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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Philippine volcano blasts intensify

Scientists say a major eruption would be deadly for anyone caught in the surrounding area [AFP]

Volcanologists monitoring the rumbling Mount Mayon volcano in the Philippines say the danger of a major eruption remains high, although when that might happen remains impossible to predict.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Thursday, Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said explosions coming from the volcano were growing in intensity.

Experts observing Mayon are concerned that a violent, pyroclastic explosion could devastate the area surrounding the volcano.

"Since Sunday the explosions have become larger and larger, but not to the extent that we can consider this as a hazardous or major eruption," Solidum said.

Lava has been flowing from the dome of the volcano for 10 days, with clouds of ash ejected up to 2km into the sky.

Nearly 50,000 people have been evacuated from the area surrounding the volcano, but many have reportedly tried to return home for the Christmas holiday despite the continued danger.

Christmas is the biggest annual festival in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines.

In an effort to keep residents from returning, troops have been ordered to enforce an extended 10km no-go zone around the volcano and have imposed 24 hour curfew.

Quakes

Mayon, the most active of 22 volcanoes dotted across the Philippines, has been rocked by hundreds of increasingly powerful earthquakes in recent hours, suggesting a major explosion could be imminent.

Almost 50,000 residents have been evacuated from the danger zone [AFP]
However, volcanologists studying the rumbling mountain say that at the same time the volcano may yet calm down or settle into a more moderate eruption phase.

Meanwhile residents living outside the evacuation area are reporting health problems from the clouds of volcanic ash ejected from the volcano.

Villagers have said the ash is stinging their eyes and irritating their skin.

Medical officials have warned that the tiny ash particles could cause respiratory problems or skin diseases and have advised residents to cover their mouths and skin when they go outside.

Source: Al Jazeerea and agencies

Huan: Keng Yaik still behind Gerakan

Anwar vs Dr M libel suit: Was outcome fixed? - Malaysiakini

Did former Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim play a role in deciding the outcome of Anwar Ibrahim's defamation suit against former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the High Court two years' ago?

This question was mooted following allegations in an anonymous letter that High Court judicial commissioner Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat had struck out Anwar's libel suit after meeting Ahmad Fairuz several times before delivering her verdict.

anwar ibrahim and mahathir argue fightJudges are bound by a strict code of ethics and must be absolutely impartial in their judgments, and not be swayed by pressure from the executive, legislature or by senior members of the judiciary.

If there is even a grain of truth to the allegation, the Malaysian judiciary will be shamed yet again.

Malaysiakini learnt a complaint was made to the Anti Corruption Agency (now Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission) in 2007 soon after Tengku Maimun delivered her verdict on Anwar's suit against Dr Mahathir.

The letter containing the allegations was sent to ACA and also to the judiciary and the authorities. It claimed that Tengku Maimun had on several occasions discussed the matter with Ahmad Fairuz before she delivered her judgment.

It also alleged that Ahmad Fairuz had told Tengku Maimun "how to decide" in the case.

Anwar filed a libel suit against Mahathir following his stinging comments at a Suhakam press conference over the opposition leader's alleged sexual conduct.

Tengku Maimun, in striking out Anwar's suit, ruled that Mahathir's defence was likely to succeed and there was no need for the matter to be heard in a full trial.

lingam tape hearing 300108 vk lingam 02VK Lingam, who was implicated in the infamous video-tape, judge-fixing scandal, was Mahathir's counsel in the case.

Last October, the Court of Appeal had dismissed Anwar's appeal application on a technicality - that Anwar did not file it in Bahasa Malaysia.

Lingam applied to strike out the appeal application before Justice Abdul Malik Ishak, who was heading a three-member panel.

Did Lingam write judgment?

Reporters who covered the decision on Anwar's suit were offered copies of Tengku Maimun's written judgments by Lingam immediately after the verdict was read out.

This raises the question as to whether the lawyer had played a role in writing the judgment, possibly on behalf of Tengku Maimun.

There was a previously such allegation that Lingam had played a role in writing a judge's judgment, as was revealed by his former secretary G N Jayanthi at an inquiry into the video tape scandal.

NONETestifying at a Royal Commission of Inquiry, Jayanthi (left) said she stayed up until 3am in Lingam's office to draft a judgment which was to eventually become a landmark decision.

The decision was read out by High Court judge Mokhtar Sidin in Vincent Tan's libel suit against MGG Pillai.

Jayanthi had said this happened sometime between November and early December 1994, where Lingam was representing Tan, the tycoon of the Berjaya Group.

"I later discovered the judgment written by Lingam was fully incorporated as the official judgment by the said judge," the former secretary had told in her testimony.

As many may recall Lingam was alleged to have spoken to Ahmad Fairuz on the other end of the phone in the video tape when the latter was the Chief Judge of Malaya.

Ahmad Fairuz, when testifying at the Royal Commission, said Lingam's alleged conversation with him was slanderous and a fabrication.

Former UN rapporteur's report

param cumaraswamy interview judiciary crisis 060808 02Former UN special rapporteur on the independence of the judiciary Param Cumaraswamy, following the anonymous letter, wrote to the ACA in September 2007 to lodge a complaint on the possibility of such improper practises.

Param had his letter also questioned Tengku Maimun's confirmation as a full fledged judge a month after delivering the judgment.

A copy of Param's letter and the anonymous letter, which contained several other allegations of impropriety in the judiciary, were made available to Malaysiakini.

Attempts to contact Tengku Maimun, Ahmad Fairuz and the MACC were unsuccessful.

S. Ponny 33, 3 children, RM 300.00 p.m. welfare help, poor single parent.

This single parent in addition to her three step children also has to bring up a two year old handicapped child (since birth) (Utusan Malaysia 7/12/09 at page 16).

Earnings below RM 478.00 per month has been capped as the cut off point for the hardcore poor in the Ninth Malaysia Plan. But Ponny’s welfare aid is about 40% below the hardcore poverty rate.

To make matters worse there is no way this single parent could go to work with these four very young children.

Her husband left her. We assess it was because of poverty related problems. Unlike a Malay muslim, an Iban, Kadazan, orang asli or even a Chinese who would have village or Chinese New Village to go to or to fall back on, this poor Indian lady would have to end up paying at least about RM 200.00 per month in rentals alone. Now what does Ponny do with the balance of the RM 100.00 per month and with five mouths to feed. What’s the future of her four children? Especially the handicapped child whose pampers alone would cost about RM 300.00 per mouth that the Welfare Department is giving her.

