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zaid ibrahim
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Raja Petra
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Friends of Pakatan Rakyat (FPR), was formally launched in London on Sunday 04 July 2010. Nearly 250 Malaysians and local supporters gathered in Conway Hall, Holborn, to commemorate the launch event which aims to rally the support of Malaysians who share the vision of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition for a democratic, fair and just Malaysia. FPR supporters were joined by Pakatan Rakyat leadership who flew into London to offer their support. The keynote speaker Dato’ Mohd Zaid Ibrahim was joined by Pakatan Rakyat leadership including Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP), Dr Hatta Ramli (PAS), Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR) and Dato’ Kamaruddin Jaffar (PAS) as well as blogger and civil liberties and justice advocate, Raja Petra Kamarudin; all of whom spoke at the event, offering congratulations to members of the group and encouraging further involvement from Malaysians living overseas towards a better Malaysia.

The opening address was given by Pro tem Chairman of Friends of Pakatan Rakyat, Brian Morais, who reminisced, “Citizens gave a mandate to politicians in the newly independent Malaysia of 1957 and so the age for a new merdeka has arrived, where the citizens reclaim power from politicians who should in effect become servants to the nation”. Quoting the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Idris Jala’s prediction that Malaysia could become bankrupt by the year 2019 as national debt crept to 54% of GDP, Morais urged the audience to go home and vote for a new, accountable government before it is too late. On the agenda for the new FPR is fundraising for Pakatan Rakyat’s electoral campaign, compiling research to aid policy reform, and establishing overseas voting for Malaysians, stated Morais.

Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) spoke scathingly of a Malaysia that was bankrupt of ideas and morality. “Malaysia has turned into a society that is materialistic – the highest tower, the longest bridge…the biggest debt!” He challenged the government to battle corruption in the police force by increasing wages to end bribery as a way of life in Malaysia. Accusing the ruling coalition of trying to re-create the race riots of May 13th 1969 in Kampung Baru when tear gas was shot into the crowd of peaceful HINDRAF supporters in 2007, RPK noted that Malaysian society had truly united as Malay residents provided refuge to suffering HINDRAF supporters instead of rioting against them – thus bringing home the point that the age of race politics, the apartheid, can and must end.

MP for Kepong , DAP’s DR Tan Seng Giaw’s address to FPR supporters pledged an end to money politics and promised transparency in the Pakatan Rakyat government where the new coalition members would be held accountable. He spoke of reforming the education system by targeting and increasing the quality of educators as well initializing the independence of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission which currently sits under the biased jurisdiction of Barisan National.

Keynote speaker Dato’ Mohd Zaid Ibrahim who famously resigned from the Barisan National Cabinet in 2008 following the arrest of 3 prominent individuals (including RPK) under the ISA in 2008 spoke of the need for Malaysians to sacrifice themselves in the name of freedom from an oppressive regime, likening BN rule to a fascist dictatorship where leaders say and do what they like without question or accountability to law or society. Challenging Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak’s mantra for policy and government reform, Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim remarked BN would never be transparent as they have too much to hide. Encouraged by the small percentile loss to BN in the 2008 general elections, he proclaimed the next election would bring victory to Pakatan Rakyat because “…we have the people’s heart with us!”

En route to London, during a 5 hour stop-over in Dubai, Dr Hatta Ramli met with a couple dozen Malaysians and discussed the next overseas chapter of FPR over the Ghana vs. Uruguay match, which he confirmed during the opening statements of his speech. Acknowledging that PAS and DAP had their differences, he countered by saying that common ground outweighed the smaller issues and both parties had made considerable concessions to meet each other halfway to become part of Pakatan Rakyat.

Concluding the FPR launch was Nurul Izzah Anwar, Pakatan Rakyat MP for Lembah Pantai who admitted that she and many opposition MPs now Tweet as a means of keeping younger constituents in the loop. She spoke of her encouragement at the widespread support that Pakatan Rakyat was garnering both at home and abroad, and at how much the Malaysian political landscape progressed since her first visit to London in 1999 after her father’s unfair dismissal and imprisonment, when she met with pro-reform groups here, seeking to highlight to the international community her father‘s plight and the shocking human rights abuses unfolding in Malaysia at that time.

Despite the events that propelled Nurul Izzah Anwar into the political arena, in her address, she noted that the oppression under Malaysia’s current ruling party was above and beyond just Anwar Ibrahim, but against anyone who spoke out against its power. She fleshed out some of the plans Pakatan Rakyat have made for reform, citing that a commitment had been made to Common Policy Platform that unites Keadilan, DAP and PAS in their vision for a better Malaysia, something that had never been undertaken by Barisan National’s conglomerate of parties. She confirmed that the Pakatan Coalition had made a commitment to abolishing the ISA; along with a review of a number of repressive laws including the Printing Presses and Publication Act if 1984 and Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, while noting that a Freedom of Information bill would also be tabled. Nurul spoke passionately about the need for a reformed Malaysia and urged attendees to go home and vote when the time came.

