Thursday, July 31, 2008


Top Thai court hits Thaksin over Myanmar loans

BANGKOK (July 30, 2008) :

Thailand's Supreme Court said on Wednesday it would hear a case against ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra relating to allegations he arranged soft loans to Myanmar while in office to benefit his family's telecoms business.

The court's decision is the latest blow to Thaksin's bid to clear his name after his removal in a 2006 military coup, in which he was accused of "rampant corruption".

Given the general perception that he is the driving force behind the coalition that came to power after an election in December, it is also another blow to an administration already being hammered by the courts, nationalists and an ailing economy.

An army-appointed graft panel has accused Thaksin of ordering a state bank in 2004 to increase the size of a loan to the military-ruled former Burma to buy telecoms equipment from a company owned by Thaksin's family.

The deal caused the bank to lose 670 million baht (US$20 million), the panel alleged. Thaksin has denied any wrongdoing.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is expected to reshuffle his cabinet this week, although it is hard to see the move deflecting criticism from an administration under attack for being a Thaksin proxy.

A small party announced its departure from the coalition on Tuesday, but Samak said this would not derail his plans to submit a list of new ministers to the king for approval.

"It won't affect the cabinet reshuffle," he told reporters in answer to a question about the withdrawal of the Pue Pandin (For the Motherland) party from the coalition.

Announcing the departure, Pue Pandin boss and Industry Minister Suvit Khunkitti criticised Samak's push to amend the 2007 army-designed constitution and his handling of the economy at a time of stuttering growth and decade-high inflation.

"We think amending the constitution is less important than tackling the economic problems," Suvit said. "But when parliament convenes in August, the government is going to amend the charter."

He also had scathing words for the government's conduct in a nationalist spat with Cambodia over competing claims to a 900-year-old Hindu temple on their border.

Samak has kept unusually quiet about the planned new line-up, saying only that it will involve 10 portfolios.

A respected career diplomat, Tej Bunnag, was appointed foreign minister at the weekend to replace Noppadon Pattama -- Thaksin's lawyer -- who was forced to resign over the Preah Vihear temple dispute with Cambodia.

However, newspapers are speculating that Samak's new cabinet will contain a host of Thaksin loyalists.

"The names of new ministers being speculated on in the newspapers suggest that those who have been loyal to Mr. Thaksin are being favoured," political commentator Sukhum Nuanskul told Reuters. - Reuters



Bush approves housing rescue bill

House for sale in Illinois
The US housing market slump has hurt the wider US economy

US President George W. Bush has signed into law a bill designed to help struggling US homeowners and prop up the battered US housing market.

The new law creates a $300bn (£150bn) rescue fund to help thousands of homeowners get cheaper loans.

It may also be used to bail out the struggling mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which own or guarantee around half the nation's mortgage debt.

The White House said the bill would boost confidence in the housing market.

It said the bill was designed to help hundreds of thousands of Americans trapped by mortgages they can no longer afford.

They will be offered the chance to refinance their debts with state-backed, fixed-rate loans.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said that the Federal Housing Administration would begin right away to implement the legislation that is "intended to keep more deserving American families in their homes".

However, the bill's critics have said it will cost US taxpayers billions of dollars, and query the wisdom of bailing out irresponsible homeowners or unscrupulous lenders.

Reposessions soar

According to US research firm RealtyTrac, the number of US homes in some stage of foreclosure more than doubled between April and June from the previous year.

The figures showed that one in every 171 US households was in he process of losing their home - up 121% on last year.

The problems in the housing market stem from sub-prime lending to those with poor credit histories.

Many of these borrowers have been unable to keep up with their mortgage repayments, and now face losing their homes.

This in turn has hurt the many financial institutions worldwide that invested in instruments linked to sub-prime mortgages.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae do not lend directly to homebuyers, instead buying mortgage debt from approved lenders such as banks, and then selling it on to investors.

Their shares have plunged in recent months on fears that they will not be able to cover their losses.

The new law expands a temporary line of US Treasury credit to the two firms and gives the government the option to buy their shares in them if they ran into trouble.



Text messages link MCA's Wee in 'sex scandal'

JOHOR BARU: Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong is being dragged into a "sex scandal".
He is alleged to have been involved with a student from China whom he helped to settle a problem several years ago.

Text messages via the short messaging system (SMS) have been circulating over more than a week, predicting that Wee would be forced to resign his government and MCA posts under the same circumstances which forced out former health minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Dr Chua gave up all his posts early this year when a VCD of him having sex with a woman in a hotel surfaced.

Wee, who is the MCA Youth secretary-general, lodged a report at the Central police station on Friday, after learning that the text messages had been circulating since July 22.
One of the messages read: "To whom it may concern: Countdown 90 days. Dr Wee Ka Siong will resign from all the posts by 20 Oct 2008 just as Dr Chua."

Wee said the text message was a clear attempt to tarnish his image, and was initiated to coincide with the run-up to the MCA's divisional elections last week.

Wee, who won the Johor Baru MCA division chief post uncontested on Sunday, is now eyeing either the Youth chief post or even a vice-president's post in MCA.

He claimed he knew the person who initiated the circulation of the text message.

"I am not afraid of this person who is clearly out to tarnish my image. There has been some bad blood between this person and me since my days as chief of the Johor Baru MCA public complaints bureau."

Wee said Datuk Michael Chong, head of the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department, had in 2002 asked him to help a student from China who had allegedly been swindled of RM100,000.

She had given the man the money to help her further her studies here.

"I organised a press conference on behalf of the student and I believe this person has been nursing a grudge against me since that incident."

He added that the person who initiated the "vicious SMS" had also lodged a police report against him and Chong alleging defamation after the media had highlighted the case.

