Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dramatic Comeback for Anwar

The new MP for Permatang Pauh, Anwar surrounded by Penang CM Sdr Lim Guan Eng and DAP advisor Sdr Lim Kit Siang. Photo courtesy from The Star

After 10 days of intensed campaigning by both Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional camps, finally the people of Permatang Pauh have delivered their verdict, a bigger support for Anwar and the best Merdeka gift to the nation. Both camps pull in all their resources with BN even to the extend of reducing fuel rate by 15sen and the DAP controlled state government declaring polling day a state holiday to win this crucial by election.

Below are extract from Asiasentinel...

Can the opposition leader translate electoral success into a parliamentary majority?

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim staged a dramatic comeback Tuesday with a victory in a by-election that puts him again at the heart of Malaysian politics. With his apparent return to parliament, he has taken the first step towards his promised ouster of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition as prime minister.

The former deputy prime minister has vowed to take power for the opposition on September 16 by luring ruling coalition lawmakers to his side.

Anwar won about 60 percent of the votes in his rural northern district in Penang in a vote seen as a crucial test of ethnic loyalty in a country where race has long been the determining factor in political success. He soundly drubbed his opponent, Arif Shah Omar Shah, the candidate of the United Malays National Organisation, in a lurid campaign in which a variety of UMNO officials charged him with being a lackey of the United States and world Jewry in addition to having committed sodomy with a former aide.

UMNO also called Anwar a traitor to his race for proposing to replace the countr's 40-year-old New Economic Policy, an affirmative action program for the majority Malay race, with an income-based poverty eradication program. Anwar retaliated by saying UMNO betrayed the Malays because the system has enriched only a rent-seeking elite.

Some 70 percent of the voters in the district are ethnic Malays and Muslims, whose allegiance since the country’s independence has been with UMNO, the leading party in the ruling coalition. It appeared as the polls closed that voters had shrugged off the charges against him. An estimated 70 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.

The big question is not just whether Anwar can convince enough federal lawmakers to cross the line and join the opposition, which currently has 81 lawmakers in the parliament while the Barisan has 140. There are also nagging questions for the stability of Anwar’s unwieldy coalition of his own predominantly ethnic Malay and middle-class Parti Keadilan Rakyat, or People’s Justice Party; the largely Chinese and pro-socialist Democratic Action Party and the Islamic Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS. There have already been serious strains between the fundamentalist PAS and members of the DAP and Keadilan.

Keeping the three ideologically opposed parties from breaking up will require enormous skill and a good deal of luck. Already, the three are fighting for membership, with PAS regarding attempts by the DAP to recruit ethnic Malays as an encroachment on the Islamic party’s turf and vice versa. Many political analysts forecast a long period of instability for what heretofore has been one of Southeast Asia's most stable countries.

For instance, Anwar also could face problems from a bill that governs the use of DNA in criminal cases, which was tabled in the parliament yesterday for second reading over opposition protests. Home Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar rather unconvincingly told reporters the timing of the bill was only coincidental

“There is no sinister motive, don't look at it as though there is one," Syed said yesterday after tabling the bill. Anwar, facing charges that he sodomized a 23-year-old aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, in June, refused to provide DNA to police, saying the sample might be misused in a bid to frame him.

The bill, which appears certain to pass given the current control by the national coalition, provides for compulsory extraction of DNA in sexual abuse cases. It would also provide for the establishment of a forensic DNA Databank, the use of DNA profiles and other provisions. Anyone refusing to give a sample would be liable to a fine of up to RM10,000 and a possible year in prison. Although it would be extremely unusual in commonwealth law to make the bill retroactive, the question is whether previous samples could be used as evidence.

Anwar, once an UMNO star politician and the protégé of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, was ousted from the party and arrested in 1998 on similar charges of sexual perversion. He was forced to give a DNA sample at that time. The charges, which were ultimately reversed after Mahathir left office, resulted in Anwar’s spending six years in prison.

Malaysian politics have been in turmoil since national elections on March 8, when the Barisan lost the two-thirds parliamentary majority it enjoyed for 50 years.

Since that time, UMNO has been engaged in a furious internal struggle, with Mahathir accusing Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi of wrecking the economy and the political structure of the party itself. After charges were laid against the former prime minister for rigging the judiciary for political reasons, he quit the party and has since engaged in an effort to bring down Badawi.

The infighting has sapped the morale of the government and resulted in a descending stock market. Concerns over inflation and magnitude of the loss raise further questions about Abdullah Badawi's leadership and whether there will be more political instability. UMNO nominations start next month, with Badawi a target. UMNO's inability to thwart Anwar in the Pematang Puah by-election, despite the spending of vast amounts of money, doesn't help. Given questions over Badawi's leadership, the rising prices of energy and food have contributed to the souring of voter opinion on the Barisan. Widespread charges of corruption, particularly over the fixing of judicial posts, have also contributed to the malaise.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day trip to Dubai

Closed up view of Burj Dubai taking shape

Burj Dubai stands out among the skyscapers in Dubai

Skylines of Dubai city on the way back to Abu Dhabi

In front of Dragon Mart with Yong

Inside Souk Madinat Shopping Mall

River scene inside Souk Madinat Shopping Mall

Inside Souk Madinat Shopping Mall

Me at the Souk Madinat Shopping Mall river view

Me in front of the Beijing Olympics display at Dragon Mart

Me in front of the entrance of Burj Al-Arab hotel

Me and Yong on the boat ride across the Dhow river.

