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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Makkal Sakthi Activities Invite for Thaipusam in Penang



In conjunction with Thaipusam festival, Penang Island Makkal Sakthi members are organising social service activities. The social service will be provided on the eve of Thaipusam and on the Thaipusam at the PANTHAL.

DATE / TIME : SATURDAY (07 / 02 / 09) 9.00 AM TO 10.00 PM
SUNDAY (08 / 02 / 09) 9.00 AM TO 10.00 PM

Service provided as below :-

Considering 423 days detention of HINDRAF Lawyers under ISA,
Penang Island Makkal Sakthi organizing milk pot procession by
423 members of public. Those intending to participate Assemble with
orange dress / T-Shirt and with milk pot at Sri Muthu Mariamman Temple,
Lorong Kulit. Time : 7.00 am

Public support and unity for the event is greatly appreciated


It is clearly known that UMNO and its Barisan Nasional would use all sort of tricks to frighten or woo voters to vote for them. One way is to use its controlled mainstream medias to frighten that if the PAS candidate wins in Kuala Terengganu it seems to indicate that Hudud law will be imposed towards every Malaysian. Malaysians and Kuala Terengganu voters need to realise that PAS would require 2/3 of the Dewan Rakyat members to support its call, and to achieve this it need 148 MPs or more. Currently PAS has only 23 MPs and can this materialise?

Just because some PAS leaders have express their desire to introduce Hudud law, UMNO had taken this opportunity to FRIGHTEN the rakyat that PAS is fanatic and will be able to introduce and impose this law on Malaysians. Every sensible Malaysian knows that Malaysia practises multi-religious and multi-cultural beliefs and any statements to introduce these sort of laws will create sensitiveness and will indirectly have a swing of voters for the BN.

This is the attempt of our 'uncaring, corrupted and arrogant' UMNO's or BN style of politicing. This is how BN wants to create a sense of fright on the 8,735 registered Chinese voters and on the Indian and other voters too.

But to the surprise of many, the Chinese voters have become sceptical since the PAS administration in Perak had decided to offer freehold land titles to the 15,000 TOL holders although it was generally know that PAS does not care for the non-Malays. This act and the defiance of the BN federal government ruling has given these Chinese voters and residents that PAS cares for Malaysians on the whole. Their neighbour, Kelantan, the voters and residents there are extremely happy since the State governments does take great care of the Kelantanese.

UMNO and its BN parties will try their best to swing some other gimmick but it is hoped that Kuala Terengganu voters would not 'buy' their lies and rubbish any longer and vote sensibly for the PAS candidate on polling date on 17 January 2009.

P036 by-election - political dynamics at play

by Art Harun

The Kuala Terengganu P036 by-election could not have come at a more inopportune time for Barisan Nasional in general and UMNO, as well as Najib Razak in particular. As we all know, the Barisan Nasional is still reeling from the effects of the March 8 general election last year. The main coalition of UMNO, MCA, Gerakan and MIC have seen testing days after that general election with all parties going for each other’s throat on issues close to their respective heart. Issues on Ketuanan Melayu; teaching of Maths and Science in the English language; marginalisation of the Malaysian citizen of Indian origin; distribution of the economics pie are but some of the issues which saw the BN main component parties shouting and screaming at each other with the obvious goal of championing each party’s racial agenda and outlook.

To top it up, these main component parties also have internal issues to be settled. MCA saw a change of top leadership in an election which was more than a little uncivil and divisive resulting in its President and Deputy being elected from two different and opposing camps. As for MIC, it is as good as a dead horse. While Samy Vellu says he wants to re-brand MIC he forgets that re-branding MIC would most certainly involve his removal from the party as he has become synonymous with all that is wrong with MIC itself.

Most importantly is the internal wave of discontent which UMNO is going through from March 8 2008 until today. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been blamed for everything which has befallen UMNO so far. This blame culture and movement has been led by none other than its former President, Mahathir Mohammad. It has taken steam sometime in the middle of last year and at the end a power transmission timeline was agreed. That entails Abdullah relinquishing his Presidency in March this year to Najib Razak, the current Deputy President.

But that does not end there. As it is, there are now 3 persons eyeing the Deputy posts come March this year. The 3 VP posts are seeing a fight between 10 stalwarts. The Youth chief is also seeing a massive fights. In fact, UMNO is so full of infightings that it makes the Palestine conflicts rather tame in comparison. To add to all these, money politics have reared its ugly head and UMNO leadership is at a loss on how to solve these really dirty games.

If the Permatang Pauh by-election sounded the death knell for Abdullah, the P036 by-election is a sure test for Najib Razak’s leadership. And it couldn’t come at a worse time. The selection of Wan Ahmad Farid as UMNO’s nominee for the election is not without significance. The fact that Wan Ahmad Farid - a known supporter of Abdullah in UMNO - is chosen as UMNO’s nominee is widely seen as proof of Abdullah’s influence in UMNO although Abdullah is supposedly on his way out. This is admitted even by Mahathir Mohammad who lamented that Wan Ahmad Farid is Abdullah’s proxy and that he (Wan Ahmad Farid) is not the best man for the job.

Come what may, the obvious loser in all these would be none other than Najib Razak. Firstly, the nomination of Wan Ahmad Farid, a known Abdullah man, gives the impression that Najib Razak is powerless and not strong enough to stop Abdullah from still calling the shots even within 2 months from his retirement. That does not bode well for Najib and his supporters.

Secondly, win or lose, Najib would still lose. It is a lose-lose situation for him. If Wan Ahmad wins the election, the impression would be that his victory is caused by the “Abdullah factor”. It would be Abdullah’s great choice which wins the election. Not Najib’s.

In the event of a loss, the world would come crumbling down on Najib. The blame would be on him. Allegations of sabotage would surely surface. However, the damndest conclusion in that event would be that the people of Kuala Terengganu, and Malaysia in general, has demonstrated that Najib’s leadership is not welcome. The people do not want Najib as Malaysia’s next Prime Minister. That would be the natural conclusion.

