from the Penang Heritage Trust
Soonstead, originally called Northam Lodge, was built by the prominent architect James Stark in 1911 for the rubber and sugar planter Heah Swee Lee. The house was a focus of George Town’s high society. At the housewarming, the Straits Settlements Legislative Councillor A. R. Adams congratulated the owner on his ‘splendid domicile’ and the architect on the ‘excellent results’.
The mansion, at 46B Northam Road (Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah) is Penang’s leading ‘castle mansion’, setting the fashion for the city’s grand houses. It was emulated by Lim Lean Teng’s Woodville, also on Northam Road, and Choong Lye Hock’s on Macalister Road, designed by Chew Eng Eam.
Soonstead is one of the few homes on Penang’s ‘Millionaire’s Row’ still set within its original grounds, which stretch out towards the sea.
Planning permission has now been sought for a 13-storey hotel tower block. With the proposed development, Soonstead would be mutilated and dwarfed by the 11-storey hotel of 108 rooms and 2-storey parking; its garden setting and relationship with the sea would be lost.
Such an outcome would make a mockery of George Town’s status and responsibilities as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS). It is important to maintain the architecture and urban setting of George Town’s adjacent historic townscape in sympathy with the WHS as part of our legacy for future generations.
In 1989, the Municipal Council drew up a list of 20 heritage buildings on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah and drafted guidelines for the sensitive development of the area; Soonstead was identified as one of the heritage buildings worth conserving. Yet many developments approved in the last 25 years have compromised the character of ‘Millionaire’s Row’. Soonstead should not become another victim of guidelines being ignored.
The Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) urges the Penang state government and the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) to protect the heritage of Soonstead, and calls for a moratorium on development in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah until MPPP’s own guidelines and the developments in this area have been reviewed.
Democracy is practised every day, not just once in five years at election time, in many different ways. Khairy Jamaluddin’s remark is one of those ways: to show respect for the power of the people, and respect for institutions such as independent courts and an independent civil service.
Democracy in practice shows respect for the rights of the people, over and above the interests of the party.
That has not been the case in Umno’s practice of democracy, and Khairy is going against the grain in his remarks. For Umno, the party is everything, since 1969 when the Young Turks of Umno rose against Tunku Abdul Rahman, demanding to know: does the party rule the government or does the government rule the party?
After forcing the Tunku out, Umno spread its tentacles through every institution of government to the extent that Malaysia today is very much a one-party state, like communist China, where the party dictactes to the government.
Khairy’s statement of belief should be welcomed, emulated, and practised throughout the federal and state governments. To restore proper democratic practices, we must restore the separation between party and government that Umno itself destroyed.
We must reject the old and say: No, the party is not the government.
Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor should take heed.
If only other politicians in Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional similarly showed a willingness to accept and to practise a people’s democracy, we might all begin to get somewhere.
» What Khairy said [MalaysiaKini]
» On professional civil servants [Astro Awani]
When someone is elected to the state assembly or to Parliament, the first thing they do is to take an oath. Only then are they allowed to take their seats. For the Selangor legislative assembly, the oath goes like this:
- I will bear true faith and allegiance to the State of Selangor
- I will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the State of Selangor
This is not an ordinary oath. You cannot just go somewhere, angkat sumpah and pay RM2. It is made before the Almighty and directly under Clause 72 of the state constitution, the supreme law of Selangor. Does it have any value? Is it just a mere formality — just say and forget?
When a dispute broke out between Parti Keadilan Rakyat and their former member Khalid Ibrahim, the various wakil rakyat who come from Pakatan Rakyat parties went and took another oath, under civil law, which is one level below the Constitution.
They said they no longer support the member for Port Kelang and do not wish him to continue as Menteri Besar of Selangor.
The Wakil Pelabuhan Kelang is Khalid Ibrahim, a member of the state assembly like those who made the declarations: all of them took the same oath under Article 72.
