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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Photo of maimed Afghan woman a reminder of what's at stake


Editor's note: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a former ABC News producer, is the deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her book, "The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe" (HarperCollins), will be published in March. It tells the story of a young entrepreneur whose business created jobs and hope for neighborhood women during the Taliban years.

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The story of a young woman maimed by the Taliban has captured the nation's attention. Her name is Bibi Aisha, and her nose and ears were cut off by her husband and his family as punishment for the crime of attempting to escape a life of domestic battery and abuse.

The shocking photo of this young survivor occupies the cover of a recent Time magazine. The discussion about her story -- and her image -- has ricocheted far beyond American newsstands, igniting a debate among bloggers, TV anchors and print reporters about what her story "means" for the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan nearly a decade after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

I met and wrote about Aisha last December for The Daily Beast. It is worth adding a few points to the discussion led by those who charge Time with publishing pro-war propaganda.

The U.S. military cleaned this young woman's wounds, offered her a haven for weeks and got her to a shelter. The young woman's father brought her to the local U.S. military Forward Operating Base because he trusted them to provide his daughter with the care she needed.

I have interviewed dozens of women over the past several years who, with government help, found their way to shelters and family crisis centers that did not exist before 2001. These women, many of whom have endured burnings, beatings and electrocutions at the hands of their spouses, now find safe haven in homes created by women for women and funded by the international community.

Their stories are not props to be used by either the right or the left. They are simply their stories, paid for with a great deal of suffering. When you meet these women, it is impossible not to respect how determined they are to find a better future for themselves and their children.

Aisha is only the most arresting example of the many women who have benefited from the international community's presence in Afghanistan. All across the country, even in the nation's south, Afghan women have managed to take small openings made possible with help from international forces and create opportunity for themselves and their families.

This group includes teachers, midwives -- now more than 2,500 of them -- doctors, entrepreneurs, community activists and journalists. And a high school principal who works 12 hours a day running four shifts of classes to educate all 4,000 of her female students. The West is far more accustomed to seeing these women as victims to be pitied rather than survivors to be respected, but they are working doggedly each day to create something better for their families.

They are able to do this work because, at least at the moment, they do not have a Taliban government with which to contend. Instead, they face a flawed, but still functioning, government under which they do their best to continue their work while the security situation worsens.

Recently I met a young mathematics teacher from Kandahar who told me that her biggest concern was the early age at which her students are married off by their families. "I refuse to believe the Taliban are coming back," she said. "The U.S. will never allow it."

Obscured in the current discussion is a fact on which all sides agree: Women want reconciliation. They are desperate for peace. As both the left and right acknowledge, women suffer the consequences of war immediately and with devastating consequences. Women say over and over again in interviews that if their Afghan Taliban brothers want to put down their arms and follow the constitution, they eagerly welcome them.

But many women do not see a swift withdrawal as the path toward that reconciliation. Quite the contrary. They fear that in the international community's rush for the exits, the nation's problems will be balanced on their backs once more. And that is why they are fighting for a seat at the table in any discussion of reconciliation.

I have spent a lot of time with women working in their communities, some of whom rarely give interviews and are far from the causes célèbres of either political side.

They do not want an endless U.S. military presence. To frame the discussion as such is to confuse the complex realities on the ground and further inflate already overheated rhetoric.

Instead, what they seek is simply some more time: time to create and strengthen their own Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army forces. Forces that are able to protect their constitutionally guaranteed rights to equal opportunity and justice. And forces that women themselves are now joining in increasing numbers so that they can go on fighting each day for their daughters and sons and for the next generation.

These women are hardly ignorant of history. They regularly cite 2003 and 2004, years in which critical resources that had been deployed in their country were moved to Iraq, as the beginning of the slow unraveling of their own security situation.

They complain about corruption at the national and local level. They know that their own government has hardly been a champion of women's rights: In fact, they are proud to say that it was their own agitation and political savvy that helped galvanize the international community's support to tackle the Shia Family Law and win women a more substantive role at the recent Kabul Conference.

Women are now speaking up for themselves more loudly and in greater numbers and fighting to capitalize on the space created by a military presence that -- for the moment -- has kept the Taliban from returning to power. Their goal is to be part of any substantive negotiations concerning reconciliation and to make certain their voices are included in a discussion that very directly concerns their own fate.

At a time in which cognitive constancy appears to be the goal of both the left and the right, it is regrettable that a resilient young woman who has survived unimaginable cruelty has been reduced to a Rorschach test on the war in Afghanistan.

The angry and high-decibel reaction from those who oppose the war to a dramatic image they could not ignore illustrates an unfortunate discomfort with divergent views and an unwillingness to confront the war's myriad complexities. Now is not the time for an about-face in Afghanistan simply because they do not wish to confront the very real consequences of a premature or hastily planned U.S. withdrawal.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.

PAS, Umno tussle over Selangor mosques

The Malaysian Insider,

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — A battle for control of Selangor mosques between PAS and Umno is shaping up with the Islamist party trying to stop the state opposition from hosting a “buka puasa” today with the prime minister.

The function with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also the Selangor Umno liaison committee chairman, was originally planned to be held at Masjid Nurul Ehsan in Kampung Medan, but was moved to the nearby Masjid As-Salam.

Both the mosques are located in a Malay-majority area of Petaling Jaya and have become centres for community activities.

It is understood that Masjid Nurul Ehsan supervisor Ghazali Shaari did not respond to the request made by Selangor Umno to use the mosque for the event.

Selangor Umno will now hold the event outside Masjid As-Salam, but party leaders will be at the mosque to perform their prayers.

“I have told the mosque supervisor to make sure that only the prime minister is allowed to give a speech and there are other conditions,” said Ghazali, who is also Petaling Jaya Selatan PAS chief.

PAS is ruling Selangor together with the DAP and PKR. State PAS chief Datuk Hasan Ali is the Selangor executive councillor in charge of Islamic affairs.

“Local community leaders, the MP and state assemblymen must be invited. Nobody can give political speeches, no flags of political parties or party symbols,” Ghazali told The Malaysian Insider.

Ghazali claimed the move to impose restrictions was not politically motivated, saying that he was merely enforcing the orders made by the Sultan of Selangor for mosques not to be used by political parties.

“When they wrote to me earlier to hold the event at Masjid Nurul Ehsan, similar conditions were imposed,” said Ghazali.

“These conditions are not new. Remember when Tok Guru wanted to deliver a Friday sermon, he was stopped,” he added, referring to the Sultan’s order in 2009 prohibiting PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat from delivering the Friday sermon at the state mosque in Shah Alam.

Ghazali said it was unusual for any political party to use mosques for political activities.

“First they said it is Umno-organised, then they said Najib is coming in his capacity as the prime minister, they are confused,” said Ghazali.

“PAS or PKR has never misused mosques for political activities,” he added.

Ghazali said he would closely monitor the “buka puasa” to ensure that it does not violate the conditions.

An Umno official, however, said the party’s plan to host the breaking of fast had received approval from the palace and Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim with no conditions attached.

“The Sultan gave his blessing, MB and JAIS agreed. But PAS did not reply to us or give any condition,” said a state Umno leader who did not want to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

No faith in Jeyakumar's promise to estate workers

By G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Selangor exco Dr Xavier Jeyakumar's plan to assist 400 estate workers in Taman Permata, Dengkil, by getting them land to build terrace houses has failed to excite Malaysia Consumer Advisory Association (MCAA) president M Varatharajoo.

Yesterday, a Tamil daily reported that Jeyakumar had promised to get land for the estate workers soon in order to get Putrajaya Holdings Bhd to build terrace houses for them as promised 11 years ago.

However, Varatharajoo said the exco made the same promise to the former estate workers in Coalfields, Sungai Buloh, in June 2008 but nothing had come out of it.

“He promised to get them 10-acres but backtracked on his words later. Now he is making another promise to a different group of estate workers,” he said.

Last month, FMT reported on the plight of the Coalfieds estate workers who were told to vacate their houses for a development project.

The families had since stood their ground, urging their former employer Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd to offer adequate compensation such as housing discount, lay-off benefits and yearly service benefits.

Meanwhile, Varatharajoo also criticised Jeyakumar for allegedly neglecting the families in Coalfields, claiming that the exco did not even check on their well-being.

“He is in charge of plantation workers in Selangor but till today he never visited them. This people are suffering without proper water supply,” he said.

He also pointed out that Coalfields estate fell under the Ijok state constituency, held by Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.

“I urge Jeyakumar and Khalid to assist those suffering in Coalfields immediately,” he said.

Jeyakumar: I have met them

Contacted later, Jeyakumar denied the allegation that he had neglected the Coalfields estate workers, claiming that he had been working on an on-going programme to assist them.

