Thursday, December 10, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
GST - details
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
'Penans will die if jungle is destroyed'
Penan village leader Unga Paren is on a mission. He wants his people to be able to continue living peacefully in their environment as they have been doing for thousands of years.
He wants all form of harassments and pressures to uproot them from the villages by the logging companies and politicians - at most times working in tandem - to stop.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Al Jazeera has spoken to families in Northern Kenya who say their men and children are being taken off to train in secret camps, and that the Kenyan government is involved.
Mohammed Adow reports from Nairobi.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
By ANDREW SIA | Sunday October 25, 2009 | staronline
A former minister shares eyebrow-rising inside stories from his long political career.
UNLESS the name on the cover is Mahathir or Badawi, ministerial memoirs wouldn’t usually be greeted with bated breath.
But the book by Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat that was released on Oct 12 has been causing quite a stir.
He was, after all, the person who controlled for more than a decade what the Malaysian public saw and heard on Government TV and radio channels as Information Minister from 1987 to 1999.
Now, aged 71 and suffering from diabetes and cancer, Tok Mat, as he is known, freely admits that his job was really as a Propaganda Minister.
In his political memoirs (photo), Umno: Akhir Sebuah Impian (Umno: The End of a Dream), he explains how his ministry’s campaigns, such as Setia (Loyalty), were actually a response to the Team A versus Team B split in Umno in 1987.
“I had to bring Malay loyalty back to Umno. And I had to raise a presumption that anybody who supported (Team B led by Tengku Razaleigh then) was not loyal. I went all out in this psychological warfare,” he writes.
“The Malays were numb to political arguments ... I needed something that penetrated the heart. I needed a song.”
So he wrote one himself: the famous Setia song with its supposedly patriotic lyrics (“Demi negara yang tercinta”, or “For our beloved country”, goes the first line) that was broadcast for years especially via the Government’s RTM (Radio Televisyen Malaysia) stations.
Tok Mat admits in his book that he first used Information Ministry staff in 1977 on a “mission” to topple the PAS State Government of Kelantan.
He reveals that later, in 1995, during the Sabah state elections, he sent 500 ministry staff members to “campaign for Umno” against PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah, which was controlling the state government then).
“The officers went to the ground,” he explains in fluent English at a recent interview.
“They rented rooms in villages, they slept and ate like the locals, they gathered information and persuaded the people. This silent propaganda works very well.”
Since government machinery is supposed to be neutral, I ask Tok Mat if he considers what he did an abuse of power.
He replies: “You could say I abused radio and TV, but it was a privilege I had. I could not depend on TV3, (The New) Straits Times, Berita Harian or Utusan Malaysia because they were then controlled by Anwar Ibrahim’s boys. I had no choice but to use RTM.
“I was asked to bring PBS down. I shut the media off, there were no reports. People didn’t know what the Sabah Government was doing, so it looked like they were doing nothing. It was a very dirty tactic,” he now admits.
Tok Mat (photo) had his secondary school education at Johor Baru’s English College before doing a Bachelor of Arts at Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta.
He tells me that he learnt the basics of propaganda when he was a script writer for Filem Negara (the National Film Board) in
the mid 1960s. “There was no TV then, so that was the Government’s only (way to generate) propaganda,” he recalls.
He honed his innate musical ability there and picked up film editing skills too. He later went on to personally devise the melody and lyrics of various songs, including Setia, Syukur and Sejahtera Malaysia, that were used for his “nation-building” campaigns.
Tok Mat has always had a fondness for oldies by Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby, and once even made it to the quarter finals of Radio Singapore’s talentime singing contest in the 1950s.
“Tan Sri can sing and he can play the piano by ear,” chips in his wife, Puan Sri Salbiah A. Hamid, who is also at the interview. “And he can write. I still keep all his love letters from when we met as teenagers,” she smiles.
With these skills, Tok Mat became the chief loyalist and cheerleader for then Prime Minister Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whose political rivals included Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh and, later, Anwar.
He claims that most Umno people were hedging their bets then: “Everybody was half leg here, half leg there, very few were working (100%) for Dr Mahathir. I was totally devoted to him.”
