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Monday, August 9, 2010

Banggarma's belief in Hinduism must be honoured

From Mike Mohamed Ghouse, via e-mail

As a Muslim organisation, we appeal to the judge to reverse his decision.

" ... Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error ..." [2:256]

This is Islam's unambiguous affirmation of freedom of faith, which also applies to changing of faith.

The Qur'an illuminates before the humanity the two highways [90:10], one of which leads to salvation. Islam is an invitation to the highway toward salvation, but it is based on freedom of choice.

The verdict amounts to forcing Ms Banggarma to believe what she does not believe, that is not Islamic in any sense.

The original intention of such ruling was to prevent treason against the state for switching loyalties to harm the state, sort of double agent.

Banggarma is no harm to the state, her belief in Hinduism must be honoured.

The writer represents the Texas-based World Muslim Congress.

Defence wants Saiful, DPP to take stand

P.Uthayakumar’s speech at 1st Hindraf National Convention (8/8/10)

(Refer Free Malaysia Today 8/8/10)
KUALA LUMPUR: Human Rights Party (HRP) leader P Uthayakumar today launched a scathing attack on Umno, calling it the “real enemy” of the Indian community in Malaysia.
The Hindraf leader and former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee also accused Umno of splitting the Indians, and destroying their heritage.
Addressing some 300 delegates at HRP’s first national convention here, the party pro-tem secretary-general also blamed Umno for attempting to create fissures in Hindraf.IMG_2136
“When I was arrested under the ISA in 2007, a police officer with the rank of DSP told me that he will destroy Hindraf in three months.
“They even launched a covert operation called “Ops Padam Hindraf” then. However, we are still here today,” he said to a rousing applause.
Without mincing his words, the outspoken lawyer also accused Umno of “ethnic cleansing” through the destruction of the Indian community’s heritage structures and depriving Indian students of scholarships.
“They destroy our temples, cemeteries and schools. They deny scholarships for our children although they have excellent results. If this is not ethnic cleansing, what else am I to call it?” he asked.
Uthayakumar then ridiculed the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government, saying that it used 11 political parties to destroy Hindraf but still failed.
“They needed the help of 11 political parties to defeat us but we are still here. Do not believe their propaganda claiming Hindraf is split now,” he said.
Uthayakumar said the Indians here were only demanding their basic rights guaranteed under the federal constitution.
IMG_2135 “They always quote Article 153 of the constitution whenever they think we question Malay rights. However, the second part of the article emphasises on the protection of the legitimate interests of the non-bumiputeras which is conveniently forgotten by the ruling party,” he said.
Pakatan slammed as well
Meanwhile, the HRP leader also took a swipe at Pakatan Rakyat for allegedly ignoring the Indians because it wanted to be “politically correct”.
“Indian lawmakers from Pakatan are scared to highlight Indian woes in order not to offend the Malays too much. They fear they might lose Malay votes in the next election.
“They also go around claiming they have given land titles to our temples and schools but when we checked, it is nothing but hogwash,” he said.
Uthayakumar also pledged that HRP would not become a tool of political coalitions, saying that it would only stand for the people.
In a related development, HRP delegates passed a resolution that the movement would be known as Hindraf Makkal Sakthi from today.
Hindraf was banned by the government after it was accused of engaging in activities which posed a threat to public order.
Several other resolutions were passed, including to adopt Hindraf’s controversial 18-point demand without any alteration.
The party also urged the government to provide full aid to all Tamil schools nationwide and scholarships for deserving students.
“We also call on the government to issue MyKad and birth certificates to all Indians who do not have the documents under a special programme.
“The government must make things easy for them by just requesting for a police report. The documents must be handed to them within three months from the day of application.”
The party also agreed to accept all decisions made by its national coordination team and Hindraf chairman and Uthayakumar’s brother, Waytha Moorthy, who is in London on self imposed exile.
“We also agree that Waytha should continue to promote our struggle at the international arena and lead the movement until our demands are met,” said its national adviser N Ganasen.

Julia Roberts embraces Hinduism

NEW DELHI: Her parents were Baptist and Catholic and she was born in Georgia, part of the US Bible Belt. But Hollywood superstar Julia Roberts says she is now a practising Hindu. Speaking to the September issue of Elle magazine, Roberts said she goes to the temple to "chant, pray and celebrate."

The 42-year-old actress, who won a million hearts with Pretty Woman and an Oscar with Erin Brockowich, took to Hinduism during the shooting of her upcoming film, `Eat, Pray and Love' last year. In the movie, she plays a divorced woman who travels to Italy for food, India for spirituality and Bali, where she finds love. In the interview, Robert also spoke of reincarnation. "I've been so spoiled with my friends and family in this life. Next time I want to be just something quiet and supporting," she said.

Swami Dharamdev of Hari Mandir, Pataudi, where `Eat, Pray and Love' was shot for three weeks in September-October last year, said it is good news if someone accepts Hinduism from the heart. During the film's shooting, he said, a makeshift temple had been constructed nearby where unit members would light lamps and burn incense sticks. "Julia too would pray there, run her hands over the lamp and her hair as we all do," he recalled. "She also got her three kids here. I tied the sacred red thread on their wrists and applied the tilak on their foreheads," he said.

Swami Dharamdev recalled the actress also requested him, through her private assistant, to pray for her mother who was ill. "Before she left I told her, `you may choose not to eat or love. But don't forget to pray. Make that a part of your life, not just acting in this film'. She smiled and nodded affirmatively," he said.

In a statement, Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism in the US, also said he and his fellow practitioners welcome Roberts into the fold.

Julia's move to Hinduism has sparked off a torrent of online response. Some are highly critical of her; others the opposite. "Another confused celebrity trying on the religion "flavour" of the month. Hindu? Does she even know what that means? How can you convert to another religion after making a film? Next thing you know she'll be wearing a Kabbalah bracelet after going to a Madonna concert!," was a comment posted on The Daily Mail's website. However, Anne, Leicester, wrote, "I like Julie Roberts, admire her work on screen and her commitment to her beliefs. If she's living her life to the ideals of Hinduism, that's all to the good. I look forward to seeing her latest film.

Gobind says AG kept proof from Teoh inquest

Gobind said crucial evidence related to Teoh’s death was discovered — and withheld — since last October. — file pic

SHAH ALAM, Aug 9 — Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo today accused the Attorney-General’s Chambers of withholding evidence which may have “changed the course of the Teoh Beng Hock inquest”.

