Saturday, July 22, 2006


But will the YTL Bullet Train followed the Japanese or Korean Models? Or the German, French or Spanish ones? These trains are runing at 300 km/hr while the one proposed by YTL is at 216 km/h (325 km in 90 mins. With the historical opening of the express rail in April 2004, Korea has joined the league of France, Japan, Germany and Spain and entered into the super high-speed train era.

The above and below are models of Japan's
Shinkansen - a high speed inter city train with
running speeds of up to 300 km/h (186mph).
YTL Logo inserted

The above and below are models of the
Korean Bullet Train. With construction of
the Seoul ~ Busan KTX line, railway passenger
transportation capacity increased by
3.4 times YTL logo inserted

It looks like it will be a certainty that this Bullet Train would have the Government nod in the coming months. It has so much “icings” that the proposal would be difficult to reject. On the government part, its biggest attraction is it might help the government to realize the 20% Power reserve reduction target. Moreover its funding for this RM8 billion mega project is entirely “private finance initiative” type. But will YTL get it as the government is asking for other options.

In an interview with TV3 Exchange programme , YTL Corp’s MD Tan Sri Francis Yeoh said the proposed bullet train to Singapore would not only help accelerate the country’s economy but it would also help to benefit the energy giant TNB and the IPP producers. He `added that if approved, it should also help the government to realize the 20% power reserve reduction target.

He elaborated further “When the 9MP takes off the consumption of electricity would be enlarge substantially if all the projects go on stream. But this (Bullet Train) is yet another project that would consume electricity more.

“On another note the tariff charge paid by TNB to the IPPs between 14-17 sen per KWh is reasonable.”

He added TNB would have to find ways to reduce its debt burden of RM30 billion.

And this is Bernama’s report

YTL To Submit Bullet Train Proposal Soon To The Government

KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 (Bernama) -- The YTL Group will submit a proposal containing the financial and engineering aspects on the RM8 billion bullet train project between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to the government as soon as possible.

Managing director, Datuk Francis Yeoh Sock Ping, in an interview with TV3's "The Exchange" Friday, said he believed the project was viable and must start now.

"If we do not implement this and physically put it on the ground within five years, I think we could have lost a golden opportunity," he said.

Yeoh said it would take two years to iron out the process and another three years to build it physically, and this would be on fast-track basis.

Furthermore, he said, it would not be difficult to raise the financing which was considered a done deal given the viability of the project and YTL saw no problem finding serious fund managers and investors

Yeoh said the need to start the project fast was, firstly, the technology was cheap, the land cost currently affordable and it would be environmentally-friendly, running on electricity.

"Technology cost in South-East Asia is cheap. YTL was successful in building the ERL (Express Rail Link) which was considered the cheapest fast train in the world at RM5 million per kilometre as against an average RM150 million elsewhere," he said.

Yeoh said land cost given by the government, especially the corridors, were not expensive today and as a package, the government would pass this to the consumers, accounting for why the ERL charge from the city to the airport was only RM35.

"In the case of the fast train, the corridors to Singapore are not expensive as compared to the land cost in Europe which is higher than technology cost in order to avoid the development area.

"Also, as the train will run on electricity, the project will benefit Tenaga Nasional Bhd and the independent power producers," he said.

On whether the connection to Singapore would be a bridge or underground tunnel, he said, "we are not hostage to civil engineering or geography. We understand the complication of the present environment in discussions between Malaysia and Singapore. We would avoid some of these difficulties. We have a solution."

"If we can successfully negotiate with the Malaysian government, then we will have a chat with Singapore. I do not see any negative sign signal from Singapore on this project," he said.

On whether he foresees problems getting the approval from Singapore, Yeoh said: "I do not say it is going to be easy but I would say that geo-economics are more important than geopolitics especially when there is opportunity and there is the money to do it," he said.

And from

Singapore Business Times, July 20, 2006

YTL announces its plans first but other firms will be considered ; By PAULINE NG ;IN KUALA LUMPUR

PRIME Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday said that the government was open to the idea of a high-speed train service to Singapore and was seeking proposals from interested companies.

He said that property and utility firm YTL Corporation, which was the first to announce its plan for a high-speed line between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, was not the only company that had pitched the idea to the government.

Mr Abdullah said he had not seen YTL's proposal. 'We are also requesting other companies to submit their proposals. Right now only YTL has submitted the proposal,' he said - without naming the companies.

Under the YTL plan, a train journey from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, covering a distance of 325 km, would take just 90 minutes - rather than the seven hours or so taken by the present rail service.,4574,200855,00.html?

YTL rail project faces rough ride
It will have multiple ramifications, complicated by S'pore-KL ties


ABOUT a year ago tycoon Francis Yeoh briefed Malaysian officials from the National Economic Action Committee, a government agency under the Prime Minister's department, on a plan to construct a high speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Mr Yeoh apparently raved about it saying it would transform economic ties between the two countries and that it would take two hours door-to-door to travel between the two cities. 'I came away pretty impressed,' said one businessman who had been invited for the briefing. 'I think it's a marvellous idea.'

It may be easier said than done. According to bankers familiar with the plan, Mr Yeoh had been hawking this project for some time now, even during the tenure of former premier Mahathir Mohamad but nothing came of it presumably because of the prickly bilateral relations that characterised the waning years of Dr Mahathir's tenure. 'We have been proposing this for eight years now,' Mr Yeoh told BT. 'Now that there is rapprochement, let's move forward because this is a great project. It's a no-brainer.'

Mr Yeoh is dusting off his old idea under a new banner: the Private Finance Initiative first articulated by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his recently released Ninth Malaysia Plan document.

He said as much to the New Straits Times earlier this week, saying that he would invite all relevant parties to invest in the special purpose vehicle that would fund and build the link. On his invite list: Malaysian Airline System, Singapore Airlines and the airport operators of both cities. Even so, the idea isn't about to take off any time soon.

'This kind of project has multiple ramifications whose impacts aren't known,' said a senior Malaysian government official. 'It will impact both airlines, it will impact the (North South) highway and it could impact the way people live. Singaporeans could live in Kuala Lumpur an vice-versa. There has to be a careful economic impact study conducted.'

Complicating the project further is the present uneasiness between the two countries over the replacement of the Causeway and KL's scrapping of the half-bridge project.

Mr Yeoh's plan calls for a dedicated new bridge to carry the high speed ink. Some officials fret that the new bridge could kill off the idea of replacing the Causeway altogether.

