Thursday, July 31, 2008

Unethical to ignore initial medical report

First examination is very relevant

It is very unfortunate that at a time of rising inflation and economic uncertainties, the nation has become preoccupied with the sodomy allegations against the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Why so much of time,energy' money and especially police manpower are spent on this problem?Has sodomy become our top national problem?

In the latest development in this issue the revelation of the medical notes of Hospital Pusrawi’s Dr Mohamad Osman Abdul Hamid created so much controversy and public debate. Anwar and his lawyers, as expected, were quick to take advantage of the report, which was definitely in their favor. They could not afford to stand idle and let the golden opportunity elude them as they have very little means to really rebut the allegations arrayed against the PKR advisor.

The police on the other hand were quick to brush aside the report as insignificant and not genuine. The Health Ministry’s Director General, Datuk Dr.Ismail Marican says that his ministry would stand by the findings of the medical examination conducted on Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan by doctors at the Hospital Kuala Lumpur. He seems to imply that he is not taking seriously the findings of Dr.Mohamad Osman, who is a duly registered medical practitioner. It is regrettable that instead of defending Dr.Osman,Dr.Marican chose to cast doubts on the latter’s professional competence. Such an attitude would disappoint many doctors who expect to be protected for being righteous under difficult circumstances.

Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar says that the first medical examination by Dr. Mohamad Osman at the Hospital Pusrawi was just one on the many evidences gained by the police and as such its importance must not be over-emphasized.Yes,it may be one of the many, but it is a very important and relevant evidence that should not be ignored if we are to uphold justice.

Hospital Pusrawi’s general manager Wan Mahmood Wan Yaacob says that Dr. Dr. Mohamad Osman did not do a sodomy-related examination on Mohd Saiful, although the examining doctor has clearly stated in his notes “To rule out assault (sodomised)” and he rightly advised the patient to go to a government hospital for further evaluation as it was a medico-legal case.

Whatever is said about of Dr. Mohamad Osman and his clinical findings, it must be remembered that he was the first doctor who had the opportunity to examine the alleged sodomy victim.Dr.Osman is a fully a fully qualified doctor, registered with the Malaysian Medical Council and had many years of experience.

Dr.Osman found no active bleeding, ulcers, pus or anal tears to suggest some sort of injury. His findings may be negative but positive to show there was no evidence of traumatic injury of any sort involving the anus or rectum of the alleged victim. It would be unfair to disregard his clinical his examination just because it was negative. This is particularly so in criminal cases where the alleged crime must be proven without an iota of doubt.

It is absolutely right for the police to seek a second and expert opinion from the government doctors but the findings of Dr.Osman are relevant and must not be ignored if the police really want to get the truth. The police must be professional and evaluate all available evidence objectively without bias so as not to do injustice to any party concerned.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why sodomy again?

The trial that broke the judiciary's back

Tommy Thomas Malaysiakini Jul 29, 08 11:04am

Before the powers-that-be rush into a second prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim for alleged sodomy arising from the recent complaint by Saiful Bukhari Azlan, it is critical for a dispassionate public debate to be conducted as to whether such a prosecution would serve the public interest.


It would be convenient to begin with the impact of such criminal proceedings on the administration of justice.

The starting point is the previous prosecution of Anwar for sodomy in 1998 which imposed incredible strains on our legal system, and made Malaysia the laughing stock of the legal world.

It would be sufficient to remind ourselves of the conduct of the prosecution in the 1998 case, the unfair publicity given by the mass media, the denial of bail, the "irrelevant" rulings by the trial judge, the conduct of the trial itself, the amendment of the charges, the shameful parading of the mattress, the expungement of "inconvenient" evidence, the finding of guilty, the lengthy sentence, the appeal to the Court of Appeal, and finally the appeal to the Federal Court.

anwar ibrahim and mahathir argue fightThe leading personalities a decade ago were Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Chief Justice Eusoff Chin, Attorney-General Mokhtar Abdullah and Inspector-General of Police Rahim Noor. Lawyers and litigants would remember the darkest days of Malaysia's judiciary under Eusoff Chin in the late 1990s, symbolised by cases involving Anwar.

