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Monday, June 22, 2009

Sodomy trial: July 1 hearing on documents - Malaysiakini

The hearing of Anwar Ibrahim's application to get more than 10 documents from the prosecution in his sodomy trial has been fixed on July 1 in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
MCPX

the charge against anwar ibrahim sodomy allegation trial 070808The hearing of another application to strike out the sodomy charge has been fixed for July 8.

If the application is dismissed, the hearing will proceed the same day.

About 30 witnesses are scheduled to testify.

The court had initially fixed July 1-24 to hear the sodomy charge.

The application for the documents was filed on June 10.

Anwar wants the original CCTV recordings taken at several locations at the scene of the alleged incident at the Desa Damansara Condominium in Bukit Damansara.

The rest are the DNA samples, statements from witnesses including the complainant, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, police statements and several other documents.

On June 17, Anwar had filed an application to strike out the sodomy charge on the basis that the charge is mala fide (with bad intention) and an abuse of the judicial process.

Muslim and Jewish religious practice cruel: UK Scientists

Monday, 22 June 2009

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Religious slaughter techniques practised by Jews and Muslims are cruel and should be ended, says a scientific assessment from the Government's animal welfare advisers.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council says that slitting the throats of the animals most commonly used for meat, chickens, without stunning, results in "significant pain and distress". The committee, which includes scientific, agricultural and veterinary experts, is calling for the Government to launch a debate with Muslim and Jewish communities to end the practice.

One Muslim organisation, the Halal Food Authority, already insists on the slaughterhouses it regulates stunning animals first on welfare grounds, as long as they are still alive when their throats are slit. But in other halal and almost all kosher slaughterhouses, animals have their throats slit without prior stunning which would render them insensible to the pain. Religious groups say that doing so would be against their interpretation of religious texts.

They are granted an exemption to the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, which stipulates that creatures such as cows, goats and chickens be stunned first.

In a report into the slaughter of white meat, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (Fawc) said evidence suggested that chicken and turkeys were likely to be conscious for up to 20 seconds as blood seeped out of them. The animals are killed by a transverse incision across their neck, cutting skin, muscle, trachea, oesophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins and major nerves.

"Such a large cut will inevitably trigger sensory input to pain centres in the brain," the council said. "Our conclusions ... are that such an injury would result in significant pain and distress ... before insensibility supervenes. Fawc is in agreement with the prevailing scientific consensus that slaughter without pre-stunning causes pain and distress. On the basis that this is avoidable and in the interests of welfare, Fawc concludes that all birds should be pre-stunned before slaughter."

While recognising the difficulties of reconciling scientific findings with matters of faith, it urged the Government to "continue to engage with religious communities" to make progress. In a 2003 report on red meat, Fawc called for ministers to repeal the religious groups' legal opt-out.

The Shechita Council, which oversees kosher meat, was contacted but did not supply a comment. Massood Khawaja, president of the Halal Food Authority, insisted that its animals were stunned, unlike those regulated by another group, the Halal Monitoring Committee. "The Koran says use your brain, ponder about things and that's what we are doing," he said. "It's a question of animal welfare."

The Government no longer keeps statistics on religious slaughter, but five years ago, the Meat Hygiene Service suggested 114 million animals were killed under halal and 2.1 million under kosher methods each year in Britain.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it would not change its "long-standing policy of religious tolerance" by ending the opt-out. "And while the Government would prefer to see all animals stunned before slaughter, we will continue to ensure that required standards of animal welfare are effectively monitored and enforced in all slaughterhouses," it said in a statement.

Last year, Lord Rooker , a minister in the department, called for meat slaughtered without stunning to be labelled for the public's benefit, since some cuts were considered unacceptable to eat, and sold back into the food chain.

www.independent.co.uk

Anwar takes Sodomy II to Manek Urai

By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA KRAI, June 22 — With less than two weeks to go before the start of his sodomy trial, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim brought the case to the attention of the Manek Urai voters last night.

The campaign period for the Manek Urai by-election near here will coincide with his second sodomy trial in a decade. This time he is accused of sodomising his former aide Saiful Azlan Bukhari.

Speaking before thousands of people in Kampung Laloh, some 100km south of Kota Baru, he said: “Pusrawi did an examination at 3pm, and it found no sign of penetration and no wound. He was brought to Kuala Lumpur Hospital, examined by three specialists, results were the same, no penetration and no wound.”

“I didn't ask for the reports, but the police and the Attorney-General did,” said Anwar who has filed an application to throw out the case based on the two reports.

He also asked Barisan Nasional (BN) to skip the Manek Urai by-election. The ruling coalition did not contest the Penanti by-election last month, saying that it wanted to focus on the economy.

“Have they solved the economic problems? I ask them to think carefully before contesting in Manek Urai,” he said.

“If they are sincere, just bring in development projects to Manek Urai but let PAS win uncontested,” added Anwar.

He also told the all-Malay crowd that the government's attempt to make it compulsory for students to pass English at the school leaving exam would victimise them.

“They should do it gradually, make sure there are enough teachers and everyone else is equipped,” he added.

The Manek Urai by-election was called following the death of five-term Kelantan state lawmaker Ismail Yaacob last month.

Ismail first won the seat in 1986. In last year’s general election, he defeated Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Zulkepli Omar by 1,352 votes.

Ismail did not contest the 2004 election when Zulkepli won by 53 votes.

Manek Urai, which is about a two-hour drive from Kota Baru, comprises an electorate that is almost exclusively Malay, with other races making up less than one per cent of the 12,292 voters.

A largely forested area, Manek Urai is one of the four state seats in the Kuala Krai parliamentary constituency. The other three are Mengkebang, Guchil and Dabong.

Nomination is set for July 6 while polling will be held on July 14.

Tee Keat soft-pedals on PKFZ, says Kit Siang twisted facts

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 — Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat today played down the staggering cost of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) in his address to Parliament this morning, as the government tried to minimise the political damage of the scandal.

The Transport Minister claimed the development cost of the PKFZ would only spiral to RM12.5 billion, as estimated by PricewaterhouseCoopers in its audit report, if the government did not intervene.

Ong accused the DAP's Lim Kit Siang of twisting the facts of the audit report and described the move as “hysteria”.

He was replying to a question by the Ipoh Timur MP who wanted to know the reason for the the delay of the PKFZ report despite the minister’s initial vow not to conceal any weaknesses or offences in relation to the scandal which involves public funds.

The delay was caused because the government had to remove the report from the Official Secrets Act while PricewaterhouseCoopers wanted to be indemnified from legal action.

Ong said the report also had to be tabled before the Cabinet before it could be released to the public.

He said 300 complete copies of the report had already been delivered to Parliament and it was now up to the secretariat to distribute it to MPs.

Lim in turn took a swipe at the minister for attending the Paris Airshow instead of delivering his ministerial statement on PKFZ last week.

A shouting match then ensued, with Kinabatangan member Datuk Bung Moktar Radin who repeatedly demanded the DAP stalwart ask a question instead of taking pot shots at the minister.