Now you have two sets of oaths. Read more…
FROM THE ‘THINKING ALOUD’ DEPARTMENT
- Is Anwar Ibrahim the ‘democracy icon’ as painted by western media?
- Is he a democrat or a revolutionary, a coup-maker and toppler of governments?
- If Pakatan stands for rule of law, why do they keep trying to bend the rules?
- Do political parties believe they actually own the government?
- How much money is riding on this? Which business patrons are behind Pakatan?
- Why go outside the democratically-elected state assembly to decide a government matter?
- Is the Speaker of the state assembly only a macai of the party?
- Are state Exco members also party tools, taking orders from party leaders?
- Are party elections more important than general elections?
- Since all those ways are the Barisan’s way, do the people really need Anwar or Pakatan?
Is Khalid’s ouster a step towards a ‘coup’ in Putrajaya?
Condensed and adapted from The Curse of ‘916’ published at The Ant Daily.The Khalid Ibrahim issue in Selangor has been an exercise in futility, of one political party attempting to oust a head of government through closed-door dealings. So far, that is. The party might still get away with it. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, PKR and allies, might still succeed in changing the power equation, to impose the will of a party over a state.
It is in Anwar’s interest to replace Khalid without a vote; if he succeeds, it will re-establish his image of revolutionary and coup maker, tarnished by the “916” debacle when he failed to oust the federal government in 2008 through declarations and a direct appeal to the palace.
Despite insisting that “I have the numbers”, it did not come off. Instead, “916” returned to slap Anwar in the face. Where he had failed, his rival Najib Razak succeeded in 2009, using Anwar’s own method against him to the Pakatan-backed government of Perak.
Now, any cabal of people, representing unknown interests, acting in secret outside the elected house of representatives, can persuade wakil rakyat to change sides and, by presenting signed declarations, ask a ruler to change a government.
It worked in Perak. It might still work in Selangor. Would it also work in Putrajaya later?With Perak and Selangor as precedents it is possible to imagine someone presenting Istana Negara with signed declarations and asking for a change of government.
Anwar and Pakatan tried that in 2008 and failed. If they now manage to change the federal government this way he would finally lay the ghost of “916” and could declare himself a coup maker and toppler of governments. A revolutionary.
But what if, once again, it is someone else who attempts it and succeeds?
Either way, it will come at the cost of the people being ignored; make a mockery of state assemblies and Parliament as houses of wakil rakyat; and place political parties and their leaders at the apex of the power structure.
Party Power will then triumph over People Power. Is that still the democratic way?
© Copyright 2014. All rights reserved
By Gobind Rudra
The year-old Rakyat Post and the fledgling Rakyat Times (no relation) have both faced complaints about journalists at their sites plagiarising work by other journalists, by “lifting” complete articles or substantial portions from other published reports, without permission.
• On Thursday, Malaysia Insider reporter Anisah Shurfah said the fledgling Rakyat Times plagiarised her story on the sacking of Khalid Ibrahim on Aug 9.
• Last month, Rakyat Post was exposed by lifestyle site Cilisos.my for having lifted its articles.
• In July, the Jakarta Globe complained that Bernama had plagiarised two of its articles in reports written by Bernama’s correspondent in Jakarta. The correspondent was withdrawn and Bernama promised disciplinary action.
• In August, Malay Mail Online’s reporter Boo Su-lyn told Facebook friends her story had been lifted by Free Malaysia Today. An editor at FMT left the next day, or was told to leave.
• Last October, Bernama plagiarised a story by Malaysiakini’s Susan Loone on its general news service. The Bernama account, with no indication it was not original work, was carried by Malaysian Insider, Star Online, Sin Chew and the Malay Mail. (Malaysian newspapers, online media, and broadcasters subscribe to Bernama’s news service: its reports may be freely used by its subscribers.) Read more…
With the compliements of
the fuglies of Bukit Aman and
police training college, Gurney
This week’s KAL cartoon
By courtesy of the Economist
Well, as most of you know, Anwar Ibrahim didn’t even stand for election in Kajang — the very reason for “the Kajang Move” strategy — because a court decision against him in his sodomy case ruled it out.
