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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hindraf chief in catch-22 situation over passport

Commentary by Joe Fernandez
INDIA-MALAYSIA/The apparent passport bungle-in-the-jungle involving Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf) Chief P. Waytha Moorthy,(pic) forced into exile in London since early last year, appears to have resulted in a clear stalemate. Not if viewed from the British and Malaysian Government positions, according to a senior Malaysian-Aussie lawyer in private practice in Brisbane .
“The onus, according to the Home Ministry’s thinking, is actually on Waytha Moorthy to collect his passport back from the Malaysian High Commission in London and move on,” noted senior lawyer Quintin Rozario, formerly from Klang, in an email exchange with Free Malaysia Today from Australia . “His family is waiting for him back home,” says the Malaysian Government.
In short, Waytha Moorthy should break the stalemate in the situation and hurry back as soon as possible, advocates Kuala Lumpur .
Rozario was giving his take on the confusing turn of events reported by the media on the handling of the Hindraf Chief’s passport issue by the Malaysian authorities.
The Malaysian’s Government’s position, an apparent half-truth, was that it was Waytha Moorthy’s lawyers who sent his passport to the Malaysian High Commission in London . That was in March this year.
“That’s not the whole story,” assured Waythamoorthy when contacted in London by telephone. “My lawyers sent back the passport which had earlier been put in an envelope by the Malaysian High Commission in London and sent to my solicitors at the end of February this year. I was lying in hospital at that time and it was in the news. There was no note or covering letter from the High Commission.”
Waythamoorthy stressed that the Malaysian High Commission in London returning his passport is not enough to end the stalemate. For starters, he wants an explanation from the Malaysian Government, through his lawyers, on why his passport was cancelled on March 14 last year by Kuala Lumpur .
Subsequently, Waytha Moorthy’s passport was reportedly seized by British Immigration at Gatwick Airport on April 19 last year upon his return from Geneva and never returned to him. Apparently, this action was taken on the grounds that a passport at all times belongs to the issuing authority and not to the holder.
“So, it’s a fairy tale that I returned my passport to the Malaysian High Commission in London . How can I return something that I didn’t have in the first place,” said Waythamoorthy. “I did not start the chain of events that has resulted in the present stalemate. It was Kuala Lumpur .”
Waytha Moorthy denies he’s spending his enforced exile in London “splitting hairs” over his passport while his family and loved ones are anxiously awaiting his return home.
Instead, he assures that he wants to move on as well with his life and is urgently seeking three remedies from the Malaysian Government viz.
(1) that what was taken from him dishonourably (his passport) be returned honourably;
(2) that a new passport be issued to him to replace his “cancelled” passport; and
(3) some form of suitable apology and related remedies that are seen to be mutually agreeable for the financial and material losses that he has incurred in the process and the damage to his reputation by IGP Musa Hassan linking him with the Tamil Tigers movement of Sri Lanka .
Waytha Moorthy stressed that he felt utterly humiliated and very small at Gatwick Airport when he was detained. He expressed disappointment that the word on protection that the Malaysian Government has guaranteed, on behalf of the King, in the very first page of passports issued by the country, were rendered meaningless at Gatwick Airport that day.
“It’s no use Home Minister Hishammudin (Tun Hussein), like his predecessor Syed Hamid Albar, mindlessly parroting that my passport has not been cancelled,” said Waytha Moorthy. “My passport has been entered in the computer system at British Immigration as cancelled. This follows the action initiated by the Malaysian authorities. Information on the cancellation has been duly communicated instantly across Europe to all the immigration systems and from there on to the Americas , Australia and New Zealand . In fact, the whole world.”
So, apparently, even if it’s returned to him, Waytha Moorthy’s existing passport is of no further use to him although it only expires on Oct 17 next year. However, the Home Minister has been quoted by local media as saying that “we can’t issue two passports to a person.”
From the British Government’s legal standpoint, its actions followed a sequence of events reportedly initiated by Malaysia. It began with someone in the Malaysian Government informing the British High Commission by letter on March 14 last year that Waythamoorthy’s passport had been cancelled. That’s according to a letter Ref: FOI 10154 from the UK Border Agency of the Home Office to Waythamoorthy’s lawyers in London , Imran Khan & Partners Solicitors, dated Sept 23 last year.
Who in the Malaysian Government communicated the cancellation to the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur was not disclosed by the UK Border Agency.
Notwithstanding the Freedom of Information Act 2000, it pleaded exemption under Section 27 (2) of the same Act on the grounds that “such disclosure would jeopardise ties between the United Kingdom and Malaysia .”
The UK Border Agency told Waythamoorthy’s lawyers that based on the reason given by the Malaysian authorities for the cancellation of the passport, “The Malaysian authorities were seeking your client’s arrest to face criminal charges”.
(On Nov 26, 2007, Waythamoorthy was given a discharge, not amounting to an acquittal, on a sedition charge. This was a day after an estimated 100,000 Hindraf supporters took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur after not being allowed to converge at the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur to present a letter to the Queen of England .)
(On July 15 last year, then Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar told the media in the lobby of Parliament House that an arrest warrant under the ISA (Internal Security Act) was issued for Waythamoorthy before he became Home Minister. Syed did not disclose any further details.)
On July 2, 2008, according to the UK Border Agency’s Sept 23 letter, the Malaysian authorities requested for the return of Waythamoorthy’s passport “without any reason given why they wanted the passport returned to them.”
Despite informing the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur that the Malaysian Government was seeking Waythamoorthy’s arrest to face criminal charges, London granted him political asylum in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They also provided him with travel papers under the Geneva Convention on Sept 9 last year. These papers, which expire on Sept 8, 2013, entitle him to visit all countries except Malaysia .
Waythamoorthy’s political asylum status in the United Kingdom is for an indefinite period. Still, when the ruling party in Malaysia is ousted from the Federal Government, the British Home Minister would write to Waythamoorthy on the status of the current threat to him in Malaysia . Should the Hindraf Chief inform the British Home Office that he would feel perfectly safe in Malaysia under the new Government, “he would be advised to return home.” However, threat or no threat, the British Government cannot force him to return home to Malaysia .
Political asylum was not something that he voluntarily sought, clarified Waytha Moorthy.
“After my passport was seized by British Immigration on April 19 last year at Gatwick Airport , I was detained for six hours and interrogated and my luggage turned upside down,” said Waytha Moorthy. “In the end, I was issued with a detained person advice and a temporary admission pass and advised to return two days later i.e. on a Monday.”
On April 21, 2008, Waytha Moorthy’s temporary admission was further renewed for a further three weeks. He was asked to report to the British Home Office in Croydon, London at the end of the three weeks.
In Croydon, he was told that he would have to be deported to Geneva , his last port of call before entering the UK . . . “unless he had other options in mind.” Waytha Moorthy knew that in Geneva , he would be deported back to the UK since he had no travel papers.
What the British Home Office was implying under other options was clear. Waytha Moorthy could either go to court and fight it out or apply for political asylum. “I chose political asylum only very reluctantly,” confessed Waytha Moorthy. “I had no choice under the circumstances. Little did I dream that I would become a political refugee.”
So, will the Malaysian Government issue the Hindraf Chief with a new passport to allow him to come home to his wife and seven-year-old daughter? Or will he be forced to stay in exile as a political refugee? The ball, it seems, is on the Home Ministry’s court!
Waytha Moorthy declines to say what his options would be in the event the Home Ministry refuses to issue him with a new passport. Rozario, meanwhile, says he can easily hazard a guess. However, he would prefer to do some solid legal research before sharing his findings with FreeMalaysiaToday.