Malaysia which can afford to build the tallest twin towers in the world and Petronas’ profit for the first six months of 2009 alone being RM 22 Billion (NST 9/12/09 front page) and the RM 191.5 Billion 2010 budget (NST, Star 24/10/2009 headlines) can certainly give Ponny a government flat/house and RM 900.00 per month as state welfare financial assistance and thereby keeping her above the hardcore poverty level and alleviating her day to day mysery.

Ponny would get no extra help from Baitumal, JAIS, JAKIM, Tabung Haji, Perkim etc. Had Ponny been a Malay muslim, she would have received this help if not the ten acre land ownership scheme in Felda, Felcra, Risda, FAMA, Agropolition etc or the scores of land schemes for livestock and the government’s One District One Industry plan. At the very least S.Ponny and her four children could keep afloat above the hardcore poverty level in these land ownerships schemes with the assistance of her three children. But there is no history in the last forty years or so of UMNO giving the poor Indians land in these aforesaid land ownership schemes.

Ponny is a classical example of a potential committing suicide case which is 600% higher than for the Malays. (Refer Malaysian Indian Minority & Human Rights Violations Annual Report 2008 to Pravasi Bharathiya Divas International Conference at Chennai, India 7th – 9th January 2009)

UMNO must give Ponny and thousands of other Indians the right to a decent livelihood and not these peanuts welfare help of RM 100.00 to RM 300.00 per month. We want a permanent solutions and not piecemeal UMNO politics. UMNO has to leach Ponny how to catch fish and not by giving her one fish every month.

P. Uthayakumar.

www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com

8-12-09-stmt-sponny-article1

One Dollar to create one Indian “entrepreneur” in One

But UMNO gets their Indian Businessman mandores to make media statements otherwise. So this Indian mandore now sings a song that the Indians do not know of these government loans and grants and that very few apply and their application forms were not in order etc etc. (The Star 17/12/2009 at page N31)

But the fact remains that the UMNOs’ racist civil servants Biro Tata Negara “graduates” who are specially trained at a Malay-sian budget of RM 55 Million per year reject these Indian applicant’s applications even at the counter level.

While the 2010 National Budget is RM 191.5 Billion UMNO allocates this RM 2 Million loans to the 2 Million Indians to develop Indian entrepreneurs @ RM 1.00 per head.

We do not want these 52 year old “peanuts paper politics” of RM 1.00 per Indian but want to be part and “parcel of the RM 191.5” Billion 2010 national 2010 Budget vis a vis the national mainstream development of Malaysia.

P. Uthayakumar

.www.humanrightspartymalaysia

new-scan-20091224143006-00001

There handicapped in one family, house sealed by UMNO govt.


The UMNO Port Dickson Municipal Council has yesterday sealed off the house and locked out this poor Indian family whose father Micheal Susai (53) and two other children are handicapped as they could not afford to pay their housing installments. They have earlier paid for 15th year and have a balance of only a mere RM 8, 000.00 to settle. They have been denied even their very basic Welfare help by UMNO but which boasts of the world’s tallest Twin Tower.


P. Uthayakumar

www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com

the-handicapd

Hindu Temple demolish: PKR & MIC Indian mandore Perak State Speakers’ wayang kulit.

Almost every day especially in the three Tamil dailies there are reports about some hindu temple, crematorium, Tamil schools or Indian settlements that is being demolished, given notice and/or threatened to be demolished or given notice to be relocated to another “dubious piece of land” which in turn would face demolishment anyway in a few years time to come. The latest being the Batu Gajah Hindu Temple (refer The Star 11/12/09 at page N56).

But here both the PKR and MIC Indian Perak State Speaker mandores are playing “wayang kulit”. When DAP, PKR and PAS were in power after March 8th 2008 general elections, this DAP State Speaker Indian mandore could not secure his PAS “Tuan” Menteri Besar to grant Perak State Government land to this Batu Gajah Hindu temple. But within one month of coming to power the DAP, PKR and PAS state government granted land to 110,000 (almost all malay muslims) Rancangan Kampong Tersusun, 102,000 Chinese New Villagers, 3.3 hectres (about 10 acres) for each and every Orang Asli, 30 hectres for the Premier International University and with an option of another 20 additional hectres (The Selangor PKR led State government similarly granted 1,000 hectres for pig farmers in Sepang and an accompanying RM 100 Million grant).

But similarly land was refused to be granted for all Hindu temples, crematoriums and Tamil schools in Perak all of which are for the general public purposes. This could have been done by merely the stroke of the PAS Perak Menteri Besar’s pen. And this DAP Indian mandore Speaker never uttered a word then. Now that he is out of power only now he wants to champion this hindu temple and other Indian causes etc.

Similarly the MIC mandore speaker is now in power but he too cannot get his “Tuan” Menteri Besar to grant Perak State government land to this Batu Gajah hindu temple and all hindu temples, crematoriums and to all the 138 Tamil schools in Perak. Thus the wayang kulit tale of the two Indian DAP and MIC mandore Speakers in Perak.

P. Uthayakumar.

HRP Secretary General

hindu-temple-demolish-article

Elite MCKK not for Indians under Najib’s 1 Malaysia!

mckk-logo

After 52 years of independence, it is about time the UMNO Prime Minister Najib Razak’s One Malaysia elite Malay College Kuala Kangsar opened it’s doors to all Malaysians in particular the Malaysian Indians who have been the most sidelined in the national mainstream development of Malaysia.

After all this merely complies with Article 12 of the Federal Constitution which stipulates that there shall be no religious or racial discrimination in any educational institution which is funded by and the Malay-sian government. Similarly UITM which has 120,000 malay muslim only students should also open up to in particular the Malaysian Indians.

But UMNO plays wayang kulit obsolete politics by reporting in their media that “the perception that racism rules the daily lives of Malaysians” does not exist and is not a reality (refer NST 14/12/09 at page 11). No more after 25th November 2007 though!

P. Utahayakumar.

HRP Secretary General

www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com

14-12-09-elite-mckk-article

M'sia govt under fire

AFP, Dec 24 2009 --
GRAFT 'DEEPLY ENTRENCHED'

MR KHALID Samad, a lawmaker with the opposition Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party, said the latest scandal showed it was 'business as usual' for Mr Najib.

'So many parties must be involved in getting the engines out of the country. It is scary,' he said.

Armed forces chief Azizan said those found guilty of stealing and selling the engines should be charged with treason.

The end buyer of the stolen kit was not immediately clear. A number of countries subject to US arms embargoes, including Iran, Sudan and Venezuela, have F-5 fighters that use the antiquated engines.

The jet first flew in 1963 and Northrop ended production in 1989. Critics are sceptical of promises made by Mr Najib to battle corruption after he came to power in April.

Mr Ramon Navaratnam, former president of Transparency International Malaysia, told AFP that graft was 'deeply entrenched'.

