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Wednesday, September 15, 2010


By Muralitharan Ramachandran -

First and foremost let us pray for Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya and her three friends for their souls to attain eternal peace. It is indeed sad this incident took place during the holy month for the muslims. The whole nation regardless of ethnics is grieved by these gruesome murders. While police are conducting investigations, certain quarters of them are using these gruesome murders to generate racial tension among Malaysians.

It is indeed poignant to see media like Utusan Malaysia (14/09/10) which carried headline news which linked one of those detained who is a lawyer by profession as giving legal aid to Hindraf. This statement is rather seditious and could affect racial harmony and disunity among Indians and Malays in this country. The question here is, the police are not even over and done with their investigations, so how did Utusan Malaysia get a hold of this information? Main stream media like Utusan Malaysia should play an important role on emphasizing racial harmony and unity among Malaysians. They should pursue stringent journalism ethics by not publishing seditious and fictional statements such as above.

As for the main stream Media Utusan Malaysia, they are not first timers in these kind of issue. Numerous police reports were lodged against them but were fruitless. Another question here, are the relevant authorities blind or blind folded for certain reason? There are also other blogs on the internet which is aggravating racial disunity using this grisly occurrence. Their motives are clear and it is obvious that these irresponsible people are all out to construct racial pressure among Malaysians. It’s time the relevant establishment steps in and put an end to this state of affairs. These Internet blogs and main stream media should be given ruthless punishment.

Malaysians out there please think outside the box and don’t craft anymore racial disharmonies as lot of damages have been done by immature selfless people and organizations in the name of race and religion which has turned the nation into disarray. Let us give moral support to the families of the deceased and let justice triumph

Umno at odds with race-tolerant world, says HRP

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Party (HRP) today congratulated Malaysia-born Penny Wong for her appointment as Australia’s new finance minister and used the occasion to denounce the current Malaysian government as racist and out of tune with the times.
HRP pro-tem secretary-general P Uthayakumar said Wong’s appointment yesterday to the Australian cabinet was part of a global tide against racial and religious prejudice.

“Sadly, though, this will never happen in our 1Malaysia,” he said.

“The whole world is now going against racist and religious supremacy, except our Umno-ruled 1Malaysia.”

Uthayakumar, a former ISA detainee, is also the legal advisor for Hindraf Makkal Sakti.

He also criticised Pakatan Rakyat parties for similarly going against the global trend.

He said Malaysia was not only bucking current trends but also going against its own admirable history of appointing officials without reference to their racial or religious backgrounds.

He recalled that the first minister of education of the yet-to-be-independent Malaya in 1955 was Clough Thuraisangam and that in post-independence Malaya the first two finance ministers were Tan Cheng Lock and Tun Tan Siew Sin, the first navy chief was Rear Admiral K Thanabalasingam, the first chief justice was CS Gill and the first governor of Malacca was Leong Yew Koh.

“And the list goes on if one were to refresh one’s memory on the number non-Malay or non-Muslim CPOs, OCPDs, district officers and council mayors,” he said.

“This cannot happen again in Umno’s 1Malaysia.”

To illustrate his assertion that the rest of the world was moving away from racial and religious prejudice, he mentioned, among other personalities, former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, former US secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, former Tamil Nadu governor Fatima Beevi, former Indian presidents Zakir Hussin and APJ Abdul Kalam and several Singapore presidents and foreign ministers.

“But most intriguing is that the current president of the world’s most powerful nation, the United States, is a black with a Muslim name,” he added.

He alleged that in contemporary Malaysia “even sixth-generation Malaysia-born Indians could only dream” of becoming national school headmasters, postmasters, district officers or “even assistant district officers”.

Turning his ire on Pakatan Rakyat, he said “Pakatan Indian exco mandores in Selangor, Penang, Kedah and previously Perak” all held only the minor portfolios such as welfare, labour and community activities.

“Why don’t Pakatan governments give them more significant local government, finance or land portfolios even when they qualify?”

He blasted Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for not elevating the highly qualified political scientist P Ramasamy to the post of Deputy Chief Minister 1 instead of maintaining him as Deputy Chief Minister 2.

He charged that Lim did not promote Ramasamy when Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin resigned in April last year because “he was merely a politically powerless ethnic minority Indian”.

French senate approves burqa ban

A woman wearing a niqab veil participates in a protest against a ban earlier this year in Tours, central France. 

