Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Did Hishamuddin Hussein and Syed Hamid Albar lie about Waythamoorthy's passport? The complete Story from "The Malaysain Heart"
before he departed for UK yesterday (photo and caption from this Malay Mail report datelined 28/9/09)
These are the news articles that reported what Syed Hamid Albar (the former home minister) and Hishamuddin Hussein (the present one), said:
- Hindraf leader ‘still has his passport’ - 17 May 2008
- Waytha's passport still active: Syed Hamid - 26 May 08
- Syed Hamid: Hindraf chief's passport never revoked: - 26 May 2008
- Syed Hamid: Waythamoorthy free to travel - 27 May 2008
- Hindraf Leader P. Waytha Moorthy's Passport Was Never Revoked: Syed Hamid - 22 October 2008
- Balik-lah, says Syed Hamid: - 28 September 2009
- Home Ministry says Hindraf man's passport not cancelled - 30 September 2009
- Waythamoorthy claim over withheld passport untrue: Hishammuddin - 30 September 2009
- iKDN: P.Waythamoorty Masih Warganegara
Reported here: "Dia sendiri yang datang serahkan dan bukan kita yang pergi rampas. Bahkan paspot itu masih lagi sah digunakan dan di dalam simpan pejabat Pesuruhjaya Tinggi kita di London," and added, "Beliau sewajarnya berhenti dari menuduh kita macam-macam...beliau boleh ke pejabat kita (Pesuruhjaya Tinggi Malaysia) untuk ambil paspot yang dipulangkan oleh beliau sendiri itu pada bila-bila masa. Mungkin beliau merasa malu sendiri" .
Reported here: “Yes, he was the one who surrendered the passport,” he [Hishamuddin] confirmed. He added that Waythamoorthy should stop claiming that the government is stopping him from getting his passport. “Why should we apologise to him? Would you? Of course, not,” he said. Hishammuddin also added that Waythamoorthy could be too ashamed to go and get his passport because he had surrendered the document himself. “Maybe he received a better offer at that moment, he felt that the grass is always greener on the other side but when he went to the other side, he felt that it was not worth it. "Maybe he was ashamed because he himself surrendered the passport. That is why he claimed that we did not allow him to have his passport,” he said.."
"In other words, the Malaysian government has never made any cancellation to the mentioned travel document," said Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar Syed Hamid in a statement today.On 3 October 2009, Waytha's wife Mrs. Shanti, his brother P. Uthayakumar and lawyer N. Surendran held a press conference at Hindraf's office where they (again) presented evidence to prove that Malaysian authorities had informed the British authorities that Waythamoorthy's passport had been cancelled, and had requested them to impound and return it to the Malaysian authorities.
Here is the letter they gave reporters, which you can download in pdf format from the link below:
1. The precise date when the British Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was notified of the cancellation?Based on this and other evidence, we can draw a timeline of events surrounding the issue of Waytha's passport. I have emphasised our minister's statements in bold:
A: The letter from the Malaysian authorities to the High Commission was dated 14 March 2008.
2. Which Malaysian authority notified the British Embassy (was it, for example, the Immigration authorities, Foreign Office or Home Ministry, or any other department)?
A: l can confirm that the Home Office does hold information that is relevant to this part of your request. However, we have decided not to communicate this information to you in accordance with the exemption under Section 27 (2) of the Freedom of Information (FOl) A[ct] 2000, which covers confidential information obtained from a State other than the United Kingdom or from an international organisation or international court. I have explained more about this exemption below.
3. Whether any particular reason was given for the said cancellation
A: The passport was cancelled as the Malaysian authorities were seeking your client’s arre[st] to face criminal charges.
4. When was the request made by the issuing authority for the return of the passport and was there any reason given for this request?
A: A request was made by the Malaysian authorities for the return of your client’s passport on 2 July 2008 no reason was given for why they wanted the passport returned to them, Malaysian passports are of the property of the issuing authority and not of the individual holder and therefore this is why we intend to return the passport to them.
- 25 November 2007 - Hindraf rally in KL
- 28 November 2007 - Waythamoorthy leaves Malaysia to avoid possible detention under the Internal Security Act and to obtain international support for HINDRAF's cause. He goes to India, then to London.
- 13 December 2007 - Uthayakumar and 4 others detained under ISA
- 14 March 2008 - British High Commision in KL receives letter from Malaysian authorities, informing them that Waytha's passport had been cancelled because the Malaysian authorities were seeking Waytha's arrest to face criminal charges
- 17 April 2008 - Waytha goes to Geneva to brief the United Nations High Commissioner’s office on Human Rights
- 19 April 2008 - Waytha moorthy returned to London from Geneva (where he had ), but was and informed that the Malaysian government had revoked his passport, and therefore refused entry at Gatwick airport. Waytha asked the British authorities to seek a confirmation with the Malaysian government that my passport was, indeed, being revoked. Waytha spent 2 days at Gatwick.
- 21 April 2008 - UK Border Agency British immigration confirmed that Waytha's passport was revoked by the Malaysian government, and they (UK Border Agency) impounded his passport upon the Malaysian authorities' request. It was only then that Waytha decided to seek political asylum, which was duly given by the British authorities.
- 26 May 2008 - Malaysian Insider article: Syed Hamid: Hindraf chief's passport never revoked
- 2 July 2008 - Malaysian authorities requested the British authorities (in writing) for the return of Waytha's passport to them.
- 22 October 2008 - Bernama article: Hindraf Leader P. Waytha Moorthy's Passport Was Never Revoked: Syed Hamid
P.S. The only news organisations (which I could find) had reported the press conference were:
Malaysiakini: Proof of lies, claims Waytha's lawyer
Malaysian Insider: Uthayakumar claims proof Hishammuddin lied
What happened to the others? What's the point of paying them RM 1.50 or RM 1.20 every day if they choose not to report the news that matters?
"[This is] as an immediate step in restoring confidence in the government and its enforcement agencies," said the Selangor DAP chairperson in a statement today.
Kugan, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a car theft case, died early this year in the USJ Taipan police lockup.
A post-mortem revealed injuries allegedly sustained while in police custody, and included deep lacerations, cuts, wounds and burn marks on the body.
After eight months, police constable V Navindran was charged last week with two counts of causing grievous hurt to Kugan while attempting to obtain a confession. Navindran has claimed trial to both charges.
However, Santiago claimed that, just like the first autopsy and investigation into Kugan's death, the government's latest decision only continues to vex the public.
"If the attorney-general (AG) thinks he can walk around with a smug expression for having discharged his duties, he would certainly be disappointed as most Malaysians are questioning the obvious irregularities in Kugan's case," said the Klang MP.
One such 'irregularity', according to Santiago, is why the case - earlier classified as murder by the AG - now involves a lesser offence.
"This would certainly prevent the court from looking at the case in its entirety or from coming up with a decision that matches the gory injuries sustained by Kugan," he said, voicing support for lawyer Gobind Singh Deo's call to amend the charges against Navindran.
