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Monday, January 11, 2010

Santa is scarier than firebombs - Malaysiakini

Another 'Allah' case is coming up tomorrow (Jan 12) in the High Court.

A Christian, Jill Ireland binti Lawrence Bill, will have judicial review proceedings heard against the Home Ministry and government on the confiscation of eight CDs belonging to her. Jill, who is a Sarawak Melanau, wants her CDs back that record Christian religious teachings containing the word 'Allah'.

She also desires a court declaration that she has "the legitimate expectation to continue to exercise the right to use and/or to continue to use the word 'Allah'," among other relief sought.

The items were seized from Jill on May 11, 2008 when she disembarked at the LCCT because they were considered "a threat to security" for using banned words and breaching Jakim guidelines, Bernama had reported.

church attacks sunday massMany Muslims here have grave misgivings about Christians using the word 'Allah' on doctrinal grounds, and their apprehension is merited. Christianity and Islam are ultimately two different religions inasmuch as both sides are agreed that they pray to the same Creator.

There is a little confusion but the confusion is about Christianity. Islam has a strong, simple and straightforward message - "There is no God but Allah".

All Malaysians are exposed to the message of Islam everywhere in the public domain whereas the Herald has only a small circulation of 14,000 copies. Besides, how many Malays do you know who saunter into church in order for them to be exposed and made vulnerable to conversion?

In contrast, government agencies and voluntary bodies are free to carry out dakwah (missionary activities) and with instruments of state like radio, TV and official programmes.

Hence, I should think more Catholics have converted to the less perplexing Islam. Can Perkim provide us the figures?

Trinity hard to understand

I was asked by a Malay whether Mary is the 'wife' of God. I'm presuming he came to this logical conclusion because Christians believe Jesus is Son of God, and Mary his mother. Ergo, Mary must have been married to God.

I was also asked by a Hindu if Jesus ought to be addressed as 'Allah' following the reasoning Jesus is God.

Although we're not a Christian family, my mother had signed me up for chapel service in mission school where the kids were taught hymns that ended with the verse "Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen".

christian faith 030108 crossYet to this day, I do not understand the role and function of the Holy Spirit. The concept of the Trinity is difficult to comprehend for its adherents, much less for Malays sheltered from Christian teachings by the state.

Muslims generally believe the Christian God is three. Some Malays even think He is five, the fourth and fifth being Alpha and Omega - "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Revelation 22:13).

If I'm confused, at least I've the option of approaching say, the Rev Sivin Kit for clarification. But Rev Sivin cannot help clarify, for instance, Pak Ali's confusion. He could possibly be sent to jail if the authorities charge him for what they construe as preaching to a Malay; proselytizing to a Muslim is a crime under Malaysian law.

Whereas Pak Ali can be sentenced to a stint in a faith rehab centre if caught speaking to the good reverend and the Islamic religious department decided that his faith is shaken and stirred after the aforesaid contact.

Our socio-political milieu

Jesus was a prophet in a long line of Jewish prophets, says Islam. Christians might deem denying Jesus' divinity to be blasphemous.

However, by the same token, Muslims find equally sacrilegious the notion there is such as a Son of God and this offence encapsulated by Dr Mahathir Mohamad's stern reminder that God does not beget nor is He begotten.

christmas nativity painting 111204This could be the reason why any representation of the nativity scene (left) was not permitted during an official public celebration of Christmas in 2004. The function was controversially conducted without any reference to Jesus or biblical references in order to "protect Muslim sensibilities".

It is probably these prohibited missing ingredients that has resulted in Christmas being symbolised in Malaysian popular imagination by a red-suited senior citizen who fails to monitor his cholesterol level, whereas the day's true meaning remains hidden from non-Christians.

Even so, ustaz Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah was still prompted to write in his Dec 27, 2009 Utusan column: "Many Malays have sidetracked because of being too close to Santa Claus", especially in Penang today which is "as if it is no longer a Malay island"; "It is full of Santa Claus".

Thus in Malaysia, it can be seen that fear and anxiety need not necessarily accord with rationality and reality. This might explain why Justice Lau Bee Lan's Herald judgment premised on cold points of law elicited a fiery response.

1Malaysia, unlike any other


The reaction to Lau's verdict was firebombing of churches. It's not like the Catholic Church hasn't encountered harassment before. Majlis Perbandaran Shah Alam several times halted and shifted its construction in the locality (the church finally took 12 years to complete).

Other residents of Shah Alam who object to the presence of a Hindu temple in their midst paraded a severed cow head. Shah Alam is on its way to becoming laudably beer-free and dog-scarce. There have been incidents where crucifixes are confiscated from pupils by school authorities.

In this sort of climate, it's not altogether surprising for some buildings billing themselves as churches not to carry a cross visible to passersby. Upon closer inspection, you might find a small commercial signboard proclaiming 'xyz Church', sometimes pointing to the second floor.

NONEThere is, on the other hand, immense clarity in Malaysia's practice of Islam. If you asked any six-year old child to describe a mosque, he will tell you it has dome and minaret. The more observant might spot crescent and star in the architecture.

Ask the child what a church looks like.

If he describes the Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati that was firebombed, he'd say it was a shoplot. The similarly firebombed Life Chapel church in Petaling Jaya is a bungalow. The Church of the Divine Mercy, Shah Alam could be a factory building in disguise.

Other churches approximate convention halls or hostels. One, smack in the middle of a row of link houses, sports the fa├žade of a resort spa.

How can Malays and Muslims in Malaysia hope to understand Christianity (not as potential converts but as brothers) when the conflicting picture presented by the congregation to outsiders are incoherent scraps due to restrictions imposed by our authorities? And the veil of ignorance is not allowed to be lifted ...

Fighting about what?

Those Malaysians who support the use 'Allah' by non-Muslims need to understand that this is not a standalone element that can be divorced from the rubric of other factors.

Nor can the issue be resolved solely by the judiciary whether through the Herald, Jill Ireland or other cases. The now solidified Islamic superstructure, that Malaysians have acceded to over the past decades, will dictate limitations and how other houses of worship have no dignified place but are 'illegal squatters' under trees, e.g. the Hindu shrines.

friday prayer with imam giving the khutbah 070205Don't point the finger either at ordinary Muslims - 188,000 of them in one Facebook group - who are against non-Muslims using the word 'Allah'.

"In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful" begin the surahs in the Quran. So quite naturally, Muslims take this matter of 'naming' very seriously. That they would object and protest is wholly understandable although they certainly do not condone burning the churches.

Should by the remotest of chance Herald win the next court case, it would be but a Pyrrhic victory, and only on the legal front.

The battle is already lost on the social front, looking at the almost pathological misrepresentation that ascribes to Malaysian minorities "evil intentions" and "backdoor conspiracy to convert Muslims".

The firebombings only indicate a semi-colon or temporary pause to the verbal war. The exclamation mark is that minorities are viewed as so utterly untrustworthy and an existential threat to the well-being of Malay-Muslims.


HELEN ANG used to be a journalist. In future, she would like to be a practising cartoonist. But for the present, she is in the NGO circles and settling down to more serious writing and reading of social issues.

Steer clear of Hindraf vigil, priest tells flock - Malaysiakini

Assumption Church's Father Phillips Muthu has urged his parishioners not to participate in a candlelight vigil planned by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) to protest against the attacks on churches.

NONE"Police have informed the public not to participate in any demonstrations. I reiterate that we should not join the vigil," he told Malaysiakini.

"It sends the wrong message as if the non-Muslims are going against the Muslims," he explained.

Muthu said the church has been dealing with the police and government over the attempted arson case.

In a statement earlier, the priest said his church, where a molotov cocktail was lobbed in, has nothing to do with the planned demonstration.

"I have constantly advised my parishioners to remain calm and not to react in any way which may be construed as rude or insulting to people of other faiths," he added.

Police issue warning

Yesterday, Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar warned the public not to participate in any demonstrations outside places of worship as this will only exacerbate the situation.

Referring to the planned demonstration outside the Assumption Church in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, he said: "I have been informed that a SMS is being circulated, inviting people to assemble in front of the church, so I urge the public to discard any such plans."

"Let us carry out the investigations... let us handle it... do not take any action that may raise tension and aggravate the situation," he added.

Khalid said the police will not hesitate to take stern action against anyone who broke the law.

hindraf penang split into two factions 040409 waythamoorthyPreviously, Hindraf chairperson P Waythamoorthy said the vigil will be held to express the movement's serious concern and solidarity with Christian Malaysians.

In extending an invitation to all "peace loving and democratic minded Malaysians", he said the vigil will pose an opportunity to "express concern over the deteriorating freedom of religion and minority rights in the country and for all of us in one voice to let it be known that these violent and criminal acts must be dealt with in the strongest of terms by the government."

To date, eight churches have been attacked, mostly with molotov cocktails, in the Klang Valley, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Sarawak.

