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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Missing land grant: MIC's silence fuels suspicion

By B Nantha Kumar - Free Malaysia Today,

SITIAWAN: The Human Rights Party (HRP) has cast aspersions on the integrity of the Perak MIC and the Dindings Indian Association (DIA) over their continued silence over a land dispute.

HRP Perak pro-tem deputy chief N Subramaniam is of the opinion that both DIA and MIC are hiding from the public facts and documents pertaining to the dispute.

He said after the Dindings land issue arose, the DIA had split into two groups. "We know that one group is in touch with Perak MIC chairman S Veerasingam," said Subramaniam.

“As far I know Veerasingam has never spoken to the other group, which is the Committee Against the Acquisition of Dindings Indian Heritage Land (CAADIHL)."

Recapping the history of the disputed land, Subramaniam said that in 1939 the plantation workers around the Sitiawan township had chipped in to buy a  5.5 acres land.

The land has since become a ‘heritage site’ for the local Indian community. According to Subramaniam, the land was now worth several hundred million ringgit.

Government interference


Problems surfaced in the late 90s when the chairman of the DIA, N Krishnan, consented to develop the land in collaboration with a private company called King Hong Developer.

The developer agreed to build 21 shops and a community hall on 2.5 acres of land.

Three of these shops were set aside for DIA. It is believed that the Chinese developer had handed over the balance three acres of land to a national school.

Subramaniam said the issue resurfaced seven years ago after several committee members began questioning Krishnan’s decision.

The matter came to a boil following the state government's interference. Realising the sensitivities involved, the government quickly backed out of discussions.

But the issue now, according to Subramaniam, is the land grant.

“The grant is missing. Many of the DIA members believe that Krishnan is holding the land grant but to this day he has failed to show us the document,” said Subramaniam.

Meanwhile, the community is also curious about Krishnan and his supporters’ seeming hold over Veerasingam.

'Abolish vernacular schools': Samy sees red

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president S Samy Vellu is infuriated by the Malay Consultative Council 's (MPM) call to abolish vernacular schools in the country.
He said the call was “mischievous, smacked of racism and above all, went against the Federal Constitution”.

The veteran politician stressed that such remarks were uncalled for and should be stopped immediately as it might lead to unwanted consequences.

“Tamil and Chinese schools are here to stay,” he said. “No one should question their existence.”

The MIC president said he was sad that there were still those who continued to harp on the existence of vernacular schools.

“I hope individuals and groups under the guise of NGOs will be more sensitive and understand the history of the country and the people,” he said.

Samy Vellu also vowed that MIC would ensure that Tamil schools continued to flourish with the assistance of the government.

MPM had urged the government to abolish vernacular schools in favour of a single national school system.

In another development, the MIC president also condemned the action by demonstrators who had thrown faeces into the Malaysian Embassy’s compound in Jakarta last Monday.

“No individual or groups must resort to this kind of action as it will hurt the relationship between Malaysia and Indonesia,” he said.

He was commenting on the action by the Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat (Bendera) group, whose members had also stomped on the Jalur Gemilang and smeared it with faeces.

He called on Jakarta to take firm action against the demonstrators to ensure it was not repeated.

'Malay by heritage' Zaid slams Dr M

By FMT Staff
KUALA LUMPUR: PKR supreme council member Zaid Ibrahim has diagnosed Dr Mahathir Mohamad with a psychological disorder, which has rendered his mind "convoluted and confused".
And a tell-tale symptom of this condition, according to him, is the former premier's "obnoxious and extraordinarily stupid" statement.

Commenting on Mahathir's latest blog posting on meritocracy, Zaid also took a swipe at the latter's Indian roots, by describing himself as "not just a Malay by constitutional definition, but by heritage (as well)."

In his posting, the former premier had labelled those who pushed for meritocracy as being just as racist as those who defended Malay rights.

Mahathir added that some Malays, “perhaps due to mistaken pride”, supported meritocracy and undermined the Malay position further.

However, Zaid disagreed.

“Many Malays want meritocracy for very good reasons. They want their applications for contracts and projects to be given fair consideration by the authorities. They do not want only those who are politically connected to have the upper hand. They want a level playing field.

“They believe that they can succeed on merit if only they get a fair chance. They want to succeed with their pride intact; and at the same time they want to tell their children that Malays who work hard and with the right attitude can succeed., like everybody else,” he said.

Zaid said many Malays wanted meritocracy so that they could get their dues like promotion and higher positions by working hard.

“They want to be judged fairly and not lose their position or seniority because some one else has the right political cable. They want a promotion system that is transparent and free of interference.

“They want to say that they have succeeded because they did it the hard way. Why does Mahathir have to belittle these Malays? Why must the Malays be scrapped off their self-respect just to prove that Umno is responsible for everything in this country?” he added.

'This is not misplaced pride'

Zaid, a former Umno leader himself, said he failed to understand why Malays who supported meritocracy were described as having misplaced pride.

On the contrary, the former law minister said, it was these Malays who carried the flagship of a proud people.

“We know our strengths and we have no shame of our limitations. But we will always strive to better ourselves. If by open competition and transparent policies the net effect is that some Malays still need extra help and support, then of course a responsible government will have to step in; to provide the incentives and the safety net to bridge the gap.

“But let us start with the notion that we must earn our success like everyone else. And the let the best amongst us prosper. We do not need to be instant millionaires. We can take our time so long as we work hard. All we want is the best education for the Malays,” he added.

Zaid said that his comments were aimed at reminding Mahathir of how wrong he was, and not because he had misplaced pride.

“Misplaced pride for a Malay is when he gets to be a minister because his father fixes it; or he has a few hundred millions in his coffers because he has the right Chinese partner to enrich him,” he added.

Court sets date for airman's bid to summon 'torturers'

( Malaysiakini) Ex-airman N Tharmendran's application in the Shah Alam High Court to summon the two majors who had allegedly tortured him will be heard on Oct 1.

The application, submitted by Tharmendran's lead counsel N Surendran on Monday, was to have been heard this morning, but was pushed back by judge Asmabi Mohamad after the prosecution requested time to study it.

As such, the application to quash the charges against the former sergeant - also due to have been dealt with today - will only be heard after Oct 1.

NONEThe two majors were alleged to have tortured Tharmendran (right) while he was detained by military intelligence officers for questioning, in relation to the theft of two fighter-jet engines.

"(The duo) have filed affidavits to deny the claims (but) we want to cross-examine them in open court," Surendran told reporters later.

Tharmendran is jointly charged with businessman Rajandran Prasad Kusy with the theft of the engines at the air movement section of the Subang air force base some time in December 2007.

If found guilty under Section 380 of the Penal Code, he is liable to face 10 years in jail.

He faces a second charge of abetment under Section 109 of the Penal Code for collaborating with senior airman Mohamad Shukri Mohamad Yusop in the theft of the engines from the Sungai Besi airforce base.

Another witness of 'torture'

Tharmendran is currently under remand in the Sungai Buloh prison, as the government and the armed forces have ignored his request for a guarantee of safety.

"We are very disaNONEppointed with the Home Ministry, Defence Ministry and armed forces which have yet to give assurance of safety,” said Surendran.

"(Tharmendran) is able to raise bail but he is still in prison because he feels safer there.”

He said another witness has claimed to have seen the officers assault another soldier in front of Tharmendran.

This eyewitness has filed an affidavit, which will be read out in court, he added.

Message from P. Waytha Moorthy Chairman HINDRAF

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Perkasa won’t form party, to remain rights watchdog

Datuk Ibrahim Ali, the heart and soul of the Perkasa movement.
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — Malay rights group Perkasa today has dismissed speculation that it will turn into a political party and contest in the next general election.

Perkasa Youth chief Arman Azha Abu Hanifah told The Malaysian Insider that Perkasa would remain a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

“We are not interested in becoming a political party,” he said.

He stressed that the Malay rights group would remain a watchdog for political parties.

He admitted hearing rumours that Perkasa would contest in the 13th General Election.