But Lim cited Ong’s statement in the press today that the shame of the PKFZ scandal rests on the culprits responsible and Lim asked who these culprits were.

Ong said the matter had been referred to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to investigate.

He added that it was unwise for the Port Klang Authority to point fingers as they would be opening themselves to legal liability.

“We will also be accused of being the investigator, prosecutor and judge in the matter,” he said.

The Poison of “Unity” Government

by M. Bakri Musa

The two Malay political parties – UMNO and PAS – are battling each other to convince us that each is better than the other in advancing the “Malay agenda.” The two are like ageing fighters stuck with their same old tired moves. They are oblivious of the fact that we are fed up with their act; their lack of vigor and imaginative new strategies.

In a clumsy if not desperate attempt for new moves they concocted a ‘vision’ for a ‘unity’ government based on the two parties! Left unstated is the question: Unity for what and against whom?

I wish that they would expend their efforts on making our people competitive, and thus lifting us out of poverty. That is the most important Malay agenda today. Better yet, I would prefer that they just exit the ring and let others run the show for a change.

I fail to see how this ‘unity’ government would make Malays more competitive. The track record for UMNO is for all to see. Corruption is now rampant, as well as the erosion of the integrity of our institutions and the deepening polarization of Malaysians. The Melayu Baru (New Malay) of UMNO has now morphed into Melayu Barua (Malay scoundrels).

As for PAS, after decades of ruling Kelantan, the young still has to leave the state to seek a better life. The state is regularly plagued with such diseases as cholera. Tok Guru Nik Aziz may be pious and religious, with honesty and humility thrown in massive doses, but he is completely inept in running a modern state. Apparently his humility does not extend to his intellect for he has not seen fit to seek competent help in such ‘secular’ matters.

New Political Reality

UMNO and PAS are so used to fighting each other that they have forgotten what it is they are fighting for. While they are busy fighting each other, the world has passed them by. Today with the increasing plurality of the Malaysian electorate, securing the majority Malay votes would not necessary translate into political power, at least at the national level.

In a rare display of political wisdom, PAS recognized the need to reach beyond by, for example, fielding non-Malay candidates in the last election and establishing a new wing within the party for non-Muslims. However, whatever inroads the party may have made with non-Malays have since evaporated with its ill-conceived pursuit of a “unity government” with UMNO.

UMNO, a slow learner, has yet to recognize this new political reality. Thus it treats its non-Malay coalition partners in Barisan with undisguised contempt. UMNO leaders are quick to brandish their kerises, preferably dripped with ketchup for dramatic effect, at the slightest provocation.

Chauvinistic appeals of Ketuanan Melayu to win Malay votes might still work, but only regionally in Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, and Trengganu. Unfortunately those are not exactly the economic or power centers of the nation. In terms of population, landmass, and most importantly economic activities, the contributions of those states to the national total are at best miniscule.

The elements overrepresented in those states are poverty and the underdevelopment of the people, and the overwhelming majority of whom are, sadly, Malays. Oh, yes, combined those four states have nearly half (four out of nine) of the sultans. For some, that is a source of endless pride.

As for the much-vaunted Malay agenda or even Ketuanan Melayu, I am at a loss as to what exactly these Malay politicians are fighting for. If it is for retaining the Malay language, sultans and other key elements of Malay culture, including and especially Islam, those are already enshrined in our constitution. Even if non-Malays were to oppose that, there is not much that they could do about it. By themselves they could never secure the necessary two-third majority needed to amend the constitution.

The only way for non-Malays, or anyone else for that matter, to do away with those constitutional provisions would be to bribe Members of Parliament (Malays and non-Malays) to amend the constitution. Then just to be sure, also bribe the Senators and also the King and sultans so they too would agree with the changes.

The price tag would be cheap. The late Tun Ghaffar once suggested that for a few hundred million ringgit you could buy the entire UMNO Supreme Council. With a billion or two you could get the whole parliament and the Council of Rulers.

The colonial British secured the entire country for considerably much less, even after factoring in for inflation and devaluation (of both the sterling and ringgit). Flattery made up for what they could not afford in gold. The British offered fancy titles like the Knighthood of some Medieval Order to our leaders and sultans to win them over.

The corollary to my observation is that if we Malays truly wish to preserve our cherished special privileges, we better start electing honest and incorrupt leaders. Corrupt leaders would not only sell off those special privileges, they will also sell away our country.

Unity for What and Against Whom?

Following the Barisan election rout of March 8, 2008, the fear that the coalition, specifically UMNO, would lose power at the national level was palpable. This desperation led misguided souls in UMNO to seek those in PAS who had been longing for power. This quest for a ‘unity government’ was nothing more than UMNO securing an insurance policy for its continuing hold on power; for PAS, it was a seductive teasing on the taste of power.

It is ironic that the pursuit of a “unity government” resulted only in sowing distrust within the existing coalitions. In pursuing PAS, UMNO succeeded only in straining relations with its long-time Barisan partners. PAS meanwhile managed only to poison its still frail Pakatan Rakyat coalition with PKR and DAP. Worse, as we are now seeing, it also threatens the unity of PAS.

The proponents for this “unity government” have obviously not done their due diligence or any downstream analysis. Those UMNO warlords would not take kindly to sharing their bounty with their new kopiah-clad upstart colleagues. Far from ‘purifying’ UMNO, PAS would end up being just as corrupt as UMNO.

It is remarkable that both Tun Mahathir and Tok Guru Nik Aziz are against the idea. I do not know their individual motives, but the fact they are both in rare agreement should serve as a cautionary note.

If the disintegration of UMNO and PAS were the consequence of this “unity” movement, I could not care less. However, the initiative would poison race relations in the country on a scale comparable to the May 1969 tragedy. Indeed the venom has already seeped out. That should concern everyone.

This “unity government” scheme is nothing more than a crude and greedy power-grab by the UMNO and PAS pair. It is not to be confused with Tun Razak’s version following the May 1969 tragedy. Then it was truly a unity initiative, with the wise Tun opening up the old Alliance coalition to all willing participants.

This latest scheme is the ugliest manifestation of Malay ultra chauvinism. It would lead not to unity but greater polarizations among Malays as well as between Malays and non-Malays, and at a time when we can least afford it.

Even if UMNO were to merge with PAS, the new coalition would still never command a two-third majority in Parliament. At last count, even if every Member of Parliament with a Malay-sounding name were to vote in “unity,” that would still fall far short of a supra majority needed to amend the constitution. The political calculus has changed irreversibly.

The central reality is that Malays will have to advance with and not at the expense of non-Malay Malaysians. Likewise, non-Malays would advance along with and not at the expense of Malays. The unity that we should all strive for must not only be among Malays but also among Malaysians. We can begin that process not by pursuing a “unity government” but decreasing the rhetoric that polarizes our society. Demanding that our political leaders be civil and courteous to each other would be an excellent beginning. Oh yes, please also keep those kerises sheathed!