'We need a strong political will to wipe it out. The government must catch some big fish to send a signal that it will not tolerate graft. Otherwise we will be seen as pussy-footing,' he said.

Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International said last month that Malaysia had fallen to 56, from 47 last year, on a league table of 180 countries surveyed around the world and that graft had hit 'alarming' levels.

Malaysia's opposition claims that an illegal commission of RM540 million (S$221.7 million) was paid to a close associate of Mr Najib to help broker the purchase of two French-made submarines. -- PHOTO: REUTERS



KUALA LUMPUR - THE Malaysian government faced a storm of criticism on Wednesday over allegations of official corruption after the theft of two US-made fighter jet engines worth US$29 million.

News reports this week said the stolen Northrop F-5E jet engines had been sold on the black market by military officers to a South American company. They had been taken from a military airbase, apparently last year.

Armed forces chief Azizan Ariffin said the theft was only the 'tip of the iceberg' after a newly completed audit revealed equipment worth millions was also missing, the New Straits Times reported on Tuesday. Police have reportedly arrested four individuals, including the buyer of the engines, the seller and air force personnel who assisted in the theft. Besides the engines, military equipment including parts of the jet fighter were stolen.

'The government should declare it has failed in the fight against corruption. The country is heading in the direction of a failed state like Zimbabwe,' prominent opposition lawmaker Tian Chua told AFP. 'The theft could not have happened without the sanction of top officials.'

Prime Minister Najib Razak has vowed a full and open investigation. But Mr Tian said that under Mr Najib's leadership, national wealth was being plundered and that 'defence expenditure is used for kickbacks to government cronies'.

Malaysia's opposition claims that an illegal commission of RM540 million (S$221.7 million) was paid to a close associate of Mr Najib to help broker the purchase of two French-made submarines. The prime minister has denied there was any wrongdoing in the deal, which was signed in 2002 when he was defence minister. -- AFP

Cops to probe Guan Eng for saying Beng Hock was murdered

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 24 — The police have initiated a sedition investigation against Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for suggesting Teoh Beng Hock was murdered, in a move that will fuel the controversy surrounding the DAP aide's death.

Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said today that Lim (picture), the DAP secretary-general, was not facing immediate arrest, but would have his statement recorded.

Khalid said Lim was being investigated over his speech made at the inaugural Pakatan Rakyat (PR) convention last Saturday in Shah Alam.

Selangor police lodged a police report over Lim's speech on Monday. In his speech, Lim had said that "Teoh Beng Hock had been cruelly murdered. I want to remind those responsible that we will not forget you because there is no forgiveness for you."

Khalid said today that no one should make unsubstantiated remarks. "Lim Guan Eng's remarks can be considered to be an incitement, causing the public to believe that Teoh Beng Hock had been murdered."

He added that the police would also record a statement from Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to help in its probe against Lim.

The coroner's inquest into Teoh's mysterious death was postponed twice this month because pathologists have yet to complete their report on the second autopsy of the political aide’s remains.

The inquest by coroner Azmil Munthapa Abas was originally scheduled to continue last week, but lawyers now only expect it to only be resumed next month.

The 30-year-old Selangor political secretary who was found dead at Plaza Masalam on July 16 after overnight questioning by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which was probing the abuse of state funds by politicians from the ruling Pakatan Rakyat state government.

The findings of the second autopsy carried out at the Sungai Buloh hospital on Nov 22 are highly anticipated as they may confirm suspicions that Teoh was murdered.

Two foreign experts — Dr Peter Vanezis for MACC and Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand for the Selangor government — observed the post-mortem carried out by Sungai Buloh Hospital chief pathologist Dr Shahidan Md Noor. Dr Pornthip, a renowned Thai pathologist, had earlier said Teoh’s death was “80 per cent” homicide based on photographic evidence.

However, her views are contrary to an earlier autopsy carried by local pathologists. The coroner then ordered the exhumation of Teoh’s remains and the second autopsy. - The Malaysian Insider

A year on, and cops hustle in missing engines case

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 24 — More than two years after two F5-E fighter jet engines were stolen and a year after the theft was discovered, police investigators are finally looking for documents to provide clues as to how the equipment could have been taken out of the country.

In a case that has become a major embarrassment for Malaysia and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was Defence Minister at the times the engines were stolen, investigators have lingered over the case since the Royal Malaysian Air Force first lodged a report last August.

But since the thefts were publicly revealed recently, the authorities have come under pressure to explain why the case has taken so long to investigate and to deny claims of a cover up.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said today that investigators are now trying to locate important documents linked to the missing F5-E fighter jet engines.

“We have conducted a thorough investigation and have submitted investigation reports to the Attorney-General so that further action can be taken to charge those involved.

“But the A-G has since then informed the police to conduct more investigations in order to find the important documents which contain details on how the engines could be shipped out of the country in the first place,” said Musa.

Musa’s statement comes just a day after A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had given his assurance that his chambers would go all out to solve the case.

The case of the two missing jet engines first came to light after a daily newspaper had reported that the RMAF had lost two F5-E engines from its Butterworth base between June and

November 2007 and only realised it in May the following year.

The thefts were discovered when Armed Forces Chief Gen Azizan Ariffin, who was then then Air Force Chief, ordered an audit of the force’s assets.

A police report was only lodged last year and it was also reported that a brigadier-general and 40 personnel from the RMAF were sacked then over their alleged involvement.

When asked whether more arrests had been made since the case had been highlighted in the media, Musa stressed that action was constantly being taken.

“If there are more suspects that we find, I will take action. Do not forget that this also involves accusations made on an international level,” said the IGP.

Court forbids Anwar from 'fishing' before trial

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 24 — An accused person facing a criminal charge is not permitted to "fish" for information that belongs to the prosecution before the trial commences, the Court of Appeal ruled.

The court made the ruling on Nov 6 when allowing the prosecution's appeal against a High Court order to release documents and other information sought by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture) under section 51 and 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code to prepare his defence against his sodomy charges.

In his written judgment dated Dec 21 and obtained by the media today, Appeal Court judge Datuk Hasan Lah said the High Court judge had erred when ordering the prosecution to supply the documents and materials to Anwar.

The appeal court construed section 51 strictly and limited its discretionary power with regard to the application for discovery of documents at the pre-trial stage.

"Except as what is provided for under section 51A of the code, the respondent is not entitled to discover or inspect evidence or material in the possession of the prosecution before the commencement of the trial," he said.

On Nov 6, Hasan, justices Datuk Wira Abu Samah Nordin and Datuk Sulaiman Daud unanimously allowed the prosecution's appeal against the High Court order compelling it to supply key documents to Anwar.

