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Saturday, September 27, 2008

2,000 march against ISA

The Malaysian Insider pictures by Choo Choy May

By Shannon Teoh

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — A Hindraf-led anti-ISA rally saw nearly 2,000 marching through the city centre tonight.

Police had denied entry into Dataran Merdeka where the group had planned to hold an hour-long candlelight vigil.

This resulted in the crowd, just about 500-strong then, deciding to move to Court Hill Sri Ganesar Temple off Jalan Pudu.

Eventually, what was planned to be an hour-long gathering in an already cordoned-off area turned into a moving roadblock that disrupted traffic for twice as long.

The orange-clad, flag-waving and candle holding protestors had made their way to the temple in three blocks via Jalan Tun Perak.

By the time they arrived, the total size had quadrupled to close to 2,000 with passersby and latecomers including a significant number of Chinese and Malay supporters joining up.

"This was a signal that the ISA is hated by all Malaysians from a cross-section of society," said legal advisor N. Surendran.

The event, which called for the abolishment of the Internal Security Act and the release of all detainees especially the Hindraf 5 and blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, was hailed as a success by Hindraf national coordinator R.S. Tanendran, who said that the government should stop "closing its ears" to the people's wish to abolish the act.

"The people are a better judge of the Act. Who is Syed Hamid?" he told the crowd in front of the temple, referring to Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

"He is just an ordinary man. One man cannot be the judge."

According to Hindraf national event coordinator R. Kannan, several groups had assembled around the city centre and were headed towards Dataran Merdeka. They had requested police to allow them one hour to gather after a request for a permit sent on Wednesday did not receive a response.

However, even this request was denied as the main group began to move from Leboh Pasar Besar at 7.15pm, forcing them to take a detour via Masjid Jamek.

By 7.30pm, they had arrived together on Jalan Tun Perak where they were ordered to remain outside the cordoned off Dataran Merdeka with about 10 police light reserve personnel in attendance.

More negotiations with Kuala Lumpur police from the Dang Wangi headquarters ensued between Teluk Intan MP M. Manogaran and police representatives.

The DAP legislator requested for the group to be allowed in to light their candles and say their prayers for 15 minutes but were told that they would only be allowed to remain outside the cordoned off area until 8pm.

By 7.50pm the group began marching towards the temple and continued to gather numbers resulting in staggered blockage of traffic along Jalan Tun Perak and only arrived at the temple at 8.30pm before dispersing 45 minutes later.

ASP Sydney Clyde Jeremiah confirmed that there were no untoward incidents in what was generally a "peaceful gathering" despite half a dozen light reserve and federal reserve vehicles each arriving at Dataran Merdeka after 8pm

Upko wants Registration Dept to rectify mistake

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Upko is threatening to review its position in the Barisan Nasional if the National Registration Department fails to rectify its mistake of making an elderly bumiputra citizen into a permanent resident.

Upko deputy president Datuk Wilfred Bumburing said that taking away the citizenship of a locally-born bumiputra and forcing them to take permanent resident status was a shocking display of incompetence from a department rigged with controversies.

“This action by the NRD infringes the basic rights of Malaysians in Sabah and if it is not rectified, Upko must seriously review its position in Barisan,” he said.

He said this in reaction to the dilemma of a 78-year-old Sino-Kadazan woman Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin who lost her identity card in May but NRD issued her a Red IC and asked her to apply for citizenship again.

“This to me is the last straw with the mess of NRD that is making locals foreigners and foreigners citizens,” said Bumburing who believes that a Royal Commission of Inquiry should be set up to investigate NRD’s alleged issuance of ICs to foreigners.

Yong, a resident of Penampang holding a native certificate issued in 1963, lost her original IC on Feb 12 and made an application for a replacement but was issued a Red IC a few months later with NRD officials saying that it was normal procedure. However, the mother of seven children went back to the NRD with prove of citizenship documents including her passport and driving licence.

To her shock, an official at the NRD office admitted that there might have been a mistake but advised her to apply for citizenship instead of rectifying it. Her bank accounts have since been frozen.

“There is something really wrong at the NRD. This is not the first case,” added Bumburing, whose party helped highlight Yong’s plight while reflecting on worries that citizens were losing their Malaysian status in a state where there are allegations that foreigners are getting Malaysian identity cards illegally.

Last year an 18-year-old local girl from Sandakan whose Malaysian identity card was issued to another person was asked by the NRD officers to obtain a new identity. Her plight was highlighted and she eventually got back her identity.

