Monday, June 30, 2008

Mega Sale: 50% Off Traffic Summonses!

OK, listen up people. The best news I have heard since the fuel price hike and the subsequent road tax rebate! (I haven't got my rebate!)

The Malaysian Government announced Monday that effective tomorrow (July 1), compound fines for traffic summonses, except for those for serious offences, would be halved!

Federal police traffic chief SAC II Datuk Hamza Taib said the move was to ease the burden on the lower-income group after the recent price rise in petroleum and food items.

The 50% discount is applicable for those who receive the summons letters on the spot and pay them before or on the last day of the 30-day deadline.

"Offenders who have yet to pay their summons and have not received letters summoning them to court are eligible for a 30% discount. Those who have received the court summons are not eligible for any discount," he told reporters at the Traffic Police Headquarters, Bukit Aman.

Traffic offenders receiving their summons via the post are eligible for a 30% discount regardless of when it was issued.

He said the discount offer was ongoing and no deadline had been set.

Asked if the discounts would encourage motorists to flout traffic laws, he said police were confident the kind gesture would spur them to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them.

"Even before this, the rich might not think much of paying a RM300 fine. Our focus is to try and ease the burden on the lower and middle class group," he said.

He said those issued summonses during Ops Sikap, for beating the red light, for accidents as well as those issued arrest warrant summonses were not eligible for a discount.

The public can pay their summons via the Internet at www.myeg.com.my and www.relik.com.my via credit card or debit card. Portal users are urged to print a receipt of payment and keep it for future reference.

Cash payment is accepted at all police headquarters and district police stations and counters at selected shopping malls.

Thank God! In this age of rising cost of living and travel, discounts and rebates are most welcomed. And tomorrow, July 1, is therefore certainly a day to be remembered.First, the discount on traffic summonses. Second, I will be eligible for the road tax rebate, finally!

Yahoo! Aramaitii!

(Source: The Star, Malaysia)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

MCA Shocker

The above, which is the front page headline today, (East Malaysian edition) of The Star, Malaysia's leading English tabloid daily, speaks for itself. (Click on image for a larger view.)

Yes, as they say, variety is the spice of life and surprises are part and parcel of politics. After all, it is said that in politics anything is possible and wouldn't politics be dull without surprises?

Thus, it was not a total surprise altogether when Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Ong Ka Ting announced yesterday that he would NOT be seeking re-election during the party polls in October; although the timing was unexpected.

MCA is one of the 14 component parties of Malaysia's ruling National Front (BN) coalition. It is the 2nd biggest BN component (in terms of number of elected representatives and membership) after the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO). It is also the largest Chinese-based party within the coalition.

Ong's shock announcement came within days after a 3-man panel formed by MCA cleared him of any link to an alleged existence of a 'Snoop Squad' to spy on his enemies and possible challengers. Among the so-called 'victims' of the Squad was supposed to be former Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek who resigned after a secretly-taped video of him making love with his girl friend was circulated.

Ong's bombshell also came only weeks after the BN had a comparatively poor showing in the March 8 election whereby it lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament; only the 2nd time in Malaysia's history. For the first time in the 50-year history of the nation, BN also lost control of 5 state governments out of 13. It was also one of the worst outings for MCA.

Despite being elected as an MP himself, Ong opted to stay out of the Cabinet to take responsibility for the party's poor showing. His Cabinet post as Housing and Local Government Minister was taken over by his elder brother, Ong Ka Chuan, a first in the political history of Malaysia.

Ka Ting's announcement immediately sparked speculations that his brother would also succeed him as party president, or at least take the No.2 spot since Deputy President Chan Kong Choy is also unlikely to contest. Chan, who is believed to have health problems, did not seek re-election as an MP on March 8. Therefore, his announcement yesterday that he too might not contest any party post did not come as a surprise.

However, Ka Chuan made it clear today that he was not interested in either of the top two posts and was contended where he is, playing the role of a 'coordinator'. With Ka Chuan's statement, attention is now focused on the next senior party leaders.

The favourites to fill the top two upcoming vacancies are MCA vice-president Ong Tee Keat and Youth leader Liow Tiong Lai. Both are Ministers in the Malaysian Cabinet. The other MCA Minister, Dr Ng Yen Yen, is leader of the party's Women's Wing which makes her (just like Liow) an automatic vice-president of the party. No woman had held the top 2 posts in the history of MCA but then again, as they say, in politics anything is possible.

Ka Ting and Kong Choy would be the shortest-serving MCA President and Deputy President team, having taken over from the Dr Ling Liong Sik-Lim Ah Lek team only in 2003. Ling and Lim, who had been at logger heads for sometime, stepped down together in a formula to resolve the stalemate. Ka Ting and Kong Choy are each said to be aligned to Ling and Lim respectively, therefore making it a win-win situation.

Prior to this latest development, two former MCA vice-presidents were said to be planning a political comeback by contesting the top two posts, although it was not known whether the duo had a pact or who to go for which posts. The duo, Dr Chua Soi Lek and Chua Chui Ming were both former Health Ministers and both from the State of Johore. Dr Chua replaced lawyer Chua as a Cabinet member after the 2004 election. If Chui Ming goes for the presidency, it would be his 2nd attempt. He failed in his first attempt against Ka Ting.

In making the announcement yesterday, Ka Ting had said: "It has been my political approach that a leader should not hold on to one's position for too long." For the record, it was during Ka Ting's presidency that MCA introduced a time-limit for party leaders holding positions as Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

"Thus, his statement yesterday was consistent with his stand all along. He was the first MCA president to limit his own tenure of office, which is 3-term or 9 years. He could have also been in the Cabinet after March 8 had he been greedy or irresponsible," an analyst pointed out.

This evening, a high-powered team comprising MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers met Ka Ting, hoping to get him to change his mind. At the time of my writing, there was no sign of him changing his mind.

Based on what he told the RTM 2 (Chinese TV news) team who 'ambushed' him while he and his wife were jogging near his house this morning, it is unlikely that he would change his mind. He reiterated his stand that one should not hold on to a post for too long and should give younger leaders a chance.

All eyes, then, would be on the October party polls. Would the two Chuas manage to make a comeback? Or would the young and energetic team of Tee Keat-Tiong Lai take over? Let's wait and see. Having Chinese blood, I am as eager as you, if you are a Chinese.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Book on Kadayans of Borneo launched

A book about the Kadayan people, whom the author described as part of "the Mystic of Borneo", was launched by Sabah's Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun (centre, pix above) in Kota Kinabalu Thursday. The book was written by university lecturer and newspaper columnist Amde Sidik (right). Also present was Tengku Datuk Zainal Adlin, president of the Sabah Society in whose premises the launching ceremony was held. Tengku Adlin is also Chairman of the Sabah Tourism Board which co-organised the ceremony. This is the third book by Amde, who holds multiple degrees including one in law. His earlier books were "Writing From The Tip of Borneo" and "I beg to differ - Sabah notes". Before entering into part-time lecturing both in Kota Kinabalu and Australia, Amde served the Sabah Foundation as Senior Legal Officer cum Executive Assistant to the Director. This is the first book on the Kadayans, most of whom if not all are Muslims, written by a Kadayan himself. There are about 300,000 Kadayans in the world, with most residing in Sabah (mostly Sipitang and Labuan), Sarawak and Brunei on Borneo island and hence the title of the book.

