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Thursday, September 25, 2008

PEGGING


1. I am not in the business of advising the Government. When I mentioned the advisability of pegging the Ringgit, it was in answer to a question posed by a reporter. If the Government noticed the report I would feel flattered.

2. Pegging currencies is not as easy as it sounds. The whole thing must be studied very carefully. Even getting agreement by a select panel is not easy. A decision made on the spur of the moment that pegging is not possible cannot really reflect the assessment made together with experts in consultation.

3. Pegging need not be always with the US Dollar. But the fact that the US Dollar is currently not stable is no reason why the idea should be summarily dismissed.

4. There can be other options. Other more stable currencies can be used or a basket of currencies may be used to reduce extreme volatility.

5. The US Dollar is backed by nothing, not even reserves in foreign currencies and gold which other countries hold in order to back their own currencies. The US is a bankrupt nation which means it is not in a position to provide foreign currency backing for its money.

6. The gold in Fort Knox has been depleted long ago and the pegging to gold of a certain amount as agreed to at the Bretton Woods has been done away with by President Nixon. No more gold standards. Yet the US Dollar still commands a certain value in the market. It is still being used for trade payments. This in fact gives the US Dollar a certain value even though the value, in exchange rate terms may change.

7. If the US Dollar is not used in international trading, it will have no value at all. This will of course hurt a lot of countries including Malaysia which carry substantial sums of US Dollar as reserves. Countries like China, Saudi Arabia and tiny Singapore would want to support trade payments made in US Dollar. They do not want their huge reserves of US Dollar to become worthless.

8. What we see here is the importance of international trade payments in sustaining the value of a currency.

9. Long, long ago I suggested the use of a special currency for trade. The currency should be equal in value to a fixed amount of gold. It should not be used domestically as each country would have its own currency pegged to the special trading currency.

10. The price of gold may go up and down but we know that the price of gold today is more than, say, 30 years ago. If we keep gold long enough we will eventually see it appreciating. It is not as volatile as currency notes.

11. So gold is an ideal standard for a trade currency. Effectively we would be going back to the Gold Standard, both for the trading currency and the domestic currency. For the domestic currency the rate against gold can change in keeping with inflation.

12. It was suggested that we call this trading currency the "dinar". Transactions would of course not be in solid gold dinars but with equivalent papers. It is not practical to carry around so much gold dinars but this will not be necessary if a country's export to another country and its import from that country is fairly balanced and only the difference need to be paid.

13. I am not an expert in this area but we can get experts to study whether pegging or the gold dinar are feasible. I would not dismiss the eficacy of these so easily.

14. Perhaps I can make a ridiculous suggestion. Why not make all Malaysian trade payments in Malaysian Ringgit?

15. We are a big trading nation. We export more than 200 billion Ringgit worth of raw material and manufactured goods and we import slightly less than that. Traders cannot just ignore us or boycott us. They need our exports and they need to sell their products to us.

16. All we need to do is to demand payment in Malaysian Ringgit for our exports. We can require payment for our imports in Ringgit according to the current value in an international trading currency or gold.

17. If we do this there will be a constant demand for Ringgit and this will keep the value of the Ringgit at a certain level which we can fix, taking into consideration factors which influence its value.

18. This may sound like a ridiculous suggestion. But not being a trained economist or financier I can allow myself the privilege of unorthodox thinking.

Pak Lah's Insider

According to the Malaysian Insider:

It appears that the DPM has lost control of his own warlords on the ground. He admitted as much in talks with several supreme council members recently.

As such, he is unable or unwilling to risk the backlash from them if he continues to support the transition plan which will see Abdullah contesting the party elections in December and then handing over power to Najib in 2010.

Najib believes that if he supports the transition plan unconditionally, there is a possibility that he and Abdullah will have to face off with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and other critics of the PM.

He has told his supporters that he is confident that he and Abdullah will be able to emerge victorious but was worried that it will come at a high price.

On the flip side, if he distances himself from Abdullah's transition plan, this is bound to persuade the PM to wage an all out campaign to obtain at least 58 nominations from the divisions and defend his party president's position.

In this scenario, Najib may have to face off with Abdullah, a battle which could be expensive for a politician still recovering from a battering to his image by the Opposition.

So the safest option for Najib was to cobble together a plan which achieved the twin objectives of allowing Abdullah to remain in his position for a few more months without committing to the 2010 transition plan.

He believes that postponing the party elections will keep the peace in the party and allow all the stakeholders to walk away with something.

And yes, it will allow Najib to inherit an intact Umno.

Now, according to Najib's people, the postponement was not Najib's idea but Abdullah's. Najib, they said, is not agreeable to the postponement. Najib, they stressed, have always said it's up to the delegates to decide.

Ladies and Gentleman, it looks like the PM's propaganda machinery has arrived in blogosphere ...(Rocky's bru)

ISA no longer a 'necessary evil'

By Baradan Kuppusamy

In the old days the aristocracy the world over could pass by your hut, size up your wife or daughter or your harvest and take one or all.

There were laws in traditional society but the king was above the law and there was nothing you could do.

Today's rulers use the ISA for the same purpose and in the same manner - to silence critics, curb dissent, decimate the political opposition and above all stay in power.

Leaving rebel minded former de facto lawyer minister Zaid Ibrahim aside, even a establishment man like Tengku Razaliegh Hamzah, a prince, opposes the use of the ISA against legitimate dissent.

The ISA is a primitive and powerful weapon of statecraft to strike fear into the hearts of critics, political opponent and ordinary people.

But it is a tool of the past and any democracy worth its salt must give it up.

In recent weeks the fear of ISA has been easing among ordinary people, and many of them have been boldly gathering to oppose the ISA.

The opposition, who were frequent victims of the ISA, have always protested detention without trial.

But now ordinary people, cabinet ministers, the Catholic church and ulama from PAS and Hindu priests have all linked up to oppose the ISA seeing it as an evil in a democratic society.

There is a definite groundswell against the ISA with more people by the day who had previously supported the law as a necessary evil now seeing it as a shame and a blot in a maturing democracy.

Across the country people are lighting up candles, holding vigils and organising anti-ISA forums and urging the authorities to free all ISA detainees including detainees held, without charge or trial, in an ambiguous manner under various Emergency Ordinances that have been passed in the country since the May 13 1969 incident.

The people by and large are now saying they want the ISA repealed altogether, not amended, reviewed or re canned into a different name or shape.

While ministers and other community leaders are divided over the next step with the ISA - repeal or revise - increasingly more Malaysians want a straightforward end to this draconian law seeing it as a unnecessary evil.

"No democracy can tolerate a law like the ISA…it is a shame on a country, its people and society at large," said Raymond Tan, an accountant who attended a packed "abolish ISA" forum at the Chinese Assembly hall here on Wednesday.

Under the ISA police can arrest a person on suspicion, file "charges" that never come up before a judge or a court, interrogate a person for 60 days in isolation and in severe breach of all norms of civilised behaviour.

Usually the person is "soften-up and turned" through mental torture and other techniques.

By the time the 60 days are up the "target" is ready to confess to his or her "mistakes or crimes."

Previously the public had supported the ISA as a "necessary evil" to curb racial or religious riots and to put away terrorists and religious fanatics to save society from turmoil.

But now the "necessary evil" position is giving way to a strong public demand for repeal of the ISA altogether.

The large number of people, mostly comfortable middle class parents, some with their children in tow, at the Anti-ISA forums and candle light vigils across the country, is an indication that middle Malaysia is now strongly against the ISA.

You just have to look at the luxury cars they parked by the roadside and the laptops they carried when attending the forums to see that these are not the type of citizens you can easily satisfy with the "necessary evil" argument.

The government's current position that the ISA stays as it is, is increasingly untenable in the face of strong public opposition sparked by the arrest of Sin Chew Daily journalist Ms Tan Hoon Cheng, DAP MP Teresa Kok and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin.

The arrest has touched a raw nerve especially with Home minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar passing the buck to the police and later giving incredulous excuses for the arrest and subsequent release of the journalist and the opposition lawmaker.

In the case of Raja Petra the use of the ISA is unacceptable because he is already charged with sedition and defamation and the cases are before the courts.

"He should be heard in court and only a judge can convict him if at all he is guilty," said Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam in an interview with The Malaysian Insider.