"Considering the extent of Kugan's injuries, why weren't other officers charged for Kugan's death?
"The AG's rhetoric rarely makes for a good case. But in this instance his attempts to shrug off the obvious link between the injuries and cause of death clearly illustrates his attempts to mask the larger truth."
Last Wednesday, AG Abdul Gani Patail told the media: "There is no evidence that the deceased suffered instant death. Instead, the deceased died four days after the alleged beating. Therefore, there was a wide gap in between and a charge of murder could not be preferred against the suspect."
Santiago claimed the AG's decision protects the cosy relationship shared by the government, the AG's chamber and the police force.
"Instead of acting in the interest of justice, they provide cover for each other to promote the self-interest of the ruling elite.
"As such the only measure to restore confidence in the police force and government institutions would be for the AG to cut short his shadow play and instead charge all the police officers who are responsible for Kugan's death."
Policing the police
Santiago noted that the increasing incidence of custodial deaths has tarnished the credibility of the police force and other government institutions.
He cited a parliamentary report which revealed that 1,535 custodial deaths had occurred between 2003 and 2007, and alleged that most of these cases were not investigated.
"In the event the police chief offered an explanation for the sudden death of another detainee, it would always be crafted around a sloppy script with a fuzzy outline and couched in political jargon."
He reiterated the need to monitor the force, urging the premier to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) without further delay.
Human rights activists, opposition politicians and members of the civil society have been demanding for the IPCMC, recommended by Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police in 2005.
The government has instead proposed a Special Complaints Commission to check abuse by personnel in all enforcement agencies.
By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider
PORT DICKSON, Oct 6 — When Omar Kased, 75, found out that Zulkefly Omar was the PAS candidate standing in his constituency, the retired teacher made plans to meet his grandnephew at one of the campaign stops.
He was reunited with the PAS Negeri Sembilan chief last night when Zulkefly shook the hand of the frail old man.
“I am glad he remembers the time when he stayed in my house, I have already forgotten that, but I think he came with one of my grandsons,” said Omar, who is married to Zulkefly’s grandaunt from Lenggeng, a small town bordering Selangor situated some 60km from here.Omar, who was born in Rembau, moved to Port Dickson a few months before Merdeka and now calls it home.
The reunion was important for Zulkefly as Umno campaigners are exploiting the fact that he is not a local boy and will not be able to serve the constituents well, unlike his opponent Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad who grew up in the area and had been their representative from 1978 till 2004.
After addressing the crowd at a rally in Taman Eastern here, Zulkefly then invited Omar to the stage to give a short a speech.
“I have a relative here,” Zulkefly told party loyalists at the rally.
It was not the first time Zulkefly had attempted to show his personal connection to the Umno stronghold.
Earlier at the party media briefing, he highlighted the fact that he has been actively fighting for the rights of the pig farmers near Port Dickson who were affected by the JE outbreak more than 10 years ago.
“I then worked alongside Yap Ah Peng, the former Jimah assemblyman,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
But with or without personal connections in the constituency, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has a bigger problem of preparing itself to take over the Negeri Sembilan government in the 13th general election.DAP, which controls 10 out of the 15 PR seats in the 36-member state legislative assembly, has already declared that the Bagan Pinang campaign will be the beginning of the coalition’s march to power in the state. Barisan Nasional (BN) is currently ruling Negeri Sembilan with a simple majority for the first time.
Implying a similar situation to Perak, where the PR government was led by PAS despite being a minority party, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan had warned against the prospect of having such a government in the state.
“A coalition government that is always in disagreement with each other, will not have the time to run the state efficiently,” he said at a Hari Raya celebration yesterday when urging the crowd to continue backing the BN government.
“What is wrong with a PAS-led government supported by the DAP?” said Zulkefly when asked about the criticism against the coalition government.
But he was coy when asked of his new role if PR takes over the state government.
“We will sort that out within Pakatan, let us win here first,” said Zulkefly.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — The MCA, MIC, Gerakan and even PPP have only themselves to blame for coming to a stage where Umno is thinking seriously of reducing their seat allocation in the next general elections.
These non-Malay political parties in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition are growing in irrelevance among the racial constituencies they once represented.
At a retreat of Umno divisional leaders last week, a common refrain heard was that Umno should be less generous in giving up Malay-majority seats to representatives of MCA, MIC, Gerakan and other component parties.The general view among division chiefs was that the component parties were much weaker than Umno and would not be able to swing votes from the non-Malays or the Malays.
They are not wrong.
Firstly, these parties have been hit by infighting which has prevented them from speaking with a collective voice.
Secondly, they have been pushovers for so long that Umno officials have no qualms about sidelining them.
In the last few months, none of the component parties have been able to check the right wing tendencies of Umno.
The publication of the two books to hammer PKR politicians for “selling out” to non-Malays is just the latest slap in the face of Chinese- and Indian-based BN component parties.
The current scenario reignites a classic question in Malaysian politics. On one side an imperative to stand up for issues affecting their communities; on the other the risks of overreach and thereby affecting race relations either real or contrived.
The non-Malay parties’ inability in striking a balance has left them, through the years, as ineffective political representatives.
In Election 2008, Chinese and Indian voters in particular were so turned off by parties like MCA, MIC and Gerakan that they placed their faith in a loose opposition alliance of DAP, PKR and PAS.
More than one-and-a-half years on, the support for the opposition alliance — now known as the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) — remain strong among the Chinese and the Indians.MCA and MIC have done very little to show why Chinese and Indians should once again back them.
Umno also lost votes last year to the opposition and increasingly feels the need to raise race rhetoric to regain votes from disaffected Malays or at least reenergise its own members.
The championing of issues related to “Malay rights” is like staple to the party faithful, despite the discomfort felt by non-Malay communities.
Under Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Umno has slowly begun to regain its footing.
A win this week in the Bagan Pinang by-election— which is likely — will serve to give Umno a much needed boost to get its members energised enough to take on a PR alliance still wracked with squabbles among its own disparate members.
For Umno and even some members of the Najib administration, it is becoming clear that MCA, MIC and Gerakan offer no solution to the problem of the non-Malay vote.
The best bet for Najib and BN is the economy.If the economy picks up enough by the next general elections, significant numbers of Chinese and Indian voters could decide to back BN again.
For his part, Najib continues his own efforts in trying to court the non-Malay vote directly without the MCA and MIC.
From the perspective of the ordinary non-Malay voter, the MCA, MIC, and even Gerakan and PPP have not shown how they are able to stand up for the respective communities they represent.
On one issue after another, these parties have either kept silent or pretended to protest before ultimately acceding to Umno.
So if in the next general elections MCA, MIC, Gerakan and PPP are sidelined, they should not be surprised.
They were active participants in their own marginalisation.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — In Election 2008 in Bagan Pinang, the majority of Indians there had voted for PAS while the majority of Malays voted for Umno, with the minority Chinese, who are about 10 per cent of the electorate of 13,334 voters, evenly backing both factions.
