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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reports: Islamists spark deadly fighting in central Somalia town

(CNN) -- Al-Shabaab rebels attacked a town in central Somalia early Saturday, sparking an intense firefight between rival Islamic groups, according to eyewitnesses and local journalists.

Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Dere said the Islamist rebel group took control of Dhusomareb after fighting members of Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a, a moderate Muslim group, according to Shabelle Media. However, the rival group claimed it pushed out the al-Shabaab rebels by Saturday evening.

While neither side officially claimed casualties, witnesses told a journalist about 30 people died in the fighting.

Al-Shabaab is made up of former allies of Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who once led the Islamic Courts Union -- the Islamist movement that briefly held power in Mogadishu in 2006.

But while Ahmed and other former members of the ICU accepted a U.N.-brokered peace agreement with the government they once fought, Al-Shabaab -- which the United States says has links to al Qaeda -- has rejected the peace agreement and has waged a bloody campaign against Somalia's transitional government.

The transnational Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a has maintained a strong presence in southern and central Somalia, where it has gathered powerful but small Sufi sects to counter extremist Islamist groups, especially al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab has been trying to expand its influence farther north in Somalia, including Dhusomareb, the provincial capital of Galgaduud.

A U.S. missile strike on Dhusomareb in May 2008 targeted and killed several senior members of al-Shabaab.

Duty of religions

So the purpose of religion is to train persons how to love God. That is the purpose of all religion. Either you take Christianism or Hinduism or any "ism," the purport is that you try to love God, because that is our natural inclination. Even in uncivilized society, when there is some thunderbolt, they immediately offer obeisances. That is natural. And in the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje [SB 1.2.6]. Now this word dharma is translated or explained in the English dictionary, "religion," as "a kind of faith." But in Sanskrit dictionary, dharma means characteristic. Just like sugar. Sugar's characteristic is sweetness. If you are given some sugar, if you find it, it is not sweet, you at once reject it: "Oh, it is not sugar. It is something else." So that sweetness is the characteristic of sugar. Similarly, sour taste is the characteristic of salt, pungency is the characteristic of chili. Similarly, what is your characteristic, living entity? That you have to study. That is your religion. Not that Christian religion, Hindu religion, or this religion, that religion. Your eternal characteristic, what is that eternal characteristic? You want to love somebody, and therefore you want to serve. That is your characteristic. You want your society... You love your society, you love your family, you love your country, you love your community. Because you love, therefore you serve. That is your characteristic. Either you are Christian or either you are Muhammadan, either you are Hindu, this characteristic will go on. Suppose today you are Christian, tomorrow you become Hindu. That service mood, that loving spirit, goes with you, either you become Hindu or Muslim or Christian. Therefore that service spirit and love, the tendency to love and service spirit, is your characteristic, and that is your religion. That is the universal form of religion. You have to apply your natural characteristic in a certain place, where you will be satisfied. Your service spirit is (indistinct). You have to apply your natural characteristic in a certain place, where you will be satisfied. Your service spirit is there, your loving spirit is there, but because it is misplaced, you are not happy, you are frustrated, you are confused. The Bhagavata gives you indication, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje [SB 1.2.6]. That is the first-class system of religion, which trains you to love God. And if you have developed that tendency to the fullest extent, to love God, then you are perfect man. And then you will feel perfection within yourself. Yayatma suprasidati. You are hankering after satisfaction, full satisfaction. That full satisfaction can be obtained only when you love God. That is the natural function. It doesn't matter whether you are following Christianism or Hinduism or Muhammadanism. Just try to understand how much you have developed your God consciousness to love God. Then in your any religion is nice, very nice. Otherwise it is simply waste of time. Srama eva hi kevalam [SB 1.2.8]. After executing your ritualistic performances in particular type of religion throughout the whole life, if you do not see that you have no love for God, then simply you have wasted your time.

God by any name...

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has finally allowed a motion for the Catholic Church to set aside a ban by the Home Ministry on the use of the word 'Allah' as a Bahasa translation for 'God' in its publications.

Whether the Home Ministry will appeal the decision or not is uncertain. Who will hear the case when the appeal is filed will also probably influence the outcome. This saga over in what name God should be called is far from over.

In September last year, 10,000 bibles in Bahasa Malaysia imported from Indonesia were seized by the authorities in Sarawak because they use 'Allah' for 'God' as well.

In Sarawak, 47 percent of the population are Christians of various denominations, and it is the state with the largest proportion of Christians in Malaysia. Most use their Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible, and the seizure of their Bibles - translated and perfectly legal for use in Indonesia - is beyond rhyme and reason.

The Christians in Malaysia are a meek and peaceful lot. They are long immersed in the political sensitivities of Malaysians of other faiths, especially the Muslims. Most will never dream of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Our Muslim Malaysians are also very devout worshippers of their deity, and their strong religious faith will not so easily be confused just because the Christians call their God 'Allah'.

I am not a member of any organised religion, though that does not mean I am an atheist. But I had spent some years studying the Christian Bible, and I also studied Christian theology in university, purely out of interest.

Clearly, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are three branches of the same religious tradition. They originated from the same monotheistic narrative though they have different accounts of their truth revealed through their charismatic prophets.

Later on, through the long river of history, they develop different dogma, doctrine and creed based on their different accounts and their different interpretations of their holy books.

But these three different religions still share one common conceptual belief: there is no other gods but the One God, creator of heaven and earth, lord over all things that ever are, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, just and compassionate over His dominion.

As the great Christian philosopher Immanuel Kant pointed out, things like God and the immortality of the soul are beyond knowledge. That is why you need faith for monotheistic belief.

According to this scheme of things, God is impossible to think of and know entirely, because no matter how you think about God, he is greater than what you think of him, or else he is not God. At least, that is how St Anselm tried to conceptualise God's infinite divinity when he tried to prove the existence of God through his ontological proof.

Even in Judaism, there are many names for God, but they refer to the same and one and only God. The Catholics have their mystery of the holy trinity, which makes little logical sense, but then religious truths are not always logical anyway.

By now, we know that the word 'Allah' was commonly used to refer to 'God' in the deserts sands of Arabia, even before Prophet Mohamad appeared on the scene.

Imperfect human language

Then, there is also this problem of defining and understanding our human language.

As the linguistic philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein observed at the beginning of the last century, there is no way of defining language because we do not have a logical neighbour beside language. The next logical neighbour is non-language, and that realm does not exist within our human experience.

Without language, we have no consciousness or understanding of our being and our existence. As another great philosopher Martin Heidegger proclaimed, language is the abode of our being.

I am aware that some other religious traditions of the world claim to have knowledge or enlightenment about the ultimate reality through meditation or some other mystical means. But they certainly cannot express such knowledge though linguistic communication.

The next thing to observe about language is its imperfection. Until today, philosophers still debate about what constitutes meaning when we engage in inter-subjective communication. The true nature of our spoken and written languages remains veiled for us.

Then, there is a school of thought called the Hermeneutics that recognise the importance of the interpretive element of linguistic communication. Words are never simple words with plain objective meaning. Messages, especially those in religious discussions, are constantly interpreted to and fro.

Therefore, the question arises whether such an imperfect vague and protean human creation as human language can reflect the ultimate immutable reality of God's kingdom. Even if the holy books of the various monotheistic faiths are referred to by their faithful as the 'word of God', we can assume the comparison to be metaphorical only.

Interfaith dialogue

Another question also arises as to whether any word or name in the imperfect human language is adequate to represent the infinite greatness and the unimaginable sanctity of the perfect God.

By reasoning alone, any name by which we call God is never worthy of the Supreme Being. But still, for convenience sake, followers of the various faiths call this same Supreme Being by various names out of convention or various modes of divine revelation.

In short, it really does not matter what name you call or worship your God, as long as in your hearts, God is that personalised Supreme Being revealed by those prophets down through the millennia. The more important thing is never to use God's name in vain.

Again, I am not a member of any organised religion. I am simply trying to clarify some conceptual confusion in the hope of expediting discussions on this sensitive topic. If I have made any mistake, please do not condemn me in the name of God's wrath, but teach me the Truth.