- The Star

MIC Wants Report On Temple Demolition To Be Made Public

September 27, 2008 14:41 LUMPUR, 27 Sept (Bernama) -- MIC has urged the Selangor government to make public the report on the demolition of a temple in Ampang after two elected representatives from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) gave conflicting statements on the matter.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said in a statement today that the conficting statements were deceiving and hoodwinking the people over who was actually responsible for the demolition of the Sri Mahakaliamman temple in Ampang on Sept 9.

He said MIC wanted the state government to come clean on the matter and expose who had authorised the demolition.

He said that according to Ampang Member of Parliment Zuraida Kamaruddin, it was the temple committee who had demolished the temple to make way for renovation and facelift but Selangor Health, Estate Workers and Caring Government Committee Chairman Dr Xavier A. Jayakumar had said that five to six Ampang Jaya Municipal Council enforcement officers were involved in tearing down the temple.

The PKR-led state government should not divert the issue by claiming that MIC was making unfounded allegations, Samy Vellu said.


Race Relations Act Not Needed, Deputy Minister Says

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 (Bernama) -- A race relations act does not need to be introduced as the country has been in peace throughout the 51 years of independence, said Deputy Information Minister Datuk Tan Lian Hoe.

She said the idea to come up with the act came because there were individuals using racial issues for their own personal interests without thinking about national prosperity.

"This situation is not good for our country whose population comprise various races.

"Therefore the peace should be strengthened through mutual respect which has been built since the time of our ancestors," he told reporters after opening the Global Entrepreneurship Conference at the Putra World Trade Centre today.

Tan who is Gerakan Wanita head, said racial issues would see an end if each member of society including political leaders were more open and regarded each race in the country as Malaysians.

"We have to champion the Malaysian race as a big family where we no longer introduce ourselves as Malays, Chinese, Indians and other races,"

"The time has come for us to introduce ourselves as Malaysians or Malaysian race to see the country's peace and prosperity remain whole," she said.


Hindraf slams Selangor exco's stand on temple demolition

SEREMBAN, Sept 27 — Hindraf has slammed Selangor exco member Dr Xavier Jayakumar for "losing the plot" in the Hindu temple demolition issue.

In a press statement, Hindraf chairman P.Waytha Moorthy said Jayakumar's excuse of not being registered echoed a similar attitude as the previous Barisan Nasional state government.

"The statement by Dr Jayakumar that the Sri Maha Kaliamman Temple is not registered with the Selangor State Council and that it did not fulfill the "format" of registration is a joke and makes a mockery of the basic right to worship of every citizen.

"It appears the PR government is singing the same tune of the previous BN Government in misleading the community to believe that the temple committee was at fault for not registering the temple," he stated.

The Sri Maha Kaliamman temple was torn down on Sept 9 by the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council but the Pakatan Rakyat state government had claimed it breached a directive barring the destruction of any places of worship put in place soon after it had won the March 8 polls.

"Is the Pakatan Rakyat government willing to lodge police reports on the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council?" Waytha asked in his statement.

He also maintained that there are no provisions under the law to register the existence of a temple and that all temples exist legally under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.

As such, Waytha, the movement's leader-in-exile, has challenged Jayakumar to produce the necessary provisions of state law that stipulates the necessity of the "format".

"To add insult to injury he had the audacity to say this is not a temple but a shrine. Is he trying to indicate that it was okay to demolish a shrine?

"The problem with these politicians is they do not give a damn about the feelings of Hindus and the need to provide and gazette places of worship belonging to Hindus," Waytha added.

Abdullah’s premiership de facto ended yesterday (26.9.08)

(Lim Kit Siang)Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s premiership de facto ended yesterday, September 26, 2008 – 54 months after scoring the most stunning landslide electoral victory for any Prime Minister in the nation’s 51-year history.

How far and how fast Abdullah has fallen!

All the Umno heavyweights are now engaged in a marionette play – how to plunge the dagger into Abdullah’s back without blood being seen to be drawn or better still even camouflaging from the Malaysian public the act of dagger-stabbing altogether.

Although Abdullah claimed that it would be his decision, “whether to contest or not” the post of Umno President, there could be no doubt that if Abdullah departs from the script and fails to announce by before October 9 that he would not be offering himself as a candidate as Umno President, the marionette play would be abandoned and the dagger-stabbing would be a very public and bloody one.

Even the sweet-sounding praises by Umno leaders yesterday over the scuttling of Abdullah’s original mid-2010 power-transition plan and the postponement of the Umno general assembly from December to March next year sounded rather ominous if Abdullah ignores the unmistakable signal that he should not dilly-dally any more in making his exit.

