Thursday, March 31, 2022

Don’t play victim, Warisan veep tells DAP



Don’t play victim, Warisan veep tells DAP


Junz Wong says Loke Siew Fook is wrong to blame Warisan for the souring of ties between Warisan and DAP.



KOTA KINABALU: A Warisan leader has hit back at DAP secretary-general Loke Siew Fook’s claim that the sour relations between the parties were due to the “confrontational approach” by some leaders from the Sabah party.

Warisan vice-president Junz Wong denied this and instead pointed out that the rocky patch started after DAP’s “betrayal” when Pakatan Harapan agreed to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government.


“DAP’s version of events is misleading. They are trying to hide certain facts and portray themselves as victims,” he said in a statement here today.

“The fact is, ties between the opposition parties have been tense since 2021 when PH decided to have the MoU with Putrajaya.”

At an online forum last night, Loke highlighted the recent Johor elections, where Warisan decided to contest in seats that DAP had won in the last general election (GE14).

He also spoke of the “confrontational approach” towards DAP by some Warisan leaders.

“I don’t know their agenda, but it seems like they want to ‘langgar’ (go against) us,” Loke had said, without mentioning any names.

Wong said PH had described Ismail as a traitor in 2020 and labelled the current administration a “backdoor government”, yet it still agreed to the MoU the following year.


He claimed that after the MoU was inked, PH was given access to approximately RM166.7 million in direct grants and RM178 million in project funds.

“Why did PH keep quiet about the hundreds of millions?” he asked, adding that an “MoU 2.0” was also proposed, engineered and pushed by DAP in Parliament recently.

“Who can guarantee that there won’t be an MoU 3.0 or 4.0 after the general election?

“MoU after MoU, but did the people vote for PH so that it can take these numbers to support Umno?”

Wong, who was with DAP from 2013 to 2016 before joining Warisan, added that a state-level MoU which PH tried to sign with the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah government was also the brainchild of DAP.

“DAP’s Lim Guan Eng flew down to Sabah to personally meet Bersatu chief Hajiji Noor in secret until it was exposed.”

“Is this not DAP betraying Sabahans?” he asked. “Don’t play victim. Sabahans and Malaysians are not fools to continue being hoodwinked by DAP.”

Guanee just can't STFU - says DAP confident of retaining Sandakan

theVibes.com:

Despite defections, DAP says confident of retaining Sandakan

Chairman Lim Guan Eng slams two reps for betraying people’s mandate


Asked about DAP’s relationship with Warisan, Lim Guan Eng says it is up to the state leadership to decide on whether they will work with their erstwhile partners in the coming general election. – Lim Guan Eng Facebook pic, March 31, 2022


SANDAKAN – DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng has said they are confident of keeping the Sandakan parliamentary seat in the next election, after the defections of two state assemblymen to fellow opposition party Warisan.


In January, Elopura assemblyman Calvin Chong Ket Kiun and Sri Tanjong representative Justin Wong announced that they quit the party. They formally joined Warisan on Saturday.

Lim said his visit to Sandakan was to show the central leadership’s support in the aftermath of the defections, but he was pleasantly surprised by the members’ strong support and motivation.

“We wanted to cheer them up, motivate our members in Sandakan. Turns out, their motivation, support, and loyalty had in turn motivated us to fight harder to win the coming general election, and take over Putrajaya,” he told reporters after a party dinner last night.

The Sandakan parliament seat is held by Vivian Wong Shir Yee, who won the seat in a 2019 by-election after the sudden death of her father and predecessor, Datuk Stephen Wong.

Elopura is one of two state constituencies under Sandakan, the other being Tanjong Papat, which is held by Sabah DAP chairman Datuk Frankie Poon.

Elopura representative Chong had said that he quit the party as he felt unappreciated, and that he was sidelined by the state leadership despite winning his constituency in 2018 and 2020.

Lim said the two defectors should have sorted out their differences with the party’s state leadership internally, instead of airing dirty laundry in public.

“You resolve these differences yourself. You must not use that as an excuse to betray the mandate of the people, and the very principles you stand for when you joined the party,” Lim said.

“You represent the party and what the party stands for. When you leave the party after people chose you, you betray the people’s mandate and trust,” he said, adding that he hoped the proposed anti-party hopping bill is passed by Parliament when it is tabled on April 11.

Asked about DAP’s relationship with Warisan, Lim said it is up to the state leadership to decide on whether they will work with their erstwhile partners in the coming general election. – The Vibes, March 31, 2022

Sanction of Russia, Japanese style



Japan sticks with joint Russia gas project despite sanctions


Russia supplies over 8% of Japan’s LNG demands, with Australian exports accounting for about 40%. (Reuters pic)


TOKYO: Japan has no plans to withdraw from a joint Russian oil and gas project, despite joining tough sanctions on Moscow over its Ukraine invasion, prime minister Fumio Kishida said today.

Energy resource-poor Japan is attempting to balance its need for fossil fuels with toeing a hard line on Russia, and has faced questions over its continued involvement in the Sakhalin-2 project.


After Russia launched its war in Ukraine last month, oil giant Shell said it would sell its 27.5% stake in Sakhalin-2 in Russia’s far east.

But Kishida said the project was helping to provide “long-term, inexpensive and stable LNG supplies” to Japan.


“It is an extremely important project in terms of our energy security,” he told a parliamentary session.

“Our plan is not to withdraw.”

Japan’s Mitsui controls a 12.5% stake in the project, while Mitsubishi owns 10%.

It is 50% controlled by Russian energy company Gazprom.


Despite the decision, Japan will “continue to make efforts to reduce our energy dependency on Russia” in line with G7 policy, Kishida said.

Tokyo has pressured Moscow over the invasion with a series of sanctions on Russian groups and individuals, including president Vladimir Putin.

