Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Zaki’s rise explained

The Star (7/11/2007): THE appointment of Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi as the new Court of Appeal president should not raise any eyebrows because it is not the first time that a legal practitioner has been chosen for senior judiciary post.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abd Aziz also said there was nothing wrong with his quick move upwards.

“There is no law against fast track appointments nor is it unconstitutional,” he said at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

Zaki’s appointment was announced by the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

He takes over from Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad who has been appointed the country’s new Chief Justice following the retirement of Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim on Oct 3.

He was earlier appointed Federal Court Judge in September.

Nazri said, as a lawyer, Zaki was invited to sit in the disciplinary panel of Umno because he was a lawyer with integrity.

On his background as a lawyer, Nazri said Zaki was not the first legal practitioner to hold a high position in the judiciary.

Nazri said former Chief Justice of the Federal Court Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah, who retired on March 14, 2003, was the first legal practitioner to become a Chief Justice of the Federal Court.

Later, Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh welcomed Abdul Hamid’s appointment as the new CJ.

“We have confidence that he can help restore public confidence in the judiciary,” he said, adding that Abdul Hamid had inherited a judiciary plagued by allegations of corruption.

On Zaki's appointment, Karpal, who is DAP national chairman and a veteran lawyer, said it created a bit of apprehension among lawyers, given his political ties.

PAS Youth Chief Salahuddin Ayub expressed surprise over Zaki’s appointment and said it should have been based on rank and file.
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Wisma Putra needs to actively counter negative foreign media reports

Bernama (13/11/2007): A number of backbenchers today urged the Foreign Ministry to be more proactive in countering negative foreign media reports on Malaysia.

They felt that Wisma Putra officers should not bow to outside pressure, but should always explain the government's policies to the foreigners and Malaysian students abroad.

Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) said although Malaysia was a small country, it was well known as a critic over universal issues.

While debating on the Supply Bill 2008 in the Dewan Rakyat here today, he also questioned Wisma Putra's action with regard to a neighbouring country's media that frequently rubbished Malaysia although the country's leaders spoke of the good relations between both countries.

"We want our Foreign Ministry to make a firm stand by explaining that the good bilateral relations should not be compromised.

Datuk Mahadzir Mohd Khir (BN-Sungai Petani) who joined the debate, questioned the effectiveness of the ministry in explaining issues to Malaysian students abroad.

"Has the ministry provided a website to disseminate information on the issues and arising situations in the country?" he asked.

Datuk Dr Rahman Ismail (BN-Gombak) questioned the extent of the role and efforts by Malaysia's envoys and representatives overseas in enhancing the country's image and in organising programmes to attract more investors and promoting Malaysia, for instance, in becoming a halal hub.

Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian), on the other hand, questioned Malaysia's preparedness in presenting its claims over Batu Putih at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

He said this was because Singapore appeared to be more prepared in presenting its case before the court while its delegation comprised individuals with very wide legal experience.

"As a Malaysian, I hope the decision will favour us... but are we satisfied with the experts who are representing our country?"

Malaysia's delegation to the ICJ is led by Ambassador at Large Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Mohamad, Malaysian ambassador to the Netherlands Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin and Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.

The lawyers defending Malaysia's stand over its claims are Prof Elihu Lauterpacht, Prof James Crawford, Prof Nicolas Jan Schrijver, Prof Marcelo G.Kohen and Penelope Nevil.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum said the government provided an annual assistance of RM180,000 to the Palestine embassy here to run its operations, besides RM700 monthly for its utility bills.

"We will also be giving a new Perdana V6 car to the new Palestinian ambassador at the end of this month," he added.
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Advice to Dr Faiz to stay single unhealthy, MP says

Bernama (27/11/2007): It is unhealthy and a discrimination, says Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) of the advice to spaceman Maj Dr Faiz Khaleed to stay single until 2011.

"Was it a policy?," she asked. It would only put pressure on Dr Faiz and those interested to participate in the National Spaceman Programme in the future, she said when debating the Supply Bill 2008 in the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday.

On Nov 10, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis said Dr Faiz was not encouraged to get married until the mission to send another Malaysian to outer space is realised in 2011.

This was to ensure Dr Faiz remain focus on the training, he said.

It was not a coercion, he explained. But, the spaceman had to think seriously of the matter before deciding on getting married, he added.