The Teoh family’s lawyer had earlier spoken to coroner Azmil Munthapa Abas privately before storming out of the meeting.

“We are not going to sit and take this blow without reacting,” Gobind told reporters.

He also lashed out at Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s conduct and reminded him that the case is attracting international attention.

“The AG must explain,” he said.

The Puchong MP explained that the evidence became available last October, just three months after the DAP political aide was found dead.

“They had it even before a second post mortem was carried out on Teoh’s body but they never told us.”

Khalid rubbishes Umno-spun rumours over his post

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has denied rumours that he had an audience with Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah recently to discuss his status as the menteri besar.
Rubbishing the rumours as yet another Umno-generated gossip, he said he had met the sultan in regard to official state matters.

“I don’t know (what these rumours are about). I met with the sultan during the Selangor Masters gold tournament prize-giving ceremony (on Saturday).

“My position was not discussed. In fact, I will be meeting the Sultan again on other matters,” he said.

Pro-Umno websites and blogs have of late been circulating rumours that the sultan had advised Khalid to step down.

Responding to the rumour mill, Khalid said there was no need for Umno to speculate on his position as the menteri besar because he was elected by the people and appointed to the seat on their mandate.

“I think Umno should not waste its time on this issue. If it wants (its man) to become MB, then wait for the next election.

“Umno will lose if continues speaking this way,” he said.

Trust fund for Kampung Baru

Meanwhile on the Kampung Baru issue, Khalid said the state was proposing to set up a trust fund to monitor the management of the real estate in Kampung Baru.

The trust fund will monitor Kampung Baru Development Corporation which is set up by the federal government.

Khalid said the state would propose that Kampung Baru be retained as a Bumiputera holding and an icon of Malay pride.

“I have already said that all property owners in Kampung Baru must unite and agree to a joint development. I have also shown them how to ensure that they retain ownership of the land.

“Based on this, we are proposing to set up a trust fund where the unit share is divided into two forms – one land ownership unit and one share unit.

“Land development will take into account the profit from rents and it can be managed by all parties, but the land itself will be the focus of the local committee,” Khalid told owners and inheritors of properties in Kampung Baru yesterday.

He said a trust fund would also resolve disputes over land ownership among affected residents.

“It will also resolve issues like inheritance because Kampung Baru has now spawned four generations. Ownership, if converted to shares and units, can be divided but it does not affect physical development. As such, you can look forward to overall development,” he said.

Last May, the Cabinet approved the setting up of the Kampung Baru Development Corporation, which was established under the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry.

Its function is to plan and oversee development within the area, which is expected to begin next year after the legalities are debated in Parliament later this year.

Pakatan states urged to emulate Selangor on FOI

  By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: PKR supreme council member Zaid Ibrahim has called on all Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states to emulate Selangor’s Freedom of Information Enactment (FOI) to demonstrate that the coalition was a political block with a difference.

He said Penang, Kedah and Kelantan governments should legislate the FOI to show Pakatan’s commitment to reforms to the people.

He said the enactment would, not only, make state administrations more transparent but would also illustrate that Pakatan governments were prepared for public scrutiny of all their deeds and actions.

He hinted that such enactment would also streamline the operations of the four Pakatan state governments.

By enacting the FOI, he pointed out that Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim had shown that he is prepared to be scrutinised by the people for his government’s actions.

“I hope other states would emulate Selangor and enact the legislation soon.

“It will underline Pakatan as different from Barisan Nasional,” Zaid said while addressing a PKR dinner organised by Bayan Baru division in Pesta Site on Sunday night.

Local council polls
He also called on Pakatan states to restore the third vote democratic process to emphasise Pakatan’s divergence from political governance a'la BN.

He pointed out that Pakatan states were duty bound to re-introduce the local government elections given that it was an election promise.

He said that the people voted in Pakatan in 2008 because they yearned for a change in the style of governance.

Zaid, who was a former federal minister, said the people have indicated their desire to move away from BN’s race-based politics.

Thus, he said it was only ideal that Pakatan states implemented different policies and action plans to fulfil public demands based on multi-racial politics.

However, he cautioned Pakatan against merely sloganeering of the multi-racial catchphrase for political mileage.

He said Pakatan should actualise its multi-racial political struggle with actions to win over the people.

He said Pakatan can reach Putrajaya in the next election through hard work and unity.

He claimed that the public illusion of BN strongholds, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, was now a thing of the past.

“Pakatan strength is growing everywhere, including in Sabah and Sarawak.

“We can capture the federal government if we can maintain and strengthen our unity and public confidence,” he said.

Umno under fire

Earlier, PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim told the dinner that history has proven from time to time that governments practising racism and fascism have always failed to succeed.

Hitting at Umno, he pointed out that governments that neglected justice, rule of law and integrity have also eventually collapsed.

He called on non-Malays to shred their delusion that all Malays were benefitting from the federal government economic policies.
The Permatang Pauh MP alleged that the truth was Umno had been squandering the country’s wealth to enrich its cronies in the name of Malay supremacy.

He said there was a vast difference of income between the few rich Malays and majority poor Malays.

He alleged in the name of safeguarding the Malay rights and privileges, Umno had only been creating Malay billionaires among its cronies.

“But it’s not the government’s business to produce billionaires.

“The government’s main task is to provide adequate, equal and fair opportunities to all to succeed in the nation building,” said Anwar, who is also parliamentary Opposition Leader.

Decision later today on application to recall Saiful, DPP Farah

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: The outcome of an application by Anwar Ibrahim's lawyers to recall chief witness Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan over his alleged affair with a deputy public prosecutor will be known at 2.15pm today.

This morning Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah heard submissions from Anwar's lawyers as well as from the prosecution before adjourning the hearing to this afternoon for a ruling.

If the application is allowed, Mohd Saiful and his alleged lover DPP Farah Azlina Latif will be asked to take the stand so that they can be questioned on their relationship.

Anwar's lawyers said previously that the sodomy trial had been compromised as a result of the relationship. They claimed that Mohd Saiful could have had access to the details of the prosecution's strategy as well as to notes from other witnesses.

The prosecution however claimed that Farah was just a note-taker in the prosecution team and had no access to legal documents and other sensitive material.

Both Mohd Saiful and Farah have not said anything publicly about the alleged relationship.