For instance, when asked whether he was satisfied with the outcome of the Umno Supreme Council emergency meeting yesterday although there was no clearcut indication of an exist date, the most hawkish of the Umno leaders against Abdullah, Tan Sri Muhyidddin Yassin, commented: “I think it is good enough. You need to have trust. There must be a certain element of trust in whatever decision the leadership Is making today.”

Abdullah must be aware that he would be regarded as lacking “a certain element of trust” if he failed to announce that he would not be offering his candidacy for Umno President by the Oct. 9 deadline.

In the circumstances, Abdullah has three options before him:

• Announce before the October 9 deadline his intention to contest for the post of Umno President, retaining the initiative in his hands as to his own timeline to effect the power transition;

• Announce that he would not be contesting for the Umno President in the Umno party election in March, which also mark the end of his premiership; and

• Announce his retirement as Prime Minister by Oct. 9.

In the first option, Abdullah would be fighting for his political life as he would have to prove first that he is capable of winning 58 or one-third of the Umno division nominations for the post of Umno President.

This may be a very tall order and he must be prepared to suffer the ignominy of an incumbent Prime Minister and Umno President who could not secure adequate nominations to contest for the post of Umno President.

In the second option, Abdullah would be a lame-duck Prime Minister for six months.

Apart from the third option of immediate retirement as Prime Minister, is there a fourth option open to Abdullah?

300 attend Abolish ISA vigil; Film fest opens in Penang

Some 300 people turned up for an Abolish ISA candlelight vigil in Penang last night (Photos by Amiruddin, Wartawan Rasmi Laman Reformasi)

Anwar: Najib more unpopular than his boss

HONG KONG, Sept 27 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday his campaign to topple the government would only be strengthened if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepped down earlier than expected and Abdullah's deputy took the reins.

As Umno huddled in Kuala Lumpur to discuss whether the country's unpopular prime minister should step down earlier than planned, Anwar said both leaders had lost the mandate of the people to rule, but that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had even less credibility.

"From a survey [it] showed that however unpopular Abdullah is now, Najib is more unpopular. He has a major problem of credibility. Many unexplained cases which does insinuate his involvement in [an] earlier murder case he has to explain, I'm not suggesting anything beyond that," Anwar said in Hong Kong, while in Hong Kong for an Asia investment conference.

"It's not a matter of going to the mosque and swearing that you are not involved. Then you make a mockery of Islam, the Quran and the law.

"If you go to the prison and say to these convicted murderers and rapists, 'if you swear on the Quran you go scot free', then 99.9 per cent would go free."

Discussions on whether Abdullah would step down early would not derail the opposition's plans, Anwar said, denying that he had lost credibility after failing to meet the Sept 16 deadline by which he had said he would have enough support in government to become prime minister.

While he had the names of the MPs who supported him, he said he could not disclose them because of the climate of fear in Malaysia.

"The climate of fear is real. Why do we need to expose them" and make them take such a risk, he asked.

Another risk for Anwar supporters was that Najib would be more willing to implement the Internal Security Act, a draconian law that allows people to be detained without trial for up to two years.

Anwar feared that the powers of ISA would only be strengthened and used more if Najib took power next year. Najib "has not said that he won't use the Internal Security Act — not only against me", he said.

Blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, an ally of Anwar, has been detained for reporting on Najib in connection with a murder case on the Malaysia Today political website.

- South China Morning Post

New poll shows Anwar will be better PM than Najib

By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — By a small margin, Malaysians think opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would make a better prime minister compared with Datuk Seri Najib Razak, according to a survey conducted recently by the independent Merdeka Centre.

In the same survey, Malaysians also appear more divided than ever over their support for the country's political leadership.

There are also sharp differences in preferences between the different races, with a majority of non-Malays supporting Anwar, while more Malays preferred Najib.

Between Sept 11 and 22, Merdeka Centre carried out a leadership performance perception on a cross section of 1,002 people of voting age from the three main ethnic communities in the country.

Among the questions asked was: "Between Najib Razak and Anwar Ibrahim, who do you think makes a better prime minister?"

Najib garnered a 33.8 per cent average total support among the three major races. Anwar edged him by a margin of less than six per cent — he garnered an average total of 39.3 per cent.

The difference is more conspicuous when the show of support is broken down according to the ethnicity of those polled.

The split was apparent among racial lines, with Najib drawing as much as 47.3 per cent support from the Malay community. Anwar trailed with just 32.5 per cent.

The opposition leader gained greater support among non-Malays, receiving the support of 37.4 per cent of Chinese voters and a whopping 85 per cent from the Indians.

In comparison, Najib only won the approval of 18.4 per cent of Chinese voters and just five per cent of Indians thought he would make a better prime minister.

Of note was the high percentage of voters who remained non-commital. More than 40 per cent of Chinese voters polled expressed no preference.

