Share |

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ezam dakwa 6 kotak rasuah ada pada Anwar....

(Malaysiakini) - Bekas Ketua Pemuda PKR, Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor - yang terkenal dengan “enam kotak dokumen rasuah” melibatkan pimpinan Umno dan BN - mendakwa bukti-bukti itu tidak ada pada beliau, sebaliknya berada di tangan Penasihat PKR, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

khairy jamaluddin nalakaruppan ezam md noor ceramah 230808 07“Kalau ada pada saya, sudah tentu saya tunjukkan. Saya konsisten dengan perjuangan membenteras rasuah,” katanya kepada Malaysiakini hari ini.

Mohamad Ezam berkata, ketika masih bersama PKR, beliau pernah menyuarakan kepada Anwar supaya pemimpin nombor satu parti itu mendedahkan kandungan kotak-kotak itu, tetapi Anwar meminta beliau supaya “tunggu untuk (faedah) politik”.

“Saya tidak setuju. Itu antara sebabnya saya keluar PKR,” katanya, ketika diminta gesaan Pemuda PKR Terengganu supaya beliau mendedahkan kandungan kotak rasuah itu sewaktu berkempen dalam pilihanraya kecil Kuala Terengganu bulan depan.

Semalam, Ketuanya, Fariz Musa berkata, seluruh rakyat Malaysia pernah dimaklumkan Ezam - sewaktu menjadi ketua Pemuda PKR dahulu - bahawa beliau mempunyai enam kotak bukti rasuah dan penyelewangan Umno/BN.

Oleh itu, tegasnya, Kuala Terengganu merupakan medan terbaik bagi Ezam membuat pendedahan itu.

Fariz mendakwa perkara itu masih menjadi “rahsia yang masih ditutup oleh Ezam”.

Bagaimanapun, Ezam yang juga bekas setiausaha politik Anwar berkata, beliau telahpun tampil membuat penjelasan mengenai perkara itu dalam pilihanraya kecil Permatang Pauh Ogos lalu.

'Perjuangan konsisten'

Bagaimanapun, tambah Ezam, perkara itu tidak dijawab mantan bosnya, Anwar.

“Anwar sendiri yang tidak bongkarkan,” kata Ezam.

Menurutnya lagi, pada tahun 1999, ketika dipanggil memberikan keterangan berhubung dokumen dalam
kotak-kotak itu yang tergolong dalam kategori rahsia rasmi, perkara yang sama telah dijelaskan kepada polis bahawa “ianya disimpan oleh Anwar Ibrahim”.

Ezam berkata, perjuangan beliau menentang rasuah adalah konsistesten.

Tegasnya, jika mempunyai bukti, beliau akan tampil membuat pendedahan seperti dalam kes melibatkan dua tokoh terkenal Umno Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz dan Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik suatu ketika dahulu, sehingga beliau merengkok dalam penjara.

Mengulas gesaan Fariz semalam, Ezam berkata: “Sebaiknya beliau (Fariz) tutup mulut kalau tidak tahu hal sebenar.”

“Jangan cabar. Kalau saya jawab, kesannya akan langsung kena kepada Ketua Umum (Anwar).”

Ezam kini berada di Jakarta untuk menguruskan Yayasan Nusantara yang ditubuhkannya dan akan pulang berkempen dalam pilihanraya kecil Kuala Terengganu selepas penamaan calon 6 Januari depan.

What now, Malaysia?



How many shocks will it take for Barisan Nasional to realise that its days are numbered, unless it makes itself relevant to Malaysians?

MCPX

Only true-blue supporters are waiting for the answer.

Others have already moved on to the ‘new dawn’ held out by Pakatan Rakyat in the five states that it has administered since the general election on March 8.

The year’s unresolved issues, therefore, revolve around the ‘what now’ of political transition on both sides of the divide. And whether the hitherto silent - from plebian to royalty - can keep politicians in line.

Here are 10 unsolved cases of 2008. This list is by no means complete. And don’t expect answers anytime soon.

10 indian community micIndian Malaysians any better off?

Riding high on its successful 30,000-strong people’s rally in Kuala Lumpur the previous November, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) started the year on a high despite the absence of five detained leaders and its chairperson who went into self-imposed exile.

The awakening of the Indian Malaysians and their Makkal Sakthi strategy had a direct impact on the results of the general election - they abandoned BN in droves. However, Hindraf is now outlawed, leaving supporters to mainly target the release of its leaders.

MIC became almost irrelevant - veteran president S Samy Vellu lost his Sungai Siput seat which he had held since 1974 and, consequently, his place in the cabinet. He is trying to keep its grip on the community by rebranding the party as a people-centric one.

However, with the community no better off now, questions abound as to whether MIC can truly claim to represent it in the government.

09 mismanagement of government fundsScandals galore

Malaysiakini reported in July that two senior officials in government subsidiary Pempena Sdn Bhd were involved in scams that allegedly diverted millions of ringgit in tourism-development funds into private pockets.

It did not faze Tourism Minister Azalina Othman, who responded that internal auditors would probe allegations of corrupt practice in the company.

She was forced to reveal in Parliament that “some investments in the company are questionable”. A report released two weeks later revealed that the company had been making dubious investments that will have to be written off.

The report, though, was of limited value, failing to mention the RM10 million e-tourism portal.

The government also announced the purchase of 12 units of Eurocopter’s Cougar EC-725 choppers to replace the ageing fleet of Nuris at a cost that eventually settled at RM1.6 billion.

Mentari Services Sdn Bhd chairperson Capt (rtd) Zahar Hashim, the former UMNO Petaling Jaya Selatan division chief, exposed ‘irregularities’ in the deal and existence of a cheaper alternative.

The Public Accounts Committee jumped in to probe the matter. While it ruled out irregularities, it said there had been no physical examination of the goods - opposition MPs naturally demanded the release of the full report.

So far, all the government has done is to buy time by delaying the purchase until the economic situation permits it. The main questions posed by Zahar remain unanswered.

08 royalty supportRoyals check in

Better known for discretion in matters of politics and governance, the palace took active interest over the post-election appointment of the menteri besar in three states - Perlis, Perak and Terengganu.

A similar exercise of constitutional power was seen on Nov 26, when rulers of Selangor, Perak and Negri Sembilan expressed disapproval that the National Fatwa Council had issued a decree against yoga without consulting them in their capacity as heads of Islam.

Meanwhile, young royals chose to speak up on issues that their constituents were robustly debating.

Tengku Mahkota Kelantan Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra caused a stir with a speech on Malay unity and rights at a forum in Kuala Lumpur on April 12, leading to MCA president Ong Ka Ting and DAP chairperson Karpal Singh lodging police reports.

Perak Regent Raja Dr Nazrin Shah addressed several conferences, including the annual Conference of Malaysian Judges on April 9. His views on good governance, Malaysian unity and judicial renaissance won him plaudits.

However, citizens have been less enamoured with a request for immunity from civil and criminal proceedings to be restored to the royalty. It had been withdrawn in 1993.

It is also becoming a norm for groups to petition the royalty to resolve their grievances. But there’s an old story about Pandora’s Box that they would do well to remember.


07 islamIslam rattles the nation-state

Controversies over Islamic matters made the headlines almost every month this year.

It started with another tussle over the body of an individual who was said to have died a Muslim. This time, his relatives were able to persuade the Federal Court of the invalidity of the claim.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stated the need to ensure that such tussles do not recur, saying that non-Muslims should inform family members before converting to Islam.

The religion came into the picture again when about 100 Muslim groups called for Islamic teachings and practices to figure prominently in the election agenda of political parties.

Later in the year, it was disclosed that PAS had flirted with nemesis Umno over possible collaboration for Malay-Muslim unity, until PAS leaders reiterated their commitment to the policies espoused by the opposition coalition.

It did not help Pakatan when leading PKR member, Kulim-Bandar Baru MP Zulkifli Noordin, figured prominently in protests against a forum on religious conversions organised in August by the Bar Council.