It amuses me that the most vigorous proponents of this “unity government” in UMNO and PAS are also the shrillest and most divisive voices before they discovered this ‘unity’ religion.

A New Direction For Malays

Instead of wasting time and effort in chasing the mirage of Malay ‘unity’ and in the process unnecessarily alienating others, Malay leaders should focus on the more difficult and critical problem of enhancing Malay competitiveness. This problem cannot be solved simply by shouting slogans of Malay unity or Ketuanan Melayu. Instead we need leaders who are smart, competent, diligent, and above all, not corrupt.

Look at the schools Malay children attend. How can we expect them to learn English or science when we do not provide them with competent teachers? Examine the institutions run predominantly by Malays, the civil service for example. As Malays we should be ashamed of this. We need these institutions to be effective as they are a key to making Malays competitive.

The list is endless. What is limited, and severely so, is the willingness to acknowledge, let alone solve them. I have yet to hear something sensible from either PAS or UMNO leaders. So far PAS wants Malays not to learn English and to ban Sisters in Islam. Well, that is an advancement of sorts; at least they are not harping on hudud. As for UMNO leaders, they cannot even decide whether to continue teaching science and mathematics in English.

Malay leaders should not be deluding the masses with half-baked ideas of “Malay unity.” These leaders succeed only in deluding themselves.

Hiding behind “secrets”

By Gan Pei Ling
thenutgraph.com

Lower half of child's face, finger raised to her lips to shush the viewer
Shhhhh... (© Paul Brunskill / sxc.hu)

"YOU cannot quote me...I've discussed with my superior, we've decided that the progress is slow, so we don't think it's a good time to publicise it now, why don't you write on other issues?"

That was the response from an officer from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development after I finally managed to reach her on the phone. For several weeks, I had tried to reach her at the ministry but she was either in a meeting or on leave.

Still, when we finally spoke, and I explained that I was a journalist, she was kind enough to give me the information I needed about the progress of gender budgeting in Malaysia. Gender budgeting, also known as gender budget analysis, helps to lower the gender gap in government budgets by analysing existing government policies and budgets to ensure women's and men's needs are met equitably.

But my euphoria at landing a story didn't last long. When I e-mailed a fact and quote check to her, in accordance with The Nut Graph's editorial policy, she got cold feet and couldn't be contacted for the next two weeks.

It was after numerous phone calls that I eventually got hold of the officer again. This was when she told me not to report on the issue of gender budgeting, as innocuous as it was, and asked me to go investigate another issue instead. The sad truth is that she is not the only government officer who will display a lack of respect to citizen's right to information.

Why shouldn't Malaysians know about the progress of the gender budgeting project especially after it had been announced by the minister, and public funds had been used to execute it?

Indeed, the ministry launched the pilot project on gender budgeting with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme back in 2003. Five pilot ministries took part in the project and a manual on gender budgeting was also published upon the project's completion in 2006.

However, since then, there have been no subsequent reports about how successful the project was, and The Nut Graph was keen to find out just so that there could be some accounting of previous projects launched by the government.

But no way was the ministry going to be held accountable if the officer's remarks were anything to go by. Even on a subject that wasn't remotely "sensitive" or contentious.

My questions are these: Does the government have the right to decide if they would like to publicise an issue? Should government officers be able to tell the media what it should or shouldn't highlight? Isn't it the public's right to know where and how public funds are being spent?

National security?

If "gender budgeting" were a national security issue, where the information I reported on would allow terrorists to infiltrate our country to blow up the KLIA or Putrajaya, then yes, I believe the government has valid reasons to keep the information secret.

But it seems that the reason the ministry officer didn't want to be publicly quoted for my story was because it would reflect badly on the government's efficiency.

This then is the problem with having a culture of secrecy in the Malaysian administration, made possible and entrenched because we have laws such as the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Logo of a firefly emitting lightrays from its rear end
From Freedom of Information campaign (© CIJMalaysia.org)

Isn't it obvious we need to urgently replace the OSA with a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act? It's only if we had an FOI Act that the government can be compelled to be transparent and accountable to tax payers on matters that do not jeopardise national security (where it is the courts, and not the executive, who would define a national security).

Without an FOI Act, it is totally at the discretion of ministers and government officers to disclose information to the media or to the public. And where it might be inconvenient to do so, we can bet the information will not be forthcoming. Just look at how the Penan task force report has still yet to be made public.

Without an FOI Act, how can the rakyat evaluate our government's performance and efficiency?

Besides, if it was already so difficult for the media to obtain information and publicise an issue such as gender budgeting, how much more difficult would it be for larger or "sensitive" issues? AP permits and oil royalties, anyone? Or how about the murder of a Mongolian translator? Or deaths in police detention?

"Soon" means "never"

Another stumbling block I encountered during my internship at The Nut Graph was with the Federal Land Department (Felda).

Oil palm plantation
Oil palm plantation (© F3rn4nd0 / Wiki Commons)

On 21 May 2009, environmental network Ecological Internet claimed in a press release that Felda had denied having any plans to develop an oil palm cultivation project together with a Brazilian company in Tefe, Brazil.

Ecological Internet was concerned that the project would threaten the Amazon rainforest.

After several attempts, I finally reached the Felda public relations officer who had e-mailed Ecological Internet to deny Felda's plans. She confirmed that the project, which was announced by Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Brazilian ambassador to Malaysia, had been cancelled. But she refused to explain why or to comment further.

Instead she directed me to the Felda Holdings group managing director, and forwarded my e-mail to the director's press secretary. I rang the press secretary several times to get an answer. The response was usually, "Datuk is in a meeting, I'll get him to get back to you as soon as possible."

What she left unsaid was: "Ahem, 'as soon as possible' means 'never'."

There are a whole host of other issues far more important than gender budgeting and a cancelled Felda project in Brazil, that's for certain. But without an FOI, it is near impossible to get to the bottom of an issue without a lot of resources being spent fighting an over-crusted bureaucracy.

So, will prime minister Najib's administration replace the OSA with an FOI Act? Will our government and its ministries and agencies be more open and accountable? When will citizens be able to find out what our government is doing without having to wait for it to be convenient before we will be told?

When?

Do you think Najib might answer if I asked?

Parliament sitting extended by two days

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 June 2009: The second meeting of the second session of the 12th Parliament which was supposed to end on 30 June 2009, has been extended by two days for the completion of certain matters.

Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak informed Parliament that the current sitting would be held until 2 July.

"This is to enable Bills to be passed and other relevant matters to be completed as provided for under Point 11(2) of the parliamentary Standing Order," Kiandee said before the start of the question-and-answer session in the Dewan Rakyat today.

The current sitting started on 15 June. — Bernama

Malaysian Bar's Memorandum to the PM on the 5 Arrested LAC Lawyers to be delivered on 23rd June

Dear Members

Please be informed that the Office Bearers will be delivering the Malaysian Bar's Memorandum to the Prime Minister on the 5 Arrested Lawyers, to the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Dato' Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz at his office in the Tower of the Parliament Building on Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 11.30am.

