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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teresa Kok wants Hisham to retract ‘dirty ’ remark

By The Malaysian Insider
Hishammuddin under fire for his remark on Serdang MP
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 – Selangor executive councillor Teresa Kok asked Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today to retract his statement and apologise to Serdang MP Teo Nie Ching for calling her “dirty.”

Kok said the Home Minister’s remarks would only promote racial hatred.

“With that disparaging statement, Hishamuddin is once again fanning the flames of racial discontent like how he openly supported the Shah Alam cow head protestors last September. He backtracked later only upon public uproar,” said the DAP organising secretary.

“Hishamuddin must immediately retract his statement and publicly apologise to Teo Nie Ching or he and 1Malaysia will forever have no credibility in the eyes of the public,” she added.

Hishammuddin had said yesterday that Teo should not have been allowed into a surau as she “was deemed dirty”.

He also said that it was disastrous for PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat to encourage Teo to visit more mosques.

“I question where Hishamuddin received the knowledge and moral authority to judge anyone to be dirty, least of all Teo Nie Ching who entered the surau in sincerity and with an open heart, and only because the surau leaders invited her in. She has already issued a humble public apology to all concerned,” said Kok.

“I shudder to think if Hishamuddin considers Teo Nie Ching dirty because she is non-Muslim or simply because she is female,” she added.

Teo’s visit to a Kajang surau last week drew the ire of Umno as well as Malay rights pressure group Perkasa, with the latter calling for a ban on non-Muslims from entering mosques and suraus.

The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) also claimed that the visit had displeased the Selangor Sultan.

The National Fatwa Council, however, had decided on March 1 that non-Muslim tourists may enter mosques and prayer rooms with the condition that they receive permission from the respective management and ensure that their actions do not violate the sanctity of the mosque.

Tunku's vision poisoned by racism

(Malaysiakini) Tunku Abdul Rahman was born on Feb 8, 1903, in Alor Setar. He was the seventh prince of Sultan Abdul Hamid Shah, the 24th Kedah sultan. A robust and bright boy, Tunku received his early education at the Debsurin School, Bangkok and Penang Free School.

He then went on to study at St Catherine's College in Cambridge University on a Kedah government scholarship, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in law and history in 1925.

During his overseas studies, Tunku experienced firsthand racial discrimination at the hands of the college's administrators, which convinced him to fight for equality and to make his homeland an independent state, free from the yoke of British colonialism.

tunku abdul rahman 290809His flair for leadership unfolded in England. Realising the Malay students there were not represented by any organisation, he established the Kesatuan Melayu Great Britain (Malay Association of Great Britain) and became its first secretary.

In 1931, after returning home Tunku joined the Kedah civil service as a cadet in the Legal Advisor's Office, and then as a district officer in several Kedah districts. He proved himself unpopular among some British officials due to his outspokenness and tendency to introduce reforms in his quest to improve the living standards of the people.

His attempt to complete his law studies at the Inner Temple in England in 1938 came to a halt when the Second World War broke out. He resumed his studies only eight years later, coming home with legal qualifications in 1949.

On Aug 26, 1951, Tunku became Umno president, succeeding Onn Jaafar.

tunku abdul rahman and patrick keith 020805His first mission was to travel throughout the nation to meet people from all walks of life and various races to promote unity. His efforts in overcoming the country's political problems by way of cooperation among the various ethnic groups saw the birth of the Alliance Party in 1955.

In 1956, he led a mission to London for a discussion with the British government concerning Malaya's independence.

The meeting resulted in the signing of the Independent Treaty at Lancaster House in London on Feb 8, 1956 and, consequently, the independence of Malaya on Aug 31, 1957.

On his return from London on June 3, 1957, after finalising plans for independence with the British, Tunku in his first speech, upon landing at the Sungai Besi Airport, issued the clarion call for unity.

“The situation in this country is different from other countries in the world. Because of this, one race cannot take everything for itself. In order to set up an independent government, we must compromise and make sacrifices.”

Racial slurs
Tunku would never have thought that five decades later, things would develop to a point that national school officials would make remarks ridiculing other races. If a headmistress could make such racial slurs, what more ordinary teachers?
I know of many children who tell their parents not to raise a hue and cry over the incidents of racism they experience at school out of fear that they, the students, would be punished. There must be many cases that go unreported.

This not only goes contrary to the concept of 1Malaysia, but against the fundamental rights of human beings.

The government must call upon teachers, students and parent-teacher associations to report all cases of racist utterances and behaviour. The laws are clear and provide ample sanctions against such behaviour.

As we celebrate Merdeka today, our political landscape has worsen from what Malaya was 53 years ago when Tunku declared Independence. At that time, Malays, Chinese and Indians believed in consensus as the basis for how the nation should be ruled.

You did not hear much of non-Malays being called 'immigrants' and compared to dogs or prostitutes. No leader dared to threaten Umno presidents that they would lose Malay support, as Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali has done recently.

In this era of globalisation, we must think as citizens of the world, not as creatures living under a coconut shell. There is no room for racism.

Malays powerless

In his Independence proclamation speech, Tunku said: “We fully realise that (there are) difficulties and problems that lie ahead and are confident that, with the blessing of God, these difficulties will be overcome and that today's events, down the avenues of history, will be our inspiration and our guide.

tunku abdul rahman merdeka declaration 261004“At this solemn moment, I call upon you all to dedicate yourselves to the service of the new Malaya: to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty - a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world. High confidence has been reposed in us; let us be united and face the challenge of the years ahead.”

About a month before independence, July 10, 1957, at the Legislative Council, Tunku explained the feelings and aspirations of the three major component races.

On Malays, he said: “Before the First World War, the Malays accepted the intrusion of hundreds of thousands of men and women of other races because they realised that they were powerless to prevent it.

“But in those days, few people were brave enough to interest themselves in politics and our complicated treaties with Britain had given the 'protector' absolute right to do as they liked in this country.

“The Malays had the assurance that the British government would protect their interests and that they would be given time to learn the art of administration and time to develop a business sense, and so they believed in the British.”

Not an easy journey

Reflecting on the early Chinese settlers, Tunku said: “They have been in this country for many hundreds of years. In the early days, they came here to trade and later to like this country and decided to settle down, and they were absorbed by the country and followed local customs and spoke the Malay language, which at the same time retaining some of their own culture and traditions. Later, after the First World War, a large number of Chinese came into the federation to further its development.”

On the Indians, he told the Legislative Council: “The Indians also came to the federation to seek wealth in the country and they found employment in government services or in estates. They, too, have made their contribution for which we are all grateful.

“Men and women of many other races have also come to Malaya, though in smaller numbers, and I should like to make particular mention of the part played by the British people. They have admittedly devoted their lives to the advancement and development of our country. Whatever may have been their fault, they have made Malaya a prosperous and happy place today.”

The road to nationhood has not been an easy journey. Malayans then, and Malaysians now, have endured the trials and tribulations with confidence and patience, calmness and forbearance, with faith in our final goal of establishing a united Malaysia.

Tunku knew that there would be challenges for the co-existence of the various races.

A visionary, he said in his proclamation speech: “Let no one think we have reached the end of the road: Independence is indeed a milestone, but it is only the threshold to high endeavour - the creation of a new and sovereign state.”

Fifty-three years after, Malaysians strive to reach, with great difficulty, yet another milestone.

M KRISHNAMOORTHY is a freelance journalist and local coordinator for CNN, BBC and several other foreign television networks. He was formerly with The Star and New Straits Times and has authored four books.

Perkasa declares Malay rights not for debate

Ibrahim feels Nurul Izzah is too young and should focus on her dad's sodomy trial instead.
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — Perkasa today sidestepped Nurul Izzah Anwar’s challenge to a public debate on Malay rights, saying the community’s special position and privileges should not be questioned.

