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Monday, February 1, 2010

Thaipusam hunger strike fails to excite

Nirshavin (6 months) hole in heart appeals for help of from poor Indians for an operation estimated to cost RM 458,000.00.

Nirshavin (6 months) hole in heart appeals for help of from poor Indians for an operation estimated to cost RM 458,000.00. (Makkal Osai 27/12/09 on page 3). The UMNO government has allocated RM 48 Million for Welfare help but this does not reach the poor and sickly Indians.

P. Uthayakumar

nirshavin

Kuala Ketil Hindu cemetery destroyed, 500 angry families (MN 13/12/09 at front page)

kuala-ketil

Indian poor 8 month old Kuberan suffering from blood clots. He needs RM 40,000.00 for surgery

Indian poor 8 month old Kuberan suffering from blood clots. He needs RM 40,000.00 for surgery (Makkal Osai 27/12/09 at page 4). But yet again Kuberan’s mother has to go a begging from the pre existing Indian poor as the UMNO led government would not help even from the RM 48 Million allocation for Welfare help in the 2010 National Budget.

P. Uthayakumar

indian-poor2

PAS: Ku Li has always been consistent on oil royalty

By Adib Zalkapli - The Malaysian Insider


KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali today dismissed claims by Umno leaders that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (picture) had contradicted himself by supporting Kelantan’s oil royalty claim.

Mustafa added that when the Terengganu government brought the Federal government to court in 2001 for withdrawing oil royalty payments, Razaleigh was willing to testify for the state.

The Gua Musang Umno division chief — at a public rally in Kota Bahru last week — backed Kelantan’s demand for oil royalty.

Umno leaders have slammed Razaleigh for supporting Kelantan’s claim, saying that the Kelantanese prince was being inconsistent as he had supported the Federal government for withdrawing Terengganu’s oil royalty in 2000.

“Ku Li showed greater commitment then by expressing his willingness to go to court,” said Mustafa who was a Terengganu executive councillor when PAS ruled the state from 1999 to 2004.

Mustafa said Razaleigh also attended a forum in 2008 on Terengganu’s demand for oil royalty to be reinstated.

The Federal government, led by Tun Mahathir Mohamad, decided to revoke the oil royal just months after PAS took over the state in November 1999. The state has been receiving compassionate payment since then.

The case is still ongoing and early last year the state received some RM400 million in oil royalty from the Federal government and is still demanding payment of another RM2.79 billion.

“In the last state assembly, the state government had declared its commitment not to withdraw the case until negotiations is over,” said Mustafa on the status of the case.

“It is my responsibility to present the facts, as I do not want Ku Li to be victimised,” he said.

On whether the Kelantan government should take the matter to court, Mustafa said it is better for the state not to do so as it will stop public debate on the subject.

“From our experience in Terengganu, after 10 years the case is still unresolved,” said Mustafa.

3 Selangor Pakatan reps hauled up over discrepancies

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

SHAH ALAM, Feb 1 – Three Selangor Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers will face a state watchdog committee this morning to explain spending discrepancies in constituency allocations.

The Special Select Committee for Accountability, Competency and Transparency (Selcat) have called assemblymen Ronnie Liu (Pandamaran), Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (Sri Setia) and Shuhaimi Shafiei (Sri Muda) to detail their expenses for their respective constituencies.

Liu of DAP, who is state executive councillor for local government and research, is scheduled to be the first to testify this morning.

Nik Nazmi, who is the political secretary to the Selangor Mentri Besar, and Shuhaimi, both from PKR, will testify later.

Malaysia’s courts in the dock over Anwar trial

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim heads for trial on tomorrow on a charge of sodomy, placing the country’s courts under scrutiny again after his doubtful conviction for the same offence almost a decade ago.

Anwar was tried first on corruption charges and then for sodomy after his sacking as Deputy Prime Minister in 1998 amid a political feud with then premier Mahathir Mohamad.

His case drew a chorus of international criticism with then-US Vice President Al Gore saying at the time that the trial “mocked international standards of justice”.

Although Malaysia’s top court ultimately overturned the conviction, doubts remain as to whether the 62-year-old Anwar, who represents the biggest political threat to the government that has run Malaysia for 52 years, will get a fair trial.

This time, he is charged with sodomising a male aide in a trial that has been dubbed “Sodomy 2” by the Malaysian media.

“For political cases, the public has grave concerns about the independence of the judiciary,” said Lim Chee Wee, vice president of the Bar Council of Malaysia. “There is also the upcoming Anwar ‘Sodomy 2’ trial where the presently available evidence suggests selective prosecution.”

Malaysia’s government has a long history of curbing the power of the judiciary, starting in 1988 when Tun Dr Mahathir sacked the country’s top judge amid a political row that could have seen the man who became the country’s longest serving premier removed.

The Anwar trials further undermined trust in the courts and public confidence in the judiciary ebbed further after a judicial appointments fixing scandal in 2007, prompting the government to initiate a judicial reform effort.

Court rulings against the government in recent months have provided a glimmer of hope the judiciary has not been completely emasculated. One on Dec 31 supported the rights of Christians to use the word “Allah” for God.

But with the National Front government battling to reassert its control over this Southeast Asian country, Datuk Seri Anwar’s trial may be too politically sensitive for a fair hearing, said Zaid Ibrahim, a former law minister who was tasked with judicial reform but who quit the government in 2008.

“Well, I don’t think much has changed (since Anwar’s last trial),” said Zaid, now a member of the opposition. “When we talk about judicial independence we are talking about politically sensitive cases involving ministers and the government.”

The government has denied any interference and has promised that Anwar would receive a fair trial.

Tun Dr Mahathir’s attack on the judiciary in the 1980s came after he narrowly survived a challenge to his leadership. While there is no leadership challenge to current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, he is struggling to rebuild confidence in his own political party.

Najib’s United Malays National Organisation, and the 13-party National Front coalition that it leads conceded control of five states and lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority in national and state elections in 2008, their worst ever showing.

Voters, upset over rising corruption, failed reform pledges and increasing complaints of minority marginalisation, have since handed the opposition victories in seven out of nine by-elections held since the national polls.

