Share |

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bolivian man acted alone in Mexico hijacking, official says

MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- A 44-year-old Bolivian drug addict and alcoholic who describes himself as a church minister was the sole person responsible for the brief hijacking Wednesday of a commercial jetliner, a Mexican official said.

Military personnel surround a hijacked Aeromexico jet after it landed Wednesday in Mexico City.

Military personnel surround a hijacked Aeromexico jet after it landed Wednesday in Mexico City.

The suspect, Josmar Flores Pereira, told authorities he hijacked the Boeing 737 jet because the date -- September 9, 2009, or 9/9/9, and 666 reversed -- held some significance for him, said Genaro Garcia Luna, the secretary for public safety.

"He said that because of that divine reference, he wanted to alert Mexico City of an earthquake," Garcia told reporters.

Flanked by two police officers, the suspect -- wearing a white shirt and blue jeans -- was then paraded in front of the news media. Chewing gum, he smiled.

"Christ is coming soon," he told reporters before being escorted off. He said that he had attached colored lights to a can and that there had been no bomb.

The hijacker took control of Aeromexico Flight 576 as the jet flew from the resort town of Cancun, telling a flight attendant he was one of three hijackers, Garcia said.

He said a cardboard box he had contained a bomb, and threatened to blow it up if his demand to speak to President Felipe Calderon was not met, Garcia said.

Calderon was in the presidential hangar in the airport preparing to depart when the incident began, leading him to cancel his planned flight, CNN affiliate TV Azteca reported.

The hijacking apparently went unnoticed by many of those aboard the plane, which landed five minutes ahead of scheduled and was moved to a remote area of the airport. Passengers, clutching their hand luggage, walked from the plane and down a moveable stairway onto the tarmac, where they got into buses.

Pamela Cheatham, who said she was on the flight en route to Colorado, told CNN that nothing appeared amiss until the plane did not go directly to the terminal. Instead, the pilot announced that, for security purposes, the plane was gong to have to sit on the tarmac for a few minutes, she said.

"But when we saw the SWAT team and guys with the guns on both sides of the airline, we knew something was up," she said.

Moments later, the suspect and several other people were taken into custody, TV Azteca said. The package turned out not to contain explosives, the station said.

Garcia said the other people who were detained turned out not to be involved.

A U.S. law enforcement official familiar with the situation said preliminary information indicated there were 112 passengers aboard the plane, all from Mexico, the United States or France.

"The flight was very tranquil," said Marisa Lopez, a passenger who was seated in Row 24 with her baby.

She said the only thing that caught her attention was the large number of emergency vehicles that were lined up along the tarmac when they arrived, five minutes ahead of schedule.

"Really, it was all very peaceful," she said. "We saw nothing."

Others were more aware of what was going on.

"It was very difficult, but the pilot told us to remain calm," said another passenger, who added that many of the passengers were families returning from vacation in Cancun.

The woman said the hijacker never spoke to them during the 45 minutes they were held.

"We were scared," said another woman. "But it seemed like things got under control when we came down. We were immediately surrounded, when we landed, by federal police."

Flores' wife, speaking with CNN by telephone from their home in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca, said her husband had been looking for a way to get his message about God to the news media.

"He never wanted to hurt anyone," said Elisa Melgar, 38, the mother of their three sons and his wife of 18 years. "As his wife, I support him," she said, adding her husband had not touched alcohol or drugs for the past 17 years. "He's a man who was transformed by the power of God."

A video posted on YouTube shows the suspect singing that God had saved him from a life of drug addiction.

Don't withdraw 'cow head' police report - Malaysiakini

'In the interest of justice, I hope the 'Indian brothers' will not withdraw their police reports. The truth has to be upheld.'

12 charged in court over cow-head protest

Chee Hoe Siew: "Indian brothers"? Wow! Suddenly so friendly now. Bear in mind that it is not just Indians you have offended, the group intended to start a racial riot using the incident and endanger the whole Selangor community.

Worse still the federal government is trying to fan the fire and try making use of MCMC to silence the messengers. Kudos to the state government for a job well done and Malaysiakini for not fearing to show the truth.

Gk: My position is that, if one wants to protest, protest in a civilised way and don't ever protest in the name of a religion. I believe no one religion teaches its followers to behave in such rude manner. Think before you act, that's the general rule everyone should have in mind.

Liew Chee-Kong: Now that the guys caught on video are charged for sedition, why was it that the honourable home minister said the presence of the people who brought the cow's head was a mystery? Any apologies?

Kee Thuan Chye: In the interest of justice, I hope the "Indian brothers" will not withdraw their police reports. The truth has to be upheld. Why withdraw? Because the residents have been so kind as to accept the new site for the temple's relocation?

They are so powerful that it is up to them to decide? If not for them, the Indians would not get their temple in section 23? Humbug! Arrogance should not be rewarded with grace or mercy.

Eugene: Withdraw the report if the matter is solved? Bah, are they stupid? They didn't even have an ounce of regret and even maintain their innocence! Everyone of them should be behind bars.

Myop101: How can a person withdraw a police report once it is lodged? By withdrawing it, that person would have wasted the resources of the state and abuse the justice process where precious resources are directed to trivial matters. I don't think the issue at hand is trivial and by all means, the police should continue their investigations.

Louis: They should charge them and get them convicted. No compromise. If they dared show off their despicable act, be a man to face the consequences. Let it be a lesson to all. Hope no unseen hands are pulling the strings for a lenient sentence.