In our multiracial and multi-religious Malaysia, both the government and the people have to constantly engage in interfaith dialogue in order for religious understanding to further its course.

SIM KWANG YANG was member of parliament for Bandar Kuching, Sarawak from 1982 to 1995. He can be reached at

Guan Eng blasts police over sedition threat

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today hit out at the police for threatening him with sedition over his remarks suggesting that Teoh Beng Hock was murdered, saying it was a concerted effort to topple him as Penang chief minister and break up the Pakatan Rakyat.

Lim said police should stop persecuting innocent people, adding statements from senior police officials showed they have pre-judged him despite their denials of bias.

“The police seem to have made up their minds to charge me with sedition,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider in a phone interview from Penang.

The opposition leader has a previous conviction for sedition and publishing false news, serving 12 out of an 18-month sentence in 1998 for rape allegations made against former Malacca chief minister Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik.

The police started their investigations on Dec 21 over remarks by Lim and another politician on Teoh’s death made at the Pakatan Rakyat convention on Dec 19.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said on Dec 30 that the police will not be biased in their probe.

Chief minister Lim not impressed with the developments. - Picture by Choo Choy May

“However, Lim’s allegations are considered seditious be- cause Teoh’s inquest is ongoing,” Musa told reporters.

“The sedition investigation against Lim is not politically motivated. His allegation can incite and confuse the public, causing them to turn against government agencies.”

But Lim said Musa and the police must be professional in their investigations.

“I am ready to be investigated but the police must be professional. Their statements suggest otherwise,” he added.

Lim disclosed that the investigations fit a pattern to take out popular Pakatan Rakyat leaders including Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

Anwar is facing a second sodomy charge while Nik Aziz, the popular PAS spiritual chief, has been criticised with charges of nepotism and possible corruption.

“Our political rivals believe they can snap the Pakatan Rakyat by taking out the strong and popular leaders. They are wrong,” Lim said.

He said the Barisan Nasional federal government and police should instead focus on bringing down the country’s crime rate and solve cases such as the embarrassing theft of two fighter jet engines from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Sungei Besi.

“The general elections are over. We can battle it out in the next one. Its time to take care of the country and the people,” Lim said.

Lim’s current brush with the law began over his remark 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.”

Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar had said 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 the police would also record a statement from Anwar to help in its probe against Lim.

A coroner’s inquest into Teoh’s mysterious death was postponed twice last month as 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 scheduled to resume two weeks ago but lawyers now expect it to continue this 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 alleged abuse of state funds by politicians from the ruling Pakatan Rakyat state government.

The findings of the second autopsy done 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 — had observed the post-mortem carried out by Sungai Buloh Hospital chief pathologist Dr Shahidan Md Noor.

The renowned Thai pathologist earlier testified at the inquest that Teoh’s death was “80 per cent” homicide based on photographic evidence.

However, her views are contrary to the first autopsy done by local pathologists. The coroner then ordered the exhumation of Teoh’s remains and the second autopsy.

MACC officials have also lodged reports against Suara KeAdilan and Dr Pornthip over alleged leaks of the second report published by the PKR party organ.

Malaysia’s battle for ‘Allah’ goes online

Openly opposed to the ruling, Mukhriz, just like his

father. - Picture by Choo Choy May

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — Like-minded Muslim Malaysians are banding together online in social network groups such as Facebook to oppose a High Court decision that allows Catholics to describe the Christian God as “Allah” in the national language.

As of 8am today, 10,000 accounts have signed up in the Facebook group page titled “Menentang Penggunaan Allah Oleh Golongan Bukan Islam” (Against Non-Muslims using the word Allah) to protest the Dec 31 judgment in favour of the Catholic weekly, Herald.

Among its members are International Trade and Industry deputy minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, a cross-section of youth members from political foes Umno and PAS and university students. Its adviser is controversial Mingguan Malaysia columnist Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah who has riled up non-Muslims with his idea of using population figures to determine benefits.

In the group description, it stated its objective is to oppose the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims which it alleged is an attempt to confuse Muslims.

“For the awakened Muslims, this is a propaganda by them (Christians) to confuse the Islam Ummah (community) now and in the future,” read the group description.

Just as in the group’s description, Umno hawks and Muslim conservatives alike have used similar arguments in their bid to put pressure on the relevant authorities to reverse the High Court decision and maintain exclusivity on the word “Allah” for Muslims.

Leaders like former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former Selangor mentri besar Datuk Seri Khir Toyo and Umno Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil have also said that the court decision will create uneasiness among the different races.

Mukhriz — Dr Mahathir’s son — is known for his far-right controversial political stand while Ridhuan is a household name among conservatives

Though the group did not state its political affiliation, it is clear that its creators who uses the pseudonym “Ali Baba Bujang Lapok”, are inclined to Umno judging from how Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have been targeted and blamed for the controversy.

Progressive Islamist leaders like PAS Shah Alam and Kuala Selangor MPs, Khalid Samad and Dr Dulkefly Ahmad, have been derided as traitors to Islam for agreeing with the court decision.

PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim have also been accused of “gambling the sanctity of Islam” for his alleged support of the High Court decision.

An online research by The Malaysian Insider also found that various pro-Umno blogs have begun exploiting the sensitive controversy to underscore their tactics of portraying PR as anti-Islam.

This is however not entirely true. Known Islamic hardliner like PKR’s Zulkifli Noordin have openly voiced out his disagreement with the court decision.

The Malaysian Insider also understands that conservative camps within PAS are also at odds with their more progressive peers but have so far remain silent, presumably in an attempt to avoid confrontation with the more liberal elements within PKR and DAP.

The controversy over the word “Allah” has stirred huge debate among Christians and Muslims alike in Malaysia and attracted international attention as well.

The Home Minister, who controls giving the annual mandatory publishing permits in the country, had banned the church from using the word “Allah” outside the Muslim context.

But some questioned if there can be a copyright over the word “Allah”, which Muslim representatives say is a special word reserved to refer to the Muslim God, meaning “the one and only Almighty”

Khalid dismisses need for Hulu Selangor by-election

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim rubbishes spculation of a by-election for Hulu Selangor at a dinner last night. - Picture by Choo Choy May

HULU SELANGOR, Jan 3 — The Selangor Mentri Besar last night dismissed speculation of a by-election here because Hulu Selangor Parliamentarian Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad, who has been ill, was on the road to recovery.

“Dr Zainal will soon be back to duty.” said Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who added the intense speculation that the federal lawmaker was resigning was not true.

Khalid, who was speaking at a PKR dinner in Dr Zainal's constituency, said Pakatan Rakyat was not afraid to take on Barisan Nasional (BN) in a by-election but there was no current need for the fight.

The dinner at Kampung Chuang Rasa Multi Purpose hall was well attended by almost a dozen PKR MPs and leaders but missing were Dr Zainal and de facto party leader Datuk Seri Dr Anwar Ibrahim.

Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian told the crows thar Dr Zainal was recovering from an operation and was resting at home “on doctor’s orders”.

“I spoke to him earlier and there is not going to be any announcement about his resignation,” he said in a speech at the dinner.

He added that his colleague had been suffering from a prolonged illness since 2002 but had only applied for leave.

Meanwhile local residents who spoke to The Malaysian Insider said they did not want fresh polls for Hulu Selangor.

“Elections would be a waste of money,” said Mohd Nawawi Ramli.

The 56-year-old factory worker also pointed out Dr Zainal had not even resigned.

Former rubber taper T. Subramaniam said he was generally happy with PKR and did not want a by-election.

“PKR is definitely better than MIC.” he noted.

However security guard. R. Shanmugam said he didn’t care if there was a by-election in Hulu Selangor.

“My life had not changed after Pakatan Rakyat took over Selangor and either way it will be the same,” said the 57-year-old father of six.

However Khalid and PKR colleagues did get a rousing welcome from the more than 1,500 who attended the dinner.

Uncharacteristically Khalid, who often fumbles while making public speeches, had the Chinese majority crowd eating out his hands as his listed down the programmes that PR had implemented for all, regardless of race.

