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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tamil Nadu leaders wish well for referendum in Canada

Tamil Nadu political leaders Pazha Nedumaran, Ko'laththoor Mani, Aruna Bharathi and Thamizharuvi Maniyan in their statements Friday wished well for the democratic move of Canadian Tamils in conducting a referendum on Tamil Eelam Saturday and urged all Canadian Tamils to make it a grand success. Other prominent leaders like Vaiko and Thol Thirumavalavan have already extended their support to this international effort. Mr. Thirumavalavan has recently called for such democratic exercises in Tamil Nadu too. In the meantime, the move for the referendum is enlightening many Canadians on the history of Eezham Tamil struggle and how the struggle predates militant movements, said a Canadian Tamil who happened to spend some time with Canadian intelligence officials in explaining what was Vaddukkoaddai Resolution.

Vaddukkoaddai Resolution and its mandate was a significant event in the history of World Tamils. After all the sacrifices, there cannot be any retract from the goals of the mandate, said Pazha Nedumaran. "I urge every Tamil person to steadfastly stand by the principle of the resolution, upholding an independent and sovereign Tamil Eelam."

Following Norway and France, the Canadian Eezham Tamils too should overwhelmingly mandate the main principle of Vaddukkoaddai Resolution, said Periyar Dravidar Kazhakam Leader Kolaththoor Mani. As successive Colombo governments had in the past rejected all reasonable and reconciliatory demands such as the Thimphu proposal, limited itself to self-determination and on the contrary Colombo had committed unforgivable genocide on Tamils, proposals such as Thimphu are of no relevance today and Eezham Tamils have to stick to full independence and sovereignty of the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution, he further said.

"Make it a hundred percent success," wishes K. Arunaparathy, the coordinator of I'lanthamizhar Iyakkam (Young Tamils Movement). Diaspora Tamils today bear the bulk of the responsibility in the liberation struggle, he said.

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"Democratic political struggle is the most feasible way in the current context," says Thamizharuvi Maniyan of the Gandhiyan Political Movement, who was formerly a leader of the Congress Party in Tamil Nadu. "In the line of Vaddukkoaddai Resolution, if a Gandhian struggle is pursued internationally, Tamil Eelam could be achieved in our own lifetime," he further said wishing well for the referendum movement in Canada.

Display of awareness placards on scooped snow
Display of awareness placards on scooped snow

Is religion about war -- or peace?


New York (CNN) -- Evangelical Christian leaders such as Pat Robertson have assailed President Obama's effort to engage Iran, and the results so far have not vindicated the president's approach as a diplomatic policy.

But if these leaders' goal is to bring Christian attitudes into the realm of public policy -- which, of course, is what they have called for time and again -- they might just as well be thanking the president for his new strategy. That is what the experience of one of history's greatest Christians, Francis of Assisi, teaches us.

Francis engaged Christendom's enemy, Egypt's Sultan Malik al-Kamil, by approaching him unarmed in the midst of the Fifth Crusade in 1219. The Crusaders had laid siege to Damietta, a city at the mouth of the Nile where 80,000 people were dying of disease and starvation.

The Christian forces were hoping to conquer Egypt, which would not only make it easier to take and hold Jerusalem but would deal a heavy blow against all Islam.

Francis actually believed what Jesus said in the New Testament about loving his enemy and took a much different approach than his fellow Christians.

His goal was to convert Sultan al-Kamil to Christianity through peaceful persuasion. He didn't succeed in that, but, amazingly, the two men found common ground and appear to have genuinely appreciated each other.

The sultan, who no doubt viewed Francis in light of an ancient Muslim tradition of reverence for holy Christian monks, permitted him to stay in his camp for several days, preaching the enemy's faith in the midst of the Crusade.

Francis was so influenced by the unexpectedly tranquil encounter with the sultan that when he returned home, he attempted to revise his order's code of conduct to urge that his friars live peacefully among Muslims and "be subject" to them as a way of giving Christian witness -- a revolutionary approach, considering that the Crusade was still being fought.

Francis' journey to the sultan's camp on the east bank of the Nile should be viewed as a mission of peace, since the sultan's conversion might have led to the end of the Crusade.

Francis, it should be said, was a tireless advocate of peace, a stance that stems from the trauma he suffered as a soldier and prisoner of war when he was a young man who saw his comrades massacred on the battlefield.

Since discussion of war and peace is -- even today -- so tinged with religion, it may as well be based on authentic religion. Francis represents what it means to be an authentic Christian. As Pope Pius XI wrote in 1926 on the 700th anniversary of Francis's death: "There has never been anyone in whom the image of Jesus Christ ... shone forth more lifelike and strikingly than in St. Francis."

I don't mean to liken Obama to Francis; there are few human beings in any era who would benefit from comparison to the saint of Assisi. In any case, their situations are very different. Francis was unarmed and powerless when he approached the sultan; there was no hint of coercion.

Obama, on the other hand, is arguably the most powerful person in the world. He can disarm his rhetoric, but it would not be possible for him to approach an enemy in the same powerless way Francis did.

Still, Francis' example tells those who call themselves Christian that they should refrain from weaponizing their words and should seek peaceful solutions whenever possible.

An organization called Charter for Compassion is taking this approach. Gathering together supporters such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, singer Paul Simon and Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the grand mufti of Egypt, it has sought to restore compassion as the center for morality and religion. It calls for a "return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate."

Obama, too, touched on the role of authentic religion in his Nobel Peace Prize speech on December 10. Citing both the World Trade Center attack and "the cruelties of the Crusades," he said, "Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace but the purpose of faith -- for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us."

Nearly 800 years ago, at a time when biblical passages were used to justify the Crusades, Francis of Assisi sought a return to true New Testament values. Whether through his famous love of animals or his stunning visit to the enemy in the midst of war, Francis helps us to remember that startling acts of compassion are sometimes the best way to stir hearts and minds.

For those who want to be guided by what Jesus would do, Francis of Assisi is a good place to start.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul Moses.

Penan women cried rape, not wolf - Malaysiakini

It is evident that the outrage of a woman's modesty is of no concern to the government and the police, not if the rape of the Penan women is used as a yardstick.

The ravishing of the native women in the deep recess of the Sarawak jungles has not been taken seriously by the police who were only too eager to put an end to this controversy, one way or another.

The latest development on the issue has been a disappointment, no thanks to the lack of interest shown by the police and the powers-that-be in making sure that the rapists are at the receiving end of the law.

Why the difficulty in accepting that these rapes did happen? Why the denial and refusal in wanting to help the Penan women and girls seek justice? Does the remote interior serve as an excuse to ignore that a crime like rape did take place?

womens aid organisation pc censored anti rape campaign 130109 ivy josiahWomen Aid Organisation's executive director Ivy Josiah (left) who was among those in the national action committee to investigate the allegations of sexual abuse made was reported to have said:

"The findings were basically that there was indeed sexual exploitation of the girls - especially where school children who, during the journey back and forth from schools, have to use the transport provided by the lorries and lorry drivers of the timber companies.

"They were open to exploitation either sexual harassment or sexual molestation and even rape. From what we understand this became the norm - it has been happening over a period of 10 years - and it is systemic in the isolated areas like the jungles of Sarawak."

Timber and politics

It is no hidden secret that the former minister for environment and tourism James Wong was also one of the state's largest logging concessionaires.

the antidote article sarawak native logging school children 280409 06And it was not too long ago that it was reported that a company linked to Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud's family is under investigation by the Tokyo tax authorities for corruption over RM32 million in timber kickbacks allegedly paid by Japanese shippers to help lubricate timber shipments.

Malaysia's rate of deforestation is the highest in the tropical world, losing 14,860 square kilometers since 1990.

the antidote article long kerong sarawak timber logging samling 090609 03The lowland tropical rainforest, which is the primary habitat of the Penan and has the most valuable trees, has all but gone.

The Penan population is about 10,000 and about 350 to 500 are nomadic. And they live deep in the jungles, cut off from the outside world because they chose it that way.

