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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Russian police release subway bomb suspects' photos

Police released this image of the two women they suspect detonated  the bombs on Moscow's metro.
Police released this image of the two women they suspect detonated the bombs on Moscow's metro.

But it was harder to root out corruption and clan structures, and to build an education system, he said in remarks televised by Russian state TV from his country residence.

"Those are the things that are much more difficult to handle. But it is our task and we will be dealing with those issues no matter what," he said.

Meanwhile, the Russian-backed leader of Chechnya wrote in a newspaper article Tuesday that terrorists who target innocent civilians must be "poisoned like rats."

"We have always believed and we continue to believe that terrorists must be hunted down and found in their lairs, they must be poisoned like rats, they must be crushed and destroyed," Ramzan Kadyrov wrote in the Russian daily Izvestia, a day after the deadly rush-hour attacks in two Moscow subway stations.

"The struggle against terrorists must involve the toughest measures and defeating this evil with only persuasion and educational measures is impossible."

Moscow paused to mourn its dead Tuesday, and flags across the city were lowered to half staff as hundreds of thousands of commuters returned to the transit system. Authorities said the attacks killed at least 39 people -- an increase of one since Monday -- and wounded more than 60 others.

Television stations canceled entertainment programming for the day, while some also pulled commercials.

After being closed most of the day, both stations that were bombed reopened around 5 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) Monday, said Veronica Smolskaya, a spokeswoman for the Russian Emergencies Ministry. A heavy security presence was apparent throughout the subway network as police officers were visible on train platforms.

"Our preliminary assessment is that this act of terror was committed by a terrorist group from the North Caucasus region," said Alexander Bortnikov of the Federal Security Service, in reference to the investigation at one of the blast sites.

The current round of the Russia-Chechnya conflict dates back nearly 20 years, with Chechens having laid claim to land in the Caucasus Mountains region. Thousands have been killed and 500,000 Chechen people have been displaced by the fighting.

Chechnya is located in the North Caucasus region of Russia between the Black and Caspian seas.

Monday's blasts tore through the Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations in central Moscow -- the female bombers detonating their explosives about 40 minutes apart, starting just before 8 a.m. (12 a.m. ET).

An estimated 500,000 people were riding trains throughout the capital at the time of the attacks.

Hindraf to debate Article 153 – in British Parliament

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Joe Fernandez (Malaysiakini)

The debate over Article 153 of the Federal Constitution pertaining to the king’s powers being usurped by Umno and the federal government may shift overseas from Malaysia to the British Parliament, if efforts by Hindraf chief P Waythamoorthy come to fruition.

hindraf in london  110310 waythamoorthyAccording to Waythamoorthy (right), a gathering of Queen’s Counsels (QC) will also debate, in the British parlliament, the shelf life of Article 153 in the light of declassified documents on the talks held between Tunku Abdul Rahman and officials of the British government pertaining to Merdeka.

While other details of the conference have not been finalised – it has yet to be determined whether the event will be in the House of Commons or the House of Lords – discussions are ongoing with QCs from Doughty Street Chamber, said Waythamoorthy.

The agenda for the conference, he added, will include debates on

  • whether the issue of special Malay privileges is a “myth” created by Umno in violation of Article 153 to facilitate carte blanc extension of the party’s highly-politicised version of the Article to every facet of life in Malaysia
  • the systematic violation of the legitimate aspirations of the non-Malay communities which are protected by Article 153
  • the powers of the King in relation to Article 153
  • why Article 153 was not scrapped, as agreed, 15 years after Merdeka in 1957

“We will invite Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali and his mentor Dr Mahathir Mohamad to participate in the conference,” Waythamoorthy when contacted by Malaysiakini.

“We would definitely want the Attorney-General of Malaysia (Abdul Gani Patail) to be there as well to state the Malaysian government’s position before the international community,” he added.

Given Waythamoorthy’s call for Article 153 as a whole to be scrapped, however, de facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz had earlier said this reason alone compromises the former’s right to return to Malaysia.

Waythamoorthy, in self-imposed exile in London, has been granted political asylum by the British government and provided with a British UN travel document as a human rights lawyer-advocate.

hindraf london demo 060208 waythamoorthyWaythamoorthy said he does not rule out the participation in the conference of groups such as the Common Interest Group Malaysia (Cigma) headed by Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan as well as some Orang Asli associations.

Asked what he hoped to accomplish with holding a conference so far away from Malaysian shores, Waythamoorthy said such a discussion would never be allowed back home.

There is also the complication of his passport being revoked, he added, preventing him from traveling to Malaysia.

“What we are going to prove through the conference is that Umno has been misleading everybody on Article 153 and taking them for a ride,” said Waythamoorthy.

“We will easily establish this during the conference. We are backed by the Federal Constitution, including Article 153 and the declassified papers on the Merdeka talks,” he added.

‘Show me the money’


In place of the current Article 153 should be a new provision addressing the ‘underclass’ of all Malaysians, said Waythamoorthy.

Until that is done, he asserted, the current situation “denies us our rightful place in the sun.”

It also means non-native Muslims can seek its ‘privileges’ through the “backdoor” and claim to be Malays and natives”.

bagan  pinang 081009 indian voters“There is no basis in law for a non-native to claim that he’s now a native by the backdoor method of professing Islam and claiming to be a constitutional Malay,” stressed Waythamoorthy.

On the other hand, there remain ‘genuine’ Malays throughout the country and natives in Sabah and Sarawak who are claiming to have been overlooked and ignored by the government and the New Economic Policy (NEP), he said further.

“It’s time that the Malays and Sabahan and Sarawakian natives stand up and ask their leaders what has happened to the NEP money. Why isn’t it in their pockets?” he asked.

Way clear for MIC to contest Hulu Selangor

By Baradan Kuppusamy - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — It has been decided that an MIC candidate will be fielded as Barisan Nasional’s (BN) candidate for the Hulu Selangor by-election, following discussions between Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu yesterday.

But MIC sources say that it remains uncertain if party deputy president Datuk G Palanivel — who lost the seat in Election 2008 when he was an incumbent — will be the man chosen to represent BN.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Najib, the BN chairman, has asked MIC to submit three names for the by-election.

Hulu Selangor was originally an Umno seat but given to MIC to contest in 1990. It is a largely Malay constituency with significant numbers of Indian and Chinese voters.

Palanivel first won the seat in 1990 and held it until he lost to PKR’s Datuk Zainal Abidin by just 198 votes in the 2008 polls.

Numerous undercurrents both in Umno and MIC questioned Palanivel’s eligibility as candidate for the by-election which both BN and Pakatan Rakyat see as a crucial contest.

Both coalitions feel that going into the 13th general election with a victory in Hulu Selangor would enhance their standing.

Some quarters in BN feel a young, dynamic and new-face would be a better choice considering BN wants to woo younger voters, compared to Palanivel, who is 61.

Others however said a tested veteran like him has a better chance of winning big instead of a newcomer.

