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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sad road to Seetha's suicide - Malaysiakini

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?

Uthaya vows to bring body to Parliament

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.

'New Politics' rough road ahead for M'sia - Malaysiakini

"New Politics involves universality and the lifting of sectarian borders, while at the same time maintain the identities of each major ethnic group," said Universiti Malaya ethnic and racial politics lecturer Noor Sulastry Yurni Abdullah.

NONEAccording to Noor Sulastry (left), New Politics as espoused by the likes of Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah is an idea that should have been practiced a long time ago.

More recently, she said the 12th general election served as a reminder that political change is necessary in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, no real or substantial political reforms were undertaken since the 2008 general election.

Noor Sulastry however stressed that both the society and the political leadership must give their full support to the concept to ensure the success of this new and much awaited political culture.

Society is ready

"In my opinion, the society has already been ready for it ever since the transition of power brought by the 'tsunami' of the 12th general election," said Noor Sulastry.

"The peoples' votes is very telling about their choices of which government they want to put in power."

Noor Sulastry agreed with the view that the society wanted New Politics to such an extent that politicians who still practice old politics would be booted out.

"They thirst for New Politics after years of being under the yoke of old politics."

NONENoor Sulastry argued the development of New Politics goes hand in hand with independent and alternative media.

"I think that the global rise in the role of alternative media is an important indicator of the development of New Politics."

This, she said, is not only happening in Malaysia, but neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, which has shown a marked increase in Internet users and blog readers.

"Society is ready, but the leadership must also be ready. The two must work in concert to ensure the smooth running of a country's administration," she said.

Noor Sulastry believed that "as long as there are leaders who are close-minded towards accepting this, New Politics will be but a fantasy".

She likened this process to Prime Minister Najib Razak's 1Malaysia concept.

Dodgy government practices

Noor Sulastry also cited political scientist Francis Loh, who explained that New Politics is about an administration which is decentralised, much akin to democratic federalism.

Loh had expressed hope that the recent political developments will favour a restructuring in the balance of power between the federal government and the states.

According to Loh, this restructuring could also act as a check on excesses and abuses on the part of the federal government, and promote better governance.

NONEOther than Saifuddin, many others are voicing their views on New Politics in their own way.

Noor Sulastry gave the example of Pakatan Rakyat coalition advisor Zaid Ibrahim (right), who argued that old politics is no longer relevant in today's political landscape.

Noor Sulastry said that society wants a government which is more transparent and accountable.

However, issues such as corruption, misuse of power and the lack of transparency continue to be a concern, not only in political organisations but also the government.

This will hamper New Politics from truly becoming a reality, she said.

HRP: Indian orphan (7) forced to Islam at Welfare Home

Converts abandoned, not guided

P Dev Anand Pillai
The predicament that Banggarma from Penang is going through is very common amongst the Indians in the country. The question is, why do our authorities whom these poor souls place their trust in, allow such practices?

Although the authorities may argue that this has been the practice since olden days, in this day and age, the child who has been placed in the trust of such an authority should be allowed the freedom to choose their religion when he or she is at an age where they can decide.

In this case, even though she attended some religious classes, she has been left to fend for herself and hence, she returns to her roots which is Hinduism.

The authorities may have had good intentions when they did the act of conversion. In any other part of the world and as history has shown us, conversion to the religion of the provider has always been the case as it is easier for providence to flow to the destitute.

The Christian missionaries have been doing this all throughout the lands that they have conquered and through this civilisation, a sense of belonging arises where a vast segment of those who have been neglected seek to uplift their social status.

But the authorities in the Malaysian case have failed to continuously counsel, motivate and guide the new entrant or convert which leaves the new convert not much choice but to return to their roots. Please note that one is not blaming any party in this predicament but this seems to be a common occurrence which no one wants to about.

There may be many in the same predicament that Banggarma is in but do not know whom to turn to or which authority to go to for help. The National Registration Department (JPN) is not very helpful as they are only worried about registration and once registered, it is a one-way ticket with no possible return in sight.

Once these converts return to their roots, living life as a Hindu, carrying out religious practices as a Hindu and marrying someone from the same faith and begetting children, the problem further worsens. Once the marriage cannot be registered, their children too will be affected.

The authorities will be in a confused state because of the lack of trite law and will go ahead to give these individuals identification certificates which are lacking in vital information which one needs to get by in Malaysia.

This predicament leads to a life of uncertainty and these individuals may see themselves rejected in every sphere of their endeavour in trying to get jobs, doing business or even their basic right to education. At the end of the day, this sows the seeds of hatred and many turn to a life of crime because no questions are asked in this field. As long as the job is done, the rewards are given.

So the question is, who do we blame? In the case of Banggarma, her conversion should be nullified by the religious authorities, her marriage properly registered, her identity card recorded with the correct details and her children’s birth certificates filled in with the correct particulars so that the whole family can lead a normal life.

Again, the question is, is there a political will? Do we have such a will? If the current administration’s propaganda of a ‘1Malaysia’ is worth its salt, then issues like these should be of paramount interest. But as we all know, it is just a mere slogan with the system going on as usual with nothing changing.

The people want solutions to problems not slogans, songs, dance and advertisements. We can only find the answers if our institutions are freed from the clutches of the executive and when there is respect for the highest law of the land which is the constitution. Till then, there will be many more Banggarmas.

Hindraf Cow head candle vigil – 16 arrested. MCA vigil no arrest (Refer The Star 20/11/2009 at page N14)

This is UMNO’s justice which “abides” by Article 8 of the Federal Constitution which provides for equality and equal protection before the law. Bravo UMNO!



Hindraf Cow head candle vigil







Bravo UMNO! This is One Malay-sia!


Malaysian born K. Minachi denied citizenship for 63 years. (Star Metro 11/11/2009 at page M11)

Article 14 of the Federal Constitution provides: -

Citizenship by operation of law

1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, the following persons are citizens by operation of law, that is to say:

a) every person born before Malaysia Day who is a citizen of the Federation by virtue of the provisions contained in Part 1 of the Second Schedule; and

b) every person born on or after Malaysia Day and having any of the qualifications specified in Part II of the Second Schedule.

This is a classical UMNO style politics. They take away what is rightfully, legally and constitutionally yours, make you beg UMNO for years and years UMNO gives you a run around and finally UMNO gives their MIC Mandores a role to play by making and/or passing off as if they fought for and secured UMNO’s help in getting for example this citizenship which should have been Minachis’ ab initio (from the very beginning).

Now this MIC mandore says “ I had dealt with four or five (UMNO) ministers who said they would look into it, but it was Hishamuddin who gave an assurance and delivered,” he said.

The UMNO Indian MIC mandore thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Hishammuddin for attending to the Indians who had problems getting citizenship.

In furtherance of the “ayam telur sebiji, rioh sekampong” “wayang kulit” this UMNO’s MIC Indian mandore lies through his teeth by saying “I believe more than 1, 000 indians received the good news in September that they are now citizens”.

Wow! What a wonderful government UMNO could be! Bravo! UMNO!

P. Uthayakumar


‘I’m Sabahan, they treat me worse than foreigners’

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 21 —DAP Sri Tanjung assemblyman Jimmy Wong has described as a waste of time and public funds the move by the Sabah government to set up a special committee to investigate allegations on his possession of the Sijil Anak Negeri (SAN) or Native Certificate.

He said the state government should instead focus on forming a special committee to resolve the perennial problem of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants in the state, particularly those who obtained the MyKad through dubious means.

Wong said that based on reports, some of the illegal immigrants who managed to obtain dubious MyKad had subsequently applied for native certificates.

“This (illegal immigrants) is the real or biggest problem in Sabah that warrants the setting up a special committee. But they purposely made me a scapegoat to shut up my mouth because I’m vocal in highlighting the people’s problems including protecting an open space near Sabindo in Tawau.

“I applied for this native certifcate through proper channel about 30 years ago and the Native court approved it... I never abused it. I was born and brought up in Sabah, and my grandmother was a sino-Kadazan. That’s why I applied for it,” he told reporters here today.

Wong was responding to the announcement by State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor in his winding up speech for his ministry at the state assembly on Thursday that the ministry would set up a special committee to investigate the allegation made by Sekong assembyman Datuk Samsuddin Yahya.

Apart from the issue of native certificate, Samsuddin also alleged that the DAP representative owned a resort in Semporna, as well as encroached onto government land when renovating his house.

Following this, Wong said he lodged a report at the Karamunsing police station here yesterday to enabl e the police to investigate whether his native certificate was false.

He claimed that the allegations were politically motivated and were aimed at divert the people’s attention from the numerous problems affecting the state, including illegal immigrants, electricity, water and corruption.

“They treat me worse than foreigners. I’m a Malaysian born in Sabah and I think this is an insult to the aspirations of the 1 Malaysia concept coined by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“Questioning the identity of local born people is not good for national unity. In fact, I was made to understand that there are Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders, especially those at the divisional level, who originally came from neighbouring countries, and were brought up here after obtaining the MyKad, and this should be investigated,” he added.

