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Monday, January 4, 2010

Newark terminal locked down; search continues for man

(CNN) -- Hours after a security breach forced the closure of a terminal at the Newark, New Jersey, airport Sunday, authorities were still searching for a man who went the wrong way through a checkpoint exit.

The incident happened at about 5:20 p.m. at Terminal C, when an individual walked from the public side to the secure "sterile" side for passengers who had cleared screening, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

No flights were allowed to leave from Terminal C Sunday evening and thousands of other travelers who had reached the sterile area after going through checkpoints were moved back to the public area to be re-screened, the TSA said.

Authorities are reviewing video from airport cameras. They are not sure whether the man was once on the sterile side and went back, or if he never went through screening, TSA spokeswoman Anne Davis said.

Watch more about the situation in Newark Video

The incident caused arrival delays and mainly affected Continental Airlines, which is the airport's largest tenant.

CNN's Alina Cho, who arrived at the airport Saturday night on a flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, described the hectic scene: "For the people who are hoping to fly out of Newark this evening, there is not a lot of movement."

She said many passengers who had already boarded outgoing flights had to get off planes to be re-screened.

"I just saw one woman pleading with a gate agent, saying that she had two small children and a heart condition -- that she simply could not take this," Cho said. "But of course, there will be no exceptions."

Flying Continental? Important company notice

Newark Liberty International Airport, which is about 15 miles from Manhattan, is the second-largest hub for Continental.

The airport handles about 35 million passengers a year.

Non Inclusion of Indians in Felda Schemes and Opportunities

Felda settlers children (malay muslims) to have their own homes. But the pre-existing plantation Indians have almost completely been excluded from these Felda 10 acre land ownership schemes or an opportunity for their children to own their own houses.

P. Uthayakumar

Protem Sec-Gen, Human Rights Party

felda

DAP Penang - No to Indian squatters’ flats.


The Indians under the UMNO Gerakan regime in Penang suffered for 52 long years. And now under the DAP regime not very much different; it seems to have changed. The DAP Penang destroyed Kg. Buah Pala, the last Indian traditional village in Penang, and now the Mak Madin Rumah Hijau long-houses and many many more.

P. Uthayakumar

Protem Sec-Gen, Human Rights Party

dap-penang

DPM urges calm over ‘Allah’ issue

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) today urged Malaysians not to make rash statements regarding the High Court decision allowing the use of the word “Allah” in the Catholic weekly Herald.

His statement came as more than 30,000 accounts signed up in a Facebook page to pressure the government to reverse the Dec 31 court ruling.

The government has said it will appeal against Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan's judgment that the weekly had a constitutional right to use “Allah” to describe the Christian God in the national language.

Islamist party PAS will meet tonight to make its official stand on the issue after several leaders gave differing views.

A number of Muslim Malaysians have also criticised their co-religionists who support the Herald's right to use “Allah”.

PM calls for calm as debate rages on

Najib wants the matter to be resolved through the court process. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday called for calm as a fiery debate continued to rage over the High Court's ruling allowing a Christian publication to use “Allah” to denote God in Christianity.

He said the government was aware of the sensitivities among Muslims and would be appealing against the decision. “We need to be calm and allow the matter to be resolved through the court process,” he told reporters in Pekan.

The court decision has left Muslims bitterly divided. Many Muslim politicians on both sides have spoken out against the ruling, but there are also Muslims, including members of the opposition PAS, who support it.

The High Court last Thursday lifted the Home Minister's ban on the Catholic Church's use of “Allah” to denote God in its newspaper Herald.

The Church had gone to court after the ban was imposed in 2007, arguing that the word “Allah” is a generic Arabic word for God and predates Islam.

The emotive debate has caused tension within the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance which has a history of squabbling over Islamic issues. Some of its leaders, such as PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, have reportedly said it was permissible for followers of Abrahamic faiths to use “Allah”.

However, Nik Aziz also said it could be misused, and a dialogue should thus be held between Muslim and Christian leaders.

But many in the opposition did not agree, and the ensuing debate has led to several opposition leaders trading insults between themselves.

PKR MP Zulkifli Noordin told fellow opposition MP Khalid Samad to resign from PAS after the latter said both Muslims and non-Muslims have used the word “Allah”.

Zulkifli said Khalid had destroyed the image of PAS as an Islamic party, and should join the Chinese-based DAP instead.

Khalid, in return, told Zulkifli to quit PKR and join PAS if he wanted to comment on issues relating to the Islamic party.

To complicate matters, PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa yesterday said Muslims should set aside partisan politics over this matter.

“The court decision is not only against the Constitution but it also goes against our faith, and this cannot be accepted,” he told Utusan Malaysia.

As Nasharudin had earlier courted controversy by holding “unity talks” with arch-rival Umno, this view will ring alarm bells in the opposition.

But as tensions rise in PR, Umno is taking a more cautious line. Its senior leaders, including Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim, Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Mansor and Umno women's chief Datuk Shahrizat Jalil, are treading carefully.

Rais said the issue should not be debated in a manner that could damage race relations, while Tengku Adnan also urged restraint.

Beyond the political realm, Muslims also appear to be greatly divided, going by the debate on the Internet. A number, who are against the ruling, argued that while the word “Allah” may have predated Islam, it is strongly associated with Islam in the Malaysian context. They also argue that it may lead to confusion among Muslims.

“What more when it's used in the context of Christianity which has a 'special relationship' with Islam,” columnist Ziad Razak wrote in a news website. But Datuk Marina Mahathir, daughter of former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, disagreed and described those mourning the “loss” of the word “Allah” as 'idiots'.

“A confident Muslim will not walk into a church, hear a liturgy in Malay or Arabic where they use the word 'Allah' and then think that he or she is in a mosque. A confident Muslim knows the difference,” she wrote in her blog. — The Straits Times

Raja Petra hanya pandai propaganda tetapi pengecut

(Utusan Malaysia) Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin akan terus menjadi buruan polis walau di mana beliau berada. Pengendali laman web Malaysia Today yang menghilangkan diri sejak lapan bulan lalu itu mesti dibawa pulang untuk menjalani tuduhan di mahkamah.

Perkara ini adalah suatu tindakan yang wajib dilaksanakan. Raja Petra tidak boleh dibiar bebas membuat tuduhan yang menjejaskan nama baik individu dan negara.

Apa yang paling kita bimbangkan ialah perbuatannya menyebar dakyah dan membuat propaganda menghasut rakyat supaya membenci pemimpin tertinggi negara.

Bagaimana seorang yang berketurunan raja tergamak menggesa rakyat menghapuskan sistem beraja dan membentuk republik yang ditulisnya di dalam Malaysian Today.

Di dalam Go Malaysian (gomalaysian.blogspot.com) Raja Petra menulis, negara memerlukan sekurang-kurangnya satu atau dua generasi lagi sebelum orang Melayu berasa selesa untuk berbincang tentang penghapusan system beraja dan mengubah Malaysia menjadi sebuah republik.

Katanya, ini pasti akan berlaku kerana sistem beraja termasuk raja berperlembagaan adalah sistem yang sudah ketinggalan zaman.

Perbuatan tidak sayangkan bangsa Melayu itu adalah hak Raja Petra tetapi ia tidak boleh menghasut orang lain supaya membenci sistem beraja di Malaysia.

Seperti biasa, lelaki yang kuat bermain dengan propaganda itu tidak bertanggungjawab sebaliknya pengecut.

Sampai sekarang beliau tidak menghormati undang-undang. Sampai bila orang buruan dan pelarian ini mahu bersembunyi.

Tidak usah percaya kepada orang ini, beliau tidak memegang kata-katanya sendiri tentang ketelusan dan kebebasan bersuara serta memegang prinsip mencari keadilan.

Jika Raja Petra orang yang benar, tidak perlu beliau cabut lari daripada berhadapan dengan sistem keadilan negara ini.

Kalau tuduhannya terhadap isteri Perdana Menteri, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor bukan bersifat hasutan atau fitnah, maka dia perlu ke muka pengadilan membuktikan dirinya adalah benar.