Mr Yeoh said that the project could cost as much as RM8 billion (S$3.5 billion) - 'It's about there, plus or minus'. But a consultant engineer contacted by BT said the figure was a 'guesstimate'.

Even so, there is no doubt that Mr Yeoh would be good for the money. His flagship YTL Corporation is flush and has a RM6 billion war chest.

Mr Yeoh declined to say if both governments had agreed to the project or were even considering it.

'I can't tell you that but if it did not go ahead, I would be very sad,' he said. 'It would be a tremendously missed opportunity for both sides.'

According to other sources, the Singapore government has received informal proposal from KL on Mr Yeoh's idea but they also say that Mr Yeoh has informally talked to several high-ranking Singaporean leaders about the link.

06-Jul-2006 14:29:00

KUALA LUMPUR (XFN-ASIA) - The Ministry of Transport has not received any roposal on a bullet train service, deputy minister Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu akar was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying.

He said, however, it the ministry receives such a proposal; it will consider the feasibility of a bullet train service from the KL Sentral station to Singapore.

"It may have been proposed to other people but definitely not to the transport ministry," he said.

According to a report by the same paper yesterday, YTL Corp Bhd managing director Francis Yeoh said the company has proposed to the Malaysia and Singapore governments to build an 8.0 bln rgt high-speed rail link to neighboring Singapore.

..and from AP report
YTL Corp. to submit feasibility study on Malaysia-Singapore bullet train
Jul 6, 5:37 AM EDT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysian conglomerate YTL Corp. will submit a feasibility study to the Transport Ministry soon on plans to build a high-speed bullet train link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, a top executive said Thursday.

YTL managing director Francis Yeoh said he has spoken to Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy, who wanted to know whether the bullet train link to cover the 325-kilometer (200-mile) journey in 90 minutes was possible.

"It is a feasible project. We will be submitting a detailed report on it soon," he told The Associated Press, but didn't give any timeframe.

Yeoh was rebutting comments by Deputy Transport Minister Tengku Azlan Abu Bakar who was quoted as saying in Thursday's New Straits Times that the ministry was not aware of YTL's proposal.

Yeoh told the AP on Wednesday that the company was already in talks with the Malaysian and Singapore governments, and hopes to begin construction in two years. The plan is to complete the estimated 8 billion ringgit (US$2.2 billion; RM8 billion) project in less than 5 years.

He said the company plans to raise funds for the project through the global capital market.

The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore link could connect with an express train from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which is also run by YTL, to the city train terminal, he said.

Singapore, located across the Johor Strait at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula, is connected with Kuala Lumpur by air, road and a diesel train on a meter-gauge track built in 1913 by British colonial rulers.

Flights between the two cities are 45 minutes long, while buses take about four hours to cover the distance on the modern North-South Expressway that runs the length of the country.

YTL's companies are involved in a range of businesses including power generation, real estate, and construction, cement manufacturing. It also owns several shopping malls, resorts and hotels such as the JW Marriott Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Check the latest post Sunday, Jul 23 06
NAJIB ARMS DEAL link High Performance Training Centre? – “A HOT Political and Diplomatic POTATO to the HIGHESET OFFICES in UK” but NOT in MALAYSIA?

The hovering Helicopter keeping an eye;
crowd below (burning the American flags)

Khairy Jamaluddin "We will go to Thailand, Phillipines and
other Asian Countries and the
Middle East to ensure
youth internationally rise up against

"The memorandum that we send just now outline in no uncertain terms that we demand the immediate cessation of attacks by Israeli on Lebanon and on the Gaza Strip. We would like the United Security Council to pass a resolution to stop the Israeli atrocities. This is nothing short of murder. This is nothing short of genocide "

The crowd and the police playing their "parts"

The well orchestrated and governmentsanctioned and approved” protest demonstration against the Israeli’s attacks was lead by UMNO Youth Vice Head Khairy Jamaluddin .

The crowd consisting of Barisan National component parties youth members gathered in front of the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur following Friday prayers. The noisy shouting crowd carry placards condemning the “war” was as usual emotionally charged but well controlled under the watchful eye of the Police who gave them hand gloved treatment compared to the bloodied protest march in May on the Rise in Petrol price hike .

The leaders handing over the protest note (below) at
the American Embassy on Friday Jul 21 06

After Khairy’s fiery speech, a protest note was handed over to the embassy, he then led the group to the nearby British High Commission and the French Embassy in Jalan Ampang. But they were prevented from continuing to the nearby Chinese and Russian embassies.

This is the source of further aggravation, the two
launchers (below) that were located by
the Israeli (only after)
the missles were
fired and subsequently imobilised
Hundreds of these missile rockets have been fired into Haifa

Below: Haifa in Israel has been subjected to hundreds of missile rocket attacks

Meanwhile the onslaut on southern Lebanon continues. Hundred of tanks (below) have been deployed to enter Lebanon to create a "buffer zone". Residents have been warn to move away.

Below: Bridges have been bombed out

Below: Major highways are also attacked and destroyed

With the airport also bombed out earlier, the only exit left is by the sea route if not going to Syria

More than 150,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring Syria and by sea to Cyprus 180 km by sea. The British have sent in the HMS Bulwark and evacuate British, Canadian and Australian citizens to the Limassol port in Cyprus.

Check out the latest post on the mega-project:


Anwar names those responsible for forex losses

One of the four persons anmed is dead and gone, and the balance 3, 2 are his known political opponents that cannot be "beaten or overcome" and that can inflict retribution or vengeance.

Who are they?
Get a subscription, Malaysiakini needs your SUPPORT
and read it at

But are names and handles important? 'What is your name, each of you?' My name is also nameless. I have no name. You give yourselves names, because you believe they are important. Understand, our existence is nameless. It is NOT voiceless, but it is nameless. The names you take are structures upon which you hang your images . . . What you are cannot be UTTERED, and NO letter or alphabet can contain it. Yet, now you need words and letters, and names and objects. You want magic that will tell you what you are. I have had TOO many identities to cling to ONE name.

now the Q & A
Q&A: Yes, I could have done more; Arfa'eza A Aziz Jul 19, 06 1:50pm

Former deputy premier and Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Anwar Ibrahim reveals where the country went wrong and his economic vision in this second of a three-part exclusive interview with malaysiakini.

Malaysiakini: International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz states that
Malaysia is still an attractive destination as the first six months of 2006, the country has drawn in RM6.08 billion of FDI (foreign direct investment). But you claim otherwise.