Photos: P. Uthayakumar meets India’s Former Opposition leader Shri Lal Krishna Advani

p-uthayakumar-meets-indias-former-opposition-leader-shri-lal-krishna-advani-3

Mr. P. Uthayakumar presenting Senior Parliament Member and Former Opposition leader Shri Lal Krishna Advani a copy of the-malaysian-indian-minority-human-rights-violations-annual-report-20095 in his official residence in New Delhi

p-uthayakumar-meets-indias-former-opposition-leader-shri-lal-krishna-advani

P. Uthayakumar briefing Shri Advani

p-uthayakumar-meets-indias-former-opposition-leader-shri-lal-krishna-advani-11

Shri Advani presenting Mr. Uthayakumar a copy of his book (A Prisoner’s Scrap Book) that written during his detention in 1970’s.

p-uthayakumar-meets-indias-former-opposition-leader-shri-lal-krishna-advani-21

Mr. P. Uthayakumar, K.M. Raj, Shrimathi Kamala Advani, Shri Advani

Dipukul kerana bertutur dalam Bahasa Tamil

Peristiwa di Sekolah Kebangsaan Klang

KLANG, 7, Januari - Sekumpulan pelajar mengancam beberapa pelajar India supaya boleh bertutur dalam Bahasa Tamil dan jika enggan mereka diugut akan dipukul. Tetapi akhirnya ugutan mereka bertukar menjadi realiti. Mereka memukul pelajar India tersebut di luar kawasan sekolah menggunakan batu dan juga kayu. Mangsa kejadian Raman (17 tahun) pelajar tingkatan lima, telah melaporkan kejadian tersebut di Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah Klang pada pukul 10.00 pagi semalam. Kepalanya telah bengkak kerana dipukul menggunakan kayu. Raman telah mendapatkan rawatan sebagai pesakit luar dan mengimbas (x-ray) kepalanya. Polis sedang membuat siasatan tentang peristiwa ini. Sejak permulaan persekolahan tahun ini kumpulan tersebut sedang mengancam dan mengugut pelajar-pelajar yang bertutur dengan kawan sekelas dalam Bahasa Tamil. Dipercayai selepas perbuatan mereka telah dilaporkan kepada guru petugas serta guru besar ia menaikkan kemarahan kumpulan tersebut dan mereka telah membalas dendam dengan memukul Raman yang juga merupakan Pengerusi Persatuan Bahasa Tamil sekolah tersebut.

tamil-raman1

raman-13

Sky’s the limit for Felda (malay muslim) children, but Indian children are excluded

The malay muslim Felda children are given the opportunities to enrol into the Malaysia Airlines Engineering Training Centre in Subang, Selangor for two years to become graduates as junior technicians before undergoing on job training to acquire their aircraft engineering licence after five years.

Azizuddin from Felda Ulu Belitung, Kluang has set his sight on becoming a maintenance engineer for Boeing 747 or bigger planes by 2013. “My ambition is to obtain a licence and to become a respected and successful engineer” (NST 1/1/2010 at page 7 – Felda Special Supplement).

But the Indian children are excluded from these opportunities. UMNO does not want these Indians to dream or have ambitions to become engineers. UMNO rather let them rot by becoming gangsters or being forced into crime and then reward the police by allocating RM 1 Billion in the 2010 Budget to give employment to malay muslim policemen to gun down in cold blooded murder like the recent case of five Indian youths including a 17 year old juvenile in one episode on 8/11/09, as well as again in late 1/1/2010.

P. Uthayakumar.

felda-1112010

Poverty related to higher Indian divorce rates


This is the case in Johor and nationwide (The Star 2/12/09 page N 39). Financial problems is belived to be the main reason for divorces, which in turn arises from UMNO’s inequality and inequality opportunities.

HRP demands that the nation adopts a needs based economic reform programme to alleviate poverty and marginalisation of the poor, regardless of race.

P. Uthayakumar.

poverty-11120102

Cops deny latest church attack

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Ismail Omar has denied that a Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church in Seremban was attacked today.

The SIB church in Negri Sembilan’s capital was attacked today with a firebomb, leaving scorch marks on its front doors.

The doors of the SIB church in Seremban show signs of scorching.

The attack did not affect the church interior and was believed to have occurred early this morning.

“What I know is that it did not happen. Where did you get this information from? That is what I want to know. You must double check,” Ismail told reporters after attending a briefing for foreign diplomats on the current situation in the country.

Rasah member of Parliament, Loke Siew Fook visited the church soon after the attack and confirmed the incident.

“The worship hall was not affected, the attack only affected the front door,” Loke told The Malaysian Insider.

Meanwhile, Negri Sembilan police chief Datuk Osman Salleh said a report has been lodged over the incident, but refused to provide any details.

Ismail gave his assurance that the police will continue to monitor the situation to ensure national security.

“I would like to tell the public to carry on with their daily course [of life] and ... my observation shows that there is no problem.

“That is the fact, the fact is from ... the police. I want to remind people to please use the Malaysian Control Centre in Bukit Aman, which is [in operation] 24-hours [daily],” Ismail said.

He added that the public should not believe news that is not verified.

“We should be more matured and encourage Malaysians to be more objective ... in approaching the situation in our country,” he said.

Ismail also confirmed that no arrest has been made as the police must first conduct an investigation.

“Every information we receive must be investigated and verified to ensure that we arrest the right person.

“I am aware that there are names mentioned in the blogs but the police process [is such], we want to be sure we get the right person,” he said.

Eighth church attack in Seremban

By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider

The doors of the SIB church in Seremban show signs of scorching.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — The primarily East Malaysian Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church in Seremban, Negri Sembilan was attacked today with a firebomb, leaving scorch marks on its front doors.

The attack did not affect the church interior and was believed to have occurred early this morning.

Rasah member of Parliament, Loke Siew Fook visited the church soon after and confirmed the incident.

“The worship hall was not affected, the attack only affected the front door,” Loke told The Malaysian Insider.

Meanwhile, Negri Sembilan police chief Datuk Osman Salleh said a report has been lodged, but refused to provide any details.

“I can’t confirm anything at this moment,” he said when contacted.

The first church attack took place on Friday, amid dispute over the use of the word “Allah” by the Catholic Church’s Herald to refer to God in the Malay language.

The SIB church conducts it service regularly in the national language.

Both the government and opposition have moved to defuse tension, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announcing financial aid of RM500,000 for the worst hit church — the Metro Tabernacle.

Separately, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim held a dialogue with the Christian community yesterday.

Dark clouds with silver lining

A reflection of the St Anthony’s Church is seen on a police patrol car during mass in Kuala Lumpur. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Under the clear blue skies, tourists happily sunning themselves by the pool of one of Kuala Lumpur's international hotels gaze across at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and the imposing twin structures of the Petronas Towers.

But dark clouds have been gathering following the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision to allow the Catholic Church the use of the word “Allah” to refer to God in the Malay section of its weekly publication, Herald.

The judge's decision on New Year's eve that it was within the church's constitutional rights to do so has triggered a storm of protest from sections of the Muslim community, culminating in the petrol bombing of five churches and a convent school so far. No one has been physically hurt although one church was badly damaged by unknown perpetrators.

For a nation at political and economic crossroads, entering the New Year on such a footing does not augur well. Already losing out on foreign investments to its neighbours owing to issues of productivity and competitiveness, its reputation for political stability and for being a moderate Muslim nation is now taking a beating after a slew of unflattering headlines globally.

The “Allah” matter is most unfortunate, coming under the spotlight only after the Home Minister in 2007 banned its use as a condition of the Herald's annual licence renewal. The church, which had been using the term all along, challenged the ban in court as non-English-speaking East Malaysian Christians have for decades used “Allah” to mean God. The government has appealed the High Court decision as it contends that “Allah” is exclusive to the Muslims and its use by others would confuse the Muslims.

Whatever the arguments and whichever way the appeal process decides, the outcome will not appease some. That is why there are suggestions that different religious groups should start engaging one another so that prickly issues can be discussed civilly.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hindusim, Sikhism and Taoism has observed the lack of dialogue had left many ignorant of the belief of others. “We are not talking on so many things, we are so afraid of sensitivity that we never talked about it,” its president, Rev Dr Thomas Philips said, adding that religious and political leaders have to set the right tone for the rest.

An inter-faith commission — mooted during the time of the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi administration — never got off the ground because of the lack of political support for it, but it should be made a priority because as the events of the past week have demonstrated, there is a need for it. Many are doubtful if Malaysia can ever achieve its economic aims when it is constantly tackling inter-ethnic and religious issues, many of which are unnecessarily politicised and which in decades past had never cropped up because Malaysia's different races interacted far more and lived more harmoniously.

The government has now said that more private inter-faith dialogues between religious leaders would be held, a wise move because even as these individual elements or fringe groups attempt to stir discord — not caring if that makes the nation appear unstable in the eyes of tourists or investors — Malaysians have remained calm and not responded in the way they might have wished. The peak hour traffic in the Klang Valley on Friday when the first firebombs were lobbed was as congested as ever, while nightspots did not report a loss of business.