Scene at the Abra station across the Dhow River

Time passed really fast and I have spent more than a month in Abu Dhabi. Yesterday went over to Dubai for a day trip with Yong and Poh.We took the early bus from Abu Dhabi at 8am and reached Dubai two hours later. The bus ride was quite comfortable and we passed many tall buildings which were either completed or under construction. I was told that a quarter of the world construction machineries are in Dubai, the fastest transformed city in the world. The tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai which is 162 storey high and scheduled to complete by next September 2009 is also located in Dubai, so is the most expensive hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab hotel.

Dubai is a city of fascinating constrasts, offering a distinctive blend of old and new. It’s where East meets West. In less than a century, under the visionary leadership of Dubai’s ruling Al Maktoum family, it has transformed from a small fishing village into a modern city full of surprises.

The first place we visited, the Abra Station where we took the boat ride across the Arabian Dhow River near the commercial district. The river cruise only cost us 1 dirham each and it took only 10 minutes to reach the other side of the city. Board a cab to Dragon Mart which boasts to have about 3,000 shops in the Mall mostly operated by the Chinese. Took quite a number of photos at the Beijing Olympics displays at the Mart. Earlier crossed over the road where there are many blocks of apartments labeled with China and England apartments. Have our noodles at one of the restaurant run by the Chinese near the China’s apartments.

Our next stop was at the most expensive hotel in the world, the towering 7 star Burj Al Arab hotel. Took quite a number of shots at the hotel entrance and the Wild Wadi water park at Jumeirah.Went over to Souk Madinat Shopping Mall which was just a walking distance from the hotel. The shopping mall was quite traditional and they even have restaurants, bars and entertainment.

Cabs ride in Dubai is more expensive than Abu Dhabi and we spend quite a lot on taxi fares. Some ride could cost more than 60 dirham. Turned back by the long quee for the bus to Abu Dhabi and decided to take cab back AD which cost us 50 dirham each.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Permatang Pauh polling on Aug 26 -from Malaysiakini

Latest report from Malaysiakini...Surprisingly the Election Commission have fix the date early inspite of BN still undecided on their candidate.Anwar will win convincingly as it sort of homecoming for him and it will be interesting to see who will be BN candidates and by how many votes Anwar will win...also for the Rakyat to be the judge on his sodomy issue...
Below is the full extract from Malaysiakini...

The Permatang Pauh by-election is slated to be held on Aug 26 (Tuesday) while the nomination day would be on Aug 16 (Saturday), announced the Election Commission this morning.

The EC also said that it would use the latest electoral roll for the by-election, which will see 57,969 registered voters being eligible to vote. There are also 490 postal voters.
The by-election is being called following the stepping down of PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail last week, to allow her husband Anwar Ibrahim to contest.The by-election allows Anwar his chance to go back to the constituency where he began his career 26 years ago. He is the overwhelming favourite to win the seat.Incarcerated in Sg Buloh prison for five years and suspended from running for elections for another five, Anwar is poised to reprise his role as the Permatang Pauh parliamentarian.In 1992, Anwar began his career in the little known Penang seat after beating PAS' Zabidi Ali and DAP's Tan Ah Huat. Despite being a newcomer, Anwar won comfortably with a 14,352-vote margin.Among his PAS victims are vice-president Muhamad Sabu, information chief Mahfuz Omar and Mazani Abdullah.During his imprisonment and suspension, his wife Wan Azizah defended the seat in 1999, 2004 and 2008.The closest Barisan Nasional ever came to wresting the seat from the Anwar family was in 2004 when Wan Azizah managed to hold on to it by a whisker of 590 votes against Umno's Pirdaus Ismail.However, with her husband beside her and the swing in voters' sentiments, Wan Azizah defended her seat with a commanding 13,398-vote margin in the March 8 polls.Although, BN deputy chairman Najib Abdul Razak had said that the coalition will defend the seat, BN has yet to decide on who they will field against the former deputy prime minister in Permatang Pauh.

Friday, August 1, 2008

More news from the Emirates

Me with one of the Emiratis at the Mall

Me at Abu Dhabi Mall

Inside Abu Dhabi Mall

Abu Dhabi Shopping Mall

The subway where I take to go to Lulu Hypermarkets.

Lulu hypermarkets where I usually buy my Filipinos dinner

The laundry shop

My two friendly laundry assistants where I got my laundry done

The Kabus shop

The Pakistanis doing the Roti Nan type of bread called Kabus

My barber shop entrance

The barber shop where I have my haircut done for 10 dirham

Dear Comrades,

It is the beginning of August…weather had yet to reach the peak. Yesterday after our weekly dinner in one of the few Chinese Restaurants in Abu Dhabi, we went to the Gold Centre to shop at the many jewellery shops. There are also many shops selling furniture imported from Malaysia at the centre. Surprisingly there is not a single security guard at any of the gold shops while all the gold and diamond were openly displayed.Malaysian robbers will have a free time over here.

Partly due to the terrible heat over here, I need to have my haircut early and got it done in one of the Indian hair saloon for only 10 dirham. The villa I am staying is located very conveniently to the numerous groceries shops, hair saloon, and some big shopping centre like Al Wahda Mall centre and Lulu Hypermarket. Did my Window Live Messenger with my wife regularly at one of the Internet Café for only 5 Dirham per hour which is also walking distance to my villa.

It hardly rains in AD and there is no drainage system in their building layout.The landscaping here are maintain green by the sprinkle system which run underground.Newspapers here are sold for 3 Dirham but their paper quality are superior with glossy finish and come with 5 sections.