“In fact, I met the estate workers a few months back,” he said, adding that only six out of the 24 families were still unable to relocate to the townhouses provided by Kuala Lumpur-Kepong Bhd.

“Based on my figures, only six families are left. They are not able to take up the townhouses as they are blacklisted by financial institutions. We are trying to sort out the matter for them,” he said.

As for the Taman Permata workers, the exco urged Putrajaya Holdings Bhd to live up to its promise and offer them the terrace houses.

“The state government is willing to work with Putrajaya Holdings on this matter,” he said.

MB to Tamil school PTAs: How did you spend RM4mil?

By FMT Staff

SHAH ALAM: Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim has directed the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) in all 97 Tamil schools in the state to explain how they spent the RM4 million allocation. The Selangor state government has set aside RM4 million a year for Tamil schools to help reduce their operation costs.

In an inaugural dialogue session organised by the Selangor Education Committee last Saturday, Khalid heard PTA representatives from the Tamil schools voice their problems and seek counsel and shared views on the development of Tamil schools in the state.

The committee had organised the dialogue in a bid to hear the views of all parties involved. Also present were state executive councillors Ronnie Liu, Hassan Ali, Xavier Jeyakumar, Halimah Ali and Rodziah Ismail.

“We had organised this meeting with the MB, excos and the PTA and school representatives to hear their views and study the RM4 million allocation we have set aside for Tamil schools.

‘I have asked all Tamil schools representative to provide us with information about their school and how the funds channelled to the PTA was used. We want to know the details so that we can study the expenses and see how best to put the funding to effective use,” said Khalid.

He said through such dialogues, the allocation could be studied carefully to ensure that the funds reach the targeted groups.

“We hope to forward the data that we receive to the federal government so that it can be included in the 10th Malaysia Plan,” Khalid added.

Good dialogue

Meanwhile, several PTA chairmen expressed satisfaction with the dialogue because it gave them an opportunity to voice their problems and share their views with the state administrators.

One of them, S Arumugam said: “The dialogue session was profitable to Tamil schools. We the PTAs want to improve the education of our children. We also want to improve the infrastructure in our schools.”

Another chairman Nandi Velu described the session as enlightening. “This dialogue is good because the MB gave us a chance to speak and discuss the allocations set aside for Tamil schools. It’s the best development in Selangor.”

Echoing his views was Tamima Resaken, who said: “I agree with what happened today. It is a good beginning for Tamil schools. I hope that such dialogues with the leaders will continue.”

RPK jabs AG below the belt, exposes 'affair'

By FMT Staff,

KUALA LUMPUR: Fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin has dropped another scandal bombshell, implicating none other than Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail.

In a posting titled "Okay, what about this affair then?", Raja Petra accused the nation's top lawyer of being romantically involved with the AG Chambers' head of international affairs Azailiza Mohd Ahad.

The blogger, who continues to be a thorn in the side of the government, had recently exposed the alleged affair between Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan and deputy public prosecutor Farah Azlina Latif.

Saiful is the star witness in Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's Sodomy II trial while Farah was part of the prosecution team.

Although Gani refused to comment on the veracity of the Saiful-Farah tryst allegation, he, however, revealed that the latter had been dropped from the case, prompting the defence to file an application to have the case struck out.

“Why does the A-G not want to confirm or deny the allegation that a member of his team is bonking the prosecution’s key witness?” asked Raja Petra. “Would it not be easy if he just denied it and solved the entire problem?”

“He is not prepared to risk his neck, first of all, because he knows it is true and he knows that if he tries to deny it more shit is going to hit the fan. But more importantly, he is worried that if he denies it then we would bring out another allegation of an affair, this time involving him and Azailiza,” he added.

'It is no secret'

No stranger to ruffling feathers of the prominent, Raja Petra went on to claim that Gani's alleged affair was common knowledge.

“Everyone knows about this affair. It is no secret. The AG and Azailiza (photo: right) make frequent trips overseas together and to save taxpayers’ some money, they share a hotel room rather than book separate rooms,” he said.

“There appears to be a hell of a lot of bonking going on in the Palace of Justice. And with the chief justice illegally marrying a second wife in Thailand and then destroying the evidence to escape prosecution, like our MP from Sabah, it makes one wonder how they even have enough time to prepare for the court cases,” he added.

Raja Petra's latest allegation is bound to incur the wrath of the powers-that-be, and amplify the voices calling on the authorities to track his sponsors and bring them to book.

The blogger, of royal lineage, is believed to be in London.

He became a household known following his string of allegations implicating Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor in the murder of Mongolian national Altantunya Shaaribuu.

Umno-MCA war: Utusan begins assault on MCA

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The rumble between Umno and its Chinese allies in the Barisan Nasional has escalated, with the Umno-linked newspaper Utusan Malaysia dedicating pages of articles focused on flaying the MCA following its bold calls for economic liberalisation.

The MCA-organised Chinese Economic Congress last Saturday passed 13 resolutions, with some touching on sensitive policies such as calling for the gradual removal of the 30% Bumiputera corporate equity, and increased participation of non-Malays in government-linked companies.

This forced Umno's top leaders to retaliate, with its deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin and vice-president Hishammuddin Tun Hussein warning MCA to stick to the ruling coalition's struggle and principles.

But MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek will not barge, arguing that Umno's old ways of doing things and the failure by the Malay party to recognise its weaknesses will only lead to MCA's demise.

In an apparent retaliation against MCA and its president, Utusan published stinging articles with venomous headlines like "MCA's demands are ungrateful", "Don't play with fire" and a half-page column urging the Chinese party to tow the line.

There was also an article seemingly aimed at fanning racial sentiments when it attacked Chua's statement yesterday that MCA will have no qualms sharing similar stance with the DAP for the benefit of the electorate.

No space was given to Chinese voices on the issue.
In the column entitled 'Hormati sepakatan sedia ada' (Respect the current pact), the writer dismissed the demands by MCA and its readiness to stand on the same ground as the DAP as "immature". She also described the DAP as rogues who are disrespectful of the Malays.

There was also a clear intention to drive a wedge between PAS and the DAP and instigating racial sentiments in the article when the writer said the Chinese-based party in Pakatan Rakyat is the stumbling block to PAS' Islamic state aspirations.

"Just look at the demands made by the Chinese Economic Congress. Among its demands is that the government gives licences to F class contractors based on merits and not race. Doesn't Chua Soi Lek know that the majority of F class contractors are Bumiputeras whose livelihoods depend on Chinese suppliers... in this context, who are the kings of the economy if not the Chinese?" wrote the writer.

Several parts of the column condemned the MCA and Chua for being "insensitive" to the "economic plight" of the Malays and also rebuked them for being unable to comprehend the idea of "just and equitable economic distribution".

Malays have been tolerant enough

Chua, a former health minister, had also said that MCA, which is drastically losing support, must change its ways to stay relevant among the voters and is resolved to regain their trust no matter what the risks are.

The articles in Utusan harped on this. Many called the shift of paradigm in MCA's battle for voters "arrogant" and bordering on extremism, with total disregard for the Federal Constitution which enshrines Malay special positions in the country.

"Are there no other ways for MCA to win back Chinese support? Why are they making the Malays the scapegoat?

"The fact of the matter... is that everytime there is a new demand that corrodes the special position of the Bumiputeras that has been agreed upon, the feelings... of the Bumiputeras especially the Malays are hurt.

"The fact of the matter is that the Malays have long been tolerant up to the point where some would say: 'Never mind that some of the citizens can't even speak the national language as long as we live in peace and harmony," read the column.

The assaults by Utusan and the warnings by Umno have now placed MCA in a fix: it risks straining relations with the Malay party, the ruling coalition's lynchpin, or be labelled as cowards and lose more Chinese support if it backs down on its demands.

Either way, the opposition, particularly the DAP, would be ready to exploit the worsening tension between the two in the battle for Chinese votes and these are testing times for the 61-year-old MCA.

Get rid of racist principal, says Kit Siang

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang wants the government to sack the racist secondary school principal who said that "Chinese students should go back to China" and likened Indian students to "dogs".

The principal of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra secondary school in Kulai, Johor, was reported to have made the remark during the school's Merdeka celebrations and Lim is calling for the severest of action against not just the principal, but other racists in the civil service.

"If Najib’s 1Malaysia is to have real meaning, Siti Inshah Mansor should not only be removed from the education service, there should be no place in civil service for other Siti Inshahs," he said.

"The severest disciplinary action must be taken against Siti Inshah who is clearly unfit to be in the education service of a multi-racial society like Malaysia, let alone a school principal going against the very precepts of the 1Malaysia enunciated by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak since April last year," added the Ipoh Timur MP.

