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Friday, October 16, 2009

HINDRAF INVITED TO HOUSE OF COMMONS DEEPAVALI CELEBRATIONS 15th October 2009






HINDRAF was today invited to attend  Deepavali  celebrations at the House of Commons  London held between 4.00pm to 6.00 pm.

 The celebrations was hosted by Rt.Hon. Tony McNulty MP. More than 300 community leaders throughout UK attended the colorful event. Bajan and aarthi was conducted by Narottam Virji Lakhani Foundation.

Enclosed are photos of Hindraf members who attended which included  Ram Narayanasamy Solicitor, Appalasamy Rao Solicitor and businessman saravanananthar.

Waytha Moorthy

Kapitan Lim Guan Eng’s Indian mandore’s Deepavali message: Break up cow sheds

Kapitan Lim Guan Eng’s Indian mandore’s Deepavali message: Break up cow sheds to UMNO developer “ Don’t Break up the Kg Buah Pala cow sheds now, but feel free to break them after Deepavali” (Deepavali reprieve for cowherds, The Sun 16/10/2009 at page 8) DAP, PKR and PASs’ regular defence is that they have been in power only for about 1 ½ years and they need time to attend to the 52 year old problems created by UMNO. But why then is DAP so quick to break and demolish? On the reverse argument this breaking and demolishment of Kg Buah Pala by the DAP led state government in Penang, the hindu temple demolishment in Ampang by the PKR led Selangor state government and the hindu temple demolishment in Sg Petani by the PAS led Kedah state government can on a similar note also wait for 52 years! Why then the haste in breaking but the slow pace in building or at least preserving the history and heritage of the Indians in Malaysia? Happy Deepavali DAP, PKR and PAS!

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Orders came from Putrajaya, says MACC intelligence man

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, Oct 16 — The order to investigate Teoh Beng Hock’s state lawmaker boss for alleged corruption came from Putrajaya, a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) intelligence officer told the coroner's court today, hinting at a far more complex turn of events in Pakatan Rakyat-ruled Selangor.

Teoh was the political secretary to first-term Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah. The MACC had called him in on July 15 as a witness to help investigate claims Ean Yong, who is also the DAP state assemblyman for Seri Kembangan, had misused his allowance meant to help residents in his constituency.

The 30-year-old Teoh was found mysteriously dead nine floors below outside the Selangor MACC office here the next day.

His family and employer claim foul play was involved.

DAP breaks cowshed for Deepavali. Happy Deepavali Kapitan Lim Guan Eng. Well done!

DAP breaks cowshed for Deepavali. Happy Deepavali Kapitan Lim Guan Eng. Well done! (Refer Malaysia Nanban 16/10/2009 front page and 13)

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Pas you need to change

By Tohkong Mosjid (Harakah)

PAS, since you are going to do a post-mortem on your embarrassing loss in Bagan Pinang, I would like to take this opportunity to offer some sincere opinion on how you should move forward from now on.

1. PAS is too caught up in BN's political game

For the past many many years, Election Commission (EC) has been known as the provider of the voters data on the area where an election will be held. For instance, in the recently concluded Bagan Pinang's election, below was the data provided by EC.

From the data below, have you asked yourself these questions before (below)?

1. Why was the voters data breakdown according to race?
2. Was it the most convenient way for EC to breakdown voters?
3. Was it because Barisan Nasional (BN) wanted EC to distinguish the voters by race?
4. Was it done purposely by EC to suit BN's ideology and component party's assignment? For instance, UMNO will need to work for the Malay votes, while MCA will figure out how to attract the Chinese votes and lastly MIC will do its part to charm the Indian voters?
5. Has PAS realized that they have fell into this race-based politics subconsciously by following the data provided by EC?

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Table 1: Voters breakdown according to race.

Honestly PAS, what came to your mind, when you took the first glance at those kind of voters breakdown in Table 1 on every election that you had participated?

Would you humbly admit that you were figuring out ways to woo the voters according to their race? More often than not, listed below were roughly the ideas that came right into the mind of most PAS politicians upon looking at Table 1 data:

a. To woo the Malays, the issues you were probably going to talk about were the Islamic issues, the welfare of civil servants and perhaps a little playing on the sentiment of Malay rights - (which had nothing to do with other races).

b. To woo the Chinese, you would probably switched your tune and try to portray yourself as being liberal and fair Muslim politicians while you kept painting UMNO as the real devil for playing extreme racial issues to create fear among the Chinese � (which did not concern the Malay voters).

c. Too woo the Indians, the issues that you would probably be playing will be on how BN marginalised them while trying to pin their sorry state on MIC -- (which had nothing to do with the Chinese and Malay voters).

Because of being too caught up with the BN's political game, PAS forgot that they are a multi-racial party who fights for Islam. The word "multi-racial" was nowhere to be found in their mind even though PAS has a lot of Chinese-Muslim and Indian-Muslim brothers in their ranks (some even become MP or Aduns of PAS).

2. Try looking from a different angle, PAS. (An example)

This is where PAS has to change its way of seeing things. Now, lets try to see an example below on the voters breakdown from a different angle.

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Table 2: Voters breakdown according to age.

Ok, PAS, what came to your mind after seeing the data in Table 2, assuming you are going to have an election soon?

You'll probably start listing down problems affecting the different age groups in the area and think about ways to persuade them to vote for PAS. In short, how are you going to woo the young, middle age and elder voters to vote for you.

For examples:

a. For Malaysians age 21-35, this group of people probably suffering from low wages and unemployment (for those who has just graduated), financially-strained to send their children to schools (for young family), poor quality of their children�s education due to insufficient teachers and schools equipments locally. To persuade this age group to vote for you, you can do your best to utilize the Internet to enlighten them politically about your struggle and party.

b. For Malaysians age 36-50, these people probably pay more attention to their surrounding community, society well-being (crime rate etc) and follow national politics closely. To woo this group of voters, you will probably think of ways to address their bread and butter, infrastructure and facilities issues that are affecting their daily life. You can also play some sentiments on some national policies and issues and try to address their concern about their children's future (University or beyond) to eliminate their fear of voting for you.

c. For Malaysians age 51-70, most of the people belonging to this group are so attached to BN (If not, how come BN can rule for 50 years and beyond? To woo this group of voters, you can use some ideas to reason with them about their unquestioned support to BN for over 50 years. You can make them realize that their undying support for BN has turned BN into a corrupted machine beyond control. And it is their responsibility to make things right again, by voting for you. You can share the country's predicament and while playing their guilty feeling of letting Malaysia to go into such failed state to be inherited by their children and grandchildren.

Can you see the difference in the range of issues you are trying to raise when you try to distinguish the voters based on Table 2 rather than Table 1? Did you notice the issues you were (in a, b and c) indirectly touches a lot of common issues faced by all races, by just changing the perspective you see things?

3. Change the way you see the breakdown on voters to avoid self-made traps

Lately, the bad perception on PAS were mostly self-inflicted. Most of those traps were laid by PAS's own leaders because of their way of viewing things racially. If PAS was to view voters and issues from the 'age' angle, do you think those beer and concert issues would still pop up? Unlikely so.

PAS probably would have focus on issues like drug abuses, the rampant incest cases, abnormal increase in brothels and prostitution, impoverishment, Mat Rempits, unemployment, low productivity in civil servants, corruption and setting up own corruption police to monitor Pakatan government's deal. Don't all these issues listed above sound a lot better and acceptable than those of beers, concerts and even SELCAT?