"Let it be known to the public as I am sure of my innocence."

When contacted, Chong said he remembered the case.

He said the man, posing as a Mara education agent, duped the girl into paying RM100,000 to study in a college in Johor.

"The girl came to Malaysia, only to find that her offer letter turned out to be a fake," he said.

Chong said the case was forwarded to Wee because he was the party's Education Bureau chief and also in charge of public complaints in Johor.

"As far as I remember, the case was settled and the girl returned safely to China with some compensation," he said.

Johor Baru district police chief ACP Zainuddin Yaacob confirmed the police report but declined to disclose the details of the investigations.

It was learnt that police had recorded the statement of the person who Wee alleged is the one who started the text message. He is believed to be the founder and chief executive of a Chinese education group based here.



Dead gunman linked to several violent crimes


Pistols, machine guns, ammo and other weapons found after Subang Jaya
shootout with former Deva Gang member

THE gunman shot dead by police at midday yesterday on busy SS14 Subang Jaya is believed to have heavily armed himself after he split with the vicious Deva Gang and paired off with another gang member.

He is thought to have double teamed with his accomplice to pull off a string of robberies that included recent strikes on jewellers in the Klang Valley.

Soon after the shootout, police discovered a cache of weapons at the house he had occupied in SS14/2A. The cache included several pistols, large machine guns, including an older version of the M-16, several hundred rounds of ammunition, two sledgehammers and fake guns.

Some jewellery was also found at the premises. A red and black Yamaha LC 125, similar to the one seen by witnesses at a jewellery heist at the Giant hypermarket in Kelana Jaya last month, was also spotted there.

The gunman is thought to have struck a number of jewellery outlets located in hypermarkets with an accomplice, who became known for waving to the shop employees before sauntering off with the loot. According to police sources, he could have amassed all that heavy weaponry solely for his heists and that it was unlikely that he was a gunrunner.

The search is on for his accomplice. The Deva Gang is believed to have pulled off several daring robberies, including the brazen robbery at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on June 9 when four gunmen escaped with almost RM3.5 million after a violent shootout. Police had detained four men aged between 23 and 30 in Johor soon after the KLIA incident.

Speculation is also rife whether the gunman could be a suspect in a murder case in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam early March.

Selangor police acting CID chief ACP Omar Mammah could not confirm or deny the man's involvement but said that Selangor police chief DCP Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar would hold a Press conference on the shooting today.

The shootout yesterday was the second in the Klang Valley in less than 24 hours, each bringing the ferocious crime sprees of two wild fugitives to a bloody end. The first happened at about 12.15am yesterday when the Myanmar Gang leader, suspected of countless drug, murder and gang fight offences, was killed in a shootout with police near the Selayang wholesate market.

In the Subang Jaya incident, police had trailed the gunman from Bangsar before blocking off his Naza Ria near a curb along Jalan SS14/2 at the commercial centre of Subang Jaya. Police then ordered the man to exit his vehicle. It is learnt police fired several shots, some of them through the driver's side windshield, when the man drew a semi-automatic Smith & Wesson pistol and fired at them.

It was not immediately clear how many shots the suspect had fired.

"We trailed the suspect after policemen noticed him behaving suspiciously.

Police are investigating the man's involvement in previous cases," ACP Omar said.



Anwar: "I don't fear arrest."
Tim Leonard

KUALA LUMPUR (July 30, 2008) : Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today went to the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) where he handed over a copy of a medical report by Hospital Pusrawi based on an examination done on his accuser Saiful Bukhari Azlan that showed no signs of sodomy.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim surrounded by reporters at
Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court today.
He also submitted other 'evidence' to support his complaint lodged with the department on July 9 that the 23-year-old man had made false accusations against him.

"I was asked what other evidence could be produced to substantiate my claims, other than medical evidence and alibi, and I have done all these...which is somewhat similar to the normal criminal cases conducted by the police," Anwar told reporters after spending close to two hours at the department.

He was accompanied by his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, his lawyers and friends.

He praised Jawi investigators as being more professional than the police.

"I can sense the manner questions asked was more professional...wanting to know the facts and not in an accusing tone," he said.

Anwar said there was no reason why the police should charge him for sodomy because there was no proof.

Despite rumours of his imminent arrest published in blogs and newspapers, Anwar declared that he was not afraid of being arrested.

The rumours had prompted scores of local and foreign journalists and photographers to posiition themselves in front of his house in Bukit Segambut.

"Let me remind that this country is not a police state. The decision (to charge) must be based on facts and law. If they (police) follow the law, then the facts, the alibi and the medical report is enough to drop the case," he said,.

It has been a month since the sodomy report was lodged, and it is learnt police have yet to complete the investigation.

Anwar later lashed out at Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan.

Asked to respond to Syed Hamid's comment that he (Anwar) was not co-operating with the police, Anwar said: "Ask Syed Hamid if he is willing to be stripped naked and his private parts examined and made to sleep on a cement floor.

"I have cooperated all this while. So why is he (Syed Hamid) saying that I am not co-operating (with the police)?" he asked

Syed Hamid was referring to the fact that Anwar had refused to offer his DNA sample, which Anwar reportedly said he feared would be tampered with.

Anwar said he also did not fear the Kuala Lumpur Hospital's medical report on Saiful as he believed it would vindicate him.

He said if the medical examination and investigations were done professionally, like the one done by Pusrawi, he believed the authorities would come up with the same conclusion that he did not sodomise anybody.

The authorities had said they would stand by the HKL report, which is normally done in any such investigation.

A copy of the medical report on Saiful, carried out by a Myanmar doctor attached with Pusrawi allegedly claims there were no signs of sodomy.

