Kuala Yong near Jeli, Kelantan is a laid back but picturesque place. Located some 100 kilometres west of Kota Bharu, the village was once the seat of a global controversy that is still being spoken about today – the Pergau Dam affair.
The Pergau Dam affair was about treachery – Mahathir’s style.
It involved an arms scandal as well as aid for the poor that turned into what is now the Pergau Dam.
Allegations of bribes being passed to the then-Prime Minister of Malaysia was abound. But as with the allegations of tens of billions of Ringgits squandered by Mahathir, he never challenged these allegations either.
The Pergau Dam story started with then Secretary of State for Defense George Younger’s agreement with the government of Malaysia in 1988 that the Britain would provide aid in the amount of 20 percent the value of arms sales from Britain to Malaysia. This aid would come in the form of a dam project, despite a subsequent assessment from economists and engineers of the Overseas Development Administration (ODA – the UK’s development arm at the time, which reported to the Foreign Secretary) who found that the dam would not be a cost-efficient way to increase the production of electricity.
In 1991, then Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, authorised the expenditure of £234 million from the aid budget anyway, to maintain a deal made by the defence secretary and approved by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and later John Major. The World Development Movement called for a judicial review of the funding of Pergau Dam on the grounds of a law which states that aid can only be used for “promoting the development or maintaining the economy of a country….or the welfare of its people”.
The British High Court ruled in 1994 that the project was not of economic benefit to the Malaysian people; the deal linked aid directly to commercial contracts and was unlawful.
The Sunday Times ran a story that the dam contractor, George Wimpey International, had paid an initial bribe meant for Mahathir to the tune of USD500,000 (approximately RM1.25 million then). Instead of challenging the newspaper in a court of law, Mahathir got Anwar, who was his Deputy then, to announce ‘Buy British Last II‘.
Lim Kit Siang, Mahathir’s present best friend, jumped at the opportunity to slam the latter. He openly challenged Mahathir to sue the Sunday Times in a court of law – something Mahathir never did.
Although the amount of bribe stated by Lim Kit Siang varied from what was reported by the Sunday Times the last two lines of the above screen capture of Kit Siang’s article shows that monies were transferred to ‘account numbers in Switzerland to which fees related to contract award are to be paid.‘
When the Pergau deal and alleged bribes transfers took place in 1984-85, Mahathir’s right-hand man Daim Zainuddin was the Finance Minister. Coincidentally, it was said that Daim owned, or was in control of, at least a bank in Switzerland, if not more. This was also how, according to Edmund Terence Gomez and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Daim’s company called Baktimu Sdn Bhd was able to obtain a RM40 million loan from the Union Bank of Switzerland to buy a 33 percent stake in Sime UEP for RM75 million in CASH!
Daim only recently divested from the banking business in Switzerland through his company, ICB Financial Group AG.
Could Daim have been involved in providing the accounts into which these payments were credited?
Neither Mahathir nor Daim has come forth to explain, let alone sue especially the Sunday Times for running that story.
In the words of Lim Kit Siang when his struggle then was for the people:
I refer to a recent post on the left-leaning portal The Malaysian Insight where Ng Kheng Khoon, a researcher from the National University of Singapore, wrote that Forest City has disrupted the local housing market and appeared to be exempt from compliance with Johor’s housing policies.
Keng Khoon who along with Nanyang Technical University’s Guanie Lim said that there is no data to show that the Forest City development has directly contributed to the provision of affordable and low-cost homes in Johor Baru, and nor is there a provision of the Bumiputra quota in this project as it falls under the category of ‘newly established international zone’.
Keng Khoon added that was not in line with the Johor Housing Policy for Johoreans in Iskandar Malaysia (DPRJ) introduced in 2014.
The policy was actually introduced in 2012, not 2014.
The Malaysian Insight wrote that according to data compiled at the National Property Information Centre, homes in the RM250,000-RM500,000 range were most launched in Johor Baru, making up about 40% of total launches.
The price range is the yardstick for affordability for the majority of Johoreans.
At a PropertyGuru Malaysia Property Show (MPS) in Singapore, over 2,155 Singaporean buyers flocked to hunt for properties. At the end of the event, over 30 units worth RM30.1 million were sold. Two weeks later, 20 units worth RM18.3 million were also sold at the MPS in Johor Bahru.
Wealthier foreigners, majority of whom are Singaporeans have also snapped high-value properties in Johor, causing land price to shoot up. Some Johor-based property valuers said the land price in Ledang Heights, located in the Iskandar region had increased fivefold since 2007 to between RM150 and RM250 per square foot (psf) in 2017.
Both Ng Kheng Khoon and Guanie Lim have answered most of the issues they have raised themselves. Firstly, Forest City is a development that has been designated as an ‘International Zone’.
In an interview by this blog writer in September 2017, Country Garden Pacificview (CGPV) executive director Datuk Md Othman Yusof said that Forest City is aimed at foreign buyers, not Malaysians. This is to ensure that foreigners take up only what is being sold at Forest City, leaving the development on mainland Johor up for grabs by the locals.
“This is how Johor ensures that the local market is not spoilt,” he added.
Therefore, it is evident that by designating Forest City as an International Zone, the Johor state government as well as CGPV are doing the locals a favour. If Forest City has to build affordable or low-cost housing in that development area, it would contradict the international zone status.
For the same purpose, Dubai designates similar zones for foreigners to own properties in. Article 4 of the Property Ownership Law. Article 4 of the Property Ownership Law allows non-UAE or GCC nationals and companies to own freehold title in the areas in Dubai that have been designated for foreign ownership under regulations issued by the Ruler of Dubai (‘Designated Areas’).
Imagine if Forest City has to build low-cost homes, local contractors would have to fold up. How are local contractors to compete with Forest City’s Industrialised Building System (IBS) which can pre-frabicate house components in far shorter time than local contractors could?
“One of the project’s major selling points is its connectivity to neighbouring Singapore. This means that a new Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Complex (CIQ) dedicated to Forest City will have to be established. But who will pay for the upkeep of this third CIQ that only serves private interests?” said Keng Khoon to The Malaysian Insight.
If this is the best that a researcher from the University that is 15th in the world according to the 2018 Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings could put forth as an argument, that raises a question on how the NUS could get that ranking.
If Forest City could afford an IBS plant, surely it can build and maintain a CIQ for its purpose, operated by the various related government agencies. Having a CIQ there is a matter of government policy. Imagine the number of Singaporeans being able to go to Tuas on a busy weekend, and travel by boat to Forest City to shop at its Duty Free Zone, and stay at their apartment there.
Or even live there and work in Singapore.
Or even live and conduct their business from Forest City.
Is that why until now Mediacorp has not allowed any form of advertisement involving properties in Johor to be aired on any of their channels?
Secondly, the Johor Housing Policy for Johoreans affect only the properties built on mainland Johor. Forest City is NOT built on a part of mainland Johor. Nor is Forest City built for locals (unless they have money to spare to purchase properties there).
However, the locals can go there to shop, enjoy the facilities, and even work there! As of January 2018, 1100 out of 1500 workers in Forest City are locals. That accounts for 73 percent of the workforce there, debunking the myth created by the Opposition that Forest City does not provide employment opportunities for locals.
To summarise, Forest City is an initiative to provide properties to wealthier foreigners to own so that the local market is not spoilt and remain affordable for locals to own. Therefore, its creation does not go against the Johor Housing Policy for Johoreans. Far from not being beneficial for the locals, it gives employment to the locals and is expected to create more jobs for locals as its development progresses.
Satu Majlis Penganugerahan pangkat Leftenan Kolonel Hakiki secara Posthumous (pasca kematian) telah diadakan di Markas Tentera Udara, Kementerian Pertahanan. Anugerah kenaikan pangkat itu telah disempurnakan oleh YBhg Panglima Tentera Udara, Jeneral Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Hj Affendi bin Buang TUDM.
Antara penerima pangkat ini adalah Mendiang Lt Kol Kayamboo a/l Chellam yang terkorban ketika sedang beroperasi menerbangkan pesawat angkut Beechcraft King Air 200T di Pangkalan Udara Butterworth pada 21 Disember 2016, Allahyarham Lt Kol Yazmi bin Dato’ Mohamed Yusof TUDM dan Allahyarham Lt Kol Hasri bin Zahari TUDM yang terkorban bersama semasa menerbangkan pesawat Hawk 108 di Chukai, Terengganu pada 15 Jun 2017. Ketiga-tiga mangsa juruterbang ini menerima satu kenaikan pangkat asal mereka.
Penganugerahan pangkat tersebut telah disampaikan kepada Puan Usha a/p Suppiah (Isteri Mendiang Lt Kol Kayamboo TUDM), Puan Shofara Izwa binti Hilmi (Isteri Allahyarham Lt Kol Yazmi TUDM) dan Puan Asysyuhadak binti Ahmad (Isteri Allahyarham Lt Kol Hasri TUDM).
