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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Demo bantah GST: Polis arah penganjur beri keterangan

Karpal killed in accident, son injured

Veteran opposition MP and lawyer Karpal Singh was killed in an accident near Gopeng in Perak this morning.

His long-time personal assistant Michael Cornandez, 39, was also killed.

Karpal's son Ram Karpal and the driver were also injured in the accident which occurred at 1.30am near 301.6 northbound marker along the the North-South Highway.

Malaysiakini learnt that Karpal and his son, who is also a lawyer, were heading north for a court case later today.

Photos taken at the scene of the accident show the white Toyota Alphard badly damaged.

When contacted, a Ipoh police spokesperson told Malaysiakini that it is believed the MPV collided with a lorry which switched lanes without indication.

Karpal's other son and Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo told The Star that his father had died on the spot.

"My brother Ram is slightly injured but we are trying to get through to him," he added when the daily contacted him at 3.30am.

Karpal, 74, became paralysed and wheelchair-bound after a car accident in 2005.

The vocal politician graduated from University of Singapore and started his law practice before running for Parliament in 1978.

His long tenure as Jelutong MP and fiery speeches in the Dewan Rakyat earned him the moniker "Tiger of Jelutong".

Karpal had recently relinquished his post as DAP chairperson pending the disposal of his appeal against a sedition charge.

Last month, the High Court found him guilty of uttering seditious words against the Sultan of Perak at the height of the constitutional crisis in 2009.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak conveyed his condolences via Twitter.

"I have just landed at Ankara when I heard the news that YB Karpal Singh died in a road accident. My condolences to the family," read the premier's tweet.

Other netizens also expressed condolences and shock over Karpal's passing.

"Shocked and sad news! DAP chairman Karpal Singh passed away in accident tonight. Malaysia has lost a truly patriotic son," wrote Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming.
"Our dear Mr Karpal is no longer with us... I just can't accept it...," said Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching.

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Police ‘being proactive’, says organiser over discussion on May Day rally

Ahead of a May Day and GST protest rally, police called the organisers for a “talk” about the programme as the Peaceful Assembly Act requires 10-day prior notice for any gathering.

"Police said they were just being proactive, reminding us that we need to give the relevant notice as per the Act," S. Arutchelvan (pic) said after the meeting at the Dang Wangi police headquarters today.

He said the police also wanted to know the programme for the rally and events organised in conjunction with it.

The police decision to engage the organiser comes after earlier action to charge other rally organisers in the city and elsewhere drew flak from civil society.

Notable among them included the 505 blackout rallies to protest the general election results, which saw several opposition leaders charged for illegal assembly.

Arutchelvam said they had wanted to know where it will be held and what we are going to do during the gathering.

“We told them that the event will start in front of the KLCC with speeches from representatives from civil societies and then we will walk to Dataran Merdeka. We will conclude our gathering there," said Arutchelvam, who is also secretary-general of Parti Sosialis Malaysia.

He said police had also asked them to suggest an alternative venue besides Dataran Merdeka as City Hall was carrying out upgrading work at the square.

"We told the police that Dataran Merdeka is important but nevertheless we will take this to our meeting and discuss it. As for now, Dataran Merdeka is still our end point," said Arutchelvan.

Arutchelvan was accompanied to today’s meeting by a legal adviser and a colleague and spent about one hour with Dang Wangi police chief ACP Zainuddin Ahmad and Kuala Lumpur public order head ACP Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid and other senior police officers to discuss the event.

"The officers said they wanted to know as they want to facilitate the organiser to ensure that all goes well," he said.

Arutchelvan, however, told the police to use their discretion in dealing with them.

"They need to use more discretion in handling the gathering issue. If we go strictly by the law, we can never gather due to many restrictions," Arutchelvan said.

He will be present at Dang Wangi police headquarters at 2.30pm next Monday for yet another round of discussions with the police.

PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu will also be attending the meeting, along with Tian Chua of PKR.

A coalition of some 90 non-governmental organisations and Pakatan Rakyat parties would mobilise Malaysians for the rally, to send a clear message against the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Committee member Dr Hatta Ramli on April 2, said the next 30 days would be spent working out the logistics for the rally.

Hatta, who is also PAS central working committee member, said the introduction of the tax would only burden the people further, especially those from the lower income group who did not need to pay for income tax.

He also pointed out that the introduction of the GST was the result of the failure of the current government to work on the current tax system especially the high income earners who manage to evade tax.

"It is a short cut way to victimise the defenceless public," he had said in a press conference held by the committee recently.

The rally, which is themed "GST - Protest till it is dropped", is also aimed to draw the participation of students, who will be among the hardest hit by the tax.

Rally coordinator E. Parameswari said May 1 rallies have been held in Malaysia since 1994, but hoped that this will be the biggest yet in terms of turnout.

Among the NGOs who have pledged support are Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia, Turun, Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Oppressed People's Network and Himpunan Hijau.

Other issues to be highlighted include the ongoing demand for a minimum wage of RM1,500, fair and free elections, environmental protection, free education, and the rights of women workers and migrant workers. – April 16, 2014.

Indira can turn to Shariah Court to get justice, ex-hubby’s lawyer tells High Court

Kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi (pic) must go to the Shariah Court to challenge a custody
order given by the religious court to her estranged husband, the High Court was told today.

Lawyer Asmuni Awi, who was appearing for Indira’s ex-husband Muhammad Ridzuan Abdullah (formerly known as K. Patmanathan), said disallowing non-Muslims to defend their rights in the Shariah Court was not consistent with Islamic law.

"It will tarnish the image of Islam in the eyes of non-Muslims," he said when making submissions in a contempt proceeding brought by Indira Gandhi against Ridzuan who had converted to Islam.

He subsequently converted their children – Tevi Darsiny, 16, Karan Dinish, 15, and Prasana Diksa, 5 – and obtained custody from the Shariah Court in September 2009.

Indira obtained her custody order from the High Court in 2010.

However, Ridzuan refused to return their youngest child, Prasana Diksa, to Indira, and has been holding on to the child since April 2009 when she was 11 months old.

Asmuni said Indira could appear in the Shariah Court as the Shariah Court Civil Procedure (Perak) 2004 stated that the religious court was duty bound to prevent injustice and abuse of court process.

He said the Shariah Court was the proper forum to resolve whether it had jurisdiction in granting the order to Ridzuan and this would be known if the validity of the order was challenged by Indira.

"It is not for the High Court to rule or give opinion that Indira is not allowed to appear in the Shariah Court. This is only possible if she appears in the religious court," he said.

He said it was premature and unfair for the High Court to cast aspersions by ruling that a non-Muslim could not appear in the Shariah Court.

"It is not for the courts to legislate to provide a remedy. The role of the court is to interpret the laws and give effect to the purpose as to why a legislation was enacted," he said.

He said contempt must be established beyond reasonable doubt and it must be shown that the act of disobedience was deliberate.

Asmuni said Ridzuan did not show disrespect to the 2010 High Court order because he had acted based on legal advice provided by his counsel.

"After all, the High Court is not superior to the Shariah Court as both are of equal standing under the Federal Constitution," he said.

Asmuni said the custody order of the Shariah Court was issued by a competent authority and the civil court could not interfere as the subject matter came under the jurisdiction of the religious court.

Lawyer Lim Heng Seng, who appeared for the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said a Federal Court ruling on unilateral conversion had held that a Shariah Court order which was in conflict with a civil court order was ineffective.

Lim, who appeared as amicus curae (friend of the court) on the invitation of High Court judge Lee Swee Seng, said Ridzuan could not run away from his responsibility arising from the civil marriage by converting to Islam.

He said the apex court had also held that a non-converting spouse could not be compelled to go the Shariah Court.

"But the spouse who had converted can come to the civil court," he added.

Counsel Philip T.N. Koh, who appeared with Lim, said although Islam was the religion of the federation, it did not render Malaysia to be non-secular .

On July 25 last year, Lee, in a landmark decision, quashed the certificates of conversion of the three children and ruled that the documents were null and void because they were unconstitutional.

He said under the Perak state enactment, it was a statutory requirement for a child to be present before a certificate of conversion could be issued.