In his reaction, Dr Faiz said he would heed to the advice. Not getting married was not a major problem, he said, because he knew that his main priority now was to realise the country's mission.

Fong also raised Russia's offer to sell to Malaysia the Soyuz TMA-11 craft that carried first national spaceman Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha to the International Space Station last month.

She wanted to know how far the negotiation had gone into and urged to government to disclose the offer price.

Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar (BN-Larut) welcomed the purchase, saying that the capsule could serve as a symbol of Malaysia's first voyage into space and a historical artefact for display to future generations.

Salahuddin Ayub (Pas-Kubang Kerian) said Malaysia should emulate Iran which had signed an agreement for technology transfer as part of the contract for the purchase of Sukhoi aircraft.

"They bought Sukhoi and asked for technology transfers. Today, they can build aircraft using the technology obtained. We bought Sukhoi and sent a spaceman," he said.

He urged the government to give due consideration before deciding on buying the Soyuz.

Wong Nai Chee (BN-Kota Melaka) said buying the Soyuz capsule was only a waste of tax payers' money because the spaceman programme in itself was enough to inspire the people.

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No ACA officer was under graft probe from 2005 till Sept - Abdullah

Bernama (21/11/2007): No Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) officer was investigated for corruption between 2005 and September this year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday.

However, 549 policemen were under ACA probe for alleged corruption during the same period, he said in his written reply to Salahuddin Ayub (Pas-Kubang Kerian).

Of the total, 269 cases are still being investigated, he told Salahuddin who wanted to know the number of ACA and police officers investigated for curruption.
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Cops seeking writer’s real identity

The Star (5/12/2007): POLICE are still seeking the real identity of a documentary writer whose article, which was posted on the Prime Minister’s Depart-ment (JPM) website, allegedly contained seditious elements.

In a written reply to Salahuddin Ayub (PAS - Kubang Kerian), Internal Security Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said police were still continuing investigations on the writer known as Dr Ng Seng, as “it is believed that the writer did not use his real name.”

Abdullah also said allocations for the police force had been increasing steadily over the last few years, with some RM3.44bil set aside this year for seven departments or activities.

Almost two-thirds of the money went for management and logistics, compared to crime investigation, security risk and public safety.

The highest allocation went to management activities, with RM1.138bil this year compared to RM1.086bil last year, he said in a written reply to Teresa Kok (DAP - Seputeh).
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Joint panel meant to expedite IDR development, says Abdullah

Bernama (26/6/2007): Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the creation of the Malaysia-Singapore joint ministerial committee is meant to facilitate the implementation of development plans for the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in Johor.

The prime minister said the committee, formed on May 15 following approval by the two countries, would only play the role of facilitator to expedite the implementation of government decisions on IDR.

“It’s not an adviser or a body that formulates policies or a consultant for IDR development,” he said in a written reply to Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian) at the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday.

Salahuddin enquired about the authority of the special committee in monitoring development initiatives in the IDR.

Abdullah said the committee, among others, would discuss ways to enhance transportation between IDR and Singapore.

Co-chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi, the committee is also tasked with identifying measures to quicken immigration procedures in Johor and Singapore and promote tourism.

It is also to specify other potential areas for bilateral cooperation that can further develop the IDR and coordinate discussions and the implementation of activities involving the related agencies with regard to suggestions put forward by the committee.

However, Abdullah said, the committee would not make any investment decisions as the matter is under the jurisdiction of the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA).

“IRDA is responsible for IDR’s overall development and is the decision-making body on all issues pertaining to foreign investments,” he added.

IDR will be developed on a 2,217sq km site covering five local authorities — Johor Baharu, Johor Baharu Tengah, Kulai, Pasir Gudang and Pontian.
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John Reid: Britain won’t apologise for Rushdie honour

Daily Mail (20/6/2007): Britain stands by the knighthood awarded to Salman Rushdie and would not apologise for honouring him, the Home Secretary said today.

John Reid said the issue was “sensitive” but the protection of people’s right to express their opinions in literature, argument and politics was “of over-riding value to our society”.

His comments came as Britain voiced “deep concern” over a Pakistani minister’s comments appearing to state the award of the honour justified suicide bombings.