In the course of researching for the book, Amde discovered, to his surprise, that pockets of Kadayans (not being sea-farers) made a silent sojourn to Penang off Peninsular Malaysia at the same time Francis Light landed on the island in 1786 or possibly even earlier. Another interesting finding was the tracing of the family tree or linage of the present prime minister of Malaysia. On his maternal side, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's mother was a 5th generation Kadayan! "This is interesting and could that have been the reason why the PM has a soft spot for Sabah?," asked Masidi in his speech, drawing laughter from the floor. The Minister was apparently referring to the goodies that the PM distributed to Sabah during his last two visits to the State in as many months following the March 8 election in which the ruling BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament as well as control of 5 state governments.

Amde being congratulated by the State Assemblyman for Sindumin in Sipitang (Amde's hometown) Ahmad Bujang who is a Kadayan after he presented the latter with a copy of his book.
Former Malaysian Senator Haji Isli Siput who is a Kadayan receiving a copy of the book from Amde.
Sabah Society president Tengku Adlin being presented a copy of Amde's book. The Tengku (prince) is a former Deputy Director of the Sabah Foundation where Amde once served.
A book for my teacher too. Mr G. Thanda receiving the book from his former student Amde who made special mention of the now retired educationist in his speech. Amde said Mr Thanda looked after him in secondary school in Sipitang in the early 1970s. "If not for him, may be I still can't spell my name properly," Amde said.
Masidi showing off the latest book published by the Sabah Society on Mount Kinabalu, South East Asia's highest and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The author busy obliging requests for his autogaph. From right are Mr Thanda (Amde's teacher), Sindumin Assemblyman Ahmad Bujang and former Senator Isli Siput.
A thank you and congratulatory handshake between student and teacher. Quite touching. After all, it has been decades since the teacher 'looked after' the student.
Amde's son showing off two of his three books. On the left is Amde's wife.
Two of Amde's books. The other one, now sold out, was "Writing From The Tip of Borneo". Congratulations Amde! Well done, keep it up. One up for the Kadayans.

(Footnote: Amde is also a blogger - http://kadayanjournal.livejournal.com.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Anifah Springs Another Surprise!

The outspoken and controversial Member of Parliament (MP) from Sabah, Datuk Anifah Aman has sprang another surprise!

The MP for Kimanis first sprang a surprise on March 19 (11 days after Malaysia's 12th General Election) when he declined the Prime Minister's offer to re-appoint him as a Deputy Minister in the federal government. The Kimanis UMNO (leading partner of the ruling coalition BN) division chairman had served for two terms starting 1999 in the same capacity.

Then on May 8, he raised eyebrows in Parliament when he, despite being a government backbencher, said there was nothing wrong for Sabah MPs to move from a 'bungalow' (BN) to a terraced house (Opposition) if they found it to be more comfortable in the latter.

Today, Anifah sprang another surprise by issuing yet another controversial statement when he commented on an earlier statement by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that the Federal government would soon conduct a massive exercise to flush out illegal immigrants from Sabah. Najib, who is also Defense Minister, was recently appointed by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to head a high-powered Cabinet Committee on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah.

And what was so controversial about Anifah's statement today? He said the federal government's proposal to setup a special task force on illegal immigrants in the state is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

"The actual power on immigration matters lies with the state government," he was quoted by Bernama as saying on an online news portal.

Citing Article 161E(4) of the Federal Constitution, Anifah said immigration matters in Sabah and Sarawak lies with the state authority, the chief minister, to regulate and control.

He said the proper way to handle illegal immigrants' issue was to set up a high-profile task force headed by the chief minister while the deputy premier could play the role of a patron.

"This would be consistent with Article 161E(4) of the Federal Constitution," he said.

Anifah also dismissed other proposals such as a royal commission or even a parliamentary select committee as unconstitutional and inappropriate.

He said a special panel headed by the Sabah Chief Minister with participation from federal ministers, was the only constitutional step towards solving the state's long-standing illegal immigrants' problem.

As such, he said, the fedeal government's move to set up a high-level task force headed by the Deputy Prime Minister as announced by the Prime Minister recently as part of a package designed to appease Sabahans, went against the Federal Constitution.

Anifah, the powerful brother of the Sabah Chief Minister seen as a key player in the battle for support of East Malaysian legislators, was backing Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) sentiments in relation to Sabahans' unhappiness with the BN federal government, but stopped short of backing SAPP's decision to support a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.

He suggested that the federal home affairs minister should also sit on the special panel to advise on the findings and recommendations.

Anifah said the high number of illegal immigrants in the state was a long-standing issue which Sabahans are unhappy with and expect help from the federal government to solve.

In 2002, the federal government set up a cabinet committee to tackle the problem, but Sabahans say they have seen very little results on the ground, and have widespread concerns that illegal immigrants will soon outnumber citizens in the state.

In view of the fact that the illegal immigrants' issue falls under the ambit of Article 161E(4) of the Federal Constitution, it would also be inappropriate for a parliamentary select committee to study the issue.

According to Bernama, Anifah since rejecting the deputy minister's post had positioned himself to champion the interests of Sabah and Sarawak in recent months.

He has so far refused to chastise SAPP, a BN component party, except to say that he did not support any no-confidence motion against the prime minister.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Opposition MPs cycle to Parliament!

I have just received my sms news alert from The Star which reads as follows: Debate on Government motion on price increases now underway in Dewan Rakyat, both SAPP MPs are not present.

This means that the Q&A time is over and that the first business proper of the day is the tabling of the motion on price increases by the Minister of Internal Trade and Consumber Affairs, Datuk Shahrir Samad, whose brother, ironically, is an Opposition MP!

However, the sms did not answer the anxiously-awaited question of whether the two SAPP MPs were not present from the start at 10am or if they left after question time. And if they were present, did they make an attempt to table the motion of no-confidence? I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, The Star Online reported a short while ago that 4 opposition MPs from Keadilan (PKR) cycled to Parliament this morning as a mark of protest against he recent fuel price hike. The four were Tian Chua (MP for Batu), Hee Loy Sian (PJ Selatan), N. Gobalakrishnan (Padang Serai) and Zulkifli Nordin (Kulim-Bandar Baru).

Tian Chua said the move was also to "appeal to the Cabinet Ministers to understand the difficulty or public transport" in the country. "Changing o lifestyles is not as easy as what the government claims," he told reporters.

He said he and the 3 others had taken about 20 minutes to cycle from Bank Negara to the Parliament building (which would take about 5 minutes by car).

"It's a difficult task because the road transport system here is not designed for bicycle use and cyclists will face problems cruising around town," he said.

Asked if he cycle to Parliament again, he said the MPs would discuss it further.

"Today, because of the debate on petrol price hike, we rode our bicycles here to make a point," he said.

All Eyes on Malaysian Parliament today


All eyes (well, almost) this morning in Malaysia are glued towards RTM 1, the government-owned TV station which will carry a live telecast of the proceedings of the Dewan Rakyat (the Lower House of Parliament) beginning 10am. This is because every Malaysian (for those who care, at least) is concerned or simply curious if Sabah Progressive Party's (SAPP) plan to move a motion on a vote of no-confidence on the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will materialise. And if it does (which is unlikely to be allowed by the Speaker for procedural reasons, though he is also a Sabahan), what happens next?

Those qualified to comment have already explained that procedure-wise, there was no way for the motion to be tabled, as a motion requires a 14-day notice, using the normal or 'long-cut' method. Even using the 'short-cut' method or emergency motion, it is still unlikely to be allowed as no notice was submitted to the Speaker's office by Friday, the last working day before today's sitting. For argument's sake, even if for whatever reason the Speaker allows the 'short-cut' method today, it is useless as this method, unlike the 'long-cut' one, does not require or result in a vote count.