Anwar said his reform agenda and his intention to run for Parliament are still on track despite the possibility of arrest.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008


WeirdNews> Politician gets back stolen bike

LONDON: British opposition leader David Cameron has been reunited with his stolen bicycle thanks to a tabloid newspaper and a supporter of the rival Labour Party, the paper reported last Sunday.

The Conservative party leader, often photographed riding his bike to work at the House of Commons, realised that it was stolen after he left it outside a supermarket near his west London home last Wednesday evening.

The Sunday Mirror said it located the bicycle — dumped in a nearby street — with the help of 60-yearold resident Ernest Theophile, who enlisted neighbourhood youths to trace it. "You never want to see anyone have their bike nicked (stolen) — not even a Tory," he was quoted as saying.

The Conservative Party confirmed that the newspaper had returned the bike to Cameron.

Cameron, 41, uses the bicycle to commute from his home in trendy Notting Hill to Parliament to highlight his party's commitment to green issues. — AP



'Missing' doc's report sparks more confusion

By Yushaimi Yahaya, Frankie D'Cruz. Badrolhisham Bidin, Teoh El-Sen and Najiha Najib
Doc in the Anwar mix

DOCTOR Mohamed Osman Abdul Hamid, the newest player in the second Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sodomy scandal, has triggered a sequel that has sparked off another round of confusion.

A medical report attributed to the doctor of Hospital Pusrawi that claims that Anwar's accuser, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, was not sodomised and, now, his sudden 'disappearance' are taking centrestage this time around.

At Press time, the whereabouts of Dr Mohamed Osman, a Myanmar Muslim, was not known. His employer, Hospital Pusrawi (Pusat Rawatan Islam), said he was on leave. His 'disappearance' is being likened to that of private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, who was hired by one of the accused in the murder trial of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaaribu.

P.I. Bala disappeared after making two conflicting statutory declarations that fuelled speculation, leaving a trail of accusations and denials.

Barely 24 hours after making public the first statutory declaration in which he alleged that police had omitted vital information in the Altantuya case, P.I.Bala made an about-turn and withdrew parts of it.

Police had said there were three likely possibilities for Bala's disappearance: he could be hiding out of fear; he does not want to co-operate in investigations; or he has been 'forced' to go into hiding by certain parties.

Transparency International Malaysia president Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said that in the wake of the latest developments the police should expedite investigations into Dr Mohamed Osman's "revelations" to clear the air.

"The matter is getting out of hand as there are so many conflicting reports.

The authorities must come clean on this," he said.

Institute of Public Relations Malaysia president Datuk Hamdan Adnan said police should either drop the case against Anwar or charge the so-called victim if there was truth in the doctor's report.

"There are too many question marks in the case," he said, adding the authorities should resolve the matter soon.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar told Malay Mail that contrary to speculation, Dr Mohamed Osman was never "arrested" but was only interviewed for a short while.

He said that police recorded his statement but that it was untrue that they had detained him for three days.

"Many things have been said and reported that are not true," he said, adding that "police have been very transparent and professional in handling this case".

Asked why Anwar was arrested even after a statement from Dr Mohamed Osman had already been taken, Ismail declined comment, saying investigations are ongoing.

Ismail was reported as saying police were considering investigating a "news website and a blog over their reports".

Online news portal Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today had reported that there was no evidence that Saiful was sodomised, according to Dr Mohamed Osman who examined him for four hours before he lodged a police report alleging he was sexually assaulted by Anwar, the de facto Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader.

Saiful, Anwar's former aide, is said to have gone to two different hospitals on June 28, the day he lodged the police report claiming that he was sodomised by his ex-boss.

He first went to Hospital Pusrawi at Jalan Tun Razak about 2pm, complaining of 'tenesmus', a medical term for difficulty and pain in passing motion. He had alleged he was assaulted by the intrusion of a piece of "plastic" in the anus. He was examined by Dr Mohamed Osman, the medical officer on duty.

It was reported that Dr Mohamed Osman, in his medical report which was recorded at 2.14pm, found "zero active bleeding", "zero ulcer or pus", "zero tear and scar" in Saiful's anus.

In his report's concluding remarks, he advised Saiful to go to a government hospital so as "to rule out" assault and sodomy.

At 6pm that day, Saiful went to Hospital Kuala Lumpur for his second medical examination. He subsequently lodged a report against Anwar at the hospital police beat base.

Malaysiakini reported that the police had recorded statements from Dr Mohamed Osman after Saiful lodged the report against Anwar.

The doctor was said to be under tremendous stress as a result of the police interrogation over a number of days and was advised by the hospital to take leave.



Top US astronaut welcomes space tourism

The commander of the latest US shuttle mission Tuesday welcomed the advent of space tourism, predicting that such travel is on the brink of the massive growth seen a century ago with airplanes.

"The private sector can go out and make money doing something that only governments now do. You really are going to see an expansion of the industry," Discovery commander Mark Kelly said.

Kelly's comments came hours after Virgin Galactic, owned by British tycoon Sir Richard Branson, unveiled in the California desert a futuristic aircraft dubbed WhiteKnightTwo that will ferry tourists into suborbital space.

"In the early part of the 20th century when airplanes first started to fly, there were initially some advancements but only when companies started doing it to make a profit did it really take off," Kelly said.

US and Japanese space agencies will "likely stay on the forefront of space exploration," he said. "But the other stuff like flying in Earth's orbit is going to take off with space tourism."

Virgin Galactic is hoping to send its first paying customers 110 kilometres (70 miles) above the Earth in 2010. The company has said more that more than 200 passengers have already signed up for the first flights, which will cost 200,000 dollars each.

"I think the company is going to be successful. I'm pretty excited about it," Discovery commander Kelly said.

But he said there "is certainly going to be a lot of risk involved for those passengers," in part because the missions would have less heating than US shuttles.