Wong also challenged all the BN state assemblymen, including ministers and assistant ministers, to declare their assets to see whether their assets including their houses matched their accumulated allowances.

“They portray that they (BN elected representatives) are cleaner than me and it is only fair that they declare their assests for public scrutiny once and for all,” he said.

Police shoot, kill suspected ‘Berong Gang’ leader

PETALING JAYA, Nov 21 — A man wanted by police and believed to be the leader of the Berong Gang, Herrie Berong, 48, was killed by police at 8pm yesterday during a shootout with police.

Earlier, he was seen in a Proton Waja, believed to be stolen on May 17 in Desa Jaya, in front of a bank in Sri Damansara. Police followed him till Subang Bestari and ordered him to stop.

Selangor CID chief Datuk Hasnan Hassan told reporters he shot at police and died on the spot after being hit by two shots fired by police.

Herrie Berong, who had permanent resident status, is believed to have been involved in 30 robbery cases in the Klang Valley.

Police found three machetes, an automatic pistol, and six bullets with one bullet in the gun’s chamber.

At the time of the shooting, the suspect was believed to be on his way to commit another robbery.

His modus operandi was to ram into the vehicles of bank customers when they came out and then smash their window.

The Berong Gang is believed to have been operating for two years and often injured their victims. Police are looking for six more members of the gang.

Thailand’s justice crusader

Dr Pornthip will observe Teoh Beng Hock’s second autopsy.—Pictures by Choo Choy May

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — Teoh Beng Hock, the 30-year-old political aide to a Selangor executive councillor who died and was buried in July, will be exhumed this morning for another autopsy in Hospital Sungai Buloh tomorrow.

The new team’s role is to confirm if he really did die because he jumped off a high building unaided or was pushed out a window after being beaten up to the point of passing out.

Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand engaged by Teoh’s employer, the Selangor state government — had testified in an inquest last month that there was a 80 per cent probability that his death was a homicide rather than a suicide, which was the finding of the first autopsy by two local pathologists.

The coroner’s court has agreed to let Dr Pornthip and one other British forensic expert — hired by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) — observe the second autopsy, which under Malaysian laws, must be performed by local doctors.

It is only Dr Pornthip’s second time advising a case outside of her native country.

But the 53-year-old stern-faced doctor remained fully composed when met by The Malaysian Insider here recently, when she flew in to join the third Asian Forensic Sciences Network Conference.

Her first consultation outside Thailand was three years ago, in Muslim-majority Aceh, she related.

Like Malaysia, Indonesia’s laws limit a foreign forensic expert’s role in an autopsy.

She had been called in to assist a second and independent post-mortem on an opposition member who was thought to have been killed by the country’s powerful military.

“It was more than six months after his death. He was also Muslim. The body was not in good shape,” Dr Pornthip said.

Unlike a Christian burial where the body is encased in a coffin, a Muslim body is wrapped up in a shroud and laid directly into the earth.

Dr Pornthip had previously testified that a post-mortem is best done within the first six months of burial as the natural decaying process holds a higher risk of eating up evidence in suspicious deaths.

Even so, in Aceh, the second autopsy confirmed the public sentiment that foul play was involved in the victim’s death.

What happened next to the case?

Dr Pornthip shrugged her thin shoulders, sending her multi-coloured lion’s mane fluffing sideways.

She does not know. She was specifically engaged for her scientific knowledge only.

In Thailand though, things are slightly different for her.

As the director-general of the Bangkok-based Central Institute of Forensic Science Institute (CIFS), she reports directly to the chief secretary in the Ministry of Justice, and is granted greater clout in the investigation process.

She explained that there was an attempt in Thailand a few years, to bring the various investigative and prosecution divisions under the same roof, namely the Ministry of Justice, to better co-ordinate the entire justice system.

But it failed. She blamed it on politics, noting that then Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra — who she says once worked as a police constable — refused to push the Bill in Parliament.

The police itself, said Dr Pornthip, reports directly to the prime minister, again unlike Malaysia where its powers are curbed by the home minister.

Then, as now, the police force decides what cases go to court for prosecution, unlike Malaysia where it is the Attorney-General who decides.

Earlier, she spoke enthusiastically about the Asian Forensic Sciences Network Conference, which she had been invited to and regarded it as a brilliant idea to “build a network among Asian countries to share knowledge”.

She added that some eight countries participated this year, which included newcomers South Korea, Laos and Vietnam.

All but Thailand had sent representatives from both the scientific side as well as the police side.

No police official came to speak for her country, she said disappointedly.

“The system of investigation in Thailand is under police authority. We are still very far behind other countries… even Malaysia,” Dr Pornthip lamented.

Apart from these outward divisions of power, the two countries are bound by a common public perception that the authorities — the police especially — frequently abuse their power and have a deeply entrenched practice of selective prosecution.

These two points were critically highlighted in the Corruptions Perceptions Index launched worldwide earlier this week by global corruption watchdog Transparency International.

Dr Pornthip is often at odds with the chief of police in public over her institute’s findings, which more often than not, contradict the findings of the police investigation teams, and this has put her personal and professional life at risk.

Strident critics in Thailand have labelled her an “egomaniac”, a fact she is well aware of, but was surprised to learn that those hateful comments have also started springing up in Malaysia in the wake of the Teoh Beng Hock case.

She turned her head away sharply in a dismissive gesture.

“A lot of Asian people like that, just like Thai,” said Dr Pornthip. “Maybe because of my appearance.”

“I don’t want to be something like a hero, heroine. When they want to find the truth, I don’t want my name to be first,” she added, and explained that it was because of high-profile cases that received a lot of media attention that she became famous.

Dr Pornthip remarked that it had started when a member of the Thai Parliament was involved in a case.

The MP’s brother was found dead. Police investigators claimed he had shot himself but she carried out an independent investigation and found that it was impossible for him to have shot himself and backed it up with her scientific findings.

“For me, I don’t care about politics or sensitive issues. I just try to help the victims find the truth,” she said.

The forensic science institute she now leads was established seven years ago, she said, to give “a choice for the people to come in and ask for help in investigation” when the main door for justice through the police had slammed in their faces.

She related that anyone can walk in to CIFS from the street and request their help for a second opinion.

Dr Pornthip explained that CIFS aimed to boost the standard of investigation practices in Thailand, to make it more accountable and transparent.

Dr Pornthip suspects people dismiss her because of her looks.

The work they do is a combination of forensic science, which deals with death investigations, and forensic medicine, which deals with living patients, she added.

“We are trying to train crime scene investigators to be specialists,” she summarised.

Currently, the CIFS is manned by 300 people, with 85 per cent made out of scientists who hold great knowledge but little field work experience.

It gets five cases a week involving unnatural death where foul play is suspected. Thirty per cent of their investigations confirm those suspicions.

But mainly CIFS is kept busy with work in rural areas to help identify anonymous bodies. This amounts to 1,000 missing people reported a year.

Those jobs, though, she delegates to the rest of the staff. For now, she has thrown herself into investigating a series of “organised crime” in southern Thailand, which has been put under martial law.

Leading her 15-man team — few of her colleagues want to head south to work and she doesn’t want to force them — Dr Pornthip collaborates with the local military force to collect evidence and trains the soldiers on how to conserve, collect, secure and handle crime scene investigations.

That consumes most of her time and energy. She related that the serial killings are highly organised hate crimes and take many forms, from beheadings, which are the most difficult to piece together — because the heads are often missing from the crime scene — to bombs.

Dr Pornthip noted with concern that the use of explosives was on the rise and foresees a trend for them in strife-torn regions across Asia.

Smiling brightly, she added that Malaysia was lucky to be spared such forms of terrorism.

Teoh Beng Hock’s body exhumed

The exhumation of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock at the Nirvana Memorial Park, Semenyih this morning has been carried out satisfactorily and the second autopsy will be carried out at the Sungai Buloh Hospital tomorrow.

Thai pathologist, Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand, who was present at the exhumation, said Teoh’s body is still in good condition for the autopsy.

Teoh Beng Hock’s mysterious death at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Shah Alam on July 16 has become a national and international cause célèbre and touchstone of the independence, credibility and professionalism of MACC.

Teoh’s death and the ensuing crisis of confidence in the MACC is undoubtedly one major reason for Malaysia’s worst ranking and score in 15 years in the recently-announced Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2009, plunging 33 places from No. 23rd position in 1995 to No. 56th position in 2009 and a drop of .77 score from 5.28 in 1995 to 4.5 in 2009.

All were burdened with a heavy heart at the exhumation as it is a painful process which Teoh’s family, DAP leadership, friends and supporters had to go through so that there can be a second autopsy to get to the bottom of his death and to bring to book his killers, as no one believed that Teoh committed suicide by jumping off the 14th floor MACC headquarters.