Sebaliknya, apa yang dilakukan oleh Raja Petra ialah menghilangkan diri selepas dua waran tangkap dikeluarkan terhadapnya kerana gagal hadir ke

mahkamah pada 23 April dan 23 Mei 2009 lalu bagi perbicaraan menerbitkan artikel berbaur hasutan dan memfitnah isteri Perdana Menteri, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Selain Rosmah, Raja Petra didakwa memfitnah pengawal pengiring isteri Perdana Menteri itu, Leftenan Kolonel Abdul Aziz Buyong dan isterinya, Leftenan Kolonel Norhayati Hassan.

Kita menaruh keyakinan pihak polis Malaysia tidak akan menghentikan usaha mengesan Raja Petra selagi waran penahanannya masih ada.

Raja Petra kini adalah seorang pelarian memandangkan semua dokumen termasuk pasportnya dirampas selepas beliau disahkan muflis.

Hakikatnya Raja Petra adalah orang yang terdesak. Dan kita boleh memahami kenapa beliau melarikan diri. Ini adalah kerana Raja Petra sendiri menunjukkan dirinya telah melakukan perkara yang tidak betul dan melanggar undang-undang.

Kita akan lihat dan menunggu sampai bila Raja Petra hendak melarikan diri.

Sepandai-pandai tupai melompat, akhirnya akan jatuh ke tanah juga.

Smart schools, sick schools

Now we hear that many schools do not have water and electricity supply, let alone computers to make the schools and students smart. I think our children deserve better than empty promises by the ministry in charge of human intelligence and social reproduction.
A REPUBLIC OF VIRTUE
Azly Rahman

I read this excerpt of an AFP news story below sometime ago.

‘... One-third of Malaysia's schools do not have water and electricity, a minister said, pledging to fix the problem by 2010....

‘Deputy Education Minister Razali Ismail told Bernama that all 9,806 schools will have access to basic utilities by the end of a four-year education development plan....70 percent of schools already have access to water and electricity. The other 30 percent are mostly located in rural areas, but “we are confident the problem will be solved by 2010".

...Malaysia has implemented a series of five-year development plans with the aim of reaching developed-nation status by 2020..In the last national blueprint, announced in 2006, the government said RM1.15 billion would be spent to upgrade schools.’

All we continue to hear are slogans such as "1Malaysia", ‘2010', ‘Vision 2020', ‘developed-nation status’ and ‘billions of ringgit of funding’.

These cloud our vision of what schools ought to be. It is as if there is a ‘manufactured crisis’ going on: keep schools impoverished so that the government can keep making promises using empty slogans. The aim: only this government can continue to help those poor schools. This is the nature of mystification we have been fed with all these decades.

I recall then Education Minister Najib Abdul Razak making a statement about "smart schools" - that the first Smart School is being built at a cost of RM144.5 million. Apart from being wired, it would have a hostel for 800 students, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a hockey pitch, a hall and other facilities. Eventually all Malaysian schools will be operated on this concept.

Now we hear that many schools do not have water and electricity supply, let alone computers to make the schools and students smart. I think our children deserve better than empty promises by the ministry in charge of human intelligence and social reproduction.

What has that ministry done since Merdeka to allow schools to be left in such a state? What paradigm of nationwide school improvement has the ministry been using in order to create such a deformed version of democracy and education?

Is it a strategic plan to ensure that children of the poor will continue to perform the worst under such conditions, and that schools equipped with state-of-the-art technologies are select ones for children of the elite?

No wonder we have an increasing number of Mat and Minah Rempit, Along and gangsters - they were educated in the most deplorable circumstances perhaps. They were schooled in environments with teachers who are not committed and motivated, but also imprisoned in classrooms that do not have the basic amenities compared to ‘smart schools’.

Overhaul long overdue

It is simply unacceptable for this government to allow class stratification; schools not only become the stratifier of ethnic groups but also of classes of the poor, through the unequal distribution of resources. This is characteristic of the hideous form of schooling in Asian-style capitalist societies.

How can we develop the child's intelligence to the fullest if schools are designed to fail them miserably?

We must demand the exposure of the conditions of the schools - which schools get access to what and why. We must demand a comprehensive picture on why our schools are failing and unable to produce children smart enough to bring their intelligence, ethics, and problem-solving skills to the university and beyond an succeed in a world that is challenging.

The new governments of the Pakatan Rakyat must undo what the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has done to the most under-privileged schools. They must gather data on what is lacking in the schools and how resources are shared.

Certainly, if the situation has been exacerbated over the last 30 years of BN rule, how are we to see any changes in class and classroom stratification in the next 30 years?

We see many projects like the Petronas Twin Towers, Multimedia Super Corridor, Monsoon Cup and Iskandar Malaysia carried out as fast, so that governmentally-linked companies can make money for the select few.

Why does comprehensive school reform take ages to be implemented? This is the ‘prison-industrial complex’ approach we are taking in implementing national educational policy.

By maintaining the sense of deprivation of the physical, psychological and intellectual aspects of the schools, we hope to produce more of those citizens who will be desperate enough to find ways to be and become like the successful ones, but through desperate means.

We are creating a larger underclass tempted by materialism in a system created to encourage conspicuous consumption - these citizens produced out of the smart schools-sick schools system.

What then must we do to heal the system, to make our sick school smarter? This is for the education ministry and progressive parliamentarians to answer.

Mission: To stop the political money machine

By R B Bhattacharjee, The Edge

HE who holds the aces seldom asks for a change of hand, a wit once said. This surely applies to the actors whose well-being depends on the political status quo remaining as it is.


One example can be seen in the yawning gap between the thinking of reform-minded opinion leaders and representatives of the old order on the question of fixing the Malaysian political system.

The evidence was on display when two public officials spoke at a recent conference on political financing, reflecting how much they were at odds with the rest of the speakers, who all pointed to the need for a radical change in the way political affairs are conducted in the country.

The two senior officials, from the Election Commission (EC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), quite inadvertently hewed to the same line: that their authority was restricted by the electoral laws, which left them powerless to prevent the abuse of campaign financing.

In contrast, other speakers at the first-ever National Conference on Challenges for Institutional and Legislative Reforms in Political Financing in Malaysia, organised at end-November by Transparency International — Malaysia (TI-M), pressed for a complete overhaul of the system in order to cut out corruption at its roots.

There are two basic problems with political financing in the country, as Dr Mavis Puthucheary, a former academic and political analyst told the conference.

One is that the law limits the spending by the candidate and not of his/her party. Two is that there is no authority assigned with the responsibility for monitoring and enforcing the electoral expenses of candidates.

In addition to these and other legislative weaknesses, Dr Edmund Terence Gomez, professor of political economy at Universiti Malaya, identified several dangerous trends in the political environment.

First is the growing monetisation of politics, where large sums of private funding is seeping into the political arena. Second is the issue of unequal access, which allows those with greater capacity to obtain funds to ascend the political hierarchy and win seats in the elections.

Third is the worrying allegations of covert funding of parties and politicians and fourth, the emergence of money-based factionalism which is threatening the existence of parties and undermining public confidence in politicians.

Compounding the problem is the involvement of political parties in business, and their ownership of media organisations, Gomez said.

Such weighty issues surely require a major review of institutions and laws. This, in turn, can come about only when the larger society becomes sufficiently motivated to press for a change in the country's governance.

In contrast to these stark analyses, EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar emphasised the limitations placed on the authority by the Elections Commission Act.

Among other things, he held that it is not the EC's responsibility to verify the accounts of previous campaign expenditures submitted by a candidate, but for his opponents to do so.

The MACC director of excellence and professionalism Abdul Wahab Abdul Aziz expressed similar reservations.

Although he won praises for sacrificing his leave to return from an outstation trip in order to speak at the conference, his stand, however, was truly revealing of the lack of political will to act against the unethical use of money in election campaigning.

Both of them are correct only in the letter of the law, but miserably off the mark in addressing the violation of the basic principles of ethical conduct and good governance, and in ensuring that the public interest is protected under their watch.

Certainly, there is little chance of change if a piecemeal approach is adopted to the problem. Only a holistic response, encompassing institutional and legislative reforms, and the promotion of fundamental liberties, including free access to information, can lead to real progress.

In this light, Transparency International's project on political financing is aptly named Crinis, which is Latin for "ray of light", because only with transparency can the shady goings-on in political funding be kept in check and not destroy the country's institutional checks and balances.

THE WEALTH OF NATIONS


1. Adam Smith wrote about the above title a long time ago (1757). He talked about invisible hands which were instrumental in growing the wealth of nations.