Within the MIC there is a move to favour a newcomer because if Palanivel contests and wins, the MIC’s sole seat in the Cabinet now held by Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S Subramanian will have to go to Palanivel, who is party deputy president.

Some supporters of former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramanian also want either Subramaniam or another to contest instead of Palanivel.

They are kicking up a fuss by word of mouth and in the Makkal Osai, a daily owned by Subramaniam and his allies, questioning Palanivel’s potential candidacy.

In Umno, former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo opened a can of worms saying, in his blog last week that Palanivel is not a good candidate because it would cause dissension in the MIC.

He was lambasted by MIC division leaders for “interfering” in MIC matters and was told off by numerous MIC leaders in private telephone calls.

In a posting on his blog on Monday Khir Toyo now appears to have changed his position and is now endorsing an MIC candidate to contest in the Hulu Selangor by-election.

He said that although there were calls for Umno to field a candidate, it was not appropriate as the constituency belonged to MIC.

“In the concept of sharing power among the various races and mutual understanding, it is fair that an MIC candidate should be allowed to stand in the by-election,” he wrote.

Samy Vellu has been fending off demands from MIC division leaders especially in Selangor to tell Umno to back-off but he has been careful not to hurt the feelings of leaders in the Malay party.

A week ago he called a press conference and announced that the MIC will contest the seat and that Palanivel is the candidate and “no one else”.

The move was unprecedented but he has now agreed with a request from Najib that MIC will submit three names for BN to decide.

Palanivel, MIC sources said, is still heading the BN list despite the many undercurrents in the MIC and Umno.

The Election Commission is announcing on Friday the nomination and polling dates.

On the PKR side a neuro-surgeon Dr Halili Rahmat, who fought twice before and lost, and PKR veteran Khalid Jaafar are vying along with PKR co-coordinator Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, to be the candidate.

PKR sources said Zaid is still in the lead.

Rumble in the House, Pakatan reps stage walkout

By FMT Staff

FMT ALERT IPOH: Pandemonium erupted in the Perak state assembly this morning, with Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen challenging the legitimacy of the Barisan Nasional Speaker R Ganesan.

Upset for not being allowed to speak, Pakatan assemblymen pulled out placards denouncing their BN counterparts as 'thieves' and 'robbers'.

Ousted Pakatan menteri besar Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin later led a walkout of Pakatan reps.

The commotion unravelled before a packed public gallery, while members of the media had to watch the proceedings from the viewing rooms.

Jeffrey: Umno Sabah disappointed Mahathir

By Dominic Legeh - Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: Has Umno Sabah now become a liability and did former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad eventually regret taking the party to Sabah?

According to PKR chief of Sabah and Sarawak, Dr Jeffrey Kittingan, Mahathir had his regrets.

"After I was released from detention (under the Internal Security Act), I was brought to his ( Mahathir's) office.

“During our conversation, he told me he actually regretted bringing Umno to Sabah, because its leaders only cared about themselves and not the party," said Jeffrey.

Jeffrey said he had asked Mahathir why was it so difficult to disband the party in Sabah, and Mahathir told him he could not do so because of "maruah (pride)".

"Since Mahathir cannot take Umno back to the Peninsula, the people of Sabah should send Umno back to the Peninsula," said Jeffrey when officiating at the opening of PKR Kota Kinabalu division AGM at its office here. Also present were PKR Sabah chairman Ahmad Thamrin and deputy president-cum-Kota Kinabalu division chief Christina Liew.

The opposition leader, whose brother Joseph Pairin Kittingan is Sabah deputy chief minister, called on Sabahans to give Pakatan Rakyat the next five-year mandate to help change the fate of Sabah.

"After so many years and until today, even after PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah) rejoined the Barisan Nasional, nothing has changed," he said.

He recalled that Pairin had told him once that the purpose of joining the BN was so "it would be easier for us to solve all problems like the illegal immigrants, poverty and so on".

"He told me this then. But after so many years, have they solved the illegal immigrant problem … the poverty problem?

“Poverty has become even bigger. Sabah is now the second poorest state in the country with the largest poorest population.

"Recently there was a news report quoting a state deputy chief minister as saying the poverty rate in Sabah has dropped by 7%. Do you believe this?

“If all the prices of goods have increased but the salary remains the same, is this possible? There are actually more poor people in Sabah now than the last two years."

He said despite a whole series of operations against illegal immigrants, nothing has actually changed and the problem remained unsolved.

Even the increase in allocations from the federal government to Sabah from RM2.7 billion to RM20 billion has made little difference, he said.

"What do we see from this (RM20 billion)? Maybe we see a little bit (development) here and there but the question is, where did the money go… I believe you all know where," he said.

He said if the opposition parties did not keep a careful watch "I believe all the development allocation would go into the pockets of the Barisan Nasional leaders”.

"So we need to take away the Barisan Nasional fixed deposit because we do not actually gain any 'interest' from it... transfer the fixed deposit to Pakatan Rakyat and you will get your rightful 'interest'," he said.

NEM a fresh gloss on old ideas, says prof

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today

An academic has expressed shock and disbelief over the 'lack of original ideas' in the initial framework of the New Economic Model unveiled by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak yesterday.

University Malaya's Prof Edmund Terence Gomez found it unsettling that the prime minister gave a fresh coat of gloss to old ideas instead of crafting new ones, particularly in the three main areas of focus - affirmative action policy, private sector-led growth and public-private cooperation.

“Najib says that the affirmative action policy will now be need-based instead of race-based. But the aspects of its transparency and market-friendliness are clearly targetted at bumiputeras. And this is no different from the NEP,” he told FMT.

The chairman of UM's Social and Behavioral Science Research Cluster also questioned the rationale of putting forth the affirmative action policy when such policies have previously failed.

Gomez also highlighted Najib's failure to mention institutional reforms, which the academic said is crucial to ensure accountability and transparency of policy implementation.

On the issue of privatisation, he pointed out that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad spoke on this 20 years ago.

“This idea has been implemented and it has failed. So why are we repeating it? And in discussing privatisation, Najib also has to talk about regulations but there has been no mention of this so far.

“The corporatisation of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (formerly known as Malaysian Industrial Development Authority) will not play a major role in attracting foreign investments,” he said.

“What is needed is a truly transparent policy that will protect investors' rights. Najib has not issued this assurance,” he added.

Promises – easy to make, difficult to keep

Meanwhile, Centre of Policy Initiatives' Prof Lim Teck Ghee described the framework as 'nice rhetoric'.

He called on the government to explain when and how discriminatory policies and programmes in education, housing, corporate equity, land alienation and other areas of the economy will be phased out.

Lim also stressed on the need for exact details pertaining to the new merit-based policies that will replace it.

Promises, he said, are easy to make but difficult to keep.

“We have already heard of much backtracking on the NEM. During the (Malay pressure group) Perkasa meeting, we saw pressure from (Perkasa chief) Ibrahim Ali and Mahathir to reintroduce the NEP which many Malaysians regard as the key obstacle to the country’s advancement.

“The pronouncement of a doubled per capita goal in 10 years is unacceptable because the present government will not be around to take responsibility for failure to reach the target,” he said.