A comment posted online sums it up: “I abhor what has happened thus far with regards to the attacks on churches but I am very much encouraged and comforted by the fact that rational and fair-minded Malaysians of all ages and political leanings have come forth to voice their disgust at these acts.”

Which is why even if many feel Malaysia has reached a new low in the recent attacks, it's worth noting that the widespread condemnation and revulsion to these acts is shared by an overwhelming majority who want nothing more than to live harmoniously together and to advance the country. Which is also why the authorities should go all out to nail the culprits. The sooner the better. — Business Times Singapore

Will Najib Razak Reform Malaysia?

The recent church bombings are a symptom of lagging reform.

Deaths in police custody and numerous corruption scandals continue to haunt the administration, eroding public confidence day-by-day. Thus the recent attacks jeopardize Mr. Najib's reforms as well as his credibility. Is his a government for all Malaysians? His inability to achieve a breakthrough in the nation's ethno-religious divide is becoming a palpable weakness.

By Karim Raslan, The Wall Street Journal

The fire-bombing of a number of suburban Kuala Lumpur churches over the past few days have highlighted the delicate balance of ethnic and religious interests in this generally peaceful, Muslim-majority nation. But just as importantly, the incidents have focused attention on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's leadership. After only nine months in office, he is facing a major challenge to his authority.

The church attacks are directly related to a recent High Court decision permitting non-Muslims to use the word "Allah" in Malay-language publications. For many Muslim Malays—and especially those from Mr. Najib's party, the United Malay National Organization (Umno), the decision constitutes an unprecedented affront to Malay dignity and Muslim sensitivities.

Yet other Malay Muslims, principally from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim, perhaps mindful of their mounting political support from the country's sizeable minorities, have rejected this approach. Even Mr. Anwar's conservative Muslim party coalition partner, Parti Se-Islam Malaysia, has surprised middle-class Malaysians by joining the voices of moderation. Hadi Awang, a prominent leader of that party, chose to visit a wrecked church Saturday in a show of sympathy.

Mr. Hadi's gesture is important, and not only as a sign of respect for freedom of speech and religion. With large Chinese, Indian and Christian Bornean minorities, Malaysian politics has long been a deft exercise in power-sharing and mutual tolerance. The country's political landscape is in the process of being redrawn as Umno, once the arbiter of middle-of-the-road Malay decency, lurches towards an atavistic and extremist future.

This is all the more unfortunate given Mr. Najib's well-meaning—if ineffectual—attempts to move his party back to the center. His record since his accession to power in April last year has generally been positive. Understanding the extent of popular disenchantment with the Umno-led, National Front government after their drubbing in the March 2008 national polls, the prime minister has launched a number of reform initiatives, especially on the economic front.

In anticipation of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Agreement, Mr. Najib, who is also Finance Minister, announced a major service-sector liberalization in April 2009 that centered around scrapping certain provisions of the pro-Malay, affirmative-action New Economic Policy. The NEP, a mainstay of Malaysia for decades, was long seen as an impediment to foreign and local investment.

The prime minister is also embarking on a major reformulation of the Malaysian economy, recognizing the need to push the country into more innovation-driven, high-value industries and sectors. Moreover, to tackle the perennial problem of red-tape, Mr. Najib's administration is slated to deliver a series of "National Key Result Areas" directives to various ministries this year, which will ostensibly guide reforms and ensure better delivery of public services. Malaysians have responded positively to these initiatives. The prime minister's fondness for fancy abbreviations, such as the 1Malaysia slogan, is ridiculed by detractors, but it reflects his results-oriented approach.

However, Mr. Najib's deep roots in the ruling Malay elite (he's the son of a former premier) have also imbued him with an innate conservatism and caution when it comes to handling communal issues as well as the civil-liberties agenda. Here, catchy and upbeat slogans like the 1Malaysia campaign are not enough. Malaysians want root-and-branch institutional reform. Public trust in the police and the judiciary remains extremely limited. While Mr. Najib has indicated a willingness to curtail the ruling coalition, the National Front's interventionist approach in the economic sphere, he has been unable to loosen his government's stranglehold on the media and civil society.

Many Malaysians, particularly the young, want greater political freedoms, transparency and accountability. This has not happened, and justice remains elusive. Deaths in police custody and numerous corruption scandals continue to haunt the administration, eroding public confidence day-by-day. Thus the recent attacks jeopardize Mr. Najib's reforms as well as his credibility. Is his a government for all Malaysians? His inability to achieve a breakthrough in the nation's ethno-religious divide is becoming a palpable weakness.

Mr. Najib is also facing vociferous criticism from the far right-wing of Umno, led by the still-influential former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. This group contained some of Mr. Najib's staunchest supporters as he rose to power, replacing his hapless predecessor, Abdullah Badawi. Unfortunately, Mr. Najib, whose inclinations have generally been moderate, is now in danger of being identified—if not overwhelmed—by the Mahathir camp's exclusivist agenda. Moreover, his inability to quell their rhetoric is also undermining his support amongst the non-Malay communities and indeed, many moderate Malays.

Adding to the complex situation, Umno's ethno-nationalist conservatives are becoming increasingly disgruntled with what they see as Mr. Najib's weakness in the face of challenges to Malay supremacy. The real or perceived dilution of Malay power and patronage is liable to cause a backlash. The vitriol attached to the "Allah" decision may well reflect this sentiment.

Mr. Najib is at a critical juncture. He must overcome Umno's right-wing constituency, which represents a serious threat to his government's success, to say nothing of his own personal legacy. To do that, he must take charge of the racial and religious agenda personally. Nor can he continue to ignore Malaysia's lagging civil liberties. Instead, he must display the same determination and courage that he brought to economic arena and steer his country back to calmer waters.

Mr. Raslan, a syndicated columnist and self-employed consultant, is the author of "Ceritalah 3: Malaysia a Dream Deferred" (Marshall Cavendish, 2009).

RPK Speaks His Mind - The Price of the Cause



RPK explains why he has made so many personal sacrifices to support the creation of a more democratic and transparent Malaysia.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

“Respect the syariah courts”

thenutgraph.com

LINA Joy. Indira Gandhi. S Banggarma. M Moorthy. R Subashini. M Revathi. S Shamala. The list of individuals whose rights the Barisan Nasional (BN) government and the courts have failed to protect grows long. In its efforts to out-Islamise PAS and protect its "champion of Malay-Muslim Malaysians" tag, the Umno-led BN has been unable to convincingly resolve legal loopholes arising from civil-syariah overlaps and gaps.

The BN has also been lukewarm in supporting human rights when it conflicts with issues involving Islam such as in the recent High Court ruling on the use of "Allah" and the whipping of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno.

But would the situation be any different if the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) were in power?

In the second of a two-part interview with Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, conducted on 22 Dec 2009 in Petaling Jaya, The Nut Graph seeks his views on political Islam, moral policing, and how the PR plans to remain in power in Selangor.

TNG: Islamic issues such as Kartika's whipping, the "Allah" ban, and the conversion controversies have provoked much discussion. With PAS as part of the PR, and the growing Islamisation in the country, how would you address the fears of the people who say that Malaysia could become an Islamic state like Iran?

Nik Nazmi: There's always been a tradition of moderation among Malays in the Nusantara region. That's been the dominating discourse. It's very different from Saudi Arabia and in other countries. It's very organic and has enabled us to live together peacefully for a long time.

Our constitution states that Islam is the religion of the federation. At the same time, we have to be wary of the extremities. People who don't talk about co-existence and [who talk] about imposing their will, that's dangerous as well. Similarly, those who want to ignore the Islamic tradition altogether.

I think the ulama should be very careful with politics. I'm not saying they shouldn't join politics at all; [Datuk] Nik [Abdul] Aziz [Nik Mat], for example, is playing a big influence in PAS's presence in the PR. But they have to be wary of compromises.


Nik Aziz
In the history of Islam, many ulama stayed away from power to be credible consciences of society. If they had become part of government, they would lose their independence.

There also needs to be dialogue. Dialogue does not mean completely agreeing with the other party.

There are a lot of common challenges. For example, alcoholism is an issue, whether people are Muslim or non-Muslim. Why can't Muslims work with churches and temples to combat this?

Religion being used to help society is great, but what are your views on moral policing?

The constitution is very clear about the syariah system and the space for it.

But first, we have to resolve issues together. The non-Muslim non-governmental organisations advocated a dialogue on civil-syariah overlaps such as those arising in Moorthy's case. PAS also agreed to this.

There has to be due process when people enter and leave Islam. But families affected by [conversions to Islam] should also have locus standi. There's no mechanism now to solve this issue. We're just ignoring it. Every time a case comes up, there's a debate, an argument, then it dies down.