Promises by Najib to end corruption and to rebuild the multi- ethnic nature of the ruling coalition that relied in the past on support from ethnic Chinese and Indian voters have been damaged by a multi-billion dollar graft scandal at a port and by attacks on churches over the “Allah” row.

Data from the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report show Malaysia’s judicial independence global rankings fell to 53rd place in 2009 from 47th place in 2008.

Its scores are well below regional leaders Hong Kong and Singapore which ranked 14th and 19th respectively, undermining Datuk Seri Najib’s bid to woo new foreign investment to help diversify the country’s export-dependent economy.

Foreign bondholders in the scandal-plagued Port Klang Free Zone have sought a government guarantee for the bonds, fearing a Malaysian court could invalidate their claims due to the issue of fake guarantees for the bonds.

Malaysia has made some progress in cleaning up its commercial courts, dogged by complaints of delays and inefficiency, said the Bar Council’s Lim, who noted that trial disposal rates had shot up to 597 in 2009 from 87 in 2008.

Efforts to reduce trial times drew praise from Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry Executive President Stewart Forbes whose body represents 1,000 members with over RM110 billion ringgit of investments here.

“Certainly, it’s fair to say that over the last 18 to 24 months, there has been a marked improvement in that aspect of the judiciary,” he said.

However, businesses remain concerned by poor perceptions of the overall quality of the judiciary.

“It may not simply be because one or other particular case, but unfortunately at the moment and over the last few years in Malaysia, the judiciary has been pulled into a large number of elements of debate vis-a-vis a whole range of court cases and issues,” Forbes noted.

As well as the improved trial times for commercial cases, some lower courts have recently exercised their independence and ruled against the government in politically sensitive cases.

The recent ruling on the “Allah” case that allowed a Catholic newspaper to use the word in its Malay language editions has been hailed by critics, including Anwar, as a sign of judicial independence.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court recently reversed a ban on a book of essays on Islam and women’s rights which the government contended contradicted official teachings on Islam and in May last year, it ruled a government takeover of the opposition-ruled north eastern state of Perak was illegal.

Critics say such rulings are rare and at times get overturned by the higher courts, as was the case in the Perak verdict which is now before the country’s highest court, the Federal Court.

“At the lower level courts, there are independent minded judges but at the higher level courts, we’ll have to wait and see because there are lots of issues still not resolved,” said Zaid, the former law minister. — Reuters

PAS to remain in Pakatan despite crisis

By Adib Zalkapli- The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali (picture) said today the Islamist party will not leave Pakatan Rakyat (PR) despite the crisis between leaders from both PKR and DAP.

“The matter does not arise. We talked about this yesterday and we were briefed... the matter has been referred to PKR’S disciplinary committee,” Mustafa told reporters at a press conference.

He was responding to a question about whether the bickering between DAP and PKR in Penang would make PAS review its position in the three-party coalition.

The latest crisis started when PKR’s Bayan Baru MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim called Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng a “dictator” and “communist-minded.”

The decision to refer Zahrain to the disciplinary committee was made by PKR’s supreme council and was also discussed at PR leadership meeting yesterday.

Zahrain is also said to be leading a group of would-be defectors from PKR to help Barisan Nasional (BN) regain its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Apart from Zahrain, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim who had criticised the party for not taking action against Zulkifli Noordin for lodging a police report against PAS MP Khalid Samad over the ‘Allah’ row, will also face the disciplinary committee with the Kulim-Bandar Baru MP.

On the PR disciplinary committee, Mustafa said it will only play an advisory role at this stage.

“The term of reference is yet to be drawn but there is a general guideline to advise the parties on the cases,” said Mustafa.

When asked about the allegation by PAS Youth executive committee member Abdullah Karim that the party has been slow in handling other disciplinary cases, Mustafa said he is still studying the report lodged by Abdullah.

“I will call him in a day or two,” said Mustafa.

Disciplinary cases are first referred to the secretary-general before they are forwarded to the disciplinary committee.

Differentiating Pus from Blood

I vaguely remember reading an article on noble and sportsmanlike behaviour and its relation to culture some time ago. In it the writer described the laments of a mother in ancient China. She moaned that her sons will now all be killed because a warlord – some Marquis or other, was willing to suck the pus from the wounds of his soldiers. She thought that her sons would be so moved by such a noble act that they would willingly give their lives for their lord and master.

By batsman

These days, unfortunately, modern Malaysian politicians are unable to differentiate pus from blood.

Let me help.

Malaysian politicians need to differentiate good from bad and loyal from disloyal supporters. This ability is critical not just for success but necessary for survival.

If a person is basically decent and loyal, he is worth keeping as a good friend even if he has ideas and manners of thinking that contradict yours. That he is willing to contradict you means that he has some integrity. Such differences of thought, values and ideas may be discussed and mutually understood and accepted if good decent brotherly feelings exist in both.

Unfortunately some relatively decent people may suffer from weakness of arrogance. They are willing to make police reports or public accusations against their own friends. This shows that they may start to lack brotherly feelings and have no respect for their friends, or they may just be making a mistake owning to over-weaning arrogance. Such people are even more difficult to deal with. They are on the brink of breaking up the friendship.

To keep the discussion simple, I am not even touching on the problems of chemistry yet.

On the other side, there are people who are dishonest and self-serving even if they pretend to be a good friend. They may appear to support your proposals 100% and offer unending praise all the time. These people need to be watched very carefully. That is why there is the saying that one must keep one’s friends close and enemies even closer.

They reveal their character by small actions, the way they grab goodies and the way they treat others on a daily basis. By carefully watching their behaviour, one gets a reasonable idea as to their character – whether they are self-serving or basically decent.

All these mean that politics is not just a matter of debating public statements and matters that are public knowledge. There are a myriad of knowledge that is based on personal observation and assessment. Granted this is not very democratic, but it is a natural fact of life. That is why if one wants to make a difference, it is best to get deeply involved by joining a political party. If not, the next best way is to make contributions in other ways, not just shouting curses and obscenities.

I suppose if people within a political party are basically decent and loyal, it is a source of strength. The blood that flows within is clean and free of disease.