Prosecution: Hearsay

This morning Anwar's lead counsel Karpal Singh said that it was important to call Farah and Mohd Saiful to answer the allegations made against them.

"At this point, the prosecution has not offered to call them, and we can't, so the court must," he said.

Solicitor-General II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, who is leading the prosecution, argued that the allegation was not something that Anwar could prove, saying that the defence's arguments were just hearsay..

“The whole thing is hearsay and inadmissible," he said.

Anwar, 63, had claimed trial to sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful, 25, at Desa Damansara Condominium in Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

MCA finds cheap thrill in DAP woes

By Stanley Koh - Free Malaysia Today

COMMENT DAP’s current troubles in Selangor must be as thrilling to MCA as a sex video is to a porn addict. Its publicity machine is probably working overtime to extract every dirty detail, real or imagined, from the feuding in DAP.
MCA does need some political breakthroughs to regain the ground it has been losing since the 2008 election debacle. Since its recent brainstorming retreat, its publicity bureau has been closely monitoring the ground for bad news in rival parties, like vultures circling in the sky sniffing for blood.

And was the smell strong when the blame game in Selangor DAP broke into the open! MCA’s publicity people wet ecstatic, churning out and disseminating widely all the anti-Pakatan propaganda they could spin, hoping to regain the party’s tarnished image.

Loh Seng Kok, the vice chairman of the MCA publicity bureau, accused DAP of hypocrisy in its handling of the feud between Ronnie Liu and Tee Boon Hock. It said the issue exposed DAP as a party that held double standards.

Liu and Tee, both state executive councillors, are embroiled in a quarrel over letters of support given to companies seeking business contracts.

Tee has since been sacked from DAP but can continue as municipal councillor for Klang. He is reputed to have strong grassroots support and was once Liu’s special assistant.

Liu will face the DAP disciplinary board on Aug 12. The board has also summoned Selangor assembly speaker Teng Chang Khim for twittering an objectionable remark about the squabbling.

In his eagerness to strike while the iron is hot, it does not seem to matter to Loh that he has not quite grasped the true meaning of DAP’s internal politicking on the issue.

“The action taken by DAP’s disciplinary board to sack Tee Boon Hock without trial went against the party’s principle to abolish the Internal Security Act,” said Loh, as spokesman for MCA.

Attacking DAP for dragging Teng to the disciplinary board over a Twitter message, he said: “DAP has made it to the record books in prosecuting its member for utilising technology like Twitter, a weapon well used by the party to spread its propaganda.

“The public has the right to know the truth and Teng has only done the right thing by voicing out” his disappointment that Tee, not Liu, had been sacked.

Teng’s twit was “OMG! Real culprit is freed.”

Facts are sacred

We cannot blame Loh for playing his role as deputy publicity chief, a post he deserves for his loyalty to his new political master, Dr Chua Soi Lek. However, he should not forget that although comments are free, facts are sacred.

Comparing a political party’s disciplinary action to the torture of ISA detainees is more than a bit too much. It is ludicrous.

Loh chose not to mention DAP’s internal inquiry and fact-finding efforts before the sacking.

The happenings in Selangor DAP are nothing compared to the kind of political sclerosis afflicting MCA, a party that breeds suspicion and distrust and goes through one crisis after another.

MCA’s former president, Dr Ling Liong Sik, was fond of quoting the proverb about fish starting to rot from the head. MCA’s history of leadership crises proves him right.

MCA has a distinguished history of abandoning democratic principles. It supported the passing of the ISA and continues to support its implementation. Opposition parties vehemently spoke against the legislation and continue to condemn it.

Both DAP strongmen Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng have suffered under the ISA for their political principles, for giving voice to their conscience.

Speaking of democratic principles, Loh must remember that in 2001, MCA suspended its youth wing over the infamous chair-throwing incident despite the fact that the youth leaders were democratically elected.

There were allegations that the fiasco was pre-planned. It included a bomb hoax, a fistfight and chair throwing. Ong Tee Keat, who was youth chief at that time, was supposedly found responsible for the fracas.

Despite the lodging of a police report, the truth has never surfaced. So, what type of transparency, accountability and responsibility is Loh talking about?

Pundits and party insiders speculate that the current problems are the result of a keen power struggle between supporters of Ronnie Liu and Ean Yong Hian Wah, successor to former Selangor DAP chairman Ong Chee Keong, who was ousted in 2007 for indiscipline.
Has the MCA practised what it is now preaching?

MCA members and the public have the right to know the truth about the 2001 incident.

It is doubtful that MCA can convince the public that its criticism of its archrival is sincere and came out of its commitment to principles.

Blossoming into a nightmare

The attacks merely remind the public that the party and its partners in Barisan Nasional have yet to show that they can practise what they preach.

MCA may be hoping that memories are short, but voters in Selangor remember the track records of previous menteri besar Muhammad Muhammad Taib and Dr Mohd Khir Toyo. One was caught trying to leave Australia without declaring millions of ringgit in cash, and the other is the target of suspicion for massive corruption.

A former prime minister in 1995 characterised DAP’s Kit Siang as “an absolute failure” as an opposition leader. It was in April that year that the opposition parties suffered heavy electoral losses.

DAP has struggled hard since then and you cannot easily question its credibility these days, although it still has some work to do to improve its delivery system to the citizens of states in which it is part of the ruling coalition. Supporters expect it not to gamble away the opportunities it has been given.

As for MCA, the passenger on the BN bus driven by Umno, there is scant ground for optimism regarding its future.

Nevertheless, there are pundits who do not discount the possibility of MCA rising from the ashes of defeat in Selangor. This could well happen if DAP continues to create its own crises.

Pundits and party insiders speculate that the current problems are the result of a keen power struggle between supporters of Ronnie Liu and Ean Yong Hian Wah, successor to former Selangor DAP chairman Ong Chee Keong, who was ousted in 2007 for indiscipline.

DAP’s impending election in November this year is also cited as the cause of the power struggle.

When self-interested politicians lock horns, there is always a danger of the fire spreading far and wide even though the original problem is localised.

The DAP leadership would be well advised to nip the problem in the bud before it gets the chance to blossom into a nightmare.

Stanley Koh is the former head of MCA's research unit.