It must be remembered that Najib was entrusted to spearhead UMNO’s and the BN’s election campaign in Permatang Pauh. He failed miserably due mainly to his wrong approach, strategy and tactics. How could you go into someone’s house and tell the owner of that house that his son is a sodomiser? The result of that is for all to see. Anwar won with a bigger majority. Najib (and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) left Permatang Pauh even before the official announcement of the result!

In the event of a BN loss, P036 would be seen as an indictment of Najib’s inability and his perceived tainted past (and present). It would be concluded as an almost unequivocal non-endorsement by the people of his leadership style, his visions, his political posturing on a wide range of issues which are close to the people’s heart nowadays.

It is therefore quite obvious, that come what may, Najib would be the biggest loser in P036. Whatever the result of this by-election might be, it is obvious that the UMNO infighting would continue to ravage the party. Both the Abdullah and Najib faction would claim victory in the event of a win for Wan Ahmad Farid. And both would blame each other in the event of a loss. At the wrong end of this argument would be Najib Razak.

On the side of the fence, a victory for Wan Ahmad Farid, would, on the face of it, indirectly sound a loud “NO” to hudud and PAS’ seeming unwillingness to let go of that issue. In that event, Pakatan Rakyat would have some soul searching to make. The loose alliance between a motley crew of parties with different views and ideas which strike, among others, at the most basic of issues, namely, whether Malaysia should be a secular or Islamic state, would not, in the long run, work if such issue is not analysed deeply and an acceptable common ground is found and agreed upon.

Husam Musa’s statement that PAS would implement hudud during his debate with Khairy Jamaluddin shows the emotional, rather than rational, side of Husam and PAS as a whole. Khairy was being clever and he was digging a huge hole in front of Husam when he unnecessarily asked Husam about hudud. Husam did not see that hole and loudly and proudly proclaimed that PAS would implement hudud to a thunderous applause. Husam won the day but in a single stroke Khairy has managed to find a bullet which the BN could use during the by-election. Hudud, a non-issue before that day, has become an issue suddenly. Husam fell into the hole like a led balloon!

If PAS wins, there will be conclusion made that the people, including the non-Muslims, may not be adverse to hudud. Again, Pakatan Rakyat would have some soul searching to make. And the Barisan Nasional too. Hudud laws, and its implementation, is not an easy subject and it touches the nerves of all and sundry, not only the Muslims and the Malays . It involves international perception, international finance and investments, non-Muslims and Muslims alike. It involves the very basic structure of Malaysia. It involves the basic premise of Malaysia as a secular state with Islam as its official religion. Contrary to all political posturing by the likes of Mahathir Mohammad, Abdullah and the present UMNO leadership, everybody knows that Malaysia is NOT an Islamic state.

PAS itself is in the middle of a leadership tug of war. It is replete with factions where the Hadi, Nik Aziz and Anwar factors provide endless supply of political entanglement. Hadi is the Islamic state chieftain. Nik Aziz heads the more rationale and pragmatist group and is known to be the sympathisers for Anwar’s reformist agenda.

P036 is thus more than what it seems. It is not only about the Barisan Nasional against the Pakatan Rakyat. It is about the survival of political ideologies within component parties of these two. It is also about the fight within the component parties.

The voters in P036 should be so lucky to know that their one vote each may in more than one way decide the future of Malaysia. They should therefore all come out and exercise their right to vote with a clear conscience and unhurried in their choice.

Happy voting.

Govt lifts ban on Herald’s Malay supplement, but…

The government has reversed its short-lived ban on the Herald’s Malay language supplement - but the weekly Catholic tabloid will still not be able to use the term “Allah” pending a court decision on the matter.

The decision was verbally conveyed by the Home Ministry to the Catholic Church today and a letter is expected to reach the Church tomorrow.

But three other conditions are likely to remain:

  • a ban on the use of three other terms that are also used in Islam;
  • a ban on the sale of the paper outside church premises (which is unnecessary as the paper is only sold or distributed in churches across the country); and
  • a requirement that the front page should indicate that the paper is for non-Muslims only (which is again redundant as the paper is sold only in churches, and the masthead already includes the words “The Catholic Weekly”.

On 2 January, Archbishop Murphy Pakiam reportedly informed the Home Ministry in a letter that the ministry should reconsider its decision and revoke the ban within seven days, failing which which the Church would take the matter to court.

It is understood the Church was poised to take legal action to assert the right to publish in the national language - before the Ministry back-pedalled. Some 65 per cent of all Christians in Malaysia (as at the year 2000) are ‘bumiputeras’ from Sabah and Sarawak and this figure is rising.

A typical edition of the weekly paper has 32 pages, including an eight-page Malay-language pull-out, three pages in Chinese and two pages in Tamil, with the rest in English.-Anilnetto

What's DSAI saying?

"The leadership is busy collecting wealth. While Israel is punishing the Palestinian people for choosing Hamas, it is no different from Umno punishing Malaysians for choosing the Pakatan Rakyat." - Anwar Ibrahim
Amir Muhammad is right: Malaysian politicians say the darndest thing.

This one [read here for the full article] by DSAI is just so Umno-ish. But then Anwar is a product of Umno. He was with Umno when the party was at its best and he was also there when Umno was at its worst. Anwar had a hand in making Umno what it is today. Remember the Wawasan Team? He was in the same bed with the likes of Muhammad Muhammad Taib and Rahim Thamby Chik! Were they not "busy collecting wealth?" back then? Wasn't Anwar's Umno punishing the people of Kelantan for electing PAS back then, which is why the state is still one of the poorest in the country till today?

I don't care if our politicians give low blows or if they share the same bed, but I wish they'd be more sensitive and sensible at all times. If we aren't helping the Palestinians then at least don't trivialize Israeli's crimes against humanity by comparing them with Umno or, for that matter, with PKR, DAP, PAS, All-Blogs, Barisan Rakyat bloggers, etc.