It was largely because of strong Indian support that PAS managed to reduce Umno’s majority from 4,411 votes in the 2004 general election to 2,333 votes in the 2008 polls.
Will this pattern repeat itself on Oct 11?
In 2008 PAS won in five streams — Ladang Atherton, Pekan Siliau, Ladang Bradwell, Sua Betong and in Kampung Bagan Pinang.
While the first four areas have an Indian majority, Kampung Bagan Pinang is predominantly Malay with a large Indian population of 500 voters compared to 1,731 Malays and 113 Chinese.
With former Mentri Besar Tan Sri Isa Samad returning to contest against PAS state chief Zulkefly Mohamad Omar, there is no reason for traditional Umno supporters and fence sitters to shy away from Umno.
Hardcore PAS supporters will continue to back the party. The question is how the Indians, who are a sizeable 20 per cent of the electorate, will vote.
Herein lies the confusion — there are now simply one too many groups out to woo the Indian voters.
The irony is that while Hindraf founder P. Uthayakumar is urging Indians to boycott the polls, others are actively wooing them either to vote PAS or Umno and these include the DAP, PPP, MIC, PAS and Umno itself.
In addition various factions opposed to these political parties but supportive of Umno/BN are also campaigning for Indian voters, making the campaign a true merry go round.
Among these groups of leaders are the Barisan Nasional Supporters Club led by former MIC Youth leader S.A Vicknesvaran, the Makkal Sakthi Party led by former Hindraf national co-ordinator R. S. Thanenthiran and expelled PPP member Datuk S. Murugiah.
On the stump for PAS are the DAP and PKR Indian leaders like Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran, Sungkai state assemblyman A. Sivanesan and PKR’s Padang Serai MP. P. Gobalakrisnan and Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam.
The 2,800 voters are spoilt for choice.
“I have never seen so many people knock on my doors with all kinds of hampers,” said S. Athimugam, in Bradwell estate. “I am not even a registered voter,” he said with a wink.
He said many older Indians see the by-election as a contest between Isa and PAS not Umno. “Umno does not come into the picture because Isa is such a dominant figure in Teluk Kemang,” he said. “His father was likewise a dominant figure before Isa.”
But the younger generation of Indians, who work elsewhere but will return to vote, they see the contest as a struggle between Umno and Pakatan Rakyat supremo Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
“They see Anwar as a credible leader for the Indians not Samy Vellu or Kulasegaran or Thanenthiran or Uthayakumar,” said Wilson Sagamani, a retired teacher in Port Dickson.
“They are so badly discriminated in everyway they want to punish Umno…it’s that simple for them,” he said, adding that nobody is expected to heed Uthayakumar’s call to boycott the election.
“It is a carnival for them, they are diehard Pakatan supporters and the last people in the world to boycott the election,” Sagamani said.
While Umno and its many affiliates are all consistently wooing the Indian votes to raise Umno’s winning majority, PAS is also courting them in the hope of combining their support together with Malay fence sitters to tip the balance in their favour.
The only difference between now and in 2008 is the Isa factor which by all counts is a big factor in Teluk Kemang.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — Any hope that the MCA power tussle will end after the party’s EGM vote this week could be dashed with speculation growing among members that Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat will not quit even if the vote goes against him.
Ong, the party president, had said last month that he would step down even if just a simple majority of MCA delegates vote to reinstate Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek as deputy president.
But party insiders now claim that Ong has now backtracked and has told them he would not quit.
Ong was not available for comment.
“Ong is now afraid. Now he’s saying that he would quit only if two-thirds of the central delegates agree to adopt the resolutions,” said a party source
“It’s really contrary to what the president had said in the past-that he would quit if majority agrees for Chua to be reinstalled as the party deputy president,” added the source.
Chua was sacked by the party’s presidential council after he was accused of tainting the party’s image following the distribution of his sex DVD, a scandal the former MCA no. 2 claimed was the doing of his political rivals.
A day after the sacking, supporters of Chua initiated their EGM campaign in a move to allow their leader to return to the party and oust Ong.
The party’s powerful central committee, dominated by Ong’s men, in a move to fend off the possibility of a damaging rebellion led by Dr Chua, then decided to annul the sacking and suspend the latter’s membership for four years instead.
This move, however, has proven to be futile as Chua and his men have decided to continue to engage Ong in a do-or-die battle.
At a function yesterday, Chua unveiled a manifesto for this weekend’s campaign and said he was ready to helm the party.
But he pointed out that the EGM was not a bid at a power grab.
While pointing out that he wanted to revive and rejuvenate the party, he promised there would be no witch-hunt if he took over the party.
I would like to firstly thank you for your blog posts.
I do not know where to go with this but my sibling who is in a government university (UPSI) told me she will be not be getting any posting for the next 2 years after she graduates.
She said that the reason given by the university is that the economy is doing badly and no new teachers will be taken in.
I hope this issue would be investigated and higlighted to the mass media.
By Shanon Shah
Isa Samad poses at a Hari Raya Aidilfitri event in Bagan Pinang
"THIS is part of my programme for the Bagan Pinang by-election: jalan-jalan cari undi," says Tan Sri Isa Samad, 60, riffing off the popular TV3 food travelogue, Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan. The 3,000-strong crowd here in Taman PD Utama initially looks more interested in the Aidilfitri spread at the Umno-organised function. But when Isa speaks, a few seem to perk up, and giggles can be heard. Before long, Isa gains momentum with his audience.
It's not that Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who spoke before Isa's arrival, was a slouch. Muhyiddin spoke with gusto, but he never quite managed to whip the crowd into a frenzied mass. Granted, there are not many Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders known for electrifying their audience at massive ceramah. That is not their style anymore.
But Isa gives it a shot on the night of 4 Oct 2009, the second day of the by-election campaign. Bit by bit he takes on the allegations against him by PAS and its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners. First up: the threats by the PR's Bagan Pinang by-election director and PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub to expose Isa's mismanagement as Negeri Sembilan menteri besar.
"Salahuddin should go and help the Kelantan menteri besar (Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat) to develop Kelantan instead. Only an unbalanced person would say that Kelantan is more developed than Negeri Sembilan," Isa retorts.
He is on a roll. "These PAS people should just stick to setting up roadside stalls," he says, and is greeted with more laughter. PAS-aligned stalls, selling clothes, snacks, perfumes and party t-shirts, have mushroomed all around Port Dickson since the campaign started. "They come here and behave like this is their father's state!" he thunders, and for the first time during the night, the multiracial crowd roars its approval.
The crowd at the ceramah in Taman PD Utama
And then Isa rounds off his little speech: "Ladies and gentlemen, actually the candidate shouldn't talk for too long." Again, the crowd giggles. "I just have so much fun walloping PAS. It's fun walloping liars when we are in the right."
It is at functions like these that the BN's pre-nomination dilemma becomes clear: whether to field Isa the charmer, or to not field Isa, the leader Umno itself found guilty of corruption in 2005.
