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Friday, October 3, 2008

Comments from Hindraf

PM Hari Raya Open House PWTC we went as PEACE loving Malaysian citizen, to forgive PM for what he have done to our Hindraf Lawyers who speak out of marginalization, discrimination and permanent colonization of UMNO lead government. We told PM that please release HINDRAF 5, RPK, all ISA detainees and Abolish ISA. PM said he will look into it.

We want our Hindraf lawyers to be release soon as possible before Deepavali. In the event the PM still don't want to release our hero's then I urge all Malaysian Indian to celebrate Deepavali in a moderate way, no open house. Everyone should go to temple and pray for the release of our hero's who fought for our rights and for our children future. How can the families and we celebrate Deepavali went our Hero's are in ISA. Lets get united for we are one.
We hope PM will release them soon as they are not terrorist, they only fought for our rights as Malaysian citizen.

We are dispointed with Bernama, RTM and TV3 for saying that we acted rudely. We came with peace and we left in peace that's our way. Please report without fear of favour.

Thank you.

HINDRAF National Information Coordinater
Valga Makkal SAKTHI

Raja Petra can’t stomach ‘smelly’ Kamunting food

KAMUNTING: Malaysia Today editor and Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee Raja Petra Kamarudin has requested a change in his diet at the Kamunting detention centre here.

His wife, Marina Lee Abdullah, said her husband was unable to stomach the food prepared for detainees at the centre, despite having tried several times.

“My daughter told him to eat something but he said he really could not, that he had tried but vomited many times and suffered from diarrhoea,” she told reporters after her second Hari Raya visit with her husband yesterday.

She added that Raja Petra had asked prison authorities if they could serve things like bread and eggs instead of the usual rice and dishes, which were often “smelly”.

“They told him this could probably only be implemented after Hari Raya,” she said.

Marina also expressed disappointment that on both her visits, she was not allowed to meet with her husband in the open courtyard like the other detainees’ families but had to meet him in his cell.

“They told me the other detainees could meet with their families in the open courtyard but those who were ‘hardcore criminals’ could only have visitations in their cells.

“So I guess they consider my husband a hardcore criminal,” she said.

She added that she was also chastised for wearing a short-sleeved blouse and slacks.

“They told me to put on a coat or something, as they did not want me to offend the other prisoners.

“I told them I was there to meet with my husband and not the others,” she said.

During the visit, about 200 supporters and DAP members from as far as Penang and Kuala Lumpur demonstrated in a show of support for the controversial writer outside the camp.

The group, dressed in “I am with RPK” T-shirts, arrived in droves from 10.30am onwards and held banners calling for the release of Raja Petra and the Hindraf five, and the abolition of the ISA.

They also brought bouquets and hampers, which they presented to Marina and her family members.

Police reinforcements were brought in to direct traffic and handle the growing crowd, which later sang We are Malaysians (to the tune of We are the World) and Selamat Hari Raya.

They dispersed peacefully at 11.40am.

- The Star

Hindraf ticked off for 'disrespect' at open house

KUALA LUMPUR: Hindu Rights Action Force members' "intimidating" actions at the ministers' open house on Wednesday were described yesterday as being disrespectful and inappropriate.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the group's boldness at the function also constituted an insult to Islam.

The event was hosted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the Putra World Trade Centre.

Syed Hamid said that the group should have known better than to hamper the spirit and celebration of a religious occasion with a political message.

"If they wanted to join in the celebrations, that's fine. But they came wearing T-shirts of the same colour and making it very clear that they wanted to deliver a message to the prime minister.

"That crosses the line and is just unacceptable, especially at a public function.

"There are other days to voice their protest or send a message. There are other avenues to bring up their disagreements."

A group of Hindraf supporters brought a Hari Raya card and a teddy bear which they handed to Abdullah.

The card, delivered by Vwaishnnavi, the 5-year-old daughter of Hindraf leader in exile P. Waythamoorthy, urged Abdullah to release the movement's leaders detained under the Internal Security Act.

The group led by Waythamoorthy's wife K. Shanti had gathered outside the building at 11am.

They were later ushered into a dining hall but their request to meet Abdullah was denied.

The group then left and re-entered via an entrance meant for VIPs, where security personnel tried to restrict their entry.