Justice for Teoh Beng Hock

Teoh body exhumed, in good condition
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid | The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — The exhumation of Teoh Beng Hock’s body for a second autopsy, ordered by the inquest into his recent death, has been completed. The exhumation comes following the testimony of Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand that the death of the political aide was very likely a homicide.

A team of ten police forensic experts had earlier cordoned off the grave area with the aid of several cemetery workers, who are helping with the exhumation.

Teoh’s family members arrived earlier, and began offering rites to the departed’s spirit. A feng shui master explained that the time of the exhumation had been chosen specifically to coincide with swallows beginning the day, for good luck.

Dr Pornthip is also on the scene to observe the exhumation process.

Following the prayer rituals, the casket was successfully disinterred and displayed to the media present, before being covered in plastic sheets.

The family’s lawyer, Gobind Singh Deo, said that all parties involved were satisfied with the way the exhumation was performed and added that Teoh’s body was still in good condition for the second autopsy.

Dr Shahidan Md Noor, the chief pathologist at the Sungai Buloh Hospital, along with Dr Pornthip are expected to carry out an X-ray examination on the body later.

The casket containing the body has been transported to the hospital, which will be the site of the second autopsy scheduled to run from 9.30am to noon tomorrow.

Teoh’s former employer, Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, said at the cemetery: “I hope the second autopsy will reveal the truth.”

Yong also stated his desire to know how much the government spent hiring the UK pathologist Dr Peter Vanezis — one of two foreign pathologists, along with Dr Pornthip, who will be observing the second autopsy.

Dr Vanezis, who serves as a director at the Cameron Centre for Forensic Medical Sciences in London, has handled over 2,000 autopsy cases involving sudden death, of which 1,500 were found to be homicides.

“The fact that they hired a foreign expert shows they have no confidence in the local pathologists,” Yong added.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and Ronnie Lie were also in attendance. Both expressed hope that a fresh autopsy will reveal who or what “killed” Teoh.

Lim also added that Teoh’s death may have been a contributing factor towards Malaysia’s worst ever placing in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.

Save the party

Image My SinChew

Finally, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak can no longer tolerate the endless MCA crisis and started to step in. It may bring both positive and negative effects to MCA. It can help to resolve the crisis as soon as possible but the bad thing is, it may once again reduce the dignity of MCA, which is self-inflected by MCA leaders.

MCA President Ong Tee Keat 's another “exclusion move” is the key reason that causes Najib to step in. Since the Greater Unity Plan (GUP) is ineffective, they can only hold a fresh polls in order to recover the dignity, democracy and credibility of MCA. And whether MCA will be able to revive after Najib has stepped in, it will all depend on the grassroots. Only the one million MCA members can decide the party's future.

Sin Chew Daily received a lot of reader's calls recently. An elder reader said: “We don't want MCA news, how boring it is to see them blubbering. MCA is unable to represent the Chinese community and Chinese people don't want MCA...” A colleague from the Circulation Department also said that MCA stories are not able to increase the paper's circulation. Thus, we can see that people are very tired of MCA crisis and they have been disheartened.

"The 60-year-old shop will sooner or later shut down."

When I first joined the media industry, I used to severely criticise MCA whenever there was an opportunity. The then boss of mine gave me an advice that I should not use such strong words. But now, I do not think I have done wrong.

In MCA history, the party had gone through one after another power struggle over the past 60 years and the Chinese community had been fooled many times. For example, during the party crisis between Tan Koon Swan and acting President Datuk Neo Yee Pan, the Chinese community greatly supported the Tan faction but unexpectedly, the crisis was followed by the outbreak of the Cooperative Finance scandal in which a former MCA leader was sent to jail and many people lost their deposits.

After experiencing one after another party crisis, today's MCA does not have a soul but only interests. In fact, it sustains only on interests. The Ong faction may get united with the Chua faction for interests today and central committee members who supported Vice-President Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai may shift to support Ong tomorrow. Similarly, grassroot leaders may just simply change their stands for interests without caring about principles and democracy.

Wanita Chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun asked what was the problem for the members to go sightseeing after attending the Liow faction's EGM briefing? The problem is, if it was really for the party's future, would they still have the mood for sightseeing? Was the briefing the main purpose, or the sightseeing? If Liow faction's 28 Nov EGM was meant to defend democracy, why are they able to raise only tens of thousands ringgit?

The three MCA factions have to treat the grassroots dinner in order to brief them. Would they attend the briefing without a dinner treat? When Pakatan Rakyat gathered its supporters and members, they met in sweltering stadiums without any delicacy. As for MCA, it has been stressing only on interests but not democracy, reform and principles. The 60-year-old shop will sooner or later shut down.

The shameless MCA leaders are proceeding in the opposite direction of democracy stressed in the globalisation era. They are as well getting farther and farther away from young people. The hollowness of MCA political ideology and the emptiness of its values have pushed the party to the edge of the cliff under the two-line system. Once BN sets up the “Friends of Barisan Nasional”, Najib can directly contact with representatives of all groups. The entire MCA will collapse after loosing its power and position.

More than six million of Chinese people may give up MCA but the one million party members cannot do that. MCA members must control their own desires and come forward to save the not democratic and crumbling MCA. (By LIM SUE GOAN/ Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/ Sin Chew Daily)

Tea with Chin Peng - Rocky's Bru

An invite for Anwar's PKR. The picture is bad and we'll need to verify if an invitation has, indeed, be extended to PKR for the event. In the meantime, we can ask the question: Will Anwar Ibrahim accept the invitation to be guest-of-honour from Chin Peng, who killed thousands of Malaysian soldiers and civilians in atrocities sponsored by the Communists against a democratic and Merdeka Malaysia?

Can't wait ....

p.s. Journos following this up, please ask if there's an invite for Umno, too.

Nato raid 'kills Afghan civilians'

A joint Afghan-Nato raid has outraged Afghan villagers, who claim innocent civilians were killed.

The operation took place in the village of Haiderabad in Ghazni province early on Friday morning.

The raid began when the doors to a compound were blown open. Witnesses say soldiers came in shooting while families lay asleep.

Locals say two of the men killed had no connections with the Taliban whatsoever, but were rather a baker and a grocer.

Troops also made two arrests.

David Chater reports.

HINDRAF – 3 events on November 25th 2009 to commemorate HINDRAF’s Neo Democratic Revolution.

HINDRAF – 3 events on November 25th 2009 to commemorate HINDRAF’s

Neo Democratic Revolution.

It has been two years since the Neo Democratic Revolution and uprising of the Malaysian Indians against the marginalized and systematic discrimination against them by the UMNO led Government.

HINDRAF would be organizing three events to commemorate the people’s Neo Democratic Revolution initiated by HINDRAF against the totalitarian government led by the UMNO.

Event No 1 -

A gathering of 18 HINDRAF supporters in front of KLCC between 9.00am- 4.00pm to observe a hunger strike representing the 18 point demands that was submitted to the UMNO led government in uplifting the Malaysian Indian community that has been systematically marginalized and discriminated by the government for the last 52 years.

Event No 2 –

HINDRAF chairman’s daughter, W. Vaishnavi will be attending the Prime Minister’s Department in Putra Jaya to hand over a letter from HINDRAF Chairman detailing the current and immediate problems of the Malaysian Indians in regards to the discrimination that they face in socio development backwardness of the Malaysian Indian society within the sphere of Malaysian community in regards to education, economics, business, police abuses, freedom of religious practice and other continued suppression on Article 5, 8, 10 & 13 of the constitution against the public more particularly against the Malaysian Indians.


Event No 3 :

Nationwide prayers at more than 100 locations to light 18 ghee lamps to signify the 18 Point Demands submitted by Hindraf to the then Prime Minister that is yet to be fulfilled. A complete list of temples holding such prayers would be available for viewing on our website on the 25th November 2009.

A separate mega Ruthra yagam/fire ritual would be held on 29th November 2009 at Agora Veerabathrar Sanggili Karuppar Temple 17 ½ Mile Kg.Benggali Rawang Selangor.

It is a common cause for all Malaysian if fairness and equality is what we pursue to enhance our community’s agenda against the repressive government led by UMNO and its voiceless and spineless coalition for the betterment of the society.

Hindraf warns the Royal Malaysian Police not to interfere, disrupt and/or sabotage these peaceful gatherings which are organised in accordance to our basic rights enshrined under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and which is very meaningful and significant to Malaysian Indians.