He also cited provisions under the Perak Shariah law, which require the children to be present to utter the affirmation of faith (Kalimah Dua Syahadah).

Indira married the then Patmanathan 20 years ago according to Hindu rites.

Lee will deliver his ruling whether Ridzuan is guilty of contempt of court on May 30. – April 16, 2014.

Six deaths in custody renew demands for IPCMC

The suspicious circumstances behind a man's death in prison sounds another clarion call for the establishment of the Independent Police Complaint and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), human rights NGO Suaram said today.

The police had said N Harirajan, 34, had "died of AIDS" last Thursday, just three months into a six-year jail sentence in Kajang prison for robbery.

He was found dead in a gruesome state and his family said they were unaware that he had AIDS, even as a preliminary post-mortem diagnosed this.

Suaram said Harirajan was the sixth death in custody in the last three months.

"Harirajan faced similar injuries with bruises on chest, head, stitches above his right eye and bleeding from both ears. His eyes were still wide open while in the mortuary.
"Suaram demands an explanation over the condition of this young man in the hospital mortuary.

"How does he end up with blood stains on his body if the prison authorities claimed that he died of HIV?" Suaram coordinator R Thevarajan said in a statement.

He added that even though Harirajan died at 6am, his family was only informed in the afternoon.

Suaram said the IPCMC has been pending for nearly a decade and its delay showed that Malaysia lacked political will to control what might be police cruelty, with two custody deaths a month reported in February, March and April so far.

"Unfortunately the list is sure to grow longer by the end of the year. Interrogation methods and Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in handling criminal suspects and prisoners must be urgently reviewed and reformed," Thevarajan said.

He noted that the Enforcement Agency and Integrity Commission (EAIC) had so far taken no action to arrest the serious and shocking problem.

Zaid bemoans lack of 'sensible Malays'

According to Zaid Ibrahim, a sensible Malay is one who will not do to others what he or she doe not want done to them

And in his latest blog posting, the former de facto law minister wondered if there enough sensible Malays in the country now?

Answering his own question, he said: "I am afraid it's a difficult question and, as a Malay, I feel embarrassed that I am unable to say a definite 'yes'."

Commenting on the case involving S Deepa and her Muslim convert ex-husband Izwan Abdullah, Zaid (left) lamented that Malays today do not seem outraged that a mother cannot have custody of her own son—even with a High Court order—just because she is Hindu.

"Instead, Malays seem to be supportive of the father who became a Muslim and took the son away illegally (from his ex-wife), telling everybody of course that it was to prevent his son from being converted to Hinduism," he added.

Noting that Malays have changed dramatically over the years, Zaid argued that such a situation would have happened in the past.

"A generation ago, the Malay community would not have been silent. It would not have condoned this travesty of justice.

"Malays of the past would have had no difficulty accepting that changing the religion of a child requires the decision of both parents (or guardians). It's just common sense," he added.

However, he claimed that Malays today have "abandoned empathy and fairness".

"What matters to them is that the parent doing the conversion is a Muslim. Malays today do not bother to even consider how they might feel if they were on the receiving end—if, hypothetically, the law should allow a non-Muslim parent to unilaterally convert a Muslim child to Hinduism or Christianity.

"Malays today no longer believe that fairness is about doing to others what they want others to do to them.

"I am still Malay and I hope more Malays will not be cowards like our leaders. They must speak up for justice and the principle of fairness to all," he added.

Zaid reminded the Malays that it is not possible to be a strong community in the absence of basic sense of decency and fairness.

"If we have no capacity to feel for others, how will it be possible for us to do justice to our own kind?" he asked.

'Prophet didn't grant Muslim parent custody'

Prophet Muhammad did not automatically grant custody of a child to a Muslim parent when he was asked to judge on a custody dispute involving a Muslim father and non-Muslim mother.

According to independent Islamic scholar and preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin, the Prophet actually asked the child which of his parents he would prefer to be with.

"He placed the child between his non-Muslim mother and Muslim father and gave the child a choice. The child chose his non-Muslim mother.

"At that point, the Prophet said ‘Oh Allah, enlighten him’ and when the Prophet finished his prayer, the child went to his father," he wrote on his Facebook page.

When contacted by Malaysiakini, Wan Ji (right) said that the sunnah swayed the Hanafi and Maliki schools of thought to believe that custody should be granted on the basis of love, rather than the parents' faith.

This differed with the Shafie and Hanbali schools, which believe that it should be based on the parents' faith.

Wan Ji, who is a former PAS Ulama wing executive council member, said that he was inclined to adopt the view of the Hanafi and Maliki schools in the latest custody battle between S Deepa and her ex-husband Izwan Abdullah, a Hindu who converted to Islam.

This means custody should be granted to the Hindu mother rather than the Muslim father.

He said this is because the child is under seven, an age where he is considered in Islam to be ‘mumayiz’, that is being able to tell between right and wrong.

"At the age of six, the child is closer to his mother so I am more inclined to side with an argument based on love.

"I don't discount that some children are close to their fathers, but generally speaking, most children are closer to their mothers at a younger age as it is the mothers who nurse them,” he added.

'Islam prioritises love and safety'

Wan Ji said Muslims in Malaysia should look at the matter rationally, and not too emotionally, as even the Prophet did not insist that a child be cared for by a Muslim parent.

"I understand that some who want custody to be with the Muslim parent are concerned that the child may not be raised as a Muslim.
"However, I believe this can be solved as the court can still grant regular access to the father, even if the child is cared for by the mother,” he added.

He also urged all groups who have differing views on the matter to join a roundtable to discuss the matter with those who oppose them, so there is a rational and systematic solution.

"Islam would want love and safety (for the child) and not chaos," he said.

Izwan had snatched their six-year-old son from Deepa after the High Court granted her custody because he feared that she will not raise him as a Muslim. The couple have a nine-year-old daughter, who is with Deepa.

Deepa (left) said that she did not initially have plans to revoke her husband's unilateral conversion of her children to Islam.

However, she said that she is now determined to overturn the conversion after the boy was snatched from her Jelebu home.

"When they turn 18, they (the children) can choose what religion they want to (follow). I have nothing against Islam, because there are Muslims in my family too," she told Malaysiakini.

Deepa's mother, Siti Aishah, is a Muslim convert.

Police will not act on Deepa's report on the snatching, claiming that Izwan was granted custody by the Syariah Court. Deepa is filing a case against Izwan for contempt of court.

Ex-judge: Non-Muslim parents can have custody

The civil court can do justice in child custody disputes between a Muslim and a non-Muslim parent by granting custody to the non-Muslim parent with some conditions, says former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Noor Abdullah.

The conditions include not to let the Muslim children eat non-halal food and not to try to convert them.

“Both the Muslim and non-Muslim parents can share the custody of their Muslim children,” he told a news conference at Wisma Bernama in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“A non-Muslim parent who finds that the ex-husband or ex-wife has converted to Islam and also converted their children to Islam without his/her knowledge should bring up the matter or challenge it in the civil court.

“For example, when a father converted to Islam and converted his children too, the wife cannot appear in the syariah court to ask for justice, so she should take the case to the civil court.

“The civil court should call the Muslim and non-Muslim parents, listen to both and make a decision without interfering with the decision of the syariah court.”

Mohd Noor said: “Islam is a universal religion. Therefore, in a multiracial country like Malaysia, Islam must show a good example.

“It is not wrong to give the children to the Muslim father, but at least listen to what the non-Muslim mother has to say.”

He also said that the syariah court should be internationalised to enable the court to also listen to the grouses of the non-Muslim parent.

However, such a move would require amendments to the federal constitution, he added.

- Bernama

Ex-judge: Huge Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islamic teachings

(The Rakyat Post) - A retired Court of Appeals judge has expressed his view that the “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and a Buddhist temple in Penang were against the teachings of Islam as the religion forbids idol worship.

Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah said such statues of deities should not be out in the open, but should be placed within an enclosed building instead.

“With such a huge statue, you’re showing that your religion is all mighty and powerful,” Mohd Noor told the Malay Mail Online and Bernama in an joint interview yesterday, referring to the 42.7-metre high statue of Lord Murugan, the Hindu deity, at Batu Caves in Selangor.