Japan is heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels, in part because many of its nuclear reactors have been offline since the Fukushima meltdown in 2011.

Russia supplies more than 8% of Japan’s LNG demands, with Australian exports accounting for about 40% of the Japanese market.

Pakatan cabinet saw Najib as guilty even before he was charged: Shafee

theVibes.com:

Pakatan cabinet saw Najib as guilty even before he was charged: Shafee

Former auditor-general Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad reluctantly agrees with counsel’s suggestion in court


Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad (pic) says that her predecessor Tan Sri Ambrin Buang was reluctant to share with her his opinions on the 1MDB issue, and asked her to read the official audit report tabled to the Public Accounts Committee in March 2016. – Bernama pic, March 31, 2022


KUALA LUMPUR – Former auditor-general Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad today agreed that Pakatan Harapan’s cabinet had decided that Datuk Seri Najib Razak was guilty even before the former prime minister was charged over alleged tampering of 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) final audit report.

Madinah, 66, said this when cross-examined by Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in the trial of Najib and former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy for alleged tampering with the 1MDB final audit report.

Shafee: “Tan Sri, you attended the cabinet meeting to give a briefing on November 23, 2018. You knew the people who attended the meeting were not that friendly with my client, such as Lim Guan Eng, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Mohamad Sabu, and so on.

“My client was charged on December 12, 2018, two weeks after the meeting. I put it to you that as the result of your briefing to the PH cabinet, the cabinet decided that my client was guilty even before he was charged. Yes, or no?”

Madinah: “Can I explain, Yang Arif?”

To this, high court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan asked the witness to answer Shafee’s question as she could explain it during the re-examination.

Madinah then replied, “Yang Arif, according to these minutes, yes”.

To another question, the 12th prosecution witness said that her predecessor Tan Sri Ambrin Buang was reluctant to share with her his opinions on the 1MDB issue, and asked her to read the official audit report tabled to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in March 2016.

Madinah said that she and Ambrin were very concerned about how the allegations related to the audit report on 1MDB were being discussed widely around the world but were “hush-hush” in the country.

She was referring to rumours being circulated worldwide regarding the purported involvement of Najib in the alleged wrongdoing linked to 1MDB.

“With the auditor-general’s audit report in my possession and the issue surrounding 1MDB that we were made aware of, all of us in government were to tread carefully on the issue, where we would rather not mention or speak about it. There was an understanding among us not to speak about it and this (original) audit report was in my possession.

“I asked him (Ambrin) what was in the report and whether he could tell me especially about the PM (Najib) and his involvement in 1MDB. That was how I brought up the subject. I wanted to hear from him as he carried out the 1MDB audit, but he was reluctant and said he could not verify, and I then just left it at that,” said Madinah.

Shafee: “I put to you that you were not acting fairly by not bringing up the matter with then PM Najib when you took over the office (of auditor-general) and in March 2017, you were not honest enough in bringing it up?”

Madinah replied, “No”.

Shafee: “You did not confront Najib because you realised he (Najib) would be relevant to your tenure as auditor-general; you got it (position) from him, you did not raise it (concerns over the 1MDB audit) to protect your tenure.

Madinah answered, “No”.

Shafee: “You went to see Dr Mahathir as you realised everyone was getting the chop. You wanted to protect your tenure and you became another ‘Datuk Nor Salwani’ to curry favour with the then PM.”

Madinah replied, “I disagree”.

Nor Salwani, now the deputy auditor-general of the National Audit Department was ordered to destroy the original copy of 1MDB audit report; however, she secretly kept one of the original copies of the report, which the department prepared in 2016.

Najib, 68, is charged with using his position to order amendments to the 1MDB final audit report before it was presented to the PAC to avoid any action being taken against him, while Arul Kanda, 45, is charged with abetting Najib in making the amendments to the report, to protect Najib from being subjected to action.

The offences were allegedly committed at the Prime Minister’s Department Complex, Federal Government Administrative Centre, Federal Territory of Putrajaya between February 22 and 26, 2016.

Both of them were charged under Section 23(1) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, which provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of no less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

The trial continues tomorrow. – Bernama, March 31, 2022

If Not Ismail Sabri Then Who?



If Not Ismail Sabri Then Who?

By Raja Petra Kamarudin On Mar 31, 2022




Umno did not fall in 1990 (when the party split into Team A and Team B).

Umno did not fall in 1995 (and that made Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah wind up Semangat 46 and return to Umno).

Umno did not fall in 1999 when the Reformasi Movement exploded onto the Malaysian scene.

Umno did not fall in 2004 when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad stepped down.

Umno did not fall in 2008 and 2013, even when 95% of the Chinese voted DAP-Pakatan.

But Umno fell in 2018.

More than 30 years of Malaysian political history over seven out of 14 general elections have proven that Umno will only fall when the Malays walk out, and will retain power when the Malays rally behind the government.

They say the last few by-elections and state elections since 2018 have proven that the Malays have returned to Umno.

Have they?

Read ‘PN Eating Into BN’s Malay Vote Bank, Forum Told‘ (READ HERE). The talk that the Malays have returned to Umno is a fallacy.

Umno keeps talking about the half-full glass of water. But then a half-full glass of water is also a half-empty glass of water.

Umno talks about the 29% of the voters who voted for them in the recent Johor state election (or 43% of the voters who voted for Barisan Nasional). That is not even half-a-glass of voter. It’s less than a one-third full glass of water.

I do not want to talk about the small fish that I caught. I want to talk about the big fish that got away.

Okay, maybe 30% of the people support me. And maybe only 30% of the people support the opposition. But that means 40% of the people are uncommitted to either side.

And that is very worrying because that means 40% of the people can swing either way and both ways.

The only issue is: what will trigger the 40% to swing either this way or that way?

The people are fed up with Pakatan Harapan. The people are fed up with Barisan Nasional. And the people are waiting for a third alternative, but it has not come yet.