The controversies mounted, as Muslim students described the school uniform worn by girls as being too sexy and the National Fatwa Council banned the practice of yoga among Muslims.

There is nothing to suggest that religion will not continue to be used to divide and rule.

06 ketuanan melayu and racismBattle to end ‘Malay supremacy’

The once-incontestable notion of ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) came under siege after voters sent out a clearest demand yet for a ‘new Malaysia’.

On April 15, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim alleged that Malay supremacy is only advocated by Umno leaders to enrich the elite and that ketuanan Rakyat (People’s supremacy) is the way to go.

Many ordinary Malays accepted his point of view, which has become a rallying call for increasingly resentful non-Malays.

Former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim agreed that the Malay supremacy concept has failed, and that an egalitarian form of democracy must be practised.

Kelantan Mentri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Abdul Mat pointed out that Islam is neutral and that Muslims who place nationalism and race ahead of religion are “disillusioned followers”.

Gerakan president Koh Tsu Koon noted that the right term for the special position of the Malays is kedudukan istimewa as stipulated in Article 153 of the federal constitution.

Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek insisted that ketuanan Melayu did not imply a master-slave relationship, but refers to the institution of the Malay monarchy.

When MCA deputy president Dr Chua Soi Lek said the concept is no longer relevant, he was investigated under the Sedition Act 1948.

The debate is far from over.


05 pak lah reformAbdullah’s lame duck ‘reforms’

For all his pledges of reform since November 2003, the premier delivered nothing at all to clean up the police force, return independence to the judiciary and add bite to the Anti-Corruption Agency.

This fed into the general election and unprecedented loss of faith in the premier, who will step down next March. Umno wanted him out earlier, but he wangled time to set key ‘reforms’ in place.

His two ‘reform’ Bills placed before Parliament were disappointing. The Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption Bill and Judicial Appointments Commission Bill revealed that the status quo will not change, but these were rushed through Parliament anyway.

In tandem with the Bills, proposals were tabled for a code of ethics for judges and for protection of witnesses.

Abdullah is due to re-table the watered-down Special Complaints Commission Bill in February but this is unlikely to be much more than another lame duck.

Premier-in-waiting Najib Abdul Razak will have a firm hand over the country’s most important institutions for accountability. What he will do with this is anybody’s guess.


04 bn futureBN searches for answers

No one expected the opposition parties to win big in the general election, least of all its own candidates. But it happened and parties in the ruling BN have been forced to see that they have to move with the times.

BN component parties realised quickly that UMNO had dragged them down, so they decided that they could no longer play second fiddle to the dominant party.

Gerakan president Koh Tsu Koon and MCA deputy president Dr Chua Soi Lek have told UMNO to discard its ketuanan Melayu mindset, if it hopes to regain non-Malay support.

Even MIC, seen as the most docile in the coalition, has been critical of UMNO and urged it to change its stance, especially in regard to the predicament of Indian Malaysians.

There was a hurricane in the east - Sabah’s Sapp declared that it no longer had confidence in the BN and threatened to pull out of the coalition if the federal government did not heed its complaints - and withdraw it eventually did.

PPP then threatened to leave BN if the loathed Internal Security Act is not amended substantially by the next election. The response was, in effect, ‘expect no change, do as you like’.

MCA, at its annual assembly, demanded a second deputy premier’s post for its president to assist in expediting reform and to allow its representatives to head cabinet committees.

BN chairperson and premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has hinted at a scheme to allow supporters to become direct members of the coalition, without going through component parties. This is to respond to restlessness against race-based politics among those who see themselves as Malaysian first and last.

Whether BN can really walk its talk remains uncertain, as does the outcome of its special meeting in February since decisions will depend on consensus being reached.

03 economyDoomsday scenario for the economy

The year started optimistically enough. In January, the Sabah development corridor was launched to add to the regional projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

There was confidence that the economy would maintain its momentum, with some predicting that the second half of the year would “outshine” the first half, due to the high prices of palm oil and mineral oil.

Financial troubles, however, were brewing in Europe, Japan and the US. At the end of the first quarter, government-linked research group MIER forecast lower growth of 5.4 percent compared to 6 percent earlier.

By July, Bursa Malaysia’s composite index had registered the worst performance in the Asia-Pacific region. The government cut back on fuel subsidies and tabled a ‘stimulus package’ to the disgust of opposition parties, which came up with their notions of how the economy should be managed.

Bad news has kept coming in from all corners of the world, with no end in sight. It will take joint action to work out solutions.

But BN leaders have taken their eyes off administration since March, to secure their political future.

The momentary relief brought on by dropping world crude oil prices has yet to filter through to the sale of goods and services. As anxiety levels go up over bread-and-butter issues - and possibly high oil prices again, something will have to give…


02 pakatan rakyat september 16 takeoverAnwar awaits new date with destiny

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim must regret having marked Sept 16 as the date for opposition Pakatan Rakyat to take over Parliament and Putrajaya and making extravagant promises.

The day came and went without the promised change of federal government, amidst high anticipation among his supporters and panic in the BN ranks.

It all began a month after Pakatan’s powerful showing in the general election. Anwar capitalised on discontent among MPs in BN, especially those from Sabah and Sarawak who felt their loyalty had not been adequately rewarded.

With 82 federal seats in opposition hands, Anwar put about the claim that he had the support of at least 31 defectors to topple the government. BN retorted that Anwar was bluffing and resorting to sneaky tactics to destabillise the administration.

The mind-games and spin-doctoring continued into September 16. When the day passed, Anwar blamed various factors for the failure to make good his claims and has since repeatedly said he is in “no hurry” to take over.

To date, the only ‘defections’ have been two Sabah Progressive Party MPs who became Independents when their party left BN after a vote of no-confidence.

Worse still, Pakatan is expected to lose one of its MPs after a disgruntled S Manikavasagam, its representative for Kapar, vowed to quit the party and join the growing number of Independents by December 31.

With 2009 stretching before him, Anwar can have his pick of dates on the new calendar if he does not want to wait for the next polls due by 2013. There’s also that secret “list of defectors” to reveal, if it exists.

01 umno pollsTesting times for UMNO and Najib

Ahead of the 12th general election, spray-painted messages in public places urged voters to choose ‘anyone but UMNO’. It was prompted by fury over the arrogance of the Malay-based party, with even its BN partners.

UMNO paid dearly for this in the polls, triggering an instant demand for accountability that led to the door of party president and premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. He was told to go, despite his plan to hand over power to deputy Najib Abdul Razak in mid-2010.

The beleaguered Abdullah then brought forward his departure and also said he will not defend his post during the UMNO polls in March. Najib then won the presidency uncontested and, by convention, will become prime minister.

But the public finger-pointing by leaders and members has revealed serious fissures that have left the party’s future open to question. Both long-serving and younger leaders are impatient to step into slots being vacated - or which they feel should be vacated sooner rather than later.

A divided and unrepentant UMNO will see support being further eroded within and without BN.

All eyes are now on Najib and whether he will be able to pull off the party’s great escape - that is, if his lieutenants don’t turn against him.


Reports prepared by the Malaysiakini team.

New Year’s Eve celebration tonight has been cancelled!

As I sit here smoking my cigar while monitoring the news on the mainstream media I can’t help but feel extremely nauseous. What crap our government is spewing out. I have totally lost my merriment mood and hereby declare by royal decree that the New Year’s Eve celebration tonight has been cancelled.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Mediators to ease tensions
Volunteers to defuse religious, racial disputes in their neighbourhoods


Malaysia's government plans to train special mediators to resolve disputes between neighbours of different races in a bid to prevent communal tensions in the ethnically diverse country, officials said yesterday.

About 300 volunteer community representatives will undergo mediation courses next month as part of the government's efforts to curb racial and religious friction, said Datuk Azman Amin Hassan, director-general of the National Unity and Integration Department.