Pointing to the Federal Constitution which states that Islam is the religion of the nation, the former judge insisted Islam was above other faiths.

“When non-Muslims build such big idols, it hurts people’s feelings,” he said, adding non-Muslims had freedom of worship, but such freedom must be exercised in a way where “Muslims don’t feel threatened”.

The retired judge also criticised the 30.2-metre high statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, at a Buddhist temple in Air Itam, Penang.

“Islam forbids images (of gods). Here, you allow images of Buddha in the country. That’s not consistent with Islam. But if you cover it up, you can allow it.”

Mohd Noor also called for Malaysians to set aside their racial identity and to think of themselves as Malaysians in order to foster national integration.

“The Constitution does not divide the community into Malays, Chinese, Indians and others.

“In the Federal Constitution, Malaysia is composed of the Orang Asli, natives, and non-native community.”

He noted that the Constitution defines natives as the Malays from the peninsula and the Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Malays now are inclusive Malays, not exclusive.”

Mohd Noor said that based on the Federal Constitution’s definition of a Malay — one who is defined as a Muslim who speaks the Malay language and conforms to Malay customs — Malaysians who convert to Islam should be considered Malay.

“Why should the Malays be jealous and reject them as Malays?

“People tell me that if Muslim converts are considered Malay, we’re selling off Malay rights to the Chinese and Indians.

“But Islam says that you should share and share alike with Muslims.”

Mohd Noor also called for the abolition of vernacular schools and said that Mandarin and Tamil could be taught at national schools instead.

“We can make English, Malay and Mandarin compulsory in national-type schools,” he said, noting that Mandarin had become an international language.

He added that Putrajaya should allocate more funds to develop the Orang Asli and native communities in Sabah and Sarawak, and also urged the Malays to “work hard like the Chinese”.

Mohd Noor first stirred controversy last year when he reportedly warned the Chinese of a Malay backlash for purportedly betraying the Barisan Nasional at the May 5 general election, which saw the ruling coalition’s worst-ever electoral performance.

“When Philosophy meets Religion”

Azly Rahman

An Invitation to a Virtual Interfaith Dialogue

Humanity cannot live by bread or rice alone – it needs transcultural philosophy as a foundation of morality.

The philosophical dimension of religion can be more powerful than its institutional and ritual. It should be through the philosophy of religion that one can explore the essence of the dialogue between what Hassidic philosopher Martin Buber calls, the “Thou and the I”, the Ultimate Self and the Ultimate Reality, or between Man and Creator. This is what is meant by the transcultural nature of mystical discourse. Those familiar with Buber’s philosophy will agree that the idea of the dialogical “I-Thou” contains a profound statement of Man’s ontological vocation, a transcultural-philosophical view can best be an avenue which can appeal to educational philosophers intending to explore universality in mystical thoughts.

For societies struggling to understand the potentials of an interfaith dialogue, this idea can be a good starting point for a powerful discourse.


Let me illustrate some of the salient mystical ideas that correspond Buber’s ‘relational philosophy’; namely those from the Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, and Islamic traditions. The transcultural dimension of I-Thou relation in the variety of religious experience points out to the Ultimate Reality and the illumination to self of which when this stage of enlightenment is achieved the “goodness” in Man is drawn out, Humanity reaches its moral epitome and the I-it world is imbued with the presence and vision of Thou-ness.

In Christianity, it is the Jesus of Love and the love of Jesus, which runs through the idea of the setting of the precondition of the I’s “meeting” with Thou. Humanity yearns for self-illumination and for the discovery of the inner beauty of self-government. St Francis Assisi’s parable of the seeker of God and poor man of a church (the Master of his own kingdom) illustrates this point:

“The Master asked… :

Whence are you come? From God Where did you find God?’ When I forsook all creatures When have you left God? In pure hearts and in sea of good will. The Master asked: What sort of man are you? I am a king. Where is your kingdom? My soul is my kingdom, so I can so rule my senses inwards and outward, that all the desires and powers of my soul are in subjection, and this kingdom is greater than a kingdom on earth. What has brought you to this perfection? My silence, my high thoughts, and my union with God. For I could rest in anything less than God. Now I have found and in God have eternal rest and peace.” (Underhill, pp 209-210)

In Buddhism, the Self acknowledges the Thou-ness of his/her existence through meditation and the following of the noble path in order for one to attain Nibbana. The I-it world can only reach salvation and prepare the meeting of the Thou through the Noble Eight-fold Path that leads to the cessation of suffering (Radhakrishnan & Moore, 1967) which among them call upon Man to:

“know suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path that leads to the cessation of suffering; … to renounce the world and to do no hurt or harm; … to abstain from lies and slander, from reviling, and from tattle; … to abstain from taking life, from stealing, and from lechery; … (p 277)”

It is when these are taken to be a part of one’s commitment to self-purification that the I-it world may be elevated to a higher level of consciousness. In the Hindu cultural philosophy, the I-Thou meeting can be preconditioned by Man’s submission to the Law of Manu, a code of conduct written as metrical sutras of dealing with the religious, legal, customary, and political aspects of the Hindu philosophy .

The purpose of life as conceived by the Hindus is to arrive at the fullest realisation of his/her existence through dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth), kama (enjoyment) and moksha (spiritual freedom) (Radhakrishnan & Moore, p 172)

Man is to live anthromophically with Nature in a world wherein beings and non-beings have their significant in the cosmic and metaphysical order of creation. It is when the world is looked upon as an “It” – to be dominated – and peoples to be utilised that this order is violated and Mother Earth is raped and the cycle of destruction begins. In the Taoist tradition, the character of Lao Tze, controversial to many a Confucionist of his philosophy of Nature, is an epitome of the “Thou-ness” in thought.

In Lao Tze, Nature is not to be tampered with at all, illustrative in his symbolic metaphor of the uncarved stone of which creativity of Man would carve into representations. If there should be a great grandfather of ecophilosophy, Lao Tze would be one. In one of the most foundational dialogues in the Taoist philosophical thoughts, in which Kung Fu Tze (Confucius) is said to visit Lao Tze to consult him in matters of propriety: Lao Tzu said:

“Those of whom you talked about are dead and their bones are decayed. Only their words have remained. When the time is proper, the superior man rides in a carriage, but when it is not, he covers himself up and staggers away. I have heard that a good merchant stores away his treasures as if his store were empty and that a superior man with eminent virtues appear as if he were stupid. Get rid of your air of pride and many desires, your insinuating manners and lustful wishes. None of these is good for you. That is all I have to tell you. (translation, Chan, 196, p 36)


Anwar's PC

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has hit back at Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for “manipulating” a comment made to Chinese daily Southern Weekly.

At a Finance Ministry meeting yesterday, Najib had attacked Anwar for reportedly saying that he could have solved the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 mystery “in one second if he was prime minister”.

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim reiterated that his fight to win the presidency is not with his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, but with the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

Pakatan Rakyat has been told to be “mindful” that Umno will use PAS’ proposal to implement hudud in Kelantan, in order to get political mileage.

In issuing the reminder, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim pointed to Umno’s inconsistency on the matter.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has criticised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for remaining silent on the MH370 crisis and refusing to take questions from the media.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has criticised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for remaining silent on the MH370 crisis and refusing to take questions from the media.

Anwar also questioned the government’s refusal to release the cargo manifest from MH370.

Child conversion ban even without Cabinet decision, says Bar chief

Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — A 2009 Cabinet “ruling” prohibiting unilateral child conversions has no authority of its own but the decision was valid as the same safeguard exists in the Federal Constitution, Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong said yesterday.

Leong explained that while such government directives could be ignored, the Cabinet prohibition against one parent converting his offspring to another religion on his own was consistent with the Federal Constitution, meaning the ban was essentially in effect already.

Questions recently arose on the outcome of the 2009 decision, after another interfaith custody battle revealed that the Muslim convert father unilaterally changed the religion of his two children to Islam in 2013 — near four years after the supposed ban.

“There is strictly no need for any other laws as the Federal Constitution is clear,” Leong told The Malay Mail Online yesterday.

