Share |

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Eight 'foreign doctors' killed in Afghanistan

The eight killed are believed to have been working in the province of Nuristan.






Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Ten people -- six Germans, two Americans and two Afghans -- were killed by gunmen in Afghanistan about 15 days ago, police said Saturday.

The gunmen stopped the victims on a road, took their belongings and shot them one by one, said Aqa Nwor Kentoz, police chief of Badakhshan province.

One Afghan was released because he was reciting excerpts from the Quran, Kentoz said.

The foreigners were believed to have been doctors, according to the police chief. The group of 11 was traveling in three vehicles from Panjshir province to Badakhshan province.

News about the deaths trickled from a local shepherd, who discovered the bodies on Wednesday, to villagers and then to Afghan police.

The International Assistance Mission issued a statement saying the victims were "likely" members of the group's eye camp team.

"The team had been in Nuristan at the invitation of communities there," the international mission said.

"After having completed their medical work, the team was returning to Kabul. At this stage we do not have many details but our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those who are presumed killed. ... Some of the foreigners have worked alongside the Afghan people for decades."

Guan Eng defends Muslim countries, calls Soi Lek ignorant

Lim: Muslim countries are suffering from the same problems suffered by India and China previously.
GEORGE TOWN, August 7 — Lim Guan Eng today said he differed strongly with Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s portrayal of Muslim countries as backward and corrupt nations, pointing out that the MCA president should educate himself on Islamic civilisation. The Penang chief minister said Dr Chua should educate himself in history that the civilisation of Islam was filled not just with global empires, but also with glory in art, learning, algebra and astronomy.
“Muslim countries are suffering from the same problems suffered by India and China previously,” he said today at the launch of Caliph Umar Abdul Aziz International Integrity Conference at Eastin Hotel here.
“Only when India and China were free, independent and not dominated by imperialistic powers, were they able to realise their potential and take their place in the world stage,” he added.
Dr Chua had said yesterday that some of the most corrupt countries in the world had a Muslim-majority.
He also appeared to criticise Umno as well as PAS yesterday for using religion to compete for Malay support. Dr Chua blamed this on how the country had been trapped as a “middle income” nation for more than 10 years, claiming that the competition between the two Malay-centric parties had led to some “non-progressive policies”.
Lim said today that Muslim nations could recapture their past glories like India and China, if they were allowed to be similarly unshackled like the two countries.
Later at a press conference, Lim told reporters that Dr Chua was just trying to distract the attention from the real root of the problem, which he said was Umno.
“Don’t blame it on Islam; I think that’s not fair,” he said, adding that Dr Chua should instead ask “serious questions” to Umno on issues such as sports gambling and on “kalimah Allah”.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was also at the press conference, agreed with Lim.
Anwar said Dr Chua “had clearly displayed ignorance and arrogance” over his remarks.
“In my mind this is unacceptable of a party leader in the coalition,” he said, adding that leaders who wish to save the country must strive to increase their knowledge.
He also said that it was important for non-Muslims to understand the contributions of the Muslim community and vice versa.

Minister calls offer 'good', but residents want terrace houses

By B Nantha Kumar - Free Malaysia Today,

PUTRAJAYA: Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam has urged the Bukit Jalil residents to accept the new offer from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL). However, a representative of the residents, K Balakrishnan, said they want terrace houses and not the low-cost flat units offered to the 41 families.

One of the families had accepted the offer to purchase the RM80,000 flat unit at a discounted price of RM35,000.

Balakrishnan also denied that the minister had met the former estate workers 16 times, saying that there was only one meeting between them.

“The last we met him was on Aug 2. During that meeting, Subramaniam said he cannot help us regarding the planned demolition of our houses,” he told FMT.

The DBKL had made the new offer after the residents refused to budge from their homes. They vowed to fight against the demolition even if it meant facing the police's anti-riot personnel.

On Thursday, the residents sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister's Office and several others asking that they be given more time to consider the new offer.

Time extension

Following this, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had instructed that the demolition be put on hold until an amicable solution was found.

Meanwhile, Balakrishnan said by asking for a time extension, it did not mean that the residents would be taking up the offer.

“Our request has always been for terrace houses similar to the ones given to the former Kinrara estate workers. Are we not qualified to own terrace houses?” he asked.

During a press conference yesterday, Subramaniam said his ministry was willing to negotiate with the residents.

He added that his ministry was prepared to work with the Federal Territories and Urban Well-Being Ministry to resolve this issue.

As for the new offer made by DBKL, Subramaniam said: “It is a good offer and sould be accepted by the residents.”

The BN’s projects

Shape of a Pocket by Jacqueline Ann Surin | The Nut Graph,


“SATU lagi projek Barisan Nasional”. That’s the tagline that often graces billboards announcing projects that the BN government has funded. It’s a tagline often used during elections to help the ruling coalition convince voters of its commitment towards development.
But after yet another unnecessary police crackdown on peaceful demonstrators protesting 50 years of the Internal Security Act (ISA) on the night of 1 Aug 2010, one can’t help but be cynical, like others, about the tagline. The way the police acted, it was as if wearing red, the colour of the anti-ISA protest, was a crime. Holding a candle was also a crime. Chanting “Mansuh, mansuh. Mansuh ISA” was clearly a no-go. Waiting outside a police station to ensure that the arrested were eventually released deserved the threat of being water canoned and arrested.
Anti-ISA demonstrators in Petaling Jaya on 1 Aug 2010
Anti-ISA demonstrators in Petaling Jaya on 1 Aug 2010
Indeed, satu lagi projek BN. After all, the police are not acting independently of the Umno-led BN government. Indeed, the home minister, whom the police are answerable to, is no less than Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. Still, repeated police abuse of power, partisanship and incompetence isn’t the BN’s only project worth noting.
Other BN projects
The BN, in particular Umno, has other projects it seems only too proud to initiate and perpetuate.
Banning ideas, views, even research
Banning books and ideas is one of its favourite offerings to the rakyat. When Sisters in Islam (SIS) took the home minister to court for banning its academic publication, Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism, it was because the organisation saw no other way to hold the BN accountable. The High Court overturned the ministry’s ban in January 2010, and predictably, the government is appealing the court decision.
SIS isn’t the only party that has been compelled to take on the BN government in court. Cartoonist Zunar and Malaysiakini have also mounted a legal challenge to the ministry’s ban of Zunar’s 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun. And before that, K Arumugam took the government to court for its 2006 ban on his Tamil-language book March 8, but failed in his bid.
Unfair advantage
Don’t even think of questioning government policy when it comes to Malay Malaysian privileges and the administration of Islam in this country, even if all Malaysians are affected by these unfair policies.
“Don’t play with fire,” Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Mazlan warns DAP Member of Parliament Tony Pua for suggesting that Selangor should do away with bumiputera discounts for high-end properties. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak echoes a similar caution, as if Pua’s asking for affirmative action to only be given to the truly deserving were an act of agitation. And in typical fashion, some members of Umno Youth have since filed a police report against Pua for being “provocative”.
In the meantime, “Allah” is off-limits to non-Muslims even if it’s only in Malaysia that Muslims, who do not have copyright over the word, seem confused by its usage by other faith communities. And the MCA should not speak up against the government’s monopolistic claim of the word for Muslims less they be seen as being the same as the DAP.
Ploys, promises and pretense
Remember when Najib first assumed the country’s No.1 office and promised to lead a “caring government”? There would be greater press freedom, he declared. The ISA would be reviewed, he promised. The people would be united and diversity respected under 1Malaysia, he said. And race-based affirmative action would be replaced to make way for a merit-based approach that is transparent and competitive, he vowed.
Promises, promises, promises. Press freedom hasn’t improved at all. The online media were blocked from attending a press conference at the prime minister’s office right after Najib became premier. Since, two TV journalists have revealed that there is state-directed censorship in both private and public TV stations. Malaysiakini has been investigated under the Communication and Multimedia Act for reporting honestly and accurately on the cow-head protest. And the threat of closure was used against the press so that the unjust administration of Islamic law would not be questioned.
And while the government is due to table amendments to the ISA at some point because Najib promised that his administration would do so, the BN is clear that it will not remove the state’s power to detain without trial. Indeed, there are currently 16 people detained under the ISA without trial. Fourteen of them were detained after the government promised to be caring and review the law which allows for indefinite arbitrary state detention.
Additionally, the government has remained mum about reviewing the Emergency Ordinance (EO) and the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA), which also allow for state detention without trial. As of February 2010, Suaram says 819 people are being held under the EO, while another 412 are incarcerated under the DDA. That brings to a total more than 1,200 known individuals that the state is detaining without trial.
Be grateful
Malaysians have been told before to be grateful for all that the BN has done for the nation. Without the BN, there would be no development, no peace, no prosperity.
Do we still buy into that? Will we continue to?
Perhaps we need to start considering that it wasn’t the BN who paid for the development we enjoyed. It was taxpayers’ monies. In fact, there’s ample evidence that it was because the BN managed these projects that the cost of projects became inflated and the consumer is today forced to pay increasing tariffs for services like water and highways.