'They will be residents who can talk to both sides in a dispute to defuse racial problems,' he said.

The authorities have acknowledged that racial polarisation has increased in recent years, even though the Malay Muslim majority still has generally amicable relations with the large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities, who are mainly Buddhists, Christians and Hindus.

Malaysia has not suffered major ethnic violence since 1969, when riots fuelled partly by Malay rancour over Chinese wealth left more than 200 people dead. Nevertheless, grievances between ethnic communities have occasionally sparked bloodshed. A dispute between Malays celebrating a wedding and their Indian neighbours who held a funeral at the same time prompted violence that killed six people near Kuala Lumpur in 2001. But in a country where politicians often take charge when racial or religious tensions arise, or are sometimes accused of being the cause of the tensions, it is unclear where the mediators will fit in.

The plan is believed to be the first time that Malaysians are to be formally trained to handle disputes involving different communities and religious groups.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said recently his mission before retirement was to cool racial and religious tensions. 'I am thinking of how to handle the issue of race relations and the issue of religious tensions,' he said two weeks ago. 'Muslims think from their own perspective. Non-Muslims think from their own perspective.'

He had suggested setting up an institution 'where all communities' could take their grievances. The answer could also lie in legislation, clarifying grey areas in laws on religious disputes, he said.

Sociologist Wan Abdul Halim Othman, who will train the mediators, said the programme will initially be implemented in urban areas where the risk of racial disputes is relatively high because multi-ethnic residents live alongside one another. 'We need neutral mediators who can prevent the usual conflicts between neighbours from accumulating and transforming into ethnic problems,' he said. 'In disputes involving different ethnic groups, people...tend to take sides based on race, but nobody mediates.'

The programme will initially be rolled out in Kuala Lumpur, and in Selangor, Penang and Johor states. If successful, it will be implemented nationwide.

Ethnic divisions have deepened amid increasing complaints by minorities about special privileges enjoyed by Malays in jobs, education and other areas. Some also say their religious rights have become secondary to Islam. The government has denied any unfair treatment. - AP

***************************************

Election system needs to be reviewed, says Abdul Rashid

Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said the country’s election system need to be reviewed to give it autonomous power and total control over the election process, the media included. - Bernama

***************************************

Police report lodged against blog

MARAN: The district Umno Youth lodged a police report on the existence of a blog containing insults of Prophet Muhammad, which had stirred anger among Muslims.

State Deputy Criminal Investigation Department Chief Superintendent Mohd Haris Daud said the report was lodged on Saturday by the movement's vice-head Hairul Amin Othman, 33, at the district police station at 3.45pm.

Haris said the movement felt it should fight for Islamic rights as the blog owner had insulted Prophet Muhammad. He said police would carry out investigations under the Sedition Act. - NST

***************************************

First, let me talk about Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman’s comment. He said he is going to sue opposition leaders who slander him. Well, maybe Rashid can reflect on the many official meetings the opposition leaders had with him over the last ten years in his office in Putrajaya. I was there, in case Rashid would like to know, and let me remind him how disastrous those meetings turned out to be.

The main grievance was with regards to postal voters. Why do we still need the police and armed forces to vote by post when they are no longer located in the deep jungles of Malaysia for nine months at a stretch? They are all now located in their barracks or quarters and the polling stations are within walking distance from where they live.

All they need to do is walk a few minutes to the polling stations to cast their vote. And they need not do this five days before Polling Day and by post like now. If not because of the postal votes, the opposition would have won all 11 Parliament seats in Kuala Lumpur instead of only 10 like it did on 8 March.

Rashid’s reply to the proposal to abolish the postal voting system is that if they do that then none of the cabinet ministers would be able to retain their seats. When the shocked assembly asked Rashid is not the purpose of the Election Commission to ensure that they run a fair and free election, he shocked the assembly even further by retorting that the purpose of the Election Commission is to ensure that the Malays do not lose political power.

The Malaysian election system is rife with fraud and manipulation. The gerrymandering is preposterous and makes a mockery of democratic elections. Rashid, sue me. Take me to court. I am waiting to meet you in court so that I can reveal all the evidence we accumulated since 1999 about how you have fucked up the election system so bad that, last year, I actually appealed to the opposition to boycott the elections.

I am glad they did not do as I suggested though because 8 March 2008 proved the people were so disgusted and wanted change so bad that the 'big swing' managed to offest the cheating. But imagine if there was no cheating. Today, with a mere 300,000 votes more, Pakatan Rakyat would have formed the federal government. Yes, Pakatan Rakyat missed forming the government by a mere 300,000 votes. The postal votes alone, had they not been all mysteriously marked ‘Barisan Nasional’, would have given Pakatan Rakyat the federal government.

Rashid, you robbed Malaysians of a new government and I hope they have a special hell for people like you.

In 2004, the general election that saw Barisan Nasional perform its best ever, many seats like Kuala Terengganu, Kuala Selangor, etc., saw a 130% voter turnout. The national voter turnout averaged 75% or so. But many opposition strongholds fell to Barisan Nasional because of the more than 100% voter turnout.

What about the hundreds of Indians from Telok Kemang registered as voters in many kampong houses in Ijok during the Ijok by-election? What about the man voting as a woman whom we caught in Putrajaya and who was still allowed to vote, as much as we protested? What about the hundreds of voters having their residential address at graveyards? ‘Pengundi hantu’ maybe? These are but some of the many cases and let me assure you we have much, much more.

So, sue me Rashid. Take me to court, you slime-ball, scumbag and poor excuse for a human, and let all these details surface in my trial. I eagerly await your Writ of Summons.

Next, on the police report made by those Umno cronies against that Blog, which is alleged to have insulted the Prophet. I too made police reports, but which were totally ignored. One police report was with regards to the assault I suffered at the hands of the Criminal Investigation Department head, Bakri Zinin, the gangster in uniform. He beat me up in front of my wife and six other Reformasi activists on Hari Raya Haji Day in 2001.

I was asked about my police report during my ISA detention in 2001 and I told the Special Branch officers that Bakri had the assistance of more than ten other police officers when he beat me up. I then threw a challenge that I would meet Bakri for a one-to-one fight. He is very brave when assisted by ten police officers, I retorted. Meet me for a one-on-one and let’s see if he is still that brave. I was prepared to fight him to the last man standing and I promised that it would be between him and me and, come what may, I will not make it a police case.

Either the Special Branch did not deliver that message to Bakri or he did not dare accept my one-to-one challenge. Anyway, he later arrested another of my friends who was selling Harakah on the streets and my unfortunate friend was handcuffed and thrown into the police lockup.

Bakri subsequently entered the lockup and tried to punch my friend. My friend managed to block the punch and gave Bakri a kick between his legs and got him right on his balls. Bakri went limping out of the lockup, groaning in pain. My friend ended up two weeks in the lockup but he was satisfied like hell and did not mind even if it was two months.

My second police report was against Jakim. Jakim was one of those who got me detained under the ISA recently on grounds that I had insulted Islam and the Prophet. But the government does not allow the ISA detainees to perform their Friday prayers and this was the basis of my police report.

The minister, however, said that ISA detainees and prisoners are not allowed to perform Friday prayers. In the US, prisoners are allowed to perform Friday prayers. Yes, that’s right. In the ‘kafir’ US, prisoners perform their Friday prayers, but not in ‘Islamic’ Malaysia.

Now that is an insult to Islam and the Prophet, a real insult. Why aren’t these ‘Muslims’ perturbed about this? In fact, the highest conversion rate to Islam is in the US prisons. Many prisoners, especially Blacks, become Muslims in prison. This is because Islam is well propagated in the US prisons. But not in Malaysia. In Malaysia you are not even allowed to do Friday prayers.

Finally, on the matter of race relations. One of the charges of my ISA detention was an article I was alleged to have written that said the mosques propagate hate in their sermons. (See what prison has taught me? I now use the term ‘alleged to have written’ so that they can’t use this article to say I admit I wrote that article and then come get my arse, yet again).