But then again, he has a chapter in his book that declares I Am Not a Yes Man. In it, he cites how the developers of the Second Link to Singapore, who were Dr Mahathir’s “friends”, were trying to acquire the land of villagers in his constituency at 80 sen per sq ft (psf) so they could resell it at RM17.80 psf! He claims that he spoke up despite Dr Mahathir’s anger with him, and helped the villagers secure a better deal.
When the Setia campaign was not sufficient to bring back Malay support to Umno, Tok Mat says his ministry then launched the Semarak campaign in 1988, during which Dr Mahathir had massive “meet the people” sessions.
“I told the police chief,” says Tok Mat, “I don’t want to see any police uniforms around Mahathir, because that looks like we live in a police state. Instead, I gave the policemen Setia T-shirts to wear, so it looked like he was surrounded by the public.”
Tok Mat’s promotion of Dr Mahathir – who certainly had his critics, even in those days – indirectly made him “the most hated man in Malaysia”, he says.
In his book, he even acknowledges that people called him the “barking dog of the government”: “When the people hated Dr Mahathir, I became the face of the Government for them to hurl abuse at,” he writes.
But he took all this as a sign of “success” because it meant that he had managed to “penetrate people’s minds” to provoke anger: “In the art of propaganda, touching a nerve is very important,” he explains.
Tok Mat claims that a sign of Setia’s success was that he has personally heard even non-Malays singing the song. As for the Semarak campaign, he says the crowds at Dr M’s meet-the-people sessions ranged from 30,000 up to 100,000.
Were civil servants “pressured” into attending such events?
“No,” he asserts, “nor did we provide transport or give out free T-shirts.”
His “propaganda” might have been successful, but the Government still hired a PR and advertising firm during his tenure to advise on winning popular support. Now in hindsight, he is critical of the move.
“I think I was more effective because I understand the culture better. I had 1,000 officers working on the ground giving me feedback. Even Pak Lah (former PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) used these foreigners. But what results did these PR people get?”
Tok Mat’s detractors say one of his career missteps took place in May 1999 when many Malays were angry at Umno over the Anwar Ibrahim saga.
Tok Mat alienated non-Malay voters (who were to play a crucial role in returning Barisan Nasional to power in the general elections later that year) with his infamous remark that Anwar’s wife, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, was “unfit” for leadership as she had been “educated in Singapore” and had “darah cap naga” (dragon brand blood), an euphemism for Chinese blood or lineage.
“No, it wasn’t a mistake,” says Tok Mat now. “Because Anwar wanted Azizah to become Prime Minister. By the way, I am also cap naga. My mother is a Chinese (who was adopted by Malays). So I can talk. I can scold the Chinese and the Malays because I am one of them.”
Whether by coincidence or not, Tok Mat was relieved of his minister’s post in May 1999 too. However, he writes that this was because “forked tongues” whispered to Dr Mahathir that he was a secret Anwar supporter.
“What I can’t forget is the way Dr Mahathir dropped me without any hati budi (grace and gratitude),” he writes in the chapter entitled Habis Madu Sepah Dibuang (When the Sweetness is Finished, the Tasteless Part is Thrown Away).
Since then, he has become more critical of his former political master. For instance: “We know that Dr Mahathir blamed Pak Lah in all aspects even though the initial problems were caused by he himself. This is the ‘expertise’ of Dr Mahathir,” writes Tok Mat sardonically.
Despite his rather caustic tone, Tok Mat says to me, “It may sound like it lah ... but I don’t hate Dr Mahathir. I’m not angry with him. I still consider him a great leader of the country.”
In fact, he leaps to Dr Mahathir’s defence when I ask him about other controversial episodes when Dr M was PM.
However, he adds that money politics really became a “cancer” within Umno during Dr Mahathir’s era.
“In the old days, the corruption was smaller. If an Umno branch leader did not get a taxi permit, he would dissolve his branch. Now many Umno leaders are busy looking for big projects. That’s the success of the NEP (New Economic Policy),” he laughs.
More seriously, his book concludes, “Umno has jeopardised its image with power grabbing, money politics, bribery and excessive racism by certain leaders.... Umno must reform or I fear the End of the Dream (for the party) will really happen.”