Btw, reading the pro-Pakatan blogs yesterday one can easily see that they are very organized. They are setting the agenda in Kuala Terengganu with blog postings and online news coverage that are coordinated in terms of timing and theme. Yesterday, for example, they focused on the Chinese voters. The Chinese in the constituency make up only 11 per cent of the voters, but Lim Kit Siang hails them as the "kingmakers" who will decide who wins the Jan 17 by-election. Indeed, they could be!

Picture above is of the PAS candidate Wahid Endut rubbing shoulders and locking limbs with a couple of kingmakers, according to a pro-Pakatan blogger.

On Gaza, this morning blogger Mafiaso mailed me this logo and invites all to place it on their blogs as a sign of support for the move to boycott US goods over Washington's support of Israeli's atrocities against the Palestinians.-Rocky´s bru


1. Pilihanraya kecil di Kuala Terengganu ini sepatutnya tidak dianggap penting.

2. Samada Barisan Nasional menang atau kalah Kerajaan Terengganu tak akan berubah.

3. Saya ditanya oleh pemberita akan pendapat saya.

4. Sebagai orang yang tidak berparti saya tidak terikat dengan sesiapa.

5. Pada pandangan saya PAS atau UMNO pada waktu ini sama sahaja.

6. PAS bukan alternatif kerana dilihat PAS sanggup membelakangkan prinsip-prinsipnya kerana nak jaga hati parti komponen Pakatan. Orang yang tidak pegang kepada prinsip tidak boleh dipercayai.

7. Sebagai contoh PAS bersetuju babi diternak di kampung Melayu kerana larangan agama hanya untuk tidak makan daging babi.

8. Ternak tak apa.

9. Sentuh pun tak apa.

10. Jual pun tak apa kerana ini tidak disebut di dalam Al-Quran.

11. Soalnya apakah sensitiviti orang Melayu tidak perlu diambil kira?

12. PAS juga tak bercakap banyak sekarang berkenaan hukum hudud.

13. Katanya ini rancangan 30 tahun.

14. Demikian juga PAS sanggup beri hakmilik tanah secara berkekalan untuk mendapat sokongan orang Cina.

15. Dasar negara sekarang tanah tidak boleh diberi kepada sesiapa pun secara berkekalan, samada Cina, Melayu atau India.

16. Tetapi PAS sanggup membelakangkan dasar negara hanya untuk mendapat sokongan orang Cina. British tidak pernah beri kawasan "New Village" kepada setinggan yang ditempatkan di situ. Tidak ada geran yang dikeluarkan oleh British kepada penduduk New Village. Tetapi pemimpin PAS sanggup bohong kononnya British memberi tanah secara berkekalan kepada setinggan Cina.

17. Semua ini menunjukkan PAS bukan parti yang berprinsip dan bukan pun ikhlas dalam memperjuangkan Islam. PAS tidak boleh dipercayai oleh sesiapa. Ia sanggup "bend backwards" untuk kepentingan politik semasa.

18. UMNO pula tak tahu pilih calon. Yang dipilih ialah bekas Setiausaha Politik Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Jelas pilihan calon UMNO tidak memperdulikan sentimen rakyat.

19. Dan calon ini pula terkenal sebagai seorang yang sombong, tidak tahu beramah mesra dengan orang.

20. Dalam Pilihanraya kecil ini pengundi Kuala Terengganu berhadapan dengan dilema.

21. PAS pun bukan pilihan yang baik, UMNO pun bukan pilihan yang baik.

22. Telan mati Mak, luah mati Pak.

23. Mungkin calon bebas akan dapat undi yang lebih dari sepatutnya.

By God, the Herald will continue to use "Allah"

By Debra Chong(themalaysianinsider)

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 - Catholic newspaper The Herald will mark the return of its Bahasa Malaysia edition with a bumper issue next Jan 18 and defy the authorities by using "Allah" to describe God.

Herald editor Rev Father Lawrence Andrew said today it will use the word "Allah" as its suit on the word is still in the courts while the bumper issue is to make up for lost time. Government officials said the newspaper can have a Bahasa Malaysia edition as long as it does not describe God as "Allah" which is reserved only for Muslims.

"We will continue using it as the case is still going on in court," Fr Lawrence told The Malaysian Insider today, adding the Kuala Lumpur High Court had allowed The Herald to continue using the disputed word pending its judgment in the case.

He explained that the Catholic Church had been using the word in the manner prescribed because it was contained in the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Scriptures, which had been approved by the church's authorities "a long time ago".

"I can't change the Scriptures. If the word 'Allah' is in there, we will use it," he said.

"The government cannot tell us we cannot use it if it is in the Scriptures. This is against the Federal Constitution," he added.

The Herald's insistence is almost certain to shake the already fragile religious ties in Malaysia.

But Fr Lawrence begs to differ.

"We are not terrorists. We are not enemies. We're all brothers and sisters who worship God," he said soothingly, adding he did not know why the word is controversial.

The government had banned the weekly from putting out stories in the national language after its publishing permit expired on Dec 31 last year.

The reason, allegedly, was that the Malay news content which used the word "Allah" to describe God in a non-Muslim context would confuse followers of Islam in Malaysia.

A few days later, the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur who is the publisher of The Herald, wrote a letter asking the Home Ministry to lift the ban.

He warned that the Church would take legal action against the government if it did not reply

Today, the Associated Press reported the Home Ministry had lifted the ban, but refused to allow The Herald to use the word "Allah".

Karpal: Anwar wrong on hudud applicable only to Muslims

Karpal: Anwar is wrong on hudud

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 - Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's assertion that hudud laws are applicable only to Muslims and not the entire country is a fallacy, DAP chairman Karpal Singh said today.

"The statement by PKR de facto leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, that there is no need to reject hudud laws as it is only applicable to Muslims is diametrically opposed to PAS' avowed aim to turn Malaysia into an Islamist state.

"This has been PAS' stand from its inception as is clearly reflected by the statements by former and present leaders of PAS," he said in a statement here.