Majlis pagi tadi telah berlangsung secara bersederhana. Seluruh jemputan di majlis tersebut kelihatan sugul kerana masih lagi bersedih dengan pemergian juruterbang-juruterbang terlibat. Namun kelihatan bersemangat semula apabila mendengar obituari mangsa juruterbang tersebut yang nyata cemerlang di dalam pencapaian kerjaya, keberanian dan pengorbanan yang telah dilakukan sepanjang perkhidmatannya di dalam TUDM.
Selain merupakan satu tanda penghargaan kepada mereka di atas jasa dan bakti mereka terhadap perkhidmatan TUDM khasnya dan Negara amnya, penganugerahan ini juga membolehkan para balu wira-wira tersebut menerima pencen yang lebih tinggi dari pangkat asal terakhir. Inilah di antara cara TUDM dapat membantu keluarga mereka yang telah banyak berjasa.
Turut hadir di majlis ini adalah Timbalan Panglima Tentera Udara, YBhg Lt Jen Dato’ Sri Ackbal bin Hj Abdul Samad TUDM; Panglima Pendidikan dan Latihan Udara, YBhg Lt Jen Dato’ Kamarulzaman bin Mohd Othman TUDM; Asisten Ketua Staf Tadbir, YBhg Brig Jen Ahmad bin Abd Rahman TUDM, serta ahli keluarga Mendiang dan Allahyarham.
Baru-baru ini kita dikejutkan dengan kehadiran seorang diplomat dari Israel ke sebuah persidangan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu di Kuala Lumpur. Pihak pembangkang dengan segera telah menghentam kerajaan kerana telah membenarkan perkara tersebut berlaku seraya mengatakan bahawa kerajaan bersikap hipokrit dalam memperjuangkan hak-hak Palestin tetapi pada masa yang sama telah menjemput seorang warga Israel untuk datang ke Malaysia.
Lantas Kementerian Luar Negeri telah mengeluarkan sebuah kenyataan untuk menerangkan perkara tersebut. Di dalam kenyataan tersebut, Wisma Putra menerangkan bahawa segala jemputan ke persidangan tersebut telah dilakukan oleh pihak Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu melalui Artikel III kepada Perjanjian Negara Tuanrumah yang telah dibuat di antara kerajaan Malaysia dengan pertubuhan tersebut.
Kenyataan ini juga menerangkan bahawa sebagai negara tuan rumah, Malaysia terpaksa menerima kehadiran delegasi dari Israel walaupun berkeras tidak mahu. Malangnya, sebagai memenuhi kehendak diplomasi pelbagai hala, Ianya tidak bermakna Malaysia telah mengubah pendiriannya terhadap Israel dan Palestin.
PKR PERLUKAN PENGARAH KOMUNIKASI YANG BARU
Saudara Fahmi Fadzil, Pengarah Komunikasi PKR telah membidas kenyataan Wisma Putra. Di dalam laman Facebooknya, Fahmi telah mempersoalkan kuasa Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia untuk menafikan mana-mana individu yang tidak dikehendaki untuk masuk ke negara ini.
Saya berasa amat kecewa kerana sebagai seorang yang memegang jawatan penting, Fahmi tidak memahami undang-undang. David Yitzhak Roet, diplomat Israel yang telah ke mari, adalah merupakan seorang diplomat dari negara Israel yang memegang passport diplomat yang bermakna beliau adalah merupakan seorang diplomat bagi negaranya.
Ini bermakna, David Roet tidak boleh dikategorikan sebagai “pendatang yang tidak diingini” (undesirable immigrant) mengikut Seksyen 8(k) Akta Imigresen, 1959/1963. Mari kita undur beberapa tapak untuk memahami keadaan sebenar sebelum mempercayai segala kebebalan yang ditulis oleh Fahmi tadi, atau kenapa Malaysia tidak membantah, dan juga kepada persoalan mengapa Malaysia tidak batalkan sahaja persidangan tersebut.
Pertama sekali, persidangan ini dalah sebuah persidangan yang dianjurkan oleh pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu. Perjanjian Negara Tuanrumah di antara pertubuhan tersebut dengan Malaysia telah ditandatangani pada bulan Mac 2017.
Setelah perjanjian tersebut dibuat, penganjur (UN Habitat) membuat lain-lain persiapan berhubung keperluan persidangan tersebut. Hanya pada bulan Jun 2017, UN Habitat telah menghantar surat-surat jemputan kepada Menteri Luar Negeri setiap negara ahli pertubuhan tersebut termasuk Malaysia dan Israel.
PBB ada mempunyai satu format Perjanjian Negara Tuanrumah yang seragam untuk digunakan oleh agensi-agensi di bawahnya, termasuk UN Habitat. Cuma susunan Artikel adalah terpulang kepada agensi-agensi tersebut, di antaranya menyebut:
“Konvensyen Mengenai Keistimewaan dan Kekebalan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu yang diterima pakai oleh Perhimpunan Agung pada 13 Februari 1946, yang mana negara tuan rumah adalah satu pihak, hendaklah terpakai bagi Persidangan tersebut. Terutamanya, wakil negara-negara akan menikmati keistimewaan dan kekebalan yang diberikan di bawah Artikel IV Koenvensyen tersebut.”
Dokumen di atas menerangkan dengan jelas bahawa wakil-wakil setiap negara yang menghadiri persidangan yang telah dijalankan di Kuala Lumpur, hendaklah diberikan keistimewaan dan kekebalan yang telah kita persetujui sebagai salah sebuah negara ahli PBB yang telah mengiktiraf Konvensyen tersebut.
Ianya tidak berakhir di situ:
“Semua orang yang disebut di dalam artikel II (artikel III dalam perjanjian dengan Malaysia) hendaklah mempunyai hak untuk masuk dan keluar dari negara tuan rumah, dan tiada halangan dikenakan terhadap perjalanan mereka ke dan dari kawasan persidangan.”
Semua di atas adalah berkenaan dengan Konvensyen Vienna Mengenai Hubungan Diplomatik, 1961, yang dipersetujui oleh Malaysia, dan juga Akta Hubungan Konsular (Konvensyen Vienna), 1999. David Roet adalah diplomat yang dihantar oleh negaranya. Maka, Malaysia tidak banyak pilihan kerana telah menandatangani perjanjian tuan rumah, serta perlu menghormati konvensyen Vienna.
Kalau itu sahaja yang boleh diketengahkan sebagai hujah-hujah, maka saya rasa amat elok sekali sekiranya parti tersebut menukar Pengarah Komunikasi mereka memandang Fahmi Fadzil begitu dangkal daya pemikirannya.
TIDAKKAH KERAJAAN MEMBANTAH JEMPUTAN YANG DIBUAT KEPADA ISRAEL OLEH PBB?
Ramai penyokong pembangkang serta mereka yang termakan hasutan pembangkang dalam isu ini bertanyakan tidakkah kerajaan membuat bantahan terhadap jemputan kepada Israel oleh PBB?
Saya petik laporan sebuah akhbar Israel, The Jerusalem Post, yang menyebut:
“Malaysia yang ternyata anti-Israel membenarkan penyertaan Israel dengan penuh marah hanya setelah Israel mengenakan tekanan diplomatik yang hebat sehingga ke pejabat Setiausaha Agung PBB, Antonio Gutteres.
Ini adalah kerana dengan menaja sebuah acara yang berkaitan dengan PBB, Malaysia menjadi suatu kewajiban bagi Malaysia terhadap PBB untuk membenarkan penyertaan dari semua negara.”
Jelas Malaysia telah berkeras untuk tidak membenarkan penyertaan Israel tetapi terpaksa akur dengan perjanjian yang telah dipersetujui.
Walau bagaimanapun, ianya berbeza bagi rakyat biasa Israel. Pada tahun 2015, Malaysia telah tidak membenarkan dua orang peluncur layar dari Israel untuk menyertai Kejohanan Pelayaran Belia Sedunia. Keputusan kerajaan ini telah dibantah bukan sahaja oleh Persatuan Layar Israel, malah oleh badan pelayaran dunia.
Pada tahun 2016, Malaysia telah enggan mengeluarkan visa bagi pasukan ping pong Israel untuk menyertai Kejohanan Ping Pong Sedunia yang telah diadakan di sini.
JADI, SIAPA YANG MENYOKONG ISRAEL?
Pada 25 Mac 1997, seramai 2,000 orang penunjuk perasaan telah berarak ke Jabatan Perdana Menteri untuk menyerahkan satu memorandum kepada Perdana Menteri ketika itu membantah keputusan kerajaan Malaysia untuk membenarkan pasukan kriket Israel untuk menyertai Kejohanan Kriket Sedunia yang dilangsungkan di Kuala Lumpur. Pada 30 Mac tahun yang sama, seramai 2,500 orang penunjuk perasaan telah menyerbu padang kriket di mana pasukan Israel dijadualkan bermain serta membakar papan-papan tanda iklan berkenaan kejohanan tersebut.