2. In the latest financial crisis in the United States the invisible hands certainly played a big role. It took the form of abuses of the banking, monetary and financial system.

3. Pushed out of the international market place by the cheaper and better manufactured goods of the East Asian countries the West turned towards the financial system in order to enrich themselves. The opportunities for abuses were abundant.

4. They discovered that banks could create money out of thin air; without Government control (free market) any amount of loans of non-existent money could be given by the banks; the sale of commodities need not involve the commodities at all. It is the same with selling shares and currencies; having physical possession is not necessary. Sell and buy imaginary shares and make tons of profit.

5. Their fertile brain soon gave birth to hedge funds, short selling, leveraged purchases, junk bonds, currency trade, free markets etc etc.

6. All these systems promised great wealth to speculators and manipulators without the need to produce or possess anything. Better still they need not employ substantial number of workers who may make demands and threaten business with industrial action.

7. A good example is the trade in commodities. Without possession of the physical commodity, a speculator may sell huge quantities of it. The effect of this dumping is to depress the price of the commodity. When the price reached a low level the sellers would buy the commodity to deliver to the buyers that they had sold to earlier at a higher price. Thus without ever touching or seeing, much less possessing the commodity, the manipulators would make handsome profits. They call this short selling and the public is persuaded that this is fair trade.

8. Individuals cannot do this. The amount of money involved is too big. So funds were set up and managed by smart people.

9. The fate of the real producers is not the concern of these fund managers. As the price of the commodity become depressed the producer countries and their people would suffer.

10. If the producer country bought the non-existent commodity from the speculators at the low prices for future delivery, and if at the delivery date the speculators could not deliver the commodity, they would be forced to buy the physical commodity at prices higher than they had sold. They would lose money. This is as it should be. But no. Their market controllers would save them by declaring that they need not honour their contracts.

11. This was what happened when tin prices were depressed through the short selling of non-existent tin by the speculators. In desperation Malaysia bought the tin knowing that the sellers had no physical tin, whereas Malaysia had. When the delivery date arrived the sellers would be forced to buy physical tin from Malaysia at Malaysian prices in order to deliver. The price of the physical (real) tin would of course be higher. The sellers would lose money having to purchase at the higher prices in order to deliver to the buyers (Malaysia) at the lower prices.

12. When the short sellers faced this threat of losing a lot of money from their short selling price depressing activities, the London Metal Exchange which controlled the market ruled that the sellers need not honour their contract to deliver physical tin, allegedly because the purchasers were trying to corner the market.

13. Clearly the players in the financial market are protected. They can make tons of money selling non-existent commodities but they need not deliver if they have no physical commodities.

14. And so the financial market expanded until it became much bigger than the real market. The trade in currencies for example is twenty times bigger than total world trade. Hedge funds, through mysterious investments pay as much as 30% to their investors. Pyramid schemes gave huge returns and banks calculate their earnings on the amount of money they lent out, whether the borrowers were able to pay or not.

15. There were numerous schemes which gave huge profits to the investors, far more than investments in the production of goods and services.

16. With these financial schemes the wealth of these developed countries and their rich investors appeared to grow at a high rate every year and the people appeared to have the capacity to buy unlimited amounts of imported goods. These countries were apparently the locomotives of growth for the whole world.

17. Then the balloons bursts. The sub-prime borrowers, millions of them were unable to pay the housing loans they had taken. Neither could they borrow from other banks to repay their debts. The banks became saddled with huge non-performing loans and were headed for bankruptcy. Like a house of cards, the whole financial market collapsed. The crisis that followed is common knowledge now.

18. The wealth of the West, acquired through the financial market is not real wealth. Their Per Capita and GDP figure are not based on reality. Their money also has a bloated value, guaranteed by no reserves or gold. (Their money is truly fiat money).

19. Their Governments were forced to bail out their banks and companies with trillions of dollars. It can be said that their Presidents and Prime Ministers are all responsible for the trillions of dollars lost by their countries.

20. I am waiting for a good unemployed journalist to investigate and write a book on these leaders who presided over the trillion-dollar losses by their countries.

Regaining our Malaysian voice

thenutgraph.com


(Pic by Yamamoto Ortiz / sxc.hu)
MY New Year wish for all Malaysians is that we will regain our voice.

We face an uncertain 2010. But if we are to become politically stable and economically secure, it is now, more than ever, that we need to be able to be openly critical of outdated policies and draconian laws.

So what's holding us back? Why do so many Malaysians have their ideas about what's going wrong with the country, and yet so few dare to say it out in the open? When and how did Malaysians lose their collective voice?

A free press

I know someone who has been switching between The Star and New Straits Times every two years for the past 20 years. This is the average time it takes for him to get fed up with the content of one paper before switching to the other, only to switch back again two years afterwards. With the government-linked print media's overtly pro-Barisan Nasional stance, reading the newspaper, especially during election time, feels more and more like reading a government newsletter, only with lots of advertisements.

So why isn't our press more independent? Why has the print media abdicated its role of holding the government to account? The truth is, our print media is controlled by such a broad spectrum of laws that it is a wonder they are able to publish anything political at all.

Tightly controlled

Leading the pack of laws controlling the print media is the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA), which requires all newspapers to obtain a permit from the home minister before publishing. Failure to do so is an imprisonable offence. Newspapers can also be issued show-cause letters at any time under the PPPA. The threat of being denied an annual permit and putting hundreds of jobs at risk is a powerful tool indeed in forcing self-censorship among the print media.


Lim Guan Eng (File pic)
Next, there is the Sedition Act 1948, which makes it an offence to publish anything that "excites disaffection" against the monarchy, or government, or administration of justice, or that questions the special privileges of Malay Malaysians. For example, blogger Syed Azidi Syed Aziz, better known as Sheih Kickdefella, was arrested for sedition in September 2008. In 1998, current Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was imprisoned under this act because he criticised the way the government handled allegations of statutory rape made against former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik.

There is also the Internal Security Act 1960, where anyone can be detained to prevent them from acting in any manner prejudicial to "national security". In 2008, Sin Chew Daily news reporter Tan Hoon Cheng was ostensibly detained "for her own good" after writing a news story on offensive remarks by Umno member Datuk Ahmad Ismail.


Ahmad Ismail (Courtesy of Oriental Daily)
The Official Secrets Act 1972 allows government documents to be classified "secret" and any publication of such information is illegal. Former Parti Keadilan Rakyat Youth chief Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor was sentenced to jail for two years under this act. His conviction, which was later overturned, was for reading out "secret" information on corruption investigations involving Rahim and Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

While all these laws exist, other laws that would ensure greater transparency are absent. For example, the lack of freedom of information legislation allows government ministers and departments the impunity to ignore journalists' legitimate requests for information.

Media attacked

A combination of the repressive laws cited above was utilised in 1987 to detain politicians and activists without trial in the now infamous Operasi Lalang during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's premiership. These repressive laws were also used at the same time to shut down The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan.

Editors of newspapers are constantly subjected to Home Ministry "briefings", where "guidelines" are issued on what should or should not be published. These are only "guidelines", but considering they are issued by the same person who issues the publishing permits each year, breaching them would be risky business indeed.

To top it all off, most of the print media have been gradually bought over, directly or indirectly, by political parties. As if losing one's liberty was an insufficient threat, political masters can also threaten editors and journalists with losing their livelihoods. And often when political regimes change, so do editorial regimes in some political party-owned newspapers.


Hishammuddin (Courtesy of theSun)
Online not spared

The online media has not been spared government efforts to control its content. Although there is no need for the online media to obtain permits under the PPPA, all of the other repressive controls can still be applied.

For example, Malaysiakini's offices were raided in 2003 under the Sedition Act. Most recently, they were investigated under the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 for publishing two videos. The first was of the Shah Alam cow-head protest, and the second, of Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein holding a press conference with the protesters standing behind him.

Strategies for speaking up

How do we overcome all these controls and regain our right to speak?

Obviously, all the repressive laws that violate the spirit of the constitution in guaranteeing freedom of speech need to be abolished. And personally, I wish political parties were barred from owning shares in the media.

But these can only happen if Malaysians speak up for what they believe is right.

