IPOH: A group claiming to be members of the Human Rights Party Malaysia failed on Sunday to hand over a memorandum seeking Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah’s intervention in issues pertaining to religious conversion.
Instead, the group was involved in a brief standoff with the police at the Impiana Hotel car park, just 300m away from Istana Kinta, resulting in one of them being arrested.
The party’s national information chief S. Jayathas said party members had planned to walk to the palace from its headquarters in First Garden but was advised against doing so by the police.
He said they were told that only one vehicle with four people would be allowed into the palace.
A smaller group led by pro-tem secretary-general P. Uthayakumar were already waiting at the hotel car park.
While ferrying Jayathas and one of three Muslim convert women who were supposed to hand over the memorandum to the palace, one member was dragged away in handcuffs after he defied orders to stop his vehicle.
The man, 53-year-old retired army sergeant M. Balakrishnan was also alleged to have hurled profanities against policemen when they tried to take away his car keys.
An argument ensued between the group’s leaders and the police over how many people would be allowed to enter the palace ground.
Thirty minutes later Ramesh and Uthayakumar announced that none of them would go to the palace if only four people were allowed in.
They instead left the memorandum on the bonnet of a police car after the police refused to hand it over to the palace on their behalf.
The group, together with Muslim converts S. Banggarma and Rajina Mohd Zaini@Krishnan, dispersed at about noon.
They then headed to the Ipoh district police headquarters to lodge a report against the police for alleged aggression and misuse of power.
Acting Ipoh OCPD Supt Ibrahim Abu Bakar said the group had never intended to hand over the memorandum and was merely seeking publicity.
“The police had given them more than an hour to hand it over and yet they came up with excuses after excuses not to.
“We have been very accommodating and patient,” he said, adding that the police would study the memorandum, which was left behind, but was unsure if it would be handed over to the palace after that.
Racial slurs and comments in schools can be overcome with fair, firm and transparent administration, according to an eminent educationist.
P Ramanathan, a former teacher and former president of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), the country's largest teachers' organisation, said racist remarks were nothing new as they were common among teachers and pupils and often practised by all ethic groups.
"This was usually a form of letting off steam due to unfairness in the way the school is administered.
"The use of double standards which favour certain groups also result in such remarks and comments. Some teachers and pupils are taken to task by the headmaster for certain activities while others who do similar mistakes are not punished.
"Things like this, which lead to frustration, result in such remarks," he told Bernama here today.
"However, the difference is that some say it loudly while many just whisper among their own racial groups," he said.
Ramanathan said that during his 35 years of teaching and active involvement in the NUTP, there were many such cases which were dealt with within the ambit of the school regulations.
"We never went to the media, and always settled them amicably among ourselves without much fuss," he added.
Ramanathan was commenting on the case of a school principal in Kulaijaya, Johor, who had allegedly used racist remarks on Aug 12.
He felt that transferring such teachers would not solve the problem because these teachers had their own grassroots support among the staff and students.
He said that from experience, he found that sometimes such transfers would cause more problems than they would solve.
He urged the ministry to carefully monitor school administrators to ensure professional handling of all the concerns of students, parents and teachers.
Parent-teacher associations should also assist in this important task, he said.
(Malaysiakini) Despite calls for a truce on the hudud issue, DAP has put its foot down again, reaffirming that Islamic laws, as well as the setting up of an Islamic state, are not on its cards.
National chairperson Karpal Singh has insisted that the two issues are not within the policy of Pakatan Rakyat as agreed upon by the DAP, PAS and PKR.
"What has been agreed upon should not be diverted from. Therefore, the question of reference of implementation of hudud and Islamic state to the people cannot arise," said the fiery veteran lawyer in a statement issued this afternoon.
"It is important for all parties in Pakatan to honour what has been agreed upon in the best interests of the coalition, and in the public interest," he added.
