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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sri Lanka admits bombing safe zone

The images appear to show clear signs of air raids in the 'no-fire zone' near Mullaitivu [Unosat]

(Al Jazeera) The Sri Lankan government has admitted carrying out air raids in the so-called no-fire zone in the country's northeast, where the army is battling Tamil Tiger fighters.

But Palitha Kohona, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry secretary, told Al Jazeera that the raids had been carried out weeks ago and that the military had focused only on the Tamil Tigers' artillery guns, well away from civilians.

"As long as the retaliation is proportionate, it is perfectly legitimate and what we did exactly was located these guns and retaliated against those guns," he said.

"I would challenge anybody to say that these shell holes were created once the civilians moved into the area and became occupied by civilians."

The apparent admission follows the leaking of UN satellite images showing evidence of such attacks, supporting claims by Tamil groups that aircraft had bombed the area the government designated a safe zone in February.

President's contradiction

But Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's president, has contradicted Kohona by categorically denying that the military had attacked civilian areas with heavy weapons.

"If you are not willing to accept the fact that we are not using heavy weapons, I really can't help it," he said.

"We are not using heavy weapons. When we say no, it means no. If we say we are doing something, we do it. We do exactly what we say, without confusion."

The government had for weeks repeatedly denied that its armed forces were using heavy artillery or conducting air raids in the safe zone where it says the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been holding civilians as human shields.

Many who have managed to get out say the fighters were indeed holding them against their will, and fired on them to prevent their escape.

Tens of thousands of civilians, along with members of the LTTE, are believed to still be in the 10sq km area.

On April 19, Kohona told Al Jazeera there was no government shelling in the safe zone.

"Absolutely not, because the government has issued instructions, very strict instructions, to the military not to use aerial bombing or shelling into this area."

But on Friday, confronted by the latest UN satellite imaging agency (Unosat) pictures showing craters which were formed inside the zone between February and April this year, Kohona at first challenged their authenticity before admitting targeting the Tigers' heavy guns.

He said, however, that it was before civilians flooded the area and maintained that the government adhered to international law.

Detailed images

Unosat says the pictures show craters which were formed inside the zone between February 15 and April 19, the day before the army breached the Tigers' defences and civilians started to pour out.

Einer Bjorge, head of the mapping unit at Unosat, told Al Jazeera the pattern of the craters would have required air power.

"The imagery is fairly clear and shows the time, so anybody can study and compare them," he said.

He said the images were also commercially available from the satellite operator.

"Anyone interested in verifying the images can purchase them if they want. It is commercially available to the public," he said.

"You can't get any more transparent than that."

Meenakshi Ganguly, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW), told Al Jazeera that the pictures did give evidence that civilians were at risk, saying the government may have "deliberately deceived the international community when they expressed concern about the situation".

"The pictures do prove that heavy weapons were used and indeed civilian casualties did occur, as shown by UN figures of the death toll since January," she said.

"In fact, HRW once recorded the sound of shelling which was dropping near a hospital."

Many civilians who fled the war zone said Tamil Tiger fighters used them as shields [AFP]
Yolanda Foster, an expert on Sri Lanka with Amnesty International, said "real fear" is growing for those trapped in the no-fire zone in light of the admission by Colombo that its forces had carried out raids.

"We are very concerned that this flagrant disregard for civilians living inside the 'safe zone' has now been admitted [by the Sri Lankan government]," she said.

"The government earlier on in the year was making claims that there were not so many civilians in the safe zone as, for example, the figures that the UN and Red Cross were giving out.

"It is not clear that the government can be trusted on its promises."

Salution to A Rebel With A Cause


Manikavasagam and Wife Malarkody Joins Thousands of Jayathas Well Wishers at a Dinner held to Raise Fund for his Kidney Transplant in India. Also present YB Siti Mariah (Kota Raja), YB Sivarasa (Subang), YB Gobind Singh (Puchong), YB Ravi (PD) and Human Right Lawyer N Surendran together Keadilan AMK Chief Shamsul Iskandar

There Comes a time, In every man’s life. He has to make a choice earlier to be a herd of sheep or a rebel with a cause.

Jayathas Sirkunavelu

A Melaka born lad, chose to give up

The comforts of modern day living

… preferring, to suffer pain over pleasure

To be incarcerated, abused and humiliated

All in the name of Justice

Jayathas Sirkunavelu

A Warrior , an activist

Defender of the voiceless

Imprisoned in ’02, ’03, ’07, ’08 and 2009

For championing human rights

Condemning police brutality and

Safeguarding the sanctity of Hindu temples


A day that’s etched in the collective conscience

Of every Malaysian Indian

The day when fear feared us

The day when the Malaysian Indians

Across the breath and width of the country

Descended to the capital city

To assert and demand our rights

The day when HINDRAF became a force

To be reckoned with

Jayathas Sirkunavelu

A Hero, forsake his future

Neglected his health

Now suffers Kidney failure

We , who are his brethren

Let’s take turn to save a hero

Who gave his best

For the betterment of us all.

I met Jayathas during Keadilan AMK Convention in year 2000 held in Trengganu. At that time , only 2 of us Indians attached to Keadilan AMK. Thereafter , Jayathas joined me at Police Watch Malaysia then into Hindraf as it’s coordinator.

The Act of Hindraf Chief suspending all State Coordinators , meant as strategic move to curb out Barisan Nasional planted Agents ” Ettapans” within us. Makkal Sakthi has won, it’s initial objective of formation. Just look how the Government of day mindset seems to be showing chances. Those , days only 5 to 10 of us with stage protest in front of police station. They will come in group and carry us away. Even , no news covered .

Now, we want to make police report they need water cannon and tear gas. Hundreds of Malaysian joining us a sign of more and more Malaysia been marginalised by ruling Government. Soon, entire Nation will stood up agains such injustice.

Let us pray for Jayathas well being, hopefully his kidney transplant be success and return home safely.

Valga Makkal Sakthi.

Umno reins in its media

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — Headlines are being scrutinised. Captions are being commented on. The space for alternative views is shrinking.

Instructions are flowing from Putrajaya, not necessarily from the Prime Minister but from individuals who claim they are empowered to speak on his behalf.

The nett result: the mood in newsrooms across the country has become more cautious and editors more wary of pushing the envelope since Datuk Seri Najib Razak became the chief executive of Malaysia.

And the sentiment in the profession is that the controls are going to get tighter now that Najib has installed Datuk Johan Jaafar as the head of the Media Prima empire and has endorsed the return of Datuk Ahmad A. Talib as the editorial adviser to the New Straits Times Press stable of newspapers.

Both individuals were senior members of the media establishment during the Mahathir era, a period when the Opposition had to be content with footnote coverage and the public was served with daily dose of government speak.

Johan was the top editor at Utusan Malaysia while Ahmad rose to become the group editor of the New Straits Times.

Skewed coverage of the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim abuse of power and sodomy trials in the mainstream media more than any other news event came to signify all that was wrong with the press during the Mahathir years. The one-sidedness led to the birth of websites and the Internet as a powerful platform for alternative views in Malaysia.

Ten years after the Anwar trials, the power of the Internet was felt. Pakatan Rakyat and its band of supporters used blogs and other alternative media platforms to convince Malaysians that the time for change had come.

After losing its two-thirds majority in Parliament and five states to the Opposition, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was forced to say that the Barisan Nasional "certainly lost the Internet war," and had made "a serious misjudgment" by relying solely on government-controlled newspapers and television.

