Share |

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First rocky planet found outside solar system

(CNN) -- Scientists have discovered the first confirmed Earthlike planet outside our solar system, they announced Wednesday.

An artist's impression shows what the planet may look like in close orbit with its sun.

An artist's impression shows what the planet may look like in close orbit with its sun.

"This is the first confirmed rocky planet in another system," astronomer Artie Hatzes told CNN, contrasting the solid planet with gaseous ones like Jupiter and Saturn.

But "Earthlike" is a relative term.

The planet's composition may be similar to that of Earth, but its environment is more like a vision of hell, the project's lead astronomer said.

It is so close to the star it orbits "that the place may well look like Dante's Inferno, with a probable temperature on its 'day face' above 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius) and minus-328 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 200 degrees Celsius) on its night face," said Didier Queloz of Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, the project leader.

Hatzes, explaining that one side of the body is always facing the star and the other side always faces away, said the side "facing the sun is probably molten. The other side could actually have ice" if there is water on the planet.

"We think it has no atmosphere to redistribute the heat," Hatzes told CNN from Barcelona, Spain, where he is attending the "Pathways Towards Habitable Planets" conference.

The astronomers were stunned to find a rocky planet so near a star, he said.

"We would have never dreamed you would find a rocky planet so close," he said. "Its year is less than one of our days."

The planet, known as CoRoT-7b, was detected early last year, but it took months of observation to determine that it had a composition roughly similar to Earth's, the European Southern Observatory said in a statement.

Astronomers were able to measure the dimensions of the planet by watching as it passed in front of the star it orbits, then carried out 70 hours of study of the planet's effect on its star to infer its weight.

With that information in hand, they were able to calculate its density -- and were thrilled with what they found, Hatzes said.

"What makes this exciting is you compare the density of this planet to the planets in our solar system, it's only Mercury, Venus and Earth that are similar," Hatzes, of the Thuringer observatory in Germany, told CNN.

They were helped by the fact that CoRoT-7b is relatively close to Earth -- about 500 light years away, in the constellation of Monoceros, the Unicorn.

"It's in our solar neighborhood," Hatzes said. "The thing that made it easier is it's relatively close, so it's relatively bright. If this star was much much farther away, we wouldn't have been able to do these measurements."

At about five times Earth's mass (though not quite twice as large in circumference), it is the smallest planet ever spotted outside our solar system.

It also has the fastest orbit. The planet whizzes around its star more than seven times faster than Earth moves, and is 23 times closer to the star than Mercury is to our sun.

The planet was first detected early in 2008 by the CoRoT satellite, a 30-centimeter space telescope launched by the European Space Agency in December 2006, specifically with the mission of detecting rocky planets outside the solar system.

At least 42 scientists at 17 institutions on three continents worked on the project.

They are publishing their findings in a special issue of the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal on October 22 as "The CoRoT-7 Planetary System: Two Orbiting Super-Earths."

Another Kg Buah Pala in the making - Malaysiakini

'Save this kampung by all means as long as it does not need forking out millions of ringgits. Do not repeat the same mistake as Kampung Buah Pala!'

Save Tanjong Tokong village

Raja Rajan: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has yet to produce a blueprint on the preservation and conservation of traditional villages of different ethnic groups in Penang. But he will surely have three major reasons for it - Umno, Koh Tsu Koon and BN. After 17 months, Lim blames all problems on his predecessor, the previous BN government and lack of federal funds. Enough is enough. Stop talking bull and start delivering.

Kgen: This is a problem of developers versus the residents with the state government caught in between. The pressure of development is great but the state government cannot go wholly to one side or the other. It's a balancing act but no matter what is decided there will be unhappy people.

However, Pakatan Rakyat is being slammed much more than BN although the Gerakan government was never known to take the side of residents over developers. Would a BN govt preserve Tanjung Tokong and Kampung Buah Pala when they sold the land to developers in the first place?

Unfortunately for some commentators their agenda is not social justice, it's political with race used as a weapon. Who excels in race-based politics? I'm beginning to see the picture here.

Myop101: Since there are so many urbanisation problems in Penang, why doesn't the state government set up a special fund? All Penangites and Malaysians who care for the folks like Kampung Buah Pala and Tanjung Tokong should chip in.

Louis: I am eagerly waiting for Lim to come up with a solution to this problem. Save this kampung by all means as long as it does not need forking out millions of ringgits. Do not repeat the same mistake as Kampung Buah Pala!

Kgen: This is yet another Gerakan-originated problem laid at Lim Guan Eng's doorstep. Lim's handling of Tanjung Tokong will be the test whether charges of racism hurled at him over Kampung Buah Pala are justified or not.

Accusing Lim of siding with developers is one thing but racism is another. If Lim shows no racial bias, will those who emotionally accuse him of marginalising Indians and urging Indian not to vote for Pakatan apologise?

Vijaya Kumar: Will Lim at least save this village? Or will he sell it to the developer again? PKR must be punished in the Bagan Pinang by-election for not fulfilling their election promise.

P Dev Anand Pillai: Why not just bring back the BN government? There are about 40 seats in the Penang Assembly. Give the seats to them and let them solve all the problems of the people of Penang. They have been running the state government since independence and the Penangites just loved them so why wait?

Call for a referendum and throw the DAP government out and install the BN in again and this time don't waste time with some non-Malay leader, just put an Umno leader as the chief minister and get all your woes in Penang solved.

One is sure the civil servants will cherish such a moment and who knows the folks of Kg Buah Pala might get help to resurrect their village.

Avvai: The fault is always the federal government's. It's not fair blaming the 18-month-old Pakatan state government for Kampung Buah Pala and Tanjung Tokong. The main culprit who sold away these villagers' homes is the former BN-led state government. Now he silently sits in the cabinet and monitors KPI.

The prime minister did not come in to help the Kampung Buah Pala residents despite their cries. MIC promised to buy the land for them too. What happened to all the BN promises over a decade? Oh Malaysians! Get your facts right. Ultimately all politicians are the same but don't blame the pot for being as black as the kettle too.

Indian squatter families' 60 year-old land title problem - Malaysiakini

For more than half a century 120 Indian families have been waiting for titles to the land they have been squatting on in Buntong and promises made by various heads of the state government have all come to naught so far.

In 1999, the then Mentri Besar Ramli Ngeh Talib had promised to give the squatters alternative land lots but that did not materialise .

Again in 2008, his successor former Mentri Besar Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali promised the squatters another piece of land as the plots pledged to them had been switched to the Gamuda double-track railway project.

nizar jamaluddin win court case at duta court house 110509When Pakatan Rakyat took over the state government in March last year, Mentri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin (right) had tried to solve their problem when they approached him in August but his government collapsed the following month.