My Special Branch interrogators took me to task on this article (which I don’t admit writing, may I add, though it carries my name) and said I am causing racial tensions.

Hey, I replied, the loud speakers blast the Friday prayer sermons for all and sundry to hear. You mean to say the non-Malays do not hear what the imams preach? If the government is worried about race relations then get the mosques to stop these hate sermons. Anyway, is not what I was alleged (note ‘alleged’) to have written true?

The Special Branch officers admitted that it is true but that is not the issue. The issue is I should not have written about it as this may upset the non-Malays and may trigger racial problems.

Aiyoh, the non-Malays already know that Umno, the government, government-controlled mosques, Umno-backed Malay NGOs, and so on, are racists and spread hate, I argued. Whatever I write or do not write is not going to change anything. If the government wants to avoid racial problems then the government should first take the lead and make racism a crime.

Forget about these so-called ‘mediators’ that the government is proposing. It will not solve the problem. The same day that the government proposed these mediators, the Umno-backed Malay NGOs organised a demonstration of a couple of thousand to protest the non-Malays ‘questioning Malay right and privileges’. You think the plan is going to work? Everyone knows that the government and Umno are not sincere about improving race relations. This is just a move to court the 8,000 Chinese voters in Kuala Terengganu.

If you really want to solve the problem then introduce a Race Relations Act in the coming session of Parliament. Make it a crime under the new RRA for anyone who makes a racist statement and punishable with a RM20,000 fine or three year jail term or both. And start indicting some people under the RRA. That will solve the problem.

I know we can’t legislate conduct. I, for one, am against legislating conduct. We need to educate people into behaving properly, not put people who misbehave into jail. But let this be the first step. Then we educate people. We must teach people to be ashamed that they are racist. Only when we are ashamed of being a racist will we stop being one. Meanwhile, until we can educate them, send them to jail first.

Ban the word Bumiputera. Abolish the need to fill in your race and religion in all forms, applications, etc. Why the need to fill in ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’ in all the forms? Just have ‘warganegara” or nationality (Malaysian or foreigner).

Ban the use of the word ‘pendatang’ for Chinese, Indians and whatnot. How can they be pendatang when they are all born in Malaysia? And why do we say ‘Malay’ and ‘non-Malay’ (or ‘Muslim’ and non-Muslim)? Are the Malays (or Muslims) the ‘benchmark’ while all those who do not fit in to ‘Malay’ (or ‘Muslim’) became ‘non’?

Can you imagine in the US all whites being called ‘White’ and others are called ‘non-White’? Or maybe ‘Christians’ and ‘non-Christians’? I mean, since White-Christians are the majority in the US, then all non-White-Christians should be ‘non’ or classified as ‘immigrants’ (pendatang), just like how we do it in Malaysia.

No, no need for this new ‘mediator’ to be set up. Malaysians can live with each other and not hate each other as long as the government does not become the catalyst for bad race relations, like what is happening now. It is the government and Umno that are spreading hate. What we need is a government and political party in power that knows how to respect all Malaysians and treat all Malaysians as one. That is the root of the problem. And we can’t solve this problem by creating ‘mediators’ when the mediators themselves are racists.

Oh, and maybe we should also ban same-race marriages. By law you must marry outside your race. In 20 years time the majority of Malaysians would no longer be Malays, Chinese, Indians or whatever. They will all become ‘rojak’ like me. And my children are even more rojak with my wife being Thai-Chinese. Now I am a Rojak with a Kojak hairstyle. And see what a delightful chap I turned out to become?

Govt on ‘holiday’, Mahathir on attack

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has come up with an original way to attack Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi without even mentioning his name.

Dr Mahathir continued his long running feud with the hapless Abdullah by citing the long Christmas break that could be stretched to the New Year because of other public holidays in between and using that to wonder who was manning the ship.

“What about work?” asked the former premier in his blog yesterday. “Not to worry. During that time the government... will be on automatic. We are on the ground, we will not crash. It shows that we don’t really need a government. It will just coast along even if no one is steering it. That is how good we have become at governing.”

The continuing jibes illustrate Dr Mahathir’s deeply held resentment against his handpicked successor although his criticism has long become academic.

Abdullah has already signalled his retirement by declining to stand as a candidate in elections for party posts in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) that’s slated for March 2009.

On another level, however, Dr Mahathir’s comments resonate with many foreign investors who have criticised the many public holidays in Malaysia as a waste of time, productivity and money: keeping factories running would mean extra overtime payments which are required by law.

Malaysia has 13 gazetted public holidays but the 13 individual states have also powers to declare additional mandatory holidays. Standout example: the four states of Johor, Kedah, Perlis and Terengganu have a total of 17 public holidays.

Even so, Malaysia does not have the distinction of having the most public holidays. That goes to Thailand (24) followed by Hong Kong (18), Japan (15) and Indonesia (14). By way of contrast, Singapore has 11, one more than China and the United States. — Business Times Singapore

Dr M, The Insider’s Malaysian of the Year

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — Equally loved and loathed, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad might have retired from public life five years ago but 2008 has seen his greatest impact on Malaysian life for him to become The Malaysian Insider’s “Malaysian of the Year”.

In a year of change, many could have easily taken that accolade — ranging from Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who capped 10 years of political wilderness with a hair’s-breadth chance of finally becoming Prime Minister to the Malaysian voter who reminded the politicians “who’s the boss”.

But Dr M — he of the sarcasm and smirk — made 2008 all his own. Revered or reviled, he recovered from illness last year to remonstrate the government, regain his momentum against successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, resign from Umno, revive Mahathirism, repudiate his critics and rejuvenate his son Datuk Mukhriz’s chances of being Umno Youth chief.

Beyond the pulpit of public office, Mahathir is still widely popular despite being without a party. Legions of fans and supporters have continued to praise him for his stand, thoughts and ideas for the country and the world.

His eight-month-old www.chedet.com blog has received some 10 million visitors with more bouquets than brickbats. Others have simply dismissed him as an old man whose time has gone by and he should just retire in peace.

But his influence has grown even beyond the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) electoral pact put together by his one-time protege Anwar. He told people to vote in a strong opposition but later blamed Barisan Nasional’s unprecedented election losses on a weak leadership. He has castigated, criticised and cut down Umno leaders and former political allies to size, without fear or favour.

Proving that age has not dimmed his memory nor withered his caustic tongue, Mahathir has single-handedly and single-mindedly hounded Abdullah out office prematurely — using a combination of his wildly popular blog, public appearances and media interviews that finally prompted Umno to ungraciously unseat his somnambulist successor.

His reasoning is simple, underscored by the second blogpost — “As for my criticisms of the leaders of the present Government, I believe I have every right to do so. Retiring from the Government simply means giving up authority and power. It does not mean I must abdicate my role as a citizen.”

The second last posting said even more when Mahathir commented on a stretch of public holidays which for some is a happy confluence of the Islamic and Gregorian calendars.

“It shows that we really don’t need a Government. It will just coast along even if no one is steering it. That is how good we have become at governing,” he said with his trademark sarcasm without even referring to Abdullah.

His tireless tirade against Abdullah culminated with his May 19 resignation from Umno Baru, which he founded in 1988. Mahathir has yet to rejoin Umno despite Abdullah set to hand over Putrajaya to the party’s president-elect Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, whom he has also called a weak leader.

Focusing on the ruling coalition and accusing the opposition of collusion with Abdullah, Mahathir’s constant carping and criticisms helped to chip away support for Barisan Nasional and awakened the people to the possibility of change in the country.

Not quite the result that he wanted but the ends justified the means.

Although he, like many other Malaysians, has complained about the lack of freedom of expression to criticise the government, Mahathir has personally stifled dissent, brooking no opposition to his thoughts and ideas — the short side of Mahathirisim where prosperity flourished while freedom decayed.

