Tuesday, August 31, 2021

United States has been a paper tiger and ultimately an unreliable ally.


Joe Biden wants a global democratic alliance but does he risk alienating crucial US allies?

President Biden is working to make Americans "feel better about themselves" after the turbulent Trump years, Thomas Graham says.(AP: Melina Mara)

Joe Biden's mission to rebuild America's foreign policy was already facing difficulties well before the fall of Afghanistan; snagged, ironically, on the very ideal he set to define it — the strengthening of democracy.

Many analysts argue the US President should now tone down his soaring rhetoric about building a global democratic bloc and focus instead on healing the fractured American polity.

They warn the Biden administration's current approach risks alienating crucial democratic and non-democratic allies alike and it could drive them into the hands of China.

The democracy paradox

"America is back!" President Biden proclaimed at a G7 meeting in mid-June, before immediately drawing battle lines.

Biden used the G7 summit with some of the world's most powerful leaders to lay out America's foreign policy.(AP: Patrick Semansky)

"I think we are in a contest," he said, "not with China per se, but with ... autocratic governments around the world."

It was a test, he told the gathering, that would ultimately decide whether liberal democratic values would prevail in the rapidly changing political world of the 21st century.

The self-declared leader of the free world then went on to outline the creation of the Build Back Better World Partnership initiative to rival China's Belt and Road initiative and a new global alliance to preserve democracy — a grouping of like-minded nations which America itself intended to lead.

Thomas Graham, a distinguished fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, says the speech wasn't just pitched for international ears.

"Certainly Joe Biden was thinking about how he could make Americans feel better about themselves after four disruptive years of Donald Trump," Mr Graham says.

"But it's also important to remember that Joe Biden deeply believes in democracy."

In fact, the notion of crafting a new global democratic alliance, Mr Graham points out, has been part of Biden's political mantra for decades. It was a central theme of his election campaign in 2019.

Seen in that context, the current turmoil in Kabul represents a particular embarrassment.

Injured people taken to a Kabul hospital after suicide bombings outside the city's airport in August.

Far from preserving and strengthening democracy, the speedy withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, and that country's subsequent collapse, has left a fledgling democratic nation to fall into the hands of authoritarian extremists.

It's a point that Chinese state media has sought to capitalise on ever since.

"The death knell of US hegemony" was the way Xinhua News Agency described events, warning nations in the Indo-Pacific, particularly Taiwan, that the United States was a paper tiger and ultimately an unreliable ally.

Ni biasa lah dengan negeri US

More pragmatism, less polemic

Professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak, the director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Thailand's Chulalongkorn University, says the situation in Afghanistan has damaged US credibility in the South Asia region.

But he told the BBC that the extent of that damage in the long term depended on where Washington goes from here.

"If [the US] fully resource their Indo-Pacific strategy, this could be a more focused foreign policy for the Biden administration, away from the Middle East and the wars that cannot be won," he said. Biden's commitment to US partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, as detailed in the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance paper in March, could be key.

Professor Pongsudhirak's comments came as US Vice-President Kamala Harris was dispatched on a diplomatic mission to South-East Asia to bolster confidence in the United States' ongoing commitment to the region, visiting both Vietnam and Singapore.

But notably, for an administration centered on preserving and strengthening democratic values, neither [Vietnam or Singapore] fits the liberal democratic bill: the first is a one-party state and the second could best be described as a nominal democracy, where elections are conducted regularly, but where the governing party has never lost a vote.

The China syndrome

For Susannah Patton, from the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, the realities of working with countries that aren't an obvious fit underpin the dangers of adopting a values-led approach to international relations.

"Democracies should work more with other democracies to strengthen their resilience," she says, "but likewise I think almost everybody agrees that, at times, democracies will need to work with non-democracies."

"The idea that President Biden has spoken about is that the US is engaged in systems competition with China — that, as he has put it, the world is at an inflection point between democracy and autocracy," Ms Patton says.And if countering China's political and economic aggression in the Indo-Pacific is the ultimate goal, as Ms Patton suggests, then White House rhetoric about establishing a new Cold-War style alliance risks backfiring on the United States.

"For many countries in the region, the real source of China's appeal or attractiveness is not its ideological system, but they do see advantages in the economic opportunities that working with China provides."

And those "hedging" countries, as Ms Patton describes them, don't want to be forced to make a choice between American values and Chinese money.

But Australia chose 
American values (whatever it was/is at a certain point in time) to Chinese money

Hans Kundnani from Chatham House, a London-based think tank, believes many European nations also feel uncomfortable about US attempts to rally them under a flag of liberal democracy.

"People in the Biden administration would like to think that democracies all share the same interests, particularly in relation to China, but it's just much, much more complex than that," Professor Kundnani says.

"You see that particularly in terms of the difficulties the Biden administration is having getting Europeans to buy into this kind of transatlantic approach to China.

"I think the Biden administration recognises some of those difficulties or is beginning to recognise some of those difficulties, which is why I'm sceptical that this will eventually turn into a formal alliance," he says.

A matter of definition

There's also the question of what it means to be democratic.

Countries like India and the Philippines may be democracies on paper, Professor Kundnani points out, but their leaders are increasingly autocratic.

And some current NATO members like Hungary and Turkey continue to slide toward one-party rule and openly reject the idea of liberalism.

American leaders routinely describe their nation as a beacon of democracy. But the American political system has been greatly tested in recent years.Then there's the United States itself. Even if a new global alliance were to be formed, would the US be fit to lead it?

Former president Donald Trump stands accused of aiding an insurgency, while US polling suggests a majority of Republican voters believe Biden stole last year's election.

Thomas Graham says many people in Asia and the West remain unconvinced that America's internal political ructions have been put to rest.

"One of the fundamental questions that everyone is asking is who is the aberration, Trump or Biden? What's going to happen in 2024?

"Former president Trump has not faded away as many had hoped. He is still toying with the idea of running again in 2024. Even if he doesn't, it's quite likely that the Republican nominee will be someone who will pursue a foreign policy quite similar to Donald Trump's.

At CPAC, Donald Trump hinted he may run for US president again.

"So, the fears and concerns are very real, they are not exaggerated," he says.

Mr Graham believes President Biden needs to rework his foreign policy approach, to think not in smaller terms, but in more pragmatic terms.