After the BN's Rohaizat Othman — a lawyer disbarred by the Bar Council for swindling a client — was trounced in the Permatang Pasir by-election, many thought the BN would have learnt its lesson. Umno veterans Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah expressed their frustration openly regarding Isa. But as Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin says, Isa is very different from Rohaizat.
In some ways, Khairy is right. True, Isa was suspended from Umno in 2005 and could not contest the March 2008 general election due to money politics. Technically, his suspension ended in June 2008, so he is actually free to enter politics as an Umno member again. And Isa is, as Khairy says, a "godfather" in local politics.
To Isa's credit also, he does not shy away from difficult questions from reporters. He stops and waits when journalists call for impromptu press conferences. He invites questions: about what PAS is saying about him, about whether he abused his position when he was in power. He takes these questions on and even uses them as material during his speeches later.
Isa delivers his campaign speech He jokes and teases reporters; his humour actually feels spontaneous, good-natured and unforced. And he doesn't just scoot off to his next function. He always asks, "Any more questions?" and waits a beat before bidding a cheerful goodbye. And herein lies Isa's secret weapon: the guy can't help being funny, witty and likeable. He's like a small-sized pak cik you hope will show up at your open house celebration.
And so, according to Isa, critics are mistaken in calling him a "recycled candidate". "If they think I'm recycled, what about the de facto leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim), who was out in the political wilderness for six years? Even rubbish decomposes when you leave it out that long," he quips.
And Isa is right. He is not a recycled candidate. He is actually a very charismatic contender, albeit one who has to recycle a very old script. Just look at his campaign rhetoric to date: that he has brought (and will bring more) development to Negeri Sembilan; that he is close to federal and state BN leaders; that he has valuable institutional memory and experience as a former menteri besar.
This is merely a variation of the BN's campaign rhetoric in the seven by-elections it has contested since March 2008. And look where it's brought the BN: six out of seven losses thus far. Perhaps asking Isa to make this tired script work is like asking Harrison Ford to make another Indiana Jones movie. It might work, but at what cost?That's Isa in a nutshell — an adorable charmer with a tainted past, reading from a tired script. The BN, being the incumbent in this seat, already has an edge over the PR. But if it really wants to clinch a convincing victory, the BN has got to revise its script and address Isa's corrupt past more convincingly. After all, great performers have been undone by bad scripts before. And a few have been destroyed by pasts that refuse to stop haunting them.
The Sarawak Women and Family Council (SWFC) chairperson Fatimah Abdullah has said that the “sensitive” Penan issue has been highlighted and over-exaggerated because of their “political and commercial value”.
It’s not that the Penan are more important than any other ethnic group in Sarawak – though they are one of the most marginalised groups in the country. But their blockades reflect their desperation. Their situation now is a microcosm of the damaging effects of what is taking place in Sarawak: the clearing of rainforests for logging and plantations, the loss of biodiversity, the dam-building frenzy (at public expense for private profit?), the emergence of polluting industry, the unhealthy nexus of politics and business, and of course the marginalisation of indigenous groups, their dispossesion from native customary land, accompanied by ill-conceived resettlement plans.
Excerpt from The Borneo Post
It’s all because of ‘political, commercial value’: Fatimah
By Nigel Edgar
Penan issue very sensitive matter and should be dealt with carefully
KUCHING: The Penan issue has been highlighted and over-exaggerated by some people because of their “political and commercial value”.
Sarawak Women and Family Council (SWFC) chairperson Datin Fatimah Abdullah said if the issue involved other ethnic groups, it would have a slim chance of being picked-up as an issue to be used against the government.
“If I tell you about the Ibans or the Melanaus in my constituency having these problems, these ‘people’ would not pick their issues because they are of no commercial and political value,” she told reporters at the Sarawak Single Mothers’ Association Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration at Salma Villa at Jalan Depo here yesterday.
Fatimah said it was a very sensitive matter and should be dealt with carefully.
“We have to look at things in the right context,” she said.
In view of that, Fatimah said, it was best the opposition dealt with the Penan issue with sincerity.
"Last evening when I was in Bagan Pinang, I managed to get a few minutes with (MIC president) Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and asked about the MIED matter and he gave me his explanation. He explained what he meant when he said the MIED was a separate entity.
"Yes, we all know that it is a separate entity governed by trustees. The MIED is a child of MIC. It was born in the MIC with its president, Samy Vellu, as its founder.
"All the trustees and most of the board members are all MIC leaders at various levels, both past and present.
Therefore, it is a well-placed organisation, structured to serve the community for the long haul," he said in his jottings in his blog.
Over the week, newspapers and the new media on the Internet had lambasted Samy Vellu after he said that the MIED, worth RM1 billion including the party's Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST), was a separate entity from the MIC.
He was also reported to have said that since it was a separate entity, the Malaysian Indian community or the MIC had nothing to do with it, although the MIED was run under the umbrella of the largest Indian-based political party in the country.
This remark had drawn the ire of several party leaders and the community as it was a known fact that the MIED, and especially AIMST, were built on monies collected from the community and the party grassroot leaders.
"In a recent conversation with me at the MIC headquarters, Samy Vellu said that even when he is no longer president of MIC he will still be coming to the MIED office, which is in the same building, to work. I had jokingly replied 'that means the people will not be coming to see me'.
"Let us put to rest the question of the MIED walking away or being hijacked. The MIED is the pride of the Indian community. Let us keep it that way," Palanivel said.
Noting that the media had been chasing him for comment on the MIED over the week, he said he had been busy with a myriad of things including the Bagan Pinang by-election, functions in the Hulu Selangor constituency and preparations for Deepavali events for the poor.
Besides, he had never been one to comment on issues without giving them thought, neither was he one to make attempts to be seen as a champion for things when there was no necessity to do so, he said.
"Register with the Registrar of Societies as Pakatan Rakyat and the EC will not disturb any more," he said, referring to the EC's action in taking down the campaign materials of parties that are not contesting in Bagan Pinang yesterday, which turned ugly when opposition supporters surrounded the EC enforcement staff.
The contesting parties in the Bagan Pinang state by-election were PAS and the Barisan Nasional (BN) while the other parties did not pay the deposit and had no permit to campaign, he told reporters after an Aidilfitri celebration here last night.
"That's why our monitoring team took down the flags, symbols and pictures of the parties which were not contesting," he said.
Abdul Aziz said the EC had advised all the parties about this prohibition but many still persisted.
"When we take stern action, I hope that they will accept it with open hearts," he added.
He also said that his vehicle was surrounded during nomination day in Bagan Pinang on Saturday.
"Our vehicle was stopped. We were verbally abused and money was shoved at our faces. I was frightened to look at their faces and worried for our safety, like the vehicle being overturned," he said.
He said that was why the EC had advised the contesting parties not to bring along too many supporters, not more than 5,000, to accompany their supporters on nomination day but it was not heeded.
We treat national budgetting very seriously. In view of that, my party, DAP, will be officially launching tomorrow our Alternative National Budget for 2010, themed: Democratising Malaysia's Economy.
