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Friday, September 22, 2017

Temple denies visitors forced to carry buckets up Batu Caves



The Sri Subramaniar Swamy Devasthanam Temple Committee today dismissed as untrue a viral social media allegation that visitors are forced to carry pails of construction material up the stairs to the Batu Caves hill-top temple that is undergoing renovation.
Its chairperson, R Nadarajah, said only volunteers had been carrying construction material up the 272 steps as part of their charitable cause since the end of last year.
“The activity invites people to do good and work together to help in the renovation of the place of worship. We appreciate those who are willing to help voluntarily. However, we understand that some people do not want to do it,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
A check by Bernama revealed that the iconic Batu Caves temple is undergoing renovation at the foothill, the stairs leading to the top of the hill and within the cave at the peak.
Visitors, including tourists, are encouraged to carry building material such as bricks or sand, stones, and cement in yellow pails to the hill-top temple.
Nellea Sari Wulandari, 25, a tourist from Indonesia, said it was her first visit to Batu Caves and she agreed to carry bricks to the cave temple atop the hill because it was a unique and exciting experience.
“Walking the 272 steps up to the cave is quite exciting. My visit has become most meaningful because I have indirectly done charitable work. However, I only did what I was capable of doing,” she said.

Rahul Sadana, 35, from India said it was a good idea to encourage people, especially Hindus, to contribute and be part of the ‘builders’ of the holy place and indirectly to serve and pay respect to their religion and God.
“I don’t see anything wrong with encouraging people to do this kind of thing. As Hindus, we believe that God will repay each person according to what they have done,” he said.
Malaysian S Mala, 43, said more signboards should be up to avoid any confusion.
“Some foreign tourists, especially those who do not know English, may misunderstand the whole thing and think that they must carry the construction material up the hill,” she said.
- Bernama

Najib claims NBOS a success, takes swipe at opposition



The implementation of the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) programme has been remarkably successful in providing the best services to the people at optimum spending.
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said NBOS, which assembled over 80 government agencies, is also aimed at breaking walls between the ministries, departments, and agencies that typically practiced separate services.
The multi-agency collaboration said Najib enabled the people to enjoy the best services that focused on three main elements that are of high impact, being implemented quickly and cost-saving for the government.
“For example, in NBOS, we have implemented UTC (Urban Transformation Centres) that are implemented in 20 locations, including in Kuantan and I am told that 51 million customers have used this service and, out of that, 5.9 million are at Kuantan UTC.
“What is unique is this UTC is able to save government expenditure of up to RM2 billion because we gathered all the services under one roof and this situation is profitable to us,” he said when opening the NBOS Fiesta with the community at Kampung Baru Salong in Pekan today.
The ceremony was also attended by Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.
Najib, who is also Pekan member of parliament, said NBOS is a unique programme that was not available in other countries in the world when it offered services until 10 pm daily except on public holidays.
On the NBOS Fiesta, Najib described the event, is for the first time, as proof that the opposition’s claims the government was bankrupt were inaccurate.
"It is not that we don’t have money, we bring the various agencies to the people, including in the rural areas due to the good outcome. We will hold more such fiestas in other places.
“We want to go to the ground and meet with the people because the opposition made all kinds of baseless accusations which we have to clarify that we are doing this for the people,” he said.

Najib said the use of the word Fiesta, derived from the Spanish word for festival, also meant the leisure programme was being held for the people to enjoy the services provided by the government.
This was in line with the programmes being lined-up until this afternoon such as the Mobile Community Transformation Centre that brought government services directly to the people besides offering price discounts on essential goods of between five to 20 percent, he said.
Najib added that the government was also mulling the idea of promoting NBOS vehicle registration numbers in future.
Earlier Mohd Irwan Serigar, in his welcoming speech, said the Mobile CTC programme has been implemented in 341 rural areas nationwide.
- Bernama

