(Harakahdaily) - Kunjungan dan ucapan anggota Parlimen Serdang, Teo Nie Ching telah menyebabkan Umno dan penguasa agama di Selangor melenting tetapi bagaimana reaksi mereka kalau melihat Adun PAS pergi melawat kuil Hindu dan berucap di sana.
Baru-baru ini, Adun PAS dari Meru, Dr Rani Othman telah melawat Kuil Hindu Bukit Rajah dan bercakap kepada para penganut agama itu yang sedang membuat ibadat.
Melalui blognya, Dr Rani menulis, beliau mengunjungi kuil di Bukit Rajah dan mengambil kesempatan untuk memberikan gambaran sebenar tentang tasawwur dan keadilan Islam kepada masyarakat India yang berada di situ.
"Sejarah membuktikan walaupun 12 kurun Islam menguasai negara Palestin contohnya, tetapi tidak ada seorang pun dari penganut agama Kristian dan Yahudi yang di paksa untuk menganut agama Islam sepanjang pemerintahan itu melainkan ramai dari mereka yang menganut agama Islam adalah dari kerelaan hati mereka sendiri apabila mereka dapat melihat sendiri keadilan dan akhlaq yang tinggi dikalangan orang-orang Islam," tulis beliau dalam blog Khidmat Meru itu.
Mahathir: Everyone is thinking about his own race. If I am included it is because I think it is dangerous for the rich to take away what little the poor have.
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad predicted today that there would be an escalation in racial tension and division should NEP-style policies be removed, likening the situation to the Communist revolution in Europe.
He stressed that the time was not right to introduce any policy which would “disregard the disparities between races in the interest of equity and merit.”
“Take away the minor protection afforded by the NEP and the bumis will lose whatever that they may have. Then racial division will be deepened by wealth division. I don’t think this would be good for the country. Remember it was the disparity between rich and poor in Europe which led to the violence of the Communist revolution.
“I may be labelled a racist but fear of the label will not stop me from working for what I think is the good of the country. Nothing will be gained by dividing the people of Malaysia into poor Bumis and rich non-Bumis. The time is not right for disregarding the disparities between the races in the interest of equity and merit,” said Dr Mahathir in a posting on his blog today.
The former PM continued his stout defence of the pro-Bumiputera New Economic Policy (NEP) style policies in his blog post, by suggesting an indefinite continuation of affirmative action programmes.
The former prime minister admitted today that he was “not proud” of the NEP which accorded protection to the Bumiputeras, but stressed that such protection was still necessary and that a 20 year-timeline was not enough for Malays to be economically on par with other races.
Malaysia’s NEP, put in place in 1971, officially ended in 1990, but many of its programmes are still being continued. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said he plans to remove subsidies and many of the pro-Bumiputera quotas under economic reforms. But Dr Mahathir and many Malay groups are opposed to the removal of quotas and equity targets, despite evidence suggesting Malaysia is being handicapped economically and is less competitive globally as a result of such policies.
“I am not proud of the protection afforded the Bumiputeras. It implies weakness. I don’t think Malays and other Bumiputeras like to think that they are inferior in any way.
“But the reality is that in Malaysia the Bumiputeras need new skills and a new culture even. These cannot be had by them in a mere 20 years. The original planners of the NEP were too optimistic,” said Dr Mahathir in a blog posting today although he did not provide or suggest a time frame in which the NEP would no longer be needed.
Using education as an example, Dr Mahathir lashed out at critics who have attacked the government for maintaining a 60 per cent quota for Bumiputeras in local universities.
The former PM said that if the current Bumiputera quota in public universities was reduced, more Bumiputeras should be then allowed to enter private universities which he claimed only consisted of 10 per cent Bumiputeras.
“Even the 10 per cent Bumis are there because of scholarships by MARA. Take the scholarships away and there would be practically none.
“Why is it that the focus is only on what is done by the government? If the Bumis in government universities should be reduced, then the Bumis in the private universities should be increased. Or else meritocracy would reduce the number of Bumiputeras getting university education. Or is it the intention to deny Bumis higher education? They are not the best but they are qualified,” said Dr Mahathir.
The outspoken politician claimed that there were more non-Bumiputeras in foreign universities than local universities because Bumiputeras still could not afford to pay for private tertiary education, and cautioned that this would inevitably result in the Bumiputeras lagging behind in education.
“Because they can afford it there are more non-Bumis than Bumis in foreign universities. This must increase the disparities in higher education between different races,” he said.
Dr Mahathir has been increasingly vocal in speaking out against the New Economic Model (NEM) introduced by Najib, saying that affirmative action must still be carried out, signaling fears that Malays and Bumiputeras would stand lose out the most if the administration were to implement a hundred percent meritocracy-based system.
The former prime minister revealed last week that he had written to the prime minister to offer his advice and let him know what he thought of the New Economic Model (NEM).
However, Dr Mahathir said he did not expect Najib to consider his recommendations.
Citing another case, the veteran politician alleged that even with the existing Bumiputera quotas in government contracts, there was still no guarantee that the contracts would actually be awarded to Bumiputeras.
“As for contracts even with the 5 per cent advantage given to Bumi contractors, many of the Government contracts do not go to them because of their lack of capacity. Even if they do get, non-Bumi contractors get most of the sub-contracts etc.
“Actually construction by the private sector is bigger than the public sector. In the private sector the Bumi contractors get next to nothing. I suppose this is because the private contracts are given based on merit. Or maybe it is not. I don’t know,” said the former Prime Minister.
In justifying his arguments, Dr Mahathir said that during his tenure as Prime Minister and under the implementation of the NEP, Malaysia enjoyed stability and good economic growth.
He noted that despite increased talks about “meritocracy,” the races in the country are more divided today than ever before.
“For 46 years this country enjoyed relative stability and consequently good growth. But today the races are more divided than ever. Everyone has become racist, talks about meritocracy notwithstanding. Everyone is thinking about his own race. If I am included it is because I think it is dangerous for the rich to take away what little the poor has,” added Dr Mahathir.
Dr Mahathir has appeared to be highly critical of Najib and Umno in recent remarks, suggesting recently that the ruling party was weak and mismanaged.
The feisty ex-premier had also mocked proponents of meritocracy last week, calling them racist and decried Malays who supported meritocracy as having misplaced pride.
His comments come after recent remarks by top Malaysian banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak — the CIMB group chief executive and the brother of the PM — who said that the NEP had been “bastardised.”
Nazir has been pushing for reforms while Dr Mahathir has been putting his weight behind right wing Malay groups such as Perkasa, who believe Bumiputera quotas were a “right” of the Malays.
Dr Mahathir has also denied that the NEP had been an obstacle to the country’s development.
He has also mocked proponents of meritocracy, calling them “meritocrats” who are pushing for dominance by one race in all aspects of the country.
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Former Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin advised Muslims today not to use the non-Muslims in mosques issue to win political points.
Asri said such an action would only tarnish Islam’s image.
“The issue was started by politicians. But in their attempt to attack their opponents, do not misinterpret Islamic teachings,” said Asri in his latest blog entry.
“If we want to refuse them entry, that is another matter,” he added.
However Asri said declaring a total ban on non-Muslims to enter mosque would cause misunderstandings.
“The Prophet had received (non-Muslims) representatives in a mosque, how can they be banned from entering the mosque today,” he added.
Asri admitted that Muslim scholars did not have a consensus on non-Muslims visiting mosques but the majority believed that it was encouraged.
“Majority of Islamic jurists including those who belong to the Shafie school of thought were of the opinion that non-Muslims are allowed to enter mosques if there is a need for it,” he said.
