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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Penganjur ikrar himpunan #KitaLawan tetap diteruskan

IS Militants Amputate Hands of Six in Mosul

Youths punished for stealing

ERBIL Islamic State (IS) militants in Nineveh Province have punished six youths in Mosul by amputating their hands.

Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official from Mosul, Saed Mamuzini, told BasNews that IS insurgents have increased the frequency and severity of punishments in the area.

He revealed that on Monday, jihadists arrested six youths in the Babil Top quarter of Mosul, convicted them of stealing and amputated their hands.

The news comes after IS kidnapped 26 female college students in the Askari quarter of Tikrit, who were forced into temporary marriages with militants.

IS militants have also executed five teenage boys in Sinjar, accusing them of deserting the fight against the Peshmerga.

Mokhzani resigns from SapuraKencana

SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd's vice-chairman Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir has resigned, citing personal reasons. – YouTube pic, March 4, 2015.SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd's vice chairman Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir has resigned, Malaysia's largest oil and gas services firm by market value said on Wednesday, citing "personal reasons".

Mokhzani, the second son of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, is one of the founders of SapuraKencana after merging his oil and gas services firmKencana Petroleum with SapuraCrest in 2012. – Reuters, March 4, 2015.

Citing late notice, police declare Saturday’s free Anwar rally illegal

Dang Wangi ACP Zainol Samah says a demonstration to be held this Saturday to press for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's freedom is illegal under the Peaceful Assembly Act. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Mukhriz Hazim, March 4, 2015.Police have declared a demonstration to be held this Saturday to press for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's freedom illegal under the Peaceful Assembly Act.

The rally in Kuala Lumpur led by PKR Youth's #KitaLawan movement failed to notify the police early enough of its plans, the police said.

Dang Wangi police chief ACP Zainol Samah said that the organiser did not give police enough advance notice to hold the rally as required under the law.

"They have to fill up a form and submit it to us within 10 days before any gathering to be held under Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. I have not received any notice from them," said Zainol in a press conference held at the district police headquarters today, near the venue of the rally which will be held outside the Sogo shopping complex.

He said police had suggested three locations for the gathering, but #KitaLawan organisers had decided to go ahead with the demonstration outside Sogo.

"We suggested Padang Merbuk, Stadium Negara and also the Sultan Sulaiman Club, but they declined," said Zainol.

The police ban on the gathering follows a police report lodged by the management of the Sogo shopping complex against the rally organisers, on the grounds that the demonstration would be bad for business.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider that the report was lodged last week, a few days before the rally outside the same shopping complex on February 28 that was held as a precursor to the March 7 gathering.

Police had allowed the rally on February 28 to proceed.

On that day, about 150 supporters had marched from Sogo to another Kuala Lumpur landmark, the Suria KLCC shopping centre where the Petronas Twin Towers are.

At Sogo, opposition politicians had been able to give speeches to the crowd gathered.

Prior to that, #KitaLawan had also managed to stage two other demonstrations outside Sogo in previous weeks.

Police had met with PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and other #KitaLawan organisers on February 27 to discuss their plans for the March 7 rally.

At that meeting, police told the group that they could proceed with the demonstration provided it was held in a stadium. The group has opted not to.

Sources who told The Malaysian Insider about the police report lodged by the Sogo management said that among the reasons given in the report was that the rallies had affected business, disrupted the flow of traffic, and affected public security, including that of tourists who frequented the area.

It is understood that the operator of a fast food chain in the city also lodged a police report against the rally organiser for causing damage to property during a previous gathering.

To date, six police reports have been lodged by individuals and business entities against #KitaLawan.

Nik Nazmi said the organisers met with police today for 40 minutes.

"They suggested few venues, but we insist of gathering in front of Sogo. They spelled out certain terms and we will bring this back and discuss it with other committee members in a meeting tonight," he said.

Also present at the meeting with the police today were activist Mandeep Singh, Pas Youth treasurer Mohd Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar and DAP National Youth chief Teo Kok Seong.

The rally on March 7 is to push for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's resignation and to demand for the release of Anwar, the Opposition Leader.

Anwar's sodomy conviction and five-year jail sentence was upheld by the Federal Court on February 10. His supporters claim it is a ploy to end his political career.

Lawyers have said the Peaceful Assembly Act cannot be used to criminalise rallies, based on a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal last year that upheld the right to peaceful gatherings.

Lawyers have also warned that police seemed to be using a new "tactic" to nab demonstrators by using the Penal Code instead. – March 4, 2015.

Anwar's lawyers cry foul over rejection

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's lawyers believe that the rejection of the incarcerated leader's request to attend Parliament is both "arbitrary and unlawful".

The lawyers, PKR's N Surendran and Latheefa Koya, said the refusal was "completely unacceptable and obstructive" of the functioning of the Dewan Rakyat.

"Shockingly, no reasons whatsoever were given for the refusal; it was a point-blank rejection.

"This failure to even give reasons renders the decision arbitrary and unlawful," they added in a statement.

The duo confirmed that they received a letter from Prisons Department director-general Zulkifli Omar rejecting Anwar's request to attend Parliament.

"The home minister has evidently chosen to reply through the commissioner general, who is a civil servant and by law answerable to the minister," the said.

On Feb 25, the lawyers made a formal application to Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on behalf of Anwar.

Both Surendran and Latheefa further pointed out that Anwar was still the legitimate opposition parliamentary leader and Permatang Pauh MP.

"The position of opposition leader is legally and constitutionally recognised and is a key part of our parliamentary democracy.

"It is high-handed of the Home Ministry to deny Anwar's voice in parliament without even giving any reasons," they said.

They further stressed that Anwar must be in parliament to attend and debate the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s speech next week, as well as to lead the opposition in checking the executive and safeguarding public interest.

"Zahid and the government must respect democracy, and the Dewan Rakyat as the nation's highest legislative body," they said.

The opening of the next parliamentary session will be on March 9.

PKR previously argued that Anwar should be allowed to attend the new parliament session, since a royal pardon application has been made and as such, he remains as the opposition leader and Permatang Pauh MP until the Pardons Board makes a decision.

Anwar is currently serving a five-year prison sentence following his sodomy conviction.

Cops nab three state reps during Kg Gatco fracas

Three opposition state assemblypersons were arrested in Bahau, Negri Sembilan, this morning after they assisted local villagers in Kampung Gatco to stop the demolition of their rubber plantation.

They are DAP's Bahau assemblyperson Chew Seh Yong and Senawang assemblyperson P Gunasekaren and PKR's Port Dickson assemblyperson M Ravi.

When contacted, DAP Youth chief Teo Kok Seong, who is also Rasah MP, confirmed with Malaysiakini that his colleagues have been arrested.

More than 200 villagers in a land dispute in Kampung Gatco had gathered since last night in a bid to prevent the demolition of their rubber plantation.

However, a villager who was present told Malaysiakini that some 30 Light Strike Force personnel, backed by more than 100 regular police officers and Rela volunteers, moved in to break up the villagers early this morning.

"The police arrested about 30 people," C Ram Babu told Malaysiakini when contacted.

Ram said the villagers had asked Thamarai Holdings Sdn Bhd, which had purchased the disputed land, to hold off the demolition pending a court decision on March 26, but to no avail.

"The contractors came in to cut down our rubber trees," he said.

Victims of failed scheme

The disputed land, approximately 4,700 acres in size, was leased to The Great Alonioners Trading Corporation Bhd (Gatco) in 1977 by the Negri Sembilan State Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).

Gatco was incorporated by the National Union of Plantation Workers for the purpose of a land development scheme for its members.

The current settlers had paid RM7,600 each as deposit to settle on allocated plots of the land as part of the development scheme.

However, the scheme eventually failed and the land was charged to two financial institutions.