The first to come along and show the people they are the third alternative, they are going to get the support of the 40% disgusted people who hate what both Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional are doing.



So, who do you want for PM10, Nur Sajat?

Some people want Anwar Ibrahim as PM10. Some people want Tok Mat as PM10. Some people want Najib Razak as PM10. Some people want Zahid Hamidi as PM10. Some people want Khairy Jamaluddin as PM10. Some people want Hishammuddin Hussein as PM10. Some people want Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman as PM10. Some people want Rafizi Ramli as PM10. For all you know, some people may even feel Nur Sajat is better as PM10 than all the above.

I am sure if you propose Bentong Kali or Botak Chin as the new IGP to replace Hamid Bador, most Malaysians will say Hamid Bador may be a court jester, but a court jester is still far better than Bentong Kali and Botak Chin.

Malaysia is suffering from a leadership deficiency syndrome or LDS.

Given another year or so, Ismail Sabri Yaakob may yet prove he is that ‘missing candidate’ for PM10 that Malaysians are crying out for. And that is why Zahid Hamidi is pushing for GE15 now.

Firstly, before the end of the year, Zahid is going to jail. There are no two ways about it. Secondly, they cannot give Ismail Sabri too much time to prove he is suitable and capable of becoming PM10. And all Ismail Sabri needs is time. Hence they want GE15 to be held now.

Okay, some say Ismail Sabri is not the best candidate for PM10. So, who is, then? Ismail Sabri may have only one eye, as they say, but he is better than all the others who are totally blind. And in the land of the blind, the one-eye is king.

So, until you can produce someone better than Ismail Sabri, fook off and go play in the corner by yourself, because Bentong Kali and Botak Chin do not make a better IGP, never mind how much a clown Hamid Bador may be.





The Malay Dignity-ers are at it again



Muhyiddin met Dr M to pitch GE15 cooperation, says Mukhriz


The meeting between the two former prime ministers is said to be the first since the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government in February 2020. (AP pic)


PETALING JAYA: Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin met with Pejuang chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently to propose the two parties work together ahead of the next general election (GE15), Mukhriz Mahathir said today.

Mukhriz, who is Pejuang president, said the meeting took place about two weeks ago, shortly after the Johor state elections, Sinar Harian reported.


“He (Muhyiddin) requested to have a meeting and Mahathir said ‘OK’,” the Jerlun MP said at a press conference in Kuala Terengganu.

Mukhriz said the leadership has yet to decide on the matter but that Pejuang was generally not in favour of working with Bersatu.

“Pejuang had also been contacted by other opposition parties to join forces ahead of GE15, but no decision has been made,” he said.

This was reportedly the first meeting between the two former prime ministers since the infamous Sheraton Move in February 2020, which led to the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.

Previously, Mahathir had repeatedly said Pejuang was willing to work with any opposition party as long as its principles were aligned to his party’s.

Mariupol likely to fall within days

BBC:

Russian forces initially made rapid gains in the south, with their main objective being the creation of a land corridor between Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and areas held by Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk.




Standing in the way of that objective has been the port city of Mariupol, which has been encircled by Russian forces since the start of March.

Russian forces have been advancing further into the centre of Mariupol recently and the city is likely to fall within days, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

More than 100,000 civilians are thought to be trapped in the besieged city and its deputy mayor says people are starting to die from starvation and dehydration.


British judges departure a shame, but no surprise



British judges departure a shame, but no surprise



There’s a whole lobby of people in the UK working hard to harm Hong Kong and this is simply their latest move, writes Grenville Cross


THAT LORD ROBERT REED and Lord Patrick Hodge have resigned from Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal is a great pity and a big loss but not a total surprise.

Since at least 2019, British politicians have been calling for UK judges to quit the CFA, and a lot of political pressure has been applied to them, from all political parties.

The people applying the pressure on the judges to quit are the same ones who lead the anti-China lobby in the UK Parliament, and they played a big part in the British government’s other hostile measures to hurt Hong Kong, including suspending the fugitive surrender agreement.


Reed and Hodge should be thanked for standing up to the political pressure for so long, but as both the ruling Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party wanted them to quit, as well as the highly vocal anti-China media, they were clearly left with little choice.

As the top judge in the UK, Reed clearly has to try to avoid getting caught up in controversy, as this can affect public confidence in the judiciary, and this will have influenced his decision to quit, thus ending the controversy.


AND THEN THERE WERE TEN

However, there are still 10 other overseas judges on the CFA, all retired, (six from UK, three from Australia and one from Canada), and political pressure will undoubtedly now be applied to them as well, which could be extreme. However, as they are retired, it will be easier for them to resist the pressure, and, as they are all people of courage and principle, we must hope they can do so.

Although we cannot say for sure if the two judges were pressurised to resign by the Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, who has welcomed their departure, what we can say for sure is that, in January 2021, when he was still Foreign Secretary, Raab launched a vicious attack on national television on British barrister, David Perry QC, who was supposed to prosecute a trial in Hong Kong, calling him “pretty mercenary” and without “good conscience”, and this pressured him into withdrawing from the case.


Kill a hundred Turks and rest!

I posted this almost 15 years ago on 31 Mar 2008 but am re-publishing it today because of current continued Israeli killings of Palestinians

*********


I was reminded this week of the old tale about a Jewish mother taking leave of her son, who has been called up to serve in the Czar's army against the Turks. "Don't exert yourself too much," she admonishes him, "Kill a Turk and rest. Kill another Turk and rest again …" 


"But mother," he exclaims, "What if the Turk kills me?"

"Kill you?" she cries out, "Why? What have you done to him?"


This is not a joke (and this is not a week for jokes). It is a lesson in psychology. I was reminded of it when I read Ehud Olmert's statement that more than anything else he was furious about the outburst of joy in Gaza after the attack in Jerusalem, in which eight yeshiva students were killed. 