Unfortunately political parties do get infected with self-serving people now and again. They will form pus filled boils, sores and pimples inside the body of the party. For the party to be healthy, such pus must be removed. Again it is a fact of life that during the removal process, some blood may be lost.

Political leaders now need to make sure that the least amount of blood is lost. If too much is lost at a dangerous time, it may weaken the party to the extent it succumbs to well-timed external attacks by the enemy. The leaders must decide whether it is worthwhile to remove a small amount of pus at the cost of a lot of blood-letting at a dangerously critical time or to wait until the pimple becomes ripe and there is less chance of external attack or less blood lost because of the ripeness of the situation. The price to pay is that in delaying the excision of the pimple there is the need to stand the pain of the pimple still existing or maybe even growing within the body of the party.

Again all this means that there is a need for consultation and exchange of wisdom, judgement and opinions. Making unilateral public statements just confuses the situation more because it gets uninformed people into the argument and may cause even more blood to be lost in a “forced or badly timed” excision of an unripe pimple.

I guess being a good leader, one has to be a mother, a father, a brother, a friend, a consultant, a doctor, a motivator - sometimes even a good surgeon.

Anwar And Najib – Up Close and Very Revealing

In contrast to the mainstream media, the on-line portals Malaysiakini and Malaysia-Today chose a diametrically opposite tack. Malaysia-Today published both commentaries in full without any editorial comment. Its editors are confident of their readers’ intelligence to draw their own conclusions. If those mainstream editors wonder why their readership dwindles while those of Malaysiakini and Malaysia-Today soar, the answer is right there.

M. Bakri Musa

The side-by-side commentaries by Anwar Ibrahim and Najib Razak in the recent Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal illuminated a couple of salient points, in particular, the state of Malaysian journalism and the quality of our leadership.

Consider first Malaysian editors, specifically of the mainstream media. They missed the essential point that the best way to intelligently inform their readers is to present them with contrasting and opposing viewpoints, as illustrated by what The Journal did. Respect your readers’ intelligence and treat them like adults.

Bernama mentioned the Journal’s articles as a news item but referred only to Najib’s piece. Obviously the Bernama editors’ instinct was to please Najib and protect his image. They see themselves less as professional journalists and more as propagandists for the state. Their reaction was predictable.

That the cue from Bernama was quickly picked up by the other mainstream editors too did not surprise me. They are after all from the same mold. What grabbed my attention however, was what the Sun Daily did. I remember that paper as one that had the courage right from the beginning to be a tad independent, and its journalists less willing to genuflect to the powerful; hence its success despite its recent entry into the business.

The Sun merely reprinted Bernama’s piece, again with no mention of Anwar’s contrasting viewpoint. The Sun’s editors had access to both commentaries (they are available on-line) but chose to follow Bernama’s lead instead of their own editorial judgment. That reflects the challenges in maintaining journalistic integrity in an oppressive environment.

Then there is MCA-owned The Star. It did what cowards typically do: avoid the issue entirely. I am uncertain whether that is better than blatantly kowtow-ing to the emperor, as Bernama did.

As for The New Straits Times, an Umno newsletter masquerading as a daily, its behavior too was predictable. It did not directly report on the two commentaries, presumably deeming both not sufficiently newsworthy. That however, did not stop its editor Syed Nadzri from penning an editorial effusively praising Najib’s literary contribution.

“In approach, tenor and presumably intention,” Nadzri writes, “their articles went in practically opposite directions from the start — the prime minister taking a conciliatory, disarming style, as against the opposition leader’s fault-finding digressions.” What Nadzri calls ‘fault-finding digression’ is Anwar’s trying to elucidate, understand and then educate us on the many daunting problems confronting the nation.

Towards the end even Nadzri’s residuum of journalistic ethics pricked his conscience a bit, for he admitted that Najib’s commentary was indeed a “rah rah piece,” adding, “What else could anyone expect?” Such low expectations!

It would never occur to Nadzri and the others to consider republishing both commentaries; they are of interest to all Malaysians. Or better yet, do what the Journal did, invite contributors with varying viewpoints. While the Journal is an avowedly conservative paper (its editorials leave little doubt about that), its Op-Ed pages routinely carry views from the left and right; likewise, its news coverage. The unabashedly liberal, The New York Times counts among its regular commentators such conservatives as David Brooks. Unfortunately, the likes of Syed Nadzri are intellectually and professionally incapable of such a monumental shift in thinking.

In contrast to the mainstream media, the on-line portals Malaysiakini and Malaysia-Today chose a diametrically opposite tack. Malaysia-Today published both commentaries in full without any editorial comment. Its editors are confident of their readers’ intelligence to draw their own conclusions. If those mainstream editors wonder why their readership dwindles while those of Malaysiakini and Malaysia-Today soar, the answer is right there.

Top Billing For Anwar

The Journal gave Anwar’s commentary greater prominence; it appeared on top of the page. I agree with the Journal’s editorial judgment. By whatever criterion – persuasiveness, substance, clarity of thought, or most importantly, readability – Anwar’s piece clearly trumps Najib’s. No wonder those mainstream editors dared not carry both side by side; it would embarrass their patron!

Anwar exhorts us to rise above our parochial interests by recalling the great moments in our Islamic history where tolerance and acceptance of divergent viewpoints were venerated. Najib excuses our prejudices and intolerances on the grounds that those have always been part of human nature, thereby condoning if not encouraging those extremists with their “passionate” views.

Najib claims to be “appalled by the irresponsible and dangerous finger-pointing of a few politicians who put personal political interests … [and] try to score political points by hammering on sensitive issues.” He forgot that it was his Home Minister who started the mess with his needless bureaucratic intervention of a long-established practice. Talk about blatant pandering to the political base! Do not expect Najib to have second thoughts on that. Reflection, or for that matter taking responsibility, is not his strong suit.

Najib writes, “…[T]he values we hold dear – religious freedom, tolerance, peace and fairness—remain the bedrock of our nation.” Too bad he does not take that to heart. While Anwar excoriates Utusan Melayu, an UMNO-owned Malay language daily, for inflaming religious sentiments among Malays, Najib remains eerily silent. Many rightly perceive that as tacit endorsement and outright encouragement. One wonders just who is pandering to the ugly Malay mob.