Minorities party wants to join Harapan, pledges up to 30 seats



The NewGen Party has announced its intention to join the Pakatan Harapan coalition, promising help deliver up to 25 marginal BN-held parliamentary seats to the coalition.
It will also help Harapan retain 12 Harapan-held marginal parliamentary seats, said party chairperson Rajaretinam Armuggan today.
He was speaking at a press conference to announce the application to rename the NewGen Party to the Minorities Rights Action Party (Mira).
He said the party would champion the rights of all ethnic minorities and mobilise minority voters to support Harapan.
“Only a change in government can lead to a change in policy and implementation. The (present) government is still stubborn with the same policies and the same implementations.
“If the policies and implementations don’t change, then the policies will continue to be unfavourable to minorities and marginalised groups.
“Because of that, we representing NewGen or Mira have decided to join Harapan as it’s fifth partner,” he told the press in Kuala Lumpur.
In return for its support, Rajaretinam said Mira would not seek to contest in any electoral seats.

Instead, Mira wants Harapan to consider adopting and implementing the 1992 Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities in Malaysia.
The party was registered in 2013 by former MIC turned PKR member S Gobi Krishnan.
It went through a phase of being named Parti Bebas Rasuah with the involvement of former PKR leader Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor, although this has been disputed by certain party members themselves.
[More to follow]

- Mkini

FORK-TONGUE NAJIB CHANGES HIS TUNE: AFTER TELLING MALAYS NOT TO VOTE FOR HARAPAN BECAUSE IT IS LED BY ‘CHINESE DAP’, NAJIB NOW CHIDES OPPOSITION FOR BEING ‘ANTI-CHINA’

The opposition’s criticisms of BN’s effort to draw investments from China made things worse for the Chinese business community, said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Speaking at the 60th-anniversary dinner of Federation of Hokkien Associations of Malaysia (FHAM) in Serdang today, Najib said foreign investments must be encouraged because it was good for the economy.
“The member of the opposition are attacking us because we bring in Chinese investment.
“That’s a very good reason for all of us not to support the opposition because they are not telling us what’s good for Malaysia and Chinese community,” he said.
Najib argued that foreign investments would benefit both big corporations as well as small and medium-sized industries.
He cited how his administration’s work in China had helped Malaysia’s palm oil and durian industry.
“I went to China, I asked President Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang to consider buying our palm oil and the Chinese government responded.
“I believe the durian prices in Malaysia is now at an all-time high. Musang King, for example, was selling at RM80 or even RM100 (per kilogram) and beyond.
“That was largely because China has allowed export of durian products to China. Birdnest will find its way to China. Even unprocessed birdnest were accepted by China,” he said.
In view of this, he said that the opposition’s criticism of Putrajaya’s ties with China was extremely myopic.
Najib’s speech was peppered with hokkien words such as “dai keh ho” (good day everyone), “kam xia” (thank you) and stressed that he was the “xiuxiong” (prime minister).
He said that his administration was fair to the Chinese community, citing the how there were new Chinese schools built under his watch.
He was referring to new Kuantan Independent High School, the new branch of Foon Yew High School in Johor as well as government efforts to resolve teacher shortages among Chinese schools.
“This is how fair and just this current BN government is,” he said, adding he had agreed last week that new Chinese schools will be built in areas with high Chinese populations.
He also urged pupils from Chinese Primary Schools to enhance their proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia to strengthen national unity.
MKINI

Ex-IGP warns Umno giving in to PAS' hudud could cost it Borneo



A former inspector-general of police (IGP) has warned Umno its concessions to PAS, particularly over the controversial Islamic penal code hudud, could lose it Sabah and Sarawak support.
Former IGP Abdul Rahim Noor was reported by The Daily Express warning the federal government would not only lose the goodwill and support of the East Malaysian states, but the latter may even agitate to leave the Federation if the government submits to PAS' demands to implement hudud just to ensure that Umno remains in power.
"If the (BN) federal government wants to defend the political power of the people in Umno by submitting to the demands of PAS inch by inch, I'm afraid this can happen.