Because Anwar never received a fair trial in 1998, the entire proceedings were condemned as a sham by the Bar Council, international and local scholars and international bar organisations. The Malaysian judiciary reached its nadir during the Anwar trial.

After Eusoff's retirement in 2000, each of his successors, Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah, Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Abdul Hamid Mohamad took corrective measures to improve the image of the judiciary. Each seemed to distance himself from the Eusoff Chin style of leadership, and each attempted to move the judiciary in the right direction.

Without doubt, their collective actions have succeeded slowly, but surely to enhance the status and reputation of the judiciary to the extent that the vast majority of the members of the 13,000 Malaysian Bar would concede that the judiciary in 2008 is in much better state than in 1998. Incremental steps have been taken, and the Bench is stronger for that.

Second trial will be a mistake

A second prosecution in 2008 would, in one stroke, undo all the good deeds carried out in recent years. A second trial will again demonstrate that the criminal court is not equipped to settle political scores, and should not be the forum to resolve political disputes.

It is not fair that a political problem affecting the executive, which is essentially non-justiciable, be trust upon the judiciary.

Any prosecution of Anwar in a sodomy charge would bring to focus the following elementary principles of criminal law: that he is innocent, until proven guilty; the relevant burden of establishing his guilt is beyond reasonable doubt; that burden always remains with the prosecution, and never shifts to the accused, thus, he can elect to remain silent and not cooperate with the prosecution by not voluntarily giving his DNA and the like; and he is entitled to be free on bail from charge to conviction.

Entrenched principles like that it is preferable that 99 "guilty" persons are let free than one "innocent" person should be convicted, are not just idealistic statements that students learn at law school. They form the bedrock of civilised criminal jurisprudence.

Because these are the hallmarks of any criminal prosecution in Malaysia, failure to adhere to them would immediately put public pressure on the credibility of the trial process, to the detriment of the judiciary, as the third branch of government.

anwar out from hospital 160708 01In other words, well established principles of criminal law should not be suspended during a second Anwar trial, as happened in the first trial.

It is instructive that since 1998, there have hardly been any sodomy charges against anyone. Does that indicate that no homosexual or lesbian activities have taken place in Malaysia in the past decade?

When the crime rate is shockingly high, becoming an issue during the March general election, and resulting in a widespread breakdown of law and order, is it not an absolute waste of limited police resources to focus attention on the sexual preferences of a 61-year-old man with neck and back pain.

This is wholly disproportionate, and not consistent with good law enforcement.

In mature legal systems, homosexuality has been decriminalised, partly because contemporary society no longer regards such behaviour as warranting a criminal law response, and partly because such offences are very difficult to prove on a criminal burden of proof since, in most cases, it is the word of one person (the victim) against the version presented by another (the accused), with the latter enjoying the advantage of being innocent until proven guilty.

In the present climate, a fair trial cannot be guaranteed to him. Thus, it can safely be stated that a prosecution of Anwar in 2008 would have drastic negative consequences to the administration of justice.

The political consequences

Again, the lessons of 1998 must be considered. Despite the protestations by Mahathir and his decreasing band of apologists, there are only a few Malaysians left who still do not believe that Anwar was removed in September 1998 as deputy prime minister, expelled from Umno and charged for sodomy because he was perceived by Mahathir as a rival.

mahathir kimma new office event 150708 03It was Mahathir's method of eliminating a serious contender to his office. By such extreme action, Mahathir achieved short-term gain by remaining in office for a further five years.

But at what cost? Hence, any short-term gain that Mahathir personally secured was negated in the medium term, let alone in the long term, which only time can tell.

The harm inflicted on the major institutions of the state and the damage suffered by the entire nation by the extreme actions taken against Anwar a decade ago have been permanent and the scars would take generations to clear.

It would be equally impossible to find many Malaysians today who would believe that a second prosecution of Anwar has nothing to do with him as prime minister-in-waiting.

The undeniable facts are these: the March general election saw the opposition securing 51.3 percent of the popular vote in West Malaysia, with the Barisan Nasional securing 48.7 percent.

Of the 165 seats at stake in Peninsular Malaysia, the opposition won 81 seats while Barisan Nasional won 85. The ruling coalition's two-thirds majority was breached. The opposition is ruling five states, and won 10 out of 11 parliamentary seats in Kuala Lumpur.