And surely, it also time for us to remember that the BN’s projects have not all been about development and prosperity. Too many of the BN’s projects are about stifling dissent, abusing power and silencing different views, even in the name of Islam. Too frequently, many of the BN’s projects violate fundamental civil liberties in the name of peace and prosperity for which we are then asked to be grateful.
For certain, there’s no guarantee that the Pakatan Rakyat wouldn’t be exactly like the BN if they were in power for more than half a century, and if there were not enough checks and balances to hold them accountable. It is incumbent on citizens to constantly keep any government and all politicians in check. For now, though, isn’t it about time we told the BN we’ve had enough of their projects?

Biggest flaw in Soi Lek’s new-fangled theory is whether he would back down from it when pressured by UMNO

By Lim Kit Siang,

The main objective of MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek’s new-fangled theory that Malaysia had been trapped for a decade as a middle-income nation because of “non-progressive” competition between UMNO and PAS is to pass-the-buck and disclaim MCA responsibility for the deplorable state of the Malaysian nation 53 years after Merdeka to the extent that one Cabinet Minister had warned that Malaysia could go backrupt in the year 2019!

However, the biggest flaw for Chua’s new-fangled theory is whether he would back down from it when pressured by UMNO!

In the first place, Malaysia had been stuck in a middle-income nation trap for some two decades and not just the past 10 years – as admitted by the New Economic Model that since becoming an upper-middle income country in 1992, Malaysia has largely stayed where it is.

Can this be solely explained by the competition between Umno and PAS in using religion to strengthen their influence resulting in “non-progressive policies”?

What is the role of MCA as the second largest component party in the Barisan Nasional coalition in the formulation and implementation of “non-progressive policies”?

When former Prime Minister, then Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad arbitrarily and unconstitutionally declared on Sept. 29, 2001 that Malaysia was already an Islamic state, who were the first to give support to the “929 Declaration” if not the BN component parties of MCA and Gerakan?

The New Economic Model (NEM), which had been abandoned unceremoniously in less than three months although it was proclaimed as the basis of the Tenth Malaysia Plan, had pinpointed the disastrous effects of retrogressive policies causing Malaysia to lose out in the competitiveness stakes of nations, eg: “A disastrous exodus of human capital has flowed from the perception that in Malaysia’s labour markets, rewards have historically not been commensurate with skills, achievements and merits.”

The New Economic Model warned that Malaysia risks being left behind or worse still, suffering a reversal in living standards, unless it implements far-reaching and comprehensive reforms.

The NEM has given the correct prescription when it said that for Malaysia to face up to the challenges of globalization and compete on regional and international scale, Malaysia must retain and attract talent and “be seen by its people and by others as a land of equal opportunity to earn a good living and provide a secure, happy life for each individual and the family”.

This is where MCA failed dismally as a leading component party in the governing coalition, not just in the past decade but the past few decades!

Instead of foisting a political fallacy on Malaysians with his new-fangled theory as to why Malaysia had been being trapped as a middle income nation in the past two decades, the MCA Ministers and leaders should own up to their role in Malaysia’s faltering international competitiveness and defend the NEM prescription of high-income advanced Malaysia with inclusiveness and sustainability with a major overhaul of nation-building policies, by stamping out corruption, ending institutional degradation and implementing affirmative action programmes based on need targeting the 40% of Malaysian households which still earn less than RM1,500 a month.

Mind Your Language On Racial Issues - Former IGP

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 (Bernama) -- Mind your language when deliberating on racial issues.

This advice comes from former inspector-general of police (IGP) Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar.

The man who was the country's longest-serving IGP made this impassioned plea when reminding non-governmental organisations (NGO) to mind their language when discussing racial issues.

He said this was to ensure that whatever words used were not offensive or sensitive to any quarters.

"Every party has the right to issue statements but they should refrain from beginning it with anything that could hurt the feelings of others.

"This does not mean that the statement would not be accepted but each claim or statement made, and the language used, must not be hurtful to others," he said when asked to comment on repeated racist statements made by some NGOs.

He was speaking to reporters after launching the Malaysian Historical Society's 55th annual general meeting here Saturday.

Meanwhile, on a proposal that entertainment outlets be closed during the month of Ramadhan, Mohammed Hanif, who is also Genting Berhad deputy chairman, said it was not feasible.

He reasoned that as Malaysia was a multi-racial country, the move would be unfair to the non-Muslims.

However, it would be possible for entertainment outlets to restrict Muslims from entering the premises during the fasting month, he noted.

A plea: Does Yong Vui Kong deserve to die?


By Nathaniel Tan,

Just wanted to put up my article from TMI yesterday. There’s been a lot of discussion, and of course we respect all views.
I just hope the focus will be on whether Vui Kong deserves the same second chance (which has been granted to a number of drug offenders in Singapore, contrary to popular belief), due to his personal journey both before and after his arrest.
For all those who want to help, 2ndchance4yong.wordpress.com is a great place to start, thanks!
ps- thank you to all who have helped to spread the article. all continuing efforts to spread awareness are truly appreciated.