Karpal Singh noted that PAS spiritual leader, Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, was quoted by a news report on Dec 23 last year as saying: "I cannot see why they (obviously non-Muslims) cannot accept hudud laws which are no different from the colonial laws of the West".

Karpal, who is also Bukit Gelugor member of parliament, said that for hudud laws to be applicable, the prerequisite would be the setting-up of an Islamic state such as Saudi Arabia where Islamic laws were applicable to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

"It is important for Anwar to know exactly what PAS intends to do in calling for the setting-up of an Islamic state.

"Perhaps PAS president Hadi Awang should clear the air as to whether hudud laws intended by PAS are applicable to both Muslims and non-Muslims in the event PAS succeeds in setting up an Islamic state.

In the public interest he should do so," he added. Karpal Singh said Malaysia was not an Islamic state and the passing and implementation of hudud laws would be unconstitutional. - Bernama

Abdullah calls Dr M 'irrelevant' in KT campaign

By Adib Zalkapli(Themalaysianinsider)

KUALA TERENGGANU, Jan 8 - Just two months before leaving office, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi finally called his trenchant critic Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad irrelevant as he defended his choice of candidate for the crucial Kuala Terengganu by-election.

Dr Mahathir, who has repudiated his anointed successor Abdullah, had called the Barisan Nasional's candidate Datuk Wan Farid Salleh as a bad choice and a proxy of the prime minister, who hit the campaign trail today.

"Dr Mahathir can say anything he wants. He is irrelevant to us. We know what we are doing and we know what we want, we will continue to fight to defend the seat," Abdullah said after meeting party workers involved in the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

Abdullah Badawi addressing a campaign rally in Kuala Terengganu, where he dismissed former prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad as being of no consequence to Umno today. – Picture by Choo Choy May

The by-election, which is probably Abdullah's last election campaign as the Prime Minister, is widely seen as a referendum on Datuk Seri Najib Razak's leadership who is slated to succeed him in March.

But the selection of Wan Farid, who was his former political secretary, as the BN candidate is a reflection that Abdullah is still very much in control of Umno, the dominant party in the ruling coalition.

Earlier at the closed door meeting, the Prime Minister said he reminded party members that Wan Farid, a senator who was appointed deputy minister after the last general election, is a serious candidate for BN.

"I have told him that if you do not win, you will lose your senate seat and lose the deputy minister's position and you cannot come back to me to be my political secretary," Abdullah told reporters adding that Wan Farid was willing to risk his political career.

"When I first informed him, he replied that he is willing to be the BN' candidate in Kuala Terengganu because he wants to serve the people in the constituency as he is also the division chief," he added.

He also reiterated that only Wan Farid's name was proposed by the state Umno, which proved that there was no internal bickering within the party.

The Umno president also reminded the party campaign machinery to remain stay focused on the by-election and not to be distracted by the party elections scheduled for March.

Abdullah also said BN component parties remain committed in ensuring Wan Farid's victory on the Jan 17 polling day.

Deputy IGP Promises Action On Personnel Using Excessive Force

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 (Bernama) -- Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar has promised to take action on members of the force who allegedly used excessive force during an incident in Bandar Mahkota Cheras 1 on May 27 last year.

He said the police had given full cooperation to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) in its probe into the incident and instructed all personnel involved in the assignment to give evidence.

"An investigation has been conducted on the personnel said to have used excessive force on Chang Jiun Haur and Chang Siew Meng as recommended by Suhakam," he said in statement here today.

He said action would be taken on those responsible upon instruction by the Attorney-General's Chambers but because of conflicting and unclear evidence, the panel of inquiry set up by Suhakam had failed to identify the culprits.

Several days before the incident, he said, the police had managed to control the situation and maintain public order.

"On the night of the incident, scores of vehicles had passed through the police control without any obstacles because all the drivers had complied with the police's order and drove carefully until the incident where the car driven by Chang Jiun Haur was said to have hit and injured two police and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel on duty," he said.

Ismail said efforts by the police to arrest them had been turned into an issue until finally, Suhakam conducted the public inquiry.

"The police are of the view that the matter would not have happened if the driver followed the police's order and drove his vehicle carefully," he said.

Ismail said he agreed with Suhakam's view that the police would not comment on the issue further because it was being tried in court.

Yesterday, Suhakam released a 41-page report of the public inquiry into the incident. In the report read out by chairman of the inquiry panel, Commissioner Datin Paduka Zaitoon Othman, law enforcement personnel had used excessive force on Chan Jiun Haur and Chan Siew Meng.

"Since it has been found that excessive force had been used on the two individuals, the panel of inquiry strongly recommends that the police conduct their own investigation to ascertain which personnel used the force against the victims," she said.

The panel also recommended that the police and FRU implement international standards on the use of force and require all their personnel to display their names and badge numbers visibly and clearly during field operations.

Ismail said police and FRU personnel had long been wearing name tags and badge numbers during operations.

On the night of the incident, the name tag and badge number were hidden behind the protective vest but the FRU personnel could still be identified based on the unit and section numbers shown on each shield, he said.

Detectives, meanwhile, do not wear name tags because it would defeat the purpose of their assignment which requires them to collect information in disguise, he added.

Ismail also said the operating procedure adopted by the FRU was consistent with international standards and the country's law, and the force used in effecting an arrest is proportionate to the situation.


Hindraf Under Fire For Smearing Malaysia's Image

By P. Vijian

CHENNAI, Jan 8 (Bernama) -- The banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which had distributed pamphlets smearing Malaysia's image at an international conference attended by thousands of overseas Indians here, was flayed by MIC leaders today.

MIC secretary-general and Malaysian Human Resource Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said he would raise the Chennai incident in the Cabinet next week, and added that he had also briefed several top Indian leaders about the status of Malaysian Indians during his visit to New Delhi last week.

"I will bring this to the Cabinet. I have also explained to several Indian leaders about the situation in Malaysia. All of them are committed to the good relations with Malaysia. They are aware of the tremendous progress achieved by Malaysian Indians," Subramaniam told journalists on the sidelines of the 7th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference in Chennai.

