Share |

Monday, June 7, 2010

Kapar MP satisfied with Selcat's findings

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Kapar MP S Manikavasagam is satisfied with the conclusions drawn by the Select Committee on Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) from its recent three-day public inquiry on allegations of graft in the Selangor sand mining industry.

At the end of the third day and final last Friday, Selcat declared that Selangor-owned sand mining industry Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB) is riddled with mismanagement and loopholes in its administrative system. However, it didn't find any evidence of graft as alleged by Manikavasagam.

“I'm still happy with the outcome of the inquiry,” Manikavasagam told FMT today. “There is clear mismanagement in KSSB and at least Selcat addressed that. This is a positive step forward.”

He also threw his support behind Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, saying that he would provide his full cooperation if Khalid decides to pursue investigations further.

Khalid today said that he would leave it up to KSSB's board of directors to decide on a management reshuffle within the company.

Manikavasagam, however, voiced his disappointment over his testimony proceedings on Friday.

“I'm unhappy that Selcat didn't allow all my witnesses to testify,” he said. “I had strong evidence and I was prevented from presenting. Furthermore, I was only given 10 minutes to speak compared with hours allocated to KSSB officials. That is why I lost my temper.”

The Kapar MP who initially cited Parliamentary practices as a reason for not testifying, took the witness stand armed with new evidence and witnesses.

However, Selcat ruled that none of it could be accepted as it wasn't submitted according to procedure. A frustrated Manikavasagam told Selcat not to cover up the scandal before he left the hall.

“But the MACC is still investigating the matter and I have already submitted all my new evidence and witness details to it,” he said. “So we'll just have to wait for its findings.”

Manikavasagam also reiterated his intention behind his allegations was done in good faith.

“I didn't do this to tarnish the Selangor government or the MB's reputation,” he said. “I just want to uphold transparency. And I am definitely not jumping ship no matter what people say.”

Mugilan slams MIC leaders for linking MCA over GAS

By B Nantha Kumar - Free Malaysia Today
KUALA LUMPUR: Former deputy MIC Youth chief V Mugilan, who was sacked from the party for being “disloyal”, today slammed MIC leaders for, first, linking Umno and now MCA to his Gerakan Anti-SamyVellu (GAS) movement.

“It is stupid to point fingers and blame others for decisions that GAS takes.

“Dragging first Umno and now MCA into GAS public rally simply shows that Samy Vellu's group is under a lot of pressure,” said Mugilan referring to a weekend FMT report which said MIC was angry with MCA-owned The Star publications for playing up stories on Mugilan and GAS.

The report, quoting a top-level MIC source, said the party would urge the Indian community to boycott The Star.

Said Mugilan: “Once before they claimed Umno helped us [GAS]. Now they are saying MCA is on our side… tomorrow they may even claim that Tok Guru (PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat) is behind us.

“These people are totally mad. Do they even know what they are saying?

“Tamil Nesan has a 10,000 daily circulation whereas Star has 400,000. It is a huge difference.

“It won’t cause even the slightest dent if Samy Vellu’s group of people stop reading The Star newspaper.”

Mugilan threatens to sue Tamil Nesan

On another matter, Mugilan is planning to sue Tamil language daily, Tamil Nesan, over a front-page notice which alleged that he was anti-MIC.

Mugilan, who founded GAS, said he would also act against the newspaper over a crossed-out photo-strip of sacked MIC central working committee (CWC) members and several eminent former officials who were once supporters of S Samy Vellu.

“For the record, GAS was against Samy Vellu as president of MIC, not the party itself. Tamil Nesan has been describing Samy Vellu as MIC and MIC as Samy Vellu. This is wrong!” he said.

Reiterating that he was “not anti-MIC”, and he “loved” the party, he accused the paper, which is owned by Samy Vellu’s family, of deliberately discrediting him among the Indian community.

“We [GAS] have explained many times that it is not against the party but the ‘old man’.

“But the paper refuses to look at the real issue,” he said, adding that despite the newspaper’s attempt to snuff out GAS, support for the movement was increasing rapidly.

The notice which had been appearing daily since late last week under the title “Anti-MIC Group” featured crossed-out photographs of former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam, CWC members KP Samy, G Kumar Amman, former MIED chief executive officer V Chithrakala and former Petaling Jaya division chief V Subramainiam (Barat Maniam).

Others in the photo-strip were former veteran MIC veteran K Govindasamy, Mugilan, OMS Thilagarajan and former MIC president V Manikavasgam’s brother VL Kanthan.

The notice alleged that they were all not only anti-MIC but also against Umno and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Anwar wants lawyer present at Apco 'trial'

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today,

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has formally requested for his lawyer's presence when facing the Parliamentary Privileges and Rights Committee tomorrow.

The opposition leader has also requested that he be allowed to list down witnesses to be called for his hearing.

Anwar was referred to the committee for linking Apco Worldwide, the PR company hired by the Najib administration to promote his all-inclusive 1 Malaysia idea, to Israel.

Anwar said he is ready to give full his cooperation to the committee but made several requests in a bid to ensure that his hearing is fair and transparent.

Among the requests, apart from the aforementioned, are that the proceeding be held openly and is a public hearing in nature.

He also wants the committee to provide a list of witnesses it will call to testify against him.

Apco denial means Anwar lied?

The motion to refer him to the committee was made by Kota Belud MP, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who accused Anwar of misleading the House when he raised the APCO issue in Parliament in the March sitting.

1 Malaysia was linked to 1 Israel by Anwar who said the latter concept was used as election campaign in the early 1990s for then Israeli premier Ehud Barak.

Abdul Rahman reasoned the denial issued by Apco that it had created Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's 1 Malaysia clarion call showed Anwar had intentionally misled Parliament.

Sabah village chief sacked for questioning dam project

By Charlie Rudai - Free Malaysia Today

KOTA BELUD: Singkui Tinggi thought he was only doing his job as a village head when he appealed to the state government to reconsider the proposed Sungai Kadamaian dam project in the interest of more than 800 villagers in Kampung Tambatuon.

But for speaking up, he paid a price – he received a one-month termination notice from the Local Government and Housing Ministry. He has had held the post for the past 28 years.

Singkui, 78, said the villagers were hoping that the construction of the proposed dam would be deferred to save their 300-year-old village from being submerged in water.

In his statement in March, Singkui had said that as voters and staunch supporters of the government, the people in Kampung Tambatuon believed that the government will protect their welfare and future.

He said that even though they were paid compensation for the loss of their properties and land, it would not be able to guarantee their future.

The letter, dated April 16, 2010, and signed by Awang Sharin Alimin on behalf of the ministry’s permanent secretary, however, did not state the reason for Singkui’s termination.

Last Saturday, Singkui received a pleasant surprise when almost the entire top leadership of the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) led by president Yong Teck Lee came to the village to personally listen to the villagers in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu.

Also in the delegation were SAPP adviser Paul Wong; former Sabah finance minister Mohamad Noor Mansor; deputy presidents Eric Majimbun and Liew TecK Chan; Wanita chief Melanie Chia; Youth chief Edward Dagul; information chief Chong Pit Fah; and SAPP Kota Belud CLC chief Agnes Liew.

Laudable act

Earlier, Yong and the other SAPP leaders met with the people as they walked around the village before proceeding to see the Tambatuon bombon at the nearby Sungai Kadamaian.

Acknowledging Singkui's leadership, Yong praised Singkui for having the courage to tell the government that something was not right even if it would cost him his job.

“This is the weakness of Sabah people: they will back out the moment they are threatened,” he said.

"Even the elected representatives or ministers from Sabah are afraid to talk openly about issues affecting the people because they are scared of losing their positions."

Yong, a former chief minister, lauded the spirit shown by Singkui in fighting for the rights of the villagers and speaking up for them.

"It is commendable and should be emulated by the people of Sabah. To me, you are still the ketua kampung (village head),” he told Singkui.

He said SAPP was proud to champion Singkui's and the villagers' cause in calling for the government to relocate the project.

“We are here because of the failure of the Kota Belud MP [Abdul Rahman Dahlan] and Kadamaian assemblyman [Herbert Timbon Lagadan]. If they had listened to what the village chief had to say, it (the issue) would already have been resolved,” said Yong.