"It is very disturbing that the ISA is being increasingly used against those who freely and sincerely express honest and transparent views," he said.

"The easy and unnecessary use of the ISA is a major setback for the maturing democracy in Malaysia," he said.

"These repressive laws are archaic and outdated and not relevant anymore in a progressive and lively democracy," he said calling for the immediate release of Raja Petra and all ISA detainees and the repeal of the law in words that echo public sentiments.

Khairy also claims sabotage

KOTA BAHARU, Sept 25 - Umno Youth vice-chief Khairy Jamaluddin has claimed being sabotaged by certain quarters who prevented party members from meeting him.

The Rembau member of parliament who has offered to contest the movement's top post, said he had proof that in some places, party members were told not to attend the functions where he was also present.

"They are trying to prevent members from getting to know their leader better. To me, all party members have the right to know their leaders. So, there should be no hindrance for members to meet me," he said after the breaking of fast and handing over of contributions from tithe collection to orphans and senior citizens at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Ketereh, here today.

He was commenting on the call by Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who has also offered himself for the Umno Youth top post, for actions to prevent members from meeting their leaders or candidates in the party elections, to stop immediately as it was against the party's democratic practice.

Besides Mukhriz and Khairy, the others who have offered themselves for the post are Perlis Umno liaison deputy chairman Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin, party Supreme Council member and former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo, and Energy, Water and Telecommunications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor.

Khairy said such obstacles were unnecessary as what was more important was the party as an entity and not the individuals contesting. "The individuals may change but Umno Youth remains," he added.

On that note, he reminded all party members to choose a leader who could lead Umno Youth to be an inspiration to young people and hence strengthen Umno Youth in the hearts and minds of the people. Bernama

Early transition date?



KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — Will the special Umno supreme council (MT) meeting tomorrow decide to set an early power transition date between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak or discuss more effective ways to strengthen the party?

The former was the question uppermost among politicians and political observers soon after it was made public that Umno would convene an MT meeting at 10am tomorrow at the party's headquarters here.

Over the last two days, the political rumour mill has been going on overdrive, with speculation that the nation's top two leaders were involved in "re-brokering" the transition date originally set for June 2010, which some say had caused dissatisfaction among Umno members aligned to some leaders.

The two leaders had earlier agreed that Abdullah would transfer power to Najib by June 2010, but this was seen by some segments in Umno as being too long, especially with the largest political party in the country holding its party polls in December this year.

The first signs of dissent was evident after Abdullah on Sept 17 made a public announcement that he did not rule out an early handover of power and was swapping his Finance Minister portfolio with Najib's defence portfolio.

Political observers interpreted this move that the handover of power would come sooner than 2010, with some predicting that it could even come as soon as December, this year.

Speculation picked up steam yesterday evening after the Deputy Prime Minister's office in a statement said that Najib had cancelled his trip to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly from today till Oct 1.

This was followed by a series of "secret" meetings between the two leaders and their supporters, and speculation was rife that an agreement on the transition was reached late last night after both parties agreed on a deadline for the power transfer.

Midnight yesterday, calls and short-message-system (sms) were aplenty predicting that an early transition date had been set and that it could be a year earlier than the 2010 original date.

This speculation was further strengthened when news leaked that Abdullah and Najib were huddled in a meeting at the Prime Minister Office in Putrajaya this morning, which was neither denied nor confirned by Najib when met by newsmen later in the day and was only willing to say, "I always meet the Prime Minister".

There is also speculation that the December polls would be postponed to June 2009 to ensure a smooth transfer of power and minimise internal politicking.

"We are expecting something positive to come out tomorrow at the meeting," a party insider said.

"It would be a win-win situation between those calling for an immediate hand over and those wanting to stick to the original date (June 2010)," he added.

He also pointed out that the two top leaders did not want to announce the decision before obtaining the endorsement of the all powerful MT, the party's highest decision making body.

"They do not want to repeat the mistake...the last time they reached a deal, there were grouses that it should have been the MT and members that decided the handover date and not the two men. They can only propose but the MT must endorse and members must accept it ," a party source said.

This latest speculated proposal, if accepted by the MT, would help avoid a bitter power struggle in the party, which Umno, the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional, can ill afford especially after the coalition was battered in the March 8 general election.

Another indication that something "big" is on the cards was Najib refusal to answer any political questions at a press conference at the Finance Ministry this afternoon.

He only confirmed that a special UMNO MT meeting would be held tomorrow at Menara Dato' Onn.

"Any political questions will only be answered tomorrow," he said in reply to a question on the speculation that the Umno polls would be postponed until next year.

Such was the sensitivity of the issue at hand that top Umno leaders politely refused to divulge details of the latest party transition plans.

While the nation waits in anticipation over the next 24-hours, it can be assured that the top two leaders would do what is right for the country and its people. — Bernam

Anwar works behind the scenes … and waits

Let’s see what happens tomorrow at the emergency supreme council meeting. Umno seems to be facing a leadership crisis. The sand in the hourglass is emptying rapidly for Abdullah.

And all the while, Anwar is waiting and working behind the scenes. . Having missed two self-imposed deadlines, he appears to be adopting a different approach: keeping a lower profile, while waiting to spring a surprise. Here’s something I wrote today for Asia Times:

Anwar plays a waiting game in Malaysia
By Anil Netto

PENANG - Malaysia's political opposition insists its plan to topple Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's government is still on track, as doubts emerge about the credibility of those claims after it missed two self-set deadlines for ushering in political change.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had set September 16, Malaysia's national day, as the deadline for his People's Alliance coalition to take over the federal government through parliamentary defections to his camp. When that deadline passed, with Anwar claiming he had the required number of parliamentary defections secured, he set a new September 23 deadline for Abdullah to call an emergency sitting of parliament to hold a no-confidence motion he claimed would bring down the government.

Abdullah has ridiculed those calls and refused Anwar's request to meet so that the latter can show him a purported list of parliamentarians who have committed to leave the coalition government and join forces with the opposition. Anwar has repeatedly told the press that his alliance has the minimum 31 defections he needs to secure a simple majority in parliament, though he has declined to reveal the names of the turncoat parliamentarians. The only snag, from his perspective, is that Abdullah will delay reconvening the legislature to debate a no-confidence motion on his rule.


The political uncertainty is starting to take a toll on the economy and investor confidence. Foreign direct investment flows had already turned negative for 2007 for the first time in the country's 50-year history, according to the 2008 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report, released this week. Inflation hit a 27-year high of 8.5% in August, adding fuel to the population's discontent with the United Malays Nasional Organization (UMNO)-led government.

Abdullah has repeatedly accused Anwar of causing instability and undermining the economy. Anwar has countered that the economic problems stem from Abdullah's failure to introduce meaningful economic reforms.

Anwar now needs to tread a delicate constitutional line if he wants to avoid giving an already jittery ruling coalition a pretext for striking back through a more forceful crackdown. This month, an opposition politician, a journalist and an anti-government blogger were all detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

The opposition leader is now believed to have two political options: seek an audience with the Agong, Malaysia's paramount constitutional monarch, or wait for parliament to reconvene as scheduled from its recess on October 13. Finding that his path to power is strewn with obstacles, Anwar has not committed to any new deadlines for a change in government. The state-influenced mainstream media have ridiculed the passing of his previous deadlines and some feel those missed marks have damaged his credibility.

Others more sympathetic to the opposition charge point out that it will not be easy to dislodge the UMNO-led coalition, which has held power for 51 years, during which time it has blurred the lines between party and government. Anwar's proponents say that September 16 heralded the beginning of a political transition that eventually will lead to UMNO's demise.

Intra-party turmoil
Two crucial dates now loom: October 9, when regional divisions of UMNO begin to nominate candidates for top party posts that will be up for grabs during the party's December internal elections, and October 13, when parliament is scheduled to reconvene. Under siege within his own party after the ruling coalition suffered a major setback at March general elections and now held responsible for a listless economy, Abdullah finds himself in an increasingly tight political spot.

He recently hammered out a transition plan to hand over power to his deputy, Najib Abdul Razak, by 2010. He has since indicated he could leave earlier, and in an apparent move to appease his deputy he swapped portfolios with him, handing finance to Najib while Abdullah took over defense. Whether the ambitious Najib, who has been dogged by allegations linking him to the murder of a Mongolian woman, which he has denied, will be content with the minor reshuffle is still unclear.