The prospects for a two-party (or two coalitions of parties) system of government have never looked more promising. Umno is on a path of self-destruction, with Mahathir leading the charge that Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi should resign.

Abdullah's promise to retire by 2010 has received much criticism from Umno grassroots. Against this background, whether prudently or not, Anwar announced that he would lead a Pakatan Rakyat government by Sept 16 this year, the 45th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia.

A motion of no confidence was presented by the Sabah Progressive Party, which has yet to be debated, while a second motion presented by Pakatan was not accepted by the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.

lembah pantai nomination day 240208 anwarAnwar then announced that he was ready to contest in a by-election. Finally, the opposition stalwart out-performed Ahmad Shabery Cheek in a much-watched televised debate. He was immediately arrested in a high-handed manner.

It therefore defies belief that the government can still repeatedly declare that politics is not involved in the Anwar sodomy case. They are insulting the intelligence of Malaysians by such arrant nonsense. The case is all about politics, and nothing but politics.

If Anwar were not a potential prime minister, and only an ordinary citizen, he would not face this prosecution. It is as simple, plain and obvious as that.

The economic consequences

The latest sodomy charge against Anwar could not have occurred at a worse time while the nation is facing economic turbulence of crisis proportions, and certainly the worst since the 1998 financial crisis.

While Malaysians are suffering from increasing costs of living issues, best exemplified by the recent huge fuel price hike, and ordinary life has become intolerable for millions, the politicians are playing their selfish and wholly irresponsible games.

The mismatch between the electorate's expectations of their political leaders and actual political governance (or the lack of it) is awesome.

In this context, for the nation to embark on a wholly unnecessary criminal prosecution of a potential prime minister would be political and economic suicide. That the market is spooked is best reflected by that barometer of public confidence and business sentiment, the stock exchange, which has declined by a quarter of its index points in the past four months for "political" reasons.

The market would plunge further if Anwar is prosecuted, already nervous Malaysian businessmen would not invest in Malaysia and foreign direct investments will go elsewhere.

Deeply divisive trial

The 1998 trial deeply divided Malaysians. In a typical family, one spouse may have initially supported the prosecution, while the other spouse was sympathetic to Anwar.

Although a second prosecution 10 years later may result in the vast majority of Malaysians being sympathetic to Anwar, a trial would nonetheless be deeply divisive at a time when the nation desperately needs healing and reconciliation.

For the sake of public harmony, a trial must be avoided at all costs. Malaysians must not be asked if Anwar is getting a fair trial in a criminal court.

Since Merdeka, Malaysia has placed much emphasis on world perception. Image building has very much been the cornerstone of our foreign policy. Malaysia was heavily criticised in the conduct of the first trial. It would be déjà vu the second time. The United States and Japan (hardly a pushy friend) have already queried Anwar's arrest.

The home minister has already met 98 foreign diplomats to explain the position of the government. It is entirely predictable that right thinking countries would protest in different ways if he is prosecuted. Malaysia would again take centre stage in CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera, and for all the wrong reasons.

That the attorney-general, in his capacity as public prosecutor, is not obliged to prosecute every "offender" for every alleged "crime" that may have been committed in Malaysia is demonstrated by the discretion vested in the office of the attorney-general under Article 145 of the Federal Constitution and Section 376 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The attorney-general is perfectly entitled in the exercise of his prosecutorial discretion to take into account non-legal matters in the decision-making process.

Thus, he is not limited to merely asking: "Do I have a prima facie case to convict an accused for committing an offence?". Other factors may be relevant, and weighty.

The Malaysian position is similar to most Commonwealth nations. Indeed, in the United Kingdom, because the attorney-general is always a member of parliament, he is often required to explain to Parliament the reasons why he has decided not to prosecute a particular individual.

Numerous reasons have been given by the attorney-general in the United Kingdom for not prosecuting. The category of reasons is never closed and it always depends on the particular circumstances of a particular case. Hence, the operative word is "discretion", rather than a "duty" or "obligation".