“In a multireligious country like ours, the view was not only strong but it also helps in Islamic missionary work,” added Asri.
Citing Prophet Mohamad’s practice and a decree by the Saudi Arabia government, Asri said mosques’ functions should be expanded to become information centres for non-Muslims.
“The mosque should disseminate information on Islam to everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims,” said Asri.
Asri said the move to ban non-Muslims from entering mosques would further distance the community from Islam.
“There are already too many Taliban-like fatwas in the country that have made Muslims to turn against non-Muslims and now the space to introduce them Islam has been closed,” said Asri.
“The mosque is portrayed as hostile and they are not allowed to come close. But at the same time non-Muslims are inviting Muslims to their places of worship,” he added.
“In the end we only perpetuate the animosity and would fail to put a stop to suspicions against this beautiful religion. Which direction are we taking Islam to?” asked Asri.
Asri said that he was worried that the political competition would result in misinterpretation of Islamic teachings.
“Political consideration and assessment in Islam based on knowledge methodology are two different things,” he said.
“Truth in Islam is colour blind and non-partisan. It does not matter where it comes from and in whose favour,” added Asri.
Malay rights group Perkasa has demanded that syariah laws be created to ban non-Muslims from entering mosques and suraus.
The group’s call comes in the wake of controversy surrounding Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching, following reports that she had entered the Surau Al-Huda in her Kajang constituency, during a visit there to deliver aid to the surau.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders including PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat had defended Teo over her mosque visit.
Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali also accused Nik Aziz of failure to defend Islamic principles by backing Teo.
Another PR lawmaker William Leong has also come under fire from Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia for visiting a mosque in his parliamentary constituency, Selayang. - The Malaysian Insider
(Malaysiakini) The Human Rights Party Malaysia's (HRP) bid to submit a memorandum to the Perak Sultan over the two Perak women involved in conversion cases was foiled today after a run-in with the police, resulting in one party member arrested.
The party had collected 5,000 signatures supporting the memorandum to Sultan Azlan Shah, highlighting the plight of S Banggarma from Tanjong Piandang and M Indira Gandhi from Ipoh - both involved in highly-publicised conversion cases - and appealing for royal intervention.
Officials at the Istana Kinta, Ipoh had instructed the police to only allow four representatives from the group to enter the palace to summit the two-paged memorandum.
However, HRP leaders party pro-tem secretary general P Uthayakumar, party national information chief S Jayathas and state party chief P Ramesh insisted on seven representatives.
When negotiations with the police came to a stalemate, the group requested palace officials to come out and receive the document.
As a last resort, HRP leaders urged the police to hand over the document to palace officials on their behalf. This too failed.
The unhappy HRP members decided to leave the file containing the documents on the bonnet of a police car parked outside the gates.
HRP member arrested
At this juncture, a police officer pushed the document off the car and onto the road, angering the HRP leaders.
They demanded acting Ipoh districts police chief Ibrahim Abu Bakar who was present to arrest and prosecute the officer for allegedly insulting the Sultan, but no action was taken.
Along the way HRP member K Balakrishnan, 53, was also arrested for allegedly verbally abusing the police.
The party then lodged a police report against the said officer at the Ipoh headquarters.
Ibrahim later told the media that he had received orders from the palace to only allow four representatives into the grounds.
He also defended his refusal to take action against the officer who had pushed the file off the vehicle saying he did not witness the act.
The acting chief clarified that Balakrishnan (right) was arrested for using vulgarities against police personnel.
Balakrishnan's wife V Shanti, who was with him at the time of the incident, has denied the allegation and has also lodged a police report at the Ipoh headquarters against the allegedly unlawful arrest of her husband.
Cat and mouse game
Banggarma was present at the scene, along with two other women whom HRP have been trying to assist, Rani (Jamillah Abdul Kadir) from Malacca and Regina Mohd Zaini from Johor, while Indira was absent.
Earlier in the morning, it was a cat and mouse game between HRP members and the police as they tried to start a convoy of cars from the party's newly opened Buntong office at First Garden, Ipoh to the Istana to hand over the memorandum.
A heavy show of force from the police, with at least twelve patrol cars and two truck ferrying riot police descending on the headquarter's vicinity, forced the party to relocate their convoy.
The HRP members relocated to Hotel Impiana nearer to the palace, with the police hot on their heels.
The four women are seeking royal intervention in their respective cases for freedom of religion.
In particular, Banggarma had her application to nullify her conversion to Islam turned down on Aug 4 at the Penang High Court.
Resolved to continue her Hindu practice regardless, she participated in the annual fire walking ceremony at the Sri Muthu Mariamman Kovil temple in Parit Buntar two weeks ago.
FMT ALERT KUALA LUMPUR:The Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu (GAS) appears to be on a mission to rid the nation of all leaders who overstay in office.
After turning the heat down on S Samy Vellu, GAS is now turning the heat up on Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Likening him to the MIC president, GAS coordinator V Mugilan said like Samy Vellu, Taib had held on to the post for too long.
“It's not that I want to interfere in Sarawak politics, but times are changing and leadership change is inevitable,” he said, adding that Sarawakians themselves are calling for change.
KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president S Samy Vellu has called on the people to march ahead in building a new and dynamic Malaysia where every citizen can have a share and a more meaningful role in the nation’s development.
“We must build a nation that will be stronger and prosperous for all citizens,” he said in his message in conjunction with Malaysia’s 53rd Independence Day on Tuesday.
He said for the country to prosper and achieve the developed nation status by 2020, there must be equal partnership between the people in moving the economy forward.
“Let us deepen our understanding of each other, and strive to build a society that respects one another,” he said.
Samy Vellu said there should be greater cooperation among the various races in the economic and political spheres for the nation to compete and attain a developed status.
“After 53 years of independence, the time has come for us to resolve whatever challenges as one people.
“Our Prime Minister has laid the foundation for a one nation through the 1Malaysia concept. We must seize this opportunity and move ahead so that our nation can progress,” he said.
MIC vice-president Dr S Subramaniam said the 1Malaysia concept was not just a tagline but must be practiced by all Malaysians.
“Solidarity is extremely vital for our nation to continue to prosper and remain stable. We are still relatively a young nation, but we have set a target of achieving a developed nation status by 2020, and to achieve this noble mission, we have to embark on the transformational process,” said the Human Resources Minister.
Subramaniam said the government has embarked on several new initiatives in 2010 that would address the importance of a high quality human capital and developing and retaining best talents thorough the New Model for the Economy and the 10th Malaysia Plan.
“Achieving a high income economy status is to ensure a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce as the cutting edge of the nation’s competitiveness. Let us work together for the betterment of the nation,” he said.
Shrugging off attacks by Umno and Selangor religious authorities over her visit to a surau last week, Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching says she is emboldened to visit even more Muslim houses of worship after being encouraged to do so by PAS' Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.
According to a Harakahdaily report, Teo said her 20-minute meeting with the top spiritual leader of the Islamist party today bore fruit in the form of his assurance that there was nothing wrong with non-Muslims visiting and entering suraus and mosques.
“Tok Guru (Nik Aziz) clarified to me that from the viewpoint of Islam, it is not an issue for a non-Muslim to enter a surau or masjid.
“He said that in fact, during the time of Muhammad, non-Muslims entered the mosque (of Medina) to meet with the Prophet,” she said about the meeting with Nik Aziz in Kuala Lumpur following the filing of the Kelantan government's suit against Petronas.
The first-term MP drew a firestorm of criticism from Umno politicians, pro-Umno blogs and Malay dailies over her visit to the Al Huda surau in Serdang on Aug 22.