He also questioned the government's decision to go ahead with its plan to destroy the picturesque Kampung Tambatuon.

“To us, this place is like a paradise,” he said.

The proposed mega project, Yong said, involved the construction of a 340-m high dam that will cost billions of ringgit.

He added that being a mega project, it requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. For the report to be approved, it must comply with several requirements, one of which is to listen to the views of the local people.

“But what we are seeing here today is the style of the government which will simply remove those who disagree,” he said.

Yong promised that this would not happen when SAPP forms the government.

“This is not an election promise but this is our stand because SAPP is a people’s party,” he added.

He said if the current elected representatives here had done their work, it would have been unnecessary for SAPP to come to Tambatuon.

'A secret project'

Meanwhile, Singkui said the authorities seemed to be trying to keep the project a secret. "The people were never informed about it. Even the workers doing the soil testing in the village did so discreetly.

“I urge Herbert to stop trying to persuade the villagers [to change their mind] by taking them on a fully-sponsored trip to Batang Ai [Sarawak] to purportedly show the way the people there live after relocation.

“If he has the money to pay for the trip, it would be better if he donates it for the construction of the pastor’s house in the village,” said SIngkui.

On the shrinking land for the villagers to develop as they were told that it is bordering the national parks as well as within a water catchment area, Yong said the laws for national parks are tighter than the laws on forest reserves.

He said villages are allowed within the forest reserves like in the Sabah forest industry concession area and in Tongod since these villages had been there before the area was gazetted as a forest reserve.

However, Yong said that in the past five years he had heard cases of kampung houses being burnt down and villagers being chased out (of the forest reserves).

He cited the treatment meted out to villagers near Mount Pock, Semporna, who were driven out of the 2,000-hectare area in the forest reserve

The government then tabled a Bill in the State Legislative Assembly to alienate these areas and give it to a company for plantation development, he said.

“What is this? If it is a water catchment area, then just let it be a water catchment area.

"This is the priority of the SAPP land reformation committee -- to return the land to the kampung people,” he said, adding that the committee would also be looking at all pending land applications before 1990s.

“If the dam is built, this will surely lead to the downfall of the BN not only in Tambatuon but also in Kota Belud and the whole of Sabah,” he said.

Yong said SAPP is proposing small hydro-power plants as an alternative for generating renewable energy and this would be adopted as a party policy.

Instead of building one large hydro-power plant, he said several small hydro-power plants with a generating capacity of up to 10MW could be installed along the rivers.

He said one major advantage of these plants is that it would not cause damage to the environment.

“Forests won't be submerged, reservoirs won't face siltation, people won't be relocated...” he said, adding that small dams will also serve as a flood-control mechanism.

Besides, they can be integrated into the existing irrigation system apart from being a clean source of energy, he added.

Such a concept had been implemented successfully in countries like China, Guyana, India and South Africa, he said.

Yong and his party later attended the SAPP Kadamaian Pesta Kaamatan 2010 celebration at Kampung Bundu Paka.

Chinese manufacturers face labor upheaval

Worker disputes are on the rise in China, putting the squeeze on Chinese manufacturers who built their business on the back of its massive low-cost labor force.
Worker disputes are on the rise in China, putting the squeeze on Chinese manufacturers who built their business on the back of its massive low-cost labor force.
Foshan, China (CNN) -- Zhang Xinquan has to learn how to do business again. As a top manager in a major leather and shoe business, he built his career turning profits in booming China. But these profits are now getting harder to come by.

"Prices in the U.S. and European markets are down," Zhang told CNN, "prices of raw materials and labor are growing, therefore we can't increase salaries, and margins are shrinking."

A sea change is happening in the Chinese manufacturing world. China, which built its economy on the back of its massive low-cost labor force, is now seeing an increase in labor disputes as workers demand higher wages and better work conditions.

That is especially true in the province of Guangdong in southeastern China. Just across the border from Hong Kong, the area was ground zero for the country's economic explosion when it first opened to the West in 1980.

But recent events show the growing pains of the region as its manufacturing base matures. Electronics manufacturer Foxconn -- which builds products for Apple, Dell and Sony -- recently promised 30 percent pay increases to employees after a string of worker suicides at its factories in Shenzhen. Honda offered a 24 percent pay increase last week for workers at a components factory in Foshan after a strike there ground the firm's supply chain to a halt.

Zhang has witnessed firsthand the labor changes in Foshan. His company, Jiaofu Leather Products, has had to pay wages 15 to 20 percent higher since the start of the year; he also pays more for raw materials and charges less for the goods he sells to stay competitive. Salaries are 70 percent of his production costs.
Stiff competition makes filling vacancies a challenge. His company, Jiaofu Leather Products, has not had problems with production so far, but the risk grows. The industrial plant CNN visited in Foshan, a factory town close to Hong Kong, is normally staffed by 6,000 to 7,000 people, according to Zhang. Now he is managing production with 2,000 workers.

Increased shipments abroad are only part of the greater demand Chinese industries are facing. Local demand for workers has also increased.

"Right now, domestic demand is high and it's difficult to find workers outside of their hometowns," Zhang said.

Zhang offers workers around $300 a month, plus accommodation and other benefits. He said factories are paying $180 a month in inland provinces, and workers prefer to stay close to home despite earning 40 percent less.

"The labor market (in China) is composed of people who move from inland areas to industrialized parts along the coast," said Joan Brugués, who manages many industrial companies in southern China through GChina, an investment fund.

Traditionally, this internal migration has supplied coastal industrial areas like Foshan, but the $585 billion economic stimulus package China unveiled during the economic crisis has increased job opportunities in inland areas.

While this has proved beneficial for China's total economy -- which grew faster than expected by analysts at 11.9 percent during the first quarter, compared with the same period last year -- it is becoming difficult for coastal businesses to attract and retain labor.

"Here, in Guangdong province, there has been an increase in the minimum wage," Brugués said.

Minimum wages have gone up to $955 a month for the city of Guangzhou and $612 for smaller cities in the province, according to official data. This translated into an increase of about 20 percent, compared with the previous minimum wage. These increases entered into effect on May 1, but it will take some time for businessmen to adjust to the new law.

Meanwhile, Zhang hopes the worker shortage will be over soon. "During this time we have to act like the snake, hibernating," he said.

PM tables motion to debate on Israeli flotilla raid

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak tabled in Parliament today a motion to debate the bloody Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla.
The motion contains a 15-point resolution which includes demanding a strong United Nations Security Council censure on Israel.

The global body had only issued a mild statement amid strong worldwide condemnation on the raid, merely saying it regretted the siege which ended in the death of nine activists and left scores injured.

Selangor mufti: No compromise on gambling

SHAH ALAM: Selangor mufti Sahibus Samahn Mohd Tamyes has issued an edict that Muslims who approved gambling were committing a crime against religion and their peers.
He said there was no logic or plausible reason to allow widespread gambling because all quarters agree that gambling brought decay, even if the profits from the vice was used for charity.
Sahibus was commenting on Berjaya Corporation Group (BCG) tycoon Vincent Tan’s announcement that he will be donating RM525 million from the sale of his personal stake in Ascot Sports, the company awarded the sports betting license.
Tan’s announcement on Saturday came in the wake of immense public pressure on the federal government to revoke the license.
“There can be no compromise. Gambling is wrong and a crime against religion and other Muslims. There is no redemption even if the profits from gambling is used for development,” said Tamyes.
“They should not have legalised gambling. Muslims must reject altogether the move.”
In his press conference on Saturday, tycoon Tan had also urged the Selangor and Penang state governments to rescind their decisions to ban sports betting in their respective states.
Both Penang and Selangor have invoked state laws to ban betting.
Selangor said that while the federal government could issue gambling licenses, permits for premises to operate betting stations came under state purview.
Penang had in an immediate reaction yesterday said it would not revoke the ban despite being told by a deputy finance minister that the ban was illegal.
"We had sent a letter to the company stating our decision and we will still stand by our decision to ban them (the company) from opening betting outlets in the state," said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guang Eng.