These families are the third generation of the council's former employees given permission to build their own homes on the vacant land upon their retirement.

The land lies behind the council's labour-lines they had been living in before their retirement and the village that had sprung up there since is named Rumah Papan DBI.

White knight to the rescue

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) deputy secretary general Mohana Rani Rasiah has taken up their cause and the village committee has sent a memorandum to current Mentri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir urging him to solve this long standing land title problem.

The memorandum was received by Zambry's personal secretary who promised to look into the matter within two weeks.

"Zambry had been quoted in the media on Aug 20, stating that land titles will be given to squatters who hadresided on government land for more than 10 years. So we hope that Zambry can solve this 60 year- old problem," said Rani.

NONEThe council had intended to develop this slum area in the 1990's without allocating an alternative site to their former employees and had send inbulldozers to demolish the former council's vacant labour-lines, he said.

Fearing that the council may encroach into their village which lies just next to the labour lines, the villagers won a court order in 1998, to stop the demolition, he added

Damper on development

The court order stops the destruction of the houses until their asbestos roofs - considered a health hazard - are removed without endangering the villagers' lives.This court order has put a damper to the council's plans to redevelop the area .

According to Rani, in 2006 the council and the villagers reached an agreement villagers, whereby the former would appoint its own developer for joint development to be undertaken.

The agreement also included a clause that all squatter land issues had to be addressed first.

In May 2007, the developer agreed to build RM16,000 houses for sale to the villagers.

However, when there was a change in city mayor, new office bearer cancelled the agreement as well as reneged on the promise to allocate housing lots to the villagers.

Instead, the council planned to allow Mydin Hypermarket develop the whole area, Rani claimed.

But a spanner in the works in form of the Pakatan Rakyat taking control of the state in the last elections put paid to that and the hypermarket plan was put on hold.

Now, with the BN in charge, the price of the promised squatter houses has risen from RM16,000 to RM80,000 a unit with a discount of RM15,000 for those who had rejected the offer for they just could not afford pay such a high price for them.

After waiting for 60 years, the villagers are prepared to be patient for another two weeks in the hope of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel at long last.

‘No one up to Gandhi’s mark’

What has Nalla done for Indians, asks former aide

Malaysian Indian United Party president KS Nallakaruppan has come under fire from his former right-hand man over his protracted attacks against PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Former MIUP vice-president P O Krishnasamy said attacking Anwar appears to be Nallakaruppan’s raison d’etre and not the betterment of the Indian community.

Krishnasamy , who has since rejoined PKR, challenged Nallakaruppan to instead explain what MIUP has done for the Indian community since its inception and to reveal its future plans.

“Where was Nalla when the cow-head issue was humiliating the Indians?” asked Krishnasamy in a statement today.

Krishnasamy was responding to Nallakaruppan’s recent interview with Tamil Nesan on Monday where he was quoted as saying that Anwar hoodwinked the Indian community.

Nallakaruppan then said that Anwar was emulating Gandhi but adds that he was not even worth the dust on Gandhi’s feet.

Krishnasamy claimed that Nallakaruppan not only failed to contribute to the Indian community, he had also failed to draw up the MIUP’s party constitution since the party was established in 2007.

‘No one up to Gandhi’s mark’

Similarly, PKR supreme council member S Manikavasagam urged Nallakaruppan not to pursue personal attacks on Anwar and concentrate on uplifting the welfare of the Indian community.

“He is now with Barisan Nasional and has connections. Many Indians are still without birth certificates and identity cards. He can use his links to help resolve them.

“There is no need to resort to personal attacks. He can help instead of just talk. We don’t need another (MIC president S) Samy Vellu. Be sincere because that is what the grassroots want,” said Manikavasagam, who is also Kapar MP.

Manikavasagam also took the MIC-owned Tamil Nesan for allowing Gandhi to be used as a political issue.

“I’m disappointed with the paper. Nobody is up to the Gandhi’s mark, including Samy Vellu,” said Manikavasagam during a press conference in Klang today.

Bagan Pinang

In another development, Manikavasagam said he would be urging Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders and followers to support the PAS candidate during the upcoming Bagan Pinang by-election.

He also pledged to be based in the constituency throughout the campaign period to ensure PAS snags the majority of the sizeable Indian votes come voting day on Oct 11.

“The Indian voters forms almost 20 percent of the voters. We have to campaign hard to ensure they support the PAS and Pakatan Rakyat candidate,” he said.

He adds that he would be aided by other MPs and local councillors from across the country in door-to-door campaigns, leafleting and distributing of VCDs.

Asked on his thoughts about the outcome of the MIC party elections, Manikavasagam sarcastically congratulated the party and Samy Vellu.

“As long as Samy is in MIC, it is good for us. We are okay even if he become MIC president for life,” said the staunch MIC critic.

Nalla responses to detractors

Nallakaruppan later responded to the criticisms levelled against him by stating that Krishnasamy was “not exactly telling the truth on several issues pertaining to his own involvement in MIUP”.

Maybe he is trying to show that he is loyal to Anwar and PKR but the truth is something totally different. I am sure the PKR leaders are not foolish to simply believe him on whatever he says,” he told Malaysiakini.

He also said that his party had been “working on the grassroots level without making any fuss”.

“We are not like Anwar who claims that he can do this and that but end up with nothing at the end,” he added.

He also said that his party was doing “much better now after Krishnasamy left us”.

“Let him make whatever accusations he wants to. He is someone who wants to impress his party bosses with his new found loyalty but I am sure everyone knows what sort of person he is,” he added.

source: Malaysiakini

2,800 Indians hold the key

By Patrick Sennyahnews

PORT DICKSON: The outcome of the Bagan Pinang state by-election could be determined by the 2,800 Indian voters in the constituency.

While MIC remains confident that it can garner the support of Indian voters, sentiments of the community may be influenced by the position taken by the Human Rights Party and banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

It is learnt that leaders and supporters of HRP and Hindraf will meet this weekend to decide on their official stand for the by-election on Oct 11.

Earlier, there were rumours that the newly-formed HRP may field a candidate to contest as an independent.

However, according to sources from HRP and Hindraf, neither of the movements would do this.

A source said: "We will support neither BN (Barisan Nasioal) nor PR (Pakatan Rakyat). We cannot support BN, while at the same time we cannot rally behind the PR coalition either.

"We cannot support PR for two reasons: the Kampung Lorong Buah Pala controversy where Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng let the Indians down, and also the Selangor government's poor handling of the Shah Alam Hindu temple relocation."

There are 14,192 voters in the constituency, with Malays making up 64 per cent, Chinese 10.8 per cent, Indians 20.4 per cent and other races, 4.9 per cent. There are 5,171 postal votes.

The seat fell vacant following the death of Umno's Azman Mohammad Noor, 55, on Sept 4.