Anwar invokes our Quran and traditions to push us towards our better selves; Najib was only too ready to dismiss and excuse those “extremists.”To Najib, the extremists, like the poor, will always be with us. There is not much that he could or would do.

The clarity of Anwar’s message was elegantly encapsulated in his very first sentence, “Malaysia has once again resurfaced in international headlines for the wrong reasons.” No one, not even Najib, could dispute that assertion. Anwar’s thesis sentence was crisp, clear and stated simply. It may be embarrassing to have that ugly reality exposed, but it would be a serious abrogation of responsibility for a leader not to address it, as Najib awkwardly tried to do.

It was difficult to ascertain Najib’s message; his essay was all over the place – mushy! This fits his leadership style: heavy on homilies, short on substance, and most of all, mushy. He would prefer that our ugly problems be swept under the carpet, to save the nation’s ‘honor,’ or at least his concept of it.

Through the Journal’s initiative we get to view our two leaders. In Anwar we have a leader in command of the situation, someone serious and fully cognizant of the dangers of fanning religious passions. He appeals to our better side to meet the challenges. In Najib we have an individual full of fluff, blissfully unaware of the fury he has unleashed, and totally incapable of handling the ensuing wreckage. He is, to borrow Nadzri’s less-than-elegant phrase, a “rah rah” leader, reveling in his (Najib’s) own Pollyannaish fantasy.

The Journal rendered a great public service to Malaysians in having these two commentaries freely available on-line. Its initiative also reveals the sad state of Malaysian journalism. I keep hoping that one day our media would learn something from the Journal and treat Malaysians as intelligent adults. I also keep hoping that one day we would have as prime minister someone who would treat us with respect and trust us with the truth. We deserve better than what we are being served now.

Better for Khairy to leave Umno before he is pushed out

Tough days are in store for Khairy Jamaluddin – the mercurial but also talented Umno Youth Chief – and chances are high that he may lose the battle being waged against him by his own party mates.

By Wong Choon Mei (Harakah)

The buzz in Umno is that former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wants him out, while Prime Minister Najib Razak – the current party president – is looking for a convenient scapegoat to mask his own lukewarm leadership.

“There is the perception that Khairy is too liberal and he is not doing the job of the traditional Umno Youth Chief. So far, he hasn’t waved the keris again or initiated excessive sloganeering like Hidup Melayu that the hard liners in Umno like to see,” PAS Youth leader Abdullah Karim told Harakahdaily.

“His moderate stance has given opportunities to his enemies especially for Mahathir to take revenge against him. And Najib is close to Mahathir, so he is definitely not going to stick his neck out for Khairy. “

No-confidence vote


According to party watchers, the Umno Youth executive committee plans to table a no-confidence vote against their 33-year old chief very soon.

Apparently, they have already accumulated enough votes to push him out. Plus most importantly, they have also secured the green light from Najib, deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and not to mention Mahathir, who still wield considerable influence in Umno.

“There may be a tough fight but let’s see whether Khairy can survive this. He may surprise everyone by turning the tables on his enemies,” PKR strategist Tian Chua told Harakahdaily.

“I agree it is premature to write off Khairy,” PAS strategist Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told Harkahdaily. “It is actually strange for Umno to want to push him out. I would rate him as a definite asset to Umno because he can provide the check and balance the party needs against the hard liners and those with self interest like Dr Mahathir who just refuses to go away.

“In the spirit of sportsmanship, we wish him the best in his fight. Should he find that he can no longer tolerate the racism and the corruption that is overtaking Umno, there is no reason why the doors of Pakatan Rakyat will not be open, provided of course, there is sincere intention on his part to deliver the best to the rakyat of Malaysia,” Dzulkefly added.

Not in sync with Umno's growing hard line stance

Among the main factors that contributed to Umno Youth's growing unhappiness with Khairy’s leadership was his recent admission that Umno had unwittingly become an extremist party.

Top Umno leaders including Najib, who had chosen to go on an all-out fight for the loyalty of the Malays at the expense of the other communities to keep the Pakatan at bay, were not unhappy with his pronouncements, which seemingly made them look inadequate and racist.

It did not help either when he roped in Pakatan Youth to jointly condemn the recent spate of attacks against religious places of worship.

“Nobody wants to be a loser, but we’re definitely not straddling the middle ground any more. It might become what PAS used to be — a party that appeals to just a certain base. It’s scary,” Khairy had said during an interview with a foreign newspaper.

Hampered by inability to dish out government goodies

When his father-in-law Abdullah Badawi was the Prime Minister and Umno president, especially during the period between 2004 and 2008, Khairy was considered “untouchable”.

Then the Umno Youth No. 2, he had no qualms about leading Umno’s ultra-Malay charge to rally support from the community. In fact, so extreme were some of his statements then that BN components, MCA and Gerakan, had blamed him for their electoral losses in the 2008 general election.

Why the sudden turnaround now? Is it faked or has Khairy really matured with the years?

“It would be better for someone like Khairy to leave Umno before they drag him through the mud. When he was the deputy chief, he played the part of the Malay extremist very well but that is not the real KJ. He is an Oxford graduate and has a very cosmopolitan outlook. As he matures, he is finding out more and more that Umno is not the place for him,” Abdullah said.

“Another important factor why Khairy is weakened now is not only because Badawi has retired but also because he does have any government or cabinet position to shield and help him. When division heads and other leaders pester him for government contracts and allocations, he cannot do anything for them.

“Perhaps this is why Mahathir insisted that Najib did not give Khairy any cabinet post even though his own son Mukhriz was made a deputy minister after he lost the Youth chief contest to Khairy. As always in Malaysian politics, there is big business and money intertwined.

“It is very much easier to kill off a political foe when he has no more economic pull, unless he is personally wealthy. But how much of personal wealth can one keep spending to stay in power?”

Islam’s special position

thenutgraph.com

(Corrected at 12:35pm, 1 Feb 2010)

THE Home Ministry's ban on the use of "Allah" by the Catholic Herald publication has once again raised the issue of Islam's position in Malaysia.