Anwar: Rafidah is in a state of denial. This (information) is part of propaganda. You can have commitments in the range of RM10 billion but the fact is, FDI can only be real when the foreign companies come and operate (in the country).

So a company comes in with RM10 billion, they start in 2007 and end in 2020.
So when can we apply this amount (to the statistics)? It should be distributed evenly over those years but instead you (the government) put the entire figure immediately in the statistics. That is why when you asked if I regretted joining the government, I said 'no' because I learnt the tricks of the trade. You can't fool (me) with figures anymore.

Another issue of concern is confidence. We are not talking only about competition with
China or India as investment destinations but also Vietnam, Thailand and to an extent even Indonesia. Look at our market capitalisation, actual investments of FDI in the country, the capital flight out of Malaysia.

How do you assess the confidence in the system? By looking at the statistics in toto. You cannot simply pick three or four companies and make a conclusion.

I would suggest that Prime Minister Abdullah (Ahmad Badawi) looks at this because it is a serious problem. Unemployment is high, there is an inflation problem and FDI is not coming in. You are not only postponing (resolving the problems) but, probably even not accepting the fact that we are in trouble. They continue to say that we are one of the successful Muslim countries in the world compared to
Mali and Bangladesh - I wouldn't deny that we are doing much better than them.

But to get Malaysians to understand and not get sucked in by the propaganda, I ask them to look at the countries in the region:
Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea. Look at their positions in the 1970s, then in the 1980s and then in 2006. They have gone way ahead. They have double the success that we have achieved.

Now if I was asked to deal with it, I would say: first, we must accept the fact that although we are generally better than the weaker counties, we are losing to our competitors in terms of FDI, technology, etc. Then, we chart a programme. The Ninth Malaysia Plan was an exceptional opportunity for Abdullah to recognise this problem and say that it's time we deal with it. On this, he has failed miserably.

* What would Anwar Ibrahim's economic programme be like?

First, I would say look at the facts and deal with it. I am not suggesting that the country has totally failed. To the credit of past and present leaders, at least there is political stability. The country's economy is sluggish but not totally destroyed. But it is beginning to be quite critical for
Malaysia now. If you accept that, the programme would be realistic.

Competition is a major issue to be addressed. Why did we lose our competitiveness? How do we regain it? One (of the problems) is the perception of the National Economic Policy (NEP). The perception is that everything has to do with (the) bumiputera (policy), which is not entirely correct. It has everything to do with corruption, not the bumiputera policy. It is an abuse of that policy because people use that to squander wealth distribute billions for their family members and cronies.

So to my mind, the best way is to do away with it and have programmes that are more transparent. Do we then ignore the fate of the marginalised and poor? I say we don't. Countries that do not have affirmative action programmes do deal with these issues. These countries seem to be realistic in their policies, sustainable in their economy, which pave the way for poverty elimination, public housing, quality education for the urban and rural poor - these are issues I feel passionately about and I think we have to move (on them).

That would mean the dismantling of the current economic policy. But what did the Umno leaders - in particular the Umno Youth leaders - say to this? (They said) Anwar is getting too friendly with the Chinese, he is forsaking the very agenda that he (had once) supported. Of course, I supported the NEP in 1970 when I was 19. At that time, I saw that the Malays were so insecure. I saw that in my peers at the university. With the very few exceptions among the children of the bureaucrats, nobody had any success. So, (the NEP was) fair.

But then things have changed... not that
Malaysia has done exceptionally better but we have tried. We had been successful in some things like social mobility, education standard and scholarships, but here we have to make some amends.

I always recite this good example based on my experience in
Penang where I met a 19-year-old Chinese girl who scored 9A1s but failed to get a place in the local university. We told her: 'Sorry, this was the policy and that the quota had been met'. But what about this poor girl whose father is a petty trader and can't afford to send her overseas? This is the basic principle of justice that should transcend race. We as Muslims must actually appreciate this more because we talk about justice irrespective of race.

By doing this, I don't mean that I am willingly sacrificing the poor Malays. Recently, I spoke on education - about the government's disbursement of funds on primary education which is close to (the level of) those sub-Sahara ... African countries. In one go, you sacrifice the country's future generations and at the same time you don't cater for the marginalised groups in the rural areas, including in Sabah and Sarawak where the vast majority of rural folks are.

When you talk about the quality of education, you also touch on the mediocre leadership in universities. I addressed this (issue) to some 50,000 people - majority were PAS supporters and ulama (Muslim religious scholars). I asked, is there something wrong against Malay interests, or Islam, when you have 20 public institutions in the country and you have five Chinese vice-chancellors, or three or two Indians, or one or two non-Muslim bumiputera?

These are qualified people, and I challenged them (the crowd) to make sure that the universities excel in academic standards. Make sure that the Chinese, Indians and Malays are treated equally ... These are the things that we should do because only then we are presenting the case that we trust each other - the Chinese, the Malays and the Indians. But we don't seem to be able to do that. Of course, you can't expect, MCA, Gerakan or MIC to say or articulate anything about this.

* Why not?

It is not because they do not want to raise sensitive (issues) with Umno. My experience in the cabinet, (the non-Malay) leaders unfortunately don't take it (the issues) up ... even if the issues are not very sensitive to the prime minister. They won't say: 'We consider whether this brilliant Chinese academic could head this public university'. They wouldn't dare! But what will they ask for? (They ask) can we participate in the
Klang Port privatization ?

· But there were questionable decisions made by you while you were finance minister. For example, the Bank Negara's foreign exchange losses in 1992-1994 where we lost, some say, up to RM30 billion. You were also the Bakun chairperson and the (Umno-linked) MRCB (Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad) takeover was also during your time.

The (Umno-linked tycoon) Tajuddin (Ramli) court case... I am glad that it had surfaced because it explained a lot of things about those who were involved and those who were covering up the story. I am inconsequential in that decision.

As to the forex losses, I had to table it to Parliament. Not convincing, of course, because there was a limit to what I could do... given the circumstances then. I then had to advise (former Bank Negara governor, the late) Tan Sri Jaafar (Hussein) and (Bank Negara assistant governor) Nor Mohamed Yakcop (now second finance minister) to resign.

* Can you tell us exactly what happened then. Who told Bank Negara to go into forex speculation?

The law is quite clear. Bank Negara had the option to protect its resources and this is normal - it is not speculation as such but only to use a small amount of fund to trade in order to protect the reserves. That was the standard reply I had given, at the advice from the governor.