The Penan females, however, did not choose to be raped each time they reluctantly asked for help for transport from the logging companies inside the jungle.

Rapists must be punished

But the fact of the matter is that the rapes took place and the perpetrators must be brought to face the wrath of the law.

Unfortunately, the culprits are getting away scot-free, thinking that having sex with women and girls who turned to them for help is no big deal, much less a crime.

the antidote article sarawak native logging school children 280409 01Let this be clear - sex without the woman's consent is regarded as rape by the law and sex under duress or aggravated situation is still a criminal offence. And sex with a minor is considered rape under the law.

In April this year Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung told Dewan Negara that 4,959 rape cases were reported in 2008 compared to 1,241 cases in the previous year, a jump of 300 percent.

In the first two months of this year alone there were 769 rape cases. Meanwhile, there were 4,586 rape suspects detained this year compared with 4,770 in 2008.

Chor attributed the rise in rape numbers to suspects and victims being drunk and suspects abusing the trust of victims.

NONEPerhaps the task force from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and the women's groups should also educate the loggers on women's rights and the penalties that await them should they think little about respecting the dignity of a woman or girl.

Too bad that Malaysia does not have a Phoolan Devi better known as India's Bandit Queen or a Jhansi Ki Rani (Queen of Jhansi) also known as India's 'Joan of Arc' due to her resistance to British rule in India to seek justice for abused women.

There is only the unreliable human rights commission Suhakam to turn to for help.

Lame lack of evidence excuse

Evidence, evidence, evidence - it is on this pretext a rape case is
The Penan native women have cried rape and mind you, they had cried about it not just recently but as far back as seven to eight years ago.

the antidote article long kerong sarawak timber logging samling 090609 02Did anyone hear their cries? Not the police, not the government and not even Malaysia's very own human rights commission, Suhakam.

Why? Because the Penan tribe constitutes a minor group? Or is it because the rights of the Penan people are not recognised as such? Or is it because someone has a vested interest to protect and that too at the expense of the Penan natives?

Rape is a crime, period. There should be no haggling over such a traumatising incident, much less finger pointing at who should shoulder the blame.

Just like any rape survivor, the victims too came forward after realising what happened to them is a crime for which they can seek justice.

The Penan tribe may not be an enlightened group of people where the topic of basic rights or human rights goes.

But if they are bullied, harassed and stripped of their dignity, they, just like any other Malaysian have all the right to turn to the judicial system for justice. It is another matter when the country's judicial system is there for them or not.

NONEBeing forced to have sex under threat or in the face of duress is still a crime because the perpetrator has taken advantage of the situation that serves as a weakness to the woman or girl concerned.

With the Penan rape issue the talk of town, one wonders whatever happened to the memorandum on amendments to the rape law where the woman's groups had approached the government to re-look at that legislation and redefine rape besides acknowledging other forms of the crime like marital rape and rape under aggravated circumstances.

Penan people's rights dismissed

It is very disheartening to note the manner in which the government has handled the Penan women's cases.

And just as frustrating is to realise yet again of the existence of an impotent human rights commission, one which does not have the courage to stand up for the rights of the people, be they natives or the everyday people of this country.

For the Sarawak government, responsible for signing the logging licences, has conveniently dismissed the federal government report as interference from outside.

To add insult to injury, Sarawak cabinet minister for land use James Masing, when told of the rapes, barked that "Penan are very good story tellers, changing their stories and when they feel like it".

NONENow, what exactly does Masing and the police need to confirm that the rape of the Penan girls and women did happen? Nothing, because they know that the incident did take place, but have been ordered to play dumb and close the case.

To ask for a corroborative evidence in an incident like rape is an outright insult to the survivor for rape is no 'event' for the masses to witness. And to dismiss the cries of rape from the Penan girls and women because they have no identification documents rubs raw against a person's basic rights.

Should the government decide to ignore their cries, it will only go down in history as a government without the will power to reflect its commitment to defending the rights of its female citizens.

If that was the case, then there is little need for a ministry on women, for in the end all these will smack of nothing but government hypocrisy.

NONERape is a form of torture and this has yet to ring a bell among the law makers, pathetically.

Dec 10 is the day when the world commemorates World Human Rights Day.

The sad truth is that looking at this country's human rights record, there is little indeed for the government to speak about each year when Dec 10 arrives.

Its failure to provide justice to the Penan women will further add a dent to the country's dismal human rights track record.

As it is, Malaysia is already has a blithe in the manner in which it has mistreated refugees, domestic helpers and migrants.

Despite locked doors, ultimatum issued for Makkal Sakti chief to quit

No entry... Secretary-general Kannan Ramasamy and CC member lawyer Takurdas Naraindas with deputy president A Vathemurthy (in the background) of Makkal Sakti, in a fix as they found out today their keys don't open the front door of the party's office in Shah Alam - Picture by Baradan Kuppusamy

By Baradan Kuppusamy - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 — The central committee of the three-month-old Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party today gave notice to its president R.S. Thanenthiran to resign gracefully or face expulsion.

Fifteen of the 27-members of the committee were locked out of the party’s head office in Shah Alam but met under a makeshift tent outside and resolved to remove Thanenthiran because of his incompetence and failure to provide leadership, among other reasons.

Led by deputy president A Vathemurthy they also passed a vote of no confidence against the president.

The meeting also proved that the majority of CC members i.e. 56 per cent were behind Vathemurthy although Thanenthiran had claimed he had a majority.

If Thanenthiran refuses to resign in good time, the committee resolved, to convene an EGM within 90 days to remove Thanenthiran and install another person as president.

Vathemurthy also announced that he was not keen to be president but will support any other person other than Thanenthiran as president.

“The party needs to move ahead and take the next major step forward…I am not the man to lead the party to the next level,” he told the CC members.

The meeting was conducted in an orderly and democratic manner by CC lawyer Thakurdas Naraindas, who is also a CC member. Reporters and other observers were allowed to observe the meeting.

“We have nothing to hide,” said secretary general Kannan Ramasamy.

Earlier he and other leaders tried to enter the office but failed.

“They have changed the lock,” Kannan said.

“We will not break into our own office,” he said.

Thanenthiran could not be contacted but a CC member supporting him said their side will not accept the meeting today as valid.

“We reject their meeting and the decisions they made,” the supporter said. “We will carry on as usual without them. We might even expel all of them for tarnishing the party’s image.”

With Thanenthiran unwilling to comply, it appears the party is headed for a long drawn court battle defeating the purpose for which it was set up in the first place.

Police watched the proceedings from a distance and none of Thanenthiran’s supporters appeared to stop the meeting from proceeding.

The party was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Oct 10 in the hope that it could win over working class Tamils who had voted for the Pakatan Rakyat in the 2008 general election.

Kannan, as secretary general, had already “taken possession” of the party’s files, membership application forms and keys to the office but sometime late last night someone had changed the locks preventing them from entering the office.

The upcoming battle between the two factions is for the right to use the phrase Makkal Sakthi which was PR’s rallying cry in 2008.

The breakup of the party is a major embarrassment for Najib.

The MIC, which was worried a major contender had arrived for Tamil working class support, is delighted with the imminent break-up.

The CC meeting today was called by Kannan over the objections of Thanenthiran who had ordered Kannan to “postponement” it to January.

Reject racism, says Anwar

By Nurbaiti Hamdan, The Star

The people have been urged to reject racism where power is held based on “skin colour”, PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.

He said Pakatan Rakyat needed to steer clear from the ‘racism cocoon’ created by shallow-minded people.

“I suggest the Chinese, Indians, Ibans and Kadazans destroy this racist mentality. We need to uphold the principle of brotherhood of mankind,” Anwar said in his keynote address to 1,500 of Pakatan delegates at Wisma MBSA here today in the first ever Pakatan convention.

A total of 500 delegates from each component party of Pakatan attended. Anwar said Pakatan could have not won big in the last general election had they “stuck to the archaic spirit of racism and turn its back on justice.”

“There is a newfound confidence from the young generation of various races in Pakatan. And because of this confidence, we based our principle on which we are presenting today at this convention,” he said.