Anwar Ibrahim yang kononnya memperjuangkan Islam ketika itu, dalam sokongan terhadap bosnya berkata, sukan dan politik tidak sepatutnya dicampur-adukkan.
Pada tahun 1993, Mahathir yang ketika itu merupakan Perdana Menteri telah menulis sepucuk surat kepada Perdana Menteri Israel, Yitzhak Rabin mengenai Perjanjian Oslo I.
Ianya mungkin sukar dibaca. Jadi saya sediakan terjemahan kepada transkrip surat tersebut seperti berikut:
Encik Yitzhak Rabin
Perdana Menteri Israel
Saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih di atas surat anda pada 17 Oktober yang memaklumkan kepada saya tentang Perjanjian Prinsip dan Pengiktirafan Bersama di antara Israel dan PLO.
Kerajaan saya menyokong perkembangan positif ini dan memandangnya sebagai langkah pertama ke arah merealisasikan penyelesaian menyeluruh kepada masalah Timur Tengah. Sebagai demonstrasi sokongan Malaysia terhadap pembangunan ini negara saya telah diwakili pada Persidangan Penderma untuk menyokong Perdamaian Timur Tengah yang diadakan di Washington dan seterusnya memberikan sumbangan kewangan yang sederhana kepada rakyat Palestin untuk membantu tugas baru mereka. Kerajaan saya juga telah menawarkan bantuan teknikal untuk Palestin di bawah Program Kerjasama Teknikal Malaysia.
Sebagai perkara prinsip umum Malaysia bersedia untuk membangunkan hubungan dengan Israel pada masa yang sesuai. Dalam pada itu, kami ingin melihat kemajuan yang ketara dalam pelaksanaan perjanjian damai.
Masalah di Timur Tengah terutamanya isu Palestin telah menjadi punca ketidakstabilan di rantau tersebut dan saya berharap perjanjian yang dibuat baru-baru ini di antara Israel dan PLO akan menyumbang kepada keamanan yang kekal di kawasan itu.
Saya menanti hubungan normal dengan Israel.
DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD
Sepertimana yang terkandung di dalam dua bahagian surat tersebut, Mahathir menyatakan hasrat untuk mengadakan hubungan yang normal dengan Israel. Pada tahun 2014, Presiden Obama telah mengadakan hubungan normal dengan Cuba. Ini berakhir dengan penyambungan perhubungan diplomatik di antara kedua-dua buah negara tersebut. Mahathir telah menyatakan hasrat untuk memulakan hubungan diplomatik dengan Israel. Bahagian akhir yang digaris di bawah itu telah ditulis sendiri oleh Mahathir dengan menggunakan sebatang pen.
Berlanjutan dengan perkara tersebut, Chua Jui Meng dari PKR yang pada ketika itu merupakan Timbalan Menteri Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri berkata Israel boleh menjadi destinasi pelaburan Malaysia (Shanti Nair, Routledge, 1997 p.252).
Hasilnya, pada tahun 1999, eksport Israel ke Malaysia berjumlah USD107 juta. Pada tahun 2000, ia adalah USD732 juta, dan USD615.5 juta pada tahun berikutnya. Pada tahun 2002, laporan Kementerian Perdagangan Israel mengenai hubungan perdagangan dengan Indonesia dan Malaysia menasihatkan warga Israel yang berminat untuk menjalankan perniagaan dengan syarikat Malaysia bahawa “tiada sebarang bangkangan untuk mengadakan perhubungan perdagangan selagi ianya dibuat secara senyap-senyap“.
Di akaun Twitternya pula, Mukhriz juga menyatakan bahawa “Di atas permintaan daripada pelabur asing yang besar di sini pada tahun 1996, Kabinet mengarahkan MITI untuk meluluskan import dan eksport ke Israel.”
Kabinet tahun 1996 yang dimaksudkan adalah kabinet yang dipimpin bapanya, Mahathir Mohamad. Tulis Mukhriz lagi pada tahun 2011:
“Apabila kita meluluskan pelaburan langsung asing, bukanlah untuk kita mengenakan syarat bahawa mereka tidak boleh berdagang dengan Israel. Sesetengah pelaburan ini berjumlah berbilion Dollar di negeri-negeri di bawah Pembangkang.”
Ini bermakna negeri-negeri di bawah pentadbiran pihak pembangkang pada tahun 2011 telah menerima pelaburan langsung asing dari Israel. Pada tahun tersebut hanya tiga buah negeri yang berada di bawah pembangkang, iaitu Kelantan, Pulau Pinang dan Selangor. Dan saya tak fikir Kelantan terlibat dengan dana dari Israel.
Jadi, siapakah sebenarnya pencinta Israel yang wajib kita sanggah?
When Israeli diplomat David Roet attended a United Nations conference in Kuala Lumpur recently, the Opposition went into full swing trying to discredit the government saying that it wants to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
In a statement, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) explicitly states that the invitations to the Israeli delegates was issued by the UN as per Article III of the Host Country Agreement signed by the organisation and Malaysia so that the UN is able to conduct its conferences away from any of its established headquarters.
The Article states, in part, that the Forum shall be opened to all UN member states and its Specialised Agencies. This was confirmed by Israel’s Hadashot TV which reported that Malaysia was compelled to host the Israelis, since it was required to grant visas to all delegations in order to hold the international conference. Therefore, it is immaterial whether or not Malaysia has diplomatic relations with Israel. It is for the same reason that Fidel Castro was able to attend the UN summit in New York in 1976, 1995 and 2000.
If you walk along Jalan Zainal Abidin in Pulau Pinang which is just off Burmah Road near the Tune Hotel, you will come across an old cemetery. That is a Jewish Cemetery. Jalan Zainal Abidin was once called Jalan Yahudi or Jew Street, the only evidence that a Jewish enclave once existed on the island.
Israel first established contact with our pre-independence government in 1956 when Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett visited Malaya to propose the appointment of an Israeli consul in Malaya. Israel also voted in favour of the Malayan bid to become a UN member in 1957. Trade between the two countries was in place. This was banned in 1974, after the Yom Kippur war, but indirect trade (through third countries) was in place.
An Opposition supporter was quick to point out that according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, between 2008 and 2011 trade between the two countries fluctuated considerably. Israel’s exports to Malaysia peaked at USD798 million in 2010 while imports from Malaysia peaked in 2011 at USD93.6 million.
Although the preriod shown above shows the statistics was for the period between the end of Abdullah Badawi’s administration and the commencement of the Najib Razak administration, the flourish in trade could be traced back to the Mahathir administration. In December 1993, as a consequence of the Oslo I Accord, Mahathir wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The photo of the letter may be a bit difficult to read but I shall provide the transcript here:
PRIME MINISTER, MALAYSIA
21 December 1993
His Excellency Mr Yitzhak Rabin Prime Minister of Israel, JERUSALEM
I would like to thank you for your letter of 17 October informing me about the Agreement of Principles and Mutual Recognition between Israel and the PLO.
My government supports this positive development and views it as a first step towards the realization of a comprehensive solution to the Middle East problem. As a demonstration of Malaysia’s support to this development my country was represented at the Donor’s Conference to support The Middle East Peace held in Washington and subsequently pledged a modest financial contribution to the Palestinians to assist in their new tasks. My government has also offered the Palestinians technical assistance under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme.
Malaysia as a matter of general principle is prepared to develop relations with Israel at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we would like to see tangible progress in the implementation of the peace agreement.
The Middle East problem particularly the Palestinian issue has been a cause of instability to the region and I hope the recent agreement between Israel and PLO would contribute to lasting peace to the area.
I look forward to normal relations with Israel.
DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD
I intentionally made bold the last line because, while the rest of the content which, obviously was drafted by someone else, Mahathir wrote that bold part saying he looked forward to normal relations with Israel himself. Yes, it was handwritten.
In the most recent diplomatic history, Obama wished to have normal relations with Cuba. Diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba was subsequently restored. The following year, PKR’s Chua Jui Meng, who was the then-Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, suggested that Israel could eventually become a destination for Malaysia’s investments (Shanti Nair, Routledge, 1997 p.252).
As a result, in 1999 Israeli exports to Malaysia totalled USD107 million. In 2000, it was USD732 million, and USD615.5 million the following year. In 2002, the Israel Ministry of Industry report on trade relations with Indonesia and Malaysia advised Israelis interested in conducting business with Malaysian companies that “there is no opposition to trade and commerce relations as long as a low profile is kept“.