Gen2: Look at the way the charges are framed. Bringing a cow's head, stepping on a cow's head. Both acts do not break any law by themselves. Nothing is mentioned about threatening bloodshed. So their lawyers can claim the charges are defective since no law is broken and so case thrown out.

Sudevan: This is part one of the 'sandiwara'. Just look at the charges: "The first two were charged with stepping on the cow's head, the third for bringing the animal's head, while the remaining three for both bringing and stepping the cow's head." Who cares about what they did to the cow's head? The whole issue here is the intention of their drama. This case will be thrown out in no time.

Ravindranath: I saw a kid in the protest. Shouldn't there be a endangerment charge included too? When Hindraf protested they threatened to have the kids taken away from their parents. Perhaps someone needs to lodge a police report on that charge.

Luk: Trust me. It is done for the sake of upcoming by-election to please the voters. The case will drag long enough to be forgotten after the by-election. What outcome do you expect when you have a home minister meeting and holding a press conference with the culprits? Don't we have enough past cases to tell us that this case will also get nowhere?

Rayfire: I don't know about the rest, but I have a strange feeling about this whole drama and the insistence of the MB on maintaining the relocation plan to Section 23. Will it be good in the long run?

Since we started on the wrong foot, will the devotees be able to peacefully perform their prayers or will this lead to more chaos? And now, 12 people charged in front of an Indian judge, a coincidence? I hope the authorities know what they are dealing with, because racial tension is not an easy thing to tackle.

RPK Speaks - Episode 1 - The Altantuya SD

NHB

RPK explains how his statutory declaration with regards to the murder of Altantuya intended for the Prosecutor's eyes only was published without his permission by those who looked to undermine its contents.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

The SD can be read online here: http://www.malaysia-today.net/2008/content/view/9050/84/

The video can also be watched on YOUTUBE here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4yE5vv73DA

RPK renews attacks over Altantuya allegations on Youtube

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — After absconding from his sedition and criminal defamation trials, fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin appears to have begun his own defence through the first in a series of video interviews of him on the Internet.

RPK has renewed his online offensive against Najib and Rosmah with a series of interviews on Youtube. — File picture by Choo Choy May

Hosted on Youtube, RPK, as he is popularly known, renewed his attacks against the police and the Attorney-General for deciding to prosecute him over allegations he made regarding the prime minister and his wife’s involvement in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.

He also compared his case to the vigour shown in the investigation of alleged corruption by the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government.

“The government raids the offices of a Selangor exco based just on Internet reports. Somebody publishes a story accusing an exco member of taking money and they raid the office.

“The source of the information and the allegation is anonymous but it is enough for government to spring into action,” he said in the short video clip of just over six minutes.

Speaking about his own troubles with the government, he pointed out that he did not make an anonymous declaration about the Altantuya murder, but signed a statutory declaration.

The allegations have been dismissed a number of times by Najib. Altantuya, a mistress of the PM’s former associate, was killed in late 2006, and her body blown to bits with explosives in a secondary jungle area just outside the city.

The former associate of Najib, Razak Baginda, was acquitted of conspiracy to murder. Two policemen were found guilty of the sensational crime.

Although he provided no concrete evidence, RPK’s allegations had fed roiling speculation surrounding the murder.

In his video interview posted today, RPK spoke of a conspiracy and selective prosecution by the authorities.

“I didn’t publish it on the Internet,” he said of his statutory declaration.

“I got my lawyers to send a copy to the prosecutors. They leaked it and it came out on an Umno website.”

He claimed that the police initiated investigation and charges against him based on what was published on an Umno website.

RPK asked why the government did not detain the owner of the website that published his statutory declaration, as he was not unknown.

“As soon as it came out on the website, the AG says he (RPK) has signed a false declaration. The next day the IGP says the cops will take action on the false declaration.

“How did the police and the AG know I made a false declaration when no investigation was launched to determine if the information is true or false?”

He claimed this showed selective prosecution.

It is unclear where the video interviews were recorded. RPK’s whereabouts remain a mystery.

Malaysian police are seeking the help of Interpol to apprehend him, suggesting the authorities believe he is overseas.

RPK went on the lam in April when he failed to turn up for his sedition trial. There is also a second warrant of arrest issued against him for failing to turn up for his criminal defamation trial in May.

Despite being a fugitive, RPK continues to taunt the authorities and remains a thorn in the side of the Najib administration.

RPK continues to write regularly on his Malaysia Today website, giving his take on political developments and criticising the police and the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

According to a news report in May, police said they believed RPK was in Brisbane, Australia, together with his wife.

But in July, a Sessions Court was told that RPK was believed to be in the country and not in Australia as reported by the media.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar said police investigation revealed that RPK, 59, had never left the country.

Tee Keat calls super task force the ‘final lap’

By Lee Wei Lian - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat says that the new super task force announced yesterday is a continuation of the probe by his ministry into the troubled Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) transhipment hub.

The super task force will be led by the chief secretary to government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan.

When asked if he will be involved in the super task force, Ong replied that his ministry officials would be part of it but declined to comment on whether his lack of involvement in the super task force was an attempt to de-politicise PKFZ.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, however, had yesterday said there was no attempt to minimise Ong’s role.