With every passing day we see more and more cases of Indian Malaysians being denied their fundamental rights by those in power. Every visit to the HRP website ( shows us that the objective of bringing the working class Indian to the mainstream development of Malaysia, is not a small or easy undertaking. And these cases are just the tip of the iceberg.

While we go to the field and experience for ourselves the frustration and pain that are the constant companions of the poor Indian Malaysian; there will be times when we will question our ability to achieve what we have set out to do. Our numbers are small, we need to find our own resources and make do, we have no allies to speak off, and we have many enemies, not all of them readily visible.

But we will win this battle.

We have no choice but to succeed in what we have set out to do. And while the challenges may come to us thick and fast while we walk this path, while we may wonder how on God’s green earth we are going to turn around 52 years of government enforced marginalisation, while we experience first hand the racism that has been bred and entrenched into every sphere of Malaysian life, while we lie awake until dawn wondering what to do next, while we see the apathy of even friends and family, let alone strangers; come what may, we will win this battle.

Allow me to state why I know we will succeed. The answer lies in the forgotten pages of history, a history that tells us why our names are Hindu to this day. This has nothing to do with whether our ancestors were great or whatever, but everything to do with the knowledge that we have overcome greater threats before, threats that not only threatened the livelihood of Indians, but their very way of life, nay their very lives itself.

Imagine a force greater and more successful than that of Alexander the Great. A force that did not turn back at the Ganges as Alexander did, but one that was stopped only when it reached the River Krishna.

In modern India, the area south of the River Krishna covers parts of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, and all of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and that island we call Sri Lanka today.

When the threat posed by this force became evident to the ancient kingdoms that ruled that part of India in 1336, these ancient kingdoms of Pandiya and Chola pooled their strengths and gave that strength to a minor principality called Anegundi at the banks of the River Krishna, a dominion that became the empire we know today as Vijayanagar.

The defence of our way of life as we know it today, of our languages, our culture, and the religions we call Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism was a war that lasted not for one or ten years, but one that lasted 250 years.

The attack into India began in 1001 A.D and came to a halt in the year 1344 at Vijayanagar. Islam took over all of India north of the River Krishna, but for ten generations, mothers sent their sons into battle to defend and protect our way of life. And they succeeded, which is why our names are what they are.

The Buddhist kingdoms of Sri Lanka, and the Jains, Jews and atheists were also protected from forced conversion, and this defence allowed Hinduism to spread to the north again in later days. This defence ended in the year 1565. This defence also indirectly protected China from the sword of Islam, as the disappointed invaders at one time decided to change tack and sent 100,000 soldiers to invade China and bring it under Islam, only for this depleted force to lose its numbers to the Himalayas.

Our forefathers had the knowledge of warfare, of politics, of forethought, the capacity to sacrifice for the greater good, of sticking to the mission for generation after generation, and the strength of character to never give up or surrender.

At one point in time their soldiers numbered 1.1 million, and this was 700 years ago, and if we compare that number to the largest standing army today, of 2 million, that China has, we see the magnitude of the resolve that we have running in the blood that we call ours.

We will succeed. Failure in not an option. Easy is not an option.

The needs that brought those 100,000 souls to the streets on the 25th of November, and the countless others that could not be there has not been met yet, and do we have a choice other than to keep on going until those needs are met? You tell me.

Jeevindra Kumar Krishnan

Human Rights Party Malaysia

Baradan Kuppusamy’s truth on Indian youths excluded from business, job opportunities, skills training etc. (The Star 18/11/2009 at page N23)

Baradan Kuppusamy’s truth on Indian youths excluded from business, job opportunities, skills training etc. (The Star 18/11/2009 at page N23)

UMNO cannot plan to have them in Malaysia “as factory workers, lorry driver, security guards – jobs that require few skills”.

“ Hope and upwardly mobile opportunities and a believe that they too can have a meaningful career….” is the way forward which has to be implemented seriously by UMNO. Not mere “wayang kulit” through the print and electronic media as has been the case for the last 52 years.

P. Uthayakumar.


Part 4: Bala finds his life turned upside down

Life on the run is not as rosy as most imagine when one’s family has to suffer. Bala finds that the money means very little when family life and the children’s education are sacrificed. He decides to change all that and to regain his normal life but his ‘handlers’ have other ideas. He realises, therefore, he has to break away from them if he really wants to be free.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Q 55. Why did you not tell them the truth about the way the 2nd statutory declaration was made since you had your family with you and they were all safe?

A. I was still in a state of confusion and was still concerned for the safety of my family. I was made aware that Deepak had some very powerful connections, especially after meeting the Malay VIP Datuk at The Curve a few nights previously and his advice was still in my mind.

I was also surprised at how far Deepak’s connections reached as he seemed capable of organising things in different countries and had even arranged a Thai woman to apply for our Indian visas in Bangkok.

At that time I had no idea what to expect so I felt I should follow their advice until I could think more clearly as I had my family to consider as I did not want them to be harmed.

My family and I were also in a foreign country with no access to finances.

Q 56. Did you communicate with anyone after this?

A. Yes. ASP Suresh called me from KL and advised me to change hotels so that the police officers from KL would not be able to contact me again if they required a further statement.

He also informed me to call my nephew in KL and ask him to stop talking to the press and to avoid holding any more candle light vigils as this was making Deepak feel uneasy. I then called my nephew and told him to stop all activities of this nature and he agreed. (See the video here: Stop the campaign, PI tells nephew)

Q 57. Did you change hotels?

A. Yes, we moved to the Beverly Hills Hotel. It was while we were at this new hotel that I received news from Rajesh that our visas could not be done in time as it would take at least 5 working days to process.

Deepak then arranged for a moneychanger, to whom he was acquainted, to pay me 100,000 Thai Baht for my expenses. I then waited for further instructions at this hotel.

Q 58. What happened after that?

A. At about 2.30 pm on the 11th July Rajesh called me to tell me to go to the airport to collect some e-tickets he had arranged for my family and I to fly to Kathmandu, so we packed our bags and headed to the airport.

