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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Saiful having sex with prosecutor, says RPK

KUALA LUMPUR: In an allegation that startles even those used to his flamboyant style, fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin has accused one of the prosecutors in Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial of having a sexual relationship with Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the star prosecution witness in the case. In a posting entitled “The bizarre case of Sodomy 2,” he says Saiful and Farah Azlina Latif are lovers.

“Farah Azlina, one of the federal counsel of the trial unit of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, who is on the prosecution team in the Anwar Sodomy 2 trial, is having an affair with Saiful,” he writes.

The posting features a picture of Saiful with his fiancé, Janna Mohd Zaki.

The allegation about Saiful’s relationship with Farah Azlina is made towards the end of the article, which reproduces three earlier articles in which Raja Petra gives details of the alleged political conspiracy behind the sodomy charge against the opposition leader.

Read Raja Petra's article here:

BN's 'gila-glamour boys' get a tongue-lashing

By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: State Barisan Nasional (BN) elected representatives who attend seemingly “small and non-beneficial” events for the sake of media exposure received a tongue-lashing from deputy State Legislative Assembly Speaker Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar. Describing them as “superficial YBs”, he said the BN “must get rid of them, if it is to enhance public confidence”.

Junaidi’s censure of the representatives got Sarawak PKR adviser Dominique Ng’s full support.

Ng said reps, irrespective of whether they were BN or Pakatan Rakyat, who do not serve the people “must be removed”.

“I fully agree with Wan Junaidi that there are ‘superficial YBs’ in the BN as well as in Pakatan.

“These YBs should be removed and only those who can genuinely serve the people be retained.

“We want to have a culture of YBs and ministers who serve the people and not the reverse,” said Ng, who is Padungan state assemblyman.

Junaidi told reporters yesterday that these “superficial YBs” were often seen attending “petty non-beneficial functions and issuing non-relevant statements” just to have their faces appeared in newspapers.

He said that when he read the newspapers, he found news of such YBs attending openings of restaurants, boutiques and other commercial functions and “cutting ribbons and having dinners”.

“When internal conflicts happened, such YBs even asked their supporters to hold press conferences in coffeeshops to pledge support and confidence.

“They are just taking advantage of the media,” said Junaidi, who is Santubong MP.

“When giving out aid, these YBs would give the impression that it was because of their sole effort that the community has received their donations.

“I find this to be very superficial. For the next general election, they should be replaced,” he said, pointing out that some YBs were more interested in the glamour of being YBs rather than serving their constituencies.

Defensive PRS

Meanwhile, a defensive Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) has denied that its elected representatives were the ones targeted by Junaidi.

Its president, James Masing, defended his YBs, saying they were hard-working, focused and problem-solvers.

“I don’t think what Junaidi said applied to PRS YBs, because I know they are not publicity-seekers. Our representatives are hardworking and serve their constituencies well.

“Junaidi may be refering to other YBs in the other component parties. Certainly not YBs in PRS,” said Masing, who is State Land Development Minister.

This is not the first time that Junaidi has lambasted BN’s elected representatives.

In June last year, he accused the MPs from Sarawak of failing to take part in debates in Parliament.

He said some MPs simply sat down and listened to debates, while others were having coffee in Parliament.

He said most often it appeared that these elected representatives were not interested in raising issues affecting the people of Sarawak.

His remarks at that time drew some angry reactions from fellow MPs, one of whom was the MP for Batang Sadong Nancy Shukri, who wanted the deputy speaker to apologise and withdraw his remarks.

Junaidi refused to apologise.

Murugiah: Goodbye Kayveas, hello Samy

By B Nantha Kumar - Free malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department T Murugiah and his supporters would be joining MIC soon. Announcing this today, MIC president S Samy Vellu said the former PPP leader would be an asset to the Indian-based party.

“We, the entire party, welcome him as a new member. He is diligent and has the spirit to struggle for the Indian community,” he told reporters at the party headquarters here.

Samy Vellu said Murugiah would not be holding any party posts as the MIC constitution forbade a new member from holding office in the first three years.

According to sources, Samy Vellu's son and MIC central working committee member S Vell Paari had played an instrumental role in bringing Murugiah in.

However, FMT learnt that some senior MIC leaders were unhappy with the move.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior MIC leader said that Murugiah would not bring about any significant changes to the party.

"If it is true that Murugiah has got 210,000 suppoters, then he should be showing them. His supporters would also be a problem,” he said.

Explaining further, the senior leader said most of Murugiah's supporters were former PPP division and branch chiefs.

“So would they be willing to just be ordinary members in MIC for three years because of Murugiah? I don't think so,” he added.

Murugiah was embroiled in a protracted leadership struggle with PPP top man M Kayveas, which even resulted in a courtroom battle.

Family wants written safety guarantee for Tharmendran

By G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today
KUALA LUMPUR: The family of former air force sergeant N Tharmendran submitted a note of demand to the Defence Ministry urging its minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to give written guarantee that no armed forces personnel will attempt to arrest him. It also also urged the minister to take action against those who were attempting to take Tharmendran back to air base and those who had tortured him when he was in custody.

On June 17, Tharmendran's father claimed that his son was tortured while in custody by senior Royal Malaysian Air Force officials and made to confess to stealing two jet engines.

On July 8, Tharmendran was released from Sungai Buloh prison after posting bail. However, his family claimed that there were attempts by the air force to bring him back to the air base.

Fearing the prospect of being illegally taken to the air base, Tharmendran applied to withdraw his bail and voluntarily surrendered himself to the custody of prison officials.

Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran, who accompanied Tharmendran's father N Nagarajah to the ministry, said: “Tharmendran ceased to be an air force personnel since May 28.

“But we were recently made aware that the air force is trying to get him back to its air base. This is unlawful.”

MPs S Manickavasagam (Kapar), Zuraida Kamaruddi (Ampang), Tian Chua (Batu), and lawyers Latheefa Koya and N Surendran were in the procession to hand over the note of demand.

Lawyers and MPs denied entry

The group was earlier denied entry into the ministry premises by military police which irked Zuraida who lambasted them.

“We are the people's representative but yet you are not even giving us the courtesy by letting us in,” said Zuraida.

After several deliberations, the ministry sent its corporate communicatons officer K Raveendran to receive the note at the ministry's entrance but the lawmakers refused to hand over the note to him.

“We are not here to do business. We are here on an issue of national concern,” Manogaran told Raveendran.

Then the military adviser to the minister, brigadier-general Dzahir Abd Rahim came to receive the group, eventually allowing them into the ministry premises for a meeting at 11am.

After 20 minutes, the group returned and said they were disappointed that the minister or the deputy minister was not around to receive them.

Manickavasagam said that Dzahir could not guarantee Tharmendran's safety. “He did not even say when he was going to hand over the note to the minister. Tharmendran's well-being is still at stake.”

CWC upholds sackings of KP Samy, Barath Maniam

By B Nantha Kumar - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC's all-powerful Central Working Committee (CWC) today upheld the sackings of two party veterans V Subramaniam and KP Samy. Whereas the fate of the other two sacked members, former MIC Youth deputy chief V Mugilan and ex-CWC member G Kumar Amman would be decided at the next CWC meeting.

Subramaniam, the former Petaling Jaya Selatan MIC division chief, was given the boot after he had disclosed to the media an exchange of mobile text messages between him and party president S Samy Vellu.

Samy Vellu had axed the MIC veteran, popularly known as Barath Maniam, based on his presidential powers, an action which some had called undemocratic.

Following this, Mugilan, KP Samy, who is also a CWC member, and G Kumar Amman were also sacked by the president.

Mugilan was shown the exit for criticising Samy Vellu and asking him to step down, while the other two were sacked for openly supporting the call.

In the aftermath of this episode, Mugilan and his disgruntled comrades started the Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu or GAS campaign calling on the president of three decades to step down.

Despite the media hype, GAS had failed to burn as brightly as expected.

KP Samy: This is a new chapter

Speaking to FMT later, KP Samy said the CWC's decision did not come as a surprise, but warned that it could spell doom for Samy Vellu.

“Samy Vellu has just opened a new chapter in my life. However, this is going to expedite his downfall,” he added.

KP Samy, who is a close associate of Samy Vellu's arch nemesis and former deputy S Subramaniam, also predicted a bleak scenario for Barisan Nasional.

He claimed that Samy Vellu would now be more vigorous in playing caste politics and this would cause BN to lose Indian votes.

“It is now up to BN to address this matter,” he said.

Are SMS detrimental?

Meanwhile, Barath Maniam had told the CWC this morning that he was expelled based on Article 61.2 of the MIC constitution.

Article 61.2 stressed that the president could act against any member, in consultation with his deputy, if a complaint was lodged with the president that a member had spoken or acted in a manner detrimental to MIC.

In view of this, Barath Maniam asked if there was a complaint lodged against him.