Not only Malaysia Today ‘lies’, the mainstream media does too

The PAS President, Abdul Hadi Awang, made it very clear that we must fight for all needy Malaysians regardless of race and clean up the abuse in the implementation process and address the mismanagement of the economy.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The last two days, Umno, through the mainstream media, has been playing up the issue of what the PAS President, Abdul Hadi Awang said: and that is he too supports the rights and privileges of the Malays.

Well, read what Bernama reported below and read what Buletin Online reported below that. There is also a video link in case you want to hear what Hadi really said -- although the video is a bit noisy, but you can still make out what he said.

The government controlled mainstream media reports that Hadi said, “The rights and privileges of the Malays and the bumiputeras should be retained because the majority of the poor in the country were bumiputeras and that they had a right to the privileges.”

Actually, Hadi was responding to a reporter’s question about his comments on what Tony Pua said -- that there should no longer be a special discount for Bumiputera buyers of luxury homes or expensive houses. And what Hadi said was Tony Pua’s view is his personal view and which was never raised, discussed and agreed by Pakatan Rakyat.

Hadi then went on to say that, granted, the Malays form the majority of Malaysia’s population so the majority of the poor would therefore be Malays. But we can’t just look after the interest of the Malays while ignoring the interest of the other communities who are also poor. It is wrong to just look into the interest of the Malays while ignoring the interest of the others, argued Hadi.

In short, Hadi said that all poor Malaysians, Malays or otherwise, need to be looked after. And the discount on the purchase of houses should be given to all who are eligible, not just to Malays.

Hadi also commented on the implementation issue. The problem is that the economy of the country has been mismanaged and we therefore need to look at this rather than focus on the issue of Malays.

So there you have it. Umno and the mainstream media twisted what Hadi actually said to make it appear like he too is now fighting for Malay rights and privileges. But Hadi made it very clear that we must fight for all needy Malaysians regardless of race and clean up the abuse in the implementation process and address the mismanagement of the economy.


Apt to retain rights and privileges of Malays: DPM

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin today described as apt the statement by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang on the need to retain the rights and privileges of the Malays and bumiputeras, including the discount for purchase of commercial and residential properties.

Muhyiddin said Abdul Hadi would have surely made reference to the Federal Constitution although his statement might seem to be contrary to the stand of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, of which PAS is a partner along with the DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

"However, from the viewpoint of the DAP, it seems that there is a contradiction in terms of the stand in the Pakatan Rakyat. They (PAS and DAP) do not have the same view on the matter and there seems to be a drastic difference," he said to reporters after launching the National Crime Prevention Carnival organised by the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) in collaboration with the police, here.

Hadi had said to reporters in Marang, Terengganu, yesterday that the rights and privileges of the Malays and the bumiputeras should be retained because the majority of the poor in the country were bumiputeras and that they had a right to the privileges.

The PAS president had been asked to comment on the proposal by Petaling Jaya Utara Member of Parliament, Tony Pua of the DAP, to the Selangor PKR government to abolish the bumiputera discounts for purchase of houses costing more than RM500,000 and commercial properties costing more than RM2 million.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said it was left to the people to evaluate the stand of Pakatan Rakyat to determine whether its partners adopted a common position or had differing views.

On crime prevention, the deputy prime minister, who is the MP for Pagoh, said all community leaders, and not the police alone, had a role to play in maintaining and stepping up security both in the urban and rural areas.

"We also want the community leaders to be involved because various issues have to be attended to at their level in the urban and rural areas," he said.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and MCPF vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye were also present at the event. -- Bernama


Kita wajib membela kaum lain yang miskin dan yang patut juga dibela

PAS menyifatkan cadangan Ahli Parlimen Petaling Jaya Utara, Tony Pua, memansuhkan diskaun bumiputera dalam pemilikan hartanah komersial di Selangor adalah bersifat peribadi.

Presiden PAS, Dato’ Seri Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang berkata, isu tersebut belum pernah dibawa berbincang dalam Pakatan Rakyat.

“Pandangan itu lebih bersifat peribadi. Sebenarnya, kita belum bincang apa-apa lagi perkara itu di peringkat Pakatan Rakyat, dengan sebab itu, kita kena bincang di peringkat Pakatan Rakyat.

"Apa yang berlaku hari ini tidak sampai ke (sasaran) bumiputera pun, sampai kepada pemimpin-pemimpin Umno sahaja,” jelasnya dalam sidang media selepas majlis pelancaran buku terbarunya.

Beliau berkata demikian ketika menjawab pertanyaan wartawan berkenaan isu tersebut.

Dalam isu yang sama, Ustaz Hadi membidas sikap kepura-puraan Umno yang kononya juara isu hak bumiputera, sedangkan sebenarnya bukan bumiputera yang mendapat segala kemudahan, tetapi dimonopoli oleh pemimpin Umno dan Barisan Nasional (BN).

Beliau yang juga Ahli Parlimen Marang bagaimana pun mengakui belum melihatnya secara ‘detail’ hasrat cadangan pemansuhan diskaun pemilikan hartanah yang diperkatakan itu.

Sehubungan itu beliau berpendapat, realiti yang wujud dalam negara masakini adalah, bumiputera merupakan majoriti rakyat yang masih miskin.

Walaupun begitu, menurutnya, Islam juga tidak membenarkan berlaku zalim terhadap kaum serta bangsa lain yang memerlukan pembelaan.

“Saya tidak melihat ‘detail’ tapi saya melihat realiti yang ada dalam negara kita bahawa majoriti rakyat adalah bumiputra dan yang miskin adalah bumiputra.”

“Sebab itu, kita perlu melihat majoriti rakyat yang mengalami masalah kemiskinan. Dalam masa sama, kita (Islam) wajib membela kaum lain yang miskin dan yang patut juga dibela.”

“Kita (Islam) tidak boleh menzalimi kaum lain dalam keadaan kita (orang Melayu) membela kaum kita sendiri,” tegasnya. -- Buletin Online


Anifah vows quit if BN silences public dissent

LONDON, Aug 9 — Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman yesterday moved to quell concerns that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) was clamping down on civil protests, saying that he would quit the Cabinet if this were true.

On the back of police action against anti-Internal Security Act (ISA) gatherings last week and a recent clampdown on opposition newspapers, he told Malaysians at a meet-and-greet session at the Malaysian High Commission here that the police had acted on information that there were agent provocateurs who intended to subvert the rallies for their own purposes.