In the late 1990s after the British courts had refused to recognise the immunity of General Augusto Pinochet and ordered that he should stand trial in the United Kingdom for his crimes against humanity committed in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Allende regime in Chile, the British government announced that in the interests of British-Chilean relations and because of his age, it was not in the public interest for Pinochet to be tried in the United Kingdom.

He was allowed to return to Chille, where he lived for another 10 years.

It must further be appreciated that although constitutionally the prosecutorial decision is vested in the attorney-general, the political reality is that in important "high-profile" cases, the prime minister would have to give his sanction.

Indeed, no one would deny that during his 22-year term, the effective decision-maker for major prosecutions (or not to prosecute) was Prime Minister Mahathir, and not the four attorney-generals who served under him.

PM must decide

Philosopher George Santayana famously observed: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

History is replete with examples of leaders who refused to learn from past mistakes, and were doomed to repeat them. It would be a tragedy of ancient Greek proportions if our leaders do not learn the lessons from 1998.

It is abundantly clear that all the factors point in one direction: it is not in the public interest to subject the nation and its citizens to the trauma of a second trial.

The only factor in favour of a second trial is that certain politicians with a vested interest think that they may derive benefit. Whatever political benefit they may secure, would be very short term, and they may suffer electorally during the next general elections.

If Malaysia does not wish to descend to the level of Burma and Zimbabwe, both of which are also British colonies and enjoyed the rule of law and freedom for a few years after independence, a second prosecution must be avoided.

umno special briefing abdullah ahmad badawi announce resignation date 100708 05The attorney-general, having regard to his high-profile direct personal involvement in the first trial, should not personally take the decision. Likewise, the office of the attorney-general should be precluded, having regard to its previous conduct.

One hopes that taking these relevant considerations into account, Abdullah (photo) would act as a statesman by personally deciding the matter, that is, by declining to prosecute in the national interest.

Posterity would generously reward the prime minister if he took this decision because it is the right one to take in all the circumstances of the case.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wakil rakyats insensitive to peoples’ plight

Wakil rakyats insensitive to peoples’ plight

The purchase of the 14 brand new Mercedes E200 Kompressors,costing RM3.2m, to replace the Proton Perdanas by the Trengannu State government for its Exco members, although was not surprising , nevertheless has created much debate and controversy.

More than four months have passed after the last general elections and our wakil rakyats have yet to keep their promises they made during the election campaign. It is very sad that there seem to be no positive indications that they are serious in wanting to honor their pledges at all. The Mercedes Benz fiasco just goes to show this uncaring and inconsiderate attitude of our wakil rakyats.

The Prime Minister,Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, on announcing the recent drastic hike in fuel price called on the people to change their lifestyle in order to cope with the steep rise in fuel price. He further pledged to do whatever possible within his means to alleviate the burden of the rakyat during these trying times. What kind of lifestyle are the politicians adopting to help the rakyat overcome the current financial crisis?

When the vast majority of Malaysians, especially from the lower income group in urban areas, are finding it almost impossible to cope with the escalating cost of living, our wakil rakyats are more interested in changing their Proton Perdanas to Mercedes Benzes for greater comfort. Don’t they see this as absurd and a total lack of empathy for their constituents? Isn’t it a blatant misuse of public funds? The ACA must be commended for their swift action to investigate this misuse of taxpayers’ money and hopefully their actions will deter others from resorting to such extravagant expenditure.

It would also be unwise for the Selangor state government to go ahead with the purchase of Camry to replace their own fleet of vehicles for their Exco members. All Pakatan Rakyat state governments who have been voted into power must keep to their pledge of placing the interest of the people above theirs. They should practice a great deal of prudence in spending public funds at all times especially now at a time of financial crisis when the people are under tremendous stress.

In fact they should move away from the practice of providing cars for their use. Instead all Exco members should be encouraged to use their own cars whereas the government pays to maintain their vehicles like all other senior government officers.

The wakil rakyats should themselves turn down the offer to use luxury cars for official use so as to show their solidarity with the people. They should not need laws to force them to comply if they truly have the welfare of people at heart,which they should at all times. They will not be where they are if not for the people who voted them.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Was Anwar stripped and measured?

