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Suspended Petaling Jaya Selatan Umno chief, Datuk Zahar Hashim today joined the Islamist party, Pas with a promise that more leaders from the division situated in the Chinese dominated constituency would leave Umno. His membership application form was handed over to Pas deputy president Nasharuddin Isa at a ceremony here.

The defence contractor, who wrote an open letter in October alleging discrepancies in the purchase of Eurocopter helicopters was suspended from the party on Dec 4 for criticising Umno’s leadership. Zahar had also written a letter in August claiming that Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak had violated the party’s rules by campaigning for the party polls.

At a press conference later Zahar denied that his decision to join Pas was motivated by the Eurocopter deal. “I am not disappointed. I think the majority or almost half of the voters no longer supports BN,” said Zahar. He added that he was not betraying Umno by joining Pas adding that he was already financially stable when he joined the Malay nationalist party in 1981, saying that it was Umno that had betrayed him. “I have more information than I can reveal but I have to check whether it will violate the Official Secrets Act,” said Zahar. Earlier in his speech, Selangor Pas chief Datuk Dr Hassan Ali, said the decision by Zahar would boost the party’s position in the state. He added that Selangor Pas would continue to invite Umno members in the state to defect to the party.

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KOTA BARU: PAS has stood firm that hudud and qisas laws will be implemented should Pakatan Rakyat take over the government. The latest call for the implementation of Islamic criminal laws came from its spiritual leader, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

The push has not only resulted in criticism from Barisan Nasional parties, which say that it is a PAS tactic for the Kuala Terengganu by-election, but also from its Pakatan Rakyat partner DAP. The DAP has come out strongly against PAS’ statement and pointed out that it was never part of the Pakatan Rakyat manifesto. It has called on PAS to explain.

Parliament tonight passed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill, which are one of three pieces of legislation the Abdullah Badawi administration hopes to push through before he steps down as prime minister in March. By a voice vote, the majority of lawmakers gave their support to set up a commission which will have more autonomy and power to tackle corruption.

This follows two days of robust debate which saw lawmakers from both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) put the proposed MACC through some rigorous examination. The new law to fight corruption was passed practically unchanged tonight in the Dewan Rakyat despite the best efforts of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs.

The biggest argument from the PR lawmakers concerned putting the power of prosecution in the hands of one man, the Attorney General (AG). The Opposition Leader told Parliament the AG is not compelled by any law to report to a higher authority. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim added it could lead to all sorts of abuses.

However, the de facto Law Minister defended the government’s move, saying that the term referred not only to the individual holding the post but also the entire office of the public prosecutor. Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz added that a deputy public prosecutor from the AG’s office would also be moved to help the MACC. But the PR MPs continued to challenge Nazri’s view at every step of the way, despite the rare presence of both the Prime Minister and his deputy inside the House.

Each time a section of the law to do with the powers of the AG or limiting the authority of the MACC chief and its members was raised for debate, several MPs from the DAP, PKR and Pas would be on their feet ready to battle, even before the parliamentary official finished reading it aloud.

RAWANG, Dec 16 — Police have detained more than two dozen teenagers taking part in a protest over low wages that involves a mass bicycle trek across Malaysia to deliver a petition to the prime minister, a labour rights group said today. The riders are mainly ethnic Indian farmers, factory workers and their children. The minority Indian community, among Malaysia's poorest, has been hit hard by rising inflation that recently reached its highest level in nearly 30 years.

Two groups began pedalling on Dec 3, one setting out from the north and the other from the south, said Y. Kohila, a coordinator for protest organiser, the Oppressed People's Movement (Jerit). They will each cover about 400km before they meet in Parliament on Thursday to hand a petition to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other lawmakers. Twenty-eight teenage riders were detained yesterday at a police roadblock in Selangor, said Kohila. They remained in police custody today because authorities were only willing to release them to their parents, most of whom are in northern Malaysia.

"Police made this move to save these children from exploitation by irresponsible parties," Selangor Police Chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar told the national news agency, Bernama. Kohila denied the teenagers were coerced into the campaign, which she said is meant to "make the government take action to alleviate the problems of plantation and factory workers."