The notice of motion filed by Anwar on June 10 sought to compel the prosecution to produce documents and materials, including the recorded witness statements of Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, statements of three doctors from Kuala Lumpur Hospital, chemist's notes, medical reports and DNA samples.

Anwar, who is charged with sodomising Mohd Saiful, 24, his former aide, at a condominium in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur on June 26, last year, contended that the documents were important and imperative for the preparation of his defence.

On July 16, High Court judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah granted Anwar's application. Hasan said the High Court judge erred in ordering the prosecution to supply Anwar documents and materials as it was outside the scope of section 51.

"We were of the view that the object of the respondent's application for CCTV recordings allegedly taken from the guardhouse of the condominium was merely to fish out information. The respondent therefore is not entitled to obtain the original CCTV recordings before the commencement of the trial," he said.

In respect of the High Court order for production of the witnesses' statements, Hasan said that as a matter of public policy it was undesirable for the prosecution to supply the defence with the police statements as there was is a real danger of tampering with witnesses.

On the issue of materials sought by Anwar under section 51A, Hasan said the section referred to documents only, and therefore the court set aside the order for the discovery of the slides and pictures of the DNA testing.

"We agree with the submission of the learned Solicitor-General that the wording of section 51A is very clear in that what the prosecution is required to supply are those documents expressly stipulated therein," he said.

Anwar was represented by counsel Karpal Singh and 11 others, while the prosecution team was led by Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden. The sodomy trial is set for hearing on Jan 25 next year. — Bernama

ISA amendments delayed

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 24 — The amendments to the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 will be tabled and debated at the next sitting of the Dewan Rakyat, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (picture).

He said the ISA (Amendments) Bill could not be tabled at the recently concluded parliamentary sitting as there would not have been enough time to debate on it.

“It is certainly the responsibility of the government to table any amendments to the ISA 1960 in Parliament immediately when all aspects of the Act had been studied and the necessary procedures complied with.

“However, I feel it’s better for the amendments to be tabled and debated straight away at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting,” he said in a statement, here today.

Furthermore, he said, the public discussions on the amendments had been successfully carried out and there were requests from opposition members of parliament that they should also be involved in the subsequent public discussions.

Hishammuddin said that following the public meetings and discussions with the target groups, the Law Review Technical Committee was in the final stages of studying all the views and suggestions presented during the sessions before the amendments were tabled in Parliament.

He said he wanted all the studies to take into account the five main issues that had been identified, namely, the power of the minister; duration of detention; the rights of and treatment given to the detainees; public perception that the enforcement of the act was purely for political purposes; and detention without trial. — Bernama

My reply to Musa and Megat

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said today that more time was needed for the process to extradite fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, who was alleged to be in hiding in London. “It’s no fun running around as a fugitive. You can’t do it forever,” said the Umno disciplinary board member, Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin




SEE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE HERE



SEE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE HERE

Call to expose Raja Petra's sponsors

(The Star) - Those who sponsored fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin’s stay in London should be exposed, said Batu Pahat MP Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

It was more crucial to know those who were supporting the blogger than to initiate extradition exercise against him, he said.

It has been reported that Raja Petra, a bankrupt, was staying in Trinity Court, a posh neighbourhood in Gloucester Bayswater in the heart of London.

“It is of national interest to ascertain the motives of the people who sponsored Raja Petra, as he is a controversial writer who is daring in his attack on the government and making claims that could undermine national security,” he said.

Dr Mohd, who is also the deputy Education Minister, said the police should also ascertain the owner of the posh apartment where Raja Petra was allegedly seeking refuge.

“Such places cannot be simply rented by walk-in tenants,” he said, adding that it was obvious that the sponsors had regarded Raja Petra as an asset as he could be used as a tool to disrupt national security.

“Raja Petra will need to have a huge fund to continue living in luxury in London,” said Dr Puad who also congratulated the police for tracking him down.

Two warrants of arrest were issued against Raja Petra after he failed to turn up in court on April 23 and May 23 for his trials over a seditious article on his website www.malaysiatoday.net which defamed the Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Raja Petra is also accused of defaming Rosmah and two others in a statutory declaration made at the Jalan Duta Court complex on June 18, last year.

The Sessions Court later granted him a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on Nov 11 and 13, as the police had yet to serve the warrant of arrest on him.

IGP wants more time to get RPK

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, The Malaysian Insider

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said today that more time was needed for the process to extradite fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, who was alleged to be in hiding in London.

“We have to wait for the process. It’s not like today I say I will catch him it means tomorrow I can get him,” quipped Musa.

The IGP took the opportunity to reiterate that Raja Petra was a wanted person and that getting him was a high priority for the police.

“We have investigated. He is a wanted man...but we need to wait for the process to take place. It could turn out that they might want to take him to court there (where he is said to be hiding) first.”

Earlier this week, Musa had stated that the government will seek an extradition order for Raja Petra if he is indeed found to be hiding in London.

Utusan Malaysia had carried a report saying that the police would seek more information from Interpol and the British government.

The wanted blogger is rumoured to be seeking refuge at Trinity Court apartment in Gloucester, Bayswater in London, according to Utusan.

The controversial blogger disappeared when he failed to turn up in court for his sedition trial on April 23 because of what he says on his blog was his “self-imposed exile” from Selangor.

However, the police have not been able to track down Raja Petra since and the blogger has been said to be in neighbouring countries including Melbourne, Australia.

Raja Petra has been a thorn in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration, especially after the recent allegations made by P Balasubramaniam.

In an interview on his Malaysia-Today.net news portal, the missing private investigator claimed that Najib’s architect brother was allegedly involved in the private investigator’s disappearance and a claimed payoff for his silence in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.

Raja Petra has used his blog to make unrelenting attacks against Najib and his wife, accusing them of involvement in the murder of Altantuya, the Mongolian lover of the PM’s associate Abdul Razak Baginda.

He is accused of publishing the article “Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell” on his website.

Raja Petra was detained under the Internal Security Act last year but a court subsequently freed him.

The influential blogger also claimed he would not get a fair trial.

Stop running, old mate Najmuddin tells RPK

(The Star) PETALING JAYA: A college mate of Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin has advised him to stop running and hiding in foreign lands.

Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas who has known Raja Petra since their college days in Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) said the controversial editor should “come back and face the music”.

“It’s no fun running around as a fugitive. You can’t do it forever,” said the Umno disciplinary board member.

However, Megat Najmuddin, who is also the Malaysia Institute of Corporate Govern­ance president, added that the authorities should give an assurance and guarantee Raja Petra’s safety so he can come back.

“I think he’s afraid of a repeat of what had happened to Teoh Beng Hock and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“The authority needs to treat him with civility when he comes back,” said Megat Najmuddin yesterday.