But then, I realised that I was not informed by the bank. I only knew from friends overseas. In fact, I knew from a
Switzerland friend who told me: 'Look Anwar, Bank Negara's ringgit speculation was huge'. I told him that couldn't be as we needed to protect our reserves. But he told me that you (Bank Negara) were one of the top three. One of the top! I said (it was) impossible that we could be among (the countries) which have billions of dollars to speculate on forex.
The week later, I was in
Hong Kong where an editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review asked me very bluntly: 'Look, are you giving a political reply because we have our sources to say that you're deeply involved'. I replied that I was not giving a political reply and I was giving a policy decision that we allowed for a small amount (to speculate) to protect the reserves and it was done completely by the central bank, and the minister of finance was not privy to it...

Then after the interview, he confided in me and told me that it was time for me to call the central bank. So I called. The governor was on his way to
Iran with the prime minister. I asked him: 'I was told that we have a big problem', and he, of course, denied it. Nor Mohamed said it was only a small amount. I told him I did not believe that the business editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review would lie to me, and neither would I believe that my Swiss friend was lying to me. I needed a report.

He (Jaafar) then promised to give a report after he returned from
Iraq. So he checked with Nor Mohamed who again denied (the problem). Then he went to Dr Mahathir and he came back and told me that he met the prime minister (who claimed that there was) no such problem. He (Mahathir) accused the foreign media and foreign interests of trying to cause disruption and lack of confidence in the system. But I still (told) Tan Sri Jaffar (to) say (that) I was not satisfied. Then Jaffar started to confide in me and he swore to God that he knew nothing.

* So it was Nor Mohamed who was responsible for the huge losses?

It was Nor Mohamad, Mahathir and Daim! That was the time I just came in (as finance minister). But I trusted Tan Sri Jaffar who did not know until I asked. He had genuinely thought that it was a small amount. By the time I got the picture, the problem was huge. We were talking about losses in the range close to US$10 billion. But, of course, the billions can still be saved because it is partly paper and partly real - you can never know until the audited account for that particular year comes out. So time was closing in for the accounts.

I got the figures and I told Dr Mahathir that I have no choice but to ask Nor Mohamed to leave. He said that it was not fair, this and that, but I persuaded him because under the circumstances Nor Mohamed could be charged. Mahathir said no, don't touch them, just let them go. I told him, I can't go on like this. How can I go and explain to the Parliament and say that these were the real losses and these were the people involved?

It is unfortunate for Tan Sri Jaffar because I rated him highly. He was a man with high integrity, strict, honest, incorruptible and he used to confide in me a lot and had been very helpful to me in advising me. He was supportive.

So they left. I had the then Bank Negara deputy governor meet me for an hour a day - solid briefing because this was too complex - (the) intricacies on forex trade, which was new to me. I had to really master the subject because I had to deal with Parliament. I called it the worst experience I have had. We had to cover the losses and I don't think Bank Negara was able to cover it.

Finally, when Dr Mahathir had the chance, he brought back Nor Mohamed (as economic adviser) because clearly they were in league (together). You are talking about a person who cost the country 10, 15, 20 billion ringgit of real losses and yet you (Abdullah) promoted him as (second) finance minister. Yes, we were good friends but we are talking about protecting the interests of the country.

* Was there any decision that you regret making?

Yes. You try your best but there were a lot of constraints. For example, if you look at the Education Act (1961). If you remember, once I had then (as the education minister) announced that I wanted to do a new education act. We had the draft bill ready. We invited the teachers' representatives - Malay teachers and (Chinese education movement) Dong Jiao (Zong) - everybody... they saw the draft because we wanted to repeal the controversial section 21(2) (the right of the education minister to close down vernacular primary schools), but I don't want to be seen as conceding to the Chinese.

Then Auku (Universities and University Colleges Act, 1971). The entire legislation was to be a new legislation. There was a draft and it was circulated. So people can't say that Anwar did not do it. It was there in the public domain. Then I was transferred to the Finance Ministry. (Subsequent education ministers) Sulaiman (Daud) and Najib (Abdul Razak) did not take it up.

Later, Najib took it up but then he had something else and kept the thing. I regretted because I could have pushed it (to be tabled and passed) faster. It was a controversial bill. Dr Mahathir didn't agree to repeal the Auku. He told me: 'Cannot, Anwar. It (Auku) is very important. Don't take it personally...' He was very kind in that sense... I had that advantage... in cabinet, he was never rough. He reserved (his iron fist) to the last...
* What about decisions when you were at the Treasury?

Even at the Treasury, sometimes with the best of intentions, the Treasury gave strong advice but I was not able to do it, like the airport you said I was appointed chairman of the (Kuala Lumpur International) airport, but only because the prime minister appointed me.
But it was known in the Treasury that we were against the proposal to (move the airport) to Sepang. We wanted to expand the facilities in (the then international airport) Subang because the cost would be 10 times less. This is not something that I am only saying now. Because prior to the cabinet (meeting), there is the economic strategic plan meeting where I proposed the option but then he (Mahathir) said it was important (to move to Sepang). So that was it.

And the Bakun (dam project in Sarawak) - I said that it would proceed after the evaluation by the EIA (environmental impact assessment) but Mahathir announced it before the evaluation was made. Some said that I should have been more firm but I wasn't. But if I had done that, I would have been sacked in 1993.
* Regarding the social and religious problems in
Malaysia, you have suggested that the different racial and religious communities should start talking to each other. But there is no forum to provide that kind of necessary dialogue.

Yes. My worry is that the BN (Barisan Nasional) government tends to tolerate this conflict a bit because it serves to benefit them in the long run. If you look at the courses, which is under the Prime Minister's Department.BTN (Biro Tata Negara) It is clearly racist. Has any minister – Chinese minister - taken up this issue to re-look the curriculum?

Ask the students who attended these courses. Am I exaggerating or trying to mislead? Why do I take this up? It is just not another political (issue) for Keadilan, but we are talking about the next generation of this country. Anybody who does not seem to agree with them are American agents! Or pro-Chinese. You question the NEP - although I am very Malay and I want the Malays to succeed - I'm immediately put as pro-Chinese. Who does that? PM's Department professors!

* Do you think the BTN should be dismantled?

Either dismantle it or improve it. The intention was to get people trained in diplomacy, to understand the country. These are noble intentions. But it is then used as an Umno political apparatus. There are now racist messages! This is really dangerous. When I was in prison, I learnt from the prison guards who told me they cried because they were given facts on how much the Malays have lost and the Chinese are so greedy to make demands to dismantle everything that we Malays have.