'Umno's outpouring of concern for Palestinians is a pretence'

By FMT Staff
SHAH ALAM: A 1994 amendment to the law allowing imports of goods and services from Isreal and South Africa remains in effect and nullifies any 'humane' act by the Umno-BN government in the Palestinian struggle, said PKR supreme council member Badrul Hisham Shaharin.
He said despite several calls over the years for the government to impose sanctions against Isreal nothing had been done.
“All this is a pretence. It is a publicity stunt by the Umno-Barisan Nasional government to show that they care about the Palestinian struggle and the oppression of the Muslims.
“The truth is Malaysia and Israel have firm economic ties. If they really cared, the government would cut all ties with the regime.
“But as we know this won’t happen. Umno-BN leaders are selfish. Their self-interest supersedes their humanness," he said.
Badrul said former Prime Minister Dr Mahathair Mohamad had in 1994 amended the law and legalised imports from Israel and South Africa.
“The amendments were tabled in parliament and approved in 1994. It is in effect until today. Malaysia is a big contributor to Israeli economy.
“For instance in Nilai (Negeri Sembilan) a big piece of land owned by Tabung Haji has been given to beverage company Coca Cola.
“We all know that Coca Cola is a direct contributor to the Zionist regime’s weapons purchases programme," he said.
US urged to cut military support
Calls for the government to cease all links with Israel came to a head when more than 10,000 Malaysians rallied in front of the US embassy last Friday urging America to take stern action against Israel for its attack on a six-vessel aid-bearing convoy to Gaza.
Last Monday, Israeli marine commandoes attacked the convoy ferrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Gaza. They stormed the ship on international waters, triggering a global outcry on the legality of the its actions.
Nine volunteers on board the Mavi Marmara were killed in the attack.
Bowing to public pressure, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has called for an emergency parliamentary session to be convened today to discuss the attack.
Meanwhile, opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat, following a round table discussion involving 60 NGOs, have classified the attack as 'murder' and is demanding the government do everything possible to refer Isreal to the international criminal tribunal at the Hague.

Don't let Israeli condemnation be a mere PR exercise

By Charles Santiago - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT Despite growing international condemnation against Israel for its brutal attack on an aid flotilla, the Israeli forces have again seized the last Gaza-bound aid vessel.The Rachel Corrie was carrying 11 pro-Palestine activists, nine crew members and hundreds of tons of aid when it was hijacked in international waters, days after a similar attack turned bloody.
This shows that Israel is becoming dangerously erratic.
We need stern action taken against Israel, which has continuously demonstrated that it is a rogue state. The United Nations Security Council has condemned Isreal's attack but stopped short of calling for an independent investigation following US objections.
Touching on the blockaded Gaza strip, President Barack Obama has called the current restrictions "unsustainable". He has clearly chosen his words carefully.
Let's look at whom the Obama administration is protecting at all cost.
According to the UK-based Guardian newspaper, the autopsy results on the bodies of those killed on board the Mavi Marmara revealed they were repeatedly shot at with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range.
It also reported that nine Turkish men were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice.
The results also revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back.
A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.
The Guardian also quoted Ismail Patel, the chairman of Leicester-based pro-Palestinian group Friends of al-Aqsa, who returned to Britain, who has claimed that Israel had operated a "shoot to kill policy" after witnessing some of the fatal shootings.
According to him, apart from the fatally wounded, 48 others were suffering from gunshot wounds and six activists remained missing, suggesting the death toll may increase.
Stop Israel
The Rachel Corrie, named in the honor of the American activist who was crushed under an Israeli bulldozer driven by the Israeli Defense Forces in 2003, was hoping to end the three-year blockade imposed on the Gaza strip as it has plunged 1.5 million people into abject poverty.
Reporters and eye-witness accounts have revealed children scavenging for food on the streets and hospitals turning away the terminally ill for lack of medical supplies and hospital beds.
The Israeli government has only allowed a trickle of food, medicine and fuel to keep the civilian population hungry and suppressed.
We have heard governments mounting pressure on Israel to lift the restrictions, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has justified the blockade by saying it prevents the militants groups from getting weapons.
The Israeli government has not just shown complete disdain for international law but also cares two hoots about diplomatic niceties. And uses clever spin-doctoring to twist the truth.
Therefore mounting pressure on Israel is not enough. The United Nations Security Council must start an independent inquiry into the attacks on the aid flotilla. Obama's government, on the other hand, must immediately suspend all military and economic aid to Israel.
On the home front, the Najib government must sever ties with Apco Worldwide which has clear links with Israel.
It would certainly be shameful to discuss the Israeli aggression, while Apco Worldwide remains the public relations company for the government.
We had a parliamentary sitting during the recent Gaza invasion under the leadership of then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Nothing came out of the meeting.
Let's hope that Monday's sitting (to condemn the recent attacks) would not be another public-relations exercise.
Charles Santiago is DAP's Klang MP.

Kill a Turk and rest

As our governments have always done, when faced with the choice between several bad alternatives, the Netanyahu government chose the worst. Anyone who followed the preparations as reported in the media could have foreseen that they would lead to people being killed and injured. One does not storm a Turkish ship and expect cute little girls to present one with flowers. The Turks are not known as people who give in easily.

By Uri Avnery

On the high seas, outside territorial waters, the ship was stopped by the navy. The commandos stormed it. Hundreds of people on the deck resisted, the soldiers used force. Some of the passengers were killed, scores injured. The ship was brought into harbor, the passengers were taken off by force. The world saw them walking on the quay, men and women, young and old, all of them worn out, one after another, each being marched between two soldiers…

The ship was called “Exodus 1947”. It left France in the hope of breaking the British blockade, which was imposed to prevent ships loaded with Holocaust survivors from reaching the shores of Palestine. If it had been allowed to reach the country, the illegal immigrants would have come ashore and the British would have sent them to detention camps in Cyprus, as they had done before. Nobody would have taken any notice of the episode for more than two days.

But the person in charge was Ernest Bevin, a Labour Party leader, an arrogant, rude and power-loving British minister. He was not about to let a bunch of Jews dictate to him. He decided to teach them a lesson the entire world would witness. “This is a provocation!” he exclaimed, and of course he was right. The main aim was indeed to create a provocation, in order to draw the eyes of the world to the British blockade.

What followed is well known: the episode dragged on and on, one stupidity led to another, the whole world sympathized with the passengers. But the British did not give in and paid the price. A heavy price.

Many believe that the “Exodus” incident was the turning point in the struggle for the creation of the State of Israel. Britain collapsed under the weight of international condemnation and decided to give up its mandate over Palestine. There were, of course, many more weighty reasons for this decision, but the “Exodus” proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I AM not the only one who was reminded of this episode this week. Actually, it was almost impossible not to be reminded of it, especially for those of us who lived in Palestine at the time and witnessed it.

There are, of course, important differences. Then the passengers were Holocaust survivors, this time they were peace activists from all over the world. But then and now the world saw heavily armed soldiers brutally attack unarmed passengers, who resist with everything that comes to hand, sticks and bare hands. Then and now it happened on the high seas – 40 km from the shore then, 65 km now.

In retrospect, the British behavior throughout the affair seems incredibly stupid. But Bevin was no fool, and the British officers who commanded the action were not nincompoops. After all, they had just finished a World War on the winning side. If they behaved with complete folly from beginning to end, it was the result of arrogance, insensitivity and boundless contempt for world public opinion.

Ehud Barak is the Israeli Bevin. He is not a fool, either, nor are our top brass. But they are responsible for a chain of acts of folly, the disastrous implications of which are hard to assess. Former minister and present commentator Yossi Sarid called the ministerial “committee of seven”, which decides on security matters, “seven idiots” – and I must protest. It is an insult to idiots.

THE PREPARATIONS for the flotilla went on for more than a year. Hundreds of e-mail messages went back and forth. I myself received many dozens. There was no secret. Everything was out in the open. There was a lot of time for all our political and military institutions to prepare for the approach of the ships. The politician consulted. The soldiers trained. The diplomats reported. The intelligence people did their job.Nothing helped. All the decisions were wrong from the first moment to this moment. And it’s not yet the end.

The idea of a flotilla as a means to break the blockade borders on genius. It placed the Israeli government on the horns of a dilemma – the choice between several alternatives, all of them bad. Every general hopes to get his opponent into such a situation.

