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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

7.0 quake hits Haiti; 'Serious loss of life' expected


(CNN) -- A major earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, knocking down buildings and power lines and inflicting what its ambassador to the United States called a catastrophe for the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.

Several eyewitnesses reported heavy damage and bodies in the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where concrete-block homes line steep hillsides. There was no estimate of the dead and wounded Tuesday evening, but the U.S. State Department has been told to expect "serious loss of life," department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington.

"The only thing I can do now is pray and hope for the best," the ambassador, Raymond Alcide Joseph, told CNN.

Pictures sent to CNN's iReport show homes and small businesses in Haiti that have collapsed.

The magnitude 7.0 quake -- the most powerful to hit Haiti in a century -- struck shortly before 5 p.m. and was centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It could be felt strongly in eastern Cuba, more than 200 miles away, witnesses said.

Mike Godfrey, an American contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said "a huge plume of dust and smoke rose up over the city" within minutes of the quake -- "a blanket that completely covered the city and obscured it for about 20 minutes."

Witnesses reported damaged buildings throughout the capital, including the president's residence and century-old homes nearby, and The Associated Press reported that a hospital collapsed. President Rene Preval is safe, Joseph said, but there was no estimate of the dead and wounded Tuesday evening.

He said an official of his government told him houses had crumbled "on the right side of the street and the left side of the street."

"He said it is a catastrophe of major proportions," Joseph said.

Impact Your World: How you can help

Frank Williams, the Haitian director of the relief agency World Vision International, said the quake left people "pretty much screaming" all around Port-au-Prince. He said the agency's building shook for about 35 seconds, "and portions of things on the building fell off."

"None of our staff were injured, but lots of walls are falling down," Williams said. "Many of our staff have tried to leave, but were unsuccessful because the walls from buildings and private residences are falling into the streets, so that it has pretty much blocked significantly most of the traffic."

Read what people in Haiti are saying via social media

Haiti's government is backed by a U.N. peacekeeping mission established after the ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

The headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Port-au-Prince collapsed, a U.N. official told CNN.

There was no immediate report of any dead or wounded from the building, but Alain Le Roy, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations said of the 9,000-member, Brazilian led-force, "For the moment, a large number of personnel remain unaccounted for."

Outside the capital, several people were hurt when they rushed to get out of a school in the southwestern city of Les Cayes, said the Rev. Kesner Ajax, the school's executive director. Two homes in the area collapsed and the top of a church collapsed in a nearby town, he said, but he did not know of any fatalities.

Les Cayes, a city of about 400,000 people, is about 140 miles (225 kilometers) southwest of Port-au-Prince.

The quake took place about 6 miles (10 kilometers) underground, according to the USGS -- a depth that can produce severe shaking. At least 10 aftershocks followed, including two in the magnitude 5 range, the USGS reported.

Appeals for aid after quake strikes Haiti

Jean Bernard, an eyewitness in Port-au-Prince, told CNN the city had no electricity Tuesday evening. The first quake lasted 35 to 40 seconds, he said.

"A lot of houses [and] buildings went down, and people are still running all over the streets," Bernard said. "People are looking for their wives, looking for their husbands and their kids. It's scary."

Luke Renner, an American staying in Cap-Hatien, a city nearly 100 miles north of Port-au-Prince, said he was sitting at his home when "the whole world started to shake."

"It felt like our whole house was balancing on a beach ball," Renner said. "We heard the whole community screaming and in an uproar during that whole 20- to 30-second window."

"I haven't seen any structural damage here," Renner continued. "With the sun setting it may be difficult to tell. In the morning we'll know for sure."

Because of the earthquake's proximity to the capital, and because the city is densely populated and has poorly constructed housing, "it could cause significant casualties," said Jian Lin, a senior geologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

In Washington, President Obama said the U.S. government would "stand ready to assist the people of Haiti." At the Pentagon, the U.S. military said humanitarian aid was being prepared for shipping, but it was not yet clear where or how it would be sent. A U.S. aviation source said the control tower at the Port-au-Prince international airport collapsed, possibly hindering efforts to fly relief supplies into the country.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that Washington is offering "our full assistance" to Haiti."

The deputy chief of the U.S. mission in Haiti, David Lindwall, told Clinton that he saw "significant damage" from the quake and said U.S. officials there expect "serious loss of life," Crowley said.

And Clinton's husband, former President Clinton -- now the U.N. special envoy for Haiti -- said the world body was "committed to do whatever we can to assist the people of Haiti in their relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts."

The United States has been heavily involved in Haiti commercially, politically and militarily for most of the last century. U.S. intervention under Clinton restored Aristide to power in 1994 after a 1991 coup, and a U.S. jet hustled him out of the country again in 2004 following a rapidly spreading uprising against his government.

The disaster is the latest to befall the country of about 9 million people, roughly the size of Maryland. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and among the poorest in the world.

With people stripping the trees for fuel and to clear land for agriculture, the mountainous countryside has been heavily deforested. That has led to severe erosion and left Haitians vulnerable to massive landslides when heavy rains fall.

Hurricane Gordon killed more than 1,000 people in 1994, while Hurricane Georges killed more than 400 and destroyed the majority of the country's crops in 1998. And in 2004, Hurricane Jeanne killed more than 3,000 people as it passed north of Haiti, with most of the deaths in the northwestern city of Gonaives.

Gonaives was hit heavily again in 2008, when four tropical systems passed through.

In addition, a Haitian school collapsed in November 2008, killing more than 90 people and injuring 150 -- a disaster authorities blamed on poor construction.

Eighty percent of Haiti's population lives under the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Anwar's 'qazaf' suit adjourned pending Saiful's application

Anwar's 'qazaf' suit adjourned pending Saiful's application - Malaysiakini

The Federal Territory Syariah High Court today set Feb 17 for re-mention of Anwar Ibrahim's bid to expedite his qazaf (false accusation) charge against former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

NONESyariah High Court judge Mohd Shukor Sabudin fixed the matter after the respondent's lawyer Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar asked for another date to file a preliminary objection.

The preliminary objection, he said, was based on three grounds:

1) The court's jurisdiction to hear the matter

2) Non-compliance with application procedures

3) Zulkifli Noordin's status as Anwar's lawyer due to conflict of interest and breach of ethics under Syariah practice.

Zainul said that he would file the affidavit in reply to Anwar's qazaf application and the preliminary objection together before or on the date of the hearing.

Anwar, who is also the Opposition Leader, was not present in court today as he was attending the international Islamic Scholars conference in Beirut said his lead counsel, Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman.

'Two different matters'

Anwar in his suit has named FT Syariah public prosecutor Shamsuddin Hussain, FT religious department head Che Mat Che Ali and minister in charge of religious affairs Jamil Khir Baharom as respondents.

anwar pc at penang 080110 02The Permatang Pauh MP has also asked the court to instruct Che Mat and Jamil to "stop or influence" the chief public prosecutor from carrying out his duties in prosecuting Saiful.

He also argued that the the qazaf before the Syariah Court and sodomy charge at the High Court are two different matters.

In October, Jamil told Parliament that the prosecution is waiting for the civil court to complete hearing the sodomy trial, where Anwar (right) is an accused.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has scheduled Jan 25 to Feb 25 to hear the matter. Anwar has pleaded not guilty to sodomising Saiful.

Anwar had filed the qazaf application on July 9, 2008 with the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department against Saiful for making "false allegations" against him.