During the Abdullah years, the media were given more space to criticise government policies and debate contentious issues. But Umno members felt that this policy was misguided because it only opened the ruling party and some of their politicians and institutions to ridicule.

Many Umno members yearned for a return to the Mahathir days when the mainstream media displayed their allegiance to BN and antipathy to the Opposition openly.

When it became clear that Abdullah could no longer remain as Umno president and PM, there were fears that Najib would bring about a tighter control of the media.

Publicly, the PM has said he wants to build a free press that is transparent, accountable and caters to the needs of all Malaysians regardless of their race.

To “build a democracy (that is) responsive to the needs of the people”, Malaysia needs a media that will “report what they see, without fear of consequence”, Najib said recently.

But there have been mixed signals, with a steady flow of instructions to editors from Najib’s aides and those who claim they are speaking on his behalf.

Reporters have been asked to stop poking around and digging up dirt on the political infighting in Terengganu and play down adverse comments on 1 Malaysia.

Ahmad left the NST in 2004 and was part of senior management which presided over the steepest drop in the newspaper’s circulation. He worked with Maxis for several years before becoming a media strategist and blogger. He was part of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s inner circle.

Now, he has been given the task of bringing some order at the NST.

The Malaysian Insider understands that there has been some concern over the editorial stance of the newspapers under the stable.

The NSTP board of directors is expected to meet soon to confirm Ahmad’s position as the editorial adviser. Group-editor-in chief Datuk Hishammuddin Aun, a newspaperman who was elevated during Abdullah’s reign, is expected to report to him.

Testing the limits on changes to conversion laws

KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — The Court of Appeal’s decision to refer the case involving the custody and conversion of the sons of S. Shamala and Muhamad Ridzwan (Dr Jeyaganesh C. Mogarajah) to the Federal Court last Tuesday has given rise to some interesting issues.

Chiefly, it is going to be one of the biggest tests for the government as well as the judiciary system after the Cabinet made a courageous decision that children of divorced parents should be raised in the religion of the time of their marriage should one of them later convert to another religion.

The Cabinet’s landmark decision two weeks ago is thus set to be tested by the highest court of the land if the current laws and enactments are not amended to provide a clear interpretation on matters related to such conversion cases, according to those in the legal circle.

The Cabinet’s decision is seen by many as a move to alleviate the frustration of parents when their children are converted to another religion without their knowledge, consent or against their will.

The move is in line with the spirit of 1 Malaysia, a concept espoused by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who has called on Malaysians to refrain from viewing matters from narrow ethnic perspectives or from their “ethnic silos” as he had once described.

Malaysia has a dual-track legal system, with civil courts and syariah courts operating side by side.

The Court of Appeal has decided to refer five constitutional questions to the apex court before hearing the appeals as it wanted the Federal Court to adjudicate on conflicting Islamic and civil laws governing conversion and the freedom of the practice of religion.

For example, there will be this question of whether the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993, which gave the right to a converted parent to convert his or her children from a civil marriage without the knowledge and consent of the other parent, is inconsistent with the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961. This is because the amended Guardianship of Infants Act gives equal rights to a mother and father on the upbringing and custody of their children.

Then there will also be the issue of whether the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 (Act 505) is in conflict with the Federal Constitution and a federal law relating to the issue of converting a minor by a parent.

The Federal Court also has to decide whether there is jurisdiction for the High Court or syariah court to make conflicting orders and if there had been a conversion of the children from a civil marriage into Islam by one parent without the consent of the other parent, where then would the non-Muslim parent seek remedy.

In the Shamala-Muhamad Ridzwan case, both relied on both sets of laws, with Muhamad on syariah law and Shamala on the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.

Under the two different systems of law, both were granted custody over the two boys who were born during their 11 years of marriage, and seven years later, they still do not have closure on the case.

The same also happened in the case of Indira Ghandi and K. Patmanathan (Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah), where the syariah court had earlier granted interim custody of the children to Mohd Ridzuan and two weeks later, the Ipoh High Court granted interim custody to Indira.

In layman’s terms, it is a matter of concern if the Federal Court has to make an interpretation of whether the civil court has jurisdiction over the syariah court if the marriage was first registered under civil law.

However, some quarters are concerned that without any amendment to the existing and related laws, the Cabinet’s decision may not be helpful to those who seek remedies or solutions to their plight.

As pointed out by Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan, the Cabinet directive was a policy statement that required amendments to existing laws for their full realisation.

“The relevant legislation must be immediately amended in order to fully implement this directive without further delay,” he said.

For Senator Datuk Gooi Hoe Hin, he said in the spirit of 1 Malaysia, the government of the day should go on a fast-track mode to amend various laws to avoid further apprehension that the fundamental rights of non-Muslims enshrined in the federal constitution were not violated.

The laws that need to be amended involve Article 12(4) and Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, Guardianship of Infants Act, 1961 (revised 1988) and The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.

Such amendments are to ensure that the basic principles of a socially just system were further enhanced, thereby enabling the people to greater confidence in the government, Gooi said.

However, some still argue that asking the government to make the related changes as soon as possible is easy but the reality is that it will take some time to effect them. This is especially so on such crucial and important matters related to amendments in Islamic law which needed the consent of the Malay rulers and Islamic bodies.

A number of Muslim organisations have been reported to be against the Cabinet directive and this has posed a question mark on whether such amendments could be carried out.

Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria pointed out that the government needed to get views from the Malaysian Mufti Council as he stressed that “in Islam when the father or mother is a Muslim, the child automatically becomes a Muslim unless the child is above 15 years of age and can choose his own religion.”

For many syariah lawyers, they felt that the Cabinet decision had denied the rights of people who converted to Islam.

Senior lawyer Roger Tan said the Federal Court can decide either way or it might not make any decision on the matter and would ask the legislature to clear out the conflicting or overlapping jurisdiction.

“The Federal Court can decide and work both ways. It can depart from normal decisions. Nobody knows for sure,” he said.

Whatever it is, the government will need the support of the majority in Parliament to make the necessary changes for the benefit of all in the courageous spirit of 1 Malaysia. — Bernama

People can criticise Rulers, says Asri

Mohamad Asri is an icon for progressive Muslim voices. — Picture by Jeremiah Mahadevan

By Shannon Teoh- The Malaysian Insider

LAMPETER (Wales), May 2 — Regardless of the state of the monarchy in Malaysia, a society that wants to move forward should shed medieval and feudal traditions, said former Perlis mufti Mohamad Asri Zainul Abidin.

"Citizens should have the right to criticise the Rulers. In Islam, there is no such thing as any person who is above criticism," he told The Malaysian Insider when asked about the issue of derhaka, or betrayal, that has become a point of contention amongst Muslims in the country.

The issue of derhaka came into prominence in February after Sultan Azlan Shah refused to dissolve the Perak assembly upon the request of the then Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin.

The Sultan of Perak later appointed Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir as mentri besar after installing Barisan Nasional as the state government. Certain quarters, especially BN, have tried to convince the public, especially the Malays, that criticising or disputing the decisions of the Rulers was tantamount to treason.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh, having stated that the Sultan could be sued along with the new BN state government, is now facing a sedition trial.

The maverick Islamic scholar, who has a strong following among young Muslims in Malaysia, said that the idea of being Malay and Muslim should be decoupled and addressed separately.

Speaking at his home in Lampeter, he disagreed with the conventional understanding that Malays have been Islamised but instead that they have "meMelayukan (to influence with Malay) Islam."