We can write to our elected representatives and hold them to account for the repressive laws that are still around. We can even write to the editors of newspapers and tell them how we feel. To make the process transparent and accountable, we can republish these letters on our Facebook accounts or on blogs, or alert our followers on Twitter.


(Pic by Nouk / Dreamstime)
Some might say this is futile — our politicians and editors will not listen. Of course, if someone were to rant and make personal insults at me all day long, I would tune out immediately. But if someone could point out where I've gone wrong, backed with facts and without getting personal, I would be compelled to at least listen with an open mind. So, perhaps this is how we can engage with editors and politicians and hold them accountable without reaching a stalemate.

If all else fails, we have to remember that newspapers are only as strong as their circulation figures. So, we can also speak with our ringgit. If a particular newspaper continues to report irresponsibly, we can seek out alternatives that are truthful, fair and balanced.

Newspapers are supposed to be a civic forum for all of us to get accurate and balanced information, and for our voices to be heard. When the press is unable to perform this function, perhaps we have to start performing it ourselves.

Rakyat Terus Dibeban Kenaikan Harga Barang

Dari TV Selangor

Tinjauan Detik Selangor, buletin harian hanya di TVSelangor.com, siaran secara langsung TV sesawang maya ini, mendapati rungutan ramai kalangan rakyat bahawa mereka terus dibeban dengan kenaikan harga barang pengguna, khususnya kenaikan harga gula sejumlah 20 sen sekilo, berkuatkuasa semalam.

Rakyat dibebankan kenaikan harga gula dari RM1.45sen sekilo kepada RM1.65sen di Semenanjung dan RM1.75sen di Sabah dan Sarawak.

Bendahari Agung FOMCA Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman mengingatkan rentetan kenaikan lain-lain barangan pengguna akibat dari keputusan kerajaan Barisan Nasional menaikkan harga gula ini.

Dinyatakannya demikian dalam rancangan Apa Khabar Selangor, hanya di TVSelangor.com di sini semalam.

Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman turut mendedahkan siapa Raja Gula dulu, Robert Kuok, dan kini, Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhari yang mungkin meraih manfaat dari kenaikan ini khususnya harga gula.

Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman mengkritik Belanjawan 2010 Kerajaan Malaysia sebagai tidak banyak memanfaatkan rakyat.

Tambahnya terdahulu harga minyak telahpun dinaikkan, diikuti dengan harga rokok pada 2009, dan di pembukaan 2010 kerajaan Barisan Nasional pimpinan YAB Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak telah memutuskan kenaikan harga gula serta menarik kembali subsidi roti putih.

Kejutan seterusnya menurut Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman ialah kenaikan harga minyak petrol dan diesel dijangka Mei depan.

Satu kelemahan bersabitan kenaikan harga barangan pengguna menurut pandangan pemimpin FOMCA ini, ialah ketiadaannya Suruhanjaya Harga di Malaysia, diwujudkan supaya ada kawalan ke atas sesiapa yang ingin menaikkan harga barang secara wewenang.

Walaupun disertakan dalam sesi dialog, namun FOMCA tidak dirujuk kerana tiada keperluan berbuat demikian dalam penentuan berapa kenaikan harga gula, katanya lagi.

Di kalangan rakyat ada yang bertanya inikah kelebihan 1Malaysia yang digembar-gemburkan bahawa rakyat didahulukan dan pencapaian diutamakan?

Police plan to pin sedition charge against Pornthip

By Dr Chen Man Hin, DAP life adviser

THE POLICE AND MACC HAVE A HIDDEN AGENDA BY LEVELLING CHARGES OF SEDITION AGAINST LIM GUAN ENG AND THAI PATHOLOGIST PORNTHIP

If the Suara Keadilan report were read carefully, it is quite clear that the ‘leaked sources’ need not be from Pornthip, but could be from anyone who was connected to the autopsy room at the time the second post mortem was conducted.

The leaked source could be from MACC or the police who are usually privy to the information from the autopsy room.

The wild accusation that Pornthip was responsible for the leaks might backfire on the police and or MACC who have their own agenda, which is to attach blame on the pathologist Pornthip engaged by the opposition to get to the truth of the death of Teoh Beng Hock.

Pathologist Pornthip has a formidable reputation of world renown and would not resort to unethical behaviour. To implicate her for breach of ethics is foolish and ill advised.

The truth of the matter was that the cause TBH death was homicide 80% and possibly suicide 20% as stated by Pornthip to the Inquest on 21st October 2009. To prove her point Pornthip gave a power point presentation on the evidence from the first autopsy, which conclusively point to death by homicide.

The second autopsy could produce more clues and evidence to expose the truth of the matter. More likely these would only substantiate what Pornthip had already disclosed at the inquest.

The charges against Pornthip and Lim Guan Eng are a panic reaction of the police and MACC as they would have access to the truth, which must be very painful for them. Hence the allegations of sedition against Lim Guan Eng and Pornthip. They have a hidden agenda.

POLICE MIGHT HAVE HIDDEN AGENDA TO DECLARE THE INQUEST A ‘MISTRIAL’?

The MACC and police should be advised not to plan to declare the inquest a mistrial, in view of the so called leaks by Pornthip and Guan Eng.

The Inquest on the death of TBH has captured the attention of the world. International pathologists are involved. Any attempt to subvert the findings of the second autopsy would be exposed, and the integrity of the country would be subject to international condemnation and mockery.

Open Letter to PM, Ministers and MPs

Open Letter By Bruce Lim

To our beloved Prime Minister of Malaysia, Members of the Cabinet and all Members of Parliament,

I am writing to each of you, as all of you collectively, will control the destiny of this country and its people, for the immediate and near future.

On this dawn of a new year, I wish all of you “Happy New Year, and may all of you and your family be happy, enjoy good health and prosperity for Year 2010 !”

Some recent personal and profound experiences, prompted me to write to each of you. I might share these experiences, which saddened and embarrassed me, with you on another occasion.

For now, I wish to merely forward to you a short article which was published in the Star newspaper on 21.12.2009, reproduced below. The article contains amongst others, figures and charts, which I think, can hardly be disputed. The fact is, our country is lagging behind many other countries. The average Malaysian is so far behind in terms of quality of life, relative to the countries in comparison. Our well-being is at stake. Please study the figures, and ask yourselves :-

  1. Why is Malaysia lagging behind?

  2. What can we do to arrest the decline?

  3. What is going to happen if we can’t arrest this decline? Will we or our children end up like in the Philippines?

Everyone of you will have your own ideas and answers. For me, I think the article provides a short but good insight to some of the reasons and answers.

As the political masters, I feel that it is incumbent upon each of you to do what is the best for the well-being of all Malaysians. This should be the single most important objective. Please work towards ensuring that all Malaysians have a good quality of life, to be able to hold our heads up high when we travel abroad, to be knowledgeable and well-educated. I appreciate it is difficult to govern a country, and I laud the 1-Malaysia concept and the current efforts to improve the country, but there appears to be insufficient conviction and consistency.

Personally, I feel that Education is crucial. For Year 2010, I appeal and pray that the government will revert to PPSMI. Otherwise, the scrapping of PPSMI will go down in history as a monumental disaster for the country, and I am speaking in the context of towards arresting the decline of the country, and towards improving the quality of life in the long run. Scrapping PPSMI is simply not in the roadmap towards a high income society or developed nation status.

I write with no intention to offend. Any judgemental errors here are purely mine.

Thank you and Happy New Year again.

Regards,
Bruce Lim
Vexed Parent, and Concerned Patriot

Letter To Prime Minister

By Rohana Mustaffa

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 (Bernama) -- "One is us - Malays, Chinese, Indians and others. Malaysia is our home ...". That was the opening line of an essay written on 1Malaysia by a student Muhammad Hanif Ahmad.

This writer hopes that Muhammad Hanif would really be able to convey his impression of the 1Malaysia concept to the Prime Minister himself. This is possible when an opportunity now opens for students from nationwide to express their opinion on this concept to the Prime Minister.

"Letter to Prime Minister" is a recently-announced competition organised by POS Malaysia Berhad, inviting young citizens to voice out their 1Malaysia vision.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself launched the competition, inconjunction with the 1Malaysia Christmas Open House held recently in Kota Kinabalu.

TO HIS EXCELLENCY

The students were asked to begin the letter with "The Right Honourable Prime Minister".

