Saturday, August 29, 2009

Temple demo: Residents march with cow's head - Malaysiakini

By Andrew Ong Aug 28, 09 3:52pm

Some 50 residents enraged with the proposed relocation of a Hindu temple to their area staged a noisy protest with a severed cow's head this afternoon.

The residents - from Section 23 in Shah Alam - who gathered after the Friday prayers, placed the head outside the gates of the state secretariat building for a short period before removing it.

"Where is Xavier? This head is for him," shouted one of the protesters in reference to Selangor executive councillor Dr Xavier Jeyakumar.

Jeyakumar is one of those in charge of non-Muslim affairs in the state.

Earlier, the protesters had marched some 300m from the state mosque to the state secretariat building.

The protesters also condemned Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, exco member Rodziah Ismail (as the area falls under her state constituency) and Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad.

Before dispersing, several protesters spat and stomped on the cow's head. The cow is considered sacred among Hindus.

Addressing the crowd, Section 23 action committee deputy chair Ibrahim Sabri said: "If there is blood, you (the state government) will be responsible if you are adamant about building the temple."

"This is a warning. Relocate the temple to Section 22. This cow is a present to the state government. This is a gift from us," he added.

The protesters also carried several banners which among others read 'Take Beer' (mocking PAS' rallying cry of 'Takbir') and 'Illegal temples are very small, but once relocated, they are as big as Putrajaya'.

The crowd gathered for about 15 minutes at the main entrance of the state secretariat building under the watch of more than a dozen police personnel.

'We'll not budge an inch'

Speaking to reporters later, Action Committee chair Mahyuddin Manaf warned that the state government must give in or the residents would retaliate.

"We will not budge one inch, even if lives are lost or blood is made to flow. We will still defend Section 23 from having a temple built there," he said.

He added that a protest memorandum was forwarded to the state government two months ago but there has been no response.

Contacted later, Mahyuddin distanced his organisation from the act of bringing the cow head to the protest.

"It is not our intention. We were surprised," he said, denying that the act was intended to insult Hindus.

He said that the cow head was likely brought by angry residents.

"Maybe, they meant it (as a symbol of) stupidity. In Malay culture, the cow is a symbol of stupidity, or leaders that are stupid," he said.

On Aug 11, the state government announced that the relocation of the temple from Section 19 to Section 23 was final and will be situated 200m from the nearest house and 400m from a surau.

The temple will face an industrial lot and will be separated from the houses by a playground and a multi-purpose hall.

However, some residents felt that it was not appropriate to build a temple in a Muslim-majority area.

The Pakatan Rakyat state government accused rivals Umno of instigating the crowd to protest the relocation.

Jeyakumar to lodge police report

In an immediate reaction, a furious Jeyakumar described the protest as "unwarranted, unacceptable and without sensitivity towards other religions."

He also said that he will lodge a police report on the matter soon.

"These people should have ethics. They are inciting racial and religious hatred. I am going to lodge a police report against these people," he told Malaysiakini.

He also expressed disappointment towards the police personnel at the scene for not taking any action against the protesters.

"The police didn't stop anybody. The police should have arrested them and charged them for inciting hatred," he said, adding that he could tolerate with "ethical" demonstrations.

Jeyakumar is slated to meet Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar and other police officers over the matter tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Khir Toyo, BN reps suspended from Assembly - Star


SHAH ALAM: The Selangor State Assembly has suspended former mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo and four other Barisan Nasional assemblymen for one year and six months each respectively.

All their privileges as assemblymen have also been revoked for the suspension period.

The state assembly’s Rights and Privileges Committee had recommended Dr Mohd Khir’s suspension without privileges for not attending the Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) inquiry and for allegedly making disparaging remarks against the committee in the media.

The other four Barisan assemblymen -- Datuk Warno Dogol (Sabak Bernam), Datuk Mohd Idris Abu Bakar (Hulu Bernam), Mohd Isa Abu Kassim (Batang Kali) and Datuk Marsum Paing (Dengkil) -- were also suspended for attacking Selcat in the media.

All hell broke loose at the Assembly earlier Wednesday when Dr Mohd Khir came out with guns blazing to shoot down the motion to suspend him and the other four from the House.

After a tirade against the motion during the debate, he and 18 other Barisan assemblymen then walked out and collectively announced to the media that they would be boycotting the current state assembly session.

When debating the motion to suspend him and his colleagues, Dr Mohd Khir lambasted the state government for “going against natural justice” by recommending the suspension.

He said Selcat had acted unfairly by not providing necessary documents to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for investigations to be carried out after the inquiry.

He also accused the state government of orchestrating the Selcat inquiry to “hide its inefficacy in governing the state.”

He called the Pakatan Rakyat coalition “brittle” and said it was a “sinking ship.”