Kelly said that for now space flights would likely be limited to short travel involving shooting up and shooting back down to Earth.

Virgin Galactic mission would go five times the speed of sound, while Discovery travelled 25 times as fast, he said.

"There is a much greater technical challenge to go into orbit around the Earth. You've got to get going a lot faster," he said.




Five, including two workshop managers, detained by ACA
By : Zarina Abdullah


Five people, including two workshop managers, have been detained by the Anti-Corruption Agency in connection with the probe on the high maintenance cost of Proton Perdana V6 Executive cars used by state executive councillors.

State ACA director Sharudin Sapian said so far, 20 people including mechanics and civil servants, have had their statements recorded to assist the investigations.

Sharudin, however, refused to comment if the workshop managers were operating within Kuala Terengganu or outside the state capital.

“If necessary, we will not hesitate to call executive councillors to give their statements. We hope to complete our investigations into the case as soon as possible,” he said.

articles source:


Angry passengers crash computers, desks

BEIJING (July 29, 2008) :
Scores of Chinese air passengers smashed computers and desks and clashed with police on Tuesday after a night stranded at an airport without accommodation, state media said.

More than 170 passengers were due to leave Kunming, capital of southwestern Yunnan province, on three flights operated by China Southern Airlines late on Monday, but the flights were cancelled due to bad weather, Xinhua news agency said.

"All the passengers had to spend the night on the planes or in the departure hall," Xinhua said. "No one came to tend to their food and board."

The passengers clashed with airport police on Tuesday morning, smashing computers and desks, Xinhua said, blaming the melee on China Southern staff's "inappropriate working attitude".

At around 2am, many of the passengers -- including toddlers and people over 60 -- took taxis to a hotel where China Southern said they could stay, only to be turned away once they arrived, Xinhua said.

Frustration at mysterious delays, diversions and cancellations have at times boiled over into violence at Chinese airports as passengers try to storm grounded aircraft and police are brought in to keep the peace.

There have also been cases in which passengers, after delayed arrivals, have refused to get off the planes in protest. - Reuters



Lawyer: Abdul Razak never meant to hurt Altantuya

By Maria J.Dass

SHAH ALAM (July 29, 2008) : Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda never intended to hurt Altantuya Shaariibuu and the surrounding circumstances of the case which corroborates with his affidavit proves this, his counsel Wong Kian Keong told the murder trial today.

"Abdul Razak never retracted his affidavit which stands to be scrutinised by all and sundry. It is an affidavit of truth and proves that the accused is innocent beyond a reasonable doubt," he said during his submission for the trial proper.

Wong said the surrounding circumstances and corroborating testimonies by prosecution witnesses show that Abdul Razak never meant to harm Altantuya and instead chose to play "the waiting game" – which was to wait until she had exhausted all her finances following which she would return to her home in Mongolia.

"This he had made known to private investigator Balasubramaniam who testified that Abdul Razak paid him RM4,000 for protection services required until Altantuya ran out of cash and returned home," he said.

"He never told Balasubramaniam to harm Altantuya," Wong said, adding that all this showed that Abdul Razak had intended that Altantuya returned safely to Mongolia.

Abdul Razak had also made his relationship to Altantuya known to his wife Mazlinda, daughter Rowena, parents and staff Siti Aisyah Mohd Azlan, Wong said.

He added that Abdul Razak also appointed lawyer Dhiren Rene Norendra and contacted police officers who are duty bound to uphold the law including DSP Musa Safri who had referred him to officers at the Brickfields police station.

He also told Siti Aisyah that a police Special Action Unit (UTK) officer C/Insp Azilah Hadri would be coming to the office and to show him in when he showed up.

"All this are not consistent with the behaviour of a person planning a murder," Wong argued.

"His family and neighbours too knew what was happening and Abdul Razak had even asked Musa what happened to Altantuya as mentioned in the affidavit," he said of Abdul Razak's openness.

He said Abdul Razak had only met Azilah once and had never known or met Cpl Sirul Azhar Umar, adding that it was unlikely that he would appoint two police officers to carry out a murder instead of a hired killer.

"Furthermore, he would not have been so stupid as to allow Altantuya to be abducted from in front of his house for everyone to see if his intention was to murder her," Wong added.

Azilah and Sirul both UTK personnel are charged with murdering the Mongolian woman at Mukim Bukit Raja between 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am on Oct 20, 2006 while Abdul Razak is charged with abetting them.

Wong also argued that the charge against Abdul Razak was defective based the manner of the charge, the 36 hour time-frame given, (between 9.54am on Oct 18 and 9.55pm on Oct 19) and because the specific place of where the purported event took place was never mentioned. The charge only states the place as Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, he said.

Wong added that the testimony of prosecution witness L/Cpl Rohaniza Roslan who is facing impeachment should not be thrown totally out as some of the statements can be adduced.

He was referring mainly to a statement by Rohaniza that she did not know Abdul Razak, which Wong said was corroborated by a witness from telecommunication company Maxis Goh Peng Chew who clarified that there were no call transactions between the two.

Judge Datuk Mohd Zaki Md Yasin commented that some people who knew each other never called one another.

Wong will tomorrow be submitting on six grounds as to why Abdul Razak is innocent. He said these are:

> Overwhelming credible prosecution evidence to prove that Abdul Razak is innocent of the abetment charge

> No direct nor circumstantial evidence to prove circumstantial evidence to prove Abdul Razak committed the abetment charge.

> Totality of the prosecutions evidence clearly raises at the very least, a reasonable inference that Abdul Razak did not commit the abetment charge which should be adopted by the court.

> There should is more than reasonable doubt about the third accused guilt in the abetment charge.