Do you agree with the Syariah Court having criminal jurisdiction over moral issues and having power to issue fines or [to order] whipping such as in Kartika's case?

I think there is room for that under the constitution. At the same time, if you look at the history of Islam, implementation of the law was always seen as a last resort during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

There is a traditional account of a woman, Ghamidyah, who came to the Prophet to be punished for adultery. [The Prophet kept delaying her punishment, asking her to go home and think about whether she really committed the sin. Even when she was pregnant, the Prophet said she should give birth first, then later, that she should care for the child first.]

So you see, the Prophet wasn't eager to punish her immediately, that's the context he operated in, which people today misconstrue. Every single thing, they want to punish ... Muslims need to think about this. The ultimate objective of the syariah is justice. Enforcing justice to protect life, liberty and intellect.


Kartika
For Kartika's case, she also wanted to be punished. Caning under syariah is very different from caning under [non-syariah] law. I'm not saying it's painless, but it's very different from the criminal courts.

Some say she shouldn't be punished at all, that it's her right, but I think there must be respect for the syariah courts.

You mentioned in your book that it's logical that cases such as Lina Joy, who wanted to leave Islam, are handled by the Syariah Court. Do you think that the courts should have the power to disallow somebody from changing religion?

I think that there have been people who have left under the Syariah Court; they were given space to do that.

There would also be people who want to leave, but have not been allowed to do so...

In Islam, we take matters of faith very seriously. I think to emulate the West, where the state doesn't regulate anything about faith — that's not part of the Muslim tradition. But at the end of the day, the focus should be on due process.

What if an adult Malay wants to leave Islam within Malaysia?

I think that is very difficult. That is very controversial, you have to ask a scholar to answer that.

My personal opinion is that the state should be able to regulate that. I know that from a perfectly Western liberal democratic perspective, it doesn't make sense. But I think that within Islam — if it creates discord, fitnah, unease, these should be considered.

The complicated thing about apostasy in Malaysia is that it's not just religion, it's also racial. Because Malays are automatically Muslims, so if you have less Muslims, you have less Malays. That's a fear that people sometimes overlook.

Do you think it could be possible for an adult Malay-Muslim Malaysian to leave Islam under the syariah courts?

To me, I think we're just asking for due process. What Lina Joy did — she wanted to make a statement. People can say it was her right. But she wanted to just go to the National Registration Department and change her status from "Islam" to "Bukan Islam".

That is the floodgates that Muslims in Malaysia are very scared of. They want them to go through the syariah court system. That is what the constitution prescribes. Go to the syariah and go through due process.

Moving on to the PR and Selangor — what does the PR have to do to keep governing the state in the near future, as well as going into the next election?

We need to go down and explain to the people what it means to have a government that takes care of everyone.

Malay [Malaysians] are being told that they're losing out, that non-Malay [Malaysians] are controlling the government; that's the narrative that Utusan Malaysia creates. We need to explain to them that in fact, everyone benefits.

We need to show that we're not here just to make things better but to change things. It will take time, it's not easy. We've managed to implement our Merakyatkan Ekonomi programmes, push for the freedom of information act at the next sitting ... these are all concrete things.

Najib should do what Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman would have done instinctively in such a situation – to convene and preside over an inter-religio

By Lim Kit Siang,

At 9.43 am I received the following SMS from DAP MP for Rasah and Negri Sembilan State Assembly Opposition Leader Anthony Loke:

“Another church attack in Seremban. SIB Seremban church. Door was damaged. I am at the scene now.

This was followed by other SMS from him on the latest dastardly and cowardly sacrilege, viz:

“The name of the church – Siding Injil Borneo. They have BM service. This is the church mentioned by Wong Chun Wai, the fastest growing church in Malaysia.”

“Idris Jala belongs to this church.”

“The church is located less than 1km from the Seremban IPD”

This is the fourth day since the Black Friday of January 8, 2010 when Malaysia’s international reputation as a model of inter-religious peace, understanding and harmony was soiled and sullied, aggravating Malaysia’s international crisis of confidence as a safe haven for investors, tourists and international students as well as undoing all the multi-million ringgit “1Malaysia” propaganda of the past nine months.

However, apart from a RM500,000 allocation by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to help relocate the fire-bombed Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati, dire warnings by Najib and the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein not to blame Umno over the religious incitement and church attacks, and the far-from-convincing assurance by Hishammuddin that “the situation is under control”, nothing very concrete had been done to undo the grave damage to nation-building and our international image.

In my media statement yesterday, I had said:

When Najib visited New York end of November to attract American investors and boost trade and investment ties between Malaysia and the United States, he was dogged by Malaysia’s adverse international image, not only by our endemic crime rate but also controversies over moral policing and religious disputes.

Najib found out first-hand that it “takes us months” to clear up adverse international publicity like the case of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, even before the implementation of the order for six strokes of the cane for drinking beer.

If “Malaysia Kartika” is googled, it turns out 263,000 results – which is small fry if the “Allah” controversy is googled, as a google search for “Malaysia Allah” turns up 7.1 million finds, proof of the enormity of the damage the current “Allah” controversy is doing to Malaysia’s international image.

The adverse international image arising from the “Allah” controversy and the attacks on the places of worship would probably haunt all Najib’s investments overseas to attract investors, tourists and students in the rest of his premiership!

I issued my statement at about 2 pm yesterday when googling the two words “Malaysia Allah” turned up 7.1 million finds. At 12 noon today googling these two words produced 11.1 million finds or a three-million leap in less than 24 hours!

Najib should do what Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman would have done instinctively in such a situation – to convene and preside over an inter-religious roundtable to end the religious dispute over the “Allah” controversy.

Nobody is impressed by reports that the Barisan Nasional government is on the “damage-control mode”, with plans to dispatch several ministers to hold a series of dialogues between religious leaders.

All eyes will be on this Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, whether it is prepared to rise to the occasion to make amends for its past failures in allowing the “Allah” controversy to reach its present combustible point.

The biggest mistake of the Barisan Nasional Cabinet Ministers was to allow the the former Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to disrupt the religious equilibrium by imposing the ban on the use of Allah by Herald.

Yesterday I posed the following question:

Why no other Cabinet Minister, whether from UMNO, MCA, Gerakan, MIC, the Sabah and Sarawak parties had spoken up in Cabinet to stop such a ban because of long common usage of the practice particularly in Sabah and Sarawak predating the formation of Malaysia in 1963 we well as world-wide in the Middle East and Indonesia?

Can the Cabinet answer this question in a statement after its meeting on Wednesday?

The Cabinet’s mistake in 2007 was compounded by the haste with which the government appealed against the KL High Court judgment and secured an instant “stay”, without first allowing a full and balanced discussion and decision by the Cabinet last Wednesday on what was the appropriate response of the Barisan Nasional government, representing not only Umno, but also MCA, Gerakan, MIC and the Sabah and Sarawak component parties of Barisan Nasional.

The ball is in the Cabinet’s court at its meeting on Wednesday – whether it is prepared to act boldly to rescue the nine-month-old “1Malaysia” slogan and policy from having to be relegated to oblivion and to bring to a close the religious discord, hatred and incitement over the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment on the Allah controversy.

It Happened Under Your Watch, Najib!

By M. Bakri Musa

“Don’t point the fingers at UMNO or anyone else,” so declared an angry Najib Razak, responding to a question on last Friday’s bombing of a church. It was pathetic to see him react thus, a body language that bespoke of a sinister kid whose bag of malicious tricks finally exploded in his face.

Najib would like us to believe that those acts of arson were spontaneous combustion. What a pathetic attempt at extricating himself from the ugly and dangerous mess he helped create! His performance was more to convince himself, for he could not possibly convince us.

Here he was after pouring the gasoline feigning surprise when someone finally lit a match. It was Najib who only the day before the incident declared that “Muslim groups were free to protest and express their views about the ‘Allah’ issue.” Just in case that message did not register, he added that the authorities would not stop groups from gathering at mosques and protesting there. Najib’s cousin and Home Minister, Hishammuddin, echoed the same sentiments.

Obviously somebody took them at their words. It is truly touching to see these two ministers belatedly becoming so protective of citizens’ rights to protest! The pair obviously do not appreciate the subtle but enormous difference between having those rights and the wisdom to exercise them appropriately.

Najib and Hishammuddin must think that Malaysians are a dumb lot not to see through their charade. It was Hishammuddin who first unhinged that dangerous religious wrecking ball with his banning of the use of the word Allah by that Catholic publication.

Contrast the words and deeds of these two very public purveyors of the “1Malaysia” fantasy to that of the leaders of Pakatan. In a statement issued through PKR, Anwar Ibrahim declared that “the wish of the non-Muslim community to use the term ‘Allah’ is a positive and welcomed development. We must not let that be an opportunity for those with malicious intent to seize the occasion to portray themselves as champions of Islam.” Amen to that!