However when we reached the airport Rajesh called and told me the flight had only been arranged for the next morning at 10.00 am. We then took a taxi back into town and checked into another hotel.

The next morning we returned to the airport, picked up our tickets and flew on a Thai Airways flight to Kathmandu.

Q 59. What happened when you landed in Kathmandu?

A. We were met at the airport by a representative of the Yak & Yeti Hotel who drove us to that hotel.

Q 60. Why was it necessary for you to fly to Kathmandu?

A. Before we could enter India we needed to apply for our Indian visas, which we had not been able to get in Bangkok.

ASP Suresh told me Deepak did not want us to stay in Bangkok any longer as the police knew we were there and that is why he wanted us to leave to Kathmandu so we could apply for our visas there.

Q 61. How long did you spend in Kathmandu?

A. We had applied to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu for our Indian visas. After we managed to obtain 1-month visas for India, we left Kathmandu for New Delhi. This was on the 22nd July. We had spent approximately 10 days in Kathmandu.

Q 62. How long did you spend in Delhi?

A. We stayed in a hotel in Delhi for 2 nights before flying to Madurai en-route to Madras.

Q 63. How did you manage to extend your 1-month visas?

A. Our visas expired on the 21st August 2008. Deepak’s people had promised to get an extension for 1 year for us but nothing was done. So I had to get a 1-month extension for myself and my family till 20th September 2008.

I then sent my wife and children back to KL to stay with my mother-in-law in Segambut without Deepak’s knowledge.

I remained in Madras trying to get my visa extended. Deepak’s agent called Kumar tried to help me but after 5 months nothing had happened. I complained about this to Deepak and ASP Suresh when they visited me in Chennai. Deepak called Kumar who returned the passport to me with a sick certificate saying I could not have left the country due to an illness. This had to be done as I was then in India illegally as my visa had expired.

I then asked for help from my wife’s uncle who is a State Exco Member for Karaikal district. He managed to get my visa extended until 5th September 2009.

Q 64. Did you return to Malaysia during this period?

A. Yes, I returned a few times to sort out some of my personal affairs. Each time I returned I entered the country via Thailand across the Malaysia-Thai border at Bukit Kayu Hitam and left the same way. I did not go through Malaysian immigration.

I did not contact anyone each time I returned as I was afraid Deepak would find out. The only person who knew I had returned to Malaysia was ASP Suresh but he did not let Deepak know. He was upset with me for allowing my wife and children to return to Malaysia but I explained to him that my children needed to be educated and they could not get into a local school in Chennai.

Whenever I returned to Malaysia I used to stay with my wife and mother-in-law in Segambut.

Q 65. Where did your wife stay all the time she was in Malaysia?

A. She stayed with my mother-in-law in Segambut and managed to get my children into a school in Sentul. She did come to Chennai a few times with the children to visit me.

Q 66. Where are your wife and children now?

A. They are at present in Chennai. I managed to enrol my 2 eldest children into a school there. My wife may return to KL so that my youngest child can receive his schooling there. I will have to stay with my eldest two children in Chennai.

Q 67. Can you remember the dates you returned to Malaysia?

A. Yes, I was in KL from the 16.02.2009 to the 05.03.2009. During this period I met Deepak at his office in Sungai Besi. He was very worried I had returned to Malaysia and asked me to go back to Chennai immediately. He warned me that my life would be in danger if I stayed any longer.

The second time I returned to Malaysia was from the 11.04.2009 to the 02.05.2009.

The third time I returned to Malaysia was at the end of July 2009.

Q 68. What did you do when you returned at the end of July?

A. I decided to contact my lawyer Americk Sidhu and explain to him exactly what had happened to me over the past 1 year as I was very unhappy with the situation I was in.


Part 1: The mystery unveiled

Part 2: Bala’s prison without bars

Part 3: The Malaysian police catch up with Bala

IGP in the dark over Bala’s statement to police

(Free Malaysia Today) - Malaysia’s Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan appears to be unware of a statement recorded from private investigator P. Balasubramaniam by his Special Branch team in Bangkok on July 8 last year.

Bala has stated in his latest revelations that the statement was recorded by the SB team led by ACP Muniandy who traced him to Bangkok through arrangements made by a Malaysian Embassy liaison officer

The private investigator had also said that Muniandy’s team was only interested in his first July 3 statutory declaration and was not bothered about his July 4 declaration retracting his allegations that the Prime Minist rrelationship with mudered Mongolian model Altantuya Shaaribuu.

Yesterday, the IGP stated that Bala who reportedly had been in and out of the country at least at eight times since his disappearance last year, was still being sought by police to record a statement over his two contradictory statutory declarations.

Musa said as Bala was not a wanted fugitive but only a witness in a case, the police had not given any instructions to the Immigration Department to stop Bala’s movement in and out of the country.

“He should know that he is wanted in assisting us in a case and take the initiative to come in personally and have his statement recorded,” Musa was quoted as telling the mainstream media questioning the IGP on Bala’s entry into the county.

“As far as the police is concerned, we are not aware of him having entered the country. You should ask the reporter who made that claim,” Musa added.


ALSO READ: Police track missing PI, record his statement

Outside interference akin to ‘political godfather’ culture, says Ti

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — MCA central committee member Datuk Ti Lian Ker said there should be no "political godfather" culture in the party where party leaders turn to other component parties for support.

"There should be no culture of this sort from within the party, where certain individuals continually subvert and undermine the party's agenda, purely because they have the comfort of crying to their political godfather outside the party."

This was in response to the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's comment from Rome expressing the possibility of Umno intervening in MCA's on-going leadership crisis.

"We appreciate the DPM's concern, but at the same time we would like to see to the party's internal affairs ourselves in order to stabilise the party," said Ti, who is also MCA liaison bureau chief.

Makeovers that could put Najib one-up over foes

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — Some of the most robust discussions about the future of Malaysia have been taking place in Putrajaya over the past several weeks. And if some suggestions are actually implemented, Datuk Seri Najib Razak could actually pull the rug from under his political foes.

This includes the idea to overhaul the controversial Biro Tata Negara or National Civics Bureau that has been seen to be more of a propaganda unit, the possibility of a mediation council to handle disputes among different religions and making the government procurement process more transparent.

Government officials told The Malaysian Insider that these proposals are part of initiatives being pushed by Datuk Seri Idris Jala (picture) and a task force set up to promote 1 Malaysia, Najib's concept announced when he took the top job on April 3.

1 Malaysia is one of several laboratories set up to push through ideas on Key Performance Index (KPI) and National Key Results Areas (NKRAs) that Najib knows will be the tipping point in the general election.

His ruling Barisan Nasional coalition was badly beaten in Election 2008 under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when it lost four more states and 82 federal seats to give up its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority.

But his recent appointment of Idris, the former Malaysia Airlines managing director, to the Cabinet as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department to take charge of KPIs could help make the difference.