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Fri, 25 Sep 2009 22:26:56 GMT | PressTV
Thousands of Muslim men and women have gathered outside Capitol Hill to hold a prayer meeting and demonstrate against prejudice against Islam.
On Friday, the crowd prayed on lawns outside the building in an event organized by the Dar-ul-Islam Elisabeth mosque, in northeastern New Jersey.
"In addition to being a historic event I think it's just a matter of all the Muslims coming together in one location to perform what is our obligation for the Friday prayer," said one of the participants Lonnie Shabazz.
"The message was clear. I think the message basically was to let the American public know that all the stigmas that are attached to Muslims are not true." On their website, the organizers, who had been hoping to attract some 5,000 people, said that they wanted "to manifest Islam's majestic spiritual principals as revealed by Allah to our beloved Prophet."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Mahathir unveiled the Vision of 2020 plan for Malaysia in 1991. Malaysia was to become an industrialized nation and be considered a high-income economy. Najib refined (that is double speak to mean ‘no can do lah’) that vision: “It is clear that our Vision 2020 objective has to be refined to remain viable,” Najib said.. “Being richer alone does not define a developed nation. There are important social and quality-of-life measurements that must be factored in when considering our objectives and successes.” Malaysia needs to “redefine and recalibrate” how and when it will achieve Vision 2020, Najib told reporters after the speech. That doesn’t necessarily mean a change in the timeline, he said.
I would have agreed with him in principal had he not put in the “that does not necessarily mean a change in the timeline” proviso. I am no economist but let us just use common sense to look at realities.
Let us look at the differences between salaries earned, the cost of a vehicle and a house between 1973 and 2009.
|1.3 liter Japanese Car||7,000||60,000||8.5|
|Double Story House||45,000||300,000||6.6|
It is the same story when you compare salaries of shop assistants, office staff, factory workers and a whole range of other workers and professional. I have used these 3 items a house, a car and salary earned as a measurement of the country’s performance for the past 35 years to gauge our standard of living. There is little difference in salary between 1973 and 2009 – and yet our purchasing power is vastly different. While the starting income for a newly graduated Engineer between 1973 to 2009 has only doubled – the cost of a car has increase 8.6 times and that of a house 6.6 times.
Fast forward to today.
Ask the kids working at McDonald how much they were being paid per hour? RM3.00 per hour x 8 hours = RM24 per day. Working 25 days a month means they get RM600 per month.
In Australia my daughter works part-time during her University days at Gloria Jeans Coffee. She is paid Aud$14.00 per hour x 8 hours a day =Aud$112 a day x 25 days = Aud$2,800 per month.
(@ RM2.92 per = One Aud Dollar x Aud$2800 = RM8176 per month).
My daughter earns 13.6 times more that the girl at McDonalds in Malaysia.
Our Government lays claim to the fact that Malaysia will be a developed country 2020? A high income country? Let us look further.
2005 Financial Times Figures
GNP per Capita in US Dollars.
The above figures are the 2005 Financial Times figures for GNP per Capita in US Dollars – a measurement of developed country by income measurements.
Malaysia’s GNP per Capita US$3540. Malaysia a developed country by 2020? Not likely. This is a really sad story and a worrying trend is it not?
The Ringgit is sliding further and further under Barisan Nasional. To compound the effect of inflation, the Ringgit has depreciated greatly against ALL major currencies. The real income of most Malaysians has moved backwards. This is why many Malaysians suffer under the petrol hike. The root of the problem is that our real incomes have shrunk in the face of inflation and a depreciated currency. Malaysians have not been spoiled by subsidy but are unable to move out of the time lock of stagnated and depreciated incomes. If you compare the per capita incomes of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea they are a few multiples of ours although at independence all these countries were on the same economic level as Malaysia .
What has gone wrong? Were we not once the rising star of East Asia? A country rich in natural resources with the most promising potential?
Massive Corruption for one! Plundering of our precious resources, wastage of funds for huge non-economic projects, anti-public interest deals with politically-linked companies and passing-of-the-buck to the man in the street. I repeat – passing of the buck to the man on the streets!