Her critics claimed that she had committed a grave insult to Muslims for speaking in the prayer hall, which is considered off-limits to non-Muslims.
The Selangor Religious Council said it will issue Teo a written reprimand, while Teo said she plans to write to the Selangor Sultan to apologise and explain her action.
After speaking to Nik Aziz today, however, Teo said she was told it was Umno - not Islam - that was being overly-restrictive on the issue of non-Muslims entering mosques.
According to her, Nik Aziz said Umno had become so desperate and narrow-minded that the party had given the wrong understanding of Islam to non-Muslims.
“He also told me that in Malaysia, Umno uses Islam to scare non-Muslims and has made Islam an exclusive religion, whereas Islam is for all human beings,” said Teo.
Teo said she will continue visiting mosques and suraus when invited. The parliamentarian yesterday visited the Al-Muhajirin surau in Bukit Mahkota, where she also handed RM500 to People Volunteer Corps (Rela) personnel.
Unlike her visit last week, Teo wore a head scarf and a loose-fitting baju kurung to avoid a repeat of accusations that she was disrespecting Muslim norms in suraus and mosques.
“I will still carry out my duties as member of parliament when invited. Since the (Aug 22) incident was blown out of proportion, I have received support from the people,” said Teo.
When contacted, Teo said further that Nik Aziz expressed hopes that mosques could become more approachable for both Muslims and non-Muslims in order to bridge the gap between the races.
Asked about whether Nik Aziz had mentioned the matter of proper dressing, Teo said Nik Aziz assured her “as long as the dress is proper... it is enough.”
Asked whether the headscarf is compulsory for her to wear, Teo said: “Nik Aziz told me 'it's okay. But if you wear it, that would be better.”
Afghan National Army soldiers stand guard near the body
of a suicide attacker in Khost province on August 28.
(CNN) -- Afghan and coalition soldiers killed more than 30 insurgents, including 13 would-be suicide bombers, as they fought off assaults on two military bases and government buildings in eastern Afghanistan, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Sunday.
The attacks, which happened Saturday morning, were led by Haqqani network insurgents and were against Forward Operating Base Salerno and Forward Operating Base Chapman, ISAF said. Both bases are located in Khost province, a volatile region on Afghanistan's rugged border with Pakistan.
The Haqqani network is a militant group with ties to al Qaeda.
Insurgents clad in U.S. military uniforms and wielding rocket-propelled grenades and small arms launched simultaneous attacks on the two bases, ISAF said. ISAF had previously reported more than 20 insurgents had died in the fighting.
Thirteen of the insurgents killed were wearing suicide vests, ISAF said, adding that Afghan and coalition soldiers followed up on intelligence tips and later captured a commander involved in planning the attacks.
"The insurgents' attempts to attack ISAF or Afghan government facilities were defeated again. The insurgent leadership who direct these ill-conceived attacks far from the actual battlefield knows their low-level fighters have no chance of success against these targets," Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, an ISAF spokesman, said in a statement.
Separately on Sunday, ISAF said Afghan and international forces captured a senior Taliban commander in Logar province. Zia Ul-Haq is accused of helping foreign fighters and suicide bombers get into the capital, Kabul.
He was captured along with a sub-commander and another insurgent on Wednesday, ISAF said in a statement.
Chapman is the same base where a suicide bomber killed seven CIA officers late last year.
Is the Religious authorities going to issue a stern WARNING to Rosmah Mansor, wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, and certain Puteri UMNO members, who are MUSLIM and who should knows its rules, for not covering themselves as required by Islam.
The pictures above clearly warrants a WARNING.
WHAT DO YOU SAY!!!!!!
Rosmah at a mosque
Rosmah Mansor with female UMNO members in a mosque
PUTERI UMNO INVOLVEMENT
Puteri UMNO member reciting the HOLY QURAN without covering her body as required by Islam
Puteri UMNO members not using headscarf in the Mosque similarily like MP for Serdang Teo Nie Ching
IS PUTERI UMNO MEMBERS EXEMPTED FOR OBSERVING ISLAMIC RULES???
THIS IS A HOLY MONTH OF RAMADHAN AND WE SHOULD ALWAYS DO GOOD DEEDS AND NOT CREATE A RELIGIOUS CONTROVERSY.
KOTA BAHRU: Censuring Umno for stoking intolerance, PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat declared that there is nothing wrong in non-Muslims entering a mosque and that it was definitely not against Islam. He said inviting non-believers into mosques was one of the ways Nabi Muhamad had used to spread Islamic teachings.
“If we return to history and Islamic civilisation, you will find that many of the Arab Quarasy citizens who were non-believers visited Nabi (Muhamad).
“Nabi (Muhamad) kept them in the mosque. They slept in the mosque, ate in the mosque and even urinated in the mosque!” he told newsmen.
Nik Aziz said this in response to the recent controversy involving Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching who had made an unofficial visit to the Al Huda surau in Kajang last Sunday.
He attributed such intolerance to poor understanding of Islam and the Islamic civilisation.
"This issue is polemic in society because it is tainted by political sentiments which have desecrated the purity of Islam,” he said.
He attributed such intolerance to poor understanding of Islam and the Islamic civilisation.
“Our relationship with Islam is getting further and further, there is no learning anymore, as such these issue continue to arise.
“Such polemics will only push non-Muslims further away from Islam. This is directly against Nabi Muhamad’s teachings.
“Non-Muslims can enter the mosque... They can ceramah or do whatever… there is no problem. Barring non-Muslims from entering the mosque is our culture certainly not taught by Nabi (Muhamad),” Nik Aziz said.
Three groups of people
According to Nik Aziz, people were classified into three groups – the new believers, the non believers but who are likely to embrace Islam and the those who do not believe in Islam but respect the religion.
“However knowing that there are three groups of people, we are only interested in one group.
"The other two we have chosen to abandon because our society is drifting further and further away from the non-Muslims,” he said.
On Saturday, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad urged Muslims to be more discerning and to separate customs from religious laws, particularly involving punishment.
He also advised Muslims not to be tied down to traditional elements and practices and urged them instead to adhere to the Islamic civilisation which dated back to the time of Rasullullah.
By Rahmah Ghazali FULL REPORT KUALA LUMPUR: With the abundance of oil it possesses, Petronas could burn in the hereafter for a long time. To avoid such a fiery fate, Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said it should pay his state the royalty it deserved.
The PAS spiritual leader issued the dire warning after filing a suit against the national oil and gas company over its refusal to pay oil royalty despite operating an oil platform off the state’s shores.
“We don’t want our rights to be taken away. If they do not pay now, they will need to pay in the hereafter. But before they get punished in the hereafter, it is better for them to pay now,” he said.
Nik Aziz filed the suit through his lawyer Tommy Thomas at the High Court here this morning. However, it did not state the amount being claimed.
About 100 supporters waited the court since 8am. The suit was filed at 9.25am.
Kelantan Deputy Menteri Besar Ahmad Yaakob, state exco Husam Musa and PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar were also present.
Following this, the leaders went to Masjid Wilayah Perseketuan for solat hajat (a special prayer to ask for God’s forgiveness, guidance and assistance).
Although the federal government had given “compassionate fund” in lieu of oil royalty, the state government refused to recognise it, arguing that it was entitled to oil royalty as stated in the Petroleum Development Act 1974.
In the 47-page suit, it claimed that Petronas had wrongfully, in total failure of consideration and in breach of the Act, the Kelantan Petroleum Agreement and Kelantan Grant, failed and/or refused to make cash payments to the Kelantan state government for petroleum won and obtained off-shore Kelantan.