Bagan Pinang is one of five state constituencies under the Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituency held by Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the party's survey found that up to 2,000 of Indian voters were staying in nearby areas, with about 40 per cent living and working in Seremban, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru.

"Our task will be to bring in the 2,000 Indian voters on polling day," he said, adding that MIC would mobilise its election machinery.

Samy Vellu, accompanied by newly-elected MIC vice-president and Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, state MIC chief Datuk T. Rajagopalu and state executive councillor V.S. Mogan visited four Indian-majority areas in Ladang Seliau, Ladang Artherthen, Ladang Sua Betong and Ladang Bradwall on Tuesday.

He said MIC would form three teams, each headed by Dr Subramaniam and two other newly-elected MIC vice-presidents, Datuk S.K. Devamany who is also deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department, and Datuk M. Saravanan, the federal territories deputy minister.

They would mobilise hundreds of MIC youth and Wanita members to help the families of voters by staying with them, he said. "I will oversee the running of the entire team to ensure a victory for BN."

RPK Speaks Part 2 - Insulting Islam? Please!


NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

OR WATCH THE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4f64Jkin80

EARLIER VIDEO:

Altantuya Statutory Declaration

In the face of defeat, Pakatan kicks off Bagan Pinang campaign

By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider

PORT DICKSON, Sept 17 — The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) last night launched its campaign for the Bagan Pinang by-election with its leaders expressing confidence that the coalition will win the decisive postal votes should polling in army camps and police stations be conducted fairly.

There are 13,664 voters in the state constituency, with postal voters making up more than one-third or some 4,600 of the electorate.

The Bagan Pinang vote is widely expected to end PR’s winning streak in all by-elections in the peninsula since last year's general election due to the high number of postal voters which are traditionally considered a reliable vote bank for the Barisan Nasional (BN).

Anwar at last night’s ceramah. — Pictures by Choo Choy May

“I have a lot of friends in the army, I know where they stand,” Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told a rally in the coastal village of Kampung Si Rusa near here last night.

The opposition leader reiterated PR’s stand for greater transparency in the postal voting process, traditionally conducted without the presence of polling agents from political parties.

“They want to vote Umno or they want to support us it’s their right; the Election Commission should defend this right,” said Anwar to some 1,000 villagers.

Negri Sembilan PAS chief Zulkefli Omar said he was confident the party would obtain more postal votes this time to win the ninth by-election since last year’s general election.

“On March 8 we managed to get 1,189 or 25 per cent of the postal votes; this time we are going to win the postal votes,” said Zulkefli, who is one of the potential candidates for the by-election.

The federal opposition is expected to face highly influential former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, making the fight even tougher.

Despite his tainted past, PR leaders did not touch on Isa’s suspension from Umno for vote buying, suggesting the coalition’s acknowledgement of the Teluk Kemang Umno chief’s strong grip on the constituency.

“Whether he becomes the candidate or not is not an issue for us,” said Anwar, repeating his stand that PR will only attack BN on policy matters.

A section of the crowd at last night’s ceramah.

Nomination for the Bagan Pinang by-election will be on Oct 3 while polling has been set for Oct 11.

The by-election was called following the death on Sept 4 of Umno’s Azman Mohammad Noor, who defeated PAS’s Ramli Ismail by some 2,000 votes last year.

Bagan Pinang is an Umno stronghold situated within the Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituency represented by PKR’s Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas.

Apart from Bagan Pinang, Umno also won the neighbouring Linggi state seat in last year’s election, while PR controls three other state seats in Teluk Kemang — Chuah (PKR), Lukut (DAP) and Port Dickson (PKR).

Police get tough on street crime

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Bright yellow road signs — “Beware of snatch thief” — have sprung up all over Bangsar Baru, the upmarket neighbourhood here populated by well-heeled expatriates.

As many people know, Bangsar Baru is as popular with snatch thieves as it is with the wealthy.

It's not just road signs that have made an appearance on the streets. About 1,000 additional policemen have also been put on street patrol in Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs, and in Penang and Johor Baru.

The country has swung into an anti-crime drive after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak promised at the end of his first 100 days in office in July to reduce street crime by 20 per cent by the end of next year.

Crime is a perpetual worry of Malaysians, with repeated surveys showing public safety to be among their top concerns.

Many people now hire private security guards for their neighbourhoods, or choose to live in gated communities monitored by closed-circuit cameras and patrolled by guards.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Mohd Sabtu Osman told The Straits Times that more policemen are patrolling the city to deter wayside robberies.

“There will be more sent out for the Hari Raya holidays next week,” he said.

He said the focus was on 11 hot spots in the city, including Cheras, Sentul and the Bukit Bintang tourist zone.

The additional men came from the paramilitary wing of the police force, the Civil Defence corps and a grassroots voluntary organisation, Rela.

The beefed-up patrols began a month ago.

Mohd Sabtu said there had been a slight 2.5 per cent drop in street crime in these areas. Street crime comprises snatch theft and armed and unarmed wayside robberies.

“But it's still too early to say how effective it has been,” he said.

Street crime comprised 17 per cent of the overall crime index last year, with 72 per cent of such crimes occurring in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor.

Public safety was a major issue in the 2008 elections, when many urban Malaysians vented their anger at the ballot box.

As more than 60 per cent of Malaysians now live in towns, this will remain a significant issue for the government.

The last survey carried out by the independent Merdeka Centre in June showed that crime was the second-biggest concern for Malaysians, after the economy. — The Straits Times

Bagan Pinang: 2,800 Indians hold the key

By Patrick Sennyahnews@nst.com.my

PORT DICKSON: The outcome of the Bagan Pinang state by-election could be determined by the 2,800 Indian voters in the constituency.

While MIC remains confident that it can garner the support of Indian voters, sentiments of the community may be influenced by the position taken by the Human Rights Party and banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).

It is learnt that leaders and supporters of HRP and Hindraf will meet this weekend to decide on their official stand for the by-election on Oct 11.

Earlier, there were rumours that the newly-formed HRP may field a candidate to contest as an independent.


However, according to sources from HRP and Hindraf, neither of the movements would do this.

A source said: "We will support neither BN (Barisan Nasioal) nor PR (Pakatan Rakyat). We cannot support BN, while at the same time we cannot rally behind the PR coalition either.

"We cannot support PR for two reasons: the Kampung Lorong Buah Pala controversy where Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng let the Indians down, and also the Selangor government's poor handling of the Shah Alam Hindu temple relocation."

There are 14,192 voters in the constituency, with Malays making up 64 per cent, Chinese 10.8 per cent, Indians 20.4 per cent and other races, 4.9 per cent. There are 5,171 postal votes.

The seat fell vacant following the death of Umno's Azman Mohammad Noor, 55, on Sept 4.