> Adverse inferences should be drawn against the prosecution for failure to call certain material witnesses and to explain how Abdul Razak was alleged to have been the registered user of phone number 012-9042042 which was co-related in telephone logs prepared by CyberSecurity Malaysia Bhd.

>The abetment charge is defective for not specifying the manner, approximate time and place of the alleged abetment which irreparably prejudices Abdul Razak’s defence.



Wednesday July 30, 2008

Obama, Bernanke discuss U.S. economic risks

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama met Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday, discussing the risk of further deterioration in a weakening U.S. economy.

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama speaks alongside his top economic advisors during a roundtable meeting at a hotel in Washington, July 28, 2008. Obama met Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday, discussing the risk of further deterioration in a weakening U.S. economy. (REUTERS/Jason Reed)

With U.S. economic troubles taking center stage in his battle for the White House with Republican rival John McCain, the Illinois senator met Bernanke at the Federal Reserve for about 40 minutes after speaking with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson by telephone in the morning.

"Senator Obama had an informative meeting with Chairman Bernanke at the Federal Reserve about the health of the U.S. economy and the risks of further economic deterioration," Obama's Senate spokesman Michael Ortiz said.

"Senator Obama made clear his respect for the independence of the Federal Reserve System and the special importance of its role during periods of economic uncertainty," Ortiz said.

Polls show the faltering U.S. economy has become the top issue by a wide margin in the Nov. 4 election contest with McCain, and Obama has turned his focus to potential solutions during two days of meetings with economic leaders and advisers in Washington.

A campaign adviser said Obama had wanted to talk with Bernanke about the U.S. housing crisis and what he saw as the need for tighter financial regulation and more fiscal stimulus to boost the economy.

Obama wanted the Fed chairman to give him "an update on where the economy is and where it's going," the adviser said, and was "not there to tell Bernanke how to do his job."

Obama reminded Paulson in the phone call that he supported housing legislation passed by Congress last week and now awaiting President George W. Bush's signature.

The measure gives the Treasury secretary wide discretion to extend a financial lifeline if needed to the two companies that are the largest source of U.S. home finance. Obama urged him to use that discretion to help homeowners, Ortiz said in a statement.


"The two men agreed that Washington must restore confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a way that protects the taxpayer and our financial system, and that we must reform and modernize our regulatory structure to avoid these problems in the future and protect average Americans," Ortiz said.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman said there would be no comment on the phone call with Paulson. The Federal Reserve had no comment on the Obama-Bernanke meeting.

McCain spokesman Taylor Griffin said the Arizona senator also "regularly consults with a range of experts including Bernanke and Paulson and has done so for years."

"Barack Obama's confused economic plans make it clear that he lacks experience on economic issues and has a great deal to learn," Griffin said. "Hopefully his meetings will help him to understand that raising taxes in a slowing economy is a sure way to kill jobs."

Obama organized the sessions with Bernanke and Paulson last week as he was traveling overseas because he kept seeing bad economic news from home, an adviser said. Obama's trip took him to Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.

Obama met in Washington on Monday with an all-star group of business and economic experts, including billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who participated by telephone, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Obama also made another stop on Tuesday, his second in two days, at the downtown office of former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, who is heading his search for a running mate.

Obama expressed confidence in Bernanke during an interview with Reuters on Saturday, saying he had made some good decisions in difficult circumstances.

In a move that some criticized as a bailout, the Fed came to the rescue of investment bank Bear Stearns by helping to broker its takeover by J.P. Morgan Chase. The Fed and Treasury also offered a financial lifeline to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The moves marked an expansion of the Fed's role in the financial system that has made some wary.

Bernanke's term as head of the U.S. central bank ends in January 2010 and the next president, who will take office in January 2009, will decide whether to nominate him for another term.



Tuesday July 29, 2008 MYT 3:53:08 PM

Anwar: Drop the case (Update 3)

PETALING JAYA: PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed that the medical report leaked on Monday confirmed that the sodomy allegations against him were baseless and were politically-motivated.

He urged the police to stop their investigation and to send the medical report to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and classify the case under “no further action.”

The medical report from Hospital Pusrawi, signed by Dr Mohamed Osman Abdul Hamid at 2.14pm on June 28, was leaked on the Internet on Monday.

The report said that there was no medical indication that Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, Anwar’s 23-year-old former aide, had been sodomised.

In the report, Dr Mohamed Osman had also recommended that Mohd Saiful go to a government hospital for further check-up.

In KUALA LUMPUR, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said that the case won't be dropped based just on the medical report.

"This is just one aspect of the investigation. The police are piecing together evidence, let them do their job and complete their investigation," he said.

"As it is, they haven't charged Anwar with anything yet," he noted.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, editor of news portal Malaysia Today which first carried the medical report, also claimed that Dr Mohamed Osman had gone into hiding because the police wanted him to change his medical report to implicate Anwar.

The police have denied that allegation.

“We interviewed the doctor in the early stages of our investigations following the police report lodged by Mohd Saiful,” said Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar.

“But we did not arrest the doctor or detain him for three days as alleged by the Malaysia Today report. We don’t have any plans to do so either,” he said.

In GOPENG, (PKR) vice-president Dr Lee Boon Chye went one step further and said the police should act against Mohd Saiful for lodging a false police report against Anwar.

Speaking at the opening of the Gopeng PKR service centre here on Tuesday morning, the Gopeng MP said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan should stop all investigations into the sodomy claim against the Opposition de facto leader.

Based on the medical report, "Saiful should be arrested for lodging a false report against Anwar and the IGP should also stop all investigations into the claim," Dr Lee added.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Tuesday July 29, 2008 MYT 11:41:49 AM

KFCH still attractive, cheap valuations

KUALA LUMPUR: KFC Holdings (Malaysia) Bhd (KFCH) remains a buy at RM6.35 and Aseambankers Equity Research says there is more upside for the counter due to the cheap valuations.