Asri, who was mufti for two years before quitting the position to move to Wales last December to research on Islam, was no stranger to controversial statements in his time as mufti. He became an icon for progressive Muslim voices for his stand against the propensity of religious authorities to conduct raids on Muslim couples engaged in khalwat, or close proximity, and has stated that non-Muslims had a right to use the word "Allah".

Asri said that Malays had to stop equating Islam with the Malays.

"If Malays want to defend their rights, go ahead based on Bumiputera rights or whatever. But you cannot say Islam does not defend you because you are Chinese or Indian. Islam was not given just to the Malays.

"Do not in your efforts to defend Malay rights relate it to Islam. Islam was not sent down by God to protect Malays but all of humanity," he explained, saying that such moves in the past had caused non-Malays to be fearful of the religion as it appeared to be intent on removing their culture.

During the interview, Asri expressed his consternation over ideas that have taken root in Malaysia under the guise of Islamic principles.

"Sometimes there are terms which we cannot understand. Daulat (sovereignty) for example. What is the meaning of daulat? Does this mean that if you criticise a Ruler, then you will be cursed by God? This is not in Islam," he said.

Voice of Hindraf - Apr 2009

1. RM 2 million for new Bukit Jalil Tamil School. The condition of the school was shocking but Deputy Prime Minister (and Education Minister) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was most impressed with the teachers and students. “I feel sad that they have to put up with this old and rundown school which has been around for 75 years. Despite the aid provided by the government, the infrastructure is not that good.” The building could pose a threat to the safety of the students and teachers it’s stuffy and uncomfortable. I am sympathetic to their plight, “Muhyiddin said after visiting SJKT Ladang Bukit Jalil, near Puchong here. The school does not have a field and it’s class rooms are cramped. Muhyiddin announced an immediate allocation of Rm 2 million for the school’s new building to be built on an adjacent 0.3 ha plot of land belonging to Kuala Lumpur city hall. He said the new classrooms and authorities would be able to cater for about 200 students when completed next year. The school now accommodates 90 students. Muhyiddin also said the school would be fully aided. Muhyiddin later visited SMK Setapak Indah. He was joined by works Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor (here) to check on the condition of the school would be relocated and would be made fully aided. But it is going to be back to square one as only Rm 2 Million is allocated to build the new school to cater for the new Parit Mara Junior college (MSRM) UMNO announces Rm 80 Million why this discrimination ? so this UMNO Deputy Prime Minister wants the already poor Indian community to go around and begging for funds to rebuild the new Tamil school like what UMNO has been doing for the last 52 years. How come the SMK Setapak Indah does not get piece meal allocations to build their school but get the full budget to build the school how many million ever it may cost. But the DPRA has the check to announce Rm 2 Million but that the school is fully aided. The DPRA still thinks that the Indians are stupid and would not question UMNO out of fear. That may have been the position before the 100,000 people Hindraf Rally on 25/11/07. On the one hand the DPRA acknowledges that the existing school does not have a school field and says the school meant for 200 students would be rebuilt on a 0.3 hectre piece of land. But doesn’t the DPM know that on a 0.3 hectre piece of land there cannot be a school field in addition to the school building. The DPM says that the classrooms in the present school are cramped. But it is not going to be very much different in the new plot of 0.3 hectre land and to cater for 200 students. We suggest the following:-

· This school is relocated to a nearby meaning within one kilometer radius ten acre land for the new school to be rebuilt, a football field, to cater for future expension and future influx of students. In this new school compound a multi purpose community hall catering for 5,000 people is to be built. This hall will be the school assembly hall cum wedding and community functions hall. The proceeds of this hall rentals can go to the Parent Teachers Association and which is to be used for the students welfare. Also a school hostel to cater for 200 pupils is built in this new school building to cater for the poor and also high achieving Tamil schools students making this the first fully Residential Tamil School in Malaysia. The present school building with its unique rubber smoke house like structure and on arch is to be preserved as the heritage and symbol of the contribution of the plantation workers in this country. It can be preserved as the first Tamil school museum in Malaysia. The above is very pertinent especially to undo the injustices to the Malaysian Indian community especially the rubber tapper and palm oil plantation Indian community in Malaysia. On a similar note all Tamil schools in Malaysia should be developed along the lines of this our proposed new Bukit Jalil Tamil School with equal status, funding, facilities, teacher and staff support. Then and only then are we on the way to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s One Malaysia come on UMNO. 52 years of bullying and cheating the Indians is enough stop all these peanuts and bread crumbs politics. The Indians want to be in the national mainstream development of Malaysia. In any event you (UMNO) are dealing with the fifth and sixth Malaysian born Indians now and no more our grand parents and great grandparents who would be frightened of UMNO, their threat of ISA, May 13 or Kampong Medan racial attacks specifically targetted at the Indians by people from outside Kampung Medan and believed to be UMNO sponsored.

2 Last year the charges for TOL for two acres of land was only RM200.00. This year it has increased to rm800.00. Says Pahang DAP Vice Chairman J. Simathiri (TN23/4/2009 page 7). With the price of vegetables having dropped, this increase of TOL rates to the government is burden some.

3. RM80 Million to built MSRM Parit. Says the ADUN Blanja Datuk Mohd Zaim Abu Hasan (UM 23/4/2009 at page 26) (Voice of Hindraf)→ But newly minted UMNO Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak immediately upon assuming the Prime Minister’s office makes a grand announcement of RM80 million for the 523 Tamil schools as opposed to UMNO’s RM80 Million for just one MSRM Mara College which is exclusively for the malay muslims only. Part of this RM80 million appears to be a repeat of an earlier RM30 million “grand announcement” by Samy Vellu about a couple of months ago. Then whether this RM80 million actually filters down is another matter all together. Tamil school headmasters, Parent Teacher Associations of Tamil schools, MIC then have to go around begging for this RM80 Million “grand announcement”. There was an occasion last year when Negeri Sembilan Exco MemberV.S. Mohan had to come out with his own money to put up electricity connection to an estate Tamil school in the outskirts of Bahau as was reported in Tamil Nesan. Still then no time limit has been imposed to ensure that his RM80 Million actually filters down to the Tamil schools as is done for the Malay schools and other Malay muslim projects. A time limit of six months must be targetted for this RM80 million to filter down (in the interim). But all this atrocities can only happen under UMNO Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s One Malaysia policy. In any event we are no longer interested in bits and pieces but Millions of allocations for Tamil schools which are peanuts and bread crumbs as you could only built one toilet with this RM80 Million if divided into all the 523 Tamil schools in Malaysia. This “Million of grand” announcement is an obsolete style of UMNO politics which may have stuck with our grandfathers and great grandfathers. UMNO must realise that they are dealing with the current fifth and six generation Malaysian born Indians and in era when the world’s most powerful nation the USA has a black and “muslim” Barack Hussein Obama as their President. When RM80 Million is approved for on MSRM Mara College, then there should be no reason why RM80 Million cannot be approved for each and every Tamil school. Education being a basic necessity and especially with former Education Minister having been appointed as a UNESCO Council Member all 523 Tamil schools should be made fully aided Tamil schools with equal facilities, financial allocation, teacher and support staff strength like any other Malay schools. After all this is in line with UMNO Prime Minister’s One Malaysia Policy. Or is it not?

4 Hope floats for 9A student Desmond Raju from Datuk Anthony Ratos, Director of Yayasan Kesenian Orang Asli and two others make offers of held or suggestions (NST 23/4/2009 at page 10) (Voice of Hindraf). But the point is it is the UMNO government’s responsibility and not the individuals who may or may not keep up their promises of help. By this news report UMNO has closed the case of Raju deserving a scholarship as of right. UMNO has also closed the cases on thousands of other bright and deserving students who ought to have been given scholarships this year.