Discretion is essential for these companies, not just in Malaysia but also in Indonesia. Reputation and financial damage are the risks for companies in these two countries if they are known to be doing trade with Israel. According to Emanuel Shahaf, the vice chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, “There are two contradictory trends. The pro trend is that Indonesia demands more high-tech things… The negative trend is the political situation is not getting better (when it comes to Israel), in fact it’s getting worse.”
Mukhriz tweeted “Upon request from large foreign investors here, in 1996 the Cabinet instructed MITI to approve import from and export to Israel.” The relevation came as a surprise, especially as the trade ties were established during the Mahathir administration. Mahathir has been a vocal opponent of Israel and continues to project this false stand via his Perdana Leadership Foundation which openly opposes Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Najib took over from Abdullah only in 2009.
So, thank you Mahathir for his eagerness to start a diplomatic relationship with Israel in 1993.
Congratulations also to the Opposition states as they received a lot of FDI from Israeli companies. Don’t forget to thank Mukhriz for that information and confirmation.
I am sitting here waiting with my camera to try shoot the planet Jupiter and Mars in an hour’s time. Both should rise in the eastern sky at that time. The waning moon is only eight percent illuminated. In two days’ time, we shall usher in the Year of the Dog.
Talking about dogs, three days ago a maid named Adelina Lisao died at the Bukit Mertajam Hospital. There was swelling on her head and face, as well as injuries on her arms and legs.
A little over two years ago, Adelina who was from Medan, spent Rp. 225,000 (RM65.00) to do her medical check-up and paid Rp. 4,000,000 (RM1,156.00) to come over to Malaysia to work. Adelina must have come from the lower income group for her to want to leave her family in search of a better life. 28 million people like her live on average monthly earnings of Rp. 354,386 (RM103.00). Getting an average of Rp. 2.1 million (RM610.00) per month is a far better choice.
The police had attempted to record a statement from her but she was so engulfed with fear that she never spoke after she was admitted. For a month, she was abused by her employer and family, treated like a dog and was forced to sleep on the porch with a dog. When she was found by her rescuers, she did not speak. All she did was shook her head. She had burn marks on her legs and they were filled with pus.
She finally found the courage to die a day after being admitted, due to multiple organ failures. She was only 21. Her employer, brother and 60-year old mother were arrested by the police and have been remanded for investigations under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.
Nirmala Bonat – Scarred For Life
In 2008, former airline stewardess Yim Pek Ha was found guilty for three counts of causing grievous hurt to her maid Nirmala Bonat and sentenced to 12 years in jail. Pek Ha was also ordered to pay damages of RM129,147.20 to Nirmala, who hails from Kupang. Pek Ha and her husband appealed but the Appellate Court increased the cost of damages to RM349,496 instead.
Nirmala suffered burn scars on her body after five months of abuse. When she broke a mug while cleaning it, Pek Ha beat her up with a clothes hanger and threw boiling water at her. When clothes were not ironed properly, Pek Ha would take the iron from her and press it onto her back and breasts.
What have we become?
Health Is Not Wealth
We live in a world where we cannot do without a domestic helper. We also live in a world where no Malaysian would ever want to lay bricks and do dirty, dangerous and demeaning jobs like we used to back in the 1970s and earlier.
We have 1.78 million legal foreign workers working in various sectors in Malaysia as of 2017, a reduction by about 400,000 from the previous year. Indonesians have the highest number (728,870), followed by Nepalis (405,898), Bangladeshi (221,089), Myanmar (127,705), Indians (114,455), Pakistani (59,281), Filipinos (56,153), Vietnamese (29,039), Chinese (15,399) and Thais (12,603). The bulk are in the construction, agricultural and manufacturing industries.
For 10 years between 2006 and 2015, 518 foreign construction workers were killed. RM10.75 million was paid out to families of the dead as compensation. But this compensation only applies to legally-registered workers. Some four million illegal workers are at risk of not getting their body repatriated back to their home country, let alone get any form of compensation.
We often see foreign workers toiling the construction sites day and night. Smaller construction companies often rely on illegal foreign workers because they cannot afford the levy. Many of these companies are fourth of fifth level sub-contractors who do the work just to be able to survive. These companies provide their workers with sub-standard or damaged personal protection equipment, if at all.
Larger construction companies often move workers from one project site to another, depending on the demand of each phase of construction. As a result, they stretch their workers pool razor thin and workers have to do double or even triple shifts. In a high-potential near-miss incident I interviewed a worker about his rest time. All he had was two hours of sleep at night, and about half an hour during lunch breaks.
The consequence of the above is the workers often suffer from lapses. Many lose limbs or die because of these lapses. I have seen foreign workers die while resting because of heart failure. Yet, employers put them to work for more than the 12 hours permitted by law, promising them more pay per hour for the work they do beyond the permissible hours.
In 2016, the executive director of the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan was quoted to say that employers should not be blamed for the deaths of workers who “insisted to work for overtime pay”. He added that if their request to work overtime is not met, they would not come to work with the said employers. He said this in response to the comment made by HE Dr Niranjan Man Singh Basnyat, the Ambassador of Nepal to Malaysia, that 70 percent of the 461 deaths of Nepali workers in Malaysia are due to a heart attack while they were asleep (Malay Mail Online, Tuesday, 14 June 2016).
I find the excuse by Shamsuddin a lame and typical excuse often given by employers of foreign workers looking for an escape clause. The laws governing workers are there to be obeyed. These laws, however, expect employers to self-regulate, and are open to abuse. The other problem is enforcement of these laws are often very poor.
Deplorable Living Conditions
As a safety and health practitioner I used to visit work sites with my team to see the amenities made available to the workers. I used to insist that contractors provide running treated water and ensure that adequate portable toilets are provided and their scheduled maintenance done as well as a roster done up for daily cleaning of the toilets. Proper and safe designated rest areas for the workers to sit down and eat, as well as to lie down for power naps during break times had also to be made available.
I would like to specifically commend MRT Corp for providing the best living quarters for registered legal foreign workers. To enter and exit the Centralised Labour Quarters (CLQ) you need to have a valid card issued by the Construction Industry Development Board of Malaysia (CIDB) which is scanned at the autogate. Inside the CLQ, apart from the essentials they also have a surau, kitchen for workers to cook their meals, cafeteria, sports facilities, assembly area, a sundry shop and a sick bay. Each CLQ has 144 rooms and each room sleeps six.
But such living quarters cost millions to set up, and only accommodate the legal workers – way beyond what many smaller companies can afford. If the illegal workers are lucky, they would be given a rented house to stay in, usually a 3-bedroom house with two or single bathrooms – and 20 of them would be housed there, if not more. Other companies, either due to affordability or driven by profit, would just ask the workers to build their own ‘kongsi’. These kongsis have very basic amenities.
Disease if rampant. The most common that I have come across is cutaneous larva migrans. These poor souls would be scratching violently in an almost impossible task to get rid of the itch. I won’t go into the diseases that are worse.
Both the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) as well as CIDB need to play a more active role in ensuring that the laws are being followed strictly. This idea of self-regulation by employers is nothing but a farce.
What Is Wrong With Us?
These workers, legal or illegal, deserve protection from us. They are human beings, just like us, and deserve to be treated as how we would treat our own family members. Sadly, we never look at them as fellow human beings just because we pay their wages and they work for us.
In short, we have lost our humanity, we have lost our soul. Nirmala Bonat will wake up on this Chinese New Year morning looking at her horrible scars. Adelina Lisao will never wake up again – ever. Sadly, we have gone to the dogs.
Setelah didapati bersalah melanggar undang-undang, khususnya Akta Bank dan Institusi-Institusi Kewangan, 1989 (BAFIA), Rafizi terus mencari simpati dan sokongan di media sosial dengan membuat satu bebenang mengenai isu NFC di Twitter. Beberapa soalan telah diajukan oleh Rafizi untuk menerangkan kenapa beliau melanggar undang-undang tersebut. Saya akan kongsikan di sini apa yag telah dituliskan serta pendapat saya mengenai setiap persoalan yang diajukan Rafizi.
Rafizi telah memulakan dengan mengfalsafahkan perbuatannya dengan mengajukan dua soalan:
“Apakah tanggungjawab saya apabila mendapat tahu mengenai skandal NFC?”
Apakah wajar melanggar undang-undang demi menyelamatkan wang rakyat?”
Beliau menjawab soalan pertama dengan mengatakan bahawa sekiranya beliau tidak berbuat apa-apa mengenai perkara tersebut, beliau pecah amanah sebagai seorang wakil rakyat dan pemimpin politik, serta amanah yang Allah kurniakan untuk memahami isu-isu tersebut.
Larangan Hasutan dan Pecah Rahsia serta Patuh Kepada Undang-Undang menurut Islam
Beliau mengutarakan bahawa undang-undang seperti BAFIA, Akta Rahsia Rasmi, Akta Hasutan adalah undang-undang yang telah digubal dengan niat buruk untuk melindungi pesalah yang berkuasa.