The Lembah Pantai MP wrote in The Malaysian Insider today that Perkasa’s idea of “Malay rights” was a mere ideological and philosophical construct which was not rooted in the Constitution, and invited them to a debate.

In response, Perkasa claimed today that the special positions of the Malays could not be questioned or even debated on, therefore refusing any invitation for an open dialogue.

“She is a young kid that does not know or appreciate the history and meaning of the fight towards inexperienced and yet she is already auctioning the pride of her own race.

“My fight is with her father, not her. She is small fry,” Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali told The Malaysian Insider via text message.

Ibrahim dismissed Nurul’s arguments, and instead told her to focus on her father’s (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) Sodomy II trial.

“This is too small an issue, ask her to focus on her father’s sodomy case, or debate with the Wiranita chief. Is her father’s trial really a conspiracy?” said Ibrahim.

Perkasa Wiranita (Women’s Wing) chief Raihan Sulaiman Palestine echoed Ibrahim’s sentiments, stressing that Article 153 of the Federal Constitution was clear in according Malays special rights.

“Lately there have been a lot of questions, a lot of arguments against Article 153. How can this be? You cannot have a debate on something that is expressively stated within the Constitution.

“Even in Parliament, you have to get more than two-thirds agreement to change or even talk about the constitution, and she (Nurul) wants to have a public debate on it? What the Malays deserve, what they are entitled to is there in black and white,” said Raihan.

Raihan told The Malaysian Insider that Perkasa would go out of its way to ensure that no one questioned any provisions within the Federal Constitution that guaranteed Malays their “rights and privileges.”

“We will do everything and anything we can within the Federal Constitution to protect Malay rights...And if Nurul Izzah cannot understand this, swallow it. This is the reality,” said Raihan.

Nurul said that it was important to note that the Reid Commission, which drafted the constitution, had seen Article 153 as temporary measure, subject to review after 15 years by Parliament, before it was institutionalised into the NEP following the 1969 race riots.

Arguing that Malaysia was at a “monumental cross-road”, Nurul hammered home the point that it ultimately came down to the people to decide if Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) or Ketuanan Rakyat (people’s supremacy) was going to define Malaysia.

“Once the next general election outcome is determined, and if ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is victorious, then some may choose to vote with their feet (emigrate with massive brain drain and a diminishing tax base), and some will choose to vote with their wallet (domestic capital flight compounded with decreasing FDI that further stunts our economic growth), which in turn will indicate the makings of a potential failed state with irreversible consequences,” she warned.

“What is left will be a shell of a former Malaysia that could have been a great example of a democratic and pluralistic nation to the world.”

Malay rights groups like Perkasa as well as the Malay Consultative Council (MPM) have been increasingly vocal in their racial rhetoric in arguing for maintaining the pro-Bumiputera New Economic Policy (NEP).

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has also thrown his weight behind Perkasa, allaying fears of a revolution if the economic disparities between the Bumiputeras and the non-Bumiputeras were not dealt with.

Dr Mahathir has maintained that the NEP needed to be retained indefinitely in order for Bumiputeras to be successful.

Sri Lankan tourist killed fleeing Malaysian kidnappers

KUALA LUMPUR: A Sri Lankan tourist died fleeing kidnappers in Malaysia while a friend escaped and another was rescued by police, the force said Tuesday. The three had just arrived on holiday and to sell gemstones worth RM40,000 when they were abducted last week at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, district police chief Abdul Rahim Abdullah said.

"The three were trying to get a cheap ride to the city but were instead led into a van and kidnapped by four people and taken to a flat in the suburbs," he told AFP.

"The men were held for ransom and one of them managed to escape their captors on Sunday morning but one died in the escape bid," he said.

Mohammad Mihilar, 32, the tourist who escaped, told the New Straits Times he and his two friends, whom he identified as Samsudeen and Sarifdeen, were tortured during the three-day ordeal to get family details so that a ransom could be demanded.

"We were beaten and tortured for three days and were not given any food or water for refusing to give them the contact details of our families in Sri Lanka," he told the paper.

"They used masks as they assaulted us with iron rods, water hose and hot iron," Mohammad said.

He said the kidnappers took the gemstones and demanded a 35,000-dollar ransom from their captives' families.

"As I was heading to the toilet, I turned around and kicked the kidnapper before running out of the flat. I ran up to the rooftop of the flat and jumped off to escape," he added.

Mohammad broke a leg in the fall but said Samsudeen, who had jumped out of an open window, fell to his death.

Mohammad raised the alarm and police rescued Sarifdeen, who was found handcuffed in the flat.

"We have arrested two persons and one is believed to be a volunteer in the reserve police and we are on the lookout for two others believed to be involved in the kidnapping," Abdul Rahim said.

"Police are still investigating the case but we do not believe the kidnappers were part of any syndicate operating at the airport as it appears to be an opportunistic crime."

Umno juara fitnah, cetus sentimen agama

(Harakahdaily) - Dewan Pemuda PAS Wilayah Persekutuan (DPPWP) kesal kerana Umno terus memainkan intrumen fitnah bagi memburukkan Imej PAS dan Pakatan Rakyat, walaupun masih berada dalam bulan Ramadhan.

Pemangku ketuanya, Herman Samsudeen berkata, tindakan cybertrooper Umno yang menggunakan nama "PAS Beruk" mencipta dan menyebarkan gambar super impose yang kononnya Lim Guan Eng sedang menyembelih lembu korban untuk umat Islam dengan tagline "Sanggupkah kita lihat jika jadi begini? Dalil apa lagi nak halalkan perbuatan DAP??" adalah keterlaluan dan sengaja mencetus sentimen agama.

“DPPWP kesal kesal budaya fitnah terus membiak dalam Umno walaupun dalam bulan Ramadhan ini. Begitu jauh mereka tersasar dari hidayah Allah,” ujarnya dalam satu kenyataan.

Baginya, demi kepentingan politik mereka, gambar sedemikian dicipta, walhal gambar sebenar adalah menunjukan Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin sedang menyembelih lembu korban untuk rakyat.

Katanya, gambar berkenaan sengaja direka dengan harapan rakyat melihat bahawa kerjasama PAS dan DAP kononnya merosakan Islam.

“Hal sebegini sudah berakar umbi dalam Umno sehingga diwarisi oleh anak-anak muda hingusan yang baru bersama Umno,” katanya.

Sebelum ini, media Umno-Utusan Malaysia memutar belitkan fakta dengan menyebarkan kepada rakyat yang ahli parlimen DAP Serdang, Teo Nie Ching beri 'tazkirah' dalam surau di mana ucapan aluan sengaja ditukar kepada 'tazkirah' bagi mencetuskan polemik awam.

Dua hari lepas, Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin yang juga mantan Ketua Penerangan Umno pula menyebarkan fitnahnya dengan mengatakan PAS mahu rampas harta Cina semasa peristiwa 13 Mei dan PAS kononnya turut menyokong tindakan Indonesia menyerang Malaysia semasa konfrontasi.

“Semua ini adalah fantasi Umno. Kini mereka bermain gambar pula, sama seperti gambar Zaid minum arak yang mereka cipta di Hulu Selangor. Tindakan ini menunjukan Umno semakin kehabisan modal untuk burukkan PAS dan Pakatan rakyat,” katanya lagi.

Sehubungan itu, DPPWP berharap pemimpin dan ahli Umno bertaubat.

Katanya, semakin banyak fitnah disebar, semakin terdedah keburukan Umno, semakin banyak fitnah disebar, semakin meluat rakyat kepada Umno.

“Malulah kepada bukan Islam, malulah kepada umat Islam, malulah kepada Allah kerana perbuatan fitnah ini begitu jijik dan jauh lebih dahsyat dari membunuh. Ianya tidak akan diterima oleh mana-mana kaum dan agama sekalipun,” ujarnya lagi.