A plea: Does Yong Vui Kong deserve to die?
AUG 4 — Singapore is entirely within its legal rights to execute Yong Vui Kong.
This young man’s only hope for survival is the clemency and mercy of Singapore’s PAP government, and I am here to beg for it.
I can’t say begging is something that comes particularly naturally, but I do it wholeheartedly and without reservation.
If the Singapore government might be so kind as to hear out some of the possible reasons Vui Kong should be given a second chance, those of us concerned for him would be truly appreciative indeed.
As I understand it, the President of Singapore, SR Nathan, has full discretion to pardon Vui Kong, if he feels he deserves it.
Does he?
All of us have our stories — a tale of how we got from where we were, to where we are. Here is Vui Kong’s.
As disadvantaged a background as can be
Vui Kong was born in a secluded part of Sabah that had no electricity or running water. His father left his mother and his siblings when he was three, after which the family went to live with their grandfather on an oil palm estate.
The grandfather was an abusive man who would beat both Vui Kong and his mum, and force Vui Kong to work on the estate until past midnight.
While his siblings scattered across the country, only Vui Kong stayed with his mother in this small hell, which destroyed what little emotional health the broken family had left to them.
Vui Kong finally left and took what jobs he could find. At one point, he was washing cars for RM3 a day (less than RM100 a month — even if you worked every single day). His mother would eat rice and goreng pisang that cost two sen each.
The rest of us, I’m sure, can barely remember what a one sen coin looks like.
When Vui Kong asked her why she was eating so sparingly, she said she was saving what little she had to give to her children when they got married.
Unable to bear it any longer, Vui Kong moved to KL. “I lived in a place which I am too ashamed to even mention, even now,” he said.
He continued to scrape a living together, despite being underpaid and continuing to face regular beatings from employers.
It was not long before Vui Kong found himself amongst the only people who took him in for their own reasons — street criminals and “big brothers.” VCD selling led to debt collecting; debt collecting led to package deliveries.
Vui Kong was proud to finally be able to buy his mother a small birthday present, only a few days before package deliveries would lead to an encounter with the Singapore police outside the Meritus Mandarin Hotel in Singapore on June 12, 2007.
As far as Vui Kong knew, he was not doing anything worse than smuggling cigarettes, and was not aware of the enormity of what he faced until much later. When he learnt what was going to happen, he broke down. For many days and nights, he cried not just for himself, but for his mother. His family could not bear to tell their mother, for fear it would shatter her already fragile emotional state.
In prison, Vui Kong — not a hardened criminal to begin with — underwent a transformation. He discovered Buddhism, learnt how to read and write, and began a spiritual journey of coming to terms with his condition.
He has not kept his findings to himself, but has exerted every effort through various letters to his family and others to share religious teachings, gratitude and encouragement to his loved ones to spread goodness and peace amongst themselves and others.
Vui Kong has promised that should he be granted clemency, he will personally produce handwritten copies of the sutras along with anti-drug messages. He aspires to become an advocate for drug-free, clean living, and intends to use his experience as a deterrent to others.
Does Vui Kong deserve to die?
So, we are faced with a simple enough question: Does Vui Kong truly deserve to die?
We can explore this question even just from the perspective of what is good for society: Which course of action will likely result in less drug abuse?
On the one hand, we have a potential crusader against drugs — a young man who has a unique insight and understanding into the lives of the foot soldiers in the drug war; an insight the rest of us are unlikely to ever have. A young man already moved to such repentance even without any certainty of surviving the next few weeks.
On the other, some say executing Vui Kong will serve as a deterrent to future Vui Kongs.
Ironically enough, the biggest problem faced by this argument is demonstrated by Vui Kong himself.
An illiterate boy from the most rural parts of the region is more likely to believe his “big brother” when the latter tells him he is merely doing the equivalent of running cigarettes. How would he even learn of capital punishment? Having so little in life, the desperate will risk just about anything.
There is no way a boy like Vui Kong could have been properly educated about the dangers of drug trafficking — except perhaps via the efforts of the kind of crusader Vui Kong wants to be.
The reality is that no amount of dead Vui Kongs will achieve the same amount of deterring effect as one living Vui Kong.
This, perhaps even more than the inability of death penalty advocates throughout history to provide scientific, empirical evidence that the death penalty truly has an actual deterring effect on society in the long run, is what should most persuade us to stay the hand of vengeance.
None of us want the scourge of drug abuse to continue. Some of us also hope that the considerable resources of law enforcement agencies throughout the region can be directed at capturing the multi-millionaire drug kingpins, in addition to the low level foot soldiers.
Until we arrest the bosses and cripple this ultra-lucrative black market, a death sentence will do nothing to stop the waves of Vui Kongs to come.
What if it were our son?
Questions of crime and public policy aside, I cannot help but keep coming back to the life of this one individual — the paths that he has been forced to walk, the suffering he has endured throughout his life, and the deep journey of redemption he underwent in prison.
I suppose the question all of us should be asking — whether we are the President who takes into consideration the nation’s interest, Singaporeans, Malaysians, or any of us lucky enough to walk the world freely — is: If we or one of our own children were born into his circumstances and led his life, would we deserve a second chance?
A second chance to wrong our rights, a second chance to contribute towards society even though one was born into its lowest strata, a second chance to see the sun rise another day, and to love our fellow human beings?
We beg you Mr President, pray consider.

14 & 17 yr olds say slapped, wrists dislocated, kicked by cops

Another case of police abuse. We don’t seem to be doing enough to stop this trend.
I was particularly moved by how this young man was so afraid he would end up like Kugan :(
FMT:
A 14-year-old boy has claimed that he was repeatedly slapped, kicked, and handcuffed till his wrist was badly injured by a police constable when he was arrested for no apparent reason.
The boy further alleged that during detention on Tuesday night, he was threatened and forced to sign a document to “confess” to his crime– sexually assaulting a young girl.
Recounting his traumatic experience, M Mugelen said he was taking a swim with his friends at a pool at the Pantai Hill Park condominium at about 7pm with four other friends when police approached them.
“Four policemen came up to us and one of them asked us ‘who disturbed the girl?’ and we answered we did not,” he said.
“I did not even know the girl, who is about eight or nine years old. Why didn’t they question a group of Malays who were also nearby?” said Mugelen, adding that he suspected the girl’s family had lodged a false report to stop him and his friends from swimming at the area.
Mugelen said he was subsequently slapped three times on the left cheek and all five of them, aged between 14 and 17, were brought to the Pantai police station and later the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.
One of Mugelen’s friends, 17-year-old P Thanasegar, alleged that when he was brought there he was handcuffed to a motorcycle and not given any helmet. He was also allegedly kicked in the stomach.
“At the station, my friends were released but I was left alone at about 10pm. A constable, Yani, with the police number 140179 then asked me what was I doing at the pool. When I answered nothing, he slapped and kicked me. He also tightened my cuffs until I was in so much pain,” said Mugelen. Doctors later told him that his wrists were dislocated.
I cried the whole time and I thought about Kugan, and I became so afraid that I would die like him. The same policeman then told me this was ‘a little bit pain only, wait till you enter prison‘,” said Mugelen. (A Kugan, a suspect in the thefts of luxury cars, was found dead while in police custody last year.)
‘Investigate the constable’

Mugelen said he was later brought to another room where he was asked to sign a document he believed was a confession.
“I was so scared that I just signed it. They told me if I did not sign I will go to jail,” said Mugelen, who stopped schooling since he was 11 as he did not possess a birth certificate then.
Mugelen was relased at 2am the next day after a RM5,000 police bail was paid by his family, but not before he was again kicked by another unknown policeman.

Iranian attorney under diplomatic protection after release in Turkey


Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) -- A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer was under European diplomatic protection Friday after Turkish authorities released him from a detention center for illegal immigrants.

Mohammad Mostafaei had barely made it to his hotel in Istanbul before diplomatic officials rushed to the scene and announced he was not safe. They swept him away in a car for his safety.

"After six days [in detention], I'm so tired I just want to go to my hotel and take a shower," Mostafaei said to CNN. "I feel like I'm still in detention."

He has had to make difficult, life-altering decisions in recent weeks.

The lawyer has been a longtime defender of Iranian juveniles facing the death penalty. More recently, he campaigned to attract international attention to the case of Sakineh Ashtiani, the 43-year-old mother of two who was sentenced to death by stoning after she was convicted of adultery.

On July 24, as activists around the world staged protests against Ashtiani's death sentence, Mostafaei was taken in by Iranian authorities for hours of interrogation. After they released him, he said, he went into hiding.

Around the same time, he said, Iranian security forces detained his wife and brother-in-law. The brother-in-law has been released, but Mostafaei said his wife Fereshteh is still being held in solitary confinement without charge.

"I am extremely worried about my wife and her safety," Mostafaei said in an earlier interview with CNN.

"They [the Iranian authorities] told me if you don't turn yourself in, we will not let your family go," Mostafaei added. "I made a decision, after I saw that they were still going to arrest me and mistreat me, that I must leave Iran. It was a very hard decision."

He added, "The truth is even when someone talks about Parmida and says her name, it's really hard for me to talk and I want to cry when that happens."