Mr Reid said: “I think we have a set of values that accrues people honours for their contribution to literature even when they don’t agree with our point of view.

“That’s our way and that’s what we stand by.” The Home Secretary said some Christians were upset when John Cleese made the Life of Brian and some Jewish people were upset when Mel Gibson made films.

“We have to be sensitive, but I think that we take the approach that in the long-run the protection of the right to express opinions in literature, argument and politics is of over-riding value to our society,” he said.

“We have very strong laws about promoting racial intolerance. It isn’t a free-for-all. We’ve thought very carefully about it.

“But we have a right to express opinions and a tolerance of other people’s point of view, and we don’t apologise for that.”

His comments came in response to a question at the end of a speech to the Citizens’ Crime Commission in New York today.

The international row over Rushdie’s knighthood today spread further around the globe with new protests flairing in Asia.

Members of Malaysia’s Islamic fundamentalist opposition party protested in front of the British High Commission over Britain’s decision to grant a knighthood to author Salman Rushdie.

About 25 activists from the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party in the Muslim-majority nation shouted “Crush Salman Rushdie” and “Damn Britain” as police stood watch during the one-hour peaceful demonstration outside the British diplomatic mission in Kuala Lumpur.

The protesters dispersed after the party’s youth leader, Salahuddin Ayub, handed a protest note to a commission official.

“We consider this an irresponsible move by the British government,” Salahuddin said.

Britain announced on Saturday it would award a knighthood to Rushdie, one of the most prominent novelists of the late 20th century.

Rushdie went into hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a 1989 religious edict ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because his novel “The Satanic Verses” allegedly insulted Islam.

Iran’s government said in 1998 it would not support but could not rescind the fatwa. But after Saturday’s news Islamic extremists placed a £80,000 bounty on the writer’s head.

The British Government has expressed its “deep concern” over reported comments by one of Pakistan’s ministers which suggested Rushdie’s knighthood could justify suicide attacks.

Protests against the awards continue in Pakistan and its government has summoned Britain’s high commissioner in Islamabad for talks on the escalating row.

“This insulting, suspicious and improper act by the British government is an obvious example of fighting against Islam,” Ebrahim Rahimpour, Foreign Ministry director for Western Europe, told British Ambassador Geoffrey Adams.

Iranian conservatives attacked the Queen over Salman Rushdie’s knighthood, with a top MP saying the British monarch lived in a dreamworld and a newspaper labelling her an “old crone”.

“Salman Rushdie has turned into a hated corpse which cannot be resurrected by any action,” Mohammad Reza Bahonar, first deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament, said in an address to the house.

“The action by the British queen in knighting Salman Rushdie, the apostate, is an unwise one,” he said, to loud cheers from MPs.

“The British monarch lives under this illusion that Britain is still a 19th century superpower and that bestowing titles is something still deemed important.”

Hardline daily Jomhuri Eslami also launched a scathing attack on the queen, describing the monarch as an “old crone” whose action was a “grimace to the Islamic world”.

“The question is what the old British crone sought by knighting Rushdie, to help him? Well, her act only shortens Rushdie’s pathetic life,” it added.

The daily also linked the award of the knighthood - which marked the queen’s 81st birthday - to a controversial party at the British embassy on Thursday celebrating the same occasion.

Dozens of Islamist students protested against the party, hurling stones, eggs and paint filled bags outside the doors of the compound in southern Tehranand vented anger against Iranians who attended the event.

Tory MP Paul Goodman (Wycombe) accused ministers of failing to deal with incitements to terrorism in the UK and said Mr al-Haq’s remarks were such an incitement.

“Although he’s since sought partially to withdraw his remarks, no condemnation of them has been forthcoming to date from a higher level within the government of Pakistan,” said Mr Goodman.

In London, Lord Ahmed, Britain’s first Muslim peer, said he had been appalled by the award to a man he accused of having ‘blood on his hands’.

In Pakistan, where effigies of the Queen and 59-year-old Rushdie were burned, a minister appeared to justify suicide bombings as a response to the knighthood.

“This is an occasion for the world’s 1.5billion Muslims to look at the seriousness of this decision,” said Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, Pakistan’s religious affairs minister.

“The West is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism,” he told his country’s parliament.

“If someone exploded a bomb on his body he would be right to do so, unless the British government apologises and withdraws the ’sir’ title.”