It also said that despite failing to make the said cash payments, Petronas wrongfully continued to win and obtain petroleum offshore Kelantan, that was, without paying for them.
'We could be entitled to RM1.7 bil per year'
At a press conference later, Husam, who is also chairman of the oil royalty claim committee, said that the state was entitled to 5% of oil royalty per year.
In calculation, for example, Husam said that one of the four compartments offshore of Kelantan which overlaps with Thailand, produces 10 million barrels of oil a month.
This, he said, would amount to US$8.5 billion per year and Kelantan was entitled to RM1.7 billion if the 5% royalty was taken into account.
“This is such a huge amount because oil production began in 2005. Petronas paid oil royalty to (neighbouring)Terengganu for 18 years, (but not to us),” he said.
Husam also said that the suit was the “last resort”.
“We tried to arrange meetings (with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Petronas), and we came out with strong statements that Kelantan is entitled to oil royalty in accordance with the Act (but to no avail).
“This was even supported by (Umno veteran leader and former finance minister) Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as the first Petronas chairman who had signed the agreement,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nik Aziz said the state government’s entitlement (harta) must be upheld and respected.
In the suit, the Kelantan government also sought the following relief against Petronas:
1. Specific performance of the Kelantan Petroleum Agreement
2. An account be taken or an inquiry be ordered requiring Petronas to make full and truthful disclosure of all relevant facts relating to the cash payments payable to Kelantan, including:
The period which petroleum has been produced, won or obtained off-shore Kelantan.
The areas/blocks from which petroleum was won and obtained; and
The amounts of cash payments so payable to Kelantan.
3. An order that all arrears of cash payments so accounted, be paid to Kelantan within one month of an order of court.
4. An order that all future cash payments be paid to Kelantan by Petronas for petroleum produced off-shore Kelantan in accordance with the terms of the PDA and the Kelantan Petroleum Agreement.
FMT INTERVIEW KUALA LUMPUR:A few weeks ago, a four-year-old girl was reported to have been molested by a man ten times older than she. The culprit was supposed to be taking care of her in her mother’s absence.
Malaysians have become familiar with stories of this kind in recent years; they no longer shock us as much as they used to.
Although no official statistics have been released, the claims by researchers and social workers are nevertheless staggering: it is estimated that one in every four Malaysians has been the victim of child sexual abuse.
Although the problem has been much exposed and discussed, many people still think of child sex offenders as dirty, suspicious-looking strangers.
Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Protect and Save the Children (PSC), a Malaysian NGO. It says nine of every ten child sex offenders are not only known, but also trusted and even loved by the victims.
In this first of a three-part interview, Nooreen Preusser, PSC's Training and Education Director, talks to FMT about what Malaysians know about child sex abuse, and why putting more locks on your doors won't work.
FMT: What do Malaysians know when it comes to child sexual abuse?
Nooreen: Very few would say that there is no child sexual abuse in Malaysia. It may have a lot to do with the all these cases reported in the media in recent months. There has been an escalation in the reporting of these cases. But even without the publicity, many people know of survivors of such abuse or are survivors themselves.
But do people understand what child sexual abuse is? They understand some of the details, but I think there needs to be a more in-depth understanding of it. A lot of people think they can teach their children about stranger-danger and get security guards and more padlocks or bars, and they somehow think all that will protect children.
What we say is that in almost nine out of ten child sexual abuse cases, the child knows, trusts and maybe even loves the offender.
Almost nine out of ten?
Yes. And what we try to tell adults is the need to understand the dynamics of it. One of the critical elements of child sexual abuse is what we call the grooming process.
There are very distinct stages in this process. First, the sex offender will go to where there are children—shopping malls, schools and such places.
The offender will then try to gain the trust of the adults who should be protecting the child. He may be helpful, friendly, charming and well-dressed. This breaks the villain stereotype of the greasy-haired, alcoholic, drug addict living under the bridge.
After the offender sees the children, he’ll pick out the most vulnerable child, or one with low self-esteem, a child who won't not be able to say no, who may not be believed by adults, so that when he complains, the adults dismiss it as a made-up story.
Then the offender starts to touch the child in a perfectly legitimate way. It could be a pat on the back, or a hug. This would be done openly, and in front of adults. This gets the child used to physical touch.
The child is then touched in private. The child will think, “Uncle did this in front of everyone, and it was fine. Now he's doing it in private, it’s okay.”
Then there will be sexual touch. By now, the child is desensitized, and the offender will justify the sexual touch with lies, such as “I love you, that's why I'm doing this” or “It's only people who love each other in a special way who do this sort of thing.”
Wouldn't the children feel strange?
Of course. They feel weird, and uncomfortable. Deep down they know it's wrong. But they've never been taught it’s wrong, and this person they love is saying, “If you love me, you'll have oral sex.”
Imagine a twelve-year-old girl who goes to tuition, and she's groomed by the teacher sexually. One day the teacher inserts his finger into her vagina. How does she feel?
She thinks: “My parents know and trust him. I trust him, but what has he done to me today?”
She will feel violated, but who can she tell? Maybe her mother has told her, “We don't talk about this. This is not polite conversation.”
But that's more of a cultural thing, isn't it? Asians tend to be more conservative.
Yes, but culture is not an excuse for allowing this to happen. The Malay translation for private parts is “bahagian kemaluan” or “my shameful parts”. So she thinks, “My private parts are shameful. They are not to be discussed.”
Our twelve-year-old can't tell anyone and is sent back to her teacher next week. Even if she doesn't want to go, her parents will say, “You know how much money I'm paying? You better go.”
She goes back to the sex offender, and he says, “Aha! You came back, so you liked it after all. Let's do it again.” He has just manipulated the situation to make the child believe that she agreed to this and that she wanted to come back. Then start the feelings of guilt and shame.
Unfortunately, we've had many instances where parents have told us about teachers who did this sort of thing to their children. Asked what they did after finding out, they say, “We fired him and got a new one.”
They didn't file a report. So what happened to the sex offender? He just went somewhere else, and is now probably abusing other kids.
What creates a sex offender?
The easiest answer is someone who was abused as a child. You find a lot of children who are sex offenders. You could have fourteen-year-olds abusing eight-year-olds.
When you've got that scenario, you can be almost sure that the former were themselves sexually abused at the age of eight. What such a child is trying to do is make sense of the experience.
It can also spiral into adulthood, so you’d have adults who abuse children who are at the same age that he or she was abused at. If someone was abused at twelve, he’s going to abuse twelve-year-olds.
But that is not the majority, because most sexually-abused people do not become sex offenders. Sex abuse is more about power and control than it is about sex.
A sex offender exerts power over a child. He tricks, forces or coerces the child.
But wouldn't there be other means to exert that power? Not in a sexual way.
They could also beat or manipulate the child.
Are they attracted to children?
Not always. This is another myth that’s been reinforced by the media. The media tend to use the word “pedophile” and “sex offender” interchangeably. That’s not correct. A pedophile has a condition that makes him exclusively attracted to pre-pubescent children.
But that’s a minority.
The majority of offenders are or have been in normal sexual relationships, but they want sex with children because it's their way of degrading or hurting children. But why do they choose sex? If you beat a child, there’ll be bruises. If you force a child to perform oral sex, there are no bruises.
What about penetration?
People think child sexual abuse is only about penetration, or rape and sodomy. That is another myth. A lot of it is oral sex, or forcing the child to fondle the sex offender. Or the offender can remove a child's clothes before taking a photo.
Why do offenders do this? Do they feel unaccomplished in life?
It could be. There are very powerful CEOs who sexually abuse children. They think that since they can't control their workplace, they can control a child. There are a lot of psychological impulses as to why someone would do something like that.