Subramaniam met Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayal Ravi last week.

Several Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders and Hindraf leader P. Waytha Moorthy are in Chennai to attend the three-day conference which started today in this southern Indian city.

Several Hindraf members distributed their annual report to the local media and conference delegates at the Chennai Trade Centre where the meeting is being held.

A few local television stations also interviewed Waytha Moorthy who had flown in from London. It is believed that he does not hold a Malaysian passport anymore.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu described some of Hindraf's claims as "utter lies" and said the group disseminated incorrect information about the welfare of Malaysian Indians.

"That the 150,000 Malaysian Indians of the fourth and fifth generations are stateless is an utter lie. There are only 21,000 without birth certificates, and the Home Ministry has ordered that they be issued the birth certificates.

"Demolition of one temple a day is an old tune which he (Waytha Moorthy) is still singing. If one temple a day (is demolished), it means in the last 25 years there won't be any Hindu temple," Samy Vellu told Malaysian journalists.

On the calls by Hindraf to the Indian government to stop bilateral trade with Malaysia, Samy Vellu said the group failed to understand how two nations do business and that Indian leaders were wiser in dealing with such issues.

"We will reply to the Indian government on these utter lies. Indian leaders are very wise and they will not listen to this rubbish. They will go ahead with their arrangements," he retorted.

About 1,500 Indians from over 50 countries are attending the conference.


Engaging the diaspora on the path to progress

M. Dinesh Varma
Against the backdrop of frantic changes, this year’s convention assumes significance of unexpected magnitude
— Photo: AFP

COLOURFUL EVENT: The Chennai Trade Centre, the venue of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-2009, is all decked up.

CHENNAI: In between two editions of an annual global event during which India and its diaspora analyse their progress and discuss the future, none could have predicted such momentous changes.

makkal Osai 080109

Set against the backdrop of frantic changes, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention 2009 (January 7-9), the premier NRI networking event, assumes a significance of unexpected magnitude.

Over a year that eventually saw the lows upstage the highs, 2008 bowed out against the backdrop of serious challenges to the country’s secular, multicultural ethos in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, even as the global economic crisis continues to sap what was until recently a sprinting economy.

Yet, a cynical worldview will be the least plausible outcome when some of India’s leading lights from across the spheres of politics and governance and the intelligentsia apply their minds to evolving solutions to contemporary issues. In fact, at a pre-event press conference, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi acknowledged the opinion-making influence of NRIs across the world, more so in the U.S. and parts of Europe, and how the Centre wished to increasingly leverage this factor.


The Ministry, he said, was keen on engaging the politico-economic influence of the Indian diaspora in key nations to press its case on a whole lot of national and international issues.

Chennai, which is hosting the programme for the first time, will witness Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opening the event on Thursday. And, by the time President Pratibha Patil addresses the valedictory session after conferring the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards for 2009 on January 9, an estimated 1,500 delegates would have contributed to charting the course for India to realise its 2020 vision. The broad theme of the seventh convention is ‘Engaging the Diaspora: The Way Forward.’

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is primarily a three-way partnership among the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), though a host of corporates chip in with their best.

Organisers say the event creates opportunities for exploring mutually beneficial trade and business relationships and networking among the community. It also symbolises the continued interest of the Indian government in the progress and well-being of overseas Indians.

Event managers feel that the key to boost the confidence of the diaspora is the formation of a separate Ministry for the welfare of an estimated 25 million overseas Indians, including those who still hold Indian passports (NRIs) and those who don’t (People of Indian Origin).

Among the positive outcomes of the previous editions of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas are the decisions to establish Overseas Citizenship of India, the Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, a PIO University, which is set launch courses this year, and the establishment of the Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council of People of Indian Origin.

The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2009 will feature sessions on the preservation of diaspora language and culture and the importance of diaspora as facilitators and bridge-builders.

The first plenary focusses on ‘India as an Emerging Power: The Diaspora Factor’ against the backdrop of the contributions made by 25 million NRIs to the scaling up of educational achievements and income levels, and their role in determining the future course of their motherland.

For non-residents torn between respect for their new country and love for their homeland, a session will help to strike a balance, the key being more linkages between the two. In fact, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2008 identified the ways in which the diaspora could join India’s development process.

The key participants are External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee; Dato’ Seri S. Samy Vellu, president, Malaysian Indian Congress, Malaysia; Shashi Tharoor, chairman, Afras Ventures, U.S.; Sam G. Pitroda, chairman, C-Sam, U.S.; Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard; and Ruby Dhalla, MP, Canada.

Plenary II, which deals with the current ‘Economic Crisis-Diaspora Concerns,’ will think aloud whether stimulus packages will do the trick.

A note circulated by the organisers says: “…even though governments are scrambling to put together bailout and stimulus packages, developing economies have lost growth momentum. In India, the GDP growth projections have been revised downward from 9 per cent to less than 8 per cent, and export-based sectors such as information technology, textiles and automotives are under pressure.” This in turn has deprived overseas Indians of job opportunities. Can India provide them with an alternative economic opportunity, and what are the prospects for their remittances and savings?

The session will seek to find out whether India is relatively well placed to ride out this storm and provide the impetus that the global economy needs for growth and whether this challenge can be transformed into an opportunity to invest in India for better returns.

The key participants include Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath; T.K.A. Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister; C.K. Prahalad, Professor, University of Michigan Business School; and K.V. Kamath, president, CII, and Managing Director and CEO, ICICI Bank.

Concurrent sessions will also be held on ‘Building Bridges: Trade & Investment,’ ‘Building Bridges: Diaspora Philanthropy,’ ‘Education & Diaspora Knowledge Network,’ ‘Media & Entertainment,’ ‘Increased Interaction with Diaspora Women’ and ‘Health for All: Role of Diaspora.’

The plenary on ‘Diaspora interaction with the States’ will examine the areas that could still be in government domain, the levels of diaspora engagement on this front and how best to develop and leverage the diaspora-State engagement.

