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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

French soccer stars questioned over prostitution ring

French star Franck Ribery was questioned Tuesday in connection 
with an alleged underage prostitution ring.
French star Franck Ribery was questioned Tuesday in connection with an alleged underage prostitution ring.
Paris, France (CNN) -- Two members of the French national soccer team, Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema, were being questioned by French police Tuesday in connection with an alleged underage prostitution ring, French police said.

Ribery, who also plays for German team Bayern Munich, and Benzema, who plays for Spanish side Real Madrid, were being questioned by a police brigade that specializes in surveillance of prostitution.

The case emerged earlier this year after police raided a night club near the Champs Elysees in Paris and detained 18 girls on suspicion of prostitution.

One of the girls, Zahia Dehar, appeared on the cover of Paris Match in April and told the magazine she had sexual relations with several players on the national team, including Ribery, whom she had met at the club. She said in the interview she hadn't told them she was younger than 18 at the time.

In an initial court hearing on the case, Ribery admitted he had sex with Dehar but insisted he did not know she was a minor. Benzema has made no public comment.

Neither of the players spoke to reporters Tuesday. A lawyer for Ribery said outside the police station where the players were questioned that her client had done nothing wrong, and that he would have had to have known the girl's real age in order for it to be an intentional offense.

The questioning adds to a disastrous summer for the French national squad, which crashed out of the World Cup in the first round following two draws and a defeat that left them at the bottom of their group of teams. It was an embarrassing exit for the team that had reached the final of the last World Cup, in 2006.

Forward Nicolas Anelka was sent home from the tournament after an argument with coach Raymond Domenech, causing the rest of the French players to refuse to show up for training.

French team director Jean-Louis Valentin publicly announced his resignation to the media, and team captain Patrice Evra -- who had publicly argued with the team's fitness coach during training -- was omitted from the team's match with South Africa.

Once the team arrived back in France, striker Thierry Henry spoke to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and French lawmakers grilled outgoing coach Domenech about the events.

Syariah lawyers want heavier penalties for Islamic offences

KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — The Malaysian Syariah Lawyers Association (PGSM) urged the government today to impose heavier penalties for Islamic offences and to standardise religious criminal laws in all states.

Its deputy president Musa Awang also claimed that the existing laws which provide for maximum imprisonment for three years, fine of RM5,000 and six strokes of the cane, had failed to deter Syariah offenders.

He said that the “3:5:6 formula” stipulated by the Syariah Courts Act 1984 was too light and outdated.

“It has been 20 years since the Syariah Courts Act 1984 was amended which has encouraged a lot of people to take the easy way out by pleading guilty, because the punishment is not as severe as the civil courts,” Musa told The Malaysian Insider.

“For offenders RM5,000 in 2010 is nothing because they can come up with the money in one day,” he added.

Musa said that amendments were necessary to protect the image of the Syariah courts.

“From a maximum fine of RM5,000, maybe it should be increased to RM20,000 or more. In Islam, gambling, adultery and consuming alcohol are considered major sins, but RM5,000 is too low,” he said.

Musa also wanted the punishment to be standardised in all states.

“For example in Selangor, if convicted for consumption of alcohol the punishment is fine and imprisonment, but in Pahang the punishment is fine, imprisonment or caning,” he said.

“The same with gambling, there are different punishments in Selangor and in other states. Same offence but different punishment,” said Musa.

He added that the different punishments could cause confusion.

“When different punishments are meted out, society will not respect the courts. We do not want this to happen,” said Musa.

“Is Selangor’s Islam different from the one in Pahang? Or is Islam in Pahang more extreme as it provides for caning for Syariah offenders? So there is a need for uniform laws so as to protect the image of the judiciary,” he added.

Policemen keeping watch on PKR headquarters

FMT ALERT PETALING JAYA: About 30 policemen have arrived outside the headquarters of PKR at Tropicana Damansara here this morning. They are keeping watch on the building, apparently awaiting for the arrival of PKR supreme council member Badrul Hisham Shaharin, popularly known as Chegu Bard.

Najib set to 'charm' Sarawak's Orang Ulu

By Pushparani Thilaganathan - Free Malaysia Today

MIRI: Riding on 64.1% popularity high in Sarawak, Barisan Nasional chairman Najib Tun Razak is set to head straight for the state’s deepest interiors tomorrow to “see for himself the real situation” among the Penan, Kelabit, Kenyah, Kayan, Saban, Berawan and Lakiput communities.
Najib is keeping his word. He had once told Sarawakians that he wanted a first-hand look at the state’s remotest areas, accessible only by boat, helicopters or trekking.