Teoh died after being questioned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission while Anwar had repeatedly alleged abuse in the hands of the police.

Megat Najmuddin added that Malaysia was Raja Petra’s country too and he needed to be a responsible citizen.

“We also want to know the truth about all the allegations (that Raja Petra had made),” he said.

Megat Najmuddin stressed that he was sincerely concerned about Raja Petra’s well-being as both go back a long time, to their days as students in the MCKK.

“So I’m talking to him as a big brother. It’s hard to live a life on the run,” he said.

On Monday, it was reported that Raja Petra was currently holed up in an apartment in London. He was previously rumoured to be in Australia.

MALAYSIAN MAVERICK


1. Barry Wain was formerly with the Asian Wall Street Journal and Asia Week.

2. Presently he is with the Singapore think tank, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

3. He knows that if he writes anything against Singapore leaders he would be dragged to the courts, sued and forced to pay huge indemnity. His colleagues have all been found guilty of defamation when they wrote something that was not approved by Singapore leaders. There has never been a libel suit by Singaporean leaders which has been thrown out by the courts. It is safe for journalists to impute all kinds of misbehaviour by Malaysian leaders. There have been many cases where the courts have found in favour of the journalists.

4. In Barry Wain's book I was accused of losing Government money over the purchase of tin being sold by speculators. When the time came for them to deliver the tin, they could not deliver as they had no physical tin. But the London Metal Exchange ruled that the speculators need not honour the contract to sell to us.

5. We lost money but not in billions of Ringgit as alleged.

6. Bank Negara traded foreign currencies.I don't know how much but we lost money. Government stopped the trading by Bank Negara. Again the amount is not as imputed by Barry Wain.

7. The third case is with regards to the losses by Bank Bumiputra in Hong Kong.

8. Altogether I don't think the amount lost added up to RM10 billion even. If we had lost 100 billion Ringgit the Government would be in deep trouble. But although we did have poor growth during certain years, the Government had never failed to meet all financial commitments including the servicing of loans. In fact we had enough money to prepay loans. The projects of course cost a lot of money. But the projects can be seen by the people. Penang Bridge, Twin Towers, KL Tower, KL International Airport, North Port and West Port in Klang, commuter train, LRT and monorail, numerous expressways all over the country, electrification and double tracking, Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, Langkawi development, Proton, Modenas, Silterra chip manufacturing plant, cement plants etc. etc. However, I don't think Barry Wain was referring to these projects when he said I burnt RM100million of Government money.

9. The five years of Tun Abdullah's regime saw unprecedented profits by Petronas due to the high price of oil. In my 22 years Petronas paid to the Government 126 billion Ringgit. Petronas paid to the Government of Tun Abdullah a total of 270 billion Ringgit in five years.

10. How was this huge sum spent? There are only empty corridors everywhere.

11. The public has a right to know how 270 billion Ringgit in five years have been spent. What projects have been financed by it. Why do we have to borrow money from China to build the second Penang Bridge?

12. I know every effort was made to find whether I had misused Government money. Failing to find anything the Abdullah Government set up a Royal Commission and accused me of being influenced by others in the choice of judges.

13. I have a right to clear my name. Tun Abdullah also has a right to clear his name.

14. The Government should cooperate and open all its books. There should be no cover-up. The Government is committed to transparency. It should demonstrate that it keeps its promises.

The madness of 2009

thenutgraph.com

THE year 2009 has been a breathless one of political upheaval. But as we sift through the year's events, we ask, which were the ones that really mattered? Which events indicate if democracy and political maturity are improving? Which tell us things are becoming worse?

The Nut Graph offers its take on 10 highlights of 2009:


Eight
by-elections. The year opened with the Kuala Terengganu by-election, followed by Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai simultaneously. Of these four, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) won all except Batang Ai in Sarawak, proving that East Malaysia still remains the Barisan Nasional (BN)'s "fixed deposit" despite growing discontent about local corruption, marginalisation and abuse of native customary rights.

The PR won predictably in Penanti, thanks partly to a BN boycott, and in Permatang Pasir, thanks to a defective BN candidate. But PAS's slim win in rural Manik Urai was a reminder of how effective the BN's unabashed use development promises could still be. In Bagan Pinang, the BN won through a popular but "tainted" candidate to ensure a win at all cost, even sacrificing its own credibility.


The Perak coup. It took three disgruntled elected representatives switching allegiance for the BN to wrest the state government from the PR. But Perakians had little say in the takeover, which was sanctioned by the palace and upheld by the courts.

The fall of Perak spawned a constitutional crisis and numerous lawsuits on landmark issues. Perak has come to epitomise the worst excesses of raw power, through the use of the civil service, police, and the judiciary, to prevent fresh elections. A poll has shown that 74% of people surveyed want a re-election, a demand the BN has consistently ignored.


The sixth prime minister. Datuk Seri Najib Razak took office on 3 April and was well received by the public in his first 100 days. Notably, those who were satisfied were mostly Malay and Indian Malaysians. The Indian Malaysians were probably soothed by Najib's quick moves to release Hindraf detainees, allow speedy registration of the new Malaysian Makkal Sakti Party, and increase allocations for Tamil schools.


(Source: cidb.gov.my)
On the economy, Najib liberalised aspects of the New Economic Policy, revived plans for a goods and services tax, and ambitiously charted 6% annual growth until 2020. He's made 1Malaysia his administration's tagline, which, despite criticism, is generally accepted as a broad ideal for racial unity.

To boot, Najib toned down the rhetoric of Malay supremacy and told Umno at the party general assembly to be "champions of the rakyat". There are promises of more reform, which include disclosures on political funding. Najib's continuing challenge is to walk the talk, despite his own party.

But civil society has given Najib an "F" for his human rights track record. Freedom of expression, the right to dissent, deaths in custody, detention without trial, and stalled police reform are among the KPIs on democracy he has yet to fulfil.


Teoh Beng Hock and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). Found dead outside the Selangor MACC headquarters, the young DAP aide had been interrogated overnight, despite being a witness, and despite the Police Lock-up Rules. Whether Teoh fell or was pushed off the building is the subject of an ongoing inquest which was stalled by a second autopsy. Demands for a Royal Commission of Inquiry have been rejected until after the findings of the inquest.

Teoh's death demolished the MACC's credibility, months after being formed through a revamp of the Anti-Corruption Agency and an act of Parliament. Following a suit, the High Court ruled that interrogations could only take place during office hours, but this has been overturned by the Court of Appeal. Denying any pressure, MACC chief Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan went into retirement five months early.