And they can proceed by writing down between 300 and 500 words on what and how they feel about 1Malaysia before putting down their signature to mark the end of the correspondence.

The competition is for students aged from seven to 17 years old. It began last Dec 29 and ends this Feb 19.

The vision conveyed in the letter should have elements on the importance of racial unity.

"Write one page to the prime Minister about your aspiration or suggestion on the importance of racial unity and living together, as well as what that can be done to continue retaining the nation's harmony towards sustaining the 1Malaysia aspiration".

That is the stipulation laid down by POS Malaysia.

POS Malaysia jointly organised the competition with the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission with the collaboration of the Information Communication and Culture Ministry and Education Ministry. RTM is the media partner.

Students from 10,000 schools are expected to participate in the competition which is divided into two categories. Category A is for the primary schools and Category B is for those from secondary schools.

The six letters adjudged to the best written will receive attractive prizes in the form of cash up to RM5,000, digital camera, dictionary, book voucher and stamp collection. The winner as well as the first and second runner-up will receive a laptop computer each apart from the other prizes.

CHANNEL FOR YOUNGSTERS

"We would like to provide a channel for young Malaysians to speak up as how they perceive 1Malaysia vision and their suggestions in achieving the vision," said Group Managing Director/CEO of POS Malaysia Datuk Syed Faisal Albar on the competition.

We were also looking into re-introducing and instilling the interest and art of writing among Malaysian children, he added.

To Syed Faisal, the vast development of information communication technology writing has been an almost forgotten form of art.

The competition will also encourage creative thinking amongst Malaysian children as well as to stimulate the ability in writing precise Bahasa Malaysia.

He expressed confidence that POS Malaysia, with its 694 offices apart from mobile and mini post offices as well as postal representatives are able to handle the deluge of thousands of letters expected in the competition.

WHERE TO ADDRESS THE LETTERS?

Further information on this competition is available on posters displayed in schools as well as the www.pos.com.my and www.skmm.gov.my websites.

Enquiries can be directed to the competition's secretariat at 03-2267 2000 or 03-8688 8409.

The letters should be handwritten, neat and easy to read. Correspondences that are in print will not be accepted.

The students should also obtain the verification stamping of their respective schools before sending their entries to "Pertandingan Menulis Surat kepada Perdana Menteri (Letter to Prime Minister Contest)", Peti P.O. Box 1000, 50796 Kuala Lumpur.

The fight against graft has begun

The Sun
R. Nadeswaran

ON Dec 10, together with a dozen newspaper editors, I listened to a briefing on the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) which is part of initiatives for the National Key Results Areas (NKRA) by two ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department – Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and Datuk Seri Idris Jala. The Power-Point presentation was impressive to say the least. Despite being told that the prime minister himself had adopted the recommendations, many returned home with the feeling that it was another round of government rhetoric.

Haven’t we previously heard slogans such as "Bersih, cekap, amanah" and "Open and transparent government"? To me at least, it was yet another wasted evening. That was my opinion before I attended the GTP open day a week later. Visiting the booth on corruption, I was amazed that finally, the government is admitting the seriousness of graft, instead of hiding behind the fa├žade of "these are only perceptions". For good measure, there was an admission of sorts – corruption could cause Malaysians up to RM10 billion a year or up to the 2% of the GDP annually.

What was even more astonishing was that the government had identified and acknowledged the root causes of corruption under the following headings:

»
Lack of transparency: Policies, procedures and service standards not clearly made known to public; poor disclosure and access to information of public interest, eg awards, decisions and verdicts.

»
Discretion: Authority to make decision resides with a single person, or body, eg approval of permit, issuance of summons, awarding of project; manual procedures with no stipulated guidelines to govern process.

»
Red tape: Lengthy and complex approval process with excessive inter-agency dependencies; too many unnecessary regulations.

»
Lack of Accountability: Poor monitoring of compliance – chances of getting caught low; lack of severe penalty or punishment for felony or misconduct.

»
Opportunity to form relationships: Personnel holding the same job/position in high-risk areas for extended period; high level of interaction and frequent contact with criminals or illegal activities, particularly in enforcement activities

»
Political interference: Abuse of power and influence for personal or political gain; biasness or favouritism in decision making, eg unjustified procurement.

To be honest, these aren’t new "discoveries". They have festered in our system over the years and have become endemic. While it will be unfair to make accusations without any evidence, let it be said that the government’s procurement system will expose all, if not, many of the above-mentioned points.

But even the sceptics and scribes like me will change our minds and see it in a different light if the government implements its own proposals in the GTP. It wants to:

»
Reduce corruption through enforcement and compliance;

»
Enhance transparency to improve our score in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI); and

»
Improve public perception on the integrity of the government and civil service.

The proposals call for the prevention of the abuse of power and public resources by politicians and senior civil servants and the enhancement of the delivery of justice against corruption and corrupt people. Besides, it wants a reduction in leakage in the funds allocated for national development and operations and ensures fairness in the award of contracts. These moves will regain the public confidence in the enforcement agencies and make Malaysia a good place to do business.

But to make the proposals work, the GTP acknowledges that there must be political will, a good legal and institutional framework and effective enforcement. While the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues will understand the need to implement the proposals for the good of the country and its people, what about the political warlords and their cronies, to whom being middlemen and seeking "surat sokong" has been a source of income for years?

But to say that may be a bit premature because the GTP proposals are aimed at changing public perception by seeing what is described as "big wins" in the area of corruption which include:

»
Announce zero tolerance policy for corruption. Prime minister to mandate all new cases of corruption will be investigated, charged and punished irrespective of size and persons involved. Multiple high-profile arrests will send a powerful signal that the government is very serious about tackling the issue;

»
Whistleblower’s identity will be protected;

»
Cap and monitor political contributions by individuals and companies;

»
Government to provide supplementary funding to reduce reliance on private sources of funding;

»
Election Commission, Registrar of Societies and other agencies to monitor political funding and spending;

»
Key institutions like the judiciary, attorney-general, auditor-general, MACC and Election Commission must be independent and be seen to be independent. Otherwise accountability is a key missing factor among senior politicians and civil servants which will greatly affect public perception;

»
Speed up trials of corruption cases. Total length of time should be no longer than one year;

»
To impose a minimum jail sentence via a tiered approach based on the severity of the offence;

»
Any asset which cannot be explained to the satisfaction of the court should be confiscated;

»
Publish names and details of corruption offences for all individuals who have been convicted. This is only for new cases. Details will be removed after three years. This would be a central database accessible to the public;

»
Ministers, minister’s officials, politicians, royalty and civil servants will not be allowed to interfere in law enforcement agencies, issuing of licences, procurement, privatisation, fast tracking of approvals, etc;

»
With the exclusion of a small proportion of annual budget spent on national security, all procurement (below RM500,000) done on tender or direct negotiation and privatisation contracts will be disclosed. Details to be disclosed include awarded vendor, award price and project title; and

»
When the public see that law enforcement agencies are effectively charging offenders for vice activities, smuggling, human trafficking, etc, the perception of corruption within law enforcement will disappear.

Dear readers, as much as I have my views if these proposals will ever see implementation, it would be wrong to dismiss them without giving the government a chance to make it work. I make no apologies if I sound like a government mouthpiece, but let it be said that in the course my work, I will engage myself with the ministers, key officials and even members of the public to ensure that corruption is reduced to negligible levels. It won’t happen overnight, but in the meantime, let’s support these meaningful efforts which will benefit every citizen of this country.

R. Nadeswaran starts the New Year noting that the government has taken cognisance of the public perception on corruption and its effects on society. He is editor (special and investigative reporting) at theSun and can be reached at: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com

If only we had stronger social safety nets...- Anil Netto

If only all that oil money had not been frittered away and had instead been used to strengthen social safety nets, many families wouldn’t be struggling today.

In the course of writing the following piece for IPS, I found that a number of NGOs were working to plug the gaps in the existing social safety nets through which children and teenagers from disadvantaged families had fallen through. Unfortunately, these groups have suffered a sharp drop in donations and even volunteers.

When firms began slashing overtime and reducing the number of days worked because of the economic slowdown, households suffered. Many workers had previously taken out loans, whether from banks or moneylenders, on the strength of their overtime-boosted income, and were unable to service their loans; others found their homes being foreclosed.