“The announcement of the super task force is a follow up to what was done before through the Port Klang Authority and the special task force. This is the final lap of the final exercise to help solve the problem,” Ong told reporters at a press conference after handing out festive gifts to the underprivileged at a school in his Pandan parliamentary constituency today.

He added that the report submitted by the special task force commissioned by his ministry will serve as a good reference to the super task force.

Asked to confirm news reports that former Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy was named in the special task force report, Ong said he was “not interested” to clarify but said that he “had a good laugh” and that the news reports were a “gimmick” by certain individuals.

Penang set to become high-income economy

The state government in Penang is working towards making the state’s economy a high-income one. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — The Penang state government said it is prepared to heed the advice of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to become a high income economy, even as Malaysia continues to lose its competitiveness.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Malaysia, too, needs to prepare itself to become knowledge-based, innovation-driven economy in order to maintain its competitive edge.

He was referring to a recent report by WEF that Malaysia’s global competitiveness ranking has dropped from 21 to 24.

“The Penang state government is adopting this advice by taking steps towards a high-income economy based on innovation, creativity and high value shifting our reliance based on low-cost labour to high technology and modern services sector dependent upon highly-paid and skilled workers,” Lim told Singapore investors at the launching of the Penang showcase in the republic, yesterday.

He added that a 200-acre Education Hub in Balik Pulau and the soon to be expanded Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC), will serve as an incubator to develop knowledge, skills and human capital.

Lim said the state government is also committed to creating an efficient civil service and to ensure respect for the rule of law.

“Despite our lack of natural resources, I believe in the energy, expertise and entrepreneurship in the people of Penang to make this vision of an international city possible,” said Lim.

“We offer Singapore investors a unique choice to participate in Penang's effort of wealth creation based on opportunities for growth, social equity by economic expansion and social inclusiveness by treating people not as shades of colours but as human beings,” he added.

Will Najib’s super task force on PKFZ scandal be a super “cover-up” task force to try to “get the cat back into the bag”?

By Lim Kit Siang,

I am taken aback by the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak of the Cabinet decision yesterday to set up a super task force, headed by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, to investigate the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

Why didn’t the Cabinet establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal to ensure a full inquiry and public accounting of the mother of all scandals – as the Gerakan President and KPI Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon had belatedly given his support?

Unless convinced otherwise, I see the establishment of the so-called “super task force” into the PKFZ scandal as a major step backwards in public accountability and good governance, as it smacks of being a super “cover up” task force to get “the cat back into the bag” with specific reference to the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.

What is the purpose of a super task force into the PKFZ scandal, which is to include the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail, the Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Wan Abdul Aziz and representatives from Finance and Transport Ministries, after the the PKFZ scandal had ballooned from RM1.08 billion in 2002 to RM4.6 billion in 2006 and now set to become RM12.5 billion through three Transport Ministers and three Prime Ministers?

Will the super task force now make all other inquiries, whether by the Public Accounts Committee or the PricewaterhouseCoopers and various Port Klang Authority task forces subordinate and irrelevant?

After three years of persistent questioning inside and outside Parliament as well as the recent 108 questions of “three-queries-a-day” directed at the Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, there have been some significant results in forcing into the public domain the gross and wide-ranging financial improprieties of the PKFZ “mother of all scandals” – although what has been made public is only the tip of an iceberg.

Will the super task force announced by Najib yesterday result in the PKFZ scandal again shrouded in secrecy and unaccountability?

Another query is why the Chief Secretary Sidek Hassan is now heading such an inquiry into the PKFZ scandal, and why he had failed to conduct such an inquiry earlier as this was resolved by the Cabinet in July 2007 when it decided on the RM4.6 billion bailout of PKFZ, including giving retrospective approval to the four illegal Letters of Support unlawfully given by the two previous Transport Ministers, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy which have landed the country in the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.

There should be individual and collective Ministerial responsibility by the Cabinet members for the shocking decision yesterday to set up the so-called super task force, when the right course of action would be a Royal Commission of Inquiry to conduct a public and no-holds-barred investigation into the “mother of all scandals” in the nation’s history.

For a start, can Tsu Koon explain why he abandoned his support for a Royal Commission of Inquiry and instead accepted a super task force which might end up as a super “cover up” task force into the PKFZ scandal?

Time to be afraid

By Jacqueline Ann Surin
thenutgraph.com

cow skull telling malaysians to be afraid
Malaysians are being told to be afraid (© Marcelo Terraza / sxc.hu)

"BE afraid. Be very afraid." That, in essence, was what the protestors against a Hindu temple relocation in Shah Alam were saying. But they were not just saying it to their Hindu neighbours in Section 23, Shah Alam. They were also saying it to the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor government. In fact, they were saying it to all Malaysians.

How else can we explain their actions? First, on 28 Aug 2009, when they demonstrated with a severed cow head outside the Selangor state secretariat, promising bloodshed if a Hindu temple was relocated to their neighbourhood. And then on 5 Sept 2009, when they acted aggressively and threatened to rape and harm during what was meant to be a state government dialogue with the residents.

What's worse is that the Barisan Nasional leadership and the administration under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is doing little to address this threat of violence. Indeed, if Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein's actions are anything to go by, it would seem that the Umno vice-president actually supports the threat of violence by disgruntled Malay-Muslim Malaysians in their bid to get their way.

It's the violence, stupid

Yes, six of the cow-head protestors were charged with sedition on 9 Sept after much public outcry at the state's double standards when dealing with demonstrators. These six, together with another six men, were also charged with illegal assembly.