A woman wearing a niqab veil participates in a protest 
against a ban earlier this year in Tours, central France.
Paris, France (CNN) -- The French senate approved Tuesday a law banning any veils that cover the face -- including the burqa, the full-body covering worn by some Muslim women -- making France the first European country to plan such a measure.

The law passed by a vote of 246 to 1, with about 100 abstentions coming essentially from left-leaning politicians.

The legislation was overwhelmingly approved by the lower house of parliament in July and will go into effect next spring.

French people back the ban by a margin of more than four to one, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found in a survey earlier this year.

Some 82 percent of people polled approved of a ban, while 17 percent disapproved. That was the widest support the Washington-based think tank found in any of the five countries it surveyed.

Clear majorities also backed burqa bans in Germany, Britain and Spain, while two out of three Americans opposed it, the survey found.

A panel of French lawmakers recommended a ban last year, and lawmakers unanimously passed a non-binding resolution in May calling the full-face veil contrary to the laws of the nation.

"Given the damage it produces on those rules which allow the life in community, ensure the dignity of the person and equality between sexes, this practice, even if it is voluntary, cannot be tolerated in any public place," the French government said when it sent the measure to parliament in May.

The law imposes a fine of 150 euros ($190) and/or a citizenship course as punishment for wearing a face-covering veil. Forcing a woman to wear a niqab or a burqa will be punishable by a year in prison or a 15,000-euro ($19,000) fine, the government said, calling it "a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil."

The French Council of State has warned that the ban could be incompatible with international human rights laws and the country's own constitution. The council advises on laws, but the government is not required to follow its recommendations.

The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes. The hijab, which covers the hair and neck but not the face, and the chador, which covers the body but not the face, apparently are not banned by the law.

However, a 2004 law in France bans the wearing or displaying of overt religious symbols in schools -- including the wearing of headscarves by schoolgirls.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that France has about 3.5 million Muslims, or about 6 percent of the population.

France does not keep its own statistics on religious affiliation of the population, in keeping with its laws requiring the state to be strictly secular.

Zaid warns PKR to change leaders or turn into Umno

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Leading contender for the PKR deputy presidency contest Datuk Zaid Ibrahim warned its members today that the party risks turning into another Umno unless there is a leadership change.

The former de facto law minister, who was sacked from Umno in late 2008, said PKR has been plagued with problems such as defection of lawmakers which is not faced by its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners DAP and PAS.

”Everyone says PKR is a weak party,” said Zaid in an interview published in today’s edition of Sin Chew Daily.

The former Kota Bahru MP who joined PKR in June last year said the party has lost its original direction and risks becoming the ‘second Umno’.

He claimed PKR is facing the same problems as Umno and Malaysia and so a leadership change is needed for improvement.

“If you (members) want these problems to continue, you can elect the same leadership. If you want changes, you have to change the leaders. The same leaders will result in the same problems,” said Zaid who coordinated the framing of PR’s common policy platform, launched in December last year.

Zaid is supporting party de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to contest the party presidency in order to legitimise his position as the PKR chief.

Supporters of another contender, Azmin Ali, however want the status quo to be maintained with Anwar continue holding the unelected position while his wife Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail serves as president.

Anwar had said that he would decline nomination to contest in the party polls.

The post of de facto leader was created after party election 2007 as a compromise between two groups who wanted Anwar to contest the presidency and the other who were against it, fearing that the party would be deregistered as the former deputy prime minister was at that time banned from holding any elected political posts.

The ban expired in April 2008.

Zaid previously alleged that since announcing his intention to contest late last month, his loyalty to the party has been questioned and he was also accused of working for former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin to destroy PKR.

He also claimed that he was warned that he risk being “buried” — the way the late Tun Ghafar Baba had been in the 1993 Umno party election — if he chooses to stay in the race.

Then, Ghafar only received four nominations in that contest and withdrew from the race in favour of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Some 400,000 PKR members will vote beginning this weekend until November 21.

The party amended its constitution last year allowing all members to vote for divisional leaders and the 25 members of the central leadership council — including the president, deputy president and four vice-presidents.

The party’s 218 divisions will hold two separate meetings: One for the annual general meeting and election of divisional leaders, and a second meeting to vote for national leaders.

The divisions will vote for national leaders over several weekends, from October 29 to November 21.