“During my tenure as mentri besar, the state was never in such bad condition nor had it lost so much investment,” he claimed.

He said Selcat was “incomprehensible,” adding that was some confusion over whether the inquiry was to investigate the Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) or evaluate state-owned companies.

He said he did not attend the hearing because he was not a member of Balkis and that he and his BN colleagues were slapped with suspensions because they addressed the state government’s weaknesses.

Complainant, prosecutor and judge
Dr Mohd Khir also took potshots at DAP assemblymen Ronnie Liu and Ng Suee Lim.

He said that his suspension was unfair because Selangor Speaker Teng Chang Khim had played the role of “complainant, prosecutor and judge.”

He said Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia had not participated in the suspension of Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo earlier this year, and Teng should have done the same and stayed above the fray.

Dr Mohd Khir also cited several provisions in the Standing Order, claiming that not adhering to the order of a legislative assembly committee was not tantamount to contempt of the House.

At a press conference later, Teng lambasted accused Dr Mohd Khir of misleading the public.

Accompanied by Deputy Speaker Haniza Talha, Teng said none of the Standing Order provisions cited by Dr Mohd Khir were correct or relevant.

He read out clauses from the Standing Order which stated that an act of contempt towards the legislative assembly’s committees was equivalent to contempt of the House.

Teng also said Standing Order provisions allowed him to be complainant, prosecutor and judge when the need arose.

He said this was reflected by his decision to throw Dr Mohd Khir out of the House on Monday for calling Teng biased.

“He is talking about ordinary court proceedings but this is the legislative assembly,” said Teng.

“In Gobind’s case, the MP was ordered out of the House for calling then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak names.

“The following day, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz tabled a motion to suspend him and he was suspended without being referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee.

“The Speaker did not participate because Speakers do not participate in debates and the motion was tabled by the Government,” said Teng.

He said it was a different scenario in Selangor because Dr Mohd Khir was given a chance to defend himself.

He said the former mentri besar had appeared before the legislative assembly’s Rights and Privileges Committee with seven lawyers, but had refused to say anything to defend himself.

Transcripts of the proceedings were made available to the press.

On Dr Mohd Khir’s allegation that Selcat had refused to give the relevant documents to the MACC, Teng said the findings cannot be revealed before they are tabled in the House.

“They have since been tabled and the MACC can get copies of the findings now,” said Teng, adding that the MACC had been invited to attend Selcat’s public hearing but it had not sent a representative.

MACC raids Selangor exco man's office - Star

Jul 15, 2009 By WANI MUTHIAH

SHAH ALAM: Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers raided Selangor executive council member Ean Yong Hian Wah’s office at the state secretariat building here Wednesday.

The team, comprising officers from the MACC’s Selangor and Putrajaya divisions, seized a personal laptop belonging to Ean Yong’s political secretary Teoh Beng Hock and a desktop computer belonging to the state government.

Teoh, 30, was also taken by the officers to the Selangor MACC office to assist in the investigation.

The officers had gone to Ean Yong’s 15th floor office at about 3:45pm but left after seeing a big group of journalists there. They returned about 15 minutes later when the journalists had left the scene.

Ean Yong, who is the Seri Kembangan state assemblyman, said the officers had initially left the office because they were uncomfortable with the media presence there.

He added they had visited his service centre in Sri Kambangan at about 12:30pm before coming to the state secretariat building.

Meanwhile, Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San said the MACC officers had also raided his service centre.

Lau said the MACC had asked him questions about community programmes he had organised.

Ean Yong and Lau are among seven Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives from the Petaling District who are allegedly being investigated by the MACC over the disbursement of state funds allocated to their respective constituencies.

The others are Teresa Kok (Kinrara), Elizabeth Wong (Bukit Lanjan), Dr Cheah Wing Yin (Damansara Utama), Edward Lee (Bukit Gasing) and Hannah Yeoh (Subang Jaya).

Kok had said in a press conference on Monday that even the recipients of the allocations were quizzed by the MACC.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dr Khir ejected from assembly sitting- Star


SHAH ALAM: Selangor Opposition leader Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo was thrown out of the state legislative assembly Monday for accusing Speaker Teng Chang Khim of being biased.

Teng had ordered Dr Mohd Khir to retract the allegation and apologise, but the former mentri besar adamantly refused to do so.

Teng then ordered him to leave. The Sg Panjang assemblyman left the chambers accompanied by other Barisan Nasional legislators.

The drama began at about 11:30am when Sekinchan assemblyman Ng Suee Lim informed the house that Dr Mohd Khir’s lawyers had handed him a legal notice at the state assembly premises.

The lawyers had tried to hand over the legal notice to Ng last Friday at the assembly premises as well, but the DAP assemblyman had refused to accept the document.

