Monday, July 31, 2006

Israel faces Saladin MK II

"Condoleezza Rice is against us. They come to bring us relief and they bring them the rockets. Why are they doing this to us?"

- Lebanese in Tyre commenting on US shipment of precision guided bombs to Israel
Israel has mobilised an extra 30,000 troops from Israeli reserves for the continuing conflict with Hezbollah.

Prior to the Qana atrocity, Bush had now sent Condoleezza Rice back to the Middle East with a greater sense of urgency to work a ceasefire, something he had refused to allow earlier in the conflict when Israelis were slaughtering Lebanese civilians and maliciously destroying Lebanese infrastructure out of spite rather than for military reasons.

Toady B-liar has naturally backed Bush’s urgent push for a ceasefire.

Israel has said it is receptive to a ceasefire if European troops in the division (20,000) strength are deployed at the Israel-Lebanon border region.

Yes, Israeli artillery and warplanes are still pounding Lebanon and killing civilians, but the above actions are indications that all’s not going well for Israel.

The Yanks are now attempting to get their Hebrews out of the deep hole those Israelis have dug themselves into.

Other factors that indicate negatives for the Israel-US alliance are the Sunni Arabs (Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians, etc), who had initially gave a quiet nod for Israeli to continue pulverising what they hoped to be Shiite Hezbollahs, are now backtracking and distancing themselves from the Americans.

Their own people have been outraged by the excesses of the Israelis, aggravated even more by the Qana slaughter of nearly 40 children, and revolting in their domestic/internal politics, notwithstanding it's Shiites the Jews are pounding.
Furthermore, what is far more troubling for those Sunni authorities is the rising popularity of the Shiite Hezbollah among their own Sunni populace. Hezbollah leader Nasrallah Hassan has been even touted as the new Saladin, an impression that has grave implication for the governments of Sunni countries.

Then, al Qaeda seeing an opportunity to win the same support from Arabs, has jumped on the bandwagon by calling for a jihad.

It released a video with its No 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, saying: "We cannot just watch these shells as they burn our brothers in Gaza and Lebanon and stand by idly, humiliated. All the world is a battlefield open in front of us. The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires. ... It is a jihad for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails. ... We will attack everywhere."

I hope those terrorists stay out because al Qaeda’s involvement will complicate issues for the Lebanese and may give the Yanks stronger justification or motivation to support Israel even more. But nonetheless it’s a new element that won’t please the Europeans or the local Sunni nations.

The Europeans and the general UN body (other than the few American allies like Britain, Australia) are voicing their anger and deep concerns over Israeli use of disproportionate force which has been arrogantly admitted to in a UN press conference by Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the UN. Of course the USA continues to veto anything that criticises their Holy Land Hebrews.
When Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon arrogantly attempted to hijack the moral agenda by saying the world had given Israel a go-ahead to continue striking Lebanon, after the Rome talks had failed to reach an agreement on a ceasefire plan, Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, responded virtually with a cry of ‘bloody bullsh*t’ to the Jewish minister.

In Berlin Steinmeier declared that that Haim’s conclusion was utterly wrong. He said: "I would say just the opposite. Yesterday in Rome, it was clear that everyone present wanted to see an end to the fighting as swiftly as possible."

Hezbollah has showed little interest in agreeing to a ceasefire and appears to be just warming up in its battle with Israel. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed to attack Israel with more rockets, and said that Condoleeza Rice's visit to the region merely aims to impose conditions that serve Israel. In fact, after the Qana war crimes, Lebanese President slammed the Lebanese door in Rice's face. It's probably the first and most powerful diplomatic insult an Arab could give to the USA.

Nasrallah said ominously in a TV broadcast: "The bombardment of Afula and its military base is the beginning. Many cities in the centre (of Israel) will be targeted beyond Haifa if the savage aggression continues on our country, people and villages."
All these, especially the Bush-B-liar new-found sense of urgency and Israel massive mobilisation of reserve soldiers mean that Israel is in deep trouble for the longer term It now wants relief in the form of a buffer zone manned by European troops between Hezbollah and itself.
There is a military saying about the difference between (the tactical or short term) ‘battles’ and (the strategic or longer term) ‘war’. One could win many 'battles' but eventually still lose the 'war', like the Americans experienced in Vietnam.

Israel may be dominating in the 'battles', of striking Lebanon by air power and artillery barrages, but in reality is effectively losing the 'war' to Hezbollah.
That is why the USA is in urgent mode - for Israel's interests only, not the Lebanese people.

Lebanon President to Rice: "You're Not Welcome!"

From al Jazeera:

Lebanon has cancelled a visit by Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, following an Israeli air raid in southern Lebanon which killed at least 50 people.

Emile Lahoud, the Lebanese president, told Aljazeera on Sunday that the air attack in Qana was a "disgrace" and that there was no chance of holding peace talks until a ceasefire was agreed.

"Israel's leaders think of nothing but destruction, they do not think of peace," he said, adding that the Lebanese cabinet would discuss whether to ask the United Nations Security Council to call for a ceasefire.

Fuad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, said that the bombing had targeted an innocent village and was an Israeli "war crime".

"There is no place on this sad morning for any discussion other than an immediate and unconditional ceasefire as well as an international investigation into the Israeli massacres in Lebanon now," Siniora said at a press conference.
Rice, who said she was "deeply saddened" Qana bombing, is currently in Israel but had been expected to visit Beirut during her Middle East trip to press for talks between leaders from Israel and Lebanon.

'Barbaric aggression'

The US has faced mounting criticism from around the world for not calling for an immediate ceasefire in southern Lebanon and for apparently giving Israel a green light to press on with its offensive.

Up to 600 Lebanese are thought to have died in the Israeli offensive, while 51 Israelis have been killed in Hezbollah rocket attacks.

Rice's visit to Jerusalem came as France draws up a draft United Nations Security Council resolution that would call for an immediate truce between Israel and Hezbollah, the Shia group based in southern Lebanon, and prepare for a peace mission.

Mahathir's Strategy to Punish US Bias in Middle East

At a dinner in Kota Baru when Mahathir criticised PM AAB, he also went on to something relevant for the Middle East problem. In reference to the Israeli vicious attacks on Lebanon, supported by a very biased USA, he urged wealthy Arab nations to sell off their American dollars in exchange for Euros, Yen or gold, to severely devalue the American currency.

He said that would be the logical approach considering that many Israeli offensive against Arab countries were fuelled by American money and weapons.

Though I know it’s an old hobby horse of his, that is, shifting from the greenback to the Euro, I support his proposal as a logical and more Tai Chi-ish approach to ‘punishing’ the Americans because there seems to be no reasoning or appealing to the US’ blind and total support for an arrogant, racist, vicious and unmitigatedly evil Israel, and thus, the US' equally cruel and racist ignoring of the sufferings of Arab people.

The only problem to Dr Mahathir’s excellent proposal is those wealthy Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf nations are beholden to the USA because they are, in the main, dictatorships of the minorities propped up by American power, to serve American interests. So they are hardly likely to commit political suicide.

But nonetheless the Grand Old man has a few powerful strategies still left up his sleeve. Whatever we may say about him, like or hate him, he has been and still is one feisty, intelligent and courageous Malaysian.

He has the guts to lash out at the Yanks, punching way above his global weight. I don't want to get too carried away with my support of his drive against the arrogant Israeli-US conducted genocide of the Lebanese people, but I would say that Dr Mahathir's strategy is almost Saladin-ish.

In that sense I feel somewhat sorry for AAB, who apart from his Fu Mountain countenance and style, has been constantly measured against a relative vulcanic 'giant'.

In an earlier posting UMNO Div told Mahathir's persona non grata I blogged that Zahidi Zainul Abidin, the UMNO division head for Padang Besar, has resisted UMNO headquarters’ orders to keep Dr Mahathir out from deliverying speechs during UMNO divisions general meeting, about to occur in a few days’ time.

Zahidi had intelligently assessed that giving Dr Mahathir a platform at an UMNO event to speak out his complaints would be far better than allowing the opposition to take advantage of Dr Mahathir’s willingness to speak, on non-UMNO platforms.

His warnings have been prophetic because expelled-from-UMNO Ibrahim Ali organised a dinner, under the banner of the Kelantan People’s Action Council, where Dr Mahathir was given free rein to speak out. The dinner drew a crowd of almost 1,000 with many people being forced to stand throughout the event.

* Update: Zahidi has backed off after he was warned by UMNO leaders he woudl face disciplinary actions.

Now, this would undoubtedly give the shivers to UMNO election strategists, when they learn that many prominent PAS leaders were also present, including Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Mat and PAS vice-president Husam Musa. OK, there were also veteran UMNO leaders attending, like former Kelantan Menteri Besar Mohamad Yaakob, former NST editor-in-chief Abdullah Ahmad and former Mara president Ruhanie Ahmad were also present.

Hmmm, the PAS leaders are all current bosses, while UMNO leaders have been former 'somebody', even if not expelled. What does that tell us?