Despite the transition plan, there appears to be a groundswell of sentiment within UMNO that would prefer Abdullah to leave much sooner than he would prefer. The party has called an emergency supreme council meeting for Friday, sparking fresh speculation that change could be in the offing. This sentiment is also coming from some of the reactionary forces within UMNO, which are believed to be inspired by former premier and party leader Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahathir formally quit the party in May, but he is now said to be contemplating a return. He was reported to be backing former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's bid for the UMNO presidency, which will be decided in December. Mahathir's son, Mukhriz Mahathir, is also reported to be eyeing the leadership of UMNO's powerful youth wing. He will likely run up against Abdullah's ambitious son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, and former Selangor state chief minister Mohamad Khir Toyo for that post.

The political transition could speed up if Abdullah fails to secure enough nominations for the UMNO presidency from the party's various divisions, whose elections are due to run from October to November. To receive the nomination, he needs to secure the nod from at least 30%, or 58 divisions, of UMNO's 191 party divisions across the country. With his mounting political troubles, not everyone is convinced he can pull it off.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the political uncertainty, the arrests and detention without trial of a senior Selangor state government official from the People's Alliance, a Chinese newspaper journalist, the editor of a popular Internet news portal and a blogger have sent a chill down the spines of many Malaysians.

Three of them have been released, but Malaysia Today website editor Raja Petra Kamarudin was sent this week to the Kamunting detention camp, where he will serve two years under the renewable order of Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar. The government's use of the ISA against perceived political opponents has sparked outrage among many Malaysians and rare protests among ruling coalition politicians, one of whom quit his position as law minister over the arrests.

Raja Petra, whose website commands a huge following, is seen as something of a folk hero in Malaysia for his frequent exposes of official corruption and abuse of power. Some of his readers believe he was detained to give UMNO leaders a break from his widely read criticisms in the run-up to their party polls - though the official reason given was that his articles insulted Islam and were a threat to national security.

Malaysians have signed online petitions, mailed greeting cards to detainees, participated in candlelight vigils in public places and flocked to prayer services in several places of worship. The arrests have arguably swung public opinion further against the ruling coalition and Abdullah's fast-waning moral authority. Whether Anwar's alliance can capitalize on that sentiment and establish a new reformist government could be determined by UMNO's and Abdullah's next moves.

Anil Netto is a Penang-based writer.


Tukar k'jaan: Hanya Anwar boleh buat kenyataan


Jimadie Shah Othman | Sep 25, 08 (malaysiakini.com)
Atas alasan strategi, mesyuarat khas Majlis Pimpinan Tertinggi (MPT) PKR malam tadi memutuskan bahawa hanya penasihatnya Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yang boleh membuat kenyataan mengenai usaha pembentukan kerajaan baru.

anwar ibrahim 02 060207Selain beliau, hanya individu yang mendapat kebenaran parti dan Anwar yang dibenar mengeluarkan kenyataan mengenainya, demikian menurut sumber-sumber yang hadir dalam pertemuan tersebut.

"Sebarang kenyataan hanya akan mengganggu proses (tersebut).

"Sepatutnya sebelum dibuat, hendaklah berbincang dengan Anwar, hanya beliau yang tahu apa ceritanya,” kata sumber-sumber itu ketika ditanya mengenai mesyuarat tergempar itu yang berlangsung di ibu pejabat PKR di Petaling Jaya.

Selain anggota-anggota MPT, beberapa ahli parlimen dan ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) PKR, turut dijemput menghadirinya.

tian chua 03Dalam mesyuarat itu juga, ketua penerangannya Tian Chua turut ditegur oleh Anwar kerana memberikan kenyatakaan kepada media tanpa merujuk kepimpinan parti terlebih dahulu.

Kelmarin, Tian Chua dilaporkan berkata, Pakatan Rakyat telah mula berunding dengan kerajaan berhubung penggantian kerajaan BN.

Tian juga dilaporkan berkata bahawa hubungan awal itu dibuat melalui "orang tengah" gabungan pembangkang dengan orang tengah perdana menteri.

Bagaimanapun, ia dinafikan oleh Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pada hari yang sama dan menyifatkannya sebagai "laporan yang paling gila" pernah didengarnya.

Anwar juga menafikan wujud rundingan seumpama itu.

Malaysiakini difahamkan pertemuan yang dimaksudkan Tian, juga ahli parlimen Batu, itu "memang wujud" tetapi tidak wajar didedahkan kepada umum.

Selain Tian, ahli jawatankuasa pusat PAS Mujahid Yusuf Rawa juga mengeluarkan kenyataan yang menambahkan kekeliruan berhubung projek pembangkang menumbangkan kerajaan BN.

Beliau menyatakan surat rasmi telah diutuskan kepada Istana Negara untuk membolehkan pemimpin-pemimpin Pakatan menghadap Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Bagaimanapun sekretariat Pakatan kelmarin menafikan surat itu telah dikirimkan kepada istana.

Menurut sumber-sumber lagi, senarai penuh ahli parlimen BN yang akan melompat kepada Pakatan juga tidak dibentangkan.

Bagaimanapun Anwar menunjukkan dokumen persetujuan bersama ketiga-tiga parti Pakatan Rakyat berhubung jaminan kebebasan beragama dan Islam.

Mesyuarat semalam mensasarkan pembentukan kerajaan baru dapat dibuat selepas hari raya Aidilfitri ini yang akan jatuh minggu depan, tambah sumber.

Mesyuarat juga menyarankan supaya diperbanyakkan program penerangan untuk menjelaskan kepada rakyat mengenai peralihan kuasa secara aman.

Anwar, yang juga ketua pembangkang di Dewan Rakyat, gagal menunaikan hasratnya untuk membentuk kerajaan baru pada 16 September seperti diuar-uarkannya sejak April dan gagal memanggil sidang tergempar Parlimen untuk tujuan mengusulkan undi tidak percaya terhadap Abdullah.
Mesyuarat tergempar MT esok
Sep 25, 08 2:59pm

kemaskini 8:39pm Mesyuarat tergempar Majlis Tertinggi (MT) Umno akan diadakan jam 10 pagi esok, dipercayai untuk membincangkan penangguhan pemilihan parti, yang dijadual Disember ini, ke tahun depan.

Ketua penerangan Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib mengesahkan pertemuan tersebut kepada Malaysiakini hari ini.

Beliau bagaimanapun mendakwa tidak mengetahui agenda yang akan dibincangkan.

Mesyuarat di bangunan parti itu di Pusat Dagangan Dunia Putra (PWTC) itu juga dijangka membahaskan saranan untuk menyegerakan peralihan kuasa Presiden Umno Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi kepada timbalannya setahun lebih awal.

najib abdullah umno 100408Pada asalnya, Abdullah dan Datuk Seri Najib Razak merancang pelan peralihan kuasa itu akan berlangsung pada pertengahan 2010.

Walaupun enggan mengulas sama ada perkara ini menjadi satu agenda pertemuan esok, seorang lagi anggota MT Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz memberitahu Malaysiakini, Umno kini terbelah dua kepada dua kem.

Satu pihak bersetuju dengan pelan tersebut, sementara satu lagi ingin menyegerakannya.

Beberapa anggota MT, termasuk tiga pemimpin kanan Umno, bersuara dalam pertemuan bulanan majlis itu Khamis minggu lepas agar tarikh peralihan kuasa Abdullah-Najib dipercepatkan.

Ahli-ahli MT Umno dihubungi pagi ini untuk menghadiri mesyuarat mengejut itu selepas pertemuan dua tokoh tertinggi negara hari ini.

Bercakap kepada pemberita di Kementerian Kewangan petang ini, Najib juga mengesahkan mesyuarat MT akan diadakan esok tetapi enggan menjawab sebarang soalan mengenai perkembangan politik.

"Soalan mengenai politik hanya akan dijawab esok," katanya, apabila ditanya menyegerakan peralihan kuasa dan penangguhan pemilihan agung Umno seperti desas-desus.

Najib semalam membatalkan secara mengejut lawatan kerjanya ke Amerika Syarikat, yang sepatutnya bermula hari ini, untuk menghadiri sidang ke-63 perhimpunan agung Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu.

Beliau digantikan oleh Menteri Luar Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim sebagai ketua delegasi Malaysia untuk menyampaikan ucapannya di PBB, New York, Ahad ini.