“Unlike BN we perform first, like our programme for Chinese New Villagers, then talk,” said Khalid in reference to the federal government’s promises under Natinal Key Result Areas (NKRAs) to regain lost support from the 2008 general elections.

He added the public should not be afraid of talk that his administration was being shaken by BN.

“It’s BN that’s shaken.”

Khalid pointed out that PR members where now represented not only in Parliament and the state assembly but in the senate and will oppose any policies which burden the people.

“What’s the point of more taxes if it does not benefit the people.” he asked.

Makkal Sakti eyes 300,000 membership mark in 2010

SHAH ALAM, Jan 3 — The eight-month-old Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party aims to increase its membership by 300,000, from 57,000 currently, by end of this year.

Party founder and national president, R.S. Thanenthiran, said extensive programmes to recruit members would be planned this year including through online sites and web blogs before the next general election.

“We predict that the party will have 300,000 members by year-end, mostly youths, going by ground sentiments. Given the time-frame and encouraging response, we are quite confident that we can achieve the target. We will be moving towards this goal throughout this year ,” he told Bernama in an interview recently.

Makkal Sakti party, formed in May, was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Oct 10 2009.

Thanenthiran said that about 60 per cent of the total 57,000 members of the party had not been registered as voters and that he would be working closely with the Election Commission to get them registered.

He also suggested that the government amend marriage laws to make it compulsory for non-Muslims to attend pre-marriage counselling classes.

“Couples must now be trained to know their responsibilities and duties before getting a marriage certificate,” he said, adding that he was planning to set up a pre-marriage counselling centre by this year.

Meanwhile, Thanenthiran said several quarters within Makkal Sakti were going against the party’s constitution by attempting to convene an extraordinary general meeting in 90 days to elect a new president.

“Some quarters within the party are going against members’ wishes and trying to interpret the constitution according to their personal interests and benefit (to remove the current president),” he said, adding he would not budge on such actions.

Recently, party secretary-general, R. Kannan, was quoted as saying that an EGM had to be held as members felt the Makkal Sakti party was lifeless under the leadership of Thanenthiran.

He had claimed that since it was formed, the party had not organised activities for members and failed to serve the people, especially the Indian community. — Bernama

I Cry For You, Malaysia ....

I read Mr A’s ‘from-the-heart story’ in Malaysia Today (MT) on what prompted him to emigrate from Malaysia with much sadness. He is 46 and very close to my age. I also read Candy Tay’s poignant words in Malaysiakini (MK) on what made her stay in Malaysia though she could have chosen to return to Canada. She must be in her late 20’s or early 30’s, I suppose.

I respect both their decisions and, honestly, I can emphatize with both of them.

By Second Class Citizen

Let me share my short story ….

In 1977, I completed my Higher School Certificate (HSC) with 4 principal passes. Unfortunately, that was not enough for me to get into the limited local universities at that time. (Till today, I never begrudge my Malay school mates who received scholarships to study locally and overseas even though they had worse results as I strongly felt they needed assistance. But when in school, I did wonder why my applications for state government applications were never considered as my dad was then earning RM 800.00 as a clerk in a private firm with seven mouths to feed).

Well, what could I do? I decided to put my education on the back-burner and joined the workforce.

I first worked in an insurance company. I got promoted twice in my 4 years there. During that time I signed on to do a part-time Diploma. I then went on to complete my degree and graduated as an engineer. It was not easy, I assure you. I then moved to a local engineering firm and then changed jobs a couple of times. By that time, I was 40, married and had 2 kids.

Then I landed a job, first as Production Manager, then as Operations Manager, in the manufacturing division of a multinational company (MNC). I decided to sign on for a part-time MBA course that took me close to four years to complete. But it was well worth the effort as that changed my life … career advancement; travel to places I never dreamed was possible; decent salary raises, etc.

My wife also decided to become a full-time housekeeper (she has done a tremendous job as Home Minister compared to a Home Minister that I read about often in MT and MK!). I can say that the last 15 years or so, we have been a middle-class family (though it is more of an upper middle class now).

I am now in the most senior position of my MNC in Malaysia. But just like Mr A, I know (and you know that too) I will never, ever be even remotely considered to head a GLC in Malaysia however capable I am as a turnaround or change manager.

I earn a really decent salary and perks. In 2008, for the first time, I contributed just slightly more than RM 100,000.00 to the national coffers in the form of Income Tax. It’s going to be the same in 2009, and possibly 2010 … perhaps until I retire. Because I know deep in my heart that BN/UMNO can never empathize with high income earners like me who dutifully pay income tax every year.

I really wonder how many of the BN/UMNO ‘orang korporat’ actually pay income tax. And even if they did, do their tax contributions commensurate with their living standards and high flying lifestyle?

Over the years, I have paid close to a million ringgit in Income Tax since I started working 30 years ago.

But I am disillusioned, sad, frustrated and terribly angry with BN and especially UMNO.

Collectively, UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan and the rest of the BN parties are looting Malaysia’s wealth, stoking racial sentiments, destroying our education system, fomenting religious strife, embarking on wasteful projects, breeding corruption, ridiculing democracy, prostituting the rule of law, and doing just about everything that a caring and democratic government should not be doing … with my tax contributions!!!!

Tell me:

  1. Why does the BN/UMNO government insist on wasteful mega projects that only enrich a handful of Malays and corrupts the entire system?
  1. Even if the intention is to make billionaires of a few Malays, why the extreme difficulty to conduct tenders transparently? What productivity can the nation get from wasteful, over-priced, and under-utilized or ‘white elephant’ projects?
  1. Why continuously blame the Chinese for being leeches and greedy? Being entrepreneurs by nature, they are just trying to survive in a rent-seeker environment that is being propagated by BN/UMNO. How do you expect the Chinese to survive as businessmen if BN/UMNO behaves like all government projects are the exclusive purview of Muslim Bumiputras?
  1. The constitution recognizes Malaysia as a secular nation. Just because Mahathir Mohd said something to the contrary, that does not mean it is constitutionally correct. In fact, it is highly seditious but our (dis) respected police and AG choose to ‘tutup satu mata’. But they did open their ‘mata’ when it came to victimizing Elizabeth Wong on some trumped-up accusation by an Indonesian ‘pendatang’.
  1. By all means reduce the number of illegal and unregistered Hindu shrines and roadside ‘empat nombor’ temples. BN/UMNO can temper that with a lot of understanding and assistance to relocate. But no, they insist on allocating land with insufficient parking space next to monsoon drains, sewerage and next to TNB high voltage lines for temples. What about the Christian community? Why must they only operate from shop-houses and industrial areas? Why is it so difficult for the Big and Little Napoleans in BN/UMNO to respect all religions and treat everyone fairly?
  1. Why do Chinese and Indian students largely have to study in private universities locally and overseas? Whatever happened to meritocracy and a decent education for all citizens? My first child never qualified for IPTA admission even with excellent results in the SPM. So she chose to study in an IPTS. My second child is overseas and I finance her education as it is within my means.
  1. I always told my kids not to apply for scholarships as they would only be depriving a more deserving student. But when I see senior (and not so senior) civil servants' and politicians' children being awarded government scholarships, my heart bleeds for the unfortunate Malay, Chinese and Indian students who have been deprived of a much-deserved scholarship. Why does BN/UMNO think that deserving students can only come from parents who work for the BN/UMNO government? Why treat children of parents working in the private sector as undeserving of scholarships? Why is it so difficult for BN/UMNO to be transparent by publishing names of children and parents who qualify for scholarships? Or will publishing the names constitute a breach of ‘national security’?
  1. Why must the education system, police, armed forces and (un)civil service be dominated by Malays? The BN/UMNO government appears bent on maintaining the >95% Malay racial composition. Why are the Bumiputras divided into Malay Muslims and non-Malay Muslims? Why am I, a 2nd generation non-Muslim, born and bred in Malaysia considered a non-Bumiputra? Why must my constitutional rights be less than Khir Toyo (Indonesian), Mahathir Mohd (Indian), Noh Mohd (Indian) and Najib (Indonesian)? Is this and Ridhuan Tee what 1Malaysia is all about?
  1. Why must the police force, MACC, AG’s chambers, and practically all government departments allow themselves to be manipulated by UMNO? Can’t they do and behave as civilized people do? Do civil servants owe allegiance to King and country or to BN/UNMO? Why are these truly (un)civil servants bent on propagating wrong-doing and corrupt acts?
  1. Oh, and the intelligence and caliber of our Cabinet Ministers, Mentris Besar, and civil servants (at all levels) … goodness me, I have seen incompetency over the years but such gross display of incompetency and utter stupidity from these bunch of looters and racial bigots are downright shameful and must be a ‘Malaysia Boleh’ record of sorts.