In PAS, I can sense that only Tok Guru Nik Aziz treats PAS as a multi-racial party. Due to that, those statements that he made were always easier to be accepted by all community alike because his statements go far beyond racial lines. His statements touched more on common humanity values, struggles and beliefs because of the way he sees things. Unfortunately, how many PAS members appreciate TGNA's leadership from this angle?

Have you give a deep thought about why TGNA wanted a Chinese-Muslim to replace him as Menteri Besar more than anyone else? I believe his noble intention for finding a Chinese-Muslim successor is to send the ultimate message to all PAS members and Malaysians - that PAS doesn't distinguish people by race; as long as you are a Muslim, you can be the Prime Minister of Malaysia. If you are a non-Muslim, we'll take care of you as well in our government policies based on the true Islamic way.

Sadly, you can't deny that a lot of PAS members treat PAS like a Malay party (like UMNO). The only thing that differentiate them, is their belief - they are the true fighters for Islam while UMNO is not. To a certain extent, some of them even acted like UMNO. (I believe this is also the source of sadness to TGNA.)

By changing the way PAS sees things, I truly believe that they can actually avoid a lot of self-made traps while regaining their support from every Malaysian. By not viewing things racially, you move away from those issues that only affect certain races. On the positive note, you are able to raise more common issues affecting every Malaysian and that is what makes you a truly Malaysian party.

If PAS can adopt this change successfully, I'm sure PAS can reduce a lot of collision with their partners in Pakatan in terms of ideologies and issues. And the best thing is, PAS can easily bring their fights and issues across to East Malaysia as those issues are going to be usable (because it is not racial issues) and move on as the big brother of Pakatan in their march to Putrajaya.

Image Breaking down the voters by age is just an example. There are a lot of other ways to breakdown the voters, such as income-based breakdown (low, middle, high) and distinguish them by jobs (farmers, fishermen, blue-collar workers, white-collar workers, civil servants, teachers, housewives and etc).

4. PAS, you can do it.

I do not know what's the real reason behind the 'fasting' culture in Islam. In my opinion, fasting is the hardest thing for a human to do; because 'hunger' is the most cruel feeling a human ever want to experience in his life time.

I tried fasting before, 3 days in a row in fact. It took me a lot of will to not to drink a single drop of water for 14 hours a day, for 3 straight days. It was a very tiring experience, as I needed to wake up early for my sahur. With the agony of continuously being in hunger and lack of sleep, actually I was surprised by my determination to have lasted for 3 days.

The test of willpower to not to drink or eat anything for 14 hours was very challenging to me. I succeeded for 3 freaking days, and I learnt a valuable lesson behind the ordeal of my 3-days fasting; "If I set my mind and will to do it, I can do it."

In the end, I think I finally understand why Islam encourages their followers to fast - it is an continuous exercise to train their will power against the toughest challenge on earth 'hunger' (as hunger is the worst temptation of all temptations for a human).

If you can resist the hunger temptation for 30 days (plus another 6 days in Syawal for some) a year as a Muslim, there's no reason for you to not being able to achieve other things in life. If you can understand the true value of 'fasting' and apply it in your daily life, I believe you can achieve anything you want as long as you put your mind and will to it. In fact this invaluable lesson can be applied to a lot of other things in life, like resisting oneself against the constant temptation of receiving bribes, the temptation of lying and temptation of doing evil by oppressing the minorities. Because of this practice and belief in Islam, I believe Muslims are the humans with the 'strongest will' on Earth.

Sorry, I digress, let's us get back to the objective of this article.

To ask an old man to change a trait in his attitudes and perspectives is hard, and I admit it is even harder to ask an old party like PAS who has over a million members nationwide to change. But PAS, you can do it. If you can endure the toughest challenge of God's test of fasting every year for 36 days, you certainly can make that change for the greater good.

Please be reminded that the 'change' I mentioned was not about your ideologies and struggles; I am just suggesting to you to change the way you see things. Change takes a lot of courage and will because it comes with a lot of resistance. To 'change a culture one has to be as persistent as the way he withstood his hunger in the fasting month.

PAS, try to make this change of 'seeing voters breakdown from other perspectives' instead of race and adopt it as a new culture. In the mean time, please ask those controversial PAS leaders to 'fast' their mouth (not food-related) and train their thoughts into this new culture before breaking their 'fast'.

In a short period of time, I believe you are going to be back on track to replace UMNO as the most influential party in Malaysia.

5. Party for 1-Malaysian

Once you are able to change the way you see things, you will automatically start to change the way you think, and lastly it will change the way you talk (approach) on issues. You practice this long enough (treat it like a fasting test), it will stick on your mind, and you never have to worry about self-made traps again. Once you reach that stage, there's no need to afraid of any UMNO's provocation in the future.

In the end (after adapting to this change), you will realise that you do not abandon your Islamic principles, instead you just throw away your racial spectacles. By then, you can proudly say you are a party for 1-Malaysian (notice the extra 'n') instead of the BN's 1Malaysia that no one understands until now.

6. Fitting nicely in Pakatan

PAS - a MULTI-RACIAL party who fights for Islam.
PKR - a MULTI-RACIAL party who believes in fairness to all races.
DAP - a MULTI-RACIAL party who fights for real democracy in Malaysia.

In the end, we can proudly call our Pakatan Rakyat coalition as a MULTI-RACIAL coalitionsepo who fights for human rights to ensure fairness through democracy based on Islam.

What say you, PAS?

Image Penulis adalah seorang pemuda bukan Islan yang sangat berminat dengan politik PAS namun dia mempunyai pandangan tersendiri tentang parti Islam ini._

Ku Li says Umno reforms not good enough

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — While welcoming the constitutional changes in Umno, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said the amendments approved this week did not go far enough to check the influence of warlords and the prevalence of vote-buying.

He said the amendment to allow more delegates to vote for office bearers was not enough to check abuses such as vote-buying.

The Gua Musang MP pointed out that he had proposed three years ago that all Umno members be allowed to elect the party president, his deputy, the vice-presidents and supreme council members.

"All members should be allowed to vote not just the delegates, to check the influence of warlords and money politics," he said.

He pointed out that there was no quorum for the annual meetings in many branches because this was not an election year and no money was being handed out.

"The party needs to correct this attitude because the members are motivated by ‘lollies’ and money," he said.

He said Umno must also change the way it selects candidates for elections and should consider emulating the system in the United States where primaries are held.

The system allows members in a particular constituency to select leaders who they know will serve the people, he said.

"Umno should stop the nonsense, where the leadership selects candidates because it did not work during the March general election last year."

He said many previous leaders did not go to their constituencies and only returned when VIPs were around.

At the same time, he said, Umno should not stop at just constitutional reforms but change the attitude of leaders.

Discord in PKR over Zaid’s role

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — Matters which have been percolating for weeks boiled over at PKR’s emergency political bureau meeting on Tuesday night.

A decision was made that Datuk Zaid Ibrahim should not go to Sabah and Sarawak this weekend as a result of the open revolt by divisions there.

PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim believes that Sabah PKR needs new leadership but 17 of 23 divisions in the state do not want any leader sanctioned by Kuala Lumpur foisted on them.

Several PKR leaders here believe that by going to Sabah and Sarawak, Zaid would be sending the wrong signal and not showing solidarity with party headquarters.

But party insiders say that a schism between Zaid and others in PKR had been inevitable given their different styles in running the political party.

Several PKR officials are troubled by Zaid's gung-ho approach to solving problems and pushing for a common platform with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners.

Zaid had been brought into the party with great fanfare by Anwar earlier this year.

The former Umno man had been given the task of crafting a common platform for the PR coalition to take into the next general election, with an eye towards taking Putrajaya.