Karpal (left) was referring to statements made by PAS' Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad reported in an English daily yesterday, that he was confident that the other Pakatan parties would not stand in the way of hudud if this was the will of the people.
"We hold on to democratic principles and in the end, the implementation will be referred to the people. The rakyat will decide," Khalid was reported to have said in the New Straits Times.
To that, Karpal had his own thoughts on what 'democratic principles' are.
'Constitution guarantees secular state'
"Democratic principles require adherence to the federal constitution, which alludes to the social contract between the various races in the country, apart from being the supreme law of the land.
"This sacred document adverts to Malaysia being a secular state, and this in turn makes the constitutional guarantee a basic structure of the constitution.
"This basic structure, in my view, cannot be amended even by a two-thirds majority in Parliament," said Karpal.
While PAS has long pushed for hudud laws as "the best solution" to tackle crime, according to the party's spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat, DAP has been the traditional polar opposite, calling for secularism.
PAS committee member Dzulkefly Ahmad had called on the bickering Pakatan leaders toput a lid on the issue, but the PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has been non-committal where the PAS assertion is concerned.
Hudud, one of the strictest set of punishments accorded for under the Islamic Syariah law, is meant only for Muslims.
Examples of these laws are chopping off thieves' hands and stoning adulterers to death.
KUALA LUMPUR: Notorious animal smuggler “Lizard King” Anson Wong was arrested at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Thursday while he was on transit from Penang to Jakarta.
Wong, nicknamed “ Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade” after the Colombian drug lord, is said to be the biggest global animal dealer.
It is believed that Malaysia Airlines security staff, who had been alerted, detained him after a piece of his luggage was broken. Wong has been remanded until Tuesday.
Some 100 snakes were found in his luggage, including boa constrictors, two rhinoceros vipers and one matamata turtle.
Said to be one of the world's most-wanted smugglers of wild animals, Wong was sentenced to 71 months in jail in the US in 2000 after he pleaded guilty to trafficking charges.
Animal rights groups have demanded the resignations of Natural Resources and Environment Minister Douglas Uggah, and Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) top leaders.
However, Perhilitan, now in charge of investigations, has not commented on the incident, but sources said it is attempting to track Wong's network.
Malaysian Animal Rights Society president N Surendran blamed the ministry and Perhilitan for "allowing" Wong to continue his trade after he was jailed in the US.
"The minister... and all top level Perhilitan officers should resign en bloc," Surendran said.
"This is the biggest embarrassment to our country for allowing the biggest wildlife trafficker on earth to trade freely,” he said.
“Malaysia has allowed him to use Penang as a base and although reports were lodged with the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, nothing was done, " Surendran said, adding that while Wong was in prison, Perhilitan had allegedly renewed his licence to trade.
"He was allowed to continue trading when he came back. Besides, he was allowed to operate two private zoos which are nothing more than wildlife trafficking hubs," he said.
He said while the US had spent a lot of efforts in the the sting operation, the Perhilitan deputy director-general Misliah Mohamad Basir still signed his licence.
"People high up in Perhilitan are protecting Wong. Now that he has been arrested, we want the fullest force of the law used against him. This man should be put behind bars, he is a danger to international wildlife," Surendran said.
Petpositive president Anthony Thanasayan said he agreed that Douglas and Perhilitan officers should resign.
"Perhilitan is supposed to protect the animals. But why did it allow Wong to continue his animal trade after he was convicted? Perhilitan knew it was dealing with another 'dangerous animal' here," he said.
"Perhilitan officials are just as guilty because they supported him instead of stopping him. They clearly thought they could get away with it. They are not fit to be in those positions, and we should clean Perhilitan up," Anthony said.
He added that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had recently adopted a cat and pronounced that he was an animal lover, and so "it's time all these politicians stop talking and show their love".
Malaysian Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan also took a swipe at Perhilitan.
"Perhilitan is being suspiciously quiet about this. What it did is like letting a serial rapist work in an all-girls school,” she said.