Really?
"The special position of Islam is enshrined and protected under the constitution," said senior federal counsel Mahamad Naser Disa during arguments in Herald's suit against the Home Ministry in the High Court. "Allah is the holy name and a special verse in Islam. Any deviation to the holy verse of Allah is an insult to the religion of the country and the Federal Constitution," he argued.

But does the constitution really place Islam in a "special position"? Was that the understanding of our nation's founding leaders? And if not, how are these conclusions being justified?

Special position?

Some of the Herald's critics have been lambasting the Catholic Church for suing the government over the use of "Allah". As Mahamad Naser argued, they say the Herald's insistence on the use of "Allah" diminishes Islam's "special position" as enshrined in the constitution.

Muslim Lawyers Association president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar cites his reasons for affirming Islam's special position in the constitution:

1. Article 3(1) says Islam is the religion of the federation.

2. Islam is specifically mentioned in other parts of the constitution such as:

a. Article 11(4) relating to the control or restriction of the propagation of other religions among Muslims; and

b. Article 12(2) which allows the federal government to assist Islamic institutions.

3. No other religion has been specifically mentioned in the constitution except Islam.


But does the constitution actually state that Islam has a
"special position"?

4. The majority in Malaysia are Muslims.

Zainul concludes that although Article 3(1) says other religions may practise their religions in peace and harmony, due to Islam's special position, they can only do so without interfering with the peace and harmony of the practice of Islam.

The constitution

But where does it say in the constitution that Islam has a "special position"?

The correct answer is actually, nowhere.

This is unlike the "special position" of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak which is explicitly spelt out in Article 153 of the constitution.


By that measure, Christianity and Islam would both have special positions in Malaysia

It cannot be said that as Islam is the religion of Malay Malaysians and since the Malay Malaysians have a "special position", therefore Islam also has a special position. By that measure, the religion of native Sabahans and Sarawakians, many of whom are Christians, would also have a special position.

In any case, if the constitution's architects meant Islam to have a special position beyond what was stated in Article 3(1), wouldn't they have made sure that the constitution said so?

The constitution in fact, suggests otherwise. Article 3(4) states that "nothing in [Article 3] derogates from any other provision of this constitution." This means that Islam as the religion of the federation does not diminish any other part of the constitution, including the fundamental liberties enshrined in Part II, in any way.

Historical documents

Contemporaneous documents during the drafting of the constitution also demonstrate that Islam was never meant to have a "special position" as claimed. There were in fact clear assurances that other faith communities would not be hampered in the practice of their religions.

"There was universal agreement that if any such provision [on Islam being the religion of the federation] were inserted it must be made clear that it would not in any way affect the civil rights of the non-Muslims," said a report by the Reid Commission, the drafters of the Malaysian constitution. (Corrected) The Reid Commission held extensive consultations with various interested parties, including the Alliance which preceeded the Barisan Nasional, and the Malay rulers.

Indeed, Universiti Malaya historian Joseph M Fernando cites written evidence that Umno representatives specifically assured their non-Muslim counterparts that Article 3(1) would have "symbolic" significance rather than practical effect.

Fernando quotes the remarks of former MCA president Tun Tan Siew Sin in Parliament: "[Islam as the religion of the federation] does not in any way derogate from the principle, which has always been accepted, that Malaya will be a secular state and that there will be complete freedom to practise any other religion."

Court judgment

A 1988 Supreme Court decision by former Lord President Tun Salleh Abas also clarified what "Islam as the religion of the federation" means.

After an examination of the historical facts and documents relating to the constitution, his judgment stated: "...we have to set aside our personal feelings because the law in this country is still what it is today, secular law, where morality not accepted by the law [does not enjoy] the status of law."

Honestly speaking...

So why is the senior federal counsel from the government taking a position contrary to the constitution, historical documents and a Supreme Court judgment? How could he argue against the historical documents that say that Article 3(1) was not meant to give Islam a "special position" in Malaysia and that non-Muslims are guaranteed freedom to practise their own religions?


Do we become an Islamic state everytime a prime minister
says so? (Tunku Abdul Rahman pic source:
public domain | Wiki Commons)

To be fair, Mahamad Naser may only be supporting the position of his superiors. After all, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have all stated that Malaysia is an Islamic state. This is in direct contrast to Tunku Abdul Rahman, our first prime minister, and Tun Hussein Onn, our third, who expressly said that Malaysia is not an Islamic state.

Can the constitution's meaning be changed by prime ministerial decree or popular opinion? If the government says it long enough and loud enough, does that mean we eventually have to accept that Islam being the religion of the federation means it has a special position? And therefore the "peace and harmony" of Islam must be considered first, before the peaceful practice of other religions?

Instead of trying to read meanings into the constitution which were never there, the government should openly and honestly state its intentions. If its position is that Islam should have a special position in the constitution, it should propose constitutional amendments which can then be debated in Parliament. At least Malaysians would then be clear about the government's stand.

If the government is unwilling to attempt to amend the constitution to correctly reflect their position, it should stop manipulating the electorate to accept as fact a constitutional myth unsupported by historical evidence.

MCA Ministers and leaders are the “politically walking-dead” in Malaysia

By Lim Kit Siang,

Surprise of surprises that there is a MCA Minister and leader who could bestir from their political comatose stage to notice current developments around them.

The MCA paper The Star today reported the MCA vice president Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha as commenting that “the ‘internal bleeding’ of Pakatan Rakyat is just the beginning of a more serious problem for the pact” and that “Normally, in medical terms, if there’s haemorrhaging in the brain, it will lead to a stroke”.

Thanks Kong for the concern, which must have been quite an exertion from a denizen of the “politically walking-dead” in Malaysia – the MCA Ministers and leaders.