(from Malaysiakini.com)

Razaleigh: Use of ISA has affected govt's credibility

KUALA LUMPUR: Another Umno stalwart has criticised the recent use of the Internal Security Act, saying it had eroded the government's credibility.

Gua Musang member of parliament and Umno presidential aspirant Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said the detention under the ISA of a blogger, newspaper reporter and an opposition MP had heightened rather than calmed racial fears.

"In the present context of a leadership struggle within Umno and a strong opposition, it is impossible to dispel the notion that these measures are calculated to keep certain individuals in power.

"Nothing does more to undermine the legitimacy of a government than plainly unjust acts," Tengku Razaleigh said in a statement here.

His criticism follows that of former de-facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who resigned from his cabinet post last week in protest against the ISA arrests.

Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin was on Tuesday sent to the Kamunting detention centre in Perak where he will begin his internment of up to two years under Section 8 of the ISA.

Selangor senior executive councillor Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng have been released.

The arrests were also criticised by other Barisan Nasional component party leaders from the MCA and Gerakan.

In his statement, Tengku Razaleigh painted a bleak picture of the nation's current political and economic situation.

He said the political and economic crisis could cascade into long-term instability for the country.

"I appeal to all parties to come together to hold an honest discussion about what is happening to our country.

"We need to come together to find unity and direction out of this dangerous situation."

- nst

Murugiah to Syed Hamid: It IS my business

KLANG: Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department T. Murugiah has hit back at Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar for asking him not to “interfere” in his ministry.

Murugiah said he was surprised to hear such comments from a senior minister because he was merely doing his duty -- attending to complaints and solving problems.

“His statement asking me not to interfere in other people’s affairs is asking me and 270 staff in the Public Complaints Bureau to close shop.

“The bureau has received an average of 180 complaints about each ministry from January to August, and how can I do my job if I can’t ‘interfere’ in another ministry?” he said.

“The Public Complaints Bureau is above all ministries when it comes to handling complaints,” he said after visiting SJK (T) Batu Ampat in Jalan Kota Raja here on Thursday.

Syed Hamid was reported as saying that it was inappropriate for Murugiah to interfere in the affairs of another ministry.

He also said that Murugiah’s action in speaking on behalf of Seputeh MP Teresa Kok on complaints she was not served proper meals while in detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) was akin to being a “spokesman for the Opposition.”

Murugiah added that Syed Hamid should talk to him directly instead of making comments publicly.

“I’m trying to do something good for the general public, treating everyone fairly regardless whether the complaints are from the Government, the Opposition or members of the public.

“As a junior minister, I will always accept with a open heart if he (Syed Hamid) would like to guide me or show me the best way to do my job,” he said.

This is the second time Syed Hamid has hit out at his Barisan Nasional colleagues for “interfering” with his ministry.

Earlier this month, he slammed Barisan leaders for criticising his decision to detain three civilians -- including Kok -- under the ISA.

- The Star

Malaysia leader's power transfer plan in jeopardy

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysia's government sought to allay fears Thursday that growing demands for the prime minister's resignation could spark rifts in the ruling party and enable its opposition foes to seize power.

Speculation about political strife increased after Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak canceled a trip to the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York just hours before his scheduled departure Wednesday.

Najib said government duties kept him from leaving, but independent news portals reported that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib were discussing when Abdullah should hand power to his deputy.

Abdullah has said he will defend his position as chief of the ruling United Malays National Malay Organization in December elections and that he wants to remain in office until mid-2010 _ though he has said he could retire earlier. Every prime minister since independence in 1957 has been the UMNO leader.

International Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said he hoped "something very positive" would soon come from talks between Abdullah and Najib.

"There is no power struggle," Muhyiddin told reporters. "We would leave it to the two leaders to work out what would be the best arrangements, not only for themselves but more importantly for the country."

Some party officials have reportedly suggested a compromise by delaying the party elections until mid-2009 when Najib could take over.

Ruling party representatives in 191 districts are next month expected to nominate their preferred leaders to stand in the December elections. Abdullah's supporters fear other prominent party members, including Najib, could present a serious challenge to his leadership.

Abdullah's support has slumped since he led the National Front governing coalition to its worst electoral results ever in March national polls, when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's alliance captured one-third of Parliament and took control of five of Malaysia's 13 states. A general election is not due until 2013.

Anwar's People's Alliance now has 82 seats in the 222-member Parliament compared to the National Front's 138. Anwar claims he has pledges of loyalty from enough government lawmakers to topple the coalition that has led Malaysia for more than 50 years.

Raja Petra to undergo religious rehabilitation

PUTRAJAYA: Internal Security Act detainee Raja Petra Kamaruddin will have to undergo religious rehabilitation at the Kamunting Detention Centre.

Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz says Jakim is working with the police on the programme
Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz says Jakim is working with the police on the programme

Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director-general Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz said the programme was aimed at enabling the faster release of Muslim detainees.

He said Jakim was working closely with the police in carrying out the programme.

"We look forward to the speedier release of detainees after undergoing religious rehabilitation."

Raja Petra, the Malaysia Today editor, was detained under Section 8 (1) of the ISA on Tuesday for writing articles that were considered to have maligned Islam and were malicious and seditious.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar had said after the blogger's detention that his articles may have aroused anger among Muslims.

Speaking after the department's monthly gathering, Wan Mohamad Sheikh said cooperation with the police would be intensified to make the programme more effective.

On the warning by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department to anyone protesting over the use of loudspeakers for the azan (call for prayer) at mosques, Wan Mohamad Sheikh said people should remember the position of Islam in the Federal Constitution as the country's official religion.

"Whatever actions they want to take must be in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. Together with the relevant authorities such as the Home Ministry, we can take action against those who delve into the sensitivity of Muslims based on the laws.

"If this issue arose due to a misunderstanding, then we should adopt a harmonious approach in addressing it."

Selangor Islamic Religious Department director Datuk Mohammed Khusrin Munawi was reported to have directed nazir (mosque official) and mosque committees in Selangor to continue with the practice of using loudspeakers.

- nst

GUAN ENG: Only Anwar knows who's on crossover list

PETALING JAYA: Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has held the list of Barisan Nasional MPs allegedly "crossing over" to the Pakatan Rakyat so close to his chest that even the DAP has not been privy to it.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser had also not revealed the list to Pas leaders.

"I have not seen the list and in my meeting with Anwar on Tuesday night, he told me that he has not shown the list to any Pakatan Rakyat leaders," he told a press conference at party headquarters yesterday.

Lim said the DAP still trusted Anwar despite the failure to reveal the list. According to him, Anwar had said that PR leaders would be shown the list at the right time.

Lim also suggested that Anwar be the '916' spokesman making him the only person allowed to make statements and comments on the progress of the "crossover".

(916 stands for Sept 16, Anwar's original crossover deadline. The figure has since been adopted by the Chinese press as a term for Anwar's plans of taking over the federal government via defections from the Barisan Nasional.)

"I think it is better to let Anwar do all the talking. There should not be too many people talking about this issue. Otherwise it will create confusion, undermining the credibility of Anwar," he added.

Lim said he had informed Anwar of the suggestion that he be made the official 916 spokesman.

On Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said's plan to spend RM18 million on a Web TV project, he described it as a waste of government funds.

Lim also introduced new staff to the press -- Teh Chi-Chang, former Citigroup Investment Research director, who will be Lim's new economic adviser and Leong Joo Ti, his strategic implementation and execution manager.

- ns

Malaysia: Changing the Climate of Fear

The extension of Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s period of detention to two years is another example of the nefarious uses of Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, says Daniel Chandranayagam. But the reaction of ordinary citizens shows the tide may be turning in favour of free expression

By 11pm on 12 September, the streets of Kuala Lumpur were quieter than the usual Friday night. Just after noon that day, blogger and webmaster of news portal, Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK), had been detained without trial under the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA). But many were not surprised. RPK himself told the BBC that he was expecting such an arrest just days before his detention.

Things got more sinister at around 8 in the evening, when Sin Chew journalist Tan Hoon Cheng was also apprehended under the ISA. By the time the last detainee, opposition MP Teresa Kok, was arrested at around 11pm, it was the kind of Friday night Malaysia had not experienced in many years. You could almost hear a pin drop.