Like many other Iranian dissidents, Mostafaei slipped across the border from Iran to the eastern Turkish border town of Van. He blames himself for his detention, which began after he landed at the Istanbul airport from Van.

"It was my mistake. I went to the police officers inside the airport and declared myself as a refugee," he said on Friday.

According to Turkish law, refugees requesting asylum must go through a registration process with the Turkish government and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Normally it can take two years before a refugee is processed and granted asylum in another, typically Western country. But officials at the Turkish foreign ministry told CNN that in Mostafaei's case, he was likely to be granted asylum in a European country within days.

According to the refugee agency's Ankara office, around 4,100 Iranian citizens currently are registered in Turkey and awaiting asylum in third-party countries.

Metin Corabatir, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees' representative in Ankara, estimates that "on a monthly basis there has been an increase of 25 to 50" Iranians requesting asylum, compared with before the Iranian government launched a crackdown on opposition activists following a controversial presidential election on June 12, 2009. Corabatir said 150 to 200 Iranians now request asylum in Turkey every month.

In his conversation on Friday with CNN, Mostafaei expressed concern for the welfare of his imprisoned wife and his daughter, whom he left behind in Iran with her grandmother. He said he also worries about clients like Ashtiani.

"Who else will do my work?" he asked.

Ashtiani, a mother of two, is reportedly still being held in Tabriz prison. Iran's judiciary could reinstate her sentence of death by stoning, execute her by other means, or possibly even grant her a reprieve, according to human rights groups.

CNN's Yesim Comert in Istanbul and Mitra Mobasherat in Atlanta contributed to this report


(Malaysiakini) Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan said he was unsure if his contract, which expires on Sept 12, will be extended for a third time.

When stopped by reporters at a function in Putrajaya today, Musa (above) simply shrugged when asked about rumours of the extention.

"I have no idea about it," said Musa, before walking off.

Musa, 59, has previously had his contract extended for two years in 2007 and was further extended by one year in 2009.

Home Ministry secretary-general Mahmood Adam said they have yet to receive any request for another extension to Musa contract.

“If there is anything, we would know first. But so far there has not been any information (regarding the extension),” he said when contacted.

Rumours of a third extension to Musa's contract had surfaced recently, with talk revolving around the lack of a suitable successor.

The rumours also claim that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his administration are happy with Musa's performance.

No fans among opposition, rights groups

The top cop has been a regular target of the opposition and rights groups, who cried foul over his previous extension for his alleged poor performance and his involvement as the chief investigating officer in PKR de facto chief Anwar Ibrahim's first sodomy trial in 1999.

NONEThe opposition were further incensed when deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (left) had commended Musa, who took the job in 2006, for an “excellent track record” in discharging his duties, in justifying his second extension last year.

Musa's second contract extension drew much criticism, with a group of 23 civil rights groups demanding that he quit for failing to tackle criminal activity, which they claimed went up by 35.5 percent between 2004 and 2008.

His latest gaffe was in April this year, when he apparently said the police would be pulled off the streets following the outcry over the fatal police shooting of teenager Animulrasyid Amzah.

In August last year, allegations surfaced on the Malaysia Today blog that Musa purportedly had underworld links, a claim he later denied.

Political Islam: MCA chief raps Umno, PAS



(Malaysiakini) MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek took a dig at both Umno and PAS today for using religion to strengthen their influence over the Malays and to garner support from the community.
When the two dominant Malay-Muslim dominant parties compete, Chua said, the consequence would be the implementation of non-progressive policies, resulting in the country being 'trapped' in the middle-income category for more than 10 years.

"We notice Umno has become more conservative to compete with PAS in getting Malay support. We raise this issue so as to allow the Chinese community to ponder on this," he said at the 33rd Kedah MCA Annual Convention in Alor Star.

"Don't be optimistic that once PAS rules the government, the country will be free from corruption and other problems. Bear in mind that some of the most corrupt countries are Muslim-majority countries," he added.

NONESpeaking to about 300 members, Chua (right in photo) was accompanied by several MCA heavyweights - Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai, Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha, Tan Chai Ho, Chor Chee Heung, Donald Lim - and many Penang leaders like Lau Chiek Tuan and Tan Cheng Liang.

Chua said under PAS rule, the younger generation would not be bothered to learn about the adverse impacts that could hurt the country's social and economic development.

In his speech, he referred to Syed Akbar Ali's book 'Malaysia and the Club of Doom', in which the author listed down several common characteristics of the 57 Muslim countries in the world.

In world of their own

The characteristics include: less democracy because of the emphasis on religion; they have elections but also have councils of Muslim elders enjoying absolute power; practise of absolute monarchy; and formulating policies not on par with global development.

NONEThe emphasis of these countries was more on religion than on education, Chua said, adding that their illiteracy rates were very high, especially among women.
Basically, people in these countries also had low incomes, high unemployment rate and were racked by a lot of controversies based on the interpretation of law as their leaders were mostly fundamentalists.

"Although Malaysia is also a Muslim-majority country, we are luckier because of the moderate and pragmatic policies implemented by the BN government," he said.
Cautionary tale

At a press conference held later, Chua stressed that he raised the issue of Muslim governance to remind Chinese Malaysians not to support PAS.

Chua is aware that, by bringing up the issue, a large segment of the Chinese community would accuse MCA of trying to undermine the community's growing support for PAS.

"So I am sharing information in the book that if a country does not have a socio-ecoomic agenda, but only focus on developing one area (religion), the country will not achieve the success it hopes for," he added.

He said the author of the book, who is a lawyer, has shown in his writing that governments which do not emphasise on socio-economic development has failed to bring changes to the country.

"Only a few Muslim countries like Malaysia and Turkey, seem to have some success but these too are limited," he added.

'Let Jeyakumar handle Tamil school funds'

By G Vinod
PETALING JAYA: A Tamil Parent-Teacher Association is up in arms against state executive councillor Halimah Ali taking charge of funding for Tamil schools. Watson Tamil School Parent-Teacher Association feels that the matter should be handled by Dr A Xavier Jeyakumar instead.

Its chairman, S Sugumaran, said Jeyakumar (the exco in charge of Indian affairs) should be allowed to continue managing the funding for Tamil schools as he had been doing a good job.

On Aug 2, Halimah, the state exco for education, told a meeting of parents of Tamil school students that allocations for Tamil schools will not be managed by Jeyakumar but herself.

Said Sugumaran: “As far as I know, Jeyakumar had distributed allocations to Tamil schools dutifully. All the schools need to do is to submit a working paper on whatever projects they plan to do and he will approve the allocation if it is beneficial to the school.”

On allegations that Jeyakumar had not distributed funds to all 97 Tamil schools in the state, Sugumaran dismissed the claims, saying that perhaps the schools had been ill-advised on the proper procedures for applying for such funds.

“As long as the schools provide proper documents, they will receive the money. Perhaps these schools did not receive the funds due to some glitches in their application.”

He also queried Halimah's credentials, saying she does not know much about issues plaguing Tamil schools.

“She has been the exco for education for the last two years, but I never seen her visiting any Tamil schools,” Sugumaran claimed.

He also alleged that Halimah never did anything not only for Tamil schools, but also all schools in Selangor.

“She received about RM15 million in allocation to handle all schools in the state, but I don't see anything forthcoming. What has she been doing with the funds?” Sugumaran asked.

His views are also supported by a Hindu Youth Organisation official, who wanted to remain anonymous.

“Jeyakumar has a wider reach with the Indian community as he is in charge of plantation workers in the state and most Tamil schools are located in these estates,” the official said.

“His previous experience with non-governmental organisations had made him knowledgeable on issues dogging Tamil schools, something that Halimah lacks.”

On claims that some schools did not receive any funds, the official said all schools were given funds but some of them refused to take the money for fear of a backlash from the federal government.

“They are worried that the federal government might come after them if they receive money from the Pakatan-led state government.” he said.