- The Malaysian Insider

Malaysia -- a nation shrouded in sensitivity

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today

SPECIAL REPORT KUALA LUMPUR: In Malaysia “sensitivity” isn't just a word. It is a way of life; an ideology that warily circumvents the country's political, economic and social spheres.
Such guardedness is inherent in a nation with a mixed racial and religious population, but the practice of sterilising and reshaping thoughts and ideas for the sake of keeping the peace may be backfiring on us.

The tip-toeing around “sensitive issues” originated at a time when Malaysia was still testing its multiracial waters. The formation of a young nation meant placing freedom of expression as a secondary priority to national unity and the invisible lines were honoured for this very reason.

Fifty-three years on and those lines have spread and hardened to create boundaries that silence the country's growing number of dissenting voices. While the length of the leash on freedom of expression heavily depends on which side of the political divide one is on, “sensitivity” remains at the root of every discourse.

In short, you are either gagged for broaching a sensitive issue or given free rein to speak your mind because your sensitivity has been breached.

The question that begs an answer, therefore, is whether our learned sensitivity requires a restriction on freedom of expression or whether the restriction itself has enhanced our sensitivity.

HR Dipendra, project coordinator of the SEA Media Legal Defence Network, believes it is the former.

“This sensitivity has restricted the development of thought and hampered the ability to think critically,” he explained. “So when confronted by controversial topics, many Malaysians will either shy away or unwittingly tread on toes.”

Dipendra described the first group as using “sensitivity” as an excuse for their inability to engage in critical discussions. Most of the critical thinkers, he noted, are a handful who reside within the Klang Valley.

Danger zones
The population beyond the urban landscape is either devoid of an opinion or is afraid to vocalise it for fear of being offensive. While the passivity is alarming, more concern should be reserved for the second group.

“This group recognises its right to freedom of expression but doesn't understand how to exercise it responsibly,” Dipendra said. “It lacks the intellectual creativity to put forth critically constructive comments and resort to stereotypes and insults to get its point across, which only serves to justify the government's clampdown on freedom of expression.”

Dipendra confided that his biggest concern is this set of people who allow their overwhelming frustrations to blind them to the danger zones. He chose controversial rapper Wee Meng Chee, better known as Namewee, as an example.

Wee shot to popularity in 2007 after releasing a song which purportedly ridiculed the national anthem and the Islamic call to prayer. Last month he made headlines again with another music video in which he was accused of making seditious remarks. The latest video also contained his trademark utterances of vulgarities and obscenities.

“I feel that Namewee had actually exercised some restraint in that video,” Dipendra laughed before resuming seriousness. “But if given a choice, he would have been more inflammatory and a wildfire would have started.”

“These people are turning to music and writing as an outlet to express themselves because there is a lack of discourse from the government,” he pointed out. “It's always the civil society that reaches out for a dialogue. We don't live in caves, we live in a globalised world. If we can't talk of basic things, then why do we even exist?”

Indeed it was talk of the basics that landed actor and radio personality Patrick Teoh in trouble with the authorities during his tenure at the now defunct Radio Four.

Teoh had fielded a phone call from a listener who related his experience with an allegedly corrupt policeman. The broadcast of that conversation led to a police report being filed against Teoh and the ensuing “interviews” at the police station. Yet Teoh maintains that he had more room to breathe than the radio announcers today.

“I could raise and talk about issues more openly but the broadcasts on Radio Four weren't exactly earth-shattering,” he quipped. “My show consisted mainly of my opinion and those of the average Malaysian on what was already published in the mainstream media. But I daresay that back then, things were not as sensitive as it is now. Much of what I discussed on air would never been given the green light today.”

98.8 FM DJ Jamaluddin Ibrahim recently found that out the hard way. The popular Chinese-speaking DJ was given the boot after being accused of discussing too many “sensitive issues” on air. While his sacking has been widely speculated to be politically motivated, it also underscores the staggering power that “sensitivity” wields.

Constant harping

Teoh, however, pins the blame for this sensitivity on the constant harping by the government for Malaysians to be tolerant rather than understanding of each other.

“We have always been a racist society,” he declared. “But we kept our racism contained within a trusted circle of friends where our remarks were considered funny instead of offensive. There was no exaggerated sensitivity because we understood each other.”

“Then after May 13 the government demanded that we tolerate each other because we are so different. But unlike understanding, tolerance has a shorter lifespan which means it can run out and from the looks of things, that could be fairly soon.”

Political analyst Dr Ong Kian Ming agreed that the May 13 riots has been used as a justification to impose restrictions on the freedom of expression and turn Malaysia into a sensitive society.