The frightening thing is that it's so prevalent in society. There are no published statistics in Malaysia, but from our work, we can guesstimate that it's one in four children. We would like to encourage the relevant ministries in the country to take this up.
SPECIAL REPORT ON KL Cheras is one of those nondescript townships with an unexpectedly entertaining past. It boasts hosting the 1995 SEA Games, housing the longest night market in Malaysia and Pheonix Plaza, which was opened by film star Jackie Chan. Adding to these colourful characteristics is its MP Tan Kok Wai.
Tan, who is currently serving his fourth consecutive terms in Cheras, is known for his fearlessness and no-nonsense approach to dealing with the government. So it isn't at all surprising that he is proposing that the Ministry of Federal Territories and Urban Well-being be abolished.
“We don't need a ministry when its powers overlap with that of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL),” he said matter-of-factly. “DBKL has been institutionalised since 1972 while Putrajaya and Labuan have thir respective development boards. The ministry is unnecessary, especially when its interventions are laced with political interest.”
“Without the ministry, the mayor (Ahmad Fuad Ismail) will be able to report directly to the Prime Minister (Najib Tun Razak). As long as there is a Minister in the Prime Minister's Department to take care of KL, there is nothing to fear. The minister will reply to parliamentary queries while the mayor will address queries at the local level.”
Without missing a beat, he went on to call for the revival of local government elections which he promised Pakatan Rakyat would do if it came into power.
“In this respect, KL should take lead,” he asserted. “Our neighbouring countries all have elected mayors. We are behind time. Even if the government isn't prepared to restore local government elections nationwide, it should begin with KL.”
Tan, who is also the vice-chairman of DAP, is equally noted for his candour which was evident in his acknowledgment of DBKL's cooperation and service towards his constituency. Yet his single grouse echoed that of his fellow MPs – DBKL's lack of transparency. He claimed that until today, the MPs have no idea how the budget is planned and distributed.
“Each year the mayor reads a prepared speech without revealing any details or breakdown of expenses,” he said. “And every year we've been asking the government to include elected representatives in the drafting of the budget but it has refused.”
“We don't even have prior knowledge of the development planned for our constituency and when we ask we are either not provided with the details or are given partial details. We have no insight into the spending, which is very unfair.”
Another DBKL matter which greatly annoys Tan is the delay in appointing the first two opposition members in 36 years onto the its advisory board. According to him, the law dictates that two representatives appointed by the Selangor government must have a place on the DBKL advisory board.
But the two Pakatan representatives have been waiting for over two years to be appointed because their nominations have yet to be approved by the Sultan of Selangor. Tan pointed out that the Sultan's approval does fall under the law but is a tradition that was started by the previous Selangor menteri besar Khir Toyo and which is followed by his successor Khalid Ibrahim.
“Under the law, the menteri besar just needs to submit the proposed names to the king. Once the king gives his approval, the two representatives will have to take an oath and then are empowered to carry out their duties. We are eagerly awaiting their appointments because only then will there be a breakthrough.”
Upgraded roads and new highways have burgeoned in Cheras but have done nothing to ease the snarling traffic congestion. Tan still clings to the hope that the Light Rail Transit (LRT) extension that was talked about five years ago will become a reality soon.
Preliminary works on the line from Kelana Jaya to Putra Heights in Ampang have already been rolled out but the second route, which connects Kota Damansara to Cheras via the city centre, remains a blueprint. Tan has received word that this route will be included under the 11th Malaysia Plan but he isn't holding his breath.
“You just have to look at the Grand Saga highway to understand the necessity of this route,” Tan said. “The number of additional toll booths set up there surpasses the original number. Hundreds of thousands of people travel from as far as Semenyih through Cheras to go to KL for work.”
Tan grimly predicted that before the LRT extension line becomes a reality, the traffic situation in Cheras will drastically worsen and no amount of new flyovers will salvage it.
A need for urban renewal
In his latest meeting with Ahmad Fuad, Tan brought a new issue to the table. He wants the government to provide balanced development to the city folk so that no township is living in the shadow of another.
Calling Mont Kiara and Hartamas “different worlds”, he warned of unrest among the people living in shabby environments who are forced to watch those in neighbouring constituencies move around in sparkling new ones.
“It's all about urban renewal,” he explained. “Developing old townships into livelier places by providing better facilities and roads and more business opportunities. Most of these old housing areas have dilapidated wet markets that gives them the look of slums. Such places should be given a modern face-lift.”
He observed that what the government lacked was not funding but simply political will. Referring to the on-going plan to build 35,000 People's Housing Project (PPR) flats, he pointed out that there was no point in building new ones when the maintenance of existing ones is being ignored.
“We should learn from Singapore where public housing is efficient, the units are spacious and the infrastructure is well-maintained,” he said. “You can argue that Singaporeans have a different mentality but if our government is not setting an example in service improvement, then it can't expect public mentality to improve either.”
City without a soul
What truly makes Tan's heart bleed, however, is the dullness of the city's heartbeat. Throwing his hands up in frustration, he exclaimed that he is always stumped as to where to take his foreign friends when they visit KL.
“KL is a city without a soul,” he lamented. “There is no tourist attraction that does us proud or which defines KL. Every big city in the world has its landmark except us. At one time we had the world's tallest building that was our source of pride. Now all we have is the world's tallest flagpole.”
“But we still have one record that remains unbroken,” he said, with a glint in his eye. “We have the world's most toll booths. You will never find this many toll booths in other major cities. I'm not running down my own city but let's face it. Malaysians live their lives around toll booths and traffic and really, what kind of a life is that?”
COMMENT I refer to the announcement by the Works Minister that Aug 31 will see a toll-free day for motorists using the LDP expressway between Puchong and Damansara.
This is a reflection that the authorities recognise that the people need to be “liberated” from the burden of having to pay toll, especially in Puchong where motorists pay RM1.60 per entry into and exit out of Puchong.
For a family with two cars which need to travel at least twice into and out of Puchong, one needs to fork out RM12.80 per day just on toll. This averages out to RM384 per month. Many make an average of 10 trips into and out of Puchong daily.
The report today also said that an average of 450,000 vehicles travel the route daily. That makes the daily collection some RM720,000 per day. This brings the collection to about RM22.32 million per month and about RM267.84 million a year.
These figures are merely a rough estimate of what is being made a year. The figure will increase dramatically over the months and years to come because Puchong is developing fast and naturally the flow of traffic into Puchong will likewise increase.
This doesn’t yet include the fact that the toll rate is set to increase over the years. The agreement has it increasing to RM2.10 and RM3.20 in the years to come.
The federal government is not doing enough to solve the problem.
The agreements which cover these routes were drafted many years ago. One may ask if these agreements projected the increased volumes in traffic and toll rates accurately. Is there not a cut-off point for profit margins after which the concessions would be returned to the government and the people?
Are the people completely helpless and without recourse because “agreements have been signed and are binding” as is always said in Parliament by the powers that be?
But we, the rakyat, did not sign these agreements. Why must we now be made to suffer these consequences?
And the fact of the matter is that the traffic problem in Puchong, especially on the LDP during peak hours, is simply terrible. What are motorists actually paying for when travel time is severely delayed because of the jam?
Ask anyone in Puchong and the toll and traffic issue finds itself at the top of the list of complaints. So why do we have to wait for years and suffer in silence when huge amounts of money pass collected from the people of Puchong?
The buying option
As MP for Puchong, I would like to ask the federal government whether it is true that profits on this route are expected to fall in the range of some RM13.8 billion between 2016 and 2029.
And what are the profits already made to date and which will be made from now to 2016 based on increased traffic volumes and toll prices?