Lim said the shocking part of this episode is that the racist remarks were made at a significant event such as the National Day. Ironically, said Lim, the theme of this year's National Day is '1Malaysia Transforms the Nation'.

"How meaningful is Najib’s 1Malaysia when school principals like Siti Inshah show utter contempt for Malaysia’s most important and richest asset – a model of ethnic, cultural and biological diversity?" said the DAP veteran.

Not the first case

Lim also said that the Siti Inshah incident was not the first case of racism in the country's civil service or mainstream politics.

In February this year, the special officer to the Prime Minister, Nasir Safar labeled Indians and Chinese in Malaysia as “pendatang (immigrants)”, and openly said at a government function that “Indians came to Malaysia as beggars and Chinese, especially women, came to sell their bodies”.

Before that, Bukit Bendera Umno chief Ahmad Ismail had referred to the Malaysian Chinese as "immigrants", "orang tumpang (squatters) and totally untrustworthy Malaysians.

The Ipoh Timur MP added that it is clear that the Ahmad Ismail-Nasir Safar-Siti Inshah episodes are not isolated incidents but "reflects a deeper national malady contributed no doubt by the communal brain-washing perpetrated by Biro Tata Negara over the decades".

"If Najib’s 1Malaysia policy is to have real meaning, Siti Inshah should not only be removed from the education service, there should be no place in the public service for other Siti Inshahs.

"This is a task the Cabinet tomorrow should put on top of its agenda. Are the Barisan Nasional Ministers equal to the challenge?" asked Lim.
By Kee Thuan Chye - Free Malaysia Today

COMMENT The Mingguan Malaysia columnist Ridhuan Tee Abdullah is a PhD holder, but, judging by his recent assault on Helen Ang for her piece ‘Enforcing NEP on Minority Religions’, his thinking seems hardly logical.

Some of the points he makes in his column ‘Jangan Terlalu Berani Mencabar’ (Don’t Be Too Brave to Challenge) are reflective of a bankrupt intellect.

He does, however, make a case for Islamic values and the tolerance inherent in the religion’s teachings, which I agree with. I believe that Islam preaches tolerance and does not oppress. I have high respect for the true Islam. It is the people who misinterpret its tenets and practise it in unsavoury ways who give it a negative image.

Such people include those who would make it hard for non-Muslims to form religious societies in national schools, which is the crux of Helen Ang’s article. They also include those who would remove Christian icons from missionary schools and confiscate crucifixes worn by students. True practitioners of Islam would not do these things.

Neither would true Malaysians, those who abide by Articles 3 and 11 of the Federal Constitution which guarantee freedom of religion and the peaceable practice of all religions.

But how does Tee defend these unconstitutional acts? He says, “It’s not a big issue if the identity of the colonialists, like the symbol of the cross, is changed for a local one. Isn’t it necessary to Malaysianise such attributes in line with the local identity? Why do we still want to maintain the colonial identity?” [Bukanlah menjadi isu besar jika identiti penjajah seperti lambang salib ditukar kepada identiti tempatan. Tidakkah ia perlu diMalaysiakan sifatnya sesuai dengan keadaan masyarakat di sini? Kenapa masih mahu mengekalkan identiti penjajah?]

Is he being dense or is he deliberately confusing the point? The symbol of the cross is not colonial identity, it is the symbol of Christianity. How do you “Malaysianise” that? He is obviously speaking out of turn, if not rubbish.

Worse, he extrapolates it into something bigger, something that was never an issue in the first place: “Do we simply reject assimilation, even a little bit? Does the majority not have rights in the view of the minority?” [Apakah kita langsung menolak asimilasi walaupun sedikit? Apakah majoriti langsung tidak ada hak dalam masyarakat minoriti?]

No one has ever said anything about rejecting assimilation, or that the minority consider the majority as having no rights. All Ang is asking for in her article is that non-Muslim religious societies be allowed in schools as they used to be before. This kind of extrapolation is a tactic we have often seen being used by alarmists and ultras. Perhaps it’s a first here for a PhD holder.

Why does he sneer at the Singapore Malays? By all accounts, they are happy being where they are.
There’s more. In response to Ang’s remark that if she were a mother, she would not send her children to national schools to have their race, traditions and faith beliefs disparaged, Tee says: “She doesn’t need to send her ‘children’ (if she has children who are legitimate) to a national school, if she has no confidence in national schools …” [Beliau tidak perlu menghantar ‘anak’nya (jika ada anak sah taraf) ke sekolah kebangsaan, jika dia tidak yakin dengan sekolah kebangsaan …]

Tee’s insinuation that Ang may have illegitimate children is a low blow, and totally uncalled-for and irrelevant. And insulting.

Unfair comparison with Singapore

This comes after he has made an obnoxious sweeping statement: “There’s only one thing I ask of her and her community – practise the teachings of their religion by eschewing gambling, adultery, free sex, etc. Then this country will be peaceful.” [Satu sahaja yang saya pinta agar beliau dan sekutunya, beramal dengan ajaran agama mereka dengan menjauhi judi, arak, zina, seks bebas dan lain-lain. Barulah aman negara ini.]

What does he mean by this? Which community is he insulting? What is the relevance of this remark to the debate at hand? Is this person who holds a doctorate so incapable of dealing with the points related to the issue that he has to resort to personal insult?

Is he alleging that non-Muslims gamble, commit adultery, indulge in free sex and bear illegitimate children, and that that is the cause of the lack of peace in the country? Is he provoking non-Muslims to cry sedition? Does he not realise that he is insulting Ang’s morality and her religion by making these absurd and uncalled-for assumptions? Is that the strategy for a civilised intellectual debate?

Is it also Tee’s strategy to make a personal attack on Ang? “To say that she’s proud of her ancestry would not be right either, because she prefers to use a white man’s name although she has slit eyes.” [Nak kata beliau bangga dengan keturunannya, tidak juga, sebab beliau lebih gemar menggunakan nama Mat Salleh walaupun matanya begitu sepet.] You mean, he’s not aware of the existence of Christian names?

That aside, there are at least a couple of other things that he needs to be enlightened on.

Really, it is this fixation on the issue of race that has brought our country into a fine mess.
One concerns the Malays of Singapore. He alleges that Singapore was stolen (dirampas) from them and that they have accepted it quietly, even though Muslim and Malay rights are gradually being withdrawn (dicabut) and eroded (terhakis). He even says these rights are being diluted (dicairkan) by the Singapore Malays themselves.

This shows Tee’s lack of understanding of History 101. Singapore was not stolen from the Malays. In 1965, it was agreed to that Singapore would secede from Malaysia, a move that in fact caused its leader, Lee Kuan Yew, to shed tears. It was a move agreed to by the Alliance, spearheaded by Umno, which was led then by Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Now that Tee has been duly informed, perhaps he should take up the case against Umno, the Alliance (which has since become Barisan Nasional – also History 101) and the Tunku.

Why does he sneer at the Singapore Malays? By all accounts, they are happy being where they are. Hasn’t he read the recent testimonies of Malays in Singapore saying how much better off they are there? How about the one by the Berita Harian editor Guntor Sadali? For Tee’s benefit, here are some excerpts:

“For Malays in Singapore, power is not about wielding the keris. For us, knowledge is … THE real power … We do not believe in getting any special treatment, because it would only reduce the value of our achievements and lower our dignity … Dr Mahathir [Mohamad] and some Malay leaders across the Causeway do not like the way we do things here and have therefore warned Malaysian Malays not to be like us. On our part, there is certainly no turning back. Meritocracy has proven to be a good and fair system. It pushes us to work hard and makes us proud of our achievements. We can see how it has benefitted us by looking at the growing number of doctors, lawyers, magistrates, engineers, corporate leaders and other professionals among us … So, the question is: Shouldn’t our friends and relatives across the Causeway be like us – Malays in Singapore? … We need to help and strengthen each other while at the same time reach out to the other communities in multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore. A successful and prosperous Singapore can only mean a successful and prosperous Malay community. Can we do it? Well, to borrow US President Barack Obama’s campaign slogan, ‘Yes, we can.’”

That is truly positive thinking, which is so refreshingly different from the chasing-at-shadows, dog-in-the-manger mentality demonstrated by Tee. So who is Tee to tell the Singapore Malays what to do?

Stop the narrow compartmentalisation

And who is Tee to tell Helen Ang to go back to her homeland, meaning, to him, China? Ang has no other homeland than Malaysia. She was born here, raised here, has lived here her whole life. This is her homeland as much as it is Tee’s. What makes Tee so special that he can tell her to go home?

If one wants to get personal, one could even say that Tee’s ancestors also came from China and therefore his homeland, by his own reckoning, should be China. But that would be going down to his level, and I’m not a PhD holder. Perhaps he hasn’t heard the saying, “People who live in glass houses should not undress.”