Thank you


Internal Relations Coordinator


New York

+1 646 6378600





P.M Letter : 817 (7As) Tamil school pupils should be accepted into MRSM & fully residential school in the true One Malaysia policy with effect from 1/

NO.6, Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-2282 5241 Fax: 03-2282 5245 Website:

Your Reference :

In Reply :

Date : 20/11/2009

YAB. Dato Seri Najib Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Block Utama Bangunan Perdana Putra,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
62502 Putrajaya.
Tel : 03-8888 8000 Fax : 03-8888 3444
E-Mail :

Y.B Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
Minister of Education Malaysia,
Pejabat Menteri Pelajaran,
Aras 10, Block E8,
Complex Kerajaan Parcal E,
62604 Putrajaya.
Tel : 03-8884 6000 / 03-8884 6030 Fax : 03-8889 5846
E-Mail :

P.M Letter : 817 (7As) Tamil school pupils should be accepted into MRSM &
fully residential school in the true One Malaysia policy with effect from

We refer to the above matter wherein 817 Tamil school pupils scored 7As’
which caught headlines in Malaysia Nanban, Tamil Nesan and Makkal Osai on
20/11/2009 .

May we bring to your kind attention that all these 817 Tamil school
pupils however have not been rewarded or recognized accordingly in One
Malaysia’s national education policy vis a vis the national mainstream
development of Malaysia.

The national school pupils could only score a maximum of 5As’.But
where do these 7As’ top scoring 817 cream, high achieving and flying
colors Tamil school pupils go to from here to be able to also
contribute to the nation’s brain power and progress. Why is their brain
power not tapped for One Malaysia ?

We hereby urge your goodselves to in the true spirit of One Malaysia also
admit all these high achieving 817 Tamil school pupils who had scored 7As’
into all the Maktab Rendah Sains Mara, Fully Residential schools and
the scores of elite schools accordingly with effect from 1/1/2010. We note
that there are 6,000 places in 54 ( Utusan Malaysia 8/11/2009 at page 12)
fully residential schools and another 5100 places in Maktab Rendah Sains
Mara (MRSM) colleges. But we are not aware of single Indian pupil in any
of the aforesaid colleges and schools. Kindly confirm accordingly. Then
and only then are we on track and on the road to Prime Minister Najib
Razak’s true sincere and meaningful One Malaysia.

We hereby respectfully urge your goodselves to announce this forward
moving sincere One Malaysia decision immediately after the next Cabinet
Meeting which is to be held on 25/11/2009 and which we call upon to be
implemented with effect from 1/1/2010. This your goodselves decision would
further spur and become a motivating factor and incentive to thousands
more Tamil school pupils to excel further in their studies and contribute
their brain power to the future national mainstream development of

These 817 cream of the Tamil school students should not be seen to be
excluded from the national mainstream education policy and system of

This our request is in compliance with Article 8 and 12 of the Federal
Constitution which provides that:

Article 8

1) All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal
protection of the

Article 12
Rights in respect of education

1) Without prejudice to the generality of Article 8, there shall be no
discrimination against any citizen on the grounds only of religion, race,
descent or place of birth –

(a) in the administration of any educational institution maintained by
by a public authority, and in particular, the admission of pupils or
students or the payment of fees; or
(b) in providing out of the funds of a public authority financial aid for the
maintenance or education of pupils or students in any educational
institution (weather or not maintained by public authority and whether
within or outside the Federation ).

Kindly revert to us accordingly.

Thank You,

Your Faithfully,

Secretary General ( pro-tem)


New Indian ADUN mandore makes good in PKR, attacks Manoharan Malayalam

New Indian ADUN mandore makes good in PKR, attacks Manoharan Malayalam

A new Selangor PKR Indian mandore attacks Manoharan Malayalam, Hindraf lawyer and Kota Alam Shah State Assemblyman. This is UMNO style damage control by PKR. If you notice it is this kind of Indian mandore material who are chosen by both sides ie UMNO and PKR, DAP and PAS to became elected representatives and made out to be the Indian community leaders. In any event this PKR mandore was a former UMNO’s number one Indian party mandore who has now “made it good” in PKR. This new Indian mandore like the anchor Selangor EXCO Indian Mandore and all other PKR, DAP and PAS mandores in particular in Selangor should get to the point and secure all 97 Tamil schools state government land titles as the very first baby step. Similarly in Penang there are 28 Tamil schools 28 and 58 in Kedah which also has to be granted state land.

HRP supports Manoharan Malayalam who spoke the truth.

P. Uthayakumar.



HRP Information Chief S. Jayathas: Seetha cremated (The Sun 20/11/2009 at page 4)


Najib: Gowa visit like a homecoming

This is all very confusing if you live in Indonesia and are used to how Indonesians identify ethnic groups.

In Indonesia you would say that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib is a a orang Bugis. At no time would the Indonesians say that he is a orang Melayu or even orang keturunan Melayu because his ancestors hail from Sulawesi, not Riau or a small part of Kalimantan that is home to orang Melayu in Indonesia.

Yet in Malaysia, Najib is head of the United Malays National Organization, or Umno, that is the main coalition partner in Malaysia. The organization champions Malay rights and such interesting concepts such as ketuanan Melayu (Malay superiority).

So please help me out: Is Najib a Bugis or a Malay? Or a Gowan (if such a word exists and its not Scottish for a yellowish flower).

Najib: Gowa visit like a homecoming


MAKASSAR (South Sulawesi): For Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, his second visit to this capital city of South Sulawesi since becoming Prime Minister is by far the most nostalgic one.

Royal welcome: Najib (centre) and his wife Rosmah, dressed in traditional Gowa costumes, arriving for the 689th anniversary ceremony of the Gowa kingdom yesterday. — Reuters

Royal welcome: Najib (centre) and his wife Rosmah, dressed in traditional Gowa costumes, arriving for the 689th anniversary ceremony of the Gowa kingdom yesterday. — Reuters

“I feel like I am returning to my roots,” said Najib at the end of his one-day official visit yesterday. He is making his fourth visit to the capital.

Najib was here as the guest-of-honour at the 689th anniversary of the Gowa state government. He was invited by Gowa head of state Ichsan Yasin Limpo.

Najib, who is the descendant of Gowa’s 19th King, Sultan Abdul Jalil Tumenanga ri Lakiung, and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were earlier accorded a welcome normally reserved for royalty.

The elaborate Bugis “official welcoming ceremony” or amantuli was held at South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo’s official residence.

Najib and Rosmah also wore special Gowa attire, a cream coat and black and gold silk sarong with a gold songkok for him and a dark red Bugis “bodo” tunic with a sarong similar to Najib’s for her.

They then proceeded to the Shekh Yusuf Discovery Park where the anniversary celebration took place.

Speaking to Malaysian journa­lists at the airport before returning to Kuala Lumpur, Najib said he truly felt at home in Makassar.

Asked to comment on the possibility that some people might view the fact that he had roots here in a negative light, Najib said: “I am not apologetic about it. This is my family history and I am proud of it.”

Najib, who is the 11th Orang Kaya Shah­bandar of Pahang, said he was the direct descendant of Bugis royalty who migrated to Pahang in the 18th century and was made the first Orang Kaya Shah­bandar carrying the title Toh Tuan.

Najib had inherited the title from his father, the second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak who was the 10th Orang Kaya Shah­bandar.

In 2005, Najib was awarded the title Mappadulung Daeng Matti­mung Karaeng Sanrobone by the Bugis government.

Najib said Malaysia’s interest to jointly develop Makassar and its surrounding areas into ricebowl areas would benefit both sides as food security had become very important for the region. Malaysia was also interested in developing livestock and animal husbandry industries in the region, he added.

Najib said he had already raised the issue with Indonesian Presi­dent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his recent visit to Malay­sia.

Najib also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between four Malaysian research and development companies with the Hassanudin Universiti.

Chua backs fresh MCA polls in March but not EGM II

By Lee Wei Lian - The Malaysian Insider

PETALING JAYA, Nov 20 – MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek says that he supports fresh party elections but not the November 28 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) called by his rival Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai for the same purpose.

Dr Chua said that Liow should call off the EGM scheduled for next Saturday and discuss the possibility of holding fresh elections in March.

“I am one of those who supported fresh elections after the October 10 EGM but I do not support the November 28 EGM as the resolutions do not fulfil the requirement of the MCA constitution,” said Dr Chua.

He said that he had suggested that the resolutions be changed to be made more effective but expressed exasperation that his suggestions were rejected by Liow and his allies.

“I do not support defective EGM resolutions,” he said pointing out that for fresh elections to happen two thirds of the central committee must resign and that should be made a resolution which is was not.

Dr Chua said that March would be the best date as January and February is the Chinese New Year holiday season but that if the party wanted to do fresh elections using the proposed new model of involving direct elections of the president, it would require constitutional amendments which would see elections happening only six to eight months down the road.

Liow yesterday said his ultimate goal was to have fresh elections and if two thirds of the central committee could be persuaded to resign en bloc, the EGM would be called off.

Wee: Why wait till March for fresh MCA polls?

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal - The Malaysian Insider

PETALING JAYA, Nov 20 - Axed presidential council member Datuk Wee Ka Siong (picture) said today that there should not be any reason why fresh party elections should have to wait till March 2010 as “everything is ready for party elections.”

“I am glad to hear that Chua Soi Lek is agreeable to party elections. However I disagree with his proposal to have it in March next year.