Despite Gatco winding up, its liquidators did not sell the land until 2006, when a sale and purchase agreement was executed between Gatco and Thamarai Holdings Sdn Bhd.

A total of 140 settlers have sued Gatco and Tamarai over the sale and the case is pending before the Federal Court.

Will cabinet discuss elephants in the room?

Will today’s weekly cabinet meeting address burning national issues or will it again skirt around them, asks veteran opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang.

Lim pointed out that a number of issues have been dominating public discussions over the past week. They include:

1. 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) RM42 billion scandal;

2. Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's family wealth; and

3. National and international criticisms of judicial independence in Malaysia.

“Can Malaysians expect the prime minister or some minister to inform them later in the day of what the cabinet has decided on these three dominant issues of the day?

“Or whether the cabinet had cowardly and irresponsibly steered completely clear of all these three issues in their cabinet meeting?” he asked in a statement today.

The Gelang Patah MP brought up the need for the cabinet to “take the bull by its horns” in handling the 1MDB mega-scandal exposes and urged all BN component parties to be responsible and not just “pass the buck” to Najib.

A full scale inquiry is needed

He once again illustrated the need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) headed by former law minister Mohd Zaid Ibrahim, or to give support for a full-scale Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry into the scandal.

“Will the cabinet end its traditional three monkeys stance of “eyes that see not, ears that hear not and mouths that speak not” on the 1MDB scandal for the past six years?” Lim, who is also DAP parliamentary leader, asked again.

The debt-laden outfit reportedly settled an RM2 billion debt due to several banks  last week, under suspicious circumstances.

As for the issue on Najib's family wealth, Lim asked whether ministers at today’s cabinet meeting would have the gall to ask Najib to “come clean” with the cabinet.

“Will any minister in the meeting today dare to ask the prime minister to come clean with the cabinet about his family’s wealth as well as what the PMO meant by  its statement on ‘...the alleged contents of any safes...’?

“How many such ‘safes’, are there? In which country and what are in these ‘safes’,” he asked.

An extensive report by the New York Times published on Feb 8 highlighted Najib's family wealth.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) responded with a statement saying: “Neither any money spent on travel, nor any jewellery purchases, nor the alleged contents of any safes are unusual for a person of the prime minister’s position, responsibilities and legacy family assets."

Lim pointed to several issues that have taken place since last year that have brought the country into international spotlight, albeit negatively.

These range from the incarceration of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to the conviction and death sentence delivered on former police commandos Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

With all these events, the question now lies as to whether "there is truly an independent judiciary" and a just rule of law in Malaysia, Lim added.

Bukit Aman identifies M’sians in IS beheading video

Bukit Aman has identified the terrorists in recent IS beheading video as Malaysians.


KUALA LUMPUR: The Bukit Aman counter-terrorism unit has identified the two Malaysians spotted in an Islamic State beheading video.

According to a report by the Star Online, Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division principal assistant director Ayub Khan identified them as 20-year-old Mohd Faris Anuar from Kedah and 26-year-old Muhamad Wandy Muhamad Jedi from Melaka.

In the 30-second video, uploaded onto Facebook on February 20, Faris is seen signalling to the camera with his index finger while Wandy is allegedly the person recording the video.

Both are believed to be part of the new IS wing Majmu’ah al Arkhabiliy that recruits Malaysian and Indonesian militants.

The wing replaced the older unit called Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiah in Syria and Iraq.

According to the Malay Mail Online, there are 39 Malaysians already in Syria, with 17 of them involved with IS, and 22 having joined rival militants Ajnad al-Sham.

Mukhriz gets info on would-be IS militants

Some residents have asked the advice of religious teachers on going to Syria for jihad, says the menteri besar.


ALOR SETAR: Kedah menteri besar Mukhriz Mahathir says he had received information from teachers at a traditional religious school about local residents wanting to go to Syria for jihad.

“These local residents, who did not identify themselves, asked the teachers what was the rule for going to jihad in Syria.

“The teacher brought out the Quran and showed them verses which do not allow them (to go to Syria). It shows how a small number are really keen to go to Syria,” Mukhriz said at a press conference in Wisma Darulaman today.

He said although these people had cancelled their plans to go to Syria after receiving the explanation from the religious teacher, at the same time, he did not discount the possibility that there were many who had gone there without first getting any advice.

“Luckily, they asked about the rules before going to Syria, what if they had gone straight to Syria without asking for advice,” he added.

He said he is worried after receiving the information about this small group wanting to fight in Syria.

The menteri besar also said there was a student in a private institute of higher learning who tried to influence her father to allow her to marry a Syrian through the social media Twitter.

He said the state government depended on the police to curtail the spread of militant and extremist thinking among the people of the state.


Malaysian IS recruits warn families against opposing IS

Family members of IS recruits will be killed if they support the government in opposing IS


KUALA LUMPUR: The number of families from Malaysia joining the militant group, ‘Islamic State’ (IS), is increasing and at least eight families are already in Syria currently.

Principal Assistant Director of the Counter-Terrorism Division, Special Branch in Bukit Aman, SAC Datuk Ayub Khan Mydin Pitchay said five children aged between one and 12 years were also brought by their parents to Syria.

“What is of greater concern is when the influence of the IS is becoming viral to the extent that it is capable of influencing families to migrate and so far, eight families are already in Syria.

“The ideological influence as well as the training provided to the IS members are seen as too powerful to the extent that there are members who are Malaysians who have issued warnings that they would kill their family if they joined the Malaysian government in trying to oppose the IS.

“Such warnings are not only issued to the authorities but their family members too. One of them who is now in Syria has issued a warning to the family via the facebook that he would kill his mother, father and siblings who join the government in opposing the IS,” he told reporters, here Wednesday.


Royal robber jailed for seven months

A labourer breaks into the residence of a family member of Pahang royalty


KUALA LUMPUR: A labourer was sentenced to seven months’ jail by the Magistrate’s Court, here, today for breaking into the residence of a member of the Pahang royal family and stealing things worth about RM30,000.

Mohd Faizan Mohamad, 34, committed the offence in Lorong U-Thant, here, between 6am on Feb 24 and 6am on Feb 25.

He was charged with house break-in and stealing three sets of air-conditioner blowers, one chandelier, copper ingots and a water pump.

Magistrate Saifulakmal Said ordered the accused to serve the sentence from the date of his arrest, Feb 27.

In mitigation for a lighter sentence, Mohd Faizan, who was unrepresented, said: “I thought it was an abandoned house as the compound was overgrown with bushes and it was not locked. I truly am sorry for what I did. I have learned my lesson and I promise not to repeat it.”

However, the magistrate said not knowing the residence was occupied was not an excuse for breaking into it and stealing, and it was still a serious criminal offence.

DPP Raihanah Abd Razak, who appeared for the prosecution, asked for a deterrent sentence, saying the stolen goods were sold off by the accused and could not be recovered.


Civil servant’s IS involvement a grave matter: Zambry

The civil servant from Perak was said to be involved in contributing funds to Malaysians who wished to join the IS in Syria.


IPOH: The Perak government views seriously the suspected involvement of its civil servant in the so-called IS militant group, says Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir.

He however, said that he had yet to receive the full report about the arrest of the civil servant and request it from Perak police chief Datuk Osman Salleh.

“I view seriously the involvement of the state government’s civil servant in the IS. Appropriate legal action should be taken against the suspect,” Zambry told a press conference after chairing the state executive council meeting in Ipoh, Wednesday.

He was commenting on the arrest of three individuals, including a woman, for suspected involvement in the IS group’s activities in Johor, Perak and Kuala Lumpur recently.

The civil servant from Perak was said to be involved in contributing funds to Malaysians who wished to join the IS in Syria.


Undergrad arrested for indecent recordings

Police have yet to establish if the lewd act was for personal use or to be uploaded to a pornographic site.