Idris has started his work by setting up labs outside the government administrative complex with select people to test out ideas and strategies to move Najib's 1 Malaysia concept

Arguably the 1 Malaysia lab is the most important now because Idris and his team are incubating ideas which touch on race, religion and other stumbling blocks to better race relations which have deteriorated over the years.

Last week, Najib and several key ministers were given a briefing on some of the ideas and many of the Cabinet ministers appeared supportive of some of the initiatives. Among the ministers in the visit were Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin and Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz.

It is understood that the lab felt the Biro Tata Negara needed a complete makeover to promote inclusiveness. Several young Pakatan Rakyat leaders have complained it was "brainwashing" students who were taught to hate opposition parties.

What is clear is that Najib remains Idris' strongest ally and is willing to push the envelope for changes in the government. Several Umno ministers are also more supportive of change than before, government officials said.

"Idris and his team's biggest task will be presenting their ideas at a Cabinet retreat next month. If there is buy-in, some of the biggest bugbears in our country will finally be addressed," one government official told The Malaysian Insider.

An analyst with knowledge of the 1 Malaysia lab activities concurred.

"If these initiatives are endorsed by the Najib administration and implemented, they could pull the carpet from under the Pakatan Rakyat," the analyst told The Malaysian Insider.

He said the key would remain in the implementation and also acceptance by the civil service.

Another black day for Parliament and anti-corruption

By Lim Kit Siang,

Another black day for Parliament and for Malaysia’s anti-corruption campaign – when my motion for an emergency debate on Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2009 which saw Malaysia suffering the worst CPI rank of 56 and score of 4.5, as well as the worst single-year drop in CPI rank by nine placings from last year’s 47th position and fall of CPI score of 0.6 from last year’s 5.1, was rejected in chambers by the Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin as “not urgent”.

It is meaningless to talk about the TI CPI 2009 as a “wake-up” call, as it would appear that nothing is capable of waking up the Barisan Nasional government to clean up corruption in Malaysia except for a change of federal government in the next general elections.

A survey of the 15 annual reports of the TI CPI from 1995 to 2009 shows that Malaysia occupies dubious company, sharing with Philippines the dishonour of being two of the 12 Asian countries first surveyed in 1995 which had ended with both lower CPI ranking and score in CPI 2009 as compared to CPI 1995 – with Malaysia suffering a bigger drop in CPI score of .78 (5.28 in 1995; 4.5 in 2009) as compared to Philippines, which suffered a drop of .37 in the past 15 years (2.77 in 1995; 2.4 in 2009).

In the first TI CPI 1995 report, Malaysia was ranked the top fourth out of 12 Asian countries, behind Singapore (No. 3), Hong Kong (No. 17) and Japan (No. 20), but 15 years later, Malaysia has slipped to ninth placing out of 24 Asian countries ranked, behind Singapore (3), Hong Kong (12), Japan (17), Taiwan (37), Brunei (39), South Korea (39), Macau (43), Bhutan (49) – all before Malaysia (56).

The sad story told by the TI CPI series from 1995-2009 is that in the past 15 years, Malaysia has become more corrupt, losing out not only to Taiwan and South Korea in Asia but likely to be overtaken by China, Thailand and India by 2020 and eventually even by Vietnam and Indonesia unless there is political will to stamp out corruption and the rot in government in Malaysia.

In the first TI CPI 1995 report, the last two of the 41 countries surveyed were all from Asia, viz: China (No. 40) and Indonesia (No. 41) but both have made significant strides in anti-corruption efforts as illustrated as follows:

Country CPI 1995
(out of 41)
CPI 2009
(out of 180)
China 40 (2.16) 79 (3.6)
Indonesia 41 (1.94) 111 (2.8)

Even Thailand and India made significant strides in combating corruption in their CPI scores if not in ranking, as follows:

Country CPI 1995
(out of 41)
CPI 2009
(out of 180)
Thailand 34 (2.79) 84 (3.4)
India 35 (2.78) 84 (3.4)

Vietnam was first included in the TI CPI 1997, ranked 43 out of 52 nations with 2.79 score. It is ranked No. 120 with a score of 2.7 in the TI CPI 2009.

All over Asia and the world, to enhance greater international competitiveness to promote greater economic development and growth, most countries are making great strides in institutional reforms particularly in cleaning up corruption in their economics and politics.

Malaysia stands out as moving in the opposite direction despite all the high-sounding rhetoric about integrity and war against corruption by one Prime Minister after another, like the recent establishment of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which has become a Frankenstein.

MACC has declared war on Pakatan Rakyat to serve the political agenda of Umno/Barisan Nasional instead of discharging its statutory duties to professionally, independently and fearless declare war against corruption like Indonesia’s Komiti Pembenterasan Korupsi with 100 per cent corruption conviction against the “sharks” as compared to MACC’s record of zero conviction against the “sharks”.

Instead of TI CPI 2009 serving as a wake-up call, the Barisan Nasional government of Datuk Seri Najib Razak remains stubborn in its denial with the Minister for International Trade, Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamad blaming the TI CPI and the methodology used instead of the increasingly rampant corruption in the country and the pervasive loss of national and international confidence in the BN government to declare an all-out war against corruption, as highlighted by MACC inaction or culpability in the various corruption scandals in the past few months, in particular the death of DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock at MACC headquarters in Shah Alam, the RM12.5billion PKFZ scandal, the Lingam Videotape scandal, etc. and continued government refusal to establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to create an efficient, incorruptible, professional world-class police service.

This is not only a great shame and infamy for Malaysia in international society but a great obstacle to any goal for Malaysia to become a developed high-income nation by 2020.

In pursuit of censorship

By Shanon Shah

MALAYSIANS are no strangers to censorship. So many things get censored in this country, local or foreign: books, films, television shows, theatre performances. The items censored are sometimes perplexing. For example, current reruns of the 1990s family sitcom The Nanny on the Hallmark Channel are missing out on the slightly risqué jokes and overtly Jewish references.

Mohd Asri
And so, when former Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin was arrested by Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) officers, it really should not have come as a surprise. But it was, maybe because it was one of those rare times that the Islamic authorities moved to censor someone who is also an authority in Islam in this country. And it was all the more controversial because Jais did not even appear to target Asri's ideas or works — Jais was trying to censor Asri the person.

Although Jais suffered an enormous credibility deficit among the public for targeting Asri, it must still be stressed that Jais was initially convinced it had the power and legitimacy to censor Asri. Indeed, Section 14 of Selangor's Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment criminalises "preaching without a permit". And by Asri's own admission in his earlier Utusan Malaysia column, the Selangor authorities did forbid him from speaking here.

The news on Asri has been overtaken by other headlines. There might be a by-election after all in Kota Siputeh in Kedah — the 10th since the March 2008 general election. Kelantan football fans turned violent at the Malaysia Cup final between Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan. There have been different sagas with the different political parties — the MCA and Parti Keadilan Rakyat immediately spring to mind. For now, Asri has dropped out of the news cycle.