His wife Wan Azizah contested and won. But what if Anwar had been the candidate as originally planned? Would events have led to an uproar and public squabbling in Selangor after the by-election?
In January, a reader of Free Malaysia Today tried to predict what would happen. So, just for fun, let’s have a look at what he said eight months ago, and see how much of the future he was able to foresee. (I take the liberty of assuming the reader is a man.) In his emailed letter to FMT, Jeg Hui wrote:
- Anwar wins Kajang and motion of no confidence will be tabled by one of the ADUNs from PKR, probably by Azmin himself if not his proxy. PAS will abstain from voting instead of voting for or against.
- Motion to remove Khalid approved and Khalid steps down. Anwar will be fielded as the candidate for Menteri Besar. DAP agrees to his candidacy.
- The Sultan will be displeased by this but he would feel the need to punish PKR and Anwar by waiting until the very last minute to reject Anwar as Menteri Besar, his prerogative as the Sultan of Selangor.
- Knowing this, PAS will then drop the bombshell by announcing that they would severe its ties with Pakatan Rakyat to go for “better opportunity” with BN.
- Another bombshell will be dropped, this time from Khalid Ibrahim himself plus another PKR ADUN who immediately join Umno.
- Selangor falls to BN-PAS coalition. Federal gets stronger as well with BN-PAS.
- The Sultan accepts the Menteri Besar who will come from PAS. Khalid would play a pivotal role as the Economic Advisor, yes, something like what Anwar Ibrahim is right now.
Well, what do you think? Was he close to what has happened so far?
Stolen with apologies from a Facebook posting by Vivia Drusilla.
The Heat, a weekly newsmagazine from the HCK Media stable, is pulling out off the streets and will remain only as a digital and online publication; its stablemate, the fornightly Big Issue digital magazine will be closed, journalists say.
The changes are expected to take place in a couple of months’ time.
HCK Media is to concentrate its efforts on its flagship business weekly Focus Malaysia, with the Heat possibly re-emerging within a separate pullout section of Focus, while maintaining its digital edition.
As a business weekly Focus Malaysia is an obvious rival to the Edge, owned by businessman Tong Kooi Ong; The Edge group recently took over the Malaysian Insider, and closed its FZ.com feature-lifestyle online daily.
The Edge is Tong’s flagship, the hugely successful as the first business weekly in Malaysia and Singapore. Although its Malaysia circulation is only in the 20-30,000 range, the weekly draws lucrative advertising revenue with its range of specialist sections aimed at the high-income property and lifestyle markets. Edge group also publishes the Edge Financial Daily and Personal Money magazine.
Speaker has her own power to call next sitting of Dewan Negeri
Hannah Yeoh, Speaker of the Selangor state assembly, has the power to cut through the current public squabbling about Khalid Ibrahim and call a meeting of the assembly to decide whether Khalid should remain in office.
As head of the state legislature she can call the meeting by herself. She does not need the sultan’s approval beforehand.
Her power to do so is provided for by law, under the Standing Orders of the house. It allows the Speaker to set dates and call for a sitting of an assembly, while it is in session.
House runs own affairs
Only the Sultan can summon the assembly into session, and only the Sultan can dissolve the assembly. Those powers are under the Constitution, the supreme law.
But once the assembly is called into session, the house looks after its own affairs, as the legislature is an independent arm of constitutional government.
The sultan has already called the assembly into session: that was in April when the Sultan opened this year’s session; the house held its first sitting after that, and a second sitting was held in June. (A session usually lasts one year.)
The house is currently in recess after it adjourned sine die (without setting a new date) in June. The date of the next sitting will thus be decided by the Speaker, and the Clerk of the House will give members at least 28 days’ notice of the new date.