The Kimanis MP also admitted that as BN could not be sure of staying in power after the next general election, he would not support a draconian administration as he would not want to be similarly victimised.

“There is no conspiracy. I would not be a member of Cabinet if I thought so because tomorrow, I may not be a minister... in a few years, we may not be in power,” he said to just under 100 attendees.

“What happens if we do things we should not have done? It can happen to us as well. There must not be any discrimination or victimisation. I promise not just to you but to myself, I will not remain in Cabinet one day longer if I find there is hanky-panky going on in the government. It is not right morally,” Anifah said.

Anifah, who was known as a maverick and outspoken backbencher, also insisted that when “40 to 50 people gather, the issue is not about being afraid to lose power” nor was it the case that “we do not allow certain individuals to campaign” as the results of Election 2008, which saw BN cede their customary two-thirds parliamentary majority and five state governments, was proof that “democracy exists.”

Before beginning his speech, he had met over 50 protesters from the London-based Abolish ISA group outside the high commission for more than 15 minutes and explained why Malaysia would not repeal the ISA but amend it. He also assured them after receiving their written petition that “dissent doesn’t mean you will get arrested.”

“On the surface, even I asked, ‘why don’t we allow candlelight vigils?’” he said, referring to the vigils on August 1, the 50th anniversary of the law that provides for detention without trial, that saw 30 people in Selangor and four in Penang detained by the police.

“There were people, not from the protest groups, who wanted to make use of the gathering for their own purposes. The police were compelled to prohibit them (the protesters) from going through this vigil because there was information that something untoward may happen,” he claimed.

Anifah, whose brother Datuk Seri Musa Aman is the chief minister of Sabah, asserted that BN would follow through on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promise from April 2009 that the ISA would be amended.

He said the ISA could not be repealed despite claims that it had been abused as a political weapon to suppress dissent from opposition figures as it was needed to combat terrorism.

“Initially it was for communist terrorists, but now it is also for terrorists. And there are those who have penetrated into Malaysia,” he said, referring to Azahari Husin and Noordin Top, who are said to have been involved in the 2002 Bali bombings.

Both militants, however, never operated in Malaysia.

“I admit that there are instances of untoward incidents,” he added but said that before amendments could be tabled in Parliament, all stakeholders would have to be properly engaged to avoid any further shortcomings in the law.

Civil rights groups have also asked the ruling BN government to abolish laws on licences to publish newspapers or which limit their sales only to political party members. Current rules require an annual permit but some parties publish one-off editions to circumvent the law.

One of them is PKR which has yet to have its Suara Keadilan printing permit renewed after it published a story claiming the Felda government agency was bankrupt. Felda has denied the claims and is suing PKR leaders for RM200 million.

The DAP’s The Rocket has also not received a permit renewal for its English edition, while PAS renewed its permit with conditions.

Indigenous Malaysian Tribes Forced to Embrace Islam to Receive Development Aid

Gunasegaran, death in custody No.1805 : Submissions in court tomorrow

Viswa will be submitting, based on the evidence taken at the inquest, on the probable causes of Guna’s death.
That evidence includes the findings of two pathologists, police eye-witnesses and the testimony of those who were arrested and held at the Sentul police station along with Guna.
Make time if you can to be there and lend support to this effort to get at the truth of death in custody No.1805.
Mahkamah Majistret Jenayah No.7,
Level 2,
Kuala Lumpur Court Complex,
Jalan Duta.
Court is scheduled to start at 9am.

“Child marriages” just a political game

By Ding Jo-Ann | 09 August 2010 | The Nut Graph
Is Ali Rustam making sense? (pic courtesy of theSun)
Is Ali Rustam making sense? (pic courtesy of theSun)
THE recent announcement by Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam that Muslim children in the state will be allowed to marry just boggles the mind. According to Ali Rustam, who is also Malacca Islamic Religious Council chairperson, allowing child marriages will help curb teenage pregnancy and baby dumping, and prevent pregnant teenagers from being thrown out by their families. He also said it would prevent these teenagers from becoming prostitutes in order to earn a living.
Correct us if we’re wrong, but since when was allowing children to marry a solution to teenage pregnancy and prostitution? How exactly did Ali Rustam and the religious council reach this decision? What factors did they take into account?
Did they look at studies about what causes teenage pregnancies and what are the best ways to prevent them? What evidence do they have that allowing child marriages will decrease the number of children born out of wedlock or incidences of baby-dumping? Are there any successful precedents in the world or history of child marriages helping to curb teenage pregnancies?
Going backwards
It seems ludicrous to even have to list out the negative consequences of child marriages. Extensive studies and research have shown the deleterious effects of such marriages, especially for girls. Child marriages may results in girls being forced into sexual activity when they are not yet physically or emotionally mature, with long-term negative consequences.
Early marriage has also been shown to have a direct correlation to the level of education a girl child receives. A low level of education increases the child’s vulnerability to abuse, poor health and acute poverty. It is thus unsurprising to find that child brides are more likely to experience domestic violence and least likely to take action against such abuse.
Ivy Josiah (pic courtesy of Ivy Josiah)
United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) studies indicate that child marriages are often a reaction to extreme poverty in mostly rural areas. And yet, here we are in Malaysia, supposedly on its way to high income economy status, propagating child marriages as a solution to teenage pregnancies.
Allowing child marriages also clearly flies in the face of local and international best practices. “Child marriages amounts to paedophilia,” Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah points out. “We should not condone child marriages.”
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Puteri Umno chief Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin have also made strongly worded statements against child marriages.
The verdict, internationally and locally, is clear. Child marriages have serious consequences on children’s wellbeing and opportunities. It also goes against the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), both ratified by Malaysia. So why then, did Ali Rustam and the Malacca religious council make such a decision?
Abstinence-only sex education
Before we answer that, let’s consider the decision of another government that ignored extensive research into the causes and best prevention methods for teenage pregnancies.
George Bush (© World Economic Forum | Flickr)
Teenage pregnancies and STIs were on the rise after Bush's administration (© World Economic Forum | Flickr)
In 2003, President George W Bush‘s administration allocated a budget of US$135 million for abstinence-only sex education programs in schools. Such programs taught students to abstain from sex before marriage. They, however, generally they did not include information on the use of condoms or the prevention of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).
This was despite numerous well-respected studies that indicated that comprehensive sex education was more successful at curbing teenage pregnancies and STIs. The studies also showed that teaching children about contraception and STIs did not increase the frequency of sex or decrease the initiation age for sex. In fact, some studies showed that comprehensive programs delayed the age of sexual initiation and decreased the frequency of sex compared to abstinence-only programs.
These studies, however, were completely ignored or conveniently sidestepped by the Bush administration. Sure enough, five years later, a Centre for Disease Control and Prevention report indicated that despite, or because of, Bush’s abstinence-only programs, teenage pregnancies and STIs in the US were once again on the rise.
Political games
So, why did Bush’s, and now Ali Rustam’s, administration ignore established research that clearly show their plans of action to be flawed? Here are some possible reasons:
Misplaced religious fervour
Sex outside wedlock is generally frowned upon both in Christianity and in Islam. Perhaps Bush was and Ali Rustam is trying to use their respective positions of power to influence public policy in a manner consistent with their own religious beliefs.
But whatever a leader’s beliefs, decisions which influence individual lives, especially the lives of children, require more than a political leader’s own interpretation of what their religious belief calls them to do. It requires a thorough consideration of what impact their decisions would have especially on those affected by them. This thorough consideration is clearly lacking in both the Bush and Ali Rustam case.
The question then is, do leaders like Bush and Ali Rustam believe that their respective faiths call on them to act in ways which defy fact-based research, expert evidence and social realities?
Illogical thinking