The Star quoted the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan in a report on 8 Sept 2009 as saying the police was serious about taking action against protestors who offended the people of other faiths. But doing so does not address what the real problem is.

What is the real issue at hand? It is this — violence and the threat of violence should not be tolerated. Period. And it is incumbent on the state to ensure that people are protected from violence. That, unfortunately, isn't what the state is doing.


Hishamuddin

Hishammuddin's failing in defending the cow-head protestors in his office, mind you, was showing that he actually has a high tolerance for the threat of violence. Unfortunately, his actions also signal a particular tolerance for uncouth behaviour if it's by a Muslim-Malay Malaysian group towards non-Muslim, non-Malay Malaysians. We shouldn't be surprised, of course. He is, after all, the former Umno Youth chief who raised the keris twice at the Umno general assembly in upholding ketuanan Melayu.

My question is, why are the cow-head protestors and the violent residents at the 5 Sept town house meeting not being charged instead with assault under Section 351 of the Penal Code? Why charge them with sedition, which we all know, from numerous past cases, is arbitrary?

And by justifying the charge of sedition with terms like "offending other faiths" and "disrupting harmony" as was underscored by the 8 Sept Star news report, doesn't that demonstrate that any other act which is remotely seen as "offensive" to another faith would be open to charges of sedition as well?

For example, does this mean then, that if a Muslim-majority neighbourhood deems the sale of pork in a wet market as offensive, pork sellers can be charged with sedition? What about the use of "Allah" by non-Muslims? Can Christians be charged with sedition then for offending the sensibilities of some Muslims, most notably those in government who continue to uphold the ban on the use of the word by Christians?

Right to peaceful assembly, please


Police interfering with anti-ISA vigil, 13 Sept 2008
(pic by Danny Lim)

What else is the state doing by charging cow-head demonstrators with "illegal assembly"? It is signifying that it will not respect the right to assembly and protest. Of course, in this particular instance, it took the police and the Attorney-General's Chambers a while to be consistent in their actions with regard to different groups of protestors. But the issue isn't about protestors assembling against the state or any other entity. The issue is this: the state must uphold the right to assemble peacefully. It is when protestors turn violent or threaten violence that the state must act.

But this is definitely not what the BN-administered state is saying. Perchance, it's because it actually condones violence, especially against minority groups, but this time round could not be seen to be doing so because of the public outrage. And I'll definitely wager that by charging the protestors with "illegal assembly", the AG is ensuring that the government's hands are not tied when it wants to crack down on any future anti-Internal Security Act rallies.

What's more, instead of immediately showing no tolerance for the violence that was promised and the actions of the home minister in endorsing the protestors, our government is attempting to suppress video reports of both incidents. Why else would the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission be harassing Malaysiakini to remove video reports about these two events from its site, and hence from public knowledge?

Be afraid

We should be afraid. Really. When an elected government shows such tolerance and so little adversity towards violence and the threat of violence, what assurances do citizens have? When the state will not act to punish those who act violently — including against the town hall mob who threatened sexual violence against an elected representative — what does it tell us about the administration we have in place? Worse, when the government of the day tries to censor the media from revealing its own folly, can we trust the people who are in power?

What's left for us to defend ourselves then? Do we need to be bigger bullies than the cow-head protestors and the mob at the town house meeting to ensure we get our way in our neighbourhood, state or country? Do we need to be in the majority so that we are much larger in numbers and can out-muscle and out-shout our way through, regardless of the legitimate interests of others?

It's beginning to feel that way all over again. Mind you, it's not the first time Malaysians have been made to feel threatened by the Muslim-Malay Malaysian majority in this country.

And if the state is not going to do anything about it, do we really still want this government running our country? As peace-loving citizens, what will we do to ensure that violence isn't the name of the game in Malaysia where the brashest, loudest and most threatening take over our nation?

Dire human rights situation in Malaysia

The Star
By SHAILA KOSHY

KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights violations continue to occur almost on a daily basis in Malaysia, said the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chairman Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman.

As an advisory body without executive power, he said there was nothing Suhakam could do to ensure the Government responded to and acted upon on its recommendations.

Although the Government had made significant improvement since the Suhakam Act became law on Sept 9, 1999, Malaysia did not have a perfect human rights record, Abu Talib said in his keynote address at Suhakam’s Malaysian Human Rights Day celebration on Wednesday.

He reminded participants at the celebration, which had the theme “Human Rights in Malaysia: The Last 10 Years,” that Suhakam was a “creature of statute” and that the solution lay in the hands of Malaysian voters.

“If you vote the right people into Parliament, they will amend the law to give us teeth to bite with,” he said in response to a question from the floor.

Earlier, in his speech, Abu Talib said Suhakam’s probe into complaints of abuses such as police inaction, excessive force, selective prosecution, death in custody, delays in citizenship applications and denial of rights to ancestral land found that most of these were legitimate.

“To many government employees, it would appear that the Universal Declaration (of Human Rights) is very remote from their everyday working lives,” he said.

He cautioned the Government that quelling dissenting voices and a free and open media would only encourage “whispering campaigns” that would result in social unrest.

Stressing that religion could not or should not be legislated, Abu Talib urged religious leaders to promote tolerance and respect for others.