Bagan Pinang is one of five state constituencies under the Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituency held by Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the party's survey found that up to 2,000 of Indian voters were staying in nearby areas, with about 40 per cent living and working in Seremban, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru.

"Our task will be to bring in the 2,000 Indian voters on polling day," he said, adding that MIC would mobilise its election machinery.

Samy Vellu, accompanied by newly-elected MIC vice-president and Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, state MIC chief Datuk T. Rajagopalu and state executive councillor V.S. Mogan visited four Indian-majority areas in Ladang Seliau, Ladang Artherthen, Ladang Sua Betong and Ladang Bradwall on Tuesday.


He said MIC would form three teams, each headed by Dr Subramaniam and two other newly-elected MIC vice-presidents, Datuk S.K. Devamany who is also deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department, and Datuk M. Saravanan, the federal territories deputy minister.

What does Umno value?

By Ding Jo-Ann
thenutgraph.com

THE disproportionate response to the recent "slipper garland" proposal by an MIC delegate highlights once again what the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government really values above all else.

Umno politicians have been falling over themselves in the rush to defend Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad against an MIC delegate's suggestion to garland the former premier's portrait with slippers.

Tan Sri Muhiyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir were quick to express their disappointment, shock and hurt at M Sukumaran's "insolent, rude and extreme" remarks made during the recent MIC general assembly. Cheras Umno division chief Datuk Syed Ali Alhabshee stated that insulting Mahathir was akin to insulting all Malay Malaysians, although how that is true was not established.

Utusan Malaysia, which reported on these leaders' responses, also made it clear its indignation. Jangan biadab, screamed its front page on 15 Sept 2009. MIC perlu minta maaf, blared another headline on their four-page coverage of the issue. Four-page? Yes, that's right.

Amidst the clamour, Sukumaran was swiftly suspended on 15 Sept 2009 by MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu, who himself had earlier criticised Dr Mahathir albeit without referring to any footwear. A heartfelt and humble apology was then given by the disgraced delegate, just two days after he was catapulted into the limelight by his offending statement.

"I regret having uttered those words ('slipper garland'). I regretted it very much. I sincerely hope Mahathir will accept my apology," Malaysiakini reported him as saying. "I was carried away emotionally when I made the remark which had seriously hurt the feelings of Mahathir," he added.

Slippers vs cow-head and threats

Now, let's compare Hishammuddin's response to the slipper suggestion with his response towards the cow-head protesters who threatened violence if a Hindu temple was relocated to their neighbourhood in Shah Alam.

"I view this suggestion as extreme and disrespectful. We must never forget our values and culture of respecting others. If we want others to respect us, then we must accord respect to others," The Star quoted the home minister as saying on 15 Sept 2009.

One wishes Hishammuddin was referring to the cow-head protesters, but he wasn't. He was chastising the MIC delegate for his slipper suggestion.

In fact, Hishammuddin had, several days earlier, welcomed the cow-head protesters into his office and defended them in a press conference, a video report of which the government now wants Malaysiakini to remove from its news site.

Embarrassing doesn't even describe the value judgement that an Umno vice-president and cabinet member has displayed in his responses towards these two issues — one a merely rude suggestion, and the other a serious show of intolerance and threat of violence.

And even though Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin did condemn the protesters, no Umno leader has called for the cow-head protesters to apologise to all Malaysians for their threat of violence. Selangor Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo even explained, on behalf of the protesters, that the cow head was actually meant to show how "stupid" the Pakatan Rakyat state government was in its actions.

Slippers vs Penan

Umno leaders have also been alarmingly silent about the revelation by a government-appointed task force of the sexual abuse of Penan women and girls in Sarawak by timber company workers.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said at a buka puasa event on 10 Sept 2009 in Kuala Lumpur: "...[T]he government will never condone this. We cannot condone even though they live far away from the capital, that's why the government authorised the report."

But keeping the report under wraps for nearly a year would make anyone wonder if the Umno-led government really cared.

In the meantime, now that the report's findings have been made public, neither the prime minister nor any other senior Umno leader has voiced concern for the Penan. Shahrizat's ministry has also failed to convince citizens that concrete and immediate steps are being taken to protect the Penan and ensure their welfare and safety.


Young Penan woman (Pic courtesy of Sofiyah Israa @ Flickr)

Whose interest?

Since the March 2008 general election, calls have been growing for the BN to rethink the race-based politics that has kept them in government for more than 50 years. In the past, Umno has let its partners in the coalition, such as the MCA and MIC, speak up on Chinese and Indian Malaysian issues. This formula is not just lacking in terms of ensuring national unity; it's myopic in protecting the legitimate rights of all Malaysians.

The responses of Umno leaders to recent events prove just as much. They tell us that Umno's main priority is in ensuring that particular interests are protected. These interests, however, don't include those of minority communities such as non-Muslims and the indigenous people.

Additionally, there are many other ethnic groups that are not directly represented in the BN formula such as the Penan. There is no Penan-based party in the BN. With the current model, who then is supposed to speak up for them? Should the Penan have to set up a National Penan Party and win seats in Parliament before their plight is taken seriously by the government?

A government for all Malaysians

In the run-up to the Umno Youth chief contest earlier this year, all three candidates — Mukhriz, Khir Toyo and Khairy — stated that Umno should meet the needs of all races.

For this to happen, the principles of fairness, inclusiveness and justice should be applied in addressing issues, regardless of race. In the past two weeks, however, we have seen from Umno leaders' responses to several issues that these principles are not what drive the Umno leadership. If nothing else, their responses have instead called to question how far a race-based party can claim to speak up for and protect all Malaysians.

'Anak Bangsa Malaysia' initiative launched

Rakyat@work reports on the launch of the Anak Bangsa Malaysia initiative in KL while over in Penang, a smaller group met up to express solidarity:

The launch in KL – Photos by Rakyat@work

pg1
The Penang solidary gathering at a nasi kandar restaurant – Photo by Lucia Lai

Just last month, we celebrated Merdeka Day and yesterday we had Malaysia day. Really, it was by far the most subdued and lifeless ‘celebration’ I have ever experienced. Other than uncertainty in our economic challenges, we have also inherited a degenerative political disease which inflicts daily insults and threats to the rakyat. A sense of ‘hopelessness’ is slowly creeping inside our immune system. It is like getting worse day by day. Everything seems to be going backwards.

So, what’s new? Fortunately, a small flame was flickering in the darkness: the launch of a new Anak Bangsa Malaysia initiative.

Come shine or rain, the launch had to go on. In the heart of the city, somewhere in KL, a group of the rakyat – ages ranging from 15 upwards – gathered at Rumah Anak Bangsa Malaysia to witness the birth of the ‘true’ Malaysian. Last night, they were all called Anak Bangsa Malaysia: One race! No need for dominance over anyone, no one is superior, no one inferior … respecting and cherishing each other; companionship was the order of the night.