“The long-term time frame of the NEM is an excuse for inaction or delaying tactics. NEM has no short-term targets and I think it will suffer the same fate as the other ambitious policies before it,” he added.

Brace yourselves for the repercussions

CIMB Investment Bank chief economist Lee Heng Guie applauded the NEM's critical review of Malaysia's shortcomings, but refrained from commending it outright.

“This is a fundamental reform that is long overdue. The framework is a very strong statement of intent and is very much in line with the government's bold and radical approach in pushing for change,” he said.

Lee stressed that from this point onwards, strong political leadership is of supreme importance.

“Tough decisions have to be made in the areas of reducing subsidies, restoring market prices and creating fair and equal opportunities,” he said.

Lee warned that these policies can lead to political repercussions and the government must brace itself.

“Policymakers have to stand their ground and stick to the reform agenda. Any flip-flop will be detrimental,” he said.

Lee noted that the biggest hurdle will be the targetted GDP growth, due to the unpredictable economic environment and more intense global competition.

He added that this will be especially challenging with the government's plan to uplift the private sector as the prime growth driver.

“But the NEM is no longer an option,” he asserted. “It's a necessity. Decisive action needs to be taken to speed up transformation and I hope it would do exactly that.”

Monash University's political scientist James Chin said the current framework will excite foreigners because the prime minister aims to do away with rent-seeking and patronage.

“It would also excite (right-wing Malay pressure group) Perkasa because he has promised continuity of certain aspects under the affirmative action programme that will benefit the bumiputeras. But it's too early for any assumptions,” he added.

Dr M, Father of the Regressing Malay

Mahathir forgets easily (II)

Today, Dr M joins Perkasa in insisting and almost begging that the Malays remain a begging and handicapped community! Who indeed has insulted the Malays?

By Martin Jalleh

Recently, Bolehland’s Statesman Dr Mahathir (Dr M) launched Perkasa, a right-wing Malay group, (some consider it as an ultra-fanatical wing of Umno) at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

The former premier was the replacement for the much wiser Sultan of Selangor who turned down Perkasa's invitation. The Malay CEOs of government-linked companies (GLCs) also declined.

Dr M and his wife were greeted with a silat performance, strains of traditional music and a huge replica of a keris which stood out on the side of the stage. In the midst of speeches were shouts of "Hidup Perkasa".

Dr M said that the Malays’ faith in Umno has weakened since it’s disastrous performance in the 2008 general elections. The BN government was weak and all this was due to the then weak leader! He inferred that the Malays needed a strong voice like Perkasa.

They placed a sash on their “strong” Malay leader with the title 'Bintang Primbumi Perkasa’. Dr M then handed a kris to Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali who unsheathed, kissed and waved it high to cries of "Hidup Melayu".

Lim Kit Siang slammed Ibrahim Ali for blaming the DAP and its Malaysian Malaysia slogan as the main cause of the May 13 race riots, and for his keris-waving antics which to the DAP stalwart were meant to signify that Perkasa was ready to shed blood to defend Malay rights.

But the “greatest tragedy” according to Kit Siang was Dr M giving his patronage to Perkasa, an organisation “built on stilts of lies”. He lamented that Dr M “has come full circle – from an ultra back again to an ultra”.

Ibrahim Ali, an Umno reject (in the last general elections) was only making use of the supposedly retired Umno president who was slick and sly enough to outshine the hopper and used Perkasa too. They both needed their stage to stay relevant and adored – even if the script involved making use of the poor Malays!

Dr M and Ibrahim Ali would remain silent over the poor Malays having been for so long and so scandalously shortchanged by the Umnoputras and the blame for their struggles being put on the non-Malays. They were mum on those elite Malay leaders who have bled the country dry and gambled away her well-being with a racial-religious card.

As mentor to and godfather of Perkasa, Dr M, the great Statesman, would join in the rhetoric and heroics of the mentally challenged Ibrahim Ali. The latter would holler for the continued handicap and handouts given to the Malays He would clamour for their continued “crutches” and contracts.

Yet, a long time ago Dr M had very bravely declared: “The Malays should stop sending memorandum after memorandum to the government asking for aid and other things for themselves. Such an approach is no longer suitable because the time has come for them to stand on their own feet.”


He had boldly asked: “How much longer must the Malays depend on the government and the privileges accorded to them? How much longer must they remain mediocre?”


The then prime minister was delivering a speech at the ‘Reaffirming the Idealism of Undergraduates in the New Millennium’ symposium at Dewan Perdanasiswa, Universiti Malaya, in 2001 (the 30th anniversary of the NEP).

Speaking to the predominantly Malay crowd, Dr M continued: ‘How do you view the beggars on the street and then ask yourself what is the difference between their circumstances and yours? The government has done so much to elevate the position of the Malays, be it in business or education so that their achievement would be on par with the races, yet these efforts are never enough.”


“If the Malays could compete on the same level with other races there would no longer be a need for them to restrict themselves to the quota for everything. Must we lower the eligibility standard to the point where even useless students can go to the university just so that we can fill up the 55% bumiputra quota in the local public universities?”

“If so, we must remember that some of the students who go to the university in this manner will some day become doctors and engineers. How can we entrust our life to such doctors or what will be the quality of our infrastructures if they are built by such engineers? It would be much easier to tackle the problem affecting the Malays if they are proven stupid because all that is required would be to encourage them to study harder.”

“However, the underlying reason is much more difficult to address because it is caused by negative attitude and their reluctance to work hard.” (The Star, 2 July, 2001)


That was nine years ago! Today, Dr M joins Perkasa in insisting and almost begging that the Malays remain a begging and handicapped community! Who indeed has insulted the Malays?

Real Cost of NEP - Insights from an Ice Cream Seller

I cant help but put in my two scoops worth over the recent discourse over the cost of the affirmative action policies we have undertaken over the years – which affected the most part of my life.

By Roland K Selvanayagam

Numbers have been tossed in the air but essentially, the real costs cannot be quantified. Its ill implementation has affected our lives in more areas than we can sit up and observe

Lets look at a convenient 10

1) Education

Up to the late 60's our education was considered top class from primary to tertiary level. Even the diploma awarding colleges had a certain class about them eg the precursor to the now Universit Teknologi Malaysia

Thanks to the politicised implementation by our 'educators', our schools are now shunned. Tuition after hours becomes almost a standard. What our 'teachers' do not do in schools, the tuition teachers fill in. When the string of distinctions are announced, the schools and their teachers claim the credit.

I need go no further than my own two children.

Universities locally are generally avoided unless one cannot afford the alternative of overseas education or private sector university colleges.

The atmosphere in schools and public universities are so sterile that I wonder if I am sometimes in Brunei.

2) Health

I remember visiting our old GH in KL in the 60's and 70's and also the UH in Petaling Jaya.

The doctors and nurses were dedicated, pretty professional and you never really thought of going to a private hospital for better treatment.

