Wednesday, February 25, 2009

D8 Summit on food security kicks off in Kuala Lumpur


Wed, 25 Feb 2009 08:52:02
Mahi Ramakrishnan, Press TV, Kuala Lumpur

New CIA director pledges to fix spy agency's tarnished image

     Fri, 20 Feb 2009 02:33:34
Mike Kellerman, Press TV, Washington

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

April 7 By-Elections 1: Change Now or Abdul Aziz Should Resign! | 23 February,2009

According to mission of the Election Commission (EC) of Malaysia, the EC strives to ensure that the citizens of Malaysia are given the opportunity to participate in the election of their representatives in the formation of the Government and to safeguard this right through free and fair elections.

However, what we have seen so far is a totally different scenario as to how the team chaired by Tan Sri Abdul Aziz bin Mohd Yusof has failed to effectively execute its mission.

Let me elaborate why.

Firstly, Abdul Aziz said the Commission decided to hold the by-elections for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat and Bukit Selambau state seat simultaneously to keep the campaign period shorter. He said the dates were chosen taking into account the comfort and convenience of all involved, as a shorter campaign period would be less hectic for party leaders and help towards maintaining public order and security.

If the EC was indeed looking for a less hectic campaign period for the party leaders, shouldn’t the by-elections be held as soon as probably 30 days after the state and parliament seats become vacant? Isn’t that the longer the by-elections are on hold, the longer the states’ political stability is jeopardized, hence the more discomfort and inconvenience such political instability brings to the daily functions of the citizens, and even to the economics of the states?

Also, Abdul Aziz is yet to explain to the public how the EC drew the conclusion of placing the polling day on Tuesday as a comfort and convenient solution for the voters involved, especially for those who work out-of-states.

How in the world would taking a trip, say 3-4 hours from KL to Perak or Kedah, considering the voters could successfully obtain a leave in this economy crisis, be of any comfort and convenience to them, whom Abdul Aziz addressed in the EC website as the number one clients of the EC? Consequently it’s not unreasonable for the wide speculation that the decision of the EC was merely for the comfort and convenience of BN. Or was there a hidden message that such decision was made for the comfort and convenience of the EC also, due to the rising pressure from the “invisible control board” behind the Commission?

During the interview, Abdul Aziz said the Commission pushed the nomination date to almost the end of March as it thought this would allow the current political situation in Perak to cool off.

Why do we need to wait for the Perak politics to cool off prior to the by-elections? The purpose of the by-elections is to elect the representatives supported by majority of the citizens. To ensure the right candidates to be elected, shouldn’t the voters be allowed to cast their votes as early as the arisen of the dissatisfaction?

I am sure Abdul Aziz was well aware that setting April 7 as the polling date would definitely be controversial especially due to the dissatisfaction of the opposition parties and the voters who live far away from the polling stations. However the insistency of doing so by Abdul Aziz has made him the culprit of the deterioration of EC’s image. It should not be surprised of hearing someone calling the EC as a cow following the orders of BN or actually UMNO.

First off, the date of January’s KT by-election being one week apart from Chinese New Year had triggered the criticism from the public on the EC’s inconsideration of the voters who most likely won’t return KT on the polling day due to the coming public holidays. Sadly, once again we experienced the failure of the EC to consider the hardship of the voters for the incoming by-elections. It is absolutely an unfair treatment to the opposition parties whom deemed to have major supporters from the city areas. How would Abdul Aziz align the two date choices with the EC’s mission statement of giving the voters the opportunities to participate in a free and fair election?

In appointing the members of the EC, it’s specified that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong “shall have regard to the importance of securing an Election Commission which enjoys public confidence”. It cannot be more apparent that the EC has lost its public confidence as an independent authority to safeguard a parliamentary democracy.

Another function of the EC is to undertake the registration of electors and the revision of the electoral roll throughout the year. However, Abdul Aziz said the Commission had decided that the master electoral roll for 2007, combined with the list of new voters registered until the first quarter of 2008, would be used for both constituencies.

How could he assume the electoral roll as of the first quarter of 2008 being the latest electoral roll that can fairly represent the electors of the electorates? Could there not be anyone who is qualified to vote from that quarter onwards? How about those who passed away after their registration in Feb 2008? The action of keeping that no-so-updated electoral roll is deemed as a seizure of the qualified voters’ civic right of electing their representatives of choice. Also, that list eventually is again another way for phantom voters to turn out on the polling day to vote for the death ones.