I watched the live telecast just now. By the time the telecast was over at roughly 10.40am, there was still no sign of any emergency motion. As usual, the sitting began with a question-and-answer session which was supposed to last until 11.30am. Procedure-wise, however, either one of the two SAPP MPs may stand up at the end of the Q&A session just before other business of the day begins.

But since the live telecast is already over, I suppose we have to use other means to find out; like sms news alert, radio and TV news, Internet and, of course, blogs. After all, there is already a blogger in Parliament, remember? He is DAP MP from Penang, Jeff Ooi whose blog is Screenshots. He normally bring his notebook computer to Parliament and blogs from there, thanks to modern technology which allows mobile blogging using 3G. Hopefully he does the same thing today.

My say: In conclusion, as already explained by several quarters, procedure-wise there is no way for SAPP to table the motion today or even tomorrow. However, my guess is that in order not to be seen as chickening out or play-acting (SAPP is still in BN), either Eric Majimbun (Sepanggar MP) or Chua Soon Bui (Tawau MP) will stand stand up after the Q&A session and try to move an emergency motion on the spot even though no notice has been given. This is for record (as every word spoken in Parliament is recorded in the Hansard) and also to show the public that SAPP has kept its promise but its motion was disallowed by the Speaker! Ini politik bah ini. When this happens, SAPP may gain even more public symphathy, on top of the symphathy it has already gained from a large section of Sabahans since Yong Teck Lee dropped the bombshell last week. And of course, if and when SAPP is sacked from the BN, there will be even more symphathy from Sabahans and may be even some other Malaysians. After all, the Opposition controls one-third of Parliament and five of Malaysia's 13 states.

Whatever it is, let's not jump to conclusion. Let's just wait and see. As Sabah Chinese Chamber of Commerce president Datuk Sari Tan pointed out in the local Chinese papers today, we don't care who is the 'king' (what he meant is the government) but what is important is as long as there is peace in the country and people can make a living and have food to eat.

I want to check Jeff Ooi's screenshots now. A few other MPs also blog, especially those from the opposition. Somehow, they seem more tech-savvy. After all, it is believed that the Internet in general and blogs in particular played an important part in the recent election. This was something admitted to even by some government leaders including the new Information Minister who initiated a new weekly programme over RTM 1 whereby top Malaysian bloggers were given a chance to speak their mind. However, I have stopped watching the programme as the RTM guy conducting the interview seems to be biased which defeats the prupose of the programme itself. The Information Minister should take note of this, otherwise, his motive may be questioned.

Bye, thanks for visiting. Please come again. Remember, I just celebrated my 100th blog yesterday. Once again, thanks a million. (How I wish I had a million dollars!)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My 100th Post!

Time flies. About a week or two ago, I realized that I have been blogging for almost a year now. My exact 1st anniversary will be July 15.

When I realized that, my record (Google) showed that I had uploaded about 85 posts or something like that. My record (Sitemeter) also showed that I had a total of about 4,000 visitors so far at that time. Although the visitors record may not be 100% accurate, it is nevertheless a guide.

These figures are obviously not that of a serious or full-time blogger. By right, had I uploaded at least one post a day, I would have achieved a total of over 300 posts since last year.

I then told myself, or rather challenged myself, that by July 15 I must have a total of 100 blogs and 5,000 visitors. At least for a start, I told myself. After that, the target would be 100 blogs in 3 months and not one year! In other words, an average of a post a day with a bonus of 10 posts over 3 months. As for the number of visitors, that would be beyond my control but if I can have 5,000 visitors in 3 months instead of one year for a start, that would be great!

Because of this challenge that I placed upon myself, I have been blogging like there's no tomorrow for the last one or two weeks. To the extent that I had no time to check my records. (Bini pun marah kerana lambat tidur!)

A short while ago, after uploading my last post (Sabahans, Vote for One Nation Emcees Tonite), for curiousity's sake I checked my records. Yahoo, (not Yahoo!) I finally, without realising, reached my 100th post. As for the visitors' record, at last count it had hit past 4,900. Meaning only a matter of time (should be well before July 15) to achieve the target of 5,000 visitors.

Having achieved that, my next target would now be my next 100 posts which hopefully will be acheved in 3 months' time. I now realise that you can't be a successful blogger if you blog only when you feel like it. There needs to be consistency. If not once a day, at least once in 2 days in order not to lose your readership.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank God and you, my brothers and sisters for visiting my blog and coming back, some again and again although some of my postings may be boring. Without you, my blog would have 'close shop' long ago.

I promise to be more consistent from now on. But in order not to bore you, it may not be Sabah politics or history all the time. As I said the other day, give me a break, so that once in awhile I may want to blog on things that have noting to do with Sabah or Malaysia or Borneo or politics or government. Sometimes it may be about Obama and the American election. Sometimes it may be about Hollywood or Bollywood or whatever wood (including Tiger Wood).

Once again, thank you very much. Please visit my blog again and may God bless you always; whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are, whatever your race or religion.

I would like to end by quoting Briton John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church who said: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." Amen.

Sabahans, Vote for One Nation Emcees Tonite!


My dear fellow Sabahans, especially bloggers from Giuk.Net, don't forget to watch Gang Starz over TV3 at 9pm tonite and vote for our group from Sabah, One Nation Emcees.

This local group of four has so far won good comments from the critics of the talent show and has been one of the favorites with the voters too. (Not voters in election lah, but voters of the show.)

At the rate they are going, they have every chance to be the champion and win USD100,000 (bukan ringgit tahu)! If they win, they will not only make Sabah proud, but Malaysia too as their competitors include those from neigbouring ASEAN countries! Malaysia Boleh! Sabah Boleh!

And if they win, with your help of course, it will be 'icing on the cake' for our beloved Sabah because as you know recently a Sabahan (perempuan lagi tu) won the Akademi Fantasia 6 (Stacy) and before that Ayu (juga perempuan) also from Sabah won one cool million ringgit in One In A Million! Last year, yet another Sabahan (kali ini lelaki lah) Ray won the national level of a RTM singing competition, if I'm not mistaken it was Suara Mas, or was it Bintang RTM? And the year before that, a band from Sabah, Jiaja, won the national-level of a battle of the bands in a TV show, forgot the title.

So Sabahans, unite and vote for One Nation Emcees tonite. Sambil blogging sambil mengundi bah. Let's prove once again that Sabah can. I saw a logo (clinched fist?) in one of your blogs which says Sabahan Power or something like that. Jadi apa lagi tunggu?

Sabah boleh bah! Kalau tidak percaya tanyalah Stacy, atau Ayu atau Ray atau Jiaja. Akhir sekali, tanya lah Yong Teck Lee kalau tidak percaya!

Yong shows up at Gaya Street

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee, one of the most watched men, if not the most, in Malaysia right now made a public appearance at Kota Kinabalu's famous weekly flea market or bazaar at Gaya Street this morning.

His arrival immediately caused a stir as the crowd realised his presence. The former Chief Minister, accompanied by his wife became celebrity of sorts after his arrival, with people moving up to him and shake his hands. Most, if not all, wished him well while others asked that a photograph be taken with him and his wife. He then joined his party officials at SAPP's impromptu or mobile service counter at the five-foot-way in front of a shop to look into requests for assistance from the public (pix above). SAPP has maintained the popular counter for more than 10 years.