Anwar realized only too well the potential dangers of stoking the religious fire. To emphasize his point, Anwar called for restraint and urged his followers not to participate in the planned Friday demonstrations. It was a particularly prescient call. Anwar must have read Najib, Hishammuddin and all the other characters in UMNO well; he knew their mischievous if not evil intent.

Anwar was not alone; leaders of PAS went out of their way not only to discourage the demonstrations but also to defend the rights of the Catholic publication to use the term “Allah.”

I do not know whether Malaysians, specifically Malays, are becoming more sensible or the restraint urged on by Anwar and the others had an impact, for come Friday the demonstrations were definitely muted. The egging-on by UMNO leaders fell flat; instead the rotten eggs landed on the faces of UMNO leaders.

The exemplary stand of the opposition leaders was a stark contrast to the mischievous if not downright dangerous antics of UMNO leaders. The contrast did not end there. Immediately following the tragic incident, Selangor Pakatan Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim visited the charred church. His was a much needed and very comforting presence, as well as a deeply symbolic gesture. It was a spontaneous yet splendid demonstration of common sense and deep concern for your fellow citizens, as well as of leadership.

Najib was content to condemn the hooliganism from afar, and in the process found himself in an uncomfortably defensive position. He did not visit the damaged church until the next day, but not before he had launched his party’s People’s Champion campaign in preparation for the next elections. That was Najib’s priority.

The only UMNO leader who visited the damaged church right away was its Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin. He conveyed genuine empathy; his condemnation and expression of sympathy were genuine and heartfelt, a welcomed change from the hollowness of Najib’s.

Khairy’s presence made the absence of the other UMNO leaders that much more noticeable, and vulgar. These supposedly more seasoned UMNO leaders could learn a thing or two from Khairy on the importance of showing leadership in moments of crisis. You cannot teach that; either you have it or you don’t. Obviously Najib does not have it.

Najib’s bag of tricks was so crude that even foreign observers saw through it. “The real reason UMNO is politicizing the issue and pandering to its conservative base,” wrote the Wall Street Journal, “may be to deflect attention from its own political vulnerabilities.”

Najib had every reason to want to change the horrible headlines that were damaging his leadership, the latest being the jet engines stolen from a military base. The theft occurred during Najib’s tenure as Defense Minister but was only recently being made public.

That was not the only serious lapse of security during Najib’s tenure as Defense Minister. There was the spectacular and potentially devastating collapse of the naval base in Pularek just before its official opening. And to balance things out, there was the lethal attack on the army base in Grik, Perak, by a band of sarong-clad Al Maunah gang members. This recent revelation of the stolen jet engines was merely part of Najib’s trademark pattern of incompetence.

Thus far Najib is determined to repeat that same pattern as Prime Minister, except that he has now progressed beyond incompetence to being sinister.

It is downright malicious for Najib, Hishammuddin and others in UMNO to attempt at dividing Malaysians by needlessly treading on our religious sensitivities. Najib’s “1Malaysia” campaign has barely begun and he has already made a mockery of the ideal.

Specifically, Najib’s attempt to split Muslims in the opposition parties was brazen, crude and potentially destructive. There were initial intimations that his dirty scheming would work, what with the mainstream media continually harping on the supposed differences among the leaders of PAS and Keadilan over this issue. Najib and others must have been licking their chops, savoring the ‘brilliance’ of their strategy while remaining oblivious of the dangerous forces that they had unleashed.

Thankfully this time around Malaysians are far ahead of their leaders; we did not fall for this ugly and dangerous ploy. I am heartened that even UMNO’s own New Straits Times felt emboldened enough not to defend the administration on this matter.

In a thoughtful commentary, Rehman Rashid not too subtly reminded us of the terrible mess we found ourselves in with this manufactured crisis. Left unstated is the role of our leaders in leading us to be where we are today. Of course it would be too much to expect the mainstream media, specifically NST, to explore that. Under the circumstance, Rehman has gone as far as he could, and I applaud him for that.

In his piece Rehman wrote, “Debilitating dogmas need to be debunked, political parasites purged, and Little Napoleons stripped naked and hounded out of town.” Strong words! At least he has demonstrated that sycophantic editors (or at least their toadying editorials) are out too!

I hope that the positive gestures by Khairy and refreshingly candid commentary by Rehman would move Najib, Hishammuddin and others in UMNO away from their dangerous games. If they do not, then it is time we take the match away before they burn down the country. It is also time we tell them in no uncertain terms that they are not only unfit to lead our great nation but they also pose an imminent danger to Malaysia.

The nation suffered terribly in 1969; that national tragedy was instrumental in elevating Tun Razak to the nation’s top post. We should never risk our nation to another tragic episode under the inept and sinister leadership of his son.

We must not let Najib and his UMNO cahoots continue their bag of dirty tricks upon us. The fire next time might not be so easily contained. The conflagration then could rip us all apart. Let us not even contemplate giving them another chance; we have had enough!

Obama Says No Plan For U.S. Troops In Yemen, Somalia


U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington December 14, 2009. The United States does not plan to send U.S. troops into Yemen or Somalia as those countries struggle to contain Islamic militants, President Barack Obama said. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files
By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - The United States does not plan to send U.S. troops into Yemen or Somalia as those countries struggle to contain Islamic militants, President Barack Obama said in remarks published on Sunday.

"I have no intention of sending U.S. boots on the ground in these regions," Obama told People magazine, referring to Yemen and Somalia.

"I have every intention of working with our international partners in lawless areas around the globe to make sure that we're keeping the American people safe," Obama added, according to a transcript provided by the magazine.

Obama has said Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, appears to have trained, equipped and directed the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner bound for Detroit on Dec. 25, using explosives sewn into his underwear.

Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-inspired insurgency, has seized large areas of south and central Somalia, the Horn of Africa nation situated across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, which is located at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula.

"We've known throughout this year that al Qaeda in Yemen has become a more serious problem. And, as a consequence, we have partnered with the Yemeni government to go after those terrorist training camps and cells there in a much more deliberate and sustained fashion," Obama said.

"The same is true in Somalia, another country where there are large chunks that are not fully under government control and al Qaeda is trying to take advantage of them," he added.

The United States already has large contingents of ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have said they are looking at ways to expand military and intelligence cooperation with Yemen, the poorest Arab state, to root out al Qaeda leadership in the country.

Islamic militants bombed the USS Cole warship in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000, killing 17 U.S. sailors.

General David Petraeus, who as head of U.S. Central Command oversees an area stretching from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia, met Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Jan. 2 in Sanaa. Their talks focused on strengthening security, military and economic cooperation.

'A GOOD RESPONSE'

"Yemen does not want to have American ground troops there. And that's a good response for us to hear, certainly," Petraeus said in an interview aired on Sunday on CNN.

"Of course, we would always want a host nation to deal with a problem itself. We want to help. We're providing assistance," Petraeus added.

The United States intends to increase its security assistance funding to Yemen from $70 million last year to at least $150 million this year, Petraeus told CNN.

The United States has increased training, intelligence and military equipment provided to Yemeni forces, helping them to stage raids against suspected al Qaeda hide-outs.

While an international anti-piracy flotilla patrols the Gulf of Aden, hundreds of small boats carrying contraband shuttle undetected between Yemen and Somalia every week. Somalia's pirates continue to roam the seas and seize vessels for ransom.

Security experts also say Yemenis make up a sizable part of a foreign contingent that fights with al Shabaab's Somali rank and file and supplies bomb-making and communications expertise.

Gugurkan tuntutan

Utusan Malaysia

KOTA KINABALU 10 Jan. – Akhbar Herald-The Catholic Weekly perlu bersedia menggugurkan kes tuntutan penggunaan kalimah Allah oleh bukan Islam di mahkamah berikutan perkembangan yang semakin membimbangkan hingga mengakibatkan beberapa gereja dibakar.

Presiden Majlis Jaksa Pendamai Malaysia, Datuk Clarence Bongkos Malakun berkata, langkah tersebut perlu untuk keamanan dan kestabilan rakyat berbilang kaum di negara ini.

‘‘Sudah tiba masanya kita, masyarakat Kristian khususnya Katholik membuat penilaian kepada keadaan sekarang demi keselamatan dan ketenteraman awam supaya dengan senang hati menggugurkan perkataan Allah untuk menenangkan saudara Islam kita.

‘‘Daripada terus mendesak hak untuk menggunakan perkataan Allah adalah lebih baik jika Katholik hanya menggunakan perkataan ‘Tuhan’ atau ‘Tuhan Yang Maha Kuasa’.

‘‘Biarlah saudara Islam kita sahaja yang menggunakan perkataan Allah untuk kebajikan supaya kita dapat hidup aman damai dan harmoni di Malaysia,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan di sini hari ini.

Kelmarin, dua gereja – satu di Desa Melawati, Kuala Lumpur dan satu lagi di Jalan Templer, Petaling Jaya – mengalami kebakaran manakala satu lagi juga di Petaling Jaya menerima ugutan.