“If the answer is 'yes', then who is the complainant and what was the nature of the complaint?” he added.

Answering the questions himself, Barath Maniam said: “The president himself was the complainant and the judge. Does this not contradict Article 61.2?”

The MIC veteran also wanted to know how the exchange of mobile text messages could be deemed detrimental to the party.

“Based on the above submission, I sbmit that my expulsion by the president via a letter dated May 10 and received on May 12 contravenes Article 61.2 and is hence null and void,” he said.

“Therefore I seek my reinstatement as a member and all positions. I leave it to your goodselves to put on your thinking cap on the points raised by me,” he added.

In another development, the CWC, chaired by vice-president Dr S Subramaniam, also agreed to accept former PPP Youth leader T Murugiah and his supporters into MIC.

Give Tamil schools direct funding, Khalid urged

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

SHAH ALAM: The Tamil Schools Parents' Association in Selangor is demanding that the RM4 million state government allocation for Tamil schools be channelled directly to individual schools’ Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and not via irrelevant third parties.

The association president S Murali (photo) said the 400-member strong association also wants Tamil school affairs to be handled by the state executive councillor in charge of education, and not by irrelevant excos.

He said the demands would be highlighted in an eight-point memorandum on the development of Tamil education in Selangor.

He said the memorandum will be submitted to Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim in the next few days.

Explaining their reasons, Murali said the PTAs were in a better position to manage the funds, which are state allocations under the Tamil Schools Development Fund, as they have first-hand information of their respective schools’ needs.

Selangor has 97 Tamil schools.

The Pakatan Rakyat Selangor government allocated some RM4 million in annual funds last year for development programmes to Tamil schools.

However, only RM2.4 million of the allotted sum was dispersed directly to schools.The remaining RM1.6 million was channelled to three non-governmental organisations, namely the Education Welfare Research Foundation (EWRF), Tamil Foundation and Child Information Learning and Development Centre.

It’s learnt that the money was allotted to the three NGOs to carry out Tamil education development programme in the state.

For this year, the state government recently approved similar funds to be dispersed among Tamil schools and NGOs.

Unhappy with exco's work

Murali said the association was against the state government’s decision to divert part of the funds for Tamil schools to the NGOs.

He suggested instead that the state government allot separate funding for these NGOs while dispersing the whole RM4 million directly to the schools.

“We don’t understand why the money for Tamil schools is being diverted to these NGOs. Such diversion of funds is not happening in allocations for Chinese and religious schools,” Murali told FMT.

The memorandum will demand that Khalid's government walk his talk on multiracial governance by assigning only the state executive councillor in charge of education, higher education and human capital development portfolios, currently Halimah Ali, to handle Tamil school affairs.

Murali said the association members were strongly against the current arrangement in which another state executive councillor Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, who is in charge of health, plantation workers, poverty and compassionate government, is made responsible for Tamil school affairs.

Several PTA leaders criticised Khalid for emulating typical Umno-MIC politics by giving the mandate to an irrelevant Jeyakumar to distribute allocations for Tamil schools.

It’s learnt that Jeyakumar, formerly a dentist by profession, has close links with the three NGOs receiving the annual funds.

The state government cyber information portal, SelangorKini online, has disclosed that “Xavier is active in EWRF.”

Tamil school PTAs in Selangor have also expressed their dismay with the manner Jeyakumar has been handling the Tamil schools' issue.

“Although Tamil school affair is not his business, he is trying to promote himself as the Indian leader in the Pakatan government and state PKR," said several PTA leaders, who spoke to FMT in anonymity for fear of Jeyakumar's backlash.

They fear Jeyakumar would sabotage funds to their schools if he knew their identities.

Jeyakumar was not available for comment despite numerous calls made and text messages sent to him over the past three days.

Free land sought

The memorandum would also demand the state government allocate free land to all landless Tamil schools in Selangor and change land title ownership to the schools, which are already sitting on government land.

Murali said his association would demand that the Pakatan government include all Tamil schools into the state's mainstream national school development programme.

“In short, we want the Pakatan state government to be different from BN,” said Murali.

Copies of the memorandum are expected to be distributed to all executive councillors and elected representatives in Selangor and, the state and national PKR leaders as well.

PKR MPs, lawyers demand Mindef guarantee ex-airman’s safety

Tharmendran’s father, Nagarajah (centre), and the group were initially barred from entering the defence ministry compound.—file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — Three PKR MPs and lawyers of former air force sergeant, N. Tharmendran, handed over a letter of demand to the Ministry of Defence here today, seeking a guarantee for his safety from possible abduction.

Following the former military officer’s expressed fears of being abducted by Royal Military Air Force (RMAF) officers, parliamentarians Zuraida Kamaruddin, S. Manickavasagam and M. Manogaran, along with lawyers N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya, had sought Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zaid Hamidi’s “guarantee” of Tharmendran’s safety.

Earlier, a ruckus had ensued when military personnel refused them entry into the defence ministry’s compound in Jalan Semarak this morning.

“How can you do this to us? We are elected representatives... at least let us in so we can talk with the minister or his deputy. You can’t let the victim’s father stay outside, he’s 72-years old,” said Surendran, referring to Tharmendran’s father, N. Nagarajah.

After a few minutes, military advisor to the defence minister, Brig-Gen Dzahir Abdul Rahim came out to greet them and allowed the entire party inside to discuss the matter further.

“We came today to hand over a letter of demand to the defence minister, which was received by his military advisor, Dzahir. Since July 8, 2010, after Tharmendran was released from Sg Buloh prison, there have been attempts by the air force to take Tharmendran into their custody.

“On July 16, 2010, just two days before his trial, four armed forces personnel turned up at Tharmendran’s parents’ home with instructions to bring him back to the air base.

“On the morning of the trial on July 19, several air force men unconnected with the trial were seen waiting outside the courtroom,” Surendran told reporters following the meeting.

Tharmendran previously claimed that an air force “major” who allegedly tortured him, as well as nine other RMAF officers under the “major’s” command, were also present at the court building during his hearing earlier this week.

The 42-year-old former air force sergeant had also alleged in a police report that four RMAF officers had visited his parents’ house in Seremban last Friday to abduct him.

Surendran maintained that the fear of being unlawfully taken into custody had pushed Tharmendran to “withdraw his bailor” and voluntarily surrender himself into the custody of prison officials.

The lawyer said that the air force had no legal authority to take Tharmendran into custody, as his service had expired on May 28, 2010, and produced Tharmendran’s salary slip as proof.

“We demand that the minister immediately issue a written guarantee of Tharmendran’s safety from arrest or interference by the air force or its agents.

“Action must be taken against those responsible or implicated in the unlawful attempts to take Tharmendran into custody, and those involved in his torture to extract a confession,” said Surendran.

“We are going to the prime minister’s office next week and we will bring this up. We are not going to keep quiet,” Manickavasagam chimed in.

Tharmendran returned to prison this week after losing his bid for a court protection order against Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) officers he claims intend to abduct him.

Nagarajah subsequently withdrew his bail on his son’s behalf after the Sessions Court rejected the application.

Tharmendran was charged in January this year for the theft of two RMAF F5-E jet engines.

However, he has since denied stealing the fighter jet engines, claiming instead to have been tortured by military officers to force a confession from him saying that he had been responsible for the theft.

The former airman also alleged that he was dragged, stripped down to his underwear, thrown into a freezing cold room, and made to admit repeatedly that he was guilty.

He also claimed to have been made to don a crash helmet before being hit with a cricket bat and a golf club three to four times a day.

'BN does number on estate workers... again'

By B Nantha Kumar and G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today

FMT EXCLUSIVE LUKUT: Workers at Siliau Estate, near here, are angry with the Barisan Nasional for being fork-tongued in its pledges.
During the Bagan Pinang by-election last year, the BN government had promised to build as many as 150 low-cost houses under its Hardcore Poor Development Project (PPRT). The houses were to be sold to the estate workers.

But less than a year later, BN went back on its word saying that it had never promised to sell them the PPRT houses but merely pledged to rent them to the workers.

During a recent visit to the estate, FMT discovered that few, if any, knew that the PPRT houses were not for sale.

Said K Chandra, 42, a palm oil harvester: “I don’t know anything about this. They did not tell us that the houses were for us to rent. They told us we could buy them.”

Chandran, however, did not seem surprised at BN’s about-turn on the election promise.

“I am not shocked or upset. We all heard BN promise to sell us the houses. If it does not fulfil its promise, our votes won’t go to BN anymore,” he said.

He said there were now 30 families in the estate. The rest had left and were working outside.

"But we are still close and keep in touch with each another. So it's not easy to break the Siliau estate population for political purposes," he smiles.

He also said the estate people were not staunch BN supporters and had only given BN a chance in the by-election to see if it would keep its promises.