"The President would be wise to start with a much less ambitious agenda, not gathering a community of democracies but trying to work with some key democratic allies to try to defend democracy in the areas where it has taken root."

And, he says, it's finally time for America to ditch the missionary approach to democracy that took over US foreign policy in the 20th century.

"Given the very real domestic problems of the United States — the deep polarisation, the political dysfunction — the first task, if a president is interested in advancing democracy worldwide, is healing the United States and putting the United States on a firmer democratic foundation."

After Thava Sagayam's tragic death, another Indian hit the dust

“KJ must probe Ehambaran’s death, axe Kedah health director”

By Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy

COVID-19 patient K Ehambaran from Sungai Petani could have been saved had there been medical personnel stationed in the ward of the old Sungai Petani COVID-19 Hospital.

According to his daughter E Chitradevi, who lodged a police report this morning in Sungai Petani, her father was admitted to the hospital on Aug 26, due to “severe COVID-19 pneumonia”.

When she called the ward on Aug 29, she was told by one of the hospital staff that the father was in good condition.

It was on Aug 30 that she came to know through a video on Whatsapp that her father had died.

The video showed her father struggling to get up from the bed and it was cut short to continue with the footage showing her father lying motionless on the floor with another patient trying to revive him.

Chitradevi, in her police report, raised the question whether her father died as result of the fall from the bed or he died as result of the severe COVID-19 pneumonia.

The Kedah Health Department director Dr Othman Warijo was hasty in his response to this incident. Rather than investigating the death, he denied allegation that no hospital staff attended to Ehambaran.

Nevertheless, he said that a full investigation would be conducted to ascertain the cause of the death.

Although Ehambaran died on Aug 30, there seems no urgency for a full investigation. When it comes to the matters of life and death, I do not know why the Kedah Heath Department is dragging its feet on the matter.

If Othman had not investigated the matter, then why blindly deny the allegation that hospital staff was not present?

Yes, Ehambaran was a COVID-19 patient, he was brought in for treatment. He might have fallen from the bed before he unsuccessfully sought to get up.

It was not a hopeless case. He could have been saved had there been hospital staff present. The matter of him falling down and getting up must have a taken a few minutes, but what happened to the staff?

Why were they missing, was it because they decided that the patient cannot be saved? Why would Othman blindly defend the staff but in actual fact, there was no one available?

If Othman cannot take up responsibility, then the honourable thing for him to do is to resign. Those staff were supposed to have been present should be sacked for dereliction of duty.

And I wonder what would be the response of the newly minted Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin. Is he going to take action on those responsible for Ehambaran’s death? Or is it that his death going to be just another number, in the long list of those died of COVID-19 infection?

But in the case of Ehambaran, he he could have been alive today if the hospital staff had attended to him.

The pandemic is severe but particularly nasty on the poor and members of the working class.

Public hospitals are for the poor and the unfortunate, but sadly Ehambaran’s family has found out that even the poor have no place in public hospitals.

COVID-19 is a killer disease but with care and understanding, lives can be saved. Unfortunately, Ehambaran was chucked in the ward to fend for himself and he died a terrible death.

Shame on the old Sungai Petani Hospital, a hospital that has been converted to treat COVID-19 patients. – Aug 31, 2021.

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.

Nancy Pelosi what a beautiful sight to behold


Last US military plane out of Kabul

Yanks cabut-ed kuaikuai kaukau


Afghanistan: Last US military flight departs ending America's longest war

media caption

the last American soldier board the final US flight out of Afghanistan

The last US military flight has left Kabul airport, marking the end of a 20-year presence in Afghanistan and America's longest war.

Officials said the last C17 aircraft took off with the US ambassador onboard after midnight local time on Tuesday.

They added that the diplomatic mission to assist those unable to leave before the deadline would continue.

Celebratory gunfire by the Taliban was heard after the last plane departed.

The aircraft's departure was the final chapter in a contentious military effort, which eventually saw the US handing Afghanistan back to the very Islamist militants it sought to root out when American troops entered the country in 2001.


Taliban fighters were quick to make use of discarded US military equipment as they entered Kabul airport early on Tuesday

It also was the end of a massive evacuation effort that began on 14 August soon after the Taliban took over the country.

America's top military commander in the region, Gen Kenneth McKenzie, said that in total, US and coalition aircraft evacuated more than 123,000 civilians - an average of more than 7,500 civilians per day during that time.

Speaking after the announcement, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the evacuation a "massive military, diplomatic and humanitarian undertaking" and one of the most challenging the US has ever carried out.

"A new chapter has begun," he said. "The military mission is over. A new diplomatic mission has begun."

He said the Taliban needed to earn its legitimacy and would be judged on the extent to which it fulfilled its commitments and obligations to allow civilians free travel to and from the country, protected the rights of all Afghans including women, and prevented terror groups from gaining a foothold.

He added that while the US had suspended its diplomatic presence in Kabul, transferring operations to the Qatari capital of Doha, it would continue its "relentless efforts" to help Americans, and Afghans with US passports, to leave Afghanistan if they wanted to.

President Joe Biden issued a short statement thanking all those involved in the evacuation operation over the last 17 days and saying he would address the nation later on Tuesday.

Following the pullout, Taliban fighters were seen exploring Kabul airport and taking over its facilities, including a hangar with aircraft apparently left behind by the US. Some fighters were wearing discarded US military uniforms and equipment.

A Los Angeles Times photojournalist on the scene said the fighters were already organising supplies, checking equipment that was left behind and securing the perimeter.

Anwar: Selangor MB to explain degazettement of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve to party leaders


Anwar: Selangor MB to explain degazettement of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve to party leaders tomorrow

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that the degazettement decision was never communicated to party leaders, adding that PKR had already disapproved the proposal last year. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari will be giving a detailed explanation on his decision to degazette 536.7 hectares of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLFNR) to party leaders tomorrow, says PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

In a Facebook post, the Port Dickson MP said that the degazettement decision was never communicated to party leaders, adding that PKR had already disapproved the proposal last year.

“I have been following the actions of the Selangor state government which had approved the degazettement of KLNFR in May. I would like to note that the Selangor legislative assembly had rejected the proposal.

“The decision was also never communicated to party leaders. PKR last year had already informed the mentri besar to scrap the idea. He has been asked to provide a detailed explanation on the matter in a meeting tomorrow with party leaders,” he said.