Today, one has to ensure private health insurance is in place or 'endure' the public healthcare system.Sure there are exceptions out there but then, that should have been the rule. How many lower middle class and upward segments of our society opt to have their babies delivered in the government hospitals? That itself is a gauge of damnation.

3) Brain Drain

Suffice to say that if just half the Malaysian diaspora return to Malaysia and just are left alone to excel, we will be taking on Australia, S'pore, Taiwan etc. Just look at what Malaysians are doing in S'pore, Australia, US, UK, China, Canada etc. It makes we wonder if that was the underlying intention of our implementation in the 1st place!

4) Sports

Just look back at the time when we were powerhouses in football (at least in Asia), hockey and athlectics. Thanks to almost homogenous teams today, we are not worth a 2nd look. Corruption, endemic in our system, has nailed the final coffin to our football dreams. The tentacles of NEP permeated this arena where it was the best sphere to nurture nation building and cohesiveness.

The Nicol Davids, Chong Wei's and a few INDIVIDUAL cases are a result more of their own sacrificies and that of their parents. Our schools and clubs like TPCA play no part in this process.

5) Inferiority Complex

Like it or not, we have bred a society with an inferiority complex. Sometimes we seem to apologise for just existing!!!! Just study the behaviour of our tourists when they are overseas. Even our students overseas do not seem comfortable engaging with local students or other foreigners. Undeniably, we have our bright stars but we ought to have a multitude of stars given our latent talent as a nation. If anything, the NEP has cemented the JAGUH KAMPUNG mentality in our society

6) Judiciary

In trying to 'redress' the racial imbalance in the judiciary, we sidelined eminent judges and elevated Jaguh Kampungs who could read a few pages of English. Of course, our long serving PM destroyed the moral fabric of this institution in addition to other 'collateral damage' done

Any foreign investor worth his salt insists in their agreements that disputes are resolved through arbitration but OUTSIDE Malaysia. What deeper insult and perception does one need?

7) Segregation of Society

At pre school, segregation is not uncommon along religious lines – Islamic, Christian etc.

At primary, there is a scramble to register for Chinese medium schools and Tamil schools unlike pre 70's. The govt schools are sometimes like schools of indoctrination – teachers primarily of one race and religion and now mostly women (not that I have anything against women). At secondary, 'bumiputera' students are shunted to residential schools and colleges. Urban secondary schools become the 1st point of contact for Chinese and Tamil medium kids from primary.

After form 5, urban non-Malays will be sent to private colleges, Malays and other Bumis to matriculation courses and bright non-Malays enticed to S'pore.

At university, segregation gets more entrenched with each race clinging to their own kind with the exception of those from urban schools.

Employment time, non-Malays see the civil service as an alien arena. GLCs pick the cream of the Malays and other bumiputera who are not already snatched by the top MNCs. The others take what comes – usually creating a mismatch in what they do and what they studied. The armed forces and police are no attraction for non-Malays. The impression given is that they are tolerated, not welcomed. Ibrahim Ali will not shout that the non-Malays make up less than 33% in these areas.

8) Culture of Corruption and erosion of core values

Corruption has permeated every echelon of society – from the drain sweeper to the top leaders thanks to the NEP. Consequently, core values have eroded as much as our Ringgit. Even a place in the 1st class ward of the hospital can be found with some sumbangan. Even more macabre, a grave site to bury your loved one can suddenly be found.

Blue ICs, passports, parking fines, scholarships, tenders awarded, even sports are all commodities in the currency of corruption. Not to mention the judgements you want in the halls of 'justice'.

9) Lost generation

Perhaps our biggest loss has been the generation born in the 60's and later for it is they who now live through the muck and filth of the decay our society has degenerated into. Wonder who the prime culprit is. If we have the political will, it will take at least another generation to come back to where we were – if at all possible. If NEP is akin to cancer, then we are short of oncologists.

10) Rent Seekers

By far, this has been the 'profession' that flourished the most from NEP. And the Rent Seekers are worse than parasites but they have multiplied and grown to such an extent that they stare at your faces almost everywhere you go – from Parliament to the Mat Rempits (the cadres for future rent seeking MPs)

The list could go on but how does one encapsulate the blow out of 40 years of NEP in a few sheets other than toilet paper?

Winning over women

thenutgraph.com


Women's rights logo (Public domain)

ACCORDING to the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), women in Malaysia have made little progress over the past 25 years. In a briefing for parliamentarians last week on 24 March, JAG listed out the good, the bad and the ugly that affect women.

JAG's research into the issues that affect half our population was commendable. What was disappointing was the low turnout of Members of Parliament (MP). Parliamentary backbenchers and members of the gender caucus were invited, but only seven MPs came. They were Chua Tian Chang, Khalid Samad, Zuraida Kamaruddin, Teo Nie Ching, Fong Po Kuan and a representative for Teresa Kok — all from the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) — and independent MP Datuk Chua Soon Bui.

The extremely poor attendance by MPs and the complete absence of Barisan Nasional (BN) representatives is disappointing, more so at a time when women's issues are growing increasingly complex. What can we glean from our MPs' response to the JAG briefing? And how does the BN compare to the PR when it comes to women's rights and issues?

Priorities

JAG member, All Women's Action Society senior programme officer Abigail de Vries, says the poor attendance reflects how women's issues are a low priority for lawmakers.

"There is a perception that women in Malaysia are OK. Many are highly educated, have jobs, and that's enough," de Vries tells The Nut Graph.


de Vries (Courtesy of Empower)
But it isn't. To think that women are treated equally in Malaysia is to ignore women who survive below the radar of mainstream society. What about indigenous women who live far away in the rural interiors? Foreign women who are refugees and victims of human trafficking, but whom the authorities view as nothing more than illegal immigrants?

Additionally, JAG's monitoring and lobbying for law and policy reforms over the past 25 years demonstrate that women are facing new lows. In its report The Good, Bad and Ugly, the coalition of women's advocacy groups criticised the slow pace in reforms to protect women from violence and discrimination.

It also recognised the achievements made thus far. However, a closer look at "the good" reveals actions that did not go far beyond putting ink on paper. Laws can be amended or enacted, international treaties signed, crisis centres set up, but implementation and enforcement continue to be lacking.

Where the rubber needs to hit the road on more complex women's issues that overlap with politics and religion, there appears to be complete lack of political will. Some of these issues include citizenship for foreign husbands; standardising syariah law across states; child custody arising from conversions to Islam; sexism in Parliament; and an insufficient code of practice against sexual harassment, when what is needed is a law.

It was these findings that JAG wanted to brief the MPs on and have a press conference about. But with just seven out of 222 MPs attending the briefing, was it a case of poor logistical planning, or lack of political will?


Nancy (Source: parlimen.gov.
my)
Planning or political will

Parliamentary gender caucus chairperson Nancy Shukri says she was ill-informed about the agenda of the JAG briefing and the joint press conference JAG wanted to hold with MPs.

"It's unfair to say that BN MPs didn't want to attend. There wasn't a proper agenda explained. They should have had a proper discussion with the caucus on what we were going to do.