Thank you

Ragunath Kesavan
President
Malaysian Bar

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Huan: The value (and occasional lack thereof) of froggy crossovers

by Nathaniel Tan

My ex-colleague YB Sim Tze Tzin (who I remember fondly the day I was released to be holding a sign said “We miss you at the office Nat!…. Got a lot of work to finish,” haha) has come out strongly against Gerakan’s Huan being accepted into PKR.

I don’t really know much about Huan, but I confess some sympathy to Sim’s point of view, and take the opportunity to reflect on such crossovers in general.

I think it is fair of Pakatan parties to adopt an open arms attitude, and sure, we don’t want to keep people out just for fear of having incumbent positions ‘threatened.’

This attitude however, should probably not extend to instantly and automatically ‘rewarding’ crossovers with positions based say on how many membership forms they bring in.

I have always thought that party membership is no big deal, to begin with. It’s easy to sign a form, and never lift a finger to advance the cause of justice.

More importantly: exactly what value do these ex-BN guys (especially non-elected representatives) bring to the table anyway?

The vast majority of them lost in the last elections, and are long time BN stalwarts - having supported the likes of Najib, Abdullah and Mahathir for most of their lives. Have they had a sudden change of heart?

The big question: does their defection cause more voters to vote for Pakatan? I have my doubts.

I imagine a lot of the swing voters who switched allegiances in the last elections did so because they wanted something fresh and new.

If Pakatan is to be dominated by the old and tainted, why would people vote for them again?

I think that if there’s recruitment and promotion to be done, it should be among the ranks of those with no political baggage, those who as a matter of principle have been unsupportive of BN, even when it may have been advantageous to be so.

So, if people want to join Pakatan, let them. But why don’t we keep top leadership positions only for those with at least some record of integrity.

Also, as was pointed out to me recently: those who are sincere about joining tend to either quit first (think Zaid) or just announce straight away without too much build-up. Those who make a big, prolonged hue and cry about it (think Huan or Chua Soi Lek) are often merely posturing to serve interests in their intra-party conflicts.

Anyway, let it not be said that I am not a friend to hopping frogs:

:) Thanks to the photographer, FB and the lovely person who tagged me!

MEASAT-3a Satellite Succesfully Blasted From Baikonur Cosmodrome

From Mikhail Raj Abdullah ', TEXTFONT, 'Verdana, Arial, Helvetica', TEXTSIZE, '1', WIDTH, 75)" onmouseout="nd()">BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan), June 22 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's newest satellite, the MEASAT-3a satellite blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome exactly on schedule at 5.50 am Malaysian time here Monday.

Launched amid perfectly cool and windy conditions, the US$165 million communications satellite blasted off on its mission to enhance Measat Satellite Systems Sdn Bhd's satellite capacity significantly.

The company now has four satellites in orbit.

The time difference between Kazakhstan and Malaysia is two hours which means it was launched in Baikonur at 3.50 am.

MEASAT-3a was supposed to have been launched in August last year, but an overhead crane accident damaged it while it was being prepared for launch and had to be returned to Dulles in Washington for repair.

Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who led a group of 50 people to witness the launch of Measat's fourth satellite, was elated saying it was yet another feather in the cap for Malaysia's broadcasting capabilities.

Some in the enthralled crowd taken in by the spectacular rocket power and explosive burn described it as a "rocket entering the heavens."

They all burst into spontaneous applause.

Rais said this was the first time he witnessed the satellite launch.

To be operational in July, MEASAT-3a will replace MEASAT-1 which is scheduled to complete its service in 2015.

The MEASAT-3a satellite is being lifted into orbit by a Zenit-3SLB Launch vehicle on its way until its final location at 91.5 degrees East Longitude.

The minister said he was proud over the successful launch of the satellite as it would help enhance Malaysia's position in the international satellite business as well as broadcasting.

It will also lay the groundwork for Malaysians themselves to design, create and manufacture their own satellite in the future and not depend on others or merely confine themselves to making components, he said.

He also described the successful launch as a "shot in the arm" for Malaysia's creative industry.

The launching of the 2,417 kg MEASAT-3a satellite here and witnessed a group of Malaysians in the deserts of Kazakhstan a few kilometres away from the launch pad was telecast live over Awani, on Astro channel 501.

Among those witnessing the launch were Measat's Chief Operating Officer, Paul Brown-Kenyon, Measat's General Counsel Farah Suhanah Ahmad Sarji and Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) group chief executive officer Datuk Zam Zamzairani Mohd Isa.

MEASAT-3a, manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corp of Dulles, U.S was a historical occasion for 14 top students from Malaysia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United Kingdom

They were selected by Measat to experience this once-in-a-lifetime chance witnessing the blast of MEASAT-3a, especially after being disappointed last year when the accident delayed the launch.

Among the students were five Malaysians who excelled in the PMR in 2007.

It was dream come true for Ahmad Ruiz Mohd Asri from Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur; Edmund Chen Min Lau from Kuching, Sarawak; Lina Na'ilah Abdul Talip from Kajang; Chandra Sekhar Kuppusamy from Johor Baharu, and Cliff Asher R. Ongil from Beaufort, Sabah.

100 dalil kenapa Najib tidak boleh jadi PM ?

By Chegubard,

Dahulu Anwar Ibrahim dijatuhkan dari jawatan Timbalan Perdana Menteri dan Timbalan Presiden Umno selepas buku “100 Dalil Mengapa Anwar Tidak boleh jadi PM” di keluarkan.

Buku tersebutlah punca Anwar diperlakukan dengan kejam dan akhirnya merengkok dalam penjara selama 6 tahun.

Semalam saya menerima email dari seseorang yang tidak dikenali iaitu email yang sama menghantar link video mengenai Rosmah. Email tersebut bertajuk “100 Dalil Mengapa Najib tak boleh jadi PM“. Ditinggalkan link yang membawa kita kesebuah blog yang mempaparkan sebahagian daripada buku tersebut.

Sila klik disini untuk melihat sendiri sebahagian daripada buku “100 Dalil Mengapa Najib tak boleh jadi PM”.

Setelah diselidiki ia iadalah buku yang pernah diterbitkan beberapa tahun lalu, tetapi menurut email yang dihantar menyatakan buku ini sedang peringkat akhir akan dicetak sebanyak puluhan ribu naskah untuk edaran percuma.

Nampaknya serangan terhadap Najib bertambah serius... dengan cara kempen taktik dan wang yang dibelanjakan nampaknya 'geng dalam Umno' yang menyerangnya amat serius.

DAP June2109

Cops disrupt DAP dinner again - Malaysiakini

Police today again intervened during a dinner-cum-ceramah by DAP, this time in Klang, by withdrawing a police permit for the event at the last minute.
MCPX

dap klang dinner 210609 seal.jpgAfter some intense negotiations with the police, the dinner was allowed to proceed at about 8.15pm, but the long list of speakers for the night were unable to proceed with their ceramah as the PA system was confiscated by the police.

Earlier, the police had issued a permit for the event but specified that no ceramah was allowed.