Given these facts and figures, the Works Minister should state whether the option of buying the concession back would be better in terms of savings for the rakyat?
Does the agreement not provide for this and does it not also state the pricing mechanism for such an option?
It is my view that any agreement which can be shown to be unfair over a period of time, and one which is found to be oppressive to the rakyat, must surely be subject to review, especially in cases where the financial targets sought to be achieved have been achieved.
We cannot and must not just sit back and allow for the extras to be reaped in at the expense of the rakyat.
I think the federal government, under whose guidance the agreements were drafted and signed, must now take full responsibility. It should re-evaluate these contracts and act urgently.
Something is just not right here. The increase in traffic volume should work out to reduce toll rates and relieve the rakyat of the burden, not the other way around.
With the greatest of respect to the minister, a one-day discount or amnesty may be nice but it is certainly not enough to solve the problem.
What we need is a long-term solution for the people of Puchong. The federal government must act and act fast if it is truly committed to its “people first, performance now” slogan.
Menjelang Hari Kemerdekaan yang ke 53 negara kita masih belum lagi merdeka sepenuhnya. Kita masih lagi dijajah oleh politik perkauman yang dimainkan tanpa sebarang had dan batasan. Negara maju sedang sibuk bersaing dan berpolitik dengan polisi yang terbaik negara Malaysia masih lagi cuba menjadi raja dalam mempermainkan emosi rakyat.
Saya cukup terkilan dan benggang dengan Ketua Puteri UMNO Datuk Rosnah Rashid Shirlin yang mencadangkan supaya tindakan diambil terhadap Namewee. Keadaan ini sekali membuktikkan ahli politik negara kita masih lagi dijajah untuk mencari isu tertentu demi mendapat publisiti murahan yang tidak menguntungkan.
Saya lagi terperanjat apabila Perdana Menteri Malaysia Dato Seri Najib Razak yang sebelum ini saya rasa beliau cukup bijak dalam pelbagai isu yang melanda negara kita tetapi kali ini kedangkalan beliau dipaparkan apabila beliau mencadangkan tindakan undang – undang harus dikaji dan diambil terhdap Namewee.
Saya cabar mana – mana individu untuk membuktikkan termasuk Rosnah dan Najib untuk membuktikkan terlebih dahulu setiap segala yang dilemparkan oleh Nawemee merupakan satu fitnah dan bukannya kebenaran terlebih dahulu.
Dalam isu ini Namewee hanya menyuarakan suara rakyat yang kecewa dengan tindakan seorang pengetua sekolah yang kurang ajar dan biadap dalam kata – katanya. Sehingga hari ini tidak kedengaran sebarang suara daripada PUTERI UMNO untuk mencadangkan tindakan diambil terhadap pengetua yang melampaui batasnya. Tidak kedengaran juga cadangan seorang Perdana Menteri yang sebelum ini saya anggap cukup bijak untuk mengheret guru ini ke muka perundangan dan pengadilan.
Keadaan ini sekali lagi memaparkan sifat hiprokrit ahli politik negara kita yang berwajah dua dan bermuka talam dalam menangani isu yang melanda negara kita.
Bagaimana kita boleh katakan video tersebut boleh mencetuskan masalah perkauman dalam negara kita sedangkan Namewee hanya menyerang seorang individu yang bersifat perkauman? Lagipun pengetua tersebut diserang , dimaki dan dicaci oleh pelbagai pihak. Cuma individu yang berbeza menyerangnya dari sudut dan dimensi yang berbeza.
Ada yang menggunakan blog dan tulisan. Ada yang berceramah tentang isu ini. Tidak kurang juga ada yang menggunakan unsur muzik dan seni untuk menyerang pengetua yang kurang ajar ini. Pendekatan kita berbeza tidak menandakan kita bersifat perkauman.
Jika seseorang didakwa membunuh seseorang pun dalam mahkamah perkara yang menjadi persoalan paling utama adalah motif pembunuhan tersebut. Oleh itu dalam isu ini Namewee yang tidak memiliki sebarang kepentingan politik dan peribadi maka apa yang Namewee dapat daripada hasil kreativiti seni beliau?
Namewee suruh dianggap cukup baik terhadap pengetua tersebut apabila dalam video tersebut hanya menyuruh pengetua tersebut memakan buah pisang. Jika saya ada bakat seni seperti Namewee makanan pisang sudah dianggap terlalu baik untuk insan sedemikian. Saya cadangkan pengetua tersebut makan najis. Seseorang tua yang sudah matang dan memiliki tanggungjawab untuk membawa anak – anak muda kita ke arah kemajuan pula bertindak sebaliknya.
Jangan sesekali libatkan Namewee dalam politik negara demi kepentingan politik sendiri. Apakah pendirian PUTERI UMNO dalam segala isu perkauman yang dicetuskan oleh Ibrahim Ali dan PERKASA? Apakah pendirian PUTERI UMNO dalam isu – isu yang dimainkan oleh akhbar Utusan Melayu ? Apakah pendirian PUTERI UMNO dalam isu Ahmad Ismail di Pulang Pinang?
Kini Namewee sudah secara terbuka mencabar PUTERI UMNO berdebat dengannya. Jika benar Puteri UMNO mempercayai Namewee tidak patriotik maka sila beranikan diri berdebat dengan Nawemee. Jangan berani seperti harimau mahu tindakan diambil terhadap Nawemee tetapi takut seperti seekor tikus apabila seorang anak muda seperti Namewee untuk berdebat dengannya. Buktikkan dengan fakta , hujah dan kebijaksaan jika benar Namewee ini tidak patriotik.
Jika PUTERI UMNO mampu membuktikkan Namewee tidak patriotic dalam perdebatan terbuka maka rakyat dan masyarakat sendir yang akan menghukum Namewee.
Lagipun Namewee sudah dianggap cukup berlembut dan bersopan dalam isu ini apabila video tersebut sudah dikeluarkan daripada Youtube. Apa lagi yang anda semua yang memiliki kepentingan politik daripada Namewee hendak lagi daripadanya?
UMNO jangan terus lagi tersilap langkah dan pendekatan politik. Facebook Namewee sudah memiliki 250 000 peminat dan angka ini merupakan satu angka yang lebih banyak daripada Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim yang hanya memiliki 157 000 dan Najib yang hanya memiliki 70 000. Jangan paksa Namewee terjun ke dunia politik. Jika tidak anda akan sukar mengawal pengaruh Namewee.
Biarlah anak muda seperti namewee berjuang dalam dunia hiburan , muzik dan kesenian seperti yang diminatinya. Jangan asyik hendak mencari publisiti murahan politik dengan mengacau kehidpuan dan kesenian beliau. Bakat Namewee adalah ‘1 in 26 million’. Percayalah jika Namewee diberi sokongan , bimbingan dan dorongan yang baik maka tidak lama lagi atau akan wujud satu hari yang Namewee boleh mengharumkan imej negara di persada dunia dengan hasil kerja dan seni muziknya yang cukup kreatif dan baik.
Akhir kata , PUTERI UMNO jangan menjadi pengecut dan tikus. Sahutlah cabaran Namewee untuk berdebat jika benar – benar ikhlas hendak membuktikkan Namewee bersalah dan ikhlas memperjuangkan kebenaran , kebaikkan dan kebenaran. Anda hanya takut jika perjuangan anda sebelum ini tidak ikhlas. Berani kerana benar dan takut kerana salah.
