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Saturday, July 5, 2008

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Umno Youth to expose Anwar’s treachery
KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 ─ Umno Youth yesterday described the retraction of the statutory declaration (SD) made by private investigator P. Balasubramaniam as another big lie from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Its chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said Anwar was willing to do anything without regard for the well-being of the country and the harmony of the people to save his neck.
"Beginning with receiving death threats to his safety, followed by garnering the support of a foreign power and now making false allegations against Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, Umno Youth will not keep quiet but will continue to expose Anwar's treachery," Hishammuddin said in a statement.
He said the Umno Youth machinery would be activated to expose Anwar, who was trying to divert public attention from the sodomy allegation made against him.
Balasubramaniam, who was featured in the Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case after being hired as a PI by political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda prior to her murder, yesterday retracted the statutory declaration, which he made the previous day. Abdul Razak has been charged with abetment over the murder of the woman.
Balasubramaniam revealed in the second SD that he wished to retract the entire contents of his first SD made on July 1, claiming the first was made under duress.
The second SD read that all statements made in the first were inaccurate and not the truth.
In KOTA BARU, PAS hit out at Washington for issuing a warning to Malaysia over the sodomy allegations against Anwar and regarded it as meddling in the internal affairs of the country.
Speaking to reporters after chairing the Kelantan PAS liaison committee meeting, its spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said as the United States was involved in wars in certain countries where its soldiers had killed innocent women and children, it was not fit to advise this country.
He was commenting on the warning issued by the US State Department spokesman Tom Casey to Malaysia to keep politics and the legal system separate, saying that "we (US) will certainly oppose any use of law enforcement or judicial procedures for anything other than legitimate purposes of the law." ─ Bernama



Turmoil makes it hard for Najib to challenge PM

Temporary reprieve for Abdullah.KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 ─ The high-stakes political poker waged by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has bought embattled Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi some wiggle room.
But the temporary reprieve for Abdullah in his struggle to cling to power is not doing any good to this multiracial Southeast Asian nation now staring at one of its worst political and economic crises in decades.
The tensions, which have pushed Malaysia into unknown political terrain, are hurting the country's image as a global model of a functioning Islamic democracy, analysts say.It is also shaking the country's economic fundamentals, which are being rocked by the knock-on effects of higher fuel prices and sharp spikes in the cost of living.
Private economists fear that unless Abdullah displays decisive leadership soon, the country's economy, which relies heavily on foreign investment, could suffer irreparable damage.
“The Malaysian system is very top-down, and the government has a huge say in the economy. That is why any leadership crisis will have an outsized effect on the economy and business,” said Manu Bhaskaran, a regional strategist and partner with US-based Centennial in Singapore.The crisis has already taken a toll on the country's stock market. The benchmark composite index closed yesterday at 1,134.14 points, its lowest level in 15 months, due to heavy selling by locals and foreigners.
“The sentiment among foreigners has reached a new low this week, and they are getting out,” said a head of research at a European stockbroking firm in Kuala Lumpur.
The electoral setbacks suffered by the Barisan Nasional coalition under the onlslaught of Anwar's opposition alliance in the March general election significantly weakened Abdullah's grip on power and prompted calls from within his own Umno that he should hand over power to Najib sooner rather than later.
Until about a month ago, there were murmurings in Umno that Najib had secured enough support from the party's roughly 200 divisions to force Abdullah to relinquish the presidency and the premiership that comes with it, before the party's internal elections in December.
But the Najib political juggernaut has hit bumps in recent weeks, largely because of the recurring allegation that the Deputy Premier and people close to him were in some way involved in the murder of a Mongolian woman.
Abdul Razak Baginda, a former political adviser to the Deputy Premier, is being charged with two commando specialists previously assigned to Najib's security detail for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu in October 2006.
Two weeks ago, the Najib camp was seriously singed when a prominent Malaysian blogger alleged that Najib's wife and two military personnel were at the scene of the crime before the victim's body was blown up with explosives.
The allegations, which were denied vehemently, were followed by claims onThursday by a private investigator engaged by Abdul Razak of a government cover-up over the murder and that Najib knew the victim well.
Hardly 24 hours after making those claims, the private investigator retracted the allegations. Supporters of Najib are insisting that the attempts to sully the Deputy Premier's character are part of a plot by Anwar to divert attention away from a police investigation into allegations that he sodomised one of his personal assistants.
Anwar is accusing Najib of also resorting to diversionary tactics. He says that the sodomy allegations are aimed at preventing his coalition from wresting power and that the surprising retraction by the private investigator only reinforced a pattern of abuse in the criminal justice system.
Abdullah's hesitation in stepping in decisively to deal with the Najib-Anwar face-off is now prompting speculation that the Premier is craftily taking advantage of the crisis to take the wind out of his deputy's political sails.
But several analysts say this triangle also illustrates the moribund nature of Malaysia's political leadership.
“In a sense, the country is leaderless because the person in charge cannot impose his will,” said Khoo Boo Teik, who teaches politics at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.
“Those who are being led are not strong enough to remove him.” ─ Singapore ST