Anwar, 62, is facing a criminal trial at the Kuala Lumpur High Court for allegedly sodomising Saiful, 24, at a condominium in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.

MACC prepared to meet PI Bala abroad over Altantuya case

Bala has made a series of claims that involved the prime minister. — Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 13 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today declared it is prepared to meet private detective P. Balasubramaniam anywhere — even abroad — over his allegations linked to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder.

The missing private investigator has made a series of claims that involve Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his family. He has denied all claims, calling them “scurrilous statements”.

"For us, Balasubramaniam is the main witness. We are prepared for it anywhere, even abroad," newly-minted MACC chief Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed told reporters here.

Last month, Bala emailed the offer to meet MACC investigators over his claims contained in a series of videotaped interviews broadcasted over the Youtube site and the Malaysia Today news portal.

Altantuya, a Mongolian interpreter, was found killed in October 2006. Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda was acquitted of plotting her murder while two elite special action squad policemen were found guilty last year for her death.

Stones hurled at Sentul Sikh temple

Close-up of the damage done to the glass door at the entrance to the temple.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — A sliding glass door to the entrance of a Sikh Temple in Sentul here was found cracked late yesterday by a barrage of stones, making it the first non-Christian house of worship hit since the controversial landmark “Allah” ruling.

The Sikhs also use the term to describe God in their Punjabi language and had unsuccessfully sought to be part of the Roman Catholic Church’s legal suit to use the name to the anger of Muslims in Malaysia who claim it is exclusive to them.

Eight Christian churches and a convent school in Selangor, Perak, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Sarawak have been hit since Jan 8 in attacks linked to the Dec 31 High Court decision that has provoked Muslim outrage.

The stoning of the Sikh temple or gurdwara in Jalan Haji Salleh near the former Sentul Railway Yard comes a week before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib makes a three-day official visit to India on Jan 19 to meet his counterpart Manmohan Singh, a Sikh himself, and reflects the government’s struggle to contain the issue and keep it from spiraling out of control.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Muhammad Sabtu Osman confirmed the incident when contacted by Bernama news agency.

During the incident, he said, several volunteers who were busy cleaning the temple witnessed stones flying into its main entrance and immediately alerted the police.

Some 20 stones were thrown from outside the temple compound, he said, adding that police had retrieved the stones and were carrying out further investigations.

The Sikh temple officials have appealed for calm in the wake of the attack.

They are an important minority among the Indians who form seven per cent of the 28 million population.

In the earlier attacks against Christian churches, the perpetrators had used firebombs, stones and paint with the worst hit being the Metro Tabernacle church in Desa Melawati which was partially gutted.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was on TV3 last night saying the situation was under control and the attacks were isolated incidents.

He also vowed to use the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for detention without trial, against those who stoke religious tension.

Hishammuddin, who is Najib’s cousin and also son of a former prime minister like Najib, also praised the maturity of Malaysians for not being baited to respond in the string of attacks.

The Christian community, who form 9.1 per cent of the population, have responded with prayers for peace and unity, Muslims form nearly 60 per cent of Malaysia.

The government has said it will hold private inter-faith dialogues to discuss the issue while the opposition have called for a state interfaith council to solve touchy religious issues in the multiracial country.

Malaysia’s political parties take new hues

By Maznah Mohamad - The Malaysian Insider

SINGAPORE, Jan 13 — In Malaysia’s current political climate, it is no longer possible to distinguish Islamic radicals from Islamic moderates. Despite official boasting about the country’s diversity and commitment to pluralism, Islam and the government have essentially merged.

Over two decades, the government led by the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) has invested enormous resources in building up a network of Islamic institutions.

The government’s initial intention was to deflect radical demands for an extreme version of Islamic governance.

Over time, however, the effort to outdo its critics led Umno to over-Islamicise the state.

Umno’s programme has put syariah law, syariah courts, and an extensive Islamic bureaucracy in place. The number of Islamic laws instituted has quadrupled in just over 10 years.

After Iran or Saudi Arabia, Malaysia’s syariah court system is probably the most extensive in the Muslim world. The accompanying bureaucracy is not only big but also has more bite than the national Parliament.

Islamic laws are based on religious doctrine but codified and passed as statutes by state Parliaments. Not much debate attends their enactment, because a fear of heresy keeps most critics from questioning anything deemed Islamic.

While Umno still trumpets its Islamic advocacy, the party is facing difficult choices, particularly as it wishes to maintain foreign investment in an increasingly polarised environment.

For example, Minister for Home Affairs Hishammuddin Hussein recently held a press conference to support Muslims who demonstrated against the construction of a Hindu temple in their neighbourhood.

The protesters paraded a severed, bloody cow’s head in the street, then spat and stomped on it. This was an offence to Malaysia’s Hindus, who consider the cow a sacred animal.

Just a week earlier, a young mother by the name of Kartika was sentenced by Malaysia’s Syariah Court to six lashes of the cane and fined after she was caught drinking beer at a hotel.

Although the sentence was still in limbo, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin publicised his acceptance of the punishment by inviting the official floggers to his office to demonstrate how an Islamic caning is carried out.

They used a chair as a mock target, and left the minister satisfied that Islamic caning can be appropriately used as a punishment for women.

Ironically, Hishammuddin is far from being an Islamic hardliner. The son of Malaysia’s third prime minister and a cousin of the current Prime Minister, he is widely considered to be modern, moderate and cosmopolitan.

The true hardliner is Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the Menteri Besar of Kelantan state and also the spiritual leader of Malaysia’s largest Islamic party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

But Mr Nik Aziz opposed the anti-Hindu protest, and went so far as to say that anti-Muslim protesters in Britain were more civilised in their approach.

Hence, it is no longer accurate to think of PAS as a fundamentalist party and Umno as moderate.

Party strategies are leading them in unexpected directions. Umno’s radical turn is being matched by PAS’ attempts at moderation. PAS is aiming for the most unlikely of voters: non-Muslims, who account for 40 per cent of Malaysia’s population and are increasingly alienated from Umno.

Umno, meanwhile, is intent on dividing the opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat, of which PAS is a member. Led by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, the alliance has picked up political momentum since making real gains in the last general election.

Concerned by its losses, Umno has staked a claim to be the defender of Islam in Malaysia.

The ‘cow head’ protest, which was led by Umno members, was an example. The formula is simple: portray Islam as being threatened by infidels, and then have Umno ride to the rescue of the besieged Muslim community.

The caning of Kartika, on the other hand, was not an example of political manipulation, and for this reason is perhaps even more worrisome. Her sentence was roundly supported by modernist Muslim intellectuals, who insisted that the punishment was justly applied and cannot be questioned because it had divine sanction.

These are not politicians, but former idealists who are happy that their goal of Islamicising the state is being realised. Most are anti-Umno and support PAS.

As a result, Umno finds itself squeezed between an Islamic lobby that presses for greater ‘Talebanisation’ of the country, and the rising voices of international critics, who cannot be ignored, because the party needs both radical supporters and foreign investors to stay in power.

Balancing these two constituencies is becoming increasingly difficult for Umno.

But the opposition will also be forced to figure out the role of religion in Malaysia, if ever they get an opportunity to form a government. A young Islamic radical, Datuk Seri Anwar, used to ask: How does one Islamicise government? Now he has to figure out how to govern one. — The Straits Times

Kelantan Regent to hold special prayers with subjects

By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 – The Regent of Kelantan, Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra, will lead a ‘prayer of need’ ceremony in Kota Bahru tomorrow evening to seek stability in the state.