Merdeka? Without a free media?

By Haris Ibrahim,

YB Nurul Izzah is reportedly going to apply to the Home Ministry for a permit to publish a Malay daily which is independent called “Utusan Rakyat”.

She’s going to publish this daily, if given a permit, in her personal capacity.

According to a FreeMalaysiaToday report, yesterday, Nurul submitted a letter of intent to Hishammuddin requesting his assistance in speeding up her application for a publication permit.

Now she waits.

Just as we wait on any one or more of the Pakatan Rakyat state governments to take the lead in gifting this nation with a free media.

You see, Nurul, you or any other citizen is required by law to obtain a permit from the Home Minister before publishing, printing and distributing any newspaper.

Section 5(1) of the Printing Press & Publications Act, 1984 requires as such.

Civil society has long called for the repeal of this law.

We know BN will not.

Pakatan Rakyat has said it will.

Meanwhile, Utusan and the other dailies in the BN stable continue to feed the rakyat with lies and untruths.

Worst still, the BN-owned mainstream media attempts to sow racial discord amongst the people.

Is there nothing that can be done before Pakatan Rakyat gets to Putrajaya and repeals the PPPA?

Not true.

Pakatan Rakyat, through one of its controlled state governments, could gift the rakyat with a free and independent newspaper.

Section 25 (1) of PPPA reads : “Nothing in this Act shall extend to the publication or making of any documents or periodical by or for the Federal or any State Government or any statutory body”.

Unlike Nurul, you or any other citizen, any one of the Pakatan state governments would not have to wait for Hishamuddin to issue them a permit to publish a daily newspaper to combat the lies of the BN media.

To be a free media, though, such a state newspaper must not come under the control of the state.

It can be done.

What it requires now is a Mentri Besar and a state exco that truly believes in the value of a free media and has the political will to see this come to fruition now.

Dear Zaid

John Khoo in Australia sent this letter to Zaid.

He has authorised me to re-publish it here


Greetings from Downunder and I hope this finds you and the family in the best of health.

The reason that I am writing to you is to voice my concerns regarding the current shenanigans occurring in PR and in particular DAP and PKR. I am extremely disappointed at the parties lack of political nous in its attempt to take Putrajaya. It appears to be an increasing trend that politicians within PR (lesser in PAS) cannot discard their self interest, egotistical approach to life in general and politics in particular.

While there have been many episodes of political setbacks, the latest saga involving the 12 Sabahans is definitely a sure fire way to self destruction for PR. I think that even Blind Freddy can see that Sabah and Sarawak are the keys to Putrajaya. It appears that this latest saga will constipate efforts to win hearts and minds of the very people who can deliver these two states to PR. I believe your political colleagues are taking the Malaysian citizens and your supporters from overseas too much for granted. In my honest opinion, this is the Mother of all Political Suicide.

The Sabahans and Sarawakians have been short changed for a long time and the timing is ripe to win them over. However, your colleagues continue to treat them as fools and it won’t last much longer. These two States have been strongholds for BN because of the very condescending attitude from the Peninsula politicians, thereby giving the local politicians much stronger hold on the political arena there. Alienating and sidelining political allies in these two key states is the act of a maniac or a political moron of the highest order. There is no place for egotistical little Napoleons in this battle for Putrajaya. And until you win the war, you will always be the Opposition. This self shooting of one’s own foot will be a welcome relief to an embattled government who is on the verge of its own self destruction. It may just tip the balance in their favour. Please tell your colleagues to think deep and hard.

Politicians are seen by and large in very poor light but when politicians go about breaking their words blatantly, then it does not auger well but only re-enforces the perception that politicians are scumbags and cannot be trusted. I think politicians needs to be constantly reminded that they are the servants of the people and are entrusted to serve the very people who puts them there. They are in effect, like trustees in a board of directors who can easily be removed and replaced if they do a half baked job. I believe the last thing your colleagues want is to be thrown out just when the crown is almost at hand.

I hope you do not take my comments personally, as it was not meant to be but coming from a passionate supporter who despair at the thought that a ripe time to strike has been slowly turning into a lost opportunity, an opportunity that only comes once and once only. For your information, I am no longer a Malaysian citizen and therefore have no real incentives to be involved. However, I am doing this for some of my dear friends and distant relatives who remain in Malaysia because I believe they deserve a better Malaysia. I also do it because of my innate love for the country of my birth.

Yours Sincerely


The Nut Graph‘s 2010 Merdeka Awards

THIS month has been a particularly significant one for The Nut Graph team. It is not only Ramadan and the month of Merdeka. It also marks our two-year anniversary and the month when we transform our operations into Plan B.
While there’s constantly new beginnings to look forward to, these moments give us pause to look back on the highlights that make Malaysian political and cultural life memorable, poignant or significant.
And so, as we mark our 53rd anniversary as an independent nation, The Nut Graph celebrates, in no particular order, the following 10 individuals, groups and initiatives in the second annual Merdeka Awards. These are individuals and groups who boldly articulate their vision for Malaysia and put action to words, sometimes at personal risk and usually with personal sacrifice. They are awardees for having enriched the nation in some way.
We do not claim that this list is definitive or exhaustive in any way. Indeed, these are our picks. We welcome readers to include theirs in the comments section to make the picture complete.
Fahmi (Courtesy of Fahmi Reza)
(Pic courtesy of Fahmi Reza)
Fahmi Reza
He was the 2007 Freedom Film Festival winner for 10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka, a revelatory documentary about the nation’s untold history of the years leading up to our independence.
His current project researching the golden age of Malaysia’s student movement during the 1960s is no less significant. Fahmi’s Student Power! is a riveting multimedia lecture. It narrates how autonomous and vibrant the Malaysian student movement was in holding the state accountable until the government suppressed it with the Universities and University Colleges Act.
As if to prove the point that student activism will not be tolerated, Fahmi has been repeatedly barred from presenting his lecture to students at Universiti Malaya, the place where the student movement was born. However, he remains undeterred.
As a people’s historian who is connected to today’s youths, Fahmi is not only showing us which parts of our history have been suppressed, he is also making our history come alive by connecting the past to the present.

McKay (Pic courtesy of Pang Khee Teik)
Benjamin McKay and Amir Muhammad
Benjamin McKay was a beloved writer, lecturer and academic with a deep passion for Malaysian, particularly Malay, film. He died of a cardiac arrest in July.
McKay, an Australian who made a home in Kuala Lumpur, wasn’t just a respected Malaysia film critic. He was also loved for encouraging his readers and students to critically engage with their culture, politics and society. And for a foreigner, his love for Malaysia was clearly demonstrated in his intellectual and social engagement of the country’s culture and politics.
(Pic courtesy of Amir Muhammad)
Amir Muhammad is an independent filmmaker, writer and publisher who addresses social political issues in his films and books. Already, two of his films, Apa Khabar Orang Kampung and The Last Communist, have been banned in Malaysia. (The Home Ministry has also confiscated copies of the queer anthology he published, Body 2 Body.)
As the author of Yasmin Ahmad’s Films and 120 Malay Movies, he continues the public discourse on Malaysian movies and film-making in this country.
With their shared love and passion for films made during the Golden Age of Malaysian cinema, both McKay and Amir held numerous conversations about the topic and eventually became friends. Both deserve The Nut Graph‘s Merdeka Award for their work and dedication to keeping the subject of Malaysian films intelligent and vibrant.
Sisters in Islam
They have been called un-Islamic and branded “dangerous”. They have even been sued over the use of “Islam” in their organisation’s name. Critics have also lodged multiple reports against the women’s rights group as if they were somehow a threat to security.
But Sisters in Islam, informally formed in 1988 and officially registered in 1993, remains undeterred in their efforts to address the injustices and discrimination faced by Muslim women in the name of syariah.
In 2008, with researchers from Malaysian universities, they embarked on a study of the effects of polygamy. The results of the study, a first of its kind, were released in 2010. The study casts doubt on whether husbands in polygamous marriages are able to treat their wives and children equally as intoned by the Quran.
With their unwavering advocacy work, the group continues to fight for women’s rights within the Islamic framework, and they remain committed to demonstrating that Islam is a religion that is just, fair, merciful and compassionate.