Despite the sporadic rain and traffic jams, more than 150 people turned up at the Anak Bangsa Malaysia house. And all you could hear and see were people hugging, shaking hands, laughing, cheering, and smiling as if it was a gathering of long-lost brothers and sisters. Those who are new to this group of Anak Bangsa Malaysians are often taken aback, surprised, amused, perhaps shocked. Usually they are left wondering: how is it possible for people of different races to gel together so wonderfully.

Food, music, and a couple of prominent individuals were also present. It was indeed a wonderful and refreshing sight to behold. Please do drop by Haris Ibrahim blog, if you want to know more and one thing is certain, there is still hope for this nation and it is of paramount importance that you make a stand for yourself and be counted before others instruct you to stand or sit.

Anak Bangsa Malaysia provides us an avenue to learn and to grow as true rakyat Malaysia and all these activities are simply to tell the government of the day that we love this nation and respect all rakyat just as much and no less than they do …

Scrutinise before we appoint

The Star (Used by permission)

CHIEF Justice Tan Sri Zaki Azmi seems to be initiating bold reforms and is raising the bar for our judiciary.

According to newspaper reports, he had even asked two High Court Judges to leave for being grossly inefficient. He is sending a clear and unmistakable signal: he means business.

Lawyers have noted improvements in the court system since Zaki took over the helm of the judiciary.

Perhaps, after so many years of lagging behind in terms of having a world class judiciary, we are finally making some progress.

Every positive step that we are taking should be celebrated.

Having said that, we must remember that we still have a long road ahead.

To begin with, there must be some serious cracks in the judicial appointment and promotion system that allowed two “grossly inefficient” High Court Judges to hold such high office.

While the Judicial Appointments Commission boasts of having eminent current and former judicial personalities, what is missing from its composition is representation from the legal profession and civil society.

Compare our judicial appointment process with that of the US. President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice Souter on the US Supreme Court.

However, before Justice Soto mayor could ascend to the Bench, she was subjected to intense and rigorous questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She was grilled on issues ranging from her poorly chosen words in public speeches to her judicial temperament on the Bench before being confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.

The function of a senate confirmation hearing is to ensure that the future Supreme Court Justice possesses the highest qualifications and irreproachable integrity and is thus suitable for the eminent office that he or she holds.

If we truly aspire to have a world class judiciary with world class judges, perhaps the appointment of our High Court Judges, Court of Appeal Judges and Federal Court Judges should include a hearing before the Judicial Appointment Commission.

Nominees for the various positions should be tested on their mastery of the law, personal integrity and professional accomplishments and contribution to the legal profession.

They must be able to stand up to the most robust scrutiny. And, the hearings should be aired live so that we can see for ourselves the quality of the nominees.

The hearings should also involve representatives from the legal profession and civil society who can pose questions to the nominees.

This will ensure that all the stakeholders of our judiciary are involved in the appointment process. Judges are the pillars of our judicial system and the people of Malaysia deserve only the most qualified to sit on the Bench.

To have a world class judiciary, our judges must be held against the maximum standard. Surely, if judges are going to sit in judgment of others for their entire professional tenure, the people have the right to judge whether they are qualified to sit on the bench in the first place.

WONG FOOK MENG, Malacca.

In The Face Of Defeat,Pakatan Kicks Off Bagan Pinang Campaign

From Malaysian Insider

By Adib Zalkapli

The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) last night launched its campaign for the Bagan Pinang by-election with its leaders expressing confidence that the coalition will win the decisive postal votes should polling in army camps and police stations be conducted fairly.

There are 13,664 voters in the state constituency, with postal voters making up more than one-third or some 4,600 of the electorate.

The Bagan Pinang vote is widely expected to end PR’s winning streak in all by-elections in the peninsula since last year’s general election due to the high number of postal voters which are traditionally considered a reliable vote bank for the Barisan Nasional (BN).

“I have a lot of friends in the army, I know where they stand,” Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told a rally in the coastal village of Kampung Si Rusa near here last night.

The opposition leader reiterated PR’s stand for greater transparency in the postal voting process, traditionally conducted without the presence of polling agents from political parties.

“They want to vote Umno or they want to support us it’s their right; the Election Commission should defend this right,” said Anwar to some 1,000 villagers.

Negri Sembilan PAS chief Zulkefli Omar said he was confident the party would obtain more postal votes this time to win the ninth by-election since last year’s general election.

“On March 8 we managed to get 1,189 or 25 per cent of the postal votes; this time we are going to win the postal votes,” said Zulkefli, who is one of the potential candidates for the by-election.

The federal opposition is expected to face highly influential former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, making the fight even tougher.

Despite his tainted past, PR leaders did not touch on Isa’s suspension from Umno for vote buying, suggesting the coalition’s acknowledgement of the Teluk Kemang Umno chief’s strong grip on the constituency.

“Whether he becomes the candidate or not is not an issue for us,” said Anwar, repeating his stand that PR will only attack BN on policy matters.

Nomination for the Bagan Pinang by-election will be on Oct 3 while polling has been set for Oct 11.

The by-election was called following the death on Sept 4 of Umno’s Azman Mohammad Noor, who defeated PAS’s Ramli Ismail by some 2,000 votes last year.

Bagan Pinang is an Umno stronghold situated within the Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituency represented by PKR’s Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas.

Apart from Bagan Pinang, Umno also won the neighbouring Linggi state seat in last year’s election, while PR controls three other state seats in Teluk Kemang — Chuah (PKR), Lukut (DAP) and Port Dickson (PKR).

KUOTA HAPUS


1. Tidaklah penting kita tahu asal-usul kuota dalam pemilihan pemimpin UMNO. Namun demikian izinkan saya cerita sedikit berkenaan latar belakangnya.

2. Pada tahun 1986 Dato (Tun) Musa Hitam, musuh ketat Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah telah berjaya pujuk Tengku bertanding jawatan Presiden UMNO. Beliau sendiri sanggup jadi timbalannya.

3. Seperti biasa bahagian-bahagian (UMNO), dalam mesyuarat telah namakan calon mereka. Hanya 20 peratus menamakan Tengku Razaleigh.

4. Tetapi dalam Mesyuarat Agong Tengku Razaleigh mendapat hampir 50 peratus daripada undi wakil-wakil yang hadir.

5. Tentang bagaimana terdapat kelainan ketara antara bahagian-bahagian dengan wakil-wakil mereka, wallahua'alam.

6. Selepas itu mahkamah telah putuskan bahawa UMNO adalah parti haram. Walaupun UMNO dapat dipulih, sebilangan ahli dan pemimpin UMNO telah berpisah daripada parti untuk menubuh parti serpihan. Ternampak jelas pertandingan untuk jawatan tertinggi boleh memecah dan melemahkan parti.