The prayers will be held at the Sultan Mohammad IV Stadium and is part of the palace’s attempt to gain the confidence of its people.

“It is not unusual for the Regent to lead the prayers session, but this time it is held to fulfil the wishes of the people,” Comptroller of the Kelantan palace Datuk Abdul Halim Hamad told The Malaysian Insider.

He also said that the special prayers are also to seek God’s assistance to prevent the Kelantan palace from becoming victim of slander.

Abdul Halim said that the Regent will arrive at the Kota Bahru airport from Kuala Lumpur tomorrow, and the people are invited to welcome him.

Yesterday, the palace organised a briefing session for the state’s civil servants and mosque officials on the Kelantan constitution and the role of the Regent in the absence of the Sultan Ismail Petra who is currently undergoing treatment in Singapore.

At the briefing, which was attended by some 2,000 people, they were reminded not to discuss, unnecessarily, the situation of the Kelantan palace without understanding the state constitution.

“Because some people do not understand the law, it resulted in undesirable actions that affect the state’s harmony,” Abdul Halim reportedly told the crowd.

The briefing was also attended by state executive councillor Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan and secretary to the government Datuk Mohd Aiseri Alias.

Confusion over the role of Faris arose when his brother the Tengku Temenggung Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Petra attempted to act on behalf of the Sultan, before the palace swiftly responded that only the Regent has the authority to speak for the royal house.

Fakhry has been removed from the state’s Council of Succession and is challenging the decision made by his brother who was appointed Regent in May last year.

Money leaving Malaysia in massive amounts and bizarre fashion

by Free Malaysia today

SHAH ALAM: Malaysia’s once strong foreign exchange reserves is bordering on collapse, according to a UBS Securities Asia Limited report. It says that in 2009, Malaysia experienced the biggest foreign exchange reserve losses among Asian countries.

It says official reserves fell by more than one-quarter on a valuation-adjusted basis.

Describing the situation as bizarre, it notes that Malaysia used to have the largest current account surplus in Asia–at around 17% of GDP.

“Over the past 12 months, Malaysian reserves nearly collapsed” while neighbours like Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China “have seen sizeable increases,” it says.

It says foreign capital outflows from Malaysia in the last year was nearly 50 percent of its GDP.

“When we measure implied net flows using the same rough methodology as in used on Russia, the numbers are simply stunning. [Malaysia showed] peak outflows of nearly 50% of GDP,” it says, noting that the outflow was larger than anything witnessed in the world of emerging markets (EM).

The report also says Malaysia over the past 12 months recorded one of the biggest base money contractions in the entire EM world.

It asserts that recent outflows were “far, far bigger than those Malaysia experienced in the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.”

The full report follows:

Malaysia–Another Bizarre Story

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood. — Henry Miller

Microsoft Word - 09015aec8015570a.doc

What it means
After last year’s series of notes on EM countries with “bizarre” money and credit behavior (Chile, Kazakhstan and Vietnam, see Tales of the Bizarre, EM Daily, 4-6 November 2009), we need to add one more to the list: the very strange case of Malaysia.
Question: which Asian country had the biggest FX reserve losses in 2009? The answer is Malaysia, and by a very wide margin; we estimate that official reserves fell by well more than one-quarter on a valuation-adjusted basis. Why is this bizarre? Well, in the first place because Malaysia runs a current account surplus – and not just a mild surplus but rather the largest in Asia, around 17% of GDP. Other structural surplus neighbors like China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand have all seen sizeable increases in FX reserves over the past 12 months … and yet Malaysian reserves nearly collapsed.

How did this happen? In short, Malaysia must have seen massive foreign capital outflows – and sure enough, when we measure implied net flows using the same rough methodology as in our note on Russia earlier in the week (Watching Money in Russia, EM Daily, 5 January 2010), the numbers are simply stunning: peak outflows of nearly 50% of GDP, i.e., more than twice as large as in the “capital flight” case of Russia and many orders of magnitude larger than anything witnessed in the average EM country (Chart 2).1 In fact, the
recent outflows are far, far bigger than those Malaysia experienced in the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis (Chart 3).

Microsoft Word - 09015aec8015570a.doc

It gets stranger. Unlike Russia, Ukraine, the Gulf states or other recent EM capital flight economies, Malaysia didn’t see any net external inflows in the run-up to the current crisis. Indeed, Malaysia has not recorded a year of positive net capital inflows since 1997, i.e., there wasn’t exactly a large pool of “hot” money parked onshore waiting to leave. Nonetheless, as shown in the above charts, capital is apparently still leaving Malaysia in large quantities as of the latest data points – long after most other emerging countries began to see net inflows again.

1 Implied capital flows in Chart 2 are defined as the difference between valuation-adjusted FX reserve accumulation and the current account balance. Flows in Chart 3 are defined as the difference between the overall balance of payments and the current account balance.

Nor, in contrast to all the above-named economies (and in contrast to Eastern Europe in general), did Malaysia have any noticeable increase in domestic leverage – both broad money M2 and bank credit actually declined as a share of GDP since the beginning of the decade.

So where on earth did the outflows come from?

Certainly not local deposits. Unlike Russia, Ukraine or other CIS economies, there was no outflow from the domestic deposit base; M2 growth in Malaysia is still very comfortably positive, in sharp contrast to the Russian figures we published a few days ago (Chart 4).Microsoft Word - 09015aec8015570a.doc

And this despite a massive, unprecedented decline in high-powered “base” money, as shown in Chart 4. Indeed, over the past 12 months Malaysia recorded one of the biggest base money contractions in the entire EM world, matched only by the Baltic states (Chart 5). This is in part because the Malaysian central bank responded with a sharp drop in reserve requirements to keep banks liquid … but still, we can’t help but note that the domestic financial system seems uniquely unaffected by apparent capital outflows.

Microsoft Word - 09015aec8015570a.doc

In fact, perhaps the most surprising feature of the economy is that interest rates have fallen steadily. In 1997-98, with much lower ex-post outflow pressures, Malaysian short-term interest rates skyrocketed into the high teens; last year the same thing happened in some other countries with strong outflows pressures. Meanwhile, during 2009 Malaysian rates settled in comfortably at around 2% per annum and show no signs of rising substantially any time soon. What is going on? How do we square this circle? To be honest, we’re not really sure – but we strongly suggest the interested reader turn to ASEAN economist Ed Teather for further answers. For additional information on Malaysia, Ed Teather can be reached at edward.teather@ubs.com.

  • Analyst Certification

Each research analyst primarily responsible for the content of this research report, in whole or in part, certifies that with respect to each security or issuer that the analyst covered in this report: (1) all of the views expressed accurately reflect his or her personal views about those securities or issuers; and (2) no part of his or her compensation was, is, or will be, directly or indirectly, related to the specific recommendations or views expressed by that research analyst in the research report.

Required Disclosures

This report has been prepared by UBS Securities Asia Limited, an affiliate of UBS AG. UBS AG, its subsidiaries,branches and affiliates are referred to herein as UBS. For information on the ways in which UBS manages conflicts and maintains independence of its research product; historical performance information; and certain additional disclosures concerning UBS research recommendations, please visit www.ubs.com/disclosures. The figures contained in performance charts refer to the past; past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. Additional information will be made available upon request.

Company Disclosures

Issuer Name
Chile
China (Peoples Republic of)
Kazakhstan
Malaysia
Russia
Singapore
Taiwan
Thailand (Kingdom of)
Ukraine
Vietnam4
Source: UBS; as of 08 Jan 2010.

