Friday, July 31, 2015

Adenan puts Baram dam on hold, agrees to listen to natives’ grouses


Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has put the construction of the mammoth hydroelectric dam in Baram on hold. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, July 31, 2015.

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has put the construction of the mammoth hydroelectric dam in Baram on hold. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, July 31, 2015.
Ethnic tribespeople in Baram who are against the construction of a mammoth RM4 billion hydroelectric dam were celebrating a “small victory” yesterday in their campaign to stop the dam.
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem had put on hold his decision on the dam to listen to their grouses first.
At the small dusty riverine town of Long Lama, some 100km from Miri where he had gone for the ceremony to drive the first pile for a bridge across the Baram River there, Adenan told the 500 or so opponents of the dam that for the talks to be conducted in a cordial environment, they must show some good faith first like lifting their blockade of the proposed dam site.
Adenan said he would show his by instructing the state power company, the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), to stop all work in the area until the final decision is made.
The tribespeople who believed they could be displaced by the dam had since 2013 erected make-shift log barricades across two roads that lead to the proposed site.
One was a few kilometres from Long Lama while the other was further into the interior near the Kayan settlement of Long Kesseh.
The dam if built could submerge 400 sq km of their rainforest and displace 20,000 tribespeople.
Adenan, who arrived in Long Lama by helicopter, was greeted by tribes people clad in turquoise T-shirts with the words “Stop the dam” emblazoned on them.
They had lined the road from the secondary school where the chief minister landed to the stage by the river holding banners with the words “Welcome the honourable CM of Sarawak. Please hear the plea of the people of Baram. No Baram dam”.
Those who had come from longhouses and settlements deep in Baram had put up the night at the Long Lama barricade site.
After the ceremony, they all piled into the steel-hulled express boats for the long trip home.
The chairman of the non-governmental organisation Save Sarawak Rivers who is spearheading the campaign against the dam, Peter Kallang, told The Malaysian Insider that Adenan had placed a moratorium on the dam to first listen to the people's views on the dam that was designed to generate 1,300 megawatts of electricity.
Kallang said he will weigh Adenan's offer seriously but he must first consult the tribespeople.
“I need to talk to them for their opinion and feedback. Then the next important thing I have to do is draw up our alternative proposal for the government to consider.
“We have actually proposed some alternatives but we need to show they are viable and could be implemented.”
Kallang, together with renewable energy researchers from the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) of the University of California in Berkeley and PKR Sarawak vice-chairman See Chee How, had an informal meeting with Adenan at his Santubong home at the end of last month to discuss alternatives to the mammoth dam.
See then said he believed there is now a “serious rethinking” of the policy to build large dams after Adenan had requested for the RAEL's case studies of the the state's proposed dam projects.
Last May, Adenan announced in Miri that the Baram dam would proceed after he met with community leaders, the majority of whom, he added, supported the dam.
He was widely criticised by opponents of the dam that the community leaders he had met were “not people who would be affected by the dam" nor were they leaders representing the affected people. – July 31, 2015.
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Clean up your act, Cameron tells Najib

8:57AM Jul 31, 2015
British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged his Malaysian counterpart Najib Abdul Razak to clean up his government, reported The Telegraph.

The UK daily’s headline on yesterday’s meeting between the two leaders in Putrajaya read, ‘David Cameron challenges Malaysian PM Najib Razak on corruption’.

According to the report, Cameron confronted Najib over the “deepening corruption scandal that threatens to bring down his government.”

The Telegraph added allegations of US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) of 1MDB-linked funds ending up in the personal bank accounts of Najib has overshadowed Cameron’s visit to build trade ties.

“During a long, one-to-one meeting, Cameron on Thursday urged Najib to clean up his government.

“In a pointed move, he then met with civil society leaders, including journalists, the G25 group of campaigners and lawyers, who are campaigning for greater democracy and a free press,” read the article.

Cameron reportedly also challenged Najib over the treatment of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is serving a five-year prison sentence.      

The daily also reported British prime minister’s national security adviser Kim Darroch meeting with Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah.

“They discussed building a free press and her father's treatment,” said The Telegraph.

According to the article, Cameron, who faced demands from some opposition figures to cancel the visit, said, “It is right to go ahead with the visit, but nothing should be off the table. We should talk about these issues including the specific ones now.”