Undang-undang, di mana sahaja kita berada, sama ada di sebuah negara Islam, mahupun negara yang ditadbir oleh bukan Islam, adalah wajib dipatuhi, selagi ianya tidak menyuruh kepada melanggar hukum Allah SWT.
Surah An-Nisaa’ ayat 59 menyebut:
“Wahai orang-orang yang beriman, ta’atilah Allah dan ta’atilah Rasul (Nya), dan ulil amri di antara kamu.“
Ulil Amri di sini bermaksud ibubapa jika anda masih anak yang masih bergantung kepada ibubapa; suami kepada isteri seperti mana yang diwahyukan melalui surah An-Nisaa’ ayat 34; Majikan jika anda bekerja untuknya maka wajib mematuhi peraturan dan arahan bekerja; pemimpin yang dipilih, hakim-hakim mahkamah, polis dan lain-lain pihak berkuasa sekiranya anda adalah rakyat.
Sebuah hadith Sahih Muttafaqun Alayhi Bukhari dan Muslim (Bukhari 2796/Muslim 1839 menyebut:
“Menjadi kewajipan seorang muslim mendengar dan taat dalam melakukan perintah yang disukai atau pun tidak disukai, kecuali bila diperintahkan melakukan maksiat. Bila dia diperintah melakukan maksiat, maka tidak ada kewajiban untuk mendengar serta taat.“
Akta BAFIA diwujudkan untuk memelihara rahsia-rahsia peribadi, bukan untuk melindungi orang yang salah. Sekiranya tiada akta seperti ini diwujudkan, maka kandungan akaun anda boleh didedahkan kepada sesiapa sahaja. Bukan Malaysia sahaja yang mempunyai undang-undang seperti ini, bahkan Agensi Kewangan Saudi Arabia dan lain-lain negara di dunia juga ada mempunyai undang-undang yang sedemikian.
Akta Hasutan adalah undang-undang untuk mencegah dari perbuatan atau pertuturan yang menghasut orang ramai untuk memberontak atau bangun melawan pihak berkuasa, kerajaan mahupun Raja. Perbuatan menghasut ini sekali lagi bertentangan dengan dalil-dalil di atas. Iblis telah memberontak semasa diperintah oleh Allah SWT untuk sujud terhadap Adam a.s. dan mengeluarkan kata-kata berbaur hasutan yang mempersoalkan keperluannya sebagai malaikat Allah untuk sujud kepada kejadian Allah yang diperbuat dari tanah. Akibatnya Iblis telah diusir keluar dari syurga.
Akta Rahsia Rasmi pula diadakan untuk menentukan rahsia-rahsia kerajaan Yang DiPertuan Agong tidak disebarkan sewenang-wenangnya. Bayangkan walaupun adanya Akta ini, masih ada yang tidak memegang sumpah dan ikrar yang dibuat semasa diambil bekerja. Memelihara rahsia itu adalah satu perintah Allah SWT. Surah At-Tahrim Ayat 3 mafhumnya:
“Dan ingatlah ketika Nabi membicarakan secara rahasia kepada salah seorang isterinya (Hafsah) suatu peristiwa. Maka tatkala (Hafsah) menceritakan peristiwa itu (kepada Aisyah) dan Allah memberitahukan hal itu (pembicaraan Hafsah dan Aisyah) kepada Muhammad lalu Muhammad memberitahukan sebagian (yang diberitakan Allah kepadanya) dan menyembunyikan sebagian yang lain (kepada Hafsah). Maka tatkala (Muhammad) memberitahukan pembicaraan (antara Hafsah dan Aisyah) lalu (Hafsah) bertanya: “Siapakah yang telah memberitahukan hal ini kepadamu?” Nabi menjawab: “Telah diberitahukan kepadaku oleh Allah yang Maha Mengetahui lagi Maha Mengenal“
Akibat tidak memelihara rahsia tersebut, Hafsah binti Umar r.a dan Aishah binti Abu Bakar r.a tidak didatangi Rasulullah SAW selama sebulan lamanya. Itu adalah hukuman bagi kedua-dua isteri Rasulullah SAW itu (Sahih Bukhari 5191).
Anggapan Rafizi bahawa orang yang menggunakan logik bahawa jika anda langgar undang-undang maka anda harus dihukum adalah orang-orang yang otaknya terletak dilutut juga menunjukkan betapa beliau sendiri tidak percaya kepada perintah dan ketentuan Allah SWT. Dalil-dalil di atas telah menunjukkan beberapa contoh yang dipetik dari Al-Quran dan Hadith Rasulullah SAW mengenai hukuman yang dikenakan setelah perintah dilanggar.
Begitu juga tanggapan bahawa Mahatma Gandhi itu penjenayah – manakan sama perjuangan Gandhi dengan perjuangan Rafizi. Gandhi memperjuangkan kebebasan tanah airnya dari penjajahan British. Rafizi hanya memperjuangkan popularitinya.
Ingat – sebelum 2013, Rafizi tidak mempunyai apa-apa jawatan dalam exco PKR. Isu NFC telah memberinya nama dan populariti yang telah membolehkannya bertanding di kerusi Parlimen kawasan Pandan dan menang.
Wang NFC Itu Dana?
Wang yang NFCorp gunakan itu adalah wang yang dipinjam daripada kerajaan melalui Kementerian Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani, yang ketika itu di bawah Menterinya iaitu Muhyiddin Yassin.
Yang dilaporkan oleh Jabatan Audit Negara ialah terdapat kelemahan-kelemahan dalam projek tersebut yang ditemui oleh jabatan tersebut. NFCorp telah menternak sebanyak 4,000 ekor lembu tetapi ini hanyalah merupakan 40 peratus dari jumlah yang telah disyaratkan. Maka, sebanyak 8,000 ekor lagi lembu telah dibawa masuk.
Masalah yang timbul adalah apabila Kementerian Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani tidak memenuhi syarat perjanjian mereka untuk menyediakan tempt-tempat penyembelihan berkualiti untuk eksport, serta jalan-jalan untuk ke tapak projek NFC tersebut. Ini telah menyebabkan kelewatan pada pihak NFC untuk menjalankan projek tersebut. Malah, kelewatan yang disebabkan oleh Kementerian Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani inilah yang menjadi perkara kritikal dalam laporan Jabatan Audit Negara tersebut dan bukan terhadap syarikat NFCorp.
Rafizi hanya menggunakan penyata akaun-akaun yang diperolehi dengan cara yang melanggar Akta BAFIA dan menghebahkan mengenai akaun-akaun tersebut dalam satu sidang akhbar yang diadakannya pada 12 Mac 2012. Beliau mengaitkan akaun-akaun tersebut dengan “penyelewengan” oleh NFC dan memfitnah beberapa orang dan syarikat.
Akibatnya, Rafizi telah disaman oleh NFCorp dan akibatnya didapati bersalah oleh mahkamah atas tuduhan memfitnah, dan diarahkan membayar RM300,000 kepada mereka-mereka yang telah difitnahnya. Bagaimana Rafizi membayar saman fitnahnya? Dia telah melakukan kutipan derma (crowdfunding) dengan meminta para penyokongnya membayar samannya. Beliau tidak perlu keluarkan barang satu sen pun. Kesalahan fitnahnya ditanggung oleh orang lain.
Jikalau apa yang diwar-warkan oleh Rafizi itu benar, sudah tentu dia tidak akan didapati bersalah.
Dana Telah Dilesapkan?
Rafizi juga berkata kerahsiaan bank bukan untuk melesapkan dana awam. Rafizi suka menggembar-gemburkan cerita. NFC membayar balik RM5 juta setahun termasuk faedah kepada kerajaan. Sehingga 2013, NFC telah membayar sebanyak RM34.98 juta.
Pembayaran ini terpaksa dihentikan kerana akaun mereka telah dibekukan kerajaan semasa disiasat. Siasatan oleh SPRM dan PDRM tidak menemui sebarang kesalahan yang dilakukan oleh NFC/NFCorp. Walau bagaimanapun, Pengerusi NFCorp telah dituduh melakukan jenayah pecah amanah dengan membuat pembelian hartanah untuk syarikat tersebut tanpa persetujuan lembaga pengarah. Oleh sebab bukti pihak pendakwaan tidak mencukupi, beliau telah diberi pelepasan dan pembebasan oleh mahkamah.
Jelas bahawa NFC ada membuat pembayaran balik pinjaman kepada kerajaan. Jika benar Rafizi pentingkan hak rakyat, kenapa beliau berdiam diri dalam isu pembayaran RM305 juta yang telah dibayar untuk laporan kajian kesesuaian projek terowong bawah laut Pulau Pinang tetapi sehingga kini masih belum nampak walau sehelai pun laporan tersebut walaupun telah 22 bulan berlalu?