"Where will Sabah stand? They don't like this,” he was reported as saying at a forum "Malaysia in the Future" in Kota Kinabalu this week.
According to the report, Abdul Rahim said PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang's private member's bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act was a tactic to push for hudud, and is dangerous because it caused non-Muslims to feel uneasy.
"I had expressed concern over its impact on Sabah and Sarawak, which has a big non-Muslim bumiputera population.
"If people's anxiety over the issue of religion gets heated up, Malaysia may be thrown into chaos.
“For Sabah and Sarawak, they may think twice whether to continue to be in Malaysia or not," he said.
Borneo states differ
He said that during lead up to the formation of Malaysia, the people of the Borneo states had, regardless of race and religion, strongly disagreed that Islam should be the religion of the new federation.
"It was the main issue. This is clearly stated in the Cobbold commission report," he was reported as saying.

Umno is presently seen to be friendly to PAS, particularly in facilitating the latter's implementation of hudud.
In 2015, Umno Kelantan assemblypersons unanimously voted for the state's hudud enactment following a joint technical committee set up by Putrajaya and PAS' Kelantan government.


Hadi's motion in Parliament to amend the syariah laws was also fast tracked, and at one point, the BN government even announced it would take over his bill, although the move was eventually abandoned.- Mkini

MAHATHIR DROPS BOMBSHELL : U.S., SINGAPORE, SWITZERLAND WANT TO GIVE BACK FROZEN 1MDB MONEY BUT THEY DON’T WANT TO GIVE IT TO NAJIB & ROSMAH

IN arguably his hardest-hitting speech yet, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad told rural voters in Selama, Perak last night that the country’s ruin will be on their heads if they continued to support the Barisan Nasional government.
Speaking to a crowd of about 1,000 people from the surrounding oil palm estates, the Pakatan Harapan chairman said they could no longer feign ignorance of the financial scandals wracking the country.
Dr Mahathir said he believed rural folk understood that massive amounts of taxpayers’ money have been stolen and that they should do their part to kick out the present regime at the coming national polls.
“People say orang kampung (village folk) do not care. That they don’t understand how much a billion ringgit is,” Dr Mahathir told the crowd at the Ceramah Perdana last night.
“I don’t think village folk don’t understand. They have to pay GST (goods and services tax). They understand that the government is running out of money.
Selama is an agricultural town 45km north of Taiping in Perak. Most of last night’s audience were from the surrounding villages.
Dr Mahathir then attacked Prime Minister Najib Razak: “If you choose him again, I don’t know what to say.
“If we allow him to be prime minister any longer he will do worse. Why is he buying support? Because people don’t like him. He hopes people can be bought off. If you allow him to do this, the country will be destroyed.”
Dr Mahathir also touched on the US Department of Justice’s investigations into 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), which is alleging that US$4.5 billion (RM18.8 billion) was stolen from the state investor.
“We know where the money went to. It went to Najib. It went to Rosmah (Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor). It went to Jho Low (Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho). It’s frozen in Singapore. It’s in the US and in Switzerland.
“They want to return the money, but they’re waiting. They don’t want to give it back to Najib.”
Dr Mahathir also took Najib to task for selling land to Chinese firms.
“Najib is dangerous to our country. He always sells land. We should not sell our land. If we sell our land, then we will lose it forever. Once it belongs to someone else, we can’t have it back.”
“TRX, Sungai Besi have been sold off. This is Najib’s way. When you owe people, must pay. If you owe Ah Long (loanshark), he will send people to beat you up.
“Najib owes RM55 billion to build the East Coast Railway. He gave the contract to the Chinese. If we can’t pay the Chinese, what will happen?”
Other speakers at the Ceramah Perdana were Perak Pakatan Harapan chief Ahmad Faizal Azumu, Selangor Senator Muhammad Nur Manuty and Amanah Kuala Krai MP Mohd Hatta Ramli.
In his speech earlier, Hatta pointed to Najib announcement earlier that the government had collected RM41 billion revenue through GST.
“He (Najib) has said that if you abolish the GST, the country would go bankrupt.
“We can fix it. We just need to remove the wastage and corruption,” Hatta said.