This will be only the second time since independence that a prime minister has ventured into the interiors of this vast landlocked state sliced by the mighty Rajang river.

The last visit was when former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad visited Long Bedian in 2003.

Excitement is high among the simplistic Orang Ulu sub-ethnic communities as they await Najib’s arrival to launch a bridge in Long Banga in Ulu Baram, which is an eight-hour drive from here along a dirt road.

Ulu Baram is home to the Orang Ulu comprising the Penan, Kelabit, Kenyah, Kayan, Saban, Berawan and Lakiput. Together with downriver tribes, Lun Bawang and Lun Dayeh, they make up 5.5 % of Sarawak’s population, a voter base that state BN officials have touted as unreacheable to the opposition. (The recent Merderka Centre Survey polled 11.2% support for the opposition Sarawak, but political analyst Faizal Hazri notes that Pakatan Rakyat will need 20% swing in votes to take Sarawak.)

According to Telang Usan assemblyman, Lihan Jok, the Orang Ulu are a minority community long since left behind by progress.

The prime minister’s visit, he said, will give them a chance at experiencing development.

“I believe this historic visit by Najib to Ulu Baram will pay off. He can see for himself their needs and explain many things to them.

“We are a minority community that has long been left behind by progress and development because we live in the far interiors of the rainforest,” Jok said.

The wish list

Reiterating his confidence in the imminent change which Najib will bring, Jok said he had forwarded the people’s wish list to the Prime Minister’s Department during his recent visit to Putrajaya.

“We’ve asked for development that will directly benefit each community’s quality of life and I believe the government will implement these plans for the Orang Ulu,” said Jok.

He said all the Orang Ulu sub-communities will be given a fair share of the development plan.

“For the Kelabit who live in the highlands, we have asked for roads and a bridge linking them to Miri city.

‘For the Penan, we have asked for clinics. The Penan community needs better healthcare and clinics that are closer to their settlements.

“For the Kenyah in Telang Usan, we have focused on economic development such as mini rubber estates for them to improve on their income.

“For the Kayan in Ulu Baram Tengah, we have also asked for a road and a bridge linking them to the outside world.

“And for the Berawan and Lakiput communities, they live in the low-lying areas and face regular water problems so we have asked for clean water to be supplied for their daily use,” said Jok.

While Jok has put forth the infrastructural needs of the Orang Ulu community, another group is fervently hoping to convince Najib to save its women and children from an endemic scrounge.

Said a source close to the Penan Support Group (PSG): “We know the visits into the Sarawak interior is time consuming but since he (Najib) is here in Baram, we sincerely hope that he will meet with groups like us.

“We want to tell him the real issues… that the Penan children are vulnerable. They are prone to rape and sexual exploitation because they are dependent on the logging companies for transport to schools... There are no schools near their settlements.

‘The fact is, he is the only one who can put a stop to this wide-ranging endemic exploitation.”

The PSG incidentally has rankled both state and federal governments with its recent report entitled “A wider context of sexual exploitation of Penan women and girls in Middle and Ulu Baram, Sarawak,” which contains intimate details and first-hand interviews of the scrounge in the interiors.

"Many BN leaders have slammed us. They find these confessions embarrasing and say the Penan are lying. But the report is factual and far more real than police reports and professed government action," said the source.

Coming soon: Malay sequel to Kg Buah Pala

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: Umno is planning to turn the Kampung Pokok Asam re-development project into another Kampung Buah Pala fiasco, should one read between the lines of an Umno leader's comments on the issue.
Teluk Bahang assemblyman Dr Hilmi Yahaya demanded that the state government work out compensation for the affected Malay residents of Kampung Pokok Asam on the same quantum formula tabled for Kampung Buah Pala's Indian residents.

He said the compensation offered to residents of the now demolished Kampung Buah Pala was the highest ever given in the state.

Since 24 Kampung Buah Pala residents were offered RM500,000 double-storey houses each, Hilmi said it is only fair that the 23 families affected by the new township project in Kampung Pokok Asam receive the same compensation.

“The state government should broker a similar compensation based on the precedent set in the Kampung Buah Pala project,” insisted the Penang Barisan Nasional secretary.

Although the fundamental dynamics between Kampung Buah Bala and Kampung Pokok Asam are different, Umno is bent on capitalising on the issue, which is set to be another thorn for the DAP-led state government.

What Hilmi failed to disclose is that unlike the residents of Kampung Buah Pala, Kampung Pokok Asam residents have been squatting on the developer's land for years without rent.

In the case of Kampung Buah Pala residents, they were staying for more than two centuries on what they claimed was trust land given to their forefathers by colonial estate owners – the Brown family.