In a report issued Tuesday, it said other factors were the potentially better capital management in the second half of 2008, and more remotely, a chance at privatisation.

On the consumption trends in the first half of 2008 (1H08), it estimated KFCH’s 1H08 revenue rose more than 20% year-on-year from the RM808mil in the previous corresponding period.

The increase was underpinned by a by 2%-3% store network expansion and 12% same store sales (SSS) growth at the Malaysian KFCH chain.

“Strong consumption trends were driven by the government’s fiscal measures, innovative new products (Triple XL Burger, Breakfast menu) and effective marketing promotions such as KFC’s 400th store celebration set meals,” it added.

Aseambankers Research said despite the firm earnings momentum anticipated for 2Q08, it was maintaining its 2008 forecasts in anticipation of consumption slowdown and margin erosion.

“We expect SSS to slow to mid single-digit levels in 2H08, as consumers curtail their discretionary spending as inflation chips away disposable income (July’s inflation rate rose to 7.7%).

“We expect gross margins to ease further in 2Q08-3Q08 as an estimated 3% average price hike at the Malaysian KFC restaurants is insufficient to offset rising raw material costs,” it added.

Aseambankers Research said the 1Q08 earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins had eased 0.8 percentage point year-on-year and 1.0 percentage point year-on-year due to rising costs.

In 2Q08, average soybean and corn prices rose 77.6% and 69.5% year-on-year (up 4% and up 22% quarter-on-quarter) to US$13.81 per bushel and US$6.29 per bushel respectively. Current soybean and corn prices were at US$14.1 per bushel and US$5.85 per bushel range.

However, the research house expected KFCH shares to gradually re-rate towards year-end, with QSR Brands Bhd expected to soon thereafter raise its stake in KFCH to over 50% (from under 49%).

It also expected KFCH to raise its net dividend payout from the 50% in 2007. It also did not rule out media reports of KFCH being taken private and merged into QSR.

“We maintain our 12-month target price of RM7.60, based on a 30% discount to its revised net asset value (RNAV) of RM10.80, which implies a target mid-2010 price-to-earnings ratio (PER) of 11.3 times,” it said.



China using Olympics as 'pretext' for crackdown: Amnesty

China is using the Beijing Olympics as a pretext to pursue -- and in some cases tighten -- a crackdown on human rights, notably ridding the capital of "undesirables," Amnesty International charged Monday.

Reporting 11 days ahead of the August 8 opening ceremony, the rights group said that despite some minor reforms, authorities had stepped up repression of activists and lawyers to present a picture of stability and harmony.
Amnesty urged the International Olympic Committee and political leaders to do far more to challenge China, warning of even more repressive measures once the spotlight on the Games has faded away.
"Unless the authorities make a swift change of direction, the legacy of the Beijing Olympics will not be positive for human rights in China," it warned.

"In fact, the crackdown on human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers has intensified because Beijing is hosting the Olympics."

Amnesty's report, citing specific cases, said activists who had tied their cause to the Games had been singled out for the pre-Olympics "clean-up," while many others were being detained, imprisoned or placed under house arrest.

"Authorities have used the Olympic Games as a pretext to continue and in some respects, intensify existing policies and practices that have led to serious and widespread violations of human rights," the report added.

It listed a series of recommendations urging China to:

- release all prisoners of conscience;

- stop police arbitrarily detaining activists and dissenters;

- impose a moratorium on the death penalty;

- allow complete media freedom; and

- account for those killed or detained in Tibet.

"It is very disturbing that Chinese authorities have indulged in such a big crackdown on the activists," Mark Allison, China researcher for Amnesty, told AFP.

"These are people who represent many many more people in China."

Officials were also extending the use of punitive administrative detention, notably of activists and petitioners as well as beggars and peddlers, Amnesty said.

In January, Beijing police launched a campaign against "illegal activities that tarnish the city's image and affect the social order," it noted.

In May, authorities adopted a "re-education through labour" law to control various types of "offending behaviour."

In June, authorities in Shanghai sent notices to activists and petitioners ordering them to report to the police every week and barring them from leaving without permission or visiting Beijing until after the Games.

A clampdown on journalists has also intensified in recent months, Amnesty said, citing figures from the Foreign Correspondents Club of China showing as many as 230 cases of reporters being obstructed from interviews this year so far, compared to 180 cases in the whole of last year.

Internet controls have also been tightened up and many websites closed down for providing information deemed sensitive, the group noted.

Amnesty said that journalists working from Beijing's Olympic press centre were unable to access the group's website, as well as those of the BBC, Germany's Deutsche Welle, Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, and Taiwan newspaper Liberty Times.

"This flies in the face of official Chinese promises to ensure 'complete media freedom' for the Games," said Allison.

Such tactics raised concerns that officials would seek to block broadcasts of anything deemed sensitive or inappropriate, despite public commitments by organisers not to cut coverage.

Amnesty said China's crackdown in Tibet earlier this year, and restrictions on reporting there, highlighted the authorities' ongoing censorship.

It urged the IOC and the international community to express concerns publicly and press China to fulfil its obligations on human rights and dissent.

"The danger now becomes that after the Olympic Games, these patterns of serious human rights violations may continue or intensify with even less attention paid by the international community than has been the case so far," it said.



Anwar to comment today?

DATUK Seri Anwar Ibrahim was expected to have held a media conference at the PKR headquarters about noon today on the leaked medical report that his accuser, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 23-year-old university dropout, was
not sodomised.