“If you read the constitution properly, you don't need any other law. But the problem is, people seem to be confused, so the government thought they'd come up with an amendment to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.

However, these proposed amendments were deferred by the government for further consultation, and then apparently quietly forgotten, Leong said.

“We urge the government to renew its initiative to introduce these amendments,” he added.

Leong stressed that Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution — which states that the religion of a person under 18 years of age shall be decided by “his parent or guardian” — referred to both genders and both parents.

“Article 160, read with the Eleventh Schedule (of the Federal Constitution), governs the interpretation of the Federal Constitution and states that ‘words importing the masculine gender include females’; and ‘words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular’.

This rendered unilateral religious conversions of any minor children in breach of this law unconstitutional, the lawyer said.

Former de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said today that the Cabinet’s 2009 decision on child conversions was consistent with the country’s supreme law.

“The problem is people don't want to follow it. People decide which law they want to follow and the government is weak,” Zaid told The Malay Mail Online.

He said that back in 2009, Putrajaya had proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act and the Islamic Family Law to ensure that issues like child support and custody would be determined by the court in which the marriage had been registered in, regardless if one spouse embraces another religion later on.

This worked for all religions, Zaid explained, and not just in cases of unilateral conversions to Islam.

“So theoretically, if one of the Muslim couple became a Hindu, you still have to go back to Shariah law,” said Zaid, who has served as de facto law minister in the Abdullah administration.

He added that another proposed amendment was to ensure that minors cannot be converted into another faith without the permission of both parents.

Last week, Hindu woman S. Deepa won full custody of her two children ― a nine-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son — at the Seremban High Court.

The estranged husband, a Muslim convert born N. Viran who now goes by Izwan Abdullah, had snatched the boy from the mother two days later, insisting he too had full custody as awarded by the Shariah Court, after he converted their children to Islam last year without his wife’s consent or knowledge.

In its April 7 ruling, the Seremban High Court said Deepa and Viran had married in a civil union, which put the dissolution of their marriage outside the jurisdiction of the Shariah courts.

The police have refused to act on Deepa’s abduction complaint against the child’s father, with Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar citing the two conflicting court orders as the reason.

The case was another in a series of inter-religious tussles that have arisen from the blurred lines between the civil and Shariah court's jurisdictions that exists in the Malaysian legal system.

Najib's Visit To Turkey Will Further Enhance Bilateral Ties - Malaysia's Ambassador To Turkey

Amran Mohamed Zin.From Mohd Shukri Bin Ishak

ANKARA, April 16 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's three-day official visit to Turkey beginning Wednesday will further bilateral relations between Malaysia and Turkey, said Malaysia's Ambassador to Turkey, Amran Mohamed Zin.

He said the mission was aimed at boosting trade and investment between Malaysia and Turkey and strengthen business networking between the private sectors of both countries.

"The visit will seek to broaden and deepen the existing cooperation between Malaysia and Turkey as well as to provide an excellent opportunity for the leaders of both countries to exchange views and achieve closer understanding on issues of mutual interest," he told reporters here today.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by his wife Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and senior government officers.

"The visit will further enhance the close bilateral ties between both countries particularly with the signing of the Malaysia-Turkey Free Trade Agreement," said Amran.

The signing will be witnessed by Najib and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had extended the invitation for the Malaysian leader to visit Turkey.

"Both Prime Ministers will also witness the signing of several other Memoranda of Understanding between institutions of higher learning and private sectors of the two countries.

"Total trade between Malaysia and Turkey last year stood at US$1.1 billion. Malaysia and Turkey are targeted to increase trade volume to US$5 billion in five years time," he said.

Amran said the FTA will not only benefit local companies in both countries but also attract investors to locate their operations here in order to reap the FTA benefits.

Amran said the prime minister was scheduled to arrive at the Esenboga International Airport here at 11pm Wednesday (Malaysian time 4am April 17), from Kuala Lumpur.

Tomorrow (Thursday), Najib is scheduled to call on Turkish President Abdullah GUlan and meet Erdogan for a restricted meeting, followed by a delegation meeting, here.

Najib is also scheduled to deliver a lecture titled 'Malaysia-Turkey Strategic Partnership in a Globalising Asia' at an event organised by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research and International Strategic Research Organisation of Turkey, in collaboration with the Foundation of Research on Transformation of Malaysia.

He is also scheduled to deliver a keynote address at a business roundtable luncheon organised by the Union Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey and the Foreign Economic Relations Board, in collaboration with the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

IGP: No kidnapping occurred, but we'll probe assault

Taliban leaders who had threatened to cut voters fingers killed in Kunduz

Taliban guerrilla fighters hold their weapons at a secret base in eastern Afghanistan February 3, 2007. The Taliban promised a spring offensive of thousands of suicide bombers as the United States, doubling its combat troops in Afghanistan, took over command of the 33,000- strong  NATO force in the country on Sunday. Picture taken February 3, 2007.  REUTERS/Saeed Ali Achakzai   (PAKISTAN)At least six Taliban militants including their commanders were killed during clashes with the Afghan police forces in northern Kunduz province.

Local officials in Kunduz said the Taliban commanders who were killed during clashes, had earlier threatened Kunduz residents to cut their fingers if they participated in the elections.

Provincial police chief, Gen. Ghulam Mustafa Mohsini said the two Taliban commanders – Mullah Islamuddin and Mullah Khedir were killed along with their fighters after they attacked a police check post on Monday morning.

Gen. Mohsini further added that four militants were also killed and two others were injured during the clashes which lasted almost three hours.

He said the weapons and ammunition of the militants were also confiscated by police forces.

According to Gen. Mohsini, the two Taliban leaders had earlier warned Kunduz residents not to participate in elections and threatened to cut their fingers if they did so.

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Allah's wrath killed Rajiv, Sanjay Gandhi: SP's Azam Khan

Bijnor (Uttar Pradesh): Uttar Pradesh's Minority Affairs Minister Mohd Azam Khan seems uncontrollable. He told a stunned gathering at Bijnor town that the untimely deaths of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and his brother Sanjay Gandhi were "acts of Allah".

The Election Commission banned all public meetings, speeches and campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls hours after the comment.

The senior minister in the Samajwadi Party government of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said both Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi had committed "serious crimes" and were "punished by Allah" and which is why they met brutal deaths.

Addressing an election rally in Bijnor Friday evening, Khan said while Sanjay Gandhi was responsible for mass and forcible sterlization during the emergency rule of his mother, former prime minister Indira Gandhi, he accused former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi of incurring the "wrath of gods" as he had presided over the opening of the Babri mosque to Hindus for prayers.

He also said Allah will never spare people who conduct themselves against humanity.

Sanjay Gandhi, youngest son of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, was killed in a plane crash in June 1980, while Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a human bomb during an election rally in Tamil Nadu in May 1991.

Khan also took a dig at BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and said that a man who is not loyal to his wife will betray the nation.

"Jo apni biwi ka nahin ho saka, wo desh ka kya hoga (Someone who could not be loyal to his wife, how can he be loyal to the nation)," he added.

State authorities Saturday, however, said poll panel's restrain order on the minister would be complied with. The Election Commission has also put restrictions on the campaigning of BJP general secretary and close Modi aide Amit Shah for his "hate speeches".


Resolve Deepa's woes, Gerakan Youth tells cabinet

The cabinet must step in and resolve the custody battle between S Deepa and her former husband, Muslim convert Izwan Abdullah, since the police and Home Ministry do not want to, Gerakan Youth said today.

If the police and Home Ministry cannot act because of their claim of “conflicting jurisdictions”, then the very least they can do is investigate the case and refer the matter to the attorney-general (AG), Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang said.

“In the current case, there's a High Court order granting the mother custodial right over the children. Whether the earlier syariah court order granting custodial right of the children to the father still stands should have been referred to the AG.

“Currently, there seems to be overlapping jurisdiction between the civil and syariah courts on matters involving the religious conversion of a spouse when the other spouse refuses to convert and does not consent to the conversion of their children,” Tan (left) said.

He said the cabinet had, in 2009, decided that both parents must agree before the conversion of minors to another religion.

However, Tan added, this cabinet decision was not made into law.