The alternatives were:

To let the flotilla reach Gaza without hindrance. The cabinet secretary supported this option. That would have led to the end of the blockade, because after this flotilla more and larger ones would have come.

To stop the ships in territorial waters, inspect their cargo and make sure they were not carrying weapons or “terrorists”, then let them continue on their way. That would have aroused some vague protests in the world but upheld the principle of a blockade.

To capture them on the high seas and bring them to Ashdod, risking a face-to-face battle with activists on board.

As our governments have always done, when faced with the choice between several bad alternatives, the Netanyahu government chose the worst. Anyone who followed the preparations as reported in the media could have foreseen that they would lead to people being killed and injured. One does not storm a Turkish ship and expect cute little girls to present one with flowers. The Turks are not known as people who give in easily.

The orders given to the forces and made public included the three fateful words: “at any cost”. Every soldier knows what these three terrible words mean. Moreover, on the list of objectives, the consideration for the passengers appeared only in third place, after safeguarding the safety of the soldiers and fulfilling the task.

If Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, the Chief of Staff and the commander of the navy did not understand that this would lead to killing and wounding people, then it must be concluded - even by those who were reluctant to consider this until now – that they are grossly incompetent. They must be told, in the immortal words of Oliver Cromwell to Parliament: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

THIS EVENT points again to one of the most serious aspects of the situation: we live in a bubble, in a kind of mental ghetto, which cuts us off and prevents us from seeing another reality, the one perceived by the rest of the world. A psychiatrist might judge this to be the symptom of a severe mental problem.

The propaganda of the government and the army tells a simple story: our heroic soldiers, determined and sensitive, the elite of the elite, descended on the ship in order “to talk” and were attacked by a wild and violent crowd. Official spokesmen repeated again and again the word “lynching”.

On the first day, almost all the Israeli media accepted this. After all, it is clear that we, the Jews, are the victims. Always. That applies to Jewish soldiers, too. True, we storm a foreign ship at sea, but turn at once into victims who have no choice but to defend ourselves against violent and incited anti-Semites.

It is impossible not to be reminded of the classic Jewish joke about the Jewish mother in Russia taking leave of her son, who has been called up to serve the Czar in the war against Turkey. “Don’t overexert yourself’” she implores him, “Kill a Turk and rest. Kill another Turk and rest again…”

“But mother,” the son interrupts, “What if the Turk kills me?”

“You?” exclaims the mother, “But why? What have you done to him?”

To any normal person, this may sound crazy. Heavily armed soldiers of an elite commando unit board a ship on the high seas in the middle of the night, from the sea and from the air – and they are the victims?

But there is a grain of truth there: they are the victims of arrogant and incompetent commanders, irresponsible politicians and the media fed by them. And, actually, of the Israeli public, since most of the people voted for this government or for the opposition, which is no different.

The “Exodus” affair was repeated, but with a change of roles. Now we are the British.

Somewhere, a new Leon Uris is planning to write his next book, “Exodus 2010”. A new Otto Preminger is planning a film that will become a blockbuster. A new Paul Newman will star in it – after all, there is no shortage of talented Turkish actors.

MORE THAN 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson declared that every nation must act with a “decent respect to the opinions of mankind”. Israeli leaders have never accepted the wisdom of this maxim. They adhere to the dictum of David Ben-Gurion: “It is not important what the Gentiles say, it is important what the Jews do.” Perhaps he assumed that the Jews would not act foolishly.

Making enemies of the Turks is more than foolish. For decades, Turkey has been our closest ally in the region, much more close than is generally known. Turkey could play, in the future, an important role as a mediator between Israel and the Arab-Muslim world, between Israel and Syria, and, yes, even between Israel and Iran. Perhaps we have succeeded now in uniting the Turkish people against us – and some say that this is the only matter on which the Turks are now united.

This is Chapter 2 of “Cast Lead”. Then we aroused most countries in the world against us, shocked our few friends and gladdened our enemies. Now we have done it again, and perhaps with even greater success. World public opinion is turning against us.

This is a slow process. It resembles the accumulation of water behind a dam. The water rises slowly, quietly, and the change is hardly noticeable. But when it reaches a critical level, the dam bursts and the disaster is upon us. We are steadily approaching this point.

“Kill a Turk and rest,” the mother says in the joke. Our government does not even rest. It seems that they will not stop until they have made enemies of the last of our friends.

(Parts of this article were published in Ma’ariv, Israel’s second largest newspaper.)

Holding governments to account

Najib condemns Israel's human rights violations, but what about those that occur within Malaysia?
Updated on 7 June 2010 at 11.20am
IT was interesting to see our Malaysian government defending the rule of law and upholding human rights in the international arena recently. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his colleagues condemned the recent Israeli commando-style raid of the flotilla of ships attempting to deliver aid to Gaza, resulting in the deaths of nine activists.
Najib said Malaysia, currently a non-permanent UN Security Council member, would move the council to discuss taking action against Israel for its attack. He also said Barisan Nasional (BN) would table a parliamentary motion to show the Malaysian people’s displeasure with the Israeli attack.
But even as I agree with some of our leader’s sentiments over the violence, niggling questions arise. And the foremost one is this: Why is our BN government so ready to rebuke Israel for its “excessive and inhumane treatment of activists,” yet remains relatively silent when excesses and acts of inhumanity are perpetrated within our own borders?
When will we hear our government take similar strong positions against deaths and brutality perpetrated by armed enforcers and government agencies within our own country? No doubt, the Israeli government must be called to account for the killings and violence it has inflicted. But when will our government make such stentorian calls for our public institutions to be responsible when human beings are mistreated in our own backyard?
Where is our prime minister's anger over the rape and sexual abuse of the Penan community? (pic of Penan people courtesy of Sofiyah Israa | Flickr)
Will our prime minister call for a parliamentary motion, for example, to demonstrate the Malaysian people’s displeasure at deaths in police custody? Or our anger at the rape and sexual abuse of Penan women and children?
While keeping up international pressure on Israel to account for its actions, the government may also want to examine the horror stories of some of the visitors to our own shores. Take these few examples:
Detention horrors
Refugees and undocumented migrants have a notoriously difficult time in Malaysia. Malaysia has not signed the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees and there is no official recognition of refugee status. Refugees and migrants are constantly at risk of being stopped by police or volunteer corps (Rela). Those found with inadequate documentation are detained in detention centres and eventually deported.
The Home Ministry informed Parliament there were 70 deaths in detention centres from 2006 to 2009. Human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO) Suaram says this figure might not take into account migrant deaths in medical centres while in Immigration Department custody. A 2007-2008 Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) report found evidence of overcrowding, lack of bedding, little access to medical care, and the presence of young children and babies in immigration detention centres.
Even documented migrant workers don’t have it easy. A 2010 Amnesty International (AI) report entitled Trapped: The exploitation of migrant workers in Malaysia says prospective migrant workers are routinely deceived on their wages and conditions of employment. It says many are mistreated from the moment they arrive in Malaysia.
Irene Fernandez
A 46-year old Nepali farm worker told AI he sat on the floor at Kuala Lumpur International Airport for three days while waiting for his agent, with no food or money to buy anything to eat. Azhaar, a 28-year old Bangladeshi worker, said his agent brought him to a house in Kuala Lumpur where 50 of them were kept. He said they were only given a plain bun once in the morning and once in the evening, before being sold to various employers.
Many workers found themselves working in inhumane conditions with little or no pay while being deprived of their passports by their agents or employers.
Far from acknowledging or condemning the mistreatment of foreigners on our shores, our Malaysian government in fact charged activist Irene Fernandez with publishing false news when she published details of detainees’ mistreatment. Fernandez was found guilty and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment; however her case was eventually dropped by the government.
The Malaysian government has also been dragging its feet on implementing better working conditions for domestic helpers.
Malaysia also has a bad track record in combating human trafficking. There are countless tales of women being promised restaurant jobs in Malaysia, only to be sold and forced to become sex workers upon arrival. While volunteering at women and migrant rights NGO Tenaganita, I heard rescued women tell of being forced to see six to seven customers each day and kept under close guard to prevent them from escaping.
Anifah Aman (left) downplayed the report that Malaysia does not comply to minimum standards for eliminating human trafficking (public domain | Flickr)
(Updated) Instead of responding in outrage that our country is party to such inhumane acts, our government merely said it would set up a team to “study” a US Trafficking in Persons Report, which is heavily critical of Malaysia.
Foreign minister Datuk Anifah Aman downplayed the report’s findings, saying it had not taken into account Malaysia’s “seriousness in tackling the issue.”
Deaths and shootings
The deaths in police custody and fatal police shootings bear repeating, given that there seems to be no discernible sign that anything is changing. Media and NGO reports show there were 39 fatal police shootings in 2009 and 44 the year before.
Official figures also state there were 159 deaths in police custody between 1990 and 2004. Out of 80 such deaths from 2000 to 2004, only six were subject to an inquest.
These figures don’t take into account those injured by police, but survived. Norizan Salleh, for example, says she was shot five times and then kicked and stepped on by police while on her way home in a friend’s car, but survived. Suhakam inquiries have also found the police guilty of brutality when trying to disperse peaceful assemblies.
IGP Musa Hassan threatened to pull police off the streets when the force was criticised (© Wan Leonard | Flickr)
Suhakam has made several recommendations to the government, chiefly to abolish the need for a permit for peaceful gatherings but there has been no significant indication that these suggestions are being seriously considered.
Government condemnation towards these matters has been lukewarm at best, cavalier at worst. Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan even threatened to pull police off the streets in response to the barrage of criticism the police faced after 15-year old Aminulrasyid Amzah was shot dead.
Close to home
There are a whole host of international covenants Malaysia has yet to sign up to — on civil and political rights; economic, cultural and social rights; torture; discrimination; the list goes on.
So yes, it is noble of our government to point out Israel’s wrongdoings and set it straight. But perhaps these condemnations might be more credible if the government was just as indignant about wrongful acts done in our own backyard. - Nut Graph