Before that, last weekend, the Israeli army killed 120 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, half of them civilians, among them dozens of children. That was not "kill a Turk and rest". That was "kill a hundred Turks and rest".


But Olmert does not understand. The Five-Day War in Gaza (as a Hamas leader called it) was but another short chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. This bloody monster is never satisfied, its appetite just grows with the eating.

This chapter started with the "targeted liquidation" of five senior militants inside the Gaza Strip. The "response" was a salvo of rockets, and this time not only on Sderot, but also on Ashkelon and Netivot. The "response" to the "response" was the army's incursion and the wholesale killing. The stated aim was, as always, to stop the launching of the rockets. The means: killing a maximum of Palestinians, in order to teach them a lesson.


The decision was based on the traditional Israeli concept: hit the civilian population again and again, until it overthrows its leaders. This has been tried hundreds of times and has failed hundreds of times. 

As if an example for the folly of the propagators of this concept had been lacking, it was provided on TV by ex-general Matan Vilnai, when he said that the Palestinians are "bringing a Shoah on themselves".


Still happening today


Al Jazeera:

Several Palestinians including teen killed by Israeli forces

Teenage boy Nader Rayan and two men killed in raids in the occupied West Bank and Israel.


People carry the body of Palestinian Alaa Shaham who was killed by Israeli forces in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Tuesday [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]
Published On 15 Mar 202215 Mar 2022


Israeli forces have shot three Palestinians dead, including a teenager, in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank and in the Naqab (Negev) desert.

In an Israeli raid on the sprawling Balata refugee camp in the northern city of Nablus early on Tuesday, 17-year-old Nader Rayan died after being shot in the head, chest and hand, the Palestinian health ministry said.

List of 4 items



Three other Palestinians were wounded, it added, including one in critical condition.


The Hebrew word Shoah is known all over the world, where it has one clear meaning: the Holocaust carried out by the Nazis against the Jews. Vilnai's utterance spread like a bushfire throughout the Arab world and set off a shock wave. I, too, received dozens of phone calls and e-mail messages from all over the world. How to convince people that in day-to-day Hebrew usage, Shoah means "only" a great disaster, and that General Vilnai, a former candidate for Chief of Staff, is not the most intelligent of people?

Some years ago, President Bush called for a "Crusade" against terrorism. He had no idea that for hundreds of millions of Arabs, the word "Crusade" brings to mind one of the biggest crimes in human history, the appalling massacre committed by the original crusaders against the Muslims (and Jews) in the alleys of Jerusalem.


In an intelligence contest between Bush and Vilnai, the outcome, if any, would be in doubt. Vilnai does not understand what the word "Shoah" means to others, and Olmert does not understand why there is rejoicing in Gaza after the attack on the yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Wise men like these direct the state, the government and the army. Wise men like these control public opinion through the media. What is common to all of them: blunted sensibilities to the feelings of anybody who is not Jewish/Israeli


From this springs their inability to understand the psychology of the other side, and hence the consequences of their own words and actions. This is also expressed in the inability to understand why the Hamas people claimed victory in the five-Day War. What victory? After all, only two Israeli soldiers and one Israeli civilian were killed, as against 120 Palestinian dead, both fighters and civilians.

But this battle was fought between one of the strongest armies in the world, equipped with the most modern arms on earth, and a few thousand irregulars with primitive arms. If the battle ended in a draw - and such a battle always ends in a draw - this is a great victory for the weak side.


In Lebanon War II and in the Gaza war. (Binyamin Netanyahu made one of the most stupid statement this week, when he demanded that "the Israeli army must move from attrition to decision". In a struggle like this, there never is a decision.) 

The real effect of such an operation is not expressed in material and quantitative facts: so-and-so many dead, so-and-so many injured, so-and-so much destroyed. It is expressed in psychological results that cannot be measured, and therefore are inaccessible to the minds of generals: how much hatred has been added to the seething pool, how many new potential suicide bombers were produced, how many people vowed revenge and became ticking bombs - like the Jerusalem youngster, who woke up one bright morning this week, got himself a weapon, went to the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, the mother of all settlements, and killed as many as he could.


Now the political and military leadership of Israel sits down to discuss what to do, how to "respond". No new idea has come up or will come up, because not one of these politicians and generals is able to bring up a new idea. They can only go back to the hundred things they have already done, and that have failed a hundred times.

The first step on the way out of this madness is the readiness to question all our concepts and methods of the last 60 years and start thinking again, right from the beginning. That is always hard. That is even harder for us, because our leadership has no freedom of thought - its thinking is very closely tied to the thinking of the American leadership. 

This week, a shocking document was published: David Rose's article in Vanity Fair. It describes how US officials have in recent years dictated every single step of the Palestinian leadership, down to the most minute detail. Though the article does not touch the Israeli-American relationship (in itself a surprising omission) it goes without saying that the American course, including the smallest items, is coordinated with the Israeli government.


Why shocking? These things were already known, in general terms. In this respect, that article held no surprises:

(a) The Americans ordered Mahmoud Abbas to hold parliamentary elections, in order to present Bush as bringing democracy to the Middle East. 

(b) Hamas won a surprise victory. 

(c) The Americans imposed a boycott on the Palestinians, in order to nullify the election results. 

(d) Abbas diverted for a moment from the policy dictated to him and, under Saudi auspices (and pressure), made an agreement with Hamas, 

(e) The Americans put an end to this and compelled Abbas to turn over all security services to Muhammad Dahlan, whom they had chosen for the role of strongman in Palestine, 

(f) The Americans provided plenty of money and arms to Dahlan, trained his men and ordered him to carry out a military coup against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, 

(g) The elected Hamas government forestalled the move and itself carried out an armed counter-coup. 