There are so many more "Why?s" I can ask.

Why am I constantly worrying about my kids' education and what the future holds for them?

Why am I constantly worrying about where the country is headed to with unfettered BN/UMNO corruption and thievery taking place?

Why am I constantly worrying whether my KWSP and local bank savings will be safe?

Why am I constantly worrying whether the police and armed forces will protect all citizens if ever BN/UMNO starts a racial disturbance?

‘Fairness and equality’ is not in the BN and UMNO’s vocabulary, and I definitely cannot trust this bunch of looting, thieving, conniving and parasitical politicians to take care of Malaysia’s interests any more. Last I heard they sold two jet engines; I guess they would even sell Putrajaya if they could!

So, very sadly, I have made arrangements to migrate after the next general elections (GE), whether late this year as RPK says, in 2011 or 2012.

It’s very simple really … if Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wins the GE, I will stay put in Malaysia as I really want to do all I can to contribute in cash, kind and deeds to nation rebuilding. I am in a position to help and I will help whether it is for Anwar, Zaid, Tok Guru, RPK , Malik, Harris or anyone worthy who becomes the next Prime Minister.

I am fully aware that PR will not be able to undo 52 years of damage to Malaysia in one term but I am pretty sure they will make a big difference during my lifetime. And I will stay to help bring that dream to fruition during my lifetime. That’s my promise.

But if the thieves, looters and racist bigots from BN/UMNO/MCA/MIC/Gerakan, etc somehow retain control of the Federal Government, my family and I will migrate after the GE.

If only you knew how much my heart cries for you, Malaysia ….

No sabotage in Umno building

(NST) KUALA LUMPUR: The missing letters from the word "Umno" atop its party headquarters at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) is a result of poor maintenance and not an act of sabotage, said Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

The missing letters on top of the Putra World Trade Centre.
The missing letters on top of the Putra World Trade Centre.

He said the party secretariat and Putrade Property Management Sdn Bhd (Putrade), which is the management company of PWTC, had been informed of the "damage".

He added that swift action would be taken to replace the missing letters.

"I have advised Datuk Abdul Rauf Yusof and Putrade on the matter after receiving a text message from someone this morning.

"I will make sure that it will be fixed immediately."

Yesterday, blogger Ahirudin Atan of Rocky's Bru posted pictures of the Umno headquarters with only the "NO" and "UO" signs on the sides of the building.

Some claimed on the blog that it was a sign of "the end of Umno" due to the "NO" sign.

Ahmad said it was just a coincidence that the sign formed such a word.

What Allah wants us to do: discover personacracy, dialogue inter-faithfully

If we take time amongst ourselves to understand each other through these lens of deeper levels of meaning, we will not need one religion or another to fight for the establishing of this or that religious state. The states we build will be the ones that will exist within ourselves.
Azly Rahman
How do we learn to tolerate each other in the scheme of our daily existence, and in our journey towards realizing the full potential of our emerging brand of multiculturalism?

How do we begin to think like a transculturalist in a nation that is increasingly becoming more and more diverse and in need of radical changes in the way we live, work, and play?

How do we teach ourselves the notion of meaningful democracy; one that is alive and closer to our heart’s desire so that we may feel it and become its good participants?

How do we make democracy personal and not, as a friend of mine terms it as “demon”-cracy, a form of government run by “demons” only interested in plundering the wealth of the nation?

We can begin by abandoning hatred and understanding what the Self constitutes.

Shed away seeds of hatred

We cannot become good parents if we conduct our daily conversations and acts of nurturing our children foundationed upon secret advices on how to sow the seeds of adversity towards people of other race and religion.

We cannot become good teachers and professors if we base our practice on the advancement of one preferred ethnic group over others, using methods of assessment/evaluation that is anti-humanistic and one that does not take into consideration diversity issues.

We cannot become good community leaders if we continue to design our economic policies from the perspective of institutionalized racism and suspicion of others.

We cannot build tolerant communities if, in the secret confines of our Watergate-like meeting rooms, we plot against this or that group, inspired by the political economy of Capitalist greed.

We cannot become good politicians if we continue to base our struggle on the shallow and narrow paradigm of communalism and religious intolerance and expect the nation to be one and indivisible.

We cannot practice race-based, religious-based politics and at the same time use the people's resources and the Ideological State Apparatuses to further institutionalize hate and use more sophisticated technologies of breeding hatred in the name of this or that form of nationalism or religious fervor.

We need to nurture the Merciful and the Compassionate self in us.

Nurture the Merciful and the Compassionate Self

The Self evolves through different levels of understanding of what humanism means. We journey from one station of the soul to the next, transmigrating from one realm of spiritual understanding to another. Moving from the level of awareness of being enslaved by those of higher status and symbol, we learn to evolve to an understanding that it is our economic system that has created the division of wealth and power.

The notion of the evolutionary self exists in all religious traditions.

The Bhagavad Gita teaches us eloquently about the beauty of the self, in the beautiful dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna in which the essence of the self can be understood once the self is ”destroyed” and becomes one with all Creation.

The Gospels of Jesus of Nazareth teaches us how to love others, to live with the Grace of God, to be at peace with oneself and others and to understand the nature of greed -- and not to go to war and destroy nations in the name of religion and nationalism..

The Granth Sahib teaches us love and compassion, true to its nature of being a philosophy of life based on the teachings of the mystic Muslim poet Kabir, and propagated by the work of Guru Nanak.

The Analects of Kung Fu Tze teaches us how to lead an ethical life, like a chuan tze or a gentleman and to honor the elders; provided that, I would say, the elders are not corrupt souls who uses his/her high places in power to subjugate others through lies, deceit, and despotic rule.

The teachings of Lao Tzi and Mencius show us how to lead a life closer to Nature and to the primordial self, so that we may learn what needs and wants are, and so that by not necessarily transforming Nature into Capital we may now sow the seed of Human destruction.

The Torah/Taurat, in its most mystical dimension of its teaching, through the philosophy of the kaballah, teaches us how to understand the self as how the Prophet Moses desired.

The Al Quran ul Karim, in its deepest meaning of love and compassion, exemplified by the phrase “In the name of Allah the Most Merciful, Most Compassionate” teaches us the beauty of the Self and to love others and to live a life of “siratul-mustaqim” – of living in the path of righteousness.

The Islamic teachings on truth, compassion, equality, and justice do not tolerate abuse of power in any form, nor does it tolerate the buying of votes worth billions of Ringgit. Nor does it in any way, tolerate hatred for other religions -- let alone suicide bombings or suicide by any name.

If we take time amongst ourselves to understand each other through these lens of deeper levels of meaning, we will not need one religion or another to fight for the establishing of this or that religious state. The states we build will be the ones that will exist within ourselves.

We will learn to become skillful “governors” of our own kingdom. We can have more meaningful inter-faith dialogues free from suspicions.

Rediscover personacracy

Where is “democracy” in the Merciful and the Compassionate Self?

Democracy is a difficult concept to practice and that we ought to craft our own government within ourselves. This will be a start in our effort to build a great architecture of the self in order to understand the self better and to connect to others in the overall scheme of understanding Humanity.

The self is corrupted; the nature of corruption it is larger than the ones we have been talking about these days [link to Isa Samad]. We have been corrupted largely by the economic condition we are structured into by the system of production and reproduction that also determines how we order our lives inter-ethnically, inter-racially, and inter-religiously.

The corrupted self corrupts itself first, and next, when given the power, design corrupt practices and ultimately produces systems that further corrupt generations of others that are already born into the systems.