Kenapa Rafizi Tidak Diberi Perlindungan Sebagai Pemberi Maklumat?
Rafizi menulis: “Kalau bising dalam media sahaja tidak cukup untuk sedarkan rakyat kerana bukan semua membaca laporan media. Kena masuk kampung ceramah. Kena buat video. sebab itu tidak ada cara lain: inilah caranya.”
Seksyen 6 Akta Perlindungan Pemberi Maklumat, 2010 terang-terang menyebut bahawa sesiapapun boleh membuat pendedahan mengenai kelakuan tidak wajar (salahlaku) KEPADA MANA-MANA AGENSI PENGUATKUASAAN YANG DIFIKIRKANNYA MUNASABAH DENGAN SYARAT BAHAWA PENDEDAHAN SEDEMIKIAN TIDAK DILARANG SECARA KHUSUS OLEH MANA-MANA UNDANG-UNDANG BERTULIS.
Seksyen 97(1) Akta Perbankan dan Institusi-Institusi Kewangan 1989 pula menyebut:
Rafizi telah menerima penyata akaun-akaun tersebut daripada seorang pegawai bank yang tidak diberi kebenaran oleh empunya akaun-akaun tersebut.
Rafizi kemudiannya mendedahkan penyata akaun-akaun tersebut kepada pihak media dalam sidang akhbarnya. Media bukanlah agensi penguatkuasaan yang ditakrifkan dalam Akta Perlindungan Pemberi Maklumat, 2010.
Dengan ini terang lagi bersuluh bahawa Rafizi telah melanggar undang-undang dan tidak layak diberi perlindungan sebagaimana diperuntukkan oleh Akta Perlindungan Pemberi Maklumat, 2010.
Rafizi tidak pernah hormat kepada agama Islam mahupun undang-undang. Beliau adalah merupakan seorang penghasut dan pemfitnah bersiri. Di antara siri hasutan dan fitnah beliau termasuk:
12 Januari 2013, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yang ketika itu Menteri Pertahanan telah mengemukakan saman malu ke atas Rafizi kerana menerbit artikel fitnah dalam blog beliau. Rafizi telah menurunkan artikel tersebut dan memohon maaf kepada Zahid.
22 Nov 2014, Perdana Menteri dan isteri fail saman malu dan Rafizi balas dengan mengatakan fitnah beliau itu ‘hanya gurauan’ kerana memfitnah subsidi minyak masuk ke dalam akaun Perdana Menteri dan isteri untuk membeli cincin baru. Fitnah beliau tersebut terus dipercayai sehingga ke hari ini dan telah memberi kerosakan teruk kepada imej Datin Seri Rosmah.
Januari 2016, Rafizi didenda RM1,800 oleh mahkamah kerana mencetus ketegangan agama Islam-Kristian dengan memfitnah mengatakan ahli UMNO telah membaling bom petrol ke gereja.
Rafizi juga telah menabur fitnah kononnya Tabung Haji sudah kehabisan wang sebab dana Tabung Haji telah dirompak. Akhirnya, kerana percayakan fitnah tersebut, 3,954 pendeposit menutup akaun tabung haji manakala 3,105 telah membatalkan pendaftaran untuk menunaikan ibadah haji.
Rafizi juga menabur fitnah dengan mendakwa kos projek MRT sebanyak RM21billion bagi laluan sepanjang 21km sedangkan ianya untuk laluan sepanjang 51km.
Pada bulan Oktober 2016, Rafizi diarah membayar RM300,000 oleh mahkamah kerana memfitnah NFC mengenai pembelian hartanah.
Pada bulan November 2016, Rafizi didenda RM1,950 oleh mahkamah kerana himpunan haram “Blackout 505”.
Pada bulan November 2016 juga Rafizi dihukum penjara 18 bulan oleh mahkamah kerana melakukan kesalahan di bawah Akta Rahsia Rasmi.
Pada penghujung bulan November 2016, Rafizi telah diminta bertaubat oleh Abdul Hadi Awang kerana memfitnah PAS menerima dana 1MDB.
Inilah Rafizi yang masih diagung-agungkan oleh mereka yang tenggelam dalam kebencian yang tidak berasas. Kalau ada pun asas yang didakwa mereka, asas tersebut hanyalah berlandaskan pembohongan dan penipuan semata-mata tanpa usul periksa.
Rafizi menulis: “Hakim saya ialah Allah. Hanya hukumanNya yang saya benar-benar peduli, bukan hakim-hakim lain.”
Begitulah Rafizi cuba menunjukkan betapa alimnya beliau. Perintah Allah dilanggarnya, undang-undang diketepikannya. Kini, beliau cuba memperdayakan ramai dengan imej alim. Tak ubah seperti para perogol yang memakai songkok atau kopiah apabila dihadapkan ke mahkamah.
Biarlah Rafizi mengelembukan diri sendiri. Jangan terikut dilembukan olehnya. Ingat firman Allah SWT dalam surah Al-Buruuj ayat 10:
““Sesungguhnya orang-orang yang mendatangkan fitnah kepada orang-orang mukmin lelaki dan perempuan, kemudian mereka tidak bertaubat, maka bagi mereka azab Jahannam dan bagi mereka azab (neraka) yang sangat pedih.”
In June 1969, a month after the 13 May tragedy, Mahathir wrote a letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman and began it with the following sentence:
“Patek berasa dukachita kerana tujuan patek membuat kenyataan kepada akhbar telah di-salah faham oleh Y.T.M. Tunku. Sa-benar-nya tujuan patek sama-lah juga dengan tujuan Tunku, ia-itu untok menyelamatkan negara ini daripada bahaya yang menganchamkan-nya.”
The Tunku’s popularity was at an all-time low. He had lost control over the issues that were dogging the population and had allowed that to spiral into a nationwide communal violence. Mahathir saw that as an opportunity to finally conclude a personal battle against the Tunku that had begun 27 years earlier, and end the latter’s political career.
That letter earned the Tunku’s wrath. Mahathir was expelled from UMNO. Seeing that the end is nigh, the Tunku chose to step down a day after his nephew, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, was sworn in as the Yang DiPertuan Agong.
Mahathir was brought back into UMNO’s folds by the Tunku’s successor, Tun Abdul Razak, with the recommendation by Selangor Menteri Besar, Harun Idris. When Razak died in January 1976, his cousin Hussein moved up and Mahathir became his deputy.
In 1981, Hussein had had to go for a coronary bypass surgery at the Harley Street Clinic in London. Mahathir saw this as an opportunity to have Hussein out of the way. In a post taken from Tian Chua’s Malaysia Chronicles, it is said that the DAP mysteriously received documents alleging that Hussein’s wife, Suhaila, was running Petronas from their residence in Sri Taman (now Memorial Tun Razak). There were also documents alleging that Exxon was stealing oil from Malaysian oilfields without Petronas’s knowledge.
In the same article, it was reported that it was Mahathir himself who started a rumour when Hussein was seeking treatment in London saying that the latter had a “terrible heart condition” and would be stepping down as Prime Minister upon his return from London “for health reasons”.
Purging of Cabinet Members and Interference in the Judiciary
After Hussein was gone, Mahathir had to remove other obstacles. The biggest obstacle was in the form of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. The ‘Team A’ versus ‘Team B’ rivalry saw Mahathir being returned after beating Razaleigh 761 votes to 718, Mahathir took further steps to eradicate Razaleigh’s influence by purging all Team B members from his cabinet.
This led to 12 Team B members to bring the matter to the High Court alleging that 78 of the delegates had been selected by branches not registered with the Registrar of Societies, and as a result were not eligible to vote. They also claimed that certain documents related to the election had been “tampered with”. Although Razaleigh was not among the twelve plaintiffs, he was widely believed to be funding and co-ordinating the suit
As a result, Justice Harun Hashim declared UMNO “an unlawful society” in 1987, but it took Mahathir, who was also the Home Minister then, just two weeks to have UMNO (Baru) registered – a process that would have taken months, if not years. The Registrar of Societies come under the Home Minister’s purview after all.
Mahathir did not take Harun Hashim’s judgment lightly. In an attack on the judiciary, he had several judges, including Harun Hashim, reassigned to other divisions. Salleh Abas, who was the Lord President of the Supreme Court, was pressured to convene a meeting with 20 Supreme Court and High Court judges where they agreed that the Lord President should write to the Yang DiPertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers expressing their grievances against Mahathir’s interference in the Judiciary.
Being the opportunist that he is, Mahathir knew that the then-Yang DiPertuan Agong was not in favour with Salleh Abas, over an issue about the noises that came from the construction of His Majesty’s private house which was in Salleh Abas’s neighbourhood, took advantage of the situation to agree with the Yang DiPertuan Agong that Salleh be removed.