“If BN fails to fulfil its promise, more than 400 voters will turn to Pakatan Rakyat,” he said, adding that most of the estate workers had sent their applications and documents to buy the PPRT houses by the end of this February.

“We filled up the forms and attached the necessary documents. The MIC branch chairman himself collected the forms from us,” said Chandran.

Unfair deal

Another harvester, C Puspavalli, said it was not right that the BN “change its words” now that it had won the by-election.

“I am very disappointed because once the BN said it wants to sell the houses to us, now it wants us to rent. This is not fair at all.

"During the Bagan Pinang by-election, MIC promised that the houses would be sold to us.

“After the BN won the election, the local MIC chief met us and gave us several forms to fill so that we could buy the house.

“But he did not collect back the forms although he stayed only two rows in front of my house," she said.

A mistake

MIC secretary-general and state MIC leader T Rajagopalu could not be reached for comment.

However, Negri Sembilan exco member and MIC's elected representaive VS Mohan, when contacted, said the Housing and Local Government Ministry made a mistake in announcing that the houses were not for sale.

"We have already informed the ministry and brought the matter up to Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hassan.

“There was a mistake… normally PPRT houses are only for rent and not for sale but the Ladang Silau PPRT project is an exception, which the Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin himself had announced.

“So, I feel the estate workers need not worry or be concerned about the matter,” he said, adding that he will meet the estate workers soon to explain the situation.

Fascinated by Japan, but fixated on the West

By Josh Hong - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT A few days ago, a seminar was organised by the Perdana Leadership Foundation (PLF) to pay tribute to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s “thoughts” on the West. Was it not a bit like the Halliburton Foundation hosting a dinner “in honour of” both George W Bush and Dick Cheney for a war that went horribly wrong in Iraq?

Anyway, Mahathir’s Japan-oriented policy was a prime model of success, according to one Ahmad Murad Merican. But what success was this Universiti Teknologi Petronas lecturer talking about?

After a quarter of a century, Proton is still practically a jaguh kampung (village hero), not to mention all the Umno-linked conglomerates single-handedly created by Mahathir along the lines of the zaibatsu, the Japanese counterparts, that succumbed to the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

Most of the so-called Look East Policy graduates are absorbed by various government agencies or government-linked companies (GLCs), as Japanese companies in Malaysia prefer to hire those who have pursued tertiary education on their own in Japan.

Ahmad Murad, however, was right to say that the former prime minister has great admiration for the Japanese, especially when one considers how Malaysia under Mahathir was thrown into a never-ending nation-building process and a state under construction.

New buildings were mushrooming regardless of their eventual occupancy, while contracts were constantly being churned out by Umno to plaster the country with roads, highways and bridges to nowhere. Perhaps I should also mention bus stops that no buses pass by.

This was exactly how the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had been ruling Japan until it was routed in the general election last September.

Route to modernity

For years, Mahathir was fascinated by the LDP’s firm hold on power, and secretly hoped to replant the model in Malaysia. His party ended up exactly where the LDP has been over the last few decades: plagued with cronyism and factionalism.

Those who shared their observations at the seminar might have attempted at being apologists for Mahathir, but there is no disguising the fact that the man’s eyes were fixated on the West, his consistent pleas for Malaysians to learn from Japan notwithstanding.

Owing to his humble origins and rejection by the British colonial government to study in London, Mahathir would become so egoistic that he would use Japan as a route to modernity.

But his ultimate destination has always been clear: a modern, prosperous and powerful Malaysia just like the United States, not Japan.

To Mahathir, Japan was merely a means to an end, hence his shallow understanding of Japanese culture. He also appears to be least interested in Japanese history, let alone the important Meiji Restoration that propelled the island state to modern nationhood.

Mahathir's perception of Japan

Hishammuddin Rais, the fun-loving and prolific Malay writer, wrote recently that people have two perceptions of Japan: a ruthless pre-war militarist and a smart post-war businessman.

As far as Mahathir is concerned, he only sees the latter for obvious reasons. He may go around the world deriding western countries for erstwhile colonialism and imperialism, but would fall strangely silent when it comes to Japanese war crimes during World War II.

The sheer quantity of eyewitness evidence that the Imperial Japanese Army did commit war crimes deliberately and systematically always escapes Mahathir.

Given his anti-western rhetoric, his indifference to American, British, Australian and New Zealand prisoners of war (POWs) is expected (such as the Parit Sulong Massacre in Johor in which close to 200 Australian, British and Indian POWs were brutally killed).

But why would he have chosen to gloss over the Nanking Massacre and the insane shootings of dozens of Gurkha guards at Alexandria Hospital in Singapore? Was it because the victims happened to be Chinese and Gurkhas, and the crime scene China and Singapore?

Most unfathomable is Mahathir’s efforts in the past to defend Japan by arguing that the country has repented of its war atrocities, although much of the world knows the contrary is true.

At the end of World War II, nearly 4,000 Javanese labourers had been tortured to death while being forced to work to build an airfield in Sandakan, Sabah, for the Japanese army. Not a word of this shocking episode was mentioned in Japanese textbooks.

Meanwhile, there is now strong evidence of Malay women forcibly recruited by Japanese soldiers to serve as sex slaves in Malaya. How could a vocal Malay nationalist have overlooked this?

He even went on to co-author a book, 'The Voice of Asia', with Shintaro Ishihara, a nationalist, revisionist and racist. Ishihara was eager to reclaim the pride of Japan by orienting Japan’s foreign policy away from the US, and Mahathir indulged in the dream of himself standing tall among the world’s great leaders.

At one time, Mahathir’s anti-American sentiments were boosted by a prospect of Tokyo-centric Asia, but geopolitical realities bound Japan so tightly with the US that military decoupling was virtually impossible – former prime minister Fukio Hatoyama became the latest victim the moment he moved on the US bases in Okinawa.

It again exposed how naïve Mahathir had been to envisage an independent-minded Japan, a result of his lack of insight into the country’s chequered past since the visit by Commodore Perry in 1852.

Then came the financial crisis that brought both countries to their knees. These days, Mahathir can only reminisce the good old days when he was a darling of the business and political elites in Tokyo.

For all the overtures that he made to the Japanese, it is rather pathetic that none of the institutes or universities in Japan sees it fit to acknowledge and study his “ideas and thoughts”.

Which is perhaps a reason why such a task is now left in the hands of the PLF. But would someone at the PLF remind its honorary president that Japan, too, was once an imperial and colonial power?

Josh Hong enjoys the peculiar habit of being perpetually sceptical of public figures. While he agrees with Friedrich Dürrenmatt that nobody is more inclined to become a murderer than a fatherland, he also believes those addicted to race, religion and ideology are perfidious instigators.

New dam built in Kudat but no water source

By Queville To - Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: Standing tall on an arid piece of land in Kudat is a dam that has cost the government RM300 million to build. Construction on the multi-million-ringgit project began five years ago and it is now almost complete.

It looks sturdy and well-built and appears like it could do what it was built to do -- hold sufficient water to quench the thirst of the district. But therein lies a problem. There is no water source anywhere in sight.

Now, the Sabah DAP has expressed grave concern that the soon-to-be-completed Milau Dam near Sikuati in the northern-most district of the state may end up as yet another white elephant.

Its concern was based on the fact that without a viable water source, the dam must depend on rain.

A downpour is a rarity here, considering that Kudat is known to be the driest place in Sabah.

Sabah DAP chief Hiew King Cheu made the observation following a fact-finding inspection by him and several DAP leaders at the project site last Saturday.

He said the inspection was prompted by some concerned local residents who doubted the feasibility of the project.

Hiew said he was told that the project was first proposed some 15 years ago, but never got off the ground due to strong objections and criticism from the people there who said there was no water source in the vicinity.

Nevertheless, the project started on Aug 1, 2005, and was supposed to be completed by the contractor on Jan 31, 2008. But extensions were granted and it is now estimated to be 99% complete.

Gross waste of public funds

The dam is supposed to supply water to the water treatment plant located a few kilometres away next to a small stream.

A new pipeline was also constructed to connect the treatment plant to the existing pipeline from Kota Marudu to Kudat to alleviate the perennial water shortage in the Kudat district.

“What is the use of the dam when there is no water source? Just depending on the rain will not be sufficient to supply the whole of Kudat district. This could well end up as another 'white elephant' project by the Barisan Nasional government,” Hiew said in a statement today.

Hiew, who is also the Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament, said the dam was a glaring example of gross wastage of public funds.

He asked how the BN government could allow such a harebrained and wasteful project to go ahead and at the same time claim that it was cutting subsidies to the people to save money.

Hiew also claimed that compensation payments had not been fully disbursed by the state government to the affected villagers for the land acquired.

“We received many complaints during the visit. It is understood that the kampung folks received only about 75% of the compensation," he said.