KUANTAN: Police have detained an undergraduate student who had a fetish for recording women urinating when a closed-circuit television (CCTV)

in the form of a clothes hook on the toilet door of a secondary school in Kuala Terla near Cameron Highlands was uncovered last Thursday.

The suspect’s actions were discovered by a victim, 30, who was the school canteen operator, at 8 am last Thursday when she wanted to use the toilet.

Cameron Highlands District Police Chief DSP Wan Mohd Zahari Wan Busu said the victim saw the hook was crooked on the toilet door and tried to readjust its position.

“As soon as she held the hook, the victim found a small button with the words ‘on/off’, and upon checking it, found a memory card which was believed to have stored the recordings.

“The victim then informed the principal before the school management installed a CCTV in the toilet to identify the culprit,” he said when contacted here today.

He said with the hidden CCTV, the school authorities recorded the actions of the suspect, in his 20s, who entered the toilet looking for the clothes hook.

He said, following the incident, the school head lodged a report at the Kuala Terla Police Station on Friday before police detained the suspect, a final-year student in a university in Kuala Lumpur, in a house near the school.

“Early investigations found that the suspect had made three separate recordings involving three witnesses, for the duration of five minutes, and so far, only one of the victims had come forward to make a report,” he said.

He added that police were continuing investigations into the actual motive for the suspect’s actions – whether it was for personal use or to be spread on any websites with the intention of purposely causing ridicule to the victims.


Najib Asks Auditor-General To Verify 1MDB Accounts

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has instructed the Auditor-General to independently verify 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) accounts.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office Wednesday, the Auditor-General's report would be passed for transparent inspection to the Public Accounts Committee, which is fully bipartisan and reflects Parliament's composition.

It said the prime minister had informed the Cabinet of the move.

"If any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception," Najib said in the statement.

It said the prime minister today called 1MDB and its auditors, Deloitte, before the Cabinet following recent media reports on the wholly-owned government strategic development company.

"Having received clarifications from 1MDB and Deloitte, the Cabinet expressed confidence that no wrong-doing has been committed within 1MDB, and their desire for the company to be allowed to implement the proposed outcomes of its strategic review," the statement said.

Despite this, it noted that the government had called for the Auditor-General to check 1MDB accounts as a further step.

It said that 1MDB provided a briefing on 1MDB's current situation and responded to a series of questions posed by cabinet ministers, including the prime minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Deloitte, it said, provided an overview of their engagement with 1MDB and confirmed that the firm had audited and verified the company's accounts.

"The Cabinet was told that the recent allegations directed at 1MDB relate to transactions undertaken by third parties such as Petrosaudi, not 1MDB.

"The relevant investments of 1MDB have been returned in full with significant audited profit," according to the statement.

In an immediate response, 1MDB president and group executive director Arul Kanda said the company welcomed the prime minister's request for the Auditor-General to verify 1MDB accounts.

It pointed out that the accounts had been audited by Deloitte, one of the world's leading firms.

"We will cooperate fully with the Auditor-General and hope that the outcome of his findings (will) put to rest recent speculation," he said.

Arul said it was clear that the attacks being directed at 1MDB were politically motivated.

"These are deliberately coordinated attempts to undermine the company by spreading unsubstantiated allegations and speculation, which in turn could potentially harm the economy," he added.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Enggan debat kes liwat II, Rafizi label KJ penakut

Sex Gangs May Have Abused Hundreds Of Girls

Children have suffered on an "industrial scale" says the PM, as a report details horrific abuse and a failure to protect victims.

By Lisa Dowd, Sky News Correspondent

Nearly 400 girls may have been sexually exploited in Oxfordshire over a 16-year period, according to a report that has criticised authorities for failing to protect victims.

The Serious Case Review said a paedophile ring was able to rape and abuse six victims for five years because the girls' complaints were not taken seriously.

They were reported missing 500 times between 2005 and 2010, the review said.

One victim described how she turned up at a police station covered in blood in the early hours, but was ignored.

The review found multiple failings and said authorities could have stopped the abuse in 2005, rather than 2010 when it was finally uncovered.

However, it found no evidence of "wilful professional neglect" by police and social workers.

The report reveals 373 girls have been identified as possible victims of sexual exploitation within the last 16 years in the county.

The horrific accounts of six victims are documented within the review, along with their contact with authorities.

One girl said: "I turned up at the police station at 2/3am, blood all over me, soaked through my trousers to the crotch. They dismissed it as me being naughty, a nuisance."

Another told the authorities: "The Asian men felt they ran Oxford. That was exciting. People were afraid of them. I felt protected. People respected them."

Thames Valley's police chief said she deeply regretted her force's failings.

"We are ashamed of the shortcomings identified in this report and we are determined to do all we can to ensure nothing like this ever happens again," said Chief Constable Sara Thornton.

Between 2005-10 the six vulnerable girls were reported missing 500 times - half of those when they were in council care - but it did not raise alarm bells with authorities.

Chair of the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board Maggie Blyth said: "The Serious Case Review has seen no evidence of wilful professional neglect or misconduct by organisations, but there was at times a worrying lack of curiosity and follow through, and much work should have been considerably different and better."

Their trial detailed how they "actively targeted" girls from the ages of 11 and 12, the majority of whom had been sent to live in care homes.

The girls were plied with alcohol, introduced to drugs, then sold for sex in guest houses, private houses and hotels, and abused by multiple men, some of whom had travelled to Oxford from "far afield".

The humiliation and degradation involved knives, meat cleavers and baseball bats. The girls' ordeals sometimes lasted days.

Like similar cases in Rotherham, Rochdale and Derby, the report states the victims were white girls and the perpetrators mainly men of Asian heritage and Muslim culture, but says "no one was aware of evidence of any holding back due to ethnicity".

Read more:

MIC number 2 slams president’s move to sue RoS

MIC deputy president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam criticises the move to file for a judicial review against RoS's directive for re-elections. – The Malaysian Insider filepic, March 3, 2015.Fresh elections for MIC is the best and quickest way to resolve the party's infighting, party deputy president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said, a day after president Datuk G. Palanivel filed for a judicial review against the Registrar of Societies's (RoS) directive for re-elections.

Subramaniam, said legal action would take too long, "up to years", and would have consequences on the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), which the Indian-based MIC is a part of.

“Sometimes, judicial processes are so long that they can take up to years, consequently affecting the party, community, the government, BN, and even the coming general elections,” Subramaniam, who is also the Health Minister, said after launching a food safety conference in Kuala Lumpur.

“As I have stated previously, a quick and immediate resolution should be achieved and by resolution I mean re-election.”

MIC has been in turmoil since its 2013 election for certain office bearers and central committee positions were disputed, leading to the RoS instructing the party to hold fresh polls or face possible deregistration.

Yesterday, Palanivel filed a judicial review against the RoS's order for MIC to hold fresh elections for several positions in the party.

It is the second legal attempt to challenge the RoS, after MIC central working committee (CWC) member K. Ramalingam submitted an application for a judicial review against the action and statements made by RoS and its director-general on February 23.

Subramaniam today disagreed that MIC would split up and said any setbacks would only be temporary.

“Sometimes party members have different views, … but to me I don’t see it as big problem, I think the focus should be on the resolution,” he said.

“Our focus is on re-elections now, not on other issues, we don’t want to be distracted,” he said, adding that preparations for re-elections had already started, citing the selection of candidates from all branches to be sent to the RoS as an example.

Palanivel’s move to file a judicial review has drawn criticism, such as former MIC strategic director S. Vell Paari, who said such a move was against the party’s constitution which required any member to get the approval of the CWC before taking party matters to court.

Dates have not been fixed for the re-elections yet. – March 3, 2015.