7. Majlis Tertinggi UMNO, telah bincang kemungkinan perkara ini berlaku lagi dan memutuskan bagi mengelak perwakilan menidakkan keputusan Bahagian, sesiapa yang dicalon oleh Bahagian akan dapat 10 undi bonus.

8. Malangnya apabila Dato Seri Anwar mencabar Tun Ghaffar, entah bagaimana jumlah bahagian yang mencalonkan Anwar begitu tinggi sehingga undi bonus shaja pun boleh kalahkan Ghaffar. Tun Ghaffar terpaksa tarik diri dan Anwar pun naik jadi Timbalan Presiden dan Timbalan Perdana Menteri.

9. Ada sesuatu yang tidak kena yang telah berlaku kerana undi bonus. Nampaknya ada cara untuk menguasai bahagian sehingga perwakilan kehilangan hak mengundi sama sekali. Jelas sistem bonus boleh disalahgunakan.

10. Untuk meringkaskan cerita Majlis Tertinggi UMNO memutuskan untuk mengganti bonus dengan kuota. Jika seseorang calon betul-betul layak maka dia tentu mampu mendapat pencalonan secukupnya dari Bahagian. Bagi jawatan presiden tokoh yang layak perlu mendapat 60 pencalonan oleh Bahagian. Dengan cara ini hanya calon yang buruk, termasuk Presiden yang tidak akan dapat pencalonan yang mencukupi.

11. Malangnya penguasaan parti oleh Presiden yang juga Perdana Menteri amatlah kuat. Dengan cara-cara tertentu Presiden boleh memaksa supaya hanya dia sahaja yang dicalon. Pencabarnya bukan sahaja tidak akan dapat 60 bahagian tetapi dilihat hanya bahagiannya sendiri sahaja yang mencalonnya.

12. Sekali lagi sistem ini gagal untuk membebaskan bahagian dan ahli untuk bertindak mengikut kehendak mereka yang sebenar. Justeru itu memanglah baik sistem kuota ini dihapuskan.

13. Saya berdoa selepas ini penyalahgunaan kuasa oleh Presiden akan dihapuskan dan pencabarnya akan dapat bertanding. Tetapi setakat ini belum ada keputusan tentang cara mana seseorang dapat dicalonkan.

14. Sebenarnya tidak ada sistem yang tidak cacat. Samada sesuatu sistem berkesan atau tidak bergantung kepada pengamalnya. Apabila pengamal dipelbagai peringkat mudah di suap, sistem apa pun tidak akan menghasilkan yang terbaik.

Khairy Calls For Fast Selection Of Candidate For B.Pinang By-Election

SEREMBAN, Sept 17 (Bernama) -- Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin hopes that the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Bagan Pinang state by-election will be decided quickly because it has raised too many questions among party members and the voters in the constituency.

"For me, this speculation is unhealthy. So I hope the question of the BN candidate from Umno can be decided as soon as possible," he said after breaking fast with Negeri Sembilan journalists here last night.

Asked whether Umno was in a dilemma over the choice of candidate, he said there was no dilemma because he and the leadership believed that the most important criterion was to find a candidate who could win , meaning a candidate acceptable to the voters.

"Whatever the candidate's background, if he can be accepted by the voters of Bagan Pinang, then he's the candidate that we must choose," he said.

Asked about selecting a candidate with a tainted record which could affect the BN's chances of victory, Khairy, who is also the Rembau MP, said the candidate must meet the criterion of being able to win and if it was felt that he could win, that was the candidate to support.

MCA EGM: A Decoy Tussle For MCA Presidency?

By Alan Ting

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 (Bernama) -- Barely a year after he took office, MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat will be facing another "election" when the party convenes an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on Oct 10.

Ong has taken a huge risk by accepting all five motions proposed by supporters of his sacked deputy Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who, among others, are seeking a no confidence vote against Ong and to reinstate the latter.

The party president is seizing the bull by the horns, in chosing to leave it to the 2,377 delegates that represent 900,000 members to decide on his leadership following Dr Chua's expulsion for a sex video scandal.

"It's another party presidential election. That's how I look at it," a party insider told Bernama.

The EGM may yield several scenarios, firstly one side winning handsomely, the second of a no confidence vote in Ong and thirdly, and the most watched, the party president winning on a simple majority while Dr Chua makes a return to the party that expelled him on Aug 26 for a video sex scandal that happened two years ago.

The same party insider said anything less than the 60 per cent he secured in the party election last October would be viewed as Ong losing his support in the party and may cause him to vacate the post.

If the delegates pass the motion of no confidence against Ong and reinstate Dr Chua, it would also likely prompt Ong to come to the same decision.

"Although according to the party constitution, a two thirds majority is needed to remove the president, knowing Ong's style, he would prefer to throw in the towel if the motion is rejected with only a simple majority," the insider said.

"If that happens, under Article 40 of the constitution, the deputy president automatically becomes the president without having to seek a fresh mandate unlike previously," he added.

Before the constitution was amended in 1986, the deputy president can only be acting president and has to contest for the top post to become president.

Another party veteran voiced the possibility of a fresh party election if scenario three happened because the entire presidential council, which sacked Dr Chua, would resign.

While Dr Chua's side deny he is out to topple Ong, the president's supporters believe there is a "hidden element" in the motions to be debated at the EGM, which is to pave the way for his reinstatement and ascend to the party presidency.

"As the delegates will vote secretly for each separate motion, this could act as a safety net for Dr Chua. Unless the delegates vote in block and say no to all five motions, it would spell big trouble for Ong," the veteran said.

The remaining three motions are to annul Dr Chua's sacking, to revoke the appointment of any other deputy president and for no disciplinary action to be taken against delegates who had supported Dr Chua to call for an EGM.

Some party leaders are more worried about a possible deadlock if scenario three happens.

"It would prolong the crisis as we will be back to square one. It is just like marriage, if the two cannot reconcile, you cannot force it to happen," said a leader who did not want to be identified.

Ong and Dr Chua are believed to each have at least 30 percent hardcore backing and need to win over the remaining 40 per cent of neutral or fence sitters.

Crucial are the states of Selangor, Johor and Perak which account for just over 50 per cent of the delegates with Selangor having 431, Johor 418 and Perak 347.

The rest are Federal Territory which has 178 delegates followed by Pahang (176), Kedah (173), Penang (149), Sabah (148), Negeri Sembilan (122), Melaka (90), Kelantan (76), Terengganu (43) and Perlis (27).