CIMB’s CEO, Nazir Razak, recently told the Chinese Economic Congress that the family of Tan Siok Choo whose grandfather was Tan Cheng Lock, one of the leaders of Malaya’s independence, came to settle in this country even earlier than his own.

This means that Tan’s family was here even earlier than our prime minister Najib Razak’s family, since Nazir is his brother. Doesn’t it make nonsense of Tee’s point that Najib can become prime minister when a Chinese person like Ang cannot speak the truth without being told to go back to China?

And what is this hogwash he says about Lina Joy? That since she cannot be considered Malay any more by leaving Islam, because the Federal Constitution defines a Malay as being someone who professes the Islamic religion, she is no longer eligible to live in this country because she has no race? Where is it written that you need to belong to a race to live in Malaysia?

Really, it is this fixation on the issue of race that has brought our country into a fine mess.

As Tee came from an ethnic Chinese background, he should understand this quite well. If he is a true scholar, he would celebrate diversity rather than settle for narrow compartmentalisation.

After all, Islam celebrates diversity and accepts all the different kinds of people and cultures that God created on Earth. Shouldn’t Tee follow that Islamic spirit?

Will our graft busters go the distance?

By Terence Fernandez, TheSun,

THE charging of three Tourism Ministry officials yesterday for criminal breach of trust involving close to RM1 million goes a distance to show that the government is serious in nipping in the bud corruption and misuse of public funds.

However, while the likes of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the police may get some brownie points for their efforts, especially since the netting of a big fish in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco, the people still need convincing that the real culprits – the ones with money and connections will not be let off the hook.

After all what is RM1 million compared to the millions siphoned from public funds?

Last Thursday, the courts in Shah Alam and Kajang were all abuzz that there would be more VIPs reined in over the PKFZ fiasco and another case in Selangor. But reporters were left disappointed when no one turned up.

What went down for sure, according to our sources, is that frantic phone calls and horse-trading were the order of the day.

There is no evidence to show that the perpetrators will be let off. But what is certain is that the phone calls bought a little time. For what one is unsure. It is perhaps, as some speculate, to destroy evidence or to effect a plea bargain to give up bigger fish.

Unfortunately, the reality of things is that when it comes to several characters, applying the full weight of the law depends on political expediency and repercussions.

Taking one down will mean taking others down as well, and sometimes, it may not be in the best interest of the political longevity of certain individuals as well as the party they represent.

In the midst of all these, the A-G’s Chambers, the MACC and the police become unwitting and unwilling players in the game of political one up-manship. And herein lies the true test of the independence of these institutions.

PJ Selatan get to know your MP

By Haris Ibrahim,

Since my ‘Get to know your Pakatan MP’ post, the number in the PJ Selatan get to know your MP initiative has grown to 6.
If we can get another 4 volunteers by this weekend, we might be able to plan for a first meeting some time next week.
If you are a registered voter in PJ Selatan and would like to get involved in this effort, send me an e-mail at
I have also received requests for similar initiatives for the following constituencies :
1. Kuching
2. Ipoh Barat
3. Selayang
4. Ampang
5. Kelana Jaya
6. Lembah Pantai
I’m prepared to make time to help get initiatives in these constituencies off the ground and running if there are 10 from each of these constituencies prepared to be involved in the same.
Any takers?

The decline of the student movement

By Gan Pei Ling | 17 August 2010 | The Nut Graph

IN the second of a two-part interview, self-taught people’s historian Fahmi Reza tells The Nut Graph more about the 1960s student movement, why their history has been under-documented, and what happened to it after its climax in 1969.
(All images courtesy of Fahmi Reza)
(All images courtesy of Fahmi Reza)
TNG: Is there a particular reason why you named your lecture Student Power?
Fahmi Reza: Yes, Student Power means “mahasiswa ada kuasa dalam pentadbiran universiti”. The students knew [and asserted] their rights in the 1960s and demanded for the democratisation of university.
You see, near the end of the 1960s, the university management was still divorced from the students. So even though the students were the majority in campus, they had no voice in the university’s running. That’s why they started pushing for representation and participation in the decision-making process of the university – in the administration of residential colleges, faculties, the library, and later at the highest level of university administration, the University Council and Senate.
The students fought for real student power back then. And I think this has always been the case with rights – if you don’t push and demand for it, the people in power are not going to give it to you for free.
Were the majority of university students active in the movement in the 1960s?
In any student movement, only around 5% will be the activists at the forefront. The difference is whether you have the critical mass to back your movement. Key student activists like Khong (Kim Hoong) and Syed Hamid Ali were, of course, more active than the rest of the student body. But they had the majority support of the students.
Even though the majority were not be at the forefront of the movement, they would still join in if there were demonstrations against injustice.
And bear in mind, these students were not blind followers. The students’ political consciousness was higher back then. They knew about the issues, and they were informed and exposed to different perspectives and ideas through the speaker’s corner, political forums, student newspapers, etc.
The students employed a multilingual strategy in their election rallies: Syed Hamid Ali would speak in Bahasa Malaysia, Khong Kim Hoong in English, Yoong Suan in Mandarin, Chong Lai Huat in Hokkien, and Justin Chang in Cantonese. Rex Michael wasn't at all the rallies, but whenever he was present, he would speak in Tamil
The student activists employed a multilingual strategy in their election rallies: Syed Hamid Ali would speak in Bahasa Malaysia, Khong Kim Hoong in English, Yoong Suan in Mandarin, Chong Lai Huat in Hokkien, and Justin Chang in Cantonese. Rex Michael wasn't at all the rallies, but whenever he was present, he would speak in Tamil
It seems the student movement was really quite radical and influential in those days, but their history is somehow under-documented?
Unfortunately, most of the student activists from the 1960s are not writing about their experience. [I also noticed that] the student movement’s history was omitted from (Tan Sri Prof Emeritus Dr) Khoo Kay Kim’s book 100 years the University of Malaya (2005) on UM’s history. Even though he was teaching history in UM in the 1960s and 1970s and he knew what happened, he didn’t mention the student movement in his book at all.
When I confronted him about it, he said the students didn’t do anything significant, that they were just a bunch of left-wing troublemakers. People always think historians were or should be neutral, but clearly they’re not. [Some of them only] look at history from above, from the ruler’s point of view. I’m more interested to look at history from below, from the people’s and students’ perspectives.
So I’m doing what I can to document these stories [of the student movement] before they are lost. The movement’s history and tradition are actually very rich, and I think the students deserve to know that, because it’s part of their history.
We once had a student movement that was politically conscious and alive and kicking in the 1960s. What happened to it in the 1970s?
UM was set up by the British in 1949 during the colonial days, so it followed the established Western university system and tradition. Education was left in the hands of educators. The government didn’t interfere with university administration, and the university administration didn’t interfere with student affairs. So the students enjoyed a lot of freedom and autonomy back then.
Clipping dated 11 May 1969 (Click on image for bigger view)
Clipping dated 11 May 1969 (Click on image for bigger view)
However, when the students started taking up issues outside campus, like when they held protests and stood up for the poor Malay peasantry and took part in the 1969 general election, the government began to feel threatened.
Also, the 1960s was a period of student uprising all over the world, and at the forefront were left-wing student leaders and organisations. In Paris during May 1968, students joined forces with workers and trade unions in the largest hartal (strike) in history that brought Paris to a standstill. They almost toppled the oppressive right-wing French government under General De Gaulle. In the US and Europe, students led protests against the Vietnam War. The power of these worldwide student movements was real. I’m sure the Malaysian government realised it.
So the government responded by enacting Auku (Universities and University Colleges Act 1971) to curb the autonomy of the students union and the power of the student movement. But of course, the students resisted. There was a clause in Auku that said exemption could be given by the (Yang di-Pertuan) Agong to certain universities. So Umsu (University of Malaya Students’ Union) fought for it and was exempted from Auku’s claws.
When the students took up the issue of poor Malay peasantry again in 1974, the government felt seriously threatened. So they banned Umsu, the Socialist Club in UM, and the National Union of Malaysian Students. They replaced powerful student unions like Umsu with the [comparatively] inferior students’ representative council (Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar), [which practically] had no power, no say, no independence or autonomy to handle students’ affairs. Badan Hal Ehwal Pelajar (Student Affairs Department) was set up and university administrators took over students’ affairs.
Reflecting on the current situation of student activism in Malaysia, do you think there will be a time when the student movement becomes as, if not more, vibrant as it was in the 1960s?
Yes, if the students want it. I see change coming from below; it’s all about building a critical mass.
If the students were aware [of the freedom and autonomy their predecessors in the 1960s enjoyed], would they choose the present system, or would they choose what the students used to have in the 1960s? Which one would you choose?