Azman Azha suspects the speculations are caused by their membership and support growth since it was established a year and four months ago.

He said there were more than 300,000 members in Perkasa presently and growing.

Perkasa’s popularity has grown particularly among right-wing Malays, with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointing out yesterday that it existed because Umno was weak and mismanaged.

But Perkasa’s strident and divisive rhetoric has spooked many non-Malays and moderate Malays, including those in the Najib administration who are mindful about the rights group’s significant influence.

Perkasa founder Datuk Ibrahim Ali, a journeyman politician from Kelantan, said recently that those who disagreed with the “social contract” that they can leave the country.

The rights group also recently called for MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to be detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for pushing for the removal of the Bumiputera equity target.

Arman Azha said however that there was a misconception that the group was “ultra-Malay” and racist.

He said that Perkasa’s role was to go against those who disrespected the Constitution.

“We are pressuring them not to touch the federal constitution but other people are thinking that we’re ultra-Malay, they are saying we’re racist… but if you’re following Perkasa, we are protecting the Federal Constitution,” he said.

He said such issues had been played up by politicians for their personal agenda.

“Don’t make the Federal Constitution into a political agenda,” he said. He instead criticised both coalitions for “not doing their job”.

“Both sides are saying that they are fighting for the rakyat but what they’re doing, they are playing politics since 2008, to strengthen themselves by playing the Federal Constitution by playing the racist issue,” Azman Azha said.

He said the recent chain of police reports lodged by both the Opposition and the ruling party about its call for vernacular schools to be abolished meant Perkasa was doing its job.

“That means Perkasa is doing its job. If they are strong enough they won’t bother with Perkasa,” he boasted.

“I just want to inform both sides that during the last election, both parties were talking about building up the nation. Please fulfill what you have promised… work as one government in the Parliament... outside the Parliament you can play politics… but please focus on the agenda,” he warned. - The Malaysian Insider

DAP MP calls AG’s Chambers biased for omitting inquest video

Lim accused the AG’s Chambers of protecting Abdul Razak by not uploading the video. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng has accused the Attorney-General’s (AG) Chambers of taking sides in the Teoh Beng Hock inquest after it failed to upload the video clip of the latest proceedings as previously done.

He said the department had so far posted video clips of each session on its website the following day but has yet to put up the clip of the August 18 proceedings, in which Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand had an exchange of words with Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) lawyer Datuk Abdul Razak Musa.

“[W]hy are they try to hide something which is public... from the public?” Lim told a press conference here.

He said he considered the recordings of the inquest public since the AG’s Chambers had made it a point to upload them “from day one” to show that they were transparent and not biased.

“But why not the latest recording? The latest recording is supposed to be the funniest, full of surprises and our government lawyer will be the laughing stock in the whole legal profession and the whole world. So they purposely tried to hide it,” the lawyer said.

Rocky ground for Batu's poor

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today

SPECIAL REPORT ON KL Urban poverty is a stubborn thread woven tightly into the fabric that is Kuala Lumpur and no amount of tugging has managed to completely unravel it.
For most constituencies, it is yet another social ill to eradicate. For Batu, which houses the most People's Housing Project (PPR) flats in Kuala Lumpur, it is a deadweight. And this is the behemoth that Tian Chua inherited when he took over Batu from its Gerakan predecessor in 2008.

The first-term MP has branded urban poverty as a “serious phenomenon” in his constituency and pinned the onus on greed, bad town planning and impractical policies. The first two, he claimed, are the culprits behind the development of the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) land reserve in Sentul.

“KTM land is the biggest land reserve in Batu on which the railway settlement is located,” he said. “When the government privatised the land – which was a very unwise decision – the developers chose profit over social responsibility.”

“Their grand plans to erect high-end property there will not only displace the poor but also create a scenario where the rich and poor are literally living side by side. And this will become a warm bed for a different set of conflicts.”

The PKR information chief reproached the government for its lack of thought for driving the poor into PPR flats and its indifference towards their deplorable living conditions.

According to him, settlers are often herded into hastily built PPR flats, which are haphazardly scattered around Batu with no consideration given to the appropriateness of its location. Most of these flats, he added, suffer major infrastructural and environmental problems, which stretch beyond an MP's capacity to resolve.

“Then there are impractical policies like disqualifying an unmarried person's application for public housing,” he said. “For some reason, the government believes that singles can easily find a roof over their heads when the fact is that many of them have no one to take them in. So they wind up either squatting or living on the streets.”

“Despite the growing urban density, we still haven't learnt to predict the future trends of population and housing. We should be able to calculate the number of people who will be living in PPR flats within the next 20 years, compare that to the land that has been approved for housing and be able to tell if there will be a problem in the future.”

Tian Chua pointed out that even the middle class is not spared in the pursuit of development. The emphasis on quantity has led to shoddy building design and maintenance, which has resulted in “high-cost apartments” deteriorating into “low-cost slums”.

“I sometimes joke that these apartments are actually PPR flats with a guard house and swimming pool,” he laughed, before resuming solemnity. “But this is what happens when no one thinks about the type of residents who will live in these spaces.”

He explained that such apartments are often sold to a motley crew of residents who are split into those who can and cannot afford the monthly maintenance fees. The problem starts as soon as one group starts defaulting on payments.

Once this happens, the private management company resigns and is replaced by another company which charges a lower fee but compromises on quality. Before long, the middle class finds itself saddled with low-cost housing.

“We have to take a different approach in serving and developing the KL community because the standard approach is mechanical and ends up creating more misery,” Tian Chua said. “The government conducts a survey on the number of squatters and then decides how many flats to build. But this doesn't solve the problem. Communal development is about building communities, not infrastructure.”

Saving Batu's face

The other bone that Tian Chua has to pick with the government is the latter's move to shove development down Batu's throat at the expense of its rich cultural heritage.

Plans are apparently underway to demolish the KTM quarters in Sentul, which will wipe out the history of the Indian railway workers and the development that reflects the essence of the community there. Tian Chua lamented that Sentul's moniker of “Little India” is already fast losing its relevance.

“Located further north of Batu is a two-century-old Malay Mingakabau settlement,” he said. “It holds a proud history but again development involves relocating the people to PPR flats to make way for a shopping mall.”

“Then there's Jinjang Selatan which was a Cold War insurgency area and one of the biggest new villages in Malaysia. That too is under threat. These are sources of pride but the government's vision is taking precedence over historical value.”

Tian Chua said that if development continued down this path, it would create a monotonous future that would make Malaysian strangers to their own culture.

“Is this what we want for KL?” he asked. “These three ethnic communities have their roots in Batu and are witnesses to KL's history. They should be preserved in our urban landscape but this consciousness is missing from the Minister of Federal Territories and Urban Well-being (Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin), the bureaucrats in DBKL (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) and sadly, even society.”

One cannot talk about development without mentioning another of Sentul's best known features – the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC). Hailed as the breeding ground for young local talent, KLPAC has breathed new life into Sentul. But Tian Chua is reserved in his praise.

“I appreciate the good work that KLPAC has done,” he said, choosing his words with care. “Unfortunately it doesn't belong to the community here but to those with a starkly different lifestyle.”

Betting his bottom ringgit that the PPR flats also house hidden talent, he shared that he was once involved in scouting for talent within that community and giving them a platform to perform for their own people.

He added that KLPAC provided minimal employment opportunities for the Sentul community because the government's approval of projects isn't based on the number of jobs it can create.

“In countries with a matured economy, a development proposal has to state not just a revenue forecast but also say how much employment opportunity it will generate during construction and after completion. The authorities here fail to do that.”

The call of duty


Tian Chua is further rankled over DBKL's insistence on shouldering the full responsibility of town planning and ostracising Pakatan Rakyat MPs in KL from this process.

“Locking us out equates to rejecting the people's input and disrespecting the democratic process,” he asserted. “So here we have DBKL single-handedly making decisions to which we disagree and us creating enough noise for them to retract it. But it's a waste of time! We can achieve so much more if DBKL treated us as partners in the problem-solving process.”

