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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Death toll rises in Karachi suicide attack

Security officials inspect the blast site in Karachi.
Security officials inspect the blast site in Karachi

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The death toll from the suicide bombing in Pakistan's financial capital, Karachi, rose to 40, authorities said Tuesday.

The blast on Monday targeted a Shiite procession on M.A. Jinnah Road.

The victims were among thousands of devotees commemorating Ashura, a major religious observance for the Shiites, one of two main Muslim denominations.

Ashura marks the death anniversary of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed. Hussein, who was killed in battle in Karbala in 680 A.D., is regarded as a martyr -- and the battle is one of the events that helped create the schism between Sunnis and Shiites, the two main Muslim religious movements.

Religious mourning during Ashura is characterized by people chanting, beating their breasts in penance, cutting themselves with daggers or swords and whipping themselves in synchronized moves.

Shias are a minority in Pakistan.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. But the government is in the midst of an intense army offensive to rout militants from their haven along the country's border with Afghanistan. In retaliations, the militants have launched a series of deadly attacks in Pakistan.

MACC says PI Bala main witness in Altantuya mystery

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

MACC insists Bala write in formally before they investigate. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today reiterated that P. Balasubramaniam must make a formal statement before any investigation can proceed on the private investigator’s allegations surrounding the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

The missing private investigator had sent an email of his allegations to the MACC after making public claims that linked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his family to events after the 2006 murder, including being paid off to retract a sworn statement, but the anti-graft agency has yet to take action.

“We want Bala to come forward to give his statement. He is our main witness,” said MACC director of investigations, Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdull, in a short text message to The Malaysian Insider.

Mohd Shukri’s response was to claims by Bala’s lawyer, Americk Sidhu, that the MACC wanted the missing private investigator to formally write about his claims, despite a series of video interviews available at the Malaysia-Today news portal and YouTube.

He explained that they wanted to question the former special branch officer first before they question others implicated by him.

“His statement is very important before we proceed in questioning other persons,” said Mohd Shukri, who did not respond when asked if this also meant there would be no investigations if Bala did not come forward.

In the series of video interviews, Bala made sensational allegations that Najib knew Altantuya, and that his architect brother Nazim together with a businessman linked to the prime minister’s wife made him retract a statutory declaration on the case.

Bala identified the carpet businessman as Deepak Jaikishan, whom he claims is a close associate of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Two elite policemen are appealing death sentences for the murder of the Mongolian model, whose death in 2006 is still shrouded in mystery. A third accused, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, a close friend of the prime minister, was acquitted.

Najib has denied ever knowing Altantuya but her murder continues to provide ammunition used by the opposition against him.

Struggle for ethnic unity in Malaya after WWII (Pt 2)

Written by Ariffin Omar

The Federation of Malaya Agreement of 1948 was just a political arrangement leading to the birth of a political entity. It did not create a nation state nor did it bring about unity amongst the various communities. In 1948, Malay special privileges were upheld; citizenship was made more restrictive for the Chinese. Sovereignty was not in the hands of the Malays while a Federal Council was established and its members were nominated by the British.

At the same time that Malays saw Persekutuan Tanah Melayu as a Malay country exclusive to them, the non-Malays believed it to be embracing all the ethnic communities. These contradictory perceptions only testified to the deviousness of the British, in collusion with the Malay elite, who thwarted a viable alternative – the Peoples’ Constitution – that would have laid a solid foundation for inter-ethnic harmony.

Persekutuan Tanah Melayu bestowed citizenship but not nationality.

Such a tragic state of affairs did not go unchallenged. There were Malays and non-Malays who saw through the deviousness of the new political agreement concocted by the British and the conservative Malay elite and they mounted an opposition to the Federation of Malaya Agreement. Malays from Parti Kebangsaan Melayu led by Burhanuddin Al-Helmi and Ishak Haji Muhammad, Angkatan Pemuda Insaf led by Ahmad Boestamam, and Angkatan Wanita Sedar banded together to form Pusat Tenaga Rakyat to oppose the Federation. The non-Malays especially the Chinese had set up the All Malaya Council for Joint Action (AMCJA) led by Tan Cheng Lock. Together they formed the Putera-AMCJA coalition comprising Malays and non-Malays.

These Malays and non-Malays felt that the time had come to work towards building a united nation whereby everyone would have a stake in the country and they campaigned vigorously to put their views across. The aims and objectives of the Putera-AMCJA can best be described as the first step in the history of this country to work towards a serious attempt to promote a truly all embracing national consciousness that would embrace both Malays and non-Malays in the Malay peninsular.

The seriousness of its attempts can be seen in the alternative proposed by the Putera-AMCJA that the Federation of Malaya Agreement be replaced by the The Peoples’ Constitutional Proposals. These advanced the idea of a single nationality for all citizens who had to forego other nationalities and sever all other political connections and pledge total loyalty and allegiance to the new nation.1 This Constitution guarantees fundamental liberties and equality before the law.

The Putera-AMCA also suggested that Singapore must be included in the new nation-state to be established. What is remarkable about the Putera-AMCJA sponsored Peoples’ Constitution was that the nationality proposed was to be termed ‘Melayu’. This was an attempt to stress the nation’s links with its historical past.2 Even more significant was that the Melayu nationality that was being proposed did not carry any religious connotations. What has not been noted by historians and political scientists is the significance of the compromises arrived at in accepting Melayu as a nationality.

Definition of term ‘Melayu’

The non-Malays in the AMCJA accepted the arguments put forward by the Malays in Putera that:

“The term ‘Malayan’ to designate the national status was completely unacceptable to the Malays. They [the Malay delegates] felt that that the term ‘Malayan’ had always been used in contradistinction to the word ‘Malay’ to denote the non-indigenous inhabitants of the country, and that the Malays had therefore become accustomed to regarding themselves as excluded from the category of ‘Malayans.’ The use of the term ‘Malayan’ to designate the common national status would therefore involve abandonment by the Malays, as the indigenous people of the country, of their proper title, and the acceptance by them of a title which, in its accepted sense, included many who do not regard Malaya as their real home and as the object of their loyalty.” 3

For the non-Malays to accept Melayu as a nationality was indeed a big concession because they were so used to seeing themselves as Malayan and they expected the Malays to accept this and become Malayan too. The Malay delegates too made big concessions. In proposing that Melayu be accepted as the nationality, they were aware that were swimming against the tide of mainstream Malay opinion at that point in time. They were also aware that if this proposal was accepted, the term Melayu would embrace Chinese, Indians and others who need not be Muslims or observe Malay customs or even speak Malay as their mother tongue.

Beyond any doubt, the compromises reached between the Malays and non-Malays were a watershed.

The Malay delegates also accepted the principle that there should be equal rights for all with no distinctions between indigenous and non-indigenous citizens.4 The non-Malay delegates accepted that Malay would be the official language while the Malay delegates accepted that other languages may also be used for those not yet proficient in Malay.

Sovereignty of the people

In short, we need to be aware that in the history of our nation, there was an attempt to get the various ethnic communities in Malaya to work together in building a true nation state where all could have a common purpose and aim as well as loyalty. Indeed the superiority of the Peoples’ Constitution can be seen in its demand that sovereignty should reside in the people. The Peoples’ Constitution demanded a fully-elected federal legislative assembly and its framers argued that only a government elected by and responsible to the people would be able to look into the welfare of the people. In addition there would be a Prime Minister elected by the assembly.

The Peoples’ Constitution also deemed it unnecessary that the British High Commissioner should have any veto powers. He would merely be a representative of the British government and give his assent to bills passed by the elected assembly.

Even more significant is that the Peoples’ Constitution proposed that there should be a Council of Races consisting of two members each from the Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian, Ceylonese, Aborigine, Arab, European, Jewish and other communities. This council would vet every bill passed by the Assembly to check whether it was discriminatory or not. If it were discriminatory, the particular bill would be returned to the assembly.

The council would also have the function of recommending to the assembly any measure which it considers necessary for the advancement or protection of any section of the people.5 Citizens would have the right to petition the council on matters within its mandated portfolio. Each state would have an elected state assembly with full legislative and executive authority. There would also be an executive council in each state headed by a Menteri Besar in the case of the Malay states and a parallel position for each of the states of Penang, Malacca and Singapore.