Zaid was brought into PKR earlier this year. — File pic

But The Malaysian Insider understands that he has faced obstacles not just from PAS and DAP but from within his own party.

Some PKR officials believe that he has ambitions to eventually lead the party — a possibility if Anwar is convicted for sodomy.

These leaders see Zaid as a threat to them. They are also suspicious about whether a more inclusive and multiracial approach will be enough to win over the majority of voters.

Zaid's supporters in the party say that he has stepped on toes because he believes that Malaysians are ready to embrace multiracialism.

His stand, that PKR has a historic opportunity to become a platform of multiracialism, has not gone down well with some party leaders.

Zaid is understood to be reconsidering his position in the party and may choose to take a step back.

But what is clear is that breakdown in relations between several PKR leaders and Zaid is the last thing which the party and the PR alliance needs at this point.

Despite a winning streak in by-elections in Peninsular Malaysia since Election 2008 that was only broken last week in Bagan Pinang, the coalition remains fragile.

PAS and DAP have been squabbling publicly over their respective Islamic and secular stand on government policy.

PKR has also been faced with problems in Selangor, with the threat of defections from among its rank still a potential threat.

And without strong units in Sabah and Sarawak, the federal opposition can forget about governing Malaysia.

A Constitution of Consensus*

By Tengku Razaleigh,

I am honoured that you have asked me to address you today. I am not a scholar. All I can offer today are the personal views of a Malaysian who has seen a little of the history of this marvelous country, and tried to play my part in it.

I say a marvelous country, because Malaysia, for all its frustrations and perils, is truly special, truly beautiful. We are a coming together of communities, cultures, traditions and religions unlike anything anywhere else. It is not in political sloganeering or in tourist jingos that we find our special nature. We recover it only by paying attention to the concrete details of our everyday life and our particular history. Wonder is found in the details.

Remembering our stories

Let me tell you a story:

I grew up in Kota Bharu. My father was fond of Western cuisine and had a Hainanese cook who prepared the dishes he enjoyed.

One day, while the cook was feeding the tigers in our home, a piece of meat got stuck in between the bars of the cage. – I should explain that we had a mini zoo in our home. My father was fond of animals and we shared a home with tigers, a bear, crocodiles and other creatures in the compound. The animals were very fond of my father. The tigers would come up to him to have their backs stroked. The bear would accompany him on his walks around the garden. The crocodiles made their escape in one of Kota Bharu’s annual floods, which I always remember as a happy time because of the water sports it made possible. My father sent us out to look for them. What he expected us to do when we found them I am not sure. –

To return to my story, one day the cook was feeding the tigers, and a piece of meat got stuck between the bars of the cage. The cook tried to dislodge it. As he did so, he failed to notice the tiger. The tiger swatted his hand. Within twenty four hours, our poor cook was dead from the infection caused by the wound.

Our family was in grief. He was dear to us all. He had no known relatives. So my father took it upon himself to arrange a full Chinese funeral for the cook, complete with a brass band and procession, and invited all the cook’s friends. We children followed in respect as the process wove its way through the town.

Your own stories, if you recall the actual details, will be no less strange than my own. Some of the details here might scandalize people in these supposedly more enlightened times. They don’t fit into the trimmed down, sloganized narratives of who we are and how we came to be. This is over the years we have allowed politics to tell us who we are and how we should remember ourselves. We have let political indoctrination, jingoism, and a rising tide of bad taste overcome our memory of ourselves. We have let newspapers, textbooks and even university courses paint a crude picture of who we are, what we fear and what we hope for. This depletes our culture, but there is also a political consequence:

The picture that our current politics paints of us is devoid of wonder, and therefore of possibility.

Our politics has become an enemy of our sense of wonder. Instead it has sown doubt, uncertainty and fear. These are disabling emotions. It is not by accident that authoritarian regimes everywhere begin their subjugation of people by cutting them off from their past. Systematically, they replace the richly textured memories of a community that make people independent, inquisitive and open with prefabricated tales that weaken them into subjugation through fear and anxiety. They destroy the markers of memory, the checks and balances of tradition and institution, and replace them with a manufactured set of images all pointing to a centralized power.

Our path to the recovery of a sense of nationhood is not through an equally crude reaction, but through a retrieval of our personal and collective memory of living in this blessed land and sharing it each other. The work done by the contributors to this volume are part of a civilizing project to bring to light the fine detail of who we are, against the politicised and commercialised caricatures that have made our racialised politics seem natural and inevitable.

Our own stories, individually and as a country, are full of curious processions, walking bears, and escaped crocodiles. We should begin to wonder again at this amazing country we find ourselves sharing. In that wonder we shall recover what it is we love about being who we are, who we are amongst, and we shall more fiercely defend not just our own, but each others’ freedoms.

A Constitution of Consensus

One place for us to begin this process together is our Federal Constitution.

The spirit in which Malaysia came to be is captured in our Constitution. At the moment of our independence, Malaysia possessed firm foundations in the rule of law and was permeated with a spirit of constitutionalism.

The pledge contained within the proclamation of Independence says that “…with God’s blessing [Malaysia] shall be forever a sovereign democratic and independent State founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations.”

The Constitution is the ultimate safeguard of our fundamental liberties. These are liberties which cannot be taken away.

One view put out by those who are impatient with these safeguards is that our Constitution is an external and Western imposition upon us, that it is the final instrument of colonialism. People have drawn on this view to subject the Constitution to some higher or prior principle, be it race, religion or royalty. Of course, the proponents of such views tend to identify themselves with these higher principles in order to claim extra-constitutional powers. These are transparent attempts at revisionism which erode the supremacy of the Constitution. We should have the confidence to reject such moves politely but firmly, whoever advocates them, whatever their social or religious status.

The truth is that our Constitution was built by a deliberately consultative process aimed at achieving consensus. The Reid Commission was proposed by a constitutional conference in London attended by four representatives of the Malay Rulers, the Chief Minister of the Federation, Tunku Abdul Rahman and three other ministers, and also by the British High Commissioner in Malaya and his advisers. This conference proposed the appointment of an independent commission to devise a constitution for a fully self-governing and independent Federation of Malaya. Their proposal was accepted by the Malay Rulers and Queen Elizabeth.

The Reid Commission met 118 times in Kuala Lumpur between June and October 1956, and received 131 memoranda from various individuals and organisations. The commission submitted its working draft on 21 February 1957, which was scrutinised by a Working Committee. The Working Committee consisted of four representatives from the Malay rulers, another four from the Alliance government, the British High Commissioner, the Chief Secretary, and the Attorney General.

On the basis of their recommendations, the new Federal Constitution was passed by the Federal Legislative Council on August 15, 1957, and the Constitution took effect on August 27.

As you can tell from this narrative, the Commission solicited the views of all sections of our society and had, throughout, the support and participation of the Malay Rulers and the Alliance government. The process preserved the sovereignty of the Malay Rulers

The resulting document, like all things man-made, remains perfectible, but most certainly it is ours. It brought our nation into being, and it is our document.

The question of whether the Federation should be an islamic state, for example, was considered and rejected by the Rulers and by the representatives of the people. Had we wanted to be ruled by syariah, the option was on the shelf, so to speak, and could easily have been taken, because prior to this the states were ruled by the Sultans according to syariah law. The fact that we have a constitution governed by common law is not an accident nor an external imposition. We chose to found our nation on a secular constitution after consultation and deliberation.

Our country was built on the sophisticated and secure foundation of a Constitution that we formed for ourselves. For us to continue to grow up as a country we need to own, understand and defend it.