War and disregard make Tamils hard and determined

“After looking at the people dying and dead bodies everywhere, it is like nothing threatens me any more, it is like I have had the hard time in my life and I think I am prepared to take up whatever happens in life now,” says Damilvany Gnanakumar, an Eezham Tamil of British citizenship, who witnessed war and internment camp in the island of Sri Lanka. "I'm not that old Vany that sits down and cries for little things. I'm stronger now after going through and seeing all that problem. My mind is clear now," she told Gethin Chamberlain of The Guardian in an interview Tuesday, asking at the same time, what have the people done wrong? Why are they going through this, why is the international government not speaking up for them?

Damilvany Gnanakumar
Damilvany Gnanakumar, 25, a British Tamil biomedical scientist who witnessed the war in Vanni [Photo: The Guardian]

The 25 years old biomedicine graduate of Greenwich University was one of a small group of medics treating the wounded in Vanni.

The pressure from The Guardian, UK, was partly responsible for her release from Colombo’s internment camp.

Her horrifying eyewitness accounts not merely put to shame Colombo and the establishments of the International Community, but indicts them of serious crime against human civilisation, commented Tamil circles.

Even those who now shed tears in the international community still miserably fail in recognising the fundamental need that Eezham Tamils should get independence, the Tamil circles pointed out.

Damilvany born in Jaffna in 1984, and migrated to UK in 1994, chose to go to Vanni in February 2008 to serve the people. She is a classic example for the younger generation of the Tamil diaspora sharing ownership of the national liberation struggle, Tamil circles said, adding that this generation cannot be taken for a ride by anyone without resolving the fundamentals of the Tamil national question in the island.

Fast for the nation: Peace for Malaysia


Kampong Buah Pala, letter by P. Uthayakumar to Lim Guan Eng

HUMAN RIGHTS PARTY (HRP)

NO.6, Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tel: 03-2282 5241 Fax: 03-2282 5241 Website: www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com

16th September 2009

YAB Lim Guan Eng

Chief Miniter of Penang,

c/o Pejabat Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang, By Fax No: 04-261 3003

Tingkat 28, KOMTAR 10503, Pulau Pinang. By E-Mail : limguaneng@penang.gov.my

Re: 1) In memorium, Kampong Buah Pala the last Indian traditional village in Penang.

2) Buah Pala road sealed off (The Star 16/9/09 page 13)

3) Developer says Council has given approval (The Star 16/09/09 page 31)

4) You too brutas (Guan Eng, DAP, PKR, and PAS)

5) What a wonderful game you played, Guan Eng

We refer to the above matter.

With the above and of the closing chapter of the last Indian heritage village in Penang having been raped and descerated, your goodself the DAP, PKR, PAS and UMNO may rejoice. But for the two million Indians in Malaysia this is the last nail in the coffin. DAP, PKR and PAS are not very much different from the UMNO/BN regime in so far as the working class Indians are concerned.

The tears of the powerless and working class Indians of Kampong Buah Pala will remain the most painful memory in the history of the Malaysian Indians vis a vis the DAP, PKR, PAS and UMNO axis. In fact DAP, PKR and PAS/PR are more blameworthy than UMNO/BN because they have always portrayed and championed themselves as the people’s saviour government upholding democracy (DAP) Justice (PKR) and fairness (PAS).

But as the victims of Kampong Buah Pala are “merely” the working class Indians it did not matter to DAP, PKR and PAS. They were tampled with brute force using UMNOS’ police and riot police and DAP’s Chinese gangsters.

We will never forget that the DAP/PR told us:-

1) Your goodselves and PKR Anwar Ibrahim’s election promise to preserve Kampong Buah Pala if your goodselves won to rule as the next Penang state government was as good as the Tamil saying “written on running water”

2) That the Kampong Buah Pala land sold by the DAP state government for a mere RM3.2 Million has shot up to RM150 Million within just over one year and therefore cannot “bail out” Kampong Buah Pala.

3) By the stroke of a pen you could have given a letter to the Developer by virtue of Section 116 (1) (d) the National Land Code that the Penang State government does not give consent to the intended demolished of Kampong Buah Pala. But you deliberatery chose not to do so.

4) By the stroke of a pen invoking Section 76 of the National Land Code read with Section 3 of the Land Acquisition Act, your goodself could have saved this last Indian traditional village in Penang but you chose not to do so. You would have done so had it been a Malay or Chinese traditional village, e.g Weld Quay, Khoo kongsi or Kampong Melayu.

5) After initially promising that no building permission would be given to the Developer until the Kampong Buah Pala problem is settled, today The Star reports “Developer says council has given approval”

6) After promising to apply for an urgent High Court Order to stop the demolishment as there was no State government consent to demolish the houses on alienated Penang State government land in Kampong Buah Pala, nothing was done by your goodself. Now you will tell us that it is academic for you to do so.

7) Your goodself had personally called the previous UMNO/Gerakan Penang State government robbers but you had done nothing to undo their injustices especially when the people power Hindraf Makkal Sakthi had empowered you to do so.

8) Your goodself had procured your Indian “mandores” and your cyber troopers to divert attention away from the real Kampong Buah Pala issue and instead do a Hindraf bashing.

9) The last straw for us was when Lim Kit Siang, Anwar Ibrahim and Hadi Awang stood by and watched silently this “blood letting” of the poor helpless and working class Indians of Kampong Buah Pala.

You too brutals! (Guan Eng, DAP, PKR, and PAS) What a wonderful game you played, Guan Eng.

We salute the villagers of Kampong Buah Pala who had done everything possible from the peaceful protests to the traditional Indian village bull fight, to a bullock cart protest at Komtar, little children presenting your goodself with a written appeal, being beaten up by the UMNO controlled riot police, and DAP gangsters and the police arresting the villagers and finally the self immolution attempt (trying to set herself on fire after dousing herself with kerosene) by a distraught lady in Kampong Buah Pala.

All this done by goodself and DAP, PKR and PAS as your political calculation may be that the Indians would have no other alternative as they would not vote for UMNO/BN and would have no other choice or alternative but to vote for DAP, PKR and PAS in the general elections is no longer tenable. Watch and learn!

Thank you.

Your faithfully,

________________________

P.Uthayakumar

(Secretary General (pro-tem).

What the Cabinet hid from the Malaysian public

Image

Today, we are going to reveal the 18-page Cabinet paper on the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco that has thus far cost the Malaysian taxpayers RM12.5 billion of our hard-earned money. Not only three Prime Ministers, but the entire Cabinet was briefed about the status of the project. In the end, the Cabinet endorsed what was going on rather than bring to book those responsible for the disaster that need not have happened. Be reminded that this Cabinet paper is covered by the Official Secrets Act, which means it is a crime to be in possession of it.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Do we really own that land we own?

Image

The long and the short of it is we do not own that land which we own. We only have the right to use that land. The land belongs to the government. And the government can take it back from us any time it so wishes.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

I have thus far not commented on the Kampong Buah Pala land issue in Penang. One reason is because so much has already been said about the matter that there is very little I can add to the issue.