Thus we see that in comparison to the Federation of Malaya Agreement that was accepted by the British, the traditional rulers and the Umno elite, the Peoples’ Constitution was indeed far ahead of its time and by right should have been supported as a viable Constitution that would have laid a solid foundation for inter-ethnic harmony. Despite the good intentions of those Malay and non-Malay leaders of the Putera-AMCJA coalition, their attempt to get the Peoples’ Constitution accepted was not successful.

At that point in time, ethnic animosities and mistrust were the dominant features of inter-ethnic relations. Malays were unwilling to trust the non-Malays and the non-Malays were not confident that the Malays will be able to act fairly towards them. Malays and non-Malays both saw the British as impartial administrators who be counted upon to act fairly in any inter-ethnic misunderstanding even though there was ample evidence to show that this was simply not the case.

British protecting self-interest

The British in particular poured scorn on the Peoples’ Constitution.

W. H. Linehan, the noted academic and member of the executive committee established to examine constitutional reforms, condemned the Peoples’ Constitution proposing Melayu as a nationality as bogus in nature. He cited Chen Thung Hua, a ‘representative’ of the Perak People’s Association, who in response to the citizenship proposals of the Malayan Union voiced his opinion that the overseas Chinese preferred dual citizenship.

Similarly, Linehan endorsed the Malay Nationalist Party’s view that “if a Malay by becoming a Malayan Union citizen should lose his Malay nationality, the Party were opposed to the whole Malayan Union scheme.” According to Linehan, such views suggest the futility of having a nationality.6 Furthermore the British claimed that Malays would not acquiesce in non-Malays being termed Melayu as a nationality and that non-Malays themselves would not agree to have themselves designated as Melayu.7

Continuing with his scathing remarks, Linehan stated that the citizenship proposals of the Putera-AMCJA Constitution – that provides that any person born in Malaya automatically becomes a citizen and that any such person of the age of 18 or more could make a sworn declaration before a magistrate either that he did not desire citizenship whereupon he would not be a citizen or that he desired citizenship whereupon he become would a citizen – was farcical.8

According to Linehan, the citizenship proposals woul allow blackmailers, gang robbers, murderers and other criminals (who were mainly non-Malays) to become citizens who could not therefore be deprived of their citizenship or suffer banishment.9 There was not a single reference to the proposals put forward in the Peoples’ Constitution that sovereignty should reside in the people through elected federal and state assemblies.

The issue of fundamental liberties which are so important in a nation-state was ignored completely by the British in their criticism of the Putera-AMCJA Constitution. These issues were ignored because the British could not oppose the demand for sovereignty of the people and the observance of fundamental liberties. Thus silence was the best weapon to use against the Putera-AMCJA Constitution on these issues. The Council of Races, which would have been vital in maintaining peace and harmony among the various ethnic groups in a fledgling nation state was ridiculed by the British as something that would undermine the Malay position.10

It was clear that the British were rattled by the sophistication and logic of the Peoples’ Constitution of Putera-AMCJA and were hard pressed to reply to it through an open intellectual debate. Thus the Peoples’ Constitution was not thoroughly discussed because the powers that be that controlled the mass media and had political power at their disposal made sure that this radical Constitution would never be explained rationally to the various communities in order to gauge whether it would be acceptable to all.

At the same time it must be realized that the British had just gone through the arduous process of negotiating with the traditional rulers and the Malay elite within Umno and the parties concerned had accepted the Federation of Malaya Agreement as the replacement for the Malayan Union and it was unlikely that the British would open negotiations all over again with groups determined to undermine British political supremacy that was guaranteed in the Federation of Malaya Agreement.

The AMCJA-Putera coalition was also under police surveillance and every attempt was made by the British to reduce its influence and to weaken it. Several organizations classified as left-wing were proscribed and their leaders arrested and detained. Boestamam himself was arrested and put on trial for sedition. The Angkatan Pemuda Insaf was proscribed by Gent.

Burhanuddin Al-Helmi and Ishak Haji Muhammad were also detained by the British. It was clear that the Putera-AMCJA attempt to forge a working partnership would be opposed not just by the British but also by Umno which saw its attempt to make Melayu a nationality a serious threat to a party which thrived on the politics of ethnicity.

Umno campaigned vigorously against the Constitution that was drafted by the Putera-AMCJA using the arguments that it would undermine Malay interests. The idea of Melayu as nationality was a serious threat to Umno’s existence if it gained widespread support among the Malays. For Onn Jaafar who led Umno at that point in time, the only way to destroy that idea was to see it as a threat to the Malays. Onn attacked the idea of Melayu as a nationality mercilessly. He was quoted as having said that

“one matter which has been brought up by them from the beginning has involved an attempt to destroy the name Melayu, that is change the term Melayu and every custom of the Melayu… We have been renowned for hundreds of years as Melayu. In the past, every person wanted to become Melayu (masuk Melayu), but now we are asked to enroll or be enrolled as Melayu.” 11

Malay elite wanted non-Malays excluded

It is clear that Onn wanted the term Melayu to be exclusive. It was totally unacceptable that this term should be used to denote a nationality. To the Malay elite who were leading Umno at that point in time, the boundaries of the Malay community were impenetrable; non-Malays were excluded in no uncertain terms. But the door was open for the non-Malays to become Melayu (masuk Melayu) but only on the established terms of religious as well as cultural conversion.

For the non-Malays, acceptance on such terms was seen as too high a price to pay to gain acceptance by the Malay elite. Since attempts to promote Melayu as a nationality was seen and presented as a threat to the existence of the Malay community at a time when that community felt itself under siege, this noble endeavour to promote unity and integration in a fledgling nation-state was doomed to failure. While it is all too easy to apportion blame to certain individuals for the failure in laying the foundations of a truly integrated nation state, it must be realized that many factors were way beyond the control of these individuals and they themselves were victims of the situation which they could not alter.

Onn Jaafar himself realized the futility of a narrow-minded ethnic approach to nationalism and the obstacles it posed in demanding Merdeka from the British who used the reasoning that unless there was unity among the various ethnic communities the prospect for Merdeka was rather dim.

In 1951 Dato Onn made the brave proposal that Umno should be transformed into a Malayan nationalist movement and that it should be known as the United Malayan National Organization and it should demand independence from the British. But his proposal was rejected by Umno and tragically he himself was denounced as having committed derhaka (treason) to the bangsa Melayu.12 For Onn it was a bitter irony because after having fought so hard to preserve the bangsa Melayu, he was now accused of having betrayed his own people and had to leave Umno in disgrace.

His successor Tunku Abdul Rahman gauged the mood of the Malays well. In his speech after having been chosen to succeed Onn, he argued that

“With regard to suggestions from some of our people that independence should be given to ‘Malayan’, the question is who are these ‘Malayans’? This country was received from the Malays, therefore it should be given back to the Malays.” 13

According to the Tunku, Merdeka would be obtained for the bangsa Melayu. However, like Onn, he too would see the folly of such a pronouncement when it became obvious that independence would be a pipe dream unless there was unity among the various ethnic groups.

Unlike Onn he was shrewd enough to enter into a bargain with the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and later on with the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) whereby the ethnic identities of the political parties would be maintained but they would cooperate together in order to acquire a common objective i.e. Merdeka.

This Faustian bargain is still the basis on which mainstream political competition is carried out today. But as the pre-Independence political history indicates, the struggle for an alternative politics remains very much alive.

Part 1 appeared yesterday.

Ariffin S.M. Omar is assoc. prof. in International Studies at UUM. He is a founding member and former president of Aliran. He has published Bangsa Melayu: Malay Concepts of Democracy and Community 1945-50 (Oxford University Press, 1993) and edited a volume on The Bumiputra Policy: Dynamics and Dilemmas (USM Press, 2005). His essay ‘The struggle for ethnic unity in Malaya after the Second World War’ is published in the book Multiethnic Malaysia — Past Present and Future (2009).

Official: Dad warned U.S. of son but 'no suggestion' of terrorist act

An official denies that Umaru AbdulMutallab said his son might be on a suicide mission.
An official denies that Umaru AbdulMutallab said his son might be on a suicide mission.

Washington (CNN) -- When the father of suspected terrorist Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab visited the U.S. embassy in Nigeria in November, he told officials he believed his son was under the influence of religious extremists and had traveled from London, England, to Yemen, a senior administration official said Monday.

Revealing new details, the official also denied the father told officials his son might be on a suicide mission:

"There was no suggestion he was about to carry out a terrorist act," the official said.

A suspect in the foiled Christmas Day terror attack, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, is being held for allegedly trying to blow up a flight carrying 300 passengers that was about to land in the United States.