Yesterday, it was reported that state executive councillor Hee Loy Sian told the Selangor legislative assembly in Shah Alam that the decision for the degazettement was made under Section 12 of the National Forestry Act (Adoption) Enactment 1985 in the state executive council meeting last May 5 and validated in another meeting on May 19.

He said the land will be given to a private company, Gabungan Indah Sdn Bhd, for a mixed-commercial development.

KLNFR — made up of reportedly 8,000-year-old forests — was gazetted as a permanent forest reserve (HSK) covering 7,246.96 hectares back in 1927.

Merdeka Day's Shit Creek


On 64th National Day, Malaysia sees 20,897 new Covid-19 infections

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 -- The Health Ministry registered 20,897 new Covid-19 cases on Malaysia’s 64th National Day.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said infections in Selangor have breached the 600,000 mark with the latest addition of 4,371 cases.

This is followed by Sabah (2,594), Sarawak (2,285) and Johor (2,159), making them only four states that recorded cases above the 2,000 mark.

As for other states, Kedah recorded 1,942 cases, followed by Penang with 1,732 cases, Kelantan (1,479), Perak (1,204), Kuala Lumpur (1,003), Pahang (798), Terengganu (608), Melaka (417) and Negri Sembilan (215).

Two other states recorded a two-digit increase, namely Putrajaya (25) and Perlis (64), while Labuan only recorded one new case.

This also brings Malaysia’s cumulative Covid-19 cases to 1,746,254.

Split votes and force politicians to unite, says blogger

Split votes and force politicians to unite, says blogger

Blogger Syed Akbar Ali’s idea to split votes was also inspired by Israel’s political scene which saw Zionist parties forming an alliance with an Arab party.

PETALING JAYA: For blogger Syed Akbar Ali, a minority government is better for the majority now.

Syed, who runs OutSyed The Box, said the current system needs an overhaul, especially with the past and present ruling coalitions habitually retaining failed policies.

To do this, he hopes to convince voters, especially those in the same households, to split their ballots.

“Voters need to teach politicians a lesson by ensuring that they do not win with a huge majority, similar to the situation we have now,” he told FMT, referring to the current administration’s slim majority.

“We need politicians to come to their senses.”

Which is why he has kickstarted an initiative, literally called “Split Your Vote” or “Pecahkan Undi Anda”.

By doing so, he explained, it would force political parties to join forces to form a government as none of them would have secured an absolute majority.

Syed noted that Umno and PAS formed a pact after Umno lost power in the last general election, an alliance which was never thought plausible before.

But, he said, the fractured political scene “needs to be accelerated”.

“We need to break them up some more. I would like to see DAP and Umno team up,” he said.

Such an alliance, he said, would mean the politics in the country has matured.

And it would also compel them to come up with better “doable policies” which, in the long run, could also mean a brighter chance of being re-elected.

“They need to realise that it is their unworkable policies which lose votes. They can only win big by listening to the people and changing the policies,” he said.

Syed dismissed the notion that splitting votes could lead to MPs being bought over by rivals aiming to form a bigger bloc, saying “the more broken up it is, the more expensive of an exercise it would be for potential suitors”.

His push for votes to be split comes in the wake of another movement, called “Pangkah Burung”, which aims to disrupt the country’s political scene and course-correct democracy by pushing more independents to contest general elections.

But his call for votes to be split was also inspired by Israel’s political scene which saw Zionist political parties form an alliance with an Arab party following four elections in two years without a clear winner and the desire to oust longtime prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“When you cannot win big, you have to sit with people you don’t like and you are forced to think why you could not win a huge chunk of votes and assess what you have done wrong,” he said.

Terengganu man threatens wife with divorce if she goes for Covid-19 jab


Report: Terengganu man threatens wife with divorce if she goes for Covid-19 jab

A dose of the Pfizer-BioTech Covid-19 vaccine is pictured at the UiTM Hospital in Sungai Buloh March 2, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — In an attempt to prevent his wife from getting her Covid-19 shot, a Muslim man in Terengganu went as far as telling her he would divorce her by reciting lafaz taklik.

Malay daily Berita Harian reported the couple to be in a long-distance relationship and that the wife had received the first dose of her Covid-19 vaccine on August 24 without her husband’s knowledge.

Fearful of her husband’s declaration, the woman, a housewife, contacted a Syarie lawyer for legal advice to find out if her husband’s declaration will hold up in an Islamic court and dissolve their marriage.

Syarie lawyer Maryam Wafda Kamilen told the newspaper that she had been contacted by the woman and had since referred her to the Shariah Court for further legal advice.

“During our phone conversation, the woman’s husband warned her against getting vaccinated, and should she do so, he would perform taklik.

“His words worried her enough that she contacted me for legal counsel and to determine if the declaration was valid or not,” Maryam was quoted as saying.

The term lafaz taklik refers to the public profession by a husband during the marriage ceremony, in which he formulates a condition as part of his promise to protect his spouse.

The husband who is found to have breached the taklik means the woman is able to seek a divorce if she so chooses, though she must first prove that her husband has breached the taklik.

Maryam said she has received at least three to four similar cases related to Covid-19 since the government started ramping up the national vaccination campaign.

“Our advice to them is to file the case in the Shariah Court as quickly as possible,” the lawyer was quoted saying.

Typical Yankee Cruel Callous Couldn't-be-bothered Fckup - US drone strike near Kabul airport killed 10 innocent members of one family, including six children


Afghanistan: US investigates civilian deaths in Kabul strike

Relative of drone strike victims: "Why did they kill our family... our children?"

A US drone strike near Kabul airport ended up killing 10 members of one family, including six children, surviving relatives have told the BBC.

The 10 were killed when a car parked at their home was struck by an explosion on Sunday.

The US military said it was targeting a vehicle carrying at least one person associated with the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group.

It said people nearby may have been hit in the aftermath of the strike.

The youngest child to be killed was two-year-old Sumaya, and the oldest child was 12-year-old Farzad, the family said.

"It's wrong, it's a brutal attack, and it's happened based on wrong information," Ramin Yousufi, a relative of the victims, told the BBC.

He added, tearfully: "Why have they killed our family? Our children? They are so burned out we cannot identify their bodies, their faces."