Sleepy Selama stays up for Dr Mahathir

AT sunset yesterday, business was brisk at the two petrol stations in Selama, an otherwise sleepy town some 45km north of Taiping, Perak.
Dozens of vehicles made their way to the pumps, past hundreds more that lined streets usually traversed only by oil palm plantation workers.
“‘Saya nak dengar apa yang semua orang kata dulu’ (I want to hear what everyone has to say first),” said Mat Ramzi Mohd, a self-confessed fence-sitter who travelled with his wife by motorcycle from Kampung Kelian Gunung, a half-hour’s ride away.
The draw was Ceramah Perdana organised by Pakatan Harapan, featuring the usual coterie of Amanah leaders, but with the addition of Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the final speaker. Some 1,000 people turned up.
“But I know the economy is in trouble and I’ve heard explanations that it is due to corruption. I’m here to hear what Tun (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) has to say about it.”
Selama, a 90% Malay majority state seat, is under Umno, but by a relatively small margin.
In the 2013 election, Umno’s Mohd Daud Mohd Yusoff won with a 619 majority, garnering 6,854 votes against PAS Mohd Akmal Kamaruddin’s 6,235 votes.
Though the roads leading to Selama is lined with oil palm estates, the nearest Felda settlement is a half-hour drive south in Kamunting.
Mat Ramzi Mohd, a self-confessed fence-sitter travelled with his wife by motorcycle from Kampung Kelian Gunung, a half-hour's ride away, to hear what Dr Mahathir Mohamad has to say. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, September 23, 2017.
Mat Ramzi Mohd, a self-confessed fence-sitter travelled with his wife by motorcycle from Kampung Kelian Gunung, a half-hour’s ride away, to hear what Dr Mahathir Mohamad has to say. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, September 23, 2017.
Selama, along with neighbouring Kubu Gajah and Batu Kurau form the Larut parliamentary seat, held by Umno’s Hamzah Zainuddin, who is minister of domestic trade, co-operatives and consumerism.
Hamzah won with a 5,296 majority in a contest which saw 39,350 voters go to the polls. The figures Amanah Larut chief Razali Ismail finds the figures exciting.
“We are gaining momentum. All it takes is a 10% swing in Malay votes and BN would collapse here. The seats here are more vulnerable than people think.
Razali believes PAS will retain “undi asal” (their original votes) and hopes to recreate the “’99 sentiment”, where the Malays came out strongly following outrage over the sacking of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.
“Three-cornered fights can no longer be avoided. From what we see, their core members are only a few hundred people. Maybe 200.”
“We believe Tun can draw in the listeners. It’s definitely a grey area and we think we can swing it in our favour,” he said.
An irony was that the night’s draw was Dr Mahathir, who sacked Anwar nearly 20 years ago. The former prime minister is now chairman of the opposition coalition.
Azman Ismail, 32 from the neighbouring town of Kubu Gajah said the past no longer mattered.
“I’m confident the people want to hear Tun Mahathir’s views,” said Azman, who does odd jobs.
“The most important thing is that the people feel the cost of things are going up. The poor are getting poorer.”
“Tun says we can do something to change things. I want to see things change,” he said.
Amanah Larut chief Razali Ismail says all it takes is a 10% swing for Barisan Nasional to collapse in Selama. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, September 23, 2017.
Amanah Larut chief Razali Ismail says all it takes is a 10% swing for Barisan Nasional to collapse in Selama. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, September 23, 2017.
Not everyone caught what was being said by Dr Mahathir and other speakers on the stage opposite the petrol station on the main Selama road.
One of them was Govinda Muthusamy, a Selama resident since 1992, who was busy attending to the fuel pumps.
“No, I don’t know anything about 1MDB (state investor fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad). I just know things are expensive now,’ said Govinda, 61, a grandfather, originally from Seberang Perai.
Govinda said his biggest concern was rising food costs.
“My family likes to eat fish every week. Fish fried with sambal; Ikan temenggong, ikan kayu. But they are RM13 per kilo now. It used to be RM5,” he added.
“We still eat the fish, just less of it. Maybe soon, we won’t eat them anymore.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