“Know thyself and you will know God,” said a wise man. The first principle of religion is to understand the Supreme Creator/Eternal God, from whatever perspective one is borne into.

It is only when we learn to appreciate the mystical dimension of our own belief system that we will find the universal truth in all religions and grow up as fine young men and women into an adulthood of dignity, respect, tolerance, and wisdom.

We will not need a theocratic state – a liberal one based on a peaceful, humanistic, and meaningful socialistic principles will do.

The government of the Merciful and the Compassionate Self will have its own check and balances and its system of uncompromising ethics. This self can evolve into the Incorruptible Self.

Cleanse our personal and our nation’s soul

We need to weed out corrupt politicians. Each one of them is a cancerous cell.

We do not even need to continue reproducing and upholding the system of rampant, rambunctious, and race-based capitalism that rapes the human self and leave it stranded in the Malaysian super corridor of multimediated brands of human oppression.

We must not let the arteries of our free spirit be clogged by the filth of our capitalist greed that is now on a life-support system of corporate crony communal-based political-economic system. The local and the wide area network of our political-system is now corrupted to the core -- we will need a brand new system. This Malaysian house built fifty years ago now has termites in its foundation. We must build our habitat anew.

We continue to race faster amongst ourselves; inspired by the ideology of developmentalism that sanctions the rape of Nature to turn it into Human and Material Capital.

We continue to develop Technology to accelerate the exploitation process so that we may now be called a “bio-technological nation” after calling ourselves “industrialized” and “information-rich” nation imitating the pattern of economic growth we do not yet fully understand. We become poorer and poorer in our capability to stop, think, and reflect on the nature of the race we are caught in.

Our politicians have not read much. They are interested in perfecting the art and science of preservation of power and wealth. They are skilled translators of the “Ides of March” – of plotting downfalls based on the Shakespearean play, Julius Cesar. Our politicians are busy singing Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way” – a testimony of idiotic pride of self-centered politics of survival and mistrust.

Imagine how many schools can be built, houses for the poor constructed, social services improved, and financial aid for education disbursed if we translate the amount of money politicians spend in buying votes into meeting our basic needs? Is this the best standard of morality we are seeing from our leaders?

But we deserve them -- we voted them into power. We continue to engage in this ritual of a hollow democracy.

Our politicians continue to design policies that are anti-Nature and anti-Human Liberation. They have not acquired the language of critical analysis and reflective sociology and radical and humanistic transformation of society to steer us in the Middle Path of developmentalism -- a path of moderation much needed in the world run by warmongers and profiteers.

As a nation, we will one day have a massive heart attack as a consequence of the overheating of our engines of growth and by the carbon-monoxidal air of capitalist greed we have churned and we are then forced to breathe in and ultimately choke ourselves and our children to death.

The heat of developmentalism is too intense.

Each human self in the pecking order of this Malaysian system of capitalist greed is utilized and capitalized by the next person at the next level of power; so that more and more profit can be squeezed by those who own the signs and symbols of power. Human oppression becomes invisible – what exists is an invisible system of disciplining and punishing our mind and body so that the wheel of materialistic karma can continue to roll and bring humanity into the moksha of dehumanization.

Let us de-evolve from the current state of things; from this rat race couched in the language of Formula One of Shah Alam, a feature of this Informational Superhighway of Corporatist Developmentalism we mistakenly call “national progress”. This economic design is genetically altering our Natural Self.

Let Reason and Compassion rule. Man is endowed by these, to survive as a specie.

Let us leave the old world behind – there is a brave new world, inside of us, ahead. The world of personal democracy – of personacracy.

MACC police report against Dr. Pornthip – double test case for Selangor CPO Khalid and new MACC Chief Commissioner Abu Kassim

by Lim Kit Siang

Last week, Selangor Chief Police Officer Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar announced a second police report lodged by the police over the mysterious death of DAP political aide, Teoh Beng Hock at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Shah Alam on July 16 last year.

Khalid said the police would be hauling up the Selangor DAP State Chairman and Selangor State Exco member Ean Yong Hian Wah under Section 506 of the Penal Code and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for allegedly intimidating the police in “directing” the police to cease their investigation of Penang Chief Minister and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng for sedition.

Will Khalid direct the Selangor police to lodge a police report against himself, for Khalid had been guilty of the offence of publishing “false news” under the Printing Presses and Publications Act as Hian Wah never “directed” but merely urged the police to stop their baseless investigation of Guan Eng.

Three days earlier, the Selangor police had lodged police report against Guan Eng for his speech at the Pakatan Rakyat national convention on December 19 for expressing national sentiments that the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock was a case of murder.

On New Year’s Day, the MACC lodged two police reports over the Teoh Beng Hock case – one by MACC officer Hisham Mohd Yusoff against Suara Keadilan and the other by MACC officer Raub Ghani against Thai pathologist Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand for “leaking” information to unauthorised people on the forensic report of the second post-mortem on Teoh on Nov. 22.

In his police report, Raub said: “This report is made because every action of Dr. Pornthip was contrary to court’s decision and would further undermine MACC’s image”.

What Raub did not realise is that it is short-sighted and malicious actions like the MACC report against Dr. Pornthip which are responsible for plunging public confidence in the efficiency, independence and professionalism to a lower depth – especially as Dr. Pornthip has denied being responsible for any “leak” of information in an interview with Sin Chew Daily.

The question Malaysians want to know is whether the Selangor CPO Khalid will lodge or direct the Selangor police to lodge police report against MACC for trying to intimidate Thai pathologist Dr. Pornthip over her inquest testimony in October of 80 per cent probability that Teoh Beng Hock’s death was homicide and not suicide!

The MACC police report against Dr. Pornthip has in fact become double test case for Selangor CPO Khalid and the new MACC Chief Commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed.

Abu Kassim Mohamed cannot take the report by his MACC officer Raub against Dr. Pornthip lightly and pass the buck to the police, claiming, “If they have lodged police reports, let the police conduct their investigation”.

This is in fact Abu Kassim’s first critical test as the new MACC Chief – whether he approves of the police report lodged by MACC officer Raub against Dr. Pornthip with all the implications and consequences including the MACC endorsing or condoning the MACC being used to intimidate Dr. Pornthip from giving truthful testimony at the Teoh Beng Hock inquest.

As the new MACC chief, Abu Kassim cannot wash his hands and disclaim responsibility for a police report lodged by a MACC officer which further undermines public confidence in the MACC.

Either Abu Kassim assumes full responsibility for the MACC police report against Portnthip or he should direct the MACC police report to be withdrawn by Raub if it does not have sanction and authorization of the MACC and the MACC does not want to start off under him with a new scandal of the MACC maliciously trying to intimidate Dr. Pornthip from truthfully giving her expert testimony on the cause of Teoh Beng Hock’s death at the inquest.

Challenge Pairin In Next Election, Ongkili Tells DAP

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 3 (Bernama) -- The only way to get Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan to give up his position as the Member of Parliament for Keningau is to challenge him in the next election, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

In responding to the State DAP's call for Pairin, who is also the assemblyman for Tambunan, to give up his position as MP, Ongkili said Pairin was elected by the people and had been playing his role effectively.

"I think it is not for them to make such a call. Maybe just for one particular day he was not present in Parliament, but he still plays his role in a strategic manner through his networking, through his post as deputy chief minister.

"The MP post that he holds helps to enhance whatever networking he has to do at both the state and federal level.

"So, it does not affect his work at the state level. It is just that he has to do more and he has been doing that very well so I do not see why DAP should go and poke their noses (into his business)," he said when met at a media gathering organised by his ministry here Saturday night.

On New Year's Eve, State DAP Vice Chairman Edward Ewol Mujie and the party's publicity secretary Dr Edwin Bosi requested that Pairin, 70, who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president, resign as MP giving reasons that Pairin had too much on his plate as an assemblyman, as deputy chief minister and as the State Infrastructure Development Minister.

Ongkili, who is also PBS deputy president, said Pairin was elected fairly by the people of Keningau who decided that they wanted him as their respresentative.

"And knowing Datuk Pairin, he has always been a very responsible person in whatever post you give to him. He will use it to the maximum for the people," he added.