Apparently Mahathir and Nik Aziz shared the same table, separated only by host Ibrahim Ali. Did the two former political foes chit-chat? And if they did, I wonder what they talked about?

PAS strongman Husam Musa diplomatically avoided local politics and merely stated that Mahathir still has a role to play in strengthening the Organisation of Islamic Countries, particularly as a voice to pressure for an end to the Israeli aggression on Lebanon. But he then alluded euphemistically that PAS could collaborate with Mahathir to counter activities which are being done to weaken the country.

Hmmm, I wonder what ‘activities’ he was referring to?

Evil in Full Storm - Israelis killed 37 Children

From al Jazeera:

Kofi Annan has condemned an Israeli air strike that killed more than 60 Lebanese and reiterated his previous calls for an immediate ceasefire.

The UN secretary-general spoke on Sunday at an emergency meeting of the Security Council that he convened after the Israeli air strike in Qana.

"I am deeply dismayed that my earlier calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities were not heeded," Annan said.

"I repeat this call once again from this chamber and I appeal to the council to do likewise."

"Action is needed now before many more children, women and men become casualties of a conflict over which they have no control."

The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

THE 19-day-old war in the Middle East has reached a turning point, with Israel's deadliest attack yet killing 54 people in southern Lebanon and the United States declaring it is time for a ceasefire.

Grisly work … a civil defence worker carries the body of a Lebanese child from the rubble of a building demolished by Israeli warplanes in Qana yesterday - sydney morning herald photo

Images of dead children - 37 children, police said - being dragged from the building in Qana, southern Lebanon provoked international condemnation and shattered the ceasefire talks.

Lebanon's Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, yesterday cancelled talks with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, until a ceasefire is enforced.

Early yesterday morning an Israeli aircraft bombed the three-storey building in Qana crowded with sleeping civilians. Many were refugees displaced from further south. Mothers embraced their dead children and joined rescuers to retrieve the bodies. Sixty-three people had been sheltering in the basement.

Aussies for Peace in Lebanon Attacked PM's Car

Day before yesterday's happening in Perth, Australia, as reported by Xinhua:

A group of protestors calling for peace in Middle East kicked, punched and fired projectiles at Australian Prime Minister John Howard's car in Perth, Western Australian, Saturday.

Two were arrested after 200 protestors, many waving Lebanese and Palestinian flags, tried to block Howard's car and clashed violently with police as the prime minister left a hotel, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

At a conference held at the hotel, Howard described Hezbollah, which is fighting Israel in southern Lebanon, as "a terrorist organization."

Protest organizer Mar Bucknell criticized Israel for bombing Lebanon's infrastructure, saying "These last two weeks have seen an all out assault on civil society in Lebanon, which seems to me to have nothing to do with Hezbollah."

Sunday, July 30, 2006

20 Children Slaughtered in Israeli Air Strikes

Just reported by BBC World:

More than 40 people have been killed in an Israeli air strike on a building near the southern Lebanese town of Qana, reports say.

Initial accounts say families had been sheltering in the basement of the site, which was demolished. Rescuers said many of the casualties were children.

Reporters spoke of people screaming in grief and anger amid the wreckage.

al Jazeera also reported:

At least 20 children are believed to be among more than 40 civilians killed after an Israeli raid destroyed a building in the southern Lebanese town of Qana, Aljazeera's correspondent reports.

Lebanese media reported that dozens of people remain trapped inside the three-storey building which was sheltering several families, some of whom had fled the Israeli bombardment of the Lebanese coastal town of Tyre.

One Born Every Minute (4)

A short pause from politics and international affairs to see other aspects of life ........

Last week in Ipoh, parents of a 16-year old girl, who was said to have been raped, decided to send her to a bomoh - a traditional healer or, if you like, a witch doctor - to restore her virginity.

So the teenager from Taiping consulted a 74-year old bomoh, who claimed he was able to restore her virginity with a special oil.

He took the girl into a room to give her a flower bath* before massaging her with the ‘magic’ oil. Apparently, while her parents was waiting outside, in the privacy of the treatment room, the bomoh fondled the girl’s breasts.

* traditionally a purifying ritual

He was arrested after the girl reported to the police at Kampung Gajah. Obviously, the girl wasn't all that convinced of his jambi-ing (magic incantation) cum raba-raba (fondling).

I was wondering if I was the bomoh’s defence lawyer, whether I could use the defence argument to the trial judge as, “Yang Arif, macam mana Pak Bomoh dapat urut dengan minyak sakti kalau ta’boleh raba raba … er maaf … sapukan minyak tu di kedua spotlight … er maaf … badan si-sedap ... er ... gadis tu.”

Hmmm, maybe I might not make a good defence lawyer.

And I would recommend the girl’s parents, if they can afford it, to seek a Japanese surgeon who specialises in hymen restoration. There's less likelihood of molestation, though not guaranteed.

(1) One Born Every Minute
(2) One Born Every Minute (2)
(3) One Born Every Minute (3)

Mahathir Criticised AAB's Performance as OIC Head

Dr Mahathir is really digging into AAB. He criticised the PM’s performance as head of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).

I wonder to what extent Friday’s episode at KB had spurred this new round of criticism which now seems more personal than what had been the earlier case of queries over abandonment of Mahathir’s projects.

Mahathir said the PM representing Malaysia as the head of the OIC has done nothing significant in the last 3 years. For example, AAB had passively allowed the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) caricuture insult to pass by uncommented when he ought to have at least defended Islam’s dignity.

Mahathir said: “Correctly, we should have initiated some action to defend the followers of Islam, because we have been entrusted with leading OIC.”

He went on to allege that foreigners no longer deem Malaysia a modern Islamic country capable of setting an example and leading the Muslim world.

“I don’t want to slander anyone. I just want to tell the truth. I hope we all think - Why is the good name of Malaysia deteriorating even though it’s just been introduced to the world?”

Personally I think Dr Mahathir has gone beyond his original campaign (I was going to use the word ‘crusade’ but perhaps I better not), which was limited to making AAB answer to what was alleged as the latter’s passive tolerance of his son-in-law’s intrusion into high level political decisions.

Mahthir has now shifted down to almost ad hominen gear - not quite personal yet, but it's verging close to that. I asked before, and I now ask again – has this more new scope of attack been galvanised by what Mahathir must have perceived as a very disrespectful and disgraceful physical attack on him at Kota Baru airport?

Mahathir's aide threw doubts on mace assailant

Bernama stated that Kelantan's state police chief Zulkifli Abdullah revealed a 53-year old businessman was arrested on Friday evening as part of investigations into the mace attack on Dr Mahathir, when the former PM arrived at Kota Baru airport.

Deputy IGP Musa Hassan said the attack occurred as a result of a dispute between two factions of Mahathir's supporters, who had quarrelled over whose vehicles would be used to transport the former premier.

He said: "Each group tried to usher Mahathir to their car. At that time, a man sprayed some form of substance ... which accidentally splashed on Mahathir's face and his aide."

However, Dr Mahathir's spokesman Sufi Yusoff, while agreeing that there had been a disagreement between the two groups about transport arrangements, averred that he had resolved the dispute before the attack.

He said: "I had already brokered an understanding between the two (leaders of the groups). They knew what the procedure would be before we arrived. They were very clear on that."

So then, why was there an attack if the honour of transporting Dr Mahathir had already been resolved? As I had said, the story seems strange for a Mahathir supporter to spray mace disrecpectfully and thoughtlessly in the vicinity of Dr Mahathir.

The Sydney Morning Herald pointed out that Dr Mahathir's visit to Kelantan had been objected to by some local UMNO politicians because of Mahthir’s criticism of PM Abdullah.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Seattle - US Muslim Killed Jew for Lebanon

Bloke’s an American Muslim. He was so incensed by the Israeli arrogant unfettered atrocities in Lebanon that he went to the offices of the Jewish Federation in Seattle, and started shooting, killing one person and injuring at least five others.

Then he gave himself for arrest without a struggle.

The Jewish Federation was one of the sponsors of a rally this week in support of Israeli attacks against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Federation officers started to close the stable doors after the horse had bolted. They have increased security at the city's synagogues and buildings used by Jewish organisations. Police wisely increased security at the city's mosques to prevent possible attacks in retaliation for the shooting.

Seattle's Mayor, Greg Nickels, said the attack was a purposeful, hateful act as far we know, by an individual acting alone. He averred "This is a crime of hate."

Of course it was a crime of hate, and a sinful killing of an innocent.

But I wonder what the Mayors of several Lebanese cities and towns would say about the shooting and killing of hundreds of innocent Lebanese citizens by the Israelis?

That's how hate spreads.