"Up to this year, this has never happened before. It is a given that our supporters can hear us speak while they eat," said a DAP party worker.

dap klang dinner 210609 gunSince early this afternoon, seven water cannons were parked within the Taman Bayu Tinggi vicinity where the dinner was scheduled to take place.

The dinner was organised by Klang MP Charles Santiago, who said in his blog that the police had already cordoned off the area for the dinner at 4.45pm.

Santiago added that he could not reach Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar for clarifications.

When contacted, Santiago's aide told Malaysiakini that the police on the ground wanted the dinner to be held indoors.

dap klang dinner 210609 shopCanopies have been erected outside the office.

In a twitter update earlier, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang described the area as a "war zone".

"Bayu Tinggi Klang a war zone, FRU trucks and water cannons. Police armed with M16. Area sealed off.

"Terrorist attack? No. Because of DAP dinner," he stated.

The incident in Klang today bore similarities to police action on a DAP dinner in Sitiawan on May 16, where the police stopped the DVD screening of the May 7 Perak state assembly fracas.

DAP dinner a tame affair

Written by Yong Min Wei, The Edge

The DAP fund-raising dinner attended by some 3,000 people this evening turned out to be a tame affair following police intervention.

Police and FRU personnel had late this afternoon cordoned off the area outside Klang MP Charles Santiago's Bayu Tinggi office as the permit for the fund raising dinner at an open space was withdrawn at the eleventh hour.

According to Selangor DAP chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah, police initially disallowed anyone from gathering at the open space for the dinner but later relented to at least allow the 3,000-odd guests to have their dinner beneath the canopies before dispersing.

"We (DAP lawmakers) had to negotiate with them and get them to understand the organisers cannot just cancel the dinner. I'm glad some 3,000 people attended despite the earlier interference," the Seri Kembangan assemblyman said.

However, he said police barred any speeches to be held and confiscated some audio-visual equipment before dinner was served, adding that there were seven FRU trucks and two water canon trucks at the venue.

"This is definitely a sabotage by the police. They forced this cancellation as they know we would convey strong political messages," he said, noting that a permit was initially obtained from the Klang district police headquarters.

Ean Yong, who is also a state executive councillor, said police told DAP that a fund-raising dinner could only be held indoors due to security and traffic concerns.

He added that police had earlier this month stopped a fund-raising dinner in Serdang but than allowed them to proceed in an enclosed area at the multi-purpose hall.

Today's dinner was organised by the DAP Klang parliamentary liaison committee and would have seen party leaders such as Lim Kit Siang, Gobind Singh Deo, Nga Kor Ming and Ronnie Liu taking the stage.

The Poison of “Unity” Government

This “unity government” scheme is nothing more than a crude and greedy power-grab by the UMNO and PAS pair. It is not to be confused with Tun Razak’s version following the May 1969 tragedy. Then it was truly a unity initiative, with the wise Tun opening up the old Alliance coalition to all willing participants.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

M. Bakri Musa

The two Malay political parties – UMNO and PAS – are battling each other to convince us that each is better than the other in advancing the “Malay agenda.” The two are like ageing fighters stuck with their same old tired moves. They are oblivious of the fact that we are fed up with their act; their lack of vigor and imaginative new strategies.

In a clumsy if not desperate attempt for new moves they concocted a ‘vision’ for a ‘unity’ government based on the two parties! Left unstated is the question: Unity for what and against whom?

I wish that they would expend their efforts on making our people competitive, and thus lifting us out of poverty. That is the most important Malay agenda today. Better yet, I would prefer that they just exit the ring and let others run the show for a change.

I fail to see how this ‘unity’ government would make Malays more competitive. The track record for UMNO is for all to see. Corruption is now rampant, as well as the erosion of the integrity of our institutions and the deepening polarization of Malaysians. The Melayu Baru (New Malay) of UMNO has now morphed into Melayu Barua (Malay scoundrels).

As for PAS, after decades of ruling Kelantan, the young still has to leave the state to seek a better life. The state is regularly plagued with such diseases as cholera. Tok Guru Nik Aziz may be pious and religious, with honesty and humility thrown in massive doses, but he is completely inept in running a modern state. Apparently his humility does not extend to his intellect for he has not seen fit to seek competent help in such ‘secular’ matters.

New Political Reality

UMNO and PAS are so used to fighting each other that they have forgotten what it is they are fighting for. While they are busy fighting each other, the world has passed them by. Today with the increasing plurality of the Malaysian electorate, securing the majority Malay votes would not necessary translate into political power, at least at the national level.

In a rare display of political wisdom, PAS recognized the need to reach beyond by, for example, fielding non-Malay candidates in the last election and establishing a new wing within the party for non-Muslims. However, whatever inroads the party may have made with non-Malays have since evaporated with its ill-conceived pursuit of a “unity government” with UMNO.

UMNO, a slow learner, has yet to recognize this new political reality. Thus it treats its non-Malay coalition partners in Barisan with undisguised contempt. UMNO leaders are quick to brandish their kerises, preferably dripped with ketchup for dramatic effect, at the slightest provocation.

Chauvinistic appeals of Ketuanan Melayu to win Malay votes might still work, but only regionally in Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, and Trengganu. Unfortunately those are not exactly the economic or power centers of the nation. In terms of population, landmass, and most importantly economic activities, the contributions of those states to the national total are at best miniscule.

The elements overrepresented in those states are poverty and the underdevelopment of the people, and the overwhelming majority of whom are, sadly, Malays. Oh, yes, combined those four states have nearly half (four out of nine) of the sultans. For some, that is a source of endless pride.

As for the much-vaunted Malay agenda or even Ketuanan Melayu, I am at a loss as to what exactly these Malay politicians are fighting for. If it is for retaining the Malay language, sultans and other key elements of Malay culture, including and especially Islam, those are already enshrined in our constitution. Even if non-Malays were to oppose that, there is not much that they could do about it. By themselves they could never secure the necessary two-third majority needed to amend the constitution.

The only way for non-Malays, or anyone else for that matter, to do away with those constitutional provisions would be to bribe Members of Parliament (Malays and non-Malays) to amend the constitution. Then just to be sure, also bribe the Senators and also the King and sultans so they too would agree with the changes.

The price tag would be cheap. The late Tun Ghaffar once suggested that for a few hundred million ringgit you could buy the entire UMNO Supreme Council. With a billion or two you could get the whole parliament and the Council of Rulers.

The colonial British secured the entire country for considerably much less, even after factoring in for inflation and devaluation (of both the sterling and ringgit). Flattery made up for what they could not afford in gold. The British offered fancy titles like the Knighthood of some Medieval Order to our leaders and sultans to win them over.

The corollary to my observation is that if we Malays truly wish to preserve our cherished special privileges, we better start electing honest and incorrupt leaders. Corrupt leaders would not only sell off those special privileges, they will also sell away our country.

Unity for What and Against Whom?