Thai pathologist, tabloid face probe

The New Straits Times (Used by permission)

SHAH ALAM: Two Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission officers lodged police reports against Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunan and Suara Keadilan yesterday for allegedly attempting to undermine the ongoing inquest into the death of Selangor political aide Teoh Beng Hock.

Hisham Mohd Yusoff, 30, and Raub Ghani, 41, of the Putrajaya MACC investigation branch, lodged the reports about 10.30am at the Shah Alam district police headquarters here over an article in the Parti Keadilan Rakyat newspaper which confirmed as murder the death of Teoh, who had been called for questioning by MACC.

Hisham said in his report that he read the article in the latest edition of the newspaper yesterday and found that the article concluded that Teoh, a political aide to a Selangor state executive councillor, had been murdered.

He said that according to the article, Teoh, who was found dead on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam on July 16 last year, was confirmed to have been murdered based on the second post-mortem conducted at Sungai Buloh Hospital on Nov 22 last year.

“As an MACC officer, I ask the police to conduct a thorough investigation in connection with the article by Suara Keadilan because I feel that what was circulated is sub judice and contrary to the ongoing inquest (into Teoh’s death).

“It is also in keeping with a reminder by the Selangor police chief prohibiting anyone from discussing the Teoh case,” Bernama quoted him as saying.

In the other police report, Raub said he lodged it against Dr Pornthip because he suspected that she had leaked the information on the forensic report to unauthorised people.

“This (police) report is made because every action of Dr Pornthip was contrary to the court’s decision and would further undermine M AC C ’s image,” he said in the repor t.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed, when contacted, said he had just resumed work after his leave and would ask for a report from his officers on the article as well as copies of the police reports.

“If they have lodged police reports, let the police conduct their investigation,” he said.

Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that two police reports had been made and that he would call up the Suara Keadilan reporter who wrote the article.

Urging everyone not to speculate, he said even if they knew the findings of an investigation, they were not supposed to divulge anything until the court heard it and made its decision.

He said policewould call the persons implicated in the police reports and would decide if these people should be cited under the Sedition Act, and if so it would be for the court to decide if they had committed contempt of court.

On July 16 last year, Teoh, 30, the political aide to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam after he had given a statement as a witness on alleged misuse of allocations for state assemblymen, at the MACC office located in the same building.

Te o h was buried four days later at the Nirvana Memorial Park in Semenyih, Selangor, but the body was exhumed four months later after the coroner allowed a second post-mortem on Nov 22.

The second port-mortem was conducted by Sungai Buloh Hospital Pathology Unit head Dr Shahidan Md Noor, with Dr Pornthip in attendance as an observer representing the Selangor government, while MACC was represented by independent forensic expert Prof Dr Peter Vanezis of the United Kingdom.

Protest at Allah verdict in Penang - Anil Netto

A group of about 200 Muslims protested this morning in Penang against the High Court verdict granting the Herald the right to use the term ‘Allah’.

The gathering, in front of the Dewan Sri Pinang, opposite the Penang High Court, began at 10.15am and ended before 11.15am, according to eyewitness. It was organised by the Badan Anti Inter-faith Council (Badai), and comprised representatives of various groups. Badai was the same loose group that gathered around 200 people and disrupted an Article 11 forum at a hotel in Penang in 2006.

Police, both uniformed and plainclothes, were out in numbers this morning, but the gathering, though emotionally charged, was peaceful.

The group called on the government and the Conference of Rulers to intervene.

Other Muslims, however, have different views. Check out Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad’s stand on the use of the term ‘Allah’.

Laughing matters for yoga teacher - Al jazeera

The Indian discipline of Yoga is not all stretching and meditation.

One Mumbai-based yoga teacher has developed "Laughter Yoga", and now he is on a social mission to get some of India's most disadvantaged people to smile.

Al Jazeera's Casey Kauffman reports from India.

Iran gives West nuclear ultimatum - Al Jazeera

Despite Mottaki's claim, Iran is not said to be able to turn low-enriched uranium to nuclear fuel [AFP]

Iran's foreign minister has given the West a one-month "ultimatum" to accept a uranium swap, giving warning that it will produce its own nuclear fuel for a Tehran reactor if there is no deal.

Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted by state television as saying on Saturday that the international community has just one month left to decide whether or not it will accept Iran's conditions.

"We have given them an ultimatum. There is one month left and that is by the end of January," he said.

Iran, which rejected a December 31 deadline to accept a UN-brokered deal, said on Tuesday it was ready to swap abroad its low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, while insisting that the exchange happen in stages.

Tehran had already rejected a proposal by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France for processing into fuel for the research reactor.

However, even if Tehran started working on the fuel production immediately, it would probably take years before it can master the technology to turn uranium, enriched to the level of 20 per cent, into rods that make the fuel.

Iran says it is ready for a fuel swap "in several stages," and, in late December, Mottaki said Iran was open to exchanging uranium on Turkish soil.

Under pressure

Earlier in December, Iran proposed to exchange 400kg of uranium on its Gulf island of Kish but the offer was dismissed by the US, with the IAEA already having ruled out swap on Iranian soil.

World powers have been pushing for Iran to accept the UN-brokered deal and are also mulling plans to impose fresh UN sanctions against Tehran after the country dismissed the year-end deadline.

Iran is already under three sets of UN sanctions for refusing to abandon its sensitive programme of uranium enrichment, the process which produces nuclear fuel or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

The UN has demanded Iran suspend all enrichment, a demand Tehran refuses, saying it has a right to develop the technology under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran has also defiantly announced it intends to build 10 new uranium enrichment sites, drawing a forceful rebuke from the UN nuclear watchdog agency and warnings of the possibility of new UN sanctions.

Umno slams PAS for undermining its outreach plans

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

HULU SELANGOR, Jan 2 — Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan today slammed PAS for trying to undermine the party’s “Umno Juara Rakyat” outreach programme with its own counter programme called “Umno Pengkhianat Rakyat”.

The political rivals are racing to get support from the split Malay electorate which forms 60 per cent of the population and the bulk particularly in rural areas.

“It’s very unbecoming of them,” the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said when responding to the Islamist party’s plans to counter Umno's "People’s Champion" initiative with its "People's Traitor" programme.

“That’s their mistake. We’re carrying out a positive programme to get close to the people while they are reacting negatively to hit out at us.

“Let them,” he said, adding the public would be the judge.

The programme is part of Umno’s effort to regained public support, which was lost in the last general election, ahead of fresh polls expected as early as next year.

Ahmad described Juara Rakyat as the “most important programme of the year for Umno”, saying it’s aimed at getting the party closer to all communities.

“We want to demonstrate that we are with the people and are here to handle all their problems and issues.”

Under the programme, all 191 Umno divisions will conduct simultaneous activities throughout the year with different monthly themes, starting with education this month and welfare in February.

For January, Umno divisions will concentrate on organising events to help students prepare for their exams or help schools in need, while next month they will shift their focus to helping welfare homes and the underprivileged.

Ahmad, who is organising chairman of the programme, said each Umno division will get allocations to carry out the events from the party headquarters.

Each Umno supreme council member has also agreed to adopt five divisions to ensure the success of the programme.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is schedule to kick off the programme here on Jan 9.

Ahmad said three days of activities have been planned and the party hopes to draw at least 15,000 people.

He also said it was only a coincidence that Hulu Selangor, where there is intense speculation of a possible by-election because of the ill health of MP Dr Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad, was selected as the venue to launch the programme.

Ahmad pointed out that Najib heads the Selangor Umno liaison committee and wanted a semi-rural venue for the launch, which was planned over a month ago.

The new initiative is similar to the Setia Bersama Rakyat (Semarak) campaign, launched after Umno split in 1987 by then-party secretary-general, the late Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, who coincidentally died yesterday.

Fight set to continue over use of ‘Allah’

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 – The Prime Minister’s Department, with the cooperation of the Home Ministry, will appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision in allowing the Catholic weekly magazine, Herald, to use the word “Allah” in its publication.