Medical examination must be independent and professional

There has been some controversy as to whether PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was made to strip naked and had his private parts examined and measured. It was surprising that Hospital Kuala Lumpur director Datuk Dr Zaininah Mohd Zain came out to deny that Anwar was made to strip naked for the examination. How can physical examination be done without adequate exposure?

Any doctor will agree that adequate exposure is essential for a proper medical examination.This is a basic lesson for all medical students. In cases of a rape or sodomy, examination of the private parts is imperative and that can only be done if those parts are fully exposed to the examining doctor.

However Dr Zaininah rightly pointed out that the doctors who examined Anwar had clearly explained the procedure and obtained his prior consent before being subjected to the examination. This is definitely in keeping with accepted medical practice. Moreover the examination has to be done in a professional manner and adhering fully to proper clinical procedure. If these are strictly adhered to, it would be perfectly acceptable and will not be considered violating the patient’s decency, modesty or dignity.

A patient cannot be compelled to be examined if he refuses to do so. In the case of Anwar genital examination is a must and there is no way that can be done if he does not agree to undress himself adequately in the privacy of the qualified medical examiner. External or superficial examination of a person involved in sodomy or rape would not be inadequate, unacceptable and would be just a waste of time and resources.

Therefore it would not be right to say that Anwar was not stripped naked for the examination. It has to be done but with his full consent. The question here is not whether Anwar was stripped naked to be examinesd but whether the examination was indicated at that particular time in the first place. What puzzles one is the way it was carried out. Why was the need to rush in for an “emergency” medical examination at night on a person suspected of sodomy that is believed to have taken place more than 2 weeks before?

Medical examination of those involved in rape and sodomy are part of routine police investigations but it should be done professionally and fairly regardless of social status or political ideology. There should be no interference and influence from outside parties. It would be morally wrong to use medical examinations and procedures for desired political motives.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anwar vs Shabery in historic debate (1 of 8)

The historic debate

Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek should be commended for organizing the historic debate with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on the oil price hike. It was immaterial who emerged the winner in the duel but what mattered was that such a debate truly materialized in our country. That was itself a great success and the government should be praised for allowing such an event that was unprecedented.

The hosting of the debate has won the praise of the vast majority of Malaysians including the opposition. There are many opinions as to who was the winner of the historic debate. To my mind the debate itself was the real winner not Anwar or Shabery. As Shabery puts it was a victory for openness and the real winner was democracy.

The debate was conducted in a highly professional manner and the speakers and audience exhibited tremendous maturity in discussing the issue at hand. It just goes to show that Malaysians today are mature enough for openness and dialogue to overcome the many problems facing them.

They are ready to listen with discern to opposing views and accept what is right and reject what is wrong and the government should build on this readiness of the people to push for a more open system of governance, where opposing views are encouraged. It would the best way to overcome street protests and rallies that are obsolete in this modern era of Information Technology.

Whether Anwar can bring the fuel price down is not the point as he is not in a position to do so. However he has put forth his ideas on fighting the increasing fuel costs that is becoming a real burden for the people. The government must be receptive to his suggestions. He must not be seen as just an Opposition politician trying to woo support from the people but as an experienced senior citizen who is representing the voices of almost 50% of the voters and one who has the heart of the well being of the rakyat.If the suggestions of the debaters are ignored if would defeat the very purpose for which it was intended in the first place.

Malaysians in general have responded positively to the debate and they hope this will not be the first and last of such debates. Similar debates to present one’s views on important issues affecting the nation should become the norms in the future and there is a need to inculcate such a mindset of dialogue and debate in our younger generation. There should not be any issue that will be too sensitive for debate as long as it is done in a professionally controlled manner.

The developments in the country since the recent elections show that that the people are ready for a more mature and elitist dialogue and debate on all issues confronting all sections of the population. It is the question of whether our political leaders are ready for such a positive change.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Police mull court action to get DNA

Police mull court action to get DNA(Malaysiakini)

The police does not seem to learn from past experiences.They are not interested to change their ways to serve the people better.They are least interested to gain the confidence of the people whom they are paid to serve.

The problem of DSAI refusing to give his DNA sample to them is because he does not have confidence in their integrity.This was based on his past personal experiences with them.Ten years have passed and it appears that they have still not heeded the call to be transparent,professional and truly independent in their dealings.

