Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Who owns the Johor Causeway?

Malaysiakini, News
Who owns the Johor Causeway?
Jun 14, 06 12:37pm

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been seeing red over the past months after his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi decided to scrap the ‘half bridge’ project.

The incensed Mahathir claimed that Malaysia has every right to build the bridge on its side and there was no need to pander to the objections raised by Singapore.

However, history books, according to an expert, suggested otherwise.

In a report today, national news agency Bernama said that credible evidence are found in historical documents to show that Malaysia might not have the absolute right to dismantle the causeway.

These documents include Hikayat Johor ke-2 (1951), published by Johor Government Printing Office and Sejarah Johor (1971) published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Zaaba Abdul Samad, a local historian who specialises in Johor history, said evidence gathered from the historical documents suggested that Malaysia might not be the sole owner of the causeway.

Vague question

"The question of ownership (of Johor Causeway) is still vague because there are historical documents which state that Singapore also paid the cost of constructing the road and sidewalk along the causeway.

"This is clearly stated in a book entitled Hikayat Johor ke-2. Page 244 of the book details the cost and construction of the railway line, road and sidewalk along the causeway," he said.

The book was authored by Mej Mohd Said Sulaiman, who was the private secretary of the then Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim.

According to the book, construction of the Johor Causeway started on April 24, 1920. Originally, the causeway was only meant to cater for the railway line but later a road and sidewalk were added in.

The book states that the Johor government financed the railway line which cost RM12.285 million, but wanted Singapore to share the cost of the road and sidewalk which amounted to RM4.735 million.

The Sultan of Johor and Johor general advisor negotiated the matter with the Singapore government in London.

Johor finally agreed to pay RM3.178 million and the balance to be paid by Singapore before the causeway was declared open on July 24, 1924.

Another book entitled Sejarah Johor also throws into question the ownership issue of the Johor Causeway.

Its author Buyong Adil wrote that "the 3,456 foot-long causeway" took about four years to complete and both Johor and Singapore had legal rights to it.

Zaaba said although the books could not be regarded as a form of "valid agreement" between Johor and Singapore, they could still be used as evidence in the court of law if there were any dispute on the causeway's ownership.

I just received this email from a friend and thought it'll be a good idea to post it as a reference here.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

UMNO Started May 13 Riots?

Can students say Umno started May 13 riots?
Malaysiakini, News
Jul 19, 06 4:01pm

Can students in the ethnic relations class argue that it was Umno or Gerakan which caused the May 13, 1969 racial riots?

Can they quote the nation’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman who implied that certain elements in Umno were responsible for the incident?

Or can they cite the then Australian deputy high commissioner, WB Prichett, who noted: “...there can be no doubt that Umno was solely responsible for the riots. Its members ran the communal campaign or allowed it to happen.”

These were the questions raised by Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang in response to Higher Education Minister Mustapa Mohamed.

Yesterday, the minister, who defended a contentious book on the ethnic relations subject, said students who disagreed with the contents could debate it during class.

“Is Mustapa serious in suggesting that in the ethnic relations class, students will have full freedom to argue about who started the May 13 riots...?” asked Lim, a veteran DAP leader.

The book published by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) had drawn flak for, among others, blaming DAP for the racial riots and the anti-social attitude of Indian youths as a contributing factor for the 2001 Kg Medan incident.

It also labelled a Chinese lobby group’s call for a non-discriminative affirmative action policy as being ‘extremist’.

Experts and concerned groups warned that the book would burn rather than build bridges among the various communities.

A jinxed post?

Lim also took the higher education minister to task for describing the book as a guidebook and not a textbook.

“It is the height of irresponsibility on Mustapa’s part to try and minimise the gravity of the issue by claiming that it was only a ‘guidebook’ ignoring the fact that it was sold to UPM students since the start of its semester this January for RM9 a copy, or RM6 for a photostated copy,” he said.

On a more sarcastic note, Lim wondered whether the higher education minister post was jinxed.

“Is the post jinxed where the minister easily loses independent judgment, national perspective and sense of right and wrong causing enormous embarrassment to the government, prime minister and nation in international academic circles?” he asked.

According to Lim, Mustapa had made the same mistake in five months which his predecessor Dr Shafie Salleh took more than a year to make - “to defend the utterly indefensible”.

The opposition leader noted that the minister took office with the highest hopes and best wishes from all those concerned about higher education.

“Mustapa should salvage his totally inept handling of the controversy before it is too late,” he warned.

Seditious claim

In a related development, DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh said it was wrong for the minister to insist that the government stood by its stand that the incidents listed in the book were correct.

“Blaming the DAP for the racial riots on May 13, 1969 is not only not factual, but is also clearly seditious,” he added in a statement today.

Karpal also urged the Inspector-General of Police Mohd Bakri Omar to direct one of his officers to file a report on the matter and probe the case.