The Port Klang Free Zone scandal. Its cost overruns presently amount to RM7.5 billion, involving government loans. With interest, it could rise further to RM12 billion. But who is going to pay? So far, a former engineer, project architect, and two former Port Klang Authority officials have been charged. But what about former cabinet members or ministry officials who flouted Treasury guidelines and misled their colleagues? How far back does this scandal go, and will those in authority then face justice? At the heart of the scandal lies a crisis of public governance. Whether the full can of worms is opened will speak of the government's commitment to fight corruption.


The MCA crisis. President Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat may have used the PKFZ scandal to shore up his credentials as a clean and righteous leader, but was that really the point in the MCA's war of personalities? Once enemies, Ong and his deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek are now team-mates in fending off vice-president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Youth chief Datuk Wee Ka Siong and Wanita head Datuk Paduka Chew Mei Fun. The game now is self-preservation, hence the disagreement over the timing of fresh party elections. It is doubtful if the outcome will have much of an impact on Chinese Malaysians who are largely supportive of the opposition.


PAS-Umno unity talks. It
Kartika
was opposed by PAS's own grassroots but naturally welcomed by Umno. In the end, was the unity talks idea just chest-thumping by president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and deputy Nasharuddin Mat Isa? If not political cooperation, was it to strengthen the position of Islam and Malay nationalism? Or did it reflect the leaders' insecurity over PAS's second-fiddle position in the PR? PAS may have solidified its commitment to the PR through the recent Common Policy Framework, but that is no guarantee the idea of PAS and Umno joining hands will not be suggested again.


Kartika's whipping sentence. Not the first woman to be sentenced to caning under syariah for drinking beer, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno was, however, the first to plead guilty. She made international headlines for Malaysia, and highlighted contradictions between civil and syariah law. But her sentence has yet to be carried out. Kartika's story illustrates Malaysia's continuing tension in straddling both the Islamic and secular forms of governance.


Women and the law. Two little-known laws involving marriage were brought to the fore this year. Indonesian model Manohara Odelia Pinot was issued a perintah kembali taat by the Syariah Court upon application by her Kelantanese prince husband. Her failure to return would result in her being branded "nusyuz" or disloyal and rebellious.


Manohara
In civil law, Section 498 of the Penal Code allows a husband to prosecute another man for enticing his wife. This is what the husband of TV personality Daphne Iking decided to do. The argument for these laws is that they are meant to protect a marriage. But if that is so, why do such laws not cut both ways? Isn't a man nusyuz if he abuses his wife? Doesn't a wife have a part in being "enticed" by another man? Don't wives in an abusive or loveless marriage have the right to make their own decisions?

In contrast, laws to protect women failed to work in the case of Penan women and girls. Despite reports and testimonies of rape and sexual abuse collected by a government taskforce, police said they didn't have enough evidence and could not take further action.

These three examples demonstrate that the laws of Malaysia do not necessarily protect women or ensure their equality.


World rankings. Downgrades for Malaysia were recorded for 2009 in several indices. Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perception Index saw Malaysia slide from 47th to 56th place out of 180 countries. The placing was the lowest ever in recent years of steady decline.

Malaysia was also downgraded from the Tier 2 Watchlist to the Tier 3 blacklist on the Trafficking in Persons 2009 report. It said Malaysia had become a destination, and, to some extent, a source and transit point for human trafficking.

In Reporters Without Borders' Press Freedom Index, Malaysia slipped slightly from 132 to 131 this year, a status-quo verdict indicating a lack of progress. In the Global Gender Gap Report 2009, Malaysian women were worse off in 2009 at 101th place, compared with 96 in 2008, 92 in 2007, and 72 in 2006.

Anwar vs Dr M Libel Suit: Was The Outcome Fixed?

From Malaysia Kini

Did former Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim play a role in deciding the outcome of Anwar Ibrahim’s defamation suit against former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the High Court two years’ ago?

This question was mooted following allegations in an anonymous letter that High Court judicial commissioner Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat had struck out Anwar’s libel suit after meeting Ahmad Fairuz several times before delivering her verdict.

Judges are bound by a strict code of ethics and must be absolutely impartial in their judgments, and not be swayed by pressure from the executive, legislature or by senior members of the judiciary.

If there is even a grain of truth to the allegation, the Malaysian judiciary will be shamed yet again.

Malaysiakini learnt a complaint was made to the Anti Corruption Agency (now Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission) in 2007 soon after Tengku Maimun delivered her verdict on Anwar’s suit against Dr Mahathir.

The allegations in the anonymous letter to ACA was also handed to the judiciary and the authorities, alleging Tengku Maimun had on several occasions discussed the matter with Ahmad Fairuz before she delivered her judgment.

Among the allegations were that Ahmad Fairuz had told Tengku Maimun “how to decide” in the case.

Anwar filed the libel suit against Mahathir following stinging comments at a Suhakam press conference, over the opposition leader’s alleged sexual conduct.

Tengku Maimun, in striking out Anwar’s suit, ruled that Mahathir’s defence was likely to succeed and there was no need for the matter to be heard in a full trial.

Lawyer VK Lingam, who was implicated in the infamous video-tape, judge-fixing scandal, was Mahathir’s counsel in the matter.

Last October, the Court of Appeal had dismissed Anwar’s appeal on the matter based on a technical matter – that Anwar did not file appeal application in Bahasa Malaysia.

Lingam once again played a part in applying to strike out the appeal before Justice Abdul Malik Ishak, who was heading a three-member panel.

Did Lingam write judgment?

Reporters who covered the decision were offered copies of Tengku Maimun’s written judgments by Lingam immediately after the verdict was read out.

This raises the question as to whether the lawyer had played a role in writing the judgment, possibly on behalf of Tengku Maimun.

Previously allegations have been made that Lingam had played a role in writing a judge’s judgment, as was revealed by his former secretary G N Jayanthi at an inquiry into the video tape scandal.

Testifying at a Royal Commission of Inquiry, Jayanthi (left) said she stayed until 3am in Lingam’s office to draft a judgment which was to eventually become a landmark decision.

The decision was read out by High Court judge Mokhtar Sidin in Vincent Tan’s libel suit against MGG Pillai.

Jayanthi had said this happened sometime between November and early December 1994, where Lingam was representing Tan, the tycoon of the Berjaya Group.

“I later discovered the judgment written by Lingam was fully incorporated as the official judgment by the said judge,” the former secretary had told in her testimony.

As many may recall Lingam was alleged to have spoken to Ahmad Fairuz on the other end of the phone in the video tape when the latter was the Chief Judge of Malaya.

Ahmad Fairuz, when testifying at the Royal Commission, said Lingam’s alleged conversation with him was slanderous and a fabrication.

Former UN rapporteur’s report

Former UN special rapporteur on the independence of the judiciary Param Cumaraswamy, following the anonymous letter, wrote to the ACA in September 2007 to lodge a complaint on the possibility of such improper practises.