A tribunal was set up. Five Supreme Court judges were removed – Tan Sri Azmi Kamaruddin, Tan Sri Eusoffe Abdoolcader, Tan Sri Wan Hamzah Mohamed Salleh, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah. With the Supreme Court suspended, the challenge toward the legality of the tribunal could not be heard.
Salleh Abas was removed as the Lord President. Soon after, two other Supreme Court judges were also removed. They were Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman and Datuk George Seah.
Removal of Dissent via Ops Lalang
In 1987, tensions between the Malays and Chinese were high, partly as a result of Anwar Ibrahim’s education policies in particular the replacing of Chinese-educated assistant headmasters of Chinese schools with those unversed in Chinese language (Mandarin) On 5 September 1987, Lim Kit Siang had to send a wire to Anwar Ibrahim asking him to stop all transfers until the issue had been resolved. What did Mahathir do? Absolutely nothing to appease both sides.
Within a month, the tensions turned ugly and the threat of another 13 May loomed. The police had to take drastic action by executing Ops Lalang. A list of troublemakers and potential trouble makers were drawn up in a meeting between senior police officers in Fraser’s Hills, away from the eyes of the public, and when the danger of a racial clash was imminent, the police arrested those shortlisted.
The police did not have to seek the blessing from the Home Minister (who was Mahathir then) to conduct the arrests. However, the police would have to brief the Home Minister on the person(s) arrested. According to the now defunct Internal Security Act, 1960, only the Home Minister could sign a detention order to put a person behind bars without trial for a period not exceeding two years, IF THE HOME MINISTER IS SATISFIED WITH THE REASONS FOR ARREST. If not, they should be released.
And only the Home Minister was given the power to review the detention of a person, and extend the detention period for a period not exceeding two years each time. Not the police.
Turning the Brits into Suckers
The UK economy was in a bad shape back in the 1980s. Mahathir took the opportunity to strike at the UK by starting the ‘Buy British Last’ campaign in order to launch the infamous “Dawn Raid”. It was a time when Thatcher was trying to tackle high inflation. She tightened up her fiscal policy and aimed at reducing inflation by increasing taxes and interest rates, and cut spendings. As a result, the British government decided to increase foreign students’ fees by threefolds, from around £300 to £900. That was one of the reasons for the “Dawn Raid”.
In the end, it was an excuse to get the already weakened British government to provide financial aid to Malaysia in what is now known as the ‘Pergau Dam Affair‘. According to UK’s The Independent, Thatcher’s determination ‘to bat for Britain’ led her to agree to a huge development aid package as part of an arms deal which she negotiated during a visit to Kuala Lumpur in September 1988. The deal, at that time involving the sale of Tornado jet fighters, artillery, radar, submarines and Rapier missiles, was so sensitive that civil servants were banished from the room during the final stages of the negotiation.
The original Tornado jets deal, worth more than £1 billion, was cancelled when Mahathir decided to buy instead 18 MiG-29N fighters from Russia and eight F/A-18 Hornet fighters from the US. The deal with Britain was reduced to a mere £400 million sale of 28 BAe Hawk 108s and 208s.
More Treacheries In The 1990s
In 1986, Mahathir persuaded the docile Ghafar Baba to become his deputy. This move was to appease those who were against him in UMNO, and was made of want to be seen to welcome some form of neutrality. But really Anwar was his choice for a deputy. But Anwar was still “too young” then in political terms. Furthermore, Ghafar pledged his loyalty to Mahathir – a weakness that Mahathir exploited very well.
In 1993, Anwar was ready to take on the seasoned Ghafar Baba. When asked why did he not fight back, Ghafar had this to say:
“I had no means to fight, no money. Also, I did not want to attack Anwar then. How could I? We were in the same party. It would have only benefited the Opposition. My mistake was I did not see that politics had changed. In the past, they supported you based on your track record. Now it’s something else –this money politics.”
What did Mahathir do to stop Anwar from attacking Ghafar? As usual, nothing.
Anwar Ibrahim’s meteoric rise to the No.2 spot made him a very popular man especially with the youth. Many were already disenfranchised with Mahathir who not only by then had been in power for 12 years, but had two deputies removed before Anwar.
Soon, Anwar’s popularity became a threat to Mahathir. When the Asian Economic Crisis caused a financial meltdown, Mahathir allowed it to go on. On 3 December 1997, a cabinet meeting was held in Langkawi. Mahathir got a shock when, upon arrival, seeing that the meeting had been chaired by Anwar and had already been concluded. The cabinet members had decided to adopt an austerity plan similar to those imposed on neighbouring Thailand and Indonesia by the International Monetary Fund. The plan would cut public spending and halt infrastructure projects championed by Mahathir.
Mahathir agreed to go along with the cabinet’s decision. However, the very next day he announced that he would proceed with a controversial USD2.7 billion rail and pipeline project, effectively shooting down the cabinet decision. That sent alarms to investors and caused the Malaysian Ringgit to tumble to a new low.
As Prime Minister, Mahathir did nothing to arrest the fall of the Ringgit. At one point in January 1988, the Ringgit was traded at RM4.88 to the USD. Anwar being the impatient Anwar, launched a veiled attack on Mahathir with his “cronyism, nepotism” war-cry. Mahathir was then handed on a silver platter two reasons to get rid of Anwar.
The Opportunistic Hyena Now
Observers commented that Mahathir now spits at the sky. When his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made errors of political judgment and received salvoes of fire from the Opposition, Mahathir saw that his successor may not win the 12th general elections – an event that would not augur well with Mahathir. Furthermore, Abdullah refused to interfere in the Federal Court’s decision to quash the sodomy conviction against Anwar. Anwar would then be released and was free to launch attacks on his former boss.
When Najib Razak was being attacked over the 1MDB issue, Mahathir thought that there was no way that the former would be able to explain himself. Naturally, the Barisan Nasional could even lose the next general elections. In the run up to the 13th General Elections, the Opposition promised that they would bring Mahathir to trial for his sins as the 4th Prime Minister. If BN loses, Mahathir would be sitting duck.
Being the opportunistic political hyena, Mahathir launched an all-out attack on Najib. At one point, political observers were very sure that Najib was going to crumble. However, when Najib fought back and started to gain grounds, Mahathir was left with no choice but to align himself with the very people he sent to prison without trial.
Mahathir’s fear has always been of being prosecuted in a court of law for corrupt practices during his tenure as the Prime Minister. He needs a strong Prime Minister who could protect him. By getting on the wrong side of Najib, he had lost all the protection he could get from the BN government. His solution was to form an alliance with his enemies, form a political party and join the Pakatan coalition. At least if Pakatan wins the next elections, he would be protected.
But at the back of his mind he knew that someone in Pakatan might turn his or her back on him and decide that he should stand trial for corruption – and that the billions his family owns would be frozen and confiscated. Therefore, he made his other move – be Pakatan’s Prime Minister-designate. All he needs is about two years if he lives that long, to escape the law.
As for now, Mahathir would say just about anything to show his relevancy, and to plead to the voters to accept him as their Prime Minister again – just as how his long-time friend Robert Mugabe has decided to form his own political party. It does not matter how damaging his words may be to the country, as long as he gets to fullfil his personal mission.
This brings me to remember the time when the Tunku launched attacks on Mahathir. Anwar Ibrahim was interviewed on the matter by foreign journalists. Anwar said the Tunku is a voice of the past, speaking for a style of politics that no longer exists. ”A grand old man who has done his bit,” he said to the journalists ”But I don’t know if he’s even conscious of what he is saying.”
We don’t know what Mahathir the Hyena is saying either.
I see several Sarawak-related pages claiming that no one, including the mainstream media, cares or has given coverage to the flood situation in Sarawak.
Comparing the response both the government and non-governmental organisations gave to the floods on Kelantan and Pahang to the ones now in Sarawak, the Sarawak-related pages say that there is very little that is being done by the Federal Government.
All Federal Government agencies in Sarawak have been put on flood watch standby as early as December 2017. This includes, but not limited to, the Army 1st Division, the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), and the Fire and Rescue Services Department (FRSD).
The FRSD has been evacuating people from flooded areas, and in one particular instance, evacuated Suriah Bakar, 35, of Kampung Parong, Kota Marudu, who was in labour.
Prime Minister Najib Razak himself is constantly monitoring the flood situation in Sarawak and has promised to ensure that relief reaches all flood victims.
As at noon today (Thursday 8 Feb 2018), only five areas in three divisions in Sarawak have recorded water level above the Alert level. They are in the Miri, Bintulu and Kapit districts.
Only the Bintulu-Belaga road in Bintulu, and Long Jegan and Long Panai in Miri have water levels that are above the Danger level, while Ng Merurung in Kapit and Kuala Binyo in Bintulu have water levels that are above the Alert level.
The areas that are affected by the floods are Samarahan. Sarikei, Sibu, Serian, Bintulu, Mukah and Limbang.