4. Within the past 12 months, UBS AG, its affiliates or subsidiaries has received compensation for investment banking services from this company/entity.

Death in custody No. 1805 : Day 4 of Gunasegaran’s inquest today

By Haris Ibrahim

I had last reported on the inquest proceedings HERE.

The hearing resumes today at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrates Court at the Court Complex of Jalan Duta.

It is scheduled to continue tomorrow and on the 19th and 25th of this month.

I had last promised a report of the proceedings on 16th December.

The same, prepared by one who sat in on the proceedings, followed by a reproduction of the report in BERNAMA, appear below.

_________________________________________

The 3rd day of the Gunasegaran inquest revealed some pertinent information.

A key prosecution witness, the arresting officer, Corporal Norazman said he had not included the name of the deceased, R. Gunasegaran, in the arrest report which named the other 4 arrested along with him.

His stated reason was that the deceased was in possession of a substance believed to be drugs

However he had not reported it and does not know what had happened to the substance.

He also gave a series of evasive answers in denying any assault of the victim.

When Visva told this witness in cross-examination that there were witnesses to the assault of the deceased, this witness responded that he had not witnessed any assault.

Visva : The deceased was hit with a stick?

Witness : I did not see this.

Visva : The deceased was kicked?

Witness : I did not see this.

The witness explained that he was doing documentation in a front room and did not see the deceased collapse at the back near the toilet before the deceased could give his urine sample.

He was uncertain if the deceased was alive while being taken to the hospital about 7 pm as his eyes were open.

The witness confirmed that he did not check the deceased for any pulse , nor was he aware of anyone administering first aid to the deceased.

He said he learnt of the victim’s death only after being told by ( DSM) Rajinder

However he could not explain why the pathologist’s report said he was told the victim had died at 17.30.

The witness affirmed that the arrest report was to confirm arrest but could not explain why the deceased, who was arrested along with 4 others at about 5pm was not included in the report filed at 6.21pm.

Although he had earlier stated the reason was the victim was in possession of substances suspected to be drugs, implying Gunasegaran’s arrest was reported separately, in the course of the hour long cross-examination, it was apparent that no such report had been made.

Visva chided him for misleading the court.

Asked again why he had not made the arrest report, there was a long pause before he replied that “it was done by Rajinder, not that it was not done”. (Rajinder’s was not a separate report but a “menambah fakta” at 8.27pm to the original report done at 6.21.- i.e, well after the victim had died).

The witness disagreed with Visva’s suggestion that there was an attempt to cover up the death in custody, to dump his body somewhere, off the record.

Visva put it to him that he did not come to court to tell the truth.

Earlier , in the course of the cross examination, the witness became agitated and argued with Visva in a raised voice.

Visva asked the court to caution the witness and to cite him for contempt if he persists in showing disrespect to an officer of the court.

The next witness was Rajinder, after which Visva requested to visit the lock-up where the death took place.
Photographs of the location were taken.

______________________________

Coroner visits Gunasegaran’s cell
Dec 16, 09 9:23pm
Coroner Siti Shakirah Mohtarudin today visited the Sentul District Police Headquarters, where R Gunasegaran was detained before he died at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital on July 16.

Siti Shakirah, who is handling the inquest on Gunasegaran’s death, arrived at the police station’s Narcotics Crime Investigation Division at 3.10pm.

She was accompanied by Deputy Public Prosecutor, Shashita Mohd Hanipa, lawyer M Visvanathan who is representing Gunasegaran’s family, and several police personnel.

Earlier, Visvanathan made a request to Siti Shakirah that the court make a visit to look at the actual situation of the lock-up where Gunasegaran was detained.

Meanwhile, the third prosecution witness, Cpl Norazman Mohamad, 45, told the court earlier that he did not make any documentation on Gunasegaran, that is, the report on his urine test because the detainee could not urinate.

“In this context, I only recorded his (Gunasegaran) finger prints, even then, I only managed to complete one sheet,” said Norazman.

When questioned by Shashita, the witness said he did not see the incident where Gunasegaran was said to have collapsed and fainted because he was involved in processing the documentation of other detainees.

No injuries on Gunasegaran

Norazman told the court that he only came to know about the incident when told by Sgt Major Rajinder Singh who took Gunasegaran to the hospital.

The inquest was being carried out to determine the cause of death for Gunasegaran, who had fainted while his finger prints were being recorded between 6.45pm and 7pm, and later died at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital at 7.40pm.

Norazman disagreed with Visvanathan’s contention that other police personnel had purportedly hit and kicked Gunasegaran for not urinating.

“I did not see other police personnel hitting or kicking the victim to the extent that he had fainted and during his detention, there was no injury due to assaults because whenever there is an arrest, we merely hold the detainee,” he added.

The inquest continues on Jan 13, next year.

- Bernama

Ampun Tuanku, patik mohon derhaka

by Haris Ibrahim

There was a time when a king could do no wrong.

Actually, it was not that the king could do no wrong, but one was not to notice the regal cock-up.

And if one did notice, one was not to advert to it.

Talk of the king boo-booing was treasonous.

And if such talk reached the ears of the king, you were liable to have your head parted from your neck.

But that was then.

Much has changed since.

Changed so much that, in some jurisdictions, kings who have done wrong have had their heads parted from their necks, by their very own subjects.

But that was then.

Much has changed since.

These days, people do not resort to the vulgarities of the past.

At least, more often than not, they do not.

Us, for instance.

We have laws.

And a supreme Constitution.

Supreme over all.

Without exception.

And just as it laid the foundation for our system of a constitutional monarchy with a unique system of rotation to fill that monarch’s position from amongst our sultans, so too the Constitution entrenched the fundamental rights of the monarch’s subjects.

Neither monarch nor subject can deny to each other what the Constitution bestows on both.

Take the recent decision of Her Ladyship, Justice Lau Bee Lan in the Herald case.

What did Her Ladyship declare?

I haven’t had the good fortune to read her written grounds of judgment, but, according to this Malaysiakini report, the learned judge had ruled that the “Catholic weekly The Herald can use the word ‘Allah’ and that the term is not exclusive to Islam” and “that all Malaysians had the constitutional right to use the word ‘Allah’ under Article 11 of the federal constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of religion and the practice of it”.

That decision is under appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Let’s say that, much to our surprise, that appeal and a final appeal to the Federal Court fails.

That would confirm Justice Lau Bee Lan’s pronouncement to be good law.

Until her judgment is set aside on appeal, Justice Lau Bee Lan’s pronouncement represents the law.

That would mean that, as the good judge has pronounced, under the Constitution, all Malaysians shall have the constitutional right to use the word ‘Allah’ under Article 11 of the federal constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of religion and the practice of it”.

No one, be he king or pauper, can deny any Malaysian that right, whilst Her Ladyship’s decision stands.

It is incumbent upon every self-respecting Malaysian to not countenance any move, by any means, from any quarter, to deny any Malaysian that right.

Najib’s options with Allah

By Wong Chin Huat
thenutgraph.com


How will Najib put out the fires? (Fire pic by straymuse / sxc.hu)

COMMENTATOR Manjit Bhathia is right to say that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak "is starting to look every bit as useless as his predecessor, (Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi."

After the divisive rule of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, Abdullah started his premiership with similar appeals as Najib: ethno-religious moderation and governmental reform. In a way, Najib's 1Malaysia is but a secular version of Abdullah's Islam Hadhari; his Key Performance Indicators and National Key Result Areas are but an upgraded version of Abdullah's short-lived reform to shape up the bureaucracy and combat corruption.