Bush and Ali Rustam both seem to be living in a fantasy world as far as their decisions on preventing teenage pregnancies are concerned. Just because students are told to abstain from sex doesn’t mean they will do so. Denying them information about contraception and STIs merely means teenagers will be unprepared and uninformed when they do initiate sex or find themselves in situations where they don’t know how to say “No”.
And as for allowing child marriages as a way to decrease teenage pregnancies, surely, having sanctioned sex within a marriage would result in more, not less, teenage pregnancies?
Calculated political move
More insidiously, Bush and Ali Rustam may just have been playing to a gallery whom they assume is populated with religious conservatives who will applaud their respective decisions.
Conservative Christians have become increasingly influential in US politics and played a part in keeping Bush in office for a second term. Similarly, Umno has a long history of trying to out-Islamise PAS and this may just be yet another attempt at boosting Umno’s Islamic credentials. In proposing child marriages, Ali Rustam may be trying to prove he is a champion of Islam, going even where PAS does not tread.
Protecting people
It is alarming that our leaders appear willing to place their own political interest over the well-being and development of the nation’s children. It’s time politicians like Ali Rustam realised that policy-making is not their personal political playground, but involves serious thought and consideration due to the consequences it brings to individual lives.
Slapping the term “Islamic” on a decision doesn’t mean that the policy need not subscribe to the realities on the ground or that it can ignore proven research and international best practices. After all, what religion, be it Islam, Christianity or any of the faiths practised in Malaysia, would allow its adherents to abuse their beliefs to formulate stupid, irrational or harmful policies?

The Distracting Bilateral Issue of Maids

By M. Bakri Musa

It is telling of the state of development for both Indonesia and Malaysia that when their two leaders met recently, the key topic was Indonesian maids. Malaysia wishes to import more while Indonesia wants better working conditions for its workers in Malaysia.

I would have expected the two to discuss such consequential issues as jointly developing the region as a tourism destination to rival the Caribbean, harnessing the power of satellite and wireless communication to leapfrog the development of both countries, or perhaps conducting joint maritime research for both ecological and economic purposes. Alas, none of that!

It is reflective of the abysmal state of human development in Indonesia that maids are its major “export.” Likewise, it reflects the perverted status symbol of Malaysians that they consider having a maid as a necessity for a “luxurious” lifestyle.

It is beyond me why Malaysians think that way. Australians have a per capita income considerably higher, yet I do not see them having a “maid crisis;” likewise the Japanese. Even in America where it is now the norm for both parents to be working, very few homes have live-in maids; most do with only daytime helpers. Granted, there are many childcare centers to take up the slack.

In America, those maids (nannies) get social security benefits (America’s Employee Provident Fund – EPF) as well as workmen’s compensation insurance (for work-related injuries). They are also governed by prevailing labor laws. As can be seen, slavery is long gone in America.

While conditions for maids in Malaysia are far superior to the old American slaves, nonetheless the family-servant dynamics in Malaysia is closer to the owner-slave mentality of the Old South than to a modern employer-employee relationship.

I am surprised at the high level of engagement in this maid issue. If only a similar commitment were made in luring foreign academics and skilled workers, imagine the good it would do to Malaysia!

If Malaysia were to continue importing maids, then I would suggest imposing strict standards and paying them attractive salaries. We can begin by calling them “nannies” instead of the degrading “servants.”

The minimum monthly salary should be RM800.00, with overtime rate twice that on a prorated per hour basis. Additionally, the employer would contribute towards the nanny’s EPF. Those funds would become vested (meaning, the nannies could claim the benefits) only if they were to serve cumulatively for at least 40 quarters (equivalent of ten years), though not necessarily continuously or even with the same family. This is the rule with America’s Social Security.

As for work hours, they must have at least an eight-hour stretch of undisturbed time in a 24-hour day period, and an additional 24-hour in a seven-day period. Of course they can choose to work during those times, but they would be paid overtime.

The employer would also have to pay 10 percent towards health insurance, and another 20 percent towards a “performance bond.” The pooled money in the bond would pay for any maid caught in a criminal activity. It would also cover the cost of the loss as well as deportation. The bond funds would also benefit the nanny should her employer for some reason is unable to pay her salary, as with the employer declaring bankruptcy.

Thus it would cost at least RM1,200 per month to employ a nanny. Such a remuneration would make not only the Indonesian authorities happy (that is always a good neighborly gesture) but also those nannies. Heck, at that rate we may even interest locals to become nannies!

For those who think that such a pay rate is unrealistic, consider that the average expatriate family in Malaysia is already paying considerably more. Of course the services provided to those families are considerably superior than what Ahmad and Ah Chong are getting.

To justify the higher pay, these maids must provide superior services. They must be properly trained to do that. They must take at least a three-month course learning basic hygiene and the rudiments of safe and healthy childcare. This would include basic nutrition, child safety, and child proofing the house, including training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and Heimlich maneuver.