“We always have discussions with civil society figures, anti-corruption campaigners, opposition leaders and all the rest and that will happen on this visit too.

“I don't think it helps not travelling to a country and turning away. It is better to go and talk about these things,” he added.

UK officials, according to The Telegraph, stressed the visit was to build relationships between peoples, not leaders.

Cameron repeats call

After the one-to-one meeting with Najib, the report said Cameron is understood to have repeated his message to a wider gathering of Malaysian government figures in front of the PM.

On July 3, Wall Street Journal quoted information from Malaysian investigators that RM2.6 billion was allegedly deposited into the premier’s personal bank accounts just ahead of the last general election, leading to speculation that the money was used for the campaign.

Najib responded to the report claiming he has never used public funds for personal gain, but has remained tightlipped on whether the allegation of the fund transfer was true.

On Wednesday, a video surfaced in which former deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin claimed that Najib had admitted the money had gone into his personal accounts.

Najib removed Muhyiddin from his cabinet on Tuesday, some 48 hours after the latter made a hard-hitting speech on the 1MDB imbroglio.
~ Malaysiakini

Cameron concerned about Anwar, says Azmin

9:21PM Jul 30, 2015
By Zikri Kamarulzaman
British Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed concern over the well-being of jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali told reporters that Cameron had relayed this and other concerns to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

"Cameron told me that he had raised certain issues with Najib during their meeting today.

"This includes concerns about Anwar, and Cameron said he must be given medical treatment, access to books, and fair treatment," he said.

He said Cameron did not divulge what his other concerns were.

Azmin (photo) was speaking to reporters after attending a British investment event at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre Symphony Park's Lake Suite tonight.

It was here that Cameron held a private meeting with Azmin.

"Actually I had a programme in Shah Alam tonight, but the (British) High Commissioner (Victoria Marguerite Treadell) conveyed the message that there is a need for a meeting with Cameron," the menteri besar said.

Civil society's concerns

Besides meeting Azmin, Cameron had also met with Bar Council President Steven Thiru, his predecessor Ambiga Sreenevasan, G25 spokesperson Noor Farida Ariffin, Sisters in Islam founding member Zainah Anwar, and writer Niki Cheong.

This meeting took place earlier in the day at the British High Commissioner's residence.

Met after the Lake Suite event, Ambiga (photo) and Zainah said besides talking about Anwar, the civil society representatives had also raised their concerns about 1MDB, the perceived lack of moderation, and other concerns.

Both Azmin and the civil society leaders wanted Cameron to extend his message of combating corruption to Malaysia.

"We welcomed his speech in Singapore about dirty money and eradicating corruption, and hoped he would pass the message to our prime minister," Ambiga said.

On Tuesday, in a speech in Singapore, the British prime minister warned that corrupt officials can no longer launder their money in London’s luxury property market as he announced a major review of ownership rules.

'Strong message to Najib'

Malaysia is Cameron's last stop in a four-day trade mission to four Southeast Asian nations.

Several groups had written to him telling him to call off his trip to Malaysia to protest against Najib and his administration's handling of political dissent and human rights.

Azmin claimed that Cameron's colleagues had relayed the same message.

"I expressed concern about his visit - that he should have cancelled it - and (Cameron) admitted these were also concerns of some of his friends in the UK.

"But I personally believe that the visit is also important to him, to send a strong message to Najib and Putrajaya that certain things need to be addressed," he said.
~ Malaysiakini

Thursday, July 30, 2015

PKR ready to accept new political parties, including GHB, says Azmin

Published: 29 July 2015 11:39 PM
Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali says there are no plans for a reshuffle of the state executive council following the crisis between PAS and DAP. – The Malaysian Insider pic, July 29, 2015.

Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali says there are no plans for a reshuffle of the state executive council following the crisis between PAS and DAP. – The Malaysian Insider pic, July 29, 2015.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is prepared to accept any group including Gerakan Harapan Baru (GHB), the PAS splinter group, to move together as a political party.

PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali said the party's stand on this showed its openness as long as such groups were committed to the reformation agenda which was the thrust of PKR's establishment.
"We can be together in a pact. It will continue to grow. Now we have three components (in Pakatan Rakyat) and the number may increase to five or six," he told reporters an at Aidilfitri open house organised by Invest Selangor in Shah Alam today.
Asked about reports that GHB was trying to decide whether to move through Parti Kesejahteraan Insan Tanah Air (Kita) or Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (Ikatan) as an alternative platform to PAS, Azmin said he did not know about this.
However, he said, if such a move existed, policy-wise, the parties involved must be committed to the principles upheld by Pakatan Rakyat, as had been agreed upon by PKR and DAP.
On another development, Azmin who is also Selangor menteri besar, denied the rumour that he would be reshuffling the state executive council line-up following the crisis between PAS and DAP. "No reshuffling," he added.
Recently, PAS spiritual leader Datuk Dr Haron Din said the party was prepared to sever ties with PKR if it agreed to join DAP and GHB in forming a new opposition pact. – Bernama, July 29, 2015.
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Cameron must press Putrajaya to stop crackdown on dissent, say groups

Published: 30 July 2015 9:08 AM
British Prime Minister David Cameron will be arriving today. – Reuters file pic, July 30, 2015.

British Prime Minister David Cameron will be arriving today. – Reuters file pic, July 30, 2015.
British Prime Minister David Cameron must press Putrajaya to immediately lift its censorship of independent media and end the ongoing crackdown on dissent, said an international human rights group.
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), together with its Malaysian affiliate Suaram, said Cameron must tell Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that such restrictions were unacceptable for a country that aspired to be democratic.
“Cameron must tell his Malaysian counterpart Najib that restrictions on freedom of information are unacceptable for a country that aspires to be rights-respecting democracy and an attractive destination for foreign investors,” said FIDH president Karim Lahidji.
Cameron is arriving in Kuala Lumpur for a one-day visit today as part of his Southeast Asia tour.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on July 19  blocked access to whistleblower site Sarawak Report which had published numerous reports detailing allegations of fraud, mismanagement, and misappropriation of funds on state owned investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Earlier this month, the WSJ and whistleblower website Sarawak Report made the revelation that up to US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) was allegedly transferred from state-owned funds to two bank accounts under Najib's name with AmBank in early 2013.
The prime minister, however, has denied ever taking any funds from 1MDB for "personal gain" but has not commented directly on the fund transfers. His accounts that allegedly received the funds have since been closed.
Following this, a task force was formed to investigate 1MDB as well as the WSJ's report that billions of ringgit was transferred from other companies linked to the fund to Najib's personal accounts.
After the block on Sarawak Report, The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily business publications were suspended for three months from Monday due to its intensive coverage of 1MDB, which the home ministry noted was “prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion.”
Both groups also noted that the authorities "targeted" individuals who were critical of 1MDB, with DAP's Petaling Jaya Utara federal lawmaker Tony Pua barred by the Immigration Department from leaving Malaysia on July 22.
Police also said they were investigating Pua, PKR's Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli and The Edge Media Group owner Datuk Tong Kooi Ong under Article 124 of the Penal Code for activities deemed "detrimental to parliamentary democracy.”
“Media coverage and individual opinions about the 1MDB affair have served as a major irritant with Najib’s administration. If the government has nothing to hide, it should promote transparency instead of launching relentless attacks on the Malaysian people’s right to be informed about this important issue,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy. – July 30, 2015.
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'Almost certain' debris is from MH370 model

11:19AM Jul 30, 2015
MH370 More than 16 months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 mysteriously vanished, a possible breakthrough as emerged.

This is after an aircraft part was washed up on Reunion Island, a French overseas territory off the coast of Madagascar and 175km from the Mauritius islands.

It is too soon to determine whether the discovery is indeed from the ill-fated aircraft with 239 people on board.

The find is on the opposite end of where the search operation is still going on in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia.

However, it does not necessarily mean that the search operation is in the wrong region as the debris would have been washed apart over a period of more than a year.

Malaysiakini compiles the latest developments here as the situation unfolds.

3.01PM: Malaysia's Deputy Transport Minister Abdul Aziz Kaprawi says it is "almost certain" the debris washed up at Reunion Island was from a Boeing 777, the same model as missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
"It is almost certain that the flaperon is from a Boeing 777 aircraft. Our chief investigator here told me this," Australia's ABC News quotes Aziz as saying.
However, Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss warned that the discovery on Reunion Island would not be very helpful in finding the main wreckage, as it had been washed apart over 16 months.
"This wreckage has been in the water. If it is from MH370, for well over a year, so it could have moved so far that it's not going to be that helpful in pinpointing precisely where the aircraft is," Truss is quoted as saying by ABC News.
However, Truss says, it was also an indication that the search area was "roughly" in the right place.