At the height of the fiasco, all ex-Kampung Buah Pala residents, minus nine, were verbally offered a double-storey house each in the same area by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's administration.

But the ex-villagers are still in the dark over this as the offer was not documented in black and white.

Kampung Pokok Asam has been gazetted for a mega project, comprising flat units, luxury houses and shophouse lots, to be developed by Nova Mulia Development Sdn Bhd.

Even though the developer owns the three-acre land and has a court eviction order, Nova Mulia has nonetheless offered the residents between RM75,000 and RM120,000 in compensation.

'Don't use them as political pawns'

Last week, PAS state deputy commissioner Mujahid Yusuf Rawa cautioned Umno against using the villagers as “pawns” for the party's political interests.

“The developer owns the entire project site. We can only hope for the company’s goodwill in accepting our proposal for preserving the village as a Malay heritage site and to look into post-development resettlement for the villagers,” he said.

Mujahid Yusuf defended the state government's decision to approve the project plan given that it was already in the pipeline of gazetted projects during the previous Barisan Nasional administration.

He said Umno was merely trying to stir Malay sentiments against the Pakatan Rakyat government by spreading misinformation about the issue.

However, Umno state secretary and state opposition leader Azhar Ibrahim disagreed.

While conceding that the project was initiated by BN, he also pointed out that the previous state government inserted a clause demanding that the developer resolve the compensation issue before the project can be approved.

He accused the current government of ignoring the clause when approving the project.

“Pakatan is now pretending to protect the villagers’ interests when it should have done so prior to approving the project,” he said.

Twist in BN's land promise for Tamil school

By G Vinod and B Nantha Kumar

FMT EXCLUSIVE LUKUT: A Tamil school, which operates from a double-storey rented shoplot here, was promised land by Barisan Nasional during the Bagan Pinang by-election last year.
But the story has now taken a twist.

A member of SRJK (T) Sungai Salak's Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) said despite the initial promise of six acres, a new school building is now being constructed on a three-acre site.

“During that time (the by-election), another Tamil school SRJK (T) Kem Askar Melayu was awarded a plot of land worth RM1.8 million to build its own school.

“But for some reason it did not want to move. So we urged the state government to give the land to our school,” explained the parent, who wished to remain anonymous.

According to him, a pro-government group called MyNadi had helped them secure the land during the by-election period.

“We actually spoke to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's aide then and the matter was later raised with the PM and we received the land,” he said.

The parent added that the six-acre plot was allocated on condition that both Sungai Salak and Kem Askar Melayu Tamil schools merge.

However, the latter opted not to merge and the Sungai Salak Indian community was delighted thinking that their school would get the land.

“But our hope was dashed. In September 2009, the Education Ministry sent a letter informing us that the school would have to share the land with the new District Education Department,” he said.

The Education Ministry also promised to find another three acres in the near future for the school.

“But our question is, why wasn’t the six-acre plot given to us when it was gazetted for two schools?” asked the parent, who hopes that the government would clear the air on this matter.

'Cannot become a fully-aided government school'

The parent pointed out that by erecting the school on a three-acre land, SRJK (T) Sungai Salak would not qualify to become a fully government-aided institution.

“The government's requirement is that a school must be built on a minimum of five acres in order to qualify to become 'sekolah kerajaan bantuan penuh' (fully-aided government school).

“Right now the new premises is being erected on a three-acre site. I don’t know if we still qualify to become a fully aided government school,” he said.

Currently, SRJK (T) Sungai Salak is supported by its PTA and donors. The school spends about RM1,400 a month for rentals and other expenses.

The school moved to the shoplot after it was “forced out” of another premises, which it shared with SRJK (T) Spring Hills.

“A local MIC leader pressured the Spring Hill school to force us out. So after five years, we moved to this shoplot. We did not get a single sen from the government. The parents and some donors spent almost RM80,000 to relocate the school,” said the parent.

The PTA member also expressed concern about the new location of the school.

“I am concerned for the safety of the children. It is being built in a relatively remote area covered with oil palm trees. You never know, some dangerous animals or unscrupulous people may prey on our children,” he said.

Is Syria Anti-Muslims?

By G. Krishnan

Following the French government’s effort to ban the niqab and burka in public premises, it must come as particularly surprising to many that Syria appears to be following in the footsteps of France (and Turkey) by restricting the use of the niqab.

Based on recent reports in the international media, it appears that “Syria has forbidden the country's students and teachers from wearing the niqab”.

The Syrian government, grounded in secularism, seems intent on keeping what it sees as “extremism” in check. Perhaps not so ironically, we have not heard much of an outcry against Syria from religious zealots and various misguided liberals, as we did when this issue in the French context first became widely publicised.