Non-Muslims should also be allowed to give out their holy books, says civil society group

Centre For A Better Tomorrow co-president Gan Ping Sieu said other religious bodies should be encouraged to distribute copies of their holy books to promote understanding. – The Malaysian Insider pic, March 3, 2015.The move to distribute one million translated copies of the Quran for free should be accepted as a gesture to promote cross-cultural understanding and enhance unity, said a civil society group, pointing out that other religious bodies should also be allowed to do the same.

The Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) co-president Gan Ping Sieu said in the spirit the "principle of mutuality" and for educational purposes, other religious bodies should be encouraged to distribute copies of their holy books or religious literature.

"Despite living alongside each other for close to 60 years since independence, we are shamefully ignorant of each others' beliefs and practices. Such ignorance breeds contempt and suspicion. As a result, we collectively become susceptible to fear-mongers and those who fan religious hatred.

"But if we are grounded on basic knowledge of others' beliefs and traditions, we are less likely to develop prejudice against those who are different from us.

“On the contrary, we may learn to appreciate the beauty in other faiths, which is useful in helping peel off layers of suspicion or prejudice some of us have built up over the years," he said in a statement today.

Gan said government agencies at both federal and state levels should adopt a holistic approach in educating people of all major faiths and their respective histories.

He said such efforts should be in accordance to Article 11 (4) of the Federal Constitution, which allows the state to restrict or control the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.

As such, he said the Attorney-General Chambers can draw up guidelines, after consultation with various religious bodies, on the dos and don'ts of such educational efforts.

This include the correct and respectable way in handling holy books which he said would prevent people to claim ignorance on where to draw the line between "educational" and "proselytising".

He said the relevant religious authorities should also have dialogues with interfaith council – Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) – as well as other religious bodies to find out their grievances and address their concerns.

A message circulated through social media and on messaging app WhatsApp had said non-Muslims should not accept a copy of the Quran because "the minute you do, you will have to fill in a form claiming it just for record purposes, but actually they will track you down and convert you or change your records stating that you are a Muslim”.

“Be reminded that the Quran is their holy book and it’s not to be touched by others and once it’s in our possession we can't dispose (of) it or put it anywhere because it’s considered as a holy book. Please be safe and exercise your rights and politely reject it," the message read.

The message also said the project to distribute a million free copies of the translated Quran had already started in Klang.

But two groups, the Malaysia Reverted Muslims (MRM) and the Islamic Information and Services Foundation which produced translation of the Quran, have both denied handing out the texts to non-Muslims in Klang.

On February 9, the MCCBCHST urged non-Muslims not to accept the free Qurans.

The council said it rejected the project aimed at reducing misconceptions and Islamophobia.

It added that the actual intention appeared to be propagation of Islam and while Malaysia's laws did not allow non-Muslims to proselytise to Muslims, there were no laws banning Muslims from doing otherwise.

However, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) had said non-Muslims can return copies of the Quran after accepting them and it is also untrue that they will be converted to Islam just by filling up a form.

Race and religious relations have frayed further after the general election GE13 last year when the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) blamed its heavy losses on the Chinese minority, fuelled by Malay-Muslim groups that seek more puritanical Islamic laws across Malaysia.

Malay rights groups like Perkasa and Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia had claimed that Malay rights were being threatened but their often inflammatory statements and actions had been denounced by moderate Malaysians, including Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup who had said their actions went against the very values that the nation was founded upon.

Critics have also accused prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of pandering to conservative views in his party, Umno, so as to remain in power.

Amid worsening race and religious relations in Malaysia, a group of 25 prominent Malays comprising retired high ranking civil officials had published an open letter asking for a rational dialogue on the position of Islam in a constitutional democracy.

Besides garnering support from 22 Muslim activists and 93 civil society groups, the open letter has inspired Malaysians, fed up with fraying race and racial relations, to start similar petitions online. – March 3, 2015.

Azilah, Sirul not challenging RM100 million suit filed by Altantuya’s father, say lawyers

Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar will not respond to the RM100 million suit filed by Altantuya Shaariibuu's father. The former police commandos was found guilty of Altantuya's murder. – The Malaysian Insider filepic, March 3, 2015.Former police commandos Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar who were sentenced to death for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu will not respond to the RM100 million suit filed by the victim's father.

Lawyers Datuk Hazman Ahmad, who represented Azilah, and Datuk Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, who appeared for Sirul during the criminal trial, said they have not received any instructions from the two convicts on the civil suit.

"I have written to the legal firm (Karpal & Co) to inform them that I have no instructions to act for Azilah," said Hazman.

Kamarul gave a similar reply when asked if he would enter defence in the suit filed by Altantuya's father, Setev Shaariibuu.

Azilah is now being kept in solitary confinement at Sungai Buloh prison after the Federal Court allowed the government's appeal against their acquittal.

Sirul left for Australia before the apex court delivered the final verdict but was arrested in Queensland on January 20 and is being held at Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Centre following a red alert issued by Interpol.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ramkarpal who is representing Setev, said obtaining a default judgment was an option available to his client.

Setev filed the suit in 2007, a year after his 28-year-old daughter was murdered.

Both policemen did not enter their defence, unlike the Malaysian government and Altantuya's lover Abdul Razak Baginda.

Setev is seeking damages for "suffering, sorrow, as well as physical and mental anguish".

He filed the suit on behalf of his wife Altantsetseg Sanjaa and their two grandsons, Mungunsha Bayarjargal and Altanshagai Munkhtulga, who are minors.

The couple are guardians of Altantuya's children. The younger child suffers from a medical disorder which requires expensive treatment.

The suit was put on the back burner because the High Court wanted the criminal trial to be concluded first.

Razak Baginda, a close ally of Datuk Seri Najib Razak who was then the deputy prime minister, was initially charged with abetting in the murder but was later acquitted without his defence being called.

The government filed its defence saying that it could not be held vicariously liable because the two former policemen had acted on their own.

Razak Baginda, meanwhile, held the position that although he had known the victim, he denied any knowledge of the murder.

A five-man Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria on January 13 sentenced the two cops to death after allowing the government's appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision to acquit them.

Federal Court judge Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar, who delivered the judgment, said the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Suriyadi said there was overwhelming circumstantial evidence linking the two to the crime.

Evidence in court revealed that the Mongolian woman was either murdered by C4 explosives or was killed first and the remains destroyed on October 18, 2006, in the outskirts of Shah Alam, near the capital city Kuala Lumpur.

On August 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeals brought by Azilah and Sirul and acquitted them.

Four years earlier, High Court judge Datuk Zaki Mohd Yassin had found the two guilty and sentenced them to death. – March 3, 2015.

Kadir: PM's 'Genting wager' another PR flop

The wave of attacks are coming thick and fast. And in the haste to deflect them, his public relations team has roped in his maternal grandfather Mohamad Noah Omar.

And according to a veteran newsman, this is not wise from the perspective of Malay politics.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, A Kadir Jasin said: "Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has lost the plot."

He was responding to reports in Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian which stated "it is understood that Mohamad Noah had financed Najib and his siblings education".

"The older generation of Malays knew and may have accepted him as he was. But this would definitely come as a shock to the younger generation," he said.

Another disaster

Though he did not spell it out, Kadir was alluding to the sentiments of Muslims with regard to sin profits.

In a blog posting, the former News Straits Times group editor-in-chief said although Noah is considered one of Umno's founders, it was his business links that made him controversial.

"He (Mohamad Noah) was the partner of 'gambling king' Lim Goh Tong. Mohamad Noah and Lim started the sole casino project in Genting Highlands in 1965," he added. 

Quoting Lim's memoir 'My Story', Kadir said the tycoon wrote: "On April 27, 1965, Mohamad Noah and I set up a private company called Genting Highlands Sdn Berhad.

"Between the years 1965 and 1970, we made applications to the Pahang and Selangor Governments for 4,940 hectares and 1,110 hectares of freehold land respectively."