“If they have children, their situation is worse. Some of them had to stop their children from going to school because they can’t afford bus fares, which had really gone up. If they have three or four children going to school, bus fares (at around 40 ringgit [or 11.67 dollars] monthly per child) can take up a big chunk of their incomes.”

MALAYSIA: Social Safety Nets Not Good Enough for Children
By Anil Netto*


PENANG, Malaysia, Dec 31 (IPS) - Malaysia may have been spared the worst effects of the economic slowdown due largely to its oil and gas reserves and other natural resources.

But years of spending – some say squandering – of the nation's oil revenues on prestige projects and bailouts could have gone into strengthening the country's social safety nets. As the country's export-oriented economy took a hit, workers lost their jobs, suffered pay cuts, worked fewer days and had their overtime pay slashed.

Children have been largely protected from the adverse impact of the economic crisis due to the social safety nets that were already in place. The government's provision of universal benefits, notably free education and health care, as well as subsidies on a number of essential commodities, have been able to ensure that most children and poor families do not fall through the gaps, said Eva Jenkner, the deputy representative to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Malaysia and a senior economic social policy specialist.

"But concerns remain with regard to the comprehensiveness of the social safety nets, with only limited coverage rates of programmes specifically targeted at poor families and children, and many particularly vulnerable children out of reach of school-based social interventions (such as school feeding programmes)," she told IPS in email interview.

As coordinator of the Oppressed People's Network (known by its Malay acronym, JERIT), Rani Rasiah is familiar with the plight of communities living on the margins of development, particularly the children.

In September 2008 as signs of an economic slowdown emerged, she carried out an informal survey among urban settler (squatter) communities around Ipoh, a major city between Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

"I found that in terms of food, children in these communities, were really affected. They were deprived of milk powder. Young children would be having black coffee for breakfast and there was no milk in their diet, no emphasis on a balanced diet.''

Unemployment crept up from 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 to reach 4.0 percent in the first quarter of this year before tapering off to 3.6 percent in the second quarter. The jobless figure swelled from 351,000 in the last quarter of 2008 to 451,000 in the first quarter of 2009 as manufacturing firms, faced with falling orders, shed jobs.

Quite apart from the actual job losses, it was the loss in overtime pay that hurt many families, observed Rani. "I found that low-income families, not necessarily the hardcore poor, were finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet."

These households might have two adults working typically as municipal council workers or factory workers, and they may own a motorbike. Before the slowdown, basic salaries would usually be around 400 to 500 ringgit (115 to 146 U.S. dollars). With overtime pay, take-home wages could reach 1,000 ringgit. "As long as the economy was doing all right, they were fine," said Rani.

But when firms began slashing overtime and reducing the number of days worked, households suffered. Many had previously taken out loans, whether from banks or moneylenders, on the strength of their overtime-boosted income, and were unable to service their loans; others found their homes being foreclosed.

"If they have children, their situation is worse. Some of them had to stop their children from going to school because they can't afford bus fares, which had really gone up. If they have three or four children going to school, bus fares (at around 40 ringgit [or 11.67 dollars] monthly per child) can take up a big chunk of their incomes."

Rani said the government should subsidise school buses across the board. She added that people affected by unpaid housing loans and foreclosed homes to Malaysia's central bank want the government to set up an easy loan scheme with low interest, similar to what civil servants are entitled to. "The government has spent billions of ringgit to save the corporate sector, but there's nothing much for the poor," she said.

To reduce the national fiscal deficit from 7.4 percent to 5.6 percent, the 2010 budget envisages drastic cuts in operational expenditure by 13.7 percent and development expenditure by 4.5 percent.

UNICEF’s Jenkner said it is important to more effectively target social expenditure and closely monitor household real incomes, social indicators and outcomes. This would ensure that households do not resort to short- term coping mechanisms, such as taking children out of school, reducing their nutritional intake or deferring health visits, all of which could have adverse long-term effects on children. This, she added, has been a central lesson of most crises, such as the 1997 Asian financial debacle.

Meanwhile, non-governmental organisations are struggling to meet the needs of the children who do fall through the gaps in the official social safety nets. Homes for children from broken and disadvantaged families and skills training centres for juveniles have experienced a sharp fall in donations.

Public donations have gone done by 20 to 30 percent, said Robin Devasagayam, director of the Monfort Youth Centre in Malacca, a residential care centre that provides training to 83 teenage boys in skills such as motor mechanics.

The renowned centre, run by a Catholic religious group, has expansion plans for a new double-storey building for language and computer maintenance. In the past, the group relied on donations from the public and companies to fund their work. "This time there have been few replies to our appeals," said Devasagayam. "We have raised funds to put up the building, but we don't have enough funds to furnish the building."

Other children's homes are badly affected as well. "Most of the companies have held back their year-end community service projects, and everyone is trying to protect their own interest first," said S. Joseph, who runs a home for orphans and children of very poor single mothers on mainland Penang.

"Many of the cases I now encounter are due to parents being unable to provide for their children's basic needs such as education because of financial difficulties. But I can't take in all these children, as I have to provide for those already here," he lamented. Donations at his home have dropped by an average of 50 percent. "There have been months I have gone through with zero donations."

Even finding volunteers to look into the needs of poor children, including those belonging to refugee families, is proving to be difficult, said Fintan Ooi, a coordinator at a learning centre run by an NGO.

"In normal economic times, ordinary people could be called upon to help these children with their studies or to donate or ‘adopt them’ in terms of contributing financially to their educational and other needs," Ooi said. "But in these slow economic times, even these volunteers themselves are more preoccupied with their own families' economic problems."

(*This feature was produced by IPS Asia-Pacific under a series on the impact of the global economic crisis on children and young people, in partnership with UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific.)

Zulkifli and Khalid challenge each other to quit over Allah ruling

By G. Manimaran - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — Kulim-Bandar Baharu MP Zulkifli Noordin from PKR wants his fellow Pakatan Rakyat lawmaker from PAS Khalid Samad(picture) to leave his party because of their differences over the recent court ruling allowing Catholics to use the word “Allah” to describe the Christian God.

Zulkifli suggested Khalid should join the DAP because of the latter’s apparent stand in defending non-Muslim rights to use the word “Allah.”

When contacted by The Malaysian Insider, Khalid slammed Zulkifli for having no “locus standi” to comment on his stand and that of PAS.

“He has no locus standi to talk about PAS. If he wants to talk about my stand as a PAS member and about PAS itself, I would like to request he leaves PKR and join PAS and then he can talk about it,” he said.

Khalid, who is also PAS Shah Alam division head, said he was not that bothered with Zulkifli’s remarks.

“I do not want to be too concerned with what he says,” he said.

“Nonetheless I respect the principle that everyone is entitled to give their opinions.”

“What I said was that non-Muslims have used the word Allah and Muslims too use the word Allah.

“The difference is the concept of unity or the question of the singular nature of Allah,” he said.

Writing in his blog yesterday, Zulkifli, who is one of the most outspoken MPs when it comes to religion, said:

“In fact I will go as far as to call on YB Khalid to reconsider his membership in PAS. Instead I suggest YB Khalid should consider joining other parties like DAP.

“This is because I have noticed YB Khalid’s actions, especially after being awarded given trust by God to be Shah Alam MP, have destroyed the good name and image of PAS as an Islamic party.”

Zulkifli also criticised Khalid for backing Hindus to build a temple in Section 23 Shah Alam, which he said was a Muslim-majority area.

“Malays who objected and protested were criticised by him,” he said in reference to the infamous cow-head protest for which the main participants have since been charged in court.

U.S. terrorism czar: Christmas Day plot 'not like 9/11'

"There is no smoking gun piece of intelligence out there," John Brennan says Sunday of the failed Christmas bombing.
"There is no smoking gun piece of intelligence
out there," John Brennan says Sunday of the failed

Washington (CNN) -- Human error and system lapses, rather than deliberate concealing of information, allowed a terror suspect with explosives to board a U.S.-bound airplane on Christmas Day, President Obama's terrorism czar said Sunday.

John Brennan, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the security breakdown in the failed bombing of the Northwest Airlines flight was different from the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"It's not like 9/11," Brennan said, adding that the "system didn't work as it should have" due to "lapses" and "human error."

"There wasn't an effort to try to conceal information," he said, referring to the well-chronicled competition and turf wars among security agencies prior to the 2001 attacks, which was later blamed for the failure to prevent them.