5. Tamil news reverted to old time at 7.30 pm daily with effect from 1/5/2009 but now on TV2 instead of the earlier TV1 Information Channell says Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim after bowing to pressure from MIC and PPP. Last Saturday MIC Minister wrote to Rais expressing the community’s displeasure as they would still be traveling home from work (NST 23/4/2009 at page 2, TN 23/4/2009 head lines) (Voice of Hindraf). Classics of a political game played by UMNO for the last 52 years ie they claim credit out of nothing and think they are scoring political points by playing yo-yo with the Indians. The tamil news was originally at 7.30 pm. It was moved to 6.00 pm as soon as Rais Yatim took over as the new Information Minister after the first Cabinet Meeting. AT this first Cabinet Meeting, the MIC Minister Dr. Subra had no power to put his foot down and say it should remain at 7.30 pm. Or this MIC “mandore” Minister agreed with UMNO at the Cabinet Meeting to do a Wayang Kulit ie to change the news slot to 6.00 pm and then MIC will protest and at the end of the day UMNO bows to and reverts the said slot back to 7.30 pm. And the Indians are supposed to be thankful and grateful to UMNO. This is after having created anxiety and giving room to the MIC “mandore” to be seen to be “fighting” for the Indians. Any way it was a good show UMNO! But let us get to the point especially with the Billions announced early this year to convert RTM’s broadcasting to digital which could accommodate scores of TV Channels at least one free TV Channel could be dedicated for the poor and under privileged Indian peoples entertainment with Tamil programmes and at the same time upgrading their quality of life. The Indian Plantation worker who earns RM325.00 of basic salary a month cannot afford to pay RM80.00 per month for Astro. TV1, TV2, TV3 and 9TV caters largerly about 80% to Malay and Indonesia foreigners viewers. NTV7 and 8TV caters to with about 70% Chinese Programmes. Why not one Tamil TV station on a similar note for the poor Indians. Similarly an additional Tamil old songs Radio Channell for the poor Indians in their golden years. This would then be in line with the One Malaysia Policy which Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced. And not playing yo-yo by moving the Tamil news forward and backward as is being done by UMNO’s Rais Yatim. UMNO is still playing the obsolete politics thinking that they can fool and pull wool over the Indian eyes. No more though after the 25th November 2007 Hindraf Makkal Sakthi People Power movement and thereafter.

6. S.Karupanan (73) had his RM200.00 welfare aid cut when he was temporarily staying in a house which had Astro service. For K.Shanmugam (51) who applied for welfare assistance in 2005 on becoming paralysed, it has been a string of no’s form the department for aid. His mistake he believes was his honest reply that he had a TV set and Astro at home. The former crane driver was earning RM2,000.00 in Singapore. When a motorcycle accident left him paralysed four years ago. A relative pays his Astro bills and he only had Astro to keep him company when his children are out . The only pleasure in his life now is Astro. Another case is that of a 40 years old paralysed from the neck downwards (Indian lady) who lives with her partly paralysed mother. She decided against applying for an Astro after being warded by the Welfare Officer that they would cut aid to them is she did so. Astro was the only company she and her mother could have at home. “We cannot leave our house and we live on donations and welfare aid. What’s wrong if some people who sympathise want to get us an Astro connection? Welfare Director General Datuk Mewe Zainal Rashid could not be reached for comment (NST 22/4/2009 at page 6). Voice of Hindraf. This has been happening to thousands of Indians who either were never given welfare aid though they were qualified or their aid delayed deliberately or stopped at the smallest excuse just because they are all Indians. This has gone on for 52 years and is now continuing under the latest UMNO Prime Minister Najib Razak’s One Malaysia Policy. Ask Najib and he has to tell you that this is among the things he had in mind when he outlined his One Malaysia Policy!

7. 9As and 1B and nowhere to go for studies for Desmond Dominic Raju Petaling Jaya in his letter to the Editor – 1 sat for the SPM exam last year. My father died in 2002 when I was in year five. Since then my mother and I have been living off my mother’s Socso payments. My father always encouraged me to study hard to achieve my dreams and I did. As a result I got 5As in UPSR, 7As in PMR and 9As and 1B in SPM. I have always believed that the world is a fair and just place to live in. I applied for a number of scholarships – Yayasan TM, Yayasan TNB, Khazanah scholarship, Bank Negara scholarship and UEB scholarships. I also applied to matriculation and IPTA. To my disappointment, I was turned down by all of them. I learnt that I did not get into matriculation on my birthday. I have applied for a Public Service Department scholarship and I hope I get it for the course I applied for so that I can pursue my studies. I hope that somebody out there has the heart to give me the kind of assistance I need to make it in life by becoming a psychologist (NST 21/4/2009 at page 18). Voice of Hindraf. This is the height and the kind of UMNO’s racism and religious extremism Hindraf has been fighting against. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands more every year are denied educational and scholarship opportunities just because they are Indians. If this top student is not given the opportunities, can you imagine the thousands of other average Indian students getting nowhere. But this would never happen to a malay muslim student. For a malay muslim student, the sky is the limit for him. There are no obstacles as has happened to Raju here. But all these are happening in Prime Minister Najin Tun Razak’s One Malaysia Policy! – but two systems. One for the malay muslims and another for especially the Indians. It is no wonder why the PSD Director General this year reversed PSD’s decision last year that all students scoring 9As and above will automatically get a scholarship to study overseas or locally. But this year UMNO has directed that this policy be reversed so as to create an ambiguity confusion and to exclude Indian students like Raju, UMNO will never change. We will have to change UMNO in the 2012/2013 general elections.

8. Conversion to Islam of three children by their converted father without their mother M. Indra Ghandi’s knowledge or consent case will take a while to solve says MIC Minister Dr. S Subramaniam after a meeting with two other members of the committee (formed by Prime Minister Najib’s cabinet to solve this problem) (NST 21/4/2009 at page 10). Voice of Hindraf. This is the classical delay tactic which will eventually be forgotten and never to see the light of the day strategy which UMNO has successfully employed through their “mandores” the MIC. But this poor mother will continuously live in the fear of not knowing when her three children aged between 1 to 12 will be forcibly to be taken away from her by UMNO’s Islamic Religious Department. This pain and suffering only this mother will be able to feel while the rest of the Indians can only watch helplessly. This is Prime Minister Najib’s One Malaysia Policy and no where else in any other part of thee civilized world. UMNO will never change. We will have to change UMNO in the 2012/2013 general elections. This is the one and only way forward.