DATUK Seri Anwar Ibrahim was expected to have held a media conference at the PKR headquarters about noon today on the leaked medical report that his accuser, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 23-year-old university dropout, was not sodomised.

He could not be reached for comment last night on the medical report, which supporters say backs the defector PKR leader's claim of innocence.

Police, however, have slammed the report as sabotage and meant to confuse the public.

PKR secretary-general Salehuddin Hashim said the leaked medical report confirms the party's stand that the allegations against Anwar were "without merit and politically motivated".

He added that it further eroded public confidence in the police investigations into this case.

"Why has this medical report surfaced only today, over one month after the allegations were made, after Anwar spent a night in jail, and after the police had spent so much time and money on this case?" Salehuddin asked in a Press statement issued yesterday evening.

He also noted the reports that Dr Mohamed Osman had been interrogated by the police for three days and that, as a result, the doctor and his family had since gone into hiding. "Every assurance must be given for his safety and protection," Salehuddin said.

Anwar's lawyer, Sankara Nair said that the legal team would discuss the latest developments.

Saiful has claimed he was sodomised several times, including abroad, on occasions when he had accompanied Anwar.

He also claimed to be Anwar's personal aide but PKR has dismissed him as just a volunteer "coffee boy".

articel source:

Deadly wreck


A 43-year-old administrative assistant was killed in Marang when this car collided head-on with another car at Km50.2 Jalan Kuala Terengganu-Kuantan, near Kampung Jambu Bongkok, yesterday.

Sabanan Yassin, from Kuala Ibai, Kuala Terengganu, was a passenger in the car driven by Mohd Khairul Azali Ramli, 28, a clerk, who broke both legs
and has been admitted to Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital.

State public order and traffic police chief Superintendent Farid Mahmud said Sabanan and Khairul were heading towards Dungun from Kuala Terengganu when the car skidded and spun several times before colliding with the other car.

The driver of the other car, Carl Benjamin Kono, 64, from Kuala Lumpur, escaped unhurt. — NST picture by Noor Asnida Alias

articles source:

Hospitals come under fire

Hospitals come under fire


TWO private hospitals located in Kota Damansara have come under fire from the residents and the business community in the area.

Residents and businessmen claim that the location of the two hospitals would only add to the traffic situation in the township.

One of the hospitals, which have begun ground clearing works, is located on a piece of land adjacent to the Giant hypermarket along Jalan PJU 5/26, next to the Dataran Sunway commercial centre.

Gugusan Dedap residents' association president Zamarudin Zainudin said a hospital should not be built within a commercial area that was prone to traffic congestion.

Project under fire: An aerial view of the hospital site. In the background is Dataran Sunway (white buildings) and a block of commercial shoplots that is under construction.

“Emergency vehicles would have problems getting into the area,” he said.

MBPJ Town Planning Department director Sharipah Marhaini Syed Ali said the hospital must submit a fresh application for approval to the council.

“When the initial building plans were approved, there were no objections from the the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS), the owner of the neighbouring plots. Since residents are now complaining, we have rejected the building plans. They would have to do a comprehensive traffic study and resubmit plans,” she said.

Meanwhile, there are mixed reactions from business operators at Dataran Sunway about the opening of another specialist centre in the area.

The location of the four-block medical centre, occupying the corner lots of the commercial building along Jalan PJU 5/6, opposite The Strand, is said to be not conducive due to the high traffic volume anticipated in area after the opening of the Giant hypermarket.

A businessman who owns several shoplots in the area said due to the anticipated high traffic, it would be difficult for emergency vehicles to gain access to the area.

However, there are others who think otherwise.

Lee Hui Seng said the specialist centre provided medical facility for the residents.

He said Kota Damansara residents needed medical facilities, as the only hospital in the vicinity was the Tropicana Medical Centre, located next to the Segi College.

“But that is a big hospital with ambulance facilities whereas this specialist centre is for outpatient treatments,” he said.

He added the specialist centre would not add to the anticipated traffic jam in the area as unlike shopping malls, people do not visit hospitals everyday.

“Besides, the specialist centre would only generate more business to the area.

“People should view it as a life-saving subject and not as a bad omen,” he said.

Sharipah said the building plans for the specialist centre has been approved.

articles source:

US and Pakistan stress close ties

The US still considers Pakistan a key ally in its "war on terror", President George W Bush has told visiting Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani.

After talks, Mr Bush said Mr Gilani had made a strong commitment to securing Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

The issue has caused strain in recent months, with the US urging Pakistan to move against Islamic militants.

The talks came as a top al-Qaeda figure was reported to have been killed in a missile strike in the border area.

Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, a leading chemical weapons expert who the US says trained militants in Afghanistan, was reportedly killed along with six others in South Waziristan in a strike on Monday.

It was suspected to be a strike by US forces, but this has not been confirmed.

US and Afghan officials say Taleban and al-Qaeda militants have established their strongholds on Pakistan's western border from where they carry out attacks into Afghanistan.

Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar. Pic: Rewards for Justice web site
Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar has been reported killed before

The US has recently expressed misgivings about Pakistan's handling of Islamic militancy in the area, while Pakistan has complained that attacks inside its borders could bilateral relations. On his first trip to Washington since taking power in February's elections, Mr Gilani used the meeting to tell Mr Bush that his country was committed to fighting extremists.

"We talked about the common threat we faced, extremists who are very dangerous people," Mr Bush told reporters during a break in his talks with Mr Gilani.

Missile attacks

On the issue of US missile attacks targeting militants on the Pakistani side of the border, Mr Bush said: "The US respects the sovereignty" of Pakistan.

Mr Gilani stressed Pakistan's desire to improve relations with Washington.

He was also expected to meet the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls, Barack Obama and John McCain.