Asked at a press conference about the boycott of the conference by 42 non-governmental groups because, among others, Suhakam had refused to send a team to monitor the anti-ISA (Internal Security Act) protest on Aug 1, Abu Talib said:

“It was not right for us to be there because the rally did not have a permit. We cannot act against the law. By not being there, it does not mean we cannot give an effective recommendation.

“We are for peaceful assemblies and we have recommended that the Police Act be amended so there is no need for a permit,” he said.

Commissioner Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, who is the organising chairman, clarified that representatives from 32 of the 42 NGOs had turned up.

Speech by Tan Sri Abu Ralib Othman
Chairman of Suhakam
At the Malaysian Human Rights Day
Sept 9 2009

Excellencies; Distinguished Guests; Yang Bahagia Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, Vice-Chairman of Suhakam; Yang Bahagia Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, Chairman of the Organising Committee

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and welcome to the Suhakam 2009 Human Rights Day Conference.

We are honoured by your presence here this morning. We are grateful that you have accepted our invitation and have come with the common purpose of assessing what has changed for human rights and exploring ways in which the Government, individual and society can play a more meaningful and constructive role in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For this year’s Human Rights Conference we have chosen the theme “Human Rights in Malaysia, The Last 10 Years” (the period since Suhakam was established) which has the objective of highlighting some of the human rights violations, the challenges facing the community in the field of human rights and how we should now proceed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Suhakam was established by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 which came into force in April 2000. It was done at the initiative of the Government with little public involvement. At the start human rights activists expected little of Suhakam. They were sceptical of the Government’s motives and critical of Suhakam’s actions.

Nevertheless, Suhakam held faith that human rights have attained a paramount status in mankind’s aspiration for an equitable and happier world. In Malaysia’s multi-racial and multi-cultural society, this aspiration has no room for confrontation or acrimony. In order to address the issues of human rights and to promote human rights awareness, we held consultations and dialogues with various stakeholders.

Suhakam has gone a long way to fulfil its obligations and realise its goal, continuously expanding its operations to reach towns and villages in various parts of the country. It has imparted human rights awareness and knowledge to people of all segments of society ranging from government officials and corporations to the general population, including orang asli (indigenous peoples), the Penan and schoolchildren. We did our utmost to address the root cause of violation of human rights and to protect and promote the human rights of the people in a balanced and equitable way.

We believe that when rights and responsibilities are balanced, freedom is enhanced. In carrying out our duties and responsibilities, we are guided by Human Rights principles and good practices. If, therefore, we were perceived to have been biased, when we are not, it is because we lean in favour of human rights. Today, human rights is known to a wide spectrum of the population and the people are now exercising their fundamental human rights more than ever before.

Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nation, said that “Human Rights are the foundation of human existence and co-existence … . Human rights are what made us human. They are the principles by which we create the sacred home for human dignity.”

In essence, Human Rights are the people’s rights. To mention the essential, they are the right to life, right to citizenship, right to education, right to development, right to standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, right to housing, equality before the law, prohibition of arbitrary arrest and detention, the presumption of innocence, right to freedom of thought, conscience, choice and change of religion, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to take part in the government of the country.

The most fundamental requirement is that human beings must be truly free in order to exercise such rights and freedom. Difference in status, race, language, sex, religion or political affiliation must not provide for discrimination regarding such rights. The exercise of those rights should not be the privilege of the happy few but all the people as envisioned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is greatly reflected in the Federal Constitution.

It is true that Article 29 of the Universal Declaration and the Constitution permit the imposition and limitation on such rights, but I submit, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the imposition of such limitation must be subject to the rule of law in a democratic society.

In my view legislation is not enough to ensure that human rights are respected everywhere and at all times, as the past 10 years made only too clear. We have during that time received and investigated complaints of police inaction, excessive use of force, selective investigations and prosecutions, death in police custody, selective enforcement of the law, arbitrary arrest and detention, denial of rights to ancestral land, delay in disposal of court cases and delay in processing application for citizenship.

We found most of the complaints to be legitimate.

To many government employees, it would appear that the Universal Declaration is very remote from their everyday working lives. But the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains a fundamental guideline for every executive government agency that is respect for the human dignity of everyone with whom it comes into contact.

One should fully acknowledge the fact that members of the public have many relationships of dependency with the government from the day they were born to the day they leave this world. Government’s relations with the members of the public are not merely in law, determined by what is prescribed by law, there is always an element of personal interaction as well.

Many complaints about the authorities are based on the individual’s sense of not being taken seriously, particularly the underprivileged, the poor, the weak, indigenous people and the disabled. They believe that they have human rights and that those who caused their suffering were acting illegally. It is their hope to be treated with dignity and to have their rights respected and that it is the purpose and duty of the government to respect and protect their rights.

It is in this connection, Ladies and Gentlemen, that we should all welcome the policy of “People First and Performance Now” announced by the Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak.

In my view, the Prime Minister’s policy is consistent with the Principles of Human Rights of ensuring a life of dignity for all. It is the realisation of this landmark policy which is pro-human rights that the people look forward to.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Government is firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights on the basis of its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Constitution, the establishment of Suhakam as well as from the values, customs and traditions of the people.