Sadly part of the memory we have lost is of our Constitution and of the nature of that Constitution. Today, in the aftermath of the scene-shifting election results of March 2008, people are restless and uneasy about the ethnic relations, and about their future. There is a sense of anxiety about our nation that is often translated into fear of ethnic conflict.

I think we should not fear. On an inviolable foundation of equal citizenship, the rights of each and every community are protected. These protections are guaranteed in the Constitution. What we should be uneasy about is not so much ethnic discord, which is often manufactured for political ends and has little basis in the daily experience of our citizens, but the subversion of our Constitution. Such subversion is only possible if we forget that this Constitution belongs to us, protects us all, and underwrites our nationhood and we fail to defend it.

Our country had a happy beginning in being built on firm foundations in the rule of law. A strong spirit of constitutionalism guided our early decades. The components of that spirit are respect and understanding for the rule of law, and the upholding of justice and liberty. That spirits is antithetical to communal bickering and small-minded squabbling over fixed pie notions of education, economy or whatever. That spirit has declined and with it has come all kinds of unease. It is time we recovered it. With its recovery will come our confidence as a nation once more.

The political framework of this country cries out for reform. But reform is not about the blind embrace of the new. That would be to fly from disorder to confusion. Our path to reform must come from a recovery of the “old” living spirit of Constitutionalism, and the “old” values of freedom and justice, and the “old” memories each of us carries in themselves of what is good about our nation.

So far I have spoken more generally about principles. I want to turn now to some examples of how these can work out in pursuing particular reforms.

National reform must begin with reform of our party system. This is because one of the chief reasons this nation is sick is that we have a diseased party system. A diagnosis of the disease of the party system finds that the parties are sick because they have strayed from from the Constitutional principles that govern them (they are subject to the Societies Act). In doing so they have become undemocratic. In becoming undemocratic they have lost legitimacy. In losing legitimacy they have lost public support and the ability to rejuvenate themselves. The cure, surely is for them to conform themselves again to constitutional principles.

I have warned that Umno, like any other political party that has been in power for so long, must reform, or it will be tossed out by the people. The people themselves have had a taste of the power of their free vote. They know that parties and governments answer to the people, and not vice versa, they want a repeal of draconian laws, and they have lost patience with corruption. They seek accountability, justice and rule of law. The people are ahead of the government of the day, but the principles they want to see applied are universal, and they are enshrined in our Constitution.
It is not just Umno that needs to reform. The entire political system needs to change, to be in greater conformity with our Constitution and in the spirit of the Rukun Negara, which says from these diverse elements of our population, we are dedicated to the achievement of a united nation in which loyalty and dedication to the nation shall over-ride all other loyalties.’”

We should not expect our political parties to reform of their own accord. Leaders who owe their position to undemocratic rules and practices are the last people to accept reform. The people must demand it. I say we need a movement embraced by people at all levels and from every quarter of our rakyat, to establish a national consensus on how our political parties should conduct themselves from now on. In the spirit of the Rukun Negara, That consensus should be based on a set of principles such as the following:

1. All political parties are required to include in their constitutional objectives the equality of citizenship as provided for in the Federal Constitution.

2. An economic and political policy that political parties propagate must not discriminate against any citizen.

3. All parties shall include and uphold constitutional democracy and the separation of powers as a fundamental principle.

4. It shall be the duty of all political parties to adhere to the objectives of public service and refrain from involvement in business, and ensure the separation of business from political parties.

5. It shall be the duty of all political parties to ensure and respect the independence of the judiciary and the judicial process.

6. All parties shall ensure that the party election system will adhere to the highest standards of conduct, and also ensure that the elections are free of corrupt practices. Legislation should be considered to provide funding of political parties.

7. It shall be the duty of all parties to ensure that all political dialogues and statements will not create racial or religious animosity.

8. All parties undertake not to use racial and communal agitation as political policies.

9. To remove and eradicate all barriers that hinder national unity and Malaysian identity.

10. To uphold the Federal and State Constitutions and its democratic intent and spirit, the Rule of Law, and the fundamental liberties as enshrined in Part II of the Malaysian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What we need now is the rise of an empowered public. Democracy in Malaysia is fragile so long as public opinion remains weak. Our hope for a more democratic future depends on our ability to build a strong public opinion. It’s good news that a vigorous body of public opinion, aided by information and communication technologies, is in making on the internet. I myself rely on it through my blog. If not for my blog, what I say would scarcely get out in the mainstream media. We need a freedom of information act, and I call for the repeal of the Printing Presses Act. It is silly that we limit the number of newspapers while every person with a blog or a twitter account can publish to the world. In limiting the printed media we have only succeeded in dumbing it down, so that those who rely only on the printed mass media and the terrestrial broadcast channels are actually the poorer for it.

Race and hope

Let end by returning to the theme of racial harmony. I repeat: the constitutional guarantees are ironclad. We ought to feel secure in the Constitution’s protections of our rights. A free people must be a secure people.

Another story:

In 1962, when I was a delegate to the United Nations, the Late Tun Ismail and I went out one evening to a posh restaurant on New York’s East Side. The maitre d’ turned us away firmly. No, he said, the restaurant was closed for a private function. We could see clearly that the restaurant was open. We understood that we were being denied entry because were “coloured”. This is despite the fact that our reservation had been made UN’s offices.

Today, in 2008, an African American man is President of the United States. He has just won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 46 years, and well within my lifetime, how far things have come. Had you told me in 1962, after that incident, that a black man would be president in my life time, I would not have believed you. This change did not happen without struggle.

From Leo Tolstoy to Henry Thoreau to Ghandi to Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, we see a thread of conviction about the overriding ethical claim of our common humanity. It is more important that we are alike in being sons and daughters of God than that we are different. This is also the thread of a spirit and method of resistance. Where all reasonable persuasion fails, the final “No” to wrongdoing, the place at which the citizen stands up to defend something fundamental, is through peaceful resistance. I allude to this only as a reminder of the final redoubt of the free citizen. Things may or may not have come to such a bad state that we must rise in this fashion, but let us be conscious of the power we hold in knowing just who we are and what we are capable of as ordinary citizens.
If the authorities do what is unjust, ride roughshod over constitutional rights and deny the sovereignty of the rakyat and the primacy of our constitution, we rest secure in the knowledge that history shows us that the just cause, defended stoutly, persistently and peacefully, will prevail. And sooner than we might expect.

Keynote speech on the launch of the book, Multi-ethnic Malaysia

UCSI University, Cheras, October 16, 2009

Najib's uphill battle

By Shanon Shah
thenutgraph.com

Najib shaking hands
Najib greeting delegates

HALFWAY through his policy address today, 15 Oct 2009, Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak defined a form of insanity. "It is when you do something repeatedly in the same way but hope for differing results," he said.

The analogy was used to justify Najib's market liberalisation measures to make Malaysia more competitive. Announced in June 2009, barely two months after he became Umno's president and Malaysia's prime minister, these measures removed some of the rules introduced under the New Economic Policy (NEP) and its subsequent replacement plans. The measures included scrapping the 30% bumiputera quota requirement for companies seeking public listing, and making redundant the Foreign Investments Committee, which was in charge of approving bumiputera shareholdings in foreign ventures in Malaysia.

It could have been a real moment of epiphany for this 60th Umno general assembly here at the Putra World Trade Center (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps Najib, addressing the assembly for the first time as party president, could have used this as a teachable moment for Umno — change now, or lose the country's support forever. If Najib had used this conceptual gem to try and change Umno's paradigm the way Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin did the day before, this Umno general assembly would have been truly historic.