"There is no smoking gun piece of intelligence out there," Brennan said of the failed Christmas bombing, allegedly planned by a Nigerian man who boarded the flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, with explosives in his underwear.

The suspect's father, a leading banker in Nigeria, warned U.S. authorities before the attack that his son might be involved with Islamic extremists.

Brennan said the father's information was part of "bits and pieces" of information that were never connected by intelligence officials to properly target the suspect.

"That was certainly an alert that came to our attention," Brennan said of the father's warnings. "He said, 'He's consorting with extremists in Yemen.'"

However, Brennan rejected another potential warning sign -- that the suspect purchased the airline ticket with cash in Ghana before traveling to Nigeria for the first leg of his journey.

"A lot of people buy their tickets in Africa with cash. That is the way, in fact, things are done, because there's so much fraud there. So that wasn't a necessary [warning] bell," Brennan said. "People in the Amsterdam airport didn't even know that he had bought the ticket for cash. He did bring on carry-on luggage. So there were a lot of things that were out there."

At the same time, Brennan conceded "there was information that was in the system that should have allowed us to stop it."

"A number of pieces were out there that weren't brought together," Brennan said.

On the same program, however, the Republican chairman of the 9/11 commission said Brennan was "wrong when he says this wasn't like 9/11."

Thomas Kean, a former governor of New Jersey, said both events occurred because the U.S. intelligence community failed to piece together various bits of information it already possessed in the weeks and months prior to the attacks.

If the information had been properly shared and analyzed, "then this guy would've never have gotten on a plane" on Christmas Day, Kean said.

PM tells Muslims not to 'heat up' Allah issue - Malaysiakini

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today called on Muslims to be calm and not "heat up" the issue of the High Court decision to allow a Catholic weekly to use the word "Allah" in its publication.

NONEHowever, as he spoke, a group of 200 Muslims held a rowdy protest in Penang against the court decision.

The one-hour protest this morning outside the Penang High Court was led by a group calling itself Badan Anti-Interfaith Council (Badai). [Photos below]

Najib said the government was quite aware that the issue was sensitive as well as touching on the feelings of Muslims in the country and as such the government would deal with the matter with urgency.

"The government is very much aware and concerned of various reactions that it has received after the recent High Court decision.

"The issue is very sensitive and touches on the feelings of Muslims, we need to be calm now and let the matter be resolved through the courts," he told reporters.

penang protest against herald umno youthAs is known, an appeal can be made on the High Court decision to the Appeal Court and the Federal Court, he said when asked to comment on the various reactions to the High Court decision last Thursday that allowed Herald -The Catholic Weekly to use the word "Allah" in its publication.

Najib said the Home Ministry will file an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Besides that, the prime miniser will also inform the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin about the appeal process.

"They (the Home Ministry) will make an appeal and I will inform the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and if he wishes he will be briefed, as well as the Rulers' Council," he said.

Najib said a resolution to the issue was very sensitive and needed to be made wisely.

Don't complicate the matter further

He also hoped that the issue would not be further complicated with demonstrations, petitions and memoranda on the matter.

penang protest against herald badai speech"I do not encourage (Muslims to demonstrate and the like), (but) I know the feelings among the Muslims, they feel discontented.

"I just hope that given the sensitive matter, we let the government handle the issue through appeal (in court)... and I don't want to heat up the matter, the government knows the feelings of the Muslims, let us find the best solution," he said.

Earlier, before he chaired a meeting of the Pekan Umno division committee meeting Najib received a memorandum from 24 Pahang non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the matter.

penang protest against herald policeAccording to the spokesperson for the NGOs, Amidi Abdul Manan, who is also the deputy president of Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim), the Home Ministry should urgently file an appeal to soothe the feelings of Muslims.

"All quarters in the country need to respect the National Fatwa Council which has passed a fatwa to protect the purity and sanctity of Islam," he said.

Amidi said that according to the National Fatwa Council the word "Allah" was exclusive to the Islamic religion alone.

The Herald, which is printed in four languages, 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 term 'Allah' is widely used among indigenous Christian tribes in Sabah and Sarawak, most of whom speak Bahasa Malaysia.

Penang DAP & Kedah PKR Mandores diverting from Kg Buah Pala and Kuala Ketil hindu cemetary issue.


These two mandores know that they do not have the power to solve even these two very elementary and basic necessity Indian problems . So they go on a personal vendetta against P.Waytha Moorthy and P.Uthayakumar and say they would not let go P.Waytha Moorthy and P.Uthayakumar (Malaysia Nanban 3/1/2010 at page 12)

A thousand mile journey begins with a single step.It is coming to two years now since they are ruling the Penang and Kedah state governments but these two Indian mandores cannot even get their “Towkay” and “Tuan” to grant Penang and Kedah state government land to all the 28 and 56 Tamil schools respectively in Penang and Kedah.

When they are powerless they become like MIC and then make these personal attacks to divert away from the real issues . Anyway our target is UMNO and not these powerless and toothless Indian DCM II and Exco Mandores.

S.Jayathas

gudda8

PKR Selangor Mandore’s kosong paper politics No .1 of 2010


No land for 98 Tamil schools but they will give “empty” promises peanuts of RM 700 , 000.00 for 31 tamil schools in Selangor , says PKR Indian Exco Mandore which was carried on the front page of Malaysian Nanban on 3/1/10 . This PKR Indian Mandore’s continued kosong paper politics especially in the three Tamil press is only an extension of what the MIC Mandores have been doing for over the last 52 years since independence. This is the kind of Mandores Anwar Ibrahim , Lim Guan Eng and Hadi Awang wants that is to sidestep the real Indian issues ie why no Selangor , Kedah and Penang state government land for all 98 , 56 and 28 Tamil schools in Selangor , Kedah and Penang respectively. Not the peanuts kosong paper political announcements which are never fulfilled anyway . Last year (2009) this very same PKR Selangor Exco Indian Mandore announced RM 2 million which works out to RM 20,408.16 per Tamil school. All of this RM 2 million never flowed to the ground to all these 98 tamil schools anyway. And for 2010 he makes this grand RM 700,000.00.

Now in 2010 this Mandore’s “Tuan “ Anwar Ibrahim and Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has instructed him for early this year (2010) to make a “bang” with the RM 700 , 000.00 kosong paper politics Tamil paper newsreport. Based on our monitoring especially in 2009 , watch how this mandore repeats this very RM 700 , 000.00 over and over again like a parrot for the rest of 2010 and maybe even thereafter.

P.Uthayakumar

gudda5

PAS meets Monday over ‘Allah’ issue

By G Manimaran - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — The PAS national leadership will meet tomorrow night to decide on their stand regarding the controversial High Court ruling that has allowed the Catholic weekly, Herald, to use the word “Allah” in its national language publications.

Party vice-president Salahuddin Ayub tonight confirmed the special meeting, saying it was urgent as it involved an important public issue.

“Yes, we are having a meeting tomorrow as this is an important issue and we need to discuss to make a stand,” Salahuddin told The Malaysian Insider.

“After the discussion, the president (Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang) will issue a statement on our official stand,” he said.

The special meeting will be held at the party’s headquarters to arrive at the party’s official stand following differing opinions expressed by several PAS leaders over the usage of “Allah” by the Roman Catholic Church in its publications.

On Dec 31 High Court judge Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan made the decision that the church had a constitutional right to use the term “Allah” and the Home Ministry was wrong to prohibit its usage.

PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali also confirmed that the meeting would involve the political bureau and central committee members.

“The main agenda is related to the use of ‘Allah’ following the court judgment,” he said.

Earlier, PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat came out in support of the Herald’s use of “Allah” to describe the Christian God in the national language, saying it was permissible for those following Abrahamic faiths.

But the popular cleric expressed worry that the word “Allah” could be abused by certain quarters, echoing a growing sentiment among Muslim Malaysians aghast at the ruling.

“It’s just a fear it can be abused. That’s the worry,” the Kelantan mentri besar said today when commenting on the landmark ruling.

The government has said it will appeal against the ruling. A group opposed to the decision has started a Facebook group to get the government to reverse the ruling.

However, others including influential cleric and former Perlis mufti Dr Asri Zainal Abidin, have supported the ruling, saying all are encouraged to follow Allah.