Malaysians have ceased to ask why MCA Ministers have failed to pull their weight in Cabinet, as it is generally recognized that the “politically walking-dead” can have zero weight or input in serious matters of state – which is why MCA Ministers have nothing to say in Cabinet about national issues whether 1Malaysia, NEP, braindrain, corruption, galloping crime or recent issues as in getting the Cabinet to direct the Home Ministry to withdraw its appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment of Datuk Lau Bee Lan allowing the Catholic weekly Herald to use the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia edition and to convene an inter-religious conference to resolve the “Allah” controversy; the exclusion of Chinese and Tamil primary schools in the selection of the first list of 20 high-performance schools or the Jakim insubordination and insurrection in organsing a forum for 800 civil servants last Thursday which openly defied the 1Malaysia concept.

DAP and Pakatan Rakyat will not be in denial like MCA Ministers and leaders. We are not afraid to admit to any internal haemorrhaging as such frank admission is the first necessary step and precondition to staunch the wound and not to become “politically walking dead” like MCA Ministers and leaders.

As PKR leader and Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, mentioned yesterday, there is afoot the Umno inspired plot involving Prime Minister Najib Razak to get PKR MPs and state legislators to defect by the Chinese New Year or to wrest a second state from Pakatan Rakyat, i.e. Selangor after the undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab in Perak which will mark its infamous anniversary on 6th Feb.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders who met yesterday recognized such “internal bleeding” and we are determined to staunch it so that PR will not join MCA Ministers and leaders in the zone of the “politically walking-dead”.

Stricter visa entry

The New Straits Times

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will tighten visa procedures for foreigners to prevent negative influences and unsavoury characters from entering the country.
It is learnt that visitors from all countries that currently need visas to enter Malaysia will be subjected to “individual assessments”.

A declaration of intent will no longer suffice.

This is in accordance with the first-tier visa issuance system in most developed countries, includting the United States. This will allow for the identification of “questionable” characters at the point of application.

A Home Ministry source said the new conditions would enable authorities to identify potential “hazards” intending to cross the nation’s borders.

The government wants to plug loopholes in the current entry system as it is felt that many had taken advantage of the country’s relaxed visa requirements to indulge in undesirable activities, such as vice.

It is learnt that countries that are of concern include several African nations, a few countries in the Middle East and Latin America.

Visitors who want to come to Malaysia will need to present their economic and detailed personal background, a security bond, as well as letters of undertaking
and proof of family ties and financial support from their sponsors here when applying for visas at Malaysian consuls in their country.

This will not only enable the government to reject visa applications of suspicious characters, but also to track them down if they cause trouble later.

The source said this would spell the end of the two-tier visa processing system or the "visa-without-reference" system adopted several years ago to promote tourism and higher education in Malaysia.

"What we have is a system with limited information about the people who we allow to enter the country. Only when they arrive do we try to manage and get them to observe their visa restrictions.

"As you know, entering the US is not easy as assessments are conducted on applicants. We want to stop visa applications based on nothing but declarations made by applicants," said the source.

According to a senior Foreign Affairs Ministry official, the government must be able to weed out people who enter the country claiming to be students, tourists and businessmen, but are actually here for undesirable purposes.

"If they come as tourists, they should make bookings at hotels and have return tickets. They should also have an appropriate amount of money to spend or perhaps have a sponsor who can vouch for them.

"If they are coming as students, our consul there would ask them to prove that a college in Malaysia is going to admit them," he said.

Senior government officials said tighter entry requirements will not have an adverse impact on the various economic sectors in Malaysia.


They said the tightening of entry procedures was part of four areas the government would tackle in monitoring and managing foreigners.

Currently, only visitors from Afghanistan, North Korea, Cuba, India, China and Vietnam are required to submit supporting documents when applying for a Malaysian visa.

A government committee to monitor and manage foreigners recently met and decided to beef up the monitoring mechanism and information system on foreigners, enforcement efforts and review relevant laws.

Sources said allowing better quality visitors to come into the country would prevent the infiltration of negative influences, curb the proliferation of drug syndicates and use of Malaysians as drug mules.

"If not addressed, the country's image will deteriorate and this will turn away tourists and investors in the long term," they said.

"Zahrain can burn bridges if he wants to," says CM Lim

The Star
BY CHAN LI LEEN

IPOH: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has finally broken his silence over former PKR state chief Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim’s open criticism of him, saying the Bayan Baru MP could burn bridges with the Penang Government if he chose to.

Lim, however, said he would be interested to see who among the Penang leaders would come out in support of Zahrain.

Zahrain last week had urged Lim to step down, calling him a dictator, a chauvinist and communist-minded leader who was unfit to lead the state.

The state DAP in its response claimed that Lim had informed the party that Zahrain was actually “politically frustrated” as his recommendation for a RM2 company to be awarded a contract had been rejected by the state government.

“If he wants to burn bridges with the Penang Government, that is his choice. Let us wait and see if other Penang leaders will support him,” Lim told reporters after opening a national workshop for DAP local councillors here on Sunday.

The PKR supreme council in its meeting on Sunday morning had decided to haul Zahrain before the party’s disciplinary committee.

Party adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the party condemned Zahrain’s views on Lim and that his statement was uncalled for.

Lim said since the media furore over the issue started, he had not been in communication with Zahrain, adding that it had not affected the running of the state government.

“It is business as usual in Penang. After all he (Zahrain) is not an assemblyman.

“Of course, the media will try to create a sense of crisis and that is what Barisan Nasional wants to achieve,” he said, admitting that he was surprised by Zahrain’s attack.

“This just came out of the blue and I feel we have addressed the real reasons behind it,” he said.

Responding to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s statement that the open verbal spat involving Pakatan leaders was a sign that there was a serious split within the fragile coalition, Lim said he had expected Barisan to try to turn the matter into a full-blown crisis.

“But one swallow does not make a summer,” he said, adding that it was unusual for the Prime Minister to express his views on such a matter.

To prove his confidence in his colleagues in the state government, Lim said he would leave on Monday for a short trade mission as planned.

Lagi penulis blog hina raja Melayu disiasat

Utusan Malaysia

JOHOR BAHRU 31 Jan. - Polis sedang menyiasat beberapa lagi penulis blog yang didapati menyentuh atau menghina institusi raja-raja Melayu dalam laman blog mereka.

Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein berkata, sekiranya bukti berhubung kegiatan tersebut mencukupi, kesemua mereka yang terlibat akan didakwa di mahkamah.

Beliau berkata, polis melalui Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Komersial (JSJK) kini bekerjasama dengan Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) bagi mengumpul bukti terhadap kes-kes berkenaan.

''Tindakan yang diambil adalah bukti pihak kerajaan amat serius membendung perkara yang boleh mencetuskan ketegangan di kalangan orang awam terutama hal berhubung kait dengan institusi raja, agama dan kaum.

''Pihak kementerian dengan kerjasama SKKM juga akan terus memantau laman blog yang menyentuh tentang perkara berkenaan," katanya kepada pemberita selepas menghadiri Mesyuarat Badan Perhubungan UMNO Johor di sini hari ini.

Jumaat lalu, seorang juruteknik komputer sambilan mengaku tidak bersalah di Mahkamah Sesyen Seremban terhadap pertuduhan menghina institusi kesultanan dan rakyat Johor menerusi blog adukataruna.blogspot.com pada 22 Januari lalu.

Khairul Nizam Abdul Ghani, 29, didakwa melakukan kesalahan itu di No.297, Rumah Rakyat Panchor, Paroi, di sini antara 7.25 malam dan 9.05 malam.

Hishammuddin yang juga Ketua UMNO Bahagian Semberong berkata, tindakan menyentuh perkara yang boleh membangkitkan kemarahan orang ramai adalah suatu perkara yang tidak wajar dan tidak bertanggungjawab apatah lagi ia melibatkan imej sesebuah negara.

''Saya percaya kita sepatutnya bersatu dalam memikul tanggungjawab berhubung kes sensitiviti orang ramai seperti institusi raja-raja Melayu dan agama agar ia tidak berleluasa sehingga membakar emosi rakyat," katanya.

Michael Jackson's kids to honor father at Grammys

Paris Katherine Jackson and Prince Michael Jackson will pay tribute to their late father's at Sunday's Grammys.
Paris Katherine Jackson and Prince Michael Jackson
will pay tribute to their late father's at Sunday's Grammys.

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Michael Jackson's two eldest children will appear on stage Sunday night during the Grammy show tribute to their father, Jackson's father and others confirmed.

It would be the first public appearance for Prince Michael, 12, and Paris, 11, since their dramatic appearance at the memorial service 12 days after their father's death last summer.

The children were to appear at a much smaller Grammy event Saturday night to accept their father's Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, but Katherine Jackson -- their grandmother and legal guardian -- agreed to the change, a spokesman for the pop star's father said.

Instead, former Jackson manager Frank Dileo made the Saturday night appearance. He also told CNN the Jackson children would be at the Sunday night tribute.

No family members had been invited to take part in either of the Grammy tributes to Michael Jackson until last week when the Jacksons complained, a family source said.

"However, there has been some recent rumors that I am displeased with the idea that Michael's children are accepting the award on my son's behalf," Joe Jackson said in a statement to CNN. "On the contrary, I am very proud of my grandchildren. Katherine and I are the ones who initiated their participation."

The youngest of the three, 7-year-old Blanket, is not expected to attend the show, although that could change, a family source said.

Jackson's oldest son is expected to read a statement on behalf of the family during the Grammy tribute, the source said.

The children will not enter the Los Angeles Convention Center through the media-lined red carpet, the family source said. Instead, they will be escorted backstage by Katherine Jackson, the family source said.

When Paris Katherine Jackson delivered a spontaneous speech at the massive memorial in July, it was the first time the public had heard from the children. They were often hidden by veils or blankets when seen with their father.

"Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine," she said. "And I just want to say that I love him so much."

Recording Academy President Neil Portnow, who oversees the Grammy show, said Sunday night's Jackson tribute will be "an extraordinarily emotional, moving and fitting tribute."

Singers Carrie Underwood and Smokey Robinson are among several stars who will take part in the musical tribute.

A segment of a 3-D video produced by Jackson shortly before his death will be shown. It was based on his pro-environment "Earth Song" for use in his "This Is It" tour.

Michael Jackson was 50 years old when he died June 25, 2009, just two weeks before he was to begin a long series of comeback shows in London.

The Los Angeles County coroner ruled his death a homicide resulting from a combination of drugs, primarily Propofol and Lorazepam.

A criminal investigation has focused on Dr. Conrad Murray, his personal physician who was with him when he died, although no charges have been filed.

Wan Azizah: UMNO Is Trying To Break Us Up

Datuk Zahrain - Balik ke pangkal jalan

PR to kick-start disciplinary committee

Pressing issues feature at PKR leaders meeting

Democracy does not come from the government, from on high, it comes from people getting together and struggling for justice - Howard Zinn

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Howard Zinn, the distinguished American historian and professor emeritus in the political science department at Boston University, died on January 27, 2010 in California. He was 87. Zinn went on to become an activist in the people’s movements for civil rights, civil liberties and peace, and he wrote extensively about all of those things, among which is the most celebrated A People’s History of the United States. Below are excerpts from a commencement address that Zinn delivered on May 15, 2005 to students of Spelman College in Atlanta.

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The lesson of history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government may try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies. I know you have practical things to do — to get jobs and get married and have children. You may become prosperous and be considered a success in the way our society defines success, by wealth and standing and prestige. But that is not enough for a good life.

Remember Tolstoy’s story, “The Death of Ivan Illych.” A man on his deathbed reflects on his life, how he has done everything right, obeyed the rules, become a judge, married, had children, and is looked upon as a success. Yet, in his last hours, he wonders why he feels a failure. After becoming a famous novelist, Tolstoy himself had decided that this was not enough, that he must speak out against the treatment of the Russian peasants, that he must write against war and militarism.

My hope is that whatever you do to make a good life for yourself — whether you become a teacher, or social worker, or business person, or lawyer, or poet, or scientist — you will devote part of your life to making this a better world for your children, for all children. My hope is that your generation will demand an end to war, that your generation will do something that has not yet been done in history and wipe out the national boundaries that separate us from other human beings on this earth.