Sharing stage with the chief guest, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, will be the guest of honour Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi; Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission; Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh; and Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat.

An exhibition on trade and industry, live demonstrations by craftsmen, cultural evenings and sightseeing tours are part of the package.

Exchanges of fire mar 3-hour truce in Gaza

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A planned three-hour lull in Israel's assault on Gaza was marred by sporadic attacks by Hamas militants and retaliatory fire from Israeli forces.

Flames rise into the sky after an Israeli airstrike Wednesday night in Rafa, on the Gaza-Egypt border.

Flames rise into the sky after an Israeli airstrike Wednesday night in Rafa, on the Gaza-Egypt border.

The suspension of the campaign from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET) was intended to allow residents of the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory to receive food and medical supplies.

U.N. Relief and Works Agency spokesman Chris Gunness said a three-hour truce is not enough to alleviate the "deepening humanitarian crisis" in Gaza.

"We are feeding 750,000 (people) on a permanent basis," Gunness said. "More than three hours a day are needed for that."

A three-hour truce is scheduled to take place every other day, Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Peter Lerner said.

"We need to build on this three-hour window; we need to expand that window and let it lead to a permanent cease-fire," Gunness said.

Israel said Wednesday that it "welcomes" a truce plan by Egypt and France and will continue its discussions with both countries about how to achieve a cease-fire in Gaza, an Israeli government spokesman told CNN.

Israel will send two envoys to Cairo, Egypt, in the coming days to discuss a Gaza truce plan, an Israeli foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

The envoys -- Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad and Shalom Turgeman, a political adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert -- could head to Cairo as early as Thursday, the official said.

It is not clear whether Hamas, the Palestinian movement that governs Gaza, will send representatives to Cairo. Israel refuses to speak directly to Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization, but it has negotiated with Hamas through Egypt in the past.

By Wednesday evening, 16 rockets had struck the Jewish state, according to the Israeli military. There was no immediate report of injuries.

At least 680 Palestinians have been killed and 3,000 wounded in Gaza since the campaign began on December 27, Palestinian medical officials said.

Nearly a third of the deaths and 45 percent of the injuries are women and children, according to the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Seven Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

Israeli warplanes and helicopter gunships hit 30 targets in Gaza overnight, while land-based artillery and warships offshore fired at Palestinian fighters in support of Israeli ground troops, the Israel Defense Forces reported as the campaign entered its 12th day.

Tuesday was the bloodiest day of the Israeli ground offensive to date, when Israeli shelling struck a U.N. school in northern Gaza that was being used as a shelter by hundreds of civilians.

The Israeli military said Hamas militants were firing mortars from the school, prompting an artillery strike that killed at least 40 people and wounded dozens more. U.N. officials said there were no militants at the school.

"We are 99.9 percent certain that there were no militants. There were no militant activities in the school or in the school compound," said Gunness of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.

The Palestine Red Crescent said five ambulances had been hit by Israeli forces, killing six people. The agency did not give a breakdown of paramedics and patients, and CNN was not able to independently verify these allegations.

The Israeli military said it was unaware of any such incidents.

Despite problems, PKR says common hatred for BN will hold party together

By Neville Spykerman(Themalaysianinsider)

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7- PKR secretary-general Datuk Salehuddin Hashim today brushed aside recent squabbles in the party, and said a common hatred for the Barisan Nasional (BN) and race politics, are the bond that is holding the party together.

He told The Malaysian Insider that the party's 500,000 strong membership was steadily increasing and contrary to press reports, he denied PKR was plagued with problems.

Salehuddin said that there is tremendous interest in the party especially in Sabah and Sarawak, which has been identified as its new beach head.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Pas candidate Abdul Wahid Endut (in the middle) shaking the hand of a supporter in Kuala Terengganu's Chinatown this afternoon. — Photo by Choo Choy May

"I tell you what qualifies as a plague; money politics in Umno and the subversion of public opinion by the government in power, using tactics not available to others."

Salehuddin described recent controversies involving party leaders in Selangor and Perak as differences of opinions which were not a breach of discipline until it is expressed in bad faith.

"Then it will be dealt with in accordance to our constitution."

Salehuddin said there was no problem with local elections to appoint village heads, by PKR's national vice-president and Gopeng MP Dr Lee Boon Chye and Simpang Pulai state assemblyman Chang Ming Kai, in Perak recently.

He said the move was just an expression of preference in a political process.

Salehuddin said S.Manikavasagam may sound like a dissenting voice, but he said the Kapar MP has yet to raise the matter in a proper forum, in the party.

"Until he does, the only people wildly interested would be those who do not know how to reinvent their own organisation and therefore look forward to other parties cracking up."

Salehuddin said the multi-racial party's membership roughly reflect the racial demographics of Malaysia.

He rejected the description that PKR was a party of dissidents, with disgruntled politicians from other parties, and members with different ideologies.

"Dynamism and vibrancy is sometimes wrongly equated with that description."

Sri Setia Assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad described PKR as a "Rainbow Coalition' comprising various groups including common Malaysians, striving for change.

Nik Nazmi, who is also the political secretary to the Selangor Menteri Besar, said the party born in 1998 during the Reformasi movement, has evolved into the biggest opposition party in Parliament.

He said a broad spectrum of opinions are represented in the party and there are bound to be conflicts.

However he said the party had survived many challenges during its 10 year existence and differences of opinions between leaders are nothing new.

"Over the years, some leaders have left us but the party is still intact."

PKR Information chief and Batu MP Tian Chua said recent press reports about friction in the party were blown out of proportion by the main stream media and manufactured as a diversion to the upcoming Kuala Terengganu by-election.

He said Manikavasagam's dissatisfaction with the relocation of the Klang bus terminal, was 'made' into an Indian issue by the media, when the move would have affected all races.

He said differences of opinions within the party were healthy and part of the democratic process.