For him, the change should be towards Mahathirism which a growing number do believe is the salvation for the country, fondly recalling the steady hand and calm mind in both the 1987/88 and 1997/1998 financial crises.

For others, dismantling his legacy cannot start soon enough although it has proven difficult against this man who ruled for 22 years and united people for and against him, even beyond the pale of Putrajaya, where he sits in his Nehru jacket in an exact replica of his Prime Minister’s Office — writing, reading and reiterating his way of life.

All said and done, Mahathir’s shadow looms large and he continues to exert a great influence in Malaysia, for better or worse, and has no equal as 2008’s Malaysian of the Year.

Say ‘no’ to plastic bags

While the rest of the world is moving towards bans on the free distribution of plastic bags, supermarkets in Malaysia are still happily dishing out such bags, which are an environmental nightmare.

Why are we so gung-ho about plastic bags and what is preventing the authorities from asking supermarkets to stop freely giving out plastic bags and instead encouraging customers to use reuseable cloth or jute bags? Is it a case of apathy or is the ‘plastics lobby’ in Malaysia so strong?

Our landfills, rivers, streams and drains are clogged with plastic bags of all sorts. Then, there are all those “mineral” water bottles.

Even at the local corner shop or hawker stalls, we can say no to plastic bags and bring our own reuseable bags or containers instead.

But be careful of certain reuseable bags that are not exactly environmentally friendly.

This article from National Geographic News:

Plastic-Bag Bans Gaining Momentum Around the World
John Roach
for National Geographic News
April 4, 2008

From Australia to the U.K., and all across the U.S., politicians and corporations are pondering banning or taxing plastic bags.

A hefty surcharge that began in 2003 in Ireland has spurred the public there to spurn plastic bags almost completely in favor of reusable cloth totes.

Plastic sacks are also taxed in Italy and Belgium. Grocery shoppers must pay for the bags in Switzerland, Germany, and Holland. Spain, Norway, and now the U.K. are considering a ban or tax as well.

The political action in the U.K. on single-use plastic bags follows similar gestures earlier this year in Australia.

There a national ban or tax is being hotly debated, though the state of South Australia, which includes the city of Adelaide, has promised a ban on free single-use bags by year’s end no matter what.

The state’s premier, Mike Rann, listed familiar reasons for the ban: The bags contribute to greenhouse gases, clog up landfills, litter streets and streams, and kill wildlife.

Banished Bags

Unsightly pollution appears to be behind China’s January announcement of a countrywide ban on the thinnest totes and a tax on others. It begins June 1, two months before the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Taiwan taxes the bags, and the cities of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Mumbai, India, ban them to prevent flood-inducing storm-drain clogs during monsoon season.

Once jokingly called the “national flower,” thin plastic bags have been banned in South Africa since 2003; thicker ones are taxed. Similar measures exist in Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.

In the U.S., the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, California, ban the bags and promote reusable and compostable sacks. Elsewhere in the state supermarkets are required to take back and recycle the bags.

Full article here.

Malaysia at new crossroads – unite as one people to withstand the worst effects of the global economic tsunami

    2009 New Year Message

2008 is the year of the political tsunami in Malaysia – with five state governments under Pakatan Rakyat, the end of two-thirds parliamentary majority of Barisan Nasional and a totally new national mindset where the toppling of the Umno-Barisan Nasional coalition government at the national level is no more impossible or unthinkable but eminently possible and a matter of time.

In 2009, the world expects the worst economic tsunami in 80 years wreaking even greater economic devastation world-wide than that caused by the global financial crisis this year which had already plunged the United States, Europe and Japan into recession and slowed down world economic growth - and the two great economic powerhouses, China and Japan, will not be spared.

Malaysia is at a new crossroads. We have lost our way after half-a-century of nationhood as illustrated by the tragic fact that the objective of a Bangsa Malaysia as proclaimed in Vision 2020 has become a subject of discord rather than concord among Malaysians and our continued slippage in international competitiveness whether in terms of university rankings, corruption perception indices, human rights or good governance ratings.

The year ended with Parliament passing two reform bills aimed to restore confidence in the independence and integrity of key institutions of the country, to eradicate corruption and to restore an independent and impartial judiciary, but under great national cynicism that there is the real political will to carry out these reforms.

Such cynicism were only reinforced when nothing was revealed in the so-called “tell all” press conference into the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone bail-out scandal after the reforms bills were passed.

The great challenge facing Malaysia in the coming year is whether Malaysians can unite as one Malaysian people to withstand the worst effects of the global economic tsunami in the coming year and regain our lost ground in the international competitiveness stakes to forge a united, just, progressive, caring and meritocratic nation.

HINDRAF – Wishing a Happy New Year 2009 to all Malaysians

http://www.topnews.in/files/P-Waytha-Moorthy.jpg

Let HINDRAF, take this opportunity to wish you, your family and friends best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2009.

HINDRAF would like to pay tribute to all HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS - those who had faced adversity and being continuously subject to various methods of systematic discrimination and marginalization practiced by the present UMNO led government as these true children of the nation have persevered through their struggle directly and indirectly to create the awareness and truly have awaken the nation.

HINDRAF hold fundamental for democracy, for openness, and co-existence of races irrespective of race or religion and their differences. However, exploitation of race and religion by various sectors seems to be the main agenda of the UMNO led government and its agent provocateurs.

The government through its mechanism continues to suppress the general will of the nation that is calling for fundamental changes. This is taking place, and HINDRAF's demand for change, transformation for a return of human values for the Malaysian Indians can no longer be suppressed nor contained as it has transpired to become the foremost demand of the general public.

In 2008, our comrades were highlighting the oppressed state of the Indians through rallies, petitions and various diplomatic approaches locally and internationally which has been chastised by tyranny of the UMNO lead government. So have other organization and individuals of the Malaysian society who had faced the backlash of the UMNO tyranny. However, HINDRAF's reasoning and spirit are undeterred as we step into 2009.

Confident, resolute and without fear for the truth and reality, HINDRAF will forge ahead with new strategies, along with its allies both locally and internationally to spearhead the cause for the systematically marginalized and discriminated Malaysian Indians.

These activities in 2009 to be coordinated by HINDRAF will involve extensive coverage in the international arena in North America, Europe, and Asia as well as domestically.

HINDRAF is thankful for the support it has received and shall contribute with all its strength to push forward the necessary changes to ensure that the reforms in the society would lead to a fairer social and economic equality for the Malaysian Indians as well as the rest of the nation.

HINDRAF again takes this opportunity to wish all Malaysians a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Waytha Moorthy

HINDRAF – Chairman

Olmert: Airstrikes, blockade merely 'first stage' in Gaza

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Israel's fourth day of attacks in Gaza sent the Palestinian death toll to more than 375 as the Jewish state's prime minister warned Tuesday that the air offensive marked only the beginning, according to officials.

A Palestinian man surveys a Hamas government compound after an Israeli airstrike Tuesday.

A Palestinian man surveys a Hamas government compound after an Israeli airstrike Tuesday.

"We are currently at the first stage of the operation," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told President Shimon Peres during a morning briefing, according to officials.

Olmert's summation came a day after Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel's parliament that the campaign launched Saturday marked an "all-out war" against Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza.

However, an official in the Defense Ministry said Barak would consider a proposal for a two-day truce to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. Barak would bring the issue up Tuesday with Olmert, the official said.

Earlier, an Israeli military official denied a truce was in the works, and Mark Regev, Olmert's spokesman, said he was aware of no such proposal.

The Israeli military says it is targeting only Hamas militants, which it says are responsible for a recent barrage of rocket fire into southern Israel. Palestinian parliament member Mustafa Barghouti, however, has called the raids a "war on the Palestinian people" and said the incursion is politically motivated.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this is not the case and insists Israel is trying to pinpoint militants.

He said of Hamas, "They are committed to our destruction. They're firing missiles at our civilians. They're hiding behind their civilians. That's a double war crime right there."