Yong's showing-up at the Gaya street today was his second public apperance since dropping a bombshell a few days ago that his two party MPs will table or support a motion on vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister in the Malaysian Parliament next week. Yesterday, a day after securing the SAPP supreme council's endorsement of his bombshell, he addressed a crowd comprising mostly party members at Likas, his former constituency.

It was learnt that this afternoon Yong left for Sandakan to continue his 'roadshow' which he said will be held all over Sabah to explain the party's stand. How successful his roashow there will be is eagerly awaited as Sandakan is where 2 of SAPP's 4 State Legislative Assemblymen come from. The duo, party deputy president Raymond Tan and youth chief Au Kam Wah, had voiced opposition to SAPP's plan to go ahead with the motion at the party's supreme council meeting Friday. A national newspaper yesterday described the duo's opposition as the "Sadakan Rebellion".

Yong's presence at Gaya Street this morning and his leaving for Sandakan this afternoon put paid to rumours that the lawyer-turned politician was in Kuala Lumpur to meet up with de facto Malaysin opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to plan their strategy ahead of the Parliament meeting beginning Monday.

Yong and wife in a cordial conversation with a member of the public at Gaya street. The man, a Kadzandusun, was overheard saying to Yong: "Very Good, Datuk", referring to SAPP's move and Yong's bravery. (No BN component party has ever dared to speak about a motion of no confidence on the Prime Minister let alone actually tabling it in Parliament.)
Yong and wife (partly hidden) obliging a request from a mother and her daughter for a photograph at Gaya Street this morning.

Tan to PM: Leave Yong alone!

The picture which appeared on the front page of The Star today, with an accompanying story dubbed the "Sandakan rebellion" suggesting that SAPP faces a split with a rebellon led by party leaders from the east coast town.
Who says we are split? I'm staying put in SAPP....Tan seems to be saying to reporters just before the party's supreme council meeting started yesterday. Looking on are SAPP president Yong Teck Lee (left) and Tawau MP Dr Chua Soon Bui who is supposed to move or support a motion on a vote of no-confidence on the Prime Minister in Parliament next week. (Pix courtesy of mStar)

The "Sandakan rebellion", a term used by The Star in its edition today seems to be fizzling out. Despite speculations that party deputy president Raymond Tan may be joining another BN component party (possibly to protect his deputy chief minister post, among other reasons), the lawyer-turned politician said Saturday he was staying put in the party "even if SAPP is sacked from the BN".

More than that, the Tanjung Papat Assemblyman even openly appealed (including on TV) to the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to get the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) to drop its investigations on SAPP president Yong Teck Lee for possible corruption allegedly done while Yong was Sabah Chief Minister a decade ago.

Speaking to reporters at the Kota Kinabalu airport before leaving for Sandakan (where his constituency lies), Tan was emotional, with his voice choking at one stage while he was making the appeal to Pak Lah (the PM's nick name).

However, despite Tan's statement, Malaysian media today carried speculations that Tan and possibly another Sabah State Assmblyman may be joining Gerakan, a Penang-based component party of the BN should SAPP be sacked from the coalition. "The other Assemblyman" referred to is probably the representative for Elopura, Au Kam Wah whose constituency, like Tan's, is also on Sabah's east coast town of Sandakan and thus the term "Sandakan rebellion".

Speaking to reporters today, Gerakan acting president Koh Su Koon said anyone wanting to join his party would be welcomed with open arms. Despite having established a branch in Sabah for more than 10 years, the former Penang ruling party does not have a single YB (People's Representative) in the State Assembly. Gerakan was not chosen to represent the BN in Sabah in the recent election.

If Tan or Au, or both, do end up joining Gerakan (presuming SAPP is sacked from BN), then history will be repeating itself. This would be the second time that the "West Malaysian party" will be benefiting from an internal split of a Sabah Chinese-based party. In 1995, Kong Hong Ming joined Gerakan after failing to unseat then LDP president Chong Kah Kiat; thus maintaining his State Cabinet position, albeit for a short while. In view of his position as a State Minister, Kong (now with opposition PKR) was asked to lead the Sabah Gerakan. The lawyer-cum-engineer later somehow left Gerakan, after losing his Cabinet position.

Meanwhile, Yong Teck Lee today denied a suggestion by Pak Lah's son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin that he (Yong) was taken in by former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim's offer as the first East Malaysian to become a Deputy Prime Minister should the opposition form the government.

"I don't dream of becoming Deputy Prime Minister. Perhaps because I was loud in voicing out issues affecting Sabah he (Kahiry) can say anything , talking like an insane man," Yong said.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yong to be first DPM from Malaysian Borneo?

(From left) Yong, SAPP Women's Wing chief Melanie Chia and vice president Dr Chua Soon Bui reading a sms text on the phone at the press conference after the party's supreme council meeting yesterday. Who could the sender of the sms be? Anwar? The ACA? (Pic courtesy of The Star)

Will Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee become the first Sabahan or East Malaysian from Borneo island to be a Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia which was born in 1963? Not only that, if he is appointed he will also be the first Chinese or non-Malay to hold the No.2 post in the Malaysian Cabinet.

This possibility was expounded on by Malaysian lawmaker Khairy Jamaluddin last night in Kota Baharu in Kelantan state, one of Malaysia's 13.

Khairy who is UMNO Youth vice-chief said Yong's declaration that SAPP has lost confidence in his (Khairy's) father-in-law,Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was due to Yong being taken in by former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim's offer.

Khairy who is Member of Parliament for Rembau said he was made to understand that Yong would be appointed to the number 2 post in the government if Anwar was to be prime minister.

"I heard loads were offered (to Yong) like the deputy prime minister's post and oil royalties," he told reporters after having closed-door meeting with 14 UMNO Youth heads of Kelantan. Sabah has been fighting fruitlessly for an increase in oil royalty from 5% to 20% from the central government for the last two decades.

Meanwhile, de facto Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said last night that Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) now needed only 28 crossover members of parliament to form the Malaysian government.

Pakatan Rakyat needed 30 to do so but Anwar said with two SAPP MPs supporting a motion of no-confidence against the prime minister the pact now needed only 28 MPs to switch sides.

"We want to congratulate Yong and the two SAPP MPs," Anwar said at a gathering in conjunction with the 100th day of Pakatan Rakyat's rule in Selangor state attended by about 10,000 people at the Shah Alam stadium, according to Bernama.

He was confident that Pakatan Rakyat would be able to form the government, saying the ruling BN was in disarray.

Pakatan Rakyat has 82 MPs while BN has 140. BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament in the recent election. The opposition also won control of five (six if the Federal Territory of KL is to be included) states on March 8, leaving BN with only 8.

My say: Will an East Malaysian from Sabah or Sarawak ever be a Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia in our lifetime? Or will the two Borneo states get their 20% oil royalty before the oil reserves run out? I do not want to play the role of God but as they say, in politics anything is possible. But by the same token too, the opposition may never form the central government in our lifetime!)


Friday, June 20, 2008

Remembering Tim Russert (1959-2008)

Tim Russert, one of America's best-known TV hosts, died June 13 from a heart attack. He was buried on June 18 and the fact that President Bush and Barack Obama attended his funeral spoke volume for his popularity or influence.

The late Tim was host of Meet The Press, NBC's popular programme not to be missed by any serious politician or perhaps even presidential hopefuls of USA. Tim,whose popularity and influence as a TV host was second perhaps only to Larry King of CNN, was also NBC News Washington Bureau Chief.

But Tim is my favourite. I prefer watching him than Larry. This is because he let the person he interviewed take center stage and didn't try to do anything to change that. He also seemed to be more humble and affable than Larry. Less cocky too. If I do watch Larry, it's more because of the person/s he is interviewing. No offence meant, Larry.