This poor guy is innocent because he genuinely believed it. So I asked him who stole most of the APs (Approved Permits)? Was it Ah Chong or the Malays? Who decided to give Bakun to (tycoon) Ting Pek Khing? Then they started to realise that the (BTN) arguments were flawed. I don't know whether Abdullah is aware. I'd be surprised and disappointed if he doesn't. But if he knows, it is ethically and morally wrong for him to condone this.

I am not saying this because the BTN considers me public enemy No 1. There is no (BTN) course that had not abused me as to my alleged sexual misconduct - that is, of course, less now because the mufti (state religious adviser) have told them that they will go to hell if they make accusations without evidence - but I (continue) to be labeled as an American agent, CIA agent and also pro-Chinese.

Tomorrow: My future in the opposition

Now the BACKGROUND to this Forex SAGA; Speech by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament, Wednesday, 12th July 2006) More than 12 years ago, in my speech during the debate on the Royal Address on April 11, 1994, I reiterated my call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the colossal Bank Negara foreign exchange losses as a result of speculation in the international currency markets from 1992-1994, with the losses cited as ranging from RM10 billion to RM30 billion.

The arguments I advanced for such a Royal Commission of Inquiry more than a decade ago are even more valid today. I quote:

“The Royal Commission of Inquiry should first determine the actual extent of the forex losses suffered by Bank Negara since 1992.

“I had said that for the two years of 1992 and 1993, Bank Negara’s forex losses could range from RM 16.5 billion to RM25.6 billion. The total forex losses could be more when we take into account the RM1.4 billion contingent liability for 1994 arising from forward forex commitments.

“Could there be other hidden and secret forex losses in the 1992 and 1993 Bank Negara accounts apart from those who had discussed?

“There could be. I will just give one possibility. Bank Negara had been accused for instance of dumping large amounts of Ringgit into the market in the closing days of 1993 to buy US Dollars, causing the Ringgit to fall steeply. That manoeuvre improved Bank Negara’s year-end financial position by raising the value of its currency and gold reserves in Ringgit terms.

“It is interesting to note that as of November 30, 1993, Bank Negara’s Gold and Foreign Exchange and Other Reserves including SDRs stood at RM60 billion, but within a month by December 31, 1993, it had shot up by RM16.4 billion to Rm76.4 billion – an hefty increase of 26 per cent in one month.

“Bank Negara’s Gold and Foreign Exchange and Other Reserves including SDRs stood at RM46.2 billion. If it had increased at 26 per cent per month, as happened in the one month of December 1993, Bank Negara’s Gold and Foreign Exchange and Other Reserves would have multiplied to the impossible figure of RM587 billion!

“It is therefore possible that the RM16.4 billion increase of Gold and Foreign Exchange and Other reserves could conceal forex losses, bringing total forex losses to over RM30 billion since 1992.

“The first task of the Royal Commission of Inquiry is to ascertain whether Bank Negara’s forex losses since 1992 could exceed RM30 billion.

“The second task of the Royal Commission of Inquiry is to ascertain whether there had been any financial malpractices and abuses in view of the inconsistencies and conflicting explanations about the colossal forex losses.

“It is ridiculous for Bank Negara to blame the late delivery of sophisticated computers for causing such huge forex losses. After all, how is it that Bank Negara can not only not lose money but make profits in the past without these sophisticated computers? And how is it that unsophisticated Central Banks of other countries which do not have sophisticated computers do not incur such colossal losses from forward forex operations?

“Thirdly, the Royal Commission of Inquiry should establish as to how the Bank Negara could incur such colossal losses.

“In fact, Anwar Ibrahim should be able to tell Parliament the size and details of Bank Negara’s foreign exchange losses, by releasing details on Bank Negara’s foreign transactions, the composition of its reserves, aspects of its intervention operations and its forward commitments in the various currencies.

“Last April, Jaffar said that to give details would be “show my hand to the market”, and that “There should be no problems in disclosing such information if the bank is lo longer in the foreign exchange business.”

“Anwar Ibrahim said the same thing in Parliament during question time on July 19.

“Now that Bank Negara had announced that it has ceased all forward transactions and that all positions had been unwound, Anwar Ibrahim should have no reason to refuse to furnish all these details about Bank Negara’s colossal forex losses to Parliament.”

As I said 12 years ago, Bank Negara was at the time insolvent – its liabilities exceeded its assets – and the Bank Negara Governor and its Board could have been suspended and the bank taken over if it had been a commercial bank.

Let me clarify that when I made these assumptions about Bank Negara forex losses as a result of foreign exchange speculation spree could be as high as RM30 billion, I did not get the facts and figures from thin air, but I had the able and expert assistance of a former topmost Bank Negara officer.

After more than 12 -14 years, the government has still failed to “come clean” on the colossal Bank Negara forex losses and the ghosts of the RM30 billion Bank Negara forex losses have not been exorcised – resurfacing only last week to haunt the present administration of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, testing its commitment to accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.

Many other questions which I had raised over a decade ago remained unanswered and continues to haunt the corridors of power, viz:
• whether Bank Negara’s maximum exposure at the height of its forward foreign exchange speculation was in the region of RM270 billion, which was three times the country’s GDP and more than five times the country’s foreign reserves at the time; and
• whether at the height of the Bank Negara forex speculation spree, Bank Negara was so aggressive that it operated not only in US$50 million lots but there had also been occasions when Bank Negara operated with US$500 million in one call!

We now know that Bank Negara’s multi-billion ringgit forex losses was because of Mahathir’s nemesis, George Soros who had betted in favour of the British pound against Bank Negara.
The time has come for full and total disclosure of the RM30 billion Bank Negara forex losses as to how these so-called “paper losses” as described by government leaders had triggered off other mega-financial scandals like the RM1.8 billion MAS-Tajudin privatization scam – the purported “national service” of Tajudin Ramli in 1994 to buy MAS shares to help out Bank Negara (which owned the MAS shares) which was hit by the multi-billion ringgit forex losses.

Were the major players in this scam performing a national service or were involved in a national betrayal?

At the time when I raised the Bank Negara forex losses in the House, the then Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir said the forex losses came from “profits made in forex dealings in preceding years” while the then Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, that the Bank Negara forex losses were mere “paper losses”.