He declared Israel amid a "grave crisis" and said he believes that "down the line, we'll have to bring down the Hamas regime."

Netanyahu will vie again for the prime ministerial post in February, against Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Barak, another former prime minister.

The United Nations has called for both sides to end the violence, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has roundly condemned both sides -- Hamas for the rocket fire, and Israel for its "excessive use of force" in retaliating.

Three civilians and a soldier have been killed by rockets landing in southern Israel since the campaign began Saturday.

Though Palestinian medical sources say that most of the 375 people killed in Gaza were Hamas militants, U.N. officials said at least 60 civilians were among the dead.

Hamas security sources and Palestinian medical sources said two girls, ages 4 and 11, were killed early Tuesday in an Israeli airstrike as they rode in a donkey-driven cart in Beit Hanoun.

The IDF said it was checking the report.

Israel bombed a Hamas government compound early Tuesday, leveling at least three structures, including the foreign ministry building, eyewitnesses and Hamas security sources said.

A Gaza-based journalist, whose name was withheld for security reasons, said that he heard 18 blasts in the area and that two fires were burning at the compound.

More bombs continued to drop over Gaza throughout the day.

In the Mediterranean Sea, an Israeli patrol vessel struck a boat carrying medical volunteers and supplies to Gaza early Tuesday as it attempted to intercept the vessel, witnesses and Israeli officials said.

CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul was aboard the 60-foot, Gibraltar-registered Dignity when the incident happened in international waters about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor called allegations that the boat was deliberately rammed "absurd" and countered that the volunteer vessel was trying to outmaneuver the Israeli boat.

Despite the blockade and the airstrikes targeting hundreds of Hamas targets, there was no indication of a ground operation in Gaza, but Israel has tanks on the territory's periphery and voted this week to call up 2,000 reserve soldiers.

Israel has allowed dozens of trucks carrying relief supplies into Gaza. Also, the Rafah border crossing to Egypt was opened temporarily Tuesday to allow aid workers and medical supplies into Gaza and to transport injured Palestinians to hospitals in Al Arish, about 19 miles from the border, Egyptian journalist Shahira Amin said.

Doctors in Al Arish said they were treating 36 wounded Palestinians, at least six of whom were critically injured and being transferred to a hospital in Cairo, Egypt, for treatment. More patients were expected to arrive Tuesday, the doctors said.

Militants in Gaza have fired more than 70 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel since Monday, the IDF reported. At least 180 rockets have been launched into Israel since the campaign began, according to Israeli sources.

On Tuesday, two rockets damaged buildings in Sderot, and a third rocket landed in a cemetery, wounding one person, Israeli medical services and the military reported.

Hamas pledges it will defend its land and people from what it calls continued Israeli aggression. Each side blames the other for violating an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire. The truce formally expired December 19, but it had been weakening for months.

In a statement issued by his office, Peres said the ongoing shelling by Hamas "defies reason and logic, and it doesn't stand a chance."

"There isn't a person in the world who understands what the goals of Hamas are and why they continue to fire rockets," Peres said.

Suhakam wants police to apply law consistently

(The Sun) Police should be consistent and neutral in applying the law, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said.

"The law does not differ from state to state," he said after receiving a memorandum from Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Oppressed People’s Network) or Jerit today.

Speaking at a press conference at the Suhakam office, Siva Subramaniam said the memorandum would be submitted to the commission next month.

He said Suhakam had sent a letter dated Dec 17 to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan after it received a memorandum from Jerit on Dec 10, and was awaiting a reply. The commission would also hear the police’s view of the matter, he said.

In today’s memorandum, which was presented to the commission by Jerit co-ordinator M. Sarasvathy, Jerit described "misuse of power" by police through-out its cycling campaign "Cycling for change", which began from Alor Star, Kedah on Dec 3 and Skudai, Johor on Dec 6, ending at the Parliament building on Dec 18.

Jerit is demanding the abolition of the Internal Security Act, legislation to provide a minimum wage for workers, comfortable homes for the poor, an end to the privatisation of water, electricity, hospitals and public facilities, price controls on basic goods and the restoration of local government elections.

It has urged Suhakam to hold a public inquiry into police handling of the campaign with regard to the following aspects – human rights, children’s rights, the right to provide information and the right to free movement.

In its memorandum, Jerit claims that the police used varying interpretations of the law in different states. It listed in chronological order, events involving the police throughout the campaign.

Also present at the press conference were Jerit spokesman S. Arutchelvan and coordinator R. Moharani.

Identified: People linked to blog insulting the Prophet

By Chan Li Leen, The Star

The police have identified several people who could be responsible for a blog allegedly containing insults against the Prophet Muhammad.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar, however, did not disclose details of the suspects and merely said that investigations were still ongoing.

“We have a special team under the commercial crime director which is investigating the matter.

“And we are working closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission,” Ismail told reporters at the Northern Brigade General Operations Force in Ulu Kinta on Tuesday.

He further revealed that police also found out that the server used was located outside the country.

“It is quite a daunting task for us,” he added.

Ismail had earlier presented berets to 31 officers of the Special Action Squad and 17 VAT 69 commandos who successfully completed their training.

Pahang police, meanwhile, received a report on the existence of the blog.

State Criminal Investigation Department deputy chief Supt Mohd Haris Daud said the report was lodged on Saturday by Maran Umno Youth vice head Hairul Amin Othman at the Maran police headquarters.

“We will investigate the matter,” he told reporters.

He said the investigation would be carried out under the Sedition Act.

Opening the door to your heart

In the run-up to the 8 March 2008 general election, PAS, PKR, DAP, PRM, MDP, PASOK and PSM endorsed the People’s Declaration or Deklarasi Rakyat, which was launched by the civil society movements at the Blog House in Bukit Damansara in Kuala Lumpur.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

The title of my piece today is 'borrowed' from the book, ‘Opening the door to your heart’, by Ajahn Brahm, a Buddhist monk. In the first chapter of the book, called ‘Two bad bricks’, Ajahn talks about how he built his first wall. It is very difficult, of course, for one with no bricklaying experience, Ajahn lamented, and he challenged the readers to try building one. Nevertheless, he finally completed the wall and stepped back to admire his handiwork.

To his horror he noticed that two of the bricks were crooked and he felt these two ‘bad bricks’ spoiled the appearance of the wall. He then asked the abbot for permission to tear the wall down and to start all over again. The abbot, however, told him to leave it as it is. Since then Ajahn felt ashamed of his shoddy workmanship.

One day, a visitor visited their monastery and expressed admiration for how the monks had built it from scratch with their own hands and without any outside expert help. Ajahn pointed out that the monastery was actually far from perfect because one of the walls had two bad bricks. The visitor replied that he did not notice it because all he saw was the 998 good bricks, not the two bad ones.

It suddenly dawned upon Ajahn that all this while he was upset about the two bad bricks without noticing the 998 good ones. And to think he actually wanted to tear the wall down because of these two bad bricks while not realising he would be destroying 998 good bricks in the process.

Yes, many see half a glass of water as being half empty rather than half full. And that is also how we see people and situations. We only notice and become concerned about the two bad bricks while totally overlooking the 998 good ones.

And how do we see PAS (the Islamic Party of Malaysia)? Do we see it for the blunder that Husam Musa made during his recent debate with Khairy Jamaluddin or do we see the 998 good bricks in PAS? Husam blundered big time with his retort on Hudud -- thanks to the very clever Khairy who trapped Husam into a corner that resulted in the latter blurting out without thinking. Not only was Husam wrong in saying that Pakatan Rakyat has not dropped the Hudud issue, when it is PAS and not Pakatan Rakyat that is propagating Hudud, but he was also wrong in not repeating what he had said so many times in the past on the matter of Hudud and the Islamic State.

And what was it that Husam and many of the other PAS leaders said so many times in the past? They had said that while the Islamic State is still very much the ideal of the party, PAS, however, is prepared to drop it from their agenda as they realise they will never have the two-thirds majority in parliament to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State.