Over the past two weeks, police have arrested the riders at separate locations for conducting a public protest without permission, but later freed them without charges. The riders have continued their journey after being released. The group's wide-ranging demands include a minimum wage law, tighter government control of consumer prices, better public housing and a halt to privatisation of public services including water, health care and education


The outgoing Mufti of Perlis Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin is unconcerned about an ongoing smear campaign against him, especially after his latest statement on the fatwa on yoga. He said the move to denigrate him by certain parties was a waste of time.

“I have been aware of this for quite some time now. Actually, this is not just about the yoga issue. I think they are worried that when I am no longer the Perlis Mufti, I may join politics,” he said in an interview with mStar Online yesterday. Asri, whose doctoral thesis was on the study of the hadiths, said that those who had questioned his credibility to speak on religious issues should check his academic qualifications.

He said he received his PhD from the International Islamic University before going to lecture at Universiti Sains Malaysia. “If I’m not fit to comment about a fatwa, what about the other muftis who don’t have such qualifications?”~asri's last comment on yoga fatwa~

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On this Riz Khan show continue their special coverage of Malaysia and ask Anwar Ibrahim "How long can the ruling party of Malaysia keep its half-century of hold on power? "Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today made a series of accusations against Umno to an international audience, citing it as the cause of racial tensions and lack of economic competitiveness. He also joined those who believe it is possible that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi may yet stay on after the Umno party polls in March.

Speaking on a special interview with Riz Khan on satellite television station Al-Jazeera, Anwar said he did not see extremism as a serious threat in the country but blamed the Umno-led governing coalition Barisan Nasional for harming race relations in Malaysia. "I do not seriously see it as a threat but we will be on our guard. Unfortunately, Barisan Nasional, especially Umno, keeps on harping about Islamic and Malay issues in an extreme way," the former Deputy Prime Minister said.

He also said that while he believed in affirmative action for all marginalised communities, Malaysia as a whole needed economic growth to be propelled and that the Bumiputera-affirming New Economic Policy had been abused by Umno. "Umno has used the New Economic Policy to enrich themselves with billions going to the families of Prime Ministers but the vast majority of the poor remain marginalised," he said. He added that under an administration led by him, an affirmative action policy based on needs for all poor people would be established.

A Landslide hit Bukit Antarabangsa early yesterday, burying 14 houses and cutting off access for thousands of residents and disrupting water, electricity and phone lines. A team led by the Selangor State Assemblyman and Member Of Parliament went to the disaster zone to provide aids to the residents. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the earth around the hill slopes of Bukit Antarabangsa, a suburban development in a thickly forested water catchment area in the city, groaned, shook and surged forward, buckling roads, overturning cars, snapping lamp posts, and flattening 14 houses in its wake. Four people died, 14 others have been injured and over 2,000 people have been told to evacuate their homes.

Almost 15 years ago, 48 people, including the son of former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam, died after one of the three Highland Towers condominium blocks located within the same Bukit Antarabangsa area came crashing down as a result of yet another landslide. At the time, then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad put a stop to further hillside development.

SHAH ALAM, Dec 5 - Selangor Pas chief Datuk Dr Hasan Ali admitted today that he had some disagreements with Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad who was dropped from the state Islamist party committee last month along with Hulu Klang assemblyman Saari Sungib. Khalid who was the state party deputy chief was replaced by Hulu Langat MP Dr Che Rosli Che Mat. While Roslan Shahir took over the position of state party information chief from Saari.

The expulsion of the two leaders raised speculation that the Islamist party was cleansing the party of the pro-Anwar faction, popularly known as the Erdogans. "I believe the committee should be as perfect as possible, and members must have similar views. But it is not always that Khalid disagrees with us," Hassan told reporters at a specially arranged press conference also attended by the other two Selangor exco members from the party. He also said that Khalid has been in the state committee for a very long time and he believed that it was the best time to strengthen the party by appointing Rosli to the position.

"The reshuffle would provide the space to every leader especially elected representatives in Selangor to concentrate and to be fully committed to their job and responsibility," said Hassan adding that the decision to reshuffle the state party committee was accepted unanimously. At the same press conference Hasan also denied that the party had intended to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages in the state, but merely asked for existing laws, which prohibits the selling of alcohol to Muslims, to be enforced.