The veteran newsman described this as another disaster with regard to the prime minister's high-profile public relations team.

However, the dailies mentioned that Mohamad Noah had divested his shares in Genting Highlands Sdn Bhd before the casino was formed.

'Umno always warlike'

Of late, the focus has been on the lavish lifestyle of Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor, which the Prime Minister’s Office attributed to inheritance.

This led the prime minister’s four brothers to issue a statement to defend their late father as a frugal man and express concern that the issue could taint his reputation.

Also riding on the Najib train was former law minister Zaid Ibrahim, who trained his focus on Sunday’s meeting between the Umno president and division leaders.
He is certain that all division leader would declare their unequivocal support for Najib despite speculation suggesting otherwise.

"According to one of the more well-known division heads, Bung Mokhtar Radin from Kinabatangan, this is a normal meeting with the prime minister where they will ask him some questions to clarify current issues - so there’s nothing extraordinary about the event.

"This is where the weakness of BN’s leadership lies. There is no mechanism to allow for a peaceful leadership transition.

"It’s always warlike and any contest will tear BN apart. This is why an Umno president can rule forever, even if he is a disaster like the current one. No one dares to challenge him because that’s not done in this autocratic party," he added.

If PM's 'wealth' not from dad, then from where?

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's belated statement supporting his four brothers that their father, former prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein, lived a frugal and moderate lifestyle has opened a new can of worms.

DAP's Petaling Jaya MP Tony Pua said Najib's remarks in Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian are a subtle rebuttal of his own office's explanation that the prime minister’s substantial wealth was from inheritance.

"His denial that the source of his family’s wealth comes from 'legacy family assets' begs the question of the exposĂ© in the first place. Where exactly did all these money come from?" he asked in a statement today.

Pua (right) said the fact is that Najib's family is able to spend and acquire assets globally, worth millions of ringgit, as reported by the New York Times, even though the Najib only earns about RM350,000 a year.

"Therefore, if Najib Abdul Razak believes that his source of unusual wealth and a lifestyle of exuberant luxury is all acquired scrupulously, then he must explain how he obtained them when his only occupation was as the Pahang menteri besar (1982-1986), cabinet minister (1986-2004) and deputy prime minister (2004-2009), before assuming the prime ministership in 2009.

"I am certain the prime minister will agree with me that his lack of transparency and the exposĂ© of his family’s hidden and not-so-hidden wealth will only encourage more unhealthy speculations on the origins of his family’s outsized wealth," Pua said.

Rosmah’s Birkin handbags

He also cited a New York Times report that said Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor was photographed with at least nine different Birkin handbags, typically costing between US$9,000 (RM32,000) to US$150,000 (RM530,000) a piece.

This is on top of invoices obtained by the newspaper that showed millions of dollars worth of jewellery ordered for Rosmah.

Pua also cited Najib's stepson Riza Aziz's (on the left) purchase of a US$33.5 million (RM117.5 million) apartment in New York and a house in Beverly Hills worth at least US$17.5 million (RM61.5 million) despite previously being just a junior-level officer at HSBC, as reported by the New York Times.

In an extensive report published on Feb 8, New York Times spotlighted Najib's wealth and also sought an explanation from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

The PMO responded with this statement: “Neither any money spent on travel, nor any jewellery purchases, nor the alleged contents of any safes are unusual for a person of the prime minister’s position, responsibilities and legacy family assets."

Subsequently, Najib's four brothers issued a rare public statement, stressing that their father Abdul Razak was a principled man known for his frugality and any suggestions otherwise tainted the memory of the statesman.

The Feb 24 statement, which excluded Najib, was signed by Johari, Nizam, Nazim and Nazir.

Yesterday, Najib finally endorsed the statement of his brothers and reiterated that his father lived a frugal and moderate lifestyle.

A woman's letter to the men of Malaysia

COMMENT Dear men of Malaysia,

In 2012, a woman in Delhi was brutally raped and murdered in a bus after an evening out with a friend. Her rapist is now on death row.

The story of this young woman, Jyoti Singh, 23, resonated across the globe - and when it hogged Malaysian social media, I didn't read a single comment saying she had it coming.

Her rapist and murderer however thinks she did.

Awaiting the hangman's noose, Mukesh Singh in a BBC interview which will air this Sunday said that Jyoti, whom he and his friends took turns to savage was to blame for the injuries which led to her death.

A woman out at night is inviting trouble, he said, and when it happened she should have just laid there instead of fighting back.

I would like to think that you, the Malaysian male, do not think the same, but reading the reactions that came out of a recent Friday sermon about women who don't cover their aurat does make me wonder.

There is not quite the need to recount the arguments for and against, the outcry that followed, nor the statistics that show that no, rape victims were not the ones scantily dressed walking about at night.

There is no need for that because you already know this. You know this because women's groups have been yelling this at the top of their lungs every time someone blames victims for their own rape.

But why is that? Why is it always the women who are made to defend themselves when such statements are made? Isn't this an insult to men?

Surely men are not beasts

Saying women are raped because of the way they dress is saying this: You, the men out there - you fathers, brothers, sons, friends and lovers of women - are all beasts who have no more control over your groin than your average mangy alley cat.

That you can hardly see a woman not covered from head to toe without wanting to pounce on her and if she does not give in, force yourself onto her. That for all your intellect and reason, the sight of a woman's skin turns you into an animal.

And if she is stupid enough to struggle like Jyothi who fought for her life as the men ripped her insides out, you will do just that - punish her for not just lying back and enjoying it.

No. I don't believe that you are like that.

You may sometimes make sexist jokes, or have different standards for women but I believe you are mostly kind, mostly responsible, mostly respectful of women.

You are not Mukesh Singh, counting the days to death thinking that you don't deserve to be sent to the gallows. That this stupid woman out at night had asked for it.

You are not Mukesh Singh, and no woman walking around at night or in daylight, dressed in any way would make you turn into Mukesh Singh.

And I hope the next time someone says men rape women because of the way she dresses, you would not let these people insult you like this.

That you will stand up and say “Not this man” and that you would not be the only one.

Much love,


AIDILA RAZAK is a member of the Malaysiakini team.

Tears flow over sambal bilis as Sirul meets mum

Tears flowed as murder convict Sirul Azhar Umar and his mother Piah Samad embraced each other at long last at the Villawood Immigration Centre in Sydney.

Bringing a taste of home through some sambal ikan bilis, Piah and her daughter Noriatin Umar spent two hours with Sirul, who fled a death sentence in the high profile murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu.

"It was a sombre moment when mother and son embraced. Tears of longing flowed from this mother for her son far from home, whose fate is yet unknown," PAS information chief Mahfuz Omar said in a statement.

The sambal was cooked by Piah at the delegation's accommodation in Sydney.

When contacted by Malaysiakini, Mahfuz said Sirul remained stoic and dry-eyed during the initial embrace.

"It is the nature of men, and what more he is a police officer who was given special operations training to be strong, so he did not show any signs of grief.

"I was the one who felt moved seeing the two of them hug," he said.

Sirul, however, betrayed a "glimpse of sadness" when his mother was about to leave.

No photographs were allowed in the detention centre, which is actually a house which Sirul is placed on his own.

Mahfuz is accompanying Piah and Noriatin in what he terms as a "humanitarian mission" to reunite Sirul and his elderly mother.

They will be visiting Sirul again daily until Friday.

Altantuya murder not discussed

During their time together today, Mahfuz said Sirul did not discuss the Altantuya murder.

"We only discussed how his time in the detention centre was, we did not stray from my (humanitarian) mission," Mahfuz said.

Sirul previously told Malaysiakini he acted under orders and is mulling a tell-all interview with Australian media.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak however brushed off Sirul's claims as "utter rubbish".