“We have the central delegates’ list. Everything is ready. Why wait?” said Wee, who is MCA National Youth Chief.

According to Wee, fresh polls are needed urgently as the party is currently in a state of total chaos and everyone who is not favoured by MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat ends up being booted out from the presidential council.

“I do not see the need for delay simply because I am scared of having so many CC (Central Committee) and PC (Presidential Council) meetings in such short notices.

“Every time we have these meetings, there is sure to be someone who ends up getting axed,” exclaimed Wee, referring to what recently happened to him and Wanita MCA chief Datuk Paduka Chew Mei Fun.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said earlier today that he was in support of fresh party elections but not the Nov 28 EGM called by vice-president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai for the same purpose.

Dr Chua had stated that March would be the best date as January and February would be the Chinese New Year holiday season but if the party wanted fresh polls using the new model of involving direct elections of the president, it would require constitutional amendments which would see elections happening only six to eight months down the road.

His rival Liow on the other hand has maintained that his ultimate goal was to push for fresh elections and if two-thirds of the central committee could be persuaded to resign en bloc, the EGM would then be called off.

Najib should give iron-clad guarantee of personal safety of PI Bala to return to tell the truth of what he knows about C4 murder of Mongolian Altantuy

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should give iron-clad guarantee of the personal safety of private investigator P. Balasubramaniam for him to return to the country to tell the truth of what he knows about the C4 murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

There is no other option to Najib to ensure national and international legitimacy as Malaysian Prime Minsiter following the five-part publication of Balasubramiam’s interview, where he named names as well as cited monetary figures explaining the background to the mystery of his Statutory Declaration One and Statutory Declaration Two contradicting each other within 24 hours and his subsequence disappearance with his family from Malaysia.

Left contradicted and unchallenged, Balasubramaniam’s latest five-part interview will stand as an indictment not only on the Prime Minister, the system of government as well as all key national institutions in Malaysia.

Vell Paari refutes kickback claims

The Malay Mail
Questions why 'old story' is being resurrected by MP
Friday, November 20th, 2009
MAIKA Holdings CEO Vell Paari has rubbished claims by Parti Keadilan Rakyat Member of Parliament N. Gopalakrishnan that he had received kickbacks from a company awarded an Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) ICT contract.

“I will sue all those people making false accusations against me,” said Vell Paari, who is also a director of Maika subsidiary, Maika Intellectual Resources (MIR) that received a project worth allegedly RM40 million from Maju Institute of Education Development (MIED) to equip AIMST University with ICT facilities.

The project was subcontracted to Doxport Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd by Vell Paari for RM36 million.

“It was purely a business deal and there is nothing to hide. The difference did not go into my pocket, it went to the Maika subsidiary,” Vell Paari said, when refuting Gopalakrishnan’s claim of kickbacks.

“There is no truth in what he is saying. I was asked by Raja Petra, the editor of Malaysia Today several years ago and I gave a full explanation. You can read it on his website,” he said, questioning Gopalakrishnan’s motive for resurrecting a dead story.

Vell Paari was asked about a police report filed by Gopalakrishnan, who is the MP for Padang Serai, on Tuesday citing irregularities in the award of a RM40 million contract by MIED to MIR and stating in his report that Vell Paari had asked for kickbacks from Doxport.

Earlier, Gopalakrishan told the Press the kickbacks were contained in an affidavit filed by Doxport Technologies in 2004 against MIR after it terminated its contract. When queried, Vell Paari admitted that Doxport had sued MIR but the case had been settled four years ago.

“On the advice of MIED consultants we sued the company because they failed to meet deadlines. But that is history now. Why is this fellow bringing this up now and for what reason?” he said.

Malay Mail asked Gopalakrishnan to produce the affidavit which had been filed in the Alor Star High Court in 2004, and having gone through it and not finding any mention of kickbacks, the MP looked lost for words.

“I have it here somewhere which mentions the kickbacks,” he said, opening his bag and leafing through a thick stack of documents.

Finally, he extracted a photocopy of a company letterhead with the print hardly readable, invoicing Tamil Nesan for some job done for renovating and installing electrical equipment. When asked if he had more concrete evidence to back his kickback claim, the first term parliamentarian pointed to the disparity in the contract amount awarded to MIR and Doxport.

“This shows that Vell Pari made a profit of RM4 million just by transferring the contract to a third party,” he said, adding the project was worth only RM36 million but was inflated by RM4 million so Vell Paari could profit.

Vell Paari said it was “a blatant lie to suggest that his father (MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu) and he had siphoned out millions of ringgit from AIMST University”.

He clarified that the contract referred to by Gopalakrishnan was awarded to Maika Holdings subsidiary MIR and not to him personally.

“The contract was approved by MIC’s educational arm MIED headed by Samy Vellu.”

Vell Paari said MIR’s proposal was the most attractive so it received the ICT contract for AIMST University.

“MIR in turn invited various subcontractors to bid and accepted the bid by Doxport Technologies for RM36 million,” he said.

In a spot after ‘embracing’ Islam as a minor

The Sun, Bernard Cheah

GEORGE TOWN (Nov 19, 2009) : She was only seven when she was told to take an oath to embrace Islam and renounce her original faith.

Kedah PKR Youth Deputy Chief Gooi Hsiao Leung (left) talking
to Banggarma Subramaniam, 27 ( second left) and her husband
S. Sockalingam, 31 (right), with the present of their children,
Kanagaraj, 8 (center, back) and Hisyanthini, 2 (center, front).
Both Kanagaraj and Hisyanthini are showing their birth
certificates, which does not bear the name of their father's.
Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah, now 27, was in a government welfare home, Rumah Kanak-kanak in Taman Bakti, Kepala Batas, when she and several other children, some of whom were Chinese, were told by Perkim and the Penang Muslim Affairs Council to take the oath and renounce her original Hindu faith.

Born Banggarma Subramaniam, she practised Islam in the welfare home until the age of 15.

"I was more mature and realised what had happened, and started practising Hinduism again," she said in a press conference yesterday to highlight her plight.

Banggarma said ran away from the welfare home three years later, unable to cope with the stress of living in the home.

She married S. Sockalingam, 31, according to Hindu rites, but could not register the marriage as, according to the National Registration Department, she was a Muslim.

She also could not name Sockalingam as father of their two children, Kanagaraj, 8 and Hisyanthini, 2, in their birth certificates due to this.

"When I went back to the home in 2001 to collect my documents I was told that I was still a Muslim," she said.

Banggarma tried to change her name in her MyKad to her original name, but failed.

She and Sockalingam, who are residing in Tanjung Piandang, Perak, approached the relevant authorities to help her to revert to Hinduism, but their efforts were in vain.

They then turned to PKR Kedah's Deputy Youth chief Gooi Hsiao Leung for help.

Gooi, a lawyer, said no minor is capable of giving free consent to renounce his or her own religion and embrace Islam.

"At the age of seven, she would not have understood nor appreciated the meaning of the words in the oath. She could hardly even write and spell her own name," he told the press yesterday.

Gooi said the welfare home should have left Banggarma's original religion alone until she was old enough to decide for herself.

He said he would refer her case to the relevant authorities, and if necessary, take the issue to court.

A Tale of Two Launches

By Marina Mahathir

I think it would be fair to say that every day there's something or other being launched in KL. Sometimes it's a commercial venture, sometimes a book, new movie, album. Or sometimes a new cause and campaign.

Last week there were two of the latter. But they were rather different in the way they came out.

I blogged about the launch of the Charter of Compassion on November 12. On that day, people all over the world witnessed the launch of the Charter and affirmed it. They promised to show compassion to others and to forego any violence towards people different from them. They agreed to live by the Golden Rule 'Do Unto Others as You Would Want Others To Do Unto You".

went along to the KL launch of the Charter. It was held at the pretty posh PJ Hilton. Unfortunately I noticed straightaway the lack of 'vibe'. You know that feeling of excitement that surrounds something big? I couldn't feel it.

There was a big board up where I dutifully scrawled a message but I took so long about it that I didn't notice that the Guest-of-Honour Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had arrived and was scrawling something beside me. So embarassing!

Anyway on to the launch proper...the event was organised by Yayasan Budi Penyayang, JUST World Trust and the Malaysian InterFaith Network, all worthy organisations. They had the usual speeches and video and children going up onstage with signs that spelt out 'COMPASSION'. I saw several people I knew from various NGOs.

The event actually ended earlier than scheduled so I managed to get back to the office, all the while wondering what was missing from the whole thing. To me, it felt rather flat. Perhaps it was just the launch. In the afternoon there were two panels, one of religious leaders and one of young people. Unfortunately I had to go to a funeral so had to miss them but I was told they went well although by the time the youth panel came on, the room had emptied considerably.

Meantime I was following other Charter launches elsewhere in the world and they all sounded like wonderful inspiring events. Karen Armstrong herself spoke at the one in Washington DC. Elsewhere people held prayers, walks, readings, meditation, blogs for compassion, a coming together of people for one cause. There was even a 'Compassionate Financial Planners' event in Canada!