Another bid to derail Anwar’s political career
MANILA, July 5 — Power tends to corrupt, and in the Philippines as in other countries it tends to corrupt especially when it comes under threat. Consider the unfortunate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The once and future rising star of Malaysian politics, Anwar is now facing, for the second time in 10 years, politically motivated charges of sodomy — a crime in Malaysia, punishable by as much as 20 years in prison. This is the same charge which sent Anwar, once Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's deputy prime minister and now the leader of the opposition to Dr Mahathir's chosen successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to jail on a nine-year term.
It has been hurled yet again at Anwar for only one reason: to derail his political career. The first case effectively shut him out of politics in the last years of Dr Mahathir's increasingly autocratic rule; it is obvious that the second case is meant to sideline him from politics again, at a time of increased vulnerability for Abdullah.
Contrary to the ruling coalition's fondest hopes, Anwar recovered from the ignominy of a sodomy conviction and assumed the leadership of a revitalised opposition. Last March, the opposition coalition rattled the political foundations of Malaysia, winning five of 13 state governments and almost capturing control of Parliament.
The opposition's victories come at a time of great stress for the governing Barisan Nasional coalition and the dominant Umno party; they are weighed down by Abdullah's unpopularity (a member of the ruling coalition had even proposed a vote of no confidence in Parliament), a sensational murder case into which the name of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been dragged, even the investigation of Dr Mahathir on the matter of judicial appointments. Taken together with the stunning results of the March general election, the ruling coalition is in the worst shape it's ever been in since the country was founded in 1957.
Enter the new sodomy charge. Anwar calls it “frivolous and nonsensical,” and lays the blame at Najib's door. It may be frivolous, but we've seen what the Malaysian authorities have done with frivolous charges before. The police say it will investigate the charge — but this is the same police who fabricated the first charge and beat Anwar when he was in jail. We will not await the results of their investigation with bated breath.
The international community sees through this charade, and we hope the majority of Malaysians do too. The filing of the new charge is a corruption, a deliberate abuse, of the justice system — unfortunately an official crime we are all too familiar with here in the Philippines.
Indeed, it is our sorry experience with the politicisation of the administration of justice under Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno that allows us to recognise, with a dawning sense of horror, exactly what is happening to the leader of the Malaysian opposition. The authorities, unnerved by the prospect of a change in power, have Anwar in their sights.
Anwar is a friend of the Philippines, an avid student of Rizal and an articulate voice of moderate Islam. Like Ninoy Aquino, he has been given the opportunity to suffer for his political convictions. His years in jail, too, included subtle and overt forms of abuse. (He had to wear a neck brace once, because of a beating he endured in prison.) In other words, he is that unusual Asean politician: a martyr, and thus someone whom Filipinos can readily relate to. We also believe he will continue Malaysia's policy of strongly supporting the peace process that seeks to find a resolution to the Moro secessionist struggle.
But regardless of whether he will become prime minister or not, he does not deserve the indignity of another trumped-up charge. Indeed, Malaysia itself deserves better. — Philippine Daily Inquirer

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