"Why can’t the state government settle the payment quickly?” he asked, saying that it was a well- known fact that the people in the district are among the most deprived in the state.

PKR leader surrenders laptop to cops

Zefry Dahalan - Free Malaysia Today,

SEREMBAN: PKR supreme council member Badrul Hisham Shaharin has surrendered his laptop computer to the police.
Badrul, who is being investigated over a blog posting, handed over his lap top computer to investigating officer ASP Sulizmie Affendy Sulaiman from the Seremban 2 district police headquarters here.
The PKR leader went to the police headquarters around 5.30pm yesterday, accompanied by his supporters, and Paroi state assemblyman Mohamad Taufek Abdul Ghani.
Earlier yesterday, a police team went to the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya to look for Badrul's laptop computer but the raid was called off after it was discovered that there were defects in the search warrant.
Met by FMT as he was leaving the police headquarters, Badrul said the investigating officer had quizzed him for nearly an hour regarding the laptop computer.
Badrul added that he was also photographed holding the laptop computer.
"They told me that they would keep the laptop computer for forensic investigation and return it to me after a few days," he said.
The Rembau PKR chief expressed disappointment that despite giving the police his full cooperation, they were still “disturbing and pressuring” him over a simple case.
"I'm amused by the antics of the police... I have admitted that I was the author of that particular posting in my blog. I was gentleman enough to admit, so why the need for them to be unprofessional,” he said.
The blog posting, which is being investigated under the Sedition Act, is alleged to have insulted the royal institution.
Meanwhile, Mohamad Taufek claimed that the police are attempting to instill fear in Pakatan Rakyat leaders in order to stop them from writing the truth.
"I believe this is a fear tactic, but it would not be successful. We would keeping fighting for justice and the truth,” he said.

Peguam Bala serah SPRM afidavit petang ini

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Julai — Detektif persendirian P. Balasubramaniam akan menyerahkan afidavit,  menjawab 52 soalan berkaitan maklumat terbaru kes pembunuhan wanita Mongolia, menerusi dua peguamnya kepada Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM), petang ini.

The Malaysian Insider difahamkan kedua-dua peguam Balasubramaniam (gambar), Americk Sidhu dan Manjeet Singh Dhillon akan menyerahkan afidavit itu bagi pihak anak guamnya.

“Kami secara peribadi akan menyerahkan jawapan ini kepada SPRM pada pukul 2.30 petang ini,” kata Americk kepada The Malaysian Insider pagi ini.

Difahamkan Manjeet kembali ke ibu negara bersama afidavit itu semalam.

Siasatan SPRM ini berkisar pada elemen rasuah berhubung kes pembunuhan wanita Mongolia ini.

Minggu lalu Americk memberitahu The Malaysian Insider bahawa afidavit detektif persendirian itu yang mengandungi respons kepada 52 soalan berhubung maklumat terbaru kes pembunuhan Altantuya Shaariibuu akan diserahkan kepada SPRM minggu ini.

“Jawapan sudah disediakan... (seorang lagi peguam Balasubramaniam) Manjeet akan membawanya ke Kuala Lumpur minggu depan (ini),” kata Americk.

The Malaysian Insider difahamkan sebelum ini SPRM memberikan tempoh kira-kira sebulan kepada Balasubramaniam untuk menjawab jawapan secara bertulis.

Difahamkan soalan-soalan itu berkaitan dengan elemen rasuah berhubung kes pembunuhan Altantuya dan akan membolehkan SPRM melengkapkan siasatan mereka berhubung aduan dibuat Ketua Angkatan Muda Keadilan Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin ekoran pendedahan Balasubramaniam menerusi temu bualnnya di Singapura akhir tahun lalu.

Balasubramaniam awalnya mahu mengadakan pertemuan bersemuka dengan pegawai-pegawai kanan SPRM di London pada 5 Julai lalu tetapi rancangan itu dibatalkan oleh suruhanjaya tersebut kira-kira enam hari sebelum itu.

Tindakan mengambil keterangan secara akuan bersumpah atau afidavit itu diperuntukkan di bawah Seksyen 30(1)(c) Akta SPRM 2010.

SPRM membatalkan rancangannya untuk bertemu Balasubramaniam di London atas alasan implikasi undang-undang terhadap proses merakamkan percakapan saksi di luar negara.

Ketika ditemui Ahad lalu, Pengarah Siasatan SPRM Mustafar Ali berkata pihaknya akan menemui saksi-saksi susulan jika wujud keperluan selepas meneliti afidavit Balasubramaniam berhubung maklumat terbaru kes pembunuhan model wanita Mongolia.

“Kalau ada keperluan lagi, kami akan memanggil mereka yang diperlukan... kalau ada keperluan,” kata beliau.

Sehubungan itu beliau enggan mengatakan sama ada siasatan terbaru ini akan selesai sebaik sahaja SPRM menerima afidavit daripada Balasubramaniam.

Mustafar juga mengakui bahawa Balasubramaniam adalah saksi penting yang diperlukan untuk melengkapkan siasatan ini.