All this was known before. What is new is that the mixture of news, rumors and intelligent guesses has now condensed into an authoritative, well substantiated report, based on official US documents. It testifies to the abysmal American ignorance, which trumps even Israeli ignorance, of the internal Palestinian processes.


(l to r) pro Israeli Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush Jnr


George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, the Zionist neocon Elliott Abrams and the assortment of American generals innocent of any knowledge are competing with Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and our own assorted generals, whose understanding reaches as far as the end of the gun barrels of their tanks.

The Americans have in the meantime destroyed Dahlan by exposing him publicly as their agent, on the lines of "he's a son-of-a-bitch, but he is our son-of-a-bitch". This week Condoleezza dealt a mortal blow to Abbas, too. He had announced in the morning that he was suspending the (meaningless) peace negotiations with Israel, the very minimum he could do in response to the Gaza atrocities. Rice, who received the news while she was having breakfast in the exciting company of Livni, immediately called Abbas and ordered him to cancel his announcement. Abbas gave in, thus exposing himself to his people in all his nakedness. 



Condoleezza Rice


Logic was not given to the People of Israel on Mount Sinai, but handed down from Mount Olympus to the ancient Greeks.

In spite of this drawback, let us try to apply it. What is our government trying to achieve in Gaza? It wants to topple Hamas rule (and incidentally also put an end to the launching of rockets against Israel). It tried to achieve this by imposing a total blockade on the population, hoping that they would rise up and overthrow Hamas. This failed. 

The alternative course is to re-occupy the entire Strip. That would carry a high price in lives of soldiers, perhaps more than the Israeli public is ready to pay. Also, it will not help, because Hamas will return the moment the Israeli troops withdraw. (In accordance with Mao Zedong's first rule for guerrillas: "When the enemy advances, withdraw. When the enemy withdraws, advance.") 

The only result of the Five-Day War is the strengthening of Hamas and the rallying of the Palestinian people behind it - not just in the Gaza Strip, but in the West Bank and Jerusalem, too. Their victory celebration was justified. The launching of rockets did not stop. The range of the rockets is increasing. But let us assume that this policy had succeeded and that Hamas had been broken. What then? 

Abbas and Dahlan could return only on top of Israeli tanks, as subcontractors of the occupation. No insurance company would cover their lives. And if they did not come back, there would be chaos, out of which extreme forces would emerge the like of which we cannot even imagine. 

Conclusion: Hamas is there. It cannot be ignored. We have to reach a cease-fire with it. Not a sham offer of "if they stop shooting first, then we will stop shooting". A cease-fire, like a tango, needs two participants. It must come out of a detailed agreement that will include the cessation of all hostilities, armed and otherwise, in all the territories. The cease-fire will not hold if it is not accompanied by speeded-up negotiations for a long-term armistice (hudna) and peace. Such negotiations cannot be held with Fatah and not Hamas, nor with Hamas and not Fatah.

Therefore, what is needed is a Palestinian government that includes both movements. It must bring in personalities who enjoy the confidence of the entire Palestinian people, such as Marwan Barghouti.

That is the very opposite of the present Israeli-American policy, which forbids Abbas even to talk with Hamas. In all the Israeli leadership, as in all the American leadership, there is no one who dares to spell this out openly. Therefore, what has been is what will be. We will kill a hundred Turks and rest. And from time to time, a Turk will come and kill some of us. Why, for God's sake? What have we done to them?


Now, Boo tells Syed Saddiq to step down as Muda chief



Now, Boo tells Syed Saddiq to step down as Muda chief


Johor DAP leader Dr Boo Cheng Hau says Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman must set a good example for the younger generation.


PETALING JAYA: After calling on DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng to step down pending the outcome of his corruption case, Johor DAP leader Dr Boo Cheng Hau says Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman should do the same.

He said Syed Saddiq should withdraw from his post until his name is cleared if he wants his party to continue working with Pakatan Harapan (PH).


“Syed Saddiq has to set a good example for the younger generation without dragging PH down and go through the due legal process to clear his name before resuming his public posts.

“PH component parties have to set a higher standard of integrity than Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) because we have to offer a formidable alternative to the people. DAP and PH have to avoid becoming Umno 2.0,” he said in a statement.

Syed Saddiq, the former youth and sports minister, is facing charges of criminal breach of trust and money laundering in connection with Bersatu election funds totalling RM1.2 million.

Boo’s call to Syed Saddiq comes a week after the former Skudai assemblyman urged Lim to step down, citing his ongoing undersea tunnel corruption trial.

He pointed out that even Najib Razak had resigned as BN chairman and Umno president after his loss in GE14, and went on to face his corruption charges. His successor, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, also went on garden leave for six months.

Boo urged civil society to push political leaders on both sides of the divide to adopt this stand to ensure public figures protect their integrity and credibility.


“It is regrettable that Lim did not take a decisive move to refuse the DAP national chairmanship.

“I believe in his innocence but he has to go through all the necessary legal processes on his own before reclaiming all party and public positions,” he said.

Is your MP on the list? Ahead of Anti-Party Hopping Bill, a look at reps who jumped ship since 2018

MM:

Is your MP on the list? Ahead of Anti-Party Hopping Bill, a look at reps who jumped ship since 2018



Over the course of roughly four years, MPs have actively moved between sides through the different administrations of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon


KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Today, the government and leaders from the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) will meet to finalise the Anti-Party Hopping Bill that is hoped to be tabled in Parliament on April 11.


The calls for such a law to regulate the movement of elected representatives have grown louder in recent months, especially as Malaysian politics went through a roller-coaster ride since the Barisan Nasional (BN) was replaced by PH in May 2018.

Two changes in governments. PH has now included the law as part of a deal with the current government led by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob — which many observers see may stave off Malaysian voters’ apathy and loss in trust in democracy which has resulted in lower and lower voter turnouts in recent snap elections.