Based on the poll results, Malay support for Najib is significantly stronger than that for Anwar.

Political analyst Tricia Yeoh says the party factor is a very strong featuring factor with the non-Malay communities.

"It is possible they view Najib as continuing to perpetuate the same kind of politics that has plagued Malaysia through Umno," she said.

"Anwar will need to fight for Malay support most prominently since Najib may continue to be seen as the final bastion of support for the Malay position," she added.

Another political analyst, Khoo Kay Peng, sees it differently.

"No doubt Najib commands higher support among the Malay community because of the status of Umno as a Malay party. It has been representing the Malays for a long time. But at 47.3 per cent, the support is not really very high for Najib. It's not much off Abdullah's support," he said.

Based on the same Merdeka Centre report, Abdullah still enjoys 50.7 per cent support from the Malays.

"The key is that Najib does not get much support from the Chinese and Indians. Najib is still seen as a Malay leader.

"If you want to be the prime minister, you must have support from across the board," he said.

"Anwar stands a much better chance because he gets support from over 30 per cent of the Chinese and the Indians, predominantly from the Indians, which is consistent with past reports," he pointed out.

In a toss up between who will become the next prime minister, he felt it would definitely be Anwar.

But for Khalid Samad, the Pas MP for Shah Alam and an ally of Anwar, the results are frightening for the Pakatan Rakyat alliance.

He said the results of the survey showed government media propaganda still held sway, especially among the rural Malays.

He is concerned that much of the Malay media has portrayed a negative impression of Anwar as being an "immoral guy" and being a stooge of the United States.

"Basically, Umno-Barisan Nasional has been quite successful in conning Malays into believing that Anwar is selling out the Malays and that is the reason for the low percentage of support for Anwar," said Khalid.

"These are not very encouraging results if it is representative of the entire population. It means there is a problem. Anwar will have to work harder.

"It's important he should have at least a 50-50 situation among Malays. That would suffice," he stressed.

But he does not think that the sample poll is a true reflection of the voting populace.

"I don't think that Anwar in the actual situation is that far behind Najib. I would expect 47 per cent for Najib and 45 per cent for Anwar.

"The difference, almost 15 per cent difference in support from Malays, gives the impression that if Pakatan Rakyat comes to power, the position of the Malays will be jeopardised.

"But no one race will lose out under Pakatan leadership," he said.

- The Malaysian Insider

Sabahan Bumi ends up as a Permanent Resident!

Penampang: Little did a 78-year-old Sino-Kadazan holding a Bumiputra Native Certificate realise the nightmare that would unfold for losing her Identity Card last year.

Within months, Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin has seen her status as full-fledged Malaysian being reduced to that of a Permanent Resident by the National Registration Department (NRD), and with the latter showing no remorse or urgency in reverting to her original status.

Yong's misfortune began the day her wallet went missing from her handbag at a supermarket at Penampang Baru when on Feb. 12 last year.

Inside the wallet were her Identity Card, driving licence, bankbooks, a gold necklace, RM500, a gold-plated pearl locket, two golden crosses and a set of car keys.

On the same day, she lodged a police report and on Feb. 26, she applied for a replacement IC at the NRD office in Donggongon.

After several months, Yong was told to collect her replacement IC at the NRD office - but the colour was red. "I asked the officer why it was red and she replied that for senior citizens who lost their IC, the department would normally replace them with red ICs," she said.

Only when she returned home did she learn from one of her sons, Frankie, 55, that red ICs are issued to people with Permanent Resident status.

Her children told Yong to return to the NRD office to replace the red IC with the MyKad issued to Malaysian citizens. However, the NRD officer this time told her to "apply for Malaysian citizenship" instead.

The NRD officer admitted it could have committed an error somewhere and Yong duly submitted the application form to the office on July 2, last year.

But that was not the end of her problem. Soon after, her bank accounts were frozen and she could not withdraw money for her daily expenses.

Frankie said his mother also had difficulty travelling outside the country since she could not renew her expired passport.

"She could not even apply for a temporary passport even though we asked the Immigration Department for a case-by-case basis consideration," he said.

Because of this, she had to miss many church events abroad, including a trip to Jakarta at the end of this month.

Yong's other son, Jonathan, 48, said the situation was really tragic because the NRD officer also told her that she is not even allowed to travel to West Malaysia - thus preventing her from visiting her youngest son who is working in a bank in the nation's capital.

Yong's husband passed away three months ago, thus compounding her many problems. Fluent in Kadazan and Chinese, she is embarrassed at the fate that has befallen her.

"Wherever I go, I use my driving licence as proof of identity," she said.