Time to remove the grids

By Koh Lay Chin | The Nut Graph,

WITH five decades under his belt as an actor, director, drama teacher, voice-over artiste and writer, Mano Maniam is best known as a local theatre and television veteran. But Mano, 65, is more than just about theatre. In many ways, he is a modern-day renaissance man.
(All pics below courtesy of Mano Maniam)
(All pics below courtesy of Mano Maniam)
He has been a teacher and scholar at both local and American universities, and was the recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Artiste Award in 2000. On top of that, he’s a keen environmentalist, having been a long-time member of the Environmental Protection Society of Malaysia, and a former director of the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia.
In an interview with The Nut Graph on 15 July 2010 in his neighbourhood Brickfields, Mano explains why he has much hope for the country.
TNG: When and where were you born?
I was born in Ipoh in 1945, at the tail end of World War II. My father was the only son of immigrant parents, and he was in his mid-teens when the war broke out. He was part of the Indian National Army, which was against the British in India.
Sometime around 1943, there was this big move by Japan to build a railroad from Japan to India, with the intent of entering and saving the country from the British. My father was very enthusiastic. Eighteen at the time, he wanted to go up to this railway and be part of this movement, like many Southeast Asians.
Mano with his younger brother, father and mother in 1951
Mano with his younger brother, father and mother in 1951
My grandmother heard that all bachelor volunteers were being sent. So she thought that if she got him married off, he would be spared from being called up or from being on the front line. And so, the search was immediately on the next day to look for a suitable young Indian girl to marry my father.
As for my mother, she was a young, pretty girl, and her parents were scared because anyone who was pretty and young were (shrugs) for the Japanese. She was sent to her grandmother’s homestead in Kopisan outside Ipoh, away from prying eyes. But one day, a Japanese patrol was seen in the vicinity. Right away, [the family] started looking out for a suitable male.
So both families met, and there was an immediate liking. In the second meeting, my 18-year-old father and 14-year-old mother spied each other and nodded their heads. Two years later, I was born.
Both my parents’ sides were from what is now northern Tamil Nadu. I think I am the last generation which still has some kinship links. If you consider a Malaysian as one born here, then I am a second-generation Malaysian through my father, and third-generation through my mother.
What are some of the stories you hold dear, or which have made an impact on you?
The real education came from the people around me, including my family. There was communal living and there were always other children about the same age group within and outside the extended family. The war was just over, and there was a baby boom.
We learnt among our peers. I remember clearly when I was four or five. We were still in the 40s, there was nothing much to do. There was the Saturday night tamu, predecessor to today’s night markets. People would bring all their farm produce and sell them under carbide lamps there, and boys would meet girls.
With his theatre 'son', on the set of 'Shakuntala' in 1982. The boy was Huzir Sulaiman in his theatre debut
With his theatre 'son', on the set of 'Shakuntala' in 1982. The boy was Huzir Sulaiman in his theatre debut
The main attraction was the sandiwara performances on a central raised stage, incandescent lighting and all. Us boys from the neighbourhood would faithfully turn up, hold on to the edges of the stage, and let our senses gobble up the motions, stories, colours and sounds from bangsawan, mak yong and dikir barat to the chronicles of Hang Tuah.
That’s when my theatre started – the interest in the arts, those transformations and the magic. Us boys would always get together to re-enact what we saw, putting our little twists here and there. That is where I realised the importance of storytelling, because it is through stories that we pass on our cultures, values and attitudes, our histories, fears, passions and everything that makes us human.
How did your childhood affect your identity as a Malaysian?
I had to be reminded later as we grew up that Hamid was actually Malay, and that my best friend Ah Ching was Chinese. All these things were later-day realisations.
It is true when people say that we grew up in a time when it didn’t matter one bit. We would go to each others’ homes and we were part of the same thing. Everyone spoke Malay as the common language, and each had his [or her] own language; and soon, we were able to speak in English when we started schooling, and the whole world unfolded [before] us.
And then came Independence, which sort of put grid lines on this emerging fabric. You are in this square, you cannot go into that square. You need to have this amount of application forms to go to the next point. PSD (Public Service Department) scholarships, for example. Everything now needed permissions, barriers, transitions, jumping through hoops. Bribing, prostituting yourself one way or the other in order to get to where you wanted to be.
Whatever I am, whatever gained, learned, or experienced, is a direct or indirect consequence of my growing up in this land, which became mine [and then I became hers]. I saw it happening, I was part of that process. I feel it a prime duty to plough back whatever I have learnt to others who missed that process – the transition from a colonial possession to a new independent modern nation.
I feel planted here. I’m a tree with deep roots, like many people, like (environmentalist) Gurmit Singh and others. You are not going to budge us. You are not going to bring in a silly OSA (Official Secrets Act) or a water canon to change our minds.
In 'At a Plank Bridge' in New York City, 2003
In 'At a Plank Bridge' in New York City, 2003
What kind of barriers or “jumping through hoops” did you experience?
The first time there was a shock to my system was when I was a first-year undergraduate of Universiti Malaya. In those days, they had this infamous, horrible thing called a Certificate of Suitability, which one needed to join university. It had to be given by the nearest police station to your house. How could a police [officer], who did not know you, tell [if] you were suitable for education? What right has anyone to tell me whether I have the right to education or not?
The second shock was when I was in university and active in sports. I became UM’s football goalkeeper, and the team was going to Thailand to play. We had to apply for a group passport. But I was cut off. I was told by immigration officers that I was a stateless person. My parents did not have their original birth certificates which were lost in the war, and even though they had statutory declarations and I had my original birth certificate, I was not eligible to be a citizen. And so [my team] went to Thailand, and I didn’t.
How did that affect you?
It affected me because up till that time, my generation was it, man. We were the first generation of people who went to university, and even though it didn’t cost very much, my family had to scrimp and save to get me there. And suddenly you get a slap in the face to say you’re out.
Nobody was willing to help me; they were nasty. That had an indelible effect on me. It did not make me hate the system as much as it made me want to change the system. I didn’t want others to go through it.
What gives you hope for this country?
All said and done, we Malaysians are actually a bunch of pragmatists. We compromise, and we have this ability to avoid self destruction, like a cat falling on its feet. We have never seen war, or real deprivation.
Our 13 May was one day’s blast in Baghdad. Over there, it happens three times a week, and here we have that one blot in our collective memory. Since then, we have learnt how to cope with it, despite the Perkasas and ex-prime ministers who have perverted views of the collective Malaysian miasma.
After a lifetime playing the king in 'The King & I', Mano played alongside Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fatt in the 1999 Hollywood version, but as Moonshee, Anna Leonowens's servant
After a lifetime playing the king in 'The King & I', Mano played alongside Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fatt in the 1999 Hollywood version, but as Moonshee, Anna Leonowens's servant
My academic forte is actually cultural anthropology, and in 1976, I said that by the 21st century, we would become the world’s laboratory in the creation of a global citizen. I called him [or her] the cultural quadrophile. The quadrophile is Western-thinking, speaks in English, knows Shakespeare. He [or she] likes Chinese food, knows how the Chinese think and has their inventiveness. He [or she] also understands the philosophy and the tastes of the Indians and the vast cultural base that they come from. Lastly, he [or she] has access and the password to Mesopotamia through his [or her] Islamic routes.
So you have an alchemy of all these currents and bases to produce a cultural hybrid facing four corners. That is the universal man [and woman] being bred in this country. That is why I think the young are so important. Malaysia is not just the slogan “Boleh”. We can see in all four directions and understand them, and that is our real value. We have the resources, we have everything going for us, and we have the English language to boot.
What is stopping us? Perverted thinking, short-sightedness and the drawing of those grid lines. I think it’s time for a makeover.

What Anwar Ibrahim’s Trial Means for Asia


Anwar Ibrahim is one of the most enlightened and visionary political leaders in Asia and yesterday former U.S. Ambassador John Malott argued persuasively that the US should stand with Anwar Ibrahim. I could not agree more. Malott writes in the Wall Street Journal (July 19, 2010):

“Already convicted by the government-controlled media, Mr. Anwar and his defense team have been denied access to the evidence that the government possesses, including police and medical reports, surveillance tapes, and even the witness list. Malaysia does not have a jury system. The verdict will be rendered by one judge, appointed by the same government that wants to remove Mr. Anwar from the political scene.”

“While a handful of human rights groups and some Australian parliamentarians have condemned the trial, there has been little interest at the broader international level. The Obama administration has been silent.”

“When I visited Malaysia last month, it was clear that Mr. Anwar and most observers expect a guilty verdict in August. At that point, the question is whether he remains free on bail during his appeal or is jailed immediately.”

“A charismatic campaigner, Mr. Anwar led his coalition to near victory in Malaysia’s last parliamentary elections in 2008, when the opposition took 47% of the popular vote and gained 62 seats. The government’s new political game plan seems to be to put Mr. Anwar in jail and the opposition in disarray, call snap elections, and ride to victory.”

This is an important issue that deserves more coverage and attention at all levels. Mr. Malott’s conclusion rings true to me:

“In 1998, Mr. Anwar said, “If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.” That is no less true today. If Mr. Anwar is denied his freedom, then Malaysians will continue to be denied their freedom and the country its promise.”

Malaysia in the Era of Globalization #24

By M. Bakri Musa

Chapter 4: Modern Model States

The Asian Miracle – South Korea (Con’td)

The Koreans were diligent learners; they bested the Japanese. The hard-working Japanese looked lazy in comparison to the maniacal Koreans, so complete and successful the emulation.

The headlong rush towards industrialization carried a heavy social toll. With resources diverted towards heavy industries and the military, precious little was left for social development. Housing prices hit the roof and prices of common consumer goods spiraled up. These social problems were compounded by Parks’ increasingly authoritarian rule and the menacing activities of his Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that seemed to have learned only too well from the excesses of its American counterpart. Legitimate students’ and workers’ protests were brutally suppressed, turning their victims into martyrs.

These fissures in Korean society were exacerbated with the inevitable economic slowdown. In the end Park’s own CIA chief assassinated him in 1979. Park’s social policies offended many civil libertarians but the results of his economic strategies were impressive. And with the tangible successes, the Koreans acquired the confidence to proceed to the next stage of development.

Following another period of political crisis, General Chun Doo Hwan seized power. Aware of his limitations on economic matters, Chun proved to be a diligent and fast learner. He was smart enough to choose seasoned economists trained at prestigious American universities as his advisors. These economists, stooped in the tradition of America’s free enterprise, steered Chun to make major adjustments more in line with modern economic realities. Some of Park’s more ambitious projects that simply did not make much economic sense were either shelved or scrapped, and the Korean economy was gradually liberalized.

Unfortunately Chun suffered a severe setback when North Korean agents assassinated many of his senior advisors in Rangoon in 1983. And like his predecessor Park, Chun’s administration was also mired with repeated scandals of corruption, often involving his immediate family. In the end he too was forced out.

Having liberalized its financial institutions, Korea began to attract foreign money. But these new foreign funds began shifting from direct investments in factories and plants to short-term capital inflows that merely fueled the stock market. Buoyed by Korea’s economic successes and buoyant equity market, foreign lenders were eager to lend and the Koreans equally willing to borrow. The government implicitly encouraged this by lowering interest rates and fixing its currency to the dollar.

Alas, success brought with it its own excesses and evil. With the inevitable overcapacity and the developing Asian economic contagion that began in Thailand in June 1997, Korea too was caught in the maelstrom. These “hot money” fled as fast as they came, leaving Korea and its heavily indebted industries and chaebol in deep financial crisis.

With International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) help, the 12th largest economy was saved from default; so too was the world’s economic system. But that help came with some very stiff terms. Korea had to raise its interest rates to usurious levels, shut down excess capacity, and further liberalize its system. The effects of the remedy are such that to Koreans the acronym IMF stands for “I Am Fired!” Today South Korea has substantially recovered from those dark days of 1997, aided no doubt by the painful structural adjustments imposed by the IMF and the sheer grit and determination of its leaders.

Korea’s recent economic turmoil was often described in apocalyptic terms. A reality check is in order. It was never in any danger of collapsing, but its overeager lenders at Wall Street were, as they were so vulnerably overexposed. Besides, even if the country were to default and its economy collapse, Korea would still have its highly educated and entrepreneurial workforce, the discipline of its people, and all those wonderful infrastructures. And to top it, the political will of its leaders.

The recent setbacks notwithstanding, Korea’s achievements are truly remarkable. Here was a country with no natural resources, been colonized, and then occupied by a foreign army, becoming a top economic power in just one generation.