1.30PM: The discovery of debris on Reunion Island is consistent with ocean current models according to oceanographic experts.

Reuters reports that a huge, counter-clockwise current, called a gyre, covers much of the southern part of the 70.5 million sq km Indian Ocean, running east along the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, up the west Australian coast and westward below the equator towards Reunion and Madagascar, before turning south.

"Our model results that we did last year predicted that within 18-24 months after the crash, it was a possibility that it would have ended up within that region," said Charitha Pattiaratchi, Professor of Coastal Oceanography at the University of Western Australia.

The point of origin "will definitely be in the Southern Hemisphere, it would be to the east, it would cover definitely the area of the physical search at the moment", he added.

Pattiaratchi's modelling shows debris could drift as far west as Madagascar within two years but also as far east as Tasmania or beyond.

Dave Gallo, who co-led the search for Air France Flight 447 that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, however warned that retracing the debris' drift through sea-current models could lead investigators astray.

12.15pm: The next-of-kin of several MH370 victims have greeted the news of the aircraft part’s discovery with mixed feelings, according to media reports.

"Initially it was happiness then sadness […] Now it's just up and down all the time, I don't know,” said Kaylene Mann who lost her brother and sister-in-law on the plane.

Fairfax Media quoted the Australian national saying that until the piece found is proven to be linked to MH370, she does not know what to make of the find.

Meanwhile, quoted Danica Weeks complaining that there had been too many ‘red herrings’ in the search for MH370.

“I've called the Australian authorities and, look, I'm just not ready to comment on anything yet. It's just too early to call. Until we know; there's been so many red herrings, the pings, the oil [slick], the debris on the west coast, [there's] just been so many that I'm not willing to speak about it until we know for sure that it's actually from the plane.

“I could say everything ... it could be that, it could be this, that's what it's always been, so I just want to wait and see if it is a piece of a plane,” she reportedly said.

She added that she has been in contact with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, and said the bureau is hoping that it could confirm or deny the aircraft part’s link to MH370 in 24 hours.

As for Sarah Bajc whose boyfriend Philip Wood was on the plane, she apparently shares Weeks’ scepticism in the find and said she is still angry with Malaysia’s handling of the crisis.

“I am still very angry at the country for their lack of efforts to hold anyone responsible for this […] They have failed the world,” the US broadcaster NBC quoted her as saying.

Bajc, Weeks, and Mann also stressed that if the find turns out to be an MH370 part, the task of finding the rest of the aircraft and uncovering what happened still remains.

"It is important to know where the plane is and retrieve the black boxes and why it happened and to make sure it never happens again, ever to anybody.

"The relatives of all the passengers on that plane have gone through 16 months of agony and pain and they shouldn't have to,” Mann said.

11.00am: Going by photographic evidence, analysts are split on whether the wing belongs to Flight MH370.

According to Canberra Times, US investigators believe the object to be from a Boeing 777, based on photographic and video evidence.

"The investigators noted that no other Boeing 777 was known to be missing, suggesting that the piece was part of the missing aircraft," says the report.

However, French aviation security expert and criminologist Christophe Naudin thinks that the object is too small to be from Flight MH370.

“I am unable to say what type of plane that this may correspond to. But it could be a light twin-engine. I would not be surprised,”  Reunion-based news agency L'info a La Reunion quotes Naudin as saying.

He adds it could be from a small Piper plane crash in 2006.

7.45am: Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai announces that a team has been despatched to Reunion Island to ascertain whether the debris belonged to Flight MH370.

"I have sent a team to verify the wreckage... we hope that it can identify (the wreckage) as soon as possible," Reuters quotes Liow as saying after attending a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York.

2.30am: First reports emerge that aircraft debris have washed up on Reunion Island, sparking speculation that it may be linked to Flight MH370.

According to French news agency DPA, the object washed ashore was a two-metre-long piece of wing.