*SAYA UCAPKAN SELAMAT MENYAMBUT HARI MERDEKA KE-53 KEPADA SEMUA RAKYAT MALAYSIA TERUTAMANYA KEPADA PEMBACA BLOG INI*
1. I dislike to return to this subject but I need to explain myself.
2. I was prompted to write about the racism in meritocracy because of the reaction to Malay criticisms against the ideas coming out of the Chinese Economic Congress.
3. The leader who made the statement on doing away with quotas etc said that cannot we discuss anything without (the Malays) raising racial issues. He apparently considers his call for meritocracy was not racial.
4. It is racial beause he was advocating taking away the protection afforded by the NEP and quotas from the bumiputras and not from any other race. Obviously he believes that without these protections the bumiputras would lose against the non-bumis.
5. As much as giving protection to one race is racial, taking it away from that race so as to benefit another race must also be racial. The suggestion coming as it did from a racially exclusive economic congress must be because it is in the interest of that race. That must be racial even though the demand is for meritocracy.
6. I am not proud of the protection afforded the bumiputras. It implies weakness. I don't think Malays and other bumiputras like to think that they are inferior in any way.
7. But the reality is that in Malaysia the bumiputras need new skills and a new culture even. These cannot be had by them in a mere 20 years. The original planners of the NEP were too optimistic.
8. I had suggested merit for university entrance in order to shock the bumis into gettng serious about their education and their own future. However it did not work.
9. In education whereas there is about 60% bumis in theGovernment universities, there are less than 10% in the private universities. And there are more private universities, university colleges and colleges than there are public (Government) universities. Even the 10% bumis are there because of scholarships by MARA. Take the scholarships away and there would be practically none.
10. Why is it that the focus is only on what is done by the Government. If the bumis in Government universities should be reduced, then the bumis in the private universities should be increased. Or else meritocracy would reduce the number of bumiputras getting university education. Or is it the intention to deny bumis higher education. They are not the best but they are qualified.
11. It is the same with foreign universities. Because they can afford it there are more non-bumis than bumis in foreign universities. This must increase the disparities in higher education between different races.
12. Lest I be accused of making unfounded assumption, a proper audit should be done by an impartial team.
13. When I was still PM, the Government decided to allow for private colleges and universities to be set up. They can twin with recognised foreign universities and should issue their diplomas and degrees. The reason for allowing private institutions of higher learning is to reduce cost of tertiary education so that the parents who could not afford to send their children abroad can have access to foreign qualification from local private institutions. You can guess who are the beneficiaries of this Government policy.
14. As for contracts even with the 5% advantage given to bumi contractors, many of the Government contracts do not go to them because of their lack of capacity. Even if they do get, non-bumi contractors get most of the sub-contracts etc.
15. Actually construction by the private sector is bigger than the public sector. In the private sector the bumi contractors get next to nothing. I suppose this is because the private contracts are given based on merit. Or maybe it is not. I don't know.
16. Take away the minor protection afforded by the NEP and the bumis will lose whatever that they may have, Then racial division will be deepened by wealth division. I don't think this would be good for the country. Remember it was the disparity between rich and poor in Europe which led to the violence of the Communist revolution.
17. I may be labelled a racist but fear of the label will not stop me from working for what I think is the good of the country. Nothing will be gained by dividing the people of Malaysia into poor bumis and rich non-bumis. The time is not right for disregarding the disparities between the races in the interest of equity and merit.
18. For 46 years this country enjoyed relative stability and consequently good growth. But today the races are more divided than ever. Everyone has become racist, talks about meritocracy notwithstanding. Everyone is thinking about his own race. If I am included it is because I think t is dangerous for the rich to take away what little the poor has.
TAN Sri Hasmy Agam was appointed the new Suhakam chief in June 2010. Previously, he was executive chairperson of the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), and secretary-general of the United Nations Association of Malaysia.
“I’m conscious of the fact that I’m no longer a civil servant. Now that I’m the chair[person] of Suhakam, I’ve to be neutral and independent,” says Hasmy during an interview on 11 Aug 2010 at his office in Kuala Lumpur.
The former diplomat acknowledges that he may have to make statements unfriendly to the government from time to time, as his job now is to highlight human rights violations. He also notes that the other six appointed commissioners all come from non-governmental organisation (NGO) backgrounds.
In this interview with The Nut Graph, Hasmy Agam talks about his plans for Suhakam in the next three years, what steps he will take to overcome its limitations, and on human rights issues in Malaysia. TNG: As the new Suhakam chief, what do you hope to achieve with Suhakam during your term? Hasmy Agam: We’ll continue to work on creating awareness about human rights among the public. Suhakam has generated greater awareness about human rights over the years. However, many Malaysians still don’t assert these rights.
We also plan to intensify our efforts in sensitising government agencies on human rights issues. They are [supposed to] protect human rights. But sometimes they may become overzealous, especially enforcement agencies like the police and immigration department.
They need to understand that they have to do their job with a sense of proportion, at both the subordinate and management level. Unless the people on top understand [that they need to ensure that human rights are not violated when carrying out their job], they will not be able to guide their subordinates. They say “tangkap”, their subordinates would just follow the order, like in the recent anti-ISA (Internal Security Act) candlelight vigil. Even [people they consider as] lawbreakers have rights, like the right to legal representation, and the enforcers need to respect that.
Another challenge is to follow up with the recommendations that Suhakam has made to the government in the past. We’ve had so many public inquiries and made several recommendations including to repeal the ISA, but many have yet to be implemented.
It’s also quite awkward that for 10 years [since Suhakam was established], none of its reports have been discussed in Parliament. I’ve started talking to Datuk Seri Nazri (Aziz), the minister in charge of parliamentary affairs. He has accepted in principle that there should be a session, one day or half a day, allocated to discuss Suhakam’s [annual] report.
There’s also a need to restructure Suhakam. There is currently quick turnover of staff because of the lack of upward mobility. Most of our staff are hired on contract. They’re quite passionate about human rights issues, but if there’s no upward mobility, there’s a limit to how long they would stay.
As you know, our term only [lasts for] three years. There are a lot of expectations [from different parties]. We will try to engage with [our stakeholders, including] parliamentarians, enforcement agencies, media, civil societies [etc].
But the challenges are great. Human rights cover a wide range of issues, starting from birth to death, [so] it’s difficult to cover all, especially since there are only the seven of us. We’re appointed on a part-time basis, but I’ve given up my other job [to focus on this]. I was previously the IDFR executive chair[person]. Other commissioners, except for those from Sabah and Sarawak, try to come here as often as possible, too. What are some of the steps Suhakam is taking, or plans to take, to overcome its limitations?
We’re an advisory body; we don’t have enforcement powers. Past commissioners have expressed the need for Suhakam to be given more teeth. Unfortunately, that was not addressed [by the government].
But even within the limitations we’re facing, we can choose to be reactive or proactive. Reactive means we only look into an issue when someone lodges a complaint. In fact, we receive many complaints in a year.
However, we feel that we can also be proactive in some cases. Like in the recent candlelight vigil, we decided to monitor it. We received the organisers’ notification that they were holding the vigil about a week before it was held. As human rights defenders, we believe peaceful assembly is a human right we need to protect, so we felt in was incumbent upon Suhakam to monitor [the vigil].
When we told the police we wanted to monitor, though, the first reaction wasn’t good. They thought we wanted to join the protesters. Why did the police think so?
I think many [among the police] don’t understand Suhakam’s basic function. They probably thought that since it was an illegal assembly, we had no right to observe it.
Police at the scene of the anti-ISA rally on 1 Aug 2010 in Petaling Jaya
There’s also this perception by some [government agencies] that Suhakam is an NGO. We’re not. [Ironically], civil societies consider us part of the government. We’re not. We’re an independent entity.