Volumes have been written on the South Korean phenomenon. Many attribute it to the mysterious and of course superior “Asian values” and Confusion ethics. Alas these pat explanations have ready debunkers. North Koreans too had similar values and ethics, but that did not land them far. In North Korea that same Confucionism gives rise to paranoid xenophobia. Nor can the champions of free markets claim much credit because the government was heavily involved in central planning and in the economy. These are anathema to free market advocates. Indeed the Soviets too would be pleased with Korea’s own series of Five Year Plans.

The Koreans do have something going for them – their respect for learning and value for education. Korea rightly emphasized education, not just any type of education for that could have easily ended up producing highly educated taxi drivers and petition writers as in India, but one that emphasizes the sciences, mathematics, technology, and English. Eager bright Korean students inundate the graduate schools of leading American universities. They are keen on learning from the best. While many countries are content merely with sending their students out, one of the Korean chaebols hired the entire Johnson Business School at Cornell to train its executives!

This heavy emphasis on education is remarkable considering that the nation was also spending heavily on defense. The Korean obsession with education mimics the Japanese, complete with their own version of “cram schools.” The whole country was consumed with education and learning. It is said that during the annual final examination season, the flight path at Seoul’s old Kimpo airport had to be diverted lest the noise would disturb the students! So intent were the Koreans with their cramming that the government had to ban extra-hour tuition so as to give everyone a fair shake. It turns out that the rich were spending inordinate sums on private tuition for their children, putting those from poor families at a distinct disadvantage.

Such obsession with rote learning and passing tests has its breaking point. Today many Koreans are sending their young children abroad for high school simply to escape the meat grinder that is the Korean system. Families had to sacrifice much to do this. Many a Korean father is leading a lonely life back home while their wives are abroad accompanying the children – all to spare their children the torture of attending a Korean school!

A more recent and dramatic phenomenon has pregnant Koreans flying to America to give birth so their babies will have automatic American citizenship. This of course will come in handy when these babies are ready for high school and college. Talk about long term planning!

While the world may sing praises for the Korean educational system, the Koreans themselves are not impressed with it.

Many Koreans, especially those with highly desirable qualifications in the sciences and engineering from elite Western universities, stay abroad to work. After they have scaled the corporate ladder they would be enticed back home to start their own ventures, with generous funding from the state. The initial attempts at attracting expatriate Koreans were clumsy and unsuccessful. Besides, they were busy enjoying their freedom and newfound affluence. To make matters worse, to most Koreans abroad, their memory and image of their homeland were colored by the notorious activities of their CIA in harassing their countrymen.

To their credit, the Korean leaders persisted and eventually overcame the suspicions of young Koreans abroad. Indeed when these leaders visited America they never failed to meet and entice these young Koreans to return home. To many Koreans who were incognito in America, the chance to be wined and dined by their head of state and the promise to be somebody back home was indeed giddying. Many took the offer and successfully contributed to their homeland.

I remember seeing how flattered my Korean colleagues were with the attention they received from visiting Korean dignitaries. The South Korean success spawned many imitators; other Asian nations including Malaysia are now belatedly trying to attract their own nationals to come home. Unlike the Koreans however, Malaysia has yet to learn the fine art of friendly persuasion.

My first experience with this new economic clout of modern Korea was in the early 1980’s. IBM had just released its wildly successful personal computer. Assembled from off-the-shelf parts, the PC was not only a hit with consumers but also carried an obscenely high profit margin for its maker. I was about to buy one when our neighbor showed us his new machine made by an obscure Korean company and at a fraction of IBM’s price. I rushed to the store only to find that the entire stock had been sold with only the floor model left.

That company, Leading Edge, was started by one of those returning Koreans. For a while it humbled mighty IBM. Like South Korea, Malaysia too sent thousands of young students abroad. Unlike the Koreans, Malaysians were doing mainly undergraduate studies, often in the arts rather than science and engineering. Further, while the Koreans gravitated towards top rank universities; Malaysians chose the least competitive institutions. And unlike the Koreans, Malaysians rushed home as soon as they received their degree, to establish seniority in the bureaucracy! Malaysian students did not value American work experience.

Mark Clifford in his book, Troubled Tiger, attributed Korea’s success to its government having its fundamentals right. Korea has a high level of literacy especially for science and mathematics; high savings and investments; discipline and hard working citizens; and a strict program that helps curb its population growth. Clifford’s observations deserve scrutiny because he was among the first to raise the issue of the vulnerabilities of the Korean success story. His book was published in 1994 while the world was fast running out of superlatives to describe South Korea.

Clifford rightly zeroed in on Korea’s weakness: corruption being the way of life from Rhee’s time till today. Corruption is inevitable whenever the state is very powerful and heavily involved in the private sector. We could only marvel how far the Koreans would have been today if only their system were less corrupt.

On a more general note, the American economist Paul Krugman also voiced his skepticism on the sustainability of the Asian economic miracle. In a particularly prescient article in 1994, he predicted that the spectacular economic achievements of many Asian countries were essentially a one-shot affair. Krugman was proven right not long after that. The Asian economic contagion swept through the continent in 1997.

Housewife Withdraws Contempt Suit Against IGP

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 (Bernama) -- A housewife from Muar withdrew her contempt suit against Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan after she was released from Batu Gajah Drug Rehabilitation Centre for alleged drug trafficking.

Counsel Datuk N. Sivananthan, acting for the applicant, Lim Mui Cheng, 42, told the High Court that his client was released on July 16.

Senior Federal Counsel Datuk Datuk Kamaludin Md Said, who appeared for Musa, informed the court that the Home Minister had signed a letter for her release but she would still be subjected to a further investigation.

He added that Lim's release had nothing to do with the suit.

Justice Datuk Ghazali Cha allowed the withdrawal application.

On July 2 Ghazali allowed Lim to cite Musa for contempt after police rearrested her despite being freed by the court in May this year.

On May 25, Justice Datuk Mohd Sofian Abd Razak allowed her writ of habeas corpus application on the ground of irregularities in her detention and ordered for Lim to be produced in court on May 27 to be freed.

However, she was rearrested after she stepped out of the court.

Lim was arrested along with her husband, son and her son's girlfriend on suspicion of drug trafficking in a raid at a house in Taman Mawar in Muar on April 27.

The housewife was placed in custody at the Johor Jaya police station under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act while the others were freed within two days of the raid.

RMAF hostel: Tussle over federal-local powers

An RMAF hostel under construction in Tanjung Bunga, Penang, has been the site of another tussle between federal and local authorities.

View Larger Map
This time, according to a source, federal authorities allegedly refused to acknowledge Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) jurisdiction for the proposed hostel, located along Jalan Geh Chong Keat, until last month.
The construction of the hostel for RMAF trainees was carried out without a building plan/building permission approved by the MPPP, said the source.
After receiving complaints from neighbouring residents, the MPPP intervened and stopped work.
After months of inaction, the ministry agreed to abide by MPPP requirements. The building is now already completed and awaiting its OC.
“Clearly this shows how the (local authority) is being disregarded,’” said a source familiar with the problem. He said there are three other cases of similar tussles over jurisdiction namely, the Botanic Garden, and problems in Balik Pulau and Permatang Pauh.
An MPPP councillor explained that under the Town and Country Planning Act, the local authority needs to be consulted about federal projects. And under the Local Government Act, the council is given authority to approve or reject plans.
”I am sure there are other cases of federal projects going ahead without MPPP permission or approvel,” she said, citing the case of an ongoing school project in the Dato Keramat area. “But in the case of schools, we have no heart to adopt a hard line.”

India's Israeli-Arab tightrope walk

 By Ramananda Sengupta- Al Jazeera

India has traditionally endorsed and espoused the Palestinian cause [GALLO/GETTY]
"We do have a defence relationship with India, which is no secret. On the other hand, what is a secret is what is the defence relationship. And with all due respect, the secret part of it will remain secret." - Mark Sofer, Israel's ambassador to India, in a recent interview given to
India and Israel were born within months of each other. While the former became an independent state on August 15, 1947, the latter was born on May 14, 1948, following the decision of the United Nations to partition British Mandate Palestine.
India, which had opposed this partition, remained officially cold to the Jewish state. In May 1949, it voted (in vain) against the admission of Israel into the UN. In early 1950, after recognising the state of Israel, a visibly reluctant New Delhi allowed it to set up an "immigration office" in the port city of Mumbai. This eventually morphed into a "trade office" and then into a consulate.
But New Delhi dithered over according full diplomatic recognition to Israel until early 1992, when the two nations formally opened their respective embassies in Tel Aviv and New Delhi.