NDM-1 – is it the death knell for medical tourism?


Medical tourism, long ostracized as an evil third world nations with limited health-care resources should not be dabbling in, may have finally met its fatal match. Last week, the British based, Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal reported the emergence of highly resistant bacteria carrying a new gene termed New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM-1) and specifically associated it with medical tourism as the bacteria seems to have originated in patients frequenting India and Pakistan for procedures such as cosmetic and transplant surgery. NDM-1 is actually an enzyme that is produced by bacteria. The ability of bacteria to produce NDM-1 is apparently the result of mobile genes that can readily jump from various different bacterial populations allowing them to incorporate these special genes into their chromosomes.

The danger of NDM-1 is that it can fight against most known antibiotics known to man, thereby rendering the human species defenseless against these superbugs. It was first discovered in December 2009 by Yong and associates who described them in a Swedish national who fell ill with an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection that he acquired in India. The infection was unsuccessfully treated in a New Delhi hospital and after the patient’s repatriation to Sweden, the gene was identified there.

The two key authors of the Lancet paper, Karthikeyan Kumarasamy and Timothy Walsh attribute the new strain as a result of antibiotic abuse and global travel. In particular, the resistant bacteria appear to have evolved in third world nations where usage of antibiotics is poorly supervised. Further in countries like China, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Mexico and even perhaps Malaysia all fingers appear to point to patients themselves who tend to shop around for doctors hoping for that miracle antibiotic that will cure their infection and in the process help genes like NDM -1 to evolve. Walsh pointedly, in his article anointed the blame to India and Pakistan and to medical tourism, although his postgraduate student and lead author, Kumarasamy, originally from the Medical College of Madras and now based at Cardiff appeared to want to distance himself from these inferences to avoid embarrassing his native India.

Indian medical authorities themselves are in a state of denial, ignoring the clear evidence that points to NDM-1’s origin in Indian private hospitals. The Indian medical community is up in arms for even naming the gene after the nation’s capital New Delhi, although the norm in microbiology has always been that new genes be named after the place of origin. Indian authorities are variously describing the clear impact of the Lancet article as a ‘conspiracy’ and an attack on the country’s lucrative medical tourism industry. However they are on thin ice as it turns out, that not only two of the authors were from India’s Apollo Hospital, long seen as the bastion of Indian medical tourism but in fact they had already been pre-warned by Dr K. Abdul Ghafur, himself a consultant in infectious diseases at the Apollo Hospital, Chennai.

Ghafur, in a signed article titled “An obituary-Death of Antibiotics” in the Journal of Association of Indian Physicians (JAPI) in March this year was already complaining about the Indian approach to tackling NDM-1. He observed: “The easiest way of tackling the superbug problem is to use the notorious ostrich strategy, which denies the existence of the problem – stop looking for these bugs, stop looking for the hidden resistance mechanisms and closing your eyes even if you find them”. Let’s hope Malaysia will not adopt similar strategies. The same issue of JAPI carried a study by Dr P. Deshpande from Hinduja National Hospital, Mumbai, reporting the isolation of 22 NDM-1 producing bacteria in just three months. “If a single hospital can isolate such a significant number of bacteria with a new resistance gene in a short period of time, the data from all Indian hospitals, if available would potentially be more interesting and shocking than the human genome project data,” Ghafur wrote.

Walsh in his Lancet article himself concludes that bacteria with NDM-1 are highly resistant to many antibiotic classes and potentially herald the end of treatment with the main antibiotic classes for the treatment of infections. He further quotes Ghafur again who highlighted the widespread non-prescription use of antibiotics in India and predicts that the NDM-1 problem is likely to get substantially worse in the foreseeable future. Even more disturbing is that most of the Indian isolates from Chennai and Haryana were from community-acquired infections, suggesting that NDM-1 is widespread in the environment.

Given the historical links between India and the UK, it was unsurprising that the UK is the first western country to register the widespread presence of NDM-1-positive bacteria. However, it is not the only country affected. In addition to the first isolate from Sweden, a NDM-1-positive isolate was recovered from a patient who was an Australian resident of Indian origin and had visited Punjab in late 2009. These conclusions make one ponder if NDM-1 already exists in the many Malaysian patients who frequent India for medical treatment, the many Indonesian patients who frequent Malaysia for treatment and the many Malaysian patients who frequent Singapore for their medical therapy.

Several of the UK source patients had undergone elective, including cosmetic surgery while visiting India or Pakistan. India also provides cosmetic surgery for other Europeans and Americans, and NDM-1 will likely spread worldwide. Walsh cautions the calls in the popular press for UK patients to opt for corrective surgery in India with the aim of saving the NHS money. Such a proposal might ultimately cost the NHS substantially more than the short-term saving and he has strongly advised against such proposals. The potential for wider international spread of producers and for NDM-1-encoding plasmids to become endemic worldwide, are clear and frightening.

Following the Lancet article, the UK’s Guardian, in their ominously titled article, “Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?” warn that in the very near future, we’re going to have to learn to live without them once again. The era of antibiotics is coming to a close and the post-antibiotic apocalypse is within sight. Since antibiotics are generally for short term use, Big Pharma has shown little enthusiasm in developing new antibiotics as there is just not much money in it.

The implications of a world without antibiotics are wide. A lot of modern medicine would become impossible if the ability to treat infections is lost. This is especially so in transplant and cancer surgery. Surgery will be thrown back to the pre Fleming era of 1928 when penicillin was discovered. Apart from NDM 1-producing bacteria, an enzyme called KPC has spread in the US (and in Israel and Greece) which also gives bacteria resistance to the carbapenems, the most powerful group of antibiotics we (once) had.

So the game now is to keep bacteria at bay. Hygiene is an obvious weapon. Better cleaning, hand gels and stern warnings to staff and public alike have helped reduce infection rates in hospitals. Beyond that, there is a real need to conserve those antibiotics we have. Walsh’s report shows that the battle to control the emergence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs through appropriate use of antibiotics must be fought at an international level. It illustrates the importance of considering health issues as a world issue – how antibiotics are prescribed and controlled in one part of the world can very rapidly have consequences elsewhere. What happens when antibiotics don’t work? The Guardian has listed the following:


Transplant surgery becomes virtually impossible.

Removing a burst appendix becomes a dangerous operation once again.

Pneumonia becomes once more “the old man’s friend”.

Gonorrhea becomes hard to treat.

Tuberculosis becomes incurable

Malaysia which is still grappling with problems like dengue and worse still the re-emergence of “old” diseases like malaria, TB and leptospirosis, the Lancet report cannot have come at worser time. Malaysia’s nationalized but understaffed healthcare system is already lacking experienced personnel in almost every field of medicine. A world without effective antibiotics will not only sound the death knell for medical tourism right from Singapore through Malacca and Penang, but our hospitals and ICUs can potentially be flooded with patients afflicted with serious infections with surgery or any invasive procedure being virtually impossible to perform. It also highlights what a fragile world we actually live in. It may not necessarily take a tsunami, massive earthquake or a giant meteor to wipe out the human race. It may only require a single gene – like the NDM-1.

If Najib’s 1Malaysia is to have real meaning, Siti Inshah should not only be removed from the education service, there should be no place in civil service for other Siti Inshahs

In the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election in August 2008, the Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail referred to the Malaysian Chinese as pendatang, orang tumpang and totally untrustworthy Malaysians.

In February this year, the special officer to the Prime Minister, Datuk Nasir Safar labeled Indians and Chinese in Malaysia as “pendatang”, and added insult to injury in declaring that “Indians came to Malaysia as beggars and Chinese especially women came to sell their bodies”.

Last Thursday, at the launch of the Merdeka celebrations of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Kulai, the school principal Hajah Siti Inshah binti Mansor said: “Pelajar-pelajar Cina tidak diperlukan dan boleh balik ke China ataupun Sekolah Foon Yew. Bagi pelajar India, tali sembahyang yang diikat di pergelangan tangan dan leher pelajar nampak seakan anjing dan hanya anjing akan mengikat seperti itu.”

The severest disciplinary action must be taken against Siti Inshah, who is clearly unfit to be in the education service of a multi-racial society like Malaysia let alone a school principal – going against the very precepts of the 1Malaysia policy enunciated by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak since April last year.

But what defies the imagination is that Siti Inshah could make such a derogatory, offensive, insensitive and racist statement at an occasion to launch the school’s National Day celebrations.

The theme of this year’s Merdeka celebrations is “1Malaysia Transforms the Nation”.

But how meaningful is Najib’s 1Malaysia when school principals like Siti Inshah could show utter contempt for Malaysia’s most important and richest asset – a model of ethnic, cultural and biological diversity?