Strangely, she was allowed to cast her vote using her driving licence as identity document during the elections on March 8 since her record in the polling list was still intact.

But when she tried to renew her Malaysian passport, her previous identification records had completely "disappeared".

Her greatest fear now is what effect her "new status" would have on her seven sons and one daughter.

Resource Development and Information Technology Assistant Minister, Donald Peter Mojuntin shared her fears saying her children's citizenship could also be withdrawn.

"There has never been a case like this before when genuine Malaysians had their citizenship cancelled. If this can happen to her, it can happen to anybody (Malaysians)," he said.

The NRD officer, he said, should have more compassion for Yong instead of treating her case like the others.

The Moyog Assemblyman, who is also Upko's Bureau Chief for Citizenship and Security, said there was no reasonable explanation from the NRD as to why Yong's citizenship was changed to that of a permanent resident.

"If they (NRD) say the policy has changed, I want to ask when they changed it. You must tell the people about the changes," he said.

He said he has no doubt about Yong's citizenship because even the Native Court had verified her status as that of a Sino-Kadazan through a Sijil Anak Negeri (SAN or native certificate) on Dec 5, 1963.

The people, he said have been complaining about illegal immigrants who could easily acquire permanent resident status and the MyKad.

But with a stroke of the pen, Yong Lee Hua is now a "foreigner" in her native land.

Mojuntin said Yong had planned to sue the NRD for causing embarrassment through their negligence but hoped a meeting with the Sabah NRD Director would prevent that.

I also hope to meet Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to pursue this case, he said. "For the NRD to admit their mistake and then tell her to reapply for citizenship is simply illogical.

"The department's officers should be more compassionate as their actions can have a serious impact on people's lives," he said.

- Daily Express, Sabah

'It's like challenging PM's Dept'

PUTRAJAYA: Even as Deputy Home Minister Senator Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh joined in to take Senator T. Murugiah to task over his questioning of food for ISA detainees, the deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department was not backing down.


"He (Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Syed Albar) told me to take care of my own business. What is my business if not handling the complaints?" he asked.

Murugiah said Syed Hamid's criticism was tantamount to challenging the Prime Minister's Department.

He said he never had any ministers criticising him for investigating public complaints against their ministries.

Speaking to the New Straits Times after visiting Puduraya bus terminal to check on the Hari Raya rush home, Murugiah said his bureau received the most complaints against the Home Ministry, a merger of Internal Security and Home Affairs ministries.

As of May 31, it received 164 complaints, out out which 77 were solved.

Yesterday, Wan Ahmad Farid likened Murugiah's action to "someone challenging other people's ministries".

He said the government had its own way of dealing with complaints.

"Holding a joint press conference with Kok (Seputeh MP Teresa Kok), promising to probe her allegations, is not one of them."

Murugiah had come under fire from Syed Hamid after he took up Kok's complaint that she had been served poor quality food while under ISA detention.

"Although a deputy minister, he is not a member of the cabinet, but he will have his own post-cabinet meeting where he can raise this issue.

"If he is not happy, he can raise this issue with his minister who will then raise it in the weekly cabinet meetings," said Wan Ahmad after launching the Mashaf guideline for the publication of the Quran and Yasin. The Mashaf guideline is the first ever to be published by the ministry to ensure the publications of the holy text are accurate and true.

Wan Ahmad said the ministry would not address the issue until it was brought up through the proper channels.

Meanwhile, Wan Ahmad, in response to MIC Youth chief T. Mohan's tongue-in-cheek statement that the National Registration Department would only look into cases of stateless individuals fast if they were highlighted in the media, said it was never the department's intention to delay any application.

"I believe we can and are in a position to facilitate the issue, but we can't be handling 30,000 cases at once (a number revealed by Mohan)," he said.

- nst

Please tell them not to forget me’ - WE WILL NOT!

When I read those words from Raja Petra Kamarudin as published on the Malaysian Insider, tears well in my eyes. Detention under ISA can be indefinite, and the detainees’ existence can indeed vanish in the memory of the outside world. Many Malaysians, myself included, have been the happy consumer of truth supplied by RPK. We deplored one government scandal after another, exposed through RPK’s news portal Malaysia-Today. We cheered him on when he criticised the Bad Guys to our heart’s content. In fact majority of Malaysians are still reminiscing the historic change of March 8, forgetting that RPK is one brave loving Malaysian who should be accorded large part of the credit. What about those first-time opposition MPs who got a big boost in their election campaign when they had RPK as their guest speaker? RPK was the ’swinger’ of March 8, no doubt about it.