"JAG said the agenda was about law reform, but as an MP, I'm not in the position to speak about laws that aren't ready yet, and which are still with the relevant ministries," Nancy tells The Nut Graph in a phone interview.

Regardless of the logistical arrangements of the briefing, it's clear that political will is needed more than ever to empower MPs to take up gender issues. Women's rights have moved beyond arguing about whether domestic violence is a crime, or whether there is a need to set 30% targets for participation. The JAG report indicates that women's issues now involve overlapping jurisdictions with other authorities, which include state religious, immigration and human resources departments.

On this score, the BN government has proven itself to either be complicit in discrimination against women, or ineffective in addressing it. For example, it missed a defining moment to get to the bottom of sexual assaults against Penan women and children in a situation JAG describes as "impunity" for the perpetrators. Even if the police claimed a lack of evidence, what was stopping the government from ensuring justice was done, and the vulnerable Penan protected from future violations?


Penan mother and child (Pic courtesy of Sofiyah Israa @ Flickr)

The BN government also hasn't addressed the contradiction between syariah law that allows women to be caned and the Criminal Procedure Code that prohibits it. It doesn't see the point of repealing archaic laws on "enticing" married women. It is helpless in sensitising its MPs who use sexist language in Parliament. Its women, family and community development minister thankfully condemned child marriages but unfortunately, was quick to back off from concrete action, and instead deferred to the Islamic authorities.

Yet, the more complex things get, the more we seem stuck at correcting the most basic of prejudices. Cuepacs, the umbrella body of civil servants, worries that "female dominance" in the civil service will have "long-term implications on the progress and growth of the country".

PR's savviness

"There's still an incredibly low level of awareness on women's issues among ministers and lawmakers. One problem is that the ministry in charge of women's affairs is too obsessed with the routine of providing welfare, and not focusing enough on driving policy and gender sensitisation," says Zuraida, who is also Parti Keadilan Rakyat Wanita chief and a member of the parliamentary gender caucus.


Gender equality logo (Public domain)
If pushing the women's rights agenda begins with political will, then certain PR parties are displaying more understanding of what is at stake.

For example, the ruling government can at best say it has a target of having at least 30% women in all decision-making levels. But PKR has enshrined the same percentage for women leaders at central, state and division levels in its party constitution. At the same time, the DAP has committed to a 30% target for women participation in politics, while PAS, in Perak at least, has agreed with its PR partners to allocate 30% of seats for women candidates in the next general election.

If ever the opposition parties come to federal power, one hopes they will be able to deliver policies and laws that guarantee and implement protection and equal status for women in all fields. Their pledges will be held against them, just as promises made by the ruling government are now being called into account.

Muhyiddin should resign as DPM if he is not prepared to declare that in accordance with 1Malaysia goal, he is Malaysian first and Malay second

by Lim Kit Siang

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in Parliament yesterday in his reply as Education Minister that he supported the Prime Minister’s message of 1Malaysia and instead accused me of trying to drive a wedge between Datuk Seri Najib Razak and him.

Muhyiddin said:

“Ipoh Timur has questioned my commitment to the concept of 1 Malaysia. For Ipoh Timur’s information, 1 Malaysia, which was created by the prime minister, is a pure idea aimed at strengthening racial unity which has been the basis of our strength as a nation.

“Unity reflected by 1 Malaysia is not a form of assimilation where one’s identity is erased and replaced with one identity. It is also not a concept which rejects the special rights of the Malays as propagated by Ipoh Timur through the concept of Malaysian Malaysia and lately Middle Malaysia.

“My relationship with the prime minister is very close and 1 Malaysia has the support of the nation. The allegations made are aimed at weakening Barisan Nasional. I am confident that Barisan Nasional lawmakers clearly understand the concept of 1 Malaysia.”


Muhyiddin said that 1Malaysia respects the nation’s constitution and accused me of questioning the special rights of the Malays.

He said:

“Ipoh Timur is questioning the special rights of the Malays and rejects the differences in identity of the different races and the spirit of the constitution which does not reflect real commitment to the concept of 1 Malaysia.”

Clearly, Muhyiddin believes in the maxim that the best defence is offence, as he had completely evaded the three questions, which I had described as the three acid tests as to whether he really supports Najib’s 1Malaysia concept and has the 1Malaysia DNA, namely;

  1. Whether he agrees to the establishment of an Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on 1Malaysia;

  2. Is he prepared to declare that the basis of 1Malaysia is “ketuanan rakyat Malaysia” and not “ketuanan Melayu”; and

  3. Is he prepared to endorse the objective of 1Malaysia as defined by the 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme (GTP) Roadmap to create a nation where every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion or region second.

  4. As a result of evasion and prevarication by Umno Youth leader, Khairy Jamaluddin during the exchange when I spoke in the debate on the Royal Address, I had framed a fourth question:

  5. Whether he is prepared to declare that the basis of the Malaysian Constitution is “ketuanan rakyat Malaysia” and not “ketuanan Melayu”.

Instead, Muhyiddin had gone on the offensive to launch a baseless and scurrilous attack on me, alleging that that I “questioned Malay special rights and rejected the differences in identity of the different races and the spirit of the constitution”.

Muhyiddin must be a very desperate politician that he had to make such a baseless charge, as I had refuted the allegation that I opposed Article 153 of the Constitution.

Is Muhyiddin making the allegation because I had declared that I am Malaysian first and Chinese second, and he is evading my challenge to him to similarly declare that he is Malaysian first and Malay second?

Isn’t Muhiddin’s refusal to make such a declaration the best proof that he does not fully support Najib’s 1Malaysia concept?

Let me remind Muhyiddin what the 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme Roadmap said about the goal of 1Malaysia – “to make Malaysia ….a greater nation: a nation where, it is hoped, every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second and where the principles of 1Malaysia are woven into the economic, political and social fabric of society”.

During the debate in Parliament, I said this formulation of the goal of 1Malaysia is exactly the goal of Malaysian Malaysia and Middle Malaysia, proof that Malaysian Malaysia and Middle Malaysia are fully centred on the fundamental basis of the Constitution upon which this nation was founded when we achieved Merdeka in 1957.

In refusing to respond to my challenge to declare that he is Malaysian first and Malay second, isn’t Muhyiddin demonstrating that he does not fully support the 1Malaysia goal?

I challenge Muhyiddin to explain how my four questions on the acid tests of 1Malaysia had “questioned Malay special rights and rejected the differences in identity of the different races and the spirit of the constitution”?

Muhyiddin should resign as Deputy Prime Minister if he is not prepared to set the lead for all UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders and declare that in accordance with the 1Malaysia goal, he is Malaysian first and Malay second.

Home arrow News arrow Legal/General News arrow Lawyers To Deliver Memorandum of Protest To IGP – 31 March 2010, 12pm

Loyar Burok
By Lord Bobo

This post is reproduced from here.

In response to lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad being manhadled and briefly arrested by police outside court last week, come Wednesday 31st March at 12pm, lawyers will deliver a Memorandum of Protest to the IGP at Bukit Aman. All are welcome to join in this peaceful protest against police brutality and preventive detention laws.

Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad manhandled and briefly arrested by police outside court

1. On 25th March 2010 Amer Hamzah had obtained his client Khaeryll Benjamin Ibrahim@ Benjy’s release on bail on a charge of drug possesssion at the Jalan Duta courts.


2. Near the bail processing counter, about 10 policemen suddenly converged on Amer and his client and ordered the client to go with them. Present were the client’s mother Azean Irdawaty, pupil Sharon Khoo and some family members.

3. The policemen were in plainclothes, and Amer demanded their identity and police card. A police inspector claimed that it was an arrest under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act, i.e: detention without trial.

4. At this point, Amer was assaulted and briefly arrested. Two policemen grabbed Amer and held him back with force. Amer protested his treatment, and repeatedly asked the police not to touch him. Eventually Amer was released as his client was bundled away.
Our Protest

The unlawful, oppressive and arbitrary actions of the police on 25th March are a gross interference with a lawyer carrying out his duty to his client. Amer was discharging his duties in the best traditions of the Malaysian Bar, when he sought explanation from the police as to why his client was being arrested. Despite being surrounded by police, he continued to speak out for his client,as he was bound to do.

The aggressive and unlawful response of the police is a reflection of the general arrogance and lack of respect for the rule of law widely displayed by the police force. The matter is aggravated by the fact that Amer’s client was being arrested under an oppressive and unconstitutional preventive detention law.

The Malaysian Bar has forcefully and repeatedly called for the repeal of all preventive detention laws. The re-arrest of Benjy immediately after his release by the court is also a flagrant contempt of judicial authority. The Inspector General of Police must:

a) take stern action against the policemen who assaulted Amer Hamzah Arshad and the officer who was in charge of the operation;

b) undertake not to further interfere with lawyers carrying out their duties;

c) immediately stop the unjust practice of re-arresting under preventive detention laws persons released by court;

d) issue a public apology to all concerned;

e) undertake to respect the right of the Malaysian public for unimpeded and free access to lawyers at all times.

A MEMORANDUM OF PROTEST

MAKING THESE DEMANDS WILL BE DELIVERED AS FOLLOWS:

———————————
BUKIT AMAN (LAKE GARDEN ENTRANCE)
31 MARCH 2010 (WEDNESDAY)

12PM

All lawyers and concerned citizens are welcome to join!

Issued by,

N.Surendran 012-3207066

Latheefa Koya 012-3842972

Postscript

Dear fellow members of the Bar,

This mistreatment of Amer is a continuation of a long standing series of events and acts by the police that have failed to appreciate the role of the legal profession. The arrests of 5 legal aiders last year, the persistent denial of the right to counsel – section 28A of the CPC and Article 5 of the FC etc. The Bar had came out with strong resolutions on the arrest of the 5 lawyers, but unfortunately it remained a resolution without any outcome.

We must walk again. Today it might be Comrade Amer, we don’t know whose turn it will be next… It may be you.

It will be a hot day; please bring your sunglasses, hats, and umbrellas and of course your courage!

-Latheefa Koya

Images from outside the Perak State Assembly

Scenes from before the opening ceremony of the new sitting of the Perak State Assembly yesterday and the Pakatan assembly members’ press conference immediately after.


Photos by Jong

Protest on Weds: Lawyer assaulted & arrested by cops while attempting to defend client against detention w/o trial

by Nathaniel Tan

Two events coming up. One is Norizan’s Salleh’s latest attempt to get justice, by delivering a memo to the Home Minister on Thursday (April 1st) at Parliament, 11.30am.

The other big one involves once again the maltreatment of lawyers who are just trying to do their job. This particular case involves comrade Amer Hamzah, who helped quite a bit in the aftermath of my own arrest.

He was assaulted and briefly arrested while attempting to defend his client, actor Benjy (that case in the news), who was rearrested under the Dangerous Drugs Act (which like the ISA and EO allows for indefinite detention without trial) immediately after being released by the court – once again displaying a travesty of justice.

I’m going to try my best to attend. When the rest of us find ourselves arrested and intimidated by cops, these lawyers are our first – often only – line of defense. They’ve stood up for us countless times, and we ought to do the same.

LAWYERS TO DELIVER MEMO OF PROTEST TO IGP
( BUKIT AMAN, WED 31ST MARCH 12.00pm)

Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad manhandled and briefly arrested by police outside court

1. On 25th March 2010 Amer Hamzah had obtained his client Khaeryll Benjamin Ibrahim@ Benjy’s release on bail on a charge of drug possesssion at the Jln Duta courts.

2. Near the bail processing counter, about 10 policemen suddenly converged on Amer and his client and ordered the client to go with them. Present were the client’s mother Azean Irdawaty, pupil Sharon Khoo and some family members.

3. The policemen were in plainclothes, and Amer demanded their identity and police card. A police inspector claimed that it was an arrest under the Dangerous Drugs ( Special Preventive Measures) Act i.e: detention without trial.

4. At this point, Amer was assaulted and briefly arrested. Two policemen grabbed Amer and held him back with force. Amer protested his treatment, and repeatedly asked the police not to touch him. Eventually Amer was released as his client was bundled away.

Our Protest

The unlawful, oppressive and arbitrary actions of the police on 25th March are a gross interference with a lawyer carrying out his duty to his client. Amer was discharging his duties in the best traditions of the Malaysian Bar, when he sought explanation from the police as to why his client was being arrested. Despite being surrounded by police, he continued to speak out for his client,as he was bound to do.The aggressive and unlawful response of the police is a reflection of the general arrogance and lack of respect for the rule of law widely displayed by the police force. The matter is aggravated by the fact that Amer’s client was being arrested under an oppressive and unconstitutional preventive detention law. The Malaysian Bar has forcefully and repeatedly called for the repeal of all preventive detention laws. The re-arrest of Benjy immediately after his release by the court is also a flagrant contempt of judicial authority. The Inspector General of Police must:

a) take stern action against the policemen who assaulted Amer Hamzah Arshad and the officer who was in charge of the operation;

b) undertake not to further interfere with lawyers carrying out their duties;

c) immediately stop the unjust practice of re-arresting under preventive detention laws persons released by court;

d) issue a public apology to all concerned;

e) undertake to respect the right of the Malaysian public for unimpeded and free access to lawyers at all times.

A MEMORANDUM OF PROTEST MAKING THESE DEMANDS WILL BE DELIVERED AS FOLLOWS:

ALL LAWYERS AND CONCERNED CITIZENS ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND!

Anwar produces documents on Apco-Israeli-1Malaysia link

Khairy dakwa tokoh Apco sahabat Anwar juga

HRP’s stand on the Hulu Selangor by-elections

HRP LOGO

There has been much speculation in the last few days about what HRP will do in the upcoming by-election in Hulu Selangor. The Central Committee of HRP after due deliberation based on its analysis of the situation has made its decision. The decision has been guided by the principle of “ increased true representation” for the Indian poor and not by any considerations of expediency or of personal gain.