Penan mother and child (Pic courtesy of Sofiya Israa)
The Penan Support Group (PSG)
In 2009, a government task force report confirmed that Penan women and children in Sarawak were raped and sexually abused by timber workers. The sexual violations were first revealed by the Bruno Manser Foundation in 2008.
It took the national task force a year to confirm the rapes and sexual abuse, including of children as young as 10, by truck drivers of timber companies. Despite the report and evidence, Sarawak government leaders repeatedly refuse to acknowledge the issue. No one has been arrested or charged with the crimes thus far, either.
Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have pooled their resources to form the Penan Support Group (PSG) to assist the Penan survivors and provide information to the police. The PSG, now comprising 36 NGOs, has been unwavering in its efforts to seek justice and support for the Penan. They kept the spotlight on the issue with their fact-finding mission and follow-up report, A Wider Context of Sexual Exploitation of Penan Women and Girls in Middle and Ulu Baram, Sarawak, where they detailed in Parliament that seven more Penan women had been sexually abused.
When their report was refuted by Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Heng Seai Kie, the PSG railed against these denials. Under an avalanche of denials and the attempts to sweep the Penan rapes under the carpet, the PSG’s continued work is critical in protecting vulnerable and marginalised Malaysians.

Gurmit Singh
Gurmit Singh
Centre of Environment, Technology and Development, Malaysia (Cetdem)
This environmental group celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Under the leadership of veteran environmentalist Gurmit Singh, Cetdem has been committed to promoting sustainable development by developing and maintaining projects that deal with energy, climate change and organic farming.
Indeed, the organisation began its Mobilising Malaysians on Climate Change project in 2002, long before climate change became a popular buzzword. Cetdem continues to organise seminars, the popular Hari Organik, and exhibitions, as well as critically examine national policies on development.
What’s next? It aims to establish a think-tank which will look at environmental solutions that marry sustainable development with green technology. It also plans to deepen its work on transportation issues, a pet subject and concern of Gurmit’s, who famously still relies on his bicycle and public transportation. With its insistence on practical technological and scientific solutions, as well as its community approach, Cetdem continues to do important work on sustainability.
The Green Surf Coalition
It was a question on many people’s minds: “Why are we building a coal power plant when we are moving towards a national green agenda?” Once some feisty environmentalists and passionate Sabahans found out that there were plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Lahad Datu, they sprung into action.
Galvanising green groups, NGOs and individuals, they formed the Green Surf Coalition. Their protests have been vocal and have used postcards, petitions, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. This anti-coal power coalition has not only shown what social media and networking can do to help get their message across, they have made inroads into Parliament. They managed to persuade Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to set aside time to debate the controversial plant in Sabah.
The 300MW plant was first proposed several years ago but cancelled twice due to protests. But now it’s been listed in the 10th Malaysia Plan as one of several high-impact projects to be completed by 2015. The plant is to be built near one of Sabah’s most pristine marine sites.
Green Surf’s protests appear to be making an impact. The prime minister himself said public views on the project would be sought. At the same time, coalition members are considering legal action over the plant. Whatever happens, we are guessing that Green Surf is not about to sit back quietly over the issue.

Khairy Jamaluddin
Merely bringing up his name raises all manner of debate on the state of politics and politicians in the country. But whether one likes, loathes or is indifferent towards Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, it is hard to ignore him.
After winning the coveted wing’s leadership, he went on to surprise and shock by doing the unthinkable within Umno: calling for his party to ditch “ketuanan Melayu” in favour of “Malay leadership”. He also argued for meritocracy and competition in the face of fundamentalist forces within and outside the party that continue to demand for “Malay rights”.
In his maiden policy speech as Umno youth head, Khairy urged Malay Malaysians to defend the rights of all Malaysians, saying this would only encourage mutual respect.
As a savvy user of social media networking, the politician has also engaged youths, critics and his political rivals within and outside of cyberspace. Through these engagements, Khairy continues to show that he isn’t what Malaysians might expect of a traditional ultra-Malay Umno Youth chief. He has even been openly critical of the cabinet, bluntly describing the cabinet’s decision to disallow local university students from joining political parties as “gutless” and “outdated”.
Whether it is a calculated crafting of a new image, or a genuine attempt to move beyond racial politics, Khairy is on our list for boldly going where no contemporary Umno politician has gone before.
Karpal Singh
Post-2008 saw a flurry of politicking, rhetoric and jostling among political parties in the changed political landscape. But one Tiger of Jelutong remained steadfast in his beliefs, often at odds with his colleagues.
In 2009, Karpal Singh said the DAP should seriously consider getting out of the Pakatan Rakyat after Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim openly encouraged crossovers. A lone voice in the DAP, he also said, “Anwar Ibrahim must repent for his action, and Pakatan Rakyat should look for a new leader and not one that promotes party hopping.”
That is not all. Staying true to his principles, he has also taken PAS and Anwar to task on the idea of an Islamic state, and called PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang an “embarassment” over proposed unity talks with Umno. And on 28 Aug 2010, Karpal once again remained adamant in his opposition to PAS’s suggestion that hudud could eventually be implemented in Malaysia.
A motor vehicle accident in 2005 has since left Karpal using a wheelchair and with neuromotor problems in his right arm. But personal adversity has not dampened the politician’s fervour for public duty. Whatever the topic, the politician has been consistent and vocal about his principles as a politician, no matter the risk.
Joshua Wong and Chou Z Lam
Two Malaysian journalists working within the confines of the controlled traditional media stood up for journalistic ethics and integrity at personal cost in 2010.
Joshua Wong, who was an ntv7 producer, quit the Umno-linked television network after network bosses opted to restrict his show from discussing several national issues because of political interference. He didn’t just quit, he also publicly spoke up against political controls within his newsroom.
Chou Z Lam, a TV2 producer, revealed that his nine-part documentary on the Bakun Dam’s social impact was taken off the air due to political interference. He was later fired.
Both have also spoken up about the serious problems of self-censorship in Malaysian journalism. The two have pretty much disassembled Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak‘s declaration that “the press is free to report on pretty much anything”.
Epic – Voice Your Choice
There are currently five million unregistered voters aged 30 and below. Instead of waiting for the Election Commission to make concrete efforts to encourage the young to vote, a group of youths known as Extraordinary People Impacting Community (Epic) decided to launch Voice Your Choice.
Originally a group predominantly focused on helping the Orang Asli, Epic is aiming to register two million voters by the next general election through Voice Your Choice. The project is targeting the younger generation.
Within months of the initiative’s launch in April 2010, the group managed to get 22,000 new Malaysian voters registered. Stressing that they are strictly nonpartisan, Epic has organised groups of volunteers to set up booths in high-traffic malls to register new voters. Will they be successful? Time will tell, but thanks to Epic, the ball has started rolling.

An Interview with the Karmapa Lama

Image(Asia Sentinel) Tibet's young lama seeks a role for Buddhism in environmentalism

Many in Dharamsala, India, the home of Tibetan Buddhism in exile, believe the 17th Karmapa Lama, whose name is Ogyen Trinley Dorje, represents the future of Tibetan politics in exile as well. He is extremely popular among young Tibetans, partly because of his 1999 escape from Chinese hands, but also because he possesses rare charisma. The Karmapa passes much of his time in the protected top floor of Gyuto Monastery near Dharamsala, guarded by Indian policemen and intelligence officers who keep a constant watch on his activities. He has busied himself by becoming increasingly knowledgeable about environmentalism.