Another relative, Emal Ahmadi, told the BBC that it was his two-year-old daughter who was killed in the strike.

Mr Ahmadi said he and others in the family had applied for evacuation to the US, and had been waiting for a phone call telling them to go to the airport.

That included one of his relatives, Ahmad Naser, who was killed in the strike and had previously worked as a translator with US forces. Other victims had previously worked for international organisations and held visas allowing them entry to the US.

The US, Mr Ahmadi added, had made "a mistake, it was a big mistake".

image caption
The aftermath of the drone strike in the Afghan capital, Kabul

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters that they were "not in a position to dispute" reports of civilian casualties, and that they were "assessing and... investigating".

"Make no mistake, no military on the face of the earth works harder to avoid civilian casualties than the United States' military, and nobody wants to see innocent life taken," he said. "We take it very, very seriously and when we know that we have caused innocent life to be lost in the conduct of our operations, we're transparent about it."

He then defended the intelligence about "what we believed to be a very real, a very specific and a very imminent threat" against Kabul's Hamad Karzai International airport from IS-K (Islamic State Khorasan Province), IS's Afghan affiliate.

In an earlier statement, US Central Command said there had been a number of "substantial and powerful subsequent explosions" following the drone strike.

It said the explosions suggested there had been "a large amount of explosive material inside, that may have caused additional casualties".

Central Command had previously said the strike was successful at "eliminating an imminent" threat to Kabul's airport.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Johor Sultan: MM2H conditions too restrictive, must be reviewed immediately

Johor Sultan: MM2H conditions too restrictive, must be reviewed immediately

JOHOR Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar today said that the new ‘Malaysia My Second Home’ (MM2H) conditions announced recently are too restrictive and should be revised immediately.

He said the Government should reconsider the new requirements as it will dampen foreigners’ interest in coming to Malaysia and force existing MM2H pass holders to flee the country.

“This means massive revenue loss for Malaysia,” he warned.

“The review was supposed to make things better. But the new criteria are only going to drive investors and tourists away from Malaysia,” His Majesty said today (30 Aug).

“This is very disappointing, especially for us in Johor as we have a long history with Singapore and her people. The new requirements will turn them away from investing in Johor,” noted His Majesty on his official Facebook page today.

Sultan Ibrahim said the Government should also consider reverting to the original MM2H conditions as it has been effective in promoting Malaysia as an international retirement destination.

Since its inception in 2002, only 57,478 foreigners have been granted MM2H long-term passes. However, the programme was halted in Sept 2018 for a review, with new rules announced just last week.

Under the sweeping new regulations, foreigners must prove liquid assets worth between RM500,000 and RM1.5 mil depending on their age. They must also have a monthly offshore income of at least RM40,000.

Additionally, they must stay a minimum of 90 days in the country per year.

The MM2H visas are also now valid for only five years, instead of 10 previously.

“The revisions are very negative,” noted His Majesty, adding that it was ridiculous to subject even existing MM2H pass holders to these new conditions.

“When we continue to flip-flop on conditions, how can we promote Malaysia as an investment destination?” he asked.

Tuanku Sultan Johor said the Government should be more compassionate and lenient to foreigners keen to settle and make Malaysia their retirement home.

“When you keep shifting the goalposts, foreigners will lose confidence in Malaysia. This is not the right time to raise fees.

“Let us help put Malaysia back on the world map as the best place to live for high net-worth foreigners. Drastic changes like this will tarnish our image and will make us a laughingstock of the world,” he warned.

Long-term MM2H visa holders are said to have invested nearly RM12 bil in the economy since 2002. They reportedly spend around RM10,000 a month, with many having purchased high-end properties here. – Aug 30, 2021

Corrupt Selangor officials linked to ‘higher power’, says MB

Corrupt Selangor officials linked to ‘higher power’, says MB

Selangor menteri besar Amirudin Shari says the corruption cases in the state stem from a bigger investigation, which is not just in Selangor.

SHAH ALAM: Several high-ranking Selangor officials nabbed for alleged corruption are connected to “higher powers” linked to a bigger scandal involving some RM3.08 billion in projects, says Selangor menteri besar Amirudin Shari.

It was previously reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had arrested several top Selangor officials over alleged corruption related to projects in the state worth millions.

Speaking at the Selangor state assembly today, Amirudin said that based on the information he has received, the corrupt activities took place between 2012 and 2016.

He added the corrupt activities also took place at a “higher level”. However, he stopped short of revealing more.

“Where did this case come from? It came from a bigger investigation, it is not just in Selangor. It started with one case involving a cartel for projects worth more than RM3.08 billion ‘up there’.”

He said that to date, the corrupt state officials have not been charged.

Amirudin urged all parties against speculating as investigations were ongoing and that those who have been accused of corruption are considered innocent until proven guilty.

Previously, reports of the arrest of the top officials also caught the attention of the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah who said he would withdraw state awards of civil servants and politicians who have been found guilty of corruption.

Significance of US VP Kamala's visit to Singapore


‘Alamak’, it is Kamala

AUGUST 29 — The US vice president Kamala Harris visited Singapore last week.

It was the first stop of a very brief South-east Asia tour. From Singapore, she flew to Vietnam.

Notably this was only her second official overseas trip following a visit to Mexico and Guatemala in June.

Basically Harris journeyed to Singapore before she visited the UK, Japan or even Canada, all nations seen as core US allies.

This tells you firstly how valuable the Singapore relationship is to the US.

And secondly it shows us how the US is prioritising maintaining its position in South-east Asia — a region where its dominance is being challenged by China.

So while ostensibly her visit was fairly standard — she held long trade negotiations with Singapore’s prime minister, paid a courtesy call on the president and had an orchid named after her — there were a lot of dynamics at play.

Simply by visiting at a time when the US appears to be somewhat preoccupied with its embarrassing retreat from Afghanistan, Harris was making clear that it sees South-east Asia and Singapore as a core not a peripheral part of its agenda.

Quite notably during her short visit she also found the time to visit a US warship currently docked at the Changi naval base.

This is nearer the crux of the matter. Singapore remains the lynchpin of the US naval presence in South-east Asia.

While the US military does not directly maintain bases in Singapore, it co-operates very closely with Singapore’s military. The US Navy uses Singapore extensively for logistics and resupply.