Both the PR and the BN government have yet to clearly show in their policies any real consideration for the problems of the Indian poor. We consider therefore that neither of them make a difference to the lives of the Indian poor. HRP’s objective is to change all of that, so there will be more political will in the system to positively address these issues. We believe this is possible only when there is increased true representation for the Indian poor.

In this by election the size of the primary constituency of HRP is not large enough yet, for an outright win for HRP. HRP participation in the elections would therefore only mean delivering advantage to PR or BN in default. We do not want to give any advantage to either coalition as they do not deserve it.

We do not need, either to test our strength on the ground or to demonstrate our political potential. We know our strength from the groundswell of inputs we are getting from our supporters and well wishers across the country to contest, no matter. And we know we are a rising force in the Malaysian Political landscape. We are not in a hurry.

Our aim in any participation in elections for the legislatures, is to increase true representation in the halls of power. We will go in when we do see, that we will be able to achieve that objective clearly, but not otherwise. That is what the Indian poor require – more real representation and not dog and pony shows.

We will continue to focus per our resources and efforts on our political empowerment strategy for Indians as laid out by P.Uthayakumar, to capture 15 Parliament seats and 38 State seats in the 13th GE. That is the only way we can increase real representation and the political will in the system to develop and implement policies that will help the Indian poor break from the trap of poverty and oppression.

In this by-election in Hulu Selangor therefore, our stand is that we will not contest in the elections. We will neither endorse anyone who contests in this elections. We will remain completely neutral . We will let the people of Hulu Selangor decide for themselves who they prefer among the lesser of the choices. We are very clear about all of that.

We hope this statement clarifies not only our position in this by-election but also about the manner we make decisions of political significance in the interest of the people we lead.

P.Uthayakumar

Pro-tem Secretary General of the Human Rights Party of Malaysia

29th March 2010

UMNO’s job to provide library for poor Indians, not Hindu temples by MIC mandores

My Tuition programmes (UM 29/3/2010, posted earlier in this website) with IT facilities are built in Malay neighbourhoods. Similarly build are the Tadika, Tabika, Permata Kindergartens and Libraries. UMNO has allocated RM60 million for broadband boost for 615,000 (Malays) in 264 locations nationwide also in primarily Malay neighbourhoods.

But UMNO gets their Indian Mandore Deputy Minister to push the buck back to the 70% low earning, poor and hardcore poor Indian community. This mandore now does a perfect job by using the tamil newspapers to divert attention away from the UMNO led Malay-sian government and back to the Indian community. The distraction being the dictionaries and library.

P.Uthayakumar

Tamil school children

UMNOs’ job to provide library for  poor Indians,

Selangor PKR Exco Mandore’s ala MIC propaganda of 70 land titles for Hindu temples

In a Malaysiakini interview last week this PKR Indian Exco Mandore’s statement for a PKR Indian candidate for Hulu Selangor his words were “PKR’s is a non racist but a multiracial agenda”.

But when it comes to cheating the Selangor Indians with illusions of kosong politics and wayang kulit this PKR Indian Exco mandore is given the charge by Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and Anwar Ibrahim. Why not a Malay PKR leader do these wayang kulit announcements as PKR is multi-racial party? This is what we mean by Mandorism. They get an Indian to deal with in Indian issues.

This PKR Indian Exco mandore said 70 hindu temples were given land in Selangor in 2009. But where is the black and white letter under the Selangor state government letterhead, let alone the freehold land title to these Hindu temples or made public at least to the said Tamil newspaper where reporters who could verify and confirm the same. This is what we mean by kosong promises – wayang kulit shows! Something MIC had perfected. (refer MO 26/3/2010 at page 8)

Even this Selayang Sri Ramar Hindu Temple which was given a mere mock cheque of RM50,000 has not been granted the freehold land title this temple is sitting on.

We expect a heightened and accelerated wayang kulit illusions in the run up to the Hulu Selangor by elections through their Indian EXCO, MPs’ and ADUN mandores, but never by their Malay and Chinese representatives.

Karunai Nithi

Xavier jayakumar

S’ngor PKR Exco Mandore’s ala MIC propaganda

UMNO’s My Tuition innovation to eradicate Malay poverty – why not also Indian poverty?

The eradication of poverty sees no colour in any other part of the world except in UMNO Prime Minister Najib Razak’s One Malay-sia.

In this latest My Tuition innovation to eradicate poverty was launched by UMNO Deputy Prime Minister in August 2007 for the poor (Malays) who cannot afford to pay for their tuition fees. But we are yet to hear of a single Indian who has benefitted from this My Tuition Programme.

This My Tuition programme uses Information Technology, interactive multi-media and Internet for free of charge and open from 10.00am to 10.00pm. The focus of this My Tuition programme is on Mathematics, Science, English and Malay from standard one right up to Form Five.

But these My Tuition centres only serves the Malay Muslim poor in Bukit Antarabangsa, Kampung Kerinchi, etc., – all malay areas, and excludes the poor Indians. Why not also in the poor Indian neighbourhoods of Brickfields, Kg Medan and Sentul for example? Why this level of UMNO’s racism, religious extremism and supremacy, which does not happen in any other part of world?

And the pin drop silence on this form of racism and ethnic exclusion by the Opposition parties, supposedly multi-racial PKR, DAP and PAS! Or no corrective similar affirmative action programmes for all the poor including the poor Indians in the PR ruled states of Selangor, Penang and Kedah. At least some of the injustices by UMNO’s 53 year rule by racism can be undone by PKR, DAP and PAS!

We had reported last week that 90% of the Tamil school children who enter standard one cannot read or write as they never even went to kindergarden because they could not afford it ie. poverty related. But neither UMNO nor PKR, DAP or PAS cares! Why? The victims are merely Indians.

But neither the multi-racial Champions (only in theory) Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng or Hadi Awang would address this tip of the iceberg UMNO’s racist rule as the victims are merely the soft target Indians who have no or very little political power.

Our way forward is the political empowerment strategy, the way forward.

Karunai Nithi @ Compassionate justice

My Tuition

My  Tuition 1My Tuition 2My Tuition 3My Tuition 4

Swami Nityananda quits as head of his ashram, its trusts

The Times of India

Swami-Paramahams-Nityananda-at-Kumbh_Mela_2007_USA.jpg

Nithyananda resigns as Dhyanapeetam head

BANGALORE: Self-styled godman Swami Nityananda, who was purportedly caught in sleazy video footage, on Tuesday announced his decision to resign as head of his Dhyanapeetam ashram and from all trusts associated with it, living a life of "spiritual seclusion" for an indefinite time.

"I have decided to live a life of spiritual seclusion, for some indefinite time....and to enable the Dhyanapeetam to function with such amended agenda as may be necessary, I am resigning as the head of the Dhyanapeetam and from all the trusts associated with it," he said addressing his followers on his official website.