The Ahmad Ismail-Nasir Safar-Siti Inshah incidents are a collective indictment of the failure of the processs of Malaysian nation-building 53 years after Merdeka, bearing testimony as to how apt was the theme of the recent speech of Umno veteran, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah – “We were once Malaysians!”

As Razaleigh rightly reminisced, the heroes of schoolchildren in the 1970s were Soh Chin Aun, R. Arumugam, Isa Bakar, Santokh Singh, James Wong and Mokhtar Dahari – rising completely above race.

The Ahmad Ismail-Nasir Safar-Siti Inshah incidents would have been completely unthinkable in the early decades of national independence as nobody would have thought it possible that a school principal would make the derogatory, offensive, insensitive and racist statements like the one that was made in the Kulai secondary school last Thursday.

What has gone wrong with Malaysian nation-building, 53 years after Merdeka and 47 years after the formation of Malaysia?

This is what should concern the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

It is clear that the Ahmad Ismail-Nasir Safar-Siti Inshah episodes are not isolated incidents but reflects a deeper national malady contributed no doubt by the communal brain-washings perpetrated by Biro Tata Negara over the decades.

If Najib’s 1Malaysia policy is to have real meaning, Siti Inshah should not only be removed from the education service, there should be no place in the public service for other Siti Inshahs.

This is a task the Cabinet tomorrow should put on top of its agenda. Are the Barisan Nasional Ministers equal to the challenge?

Three Men Charged With Robbery, Discharge Of Firearms

ALOR SETAR, Aug 17 (Bernama) -- Three men were charged in the Magistrate's Court here Tuesday with robbery and discharge of firearms with the intention to cause death last month.

Marzuki Choo Abdullah, 30, Lim Kok Sin, 39, and Zulkifly A. Rahman, 25, were charged with committing the offence at Amigo jewellery shop at No. 27, Pekan Tanah Merah, Pendang, near here, at 12.30pm on July 4.

No plea was recorded.

They face the mandatory death sentence if convicted under Section 3 of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971 read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code.

Magistrate Nor Azah Idris fixed Oct 24 for the mention.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ana Rozana Md Nor prosecutes.

Settler files lawsuit claiming unlawful detention after dialogue

The Star 

TEMERLOH: Persatuan Anak Felda (Anak) president Mazlan Aliman has filed a RM20mil suit against four parties, including the Government, for his unlawful arrest and detention after a meeting at a settler’s house in Raub in March.

Mazlan, 44, named Lembah Klau Felda manager Awang Sulong, arresting officer Insp Mohd Azran Rahmat, Felda and the Government as defendants.

He also asked for a declaration that his 24-hour detention from March 9 until 10am the next day was wrongful imprisonment, and the remand order issued by the Raub magistrate’s court dated March 10 was null and void. The suit was filed by Mazlan’s counsel Wan Rohimi Wan Daud at the Temerloh High Court here yesterday.

In his statement of claim, Mazlan said that he had arrived at Felda Lembah Klau, Raub, on March 9 after he was invited for a dialogue over various issues at the land scheme.

He alleged that there was a roadblock to prevent him from attending the dialogue, which was held at the house of settler Hamidun Yeop Isa.

Mazlan said he then lodged a police report over the incident while the Felda manager, who watched the dialogue, made a report against him for criminal trespass.

The plaintiff also claimed that the story of his arrest and detention appeared in the print and electronic media, which had brought him shame. Mazlan, who gave a press conference outside the court, broke down midway over his description of how his children were affected by his ordeal.

Symbiosis between religion and human rights

The Star 

Religion has the potential strength to contribute meaningfully to better acceptance of human rights, the two being interdependent forms of social ordering across the world.

THE relationship between religion and human rights (what I personally term human-rightism) is complicated and likely to remain controversial. To foster a better understanding between them, Ikim took the initiative to organise the seminar Religion and Human Rights: Towards a Better Understanding in June.

Fifteen papers were deliberated, including a keynote address by Mashood A. Baderin, Professor of Law and Head of the School of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Mashood, who specialises in human rights, Islamic Law and international human rights law, is a prolific scholar on the subject matter, with books and numerous articles as well as paper presentations all over the world.

Also notable is his incredible engagements with human rights related organisations worldwide.

Sections of the following discussion are rephrased from his paper while some others are reproduced and, to a certain extent, quoted verbatim from what he had written.

Mashood begins his 15-page deliberation by underlining the importance of exploring means to ensure a better understanding between fundamentals of religions and human rights principles.

I share his opinion that religion has the potential strength to contribute meaningfully to better acceptance of human rights. I also share his disappointment that this has not been fully explored, and religion is still perceived by many as part of the problem in human life, rather than part of the solution.

Mashood treats religion and human rights as very important and inter dependent forms of social ordering across the world. Rejecting those who hold that the two should fight for their survival, he opines that both religion and human rights should stay side by side, and neither is likely to disappear for the other.

He says that “a positive relationship between the two is necessary for the realisation of universal human rights as well as the humane ideals promoted by all religions”.

Thus he suggests that both the advocates of religious norms and the vanguards of human rights doctrines “must as a matter of necessity promote a harmonious co-existence between the two”.

He further notes that religion has been associated with human existence since time immemorial. It has shaped human behaviour and social order in different ways for centuries.

Apparently, religion plays a powerful influence in the individual and collective lives of billions of people either privately or publicly everywhere.

Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, human-rightism has become “a global ideal that cannot be ignored, not only by states but also by individuals and communities all over the world”. Thus, apart from religion, human-rightism as an ideology has also established itself as a parallel and formidable form of social ordering.

“There is no doubt that the implementation of human rights norms in most societies today requires thoughtful and well-informed engagement with religion because religious considerations are too important for the majority of people for human rights scholars and advocates to continue to dismiss them simply as irrelevant, insignificant, or problematic,” Mashood opines.

“Similarly, human rights are too appealing to a vast majority of religious adherents in today’s world for religious scholars and advocates to dismiss it as simply superfluous.”

Next, Mashood turns to the conceptual understanding of the relationship between religion and human-rightism. It is underpinned by three theoretical perspectives, namely, the separationist, accommodationist and double-edged perspectives. I will only discuss the first two as they well illustrate the positions adopted by the masses.

The separationist concept is that religion and human-rightism “should tenuously occupy their separate realms of the divine and the secular respectively”.

This perception obviously promotes a rigid secular approach to human-rightism without any intermingling with or interference of religious or moral norms. It is a strict either/or approach.

From this perspective, human-rightism is perceived as a strictly secular concept based on a secular humanistic ideology with an emphasis to confer upon man a kind of absolute autonomy, freedom and liberty in whatever he/she does or chooses.

Ironically, though freedom of religion is recognised as one of the human rights principles under this concept, religion itself is not considered as a source or basis for human rights norms.

Mashood cautions Muslims of one apparent danger of this perception. It is the tendency to represent human-rightism as a complete alternative ideology that is in direct confrontation with religion. He warns that this perspective is not healthy to be promoted to, and embraced by, Muslims.

On the other hand, the accommodationist concept “perceives religion as a relevant and important normative factor that can be accommodated for the promotion and protection of human rights, particularly in religious-oriented societies or communities”.

This perspective is generally based on a naturalist perception linking its foundations with the concept of natural rights, traditionally underpinned by religion.

Its primary argument is that since human-rightism is mainly characterised by the need for humanness, considerations or morality and human dignity, religious fundamentals and teachings can make positive contributions in this regard. Therefore, it has to be normatively accommodated.

This concept provides a means through which religious teachings and human rights principles can be harmonised to operate in synergy.

Unlike the separationist concept, the accommodationist theory does not perceive the relationship between the two as a competition of values. On the contrary, it encourages understanding, constructive engagement and dialogue between the two.

Mashood holds that in Muslim countries, this accommodationist perception represents the best way to encourage a harmonious relationship between Islamic principles and human rights norms.

Support Beng Hock! Dr. Pornthip's testimony on Weds

Malaysians for Beng Hock Campaign:
Dear fellow Malaysians, please lend your support to Dr. Pornthip and Beng Hock’s family by present at inquest on 18/8/10 (Wed), 9am, Shah Alam High Court. Dr. Pornthip will testify at the inquest that day. Please contact Yap Hwa at 012-2658448 if you have any queries.
Rakyat Malaysia diminta memberi sokongan kepada Dr. Pornthip dan keluarga Beng Hock dengan menghadiri inqueks pada 18/8/10(Rabu), 9am di mahkamah tinggi Shah Alam. Dr. Pornthip akan beri keterangan pada hari tersebut. Sila hubungi Yap Hwa pada 012-2658448 jika ada sebarang pertanyaan

Display of tolerance on convert's death

(NST) MUAR: What could have been a tense stand-off was averted when the family of a deceased Muslim convert was allowed to bring home his body to pay their last respects.