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I learned something about democracy: that it does not come from the government, from on high, it comes from people getting together and struggling for justice. I learned about race. I learned something that any intelligent person realizes at a certain point — that race is a manufactured thing, an artificial thing, and while race does matter (as Cornel West has written), it only matters because certain people want it to matter, just as nationalism is something artificial. I learned that what really matters is that all of us — of whatever so-called race and so-called nationality — are human beings and should cherish one another.

Really profound words from a really profound individual.

Om Shanti

Naragan

Batu Caves: 4 Blind PKR mandores’ of Selangor MB peanuts politics of RM50,000.00.

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Just check the demeaneuor of the Selangor PKR EXCO mandore in white vashty (as we predicted) in Malaysiakini TV on 30/1/10 vis a vis his “prostrations” and “salutations” to his “Tuan” MB of Selangor. It only reminds us of the way the immediate past MIC Selangor EXCO mandore “prostrated” to his UMNO “Tuan” MB Selangor.

Giving out piecemeal handouts of RM50.000.00 to Tamil Schools and Hindu Temples is no real and permanent solution to the Indian problems in Selangor. By the stroke of his pen of the Selangor MB can grant land to all Hindu temples and crematoriums, Tamil Schools, squatters and Indian settlements in Selangor. It would not only offer a permanent solution but about half of the critical Indian problems in Selangor would be solved.

The Selangor “Tuan” MB has 100% powers to solve this Indian problem. But he would not do so. Because PKR, DAP and PAS think they may lose Malay votes so never mind the Indian suffering!. How then is he any different from previous UMNO regime under MB Khir Toyo.

To compound matters we now have four blind follower PKR Indian mandores in Selangor to implement PKR’s mandorism policies against the Selangor Indians in particular.

We are not even asking these four PKR Indian mandores to resign or even publicly ask their “Tuan” why state land is denied to all Hindu temples and crematoriums, all 98 Tamil Schools and Indian squatters and settlements.

All what we are asking for is for them to put an end to the 53 year old UMNO’s and now ably continued by PKR, DAP and PAS mandore policy using the MIC and to move on.

If you cannot help just, keep your MPs’ and Exco jobs by all means but we are not going to tolerate any forms of mandorism to further continue to cheat the Indians who have suffered enough for 53 long years. Especially through the conduit pipe of the three Tamil dailies.

Confucius once said that a thousand mile journey begins with a single step. If the “Tuan” Selangor MB, Anwar Ibrahim, Kapitan Lim Guan Eng and Hadi Awang deliberately refuses to permanently solve even this aforesaid Indian state land problem which is 100% within their powers just because they may lose Malay votes then the Indians cannot expect PKR, DAP or PAS to address the scores of the other critical Indian problems.

Where do we go from here then? Self help. The Indian Political empowerment:- http://www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com/books/TheWayForwardEnglishversion.pdf

The people side of the Hindraf Panthal at Thaipusam in Penang

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One little boy was brought to our attention in our Panthal that he had lost his mum in the din of things. Gokulan as he told us, was in Std four, but still little. He looked bewildered when I first set eyes on him, but soon after we had contacted his father using the handphone number Gokulan gave us, he settled down with a little more confidence, to wait for his father to come and pick him up. His father showed up about an hour later and he told us how grateful he was. My response to him was that we do not need to be thanked , what we were doing on the larger plane as Hindraf made it our duty to take care of every little aspect of the future we were all struggling for – his son included. Of course when Gokuklan left with his father, I could see expression of innocent gratitude in his eyes. These little things sometimes seem to evoke within me great passions and as I get older my emotions often overtake me.

Then there was Mariappen whom I have talked about in my other earlier writing, a whole family. Mariappen, his wife, and three sons, denied of their first and fundamental right as citizens of this country, showed up at the Panthal. They were all so surprised to see me there as much as I was surprised to see Mariappen show so much responsibility by bringing his whole family for Thaipusam to Penang from Kulim. He smelled of stale alcohol and I looked suspiciously at him as I do everytime I find him in a similar state. But he vehemently denied and he said it was last night’s. I told him, if he gave up his drinking and at the next Thaipusam he carried a Kavadi I would dance for his Kavadi, something I have never done in my entire life. You should have seen the look on his face and on his wife’s eyes when I said that. Again it is these little things like this that makes my life so meaningful.

There were so many little eventful things that happened today. I am so happy today. A small team of highly committed Hindraf team in Penang - put together such a wonderful exhibition for the people, to tell them that Hindraf was well and kicking and we were moving on to become the Human Rights Party of Malaysia, to lead them on.

They did such a wonderful job with a minimum of resources. They get nothing back personally from any of this, they only get many hours of additional work, maybe tension with their spouses – in one case Annathurai even had his wife and little daughter involved in the work of inviting the people on the streets to visit the exhibition that the others in the team had prepared for them. All of this gives me an exhilarating feeling, even though the organizing team was small, they were highly effective and so committed.

Every little thing we do has to do with people, if we believe in people, we will all be surprised at what little people can do. Hindraf stands for the little people, and watch out what we little people will do for this country. We just had one political Tsunami, watch out for the next.

Photos: Candle Vigil Hindraf Makkal Sakthi Ipoh Thaipusam

Candle Vigil Hindraf Makkal Sakthi Ipoh Thaipusam was done well with 18 pall kudham symbolizing our 18 points demand as well with Hindraf Thaipusam song of our own Murugan Bhajan written and composed by Mr.Vijayalingam. In this Murugan Bhajan Our 18 points demand was well stressed and which I will forward to you the lyrics later.

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Photos: Batu Caves Thaipusam ” HINDRAF Makkal Sakthi Special Chariot Procession “

Print 30/1/2010, 6pm. HINDRAF Makkal Sakthi Special Chariot Procession accompanied with milk offerings & Kavadi’s to Lord Muruga with conjunction of the auspicious Thaipusam Festival together with the fulfillment of the HINDRAF Makkal Sakthi 18 points demands and the save return of HINDRAF Makkal Sakthi’s Chairman, Mr Waythamoorthy to Malaysia .

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Heavy rain did not hamper HINDRAF Thaipusam Charriot procession btcaves-thai-100btcaves-thai-101btcaves-thai-102