This official says the father, Umaru AbdulMutallab, came to the embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, on November 19.

"He was concerned about his son's safety and whereabouts and wondered if the U.S. government could help," the official said. "The father said he was in Yemen," this official said. "His son had gone from London to Yemen."

The official noted that this information was based on what the father said but has not been corroborated.

The next day, November 20, the U.S. embassy in Abuja sent what is called a "Visas Viper cable" to the State Department detailing the father's concerns, according to an official account by State Department spokesman Ian Kelley.

That information was passed on to the National Counter-Terrorism Center in Washington, which ruled that the information in the cable was "insufficient for this interagency review process to make a determination that this individual's visa should be revoked."

The secretary of state can unilaterally revoke a visa but usually does that for foreign policy and diplomatic, not national security, reasons, Kelley said.

"This has to be done in consultation with other agencies," Kelley said.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelley provided further details Monday.

AbdulMutallab was studying in London, Kelly said. He applied for a multiple-entry U.S. visa on June 12, 2008, and received it June 16, 2008.

The visa was a standard multiple-entry tourist visa good for two years.

"At the time, there was nothing in his application, nor in any data base at the time, that would warrant that he should not receive a visa. He was a student at a reputable school, he had plenty of financial resources. ... There was no derogatory information about him last year that would have indicated that he should not get a visa," Kelley said.

The suspect traveled previously to the U.S. on another visa, Kelley said.

Kelley said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will ask the department's consular division to review all processes connected with issuing visas.

Poor take-up for 1 Malaysia fund blamed on wary investors

By Lee Wei Lian - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — The undersubscription of the RM10 billion government-backed Amanah Saham 1Malaysia unit trust fund is likely due to the sheer volume of units available and wariness among some investors, according to analysts.

Only about a third of the fund has been subscribed so far and Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), which manages the fund, has said that it will extend the subscription deadline for a third time since its launch in July.

This is in sharp contrast to PNB’s earlier funds such as Amanah Saham Malaysia and Amanah Saham Wawasan 2020, whose new units sold out quickly this year due to their track record of providing between six and eight per cent in returns.

Amanah Saham 1 Malaysia (AS1M) is PNB’s largest ever fund offering and getting the investing public to absorb all ten billion units would be more difficult than earlier funds, said market analysts canvassed by The Malaysian Insider.

Amanah Saham Malaysia, for example, was launched in 2000 with fewer than two billion units.

Investments in AS1M are also not capital guaranteed which affects its appeal.

Added to this is a perception among many investors that the size of the RM10 billion fund and its launch in the middle of the economic slowdown meant that the government is facing financial difficulties.

“The timing of the launch made some people feel that the government had no money,” one analyst told The Malaysian Insider.

The analyst added that other investors might have held back as they were wary over what investments would be made with the AS1M fund because the information would only be disclosed in the annual report.

According to a recent news report, 85 per cent of the Chinese quota and 21 per cent of the Indian quota has been taken up.

As 30 per cent of AS1M is set aside for Chinese investors and 15 per cent for Indian investors, and with only about 3 billion of the 10 billion available units taken up, this means an overwhelming portion of the unsubscribed units are those reserved for bumiputeras.

The low take up among bumiputeras could be due to a lack of familiarity with AS1M as it has to compete with other established PNB funds for attention.

One Malay investor in previous PNB funds such as Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) and Amanah Saham Didik told The Malaysian Insider that there is some sceptism over AS1M.

“Funds such as ASB have been around a long time and people know what to expect,” she said. “People have other options. AS1M will have to differentiate itself.”

PNB has said it will have road shows nationwide to promote the AS1M starting with Perak and Sarawak in January followed by Sabah, Terengganu, Pahang and Melaka.

Khir Toyo: Umno will wait till elections to take Selangor

By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider

Khir says it’s easier for Umno to wait for elections to regain Selangor. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — Selangor opposition leader Datuk Seri Mohd Khir Toyo has dismissed allegations that the state Umno machinery was behind Sunday’s public demonstration demanding PAS’ withdrawal from Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

“There is no reason for Umno to do that. Pakatan is already in self-destruct mode, Umno has no interest in the gathering,” Khir told The Malaysian Insider.

“They should just check the pictures [to see] whether the protesters were really PAS members,” he added.

Dr Khir claimed that the protest was a PAS publicity stunt, to remind other PR partners of the party’s position, as its leaders have been unable to speak up.

On whether the protest was part of an attempt to topple the PR-led Selangor government via defections, Khir said Umno prefers to take over the state in the next general elections.

PR now controls 35 seats in the 56-member Selangor assembly, while Barisan Nasional (BN) has 21 seats including independent Badrul Hisham Abdullah, who quit PKR in October to be in the opposition.

“There has been too many blunders made by the state government, and the people can already see the difference between the two administrations, it is easier for us to wait until the next general elections” said Khir.

“Like in Terengganu, after ruling the state for one term, PAS was almost wiped out because the people already have the experience of being under a different government,” he added.

On Sunday some 20 protesters claiming to be the Islamist party’s supporters gathered outside its Selangor headquarters.

The group asked PAS to end its partnership with PKR and DAP, adding that the party has become a puppet of PR.

PAS denied any of its own members were involved, and its information chief Idris Ahmad accused Umno of being desperate in using the party’s name to protest.

“PAS’ stand on its relationship with Pakatan Rakyat is very clear and we are unhappy with the use of the party’s name to cause confusion,” said Idris in a statement.

An open reply to Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah – Art Harun

The Malaysian Insider

DEC 28 – Dear Doctor, I refer to your article “Accused as criminals better than being evil.”

Before I join issue with you on several matters in your article, allow me to state some disclaimers. This is to prevent me from being labelled anti this and that or pro this and that.

First and foremost, I am just an ordinary citizen of this country of ours who is just concerned with the well being of our country. Although I have my own political views, I am not affiliated to nor am I associated with any political party at all. I am a Malay and a Muslim. I am not anti-Malay or anti-Islam. Nor am I pro non-Malays or non-Muslims.

Now that I have made that clear, I shall address some of the issues raised.

Firstly, the “social contract”. These two words have become a cliche in Malaysia. Whenever somebody or some parties raise some sensitive issues which the Government does not wish to address, they will be referred to the “social contract”. Soon, I suppose when a thief snatches a handbag from a poor woman, he will shout to the woman, “social contract”!

What is the “social contract”? I will not repeat what it is as I have written about it here. The first thing to note about it is that any social contract is not cast in stone. It may change as the society and state change and the need of the two parties to the contract evolve with time. What was deemed good 52 years ago may not be good anymore now, and vice versa.

If we take our Federal Constitution as an example, there have been hundreds of amendments made to it. That is the nature of it. It is a breathing and living contract which changes or ought to change according to the time.

Being so, questioning the provisions of the social contact is not a blasphemous act. Nor is it an act of treason. It is in fact a necessity for our society and our state to evolve into a progressive one. With all due respect, for you to label a certain party as “ultra kiasu” just because it apparently questions - if at all they did that - the “social contract” is unbefitting of your stature as a respectable ulamak and a well known senior lecturer. It is like labeling your own students “kiasu” for asking too many questions.

Why can’t we be positive about things? Are we so used to be told what to do, what to hear and what to say all these while that we have forgotten to engage with each other properly without any ill feeling? If an ulamak and academician like yourself can’t engage properly and without emotion, I shudder to think of the prospect of this nation of ours. Have we all closed our heart and soul to any opposite views?

The second thing to note about the social contract is the fact that this contract, like any other contract, has two parties to it. The first party is the people. The second party is the State (or the government). It runs two ways. The people say “I give you, the government, some of my rights in exchange of you giving me certain benefits”. So, the obligations exist on both side of the fence. Not only one.

That means both side must conform to the social contract. Both sides have their own respective obligations to perform. Nowadays, we talk as if only the people are supposed to perform the social contract. We talk as if the government does not have any obligation to perform under the social contract. That is an obvious misconception.

The thing is this. The government is powerful because it holds the power. If the people do not perform the social contract, the government would come with all its might and prosecute him or her.

I ask you, what can the people do if the government does not perform its side of the bargain? Do you expect the people to keep quiet?

Thirdly, it is to be noted that, as a living document, the terms of the social contract may be renegotiated from time to time. Among others, John Locke posits as such. Locke even posits the rights of rebellion in the event the social contracts lead to tyranny.