Instead, Najib went on a spiel about why Malay Malaysians still needed an NEP-like crutch to assist them out of hardship. Essentially, he was trying to appease the delegates that only the methods of implementing the NEP have changed; its Malay-centric goals remain intact, despite the liberalisation measures that he announced.

Neither here nor there?

najib hoists flag
Najib hoisting the Umno flag

During his speech, Najib took a defensive stance on post-March 2008 perceptions that Umno is too Malay supremacist, taking the liberty to lump Umno and Malay Malaysians together as one and the same. Malay Malaysians are not racist, Najib said. South Africa's apartheid regime was racist. Pre-1960s US was racist. Not Malaysia. Not Malay Malaysians.

Sure, there were lines here and there about how 1Malaysia is supposed to be about acceptance, not mere tolerance. At one point in his speech, Najib said, "Umno cannot be a party that is ultra-left or ultra-right," and that Umno cannot lean towards either liberalism or conservatism. He meant merely that Umno should be an ideologically centrist party. But it seemed like he was waffling. It sounded like he was trying to balance intra-party pressures to the point that he ended up not standing for anything meaningful at all.

Benefit of the doubt

To give Najib the benefit of the doubt, maybe it's not so easy after all leading the biggest political party in Malaysia. Three million members are not easy to pacify, especially when the party has been hit by an embarrassing series of by-election defeats and deteriorating public perception.

A case in point might be the reception to Khairy's speech at the Youth assembly on 14 Oct. While online news sites and some English-language newspapers put as top news his historic call for Umno to ditch Malay dominance, the Malay-language press avoided it like a plague.

Certainly, Khairy made the front pages of the Malay-language press. The Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, however, picked as its 15 Oct front-page lead Khairy's call for the formation of a special bank to support the welfare of youth. That it considered this more newsworthy than a call to reject Malay dominance says something about its internal editorial reasoning.

Khairy said on Twitter on 15 Oct, "The difference in [the] coverage angle of my speech in [the] Malay [and] English papers is a study in the phenomena of multiple Malaysias." Indeed, Khairy has his work cut out for him. Imagine, a major Umno-controlled Malay-language publication blacks out a key idea by a key Umno leader, delivered in the Malay language. Imagine how difficult it must be to shift the party's paradigm by even an inch.

Wow factor

But the wow factor of a new line-up of party and national leaders can be felt at this year's assembly. For one thing, the seven key areas proposed for Umno's constitutional amendments — expanding the party's voting base; abolishing nomination quotas; expanding the supreme council, divisions and branches; setting up a party elections committee; abolishing annual fees and introducing lifelong membership; revamping membership registration; and recognising division secretaries — were endorsed unanimously by the 2,539 delegates.

There were no debates, save for interventions on the issue of lifelong membership fees. The entire debate on these constitutional amendments took a whirlwind 15 minutes.

Hishammuddin
Hishammuddin

Vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told a press conference later that he had initially thought pushing through the constitutional amendments would be "mission impossible".

"It is not easy to ask some 2,500 delegates to devolve influence to 146,500 voting members," he said. "But the speed with which they accepted the reforms shows how serious they are about reforming the party."

But the swiftness of the party's constitutional reforms belied the tone and content of the delegates' debates on the party president's policy address. They talked about reform as a matter of political strategy (don't parachute candidates in by-elections, an indirect nod to Bagan Pinang victor Tan Sri Isa Samad), and deference towards leadership. There was little talk on embracing the idea of racial diversity, acceptance and humility espoused by their own party president.

Umno's struggle

Wanita Umno
Wanita Umno members lining up in the morning

Perhaps the highlight of the debates was the 30-minute stand-up comedy act by Negeri Sembilan delegate Datuk Ishak Ismail. No party leader was spared by his jibes and risqué anecdotes. Urinating at a football match in England, a naughty story about Cleopatra, Hang Jebat and Roman general Mark Antony, and a taunt to Wanita members that "you are nothing compared to my wife" — he not only had party delegates and leaders but also journalists in stitches. His speech was what American Idol judge Simon Cowell would call memorable. Too bad his was the only one, and even then it was more about style triumphing over substance.

But maybe this is Umno's dilemma now. The party knows it has to change, but it is too entrenched in its old ways. After spending more than two decades under the tutelage of a charismatic but authoritarian patriarch, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, perhaps the party is still disoriented and cannot differentiate between form and content. Umno needs strong and revolutionary leadership to break with tradition, and an intelligent and proactive membership to understand why this is necessary. On one hand, Umno says it knows this, but it still seems unable to translate knowledge into coherent action.

So, maybe Najib used the wrong analogy — insanity — to define Umno's problem. Perhaps Umno is more like an addict who understands that the drug is destructive, but keeps going back to use it. In this case, the drug is a cocktail of authoritarianism, corruption and Malay supremacy. As with any addiction, it requires a complete internal transformation to overcome the problem. And perhaps 2009 will not be the year that Umno rids itself of its aching addiction.

Dialogue beyond the discourse of geography

Image My SinChew

Last week I found myself in Leiden, the Netherlands, where I was invited to speak at a symposium that dealt with the topic of 'Everything Under Control?'. Needless to say, the Foucauldian theme was of interest to me, and I was happy to attend the symposium and to speak on the subject of Religion and Social control.

But that is not what I wish to address here, for related to the theme in a tangential way was the related concern about multiculturalism and the so-called 'problem' of Muslim minorities in Europe. During a debate that I co-chaired with the film maker Eddy Teersaal and the discussions we had before, during and after, the theme of dialogue and the difficulty of building bridges between Muslims and Europeans came up time and again. My response to the queries directed at me were the same time and again, so I reproduce them here to state what I think is the root of the problem and why we - global citizens - are constantly in the grip of a problem that we have invented ourselves.

Firstly, let me state that I believe that inter-religious dialogue (as well as inter-ethnic, inter-communal and other forms of dialogue) is a useless, pointless, expensive and ultimately superficial exercise. The reason behind my own skepticism over the issue lies in the fact that I have been in this dialogue 'business' (and it is a business, mind you) for more than fifteen years now, with no tangible results. As a consequence of having attended more than fifty conferences in the abovementioned period of time, I have had the privilege of meeting the Pope, the Ayatollah of Iran, hundreds of prime ministers, presidents, ministers, deans, rectors, professors and public intellectuals; but with little to show for it. The inter-religious dialogue industry has become a law unto itself, driven by its own infernal logic and political economy that ultimately benefits only the owners of five-star hotel chains who are happy to host such events.

During all these encounters, we see the same pageant enacted time and again: Illuminories and Illuminati of all religions come, shake hands, state their differences, smile politely and then return home. Everyone agrees that all religions preach peace and love, but as soon as they return they declare war on their neighbours. None of the really sensitive thorny issues- such as freedom of belief and conversion - are ever discussed, and all we have are platitudes and commonsensical bits of pedestrian wisdom dressed up as sound bites to be taken up by the media. In the meantime age-old differences and prejudices remain intact and nobody really wants to be honest about our collective hypocrisy.

Secondly, the reason why such dialogues fail is because they are often meant to be a meeting of bridge-builders and peace-makers. This invariably frames inter-religious differences in terms of an oppositional dialectics where the Self is contrasted positively to the negative Other, and from these dialectical premises we are meant to reach a consensus and a great communal love-in. To expect such results from such flawed premises is silly to say the least and yet another waste of time and financial resources.