9. (PKR’s) Selangor Menteri Besar presented RM2 million to 25 Chinese schools throughout the state @ about RM100,000.00 per Chinese school (NST 21/4/2009 at page 6). Voice of Hindraf. But for the 97 Tamil schools in the state of Selangor there is no history of this Tan Sri Khalid as the Menteri Besar of Selangor giving out this kind of RM100,000.00 allocation. In fact these Tamil schools need 10 times more allocation than the Chinese schools because of its 52 years of neglect by the UMNO Federal and Selangor state governments, it’s dilapidated conditions and the poor and underprivileged Indian community not being able to afford to chip into build extend and maintain their Tamil schools. The Chinese schools are backed up by the far economically superior Chinese business, entrepreneur and Industralised community. To the converse, the Selangor PKR,PR State government like the previous UMNO Selangor State government send their PKR Indian Exco “mandore” to dish out peanuts and breadcrumbs of RM20,000.00 or so per Tamil school and providing piped water, electricity and school bus fares to the poor Indian estate workers and their children. These peanut promises and promises of better housing from their existing one bedroom estate lives after 52 years of independence! And this PKR/PR state government is supposed to be our state government who would not have come to power if not for the Indian votes. How much different is this PKR/PR Selangor State government from the previous UMNO government? If after about 1 year and two months of ruling the Selangor state and they being unable to grant even a one acre land for the Taman Karupiah, Taman Rimba Jaya, Padang Jawa, hindu temple that was unlawfully demolished by the former Khir Toyo government on 8/11/2007 then do you think they are going to grant state land to all the other hindu temples, tamil schools, crematoriums, graveyards and Indian squatters in Selangor? Res Ipsa Loquiteour!
10. Prime Minister Najib says that 15% of the ASW 2020 and ASM shares up to 20,000 shares (@RM1.00 each) are reserved for Indians. ASM units reserved for any race that remain unsold after July 20th will be open for sale to others. It is however unlikely that the units won’t be snapped up especially for the non bumiputera units as these had always been sold within a day or two (NST 21/4/2009 at page 2). Voice of Hindraf. This is the very same political game UMNO and Prime Minister Najib have been collectively playing for the last 52 years ie. lumping the about 70% poor hardcore poor Indians and 90% mere daily wage and monthly wage earners together with the almost all rich and for economically superior Chinese. By doing this UMNO and Najib think they have solved also the Indian problem. At the last count the Indian equity had actually decreased from 1.5% to 1.2%. We believe this Indian equity figure is a mere 0.5% of the country’s equity and this too held by the likes of Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan and Tony Fernendez and some MIC cronies. Our estimates is 99% of the Two Million Indian population in Malaysia do not have the spare cash to buy up shares or similar investments. This has been made possible with courtesy of UMNO’s inequality and inequality policy in governing Malaysia for over the last 52 years. Thank you UMNO. We love you! Thank you Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. We love you too!.

11. The ASW 2020 introduced in 1996 had proven the government wants equal participation from the people irrespective of race or religion. The overwhelming response to ASW 2020 had brought about the introduction of ASM in 2020, PM Najib (NST 21/4/2009 at page 1 & 2). RM3.3 Billion units offer in Amanah Saham Malaysia and 2 Billion units offer for Amanah Saham Wawasan 2020. More than RM5 Billion have flowed into the funds over the past several months and RM10 Billion for last year. Voice of Hindraf. But this 5.3 Billion new units of ASM and ASW 2020 and the RM5 Billion investments have hardly benefited the Indians. Even as late as two weeks ago the Tamil Nesan reported that 13 Indian children aged between 4 and 14 years of age are forced to go to bed hungry because of poverty. And this can only happen in Prime Minister Najib’s One Malaysia (but two systems) government policy. This Indian family’s state of poverty is only the tip of the iceberg. About 70% of the two million Indians Malaysia under 52 years of UMNO rule have been kept/reduced into the poor and hardcore poor group. About 90% of the Indians are merely monthly and daily wage earners. How and where are these Indians supposed to come out with RM20,000.00 to buy the ASM and ASW 2020 shares. They are struggling even for their day to day living and are living from hand to month. In the event of an emergency serious medical situation they do not have the money to even treat their loved ones. Many are left with no choice but to let their loved ones die as they cannot afford the medical bill. You can say but there is the National Welfare and Medical State Funds. But these funds are seen to it by UMNO that it does not reach the Indians under UMNO’s racist and religious extremist policies. It would have been more credible if Najib had also announced an automatic bank loan of RM20,000.00 to each and every Indian to but these ASM and ASW 2020 shares as is done for almost each and every malay muslim. The lowest dividend PNB, ASW2020 or ASM has announced is 7% where as the current Bank interest rate s are only about 4.0%. So there is no way an individual would lose out by buying these ASW and ASM shares. Further the money invested in the most secure, blue chip and guaranteed returns company which has the full backing of the government like Perodua, CCM, Sime Darby, Island and Peninsula, May Bank, UMW, MIDF, Prolintas MMC etc. Over the last 30 years PNB by this method has redistributed wealth to about Nine Million mostly poor and underprivileged malay muslims but the Indians are specifically excluded. The least Prime Minister Najib can do now is to announce and direct at least Maybank which is controlled by PNB to in addition to the malay muslims also grant loans to all the Indians to buy these ASW 2020 and ASM shares. A list of the Indians who were able to buy these shares must be made public in the PNB Website. The Indians must be able to complain to our proposed Anti Race Discrimination and Equal Opportunities Commissions also having members form UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and Hindraf. Then and only then are we on Najib’s One Malaysia Policy. Anything short of this will be merely political rhetoric or in the layman’s words Najib’s cakap kosong for the Indians. There cannot be One Malaysia Policy but two systems being implemented by UMNO’s Prime Minister Najib under the Malay muslim Supremacy policy which has been in place for over the last 52 years.

12. PM Najib Razak → For example when we talk about helping the poor we must be helping the poor of all communities. And I think the poor of all communities deserve to be helped. “So our programmes, our financial allocations must reflect the need to tackle the problems of the poor across all racial and ethnic lives”. “I think every Malaysian should be able to accomplish the maximum in terms of his or her self development Najib said current systems such as the education system, scholarships, financial assistance and opportunities should reflect this and there were no limits. “The limits are not set because of your ethnic background. The limits are set because of your own personal ability” Voice of Hindraf. → Another set of profound statements never meant to be implemented or practiced by yet another UMNO Prime Minister (NST 20/4/2009 at page 2).

13. Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said has cancelled a trip to Russia and Ukraine beginning today to witness a Memorandum of Understanding signing between the state government and several higher learning institutions there. (NST 20.4.2009 at page 2). Voice of Hindraf. This Menteri Besar and the other 13 (presumably) are going out of their way to ensure malay muslim students get to study medicine and technology courses. But to the contrary zero has been done to also include the Indian students wanting to study in Russia and Ukraine even at their own parents hard earned money. Again to the contrary the aforesaid malay muslim students are granted full government scholarships Entrepreneur Minister Noh Omar did same trip. The tip of the iceberg of the malicious intent of UMNO of stopping the Indian students from graduating and practicing as medical doctors in Malaysia is when the Director General of the Health Ministry Dr. Ismail Merican saw to it that many Universities and Medical Colleges with almost all Indian students were derecognized in Russia, Ukraine, Romania, India, Indonesia etc. The foremost University was the Crimea State Medical University of Ukraine in 2004 where its medical degree was derecognized as it had almost all Malaysian Indian students. But since 2004 what has this Dr. Ismail Merican, Menteri Besar Ismail said or the Entrepreneur Minister Datuk Noh Omar done to facilitate at least these private medical students wanting to study medicine at these overseas Universities. These UMNO leaders and their agents have destroyed thousands of Indian students future and lives. But what have they built?

14. 85% literacy rate among Malaysians says DPM Muhyiddin Yassin (UM 19/4/2009 at page 18). Voice of Hindraf → An estimated 70% of the Malaysian Indian population cannot write a letter of complaint to a government department on their own in malay. Voice of Hindraf → This is the Malaysian education system for what we have under Prime Minister Najib’s One Malaysia concept. One Malaysia but two seats of standards when it comes to access to higher education especially for the Malaysian Indians.