And when RPK had to utter those words from Kamunting Detention Centre, it is only fair for us to ask ourselves “what have we done when RPK is taken away by the tyrant called Barisan Nasional?” At a minimum, you can
write RPK a postcard and address it to “YM Raja Petra Kamarudin, Tempat Tahanan Perlindungan,
34600 Kamunting, Taiping. Perak
“. (We can only pray hard that the prison officers do not just bin the cards.) In fact, do anything that will bring to his attention that he is never forgotten by us, us who are still enjoying the freedom and continue to search for truth in his absence.

Next, involve yourself with the various campaigns launched by various groups of concerned citizens and supporters of RPK. The campaigns are to create awareness and focus people’s attention of the injustice against RPK and 60 or so other ISA detainees. We have people shaving their head and even a nicely done-up leaflet is prepared. Participate in candle light vigils that are organised across the country. Sign the online petition demanding release of ISA detainees. And a few other ideas as well. Many ideas are not mutually exclusive so you can take part in as many as possible. A good starting point is the guide at Malaysia-Today.

Finally, an adaption of Martin Niemöller’s poem “First they came”:

In Malaysia, they came first for the Malaysia-Today blogger, And I did not speak up because I was not a blogger;

And then they came for the Sin-Chew journalist, And I did not speak up because I was not a journalist;

And then they came for the Sassy MP, And I did not speak up because I was not an MP;

And then … they came for me … And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

Language barrier splits Malaysians into classes

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — A visibly angry Maimunah Hamid shook her head in desperation as Education Ministry officials struggled to explain to angry parents gathered at a parent-teachers meeting at a national school in the city last week.

"I have had enough, I am moving my daughter to an international school," said Maimunah, an accountant with Maybank, Malaysia's biggest bank. "I am sick of this flip-flop policy, why can't you all make up your mind?" Most of the 120 parents agreed with Maimunah, 46, a mother of two daughters aged nine and 12.

"Make up you mind please — English or Malay. Don't torture the children," said another parent Kanagaratnam Vellupillai, 39. "This issue has been going on for years and years." In fact the issue — English or Malay as a medium of instruction — has been hotly debated and remains unresolved since the British colonialists left in 1957.

After acrimonious debate the matter was settled in 1967 that Malay would be the medium of instruction in all national schools, but that Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools could continue teaching in a mixture of Malay and their own mother tongues.

However, in a decision in 2002, which was widely opposed by parents, officials, opposition lawmakers and even civil servants, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad ordered the return of English on the grounds that national education in Malay narrowed student minds, retarded economic growth and that if continued, Malaysia's competitiveness would collapse against Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

The return of English was widely supported by middle-class parents such as Maimunah and Kanagaratnam, who were already westernised and inclined to want an open, English-based education for their children.

However Malay nationalists, Chinese educationists and Tamil parents, who wanted Tamil as medium of instruction for Tamils, strongly objected to Dr Mahathir's desire to bring back English.

The veteran politician offered a compromise — only science and maths would be taught in English. All other subjects would be in Malay and vernacular languages.

That decision has been hotly debated ever since and the latest round erupted last month with academics, teachers and parents hotly divided over whether to continue Dr Mahathir's policy or revert to teaching all subjects in Malay.

The matter remains an emotive issue in this multi-ethnic society divided by race, religion and now mother tongue education.

Five years after Dr Mahathir retired in 2003 his successor, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, still finds it difficult to reverse the "science and maths in English" policy now widely described as a "silly legacy".

At the time it was introduced, the move was strongly opposed by parents, educators and teachers, but Dr Mahathir pressed on. Opposition continued over the years and has reached a peak in recent weeks with top educators openly arguing that the five-year-old policy has seriously damaged students' grasp of not only English but also science and maths.

"You cannot study a language by studying maths and science in that language," said Ungku Aziz, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Malaya.

"The tragedy of our time is that students have no idea what is grammar and syntax, they are not proficient in English," he told an education forum this month, adding his weight to chorus of demands to end the policy.

"English or any language should be learnt as a language on its own right."

National Union of Heads of Schools president Pang Chong Leong agreed with the argument against using English as the medium of instruction for science and maths.

"If the intention is to improve the pupils' English, then they should start with the arts subjects, such as moral studies, and also increase the number of English periods," he said at an education forum last week.

"Science involves a lot of thinking while maths does not use too much language and vocabulary. It goes against the principles of education and does not achieve any objective."

Dr Mahathir reasoned though that by teaching the two subjects in English students would not only master the language but also science and maths to make the economy technology-driven, and implemented the policy against strong opposition in 2003, months before he retired after 22 years as prime minister.

Neither aims, however, have been achieved, experts argue.

They say English proficiency fell because less time was devoted to it in language study, while grasp of science and maths also suffered after the sudden switch from Malay.