A compromise was reached and the group was allowed to join the public queue to greet the prime minister about 2pm.

Abdullah accepted the card and teddy bear with a smile.

Also present were about 20 bloggers who wore T-shirts bearing "No to ISA" and "Free RPK", referring to the two-year ISA detention order on Malaysia Today editor, Raja Petra Kamaruddin.

Both groups told journalists that their sole intention at the function was to send a message to Abdullah.

Syed Hamid said Hindraf supporters should have emulated MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu who had met him several times to seek the release of Hindraf leaders.

"He asked me (on several occasions) if there was any way to speed up their release."

Syed Hamid said this was the first time in Malaysian history that a religious celebration had been tarnished by the extremism of a group.

"I don't want to see a repeat of this. I do not want a trend of people causing disturbances during Deepavali, Christmas, Chinese New or other cultural and religious celebrations."

He said investigations may be carried out to identify the masterminds behind Wednesday's incident.

Joining Syed Hamid in castigating Hindraf members was Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal who said the movement should know its limits.

"There are 26 million people in this country and others have problems too, not only Hindraf. There are Malays in Kamunting too, but you did not see anybody coming here on their behalf.

"Even though they (Hindraf) have their sympathisers, they shouldn't be doing this at (religious) festivals."

He said there were other platforms to send political messages or make requests.

Shafie said he would raise the matter in cabinet.

In Ipoh, the Gagasan Melayu Perak described the actions of Hindraf members as shameful.

Bernama quoted its president, Datuk Seri Mohd Helmi Ismail, as saying that they had gone overboard by taking their petition to Abdullah at the function.

He said the group's action in using children as a front every time they staged protests was "the work of cowards".

"The group is painting a negative picture in the minds of children as it is using them as a shield."

- nst

Gerakan to discuss call for EGM

KUALA LUMPUR: The call for Gerakan to have an extraordinary meeting (EGM) over whether the party should stay with Barisan Nasional will be discussed within the party, Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said.

He added that the call for the EGM was a suggestion by Kedah Gerakan Youth.

“They claim to have the support of three other states, but the three states said they have not come to the same position.

“Whatever it is, it will be discussed internally,” he told reporters yesterday during the Prime Minister’s Hari Raya open house at the Putra World Trade Centre.

“Since they said we should have a session together within a year, we still have some time to discuss internally.

“So let’s get the party delegates’ conference and elections over, and then we will move forward,” he said.

It was reported that the Gerakan Central Committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, had concluded that the party should call an EGM to discuss the calls for evaluating the party’s effectiveness in the Barisan.

- The Star

Wait for Abdullah to announce decision: Muhyiddin

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will announce the post he is going for once Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi states whether he wil defend his presidency or not.

Muhyiddin said he was waiting for a signal and clear indication from Abdullah before he declared the post to offer himself for.

Muhyiddin, who is tipped to be going for the party’s number two post, said it was unfair to assume that there would be a vacancy in the two top posts when the party holds its elections in March 2009.

“But whether members feel I am suitable for whatever posts, they will decide,” he told reporters Wednesday at the Hari Raya open house hosted by the Prime Minister and Muslim Cabinet minister at the Putra World Trade Centre.

On certain divisions already stating their intention to nominate Abdullah’s deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Muhyiddin for the top two posts in the party election, he said it was not against the party constitution for them to do that.

However, he said it was probably best to wait until Abdullah’s announcement within the next week. The divisions will start their meetings on Oct 9 and make nominations for posts that would be contested during the Umno general assembly in March.

“It means it has to be very clear so that the divisions will then get a signal to say they can nominate Najib, whether as president or will the post of deputy president be vacant. Of course people will say will you go in. All these will hinge upon the final statement (by Abdullah),” he said.

He said it was better for the divisions to wait rather than make assumptions based on an uncertainty.

The International Trade and Industries Minister also said that by analysis Abdullah’s decision to push the election to March 2009 was setting a new deadline for the transition plan to be implemented.

“By analysis, at that time he will hand over the position to Najib,” he said.

On Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s intention to make a second go at the party presidency whether or not Abdullah defends his post, he said Razaleigh had always been consistent in this stand.

“It is his prerogative. The subject is whether he will get the nominations and go through the hurdles. Umno is democratic and it is up to delegates (to decide) what they feel is best for Umno and the country,” he said.

