BUT AS THE 85-YEAR-OLD LEADER ACCUSED THE PAKATAN OF MAKING THE COUNTRY MORE RACIALLY DIVIDED THAN BEFORE AND OF HATCHING PLOTS TO DEFAME THE BN, NAJIB AND HIS DEPUTY MUHYIDDIN YASSIN HAVE BEEN INSISTING THAT MALAYSIA’S NATIONAL SECURITY WAS UNDER THREAT FROM “FOREIGN AGENTS”. THEY EVEN ACCUSED THE PARTI SOSIALIS MALAYSIA OF ‘REKINDLING’ COMMUNISM TO JUSTIFY A STRING OF ARRESTS TO SCARE MALAYSIANS FROM TAKING PART IN THE JULY 9 BERSIH RALLY.
TO PAKATAN SUPPORTERS, THE SLEW OF OUTLANDISH STORIES ABOUT BERSIH AND PSM WERE THE FINAL PROOF OF BN’S DESPERATION TO CLING TO POLITICAL POWER. THEY ARE SURE THAT THE SO-CALLED PSM COMMIE-PLOT WOULD FAIL, JUST AS THE SODOMY II, DATUK T SEX VIDEO AND CHRISTIAN PRIME MINISTER CONSPIRACIES HAD FAILED TO CONVINCE THE MALAYSIAN PUBLIC.
IN HIS HASTE TO JUMP ONTO MALAY VERSUS NON-MALAY BANDWAGON, MAHATHIR ALSO OMITTED TO MENTION THAT BERSIH 2.0 IS SUPPORTED BY PAS, THE SECOND LARGEST MALAY PARTY, IN THE COUNTRY. CONDEMNING UMNO’S GUTTER POLITICKING, HADI HAD URGED ALL ONE-MILLION ODD PAS MEMBERS TO ATTEND THE RALLY, SPARKING THE CURRENT PANIC AMONG THE UMNO LEADERS.
“AMONGST THE BERSIH 2.0 ELECTORAL REFORMS, ONE IS THE CLEANING UP OF THE VOTERS REGISTRATION ROLLS, TWO IS THE CLEANING OF THE ELECTIONS FROM BRIBES AND CORRUPTION AND THREE IS TO CLEAN UP THE POSTAL VOTES SYSTEM. ONLY THOSE WHO ARE DIRTY WOULD REJECT THAT WHICH IS BERSIH (BERSIH MEANS CLEAN),” PAS MP FOR KUALA SELANGOR DZULKEFLY AHMAD TOLDMALAYSIA CHRONICLE.
WARNING TO NAJIB
WHILE MAHATHIR CHOSE TO TALK TOUGH, HIS CLOSE FORMER AIDE MATTHIAS CHANG HAD A DAY AGO MADE A RARE POSTING ON HIS BLOG, WARNING NAJIB NOT TO IMPOSE EMERGENCY RULE.
MOST PUNDITS INCLUDING MANY FROM UMNO HAD SAID IT WAS MAHATHIR WARNING NAJIB NOT TO GO FULL THROTTLE ON FEARS THAT, ONCE ARMED WITH THE SWEEPING POWERS THAT EMERGENCY GAVE THE PRIME MINISTER, NAJIB MIGHT USE IT TO PROLONG HIS OWN STAY IN POWER.
THIS WOULD JEOPARDIZE MUKHRIZ’S CHANCES FOR THE TOP JOB. MUKHRIZ IS MAHATHIR’S SON.
“THE WORD IS THAT MAHATHIR WANTS ONE TERM FOR EACH PRESIDENT, WHICH MEANS EACH PM, BECAUSE THE QUEUE IS TOO LONG. DON’T FORGET HIS SON MUKHRIZ IS NOT THAT YOUNG. THERE IS MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE IN UMNO RIGHT NOW AND I WOULD BE VERY CAREFUL IF I WERE NAJIB,” SAID AN UMNO WATCHER.
IN 1987, NAJIB HAD HELPED MAHATHIR TO SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCH THE OPERATIONS LALANG CRACKDOWN ON POLITICAL DISSIDENTS AND RIVALS. AT AN UMNO YOUTH RALLY, NAJIB HAD VOWED TO BATHE THE ’KERIS’ WITH CHINESE BLOOD.
MAHATHIR WAS THEN UNDER PRESSURE FROM FACTIONS LED BY TENGKU RAZALEIGH HAMZAH. IN 1987, TENGKU RAZALEIGH CHALLENGED MAHATHIR FOR THE UMNO PRESIDENCY. MAHATHIR MANAGED TO RETAIN HIS POSITION, BUT THE STRUGGLE LEFT UMNO SPLIT DOWN THE LINE.
MAHATHIR WAS ALSO TRYING TO HAMMER THROUGH A TOLLED HIGHWAY DEAL THAT WAS STRENOUSLY OPPOSED BY ACTIVISTS AND POLITICAL RIVALS WHO WARNED THE EXORBITANTLY-PRICED PROJECT WOULD SHACKLE THE COUNTY IN DEBT.