But in Malaysia, we had an event in a room where people sat passively, watched and listened.

It was only when I went home and looked at the brochure they gave out that I realised what was the problem. The brochure had photographs and small write-ups of various charities. Orphanages, societies for various diseases, for disabled children. All very worthy but it told me one thing: the organisers had equated compassion with charity.

Which it is most decidedly not. Compassion is about being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and empathise with them. It is not simply about pitying someone or giving them money. It is about genuine and sincere embracing of another to alleviate their pain and suffering. It is most of all about respect for the other, and understanding that they have the same human rights as you do.

It would have been so much better if they had had people get up and say what compassionate act they would do as they affirm the Charter. For example, if someone got up and said that they would ensure that their town was friendlier to disabled people. (As it happened, in an act of non-compassion, the PJ Hilton did not make ramps available for Dr Chandra Mudzaffar, who is in a wheelchair, to get onto the stage. And he's the chair of the Charter for Compassion in Malaysia!). Or if someone said they would tutor orphans facing exams so that they would not be disadvantaged. Or would help transgendered people get jobs. Things like that.

If you go to the Charter website and look up the acts of compassion, you will see many examples big and small that people have pledged to do as part of this movement. Some are just every day acts that they have seen or experienced. Here are some examples:

" My friend Amber's daughter Jessica is dying, she may die anyday. Tonight when I was visiting Jessica in hospital, Amber showed her incredible compassion when she knelt at my feet by Jessica's bed and lovingly cared for my broken foot, an injury so minor compared to her own suffering."

"Last week I met a couple who had recently become parents to an intersex child. I learned from them that their Minister, unable to understand this, had refused to christen the child. I called round and found three ministers who were willing to perform the ceremony and provide pastoral care."

"My friend was a doctor in Zambia working on AIDS. He came home with an idea: link US communities with Zambian caretakers of orphans so the children could go to school. I joined him and others to form Communities without Borders. Now we are providing education for more than 1100 children."

That's what compassion means. Obviously it is something that we Malaysians can also do, if only we truly looked around and saw what was needed. Needed by others, not ourselves.

I read a story in a blog of a teacher here in Malaysia who was faced with a schoolboy who was late to school every day. After several warnings, he had to cane the boy as punishment which the boy submitted to passively. Yet the next day, the boy was late again.

Finally the teacher went to the boy's house and found that he lived in an extremely poor area. He saw him and his mother standing by the roadside waiting. Eventually another boy ran up, promptly took off his school uniform and gave it to the first boy, his brother. It turned out that the family was so poor that the two brothers had to share one set of uniforms.

But what was the teacher's reaction? After crying and hugging the boy, the teacher decided that what he should do was pray, fast, read the Quran and after about six other things which mainly was about himself, he finally came to 'help orphans and those in need'. It didn't seem to occur to him that his very first action should have been to find some way to get a set of uniforms for the boy so that he would not only not have to share with his brother but would also not need to be late for school. Or better still, buy a new set of uniforms for both the brothers because the current one must be worse for wear by now.

That's a lack of compassion. I would put that in the same category as able-bodied people who park in disabled parking spaces because those are nearest the lifts or who abuse their domestic workers by making them clean three houses and six cars and sleep for only 4 hours per night.

So we shall see where the Charter goes in Malaysia.

A day later I attended another launch and this time the atmosphere was completely different. The Bar Council's Constitutional Committee launched a campaign called PerlembagaanKu/MyConsti which was not only a timely one but one that was conducted in a way far different from any BC campaigns thus far. I think it helped that the 99 members of the MyConsti team were young and were not all lawyers because they devised a campaign that was hip and happening, innovative and creative.

Using a fun cartoony logo, they used Facebook and Twitter to tell the public about the campaign. In so doing they managed to viral spread the message and create a buzz. At the same time, they got the mainstream media involved and got more coverage than any other campaign before.

At the launch, there was a real air of excitement. Instead of hiring a professional MC, one of the committee did it himself in perfect and correct Bahasa. Then Edmund Bon, the baby-faced chair of the committee gave a rousing speech about the campaign and why it was necessary. It was the sort of inspiring speech that would have been good at the Charter for Compassion launch too. (Perhaps one should not get politicians to launch these things. Datuk VK Liew, the Deputy Minister in the PM's Department in charge of law, gave a speech that seemed dull and pedestrian compared to Edmund's.)

They showed a video which was funny yet gives the message. And after the launch there was an interesting forum on the Constitution in which five legal experts gave their sometimes differing views. At times hilarious (as when Prof Azmi Sharom said that some politicians took the Constitution as a manual titled 'Governance for Dummies'), the forum was nevertheless informative and inspiring. We realised that we really know so little about the Constitution and that very neglect of it is what allows us all to be manipulated.

So two very worthy causes but two different approaches. Guess which one is likely to have more legs?

Satu Bangsa Bukan Pilihan

Dari JalanTelawi.Com
Hasmi bin Hashim

Di suatu waktu, bertitah Sultan Saladin (Salahuddin) dengan tegas: “Memang! Nathan tidak berhak ke atas gadis ini, karena dia bukan bapanya…”

Apakah yang berlaku? Apakah yang telah dibuat oleh Nathan; si Yahudi peniaga kaya di Jerussalam itu?

Sasterawan Jerman, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing menuliskan naskhah lakon “Nathan der Weise: Puisi Dramatik Dalam Lima Aksi” (1778-1779) dengan latar “Perang Suci” (Kings’ Crusade”) atau dikenali juga sebagai Perang Salib ketiga (1189–1192).

Karya ini adalah gambaran bagaimana toleransi [juga kebijaksanaan] adalah keperluan yang memungkinkan tiga ugama (Islam, Yahudi dan Kristian) menempuh pancaroba demi kekal hidup aman damai bersama di “tanah suci” al-Ard ul-Muqaddasah.

Dalam pengantar “On Humanity In Dark Times: Thoughts about Lessing” edisi terjemahan Inggeris (2004) terhadap karya-karya Lessing, intelektual asal Jerman, Hannah Arendt antara lain berkomentar:

Ia susah kepada kita hari ini untuk mengindentifikasikan dramatik namun konflik yang tidak tragik di dalam “Nathan Yang Bijak” sepertimana perhatian Lessing. Sebahagiannya kerana perhatian kepada kebenaran telah menjadi persoalan yang kepada kita sudah tentunya untuk berkelakuan toleransi, meskipun ke atas sebab yang baru sahaja ada sebarang kaitan dengan alasan Lessing itu.

Toleransi, dalam maksud Hannah adalah kelakuan yang tidak boleh ditangguh-tangguh, esok-esok. Di era Nazi, karya Nathan der Weise itu diharamkan.


Karena ia rapuh; karena ia tak bertapak di atas disiplin ilmu dan kecendiakawanan yang tertib; karena ia tak lebih hanya lontaran yang sensasi sementara memanjat tangga kekuasaan; maka The Malay Dilemma, buah coretan Dr Mahathir Mohammad (muda), nampaknya semakin dan semakin payah bertahan. Idea atau hasrat di dalam naskhah itu tak lebih sebagai usaha untuk menakut-nakutkan orang Melayu, seperti yang menjadi maksud hujah Dr Syed Hussein Alatas di dalam buku tandingnya, Mitos Pribumi Malas.

Ada usaha menakut-nakutkan orang Melayu (sebagai kelompok majoriti beserta kepentingan undi) yang bermatlamatkan “penyerahan jiwa”, kemudiannya bergantung nasib kepada seorang “juru selamat bangsa”. Proses pembodohan bermula dari sana, dan kaedah ini nampaknya masih diimani dan terpakai di kalangan [khususnya] ahli dan pimpinan Umno selepas lebih dua dekad Dr Mahathir membentuk fikiran dan ‘ideologi’ parti itu.

Dr Mahathir telah ‘berjaya’ memperdaya ramai dengan silap mata slogan “perjuangan bangsa”. Tentulah ada sebahagian yang tidak menyedari bagaimana strategi serupa juga digunakan kaum imperialis Barat untuk menundukkan bangsa-bangsa Timur di wilayah yang kemudiannya menjadi tanah jajahan mereka. Tujuannya: penjajahan.

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1769)

Dari sudut persaingan gagasan, ia bisa sahaja ditafsir sebagai kemunafikan seorang ahli politik untuk berkuasa. Dilema Melayu juga nampaknya gagal menyongsong hayat dialog dan perbincangan positif yang lebih lama berbanding usia penulisnya sendiri.

Maka, ada kemunasabahan kalamana timbul kepercayaan generasi hari ini—selepas lebih setengah abad Malaysia merdeka—bagaimana penjajahan luar digantikan dengan penindasan kalangan anak watan, atau pimpinan daripada bangsa itu sendiri. Mengukur keadaan ini, ada benarnya ungkapan Dr Burhanuddin al-Helmy bahawa kemerdekaan kita adalah kemerdekaan yang “separuh masak”.