That may sit well, but we the Defenders of Human Rights must advance the agenda for a higher standard of accountability and performance consonant with international transparency practices. In this respect we welcome the decision of the Prime Minister to introduce KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for government employees, from the highest to the lowest. It is our hope that the Government will ensure that its agencies are not only well-staffed but that its employees must be adequately equipped to cope with this aspect of their work. Appropriate internal regulations and procedures to promote and protect human rights can certainly help to achieve this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the last 10 years Suhakam has conducted public inquiries on complaints of human rights violations, reviewed laws which clearly are contrary to the principles of human rights, such as the ISA (Internal Security Act), the Police Act, the Printing Press and Publications Act and the Official Secret Act, conducted research on land rights of indigenous people, organised forums and roundtable discussions on human rights education and recommended the ratification of the core human rights documents, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention Against Torture.

Suhakam had also recommended the introduction of a National Action Plan in the field of human rights and that major bills should be referred to a Select Committee of Parliament and State Assemblies after the first reading so that different sectors of society, such as experts, public interest groups and other concerned individuals, could give their input to the process.

Unfortunately, most of Suhakam’s findings and recommendations have yet to be implemented by the Government. As an advisory body without executive power there is nothing that Suhakam can do to ensure Government’s response and action to what it recommended. As such, human rights violations continue to occur almost on daily basis.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There can be no denial that we live in a society based on rights. The rights of every human being are very precious and important. Every effort should be made to protect and promote the belief that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Freedom, however, becomes meaningless in the absence of justice. No one should be allowed to take the law into his hand. It must not be that the guilty go unpunished, the dishonest rewarded, the custodians of the law become the biggest law breakers and that the court should strive in every case to determine what is right rather than who is right. Bad laws constitute the worst kind of injustice. A society not only needs good laws but also good people to restrain bad laws and enforce good laws without fear or favour.

Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquier, in 1742 said “There is no crueller tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”

Justice should not only be done but also be perceived as having been done.

Only the Government has the ability to ensure that the police and other agencies respect human rights while maintaining peace and security, and that the judicial systems are independent and effective in providing access to justice to all citizens. They can allow citizens to freely voice their concerns on important issues such as the misuse of public funds, abuse of power and illegal practices. By not allowing citizens to freely voice their concerns on such issues, we are encouraging whispering campaigns that will ultimately result in social and public unrest. We need to be open to legitimate criticisms and react positively.

The only means of truly gauging the public pulse is to listen to voices of dissent, a process reinforced by free and open media. In this connection we welcome the Government’s decision to amend the Police Act, the ISA and other preventive legislations. What the nature of amendment is has yet to be seen.

Religious leaders can mobilise the hearts and minds of their adherents. They should not use their influence to advocate and commit gross human rights violations. The purpose of religion is to bring lasting happiness to Man and that is only possible through obedience to God’s commandments, performance of one’s prayers and religious duties and naturally, through proper social conduct and observance of the rights of others. Religious belief cannot and should not be legislated. Religious leaders, therefore, should spare no efforts to promote tolerance and respect for others within and outside their communities.

Business leaders have a responsibility because they can directly influence the quality of life enjoyed by their employees. For this reason, corporations should be held to the same standard of human rights protection as the Government. Also, those who achieve great wealth have a moral obligation to give back to the communities that have enabled their success.

Individually, each of us can become a leader for human rights in our own communities by showing respect not only for our friends and families but also for those who are different from us. For us who have the right to choose our leaders, our commitment is to choose a leader who is committed in advancing human rights and good governance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Human rights violations can never be accepted and can never be a good thing for the people and the country. Human rights are our rights, now and for all times. When they are ignored, human misery and political instability all too easily follow.

In this regard I would like to commend on some of the positive moves made by the Government in its effort to protect public interest and human rights. In 2001, the Government amended Article 8 of the Constitution to include “gender” as one of the grounds prohibited from discrimination, improve the condition in detention centres and police lock-ups, ratified the Convention against Corruption, enacted the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act and the Person with Disabilities Act, addressed the plight of the poor, persons with disabilities, victims of trafficking and public housing, improve access to healthcare and providing free primary education.

Although the Government has made significant improvements in the protection of human rights in the last 10 years, this is not to say that Malaysia has a perfect human rights record. No Nation, no matter how enlightened, can claim to have a perfect human rights record.

Together, Suhakam with the Government, corporations, civil societies and the public can further improve human rights condition in the country. We simply have to work together instead of diverting our energy into futile and unproductive debate over wrongly perceived alternatives or who is right or wrong. Human rights should not be politicised and its principles selectively applied.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the last 10 years, Suhakam has done a lot in promoting awareness in the promotion and protection of human rights and helping to ensure a life of dignity for all regardless of gender, status, ethnicity, religion and political affiliation. We still have much to do.

In this connection we derive some consolation from the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of US President Roosevelt, the Chairperson of the drafting committee of the Declaration of Human Right and I quote, “Promoting respect for human rights is a fulfilling – but never fulfilled -- obligation.”

I feel very privileged to have the opportunity of speaking this morning at this conference which is dedicated to addressing human rights issues in Malaysia. I do hope that all of you will have a substantive and productive discussion -- for human rights, justice and happiness of the people. I wish you all the best and a successful and fruitful conference.

Thank you.

Barisan 7 Pakatan 5 - Rocky's Bru

Cow head dozen. Did you say that the S23 cow-head protest, which saw 12 people aged 31-67 yrs charged in court yesterday, was the political game of one party? Well, now you know you were an idiot because the 12, who have been charged for sedition as well as illegal assembly, are members of parties from both BN and PR.

Find out here how many of them are your comrades.

Related article: Sedition charge unfair, says lawyer.