I was saddened by the news of his death and my heart goes out to his wife and son. I am also sad that I will not be able to watch him again.

(Credits: Bloggaman of Bloggaville)

Borneo's Yong gets the Endorsement!

OK, I just received the sms news alert from The Star, Malaysia's leading English tabloid daily, after waiting for 2 hours.

The answer is: YES, Yong managed to get the SAPP supreme council's endorsement on the 'bombshell' dropped by him 2 days ago. But the meeting made no decision on the party's position in BN, Malaysia's ruling coalition.

What are the implications? What would be BN's next move? What is the likely scenario now? These are immediate questions that play in the mind of those who care, especially SAPP or Yong sympathtisers.

My guess is that, based on the tone of the BN supreme council's statement last night, and now that the SAPP has made its stand, the BN will have no choice but to finally sack SAPP from the 14-member coalition, reducing it to 13. This is, in the least, to serve as a lesson on other component parties.

"SAPP is smart. It does not want to quit BN on its own; least Sabahans will call it 'frog', a term which may not go down well with voters.

"On the other hand, SAPP wants BN to sack it so that it will gain Sabahans' sympathy and become a hero or even a 'martyr'. Yong is going for the long term. He is already looking at the next election which may be sooner than expected.

"Any sacking of a BN party from Sabah may even have an effect beneficial to the opposition in general. De facto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim would certainly welcome that with open arms," a political analyst pointed out.

Well, BN, the ball is back at your feet.

(Note: I expect another BN supreme council meeting, probably this weekend, to discuss this latest development. Meanwhile, it is not immediately known how many of the 33 SAPP supreme council present at the meeting supported the decision. And if anybody objected, whether party deputy president Raymond Tan was one of them. The 2 absentees were also deputy presidents, lawmakers Eric Majimbun and Liew Teck Chan who are both overseas on official duty.)

Troubles beginning for Borneo's Yong?

When east Malaysia's Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Yong Teck Lee (pic) dropped the by-now famous bombshell at his press conference 2 days ago, the former Sabah Chief Minister did say that the next 48 hours would be crucial.

He was referring to whatever reactions that would come SAPP's way after he boldly declared Wednesday that his party's 2 Members of Parliament (MPs) would either propose or support a motion on a vote of no confidence on Malaysian prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when Parliament resumes sitting next week. Abdullah or fondly referred to as Pak Lah by Malaysians is also chairman of the ruling BN of which SAPP has been a member since 1994.

The past 48 hours have been crucial indeed. Yesterday, the BN supreme council held an emergency meeting in Kuala Lumpur to discuss SAPP's unprecedented move by a BN component party. The meeting however did not immediately sack SAPP from the coalition as widely speculated as those present believed that the decision was more Yong's antics rather than the party itself. The supreme council further decided that a final decision on SAPP would only be made after the party officially states its stand at the supreme council meeting of SAPP in Kota Kinablu in Borneo today.

The 48 hours mentioned by Yong is up, as of 2.30pm just now when SAPP is scheduled to hold another press conference to state the party's stand following its supreme council meeting which began at 10am this morning. At the time of my writing this post, I am still waiting for my Star news alert to which I subscribe. I have, for the past hour, been surfing the Net while at the same time have Bernama's TV news over Astro beside my desk. But so far nothing. It must have been a long and fiery meeting.

'Fiery' because Yong's No. 2 in the party, Raymond Tan has openly stated that he was not aware that Yong would announce the no-confidence motion plan. Neither was present at Wednesday's press conference. The deputy chief minster didn't sound too happy or supportive of Yong's plan either. Prior to this morning's meeting, Yong and Tan had a four-eyed meeting on the issue.

That I am still waiting for my sms alert, almost two hours after the scheduled press conference this afternoon, seems to suggest that Yong did not have a smooth ride at the supreme concil meeting. The Star news alert is normally efficient, barring technical fault on the part of the telco. On Wednesday, I received its news flash even before the news conference ended.

Mind you, if Yong fails to get the SAPP supreme council to endorse his Wednesday bombshell, by convention he would have to resign as party president because any failure would be tantamount to a vote of no confidence of sorts.

"If this happens, Yong would be getting a taste of his own medicine," commented a political observer, adding that Yong put the cart before the horse by calling for Wednesday's press conference first insteadof getting his supreme council's consensus first.

By that is not the only possible problem for Yong. Today, most Malaysian newspapers, both local and national, carried reports which alleged that when Yong was Chief Minister between 1996-98, he had ordered the payment of RM5 million profit from the sale of shares belonging to a state-owned company to his selected agents.

Although this was only an allegation made by a witness in a corruption trial involving another former minister which has yet to be proven, the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) of Malaysia certainly wasted no time. This morning, ACA said that it will investigate Yong on the allegation!

By Malaysian standard, it was rather fast and 'efficient' on the part of ACA. I can' help but wonder if Yong did not drop that bombshell, would ACA be that 'efficient'? No price for guessing.

Beginning of 'troubles' for Yong? With more on the way?.

(Note: Apart from the ACA, the Central or Federal Govenment of Malaysia also controls other politically sensitive or rather useful agencies like the Income Tax Board. The Government, through the Home Minister and the police, also has at its disposal the dreaded Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows detention without trial for 2 years, extendable! Detainees are kept at the Kamunting detention camp in Perak state. Among the 'alumni' of Kamunting are Malaysian opposition leaders like former Deputy Premier Anwar Ibahim, Lim Kit Siang and son (Guan Eng who is now Penang Chief Minister), Karpal Singh, Dr Tan Seng Giaw, and Sabah's Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, brother of former Chief Minister and PBS president Joseph Pairin. But it had not been opposition leaders who were detained all the time, even people from the government, journalists and activists joined the list.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

How the Press reported it

The front page of The Star, the best selling English newspaper in Malaysia. Despite being linked to MCA, it has a larger readership than New Straits Times.
The front page of today's New Straits Times, owned by a company controlled by UMNO. Notice how they play the issue.
The upper portion of today's Daily Express front page. The full headline should read: SAPP's 'no faith in PM' shocker. Daily Express is owned by the family of the late Tan Sri Yeh Pau Tzu, comrade-in-arm of the late Tun Fuad since the birth of Berjaya.
The lower half of the front page of today's Daily Express. Notice story about SAPP deputy president and Deputy Chief Minister Raymond Tan who was absent yesterday.
The Borneo Post (Sabah edition)'s front page today. There is also a Sarawak edition owned by the same company whose headquarters is in Sarawak, Sabah's neighbour.
The New Sabah Times' front page today. Notice that while other papers use Yong's statement as the headline, this paper uses the Prime Minister's comment.

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee' bombshell yesterday was, as expected, given frontpage headline treatment by all newspapers in Malaysia today. I reproduced here the front pages of today's edition of 3 local (Sabah) and 2 national (Malaysia) newspapers.

There are two reasons why I'm doing this. Firstly, it is for the benefit of non-Malaysians in general and non-Sabahans in particular. I mean, if the bombshell was given front page treatment all over the country, it certainly attract interest or readership.

Secondly, I have learnt a valuable lesson ever since I started going to the archives after I began my blog about a year ago. That lesson is simple - save (in the computer) news reports of interesting and historical events that may turn out useful or sought-after years from now.