15. Stop raising racial sentiments says UMNO leader for Penang Arif Shah Omar Shah (UM 19/4/2009 at page 19). Voice of Hindraf → The day UMNO stops their racist and religious extremist plans, policies and the implementation of the same, there would exist no room for raising “racial sentiments” in the first place. In any event opposing racial and religious discrimination, inequality and inequal opportunities especially on the Indians cannot amount to raising racial sentiments which UMNO conveniently says standing up for racial and religious equality, anti racial and religious, inequality and inequal opportunities can be “raising racial sentiments” nowhere else in the world but only in Malaysia and only under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s One Malaysia concept.

16. Tamil news change of time from 7.30 pm to 6.00 pm, please review decision, MIC Minister Dr. Subra appeals (TM19/4/2009 at page 1).Voice of Hindraf → Just three days before on the Wednesday Cabinet Meeting this decision must have been made to take off the Tamil news from the prime time, TV slot. But it is so plain and obvious that this Minister like his boss and the worlds longest standing Minister Samy Vellu have/had no or very little say in the cabinet despite supposedly representing the Two Million Indians in Malaysia. That is why this minister is making his appeal through the Tamil media. This is Prime Minster Najib Tun Razak’s One Malaysia Concept. Another slogan by yet another UMNO Prime Minister.

17. Snatching away Tamil School land MIC would not stand by and just watch the show. Says Deputy Minister S.K.Devamany. With reference to the private developers sending an application to the Land office saying they want to take part of the school field. MIC will continue fighting. The Gombak MIC Chief has brought this up with the Gombak Land Office and the Education Department. Not knowing the outcome they are waiting for the Works Ministry’s and the Education Ministry’s Development’s further action says Devamany. He then moved on to say that in February 2008 Samy Vellu announced RM30 Million for Tamil Schools. Then in the first stimulas package and second economic package a sum of RM50 million was announced by Prime Minister Najib. One big photo with Devamany on the school field. With the PTA Members and another big photo at the school meeting in (TN 18/4/2009 at page 3). Voice of Hindraf → This Deputy Minister never solved the problem. He creates confusion and no clarify as he is pointing to the Gombak Land office, education ministry and the Works Ministry and at the same time diverts the Indian minds to the RM30 Million plus RM50 million plus RM50 million in terms of Tamil school budget which in any event is not sure of all filtering down to the Tamil Schools. UMNO has created another ambiguity by not setting a time frame for this money to be utilized and for example a monthly report on the Prime Ministers and the Education Minister’s website on the progress of this RM180 Million. Any way this Deputy Minister can only make statements that MIC will not stand by and merely watch. He is powerless to solve the real problem as the MIC has been for the last 52 years so he plays politics. Anyway we cannot take aim at MIC as they are merely the “mandores” of UMNO. UMNO is the real culprit. We have to go for UMNO who has put the Indians with the critical problems they are facing now. Under Najib’s One Malasyia concept even a Tamil Schools field problem cannot be solved. Do you think Najib is going to seriously solve the scores of critical Indian problems?

18. Small and Medium scale Entrepreneurs can get loans from banks easily say the Housing and Local Government Minister. They can get RM50,000.00 for small businesses and with a lower interest rate (TN 18/4/2009 at page 2). Voice of Hindraf → But almost all Indians who apply for these loans have their loans rejected. Last year the Malaysian Indian Business Association President P. Sivakumar had said that all 200 of his members applications for business loans had been rejected! So where do we go from here. We have repeatedly proposed on Equal Opportunities Commission and an Anti Racial and Religious Discrimination Commission to also be empanelled by at least half from the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Hindraf. This is the only way forward. But will UMNO agree to this. The answer is no. UMNO will never change. We will have to change UMNO in the 2012/2013 general elections. The One Malaysia concept by Prime Minister Najib is just another slogan by another UMNO Prime Minister.

Put APs on the scrap heap

The complete dismantling of APs will be a good first step to undo all the wrong moves made with respect to the auto industry in Malaysia

P. Gunasegaram, The Star

THE approved permit or AP scheme to restrict imports of foreign cars and vehicles is together with the national car projects a travesty to the Malaysian public – they both push local prices of vehicles much higher than they need to be.

The dismantling of the AP system and gradual lowering of import duties are key parts to making cars – after houses the most expensive purchase many people make – more affordable to Malaysians.

The amount that Malaysians will save from lower car prices will be in the billions of ringgit per year. That puts a lot more spending power in the hands of people instead of subsidising inefficient industries and helping them make a profit at the expense of the general public.

APs were introduced to control the import of some goods and materials, especially those which may compete with products from local manufacturers. These include cars and steel amongst others.

The idea was essentially protectionist – to ensure that imports of some of these items did not threaten local producers. Thus, when there were shortages of steel, the government permitted their import.

But in the case of cars, they were used as a tool to promote the participation of bumiputras in the motor retail trade from as far back as the 70s. As with other such measures, they eventually morphed into something else altogether.

The mere issue of APs, up to 50,000 per year of them which could be worth as much as RM30,000 each or a cool RM1.5bil a year, became the path to quick riches and a handful of businessmen became immensely wealthy this way by being favoured year after year.

This in fact became a major point of argument between former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and then Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz in 2005 when the former said the issue of too many APs were affecting the profits of national car manufacturer Proton.

APs have become, in addition to a tool of protectionism, a way to distribute patronage because those who obtained them could find ways and means to effectively sell them to a dealer who wants to import a car from overseas. Every imported car must have an AP. The dealer has to not only pay the cost of the AP but the import tax and other duties as well, sometimes as high as 300% and often well over a 100%, which simply adds another layer of cost to the car buyer and another layer of profit to essentially a middleman.

The simplest way to overcome the problem is to simply scrap APs. According to newly anointed Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, Mahathir’s son, that’s what the Government is considering.

If anyone wants to bring a car into the country, simply pay the applicable taxes – that’s all. And it would help greatly if Customs just kept a reputable list of international prices of cars, abided by it and made it available to everyone.

If you have the documentation and the money to pay the tax, bring the car in.

Auctioning APs off to the highest bidder is NOT a solution. It has too many administrative problems and it would still create a group of people who are given exclusive rights to import cars when it should be everyone’s right to do so.

And it would be the right first step to take to undertake a badly needed reform of the motor sector in the country.

l Managing editor P. Gunasegaram thinks that Malaysians continue to pay too high a price for the luxury of a domestic motor industry.

Labour Day morning in Seremban

Demo bantah kabinet isu agama anak

A MOTHER’S RIGHTS: No religious basis to convert baby


I READ the case of Indira Gandhi and her struggle to secure her right to live with her three children -- Karan Dinish, 11, Tevi Darsiny, 12, and 1-year-old Prasana Diksa, who is still on breast milk.

The New Sunday Times reported that Indira, a kindergarten teacher, had been waiting for her baby girl in the compound of the Ipoh district police station, but her baby was not returned to her by her estranged husband, who has converted to Islam.

As a lecturer of Islamic theology and philosophy, I am of the view that K. Patmanathan, who is now known as Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, should return Prasana Diksa to her mother. The Hindu mother has every right to look after the baby.

Islamic theology does not impose any religious duty on the father to take away the baby girl from her Hindu mother.

This baby should not be prohibited by her father from being breastfed by her mother. If he does, he is wrong and evil in Islamic theological view because Islam does not impose any religious duty on any baby regardless whether she was born to a Hindu or Muslim mother. Islam imposes Islamic religious duties upon mature men and women, not upon babies and children. Please let this baby girl be breastfed by her mother.
Some Muslims hold the view that when a husband or wife converts to Islam, he or she has the right in Islamic law to take the children with him or her and then convert the children to Islam. Islamic law does not say so.