PAS is pragmatic. Without a doubt they are an Islamic party, so they can’t but talk about Islam. This must be expected just like how the Christian Democrats would never stop talking about Christianity or a Hindu party stop talking about Hinduism. But turning Malaysia into an Islamic State would be a tall order if you do not have at least 150 seats in Parliament. And, as has been pointed out many times in the past, how to get 150 seats when PAS contests only 60 seats and wins not even half those seats?

In other words, I would like to do it but will not because I just can’t do it. I suppose the same goes for many Muslims who would like to marry a second wife but will not because there is no way they can marry a second wife without their first wife skinning them alive -- and we are not talking about foreskin here. Wanting it in your heart but actually doing something about it is a separate matter altogether.

So, PAS has two bad bricks, maybe even ten. But there are one million PAS members, grass-root leaders and national leaders. Are we going to judge and sentence PAS because of two bad bricks, or even ten? Are we going to tear the wall down because of two bad bricks? What about the 998 good bricks, the one million other PAS members and leaders? Do these count for nothing?

Let us look at just some of the 998 ‘good bricks’ in PAS.

In 1990, when PAS first formed the government in Kelantan together with Semangat 46, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the Menteri Besar, summoned the Hindus for a meeting and offered them permission to build a temple in the state. The Hindus were delightfully surprised. For more than a decade they had tried to get the Umno government to approve their request to build a temple but with little success. Suddenly, even before Nik Aziz could warm his seat, he summoned the Hindus for a meeting to grant them permission to build a temple -- even though they had not approached the new state government to ask for it.

In the past, pigs could not be slaughtered in ‘Umno’ Kelantan and pork had to be brought in from the other states. Now, under the new PAS-led government, the Chinese can slaughter pigs in the state.

Yesterday, the Umno-backed Malay NGOs sent PAS a petition protesting the slaughter of pigs in ‘Umno’ Melaka. Hello, why protest to PAS about what is going on in an ‘Umno’ state? And why does the PAS Youth Movement not also send a petition to Nik Aziz to protest the slaughtering of pigs in Kelantan since PAS is supposed to be more radical and intolerant than Umno?

Liquor and beer can still be purchased and consumed in Kelantan, contrary to what is being reported. (The same thing happened in Terengganu when PAS ruled the state from 1999 to 2004. Liquor and beer were not banned). Furthermore, the Chinese can now do business without any hindrance and they no longer need to pay bribes to get things done or approved like in the days of ‘Umno’ Kelantan.

And so on and so forth, the list goes on.

These are but some of the ‘happy stories’ that people relate and there are certainly many, many more. But people do not want to look at the 998 good bricks. They would rather focus on the two bad ones and keep harping on them till the cows come home.

Can we look at PAS’s 998 good bricks and then compare the party to Umno with its so many bad bricks? Sure, Umno does have some good bricks. The party is not 100% bad. But the Umno bad bricks far outnumber its good bricks and you need to use a fine toothcomb to look for these good bricks.

It appears like Hudud is the main and only issue for most to reject PAS. Actually, Hudud is not even an issue any longer. It was a stupid slip that Husam made and which the mainstream media is going to town with. But is life only and all about Hudud, a law which can never be implemented anyway? Surely there is more to life than just Hudud.

What about good governance, transparency, the independence of the judiciary, restoration of the rights of Malaysians, plus an end to corruption, racism, abuse of power, wastage of public funds, and much more? Are these no longer important? Do these 998 good bricks become irrelevant because of the two bad bricks, which were not really that bad in the first place but was a mere perception issue?

In the run-up to the 8 March 2008 general election, PAS, PKR, DAP, PRM, MDP, PASOK and PSM endorsed the People’s Declaration or Deklarasi Rakyat, which was launched by the civil society movements at the Blog House in Bukit Damansara in Kuala Lumpur. These are the 998 good bricks that we should focus on. These 998 good bricks overshadow the two bad bricks -- the blunder Husam made in his debate with Khairy.

Maybe during the Kuala Terengganu by-election campaign PAS should reiterate its stand and reinforce its support for the People’s Declaration. Let the voters, in particular the Chinese, Indians and liberal Malays, see that PAS is committed to reforms and to the propagation of a civil society (masyarakat madani). PAS needs a makeover. It is suffering from a serious image problem. And it is a victim of mainstream media propaganda. PAS needs to correct public perception about what it stands for.

I challenge PAS to prove its critics wrong. Re-endorse the People’s Declaration and prove, once and for all, that a civil society and not the cutting off the hands of thieves is the priority of the party. In response to the move by PAS to, again, endorse the People’s Declaration, the civil society movements, even those whom PAS labels as ‘deviant Muslims’, will go down to the ground to explain the issue to the voters. This, we promise PAS.

I can assure you of one thing. Even those who are not Muslims plus those, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, who are opposed to the setting up of an Islamic State and Hudud will be campaigning for PAS in the Kuala Terengganu by-election. Re-endorse the People’s Declaration and see whether this happens or not.

Anwar clears first hurdle - Oct 7

Two Malaysians face terrorism charges in Thailand

BANGKOK, Dec 30 - A Malaysian undergraduate and a school dropout are facing terrorism charges in Thailand after their alleged plan to "help their Muslim brothers fight Siamese soldiers in the deep south went awry.

Thai newspaper reports say that Muhammad Fadly bin Zainal of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Omar Hanif Shamsul Kamar were arrested in June this year while attempting to steal a motorcycle in Golok. During

interrogation, they told Thai officials that they were affected by two incidents in Tak Bai and Krue Se in 2004 - where many Muslims died from suffocation after being packed like sardines in military trucks and were

killed in an assault on a mosque.

The two men said that they wanted to join in the jihad fight against Thai military in Southern Thailand.

Fadly spoke to officials from the International Crisis Group from his prison cell in Narathiwat and said that he had received a month's training before traveling to Thailand in May this year. He said that he and Omar were recruited by a man in Kelantan and entered Thailand with a Malaysian ustaz "Muhammad'' and a South Asian man.

Thai police told the ICG that they believe that the two Malaysians had not established any links with the insurgents in South Thailand.

The Bangkok Post in a report today said that "this is not the first time that Malaysian nationals have been arrested in the South, but what is alarming is that this is the first time they have clearly linked their activity to jihad…Their arrests are considered proof that foreign Muslims radicals were being invited by members of the local jihadi networks to operate in the far South. Thai security agencies cannot afford to sit back and overlook this matter.''

Thailand has faced secessionist movements since it annexed the independent state of Patani in 1902. The religious and racial difference between the Malay Muslims and Buddhist majority in the country has created a sense of alienation in the south. Malay Muslims charge that they are treated as second class citizens while they have accused security officials of human rights abuses.

There was a resurgence of violence in 2004 largely as a result of policies by the Thaksin administration. Thai authorities have long insisted that the insurgency is homegrown. Indeed, there is little cogent evidence that Al Qaeda or Jemaah Islamiah is directing operations in the south.

Still, terrorism experts argue that the longer the problem in the south is allowed to fester the greater the chance of involvement of outside forces.

500 protest Israeli air strikes outside US embassy

Hundreds protest in KL against Israeli attacks



Protestors rally outside the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur today against Israel's air strikes in the Gaza Strip. Both government and opposition leaders have condemned Israel's air raids on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, calling it a war and crime against humanity. — AP pic


KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — About 400 people made up of Pas supporters and members of non-governmental organisations today held a demonstration outside the United States embassy to protest against Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that have killed more than 360 Palestinians.

The protestors gathered outside the Tabung Haji building in Jalan Tun Razak before moving to the front of the embassy at 11.30am while shouting slogans to protest the open US support for Israel's actions.

Six representatives then handed over a memorandum of protest to an embassy official at the gates of the mission.