English originally was taught five times a week, 45-minutes a session in primary schools, but that time was reduced to once a week under the new policy. The saved hours were used to study science and maths in English, leaving teachers and students in the lurch.

The government pressed ahead, spending billions changing school textbooks to English, training teachers to work in the language and at one time even importing scores of teachers from England to fill a shortfall.

Over the years several government "review committees" have studied the issue and recommended to end the policy, but Dr Mahathir's influence in the political arena was so great that a final decision was always postponed.

Another reason for the indecisiveness is that long-time education minister Datuk Hishamuddin Hussein is a Mahathir loyalist and unwilling to embarrass the former prime minister by ending the policy.

However, at a teachers' meeting early this month, Hishamuddin promised the government would make a firm decision — abandon English for Malay or continue the policy — by year end.

Some parents, such as Maimunah, are not prepared to wait for the government to decide.

"I want my daughters to have a wholesome, internationally recognised education so they can work and live anywhere in the world," she said.

"Later this year I am pulling them from the national school and registering them in an international one that follows the English semester system. It's expensive but worth it."

However, parents like Kanagaratnam, a City hall bus driver, cannot afford expensive private education. "English is a must for world commerce and the future. We must have a strong grounding in English," he said.

"I hope the government keeps instruction in English just for science and mathematics. We don't want out children to return to Malay and play catch up all over again."

The government appears reluctant to reverse the policy five years after spending so much money on textbooks and retraining teachers to switch science and maths from Malay to English.

"We have already lost one generation switching from English to Malay. By reversing I fear we will lose another," said retired teacher Kathy Fong in a letter to the New Straits Times daily last week.

- South China Morning Post

Puzzling over Anwar’s claims PDF Print E-mail


Two takeover deadlines have come and gone, and while Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s staunch supporters believe he still has the numbers to topple the BN government, the average Malaysian is asking whether it’s all empty talk.

THE people must be confounded by recent events. One day, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim challenges Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmd Badawi to hand over the government to him and the next, he is in the dock defending himself against a sodomy charge.

Anwar had used media power to ready the people to expect a march to the palace to claim the prime ministership of Malaysia but instead they saw him coming out of a court complex on Wednesday.

Although Abdullah has called Anwar’s bluff on the power grab game, and the whole issue now seems surreal, hardcore supporters of Anwar are still hoping he has the numbers and that the march to the palace will take place.

For many Malaysians, the two deadlines of Sept 16 and 23 have come and gone without the anticipated fall of the Barisan Nasional Government.

After crying wolf once too often, Anwar now says the dates were “symbolic” and not meant to be taken at face value.

He says the plan to topple the government is on but in accordance with rules, laws and constitutional processes so as not to endanger the people or the economy.

More rhetoric, and more promises.

Middle Malaysia, that section of the population that cherishes stability, status quo and likes to believe, is slipping from his grasp.

“Does he have the numbers?” they once asked. Now the same people are asking: “Why did he take us for a ride? Is he not concerned about his credibility?”

If Anwar wants to win back “Middle Malaysia” he has to answer their questions.

After having raised public anticipation to feverish levels, people need proper closure.

The thing that sticks in my mind is his constant claim that the “numbers are increasing by the hour”, meaning more and more Barisan MPs are crossing over. Was that a mere claim or was it for real?

The optimists among Malaysians now hope that when Parliament reconvenes on Oct 13, Anwar will show his “ever-increasing numbers” by asking them to cross over to the Opposition bench.

He need not produce any list, challenge anybody, call for a special parliament session or write letters to the palace. A short walk across the parliament floor will suffice.

If that walk fails to materialise, Anwar has to give up the role of PM-in-waiting and get cracking on what the people had voted him to do — to be an effective opposition leader, to act as a check and balance to the BN government.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia has asked Anwar to go back to the people and let them decide whether they want him to be prime minister. He should not just entice some Barisan MPs to jump ship and then claim to have the people’s mandate.

“Only the people can decide, not some jumping MPs,” said party president Dr Nasir Hashim.

In the meantime, Anwar should work hard to turn the Pakatan Rakyat coalition into a formidable force instead of the loose grouping it is now.

Except for Penang and probably Kedah, other Pakatan-ruled states are weak and not cohesive.

A letter by a reader in The Star on Wednesday summed it up succinctly: “His ardent desire to head the country leaves a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. In his rush to Putrajaya, he betrayed the trust of fence-sitters and some of his supporters as the widely-criticised Barisan Nasional remained in power on Sept 16. He now has a tiny window of opportunity; he either walks the talk or shut up.”