Kejadian itu mendapat kecaman daripada parti komponen Barisan Nasional (BN) dan pembangkang selain turut mengundang reaksi serupa dari pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO).

Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yang melawat gereja di Desa Melawati, semalam, mengumumkan peruntukan RM500,000 untuk membolehkan pentadbiran gereja itu membuka rumah ibadat baru di kawasan lain.

Sementara itu Clarence berkata, alasan sesetengah pemimpin Kristian bahawa kalimah Allah perlu dibenarkan hanya kerana ia sudah digunakan sejak sekian lama adalah tidak wajar.

Tegas beliau, Kristian di negara ini juga tidak sama seperti diamalkan di Indonesia, Mesir, Iraq atau Yemen kerana Malaysia mempunyai perlembagaan yang berbeza.

‘‘Tidak harus bagi kita mempertikai yang Allah biasa digunakan oleh masyarakat Kristian di negara luar kerana kita berada di Malaysia, jadi kita harus patuhi semua undang-undang dan peraturan.

‘‘Adakah kalau kita atau pihak gereja tidak gunakan perkataan Allah maka secara tiba-tiba para pengikut agama Kristian akan bertambah atau berkurang 10 kali ganda,” soalnya.

Beliau sedar ramai penganut Kristian akan mengkritik pendiriannya tetapi mereka perlu faham dan menghayati ajaran agama itu yang menyuruh pengikutnya memaafkan orang lain.

“Jika kita benar-benar Kristian, kita harus jadi orang yang memaafkan, bertanggungjawab dan cintakan keamanan. Kenapa kita harus bergaduh untuk satu perkataan,” ujarnya.

Clarence yang juga Pengerusi Institut Kajian Pembangunan (IDS) Sabah berkata, umat Kristian perlu faham mengapa orang Islam amat marah apabila kalimah itu dibenarkan penggunaannya.

Jelasnya, Allah adalah Tuhan bagi orang Islam manakala orang-orang Kristian pula lain kepercayaannya dan kalimah itu juga sudah lama digunakan secara tradisinya oleh agama Islam.

Eighth incident in Seremban

Another incident has been reported in Seremban this morning, bringing the total number to eight.

The attack only damaged the front door of the Sidang Injil Borneo church.

According to a Twitter message from Lim Kit Siang, the church is located less than 1km from the Seremban IPD. The church, which is believed to conduct Malay-language services, is said to be the “fastest growing church” in the country.

Malaysian Indians to raise racism issue at diaspora meet

New Delhi, Jan 8 : While people of Indian origin continue
to script success stories in various parts of the world, a group of human
right activists from fifth generation Indians in Malaysia claim the
situation is a little different in their country.
P. Uthayakumar, secretary general of Human Right Party in Malaysia, a
fifth generation Malaysian Indian himself, has come here to attend the
Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) 2010 conference Jan 7-9 and garner support to
raise the issue of alleged human rights violations against people of
Indian origin in Malaysia.

People of Indian origin form about eight percent of Malaysia's 27 million
population. Most are from Tamil Nadu, taken to Malaysia by the former
British colonial rulers to work in rubber plantations.

Uthayakumar, 49, told IANS: "We Indians in Malaysia, who have lived in
Malaysia for up to five generations in many cases, find ourselves hemmed
and blocked by racism and religious extremism there."

"Complete neglect of the conditions of the vast majority of the Indian
Malaysians has resulted in large scale dispossession and marginalisation
of the vast majority of Indians in Malaysia," he added.

Uthayakumar said: "The extent of human right violations can be gauged from
the fact that a group of lawyers was detained without any trial for about
one and a half years after they led a rally of Malaysian Indians in 2007
which was protesting demolition of Indian temples and growing ethnic
violence against them."

Uthayakumar himself spent 514 days in a Malaysian jail after he was
charged with sedition for using the term "ethnic cleansing".

"I was jailed without any trial under the draconian Internal Security Act.
I was released after 514 days in detention without trial on May 9, 2009.

"As soon as I go back to Malaysia after this conference I may be jailed
again for another three years under charges of 'sedition' just because I
have been raising the issue of ethnic cleansing of Malaysian Indians at
various public platforms."

There are around two million ethnic Indians in Malaysia, says a report on
human rights violations against the ethnic Indian minority, prepared under
the aegis of Human Rights Party of Malaysia by Uthayakumar and his
co-workers, mostly lawyers.

"We have documentary evidence, pictures and facts and figures to prove
that Malaysian Indians are suffering from grave human rights violations,"
he said.

Uthayakumar said he would try and present this report titled "Malaysian
Indian Minority and Human Rights Violation Annual Report 2009" during the
PBD 2010 conference.

The 59-page report lists various alleged human rights violations against
Malaysian Indians in Malaysia under 15 different categories including
education, basic citizen rights, poverty, housing, licences and permits
for trades and regulated occupations, and government funds allocation.

A copy of this report, which Uthayakumar and his colleagues would be
sharing with delegates in the conference, is with IANS.

The report says: "The current ruling coalition in government, dominated by
the UMNO (United Malay national Organisation) party runs a racist,
religious extremist and supremacist government.

"By explicit state policies the vast majority of Malaysian Indians are
excluded from the national mainstream development of Malaysia."

It adds that people of Indian origin are being systematically denied equal
opportunities.

As a result about 70 percent of the Indian Malaysians are suffering from
acute poverty, the report says. It cites several incidents related to
demolitions of Hindu temples, burial grounds and traditional settlements
of Indian Malaysians.

"Much of the details are from reports in various Malaysian dailies. These
facts cannot be argued as most of them come from the establishment
sponsored mainstream media," the report says.

http://www.newkerala.com/news/fullnews-26439.html

HINDRAF-CANDLE VIGIL TO PROTEST AGAINST STATE SPONSORED ARSON

PRESS STATEMENT 10th JANUARY 2010.

RE: ARSON ATTACK ON 4 CHURCHES.

CANDLE VIGIL TO PROTEST AGAINST STATE SPONSORED ARSON.

Hindraf condemns the recent torching of the churches in Malaysia by the incitement of the politically motivated UMNO led government.

There is nothing beyond an iota of doubt topped up with a tacit blessing by the PM in stating that those UMNO sponsored NGO’s should proceed and stage their protest against the High Court judgment that lead to the torching of the churches. Whatever UMNO may say now, it is clear from the happenings of the previous several days, that there were signals of encouragement both subtle and overt by various UMNO leaders.

In the current scenario, the High Court judgement is being exploited by the UMNO led government in their state sponsored arson action hoping to create an unrest amongst the public by fanning the religious issues to strengthen their withering support from the public through fear and intimidation.

Besides these bombings, the utterances of the Muslim zealots after the Friday prayers on the 8th of January 2009 are very threatening and seditious. The UMNO Government should prosecute those involved for sedition. . Freedom of religion as guaranteed in the constitution continues to be a pie in the sky.

Nonetheless, the UMNO led government fails to realize that the public is much more matured and in tune with the current state of the country and the failure and double standard that is being conducted by the current administration.

To express our serious concern and in solidarity with our Christian Malaysians, HINDRAF is organizing a candle light vigil in protest of the violent arson attack against the churches. All peace loving and democratic minded Malaysian brothers and sisters are invited to join us to express our concerns on the deteriorating Freedom of Religion and Minority Rights situation in the country and for us all in one voice to let it be known that these violent and criminal acts must be dealt with in the strongest of terms by the Government.

Date : 13th January 2010.

Time : 8.00pm

Location: Entrance (Outside) Assumption Church, Jalan Templer Next to Assunta Hospital.

Those Malaysians who are keen to join hand with us in this peaceful vigil, please contact our National Information coordinator S.JAYATHAS on 012-6362287.

Thank you

P.Waytha Moorthy

Chairman

Hindraf.

Anwar Ibrahim: This Is An Insult Not Only To Malaysian, But To Muslims & Islam

Mandarin : LGE wears black in solidarity with the Christians

Churches attacked in Perak, Malacca and S'wak - Malaysiakini

More churches have come under attack in Sarawak, Perak and Malacca, revealed the authorities.

Since Friday, at least seven churches have been attacked with petrol bombs.

taiping arson attack all saint church frontIn Taiping, Molotov cocktails were hurled at two churches and the guard post of a school, SM Convent.

Perak police chief Zulkifli Abdullah said there was no damage to the All Saints Church, the oldest Anglican church in the country (left), while the school's guard post suffered only minor damage.

"There were black marks on the wall (at All Saints). We believed there was a small fire earlier but there was no damage as the wall was intact," Zulkifli told AFP.

According to Bernama, he said the church keeper realised the incident at 7.30am and reported the matter to the police.

Police, who went to the scene, found two black spots on the church wall and two broken bottles believed to have been used in the incident, he said when contacted.

taiping arson attack convent secondary schoolOn the incident at SM Convent (right), he said, the school's security guard realised the incident at about 3.30am.