You don’t want a free and fair newspaper?

By Haris Ibrahim,

The ‘Tunaikan janji, Pakatan Rakyat. Kami menuntut penerbitan Utusan Rakyat’ petition was launched on 2nd June, to urge one or more of the Pakatan Rakyat state governments to take advantage of section 25(1), Printing Press & Publications Act, 1984 and publish an independent state government newspaper.
As at the time of writing up this post, 413 had signed the petition in support of the same.
Nobody else wants to try and get a free and fair newspaper?
I’m due to meet up with an Exco member of one of the Pakatan state governments to explore the possibility of such a newspaper.
It would help if my statement that ‘the rakyat want such an independent newspaper’ to this Exco member appears to be credibly backed with a decent number of signatories to this petition.
Help me out, please.
The petition can be viewed HERE.

An Unjustifiably High Oil Price Risks Jeopardising Economic Recovery

KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 (Bernama) -- An unjustifiably high oil price, risks jeopardising the fragile global economic recovery while undermining its stablilty, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak warned today.

Notwithstanding Malaysia's efforts to bolster economic resilience as a major trading nation, the country's prosperity is inevitably tied to the health and stability of the global economy, he said.

"(Hence) We should not let this fixation on what is an appropriate oil price level, detract us from the more important task of ensuring, it does not diverge from the underlying market and economic realities," he said.

The oil price has edged steadily upwards to around US$80 per barrel since last June - a level not seen in eighteen months.

This strengthening has come about despite the fact that demand growth has been fairly modest, particularly among the OECD countries, while global supply has remained ample according to OPEC.

"Undoubtely, the apparent mismatch between prices and supply/demand fundamentals, raises questions over whether oil markets have become "overheated"," he said at the 15th Annual Asia Oil and Gas Conference here, today.

Also present at the opening of the conference was Petronas' President and Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Shamsul Azhar Abbas.

Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, said some will view current and prospective demand increases, modest as it is, as being sufficient to justify a new, higher threshold price.

"Yet, others will say that with oil ceasing merely to be a source of energy, higher prices reflect the fact that as a commodity, it is today a much sought after financial asset," he added.

"Indeed, it is also noteworthy that despite the recession, industry costs continue to remain stubbornly high by historic standard.

"Whatever our views may be on what constitutes an appropriate price level, we can be assured that prices, even at these levels, will come under renewed pressure as the recovery gains momentum," he said.

According to Najib, over the long term, population growth trends, urbanisation and industrialisation in the emerging world, will continue to underpin historically-robust growth in energy demand.

"Under the circumstances, an adequate supply-side response is critical if market stability is to be restored.

"There should also be a greater oversight of the financial market, aimed at preventing price manipulation, if it leads to a more efficient and robust price formation," he highlighted.

He also said governments on the other hand, should take the initiative to create a more conducive environment and reaffirm their commitment to upholding transparency, as well as a functioning market as the ideal long-term guarantor of energy security.

"Governments should also establish clear and coherant national energy policies that help reduce variability in expectations of future demand. Such policies must be grounded in economic realities and be forward looking," he added.

He noted that an early multilateral commitment to a global strategy for transitioning to a low carbon economy is also desirable, to anchor expectations on both the speed of future energy demand growth and changes on the supply side.


Chin flays ‘ungrateful’ folk


MIRI: The lack of gratitude shown by some urban voters in Sarawak towards the ruling government worries the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).

SUPP organising secretary Datuk Seri Peter Chin said there were people who had forgotten what the Government had done for them and now they wanted to bring it down.

“Who gave them jobs? It was the Government. Who provided hundreds of millions of ringgit every year to build roads, houses, schools, health facilities, basic amenities like water and electricity for them?

“Was it the Opposition parties who did all these? Of course not. It was the ruling Government.

“SUPP feels very sad that these forgetful and ungrateful people do not look at the good things we have done for them,” he said at a Gawai Dayak gathering here on Saturday night.

Chin, who is Miri MP and Minister for Energy, Green Technology and Water, said the ‘’ungrateful people’’ blindly believed and supported the propaganda of Opposition parties.

He said he wanted the urban people of Sarawak to ask themselves what they could gain by bringing down the Government.

“The Opposition parties blame the Government for everything. They are always negative.

“They find fault all the time. They find issues to play up to fire up anti-Government sentiments among the people.

“They deride government leaders, criticise every decision we make no matter how much benefit we bring to the state and country.

“They run down the ruling government at every given opportunity but they never stop and think about the peace and stability we are enjoying and who was responsible for keeping this country safe,” he said.

Chin said it was high time that the urban people change their anti-establishment attitude, recognise the good the Government had done for them and show their gratitude during election time.

Whistle-blowing doctor should be protected: MMA

by Alyaa Alhadjri

KUALA LUMPUR (June 6, 2010): The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has broken its silence and come out in support of the doctor who exposed the plight of orang asli patients at Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA) hospital in Gombak.

MMA president Dr David Quek said the MMA views with "grave concern" the fact that Dr Selvaa Vathany Pillai (pix) continues to face personal inquiries following her allegations against the hospital's management.

"We recognise the right of Dr Selvaa to act as a responsible and caring doctor. She has shown great personal conviction and concern about her role as doctor to an often marginalised minority group in the country, the orang asli," he said in a statement yesterday.

"That she should place herself in possible jeopardy with regards to her position is to say the least, humanitarian and selfless," he added.

theSun previously reported that Selvaa was transfered by the Health Ministry to a hospital in Kedah in March.

She was also investigated by the Rural and Regional Development Ministry and subsequently, received a show-cause letter from JHEOA on April 19.

These occurred in the wake of a press conference held at Bar Council office on Feb 11 at which she made public the allegations agiant the hospital's management.

Quek said that both the show-cause letter and transfer order is a sign that Dr Selvaa has possibly been "victimised and punished unfairly" for her actions.

"Her whistle-blowing regarding possible mismanagement and procedural opacities in the JHEOA hospital must be seen in the light of her noble intentions and empathy to help improve the plight and healthcare of the orang asli," he said.

Quek said that Selvaa's allegations should spur JHEOA and Health Ministry to initiate a full investigation and find a solution for problems.

He said by resolving such problems, the various departments involved would dispel misgivings related to the inefficiency and possible corruption in the healthcare system.

"Such transparency would enhance the image of the government, especially in this era of wanting to transform the economy and the country," he said.