Of course I am not advocating a rebellion here. I am stating that the people have every right to question about the social contract and to scrutinise the performance of its terms by the government. And the people have every right – in fact it is arguable that it is the people’s duty – to prevent a tyranny or an act of tyranny.

Being so, I am sure it is not such a sin as made out by you for any party to question the social contract. That is within his or her right as a party to the social contract.

The next issue which I wish to address is the misstatement of the real issues in contemporary Malaysia. I have to state this because when the issues are misstated, the arguments in support would also go wrong. Emotions can seep in and everything will turn ugly.

The issues at hand, in my opinion, are not the status of Islam as the religion of the Federation or the special positions enjoyed by the Malays and the natives of Borneo. Those are entrenched in the Federal Constitution.

I have chosen the words in the preceding paragraph deliberately. Nowadays, when the arguments for “equality” are raised, the other side quickly jump and say “you are questioning the status of Islam” or “you are questioning the special rights of the Malays” or worse still, “you are questioning the position of the Malay rulers”.

Notice how the issues have been misstated to suit their purpose. What are in existence are not “special rights” but “special positions” and the parties which enjoy these positions are not only the Malays but also the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. Please read this article for further explanation on this issue.

On the position of Islam, I don’t think anybody in their right mind would question the status of Islam as the religion of the Federation.

But dear Doctor, you must be wise enough to discern between official religion and the law of the country. These are two different things.

Similarly, you must also be unemotional enough to discern the difference between Bahasa Malaysia as the official language and the rights of the people to speak whatever language they wish.

What have been raised in contemporary Malaysia is not the status of Islam as the religion of the Federation. Many events have taken place so far in relation to inter-faith integration that would call for a closer look at the freedom of religion as enshrined in our Constitution in order to find solutions. These events were perhaps not within the foresight of the fathers of our nation when the Constitution was being drafted.

It is then left to us, the children of today, to take the bull by the proverbial horn and try to find acceptable solutions to everybody in accordance with the common standard of fairness and civility.

Among others, these problems are:

• the controversy surrounding inter-faith marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims where a non-Muslim would convert to Islam to marry a Muslim but later re-convert to his or her original faith;

• the controversy surrounding the forced indoctrination of a certain faith – whether Islam or other faith – on children who are below the age of majority;

• the controversy surrounding the issue of apostasy in Islam;

• the controversy surrounding the unfair allocation of budget for the erection of temples or churches as compared to the mosques and suraus;

• the controversy surrounding the right to practise Islam by Muslims in accordance with their sectarian beliefs;

• the controversy surrounding some fatwas issued by some body of ulamaks;

• the controversy surrounding the usage of the word “Allah” to signify God;

•the controversy surrounding the publication of Bible in Bahasa Malaysia;

• the controversy surrounding moral policing.

These are issues which are being raised. They have nothing to do with the status of Islam under the Constitution or the status of the Malay rulers. Like it or not, these issues exist and will persist so long as we huddle ourselves in our dark caves, secure in our belief that those people who raise these issues are ultra kiasu and they have treasonous tendency.

This nation is built, from day one, by one strength and that strength is the unity of her people, regardless of race or religion. There is no such thing as this is “our” nation and not “theirs”.

In fact, may I respectfully point out that you, as a Chinese Muslim, are contradicting yourself when you refer to this land as “our own land” if what you meant by “our own land” is that this land is the land of the Malays.

Please, dear Doctor. Be more sensitive to the feelings of all Malaysians. You are after all an influential ustaz or teacher whose views are respected by many.

Now, as this nation of ours go into adulthood, it must confronts issues which naturally arise in the course of nation building.

It must confront these issues unemotionally and with great respect to everybody involved. Lest the very basis of this nation, namely, the unity of her people, would just fade away and we can bet our last dime that destruction would be on its way.

I fear for my children. I fear for this nation if we continue to count “our rights” as opposed to “theirs”. There is no “opposite parties” mind you. We are in this together.

Now you have come up with a rather ingenious formula. It is based on the entitlement to more rights for the majority. It is numerical power, which many argue is the direct result of democracy. Jeremy Bentham postulates the utilitarian principle under which it is said that whatever brings the most happiness to the greatest number of people would be good.

It would appear that you have managed to reduce the utilitarian principle into a science by reducing the yardstick of happiness and greatest number of people into a mathematical formula.

But with respect, you are threading on a dangerous path. Stretched to its logical conclusion, you are validating the might of the majority over the helplessness of the minority.

In the end, finally, what matters in your equation is the numbers involved. What if, in the future, the non-Muslims become the majority in this country, may I ask you? Would you accept their lording over you as a minority then?

What about the ban of the Islamic minarets in Switzerland? Do you, as a Muslim, accept that because, after all, Christians are the majority in Switzerland? What about the ban of the hijab and head scarf in France? Do you accept that on the same basis, ie, that Christians are the majority in France?

What about the killing of Muslims Bosnians by the Serbs and Croats? You accept that too? After all Christians are the majority in that region.

What if the Israelis manage to forcefully fill Gaza with Israelis leaving the Palestinians to be the minority, would you accept the desecration of everything that is Islam in Gaza?

What you are preaching, in my humble opinion, is political expediency suited for the current moment and nothing else. You are not seeing the bigger picture. With respect, you fail to look into ourselves as Muslims and spot our weaknesses as an Ummah against the backdrop of globalisation and openness.

You pay scant regard to spirituality and our ability as Muslims, to face this new aged world on any ground other than the strength in numbers and loudness of our voice.

You mentioned Ibn Khaldun in your article. Can you point out the existence of what Ibn Khaldun termed in his “Muqadimmah” as the spirit of “assabiya” in our contemporary Muslim society? Do we have “assabiya” nowadays? Or is it a matter of whatever is mine is mine and yours is yours?

In your mathematical formula, you are in fact preaching against Ibn Khaldun’s “assabiya.” The communal spirit, comradeship and camaraderie are obviously not important in your formula.

What about the numerical superiority of the non-Muslims in education for instance? Non-Muslims do get 9As or 10As in the examinations. Based on your numerical formula, wouldn’t they have the right to be in our public university? If so, why don’t they get what they are entitled to?

What about the numerical superiority in the non-Muslims’ contribution to our national coffers through the payment of taxes, duties and investments made? If your numerical superiority formula is applied, wouldn’t the non-Muslims then have more rights to build churches and temples compared to Muslims?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying they are so entitled. But I am just applying your formula to real situations.

Non-Muslims’ festivities should be limited to the percentage of their numbers. Sorry Doctor, I am laughing at the suggestion. Is that what matters? Festivities? Public holidays? They should have less number of temples and churches and we should have more mosques and suraus? (You seem to suggest that there are far too many churches and temples in Malaysia but have you seen the state of these churches and temples? Some are by the side of the road and in shop lots. Some are just housed in a small doggie house.)

How much space we occupy on our way to our graves? And how big our graves are? Good God, who is kiasu? What have we, the good people of Malaysia, become? And why have we descended into this deep pit of triviality? Oh my goodness.

Sometime, I find your reasoning inconsistent Doctor. While you preach goodness and high morality and you make such huge outcry against the evil of living immorally as practised by some politicians and the like, at the same time you don’t really mind a newspaper which sometime write obvious lies and spread hatred.

This is because, according to you, this newspaper is being frank. Well, is it okay to be bad as long as we are frank about it? You view with contempt the act of living together outside marriage by some non-Muslims but you can accept the act of lying and spreading hatred because the perpetrator is being frank? The last time I checked Doctor, even Hitler was being frank in wanting to kill all the Jews that ever walked the Earth. Was that okay?

The only way out of this racial and religious time bomb which is ticking fast in contemporary Malaysia to my mind is for all of us to confront all the issues in an unemotional manner. We should list them all out in the open. We should accept that those issues constitute problems and acknowledge that fact. We cannot deny their existence. We should stop assigning guilt. We should avoid pointing fingers. We should not adopt the my-religion-is-more-righteous-than-yours attitude.

After we manage to do that, we should then sit down and find the solutions as best as we can.

And we better do it fast. Because the longer we delay it, the more insidious and deep they will become. Soon more people will misuse those issues for whatever personal purpose which they may have. The situation may then become irreversible.

May God give all of us the wisdom.


Struggle for ethnic unity in Malaya after WWII (Pt 1)

Written by Ariffin Omar

British duplicity and collusion of the Malay elite contributed to keeping the various communities apart and made the struggle for a united nation state post-Malayan Union a distant dream.