Stifling freedom of expression through fear is not an uncommon occurrence in Malaysian history. The arrests of these three dissidents are almost parallel with Dr Mahathir’s Operasi Lalang in 1987, during which 49 dissidents were held without trial under the ISA. And like Operasi Lalang in the 1980s, three newspapers — Sin Chew Daily, the Sun and Suara Keadilan — were recently given show-cause letters (a legal injunction forcing a publication to explain why its licence shouldn’t be revoked) on recent political and social commentaries and opinions published.

In fact, there is a perceived ‘climate of fear’ in Malaysia. While many of the mainstream press is either owned, controlled or has affiliations to the ruling party and the economic elite, the government still constantly reminds the press to report ‘responsibly’ and to even practise self-censorship. Dissenting voices, mostly online, also are habitually reminded to ‘behave or else’. Alternatively, bloggers and online dissidents are discredited as ‘snipers’ or rumour-mongerers. On occasion, legal means or threats by ‘unknown persons’ [see Blogging and Democratization in Malaysia (2008 Strategic Information and Research Development Centre) Tan, Jun-E and Ibrahim, Zawawi] have been used to mute online dissidents.

The three recent detainees were considered champions by many. RPK was arrested because the authorities claim he had published articles on his news portal which tarnished the leadership of the country and insulted the sanctity of Islam. RPK’s troubles do not end there; he also is facing sedition charges as well as defamation law suits.

Tan’s arrest was believed to be in relation to her report on racist remarks made by a member of parliament from the ruling coalition, Ahmad Ismail. This appeared the most feasible reason, especially since Sin Chew Daily, in which Tan’s report was published, was given a show-cause letter by the Home Ministry, asking the publication why the government should not revoke its licence for having reported the racial slur.

Finally, Kok was detained as she had allegedly petitioned mosques to turn down the volume for their calls to prayer. In response, Kok had denied this accusation, with the religious leaders from the mosques confirming that she had done no such thing. This notwithstanding, she was still apprehended. Kok was released six days after her arrest.

Although fear and Malaysians are no strangers, they have been somewhat estranged in the last few years. Many Malaysians hope for a country with new leadership soon, leadership that will be more accountable and transparent. This hope culminated in Anwar Ibrahim’s by-election win in Permatang Pauh in August.

During this by-election, Ahmad Ismail, a Malaysian politician from the ruling coalition, was reported to have made a racial slur. The newspaper which had initially reported his racist remark, Sin Chew Daily, was given a show-cause letter by the Home Ministry, asking the newspaper why the government should not revoke its license for having published the racial slur. The aftermath of Ahmad’s racist comments, including his defiance, was fanned by some of the mainstream press and the ruling coalition. This brought to some minds the incident of 13 May 1969, Malaysia’s infamous race riots, which witnessed the loss of many lives.

Surprisingly, this time around, Malaysians did not take too kindly to the attempt of instilling fear. By Saturday afternoon, press and bloggers began to voice their outrage. Vigils for the three detainees were arranged. Many civil society groups, opposition leaders and even some politicians within the ruling coalition protested the use of the ISA, and had called for the abolition for the laws on detention without trial.

By noon the following day, Tan was released, just 18 hours after her detention. Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, was reported to have said that Tan was detained under the ISA for her own good, since she had purportedly received threatening phone calls. This statement caused more public outrage than anything else.

Despite efforts to keep people in a state of fear, for example by telling them that they should not question the government’s decision on detaining the three, mounting pressure to release the detainees continued. De facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim resigned from his position as a principled stand on the use of the ISA on civilians.

On 19 September, opposition MP, Teresa Kok was freed, after the authorities determined that she wasn’t a threat to national security. Her release was a surprise to everyone, considering that the authorities had issued a statement that she would be in detention for 28 days.

Unfortunately, the fate of RPK is less encouraging. On 23 September, the Home Minister had signed a detention order of two years for RPK, stating that the police found strong grounds for a detention of two years. However, the Home Minister had stated that there would be reviews after three months and six months. The civil society group Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) stated that this move was designed to frustrate RPK’s bid for freedom. GMI chairman, Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, was reported to have said, ‘We believe the invoking of section 8 of the ISA for a two-year detention period subsequent to eight days of detention [from a maximum of 60 days under Section 73(1)] is to bypass the habeas corpus hearing of Raja Petra scheduled today.’

This appears to be analogous with a blog post RPK managed to put up while in detention, where he wrote, ‘… I am already facing one sedition charge for the article, “Let’s send the Altanthuya murderers to hell”, plus three charges of criminal defamation… Assuming I win my cases in October and November, they can still hold me under the ISA. Either way I will still remain under detention; heads they win, tails I lose.’

Even so, the spirit of defiance, and sometimes even ridicule, on the recent stifling of these dissenting voices, appear to be predominant among Malaysian urbanites. Perhaps backed by the hope of a new government, or perhaps because they know that there is international pressure not to use the ISA for the peaceful expression of political views, perhaps because even Tun Dr Mahathir, the prime minister under whom the Operasi Lalang was conducted, has spoken up against the ISA detentions, it appears that the 21st century is blowing away the climate of fear which pervaded Malaysia.

Published in http://www.indexoncensorship.org/
Daniel Chandranayagam blogs at http://puttotask.wordpress.com/

S'gor PR government under fire over temple demolition

;">KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 - The Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor has come under fire from the MIC over the demolition of a Hindu temple in Ampang earlier this month.
MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council's action was against the Opposition pact's promise prior to the March 8 general election not to demolish temples.

The local council should have given sufficient notice and a land for the relocation of the temple before even considering to demolish the temple, he said in a statement today.

Samy Vellu was commenting on a newspaper report today on the demolition of the Sri Maha Kaliamman Temple on Sept 9, at Kampung Tasik, Jalan Baru in Ampang.

The demolition of a temple in Padang Jawa (Selangor) -- just before the 2008 general election in March 8 -- had angered many Hindus, and this was one of the reasons the Indians voted against the Barisan Nasional.

When contacted by Bernama, Ampang Member of Parliament Zuraidah Kamarudin said the temple was not supposed to have been demolished and that there were certain procedures which had to be followed, prior to the demolition.

She said the council had demolished the temple without the state government's consent.

"The Pakatan Rakyat government is very particular about religious issues, including mosques or temples," she added.

She said the state government was in the midst of discussion with the local council on the issue and further action would be taken after a thorough investigation of the matter.

"We have met the temple management and the Hindu residents in the area and have explained the situation to them. They understand the situation and they agreed to be patient until investigations are completed," she added.

- Bernama

"MPAJ Demolished the Hindu Temple in Ampang, The Local Coucil & MP Had No Knowledge, Until It Was Too Late!"

The title of this post & all the info I am sharing here is from my short phone conversation with the Ampang MP, Puan Zuraida Kamaruddin. This is her blog & please expect a formal statement from her on Malaysiakini.

According to Zuraida, they only became aware of the temple being demolished as it was happening. As she was outstation, she sent her PKR members & Aduns to the scene. By the time they arrived, it was too late, as MPAJ had nearly demolished the whole temple.

Zuraida also claimed that she had settled the situation with the locals & temple committee members & promised to do her best & take action on those responsible. Zuraida also suspects agent provocateurs & possible hidden MIC supporters were involved and are behind this effort. No further complaints were brought up to the opposition there & she was surprised herself by the police report & Samy's statements (below).

If you ask me, something smells real fishy here. Very few people will trust Samy Vellu & MIC anyway. Let's wait & see what happens.

Here is the whole Malaysiakini article for your reference:

Samy slams temple demolition in Pakatan-controlled S'gor
Sep 25, 08 5:17pm

MIC president S Samy Vellu today condemned the action by a local council in Selangor to demolish a Hindu temple in Ampang early this month.

In a statement, he said this went against the opposition's promise during the last general election not to demolish any temples.

He said the Selangor state government, controlled by the opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat, should have ordered the local not to demolish the temple.

demolished temple in kampung tasek ampang 250908"It is very careless of the local council to demolish the temple without first relocating the temple," he added.

Samy Vellu was commenting on a newspaper report today that the demolition of the Sri Maha Kaliamman temple in Kampung Tasik, Jalan Baru in Ampang took place on Sept 9 this year.

The report stated that after being informed of the demolition of the temple yesterday, Selangor MIC Youth chief M Yogeswaran immediately lodged a report at the Ampang police station.