Meanwhile, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, in his speech, urged Pakatan to look into its own weaknesses that gave the opportunity for others to exploit.

He added that the political crisis in Perak should be a lesson learnt for Pakatan.

“Don’t simply choose candidates without being realistic,” said Abdul Hadi, referring to the three former Pakatan assemblymen who jumped ship and became independent.

He said Pakatan must be united even if there were differences in opinion in issues.

“Let us prioritise and work on issues that we agree on. Take time and be patient in discussing issues with differing opinions.

“Today we are discussing our plan to face the next general election,” he said.

Pakatan affirms sweeping reforms

By Beh Kay Hieng, Jaynne Koh and Suganya Lingan

Anwar4 SHAH ALAM: One thousand five hundred delegates from PAS, DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat converged at the MBSA auditorium here this morning to adopt the Common Policy Framework for Pakatan Rakyat’s journey to Putrajaya.

Proceeding the debate on the Common Policy Framework, PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim (picture) set the pace for the convention with a loud call to Malaysians to wipe out the Umno-… “Ketuanan Melayu” concept and replace it with “Ketuanan Rakyat.”

Pushing the “Ketuanan Rakyat” agenda , he went on to quote American civil rights leader Martin Luther King call for democracy where a nation and her people are not measured by the colour of their skin, but the content of their character.

Anwar said the Barisan National had failed to realise that the people have become more aware of their rights and misdeeds perpetuated by the the ruling front.

He paid tribute to the young generation whom he said formed the thrust of PKR’s move mentpremo and the women who … Lim Guan Eng2

Next at the podium was DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng (picture) whose fiery speech and direct digs at Barisan National’s many lop-sided policies and human rights guffaws got the delegates cheering.

“ We want a country that is fair to all Malaysians in its economic policies and in providing social benefits,” he said

Lim said the Pakatan coalition was different from Barisan because BN leaders “fight for themselves but we are fighting for everyone … including a generation yet to be borne..”.

Charting PKR’s Road To Putrajaya, he said the Pakatan coalition was committed to the five principals of the Common Policy Framework and will ensure the future of all Malaysians, including a generation yet to be born.

hadi awangRounding up the morning, PAS President Hadi Awang dedicated his time to explaining PAS’s road to modern democracy.

He drew a vivid picture of how PAS’s move to modern democracy was anchored in the laws of Islamic Civilisation.

Hadi Awang (picture) said PAS had taken the position of embracing the positive values of the Chinese and Hindu civilizations that formed the basis of the Islamic principles.

He said the practice of democracy was not just on the day of voting day but it must embrace the whole system.

“If the Election Commission had remained neutral (in the 2008 General Election), we will be the government in Putrajaya today. Just look at us now, we are in power in Kedah, Kelantan, Penang and Selangor..we lost Perak because of BN’s misdeed,” he said.

Touching on the Common Policy Framework, he said the Pakatan coalition had worked on common principals accepted by all three parties.

“We have accepted our weaknesses and have realised that we cannot get everything we want.

“ So the common framework is based on what is of utmost importance to the people. We have chosen to walk in trust and friendship,” he said.

As he passed the mike to PAS president Hadi Awang, he said aIn his speech, PAS president Hadi Awang called on the delegates not to believe the Islam spread by Umno and look at what his party’s move to modern democracy anchored on Islamic civilisation.

Kisah Benar : Di Belasah semasa menjadi Tahanan Polis

Saya dipukul dan ditendang oleh enam orang pegawai polis. Sewaktu itu, seorang polis berpakaian biasa telah menyuruh saya membuka baju dan seluar. Selepas itu, dia mengambil gambar kemaluan saya. Saya telah dipukul sehingga pukul 4 petang dan tidak diberi makan dan minum.

Oleh Anak Sungai Derhaka

Repot Polis

Keganasan Polis Semasa Di Tahan

Nama Pengadu : Isai Kumar a/l Sathieyananthan
No I/c : 820811-14-6585
Alamat : , 70200 Seremban,
Negeri Sembilan Darul Khusus.

Saya Isai Kumar a/l Sathieyananthan ingin membuat laporan polis berkenaan keganasan polis semasa saya ditahan untuk siasatan pada 6.12.09 hingga 14.12.09. Saya ditahan di Petronas, Pekan Nilai lebih kurang pukul 9.00 pagi dan dibawa ke IPK Seremban bersama kereta LIMO bernombor LIMO 2940 W. Setiba di sana, saya dibawa ke bilik siasatan tingkat bawah.

Semasa saya berada di sana, saya dipukul dan ditendang oleh enam orang pegawai polis. Sewaktu itu, seorang polis berpakaian biasa telah menyuruh saya membuka baju dan seluar. Selepas itu, dia mengambil gambar kemaluan saya. Saya telah dipukul sehingga pukul 4 petang dan tidak diberi makan dan minum. Selepas itu, mereka membawa saya menaiki van polis ke IPD Seremban.

Setiba disana, saya dibawa ke bilik siasatan tingkat bawah. Sewaktu disana, saya ditendang di muka oleh Inspektor Sobry. Selain itu, beberapa pegawai polis lain juga memukul dan menendang saya. Saya juga tidak diberi makan dan minum dan terus dihantar ke lokap nombor 13.

Keesokan hari 7.12.09, saya dibawa ke mahkamah dan mendapat reman 4 hari. Selepas itu saya dibawa balik ke IPD Seremban pada pukul 1 petang untuk memberi statement. Insp Sobry yang mengambil statement. Sebelum mengambil statement, Insp Sobry telah mengaku tuduhan terhadap saya adalah palsu dan dia sendiri mengaku repot pengadu tidak sahih. Selepas mengambil statement saya dibawa ke lokap.

Pada 10.12.09, saya dibawa ke mahkamah sekali lagi dan mendapat reman 6 hari. Sebelum pergi ke mahkamah Insp Sobry telah mengarah, supaya tidak bercakap dengan majistet semasa mengambil reman di mahkamah. Saya terus dibawa balik ke lokap IPD Seremban.

Semasa saya di lokap, saya dibawa ke bilik siasatan D7 Korporal bergari belakang dan dipaksa duduk berlutut dengan paip PVC yang diletak di belakang lutut saya. . Di sana saya mendapati pengadu yang membuat repot palsu terhadap saya berada dalam bilik siasatan. Di dalam bilik tersebut terdapat seorang polis perempuan dan tujuh orang polis lelaki. Di situ saya disoal dan semua jawapan yang saya beri tidak diterima dan dipukul bertubi-tubi. Pengadu bercakap bohong berkali-kali dan saya menyangkah segala tuduhannya.

Apabila saya membantah, saya akan terus dipukul dengan paip PVC dan paip getah yang tidak berlubang ditengah. Polis perempuan yang berada di bilik tersebut, memegang rambut saya dan menampar berkali-kali. Selepas itu, dia menendang dada saya menggunakan lututnya. Saya terus terbaring ke lantai.

Pegawai polis perempuan itu, duduk di atas dada saya dan memasukkan kasut yang dipakainya ke dalam mulut saya. Di memaksa kasut itu kedalam mulut. Saya boleh rasa kasut itu sudah sampai ke tekak saya. Sewaktu itu, pegawai polis tersebut mengatakan, mengapa saya perlu jumpa pengadu kerana dia(pegawai polis) lebih cantik dan dia cuba menanggalkan tudung dan bajunya. Dia juga memaki hamun dengan perkataan lucah keluarga saya. Saya ternampak nombor plet kereta polis perempuan itu iaitu Proton Waja No. MAS 6043.

Selepas itu, pegawai polis perempuan dan pengadu keluar bilik. Lebih kurang 15 min kemudian, pegawai polis perempuan tersebut datang balik ke bilik Korporal D7 dan terus mengoncang kepala saya dengan memegang rambut dan mengatakan pengadu itu membuat laporan palsu terhadap saya.