It's deceptive to think of what happened to Asri in terms of cycles. There is nothing cyclical about the nature of censorship in Malaysia, especially on matters relating to Islam. Issues such as Asri's arrest only appear to occur in cycles, and then the collective attention shifts to other news breaks. But, taking Asri's case as an example, censorship in Malaysia is never resolved so easily. In fact, it appears to have a gravitational pull of its own — new books, new individuals, new films, new works, all continue to attach themselves to the nucleus of what is now Planet Censorship.

Banning and unbanning

Ebadi (Courtesy of Shirin Ebadi)
Remember Shirin Ebadi? In 2003, she became the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and only the fifth Muslim to receive the Nobel Prize in any field. In 2008, Ebadi was also banned from speaking in Malaysia. She was supposed to be one of the speakers invited to Malaysia by the organisers of the Bridges – Dialogues Towards Culture of Peace forum. The other speakers, including civil rights veteran Rev Jesse Jackson and Timor-Leste President Prof Jose-Ramos Horta, who was the 1996 Nobel Peace laureate, did not have any problems entering Malaysia.

It was only when the ban on Ebadi made international headlines that fingers started pointing. But nobody really wanted to accept responsibility for Malaysia, supposedly a "moderate" Muslim country, forbidding a Muslim Nobel Laureate from stepping on its shores. Was it the Foreign Ministry that directed the ban? Was it the Iranian government that pressured Malaysia to bar Ebadi? Or was it the local organisers themselves who were not so hot for Ebadi to begin with? It is hard to say, given that Ebadi fell out of the news cycle after then Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim formally retracted the ban.

But here is what we can all learn from the Ebadi incident:

There are elements at all levels of government and bureaucracy that can get away with censoring not just works and ideas, but individuals as well. It matters little if these works, ideas or individuals are Malaysian or not.

When such censorship happens, pin-pointing who is responsible can turn into an awfully big and frustrating adventure.

If enough of an uproar is made and catches the attention of major international news networks and other governments — preferably major trading partners of Malaysia — a member of government will usually try to reverse the damage. In other words, the government can ban something or someone, but if it is embarrassed enough, it will try to unban it or him or her.

Such reversal has largely been in rhetoric and not in deeds which are transparent and accountable.

The conclusion of this learning excursion might seem harsh, but take the Ebadi example again. Sure, Rais retracted the ban on her coming to Malaysia. Was she ever reissued an invitation to come? Did anyone publicly apologise to her? Did anyone actually step forward to inform us what the exact chain of events was that led to her being banned in the first place?

Not new at all

Karen Armstrong (
There are so many other cases of censorship that can be highlighted: the banning and subsequent unbanning of religious scholar Karen Armstrong's works; the banning of local filmmaker Amir Muhammad's The Last Communist; and the banning of an entire religious community, the Ahmadiyah. Even former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed at one point that he was being censored by the press. There are other examples that readers could probably supplement in the comments section of this page without much difficulty.

All these incidents, and more, eventually dropped out of the public consciousness, but it does not mean that they were all resolved. In fact, they remain clearly unresolved. They continue to add up and contribute to a climate of increasing censorship.

Is it any wonder then that more and more bureaucrats and government officials feel empowered to censor our thoughts and beliefs? And certainly, there are groups of citizens who not only tolerate but encourage such censorship. It is important to ask, though: What eventually happens to civilisations that are bred on so much censorship and so little open debate?

Another reason why we need more green space - Anil Netto

Many of us know instinctively that open green space around us can relax our minds and lift our spirits – somehow we just feel better.

A new study confirms just that: it shows that people living near green space experience less anxiety, depression, heart disease, back pain and asthma than those living in concrete jungles.

“The role of green space in the living environment for health should not be underestimated,” Dutch researchers wrote in a study published in the British Medical Journal’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Check out reports in PsychCentral here and Bloomberg here.

That’s another reason why we desperately need to preserve existing green space and create even more around us.

No wonder, with green space rapidly diminishing all over the country, all sorts of health problems are on the rise. (Another contributory factor for mental health problems is the wide gap between the rich and the poor, which this blog has highlighted in the past).

Le Danger du Clivage Ethnique

Le Temps
Malaysia mercredi18 November 2009
By Arnaud Dubus, Kuala Lumpur

Meeting with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim whose party has registered recent electoral successes. For the former deputy prime minister who spent six years in prison, the reforms of the new Prime Minister Najib Razak did not address the inherent weaknesses of the system of positive discrimination

For his political enemies, he is "the man the Americans" or "man of the Jews." Muslim cosmopolitan, familiar circles of the international elite, Anwar Ibrahim is a politician under pressure. As leader of the parliamentary opposition, former deputy prime minister is on his shoulders the hopes of a transformation of Malaysia, led since independence in 1957 by a coalition focused on the National United Malays (UMNO ), in a harmonious society where all three ethnic communities (65% Malays, 25% Chinese and 8% Indians) would see their rights respected.

"It's hard to be in opposition in this country. You're constantly under siege, "says he, between two parliamentary sessions. He speaks from experience: he spent six years in prison (1998-2004), convicted of sodomy and abuse of power, a decision widely recognized as the result of a settling of political accounts. Since his return to politics in early 2008, the Justice Party and the people he leads, and the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat has recorded several successful elections, denying, for the first time in fifty years, the coalition government symbolic of the majority of two thirds of seats in parliament.

"Printing" for change

Faced with this denial, the government under the new Prime Minister Najib Razak, has tried to redress the balance by initiating an internal reform of the UMNO, the party sclerotic and plagued by corruption, and adjusting the policy of positive discrimination , since 1972 which gives privileges to Malays. To do this, Najib has cleverly plundered in the program presented by the opposition to restore the prestige of his own party.

These reforms allow Anwar skeptical. "Najib has seen that our proposals were supported by population. When he came to power [note: last April succeeding Abdullah Ahmad Badawi], he made adjustments in launching the One Campaign Malaysia, on the suggestion of Epco, an Israeli firm public relations that had developed the One Campaign for Labor Israel Ehud Barak in 1999. The concept is attractive because it integrates all communities. I must admit that Najib can create the impression he tries to make changes. "For the opposition leader, the basic positions of the opposition and government are still clearly opposed. "We support a democratic and liberal," said Anwar. None of the basic rules of democracy is followed in Malaysia, except for elections. And yet. Same for the freedom of the press. "

For opposition leader, Najib reforms do not address the inherent weaknesses of the system of affirmative action in place. "I'm for affirmative action for the poor, without reference to race. But the policy of positive discrimination based on race remains. Najib has just made some adjustments. "For the opponent, the policy of positive discrimination is not wrong in itself, but it should not be based on ethnic criteria. "I am against any policy of assistance based on race, because these programs open the door to abuse. Only the rich benefit. In Kuala Lumpur, 70% of the poor are Malays, 20% Indians and 10% Chinese, it is they who must be helped, "Assen-t-il.