Remember the old Sabah newspapers I reproduced about the birth of Berjaya and the Double Six plane crash? The 1975-6 newspapers I found in the archives were no longer in good condition, some pages even half-torn while other pages or an entire edition went missing. Lucky I still managed to photostat the relevant front pages for you so far, but the next time I may not be so lucky.

Yet another reason is so that my blog's visitors can see and judge for themselves how each paper play up (or down) the issue or the kind of treatment each paper gives to the issue. The two national papers (Star and New Straits Times) whose front pages I reproduce here are from the mainstream media of Malaysia while Daily Express, the Borneo Post and New Sabah Times are regional papers based in the east Malaysian state of Sabah. New Straits Times is controlled by UMNO while the Star by MCA. Both UMNO and MCA are component parties of Malaysia's ruling coalition, BN. New Sabah Times is controlled by the family of Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Musa Aman who is also from UMNO. Daily Express and Borneo Post are strictly business concerns, although formerly Daily Express was regarded the unofficial mouthpiece of the now-defunct Berjaya party which ruled Sabah from 1976-1985.

(Please click on the images for a larger view.)

SAPP Not Sacked!

"You too?" The Prime Minister seems to be asking PBS president Joseph Pairin (left) as he arrived at the meeting. In the background is PBRS president Joseph Kurup.
The man who started it all....SAPP president Yong Teck Lee

The Supreme Council meeting of Malaysia's ruling coalition, the National Front or BN at the party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur which started just before 3pm and chaired by BN chairman and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi or Pak Lah has just ended.

According to The Star, Malaysia's leading tabloid daily, it was decided that any decision on action against SAPP will only be made after getting official explanation on its statement on plan to table no-confidence motion against the PM in Parliament next week.

Quoting BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Mansor, The Star Online added that all (remaining 13) BN component parties have denounced SAPP's statement as "unethical and against spirit of BN."

Tengku Adnan, a former Malaysian Minister, further said that all MPs from BN component parties will be told to attend Parliament sitting throughout the whole period and reject any no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister; suggesting that the BN is not taking SAPP's threat lightly.


Meanwhile, the New Straits Times, another Malaysian tabloid, quoted the Prime Minister himself as saying that no action would be taken against SAPP because the announcement was made by Yong and not the party.

"No action would be taken against the two SAPP MPs either as the statements were made outside Parliament . He added that there was no rush to take action because the party has not done anything wrong yet," the paper quoted Pak Lah has saying.

The Day After (the SAPP Bombshell)

24 hours have passed since SAPP president Yong Teck Lee dropped that bombshell at the press conference held at his party's headquarters at Luyang in Kota Kinabalu yesterday.

As I have said in my earlier postings, not only do Malaysians in general and Sabahans in particular know about it by now, they are talking about it, wondering what would happen next. This is because the stakes are high. What Yong did may change the political landscape of the country in the coming weeks. Either that, or he might fail in what he set out to do, and leave SAPP in the limbo until the next election or, as the de facto Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim insists, until September 16, the date by which he had set for his Pakatan Rakat coalition to take over the Federal Government from BN.

If at 2.00pm yesterday the entire Sabah's attention was focused on the press conference at the SAPP headquarters, today the entire Malaysia's attention is focused on the BN supreme council meeting at the UMNO headquarters building in Kuala Lumpur at 2.30pm; chaired by none other than the PM himself.. SAPP, being one of the 14 component parties of BN, would normally be sending 3 reps to such meetings. But not today, and the reason is obvious. "We are not invited," says SAPP and this was confirmed by BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan.

The agenda on today's meeting? Understood - what to do with SAPP. Will the party be sacked from BN? We will know in about an hour or two's time. But the answer will almost certainly be yes. SAPP's 'enemies' within BN wouldn't want to miss this golden opportunity to get rid of the party from BN for good. It is an open secret that SAPP had been at logger heads with fellow components PBS and LDP over the last few years.

At the first post-mortem meeting of the BN supreme council held after the March 8 election, LDP and PBS pointed a finger at a party from Sabah for back-stabbing them in the election. When asked by reporters in Sabah days later who the guilty party was, LDP president VK Liew shrewdly responded: "I forgot, go and ask (PBS president) Datuk Pairin." It is believed that the party referred to was SAPP. If true, that perhaps helps to explain why the PM was reluctant to appoint Yong a full Federal Minister through the Senatorship as widely speculated.(Yong did not contest any MP seat).

Liew himself and another component party president, Joseph Kurup of PBRS were only made Deputy Ministers after the recent election. This was perhaps another consideration of Pak Lah, plus the fact that the Chinese quota of the Deputy Chief Ministersip in the State Cabinet already went to SAPP through Datuk Raymond Tan who, by the way, was absent at yesterday's press conference. Tan is Yong's No. 2 in the party, being Deputy President.

Yong said at yesterday's conference that the SAPP supreme council will meet tomorrow (Friday) to discuss the party's next move including the possibility of leaving the BN. At the rate things are going, that perhaps would not be necessary. UMNO vice president Mohd Ali Rustam who is currently in USA on official duty said he had written a letter to the party headquarters recommending that the meeting today discuss the sacking of SAPP.

Meanwhile, PBS deputy president Dr Maximus Ongkili who is with Ali in America also deplored SAPP's action, describing it as "untimely" and "unkind". PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitingan, speaking to reporters before leaving for KL to attend the meeting, also condemed SAPP's action. PBS should know better and would think twice before following SAPP's move.

PBS led by Kadazandusun leader Pairin left BN a few days before polling day in the 1990 Malaysian election to throw their weight behind Gagasan Rakyat led by Semangat 46 president Tengku Razaleigh who is now, ironically, tying to unseat Pak Lah as UMNO president for a second time. But PBS lost the gamble - BN won and Gagasan lost. This turned PBS into the opposition at the federal level although it was the ruling party at the state level. PBS managed to get back into BN in 2002 when Chong Kah Kiat was Sabah Chief Minister and Dr Mahathir the Malaysian Prime Minister. To Kah Kiat and Mahathir, I salute you for this. You have big hearts. Chong and Pairin were colleagues during Berjaya time when Harris Salleh was Chief Minister. Chong was Assistant Minister to Harris while Pairin was a Cabinet Minister until he was forced to resign. Pairin later formed PBS which toppled Berjaya.

But it is not as if Yong would not expect sacking from BN. He said yesterday that SAPP was prepared to face any consequence. From the way he spoke, it seems there is no love lost and that he is going for broke.

"Sacking by BN is exactly what SAPP wants, so Sabahans can't say that they jumped or, more famously in Sabah, had become frogs. We were sacked, we didn't jump," an observer pointed out.

Yong also said yesterday that the next 48 hours (24 left) would be crucial. I can't agree with him more. It is indeed crucial. So far no component party or BN MP has come out in support of SAPP's action, not even the outspoken UMNO MPs Anifah Aman and Ghapur Salleh who both declined a Deputy Ministership offered by the PM. Not even MPs from PBS and UPKO, both of which were speculated by The Sun newspaper a few days go as likely to follow SAPP's move. By now too, it has become clear that the chances of SAPP or any Opposition MP moving a motion of no-confidence against the PM on Monday (or for that matter for the entire duration of the next Parliament sitting) are becoming slimer and slimer. Never mind the sacking from BN. That would be academic and makes no difference to SAPP.

OK folks, time to watch the 5pm RTM 1 TV news and surf the Net for the latest. The BN meeting should be ending any time now. See you tonite for more.

Borneo's SAPP's Plan Hits Early Snag?

Looks like Malaysian Borneo's SAPP's plan to topple Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah) has hit an early snag. By the time June 18 was over half-an-hour ago, none of SAPP's fellow-BN component parties has voiced support for Yong's plan.