- The Star

Rumah ibu bapa Teresa dilontar bom petrol

Sep 27, 08 (malaysiakini)
Kediaman ibu bapa anggota Parlimen Seputeh Teresa Kok di Jalan Ipoh di ibunegara dilontar bom petrol awal pagi ini.

Ketua Polis Daerah Sentul ACP Zakaria Pagan mengesahkan kejadian itu berlaku pada kira-kira 2.55 pagi.

Teresa dibebaskan daripada tahanan Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) pada 19 September lalu setelah ditahan selama tujuh hari.

Katanya, tiada penghuni rumah itu yang cedera dalam kejadian itu kerana bom petrol itu tidak meletup.

Waktu kejadian, terdapat tiga orang yang menghuni di rumah itu iaitu ibu, bapa dan adik Teresa.

Bercakap dalam sidang akhbar tengahari tadi, Teresa berkata anggota keluarganya kini bimbangkan keselamatan mereka.

Beliau menyifatkan tindakan itu sebagai keji dan satu jenayah untuk menakut-nakutkan beliau untuk menghalangnya daripada menjalankan tugasnya sebagai wakil rakyat.

Beliau juga mendakwa kejadian itu mungkin berpunca daripada tindakan kumpulan media dan blog-blog tertentu yang didakwanya dengan sengaja menggambar dirinya sebagai seorang yang anti-Melayu dan anti-Islam.

Sekeping kertas turut ditemui di tempat kejadian yang mengandungi mesej ugutan terhadap Teresa.

Teresa, yang juga ahli exco kanan kerajaan Selangor menjadi sasaran kecaman beberapa pihak selepas mendakwa beliau diberi makanan seperti makanan anjing ketika ditahan di bawah ISA.

Kok, 43, ditangkap di bawah ISA pada 12 September kerana didakwa membangkitkan isu-isu mengenai agama Islam, dan dibebaskan seminggu kemudiannya.

Turut menziarahi rumah keluarga Teresa ialah pemimpin DAP, Lim Kit Siang dan Lim Lip Eng serta peguam Sankara Nair




HINDRAF welcomes the calls made by various political parties to abolish the ISA including those from the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.

Various component parties within the coalition have been making repetitive calls to the UMNO controlled Government to implement corrective methods for the Malaysian society to regain its confidence of the electorate in the aftermath of the March 8th General Elections.

These calls seem to fall in deaf ears as it appears the arrogance and culture of fiefdom rule of UMNO have settled well within their blood streams that UMNO finds it difficult to give up its "Master and Slave" policies to cling on to the "powers" of being the Master for all races.

HINDRAF wishes to remind all component parties that their duty and loyalty is first and foremost to the rakyat whom they serve and not UMNO as their Master.

From the time Malaysia achieved independence UMNO has played the role of "Master" over all other coalition parties though legally all coalition parties have equal status to play a part for the enhancement of the rakyat.

UMNO dictates and rules only for the benefit of the chosen few in UMNO and all component partners are compelled to be subservient to its bullying tactics and authority.

With the current awakening of the Malaysian society, it is high time coalition members free themselves from the clutch and claw of UMNO SUPREMACY RULE for Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians and not UMNO alone.

The majority of the coalition partners have expressed clear and strong views against the use of ISA to quell legitimate voice of democracy but the fascist and bullying UMNO doesn't seem to give a second thought about other coalition partners' views as they expect them to be as submissive as ever.

HINDRAF calls upon all coalition partners to immediately leave the obsolete coalition of BN so that the draconian law of ISA and all other repressive laws, which have oppressed and suppressed and punished innocent democracy loving citizens, would come to an end.

This act by the coalition would be their greatest dharma ie spiritual and moral truth, they could render to the Malaysian society for the sins of being part of the fascist regime all along and end the fiefdom of UMNO.

P.Waytha Moorthy






HINDRAF wishes to state that it would reimburse each and every of the 27 supporters who pleaded guilty on 18th September 2008 for the RM1000 they have paid or owe to the court in fine imposed for their participation on the peaceful HINDRAF rally on November 25th last year.

For those who have already paid the fine and those still owing to the court kindly contact our Selangor Coordinator Mr. Selvam on 016 9673066 to help facilitate transfer of funds and fine payment into court.

However we would continue to welcome any form of donations to help ease the burden of the remaining 27 who would undergo 2 months continued hearing beginning 23rd September 2008.

Those willing to make contributions could make their donations to our nominated accounts as below:

Bank – Public Bank Berhad

Account Name – P. Taramaraju & Aridass Velu

(Joint saving account)

Account No – 4-5235622-34

Tel No : 019- 330 5197

012- 332 3490.

Thank you

P.Waytha Moorthy