The Indian government, virtually since the Karmapa Lama arrived in Dharamsala, has been careful to not annoy the Chinese by allowing him unfettered movement, although he was allowed to visit the US in 2008. Revered as the third-highest spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa escaped from Tibet and enraging the Chinese, who thought they were grooming him to be their docile face of the Tibetan religion.

Last year he established an environmental protection group - the Khoryug (Environment in the Tibetan language), a network of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries which have jointly made the commitment to help protect the Himalayan region from environmental degradation. The participating Kagyu Buddhist monasteries are carrying out environmental projects under his leadership from India, Nepal and Bhutan.

Calling it Eco-Buddhism - Pure Aspiration, Bodhisattva Activity and a Safe-Climate Future, the 25-year-old Tibetan monk's efforts are regarded as a Buddhist response to global warming. Tibet is the third-largest store of ice on Earth -- nicknamed the "third pole," and it is an endangered one The Himalayan region's glaciers are the source of drinking water for much of Asia. He is reaching out to his followers to seek to revive the ecological consciousness of the Tibetan people.

"In order to save the Himalayas and Tibet from the threats of deforestation, climate change, and pollution, we have to be full of courage and believe whole heartedly that this endeavor is winnable" he says. "The alternative is unthinkable".

The Karmapa Lama sat down in late July at his temporal residence in Dharamsala to talk about his life, activities, recent restrictions imposed, and his need to travel overseas. Excerpts from the interview follow.

Saransh Sehgal:
There has been great interest in your study of environmentalism, psychology and foreign languages. Is it because the restrictions on your overseas travel prompted you to spend energy on these subjects? What relations do you see between Buddhism and these subjects?

The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa:
Generally, there are many people using different languages and studying different languages is to overcome the lack of language skill and have clear communication when interacting with some of those people who come here; it is sad when misunderstandings remain with those people who come here from faraway places.

Therefore, I put my best efforts into having, at the least, formal conversations with them. Studying modern psychology and Tibetan Buddhism, with ancient and modern going hand in hand, is to deepen and brighten my knowledge. In the case of environmentalism, the environment has become an important issue and therefore it is important to understand it. I do all this voluntarily to fulfill my personal and social responsibilities of leading a society. It is not at all a new topic I had begun because of overseas travels.

You have been handling an environment protection group. What has the group actually done- what are the findings?

This environmental protection group we have here deals with basic issues such as raising environmental awareness, discussing environmental issues, finding and propagating the means and methods to protect the environment, waste management, cleaning the environment, the use of solar power for conservation of energy and planting trees. Generally speaking, we are able to raise new environmental awareness amongst our Tibetan community. What we have been doing deals with very basic issues; we have not yet reached a very high standard concerning protection of the environment.

Will you try to help Tibet and China tackle pollution problems?

Our hope and request, which I think is important, is to consider environmental issues such as disruption to the natural flow of rivers, harm to river ecosystems, shortages of water and floods in numerous localities caused by construction of hydro-electric dams on the rivers of Tibet. The two nations, India and China, the most populous in the world, are facing the problems of water shortage and floods. This is becoming a very big issue.
It is not at all appropriate to treat the issues on which the very existence of humanity depends as political issues. As environmental issues should not be political issue, I urge everyone to deal with them sincerely and responsibly for the sake of humanity.

Q: Recently you have been denied permission to travel to the west where your teachings are being requested by your dharma centers and followers. Can you explain how this affects you personally and what would you say to those devoted to you who are feeling very disappointed due to your political restrictions?

A: In a recent development, I was to visit Europe and then the United States. There are people who have been waiting for this to happen for 20 years. But when it didn't happen, it broke their heart. Therefore, I both directly and indirectly tried to comfort them; with spiritual means I tried to bring peace and stability to their minds and expressed to them my hope for a visit to happen in the very near future. It appears that they are still harboring huge hopes.

Were you given any particular reason for your trips to the west being canceled? If not - Is there a sense of frustration in you since most of your tours, well prepared by your followers, are being cancelled at the last minute without any reasons given by the Indian government?

I think you can ask government officers or other authorities about this. Maybe it's because the time allotted for the European trip is quite long; one month. Maybe this is a reason. This is a small reason, but perhaps for the main reason it would be best for you to ask them.

Is it due to pressure from Beijing?

A: I don't know. The one reason we were given is that it is not possible. For details you should ask the concerned government authorities.

Since your tour of Europe was refused in April, there has been a petition and campaign developed by some of your students in America to bring attention to your situation. How do you feel about your students taking an active role in bringing more awareness of your situation to the public?
A: As far as I understand, unlike we easterners, the westerners are strong-willed and have high hopes and expectations; with these characteristics they have undertaken such activities. Concerning the facts behind the cancellation, we have officially produced documents of clarification. Without clear knowledge of the situation and reasons given, and upon seeing me forbidden to make the trips, most of the westerners appear to have become worried.

Q: Can you explain why it is necessary for you to travel and teach the message of Buddhism and environmental studies to other centers outside India and Tibet?

A: Amongst the Tibetan Buddhist masters, the Sixteenth Karmapa was probably the first senior Tibetan master to visit western countries and establish dharma centers. He also sent disciples to establish dharma centers. He was the first to establish dharma centers propagating the Secret Vajrayana Vehicle in western countries. As the Sixteenth Karmapa visited western countries many times for the purpose of propagating the teaching, it is my responsibility to follow the path, and as the number of such dharma centers is much more than before, the need for making visits grows.

centers are not the only ones inviting me; there are universities, societies working in the field of Tibetan culture and religion, groups promoting interfaith dialogue, and organizations advocating protection of the environment who have also invited me. Being looked upon as a leader of a society, I intend to use these invitations as a platform for the expression of my views and for reminding people of the importance of issues such as environmental protection.

In Tibet, in the past, we did not have the necessary conditions for making trips to faraway places such as the west, but the lineage of Karmapa with its long history of around 900 years have been following a rule of performing activities by visiting various places in Tibet; not staying in a monastery but always in constant movement with tents as accommodation.

This manner of performing activities is a unique characteristic of the successive reincarnation of Karmapas. Not living in a specific place, but rather moving about everywhere and having face to face communication with disciples, has become a rule followed by Karmapas.

Would you play a role in finding the real successor of next Dalai Lama?

According to the tradition Dalai Lamas and Panchen Renpoches choose each other's successor; if a Dalai Lama has passed away whilst a Panchen Renpoche is alive, the latter will choose the reincarnation of the former, and if a Panchen Renpoche passes away whilst a Dalai Lama is alive, the Dalai Lama will choose reincarnation of the late Panchen Renpoche. This is the way the process of choosing reincarnations works.

What would you like to comment about the growing influence of China's picked Panchen Lama, Gyaincain Norbu?

I met him on many occasions when he was very young. After his maturity, I saw some videos of him; he is calm and humble. Quite recently, I saw a newspaper reporting His Holiness the Present Dalai Lama's hopes of him. For us, he is someone born as a Tibetan given the title of Panchen Renpoche by the Chinese government, and it is my hope that he will use the advantages he has to bring changes inside Tibet.

What direction do you see the dharma taking in the 21st century? As spiritual teachings and holy texts are said to be 'Living Words,' do you see Buddhist teachings growing and evolving?

In my opinion, in the 21st century mental peace has become a necessity; it is pursued even more strongly than before. It appears that everyone of this century is aspiring for inner peace much more strongly than before; it is not a matter of different religious beliefs. Being very profound and extensive in the practices related to the mind, Buddhism is full of skills to bring about mental happiness.