UMNO Div told Mahathir's persona non grata

Remember my earlier posting UMNO’s 'Silence of the Kambings'? Tough if you haven’t – but anyway you can either read the above link or the summary that follows ;-)

It’s about the party leaders warning the UMNO divisional people not to entertain Dr Mahathir. Apart from notice from the UMNO information chief, Muhammad Muhammad Taib, AAB himself add in a few threatening words like: “We do not want anything to happen in the party that will later cause a split. So if UMNO divisions want to take certain actions for the good of their own divisions, that is within their right.”

That’s as good as saying, don't talk to that loose cannon or else, but don't you dare say I ordered you.

Then he reminded those division leaders who may be tempted to fly the doctor’s banner that UMNO tradition doesn’t allow anyone who’s not a council member or UMNO Cabinet minister to address any division meetings, which is just around the corner on Aug 3.

He warned: “It was this way before, it is this way now and it will stay this way for the future. Everyone has his or her responsibilities.''

But UMNO Padang Besar division head Zahidi Zainul Abidin has other ideas. On Wednesday, the Star reported that Zahidi, supposedly an up-and-coming UMNO leader who may be Khairy Jamaluddin’s future competition, said there was “nothing controversial about inviting a respectable statesman to open a division meeting.”

He praised Dr Mahathir as a true UMNO leader as well as an internationally acclaimed leader, who deserves a chance to speak on an UMNO platform. He hinted that would be better than allowing the opposition to take advantage of Dr Mahathir’s willingness to speak on their platform.

He asserted he would proceed with his plans to invite the former premier unless there was a directive in black and white from the party to him against doing so, which of course he knew there won’t be. Black & white stuff are not convenient, and are usually ‘classified’.

But UMNO’s secretary-general Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad warned him not to proceed with his plans for Dr Mahathir Mohamed to officiate his division meeting. Zahidi will be breaching party discipline and will face the consequences of his actions.

Radzi added: “I’m very disappointed and I hope he won’t go through with this. The party discipline must be upheld. The question of Mahathir officiating a division does not arise.”

Radzi also expressed his annoyance that Ibrahim Ali, sacked from UMNO, had enticed Dr Mahathir into a speaking engagement at Kota Baru. But he quickly added that he had been outraged too by the mace attack on Mahathir.

He informed us: “UMNO has never treated its members this way! This is not the way to treat people! I hope (the assailant) is not an UMNO member. This is a very un-UMNO way of doing things.”

May I just say bullsh*t to his last comment about ‘un-UMNO way of doing things’.

Just as a reminder, the deputy IGP had stated that the incident was linked to the rivalry between two groups of Mahathir supporters, one led by expelled-from-UMNO Ibrahim Ali and the other by former UMNO Kuala Krai leader Nik Safian Nik Yusof.

Does the fact that it was an expelled-from-UMNO Ibrahim Ali who had invited and organised the reception for Dr Mahathir that contributed, if not instigated, the mace attack?

Judas USA & its 30 Pieces of Silver

US showed off its 30 pieces of silver for betraying democratic Lebanon, while total aid to Israel from 1949 to 1997 alone totalled US$134,791,507,200, nearly 135 billion dollars. And that's only up to 1997 [I wasn't able to get more current figures].

Either the God of the US Christian Right or Jews knows what else it has supplied Israel apart from the recent shipment of precision guided bombs for the Israeli Air Force to slaughter more Lebanese or UN observers more precisely.

The USA - the Judas Iscariot of democracy in the Middle East.

Spraygate - Not Surprisingly ...

Not surprisingly, regardless of facts and evidence, most people would suspect (or rather, like to suspect) that the establishment, meaning the government or people close to the government, had been the culprits behind the vicious attack on an 81-year old former PM.

Not surprising, reporters who interviewed Dr Mahathir after he had his eyes and breathing treated, turned the queries towards the person of AAB.

Not surprisingly, Dr Mahathir responded to their queries readily, and when he received a direct one, “Is this the work of 'government people'?”, he replied “I don’t know who, but whoever did it, tried to prevent me from talking. May be it’s those people I have been accusing.”

Not surprisingly, all of us know who he had been accusing, don’t we?

Not surprisingly, when reporters became bolder and asked the un-diplomatic, like “Are there evidence that the prime minister gave contracts to his family members?” Dr Mahathir didn’t even flinch but answered: “There are evidence in the newspapers. For example Scomi (owned by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s son Kamaluddin) gets contracts. ECM-Libra (linked to Abdullah’s son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin). The finance minister (Abdullah) should not give things to his son-in-law. I was the prime minister for the country not for my family.”

Not surprisingly, poor AAB must be tearing what little hair he has on his head, as he has been placed in an invidious position of being seen as responsible.

Not surprisingly, he might even think, "Now I know exactly how those MCA cabinet ministers must have felt when we UMNO people issued policies inimical to Chinese interests without even consulting them. Yes, like 'air kow hor p'ang teng' (mutes stung by hornets, or suffering undeserved pains silently). I feel like of them right now."

Not surprisingly, AAB asserted that those responsible for the incident should be severely punished, because he’s worried that the unmitigated scandal would be seized by ‘certain quarters’ to disseminate rumours, especially through the Internet, and raise negative implications and misconception among the public.

Not surprisingly, he ordered the police to solve the matter, not just as soon as possible, but immediately and sternly.

Not surprisingly, all of us suspect that there’ll be some harsh words in UMNO right now.

Not surprisingly, we expect more to come.

Not surprisingly, ........ (fill in the blank)

Spraygate - Verdict from the man from Squatgate

Like in the Squatgate situation, the IGP has ‘vanished’ into thin air. I am not sure whether he’s in the rundown to retirement or he’s lurking somewhere still on the extension to his ‘service’.

Anyway, the man who helmed the police during the Squatgate scandal is back in the limelight. Deputy IGP Musa Hassan commented on the disgraceful mace attack on former PM Dr Mahathir in Kota Baru airport yesterday.

He averred that the incident was linked to the rivalry between his supporters. The brouhaha that resulted in Dr Mahathir ‘crying again’ had followed an argument between the two groups over who should welcome the former premier.

One group was led by Kelantan UMNO strongman Ibrahim Ali while the other was by former UMNO Kuala Krai leader Nik Sapeia Nik Yuoff - this latter bloke's name keeps changing each time I read Malaysiakini, from Sapian to Sapia and now to Sapeia, an observation which I'll comment more on in a subsequent paragraph.

According to the deputy IGP, the two groups were fighting over who should host Mahathir’s functions in Kelantan. Musa said an argument erupted between the two groups when Mahathir was being led to a nearby vehicle.

He revealed: “At that time a tussle occurred between the factions led by Nik Sapeia who wanted to take Mahathir into his car. Then someone sprayed the mace at Ibrahim Ali’s face and Mahathir and his escort were also hit in the process.”

Here I made a minor digression but one that’s related to above statement, because it has serious implications in the incident. This is a classic case of dangerous punctuation or careless proof-reading in a published piece of news that provides people like KTemoc ;-) plenty of ammunition to shoot, spin or slander (legitimately).

Let's examine again “Then someone sprayed the cannister at Ibrahim Ali’s face and Mahathir and his escort were also hit in the process.”

Now, did that someone sprayed the mace at Ibrahim Ali's face and Mahathir, and unfortunately also hit the escort, or that someone sprayed at Ibrahim Ali's face, and unfortunately also hit Mahathir and his escort?

I must say lately Malaysiakini has been very careless with its spelling, punctuation and proper proof-reading because its mistakes are reaching proportions that now rival those of the mainstream newspapers. It could be an unfortunate consequence of its staff expansion.

The thing is that Malaysiakini's poor, or lack of judicious, punctuation in that crucial sentence has left us all very confused. Even if I were to assume that Ibrahim Ali was the only intended target, I still would have thought a so-called ‘supporter’ of Dr Mahathir would not be so carelessly negligent and disrespectful as to spray terrible chemicals in the proximity of Dr Mahathir.

I am still doubtful, unless of course Malaysiakini could argue that the verb 'were' used after Mahathir and his escort implies they (the doctor and escort) were gabung (grouped) together in that sentence, ... and so probably it was, or they were, or ....

Matey at Malaysiakini, you are imposing on my understanding of the more subtle aspects of English grammar, which reminds of an old tricky physics teacher who used to catch me in the objective exams by her profligate use of grammatical nuances, which were pivotal in the understanding her questions.

Just to assure us, or rather PM AAB who had demanded the matter be solved IMMEDIATELY and bloody STERNLY, deputy IGP Musa said the person who sprayed the mace has been identified and will be arrested immediately – there you have it, that ‘immediately’ word again.

But why can't he tell us who that person is? Revealing his identity would not have hampered any investigation since that has, in the deputy IGP's assurance, been concluded. The public has a right to know.

Musa refuted Internet reports that the mace was sprayed by a person clad in a jacket and believed to be from the police special operations force. He said those internet reports were slanderous and had the sinister aim of running down the reputation of the police and government.

Hmmm, how could anyone run down the police and government’s reputation when those are already at rock bottom?

Musa also warned that the police would take stern (that ‘stern’ word again) action against those who spread false news via the Internet and mass media.