In 2019, Singapore extended an agreement which gives the US access to Singapore’s military bases.

These bases and this access is increasingly critical as US rivalry with China ratchets up.

There has even been talk of the US looking to deploy a new fleet in Asia specifically to focus on South-east Asia and the South China Sea.

Such a move would infuriate Beijing and even without such big steps, Singapore’s cosy relationship with the US is not looked on very fondly by the Chinese government.

Which brings me to my next realisation from Harris’ visit. Her first name Kamala spelled backwards is “alamak” (a Malay expression indicating danger/be aware).

This actually occurred to me because MP Seah Kian Peng pointed it out in a Facebook post and it seems rather fitting — Kamala’s visit is definitely worthy of exclamation.

United States Vice President Kamala Harris and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold a joint news conference in Singapore August 23, 2021. ― Reuters pic

Many watchers are asking why Singapore is so high on the US priority list? And is it really in our interest to be so close to the US?

This is a very complex and core matter. Traditionally Singapore though ostensibly neutral has been more sympathetic to the US and the “West” in general than many of our neighbours.

Rarely have we had the fiery anti-colonial speeches given by the likes of Indonesia’s Sukarno or even the snide criticism of Western dominance issued by Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammad.

This balance of alignment has not been easy but it has served us well. However, the world is changing.

China is our biggest trading partner and the US-China conflict is becoming more likely. Do we really want to be near the epicentre of it?

Just look at Harris’ next destination — Vietnam. For years Vietnam fiercely resisted US invasion and interference — with millions of lives lost.

Now the erstwhile enemies are growing close as both sides are looking to counter China.

An old lesson here is there really are no permanent friends in geopolitics.

Pak Haji asserted Pakatan used "Backdoor" political coup to depose "Backdoor" PN govt

Perikatan foiled Pakatan’s “backdoor” political coup, Hadi Awang says

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang urged the Government to ignore accusations of the Perikatan Nasional Government failing to contain COVID-19 and ignoring the people’s plight.

“No doubt, the new administration led by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is a continuation of former Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s legacy.

“The Pakatan Harapan leadership failed to overthrow Perikatan using ‘backdoor’ maneuverings. They are too busy politicking while the people are suffering due to COVID-19 and the economic malaise caused by it,” he said in Harakah Daily today.

After Ismail Sabri took over the premiership from Muhyiddin, he drew public ire for retaining almost all of the same faces from the previous Cabinet line-up, albeit some minor reshuffling, triggering many to call it a “recycled” Cabinet.

Note that Muhyiddin fell after several Umno MPs aligned to its president, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi withdrew support from the former.

Following Ismail Sabri’s ascension to power, he extended an olive branch to Pakatan by offering them seats at the National Recovery Council (NRP) and COVID-19 Task Force.

After a closed-door meeting between the Prime Minister and top Pakatan leaders, the latter assured Ismail Sabri that they would not be an “obstacle” when a confidence vote is tabled at the Dewan Rakyat next month, provided he enacted policies focused on containing COVID-19 and rejuvenating the economy.

In a statement over the weekend, Zahid called upon Ismail Sabri not to call the current administration as the Perikatan Government anymore.

Not “recycled” Cabinet, just ensuring continuity

Taking potshots at Pakatan, Hadi said that Perikatan Government is different from Pakatan, accusing the latter of failing to deliver its electoral promises despite winning the 2018 general election.

He added that Pakatan now suffers from the “politicking pandemic”, being too focused on ascending the premiership until many of its own leaders and members had left the Opposition bloc.

“And Perikatan has not failed. It’s just that the task is still on-going and Pakatan leaders should wait until everything has ended before playing politics,” the Marang MP noted.

On the “recycled” Cabinet jab, Hadi dismissed the notion outright and said that Ismail Sabri retained the same team to ensure continuity of the work progress made.

“And I urge our Cabinet members to accept participation from all quarters, including those from the Opposition and non-governmental organisations (NGO) to help rejuvenate our country.

“As for Pakatan, please become more advisory in your approach instead of becoming a disruptive force,” he concluded. – Aug 30, 2021

Selangor govt has no plans to close factories despite high Co based on economic needs

Selangor govt has no plans to close factories despite high Co

The Selangor government has no plans to order factories to stop operating despite the Covid-19 figures remaining consistently high within the state.

Local Government and Public Transportation exco Ng Sze Han said this decision was based on the need to ensure the economic sector continues to function, after it was stalled for several months during the first movement control order (MCO).

“The state government will not close any factory that has received approval from the International Trade and Industries Ministry (Miti) as well as those that comply with all licence conditions set by the local authorities (PBT).

“The state government through the PBT will ensure factories are operating along the set licence conditions,” Ng (above) said during the Selangor state assembly today, as reported by Utusan Malaysia.

He was responding to a question from Long Tuck Chee (Harapan – Pandamaran) about the power vested in the Selangor government to order factories to stop operating.

Although the government has no plans thus far to order factories within Selangor to close, Ng said factories that violate the regulations set by the PBT will be shut.

A number of factories have already been ordered to cease operations due to violating local regulations, he said, though he does not have the exact figure.

Meanwhile, on a separate issue, Public Health, Unity and Women and Family Development exco Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud claimed the Health Ministry had given the excuse that they were concerned about data theft in the process of integrating the MySejahtera and Selangkah applications.

However, she said not all data will be shared between the two apps.

“Not all data (from Selangkah) will be given to MySejahtera and vice versa for contact tracing. This is because all the data is anonymous,” Siti Mariah said in the same state assembly sitting.

She was responding to a question from Mohd Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar (Harapan – Meru) who had asked about the data privacy of Selangkah users if the data was shared with MySejahtera.

For the record, MySejahtera is developed by the federal government whereas Selangkah was an initiative by the Selangor state government.

Siti Mariah, who stressed that data integration between the two apps is important for the sake of contact tracing, added that she would meet with the new Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin soon to discuss the integration of the two apps.

Guan Eng says DAP willing to work with Ismail Sabri govt on Covid-19 reset plan


Guan Eng says DAP willing to work with Ismail Sabri govt on Covid-19 reset plan

Air Putih assemblyman Lim Guan Eng poses for the cameras as he holds aloft the Jalur Gemilang at the Penang state assembly building in George Town August 30, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — DAP is willing to set aside political differences and work with the federal government on a reset plan for Malaysia’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today.