I am curious if the religious zealots and even pseudo-liberals will also jump on the case of the Syrian government and accuse it of being anti-Islamic. Perhaps the pseudo-liberals and religious extremists do believe that Syria, whose population is well over 85 percent Muslim, has a government that is anti-Muslim?

If I were a betting person, however, I would bet that we won’t find a hue and cry in the Islamic world about Syria’s recent action to ban the niqab and burka as we did when the topic happen to make the headlines in the case of France.

It is understandable that religious zealots would invariably have an issue with secular principles. However, it is deeply disappointing indeed when so-called liberals jump on the same bandwagon with religious bigots to condemn secular governments such as France when it seeks to elevate and preserve secularism.

It seems that pseudo-liberals have a problem when a secular country such as France seeks to preserve its identity as a secular nation, but become tongue-tied when predominantly Muslim countries such as Syria or Turkey act in a similar vein to affirm their commitment to secularism.

Too many liberals are quick to latch on to simplistic claims about xenophobia, anti-Islamism, and such without appreciating the more subtle and nuanced elements of such means to preserve the distinction between religion and a secular system of governance.

We’ve seen all too well what tends to happen when a secular government begins to indulge - and then over-indulges – religion, and especially self-professed religious experts.     
Despite all its flaws and shortcomings, hats off to the Syrian government – a member of the Organisation of Islamic Conference - for understanding the need to preserve religion in the private sphere.  

G. Krishnan

Who wants PAS-Umno unity?

By Gan Pei Ling | The Nut Graph,

For an Islamic state
“Jika Umno dan PAS bekerjasama banyak perkara boleh dilaksanakan termasuk hukum hudud berbanding tindakannya bekerjasama dengan DAP dan PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) yang ternyata mempunyai dasar dan matlamat perjuangan yang berbeza.”
Lokman Nor Adam, who represented the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry’s special affairs department, commenting during an 11 July 2010 forum titled Can Malay Malaysians unite?. The former PKR member said it would be impossible for PAS to set up an Islamic state without cooperating with Umno to gain a two-thirds majority in Parliament. (Source: Malaysia mudah asal dasar Islam jika PAS, Umno bersatu, Utusan Malaysia, 11 July 2010)
For Muslim unity
“Semua pihak di dalam kedua-dua parti itu harus sedar bahawa kegagalan mereka menjalinkan kerjasama dalam isu-isu disepakati akan terus melemahkan kedudukan umat Islam di negara ini.”
Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim) president Razak Idris, suggesting the establishment of a special committee for Umno-PAS cooperation. He said both parties should set aside old grudges and work together to unite Muslims.
Following Lokman and Razak’s statements, Utusan Malaysia got both PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to comment on the idea. Both were quoted as saying they were open to cooperation between both parties. (Source: Wujudkan jawatankuasa khas, Utusan Malaysia, 12 July 2010)
For Malay Malaysian unity
”Kalau kita terus berpecah-belah, kita akan terima kekalahan (pada PRU-13), itu sahaja. Dan akan berlaku satu bentuk penjajahan baru.”
Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, claiming that Malay Malaysians would lose power in the next general election if Umno and PAS still refused to unite. He went on to claim that leaders from both parties had consulted him about unity between both parties. (Source: Melayu hilang kuasa pada PRU-13?, Utusan Malaysia, 17 July 2010)
Umno: We can talk
“I do not want to make any more statements because the Umno deputy president (Muhyiddin) has already issued a statement … I just want to say that Umno is itself strong, and it is not that we are too weak that we have to forge a new friendship with PAS.”
Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, commenting on the issue of cooperation between Umno and PAS.
On 13 July, Muhyiddin said Umno was open to working together with PAS on economic and cultural issues apart from “building unity for the good of the ummah and country”. He added that non-Muslims should not feel threatened by these talks.
On 18 July, Najib said PAS should stop criticising Umno and imposing preconditions if the party was serious in wanting to hold talks with Umno on Malay Malaysian unity. (Source: Umno not too weak as to forge new friendship with PAS – Najib, Bernama, 14 July 2010)
PAS: Not a chance
“PAS is not open to any discussions with Umno. The issue is closed. We are with Pakatan Rakyat and that’s final.”
Nik Aziz, commenting on certain parties’ attempts to revive unity talks between Umno and PAS. Bernama also reported on 16 July that the Kelantan menteri besar was only willing to meet Muhyiddin to discuss cooperation between the state and federal governments, especially on the issue of oil royalty.
PAS vice-presidents Salahuddin Ayub and Mahfuz Omar also refuted Harussani’s claim that PAS leaders had approached the Perak mufti to help mediate talks between Umno and PAS. Both said their party would not work with Umno. (Source: Embrace Islamic policies first, Nik Aziz tells Umno, Free Malaysia Today, 16 July 2010)

A gross violation of the civil service code

By Thomas Lee Seng Hock | Mysinchew

The current spat between Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the state development officer Nik Ali Mat Yunus highlights a fundamental flaw in the Malaysian civil service.