Percubaan kedua Dr Mahathir ketika menjadi PM, dengan satu lagi slogan “Wawasan 2020” pun rapuh. Yang ini lebih singkat usianya dan hanya mendapat ‘layanan’ kalamana beliau berkuasa, sebelum penggantinya, Abdullah Badawi tak semena-mena melontarkan slogan “Islam Hadhari”.

Seluruh aparat pemerintah pun berlumba-lumba mencetak, mempamer slogan itu selain beberapa badan dan institusi diwujudkan atas kemahuan Abdullah; menyukakan hati orang nombor satu, sepertimana mereka pernah perlu melayani Dr Mahathir semahu apapun Dr Mahathir.

Terasa keterlaluan juga apabila ada pihak yang mendesak agar Islam Hadhari dikaji semula—dibayangkan sebagai bidaah buruk kalaupun bukan ‘ajaran baru’ yang merbahaya—sementara kerusi PM masih berbahang panas peninggalan Abdullah; belum pun lama Najib Razak mengambil alih kuasa. Desakan itu adalah di kalangan golongan yang baru kelmarin menumpahkan taat-setia kepada Abdullah.

Dengan Islam Hadhari, Abdullah sebenarnya cuba mengikis legasi serta menghapuskan bayang-bayang pemerintahan Dr Mahathir. Tetapi ia tidak bijak sama sekali apabila kaedah yang digunakan tetap sahaja “method Mahathir”, atau apa yang ditandakan sebagai “Mahathirisme”. Begitu juga apabila kritikan hebat terhadap projek mega Dr Mahathir, digantikan dengan “projek koridor” ala-Abdullah. Bukankah keduanya itu masih juga projek mega dengan “sistem ekonomi titah” dan kawalan negara? Di situ titik persoalan yang tak pernah mampu difahami; tak pernah mampu dipecahkan.

Sementara Najib Razak, yang langsung tak punya latar “tradisi pemikiran” yang kuat, telah sekali lagi meneruskan method Mahathirisme sebermula satu lagi slogan baru, “1Malaysia”—juga jalan menuju kefatalan seterusnya. Kini, sampailah giliran Najib naik miang apabila kemaruk projek-projek baru, seperti klinik untuk golongan miskin bandar dengan nama “Klinik 1Malaysia”.

Di antara tiga slogan itu, “1Malaysia” nampaknya paling lemah dan pasti mudah tergelincir di atas balapan perlombaan idea, walaupun “sarung”-nya nampak lebih menarik. Masing-masing, yang mengatasnamai kepentingan bangsa dan negara, sesungguhnya tidak menjiwai keinsafan yang dianjurkan pemikir Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328 M) yang menurutnya betapa kepentingan umum (maslahah ‘ammah) wajar ditinggikan oleh pimpinan ketimbang sesuatu yang memang diniatkan untuk berpusat kepada diri sendiri, maslahah khassah.

Perspektif seorang pemimpin tentulah tak mungkin boleh setaraf sama dengan, misalnya, cita-cita seorang mat rempit yang mahu memenangi setiap perlumbaan malam minggu!

Ada beberapa konsep—seperti sekali lagi kritikan Dr Syed Hussein di dalam Siapa yang salah: Sekitar revolusi mental dan peribadi Melayu (Pustaka Nasional, Singapura; 1973) merujuk naskhah “Revolusi Mental” yang menghimpunkan 14 penulis, terbit tiga tahun sebelum itu—yang kemudiannya dikatakan bersulam hujah yang “menggelikan hati” beliau.

Gugusan pandangan atau tema seperti “1Malaysia” jelas tidak dilatari perbincangan dan daya fikir yang kuat, yang sewajarnya telah terlebih dahulu melintasi rentang waktu tertentu dengan siri diskusi dan perbincangan yang cukup. Najib tak punya sejarah kaseh atau merapati bidang keilmuan sama sekali; sama sewaktu beliau menolak ke depan slogan “Glokal” sewaktu menjadi timbalan Abdullah.

Apa yang mampu kita fahami ialah, perkataan itu, “Glokal” adalah akronim daripada dua perkataan: “GLObal” dan “loKAL”. Konon cita-cita Najib adalah untuk melahirkan sebuah bangsa yang berakar kepada kekuatan setempat (lokal) di samping dihormati di peringkat global. Ini, satu lagi yang yang menggelikan hati. Tidak pasti, sejauh mana Najib telah memahami gaya retorika Soekarno, yang jauh lebih memukau daripada itu, iaitu, “NASAKOM”.

Slogan itu adalah gabungan antara “NASionalisme”, “Agama” dan “KOmunisme”. Memang, ideologi negara yang cuba dibentangkan Seokarno juga gagal. Apatah lagi, “Glokal” Najib yang tidak berasaskan apa-apa ideologi, fahaman dan kesedaran intelektual dan zaman.

Belum pun “Glokal” merebak dan dapat dihadam, “1Malaysia” lahir mengejut. Ia tidak lebih hanya sebagai “packaging” atau sarung politik semata-mata—dan, barangkali pehak consultant yang mencadangkan serta menyiapkan “bungkusan” itu juga tidak arif dengan keperluan falsafah, daya pemikiran dan budaya di dalam bidang pengiklanan.

Sebagai rakyat Malaysia, saya tidak mampu menahan malu apabila Najib menyebutkan konsep “1”-nya itu di pentas Persidangan Agung Pertubuhan Pendidikan Saintifik dan Kebudayaan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu (UNESCO) Ke-35 di Paris, awal Oktober lalu.

Malaysia, rantau dan dunia malah bumi ini memang sudah satu! Persoalan yang perlu diutarakan dengan menyedari persoalan zaman, bagi saya, paling tidak adalah bagaimana untuk mewujudkan rasa persaudaraan atau dalam konteks sesebuah negara, bagaimana mahu diwujudkan perasaan kewarganegaraan dan kaseh kepada ibu pertiwi di kalangan rakyat?


Sewajarnya Najib—dan semua yang bercita-cita menjadi pemimpin—menyemak semula, cuba memahami dan menjiwai semboyan pada lambang Malaysia yang bunyinya “Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu”. Apakah makna yang mendasari cogankata itu?

Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (yang kemudiannya menjadi Malaysia) adalah gabungan daerah, wilayah dan 14 buah negeri. Gabungan ini dengan beberapa peruntukan kuasa kekal kepada Kerajaan Negeri, dan sebahagiannya lagi menjadi hak Kerajaan Persekutuan. Ada pembahagian kuasa, dengan pehak federal, iaitu Kerajaan Persekutuan tidak memusatkan seluruh kuasanya di Putrajaya.

Dalam erti kata lain, hanya dengan “bersekutu” akan “bertambah mutu”. Negeri-negeri di Tanah Melayu tak dapat mengelak daripada keperluan untuk bersekutu tatkala diancam “peleburan identiti dan hak” sepertimana yang dicadangkan Inggeris di dalam Malayan Union.

“Bersekutu” tidak bermaksud menjadi “satu” dengan kesultanan dan hak-hak negeri bahkan wilayah masing-masing terhapus. Johor tetap Johor dengan hak-haknya. Begitu juga Sabah, Sarawak tetap Sabah dan Sarawak. Selangor tetap Selangor. Perak tetap Perak. Negeri sembilan tetap bersembilan ‘negeri’, dan seterusnya untuk negeri-negeri lain.

Berlatarkan kenyataan sejarah sedemikian, maka konsep seperti “1Malaysia” sangat berkemungkinan mengelirukan dan ianya pada bila-bila masa boleh juga berada pada paras fasisme tersendiri. Ditambah di dalam beberapa ucapan Najib yang kehendak untuk mewujudkan “Bangsa Malaysia”, sementara beliau barangkali tak menyedari bahawa label “Bangsa Malaysia” adalah istilah yang bermasalah. Tidak tahu, dari mana dipungutnya apabila beliau juga menafikan bahawa “1Malaysia” atau “Bangsa Malaysia” berbeza dengan keyakinan politik-kenegaraan DAP, iaitu “Malaysian-Malaysia”.

Ia secara praktis dilihat sebagai [proses] pelupusan elemen dan jatidiri kaum, suku kaum dan bangsa-bangsa menjadi “satu-bangsa” di bawah pengertian fundamentalis menyentuh konsep “nation-state”; atau “negara-bangsa”. Di Amerika, di Perancis, di United Kingdom, di India, atau di mana-mana pun negara yang terhidang kerencaman kemajmukan, tidak memakai label yang berat dan bermasalah sebegini. Tetapi sahaja tetap wujud, misalnya, “Black-American”, “Chinese-Indonesian”, “Arab-France” sehingga “Malay-African”…

Profesor Amatya Kumar Sen (pemenang Anugerah Nobel Ekonomi) menjelaskan persoalan identiti dan betapa perlunya untuk tetap meraikan kepelbagaian di dalam bukanya, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny. Persoalan identiti kini bukan sekadar menyentuh persoalan ras keturunan, tetapi sehingga menyentuh minat dan kesukaan individu, sehingga adalah mustahil untuk menafikan seseorang, misalnya, yang tinggal di India, tetapi dia juga meminati bola sepak Amerika, sedangkan persekitarannya ‘tidak menyukai’ sukan itu. Apakah ia tidak berhak untuk meminati sesuatu yang tidak menjadi kebiasaan bagi persekitarannya?