He said the police must investigate if the book had contravened the Sedition Act.

So, the infamous May 13 racial riots were started and used/quoted frequently by some parties to gain political mileage!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Dr Mahathir Vs Prime Minister Abdullah

Anwar: A plot to bring back Dr M
Arfa'eza A Aziz, Malaysiakini
Jul 18, 06 1:36pm

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Anwar Ibrahim said the on-going attack against Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi could be a plot to bring former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad back to the helm.

“I don't preclude the possibility of a plan that this huge challenge is to bring back Mahathir...,” said the former deputy prime minister in an exclusive interview with malaysiakini.

“Remember, the whole basis of his (Mahathir's) criticism is not one or two policies but that the leadership has lost its focus.

“(Mahathir is contending that) the Malays cannot feel secure under the present leadership. He is contending that (under the current leadership) our (the Malays') interests are not protected and that interests have been sold to a foreign country and in particular to the Singapore.

“Certainly there is a racist connotation there or the message is that the Chinese (continue to be a threat)... and therefore you need a strong leader (Mahathir) to make amends and to chart a clear policy to protect the interests of this country before surrendering to whomever, and in this case, (deputy prime minister) Najib (Razak).”

However, Anwar conceded this could be an unlikely scenario as hurling criticisms against Abdullah would not be sufficient to bring about such a drastic outcome.

“I spoke to some of his (Mahathir’s) strong supporters or aides ... and they seemed very optimistic, encouraged by the resounding support given, including by some opposition leaders. But I think it is not really realistic to expect that Umno members are going to turn up in big numbers against Abdullah.”

Rough turbulence ahead

However, Mahathir nevertheless has the capacity to cause problems for Abdullah, whom Anwar predicts would be facing “rough turbulence” in months ahead.

“I think it is going to be a sustained and concerted effort on his (Mahathir's) part. And he has some supporters not only among the veterans but also at Umno's grassroots level. And they (Mahathir and his supporters) have the resources... they have hundreds and millions of ringgit at their disposal.”

Mahathir, who is currently on an overseas vacation until July 22, has been scathing in his criticism of the government for, among others, scrapping the ‘crooked bridge’ project to replace the Causeway to Singapore.

He has also questioned Abdullah's decisions pertaining to national car manufacturer Proton and the discrepancies in the issuance of Approved Permits. Mahathir had on one occasion wondered aloud if he had made the wrong choice in naming Abdullah as his successor.

Anwar however did not expect Najib to mount a challenge against Abdullah.

“He is never known to have strong views. We would probably have to consult (Najib's wife) Rosmah on her views too… but I don't foresee this sort of challenge,” he quipped.

But he said Najib's statements of support for the premier has been "far from convincing".

Racism against Singapore

In the two-hour interview last week at the malaysiakini office in Bangsar Utama, Anwar also alleged that Umno, which he was once part of, had amassed a cash horde of RM8 billion.

He said this was done through an opaque system of Umno-linked tycoons and companies holding the money on behalf of the party.

Anwar also noted that there was a tinge of racism in Mahathir's criticisms against the Singapore government, especially on the crooked bridge issue.

“This is Singapore, our neighbour - setting aside that it is a difficult neighbour - but still the subtle racist undertones to my mind is very irresponsible on his (Mahathir's) part,” said Anwar, who served as deputy prime minister for almost six years before he was unceremoniously sacked by Mahathir over allegations of corruption and sexual misdemeanour.

“Not only (he raised the issue of) nationalism but (he) also (spoke) against the Chinese and Singapore (whom he claimed are) trying to act tough against the Malay leadership and that they (the Chinese leadership in Singapore) should be taught a lesson.”

A friend emailed the above article to me which I think could explain Dr M's motive for bad-mouthing his successor.

Dr M could have kicked himself silly for not grooming his sons to succeed him and at the same time clinging onto power under some fancy titles.

Monday, July 10, 2006

An Intolerant Government

The response of Ms K. Bhavani, Press Secretary to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, to Mr Brown’s article, "S'poreans are fed, up with progress!” is a poignant reminder that no one party should stay in power for too long (40 years is definitely too long) or be given absolute power.

After 40 years of almost absolute power, the PAP has become extremely allergic to criticism.

At first it was against the opposition from political opponents with different ideologies. When ideologies were no longer the issues, it then objected to the style of opposition - confrontational, hooligan-like, etc. Subsequently, it couldn’t even stand objective, rational and well-intentioned discourse on the public life of the nation. It said that there were sensitive areas which were out of bound, or alternatively known as OB markers. And now with the censuring of Mr Brown, it seems to be trying to pre-empt all forms of civic participation by Singaporeans.

The PAP should take note that if it continues to deny the people of any civic participation, they would lose their sense of ownership of the country. Some of them may leave the country while those who stay would not put in their best performance. This would undermine the nation and the PAP may eventually not have any nation to lead at all.