Beginning his term by winning the highest parliamentary majority since Independence, Abdullah soon became the first Barisan Nasional (BN) prime minister to lose the coalition's customary two-thirds control of Parliament. Why did this happen? Indecisiveness — Abdullah wanted to please everyone and ended up pleasing nobody. Could Najib meet the same fate as Abdullah?

By starting reforms, Abdullah alienated his predecessor and the warlords within his party, the civil service and the police. By backtracking on reforms to please these warlords, he alienated the middle-ground voters and emboldened the far-right elements in Umno. His flip-flop style eventually invited three mass demonstrations in 2007, among them the deadly Hindraf rally that swept away the BN's Indian Malaysian support.

In every measure, Najib is now weaker than Abdullah. Instead of coming in as Mr Clean like Abdullah, Najib's ascendancy to the premiership was marred by allegations of his involvement in the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu and his role in the Perak coup.


Hishammuddin (Courtesy of
theSun
)
And the public anger evoked by then Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein's keris-waving antics is nothing compared to public anger now evoked by the church burnings. In fact, many Malaysians are blaming Hishammuddin as the home minister for his double standards on demonstrations. After all, he had excused protesters dragging a severed cow's head and threatening violence in front of a Hindu temple in September 2009 before public anger forced him to prosecute them.

Najib's headache

So here's what could happen if Najib makes the wrong move. During the Abdullah administration's March 2008 elections, alienated non-Malay Malaysians constituted at least one third of voters in 93 parliamentary constituencies in the peninsula. Fifty-three of these were eventually won by the coalition that became the Pakatan Rakyat (PR). In the present climate, non-Muslim bumiputera can deliver the kiss of death to the BN in at least 35 out of 57 parliamentary seats in East Malaysia come the next elections.

To make matters worse, the continuing arson attacks on churches since 8 Jan 2010 are acts of terrorism, although there have been no casualties so far. The police's failure to nip home-grown terrorism in the bud is a possible early-warning sign that Malaysia may become a failed state under Najib. As it is, police cannot even stop snatch thieves effectively.


Jamil Khir Baharom (jawi.gov.my)
Furthermore, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom's proposal for the Catholic church "to be ... responsible towards peace and security in Malaysia" by dropping "Allah" suggests that some in Najib's administration accept terrorism as an idiom in Malaysian politics.

The thing is, if the Catholic church and the Home Ministry broker backdoor deals and the arson attacks immediately stop, wouldn't the international community think that the arsonists are working in the interests of the Home Ministry, in the fashion that Kashmiri terrorists were perceived as working for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence?

All these would hurt support for the BN, not only in the key Christian bumiputera constituencies, but also in the business sector. After all, can business elites afford to support an administration that is perceived to be colluding with terrorists and turning away foreign direct investment and tourists?

The PM must decide

Najib has before him three options, which, for convenience, can be named after one former prime minister or deputy prime minister or another.


(Looknarm / Wiki commons)
The Abdullah option is to continue the indecisiveness: visit and offer support to churches, but also refuse to come down hard on terrorism and institutionalise interfaith dialogue. By doing this, Najib might hope that his administration alienates no one. But if the violence escalates, lives might eventually be lost. And then we would not need rocket science to know that, like Abdullah, Najib will likely only succeed in prolonging and deepening this crisis, eventually alienating everyone, making him a half-term prime minister.


(Pic by Samsul Said@Fl
The Mahathir option is to crack down on the opposition, civil society and the churches. Najib could then use the Internal Security Act (ISA) to arrest vocal government critics alongside a few terrorist suspects to convince Malaysians that a return to authoritarianism is the only way to preserve peace. He may even contemplate a declaration of emergency for one or two PR-held states should more churches be torched.

Such a Hobbesian approach worked in post-1969 Malaysia and helped consolidate Umno's power. However, this backfired in 1990 when the BN lost 47% of the popular vote to the opposition after 1987's Operasi Lalang. The backlash would only be greater in post-2008 Malaysia which has no appetite for communal violence or martial law. A mass ISA crackdown or emergency rule would be seen as a coup. In turn, this may invite people's power leading to a humiliating exit of Najib and Umno, much like what happened to Indonesia's President Suharto or the Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos.


(Wiki commons)
The Musa Hitam option is that Najib commits himself to rule of law and clamps down on anti-democratic forces. As acting prime minister in 1985, Tun Musa Hitam crushed attempts by the United Sabah National Organisation and Berjaya to install a Muslim-majority government in Sabah through a palace coup. Musa supported the democratically elected Parti Bersatu Sabah government, which was soon threatened by bombing, riots and arson in 1986 under Mahathir's premiership.

Similarly, Najib must categorically declare the government's intention to respect judicial processes and relieve the Catholic church and its publication Herald from any political or terrorist pressure to drop their case. This will not please the hawks in Umno who just want to be bigger Malay/Muslim champions than PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat. But Najib must remember that he cannot afford to alienate three other groups: Christian bumiputera, the business sector, and the international community.

None of these options will make Umno a knight in shining armour. Najib should really blame his strategists and media czar for allowing Utusan Malaysia and the Umno hawks to play with fire in the beginning. His main priority now should be damage control before the entire country catches fire. That's the least he can and must do as a prime minister if he wants to keep his job.

U.S. Muslims Asked to Help Repair Malaysian Churches

From CouncilOn American Islamic Relations (CAIR)

CAIR is calling on American Muslims and other people of conscience to help fund repairs to Malaysian churches damaged by vandals. The attacks on the churches came following a court ruling that overturned a ban on the use of the word “Allah” by Christians in that nation.

SEE: Ninth Church Vandalized in Malaysia (NY Times)

CAIR said Islam mandates that churches, synagogues and other houses of worship must be protected and noted that Arabic-speaking Christians universally refer to God as “Allah.”

SEE: Allah – the Word (NY Times)

Malaysian Muslim and ethnic Malay leaders have criticized the church attacks, saying they are contrary to the teachings of Islam.

Donations to the “CAIR Spirit of Islam Fund” (SEE: www.cair.com ) will be given to the Malaysian embassy in Washington, D.C., for delivery to the churches.

“Muslims in America, Malaysia and worldwide must help protect all houses of worship, and thereby show the true spirit of Islam,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “American Muslims, as a symbol of their commitment to interfaith understanding and peaceful coexistence, will take the lead in helping to restore the damaged churches.”

Awad added: “Muslims cannot remain silent in the face of attacks on any houses of worship. Our community needs to take serious and prompt measures to reclaim the moral high ground established by Islamic principles.”

He noted that CAIR has taken action to defend the American Muslim community from similar hate crimes, including acts of vandalism at mosques nationwide.

SEE: CAIR Asks President to Address Rise in Anti-Islam Hate

Awad cited verses from the Quran and Islamic traditions mandating both respect for other faiths and the sanctity of houses of worship.

According to the Quran, Muslims are asked to maintain good relations with people of other faiths and to engage in constructive dialogue. “And dispute not with the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) except with means better (than mere disputation)…but say, ‘We believe in the Revelation that has come down to us and in that which came down to you.’” (29:46)

Awad said Muslims are proud of the story of the Caliph Umar who received the keys to Jerusalem from the Christian patriarch Sophronius in the 7th century. When the Caliph was asked to pray in a Jerusalem church, he declined saying he did not want to provide a pretext for Muslims to appropriate a Christian holy site.