In Sarawak, Sabah's neighbour in east Malaysia, all of its BN component parties have instead come out in support of Pak Lah. In fact, they were unanimous in pledging their support, according to the Star's Kuching correspondent, Sharon Ling.

Dr Stephen Rundi, secretary-general of PBB which is the backbone of the Sarawak BN, said the party would continue to stay behind the Prime Minister. PBB is the party of Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud who has led the State since 1981.

"During his last visit to Sarawak on June 10, we pledged our full support to him and this is not going to change," he said, adding that the party's MPs would not support a vote of no confidence against Pak Lah.

SUPP president Tan Sri Dr George Chan said this was not an appropriate moment to "play politics" as the country was going through difficult times and needed to stabilise.

"We have to make sure that everyone pulls together in difficult times and it's beter for everyone to work together under the present Prime Minister," he said, adding that SUPP's six MPs were behind Abdullah.

According to PRS president Datuk Dr James Masing, it was unfortunate that SAPP should choose to table a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister at this time.

"This is a time when all component parties must stand firmly behind BN and the leadership of the Prime Minister," he said.

"All six MPs from PRS will stand together behind the Prime Minister," he said.

SPDP deputy president Datuk Peter Nyarok said his party strongly supported Abdullah as BN chairman and Prime Minister of Malaysia.

He said SPDP's four MPs would not support any no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister in Parliament and advised SAPP to think twice about it. History repeating itself?

Meanwhile, over in Peninsular or mainland Malaysia, the Chinese-based MCA and Indian-based MIC which have been UMNO's loyal partners since even before Malaysia was formed have also come out in open support of Pak Lah. MCA is also the largest Chinese party within the coalition formerly known as Alliance while MIC is the largest Indian party. Another Chinese-based party, Gerakan alo deplored SAPP's move.

Back in Sabah, neither PBS nor UPKO which the national tabloid The Sun speculated yesterday that would follow SAPP's move has come out to support it. Both parties are Kadazan-based BN component parties and are led by former Chief Ministers.

Even the opposition DAP (aka the Rocket), which is supposed to welcome SAPP's move with open arms, has questioned its motive instead. DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng was quoted of saying: "The SAPP's move is unusual. The only thing for SAPP to do now is to leave the BN. But why is the party not leaving BN? What is its motive? How is it that the party wants to table such a motion when it is still part of the coalition?," he asked, as if hinting that SAPP may be play-acting or just testing the water.

Asked if DAP would support SAPP's motion, Lim who is Penang chief minister said if the Sabah party wanted DAP's support, then they would have to rationalise their decision.

"After all, the SAPP only has two MPs and they don't really decide on the downfall of the BN government," he said sarcastically.

But those are not the only hitches that SAPP is facing. There is one final hitch - The minister-in-charge of Parliamentary affairs, Nazri Aziz said the planned motion is not going to happen on Monday or any time after that.

"The truth is the motion is not going to see the light of day as daily government business takes precedence in the House. However, whether or not the motion is accepted is dependant on the Speaker," he said, pointing out that up to now, the SAPP has not submitted any motion to the Speaker.

Nazri said two provisions under the Standing Orders, the first 27(1) provided for a motion to be tabled by any member on any specific subject but the member must give a 14-day notice.

"Even if this motion is accepted by the Speaker, it will only be debated when the government's daily business in the House is concluded," he said.

The second provision is 18 (1), when the House debates a motion by any member for an hour if it is specific, of public interest and has to be done immediately as it is deemed urgent.

"The Speaker can either accept or reject it in his office or in the chamber. The House will debate the motion for an hour with both sides getting equal time. There will be no vote," he said.

Unlike 27 (1) where a 14-day noticed is needed, 18 (1) only needs a 48-hour notice or two clear working days, meaning that the SAPP or whoever is planning to table the motion must submit their motion to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker by tomorrow (Thursday).

Meanwhile, Speaker Pandikar Amin said he would have to look at the motion before making a decision. Incidentally, Pandikar is from Sabah but he is aligned to UMNO.


Looks like it is easier said than done.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reactions to Borneo's SAPP Press Conference

By now the whole country (Malaysia), for that matter the whole of Borneo island, know about what party president Yong Teck Lee and Tawau MP Dr Chua Soon Bui said at the press conference of the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) this afternoon. It's no longer news.

The nation's, in particular the state's (Sabah) attention is now focused on the reactions to SAPP's plan and the possible scenario that follows. Would SAPP leave BN after its supreme council meeting on Friday or would it get kicked out even before then? Would SAPP succeed? Would Yong get the support that he is supposed to get from the 82 Opposition MPs plus some other BN MPs especially from Sarawak as planned, after meeting defacto Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim twice? Or would SAPP be played out come next week in Parliament just as PBS was played out in 1990?

Would the two hitherto outspoken UMNO MPs from Sabah, Ghapur Salleh and Anifah Aman, support Yong's move? Ghapur, a State Assemblyman-turned-MP, and Anifah, brother of the Sabah CM, had both turned down the offer of Deputy Ministers in the federal government; fuelling speculation that they would be among the first BN MPs to jump over to the Opposition.

And if the Prime Minister (Pak Lah) survives the vote of no-confidence, what would happen to SAPP especially its 2 MPs and 4 State Assemblymen? Even if SAPP succeed in toppling Pak Lah but if the new Prime Minister is still from UMNO, what good would that do to SAPP especially if the party is already out of BN by then?

On the other hand, if Anwar and Yong succeed, what would be the latter's role in the new Malaysian government? All these and many others are the questions playing in the mind of Malaysians especially Sabahans right now. Only God knows.

A Dayak or Iban-based political party from Sarawak was supposed to have follow the footsteps of PBS who pulled out from BN on the eve of the 1990 nationwide general election but our neighbour chickened out last minute, leaving PBS in the lurch. The Semangat 46-led Gagasan Rakyat of Tengku Razaleigh which PBS joined together with DAP and PAS then failed to topple the UMNO-led BN and this left PBS being in the opposition at the parliamentary level despite being the state government. Will history repeat itself?

Anyway, first thing first, the most important reaction that Malaysians have been waiting for is that of the man himself - the Prime Minister. Pak Lah (pic) did react this evening - albeit a very brief one. He simply said, according to the national news agency Bernama, that Yong's action was due to the fact that "I have not been able to satisfy his personal greed." Abdullah did not elaborate. However, his aides told Bernama that the Prime Minister would elaborate at a later date.

Meanwhile, Sabah Chief Minister and State BN chief Datuk Musa Aman expressed disappointment over SAPP's declaration. "I am not sure what is SAPP's real motive in making such a statement," he said in a statement.

"As a BN component party president, Yong's act was uncalled for and unprecedented in the spirit of camaraderie adopted by BN all this while."