The conversion of Abdul Rahman Abdullah, 52, was only discovered by his family after he died of renal failure at Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital here about 5am yesterday.

He was formerly a Hindu with the name V.V. Ramakrishnan.

A discussion between family members and officials of the Johor Islamic Religious Department (JAIJ) at the hospital mortuary resulted in an agreement that Rahman's body be taken home for a while but without a Hindu burial rite being performed.

Muar Indian Association vice-president Dr Samuel R.T. Abraham and Malaysia Hindu Sangam Muar branch chairman R. Suppiah were also involved in the talks.

Rahman is survived by his Hindu wife and two sons. He was the site supervisor of a landscaping company in Kuala Lumpur.

Suppiah, who acted as the spokesman for the family, said they were not aware of Rahman's conversion until his death but respected his choice of religion.

However, he called for clear-cut guidelines to be formulated to avoid problems faced by family members of converts at the time of their death.

JAIJ Muar head Dzulkifli Mohamad said the Islamic authorities had always practised tolerance when dealing with such cases. "We always try to provide the best solution for everyone, be it the family of the deceased, the Muslim community or the deceased.

"This is definitely not a case of us unfairly exerting our authority over anyone as we are merely doing what is right for everyone under the circumstances."

Dzulkifli said Rahman had converted to Islam in Selangor several years ago and married a Muslim woman in Indonesia.

Rahman was buried at the Muslim cemetery in Bakri here.

Tamil migrants say they are fleeing mass murders

Canadian Border officials and police stand the deck of the MV Sun Sea (C) as it is guided into Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt with an estimated 490 suspected Tamil migrants on board in Colwood, B.C. on Vancouver Island Aug. 13, 2010.

Stewart Bell, National Post

VANCOUVER — The Tamil migrants smuggled to the B.C. coast aboard the MV Sun Sea have released statements saying they are civilians fleeing disappearances and mass murders in Sri Lanka.

In a letter obtained by the National Post, a group of migrants detained at a prison near Vancouver thanked Canada and disputed what they called Sri Lankan government propaganda about them.

“We would like to ask the Canadian people and the Canadian Government to have faith in us to believe that we are innocent civilians who have been affected by the conflict,” it reads.

“We are not terrorists. We would also like to let you know that we will abide and live by the laws of this country.”

A second letter, signed “Tamil people from the Sun Sea ship,” says they traveled four months with little food, water, sleeping space, medicine and sanitary facilities.

“We have traveled for almost four months with much suffering and pain. We have come here, to this wonderful country Canada, to protect ourselves and our family members from the murders, disappearances and violence that still exist in our native country,” it reads.

“As a country which has embraced immigrants and migrants, we hope and believe that you will accept us, the refugees and we vow to wholeheartedly abide by the law and order of this country.”

The statements are the first accounts to emerge from the 492 migrants who arrived on the West Coast late last week aboard a smuggling ship that had sailed from the Gulf of Thailand in May.

All are believe to be ethnic Tamils from Sri Lanka. Those who have met them at the provincial prisons where they are being held said some have war wounds. Two are pregnant. There are families, a couple in their seventies and two journalists. A 37-year-old man died at sea of illness.

Women told of sleeping under a tent on the deck of the 59-metre cargo ship, sharing a bathroom among 50 people, cooking the South Asian sweet ladu and making tea with rain water.

“I left my son, I left my husband to come through hell so that I don’t have to live in hell in Sri Lanka,” said one detained woman.

The Canada Border Services Agency is trying to determine the migrants’ identities and whether any are former Tamil Tiger guerrillas. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has said he was concerned Tamil Tigers were on board.

As the National Post first reported last weekend, the minister alleges the migrant smuggling ship was a moneymaking venture by elements of the rebel organization.

He said they charged $40,000 to $50,000 a head and probably paid about $1-million for the ship. That could give them a profit of $20-million. He said the smugglers are closely watching Canada’s response and that more ships may be coming.

The RCMP is investigating.

The migrants’ letters say conditions in Sri Lanka remain harsh for ethnic Tamils. Sri Lanka is emerging from a lengthy civil war between government forces and separatist Tamil Tigers guerrillas.

“The Sri Lankan Government says that the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has come to an end. However, neither the Prevention of Terrorism Act (which allows for arbitrary arrest of civilians) nor the Emergency Regulations Act have been abolished,” one of the letters reads.

“Innocent Tamil people detained in prisons have not been released. Displaced civilians have not been resettled in their own homes. Instead, there is widespread occurrences of disappearances, mass murders and extortion.”

National Post

Letter 1:

These are the views we wish to express to the Canadian Government, Canadian people, media and Canadian Tamil Congress regarding our plight.

1. Initially, we would like to express our gratitude to the Canadian Government and the people of Canada. When we made our plea from the Pacific Ocean “we are civilians, please save us”, you did not hesitate to come and take us ashore and provide us with food, water, and fruits. This has assured us with the safety of our lives.

2. The Sri Lankan Government says that the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has come to an end. However, neither the Prevention of Terrorism Act [which allows for arbitrary arrest of civilians] nor the Emergency Regulations Act have been abolished. Innocent Tamil people detained in prisons have not been released. Displaced civilians have not been resettled in their own homes. Instead, there is widespread occurrences of disappearances, mass murders and extortion. The Sri Lankan Government is only conducting false propaganda internationally for its personal gains.

3. We would like to ask the Canadian people and the Canadian Government to have faith in us to believe that we are innocent civilians who have been affected by the conflict. We are not terrorists. We would also like to let you know that we will abide and live by the laws of this country.

Letter 2:

We, the people who have arrived in the ship “Sun Sea” would like to express the following to the Canadian people and the Canadian Government:

We have undergone severe hardships with very little or no access to basic necessities such as food, water, sleeping space, medicine and sanitary facilities. We have traveled for almost four months with much suffering and pain. We have come here, to this wonderful country Canada, to protect ourselves and our family members from the murders, disappearances and violence that still exist in our native country.

As a country which has embraced immigrants and migrants, we hope and believe that you will accept us, the refugees and we vow to wholeheartedly abide by the law and order of this country.

- Tamil people from the Sun Sea ship

Baby Ligers: Lion And Tiger Hybrids Born In Taiwan, Zoo May Face Fines For Crossbreeding Protected Species (VIDEO)

ITN News reports from Taiwan, where a male lion and female tigress have produced rare offspring.
Only two of the cubs survived -- known as ligers -- and are being hand reared by zoo staff, as they have been rejected by their mother. The private zoo where they were born tells ITN that the lion and tigress have been mating for three years, though no pregnancy has ever resulted. The animals have lived together since becoming comfortable around each other at a young age.
While the zoo insists the crossbreeding was unintentional, if authorities in Taiwan discover otherwise, the zoo may face fines for mixing rare and protected species.

MAS rugi RM8 bilion, siapa lindungi Tajuddin

Court: Saiful-Farah 'liaison' not enough to drop sodomy charge

Taliban stones man and woman to death for allegedly having affair

A file photograph of an Afghan woman in Kunduz province, where the Taliban stoned and man and a woman to death Sunday.

A file photograph of an Afghan woman in Kunduz province, where the Taliban stoned and man and a woman to death Sunday.
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Taliban stoned to death a man and a woman in northern Afghanistan for allegedly having an affair, officials said Monday.

The stoning took place Sunday in Dasht-e-Archi district, in the village of Mullah Qali -- a village dominated by the Taliban in Kunduz province.

The pair was accused of having an illicit sexual relationship, a spokesman for the Kunduz governor said.

Final verdict postponed for Iranian woman facing stoning

The woman was about 20 years old and the man was about 27, said Mohammed Ayuob, district governor of Amam Sahib, which is also in Kunduz province.

The woman was engaged, and the man was married to another woman. The two had been held by the Taliban for about a week, Ayuob said.

Samy Vellu’s daily side PTA

Samy Vellu’s Tamil daily, Tamil Nesan, in their editorial today backed Tamil School Parents and teachers Association (PTA) for Selangor states four million allocation for Tamil School development. 

“Many PTA’s have shown excessive interest in the development of Tamil Schools except for a few. PTA’s have direct knowledge of their schools fundamental issues’, the daily said.

The daily believes any allocation of funds may not be misused as Parents and Teachers are obliged to question the usage.

“The contributions of EWRF, CHILD and Tamil Foundation in the country for the student’s educational curriculum cannot be forgotten. But they or anyone for the matter should not ‘chest beat’ to be the sole custodian of Tamil Schools”.