Quek also called upon the authorities to stop using the civil service general orders as a tool to intimidate government officers who exposed shortcomings within the service.

"This is important because such perceived actions would thwart potential whistle-blowers and others from doing the ethical thing in the medical profession," he said. -- theSun

Moral angles to a Pakatan

By Nathaniel Tan,

I was encouraged by the initial feedback – both positive and negative – to my article, reproduced below, on why Pakatan may need a Malay agenda.
Allow me to do my first blog post in response to a Twitter conversation, hehe :)
Aisehman 23 hours
dats right RT @bongkersz: @Aisehman @NatAsasi so agree on that note. why play into their hands? why play the game?
bongkersz 23 hours
@Aisehman @NatAsasi so agree on that note. why play into their hands? why play the game?
Aisehman 23 hours
@NatAsasi the day Pakatan unveils its Malay Agenda is the day UMNO kisses your hand in gratitude for handing them GE13 on a silver platter
bongkersz 23 hours
RT @Aisehman: Y Pakatan may need a ‘Malay Agenda’ @NatAsasi bro, dat is taking d defeatist route. An abject surrender.
Aisehman 23 hours
Why Pakatan may need a ‘Malay Agenda’ @NatAsasi bro, dat is taking the defeatist route. An abject surrender.
Eliminating race based politics has perhaps been one of my most consistent and persistent goals – insofar as I have had any since being involved in this line of ‘work’.
I view it as one of the biggest cancers that afflicts our nation.
I hate it so much so, that I may be willing to consider options some consider less savoury in order to seek it’s longer term elimination.
Of course, this speaks to the question of whether ends justify means.
With regards to the particular case at hand, I have concluded that a “Malay Agenda” for Pakatan can be justifiable – and not a case of sacrificing principles or playing into the enemy’s hands.
The primary issue to me is this: is any type of Malay agenda racially exclusive in nature and thus immoral?
To my mind, the answer is no, and for twofold reasons.
Firstly, perhaps a “Malay Agenda” is not really any different from a “Fisherman’s Agenda”, a “Perakian Agenda”, a “Feminist Agenda” or for that matter, a “Malaysian Agenda”.
All of these deal with segments of society, merely divided along different lines. Such an agenda is thus perhaps just one of many agendas – agendas which, when put together, are designed to uplift the whole of society.
Secondly, a core question is: what is the content of this Malay Agenda? Is there a difference if it is a supremacist, crutch-centric view, as espoused by Umno – versus say, a revolutionary and remedial one focused on using integrity and justice as the core drivers of non-exclusivist advancement as well as a new approach to interethnic relations?
Some might say that such a move constitutes a compromise fueled by nothing more than political necessity.
I agree that political circumstances inform this idea, as does a need to break Umno’s zero-sum politics and pave the way for true multiracialism.
I think if a Malay agenda can be pursued without sacrificing at heart the principles of a just and united society, I’d be all for it.
To me, if that brings us even a day closer to a non-BN government, who knows how many lives may be spared from police brutality, or indefinite detention without trial.
For non-Malays, supporting such an agenda (one notably different from Umno’s) could also be a sign of reaching out and bridging the divide that has separated us for too long.
Perhaps all this will be clearer once such an agenda is actually articulated, and perhaps I shall endeavour to do just that come next column :) In the meantime, here’s the original. Thanks again for all comments, more welcome :)

Why Pakatan may need a ‘Malay Agenda’
JUNE 5 — Hulu Selangor and Sibu imply new lines of political division for Malaysia, and the signs may not all be good.
A crucial by-product of these by-elections is the manner in which national political dynamics will evolve in response to the voting results.
There is a growing perception — if not one much discussed in the public sphere, understandably — that the majority of the votes for Barisan Nasional (BN) in an election will come from the Malay and rural segments of the population, while Pakatan Rakyat (PR) maintains a strong grip on the Chinese and urban segments.
A growing urban/rural political divide may have colourful repercussions for the nation’s political landscape.
Even as it is, a cursory glance at a map of the 2008 general election will show green, red and light blue dominating the urban centres of the nation, and huge swathes of dark blue covering a much larger area of the country.
Should this trend continue in the manner that it has in these last two by-elections, we may enjoy the irony of watching BN become a “Parti Kampung” of sorts, while PR slowly evolves into a “Parti Kota.”
All nations have political divides that run along some lines, and I suppose this particular one is not as bad as some others. At worst though, we may have the kind of urban/rural divide that is a large part of the current Thai crisis.
More worrying however, is a perceived deepening political divide along ethnic lines.
Despite Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s best efforts at “bribery”, the Chinese votes have yet to swing towards BN in any meaningful way whatsoever. It appears that decades of feeling like second-class citizens and the promise of a more just society under PR make for an overwhelming combination.
The trouble begins when politicians and political parties reflect on the by-election results and ponder their futures.
I recall that, in the early aftermath of the by-elections, there were already voices calling out for Umno/BN to stop trying to pander to the Chinese votes, and concentrate instead on their base of Malay votes — perhaps assuming that if they maintained a solid majority of the Malay votes, they can still easily obtain a simple majority in Parliament.
This may not seem particularly palatable, but in terms of pure electoral logic and given the structure of our political system, we cannot expect such reasoning to be dismissed out of hand.
Najib may not be particularly inclined to go down this path, but that may not prevent strong factions within his party from pushing this agenda. Should they succeed, and Umno swings further to the right in response to such electoral realities, who knows what the repercussions may be for the country?
Although my thoughts are still gestating with regards to the long run (enough to fill a book?), in the short run, many have been wondering what Pakatan can do to reverse the Malay voting trend while maintaining their current bases of support.
Speaking as a non-Malay, an idea I had was for Pakatan — and maybe PKR specifically — to come up with something like a “Malay Agenda” of their own.
Yes, it may initially sound like something counter to the line we’ve been taking, but I think fellow non-Malays should adopt an open mind and explore such possibilities.
In order for Pakatan to take over and implement its truly multiracial vision, it may have to compete with one of Umno’s strongest assets: The perception that Umno has Malay interests at heart.
Of course, many Malays — more noticeably in urban areas — realise that this is the furthest thing from Umno’s mind. Nonetheless, Pakatan may need to have a viable alternative to this perception to sway the middle ground outside its traditional bases of support.
A Pakatan/PKR “Malay Agenda” need not be exclusivist and supremacist ala Umno, but could perhaps instead focus on fixing the damage done to the Malay community by Umno, by emphasising integrity, independence and fulfilling the true potential of Malays — something Umno has not only failed to do, but actively worked against in order to maintain its political relevance.
I truly believe that without the rent-seeking, cronyism and endemic corruption Umno has put this country through, the natural diligence and talent of both Malays and Malaysians would have brought us all so much further than where we are today.
The articulation of such a vision would serve to allay fears that Pakatan is not “Malay enough” or that Pakatan is synonymous with the weakening of the Malays, while the details of the vision itself will — when scrutinised — show itself to be perfectly consistent with all Pakatan has said before.
Hopefully, non-Malays will understand the context and need for such an agenda, and recognise its role in bringing all of Malaysia closer to a more just society.
Of course, my attempt to email such suggestions to the relevant people weeks ago has yet to find traction, but I’ve already fleshed it out a bit, so if anyone else out there thinks the idea bears some merit, let’s talk!