The "Islamness" of the children is not taken into account in Islamic theology. Islamic theology will count on the "Islamness" of human beings who are mature.

The Islamic terms for mature, sensible and responsible human beings are "aqil" and "baligh". Patmanathan has been supported by some ignorant Muslims on the pretext of protecting the purity of Islam and his three children. These Muslims are wrong.

There is no Islamic legal basis for Muslims to help someone take away a baby from her mother and then convert that baby to Islam. Islam does not count on the converted babies and Islam does not reward those who have converted the babies to Islam.

The babies have no Islamic religious duties and, therefore, they are neither rewarded nor punished for such actions.

Therefore, I support the decision by the prime minister and his cabinet that the civil marriage has to be settled by the civil court and the religion of their children be the religion at the time their parents were married in civil law. With this decision, the baby should be returned to Indira as she needs to be breastfed and cared for.

I think the police should arrest Patmanathan if he is reluctant to deliver Prasana Diksa back to Indira after the court decided to give her interim custody of her three children.

Patmanathan is a bad Muslim if he does not hand back Prasana Diksa to her mother and does not pay compensation to Indira for looking after the baby and for breastfeeding her for two years. Being breastfed by a Hindu mother does not make the baby an infidel. She is still eligible to convert to Islam after she grows up and becomes an adult.

Patmanathan himself drank the breast milk from his Hindu mother and consumed food and drinks, probably prohibited by Islamic law, until he reached the age of 40 before he suddenly decided to convert to Islam.

He should not impose his Islam-ness on his children. Let them be what they want to be like he did. He grew up as a Hindu boy, a Hindu youth and then a Hindu adult before he changed his Hinduism to Islam after he had probably encountered problems in his marriage.

I do not support non-Muslims who convert to Islam just because they want to run away from their responsibilities as husbands or wives or because they want to marry Muslim women or Muslim men.

BN names MIC man as Perak Speaker

IPOH, May 1 — Barisan Nasional (BN) has nominated former Sungkai assemblyman Datuk R. Ganesan from the MIC as the new Perak State Assembly Speaker, said Speaker V. Sivakumar.

Writing in his blog, Sivakumar said the motion was handed to the Perak State Assembly secretary's office yesterday morning.

The motion dated April 29 was proposed by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and seconded by state executive councillor Datuk Hamidah Osman.

"An acceptance letter from Datuk R. Ganesan on the appointment was attached to the motion," he said.

At a news conference yesterday, Sivakumar said he had received a motion to remove him as speaker but had yet to make any decision.

Zambry is expected to move a motion, to be seconded by Hamidah, for Sivakumar's removal on the first day of the next state assembly sitting on May 7.

Perak State Assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri, in his letter to all 59 members of the House on Monday, said if the motion was passed, a new speaker would be chosen.

The assemblymen were invited to submit nomination forms for the new speaker together with the agreement form of the selected candidate to the state assembly office by yesterday at the latest. — Bernama

Religious conversion — heaving under heaven’s door

The cabinet decision to have a blanket, “You (the minor) will be raised in the faith of your parents at point of marriage, if a dispute arises over you following the conversion of one parent to Islam”, justifiably provides solace to some and raises ire in others.

It does resolve some problems while at the same time inevitably creates a few new ones.
The cabinet has let the nation down, and it is not the first time in recent times.
The real issue of the matter, or unintended realisation from it is that answers that come from any cabinet, from 29 persons stacked in a room in our case, advised by the few will always exclude various factors or permutations.

You can’t expect 29 people to think on behalf of 26 million people and do it well. This nation must start to trust its people to debate and discuss the issues that affect them, because it is becoming more and more apparent that there is no other way.

This country’s administrators historically have come from the western educated, those who frolicked with each other in their younger years and remained friends. Their education they believe keeps them above the flock they lead. They go their separate way when they have to manage the masses, because the masses are fairly unexposed to the vagaries of the world, and therefore only recognise primordial elements like race.

They will fan and douse the energy of the simpletons when need be, and after they are done, through a process of power-sharing, collaboration, information exchange, compromise and consensus arrive at a resolution that fits the situation.
They manage their population, not lead them.

However the demographics have shifted, and the weightier preoccupation brought on by cable TV and the internet renders any decision that is carried requiring societal reflection.
People have to be persuaded to an outcome, and even then the outcome, its shape and form may have taken twists and turn and become an altered outcome thanks to participatory democracy.
These are the days where everyone gets a voice, whether you like it or not. Ignoring that voice only precipitates your own demise.

So the question is, with religious conversion firmly in central examination, not to mention 1 Malaysia, do the people who run this country actually wants its inhabitants to debate their needs, wants and conflicts?

Religious conversion
The issue is not religion, it is about child custody. Divorce numbers are piling, and its contributing puzzle is custody of the children from that failed marriage.
Malaysia, like most countries is likelier to pass custody mothers than fathers, more so with pre-pubescent children.

The fathers are rushing the kids into Islam after their own conversion, to both remove the case from civil courts and reduce the status of the mothers through forced mediation in the Syariah courts.

It is the hijacking of process that gives the sense of helplessness amongst non-muslims.
The cabinet ruling sounds nice, but likely to be unenforceable.
The Syariah administrators and state religious authorities are not going to be flattered to have new converts have a cabinet promise that they will not have custody of their children upon conversion.

If the child is to remain in the faith both parents held at marriage, then the parent who still keeps the old faith is likelier to provide a stable home for the child — if by cabinet edict the child must remain in that faith until adulthood.

It becomes a disincentive for those in marriages with kids to veer to Islam, as they are likelier to lose children from that consummation, in theory if the cabinet edict holds.
So what was comprehensively unfair to Muslims, is now theoretically unfair to the newly Muslim parent.

Let’s give them something to talk about
The answer has to be in enabling family courts in this country to be more well “family” oriented and less “religious” driven.

Child custody is about the raising of a child, not the winning of souls for the afterlife. If it is a discussion of the latter, then there will be a stalemate, and nothing can be achieved.
The people with these issues have to talk. However, family courts have to consider the merits of parenting, not religiosity, and there needs to be legal recourse, fair legal recourse for all.
There are various religious considerations, and interests of communities external to the immediate family — but those are secondary considerations.

Which leads to the final requirement, just mediation. The existence of two separate family courts and estranged partners seeking recourse in separate forums, will lead to jurisdictional debate, not family ones. And it gets heavily politicised.

My preference is for a single court, but if Malaysia’s realpolitik dictates then there has to be joint committees, and no default custody based on religion.

The answer is about getting theology take a backseat and parenting moving to the fore.
The answer is not in 29 cabinet members deliberating, but a nation debating.
The answer is in those adjudicating looking at the welfare of the children, not their own political and religious affiliations.

What is it they are trying to hide?


The Special Branch is supposed to serve the nation, like in the days of past. Today, however, it serves the powers-that-be and those who walk in the corridors of power. This is a blatant abuse of the Special Branch.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

There is something I have kept under wraps for more than eight years now. Even my wife does not know about this particular matter (no, I am not gay, if that is the first thought in your mind). Normally, I tell my wife everything and there is almost nothing she does not know -- except for this one thing. However, of late, I have been contemplating whether I should continue keeping this piece of very crucial information to myself, which I have kept hidden for eight years, or whether I should just let it rip.

I know once I reveal it many are going to get shocked, maybe even become disillusioned, so there is a lot of merit in taking this secret to my grave. Well, let’s see what Bukit Aman has planned for me. And if they give me shit then maybe I should just let it rip and watch everyone run and hide for cover once the shit hits the fan.