Following the Barisan election rout of March 8, 2008, the fear that the coalition, specifically UMNO, would lose power at the national level was palpable. This desperation led misguided souls in UMNO to seek those in PAS who had been longing for power. This quest for a ‘unity government’ was nothing more than UMNO securing an insurance policy for its continuing hold on power; for PAS, it was a seductive teasing on the taste of power.

It is ironic that the pursuit of a “unity government” resulted only in sowing distrust within the existing coalitions. In pursuing PAS, UMNO succeeded only in straining relations with its long-time Barisan partners. PAS meanwhile managed only to poison its still frail Pakatan Rakyat coalition with PKR and DAP. Worse, as we are now seeing, it also threatens the unity of PAS.

The proponents for this “unity government” have obviously not done their due diligence or any downstream analysis. Those UMNO warlords would not take kindly to sharing their bounty with their new kopiah-clad upstart colleagues. Far from ‘purifying’ UMNO, PAS would end up being just as corrupt as UMNO.

It is remarkable that both Tun Mahathir and Tok Guru Nik Aziz are against the idea. I do not know their individual motives, but the fact they are both in rare agreement should serve as a cautionary note.

If the disintegration of UMNO and PAS were the consequence of this “unity” movement, I could not care less. However, the initiative would poison race relations in the country on a scale comparable to the May 1969 tragedy. Indeed the venom has already seeped out. That should concern everyone.

This “unity government” scheme is nothing more than a crude and greedy power-grab by the UMNO and PAS pair. It is not to be confused with Tun Razak’s version following the May 1969 tragedy. Then it was truly a unity initiative, with the wise Tun opening up the old Alliance coalition to all willing participants.

This latest scheme is the ugliest manifestation of Malay ultra chauvinism. It would lead not to unity but greater polarizations among Malays as well as between Malays and non-Malays, and at a time when we can least afford it.

Even if UMNO were to merge with PAS, the new coalition would still never command a two-third majority in Parliament. At last count, even if every Member of Parliament with a Malay-sounding name were to vote in “unity,” that would still fall far short of a supra majority needed to amend the constitution. The political calculus has changed irreversibly.

The central reality is that Malays will have to advance with and not at the expense of non-Malay Malaysians. Likewise, non-Malays would advance along with and not at the expense of Malays. The unity that we should all strive for must not only be among Malays but also among Malaysians. We can begin that process not by pursuing a “unity government” but decreasing the rhetoric that polarizes our society. Demanding that our political leaders be civil and courteous to each other would be an excellent beginning. Oh yes, please also keep those kerises sheathed!

It amuses me that the most vigorous proponents of this “unity government” in UMNO and PAS are also the shrillest and most divisive voices before they discovered this ‘unity’ religion.

A New Direction For Malays

Instead of wasting time and effort in chasing the mirage of Malay ‘unity’ and in the process unnecessarily alienating others, Malay leaders should focus on the more difficult and critical problem of enhancing Malay competitiveness. This problem cannot be solved simply by shouting slogans of Malay unity or Ketuanan Melayu. Instead we need leaders who are smart, competent, diligent, and above all, not corrupt.

Look at the schools Malay children attend. How can we expect them to learn English or science when we do not provide them with competent teachers? Examine the institutions run predominantly by Malays, the civil service for example. As Malays we should be ashamed of this. We need these institutions to be effective as they are a key to making Malays competitive.

The list is endless. What is limited, and severely so, is the willingness to acknowledge, let alone solve them. I have yet to hear something sensible from either PAS or UMNO leaders. So far PAS wants Malays not to learn English and to ban Sisters in Islam. Well, that is an advancement of sorts; at least they are not harping on hudud. As for UMNO leaders, they cannot even decide whether to continue teaching science and mathematics in English.

Malay leaders should not be deluding the masses with half-baked ideas of “Malay unity.” These leaders succeed only in deluding themselves.

Do you really need to go to school to know right from wrong?

Let me put it to you another way. If you share my views then you are learned. If you disagree with my views then you are ignorant. In short, I am learned and you will also be considered learned only if you say or write what I agree.

NO HOLDS BARRED


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Political parties, civil servants the most corrupt: report
Karen Arukesamy, The Sun

PETALING JAYA (June 3, 2009) : Malaysians generally consider political parties and civil service to be the most corrupt groups, and the government's anti-corruption drive to be ineffective, the 2009 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report revealed.

The GCB, a global public opinion survey of 73,000 respondents from 69 countries, commissioned by Transparency International, found that political parties were perceived to be the most corrupt by 42% of respondents, while 37% picked civil service institutions.

About 12% of respondents rate the business and private sector as the third most corrupt in Malaysia.

In a survey conducted globally from October last year to February, in which Malaysia participated for the first time, 67% of respondents believe the government's efforts in fighting corruption is ineffective, leaving Malaysia way behind Indonesia where 74% of respondents said the government was effectively fighting graft.

Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) president Datuk Paul Low said: "The reason could be the lack of transparency and disclosures in the funding of political parties. Nobody knows how the campaigns and activities of political parties are funded, in both the Barisan Nasional and opposition parties."

"If political parties want to be perceived to be less corrupt, they should increase visibility of the sources of political funding, which may require making some changes to electoral laws," he said.

"We also need to eliminate money politics," Low said, adding that this includes crossovers between parties involving money.

He said political parties should also submit financial statements which should be made public.

Malaysia's regular spot in the Corruption Perception Index is close to five out of 10 and last year it ranked 47th out of 180 countries.

Low said TI-M, with its expertise and knowledge, was willing to work with the government to fight graft because it affects the poor the most.

The barometer showed that the poorest families continue to be punished by demands for petty bribe.

"Across the board, low income respondents were more likely to meet demands for bribes than high income respondents. Additionally, petty bribery was found to be on the rise in many regions, compounding the already difficult situation of low income households, as jobs and incomes dwindle in the economic downturn," Low said.

The report found that in Malaysia, 9% of respondents offered bribes in some form in the last 12 months.

Low said that in some countries poor citizens had to pay a bribe just to get their children into school, receive medical treatment in hospitals, or to have water services connected -- the most basic rights as citizens.

"The other area of interest is the 12% who voted the private sector. Although we are not as bad as other countries, corruption in the private sector is on the rise and must be dealt with seriously.

"It has to be tackled at the enterprise or corporate level. The CEO or board of directors will have to set the tone to fight graft. Put in place an anti-bribery policy and a whistle-blowing policy, and integrity agreements must be signed between companies and vendors."

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Many of my friends are no longer my friends. I am talking about my Malay friends in particular. This is because they are very irritated and upset about my articles on Islam. They feel I have gone overboard in insulting Islam. As much as I stress, again and again, it is not Islam but Muslims, in particular Malay Muslims, that I tegur (tegur, which is a Malay word, could mean chastises, take to task, remind, etc.), they still insist it is Islam I am insulting.

Anyway, they are entitled to their opinion, as everyone is, and I can’t change their mind if they insist on taking that view. But one thing that seems to escape them is that it is the duty, that means mandatory, for all Muslims to point out the transgressions of fellow-Muslims. This is called nahi munkar in Islam. It is not optional. It is not something you can choose to do or not to do. It is something you must do.