Israeli PM blames 'hostile group' - Al Jazeera

There was fresh criticism of Israel on Saturday when troops forced another Gaza aid ship to change course

Israel's prime minister has claimed that a group of activists intent on violence secretly boarded the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, avoiding security checks, and attacked Israeli troops during last week's deadly raid.
Binyamin Netanyahu's comments are the latest in an Israeli campaign to defend its attack on a flotilla of ships headed for the blockaded Gaza Strip with hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists and humanitarian cargo.
He said on Sunday that "dozens of thugs'' from "an extremist, terrorism-supporting'' organisation had prepared for the arrival of the naval commandos.
Netanyahu made the comments at a cabinet meeting amid the international outcry over the Israeli navy's storming of the Mavi Marmara, the Freedom Flotilla's lead ship, that left nine people dead.
"According to the information currently in our possession, this group boarded separately in a different city, organised separately, equipped itself separately and went on deck under different procedures," Netanyahu said.
"The clear intent of this hostile group was to initiate a violent clash with IDF [Israeli army] soldiers."
However, he did not provide any evidence to support his allegation.
Customs checks
Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jerusalem, said all cargo and passengers were required to pass through customs and port security whether they boarded in Greece, Ireland or Turkey.
"Israel has yet to provide evidence that any attack on its soldiers was in fact pre-planned - something denied by all those travelling on board the ship," he said.
Calls from around the world for an independent enquiry with foreign observers will be weighed against Israel's reluctance to submit itself to any form of international tribunal.
The US has called for "a credible, impartial and and transparent investigation" into the Israeli commando raid.
But Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the US, said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday that his country will reject the idea of an international investigation.
"We are rejecting an international commission. We are discussing with the [Barack] Obama administration a way in which our inquiry will take place," he said.
Israeli ministers have differing views on how to handle calls for an investigation.
"I see no place for an inquiry with non-Israeli participants," Daniel Hershkowitz, Israel's science minister, said on Sunday, and Yuval Steinitz, the finance minister, agreed.
Open probe backed
By contrast, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister, has supported an open investigation.
"We have nothing to hide. And if they want to include an international member of some sort in their committee, that's alright," he told the Israeli public radio on Thursday.
Leiberman separately told the Israeli news webiste, YNet, that he supports lifting the siege on Gaza's land crossings [but not land], in return for a visit to Gilad Shalit, the captured Israeli soldier, from the humanitarian organisation, International Committee of the Red Cross.
There was a fresh criticism of Israel on Saturday when special forces boarded an Irish-owned vessel, the Rachel Corrie, after it ignored orders not to go to Gaza with aid.
This time there was no resistance but the ship was forced to sail to an Israeli port where it was impounded.
Its 19 passengers and crew were being deported on Sunday.
Israel imposed the Gaza blockade blockade of Gaza in 2006 when Hamas, the Palestinian faction, won elections and took power there.

PSM will go with Pakatan against BN in next GE

Anwar: End subsidies for Umnoputras - Malaysiakini

Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said the coalition's MPs would demand when Parliament sits from tomorrow that the government stop subsidising the few who are rich in preference to the many who are poor.

Speaking at a dinner jointly organised by PAS Youth and PKR Youth in Batu Lanchang in Penang this evening, Anwar termed as “obscene the Umno-BN government's featherbedding of an elite group of businessmen”, a pattern he claimed had weakened the national economy.

“Independent power producers are subsidised, contracts are given to cronies and families of the well-connected, and now when the economy has been brought down, they want to cut subsidies for the poor,” he told a working class crowd gathered at the multi-purpose hall in Batu Lanchang.

NONE“No way that we in Pakatan are going to allow this to happen. You want to cut subsidies, remove them from the protected rich before you do anything to subsidies meant to help the poor,” said Anwar.

The dinner was the penultimate stop in a day-long campaign swing through Penang and Kedah that had earlier seen him officiate at the opening of a surau in Komtar.

Anwar told the largely Malay crowd that it was imperative the DAP-led Penang government headed by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng be supported because “what money they save in running the government they plough back to the people.”

“You hear some say this government is not good for the Malays and Muslims but did the former one open a surau for the public in Komtar like this one did this morning,” asked Anwar.

“I spoke at the mosque in Bayan Baru just before coming here. I told scores of worshippers there that they should support the Penang government because they do things right by the people, and not for their cronies and relatives,” he said.

Facing suspension from Parliament

A tired-looking Anwar told the crowd he would fight for them with every ounce of energy he had because not to do so would see the country proceed down a path where “the politics of fear, of stirring one race against another so that people will be suspicious of each other while a few get away with plunder” would continue to reign.

“There is no reason why this country cannot provide for all who are committed to it so long as a well-connected few are prevented from plundering it,” he said.

Turning to the parliamentary session opening tomorrow, he said, “If they suspend me from Parliament” - this was with reference to his being hauled up before the powerful rights and privileges committee on Tuesday - “that will give me more time to go all over the country to campaign.”

Before ending his speech which he had to curtail because he had arrived late and was off to his final stop in Kulim Bandar Baru in neighbouring Kedah, Anwar told the crowd that the points he had raised would be elaborated by PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa who was scheduled to speak after him.

With that he was off to Kulim, leaving the crowd wondering from where he got his energy for he needed help to ascend the steps to the hall on arrival.

Under UMNO Malaysian Indian English teachers near extinction

The Education ministry after 53 years of independence wants to bring in English language teachers from United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand to teach English in Malaysian schools.
Even all our Prime Ministers and top political corporate and business leaders today were taught English beginning from the Malay only Malay College Kuala Kangsar to almost all schools right up even to the east coast.
But in these 53 years of Malay-sia’s independence and UMNO’s racist and supremacist policies all these English teachers have been ‘ethnically cleansed’. Today there are perhaps only 5% of the school teachers who are Malaysian Indian English teachers down from about 50% in 1969 ( See Dr. Mahathir book The Malay Dilema at page 78).
Never mind the foreign exchange flowing out of the country but no to the Indians as English teachers.
Welcome to UMNO prime Minister Najib Razak’s One Malay-sia.
P. Uthayakumar

Najib Razak’s open endorsement of racist UMNOs’ outsourced racist extremist and supremacist Ibrahim Ali and Perkasa

A picture speaks a thousand words. Just see the picture below in UM 30/5/2010 front page of One Malay-sia UMNO Prime Minister Najib Razak endorsing UMNO’s outsourced Perkasa and Ibrahim Alis’ Malay muslim racist, extremist and supremacist policies.
In return Najib endorses these racist, extremist and supremacist policies he has formulated in the New Economic Model (NEM) the successor of the racist, extremist and supremacist New Economy Policy (NEP) but pretends to be coy about it.
Old wine in new bottles?
Karunai Nithi @ Compassionate Justice


Mandore politics: Organizations, individuals told to adopt Tamil schools

Private organizations and individuals have been urged to adopt Tamil schools so that pupils will enjoy better facilities and a more conducive environment, reported Malaysia Nanban. (The Star 1/6/10 at page N 39).
This is exactly what the ‘tuans’ and ‘towkays’ in both UMNO and also PKR, DAP and PAS want of their Indian mandores.
Education in any part of the world is the duty of the ruling government except in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s One Malay-sia. While they spend the peoples’ tax money on their own childrens education in mational schools, others (vernacular schools) are told to obtain sponsorship from organisations and individuals.
This has been UMNO’s very shrewd way to keep the Indian organizations and individuals minds away from the RM 191.5 billion national mainstream development of Malaysia. So that the Indian minds will not reach out for the billions and millions worth of tenders and projects, the 442,000 ten acre land ownership schemes Felda, Felcra, Risda, Agropolition, etc., the 200,000 places denied to Indian students in UiTM, the top and brainy students being denied JPA scholarships, university places and matriculation colleges.
P. Uthayakumar

Height of UMNO cruelty: Malaysian Indian 85 year old man begging for his Malay-sian citizenship

(See The Star 27/5/2010 at page N14)
From cradle to grave, Francis Xavier, 85, and an estimated 450,000 Indians are denied their Identity Cards and Birth Certificates.
To the contrary millions of Indonesians have been given citizenship. Their children can even become the Menteri Besar of Selangor in the person of Khir Toyo.
We are not asking for the Menteri Besar’s post. The Indians are merely demanding their birth right to be citizens by operation of law as is provided in Article 14 of the Federal Constitution.
P. Uthayakumar

Malay students given choices, while Indian students got no chances !