Its minister, Major-General (Rtd) Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom (pic), in advising Muslims and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to be calm and respect the court’s decision, said they should be patient and allow the matter to be resolved through the legal process.

“I’ll meet the NGOs soon to hear their views and to discuss further the matter with them,” he said in a statement today.

He was responding to the High Court decision on Thursday in allowing the Catholic weekly to use the word “Allah”.

Judge Datuk Lau Bee Lian had ruled that usage of the word was constitutional as long as the periodical was confined to educating the followers of the Christian faith.

On Feb 16 last year, Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam filed for a judicial review on the usage of the word “Allah” in the church’s publications, naming the Home Ministry and the government as respondents. He argued that the word “Allah” was not exclusive to the religion of Islam. – Bernama

Dr M: Use of ‘Allah’ must be strictly governed

KUALA TERENGGANU, Jan 2 – The High Court’s decision allowing a Catholic weekly publication to use the term “Allah” must be governed by strict conditions, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic).

Whatever justifications offered for the approval, he said, it would not diffuse the anger of Muslims in the country.

“This is because ‘God’ in other religions is translated as “Tuhan” in Bahasa Melayu or Arabic, not ‘Allah’. Allah’ specifically referred to God in Islam. If they understand that, they would use the word ‘Tuhan’, not ‘Allah’.

“I accept the term ‘Allah’ had been used in Sabah and Sarawak before the two states joined Malaysia, but it is difficult to stop them from doing so now ... but in the peninsula, we have not heard of such practice,” he told reporters after presenting a keynote address at the Malay Undergraduates Convention at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu here today.

On Friday, the High Court ruled that the Catholic weekly, The Herald, can use the term ‘Allah’ in its articles to propagate Christianity among its followers.

Judge Datuk Lau Bee Lian had ruled that usage of the term was constitutional as long as the periodical was confined to educate the followers of the Christian faith.

Dr Mahathir said, “What I am afraid of is that the term ‘Allah’ might be used in such a way that could inflame the anger of Muslims, if they were to use it on banners or write something that might not reflect Islam.”

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir extended his condolence to the family of former information minister Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat, who passed away yesterday.

“During his tenure as a minister, Allahyarham had carried out his work diligently and I appreciated his work.

“I am indebted to him as a minister in my cabinet before he was appointed Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia with ministerial status.” – Bernama

PM's department to appeal against "Allah" decision

(Bernama) -- The Prime Minister's Department, with the cooperation of the Home Ministry, will appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision in allowing the Catholic weekly magazine, Herald, to use the word "Allah" in its publication.

Its minister, Major-General (Rtd) Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom, in advising Muslims and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to be calm and respect the court's decision, said they should be patient and allow the matter to be resolved through the legal process.

"I'll meet the NGOs soon to hear their views and to discuss further the matter with them," he said in a statement today.

He was responding to the High Court decision on Thursday in allowing the Catholic weekly to use the word "Allah."

Judge Datuk Lau Bee Lian had ruled that usage of the word was constitutional as long as the periodical was confined to educate the followers of the Christian faith.

On Feb 16 last year, Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam filed for a judicial review on the usage of the word "Allah" in the church's publications, naming the Home Ministry and the government as respondents.

Is the NST saying that this is fiction?

The Malaysian government-owned New Straits Times says that Malaysia Today writes fiction and tries to pass them off as non-fiction. Is the story about the two missing RMAF engines actually ending up being sold to Iran and not stolen as alleged fiction? Is the second Statutory Declaration signed by a Chinese underworld figure reproduced below fiction?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

RAJA Petra Kamarudin's reign as king of Malaysian "gutter" journalism is still smouldering but only in his belligerent website, Malaysia Today, where legions of fanatical fans drool obsessively over his outlook and dross on who's who of national politics.

It does not matter what RPK postulates or who he assumes hostilities against: his prose is read and commented on with the fixation of piranhas devouring a hapless prey.

RPK has long dropped pretentions that his works are solidified by ethical journalistic standards. His mantra is to write whatever is plausible as long as there are enough suckers who believe in that plausibility.

True or false, right or wrong is not a cause, only an inconvenience. His legionnaires devour his stuff as the gospel truth anyway; with some commenters appearing to be bordering on being certifiable.

You don't look for rational debate or constructive criticism in Malaysia Today but if the blood and gore of politics is your preferred hors d'oeuvres, RPK's thoughts and his rabid following are the bottom feeders chomping on each other's contentious existence.

RPK is the expectorant of such atrocious chinwag that you'd think that he was hammering away one political thriller after another on his laptop on the same wavelength as Frederick Forsyth or Robert Ludlum, only that he deludes himself into thinking that his manuscripts are non-fiction. (Read more here).


Is NST saying that Malaysia Today writes fiction? What would you call the Statutory Declaration below then? This is the second SD from a Chinese underworld figure that Malaysia Today has published thus far. Further to that, there were another half-a-dozen SDs signed by police officers. Yet the AG and IGP have remained silent and have not responded to it.

MACC rapped over police report against Thai pathologist

(The Star) - The DAP has rapped the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for lodging a police report against Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand.

Secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said this was the first time a police report has been lodged against a pathologist, and termed it as “something unusual”.

“This is an act of intimidation. She must not be pressured but allowed to present her findings without fear or favour.

“By doing this, the MACC is giving the impression that it is covering up the truth or being influenced by certain quarters,” he told a press conference after launching the “No Plastic Bags on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday” campaign at Komtar here on Saturday.

It was reported that two MACC officers had lodged police reports against PKR party organ Suara Keadilan and Dr Pornthip over an article “confirming” that political aide Teoh Beng Huat was murdered.

Hisham Mohd Yusoff, 30, and Raub Ghani, 41, of the Putrajaya MACC investigation branch lodged the reports at the Shah Alam district police headquarters.

On July 16, Teoh, 30, the political aide to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead at the MACC office located on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam.

Teoh’s body was exhumed four months later after the coroner allowed a second post-mortem, which was conducted by Sungai Buloh Hospital Pathology Unit head Dr Shahidan Md Noor, with Dr Pornthip in attendance as an observer for the Selangor state government.


Are police reports by police/MACC against Guan Eng, Ean Yong, Dr. Pornthip and Suara Keadilan part of a high-level sinister design/conspiracy to clamp down and strike out at fair comments on important national issues?

Kim Kit Siang

On Christmas Eve, the Selangor Police lodged a police report of sedition against DAP Secretary-General and Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, for his speech at the Pakatan Rakyat national convention in Shah Alam on December 19 expressing national sentiments that the mysterious death of DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Shah Alam was a case of murder.

Three days later, the Selangor Chief Police Officer Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar alleged that the DAP Selangor Chairman and Selangor State Executive Councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah had “intimidated” the police in “directing” the police to stop their investigation of Guan Eng – when all that Ean Yong had done was to call on the police to stop their baseless investigation.

Yesterday, two MACC officers, Mohd Yusoff and Raub Ghani, lodged police reports against Suara Keadilan for an article in the Parti Keadilan Rakyat newspaper “which confirmed as murder the death of Teoh” as well as against Thai pathologist Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunan for “leaking” the information to unauthorised people the forensic report of the second post-mortem on Teoh on Nov. 22.

In the Top News of 2009 for the various media, Teoh Beng Hock invariably topped the list for his tragic death at the MACC headquarters last July.

One electronic media even named the MACC “the Malaysian of the Year” – not for the breakthrough it had achieved in fulfilling its parliamentary mandate to spearhead an anti-corruption drive to catapult Malaysia among the least-corrupt nations but for so dismally and disastrously failing its mandate, or as Malaysian Insider has put it, MACC “stood out as an unfortunate symbol of all that is wrong in the country, unkept promises”.

Collectively, the police and MACC reports against Guan Eng, Ean Yong, Dr. Pornthip character as they bespeak of a sinister design or conspiracy in high places to clamp down and strike out at fair comment on important issues and developments in the country.

Those in authority and power have got their priorities all wrong.

Instead of making Malaysians safe and secure in the streets, public places and even the privacy of their homes, so that gated communities are being dismantled instead of being installed at unprecedented rates in various parts of the country, the police are more pre-occupied with wasting precious police resources and man-hours on the political agenda of the Barisan Nasional to with its political opponents.