‘Superficial thinking’ led to Mak Yong ban, says academic

National arts laureate Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin says authorities must not judge an art form based on whether it is against Islamic teachings or not.
Mohamed-Ghouse-Nasuruddin_makyong_600
PETALING JAYA: An academician says that it is an anomaly for the government to promote cultural traditions in the country while Kelantan, where the “Mak Yong” traditional dance originated more than 200 years ago, has banned it.
Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin, an emeritus professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia’s arts faculty, said what made this scenario worse was that the dance was accorded special mention by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, during her 11-day visit to Malaysia recently.
“I think it is quite superficial thinking, where you just look at the dance form as being against Islamic teachings or not,” Ghouse told FMT.
Ghouse, who was accorded the title “Karyawan Seni Teatre Kebangsaan” in 2004, called for Malaysia to be more open towards promoting its cultural heritage.
This is especially because, he said, many people were no longer watching Mak Yong or Wayang Kulit performances.
“When you institute this kind of ban, these art forms will die of neglect because it is no longer an integral part of society.
“Kelantan should promote it as part of tourism, as part of a performance structure,” he said.
However, Ghouse acknowledged the difficulty that comes with trying to revive a dying art, with most of its practitioners having passed on and there being no second echelon to carry on traditional art forms, such as Mak Yong and Wayang Kulit.
He said once the ban was imposed and people were no longer exposed to the art form, they would lose track of it.
“You will end up developing a different kind of DNA mutation, not the traditional cultural element,” he said.
Ghouse said when looking at art forms like Mak Yong or Wayang Kulit, the opening parts of the performance was a conglomeration of animism, Hinduism and Islam.
“In Islam, you cannot ask for any aid or prayer to any being or spirit except Allah, that is fine.
“But the practice, if we don’t believe in that kind of opening ceremony, is discontinued,” he said, adding that now it is just a habitual and literary element of the performance.
Bennoune had urged the Kelantan government to lift its ban on public performances of the “Mak Yong” dance and other traditional Malay art forms.
She that these cultures with rich tradition should instead be celebrated and appreciated as they were among the oldest performing arts in the world.
She said measures should also be taken to provide better understanding and explanation of the meaning of these practices and their long history in Malaysia, to overcome prejudicial views about them.
“Kelantan has a rich artistic tradition and the restrictions of other traditional art forms like Wayang Kulit, Main Puteri and Dikir Barat must also be lifted.
Mak Yong is one of Kelantan’s oldest traditions and is recognised as a world heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). -FMT

Karim: Sarawak’s rights eroded under Dr M’s era

The state minister says he hopes the former prime minister will fight to return the state rights and apologise to the people of Sarawak.
Abdul-Karim-Rahman_mahathir_sarawak_600
PETALING JAYA: Sarawak lost most of its rights enshrined under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister, said a state minister yesterday.
“It is good to see the former premier coming back to Sarawak to meet the people as he has hardly done so in the past,” Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said at a press conference.
Karim said Mahathir was free come to the state as Malaysia was a democratic country and its citizens were free to move around the country without restriction, as long as they abided the law, reported the Borneo Post Online.
Karim was commenting about Mahathir’s first visit to Sarawak as leader of the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan on Sunday.
Mahathir, who is Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chairman, together with DAP leader Lim Kit Siang and Parti Amanah Negara leader Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli, is expected to give a talk at Pakatan Harapan Sarawak’s political gathering at Taman BDC Everrise car park in Kuching at 7pm.
Karim said it was good that the former prime minister was willing to give a speech on the streets and willing to meet the people at the BDC Everrrise car park.
He said if only Mahathir had that same strong enthusiasm and drive for Sarawak when he was the prime minister and had the authority to make changes.
Karim hoped the former premier this time would fight to return the state rights and apologise to the people of Sarawak. -FMT