Former premier Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is now an advocate of accountability and transparency, declaring that Official Secrets Act should not be used to hide untruths. He should be taken at his word, and all secret documents on the Bank Negara forex losses of 1992-1994 should be declassified so that Malaysians can finally know the truth of what is probably the biggest mega-financial scandal in the nation’s history.

Anwar may not be in the loop at the time although he was Finance Minister, with regard to whatever “overriding agreements” Mahathir and his then loyal economic adviser, Tun Daim Zainuddin, devised with other corporate high-flyers to salvage Bank Negara, but Anwar has now the opportunity to throw light of what he knew about the colossal Bank Negara forex losses when he was Finance Minister and how these “paper losses” had triggered off other mega-financial scandals like the RM1.8 billion MAS-Tajudin privatization scam.

Before I end, let me quote from a 1995 book on international high finance, The Vandal’s Crown by Gregory J. Millman to illustrate why Parliament even today should take a serious attitude on the Bank Negara forex scandal:

"Using all the resources a central bank commands - privileged information, unlimited credit, regulatory power, and more - Malaysia’s Bank Negara became the most feared trader in the currency markets. By trading for profit, Bank Negara committed apostasy against the creed of central banking. Instead of working to ensure global financial stability, Bank Negara repeatedly shoved huge sums of money into the most vulnerable market situations in order to destabilize exchange rates for its own profit" (p.226)

"(Bank) Negara operated behind a thick veil of secrecy. The bank seldom spoke publicly about its controversial trading activities. Yet it was increasingly clear to foreign exchange traders that Bank Negara’s operations in the foreign exchange markets went far beyond simple self-defense. It became the most awesome currency trader in the world." (p. 227)

"(Bank) Negara’s market manipulation was so egregrious that one American central banker said, ‘If they tried this on any organized exchange in the world, they’d go to jail.’ However, in the unregulated international currency markets, there were neither police nor jailers. The only rule was the rough justice of the vandals, and it was this rule that eventually brought (Bank) Negara down.

"In 1992, (Bank) Negara took on a large pound sterling position, apparently expecting
Britain to maintain the discipline required by the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. It was a bad economic and political judgement. (Bank) Negara lost approximately $3.6 billion when Britain withdrew from the ERM, letting sterling collapse. The next year, (Bank) Negara lost an additional $2.2 billion. By 1994, Bank Negara was technically insolvent and had to be bailed out by an infusion of fresh money from Malaysia’s finance ministry." (p.229)

folks Final Part Interview: is now available;
5pm , Jul 21 06


Thursday, July 20, 2006


Please subscribe to Support Malaysiakini

Anwar: Dangerous to back Dr Mahathir ; Arfa'eza A Aziz Jul 20, 06 12:16pm

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad's attack on the current administration is not a licence for the opposition to pledge their support for him, said former deputy prime minister and Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Anwar Ibrahim.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini last week, he said it was dangerous to "endorse a person subscribing to an authoritarian rule" despite the spat between Mahathir and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi benefitting the opposition.

"I think Mahathir is doing a service (in criticising the government) by opening up a little democratic space...I think it has helped us immensely not only PAS but also myself and the opposition. But we have to draw the line."

Anwar said he made this point clear during a recent meeting with PAS leaders, some of whom have been openly supporting Mahathir. This has caused some discomfort to the Barisan Aletrnatif (BA) alliance between PKR and PAS. "I had a long discussion with (PAS president Abdul) Hadi (Awang) and central working committee member) Mustafa Ali, I (told them) the perception of backing Mahathir is not right."

"What they said was the party was willing to accept Mahathir if he admitted his wrongdoings and made amends. But do you think he is going to do that?" quipped Anwar, who was sacked by Mahathir in 1998.

"But if he does say: 'I was wrong on this, on that, and please forgive me', I would certainly forgive him. In fact, I may even be prepared to withdraw my civil suit against him."

On June 24, PAS' deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa, vice-president Husam Musa and Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub were seen attending an open talk by Mahathir.

Will he return to his old seat?

In the two-hour interview held at Malaysiakini's office in Bangsar Utama, Anwar said while he was not optimistic about bringing the disparate opposition under one roof, there should at least be a common agenda.

"I had several discussions with PAS and DAP separately and the general consensus is that they will continue to work separately with me and PKR. To me, this is something very positive."

He said although DAP was not keen to engage PAS, it did not object to PKR continuing its discussions with the Islamic-based party.

Anwar was also unsure whether he would return to his Permatang Pauh seat - now held by his wife PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail- in the event he was allowed to participate in active politics.

He said the grassroots in the constituency have expressed their views that they preferred Wan Azizah but the matter had yet to be finalised, adding that there were proposals for him to run for a multi-racial constituency

Commenting on the religious debates which arose following the death of Everest climber M Moorthy, Anwar said he had been approached by both Muslim and non-Muslim organisations who asked for his views to find a solution.

After talking to the two groups, he was surprised by the extent of prejudice, misinformation and disinformation that they had against each other.

According to him, the government's lack of commitment to provide a solution worsened the situation.He said the authorities were not taking the effort to get the conflicting groups to understand their differences.

"When you get them to talk you'd be surprise the extent of prejudice, misinformation or disinformation among each other. It is shocking that this is happening in this country..."

Q&A: Bridging the Muslim-non-Muslim divide Arfa'eza A Aziz Jul 20, 06 2:01pm

In the final of a three-part interview, former deputy prime minister and Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Anwar Ibrahim argues that effective leadership is needed to bridge the growing gulf between Muslims and non-Muslims in this country.

Malaysiakini: Now that you're back in
Malaysia for good, where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Anwar: I have never been good at that. In 1997, I did not project or anticipate what would happen in 1998. The projection when I was in prison in 1998 - in terms of when I was going to be released - was never correct. But after all that, I'm here...

So far, I am quite pleased with the response (from the people) although I think it's a lot to get a minimum understanding (among the opposition parties) and to get Keadilan (PKR) to focus despite the normal brewing tensions over the leadership issue. But generally, I think the spirit is very high. The major problem is, of course, media penetration because they (the grassroots) don't know (of the developments in the party). Every time I meet (the people), they will ask: 'Oh you're back. Are you back (for good)?'
And I say: 'Yes, I am back' (laughs). This is really difficult.

* You said recently that you're being considered for the United Nations secretary-general post. So are you really committed to the opposition or are you going to leave
Malaysia again?

I have said some comments to that effect...The problem is that the discussions (on the UN sec-gen post) involves presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers. The discussion has been going on for the past six months, more serious now with non-governmental organisations and the UN apparatuses. So, I don't think it's polite to be so dismissive (in rejecting the option). Most of them asked me to give it serious thought, or at least to consider the option.