“I think people are much more willing to discuss so-called sensitive matters in a way that is rational and constructive,” he added. “It is when certain politicians use these issues to up the ante that emotions are riled up. The solution is not to have further restrictions but to encourage an environment where 'extremist' politicians are punished electorally.”

Ong also supported Dipendra's observation of the link between sensitivity and the lack of critical thinking.

“I blame the authorities in power, the politicians and the education system for this. With the proper environment, our multicultural society should encourage rather than restrict debate and engagement on different ideas and belief systems.”

Here, Dipendra mused that our multicultural society may very well be the breeding ground of our sensitivity. In his opinion, the fact that we're not a homogeneous society has robbed us of a common agenda to move forward together.

Malaysian gene

Interestingly enough, Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew touched on this very same sentiment in his interview with the International Herald Tribune three years ago.

In that interview, he acknowledged that Singapore didn't have the “ingredients of a nation, the elementary factors... a homogeneous population, common language, common culture and common destiny”.

This further heightened Lee's awareness of the challenge that lay before him to “create and develop a stable and prosperous nation that was always on guard against conflict within its mixed population”.

“The Malaysian gene also plays an important role,” Dipendra added. “Our forefathers were traders who came to this country in search of economic prosperity. Freedom of expression was not on their agenda unlike that of the generations after them. So what we have on our hands is an ideological battle between the old guard and the new order.”

Anwar to campaign for Azmin in Sabah?

By FMT Staff

KOTA KINABALU: PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim and vice-president Azmin Ali are in Sabah today, prompting a blogger to question if the duo plan to hit the campaign trail.

Gombak MP Azmin is regarded as the opposition leader's protege and despite remaining above the fray on the surface, it is widely speculated that Anwar wants him to be the next deputy president.

However, the plan has hit a snag in the form of supreme council member Zaid Ibrahim, who has announced his interest to vie for the post.

Commenting on the duo's visit to Sabah, blogger Haris Ibrahim asked: “Is Anwar campaigning for Azmin already?”

Azmin is yet to announce his candidacy, but Zaid has hinted that the former is already pulling out Umno-like weapons from his arsenal to undermine the latter's chances.

According to Haris, the Anwar-Azmin tag team's first stop is Tuaran, where the current division chief Ansari Abdullah is facing an uphill battle to retain his post.

Describing him as Anwar's “chosen Muslim poster boy”, the blogger said Ansari is being challenged by Edward Linggu, who is aligned to Sabah PKR strongman Jeffrey Kitingan.

Next stop - 'Jeffrey's territory'
On Malaysia Day (Thursday), Haris said the pair is scheduled to visit Keningau, which is “Jeffrey Kitingan territory”.

“Both Anwar and Azmin can expect the best of Sabah hospitality, I’m informed,” he added in a sarcastic referrence to the tension in Sabah PKR.

Recently, the PKR disciplinary board hauled up 12 local leaders aligned to Jeffrey over their role in the aborted attempt to form a splinter party called Parti Cinta Malaysia.

Following this, the supreme council suspended three division leaders and issued a stern warning to the remaining nine.

A livid Jeffrey then accused Anwar of reneging on his word that no action will be taken. The promise was made during the peace talks held last year to diffuse the leadership crisis.

The PKR leadership claimed that during the negotiations, it was under the impression that the rebel group was contemplating on forming a new party and was not aware that an application had been submitted to the Registrar of Societies.

However, Jeffrey rubbished this argument.

Following the visit to Keningau, Haris said Anwar will return to the peninsula while Azmin will take his campaign into neighbouring Sarawak.

Meanwhile, party insiders said if it is true that Anwar will be campaigning for Azmin in Sabah, this means that PKR and its boss do not practise what is preached.

“Why gloat about having free and fair elections when such tactics are used to cull opponents. The code of conduct states that nobody should abuse their position and power to sway votes.”

Observers also noted that the bitter battle shaping up between Azmin and Zaid is similar to Umno's political culture and does not bode well for PKR's image.

Then again, said insiders, Anwar, Azmin and Zaid are all products of Umno.

Yesterday, incumbent deputy president Syed Husin Ali announced that he will not be defending his post during November's elections.

Zaid denies being backed by businessman

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today

KUAL A LUMPUR: Zaid Ibrahim has hotly refuted allegations that he is being financially backed by a businessman to infiltrate and destroy PKR.
In his latest blog posting, the PKR supreme council member asserted that he has no links with businessman Soh Chee Wen whom he claimed to have only met nine months ago.