He noted that the early Muslims sought refuge with the Christian ruler of Abyssinia and that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) drafted a constitution for the city of Medinah in which all groups were granted equal rights and freedom of religion.

In 2006, CAIR asked for similar donations to help repair Palestinian churches damaged following remarks by Pope Benedict XVI perceived as critical of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED:

Demonstrate your desire to reclaim Islamic values and to promote the true spirit of Islam by protecting all houses of worship.

Go to www.cair.com to donate securely to the “CAIR Spirit of Islam Fund.” One hundred percent of the donations will be turned over to the Malaysian embassy for use in repairing the churches.

Checks may be made payable to “CAIR” and mailed to:

CAIR Spirit of Islam Fund
453 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

(Put “Spirit of Islam Fund” in the memo area of the check.)

Praying for peace is not enough!

By Azly Rahman

There is a Buddhist lesson in how we ought to perceive Malaysia’s emerging style of terrorism.

When one is bleeding after being shot by an arrow, the first step is not to look for the culprit that shot the arrow and pondering why was it shot but to pull out the arrow from the victim’s body and to quickly put a stop to the bleeding. This is what Siddharta Gautama would teach as crisis intervention.

Malaysians might never know who carried out the series of church bombings, nor what organisations are behind them, and if there is a higher order involved in the long-term planning of terror.

Postmodern debates will be a tedious exercise on whether this or that name of a Universal God can be copyrighted or whether a pastor or an archbishop can be pushed to the ground or physically attacked for using the forbidden name of the Universal God during their sermons.

Malaysians can only speculate if the reign of terror they are entering will lead to more bombings, arson, and even attacks that will take innocent lives away or even, God forbids, people are actually willing to die in the name of religion.

Governments are voted into power to protect citizens so that life, liberty, and the pursuit of basic needs and next, justice and safety and security, and finally self-realisation and civility can be pursued.

What is left in the self-worth of a government when swift action to protect property and people cannot be carried out?

When churches are no longer safe and Christians will live in fear over their right to worship the Universal God they are accustomed to by name – when these are happening, why should peace-loving people of Malaysia of any faith continue to keep the current regime in power?

Buddhist solution

In these last few days of seemingly sectarian violence, Malaysians want to know how trustworthiness is the government in using it’s machinery in making sure that the first order of the day is to be responsible and systematic enough to “pull the arrow out of the bleeding man and to quickly heal him” and next, to prevent more arrows from being shot.

Seemingly this Buddhist solution to a Christian-Muslim dilemma will have to be the logical step the regime will need to take.

In America, the mere receipt of a phone call of a terrorist threat will send the police, the bomb disposal squad, the fire engine, and perhaps a SWAT team to the scene to cordon the place in a “lock-down situation”.

The local government is strong and the police is highly efficient and every step is taken to ensure damage control, to provide both the perception and reality of providing safety and enforcing the law.

The citizens of the municipality or township pays high taxes that pay the salary of the police, the firemen, and also the teachers. As such, they expect their neighborhood to be safe in return. That is one key performance of a civil society.

In America, if there are even talks of one attempting to bomb a mosque, a fleet of patrol cars would be at the scene with helicopters hovering above.

Of course American democracy and the practice of it still has its flaws but in the case of providing assurance that things will be fine, I have seen numerous instances of the efficiency of the law enforcement agency.

Deploy volunteers…

Malaysians must demand that the churches are constantly kept safe and the government must also ensured that the police force will not come up with lame excuses that they are short handed to do the job.

If needed, they should deploy the cadet police, youths trained in the National Service, Rela volunteers, and any citizen watch groups such as the Rukun Tetangga to ensure that terrorists, perhaps paid handsomely, don’t throw Molotov cocktails into houses of worship.

Arrest the terrorists as fast as we can if we claim that our police force is one of the best in the world, and investigate who or what is behind these demonic acts.

We are in a crisis that might be a prelude to something bigger and will have us see our cities burning while Neros amongst us play the fiddle. We cannot allow this magnitude of violence to continue to spread.

We might even one day have, the Universal God forbids, suicide bombers blowing themselves up in our marketplaces or the pasar malam (night markets), if we do not act upon this fast and furiously.

We must stop all rallies that incite hatred and takes action against newspapers that invoke the ghosts of May 13, 1969.

Let our police and other law enforcement agencies be seen in public, patrolling the streets, the kampongs, the churches and other houses of worship – so that the rakyat that voted for this government will at least feel safe.

That was the sense of security Americans felt as the country was healing from the Sept 11, 2001 attacks – when two ‘arrows’ were plunged into the Twin Towers.

The healing process was painful one for Americans but healed they were and a new agency, The Department of Homeland Security, there was.

In Malaysia, what is the worth of a government if I cannot provide all the means necessary to guarantee safety.

Malaysians might as well vote in a new regime – that will not only ensure that no arrows will be shot and healing is in the form of administering holistic and preventive medicine.

That ought to be the solution. We cannot allow demons to rule, nor demolitions to define the democracy we dearly yearn for.

Is Lagu Johor Illegal and Promoting Racial Hatred?

Letter by Karamchan Naidu

I am a Johor boy. Studied there all my life. Every week for the past 12 years of my primary and secondary schooling I used to sing the Lagu Johor at the school assembly.

The song is as follows;

Allah peliharakan Sultan
‘Nugrahkan dia segala kehormatan
Sihat dan ria, kekal dan makmur
Luaskan kuasa, menaungkan kami
Rakyat dipimpini berzaman lagi
Dengan Merdeka bersatu hati
Allah berkati Johor
Allah selamatkan Sultan.


The government and more recently, the Sultan of Selangor has said the usage of the word Allah by non Muslims are illegal and wrong. If this is so, how come I, as a non Muslim, was forced to sing this song every week?

The word Allah is engraved in my mind as reference to the Almighty God.

Am I now in a position to sue the Johor State government for encouraging me to do something illegal? Mind you, Johor is the BN stronghold, so, how come the government is also not banning the Lagu Johor?

Church arson: Facebook lead a dead-end

The Star

PETALING JAYA: Police arrested and later released a youth who claimed that he witnessed the making of explosives used in one of the arson attacks on churches over the past few days.

The 19-year-old college student, who had made that claim on popular social networking website Facebook, was picked up by police at his residence at Sunway Mentari Court here, at around 7.30pm on Monday.

Selangor police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said after a few hours of interrogation however, the youth confessed that the claim was a hoax.


“The youth was released after he was sternly warned of his actions,” he said, adding that police would be monitoring all blogs and social networking websites.

He added police took such claims very seriously and would take action against anyone trying to create racial tension.

DCP Khalid also urged the public to not spread rumours.

In the Facebook posting the youth had claimed he was around with some other people when the explosives were being made but was not involved in the attack.

Eight churches have been the victims of arson or attempted arson attack since last Friday, following a High Court ruling on Dec 31 that Catholic weekly the Herald had the constitutional rights to use the word “Allah” to describe “God” in its Malay-language edition.

1MDB, China to undertake US$11b Sarawak projects - Anil Netto

While we are rattled by the Allah controversy and the spate of attacks on places of worshipp, others are eyeing big bucks. The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), one of the world’s largest utility firms, and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) have signed an agreement to enter into joint venture negotiations to undertake projects worth up to US$11 billion.

The agreement reportedly involves the construction of three hydroelectric dams and a smelter plant in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) – and that’s just for starters. What are they going to do with all that electricity? Feed it to electricity-intensive smelters, it would seem – and perhaps transmit the rest to the peninsula? How’s that going to impact the local indigenous people and the environment, especially Sarawak’s rainforests (what’s left of them) and their biodiversity? Don’t ask.