His warnings dovetailed with the current government intention to clamp down on a section of the Malaysian press and blogosphere, which have been flexing their relished freedom in the last couple of years, very much to AAB’s consternation.

Friday, July 28, 2006

China: "US Threatened Veto if Israel Criticised!"

China, one of the UN Security Council (UNSC) permanent members revealed why the UNSC could only expressed its shock, rather than outrage, over the ‘deliberate’ murder of 4 unarmed UN observers by an Israeli war plane.

This has been so despite UN Sec-Gen Kofi Annan condemning Israel for the 'deliberate' murderous attack. Wang Guangya, the Chinese ambassador, spoke bluntly on TV that the USA threatened to veto anything that criticised Israel.

The US demanded that the Chinese watered down its original draft which had a paragraph saying "the Security Council condemns any deliberate attack against UN personnel", along with a phrase which would have called on the UN to be involved in any Israeli inquiry.

That paragraph was deleted, and the Israelis get to do its own inquiry which we may safely say will exonerate the pilot's deliberate attack on a very distinctively marked UN post as an unfortunate mistake.

Why then did the Chinese accept the US demand? Because a US veto would have meant nothing would emerge from the UNSC.

Wang lamented that the revised document, expressing shock and omitting UN involvement in the inquiry, was the ‘minimum’ that could be expected from the UNSC if the American veto was to be avoided. The Chinese must be extremely pissed off to make such an undiplomatic media release.

Some people have been condemning the UN for not acting against the Israeli atrocities in Lebanon. The correct accusation should be against the US because it had been threatening to use its veto against any ceasefire or criticism against Israel, let alone condemnation of a renegade terrorist barbaric state.

Wang said: "Any killing of innocent life has to be condemned."

China lost one of its officers among the 4 UN observers murdered.

Wang was asked how the negotiations over the statement would influence talks on a resolution regarding Iran's nuclear programme. He responded by revealing that nearly (obviously not including UK) every delegation in the council was frustrated over the US position.

He threatened: "Definitely this frustration will have its negative impact."

He alluded to a possible non-cooperative tit for tat response from the other UNSC members when the US (though without mentioning the US by name) call upon them on issues such as the Iranian nuclear question.

Later I saw the Israeli ambassador to the UN strutting cockily to the media conference and said defiantly in response to an accusation of employing disproportionate force against Lebanon. He boasted: “You’re damn right we’re using disproportionate force. If your country is being attacked you would too.”

The ar$e-h*le was so arrogant because he knew the US would veto any criticism of its behaviour. But he didn’t hesitate to spin away the fact that the Israelis had been the one who launch the unmitigated attacks on Lebanon first, maliciously bombing infrastructure, regardless of whether the targets were Hezbollah’s or not.

The fact has been that the Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers who went across the border in the first place, rather than the spin Hezbollah was prowling around for nasty tricks against Israel, but these were inconvenient facts and equally inconvenient sequences of events.

And of course with Tai Koh looking after his ar$e, he didn’t give two hoots about the accusation of using ‘disproportionate force’. Oh no, not with those Old Testament rabid rabbinic killers.

Assailant of Mahathir Identified?

Well, it seems, of the 3 versions I brought up of what had occurred when Dr Mahathir was attacked with mace, the actual version, according to Raja Petra Kamarudin of Malaysia-Today, seems to be a combination of my Versions 1 and 3.

Malaysia-Today reported:

According to the latest report received by Malaysia Today, Datuk Nik Safia bin Nik Yussof was the ‘unidentified person’ who sprayed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with either mace or pepper spray.

Datuk Nik Safia, one-time Deputy Chairman of Umno Kuala Kerai, had earlier stormed into the airport with six tough-looking bouncers in boots and leather jackets and confronted Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad (ex-Member of Parliament Kok Lanas). He then demanded that he be allowed to ‘take’ Tun Dr Mahathir.

Tan Sri Abdullah would not engage Datuk Nik Safia who then said that he would ‘take’ Mahathir at all costs.When Mahathir arrived he was ushered into Datuk Ibrahim Ali’s Pajero. Datuk Nik Safia then sprayed mace into the Pajero and grabbed the shocked Mahathir and bundled him into his (Datuk Nik Safia) own car and zoomed off.

If Nik Safia bin Nik Yusof has been reported as a Mahathir's supporter, why then did he allegedly spray mace into the Pajero where the Grand Ole Man was? Stranger and stranger!

Meanwhile Malaysiakini reported:

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi expressed regret and anger over the attack on his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the Kota Bharu airport in Kelantan this morning. The premier said he has instructed the police to conduct an immediate investigation and take stern action against those responsible.

"I regret and am very angry such an incident has happened," he told Bernama, adding that the police had informed him of the incident.

"I have directed Deputy Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan for the police to take immediate action to probe the incident and to take stern action against those who committed the act," he said. Abdullah said those responsible for the incident should be severely punished.

Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang on his blog condemned the attack as despicable and contemptible. He said Dr Mahathir "like any other Malaysian, ... should have freedom of movement, speech and expression without fear of loutish and gangsterish elements taking the law into their own hands."

The NST which was dragging its heels in reporting this monumental piece of high drama involving the previous PM, finally (and probably reluctantly) broke into print at a very late 4:55 pm with a few niggardly paragraphs. It quoted Dr Mahathir saying:

Dr Mahathir told reporters at his hotel later that it was his first experience and he felt pain in his eyes, nose and throat.

"I know there are plans to stop me from speaking but to do this, I think is a sign of desperation. I will continue to speak, I don't give up so easily," he said.

Dr Mahathir said he did not want to point fingers but the fact is that those involved do not have to resort to such action to stop him.

He reiterated that he is an Umno man and support Umno strongly and is not on the other side of the fence.

If Dr Mahathir said that, obviously he wasn't referring to one of his over enthusiastic supporters accidentally spraying him with mace, or the alleged culprit Nik Safia isn't a supporter.

Dr Mahthir Attacked with Mace

This isn't exactly breaking news as almost everyone in Malaysia has by now learnt of the high drama at Kota Baru airport this morning.

There was great excitement when Dr Mahathir’s plane arrived the Kota Bahru airport at 10.50 am. Mahathir was to begin a two-day visit to the opposition-controlled Kelantan, where he would deliver several speeches and meet with UMNO members.

About 1,000 people were present to welcome the former premier. At this point, there are three versions of what happened next:

Version 1 (an earlier version):

As soon as he emerged from the VIP lounge, several men in jackets (of unknown association) escorted him as he made his way into a waiting Mitsubishi Pajero. One of Mahathir’s friends, former UMNO strongman in Kelantan, Ibrahim Ali had organised the transport.

But that’s when hell broke loose. As the crowd jostled to catch a glimpse of Mahathir, Ibrahim Ali was sprayed on the face with mace by one of those unknown men in jackets. Some people alleged they were from the police special operations force.

malaysiakini photo

Then people saw some of those men dragged Mahathir, who was already seated in the Pajero, to another car, a Honda Accord with registration plate DS 666 and driven away.

It’s ironical that the car bore the biblical signs of Satan. Would that be a coincidence? What would PAS have said about their previous ‘Devil’ being whisked away in a car bearing the licence plate with the sign of the Devil?

They say politics make strange bedfellows. PAS who once equated voting for Dr Mahathir as buying a ticket to hell, had welcome his visit and urged its members to listen to Dr Mahathri’s speeches. There were other welcoming signs for his visit, such as Tun Wira Negara (national hero). His wife, Dr Siti Asmah was addressed by the honorific Ibu Mithali (exemplary mum).

Version II

Someone, assigned or acting independently, threw either a smoke bomb or sprayed mace around, hitting both Dr Mahathir and Ibrahim Ali. The Grand Ole Man was whisked away to safety.

Version III

There have been suggestions that two rival groups of Mahathir supporters - the other group was allegedly led by a close associate of Mahathir identified only as Nik Safian Nik Yusof - were fighting over who should host Mahathir’s functions.

That mace was involved, hitting Dr Mahathir in the face, makes this version seemingly bullsh*t.

Regardless of which version is the correct one, what Ibrahim Ali subsequently declared was that it was an 'act of sabotage'. Now who would do that?

Dr Mahathir has been reported to be doing well after the mace attack. After the incident he was taken to the Renaissance Hotel where he underwent treatment. His special aide Sufi Yussof said the former premier’s health was not affected by the incident

For such a high profile visit where trouble had been expected, the Kelantan police chief Zulkifli Abdullah said he doesn’t have a clue to the strange ‘kidnapping’, but don’t panic, he is in the midst of getting more information.

But The Star said Deputy Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan claimed the person responsible for the attack has been identified.

No doubt the Anwaristas would applaud sweet justice, but should such violence be visited upon anyone, especially an 81-year old former PM?

The Government's 30 (Billion) Pieces of Silver

There must be a moral here that we are missing. Perhaps PM AAB could break his ‘elegant’ silence once again to help us identify the message.