Four decades of a mismanaged NEP where education, economic and employment policies defined by race without the necessary checks and balances ensured that meritocracy took a back seat.
Our university standard has declined and today our best and brightest youths emigrate to escape the racial inequality and instead now contribute to the economies of foreign lands.
The reputation of our judiciary which was once held in high esteem worldwide has sunk so low that foreign investors now insist on arbitration in Singapore in case of any dispute.
We also have a slew of oppressive laws such as the ISA, OSA, University and University Colleges Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) which all stifle free speech and are designed to keep the ruling parties in power.
We have become less attractive to foreign investors and now lag behind our neighbors in Asean for foreign direct investment. Even some corporations who have established themselves here are moving out. All the economic and social malaise cannot help but affect the value of our currency. The strength of a country’s currency is after all, a reflection of its fundamentals. Furthermore, Bank Negara has a policy of a weak Ringgit to help exporters – never mind the burden on the common folk. The government is pro-corporation, not pro-Rakyat.
While the poor and middle-class are squeezed, an elite group gets breathtakingly rich. We have the distinction of having the worse income disparity in Asean. A re-distribution of wealth is under way from the poor and middle-class to a select group of politically-connected elite. The end result of this re-distribution will be a small group of super-rich while the majority are pushed into poverty and the middle-class shrinks. This is what happens when the rich gets richer and the poor get poorer.
There is much that is wrong with Malaysia. The responsibility for pulling the country backwards can be laid squarely at the door of the ruling regime – Barisan Nasional. It is BN’s mis-governance, racial
politics and culture of patronage and greed which has seen the country regress economically and socially. We seem to be sliding down a slippery slope, further down with each passing year of BN’s rule. Another five years of BN rule and we’ll be at Indonesia ’s standard under Suharto. Another 10 years and we’ll be touching the African standard.. What a way to greet 2020. Is there any hope for Malaysia?
Faced with the reality that BN will never change, many Malaysians desperate for change turn their eyes to Pakatan Rakyat.
Pakatan Rakyat has promised to treat all races fairly, to plug wastage, fight corruption, reform the judiciary and make Malaysia more competitive. But some have questioned whether we can trust Anwar Ibrahim and his loose coalition of disparate parties. The question is not whether we can trust the opposition but whether we can afford not to in view of our state of affairs.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
31 August 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Wed, 01 Jul 2009 | PressTV
Nearly a day after the detention of former US lawmaker Cynthia McKinney by Israeli forces, Washington has yet to make a reaction.
Israeli Navy detained former US congresswoman and Nobel Prize laureate Cynthia McKinney and twenty other human rights activists on board a relief boat outside Israel's territorial waters on Tuesday as they were heading to Gaza on a humanitarian mission.
Tel Aviv claims the boat was trying to break Israel's two-year siege on Gaza. Ms McKinney -- the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States-- has accused Tel Aviv of violating the international law by seizing an aid vessel in international waters.
"This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip," McKinney said in a statement. "We are asking the international community to demand our release so we can continue our journey," she added. "My wife and I are very concerned about her safety," Cynthia's father told Press TV in a phone call.
Bill McKinney said that the US government should support Cynthia's message and added, "Her major concern is human." Green Party leaders have called on the White House and the US State Department to intervene and demand the immediate release of all the activists.
On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned of dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, saying 1.5 million Palestinians living in the coastal sliver are 'trapped in despair' because of the continuing Israeli blockade on the territory.
Since June 2007, when Israel imposed a blockade on the territory, no raw material has entered Gaza, stalling any attempt to rebuild the strip. According to the humanitarian agency report, seriously ill patients were not receiving the treatment they needed and thousands of Gazans whose homes were destroyed during Israel's three-week Christmas war were still without shelter.
Likely topics on the agenda include Iran, Afghanistan, U.S. ballistic missile defense installations in Poland and Russia's overall sphere of influence.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
As the crisis surrounding MPs’ expenses exposes the level of blatant fraud in Britain’s parliamentary system Simon Basketter looks at why capitalist democracy fails us
Britain’s famous parliament building overlooks the Thames, its gothic permanence supposedly representing the timelessness of the “mother of all parliaments”.