Maknanya, selain persoalan Perlembagaan, biologi dan leluhur (asal keturunan), kepelbagaian memang sentiasa wujud. Dan terus wujud. Tak ada sesuatupun yang bisa menghalang. Demikian untuk mewujudkan “yang satu”, muthlak, adalah mustahil dan kepura-puraan maha besar abad lalu Bertambah mustahil apabila semua kondisi sosial, termasuk soal budaya, minat, citarasa, makan-minum dan pakaian pun perlu diseragamkan. “Ke-seragam-an” inilah “keganasan” yang pertama-tama di bawah kuasa autokratik.

“Bangsa Malaysia”, pada perspektif ini boleh dikatakan tidak wujud. Yang wujud adalah “rakyat Malaysia”, sebuah pengakuan yang sederhana—seperti tuntutan untuk berteleransi yang diungkap Hannah Arendt—tetapi, ia memadai. Saya teringat lirik lagu D.R. Sam yang popular pada 1980-an dahulu, “saya anak Malaysia…”

Kerancuan tafsiran terhadap konsep seperti liberalisme dan pluralisme sebeginilah yang akhirnya mendorong lahirnya rejim dan cengkaman baru; menggantikan nyaring suara perkauman dan chauvanistik lama, kepada kuasa autokratik baru. Sayang sekali apabila makna demokrasi dan kebebasan hanya menjadi barang persendaan apabila dilihat dengan cetek, laih mahupun kulit-kulitan.


“Mengikat”, sebagaimana erat sekalipun, bukan bererti “meleburkan”. Proses penghapusan etnik mahupun peleburan wajah identiti, termasuk yang pernah berlaku di era Nazi-Jerman, Moa-China, Saddam-sunni di Iraq mahupun cita-cita “year zero” Maoist Khmer Rouge di Kemboja: fatal! Mempertimbang tradisi sama sekali tidak bermaksud membuang seluruhnya tradisi; sama seperti tidak ada keperluannya untuk berpaut pada nilai buruk hanya atas nama “tradisi”.

Bukankah bangsa atau kaum itu adalah sesuatu yang alami atau bahagian daripada fitrah kejadian? Ia bukan pilihan. Tak ada sesiapapun yang boleh memilih bangsa keturunannya sewaktu lahir. Sepotong peringatan Quran, dari surah al-Maa’idah (ayat 48) bisa menjadi panduan bagaimana “sekiranya Allah menghendaki, niscaya kamu dijadikanNya satu umat (saja), tetapi Allah hendak menguji kamu terhadap pemberianNya kepadamu maka berlumba-lumbalah berbuat kebajikan.”

Ayat itu melengkapi kefahaman daripada sebaris lagi perenungan di dalam suruh Yunus (ayat 19) yang menyebutkan: “Manusia dahulunya hanyalah satu umat, kemudian mereka berselisih.”

Meraikan kepelbagaian, keragaman, tidak boleh dikorbankan hanya atas nama kepentingan negara, malah atas kepentingan apapun. Kepelbagaian tetap perlu wujud, tetap wujud sebagai hukum atau ikhtilaf yang alami. Yang perlu dipertegaskan ialah setiap warganegara punya hak-haknya. Dan hak itu, terjamin sepertimana Tuhan menjamin bahawa setiap manusia itu punya karamahnya.

Di bawah “Garuda Pancasila”, iaitu lambang republik Indonesia, tertera cogankata “Bhinneka Tunggal Eka”. Maksudnya yang melatari semboyan itu tak lain ialah “kesepaduan dalam kepelbagaian”: unity in diversity.

Asal muasil cogankata itu adalah dari kisah Kakawin Sutamosa, karangan Empu Tantular. Dia merupakan seorang pujangga di zaman R?jasanagara yang memerintah di era keemasan kerajaan Majapahit sekitar pertengahan abad ke-14.

Tantular, anak saudara raja Hayam Muruk ini juga menuliskan Kakawin Arjunawijaya yang kedua gubahan syair naratif itu antara lain menganjurkan sikap toleransi, termasuk di dalam hal perbezaan ugama, bagi meraikan kepelbagaian itu tadi. Di dalam puisi Kakawin Sutasoma merujuk dua ugama berbeza di zamannya iaitu antara Hindu-Siwa dan Buddha; sementara Tantular sendiri adalah penganut Buddha. Begini yang disyairkannya:-

Rw?neka dh?tu winuwus Buddha Wiswa,
Bhinnêki rakwa ring apan kena parwanosen,
Mangka ng Jinatwa kalawan ?iwatatwa tunggal,
Bhinnêka tunggal ika tan hana dharma mangrwa.

Yang setiap baris membawa maksud:-

Konon Buddha dan Siwa merupakan dua zat yang berbeda,
Mereka memang berbeda, tetapi bagaimanakah bisa dikenali?
Sebab kebenaran Jina dan Siwa adalah tunggal
Terpecah belahlah itu, tetapi satu jualah itu. Tidak ada kerancuan [keraguan] dalam kebenaran.

Mungkin mengejutkan, apabila Tantular membawakan kesedaran betapa “kebenaran Jina dan Siwa adalah tunggal”, seolah-olah mesej yang tak jauh beza daripada apa yang mahu disampaikan oleh Lessing—melalui watak Nathan—mengenai “ketulinan cincin (Ringparabel)” yang diwariskan kepada tiga orang anak: yang manakah antara tiga bentuk cincin itu, yang tulin… sedangkan sang bapa, ketika mati hanya mewariskan sebentuk sahaja cincin. Tentulah dua di antaranya ‘palsu’, namun telah direkabentuk sehingga ketiga-tiganya, betul-betul sama.

Kemanusiaan, teruji di sana, apabila berhadapan dengan persoalan ugama dan kebenaran—tentang siapakah yang bisa mendakwa yang lain ‘tidak benar’ berbanding yang lain. Di baris akhir surah al-Kafiruun, disebutkan: “untuk kamu ugama kamu, untuk aku ugama aku.” Di sinilah permulaan bagi sikap tegas di dalam keyakinan iman, namun tanpa mencederakan penganut agama lain—atau di dalam tafsir kenegaraan, ia adalah sumber toleransi.

Tidak ada kesepaduan nasional, tanpa toleransi. Dengan yang demikian, dengan sejarah Melaka yang pernah jatuh ke tangan Portugis pada 1511, juga tumbangnya kerajaan, kesultanan dan kesunanan di Nusantara satu-persatu di tangan kuasa luar, maka kemerdekaan yang dicapai, dengan persekutuan yang diwujudkan, maka persekutuan ini diharap menjadi kuat dengan penyertaan wilayah-wilayah.

Memang istilah “kuat” tidak digunakan, tak seperti maksud bidalan sebatang lidi mudah dipatah… namun digantikan dengan istilah yang lebih canggih, iaitu “mutu”. Logisnya, sebatang penyapu yang kuat bukan karena sebatang lidi, bukan juga karena gabungan lidi-lidi menjadi sebatang lidi yang ‘besar’ melainkan tak lain, ia tidak ‘meleburkan’ tiap-tiap batang lidi di dalam secekak penyapu.

“Mutu” tidak lain adalah merujuk kualiti, sementara kualiti sebagai satu tanda aras kemakmuran yang tinggi tak mungkin tercapai tanpa kesepaduan atau bersekutu.

“Mangké n prâpta ng kali çrî Jinapati manurun matyana ng kâla murkha”

“Dan sekarang pada masa Kaliyuga, Sri Jinapati turun di sini untuk menghancurkan kejahatan dan keburukan.”

Makna “matyana ng kâla murkha” seiring dengan tafsir al-Isra’: Dan katakanlah: “Yang benar telah datang dan yang batil telah lenyap. Sesungguhnya “tak ada keraguan di dalam kebenaran”: tan hana dharma mangrwa.

Menginsafi dan menyedari kejernihan gagasan pejuang kemerdekaan kita, yang perlu diperjuangkan adalah cita-cita yang sederhana ini, iaitu “Malaysia yang bersatu padu”, dan bukannya “satu-’bangsa’,” apatah lagi “satu-Malaysia”.

*Esei ini awalnya adalah ucapan penggulungan penulis di dalam Kem Kepimpinan Penggerak Belia Tempatan (PeBT) Selangor di Kem Bina Semangat, Kuala Kubu Bahru pada Sabtu, 7 November 2009.