Nor Mohamed Yakcop was allegedly identified as ‘one of the culprits’ behind the nearly RM 30 billion loss incurred by Bank Negara, the Malaysian Central Bank, due to foreign exchange (forex) speculation in the early 1990s.

This was asserted by Rosli Yaakop, who was then deputy economic Manager of Bank Negara.

Rosli said that speculation activity was illegal because they went against currency market norms and practices as well as Bank Negara’s internal regulations and policies. As punishment, the Central Bank allegedly barred Nor Mohamed from working in any financial institutions

But hey-ho, after Nor Mohamed left Bank Negara, he was appointed to high positions with financial institutions Rashid Hussain Securities and the Abrar Group International. According to a Malaysiakini reader, Ibnu Hakeem, it was Anwar Ibrahim who as Finance Minister then appointed Nor Mohamad - see my earlier posting Malaysia's Mr 'Forgetful'.

And if those allegations about his culpability in the RM 30 billion loss are true, then in the greatest insult to taxpayers, he was later recalled to Bank Negara as special adviser to the government.

Wait, there’s more! In January 2004, PM AAB, who is also finance minister, appointed him second finance minister.

What’s the moral lesson? Maybe we need to read about the rewards of the government, our Judas Iscariot, for betraying us.

US & Israel - Re-Entering Vietnams

The Israelis are not unlike their closest and probably only ally in this world, the USA. Their military are powerful and equipped with the best that money or, in the case of Israel, American aid can purchase. Their intelligence are legendary, especially that of the Israelis'.

But they are both callous towards civilians who aren’t of their nationality. They kill, murder and massacre their way through whatever national objectives they have. Both refuse to heed international conventions on conduct of war and humanitarian decency.

Today, even the once-admired USA has joined Israel in becoming international terrorists and pariahs in the eyes of the international community. The US has the super power to prevent the world people from hauling its war criminals to the International Courts of Justice, as Slobadan Milosovic was. It also protects Israel from that just fate.

But again, they are both alike in fighting a battle based on their past glories. When the Americans defeated the Iraqis in the first Gulf War, they did so with ease. In the second Gulf War, they thought it would be a breeze again, rolling their tanks into Baghdad, occupying and pacifying the Arab country for good, because Saddam Hussein’s military was no match for the hi-tech US forces with their ‘shock & awe’ capability.

The Yanks didn’t expect Saddam Hussein and his military strategists planning on an alternative war, namely minimum resistance against the superior US conventional forces, in fact disappearing away, but engaging them after, as insurgents. The world knows the current US standing in Iraq, making the Americans the laughing stock of the military world for not anticipating the enemy could and would change tactics to avoid their earlier mistakes and weakness.

Like Vietnam, the Americans will eventually go home with their tails between their hind legs. But will it take them 10 years like in Vietnam to realise they have lost the war? I reckon it may be just before the 2008 presidential elections when it will declare, as Bush previously did, that combat operations is over.

After the Israelis defeated the Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians in 1967, they thought the Arabs were a useless lot, which was then true. They rested on their laurels, and while they did that, the Egyptians and Syrians were reorganising themselves. In 1973 the Arabs surprised them, and nearly won the war if not for massive American injection of planes, munition and other arms.

There were accusations of American pilots in Israeli uniform flying missions for the Jewish State though this wasn't and could never be substantiated. What we do know through the reading of memoirs and biographies have been that Israeli PM Golda Meir contemplated suicide when she thought Israel was losing. It must have been looking bad for an Israeli PM to consider that 'escape' avenue.

The American massive material and financial injection won the war for them, though we shouldn’t take away the credit from a better trained and more skilled Israeli military, including the daring exploits of a general named Ariel Sharon.

But it demonstrated then the Israelis were fighting an earlier war, and came really close to defeat, while the Egyptians learnt and readjusted. This assessment was what galvanised the Americans into forcing the Israelis to withdraw out of occupied Egyptian territory (seized in 1967) and bribing the Egyptians into a peace deal. The US extrapolated assessment of Egyptian capability was the motivating factor.

Israel then invaded Lebanon in 1982 and occupied the southern part for nearly 10 years. That was its Vietnam, completed with a My Lai as well in Sabra & Shatila. Eventually like the Yanks in Vietnam, it withdrew after suffering Hezbollah insurgent tactics. But it thought it knew the Hezbollah, so it recently launched a war against the Shiite militia, thinking it had all the answers.

But Hezbollah, like Saddam Hussein’s military, has also moved on and prepared for a new showdown with several years of planning to engage the Israelis in the way they are doing now. Though the Israelis now still have overwhelming power, it has once again encountered a ferocious Hezbollah who has employed new tactics the Israelis haven’t expected – well, the enemies can also and do move on.

The consequences?

Aljazeera television has reported that 13 Israeli soldiers had been killed during clashes with Hezbollah guerrillas in a south Lebanese village. Israeli medics reported heavy casualties.

For a small nation like Israel, 13 soldiers represent a significant number.

Al Jazeera also reported that Hezbollah fighters had foiled Israeli attempts to evacuate casualties from Bint Jbeil, 4 kilometres inside Lebanon. One Hezbollah source said: "Our men can hear the screams of their wounded calling for help."

Can Israel take this sort of attrition?

Now we know why Condoleezza Rice is now prepared to work out a ceasefire, though of course dilly dallying to Israeli terms, as Israel continue to slaughter Lebanese civilians. But it’s obvious that Israel cannot continue to absorb this sort of punishment, while Hezbollah is so fanatical about fighting the Israelis it doesn’t care about the number of deaths it’s likely to suffer.

Today the Sydney Herald Morning reported the following:

The Israeli Government will review its war plan after a string of military mistakes and a failure to prevent Hezbollah firing rockets into northern Israel.

Following a 24-hour period in which Israel suffered its heaviest losses and was forced to launch an investigation into an attack that killed four United Nations observers, there is growing concern that Hezbollah may emerge from the conflict intact, effectively meaning Israel will have lost the war.

The Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, has admitted that the scale of Hezbollah's response took Israel by surprise and that the military campaign is proceeding slower than expected.

"We are running a different kind of war than the wars in the past," he said on a visit to Israel's north. "It wasn't planned, but two weeks in and during the fighting the nation is trying to help parts of the home front that have turned into a battlefront."

The Israeli army has been criticised for failing to anticipate the extent of Hezbollah's fighting capacity, and the political leadership is under pressure to explain how the campaign will meet its aims of achieving a lasting solution to the threat of missile attacks on northern Israel.

A military commentator and expert on the first Lebanon war, Ze'ev Schiff, warned that Israel was failing to achieve its military goals and risked losing its status as a regional superpower

Like their American friends in Iraq, Israel has re-entered Vietnam.

Malaysia's Mr 'Forgetful'

Ibnu Hakeem wrote the following letter to Malaysia to comment on Anwar Ibrahim’s memory and the Bank Negara forex scandal:

I refer to the letter Forex loss: Anwar’s ‘I didn’t know’ claim curious. Anwar Ibrahim's denial of knowledge of Bank Negara’s forex losses is indeed curious. When the losses came to the fore in 1994-95, Anwar was already finance minister.

Anwar has said that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made a mistake by appointing Nor Mohd Yakcop as Finance Minister II. But after Nor Mohd Yakcop was ‘fired’ following the forex scandal, it was Anwar who got Rashid Hussain to give Nor Mohd a job as managing director of RHB Research.

Then Anwar appointed Nor Mohd Yakcop chairman of Abrar Bhd - which also went bust. We cannot also forget Anwar's crony Wan Muhd Husni who was running Abrar with Nor Mohd Yakcop.

Abrar Bhd was Anwar's public listed vehicle. Another character involved in Abrar was Rahim Ghouse. Rahim Ghouse ran away to Australia and there is an arrest warrant on him till today.

These were all Anwar Ibrahim's Abrar boys.

Strange that Anwar is now denying all these. ‘Aa dia ingat, kita dah lupa kah?’ Even the name Abrar was short for Anwar bin Ibrahim.

Aiyoh, Anwar, lu mudah lupa lah! (Oh dear, Anwar, aren't you rather forgetful!)

(1) Malaysia's Mr 'I Was Surprised'
(2) Malaysia's Mr 'I Don't Know'
(3) Malaysia's Mr 'Not Responsible'

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tel Aviv Nazis targeted 10 Red Cross ambulances

Here’s an ar$e-h*le speaking:

Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said that because Foreign ministers attending crisis talks on the violence in Rome on Wednesday failed to unite in calling for an immediate ceasefire, it de facto means the Middle East conference has given Israel the green light to continue

He insisted: "We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world* ... to continue the operation,"

* comprising two other ar$e-holes, George Bush and Tony Blair

He said that in order to prevent casualties amongst Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in.

He added that Israel had given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there can be considered Hezbollah supporters.

Haim Ramon said: "All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah."