Although there is Interpol red alert on Sirul, Australian laws bar the country from deporting anyone facing a death penalty at home.

Sirul and colleague Azilah Hadri are facing the hangman's noose, while Abdul Razak Baginda who was charged for abetment in the murder, was released without his defence being called.

Abdul Razak Baginda was known to be Najib's close associate.

Arguments against Anwar attending Parliament

An offender has never been allowed to attend parliamentary sessions in the history of the legislature and constitutionµ


KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyer said today the request by PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is serving a five-year jail sentence for sodomy, to attend meetings of the Dewan Rakyat, which sits for 20 days from Monday, should not be entertained.

Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat, who is chairman of the Malaysian Volunteer Lawyers Association (SukaGuam) said, allowing Anwar to attend Dewan Rakyat would be tantamount to mockery of the judiciary because he was convicted of a crime.

“An offender who is serving a sentence should not be allowed to attend (Dewan Rakyat) sittings. Offenders have never been allowed to do so in the history of the legislature and constitution, not only in the country but also elsewhere in the world. I have checked on this. This will clearly be an insult,” he told Bernama.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat has reportedly applied to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to allow Anwar, the MP for Pematang Pauh and Opposition Leader, to attend meetings of the Dewan Rakyat from Monday pending the disposal of an application for a royal pardon for Anwar.

The Federal Court, on Feb 10, found Anwar guilty of sodomy and upheld a Court of Appeal’s decision by sentencing him to five years’ jail.

Khairul Anwar said Anwar was penalised by the court as a lesson to the people regarding an offence and the offender should serve his sentence regardless of his status and position.

“If he is freed and allowed to attend Parliament, it would have been futile for the penalty to have been imposed and for him to be free just like any other person without any remorse (for) what he had done,” he said.

“Attending Dewan Rakyat sittings can be permitted if it is a study tour by prisoners close to their release (date) but not to attend as an MP,” he said.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) School of Social Sciences lecturer Prof Dr Ahmad Atory Hussain agreed that allowing Anwar to attend Dewan Rakyat sittings as an MP would be showing disrespect for the judiciary.

He said there is no question of his rights having been violated as he had been given ample opportunity to defend himself before the court found him guilty.

“This is not a question of whether he is an opposition party leader. If other MPs were in the same situation, they should also not be allowed to attend meetings of the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geostrategist Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said there is no urgent or critical necessity for Anwar to attend Parliament, and it appears that he seems to have an ulterior motive.

He said the presence of Anwar would trigger massive political polemics.

Disallowing Anwar to attend Parliament is neither a violation of human rights nor, for that matter, persecution as alleged by his supporters, he said.


Civil servant among three caught for IS links

Civil servant believed to be senior member of terrorist group (IS)


KUALA LUMPUR: A civil servant was among three people who were detained by the Special Branch’s counter-terrorism unit in Johor and Perak on suspicion of having links with the so-called IS terrorist group.

They were picked up in operations between 28th Feb and 2nd March.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, said a police team picked up the civil servant on suspicion of helping to register a Facebook account for use by some Malaysians relating to IS group’s activities.

“We believe the suspect, who is from Perak, is also a senior member of the terrorist group in Syria.

“Our investigations revealed the 39-year-old suspect was also planning to join the IS (in Syria) in the near future,” Khalid said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday.

He said in the second case, the police detained a 22-year-old male trader from Perak on suspicion of contributing funds to Malaysians who wished to join the IS in Syria.

The other suspect, a 29-year-old housewife from Johor, was caught for allegedly planning to join the militant group.

“We believe the woman had instigated a 14-year-old female student who was detained at the KL International Airport on Feb 17 for allegedly trying to join the IS in Syria,” said Khalid.


Scramble for scapegoats begins as 1MDB scandal deepens

Analyst says it looks like PMO has started trying to distance Najib from a possible scandal.


PETALING JAYA: It appears that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has begun the process of trying to wash PM Najib’s hands clean of what may turn out to be the biggest political and financial scandal in recent Malaysian history, according to analyst Shahbudin Husin.

Tied to that process may be a search for a scapegoat, he writes in a blog entry that indicates his belief that the 1MDB controversy is close to reaching a climax.

He refers to a recent report in London’s Sunday Times which quoted the PMO as saying that Najib was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.

“It’s obvious that this was an attempt to distance Najib from any problems 1MDB may now be facing,” he says.

“But it’s not so easy to lift the burden off Najib’s shoulders for he is the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and chairman of the company’s board of advisors. Can we believe that funds in such large amounts can be invested or disbursed without Najib’s knowledge or consent?”

If 1MDB had been successful, he adds, there’s no doubt that the success would have been attributed to Najib’s acumen in his day-to-day involvement with the company.

Shahbudin wonders who will become the scapegoat or scapegoats in the event the 1MDB affair unravels and turns out to be a major scandal or, as DAP’s Tony Pua has put it, “the heist of the century”.

“Will the scapegoat be Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, the current chairman of 1MDB? Will the second and third scapegoats be its former CEO, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman and his successor, Arul Kanda Kandasamy? Will there be other scapegoats still?”

Shahbudin notes that the PMO’s statement to the Sunday Times came after a claim by whistleblower website Sarawak Report that it was in possession of emails and documents showing that 1MDB’s joint venture with PetroSaudi in 2009 was allegedly a front to channel funds to a company controlled by tycoon Jho Low.

He says it would be difficult for Najib to deny any association with Jho Low because the playboy tycoon is a close friend of his stepson, Riza Aziz.

“Besides reports that Jho Low has become close to the Prime Minister’s wife through Riza, there have also been reports that Najib himself has met him several times overseas,” he says.

“With the new allegation that Jho Low tried to make off with RM2.5 billion of 1MDB’s money, the call for the truth to be revealed to the public, perhaps through a royal commission of inquiry, has grown louder.”

I would accept a copy of the Quran

COMMENT If someone handed me a copy of the Quran, I am happy to accept it with no ill will in my heart. I have concluded long ago that all religious texts in this world are guidelines to improve human behaviours.

The unfortunate part is many people misinterpreted religious text all the time. If someone has got it right, then it does not matter what religion you are from, their action shows.

In my opinion, the rules that the fundamentalists Muslims want every Muslim to follow are not that much different from the monastic rules for the Buddhist monks and nuns. The only big difference is their approach.

Buddhists see the rules as a path for their followers to practice if and only if they want to attain Nibanna (enlightenment). The themes that Buddhism carried all through a person's religious life are basically an invitation to explore and the gradual training. It is a personal inward journey. No amount of compulsion can facilitate a personal journey.

If a Buddhist decides to go to the beer festivals and have vice activities, that is his or her Karma. It is as simple as that. That is their business. If you want Nibanna, the monastic codes are much stricter than the rules imposed by the Taliban or IS.

A Buddhist monastic cannot have sex, drugs/intoxicants or entertainment. The Taliban can have up to four wives.

I have tried two years as a monk in 1997/98. I left the monastery and prefer to live a lay life; that is to follow the basic Buddhist rules ala Taliban. No, I did not take four wives, but I am married and live a simple Buddhist "Talibanistic" lifestyle as a Yoga and Qi Gong teacher.

Familiar rules

Here are the basic five precepts for a general practitioner of the Buddhist faith to follow; I undertake the training not to kill, steal, lie, commit sexual misconduct and not to use intoxicants (drugs or alcohol). Sounds familiar to Christians and Muslims?

The fifth precept of no intoxicant is the same with Islam's no alcohol consumption. It basically means no alcohol or drugs which can alter our state of mind. The Buddhist's fifth precept goes as far as nothing addictive, which includes no cigarettes.

If the follower of the Buddhist faith wants to practice the religion a bit deeper, they can undertake the eight precept; which includes no meals after noon (which means fasting after 12 noon). Water and juice is fine but not solid foods or soups all through the monastic life, and not only a particular month of the year like in Ramadan.