"In view of the developments in the last three weeks following the media reports about me as the head of Dhyanapeetam, (located at Bidadi near Bangalore), I had met some of the leading acharyas of Hindu Dharma at Haridwar Kumbh Mela," Nityananda, facing criminal cases, including that of rape, said.

He said he had briefed them about what was fact and what was fiction. "Candidly discussing what had happened, I had sought their spiritual and moral support, guidance for me, and their views on the future course of Dhyanapeetam."

"I had also undertaken that I would act entirely in accordance with their counsel," the swami, whose purported sleazy acts in company of a Tamil actress were aired by TV channels on March 3, said in the message, also telecast on Youtube.

"I have decided to live a life of spiritual seclusion, for some indefinite time, to which the acharyas have agreed in principle," said the swami, whose plea for anticipatory bail and quashing of the cases against him has been turned down by the Karnatka High Court.

"In view of this, and to enable the Dhyanapeetam to function with such amended agenda as may be necessary, I am resigning as the head of the Dhyanapeetam," the 32-year old Nityananda said.

"A board of trustees consisting of sadhakas of Dhyanapeetam who are non-controversial, will henceforth manage Dhyanapeetam," he said.

Urging his devotees to continue on the path of spiritualism, he said, "Whenever if required I will return and talk about all that had happened as an independent witness to my conduct with a clean heart and clean soul and also in a less prejudiced atmosphere."

The swami, whose whereabouts are not known, has claimed that the images in the video have been morphed and he had not done anything illegal.

In his petition in the high court, he alleged that one of his former disciples and driver Kurup Lenin (who he has claimed to have leaked the sleaze video) conspired to defame him and his ashram by levelling such charges against him.

The court termed as "unfounded" Nityananda's apprehension that he could be arrested and directed him to approach the proper forum to seek bail.

Karnataka CID police had on Monday sought information from "victims" of the godman against whom it has launched a probe.

Nityananda has been booked under various sections of IPC relating to deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religious beliefs, rape, unnatural sex, cheating, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy.

APCO denies Anwar’s Israeli claim

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — International communications consultancy APCO Worldwide today reiterated that it neither worked with the Israeli government nor helped to create the 1 Malaysia concept as claimed by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“The allegations repeated against APCO Worldwide this morning in the Malaysian Parliament are false. APCO Worldwide is not working for the government of Israel. We did not devise the 1 Malaysia concept,” it said in a statement issued to Bernama here.

APCO Worldwide had also refuted on March 18 a similar allegation by Anwar.

Today in the Dewan Rakyat, Anwar called on the government to withdraw its contract with APCO Worldwide and set up a royal commission to inquire into the firm, alleging that it posed a risk to national security.

Anwar had raised the issue of APCO Worldwide when providing an explanation in the Dewan Rakyat following a suggestion by Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan (BN-Kota Belud) for him to be referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee for having alleged that the 1 Malaysia concept had been copied from the “One Israel” slogan that he linked to APCO Worldwide.

APCO Worldwide said: “In our work as communications consultants, we are not involved in policy formation but in the presentation of information the government intends to share with the public.

“We work for governments that are prepared to take our counsel on transparency, democracy and the rule of law. We are honoured to continue our work with the government of Malaysia.” — Bernama

NEM shifts from Bumi equity to participation

By Lee Wei Lian - The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — The New Economic Model will not have any targets for Bumiputera equity but will stress Bumiputera entrepreneurship, said National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC) chairman Tan Sri Amirsham Aziz today.

He said the NEAC recommendation was for the government tender system to be made more transparent but restrict relatively minor contracts to small Bumiputera contractors.

“We have no targets for Bumiputera equity in the NEM,” said Amirsham (picture) in a discussion with the media on the sidelines of the Invest Malaysia conference today.

“Some categories of tenders would exclude others, but we leave it to the government. But we are not talking about RM2 billion contracts.

“There is the objective of increasing Bumiputera entrepreneurship. We’re not talking about (restricting tenders) for big giants but reserving it only for a certain category of people. I think there is a need to tamper with government procurement.”

He added that it could be possible that an online system be implemented so that the public could check on which companies had the winning bids.

He also questioned the need for special discounts to Bumiputeras for million-ringgit homes but said that there was nothing wrong with discounts for low-wage earners.

“The spirit is helping the bottom 40 per cent improve their lives,” he said.

He said the NEAC was looking at the possibility of an anti-discrimination body but nothing was concrete.

“We’re looking at it. One of the things to take into account is to ensure fairness in competition and for the private sector to have fair access,” he said.

He added that there could be further allocation of funds to help Bumiputera entrepreneurs but said it would likely be through existing institutions and not in the form of a special bank for Bumiputeras as lobbied by right-wing Malay NGO Perkasa.

Quah said the NEM would stress skills training of low-income earners.

Asked about the NEM’s impact on the budget deficit, Amirsham said that they have not done calculations on the impact yet but one possible way to mitigate the fiscal impact would be to take out general subsidies and offer them only to the “right target groups”.

Another NEAC council member, London School of Economics Professor Danny Quah, said the NEM would stress skills training of low-income earners to boost their earning power, possibly through the establishment of a transformation fund.

“We help by growing capacity but eschewing fixed targets (for the low-income earners),” said Quah in a separate discussion with the media.

PR, dual citizenship to attract talent, urges industry chief

By Neville Spykerman - The Malaysian Insider

Wong charged that up to 40 per cent of school leavers were not “industry ready”. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Malaysia must consider using permanent residency (PR) and dual citizenship as a competitive strategy to attract talent from abroad, while working on retaining local talent from leaving.

Malaysian American Electronics Industry (MAEI) chairman Datuk Wong Siew Hai today pointed out the policy was already being used by Malaysia’s neighbours, including Singapore, Japan and China.

“It should be a strategy that must be implemented promptly,” he told the Invest Malaysia conference in a discussion entitled, “Attracting Private Investment Towards a High Income Economy Based on Talent, Innovation and Creativity.”

He cited examples of engineers from India working in the country for just a few years, before the Immigration Department started questioning why their jobs could not be done by locals.

“I recommend a transparent system, just like every other country, where there is clear criteria on how to become a PR.”

He said the government could set annual quotas or limits — based on sectors — if there were concerns over the displacement of locals.

However, he argued allowing foreign talent in would create more jobs in the long run, and cited the US’ policy of attracting the best and brightest.

At the same time, he said Malaysia needs to address the problem of the brain drain affecting the country.

He pointed out a rigid workplace may not be conducive to the “Generation Y” workers.

“We need to figure out how to retain them instead of letting them go.”

Wong pointed out that many Fortune 500 companies were growing in Malaysia and needed workers.

“Every year there are 500,000 school leavers, but industries are still short (of manpower). Where are these workers?” he asked, before adding that the problem was acute and required a solution urgently.

On the tertiary front, Wong said that up to 40 per cent of local graduates were not “industry ready”.

He proposed the government sets aside up to RM2 billion to help these graduates acquire the necessary skills while also addressing the problem at universities, claiming that such a move would send the right message to investors and help attract more investments.

“Investors will be assured the problem is being addressed.” he concluded.