Marvellous formula for a bit of Israeli genocide of the Lebanese people. How many does he want killed - 6 millions?

Meanwhile in keeping with the spirit of 'smite thy enemies', the Israeli air force has targeted at least 10 Red Cross ambulance.

The Australian reported that the Red Cross is meant to be a universally recognised symbol of neutrality and a guaranteed passage of protection for the victims of armed conflict.

But at least 10 Lebanese ambulances bearing the emblem of the international red cross have instead become targets in Israeli air strikes that have killed more than a dozen civilian passengers being transported to hospitals in the south of the country.

The latest attack occurred on Sunday night near the small village of Quna, where two ambulances travelling in convoy were fired on by an Israeli Apache helicopter as they sped to the besieged port city of Tyre.

One of the Israeli rockets pierced the centre of the large red cross marked on the roof of one of the ambulances, as if it was used as a target.

Both ambulances' roofs were marked with crosses, blue lights flashed above them and giant International Red Cross flags flew from their rear doors. They were carrying members of the Fawaz family, who had been slightly injured during earlier bombing.

The convoy was struck by two rockets fired from an Apache helicopter, just before midnight, severely injuring all six people on board.

Do you think such people merit sympathy for their forefathers being murdered by the Nazis, when they behave and murder like Nazis?

An Invitation to Article 11 Side of Story

Penang blogger Lucia Lai has alerted us to news about the Article 11 Coalition website. We can also read the Article 11 info on her Mental Jog site.

Lucia is a strong civic activist and has impressed me with her contribution in Penang in the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami disaster.

Keep an open mind and have a look at what she and the Article 11 people have to say.

I quote a short extract to whet your appetite:

In the Federal Constitution, nine liberties or rights are regarded as fundamental. The freedom of speech, assembly and association is one of them. Article 10 states that every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression, the right to assemble peaceably and without arms, and the right to form associations. The CPPS* considers these meetings as organized by Article 11 as an important part of the fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.

* Centre for Public Policy Studies

Kelantan's Bridges of Death

Look at our marvellous country – half billion ringgit sports academy in Mother England; couple of billions for a 'vanished' scenic bridge; another 1.5 million for a jolly trek in the Himalayas, etc; but poor school kids dice with death each school day as they are forced to use a makeshift bridge.

In Pasir Mas, to get to school near Kampung Lati is virtually a life-and-death struggle for the school children. They have to cross the Banggol Jering river by treading precariously on floating plywood boards strapped together over bundles of bamboo. This has served as the pupils’ makeshift bridge for the past six years.

Student Sharidan said: "We have to be very careful so that we do not rock the boards. Sometimes the (river’s) rapid current makes it very dangerous."

The school is 200 metres from the river. Two years ago, an eight-year-old pupil drowned after losing his balance on the wobbly boards.

Another 12-year old student, Nor Aimuni Shafikah Che Awang said she would always pray before crossing the 'bridge' although she had been using it for five years.

The following is an extract of what I posted early this year in There are bridges and there are bridges:

In Pengkalan Pasir village near Kota Baru, Kelantan, its villagers cross a canal by means of a rotting wooden bridge, that had and injured a couple of people and killed even more, including the last two in 2005, 5-year old Noralili Mohd Yusof and 65-year old Khatijah Rahmatullah.

I blogged on that in February 2005 over at BolehTalk in
The Bridge of Death.

The villages had actually raised notice of the decrepit and dangerous state of the bridge to the authorities, but as usual in such a rural village, especially in PAS-controlled Kelantan, nothing was done. In such a situation where a non Barisan Nasional Party governed the State, there would be the perpetual argument over who the responsible authority had been, the State or the Federal government, but the people who were either injured or killed were all Malaysians.

One wonders how many such rural bridges and how many pot-holed tracks in the kampongs (villages) could have been repaired and how many personal computers purchased for use in the kampong schools with the RM2 billion the government has allocated to the construction of a ‘scenic’ bridge to nowhere!

I am sick of seeing poor Kelantan kids being subjected to sub-3rd world conditions in their daily lives.

MCA questioned AAB's Gag Order on Article 11 Forums

Here’s a man under siege from almost every Muslim quarters. Well, there’s Dr Mahathir, PAS and his own UMNO party. So, when members of the UMNO supreme council raised their ‘utmost’ concern to him over the inter-faith issues that were raised by the Article 11 forums, AAB has decided that he needed to armour-plate his own Islamic credentials.

He has issued an instruction for all parties to stop discussions of inter-faith issues immediately. He said such discussions would cause tension in Malaysian society.

He said: “If the discussions are not kept in check or contained, they are bound to raise tension in our multi-religious society. Religious issues are even more sensitive than ethnic issues.”

“If possible such discussions should not be carried out at all. It has passed the stage where it is worrying all of us. The Government will monitor the situation and developments.”

“Those who continue with the activities are those who want the interfaith commission (IFC) to be formed. The Government has made the decision to put a stop to the discussions on the IFC. Why must they hold more such activities?”

AAB had shot down the Inter-Faith Commission (IFC) initiative in February last year. He also told the media not to stir up sh*t on inter-faith issues.

But the Article 11 Coalition asserted that its discussions on the constitutional freedom of religion was not related to the IFC proposal.

The Coalition said: “We are very concerned that the PM’s statement to halt the public forums is based on the widespread but mistaken belief that the coalition’s activities are aimed at reviving the initiative to establish an IFC.”

“We want to take this opportunity to clarify that the forums entitled ‘Federal Constitution: Protection for All’ are in no way related with the IFC initiative.”

“The forums are also intended to highlight the concerns of civil society resulting from the plight of various individuals who are unable to obtain legal redress and who suffer as a result of the current jurisdictional uncertainty in the courts. There is no discussion about the IFC in any of the public forums or other activities.”

Amazingly, a MCA politician questioned the PM’s gag order. Kota Melaka parliamentarian Wong Nai Chee (MCA) urged the government not to ignore the issue of religious freedom in this country. He pointed out the apparent lack of understanding among the people who oppose the Article 11 forums.

He said: “Sweeping the issue under the carpet will not placate the minority groups into silence ... assuming them into a pressured position from the strident voices of majority groups.”

“Firstly, the constitutional rights of every Malaysian is a matter of public concern, and secondly, the objective of the forums is to discuss matters on freedom of religion and it does not question the position of Islam as the official religion of Malaysia.”

“Actually, the forums seeks to discuss freedom of religion in general and the legitimacy of other religions in Malaysia.”

But I think with a PM under siege from within, we may expect him not to heed nor accept any explanation from the Article 11 Coalition and least of all, from the MCA. We should expect an even less tolerant approach from him, well at least until his tussle with Dr Mahathir is over.

AAB has activated an UMNO leader's time-honoured tactic - when under seige, be an ethnic or religious hero!

The MAS Shares

Dr Mahathir pooh-pooh-ed away once-MAS towkay Tajuddin Ramli’s allegation that he bought shares in the national carrier shares on the instruction of the former PM to bail out Bank Negara.

Dr Mahathir revealed that former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin told him Tajuddin was interested in MAS shares. He said Tajuddin had earlier proposed to the Government to buy MAS shares through the exchange of Celcom and Naluri shares. Dr Mahathir claimed he nix-ed Tajuddin’s exchange proposal.

He said: “We were privatising everything at that time. When he wanted to buy the shares, we told him we wanted cash. I said if he had no money, we were not willing to sell him the shares.”

Dr Mahathir added: “I did not force him to buy MAS shares. I never asked him to do national service*. At that time the Government was not short of money. We had the money in Bank Negara, and knew how to recover the losses. We had RM 50 billion in our reserves then. We did not need his money.”

* Tajuddin had claimed that Dr Mahathir told him to buy the MAS shares as a ‘national service’ to the nation. Tajuddin borrowed RM 1.8 billion to pay for the MAS shares.

In this particular case I am inclined to believe Dr Mahathir for a number of reasons:

(1) When Tajuddin made that allegation, he was (still is) in deep financial trouble.
(2) His revelation at a crucial time in Malaysian politics seemed too ‘coincidental’.
(3) Whatever people may say about Mahathir, he has a reputation for looking after ‘his people’. Therefore abandoning a ‘faithful’ Tajuddin seemed at odds with the character of the man.
(4) Assuming Mahathir did do what Tajuddin averred, would such a powerful and intelligent man leave ‘loose ends’ floating around to haunt him subsequently?

I may be wrong but on the strength of logic and known Mahathir’s characteristics I have my doubts about Tajuddin’s allegation.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Israel deliberately killed unarmed UN observers who cried "Stop" 10 times

I wasn’t surprised when news flash announced that an Israeli air strike killed 4 unarmed UN observers. The unfortunate dead were military officers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, part of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, known as Unifil. The 2,000 strong Unifil has been operational in the border area since 1978.