He added that the Chinese press had misreported the issue and in the process ended up portraying Selangor Pas as a party that does not respect the state's racial and religious diversity. Hasan also emphasised the party's commitment to the Selangor state government and denied that Pas was being sidelined in the administration.

"But at the same time, as an Islamist movement, Pas is responsible to give ideas, views and advise on matters related to the future of Islam and the Malays apart from other common issues that involve all races and religions," said Hasan.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — Three people, including a mother, her two-month-old baby and maid, have been confirmed dead in a massive landslide early today that has trapped hundreds of residents in Bukit Antarabangsa. Police also said seven others are missing and 15 injured in the 4am landslide that swept and buried 14 houses in Jalan Bukit Mewah and Jalan Mewah Utama.

Meanwhile, Bernama reports that the injured were given first aid at the Addinniah surau before being sent to hospital. At least 12 ambulances were spotted at the scene.

One of the affected bungalows is owned by Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab, the principal private secretary to the prime minister. Thajudeen and his family are safe as they were not at home at the time.

Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman Azmin Ali said at the scene that earth movements continued to take place and that electricity supply to several housing estates in Bukit Antarabangsa was disrupted.

Eyewitness Hassan Saad said he was watching television in his sitting room at 4am when he heard what sounded like strong wind but when he looked out, the air was still and the trees were not swaying. He returned to watching the TV but suddenly he heard an explosion like that of a bomb. He ran out of the house and saw the earth sliding down the hillslope and hitting his neighbour's house in front.

The 48-year-old businessman said he shouted to wake up his family and alert his neighbours to run for their lives. His family of 10, including his mother-in-law and two cousins, managed to run to safety. Hassan, who has been living there for 15 years, said it was the first time that such a thing had happened in the area.

Harapan Baru 29/11/2008: Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim Shows His Mettle

Harapan Baru 29/11/2008: Azmin Ali
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Harapan Baru 29/11/2008: Shamsul Iskandar

Majlis Penutup Kongress Nasional Parti Keadilan Rakyat: Anwar Ibrahim

SHAH ALAM: On the last day of debates at Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s 5th Congress here yesterday, de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said PKR had no issues with a PAS candidate for the impending Kuala Terengganu by-election. The seat fell vacant following the death of its parliamentarian and deputy minister of education Datuk Razali Ismail on Friday.

The Election Commission is expected to announced the date for a by-election within 60 days of officially receiving notice from parliament. During the previous two elections, PAS candidates were fielded for the 90% Malay majority constituency of 65,000 voters. At his closing speech yesterday at Malawati Stadium, Anwar, who is Opposition Leader, said there were many within PKR who called for a candidate from their party to contest the by-election.

Answering them, Anwar said: “Although the final decision on which party will contest in Kuala Terengganu lies with Pakatan Rakyat, the meaning of consultation is about the willingness to help one another.” “In the last by-election (where he won the Permatang Pauh seat), PAS fully supported us and if PAS is to field a candidate for Kuala Terengganu, we will return the gestures,” said the opposition leader. During his winding-up speech, Anwar reiterated the party is committed to restoring “immunity” to the rulers, as stipulated in the Federal Constitution.

On Saturday, president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said at a press conference that the party intends to return legislation veto powers to the monarchy. Article 181 of the Federal Constitution was amended in 1984, whereupon bills passed in Parliament can automatically become laws after 30 days, regardless of whether the King assents to them or not. Meanwhile, vice-president Azmin Ali suggested that states governed by Pakatan Rakyat should start attracting young voters by having bigger budgets for youth programmes. With more such activities, he said, the Pakatan parties can get closer to youths.

Earlier, director of strategy Saifuddin Nasution had said that an estimated two million new voters are expected to take part in the next general election, which must be held by 2013. He also reminded delegates that there were still many Malaysians who were not registered voters. Other suggestions included calls for the formation of a shadow cabinet to monitor the administration of the government. Penang delegate Tan Tee Beng said it was important for the party to have one so that a system of checks and balances can be created to monitor the government.

“Although a shadow cabinet opens our views to scrutiny or even manipulation, it is an important start to convince Malaysians of our seriousness in becoming the next federal government,” said Tan. Recently, civil society groups urged PKR to set up a shadow cabinet to prove that they are ready to govern.

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