Thirdly, these dialogue processes - because they take off from the premise of oppositional dialectics - are already couched in a discourse of geography, or specifically territoriality. We talk of 'bridge-builders', 'frontiers', 'borders' and 'domains' as if the plane of inter-religious dialogue was already a contested territory. (Which it is, by default). But we fail to note that WE have introduced these territorial considerations by the very language we use to frame such dialogue in the first place. To even suggest that Islam and the West requires bridge-builders is to assume that there is a gulf between the two, and that this gulf has been there all along. But has it?

The fact is that both the Western and Muslim worlds share the same Abrahamic roots, the same civilisational sources and that both have been the oldest civilisational neighbours to each other. In our attempts to be politically correct and to recognise differences (thanks to the skewered logic of identity politics) we have invented divisions that were not there (or perhaps were not so pronounced in the past) and amplified them instead. Having stated that we are suspicious of each other, we naturally become suspicious of each other. And instead of accepting that neither the Western nor Muslim worlds are homogenous, we perpetuate the febrile fiction that the two are distinct and therefore need representation and representatives.

Here then lies the self-invested and self-imposed dilemma of Western defenders of multiculturalism today: In trying to 'dialogue' with Muslims whom they suddenly regard as the strangers within, they are now on the lookout for 'representatives' and 'spokesmen' for 'true Islam'. But who has the right to speak for Islam in the West, or anywhere else for that matter? The Muslim feminist student? The Muslim gay activist? The Muslim Osama-wannabe Mullah?

And let us now turn the tables and reverse the equation: If Muslims wanted to speak with 'representatives' of the West, who would it be? Le Pen of France? Geert Wilders of Holland? The taxi driver who picks me up at Heathrow airport? Or my drinking buddy from the pub? If Europeans do not see the need to represent Europe in essentialised terms, then why the hell do Muslims need to be reduced in the same manner?

(By Farish A. Noor, MySinchew)

India's Longest Flyover To Open By Deepavali

HYDERABAD, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- The 11.6 kilometre elevated corridor, considered as the longest flyover in India connecting the state capital to the new airport, is expected to be thrown open for vehicular traffic by Diwali (Deepavali), the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

The expressway, which passes through various congested routes, would provide faster and hassle-free travel to new Shamshabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, which is 27 kilometres away from the city.

"The four-lane divided carriage way with length of 11.6 kms is built with state-of-the-art innovative technology by adopting segmental type post tensioned construction of super structure," Minister for Municipal Administration, Anam Ramnarayan Reddy told reporters.

Trial runs are being carry out on the flyover before its inauguration by the Chief Minister K Rosaiah next week.

The flyover, which has been constructed by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, will be named after late Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.

Umno General Assembly Resumes

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- The Umno General Assembly here resumed on Friday with seven state representatives taking the stage to debate on a motion of thanks on the presidential policy speech.

They were speakers from the Penang, Selangor, Melaka, Johor, Federal Territories, Kelantan and Kedah Umno liaison committees.

The general assembly will adjourn for the Friday prayer before it resumes in the afternoon for the winding-up speeches by the leaders.

The general assembly is historic as it made way for a special general assembly which had unanimously approved seven amendments to the party's constitution.

Among others, it changed the rules of election for party posts by making it more open and abolishing the nomination quota system to stamp out money politics.

A total of 2,539 delegates are taking part in the general assembly.

Surprises At MCA CC "Pow Wow"

By Alan Ting

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 (Bernama) -- The MCA's central committee meeting (CC) here on Thursday sprang another round of surprises when party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat decided to call for another Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to decide whether the party should hold fresh elections.

After five hours of bargaining by the party's powerful body, a clearer picture has emerged. It appears that the CC is now split into three groups -- Ong's loyalists, splinter group of Ong's faction led by Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek's supporters.

There are 45 members in the CC, including eight appointed by the president.

The majority of them were said to be previously aligned to Ong.

It is rumoured that Ong was allegedly asked to step down immediately at today's meeting on the basis that about 20 CC members, including two vice-presidents along with other party office bearers as well as some elected and appointed CC membershad signed a joint letter asking him to do so.

They had signed the letter last night during a meeting called by one of the four vice presidents at a hotel near the party headquarters.

"Two of the four VPs did not sign. Others who were present signed. It was really a mutiny from within. What was interesting was that none of Dr Chua's supporters in the CC signed," an insider told Bernama.

The same insider said Ong even commended Dr Chua's supporters for being "much more principled" by choosing not to sign the letter.

Loh Seng Kok, one of the CC members who previously supported Dr Chua, said today's meeting was actually a battle between Ong's supporters and his former followers.

Loh said Dr Chua's group just wanted fresh elections so that it would be a fair fight.

Party insiders said Ong explained during the meeting that since the outcome of Saturday's EGM was inconclusive and the grassroots were divided, the best way out was to seek fresh elections.

Ong also explained that the disciplinary action against Dr Chua was a collective decision by the Presidential Council (PC) and CC and since it was overturned by the delegates, the CC would also have to seek a fresh mandate.

Ong then decided to direct MCA secretary-general Datuk Wong Foon Ming to call for an EGM under Article 30.1 of the MCA constitution to decide whether the party should hold fresh polls for the CC, insiders said.

A party grassroot leader, who declined to be identified, said Ong had emerged as the clear winner at today's meeting when he used the EGM as his trump card to turn the table against his detractors as most of the CC members opposing him were reluctant to seek a fresh mandate.

"This is really like Brutus failing to stab Caesar. Ong has outmanoeuvered them in Round 2 after losing Round 1," he said.

Bagan Pinang BN victory, the beginning of the evaporation of Indian support for PR ?

Voters in this small town near Port Dickson have clearly exercised their vote to give BN a landslide victory. Based on the last 8 bi elections the incumbent always held fort. BN was expected to retain Bagan Pinang . There was a high 40 % postal vote factor in this bi-election. Postal votes are normally pro BN. However the exceptionally high margin secured by the BN candidate confirms that more Indians have decided to give back their votes to BN..

Through out the elections, observers were gauging if PR could make the inroads in Bagan Binang. In the case of BN it was very pertinent for them to retain the seat. Against the wishes of the likes of Dr.M and Tengku Li, PM Najib chose Isa a controversial candidate who was censored and penalized by his own party. This was indeed a political gamble.A loss in Bagan Pinang could actually have seen weakening of his position within his party. The win in Bagan Pinang today can be seen as a mandate to PM Najib Razak to continue his BN leadership.

This election has shown us the glaring weakness within PR. PR has seemingly lost ground and have not settled in as the ruling government in 5 major states, more importantly they have lost ground gained with the Indian community..

From the results ,and the ensuing commentaries posted

on the Bagan Pinang bi-elections are we to infer the following?.

1.Corruption though an important issue only took 2nd place to tangible issues like housing, health, education and food.

2.Indian temper against MIC and Umno seems has cooled off.

3.PR has not convinced the voters that it wis a viable alternative to BN to rule the country.

4. PR failed to present to its Indian voters effective socio economic programs to secure their upward mobility.

If the above are true, the Indian community which was responsible for the tsunami elections in 2008, was eager to see policy based resolution to their perennial problems by an alternate PR led government but this however did not happen in the PR governed states. As such they had to weigh other options for their future.If PR does not distinguish itself as a viable governing material it should not be surprised if it looses its stake in the next GE.

The success of PR in the 12th GE was aided by the issues that were dominating the political landscape like the Suhashini custodial battle,Melaka pig breeders issue,Herald publication KDN withdrawal, Shah Alam temple demolition , Hindraf demonstration and subsequent ISA detention of its 5 leaders which was of intense public interest then. It was further facilitated by the flaws in the judgment of the timing of the elections by the former Prime Minister,but this time round PR will not have that benefit.