All these would cost money and beyond the reach of the potential typical maid from an Indonesian village. However, the government, using funds from the performance bond, could finance these courses. They would be free if the attendee were to work in Malaysia for at least three years, enough time to recoup the costs of training. Such a scheme would benefit not only potential employers but also these young women. When they return to their villages they could then take better care of their own children or grandchildren.

Of course the government could ease the need for these foreign maids (and thus save on the associated social and other costs) by encouraging the setting up of childcare centers through various incentives.

More Fruitful Avenues for Cooperation

Despite the space devoted, it is not my purpose to write on how to get better maids. Instead my focus is on exploring areas of potentially fruitful cooperation between Malaysia and Indonesia. In my book Towards A Competitive Malaysia, I proposed greater economic cooperation leading to integration a la the European Union between Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia (a political IBM!).

While all three are still essentially developing and thus would be competing in the same arenas, nonetheless there are sufficient differentiating factors between them that would make cooperating more beneficial than competing. The potential areas for cooperation include energy (oil and gas), plantations, tourism, wireless technology, and natural products development.

All three are oil and gas producers. Individually they are no match to the slick “seven sisters” oil companies, but collectively IBM could be a powerful countervailing force. While Pertamina and Brunei National Petroleum are still babes in the wood, Petronas has acquired significant international expertise.

With plantations, Indonesia has plenty of land in Sumatra and Kalimantan as well as labor, while Malaysia has the sophisticated experience. Brunei of course has the financial capital; at least what is left after its profligate sultan has his bite.

As for tourism, the area could rival the Caribbean as a tropical paradise for rich cold-climate dwellers. It is just as arduous to fly from Frankfurt to Cancun or St. Bart as it is to Bali or Langkawi. As in the Caribbean, I envisage four or five major cruise companies serving the area.

The Malay Archipelago with its endless islands is an ideal place to test the limits of and potential for satellite and wireless technology. Imagine if we were open up the whole area to global competition and let the likes of Nokia, ATT, Nippon Tel and Siemens compete. Once we have reliable real-time communication from Sulawesi to Seremban, and from Lubbock to Langkawi, then watch as trade and other economic activities flourish.

Likewise, imagine if we were to open up the region’s airspace to all comers, domestic and foreign. Who cares if the companies are foreign; all we are interested is affordable, reliable and efficient service. Those who can will stay and survive; those cannot, will leave.

As for natural products, both Indonesia and Malaysia still have vast tracts of ancient jungles that have yet to be explored. What is lacking is the expertise to exploit this invaluable resource and the political enlightenment to treat it wisely.

These are only some of the potential areas for cooperation. The issue of maids pales in comparison.

Indonesia’s Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono holds a PhD in economics, while Najib Razak is generously described as a “British-trained economist.” This makes it all the more incomprehensible why they would be involved in dealing with such trivia as the maid issue.

The speech that wasn’t delivered


(P Ramakrishnan was supposed to deliver this address at an anti-ISA vigil in Penang on 1 August 2010, but before he could speak, four activists were arrested and police dispersed the crowd.)

50 years of ISA – Enough is enough!

This is our 53rd year of independence. But for 50 years, that independence has been marred and rendered meaningless by the continued existence of the ISA. It has been used and abused to silence critics and put away dissidents. It is an instrument that threatens our freedom and our civil liberties. It creates a climate of fear.

That is why the indomitable D R Seenivasagam called the ISA “a vicious and repulsive document, a document which is repulsive to all those who believe in democracy.”

He found it “difficult to believe any citizen of this country could have drafted this Bill if he has the interests of his fellow citizens at heart”.

He was right there. The ISA did not serve the interests of the citizens; it only served the interests of those in power.

Under the guise of national security, the ISA has been turned into a political tool to serve the ruling elite to remain in power. Any time and every time the Barisan Nasional was in a fix, it resorted to the ISA to safeguard and entrench its position.

Some 10,000 innocent people have fallen prey to this obnoxious legislation. Without any justification, they have been detained unfairly and unjustly.

Not a single one of them has been charged or convicted in a court of law. They were not brought to court simply because the government had no specific and legitimate charges against them, and their flimsy reasons for detaining them would not have stood up in a court of law.

That is why the court’s jurisdiction to review or challenge their detention has been ousted. The Minister’s decision cannot be challenged in any court of law.

The Minister’s decision is final. End of the matter. That is wrong.

And the Minister has that absolute undemocratic right to extend a detainee’s detention every two years indefinitely. That is wrong.

The detainee can periodically appear before the Advisory Board to state his or her case. Very often it is a waste of time. The Advisory Board that hears a detainee’s representation can only make recommendations to the Home Minister which he usually brushes aside. That is wrong.

Friends: It is a mockery to have a law that does not provide for your defence in a court of law in keeping with natural justice.

It is a mockery to the rule of law when a detained person has no legal access to a lawyer.

It is a mockery to our democratic system when a person can be held in solitary confinement for up to 60 days without family visitation rights whatsoever.

It is a mockery to us as human beings that this terrible law has been allowed to be around for half a century.

Friend, don’t waste your time asking for the repeal of the ISA. It won’t happen. It is the armour that protects the BN. The BN will never throw away this protective shield. The BN will not repeal the ISA. Let’s accept that as a fact.

The only way to remove the ISA is to remove the BN from power. The moment you remove the BN, the ISA will disappear. As long as the BN exists, the ISA will exist.

We should target the BN and channel our energies for the defeat of the BN. When the BN becomes the Opposition in Malaysia, that day will spell the end of the ISA.

Our slogan should be “Remove the BN” – not “Repeal the ISA”.

P Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran

Home arrow News arrow Legal/General News arrow Prison not the answer for minor offenders of rape * * Malaysian Bar Web Ads * Malaysian Bar Web Ads * Malaysian Bar Web Ads Prison not the answer for minor offenders of rape

The Sun

PETALING JAYA (Aug 8, 2010) : No matter what the age of the perpetrator, rape is a heinous crime. However, in cases of underaged pepetrators where there is consensual sex between the couple involved, imprisoning the minor offender for statutory rape should be the last resort.

This is the opinion of legal practitioners in Malaysia, who have handled minors in statutory rape cases.

In Malaysia, it is a crime to have sex with an under-aged girl, even if she had willingly consented to it. The law assumes that a person under 16 is legally incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse.

Thus, “consensual sex” by the under-16 girl is not accepted as a defence in minors charged with statutory rape.

