longer a member of the party.
“The RoS has also recognised that Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam will function in the capacity of acting president to lead the CWC 2009 to conduct the party’s re-elections as per the RoS decision,” said Dr Subramaniam in the statement on Thursday.
Last week, Dr Subramaniam announced that branch elections will be held next month, and the whole process to be completed by October.
Palanivel’s call for the meeting sends the message that he will also be organising the re-election, meaning there will be two re-election plans.
To add more drama into the mix, Dr Subramaniam had earlier announced that Palanivel was no longer a member when he took the matter to the RoS without endorsement from the CWC.
The High Court here on Monday dismissed two judicial review applications filed by four MIC leaders and its strategic director.
Who is/are available to help solve the internal dispute and reshape the party? PM Najib? Or his deputy Muhyiddin?

But both are 'not welcome' to the crisis.

Best is for all factions in MIC to sit down and find an amicable solution, fast!

CENBET approves lies and slander...

CENBET (what BET?) co-presidents Lim Chee Wee and Gan Ping Sieu issued statements on the Home Minister’s 'threat to revoke The Edge’s licence'.

This CENBET people, pro-opposition groups and anti-harmony NGOs will always spin and steer-out statements by ministers on media. When did Home Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi threaten to revoke The Edge's licence?

Even if the ministry takes such an action on The Edge, its done within the scope of law and judgement, that what The Edge and other 'lie monger' media should be held responsible for their dodging reports.

CENBET: Home Minister Datuk Seri Zaid Hamidi's assurance that the Home Ministry will be working closely with the Thai authorities and ASEANPOL following the arrest of former PetroSaudi staff, Xavier Andrea, is laudable, as it may throw some light to the ongoing controversy of 1MDB's questionable investment in PetroSaudi and assist the current investigations into 1MDB by the relevant authorities and Public Accounts Committee.

However, CENBET views with grave concern the remarks by the Minister in respect of the possible revocation of the publishing licence of business daily The Edge.

The remarks could be construed as a veiled attempt to stifle press freedom and reeks of heightened media intimidation.

The remarks also runs contrary to the spirit of greater freedom behind the amendments to the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 three years ago, which had done away with several restrictive provisions.

MY COMMENT: (Freedom of the Press is CENBET's main concern. In other words, CENBET supports the dissemination of lies and slanders by media practitioner. Does CENBET realise the kind of damage such bad reporting have on the country's image? Or does CENBET itself tell lies and badmouth Malaysia on the international forum?)
Even if the allegations of tampering of emails and data are correct, the disproportionate vociferous response of the Minister stands in stark contrast to his silence over the many successful defamation suits brought by some politicians and activists against a few mainstream media for defamatory or false news.

(Zahid did not issue a threat whatsoever, it was a stern reminder. CENBET, I think, failed to realise the damage caused by such bad reports on Malaysia. I'm not talking about leaders but the country as a whole. Such negative pictures were shooing away potential investors. The government has been very 'accommodating' with such publications and news portals that such a 'good gesture' was exploited by owners and runners of the media to further batter the government and the country with their lies and slander).

Such successful suits show that these few newspapers are guilty of the wrong which the Minister is leveling against The Edge.

(These 'few newspapers' are riding on media freedom tag to create political, diplomatic and industrial disharmony. Tarnishing Malaysia image abroad is hope to draw international support and attention toward their agenda to unseat the government, especially Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Distorting facts, for instance on the 1MDB is among their limited avenues to draw local and foreign support for the opposition. Zahid did not say The Edge was wrong but evidence about misreporting by the publication is not few)

Professional journalistic ethics must be upheld at all times. No one is above the law.

(Yes, no one is above the law. However, freedom of the Press does not permit one to spread lies and slander. Its not only against journalistic ethics but also the law)

On the other hand, we must also bear in mind that the authority or stakeholders in 1MDB have other avenues if they feel that the nation or other stakeholders have been wrongly maligned by The Edge or other publications, whether print or online.

(It wont be 'nice' to take media practitioners to court every now and then. The practitioners themselves must observe the code of conduct in journalism. There are many channels for a journalist to verify the authenticity of news, before copying of reproducing it. CENBET is not sensitive about ethics but more on 'rights to report')

In the spirit of rules of law and good governance, the authority or any aggrieved party must first exhaust their remedies via due legal process to keep law and order or to ventilate their grievances, rather than resorting to administrative discretionary power readily for an alleged wrong in the absence of grave national threat of upheaval and violence.

(Does CENBET understand what 'law and order' is? I don't think they do. They seem to be supporting 'any kind of bad reporting' in the name of media freedom! The bottom line is, LIES and SLANDERS are crime!)