Muslims can no longer eat in Indian restaurants????

Posted by cryingvoices,

Couldnt help feeling this angry today. I know at my age, I am supposed to be mellowing out, looking forward to a nice chilled day and now what? I find myself with the same amount of righteous anger as I had when I was 16 - going through puberty and finding the world most unfair that my mum wouldn’t allow me to have my first pair of cargo pants!

I was sitting in the banana leaf shop this morning having a roti and a coffee when a group of JAWI officers entered the premises, 10 officers to be exact, into this little shop. They spent a good 20 minutes going through the place (and it is a small place!) and finally one officer writes out a writ and gives it to the cashier. They then left.

Curious, I asked the cashier what that was all about and he replied that they were not allowed to have their little altars and pictures of their deities in their shop "because otherwise, Muslims cannot come into their shops".

What utter nonsense! Are we still living in the Malaysia that is so "famed" for its "religious tolerance"?? The shop is not a mamak shop. It is an Indian Banana leaf shop. Why would it be surprising that they should have signs of their religious beliefs in their own space? I didn’t think that sort of thing was illegal (please correct me if I am wrong). What is wrong with this picture? Will it come down to the point when my Muslim friends should not visit my home just because I have a cross or a Chinese altar there? PLEASE!

Better yet, I discovered as I was leaving , that the JAWI personnel had targetted the other 3 banana leaf shops along that row of old shops (near the vets office - off Jalan Maarof). There were at least 4 nos of vans for the officers, ALL double parked on the main road and causing an inconvenience to the other road users.

Is there a separate set of laws that govern these people? Notwithstanding the fact that they are trampling all over the definition of religious tolerance in this country, they also flaunt the general laws of the land. This makes me really angry and sad about the state of our country.

I now find it difficult to speak up for Malaysia when there are arguments comparing Malaysia to other countries. It is sad that we can have the once world tallest building and still think like we came out of the jungle yesterday.

Skin whiteners labeled racist

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Cosmetic adverts in Asia are targeting men with blunt campaigns aimed at skin color that one lawmaker labels racist.

Nivea's skin whitener aimed at Asian men.

Nivea's skin whitener aimed at Asian men.

A still from a commercial for Emani's skin whitener.

A still from a commercial for Emani's skin whitener.

In one TV commercial, two men, one with dark skin, the other with light skin; stand on a balcony overlooking a neighborhood. The dark skin guy turns to his friend and says in Hindi, "I am unlucky because of my face." His light skin friend replies, "Not because of your face, because of the color of your face."

Suddenly the light skin guy throws his friend a cream. It's a whitening cream.

It is one of several television commercials aimed at men in Pakistan and India. In the end the darker skin actor is shown several shades lighter and he gets the girl he was after. Most of the ads end up that way.

The commercials are sending a not so subtle message to men in Asia. Get whiter skin and you'll get the girl and the job of your dreams or at the very least you'll be noticed.

"We always have a complex towards a white skin, towards foreign skin or foreign hair." Jawed Habib says. Video Watch how skin whitening ads send a harsh message »

Habib should know, he owns a chain of 140 salons located in India and across the world. "We Indian people, we Asian people are more darker so we want to look more fair."

Skin whiteners were once targeted only to women. Now the products are a hot commodity for men.

Many of the brands being advertised for men are well known around the world including Nivea and Garnier.

A marketing study found sales for skin whitening creams have jumped more than 100 percent in rural India and sales for male grooming products are increasing 20 percent annually.

Hindustan Unilever, one of the largest consumer products companies in India, noted in recent annual reports that "skin lightening continues to be a major area of emphasis" for its skin care division.

And Emami Ltd., the company which produces "Fair and Handsome," sent CNN an email saying: "Fair and Handsome is a market leader with almost 70 percent market share in India and doing extremely well in Gulf countries and the Middle East as well."

But in a country where most people have brown skin, the message being sent to men and women has some people outraged.

"Basically if you need a job you have to have white skin. If you want a good partner, a companion you need white skin and you always seem to get it once you've used the fairness cream. Basically I think it's completely racist and highly objectionable," says Brinda Karat.

Karat is a member of India's Parliament who has made formal complaints about the advertisements to Indian authorities. She says they ads are simply playing on a social stigma that already exists in India.

To get a good look at the pervasiveness of the stigma attached to dark skin in India all you have to do is look at the want ads for Brides and Grooms in the newspaper.

Arranged marriages are still commonplace in India and the advertisements for brides and grooms often list physical attributes of the person being sought. Many of the ads list "fair" as one of the wanted physical characteristics.

"I mean at a time when we're talking about talents and skills, and the need for the accessibility to that to develop our potential; what does it do to dark persons' self esteem? Karat says. "I think it should be stopped."

But the product makers say they are simply giving the public what it wants and a few Indian consumers we spoke with agreed.

Deepak Rajput said: "Everybody wants to look handsome and beautiful, why not me?"

Salon owner Jawed Habib says he will accommodate if that is what the customer wants but he doesn't push the skin whitening products.

"Why do you even think about it?" He says: "Let's accept the way we

Mexican plane hijacked in Cancun

An AeroMexico passenger jet has been hijacked in the Mexican resort of Cancun and flown to Mexico City's international airport, officials say.

Passengers were seen leaving the plane after it landed at the airport on Wednesday, but the crew remained aboard.

Mexican radio reported the aircraft was carrying 104 passengers.