Soh was charged in May 2002 with abetment in submitting false information to the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. He is also known for accusing former transport minister Dr Ling Liong Sik of being involved in corruption, cronyism and nepotism.

“Yesterday, Selangor PKR deputy chief Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud warned of enemies within the party but he didn't mention any names or numbers,” Zaid said. “Since the party elections began, the term 'enemy within' has often been heard. I suppose this refers to anyone who has offered his services without the necessary blessings.”

Zaid, who flew in to Kuching yesterday to hear the High Court's decision on case involving native land, said that even party leaders there had questioned his loyalty.

“Is this what the campaign has resorted to? Calling me a traitor and a greenhorn?” he asked in disgust. “As far as I know, Chee Wen is a close friend of Anwar's and has been of assistance to PKR. (PKR vice-president) Azmin Ali, Syed Shahrir and (Johor PKR chief) Chua Jui Meng all know this.”

“So I find it highly peculiar that Chee Wen is being portrayed as the enemy because he is now friends with me when all throughout his friendship with Anwar, he was a viewed as the good guy.”

The election campaign issue, according to Zaid, is very straightforward. If party members are satisfied with PKR's current standing and believe that all its problems and weaknesses are Umno's doing, then he strongly encourages them to choose their leaders from the existing stable.

“I will only step forward if the members are looking for an alternative,” he reiterated. “And I will only explain why I can be an asset to the party if I receive a nomination.”

In the same breath, however, he poured cold water on the very position he has set his sights on.

“In Malaysian politics, the role of the number two is solely for the name and the glamour. So being party deputy president doesn't come with much power. What more in PKR where even the top position doesn't have the power that is in the hands of the de facto leader. So I really don't understand all the fuss over this number two post.”

Tee Keat soldiers on – with or without MCA

By Teoh El Sen - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Politics aside, former transport minister and ex-MCA president Ong Tee Keat is a down-to-earth kind of guy.
That's why these days, the Pandan MP has been going to the ground to serve not only his constituents, but also the public at large, living up to his new catchphrase: "My commitment is to the people. It remains unchanged."

Ong is steadfast in this public duty despite talk that he could be dropped as an MCA candidate in the Pandan seat in the next general election.

In the last of a three-part interview with FMT, Ong said he now has more time to go back to, and focus on, the type of community work that he loves doing all this while -- with or without the support of his party.

He said he is now using the NGO platform – notably Yayasan Bakti Nusa – in spearheading more community programmes of late.

Ong is continuing his efforts in HOPE (Higher Opportunities for Private Education), an initiative to help students who failed to get into public universities to obtain places at private universities at subsidised rates.

He is also launching another project called TRAIN (Technical Resource and Internship Network), a vocational training programme for school leavers and dropouts.

Apart from his popular weekly mobile clinic project in Pandan, Ong also recently started a baby hatch project to save abandoned babies and a “city survival” programme to help women cope with urban living.

Of late, Ong is spending more time indulging in his hobby – reading. He has also taken up a new "job" as a columnist for several news outlets.

Below are excerpts of the interview:

FMT: Since your departure as transport minister, how have you been spending your time in your Pandan constituency?
In the past months since I left, I've been spending more time in my constituency doing community work largely conducted by Yayasan Bakti Nusa Malaysia.

I am still playing the role of executive adviser to Yayasan Bakti Nusa (an NGO formed more than 10 years ago). On top of that, of late, I have just started my column for the Malay, Chinese and English media. On and off, I also find time to pursue my hobby -- reading. Not just politics but also memoirs of celebrities, especially political celebrities. That is how I spend my time.

Can you elaborate more on these 'NGO activities' by Yayasan Bakti Nusa?
When I was serving as a deputy minister some years ago, I had conceived the idea of enhancing access to local university education. Through a programme known as HOPE (, we have formed a committee to monitor the intake of 16 private universities. If they still have excess seats available, we will help students who failed to gain entry into public universities to enrol in anyone of these private institutions. Their subsidised tuition fees are comparable to those of public universities. Thus, we are offering a second chance to those who didn't get into public universities.

So this HOPE programme is still ongoing?
Yes it is. We introduced this on Jan 1, 2007, with the 16 participating universities. To date, we have more than 1,000 students sponsored under the HOPE programme.

So this is really something close to your heart?
Yes, certainly. Now we are undertaking a second phase: we are taking in SPM and UEC students instead of only STPM students. (The UEC exam is for Chinese independant schools.) For those students who can't afford the subsidised rate, we can assist them to apply for the government-sponsored National Higher Education Fund Corporation loans.