Then he chuckled and confided that he was luckier than his counterparts as three DBKL advisory board members reside in his area, which inevitably makes development a tad easier.

“DBKL's problem is its enforcement structure which places it directly below the Minister of Federal Territories and Urban Well-being (Raja Nong Chik),” he said. “It's meant to function as a state but right now it is answerable only to the government, which makes it difficult for its policies to respond to the people's needs.”

While he commended KL Mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail for attempting to maintain a cordial relationship with Pakatan MPs, he made no secret of his disdain for Nong Chik.

“The minister is an arrogant politician who is openly taking a very sectarian and partisan attitude by declaring his party allegiance during government functions,” he stated. “I recently met a group of settlers facing eviction in Sri Sentosa who sought help from his office but were chased away because they are Pakatan supporters.”

“Nong Chik doesn't realise that he is not an Umno politician... his responsibility is to the people. He has made no secret that he was given this position to recapture seats for BN. That is a disservice to the residents of KL and an insult to their intelligence.”

When asked what he thought PKR's new FT chief, Zaid Ibrahim, could bring to the table, Tian Chua replied in one word – coordination.

“Zaid is fortunate that KL has the highest rate of Pakatan MPs than any other states, so he can leave the daily issues to us. What we'd like to see him do is to coordinate our efforts and his vision in articulating a better future for KL if Pakatan comes into power.”

Everyone's a racist, in Dr M's eyes

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has condemned everyone as racist, and what is unravelling now, according to him, is not a campaign against racism.
“What we are seeing is a campaign by racists against racists. The meritocrats are as much racists as the Malay NGOs and Perkasa,” he said.

Penning his thoughts on the issue of meritocracy in his blog, the 84-year-old statesman turned the clock back to 1964 when Malaysia held its first election.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, he said, had struck a deal with the then chief minister of Singapore Lee Kwan Yew that the People's Action Party (PAP) would contest only in Singapore.

“It was really not a smart kind of agreement. It was not put on paper at all. Only an understanding between two leaders. It was not surprising that PAP decided to contest in the peninsular,” he added.

According to Mahathir, Lee believed that the Malaysian Chinese, who were represented by MCA, could be persuaded to back him.

If MCA was defeated, Tunku would have to replace MCA with PAP in the Alliance, the predecessor of Barisan Nasional.

“The PAP is a Chinese party largely. But had always projected itself as non-racial. To win in Malaysia Lee had to appeal to Chinese chauvinism. However, he could not do this openly.

“Being the astute politician that he is, Lee came up with a slogan which did not sound chauvinistic but which played up Chinese sentiments to the core. The slogan was 'Malaysian Malaysia',” he said.

“While appearing to be appealing for all Malaysians, the slogan clearly suggested that there was no equality between the Chinese and Malays. He and his party were made out to be fighting for equality, whereas MCA represented only the Chinese towkays,” he added.

The Malays, said Mahathir, were alarmed at the prospect of the Peninsular Chinese combining with Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak Chinese to outnumber them.

“Split as they were between PAS and Umno, their chances of continuing to dominate Malaysian politics was at risk,” he added.

DAP inherits the legacy

Strangely, Mahathir said, PAP failed to outshine MCA. But Tunku was shocked and decided that Singapore's inclusion in Malaysia posed a great danger. A year later, Singapore was expelled.

“But PAP's chauvinistic legacy was taken up by DAP. And the slogan 'Malaysian Malaysia' continued to figure in Malaysian politics, evolving into a new catchword, 'Meritocracy'. If 'Malaysian Malaysia' conjures equality between races, 'Meritocracy' implies something stronger.

“It implies dominance by the race with the greatest merit in every field, in education, in business and in all fields of human endeavour,” he added.

Mahathir said when the Malays, understanding the implications, protested against meritocracy, they were condemned as racists.

“Faced with being labelled as such, most Malays dared not support even the NEP. Some, perhaps due to mistaken pride begun to support meritocracy, undermining the Malay position further,” he added.

Presently, Mahathir said, many Malay NGOs were trying to defend the Malay position and were invariably labelled as racists.

The unfortunate truth, he added, was that those who labelled them were equally racists because of their advocacy of meritocracy.

A jab for PAS as well

Taking a swipe at PAS, Mahathir said the situation was same with political parties which used Islam as a basis for appeal.

“In Malaysia the Malays are all Muslims. There are quite a large number of Indian Muslims in Malaysia but they do not figure in the political party said to be Islamic.

“The party, by using Islam, knows full well they are appealing to Malays almost exclusively. But the intention is not to defend the Malays but merely to gain their support. One can say they are not Malay racists. Rather, they are Malay political opportunists,” he said.

“That is why they find no difficulty in switching tactics in order to win the support of the non-Malays. Where before they condemned Umno for working with non-Muslims, today their co-operation with non-Muslims knows no bounds,” he added.

Umno is openly partisan


As for Umno, which Mahathir led for more than two decades, he said compared with others, Umno was openly partisan, and did not hide its concern for the well-being of the Malays.

“Unfortunately because of mismanagement it has become weak. That is why today we have Perkasa and other Malay NGOs as openly concerned about the Malays as Umno once was.

“The condemnation by those said to be advocating meritocracy is because they see the racism of the meritocrats, just as the Malays of 1964 saw the racism of 'Malaysian Malaysia',” he added.

Realising that his latest posting was sure to draw flak, Mahathir said: “Incidentally by writing this I know the meritocrat racists will condemn me as racist. So be it.”

PKR Youth devoid of real leaders?

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: There seems to be widespread discontent in PKR Youth, which many have described as "incompetent" and "uninspiring".

Observers say the lack of capable and talented leaders has weakened the party's Youth wing as a potent force among its peers.
Current chief Syamsul Iskandar and his followers have been under intense pressure to perform and is under fire from all sides for their alleged inability to step up to the plate, while its counterpart in the Barisan Nasional (BN) has done fairly well to remain relevant among voters.

PKR Youth will be holding its election along with the national leadership polls by year-end. Some have expressed concerns that the candidates for the Youth's top posts may not be good enough to transform the movement's dismal image.

It is understood that three candidates will be mounting a challenge against Syamsul who will be defending his post at the upcoming party polls.

The two main contenders are Rafizi Ramli, the chief executive officer to Selangor's economic adviser, Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the party's de facto leader, and Youth executive council member Bardrul Hisham Shaharin.

The third contender is considered to be the dark horse in the race -- Hasmi Hashim, an aide to party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. He was defeated when he vied for the Youth chief post in the last party election.

Party insiders told FMT that Rafizi, a UK-trained engineer-turned-accountant, has the backing of top young leaders like newly minted party communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and Anwar's daughter and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah.

"He's talented and is definitely an asset but he does not command the support of the grassroots members. That's Rafizi's problem," a party official said, adding that this has ruled out his chances of taking over the Youth's helm.

'Street fighter' reputation

Badrul Hisham, or popularly known as "Chegubard", does command the respect of the Youth members but is not favoured among PKR's top leaders due to his "street fighter" reputation.

Badrul Hisham has been arrested several times for his street protest "antics" and it is understood that the central leadership is keen on distancing itself from him. Should he win, there will be a divisive gap between the party's Youth wing and the top leaders.

"The party appreciates his contribution but he has no other talent than street provocation. We don't need this kind of politics anymore. Party leaders are getting tired of it, so Chegubard is definitely out of the equation, " a party source said.

Party observers say the third contender, Hasmi, may also lack the needed quality to rejuvenate the wing but his chances may be strengthened by his recruiting ability.

It is also learnt that Hasmi has under him capable and talented followers whom the top leaders and party observers consider pivotal to forming PKR's third-tier leadership.

"These potential members are young who can preserve the movement's idealism,” another party official said. Youth members must be below 35.

Potential candidates aside, the fears still exist that PKR lacks an "all-rounder" and real capable leader to re-invigorate the shoddy Youth wing.

Much of the blame has been put on Shamsul who, party leaders say, has done little to expand the movement. In contrast, BN Youth has done much to recruit and widen its support base.

No place for Ibans and Bidayuhs in Sarawak

By Maclean Patrick - Free Malaysia Toiday

COMMENT The American Indians are considered a nation within a nation. Ask and they will refer to themselves as being part of the American Indian Nation. They have customary rights over tracts of land and can govern and set up businesses to finance their own reservations.
Interestingly, the American Indian Nation is composed of a collection of distinct tribes, states and ethnic groups, many of whom are intact political communities. Various bills and laws are in effect to protect the indigenous peoples of North America living within the confines of the 50 states that make up the United States of America. Though they are proud of their ethnic heritage, collectively they are known as American Indians.

This is America. Often times demonised by Malaysia, yet it is still civilised enough to safeguard the rights of the people living within its boundaries.

This is Sarawak, where Ibans and Bidayuhs are not recognised as citizens, let alone as natives of Sarawak.

Don't believe me? The following is taken from the Federal Constitution:

Article 161a of the Federal Constitution

In this Article “native” means:

• (a) in relation to Sarawak, a person who is a citizen and either belongs to one of the races specified in Clause (7) as indigenous to the State or is a mixed blood deriving exclusively from those races;

• (b) in relation to Sabah, a person who is a citizen, is the child or grandchild of a person of a race indigenous to Sabah, and was born (whether on or after Malaysia Day or not) either in Sabah or to a father domiciled in Sabah at the time of the birth.

Clause (7)

(7) The races to be treated for the purposes of the definition of “native” in clause (6) as indigenous to Sarawak are the Bukitans, Bisayahs, Dusuns, Sea Dayaks, Land Dayaks, Kadayans, Kelabit, Kayans, Kenyahs (including Sekapans, Kejamans, Lahanans, Punans, Tanjongs dan Kanowits), Lugats, Lisums, Malays, Melanaus, Muruts, Penans, Sians, Tagals, Tabuns and Ukits.

There is no mention of Ibans or Bidayuh(s). In fact, Iban(s) are classified as Sea Dayaks and the Bidayuh(s) are classified as Land Dayaks. Keep this distinction in mind.

Fast forward to the present day.

An amendment was made to the Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance 2004, which in effect declassified the word “Dayak”. Thus, the terms Sea Dayaks and Land Dayaks do not have nor hold any meaning whatsoever. And in a stroke of pure idiocy by the august house (the State Legislative Assembly) of Sarawak, two native groups were wiped off the face of the earth -- at least in the reading of the Federal Constitution. Two ethnic groups are now rendered non-existent.

With that, the Sea Dayaks and Land Dayaks lose all rights within Sarawak. In one stroke, the Sea Dayaks and Land Dayaks are a nameless entity; we are worse off than the American Indians. It would have been better for the Sea Dayaks and the Land Dayaks to go the way of the Dodo -- extinction merits a mention in the history books. But the Sea Dayaks and Land Dayaks are very much alive and form the majority ethnic groups in Sarawak.

How then can a majority group like the Ibans and Bidayuhs be rendered helplessly non-existent in their native land?

Entity without a nation

I am an Iban, my parents are both Ibans and I can trace my ancestry to the early Iban migration up the Kepuas river into Sarawak; and this reading of the rules of the land of Malaysia has rendered me an entity without a nation. And this disaster does not just befell me but the generations after me.

Where then do I stand as a legal citizen of Malaysia? What claims to citizenship can I make since I am effectively unknown in the eyes of the Federal Consitution? It is impossible to imagine a citizen who is not recognised as a citizen of the land upon which he/she was born. So what am I? What manner of logic did the Dayak leaders, voted into office by the Dayak people, use to rationalise and support the declassification of the term Dayak?

If we were to go along with the logic of allowing the right for one to claim his own ethnic identity, thus in declassifying the Dayak term, the Federal Constitution should have also been amended in order to reflect the use of the more specific Iban and Bidayuh term. But no amendment was made to the Federal Constitution to insert the specific term Iban and Bidayuh to replace the now defunct Sea Dayak and Land Dayak terms.

The implications of the amendment to the Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance 2004 are clearly visible and telling if it is read along with the interpretation used by the Student Intake Management Division, Higher Learning Department and Higher Education Ministry to classify what constitute a Bumiputera. This definition is used to vet the suitability of Sarawakian students for entry into institutions of higher learning. It was promptly used in the incident where 17-year-old Marina Undau was deemed not eligible for entry into a matriculation programme because she was not a Bumiputera.

Their definition is as follows:

• If either parent of a candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/Orang Asli as defined in Article 160 (2) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a Bumiputera.

• Sabah – If the father of the candidate is a Malay who is a Muslim/native of Sabah as defined by Article 161A(6)(a) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a Bumiputera.

• Sarawak – If the father and mother are natives of Sarawak as defined under Article 161A(6)(b) of the Federal Constitution, the child is considered a Bumiputera.

Take this definition and read it against the Federal Constitution and the amended Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance 2004 and Ibans and Bidayuhs are classified non-Bumiputera.

Why?

In order to be a Bumiputera, you must first be a native of Sarawak. But according to the amended Sarawak Interpretation Ordinance 2004, Ibans and Bidayuhs are not natives of Sarawak.

This is a clear case of a government that has failed to look into the welfare of the people living within its borders. Instead, it is a government that has robbed a living group of peoples their identity, their rights, and ultimately their dignity. I hope the elected leaders of Sarawak are proud of what they have done; because I am sure not.


Maclean Patrick, a webmaster in Kuching, is a contributor to FreeMalaysiaToday.

Seeing REDD in climate tool

By Hilary Chiew

COMMENT In the last three weeks, Sarawak was abuzz with news of a particular climate change mitigation mechanism called REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries).
First, a news article by Reuters informed that an Australian carbon trading company has signed a carbon offset deal with nine tribal leaders that would purportedly preserved more than 100,000ha of forests in the state.

It would be a 50-50 deal, according to the developer of the carbon offset scheme, Shift2Neutral. About 10,000 people from the 24 villages stand to be paid for keeping their forests intact for the next 20 years.

The firm said it will work with the tribes and a local NGO to help manage the forest, survey the area and access the carbon stored in the trees and soil.

Last week, the first carbon offset and forest conservation workshop was held in Kuching, the state capital, to familiarise the timber-related parties with carbon offset and REDD.

Key players in the commercial logging sector listened intently to speakers on how they can participate in REDD activities.

Director of Forestry, Sarawak, Len Talif Salleh said the state is interested in the implementation of REDD and discussion has already been held with the Sarawak-chapter of the Wildlife Conservation Society (a US-originated non-governmental organisation) to look into the potential of REDD in the Anap Muput Forest Management Unit.

Also, Sarawak would require capacity building, technical assistance and financial support for a number of enabling activities to participate in future REDD activities.

Ultimate saviour


Regarded as a vital part of the global fight against climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to negotiate new policy approaches and positive incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).

REDD, which has since been expanded to include a more comprehensive approach and renamed REDD-plus, is envisioned as a forestry sector solution to carbon emissions from logging and forest- clearing activities that are responsible for nearly one-fifth of global emissions.

It has been touted as the “ultimate saviour” against the industrial logging scourge across the equatorial belt that had enriched a handful of timber tycoons and political elites at the expense of the environment and human rights violation of forest-dwelling communities.

However, environmental activists who had campaigned tirelessly against unsustainable industrial logging over the last quarter century found an added reason to support their cause – in the battle to save the world from the impacts of climate change, the embattled tropical rainforests could be saved.

Furthermore, the threat against the tropical rainforests has a relatively new enemy. In the last decade, degraded tropical forests were intensely targeted for conversion into oil palm plantation, including the carbon-rich peat swamp forests partly due to depleted timber stocks and the growing demand for palm oil, which is the cheapest vegetable oil in the world.

In response to the realisation that their forests are vital tools in combating a warming earth, a group of developing countries known as the Coalition of Rainforest Nations demanded that compensation for the carbon stored in their forests should form part of the agreement of the United Nations climate change deal that was supposed to be achieved last December at its 16th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen

The coalition includes Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Peru.

But as we all know, the devil is always, always, in the details.

Initially, REDD was designed as a mere mitigation tool void of land tenure consideration and human rights perspectives.

The indigenous peoples’ movement has criticised it for its lack of recognition of their rights over the land and the fear that any “value-adding” (in this case, carbon sequestration role of forests to climate change) to the resource would increase existing land conflicts between communities and drivers of deforestation such as industrial logging and large-scale plantation.

The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) lobbied hard at the UNFCCC meetings to have the rights of indigenous peoples recognised and rewarded for they were and continue to be the communities that had fought to defend and manage their ancestral forests for centuries, which turned out to be a service to all humanity.

Financing REDD

While curbing deforestation has been accepted as one of the key solutions to halt climate change, to reverse the trend would need huge financing to preserve this precious resource. And it has proven to be the most contentious area in the negotiation. Should it be financed by public funds (from developed nations as part of their climate debt payment) or the carbon market?

Some indigenous peoples’ groups are against the commodification of carbon in the trees and soil as against their sacred view of the universe.

Parties to the UNFCCC are still divided over the source of funding and the type of activities (for example, reforestation that include monoculture timber plantation) that should be supported by REDD. Concerns over leakage (where one area is spared of the chainsaw only to have the loggers move into another area that is not covered by REDD) and permanence (where the period of REDD-protected forests expires) are also being deliberated at the talks.

One of the main criticisms by certain green groups against REDD is that it would ironically reward polluters (logging companies that had destroyed the forests in the first place and released the carbon into the atmosphere) that would now be compensated for not extracting timber for yet another round or convert the land into plantation.

They find it hard to swallow that instead of adopting the “polluters pay principle”, the reverse is happening.

Confusion in the media

As the negotiation continues, REDD and its potential in the carbon credit market has generated considerable excitement among the business and media sectors.

Along with it confusion arises. Many had been confused by the voluntary and mandatory carbon market. Under the UNFCCC, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol was developed to assist Annex I parties (developed countries that are supposed to reduce 5.2% of their collective emission level from the 1990 base year between the first commitment period of 2008-2012) to partially meet their reduction commitment.

In line with the principle of the UNFCCC, CDM promotes sustainable development in developing countries through finance and technology-transfer from rich nations.

Credits generated through CDM projects, such as capturing methane from palm oil mill effluents to power the boilers in a palm oil refinery, are traded in the mandatory market.

The voluntary market is literally a free market where companies developed carbon offset projects with some forms of verification and sell those “verified” credits at the marketplace to, say, someone who wants to compensate for his carbon footprints in his personal capacity.

However, media reports have often blurred the line between the two markets and worst, any forest-related mitigation project such as the one reported by Reuters mentioned earlier are associated with the UNFCCC’s REDD-plus mechanism that is NOT operationalised yet.

‘REDD’ herring

Critics of CDM say developed countries are enjoying the cheap options of offsetting their emissions while delaying the relatively more costly transition to low-carbon technologies that they have to take to curb emissions at home.

Many feel the aim of reducing emission has been perverted by the market mechanism approach that is more concerned about cost-effectiveness than promoting clean development technology.

On the local front, the interests in REDD from the timber/plantation sector in Sarawak will definitely invite criticisms. It is well known that logging practices in Sarawak are unsustainable and poorly regulated owing to the political patronage system that the entire industry has operated under since the beginning of commercial logging.

Environmental concerns aside, Sarawak’s treatment of its indigenous communities is possibly one of the most appalling in the world. Land conflicts stretching from Lundu in the west to Lawas in the east of the state now account for more than 150 cases that had been filed in the High Court of Sarawak.

Despite several landmark decisions that upheld the native customary rights (NCR) of Sarawak natives, the state remains indifferent.

As the chant of the IIPFCC’s activists in the various UNFCCC meetings – “No rights, no REDD” – rings in my mind’s ear, it would be near impossible for Sarawak to participate in any form of REDD scheme unless and until it commits to a total reform of its forestry and land rights practices.

And as it has always been, the much criticised and recalcitrant Sarawak logging industry is also proving to be a hindrance for Malaysia to benefit fully from the mechanism. The number (close to 50 and counting) of provisional leases called the Licence for Planted Forests that the state government had issued would mean that no forested areas in Sarawak would be spared the chainsaw, making Malaysia highly susceptible to the problem of leakage.

The state has often mischievously misled the public by regarding its plantation forests scheme as reforestation programme.

If Sarawak truly wants to help the global fight in climate change, it should cancelled all these licences, recognise NCR and implement genuine reforestation in highly degraded forests that would enhance its forest carbon stock. Only in that way, it will be able to redeem itself through REDD-plus.


Hilary Chiew is a socio-environmental researcher and freelance writer based in Kuala Lumpur.

Belief Systems

If you insult one aspect of a belief system it can be treated like you are insulting one’s mother. So how would you feel if someone called your mother false or insulted your wife as simple and easy or your children as bastards? If the belief system is intimate enough to a person, the same feelings of wrath and anger can be triggered as if you were insulting his family.

By batsman

In my earlier write-up I argued that faith and beliefs are 2 very different things (Faith Re-Visited) and that faith cannot be questioned while belief systems being built up of sets of beliefs over time and which have logic of their own can.

Having said that, it is not as if belief systems can be questioned any which way. Being built up over time, a belief system can in a way become a way of life. It can be as intimate as one’s own family. So if you insult one aspect of a belief system it can be treated like you are insulting one’s mother. So how would you feel if someone called your mother false or insulted your wife as simple and easy or your children as bastards? If the belief system is intimate enough to a person, the same feelings of wrath and anger can be triggered as if you were insulting his family.

So now, there is a need to treat belief systems different from a simple argument over economics, for example. Arguments over belief systems need to be treated with much greater mutual respect. To discuss belief systems, there is a need for long term engagement and exchange of opinions and ideas. Not just that, there is also an even more urgent need to show sincerity with good deeds, integrity and decent actions. I believe this is what RPK is trying to do with Malaysia Today, unlike some people who piggy back on the strenuous efforts of others and shout insults from across the river or even from across oceans. Hopefully Malaysia Today will be with us for a very long time and be part of our lives for the long term.

Let me try to show how belief systems can be built up with a simple example. This story is by courtesy of antares ….

Albert Einstein was enjoying tea with his fellow professors. He was smiling while lighting his pipe, a fellow professor asked, “Why are you smiling? Einstein replies “I wonder if God has any choice when he created the universe?

When one thinks about this story, it would appear as if Einstein having consumed too much cakes and tea gave a silent fart which is why he smiled probably with embarrassment. He probably was also thinking about the creation of the universe as academics often discuss these questions over tea. It is then likely that Einstein associated God with himself and with his well known fertile mind, thought if God did not create the universe (without any choice in the matter) with a tremendous big fart called the Big Bang and that since it occurred in the vacuum of space there was no sound energy generated and was just as silent as Einstein’s own fart.

Obviously this story is meant to tickle people’s sense of humour in a perverted way and likely spread by the secularists. Whether this story actually happened in reality is anybody’s guess, but Einstein’s name has now being used in a silly joke as has God’s name. Whether Einstein appreciates the use of his name in this way is now out of his control. In time, people actually began to believe that Einstein actually said all these things. It has been built into the belief system by the secularists to make fun of God by using Einstein’s name.

Although this story is superficial and has no important consequence, it does illustrate how belief systems are built up. In a more serious way, it is believed that Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat cake” when starving rioters were at her palace gates demanding bread. Whether she actually said it or not is of no consequence anymore since it is now a famous folklore and has been built into the belief system of the capitalists. Even when historians recently claimed that she never actually uttered these famous words, it has not affected the folklore. Although this sounds also superficial to us these days, in the days when kings’ heads were rolling in the guillotine, it was no joke and was probably used by the capitalists to blacken the name of the royal family.

So it is that victors in a fight often add to the belief system because it supports their control and rule. So it is that belief systems have structure and logic of their own and serves the purposes of the people in power and is different from faith which is independent of logic and reason and serves only the person who holds that faith. This is true in religious belief systems as it is equally true in scientific belief systems or even political belief systems.

In Malaysia, UMNO has shown no inclination whatsoever to engage in a serious way in debate such that people of various religions and faiths can understand each other. Instead it has used the ISA and threats of violence and race riots to stop people from trying to understand each other.

PAS on the other hand has shown it can engage in a mutually respectful way with people of other faiths and religions. So although the language and terminology that PAS and UMNO use may sound the same, the ACTIONS are very different.

When one talks about belief systems, one talks about communities which hold on to these belief systems. In a community, there will be good people and bad people. Those who are positive will think that there are more good people than bad people. This is part of the belief system of the positivists.

Unfortunately when people argue about belief systems in a stupid way especially when they shout insults from across oceans through the internet, both good and bad people on the other side are insulted. This can only benefit UMNO as it feeds UMNO’s negativist belief system that people are essentially immature and must never be allowed to discuss anything serious about religion to the extent of justifying the use of ISA and threats of race and religious violence.

Luckily, most people with formal religious training have the “cool” and maturity to handle such debates seriously and professionally. It is the secularists and self-interested religionists with bloated egos that go around blasting at everyone. So now there is a need to treat different people differently, giving mature and intelligent people the respect they deserve and the super egos the treatment that THEY deserve, again always differentiating words from actions.

So I guess it is up to you whether you have faith in people or not, how you treat faith and beliefs – whether you wish to treat them as one and the same thing or to understand them as 2 different and separate concepts. I have absolutely no control except to engage in constructive and long term debate (if Malaysia Today continues to last for the long term and if they still generously wish to post my write-ups apart from other “ifs” and limitations.) as well as in very enjoyable cowboy style rough and tumble “slug fests” with other commenters in the comments section, just to expose the hypocrisy of some commenters who think nothing of insulting the belief systems of others but become hurt and angered by the cowboy style rough and tumble. heeheehee

Mahathir kicked Anwar out of UMNO, yes, but who will now kick UMNO out of Anwar?

By Haris Ibrahim,

On 5th November, last year, Malaysiakini carried the following report :
“Nahalan, a prominent leader in the east coast, took some time to explain his position at length on why he supports any proposed new party to be headed by Jeffrey.
“I received a call from Anwar Ibrahim last week asking me why I supported Jeffrey to be PKR state chief and not Thamrin,” disclosed Nahalan who is a Bajau-Suluk.
“I told him that Jeffrey was elected by the majority of division chiefs including my division. Besides, he’s the best leader we have in the opposition. It’s not true that he’s crazy about posts or likes to switch from party to party for no reason.”
Implied, but not stated specifically by Anwar during the hour-long telephone conversation, was that Nahalan should seriously think about supporting Thamrin on the basis of their common faith.
Apparently, Anwar was busy working the phones last week trying to persuade other Muslim division chiefs as well, including KadazanDusunMurut, to withdraw their support for Jeffrey to be the new state chief.
Muslim KadazanDusunMuruts come from the Orang Sungei along the Kinabatangan, Bisaya in the west coast and Ranau Dusun tribes in the high country.
Anwar’s willingness to ride roughshod over local sentiments in Sabah was the last straw for Nahalan. He said he realised that “Anwar has not changed since his Umno and Abim (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia) days and is very much a closet racist” .
10 days later, at a ‘meet the bloggers’ session hosted by Anwar at the Lake Club, I broached Anwar on this.
He assured me that there was no truth in this and that Nahalan had in fact sms’d Anwar to say that the Malaysiakini report was completely untrue.
Anwar, of course, was not to know that I had already been told by someone who was at the meeting on 6th November, 2009, in Kota Kinabalu, where Tian Chua met several of the PKR state leaders, including Nahalan, that the latter had reiterated the very same allegation to Tian Chua.
I thought then that I would let this pass.
What’s a little face-saving white lie from a politician?
To be expected, no?
I was in Kota Kinabalu end of last month for the ’1963 Re-visited : The Way Forward’ forum organised by the Borneo Heritage Foundation together with the Common Interest Group Malaysia.
This was an important forum and I will blog about it soon.
I’ll just tell you now that what I learnt at the forum was that just as BN screwed us Semenanjungites big time, they did the same to Sabahans  and Sarawakians.
Big, big time.
After the forum, I sat down to coffee with two PKR leaders from Sarawak.
The discussion, while wide-ranging, finally turned to Anwar and PKR.
“PKR, under Anwar, is UMNO by another name”, one of them said.
“Go and ask Anwar if he will deny that his plan is to keep the Dayaks divided so that the Muslims will continue to rule in Sarawak. How different, then, is PKR from UMNO? If he dares deny this, come back to me and I will give you proof”, the other offered.
I referred to what Nahalan had said last November and asked them what they thought.
“Anwar is more dangerous than that Perkasa fellow. That Perkasa fellow is openly a bloody racist. Anwar hides behind ketuanan rakyat. He is still on a Muslim agenda. Anwar is more dangerous”, one responded.
The other nodded in agreement.
Yesterday, I made a phone call to Sabah to get the inside story on the show cause notice to the 12 Sabah PKR leaders who had, late last year, during the height of the PKR Sabah leadership crisis, when Anwar had rejected Jeffrey to lead although the latter ostensibly commanded the confidence of the majority of Sabah PKR , filed an application with the registrar of societies to register a new party, Parti Cinta Sabah.
I am told that then, peace was finally brokered between PKR in KL and Sabah in that the ‘Jeffery’ faction would live with Anwar’s handpicked Thamrin until the party elections. The application to register the new party was to be withdrawn and PKR HQ and Sabah were to put this whole episode behind them and focus on making ready for the next elections.
Anwar has now reneged on this arrangement.
Anwar, Iam told, is now suggesting that at the time that peace was brokered, he and other party leaders were not aware that an application to register a new party had in fact been submitted, and were under the impression that such an application was merely being contemplated.
This, however, would plainly be an untruth if, as I am told, the condition set by the party HQ when the peace deal was being brokered was that the APPLICATION WAS TO BE WITHDRAWN.
This is no longer a mere face-saving white lie.
Why?
My Sabah source tells me it’s about killing two birds with one stone.
Jefffey Kitingan and Zaid Ibrahim.
All 12 divisional leaders are known Jeffery supporters.
Lynch the 12 at the disciplinary proceedings later today and Jeffery’s political jugular vein in the party might be severed, leaving the way open for Ansari, a known Anwar man, and his supporters.
Muslim factor again.
As for Zaid, my sources in PKR tell me that from the word go, Anwar has not been altogether comfortable with Zaid’s seemingly meteoric rise in the party.
Zaid’s become increasingly popular with the PKR grassroots in Sabah, many of whom have becoming increasingly disenchanted with Anwar’s UMNO-like centralised control of party politics at state level.
And notwithstanding Zaid having said he’s not looking to contest for any party post, Anwar and Azmin are not leaving it to chance.
After all, did not Anwar  say in 1993 that he would not challenge Ghafar Baba for the UMNO deputy presidency, and then went on to finish off Ghafar?
Everyone in the know in PKR is expecting that the Sodomy II trial will have only one conclusion, and very, very soon : conviction and imprisonment.
Assuming Wan Azizah hangs on to the presidency and Syed Husin holds to his word and does not offer himself, Anwar is looking to Azmin to seize the No.2 post and hold it to check Zaid’s ascension through the party.
Now I ask you, is not PKR beginning to more and more resemble UMNO?
In my ‘The end days of PKR in Sabah?’ post, I had posed three questions to Anwar. I reproduce the same here now.
First, how the *#@* did you ever dream of taking the federal government last September 16th, apparently counting on the support of Sabah and Sarawak when, it would seem, you haven’t a clue of how to win the hearts and minds of their locals, leaders or otherwise?
Second, is your ‘Ketuanan Rakyat’ any less sloganeering than Najib’s ’1Malaysia’? Is it from the heart or just skin deep?
Third, are you truly the changed man from your UMNO days, or are you now a closet Malay nationalist, because you see it as politically expedient?

“Syariah court has no legitimacy for non-Muslims”


Corrected 11.35am on 25 Aug 2010
ON 20 Aug 2010, a three-person bench of the Court of Appeal unanimously denied the application of S Kaliammal, the widow of Mount Everest climber M Moorthy, to determine her late husband’s religious status. Moorthy passed away on 20 Dec 2005 after entering into a coma. Just before his death, Kaliammal was informed he had converted to Islam. Upon his death, the Islamic religious authorities claimed Moorthy’s body for a Muslim burial after the syariah court issued an order declaring him Muslim.
Kaliammal has been fighting for the civil court to determine Moorthy’s religious status, saying he professed to be Hindu shortly before his death. In her judgment, however, Justice Datuk Zainun Ali said the syariah court was the competent authority to determine any matter relating to the conversion to, or renouncement of, Islam. She also said Kaliammal could apply to the syariah court to set aside the order declaring Moorthy a Muslim.
Is it just and reasonable to ask a non-Muslim to go to the syariah court to seek a remedy? The Nut Graph asks lawyer K Shanmuga, who represented Mohan Singh‘s family in a similar case, about the implications of this Court of Appeal decision.
TNG: What are your comments on the Court of Appeal’s decision that the religious authority of a particular religion is better placed to consider whether a person belongs to that religion?
K Shanmuga: Usually, what we are asking the court is to decide what religion a person professed and practised. This is different from what religion he or she is. What they professed involves what they told others about their beliefs and what they acknowledged themselves to be.
In Moorthy‘s case, for example, 11 days before he fell into a coma, he appeared on a TV3 interview explaining how he was going to celebrate Deepavali that year. This was raised in court. The issue is not whether he’s Hindu under Hindu law or Muslim under Islamic law. It’s a question of what he professed himself to be.
What are the effects of the Court of Appeal judgment on Kaliammal and others in a similar position?
Firstly, Kaliammal is denied access to justice. Basically, she’s been told the court cannot help her and can’t even hear her application. They apparently said she can go to the syariah court. But this overlooks the Federal Court decision in R Subashini‘s case, which categorically said non-Muslims cannot go to the syariah court even if they wanted to. The constitution has defined the syariah court’s limits and we cannot enlarge it. So Kaliammal now can’t go to any court for a remedy for this situation.
Financially, in Kalliamal’s case, some settlement was reached in terms of inheritance from Moorthy‘s estate. In most other cases, because the court refuses to hear them, the widow and family are totally disinherited. The entire estate will go to the state Islamic department under faraid because there would ordinarily be no Muslim relative. Or if the deceased has a new Muslim family, they will inherit over the non-Muslim family. The non-Muslim family’s entire financial security could be taken away from them by being denied access to court.
Shanmuga
Shanmuga
Justice Zainun said Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution places the determination of Moorthy’s religious status with the syariah court. The article states that the civil courts will have no jurisdiction over matters within the syariah court’s jurisdiction. Does that preclude the civil courts completely from deciding on matters such as Moorthy’s religious status?
The Federal Court decision in the Latifah Mat Zin case states that the civil court must examine the various state enactments on whether jurisdiction was given to the syariah court on a particular issue. In Moorthy’s case (which was in the Federal Territory), the Federal Territories legislation at the time did not give the syariah court jurisdiction to determine a Muslim’s religious status.
The Latifah Mat Zin case also states that even if the syariah court had jurisdiction to hear the matter, such as in Selangor after 2003, even then, all parties must be Muslim. If there was a contest between the Islamic department and a non-Muslim family, the syariah court cannot have jurisdiction. Both conditions must be satisfied – namely, the law must expressly grant the syariah court jurisdiction over the dispute, and everyone in the dispute must be Muslim.
(Copy corrected: comment removed because of editorial error)
Why can’t non-Muslims go to the syariah court for relief, as the Court of Appeal suggested to Kaliammal?
The reason why non-Muslims cannot go to the syariah court is simple. Syariah derives its legitimacy from theological law – the Quran and Hadith. This is legitimate for Muslims because they believe it’s the revealed word of God.
Non-Muslims don’t share that belief. We cannot ask non-Muslims to be judged according to a theological law they don’t believe in. Syariah has no legitimacy to them as non-Muslims.
The second point is the constitution just doesn’t allow for it. The courts can’t say, “Why don’t you go there?” That’s up to the people, through Parliament, to decide whether they want to amend the constitution. There are also problems of practicality and perception such as non-Muslim evidence carrying less weight in certain areas. But the basic fundamental reason is that syariah has no legitimacy for non-Muslims.
Article 121(1A) was meant to prevent Muslims who had their matters litigated in the syariah court from coming to the civil courts for a second bite at the cherry. It wasn’t meant to impose Islamic law on non-Muslims, which is the effect of the 20 August Court of Appeal decision.
What should the remedy be to ensure Kaliammal and others in her position have access to justice? Do the civil courts have to step up and assume their proper jurisdiction or must the law be amended?
I think because there have been so many cases and so much uncertainty, ideally, the law ought to be amended to make things clear. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduim, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) signed a 2007 Note of Protest setting out comprehensively what needs to be amended.
Effectively, they say Article 121(1A) can stay. But they suggest it may also be useful to say that the syariah court should not interfere where non-Muslim rights are affected.
It’s also important to make it clear that the determination of who is a Muslim should belong to that person. Provisions such as in Selangor, which give the syariah court jurisdiction to make that determination, should be removed. Definitions of who is a Muslim should also be removed.
Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex (Pic by Geoff-inOz | Wiki commons)
Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex (Pic by Geoff-inOz | Wiki commons)
At the moment, such definitions in state enactments go beyond the constitution, which says Islamic law applies to “persons professing the religion of Islam”. State enactments define it wider; for example, by stating that a person born to a Muslim or person who converts to Islam is a Muslim for all time.
The problem is the courts have made Article 121(1A) into something it was never intended to be. It was just intended for Muslims who have had their disputes litigated in the syariah courts and were dissatisfied, trying to get a second bite at the cherry in the civil courts. It was to stop that practice. It was not to suddenly create a dual judicial system, nor was it meant to impose Islamic law on non-Muslims, which is the effect of the Court of Appeal decision.
What is the biggest impact of the Court of Appeal’s decision on those such as Kaliammal?
The biggest impact for them is not legal. It’s the emotional trauma they go through that is the most horrible thing about it all. For Kaliammal, her husband had died, and all of a sudden, a big group of people descended on the hospital and took her husband’s body away. She wasn’t able to do prayers and cremate Moorthy’s body in the way she believes is necessary for his soul to achieve peace.
It’s the real human lives that are at stake.

Has Mahathir crossed the Rubicon to declare war on Najib, 1Malaysia and NEM?

Shock, outrage and consternation are understatements of the reactions to the latest outbursts by former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when he denounced the proponents of meritocracy as “racists too” and warned the Malay community that they risk losing political control of the country if they remain disunited.

It is not just the spectacle of the former longest-serving Prime Minister of Malaysia adding oil to the cauldron of the politics of race and religion but the repudiation of the Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia which he had proclaimed two decades ago.

In 1990, beginning his second decade as Prime Minister, Mahathir spelt out Vision 2020 to achieve in 30 years a fully developed Malaysian nation made up of one “Bangsa Malaysia” with a sense of common and shared destiny, distinguished by the pursuit of excellence, fully aware of all its potentials, psychologically subservient to none, and respected by the peoples of other nations.

In one fell stroke yesterday, Mahathir had backtracked and repudiated Vision 2020 and “Bangsa Malaysia” causing a whole generation of Malaysians nurtured on Vision 2020 and the concept of Bangsa Malaysia to feel cheated by a national leader who had been the country’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

Mahathir’s utterances yesterday have far-reaching implications than just his repudiation of the Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia concept he had advocated since 1990.

Has Mahathir crossed the Rubicon to declare war on his second successor as Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak after successfully forcing out the his first successor Tun Abdullah?