This time around instead of trying to change so as to gain the people's confidence,they are trying to force DSAI to submit to their demands by a court order.It may solve their problem for now but will it resore their integrity which is slowly eroding by each passing day?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Anwar-Shabery debate

Debate itself the winner in Anwar-Shabery duel

Anwar and Ahmad Shabery (right) shake hands at the end of the debate. — Picture by Choo Choy May

By Wan Hamidi Hamid

KUALA LUMPUR. July 15 — It doesn't matter who the winner was in the first-ever American-style live TV debate in the country tonight — with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek taking centrestage to argue about fuel price hikes. The real winner was the debate itself.

Concluded quickly within an hour with a format quite similar to the American presidential candidate debates, with a rostrum each for the debater on stage, the most glaring thing for all to see was the quality of debate.

Some may say Anwar, the de facto leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, won the debate as he focused on the issue at hand — the fuel price hike — while Ahmad Shabery, the Information Minister, seemed to take cheap shots at Anwar especially his younger days as a rabble rouser.

Anwar proposed to reduce the current petrol pump price by 50 sen the moment his opposition coalition of PKR, PAS and DAP take over the Federal Government.

"Petronas has announced a special dividend RM6 billion to the government for this year. Why can't I take RM1 billion of that to reduce the petrol price by 50 sen?" he said to applause from a section of the 300-strong audience in the Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka Hall in Kuala Lumpur.

Elaborating further, he promised to slash pump prices further once his Pakatan Rakyat coalition took over, saying it is an initial 50 sen because the Barisan Nasional government had just hiked prices by 70 sen from RM1.92 per litre previously.

The former deputy prime minister made it clear from the start of the debate that he was not questioning national oil company Petronas but his criticisms were directed at the BN government which he alleged was rife with mismanagement and economic abuse, citing Malaysia's high electricity reserves as a waste as it only benefited the independent power producers (IPPs).

A view of the audience watching the debate between the two politicians.

He argued the government could save RM2 billion from reducing electricity reserves, adding an additional RM3 billion to finance the 50-sen reduction can be sourced elsewhere. "Five billion is enough to help lighten the burden on the rakyat. The Perwaja bailout was RM13 billion of government money."

In his reply, Ahmad Shabery argued that "if we continue at RM1.92, it means the government is forced to bear the subsidy of RM50 billion and this means many development programmes, building of schools, roads and improving people's livelihood cannot be implemented.”

"We should know that the price increase is not our doing but due to the world oil price crisis. This is not the first time we have had a world oil crisis. The first time was in 1973-74 when after the Arab-Israeli Ramadan war. Oil price increased by 400 per cent, from US$10 a barrel to US$40 in six months.

"But it was also an important year because the late Tun Razak (the then Prime Minister) set up Petronas in a pressured situation because the world outside pressured us not to take away the rights given to Shell at that time. Shell was set up by the British before they left," he said, also to applause from his supporters.

The information minister also explained that subsidies could not be sustained for a long time because it would hamper real economic growth.

In a question-and-answer session, Ahmad Shabery was asked about the RM4.3 billion savings from an earlier fuel price increase in 2006 that was meant to be used to improve public transport but only RM834 million was used for that purpose, leading people to be cynical about the purported RM13 billion in savings in the latest subsidy cut.

The minister dismissed the question, saying that in 2006 the international fuel price was just US$70 a barrel whereas it has now reached US$140 a barrel, and went on to argue that countries such as Venezuela and Iran which heavily subsidised fuel had very high inflation rates.

Anwar however argued that Malaysia's real inflation rate of some eight per cent was caused by economic mismanagement, not by the global oil price increase. "If the Barisan Nasional says that the fuel price can be increased in a sudden and it will not be followed by increasing price of goods and services, I want to know who teaches them this kind of economic management.

"We're an oil-producing country and for every US$1 increase per barrel, we make RM360 million. Why can't we do something good with this?" Anwar thundered.

To this, Ahmad Shabery argued that Malaysia was not even in the top 20 oil-producing countries list, let alone a major player.

"We're just a small nett exporter of oil. Our profits are only 26 per cent of our oil revenue. The rest we received from the (Petronas) investments. By 2015, when we become a nett importer of oil, will we then adhere to the global price?"