To my colleagues here in the Keadilan (PKR), DAP and PAS leadership, I have stated that my commitment is here. They asked why don't I state a categoric rejection or denial. I told them I don't think that would be polite. I am not saying that it would be easy for me (to get the UN post) in the event I
choose to run, but I think it is a serious proposition. But in the discussion with party leaders, I have made it clear that I am ready to work here. But they can't expect me to be so dismissive ... but I have not come
to the stage that I would give it (the UN sec-gen post) serious consideration.

* PKR is facing some problems with a few party leaders quitting - the latest being Abdul Rahman Othman, who resigned as treasurer. There is also the concern that (party president and Anwar's wife) Dr Wan Azizah (Wan Ismail) is not capable to run the party.

All political parties have problems but ours is a democratic party, and ours is an opposition party so our problems are highlighted. But I think in the last year, more so in the last six months, I have been quite hands on with the party. I am not saying that the entire leadership agrees with me but I have set the agenda. For example, some disagree with my position on the NEP (New Economic Policy) or my moderate view on Islam and to persuade our friends in PAS to downplay their rhetoric on the Islamic state. To make it clear that our struggle has its principles, not to think you just use (ex-prime minister Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) to attack (Prime Minister) Abdullah (Ahmad Badawi)...I mean, the political game can continue but the principle stand must be clear. Some disagree and they leave.

(PKR) deputy president Dr Syed Husin (Ali) is not a very popular figure in the country and does not have the necessary support, but I have high regards for him as he has made a consistent stand, cannot be bought, incorruptible, intellectually profound...I think he should have a place (in the party). Some chose to disagree and challenged (Syed Husin) to which I disagreed. And I was prepared to campaign for Syed Husin, which I don't normally do, and in fact I did not do for the other posts. I don't think these are big problems. I think we are more cohesive now.

Azizah did her part but I think she never wanted that position. She was able to hold it (the party) together. To me, she's a great listener, she's a great redeeming figure, she has more patience, she doesn't raise her voice to scold leaders...I do. Although they can disagree, I have strong views and
I make sure people hear them.

I am confident, we have problems but running a party ... if you are a businessman and you get involved in the party, you lose your contracts, so you leave, then maybe you get additional contracts...But I'm not discussing Abdul Rahman Othman, who has been a close family friend and has strong views
on many issues including the issue of leadership, which includes the issue of Syed Husin. But I thought the challenge was really unnecessary and unfortunate.

Everybody knows that before the (Keadilan-PRM) merger, there was an undertaking (for no contest). Syed Husin was the president. He withdrew to become deputy so that Azizah can take over as president. This is standard decency. Yes, this is a democratic party but there are certain ethical rules. It's not wrong for you to challenge but it is not right ethically because you gave your word.

There was consensus in the party; there was endorsement for the merger. Today we merge, tomorrow the president of that party that we merged with in view of our numerical strength, we kick him out to become just another executive member. Is that ethically correct? No. These issues happen but
since this is a democratic party, I wish them well. After all, we have seen this many, many times. People who want to run the party their way and they can't have it.

I may sound very strong here. We have a president, Azizah, who takes a more conciliatory approach than me, and we have Syed Hussin who has remarkable experience and holds a strong position on a number of issues. Then, we have other leaders representing several roles, religious issue, NGOs, etc, which means I amended a lot from the way I was running Umno which was actually (the) wrong (way). In Umno, I just have to say 'I feel strongly' (and) 'this is the way' and everybody sokong (support) Daulat Tuanku! (Long live the King!) Period! That was easier. But (PKR) is a democratic party.

I have been to
Penang recently when Tony Beh crossed over from MCA and I told him, 'Tony, when you go out you must explain why you joined Keadilan (PKR)'. He said never throughout his political career as a MCA leader for the past 20 years has he seen such an open discourse on issues involving
race and religion. We must understand what the non-Muslims think and vice-versa. I thought what he said was remarkable. So I told him you must repeat that view when you meet the people.

* Some people say that your decisions are heavily influenced by two or three people close to you.

Of course, I know the fact, I can be very specific – they are talking about my former staff. I work like a family and my staff is like family. You listen to them, you have access but now in the party, other people have access too. And because my former staff are no longer my staff, they have to go through my present staff to get appointments and now they are complaining and they realise how difficult it was for the others to get an appointment! But I consider that (the accusation) as an insult because they underestimate my wisdom and experience.

Of course, I listen (to the people close to me) but my interest is for the party and the bigger agenda. And I know there are people alleging that Anwar listens to only one or two. But it is a manifestly unjust (allegation). Those within the party know I have disagreed and overruled many proposals. I have expressed my strong views. The people who are close to me know this.

But finally, I judge people in terms of their work commitment. People make allegations many times before - 'you gave instructions from prison'. How many times can I give instructions from prison in a week? I do (write) letters or proposals. But it was really difficult to smuggle the communication outside. But the perception is that I continue to give instructions and therefore bypass the party leadership. I have strong views but otherwise the whole conduct of the party is starkly different from what I am doing, which means to some I have a lot of influence but not total, which is good because I won't behave like a dictator even if I wanted to.

* You have tried to bring PAS and DAP together but there has not been much success there.

Ideally, we should be seen as one formidable, cohesive force as an opposition.

* Are you confident you can bring them together?

I am not too optimistic but I am confident that the common agenda will be accepted in terms of reforms, independence of the judiciary, freedom of conscience and expression. But the devil is in the details of the common agenda...But we do have a common agenda. I had several discussions with PAS and DAP separately and the general consensus is that they will continue to work separately with me and Keadilan (PKR). To me, this is something very positive.

But I did convey to PAS, for example ... the role that (Opposition Leader Lim) Kit Siang and other DAP leaders played in terms of holding the opposition's effective voice on issues of good governance, corruption, accountability...I told them (PAS) that they (DAP leaders) need to be recognised. You may not have to agree with them on the issue of religion but they have played a role.

Similarly when I spoke to DAP, I told them, 'Look at the experience of most Muslim countries, we have no option but to continue to engage because we don't hold the American view in engaging lateral actions while no engagement is done with people they don't like'. So I told DAP that you don't want to
engage (with PAS) but I need your understanding to allow me to continue engaging with PAS. And to some extent we have been quite successful. To be fair to PAS - whose statements on certain issues I frankly do not share - but generally the policy framework by (party president Abdul) Hadi
(Awang) and its top leadership, they are willing to engage and be conciliatory and bend backwards on the Islamic state issue. I believe if the party is willing to be accommodating on such a fundamental issue ... that they can somehow maneuver and adjust, (then) I think it is worth to be in the opposition.