There could be a number of reasons for the killing – (1) an unfortunate accident which the Israelis have claimed, accompanied with profound regrets by the Israeli PM; (2) gungho-ism in striking at unconfirmed or unverified targets by the Israeli pilot; or (3) deliberate targeting of the UN observation post to remove an independent source of observation, from witnessing planned Israeli atrocities in the area.

I wasn’t surprised because UN observers had complained of reason No 3 before, at least a couple of times in the last 30 years. The Israelis are not above such cold blooded slaughter to remove independent observers from sighting their actions.

The BBC reported that the UN observers had taken shelter in a bunker under their base because there had already been 14 Israeli artillery attacks on their position, causing the French general who commands Unifil to call Israel's military asking them to desist.

However, as they sought sheltered in the UN bunker, the post was hit by a single heavy bomb from an Israeli war plane, killing the four unarmed observers. Worse, a UN rescue team also came under fire as it searched the rubble for survivors.

UN Sec-Gen Kofi Annan was furious with the Israeli repetitive murderous actions, and said the attack was the result of deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces. He demanded a full investigation, and so did China.

New report just flashed by the BBC World said that an initial UN investigation into the incident revealed the observers were subjected to a six-hour bomb attack by Israeli forces during which they called Israel's military 10 times, not once or twice but 10 times to tell them to stop.

We know that the Israelis didn’t, but instead went ahead with the murder. We may expect that with the removal of the independent observers, there will be further Israeli atrocities, probably amounting to war crimes.

At least the Nazis observed international conventions on the conduct of war. The Israelis are worse. Well, Heil Hitler and F**k the Israelis.

UMNO's 'Silence of the Kambings'

This morning I posted on Dr Mahathir Ups the Ante, where the ole man threatens to hold an UMNO gathering to talk to UMNO people, in the face of a deliberate high level UMNO (covert) instruction to embargo UMNO members from contact with him.

Dr Mahathir is of course the most un-Malay-like leader because of his bulldozing blunt talking personality. He’s like a nuclear-powered juggernaut steam-rolling every one of his opponents in his path if they don’t get out of his way.

As an example of his blunt fearlessness, he gave it in spades to the Jews while other world leaders would cringe in fear of the powerful Jewish controlled media and political lobbies. Of course the western media had a field day with his outspokenness but did he care?

However, that’s Dr Mahathir. Other UMNO leaders like AAB are more of the non-committal Fu Mountain style, exhibiting old Malay court etiquettes and outward politeness, while talking in oblique nuances. One must read between the lines and then some.

When UMNO information chief, Muhammad Muhammad Taib, was asked about Dr Mahathir’s threat to hold a gathering of party members to speak on his concerns, Taib weaved into traditional Malay political language by saying that “UMNO had its party discipline and everybody should toe the line, and that any effort to weaken UMNO or its leadership will be looked in that context.”

What does that tell you, remembering that Taib was asked specifically about Dr Mahathir intending to talk to UMNO members about his piss-off?

Then PM AAB has this to say when asked to comment on Dr Mahathir comments last Saturday that UMNO was not giving him (Dr Mahathir) a chance to meet with members.

AAB averred that UMNO divisions are free to take whatever action they want to protect their interests and prevent quarrels within the party.

What was he really saying?

He continued: “We do not want anything to happen in the party that will later cause a split. So if UMNO divisions want to take certain actions for the good of their own divisions, that is within their right.”

Isn't he saying, don't f**king talk to HIM if you know what's f**king for you, and don't f**king say I ordered you?

Then AAB responded to the reported invitation of several UMNO divisions which had invited Dr Mahathir to address them, by reminding that council members and UMNO Cabinet ministers would be opening the division meetings due to begin on Aug 3, where they would speak and provide explanations on issues.

He added: “It was this way before, it is this way now and it will stay this way for the future. Everyone has his or her responsibilities.''

If that wasn't a warning to UMNO people not to provide Dr Mahathir the opportunity to hog the division general meeting's lime lights, what was it then?

What is AAB hiding from UMNO members?

Dr Mahathir Ups the Ante

In High Noon for AAB? I mentioned that AAB’s advisors had embargoed UMNO people from the former PM – first, UMNO Kelantan was forced to cancel an earlier invitation to Dr Mahathir, then UMNO clubs in London were told not to meet the former PM, and now UMNO Selangor has been told to cancel a dinner where Dr Mahathir would be the guest of honour.

Then AAB’s people denied Mahathir’s allegations. So the ole man has upped the ante.

He said: “They say it’s not true that I cannot speak to Umno members so I would like to have an Umno gathering to speak to Umno people.”

“If they allow me to speak then I speak, because they say they are not stopping me from speaking to Umno members. So, okay, I’m going to organise an Umno meeting.”

Mahathir revealed to us that the UMNO leadership had stopped five party divisions, which sought contact with him, from having anything to do with him.

“So far they (Umno) have stopped five groups from having anything to do with me. Those people have invited me to speak to them (but) they have been told ‘no’ - they (Umno) cannot allow me to speak to them.”

“When I speak to the NGOs (non-governmental organisations), they complain there are PAS members there, so I must control people who came to hear me also. Newspapers now black out (my news), people who wrote in letters supporting me cannot get them published.”

Asked what will be the agenda of his Umno gathering, Mahathir replied: “Anything that Umno members don’t understand. They don’t allow me to speak, so how to expect people to understand (what’s going on).”

Malaysia's Mr 'I Was Surprised'

Mr ‘I don’t know’ brought out the forex issue, obviously to damn his arch foe Dr Mahathir. But he overplayed his hand when he excused former Bank Negara governor (late) Jaafar Hussein as basically innocent and generally clueless as to the humongous shenanigan going on.

It would seem as if he wanted Mahathir and a couple of others to be the main recipients of the damning impact from his whistle-blowing, even though his whistle blowing brought out more questions about him than Mahathir, as I posted in Malaysia's Mr 'I Don't Know' and Malaysia's Mr 'Not Responsible'.

Anwar’s wish to have the forex scandal revived had actually worked against his reputation. For a start, Malaysiakini reader Guna Sahathevan questioned Anwar's 'curious' claim he wasn't aware of, and surprised by the forex activites. Guna then articulated a series of news items showing the 'banking world' knew the Malaysian Central Bank was dabbling in 'gambling'. The series and publishing dates of those news items pointed to the unlikelihood of Anwar not being aware - as I had posted in Malaysia's Mr 'I Don't Know'.

Then, Rosli Yaakop, who was the bank’s economics department deputy manager until April 1994, shot another hole in Anwar's story. Rosli refuted Anwar’s assertions that the late Jaffar Hussein wasn’t directly involved. Rosli said Jaafar was among the main architects of the foreign exchange speculation that caused losses of up to RM 30 billion.

He rejected what Anwar had said. Rosli asserted that, contrary to Anwar's statement, Jaafar did know about the losses because he was right in the thick of it.

Anwar, who was then Finance Minister during the financial debacle, had recently named Dr Mahathir, Daim and Nor Mohamed as the triad who brought about the collosal losses.

Rosli said Jaafar could not be freed from sharing the responsibility together with Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop for the losses that occurred between 1992 to 1994. He added that Nor Mohamed was considered as Jaafar’s blue-eyed boy.

Rosli proved why he knew what was going on: “I was at Bank Negara then and I knew the inside story. Among the main architects of the forex speculation was the governor himself and Nor Mohamed, who implemented the speculation (scheme).”

Just a matter of interest, Rosli is currently PAS Negri Sembilan chief, so perhaps PAS doesn’t love Anwar as much as it used to. Maybe PAS has now fallen in love with Dr Mahathir ;-)

Rosli said Jaffar had initially sought to mitigate the situation by claiming it to be merely losses on paper. This was later disproved, with the real sum amounting to billions of ringgit.

He advised that “Jaafar’s biggest mistake while leading Bank Negara was placing too much trust in Nor Mohamed and failing to discern breach of Bank Negara regulations and (currency) market norms.”

He pronounced that, all said and done, the actions of Jaafar and Nor Mohamed had led the people’s money to “go down the drain” and had burdened the public.

He said: “Looking back, the punishment meted out to the late Jaafar Hussein and Nor Mohamed was overly mild and was not commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.”

However, I feel a bit sorry for the family of the late Jaafar Hussein. Why does Anwar have to dig up a story and then twist it around to an extent that people who knew what was going on would come out to prove him wrong?

Jaafar Hussein as governor of Bank Negara had failed in his responsibility but had already paid for it. He has long gone.

Unfortunately Anwar’s action has raked up the mud, the shameful memories, something best-forgotten for the family of the late Jaafar Hussein. To Anwar it might have been just collateral damage in his attempt to strike at Mahathir, but to Jaafar’s family, where would they now put their face on a matter that had died away long ago but resurrected for Anwar’s personal revenge?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israelis using prohibited cluster bombs

A disturbing article from the Sydney Morning Herald about Israeli use of cluster bombs while attacking Lebanese villages:
Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using artillery-fired cluster bombs that disperse after impact in populated areas of Lebanon.