In our study of Malaysian history we are always told that the best approach for achieving unity in this plural society is the Barisan Nasional way. In other words only by having race based parties that are able to come to some degree of understanding and cooperation can we achieve a fragile unity and some measure of peace in this country. However such a view is indeed erroneous because there were attempts to achieve a meaningful unity among the various ethnic communities based on shared common values and willingness to give and take. These attempts were not successful because of political and social factors that were not conducive towards establishing a genuine unity in Malaya.

In order to understand why we are trapped in the maze of ethnic and racial politics today, we must examine the past to see what went wrong.

To begin our discussion we will start with the Malayan Union. The Malayan Union was introduced by the British immediately after the end of the Second World War. In order to implement their plan, the British had to obtain the agreement of the traditional rulers in the Malay states. The aim of the Malayan Union was to integrate the large Chinese community and the smaller Indian one into a Malayan polity with a sense of ‘Malayaness’.

The British also wanted to do away with the cumbersome pre-war administrative structures comprising 10 government units consisting of the Federated Malay States of Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang and the Unfederated Malay States of Johor, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu and the Straits Settlements comprising of Penang, Singapore and Malacca. The British wanted to integrate them into a single, centrally controlled state with Singapore as a separate entity. Finally, the long-term goal of the British was to lead Malaya to independence.

To carry out their plan it was necessary to reorganize citizenship qualifications whereby 83 per cent of the Chinese and 75 per cent of the Indians would qualify for citizenship under very liberal laws. The British also intended up open up the Civil Service – hitherto a British and Malay preserve – to all communities.1

The Malay sultans would forfeit their positions as heads of their respective states but retain authority only in Islam. In other words, the British wanted to create a new ‘nation state’ from scratch and Tanah Melayu and other symbols cherished by the Malays as well as the bangsa Melayu would cease to exist. The bangsa Melayu would be subsumed into a bangsa Malayan that would encompass the Malays, Chinese and Indians.

2.25 million Malays, 3 million Malayans

The British were well aware that the Malays refused to be categorized as Malayans since they saw that term as a British creation that served the interests of the colonial regime. It was even recorded that, “a Malay is a member of the Malay race; a Malayan is a person of any other origin who happens to live in Malaya. There are 2,250,000 Malays; and 3,050,000 Malayans.”2

Therefore, it was clear that this scheme would not be popular among the Malay sultans but the British felt that through blackmail and coercion they might succeed in their plans.3

Harold MacMichael, a senior colonial administrator, was dispatched to the Malay states as the British representative and through threats and intimidation he succeeded in obtaining the ‘consent’ of the Malay sultans to the formation of the Malayan Union.4 The British felt that if they could coerce the sultans into accepting their Malayan Union scheme, the Malay rakyat would fall in line and accept their rulers’ abject surrender to the British scheme.

However, the British underestimated the opposition of the Malay masses to the Malayan Union scheme. When the Malays saw how utterly powerless the sultans were in protecting their status, rights and privileges as well as maintaining their identity as a bangsa, they reacted swiftly by re-establishing their pre-war state associations and opposed both the British and their sultans for signing away the sovereignty of the Malay states and agreeing to the Malayan Union Agreement whereby the Malay states effectively became colonies of Great Britain.

In introducing the Malayan Union, the British had sowed the seeds of enmity and distrust between the Malays and the non-Malays in the Malay states. Thus any attempt at rapprochement between the various ethnic groups was now impossible. Before the war, the so called ‘pro-Malay’ policy of the British has alienated the non-Malays because it was seen to favour and benefit the Malays at the expense of the non-Malays. But after the war, the Malayan Union had alienated the Malays by abolishing their rights and giving unrestricted citizenship rights to non-Malays. Thus British policies in the Malay states had always kept the various communities apart in a country which now had a plural society.5

Opposition to Malayan Union

The emergence of the various state associations such as Persatuan Melayu Selangor, Persatuan Melayu Perak and Persatuan Melayu Pahang meant that Malay ethnic-based associations were now taking centre stage and that it would be impossible to displace them. In addition, new association such as Perikatan Melayu Perak and Pemuda Melayu Kedah came into existence. The targets of their enmity were the British, the Malay sultans who had betrayed their rakyat and the non-Malays who were now seen as beneficiaries of the Malayan Union as they would soon be citizens enjoying the full rights of citizenship.

At the same time, the Malays – who saw themselves as the rightful owners of the Malay states – felt they would be marginalized and reduced to a minority community as well as relegated to the periphery of social, political and economic development.6

In the ongoing struggle waged by the Malay community against the Malayan Union, the sultans caved in first as they realized that without the support of their rakyat their positions as sultans would be meaningless. They disavowed the Malayan Union and joined the masses in opposing it.

While the British now faced the wrath of the Malays who were determined to bring down their scheme, the non-Malays suffered collateral damage as they were seen as a threat just because the British had planned to give them some political and social rights in addition to the economic advantages that they already had. The British had cynically roped the non-Malays into their scheme because they were useful pawns in the attempt to dilute Malay power. In addition, they wanted to ensure if the Malayan Union came to fruition, the non-Malays would always be beholden to the British for the favour done to them and that they would always support the British in checking any challenge by the Malays to British domination.7

However, the moment the British realized that Malay opposition to the Malayan Union was formidable and it posed a very serious challenge to their domination, they had second thoughts about their scheme.8 The British quickly abandoned the non-Malays in order to accommodate the demands of the Malay elite.

Since the sultans had failed to protect the Malay bangsa, the Malay masses now turned to the United Malays National Organization (Umno) which was formed in March 1946 under the brilliant leadership of Onn Jaafar to oppose the Malayan Union and the Malay sultans who signed the agreement. But after the sultans recanted and disavowed the Malayan Union they were out of the line of fire and Umno concentrated its energies on opposing the British and the non-Malays.9

To begin with, Umno was an ethno-centric organization composed of the various state organizations mentioned earlier. At the time of its inception, Umno had no idea or concept of nation, nationhood, nationalism or independence. It was not a nationalist party that was fighting to throw off the yoke of colonial rule as was the case in many other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam or Burma. Umno was not fighting for independence but for continued protection of the Malays under continued British colonial rule for as long as necessary.10

If the British had not introduced the Malayan Union in 1946 but had carried on in the same manner as before the war, it was unlikely that Umno, a pan-Malayan Malay movement would have emerged since the Malay elite found little there was to quarrel about British rule. While there would still be the usual griping in the Malay press about the lack of social and economic progress of the Malays as was the case during the late 1920s and 1930s, precious little would be done to implement any meaningful policy that would bring about substantial changes within the Malay community because an educated and economically progressive Malay community would threaten the position of the Malay elite and their complacent relations with the British.

In hoping that the British would return to the status quo ante that existed before 1941, Umno was in effect perpetuating ethnic divisions where in theory Malay rights and privileges would be protected (at least in theory) while the non-Malays were seen and categorized as transients that would have no stake in the country and could be dispensed with as and when it was expedient to do so.11

Alternative: Federation of Malaya

However, it soon became clear that the status quo ante could no longer be maintained and that the British had to do away with the cumbersome pre-war administrative structure. In the political flux after the Second World War, there was no longer any possibility of reverting to the administrative system that existed in 1941. Thus we must examine critically what was the alternative to the Malayan Union and whether that alternative would promote ethnic integration among the various communities in Malaya and lead to the creation of a united nation state.

It should be noted that for the British what mattered most to them was that they would have able to bring the various Malay states as well as the settlements of Penang and Malacca under centralized control. This would serve their political and economic interests very well. British economic interests were substantial and a united Malaya would serve their interest considerably.

The Malayan Union ceased to exist in January 1948. When we examine the Federation of Malaya Agreement that replaced it, we can determine that it benefited three parties: \the British, the Malay rulers and the Malay elite within Umno.

Stockwell quoting from British sources notes that though the Malayan Union was withdrawn, the British succeeded on two counts in gaining what they really wanted. First, the MacMichael Treaties (though finally abrogated) gave the British immense advantages in the 1946-47 constitutional talks with the Malay elite. The latter had to agree to a federal form of closer union since the Malayan Union framework was the background for renegotiations as well as accepting a scheme of citizenship for the non-Malays.