The Child Act 2001, enacted to fulfil its obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), defines anyone under the age of 18 as a ‘child’.

Statutory rape is dealt as ‘rape’ under the Penal Code because the law perceives that when a man/boy has sexual intercourse with a girl under 16, at the time of giving consent, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the action.

By making it illegal for an adult to have sex with a child, the law aims to protect the child from adults, especially when there is position of power.

Statistics from Crime Investigation Department show that although more than 90% of the reported sexual crimes involving victims below 18 are solved with the perpetrators (irrespective of age) arrested and convicted, there is an increasing trend in these offences (see table).

The number of child perpetrators involving sexual offences continued to increase from 2007 to 2010. This year, from January to June alone, there are 1,295 cases involving 1,854 perpetrators, of which 324 are child offenders.

According to a source,  there were over 600 cases reported and over 800 children aged between 13 and18 years arrested last year (2009).

“From January to May this year, some 200 cases were reported with over 300 child perpetrators arrested for statutory rape cases. However, the number of those charged is not available.”

“Charging an underaged boy for consensual sex with an underaged girl is a rare scenario in the country, despite the number of arrests made on the offence,” said the source.

He said there are many “half truths” and “unfounded fears” among lawyers and social workers that the law unjustly punishes a ‘child’ caught having consensual sex with his underaged girlfriend.

“While the provision of the law in Section 376 of the Penal Code states that any person convicted of rape can be jailed from a minimum of five years to a maximum of 30 years and can be liable to whipping, one has to remember that this would only apply to convicted adults.

“The law shows compassion for those adults who have consensual sex with a girl under 16, as there is no minimum term of imprisonment in such cases, unless the girl is under the age of 12.

Even if there is consent, the minimum five years’ imprisonment is activated,” he said.

Based on previous cases of “juvenile offenders” charged for statutory rape, the source said there are possibilities for the offender to be bound over for good behaviour after being sentenced.

That said, under the law, there are provisions for alternatives to imprisonment for convicted offenders.

“Child offenders found guilty of offences including rape will be sentenced under the Child Act. Imprisonment is the last resort for the convicted minor as provided in Section 96 (Restrictions on order of imprisonment) of the Act," which states that a child below 14 shall not:-

> be ordered to be imprisoned for any offence; or

> be committed to prison in default of payment of a fine, compensation or costs.

> be ordered to be imprisoned if he can be suitably dealt with in any other way whether by probation, fine or being sent to a place of detention such as the Henry Gurney School.

Family law practitioner Honey Tan,  who is also with non-governmental organisation Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower), pointed out that Section 91 of the Child Act provides powers of Court for Children on proof of offence.

If a Court for Children is satisfied that an offence has been proved, it has the power to order the child to be-

> admonished and discharged;

> discharged upon his executing a bond to be of good behaviour and to comply with certain conditions;

> placed in the care of a relative or other proper person for a specified period with certain conditions;

> fined;

> placed under a probation order under section 98;

> sent to an approved school such as the Henry Gurney School;

> (if male) whipped with not more than 10 strokes of a light cane.

Despite the laws providing leniency for offenders, Tan said that prevention is still the best cure and one of that is sex education.

She said that measures like community services are for “youthful offenders”, who are aged 18-21, which is provided under Section 293 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Lawyer Datuk Yasmeen Shariff, who has been practising Family Law for 20 years, pointed out that “there were many cases of statutory rape, where the girls stood by the boys to defend them but legally they are in a position where they cannot do much.

“There are programmes by government and NGOs to encourage the young to participate and equip themselves with the right knowledge to prevent them from going astray," said Yasmeen.

She also emphasised strong family values where parents and children discuss “taboo” subjects so that curious children would not seek “wrong” sources like peers or the Internet.

“"Boys should be taught to respect girls and girls should learn to say no (to pre-marital sex). Both sexes should be taught to respect their bodies. Pre-marital sex is not just a crime but goes against all religious and moral teachings,” she said.

However when “things” do happen, Yasmeen said parents should provide the needed support and not abandon their children.

"Abandoning them in their time of need might force them elope, run away from home, have back-lane abortions or abandon their babies," warned Yasmeen.

US-based HAF calls Banggarma verdict 'religiously discriminatory'

KUALA LUMPUR: US-based The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has condemned the Penang High Court decision to deny 28 year old Siti Hasnah Banggarma the right to change her religion back to Hinduism.
After a long, drawn out court battle, Banggarma was left with little hope as Justice Mohammed Yacoob Sam referred the case contesting her conversion to the Syariah Court.
Banggarma, born a Hindu, claimed that state authorities forcibly converted her to Islam at the age of seven while she was under the care of a government-run orphanage.

She later married a Hindu in a traditional Hindu ceremony, but could not officially register her marriage nor could she list her Hindu husband as the father of their children on birth certificates.

Malaysian law requires any non-Muslim marrying a Muslim to convert to Islam before a marriage is legally recognized.

“The right to religious freedom has continued to erode in Malaysia, and minorities continue to suffer,” said Professor Ramesh Rao, HAF’s Human Rights Coordinator.

“This case, which was covered in HAF’s 2009 human rights report, is yet another of example of officially sanctioned religious discrimination and coercion."

Although Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, minorities, particularly ethnic Indians and Hindus, have continued to face serious discrimination over the years.

HAF’s annual Hindu human rights report, 'Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights 2009', documented the discrimination, intimidation and persecution faced by Malaysia’s minority Hindu population.

The Foundation has also supported the work of Hindraf, a human rights organization that monitors, documents and publicly highlights human rights abuses faced by the country’s minority Hindu population.

“We hope that Banggarma will eventually be permitted to return to the faith of her birth,” added Rao.

“HAF will continue to monitor this case along with the litany of human rights abuses in Malaysia.“

The Hindu American Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism.

Anti-ISA protest greets Anifah in London

Apparently, the “Abolish ISA” chanting could be heard from inside the Malaysian High Commission in London. Foreign Minister Anifah got out of his car and came over to talk to those at the vigil for about half an hour.

Anifah meets the protesters in London on Sunday, 8 August – Photo by PocketFiat; see slideshow here.
Those who were already inside the High Commission waiting for his speech to them, apparently ended up waiting for quite some time.
0030: A group of about 30 people are protesting against the ISA outside the Malaysian High Commission in London. Read more