The Bagan MP said that Malaysia’s socio-economic recuperation needs the whole of society to be involved.

“DAP is willing to look to the future and take the difficult step to work with the new government of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri by adopting a National Covid-19 Reset Plan and an RM45 billion Economic Turnaround Plan to normalise our country and economy.

“This normalisation plan will enable us to carry on with our lives, to work to earn a living, carry on with our business, go back to school and inspire hope amongst the young that they can aspire to realize their full potential instead of a future blighted by total lockdown and relying on food parcels,” he said in a statement.

He hoped the reset plan can be expedited in light of the high daily Covid-19 cases.

“The RM45 billion Economic Turnaround Plan must focus on direct, regular financial aid and injection of funds instead of the orthodox ‘one-off’ approach and indirect assistance of loans and guarantees,” the former finance minister added.

But Lim also said the DAP’s willingness to work with the new government should not be mistaken as a unity government.

He said the DAP is still an Opposition party and will perform its constitutional duty to check and balance the government.

“We are willing to work together if we can achieve institutional reforms, especially the constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority to enact an Anti-Hopping Law,” he said.

When Ass-binte may become PM, don't vote out his government

Did you hear the one about the PM and his Cabinet?

From Clement Stanley

Just a few days ago Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the whole world would laugh at us if we decided to change the prime minister again, in quick succession to Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Thus, he said, there should be no need for a confidence vote on Ismail’s leadership despite the condition set by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the appointment of the ninth prime minister.

While the absence of the confidence vote may prevent Malaysia from becoming a laughing stock, Ismail’s line-up has already been the butt of jokes.

Consider the retention of the man who, as health minister, said you can kill the Covid-19 virus by drinking warm water, and who got confused between Spanish fly and Spanish flu.

Now he is the minister for science, technology and innovation. Perhaps he will come up with a new innovation to rid this country of Covid. Who knows?

How about the minister for women, family and community development, who had urged wives to speak to their husbands in the voice and tone of cartoon character Doraemon? You know, the one who was roundly ridiculed for playing a food delivery rider in an advertisement. The one who waded into the controversy of a teacher making a rape joke – more than a month after the incident.

She’s still there, leading the same ministry.

The minister who continued to flaunt SOPs without the slightest care is no longer the Federal Territories minister, but is now in charge of communications and multimedia.

Same old. Same old.

Could we avoid being a laughing stock under these circumstances? We are likely to become one not because we change our prime ministers but because we are afraid of change.

Everyone accepts that a PM who does not deliver deserves to be replaced. Yet, embarrassingly, we retain people who are a liability in the Cabinet.

We need to make people accountable for their actions, especially ministers. Any way you view it, the buck surely stops at the office of the prime minister. He picked his Cabinet. He has to be accountable for their actions or inaction.

Whether we become a laughing stock or not will be down to the prime minister’s policies, his team of ministers and how they perform – and also the silly stunts they pull.

Nobody will laugh at us for being in the economic doldrums; countries are also being wrecked by the pandemic.

But a prime minister who brings the nation back to its glory days will be remembered as the one who saved the nation, for doing almost the impossible.

Deliver and he will certainly have the last laugh. It is well to remember that he who laughs last laughs the loudest.

Final "Extraordinary Rendition" of Raymond Koh, Ruth Sipetu & Joshua Hilmy

Pain of not knowing killing us, say families of missing trio

Nothing official has been heard about Pastor Raymond Koh, missing since early 2017, and Ruth Sitepu and her husband Joshua Hilmy, who disappeared several months earlier.

PETALING JAYA: When Susanna Liew’s husband left their house that fateful Monday in 2017, she did not know it would be the last time she would see him.

Liew recalled that she was supposed to take some food supplies to a friend that day but had been too busy in the morning to do so, at which point her husband offered to help.

“He always said ‘I love you’ before he went out the door; he always said ‘I love you’ to me or my children, so those were his last words.

“I have not seen or heard from him since.”

Her husband is Raymond Koh, a pastor who was abducted in early 2017 under suspicious circumstances. In 2019, Suhakam (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) concluded after a public hearing that he was the victim of “enforced disappearance” at the hands of the Special Branch, amid accusations he was attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Liew said she was thrust into a state of panic and shock when he did not return home, made all the worse when she went to the police station to report his disappearance only to be subjected to an interrogation herself.

“It has been a very difficult and challenging four-and-a half years now for our family because of the uncertainty. We have practically no news and no updates from the police or the government on the status of the investigation,” she said.

For the family of Ruth Sitepu and her husband Joshua Hilmy, who disappeared in late 2016, it is much the same story.

“We got the news from my elder brother’s son in Malaysia, Harry Sitepu,” Ruth’s brother Iman explained from his home in Jakarta.

“He was really close to Ruth and Joshua, and he told us the news that he had lost contact with Ruth and that the house was empty. We waited for months thinking maybe they had moved somewhere, to a different country maybe, but Harry was really certain they had gone missing. As time went by, we got more suspicious of their disappearance.”

It was only when they saw videos online detailing Koh’s disappearance that they began to suspect their sister had met a similar fate, although official investigations were ongoing. As in the case of Koh, there were claims the pair might have been involved in converting Muslims.

“As a family, we’re very, very sad. Until now, it isn’t clear where she is. We are also disappointed with the government here in Indonesia,” he said, claiming that it had not given his sister’s disappearance sufficient attention.

Iman and the family believe Ruth and Joshua are still alive, because “we as a family still feel that connection with her, we don’t have that feeling inside that she is dead”.

Liew shares the same hope for her husband Koh, and it is her “hope and dream” that they will one day be reunited.

“My family and I and our friends, some of us have had dreams that he is still alive and as long as we do not see his body we will believe that he is not dead, and I will continue my efforts to speak out and do all I can to get him and the others released.

“Wherever Pastor Raymond is, God is with him, whether he is alive or whether he is martyred, he is a hero to us because he believed in his convictions and he lived it out.”

Wild drug, booze party busted, civil servant and teenager among 13 held

Wild drug, booze party busted, civil servant and teenager among 13 held

Police say the organisers invited the suspects to the party through WhatsApp. (PDRM Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Thirteen individuals, including a civil servant and a teenage girl, were arrested during a 4am raid on a wild party that began last night at an apartment in Medini, Iskandar Puteri, Johor.