Second and more important, the Federation of Malaya Agreement retained key elements from the Malayan Union though they survive in such a diluted form as to be unrecognizable.12

The Federation of Malaya Agreement of 1948 that replaced the Malayan Union did not create a nation state nor did it bring about unity amongst the various communities of Malaya’s plural society. It was not a Melayu nation nor was it a Malayan nation. It was just a political arrangement leading to the birth of a political entity.13 The mythical sovereignty of the sultans as well as the individuality of the states was maintained. Malay special privileges were upheld. However a strong central government with legislative powers was established under British control.14

Citizenship was made more restrictive because of Malay fears that the Chinese would overwhelm them numerically and also because there were doubts at that time as to the loyalty of the Chinese towards the Malay states.

But by no means can the Federation of Malay be considered a triumph for the Malays because sovereignty was not in their hands. There were no national symbols such as a national language, a flag or a national identity that would be accepted by all. The federal council was established and its members were nominated by the British. Even though the English name of the political entity that replaced the Malayan Union was known as the Federation of Malaya, legally it was named Persekutuan Tanah Melayu thus maintaining the illusion that the British conceded to the creation of a Melayu nation.

The fact that there were two contradictory descriptions of the same political entity replacing the Malayan Union emphasized even more the schism that existed between the Malays and non-Malays. For the Malays, Persekutuan Tanah Melayu meant that the country was a Malay country exclusive to the Malays while non-Malays saw it as a federation with a Malayan identity that embraced all the ethnic communities including the Malays.

Thus British duplicity as well as the collusion of the Malay elite contributed to keeping the various communities apart and made the struggle for a united nation state a distant dream. That the Malay elite at that point was not even prepared to accept the emergence of a nation state was very obvious in the fact that the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu bestowed citizenship but not nationality.15 The non-Malays were only given citizenship rights. They were not even referred to as Malayans in the final report. The term ‘Malayan’ thus had no legal status.

Part 2 tomorrow: The Putera-AMCJA counter proposal of a People’s Constitution was a missed opportunity for the term ‘Melayu’ – that would not have carried any religious or cultural connotations – to designate a nationality for the non-Malays.


Ariffin S.M. Omar is assoc. prof. in International Studies at UUM. He is a founding member and former president of Aliran. He has published Bangsa Melayu: Malay Concepts of Democracy and Community 1945-50 (Oxford University Press, 1993) and edited a volume on The Bumiputra Policy: Dynamics and Dilemmas (USM Press, 2005). His essay ‘The struggle for ethnic unity in Malaya after the Second World War’ is published in the book Multiethnic Malaysia — Past Present and Future (2009).

Everyone must watch this

Obama says U.S. doing 'everything in our power' to prevent terror

Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab is accused of trying to blow up an airliner as it landed in Detroit on Christmas.

Romulus, Michigan (CNN) -- President Obama warned Monday that the United States would respond aggressively to terrorism such as last week's botched attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner.

"Those who would slaughter innocent men, women and children must know the United States will do more than simply strengthen our defenses," Obama said.

Obama said the government was doing "everything in our power to keep you and your families safe and secure during this busy holiday season."

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack on a plane about to land in the U.S., saying it was in retaliation for alleged U.S. strikes on Yemeni soil.

In the statement, published on radical Islamist Web sites, the group hailed the "brother" who carried out the "heroic attack." The group said it tested a "new kind of explosives" in the attack, and hailed the fact that the explosives "passed through security."

The group threatened further attacks, saying, "since Americans support their leaders they should expect more from us."

"We have prepared men who love to die," the statement dated Saturday said.

A suspect, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, is being held for allegedly trying to blow up the flight carrying 300 passengers.

Part of the explosive device was sewn into AbdulMutallab's underwear, a law enforcement official told CNN Monday.

A preliminary FBI analysis found that the device AbdulMutallab allegedly carried aboard the flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, contained the explosive pentaerythritol tetranitrate, known as PETN. The source could provide no details on the device.

The amount of explosive involved was sufficient to blow a hole in the aircraft, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN Sunday.

Authorities have focused their investigation on how AbdulMutallab, 23, allegedly smuggled the explosives aboard the flight and who might have helped him.

"We're ascertaining why it was that he was not flagged in a more specific way when he purchased his ticket, given the information that we think was available, allegedly was available," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told CNN's "American Morning" Monday.

AbdulMutallab, a Nigerian who had a multiple-entry visa to the United States, had been added to a watch list of 550,000 potential terrorist threats after the information provided by his father was forwarded to the National Counter-Terrorism Center, a senior administration official said. But "the info on him was not deemed specific enough to pull his visa or put him on a no-fly list," the official said.

"Now, we are going to be looking at that process and how those lists are created, maintained, updated, exchanged and the like, because clearly this individual should not have been able to board this plane carrying that material," Napolitano said.

Napolitano told CNN on Sunday there was no indication that the failed attack was part of any larger international terrorist plot.

Tighter security measures in the wake of the incident triggered long lines at security checkpoints at airports in the United States and abroad. President Obama has ordered a review of security procedures. Both the House and Senate plan to hold hearings on the incident.

AbdulMutallab's family said Monday it had told authorities about his "out of character" behavior and hoped that authorities would intervene.

The 23-year-old suspect was studying abroad when he "disappeared" and stopped communicating with his family members, they said Monday in a statement. His father, Umaru AbdulMutallab, contacted Nigerian security agencies two months ago and foreign security agencies six weeks ago, the statement said.

"We were hopeful that they would find and return him home," the family said. "It was while we were waiting for the outcome of their investigation that we arose to the shocking news of that day."

The suspect's family said his behavior prompted it to seek help.

"The disappearance and cessation of communication which got his mother and father concerned to report to the security agencies are completely out of character and a very recent development, as before then, from very early childhood, Farouk, to the best of parental monitoring, had never shown any attitude, conduct or association that would give concern," his family said.

The father of the suspect contacted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria with concerns his son had "become radicalized" and was planning something, a senior U.S. administration official said.

"After his father contacted the embassy recently, we coded his visa file so that, had he attempted to renew his visa months from now, it would have triggered an in-depth review of his application," a U.S. official said.

The embassy -- which has law enforcement, security and intelligence representatives on staff -- reported the father's concern to other agencies, the official said.

Passengers on the Christmas Day flight described a chaotic scene that began with a popping sound as the plane was making its final approach, followed by flames erupting at AbdulMutallab's seat.

The suspect was moved Sunday from a hospital where he was treated for his burns to an undisclosed location in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

He is charged with attempting to destroy the plane and placing a destructive device on the aircraft.

AbdulMutallab's trip originated in Lagos, Nigeria. There, he did not check in a bag as he flew on a KLM flight to Amsterdam, said Harold Demuren, director-general of Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority.

Demuren said the suspect underwent regular screening -- walking through a metal detector and having his shoulder bag scanned through an X-ray machine.

He then underwent "secondary screening" at the boarding gate for the KLM flight, according to officials of the Dutch airline.

In Amsterdam, AbdulMutallab boarded the Northwest Airlines flight to the United States.

The Netherlands' national coordinator for counterterrorism told CNN that AbdulMutallab had gone through "normal security procedures" in Amsterdam before boarding the flight to Detroit.

Over the weekend in Britain, where the suspect studied engineering at a London university, police searched AbdulMutallab's last known address.

Scotland Yard detectives on Sunday interviewed Michael Rimmer, a former high-school teacher who described AbdulMutallab as a "very devout" Muslim who had once expressed sympathy for Afghanistan's Taliban insurgency during a classroom discussion.

But Rimmer, who taught AbdulMutallab at a school in the west African nation of Togo, said it was not clear whether the then-teenager was simply playing devil's advocate during the class.

A federal security bulletin obtained by CNN said AbdulMutallab claimed the explosive device used Friday "was acquired in Yemen along with instructions as to when it should be used."

Yemeni authorities said they will take immediate action once the attempted bombing suspect's alleged link to the country is officially identified.

Express bus driver caught watching video

Watchdog backs probe on Dr M, Pak Lah - Malaysiakini

The call for a royal commission to investigate claims that two former prime ministers had squandered hundreds of billions of ringgit during their tenure has received the backing of an anti-corruption watchdog.

Both Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, should be subjected to the investigations to restore credibility to the government, said Gerak chairperson Mohd Nazree Mohd Yunus.

iftco conference mahathir 220806 mum“If these claims are not investigated, Gerak is concerned that the incidence of irregularities and corruption will be common practice in the future among national leaders, said Nazree in a statement issued today.

While integrity in the management of the country's resources was crucial to the stability of the economy, the trust that foreign investors have towards the economy would also erode if political figures were allowed to get away with corruption and mismanagement, he added.