The panel opened up for a question and answer session to conclude the launch of FPR UK and as the speakers answered questions posed by attendees, there was a sense that the country was progressing closer towards a new merdeka; the utopian ideals of freedom and democracy that our founding fathers did not take for granted are re-emerging in a more unified Malaysia. A quotation used by Dr Tan Seng Giaw from T.S. Elliot’s poem Exploring the Waste Land rings true:

…And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

There are plans for this new and exciting initiative to be be expanded globally,with groups in Australia,the US,and other countries in South East Asia and the Middle East expressing an interest in starting chapters in various locations with large communities of Overseas Malaysians,in a show of solidarity and to contribute to the agenda for change and reform in Malaysia. -malaysia today-

CNN has stringently denied that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim paid the global news broadcaster to do an interview early this month. “The story about CNN accepting payment from anyone for Anwar Ibrahim to appear on ‘Connect the World’ is clearly fabricated,” said a CNN spokesperson, who is based in Hong Kong where the network’s Asia headquarters are located. “It is disturbing that no effort was made to contact us and independently verify these groundless allegations before they were subsequently reported as fact.”

Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia had last Friday kicked off the controversy with its July 9 report headlined ‘Anwar alleged to have paid CNN’. The report referred to Trevino Strategies and Media Inc president Joshua Trevino, who wrote in a US-based news portal The New Ledger that Anwar hired media contacts, particularly in CNN, to convince Jewish lobbyists that he is not anti-Israel. Trevino had lamented that the CNN’s ‘Connector of the Day’ interview on July 2 was “tame” in questioning Anwar’s anti-Zionist rhetoric. Following the Utusan report, a number of Umno leaders attacked Anwar over the alleged “paid” interview.

“If it is true that Anwar paid for the CNN interview, it shows that he stoop so low to the United States and the Jews… he will do anything to achieve his ambition of becoming the prime minister,” said Umno vice-president Mohd Shafie Apdal the day after the Utusan report. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Umno deputy head, said the allegation shows that Anwar was desperate. “He can use the media. If he has to pay, then let him pay to clarify his position and the lies he told when he went abroad,” he was quoted as saying by New Straits Times in a July 11 report headlined ‘Muhyiddin: Anwar paid CNN’.

Another round of attacks

Utusan, an Umno-owned newspaper, has since ratcheted up the tempo against Anwar, this time with another report on Sunday alleging that the PKR supremo was a CIA stooge. The report is based on the posting of an obscure American blogger, Elaine Meinel Supkis, who claimed that her source was “a Jewish editor of the warmongering Washington Post”. Utusan cited Meinel’s posting – bizarrely entitled ‘CIA and Mossad want Anwar Ibrahim assassinated’ – which claimed that Anwar serves to protect the US’ interests and to undertake covert planning on its behalf in Malaysia. This sparked another round of attacks from other Umno leaders, including Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and Information Communication and Culture Minister Rais Yatim.

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Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would be ready should Barisan Nasional (BN) opt to hold snap elections. “We will deal with it,” said Anwar. The government’s reluctance to upset the majority Malays has led to reversal of government decisions and reform pullbacks that are fuelling talk Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak may be readying for a snap election.

Constituency allocations for BN MPs have been recently increased from RM1 million to RM1.5 million, leading to more speculation. The PKR de facto leader noted that he was coming under increased attack in the mainstream newspapers who accused him of being pro-American or pro-Jewish. Anwar (picture) has come under after fire for a June 28 Washington Post article which quoted him as saying that he was “regretful” over his anti-Zionist attacks.

He added that he had no opportunity to defend himself in the local press and accused Barisan Nasional (BN) of being hypocrites. He repeated that he did not apologise for his “Zionist” statement. “I stated my stand in that I disagree with the Iraq occupation and disagree with Israel’s actions against the Freedom Flotilla,” Anwar said.

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Fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin has scoffed at Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s accusation that he is funded by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and therefore untrustworthy. Referring to other media outlets in Malaysia which are either owned or controlled by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, the controversial Malaysia Today writer rubbished the prime minister’s suggestion that political backing equated to a lack of credibility. “Well, isn’t New Straits Times backed by Umno? The Star, by MCA?” he said here yesterday.

Najib had said the people should not believe the claims made by the blogger, who has fled to London, and challenged the Malaysian government to bring charges of sedition, criminal defamation and an appeal against his release from the Internal Security Act to the United Kingdom’s courts. “If Raja Petra is funded by the opposition, it means that his statements are politically-motivated. We should weigh them carefully and not merely [accept] them,” Najib told reporters after opening a Pekan Umno meeting yesterday.

Speaking to The Malaysian Insider here, Raja Petra said that all media outlets were backed by investors with some kind of agenda, regardless of whether they affected the editorial direction. “So is he saying that we shouldn’t trust any media?” he retorted. The member of the Selangor royal household has been a thorn in Najib’s side even before he stepped up to the premiership, with the most prominent allegation being over the latter’s involvement in the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shariibuu.

When quizzed on whether he was receiving any money from the federal opposition, Raja Petra replied that “I am trying to raise money for Pakatan, not take it from them.” He said that his reason for doing so was his desire to see a two-party system established in Malaysia, instead what was described as BN hegemony. ~malaysianinsider~

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