Weight divisions

Malaysia seems to have made it difficult to escape the weight of divisions between communities. In Kuala Lumpur, one of the most modern capitals of South-Eastern Asia, the Malay, Chinese and Indians live together peacefully, but do not mix. Anwar believes that ongoing divisions might pose serious problems for countries in the future. "When my youngest daughter has brought her close Chinese friend with us, it told me it was the first time in her life she was entering a Malay. I think it's strange, because I was raised on the island of Penang, where my neighbors are Chinese and Indians and where in the 1950s and 1960s, many communities are mixed. It's different in Kuala Lumpur. There is tolerance, respect, but not the spirit of wanting to live together, at least not yet. And I think we must strive to instill this mindset, "he said. His is the only party whose members and members are drawn from three communities. "It's a very bold experiment. If we can transfer this state of mind at the state level and district, the country will move forward, "said he.

Islamic Courts

The multiplication of incidents showing a rise of ultraconservative Islam also worries the head of the opposition, which is defined as a strict Muslim. One of these incidents concerned the case of a Muslim girl condemned by an Islamic court to be beaten with a rattan cane for drinking beer. "You can be conservative, but you must ensure that law enforcement is fair and transparent. In the case of the woman is especially hypocritical because we know that many political leaders are drinking alcohol in the comfort of five star hotels, "he said. In his view, the UNMO tent by the strictness of facade, pretending to be an Islamic party, to recover the conservative Malay voters who deserted during recent elections.
Original article

From Le Temps

Malaisie mercredi18 novembre 2009
Par Arnaud Dubus, Kuala Lumpur

Rencontre avec le chef de l’opposition Anwar Ibrahim dont le parti a enregistré de récents succès électoraux. Pour l’ancien vice-premier ministre qui a passé six années en prison, les réformes du nouveau premier ministre Najib Razak ne s’attaquent pas aux faiblesses intrinsèques du système de discrimination positive

Pour ses ennemis politiques, il est «l’homme des Américains» ou «l’homme des juifs». Musulman cosmopolite, familier des cercles de l’élite internationale, Anwar Ibrahim est un politicien sous pression. Comme leader de l’opposition parlementaire, l’ancien vice-premier ministre porte sur ses épaules les espoirs d’une transformation de la Malaisie, dirigée depuis l’indépendance en 1957 par une coalition centrée sur l’Organisation nationale unie des Malais (UMNO), en une société harmonieuse où chacune des trois communautés ethniques (65% de Malais, 25% de Chinois et 8% d’Indiens) verrait ses droits respectés.

«C’est dur d’être dans l’opposition dans ce pays. Vous êtes constamment en état de siège», confie-t-il, entre deux séances parlementaires. Il parle d’expérience: il a passé six ans en prison (1998-2004), condamné pour sodomie et abus de pouvoir, un jugement largement reconnu comme étant le fruit d’un règlement de comptes politique. Depuis son retour en politique, début 2008, le Parti de la justice et du peuple, qu’il dirige, et la coalition d’opposition Pakatan Rakyat ont enregistré plusieurs succès électoraux, privant, pour la première fois en cinquante ans, la coalition gouvernementale de la majorité symbolique des deux tiers des sièges au parlement.

«Impression» de changement

Devant ce désaveu, le gouvernement, sous l’égide du nouveau premier ministre Najib Razak, a tenté de redresser la barre en initiant une réforme interne de l’UMNO, parti sclérosé et gangrené par la corruption, et en aménageant la politique de discrimination positive, laquelle accorde depuis 1972 des privilèges aux Malais. Pour ce faire, Najib a habilement pillé dans le programme présenté par l’opposition pour redorer le blason de son propre parti.

Ces réformes laissent Anwar sceptique. «Najib a vu que nos propositions étaient soutenues par la population. Quand il est arrivé au pouvoir [ndlr: en avril dernier succédant à Abdullah Ahmad Badawi], il a opéré des ajustements en lançant la campagne One Malaysia, sur la suggestion d’Epco, une firme israélienne de relations publiques qui avait conçu la campagne One Israël pour le travailliste Ehoud Barak en 1999. Le concept est attractif car il intègre toutes les communautés. Je dois reconnaître que Najib arrive à créer l’impression qu’il essaie de faire des changements.» Pour le chef de l’opposition, les positions fondamentales de l’opposition et du gouvernement restent toutefois clairement opposées. «Nous sommes pour un gouvernement démocratique et libéral, dit Anwar. Aucune des règles de base de la démocratie n’est suivie en Malaisie, excepté pour les élections. Et encore. Même chose pour la liberté de la presse.»

Pour le leader de l’opposition, les réformes de Najib ne s’attaquent pas aux faiblesses intrinsèques du système de discrimination positive en place. «Je suis pour la discrimination positive pour les pauvres, sans références aux races. Mais la politique de discrimination positive basée sur les races demeure. Najib a juste opéré quelques ajustements.» Pour l’opposant, la politique de discrimination positive n’est pas condamnable en soi, mais elle ne doit pas être basée sur des critères ethniques. «Je suis contre toute politique d’assistance basée sur les races, car ces programmes ouvrent la porte aux abus. Seuls les riches en bénéficient. A Kuala Lumpur, 70% des pauvres sont Malais, 20% Indiens et 10% Chinois, ce sont eux qui doivent être aidés», assène-t-il.

Poids des divisions

La Malaisie semble de fait avoir bien du mal à échapper au poids des divisions entre communautés. A Kuala Lumpur, l’une des capitales les plus modernes d’Asie du Sud-Est, les Malais, les Chinois et les Indiens cohabitent pacifiquement, mais ne se mélangent pas. Anwar pense que cette permanence des clivages risque de poser de sérieux problèmes pour le pays à l’avenir. «Lorsque ma fille cadette a amené sa proche amie chinoise chez nous, celle-ci m’a dit que c’était la première fois de sa vie qu’elle entrait dans une maison malaise. Je trouve que c’est étrange, car j’ai été élevé sur l’île de Penang où mes voisins étaient chinois et indiens et où, dans les années 1950 et 1960, les communautés se mélangeaient beaucoup. C’est différent à Kuala Lumpur. Il y a de la tolérance, du respect, mais pas cet esprit de vouloir vivre ensemble, du moins pas encore. Et je pense que nous devons faire des efforts pour instiller cet état d’esprit», dit-il. Son parti est le seul dont les membres et les députés sont issus des trois communautés. «C’est une expérience très audacieuse. Si nous pouvons transférer cet état d’esprit au niveau des Etats et des districts, le pays ira de l’avant», estime-t-il.