“If national resources such as petroleum and other natural resources are not managed with integrity, it is likely that our deteriorating economy will take a turn for the worst as a result of mega-scale corruption.”

Nazree's statement come on the heels of a call by opposition stalwart Lim Kit Siang for a royal commission of inquiry to be set up to look into allegations that Mahathir had squandered RM100 billion during his 22 years as premier through grandiose projects and corruption.

The allegations were contained in a book penned by former Asian Wall Street Journal managing editor Barry Wain entitled 'Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times'.

Mahathir: Bring it on

In a posting in his Chedet blog, Mahathir said he welcomed Lim's suggestion for the government to set up a royal commission to probe him.

At the same time, he said he "reserved the right" to sue Wain, Lim and Malaysiakini for defamation.

abdullah ahmad badawi pm mahathir quits umno pc 190508 02Mahathir added that the scope of the royal commission should be widened to look into the tenure of his successor-turned-nemesis Abdullah.

Such a probe should include how RM270 billion of Petronas' money paid to the government during Abdullah's five-year term was spent and how much money was lost due to the cancellation of the crooked bridge to Singapore, said Mahathir.

While acknowledging that the government did lose money over projects embarked on during his tenure, Mahathir however denied that the losses amounted to even RM10 billion, let alone RM100 billion.

"If we had lost RM100 billion, the government would be in deep trouble. But although we did have poor growth during certain years, the government never failed to meet all financial commitments including the servicing of loans. In fact, we had enough money to prepay loans.

The Home Ministry stated last week that it was in the process of determining whether Wain's 'Malaysian Maverick' would affect peace and stability in the country.

The ministry has 60 days to make a decision as to whether the book could be sold in Malaysia.

A response to Ridhuan Tee: All Malaysians have special rights

Sometime ago I wrote this piece below which I think is relevant to as a response to Dr. Ridhuan Tee Abdullah's insistence that the "Malay-Muslim" group has a natural dominance over others.


Azly Rahman

"Therefore, the rakyat must unite and never raise issues regarding Malay rights and special privileges because it is a quid pro quo in gratitude for the giving in of citizenship (beri-paksa kerakyatan) to 2.7 million non-Malays into the Tanah Melayu federation....Thus, it is not appropriate for these other ethnic groups to have citizenship, only (later) to seek equality and privileges," said Tengku Faris, who read from a 11-page prepared text.

As a Malaysian who believes in a social contract based on the notion that ‘all Malaysians are created equal’, I do not understand the ‘royal statement’.

If it comes from the Biro Tatanegara (BTN), I can understand the confusion. But this is from a royal house.

This statement was valid 50 years ago, before Independence. This is an outdated statement that is not appreciated by the children of those who have laboured for this nation.

I believe we should look forward to institutionalising ‘special rights for all Malaysians’. The word ‘special’ is in itself special. Culturally it can either denote an enabling condition or a disabling one.

In the study of religion, one is bestowed a special place for living life well or for doing good deeds. In educational studies, ‘special education’ caters for the needs of those with a disabling physical, emotional or cognitive condition.

In all these, ‘special rights’ are accorded based on merit. One works hard to get special offers and into special places.

In the doctrine of the ‘divine rights of kings’, one's special right is the birthright. Louis XVI of revolutionary France, Shah Jehan of Taj Mahal fame, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, Shah Reza Pahlavi of Revolutionary Iran, King Bumiphol Adulyadev, and the sultans of Melaka were ‘special people’ who designed institutions that installed individuals based on rights sanctioned through a ‘mandate of heaven’.

Such people use specialised language to differentiate who is special and who is not. Court language is archaic, terse, meant to instill fear and to institutionalise special-ness.

The language of the street or market is fluid, accommodating, meant to instill open-ness and institutionalise creativity at its best and further development of the ‘underclass’ at its worst.

This continuum of language, power, and ideology is characteristic of histories of nations. In Malay history, istana language is enshrined in the hikayat and in Tun Seri Lanang's Sejarah Melayu. Street language used in Malay folklore and in bawdy poems, pantun and stories of Sang Kancil.

Class consciousness, many a sociologist would say, dictates the special-ness of people across time and space. Historical-materialism necessitates the development of the specialised use and abuse of language. One can do a lot of things with words. Words can be deployed to create a sustainable and profitable master-slave relationship.

A better argument

Let us elevate the argument so that we will have a better view of what race, ethnicity, nationalism and cosmopolitanism means.

I propose we review what “special rights of the Malays" mean in light of 50 years of Independence and post-March 8, 2008.

I agree we must give credit to those working hard to "improve the psychological well-being of the Malays" and for that matter for any race to improve its mental wellness. This is important. This is a noble act.

The question is: in doing so, do we want to plant the seeds of cooperation and trust - or racial discrimination and deep hatred? Herein lies the difference between indoctrination and education.

These days, the idea of Ketuanan Melayu is going bankrupt, sinking with the bahtera merdeka. It works only for Malay robber barons who wish to plunder the nation by silencing the masses and using the ideological state apparatuses at their disposal.

In the case of the BTN it is the work of controlling the minds of the youth. Its work should not be allowed any more in our educational institutions. It is time our universities especially are spared counter-educational activities, especially when they yearn to be free of the shackles of domination.

Over decades, many millions of Malays and non-Malays have not been getting the right information on our nation's history, political-economy, and race relations. History that is being shoved into us or filter-funnelled down the labyrinth of our consciousness is one that is already packaged, biased, and propagandised by historians who became text-books writers.

History need not be Malay-centric. Special rights for all Malaysians should be the goal of distributive and regulative justice of this nation, not the "special rights of a few Malays". History must be presented as the history of the marginalisd, the oppressed and the dispossessed of all races.

We toil for this nation, as the humanist Paramoedya Ananta Toer would say, by virtue of our existence as anak semua bangsa ... di bumi manusia. Malaysia is a land of immigrants.

In this regard we can learn from the former British colony called America. Whatever its shortcomings, it is a land of immigrants and is still evolving. A black man or a woman can become president. This is what America conceives itself to be and this is what Malaysian can learn from. Can a non-Malay become prime minster if he/she is the most ethical of all politicians in the country?

No one particular race should stake a claim to Malaysia. That is an idea from the old school of thought, fast being abandoned. Each citizen is born, bred, and brought to school to become a good law-abiding and productive Malaysian citizen, is accorded the fullest rights and privileges and will carry his/her responsibility as a good citizen.

That is what ‘surrendering one's natural rights to the state’ means. One must read Rousseau, Locke, Voltaire, and Jefferson to understand this philosophy. A bad government will not honour this - and will fall, or will sink like the bahtera merdeka.

The history of civilisations provides enough examples of devastation and genocide as a consequence of violent claims to the right of this or that land based upon some idea of ‘imagined communities’. We must teach our children to make a history of peace among nations. This must be made into a new school of thought: of ‘new bumiputeraism’ that encompasses all and does not alienate any. Life is too short for each generation to fight over greed.

The eleventh hour of human existence and our emergence in this world has brought about destruction as a consequence of our inability to mediate differences based on race, colour, creed, class and national origin. Each ethnic group thinks that it is more socially-dominant than the other. Each does not know the basis of its ‘self’. Each fails to realise its DNA-make up or gene map.

Life is an existential state of beingness, so must history be conceived as such. Nationalism can evolve into a dangerous concept - that was what happened to Europe at the brink of the two World Wars. It happened in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and in Indonesia when Suharto fell.

I argue that we must evolve in the historical presence of historical constructions. The past and the future is in the present. Let us not argue any more over this or those rights. Let us instead treat each other right.

Kelantan prepared to amend constitution to allow for non-Malay Muslim MB

(Bernama) - The Kelantan PAS government is prepared to amend the state constitution to enable a non-Malay Muslim to become mentri besar.

Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, said there was no issue about amending the state constitution as long as it was in line with Islamic requirements as introduced by PAS since 1990.

“Kelantan laws are different as they were made before PAS came to power They can amended,” he told reporters here on Monday.

Nik Aziz said this when asked to comment on his statement of support for a non-Malay candidate to become mentri besar after him as long as the person was a Muslim.

He said following Islamic policy, as long as a person was of good character and practiced the teachings of Islam truthfully, he or she was qualified to lead.

“This step (of appointing a non-Malay) to be mentri besar will make Islam respected and more people will make Islam their religion,” he said.

Nik Aziz also said he would himself propose any non-Malay Muslim leader to be his replacement if the person was qualified.