Despite Mr Bush's public praise, it was expected that Mr Gilani would hear some tough words in Washington, the BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington reports.

The Pakistani prime minister is also scheduled to meet senior US officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

In recent months the US and its allies have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in military and other forms of assistance to help Pakistan's new government tackle militancy in border areas.

Earlier this month, Mr Gates said he was considering sending additional troops to Afghanistan to counter the flow of insurgents from Pakistan.

Washington has also said it is concerned about peace deals that Islamabad has been signing with some of the radical groups in its western tribal-dominated areas.


The Pakistani government says the peace deals will bring stability to the volatile regions.

But Washington argues this gives the militants too much room to manoeuvre and increases the threat to Nato troops across the border.


US military commanders have warned that if there is ever another attack against the US, it will be planned in those areas.

But there will be statements of support - and possibly action - to back them as the US seems keen to encourage the fragile transition from military to civilian rule in Islamabad, our correspondent says.

Last week, President Bush announced that he wanted to allow Pakistan to upgrade its F-16 fighter jets by using two-thirds of the annual counter-terrorism aid it gets from the US.

But the US Congress has criticised the move, saying the jets are not essential to the fight against the militants in the tribal areas.



Monday July 28, 2008 MYT 9:20:20 PM

Twist in sodomy saga (updated)

PETALING JAYA: Police have slammed a news portal report, which claimed that a private hospital doctor who had examined Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan had been arrested.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said the articles were just another attempt by certain quarters to confuse the public over the on-going investigation into Mohd Saiful's police report alleging that he had been sodomised by PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The online articles posted a medical report which said there was “zero active bleeding”, “zero ulcer or pus” and “zero tear and scar” in Mohd Saiful’s anus.

The report from Pusrawi Hospital was signed by Dr Mohamed Osman Abdul Hamid at 2.14pm on June 28.

Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who also carried the report on his website, said this proved that Mohd Saiful was not sodomised by Opposition de facto leader Anwar.

“The police also have a copy of this report that I have published, so they know what I know,” he wrote.

Raja Petra also alleged that Dr Mohamed Osman had gone into hiding because the police wanted him to change his medical report to implicate Anwar.

“There is no truth to these allegations," said the Deputy IGP.

"In fact we interviewed the aforementioned doctor in the early stages of our investigation following the report lodged by Saiful.

“Neither did we arrest the doctor or detain him for three days as alleged in the Malaysia Today article. We do not have any plans to do so either,” Ismail said, declining to comment further.

PKR secretary-general Salehuddin Hashim said there needed to be a complete public disclosure of the facts of the case.

“The medical report appears to confirm what we have always believed – that the allegations against Anwar are without merit and are politically motivated.”

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said: “This is a very disturbing turn of developments and will subject Malaysia to a new spate of international bashing unless the police can come forward to throw light on the first medical report and the whereabouts of Dr Mohamed Osman.”

How the medical report was leaked, which is a breach of patient confidentiality, is unknown, but Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the Malaysian Medical Council must look into the case.

A top Health Ministry official said the leaked report was probably not a full report because it appeared to be documenting only the superficial.

A spokesperson from the hospital said a statement would be issued soon.



Nik Sapeia ordered to enter defence over causing injury to Dr M and three others


The Magistrate’s Court here today ordered businessman Datuk Nik Sapeia Nik Yusoff to make his defence on a charge of causing injury to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and three other people exactly two years ago.

Magistrate Azman Mustapha, in making the order, said the prosecution had made out a prima facie case against Nik Sapeia, 53, who is charged under Section 324 of the Penal Code for injuring them by spraying a substance which posed a danger to the body when inhaled.

Azman set Dec 15 to 19 for the hearing.

If convicted, Nik Sapeia is liable to a maximum of three years jail, or a fine, or whipping, or any two of the penalties.

The offence was allegedly committed at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Pengkalan Chepa here at 11 am on July 28 2006.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Raja Rozela Raja Toran and Khairul Anuar Wahab appeared for the prosecution while Nik Sapeia was represented by Zainal Abidin Mustaffa, Mohd Ilyas Mohd Noor and Datuk Abdul Aziz Nawi.



Ezam prepared to go up against Anwar in by-election

PETALING JAYA (July 28,2008):

Former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Youth chief Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor is prepared to contest against his former boss, PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should there be a by-election for the Bandar Tun Razak parliamentary constituency.

Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor
Mohamad Ezam is now an Umno member told a press conference here today he was prepared to face the former deputy prime minister if the Barisan Nasional (BN) leadership allows him to contest there.

"I'm an ordinary Umno member. So, it is best that the issue of candidacy in the area, more so if it is against Datuk Seri Anwar, be decided by the party leadership," Mohamad Ezam said.

"But I want to stress and reiterate that I'm ready... I'm not afraid to face Datuk Seri Anwar if the party wants me to contest in the by-election," he said, when commenting on Anwar's statement last night that he is likely to contest in the constituency.

The seat is now held by Selangor Menteri Besar and PKR secretary-general Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who is speculated will vacate it to pave the way for Anwar to stand in the by-election.

Meanwhile, commenting on Anwar's claim that there would be up to 30 BN members of parliament crossing over to Pakatan Rakyat to let PKR form the federal government on Sept 16, Mohamad Ezam said the claim was baseless.

"Up until today there has been no proof of the claim. It is just a story crafted to divert the people's attention and not based on a serious agenda," Ezam said, stressing that it would be impossible for Anwar to form the government.

"Today, it is becoming clear that the Pakatan Rakyat is a fragile pact. The crack is appearing and we see this in the statement made by (DAP chairman) Karpal Singh who is unhappy over the dialogue held between PAS and Umno," he said.

"This goes to show that there are indeed internal problems in Pakatan Rakyat and Anwar knows this," he added.