Iskandar Puteri district police chief Dzulkhairi Mukhtar said the raid led to the arrest of 10 men and three women between the ages of 17 and 27.

“Preliminary investigation found that the organisers invited the suspects to the party through WhatsApp and they were not charged any fee,” he said in a statement.

He said the party started at about 9pm and was scheduled to run into the early hours of the morning.

Dzulkhairi said they confiscated a set of speakers and laser lights, while urine tests found nine male and two female suspects testing positive for drugs.

He said further checks confirmed that two of the individuals had previous drug-related charges.

The case is being investigated under Section 15(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and related provisions for violating SOPs under the national recovery plan, he said.

Section 15(1)(a) relates to the consumption or administration of relevant drugs under the Act and is punishable by a fine of up to RM5,000 or imprisonment of not more than two years.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Taliban thanks PAS for well wishes


EXCLUSIVE: Taliban thanks PAS for well wishes, calls human rights accusations ‘propaganda’

Leadership calls on M’sian govt to strengthen ‘fraternal bonds’

Taliban spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi says that harsh punishments such as amputations and stoning are reserved for criminals in the most extreme cases, with the intention to deter crime. – @FabianEberhard Twitter pic, August 29, 2021

KUALA LUMPUR – The Taliban has welcomed PAS' congratulatory gesture and its coming to the defence of the Islamist organisation, which recently reassumed power over Afghanistan.

The movement’s leadership also called on the Malaysian government to strengthen “fraternal bonds” by helping Afghanistan under its new rule to rise after years of conflict.

In exclusive comments to The Vibes, Taliban spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said that prior to this, he was not aware of any felicitations from PAS leaders.

“I personally am not aware of any message by members of PAS, but we welcome and thank all for showing solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in this time of transition,” Qahar said.

Claiming that reports and concerns about the Taliban’s human rights track record are merely propaganda, he said Malaysians should not harbour reservations towards the newly formed Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

“We would like to assure all people of Malaysia and the world that they should not have any reservations about the Islamic Emirate,” he said in his response to The Vibes.

“There has been vitriolic propaganda against us for far too long which has given an impression that we are involved in human rights violations, all of which are nothing more than fabrications,” he added.

Qahar, also a member of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission, appeared in front of the global media for the first time as a translator during the Taliban’s press conference chaired by leader Zabihullah Mujahid on August 24, following the takeover of Kabul.

He gained global visibility for the Taliban after an Al Jazeera interview with journalist Charlotte Bellis was uploaded to social media on August 23.

On August 15, the media had reported that Taliban fighters had not only secured nearly all of Afghanistan but also surrounded the capital Kabul.

American forces merely maintained a presence at Kabul International Airport, helping Afghan and western evacuees flee the country.

A few days after the Taliban’s takeover, Mohd Khalil Abdul Hadi, chairman of PAS’ International Affairs and External Relations Committee, posted a congratulatory message to the group on Twitter, only to delete it two hours later.

Khalil is the son of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

On August 25, Hadi himself defended the Taliban against criticisms, stating that the organisation has now changed, and urged Malaysians not to fall for western media “propaganda”.

Towards supremacy of Islamic law

On ties between Putrajaya and Afghanistan’s “future administration’, Qahar expressed hope that it will be cordial, as the war-torn nation will need all the help it can get to rebuild itself.

“Both nations have a lot to offer one another and it would be in the interest and beneficial for both countries to strengthen our fraternal bonds,” he explained.

Asked about the Taliban’s approach to governance as well as its style of imposing law and order, in view of its strict religious bent, Qahar stressed there are differences between Afghanistan and Malaysia.

Commenting on Malaysia practising a hybrid system of civil and shariah laws, he said Afghanistan aims to have Islamic law as paramount.

“The difference between Malaysia and Afghanistan is that our country is 99.7% Muslim,” he said.

“Our people have rejected all forms of political systems and have given unparalleled sacrifices for the supremacy of Islamic law.

“We fought against the British empire, the Soviet Union and the United States-led occupiers for this exact cause,” Qahar said.

While general discussions concerning the application of shariah law focus on hardline punishments, he reasoned that such discussions are misleading as shariah principles cover other aspects as well.

“Shariah is an entire way of life that protects the lives, wealth, and dignity of people, that advances economic and scientific development, ends usury and other forms of societal injustices, encourages diplomatic and people-to-people dialogue, and promotes international peace and prosperity,” he added.

With regards to harsh punishments such as amputations and stoning, Qahar said these are reserved for criminals in the most extreme cases, with the intention to deter crime. – The Vibes, August 29, 2021

US in final phase of evacuations, Taliban ready to take over Kabul airport

US in final phase of evacuations, Taliban ready to take over Kabul airport

US forces are in the final phase of leaving Kabul, ending two decades of involvement in Afghanistan, and just over 1,000 civilians at the airport remain to be flown out before troops withdraw, a Western security official said on Sunday.

The country's new Taliban rulers are prepared to take control of the airport, said an official from the hardline Islamist movement that has swept across Afghanistan, crushing the US-backed government.

The Western security official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters a date and time for the end of the operation was yet to be decided.

President Joe Biden has said he will stick by his deadline to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by Tuesday, 20 years after they invaded Kabul and ousted the Taliban government for shielding the perpetrators of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.

"We want to ensure that every foreign civilian and those who are at risk are evacuated today. Forces will start flying out once this process is over," said the official, who is stationed at the airport.

The Western-backed government and Afghan army melted away as the Taliban entered the capital on Aug 15, leaving an administrative vacuum that has bolstered fears of a financial collapse and widespread hunger.

Under a deal with the United States, the Taliban has said it will allow foreigners and Afghans who wish to leave to fly out. The US and allies have taken about 113,500 people out of Afghanistan in the past two weeks, but tens of thousands who want to go will be left behind.

A US official told Reuters on Saturday there were fewer than 4,000 troops left at the airport, down from 5,800 at the peak of the evacuation mission. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters some troops had been withdrawn but declined to say how many remained.

The Taliban official told Reuters the Islamist group had engineers and technicians ready to take charge of the airport.

"We are waiting for the final nod from the Americans to secure full control over Kabul airport as both sides aim for a swift handover," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The Western security official said crowds at the airport gates had diminished after a specific warning from the US government of another attack by militants after a suicide bombing outside the airport on Thursday.