Speaking to reporters after launching the state Women, Family and Health Development Secretariat, Nik Aziz said the authorities, such as scholars, should have a dialogue with the Christian clergy over the issue.

“This is so that there is no confusion among the society.

“In fact, Islamic philosophy itself can be spread through such events,” he added.

The PAS Kelantan commissioner also said he was willing to attend such events if it was organised.

Nik Aziz: Non-Muslims can use ‘Allah’

By Mohd Zuharman - The Malaysian Insider

KOTA BARU, Jan 3 – PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat has come out in support of the Catholic weekly Herald use of ‘Allah’ to describe the Christian God in the national language, saying it was permissible for those following the Abrahamic faith.

But the popular cleric expressed worry that the word “Allah” could be abused by certain quarters, echoing growing sentiment of Muslim Malaysians aghast at the Dec 31 High Court ruling that permitted its use.

“Its just a fear it can be abused. That’s the worry,” the Kelantan mentri besar said today when commenting on the landmark ruling.

Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan said in her oral judgment that the Herald had a constitutional right to use the word, touching off a controversy that has led some Muslim groups to protest the ruling.

The government has said it will appeal against the ruling. A group has already started a Facebook group to get the government to reverse the ruling.

However, others including influential cleric and former Perlis mufti Dr Asri Zainal Abidin, have supported the ruling, saying all are encouraged to follow Allah.

Speaking to reporters after launching the state Women, Family and Health Development Secretariat, Nik Aziz said the authorities, such as scholars, should have a dialogue with the Christian clergy over the issue.

“This is so that there is no confusion among the society.

“In fact, Islamic philosophy itself can be spread through such events,” he added.

The PAS Kelantan commissioner also said he was willing to attend such events if it was organised.

However, PAS Kelantan Council of Religious Scholars chief Datuk Mohammad Daud Iraqi declined to comment on the issue.

Instead, he said it was weaknesses in the government in monitoring the issue that has led to the controversy.

“This is not a new issue, it has gone on so long. The government should have looked specifically into the laws earlier on,” he added.

Herald website hacked as ‘Allah’ battle intensifies

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — The online version of the Catholic weekly Herald was hacked twice since last night, two days after a High Court decision allowing Catholics to use “Allah” to describe the Christian God in the national language.

Father Lawrence Andrew, the priest-editor of the weekly, told The Malaysian Insider today that they first discovered technical disturbances on their website at 1am today.

“My technician had it sorted by this morning but then the problem started again early this evening. I can’t really tell you what the problem is but my technician confirms that we were hacked,” he said.

Andrew also disclosed that the website is now operating normally after the last attack was successfully neutralised.

Asked to comment on the incident, the St Anne Churh parish priest calmly replied it was best that he kept silent.

“I don’t want to say anything. I don’t want to add to the tension as this issue is a very sensitive one,” he said.

“It has been a long day,” he added in reference to the intensifying uproar over the court ruling.

Earlier in Penang, some 250 Umno Youth members took to the street to protest against the court ruling in front of the state’s High Court building.

Observers told The Malaysian Insider that protestors shouted “seditious” obscenities in protest against a ruling they described as an attempt to confuse Muslims.

In the virtual world, groups opposing the ruling have begun using popular social networking website like Facebook to rally support and call for the ruling’s reversal.

Muslim politicians from both sides of the divide are also up in arms over the Dec 31 decision by Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan, expressing worry it could confuse Muslims who make up the majority of Malaysia’s 27 million population.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has appealed for calm, saying the Home Ministry will appeal against the ruling, indicating that the fight for Christians to use ‘Allah’ is far from over.

For Andrew, all this will only make his work to serve his community more difficult.

“So it’s best to keep silent,” he added

The MACC has committed a criminal act

“Whoever threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation, or property, or to the person or reputation of any one in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat, commits criminal intimidation."

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

MACC lodges report against Pornthip

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has filed a police report against Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand over her statement about the possibility that Teoh Beng Hock was murdered.

MACC officer Raub Ghani, who made the report in Shah Alam this morning, claimed Pornthip had leaked the contents of her autopsy report to “irrelevant parties” and was thus in contempt of court.

On Tuesday, the National Justice Party-owned Suara Keadilan quoted unnamed sources as saying that Pornthip had given her report to the relevant authorities, including the Teoh family, on Beng Hock’s second post mortem, conducted at the Sungei Buloh Hospital last November.

Suara quoted its sources as saying that Pornthip had gathered enough forensic evidence to adduce that Teoh was a victim of foul play.

The inquest into his death is set to resume next Thursday.

Teoh was the political secretary to Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah and a senior member of DAP, which is part of the Selangor coalition government.

His body was found in the compound of the Selangor MACC office in Shah Alam after he had been interrogated by the commission’s officers, reportedly until the wee hours of July 16, 2009.

The probe is said to be linked to alleged misappropriation of about RM2,400 in state funds allocated to Ean’s office.

Teoh died on the same day he was to marry his fiancee, who was then three months pregnant.

His death is widely blamed on MACC’s investigation methods, with several witnesses claiming they were roughed up and verbally abused by the commission officers during investigations.

Opposition leaders also see Teoh as a victim of an alleged Barisan Nasional conspiracy to undermine and weaken the state government by “unleashing” the MACC on opposition leaders with trumped-up charges of misusing state funds.

Both the MACC and the BN deny the allegations. – Free Malaysia Today, 1 January 2010

*************************************************

That was what Free Malaysia Today reported. And the following is the opinion of a senior Malaysian lawyer with regards to the matter:

Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand is an independent foreign expert witness. An expert witness can express his/her opinion on the subject of her expertise to enable a court to arrive at a decision.

By lodging the police report, the MACC officers, Hisham Mohd Yusof and Raub Ghani, have threatened to cause injury to her reputation that would alarm her when she later appears in court to continue her evidence in the Teoh Beng Hock Inquest. They should therefore be charged for criminal intimidation under Section 503 of the Penal Code for causing alarm to Dr Pornthip's reputation such that she would act in a manner that would impair her functions as an independent expert witness.

This is what Section 503 of the Penal Code says:

“Whoever threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation, or property, or to the person or reputation of any one in whom that person is interested, with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat, commits criminal intimidation."

So the above is very clear. The two MACC officers have broken the law. But the police will not take any action unless a police report is first lodged. That is their S.O.P. This means someone must quickly make a police report against these two MACC officers before the police can arrest them, remand them in a police lockup for the next few days, beat the shit out of them to make them confess to their crime, and then drag them to court a few days later in handcuffs to be charged for criminal intimidation under Section 503 of the Penal Code.

Oops, I forgot. The police are busy chasing me all over Europe. So I doubt they will have any officers available to take action against these two MACC officers.

Anyway, the Lord moves in mysterious ways and sooner or later we will see justice done. Has not the Lord (can’t use the word ‘Allah’ any longer as Umno will get very angry one) shown us His sign with the big NO above the Umno headquarters? It is not an act of sabotage, said Umno in its statement to the New Straits Times. Well, it is either act of man or act of God. So, if it is not act of man then it must be act of God.

Yes, God has sent us many signs. If not why would Augustine Paul expire at the same time as the sign above Umno’s headquarters? Was not Augustine the main scumbag in the Anwar Ibrahim trial?

And what about the tragedies befalling the rest of the gang of conspirators? Remember what happened to Aziz Samsuddin, Dr Ristina Majid, Megat Junid, Mohtar Abdullah, Ummi Hafilda Ali, Azizan Abu Bakar, Hamzah Zainuddin, Rahim Thamby Chik, Daim Zainuddin, etc.?

The only two remaining yet to hit the dirt are the AG and the IGP. These two are still awaiting judgment on earth. And when it comes it will come hard and brutal. So stay tuned to see how the remaining scumbags find their faces hitting the shit in time to come.

FURTHER READING

Dr Ristina’s father died heartbroken http://www.freeanwar.net/june2002/facnews091002a.htm

Thou shalt not bear false witness http://www.freeanwar.net/articles2002/article071002.htm

Judge part of conspiracy to frame Anwar http://www.freeanwar.net/jan2003/facnews190303.htm

Another conspirator in the Anwar Ibrahim frame-up bites the dust http://www.freeanwar.net/April2004/Hamzah_Zainuddin.htm