I suppose the only way they can rebut what I write would be to accuse me of insulting Islam. Then the ‘crime’ would be transferred to me rather than them. To acknowledge that I am merely fulfilling my Islamic duty would mean they are endorsing my actions. And if they endorse my actions then they have to argue where I have erred or counter my arguments with facts. Since they are not able to do that then they accuse me of insulting Islam and leave it at that. No longer do they need to rebut what I say or engage me in any debate to prove me wrong.

One ‘traditional’ argument they use is to accuse me of being jahil (ignorant) of Islam. I should stop talking about Islam because I am not learned in matters involving Islam. I should first go learn Islam from an ulamak (learned man) before I attempt to talk about Islam. I am speaking like a five-year old child, and so on and so forth.

I have heard it all before, many times. They assume I have never studied Islam. They also assume that if I did study Islam it could not have been from an ulamak. And judging by my comments it appears like I never touched a kitab (religious book) in my life. This assumption is based on my comments and views.

How did they arrive at this conclusion without actually knowing my background? Did they grow up with me and know for a fact I never went to religious school? Or is this opinion based merely on reading what I write?

It is quite simply, really. If I say or write something that is opposite to what they believe then this means I am ignorant and never studied Islam. But if I say or write something that is exactly what they believe then I am a learned person who probably spent many years studying Islam.

In short, the yardstick they use is tied to whether my opinions are the same as theirs or opposite to theirs. If they are the same then I am learned but if they differ then I am ignorant.

These people fail to see that when they use their view of things to determine if I am learned or ignorant, and I am learned or ignorant depending on how far my views are compared to theirs, this means they are establishing themselves as the yardstick. Is this not an arrogant approach?

Let me put it to you another way. If you share my views then you are learned. If you disagree with my views then you are ignorant. In short, I am learned and you will also be considered learned only if you say or write what I agree.

This is the way these people think. And when they criticise me as being ignorant because I have different views from them, they are actually claiming that they are learned and all those who do not agree with them are therefore ignorant. These are very pompous people indeed.

Okay, let us assume for the sake of argument that I am ignorant on matters related to Islam. Let us also assume that I never went to religious class to learn about Islam and therefore know nothing about Islam. So I am an ignoramus. We shall agree on that. Then read that article by The Sun above. Do I really need to go to religious class or go learn Islam from an ulamak to be able to understand that politicians and civil servants are amongst the most corrupted people in Malaysia? Seriously, do I need to go to an Islamic university to be able to write an opinion about how bad corruption is and that not only Islam but all religions condemn corruption?

Even if they are right in that I am ignorant about Islam and do not have the qualifications to talk about Islam, you really do not need to go to school or have any qualifications to know the difference between right and wrong. Common sense is enough and that is all it takes. And surely God gave all of us brains for a reason. Even non-Muslims understand that. And you need not go to an Islamic university to understand that.

Kit Siang’s reserve suggests a fragile Pakatan

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

PETALING JAYA, June 21 – DAP leader Lim Kit Siang usually speaks his mind plainly. But today, he seemed unable – or unwilling – to put himself and his party on the line over the controversial unity talks between Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partner PAS and rival Umno.

Lim’s failure to do so sends out a clear signal that the fledgling coalition is more fragile than it appears.

Speaking to reporters at the DAP headquarters here on the eve of a key meeting with fellow PR parties in Parliament, the seasoned politician repeated his view that his alliance was facing a “crisis of confidence” triggered by the Islamist party chief’s insistence on sitting down with Umno to talk about Malay/Muslim issues.

Lim seemed keen to play down PAS president Datuk Hadi Awang’s role and that of his deputy, in pushing the talks.
Instead, he was quick to lay the blame squarely at the feet of Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN), especially the Malay party’s No. 2 Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He even accused Muhyiddin, who is also the deputy prime minister, of openly trampling on the prime minister’s national unity-building efforts.

He highlighted Muhyiddin’s keenness for the talks, noting the latter’s seeming willingness to accept any terms set by PAS.

But the DAP adviser was reluctant to answer questions about the party’s stand on PAS ahead of the PR discussion tomorrow.

He demurred when answering what the party’s stand is on PAS, saying: “Ask me after the meeting tomorrow.”

“We don’t believe in ultimatums,” Lim said when pressed if DAP would issue an ultimatum to PAS for insisting on its right to talk with Umno on Malay/Muslim matters despite the overwhelming wave of opposition from within its own party as well as in DAP and PKR.

Lim continued to skirt the issue by rejecting the offer from the MCA to hold talks on matters affecting the Chinese community.

“DAP is not interested to hold talks on Chinese unity as the DAP is a multiracial Malaysian party,” Lim replied to a public offer from Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, president of the ruling coalition’s Chinese party in the media earlier today.

He continued to sneer at MCA’s efforts to reach out, and reminded Ong of his party’s and Gerakan’s failure to hold meaningful talks on an education policy involving the Chinese community 22 years ago.

“Umno reacted in a rage and MCA leaders were severely reprimanded!” Lim said.

“It was even justification for the notorious Operation Lalang ISA mass arrests with over 100 people detained,” he added.

The Ipoh-Timur MP accused Umno and MCA of playing up the race card to plant doubts among Malaysians.

“Umno is now accusing PAS of being frightened of DAP and PKR. MCA is accusing DAP of being frightened of PAS,” Lim said, referring to PR’s hesitation to talk on community issues.

While Lim claims to make DAP’s stand very clear – “We stand for Malaysian unity” – his sudden preference for silence speaks volumes about the uncertain state of play in PR.

Malaysians have no choice but to wait and see tomorrow if Lim can deliver on his promise that PR will resolve the crisis of confidence and send out a clear message that PR parties are “committed to new politics representing all Malaysians”.

Nik Aziz tells Umno to apologise

By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider

KOTA BAHRU, June 21 - Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat today demanded Umno apologise for their past actions against PAS, pointing out his opposition to unity talks is consistent with the party stand.

The Islamist party spiritual advisor was responding to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's remark on Friday where the deputy prime minister urged PAS to let bygones be bygones and work towards forming a unity government.

"They want me to forgive they must first admit their mistakes and apologise," Nik Aziz told reporters at his official residence here before meeting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Kelantan mentri besar added that his opposition to the unity government proposal is consistent with the decision of the PAS muktamar or general assembly last year.

"I am not being stubborn, I am just defending the decision of the muktamar. Proper procedure must be followed," said Nik Aziz.

He also reiterated his stand that engagement with Umno is not necessary, saying that it would be difficult for PAS to strengthen Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and to work with the Malay nationalist party at the same time.

During the party's muktamar early this month, both party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and his deputy Nasharudin Mat Isa promised to remain in PR but would continue talking to Umno on specific issues.

Nik Aziz has continued voicing out opposition to working with Umno and had even asked Nasharudin to leave the party and resign as Bachok MP for his stand on unity talks with their political rivals.

PAS is expected to put an end to the public disagreement through PR leadership meeting and the special central working committee meeting.