'I look after all communities'

When contacted, Halimah dismissed claims that she had done nothing for Tamil schools.

“My education unit has conducted a lot of programmes for Indians... we provide motivational courses for the Indian community targeting the youths and parents. We didn't touch the RM4 million allocated for Tamil schools to conduct these courses.”

She added that as the state exco for education, she strives to look after the educational needs of not only the Indian community but also all the communties in Selangor.

“The state government allocated RM16 million for all schools in Selangor, not RM15 million. Of this amount, RM6 million is for religious schools, RM4 million for public Chinese schools, RM2 million for private Chinese schools and RM4 million for Tamil schools,” Halimah said.

“Though I am in charge of education in Selangor, Jeyakumar himself voluntered to handle fundings for Tamil schools and I had no problem with it. Upon getting the consent of Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, I left it to him (Jeyakumar) to handle it as I did not want to interfere with his job. It is not that I left out the Indians altogether.”

Halimah said now that she is back in charge of Tamil school fundings, she plans to hold a meeting with all 97 PTA representatives of Tamil schools to discuss the funding issue.

“I want to hear their grouses. I am trying to get the menteri besar to sit in this meeting,” Halimah said.

'Malay-ism' will stay even if Umno dies

By Mohd Ariff Sabri Abd Aziz

COMMENT I think many Umno people miss an important point. Just as we (Umno) say that Islam is not the exclusive province of PAS or any other party posturing on its religion, image and perception, people can also say that Malay-ism is not the exclusive property of Umno. Just because Umno has fought on the basis of Malay nationalism and interests for so long, it is by no means its exclusive domain.

It does not own the fight. Malay interests and Malay causes will not evaporate if today, Umno disappears.

This is Umno’s biggest problem: It thinks Malay causes and fight are theirs by divine right.

This kind of thinking breeds self-conceit and arrogance which probably translate into the everyday behaviour of its members.

For example, look at the smugness that comes along with labelling Malays as liberal Malays, just because we disagree with your methods.

Hello kawan, lu ingat lu seorang sahaja Melayu ke? You ingat, your methods sahaja yang betul ke? If others are liberal Malays, what are you -- Malay's Malay? The purest of the pure?

Some of those championing this purest of the pure nationalism are not even Umno members.

What is more damaging is that this kind of thinking destroys the awareness that the allegiance to its (Umno) causes must be earned and worked at.

It's the height of haughtiness and arrogance to have this idea that if Umno dies, then the Malay is finished. We'd better get this into our heads quickly.

Similarly, isn’t it also arrogance of the first degree to say that Islam is finished if PAS goes under?

Both Islam and Malay are bigger than the political vehicles that carry them. Once we become aware of this point, we commit ourselves to the reality that allegiance to our cause must be earned over and over again.

We should now realise that the original bright red fire that propelled us initially are turning into amber flashes. We are running on reserves.

The permanency of this political reality in Malaysian politics will always have to come to terms with the Malay question. It removes at once any conceited idea by anyone, including Umno, that it can forego having to accommodate Malay politics.

Taken for granted
In the case of Umno, it has been taken for granted. No one comes into power without embracing this reality -- not Umno, not PAS, and not any other non-Malay political parties.

I am an Umno man. If possible I want all Malays to support Umno.

Malay support for Umno has always been a qualified support. I know it has to be earned, not expected to be had as of right.

It was, is and will never be unquestioning support and a “as-of-right property”.

In the past, from 1946 to the time of Tun (Abdul) Razak, Malay support for Umno was founded and grounded on a general and deserved belief that Umno was the best political vehicle to secure the community's objectives.

But I say it's delusional to state that it's only Umno which fights for Malay interests.

It still does, but there appears to be something fundamentally wrong with the methods it uses for securing the community's loyalty to its causes.

The slogan “Melayu this and Melayu that” has not been effective lately, signifying the need to re-engineer the foundation. Unless you can convince me otherwise, then I say Umno cannot even stand up to say it represents the Malays.

We delude ourselves further by claiming that because Umno has 78 parliamentary seats, therefore we have more Malay support. Dispute this then.

In the 2008 election, Umno candidates got 2.38 million votes. Mind you, not all of that came from Malay voters.

Take away 380,000 non-Malay votes, and you are left with two million Malay voters who elected Umno candidates.

In that year, there were 5.7 million Malay voters. This means 3.7 million Malay voters didn't vote for Umno candidates.

If more Malay voters, including Umno members, didn't vote for Umno candidates, how can Umno say it represents the Malays?

The 78 parliamentary seats won by Umno, therefore, didn't reflect the true extent of Malay support for Umno. Which simply means that Umno people have to work harder to regain the trust and allegiance of Malay voters.

You have done it the old way and style -- raising the spectre of Malay marginalisation and all that. You raised this in spite of having Article 153 of the Federal Constitution (safeguarding the special position of the Malays) and despite being numerically larger than any other races combined. How is that defensible?

That old way hasn't worked.

Why have more Malays voted for non-Umno parties? Personal disaffection, animosities, vengefulness cannot fully explain the loss of confidence.

After Umno and the government lost badly in the 2008 general election, Umno leaders went to a retreat and produced a laundry list of all the shortcomings they could think of.

What happened to these? They have not been acted upon. I see no rain even though there was much thunder about it.

Maybe I have not made myself clear on this issue. Who fights for the Malay question in Malaysian politics is a non-contentious issue.

Liberated minds

Every political party will embrace, define and manage it. The way they do it will earn them trust and support of the Malays.

Since 1946, Umno has built a mousetrap that has proven to be very good. It has continued to be the federal government for Malaysia. The party controls a number of state legislative assemblies. It's still the party to beat.

It would be foolhardy to discount the party as a has-been.

The fundamental causes upon which it built its struggle and eminence are very much ingrained in the majority of Umno supporters. I hope they still are.

Except that Umno (now) needs to realise that the way to harness support is no longer through the traditional method. This includes the appeal to the latent primal fears of the Malays being swamped by other Malaysian ethnic groups.

Wasn't Umno formed to serve as a bulwark to protect itself from being marginalised by immigrant races? That fear has always been manipulated.

Since then, Malays have made progress in many areas. We gained self-government and independence in 1957.

We developed the economy and brought much development to this country. The accomplishments were obtained not through the efforts of Malays only but also by all Malaysian races who now call Malaysia their home.

With economic development comes liberated minds. The experience that came along with economic achievements, political awareness and national confidence resulted in new understanding, new expectations and ever-emerging values.

What is probably happening now is that many Umno fighters have not come to terms with these political realities.

Mohd Ariff is the former Pulau Manis state assemblyman from Pekan, Pahang. This first appeared on his sakmongkol AK47 site.

Bringing power to the people [video]

By Stephanie Sta Maria

FMT FOCUS PETALING JAYA: Kota Damansara assemblyman and Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) chairman Nasir Hashim is a realist. But he is also fond of quoting Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara to “be realistic and do the impossible”.
And Nasir is doing the impossible: he is spearheading an ambitious project to eradicate urban poverty in a small community in the vicinity of Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya.

The project has a bold vision. It will empower the poor not only by developing their skill sets but also by encouraging a mindset shift from that of victim to victor. The project also aims to have various parties – federal and Selangor governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations and local communities – working hand-in-hand to achieve this vision. It is a radical concept and one that could be seen as remarkably idealistic.

“It is idealistic,” Nasir agrees. “But only if you remain focused on the present scenario in which the poor allow their lack of self-confidence to trap them in the cycle of poverty. Once they understand their potential and how to reach it, that's when the real change takes place.”

“I've been involved with squatter problems for three decades. I've seen what happens when people understand the root cause of their problem and how to turn things around for themselves. This is the crux of the project.”

His optimism has not blinded him, however, to the fact that much of the project's success will hinge on the recipients' willingness to embrace it.