Selepas ini, kesemua pegawai polis yang berada di dalam bilik tersebut terus mengatakan pengadu itu membuat laporan palsu. Selepas itu saya dibawa masuk ke lokap semula. Di sana saya tidak dapat menahan sakit badan dan mendapat demam selsema. Saya meminta ubat, tetapi tidak diberi. Pegawai yang bertugas mengatakan lokap tidak mempunyai panadol atau ubat demam

Read more at: Kisah Benar : Di Belasah semasa menjadi Tahanan Polis.

UMNO Seeks Penang BN Chairmanship

PENANG, Dec 19 (Bernama) -- Umno is seeking the chairmanship of the Penang Barisan Nasional (BN) now held by Gerakan, saying it is necessary to strengthen the coalition's position in the state.

Penang Umno Liaison Committee chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the request for the chairmanship was reasonable because Umno held all the seats won by the BN in the state in the last general election.

Umno holds 11 seats while the Pakatan pact of DAP, PKR and PAS, which forms the state government, holds the other 29 seats in the 40-seat state legislative assembly.

"Other (BN) component parties do not hold any (state) seat in Penang," Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is an Umno vice-president, told reporters Friday night after chairing a meeting of the Penang Umno Liaison Committee, here.

The chairmanship of Penang BN has never been held by Umno. The post is now held by Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is the Defence Minister, said he hoped that Penang Umno's desire to take over the chairmanship would be considered by the BN central leadership.

"We are desirous of working for the BN and cooperating with the other component parties to strengthen the BN, not to implement our respective party agendas.

"We are convinced that as a party, it is impossible for us to win (any election) without the support of the other component parties," he said.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the request for the chairmanship was not in the interest of any personality but for the sake of the party.

"It is not necessarily so that I, as the chairman of the Penang Umno Liaison committee, will be appointed as the state BN chairman. The post may be held by the state BN deputy chairman or the Opposition Leader," he said.

On another matter, Dr Ahmad Zahid said he hoped that the post of president of the Penang Islamic Affairs Council (MAIPP) would not be given to a Pakatan representative.

He said a delegation of the Penang State Legislative Assembly would seek an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin soon to convey the matter.

The term of the current MAIPP president, Shabudin Yahaya, ends on Dec 31.

Indian Rupee Turned Into Razor Blades

By P.Vijian

NEW DELHI, Dec 19 (Bernama) -- Indian security authorities are now burdened with a new kind of border crime, smuggling of five Indian rupee coins to neighbouring Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, these coins are worth more than their face value. Syndicates are melting the coins and turning them into razor blades.

According to police officials, six razor blades could be produced from a single coin and each is sold at two Indian rupees (RM.15), reported the Press Trust of India (PTI).

"This has been going on for quite some time now. We are looking into it," HR Khan, executive director, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) told the news agency.

"We are now changing the metallic content of the five-rupee coin so that the new ones will not be lucrative for melting. The new metallic content of the cupronickel coin will reduce its attractiveness for smugglers," added Khan.

The clandestine activity is creating a shortage of the five-rupee coin and the RBI is now taking measures to control the distribution of the coin to prevent any abuse.

Across the border, smugglers work in ramshackle workshops to melt the coins into nice razor blades that are then sold in the local markets, according news reports.

Fighting for justice – or fighting back?

By Shaila Koshy

Is the Malaysian Bar extraordinary general meeting today on new initiatives in the courts akin to using a tank to crush a fly or is it the only way to stress its concerns because while the general is listening the foot soldiers may not be?

DAMNED if you do and damned if you don’t; that about sums up how the judiciary is feeling this month.

Almost all of his predecessors in the last two decades have made passionate speeches about clearing the backlog of cases, but only Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi has managed to get something off the ground.

It must be said here Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah, when he was CJ, tried to bring in the practice of case management. However, before they could work the kinks out of the system, which was not quite embraced by the Bar or, a new CJ stepped in and stopped it.

But this time, it’s different: the Bar has welcomed the reform introduced by the judiciary and the Government has finally allocated tax ringgit to it.

So, do we want a broom to get the job done faster or better or both?

The question often forgotten is who wields the broom. Hence the importance of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that Zaki has brought in. And that is the crux of the Malaysian Bar’s EGM today.

Two resolutions touch on the courts scheduling and adjournment of cases and the fact judges may be over-emphasising numerical KPIs to dispensing justice.

While one is by Bar Council chairman Ragunath Kesavan, the fact that the second is by three very senior lawyers – Tommy Thomas, Raja Aziz Addruse and Karpal Singh – has not gone unnoticed.

The council and various state bar committees have met with Zaki, Chief Judge of Malaya (CJM) Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria, and managing judges Federal Court Justices Datuk James Foong and Datuk Raus Sharif many times this year and have found them approachable. So, why call an EGM?

Ragunath takes great pains to stress the Bar supports the initiatives that the CJ has brought in:

TRACKING system;

UNIFORMITY of procedure;

TRIALS start on schedule;

BETTER administration structure – easier filing of documents and faster extraction of orders; and

COURT recording and transcription system – reduced trial time.

But, the big BUT here, says Ragunath, is some judges appear overzealous in disposing cases.

“The message they seem to have gotten is that the number of cases disposed of is more important than the dispensing of justice.

“We have spoken to the CJ, the CJM and the two managing judges of the decisions that clearly show that.

“We know disposing of cases and the dispensing of justice is not an exact science. But how can judges fix trial dates without checking with counsel; or refuse to postpone even though the lawyer has a medical certificate and does not have a history of malingering, or a surgeon cannot appear because he has an emergency operation to perform, or carry on a death penalty case without a defence counsel?”

Ragunath says the instances had increased in the last three months from one to five to more than 10: “We need to stop to this trend.”

He adds some judges could be retaliating because they can’t cope.

“The new system has more control over the management of cases.

“Today, non-performers will be identified immediately and judges fear the number of cases disposed of will determine their performance.”

Zaki has said in several interviews that judges maintain their discretion and independence in making their decisions. What more can he do?

“The CJ has clarified but it is still happening, so clearly the judges are getting mixed messages.

“Some judges have said, even in genuine applications for a postponement, they would have granted one before but would not now because of the KPIs,” says Ragunath, adding the CJ should make public the KPIs.

Until the mid 1990s it was unheard of not to have hearings in the afternoon but that changed. Could lawyers also be chafing at the bit now?

“Lawyers also have to change their mindset. We have told members, if they file a case, they must be prepared to proceed and be flexible about dates as well,” says Ragunath.

Pemudah co-chairman Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon is one who feels an EGM is too strong a response for a problem that could be resolved through dialogue.

He says the private sector members of Pemudah have had several meetings with the CJ and his team over Malaysia’s low ranking in the World Bank Index for enforcing contracts and had been assured there would be better management of cases and monitoring of output.

“In the first 10 months of 2008, the courts only disposed of 73 full trial cases. In the same period this year, it was 481,” says Yong, adding they looked forward to a time when cases are resolved in just months.

But what’s wrong in the Bar saying quality and integrity should override quantity?

“There’s no argument against quality but you can’t disregard the total time elapsed before a case is resolved either.

“If the judiciary is taking steps to improve the management of cases, all of us should help achieve this.

“If there are specific instances as have been highlighted, then deal with them,” he says.

And if some judges are indeed retaliating?

Yong still prefers a dialogue: “This (EGM) looks like another judiciary bashing though, this time, to my mind, it is undeserved.”

On the matter of postponements arising out of litigants wanting a particular lawyer, Yong says lawyers should only take cases according to the capacity of their law firm.

“If they are very good and get many cases, they can take in more partners or legal assistants.

“You can’t expect the rest of the legal system to be dictated by the output of a few lawyers who are overbooked.”

On the question of choosing one’s counsel, he suggests, if there is a shortage as in intellectual property law, the Government should speed up liberalisation of the legal services so the private sector can appoint foreign counsel if they so want.

The public is certainly waiting to see what the EGM decides.

Saturday December 12, 2009

Four human traffickers charged

The Star

HANOI: Four individuals will be prosecuted for trafficking 400 women to Malaysia and other Asian countries, Vietnamese police said.

The trafficking ring was uncovered late last year in Ho Chi Minh city when police detained its alleged leader, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Yen, 53, and three of her associates after they helped a woman check in for a flight to Malaysia.