Be sure that the current Prime Minister will time the elections to his advantage. He is on track to appease the Indians. He will work around the other races soon. PR should not just wait to pounce on controversies and flaws on the governance of BN ,but should steer its state governments to deliver a distinctively viable socio-economic agenda .With two economically well developed states in hand it should not be a daunting task.If it fails to impress in the ensuing months that it can also deliver, forget about staking a claim for the seat in Putra Jaya. From the lessons from Bagan Pinang we know voter sentiment is very volatile, and no party can claim absolute rights to govern, Malaysian politics seems dynamic in its pattern of swing.In the next 24 months if PR fails to demonstrate its governance in its ruling states we should not be surprised at the reversal of vote swings.

It was a strategic political error that PR did not develop a mechanism wherein the participation of the leaders of the “Hindraf inspiration” was secured in the running of the PR controlled states. Is it a manifestation of Umno type arrogance or is it a deliberate strategy to sideline and marginalize those Hindraf leaders so that the Indians support can be split and absorbed within the so called multi racial parties like PKR , DAP and into Pas through dubious fan club mechanisms.? Is a strong united Indian community centered on the struggles of Hindraf ,a threat to others who connive to hijack Indian support by empty political rhetoric?

From the Bukit Selambau bi-elections, failure of PR to accommodate the request of Hindraf for a candidate of their choice, it is evident and has become difficult to believe that a PR led federal government in the future will give consideration to the 18 point socio-economic agenda for the Indian community which was the core of the Nov25 2007 Hindraf spirit.

Indians are emotionally distraught and downtrodden. If by just political rhetoric PR plans manage the Indian support ,such a support will evaporate in no time.I just hope Bagan Pinang is not the beginning of such a process.

by Malini Dass

Archeologists unearth 'lost' mini Roman Coliseum

FUMICINO, Italy (CNN) -- Under a canopy of elegant Italian pines, the foundations of a mini Roman Coliseum are at once unmistakable and exhilarating.

The statue head as it appeared beneath the soil during excavations at the site in Fumicino in early 2009.

The statue head as it appeared beneath the soil during excavations at the site in Fumicino in early 2009.

The structure at "Portus," the Romans' ancient Mediterranean port, has remained undiscovered for eighteen centuries until now.

University of Southhampton archaeologists have just this summer uncovered the remains of an amphitheater, a Roman warehouse and the ruins of an Imperial palace even though archaeologists have been digging at this site since the 19th Century.

"It's true I think also to say that we have kind of rediscovered it because the great Italian archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani reported the discovery of a theater in the 1860s but nobody could actually find it," says Professor Simon Keay, a leading expert on Roman Archaeology at the University of Southhampton.

"There is only one imperial Rome, and Rome only had one imperial port and Portus is that port. In a sense it is trying to give an idea not only of the importance by virtue of that but also because the archaeological potential of it is huge," adds Keay.

The site is a feast for the eyes in the true Roman sense. Excavations have unearthed priceless treasures apart from the foundations of the amphitheater.

An exquisite white marble head of a statue was found close to the site of the amphitheater. Experts believe it could be a bust of Ulysses or possibly a Greek sailor. Rare and finely carved fragments of columns have also been found.

"When we first started the project, everything you would have seen here was grass, a couple of trees," explains Keay.

"We very nearly fell into a hole because we couldn't actually see what we were doing. Clearly we have completely exposed this area and because these buildings are so big it is only by uncovering large areas of them that we can actually understand their function and their development," says Keay.

The site is ironically less than a mile from Rome's modern transport hub, Fumicino International Airport, and this discovery owes more than a nod to modern technology.

Using modern sensors, ground-penetrating radar and probes, researchers complied computer images of what lay beneath. They were dazzled by what modern technology revealed about the ancient past.

"So we then played around with it on the computer screen, we did a virtual reconstruction of it and amphitheater shape grew out of the screen and we knew that we were on to something very special," says Keay.

The excavations in Fumicino, Italy, just outside Rome, continue in a joint project named "Portus" with the University of Southhampton, the British School at Rome, The Italian Archaeological Superintendency for Ostia and the University of Cambridge.

Dr M gives Najib's speech thumbs up

Bagan Pinang victory 'perfect tonic' for MIC - Malaysiakini

Penang MIC Youth's reading of Barisan Nasional's Bagan Pinang victory is that the Indian voters have realised that Pakatan Rakyat is only interested in politicking and political dramas.

The movement's chief J Dhinagaran said last Sunday's by-election result indicated that Indians were flocking back to the party and BN.

bagan pinang by election 071009He cited the Penang DAP government's 'broken promise' to save the Indian heritage village of Kampung Buah Pala as an influential factor in turning the tide.

"Bagan Pinang could be the prefect tonic for MIC to be used as a launching pad for the party's revival," he told Malaysiakini today.

He said Pakatan's failure to promote and develop Tamil schools and protect Hindu temples in its states were also among the reasons that could have prompted Indian voters turning their backs on the opposition coalition.

However, Penang Deputy Chief Minister (II) P Ramasamy had since discounted the possibility that the Kampung Buah Pala fiasco could have swung Indian votes in favour of BN.

'Only MIC and BN can deliver'

Pakatan, Dhinagaran said, rode on the 'Makkal Sakti' mantra (people's power) in the last general election to rob BN of its traditional Indian voter bank across the country.

"However, today Indians have realised that Pakatan state governments have failed to address their grouses effectively despite being in power for the past 18 months.

"Indians realise that only MIC and BN could help and deliver, not Pakatan," he said.

Dhinagaran said MIC's own campaign strategy by organising various grassroots programmes to reach out to the voters had also effectively and decisively swayed the Indians back to BN.

He claimed that 80 percent of Indians, who cast their ballots in the by-election, backed BN and the MIC.

He suggested that the remaining 20 percent, who backed PAS candidate Zulkefly Mohd Omar, could be family members of hardcore Pakatan supporters.

He also said at least 600 Indian voters abstained from voting "to teach both BN and Pakatan a lesson."

"Many Indians told me personally that they don't trust both political blocs," he added.

In the Bagan Pinang poll, BN's Isa Samad bagged 8,013 votes while Zulkefly polled 2,578 votes.

Analysts said more than 60 percent of the Malay voters had backed Isa, a popular local political icon, with non-Malay support rising to almost 70 percent.

Billions of SMIDEC, PNS and Bank Rakyat loans, zero for Indians.

Small and Medium scale Industries Development corporation gives out billions of Ringgit Malaysia business loans to Malay Muslim entrepreneurs. The almost all Malay Muslim are offered from a minimum of RM30,000.00 to RM500,000.00 loans by SMIDEC in the the productions of fragrance, food, agriculture, services, medicine, soap, distribution, of paint, rearing keli fish, breeding Rusa and bakery as is published in Utusan Malaysia 14/10/09 Jom Business Pullout. But almost zero for the Indians . They get to do the successful kachang putih business as their small and Medium scale Industries (The Star 14/10/09 at page N47). And that too on their own effort and with almost zero government assistance. We want the UMNO led Malaysian government to prove in the Entrepreneur Ministry’s website (and notifying us) of the names, location and the SMIDEC Bank Rakyat PNS and other government business loans offered to the Indians

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Lim Guan Eng’s Deepavali gift, breaking Cow shead Kg. Buah Pala

Cow shead in Kg. Buah Pala after having demolished the last traditional Indian heritage villages in Penang literally on the eve of Deepavali. This is the height of Kapitan Lim Guan Eng’s arrogance and opperession of the poor and helpless Penang Indians after having asked these villages to apologize to him for merely fighting for their rights. Worst of all DAP, PKR, PAS and Kapitan Lim Guan Eng up to this date and just like UMNO has not given anything in writing of the supposed double storey house worth RM 600,000.00 to these villages. Instead Lim Guan Eng gets his Indian mandore Deputy Chief Minister II (should have been I) to do the usual UMNO/MIC style wayang kulit of this RM600,000.00 double storey house especially in the Tamil Press. This Mandore must be credited for a job well done for his Towkay and the DAP. Even UMNO’s MIC Mandore way have to learn a thing or two from this DAP Indian Mandore!