However, being a religion, for some individuals it is bit hard for some individuals to derive benefits from Buddhism. On one hand, one can follow Buddhism sincerely as a dedicated devotee, and on the other hand, in the 21st century, I think it is important to bring about a change to Buddhism and turn it into a social education, and not just remain as a religion, so that even non-Buddhists can study Buddhist teachings on bringing about mental peace and the practice of compassion.

I think it is important not to impose restrictions for them in doing so. For example, as a religious matter, in ancient times yoga was kept secret, as something that not everybody could practice. But now it has become open and accessible as a method to bring about physical health. Some of the skills that we Buddhists have, such as finding inner peace, and developing love and compassion, can be taken as general education.

The Dalai Lama has been in exile for more than 50 years, and we now see much less hope in seeing him return to Tibet. What about you? Do you see any hope for you to end your exile life?

As His Holiness the Dalai Lama always says, and I believe, truth will always prevail. It is the hope of, we, Tibetans to see His Holiness return to Tibet and for the nation to enjoy peace and happiness. If His Holiness is unable to return to Tibet after the nation gains some sort of independence, Tibetans will face a day of both happiness and sadness, and it will be a half fulfillment of our hopes. I have great hopes that His Holiness will return to Tibet, and being of young age I have a hope that I will be able to return to Tibet. Even if I have to wait for 50 more years, I will wait.

What advice would you give to young Buddhist practitioners who are concerned about the impact of recent environmental disasters?

The distance between humans and the environment is becoming wider and wider and likewise, we are bringing more and more harm to the environment by using it indiscriminately. Actually, before using the environment, we should think; it is very important to think of the consequences of indiscriminate destruction of the environment. Lack of mindfulness is creating a lot of problems.

Therefore, it is very important to be mindful of what we are using now and from where those resources come from. For example, sweet cheeps of birds and lush green forests are beauties; they are not something that we have created; rather those are naturally created beauties. However, if we cut down forests and harm animals, we are depriving ourselves of the natural beauties we enjoy; it is as if we are destroying the very sounds, smells and good tastes that we enjoy. Therefore, it is very important to be mindful.

Saransh Sehgal is a writer based in Dharamsala, India, who can be reached at e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

The ultimate Malaysian debate: Malaysia or Malaysaja?

By Nurul Izzah Anwar

AUG 31 — Perkasa claims to defend Malay rights in a multi racial Malaysia. And these Malay rights are inalienable, non-negotiable and permanent. Those that disagree with their interpretation of these Malays rights are deemed treacherous and should leave Malaysia.

In the spirit of Ramadhan and Merdeka, I would like to invite Perkasa to a Constructive Engagement for a new beginning for Malaysia with me.

I would like to ask Perkasa, several key questions to better understand, and together seek real solutions for the crisis it claims the Malays are facing.

I believe that Perkasa is the current vocal, and not necessarily the majority voice of the Malays. And by all indication, Perkasa is the alter-ego of Umno.

If Perkasa can be engaged constructively and a resolution found, then we would have answered the acid-test of Malay concerns once and for all?

To have an honest Constructive Engagement or dialogue, I suggest that we must decide on four fundamental principles.

First, we must base our dialogue on an agreed standard reference document. Should it be the Malaysian Constitution? The Umno constitution? Or the Perkasa constitution?

If we are unable to decide then our dialogue becomes futile and a monologue at best.

However, looking at how Perkasa continues to refer to Article 153 (even brandishing a copy of the constitution in media events) we can infer that the Constitution indeed is the preferred standard reference document for this dialogue.

Second, once we decide on the standard reference document, then we have to address the issue of constitutional interpretation?

For example, nowhere in the written constitution is it mentioned specifically of the existence of the term ‘Malay rights’. Instead the only term spelled out is the ‘Special Position’ of the Malays in Article 153.

The Article contains specifically, of the powers vested in the Yang di Pertuan Agong to ensure that places in the civil service and institutions of higher learning along with quotas in the allocation of scholarships, and permits or licences required for business and trade are reserved for the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

Another case in point is interpreting to reconcile the ‘Special Position’ of the Malays provisions with other non-Malay citizens with Article 8(1): “All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”; and Article 8(2): Except as expressly authorised by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.

It would be ideal to have a mandated entity such as a Constitutional Court or at least a Constitutional Council appointed by the King to act as the final interpreter of any constitutional issues.

The role of the King is central to the issue of constitutional interpretation, as Article 153 of the Constitution states that: “It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.”

However, it should be noted that the existing judiciary already acts as an interpreter of constitutional matters in Malaysia.

For the purpose of this dialogue, both sides can present their interpretation of the constitution to be rebutted subsequently.

Third, the dialogue be made public and presented to the people for feedback and validation.

Again, it would have been ideal if a Referendum Process is legalised whereby such fundamental issue can be decided and resolved by the citizens and made binding to all.

As an alternative, the public feedback for comments and recommendation mechanism through letters or the internet would have to do. It is not binding but it would be a measure of public participation, which can only enrich our democratic process.

Fourth, the dialogue format is suggested as follows, I shall submit my point of view in the form of this open article to Perkasa for a rebuttal, and also later for Perkasa to provide their version for my subsequent rebuttal.

The outcome shall be presented to the public for comments and recommendations.

Then as a test of sincerity I invite Perkasa to a Publicly Televised Debate.

Dialogue Safeguards

I propose both Perkasa and I will indemnify all political parties from our views.

Maybe Umno might disagree with Perkasa’s views or PR mine. And all political parties can participate at the comments and recommendations stage if it wishes.

To avoid being seditious, I propose that our views are qualified as an attempt to seek clarification and not to challenge or repeal the Constitution.

I believe that Perkasa and I are true Malaysians and Patriots, but that only our views may differ, hopefully for now.

However, if Perkasa refuses to engage on this matter at all, then it is sufficient for the people and history to judge this dialogue as my sincere attempt to reach out to them for the sake of our country.

My first question is; who is a Malay?

Article 160 of the Malaysian Constitution, defines Malay as being one who “professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, conforms to Malay customs and is the child of at least one parent who was born within the Federation of Malaysia before independence of Malaya on the 31st of August 1957.”

Therefore, constitutionally, a Malay is one who speaks the language, practices the religion of Islam, and performs the rights and rituals of its culture.

My question to Perkasa is, spiritually and intellectually, does a Malay accepts injustices, power abuse, corruption, racism, anti-democratic laws, state institutional degradation to ensure that the Malays are a Supreme Race in Malaysia, with first class citizenship privileges not to be shared with other non-Malay citizens?

My second question is; what are Malay rights?

Malay rights is an ideological and philosophical and not a legal and constitutional construct.

Article 153 only mentions the ‘Special Position’ of the Malays, and not the ‘Special Rights’ of the Malays.

The term Malay rights is alluding to the unwritten ‘Social Contract’ that defines a ‘Malay Agenda’ which has been extended to include the term ‘Malay rights’.

The Social Contract outlines certain privileges that the Malay community enjoys in exchange for granting citizenship rights to non-Malays during independence by the founding fathers as contained in Articles 14-18, Chapter 1 Part III- Citizenship, of the constitution.

These privileges collectively, are referred to as the ‘Malay Agenda’ which includes provisions on the status of Malay rulers to be preserved, with the head of state, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to be elected from His Majesties. Islam would be the national religion, and the Malay language would be the national language. The ‘Malay Agenda’ also includes provisions of economic privileges accorded by Article 153.

It is also pertinent to note, that according to the Reid Commission that drafted the constitution, Article 153 was intended as temporary preferences to seek racial parity, subject to be reviewed after 15 years by Parliament as to its continued need.

It then should have been reviewed in 1972 but was preceded by the 1969 race riots. Efforts were made, that no sunset clause be included for Article 153, and that under the Sedition Act (1971), it is illegal to be discussed even by Parliament.