There is another initiative of yours called TRAIN (Technical Resource and Internship Network). Could you tell us more about this?
TRAIN is not train coaches. But it is a new manpower or vocational training programme specifically meant for dropouts or school leavers. We know that the dropouts will not be taken in by government-run vocational schools which require an SPM qualification. But dropouts, especially those who don't have adequate proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia and English, are the people left in the lurch. TRAIN ( provides courses to enable them to acquire entrepreneurial skills so that they can secure a better livelihood.

I am going to launch a new phase after Hari Raya. Some of the courses are conducted in Mandarin, some in Bahasa... it depends on the needs of the students.
What we want to make sure is that the early school leavers have a platform to acquire the necessary skills in a language they are comfortable in. Because if you were to conduct courses in a language they don't understand, it will defeat the purpose.

Where is TRAIN based and how many students do you have?

This is just the beginning... when we enter the new phase, it would be more realistic for us to announce the figures. So far, we have managed to take in more than 200 students. Currently, TRAIN is based in the Klang Valley, but we want to have more training personnel to join us.

How and why were HOPE and TRAIN conceived?

I was prompted to start these two programmes as a result of my own personal experience. When I was 13, I nearly became a dropout and joined the child labour force. This was because my dad suddenly passed away.

Those days we needed to pay school fees and we struggled. I had gone through all this with my brother so I know it is extremely challenging. My elder brother was a dropout and throughout his working life as an electrician, he never got his skills certified just because of his lack of proficiency in Bahasa and English. He is now retired.
So, you may have the working experience, but you still can get nowhere. I have seen enough cases like this in our community. I wanted to make sure this was changed.

As for HOPE, when I served as the MCA Youth chief, every year without fail, throngs of students came to us to seek our help because they couldn't get into local public universities. We have to register their names and bring up their cases to the authorities. But I don't really believe in fighting endless battles, so I started HOPE.

Where does the funding of these projects come from?
We started from very limited funds. We don't have the hard cash to meet the demands of each and every person. But the participating universities are subsidising; after all, we are using their excess, unused seats and they had agreed to do this as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility or community service inititiative.

What other programmes are you working on?
I started two other social intervention programmes for women and children. First is the city survival programme meant for women and second is the life-saving project for abandoned babies.

Are there many baby-dumping cases in Pandan and why are you teaching women about city survival?
Not only in Pandan but also in the greater Kuala Lumpur and Ampang Jaya. When I thought about these two programmes, I had in mind not only Pandan but also the country as a whole. It is going to be a series of nationwide programmes. This is not going to be a political (undertaking) but based on humanitarian grounds. It is imperative for us to do something about this.

We are focused on life-saving because we don't want to get embroiled in age-old polemics of whether it is moral or immoral to abandon babies. Suffice to say, we are concerned about saving lives.
As for city survival, women need to learn to be more streetwise and be given sufficient knowledge and information on the latest developments in the crime scene.

Is this your own brainchild or are you getting help from the MCA, or is this strictly NGO work?
I would say that is my brainchild. At the same time I am aided by my NGO friends, who would often engage in a brainstorming session with me over lunch.
When I was vice-president, I brought these programmes to the MCA, but I must admit that at that material time, it did not seem to attract much attention from the MCA leaders.

With or without their participation, we managed to kickstart this programme without any financial aid from the government. But I did not brag about this.
Also, in each constituency, we have a committee under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development called the Council of Welfare and Social Development (Mayang). I am the chairman of Pandan Mayang. When I am asked time and again if I would party-hop, I would answer that my loyalty is to the people. When I say this, it's not platitude and neither is it rhetorical. I mean business. Even without a ministerial post, I won't give up my endeavours. These are my brainchild. I have to work them out and give them a new lease of life.

How about your mobile clinic project, how is that coming along?
Every Sunday morning without fail, our mobile clinic with doctors and nurses has been going round from community to community in Pandan since February this year. This is for the urban poor, especially the low and middle low-income groups.
We could see that residents in apartment or flats are responding positively. In just a few hours, we could have a crowd of about 200 people. Sometimes it could rise to 400 and so we have to extend our time.

We are planning to start another mobile clinic. When we talk about the urban poor, we can go on talking all day, but we also need such an intervention programme. I spend at least one hour at each stop. Sometimes I just put on my jeans and walk in and talk to the waiting crowd. Through this programme, we even managed to identify some of the common problems of the people living in the same area. Sometimes it's linked to local concerns such as the quality of drinking water.