In the democratic system of government, of which Malaysia professes to practise, the civil service is a politically non-partisan and neutral body, with all its officers supposed to function and operate impartially in the implementations of the policies, programmes, and projects of the elected government.

Article 132 of the Federal Constitution states that federal civil servants hold office at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and state civil servants at the pleasure of the respective Sultan. Which means that the civil servants are not beholden to any political party but to His Majesty’s government of the day. His Majestic is above politics, and so must all those civil servants appointed under his royal command and name.

As is supposed to be the practice, a change in the government after a general election is not supposed to affect the administration and public service of the nation or a state as the civil service’s loyalty is absolutely with His Majesty’s elected government of the day.

The fundamental flaw in Malaysia is that civil servants think they are officers of the Barisan Nasional, specifically Umno, and even with a change of government at the state level, they operate as if Umno is the authority and Umno leaders their bosses, taking orders only from Umno.

Such a dangerous attitude borders on sedition, as if it could be interpret to mean the civil servants are not serving His Majesty’s elected government, but taking order from those not authorised constitutionally to give them.

The very fact that Nik Ali participated at a press conference called by Umno and used it to launch an unwarranted and unjustified verbal attack on the chief minister is a gross violation of his status as a non-partisan and neutral civil servant.

The fundamental integrity and probity of the civil service have been desecrated by Nik Ali’s involvement in the political press conference initiated by an Umno state assembly member, something not to be taken lightly by the Cabinet and the Public Service Commission.

Nothing less than an appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against Nik Ali for such a serious case of lese majeste. And he should be made to apologise to His Majesty for exposing the civil service to ridicule and derision, and to the chief minister.

Guan Eng, and perhaps also the other Pakatan Rakyat state chief executives like Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim of Selangor, has been facing a lot of difficulties in the running of the state government due to uncooperative civil servants whose loyalty is apparently to Umno.

In the Nik Ali case, Guan Eng has no choice but to publicly reprimand the federal officer for allegedly not being accountable and responsible for his mistakes which affect the well-being of the state.

“These officials get high pay and do nothing for the people and instead cost losses. We hope he can be more professional,” Guan Eng was quoted as saying by various newspapers.

Guan Eng has also claimed that Nik Ali tried to sabotage the state government openly and blatantly. On this allegation, the very fact that Nik Ali was at an Umno press conference with prepared media statements to lambaste the chief minister proves that Guan Eng is telling the truth.

Obviously, Nik Ali has failed as a senior civil servant to exercise his impartiality and neutrality when he allowed himself to be used by Umno to attack Guan Eng, calling the chief minister rude.

If the Najib administration truly professes to practise the “People first” concept, then justice must be done and seen to be done for the people of Penang, who elected Lim Guan Eng as their chief minister, by taking disciplinary action against the federal officer who violated the sacred principle of impartiality in the civil service.

That is the least Datuk Seri Najib Razak should do to show the people that he is a fair, just and righteous prime minister, worthy of their respect.

Ensuring education for all

The New Straits Times
by Eileen Ng

KUALA LUMPUR: Education programmes for stateless children may be coordinated by the Education Ministry.

Currently, the various education opportunities for these children are being offered by the non-governmental organisations, the private sector and individuals.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the education minister, welcomed these initiatives but said the implementation of the education programmes would have to be monitored carefully.
This is to ensure that its original objective is met, in line with the national education philosophy.

"As such, I feel it is time for the Education Ministry to act as a coordinating agency so that the education programmes can be standardised and a sense of identity and love for Malaysia, as a country that gives them protection, can be inculcated into the children," he said in reply to a question from Senator Noriah Mahat in the Dewan Negara yesterday.

Muhyiddin said the government would ensure that stateless children were given education in line with the principles of ensuring education for all children irrespective of religion, race or location.

The government has categorised stateless children into 10 categories. These are:

- Malaysian children with underprivileged background;

- Malaysian and non-Malaysian children living along borders such as Thailand and Kalimantan;

- Foreign children whose parents come to Malaysia to work;

- Children of nomadic sea gypsies;

- Children whose parents are refugees from Southern Philippines with IMM13 documents;

- Rohingya children whose parents are issued UNHCR cards;

- Aceh children whose parents are issued UNHCR cards;

- Children from foreign illegals;

- Street children with unknown background; and

- Children of high-risk parents such as those who indulge in drugs and prostitution.