Franc Contreras, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Mexico, said: "There are three men on board allegedly carrying bombs according to our sources."

"They are demanding political asylum in Mexico. We are told that the president is making his way quickly to the airport."

Television images showed Mexican security forces arriving in lorries at Mexico City airport, where flights were suspended.

Local newspaper websites said the men had seized control of the Boeing 737 aeroplane earlier in the day and threatened to blow it up unless they were allowed to speak to Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president.

El Universal daily said the men had not been able to get inside the plane's cockpit.

MACC challenges coroner's decision on witness

'Nobody can tell us what to do'

Six charged with sedition over cow-head protest

Tak perlu berunding dengan Umno - Nik Aziz

12 charged over cow-head protest - Malaysiakini

Twelve people were today charged for their role in the 'cow-head' protest at the Selangor state secretariat on Aug 28.
Of the 12, six were charged under the Sedition Act for allegedly causing racial tensions by displaying and stepping on a cow's head during the protest.

These six also faced a second charge of illegal assembly with the remaining six.

The first six were charged under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act, or alternatively under Section 298 of the Penal Code.

The six defendants claimed trial before Sessions judge Hasbi Hasan.

They were Ibrahim Sabri, 42, Ahmad Mahayuddin Abd Manaf, 36, Eyzva Ezhar Ramly, 35, Mohd Azmir Mohd Zain, 35, Ahmad Suhairy Zakaria, 39 and Mohd Hilmi Ni, 40.

The first two were charged with stepping on the cow's head, the third for bringing the animal's head while the remaining three for both bringing and stepping the cow's head.

They were charged with committing the offences at about 2.25pm on Aug 28, and face a maximum fine of RM5,000 or up to three years in jail or both upon conviction under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Wounding the feelings of Hindus

They also face an alternative charge of wounding the feelings of Hindus by bringing the cow's head and stepping on it.

They pleaded not guilty to the charge under Section 298 of the Penal Code which carries up to a year's jail, a fine, of both.

Ahmad Mahayuddin and Ibrahim are the chairperson and the deputy of Section 23 residents' committee. Ahmad Mahayuddin is also the Section 23 Shah Alam Umno branch chief.

They were part of a larger group of people who took part in the protest against the Selangor government's decision to relocate a 150-year-old temple from Section 19 to their neighbourhood.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar asked for bail to be set at RM15,000 each while their lawyers Salehuddin Saidin and Afifudin Ahmad Hafifi wanted it reduced to RM500 each.

Salehuddin said that the amount quoted by the deputy public prosecutor was too high and would be a burden to all the accused.

He also said that his clients had given their cooperation to the police and that they had no intention of wounding the religion of others.

Justice Haslin then set bail at RM4,000 each with a guarantor. She also fixed Oct 21 to mention the case for trial.

The second charge

Later, these six and six others were charged with illegal assembly under Section 27(5)(a) of the Police Act at the Shah Alam Magistrate's Court.

All of the claimed trial before magistrate Norkamilah Aziz.

The six who faced sedition trial was granted bail at RM300 each while bail for six others was set at RM500 each.

The six who faced just the illegal assembly charge were Jainudin @ Zainudin Md Yusuff, 67, Mohd Jurit Ramli, 39, Mohammad Nordin Zakaria, 63, Jamil Mohamad Isa, 40, Rahimuddin Md Harun, 39 and Azhari Shaari, 39.

They are charged under Section 27(5)(a) of the Police Act 1967 and face a fine of between RM2,000 and RM10,000 or a year's jail upon conviction. The case will also be mentioned on Oct 21.

Meanwhile some 20 residents of Section 23 in Shah Alam were at the court to show support for the 12.

"We are not guilty (of taking part in the protest). We are all united on this matter," a resident told reporters.

The protest, during which two people had carried a cow's head and uttered provocative remarks - sparked outrage among Malaysians, who called for action be taken.

After the proceedings, the residents said the bail set for the defendants is too high. They said they will launch a donation drive to raise funds.

'New site acceptable'

In a related development, a representative of the residents said they have accepted the new relocation site - also in Section 23 - for the temple.

The new site was identified by the state government on Monday after fierce protests by the residents.

The new site is believed to be further away from the houses.

The representative also hoped the temple committee will agree to the new site.

"If the matter is solved, then we hope the Indian brothers who lodged police reports against us will withdraw their reports and this case will be dropped," added the representative.

PENERANGAN ISU PEMINDAHAN KUIL SRI MARIAMMAN SEKSYEN 19 SHAH ALAM

Salam Sejahtera.

SHAH ALAM: Kerajaan Negeri Selangor telah mengeluarkan risalah berhubung isu pemindahan Kuil Sri Mariamman di Seksyen 19 ke Seksyen 23 Shah Alam. Risalah ini diterbitkan adalah bertujuan memberi maklumat yang tepat mengenai isu berhubung pemindahan kuil ini. Ianya boleh dimuat turun melalui laman web www.selangorkini.com.my/my. ( ATAU KLIK SINI)

Kerajaan negeri berharap dengan adanya maklumat yang tepat dan telus mengenai isu pemindahan kuil ini akan memberi gambaran yang sebenar berhubung Permidahan Kuil Sri Mariamman.

Jika ada sebarang pertanyaan sila hubungi Setiausaha Akhbar Arfa’eza A. Aziz di talian 03-5544 7452. Terima kasih.


Harap Maklum