Batu Burok state assemblyman of Pas, Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad, said the memorandum was addressed directly to US President George W. Bush and Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Dr Syed Azman said a relief squad comprising doctors and professionals would be sent to Palestine to help victims.

Cheras police district chief, Supt Abdul Rahim Hamzah Othman, said the gathering, which did not have a permit, dispersed at 12.30pm, adding that the situation was under control and no arrests were made.

Huge demonstrations had been held in major cities around the world to condemn Israel's atrocities against the Palestinian people. - Bernama





Anti-Prophet Mohammad blog - Hamid, Shabery, MCMC should explain why so tardy in taking action

(Lim Kit Siang)While all right-thinking Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, agree that stern action should be taken against those responsible for the blog which insults Prophet Mohammad, many are asking why the authorities have been so tardy and laid-back in acting when complaint was first made many weeks ago.

Although Utusan Malaysia first reported about the blog last Saturday, 27th December 2008, with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, responding on the same day by directing the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and the police to act quickly against the blog over insults to Prophet Muhammad, in actual fact, the authorities had been aware of the blog concerned for weeks.

This was revealed by the Information Minister, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek who said on Saturday that the woman in her 20s whose photograph and identify were used in the blog containing insults to Prophet Mohammed had denied owning the Internet domain and had in fact met him two weeks ago to ask RTM to help clear her name.

Shabery said:

“She sought help from RTM to publicise the matter because the web log, which also contains Deepavali messages insulting the Hindus, was not hers and had tarnished her reputation and the company she works for.”

But neither Shabery nor RTM gave her any help although she had lodged reports with the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to trace the people responsible after coming to know the existence of the blog several months ago.

Instead, the woman was picked up by the police at 6 pm on Saturday to “assist in the investigation” and later released on police bail!

The police said today that they have identified several suspects in connection with the offensive blog and several people would soon be called up to assist in the investigations under the Sedition Act.

The question Hamid Albar, Shabery and MCMC should answer is why the police, the RTM and MCMC had been so tardy and laid-back in taking action against the blog concerned when the woman victim had lodged reports with the police, the Information Minister and the MCMC weeks before the Utusan Malaysia report last Saturday and why she had to be taken into custody to “assist in investigations” despite her earlier complaints!

Two reasons why we are lagging behind…

(Anil Netto)We are well behind many other countries in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) benchmarks. It’s a sad reflection of the state of our education system. We are just, well, average in the global class.

Percentage of eighth-grade students who reached the TIMSS advanced international benchmark in mathematics, by country: 2007

mathstimms

Percentage of eighth-grade students who reached the TIMSS advanced international benchmark in science, by country: 2007

sciencetimms

What does our Education Minister have to say about this?

This doesn’t mean we should now focus excessively on maths and science to the detriment of the arts subjects. We need to produce students who also have a keen awareness of social realities. Our education system shouldn’t just churn out robots for industry. We need philosophers, artists, and social workers every bit as much as we need engineers, scientists, doctors and technicians.

Our education system must produce well-rounded individuals in various disciplines who are trained to think creatively, critically, analytically. Unfortunately, right now, we aren’t even able to get the basics right.

TUNKU MUKHRIZ IS NEW YANG DIPERTUAN NEGERI SEMBILAN

Tunku Besar Seri Menanti Tunku Mukhriz Tuanku Munawir was chosen as the 11th ruler of Negri Sembilan following the death of his uncle on Saturday, Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Ja'afar Tuanku Abdul Rahman, which was announced at 3.50pm at the Istana Besar Seri Menanti in Kuala Pilah today.

Tunku Mukhriz, 63, was selected by a four-member council of ruling chiefs in the state, or better known as datuk datuk undang, through a tradition that began about 250 years ago by the Minangkabau settlers who hailed from Sumatra in the 15th century.

Negri Sembilan customs on electing the ruler is different compared to the hereditary monarch practice by the other Malay states. The ruler is selected by the Council of Undangs from four of the state's biggest districts, Sungai Ujong, Jelebu, Johol and Rembau.

Tunku Mukhriz was picked among three other likely candidates, the late Negri Sembilan ruler’s son, Tunku Laxamana Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Ja'afar, Tunku Muda Serting Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja'afar and Tunku Panglima Besar Tunku Putera Nadzaruddin Tuanku Ja'afar.

Klang rep calls for Teng's removal

KLANG: Be transparent about the Klang Sentral bus terminal issue or quit.
This is Klang member of parliament Charles Santiago's challenge to Teng Chang Khim, chairman of the Select Committee on Competence, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) in Selangor.

He said Teng should come clean on why he was opposing the popular sentiment here, which was against moving the bus terminal from here to Meru.


"The project is plagued with controversies and the public wants answers for many questions. The people voted us in for more transparency but in this issue, the opposite is happening."

He said Teng, who is also state assembly speaker, should initiate investigations into the project and reveal details of it to the public.
"However, he is doing the opposite. If he can't perform his duty, then he should be removed," he told the New Straits Times.

It is learnt that the concession for the RM17 million bus terminal is for 30 years.

Teng, who is also the Sungai Pinang assemblyman, had branded Santiago as behaving like the opposition and having been bought over by the Barisan Nasional.

"All I wanted was for the Klang Municipal Council to initiate a public inquiry so there would be transparency. I also suggested that a committee comprising all interested parties be set up to go through the concessionaire agreement," Santiago said.

He said Teng must apologise publicly as his accusations were aimed at discrediting him and making people doubt his sincerity.

"This is not just an insult of the highest order but goes against my principles. There must be an apology. There are no two ways about it."

Santiago said the DAP's disciplinary committee should reprimand Teng.

********
2008/12/30
Traders protest move of the Klang bus terminal
NST
The old Klang bus terminal before the relocation.
The old Klang bus terminal before the relocation.

KLANG: About 100 traders affected by the relocation of the bus terminal on Saturday demonstrated near Centre Point yesterday.

Holding placards and banners slamming State Assembly Speaker Teng Chang Khim and the Klang Municipal Council for being "pro-developer", the traders chanted slogans and protested for about an hour in the city centre.

Trader C. Krishnan said the move would not only affect them but also students, as many schools were located near the old terminal.

He said a group of traders, bus operators and commuters had earlier held a meeting and formed an action committee to protest against the relocation.

MPK councillor Gary Tai said it would be better if the old terminal could be maintained as this would be the best solution for everybody.
*********

The Star

Monday December 29, 2008

Santiago: I’m not against relocation

By WANI MUTHIAH


KLANG: Klang MP Charles Santiago is miffed that Selangor State Assembly Speaker Teng Chang Khim had lumped him together with those protesting against the relocation of the Klang Utara bus station.

“I never protested against the relocation,” Santiago said yesterday.

The move that has shaken the government: The new Klang Sentral bus terminal at Meru and notices about the move at the old one( below). The relocation has led to a huge quarrel.

“I wanted the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) to declassify the concessionaire agreement governing the move (to the new Klang Sentral Terminal).”

He added he had also wanted MPK to initiate a public inquiry so there would be transparency, and so the people of Klang could have the right to information.

“I had also suggested that a committee comprising all interested parties be set up to go through the concessionaire agreement,” said Santiago.

He added that he was perplexed that Teng had gone to the extent of alleging that he (Santiago) had been bought over by Barisan Nasional.

Santiago has given Teng, DAP central committee member and state assemblyman for Sungai Pinang, seven days to prove the allegation or retract his statement and offer a public apology.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, of the DAP, said it was wrong of Teng to make wild allegations against Santiago.

“I agree with what Charles is doing, and I feel that Teng had hit below the belt in alleging that he had been bought over by Barisan,” he added.

However, another DAP elected representative Ng Suee Lim said the issue was a state matter, and MPs should understand the limit of their jurisdiction.

The Sekinchan state assemblyman said elected representatives in Selangor must also understand that they are now part of the state government and no longer in the opposition.

“They must also not behave like members of NGOs and activists,” he said.

Teng was not available for comment.