Instead of declaring war on corruption, the MACC continues to give top priority to its agenda as the catspaw of the Umno/Barisan Nasional political masters by declaring and continuing its war against the Pakatan Rakyat.

Unless the MACC can win public confidence by operating as an independent, non-partisan and professional anti-corruption body, it is heading for another run as top newsmaker in 2010 for perverting its statutory mandate and abusing the vast powers and resources entrusted to it by Parliament to combat corruption.

The police are also undergoing a similar crisis of public confidence.

'Allah' ruling opposed

(The Straits Times) - MUSLIM groups in Malaysia have voiced opposition to a court ruling allowing a Catholic paper the right to use the word 'Allah", and said on Saturday they plan to demonstrate.

Malaysia's high court ruled on Thursday that the Herald weekly had the right to use the word 'Allah' after a long-running dispute between the government and the paper in the Muslim-majority nation.

The Herald has been using the word 'Allah' as a translation for 'God' in its Malay-language section, but the government argued 'Allah' should be used only by Muslims. The court ruled the Catholic paper had the 'constitutional right' to use the word 'Allah', declaring the government's ban on the word 'illegal, null and void'. Government lawyers have not yet decided whether to appeal.

Muslim groups have opposed the ruling. 'The court decision is not right and we are planning to hold a major demonstration to protest this,' Syed Hassan Syed Ali, secretary general of Malay rights group Pribumi Perkasa told AFP. He and 50 other Malay activists held a small protest over the ruling outside a central mosque Friday.

'We fear that the court victory will mean that Christian missionaries will now use the word, confusing (the identity of) Muslims and undermining religious harmony,' he said.

Federation of Malay Students' Association advisor Reezal Merican said although the court decision had to be respected, the government needed to appeal it. 'We want to live in peace with all religions here but the word Allah has traditionally in Malaysia been used to represent the Muslim God, which is different from Christianity, and this must be addressed,' he told AFP.

Northern Perak state mufti Harussani Zakaria was also critical of the verdict, calling it 'an insult to Muslims in this country,' according to the influential Malay-language Utusan Malaysia newspaper.

Allah dibebaskan

By Haris Ibrahim,

One could be charitable and try to find some merit in the chastisement that one should not use God’s name in vain, but to be gagged and barred from ever uttering God’s name?


To shield the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, so that He might not have to Feel slighted at the mention of His name by those not bearing Malay-like names?

To place a wall between the Al-Mighty and His servants who do not bear Malay-like names?

Does God not have a say in this?

Say: “Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Neither speak thy Prayer aloud, nor speak it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between.” - Surah 17 verse 110 of the Holy Qur’an, as translated by Abdullah Yusof Ali.

To the Home Minister and his underlings, I am commanded to ask :

“Say: Bring your witnesses who should bear witness that Allah has forbidden this, then if they bear witness, do not bear witness with them; and follow not the low desires of those who reject Our communications and of those who do not believe in the hereafter, and they make (others) equal to their Lord” – Surah 6 verse 150 of the Holy Qur’an, as translated by Shakir.

It is ironic that in a nation that has acquiesced to the entrenchment of Islam as the religion of the same, it has required the honest adherence by a non-Muslim judge to her oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend its Constitution” to declare this unholy act of arrogance, by men holding high office and who profess to believe in Islam, to deny certain quarters their intimacies with their Creator, unsustainable, void and illegal, given that the supreme law of the land holds as sacrosanct and inviolable a man’s right to approach God as he will!

Was there no Muslim holding high office in this country who was equal to this task?

The judgment, it seems to me, implicitly, at least, acknowledges that God, whether called upon as Allah, or Rahman, or any of the other finest names that belong to Him, is not the monopoly of any one faith.

Will the judgment survive the appeal process?

God knows.

The rest of us can only make educated guesses.

Meanwhile, every man, woman and child in this land is free to go before God as he or she will.

God’s free, too.

For now, at least.

Dr Tiki Supports Call For Bidayuh To Fill Vacant Deputy Minister's Post

KUCHING, Jan 2 (Bernama) - Former Deputy Rural and Regional Minister Datuk Dr Tiki Lafe backs the call for a Bidayuh to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Deputy Tourism Minister, Datuk Seri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib.

Dr Tiki, who is also the National Service Training Council chairman, however, ruled himself out for consideration for the post, as he was "happy with the National Service in molding today's youth to be future leaders."

"It's the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak)'s prerogative. We cannot push.

"But with Sarawak to hold its state election soon, the voice of the Bidayuh grassroots must be given some consideration as every community would like to have their own representative at the federal level in order to have easy access to the top leadership," he said at the Kuching International Airport here after receiving 81 National Service (NS) trainees from the 7/2010 series who arrived from Kuala Lumpur here Saturday.

Dr Tiki was the first Bidayuh to be appointed as a deputy minister and served two terms before being dropped from the cabinet line up after the 2008 General Election.

The Mas Gading Member of Parliament was responding to reporters question on Bidayuh community leader Datuk Peter Minos' hope that a MP from the community would be appointed to fill the vacancy created by Sulaiman of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), who quit effectively on Dec 14, citing personal reasons.

The Bidayuh, the fourth largest community in Sarawak, after the Iban, Chinese and Malays, are represented in Parliament by Dr Tiki (Sarawak Progressive Democratic), Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit of PBB in Mambong and Datuk Richard Riot of the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) in Serian.

Tanah Rata Assemblyman Joins Gerakan

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 (Bernama) -- Ho Yip Kap, the independent state assemblyman for Tanah Rata in Pahang has officially joined Gerakan, a Barisan Nasional (BN) component party.

Announcing this in a statement here on Saturday, Pahang Gerakan state liason committee chairman Datuk Dr Ng Keong Chye said Ho's decision to join Gerakan was made after due consideration to his supporters and grassroots' views.

"We are proud with his decision to pick Gerakan as a new platform for him to serve the people, especially the constituents of Tanah Rata, despite him being approached by opposition parties.

"I believe we can work as a team for the benefit of the people," Ng said.

He said Ho's decision proved that many people still believed in Gerakan's ideology and its political struggles to unite the people,irrespective of race, gender and religion to build a united, fair, just, liberal and progressive nation.

Ng said Gerakan would fully support Ho, a former headmaster, in continuing his efforts to fight for the welfare of his constituents.

With Ho joining Gerakan, THE Barisan Nasional now 38 seats in the 42-seat Pahang State Legislative Assembly. PAS and DAP have two seats each.

Augustine Paul's role will not be forgotten - Anil Netto

Federal Court judge Augustine Paul, who passed away yesterday, will be remembered by many Malaysians for his role in the Anwar trial during the reformasi era.

His frequent use of the word “irrelevant” during the Anwar corruption trial whenever Anwar’s defence counsel wanted to raise what they felt was pertinent evidence soon resulted in the word becoming something of a sarcastic buzz-word in Malaysia. Following his guilty verdict on Anwar, Paul’s subsequent meteoric rise up the judicial ranks raised eyebrows.

One of his last major decisions was in the case of Kampung Buah Pala, where some 300 residents were facing eviction and the demolition of their village. On 24 June 2009, Federal Court judges Paul, Hashim Yusoff and Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusoff dashed the villagers’ hopes by unanimously rejecting their application for leave to appeal against a Court of Appeal decision that had overturned a landmark High Court verdict in their favour.

Augustine Paul reportedly dismissed the villagers’ leave application after holding that the issue of locus standi (legal standing) of the residents on the land had not been adequately addressed.

It was a decision that effectively killed off the villagers’ legal challenge and spelt the death knell for their historical settlement.

Three months later, by mid-September 2009, the developer’s demolition team had smashed the village to rubble amidst traumatic scenes among the villagers.

Just over three months later, on 2 January 2010, Paul passed away – about a decade after delivering a 394-page guilty judgment and imposing a six-year jail sentence on Anwar.

Paul’s funeral will be held at an Anglican church, St Peter’s, in KL this afternoon. He had previously attended Sunday Masses at a Catholic church, St Francis Xavier’s, in PJ.