Zaid: Malaysians have more sense than their leaders

JAN 7 - The politics is messier. Race relations are slumping. Religious conflicts are being played out publicly. Still, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim believes that Malaysia has a good future. The reason: the majority of Malaysians are sensible people and the results of Election 2008 show that the rakyat wants democracy.

The former de facto Law Minister said: "Ordinary people have more sense than their leaders sometimes. They know the value of co-operation, mutual respect and harmony. I believe the people have spoken out loudly and clearly.

"The future direction of the country is no longer going to be solely in the hands of the political masters. They have had enough of scandals, abuse of power, and poor administration.''

Speaking at a talk organised by the Insititute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore today, he disagreed with the school of thought led by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who argued that many Malaysians voted for the Opposition on March 8 as a protest against the Barisan Nasional.

"The people voted for the Opposition as a manifestation of their desire for a better country; for themselves, their families, their children, '' he said, adding that he was cheered by the results of the general elections.

Given what happened on March 8, he believed that Malaysia will prosper in a way that will benefit all including the Bumiputras; will see the rights and the dignity of all respected and protected; will witness compassion becoming the central consideration in the formulating of public policies.

"Finally, as a lawyer, I want to see justice and the rule of law re-established and flourishing. These are simple ambitions, I think. Given the results of the 8 March 2008 election, there is some hope that they will be fulfilled in my lifetime. The rakyat has shown that it wants democracy and all that it portends, '' said Zaid, who resigned from the government because he did not agree with the use of the Internal Security Act and could not accept the policies and resistance to change in Umno.


Members of Parliament have been notified that a Special session of the Dewan Rakyat will be held on Monday, 12 January 2009 at 2.30 pm to discuss on the current Israel - Palestine crisis.
It was further reported that the government has donated RM1 Million.

news n photo courtesy of Agendadaily

Uthayakumar’s shut away but won’t shut up

By Baradan Kuppusamy, Jan 07 2009

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 – In a New Year message issued from behind the walls of Kamunting, Hindraf founder and legal adviser P. Uthayakumar remains defiant, lambasting Umno and blaming it for all the woes faced by Malaysian Indians but also giving hope to followers that more success lies ahead.

He also reveals deep frustration at the “boring and routine prison life” and tells all about his health. He suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and hyperkinetic heart condition.

The only thing to look forward to, he said, is the weekly visits of his family.

He also said he has decided to “go for broke” but does not explain what his future plans are.

“I have decided to go for broke because I very strongly believe in the cause I am fighting for and I have no regrets.

“Umno will not change. We will have to get rid of Umno in the 2012/2013 general elections,” he said in the message that is now widely circulating here and abroad through the Internet.

Uthayakumar and four other Hindraf leaders were detained on Dec 13, 2007, about a month after the Nov 25 rally they had organised that saw over 30,000 Indians demonstrating in the city against Umno’s “Malay supremacists” ideology for marginalising them.

Uthayakumar and his brother, P. Waythamoorthy, are also seeking consensus among PKR and DAP MPs and leaders to form a new Indian party that would “truly” represent working class Indians and have negotiated with both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat Governments for better benefits, especially a affirmative action policy to lift the Tamil masses from poverty, similar to the help given to Malays.

Their target is to get a new party up and going before the next general election to be in a strong position to bargain.

Although Indians form only about 8% of the population, they are a significant minority in 56 Parliamentary constituencies in the west coast of the peninsular and can make or break the winner if they vote as a block, as they had done for PR parties on March 8.

However, squabbles have broken out between Indian leaders in the PR alliance, especially in PKR and DAP, with some top leaders claiming they got a raw deal despite helping to make March 8 a big success.

Uthayakumar has had a stormy relationship with PKR and DAP leaders before March 8 and had rejected numerous offers from them to stand as a candidate in the landmark general election.

“Dec 13 marked our first dark anniversary of detention without trial under the draconian ISA for two years and might continue indefinitely thereafter,” Uthayakumar said.

“But I have no regrets. I fought for a just cause so that Umno would stop all acts of bullying, especially against the poor and underprivileged Indians,” he said.

He spends his time reading and writing for 12 to 13 hours a day.

“The food is pale and stale,” he said in the message, adding guards check on him hourly and record their observations into their diaries.

“Otherwise prison life is a routine where nightfall follows daylight, and daylight is waiting for nightfall. Life is a predictable routine,” he said, adding the highpoint is the weekly visits by his mother, fiancĂ©e and sisters.

He sleeps on a “one-inch thin” mattress on the cement floor.

He says he suffers from “lumbar spondalysis and arthritis.”

“I can no longer even jog slowly after this one year. I cannot squat without pain in my knees and backbone,” he said. “I also suffer from two kinds of skin diseases.”

He alleged that the medical care he is receiving is sub-standard and lambasted Suhakam for failing to highlight his woes, describing the body as the “servant and slave of the ruling Umno government.”

“But I have no regrets and am prepared for the worst. When I started the struggle 16 years ago, I always had at the back of my mind that I could one day be detained under the ISA,” he said.

He said Hindraf’s biggest success to date is the fact that the authorities have stopped demolishing Hindu temples, “at least for the moment”.

Emerging ethnic Indian communities

P. S. Suryanarayana, The Hindu, Jan 07 2009
Shades of opinion from across the diffused political spectrum of the people of Indian origin in Malaysia may be “articulated” at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

Delegates from Malaysia are making a beeline for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) in Chennai, carrying assorted bags of sweet-and-sour tales on the “situation” of ethnic Indians in that upscale developing country. An “India-Diaspora vision plan” is also to be found in this diffused cultural baggage.

The long-established Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) delegates are often a conspicuous lot at the annual PBD gatherings. This time, though, there may be an additional and qualitative difference, according to some of the likely participants.

Vying for attention in Chennai, leaders of Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance) and Makkal Sakthi (People Power) will be present for the first time at a PBD event, alongside the MIC. The possibility of such an unusual qualitative ambience has been emphasised by the leaders of these groups in several telephonic conversations with this correspondent in Singapore in the past few days.