You are welcome to join us for the launch and the press conference. It will be helmed by DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng together with our Members of Parliament and state assemblymen.
Date: 7 October 2009 (Wednesday)
Time: 11.00 am
Venue: Rocket United Cafe (1st Flr), 18 Jalan SS2/63, Petaling Jaya
RSVP details here.
In the spirit of Pakatan Rakyat, our Alternative Budget will be forwarded to the coalition's Top Leadership Council for consideration and adoption, and the views and opinions of our coalition partners will be taken into due account.
We also welcome Najib to borrow our budget proposals and make some last-minute changes to his Budget Speech to cater to the needs of Malaysians' Malaysia.
For those who are interested, a copy of our Alternative Budget will be made available for download from the DAP website after the launch. Hard copy of the Alternative Budget can be purchased at RM15.
A leading Yemeni religious leader has accused Iran of inciting violence in the north of the country, where a predominantly Shia Muslim group is waging a war against the government.
"The way events are moving in this country latest indicates to us that Iran wants to export the Shia ideology by force, which we utterly reject," al-Zandani said.
The military launched a major offensive - dubbed Operation Scorched Earth - in the north on August 11 in an attempt to crush the group.
"Let them work according to what they have agreed on, and set policies for whatever they disagree on. But to doubt our religion, doubt our beliefs, pull our students, sons and people to their side and turn them against us, encourage them to carry weapons to kill us! This is rejected."
"Since about 2003 there has been a trend in Middle East politics that any civil conflict in the region which has relation with Shia or Islamists is being related to Iran," he told Al Jazeera from Amman.
"Iran has a shortage of tools to control such a situation, but there is, however, support in terms of sympathy.
"The issue of Saada needs to be looked at in a Yemeni context, in a tribal context. I think that bringing the issue of Wahabbis [a Sunni sect dominant in Saudi Arabia] and Shia to the matter is complicating the matter, not solving it."
"The government is resolved to end the unrest and reinforce security and stability in Saada province in order to focus on development and reconstruction," the Saba state news agency quoted him as telling troops heading north.
Arab governments have supported Sanaa's effort to crush the Houthis.
"We reject... any kind of rebellion and we reject any foreign interference [in Yemen]. Egypt is wholly supporting - with all its power and capabilities - its sister Yemen," Ahmed Abul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister, said on Sunday.
Prince Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi deputy interior minister, said that Riyadh was co-operating with Sanaa in its battle against the Houthis, but dismissed allegations that the Saudi air force was involved in air raids as "absolutely not true".
On Sunday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that it expects to send a convoy of relief goods within days to the displaced.
Klang: Lady arrested in Klang Police station while making a report against the Police personnel who raided her home believed to be from the anti-narcotics department for an unknown reason and took away some documents and her sons' Play Station(PS2) including several pawn shop certificates today. A Myanmar refugee who happened to be renting a room in the house she is renting was also arrested during the raid.
"His Refugee card is a valid one from the UNHCR" said a neighbor who declined to be named.
Sheila Devi (37) housewife, was arrested when she and another neighbor known as Arun went to the Klang Police Station to get back her items that has been seized for no reason. She made a report on the matter when one of the plainclothes policeman that raided her house earlier came and checked on the details of the report and got angry and start to be sarcastic at her and the neighbor. He told Sheila that she will be arrested now for protecting the illegal immigrant and handcuffed her.
The office said that if the report she is making reach the attention of his boss, he will be sacked! and said that he wont give he anymore chances for her to negotiate on anything now. Sheila was in tears when she begged the police officer to release her.
The status of the report that she made was not known.(report made to a police lady officer with her badge no: 140056) The refugees card will be sent to Putrajaya for verification said the policeman.
Earlier,about 7 Police officers went to the house at about 1.30am with 3 police vehicles and told a 14years old boy(Sheila's Son) that they want to check the house. He was unaware of their intention. While checking on the house, they arrested the Myanmar refugee who was in his room at that time. Police checked each corner of the house and took away some documents and PS2 Game console from there. The boy was asked to sit in the Police van for several minutes and warned that he will be arrested too when he grow up.
Sheila Devi is on detention at the Kapar police station until 6th Oct. Her two sons are all alone at home and their father is an odd job worker who seldom be at home. The member of Parliament of Kapar was informed last night by the writer,yet to receive any reaction from him.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — The spectre of murdered Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu today followed Datuk Seri Najib Razak all the way from home to his first official trip to Europe as prime minister in what clearly is an attempt to embarrass him publicly.
Altantuya, who suffered a gruesome death on Malaysian soil three years ago, was a former mistress to political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who is a close associate of Najib.
In an emailed statement to The Malaysian Insider said to be from Altantuya’s father, Dr Shaariibuu Setev expressed his regret that he could not be in Paris today to greet Najib because he was sick and in hospital.
“I had so wished to speak to Mr Najib and send him this message and to shake his hand,” Shaariibuu wrote.
“I hope PM Mr. Najib Razak enjoys his trip to France, where a deal with a French company which his close friend Abdul Razak Baginda help broker led to the circumstances surrounding my daughter’s murder,” he claimed.
Shaariibuu demanded Najib, who took over as prime minister in April, take full responsibility for his then 28-year-old daughter’s death.
He claims she had died while working as a translator in a secret deal to help the Malaysian government buy French submarines worth billions of Euros.
He highlighted two reports saying that Najib’s aide-de-camp, Musa Safri, had ordered two policemen to “deal with Altantuya” when she had approached her lover over her share of commissions.
The Shah Alam High Court last year found the two policemen guilty of blowing up Altantuya’s body in a Shah Alam jungle three years ago and sent them to the gallows, but cleared Abdul Razak of abetting in the murder.
Their appeal against the death sentence is pending in the Court of Appeal.
Shaariibuu last month dropped a suit against the federal government to push them to appeal against Abdul Razak’s acquittal.
However, he is still suing the government as well as Abdul Razak and the two cops for RM100 million over Altantuya’s death.
His lawyer, Karpal Singh, told reporters previously that Shaariibuu has indicated that he is willing to settle the matter out of court.
He is worried for the future of Altantuya’s two young sons who are currently living with him and his equally ill wife.
“With so many closely linked to Najib in this murder, it is impossible and irresponsible for Najib to now wash his hands off this mater (sic) and act as if none of this tragedy has befallen my daughter and my family,” Shaariibuu wrote.
“The French company involved in the Malaysian deal also cannot escape with impunity,” he added, stressing that Altantuya would have been spared if the “deal had been transparent and fair.”
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — Datuk Paul Low, who leads a task force investigating the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, has resigned immediately as president of Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) over the Global Corruption Report 2009 (GCR 2009) which had highlighted the case.
Low (picture) said he accepted full responsibility for releasing the GCR 2009 report, which TI-M said had garnered different interpretations and views including attacks of conflict of interest.
"Datuk Paul Low accepts full and sole responsibility for the release of the Malaysian Chapter in the GCR 2009," organisation secretary Dr Loi Kheng Min said in a statement.