When did Malaysia’s police chiefs develop “egg-shell skull” paranoia

by Lim Kit Siang,

I had tweeted in Osaka yesterday:

“Police 2interrogate another DAP rep – Sel State Exco EanYongHianWah after Penang CM/DAP SG LimGuanEng. Sel CPO – what r u up to?”

In response, I got this snide remark from the Umno MP for Kota Belud, Rahman Dahlan in his retweet:

“Same old tactics LKS!”

This could mean many things but at present, I am only concerned about the Selangor Chief Police Officer, Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar, whom I had always thought as a solid and professional policeman, raising many questions.

Let me for the moment pose two:

Firstly, when did Malaysia’s police chiefs develop the “egg-shell skull” paranoia?

Secondly, would the police lodge a police report against Khalid for committing the offence of publishing “false news” under Printing Presses and Publications Act?

Any law student would have come across the eggshell skull rule, or the legal doctrine in tort and criminal law that holds a wrongdoer liable for all consequences resulting from his or her tort or crime leading to an injury to another person, even if the victim suffers an unusually high level of damage – even if a person had a skull as delicate as the shell of an egg.

Are Malaysians to believe that seasoned and toughened police chiefs in the country have suddenly developed egg-shell skulls that an unexceptional call by the DAP Selangor State Chairman and Selangor Exco member Ean Yong Hian Wah urging the police to cease their baseless investigation of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for sedition on his speech at the Pakatan Rakyat national convention on December 19 about the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock could have an “intimidating” effect on the police?

Is this one consequence of the KPI/NKRA mania of the Najib administration?

If police chiefs in Malaysia have developed such egg-shell skull paranoia, how can Malaysians have confidence that the police can roll back the tide of endemic crime in the country, which has got worse in the past nine months since Datuk Seri Najib Razak became Prime Minister despite all the empty propaganda of the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein about the country becoming a safer country?

Secondly, when Khalid said that Hian Wah had “directed”: the police to cease its investigations of Penang Chief Minister, he had in fact committed the offence of publishing false news under the Printing Presses and Publications Act, for Hian Wah never issued such a “directive” to the police.

Would the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail believe that Hian Wah could have issued such a directive? Hian Wah has clearly denied have done so.

Would the police lodge a police report against the Selangor CPO for committing the offence of publishing false news in connection with Hian Wah’s statement, which is an even more serious offence that the one Khalid is accusing Hian Wah. If the police is not going to lodge such a police report against Khalid, why not?

These two and many other questions arising from the highly questionable and unprofessional actions of Khalid in the past few days are the reasons why I had raised the question in my tweet:

“Sel CPO – what r u up to?”

Can Khalid respond?

Kelantan PAS Prepared To Amend State Constitution To Allow For Non-Malay Muslim MB

KOTA BAHARU, Dec 28 (Bernama) -- The Kelantan Pas government is prepared to amend the state constitution to enable a non-Malay Muslim to become menteri besar of the state.

Menteri Besar, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, said there was no question of amending the state constitution as long as it was in line with Islamic requirements as introduced by Pas since ruling the state in 1990.

"Kelantan laws are different as they were made before Pas came to power. They can amended," he told reporters after officiating the 'Ijtimak Ulama Muda Negeri Kelantan' meeting here Monday.

Nik Aziz said this when asked to comment on his statement to support any non-Malay candidate for the menteri besar post after him as long as the person was a Muslim.

He said following Islamic policy, as long as the candidates were of good character and practise the teachings of Islam truthfully, they qualified to lead.

"That is why we do not hold fast to race but rather hold to those who practise the teachings of Islam, then Islam will be respected.

"This step (of appointing a non-Malay) to be menteri besar will make Islam to be respected and more people will make Islam their religion," he said.

Touching on the same matter in his speech, Nik Aziz said he will himself propose any non-Malay Muslim leader to be his replacement if the person was qualified.

Kelantan Royalty in news again

The Sun
by Maria J.Dass and Alyaa Alhajri

PETALING JAYA (Dec 28, 2009) : The Kelantan royalty is in the news again. A woman claiming to be the second wife of the Sultan of Kelantan Sultan Ismail Petra today alleged that she was prevented from visiting her husband who has been warded at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore since May 14.

In a signed statement faxed to the Press, Elia Suhana Ahmad said she and the Sultan were married on Dec 23, 2007 in the presence of family and palace officials, but things were kept under wraps for personal reasons.

Her wedding photograph, e-nikah card and documents from the religious department were e-mailed to theSun to prove their union.

Our call to a handphone number given in the statement was picked up by a man who claimed to be her spokesman but who refused to reveal his name. He said Elia Suhana was overseas and would only be back in "one or two days".

Some photographers went to the address given in the statement but failed to meet her.

Her statement was issued in response to a Dec 21 report in the Malay Mail online titled “Police Ruckus in Royal Ward" which said palace police had helped her gain access to the Sultan.

Elia Suhana claimed that the Sultan’s consort, the Raja Perempuan Kelantan Tengku Anis Tengku Abdul Hamid’s body guards had prevented her from visiting the Sultan.

The news report said royal guards sneaked "two unknown women" into the royal suite of the recovering Ruler at the hospital in the wee hours of the morning of Oct 8.

It also stated that some 20 royal guards, who are also police personnel, besieged the ward and allegedly insulted Tengku Anis.

Explaining what happened, Elia Suhana said: “My personal assistant and I went to visit the Sultan in the wee hours of that morning accompanied by palace police officials.

“The police report lodged by the Sultanah’s bodyguard -- on orders of the prince Tengku Temenggong Tengku Muhammad Fakhry -- stating that the police had brought in two female strangers into the ward is totally irrelevant,” she said.

“The Kelantan royalty generally knows of my existence, that I have no ill intention against the Sultan and that I have never ignored the palace officials,” Elia said.

She said police officers generally act on orders from their superiors and not individuals, thus their integrity in this matter should not be questioned unless those involved do not like the police's methods of upholding justice.

The news report has put both the police and the Sultan in a bad light, she added.

Elia Suhana said: “As a lawful wife, it is my responsibility to be together with the Sultan, especially at a time when he is critically ill.

"Because of circumstances, I was unable to be with the Sultan throughout his stay at the hospital but managed to visit him a few times," she said, adding that she chose to visit him at odd hours so as not to hurt the feelings of members of the royal family.

Elia Suhana said she had laid low up till now but had to go public because she had to clarify the news report.

State Assembly protest man hurt in knife attack

The Sun
by Himanshu Bhatt

SEBERANG PERAI (Dec 28, 2009) : A 47-year-old legal firm runner was attacked by a gang armed with knives at the Mak Mandin industrial area here on Sunday night.

S. Krishnan Nair, better known as "Mak Mandin Kumar", was slashed on his right leg and back by the eight attackers while on his way home at about 10pm.

Krishnan was at the centre of a rowdy demonstration against the Penang government outside the state assembly late last month, when he was famously seen burning and stamping on a portrait of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng during the Barisan Nasional (BN)-led protest.

Over the last year, he had also been visible as a vocal supporter of the century-old Kampung Buah Pala village which was later demolished for a modern development project.

When met at his house today, Krishnan recounted how he was followed by the assailants who were on four motorcycles. They had apparently waited for him to ride past an unlit road before attacking.

“They seemed to have planned the whole thing. They surrounded me. Four of them remained on their bikes, while the other four attacked,” he said.

“At first, I told them we could discuss whatever problem there was, but then they took out their knives,” he said.

After a momentary struggle, Krishnan fell to the ground, and heard someone shouting “Cut his leg” in Tamil. He was then slashed several times, but managed to quickly roll over to reach out for a stick.

When he got up to face his attackers, they fled. Bloodied and bruised, he rode to his house, and was rushed by friends to the Seberang Jaya Hospital where he received 16 stitches. A report was also lodged at the Mak Mandin police station.

Kumar said he had received calls from politicians from both sides of the divide after the demonstration on Nov 30, asking him to go to the state assembly to apologise. Kumar, however, declined.

“I also got some anonymous calls threatening me,” he said.

Asked why he had joined the BN-led demonstration, he said he was angry with the Pakatan Rakyat government for allowing the title for the village land to be issued to the Penang Government Officer’s Cooperative on March 27, 2008, soon after they had assumed power.

“But before the elections, these politicians had promised to save the village. That’s why I was so angry,” he said.

He added that he was a staunch DAP member until he quit the party in 1992 and has not joined any other political party since.