These economic privileges in the aftermath of the 1969 race riots, was then institutionalised into the New Economic Policy (NEP) which was then extended as the New Development Policy (NDP) from 1990-2000 and currently we are in the final year of the 3rd Outline Perspective Plan (OPP3 2000-2010) which also includes the National Vision Policy.

However, we welcome the announced change from a race-based to a need-based affirmative action policy as outlined in NEM, but if past practices are any indication, the initial affirmative action stance along with an affiliation-based discrimination will still remain. We will continue to find that the actual wealth distribution will still be skewed to the cronies of the ruling elite.

This has become a ‘Malay Right and Entitlement’ and the cornerstone of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’, which continues to even overshadow the New Economic Model (NEM) initiated by the Najib government today.

My question to Perkasa is, has the concept of ‘Malay Rights’ now become a permanent convention that supersedes even the written constitution in policy and practice that has to be accepted by all non-Malay citizens?

My third question is; what is the Perceived ‘Malay Anger’ about?

Can it be that the ‘Malay Anger’ built on ‘Malay Insecurities’, may appear to be racist in form, but in essence is a ‘Malay Siege Mentality’ defensive reaction, to the failure in achieving the NEP goals (reborn as the NDP in 1990, followed by the OPP3 and refined as the current NEM) after 40 years of implementation?

Can it also be that the false sense of losing Malay Entitlement and Privileges has crystallised into a political ideology of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’, that further divides the nation?

Can it be that the Malays feel that they are getting poorer, marginalised and disillusioned in their own country in spite of the NEP and billions spent?

Can it really be that the ‘Malay Anger’ is conveniently blamed on the industry of the non-Malays and reformed minded Malays?

It seems that the ‘Malay Anger’ is centred on economic entitlements rather than on cultural, royalty, language, legal, educational, religious or political power deficiencies, where the Malay remains dominant and rightfully unchallenged, as seen from the official affirmative action policies, institutions and civil service population composition.

Could it be that the real question nagging the Malay psyche is, what then is the value and utility of having the Malay traditional dances, Royal institutions, Malay language, Malay medium schools, Federal and State Religious bodies, Syariah court system, civil service and the Federal and State governments remain dominantly Malay, when the Malay feels poor?

It is this imbalance of achievements that creates a dysfunctional Malay identity of being only Political Masters in name and not in wealth that keeps ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ alive.

The ‘Malay Anger’ is purposely focused on the dismal achievements of NEP goals and targets that is used as the justification to continue it ‘permanently’ at all cost and beyond reason.

Instead the angry Malays should focus on the diminishing ‘enabling’ factors to equitable and sustainable economic growth (as increasing the economic pie to achieve NEP targets is the main premise to wealth redistribution policies in NEP) caused by cronyism, corruption, wastages, leakages, wrong resource allocations (big projects phenomenon), racism, anti-democratic laws and state institutional degradation and abuse that in reality subverts and undermine achieving the well intended NEP goals.

My questions to Perkasa are;

Where does the real blame for the ‘Malay Anger’ lie? Is it with the NEP results or is it with its selective implementation, where only the ruling elite few and their cronies benefit to the detriment of the Malay majority?

How can Perkasa explain just one example, which is the well documented NEP leakage of RM52 billion in equities originally allocated to the Malays that have been sold off?

What impact has cronyism, corruption, wastages, leakages, wrong resource allocations (big projects phenomenon), racism, anti-democratic laws and state institutional degradation and abuse have in shaping the ‘Malay Anger’?

Who has really betrayed the ‘Malay Agenda and Malay Rights’?

My fourth and last question is; what is the end-game scenario that the unresolved ‘Malay Anger’ will lead to?

In my final analysis, only through free and fair elections that the people can decide if ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ or ‘Ketuanan Rakyat’ shall define Malaysia.

Once the next general election outcome is determined, and if ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is victorious, then some may choose to vote with their feet (emigrate with massive brain drain and a diminishing tax base), and some will choose to vote with their wallet (domestic capital flight compounded with decreasing FDI that further stunts our economic growth), which in turn will indicate the makings of a potential failed state with irreversible consequences.

What is left will be a shell of a former Malaysia that could have been a great example of a democratic and pluralistic nation to the world.

We are truly at a monumental cross-road for the soul of our nation.

As a reminder of a possible way forward out of this ‘Malay Dilemma’, a Malaysian statesman, the late Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman once argued that “the question (of the ‘Special Position’ of the Malays) be left to the Malays themselves because as more and more Malays became educated and gained self-confidence, they themselves would do away with this ‘special position’.” Ismail believed the special position was “a slur on the ability of the Malays.”

After 53 years, are we Malays not educated and self-confident yet?

After 53 years, are we Malays still ignorant to the real causes of our problems yet?

After 53 years, are we not Malay enough to act as the protector and provider of justice, equality, dignity, fraternity, liberty and peace for all who choose to co-exist as partners and fellow citizens yet?

In conclusion, we the Malays must stand up and do what is right for Malaysia and our children as they face the challenges of a competitive borderless world.

Would we be so blind and selfish to risk their future for our sins of the past and our deliberately induced insecurities of the present day?

Then my last question to Perkasa is; Will you allow our country to remain in name as Malaysia or be renamed as Malaysaja?

Towerting Malaysian of yesteryear

The Star

AS Malaysians celebrate Merdeka, I find myself thinking about the late James Puthucheary.

A giant of the Merdeka Generation, he was (among other things) an activist, intellectual and lawyer.

James was already a legend when I first met him at the legal firm of Skrine & Co back in 1987.

White-haired, Pickwick-ian and wry, few details escaped his observation.

As a former detainee of the British, Singaporean and Malaysian governments, he possessed an undeniable glamour for idealistic young lawyers.

Needless to say, when he talked about “Harry”, “Hussein”, “Mahathir” and “Keng Swee”, we all listened attentively.

As a very half-hearted lawyer baffled by contract law, I tended to shirk my work and disappear into James’ office.

He would regale me with stories about 50s and 60s politics and the latest updates on the turmoil in Umno as Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah struggled for control of the party.

One never gets tired of listening to him talk about his days as an Indian National Army officer or as a leader of the University Socialist Club at the University of Malaya in Singapore.

What strikes me now, as I reconstruct those conversations, was how truly Malaysian his life was.

It is true that he cut his political teeth in Singapore, where he was a founding member of the People’s Action Party.

Nevertheless, James was born in Johor and after his banishment from Singapore in 1963, resided here permanently.

In many ways, his biography reminds us of when the borders between Malaya and Singapore were fluid.

It also harkens back to a time when their men and women could speak their minds without fear or favour, and transcend ethnic, class and ideological barriers.

The collection of James’ writings, No Cowardly Past, which was re-launched this year, captures some of this ethos.

It reads almost like a yearbook of the Merdeka Generation, encompassing all sides of the political spectrum.

It was edited by his brother Dominic (a one-time Gerakan MP) and the outspoken academic Jomo K.S.

Pictures of James with Lim Chin Siong, Sydney Woodhull and Devan Nair are blended with the reminiscences of A. Samad Ismail.

There are mentions of his associations with the likes of Abdullah Ahmad, Phillip Kuok and others.

Tengku Razaleigh spoke at the launch of the book’s second edition.

This is a tribute not only to his greatness as a human being, but his uncanny ability to make friends from all walks of life.

It was a trait that many of his cohorts shared, which their successors — Malaysia’s current political and intellectual elite — have lost.

How many of our current leaders are truly Malaysian, rather than communal, sectional figures?

One struggles to name even a handful.

More disheartening is the fact that none of them can articulate ideas or policies like James did.

In his Who Owns Malaya and Significant Changes in Ownership and Control in the Malaysian Economy, he argued for state intervention to adjust the historical socio-economic imbalances in the country.

These principles later helped shape the New Economic Policy (NEP) of Tun Abdul Razak.

Unlike today’s Malay extremists however, James did not see the NEP as a permanent fixture.