Loi noted that the full report had not been shared with the rest of the council members, who wanted a chance to review it before it was publicised.
Low’s sudden decision to quit surprised the rest of the council, he added.
“He asked me to prepare a statement about 12 noon today. Before this, he did not indicate he was going to resign,” Loi told The Malaysian Insider over the phone this evening.
Loi said TI-M's deputy president Datuk Mohamed Iqbal has been named as acting president.
Low could not be reached for comment.
Loi said TI-M's deputy president Datuk Mohamed Iqbal has been named as acting president.
When releasing the report, Low had said the PKFZ scandal would be a positive challenge to revamp and ensure more transparency in the country's system.
"PKFZ is a black mark on the country's history, but coming out from that would be a positive challenge to revamp ourselves.
"I hope what happened in PKFZ would be a good example of what should be done for the other agencies and government-linked agencies. We cannot afford to waste our resources," said Low, who is also the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Administration and Corporate Governance, a committee set up to probe the administrative and governance practices of PKFZ.
Calling it one of the biggest scandals of the year, Low said the committee was now looking for three independent non-executive directors to sit on the board. The committee is expected to have until January 2010 to complete its task.
But PKFZ contractor Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd's (KDSB) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said days later he planned to sue Low for the PKFZ references in the GCR 2009.
He said the report was “irresponsible” as its corruption index assessment of Malaysia's private sector was only based on media reports, particularly on the PKFZ issue.
Tiong, who is also Bintulu MP and BN Backbenchers Club chairman, questioned Low's credibility in making his statement, saying he was TI-M president as well as PKFZ task force ad hoc committee chairman and a vice-president of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers.
Najib’s defence of Isa’s corruption offence a mega-tonne explosion demolishing his NKRA to “fight corruption”
By Lim Kit Siang,
The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence of Tan Sri Mohd Isa Ismail’s corruption offence as only a “technical matter” is a mega-tonne explosion demolishing one of the six National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) he announced on his Hundred Day as Prime Minister – “fighting corruption”.
Responding to the unabated criticisms of the choice of Isa as Umno/Barisan Nasional candidate for Bagan Pinang by-election, Najib told Malaysian students in Paris that Isa was chosen based on his capability and popularity, and that Isa’s offence was only a technical matter within UMNO and did not involve the judiciary of the country.
Najib said the question is whether Isa deserved a second chance or not, pointing out that in our system, even a criminal gets a second chance and can contest the post after serving his or her punishment.
Najib’s argument and logic are full of holes and do not stand up to scrutiny. They merely expose the hollowness and hypocrisy of the Najib administration in declaring “fighting corruption” as one of the six NKRA priority areas for constant assessment of “key performance indicators”.
Nobody would begrudge Isa being given a second chance if he had been fully punished for his offence of corruption, but this is not the case.
There can be no dispute by anyone that money politics whether in Umno or any other political party is pure corruption as has been publicly admitted by the former de facto Minister Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim and the current Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Commissioner, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan.
There are two questions at issue:
• firstly why Isa had not been charged in court for the corruption offence for which he had been suspended for three years as Umno member; and
• secondly, why the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission continue to close their eyes to the corruption offence committed by Isa as there is no statute of limitation for corruption prosecution and whether a policy decision had been taken to grant immunity to Isa from any corruption prosecution to allow him to contest as a candidate in the Bagan Pinang by-election.
In these circumstances, Najib had been wrongly advised in claiming that Isa had been punished for his offence and had paid for his deeds – when Isa had not even been charged in the court of law for his corruption offence.
This startling revelation of the state of affairs in the MIED emerged yesterday as the public expressed outrage over a reported move by MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu to “hijack” the entity — considered the jewel in the crown of the MIC — and turn it into an NGO headed by himself.
An insight into the MIED, worth RM1 billion and which owns AIMST, showed little involvement by the members in the affairs of the first private university in the country.
The life members comprise 25 members, seven trustees and the chairman Samy Vellu. MIED life member S. A. Vigneswaran told Malay Mail that resolutions were usually distributed to the members at the party’s Central Working Committee (CWC) meetings.
“Since almost all the members are in the CWC, they just sign the resolutions at such meetings.”
Another life member, who requested anonymity, said: “There are no discussions and most of the time these members are not in the know of developments in the MIED.”
Asked if the board of trustees could be relied upon to pass a resolution thwarting such attempts, he said: “It would be a waste of time as they are all allied to Samy Vellu.
“Further, I can think of only two occasions in recent years when they had a meeting – in 2003 and on Jan 2 this year.
“Therefore, you can’t depend on the MIED members and trustees to protect the interests of the party and community,” he said.
The life members were commenting on how the move to place the MIED under a foundation could be prevented.
Samy Vellu had reportedly said he plans to place the MIED and other NGOs he had established under a foundation to be chaired by him and other individuals, including foreigners.
The Oct 2 report that made the front pages of the Tamil newspapers quoted Samy Vellu as saying there are no links between MIED and AIMST.
Party and community leaders have responded with scathing comments that no individual be allowed to hijack the assets of the party and the community.
Vigneswaran said only a public outcry and the media could ensure MIED remains with the party. It is learnt that a nationwide campaign would be launched soon to rally support to fight to the end attempts to take MIED out of the MIC.
Their stand: The huge amounts of cash were raised from the Indian poor for the MIC’s education efforts.
Asked if there is a provision to call for an MIC extraordinary general assembly, the main proponent of the campaign, Datuk S. Subramaniam said his lawyers were looking into it.
On a statement by Samy Vellu’s son, Vell Paari, in the Tamil Nesan yesterday that the MIED is separate from MIC because political parties are not allowed to own business entities, several came out with guns blazing.
Explained one life member: “The MIED is not a business entity. It’s a trust organisation or a Section 24 company that is limited by guarantee.
“There are lots of limitations on what MIED can and cannot do.” He said in the case of the MIED, it has a board of trustees instead of directors who are elected by the life members.
Every political party has the same structure, he said. MIED trustees were reluctant to respond to our queries.
MIED was incorporated on Feb 29, 1984 as a company limited by guarantee. The initial subscribers of MIED were Samy Vellu, his chief rival Subramaniam, Tan Sri M. Mahalingam, Tan Sri K. S. Nijhar and R. Selvendara.
MIC members selling lottery tickets raised the first funds. The government also gave millions of ringgit for the building and management of the educational institutions that all came under the MIED umbrella.
MIED is currently embroiled in a scandal with Samy Vellu describing its former chief executive officer P. Chitrakala Vasu as a “thief” while she has accused the veteran politician of siphoning funds.
MIED, whose core business is providing study loans, sourced millions of ringgit from the Indian community,
received about RM300 million from the government and acquired a RM220 million loan from Bank Pembangunan Malaysia to build the AIMST campus.
The cost of construction ballooned from an initial RM230 million to close to RM500 million. MIC’s probe into the fiasco revealed the disappearance of RM5.25 million.