Sipaun supports ex-IGP on Malaysia not being Islamic country

Former Sabah state secretary Simon Sipaun says Abdul Rahim Noor was correct in pointing it out, based on events that led to formation of Malaysia in 1963.
Simon-Sipadan_Abdul-Rahim-Mohd-Noor_malaysia_islam_600
KOTA KINABALU: Former Sabah state secretary Simon Sipaun supports the views of a former inspector-general of police who said that Malaysia was never meant to be an Islamic country, and Sabah and Sarawak would not agree to make it so.
He said Abdul Rahim Mohd Noor, who was the country’s top cop from 1994 to 1999, was speaking the truth when he said Malaysia could lose the Borneo states if religious conflicts got out of hand due to the federal government continuing to succumb to pressure and becoming too Islamic.
“Rahim made the right point in his talk. I remember that when Malaysia was formed, the original objective was not to make it an Islamic state,” he told FMT.
Simon, who is founding chairman of anti-corruption NGO C4, said the assurance was clear and even provided for on the Keningau oath stone, which was inscribed with pledges in conjunction with Sabah’s decision to form Malaysia together with the Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore in 1963. Singapore left the new Malaysian federation two years later.
On Tuesday, Rahim had told a forum titled “Malaysia in the Future” held here, that when the idea of Malaysia was mooted, religion was the main issue addressed by the Cobbold Commission, which was formed in January 1962 to determine whether the people of Sabah (then North Borneo) and Sarawak supported the creation of the federation.
“The people in the Borneo states, all of them, regardless of race and religion, did not want an official religion for the new federation. The demand was reasonable,” he had said, expressing concern about Putrajaya caving in to pressure and becoming too Islamic.
“If we continue down this line, it will destabilise the federation and maybe at that time, Sabah and Sarawak will think again whether they want to continue to be in Malaysia or whether they should leave,” he told the forum.
Yesterday, Sabah PAS commissioner Mohd Aminuddin Aling was reported as saying that Rahim’s statement was dangerous as it could cause some people to want Sabah and Sarawak to depart from Malaysia.
Sipaun, who had moderated at the forum, said Rahim was expressing his concern over the increasing politicising of religion, with the government now legislating religion when the matter should be a personal affair.
Sipaun, who is also prominent human rights activist, said Rahim had no ill intent towards the religion which he himself professed.
“I was there. I heard what he said. We talked until very late that night. Rahim is against hudud (Islamic criminal punishment) law as pushed by PAS. But (was he) stirring conflict in Sabah? Far from it,” Sipaun said.
He said Rahim is a retired government servant and not a politician. Therefore, any attempt to paint him as some sort of a firebrand political figure, set on stirring conflicts among the people in Sabah, is wrong.
Sipaun, who believes that PAS has already lost any popularity it had among voters in Sabah, said the Islamist party perhaps wanted to capitalise on Rahim’s remarks to stay relevant in Sabah.
“Even if Sabah and Sarawak do want to get out of Malaysia, how can we do it? We have gone in, locked ourselves inside and thrown out the key. We cannot go out. I don’t know how Singapore did it but at least they are strong enough. We are not,” he said. -FMT

Malaysians need to avoid corruption, disunity, says minister



Malaysians need to avoid corruption and disunity that had once caused civil wars to break out and weakened the ummah and led to the collapse of the Islamic empire, says Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak.
He said the people need to learn from history and avoid the same fate as Maal Hijrah was not just about celebrating a new year but about celebrating the meaning behind the emigration of Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Madinah in the year 622.
“Back in 622, when Europe was still in the Dark Ages, the Muslim world fought for freedom, civil rights, and an end to oppression and persecution.

Muslims, Jews, and Christians co-existed in one community and respected one another’s right to their own belief. That eventually led to what historians call the Golden Age of Islam.
“Unfortunately all that was eventually destroyed due to corruption and disunity. Civil wars broke out and that weakened the ummah and led to the collapse of the Islamic Empire.
“Malaysia is fragile because of our many ethnicities and opportunists will exploit that to divide us,” he said in his blog post at sskeruak.blogspot.my, on Friday night in conjunction with the Maal Hijrah 1439H.
- Bernama

Fire destroys 20 squatter homes in Kelantan



Twenty squatter houses at Wakaf Mek Zainab were destroyed in a blaze early today, leaving 30 people homeless.
Kota Baru Fire and Rescue station chief, Deputy Supt Zaini Bidin said the incident happened around 2.45 am.
She said 26 personnel rushed to the scene following a distress call at 2.52 am and managed to control the blaze in 45 minutes.
“No casualties have been reported. The cause and estimated losses are being investigated,” she said when contacted.
- Bernama