Among those witnessing the signing of the agreement between the two parties was PM Najib, who is the chair of 1MDB’s Board of Advisors, Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and SGCC President Liu Zhenya.

1MDB is a “strategic development company” owned by the Malaysian government. The firm started life as the Trengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which was set up to manage Terengganu’s RM1 billion annual revenue from oil royalties under what would be the country’s second sovereign wealth fund. TIA was established with the approval of the federal and state governments in March 2009, around the time Najib was set to take over as PM.

One of the key figures who advised the King (who comes from Terengganu) to establish the TIA was a now familiar figure, Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, reported the Edge on 14 December 2009. (Low was reportedly described as being part of Najib’s inner circle and having close ties with Middle East investment funds. He is also group advisor/non-independent non-executive director of UBG Bhd, whose chairman is Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, son of Taib Mahmud. UBG has acquired a couple of CMS companies.)

The original idea behind TIA was to create a sovereign wealth fund with RM5 billion from the federal government and another RM6 billion to come from Terengganu’s securitised future oil royalties receivable from Petronas.

After reported problems over who should control the fund, TIA was turned into a federal entity, 1MDB.

1MDB raised RM5 billion by issuing 30-year government-guaranteed bonds with a coupon rate of 5.75 per cent, in a deal arranged by AmInvestment Bank. Questions were raised about who the investors were, how it was sold in the secondary market, and the sell-down spread compared to the Malaysian government securities’ benchmark. 1MDB responded that it acted on professional terms to secure the most competitive terms possible.

1MDB is managed by a 33-strong team helmed by Shahrol Halmi, previously of Accenture Malaysia. The firm has so far invested US$1 billion in a US$2.5 billion joint venture partnership with Petro-Saudi International Limited. This is supposed to “spearhead the flow of foreign direct investments from the Middle East as well as make strategic investments in high-impact projects here”.

By the way, does anyone know what happened to ValueCap?

Reflections on “Allah,” 1Syaitan, Pride and Prejduice. Where are the moderates?

by Nathaniel Tan

I was finally able to pen down some longer thoughts on the Allah issue in an article – “Allah,” 1Syaitan, Pride and Prejduice.

Reading the comments, which I accept open heartedly, I think I am even more compelled to conclude as such:

If both sides insist on regarding this as a proxy war for larger issues, everyone will lose.

If we are only debating whether it is say, more appropriate for Christians to use the term “Allah” or “Tuhan,” taking all factors and feelings carefully into consideration, then perhaps we can hope for a light at the end of the tunnel.

However, if we all insist on declaring this to actually be a battle about the fundamental rights of Christians in Malaysia, or defending Islam against some global conspiracy to convert Muslims, then I think the Umno hardliners will achieve their goal in creating something akin to the 1969 atmosphere that propelled them to illegitimate power.

I know it is tempting to see this issue as a representative one – where “winning” = a successful defense of the cause of our respective religions, and “losing” = giving too much face to the other side that will result in further “losses” in the long run.

I am convinced however, that if one disregards the intentions of certain parties in favour of the majority, this need not be the case.

I also feel that while the condemnation of the violence last week has been encouraging, the voice of moderates who believe that some compromise from both sides (with certain guarantees that there are no bigger, devious motivations behind whatever decision is made) is a good thing has been woefully lacking. Is there anyone out there who feels that way?

Can sex offenders be held after serving criminal sentences?

Martin Andrews was 13 when he was abducted by a sexual predator and held for eight days.
Martin Andrews was 13 when he was abducted
by a sexual predator and held for eight days.

Woodbridge, Virginia (CNN) -- The police photograph is chilling. In grainy black and white tones, it shows 13-year-old Martin Andrews sitting in a makeshift box, his leg chained. The look in his eyes is one of fear, fatigue and disbelief. He had just been rescued from a nightmare.

"I was abducted by a sexually violent predator by the name of Richard Ausley, who had been twice convicted for sexually assaulting young boys, and he had taken me for eight days," Andrews recalled of his ordeal 37 years ago this month. "I was left to die."

As a survivor of a sex crime, Andrews is one face of an issue the Supreme Court will revisit Tuesday: civil commitment, which allows the government to keep sex offenders in custody even after they have served their sentences. Twenty states have such laws, including Virginia, where Andrews was held captive and repeatedly assaulted.

CNN normally doesn't name victims of sex crimes, but Andrews, now a victims' advocate, agreed to tell his story.

On the other side of the debate is the first sex offender released from Virginia's civil commitment program, and one of just a handful nationwide.

"I served my time for what I did, and I didn't feel like I should be incarcerated again," said this man, who asked that his identity not be revealed for fear of retribution. "It was a scary thing to know that you could be committed to a mental institution for the rest of your life."

The man said mandatory therapy helped him, but he thinks that could have been initiated while he was in prison.

There is widespread disagreement on whether civil commitment is a Catch-22. In discussions of the effects of sex crimes, nothing is simple or dispassionate.

The practice of confinement in mental hospitals or treatment centers for those with severe mental illness has been around the United States since its founding. Around the turn of the 20th century, many laws dealing with sexual psychopaths were passed. Over the decades, the laws were repealed or rarely applied.

Then, in 1990, Washington state became the first to pass an innovative civil commitment law specifically for violent sex offenders. California, Wisconsin and New York, among others, later followed. Such "predator laws" focused on risk assessment and prevention of re-offending. It is a concept that the general public may not be aware exists.

The Supreme Court has upheld the use of such laws when the individual goal is rehabilitation, not further "punishment." But it has another, broader purpose.

"The primary goal is incapacitation, that is, protecting society from people who are predicted to be dangerous in the future," said Eric Janus, author of "Failure to Protect" and dean at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. "The second goal is to provide treatment to these individuals."

Critics of these programs say behavioral rehabilitation centers amount to prisons, are often overcrowded and understaffed, and rarely meet the stated goal of treating the "worst of the worst" offenders to the point they can rejoin society.

"The evidence is showing that it's only becoming a detainment center for people they do not went on the streets," said Derek Logue, a sex offender who was released and now advocates for offender rights through his Web site, oncefallen.com. "They have no hope of getting out, and the odds are stacked against you."

According to Justice Department statistics, 20 states use civil confinement, involving about 4,000 rapists, pedophiles and other sex offenders nationwide. Estimates are that these programs cost taxpayers more than $700 million a year, almost $150,000 per individual. That is about four times more than confining them in prison.

Virginia passed its civil commitment law in 1999 but had never fully funded it. Andrews found out from a reporter in 2002 that his attacker was just weeks away from being released after 29 years behind bars. Once a victim, now an empowered advocate, Andrews realized he had to act.

"I didn't know about other sex offenders. I didn't know about the extent of the problem. I only knew one, but I knew that one needed to be dealt with," Andrews, 50, said from his northern Virginia home, where he works as a program manger for a defense contractor. State officials, he said, "all told me there was nothing to be done; he was going to be set free; that was it."

But Andrews mobilized, lobbying lawmakers to quickly fund the program, despite a budget shortfall. It worked, and the state has become a national model, using a tool called "Static 99" that assesses which offenders qualify for civil commitment.

Andrews' attacker remained behind bars but was killed by a fellow inmate before ever going into the treatment program.

The catalyst for the state's change were once-dormant memories for Andrews, who now knew that he had to tell his story.