He added that police believed the incidents were perpetrated by opportunist individuals out to take advantage of the current issue.

He said police had stepped up the monitoring of houses of worship in the state.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has appealed for calm.

"The public need not worry, and they must not be influenced by reports on the Internet or (rumours circulating) through SMS," he added.

Black paint splashed on Melaka church

taiping church arson attack molotov cocktailAccording to Malaysiakini correspondent Humayun Kabir, St Louis Church (below), which sits adjacent to SM Convent was also struck with a bottle containing flammable liquid but with little damage.

In Malacca, Chinese daily Nanyang Siang Pau sent out a news alert that the police have confirmed that the Melaka Baptist Church in Durian Daun was splashed with black paint.

In Miri, some windows were broken when stones were thrown at the Good Shepherd Church.

Miri OCPD said the police cannot ascertain whether this case is related to those that happened in the peninsular.

Hermen Shastri, secretary-general of the Council of Churches, said officials had stepped up security in the wake of the fresh attacks.

"The attacks show they are more just a prank as it does not appear to be a major (attack), someone is trying to send a signal that they are unhappy," he said.

taiping arson attack st louis churchOver the past two days, four churches in the Klang Valley were hit by petrol bombs.

The Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati, the Assumption Church and Life Chapel Church, both in Petaling Jaya were attacked by unknown assailants between midnight and the early hours of Friday morning.

Yesterday, it was reported that the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Petaling Jaya was also attacked.

The Metro Tabernacle Church was worst hit - the ground floor of its three-storey building was completely gutted, while the other three churches suffered minor damages.

Police warn against demos at places of worship

Police today issued a warning against any demonstrations planned at places of worship, especially one rumoured at the Assumption Church in Petaling Jaya, on Jan 13.

NONESelangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said any illegal demonstration would not help ease the situation, instead it would only make it worse.

"I have been informed that an SMS was being circulated, inviting people to assemble in front of church next week, so I urge the public to discard any such plans.

"Let us carry out the investigations... let us handle it... do not take any action that may raise tension and aggravate the situation," he told reporters after visiting the church today.

He added that police would not hesitate to take stern action against anyone who broke the law, including illegal gatherings.

On claims that a mosque in Klang Jaya was attacked, Khalid said: "No such thing happened. Please do not listen to rumours and please do not speculate."

He however, confirmed that stones were thrown at a 'surau' in Klang.

No new cases in Selangor

Khalid said apart from the three attacks on churches in Selangor, no new cases were reported.

"No new cases were reported except for one case where a church was robbed," he said not revealing the identity of the church.

We are still carrying out investigations to identify those who attempted to burn down the three churches, he said.

On Friday night and Saturday morning, firebombs were thrown at the Assumption Church and Life Chapel Church in Petaling Jaya while the Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati was set on fire by unknown assailants.

The ground floor of the Metro Tabernacle Church which housed the administration block, was damaged by the fire while the two in Petaling Jaya did not suffer any serious damage.

- Bernama


comments

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    by Heng Aik Liang - 2 hours ago

    What do you expect from the attack dog of UMNO. He is well trained. After that a reward will be given for following instructions. That's how animals like dogs are trained.

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    by Thomas Foo - 2 hours ago

    A product of BTN. Nay! What will you do? Shot me dead? Arrest me? For what crime? Illegal assembly? Hey, I'm holding a candle all by myself. Nay! I'm going anyway.

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    by lucia - 3 hours ago

    huh?? what the @#%^!&!(_&^!!!! how come the demonstrations on friday at mosques are allowed but this going to be held demo at a church not allowed???????? AIN'T THAT VERY OBVIOUS BLATANT DOUBLE STANDARD!!! i also receive the SMS. it was just calling for a peaceful candle-light vigil to protest against all the attacks on churches. if it is held in the assumption church, it is consider private, just like the after friday prayers protest was held inside the mosques - so why are they not allowed to protest? GRRR!!! at the time when the tension had not died down yet, that idiot selangor police chief has to say this!!

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    by P.Dev Anand Pillai - 3 hours ago

    Well it is always alright for some to gather and to whatever they like because they belong to the right race but it is never acceptable if the others gather and respond.

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    by Victor Johan - 3 hours ago

    Wah wah wah! Based on rumours, Police already giving warnings. But when already knowing of announcements and postings made about demonstrations to be, and then organised in Mosque compounds, police did not give warning, but instead allowed speeches, especially of the burning of churches. Police, and UMNO, still thinking that the Malaysians at large are still stupid to buy into all this sandiwara.... No thinking Malaysians will assemble in the first place, and create any chaos. This can only happen in UMNO and MIC sponsored strategy or programme. Justice must not just be heard, but be seen to be happening.

MARGINALIZATION OF THE INDIANS PART FOUR. UMNO - The Root Cause Of The Endemic and Chronic Marginalization of the Indians

In the last three parts I have discussed the meaning of the term ‘Marginalization’, gave a concrete example in the life of Mariappan, discussed the basic historical events and the different ways in which unequal rights and unequal opportunities lead to economic marginalization.
In this part I am going to show how it is the specific policies of and conscious neglect ,wrapped up in a package of deceit, by the UMNO led Government that is at the root of this endemic and chronic economic marginalization of the Indians.

The UMNO strategies that created the problem.

This whole saga started with the UMNO led Alliance Government policy in the 1960s, promoting the fragmentation of the rubber estates. Various studies had shown the deleterious effects of this policy on the plantation workers, but the UMNO Government refused to accept the conclusions of these studies and went ahead and even promoted fragmentation of the estates. The first such study was conducted in 1963 by Royal Prof Ungku Aziz who refuted the notion that fragmentation of the estates was good for the national economy. This policy instead of creating a sturdy new breed of Malayan smallholders which was the stated purpose, created a class of absentee landlords and urban investors who had no concerns whatsoever for the Indian estate workers. The UMNO led Alliance government chose to reject the conclusions and recommendations of the report.

The UMNO policy that promoted fragmentation was the first of several strategies that drove the Indian workers out of their livelihoods and their descent into destitution. That was the first salvo by UMNO in collusion with the many Chinese and few Indian capitalists of those days.

The next of UMNO’s strategies that added on to the pressure to push the Indians out of the estates was the taking over of the Plantation companies by Government owned Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) in the 1980s - to name a few well known ones - Sime Darby, Guthries, Boustead, Golden Hope, Petaling, and London Asiatic. This was also accompanied by a move away from rubber to oil palm by these plantation companies as returns in oil palm were much higher. Then as need for residential, commercial and industrial properties zoomed these plantation companies used their plantation land as land banks and turned to property development. The result of this push by these UMNO policies can be seen in the data (repeated from Part One) in the table below:

Indian Population distribution
% 1970 2004
Urban 25.5 81.2
Rural 74.5 18.8

The third strategy that impacted the Indian workers in the estates adversely, that was in support of the other strategies was the importation of a large number of Indonesian workers to man the oil palm estates. The number of jobs available were reduced to the Indian workers and their wages were held down because of this cheap foreign labour.

As the Indian poor left the estates for the towns, another indirect but major impact was the higher cost of living environment in the urban areas – rents, transport, electricity and water, child care, no self supply of any vegetables or other food items. This pushed them further into poverty. All these occurred progressively and the situation of the Indian poor went from bad to worse with each of these strategies of UMNO. The Indian poor were impoverished directly by all these UMNO policies.

So, the first conclusion from all of this, is that the economic marginalization of the Indian poor was set in motion by UMNO policies.
UMNO deliberately neglects the impact of their policies on the Indian poor.

That these UMNO policies were having this effect was not unknown to the UMNO policy makers all along. Nothing I am writing here is original. Many studies have been done and reported to the Government, as I have said earlier. To name two organizations that were significantly involved and which were close to the UMNO establishment – Yayasan Sosial Strategic (the research arm of the impotent MIC) and Centre for Public Policy Studies, CPPS (research arm of ASLI- a major think-tank organization of the elite) . In fact this analysis of mine has borrowed significantly from the research done by CPPS in 2005.

Since Tunku’s time there have been 9 Five Year Malaysia Plans. These plans are basically about how the funds of the government are to be used for the various social and economic development programs of the nation. The first of these plans was during Tunku’s time from 1966 -1970. We are now at the tail end of the Ninth Malaysia Plan. The Tenth Malaysia Plan is about to start in 2011. The total development expenditure from 1966 up to 2005 was 253 Billion Ringgits - not a small amount by any measure.

The priority of these Five Year Development plans has been to develop a Malay elite in the Industrial, Commercial and recently Agricultural sectors of the economy, while allowing enough space for the Chinese businesses to operate and grow so as to avoid the political tensions and economic stagnation that potentially could occur.