Tribunaux islamiques

La multiplication d’incidents témoignant d’une montée de l’islam ultraconservateur inquiète aussi le chef de l’opposition, lequel se définit comme un strict musulman. Un de ces incidents concerne le cas d’une jeune musulmane condamnée par un tribunal islamique à être frappée à coups de cane de rotin pour avoir bu de la bière. «Vous pouvez être conservateur, mais vous devez vous assurer que l’application de la loi est juste et transparente. Dans le cas de cette femme, c’est particulièrement hypocrite, car on sait que de nombreux leaders politiques boivent de l’alcool dans le confort des hôtels cinq étoiles», dit-il. A ses yeux, l’UNMO tente, par ce rigorisme de façade, de se faire passer pour un parti islamique, afin de récupérer l’électorat malais conservateur qui l’a déserté lors des derniers scrutins.

Be Champion Of The People, UMNO Leaders, Members Told

KLANG, Nov 19 (Bernama) -- Umno leaders and members must strive to become the champion of the people in supporting efforts to improve the well-being of the communities, said its information chief, Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

He said Umno leaders and members must be proactive in solving the people's problems and building a better future for them.

"Becoming the champion of the people and harnessing the 1Malaysia concept have become the platform of our struggle as solving the people's problem and improving their livelihood have become part of our tradition. Place the people first," he added.

Speaking to reporters after attending a briefing on the rice subsidy programme (Subur) organised by the Kapar Umno division office here Wednesday night, he said Umno divisions must support social programmes which champion the people such as Subur.

He said Umno leaders and members must get closer to the people by attending feasts and visiting the sick, disaster victims and funerals irrespective of race.

Ahmad, who is also Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, also presented appointment letters to village security and development committee chairmen and secretaries in the Kapar parliamentary constituency.

Kapar Umno division head Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil urged village heads to ensure that no poor people were left out in the rice subsidy scheme.

Najib To Meet Warring Factions In MCA

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today he will meet warring factions in MCA to find a solution to the deepening crisis in the party.

Najib said he felt that the crisis in MCA, the second largest Barisan Nasional's (BN) component party, had become more serious and severe.

He added that the failure of MCA leaders to find a solution to the impasse could result in the party unable to win the trust and confidence of the Chinese community and the people as a whole.

"I will find time to talk to them and will see if there is a common ground; we will take it from there," he said after opening the 2009 International Paralympic Committee General Assembly here on Thursday.

To a question, Najib who is BN chairman, said he would meet the factions probably separately and would try to do so before Nov 28.

Groups aligned to vice-president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai are set to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on that date to push for a fresh party election.

Najib said there were many groups expressing disappointment over the turn of events in the MCA.

"Certainly if we want to find a formula for unity, our action should reflect that desire. It seems that what is happening in the MCA so far, no longer inspires confidence among those outside the party, including among BN component members," he said.

The prime minister also said that the crisis in the MCA would affect the BN, especially the effort to restore the coalition's image in the eyes of the people.

"Yes, it is going to hamper our effort to revive the position of BN in the eyes of the people. The people now see Umno as being very stable and has gone through the process of reforming itself and presenting a new image to the rakyat.

"We hope that other parties will come together and reflect the desire to put together a new image for the BN," he said.

In a latest twist to the crisis, MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat yesterday removed nine leaders aligned to Liow from the Presidential Council, including Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun.

To, All readers

Dear readers we would like to have your comments in connection with many Indians been killed by police and the death of Madam Seetha. Please write your opinion. We will post all your negative and positive comments tomorrow. Write to us at It can be also your protest .Thank you

NEM Admin

First2 minutes of Seetha's death 18Nov Suicide police shot dead

Karpal: How I would prosecute Lingam

Veteran lawyer Karpal Singh has outlined the steps he would take if he obtains authorisation to prosecute fellow-lawyer VK Lingam for allegedly brokering the appointment of judges.

"The minister in the Prime Minister's Department and de facto minister of law has dared the legal profession to take up the Lingam's case...," Karpal said in the Parliament lobby today.

"He (Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz) singled me out in fact and I accept the challenge."

"In fact I am prepared to prosecute Lingam for an offence under Section 4 of the Sedition Act. Quite clearly what is on the video clip, which has been shown nationally, and whatever he uttered amounts to a seditious tendency.

Section 3(1)(c) of the Act defines 'seditious tendency' as a tendency to bring the administration of justice into contempt or hatred.

"Even assuming Lingam is acting or trying to impress a client (in the footage), it still amounts to sedition."

NONEKarpal (right), also the DAP national chairperson and Bukit Gelugor MP, said it is a common practice in England for Queen's Counsels to engage private practitioners to prosecute on their behalf.

"Likewise in this country, there is provision in law for the attorney-general (AG) to issue a certificate which is a fiat to prosecute someone," he said, urging that this be done soon to enable action.

"For prosecution under Section 5 of the Sedition Act, there is requirement and predisposition for consent to prosecute to be issued by the AG."

Karpal said he would then apply in court to arrest Lingam and to have him produced in court for the purpose of taking a plea from him.

"Of course I will advise him to plead guilty because a plea of guilt is a paramount consideration when it comes to sentencing (but) of course he has the option to claim trial, which I think he will."

Karpal said that, if found guilty Lingam would face a maximum fine of RM5,000 or up to three years in jail, or both.

'Government can direct AG'

Whatever the outcome, Karpal said he is prepared to take on Lingam in the public interest as the latter's actions have "brought shame to the country (in general) and to the legal profession in particular".

"The time has come for action to be taken... the Lingam saga has been going on for... more than a year (and) recommendations by the Royal Commission of Inquiry are being ignored by the government," said Karpal, who offered his service free of charge.

Asked if he expects the AG to give consent, he said: "There is no question of persuading the AG - the AG is adviser to the government, he is not above the government.

"The government can direct the adviser and this can be easily done. Of course it will better if the prosecutor himself prosecutes, but he has opted not to (do so)."
vk lingam aca lingam tape 211107 attendLast year, the royal panel had, based on evidence it recorded, recommended investigations against Lingam (left), former chief justices Eusoff Chin and Ahmad Fairuz, business tycoon Vincent Tan, and then deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who was in charge of legal affairs.

In a recent written parliamentary reply to Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan), however, the government said it had closed the file on the matter.

Nazri told the House that the probe did not reveal any criminal offence and that, while Lingam's action may have been morally wrong, there is no specific law against it.

Ex-Perlis mufti charged

Sad road to Seetha’s suicide

I wrote the article below before news broke of Seetha’s passing. May she rest in peace. My prayers for her.

Words cannot hope to convey the plight of R Seetha (photo) who is in critical condition after her suicide bid.

NONEMine are hopelessly inadequate and I can only offer them in sympathy hearing that Seetha might die. Ingesting paraquat like she did causes liver, lung, heart or kidney failure within several days that can result in death.

In 2006, another young Indian woman M Sanggita took her four children to Sungei Gadut near Seremban to wait for the train to Singapore. The family was not going for a holiday but to their deaths.