The legal notice was to inform Ng that Dr Mohd Khir had instituted a defamation suit against him over his allegation that the former mentri besar had spent RM24 mil to purchase a luxury bungalow here.

Ng asked Teng if this was permissible under the Standing Order and if doing so was tantamount to disrespecting the House.

Teng referred to the Standing Order and said it stated that no legal notices or court orders could be handed over at the premises of the legislative assembly.

“This contravenes the immunity enjoyed by elected representatives when in the House and it is also a show of disrespect towards the legislative assembly,” said Teng.

He warned Dr Mohd Khir not to repeat the action and asked him to remind his lawyers not to do so either.

“As lawyers they should have known this as it is a Constitutional convention ... this is something that even first year law students know.

“It’s a practice that has been in place for over a hundred years.

“It also happened in Parliament once and the Speaker there had ruled that it cannot be done in the premises as it contravened parliamentary immunity,” said Teng.

Dr Mohd Khir then told Teng the Standing Order only stated that it cannot be done in the assembly chambers and not anywhere else within the premises.

“It meant only in the House (chamber) not when out of the House. That’s why everyone can talk outside, including reporters.

“That is also why reporters are not allowed inside the House (chamber),” he said, adding that the notice was handed over to Ng at the parking lot.

Teng then asked Dr Mohd Khir to specify which Standing Order stated so and when the Opposition legislator failed to do so, the Speaker raised his voice.

Dr Mohd Khir then told Teng that Kinrara assemblyman Teresa Kok had placed a legal notice on his table during the assembly seating earlier this year.

Teng then retorted that Dr Mohd Khir should have reported to him when the alleged incident had taken place.

Teng repeatedly asked Dr Mohd Khir to specify the Standing Order which allowed legal notices to be handed out in the legislative assembly premises.

The explosive exchange that followed not only silenced the House but also shocked a group of college students who were watching the proceedings in the lobby.

Dr Mohd Khir: “I plead with the Speaker not to be biased.”

Teng: “Retract that statement.”

Dr Mohd Khir: “I will not retract.”

Teng: “Retract or leave. No legislative assembly has accused the Speaker as being biased. I am giving you a chance to apologise.”

Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San then stood up to speak but was ordered to sit down by Teng, who said that he was capable of dealing with the situation.

Dr Mohd Khir, who left the assembly, told reporters waiting for him at the lobby that he was disappointed with Teng for telling him to leave.

He reiterated that Kok had placed a legal notice on his table in the House and he had accepted it “without much ado.”

He alleged that there were many personal attacks leveled against him in the House, and added that the proceedings in the House “reeked of personal agendas.”

“They don’t even know how to govern the state,” he said.

Later in a press conference, Dr Mohd Khir said that he would be instituting legal action against Teng.

During lunch break, Ng claimed that a legal firm representative had handed him the notice at the legislative assembly dining hall and not the parking lot as claimed by Dr Mohd Khir.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Selangor govt finds former MB Khir Toyo guilty - Star

May 19, 2009 By WANI MUTHIAH

SHAH ALAM: Selangor’s Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) has found former mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo guilty of not attending its inquiry in March into the disbursement of state agency funds.

The committee, under the Selangor State Legislative Assembly, has also found him guilty of three charges of making disparaging remarks and negative statements on Selcat’s legitimacy, in the media and on his blog.

He was slapped with an earlier one-year suspension for his failure to attend the inquiry, and six months each for the three consecutive charges.

All his allowances and privileges as an assemblyman would also be suspended.

However, Selcat chairman Teng Chang Khim said these were only recommendations made by Selcat.

“These recommendations would be brought to the next State Assembly sitting in July for debate. Everybody involved, including Dr Mohd Khir, will be allowed to debate on the recommendations,” he said.

In the eight-day Selcat inquiry in March, witnesses had testified that millions of ringgit from the state’s business arm were squandered by Balkis, a charity headed by Dr Mohd Khir’s wife Datin Zaharah Kechik while he was in office.

Selangor to enact Freedom of Info law - Star

May 19, 2009 By SHAILA KOSHY

PETALING JAYA: Selangor will be the first state to table a Freedom of Information (FOI) Enactment bill in its legislative assembly by the end of this year.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said the Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor had decided on this because it believed that all citizens had the right to have and know as much information as they needed.

“Only a well-informed citizenry can make good decisions on matters involving public interest.

“Freedom of information and media freedom stand shoulder to shoulder.

“Without access to information, how can journalists be effective in their jobs?” Khalid said at the state government’s belated observance of World Press Freedom Day and the launch of its Communications and Media Network -- a monthly newspaper and online portal both called selangor kini, and the webTV channel TV Selangor -- at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre Tuesday.

He said Pakatan component parties had proposed to the Federal Government that amendments be made to secrecy laws but there had been no response thus far.