To restore the reputation of the EC and to ensure fair, free, and clean by-elections in April, I urge the opposition leaders to appeal to Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or at least to debate in the upcoming parliament meetings, on the following agenda:

  1. To allow postal votes for all voters who find difficulty of returning to their hometowns to vote on April 7;
  2. To challenge the refusal of the EC to vacant the state seats of Changkat Jering, Behrang, and Jelapang for the by-elections;
  3. To update the electoral roll to provide the opportunities to the qualified ones to participate in the by-elections;
  4. To expand the postal votes to the qualified Malaysian voters who work overseas however not fall into the categories of armed forces, Police Field Force, election officials on duty, government officers serving overseas, students studying overseas, and spouses.
  5. To order Abdul Aziz to step down from his position should he fail to explain how the decision regarding both nomination and polling days was taken with consideration of the interest of ALL parties involved.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Will there be improvement and reforms?

By Leslie Lau | Consultant Editor | malaysianinsider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 – Datuk Johan Jaafar, the ex-editor-in-chief of Utusan Malaysia who was once identified as being close to former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, has been designated as the new media czar for the in-coming administration of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Johan will be appointed a director of The New Straits Times Press Berhad (NSTP) and chairman of Media Prima Berhad.

Johan is expected to be appointed an executive director in NSTP, the publisher of the New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Harian Metro.

He will take over from Datuk Abdul Mutalib Mohamed Razak as chairman of Media Prima, which operates all of Malaysia’s private terresterial television stations – TV3, 8TV, TV9 and NTV7 – as well as two radion stations – Hot FM and Fly FM. The group also owns outdoor advertising giants Big Tree and UPD.

Johan is expected to set the tone for the Najib administration at NSTP and Media Prima.

Umno has traditionally exerted a strong influence in the direction of both companies, which are closely linked with the party’s corporate interests.

Johan’s appointments mark the first time a former head of Utusan Malaysia, which is owned by Umno, has been tapped to helm NSTP and Media Prima.

Johan is also a well-known figure in the local Malay literary and cultural scene.

He started his career in Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) before he was appointed editor-in-chief of Utusan Malaysia is 1992. He was also subsequently appointed a director.

Johan was seen as an outsider in Utusan while he was there, and the newspaper was criticised then by right-wing conservatives in Umno as being too high-brow and elitist.

In 1998, he resigned from the Malay media group a few months before Anwar was subsequently sacked as deputy prime minister by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Before his tenure in Utusan, Johan had been a rising star in DBP and helmed the agency’s magazine division.

He was also one of the few truly bi-lingual figures in DBP, being equally adept in Malay and English.

In the last few years, he has been writing a regular column in the New Straits Times where he has been known to expound moderate views on language, race and religion.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

China to decide on raising women's retirement age to 60

Fri, 13 Feb 2009 12:44:54

Jenny Hammond, Press TV, Shanghai

Is this Zimbabwe's Unity Government all about?

Mugabe set to party while Zimbabwe starves
Wed, 11 Feb 2009 00:29:12 GMT | PressTV
Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe

While millions starve in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe's party is preparing an opulent birthday party for him.

The Times of London reported on Tuesday that the supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party have been out soliciting "donations" from corporate Zimbabwe and have drawn up a wish list.

Meanwhile, seven million citizens survive on international food aid, 94% are jobless, and cholera is spreading throughout a population debilitated by hunger.

The wish list includes 2,000 bottles of champagne; 8,000 lobsters; 100kg of prawns; 4,000 portions of caviar; 8,000 boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates; 3,000 ducks; and much else besides.

Those who prefer to give in cash, not kind, are invited to send "donations" of between $45,000 and $55,000 to a US dollar bank account in the name of the 21st February Movement, a youth organization named after the date of the president's birthday.

Zimbabwean children
Western diplomats and aid workers were shocked when shown the list. "It's just appalling. It's like they are either completely oblivious to what's happening in their country, or completely impervious and just don't care," said one.

Others said it showed that Mugabe had no intention of curtailing his excesses, even after agreeing to enter a unity government with the Movement for Democratic Change later this week.

A reliable source, who was contacted by the newspaper, revealed the list but had no interest in its publication, was hesitant about releasing it, and had himself received it from three or four separate businesses that had been approached for donations.

The organizer of the the 85th birthday celebration is Patrick Zhuwawo, Mugabe's nephew. "It's an important day for Zimbabweans to celebrate the life of our great leader and Africa's hero," he said.