Meanwhile, Samy Vellu has reportedly said he is going on two months’ leave.
‘AIMST must remain MIC asset’
The senior politician, however, said he has not given up the fight for the Indian community. He is now furious over the statement of his arch nemesis, MIC president and MIED chairman Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, regarding MIED.
The founding member of MIED was appalled by Samy Vellu’s statement that the latter wanted to take MIED with him when he leaves.
Subramaniam met with the media yesterday at his residence to address the issue.
Why are you refuting Samy Vellu’s statement on MIED that was made on Malaysiakini that he will be leaving with MIED?
As a founding member of MIED, I will fight to ensure that the party and the community assets are not hijacked by any individual. MIED and AIMST must remain part of MIC’s assets. Every MIC leader and member has contributed in one way or other in making AIMST University a reality.
How was MIED funded?
Each MIC branch was told to raise RM11,000 minimum, or the branch will not be given the B Form. There
have been individual contributions as well. Somebody called up yesterday (Saturday) after Samy Vellu made his statement. That person had contributed RM100,000 to MIED because he believed that it was part of MIC and the foundation would help the Indian community.
Non-Indians have also contributed to it.
What is MIED’s financial status?
MIED received RM300 million assistance from the government. I am sure no other NGO would have received this much money. RM100 million was collected by the party and individuals. After that, RM100 million was placed into a fixed deposit account and a loan of RM220 million was taken for development.
Currently, MIED is in debt of RM300 million due to capitalised interest.
What are you going to do about this?
If there is any intention by Samy Vellu to hijack a RM1 billion company, it must be stopped immediately. I will do everything that is necessary to ensure this does not happen.
Some have said that you are getting personal with Samy Vellu and this is another pot shot at him. Your comments on this?
I have not got personal with him.
This is the interest of MIC and the Indian community that I am fighting for. I have no interest in the chairmanship. AIMST must always be an asset of MIC. That’s what I am fighting for.
MIED members list
Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu (MIC president)
1. Datuk G. Palanivel (MIC deputy president)
2. Tan Sri M. Mahalingam
3. Tan Sri K. S. Nijhar (MIC disciplinary committee chairman)
4. Tan Sri G.Vadiveloo
5. Tan Sri K. Kumaran
6. Datuk Dr. T. Marimuthu
7. Tan Sri Dr. K. Ampikaipakan
1. Datuk S. Subramaniam
2. Datuk S. Veerasingam (Perak MIC chief)
3. Datuk S. Sothinathan
4. S. A. Vigneswaran
5. Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam (MIC vice-president)
6. Datuk S. Ganesan
7. Datuk R. Ganesan
8. Datin Paduka Komala Krishnamoorthy (MIC Wanita chief)
9. Kamala Ganapathy
10. Datuk K. S. Balakrishnan (Johor MIC chief)
11. Datuk V. Saravanan
12. Datuk Dr L. Krishnan
13. Datuk G. Rajoo
14. Senator Datuk M. Ratnam
15. Datuk K. R. A. Naidu
16. Datuk M. Saravanan (MIC vice-president)
17. Senator N. S. Krishnan
18. Datuk M. Ramachandran
19. P. Chitrakala Vasu
20. Datuk R. Raghavan
21. Datuk M. Davendran (Pahang MIC chief)
22. Datuk T. Rajagopalu (Negri Sembilan MIC chief)
23. Datin Paduka Jaya Partiban
24. Datuk Chandrasegar Suppiah
25. Datuk N. Selladurai.
Subra, Sothi unite
DEFEATED MIC deputy presidential candidates Datuk S. Subramaniam and Datuk S. Sothinathan appear to be united in this cause.
Subramaniam, a MIED founder member, has urged the community to rise and unite to save what’s theirs before it is lost.
He also urged MIE D directors, most of them allied with Samy Vellu, to do their duty and speak up to save the assets of the party and the community.
He said he did the concept paper for MIED, raised funds along with MI C branches and division for MIED and AIMST.
“Every MIC member and leader in one way or other has contributed to making AIMST a reality,” said Subramaniam.
“It is a collective achievement of the MIC as a whole and not an accomplishment of any individual.” Sothinathan said: “It is public knowledge that MIE D is part of MIC. It will be like stabbing the Indian community in the back if his (Samy Vellu’s) statement comes true. It’s a form of betrayal.”
Meanwhile, MIED trustee Tan Sri M. Mahalingam refused to comment when contacted yesterday.
by Ding Jo-Ann
Ever felt that Malaysians need to get out more and mix with people from other races and religions? And be open to dialogue with each other even if they hold different views?
Cultural studies expert Professor Ien Ang would probably agree, as demonstrated in her recent public lecture on multiculturalism. Ang, who is Distinguished Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Western Sydney, Australia said Malaysia was not alone in trying to figure out how to live with a multicultural society.
Speaking at a public lecture at Universiti Malaya on 28 Sept 2009, she said globalisation has fuelled vast movements of not just goods, but also people, across national borders. Rapid and constant changes in the population have posed challenges for nation states around the world on how to live with diverse views and perspectives within their society.
Dialogue between cultures
Ang said intercultural dialogue was needed in dealing with the multicultural question plaguing many nations today. "People and groups that are not normally brought together need to be brought together to dialogue," she said.
She noted that such dialogue was important even if the different groups did not necessarily agree with each other's views. "It is enough that people get used to living together and develop habits of co-existence. Inter-cultural dialogue is about becoming comfortable with living with the presence of people very different from ourselves," she continued.
Ang cited a survey which showed that younger Australians were more accepting of their multicultural reality than the older generation. They even felt that living with others was essential to their sense of belonging to contemporary Australia, she said.
Asked how the younger generation came to this understanding, Ang attributed it to the public education system and an environment where children from different cultural backgrounds could mingle and grow up together.
"The public education [system] did have a major role in inculcating the notion that Australia is a multicultural country," she said. "But more than that, the practice of just growing up with people from many different countries probably contributed to the change," she added.
"Children would go to school with other children from so many different nationalities. People's situations just made it so natural to live together with people from many different backgrounds. They become friends and get to know people. They become more used to it and are more appreciative of different people."
Consensus not as important as dialogue
Ang elaborated that it was the dialogue itself that was important and that consensus need not be a goal. "They need to focus not so much on shared values or a common culture but [on getting] to know each other and [learning] from each other. It is the process that matters, not the product," she said.
Ang recognised that tension and racial conflict would probably never go away even with the presence of dialogue. "Intercultural dialogue is not the solution to all the problems. It is a method that needs to be adopted so that problems don't escalate," she said. She also acknowledged that while intercultural dialogue can be delightful, "it can also be very vexing".
And what happens if dialogue is refused by one party? "If people don't want to talk, there's not much that can be done but to keep trying," she said.
A Qassam rocket fired from Gaza towards southern Israel, January 2009 (© paffairs_sanfrancisco / Wiki Commons)
Ang cited the example of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where negotiations would often break down because one side refused to speak to the other. "There was a constant refusal of dialogue and then a process of coming back together which would be initiated," she said. "If dialogue is refused, there might be an escalation of conflict. If that happens, parties then need to get back to where the conversation can be restarted."