“That did not mean Pakatan state governments did not have do anything; as such, we set up a Freedom of Information Taskforce last year to ensure an FOI Bill is tabled at the Legislature before the end of the year,” he said.

Khalid said the taskforce was chaired by assemblyman Elizabeth Wong and comprised assemblymen and members of the public.

Later at a press conference, he said the FOI Bill would fulfil the state government’s promise to the people to give them access to information so that the administration would be accountable for its activities.

He cited the shock of the British people to a news article revealing, as a result of a request under that nation’s FOI law, the expenses claimed for by their Members of Parliament.

To another question, he said a few assemblymen had been called up by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in relation to the Official Secrets Act (OSA) over certain documents that were discussed in the Legislature and mentioned in Parliament.

“Assemblymen have protection when they speak in the Legislature but the fact that the MACC felt the need to speak to them shows that there is a need for clarity (on the classification of secret documents),” he said.

On what would happen if the state government declared a document public under its proposed FOI enactment but the Federal Government deemed it a secret under the OSA, Khalid said that the federal law would supersede the state legislation.

“When it comes to state documents, the state has the right to contest the decision of the Federal Government,” he added.

Meanwhile, for extra check and balance, Wong said the taskforce she chairs was proposing the establishment of an independent information commission to which the public could appeal if they wanted some information and the state government refused to give it.

“The common view is that everything is under the OSA but our view is that all information should be made public, apart from some exceptions,” she added.

Asked whether the draft enactment would be made public before it was tabled, Wong said yes.

“I am trying to have it ready for the July meeting, if not then the October/ November meeting. And once it has been tabled for first and second readings, the bill will then be referred to a Select Committee.

“The Select Committee will have six months to gather feedback and hold consultations with members of the public and public bodies, and to study FOI laws in other countries, before it goes to the third reading.

“This is a common process in advanced, mature democracies and we intend to introduce it in the Selangor State Assembly,” she said.

Later, at a public consultation and forum themed “Freedom of Information: The Right to Reclaim,” Wong reminded attendees that a government holds information on the public’s behalf.

She said a government was not mandated to hide information but noted there were exceptions when it came to over-riding public interest, legal privilege, health and safety.

At the same forum, Centre for Policy Initiatives director Dr Lim Teck Ghee said the state played a major role in nurturing freedom of information.

“It has been argued by the Federal Government and its supporters that the right to speech does not mean the right to information.

“But the two go hand-in-hand because our fundamental right to speech can be effectuated only if we -- all citizens -- have the effective right to access information that is available with the government.”

Centre for Independent Journalism programme director Sevan Doraisamy said an FOI law was just as important for public servants as it was for the public.

“During the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) scare (in 2005), the Health Ministry gave out good and quick information to the public but this was questioned online.

“It’s a question of trust -- an FOI law would be the first step towards building trust in the authorities,” he said.

Dipendra Harshad Rai, head of the Media Defence and Freedom of Expression Working Group in the Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee, cautioned that the proposed state enactment would not overturn the OSA but would provide a framework for how the public could get information.

He added it was important to come up with a solution to declassify information within the OSA.

Freelance journalist Padmaja Padman said the state government need not worry because an FOI law is passed to provide information based on the principles of maximum disclosure and routine publication, among others.

Transparency International-Malaysia member Ngooi Chiu-ing said greater access to information could help curb corruption

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Selangor Sultan leaves for heart surgery in US - Sun

SHAH ALAM (Apr 29, 2009): The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, left for the United States yesterday to undergo heart mitral valve repair or replacement at Stanford University Medical Centre in Palo Alto,San Francisco.

The sultan will undergo the surgery on Saturday and would be under treatment at the hospital for three weeks, Selangor State Secretary Datuk Ramli Mahmud said.

The Sultan left for Singapore on Tuesday and flew to San Francisco from there this morning, Ramli told a news conference, attended by the sultan's private secretary, Datuk Mohamad Munir Bani.

He said cardiothoracic surgeon Prof Dr Alan Yeung and mitral valve specialist Prof Dr Craig Miller would attend to the sultan at Stanford University Medical Centre.

Ramli said the sultan had asked the people of Selangor not to be worried and to pray for a successful surgery.

"I have also asked the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department to seek the cooperation of the mosque and surau committees in the state for the reciting of the Yassin and doa selamat on Thursday (today) and to hold the solat hajat after the Friday prayers at all Selangor mosques during the treatment of the sultan," he said.

The sultan was accompanied by his younger brother, Tengku Ahmad Shah; medical specialist from Sime Darby Medical Centre in Subang Jaya Datuk Setia Dr Anuar Masduki; member of the Council of the Royal Court of Selangor Tan Sri Syed Mohd Yusof Tun Syed Nasir; Datuk Pengelola Bijaya Diraja Datuk Zakaria Abd Rahman, and two friends