No entertainments, make ups and jewellery (basically no fashion or self-gratifying lifestyles); and no high and luxurious beds. Does that sound familiar to Muslims?

The seventh precept of no music and entertainment is needed if you want to embark on a meditative lifestyle. Music and entertainment do influence our moods and interfere with the meditative process of calming the mind.

In the time of the Buddha, high and luxurious beds are used by the rich. We need to put it in context as the rule was written 2558 years ago.

Nowadays almost everyone has got a high bed, in the Buddha's time only the rich have high beds, if you know what I am trying to get at. What that rules meant for the present day Buddhist follower is not living luxurious or indulgent lifestyles.

Basically all religions are socialistic in their lifestyle, perspective and ideology.

(I just don't get it when PAS president Hadi Awang rejected Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) as a member of Pakatan Rakyat. Socialism is Islam without the religious dogma as far as I am concerned.)

A holy book is just a book

The Dalai Lama stated clearly that he is a socialist in his May 2014 Mumbai visit. He stressed that there is a need for hygiene of emotions. He said: “Human intelligence is very brilliant, but sometimes it is clouded with bad emotions. Most of the tyrannical people in human history, I think, were very intelligent people.”

“Lenin, for instance,” he elaborated, “was a very sharp-minded and intelligent person, but he was clouded by negative emotions of hatred and anger.”

If one has an in-depth understanding of one’s religion, one would be able to draw the similarities in other great religions because they all promote the cultivation of positive attitudes of a human being.

Human beings can only experience common emotions. Different religions are relevant for different people because of the diversity of language and culture.

Humans have different capabilities in understanding the meaning of the words. The words used are only pointers into one’s heart. The holy book is just a book, there is no point reading the holy book over and over again but fail to change your bad-natured state of mind.

I am confident that if I quote from one religion a verse, some other religions will have similar themes in their books.

An example in Taoism by Tung Kai Yin, "The goal is not to demonstrate one's strength, power or violence. The goal is to attain ones serenity, tranquillity and the discovery of oneself. It is truly the exercise of the mind". I have not read the Quran before, but prove me wrong if there is no such similar theme in the Quran?

Discrimination and propagation

If you want to practice Buddhism a bit further, you can be a Buddhist monk or nun. The monastic code contains 227 major rules for Buddhist monks and 311 major rules for Buddhist nuns.

The rules, if you research its content in our modern day computer god Google under the topic ‘Vinaya’, you will easily conclude that they are stricter than the Taliban/IS imposed rules.

Sounds like discrimination against women, isn't it?

2,558 years ago in India, women were slaves and if their husbands die, they have to throw themselves in the fire pit together with their dead husbands. In that era, leaving home to be a Buddhist nun is the most radical thing you can ever do because they defied the society's norms in search for personal spirituality growth. A Buddhist nun was a radical feminist in those days.

In the Buddhist monastic code, a monk cannot look into a woman's eyes and vice versa, or touch a person of the opposite sex. Again the reason is simple, if you want to prepare your mind for meditation, potential lustful thoughts are a major hindrance to deep meditations. If you don't believe it, try it out.

Am I propagating the Buddhist religion to Muslims or increasing the Muslim's faith in their religion in this article? If you have the state of mind like Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali, former MP Zulkifli Noordin and Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman, then you may conclude that I am leading Muslims astray.

If you don't feel that I am propagating Buddhism, then you might feel relieved.

More than just rituals

Islam is not unique in their strict rules after all, it's a rule for humanity if they want to explore deeper into their faith. So what are the things that humans try to explore throughout history? Is it just words or just dress codes or compulsory attendance of prayer time? Or something deeper than that?

In one of the 227 rules, a Buddhist monk cannot live and stay under the same roof with a woman (and vice versa). That was written over 2,558 years ago.

If you follow the word literally "under the same roof" now, basically Buddhist monks and nuns cannot stay in any high rise buildings.

But an intelligent practitioner should look at it in context; the purpose of the rule is to prevent potential sensual activities so that the monastic code of celibacy is not broken.

Now, there are high rise buildings everywhere, as long as you are at different addresses, technically you are at different houses.

I was on a meditation holiday three years ago in Sri Lanka and happened to bump into a old Muslim man going on the haj at the airport. He dressed and looked like Mahatma Gandhi wearing the simple white sling robe the same way Gandhi did.

That got me thinking if the Muslims have copied the Hindus on that type of dressing during haj? After all, the Middle-Easterners do not wear that type of clothing in the desert.

Would Perkasa, Isma be insulted?

Is this point good enough to insult Perkasa or Isma? The Buddhist Anagarika (monks and nuns to be) wear the same type of white robes like the Muslims on the haj.

Why can't we sit down and have an intelligent conversation on the good purpose of all religions? Instead the easily insulted and so-called defenders of Islam go to make a police report and make a mountain out of a mole hill with the knowledge that the police are one sided in their investigations.

Wearing the same gear also gives the practitioner the comfort that you are not alone in the path. There are others around you that practice the same to encourage and inspire you on your inner spiritual journey.

It also removes doubt as to whether you on the right path or not. Humans are social beings, seeing others practising the same way gives one the confidence that one is on a right path.

There is not much difference between wearing a saffron/yellow robe with a shaved head and a turban with a beard. These are just cultural practices that suit the specific climatic conditions. Both are symbols of simplicity and belongings to a particular religion.

As far as I am concerned, it defeats the purpose of simplicity if you cover yourself fully but wear expensive jewellery with heavy make-up under the cover. That only indicates that the society forces you to wear a certain dress code but in your heart you fancy something totally opposite to what your religion wants you to do.

Words are just signposts

In the Pali canon there are words like suka, duka, citta, dana, Pahla and many more. If you are a Malaysian or Indonesian who explore the Buddhist Pali canon, you will be surprise to find about 5-10 percent of the words used are similar to the Malay language.

The Buddhist’s five precepts are called Panca Sila. No correlation with Sukarno's modern Indonesian Panca Sila.

Do Buddhists want to have exclusivity over those words? Words are just words, claiming exclusivity is just petty and shows low understanding of the purpose of religions.

All religions want us to understand our hearts and act with a clear conscience. Words are just signposts to direct the heart in the right direction.

The modern world is testing the understanding of the religious educators in their religions. They have to revamp their style of teaching so that the younger generation are able to relate to their religion of birth.

If we are to place any blame on anyone for the deterioration of a particular religion, then part of the blame should be directed to the religious educationalists.

Most traditional religious educationalists are holding on to dogma. They have difficulties explaining the context of the books that was written thousands of years ago to the modern world. The modern world needs multi-disciplinary religious teachers.

Religion under attack

I must admit this is common in Buddhism too, there are many who can regurgitate and quote from the traditional Buddhist texts, they sound very professional too when they quote the traditional Pali language.

There are not many who have in-depth knowledge of the modern scientific world, as a result they are unable to tie the two together to explain its modern world applications in our lives.

It is easier for the traditional religious educationalists to pigeon hole it under the category of "our religion is under attack" than relating it in modern terms because of their restricted understanding of modern world developments.

If you cry Islam is under attack, I am sure Buddhism is also under attack too! Many people are leaving the religion in droves in traditional Buddhist countries. Many traditional Buddhists are joining beer drinking festivals, drinking heavily in wedding dinners and they still call themselves Buddhists/Taoists.

Is it my job to stop them from drinking or their own job to understand their own religions? Probably it is the fault of the Buddhist monks and nuns for they fail to inspire them to understand their traditional religion in the modern context. It is for us to find out isn't it?

I can easily cry "Buddhism is under attack!" or they are the main reason why we Buddhist are poor. But if I do that, it means I have deficit thinking. That kind of thinking can only put your own race and religion down in the long run.