Most of the trafficked women were from Tay Ninh and other Mekong Delta provinces, said a provincial police officer yesterday.

He declined to give his name saying he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The officer said the alleged traffickers received US$500 (RM1,700) for each woman sent overseas and an additional US$1,000 (RM3,400) for each who found a foreign spouse.

Most of the 400 trafficked women were sent to Malaysia, the officer said, with others taken to Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.

About 80 women found husbands in Malaysia and 223 others came back to Vietnam.

The whereabouts of nearly 100 others remain unknown, he said, adding that some may have been forced into prostitution, according to an Associated Press report.

Meanwhile, M. KUMAR reports from Petaling Jaya that syndicates involved in trafficking Vietnamese women to Malaysia were looking to marry the women off to locals willing to sponsor their travel expenses.

MCA Public Service and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong, who said this, added that the travel expenses for a Vietnamese woman to come here could be as high as RM15,000.

“Once they get married, most of them will leave their husbands and run away,” he said, adding that some were forced into prostitution.

Chong said over the past two years, his office received an average of six to seven cases of missing Vietnamese wives here.

Indians denied Fidloit cow land

Indians denied Fidloit cow land scheme 130 individual cow farming entrepreneurs and 180 contract farmers would be given opportunities to reduce the 72% beef import from overseas (refer BH 18/12/09 at page 20) but thousands of even third and fourth generation Indian cattles farmers have been denied upward mobility opportunities in these projects by Malay-sia’s UMNO government. UMNO would rather give RM 100.00 per month welfare help for the single percent Indian lady with five young children including her 8 month old baby (refer to our posting yesterday) instead of giving her an opportunity in these Fidloit cow projects, Felda, Felcra, Risda, Fama and Agropoliton land schemes to also help alienate poverty among the poor and working class Indians. I




Special Branch Operative ASP Vasanthakumar in Action

Please see the video circulating in cyberspace showing how Vasanthakumar is playing out his role as a SB agent. I attach it below.

They call such agents like Vasanthakumar, E3M or something like that - people who have double roles in their lives. In this case this SB agent’s job is to create confusion among the Indians, create disunity among the Indians and destroy the unity that was built up after the 25th of November 2007.

Otherwise how do you explain the fact that he is working aginst the poor Indians there. If he were truly a Hindraf leader, why is he dpoing this. He should really be on their side against the authorities who want to demolish,

In addition he calls the organization that has been looking after the burial site for many years and now fighting the State government from robbing this land from the poor people an illegal organization.

Is Hindraf a legal organization till today. For his benefit he calls himself a Hindraf leader and then goes about decimating other truly people’s organization such as this one, Persatuan Tamilar Kuala Ketil.

This action truely exposes the fact that he is no Hindraf leader but someone who has a distinctly different objective like I have said above. See the video for yourself.



Height of Malay-sian Indian poverty and atrocity.

Height of Malay-sian Indian poverty and atrocity. RM4.00 to feed 5 mouths 22 years old mother, I.Jeeva Santhrika. Her husband in jail (because of a poverty related crime) no water and electricity supply in her squarters abandoned house. Both she, her husband and all five children have been denied birth certificates (although they are third, fourth and fifth generation Malaysian born.

To the contrary a first generation Indonesian immigrant’s son Khir Toyo has become the Chief Minister of the state Selangor, the richest state in Malaysia.

Jeeva Santhrika earns RM 10.00 per day.Working in a second hand goods shop. She has to pay RM 3.00 for 10 pails of water from a neighbour and RM 3.00 to buy candles per.

Jeeva Santhrika has a balance of RM 4.00 per day to feed five mouths and also to feed herself. (The Star 18/12/09 page 51)



RM 4 Billion project for malay company.

RM 4 Billion project for malay company.

But almost zero such government contracts and projects are given out directly to the Indians. At the best the Indians get to do the sub or sub sub or sub sub sub contracts which merely keep them afloat but the malay muslim Project holder or the Main Contractor or a Chinese middleman gets a free ride from the blood and sweat of these hardworking Indians. Hundreds of thousands of Malaysian Indians are believed to be exploited and excluded from the national mainstream development of Malaysia in this way. (Refer UM 11/12/2009 at page 30).


PKR S’gor MB to demolish Rawang hindu crematorium.

PKR S’gor MB to demolish Rawang hindu crematorium. But he gets Indian Exco Mandore to represent and give them false hopes otherwise. This has been the modus operadi of the previous UMNOs’ MIC manddores who have been doing this “good” job for the previous 50 years before PKR came into power and now ably continuing under the PKR Indian EXCO Mandore. (Refer Makkal Osai 9/12/2009 front page)



Showdown tomorrow for control of Najib’s Indian party

By Baradan Kuppusamy- The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 – Rival factions of the fledgling Makkal Sakti party, which was just launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Oct 10, will go toe-to-toe tomorrow at the party’s headquarters in Shah Alam.

But before that, the rival factions are battling to get control of the symbols of power – the party’s files, membership application forms, keys to the office and the right to use the Makkal Sakti name.

Both factions are expected to bring their “supporters” to get physical, if necessary, to get control of the paraphernalia of political office at the meeting of its 27-member central committee.

Their squabbles are a major embarrassment to Najib, who had hoped the new party would be able to win over support of the Tamil working class that largely backed Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties in the 2008 general election.

The MIC, which was worried a major contender had arrived to compete for Tamil support, is delighted that the incipient party is bogged down so quickly by a power struggle.

The CC meeting was called by secretary general K. Kannan over the objections of President R.S. Thanenthiran (picture), who had ordered Kannan to postpone the meeting to sometime in January 2010.

Thanenthiran had ordered Kannan to postpone two earlier CC meetings requested by deputy president A. Vathemurthy, on the grounds that some CC members were not free and Kannan had complied.

But this time Kannan has rejected Thanenthiran’s request to postpone Saturday’s meeting.

“I have read our constitution thoroughly and consulted lawyers and believe I am are legally and constitutionally right to call for the meeting,” Kannan told The Malaysian Insider.

Vathemurthy’s faction had written in requesting for the CC meeting to either sack Thanenthiran as president or convene an emergency AGM and let delegates sack him.

Thanenthiran is anxious to postpone the meeting because, party sources said, he does not enjoy a majority in the CC.

Vathemurthy himself does not want to be president but is anxious to hand over the presidency to others whom he says are more qualified than Thanenthiran.

He accuses Thanenthiran for hogging the limelight and the patronage coming the party’s way and accused him of being an “arrogant mini-Samy Vellu” riding roughshod over Vathemurthy and his supporters.

Thanenthiran denies the allegations and accuses Vathemurthy of trying to remove him and give the party presidency to “outsiders”.

Klang businessman Omms Thiagarajan is said to be the man behind Vathemurthy and who is ambitious to become president of a party that is close to Najib. But he has denied he is manipulating Vathemurthy.

Rivals factions have lodged police reports claiming they are “legally and constitutionally” in the right to hold the CC meeting.

Thanenthiran says the upcoming meeting is illegal because he had not sanctioned it and has asked police for help to stop any meeting.

Likewise, Vathemurthy has asked police for help to hold the meeting.

Police will have a tough time keeping the peace, especially if things get physical and supporters try to break into the headquarters, seize files and hold a CC meeting.

No matter which faction emerges winner, the party’s reputation is in tatters and its future blighted, leaving its promoter Najib red in the face.

Can Pakatan Rakyat tell us what happened to this promise?

In a few hours time, the Pakatan Rakyat delegates will be sitting down for their first conference. Malaysia Today has been told that local government elections is no longer Pakatan Rakyat’s agenda. This is a betrayal and a departure from the promise made during the March 2008 general election campaign. Malaysia Today would like to remind Pakatan Rakyat what was agreed in March 2008 and in Melaka in July that same year.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Conference on the Roadmap to Local Government Elections

A conference on the Roadmap to Local Government Elections was jointly organized by the Malacca Bar Committee in cooperation with the Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform (CSI-Parliament) and the Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI) on July 26th, 2008 at King’s Hotel. The aim of this conference was to serve as a platform to propel practical but exciting development options to hold elections in local government and to encourage further collaboration between the federal administration and local authorities in regards to civil society advocacy. The outcome of this conference will form the basis for wider public consultation and it is the fervent wish of the organisers that it would ignite institutional reform towards a democratic system of locally elected representatives.