The daily, however, did not touch on the ruckus created by Puchong Murali and his coteries at a recent meeting with state Excos. 

The aggressions captured in video are appalling but both Tamil Nesan and Makkal Osai have been generally giving positive coverage for Murali. 

One PTA chairman was beaten repeatedly and was seen running around the hall which was not being highlighted but rather projecting Murali as the PTA’s champion.

Meanwhile, a briefing for PTA members was held on Sunday evening at KPS Travels hall, Klang where K Arumugam and his supporters attended. 

Arumugam defended the allocation of 1.6 million to the three organizations.

At times becoming emotional, Arumugam outlined the programs conducted by EWRF, CHILD and TF using the fund. 

Ilanthalir magazine was published in 15 days and supplied to all the Tamil Schools free and we have documents signed by the recipients. People who say they did not receive are simply lying”. 

“I’m the editor of this magazine. I challenge anyone to publish this magazine with the same cost”.
Murugan, former Selangor Tamil School coordinator, also delivered a speech in support of the NGO’s. 

Deputy minister in vice ring: Two new alleged victims

By Zefry Dahalan - Free Malaysia Today

SEREMBAN: A PKR leader today revealed that two more girls have contacted him to claim that a deputy minister was involved in vice activities.

Perak's Kampung Tawas PKR branch chief MS Arjunan caused a stir on Saturday when he lodged a report in Kuala Lumpur against Federal Territories and Urban Well-being deputy minister M Saravanan over the vice allegations.

Arjunan's report was based on a letter which he claimed to have received from a victim.

Today Arjunan was called up to the Negeri Sembilan police headquarters for his statement to be recorded. The case has been transferred to Negeri Sembilan as the victim hails from there.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with the police, Arjunan claimed that he received telephone calls from the two girls who backed up the vice claims made by the first girl.

"The girl who called me yesterday said she was calling from Masjid India and another girl who called me this morning said she is also from Kuala Lumpur.

"Both of them claimed their life has been 'damaged' due to Saravanan and may come forward to assist me if the situation necessitates it,” he said.

'Saravanan trying to contact me'

Arjunan also claimed that he has all the evidence to backup his claim but will only reveal them in court, if the case goes that far.

He also said that Saravanan attempted to speak to him by telephone today but the call was answered by his son and at the time, the police were recording Arjunan's statement.

He further refuted claims that he had an hidden agenda in highlighting this issue.

Meanwhile, PKR's Sikamat state assemblyman Aminuddin Harun urged the police to investigate the case fast without fear and favouritism.

"The victims are from a private college located in my constituency. If the allegations are true, the police must act swiftly and bring the justice to the victims," said Aminuddin.

In a related development, Bukit Aman CID director Mohd Bakri Zinin said the claim against Saravanan was baseless but said the police will still investigate the allegations.

Mohd Bakri said police have regarded it as baseless because the police report was not lodged by the victim but a third party who had alleged receiving an e-mail from the victim.

Saravanan meanwhile brushed aside the allegations as the work of a political rival.

DPM warns MCA on Bumi equity

By Patrick Lee - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today criticised MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek for questioning the 30% Bumiputera corporate equity.

“In the Barisan Nasional, we all have the same stand when it comes to issues about racial interests. This is not a new concept,” Muhyiddin said.

“If MCA wants to fight for the interests of the Chinese, then it should not go against the interests of the Malays. That is only fair,” he said after attending a function at a mosque here.

He was commenting on the 13 resolutions passed at Chinese Economic Congress on Saturday, which call for the gradual removal of the Bumiputera equity, as well as the participation of non-Malays in government-linked companies.

The congress, organised by the MCA, said that these bold reforms were needed to liberalise the economy further.

Chua today reiterated that his party will push hard for the implementation of the 13 resolutions passed at the congress.

However, he came under criticism from Muhyiddin for failing to recognise the plight of the Malays/Bumiputera.

“The 30% target that was set by the New Economic Policy (for the Malays) has not yet been achieved,” Muhyiddin said.

“This (30%) is not a very big number, considering that the Chinese already command more than 40% of the country's resources,” he said. “(In comparison), the Malays only command 18% or 20%”.

He added: “We must understand that in order to uplift the Malays (Bumiputera), we will have to continue with the New Economy Policy until the 30% threshold is achieved.”

“If the Chinese share was reduced from 40% to 20% after it was taken by the Bumiputeras, then I would understand,” he said, adding that while the Chinese have progressed, the Malays did not.

“How can the Malays be expected to rise (economically) if they're looked at from such a narrow point of view?”

“Chua should know that the Malays are not developed yet,” Muhyiddin said, adding that the MCA president should not create anger, especially when talking about the sensitivities of a certain race.

“Whatever MCA does, it has to remember that it still is a component party of the BN. We have principles that we have to stand by,” Muhyiddin added.

“I don't believe the MCA would want to sacrifice the friendship and the cooperation that it gained within BN.”

He also reminded everyone not to play up racial issues, saying that people should not forget the 1969 riots which had caused much suffering.

Okay, what about this affair then?

Aiyah! Prosecution star witness Saiful Bukhari Azlan bonking DPP Farah Azlina Latif. Then Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak aide Khairil Annas Jusoh bonking Saiful Bukhari Azlan. And now the AG himself bonking Head of International Affairs Division Azailiza Mohd Ahad.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Today, the Associated Press reported, "A Malaysian judge said Monday he considered allegations of an affair between a government prosecution lawyer and the man who accused opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy to be true but the relationship did not compromise the case."
Okay, the issue here is that the court has no doubt that the allegation that deputy public prosecutor Farah Azlina Latif is having an affair with the prosecution’s key witness in the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy II trial is true. The court is not concerned with whether an affair is going on or not. It is only concerned with whether the affair would compromise the trial.
In other words, is their any ‘pillow talk’ going on in between the bonking? And the court is convinced there is no pillow talk, just hardcore bonking. So there is no miscarriage of justice and therefore the charge against Anwar need not be dropped.
Why does the Attorney General not want to confirm or deny the allegation that a member of his team is bonking the prosecution’s key witness? Would it not be easy if he just denied it and solve the entire problem?
He is not prepared to risk his neck, first of all, because he knows it is true and he knows that if he tries to deny it more shit is going to hit the fan. But more importantly, he is worried that if he denies it then we would bring out another allegation of an affair, this time involving him and Datuk Azailiza binti Mohd Ahad, the Head of the International Affairs Division of the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Yes, everyone knows about this affair. It is no secret. The AG and Azailiza make frequent trips overseas together and, to save the taxpayers’ some money, they share a hotel room rather than book separate rooms.
Aiyah! Prosecution star witness Saiful Bukhari Azlan bonking DPP Farah Azlina Latif. Then Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak aide Khairil Annas Jusoh bonking Saiful Bukhari Azlan. And now the AG himself bonking Head of International Affairs Division Azailiza Mohd Ahad.
There appears to be a hell of a lot of bonking going on in the Palace of Justice. And with the Chief Justice illegally marrying a second wife in Thailand and then destroying the evidence to escape prosecution, like our Member of Parliament from Sabah, it makes one wonder how they even have enough time to prepare for the court cases.

Affair claim in Malaysia's Anwar trial deemed true
(Associated Press) - A Malaysian judge said Monday he considered allegations of an affair between a government prosecution lawyer and the man who accused opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy to be true but the relationship did not compromise the case.
Anwar insists the sodomy charge against him should be dropped after an opposition-linked activist claimed last month that a young female prosecution attorney in the trial had a recent affair with Anwar's accuser, a 25-year-old male former aide. Neither of them has directly responded to the allegation.
Anwar faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of sodomizing his ex-aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan. He insists the government concocted the charge in 2008 to sideline him after his opposition alliance made unprecedented electoral gains. Government authorities deny conspiring against Anwar.
High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah ruled Monday that the prosecution team in the trial had accepted the allegations of an affair to be true because it did not directly confirm or deny them.
"The court must accept what is stated as true," he said.
However, Mohamad Zabidin rejected Anwar's request for the charge to be dropped, saying the affair claim did not compromise the prosecution's integrity. Prosecution lawyers have argued that Farah Azlina Latif had been a junior member of the team and never had important documents in her possession.
Malaysia's attorney general ordered Farah removed from the case last month. He said although there was no proof to support the claim of an affair, the move would protect the prosecution's credibility.
The defense claims Farah might have leaked confidential information to Saiful, who should not have access to prosecution strategies.
Mohamad Zabidin postponed trial hearings until Sept. 20 after Anwar's lawyers said they would appeal his decision.
This is the second time Anwar has been accused of sodomy, a crime in this Muslim-majority country. He was imprisoned for six years starting in 1998 for sodomy and corruption. The sodomy conviction was later overturned.