“The law must be clear to ensure the syariah court cannot have jurisdiction to convert minors without the consent of both parents. The syariah court should also not have jurisdiction to grant custodial rights over minors who were not converted with the consent of both parents.”

Therefore, Tan said, he hopes the cabinet will intervene, and take the lead to resolve the matter as the government's official stand at present not to take action is seen as superseding its 2009 decision, unless the cabinet announces otherwise.

'Remove overlapping jurisdiction'

“Gerakan Youth hopes the cabinet will take lead in Parliament by enacting laws to remove overlapping jurisdiction on this matter,” said Tan, adding that he hoped BN and Pakatan Rakyat would work together to resolve this long standing issue as it is above politics.

The High Court in Seremban last Monday granted Deepa her divorce from her former husband Izwan and granted her custody over her two children, a son aged six and a daughter aged nine.

However, Deepa will have to file a separate application to overturn the conversion of her children to Islam, which was done without her knowledge.

Two days after the High Court order, Izwan went to Deepa's house in Jelubu and forcefully took away their son.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, who was asked what the police would do about the kidnapping report by Deepa, said the police cannot act against Izwan as there are two court orders. Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has also come out in support of Khalid's position.

'Najib must state his stand'

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, DAP's Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak should state his stand on the matter.

This follows contradicting statements by Ahmad Zahid and fellow cabinet minister, Tourism Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz (left), who said that Izwan's action was kidnapping and that police should act.

"The prime minister must not remain silent and must immediately declare the government’s stand on the abduction issue," she said.

She asked if the government still holds on to the 2009 cabinet decision that children will raised under the "common religion at the time of marriage" should a parent convert after marriage.

"Najib should let Malaysians know if he is still committed to this decision, and if so, when will his government make the necessary law changes to bring about a permanent solution to the issue of unilateral conversions," she added.

Zaid: Form new coalition to defend secular Malaysia

MCA, DAP, MIC and East Malaysian parties must form a new coalition with Malays who want democracy and rule of law, says former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim's Facebook page.

"About time Malaysians say enough is enough. Our country is secular and that's how it must continue to be. Worth fighting for," states another one of his posts.

In his blog, Zaid launched a scathing attack on Muslim leaders in Peninsular Malaysia, saying that what has gone wrong with the country must be attributed to their failures.

Their counterparts in Sabah and Sarawak, he noted, were not fixated on "Islamising" the country.

According to Zaid (right), Muslim leaders in the peninsula suffer from what behavioural psychologists call "the inadequacy syndrome".

"This is manifested by these leaders' constant need to enhance their own self-esteem, even though they end up creating bigger problems as a result.

"They feel unappreciated and therefore need to posture more in the extreme to gain the desired recognition. They can only be sedated by giving them the rope to hang DAP, suspend Malaysiakini and bring about Islamic criminal laws to replace the Penal Code," he added.

Zaid said that Muslim leaders in Umno and PAS were weak and unwilling to admit that this country was founded on the principles of a secular democracy.

"Yet they are also afraid to embrace the Islamic theocracy that’s demanded by Islamists for fear of losing their comfortable lifestyle and privileges. This hypocritical uncertainty is causing all sorts of problems to the system of governance.

"If we are a democracy then we must protect basic human rights. Our civil court system must be the superior one when it comes to determining the application and constitutionality of all laws in the country.

"If, on the other hand, we are an Islamic state first, then human rights are subject to the overriding power of Muslim laws and tenets. The Syariah courts must then determine and establish first legal principles," he added.

'We cannot live in this charade forever'

These fundamental issues, Zaid stressed, must be decided once and for all.

"It's not enough for the BN to let MCA do the talking for them, ostensibly defending a secular government while Umno continue their double act of being pro-Islam. Similarly, DAP leaders defend secular principles on behalf of Pakatan Rakyat while Anwar Ibrahim and PAS stick to the Islamist agenda.

"These Muslim leaders are a weak bunch, fearful of being honest with the people because what's paramount for them is holding the seat of power. The people should realise that they have been fooled for a long time, and must now collectively stand up and be counted. We cannot live with this charade forever," he added.

Zaid also took Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar (right) to task for his statement on the custody dispute between a non-Muslim woman and her convert ex-husband.

"The police admitted openly that they are not able or willing to act against anyone who disobeys a court order, apparently because they were told that there are two conflicting orders on the same subject matter – one from the Syariah courts and the other from the civil courts.

"A senior police official declared that a father could not possibly abduct his own son, regardless of what the court says. This same policeman will one day say that a husband could not possibly rape his wife, or that any sexual crime requires four witnesses, regardless of what the law says," he said.

"Now the police have become the ultimate interpreters of the laws of the land. No one dares to correct them or to interpret for them. They have become what they are because our politicians are always afraid to stand up for the right thing.

"These Muslims leaders don't dare table the necessary changes to the laws on civil marriage or to Muslims family laws in Parliament (which were amended years ago and are still waiting for Parliament to pass them)," he added.

There is only one legal system

Zaid pointed out that the strange perception that Malaysia has a dual legal system is false.

Personal laws for Muslims, explained the lawyer turned politician, are part of the main system and not meant to override the main body of laws in the country.

"Yet no one is prepared to publicly declare that the civil High Court is the superior court under the constitution. The Syariah courts are limited in terms of its jurisdiction and applicability. It is only for Muslims in selected matters.

"It's illogical to say we have two systems coexisting in parity when they are totally different in scope and power. Our civil courts must be able to make a ruling to determine if the Syariah Court has applied the law correctly; otherwise, what we get is the chaos we are seeing today," he added.

Zaid said if these "weak Muslim leaders in the peninsula" want to put syariah above all else, the leaders in Sabah and Sarawak need to take a stand.

"The right thing to do is amend the federal constitution and declare that Islamic laws are the foundation of all laws. Then the Syariah Court will be superior to the High Court. We might not even need the High Court by then.

"It would then also be opportune to declare that the Quran is the highest law of the land and that the federal constitution is subject to it. At least then we would know where we stand. These leaders must not be allowed to continue confusing everybody, including our policemen," he added.

Go all the way on hudud

As for hudud, Zaid said the issue has resurfaced with Muslim groups and politicians in the peninsula wanting hudud to be implemented but no such call has been made in either Sabah or Sarawak.

"Not one leader in Umno or PAS has so far dared to oppose this motion. All right, let's do it for the entire country then, and for all Malaysians to feel the full effects of Islamic criminal law. I am okay with this as long as it applies to everyone.

"What I find objectionable is the attitude of these weak leaders. Why the ridiculous suggestion to move a Private Members Bill to achieve this objective? Why is the law being made applicable only in Kelantan? Why exclude non-Muslims from the application of hudud? If you are genuinely fighting for Islam, go all the way," he said.

"Let the PM/DPM move the Bill and let Anwar support it. Let's go full steam ahead and ensure all Malaysians are subject to the same laws and punishments. Stop pussyfooting around the issue. Why should non-Muslims be excluded?

"It's this exclusion that has made non-Malays, particularly DAP, gung ho and comfortable with PAS. DAP wants PAS to get to power because that will help them gain power as well, and they are comforted by the promise that hudud will not be applicable to them.

"They are no different from the MCA leaders in the BN, whose job is to make sure the laws are not applicable to the Chinese. Who cares about the Malays and the Muslims who do not want hudud?" he added.

MIC Youth flays 'irresponsible' Zahid

 MIC Youth chief C Sivaraajh has criticised Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's statement that the police will not take any action against a Muslim convert father who snatched his six-year-old son from his Hindu ex-wife in Negri Sembilan last week.

He was "taken aback by the home minister's irresponsible statement" in relation to S Deepa's case, Sivaraajh said in a statement today.

"A minister who is guarding home affairs should not be issuing such a lame statement and wash his hands off the matter," he said.

Sivaraajh was referring to Zahid's brief statement that he agreed with the position of the police not to take action against convert Izwan Abdullah, who snatched away his son from his ex-wife Deepa last Wednesday.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar said Izwan and Deepa (right in photo) should settle the matter among themselves, referring to the syariah court's order granting custody of the couple’s two children to Izwan, and the civil court’s decision last week to grant custody to Deepa.