"Zanu (PF) continues to receive massive donations from the corporate world, ordinary Zimbabweans, and from people from all walks of life, and we are confident that this year's celebrations will be the best."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

IAEA chief calls for total disarmament

Wed, 04 Feb 2009 03:10:46 GMT | PressTV

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency has called on the United States and Russia to cut their nuclear arsenals and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons.

"I am greatly encouraged that President Obama has made a firm commitment to making the elimination of all nuclear weapons a central tenet of his policies," Mohamed ElBaradei said.

ElBaradei, in a commentary to appear in Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily on Wednesday, said that there is a need for the international community to be built "on the new momentum" and for major political, diplomatic, and technical changes to be made.

He also called for reviving the Russia-US disarmament negotiations to reduce the number of nuclear warheads worldwide from the current 27,000 to between 500 and 1,000.

"Nuclear fuel production and supply should be run multilaterally," Reuters quoted ElBaradei as saying.

He also called for structural reform in the UN Security Council "so the world can rely on it as the primary body for maintaining international peace and security."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Italians Protest US Base: Report

31/01/2009 | Al Manar

Around 200 people occupied an airport in northern Italy Saturday to protest the planned enlargement of a US military base in the region, according to a television report.

Protestors cut through a fence and took over a field at Vicenza airport that is set to be used as an extension to the American base, where 2,750 soldiers are currently stationed, Italian Sky TG 24 reported.

They carried pickets with "Vicenza, city of peace" and "You destroy, we build peace" as they demonstrated against the 500-million-dollar (640-million-euro) project to double the base and house another 1,800 soldiers.

Local authorities are in favor of the extension of the base, which currently employs 1,200 Italians, but left-wing and Green parties are opposed and regularly stage demonstrations against it.

An administrative court in Veneto in November overturned a previous decision to halt the project.

Thirty Years

Sat, 31 Jan 2009 23:05:59 GMT T
By Kian Mokhtari

On this day in 1979 a massive tectonic shift in Iran’s social and political affairs began to occur. The giant of the region, asleep for more than 150 years, awoke to find that during its long absence complacency and negligence had blighted and warped the contours of the ancient land's identity.

Those old enough to remember the former monarchy in Iran and the society formed around its tastes and decadence, also recall that all was essentially far from well.

There was a first world mirage superimposed on the true visage of a developing country. It was almost as if a fresh coat of paint had been applied to all facets of life within a society whose fabric had long withered away.

The seemingly mighty Imperial armed force of Iran, having been almost entirely equipped by the West was unable to function without western expertise and military advisors.

There were industries of sorts, whose output consisted of the assembly under license of second grade western goods for the domestic market.

The imperial court of Iran functioned hinged on foreign interference, flattery, corruption, intrigue, jealousy and rumors. And the absolute monarch lacked the strength of character to be able to exercise any kind of control over his court, let alone the affairs of the state.

The disjointed and awkward circus was held together by a brutal secret police whose appointed leaders’ allegiance was to the US and the West.

Declassified American documents on Iran show that by 1979 the former shah’s main backer had acknowledged the status quo could not be maintained. But gripped by the fear of a Soviet invasion of Iran following a popular uprising against the monarchy, Washington kept supplying arms and providing assistance to the tottering monarch.

Yet a macabre semblance of normality was maintained in which people went about everyday life like sleepwalkers near the edge of a cliff. The artificiality of day-to-day existence in Iran amazed all those who visited the country from abroad and countless foreign journalists noted the contrast between Iran’s international media image and actual reality.

Even the Iranian manufactured boxes of tissue paper arranged carefully on fashionable Tehran restaurants’ tables did not function as they should have –although they looked every bit the part. If you tried to pull one tissue out to dry your hands one of two eventualities took place: either the tissue got jammed and ripped apart in your hand, or five pieces of tissue came out at a tug!!

In a sense pre-Islamic Revolution Iran can be likened to its domestically produced boxes of tissues. On the surface all was good and well until you had to delve into it in some way; and then the can of worms would come alive.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is not about bravado and image. Its leaders do not have their suits tailored in London’s fashionable Savile Row. Iran is not about pomp and ceremony of a fake imperial court with no imperial power.

Iran is about what you see today, it is a nation throbbing with capable and educated youth trying to make their way in the world. What you see on Iranian cities’ streets is what you get. And to some that in itself is the greatest achievement of the revolution.

The Islamic Revolution has managed to put Iran’s soul back into its body. And Iran is doing just fine living in its own skin.

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