Kedah flash flood victims rise to 1,000



The number of flood victims in Kedah has risen to 1,060 as of this morning.
They are being sheltered at 13 evacuation centres.
In a statement today, the State Disaster Management Department said the centres were located in the districts of Kuala Muda, Kota Setar, Kubang Pasu, Pokok Sena and Pendang.
It said 55 people were staying at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Titi Gajah; six, at Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat Seberang Perak; 53, at Surau Assyakirin Kepala Batas; 26, at SK Alor Mengkudu; and 20, at Dewan Kampung Balai in Kuala Kedah.
Other centres are at SK Bukit Hijau, Pokok Sena involving 12 people; Surau Kampung Kubang Betong, Kubang Pasu (108), SK Kodiang Lama (46) and SMK Changloon (148); and Dewan Cenderawasih Pendang (41).

Three centres that had remained open in Kuala Muda are SK Bukit Kechil with 390 people, Dewan Kampung Jilid Lapan (44), and Dewan Kampung Sungai Pial (111).
Yesterday, continuous rain and high tide caused 149 families involving 669 people to move to five evacuation centres.
Menteri Besar Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah visited flood victims in Kuala Muda last night.
Bernama

No negotiations, Nurul Izzah says Harapan’s stand is clear



It has been almost one month since Pakatan Harapan's leadership council ruled that the opposition coalition would not cooperate with PAS in the upcoming general election, which must be held by the middle of next year.
However, the issue of PKR seeking terms with PAS still lingers with some within the party believing it should still be pursued.
But for PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, the party's position as stated by president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is clear - the Harapan ruling stands.
"She (Wan Azizah) came out clearly the day that Harapan pledged there would no longer be negotiations with PAS and we're going to move on (without PAS)," Nurul Izzah told Malaysiakini in an interview on Thursday.
Nurul Izzah, however, indicated that ties should not be severed completely. She said social engagements, such as visiting a leader who is ill, was acceptable.
"If (Prime Minister) Najib Abdul Razak is sick, I would visit him. Does it mean I will have an electoral pact with him? No.
"So the issue is, social engagement, that's fine; visiting people who are sick, that's fine. But I'm tied to Harapan's (stand) and that's the end of the matter.”
Previously, a visit by Wan Azizah and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang who was recuperating in hospital triggered speculation of PKR engaging PAS in formal talks.


The issue of PKR and PAS working out an electoral agreement has deeply divided the party. For example, in Kelantan, PKR members who are against talks with PAS are demanding the sacking of the pro-negotiations state party leader.
The pursuit of an arrangement with PAS mainly centres on avoiding three-cornered fights, which could end up benefiting BN in the next election.
Nurul Izzah conceded that winning three-cornered fights would be challenging, but argued that this was not impossible.
However, while adamant on there being no negotiations with PAS, Nurul Izzah did not rule out the possibility of a post-election electoral pact.
"There could be electoral pacts after the election… that was what happened in 2008," she said, referring to the birth of the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat coalition between PKR, DAP, and PAS.


She nevertheless stressed that PKR and Harapan should not be quick to condemn or deride PAS leaders. She said efforts must instead be made to understand why some PAS leaders are "bent" on having three-cornered fights.
Nurul Izzah also called for direct engagement with PAS members, whom she said have been PKR's compatriots since 1998.
"We have to make that distinction - they're not the leaders, they're not the elites. They are well-meaning people who actually care about this country," the Lembah Pantai MP said.
In the following excerpt from Malaysiakini's exclusive interview, Nurul Izzah delves further on Harapan's chances in winning three-cornered fights, and her experience thus far as PKR co-election director.
The interview has been edited for language and brevity.
If there are no straight fights, if Harapan can't work out an agreement with PAS, PSM and others, can you win?
We've done our best to incorporate everyone in the framework of our reform agenda. This is not an individualistic or a personality contest. Everyone has to live by the same rules…