State gov't must explain

Samy Vellu said the local council should have consulted or sought permission from the temple management and secure an alternative land to relocate the temple.

"The demolition of the temple in Padang Jawa (Selangor) just before the 2008 general election in March 8 had angered many Hindus, and this was one of the reasons the Indian voters voted against the Barisan Nasional.

"But today, you see the same situation happening in a state government that is controlled by the opposition," he said.

The MIC president said Selangor local councilors and executive council (exco) members should concentrate on matters that were important, “rather then seeking cheap publicity by exposing what they claim as irregularities in the previous state government.”

Samy Vellu wanted the Selangor state government to explain to the people, especially the Hindus as to how they allowed the local council to demolish the temple.

"A full explanation must be given immediately and bring the culprits to justice," he added.

How to be happy

The idea of enacting a law that deals specifically with race relations in this country is a good one. It is evident that politics, tunnel vision and a lack of imagination have resulted in our society being a great deal more fractured than it should have been, all things considered.

Who would have thought in 1957 that fifty plus years down the line, there would still be a demand for supremacist rhetoric and the fruits of discrimination. But here we are; confused and frustrated, trapped in a labyrinth of our own making. So much so that we have lost sight of plain and obvious truths that could lead us into an age of miracles if rediscovered.

A long while ago, I was rummaging amongst a friend’s book collection and came across a little book by the current Dalai Lama entitled, I think, “How To Be Happy”. Wanting to be happy, I turned to the first line on the first page. If I remember correctly, it said something to this effect: in order to be happy, one had to be happy.

You can imagine how I was somewhat put out by this. If it were that simple, I mused somewhat cynically, we would all be a lot happier. There was surely more to it than that for how else was one to deal with the mysterious complexities of life, I grumbled. I put the book back where I had found it and moved on to a glossy magazine with great photographs.

In hindsight, I realized that I should have paid more attention to that drop in the ocean of wisdom.

Quite a few years later I suddenly realized that over time, life had compelled me to simplify how I dealt with it. It was either that or become victim to the stresses and turmoil that I seemed to have had a knack for subjecting myself to. More and more, I had learnt how to accept the obvious and to say ‘no’ when I needed to, distancing myself from distress, even as I found out how to accept what I did not understand with a more open heart. I saw then that though I had some way to go on my journey, I was relatively happy and that I had got there by, well, trying to be happy.

I tried to find that book again but it had moved on to illuminate someone else's life.

The most obvious truth about being a Malaysian is that all of us, regardless of our background and ethnicity, call this country home and share it with everyone else. We got together at independence because we all believed that we had a place here and that we could live together harmoniously and respectfully for all our benefit. That made us all fulfilled and each of us contributed to its, and each others’, growth.

Somewhere along the way however, we began to take that truth for granted and after a while it was left by the wayside, forgotten. In its place was a void that was soon filled by resentment with a deep, burning need for recognition and belonging that we sated with anything that offered immediate gratification. Race, religion, anything that gave us an identity, was soon being fed to that driving hunger. As with all gangs, those with stronger numbers and greater resource soon ruled the day and discrimination became a way of life.

It still is, and for being so interleaved with so many aspects of our life, is the single, biggest obstacle to our living together harmoniously. It is also the greatest cause of distress and for being that, is something that we must collectively distance ourselves from as we learn how to appreciate and embrace the self-evident truths of being Malaysian.

Discrimination has however become so entrenched that the way forward needs the careful guidance that only a structured policy can offer. A race-relations law, providing for the necessary structures such as a race-relations commission, is arguably the only effective way for such a policy to be introduced and implemented.

Worryingly though, those who have proposed such a law seem more focused on creating more strictures in an already hidebound existence rather than on creating a shared platform for sustainable and inclusive development. This is not the correct approach. We do not need more regulations on what we can or cannot say, we have too many already. What we need is a way to ensure that no Malaysian is sacrificed in whatever way to satisfy the need of another.

For that, a sustained effort must be made to fully eliminate any and all forms of discrimination in public life in this country. Where the race-relations law is concerned, the focus must be on racial discrimination. The law should aim at creating an environment in which the equality of all citizens can be promoted and fostered in the way that the Federal Constitution guarantees. The constitutional scheme aimed at protecting disadvantaged Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak through objectively applied affirmative action is not inconsistent with such a goal.

Can we be happy? I think so. It requires us to open our hearts and accept some truths. It needs a little creativity and a lot of trust.

I would like to think we are up to that challenge.

(Malay Mail; 23rd September 2009)

MIS

Msia locks up bloggers, Euro wants them banned

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Euro MPs are preparing to put to vote this week a proposal to regulate or even ban blogs which are dangerous, malicious and which contain hidden agenda. Those MPs would be encouraged, no doubt, by the way their counterparts in Malaysia are responding to Malaysian bloggers. Read story here at Telegraph.
Read also Lock up the bloggers by a blogger in New Zealand.

Just too much ado over race

Thursday, 25 September 2008 08:39am

 M. Veera Pandiyan©The Star
Along The Watchtower by M. Veera Pandiyan

Show seriousness in punishing racists instead of wasting time drawing up new laws to safeguard race relations.

WHAT’S the big fuss about race and ethnic origins? It’s all about how far back into your ancestry you want to go. If we trace our lineage back to 60,000 years, we are all Africans.

There is this fascinating National Geographic documentary on the genealogy of humankind on TV this month.

Just as I finished watching it last week, the news was on and among the highlights was the Government’s plan for a proposed new law to safeguard race relations in the country.

The Journey of Man, hosted by geneticist Dr Spencer Wells, shows that all humans descended from a group that walked out of Africa about 60,000 years ago (or perhaps another 40,000 years earlier, if the opinions of dissenting archaeologists are taken into consideration).

His study is based on DNA €“ the scientific historical link that we carry in our blood.

Tiny spelling mistakes in our DNA, in the form of changes in sequence which happened in the past, provides the linkage in genealogical ties.

Dr Wells has traced our common DNA to the Y-chromosome of this man, our veritable Adam, who lived in the eastern or southern part of Africa.

He suggests that our early ancestors could have looked like the San bush people of the Kalahari, whose facial features make up a composite model of people from all the world.

He posits that the first batch followed the southern coastline of Asia, somehow crossed about 250km of sea to Australia 50,000 years ago, leaving behind the current aborigines as their descendants.

Archaeologists, however, say the first wave of migration could have occurred about 100,000 years ago, based on fossil records.

Earlier this year, three studies that looked at human diversity through genetics, supported Dr Wells’ contention that humans left Africa, walked into Central Asia and fanned out east and west to populate the planet.

They also confirmed that the ancestry of many seemingly “purebred” ethnic groups were traceable to more than one continent.

What does all these tell us? We now know that scientifically, there is no such thing as a pure race.

Not a single characteristic, trait or gene distinguishes members of one “race” from members of another.

Genes influencing skin colour have nothing to with the genes influencing blood types, type of hair or shape of eyes.

As Dr Well explains, humans who first evolved in Africa had dark skin because they needed protection in the form of melanin, our natural sunscreen.

Those who moved into the northern hemisphere 40,000 years ago did not need such protection and lost some of their pigmentation to allow sunlight to synthesise Vita-min D needed to grow strong bones.

“Our differences are only skin deep. We are all African cousins separated by, at the most, some 2,000 generations,” he says.

But if race is a relatively recent concept, why does it invoke such fervour, even to the point of dying or killing for?

Deep down, it is just a powerful social and political means for groups of people to gain access or protect geographical territories and resources.

Throughout human history, the concept of race or the assumed superiority of one over another, have been used to justify territorial wars, hegemony, slavery, ethnic cleansing and other abominations.

Even in countries deemed to be progressive and democratic, racial practices such as segregation and apartheid were institutionalised norms not too long ago. They still exist today, although in more subtle forms.

How about us? Let’s not pretend that racial sentiments do not lurk as the underlying factor in most aspects of our lives.

From cradle to grave, Malaysians are constantly reminded of the race they belong to, resulting in a segment of the population feeling that they can never be regarded as equal citizens of a diverse and potentially dynamic nation.

This fanatical focus on race has since spawned more despicable forms of racism such as hate crimes against foreigners, the latest being the senseless murder of an African student from Chad last week.