It appears that most comments made about the matter are very emotional in nature and the angle being taken is that poor Indian landowners are being oppressed by powerful people. The fact that the government of Penang is a Pakatan Rakyat government makes these people even angrier. They had expected the Pakatan Rakyat government to fight for the people rather than ‘take the side’ of the developer.

Some have even slammed Lim Guan Eng. They wanted Guan Eng to reverse the decision of the previous Barisan Nasional government. They just can’t understand why the Pakatan Rakyat Chief Minister, and from the DAP on top of that, is not the rakyat’s ‘champion’ as they had expected him to be.

I remember back in the old days when my grandfather’s land was acquired by the government. He was then still the Governor of Penang and he had just completed his retirement home on a plot of land in the Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur.

The government, however, wanted that plot of land plus the few surrounding it to build Malaysia’s new Parliament House. So the government acquired all the land on that hill and my grandfather lost his retirement home even before the paint on the walls could dry.

I remember seeing the house being given the finishing touches and not long after that it was totally demolished.

My grandfather may have been the Governor of Penang, but if the government wants to take his land then there is nothing you can do about it.

Over the last 50 years I have seen many plots of land acquired by the government. Some of them belonged to my friends and family. Even my own land was once acquired by the government.

Unfortunately, there is nothing much we can do if the government wishes to acquire our land. You see, under the National Land Code, we only have rights over the land as long as we pay the cukai tanah and as long as the government does not need it back. Once the government needs it then we lose that right to the land, never mind how many generations that land has been in the family.

In fact, our right over that land is only as far as the approved land usage of the land is concerned. If we need to change the usage then we need to apply for permission and only if the government approves the conversion of that land can we change the usage.

Therefore, agricultural land must only be for agricultural purposes and even then if it is for padi planting then it can only be used for planting padi and not for planting other agricultural produce.

In short, we can’t simply do whatever we like with ‘our’ land even though we may think we own that land.

Furthermore, our right to the land is only the space within six feet above it and six feet below it, so to speak. Therefore, if we discover oil 100 feet below our land, that oil does not belong to us but to the government. And we can’t stop any plane from flying over our land because the air space more than six feet above our land does not belong to us but to the government. In fact, even to fill your land or level it you need government approval.

Okay, maybe I am over-simplifying the argument, but this is as simple as I can explain it without throwing in too much legal jargon and whatnot.

The long and the short of it is we do not own that land which we own. We only have the right to use that land. The land belongs to the government. And the government can take it back from us any time it so wishes.

But the government can’t just take back our land for the heck of it. There must be a reason for doing so. And the reason must be that they need to develop the land for the needs of the community. So we, the individual, must lose our land so that the community can benefit.

Nevertheless, I remember more than 25 years ago when the Terengganu government acquired big chunks of land just for the heck of it. You see, at that time the state government had plenty of cash and did not know how to spend it -- thanks to the oil royalty it was receiving. So they just acquired as much land as they could get their hands on and built up a huge land bank for future development purposes.

The government did not even know what it was going to do with the land after acquiring it. And all the land belonged to Malays but they had not choice but to surrender their land. And many of them were padi farmers who lost their livelihood. Of course, the cash soon ran out whereas if they still had their land they could continue planting padi.

One thing to note is that the government can’t take back the land for free. The landowner must be compensated. And the compensation must be according to market value plus whatever loss we might suffer.

So, while we can’t challenge the government when it wants to take back our land, we can, however, challenge how much compensation we will receive.

Once the government takes back our land we can’t refuse to accept the compensation that the government wants to pay us. We accept the compensation but we ask for it to be noted that we accept the compensation ‘under protest’. Then we file in court a demand for more compensation.

Say the government acquires our 10,000 square feet land and pays us RM50.00 per square foot as compensation. We may feel this is too low. The compensation should actually be RM120.00 per square foot according to market value. Then there is our house sitting on the land which is worth at least RM350,000.00 if we were to build it today.

So we go to court and challenge the compensation. If the court agrees with us then the government has to pay us the difference of RM70.00 per square foot plus another RM350,000.00 for the house.

But we must first accept the RM50.00 per square foot compensation. We can’t refuse to accept it. If we do not accept the compensation then we can't demand the extra or shortfall. But on accepting the compensation we must note on the papers that we are accepting it under protest so that we can go to court to ask for more.

There is no issue about whether the Penang government can or cannot acquire the Kampong Buah Pala land. It can. The one thing we can argue about is whether the government acquired the land following the proper procedure. The next thing would be, if we are the legal owner of that land, is to challenge the compensation we are being paid, assuming we feel the compensation is too low.

Of course, we must also separate the legal issue from the moral issue. Maybe the government is legally allowed to acquire the land and did, in fact, acquire it following the proper procedure. But is it morally right for them to acquire the land? Is the land being acquired for the sake of development so that it will benefit the entire community or is it being acquired so that someone can make money from it and become very rich?

In short, the intention (niat) behind this whole thing has to be explored. Right, from the legal point of view, might not be right from the moral point of view. For example, it is legally right for the Minister to sign a detention order and detain you without trial for ten years just because you criticised Rosmah Mansor. But is it morally right in spite of the fact that he did it the legal way?

This should be the issue debated with regards to the Kampong Buah Pala land issue. And if the acquisition was because of a larger agenda then we need to go to part two. And part two would be are the landowners, even if they are squatters with no titles over the land, being paid the proper compensation?

Unfortunately, we can’t stand in the way of progress. But we must not become a victim of progress. Sure, sometimes when they widen roads and build schools and hospitals we end up having to make way for this development. But we must be properly compensated for our loss and not short-changed.

If we argue that you can develop the country but please do not touch my land, then there would be no development because most times development will have to be done in the built-up areas and not in the deep isolated jungles where no privately-owned land would be involved.

The Kampong Buah Pala folks are not the first to lose their land -- and neither will they be the last. Penang is crowded and most of the land is no longer government-owned. To continue developing Penang would mean it would affect private land. So what does the Penang government do? Stop all development?

MACC and gang sued for RM50 million

Image

Lawyer Rosli Dahlan has sued 17 parties -- which include the Malaysian government, Utusan Malaysia, MACC and the A-G Chambers -- for alleged defamation, assault and false imprisonment. Let this 20-page document filed in court today tell the story of what Rosli was subjected to at the hands of the government and its officers. Whether he wins his case or not and whether he is awarded the RM50 million damages he is seeking is not crucial. What is would be that Rosli is able to tell his story and expose the MACC/AG and their lackeys for what they really are. And Rosli's story makes most interesting reading indeed. It is almost like a script from a Hollywood movie, except in this case it is real and not make-belief.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin