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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Muslims in Spain campaign to worship alongside Christians

Cordoba, Spain (CNN) -- Muslims in Spain are campaigning to be allowed to worship alongside Christians in Cordoba Cathedral -- formerly the Great Mosque of Cordoba.
Today, at the original Cordoba mosque in Spain, there is no call to prayer, only the ringing of church bells. That's because the former mosque is now a working Catholic cathedral, performing a daily mass.
It's been a Cathedral since Spain's Christian monarchy conquered Cordoba in the 13th century and more than a million visitors walk through its doors every year.
Depictions of Jesus' crucifixion hang underneath the distinctive red-and-white arches of what was once the Muslim prayer hall. Cordoba's dazzling "mihrab" -- the sacred alcove from where Muslim prayer is lead -- still stands as a separate part of the site and is one of the main attractions for tourists.
Gallery: Can this holy site be shared?
In fact, the site remains significant for Muslims as a symbol of Islam's golden age of learning and religious tolerance. The Mosque of Cordoba was once famed for allowing both Christians and Muslims to pray together under the same roof.
Now, some Muslims are trying to repeat that history. Mansur Escudero, a Spanish convert to Islam, is leading the movement that is pushing for the right of Muslims to pray at the Cordoba Cathedral.
"I don't think it's important for Muslims. I think it's important for humankind," Escudero says. "We think this is a beautiful paradigm of tolerance, knowledge, culture. People of different religions living together."
We think this is a beautiful paradigm of tolerance, knowledge, culture. People of different religions living together.
Spain has more than a million Muslims, little more than two percent of the population. Most of that growth is made up of migrants from countries such as Morocco. But the southern European country has a significant community of Muslim converts inspired by its Islamic history.
In April, more than one hundred Muslim visitors staged a protest by unrolling their prayer rugs inside the site and beginning to pray. When security tried to remove them, the protest got violent and two were arrested.
According to Cordoba's Bishop, Demetrio Fernandes, this incident shows it is impossible to share a house of worship. It would be like sharing a wife between two husbands, he told CNN.
"Would they be happy to do the same in any of their mosques?" he asked. "Absolutely not. Because I understand their religious feeling and they have to understand ours as well. The religious feeling is the deepest one in the human heart, so it is not possible to share."
Bishop Fernandes points to the basilica of San Juan in Damascus as an example of a Christian site that has been converted into a mosque.
"We wouldn't think of asking for the Damascus mosque, because it belongs to the Muslims and for them it is an emblematic place.
"It is [the same] for [Christians] because the San Juan's basilica is very important to us, but we understand that history doesn't go back. It only goes forward. So, it doesn't make sense to ask for the Cordoba [cathedral] to convert it into a mosque, it doesn't make sense because history is irreversible," he said.
Escudero insists this is not about winning a victory for one religion or the other.
He said: "They pretend that we are trying to conquer the mosque again. That's not the intention at all. We want it to be a place where anyone -- whether Muslim, Christian or Jew -- can do his meditation or his internal way of worshipping, or praying or whatever he wants to call it."

Khalid Samad warns Perkasa fomenting tension for ISA crackdown

Khalid: They (Perkasa)have demonstrated once again that they are incapable of uniting the nation, behaving maturely and responsibly.
SHAH ALAM, Aug 18 — Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad has warned that Perkasa is deliberately trying to whip up religious and racial tension to give Barisan Nasional (BN) an excuse to use the Internal Security Act (ISA) against the opposition.

The Malay rights group has been at the forefront of warning off those who question affirmative action policies for Bumiputeras and recently a Shah Alam church that wanted to hold a Christian play during the Ramadan fasting month. The church had called off the play before Perkasa lodged a report two days ago.

“I fear it’s an overall strategy that BN is implementing now in the run up to the next general elections and it will culminate in another Operasi Lalang,” the PAS lawmaker told The Malaysian Insider.

Khalid was commenting on Perkasa’s move to lodge a police against the Grace Shah Alam Church and its pastor here, comparing it to the 1987 security crackdown where 106 opposition leaders and social activists were detained without trial under the ISA.

Perkasa wants the church and Pastor Joseph Marcose investigated for planning to stage a Christian play in Muslim-majority Shah Alam during the Ramadan fasting month.

Petaling Perkasa chairman Zainal Abidin Ahmad lodged a police report against the Protestant church and Marcose for sedition.

Khalid believed the BN government was looking for an excuse to crackdown and appealed to all Malaysians to ignore “the ship which is sinking.”

“They have demonstrated once again that they are incapable of uniting the nation, behaving maturely and responsibly,” he said.

Khalid said Perkasa was driving another nail into BN’s coffin by exploiting the racial and religious issue which will also serve to disunite Malaysians.

He said Christians had every right to use the Shah Alam Convention Centre (SACC), which it in the middle of the Selangor state capital.

Khalid pointed there should not be any problem so long organisers clearly state that the programme is for non-Muslims, so that Muslims can stay away.

“It’s not like they are hiding in the shadows to fool authorities,” he said.

Khaild also pointed out that Muslims were mature and strong enough in their own faith and would not be threatened by a Christian event.

Zainal Abidin told The Malaysian Insider yesterday that Perkasa wanted the church and pastor to be investigated for sedition and for insulting the Sultan.

He said the church was being insensitive for planning to stage the play “There is Hope” at SACC during the fasting month.

Although the play is not meant for Muslims, he expressed fears the church was deliberately attempting to propagate Christianity to Muslim

He pointed out that a Ramadan bazaar is held around SACC and buka puasa buffets are held in the premises

Zainal Abidin said his concerns were not unfounded and referred to an article written on the Internet by Marcose entitled “Kenapa kita berada di Shah Alam” (Why we are in Shah Alam) which shows that the church’s plan is to propagate Christianity to everyone in Shah Alam.

However, Marcose said the September 4 play has been cancelled due to the long holiday break, with many worshippers away during that time.

He also explained the play was planned in conjunction with National Day and meant only for non-Muslims.

Marcose also pointed out his article, which was posted on a church website, was meant only to encourage church members.

“It’s just a church bulletin for our members. We did not publish it anywhere,” he said.

Marcose said the church was fully aware of the law and denied it had intended to propagate its faith to Muslims.

Besides the police report, Perkasa has also submitted a memorandum to the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) and SACC.

He has urged MAIS to advise the church that its play is against the Selangor Islamic Enactment and the Constitution, which restricts the spreading of other religions to Muslims.

It's not suicide, says Pornthip

By FMT Staff

FMT ALERT SHAH ALAM: Thai pathologist Pornthip Rojanasunand today ruled out suicide as a cause of death for political secretary, Teoh Beng Hock, after carrying out a second autopsy on him.

In a packed courtroom, she maintained her opinion that Teoh's death was not of the nature of a suicide based on the injuries sustained from the fall and due to the lack of evidence confirming that he was conscious after the fall.

"This time round, I will not go for percentages because after carrying out the second autopsy by myself, I am very sure this is not a case of suicide," she said in her testimony.

Pornthip, however, did not rule out the fact that Teoh could have lost his consciousness in the fall.

Pornthip, who earlier this year was warned against testifying at the court due to “political pressure” from the Malaysian government, notified the relevant authorities yesterday that she would testify at today's hearing.

In an earlier hearing this year, she said that there was a 80% chance that Teoh's death was not because of suicide.

Teoh, who was a political secretary to Selangor councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on July 16, last year at Plaza Masalam while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in Selangor.

Also attending the court hearing today were DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang and MP Kuala Selangor, Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Rules out manual strangulation
During questioning, Pornthip also confirmed that based on her evidence today, she has ruled out manual strangulation.

She also agreed that the cause of death was due to multiple injuries caused from fall from a height.

She said her conclusions were based on her experience in other cases as well as the forensic evidence.

After she was released by the coroner, lawyer Gobind Singh who is acting for the Teoh family, sought an adjournment so that he can seek expert advice on the new evidence tendered in the last sitting – believed to be Teoh's suicide note.

Coroner agreed to adjourn the matter to Sept 1 for mention.

Cops quiz Anwar over 'Jui Meng next Johor MB' banner

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today,

FMT ALERT PETALING JAYA: The police are currently recording a statement from Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim over a controversial banner in Johor.

The banner depicted photographs of PKR supreme council member Chua Jui Meng and the Sultan of Johor. It said that Chua would be the next menteri besar of the southern state.

Umno Youth members lodged a report after denouncing the banner as seditious.

Chua claimed to be in the dark about the banner, and had accused Umno of attempting to rile up the Malays against him.

However, some PKR officials alleged that it could be the work of the former MCA leader's rivals in PKR.

Three police officers from the Batu Pahat district headquarters in Johor met Anwar at the PKR headquarters in Tropicana here.

Chua and several other party leaders were also present.

Bad cultured government

By Maclean Patrick - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT Every month, I go into the normal routine of counting the bills and going into a state of bewilderment. I am sure, most of you, if not all of you, go through this routine each and every month.

We ask the age-old question, "Where has my hard-earned money ended up?" And we come to the conclusion, "I have no idea where but it went somewhere."

Often times, confusion sets in when some funds are mis-spent and the missus begins to wonder whether she should start holding your wallet for you. You give that stiff poker face and say, "Everything’s under control." But it's a myth for men to believe they are able to control the purse strings without some form of check and nagging.

We could wave it all away to gremlins that invade our wallets every month, pinching cash and leaving us penniless.

And there are gremlins in Sarawak.

Sarawak is gearing up for an election; whispers have it that it will be announced after Hari Raya Aidilfitri; but what is certain is that the Sarawak state election has to be called before July 2011.

Suffice to say, the current ruling parties have started their initial "soft" campaigning, proclaiming their impending victories faster than Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmuds can call the election into being. Splashed out in the papers are the subtle reminders that the ruling government has helped settled various issues.

An example of such an issue is the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.

For almost 30-odd years, NCR land has been an issue that has seen its fair share of light in the civil courts and in the local news.

The illegal logging of NCR lands, the inability of the government to allow local farmers to obtain land titles and the mammoth task of properly surveying and mapping such lands, have been played out for years.

Yet within weeks after a statement by the prime minister, the issue is resolved and now NCR land folks can have their land titles. It is a half miracle that a word from the prime minister was able to move so much in so little a time.

I guess it does help, when that statement is made during election year.

Phantom money

Why was there a delay in issuing NCR land titles, in the first place? We have no clear idea and the government should answer this or are there gremlins lurking in the offices of the land department?

Don't you just love election year? It is the time when phantom money is promised for a myriad number of development works, designed to placate a voting public.

But it is high time that people started asking the government, "Where has all my hard-earned tax money gone to?" and "Where has all the money earned through the pillaging of natural resources ended up?"

We should take a hard look at the Sarawak state wallet and see if there are any gremlins lurking about, pinching cash to hoard away in secret funds.

Come election period, the people of Sarawak should start asking questions and demand answers.

Already, at least one political party (Party Rakyat Sarawak) has predicted winning several seats. Joseph Entulu confidently stated at a press conference at the Sibu airport that Belaga was a comfortable win. This is clearly a show of confidence, a subtle message to contesting parties to stay away from PRS turf.

Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Numpang has fired a reminder to all: don't accept the bad political culture that the opposition from the peninsula wants to export to Sarawak. This is again a subtle note to all: don't step onto our turf.

Bad management
What about bad management of government? Bad management of public funds when in office spells more harm than a bunch of peninsular politicians pointing out the misdeeds of the local government, as showcased in the Sibu by-election, for which the local populace agreed with and promptly voted the opposition into power. So why blame bad political culture when the current government failed to explain its own misdeeds?

It makes you wonder, what future do the people of Sarawak have when all its politicians are only interested in retaining power and not to serve the people? When politicians and the leaders are only interested in fattening their own personal wallets?

What has happened to the form of government, voted by the people, working for the people?

And would another election really change things, when at heart it is not the government that is flawed but rather the form of government?

It is a form of government that treats the populace merely as cash cows that stream money into the coffers of bad-cultured politicians, hell-bent on retaining their positions in government. Truly, such state of affairs can keep you wondering all night.

Maclean Patrick, a webmaster in Kuching, is a contributor to Free Malaysia Today.

PD, a town in the throes of death

By Zefry Dahalan -Free Malaysia Today

SPECIAL REPORT PORT DICKSON: The signs of decay are everywhere in this once thriving holiday town. Crumbling unfinished buildings are scattered all over the place.

Among these are many hotel projects that were started during the economic boom of the early 1990s and abandoned during the Asian financial crisis at the end of that decade.

“They are an eyesore,” said M Ravi, the state assemblyman for Port Dickson.

He called on the state government to do something towards reviving these projects, saying they could help give new life to the dying town and beckon back the tourists.

Speaking to FMT, Ravi lamented the tourism authorities’ lack of imagination in their planning for Port Dickson and the once-popular Teluk Kemang Beach not far from the town.

“There is hardly any entertainment even for local folks, not to mention tourists,” he said.

“Believe it or not, there is not even a cinema in the entire town.”

As a result, he said, youngsters ended up at the beaches at night and the chances were high that a lot of hanky-panky was going on.

"Port Dickson is a place for retired people; there is no place you can go for the kind of fun that young people enjoy,” he said.

He also complained of the lack of variety in hawker fare along the beaches.

There are nearly 400 hawker stalls on the stretch of beach from Port Dickson to Teluk Kemang, but you can’t find a single one selling Chinese or Indian food.

"Is this what you call 1Malaysia?” asked Ravi. “Why can't you have a few Chinese and Indian food stalls to reflect a true Malaysian culture?"

Ravi also attributed the unpopularity of Port Dickson to a lack of local crafts and local foods that could be seen as unique to the area.

"When you go to Langkawi, you can find cashew nuts coated with honey that you can't find anywhere else in Malaysia,” he said.

“In Penang, you can find sweet pickled nutmegs. In Terengganu and Kuching, you can find many crafts.

"But here in Port Dickson you don't have anything to offer to tourists that they can't find anywhere else in Malaysia.”

Army Town

In a bid to revive Port Dickson’s popularity — or perhaps to win votes — Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak declared last September during campaigning for the Bagan Pinang by-election that the town would henceforth be known as “army town" because of the presence of a large number of army camps in the area.

He said the government would launch a number of major development projects to benefit the army folk of Port Dickson.

No significant development has been seen since, except for a plaque depicting an armoured car at the Sua Betong junction on the Port Dickson-Seremban Expressway.

Ramli Ismail, a retired army officer, scoffed at the idea of an army town status for Port Dickson.

"Apart from the armoured car plaque, there is nothing new to show that we’re an army town,” he said. “Even if we’re an army town, how’s that going to pull in tourists?”

He said he disagreed with Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who suggested last March that the army open up their barracks as accommodation for tourists.

"The rules clearly say that you cannot even take photographs inside the camp for security reasons,” said Ramli. “But now you’re allowing tourists to live in the camp?

"If I were a foreign spy, I’d pretend to be a tourist. I would take my mobile phone into the camp, take pictures with it and gather important information like the exact locations of ammunition and bombs.

"The very idea is a threat to national security.”

Kes Helen Ang: Politik perkauman Perkasa-Umno amat berbahaya

Di dalam keghairahan mendapat perhatian di dalam media dan sokongan masyarakat umum yang berada di atas pagar dan mereka yang benar-benar tidak mendapat maklumat sebenar, Perkasa telah menggunakan kaedah menjadikan seorang mangsa sebagai kambing hitam.

Persoalannya siapakah yang benar-benar layak di kambing-hitamkan? Akhirnya, individu yang ‘bertuah’ tersebut ialah Helen Ang, seorang wanita berbangsa Tionghua dan penulis rencana yang agak moderate tetapi kadang-kadang menyengat.

Rencana-rencana tulisannya disiarkan di dalam media sesawang Malaysiakini dan Centre for Policy Initiatives.

Perkasa mencadangkan agar Helen disiasat di bawah Akta Hasutan dan Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA). Di dalam laporan polis yang dikemukakan, mereka mendakwa Helen “dengan angkuhnya” memburuk-burukkan Yang Di-Pertuan Agung Tuanku Mizan dengan mempertikaikan kuasa baginda.

Media propaganda Umno, Utusan Malaysia pula melemparkan tuduhan liar melaporkan, ‘Perkasa minta polis siasat Helen Ang pertikai hak Melayu, Islam’ dan ‘Perkasa lapor portal pertikai Islam’.
Rencana beliau yang agak menimbulkan kemarahan Perkasa ialah melalui artikelnya bertajuk ‘Enforcing NEP on minority religions’ yang disiarkan pada Ogos 4 di CPI.

Perkenalan kami

Aku mula mengenali Helen Ang ini selepas beliau mengajak aku bersama-sama menyumbang di laman CPI. Kemudiannya, aku dijemput sebagai speaker forum di BUM2009 pada Mei 16, 2009 di mana beliau sebagai moderator sesi perbincangan yang diadakan dalam Bahasa Melayu. Ahli-ahli panel lain terdiri daripada Fathi Aris Omar (pengarang Malaysiakini), Fahri Azzat (laman Loyar Burok) dan A.Kadir Jasin (mantan pengarang kumpulan NSTP).
Di kebanyakan waktu aku berjumpa dengannya, Helen berbaju kurung ringkas dan kami berbahasan Melayu – seolah-olah aku sedang berbicara dengan seorang wanita Melayu terakhir.

Beliau berwajah riang, bersuara lembut dan berwatak feminin.
Sekiranya kita melihat definisi Melayu di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, seorang Melayu ialah individu yang memenuhi tiga criteria; 1) mengamal adat Melayu 2) berbahasa Melayu 3) beragama Islam.
Ya, Helen sudah memenuhi dua kriteria yang boleh menjadikan dia ‘Melayu’. Sehingga ada Melayu sendiri yang tidak memenuhi ketiga-tiga criteria tersebut dan masih mengakui mereka Melayu – sekiranya kita mengenakan syarat ‘keMelayuan’ yang agak cerewet – misalannya berpakaian pyjamas dan bukan sarung ketika tidur, makan dengan sudu garfu, berbahasa Inggeris di rumah dan tidak sembahyang.

Di dalam kelembutannya itu, ada juga ketegasan yang dipaparkan. Pada Mei 7, 2009, Helen bersama-sama 35 orang yang lain ditahan semasa berhimpun dan berpakaian hitam sewaktu punahnya demokrasi di Perak.
Aku bertanya sendiri, “manakan pula wanita yang aku kenali sebegini sanggup untuk menggugat kepentingan Melayu?”
Aku membaca dua kali lalu rencana yang dituliskannya itu dan tidak satu pun perkataan yang merujuk kepada Tuanku Mizan atau pun YDP Agong.

Sanggup mereka ini melontar tohmahan sebegini.
Momokan supaya ditanam kebencian

Senjata sebegini sudah tentu akan memberi peluang kepada pihak berkuasa untuk bertindak – tanpa usul periksa. Lihat apa yang berlaku kepada Teresa Kok melalui laporan berita isu makanan anjing dan pakaian di luar masjid sengaja diperbesarkan oleh akhbar berbahasa Melayu itu bagi menanam kebencian orang Melayu terhadapnya.
Teresa menuduh isu perkauman dan agama dibangkitkan oleh sesetengah pemimpin Umno Selangor. Di Selangor terdapat 55 peratus penduduk Melayu, 30 peratus Cina dan 14 peratus India. BN menyedari bahawa semasa pilihan raya umum lalu, pengundi Melayu mengundi calon Pakatan Rakyat. Ini adalah penting bagi Umno untuk menarik kembali pengundi Melayu di Selangor. Jadi, Utusan Malaysia dan TV3 menjadi saluran mereka.

Melalui perkara yang berlaku terhadap Teresa ini, diharap rakyat Malaysia terutamanya orang Melayu sedar bahawa politik perkauman yang dimainkan oleh Umno amat berbahaya bagi kita semua. Namun, sekarang Perkasa cuba mempermainkannya pula.

Teresa bukan seorang yang tidak memahami budaya Melayu dan Islam. Teresa mendapat gred A bagi mata pelajaran Tamadun Islam dalam pengajian universitinya. Baginya, banyak persamaan baik di antara Kristian dan Islam. Beliau mampu menghayatinya terutama dari segi nilai dan pandangan terhadap dunia.

Begitu juga Helen bukan seorang yang tidak memahami budaya Melayu. Pada bulan Mac tahun lepas, beliau telah menyertai demo jalanan bagi mempertahankan Artikel 152 Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang memaktubkan bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa kebangsaan negara kita.
Beliau telah menceritakan tentang pengalamannya ketika terlibat dalam protes tersebut: “Perjuangan [bagi memansuhkan PPSMI] didokong masyarakat pelbagai bangsa yang bersatupadu dan berhimpun seramai lebih kurang 8,000 orang di perkarangan Masjid Negara petang Sabtu lalu. Kami telah dijemput oleh seorang [wakil yang] menggunakan pembesar suara supaya memasuki halaman masjid untuk menggelakkan diri [daripada terkena semburan meriam air (‘water cannon’) dan gas pemedih mata]”.
[Solidarity for the cause clearly cut across ethnic lines last Saturday afternoon when a crowd of about 8,000 collected in the vicinity of Masjid Negara. Someone on a loudhailer invited all of us, irregardless of religion, to enter the mosque premises for sanctuary.]
Rencananya yang menyokong agar matapelajaran Sains dan Metamatik diajar dalam Bahasa Malaysia ataupun bahasa ibunda [baca ‘Math and Science: The case for BM’] jelas menunjukkan keprihatinan beliau terhadap nasib para pelajar di kawasan luar bandar – kebanyakannya budak Melayu kampung – yang ketinggalan dalam kedua-dua matapelajaran tersebut angkara dasar bahasa pengantar dialihkan kepada Bahasa Inggeris.
Penahanan Teresa di bawah ISA dan mencadangkan agar Helen ditahan di bawah ISA juga adalah suatu saya menganggap sebagai jalan terakhir bagi Umno dan Perkasa ini.

Bagaimana orang Melayu dan penganut Islam boleh dihormati sekiranya bersikap sedemikian? Orang Melayu Islam sepatutnya lebih mesra dengan bangsa-bangsa lain dan penganut agama lain bagi menarik perhatian mereka mengenali dan memahami budaya. Inilah yang terpenting.

Semangat mahasiswa 1960-an

Poster featuring picture of and quote from Khong (All images courtesy of Fahmi Reza except where otherwise noted)
Poster featuring picture of and quote from Khong (All images courtesy of Fahmi Reza except where otherwise noted)
DR Khong Kim Hoong studied economics in Universiti Malaya (UM) from 1966 to 1969. He was elected as deputy president of the University of Malaya Students’ Union (Umsu) in his second year, and was made president for the 1968-1969 term.
During the 1969 general election, he was one of the student leaders who toured 13 cities and towns in Peninsular Malaysia to publicise the students’ manifesto among the rakyat. The manifesto demanded basic rights including minimum wage for workers, equal rights in education and healthcare, and the abolition of laws like the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite state detention without trial.
Khong won the Best All-Round Student gold medal award from UM despite his involvement in student union work. After his graduation, the university awarded Khong a scholarship to study political science and international relations in the US. There, he continued his student activism by joining Students for a Democratic Society. He became a lecturer in UM after he returned to Malaysia, where he served for 16 years.
Upon leaving UM, Khong joined HELP University College and is now its senior vice-president. He spoke to The Nut Graph about his days as a student activist in UM in the 1960s, at his office in Kuala Lumpur on 23 July 2010.
TNG: How did you get involved in the student movement?
Khong Kim Hoong: I think my first experience in student activism was joining a protest on Autonomy Day. You may not have heard of it. Basically we were fighting for university autonomy – the right of the university to admit students based on merit.
What happened was, in 1964 the government amended the law [so that] all students entering university and higher learning institutions [were required] to get a Suitability Certificate from the Home Affairs Ministry. You could only be admitted into the university if you obtained the certificate.
When Singapore was still part of Malaysia, there was a lot of student activism in Nanyang University (it merged with the University of Singapore to form the National University of Singapore in 1980). So the government wanted to prevent a similar phenomenon in other parts of Malaysia. [But] even after Singapore separated from Malaysia, those draconian laws remained.
When I was a [first-year student] in 1966, UM was the only university in Malaysia, and Umsu organised a protest against what it considered as discrimination against students’ activism. That was my first involvement in the student movement.
Khong as a student activist
Khong at the Union House as a student activist
Was there tear gas or police presence at the demonstration?
No tear gas. The demonstration was confined to campus. I’m sure there were police personnel around, but there were no police in uniform. The students marched around campus, and then had a big meeting in the great hall [where] various people spoke.
Then I became more interested in student activism [because I think] students must contribute to society as they have benefited from education.
What did you have to do to get the certificate?
You had to fill up a form and submit it together with your application form to join the university. I suppose the university in turn sent the form to the Home Affairs Ministry for approval.
So how would the ministry know if you were a “radical person”? Just based on the form?
I’m sure the Special Branch already had the information. The law was just a formality so that [they had a valid excuse] to prevent people they considered “radicals” from entering university. They only abolished the law much later.
What were some of the main issues that Umsu championed when you were deputy president and later president?
Human rights and university autonomy were the key issues. Lots of people were detained under the ISA in the 1960s; some were students, others were politicians and human rights activists – we demanded for the release of all political detainees.
Umsu election bus
Calling for the release of political detainees
Landlessness and poverty were also causes championed by the students. Basically some squatters in Teluk Gong were removed from their homes. The government destroyed their houses and crops but did not relocate them, so they became homeless overnight.
The students then held a big protest at the then Selangor state secretariat building, near the present Selangor Club padang. We also collected money to help them out. I remember getting them straw mats for them to sleep on, and buying food for them. There were weekly protest meetings and discussions at the speaker’s corner in front of the (UM) library, too.
Teluk Gong demo, 1967: The students invited Hamid Tuah's wife Syarifah Mohani Syed Hamzah to the speaker's corner
Demonstration in Teluk Gong, 1967
What were some of your most memorable experiences from those years?
There always seemed to be so much to do. We had to study, and at the same time, there were a lot of political and social activities as well as welfare work that was going on.
The campus was alive with discussions on social, political and economic issues. It was quite common to have politicians from different parties come in to talk and debate.
Yes, we had open discussions and invited people from the government, opposition, business industries, social movements, community groups, etc. to come. Some booing, jeering and cheering went on all the time when the talks and debates were held, [but there were no incidents at all]. The university was an open forum for ideas, which is what it should be. People disagreed, but there was respect for one another’s views and opinions.
Did you face any obstacles from the university or government when organising talks or protests?
Sometimes the university authorities may not have been supportive, but they allowed us to do whatever we wanted. The student union was independent, so we did not have to get permission or consult the university to organise activities.
Let’s say the Economic Society wanted to organise a forum. All they had to do was book the hall, stating the purpose. There was no need to submit any names of speakers or things like that.
What about the government?
I’m sure the government knew what went on. The Special Branch must have had its [informants] and its members among the students, though we did not know who they were. It would have been naïve to think that they were not present.
In 1968, when the students protested outside the Russian embassy on Jalan Ampang against the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the police came with tear gas to break up the demonstration. It was okay when we organised marches or protests on campus, but the government did not allow demonstrations on the streets.
'1,000 students protest against police use of force to break up peaceful demonstration', Nanyang Siang Pau, 28 Aug 1968. Courtesy of Khong Kim Hoong (Click on image for bigger view)
'1,000 students protest against police use of force to break up peaceful demonstration', Nanyang Siang Pau, 28 Aug 1968. Courtesy of Khong Kim Hoong (Click on image for bigger view)
The next day, the students organised a bigger demonstration at the Selangor Club padang to protest against the police for using force to break up a peaceful demonstration. From there, we marched to the Prime Minister (PM)’s office to protest.
This was on the streets. Did the police allow you all to march?
This time the police did not do anything to break up the demonstration. We marched to the PM’s office and had a meeting with Tun (Abdul) Razak, the deputy prime minister (DPM) at that time. A lot of students came out in the protest march.
The DPM promised us the police would not use force in future, but I think in 1969 the police used force again to break up protests against Tunku Abdul Rahman. After the 13 May riots, some of the students considered him a failed leader, so they demonstrated and demanded that he step down. At that time, I had already graduated from UM.
What about the general election in 1969? Why did Umsu decide to take part?
It was the first time Umsu officially took part in the elections. We thought since the students benefited from education, we should contribute to the discussion [about] critical political issues during elections.
We did not [put up] a candidate or support any political party. The students union issued a manifesto for the elections, and we campaigned on what we thought were the important issues. Landless peasants, political detention … issues that we had been championing all along.
We asked the people to judge their candidates based on our manifesto. We stated at our rallies that the candidates who did not support the manifesto should not be given the vote.
How long did you all have to campaign? Was it during the semester break?
Yes, it was during our vacation. I cannot remember how long the campaign was. In 1969, the campaign period was definitely much longer than at present. Now, it seems as though the government wants to keep it as short as possible to prevent people from campaigning. Then, from nomination to polling – it was more than a month.
We campaigned for less than a month, I think. When we started in Petaling Jaya, only around 1,000 people came. But in Penang, about 15,000 people attended our rally.
In Malacca, the police set up roadblocks to direct people away from the rally site. In Kampar or Teluk Intan, the local authority did not want to give us space to organise the rally, and even tried to lie to us that there were no available venues. We called their bluff, and in anger told them that the rally would be held on the main road. Suddenly, many fields were available.
How do you think your student activism has impacted your life?
I think it made me a humanist. I became much more conscious of sociopolitical issues, especially of abuse of power in the country. There is nothing like being hit to know how much it hurts. We were trying to contribute to debates and discussions on critical issues confronting the nation. But those in power tried [their best] to harass us. Politics is not a gentle game. Those who have vested interests will do their utmost to stay in power.
Khong with fellow former student activist Syed Hamid in March 2010
Khong (right) with fellow former student activist Syed Hamid Ali in March 2010
Your experience as a university student is very different from what students currently experience. Do you think there will be a time when the student movement in Malaysia will become vibrant again?
I think social movements operate like a wave. In the 1960s, it slowly went up, and then it went down when the UUCA (Universities and University Colleges Act 1971) was enacted. But it went up again in 1974 during the Baling protests. Of course, the protests were crushed again, with even more draconian measures, as far as the student movement was concerned. Then, the protests went down. But they will come back again later. It has happened again and again in so many countries.
I believe it will come up again, at some point. You cannot stop the waves.

Irresponsible To Imply Umno A Hindrance To 1Malaysia - Salleh

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 17 (Bernama) -- Sabah Umno liaison deputy chairman Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has expressed regret over a fellow Barisan Nasional (BN) component party leader's remark that Umno was a hindrance to the promotion of the 1Malaysia concept.

Describing the remark as irresponsible, the former Sabah chief minister said there should be no doubt that Sabah Umno thoroughly comprehended and was fully committed to the concept of 1Malaysia.

"There is, therefore, no need for United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok to question whether Umno understood the true meaning or spirit of the 1Malaysia concept.

"As a federal cabinet minister and president of a BN component party, Tan Sri Bernard should know that Umno is fully committed to the 1Malaysia concept, especially since the concept is mooted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is the president of Umno Malaysia," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Salleh was responding to news reports quoting Dompok as saying that while the prime minister was sincere in his concept of 1Malaysia, what concerned him was whether Najib would be allowed by his party and those surrounding him to carry out the tasks that he was required to do.

The Upko Zone C (Penampang, Kota Kinabalu, Sepanggar and Putatan) Convention on Sunday, saw Upko divisional leaders reiterating their dissatisfaction, following requests by Umno leaders for more seats, including one held by Upko, as well as over the long-standing issue of illegal immigrants in the state.

Salleh said it was normal for political parties to ask for seats but the final decision would ultimately be made by BN's top leadership. On the issue of illegal immigrants, Salleh said it was unfair to give the wrong perception to the rakyat that the federal and state governments were doing nothing to solve the problem.

"Millions (of ringgit) are being spent on security forces and high-tech equipment along our coastlines for the purpose of surveillance. "All of us want this issue resolved," he said.

Self-employed man sues Govt and IGP over broken leg

The Star 

KUALA LUMPUR: A self-employed man has sued the Inspector-General of Police, the Government and two others over an alleged assault during a protest which left him with a broken leg.

Aleyasak Hamid @ Hassan, 34, from Kajang claimed that he had been physically assaulted by a Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) team during a protest organised by non-governmental body Bersih at 4pm in Jalan Tun Perak on Nov 10, 2007.

The suit for RM2mil, which was filed through the firm of Messrs Daim & Gamany at the High Court here yesterday, also named the Kuala Lumpur and Dang Wangi district police chiefs as defendants.

In his statement of claim, Aleyasak said the peaceful assembly turned chaotic when the FRU “attacked and moved in on members of the public” taking part in the protest.

The plaintiff claimed that the FRU did not issue any warning to the group, that was reciting prayers at that time, to disperse.

He also alleged that he fell after the FRU pushed him from behind and that despite his pleas, they repeatedly stepped on and kicked him, breaking his left leg.

Aleyasak said the FRU personnel also uttered vulgarities at him.

He claimed that as a result of the assault, he suffered, among others, a broken leg, wounds, bruises, a swollen kneecap, nervous shock, mental anxiety and embarassment.

He was sent to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for treatment on the same day and had to undergo surgery on his left leg on Nov 12, 2007.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendants had abused their power and violated his rights under the Federal Constitution by physically assaulting and intimidating him.

He is seeking RM1mil in general damages and another RM1mil in aggravated and exemplary damages. He also sought special damages, interests, costs, and other relief deemed fit by the court.

Let’s stop tip-toeing around

The Star 

Pregnancy for a young girl is a lonely, frightening and confusing experience and help is hard to come by. We need comprehensive solutions to this problem, not criminalise it.

I ALWAYS get a little worried when people start talking about death penalties. It often spells a poverty of ideas, which of course, comes from not really understanding what the problem is all about.

The hysteria surrounding the issue of abandoned babies seems to have made people lose their minds. Instead of asking why people, especially young people, get pregnant and then abandon their babies, all sorts of ideas come floating by.

First was to marry them off regardless of their age. Never mind that we have just triumphantly announced the lifting of our reservation to the clause on the minimum age of marriage being 18 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, now we were officially promoting sex among children by simply making it legal.

Who cares if under-aged sex and pregnancy have long-term consequences for the unfortunate girls? Has anyone noticed that the parents who abuse their kids are almost always very young and clearly unable to cope with the responsibilities of parenthood?

Long have we called for comprehensive sex education in our schools but to no avail, despite the rise in teen pregnancies and in sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

What do we get instead? Abstinence education! But haven’t we had this all along? Again, the central message is abstain until you get married. Or, in other words, if you want to have sex, get married. Even if you’re 14.

Since most people don’t think young kids should be having sex (unless they are married) and therefore should not be given any advice on contraception, no wonder then that teen pregnancies abound.

Hormones don’t wait for marriage certificates. And since our society stigmatises out-of-wedlock pregnancies, what choice do young girls have but to get rid of their unwanted babies?

For this, we want them killed? What sort of stone age society are we? What if the girls got pregnant because they were raped, perhaps by their own fathers or brothers?

Marrying them off is no solution for any number of reasons.

Nobody seems to have noticed that, in most states, Muslim babies are not recognised as legitimate if they are born less than six months after their mother got married, even if they married the baby’s biological father.

Given that many young girls are not likely to realise that they are pregnant until they are well along, or may wait a long time before they inform anyone, the chances are that even if they are forced to get married they would be past the three-month mark. Therefore, their babies would be considered illegitimate anyway. Bit of a waste of nasi minyak, if you ask me.

If only our dear leaders would take a deep breath and go talk to the only people who matter, the young pregnant girls themselves, they might actually learn that these girls did not have sex just because they are little sex bombs nor did they purposely get pregnant.

Pregnancy for a young girl is a lonely, frightening and confusing experience, and help is hard to come by. What more when the papers are full of young unmarried mothers being whipped for having illicit sex.

To tackle this problem, we need comprehensive solutions. Let’s stop tip-toeing around the fact that our kids are woefully ignorant about sex and the reproductive system and the consequences of having unprotected sex.

So grit our teeth and immediately put in place sex education, with a gender perspective and emphasising boys learning to respect girls.

In the meantime, yes let’s have baby hatches and let’s publicise them so that pregnant girls know where to send their babies to. Better yet, let’s have homes for girls to have their babies safely, where they can keep up with schoolwork and where they can learn mothering skills should they want to keep the babies.

Otherwise, talk to them about adoption and set up safe procedures for the babies to be adopted. Then set up a system where the girls can continue school afterwards.

Finally, adults themselves must set good examples. Every day we see adults trivialising marriage as if its only purpose is to have legal sex.

What happened to responsibility, care and, gosh, love? What happened to planning for the future, for your kids’ education and all that? When we see lawmakers breaking laws just to get another wife, how does this set an example for our young?

If we want to encourage good parenting, let’s start with ourselves, shall we?

Menyamar pahlawan Melayu

gambar di bawah ini tentu boleh menyaingi gelak

Selepas seorang ADUN Umno buat laporan polis kepadanya kerana menyeleweng balak Pahang, dia hilang di Pahang, dengarnya diangkat menjadi raja di Melaka untuk elak dari diambil tindakan (fakta tak pasti)..... tetapi tiba - tiba baru - baru ini dia muncul menyamar sebagai pahlawan Melayu dengan kasut sport.... hahahahahahaa

Live – It wasn’t suicide, insists Pornthip

Thai forensic pathologist Pornthip Rojanasunand, testifying at the inquest into Teoh Beng Hock’s death, insists that the incident was not suicide: “I will not go into percentages. I am sure it is not suicide.”
When the MACC counsel accused her of taking sides, Pornthip responded, “You have to understand. I work for the rights of the dead, not the Selangor government.” The crowd in the courtroom broke into applause.

Bomber strikes Iraqi army recruits

Army and security forces recruitment centres have been prime targets for attacks for years [Reuters]
At least 57 people have been killed in a suicide bomb attack at an army recruitment centre in the Iraqi capital.
Iraqi officials said at least 120 other people were wounded in the blast on Tuesday, when a suicide attacker detonated a bomb as men queued outside the centre in central Baghdad.

The attack occurred at the historical site of the country's defence ministry, a building that was turned into an army recruitment centre and military base after the 2003 US-led invasion.

Yasir Ali, who had been waiting outside the military headquarters said that he saw the bomber, describing him as a blond young man who walked up to an officer and blew himself up.
"Severed hands and legs were falling over me," the Associated Press news agency quoted Ali as saying.
"I was soaked with blood from the body parts and wounded and dead people falling over and beside me."
Target of attacks
Al Jazeera's Omar Al Saleh, reporting from Baghdad, said the centre was busy on Tuesday because the defence ministry had recently called on new recruits to join the army.
"According to a police source they were standing in the hundreds," he said.
"Violence has escalated since the elections. Any longer delay would leave Iraq on the verge of civil war"
Saad al-Muttalibi, official at Iraqi ministry of dialogue and reconciliation
"Then a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt [and] wearing an army uniform was talking to those recruits, pretending that he was trying to get their names, so people gathered around him and he detonated his charge.
"This is the deadliest attack since the start of [the Muslim holy month of] Ramadan, and the deadliest perhaps in the last month or so."
Security forces have been frequent targets of attack since the start of army restructure after the US-led invasion.
Tuesday's attack comes two weeks ahead of a US deadline to cut its troop numbers to about 50,000 and a day after Iraqi lawmakers suspended talks on forming a new government.
Power vacuum
The Iraqiya bloc headed by Iyad Allawi, Iraq's former prime minister, said on Monday that it had suspended talks with the State of Law bloc headed by Nouri al-Maliki, the country's incumbent prime minister, in protest against al-Maliki's "sectarian tone".

Our correspondent said different armed groups appear to be trying to take advantage of the power vacuum in Iraq, as lawmakers squabble over positions in a new government more than five months after an inconclusive March 7 election.

"Everyone you speak to here is concerned that attacks could get more frequent because of the US withdrawal plans and months of political uncertainty in Iraq," he said.
Violence has been on the rise in Iraq in recent months, hitting a two year high in July
Saad al-Muttalibi, a member of al-Maliki's bloc and a senior official at the ministry of dialogue and reconciliation told Al Jazeera that the political situation plays a role in the deteriorating security in Iraq.
"Definitely there is a political background to this. Violence has escalated since the elections," he said.
"Any longer delay would leave Iraq on the verge of civil war. No political party would gain from that."
But Wafiq al-Samarai, a former Iraqi intelligence chief and security adviser to Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, said it is the lawmakers themselves who are responsible for the security failure.
"Politicians are responsible for what is happening, because they excluded Iraq's veteran and experienced intelligence officers for sectarian and revengeful motives. Moreover, they are oppressing the current ones by passing their reports to militias of ruling parties.
"As a result, intelligence officers are scared to do their jobs and this is the result, attacks everywhere," he told Al Jazeera. 

China students detained over hungry ghost fight

'Ganggu' ceramah: PAS buat aduan pada Suhakam

Hawker sues police, gov't over 'brutality'

Indian mother, one month old and two year old baby goes to UMNO jail

url indian
Tamper justice with mercy. But this is never in the UMNO courts dictionary. The UMNO courts in the given circumstances could have let her off with good behavior under Section 295 of the Criminal Procedure Code as the drugs involved a mere 0.3 grams.

Young single mother A.Annamah (27) in all likehood got involved in drugs arising out of the UMNO socially engineered poverty and having been excluded from the national mainstream development of Malay-sia.

If she sends her two children to the UMNO welfare homes they would almost certainly be forcibly converted to Islam.

This young mother most likely is forced to plead guilty as she cannot afford the bail, legal fees and with no or very little family support under this oppressive UMNO regime. She may or may not be a criminal but is forced to plead guilty. Give her legal aid and bail money and the police and the Attorney General will be given a run for their money.

P. Uthayakumar

indian mother

Amber Thinang Tamil School Land Issue

“The land allocated for Sime Darby, Denkil,  Amber Thinang Tamil school did not go anywhere. It stays at the same place”, said Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) chairman Gunalan V.
“Don’t create unnecessary issues”, he added in response to Uthayasooriyan’s, Tamil Foundation Chairman, query regarding the 2 ½ acres of land allocated for a new Tamil School building.

 amber thinang tamil school

Earlier, Uthayasooriyan, as reported by Makkal Osai, said that the school has used only one acre for the building and fencing.  He wanted to know the status of the remaining 1 ½ acres.
“Without verifying, Uthayasooriyan released the news to confuse the people. He should have checked with the school headmaster or the PTA before talking to the media” Gunalan lashed.
Apparently, the fenced up area is 2 acres, contrary to Uthayasooriyan’s contention, and the ½ acre is actually a drainage running across which will be covered and diverted as approved by Drainage and Irrigation department and now waiting for the estate management approval.
“We have much more interest in the welfare of our school then Tamil Foundation. Not an inch of the land will be given away”.
Tamil Foundation and Tamil School PTA’s are in logger-head over the channeling of Selangor state’s 4 million education fund in recent days.

 amber thinang tamil school

Soi Lek disappointed in Muhyiddin, says no need for war drums

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 – Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said today that he was disappointed with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for using the May 13 incident to warn the MCA against undermining Barisan Nasional (BN) when fighting for the Chinese community.

He added that there was no need to beat the “racial war drum” because Malaysians were now more mature, adding that what MCA was asking for was not at the expense of other communities.

On Saturday, the MCA’s Chinese Economic Congress called for economic liberalisation and a merit-based and needs-based system to contribute to the path for Malaysia to be globally competitive.

Yesterday, Muhyiddin reminded MCA however that the unfair distribution of wealth had resulted in the 1969 racial riot, the worst in the multi-racial country.

The MCA president (picture) pointed out today that Malaysians had matured since 1969 and were able to engage in rational discussions.

“The socio-economic condition in Malaysia today is totally different from that in 1969 as Malaysians are capable of having rational discussions without beating the racial war drum.

“All we ask for is fair share. Rest assured the MCA has no plans or interest to deprive other communities of what is rightfully theirs,” he said in a press statement.

The Umno deputy president also warned the MCA to not undermine the BN when fighting for the Chinese community and reminded Dr Chua to be sensitive to the needs of other races in the country.

Muhyiddin dismissed a recent resolution by MCA’s Chinese Economic Congress for the 30 per cent Bumiputera quota to be abolished and said the Malays’ share of the economy was still low.

“This has to be looked in a larger context, without a fair distribution, we saw what happened in 1969, I hope it won’t happen again,” said Muhyiddin.

Dr Chua said today that MCA had always been loyal to BN but needed to remain relevant by catering to the needs of the Chinese community.

“MCA is sensitive of its role within the Barisan Nasional but we have a role to play as Chinese-based party so that we can continue to be relevant.

“The loyalty of the MCA towards Barisan Nasional should not be questioned as it has gone through good and bad times when Umno suffered setbacks. Back then MCA had delivered support to ensure its victory in the general elections,” he said.

Dr Chua said that the party never questioned the special position of the Malay community and reiterated that affirmative action must be based on needs, merits and be market-friendly.

“In a multi-racial country, growth should not be a zero-sum game as there are reasons to worry that we will continue to be trapped as a middle-income country if we do not liberalise our economy and boost investment.

“We advocate that Bumiputeras should be given price preference in certain economic sectors when the economy is liberalised for open tender,” he said.

He added that the congress proposed a gradual reduction of the 30 per cent Bumiputera quota and the introduction of price preference to allow the community to compete on a equitable basis.

Dr Chua said Malaysia could only achieve its target in the 10th Malaysia Plan and New Economic Model (NEM) if it was able to attract domestic and foreign investment worth RM115 billion.

“In order to attract RM115 billion of private investment per annum under the 10th Malaysia Plan, we must ensure that our economy is competitive and vibrant.

“We can only achieve the target by liberalizing sectors such as oil and gas as well as telecommunication; rationalising subsidy and opening tender with price preference to Bumiputras,” he said.

An all-out war appeared to have broken out between MCA and Umno yesterday when Dr Chua Soi Lek accusing “some BN leaders” of failing to recognise past failures after Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s blunt reminder to the MCA to stick with BN’s struggles.

The MCA president said that the party was not afraid to side with its opposition foe DAP in issues that benefited the community and would not run away from making its stand known. - The Malaysian Insider

PKR leader spills more dirt on Saravanan

By B Nantha Kumar - Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA : An opposition leader said he received complaints from three people about deputy minister M Saravanan, including a man who alleged that the latter attempted to convince his wife to follow him to a hotel room.

At a press conference here today, PKR branch chairman MS Arjunan said the three contacted him via the telephone following the police report he had filed on Saturday.

The report was based on a poison-pen letter which accused Saravan, who is the federal territories and urban well-being deputy minister of having operated a prostitution and drug trafficking racket.

The letter writer claimed that Saravanan was supplying college girls to VIPs, a charge with the deputy minister had strongly denied. The letter was mailed to Arjunan via Pos Laju.

"Yesterday, I received a call from a man who claimed that Saravanan, who is also MIC vice-president, had invited his wife to a hotel room to discuss the details of a government contract," said Arjunan.

However, the PKR leader refused to divulge details about the caller. "The fundamental issue here is Saravanan's credibility and his alleged vice activities, not the caller," he said.

He also claimed to have a video recording involving a Tan Sri related to the case but remained tightlipped on the matter, saying he would produce it in court if necessary.

Victims afraid to come forward

Arjunan also said the victims told him that the alleged vice activities had taken place during the 1990s until 2000, prior to Saravanan becoming a deputy minister after the 2008 general election.

He added that the alleged victims were afraid to come forward.

"This is a very serious issue because it not only involves deputy minister but other prominent individuals as well," he said.

The PKR leader also dared Saravanan to bring the matter court, saying it would be easy for him to compile the evidence.

He said in the past, former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim's alleged sexual misconduct was investigated based on a poison-pen letter as well.

"So why can't the police do the same in this case?" he asked.

Arjunan also believes that if the police investigate the matter and provide protection for the victims, more would come forward.

Federal police Criminal Investigation Department director Bakri Zinin has been reported as saying that the matter was under investigation.

Muhyiddin's May 13 'boo' fails to spook MCA

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: With the gates of hell having opened, and the Chinese community celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival, Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin's attempt to raise the May 13 spectre has failed to send a chill down MCA's spine.

On the contrary, the move had incurred the wrath of the Chinese party and earned the Barisan Nasional second-in-command a reprimand.

Stopping short of describing him as someone trapped in antiquity, MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek reminded Muhyiddin that much had changed since 1969.

"MCA is disappointed with the deputy prime minister and Umno deputy president for raising the spectre of the May 13 incident," he said in a statement today.

"The socio-economic condition in Malaysia today is totally different from 1969 as Malaysians are capable of having rational discussions without beating the racial war drum," he added.

Muhyiddin had warned the BN component party not to step out of line when the MCA-organised Chinese Economic Congress called on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's administration to open up the economy to more non-Malay participation.

The deputy prime minister said the demand could be seen as a challenge to the position of the Malays in the country, and could fuel their anger.

He reminded MCA that it was a similar spark which ignited the May 13, 1969 racial riots that had left scores dead.

'We did not question Malay rights'

Meanwhile, Chua said the only way for the Malaysian economy to survive in a globalised world was to ensure that the economy was competitive and vibrant through "liberalising sectors such as oil and gas as well as telecommunication, rationalising subsidies and opening tenders with price preference to Bumiputeras".

He also denied that MCA had questioned the special position of the Malays.

"At no time, we talked about the special rights of the Malay community. We reaffirm that affirmative actions should be based on needs, merits and be market-friendly.

"We advocate that Bumiputeras should be given price preference in certain economic sectors when the economy is liberalised for open tender,” he said.

“To enable the Bumiputeras to compete on a more equitable basis, we propose for the gradual reduction of the 30% Bumiputera equity and the introduction of price preference," he added.

'Don't question our loyalty'

MCA had been ruffling the feathers of Umno and Malay rights groups like Perkasa since it radicalised its approach in an apparent bid to regain lost Chinese support.

Chua argued that the outcome of the last general election which saw BN perform dismally signalled a need for change and MCA must follow suit to remain relevant.

The president also hinted that MCA would even be willing to take on Umno in order to champion the interest of the community.

He also did not rule out the possibility of sharing the same stand with opposition party DAP on issues which benefitted the Chinese.

However, Chua stressed that MCA's position had not affected its loyalty towards the ruling coalition.

"The loyalty of MCA should not be questioned as it has gone through good and bad times when Umno suffered setbacks. Back then, MCA delivered support to ensure victory in the elections.

"All we ask for is fair share. Rest assured, MCA has no plans or interest to deprive other communities of what is rightfully theirs," he said.

The racial time-bomb is ticking fast!


And, don’t forget the controversial Biro Tata Negara (BTN) or National Civics Bureau courses which Nazri admitted were racist. Those in the alternative coalition Pakatan Rakyat have also claimed that the BTN propagated political indoctrination.

Thomas Lee Seng Hock, Sin Chew

Racism continues to rear its ugly head, more than half a century after our country gained in its independence in 1957.

The latest fiasco involves the principal of a school in Johor who has been reported to have said that Chinese students can return to China, and that the prayer strings worn by the Indian students are like a dog leash.

A total of 17 police reports have been lodged by parents against the nonchalant female school head who is rumoured to have some influential political connection.

According to some parents who had lodged police reports, the school head had made the pejorative and derogative comments during the launching of the school’s Merdeka celebrations on Thursday 12 August 2010.

She was quoted as saying that “Chinese students are not needed here and can return to China or Foon Yew school. For the Indian students, the prayer string tied around their neck and wrist makes them look like dogs because only dogs are tied like that.”

Such offensive, insensitive and racist remarks can only be made by a rude and uncouth person, who is described in Bahasa Malaysia as kurang ajar. And it is simply incredible and beyond comprehension that such a shallow, insecure, and blockhead person could be appointed a school principal.

The school head’s verbal racist assault on the students is not the only ugly racism incident in recent time

Few weeks ago, certain school heads flexed their Little Napoleon muscles to close or ban the formation of non-Muslim religious clubs and societies in their schools.

During the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election in 2008, Penang’s Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail referred to the Chinese Malaysians as “pendatang” or immigrants. Following a massive public outcry over his remarks, Ahmad was suspended by Umno for three years, but the suspension was lifted just a year later in December 2009.

In February 2010, Datuk Nasir Safar, the special officer to the prime minister, said at a 1-Malaysia seminar that “Indians came to Malaysia as beggars and Chinese especially women came to sell their bodies”. Although there was widespread demand that Nasir be punished for his scornfully abusive, offensive and seditious remarks, no action was taken against him.

The most shocking thing is that, instead of censuring Nasir for his obviously seditious remarks, the federal government, through Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, told Parliament in June 2010 that it lacked proof that Nasir meant to incite racial ill-will, based on Section 3(1) of the Sedition Act, despite his unilateral and unequivocal labelling of Chinese and Indians as ‘pendatangs’ and reference to Chinese women as ‘prostitutes’.