The explosion killed scores of Afghans and 13 American troops outside the gates of the airport, where thousands of Afghans had gathered to try to get a flight out since the Taliban returned to power.

The United States said on Friday it killed two militants belonging to Islamic State - enemies of both the West and Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers - which had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Biden had vowed to hunt down the perpetrators of the explosion and said the strike was not the last.

Taking over

The Taliban condemned the late-night US drone strike, which took place in Nangarhar province, an eastern area that borders Pakistan.

"The Americans should have informed us before conducting the airstrike. It was a clear attack on Afghan territory," a Taliban spokesperson told Reuters, adding that two women and a child were wounded in the attack.

The Taliban have said they have arrested some suspects involved in the airport blast.

Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Saturday the Taliban would take over the airport "very soon" after US forces withdraw and announce a full cabinet in the coming days.

Mujahid told Reuters the group had appointed governors and police chiefs in all but one of Afghanistan's 34 provinces and would act to solve the country's economic problems.

The Taliban, facing the loss of billions of dollars of aid for the country, appealed to the United States and other Western nations to maintain diplomatic relations after withdrawing. Britain said that should happen only if the Taliban allow safe passage for those who want to leave and respect human rights.

US military and allied countries' flights carried fewer people on Saturday as Washington prepared to end its mission.

The last British flight evacuating civilians from Afghanistan left Kabul on Saturday. British troops would take small numbers of Afghan citizens with them as they leave this weekend, a defence ministry spokesperson said.

Armed forces chief Nick Carter said hundreds of people who had worked with Britain would not make it through.

While Kabul's airport has been in chaos, the rest of the city has been generally calm. The Taliban have told residents to hand over government equipment including weapons and vehicles within a week, the group's spokesperson said.

The airport attack added fuel to criticism Biden faced at home and abroad for the chaos after Afghanistan's government and military collapsed before a lightning Taliban advance. He has defended his decisions, saying the United States long ago achieved its rationale for invading in 2001.

KB Bersatu Youth division member was the one who assaulted (now dead) Ipoh Condo security guard

Assault of security guard: Kula wants attacker charged with murder

Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran has demanded that the assault charge against a man be reclassified as murder following the death of a security guard on Aug 28, eight months after he was treated in the hospital.

The lawmaker urged the police to conduct a thorough investigation against Noor Azhar Muhammad who was charged in January under Section 335 of the Penal Code for causing grievous hurt.

"On Dec 29, 2020, Thava Sagayam (above), 64, while on duty was violently injured by a guest staying at a condominium in Jalan Yang Kalsom, Ipoh. Apparently, the guest was angry that his child was prevented from using the swimming pool which was closed.

"The deceased was admitted to hospital for the injuries sustained and was bedridden for more than seven months until his untimely discharge and subsequent death," Kualasegaran said in a statement.

Noor Azhar's profile has been circulated on social media showing that he is a Kota Bharu Bersatu Youth division member. Perak police confirmed the individual was previously charged in the case.

Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran

Kulasegaran said as the victim has succumbed to his injuries, the deputy public prosecutor should instruct a thorough reinvestigation and reclassify the case as murder.

"The aggressor is apparently on bail. In view of changed circumstances namely the death, the earlier case in court need to be withdrawn and the aggressor possibly charged with murder," he added.

Kulasegaran said this case is also a reflection of a larger moral issue of the powerful, failing to comply with established rules and procedures and tendencies to act violently against the weak when ego needs are not met.

"Violence is all around us. We should not and cannot but condemn this unnecessary and innocent death," he said.

In a statement yesterday, Perak police chief Mior Faridalthrash Wahid said the security guard died on Friday due to a lung infection.

"Based on this new evidence, the police will refer the investigation paper on the case to the Perak deputy public prosecutor's office for further instructions," he said.

Mior said the incident, which was captured by CCTV recordings and gone viral again recently, happened on Dec 29, 2020, and the police had opened an investigation under Section 326 of the Penal Code for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.

Noor Azhar was charged at the Ipoh Magistrate's Court on Jan 6 under Section 335 of the Penal Code and was scheduled to be mentioned again on Sept 9 for sentencing.

Meanwhile, Kulasegaran said DAP will provide legal aid for the family of Thava.

"The victim’s wife E Philomena, 59, has now approached us to assist in the court matters and see that appropriate justice is dispensed. The DAP will provide necessary legal assistance for the family," he said.

Addition to 'Atuk'-ism

Amanah man tells Pua not to jump the gun on CSA deal

An Amanah Youth leader has hit out at Damansara Utama MP Tony Pua over the latter's statement indicating Pakatan Harapan's willingness to enter into a confidence and supply agreement (CSA) with the new Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Amanah Youth deputy chief Muhammad Taqiuddin Cheman (above), who is leading the movement since the passing of its former head Shazni Munir Mohd Ithnin, described Pua's reported statement as a rushed move that went against the Harapan presidential council.

"Amanah Youth would like to remind all parties to be disciplined as a member of Harapan and not raise matters yet to be decided by Harapan, as a precautionary measure in taking any action.

"No matter what arguments and grounds given to justify the action as a freedom of opinion, strategies and the processes in decision making must be followed to prevent confusion among grassroots," Taqiuddin said in a statement.

He was responding to Pua's statement on Thursday that Harapan is ready to have a CSA with the new government, provided that Ismail Sabri makes the same offers that Muhyiddin Yassin made before his resignation.

Speaking at an online forum, Pua confirmed that negotiations are ongoing between the opposition bloc with Ismail Sabri, who was appointed as the country’s top executive a week ago.

Commenting further, Taqiuddin said Amanah Youth urged careful consideration on the CSA offer, involving leaders at all levels to avoid misinterpretation and confusion among Harapan supporters.

"Amanah Youth urges all parties particularly leaders of Harapan to not repeat the action that could trigger confusion or raise suspicion of others," he said.

Pua was referring to the offers made by Muhyiddin on Aug 13, where he among others promised to undertake a slew of reforms that the opposition has demanded, as a final attempt to secure support and remain in office.

Harapan chief secretary Saifuddin Nasution Ismail previously described Pua's statement as "premature" and that the agreement under the initial stages of discussions was not quite a CSA.