- The Star

Selangor DAP says PR state government will keep promises

By Debra Chong

PETALING JAYA, Oct 2 – Selangor DAP today applauded the state government's swift move to suspend the deputy president of the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) pending further investigations into the demolition of a Hindu temple in Ampang last month.

Selangor DAP committee members from left (seated) Tee Boon Hock, Lee Kee Hiong, Tony Pua, Lau Weng San, Jenice Lee, Ramakrishnan; (standing) Michael Soon, M. Pulanthiran, Dr Cheah Wing Yin, Edward Pang, T. Kannan and M. Batumalai.

Hamid Hussain has been temporarily relieved of his authority for a week from Sept 30 after his superior Datuk Mohamad Yaacob identified him as the officer responsible for the directive to demolish the Sri Maha Kaliamman temple on Sept 11.

In a press conference held in its Taman Paramount office here today, state DAP secretary Lau Weng San hailed the move as proof that the Pakatan Rakyat-led state administration keeps its election pledges.

"We want to emphasise that PR and DAP will not renege on its promises made during the past general elections," said Lau, who is also the state assemblyman for Kampung Tunku.

He explained that the state government and the party had made clear its stand regarding places of worship, legal or otherwise, as far back as April – in that there would be no arbitrary demolition without the approval of the state's senior administration and the working committee on non-Muslim affairs helmed by state executive committee members Ronny Liu, Teresa Kok and Dr Xavier Jeyakumar.

"The Selangor state government and DAP will not stay silent if they find any civil servant has deliberately defied the policies of the Selangor state government, including taking disciplinary action to suspend them or to freeze their promotions," Lau added.

He also pointed out that the PR state government had approved 27 plots of land to be given to various religious organisations to built their places of worship within the state. Their leases last 99 years.

"The religious organisations only need pay a land premium of RM1,000 for the first year and subsequently a nominal fee of RM1 for quit rent," he said.

Seven of them have been reserved for Hindu temples while the other 20 are split between Chinese temples and churches. Each of them measure no more than 10,000 square feet, according to local council guidelines.

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua who was also present at the media conference, criticised the opposition Barisan Nasional, notably the MIC and MCA.

He asked if the MIC, which apparently owns a piece of land in Damansara Utama here, was willing to donate it to the demolished temple to enable them to relocate.

He also questioned the political parties if they would take to task the ex-menteri besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo who was allegedly behind the demolition of a Hindu temple in Padang Jaya near Klang but who continued to deny his involvement and refuse to apologise or initiate a settlement to the issue.

"If not, they are only politicising the issue and are not sincere to find a resolution to this issue," Pua said.

The other DAP state committee members present included national publicity secretary Tony Pua, Teratai assemblywoman Jenice Lee, Damansara Utama state assemblyman Dr Cheah Wing Yin and councillors from Kajang, Klang, Petaling Jaya and Sepang.

Lingam case judge gets notice to clear all cases

Friday, 03 October 2008

Datuk Abdul Kadir Musa ©New Straits Times
by V. Anbalagan

PUTRAJAYA: A High Court judge has been given until December to dispose of all outstanding cases, among them a suit to quash the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the controversial Lingam video clip.

Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff has given Datuk Abdul Kadir Musa (picture) two months' notice to complete partly-heard matters and deliver judgments.

Kadir is to be transferred to the High Court in Malacca, where he will begin duty on Dec 15.

His counterpart in Malacca, Datuk Wira Mokhtaruddin Baki, will sit in the Appellate and Special Powers Division, over which Kadir currently presides.
Mokhtaruddin has also been given a similar grace period for partly- heard cases.

The most prominent of Kadir's outstanding cases is the hearing of suits to quash the findings of a royal commission on the Lingam video clip.

Lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam, tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan, former minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and retired chief justices Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Tun Eusoff Chin had filed separate leave applications to set aside the commission's observations, made public on May 16.

The commission held that the clip showed Lingam in conversation over judicial appointments with Ahmad Fairuz, and that Lingam had asked Tan and Tengku Adnan to involve themselves actively in the appointment of judges.

Kadir is scheduled to hear submissions from lawyers on Oct 16.