"If both individuals, the home minister and the IGP, fail to respond on this matter, we sincerely urge attorney-general (AG) Gani Patail to put his hand to resolving the matter," Sivaraajh (right) said.

"The AG should come up with a complete set of legislation that will once and for all settle issues triggered when one spouse embraces another religion," he said.

He said the police and the Home Ministry should adhere to the ruling made by the High Court in Seremban last Monday.

"In upholding the federal constitution, the police should exercise their duty towards the public, hence it should take a stronger role in getting back Deepa's son from her former husband.

"The police and Home Ministry must abide by the verdict delivered by the High Court and help Deepa to get back her son," Sivaraajh added.

Police detainee dies with severe bruises

Penang police are under scrutiny again after yet another custodial death. In the latest incident, 37-year-old labourer Murugan Muniandy died at the Seberang Jaya Hospital, from severe sepsis secondary to pneumonia two days ago.

The father of three, who lives with his mother in Teluk Indah, Prai, was arrested for suspected drug possession at his house at 1.30pm on March 31.

The next day, he was sent to the Bukit Mertajam Hospital and was warded for five days before being sent to the Seberang Jaya Hospital.

Photos taken of him by a family friend after 10 days allegedly showed that he had visible bruises on his chest, right arm, shoulder, thigh and ribs.

However, his body was cremated on Sunday, as the family feared police may come for other family members.

His mother, Ramyee Perumal, 56, said she had no proper access to her son when she visited him at the hospitals as he was always guarded by policemen.

"He was unconscious but there were times when he was conscious and called me. He is my only son," she said, unable to hold back her tears at a press conference together with Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy  at his Prai service centre in Chai Leng Park.

"Whenever I visited my son, the policemen on duty would later ask what we talked about. I couldn't say much," she added, saying her son had bandages on his body.

Ramasamy (right) said that one of the doctors in the hospital said Murugan died due to severe beatings.

He demanded a thorough probe into the death and wants state police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi to answer the issue.

"This is terrible. Murugan may be an alcoholic, but he does not deserve this. What is his crime? Police need to probe and charge him properly.

"I don't expect the police to probe themselves. Are the police prepared to probe, arrest the culprits who caused his death?" Ramasamy asked.

He said there was no guarantee that detainees would come out of the police lock-up alive, adding that this seemed to be the scenario today.

So far this year, Penang has seen four other deaths in police custody  - A Punniyatham, 40, on Feb 10 at the Nibong Tebal police station lock-up, Ramasamy Nagu, 50, on March 1 at the Bayan Baru police station lock-up,  Kamarulnizam Ismail, 39, who died in Taiping Prison on March 8 after being detained at the Bandar Perda police lock-up, and Koay Soon Cguan, 41, who died at the Penang Prison on April 6.

Cops to probe assault, but not custody battle - Malaysiakini

Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar clarified today that his men have acted on all police reports lodged by S Deepa and her ex-husband Izwan Abdullah, but are not able to act on their child custody dispute.
Khalid said police have opened four investigation papers on Deepa's police reports, including her accusation that Izwan had assaulted her and that he had violated an interim protection order.
"The thing that the police will not interfere is the child custody, the rest we will do our job.
"We had even arrested him (Izwan) earlier but released him on bail pending completion of the investigation," Khalid told journalists when met in Kuala Lumpur today.

Khalid said Izwan's past arrest was also related to the many police reports lodged by Deepa but did not specify which case.
Deepa, a Hindu, had on April 7 won custody of her six-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter from the Seremban High Court.
Two days later, she accused Izwan of assaulting her and kidnapping their son from her house.
Izwan, whose original name is N Viran, had converted to Islam together with the children without Deepa's knowledge and obtained custody of the kids from the Syariah Court last August.
Following the incident, Khalid had said police will not interfere in the matter due to the conflicting orders by the civil and syariah court.
The remarks had earned him brickbats including from Tourism Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz who said police refused to act in a "clear-cut kidnapping".
'No kidnapping'
Khalid today refused to respond to Nazri, saying that he did not want to contradict the minister and stressed the police did not want to be caught in a tussle between two legal systems.
"There is no offence there, that (incident) is not a kidnapping case, it is not an abduction either," he said.
As for the other matters, Khalid said Deepa had lodged more than 20 police reports while Izwan had lodged more than 10 police reports since 2007.
"They were about quarrels both of them had. So you know, quarrels, we refer those cases to the magistrate. There was also one report of abuse (made) by the male (Izwan), so we open up an investigation (for that).
"One more was a 324 investigation (based on Deepa's police report), but after some time she withdrew it - I think it was one or two years ago," said Khalid.
Khalid was referring to Section 324 of the Penal Code which concerns causing hurt to a person.
"Then there was one report in the IPO (interim protection order) police report that we are investigating still and the recent report (of the assault incident) we are still investigating," he said.
Khalid added Deepa can file for contempt of court against her husband for taking away their son and police will see how to enforce it once that comes to past.
"She can file for contempt of court and we will enforce whatever decision later but it must be - we don't want to be caught between these two legal systems - it must be a clear system and we will enforce," he said.

MIC leader predicts party will be deregistered

However the leader says that he made the claims in jest after being asked by several party members via a group text message.

PETALING JAYA: Former MIC Youth deputy chief V Mugilan has predicted that the largest Indian party risks being deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) due to the irregularities claimed in the party polls conducted November last year.

Mugilan, who is also the Selangor MIC Youth chief, also hinted that the party would be rechristened as MIC Baru (New MIC) and would have to call for fresh polls.

When contacted, Pandan MIC division secretary S Baskaran said that Mugilan had made the statement via a text message in WhatsApp messenger group, known as ‘Arasiyal’ (Politics).

Baskaran said that he was the administrator of the chat group, adding the messaging forum was created to help top party leaders to share information with one another.

“The WhatsApp group was created specially for MIC top leaders where party president G Palanivel and his deputy Dr S Subramaniam are also members in the group,” he said.

On Mugilan’s prediction, Baskaran said that on April 8, during conversation about the party, a party member had asked a question which read, “Heard there will be a re-election in MIC, how true is it? Anyone can confirm?

To this Mugilan replied, “ Yes, re-election and deregister the party.”

Baskaran said that Mugilan also sent another message to answer another question where the latter claimed that MIC would be renamed as MIC Baru, like what happened to Umno back in 1988 when it was deregistered.

“I really have no idea whether Mugilan was serious in his text messages. Even if he was serious, both Palanivel and Subramaniam should be aware of it,” he said.

While several party leaders had been murmuring about the possibility of the party facing severe ROS actions over the alleged irregularities in the party polls, this is the first time a leader of the party had openly mentioned it.

Meanwhile Mugilan said that the text messages were sent in jest and said the party would not hold a re-election, as per the decision of the party leaders.

“I urge those defeated in the polls to work harder so they will have better of chance of winning in the next party election,” he told FMT when contacted.

The party election, held in Malacca on Nov 30, 2013, was said to be marred with various irregularities, including vote manipulation.

Mugilan himself lost in the race for the MIC Youth chief post, defeated with slim majority of 44 votes against C Sivaraajh.

Several MIC leaders have taken up the matter to the ROS but the party’s central working committee had dismissed the allegation and insisted there will be no re-election.

Deepa’s stepdad: Islamic centre lacks wisdom

Mohd Sofi also criticises the IGP as an irresponsible person for refusing to act against Izwan's abduction of his son.

JELEBU: S Deepa’s sorrows would have been averted if Pusat Dakwah Islamiah Negeri Sembilan had exercised wisdom in accepting the conversion of her children, said her stepfather Mohd Sofi Abdullah.

He expressed the opinion today in an interview with FMT following the abduction of Deepa’s six-year-old son by her former husband, Izwan Viran Abdullah.

“Even though it was the Syariah Court that gave custody of the children to Izwan, the mess was started by the Pusat Dakwah, which converted them without getting Deepa’s consent,” he said.

The abducted boy has a nine-year-old sister who was also converted at the Islamic outreach centre.

Sofi said the centre had been “totally unfair” to Deepa. Sofi, a Malay-Muslim, is married to Deepa’s mother who has converted to Islam from Hinduism.