“And what is this so-called crucial information?” many of you may ask. “Is it another Statutory Declaration like the one you signed in April last year, which came to nought in the end?” Well, yes and no. Okay, let me put it this way. If you have read books like The Jungle is Neutral or The War of the Running Dogs and many more, then you will know what I am talking about (but the trouble is most Malaysians do not like to read, especially Malays).

What I want to bring to your attention is that the Malayan Special Branch, back then, was considered the best intelligence agency in the world, even far superior to the CIA or KGB some say. But that was in the days when the British were running the Special Branch and the officers were mostly veterans of South Africa, Palestine and Ireland. They certainly knew their work back then and this was the main reason why Malaya managed to prove the domino theory wrong.

Did you know that the Special Branch successfully infiltrated the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) and even the Communist Terrorists (CTs) operating in the jungles of Malaya? Because of this they managed to kill quite a number of the top or key leaders of the CPM. One example was the successful ambush during the Batu Caves conference that the CPM organised where the Malayan armed forces managed to kill some key figures in the CPM.

The irony of this whole thing, however, was that some of the Special Branch officers who were sent to infiltrate the CPM were actually CPM operatives who had, in the first place, been sent to infiltrate the Special Branch. In other words, they were CPM operatives working in the Special Branch. And these same people were sent back to infiltrate the CPM.

So what were they then? They were double agents no doubt. But were they CPM operatives who had infiltrated the Special Branch or were they Special Branch officers who had infiltrated the CPM? Yes, a most interesting question indeed, and a question that can never be satisfactorily answered until today.

Okay, that is all I want to say about that matter for the meantime. My war is not with the Special Branch. I have no quarrel with them. In spite of what many may think of the Special Branch we do need such an intelligence agency for the sake of national security. But the Special Branch, since the last decade or so, is being wrongly used against the very people they are supposed to serve and protect.

The Special Branch is supposed to serve the nation, like in the days of past. Today, however, it serves the powers-that-be and those who walk in the corridors of power. This is a blatant abuse of the Special Branch. Our target is Umno and Barisan Nasional. But if the Special Branch masuk campur and allows itself to become a tool of the powers-that-be, then it too will become a target. And all is fair in love and war, as they say.

I will put this issue aside for the meantime. The Special Branch knows how to reach me if it really wants to. But if it decides that I am the enemy and it attempts to bring me down, then it is the Special Branch that declares war first and I will have to do everything within my powers to defend myself -- and that would include hitting these people where it hurts most.

I think I have given enough hints as it is, and those in the top echelons of Bukit Aman know what I am talking about. After all, the documents with my signatures on them are in their possession. So let the games begin. And what game we play will depend on those sitting right at the top of Peace Hill. The ball is at their feet. So they can decide what happens from hereon.

Okay, let’s move on to another matter.

When I was detained under the Internal Security Act on 11 April 2001, I spent almost two months in the Police Remand Centre (PRC). This is where you are detained for up to 60 days while they decide what to do with you.

The first 30 days of those 60 days is for you to be interrogated about your ‘activities’. You are asked many questions, which you can choose whether to answer or not. Of course, if you cooperate by answering all the questions, then it works in your favour. Better still if you volunteer information without the need to even ask you any questions.

After the 30 days is over, you are given a statement to sign. Mine was about 200 pages thick and came in 20 copies. Ezam Mohd Nor’s statement was 600 pages (I suppose he had more to confess than I did).

The balance 30 days is then spent ‘turning you over’. Meanwhile, your signed confession is brought before a Board of Inquiry and they study it to decide whether you are safe enough to be allowed back into society or you are still too dangerous and must be sent to Kamunting for at least two years.

How successful they ‘turn you over’ in the final 30 days will also have a bearing on whether you get to go home or you spend the next two years in Kamunting. So it is a combination of your confession plus how you demonstrate that you have repented and have seen the error of your ways that decides your fate.

Assuming they are not convinced you have reformed, then you get sent to Kamunting, and every six months they review your detention to see if you can be released within two years or your detention gets rolled over another two years, and then another two years, etc., until you give up and cease your stubbornness. They longest serving ISA detainee is 27 years while six or eight years detention is not uncommon.

Now, as I said, my first detention in the PRC on 11 April 2001 was for almost two months, after which I was released on 6 June 2001. For my second detention, however, I was in the PRC was for only ten days. I was brought in on the afternoon of 12 September 2008 and then packed off to Kamunting on the morning of 23 September.

Nevertheless, while I may have been in the PRC for ten days, my interrogation (read: ‘confession’) was for only five days. For the first five days, I refused to leave my cell and only on the sixth day, after they allowed me to see my wife, did I agree to be interrogated.

Actually, on the fifth day, they would not allow me to sleep and I was forced to stay awake the whole night. So the sleep depravation tactic partly helped change my mind. The following morning, when Dr Vasanta visited me in my cell, I broke down and cried like a baby and she had to hold my hand to calm me down (actually that was a trick to get to hold her hands).

Anyway, after only five days, they decided to abandon my interrogation and I was sent to Kamunting. Now that was very strange. But even stranger were the events leading to that.

On 22 September, my interrogation suddenly ended. I was surprised because I had expected to be subjected to at least 30 days of interrogation like usual. On the morning of the 22nd my interrogators told me they had received instructions to prepare their report. So they needed to go over a few things to polish the report.

Just before 2.00pm we completed the editing and I was asked to read my statement to see if there were any errors. I read it and told them that all was in order. At 2.00pm I was sent back to my cell and was told that they would be coming back the following morning to get me to sign my confession. They needed to show their boss my statement and unless there was more information they required then I could sign it the following morning -- after which they will start my ‘turning over’ process while the Board of Inquiry studied my statement to see whether I can be released or should be sent to Kamunting.

At 3.00pm the police came to my cell to inform me that the officers wanted to see me. I assumed they had studied my statement and needed more information so I prepared myself for another day of interrogation. But I was quite surprised because it was only an hour since they left and surely they could not have completed reading it in that short space of time.

I was brought into the interrogation room and was met with three very unfamiliar faces. These were not my normal Special Branch interrogators. These were officers from the Home Ministry, people I had never met before.

They asked me to sit down and I was handed a Section 8 detention order. I was shocked. The Special Branch interrogators had just left me an hour ago with a promise they would be returning the following day with my statement for me to sign.

I asked the officers from the Ministry as to what happened to my statement. I was supposed to sign it the following day before they decide whether I should be sent to Kamunting or whether I could be released. The officers said they know nothing about that. Their job is merely to serve the detention order on me and arrange for me to be sent to Kamunting.

It was then that I realised my statement was too ‘hot’ and they did not want even their own Board of Inquiry to see it. After all, the Board of Inquiry comprised of civilians, ex-judges included, so what I had confessed was too sensitive for these people to see. The only alternative, therefore, was to serve me with a Section 8 detention order and pack me off to Kamunting. Then nothing need come out since there would no longer be any need for the Board of Inquiry to sit to review my statement.

And what was it that I confessed to that shook them up so much? That will be revealed in part two of this article. Meanwhile, stay tuned for more. Till we talk again, take care and stay safe. And don’t forget we are storming the Bastille in Ipoh on the morning of 7 May 2009.

Oh, by the way, Nizar has invited all of us to join him for tea and breakfast on the morning of 7 May. So, if you are thirsty and feel like a glass of teh tarik, do join us in Ipoh on 7 May 2009.