Since 2018, over 40 MPs have swapped parties, terminated from party, or gone independent, even switching their allegiances from supporting the Opposition to the Government.

This makes it almost 20 per cent, or one-fifth, of the total 222 MPs.

This also included MPs who left their parties to form a splinter party, such as Parti Pejuang Tanah Air which was formed by former Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia leaders, and new parties such as Malaysia United Democratic Alliance (Muda) and Parti Bangsa Malaysia.

In addition, the rise of the ultimately short-lived PH government and the historic loss of BN have also seen new coalitions such as Perikatan Nasional (PN) that currently includes Bersatu, PAS and Gerakan, and also the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

Over the course of roughly four years, MPs have actively moved between sides through the different administrations of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri, resulting in a complex series of inter-party movements as illustrated in the chart below.

In the year after PH took power in Putrajaya, 15 Umno MPs had joined Bersatu — itself a splinter party of Umno — to be part the then government. Another Umno MP, Yameni Hafez Musa (Sipitang), would also do the same at the end of 2019.

PKR also saw two entries from independent MPs, Larry Sng (Julau) and Jugah Muyang (Lubok Antu), who both used to be in Parti Rakyat Sarawak prior to the general election.

Sng would later leave PKR to form Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) last year, and Jugah has also reverted to a independent, now supporting PN.

February 2020 saw the shock resignation of Dr Mahathir due to the so-called “Sheraton Move”, which would see his own party Bersatu form the PN government with former rivals Umno and PAS.

Following this, 21 Bersatu MPs became part of the PN government. The remaining five turned independent, with four of them later forming Pejuang in August 2020.

Eleven PKR MPs also turned independent. They would later join Bersatu.

The long period of pandemic which started weeks after Muhyiddin was sworn in as the prime minister, ultimately led to the fall of his administration after cases spike following the Sabah state election in September 2020.

He later resigned in August 2021, replaced with Ismail Sabri who has formed a memorandum of agreement with PH in order to solidify his position in the Dewan Rakyat and prevent yet another government change.

Both sacked from Bersatu in May 2020, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Muar) would form his own party Muda at the end of that year while Maszlee Malik (Simpang Renggam) joined PKR in January 2021 after remaining as an independent for nearly a year.

Most recently, Datuk Khairuddin Aman Razali (Kuala Nerus) was sacked from Islamist party PAS, and he became an independent supporting PN.

Just yesterday, Datuk Masir Kujat (Sri Aman) left Parti Sarawak Bersatu to become a pro-government independent. Masir had just joined that party in March 2019, and was formerly in Parti Rakyat Sarawak under BN.

Suffice to say, how the Dewan Rakyat looks now is very much different from how it was just after the 14th general election.



Putrajaya will now attempt to amend the Federal Constitution through a Bill that would outlaw party-hopping and also limit the tenure of a prime minister.

However, the government had decided to postpone the amendment to April 11 from its initial deadline after the last sitting ended on March 24.

In a statement on March 18, de facto law minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the decision was made after the Cabinet determined that more input was needed from stakeholders, “particularly” from the government side.

He added that this was to guarantee the Bill garners the adequate two-thirds majority support needed to amend the Federal Constitution, once it is tabled in Parliament.

Previously, PH said it was ready to take to the streets if the anti-party hopping Bill was not tabled and passed within this Parliament sitting.

Sapura only became a GLC in 2019, Najib tells Rafizi



Sapura only became a GLC in 2019, Najib tells Rafizi


Najib Razak says Rafizi Ramli’s observations on Sapura Energy were ‘weak’, egging him to ‘try again’.


PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak says Sapura Energy Bhd was not a government-linked company (GLC) until 2019 and that it was not under his purview when he helmed the top post.

In response to Rafizi Ramli’s statement that Sapura’s executive director earned some RM983 million when Najib was the prime minister, Najib said this had nothing to do with the government at the time.


“I did not speak out though the CEO was getting paid well because, before 2019, the company was a private company which was built and owned by the CEO into the second-largest oil and gas services company in the world,” Najib said in a Facebook post this morning.

“It wasn’t a GLC and it wasn’t under my observation and control when I was prime minister. Even if they wanted to pay RM1 billion a year, it was not the government’s problem as long as Sapura’s shareholders and board of directors allowed it.

“That was weak, Rafizi. Try again.”

Earlier, the PKR vice-president had said Sapura’s executive director received RM983 million in various payments from 2009 to 2018, when Najib was the prime minister.

He said it was unfair that the executive director was receiving three times more the amount of the dividends paid to other Sapura shareholders, including fund management companies like Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP).

In his retort, Najib asked Rafizi why he did not speak out when the Pakatan Harapan government injected some RM2.7 billion in funds into Sapura in 2019 to make Putrajaya the biggest shareholder.


This, he said, was despite PH knowing that the wages of its former CEO were very high.


“The one who bailed them out is (PH). But you were all quiet then. With that, Sapura became a GLC in 2019 and the former CEO retired in March 2021,” he said.

Najib said Rafizi and PH seemed to only be able to find faults and not solutions, maintaining that the problem at hand was that Sapura was at risk of going bankrupt.

“We have a chance to save the economy and the potential to generate wealth by recovering a big company in one of the most important industries to the country, at a time when global demand for oil and gas services is high.

“If Petronas, which really needs Sapura’s services, takes over or helps the firm, the government does not need to spend a sen to recover Sapura.

“If Sapura is allowed to go bankrupt, it will not yield any benefit to the country. I want to solve problems, but Rafizi wants to find faults,” he said.


Pay Gas In Ruble Or Else – Europe In Serious Trouble As Putin Retaliates Against Western Sanctions




Pay Gas In Ruble Or Else – Europe In Serious Trouble As Putin Retaliates Against Western Sanctions


Russia has a brilliant plan to boost its currency, which experienced a sudden collapse after the U.S. and Europe imposed economic and financial sanctions on Moscow due to Ukraine invasion. The “Ruble” plunged to its record low of 151 to a US dollar on March 7. But even before the latest plan is executed, the Russia’s currency has improved to 97.25 on Monday (March 28).