As a teenager in Portsmouth in 1973, Andrews was walking to the store in snowy weather when a van pulled up and the man inside asked the boy whether he wanted to earn some extra money moving furniture. Andrews agreed but instead was taken to a rural area and a metal box dug into the side of a hill.

"He looked at me, and he said, 'I've got bad news for you. You've just been kidnapped.' "

He looked at me, and he said, 'I've got bad news for you. You've just been kidnapped.'
--Martin Andrews, victim

What followed was days of brutal rapes and beatings. Ausley eventually left, and Andrews would certainly have died if some rabbit hunters had not stumbled upon him after hearing his screams.

Andrews believes that civil commitment is not the best tool, but for the most dangerous predators, "it is the only tool we have that is 100 percent effective, because they are removed from society. They are removed from their triggers."

The case before the Supreme Court on Tuesday deals with a federal law that has kept as many as 77 inmates held in federal prison in North Carolina under indefinite commitment.

The justices will decide whether the program enacted under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 is constitutional by infringing on a traditional state function. The law was named after the son of "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh.

The justices said in 2007 that a Kansas law was neither double jeopardy (second criminal punishment for the same crime) nor "ex post facto" (new punishment for a previous crime).

"We have never held that the Constitution prevents a state from civilly detaining those for whom no treatment is available but who nevertheless pose a danger to others," Justice Clarence Thomas said.

Courts have since been at odds with what kind of treatment must be provided and to what extent, to pass constitutional muster.

Janus worries about the slippery slope if such laws -- federal or state -- are allowed to continue without strong judicial checks.

"The main danger of civil commitment of sex offenders is that it provides a precedent for doing an end run around those governmental protections, and we all may be comfortable right now because we say, 'Well, this is those people. It's not us. It's not our rights that are at stake,' " he said.

"I think we all ought to be cognizant of the fact that these laws set a precedent that greatly expands the power of government to take away our liberty, not for something we've done in the past, not after we've been convicted and punished, but out of fear that we might commit a crime in the future, and this is a very very powerful and dangerous idea," Janus said.

These laws set a precedent that greatly expands the power of government to take away our liberty.
--Eric Janus, author of "Failure to Protect"

The white-haired man sitting with his lawyer outside Richmond says he is no longer a danger to society. He served nearly eight years in prison for molesting three girls and nearly five years in forced civil commitment. Despite that state confinement, including being the first of only about four men to be released from it, he says post-prison treatment helped him.

"I think that civil commitment is unfair," he said. "I'm not against treatment. I have done everything in my power to help myself" understand the effects of sexual abuse.

He said that being told just days before his scheduled 2003 release that he was being civilly committed left him feeling "hopeless."

Shortly afterward, the man castrated himself with a razor in his jail cell. After the transfer and years in the rehabilitation unit, he was freed and lives a quiet life -- albeit under constant electronic surveillance -- with no further reported incidents, says his attorney.

Lawyer David Hargett convinced the Virginia Supreme Court that his client had a constitutional right to contest his civil commitment.

"I have found talking with people they are shocked to hear somebody can be sentenced by a judge, serve out that entire sentence and then say, 'Wait a minute, we're not going to let you go,' " Hargett said, calling it a legal "black hole."

"This treatment facility ... is a prison, let's be honest. It has barbed wire and locked doors." He said most in the Virginia facility realistically will never get out.

The high court case is U.S. v. Comstock (08-1224).

Allah is God in Arabic not Malay!

Churches Attacked in Malaysia over the use of 'ALLAH'
Why do the world in general labeled Muslims as Terrorist and Extremist? What's happening in Malaysia today is the reason, the only party that is bringing harm to their own religion is non other than its devotees itself, about 8 churches were attacked in Klang Valley since last night. This the most extreme effort to bring down a religious establishment and to fight against the High Court Ruling on the word 'Allah' on a Christian Newspaper 'The Herald' which has a good reputation in the teaching and news on Christians in Malaysia.

Bahasa Melayu or Bahasa Malaysia consists of many stolen words from Tamil, Arabic, English and several other languages. If we remove those foreign words from Malay Language, Malay will be a car without a steering. The language will be unusable. Implication is implikasi, application is aplikasi, provocation is provakasi,,, just add 'kasi' at the back of the word and it ll be Malay. Wira, waja, putra are models of Malaysian made cars and it is Tamil word, now Malay words.
Allah is an Arabic word and not a Malay word, even the Christian in Indonesia, Philipines and even Arab are using the word Allah in their worships. The Malays in Malaysia does not know the difference between Religion, Language and Race, they have planted in their mind that everything is Islam, There is no other race and religion, not even language, everything belongs to the Muslims, they are too fanatic and it is due to the culture shock that they are going through, which the Malays are famous for "Culture Shock". A race which lived in the jungle, bushes and along rivers in the era of 50's has seen development and religion piousness out of sudden and suffering culture shock!


1400
1400 - If this is what it is based on, there is no 'Ketuanan Melayu' because thelineage of Melaka Sultans are Indians, not Malays. It is no secret that Parameswara was an Indian and a Hindu prince. It is clear from records that Parameswara never converted to Islam. He was anIndian Hindu who fled Palembang in Sumatra to eventually found Melaka circa 1400 AD and start the entire Malaysian royalty. Malaysia 's royalty was and is of Hindu/India origin.

SAMPLE OF MALAY WORDS USED TODAY

bumi = boomi

putra = putran

raja = rajah

desa = thesam

syakti = sakthi

kolam = kulam

bahaya = abahya

jaya = jeya

maha = maha

aneka = aneha

nadi = naadi

kedai = kadai

mahligai = maaligai

mantra = manthrum
menteri = manteri

The real issue of all the controversies and conflicts in Malaysia are the fear that the Muslim Malays hid in their heart, the fear of exposure! exposing them for stealing culture, language and lifestyle from many races. Thailand, Indonesia and India are the victims that has borrowed their culture and customs unwillingly to the muslim malays in Malaysia. Most of its custom consists almost 100% Indian tradition and tools. This can be clearly seen in the Malay Muslim weddings.

It is so easy to influence the Malays to accept and to follow any kind of practices as long as it interest them with some remuneration, that is the reason why the Malaysia Government restricts all other religions from preaching their teachings to the Muslims which is considered an offence under the Malaysian Primitive Law, the Muslims in Malaysia are also denied the freedom to convert to any religion or even to stay out of Islam for any reason, and under the Hudud law of Islam they shall be punished on a DEATH SENTENCE! which has not been practiced in Malaysia yet but insist and supported on implementing by many Malay Muslims in Malaysia.

The hatred towards the Christianity started when Lina Joy a Malay Muslim [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lina_Joy] attempted to free herself from the clutches of Islam in the year 1998, and even earlier. The churches that was attacked in Malaysia are just the warning given to the Christians and the Non-Muslims as a whole on not to interfere anything that will make the Muslim confuse or to think rationally and it is done in the support of Many organisation, may be with the support of the government too. The real terrorist that attacked the church with be released or the real culprit will not even be exposed by the Malaysian police since they are the slaves of the politicians. The only thing the police in Malaysia good in, is to find for the author of this article and charge him or her under sedition act, the rest of the Murder, robbery, snatch theft, and rape cases will be put to sleep. The police are not even capable to solve cases on the missing and murdered child but they are good in charging cases against bloggers and YM Raja Petra Kamarudin. This is Malaysia, Terukly ( Badly) Asia!

Rwindraj..

'Allah' CD case postponed to March 15

Kuching Lawyers

Who does Allah belong to? Mixed views at forum