Far from any likelihood of a confrontation among these leaders, what is projected by them is a scenario of their possible competition to brief the “larger PBD Diaspora” on the “true” Malaysian Indian “situation.” Shades of opinion from across the diffused political spectrum of the people of Indian origin in Malaysia may be “articulated” during the course of the entire event. It is not clear, though, whether the conference format in Chennai will give the different groups a chance for direct engagement between each other during any particular thematic session.

Relevant to the overall PBD context is the “reality” of an “emerging ethnic Indian voice” within the different but friendly camps of Pakatan and Makkal Sakthi. At the federal level in Malaysia, Pakatan — a coalition of two multi-ethnic parties and an Islam-based outfit with a “changing world view” — made key gains in the snap general election that took place after last year’s PBD. In the process, the MIC was among the parties in a long-governing federal coalition that lost many seats in the House of Representatives, without losing grip on power as such. Until then, the MIC was widely seen in Malaysia and outside as the sole authentic voice of the PIO segment in that country.

No less importantly, the Pakatan came to power in several states in Malaysia, all with a sizable PIO presence. The PIO segment, at around two million people in all, is Malaysia’s second-largest minority group after the ethnic Chinese there; and Malays form the majority. A number of factors, really unrelated to the PBD, fashioned that particular poll outcome. However, a key issue in focus in that poll was the “political articulation” of the “marginalisation” of ethnic Indians in Malaysia since its independence in 1957.

The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), an ethnic Indian activist-group with “Makkal Sakthi” as the credo, had sought to draw attention to the “marginalisation” issue and also backed Pakatan in the 2008 poll context. And, with the Malaysian authorities recently proscribing Hindraf, its old “political space” has now been taken over by Makkal Sakthi as a new interest-group.

Unsurprisingly, leaders of Pakatan and Makkal Sakthi are convinced of the likely relevance of these aspects to the “larger Indian Diaspora” during the Chennai PBD this week.

Samy Vellu, the long-serving MIC leader, speaking from Kuala Lumpur, indicated that he would shine the spotlight on the big picture: “the creation of [an Indian Diaspora] circle of excellence.” And, given the “supremacy” of India in the information technology sector, it was important to think now about nurturing the “next generation of [science and technology] entrepreneurs” among Indians across the world. He would, therefore, suggest the formation of “an India-Diaspora Business Consultative Group.”

At another level, “a borderless global Indian workforce” was already a factor to reckon with in many places. Both Indian nationals and ethnic Indians in other countries were in this category. Mr. Samy Vellu, a senior Malaysian Minister until recently, said “a vision plan” for India should be to “select, train, and send a global workforce of Indian origin” in a range of sectors including the high-tech domain.

On the current “Malaysian Indian situation,” the MIC leader said: “They [his critics] can raise anything [as an issue]. I am prepared to answer.” While Mr. Samy Vellu was honoured at a previous PBD, another MIC leader is likely to be similarly recognised this time. While the names of awardees would be announced only during the conference, a key MIC participant this time will be Malaysia’s Human Resources Minister S. Subramanian. Both he and Mr. Samy Vellu will speak at the PBD-preceding ‘Tamil Economy’ meet as well.

P. Ramasamy, Deputy Chief Minister of Penang State, appreciated India’s gesture of acceding to Pakatan’s request for representation at the Chennai PBD this time. He said, over telephone from Penang, the purpose of the request was “not so much to put down the MIC as to convey a true picture of the actual situation of [ethnic] Indians in Malaysia.” The other reason: nearly 70 per cent of Malaysian Indians live in the states now under Pakatan’s rule. He himself is the first-ever ethnic Indian to hold high office in a province.

Taking exception to the “uncritical” labelling of overseas Indians, Prof. Ramasamy said East Asia was actually home to distinctive “Indian communities,” not a “Diaspora” in a narrow sense. Ethnic Indians were originally “transplanted” in this region, mainly as workers during the colonial era.

However, they later evolved into “communities” through interaction with native Malays or Chinese and other societies. Such an evolution was also shaped by the ethnic-Indian “struggles” of the labour movement during the colonial period.

Given his own “labour” family background, Prof. Ramasamy said: “I am very concerned at the treatment meted out to Indian workers [from India] in Malaysia. I don’t understand why they want to come to Malaysia.”

Makkal Sakthi leader P. Waytha Moorthy, speaking from London, said he would attend the PBD “as a Malaysian,” determined to present “a clear and true picture of the plight of Malaysian Indians.” He would do so through personal interactions with the delegates from other countries. Another Makkal Sakthi activist, Manickavasagam, parliamentarian from a Pakatan constituent party, is also likely to be present at the conference.

Aborted IJN takeover a victory for People Power

(Anilnetto)Sime Darby’s decision to call off its takeover of the government-owned National Heart Institute (IJN) is a stunning victory for People Power.

The rakyat have spoken. Ordinary people, through their vocal opposition to the proposal, have defeated a plan put forward by the largest oil palm plantation firm in the world, which is also one of Malaysia’s most powerful conglomerates.

In a poll on this blog of over 800 respondents, 96 per cent of you were against the takeover, reflecting widespread public opposition to the move.

Sime Darby said its decision was based on the public sentiment and feedback received. In other words, it was forced to back off. If it hadn’t, the takeover plan would have been a major issue in the Kuala Trengganu parliamentary by-election.

This episode shows that the rakyat will not take kindly to any corporation out to make a quick profit by trying to undermine or take over a public institution that is providing an essential service at an affordable price.

It also shows that the rakyat can make a difference when they stand united on an issue of public interest.

Weeping for Gaza

poster above taken from WHY? here, pic right here, and pic below here.

(Rocky´sBru)Today is the 10th of Muharram, the day of Asyura.
A day also to weep for the children of Gaza, as Israeli forces hit a UN shelter and killed 40 Palestinians, mostly women and children.

p.s. To keep us updated, I have changed the Google Newsreel (just before my blogroll) to issues related to Gaza and Israel's atrocities.

Suhakam: Cops guilty of excessive force