While the Borneo Post has been actively updating the flood situations in Sarawak, Sarawakians complain that the Peninsular-based media, especially the electronic media, have not been giving ample coverage.
This is absolutely not true. Just yesterday I pointed to a Sarawakian friend URLs of mainstream media reports on the flood situations there, including the ones by NST, Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia.
BERNAMA and RTM have been airing the plight of Sarawak flood victims. Even the station most hated by the Opposition, TV3, has been consistently reporting on the flood situations in Sarawak, covering flood relief centers as well as the latest evacuation operation this morning by the Civil Defence Force (APM) involving a woman in labour at Klinik Entabai, in Julau, Sarikei.
Social Media and Floods Fever
As far as social media is concerned, there is very little that the ordinary Semenanjung folks can do. While we can start collection centers here, sending stuff over there would not be economical at all.
Whilst there have been many flooding in the Peninsular, I made myself available for three – the Johor floods of 2006-2007, the Pahang floods of 2013, and the Kelantan floods of 2014. Those were the flood disasters that Peninsular people got together and helped government agencies to provide assistance to flood victims.
In Johor, I provided assistance between Parit Botak and Rengit. In Pahang, I assisted Her Highness the Tengku Puan Pahang in the Kuantan and Pekan areas. In Kelantan, my former classmates and I brought supplies from Putrajaya to the hospitals in Gua Musang, Kuala Krai and Jeli.
In Johor back in 2006-2007, two waves of floods hit the state. In the first wave, 90,000 people were evacuated. Just when they thought it was safe to return home, a second wave struck and caused 109,831 people to evacuate.
In 2013 Pahang, 40,819 people were evacuated.
In 2014 Kelantan, more than 170,000 had to be evacuated. The scale of destruction that I saw with my own eyes in Gua Musang, Manek Urai and Kuala Krai was just beyond comprehension. Even Kuala Muda in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami did not look as bad. Yes, I was there too in 2004 with a Malaysia Airlines aircraft captain friend (he now flies for Air Asia).
I took the above photo at Kampung Bukit Tebuk near Chiku while on the way from Kuala Krai to Gua Musang on 31 December 2014 because I saw this man at the Manek Urai relief center queuing for food for his family earlier in the morning. At this point he had walked 14 kilometres to get home.
Pulau Pinang in November 2017 saw 71,294 people evacuated. This was when Lim Guan Eng was seen crying for help…literally.
In comparison, the total number of evacuees in Sarawak as of last night was 4,859 people. It is a number that is still very manageable by the state government and its NGOs.
I have not seen any NGO in Sarawak running a donation campaign to collect cash and kind for flood victims there. If there is such a fund I am sure people in Malaya (a term fondly used by Sarawakians for Peninsular people which isn’t a nice term) would be glad to chip in. After all, I have relatives in Samarahan, Kuching, Miri, and friends working on the Pan Borneo Highway project that are affected by the floods.
Nor do I see throngs of 4X4 vehicles (which happens to be in abundance in Sarawak) carrying relief items to affected areas like it was done in the Peninsular.
How can anyone start anything if the Sarawakians themselves don’t do anything for fellow Sarawakians? I promise not to ask how many Sarawakians actually donated to flood victims and relief missions in Kelantan, Pulau Pinang, Johor and Pahang. To where should we Malayans send our donations to?
So, the feverish pace you saw in the Peninsular was because of the magnitude of the floods and the destruction they caused. The absence of any social media hype by socmed practitioners in Sarawak on the flood situation says all that.
I am not saying that the flood situation in Sarawak is not bad. Any flood is bad. But it doesn’t do justice when people sit and complain about it on social media expecting to be spoon fed. Just start something instead of whining. There are many here on this side of the South China Sea who would want to help.
Jomo, who is Visiting Senior Fellow at Khazanah Research Institute, said that what Malaysia needs now is more appropriate development expenditure, not yet more operating expenditure, especially for the PMO, which has grown more than tenfold and has centralised power like never before.
According to the article, the PMO was allocated RM17.43 billion in Budget 2018, almost double the RM8.938 billion it received in 2008.
The Prime Minister’s Office or the Prime Minister’s Department?
The Visiting Fellow at Khazanah Research Institute apparently finds it difficult to distinguish between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Department.
According to Budget 2018, RM17.43 billion was allocated to the Prime Minister’s Department, and not the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Prime Minister’s Office is only one of 56 agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department.
I don’t know what was Jomo also trying to imply by saying that the PMO has more centralised power like never before.
Since the budget is for the PMD and not the PMO, the centralised power and authority to spend the budget comes under the Chief Secretary to the Government of Malaysia, who is appointed by the Yang DiPertuan Agong.
Major agencies under the Prime Minister’s Department include the 7,000-strong Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, the 3,000-strong Civil Defence Force as well as the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM).
All these agencies have been tasked to look after our security and well-being.
In 2008, there was no MMEA nor was there the ESSCOM.
The MMEA, for example, has since added more capable blue-water assets to replace its ageing heritage assets handed down from other agencies such as the Royal Customs Department, Royal Malaysian Police, Royal Malaysian Navy and the Fisheries Department.
The heritage assets’ average age was 30 years old and consisted mainly of coastal and brown-water assets.
ESSCOM has also added more assets such as surface-search radar, build installations for security units to operate from, to combat border incursions by illegal immigrants as well as by terrorist groups.
The Malaysian Civil Defence Force, or Angkatan Pertahanan Awam Malaysia (APM), has gone on a massive recruitment drive and assets procurement.
With a permanent force of only 3,000 there is not enough of them to go around in the case of an emergency or disaster.
It was reported that in Kuala Kangsar, there is only one permanent APM staff who is the ambulance driver when responding to an accident or other emergency medical cases, and is also the coxswain for the rescue boat when there are floods.
Surely the men and women of the agencies I mentioned above also deserve a raise when due.
Then there is of course, the Parliament.
The budget for Parliament also comes under the Prime Minister’s Department, in case Jomo is not aware of that.
Operating costs, staffing costs, allowances and pensions for current and former members of Parliament come from the Prime Minister’s Department.
So, when your MP walks out of a debate or does not attend bills voting sessions, don’t ask why is the government spending unnecessarily.
Ask why is the government paying for your lazy MP. Ask also why was your MP a one-term MP, and why is there so many one-term MPs especially from the Opposition.
And please also ask why is the government still spending on the secretariats of two former Prime Ministers – one who made so much noise when the government reduced the budget allocated for his staff, while he goes around running down the current government as well as the country.
Debts? Can’t We Pay?
Jomo, described as a prominent economist in the article, also mentioned about the fast-rising government debt which is now hitting almost RM700 billion (USD178 billion).
He said that the mega-projects that are now being constructed have added to the burden of debt that Malaysia has to shoulder.
While it is true that our debt is actually at RM687 billion, domestic debt is at RM492 billion (or 72 percent of total debt) while external debt is at RM195 billion (28 percent).
Our International reserves stand at RM417 billion. I am looking at the latest report issued last week by the Bank Negara Malaysia.
But you do not just look at debt to know how we are performing economically.
Our debt to GDP ratio is at 53.2 percent, down from 54.5 percent the previous year, year-on-year.
So Jomo is off the target when he said the government is not addressing its debt issue.
Market consensus of our GDP expansion was at 5.4 percent. Yet, it was at 6.2 percent year-on-year in September 2017, making our economy one of the most robust expanding economy.
Private consumption increased by 7.2 percent in the same reporting period where Malaysian spend mostly on food, communication, housing and facilities.
So how is that possible if the economy is not doing well? Our exports grew by 12 percent; manufacturing sector rose 7 percent; services rose 6.6 percent; construction 6.1 percent.
At 53.2 percent debt to GDP ratio, it means that the government is still able to pay off its debts.
As a comparison, Japan’s debt to GDP ratio is 250 percent; the US is at 106 percent; France is at 96 percent while the UK is at 89 percent.
Among ASEAN nations, Singapore has the highest debt to GDP ratio which is at 112 percent. Any country that has its debt to GDP ratio exceeding 100 percent means that it has debts more than it could make money.
But do we hear anyone from the countries mentioned above complain?
Every day we hear of ill-informed Malaysians complaining that our country is in such huge debt that the country will soon be in ruins.
Selective statements by the likes of Jomo is not helping the situation. And it certainly does not help especially when his statement was intentionally directed at the Prime Minister’s Office, and not the Prime Minister’s Department where the budget was given.
Perhaps, it was malice on his part to intentionally and falsely painting the wrong picture, to make the Prime Minister look bad.
Or perhaps it was the editor of the said portal who spun Jomo’s statement to make it look as if Jomo implied that it was the PMO instead of the PMD.
Either way, Jomo’s intentional or unintentional non-mention of the debt-to-GDP ratio shows the bad blood he has with the Najib administration.