The parliament in Islamabad - supposedly a key ally in the war on terror - then backed a government-sponsored motion demanding an apology and the withdrawal of the honour from the The Satanic Verses author.

This isn’t the first time that Salman Rushdie has his the headlines this year.

There has been much speculation that his three year marriage to Padma Lakshmi is in trouble.

Over the course of their relationship Rushdie and his 36-year-old wife have repeatedly denied claims that he is with for her looks while she is attracted to his wealth and fame.

Padma is a model and actress who has more recently been forging her own career as the host of reality show, Top Chef.

Four years ago the couple went to the trouble of releasing a statement denying Lakshmi found Rushdie “boring” or that he thought she wasn’t “intellectually stimulating enough”.

However rumours of an impending split have persisted.

As a backlash begins in the Muslim world against Rushdie’s knighthood, same way as last year’s furore over 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper.

There were violent protests throughout Europe and the Middle East, Danish citizens were warned not to travel to Arab countries and more than a dozen countries removed Danish goods from their shops.

Labour’s Lord Ahmed expressed surprise at the decision to give a knighthood to Rushdie, who was placed under a fatwa, or death sentence, by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini 18 years ago after the publication of the allegedly blasphemous The Satanic Verses.

“I was appalled to hear Salman Rushdie had been given a knighthood,” Lord Ahmed said.

“Two weeks ago the Prime Minister was calling for building relations between the Muslim world and Britain, then suddenly this knighthood is given to a man who has not only been abusive to Muslims, but also to Christians - because he used abusive language towards Jesus Christ.”

He said whoever had made the decision had made Gordon Brown’s job very difficult as he takes over as Prime Minister.

“The confidence that was being built within Britain with inter-faith work and community cohesion work has once again been damaged because of this provocative decision.

“This man not only provoked violence around the world because of his writings, but there were many people who were killed around the world.

“Forgiving and forgetting is one thing, but honouring the man who has blood on his hands, sort of, because of what he did, I think is going a bit too far.”

In the Iranian capital Tehran, officials of a group called The Organisation to Commemorate the Martyrs of the Muslim World said a £80,000 reward should be paid to anyone ‘who was able to execute the apostate Salman Rushdie’.

Forouz Rajaefar, the general secretary, said that the decision to honour Rushdie with a knight-hood demonstrated the animosity of Britain towards Islam.

He added: “The British and the supporters of the anti-Islam Salman Rushdie could rest assured that the writer’s nightmare will not end until the moment of his death and we will bestow kisses on the hands of whomsoever is able to execute this apostate.”

Iranian MP Mehdi Kuchakzadeh declared: “Rushdie died the moment the late Imam (Khomeini) issued the fatwa.

“It would be a hollow dream for the Queen of England to think that with such a move she could revive one of her mercenaries to oppose Islam. Granting a knighthood to Salman Rushdie will only lead to further hatred towards Britain.”

In the eastern Pakistan city of Multan, hard-line students burned effigies of the Queen and Rushdie.

About 100 students carrying banners condemning the author also chanted, ‘Kill him! Kill him!’

Asim Dahr, a student leader demanded Rushdie face Islamic justice. “This Queen has made a mockery of Muslims by giving him a title of sir,” he told the demonstrators.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Tasnim Aslam said Rushdie’s knighthood would hamper inter-faith understanding and that Islamabad would protest to London.

“We deplore the decision of the British government to knight him. Salman Rushdie has tried to insult and malign Muslims.”

As his apparent justification of suicide bombers was reported, ul-Haq took a step back and said he was trying to stress what was at the root of terrorism.

The reignited bitterness has caused concern at Scotland Yard. The taxpayer has already spent £10million protecting Rushdie 24-hours a day.

He is afforded the same level of protection as Lady Thatcher or some of the royals.

Robert Brinkley, British high commissioner to Pakistan, defended the honour for Rushdie for his contributions to literature.

“It is simply untrue to suggest that this in any way is an insult to Islam or the Prophet Mohammed, and we have enormous respect for Islam as a religion and for its intellectual and cultural achievements,” Mr Brinkley said.

Asked if he was concerned it could provoke unrest in Pakistan, he replied: “We will just have to see where it goes from here. There’s certainly no reason for that.”
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