Pro-Arab leanings
Indian foreign policy in the early days after its independence was heavily pro-Arab, partly due to the fact that India has a huge Muslim population which empathised with the Arab world and viewed Israel with suspicion and distrust. But that was not the only reason.
Almost a decade before independence, the father of the Indian freedom movement, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, had clearly articulated his position on the issue. In an editorial in the Harijan, a widely circulated Indian weekly, on November 11, 1938, Gandhi declared: "My sympathies are with the Jews ... but my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me ... Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood? Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home."
India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, agreed. Nehru was among the founder members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), along with Presidents Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia and Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt. This relationship with Nasser and other Arab members of the movement made it difficult for Nehru to align openly with Israel. Besides, while the NAM was an attempt to stay non-aligned during the Cold War, Israel was seen as too closely aligned with the US.
Another reason for India's coldness towards Israel was that, after independence, a large number of Indian workers migrated to the Gulf. The money that they sent back to India formed a sizeable chunk of India's foreign exchange inflow.
This foreign policy position laid out by Nehru and Gandhi was challenged, however, by opposition parties in India from both ends of the political spectrum; they consistently argued for better relations with Israel.

Establishing relations
Although formal relations between India and Israel were established only in 1992 during the tenure of Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, informal relations in the areas of defence and intelligence had commenced long before that. It is interesting that Rao, who was prime minister from June 1991 to May 1996, also aggressively wooed Iran, a nation which did not recognise Israel's statehood, preferring to describe it, instead, as "the Zionist regime".
India's historically hostile relations with Pakistan are often cited as a key reason for the India-Israel defence and intelligence link. But military aid from Israel (mostly in the form of artillery shells) was received by India even during the 1962 India-China border war, which ended only when the Chinese unilaterally withdrew to their pre-attack positions.
Before Rao officially recognised Israel in 1992, Indian and Israeli intelligence officials often met surreptitiously in third countries, particularly after the India-Pakistan war of 1971.
During that war, which led to the birth of Bangladesh from Pakistan's eastern wing, Israel again helped India with mortars and ammunition. One of the Indian heroes of that war was the then eastern command chief, General JFR Jacob - a Jew.
Then, during the Kargil war of May-July 1999, when India attempted to repel Pakistani intruders who had taken up positions on the higher reaches of the Kargil mountains, Israel quickly sent Heron and Searcher unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to locate and identify the Pakistani-held positions. It also supplied ammunition for the Bofors field guns and night vision equipment, both of which played key roles in the conflict.

Endorsing Palestinian cause
Yasser Arafat, the late leader of the PLO, made several visits to India [GALLO/GETTY]
Paradoxically, India also, simultaneously, endorsed and espoused the Palestinian cause. On its website, the Indian ministry of external affairs says with regard to its relations with the Palestinian people: "India's empathy with the Palestinian cause and its friendship with the people of Palestine have become an integral part of its time-tested foreign policy. In 1947, India voted against the partition of Palestine at the United Nations General Assembly. India was the first non-Arab state to recognise the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organisation] as sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. India was one of the first countries to recognise the state of Palestine in 1988. In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the Palestine Authority in Gaza. The office was moved to Ramallah in 2003."
The founder and chief of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, had made numerous visits to India, where he was always received warmly. In April 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Arafat's headquarters in Tunis after a state visit to Libya. When Gandhi was assassinated a few months later by her bodyguards in New Delhi, a shocked Arafat wept in public.
One might wonder how New Delhi reconciled these seemingly irreconcilable positions. It did so by getting the Palestinian Authority on board. Zikrur Rahman, the Indian representative to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, told the London-based Al-Haqeq newspaper on 12 May 2007: "When we recognised Israel and normalised relations with her, we did that after taking the approval of the Palestinian leadership; we said, after you agree we'll recognise [Israel] .... The Palestinian leadership told us: 'There are signed accords between us [and Israel] and we are now talking to the Israelis; your establishing relations with Israel helps us.'"
India has also been consistently contributing huge sums of money as grants for budget and development aid to the Palestinian Authority. A recent example took place during the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to India in February 2010.
On that occasion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a grant of $10mn as budget support to the Palestinian National Authority. This followed several earlier grants of similar amounts, as well as assistance with the development of schools, stadiums, roads and hospitals. India also trains Palestinian diplomats.

An 'unwritten axis'
Over the years, however, the India-Israel relationship has burgeoned into a situation where Israel is poised to become the largest defence supplier to India, a position currently held by Russia. Israel also trains Indian special forces, which are then deployed in the troubled region of Kashmir and in India's north-east areas.
Apart from strategic and military interactions between the two nations, Israeli sensors and satellites are used extensively to monitor the Kashmir border to detect infiltration by insurgents from Kashmir and Pakistan.
The events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent "war on terror" served to further strengthen this relationship. So did the 26 November 2009 Pakistani terrorist strike in Mumbai. The three-day ordeal left some 200 people dead and more than 300 wounded. Six of the dead were Jews at the Chabad House, a Jewish centre near Nariman point, which was specifically targetted.
But it is not just defence and security that India and Israel collaborate on, though those sectors form a huge, though mostly secret, chunk of bilateral relations. India is also increasingly using Israel's sophisticated drip irrigation technology to boost agricultural production. Non-military bilateral trade stood at $4.2bn in 2009, up from $200mn in 2001. Information technology, telecommunications, energy, chemicals, agriculture, and even real estate and space exploration are areas where there are significant business exchanges.
India recently put an Israeli satellite into orbit. The two sides already have several joint working groups, committees and other bilateral institutional mechanisms. Key among these are foreign office consultations, counter-terrorism, defence cooperation, trade and economic cooperation, agriculture, science and technology, and a dialogue between national security advisers.
While officially tight-lipped over nuclear cooperation, the two states clearly share deep concerns about the possibility of nuclear proliferation by Pakistan, as well as Iran's nuclear ambitions.
In September 2003, during the visit to India by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (the first such visit by an Israeli prime minister), his deputy (now late) Yosef Lapid told journalists that an "unwritten, abstract" axis had been created between Israel, India and the US. While there was no "formal triangular agreement ... there is mutual interest of the three countries in making the world a more secure place for all of us. There is American support for development of this unwritten axis," Lapid told reporters in New Delhi. Therefore, "in the abstract sense, we are creating such an axis".
In a talk delivered at the Indian Council for World Affairs the same day, he warned that both nations face threats from terrorism and "fanatic" Muslims, and said the "moment terrorists laid hands on nuclear weapons the face of the world will change".

Noting that Israel had accepted the possible existence of a Palestinian state, Lapid said this could become a reality the moment "Arabs stop terrorising us". At the same time, the strengthening of Indo-Israeli ties should not be a "disturbing factor" for Arab countries, and "the Indian government has a right to establish relations with any country," he added.

Arabs 'losing India'
The Mumbai attacks brought India and Israel closer together [GALLO/GETTY]
"What made India change its mind and throw itself in the arms of a country that occupies Arab and Palestinian land, to the point where it has played host to Ariel Sharon?" asked Mustafa El-Feki, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Egyptian parliament, and a former Egyptian ambassador to India, in an article in Al-Ahram Weekly.
"India and Israel have their own separate political agendas. India wishes to have access to US and Israeli technology, particularly in the development of weapons. Israel, for its part, wishes to have the political backing of a powerful nation," he wrote.
El-Feki pointed to several reasons for this cosy relationship between India and Israel.
First, we have made the error of viewing the Indian-Pakistani conflict from an Islamic perspective. We have tried to "Islamise" the ongoing conflict in South Asia, posing as protectors of Islam and custodians of the international community. And we have overlooked the regional role of India, with Arab leaders showing up in New Delhi much less frequently than before.
Second, he wrote, was the rejection of India's application for membership of the OIC. "A country with 120 million Muslim citizens applied for membership and what happened? Islamic countries, in typical naiveté, rejected the Indian application, imagining this would please Pakistan and teach India a lesson," he said.
Third, according to El-Feki, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, India moved closer to the US for both political and economic reasons. He argued: "I wouldn't be surprised to see India assume the role of a policeman in the Indian Ocean and the outskirts of the Gulf, with US blessing and with the aim of encircling so-called Islamic violence. This would be in harmony with Israel's agenda, and it may pave the way to a scheme of joint control over the Greater Middle East."
Making a strong case for an even-handed Arab approach towards India and Pakistan, the former ambassador to India recalled that during his time in India, the Palestinian ambassador to New Delhi enjoyed the privilege of meeting the Indian prime minister at any time he wished to do so. But as the Islamic phenomenon spread and some Arab policies acquired a religious tint, India grew visibly suspicious of the Arab and Islamic worlds. To make things worse, Arab diplomacy in India was lackadaisical over the past two decades ... We have lost India so far for no good reason, I should say .... It is time we mend this error. It is time to bring Arab countries closer to both India and Pakistan, rather than take one side or keep our distance altogether. I believe the Arabs have only themselves to blame for India's change of heart on the Palestinian question."