About 60 participants had attended the conference.

In the opening speech, the Chairman of the Malacca Bar Committee, Mr. Ng Kong Peng commented that the implementation of local government elections was a virtual and complete exercise of democratic right by the people. Mr. Ng also recorded his appreciation for the hardwork and effort given by the Chairman of the Malacca Bar’s Human Rights and Contemporary Issues Sub-Committee, Mr. Anthony Chua and his sub-committee members, CSI-Parliament as well as CPI in organising this conference. Chief Executive Officer of CPI, Dr. Lim Teck Ghee told the audience that the authority had systematically tried to expunge local government elections from people’s memory. Before the general election results in March, 2008 were announced, restoration of local government elections was generally regarded as unthinkable. However, after the political tsunami of March, 2008, there is hope of having the elections again. Wong Chin Huat, a founding member of CSI-Parliament opined that the principle of “no taxation without representation” should be upheld. As such, all taxing authority should be elected. He urged the five states governed by Pakatan Rakyat to set out a timetable for local government elections to be carried out in respective states soonest possible.

Session 1 of the conference was entitled “Why Local Democracy”. Moderator of this session was Mr. Ng Kong Peng. The first speaker was Mr. Derek Fernandez, a town planning lawyer and a member of the Petaling Jaya City Council. Mr. Derek gave a presentation on the topic of “An Assessment of the Status Quo Under the Current Laws.” He commented that the will of Pakatan Rakyat state governments in having local government elections was eroding. This should not have happened as the most crucial factor of Pakatan Rakyat’s win in urban areas in the last election was due to its’ component parties’ promise of restoring local government elections. He further elaborated that the need to restore local government elections arises from the many issues concerning poor management and abuse of power in local authorities as highlighted by our local newspapers. People were angry by political interferences in the decision-making of the local councils and they want changes to be made. He also went through the statutory provisions governing local government with the participants, amongst others, section 9 of the Local Government Act 1976 (power of state authority to issue directions) and section 10(2) of the Local Government Act 1976 (criteria for councillors of the local authority to be appointed). The appointment of local councillors under the present scheme or system is a political appointment and certainly there is no transparency. Mr. Derek was of the view that section 1 (4) of the Local Government Act 1976, Article 95B(1)(a) and Article 113(4) of the Federal Constitution actually provided a way out for the state governments to abolish the present appointment scheme and call for the elections for local government. He also opined that certain emergency legislations which suspended the local government elections may be invalid. Article 150(5) of the Federal Constitution was also interpreted by Mr. Derek as requiring emergency laws to contain the express provision on emergency matters and if there is none then such emergency legislations should be invalid.

The next speaker was Mr. Edward Lee, the state assemblyman for Bukit Gasing, Selangor and the President of Resident Association Section 5 Petaling Jaya who spoke on the topic of “The Role of Civil Society in Local Governance.” Mr. Lee shared about his personal experience of taking part in the community activities and assured the participants that he would use his official position to contribute to the restoration of local government elections. He also encouraged the participants to take more active role in local governance by taking step such as attending the local council meetings.

The last speaker for this session was Mr. Victor Oorjitham, a former local councillor serving from 1970 to 1975 in the Petaling Jaya Council. Mr. Victor shared with the participants about the historical background of the local councils. He outlined the differences between the local councillors in the 1970s and their successors since 1980s. In 1970s, when the local councillors were appointed, section 10 of the Local Government Act 1976 was followed strictly. He also gave examples of the types of persons who were appointed in the 70's. The Petaling Jaya Council included a Banker, the Legal advisor of the Employees Provident Fund, a senior police officer, a senior civil servant from the Treasury, a senior civil servant from the Ministry of Information, the Editor of a leading newspaper, a medical practitioner, himself (Legal Advisor to A.I.A ) and others who came within the guidelines. But, all these people, in addition to the professional expertise they brought to the post, were involved in community affairs. However, in 1980s, the local councillors began to change to be political appointees from component parties of the ruling coalition. Before 1980s, the local councillors were loyal to the public but after that, the local councillors were only loyal to their political masters. Since then, corruption had tarnished the service given by the local authorities whereby by-laws and guidelines were not followed strictly. This had then affected people’s lives and interests.

After a tea break, the conference resumed with Session 2 -“Reviving Local Elections: The State Solutions”. The moderator for the session was Dr. Lim Teck Ghee.

The first speaker for the session was Mr. Andrew Khoo, the Co-Deputy Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of the Malaysian Bar. Mr. Khoo went through the statutory provisions passed for the purpose of suspending local government elections and the available statutory provisions for the state authorities to pave way for the local elections to be carried out. He concluded that state authorities may apply the “opt-out” notifications provided by the provisions in their attempt to conduct the local government elections.

The audience then had Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Chin Fook Weng, a national speaker for Gerakan, to present Gerakan’s position with regards to the issue. Tan Sri Chin pointed out that Gerakan had actually included local government elections as one of its promises in their manifesto in 1969. However, after going through the state of emergency laws and having formed a coalition with their political partners in Barisan Nasional, it cannot be carried out as there were other issues to be considered. He was of the view that although there has been no local government elections since the suspension of the elections, people have been giving mandate to the elected state assemblymen forming the state authorities to appoint their councillors. As such, this is an indirect elections for local councils. He also stated that our society is fragile and the direct election for local government can only be restored when people become more mature. The Gerakan’s view presented by Tan Sri Chin triggered comments from the participants as they have doubts on the “immaturity” of Malaysian society after 50 years of independence and question on the cause of such “immaturity”.

The next speaker for the session was Mr. Ronnie Liu, the Selangor Government Exco member for Local Government, Study and Research Committee. Mr. Liu began his presentation by making a stand that it was the intention of the Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor to restore local government elections as there were advantages of doing so. However he mentioned that in view of the fact that the federal government does not propose to amend the laws to restore the local government elections, it may not be practical for the state government alone to conduct the elections at the moment. He was prepared to meet the federal minister who is in charge of the local government and the Prime Minister in order to persuade them to convince the cabinet so that such amendment may be tabled and passed in Parliament. During the Q & A time, Mr. Wong Chin Huat tried to get a confirmation from Mr. Liu on the preparation and timetable for the local government elections to be implemented by the Selangor government. However, Mr. Liu insisted that a thorough study needed to be carried out on the matter first. According to Mr. Liu, a special committee would be set up by the Selangor government in 6-month’s time, as proposed by the Menteri Besar of Selangor, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. Nevertheless, the actual time needed for the process could not be confirmed now as the state government had other priorities to consider.

After session 2 ended, the participants took a break for lunch.

The third session discussed ways to revive local elections via federal solutions. Professor Abdul Aziz Bari addressed the fact that in the Federal Constitution, the conduct of elections is regulated by the Elections Commission. As long as it is under the prerogative of the federal government, the political will to conduct local council elections shall come from the federal government.

Mr. Sivarasa Rasiah, MP for Subang and Vice President of Parti Keadilan Rakyat spoke next on the parliamentary mechanisms to initiate local government elections via the private members’ bill and select committees. He believes that one should not separate the state and federal process. Clause 4 of Art.113 of the Federal Constitution provides that Federal or State law may authorise the Election Commission to conduct election. Thus the State Assembly could pass local elections law themselves by drafting the law and promulgating it to the public. Mr. Rasiah further mentioned on the difficulties to have the private members’ bills tabled in the Parliament. The Standing Order 15 provides for conduct of meetings in the Parliament and, as always the case would be, the governmental matters would always take precedence over private concerns. To have the private members’ bills discussed or passed at Parliament is an uphill task. Thus, according to him, there is an urgent need for Parliamentary reform. The problem of lack of supporting staff for individual members of parliament needs to be addressed . He compared our Parliament to that of Indonesia where an MP there would be designated five staffers; and in the Philippines, seven staffers would be designated to a single MP. In Malaysia, an MP does his duties without such assistance.