Is Najib and his 1Malaysia and New Economic Model (NEM) now the targets of his attack and demolition?

Mahathir had already publicly questioned Najib’s 1Malaysia policy and his utterances yesterday marked a throw-back to the irresponsible and dangerous politics of race and religion.

With his denunciation of meritocracy, Mahathir is rubbishing the NEM diagnosis and prescription to resolve the twin nation-building and economic crises confronting the country – especially the NEM recommendation on the imperative importance to recognize that “people are the most valuable assets in the era of globalization” and that for Malaysia to compete on a regional and global scale, Malaysia must “retain and attract talent” with Malaysia “seen by its people and others as a land of equal opportunity to earn a good living and provide a secure, happy life for each individual and the family”.

It is a sad commentary on Mahathir’s 22-year premiership that he has no confidence in the NEM proposal for a new affirmative action policy based on needs and merits, market-friendly, “consider all ethnic groups fairly and equally as long as they are in the low income 40% of the households”, eliminating rent-seeking and market-distorting features!

Instead, Mahathir has returned to the politics of race.

What next?

Many killed in China air crash

At least 43 people have died when a Chinese plane with 96 people onboard crashed in Heilongjiang province in the country's northeast.

State media said 53 people were rescued.

The Henan Airlines plane overshot the runway and caught fire when it was landing at 10:10pm local time [14:10 GMT] on Tuesday in Lindu airport of Yichun city, Xinhua said.

Al Jazeera's Harry Hawcett, reporting from China, said "local reports suggested that the plane broke up as it came down and passengers were thrown [out of] the two parts of the plane as it crashed."

"There was a fire which raged for an hour and half after this crash... It was a very bad fire."

State media said that the plane crashed about a kilometre from the runway in foggy weather.

The plane had taken off from Heilongjiang's capital of Harbin shortly before 9:00pm [13:00 GMT].

The aircraft was an E-190 jet manufactured by Embraer, the Brazilian aerospace conglomerate.

The last major passenger jet crash in China was in November 2004, when an China Eastern airplane plunged into a lake in northern China shortly, killing all 53 on board and two on the ground.

An MD-11 cargo plane operated by Zimbabwe-based Avient Aviation crashed during takeoff from Shanghai's main airport last November. Three American crew members died while four others on board were injured.

Teresa Kok: Steven's Corner owner lying

Key figures in Lingam-tape saga receive threats


(Malaysiakini) Three key figures linked to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam-tape incident today claim that they were recently threatened.
Lawyer VK Lingam's former secretary GN Jayanthi (left) claims that she had received several threatening text messages and is worried for her safety.
Her worries are compounded by the death of Lingam's brother V Rajendran after a brawl on Aug 7 and Lingam's driver D Ramachandran as a result of a car accident in May.
During a press conference at Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo Burne's office today, Jayanthi revealed that she had received seven such text messages on her phone which used lewd language.
One message read "You stupid. Fat as pig" while another "You are doomed for life".
According to the police report lodged on July 8, the message originated from a phone that had a United Kingdom prefix.
She claims that to date, there has been no word from the police.
GN jayanthi and Loh Gwo Burne press conferenceMP: Too many coincidences
Loh Gwo Burne press conference on lingam tapeJayanthi said that following the death of Rajendran and Ramachandra, she is worried that she may be "the next victim".

According to Loh, Lingam's younger brother V Thirunama Karasu has also received threats and is now in hiding.

Loh (left) also claims that he had received threats in May and his office had been broken into three times this year alone. He does not discount the possibility that all this was linked to the Lingam tape.

"There are too many coincidences. I don't rule out the possibilities, but I don't want to point fingers. Maybe it is political harassment. I am not sure," he said.

Loh added that after two "unnatural" deaths, he said that he along with Jayanthi and Thirunama were both possible targets.

He said that as an MP, he could not go into hiding unlike a civilian and urged the police to take action.

Jayanthi added that she might seek protection from the police.
Accused of improprieties
Loh, Thirunama, Rajendran and Jayanthi had all accused Lingam of improprieties following public outcry over a grainy video allegedly portraying the lawyer speaking about future judicial appointments which later were found to be astonishingly accurate.

Loh is the maker of the video while Thirunama claims that he used to perform odd jobs for Lingam, which he claims includes sending gifts to judges.

After Lingam had tried to discredit Thirunama, stating that he was mentally unsound, their younger brother Rajendran came out to defend him.

Jayanthi's role in the inquiry includes dropping a bombshell that she had stayed at Lingam's office between November and early December 1994 to draft a judgment which eventually became a landmark decision.

The case in question was Vincent Tan's defamation suit against veteran journalist MGG Pillai. The decision read out by High Court judge Mokhtar Sidin went in Tan's favour. Lingam was Tan's counsel during the case.

'Torturers' sought as witnesses in airman's trial

( Malaysiakini) Ex-airman N Tharmendran's lawyers have applied in the Shah Alam High Court to summon the two majors, who had allegedly tortured him, as witnesses.
azlanN Surendran, Tharmendran's lead counsel, said the application was made yesterday and they hope it will be heard in the High Court tomorrow.
“I will raise it (application) with the judge tomorrow, and hopefully it will be heard with our application to dispose of Tharmendran's case,” he said when contacted today.
Tharmendran had earlier claimed that he was tortured while being detained by military intelligence officers, in connection with the theft of two RMAF jet engines.
He is jointly charged with Rajandran Prasad Kusy with the theft of the engines at the air movement section of the Subang air force base some time in December 2007.
If found guilty under Section 380 of the Penal Code, he could be sentenced to 10 years' jail.
He faces a second charge of abetment under Section 109 of the Penal Code for collaborating with senior airman Mohamad Shukri Mohamad Yusop in the theft of the engines from the Sungai Besi airforce base.
Meanwhile, the Shah Alam High Court is expected to decide on his application to dispose of his case tomorrow morning.
Tharmendran's lawyers had in July filed an application to strike out his case on the grounds that it is an abuse of the court process and frivolous.

Malay students bully and assault Indian students. Zero police action.

malay 1 - Copy
This Sg. Petani incident where even the student’s mother’s dress was torn and a stove thrown at his sister is just the tip of the iceberg.
(See MO 24/8/10 at page 2 and MN 24/8/10 at page 10)
Karunai Nithi @ Compassionate Justice

malay 1 malay 2

France's Carrefour retreats from Malaysia: govt


KUALA LUMPUR : French retail giant Carrefour plans to sell its business in Malaysia, a minister said, amid speculation the firm will also offload its Singapore and Thai stores and exit Southeast Asia altogether.

"We heard that Carrefour is considering divesting. It is for the purpose of rationalisation of their overseas business," deputy trade minister Mukhriz Mahathir told AFP late Monday.

"They want to sell their business (in Malaysia)," he said, adding that "other hypermarkets are keen to take over" Carrefour's 23 stores in the country.

"There are many suitors," he said.

Low Ngai Yuen, Carrefour's marketing and communications director, declined to respond to the comments.

Yeah Kim Leng, group chief economist with financial research firm RAM Holdings, said Carrefour's impending departure from Southeast Asia had been well flagged.

"The news has been around for some time. It is an open secret that Carrefour wants to pull out from Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. They have put feelers out to the industry on their plan," he said.

Yeah said Carrefour wanted to consolidate its business and move its resources to the booming Indian market.

"It is not surprising for them to move to India. The middle class segment is a large expanding group," he said.

The New Straits Times newspaper last month reported that Carrefour had put a tag of 1.0 billion dollars collectively on its business in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Yeah said the growth of the hypermarket industry in Malaysia was not spectacular compared to the opportunities presented by the fast-growing Indian market but that it remained profitable.

"The hypermarket industry in Malaysia is dynamic and very competitive," he said.

"Given the growth potential in the region, we will likely see other players buying Carrefour. Players that exit will be able to find suitors."

Other players in the Malaysian market who are possible buyers of the Carrefour outlets include Britain's Tesco, Japan's Jusco, and Giant, which is owned by the Dairy Farm group. - AFP/fa