Alauddin said sufficient time was given to the judges so they need not return to their previous stations to complete outstanding matters.

"I hope lawyers, too, will extend their cooperation so that the cases on trial will be heard and decided as scheduled," he said.

Meanwhile, the Bar Council welcomed Alauddin's decision to send an additional judge to the Appellate and Special Powers Division.

Judicial commissioner Mohamed Ariff Md Yusof has been assigned as the additional judge to the division.

The Bar's industrial court practice committee deputy chairman, Anand Ponnudurai, said the appointment would go a long way towards reducing the workload of the two existing judges.

"The judges can now distribute the heavy workload and reschedule early trial dates," he said.

On Aug 27, the New Straits Times reported that industrial cases which were registered this year could only be heard in 2015.

In another development, five other judicial commissioners have been posted to help clear the backlog of criminal and civil cases.

They are Datuk Noraini Abdul Rahman and Datuk Zura Yahya (Shah Alam), Datuk Hue Siew Kheng (Johor Baru), Datuk Ho Mooi Ching (Alor Star) and Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli (Kuching).

Abdullah - “to be or not to be”

For the past week and the next five days, the nation’s top question is the Shakespearean one: “To Be Or Not To Be.”

Will Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi shock Umno and Malaysians by acting completely out of character by announcing before October 9 that he has had enough of being pushed around by Umno heavyweights, that the ultimatum of the “926” Umno Supreme Council emergency meeting is the “last straw” and he will defend the post of Umno President in the March Umno party elections?

The overwhelming majority of Malaysians do not expect Abdullah to give such an answer to his Shakespearean dilemma of “To Be Or Not To Be” to defend the dignity of the office of Prime Minister from being publicly humiliated by party politicos – although there are Putrajaya fourth-storey boys who are urging him to do just that.

Even if Abdullah is to bow to the ultimatum of the Umno warlords and announce before Oct. 9 that he will not defend the post of Umno President and will step down as Prime Minister next March, let Abdullah not exit as a lameduck Prime Minister but write a glorious reform programme for police, judiciary, anti-corruption, ISA and press freedom in his last six months in office.

The least Abdullah should do is to redeem the failures of his many reform pledges in the past five years by carrying out a wide-ranging reform programme in five areas in his last six months in office, by ensuring that the following are accomplished before he leaves the Putrajaya corridors of power next March:

• Police – establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

• Judicial Appointments Commission and in the meanwhile, no appointment of an UMNO Chief Justice which will plunge the country into a new era of judicial darkness and scandal.

• Total revamp of the Anti-Corruption Agency and the anti-corruption legislation to set Malaysia on the path as one of the world’s least corrupt nations.

• Release Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the Hindraf Five and all other Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees and repeal the ISA; and

• Repeal Printing Presses and Publications Act and enact Freedom of Information Act to ensure a free and independent media to establish Malaysia as a cutting-edge information and knowledge nation.

Abdullah can make next Wednesday, October 8, a historic day by tabling in the Cabinet the six-month reform programme to commit every Minister to support and implement the reform measures before the end of his premiership next March.

Ministers who are not prepared to give unequivocal support to the six-month reform programme should be asked to resign from the Cabinet or be sacked, to be replaced by those who are prepared to make the next six months a memorable half-year in the 51-year history of the nation.

Syed Hamid gets fewer nominations - but wins

Some of you may have missed this news item, as it was just a small snippet in The Star:

Syed Hamid has won the Kota Tinggi Umno division head post uncontested - after the membership of his opponent, who actually secured more nominations, was suspended by the Umno disciplinary committee. It was 23-21 nominations in his opponent’s favour.

Syed Hamid wins uncontested
Compiled by V.P. SUJATA, LEE YUK PENG and A. RAMAN

HOME Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar won the Kota Tinggi Umno division head post uncontested after his challenger A. Malek A. Rahman’s membership was suspended, reported Utusan Malaysia.

Malek’s membership was suspended by the Umno disciplinary board chaired by Tengku Tan Sri Ahmad Rithaudeen Tengku Ismail for three years or one election term.

Prior to the suspension, Malek received 23 nominations and Syed Hamid 21 for the division head post.

Syed Hamid, who is also the MP of Kota Tinggi, said he hoped that the division would refrain from any act which could weaken the party.