Can you imagine such a state of mind where having the train run over you seems better than living? Sanggita, 30, and two of her children were killed that July day lying across the railway tracks.

“There is no use for all of us to live. I pity my kids. They have no future here. Let us be with God,” pleaded Sanggita in her suicide note.

She lamented that she could find no solace. “If given the opportunity, we would all come back as angels to help those in need,” the note ended. Like Sanggita, Seetha lived also in Negri Sembilan and perhaps angels did watch over her four children. Thankfully, they will – we’re hopeful – pull through after sipping the weed killer given by their mother.

Some people have called for Seetha to be charged with attempted murder.

It’s been reported that Seetha promised her children that if they drank the poison, they could meet their youngest uncle again who had been gunned down by police. I don’t think Seetha had it in mind to brutally kill her children – certainly not in the same way that police had done her brother Surendran.

Doubtless, I cannot claim to fathom what was going through her mind that tipped her over the edge. But neither can those condemning her imagine what Seetha has had to endure in her short life thus far. From the story fragments that have come to public knowledge, we can at best speculate.

A closed Tamil society

Seetha’s husband M Manimaran said his wife had told him that she wanted to see the departed Surendran and be with him.

rampathy police report_seetha dad_ 15112009Her father R Rampathy (far left) in his police report had said: “Seetha terlalu sayang kepada Surendran. Dia selalu nangis di hadapan gambar Surendran yang meninggal.”

The picture they paint is one of a woman consumed by inconsolable grief. For most of us, we lose our loved ones to old age or they succumb to natural causes. For the Tamil underclass like Seetha, death can visit a male sibling in a hail of bullets or occurring in the police lock-up. This comes about due to the chronic socio-economic deprivation of the community.

So, no, those comfortable armchair critics of Seetha can’t even begin to comprehend her anguish and the perennial dark cloud hanging when one is mired in poverty. Her father is a security guard; her husband a lorry driver. Both are low status and low pay jobs.

Seetha is a housewife; her mother is a housewife. A feminine shroud encloses homemakers in the still highly patriarchal Tamil society. The women’s limited life experience may not have allowed them to acquire the coping mechanisms that our ’survival of the fittest’ advocates, preaching fortitude, would like to think everyone else should possess.

The defeatist proletariat, denied access to empowering education, does not enjoy the buffer zone that better-off Malaysians have when it comes to confronting adversity and despair. Not just the shock of violent, sudden death but the depression that daily dampens their dispiriting environment.

Worlds apart, chasm between

A poor family earns a combined income of under RM1,092 monthly. This amount is all that a household – usually calculated as a unit comprising five members – has at their disposal to cover all expenditure including housing, utilities, food, schooling expenses and transport.

On the other hand, an affluent young couple may spend more than a thousand ringgit a month on milk powder alone for two young children, what with the price of things skyrocketing nowadays.

I’ve given the example above of two sets of people whose finances are at opposite ends. Wouldn’t their thinking norms be very different too? Seetha’s critics simply have no inkling of the facets of her world.

Do you know how many percent of Indians earn only around a thousand ringgit? The answer is 108,000 households … five years ago (certainly more poor people today). These 540,000 souls make up the bottom 30% of the 1.8 million total Indian population, according to the Social Strategic Foundation report of April 2005.

More data: From the Household Income Survey 2004 by the Economic Planning Unit and Department of Statistics. On the incidence of urban poverty, Bumiputera register 4.1%, Chinese 0.4% and Indian 2.4%.


Now compare with their respective population ratio that same year: Bumiputera was 61%, Chinese 24% and Indian 7% out of 25.6 million Malaysians. Indians who comprised a mere 7% of this country in 2004 showed a disproportionately high poverty rate in stark contrast to Chinese and Malays.

“You are on your own. Don’t hold out your hand because nothing will fall into it.” This quote is attributed to long overstaying MIC president Samy Vellu in the book ‘The Malaysian Indians’ by Muzafar Desmond Tate.

Heck, not only are the poor Indians refused help, even what little they had was taken away from them.

Rendered jobless and homeless

In 1980, plantation workers still accounted for over half of the entire Indian community, wrote Muzafar. What has been happening since then is that the plantations have been fragmented and their workers evicted from the labourer quarters.

The Putrajaya mega-project dislodged estate workers too (Golden Hope plantations among them) and in Mahathirville’s 4,580 hectares, there is no room for the Indians; you don’t see them in this shiny new administrative capital.

estate worker suhakam chairman resignation 080207 workersRubber estates like Golden Hope, Guthrie, Sime Darby and Boustead had been colonial enterprises.

Then, government agencies like Pemodalan Nasional Berhad took over Sime Darby (today merged with Guthrie and Golden Hope) while Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera acquired a controlling equity interest in Boustead. Now owned by government-linked Malays and managed by Malays, these corporations are developing the previously plantation land into lucrative real estate properties and new townships.

Oh well, too bad for the hapless Indians. Its displaced young generation drift to urban settlements and create slums.

As mentioned earlier, about 7% of the Malaysian general population is Indian but in their making up 16.1% of squatters, the ratio is double, not proportional. It’s hardly surprising that the Indian quota for low-cost rented accommodation with KL City Hall is always exhausted.

Meanwhile in Penang, a report submitted to the state government by the Socio-economic and Environmental Research Institute (Seri) in November 1998 revealed deplorable housing conditions.

Five percent of the survey respondents lived in containers while in Sungai Tiram, the majority of respondents lived in shacks which used to provide shelter for animals before. Ten years down the road, Penang kindly gave Indians the Kg Buah Pala saga.

The poverty trap led Surendran to his fateful meeting with destiny and trigger-happy cops. Seetha is the collateral damage. Can’t their circumstances and they too be considered hostage to the Indian condition?

NONEHuman Rights Party pro-tem secretary-general P Uthayakumar has intimated that should she die, he will bring her body to Parliament to drive home the point that police shootings of racially profiled and so-called ’suspects’ must stop.

Uthaya’s threat recalls the self-immolation or suicide by fire, of Buddhist monks to protest the Vietnamese regime in the 1960s.

Perhaps it will take a drastic measure like a frail, pretty corpse brought outside Parliament under the glare of international media attention to finally open Malaysia’s eyes. A deliberately neglected community is at the end of its tether, if only you knew.

hindraf british petition rally 251107Do you remember the unforgettable Hindraf rally images of Indians passively allowing themselves be drenched by chemical-laced water fired by the FRU cannons? How would an ordinary robust individual react in the same circumstances? You’d run.

So how did a swathe of marginalized Malaysians come to such pass that they squat wet in the street like martyrs with nothing else to lose?

Some have slammed Seetha for attempting to take her own life. Can these censorious people please try to plumb the question that plagued one who deserves only our compassion: ‘What’s there to live for?’

HELEN ANG is a Malaysiakini columnist.