Param had his letter questioned Tengku Maimun’s confirmation as a full fledged judge a month after delivering the judgment.

A copy of Param’s letter and the anonymous letter, which contained several other allegations of impropriety in the judiciary, were made available to Malaysiakini.

Attempts to contact Tengku Maimun, Ahmad Fairuz and the MACC were unsuccessful.

LKS tweets reply to Dr .M

By Lim Kit Siang,

Am in Tokyo on private visit. Will give blog response 2Mahathir.
12/23/2009 09:49 PM

Mahathir wants Wain’s book 2b released forthwith.Who really believe Mahathir? Or is Najib or Hisham culprit blocking “Maverick M”’s release?
12/23/2009 09:45 PM

Why Mahathir don’t sue me now if I had libelled him calling for RCI into Barry Wain’s RM100 billion allegation in his book Maverick M?
12/23/2009 09:39 PM

Why his suit conditional on outcome of RCI into Barry Wain’s allegation when M will do utmost 2block RCI though claiming support publicly?
12/23/2009 09:35 PM

Why Mahathir reserved right 2sue me 4stmt calling 4RCI into allegation in “Maverick Mahathir” RM100 bil wasted or burned in 22 yrs PMship?
12/23/2009 09:31 PM

A case of he/she and not much help

The Star
Putik Lada by Nizam Bashir

Should Malaysia reconsider its approach and accord more latitude to Muslim transsexuals? A Muslim country like Iran has done so – but such a move here will lead to another host of questions.

WHEN an Islamic hardliner like Zulkifli Noordin says that “we should help” Fatine, it is certainly time to sit up and pay careful attention to what is being said.

No doubt, “help” is being offered, but the offer is only on the table if Fatine is a hermaphrodite or an inter-sexed person that is to say someone born with physically ambiguous sexual characteristics (“hermaphrodite”). In all other instances, Fatine is on “his” own.

It is easy to see where the Kulim MP is coming from. Fatine is a Muslim and as such he is subject to the syariah laws in Malaysia.

If he is a hermaphrodite, no issue arises as Syariah laws recognise hermaphrodites as a natural phenomenon and even enable them to opt for sexual reassignment surgery (“SRS”) – if they elect to do so.

The reverse, however, is true if Fatine is a transsexual – that is to say someone who identifies with a physical sex different from his biological one. He would not be entitled to SRS and may even be subject to prosecution for “cross-dressing” especially when “cross dressing” is coupled with “immoral purposes”. That is how the law stands for Muslim transsexuals in Malaysia.

(The position is not too dissimilar for non-Muslim transsexuals in Malaysia. While there may not be any religious rulings against them, there is still Section 21 of the Minor Offences, 1955 to contend with where a slew of possible offences await the unwary. This can range from “merely” loitering late at night to something graver like prostitution.)

Not so in Iran. There, Muslim transsexuals are not subjected to any form of prosecution so long as the individual undergoes SRS and to facilitate this, the Iranian government even provides financial aid, if aid is required.

Crucially, post-SRS, Iran even recognises the individual’s post-SRS gender and the change is reflected on the birth certificate.

This has been the religious experience in Iran since the mid-1980s courtesy of Maryam Khatoon Molkara’s successful personal appeal to Ayatollah Khomeini for a religious edict in her favour.

Today, if we go by statistics alone, SRS has proven to be very popular for transsexuals in Iran and Iran is now second only to Thailand in terms of SRS carried out worldwide.

The real question however is whether Malaysia should reconsider its approach and accord more latitude to Muslim transsexuals in Malaysia merely because a Muslim country like Iran has done so?

From a religious perspective, the answer to that question appears fraught with difficulties.

The powers that be will not blindly apply Iran’s religious edicts. Iran is after all homelands to the Shias, the Ayatollah a Shia religious cleric and crucially, Malaysia no longer considers Shias to be a legitimate Islamic sect.

There is also the not-so-small matter of dealing with the religious edict (fatwa) issued in 1983 by the Conference of Rulers where matters like SRS and cross-dressing have been prohibited.

Nevertheless, from a legal perspective, proponents of the question would likely point out that transsexuals must be accorded the right to live as full a life without interference from the State so long as no harm is occasioned to others.

However, let’s not get too caught up in the intricacies of both arguments – religious or legal – and let’s merely look at the practical repercussions that may arise from changing Malaysia’s present stance on transsexuals.

Obviously, it means that transsexuals – Muslims or otherwise – would be more assured of their place in society.

It also means that society as whole would need to grapple with finding answers to the following questions:

1. Can a post-op transsexual get married to someone of his/her previously identified gender?

2. Can a pre-op or post-op transsexual adopt a child?

3. How should religious rites be carried out for deceased Muslim transsexuals? Should it be carried out by male religious clerics or women? Would you answer change post-op?

4. Which toilet should a pre-op transsexual go to? Male or female? Would your answer change post-op?

5. Can a male police officer conduct a body search of a pre-op transsexual male or can the individual insist on a female police officer? Can the female police officer decline conducting the body search?

6. Should a transsexual be permitted to reflect his or her post-SRS identities on his or her birth certificate or identification cards? If your answer was no, would your answer change if this was your child?

As can be imagined, those questions are certainly not easy ones to answer. Not if we are truly being genuine and sincere in trying to address them.

However, in the interim, as we continue to grapple with the question, let’s not engage in “shameful” weasel words (i.e. words which imply that something meaningful has been said) which only serves to mislead onlookers or readers into thinking that an unqualified offer has been made to “help” Fatine to deal with his problems.

All of which are very real and very tangible as Fatine, as is obvious from the original report in the Sun (Britain) on Nov 27, is a transsexual and promised the proverbial rod when he comes back home to Malaysia.

> The writer is a young lawyer. Putik Lada, or pepper buds in Malay, captures the spirit and intention of this column – a platform for young lawyers to articulate their views and aspirations about the law, justice and a civil society. For more information about the young lawyers, visit www.malaysianbar.org.my/nylc.

The sense of responsibility

My Sinchew

I can still remember clearly the first time I work. My boss told me: you can't be so lazy. You must have the sense of responsibility. And now, I would like to dedicate the remarks to our ministers, Members of the Parliament, civil servants and all those whose work is related to the people's interests. I hope that they are having the sense of responsibility to reduce human errors so that everything will go smoothly in the coming year.

There are so much of careless mistakes in various fields and it is in fact closely related to the declining sense of responsibility. The roof of a completed stadium and an incomplete bus station collapsed. A fighter jet engine has been stolen and the precious evidence to be presented in court has also disappeared. Who is going to bear the responsibility after the mistakes are made? Who is going to be punished? They should put words into actions in order to enhance discipline of the public domain.