IMG_0818 P6060059 This morning 10 Indian students with their parents came for a press conference at HRP office to highlight their disappointments of not getting any offers from JPA, matriculation, local or foreign universities despite having scored 7As, 8As, 9As,10As,11As &13As results in their 2009 SPM. Malay students given choices between JPA, matriculation, local and foreign universities, while Indian students denied such choices by UMNO-led Malay-sian government. They have to end up doing STPM, one of the toughest exams in Malaysia, while their Malay friends get an easy way out through matriculation.IMG_0837
The frustrated students ask, as citizens of this country in every way why they are not given the equal educational opportunities that they deserve. While the angry parents question the truth and validity of 1Malay-sia concept as being propagated by PM Najib Razak.
Some of the parents have already sold their houses to support their brilliant sons’ and daughters’ further education. They have got no more resources for their younger children. Why do Malaysians IMG_0805 have to sell homes to study? Is it not the government’s role to provide a condusive environment for all Malaysians to achieve their highest potential?
This is yet another example of discrimination of the UMNO-led government towards poor Indians from getting the basic tertiary education to move upward socially and economically. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of many such cases throughout the country. Many accept it as their fate and go on with life.
Welcome to 1Malay-sia !P6060026
Cikgu Suguz


UMNO ‘kills’ 2,237 top Indian students up to 13 straight As’in SPM & tokoh pelajar every year

UMNO ‘kills’ 2,237 top Indian students up to 13 straight As’in SPM & tokoh pelajar every year the last 53 years.

This is the reality facing us today.There are 2,237 Secondary schools in Malaysia. Assuming even one Malaysian Indian student scores 9As’ and above per school we estimate 2,237 top students nationwide. (Note: in Malaysiakini video clip on 4th June, 2010 – 3 students had said that there were 20, 13, and 10 such top students in their respective schools).

The meeting this morning started at 11.25 am with HRP Information Chief S Jayathas welcoming all those present.HRP and Hindraf National Coordinator W Sambulingam asked the parents and students to introduce themselves;

Top student 1

Malaysian Indian student, Deborah Anne a/p John Philip of SMK Bukit Nanas, KL scored 13As (7a+, 4As and 2A-) in science stream and her ambition is to be a medical doctor but was denied JPA government scholarship, matriculation course and university place.

She was told to appeal but we question why about the top most student in Malaysia had been rejected in the first place.

The irony here is Malaysia is short of doctors by 100 percent ! The ideal ratio doctor to patient should be 1:600 but in Malaysia it is 1:1200 (NST, 28.05.08)

Top student 2

Mr Mathavan (not his real name), a lecturer teaching 99 percent Malay/Muslim students said he treated his students like his own children. But now for his very own son who had 9As in the science stream (5A+ and 4As). His sons ambition was to become an aeronautical engineer. He had been rejected for the government JPA scholarship and Tenaga and Petronas scholarships. His son was merely offered to do a diploma in mechanical engineering. He was rejected for the aeronautical course supposedly because of his lack participation in co-curriculum activities. The fact being that he was a school head prefect. He spends RM200.00 every month on tuition fee alone. To drive the point of the importance of studies as the only way to excel in life, this father caned his son and uttered “brutal” words. Today this father feels guilty because he could not deliver what he had promised.

Top student 3P6060050

Devan has scored 8As and 2Bs. He was denied JPA government scholarship, matriculation and university place.

Top student 4

Saswin Singh of SMK Taman SEA had scored 7A+, 2As and 2A- in science stream. He had applied to do medicine and did an attachment at Serdang Hospital. Saswin and all 8 Indian students on attachment with him were denied JPA government scholarship, matriculation course and university place.

Top student 5

Sharmala Subramniam of SMK Senawang had scored 11As in science stream and whose ambition is to be a Pharmacist, but was denied JPA government scholarship, matriculation course and university place.

Her elder sister who had scored 10As is today forced to do the very much more difficult STPM instead of the matriculation courses made available to most of the Malay/Muslim students.

Top student 6

Komala Ganeshwaran of SMK Taman Tengku Jaafar had scored 11As (7A+, 2As, and 2A-) in science stream but was denied JPA government scholarship, matriculation course and university place. Her father is a rubber taper at Labu estate. She was president of the school Tamil society and vice president of the girl guides society and a hockey player for the school at state level.

Top student 7

IMG_0805 Mageswari had scored 5As and 5Bs in science stream. Her ambition is to become a medical doctor. She is now forced to do a science foundation course in Indonesia which would cost RM16,000.00 and intends to do medicine in Moscow. Her parents had borrowed money (used up their EPF and other life savings etc) to raise RM200,000.00 to do medicine in Moscow.

Top student 8

Dinishwari Nathan of SMK Subang Jaya had scored 7As and 3B+ in science stream but was denied JPA government scholarship, matriculation course and university place. Even her appeal was rejected. She was a prefect for five years, Red Cresent district leader, and had just completed and came home from the National Service training centre. According to her many of her Malay friends who had scored a mere 2As or no As at all had secured places in matriculation colleges and local public universities. Her father has a house he could sell for her studies but there are 3 other of her siblings in waiting. She says the 1Malaysia policy is a mockery and was cynical about the 1,001 times she had to carry her hands and shout Satu Malaysia (1Malaysia).

Top student 9

Perumal of Rawang. His daughter Kalaimalar of SMK Sri Garing who scored 7As in science stream and her ambition was to be a doctor but was denied JPA government, SHELL scholarship, matriculation course and university place. Perumal had met his ketua kampong who was of no help. He asked why only Indians have this type of problems when going to university. He ended by saying Satu Malaysia tipu!

Top student 10

Yogeswari of the SMK Convent Jalan Peel had scored 9As and 2B+ in science stream and her ambition was to be a doctor but was denied JPA government scholarship, P6060059 matriculation course and university place. She was not even called in for the JPA interview. She was head librarian, head prefect, president of the Badminton Club, reprensented KL state for badminton and got 3rd place. She was also captain of Green House, Kelab Pencegahan Jenayah, Kelab Anti dadah. She is from a lower income family, lives in a low cost flat house where rain water flushes into her study corner. She stays back at school to study and also studies in the bus and LRT. She leaves for school at 6am and comes home at 6pm. She says that even her Malay and Chinese teachers had cried for her.

Top student 11

Nageswari of SMK Damasara Damai 1 had scored 9As and 1B+ in science stream and her ambition is to be a gynecologist but was denied JPA government scholarship, matriculation course and university place.

She was president of Math’s society and was from a Tamil school. Her father is a lorry driver and still then sent her for tuition. Almost all of her Malay friends even with 2As, 3As and 6As made it to matriculation colleges and the local public universities.

If she decides to do A levels (18 months), her lorry driver father has to cough up RM25,000 which he does not have. (Note: Her other option is STPM which would take 2 years whereas matriculation is only a mere 10 months couse).

Top student 12

Mr Arumugam of Batu 8, Puchong Jaya said his daughter Sudarsini had scored 7As in the science stream SPM 2008 but was denied JPA government scholarship, matriculation course or university place. Mr Arumugam had the means to send her to study medicine in Indonesia. On Sudarsini’s second year, even her PTPTN government study loan was rejected despite this family personally meeting and pleading with the Deputy Education Minister. They have up to date spent RM170,000.00 on this their daughter. They have sold their last remaining house and are renting the very same house. For his previous 3 children he had similarly sold 3 houses. All his and his wife’s life saving has been wiped out and today he lives on his wife meager pension. Today he attended this meeting in the hope of getting at least the government PTPTN study loan.

W. Sambulingam stated that 12 thousand scholarship were offered by JPA (1,500 overseas and 10,500 local – Utusan, 6th April, 2010) When the Education Ministry had acknowledge 7,600 high achievers for the year 2009 then at least all of the above 12 students should be in our office in the first place.

P6060045 Sambulingam called upon all students to attend the peaceful assembly outside Parliament on 15th June, 2010, at 11 am when the full list of deserving Indian students and our memorandum would be presented to 1Malay-sia Prime Minister Najib Razak.

P. Uthayakumar expressed regret that while there is a special motion by UMNO, PKR, DAP and PAS in Parliament tomorrow (7.6.10) on Gaza, there is no emergency or other motions on this blatant racism against top and high achieving Malaysian Indian students for the only reason that they are of ethnic Indian origin. And these acrocities have been happening with impunity over the 53 dark years and has to be put to a stop.

In the circumstances we would again be forced to work on invoking people power as in 25th November, 2007 for this is the only weapon that the UMNO controlled Malaysian government would pay some heed to.

Kindly sign our petition in support at www.humanrightspartymalaysia,com.

Thank you.

Your faithfully,

S. Jayathas
Information Chief
Hindraf / HRP