Nik Aziz has also called for meeting with Hadi, Nasharudin and leaders who are seen to be in favour of pursuing unity talk with Umno.

100,000 Tamils march in London over Sri Lanka’s concentration camps

Over one hundred thousand expatriate Tamils in Britain marched Saturday through central London to express their outrage at international inaction over Sri Lanka’s massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils and the suffering of hundreds of thousands more enduring starvation, disease, disappearance, rape and torture in Colombo’s internment camps. Dressed in black, carrying placards and several hundred Tamil Eelam flags, the protesters marched from Hyde Park to rally at Embankment. The event was organised by the British Tamil Forum.

Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka


Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka
The protestors began forming up at midday and began their march at 2:00 p.m. By the time the lead protestors reached Haymarket, the hundred thousand-strong column stretched the mile-long length of Piccadilly and up Park Lane. The rally began at 5.30 p.m.

To facilitate the march, the Police closed off traffic in one direction along the three-lane Park Lane and Piccadilly roads and along Haymarket, past Parliament Square and one direction of the thoroughfare along the Embankment.

Hundreds of red and yellow Tamil Eelam flags fluttered in the summer breeze as the marchers chanted slogans, handed out leaflets to tourists and spectators crowding the pavements and balconies of central London. Several Union Jacks were carried by the protestors.

“The protests we have been doing [in the Diaspora centres], at last has opened the conscience of the Western world,” a BTF spokesman said. “For example, the mainstream media has begun to expose the scale of the tragedy suffered by our people.”

“Our struggle has now shifted to the hands of the Diaspora,” he said.

“We have gathered here today to begin the next chapter of our long struggle to come.”

Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka


Tamil expatriates were joined by delegations from Columbian, Kurdish, Palestinian and some Indian communities in Britain, as well civil liberties and social justice groups.

At the front of the protestors’ column were mobile street theatres depicting Sri Lanka’s militarized concentration camps where hundreds of thousands of Tamils are detained without access to sufficient food or medicine and suffering escalating abuse.

Groups of Tamil people, including – elderly, children, families, dressed in blood-stained clothing and bandages marched within squares of barbed wire bearing signs with names of known concentration camps. Other protestors dressed in military uniform threateningly wielded batons to symbolize the ongoing brutality.

Leaflets handed out set out the protestors’ demands about Sri Lanka’s abuses: “[1] Stop the disappearances, rapes and torture occurring daily at the internment camps, and find all those who have already gone missing [2] Free people from the camps immediately so that they can return to their normal way of life [3] Bring the perpetrators of the genocide against the Tamils to justice.”

Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka


Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka
Protestors marching as inmates of internment camps of all the districts of North-East
Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka
Another leaflet stated: “The Tamil community, disappointed and embittered by the failure of the UK and other international powers to prevent the recent carnage despite constant and repeated warnings, are demanding that the international community must at least now act decisively to save the estimated 300,000 civilians in these camps, who remain in grave danger.”

The protestors gathered on Embankment by Blackfriars Bridge where a stage had been set up, decorated in Tamil colours of red and yellow and a banner demanding “Free Tamils from Nazi style concentration camps! Prosecute the war criminals of the Sri Lankan State!”

The rally was addressed by British political personalities, including Tony Benn, Simon Hughes MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP, as well as Tamil and British human rights and social justice activists.

Veteran politician Tony Benn condemned the Sri Lankan state’s violence against the Tamils as crimes against humanity in which Britain continues to play an unacceptable. He also criticised the British media for the woeful lack of coverage the conflict in Sri Lanka has received, compared to similar conflicts around the world.

Raji Nesaraja, representing the Tamil Youth Organisation (TYO), said the recent events in Sri Lanka were “nothing short of genocide”.

In a stirring speech that illustrated the strong feelings amongst young Tamils in the UK, she went on to say that, following repeated and desperate warnings of an impending bloodbath, young Tamils were left dumbfounded and disappointed by the UN’s complete lack of response.

She however expressed her optimism in the awakening of all sections of the British Tamil community in the past few months, and, observing that “we are witnessing a global uprising of Tamils,” vowed the Tamil struggle would be taken forward.

Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka
Sikh solidarity with Eezham Tamils
Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka


Jan Jananayagam, who stood as an independent candidate at the 4 June European election, winning a historic record of 50,000 votes for an independent, urged everyone to work tirelessly until the Tamils of Sri Lanka enjoy the same rights that Tamils take for granted in the UK.

She also reminded the crowd of the power of their vote in a genuine democracy, and urged them to ensure they make their individuals vote count during the next UK general election towards the cause of stopping Sri Lanka’s genocide..

Andy Higginbottom, secretary of the Columbia Solidarity campaign and lecturer in human rights at Kingston University, called claims that the LTTE used civilians as human shields during the conflict the “first lie of the international media” and the “first propaganda victory of the Sri Lankan government”. He went on to denounce the inaction of the UN during the conflict, and the pitiable resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council following the conflict, an “absolute and utter disgrace”.

Simon Hughes MP, a senior Liberal Democrat and long-time supporter of the Tamils, praised the “fantastic courage and determination” that UK Tamils have shown in the past few months, and assured the crowd that there were many non-Tamils that supported them in their aspirations.

Cllr Julian Bell, leader of the Ealing Labour Party and researcher for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG-T) admitted that members of the APPG-T share the Tamil community’s feelings of being let down by Britain’s Labour government.

He said the APPG-T were working hard to ensure that the food and medical aid that UK Tamils collected and sent to Sri Lanka on board the Mercy Mission ship, which was recently turned away by the Sri Lankan authorities, would still reach the desperate Tamil civilians there.

Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka
Protest in UK against internment camps in Sri Lanka


Dan Mayor, national organiser for the Socialist Worker Party, angrily dismissed complaints about the alleged police cost during the 73 day Tamil protest at Westminster, saying that the Britain had made much more money through the sale of military equipment to Sri Lanka.

He blamed the US/UK led ‘War on Terror’ for masking the political question in Sri Lanka and weakening the Tamils’ position and making possible Sri Lanka’s brazen onslaught against the Tamils.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour politician and chairman of the human rights organisation Liberation, called for a complete economic boycott of Sri Lanka, saying “the tourism must stop, the arms must stop, the trade must stop”.

Tim Martin, former aid worker and director of the charity Act Now, was loudly cheered by the crowds as he thanked them for the huge support he received from UK Tamils during his recent 21-day hunger strike in Parliament Square. Revealing that Bob Geldoff and several other international celebrities have begun pledging their support for the Tamils struggle against Sinhala oppression, he urged UK Tamils to “keep on fighting” for the freedom of their people in Sri Lanka.

Police presence was light throughout the event. Officers closing off side roads, so protestors could pass and guiding tourists and others seeking to reach places on the other side of the column of marchers.

Officers worked with several hundred Tamil volunteers to keep the crowd moving steadily and there were no riot police, in contrast to some other major protests in London. Media helicopters and police chopper remained aloft for the duration.