“The officer who converted the children should have consulted Deepa, my wife or myself before making his decision,” he added.

Last week, Deepa, who is a Hindu, won her divorce from Izwan through a decision by the Seremban High Court, which also granted her custody of the children. It also allowed weekly visits for Izwan.

Izwan subsequently abducted his son and reportedly assaulted Deepa in the process.

Despite a public uproar, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar said there would be no police action over the abduction, citing the Syariah Court’s decision last year to give Izwan custody of the children.

Sofi said the outreach centre and the Syariah Court should have checked on Izwan’s character and financial status before allowing the children’s conversion and favouring him with the custody decision.

“I believe the Syariah Court gave custody of the children to Izwan on the basis that a Muslim child must be raised by a Muslim parent. But did the court check whether he had criminal records?”

He said Deepa had lodged about 20 police reports against Izwan for domestic violence.

Last August, the Seremban magistrate’s court granted Deepa an Interim Protection Order (IPO) against Izwan.

“But without due consideration, the Syariah Court awarded custody to him,” Sofi said. “You tell me, is he fit to look after the children?”

He said police could take action against Izwan for violating the IPO, which prohibits him from being near Deepa’s home.

He criticised the IGP as an “irresponsible man”.

“He just wants to to shirk his responsibility,” he said.

‘You can’t phone from the air’

A retired Air Force officer says it is not possible because telco antennas are directed toward the ground.

KUALA LUMPUR: A retired Air Force officer today expressed doubt that anyone on Flight MH370 made a mid-flight telephone call with a mobile phone, as recent news reports have suggested.

Captain Abdul Rahmat Omar told FMT it would be improbable for telecommunication towers to receive cellular signals from a plane because their antennas were directed toward the ground.

“Basically, you can’t make a call from a plane,” he said. “A plane moves fast and the reception is unstable. Furthermore, our telco antennas don’t point skyward. They face the ground.”

He was commenting on a New Straits Times report over the weekend quoting unnamed sources as saying that co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid made a desperate call from his mobile phone when the Malaysia Airlines craft was close to Penang after veering from its KLIA-Beijing route on March 8.

The daily said the plane was then low enough for the nearest telecommunication tower to pick up his phone’s signal before it ended abruptly.

However, Abdul Rahmat suggested that Fariq might have switched on his mobile phone and the signal was picked up by the nearest tower but went off due to the speed of the flight.

“Maybe the co-pilot had his mobile phone turned on and the signal was traced by the telco tower just for a few seconds,” he said.

“But you can’t make a phone call because the reception is not stable. The plane is too fast for the phone to connect with a signal.”

CNN, quoting a US official, has also reported today that Fariq’s phone made contact with a telecommunication tower in Penang.

However, it said there was no evidence to show that Fariq had actually tried to make a call.

It quoted the unnamed official as saying the tower detected the first officer’s phone searching for service roughly 30 minutes after authorities believe the plane made a sharp turn westward.

Mobile signal, not call

A former commercial pilot meanwhile told FMT it was possible that the tower in Penang picked up a telephone signal from the plane.

“In my opinion, there is a chance that it can happen,” he said. “Maybe the telco tower did capture the signal for a few seconds, but I am not saying that the co-pilot managed to call out.”

He said that in the 1990s anyone on a flight was able to make a phone call using the old 010 mobile channel, which has now been discontinued.

“I am not very familiar with the new telco system because nowadays you have 3G, 4G and many others,” he said.

“In those days, you could make a call on air if you were using the 010 channel, but I’m not talking about the new 010 channel.”

MH370 disappeared from civilian radar while flying over the South China Sea. It is believed to have made a sudden turn and was spotted on military radar on the western side of Peninsular Malaysia heading for the Andaman Sea.

Searchers are still looking for the plane in the southern part of the Indian Ocean.

The meltdown of Malaysian institutions

There was a time Malaysia's civil service was the envy of many, playing an important role in the country's rapid industrialisation. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, April 15, 2014. (TMI) – There was a time when Malaysia was known for its institutions – a civil service that facilitated rapid development from an agrarian economy to an industrialised one, a judiciary that was held in high esteem of the Commonwealth, and a military that defeated a communist insurgency.

Today, more than 50 years as a nation spanning from Perlis to Sabah, we see ineptitude and incompetency, a complete meltdown of Malaysian institutions.

The Attorney-General now farms out cases to an Umno lawyer; the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) leads an organisation which does not act when a High Court rules; the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) suffers a credibility deficit; and the air force has not covered itself with any glory.
So who do Malaysians turn to in time of need?

Not any of the above, it appears. Sad but true.

The saga of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared with 239 people on board on March 8, has confirmed what Malaysians have suspected for a long time. That there is not much meritocracy and thinking going on in the civil service.

The authorities, from the minister downwards, have yet to explain what happened in the crucial hours after MH370 was found missing. A CNN and BBC television report yesterday showed Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein avoiding the question.

Can the civil aviation sector trust the DCA to do the right thing immediately after a flight vanishes from the radar screens? Why wasn’t the air force told that a jet was missing? Why wasn’t plane maker Boeing told immediately? Why didn’t the air traffic control respond to their Vietnamese counterparts when told that there was no contact with the Boeing 777-200ER that was on its way to Beijing?

Why the silence?

The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) also has to explain how it defends the country's airspace throughout the day. Yes, we have brave men and women in uniform keeping watch but a mysterious blip on the radar moving east to west was left unmolested.

Not even hailed by radio, let alone scrambling jets to check on the blip. Or even to ask the DCA and air traffic control if they were also seeing the blip.

Does the RMAF have fighter jets on standby? How many can fly these days apart from those used for parades, air shows and F1 races?

The IGP has decided to play marriage counsellor to a divorced couple rather than enforce the law after the ex-husband forcibly took away his son from the ex-wife's legal custody.

Does the IGP or anyone else in the police force know the law and the offence that was committed, or do they assume there is a conflict in the civil and Shariah law that they cannot take any action?

Can anyone cite religion and get away with a crime? How can people trust the police to enforce the law passed by lawmakers elected by the people?

Where is the Attorney-General in all of this? Is it more important for him to go to London to figure out who will have custody of the MH370 black box, once found, rather than stay back in the country and decide on whether to prosecute or take action against a man for abducting his child from his ex-wife's legal custody?

Or just outsource some jobs to an Umno lawyer - from defending the Registrar of Societies (RoS) in a judicial review brought by the DAP to prosecuting opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his sodomy appeal.

Is the Attorney-General's decision to outsource some work a tacit confirmation and acknowledgment that there is no talent left in the A-G Chambers to do the work?

And is there any talent also left in the civil service, police force and military?

Malaysia's civil service was the envy of many – from working on poverty eradication and affirmative action policies to industrialisation and a respected judiciary and prosecution.

They did more with fewer resources and lesser people then. But they had quality talent back then.

These days, Malaysia just has bad jokes passing off as the civil service, police force, military and the public prosecutor. This is the meltdown of institutions that had shaped the country from its formative years to the Asian tiger that it once was.

It might take a generation to possibly set things right with these institutions.

Or is that just a hope that is fading as fast as the chance of hearing another ping in the southern Indian Ocean? – April 15, 2014.

Obama Visit to Malaysia Set for April 27

US President must walk a delicate line in a country facing increasing international criticism

US President Barack Obama is expected to visit Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia this month as part of his push to increase US diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. But despite the relative size and strategic importance of the other countries, it is his April 27 trip to Malaysia that arguably gives the president his biggest problems.

Given the events of the past few months, Obama will visit a country that has earned some of the worst press in Asia, not only for its fumbling response to the loss of its jetliner, MH370, with 239 people aboard, but to revelations of growing racial and religious intolerance, blatant attempts to silence the opposition through spurious legal action and bizarre charges by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s own newspaper that the Central Intelligence Agency kidnapped the plane to foment trouble with China, 152 of whose citizens were aboard the missing craft. The same newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, also repeated as a real possibility speculation by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that the CIA brought down the World Trade Towers in 2001as a plot to blame Muslims for the destruction.