He said the Education Ministry had approved a policy to provide alternative education opportunities for stateless children, equip them with basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills as well as civic education and providing them with useful skills.

To date, the ministry has formed smart partnerships with agencies such as the Federal Special Task Force to organise Kafa (religious) classes and the armed forces for a community project in Sabah for the stateless children there.

He said such smart partnerships would be expanded, where he hoped other government agencies, NGOs and the private sector would help to provide education programmes for the children.

For Malaysian children without documents, Muhyiddin said they would be accepted into government schools as long as they fulfilled the condition that one of the parents is a Malaysian. However, this must be endorsed by a community leader such as a village chief.

He added that the cost to educate stateless children was minimal.

Meanwhile, in his speech at the 17th National Seminar on Educa-tional Management and Leadership at the Institut Aminuddin Baki in Genting Highlands, Muhyiddin said leaders in the field of education must have the courage to manage change to churn out human capital capable of competing at the global level.

He said unwillingness and fear on the part of the leaders or educators to initiate changes would result in the education system becoming static.

"Quality and excellence today will not guarantee quality and excellence tomorrow because the yardstick used in evaluating quality and excellence always changes.

"Thus, leaders should not be complacent on the success enjoyed by the organisation today, but must be bold in implementing changes and innovations in a proactive manner."

His speech was read by Deputy Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi.

Police at PKR headquarters

1233: Police are now at the PKR headquarters in Tropicana.
They are believed to be interested in confiscating a computer in connection with investigations into an allegedly seditious posting by Chegubard, according to a senior PKR official.
The blog posting apparently was made from the PKR office.
According to the official, PKR cannot understand why the police need to take away the computer when Chegubard was arrested for the blog post itself.  He said Chegubard had acknowledged that the posting was his.

Kelantan Sultan ambushed by special ops cops

Gel 'helps prevent' HIV infection

At least 33 million people worldwide have HIV, two-thirds of which live in sub-Saharan Africa [GETTY]
Researchers have found that a vaginal gel containing a prescription drug could dramatically cut the prevalence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in woman.
Results of a study conducted in South Africa showed that the microbicide gel reduced the HIV infection rate by 39 per cent over two and a half years.
Experts at a International AIDS conference being held in Austria said that the development could provide hope in protecting women who's partners refuse to use condoms.

At least 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV, two-thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa and another 32 million have died of AIDS complications.
"This is a big moment we need to celebrate because this is the first time in the history of fighting HIV/AIDs that we can talk about a prevention revolution that will help us have a tool that can help women initiate and control their prevention methods," Michel Sidibe, the executive director of the United Nations' AIDS-fighting agency, said.
"The only things we've known until now has only been for men," he told Al Jazeera.

"I am so proud that this discovery is coming from Africa and also from researchers who are themselves African."

'Positive result'
Anthony Fauci, an expert from the US National Institutes of Health, said: "This is the first time we've ever seen any microbicide give a positive result.
"Even partial protection is a huge victory that could be a boon not just in poor countries"
Salim Abdool Karim,
South African researcher

"Given that women make up the majority of new HIV infections throughout the world, this finding is an important step toward empowering an at-risk population with a safe and effective HIV prevention tool," Fauci said.
The gel, spiked with the AIDS drug tenofovir, cut the risk of HIV infection by 50 per cent after one year of use and 39 per cent after 2 1/2 years, compared to a gel that contained no medicine.
Research is under way to try to improve the gel and if further studies show the gel to be safe and effective.
The level of protection is probably currently not enough to win approval of the microbicide gel in countries like the United States, but researchers say they are optimistic it can be improved.
To be licensed in the US, a gel or cream to prevent HIV infection may need to be at least 80 per cent effective, Fauci said.
Researchers suggested that better results could be achieved by adding more tenofovir or getting women to use it more consistently.

'New hope'
In the study, women used the gel only 60 per cent of the time; those who used it more often had higher rates of protection.
The gel also cut in half the chances of getting HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. That would be important because other sexually spread diseases raise the risk of catching HIV.
Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, the associate director of the programme that carried out the study, told Al Jazeera that "the traditional four tools, which is abstinence, being faithful, condoms and circumcision, have very limited capability" to fight HIV transmissions.

"So essentially we have very little to offer a woman to protect herself from HIV, but this finding offers new hope," he said, speaking from Austria's capital Vienna.     