In the end, we managed to convince the police that it’s their job to [take care of] security, but it’s also our job to monitor [the vigil], and the protesters will do their job to make a point. Each of us has our own role to play.
Since [the police considered it] an illegal protest, they’re duty-bound to arrest the protesters under the Police Act, but they didn’t have to use force. When the lawyers wanted to represent the protesters, the police also wanted to record the lawyers’ statement as if they, too, were protesters. That was uncalled for. The lawyers were merely there to represent their clients. We’ve recorded what happened, and I think things [definitely] need to be improved. What about the case with the migrant workers at the new Istana Negara who claimed that they were not paid their wages? Suhakam also had difficulties getting access to the site?
Unfortunately, we were only allowed to visit the site after two weeks. By the time we got there, we weren’t able to observe much. The employers denied the non-payment and alleged that it was fabricated by others.
Still, I think this case is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot of construction going on all over the country. The exploitation of migrant labour is a big issue. Our commissioners are now trying to look at the issue. What about the Penan rape cases in Sarawak? Why did Sarawak Suhakam commissioner Detta Samen refuse to be the adviser for a proposed task force to investigate the sexual exploitation of Penan girls and women?
We’re concerned about this issue. I think because the commissioners are new, some of them may be more careful with what they say [and agree to do]. But we’re definitely concerned about issues concerning indigenous people. In fact, we’re thinking of setting up a national inquiry on indigenous people. We’re weighing between looking into indigenous people, women’s issues, and issues concerning our aging population. What about the Islamisation of indigenous people? Has Suhakam looked into that?
Jannie Lasimbang (Source: iisd.ca)
I was told by Sabah commissioner Jannie Lasimbang that the problem arises during the reporting of the child’s birth. Sometimes the authorities add a “bin” or “binti” to the child’s name, not realising the religious connotation, so these children are later assumed to be Muslims. What about the Islamisation of Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia? Both The Nut Graph and Al-Jazeera have reported on the issue this year. Did anyone lodge a report with Suhakam about these cases?
No. Otherwise we would have investigated. Is Suhakam going to look into sexuality rights issues, especially concerning LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender)s? These communities are often marginalised. They are denied employment opportunities, and are harassed by authorities and the media because of their sexual or gender identity.
This is a sensitive issue. We need to look at it with understanding. In fact, at the Asia Pacific Forum in Bali, I was the first to take the floor to discuss this issue. I [told the delegates] I had a personal dilemma dealing with these issues. We need to protect human rights, but at the same time, we live in a society that is not ready to embrace these communities.
Suhakam is not dismissing it, but we will need to look into the issues within our cultural and religious context. During our first press conference, some people also submitted a memorandum [highlighting the media's problematic representation of these communities].
We definitely need to treat these communities with respect and dignity. As a nation, we have to demonstrate more empathy. But [I've to admit] this issue is big and not something that is likely to be resolved within our term. Does Suhakam plan to engage the government to convince it to ratify major international conventions, for example, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the CAT (Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment)?
When I was in the Foreign Ministry, I pushed for the government to come on board these international conventions. We’ve been talking about it for so many years but we’ve yet to ratify them.
The standard government position was that we could not ratify these conventions unless we could fully comply and implement its provisions [on the ground]. But Malaysia has ratified Cedaw (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) and the CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child).
Personally, I’ve always felt it’s embarrassing that Malaysia has yet to ratify these conventions, especially the convention against torture. We cannot condone torture. It’s a long-haul fight. We will continue to engage with the government. I’ll be happy if the government is willing to come on board.
AUG 30 — We celebrate Merdeka tomorrow. And what do we have to show for it? Racist educators, intolerant politicians, bigoted pressure groups, xenophobic newspapers, crimes of vandalism against places of worship and other weird and not-so-wonderful things that can only happen in this nation. What a meaningful way to usher in Malaysia’s 53rd birthday!
If only our Bapa Malaysia, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, were alive to see the state of things today. To witness how the fruits of his labour have been utilised, and to observe how the unified Malaysia he dreamt of, still remain for the most part, a dream. To watch how we’ve spent the better part of the last half-century diligently dismantling piece by piece, the Malaysian unification he strived to hard to establish. To view the rapid extinction of the tolerant, empowered Malaysian, only to be replaced by one so blinded by prejudice that he is incapable of rational discourse towards his fellow countrymen. To hear words such as ‘pendatang’ and ‘penumpang’, to see protestors stamping on cow heads, to taste tear-gas and to smell the acrid odour of corruption, discrimination, oppression, and deception permeating Malaysian air.
I cannot help but wonder, what would the great man himself think? Have we truly done justice to Tunku’s inspirational and rousing declaration of “Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka”?
The British colonialists may be long gone but in their place appears to have sprouted various factions that have adopted the same divide and conquer strategy synonymous with the former. Groups that play on the insecurities of various Malaysian ethnicities for political mileage and popularity, without much consideration for the turmoil and carnage they willingly invite in doing so.
My beloved country appears to have been hijacked by certain quarters determined to see it crumble under the pressure of division and discord; the sensible, level-headed say of the average Malaysian repeatedly silenced by the violent rumble of dissonance. Yet, the voice of reason must prevail or we risk sacrificing everything we have achieved to a bunch of foolish thugs who dominate by flexing their insular, parochial muscles. If we truly love this blessed, extraordinary nation of ours, we must save it from being seized by brutes who shamelessly capitalise on primal instincts and insecurities.
Our forefathers, from a diverse range of race and religion, worked together as one tirelessly for us to enjoy the level of peace and harmony we have today. Yet, I fear that this concord which so many of us take for granted, is slowly being battered and eroded right in front of our very eyes.
We have allowed for far too long, those with detrimental, destructive agendas, to dictate how we live our lives; to instruct us how to detest and mistrust our fellow Malaysians by virtue of differing physical attributes, cultures and religious beliefs; to try and inculcate in us unfounded stereotypes and misconceptions; to attempt to instil in us a superiority complex that has neither place nor reason in tolerant, multi-cultural, democratic society.
We must stand up now and say No loud and clear, for nobody has the right to decide for you or me, the type of Malaysian we ought to be.
If we truly love this country, then we cannot allow for it to be reduced to a nation characterised by racist rhetoric and extremist diatribe. We cannot idly sit by and watch everything which our founding fathers struggled so hard to construct, washed away by caustic words and corrosive actions. We must disregard and delegitimise such abysmal deeds by uniting as a community, as a country, as a people. We must match unreasonable, excessive tirades, with eloquence, patience and composure, accepting that we know better. We are obliged to contest displays of unfounded ire with our own standards of rational conduct.
I love Malaysia for I am a daughter of this soil. This is my one and only home. My ancestors may have come from a different place but this is the country I proudly call my native land. I live in Malaysia because there is nowhere else I’d rather be despite having the opportunity to do so. Because I was born here and because till this day, when I hear the Negaraku my heart swells with pride and patriotism. And mostly because no matter what anyone may say, do, or think, I know that nothing can change the fact that I am Malaysian.
And so I call upon my fellow Malaysians to once and for all join hands and strive towards a truly genuine and united 1 Malaysia. Let us sincerely declare and demonstrate that we are wholly united and committed towards jointly making this nation of ours the best that it can be.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools” and in memory of the great Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, who nurtured Malaysia into existence, let us once again remember and relive the true spirit of “Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka.”
Happy 53rd Independence Day to all.
* Gayatri Unsworth is a 29-year-old writer, corporate trainer and academic who thinks it’s about time she voiced her opinions eloquently rather than just rant about them in her Facebook status column. She can be reached at gayatri[dot]unsworth[at]gmail[dot]com