Indeed, he believed that the “domination” of Malaysia’s economy by the Chinese was a myth, and that it was really the concentration of capital in foreign (i.e. British) hands that needed to be addressed.

Despite the nearly 40-year time gap, many of his contentions are still relevant.

He saw that communal-based parties — no matter how closely allied — would eventually fail to deliver on nation-building.

James, furthermore, worried about sectarianism creeping into our educational system, seeing the “... dangers of large sections of Chinese and Malay children spending very large parts of their formative years in communally separate compartments.

“The existence of two communal educational structures should be frightening to all those who believe that the country’s future is dependent on non-communal politics.”

We may disagree with his proposed solution to Malaysia’s problems: namely socialism, or rather social-democracy, but no one who looks at Malaysia today can deny that his writings have an eerie, prophetic ring to them.

What’s saddening is that we have not only disregarded his warnings, but also rejected the liberal, accepting and pluralistic legacy of Malaya and Malaysia’s founding fathers.

Towering Malaysians like James have been replaced by minnows.

Nevertheless, I still have hope that this land, which gave birth to James and others like him, may see the rise of young people who can move it forward.

I keep this hope alive in my heart, like so many other Malaysians waiting for a better tomorrow.

And while we wait, let us honour the memory of James Puthucheary.

Probe into leak of text messages, phone calls

The New Straits Times 
By Aidi Amin, Maizatul Ranai and Rozanna Latiff

KUALA LUMPUR: The alleged leak of confidential text messages and telephone conversations of a woman is now being probed by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

The MCMC is checking to ascertain if the telecommunication company had committed any offence.

The directive to investigate came from Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim who said this case must be seen as a wake-up call for all telcos.

"Call details and SMSes should never be released unless the customer's security is at risk," Dr Rais told the New Straits Times.

He was commenting on the RM20 million suit by Noor Haslina Abdullah, the chief executive officer of a private college in Terengganu, against the service provider, Celcom Axiata Bhd.

On Sunday, Noor Haslina had filed a suit against Celcom for allegedly releasing her private text messages and telephone exchanges with third parties.

"I am monitoring the situation closely as this is a serious allegation," Dr Rais said, adding that telcos must be careful when it comes to their customers' privacy.

Meanwhile, Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan said the release of private information should only be made through a court order or by a law enforcement agency.

"Private information should never be given out, not even to third party marketing agencies," Ragunath said.

He also called for an extension of the Personal Data Protection Bill to better protect the privacy of an individual.

While he welcomed the passage of the bill in April, he said the provisions were limited as they only protected information used in commercial transactions.

"Nowadays, many people will provide personal information in all sorts of situations, including on websites and social networks.

"We need a specific law to ensure this information will not be released or abused."

Ragunath added that the leak of an individual's personal information without his or her consent, or a request from a law enforcement agency, was a breach of contract which warranted severe penalties.

In her statement of claim, Noor Haslina, 39, said she suffered mental trauma as a result of the incident.

Noor Haslina had alleged that when she arrived at her office on March 11, she received a package which contained nine A4-size pages with information on her SMS exchanges and a pen drive containing recordings of her telephone conversations.

She lodged a police report several days later and filed the suit when there was allegedly no response from the telco.

Merdeka! Oppressive laws must go

By Anil Netto,

Happy Merdeka, folks! It’s time once more to reflect on the state of our nation and where we are at the moment.

We have much to be thankful for. Despite the best attempts of certain quarters to divide us on the basis of race and religion, Malaysians by and large haven’t fallen for the bait. We have grown into maturity and can now see through such diabolical tactics.

Nonetheless, there are still issues that require sober reflection. The watershed elections of 2008 promised to renew our nation. But that remains very much a work-in-progress. Thirty months later, oppressive laws are still etched in our statute books. Laws such as the ISA and the Printing Presses and Publications Act, for instance.

This blog is part of a nationwide campaign on blogosphere today to get rid of the undemocratic PPPA. Lately, it’s not just opposition newspapers that have felt the repressive provisions of this law, but cartoon books as well!

Without freedom of the media and of expression, we cannot move forward and articulate progressive and creative ideas to rejuvenate our nation. We are unable to promote a wider, healthier debate on the issues that matter to the people. We are unable to highlight to a broader audience the corruption and economic hegemony that leaves many residents of Malaysia struggling to make ends meet.

As long as oppressive laws remain in our statute books, we will not realise the full vision of independence, freedom and justice that Merdeka promised. We cannot leave the task or renewal and reform to the politicians alone. All of us have a stake in this. We must get involved in the movement for justice and renewal. For a start, this Merdeka, let’s call for the scrapping of the oppressive PPPA.

Deadly shooting in Slovak capital

The motive of the shooting in Bratislava was unclear [AFP]
An armed man has killed seven people and wounded at least 14 others in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.
The assailant was believed to be a 50-year-old man, although his identity is unconfirmed. Police said he killed himself after the shooting.
"He was alone. He fired at everything that moved during his escape bid, the policemen surrounded him ... they made it impossible for him to escape," Jaroslav Spisiak, the police president, said.
Six of the dead were believed to be members of the same Roma family.
The motive of the shooting was unclear.
Child injured
Dominika Sulkova, from the country's rescue service, said the shooting occured at around 10am (08:00 GMT) in the morning.

She said that a three-year-old child was among the injured, although his or her life was not under threat.
Emergency crews were on the scene and authorities were urging people to stay indoors.
Darius Haraksin, a reporter for TV JOJ in Bratislava, told Al Jazeera: "The first part of the incident was that the gunman went to his neighbour's [flat] and killed five or six people in one flat.
"Later on he went outside the building and started shooting on everything he saw. The incident took 50 to 55 mins ... there was big chaos."
Area sealed off
Marta Vozbranukova, a teacher working at a kindergarten close to the scene, told the AFP news agency: "I saw an older man carrying an automatic gun walking towards a prefab house.
"After a while, an injured man of a Roma origin, whose family lives in the house, ran out and fell on the ground where the gunman shot him two or three more times.
"The gunman then started shooting on the street."
Vozbranukova said that the there were no children in the kindergarten at the time.
The Devinska Nova Ves district of Bratislava, where the shooting took place, was sealed off by police roadblocks, TV-channel TA3 reported.
Slovakia experienced some shooting incidents involving criminal gangs in the 1990s, but has had no large-scale shootings in recent years.

Nurul Izzah goes to KDN

Doctor acquitted of murdering wife

Dr Jitweer Singh Ojagar Singh
Happy Merdeka. What a great Merdeka gift!
Those were the first public comments made by a doctor after he was discharged and acquitted by the High Court for murdering his 46-year-old wife at their home in Rawang three years ago

Judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamed made the decision in the case against general practitioner Dr Jitweer Singh Ojagar Singh, 56, (pic).
Jitweer was charged on July 24, 2008, with the murder of Shento Kaur Jaswant Singh, 46, in a house in Bandar Country Homes, Rawang.
He was alleged to have killed her between 7pm and 10am on Oct 22, 2007.
Asmabi concluded there were too many gaps in the prosecution's case and that the cause of death could not be substantiated beyond that it was due to pressure on the victim's neck.
She said the prosecution also failed to link the accused to the murder.
By not presenting the couple's driver and maid as witnesses, the judge said the prosecution failed to fill the gaps.
Jitweer, who had been on RM400,000 bail since September, looked restrained despite his acquittal. His lead counsel, Karpal Singh, said they would file for damages against the Public Prosecutor and the government following the acquittal.
He said because Dr Jitweer managed to obtain bail, it showed the prosecution had lacked evidence to make their case.
Karpal said no one should be charged without incriminating evidence.
Dr Jitweer said since he had been on bail, he had been working at his clinic in Rawang and taking care of his three children — a 20-year-old son and 10-year-old twins.