As for politicians, publicly they spout about national unity, but in reality many remain unrepentant rogues when it comes to using race as an expedient tool.

Against such a backdrop, talking about a Race Relations Act akin to the law that Britain has, sounds like a bad joke.

It’s farcical to formulate a new law to fix racial discord when we choose not to see the root causes of our problems.

Over the years, we have heard endless racist talk from politicians who should know better, the latest being Bukit Bendara Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail’s infamous “squatter” remarks.

Just how many of them have been arrested, investigated charged in court? Or even counselled to change their ways, as in cases of recalcitrant religious deviants?

Instead of wasting more precious time drawing up new legislation, the Government should show immediate seriousness in punishing offenders using the array of existing laws.

It should also consciously help educate all Malaysians on the need for unity and eliminate practices and programmes that cause disunity among the people.

Perhaps the most urgent task at hand is a review of the National Civics Bureau (Biro Tata Negara), a training institution that is supposed to be conducting nation building programmes to instil loyalty and discipline among tertiary students and those on Public Service scholarships.

Shocking allegations of BTN’s “racist” indoctrination courses which seem to be in conflict with national unity, the principles of Rukun Negara and the aspirations of Bangsa Malaysia, have been circulating in cyberspace for several weeks now.

Strangely, there has been no clarification or denial yet from the Prime Minister’s Department, which BTN comes under, the Home Ministry nor the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry.

> Associate Editor M. Veera Pandiyan likes this quote by an unknown author: Racial superiority is a mere pigment of the imagination.

'Stateless' man drives north to see Sultan Azlan Shah

Thursday, 25 September 2008 08:35am

R. Ragu and his family will stay in their car while waiting to meet the sultan.©New Straits Times
by Jaspal Singh

IPOH: It was their maiden trip to the city, but instead of enjoying the sights and staying in a hotel, R. Ragu, his 27-year-old asthmatic wife and their three children spent the first night sleeping in their car at a petrol station in Simpang Pulai, near here.

This is because they are not on a family holiday.

Instead, they are on a mission to meet with the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah.

"I need to see Sultan Azlan Shah because I need him to help me obtain a permanent identification document," he said at the office of state executive councillor A. Sivanesan here yesterday.

Out of curiosity, reporters had earlier asked him why he was at Sivanesan's office with his wife and children.
"The Sultan is my last resort.

"I have been given the run around by the National Registration Department (NRD) and all I want is just to obtain a MyKad for myself."

Ragu had driven with his family from Segamat in Johor on Tuesday.

He claimed that Home Ministry staff had told him to obtain a letter from the Perak ruler to support his application for a MyKad.

He said his problem started when he was abandoned by his parents at the age of 4 in Parit Buntar.

The police found him by the roadside and handed him to the Social Welfare Department, where he was cared for until he was 16 years old.

"Ten years ago, the department helped me to get a birth certificate in which 'Rajamani' was stated as my father's name and Bagan Serai, Perak, was listed as my place of birth," he said, adding that he did not know the real name of his parents or where he was actually born.

With the birth certificate, he was able to obtain a temporary identification document which had to be renewed every year.

However, in 2004, the National Registration Department declined to renew his temporary document.

After visiting the NRD headquarters in Putrajaya many times in the last four years, he received a letter from the Home Ministry in July which stated that his temporary identification document could not be renewed due to the government's instruction.

"The Home Ministry staff in Putrajaya told me to obtain a letter from the Sultan of Perak to support my application for a permanent MyKad because according to my birth certificate, I was born in Perak.

"I have sought the help of many senior politicians but no one could help me. I will wait for the Sultan."

Ragu said he had been unable to get a permanent job because of his "stateless" status.

His wife, G. Neelaawathi, is unable to work because of asthma and kidney problems.

Asked where he planned to stay until he could see Sultan Azlan Shah, he said he and his family would sleep in their car and shower at petrol stations.

"My family and I have put up with a lot of difficulties over the years... what is a few more days of hardship?"

Sivanesan, who met Ragu and his family yesterday evening, said that he would take Ragu to the Perak NRD to help him apply for a MyKad.

ISA no longer a 'necessary evil'

By Baradan Kuppusamy

(Malaysiainsider)In the old days the aristocracy the world over could pass by your hut, size up your wife or daughter or your harvest and take one or all.

There were laws in traditional society but the king was above the law and there was nothing you could do.

Today's rulers use the ISA for the same purpose and in the same manner - to silence critics, curb dissent, decimate the political opposition and above all stay in power.

Leaving rebel minded former de facto lawyer minister Zaid Ibrahim aside, even a establishment man like Tengku Razaliegh Hamzah, a prince, opposes the use of the ISA against legitimate dissent.

The ISA is a primitive and powerful weapon of statecraft to strike fear into the hearts of critics, political opponent and ordinary people.

But it is a tool of the past and any democracy worth its salt must give it up.

In recent weeks the fear of ISA has been easing among ordinary people, and many of them have been boldly gathering to oppose the ISA.

The opposition, who were frequent victims of the ISA, have always protested detention without trial.

But now ordinary people, cabinet ministers, the Catholic church and ulama from PAS and Hindu priests have all linked up to oppose the ISA seeing it as an evil in a democratic society.

There is a definite groundswell against the ISA with more people by the day who had previously supported the law as a necessary evil now seeing it as a shame and a blot in a maturing democracy.

Across the country people are lighting up candles, holding vigils and organising anti-ISA forums and urging the authorities to free all ISA detainees including detainees held, without charge or trial, in an ambiguous manner under various Emergency Ordinances that have been passed in the country since the May 13 1969 incident.

The people by and large are now saying they want the ISA repealed altogether, not amended, reviewed or re canned into a different name or shape.

While ministers and other community leaders are divided over the next step with the ISA - repeal or revise - increasingly more Malaysians want a straightforward end to this draconian law seeing it as a unnecessary evil.

"No democracy can tolerate a law like the ISA…it is a shame on a country, its people and society at large," said Raymond Tan, an accountant who attended a packed "abolish ISA" forum at the Chinese Assembly hall here on Wednesday.

Under the ISA police can arrest a person on suspicion, file "charges" that never come up before a judge or a court, interrogate a person for 60 days in isolation and in severe breach of all norms of civilised behaviour.

Usually the person is "soften-up and turned" through mental torture and other techniques.

By the time the 60 days are up the "target" is ready to confess to his or her "mistakes or crimes."

Previously the public had supported the ISA as a "necessary evil" to curb racial or religious riots and to put away terrorists and religious fanatics to save society from turmoil.

But now the "necessary evil" position is giving way to a strong public demand for repeal of the ISA altogether.

The large number of people, mostly comfortable middle class parents, some with their children in tow, at the Anti-ISA forums and candle light vigils across the country, is an indication that middle Malaysia is now strongly against the ISA.

You just have to look at the luxury cars they parked by the roadside and the laptops they carried when attending the forums to see that these are not the type of citizens you can easily satisfy with the "necessary evil" argument.

The government's current position that the ISA stays as it is, is increasingly untenable in the face of strong public opposition sparked by the arrest of Sin Chew Daily journalist Ms Tan Hoon Cheng, DAP MP Teresa Kok and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin.

The arrest has touched a raw nerve especially with Home minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar passing the buck to the police and later giving incredulous excuses for the arrest and subsequent release of the journalist and the opposition lawmaker.

In the case of Raja Petra the use of the ISA is unacceptable because he is already charged with sedition and defamation and the cases are before the courts.

"He should be heard in court and only a judge can convict him if at all he is guilty," said Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam in an interview with The Malaysian Insider.

"It is very disturbing that the ISA is being increasingly used against those who freely and sincerely express honest and transparent views," he said.

"The easy and unnecessary use of the ISA is a major setback for the maturing democracy in Malaysia," he said.

"These repressive laws are archaic and outdated and not relevant anymore in a progressive and lively democracy," he said calling for the immediate release of Raja Petra and all ISA detainees and the repeal of the law in words that echo public sentiments.

Pak Lah, Najib try to hammer out another plan

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 (malaysiainsider)- Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib are having a private meeting once again today to discuss the transition plans, which may include the possibility of the Prime Minister handing over the reins before 2010.

Today's discussions follow an Umno management committee meeting yesterday chaired by Najib, and which was attended by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Tengku Adnan Mansor, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.

It is understood that members of the management committee were sworn to secrecy after leaks from last week's supreme council meeting caused turmoil.