It was reportedly discovered near Saint-Andre, on the eastern side of the island.
~ Malaysiakini

A PM tottering on his last legs

7:12AM Jul 30, 2015
By Yoursay
YOURSAY ‘So before taking the plunge, do what is right for Malaysia.’

PM: New cabinet will boost public confidence

FellowMalaysian: After recovering from the jolts PM Najib Razak's reshuffled cabinet has caused, it has now become all too clear why he was left with little choice but to remove Muhyiddin Yassin.

Najib was 'tottering on his last legs', to borrow words from an opposition leader and sacking his own deputy who toiled with him the past seven years was the last straw.

Najib's kamikaze move was driven out of desperation hoping to keep silent any traces of dissonance within Umno and when his right-hand lieutenants seem to be the instigators, they need to be removed.

Beneath that wry smile and a smug face, Najib has played his last card - it’s a desperate attempt to keep himself afloat by surrounding himself with lackeys and yes-men.

In so doing, he is buying himself some time before the tide rises and engulfs the last of the leader who is better known for the controversies surrounding him than any good which he has done.

Anonymous_1421806811: Najib, everyone except your cabinet knows the only reason you are doing this is because you have everything to hide about 1MDB, which can potentially give you a permanent home in Sungai Buloh.

You have been making one mistake after another in this 1MDB saga. The biggest strategic mistake is to sack your DPM. You have a cabinet made up of people with questionable intelligence that are apple polishers without the interest of the nation in their hearts.

You really think the rakyat have confidence in your cabinet? Thank you for splitting Umno again. Thank you for fulfilling the Rahman prophecy. Thank you for making Umno redundant and irrelevant.

Gerard Lourdesamy: This is a cabinet of yes-men and all collectively responsible for the biggest conspiracy to pervert the course of justice the country has ever seen since 1957.

The whole affair smacks of a cover-up in order to extricate the prime minister, his wife and crony associates from the 1MDB scandal. The rakyat have no reason to trust, let alone have confidence, in the new cabinet line-up.

Najib has effectively dug his own grave and soon he and his wife will face the same fate like Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos of the Philippines.

Anonymous 122461436161429: This new cabinet has not salvaged nor improved public confidence one bit. In fact, the elephant in the room which caused, and is responsible for, 1MDB has now become even bigger.

If the public can't see this elephant and the damage it has caused to Malaysia, to its people and to its international standing, they deserve it. I see the damage and I don't deserve the elephant.

Vijay47: I am sure that Malaysians would not dispute Najib's observation that a new cabinet line-up would inspire public confidence.                                                   

That is, a new cabinet with Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister, Lim Kit Siang and Gobind Singh Deo as deputies, Tony Pua as finance minister, and Rafizi Ramli coming in as home affairs minister.

That would be warmly welcomed by all and send quite a chilly wind up the spine of many.

Not Confused: The PM is so deluded that I am speechless with a mixture of disbelief and rage.

To pick Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the most hated bully-boy in the country, as DPM is the most misguided decision that this lame PM could have possibly made.

Magnus: Yes, I agree with Najib that it is important to have a unified team so you can move in the same direction together.

But that principle only applies so long as all team members are mutually respected and not expected to shut up, put up with and show loyalty to crooks within or leading that team.

Lone_star: Indeed, if the PM thinks his latest moves will boost public confidence in the new BN government, he must be either hearing or visually impaired.

Immediate responses to his moves are obviously negative. For those who will join his new government, beware, the PM will be holding them "collectively responsible" if the 1MDB and AmBank probes end disastrously.

So before taking the plunge, do what is right for Malaysia.

Kalvin Rekhraj: Removing the people who question you and are in disagreement with your plans is not the right way how to deal with public perception.

Speak the truth and answer the questions the citizens ask would have been the best. Instead in reshuffling the cabinet, it proves that dissenters are not welcome and it's only your way or the highway for Najib.

Ozzie Jo: How can this boost public confidence? As someone so aptly put it, the second worst DPM in the history of Malaysia has just been replaced with the worst DPM.

No wonder even the Malays are leaving the country...

Negarawan: Najib has the perpetual habit of putting words into the rakyat’s mouth.

Perhaps the situation now has already crossed the pain threshold of the rakyat, and it is high time for the rakyat to not tell but show Najib what they think of him.

'Coup' meant to cripple probe on 1MDB

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~ Malaysiakini