In recent weeks, an appeals court has reversed a lower court decision against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, declaring him guilty of what were clearly trumped up charges of sodomy. The decision, apparently rushed forward, was designed to deny Anwar an almost certain win in a Kuala Lumpur suburban by-election that would have paved his way to becoming chief minister of the country’s most populous and prosperous state and would have given him a potent rhetorical platform to challenge the government. In an equally dubious decision, Karpal Singh, chairman of the Democratic Party, the biggest in the troika of opposition parties, was declared guilty of sedition for saying a decision by the Sultan of Perak could be questioned in court.

The international press that showed up in Kuala Lumpur after the disappearance of the airliner began asking questions that exposed an authoritarian regime unaccustomed to facing independent scrutiny – questions that a kept mainstream media, all of which are owned by the political parties in power, have ignored for decades. While a vibrant opposition press exists on the Internet, the government simply ignores it or tries to neutralize its reports. Those questions include crony capitalism, gerrymandering and political repression. CNN, the major US and British newspaper s and other media assailed the government as authoritarian, corrupt and befuddled.

The feeling in Washington, however, is that the cost of cancellation to the strategic relationship between the two countries would be too high. Obama reportedly is being urged to visit a Christian church while in the country to show US commitment to human and religious rights. Advocates say the President should make at least some gesture of recognition of the fact that a 50.87 percent majority of Malaysians voted against the ruling coalition in 2013 general elections at 47.38 percent but still hold only 89 of the 222 seats in parliament because of gerrymandering. It’s unsure if he will do so. There is speculation that he may just opt for a “meet and greet” and get out of town as quickly as possible to avoid international criticism for propping up a regime that is starting to assume Zimbabwean characteristics of repression and kleptocracy.

“I don't have any problem with Obama visiting Malaysia, provided he reaches out to Malaysians on both sides of the aisle and all sectors of society, including the Christian community, whose rights are being trampled on by their government,” said John Malott, a former career foreign service officer who served as ambassador to Malaysia from 1996 to 1998 and who has emerged as the country’s severest western critic. “But this has to be a visit that is based on the reality of what kind of country Malaysia really is today – and not to believe the talking points that Malaysia is still a tolerant multi-racial, multi-religious, harmonious, moderate Islamic nation, an economic success story, and a role model for others. It no longer is.”

Najib visited the White House in 2011 and was given a wholehearted endorsement by the President, who said Najib has “showed great leadership, I think, not only in continuing to show great leadership not only in Malaysia’s economy but on showing leadership on a wide range of multilateral issues.”

The president is said to like Najib personally despite the fact that a wide range of issues have never been cleared up, going back to allegations of Najib’s personal involvement in the US$1 billion purchase of French submarines that according to French prosecutors was said to have netted US$114 million in bribes and kickbacks to the United Malays National Organization. The case is still making its way through French courts.

There is also the matter of the still controversial 2006 murder by two of Najib’s bodyguards of Mongolian translator and party girl Altantuya Shaariibuu, who according to a now-dead private detective had been Najib’s girlfriend before she was said to have been passed on to his best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, a key figure in the purchase of the submarines. The bodyguards were acquitted on appeal despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt, raising questions about Malaysia’s legal system as well.

There have been some rude shocks. Six months ago, in the run-up to his previous failed visit to the region, the US president hailed Malaysia as an “an example of a dynamic economy" and praised its multi-ethnic, moderate Muslim-dominated society only to see just three days later a court decision ordering Christians not to use the word “Allah” when referring to God, making it the only Islamic country in the world to do so.

After that, the government ordered the confiscation of Malay-language Bibles containing the word – but only in Peninsular Malaysia. Christians using Malay-language Bibles in East Malaysia were allowed to keep them. That is because most of the Christians are tribes indigenous to Borneo that are aligned with the ruling party. In Peninsular Malaysia, they form the bulk of the opposition.

“So the issue is -- how can you talk about establishing a ‘strategic partnership’ with such a government?” Malott asked. “Maybe that is what will have to be downplayed or even canned for this visit. To me, the idea of a declaring a strategic partnership with a government whose faults have now been revealed to the world, day after day, seems politically unwise.”

Malott also questioned what strategic benefits the US can obtain from Malaysia.

“What strategic value does Malaysia have that it warrants America to hold its nose and ignore the trampling of democracy and political freedom, not to mention the corruption and cronyism that hurt American business interests there?” he asked. “And with Mahathir, the great anti-American, increasingly calling the political shots and Najib's popularity the lowest of any Prime Minister in polling history, will a ‘strategic partnership’ with the US survive Najib's departure?”

Mini-sub to dive again after aborting first MH370 search


Perth (Australia) (AFP) – A mini-sub hunting missing Flight MH370 was set to sweep the Indian Ocean seabed again Tuesday after cutting short its first mission, as Malaysia vowed to reveal any ‘black box’ data found.

The unmanned submarine equipped with sonar gear was deployed Monday night from the Australian ship Ocean Shield, which has spearheaded the hunt for the Boeing 777 that vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

But the dive by the Bluefin-21 detected nothing of interest before it automatically aborted the mission after breaching its maximum operating depth, the US Navy said in a statement.

The Australian agency coordinating the search said the Bluefin-21 “exceeded its operating depth limit of 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) and its built-in safety feature returned it to the surface”.

The unmanned Autonomous Underwater Vehicle was undamaged and set for a second sonar sweep during the day, weather permitting, officials said.

US Navy Captain Mark Matthews said the vehicle had exceeded programmed operational limits and automatically resurfaced.

“In this case the vehicle’s programmed to fly 30 metres over the floor of the ocean to get a good mapping of what’s beneath,” he told CNN from Perth.

“It went to 4,500 metres and once it hit that max depth, it said ‘This is deeper than I’m programmed to be’, so it aborted the mission.”

Officials said the crew would now refine the task to cope with the depth encountered.

“To account for inconsistencies with the sea floor, the search profile is being adjusted to extend the sonar search for as long as possible,” the US Navy statement said.

Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre chief Angus Houston announced Monday officials would end three weeks of listening for signals from the plane’s black boxes and launch the submarine operation.

The mini-sub would conduct a sonar survey of the silty ocean floor for 16 hours at a time in hopes of finding some wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines flight which vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The US navy estimated it would take the Bluefin-21 from six weeks to two months to scan the entire search area, which has been deduced using satellite data and the detection of electronic pulses linked to black box recorders which were last heard a week ago.

Houston has described the detections as the best lead in the hunt for the plane, and added Monday that an oil slick had also been sighted in the search area.

It would take several days to test a sample of the oil ashore, but Houston said he did not think it was from one of the many ships involved in the hunt.

The cause of the plane’s disappearance, after being diverted hundreds of miles off course, remains a mystery. No debris has been found despite an enormous search involving ships and planes from several nations.

It is 39 days since the plane vanished, presumably crashing into the southern Indian Ocean, and the batteries powering the black box tracker beacons had a life of only around 30 days.

Ocean Shield detected four signals linked to the black boxes, but the last ping came on Tuesday last week and officials suspect the batteries are now dead.

Houston has stressed the enormous difficulties of working at great depths in such a remote location and cautioned about the difficulties of finding the black boxes.

If they are ever found, Malaysia’s Transport Minister pledged Tuesday to make public any data recovered, as the government battles widespread criticism over the transparency of its investigation.

“It’s about finding the truth. And when we… find out the truth, definitely we have to reveal what’s in the black box,” Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters.

“So there is no question of it not being released.”

The Malaysian government has been tight-lipped about its ongoing investigation into the disappearance of the jet, adding to the anger and frustration of relatives.

It has come under fire for a seemingly chaotic initial response, while the scarcity of official information on MH370 has prompted questions over its transparency.

Hishammuddin said at the weekend that Malaysia’s attorney general had been sent abroad to confer with the International Civil Aviation Organisation and determine which country would have custody of the black box, if it is ever found.

But he shrugged off the importance of the custody issue on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s important who gets custody as far as I’m concerned,” he told reporters.

Malaysian authorities insist they are hiding nothing but need to be cautious on commenting on ongoing investigations.

Hishammuddin also said an “international investigation team” that Malaysia plans to set up to probe MH370′s disappearance would be transparent and operate in accordance with international standards.