Borneo's SAPP's Bombshell

Tawau Member of Parliament Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bui (2nd right) was the star of the press conference today rather than her party boss. She is flanked by SAPP president Yong Teck Lee on her right and party secretary-general Richard Yong on her left.
The press conference was fully-packed with reporters and cameramen not only from the local press based in Kota Kinabalu but also the national press and international news agencies from Kuala Lumpur. "Even the Chief Minister's press conference would not normally attract such a large crowd of newsmen," commented an observer. The unexpected large number of newsmen prompted Yong to order his boys to photostat more copies of the statements. In asking the reporters how many more copies needed, the press-savvy former Chief Minister jokingly remarked: " For the Special Branch one copy enough lah oh..." He was reacting to the presence of police political intelligence officers who had been seen hanging around the SAPP headquarters area since last night. Police intelligence reports are known to go right up to the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Inspector of Police as well as, of course, the Sabah Police Commissioner.
The man (or rather lady) of the hour....Dr Chua being welcomed by Yong at the start of the press conference. This is a rare moment for Chua, protocol-wise, as normally she would have to wait for her party president to arrive at any function. But today Yong, a former Sabah Chief Minister, had to wait for her! This was because SAPP would be banking on her and fellow-MP Eric Majimbun in Parliament next week when a vote of no confidence is tabled against the Prime Minister. Yong said at the press conference that the duo will vote for the motion.
Yong in a jovial mood while waiting for Dr Chua's arrival. He even asked the reporters: "Are we ready? If we are ready then we'll call our MP, referring to Dr Chua who was waiting next door. The other SAPP MP, Datuk Eric Majimbun, is overseas on official duty. Yong said he has a signed statement from Eric saying that he too will vote for the motion agains the PM.
SAPP's headquarters at Luyang, Kota Kinabalu. Pix taken 2 hours before press conference.
A billboard near SAPP's headquarters....Party's action today is preparing Sabahans for the future?
Yong's statement with his initials underneath. The surname of the Tawau MP was wrongly typed. It should be Dr Chua and not Chu.
Dr Chua's statement with her signature underneath.

(For larger views of the images, click on them.)


More write-up later. Taking a break. Sorry for the delay of this one as I promised it would come within a few minutes of my News Flash earlier. I over-estimated the efficiency of the free public wireless Internet or Wifi service at Coffee Beans at Damai. It was slightly better than the one at KFC at nearby Bornion Center though, which was hopeless. I had hoped to blog from there both before and after the press conference as it is nearer to the SAPP headquarters.

News Flash on SAPP

The Sabah Progressive Party or SAPP press conference took place as scheduled at the party headquarters at Luyang in Kota Kinabalu at 2pm just now. It just ended and I'm now blogging to you from Coffee Beans at nearby Damai in air-con comfort, sipping my favourite iced southern tea.

SAPP president Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee didn't announce pulling his party out from Malaysia's ruling National Front or BN coalition as widely speculated. The lawyer-turned politician nonetheless did drop a bombshell of sorts - that SAPP has lost confidence in Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi or Pak Lah's leadership and that its two Members of Parliament will support a motion of confidence expected to be tabled against Pak Lah in Parliament which resumes sitting Monday.

This is just the news flash. I will follow up with a more detailed report in a few minutes complete with pictures. Give me a chance to sip my tea in the meantime. See you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Remembering Double Six (Part 5)

The front page of the Daily Express dated Monday, June 7, 1976. The headline is self-explanatory. Notice the composite photograph showing the late Chief Minister, Tun Fuad Stephens and some of those who died taking part in a walkathon in Kota Kinabalu in the morning of June 6, 1976 - the day they were killed. They left for Labuan after the walkathon in conjunction with the visit of then Petronas chairman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah there. The accident took place in the late afternoon as the aircraft was about to land in Kota Kinabalu from Labuan. Stephens and Razaleigh (who travelled in a different plane with Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Harris Salleh) were supposed to have signed the agreement giving Petronas control of Sabah's oil and gas reserves, with the State getting only 5% of sales proceeds, in Kota Kinabalu the next day. Notice also the side bar saying (then Malaysian Prime Minister) Hussein Onn ordering a full scale probe on the crash. (Note: The Daily Express was the unofficial mouthpiece of the Berjaya party, with the paper's owner Datuk Yeh Pao Tzu throwing his weight behind the new party since its formation on July 15, 1975.)
The sight that broke many hearts while others could not bear to see, especially family members of the deceased - the wreckage of the Nomad aircraft which crashed at Sembulan, missing the nearest houses built on stilts in shallow sea water by merely meters. This was what the lower half of the front page of June 7, 1976's Daily Express looks like. Notice story which says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Harris Salleh having been sworn-in as Sabah's 6th Chief Minister in the evening of June 6, 1976, hours after the crash which wiped out practically half of the State Cabinet. Immediately after the ceremony at Istana, Harris chaired an emergency meeting of the ruling Berjaya party's supreme council during which he was made acting President replacing the late Tun Fuad. Appointed acting Secretary-General was Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, lawyer Joseph Pairin Kitingan who, ironically , would lead a new party, PBS, to topple Harris' Berjaya 9 years later.
This was how the front page of Kinabalu Sabah Times looked like on June 7, 1976, the day after the crash. The paper was the rival of Daily Express, not only in the business sense but also politically as it was the unofficial mouthpiece of the Usno-dominated Sabah Alliance, the party that Berjaya was formed to topple from power. Notice story which says "USNO/Alliance extend their condolences". USNO secretary-general Datu Haji Aliuddin Datu Harun, brother of former Chief Minister Tun Datu Mustapha spoke for the party while the Alliance (with SCA as the other partner) was represented by secretary-general Datuk Haji Dzulkifli Abdul Hamid. Notice also story which says a special investigation team was sent by the Federal Ministry of Communications in conjunction with the crash. The team left Kuala Lumpur for Kota Kinabalu on Sunday night itself, hours after the crash.
The lower half of the front page of the June 7, 1976 edition of the Usno-controlled Kinabalu Sabah Times. Notice in the main story it was stated that the late Tun Fuad was in Labuan a day earlier in conjunction with the visit of Federal Finance Minister cum Petronas chairman Tengku Razaleigh and Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Rahman Yaakub. It was also stated that Stephens' last official function was addressing the people at Layang-Layang on the island. Notice also the paragraph which says "He (Stephens) presented Tengku Razaleigh with a wooden table in the shape of Labuan island." I find this ironical because a few years later, Stephens' successor Harris Salleh would literally 'present' Labuan island to the Federal Government to be turned into a Federal Territory of Malaysia similar to the national capital, Kuala Lumpur. This became one of the main issues used by the Sabah United Party (PBS) in the 1985 State general election which saw the less-than-2-month-old PBS toppled Harris' Berjaya which ruled Sabah for 9 years.

(Please click on the images for larger view.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wedding at Limadang


Newly-weds Paul Woo and Carolyine Chau cutting their wedding cake.
The groom Paul opening the champagne, flanked by his bride Carolyine.
Angeline Wong cutting her surprise birthday cake watched by her husband Philip Woo and her son Paul and daughter-in-law Carolyine.
Birthday girl Angeline getting a kiss from her husband Philip.

Yesterday, my wife and I were invited to a wedding reception at Limadang village in the small township of Membakut which lies between Papar and Beaufort towns on the West Coast of Sabah.

Limadang is also where my fellow-Sabahan blogger Benny Liew of Ramblings of Limadang fame (limadang.com) comes from. His blog can also be accessed via From Sabah to the World (giuk.net).

The wedding was between Paul Woo, only son of Philip Woo and Angeline Wong of Limadang; and Carolyine Chau, only daughter of Flavia Nanny and the late Robert Chau of Tamparuli.

An impromptu item took place immediately after the newly-weds cut their wedding cake. Paul's mother, Angeline was given a surprise birthday cake. After cutting her birthday cake, Angeline was given another surprise - a kiss from husband Philip.

Both Paul and Carolyine are working for private companies in Kota Kinabalu. They were married at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in the State Capital recently. Last Saturday, a reception was held by Carolyine's family in Penampang.

Congratulations Paul and Carolyine and may you live happily ever after.