'Enlightened self-interest'
Despite the rapidly increasing synergy with Israel, however, India continues to enjoy reasonably cordial relations with the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council. India has been attending the annual Arab League summits as an observer since 2007, and the first Arab-India Cultural Week was held in New Delhi in 2008.
In a statement released on the eve of the 65th anniversary of the Arab League on March 27 this year, the League declared: "There is a need for collective and dedicated efforts for strengthening Indo-Arab ties with further building up of relations between India and the Arab world, including in the fields of Science and Technology, Education, Health, Telecommunication and Energy."
As far as the Gulf Cooperation Council (UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar) is concerned, while New Delhi enjoys reasonably cordial ties with the individual states (which supply almost 70 per cent of its oil and energy needs), attempts to forge a free trade agreement with the Council have been held up due to issues over whether oil should be part of the agreement.
India's current prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has often described the country's growing relationship with the US, as well as the recent endorsement of US/UN sanctions against its long-term ally, Iran, as acts of "enlightened self-interest". Many in his government use the same phrase to describe the relationship with Israel.
India - and Israel - have taken pains to spell out that this relationship is not at the expense of India's relations with the Arab states. Indian diplomats and politicians keep pointing to the fact that India has publicly condemned Operation Cast Lead, Israel's name for the blistering three-week long attack on the Gaza Strip in late 2008-early 2009.
India also joined in the international condemnation of the May 31, 2010 pre-dawn Israeli attack on the Turkish Ship Mavi Marmara, which led the "Gaza Freedom flotilla" carrying humanitarian aid for the people of the blockaded Gaza Strip. Nine people were killed in the attack by Israeli commandos.
"India deplores the tragic loss of life and the reports of killings and injuries to the people on the boats carrying supplies for Gaza. There can be no justification for such indiscriminate use of force, which we condemn. We extend our sympathies to the families of the dead and wounded. It is our firm conviction that lasting peace and security in the region can be achieved only through peaceful dialogue and not through use of force," said a statement from the ministry of external affairs.
But while successive governments in New Delhi have been quietly trying to maintain and develop India's relationship with Israel without overly antagonising the Arab world, there are times when the stress shows. Take, for instance, the article written by recently-removed minister of state for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, in January 2009. Tharoor was India's candidate for the UN secretary general's post in 2006. He quit after losing to Ban Ki-moon, and joined Indian politics. The syndicated column, distributed worldwide, was run by Israel's Haaretz newspaper with the title: "India's Israel Envy". The article, which coincided with Israel's operation Cast Lead, caused an uproar, both domestically and internationally.
During his election campaign in March 2009, the opposition used the article to imply that Tharoor endorsed the Israeli military operation in Gaza. Earlier, several Arab diplomats in New Delhi also voiced their concern, asking whether Tharoor's article reflected the ruling Congress Party's position on Israel.
Tharoor was subsequently forced to write another article defending himself, and clarifying that he had not endorsed Israel's military campaign in Gaza, and pointing to what he regarded as his long and consistent pro-Palestinian stand during his stint at the United Nations.

India-US relations
Another critical factor in the changing Indo-Israeli relationship is the rapidly developing ties between India and US. Given the strong US-Israel relationship, New Delhi does not want to rock the boat by openly antagonising Israel. Besides, the Indian diaspora in the US, which is growing increasingly active politically, admits to looking at the American Jewish Council (AJC) and America Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) as role models. As one analyst put it, India and Israel move closer together each time the India-Pakistan conflict escalates.
Officially, New Delhi insists that this relationship does not signify a change in its position on Palestine, or its ties with the Arab world. Privately, however, Indian diplomats point to the fact that despite numerous Indian overtures, the Arab world consistently backed Pakistan's position on Kashmir, while Israel endorsed the Indian stand.
In 2003, after Ariel Sharon's visit to India, then Indian foreign minister Yashwant Sinha had tried to allay Arab fears by telling the Pakistani newspaper The News: "The fact that Sharon visited New Delhi in no way makes us complicit to what the Israeli are doing or saying. We have explained our position with regard to Palestinian cause in very clear terms as indeed we have done repeatedly to Israel."
Responding to a question on India's relations with the Arab world, particularly in the context of Israel's decision to expel PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Sinha said: "I don't think Palestinians are in any doubt about Indian policy. The problem arises only with those people inside India and outside India who are more Palestinian than the Palestinian themselves."
Recently, a senior Indian foreign ministry official (who requested anonymity) remarked when quizzed on the status of India-Arab relations: "We are very keen to maintain friendly relations with both the Arab world and Israel. But it would help us a lot if the Muslim world took a more nuanced stand on Pakistan and Kashmir."

Ramananda Sengupta is the chief editor of the Indian news website

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

This article was first published by the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.

Moorthy case: MAIWP acted in bad faith, court told

Moorthy case: MAIWP acted in bad faith, court told

(Malaysiakini) In the ongoing battle surrounding Mount Everest climber S Moorthy who was buried as a Muslim despite his widow objections, the lawyers of the bereaved S Kaliammal has accused the Federal Territory Religious Council (MAIWP) of acting in bad faith (mala fide) when it obtained an ex-parte (based on a single party) order from the Syariah Court to declare the deceased a Muslim.

moorthy high court 271205 kaliammanCounsel M Manoharan told the Court of Appeal today that MAIWP's application was made suddenly and with haste, on Dec 21, 2005 just one day after Moorthy's death without informing his client Kaliammal (right, in photo), thus depriving her of her right to be heard.
Manoharan said this during submissions for Kaliammal's application to reverse an earlier High Court decision in Devember 2005 to dismiss her bid for a declaration that Moorthy was a Hindu at the time of his death.
"This ex-parte order may also cause the non-Muslims to fear, because the Syariah Court seems to be trespassing in areas which it has no jurisdiction. In this case it has denied Kaliammal her rights," said Manoharan when approached by Malaysiakini after the conclusion of the Appeals Court hearing today.

The earlier High Court decision was made by judge Mohd Raus Sharif based on the ex-parte order from Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court, which ruled that Moorthy, also known Mohamad Abdullah, was a Muslim and thus his religious status was out of the Civil Court's jurisdiction.
Kaliammal filed an application for a judicial review of the decision in January 2006, but had to wait nearly two years because M Manoharan had subsequently been detained under the Internal Security Act.

"We want the case to be sent back to the High Court and be heard again based on merit," said Manoharan.

He contends that as Kaliammal is a non-Muslim, the Civil Court must be the court to try the case, and not the Syariah Court which is exclusively for Muslims.

"She wants to (establish) the religious status of her husband at the time of his death," he explained.

temple demolition court case 260307 m manoharanManoharan (left) in his submission criticised the MAIWP for using the "the back door" ruling of obtaining the ex-parte order, when they really should have brought their evidence - that Moorthy has converted to Islam - to the Civil Court to be heard and ruled on

At this juncture the bench requested the lawyer to rephrase his words, whereupon he changed the term "back door" to "without telling anyone", to stress what he maintained was the stealth of the move by the MAIWP.

Manoharan also claimed that they have evidence in the form of affidavits that will prove that "at all material times" Moorthy was a Hindu, evidence which he says was never heard by the High Court in making its earlier dismissal of their application.

'Only doing our job'

However Sulaiman Abdullah, the lead counsel for MAIWP, which is named as the first respondent in the appeal, strongly refuted Manoharan's allegation that the council had any bad intentions.

"The council was only trying to do its job in difficult circumstances," said the counsel.

Sulaiman also argued that Mohd Raus had ruled correctly in declining jurisdiction, as the matter of the religious conviction of a Muslim ultimately falls under the powers accorded to the Syariah Court, as provided for by the constitution under 'powers accorded to the state'.

Senior Federal Counsel Mohamad Nasir Bin Disa, lead counsel for the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital and the federal government – the second and third respondents respectively - also denied that the application for the Syariah Court order was made without Kaliammal's knowledge, saying that nothing in her affidavit said that she was unaware of the matter.

Counsels for both the government and the religious council maintained that they have informed Kaliammal of their intention to seek the order, but she "did not avail herself" to cooperate with them.

"We met her and told her that we are going to get the order, but she and her lawyers said that they will not have anything to do with the Syariah Court," he added when met by Malaysiakini after the court had adjourned.
Judgement on Aug 6
Both the counsels for the religious council and the government are asking that the court set aside the appeal, but has decided not to ask for costs.

After hearing the submissions from both sides, the Appeal Court judges who presided over the case - Zainun Ali, Wahab Patail and Clement Alan Skinner - fixed Aug 6 to announce their judgement.

"We have listened to all the points, but it will take several days of deliberation for us," said Zainun.
Moorthy was part of Malaysia's 1997 Mount Everest team and one of two members who reached the peak.

His death and subsequent Muslim burial in 2005 sparked an ugly row among Muslims and non-Muslims, exposing conflicts in Malaysia's dual-track civil and syariah law.