Weekly News Monitor: 7th July, 2008

No Escape From National Service

Those who had previously requested deferment from national service to complete their studies must now notify the NS Department of their whereabouts. These 21,000 youths will sooner or later have to report for training. According to the National Service Act, until they reach the age of 35, individuals can still be called back for NS. The names of another 5,000 youths who did not report for NS training when called upon have been given over to the police and may face possible police action. In devulging this, NS Department director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kecil also said that some 992 youths who were selected for the forthcoming third batch of training have been granted a deferment because of medical reasons. Some 279 of them have been found to suffer from asthma while others are having severe migraine, gastritis and blood pressure problems. In a further move to assuage the anxieties of parents, for the forthcoming batch of training, all 85 NS camps will have open day every two weeks to enable parents to meet up with their children.

ACA’s Performance Below Par

Of the 71,558 cases reported to the Anti-Corruption Agency between 2000-2006, only 7,223 or 10.1% have been investigated to date. Out of these 7,223 cases, only 2,905 people or 4.1% have been arrested, 1,287 or 1.8% were charged or prosecuted, and only 524 or 0.7% were actually convicted. In revealing this, Pemudah co-chairman Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon said that according to World Bank statistics, up to four percent of the country’s growth rate could be undermined by corrupt practices. This would be translated to a loss of RM10 billion. Pemudah has been set up by the government as a special task force to facilitate business. In contrast to ACA’s performance, Yong pointed to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in Hong Kong saying that for the same period, 2000-2006, ICAC investigated 21,649 or 77.2% of the 28,057 reported resulting in 6,321 or 29.2% arrests. According to Yong, whereas the Hong Kong government spends close to RM40 per capita, Malaysia only spends a mere RM5 per capita on anti-corruption efforts.

NGO’s May Get More Money

In an apparent recognition that NGO’s in the country have expanded over the years reaching out to a lot of Malaysians in their services especially to the lower income group, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop hinted that the federal government may be planning to allocate more funds to them in the coming year’s budget. He said that NGO’s already have the infrastructure and network in place and therefore it would make good sense for the government to tap on their delivery systems to reach the public. Acknowledging that the government might not have given NGO’s a significant enough role in the past, it was now realising that the contributions of NGO’s could be better utilised to benefit the people.

Critical Illness Cases Among Teachers On The Rise

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) has said that there has been an upward trend in teachers contracting critical illnesses. According to its statistics, NUTP said that from just 75 cases in 2004, 100 in 2005, 106 in 2006 and 125 in 2007, in January-June 2008 alone, already 38 cases of critical illnesses have been reported among its members and insurance claims which was paid out amounted to RM2.1 million. NUTP attributed this rise in critical illnesses to increasing workload and work-related stress. In this respect, NUTP urges that stern action should be taken against state and district-levels officers who failed to properly implement the Public Sector Manpower Training Policy.

Anwar alleges black-eye case evidence falsified

The Sun reported on July 1 that Anwar Ibrahim had lodged a police report alleging that several senior government officials were involved in fabricating evidence in the 1998 black-eye case. The report alleged, among others, that:

  • the investigating officer ACP Mat Zain Ibrahim (now Datuk) had conducted a thorough investigation and prepared an investigation paper (IP) which was given by October 1998 to the former Attorney General, the late Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah, and his team which included Gani.
  • the IP concluded that Rahim Noor was the prepetrator of the assault, based on a thorough investigation which included the medical reports by KL Hospital forensic specialists such as Dr Ab Halim Mansar and Dr Zahari Noor and statement from at least 60 witnesses.
  • the medical reports concluded that the injury inflicted on Anwar was consistent with an assault.
  • despite the contents of the IP and medical reports already available, Mohtar with the assistance of Gani procured the services of Dr Abdul Rahman Yusof, who in an undated and second report speaks of a ‘reconstruction of the scene’ on Dec 14 that year.
  • it is an undisputable fact that Dr Rahman’s reports in relation to the assault on Anwar were done without actually examining him.
  • Mohtar in a press statement on Jan 5, 1999 appeared to accept the views of Dr Rahman on the so-called “inconsistencies” in the other medical reports by the doctors who had actually, physically examined Anwar.
  • Mohtar’s press statement stated that the investigation which had been carried out did not identify the person or persons responsible for his injuries. This was inconsistent with the IP which had already concluded in October 1998 that it was Rahim Noor who assaulted him.

Wan Azizah says opposition can oust BN by Sept 16

The Malaysian Insider reported on July 2 that Pakatan Rakyat remains confident of taking over the reins of government by September 16.

“Well, optimistically, I think we can keep to the deadline,” said Parliamentary Opposition leader Datin Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is Anwar’s wife and president of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat leading the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

“The expectations are very high from the people,” she told the Reuters in an interview this evening.

Saying that any change of power would be smooth and peaceful, she added “We don’t want to have any upheaval or turmoil … We don’t want to have the feeling of uneasiness.”

High Court Rejects Election Petitions For Kuala Kangsar And Kubu Gajah Seats

In a July 4 article, Bernama reported that the High Court on Friday rejected two petitions to annul the election results for the Kuala Kangsar parliamentary and Kubu Gajah state seats. The Kuala Kangsar seat was won by Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and the Kubu Gajah seat by Datuk Seri Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar.

Judicial Review Over Herald’s Use Of Word ‘Allah’ Set For Mention On July 9

In another July 4 article, Bernama reported that July 9 has been fixed for mention of the judicial review sought by the archbishop of Kuala Lumpur to challenge the Home Ministry decision to prohibit the use of word “Allah” in a Catholic weekly publication.

The court will also hear applications by four state Islamic religious councils and the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council to become interveners and named as respondents in the review hearing on the same day.

The four Islamic religious councils are of Perak, Federal Territories, Terengganu and Penang while the gurdwaras council represents the Sikh community.

Syariah court declares deceased a Muslim

The dispute over whether Elangesvaran Benedict, who commited suicide recently, was a muslim took on a new twist. The NST on July 5 reported that although he matter was supposed to be decided at the High Court in George Town yesterday afternoon, the religious authorities jumped the gun and obtained a declaration from the Parit Buntar Syariah Court in the morning.

The Syariah court declared that the deceased, Elangesvaran Benedict, was a Muslim.

The matter was decided by the court despite the fact that Elangesvaran’s wife, who had been named as a respondent in the case, was not present in the Syariah court.

This raised the wrath of Elangesvaran’s family who had gathered at the High Court here.

Malaysian police on global manhunt for investigator who stirred politics with sex claim

P Balasubramaniam shocked the nation with a Statutory Declaration linking the DPM to Altantuya and then issuing another Statutory Declaration the next day refuting the points in the first declaration. The International Herald Tribune, in a story dated July 6 said that Malaysian police has launched an international manhunt for him as he and his family have gone missing soon after releasing the second Statutory Declaration.

Balasubramaniam Perumal is believed to have gone into hiding, or is being hidden by unidentified parties, Malaysian Criminal Investigation Department director Bakri Zinin told reporters.

Bakri urged Balasubramaniam to come out of hiding, saying he has nothing to fear. “I give a guarantee of his safety if he comes to meet us. And he is free to bring a lawyer to the meeting,” he said.

“The police in the country have been put on alert to find him. We have informed Interpol … as well as the police in neighboring countries,” said Bakri.

“We are investigating all the reports … we are seeking the public’s help to find Balasubramaniam because even the (nephew) … is not giving us his full cooperation,” Bakri said.

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