It appeared that Russian President Vladimir Putin had done his homework and preparation before launching the “special military operation”. After all, how could you not prepare for the worst when Joe Biden, like a broken record, had warned his Russian counterpart for months that the U.S. and allies would slap sanctions “like none he’s ever seen” in the event of an invasion on Ukraine?



The strategy was to limit ruble selling and force ruble buying. First, Russia’s central bank immediately hiked interest rates to 20% from 9.5% to limit withdrawal as fresh sanctions by Western countries put pressure on the country’s financial system. Then it capped the amount of dollars (US$10,000 limit) that every Russian can withdraw from foreign-currency bank accounts.



Next, local banks were barred from selling foreign currencies to customers for the next 6 months (till Sept 9). At the same time, brokerages are not allowed to let foreign clients sell securities. The capital controls kicked in to fight the U.S. and its allies’ attempt to isolate Putin and Russia, hoping the economic disaster would trigger an uprising and regime change.



But instead of public uproars and uprising, Putin managed to rally the people behind him. The Russian supremo’s speech at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on March 18 attracted 200,000 people, according to local police. Dressed in a turtleneck and coat, Putin used the pro-war rally to justify the military operation – it was necessary because the U.S. was using Ukraine to threaten Russia.



In retaliation against the European Union’s economic and financial sanctions, Putin has just dropped a bombshell – Russia wants “unfriendly countries” to pay for Russian natural gas in rubles. Russian gas accounts for some 40% of Europe’s total consumption and EU gas imports from Russia contributes up to US$1 billion – every day – to Moscow even during the ongoing war.



Gas giant Gazprom has been ordered to make the corresponding changes to gas contracts and present the ruble gas payments to Putin by this Thursday (March 31). According to Gazprom, 58% of its sales of natural gas to Europe and other countries were settled in Euros, while US dollars accounted for about 39% of gross sales and British pound sterling around 3%.



The list of unfriendly countries includes the U.S., E.U., Britain, Japan, Canada, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Ukraine. While the European nations have not sanctioned Russian oil and gas, the European Commission has said it plans to cut EU dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and end its reliance on Russian supplies “well before 2030”.



Moscow’s unexpected retaliation saw the ruble hit 95 against the dollar as the plan will push demand for the Russian currency. But a change of currency for import of Russian energy could create more havoc and trouble for the EU, which has already seen some European and British wholesale gas prices up to 30%, sparking the risk of inflation and escalating cost of living.



German Economy Minister Robert Habeck called Putin’s demand a breach of contract. Likewise, Poland said – “This would constitute a breach of payment rules included in the current contracts”. Energy ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations rejected the ruble payment demands, saying – “All G7 ministers have agreed that this is a unilateral and clear breach of existing contracts”.



However, Putin said – “Russia will continue, of course, to supply natural gas in accordance with volumes and prices … fixed in previously concluded contract. The changes will only affect the currency of payment, which will be changed to Russian rubles”. Moscow could also argue that any contract is void the moment the U.S. and EU unilaterally seized its foreign reserves.




The move to banish major Russian banks from SWIFT has put a limit to Moscow’s use of its US$630 billion war chest. The reason why the Russian currency collapsed so easily and quickly was because the U.S. and its allies shut off the Russian central bank’s access to most of its US$630 billion of foreign reserves – effectively emptying its coffers critical to support the rubles.



Exactly why can the Western powers broke the laws by confiscating US$630 billion belonging to the Russians, but Moscow cannot demand gas exports to be paid in rubles? The EU, together with the U.S., was responsible for making ruble a “pariah” currency, the same Russian currency that Putin now wants it to accept in exchange for oil and gas.



On Monday (March 28), the Kremlin said it will not supply gas to Europe for free if they refused to pay in ruble – suggesting that President Putin is ready to shut down the supply. Even though the United States said on Friday that it will work to supply 15 bcm of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the European Union this year, it will be too little too late.



Analysts said U.S. LNG plants are already producing at full capacity, and any additional U.S. gas sent to Europe would have to come from exports that would have gone elsewhere. No matter how you calculate it, the EU will definitely struggle to replace all Russian gas exports in a short period of time. The commodity is not some Instagram photos that you can upload or download instantly.



Putin wanted to reverse the current flow of money, forcing nations responsible for the collapse of ruble to support the currency instead. As the country continues to sell its oil, despite the economic and financial sanctions, the revenue generated is more than it needed for imports. Oil prices above US$100 a barrel are boosting its revenue, even when it sells at a discount.



It would be interesting to see how much the ruble could appreciate since Russia controls the printing of the currency. It was a dumb move by the European countries to announce its plan to shift away from Russian energy in the coming years. Moscow has no incentive to play nice anymore, but to throw everything including the kitchen sink to disrupt the oil supply to the EU.



Mr Putin does not care even if his demands would fundamentally change contracts and render them null and void. Either way, Europe needs Russian energy more than Russia needs the Euro currency. The EU needed Russian natural gas to generate electricity, heat homes and supply industry. Putin has nothing to lose since Russia is already being isolated by the Western nations anyway.



Not only the European Union depends on Russia for 40% of its gas, it also relies 27% of its oil imports and 46% of coal imports from the country. Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said – “We are much more dependent on Europe in comparison to the situation in the United States. That’s why we must be intelligent. The goal is not to be painful for ourselves.”



The question is whether Russia was bluffing when it said it could halt the gas supply to Europe if its demands are not fulfilled. In the same breath, will the Europe eventually blink when Moscow makes good on its threat to close the tap on the commodity? This is another brinkmanship game between Russia and the Europe. Putin’s message was clear – “if you want our gas, buy our currency”.