But it is a fake, just like the democracy it symbolises. It was built in the mid-19th century as a symbol of the British Empire and capitalism.
The eruption of a political crisis over MPs’ expenses has shone a light on the facade of British democracy, and the murky dealings of those who are supposed to represent us.
Parliament has been an instrument of the ruling class throughout its existence.
New Labour came to power in 1997 saying that it wanted to democratise Britain. Tony Blair promised the 1999 Labour Party conference that he would fight “the forces of conservatism, the cynics, the elites, the establishment”.
Ten years on from Blair’s pledge, the British ruling class is still almost exclusively white, male, over 50 and from a wealthy background.
The House of Lords is more dependant than ever on patronage, and the Commons has been revealed as corrupt.
New Labour has marked a new stage in the centralisation of government.
It is supine in its subservience to corporate power. The growth of privatisation and unelected quangos in the last 12 years have served to reduce democratic control.
Even New Labour’s celebrated Freedom of Information Act was more concerned to conceal than reveal. It was a leak to a newspaper that revealed the MPs’ expenses scandal not the act itself – which they had fought hard to exclude themselves from.
The ruling class’s hold on “democratic institutions” remains. Many MPs and members of the House of Lords have been to public schools, where pupils are taught to rule.
In the 1950s the establishment joked that a sign should hang outside the elite Eton school reading, “Cabinet makers to Her Majesty the Queen.”
Recently we have seen a slight move away from public school and Oxbridge cabinet members. However, a boom in private schools under Labour means we can look forward to a future generation of politicians and bosses who have never been near a comprehensive school.
And if Tory leader David Cameron wins the next general election he will become the 19th, of 52, prime ministers to have attended Eton.
Even the nature of Labour MPs has been altered over the last few years. The party’s rush to embrace free market economics means it has lost many of the links it once had with the working class.
For decades it sent people from working class backgrounds to parliament. While many of them did little for ordinary people, and others did more harm than good, there was an idea that they were there to represent workers.
But now Labour, as Peter Mandelson infamously put it, is “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”. Its policies and the people who implement them reflect this.
Very few New Labour MPs come from working class backgrounds, with many coming from the middle class professions.
Labour was founded on the belief that capitalism cannot be replaced with a better system. It believed that there could be improvements and reforms when the system can afford it.
This view affected the party’s trajectory, policies and its representatives.
When capitalism cannot afford any changes, Labour acts for the system rather than the workers it is supposed to represent.
Capitalism is built on competition. The rush for profits piles pressure on each company to gain an advantage by developing strong relations with the state while cutting out its rivals.
Historically these interests have used the political system to fight for dominance. The state has been used to repress any movement that has challenged our rulers’ power.
When a crisis hits, British institutions have appeared to embrace drastic reforms, while remaining basically unchanged. They are a facade behind which the real rulers can pursue their objectives.
In reality, the handful of people who control the big corporations and financial institutions take all the major decisions about investment and jobs. They have only one interest – profits.
Because this drive impacts on the lives of millions of people, who capitalists try to make work longer and harder to maintain their wealth, it creates conflict.
The state, including parliament, claims to stand above these conflicts and to mediate between different groups in the interests of society as a whole.
But ultimately they always come down on the side of the class that shapes society through its economic decision-making.
Partly this is because the judges, the police chiefs, the military top brass and the secret service chiefs all come from the same background as the people who run the top firms.
They are allowed to share some of the wealth of the system and they all maintain close connections. These people represent the core of the state machine. They will stop at nothing to preserve their power.
Where does parliament fit into this? Parliament does not control these
unelected officials, who often pursue their own anti-democratic agendas and have a big effect on government.
In the past representatives of the ruling class used to go to London to argue among themselves, and with the monarch.
Politicians were the members of the classes they represented. As other classes developed their own interests, they too engaged in politics.
During the 19th century, politics became the sphere of the professional politician rather than the factory or the landowner.
Even the great democratic surge of the 19th and early 20th century was contained by channelling it into the structures of the system.