In Decmeber 2009, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz himself has condemned and castigated the Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia for its racist propaganda, saying that the newspaper must accept that Malaysia is a multi-racial country.

Over the last few years, the Utusan Malaysia has been running daily stories and comments that have provoked and incited debates and disputes on racial matters.

The Utusan is well-known as a mouthpiece for Umno ultra-nationalists and a tool for promoting the Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) policy.

And, don’t forget the controversial Biro Tata Negara (BTN) or National Civics Bureau courses which Nazri admitted were racist. Those in the alternative coalition Pakatan Rakyat have also claimed that the BTN propagated political indoctrination.

Then there is the “Allah” controversy, which, whether or not we recognize or admit it, has been turned into a racial-religious issue, although fundamentally it is a human right and constitutional matter.

Then we have the ultra-Malay group Perkasa led by Datuk Ibrahim Ali, and finds support from luminaries such as former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which has been in the forefront of championing Malay rights.

Associated with Perkasa is another ultra-Malay group Majlis Perundingan Melayu or the Malay Consultative Council which has also been very vocal in the arena of racial polemic.

And in reaction to these bigoted groups, some idiots from a certain political party want to form a Chinese Perkasa to counter-challenge their form of racial fanaticism with its own form of racial fanaticism. Sometime I wonder how such witless foolish people, with such gullible and naïve character, are elected to leadership positions in their party.

We can observe and note that those playing racial political card are obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of their own views and opinions, and are deeply prejudiced against those who hold different opinions, particularly those of other races.

Certainly, the racial time-bomb is ticking fast and set to explore anytime soon if nothing is done now to arrest the fanatical racial trend. The most severe action must be taken against those who instigate, provoke, and incite racial discontentment.

Appropriate actions, including sacking and jail term, must be taken fast against those like the Johor school head and other racially bias civil servants who are clearly unfit to be in the government administration of a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural, multi-lingual society like ours.

The racial time-bomb is ticking fast!

To the media’s defence

PETALING JAYA, 17 Aug 2010: A new non-governmental organisation, the South East Asia Media Legal Defence Network (SEAMLDN), is all set to provide journalists in the region with legal protection.
SEAMLDN, which was soft-launched in Kuala Lumpur on 23 July 2010, will provide legal assistance, including payment of legal fees, to journalists and media organisations.
It will also provide support for lawyers who take up freedom of expression cases, SEAMLDN Malaysia project coordinator and lawyer HR Dipendra said.
Already, SEAMLDN is assisting cartoonist Zunar and his publisher, news portal Malaysiakini, in challenging the Home Ministry‘s ban of his books, 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun.
Dipendra said the network was focusing on smaller news organisations and independent journalists, most of whom publish online and have fewer resources compared with established traditional media players to defend themselves in lawsuits.
SEAMLDN believes that not only are journalists increasingly in need of protection, so, too, are bloggers if freedom of expression is to be upheld.
“The concept of media is ever expanding and includes social media like blogs, websites and podcasts. There is a compelling need to broaden the concept of journalists to include the various players who shape the media industry,” Dipendra told The Nut Graph.
“The only way forward in protection of media freedom is to expand and enlarge the concept of journalists. [We use the term] in a generic sense [to] encompass anyone who disseminates information to the public at large, for a public good.”
Dipendra (Courtesy of SEAMLDN)
Dipendra (Courtesy of SEAMLDN)
SEAMLDN was an observer during blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin‘s sedition trial, for which the fugitive was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.
Most journalists from the traditional media would disagree that bloggers are journalists. But according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), as of December 2009, 45% of all journalists jailed worldwide were freelancers, many of whom published independently on the web.
The CPJ reports that there were 68 bloggers, web-based reporters, and online editors in prison in 2009. Print journalists, including editors and photographers, came in second.
State control of media expansion
In tandem with media expansion, Dipendra said state authorities may seek to control and manage the press and new media either by using more force, or by retaining outdated and oppressive laws.
He noted that there weren’t many new models of laws that regulate internet content to follow. “There isn’t a clear understanding as to how the new media work, at least from the government’s point of view. Ever so often, the new media are seen as anti-government,” he said.
Indeed, the state doesn’t just target writers or reporters in Malaysia. Six people who posted comments on blogs on the Perak crisis were charged with insulting royalty under the Penal Code and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for “improper use of facilities or network service”.
Raja Petra (Pic by Johnleemk | Wiki commons)
Raja Petra (Pic by Johnleemk | Wiki commons)
At the same time, outdated and oppressive laws continue to be used in Malaysia. The Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) is being used against cartoonist Zunar, and the colonial-era Sedition Act was used against Raja Petra. The PPPA was also recently used to suspend opposition parties’ organs Suara Keadilan, Harakah and Rocket. Harakah‘s permit has since been renewed, while the ministry is still deciding on Rocket.
Another media-restrictive law that was recently invoked was the Securities Commission Act (SCA) 1993. The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) considers it an impediment to media freedom because it compels a person being questioned by the commission to answer all questions, or be liable to a fine of RM1 million or jail, or both.
Suing for defamation
In Malaysia, apart from the use of laws like the Sedition Act and the PPPA, there appears to have been a flurry of defamation suits or intentions to sue the media since the 2008 general election.
A number of these suits have been filed by politicians, many of whom are from the opposition. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng sued Utusan Malaysia in February 2009 for defamation. He again plans to sue the Bahasa Malaysia daily for its reporting of his spat with the Penang state development officer. The DAP secretary-general last year also told all the party’s Members of Parliament to sue any media organisation that defames them.
Other opposition politicians who have filed suits include Teresa Kok. Yet others have announced their intentions to sue various media outlets, such PAS spiritual leader Datuk Seri Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin.
However, CIJ notes that many of these cases have more to do with irresponsible reporting than censorship of freedom of expression. “More opposition politicians appear to be using the courts because they feel there is no other recourse. They say their attempts to engage the media to clarify their positions are not well-received,” CIJ Malaysia director V Gayathry told The Nut Graph by phone.
Apart from these, Malaysiakini is being sued by Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud for defamation.
Gayathry said CIJ was starting to put together a database of defamation suits against the media. “It (the suits by opposition politicians that we’re seeing) boils down to the fact that someone else is in power now to whom the media aren’t aligned, and the media haven’t adjusted to this change. But all the suits could have been avoided simply by reporting fairly,” Gayathry argued.
Opposition media, too, are not entirely without fault. Felda has sued Suara Keadilan and Parti Keadilan Rakyat leaders for RM200 million for an article titled Felda Bangkrap, even though there is no evidence that the agency is bankrupt.
Dipendra holds that politicians, like any person, have the right to defend themselves and their reputations. However, suing the media must not be a means of muzzling journalism.
“Suing the press must be tempered with the press’ ability to continue writing. Sue if you wish, but do not let suing be a means of stopping further reporting,” he said.
He added that politicians should sue only as a last resort after exhausting other means of clarification.
It’s also incumbent on journalists to write based on verified facts, and as far as possible to use sources who can be named, Dipendra said.
Regional issue
It’s not just the media in Malaysia that need legal protection and would benefit from SEAMLDN. In the Philippines, 137 journalists have been murdered since 1986, according to the country’s National Union of Journalists. The killings continue.
In Singapore, British author Alan Shadrake is on trial for contempt and under investigation for criminal defamation for his book, Once a Jolly Hangman – Singapore Justice in the Dock, about the republic’s application of capital punishment.
Thailand has laws to punish writers or anyone from being critical of its monarchy, while Vietnam has jailed and harassed writers for writing about human rights and political issues in the country.
SEAMLDN was formed in Hong Kong in 2007 as an answer to litigation problems faced by journalists. It is affiliated to the Media Legal Defence Initiative, a London-based charity.