The human rights organisation's researchers said cluster munitions were used in an attack on the village of Blida in southern Lebanon on July 19, killing one and wounding at least 12 civilians, including seven children.

Human Rights Watch said its researchers photographed cluster munitions in the arsenal of Israeli artillery teams on the Israel-Lebanon border.

"Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons when used around civilians," Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

"They should never be used in populated areas." [...]

Human Rights Watch said it had photographed M483A1 artillery shells stored on the Israeli side of the border, which deliver 88 cluster submunitions per shell and have a failure rate of 14 per cent, often leaving behind dangerous unexploded shells.

It said it believed the use of cluster grenades in populated areas could violate a ban on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law.
Is there no limit to those Israelis' iniquity, no decency left in their morals?

The world doesn't owe those murderous Israelis any more debt or blood-guilt. The world's slate of guilt-conscience should have been wiped clean by now, if we consider the heinous manner the Jewish State had acted against the Palestinians and Lebanese. Like the Nazis who punished their forefathers, they too demonstrate the same unmitigated evil and malice towards innocent Lebanese and Palestinian civilians.

UMNO Leadership Split?

I suspect either Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang or some reporter in Malaysiakini has been reading KTemoc Konsiders ;-)

Yesterday I posted Defiant Sports Minister Snubbed PM?, where I mentioned that Azalina Othman Said, Sports Minister had rudely snubbed PM AAB’s diplomatic hint to her to drop off the proposed sports complex in UK.

AAB stated that the Brits weren’t going to let any new infrastructure development occur at the TARRC site because it was gazetted as a heritage site. But she was defiant in pursuing the formation of the sports centre outside London.

What could possibly lead a junior minister to snub and defy the PM?

Then this morning I read another news item (I’ll discuss below) that I believe might just explain the deliberate sign of rebellion by Azalina. But before I could leave the office to indulge in a bit of blogging, Malaysiakini jumped ahead of me by publishing a statement by Lim Kit Siang who analysed the why’s and wherefore’s of the politically-rambo Azalina.

Lim said Azalina’s behaviour raised eyebrows as it is an ‘open defiance’ of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Sheesh, Lim even used my word ‘defiance’. Lim sinseh, this is sheer plagiarism ;-)

Then Lim said what I said, that AAB was dismissing the project in a diplomatic manner. Lim described it as a “very diplomatic face-saving way out”.

Well, we know from my posting yesterday that Azalina said her ministry will pursue the project despite the objections because blah blah blah … and that the Finance Ministry has the last say on the matter as it is a government project. By the by, isn’t AAB also the Finance Minister?

Lim asked “why was such public disassociation from the prime minister’s statement so urgent that Azalina could not wait until the next meeting of the cabinet committee on sports in September to seek guidance?”

He suggested: “Very complex factors and forces, which have nothing to do with raising Malaysian sports to international standards, seem to be at work.”

“In fact, there are those who wonder whether the sports complex will mark the first cabinet split and revolt in the Abdullah premiership.”

Then Lim went on to demand that Azalina come clean with the cost and the money already spent in the feasibility and other studies, and what have been planned for the short, mid and long term developments, and how the eight ‘core sports’ - squash, hockey, badminton, football, aquatics, athletics, bowling and gymnastics - will benefit Malaysians.

Remember I had averred that Azalina’s plan to ‘share facilities’ with the rubber people would only satisfy the administrative aspects of the complex. Those 8 core sports would require training facilities like swimming pools, athletic and football fields and ball courts, etc. How would these be achieved if the Brits say bugger off?

But Lim missed a very important news item in this morning’s Star Online, where none other than DPM, Najib Razak, who chairs the Cabinet committee on sports, spoke out in support of Azalina. He stated that the concept of the centre had been approved but details have yet to be worked out.

He said: “The proposal is under the 9th Malaysia Plan. No amount has been approved by the Cabinet committee pending our discussion with the Finance Ministry.”

“We will only allow an amount that is considered reasonable. Don’t worry, when we decide, we will take into account the people’s views.”

However, to be fair, Najib reiterated the PM’s statement last week that the Government would wait for the decision of the British authorities before making a decision.

While this seems logical, the fact that he supported Azalina who defied the PM would be read as a subtle split in cabinet solidarity. In traditional Malay court verbal manoeuvres, a hint is as solid and pointed as Hang Tuah’s Taming Sari. Then, there’s the 'Najib' known for his soft and ready compliance with his boss. His open support of Azalina against the PM has been unprecedented.

Read it anyway you like, but what we have here may be the first sign of an UMNO top level rift, in all the traditional subtle shadow play of Malay court intrigues.

High Noon for AAB?

High Noon for AAB?

On Sunday I posted Elegant Silence Elicits Suspicions where I noted AAB finally discarded his so-called ‘elegant’ silence to mention a few humble words about his relationship with Mahathir (AAB admitted that he was the one who sought a friendly meeting with the old man in Japan) and at the same time disavow that his son-in-law was running the country for him.

I remarked I had believed, and I still do, that AAB made those long overdue and very grudging response to a number of allegations against him, not because he discovered a new-found commitment to public accountability, but more to offset adverse political factors within UMNO bearing on him.

By breaking his silence, he was addressing UMNO rather than the general Malaysian public. He realised by then his arrogant silence was disturbing UMNO members about his leadership, the alleged influence of his son-in-law and the vexed question of whether national sovereignty has been, as Dr Mahathir alleged, sold off to a foreign power.

Nothing like a little xenophobia to stir UMNO members up. One thing’s for sure, the ole man knew which Malay button to press.

There’s no doubt AAB has been badly shaken. His advisors had made it worse by attempting to embargo UMNO people from the former PM – first, UMNO Kelantan was forced to cancel an earlier invitation to Dr Mahathir, then UMNO clubs in London were told not to meet the former PM (though the act-dunno denials have just emerged), and now UMNO Selangor has been told to cancel a dinner where Dr Mahathir would be the guest of honour.

Mr Opposition agrees with me, when he commented to Malaysiakini that the second round of the political tussle between AAB and Dr Mahathir will be probably the most important and decisive one. Lim Kit Siang believes that this coming round will determine whether the Abdullah premiership will last the full distance.

He pronounced: “This is because it is the battle for the hearts and minds of UMNO which will decide the tenure and duration of Abdullah’s leadership.”

Precisely what I had said in my Sunday posting, Elegant Silence Elicits Suspicions.

Lim said that he understood Mahathir has been invited to officiate at several UMNO divisional general meetings next month. This is bad news for AAB because he would find it difficult to cancel divisional general meetings.

Lim warned that if AAB failed to realise the grave challenge posed to his premiership and allows the impression he cannot satisfactorily respond to the challenge, his fragile hold on UMNO’s loyalties will be broken.

Rumours of the powerful “Fourth Floor” of the PM’s office haven't help, as those UMNO top officials, who feel they themselves may be marginalised by the callow cabal, may decide to throw their lot in with the anti-AAB camp, not necessarily Dr Mahathir’s.

Could this be the reason that a large number of UMNO ministers including Najib didn’t turn up to greet AAB when he returned from abroad recently, as indicated by Malaysiakini reader Kim Quek?

Kim stated: "In fact, the moment of decision for Najib (to challenge or not to challenge Abdullah) may be nearer than most people think, judging from the unusual events that took place over the past few days."

"On July 15, Saturday at 9 pm, PM Abdullah’s plane touched down at the Subang air force base, returning him from an 18-day overseas holiday. On hand to receive him were the top guns of the MCA (president Ong Ka Ting, his deputy and ministers) but not the top guns of Umno. Conspicuously absent was deputy president Najib, who until then had been in the habit of receiving Abdullah at the airport from his overseas trips in recent months."

"The gives rise to an intriguing question. This tussle of power between the present and former leader of Umno is publicly staged as Umno’s internal affair, and Abdullah’s current home-coming after a long leave at this crucial moment was supposed to be a special occasion for Umno to make a big demonstration of support and solidarity with the incumbent leader."

"So is it not strange that on hand to welcome Adullah were not Umno’s top leaders but the MCA’s? What good reasons could there be for Najib and the other top Umno ministers to be absent for the welcoming party?"

"And even more queer is Najib’s flight to London the very next day - a Sunday - well, before his boss could return to office and resume his duties. Surely Najib could hang on for a few more days more to update his boss after such a long absence?"

Intriquing observations and questions!

Then also, could this be the reason that Anwar Ibrahim may be taking two bites of the cherry, by prevaricating over the UN Sec-Gen’s position, though not rejecting it outright? Has there been feelers sent out to 'recruit' him as a hired gun and ally?

Dr Mahathir’s pebble of sand in the Johor Straits has caused more than ripples, in fact a political tsunami for Malaysia in general, and AAB in particular.

I am going to say it again, given the all powerful UMNO's strangle-hold on Malaysian politics, only an internal UMNO threat can shake up an UMNO minister.