Dr Goh Ban Lee, a retired USM Associate Professor spoke on the National Council of Local Governments (NCLG). On November 28th, 1971, after NCLG deliberated on the Athi Nahappan Report in its meeting, it was held that the suspension of local government elections should continue to be in force. At another meeting held on September 30th, 1972, it was decided that local councils were incapable of running their own affairs satisfactorily. In the pre-independence period, Penang’s local councillors were fully elected. However, because of lack of understanding on the meaning of being councillors, in new Chinese villages, the elected councillors behaved without constraint and were above the law. Dr Goh thus holds the view that elections do not necessarily bring about a good government. Dr Goh said that it was possible to appoint an Independent Committee to select local councillors.

At the end of the conference, a joint press statement was issued and resolutions were adopted. They are as follows:-

Joint Press Statement issued by:

Mr. Ng Peng Kong, Melaka Bar Committee Chairman

Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, Director, Centre for Policy Initiatives

Mr. Wong Chin Huat, Civil Society Parliamentary Initiative for Parliamentary Reform

This press statement is issued as the outcome of the “Roadmap to Local Government Elections” Conference jointly organised by the Malacca Bar Committee, Centre for Policy Initiatives and Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform (CSI-Parliament) on July 26th, 2008 in Malacca.

Participants at the one-day conference adopted the following resolutions:

1. the restoration of local elections constitutes an important step forward in reviving democracy, improving the standard of governance and checking the scourge of corruption, excesses and mismanagement presently plaguing the urban population in Malaysia;

2. the restoration of local elections lies clearly within the jurisdiction of the state government, as provided for by the Article 113(4) and Item 4, List II, Schedule 9 in the Federal Constitution. State governments, especially the Pakatan Rakyat ones which have made election promises on reviving local elections, should take immediate steps to formulate state laws to such effect;

3. the Federal Government should, at the same time, initiate consultations with the general public and hold negotiations with the state governments to formulate a comprehensive plan to have local elections that are clean, free, fair and representative.

Speakers at the conference included the following:

Professor Abdul Aziz BARI is lecturing at the Department of Public Law at the International Islamic University.

Tan Sri Dato’ Dr CHIN Fook Weng is a national speaker for Gerakan and a former senator and Associate Professor.

Mr Derek FERNANDES is a town planning lawyer and a member of the Petaling Jaya City Council.

Dr GOH Ban Lee is a retired USM Associate Professor interested in urban governance, housing and urban planning.

Mr Andrew KHOO is the Co-Deputy Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, with interests running from parliamentary reform, electoral reform to Free Trade Agreements.

Mr Edward LEE is the state assemblyperson for Bukit Gasing and the President of Resident Association Section 5 Petaling Jaya.

Mr Ronnie LIU is the state assemblyman for Pandamaran, Selangor and the Selangor Government Exco member for Local Government, Study and Research Committee.

Mr Victor OORJITHAM is the Chairman of Maxwell Towers Resident Association (local joint action committee) and former local councilor for Petaling Jaya.

Mr Sivarasa RASIAH is the member of Parliament for Subang and the Vice President of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

The Malaysian Bar

Teach Radical Malaysian History in ours schools

A good history lesson makes history that come alive by allowing children to play the role of makers of their own history. It allows children to put Parameswara on trial for murder and revolt. It teaches children to question the founding of Melaka and the intention of the author/court-propagandist Tun Sri Lanang who wrote it.


Azly Rahman

Malaysians -- we need to radically change the way we teach history, civics, and nationhood. Changing times demand changing needs. We must train our historians and history teaches not only to question history and themselves but also to help voices of the oppressed to be heard through a systematic and deliberate program in detoxifying our consciousness from the Old School history enshrined in the Malaysian history textbooks.
The makers of history continue to be those who own the means of controlling the production of consciousness well as those who own the money to buy votes. They build institutions of control that produce technologies and ideologies of mind control.

We need to excavate the meaning of people’s history and not the history of glorified individuals. Idolatry of any form constitutes mental subjugation that limits the creative and critical ability of a nation to construct ethical civilizations.

An inroad to the reconstruction of how to renew our historical consciousness must lie in the way we teach History/Civics/Citizenship to our children.

Questioning History, restrategizing curriculum

History is that field of study/enterprise so powerful a mental glue that can integrate or disintegrate a nation. It becomes crucial what perspective of history we use in crafting its ancillary called Citizenship Studies/Kenegaraan. We must begin to reconceptualize the way we approach teaching it.

Consider the following questions we may begin to ask ourselves concerning history:

Whose history is of most supreme?
What kind of history is most meaningful to the individual?
Who writes history?
From what point of view is history written?
When does history textbooks get revised?
How does history contribute to lethal ethnocentrism?
Under what circumstances do historians lie?
Is there such a thing as ‘historical facts’ when historical accounts themselves are biases reconstructed based on selective memory and written by those who owns the pen?
Who gets marginalized in the process of historicizing?
When will “history” become “her-story”?
What images of women, immigrants, minorities, natives are presented in history textbooks?
In a multiracial and pluralistic society, how is a national history textbook written?
Must history continue to glorify individuals, despots, autocrats, dictators, symbols of slavery and oppression, buildings, etc.?
How do we teach children to write their own histories so that they may become makers of history instead of being fed with other people’s history?
How do we make history lessons come alive?

Via a personal narrative, let me illustrate why we ought to provide new questions in history.

In my history classes in primary school, I had always daydreamed of being transported to lands far away – to Greece of the Olympian gods, Rome of Caesar, Majapahit, and the kingdom of Ashoka.

My question has oftentimes been this: why are the kings/sultans/rajahs ruthless and why did people have to worship them?

What magical powers such as the ‘daulat’ that these kings possess and why aren’t; the slaves given theirs too? What led people to believe that these rulers posses these powers – did the sultan’s propagandists write all these?

As a child -- I had these questions because I thought it would also be nice to have the power to have a bridge in my kampong collapse by saying

“Hoooi, runtuh lah jembatan ni…aku perintah kau runtuh .. jadi.. maka jadi lah.. kun faya kun”

[ “Hoooi… collapse ye’ little bridge.. I command ye to collapse.. be .. and let it be… let it be]

I wanted such powers for myself – if (the Japanese hero) UltraMan can have it, then why can’t I?

In teaching American and World History, in the United States, I continue to ponder how best to make my students daydream of constructing their understanding of history from the people’s point of view – from the history of real people who did the real job of constructing reality that is called a nation.

This means asking my students to explore slave narratives, voices of early immigrants, stories of those who fought tooth and nail against injustices, how kings are overthrown, and how revolutions are crafted. This means asking my students to understand the concept of the modern daulat – hegemony.

A few years ago, in my classes in Foundations of Western Civilization, I would have my students construct group manifestos of new civilizations based on a synthesis of work of major thinkers of the Western World they study. Their manifestos reflect a problem-based understanding of the issues of modern times, using ideas of the past. I wanted to have them look at history differently and become part of the ongoing conversation of what it takes to be a social thinker.

I wanted to push the limits of their imagination in order for them to produce challenging questions on issues of how democracy looks like and what it takes to build a thinking nation. I would continue to push the limits of their individual as well as group thinking in deconstructing and reconstructing history so that the lessons will bring them closer to the people and not to kings, despots, dictators, and monuments.

I was, at the same time, teaching them to analyze ideology and deconstruct hegemony. I only asked questions. I seldom give them answers. As Socrates would say, the answers are within themselves.

Civics lessons and a healthy democracy

Those who think that we cannot question historical facts, have not learned the philosophy of history nor been introduced to more exciting strategies of creative and critical thinking.

Teachers and university educators who preach ‘official histories’ need to be introduced to the varieties of teaching strategies of teaching History as well as the spectrum of views on what history, from the perspective of history and class consciousness, can be.