It was reported that Abdullah, the Umno president, came under severe pressure from his party colleagues to quit during that meeting.

Despite the constant reassurances from Najib that he would stick by the transition plan, which is for Abdullah to hand over power by 2010, the pressure has grown from a number of senior party leaders, as well as from significant numbers among the grassroots, for Abdullah to step down sooner.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider today that some party officials have started floating the idea of postponing the party polls from December to next June.

Such an equation would include having Abdullah hand over power by the middle of next year as well.

This would avoid a potentially bruising and bitter struggle for the party, with Najib then taking over as Umno president and Prime Minister in a smooth, and probably unchallenged, manner.

But such a proposal may still not go down well.

It comes at a time when both Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have accused Abdullah and Najib of turning the party into their own personal property.

The two veteran leaders are of the opinion that members should be given a chance to decide who their leaders are.

Terrible price being paid by Malaysians for Abdullah’s failure to establish IPCMC

Two ghastly news within 24 hours –the robbery-cum-murder of Thor Joo Lee, wife of former Penang State Assemblyman for Bukit Tambun, Lai Chew Hock at her Tambun Indah house in Penang and the robbery of Datin Chang Lee Lee, wife of former Penang Exco and Pulau Tikus Assemblyman Datuk Dr. Teng Hock Nan in her Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman house in Penang.

These two cases of robbery (and one murder) of the wife of two former Penang Assemblymen are horrible reminders of the terrible costs being paid by Malaysians for the failure by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to heed the important recommendation of the Police Royal Commission to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to create an efficient, professional and world-class police service to keep crime low in the country.

As a result, it has become an important factor why Malaysia is losing out in the international competiveness stakes to other countries in attracting foreign investment as low crime, personal safety and security of property always rank as one of the top considerations for any foreign investor in the important decision-making process whether to invest in a country or not.

I have no doubt that Malaysia would have broken the back of the worsening crime problem if the IPCMC had been fully accepted and started functioning from May 2006 as recommended by the Royal Police Commission, making Malaysia a safe haven not only for Malaysian citizens, but also for investors and tourists.

Abdullah has failed as Home Minister for eight years from 2001-2008 as he presided over a worsening crime situation in the country with Malaysians, investors and tourists unable to feel safe whether in the streets, public places or in the privacy of their homes.

The current Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar is also heading for another dismal failure as a Home Minister as he has not been able to inspire public confidence that his No. 1 responsibility is to reverse the rising tide of the crime index in the past decade to make Malaysia a safe country for her citizens, investors and tourists.

In his more than six months as Home Minister, Hamid has shown that he has a completely misplaced sense of priorities, misusing and abusing his powers whether under the Internal Security Act or in threatening newspapers with show cause notices.

After the Barisan Nasional’s “thrashing” in the March 8 general election, Abdullah had pledged to implement his many abandoned reform programmes, one of which is police reform and the establishment of the IPCMC.

There have been no signs in the past six months that the government is prepared to present in Parliament an urgent bill to set up the IPCMC without any delay.

Abdullah seems to be totally overwhelmed by the battle to fight for his political life instead of making life safe and a quality one for Malaysians, tourists and investors.

Malaysians have a right to demand that Abdullah and Hamid stop dilly-dallying and be serious about the intolerable state of rampant crime in the country, jeopardising the security of Malaysians and frightening away tourists and investors to Malaysia.

Let Malaysians get a clear-cut and forthright answer from Abdullah and Hamid – are they going to honour the pledge to establish the IPCMC immediately without any further delay?

Or is the IPCMC dead so long as there is a Barisan Nasional government and the only way an IPCMC could be established is to have a Pakatan Rakyat federal government?

(www.limkitsiang.com)

Race Relations Act - why now?

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We are proposing this act at a time when we arrest our citizens for no good reason and no trial, using the instrument of oppression no longer suitable for an ultra and hyper-modern society such as ours.

Azly Rahman
http://azlyrahman-illuminations.blogspot.com/

This sounds like a good idea; but why after 51 years of independence?

We should have had this act to prevent the emergence of race-based parties and to ensure that all citizens be given equal opportunity and the rights and privileges accorded to them as a result of surrendering their natural rights to the state.

After 51 years of the institutionalisation of ethnocentrism and many times outright racism in terms of allocation of resources, open-secret indoctrinations, and the exploitation of racial and religious issues for political gain, we are now proposing an act to improve race-relations?

I am now puzzled – by the inherent contradictions we are confronting and will continue to confront vis-à-vis this proposed act.

Questions abound

Since the government had asked citizens like me to make suggestions and seek clarification concerning this proposed act, I have the following questions:

  • How will we judge the existing race-based parties that live and breathe on racial sentimentality to the point of being seditious in their pursuit of hegemony?

  • How will this act be used against governmental institutions such as the Biro Tata Negara whose livelihood has historically been based upon making sure that the damaging ideology of Malay (Pseudo) supremacy will forever prevail?

  • How will this act be used against public-funded educational institutions that promote "Ketuanan Melayu" which is clearly antithetical to our will to teach multi-racial understanding?

  • How many members of Parliament will be arrested under the Race Relations Act based on the nature of speeches they had given?

  • How many teachers and public servants will be investigated for using their position to deny their students and clients respectively the rights to be treated equally before the Constitution - rights accorded regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, color, creed, and religious orientation?

  • How many years of the possibility of multicultural education and intercultural understanding have we lost as a consequence of not having a Race Relations Act way back on Sept 16, 1963 during the formation of Malaysia?

  • How many racist policymakers in governmental and non-governmental sectors have we produced as a result of no Race Relations Act?

  • How many racist youth party leaders have we given birth to and how many can we afford to see "cloned" and "artificially inseminated" as a result of the absence of any act that erases racism and curbs arrogance and greed?

  • How will this proposed act, if passed, abolish the Internal Security Act that has been used to crush amongst others, those who oppose race-based policies and fight for racial and social justice?

  • How will this act allow for the passage of a new brand of politics – one that sees a truly multiracial party ruling the country and implementing policies based on the philosophy of equality, equal opportunity, excellence and empathy?


We are proposing this act at a time when we arrest our citizens for no good reason and no trial, using the instrument of oppression no longer suitable for an ultra and hyper-modern society such as ours.

We are proposing this out of desperation and out of sync with the mass sentiment of the day; at a time when the Berlin Wall of our Balkanized race relations is crumbling by the day, each brick in the wall ripped off by the power of the digital tsunami.

We are hearing this proposal coming from a race-based coalition government that wants to ensure that the divide and conquer and sub-divide and sub-conquer policies of British colonialism prevail in the filter-funneled minds of our little brown brothers and sisters.

The need to go deeper

Perhaps what we need is not another act to add to the ambivalence of acts such as The University and University Colleges and the Internal Security Acts but to go deeper into our public institutions and ask why we have not progressed much in race relations after all these decades.

We should investigate further how the New Economic Policy itself as a grand Stalinist-inspired programme of national development has contributed not only to the deterioration of race relations but has cemented racism in newer forms – both subtle and open.

We should investigate how the topic race relations has been taught in our community centers, schools, universities, and other public institutions to see what goes into the mind of our citizens by way of schooling, indoctrination, training, and education – to see what went wrong and what is still not right.

We should examine governmental policies and see if we indeed uncover practices that promote equality, equal opportunity, and empathy in place; policies that ought to have improved race relations, inclusionary, and integrate rather than disintegrate the different races.

This will be a mind-boggling noble proposal for us to contribute ideas. Do we need a new act? Or will a new government with a brand new ideology suffice?

But as peace and justice-loving Malaysians, let us offer constructive ideas to this proposed act.

Let us propose that only a truly multiracial party that has the will, motivation, intelligence and the set of acquired skills should be given the mandate to implement a Race Relations Act. Any communal-based party is too much a contradiction to put their act together on this one.

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I APPEAL TO THE MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE RAJA PETRA KAMARUDIN IMMEDIATELY AND UNCONDITIONALLY AND RELEASE ALL THE ISA DETAINEES AS WELL AND CONSEQUENTLY REPEAL THE ISA AND ALL OTHER INTOLERABLE ACTS

REPLACE THE ISA with the INTELLECTUAL SUSTAINABILITY ACT INSTEAD

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PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION ---> HERE <---