"We did some mathematical modeling that showed what would happen if we took this gel and made it available to the whole of South Africa.

"Our model shows that over the next 20 years if the gel is available, we could prevent 1.3 million HIV infections and could avert over 800,000 deaths in South Africa.
"39 per cent (efficiency) is not the last word. What we have done is showed that the concept works. This is the first time an anti-retroviral has been shown to prevent sexual transmission.
"It is also the first time that we have a microbicide gel that has been shown to prevent HIV infection. This is a starting point. 

"The most important thing at this point is for us to is to put all of our sources together to find the fastest ways to get it approved by regulator authorities.

"Until a regulator says that this product is safe and effective, we will  not be able to make it available. "
Karim will present results of the study in Vienna at the International AIDS Conference on Tuesday. 

Ex Fiji Prime Minister shocked at extent of discrimination in Malaysia. Letter to HRP.

With Mr
 Mahindra Chaudrey ex Prime Minister of Fiji Island IMG_4174
20th July 2010
Mr. P. Uthayakumar
Human Rights Party
Dear Mr. Uthayakumar.
Thank you for forwarding us your Party’s statements and newsletters.  I am indeed shocked by the extent of discrimination and the denial of human rights of the people of Indian origin in your country.
I have always considered Malaysia a friendly and multi-racial country but can now imagine how difficult it is there for Indians, particularly those who exist in poverty.
The only sure way in which their problems can be addressed and justice meted out to them is to make the international community aware of their plight and appeal for their assistance to redress the situation.
It can be a long drawn and frustrating experience but it is, in the end, sure to achieve satisfying results.
I wish you and your Party the success you all deserve in your worthy struggle and commend you for your courage in taking up the cudgels on behalf of your people.
With warm personal regards.
Mahendra P. Chaudhry
Secretary General
Fiji Labour Party

Siva Subramaniam’s MIC membership ?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Sacked MIC Central Working Committee member K P Samy’s alleged that Siva Subramaniam is not an MIC member as reported by Makkal Osai Tamil daily.
But a document -- imol could not verify the authenticity -- indicates Siva Subramaniam, Selangor MIC information chief is indeed an MIC member.




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BN Youth report shows most young voters undecided

Both BN and Pakatan are racing to sign up unregistered voters, most of whom are youths. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 — The Barisan Nasional (BN) Youth today presented a report to the prime minister over its survey that found three in five Malaysian youths were undecided with their vote.

BN Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and his BN Youth Lab team submitted the report which also contained policy proposals and results of the survey to Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Prime Minister’s Office this afternoon.

“We’ll be presenting it to the public via a town hall meeting with the prime minister very soon,” Khairy told The Malaysian Insider after submitting the report to the prime minister

He later said the town hall meeting will be at 3pm on August 20, with those interested having to register through the BN Youth Lab’s Facebook account.

Khairy said the BN chairman was “happy with the analysis and many of the suggestions”.

The series of surveys were conducted nationwide between March and June by the BN Youth Lab programme through telephone calls, social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, and polls to detect relevant issues and problems affecting the Malaysian youth. It said a majority were not political party supporters, with 62 per cent undecided on their vote.

The major concerns voiced by the interviewees were employment, education, rising cost of living and public transportation. Most of these concerns pushed Malaysians to hand four states and 82 federal seats to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Election 2008.

Both coalitions are now racing to sign up the 4.4 million unregistered voters in the country, comprising mainly youths. The DAP is the leading political party registering new voters ahead of the 13th general election, and has helped PR register two voters to BN’s one for the first half of 2010.

According to the BN Youth Lab, its survey also discovered that 30 per cent of the 1,000 youths surveyed are worried with the country’s current situation while 50 per cent are unhappy with the rising crime rate in Malaysia.

It reported that around 65 per cent of respondents felt the country was on the right track against the 30 per cent concerned over its future.

The survey said more were most concerned about employment/career (66 per cent), beating out children’s education and future (20 per cent), and cost of living (12 per cent).

Apart from the crime rate, the respondents were also dissatisfied about public transport (22 per cent), housing (10 per cent) and education (13 per cent).

The top most aspirations for those surveyed were economic progress (33 per cent) and freedom of expression (24 per cent), as opposed to transparency (19 per cent), religious tolerance (14 per cent) and race-related policies (7 per cent).

Millionaire Jho Low caught in France

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: “Mystery” man Jho Taek Low, who reportedly secured the RM500 million contract to redevelop the Sungai Besi airbase (Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia), is back in the spotlight, this time in France.
The millionaire businessman, who is closely linked to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s family, was detained together with famed Hollywood star Paris Hilton by French police.