The state is the instrument by which the wealthy rule. But it is not necessary for its members to be present at all the meetings.
Wealthy individuals and corporations no longer need direct representatives in parliament or government to safeguard their interests. There are still a few rich men in parliament, and some old money persists – such as moat-owning Douglas Hogg.
But most of the time the rich and multinational firms can rely on lobbyists and pressure groups to push their cases for reduced taxation, regulation or increased attacks on the poor.
This process has seen an enthusiastic acceleration under Labour, which has embraced neoliberalism.
In recent years big business has attempted to make the government the direct servant of its immediate needs. We can see this most starkly when companies get into trouble and then demand that the government bails them out.
But it is also there in the background with corporations asserting their control over the state. Thousands of private sector lobbyists swarm around Westminster jostling for access and influence.
History shows us that parties that people elect to shift power away from the minority to the majority invariably end up administering the system that they had hoped to change.
There is another reason why parliamentary institutions do not allow change.
We elect our MPs once every four of five years, with no control over them between elections and with no means of holding them to account.
Workers vote as atomised constituents, allowing them to be influenced by the propaganda of the corporate media and the state. Our power lies in our collective strength in the workplace, where we can resist the diktats of the bosses.
Under capitalism, real power is concentrated beyond our reach – at the heart of the state and the corporations.
After over 100 years of Labour politicians sitting at the ruling class’s administrative trough and failing to change the system in workers’ interests, its time we looked elsewhere to get real democracy.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
June 02, 2009 - Royal Dutch Shell is to go on trial in a US court over alleged crimes against humanity and exploitation of the oil-rich Niger Delta more than 10 years ago.
The Dutch oil giant is accused of sponsoring a terror campaign by Nigerian security forces that led to the death of activist and author Ken Saro-Wiwa along with eight others in 1995.
Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
2008 saw a global economic crisis. Stock markets crashed, banks went under and countries are hovering on the edge of bankruptcy – with governments rallying to find the billions needed for bailouts.
Amnesty International believes they may be missing the point…
“This is not just an economic crisis; it’s fundamentally a human rights crisis. We are sitting on a powder keg of injustice, inequality and insecurity. This is a time bomb of social, political and economic problems.” – Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International
Friday, May 22, 2009
Chin Peng & Mat Amin
KUALA LUMPUR, May 22,2009 – Bernama
The Ex-Policemen’s Association of Malaysia (PBPM) has protested against a call for former communist leader Chin Peng to be allowed to return to Malaysia.
PBPM acting president Ku Mohamad Khalid Tuan Ibrahim said the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) had waged a reign of terror against the country during the Emergency where scores of policemen were slain.
The suggestion made by Penang Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan is uncalled for, said Ku Mohamad.
Dr Teng Hock Nan has called on the government to re-look at Chin Peng’s case and allow the CPM chairman to return to the country on humanitarian grounds as he was no longer a security threat.
“Many people were also killed. The country was in upheaval during the communist insurgency,” said Ku Mohamad Khalid, adding that Dr Teng should study the implication of his suggestion.
Umno Youth information chief Datuk Reezal Merican said the movement was against any move to make a hero out of a person who had committed crimes on the people and country.
“The crimes inflicted on the people cannot be neutralised merely for sentimental values under whatever circumstances,” he said.
He urged all quarters to refrain from extremist views which could raise the anger of certain groups.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
14 May 2009 - Interview: Myanmar journalist Aung Zaw
This echoes another US court's compassion toward Mr. Bernard Madoff, who was allowed bail, despite being charged with the biggest fraud in the history of mankind, near $50 billion, and who, while under 'house arrest' in his mansion apartment in New York, was busy dispensing his private possessions to relatives to avoid being forced to provide even meager restitution to his countless creditors.
Not so lucky was Mr. Jerry Williams, 27, who in 1995 was sentenced to 25 years to life for stealing a slice of pizza. Admittedly, it could have been his third offense, which put him at the wrong end of California's "three strikes" law, but in all likelihood, all that Mr. Williams ever stole in his life would not amount to Harvard Law School graduate Marc Dreier's gasoline costs for his Aston Martin and Mercedes.
Welcome to the US of A.