Perhaps this is one of the reasons President Joe Biden went off-script, wishing for a regime change – “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” – only for the White House to make a U-turn. It was a display of desperation as economic sanctions fail to bring Putin down to his knees. The U.S. and E.U. have underestimated Russian’s powerful leverage on its oil and gas.






Germany girds for gas rationing, Europe on edge in Russian standoff

Reuters:

Germany girds for gas rationing, Europe on edge in Russian standoff




The Astora natural gas depot, which is the largest natural gas storage in Western Europe, is pictured in Rehden, Germany, March 16, 2022. Astora is part of the Gazprom Germania Group. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer


Summary

  • Europe fears Moscow will turn off gas supplies
  • Kremlin says rouble payments a good idea for other commodities
  • Kremlin says it will not immediately demand roubles for gas
  • Economic standoff raises risk of recession in Europe


BERLIN/FRANKFURT, March 30 (Reuters) - Germany triggered an emergency plan to manage gas supplies on Wednesday that could see Europe's largest economy ration power if a standoff over a Russian demand to pay for fuel with roubles disrupts or halts supplies.

Moscow's insistence on rouble payments for the Russian gas that meets a third of Europe's annual energy needs has galvanised others in Europe: Greece called an emergency meeting of suppliers, the Dutch government said it would urge consumers to use less gas and the French energy regulator told consumers not to panic. read more

The demand for roubles, which has been rejected by Group of Seven nations, is in retaliation for crippling Western sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. read more


Ratio of Russian gas imports to domestic fuel consumption


Moscow, which says it is conducting a "special military operation" there, calls Western measures an "economic war".

Russia's most senior lawmaker said on Wednesday Russia could demand rouble payments also for other commodities including oil, grain, fertilisers, coal and metals, raising the risk of recession in Europe and the United States.

Moscow is expected to make public its plans for rouble payments on Thursday, although it said it would not immediately demand that buyers pay for gas exports in the currency. read more

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have agreed in a call that experts from their countries would discuss how payment for Russian gas exports could be made in roubles, the TASS news agency reported.

Separately, Putin outlined the rouble plan in a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Draghi's office said.

Two Russian sources told Reuters as one of the options for the switch, Russia planned to keep contract prices for gas exported to "unfriendly" countries but demand the payment to be done in the rouble equivalent on a pre-agreed settlement day. read more

Western countries have said payment in roubles would breach contracts that can take months or more to renegotiate, a prospect that has driven commodity prices higher.

It would also blunt the impact of Western curbs on Moscow's access to its foreign exchange reserves and bolster its currency.

The European Union is preparing more sanctions against the Kremlin, EU sources told Reuters on Wednesday, with their scope depending on Moscow's stance on gas payments in roubles. read more

INDUSTRY FIRST IN LINE FOR CUTS

Berlin's unprecedented move is the clearest sign yet that the European Union is preparing for Moscow to cut gas supplies unless it gets payment in roubles. Italy and Latvia have already activated warnings.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck implemented the "early warning phase" of an existing gas emergency plan, where a crisis team from the economics ministry, the regulator and the private sector will monitor imports and storage.

Habeck told reporters Germany's gas supplies were guaranteed for now but urged consumers and companies to reduce consumption, saying that "every kilowatt hour counts".

If supplies fall short, Germany's network regulator can ration gas, with industry first in line for cuts and preferential treatment for private households, hospitals and other critical institutions.

Even without the threat of gas shortages, Germany could face recession as climbing energy costs have already forced companies, including makers of steel and chemicals, to curtail production.

German industry association BDI on Wednesday asked for government support, including loans and state participations, to prevent firms from going bust, while government's economic advisers slashed this year's growth forecast because of the Ukraine crisis. 


Reuters Graphics Reuters Graphics


Half of Germany's 41.5 million households use natural gas for heating while industry account for roughly a third of national demand. Russia is Germany's top gas supplier, accounting for 40% of imports in the first quarter of 2022. Berlin has pledged to end its energy dependency on Moscow but it will not achieve that before mid-2024, according to Habeck.

Europe faced an energy crunch even before Russian troops entered Ukraine on Feb. 24, with European Union gas storage levels at about 26% of total capacity, below normal levels at this time of year.

The European Commission, which said on Wednesday it would work closely with member states to prepare for any gas shortages, has proposed legislation requiring countries to fill levels to at least 80% by November but that would be almost impossible without Russian supplies.

The 80% target would not apply if the European Commission declared an EU-wide or regional gas supply emergency - which it can do if at least two countries declare an emergency first.

'EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE'

Jean-Fran├žois Carenco, head of the energy regulator in France, far less dependent on Russian gas than Germany, thanks to gas and liquefied natural gas sourced elsewhere and its reliance on nuclear power plants, r power generation, said the country should not encounter any supply issues.

"Everything will be fine, the gas storage facilities are well filled, we'll make it through the winter," he told BFM TV.

Greece was set to hold an emergency meeting of its energy regulator, gas transmission operator and its biggest gas and power suppliers on Wednesday to assess its supply security in case Russia stops supplies.

The Dutch government said it would launch a campaign to get consumers to use less gas.

Investors are watching to see how the dispute over Russia's insistence on rouble payments plays out as consumers in Europe grapple with energy prices that have forced governments to announce fiscal relief measures.

This month has been the most expensive month for power prices in European history, although markets are set to end the month at lower levels than at the start of March.

After Germany's announcement, German year-ahead wholesale electricity set a three-week high of 185 euros per megawatt hour, up 6.3%. .

Kerstin Andreae, head of the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW), said Germany should have clear plans for how the government would deal with a gas delivery stoppage that forced rationing.

"We must now take concrete measures to prepare for the emergency level, because in case of a stoppage things would have to move fast," Andreae said.