“A project like this can't be launched with a group of people who are not already working towards improving their lives,” he said. “So we have chosen a community that possesses the right attitude and which is already integrated within itself. It's easier to build on an existing platform than create the platform from scratch.”

That handpicked community resides in the Putra Damai flats in the vicinity of Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya. The eight blocks are part of the government-initiated Housing Project for the Extremely Poor (PPRT) and are the largest concentration of low-income families in Selangor.

Ideal recipients

The project, aptly named The Putra Damai Urban Poverty Project, will however involve only the residents of Blocks G and H. According to Nasir, they represent the ideal recipients.

“The two blocks are separated from other six and for some reason the residents there have a different culture and mindset,” he told FMT. “Most of the problems faced by them are either infrastructure-related or posed by outsiders. There is a strong sense of community among them which is what we're looking for.”

Initial stages of the project have already started on a positive note with Nasir visiting the two blocks to listen to the residents so as to shape the project goals around their needs. His approach has won a solid nod of approval from the community but to him, it is an obvious starting point.

“These are people who have believed in election promises and have been disappointed,” he explained. “They stop trusting politicians. So when they are approached with an idea like this, their automatic reaction is one of suspicion. They want to know what political mileage we're getting out of them. The only way to reassure them of our sincerity is to give them what they need and not what we think they need.”

The project framework is straightforward. It will provide the residents with financial assistance, introduce them to relevant business contacts and equip them with the necessary entrepreneurial skills.

The initial funding will come from Nasir's office, various NGOs and private corporations minus the middlemen and a commission-based system.

“We'll give the residents a lump sum start-up capital and let them decide how to distribute it among themselves,” Nasir said. “This is their baby so they should make such decisions. Plus we also want them to work as a team and not individuals.”

“What is very important is that the people understand how their new skills can improve their lives. For example, there is no point in teaching a woman to bake or sew but continue relegating her to the role of housewife. That will not contribute to her family's income nor to the economy.”

Daunting challenge

Nasir is also adamant that this project belong to the community and not to him or his team.

“We want them to reach a stage where they are bringing ideas to the table and those ideas are better than ours,” he said earnestly. “Then we know that we have succeeded and can move on to help other communities. It's like raising a child to be independent and then allowing the child to freely exert that independence.”

And this is when the second part of the project will kick in. Rather than start all over again with a new community, Nasir plans to replicate the workings of the first model for the other blocks to emulate.

“People relate to others who have faced a similar struggle,” he pointed out. “There will be a stronger sense of trust and appreciation in place that way. Let the successful communities give hope to those who are still struggling.”

Despite his optimism, Nasir is also aware that his most daunting challenge will be bringing together different partners with different political agendas to work in the same space towards a common goal. But he has to start somewhere and has chosen to begin with the NGOs.

“Many NGOs have expressed interest but they don't know where or how to help,” he said. “We'll set up a meeting with the community leaders, the NGOs and councillors so everyone is on the same page. I'm also planning a dinner with all the councillors in my area to discuss this with them.”

However, he will hold off meetings with the federal and state governments until the project is in full swing. In his opinion there is no point in talking about a project that only exists on paper for now.

“If there's nothing concrete to show, then we will be merely talking on an intellectual level,” he said. “We need to see the project moving past the initial stage and in a clear direction, with people making strong decisions. Then it will be easier to get government support and promote the community's small businesses at state and federal levels.”

“It's also crucial to bridge the gap between the government and the people,” he added. “The people must understand how their lives are affected by national policies so they know how to push for their rights all the way up to Parliament. This is another form of empowerment.”

Wind of change

The project is a first for PSM but certainly not the first of its kind. The concept has been bandied about in various political circles only to fizzle out eventually. Nasir thinks the idea didn't take root because the proposals were not holistic.

“To eradicate poverty, you have to integrate all the various segments like education, culture, economics and politics. You can't have each department within the government pursue it separately because their efforts will overlap and everyone will be going around in circles.”

Nasir also gives credit where it is due and in this case it belongs to Aloysius Francis Pinto, the project creator. Pinto, who calls himself a social entrepreneur, is confident of the project's success especially since it is led by Nasir.

“The model existed two years ago but it needed the right person to breathe life into it and also know when to let go,” he said. “But the true beauty of this project is that it involves both the ruling government and the opposition.”

“The head of one of the blocks in Putra Damai is an Umno branch member, while one of the project team members is from PKR. We've also had individuals from other component parties extending a hand without worrying whether it is 'politically correct'.”

A wind of change is blowing. How far or fast it will blow remains to be seen. But for now, Nasir and the residents of Putra Damai are willing to take their best shot at what could be the beginning of an end to urban poverty in Selangor.
Watch video:
 

Something’s brewing in Sungai Sireh

On the Food Trail with Tiberius Kerk…
KAMPUNG Sungai Sireh Batu Sebelas is one of those places that you have probably zipped past without realising its existence. It is about 15-20 minutes’ drive from Kuala Selangor. Kuala Selangor is well known for its supplies of fresh seafood, especially prawns and other deep sea fish that grace the tables of the more reputable restaurants in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya.

During weekends, KL and PJ residents have been known to throng the seafood wholesale outlets to get fresh supplies to replenish their depleting stocks in their home refrigerators.

Frankly, the prices are not much different from the wet markets in the bigger towns. The only difference is that the fish and prawns are fresher than those sold at hypermarkets and supermarkets.

To fastidious housewives, that makes a world of difference. And if you are game for a little aimless driving, you may just end up in Kampung Sungai Sireh.

Some say its proper name is Kampung Sungai Sireh Batu Sebelas. For the rest of us listed under the Ignoramus category, we were just there for a quick bite and may be two glasses of the tarik.

But it was great fun especially for pseudo-city slickers who wished to be reminded of their hometowns of distant memory when greenery was very much part of our childhood.

Rustic environs
Anyway, at the junction of Jalan Parit Satu Sungai Sireh where there’s a big sign indicating “Homestay Sungai Sireh”, there’s a corner shop that sells some snacks, coffee and other home-cooked dishes for kampung folk and passers-by who just couldn’t contain their curiosity.

Don’t be too surprised that the makcik will enquire “datang dari mana?” on spotting outsiders with unfamiliar faces. Naturally, we spontaneously replied that we were from the sprawling district of
Petaling Jaya.

A couple of teh-tariks were swiftly planted on our table while we soaked in the sights and sounds of kampung life, even if we were just on the fringe of the rustic environs.

A stone’s throw from the kedai were two roadside hawkers. One of them was selling “paus” which came either with peanut filling or kaya.

They were not exactly piping hot but when one’s stomach growls, roadside stuff tended to look pretty inviting. A quick enquiry revealed that each pau was 50 sen.

Ten steps away was the other stall which was selling keropok, made famous by Terengganu. These were fresh from the wok. On that fateful day, the keropok pieces came in rounded form, unlike the ordinary ones which were usually thin, hard and crispy. Not knowing whether they were of any good, I simply ordered a ringgit’s worth.

One bite later, I made an U-turn and ordered another bagful. The keropok were better than those sold in most PJ stalls. Since I have been known to be rather fussy, that says a lot for this particular
enterprising Malay guy.

Graceful repose

One or two interrogatory queries later, I found out that this bloke actually has a factory nearby that makes those keropok. For someone who occasionally ventures beyond PJ boundaries, it is a revelation that there are people who know how to make lots of money on the side.

Back at the corner coffeeshop, the pau and keropok made excellent side-dishes for the accompanying teh-tarik.

Kampung Sungai Sireh is a long narrow road that leads straight into the heart of the kampung area which also encompasses Kampung Tengah, Kampung Dato Ahmad Razali, Kampung Sungai Burung and Kampung Parit Empat.