200,000 free rice coupons, none to Indians

The UMNO led Malaysian government’s Agriculture and Agro based Industry Minister gives out free rice 200,000 coupons for poor Malaysians (The Sun 14/10/09 at page 6). But we are yet to hear of the first Indian poor to receive his first bag of free rice. But then this is possible under Prime Minister Najib’s One Malaysia! Editor.

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How The Indians Are Excluded From The Agricultural Sector Systematically

By Naragan N.

Yesterday and today the last remaining structures of Kampung Buah Pala are to be torn down – the cow barns. The cattle farmers of Kampung Buah Pala have no alternative land yet. The cows are going to be stranded, literally in the streets. But who cares?

When a pig slaughterhouse was demolished in Kedah recently, the sole DAP rep in the Kedah State Government there caused an uproar by threatening to resign and the issue was immediately resolved. If the affected farmers had been Malay cattle farmers, they would have been courted and alternative land would have been provided by one of the several government agencies set up expressly for this purpose. But this is an Indian farmer and so no one really cares.

This is marginalization in real life and blood. This has been going on right from the beginning of Malaya, then Malaysia. Very systematic marginalization. Till today there is still no political will in the governing coalitions both at the Federal and the State level to resolve these critical problems. The only way we can see that these problems will be resolved is when the Indians get into the mainstream of National Development.

Let me try and briefly explain how the Indians have been blocked systematically from getting into the mainstream of National Development - in this scenario in the Agricultural sector contributing to the marginalization we so often speak out about. The real world effect of all this is what we see happening in front of our very own eyes – in KBP.

From the 1950s there has been significant development in the Agricultural sector spearheaded by government agencies such as FELDA, FELCRA, RISDA, FAMA and many others (see list of these agencies at the footnote).

And for these 50 odd years we all know how the rural Indian population mainly from the estates have been systematically pushed out and excluded from benefiting from any of these efforts. This was through the period of the fragmentation of the plantations (from the 50s through to the 80s) and then massive eviction from land as a result of the development of the land for various purposes (from the late 70s through to now). They have all been turned over into the urban poor.

All of this, through the working of the racist UMNO policies. In fact the NEP of the last 40 odd years, was supposed to erase identification of race with occupation. It has done exactly the opposite in the Agricultural sector. The estate Indians were thrown out of that sector and that sector has effectively been turned into a monopoly almost of the Malays. Billions and billions of our National resource has been spent in this sector over this period, but the Indians gained nothing from it all. This is a direct result of the policies of the racist UMNO -a Malaysian version of Apartheid.

Now a new and even more significant chapter is opening up in the Agricultural Sector and I suspect many of us are not aware of the significance of what is happening or about to happen. In just the last 2-3 years the development policy of the government has changed to accelerate development in the Agricultural sector to make it the 3rd engine of growth, besides Manufacturing and Information technology, the other engines of economic growth.

What this means is that there is going to be a tremendous amount of expansion in this sector. A further large amount of the national resource is going to be invested to develop this sector into the engine of growth – like the Multimedia Super Corridor effort, the e- Government effort, the CyberCities and so on to develop the Information Technology Sector. A total ecosystem is going to be created to facilitate the development of this sector. Billions and billions are again going to be spent to develop the potential in this sector.

The functions of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Base Industry has been increased and related agencies have been restructured to support and facilitate this strategic initiative. The stated objective is to evenly develop all aspects of supply chain management within the agriculture and agro-base industry – from seed production, production, post-harvest handling, storage, logistics, grading, labeling, packaging, transporting, retailing, wholesaling, marketing, branding, processing, up to the point where the goods are sold to consumers (from farm to table).

A ‘Cluster’-based development of zones of production not unlike the Fruits Production Zones, the Target Area Concentration, the Aquaculture Zone Industry and the Modern Agriculture Project and Permanent Food Production Park are also in the making. The same cluster based development effort as in the Manufacturing sector.

Marketing, Research and Development and Business Development are all slated for expansion in this sector. To enable all of this the Entrepreuner and Cooperative Development Ministry has been folded into the Rural and Regional Development (RRD) Ministry and new functions have been introduced into the RRD Ministry and its various units.

The Tekun program has been converted from an Enterpreuner financing agency to a strategic Entrepreuner development agency, now within the RRD Ministry. This is a significant program with budgets in the Billions of Ringgits.

The SMIDEC ( Small and Medium Industry Development Corporation) has been expanded and renamed to become the Small and Medium Enterprise Corporation. The National SME Development Council Secretariat Function of Bank Negara has been folded into the SME Corporation.

Bank Pertanian has been corporatized and now operates as the Agro Bank, the official disbursement agency for the government of all the funds going into the sector.

Special Bumiputra only financing schemes have been rolled out by various banks. One example is the SPED scheme of the Bank Rakyat. They give out loans from RM 30,000 to RM 500,000. One of the eligibility is unashamedly that the applicant must be a Bumiputra.

Various educational Institutuions such as University Putra Malaysia, UiTM, Risda College, Felda Academy are collaborating strategically to produce the skilled manpower needed for this expansion.

All of the above, without exception is meant only for Bumiputras with a few crumbs thrown out to the partner political party local heads and their relatives and cronies for their connivance to maintain status quo. Tell me if I am wrong.

I know several small Indian livestock farmers, a few aspiring young farmers and I can see that at best they get cursory assistance, not the womb to tomb kind of assistance that the Malay farming community gets or is about to get with all of this. These small livestock farmers operate on TNB land under power cables or on railway land or on some land like KBP, all waiting to be evicted someday destroying even that little participation in this part of the economy. There is very little benefit for the Indian farmers or aspiring farmers or Entrepreuners from any of these programs, in fact they are about to be obliterated from this sector totally, given what we see going on.

From all of this, you can see on the one hand, the scale of things that is happening in the country for the development of the Agricultural Sector – in what we call the mainstream of National Development. On the other hand,we know from whatever little is published or from our own experience that the Indians have been totally excluded from this mainstream of development.

This is how the system operates to to block Indians from the development process. They are left to be where they are and to use the little resources they have to try and get out of their predicament.

All of this must change. The only organization in the country that can speak up in these terms for the Indians now is Hindraf and the Human Rights Party. Please see the proposal for the 2010 Budget by the HRP-

http://www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com/2009/10/12/2010-budget-proposals-by-human-rights-party-malaysia-13102009/

Let us all get together in a way that will get us the change we all seek. There is a lot of trickery and lies around. We have to work against all of that to get to the truth, but we will get there.


Foot notes:

1. Bank Pertanian, MARDI, National Paddy and Rice Board (LPN), Fisheries Development Authorities, Malaysia (LKIM) , Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA) , Kemubu Agricultural Development Authority KADA, Farmers’ Organization Authority (LPP), KEJORA, KEDA, KESEDAR, KETENGAH to name a few among the notable on