According to the French newspaper, Corse Matin, Hilton was detained at the Corsica airport after police dogs sniffed out her marijuana loot.

The paper reported that Hilton travelling with a personality who was “closely linked to the top Malaysian authorities” when she was detained.

But he was released after a 30-minute interrogation.

Commenting on the increasing curiosity about the Ivy League financial party boy, PKR Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar Mat Akin said the latest incident raised even more suspicion about Jho Low.

Shamsul Iskandar had first raised the Jho Low issue at the PKR convention in Kota Baru last month.

At the time he had challenged Najib to reveal who the mystery man was. Jho Low is said to be a friend of Najib’s son Riza and wife Rosmah Mansor.

Jho Low, a 28-year-old from Wharton Business School, is rumoured to be an adviser to some international corporations involved in oil, gas and construction.

Last year, he was appointed to the board of Malaysian bank UBG Bhd. A surf through the Internet found him linked to several high-flying business investment groups in Malaysia and the Middle East.

Report reveals rape of tribeswomen by loggers 20 July

The Penan's forests have been devastated by loggers
The Penan's forests have been devastated by loggers
© Andy and Nick Rain/Survival
A new report has exposed an ‘environment of violence’ against tribeswomen in Borneo. According to the report, released by a coalition of Malaysian human rights groups called the Penan Support Group, there have been repeated cases of rape and sexual assault against Penan women by the loggers who are destroying the tribe’s forests.
They follow allegations by other Penan women in 2008, which the Malaysian government denied but was later forced to confirm.
The report condemns the Malaysian government for giving lucrative logging concessions on Penan land to ‘private companies closely tied to the state government’, resulting in ‘dispossession, destruction, dislocation and impoverishment’ and an ‘environment of violence’ which leaves Penan women and girls ‘highly vulnerable’.
The Sarawak state government has licensed the Penan’s land to logging and plantation companies that have devastated the rainforests the tribe rely on.
The Malaysian Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development has refuted the new allegations. The Chief Minister of Sarawak also denied the previous allegations of rape, saying they were ‘lies’ and an attempt at ‘sabotage’. A government investigation later confirmed that the women’s claims were true.
Officials have continued to dismiss the issue. When the BBC confronted Sarawak’s Minister for Land Development with the statement of a teenage Penan rape victim, he said, ‘They change their stories, and when they feel like it. That’s why I say the Penan are very good storytellers.’
Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Logging has brought the Penan nothing but abuse, with rape, violence and hunger now commonplace. For the government to react by calling them ‘storytellers’, and pretending all this is ‘progress’ is appalling.’
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is due to visit some Penan villages on July 22.
Download the Penan Support Group’s report

Will we abandon Sgt. Tharmendran to torture by Air Force / prison guards?

Update: YB Mike organising a memo handover.
TIME : 10.30 am
This truly is a new low.
In yet another dramatic twist in the trial of former RMAF sergeant N Tharmendran, the accused retracted his bail after the PJ Sessions Court refused his application for a protection order from the air force.
Lead defence counsel N Surendran (left) said Tharmendran requested to retract his bail as he feared he would be picked up by RMAF officers who were waiting outside the courtroom.
“This goes to show that anyone who has been tortured before does not want to be tortured again,” Surendran said of his client’s alleged torture by army intelligence officers.
When you think about the state of Malaysian prisons, and the abuse known to go on in there, I think you get an idea of just how scared Tharmendran was.
Rereading his experience, I don’t blame him:
Tharmendran’s father) Nagarajah (left) claimed that two RMAF officers, a Major Azam and a Major Ismail, had beaten and mistreated his son over a period of nearly three weeks from July 2 to 17 last year.
He claimed that Major Ismail made Tharmendran wear a crash helmet, which he then proceeded to hit repeatedly using a golf club and a cricket bat alternatively.
Nagarajah said Major Ismail told his son that he had written the names of all those he had tortured , including Tharmendaran’s on the crash helmet
Nagarajah also claimed that his son was stripped to his underwear in a room where the air-conditioning was going full-blast, and that he was not allowed to sleep, with regular interrogations after midnight.
“All the time, they kept asking him to confess he had stolen the two F5E fighter jet engines from Sg Besi TUDM Base.
“Major Ismail also threatened to shoot my son and (co-accused) Rajandran Prasad,” he said in his report.
Look at what we’re doing.
Tens of millions worth of material is stolen from our airbases, and they blame two enlisted men.
One of them has the crap kicked out of him, and we can’t even offer him the slightest bit of protection as we try and get to the bottom of this story.
The worst part?
I’m not sure Sgt. Tharmendran is safe in prison either :(
I think we really need more attention on this case >:(