If you were to step on the accelerator a little harder, you may just reach Sekinchan, Pasir Panjang and Sungai Nibong.

Life in this part of Selangor is pretty. Large swarthes of padi fields and swaying coconut fronds will lull you to a graceful repose. The beautiful scenery will lower your blood pressure to that level of
your pre-teen years.

I must add here that simple kampung food fare is at once delightful and tastier than the commercial snacks bountiful in the streets of KL city. Perhaps it’s because the makers of kampung tid-bits put more effort into their cooking and may be a little bit of their heart in their food.

Whatever the secret, there’s nothing to match the exhilaration and joy that accompany scenic village views and endless supply of fresh air that’s becoming a rarity in the more developed parts of Selangor.

Indian cops yet to update M'sian police on Sikh militants

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police are still waiting for their counterparts in India to update them on claims by Punjab police that four Sikh militants are hiding in Malaysia.
Federal police special task force director (operations/anti-terrorism) Mohamad Fuzi Harun said if the claims were true, Malaysian police needed the cooperation of the Indian police to track down the suspects.

"Malaysian police will not allow the country to be used as a sanctuary by any miltant group," he told reporters when met at the Police Academy in Cheras here today.

He added that Malaysian police's intelligence operations on the matter so far had found the claims, published on a blogsite, to be untrue.

The blog had claimed that Punjab police had intelligence that the four, said to be members of the Khalistan Liberation Front, were hiding in Malaysia.

- Bernama

'Put DPP, Saiful on stand'


(AFP) - LAWYERS for Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Friday announced plans to put the young man accusing him of sodomy on the stand, to answer claims of an affair with a trial prosecutor.

Anwar last week applied to have sodomy charges against him struck out over allegations a female prosecutor had an affair with his accuser, 25-year-old Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who once worked as an aide in his office.

The former deputy prime minister, who was sacked and jailed on separate sex and corruption counts a decade ago, has argued that the alleged affair is more evidence that he is the victim of a political conspiracy.

'I will make an application to the court on Monday to have the deputy public prosecutor and Mohamad Saiful put on the witness stand over the allegations that they were having an affair,' said chief counsel Karpal Singh.

'This is a very serious allegation. The truth must prevail.' 'By having an affair with the deputy public prosecutor, Saiful could have access to classified information. This is an abuse of the court process.'
High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah last week agreed to adjourn the sodomy trial until Monday, when he will hear applications from both sides on the strike-out motion and decide whether to resume the hearings. 'It cannot be denied that there was an allegation of an affair... therefore I am of the view it is better for me to hear the application of strike-out first,' the judge said at the time.

Blog exposed affair

*The claims of an affair first surfaced in a political blog. No evidence has been offered but neither the prosecution nor the pair involved have denied the allegations.

*Saiful has accused Anwar - a 62-year-old father of six - of sodomising him at an upmarket Kuala Lumpur condominium in 2008. If convicted, the opposition leader could face up to 20 years in prison.
*Anwar has said he is the victim of a plot to prevent him from taking power after the opposition made huge strides in 2008 elections, stunning the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, which has been in power for half a century. -- AFP

Let’s go for a win-win


The Malaysian government is appealing against the Shah Alam High Court’s decision to release me from Internal Security Act detention, although I was released about two years ago. My lawyers asked me whether to contest the appeal and the following is my reply to the lawyers.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

I say we contest the appeal by the government although even if they win the appeal and my release is overturned it really makes no difference seeing that they can’t re-detain me under the Internal Security Act unless they first apply to extradite me and on condition they can convince a British court that my detention without trial is legal and therefore warrants the British government handing me over to the Malaysian authorities so that I can be sent back to the Kamunting Detention Center.

This is not about me, per se. It is about all Internal Security Act detainees. And I believe that the government’s appeal against my release is also not about me but about the other Internal Security Act detainees. The government realises that if it loses the appeal and the Federal Court upholds the decision of the High Court then this would open up a Pandora’s box. It will allow the other Internal Security Act detainees to also file Writs of Habeas Corpus using the same arguments that we have used to secure my release.

I can see that the government is desperate to win the appeal and to get my release overturned so that they can plug the loophole that allowed my release and to ensure that no other Internal Security Act detainees can use the same loophole in getting their own detentions ruled illegal.

We therefore owe it to the other Internal Security Act detainees to contest the appeal and to try to win our case. This will ensure that the Internal Security Act will not continue to be an ‘open cheque’ for the government to use in silencing dissent and in stifling free speech, like what is happening now. The government will now need to be careful in how they use the Internal Security Act because detainees will now be able to challenge their detention, and win, if the application of the law is abused.

Okay, let us assume that the government wins the appeal and my release is overturned. First of all, under the dual criminality clause, since the UK does not also have a similar law, then the Malaysian government can’t apply to extradite me. From the word go it becomes a non-starter. It would merely be a technical win that would not be enforceable. So, win or lose, I would still remain free.

Another point to consider is that I was already facing charges for the same ‘crimes’ for which I was detained under the Internal Security Act. Therefore, since the government has won the appeal against my release, this would mean it already has a sort of ‘conviction’ against me. Under the double jeopardy clause, I can’t be punished twice for the same crime. And this would mean the government can’t then re-charge me on the charges that had earlier been dropped -- discharged not amounting to an acquittal.

The government is trying to get a second bite of the cherry. Chances are the government will win the appeal against my release from Internal Security Act detention. And this win will then prevent them from filing further charges against me since my Internal Security Act detention would already be regarded as my punishment.

Can you see that if we win then the win would benefit all Internal Security Act detainees and if we lose then the government can no longer pursue me with fresh charges?

This is why I call it win-win. Both ways we win. Whether the government wins or loses its appeal we will still win either way. So let’s contest the appeal and never mind what the outcome is going to be because we are going to benefit from the decision whatever the outcome.

Furthermore, if you look at the four ‘charges’ under my Internal Security Act Detention Order, you will notice that two of the ‘charges’ are allegedly for ‘insulting Islam’. And the two articles where I was alleged to have insulted Islam are mentioned in the Detention Order.

Now, any primary school student with a fair command of the English language who reads those articles in question can tell you that they do not see in what way I have insulted Islam. But then the interpretation of those articles was done by Malays whose first language is Bahasa Malaysia and English is not one of their strong points.

In short, my argument is that those who had decided that I have insulted Islam do not comprehend English and therefore did not understand what they read.

In the event the Malaysian government does decide to apply to extradite me this is what we shall present to the British court and any English judge worth his salt would agree that what I wrote in no way insults Islam and those who allege that I did must be downright idiots. No British court would agree to hand me over to the Malaysian authorities to face a punishment of insulting Islam even if I did, what more when my articles would prove I did not.

I am actually quite keen to fight the appeal. As I said, if we win then it is good for the other Internal Security Act detainees who can use our precedence to also contest their detentions. And if we lose then the British government would be even more convinced that I should not be sent back to Malaysia for a fabricated crime of ‘insulting Islam’.

What happens if the government wins its appeal and they do not apply to extradite me? Well, would the Malaysian government not then look even more stupid than it already looks? If they have won their appeal against my release then why do nothing? Why not present the Detention Order to a British court and request the British court to order that I be detained and sent back to Malaysia?

If they do nothing then they will be admitting that my detention was frivolous and that they are not confident the British court would layan (entertain) them. If they try to enforce my detention without trial the British court would kick it out and, again, prove that my detention was frivolous. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

So let’s go for it. Take them on and make them eat humble pie.