A skilled teacher/university educator will humbly entertain any question on history. The more we question ‘historical facts’ the sharper our thinking will become. The more we question the origin of things, the better we will play our role as creators of history as well as masters of our own destiny. The more we delve into the most challenging questions in history, the healthier our sense of well-beingness of own democracy will be.

A healthy democracy is one that teaches each and every child what ‘politics’ mean. In our History class, it teaches the meaning of justice and fairness and of the use and abuse of power. It teaches the process and possibilities of democracy and not of democracy as a product created by the elite few that come from dynasties. It teaches them how to become active and reflective citizens.

A good History lesson do not teach children to memorize facts that are suspect, or historical facts that are oxymoronic, or of dead people and dead places and who controls this or that territory, or which kingdom gets overthrown by this or that usurping prince. It teaches them to question those facts and to put those individuals on trial. It puts Christopher Columbus on trial for murdering thousands of Arawak Indians in the process of being canonized as the “founder” of America.

A good History lesson does not teach the idea that Parameswara, who fled his kingdom in an unsuccessful coup attempt in Palembang, and next killed Temagi in the then Singapura, and next hunted down by the Thais, and next landed under a Melaka tree -- is a hero. It teaches children to be vigilant against rulers who are murderers and plunderers and slave-owners.

The story of a glorified Parameswara as a founder is a bad history lesson – how can we still glorify a ‘historical fact’ of an usurper and a murderer as a founder of Melaka? It is like glorifying the history of Manhattan island, New York City – worth 24 dollars in real estate value and became a haven for smugglers, pirates, and bootleggers.

A good history lesson makes history that come alive by allowing children to play the role of makers of their own history. It allows children to put Parameswara on trial for murder and revolt. It teaches children to question the founding of Melaka and the intention of the author/court-propagandist Tun Sri Lanang who wrote it.

A good History class is one that teaches children to revise, debunk, and deconstruct history as a tool of mass deception. It challenges students to look at history in radically different ways to make history come alive, subjective, and ever revisionist.

A good History class teaches children the people’s history of the land – of those who died building monuments, istanas, factories, bridges, tunnels, or in wars between the greedy Sultans of the region. These are the unsung heroes of history that our children ought to be taught to honor.

A good History lesson teaches children not other people’s history but of their own – beginning with one’s personal history, next to one’s family, and one’s people – all within the framework of history that does not alienate and marginalize human beings.

The way we still teach History and Social Studies reflects why we Malaysians cannot yet evolve from the consciousness of ‘waiting for the messiahs/saviors/matrieya/al-Mahdi/ Perdana Menteri’ to the consciousness of understanding the Self as the true ruler of the Kingdom within.

Already our land is littered with names after names of individuals who wield dynastic power since modern time immemorial – names of those deserving or not. These names are inscribed on roadsigns, billboards, lorongs in kampongs, landmark buildings, corporate towers, stadiums, schools, higher education institutions, and deep in the consciousness of the people through media control of the human mind.

We become colonized by these names, signs, and symbols. The mind becomes paralyzed being colonized by these concepts, signs, and symbolism that govern the daily economic, social, and political existence of the people that are being made objects of other people’s history.

Let us teach our children that they too can become the next Prime Minister. Teach our teachers how to creatively teach Civics and History and to acquire the art and science of Revisionist Civics, Counter-factual History, and Radical and Transformational Leadership.

Our political conversations will then be more meaningful and our road to democracy will be more enjoyable.

Man makes history, said the great historian E.H. Carr. It is the “people’s history” as American historian Howard Zinn would say, that ought to be honored

SB Vasathakumar in action

Why the poor and the marginalized need HINDRAF and its Political Wing the HRP

When the Police, the Political parties, the Courts all gang up against you when your rights are being taken away systematically from you, what do you do? When Politicians regardless of their hue or colour resort to manipulation and threats to carry out the usurpation of your rights what do you do? When the supposedly opposition parties, opportunistically work with the same police and courts that they themselves are having trouble with, attack and prevent the poor and marginalized from realising their rights what do you do?

What do you do?

What does one do?

I think the inevitable is about to happen, if it is not already happening.

Read on.

One must first have a basic understanding of how it all works that we have this repeating outcome. The political system in the country is an electoral democracy. The social system is one based on ethnicity. The economic system is based on free market operation. Put all this together you have an ethnically orientated policy making Government that favours the rich among the economic classes, the Malays among the ethnic groups and the politically numerous groups, votewise, among the polity.

Within this system when you have an ethnically homogeneous group that numerically is small and is at the bottom of the economic ladder, like the poor Indians , what tends to occur in this system is a systematic usurpation of their rights and denial of their share of the resources of this nations – in short, marginalization occurs as a direct outcome of the workings of this system. You just scan Malaysiakini for the last several years and every week in their columns you will find something or the other about all of this.

The latest case is that of the Kuala Ketil Tamilar Association – a small Association of Indians in the Kuala Ketil area, in Kedah. Right now their burial ground is being threatened by the Kedah State Government. This is a burial ground the Indians in that area have been using for a long long time. Only a historical study can verify its true age, not petty politicians as they are wont to do in this case to justify their eagerness to sweep away this part of our history. Now using threats, using treachery, using the Police, using the Media, the Kedah State Government is trying to steal this land from the Indians there, all over again. This story has been told so many times in recent memory across the country – especially so since this thing called ‘economic development’ has been occurring on land which were historically plantation land, for the benefit of the pockets of the rich and powerful in the country with little or no concern for the historical occupants of the land.

Slowly little by little the Indians are being pushed out – a little out of the estates, a little out of their temples, a little out of their urban squatter settlements, a little out of their traditional burial grounds, a little out of their schools, a little out of their traditional employment, without any or proper or equitable replacement. The aggregate social effect of all this is potentially a decimation of a community by what you can call a death of a thousand cuts.

When all this happens the people of the community are left with little choice but to look to their collective strength to stay this jeopardy to their existence as a community. They have to get organized to ward off this steady, sometimes open, sometimes surreptitious encroachment, which if not checked means a complete erasure of their community from the face of this country.

That collective strength of these Indians is now finding increasing expression in Hindraf and the Human Rights Party. Hindraf and the Human Rights Party are now increasingly providing the ideological, moral and physical leadership for the poor and marginalized Indians in Malaysia. Hindraf started as a huge emotional outburst two years ago. Now it is finding systematic form and is standing up for the people in more organized manner. Hindraf and its political wing, The Human Rights Party, as a trademark now gets to the crux of the matter right away whenever a problem raises its ugly head against the poor Indians and confronts those responsible immediately for the wrongful actions and does this all fearlessly. This is the defining character of Hindraf and of the Human Rights Party- its fearlessness and its clear articulation of the oppressive tendencies within the system.

In the case of the Kuala Ketil Tamilar Association, they contacted Uthaykumar for support against those who were attempting to steal the burial ground off from them. Uthayakumar immediately responded to them in support and sent in a clear letter to the Chief Executive of the State of Kedah, the Kedah MB, Ustaz Azizan. He outlined the problem from the point of the view of the Indians there, the wrong approach of the Kedah State Government in trying to push the Indians out, and a reassertion of the rights of the Indian people there. He is providing the people there with the leadership they need to stop this already too far gone encroachment and to start the process of regaining what has been lost.

Whether this initiative succeeds, the general process has begun - the process where the poor and marginalized Indians will start looking to Hindraf and the Human Rights Party for support against the systematic encroaching which they have been suffering silently all this while and of a systematic and fearless response of support for these people by Hindraf and the Human Rights Party. This is a virtuous cycle and as days pass the momentum of this cycle will build.

The poor and the marginalized need to be heard. They need to obtain their share of the resources of this country. They need to regain their lost dignity. They need to become equals in substance in this system. They need to stand up against the treachery that has kept them there. Hindraf and the Human Rights party provide just all of that. Hindraf and the Human Rights Party were born just out of that need. They are nothing short of an expression of the aspirations of the poor and the marginalized in Malaysia. This is the raison d’etre for Hindraf and the Human Rights Party.

This is history in the making .

Viva la Makkal