In reply, Anwar said: "Who told us that our oil will deplete in 2015? Thirty years ago Petronas projected that our oil will run out by 2005. It's just a projection. I believe we have a lot more capacity."

When Ahmad Shabery pointed out that Anwar too was responsible for problems pertaining to the IPPs which are still reaping profits despite the current economic situation as he was a Cabinet minister then, the former finance minister demanded a check of record to prove that he had opposed the IPP plans approved by former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Towards the end of the debate, Ahmad Shabery repeated his argument that Anwar was still a rabble rouser and that during Anwar's time in the government he would never allowed others, especially the opposition, to participate in an open debate such as the one held tonight.

Ahmad Shabery had earlier accused Anwar of inciting the people to rise up against the government over claims of poverty in Baling, Kedah in 1974.

Pointing out these were cheap shots, Anwar explained that he was here to debate an economic issue only but would be willing to debate on other matters, including personal allegations against him, at another forum.

Besides a minor fracas before the start of the debate outside the hall as well as a very heavy police presence around the building and the surrounding area, the event, organised by was a largely peaceful event. It was telecast live on TV9 and Astro channels 119, 501 and 502 apart from being webcast by IP Global TV.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Not the time for political game

Let’s get on with serving the rakyat

Four months have gone by since the historic 12th General Elections. The people rose above racial divide and voted for a stronger opposition. There was so much hope that it would pave the way for a two-party system that would provide a better check and balance governance. Unfortunately the very people who were elected to safeguard our interests are failing us miserably. Our aspirations and hopes are being shattered today; with every passing day, there is increasing fear that the nation may be going into in a state of chaos and lawlessness.

Following the elections there was great hope that finally we have voted in an ideal parliament but these hopes were dashed when our parliamentarians proved to be just interested in promoting their self interests rather than that of the people and the nation. The nation is plagued with so many problems that are threatening the well being of the rakyat but unfortunately till today there has been hardly any fruitful debate in parliament to find solutions to these problems.

The most pressing problem facing the people today is the increasing cost of loving brought about by the sudden steep hike in fuel prices. The vast majority from lower income group is finding it almost impossible to cope and if this problem is left unattended very soon many families may be ruined.The situation is very serious and the government needs to act fast.The people are crying for help.Regretably our wakil raayats don’t seem to be perturbed by the plight of the people but continue with petty political squabbles.

Instead of focusing on the issues that are affecting the people, our wakil rakyats, from the BN and Pakatan alike, have chosen to indulge actively to bring down one another with the aim of securing power. They are doing everything else except what they are supposed to do.

The Pakatan should work to strengthen their coalition by adopting a common 'constitution' to guide its members. At state level, it should strive to improve the administration to serve the people better and at the national level act as an effective opposition to check abuses by the ruling party. It should spend more time and energy to do these rather than being preoccupied with attempts to overthrow the duly elected government by the people.

On the other hand the federal government should honor its pledges to give what is due to the people in states controlled by the opposition. It is morally wrong and may even be constitutionally wrong to deny what is due to the people just because they have voted for the opposition. It would amount to punishing the people for exercising their constitutional rights. Wouldn’t such acts amount to blackmailing the people?

The ongoing political battle between Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib and the de facto Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, that has gripped the pulse of the nation,is the least the people want at this time of financial crisis that they are facing. Their alleged crimes must are best left to the police to sort out in a professional manner. In fact their cases provide the police the opportunity to convince the people that they can rise above politics to investigate and punish the real culprits in a professional and independent manner. Unless the public trust and confidence in the police and other enforcement agencies are restored, our whole system of parliamentary democracy will be nothing but a mockery.

The people at large are sick of personalized politics that is going on and want their wakil rakyats to get down to the serious tasks entrusted to them. They have tremendous work ahead to combat the spiral effects of fuel price hikes, implement a more effective and strategic economic plan to to fight inflation,a plan that would benefit all the people. If the government fails to do that we may not withstand the assault of the global economic tsunami that is poised strike our shores in the very near future.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Historic Parliament after historic GE14

  New Parliament symbol of hope and democracy Congratulations to all our newly elected MPs. The first session of the 14th ...