He said the decision of the Umno disciplinary board enabled all Umno members in Kota Tinggi to look forward and serve the community.

Malaysia's elusive racial harmony

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — The Malaysian tradition of the open house during festive seasons is often cited as proof of how well its many races get along. But is it really proof of harmony?

One can't help but wonder since the country's Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar announced on Sept 18 that the government would soon draft a Race Relations Act to build tolerance and harmony in Malaysian society. That would include throwing into jail anyone who severed already frayed racial ties.

The proposal has already received much flak. Chinese politicians — Deputy Information Minister Datuk Tan Lian Hoe and incumbent MCA president Datuk Ong Ka Ting — said such an Act would be redundant and an unnecessary forcing of what needs to come about naturally.

Others, like political analyst Shamsul Amri Baharuddin of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, say the proposed Act is a knee-jerk attempt to deter racial bad-mouthing of the sort that might lead to racial riots.

Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal, who is working with Syed Hamid on the proposed Act, reinforced this view.

He told the New Straits Times on Sept 28 that the country needed such a law against anyone who "touched on" racial issues because there were currently "no provisions under any Act — the Sedition Act, even ISA (Internal Security Act). If you use it, people will say it's an abuse of power".

Ask the average Malaysian about recent instances of such badmouthing, and he could rattle off a whole raft of them.

Example: Penang politician Datuk Ahmad Ismail calling the country's Chinese "immigrants" who merely squatted in the country.

Then there was opposition MP Teresa Kok, who told reporters that the curry-and-egg meals she was given during her detention under the ISA late last month were "almost like dog food", although she stressed later that she had not referred to dogs as a way of being disrespectful to Muslims. The Malay press railed at her because, as they pointed out, eggs were vital nourishment for the country's poor, most of whom are Malays.

The proposed Act comes too late for Johor student Wee Meng Chee, who is being investigated under the Sedition Act for his rap titled Negaraku-ku, a play on the country's national anthem. Among other things, his rap likened the azan (Muslim call to prayer) to a morning call, and poked fun at lazy civil servants, more than 90 per cent of whom are Malay.

To look on the bright side, you could say it is better late than never, so the proposed Act is to be welcomed. But that is not to say that the law itself is going to solve Malaysia's racial problems, for it will not, not by a long shot. Malaysia needs to do far, far more if it is to truly foster national unity and racial harmony.

In the early 1980s, the government unleashed concerted patriotic song campaigns over national television and in national schools, drumming into every Malaysian's mind that whatever they wore, spoke or ate, they still lived under the same sky and belonged to a land that was for all.

Today, the patriotic shoe has shifted from a shared inheritance to one in which non-Malays are seen in some quarters as mere pendatang (Malay for immigrant) if they are not Malay or Muslim.

The big question is, just how Malaysian can Malaysians today be, really?

Fostering racial unity should start in school. There is no easy solution there, though, not when the country has five different school systems, mainly because each race insists on jealously guarding its language and culture.

Education Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein himself has driven a huge wedge into race relations by kissing the keris in public and vowing to use it against anyone who questioned Malay rights. He apologised for doing so after Barisan Nasional nearly lost this year's general elections.

Then there are the country's increasingly zealous Islamisation drives to contend with. They have led to the religious authorities in some states hauling up even Chinese courting couples — who were not Muslims — for khalwat (immorally close proximity) because they were canoodling in public.

And what of the Islamic affairs authorities pulling families apart by isolating Muslim family members from their non-Muslim kin, including driving apart spouses who have lived under one roof for more than 20 years?

Racial ire has been stoked further by the demolition of Hindu temples and Chinese war memorials by certain municipal authorities, sometimes without notice to the relevant communities.

Above all, it is Umno's framing of the relationship between the 13 million-strong Malay majority and the country's other races under the banner ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) that chafes at race relations the most.

With such unapologetic master-and-servant posturing, how is the justice and equality mentioned by Syed Hamid to be achieved among the many races, new Act or no new Act?

For now, it would seem that the only acceptable social leveller in Malaysia is an increasingly pro-Malay, pro-Muslim agenda.

If that is so, then perhaps open hearts and open minds, not open houses, are what Malaysia needs most if it is to enjoy continued peace and prosperity. — Straits Times