Other examples will show how serious the impact of the declining sense of responsibility is. The 2010 Budget was passed by a narrow 66-63 votes at the third reading in the Dewan Rakyat after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was forced to rush back to the Parliament to cast his vote from the Chong Hwa Independent School’s 95th anniversary celebrations. A total of 70 BN MPs were absent that night, including 18 ministers and 12 deputy ministers.

It is not something new for MPs to be absent from Dewan Rakyat sittings. According to press reports, even in normal time, the number of MPs sitting in the hall is less than the quorum of 26. Our MPs are either chat at the cafeteria and corridors or just slip out of the hall. It is like a cat that does not catch mouse, MPs who are absent from Dewan Rakyat sittings have forgotten about their duties.

A MPs who was absent that night gave a “superb” reason: I'm a vegetarian. As the cafeteria of the Parliament does not provide any vegetarian food, I usually eat outside. As they already knew that we had to vote for the Budget that night, they should got the dinner ready for the lengthy sitting, they were not three-year-old kids after all.

Kinabatangan MP, who was busy preparing to marry a second wife, was also absent. The news of his marriage had almost grabbed more attention than the narrowly passed Budget. MPs do not carry out their legislative and oversight responsibilities but always come out with claptrap and obscene words to deliberately get free propaganda. They have vulgarised the Parliamentary Hall.

How difficult it is for MPs to attend Dewan Rakyat sittings? Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Maznah Mazlan was informed of her father's death before the Dewan Rakyat session started, but she remained in the Dewan Negara for two hours to answer questions before rushing back to Cameron Highlands. Maznah was so responsible, why can't other people do so?

It is also a shame to mention the sense of responsibility of our ministers. Many ministers are always absent by saying that they are busy with official duties. Instead, they spend the time in handling party matters and crisis. They have completely neglected the Parliament.

During the open day of the government's transformation, the minister responsible could not be seen. He has failed to achieve the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of being accountable to the people.

There are endless to say when we discuss on the sense of responsibility of our officials. It is as well a shame for the country. (By LIM SUE GOAN/ Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/ Sin Chew Daily)

Banggarma sues to declare conversion unlawful

The Sun
Himanshu Bhatt

GEORGE TOWN (Dec 23, 2009) : S. Banggarma, 27, who claims to have been illegally converted to Islam while at a government welfare home about 20 years ago, today took legal action to declare her conversion unlawful.

Banggarma, whose identity card carries the name Siti Hasnah Vangarama binti Abdullah, is seeking a court declaration that the conversion process was unlawful as she was then a child, and that the conversion certificate is "ineffective, null and void ab initio".

In a civil suit filed at the Penang High Court today, she is also seeking to have the name on her IC changed to her Hindu one, and for the designation 'Islam' to be deleted from the card.

Named as defendants in her suit were former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his capacity as president of the Muslim Welfare Organisation Malaysia (Perkim), then Perkim official Raimi Abdullah, the Penang Islamic Council (MAIPP) and the Penang City Kadi (Islamic judge).

The suit does not seek any monetary compensation.

Banggarma who was accompanied by her husband, fisherman S. Sockalingam, 31, and their two children S. Kanagaraj, 8, and S. Hisyanthini, 2, and some supporters, later performed a Hindu ritual of smashing a coconut in front of the court house, to invoke blessings.

In her affidavit, Banggarma said she was taken by Raimi and Muballigh officials from the MAIPP, to the Kadi to be converted into a Muslim on Dec 28, 1989 where she was then instructed by the Kadi to take the affirmation of faith, the 'Kalimah Syahadah’ in their presence.

She stressed that she did not and could not have, at that time, understood the contents and meaning of the words in the Declaration to Convert into Islam certificate which she was asked to recite, utter and execute.

"As a child of merely seven years of age, I did not have any choice except to obey the directions given by the defendants to take the affirmation of oath," she said.

She said she was ignorant that her conversion process was defective and bad in law, and that she could legally challenge it, until she had been advised about it by her solicitor.

"Banggarma is seeking the court’s assistance to solve her predicament of having been unlawfully converted into Islam when she was seven years old, so that she may be able to live her life and practise her Hindu faith freely and openly," said her lawyer Gooi Hsiao Leung in a statement.

Gooi said the decision was made after the MAIPP had been unhelpful when approached.

"Even more worrying is that the fact that after Banggarma’s case was highlighted, the police went to Banggarma’s home looking for her without giving any reasons whatsoever," he added.

"We are concerned about Banggarma’s safety and we call upon the authorities to show restraint and not to harass our client, pending this legal action," he added.

This Christmas, give them hope...

If you are wondering how you can make the year-end extra meaningful, why not think of the Monfort Youth Centre in Malacca.


The students of the Monfort Youth Centre


Help the Centre give hope to the young: An artist’s impression of the proposed double-storey building – Images courtesy of Monfort Youth Centre

First of all, I want to say thank you for your support this year with this blog. Some of the discussions and debates we have had here have been priceless. We have witnessed many things together in the struggle for justice and freedom – sometimes “live” as news breaks. At other times, we have been aghast at the environmental and human price some of us have paid for unsustainable development. And if we start to talk about corruption, oppression and exploitation, we could be here all day…

The year end is also a time for us to reflect on our lives, our priorities and what our role is in the larger scheme of things. Jesus himself was born in poverty. He constantly identified with the poor and those whom society often shunned. He empowered them and gave them hope.

From what I hear, the Gabrielite Brothers (a religious order within the Catholic Church) have been doing some excellent work in giving hope to the young at the Monfort Youth Centre. Over the years, they have provided all-round human development and training in skills such as motor mechanics for disadvantaged teenagers. Youths who complete courses at this residential-care centre are usually snapped up by prospective employers; not only are the students given quality training, they also display an impressive sense of personal responsibility.

The Brothers are now expanding the centre with a new double-storey building. The ground-floor will have four classrooms for language classes and two rooms for personal counselling. The upper floor will house a multimedia lab and a workshop for the computer maintenance department. Unfortunately, public donations are down by 20-30 per cent this year because of the economic slowdown. The Brothers have raised enough money to complete the building but they don’t have enough funds to equip the departments and the classrooms with computers and furniture.

Help them to give hope to the young. You could write out a cheque payable to Montfort Youth Centre and mail it to Monfort Youth Centre, Kg. Baru, Air Salak, 75250 Melaka, Malaysia.

Or just give them a call during office hours (8.30am to 5.30pm), Monday to Friday (except public holidays), (Tel: 06-3510114 /115 Fax: 06-3510200).

Wishing you peace, love, justice, happiness and everything good now and in the coming year.