At the beginning of every one of the Malaysia Plans the planners knew very well about the deteriorating position of the Indian working poor, but in every one of these Plans they chose to ignore it, because The Indians were not national priority. The problem has just multiplied as the number of Indian poor households has increased over the last 4 decades. Without appropriate intervention in the form of targeted development effort the vast majority of the Indian workers are doomed to be trapped in this vicious cycle of poverty.

The UMNO policy makers did not care about the accelerating Indian problem because the Indians had no effective political power to change UMNO’s priorities. The party representing the Indians, the MIC depended on UMNO for their representation in Government, they had no independent clout.

MIC’s role to UMNO was to just deliver the Indian votes in the mixed constituencies for UMNO and other partners at the General Elections, for which the leaders were rewarded with one Ministerial position, a couple of Deputy Minister positions and a few other positions in the government at various levels and all the little crumbs that they were thrown, lands, licences, shares preferential loans, permits, and such other handouts.

The MIC was supposed, in theory, to be the organization in Government to take care of Indian interests. Instead the leaders of MIC only took care of their own personal interest in the name of the Indians. This also fit in well with UMNO’s scheme of things. For this purpose further, the MIC leaders used the NLFCS scheme, the NESA scheme, the MIC Unit Trust Scheme, the Koperasi Pekerja Jaya company, the Maju Jaya Cooperative, the MAIKA Scheme, The AIMST and MIED funds etc.

To make matters worse they engaged in hoodwinking the Indians to cover their impotence. They created and presented a picture to the Indians, that the problems faced by the Indians were primarily due to internal factors within the community. They controlled the Indian media companies. Through them and through the mainstream media they have misled and continue to mislead the Indian poor.
What greater treachery can MIC have committed to the Indian community than that. In the name of being leaders, they have sold out the interest of the entire community for petty personal gains.

The True Culprit However Was UMNO And This Is How UMNO Operated.

Here are several specific situations that will clearly illustrate how UMNO pulled wool over the Indians’ eyes even as the situation with the community deteriorated over the last 50 odd years. Much of what I present here is excerpted from the CPPS study titled “Ensuring effective targeting of ethnic minorities: the case of low income Malaysian Indians” released sometime around 2005. This first excerpt however is directly from the Third Malaysia Plan 1976 – 80:

175. Marked shifts in the structure of the estate sector over the last decade arising from the conversion of rubber acreage into oil palm has reduced estate employment. These reductions have affected Indian workers on rubber estates most severely and Chinese workers to a lesser extent. Greater geographic and occupational mobility on their part is needed so as to reduce redundancy of estate labour. To this end, the settlement of redundant estate workers on public land schemes will be implemented. Improvement of educational facilities on estates and greater access to technical and vocational training will receive special attention from the Government as an important means for stimulating future out migration by the younger generation.

176. Together with measures to reduce underemployment in estates, the Government working in conjunction with estate management will endeavor to promote greater home ownership as well as provide basic amenities such as electricity and water supply to improve the quality of life among estate workers.

• Pursuant to this Plan declaration, there was never any settlement program of estate workers on public land scheme, like Felda or Felcra. This is an established fact.

• Educational facilities has only deteriorated over the years including the Third Malaysia Plan years, inspite of what the plan declared. This is a significant bone of contention between the Indians and the UMNO led government till today.

• There was never any increase to vocational or skills training facilities for the Indians in any year during or after the Third Malaysia Plan. This also is a well known fact.

• As for home ownership read this: in the Third MP (1976 -1980),the Government allocated RM10 million in revolving fund to provide low interest loans for plantation workers to buy houses under the scheme.

The Housing and Local Government Ministry, which managed the fund, had stopped disbursing the loans since 1980 but no details were available about the decision. In 1999, the Human Resources Ministry acknowledged that the scheme had failed and only 78 plantations had built and sold 8,171 lowcost houses to its workers. So, even the piddly amount of 10 million was only an illusion. (CPPS Study 2005)

This was obvious from comments by then Human Resources Minister Lim Ah Lek after inspecting the dilapidated wooden houses in St Andrew Estate in Batang Berjuntai in July 1991. He remarked: “The living conditions here are so pathetic that I feel guilty asking the workers to continue staying” (Malay Mail, July 24, 1991). The workers were only advised to move to another plantation, but the law was not enforced. Then Director General of Labour, Tengku Omar Tengku Bot, justified the lack of enforcement of the law in the plantations by pointing out that the department has “to be sensitive to the employer’s feelings and limitations…. We are not dealing with criminals or criminal law… . we are enforcing social law here”(Sunday Star, July 28, 1991).

The Administration worked hand in glove with UMNO the political party to carry out this ongoing deceit.

Inspite of the specific declarations and statements in the Third Malaysia Plan (1976- 1980) nothing ever materialized on any count.

• In the 6th and 7th Malaysia Plan spanning 1991-2000 the plan continued to acknowledge the severity of the problems facing segments of the Indian community.

• In 1991, the National Economic Consultative Council (NECC) expressed that the Indian community had not benefited much under the NEP. The council recommended to the Government that affirmative action policies be initiated for Indians during the National Development Plan period (1991 - 2000).

• Its recommendations included:
1. monthly wages for estate workers
2. opening kindergartens in plantations
3. converting all partially aided Tamil primary schools to fully aided ones
4. providing training programmes for youths and workers in the plantations to improve their earning capacities
5. enabling the Indians to set up a commercial bank, a finance institution and an insurance company
6. setting up a trust fund to provide credit facilities for Indians to invest in the share market
7. creating a special scholarship fund for Indian students to attain tertiary education abroad
8. introducing affirmative action measures similar to those used to assist the bumiputera community.

The NECC report is also particularly important as it was the outcome of protracted negotiations by a large representative group of Malaysians, with Indians in a small minority. The fact that this report by a predominantly non-Indian group of leaders found it necessary to draw special attention to the developmental problems of the Indian poor shows clearly the magnitude of the problem and its significance in the overall context of national development. Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz, Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Dato’ Seri Sharizat Jalil, Dato’ Seri Dr. Jamaluddin Jarjis, Dato’ Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, Dato’ Seri Ong Ka Ting. Other members included Tan Sri Dr.Koh Tsu Koon, Dato’ Seri Kerk Choo Ting, Dato’ Chua Jui Meng, Dato’ Ong Tee Keat, Datin Paduka Dr. Tan Yee Kew, Dato’ Fu Ah Kiow were some of the noteable non Indian figures in the NECC.

Now it is 18 years after these recommendations were made – do you see if any one of their recommendations, even one, that has been implemented. What bloody nonsense!

Do I need say more? This is nothing short of a huge deceit of an entire community. This deceit was perpetuated by the UMNO government with the connivance of its racist Government administrative machinery and the bloody mandores in the MIC. Can one be faulted for being angry and disillusioned with them for this scale of deception .

None of the problems which the Indian community faces today is not solvable with appropriate strategies. The problems are all clearly actionable – meaning it did not need to have mushroomed at all if there had been timely and appropriate intervention.

In summary what UMNO did these 52 years was this:
• Come out with grand sounding policies to address the problems of the Indians
o in the five year Malaysia Plans
o before every one of the last 12 General elections and the various by- elections in between
o during the annual MIC General Assemblies.

• Then after that,
o forget what was said or written or committed
o do nothing about it all because UMNO need not account to anybody, for they are the Tuan, the Mandores dare not open their mouths lest they lose their privileges
o do something small for the purpose of showcasing and then make a very big deal about it
o MIC for its part as the “Jaalra” as we say in Tamil, amplifies the crumbs as thought these were major interventions or major efforts.
o Throw a few crumbs at the MIC leaders.

So, there you have it, the story of the deception over the last 52 years.

The second conclusion from all of this, is that the UMNO government knew about the Indian problem but it chose to ignore the problem and in connivance with MIC deceived the Indians with illusions of attention and of things to come.

What do we now have:
1) A serious problem created by the UMNO government on the Indians and
2) Total abdication by UMNO of any responsibility towards resolving the problem they created.

We are not even saying this problem should be solved by UMNO because the Indians are citizens of the country, but because UMNO created this problem in the first place, they should take ownership for solving this problem. The ones who create the problem must take responsibility for finding the solution is a basic norm of our society.

Any and all of what I have written can be challenged. Everything I have quoted has been obtained from the public domain. If you do not agree with my conclusions, it will only be because you do not want to come to the conclusions I have come to because you do not like those conclusions. If you are objective about the situation you will have no difficulty concurring with my conclusions.

UMNO created the Indian problem, UMNO should now take responsibility for solving it or UMNO should be kicked out from the seat of power and the Indian poor in particular and the Indians in general, do have within them the ability to kick UMNO out of its seat of power.
Creating this awareness is one of the necessary steps to achieving this. So please circulate these analyses as widely as possible. There is more positive action that is being planned from us at Hindraf/HRP in the months ahead . Support all of those initiatives and together we will get there. we will get there!

Viva la Makkal
Naragan