The Buddhist will classify that as the fault finding mind. If one has a fault finding mind, one is creating bad Karma for oneself.

Negative thinking

Whether it is Western psychology term it as deficit thinking or Buddhism terms it as the fault finding mind, the Quran or the Bible will have their similar version or theme.

Negative thinking is a common human trait and all religions in this world would have something to say about this kind of thinking. I hope the reader can prove me wrong.

In short, all religious texts are guidelines for people to embark on a personal spiritual journey. It does not matter what religious book you are holding, if you behave badly, you are a shaming your own religion.

All religions want their followers to be fair to others. If others are not allowed to mention the word ‘Allah’ in their Bible let alone distributing them publicly but you can freely distribute your Quran to others. Do you think that is fairness?

All religious texts portray god as fair, but humans who do not understand their religious text act unfairly in the name of their god.

"It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person. In a way, the traditional notion of God is out-dated.

“One can be spiritual but not religious. It is not necessary to go to church and give money -for many, nature can be the church.

“Some of the best people in history do not believe in God, while some of the worst deeds were done in His name." - Pope Francis

KUO YONG KOOI is a keen observer of Malaysian politics. He now lives as a permanent resident in Australia as a yoga and Qi Gong instructor.

Globalisation and Malaysia’s legal profession

ImageBusiness Circle produced by the Economic Transformation Programme:
By Shahjanaz Datuk Kamaruddin

Like other professional groups in the services industry, the legal profession in Malaysia has had to adapt and reshape itself to keep up with changing global trends.

This is more so since the Legal Profession (Amendment) Act 2012 and the Legal Profession (Licensing of International Partnerships and Qualified Foreign Law Firms and Registration of Foreign Lawyers) Rules came into force in June 2014, permitting foreign law firms to apply to set up joint ventures with Malaysian firms or to practice in permitted areas specifically-related to Islamic finance.

In addition, foreign practitioners are permitted to fly-in-and fly out of Malaysia to render services for a period of up to 60 days in a calendar year. Notable also is that arbitration, offering an alternative form of dispute resolution in Malaysia, is now open to foreign lawyers.

But is the pace of liberalisation a bit too slow?

Malaysian Bar Council president Christopher Leong Not according to Christopher Leong (pic), president of the Malaysian Bar Council. In an interview after the Bar Council hosted the International Malaysia Law Conference last September, he defended the graduated manner in which the legal profession is being liberalised, arguing that the process has to be carefully managed in order to achieve the desired outcomes.

The changes introduced are, in his view, quite progressive and a step in the right direction. No jurisdiction in the world would allow a free-for-all market.

He conceded that liberalisation is inevitable and admitted that the majority of law firms have yet to feel the impact of the changes introduced since June 2014, as many have neither the interest nor the capacity to practise in the permitted areas. However this does not lessen the need for lawyers to prepare to seize opportunities beyond Malaysia’s shores.

The Bar Council takes the lead in promoting its members’ interests by taking measures to assist and prepare them to operate in a liberalised market, and to grow the legal services sector year-on-year in line with the government’s goal to enlarge the service industry’s contribution to the nation’s GDP to 65% by 2020.

The Bar Council aspires also to do its part to promote Malaysia as a premier business destination. After all as Leong pointed out: “A vibrant business environment needs the support of a vibrant legal profession.”

The IMLC provides the ideal platform for Bar Council members and other lawyers to share and exchange knowledge with delegates from around the globe. Lawyers are encouraged to assess their own potential to take on high yield work from foreign clients or even to spread their wings within the region or beyond.

“It is essential to awaken their realisation and widen their world view”, the Bar Council president elaborated.

At the IMLC the topic Global Trends in the Legal Profession: the Drivers and the Disruptors attracted considerable interest from among the 900 delegates present. Since the global financial crisis in 2008 and with regionalisation and globalisation, the delegates were told the “trade flow of goods, capital and know-how has shifted at unprecedented levels”. Moreover the Internet provides easy access to new markets, market information and customer demands.

It was further pointed out that regulators are becoming better resourced and assertive especially in advanced economies. In order to stay relevant and successful, law firms must build up their capacity to understand the potential extraterritorial impact of laws and navigate the regulatory maze.

Data privacy, anti-competition and anti-bribery are just a few examples of laws that have an impact beyond the borders of the countries where they were originally enacted.

The IMLC delegates were also informed of the recent trends in the United Kingdom where there has been a shift away from the law partnership model towards law businesses owned by listed companies, private equities, retailers and even local authorities. Large accounting firms are also beginning to offer legal services in fields related to their areas of expertise.

The legal profession around the world faces an unprecedented period of change, much of it caused by developments beyond its control and outside of the legal profession. Recognising this, Leong reiterated that the Bar Council has to ensure its members are not just legally competent, but also proficient in business and politics.

It is clear that the legal profession in Malaysia has to adapt to an increasingly globalised environment where gaining an understanding of what is happening beyond Malaysia’s shores would enhance the quality of its service levels.

With the right knowhow, law firms too can chase the money by following wherever the investors go. In a borderless world the opportunities are there to be explored.

SPM: Results Still Following Trend - Muhyiddin

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said although the overall performance in last's year's Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination dipped slightly, it was still following the trend and was not very much different than in the three years before 2013.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said the performance could be deemed satisfactory because the candidates were able to use Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) well despite the percentage of questions requiring this increasing.

"This method of questioning could have been among the fatcors affecting the performance of candidates. Apart from this, several other factors that might have contributed to the swings in performance will be analysed in detail.

"However, the results also showed that the performance gap between urban and rural candidates has narrowed as compared to 2013," he said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday.

The results were also announced earlier Tuesday. Of the 455,839 candidates who took the examination, 11,289 or 2.62 per cent obtained excellent results.

Muhyiddin in congratulating candidates who achieved excellent results said the results analysis announced showed the academic achievements of students who had undergone secondary education and sat for the examination at certificate level.

"Hopefully, they will continue the culture of excellence in their lives and fields they excel in. To all candidates who did not do well, take it as a challenge and opportunity to achieve success in future," he said.

The deputy prime minister also congratulated all special need candidates for recording comendable improvements.

According to him, their success showed all candidates had the opportunity to perform well in the SPM examination if they worked hard.

Muhyiddin said the ministry had explored the latest pedagogical approach to raise the quality of teaching and and learning in the classroom.

"Among them is student thinking skills as well as various learning programmes and the implementation of standard-based curriculum.

"HOTS is a skill required to be mastered by students as preparation to be global citizens. Among HOTS skills required by students are mathematical reasoning, language interpretation, making inferences, scientific reasoning and problem solving skills which were measured in the 2014 SPM examination," he said.

He clarified that apart from these, the ministry was also actively working to strengthen support for school teachers and administrators.

This included introducing full-time guidance teachers and guidance principals or headmasters at district education office level (PPD).

"They would be able to give complete focus as mentors and strengthen relations between teachers and principals or headmasters.

"Competent leaders are a factor which contributed to the performance of students and as such the ministry will seek measures to enhance the quality of leadership at JPN and PPD," he said.

Muhyiddin said the ministry was determined to raise the quality of students' achievement in line with the aspiration to place Malaysia's education system within the top one third in the world and it was starting with the quality of public examinations in the country.

He said the ministry would continue to implement various suitable intervention programmes to raise the excellent performance of students in various aspects including the SPM examination.

"This is important to meet the six student aspirations under the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint and to produce holistic human capital as desired under the National Education Philosophy (FPK).

"Apart from that, the ministry will conduct studies to identify factors which influenced the performance and results of students so that suitable follow-up action could be taken," he said.

Muhyiddin said the ministry would ensure effective and meaningful programmes for student learning especially for subjects which recorded lower achievement to be implemented more thoroughly and with full responsibility.