* If you are to run in the next election, which seat would you go for? Will you return to Permatang Pauh, which is now held by your wife?

Certainly not the city of
Kuala Lumpur! (laughs) I should try Kubang Pasu (Mahathir's former seat). If given a chance - well, I have this crazy idea - I would like to test a truly multiracial constituency. Permatang Pauh in a sense is multiracial but it has 60 percent Malays. Azizah has been representing them well and when I go back and start lobbying, they tell me they want Azizah to stay, particularly the ladies.

* So you're leaving the seat to her?

I don't know. But then, I think she goes back there regularly and there are on-going talks. But I have discussions with young professionals - Malays, Chinese and Indians - who believe that I should seriously consider a multiracial seat where there are 60 percent Malays, 30 percent Chinese...I said, I don't know whether there are such seats...

* Some say you are losing influence in PAS based on recent developments where the Islamic party has been supporting Mahathir because they want to speed up (Deputy Prime Minister) Najib's (Abdul Razak) appointment as prime minister. The party believes this would shut all doors for you to return to Umno.

It is good that you say that I am losing influence in PAS because it makes me feel humble. I have no presumptions about my influence. You are right because it is difficult when you deal with the parties. I had a long discussion with Ustaz Hadi and (central working committee member) Mustafa Ali, I (told them) the perception of backing Mahathir is not right.

What they said was that the party was willing to accept Dr Mahathir if he admits his wrongdoings and makes amends. But do you think he is going to do that? (laughs) But if he does say: 'I was wrong on this, on that, and please forgive me', I would certainly forgive him. In fact, I may even be prepared to withdraw my civil suit against him.

* Do you feel that Mahathir is riding high with his attacks against Abdullah, which have even attracted opposition supporters, because you are not entering the ring?

It's not that I'm not entering the ring. I (spoke on current issues to) 40,000 people in Dungun (Terengganu) and 80,000 people (elsewhere) but these were not reported in the media except for malaysiakini. All these issues like what I said about the bridge in detail - the notes on the point of
agreement, the issue of Agusta and Proton - I think I gave a more balanced account of the problems.

I think Mahathir is doing a service (in criticising the government) by opening up a little democratic space. People are (discovering) that not everything is right (because) here is a party leader to whom people rushed to kiss his hands and (believed) what he said was true all the way, correct and perfect, and suddenly everything is wrong with him. I think it has helped us immensely not only PAS but also myself and the opposition. But we have to draw the line.

But then, it is not about helping us but trying to get the public to understand the issues. I think it is very dangerous if we decide to endorse a person who subscribes to authoritarian rule. It is an issue of principle. People then ask, 'does that mean you are supporting Abdullah?' I say I talk about policies, corruption and mismanagement.

* We are facing many inter-religious issues including the jurisdiction between the syariah and civil courts, the issues of conversion.

Among many Muslims there is a genuine, real fear and insecurity about liberal Muslims who are trying to derail the Muslims.

* The Perak mufti claimed that 40,000 Muslims here have left the religion and this caused some alarm in the Muslim community. Do you feel such statements could increase the fear among Muslims?

It is believed that there are initiatives taken by people who are perceived to be not friendly of the religion. But to my mind, I agree that it shows the lack of effective leadership. There was the (Everest climber) M Moorthy case which could have been solved in a week, by calling the Muslim groups and non-Muslims to ask them about their concerns, which are basically to protect the jurisdiction of the syariah court and at the same time allow non-Muslims to refer their case to the civil court.

To me, it is quite straight forward. It is not easy, of course. It was an important test case for me as well since I had to meet Muslim groups and non-Muslim groups and then back again before finally getting some that you don't extend the debate beyond the normal contentious issues. I do not deny that there will be, from time to time, contentious issues but never so serious.

About the issue of conversion - I don't know the many cases and instances (from which) the mufti got the figures he had given. But I was told that a large number of those (who converted) were people who had embraced Islam recently and decided to leave. But of course, to Muslims once you embrace
you understand your commitment although the process of embracing Islam is not necessarily satisfactory for a number of reasons. I don't deny that some conversions were for monetary gains, promotions, but I would say that if this is the concern of the mufti then we should try and engage the relevant people in the government and find out the details.

We should find out if the cause is due to a general moral decline and degradation in the country which affects all religions. We have to deal with it. I believe strongly in the role of religion in one's personal life and I am a believer. I will always be a devout (Muslim). But I don't believe that we should be extremely anti against those who do not subscribe fully to the religion. There must be some sort of midway that we (can reach to) respect the differences.

* You said that you met with both Muslim and non-Muslim groups. Are you an informal mediator between the two?

I am not presumptuous of my role and neither do I want to be brought into the issue. But I do recognise that if nothing is done, it will not augur well for the country.

* What should be done then?

We should have an effective leadership. Not a dictator, but a leadership that listens and meets the people to discuss the contentious issues. Like the Moorthy case, it was a clear example. If you left this aside you will create such enmity and ruckus. If you ask specifically what each group wants, you will find that it is something consistent to what we have been believing. But once you leave, the dialogue will be too extreme, everybody will get angry. But we have to deal with this.

* On one hand, you have the Muslims' insecurity and on the other, the non-Muslims' fear over the increasing Islamisation.

That is precisely my point. You allow people to speak for cross purposes. And there is not enough effort, serious genuine effort to get them to appreciate the differences. I conveyed this to the Muslims after I talked to the non-Muslim leaders. 'They are saying that they are feeling insecure that you are taking the Indians and paying them money to convert to Islam.' Of course, they denied.

And the Muslim groups in turn claimed that there is an on-going (effort) where many young Muslims are given scholarships and put into hostels where they are forced to convert and be baptised. I told them that firstly we have to accept that there is no compulsion in conversions. And then you give specific instances of these alleged forced conversions. When you get them to talk you'd be surprise the extent of prejudice, misinformation or disinformation they have (for and about) each other. It is shocking that this is happening in this country

checking out lastest posting Jul 22 06

Get complete protection against viruses, worms and Trojan horse programs – CA Anti-Virus 2008! Click here for cheap hotels
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Multidimid. Make your own badge here.
Blogroll Me!

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Add to Google Add to Google