OPS LALANG HELPED HIM TO STAY IN POWER
TODAY, MAHATHIR ADMITTED THAT OPS LALANG CRACKDOWNS HELPED HIM TO STAY IN POWER UNTIL 2003. MAHATHIR IS THE LONGEST SERVING PM FROM 1981 TO 2003.
“AS A RESULT, WE HAD TO ARREST SOME PEOPLE AND PUT THEM UNDER ISA. BUT WE DID NOT HAVE CLASHES AND I STILL WON THE ELECTION WITH TWO-THIRDS MAJORITY,” SAID MAHATHIR.
HOWEVER, HIS WORDS FAILED TO CREATE MUCH IMPACT WITH PAKATAN LEADERS, WHO WHILE THEY ACKNOWLEDGE HIS HUGE WEALTH AND STILL SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE IN UMNO, HAVE LITTLE RESPECT LEFT FOR HIM.
“AT THE END OF THE DAY, UMNO AND BN IS FULL OF INTRIGUE. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR THE UMNO ELITE IS TO STAY IN POWER. ONCE THEY ARE OUT, JUST LIKE SUHARTO AND MARCOS, THEY WILL BE HUNTED DOWN AND MADE TO RETURN THE WEALTH THEY STOLE FROM THE COUNTRY,” PAKATAN WATCHER EDDIE WONG TOLD MALAYSIA CHRONICLE.
“SO LIKE A BAND OF THIEVES, THEY ARE ALWAYS FIGHTING AND WATCHING EACH OTHER. NEVER EXPECT ANY REDEMPTION FROM MAHATHIR OR BADAWI OR NAJIB. THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE MALAYSIA AND THE MALAYS IS TO REJECT UMNO AND BN.”
An Israeli court has acquitted former prime minister Ehud Olmert on two key corruption charges while finding him guilty on a lesser charge, in a verdict he hailed as just.
The Jerusalem district court on Tuesday cleared Olmert on charges of receiving cash-stuffed envelopes and falsely billing trips abroad multiple times, but convicted him on the charge of granting favours to a former colleague during his time as a minister.
Olmert still faces a second trial over allegations he accepted bribes during his time as Jerusalem mayor to smooth the way for the construction of the massive Holyland residential complex in the city.
Under Israeli legal precedent, a Cabinet minister, including a premier, must step down if he is indicted for a serious crime. When Olmert was charged in September 2009, he resigned.
Al Jazeera’s Melissa Chan, reporting from Jerusalem, explained that the Olmert case is familiar to even the casual observer in Israel.
“He had faced a maximum of five years and it now looks like he will serve about four months of community service.”
“There are already questions coming out about the prosecution: why they went forward when the evidence was not strong enough… as he was aquitted of two charges… There will be very tough questions and suspicians ahead.”
The verdicts on Tuesday cover three separate cases: illegally accepting funds from an American supporter, double-billing Jewish groups for trips abroad and giving jobs to unqualified political cronies.
The American supporter has testified to giving Olmert hundreds of thousands of dollars, some of it in envelopes stuffed with cash. Olmert has denied any wrongdoing.
The trial covered offences allegedly committed before Olmert became prime minister, while he served as mayor of Jerusalem and later as a Cabinet minister. The charges were filed only after he became premier.
“It’s been a long, drawn-out affair and all the details are out there in the media. It has added to the cynical view here that government is corrupt and it’s true that other politicians have been convicted,” our correspondent said.
Chan added: “Even so, legal scholars say there may be a silver lining, which proves there is a rule of law in Israel and no one is above it, including the prime minister.”
Olmert’s legal woes do not end with Tuesday’s verdict.
He is still facing a separate trial in which he is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to promote a contentious Jerusalem building project when he was the city’s mayor and later the Cabinet minister of industry and trade.
The flurry of allegations hurt Olmert’s chances of reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians. Olmert claimed to be close to an accord just as he was driven from the premiership.
Since leaving office, Olmert has said he offered the Palestinians a peace deal under which Israel would have ceded about 93.5 per cent of the occupied West Bank, along with Israeli territory to make up for the 6.5 per cent of the West Bank land that Israel would retain.
He also proposed international administration of east Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy sites.
At the time, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator said they turned down the offer because they were not willing to compromise over full control of east Jerusalem. Negotiations have been largely frozen since Olmert left office.
There were other instances of corruption in Olmert’s Cabinet. His former finance minister was sentenced to five years for embezzlement, and another member of his Cabinet was sentenced to four years for taking bribes.
Neither case occurred while the two were in the Cabinet.
Last year, former Israeli president Moshe Katsav was sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted of rape and other sex crimes. He served as president from 2000 to 2007.
Olmert faced corruption accusations throughout his long political career but has never been convicted.
The 66-year-old Olmert has largely stayed out of the public eye since stepping down.
A veteran politician known less as a statesman than as a backroom dealmaker, Olmert was catapulted unexpectedly into the country’s top job when a stroke incapacitated his predecessor, Ariel Sharon.
Besides the inconclusive peace efforts with the Palestinians, his term was marked by a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah in 2006 and a bruising offensive in Gaza in early 2009.