Still unclear about “Allah”

1 Aug 2010: Hishammuddin “regrets” the “Allah” ban
“We should have let the sleeping dogs lie. It was triggered by those that believed that the word ‘Allah’ should not be used in Sabah and Sarawak.”
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, expressing regret that his ministry had banned Catholic newspaper Herald‘s use of “Allah” to refer to God during Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar’s tenure. He said the decision would continue to haunt his ministry “for a very long time”. (Source: Hishammuddin says regrets “Allah” ban, The Malaysian Insider, 1 Aug 2010)
2 Aug: MCA and DAP call for the “Allah” ban to be rescinded
“MCA therefore urges Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin to use all the authority vested in him as Home Minister to rescind the ban. By doing so, the Home Minister will be respected as a BN leader who looks after rights and interests of all Malaysians, including protecting the constitutional rights of minorities.”
“MCA therefore reiterates our position on ‘Allah’, i.e.:
1) No confusion arises when one’s spiritual conviction is strong
2) Nobody can copyright ‘Allah’ nor claim monopoly
3) Historical fact that ‘Allah’ predates Islam.”
MCA central committee member and publicity bureau deputy chairperson Loh Seng Kok in a press statement, calling for the ban on “Allah” to be rescinded. (Source: Rescind the “Allah” ban – MCA Publicity Bureau to Home Minister, mca.org.my, 2 Aug 2010)
“The Cabinet should make a decision to withdraw the appeal against the High Court judgment of Lau Bee Lan on the Allah controversy now that Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has admitted that his predecessor, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, should not have banned the word ‘Allah’ from being used by the Catholic Church.”
DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang, calling for the cabinet to withdraw its appeal against the High Court decision allowing Herald to use the word “Allah” in its publication, following Hishammuddin’s remarks. (Source: Cabinet should make a decision to withdraw the appeal against Lau Bee Lan judgment on the Allah controversy, Lim Kit Siang for Malaysia, 2 Aug 2010)
3 Aug 2010: Muhyiddin: Stop bringing up “Allah”
“Attention should be given to such considerations. I don’t understand why the DAP and MCA are taking a common stand on such matters.
“We know that this matter had previously been strongly debated and had created an unhealthy situation.”
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, saying the issue on the use of “Allah” should not be revived as the appeal was pending in court. He said raising the issue could become a burden, especially when the matter had already cooled off. He also cautioned Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties from further discussing the matter. (Source: “Kalimah Allah” Issue Should Not Be Revived – Muhyiddin, Bernama, 3 Aug 2010)
3 Aug 2010: MCA U-turns and Hishammuddin backtracks
“We are not making the same stand with DAP. We only want the BN government to resolve the issue as soon as possible so that it will not be further exploited by the opposition.”
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, denying that the MCA was taking the same stand as the DAP on the “Allah” issue.  (Source: MCA makes U-turn over Allah row, Malaysiakini, 3 Aug 2010)
“Why would the government retract the appeal, or why would the church retract the court case? It applies both ways, you know.”
“There could be also a request for the church to drop the case, as much as there is a request for the government to drop the appeal … let the courts decide because that is the process.”
Hishammuddin, denying that his expression of “regret” over the “Allah” ban meant the government would retract its appeal. (Source: Gov’t has no reason to drop “Allah” appeal, Malaysiakini, 3 Aug 2010)
“If we say regret [and] it’s an issue, you can look at it in many ways if you want to indulge in polemics.
“I regret that there are terrorists in Malaysia, I regret there are peragut (snatch-thieves) in Malaysia, I regret that this (word ‘Allah’) is becoming an issue … but why pick on that to make it a firestorm or bigger than what it is?
“There are many regrets [over what] we do, but whether or not I regret is out of my control because it is in the courts.”
Hishammuddin, trying to explain to reporters what he meant when he said he “regretted” the “Allah” ban. (Source: Govt has no reason to drop “Allah” appeal, Malaysiakini, 3 Aug 2010)

Whose credit? Not MCA’s, of course

By Thomas Lee

The cabinet decision to allow school heads to decide on the setting-up of non-Muslim religious societies in schools, without the need to obtain approval of the state education director, is certainly welcome.

The decision, however, should not be taken as something magnanimous on the part of the federal government for according this “concession” to the non-Muslim community.

The fact is that it is not something to be considered as a concession or a privilege given by the federal government, but a fundamental right provided for in Article 11 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution and enshined in the human rights covenants and conventions of the United Nations.

Hence, the federal government, in particularly the Education Minister, should apologise to the non-Muslim students for unilaterally restricting and depriving them over the years of their fundamental human and constitutional right and freedom to practice their religious faiths, through the unwarranted and unjustified action of the Little Napoleons in the Education Ministry.

Now that the cabinet has officially declared that such non-Muslim religious clubs and societies are allowed to exist and be formed in schools if there are at least 15 students signing up to start one, I hope the school heads, some of whom practise the Little Napoleon culture, will not make things difficult for the students who want to form such clubs or societies.

In fact, the school heads should help the students by providing the meeting place and appointing teachers to be advisors to guide them. If there is the unlikelihood or improbability that a school may not have a teacher practising the faith of any such club, the school concerned should allow a pastor, a priest or a religious elder acceptable to the parents of the students to act as the religious advisor. The school should also allow speakers from the churches or temples to be invited to speak at the meetings of such clubs or societies.

Soi Lek has hinted that the MCA fought for the decision when he said he chaired a pre-council meeting with the four MCA ministers – Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen – in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday to discuss the matter, before the cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss it.

And Liow, the MCA deputy president, was given the honour to announce the decision after the cabinet meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in Putrajaya on Wednesday.

The fact that the Umno-controlled federal government is now being more open and liberal in acceding to demands and requests of the people is simply because the coalition does not have the two-thirds majority in Parliament since the March 2008 general election, and there is now a very viable alternative coalition – the Pakatan Rakyat – which the people can turn to if the Barisan Nasional does not serve them well.

The favourable decision on the non-Muslim religious societies in school is simply the result of the fear of a stronger backlash against the Barisan Nasional at the next general election, not because the MCA has any political clout and potency to pressure the Umno-dominated cabinet to comply with its request or demand.

This is illustrated so obviously by the fact that MCA boss Soi Lek immediately backed down from the initial MCA position to endorse the rights of Christians to use the word “Allah” the moment Deputy Prime Minister and Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin rebuked the party and warned it not to champion the issue.

Soi Lek made the about-turn, just hours after Muhyiddin reprimanded the MCA, and said that the party does not share the same stand with the DAP on the call to lift the ban on the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims.

His explanation is that the MCA held a dialogue with the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) last week and that the CFM felt that there was a need for the issue to be resolved as soon as possible.

Soi Lek, in trying to appease Muhyiddin, one of his big Umno bosses, has claimed that the MCA was only voicing out the CFM wish on the issue which has yet to be resolved.

In other words, Soi Lek is saying that the MCA does not have any conviction or stand on the “Allah” issue, and all it does is to play postman for the CFM.

If that is the case, the CFM is wasting its time raising and discussing the “Allah” issue and any other issues with the MCA as the party is certainly poltically impotent to do anything. The CFM should go straight to the top Umno leaders to get their problems resolved.

CFM executive secretary Tan Kong Beng was quoted in the MCA magazine The Guardian as saying: “I think the MCA can win back the voters if it is seen as being independent and able to speak for the concerns of Malaysians. The party can be a voice in government for better and principled governance.”

Tan is one of those poorly informed persons who are living in illusion and delusion to expect the MCA to be “a voice in government for better and principled governance.”

The fact is that the MCA is, for all intent and purpose, poltically impotent and powerless in the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition, with its leaders servile and subservient to the powerful Umno leaders.

It is perhaps time for those sincere and honest MCA leaders like ex-Wanita MCA chief Chew Mei Fun, vice-president Gan Ping Sieu, and perhaps even ex-president Ong Tee Keat to either mobilise and organise the sincere grassroots leaders and members to oust the Soi Lek leadership and reform the party, or lead an exodus to join the DAP to continue their struggle for a truly just, fair, progressive and prosperous Malaysia for all who call it their motherland.