If I were to say I have issues with some leaders - maybe I (do) have some issues – but people are not electing me to focus on my issues. I'm supposed to resolve them to address the people’s welfare.
Time and tide wait for no one. If they don't believe in the reform agenda, then we just have to move on and articulate a clear-cut offer for change.
Can you win three-cornered fights?
I think it’s going to be challenging. It's not impossible, we just have to be very clear in our need to convince and to bring forth a clear-cut choice for the electorate.
Which is why I think (Harapan chairperson Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) is hell-bent on having just one logo, although the Registrar of Societies is still waiting for instructions from the top.


I doubt we'll get that but at least people know we've come to a position where everyone is willing to embrace one logo.
Did you think this would happen three years ago? No, you didn't. Nobody did...
So I think because of that, with the lack of media access, you have to make sure every voter understands that this is the choice, a stark choice, facing them.
At the end of the day, the major determining factor is trust. If there is no trust that the people will stick to the reform agenda, that's tough. One of the biggest projects in Malaysia is nurturing that trust.
I'm more than happy, I'm an inclusive leader, I would really want to address everyone, but there has to be certain things that determine our decision-making. Talking about governing, there could be electoral pacts after the election as well. That was what happened in 2008.
How has your job as PKR election director been?
I share the portfolio with (PKR secretary-general) Saifuddin Nasution. It has been a true honour and privilege for me to not just fight alongside motivated election workers in the party, but also other volunteers who have been at it far longer than I have.
Our biggest asset is a group of concerned individuals who want to strengthen the party's organisation in terms of our election department and make sure we work alongside technologies as you can see through (our mobile app) Spera, which allows us to democratise the scouting for phantom voters and to verify the status of the electoral rolls.
As election director, as opposition in Malaysia, there are many challenges.


You are fighting repeated unconstitutional moves by the Election Commission (EC), you are fighting moves by a biased EC that is constantly tampering electoral roles, adding phantom voters through postal votes. We lost 30 seats in the last election just purely on postal and early votes.
Of course, for me, I'm looking forward to a future filled with a genuine level electoral playing field and of course, free and fair elections.
That's the hope that keeps me motivated. But we have to be pragmatic. These are challenging times and they are not fighting fair.
How can PKR and Harapan improve its election machinery?
Alhamdulillah, we have quite a cohesive unit in the election department under Harapan which was just recently formed. We have discussed further collaboration. There's always a need to increase coordination between central, state, and local machinery.
Of course, there’re different dynamics in every state. Perlis will be different from Johor, Kedah will be different from Perak. But there's always the need to improve on that front; the campaign should be starting to ramp up and not just mainly (focusing) on men.
I think my focus is now to improve outreach to women… It (Harapan) has never had a town hall to meet and greet the women who are mothers, career women, homemakers, single women, women who actually have such a huge stake in the development and future of this country.
That's what I want to do as well. This has been sufficiently recognised by Harapan in terms of voter canvassing. I think, far more than previously, for the targeted 50 seats.
We need to ensure that BN's external agenda doesn't distract us. We always have to bring back that it's not just about winning elections, it's about saving Malaysia and that means you have to be constantly articulating why free and fair elections will have an impact on people's ordinary lives.


What's our message? We have to make it more stark - that after the elections, if Najib wins, it’s going to be another 10 years of kleptocrats. Versus the reformists who can reform, bring change to the outcome of policies and programmes that can benefit people's lives.
That difference needs to be made more stark. The level of lost integrity by the kleptocrats, I don't think we've articulated that enough.

It’s not just about 1MDB. The issue is of lost credibility, the fact that the current government can't provide good governance. That has to be reinforced. And we, at this moment, are not just addressing the issue of high cost of living, stagnant low salaries, lack of employment opportunities for graduates.
We, the opposition, are also led by the most politically experienced opposition leaders in Malaysia in recent history. That you can't deny.
Former prime minister, name it. Former deputy prime ministers, name it. Former best finance minister, we've got it, and a couple more chief ministers, current and past.- Mkini