Multiculturalism not enough
Interestingly, Ang said adopting multiculturalism as a model, as Malaysia has done, was not enough to promote dialogue. Multiculturalism allowed for the proliferation of diverse groups but it did not necessarily encourage interaction amongst them, she said.
In answering a question regarding the break-up of the former Yugoslavia along ethnic lines, Ang said there was diversity in Yugoslavia but it had been defined in very rigid ways. Different groups such as the Bosnians, Croatians and Serbs were seen as mutually exclusive and "that's where the problem starts".
Ang elaborated that identities were not rigid and tended to overlap. "It's not that once you're an Indian, you're always an Indian or if you're Chinese, you're completely Chinese," she said. "Personhood consists of many parts which have nothing at all to do with ethnicity," she added.
"Intercultural dialogue avoids the creation of very rigid definitions," Ang said. "This would promote better inter-connectedness between different groups."
Creating spaces for intercultural dialogue
Ang said intercultural dialogue should be actively promoted as sharing was usually the exception rather than the norm in contemporary societies. "People tend to cluster and many cluster around perspectives informed by their ethnicity," she said. "Perspectives however can change and people often hold several at the same time. Sharing is not automatic, it has to be established."Where are the spaces for intercultural dialogue amongst Malaysians? Do Malaysians of diverse backgrounds and perspectives have sufficient opportunity to associate, and dialogue, with each other at work, school or elsewhere?
Two recent initiatives come to mind as examples of intercultural dialogue with a respectful and open mind: the visit by a group of people from different religious backgrounds to the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Shah Alam following the cow-head incident and the Fast for the Nation, Peace for Malaysia initiative.However, are there many other concerted efforts to create spaces for Malaysians to interact and dialogue on a daily basis? Perhaps it is time that Malaysians stopped merely acknowledging the existence of the 'other' people and deliberately looked for ways to dialogue and engage with each other.
According to him, most of the leaders from the Opposition were seen to be willing to change their stand just to gain popularity and support from the people.
Some of them, he said, were willing to declare as "halal" (permissible in Islam) what they used to say were "haram" (forbidden in Islam) simply to please former enemies who now had become partners in the Opposition's Pakatan coalition.
"I think things will only get worse (if the Opposition comes into power at the federal level). Their leaders are willing to make "halal" everything. Previously, PAS (one of the Opposition's coalition members) had said cooperation with non-Muslims would make one an infidel but now not only are they cooperating with non-Muslims, they are also saying it is okay to rear pigs, only that Muslims should not consume pork.
"PAS quotes the Quran that pork is "haram" but that it did not say pigs cannot be reared. Going by this, it means we (Muslims) can rear pigs, can sell pork but not eat it. Just because they want the cooperation of some people, they are willing to compromise on their principles," he told reporters here on Monday.
The other parties in the Opposition Pakatan coalition are the Chinese dominated DAP and multiracial Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
Earlier, he had delivered a lecture entitled "Dari Minda Tun, Ketuanan Melayu" (From Tun's Mind, Malay Supremacy) at Dewan Aspirasi Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Terengganu here.
Also present was UiTM vice chancellor, Tan Sri Prof Dr Ibrahim Abu Shah.
Mahathir further explained that Malaysia could ill-afford leaders who were inconsistent in their stand just for the sake of gaining popularity.
"It is just the same with another leader who is a now a strong supporter of Hindraf (the banned Hindu Rights Action Force movement)," he said without naming who he was referring to.
Commenting on the future of Umno, the backbone of the BN, he said the party was still relevant but its leaders and members must be wise and brave in taking "corrective measures".
"If a leader does something that is not good, they must voice out...I laud the appointment of Senator Datuk Seri Idris Jala as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department. There should be more appointments from outside the party in government leadership positions," he said.
In his speech, Mahathir urged bumiputera students to be brave in competing with other races, including in pursuing higher education in private tertiary institutions that were not dominated by bumiputeras like UiTM.
They should prove their ability to compete by enrolling in institutions like Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman, he added.
Taib, 73, said as one who was loyal to the party, he could not make the decision himself as the party's struggle was his priority.
"I have stated openly that I could step down (as PBB president) anytime, but the party asked me to wait first, so I've left it to the party to decide," he said when simultaneously opening the meetings of the PBB branches at the Datuk Amar Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan's Sports Hall, here, on Monday.
Taib, who is also state Finance Minister and Planning and Resource Management Minister, said the Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) had always made leadership transformation and this was proven by the fielding of 25 per cent new faces as candidates in each state election.
He said the smooth transformation in PBB and that in the other state BN component parties in the spirit of unity, and where the elders were willing to make way for younger leaders, had been the foundation for BN's strength in Sarawak.
Taib, who is also Balingian assemblyman, said PBB as the backbone of Sarawak BN had its own style and distinctive politics to continue serving the people and developing the state.
He said Sarawak did not need to change its government for transformation as what happened in some states in the peninsula, as its development policies had always been in tandem with national development needs.
Taib said since BN had been governing the state, it had brought about much change not only in the urban areas but the rural and remote areas as well.
"Sarawak has its own ways. Changing the government for transformation is not our style, as a government change may not bring much good but a lot of problems instead, as can be seen in some of the opposition-controlled states in the peninsula."
Taib said besides economic development through the creation of the Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (SCORE), focus was also given to capacity-building by producing more skilled manpower through educational development.
Meanwhile at the same function, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who is also PBB deputy president, said the party members gave their full support to Taib to continue leading the party.
He said the 71 PBB branches in Sarawak would also continue to support the politics of development mooted by Taib.
The support did not only come from PBB, but all the other Sarawak BN component parties, namely Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), he added.
He said position was not important to him as he wanted to serve the people in the constituency.
"I was not promised any position in the state government. I was only asked by the top leadership to be the BN candidate, and should I win, I will continue to serve as the elected representative for the people in my own village," he told reporters here, on Monday.
He disclosed this when asked to comment on the media report whether he would be made a State Executive Councillor should he win the Bagan Pinang by-election.
Earlier, he and Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan had attended a Hari Raya gathering organised by the Malaysian Armed Forces Civilian Employees Union (Kesatria) and the Negeri Sembilan Defence Ministry Staff Club (Kakep NS), here.
Mohd Isa said this was the first time that he had intended to serve the people in the Bagan Pinang constituency, which was his home town.
"My intention is to continue serve the people in Bagan Pinang as their elected representative.
"I'm contesting merely to win the Bagan Pinang state seat, that's all...I wasn't promised anything," he said.
Meanwhile, when asked whether he would reshuffle the State Executive Council, Mohamad said the matter did not arise because the priority now was to ensure that the BN won in Bagan Pinang.
"I will give full concentration to ensure victory for the BN in Bagan Pinang, and the matter (reshuffle of the Executive Council) will be considered later," the Menteri Besar added.