Do you find any problem serving your constituency without holding any national post in both the party and the government?
Of course. Without the ministerial portfolio, fund allocations under the minister's quota would definitely be taken away from me. Now I work within the bounds of limited funds in my constituency. But that has in no way dampened my commitment to serve the people in Pandan.

Are you working on anything to raise funds?
Fundraising for a backbencher would not be as easy as you think, compared to a minister's effort.
At this juncture are you involved in any businesses?
No. When I say that I need to spend time and need to focus on my work, I really mean it. There's no such thing as part-time business or being a part-time boss. And I don't believe in half-heartedness in doing things.

Would you be confident of a win if you were given another chance to contest this parliamentary seat?

Well, of late, there has been speculation that I would most likely be dropped as an MCA candidate for the Pandan seat. I am keeping my fingers crossed... My commitment to serving the people remains unchanged.

CM calls for abolition of Penang Bridge toll

(The Sun) Penang commemorated the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Penang Bridge today with the state government calling for the abolition of toll for its use.

Or watch video here:

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said profits from the toll rates have far exceeded the original construction cost of about RM750 million.

"Since you have made up for the construction costs, we hope you can abolish the toll rate," he said at a press conference. I believe they (the concessionaire) have already made more than RM1 billion in profits."

Since Aug 15, 1993, Penang Bridge Sdn Bhd (PBSB), a subsidiary of UEM Group Bhd, has been managing, operating, upgrading and collecting toll for the bridge under a 25-year concession agreement that expires on May 31, 2018.

The bridge was built by UEM Bhd together with Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company (Korea) Ltd .

When the 13.5km bridge was opened in Sept 1985, it was the world’s third longest, and today it handles more than 100,000 vehicles daily, Lim noted.

Lim also hailed the contribution of "unsung local heroes" behind the bridge, like engineers Tan Sri Prof Chin Fung Kee and Liaw Yew Peng.

"The construction costs were initially budgeted at RM850 million but final costs were RM100 million lower," he said, crediting the engineers for their innovative measures.

"Prof Chin’s various innovative design features such as the use of rubber pads to take care of seismic loading were wisely adopted elsewhere," he added.

He also said the nine workers who lost their lives during the construction should be remembered for their work and sacrifice.

Earlier, Lim held a meeting with Tenaga Nasional Bhd CEO Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh on the incident last Saturday where three TNB cables under the bridge caught fire.

He said TNB had agreed to make public its findings on the cause of the fire.

He said the damaged 150m-long sections of the cables are expected to be replaced by November at a cost of RM5 million.
He added that there was a need for a crisis management plan in the event such an accident recurred, with increased coordination with the cross-channel ferry services run by Penang Port.

Petitions 'irrelevant'

The New Straits Times 
By Nik Imran Abdullah

KOTA BARU:  The petitions filed by a lawyer acting on behalf of Sultan Ismail Petra carry no relevance to the appointment of Tuanku Muhammad Faris Petra as the sultan of Kelantan, a member of the state Succession Council said.

Datuk Shukri Mohamed, who is a lawyer and adviser to Tuanku Faris, said: "The appointment of Tuanku Faris by the council is a separate exercise and has no relevance to the petitions that are pending before the Federal Court," he said at Istana Balai Besar yesterday.

It was reported on Monday that lawyer Rashid Zulkifli, who acted on behalf of Sultan Ismail Petra, had said that attempts by Tuanku Faris to assume the power of the sultan were not proper or lawful.

Rashid said Tuanku Faris could not preempt the Federal Court's pending decision on Sultan Ismail Petra's two petitions on questions about Tuanku Faris acting as regent.

The state council on Monday appointed Tuanku Faris to succeed his father Sultan Ismail Petra based on Article 23A of the state Constitution.

Shukri said the authority of the lawyer to act on behalf of Sultan Ismail Petra was also in dispute as no medical evidence had been produced to substantiate whether the sultan had the capacity to instruct the lawyer to represent him.

No medical evidence had been disclosed "to indicate that Sultan Ismail Petra had the capacity to understand the contents of the petitions and affidavits filed before the Federal Court", he said.

He said the laws of the state constitution had been amended and subsequently published in the state government gazette on July 22.

"Tuanku (Faris) had been advised by the Council of Advisers to issue a decree to amend the state constitution by inserting Article 23A as part of the state Constitution," he said.

Under the Government Proceedings Act, Shukri said there were no legal provisions for any aggrieved party to file an injunction against any government body, including the state Succession Council, from exercising its functions.

"If you can file an injunction against the state government or state assembly from carrying out its duties, the state authorities would not be able to, for example, pay the salaries of civil servants."

Report on unsolved killings 'baseless'

The New Straits Times 

GEORGE TOWN: Police yesterday denied the suspects in the Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya murder case were also involved in the unsolved murders of lawyers in Penang since 1992.

State police chief Datuk Ayub Yaakob said a report in an English daily yesterday that the suspects were involved in the killings of five lawyers here were "totally baseless".

Expressing his unhappiness with the report, he also said no special task force would be formed to look into the unresolved murders in the state.

"I did not mention reopening. I just said reviewing.

"Every state has a committee which reviews all unsolved cases from time to time, especially murder cases.

"It is a standard operating procedure. It is our normal practice," said Ayub.

In a front page report yesterday, the daily had stated that Penang police were reopening unsolved murder cases in the state over the past few years, particularly those involving lawyers. It quoted Ayub as saying that a special committee would re-look those cases to see if there were any new developments.

The cases of murdered lawyers reported in the daily were the ones involving R. Thinakaran Raman, 37, senior civil lawyer Datuk S.P. Annamalai, 59, Chew Sien Chee, 39, criminal lawyer S. Pathmanathan, 29, and Triptipal Singh, 60, between 1992 and last year.

Read more: Report on unsolved killings 'baseless'

Nazri asks if Utusan wants Dr M to replace Najib

Nazri questioned Utusan’s apparent lack of loyalty. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has questioned Utusan Malaysia’s apparent attempts to undermine Datuk Seri Najib Razak, asking the Umno newspaper if it was conspiring to replace the prime minister with predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Umno supreme council member told The Malaysian Insider that from the slant of Utusan Malaysia’s news reports and editorials, it seemed as if the daily had forgotten its own masters.

“I cannot understand Utusan. Who is their boss — Najib or Dr Mahathir?

“I wonder sometimes if they have an agenda to bring back Dr Mahathir to replace Najib,” he said when contacted last night.

The minister in the prime minister’s department explained that by playing up Dr Mahathir’s statements of support for Malay rights group Perkasa, the daily was clearly weakening Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept.

“They should be promoting Najib’s 1 Malaysia and not undermine his programme. [Instead] they are supporting Dr Mahathir.

“Because in the angle of their news reports, they want to give Dr Mahathir more coverage than Najib. They seem to have their own agenda. Do they have an agenda to bring back Dr Mahathir to replace Najib?” he said.

Nazri, however, acknowledged that this made little sense as the daily was owned by the ruling party, of which Najib is president.

“And certainly, 1 Malaysia is Najib’s agenda so Umno-owned papers should be seen to support Najib by promoting 1 Malaysia. But I do not know... I am not directly involved in this.

“Like if you look at Harakah, they promote PAS’s programmes, Suara Keadilan promotes PKR, The Star promotes MCA, but Umno’s paper Utusan does not even support their own bosses,” he said.

Nazri was responding to the daily’s overt promotion of Perkasa despite the recent bid by the ruling Umno leadership to disassociate itself from the Malay rights group, fearing that supporting it would only cause Barisan Nasional (BN) to lose the people’s support.

Ibrahim was labelled a “reject” by the minister.
Dr Mahathir, who is Perkasa’s patron, quickly stepped into the fray to warn Umno against completely rejecting the group, claiming that the ruling party was weak and risked losing the next general election.

Utusan Malaysia seemed to agree with Dr Mahathir on the issue, and in response, the daily has been carrying opinions, features and stories that directly back the former premier and Perkasa.

Its open support for Perkasa in an editorial carried on Sunday had already raised questions on whether the daily was still supporting the Najib administration.

In yesterday’s edition of the conservative Umno newspaper, there were even more strident views published.

A prominent feature in the daily’s Op-Ed section lamented how Malays could no longer speak of their rights anymore without being classed as racist.

The opinion piece also argued against using Perkasa as a scapegoat for BN’s failure to capture the non-Malay votes.

The daily also published a series of quotes from ordinary Malays, accompanied by photographs, under the headline “Majority of Malays support Perkasa”.

Nazri, however, insisted that Utusan Malaysia’s assertions were merely based on selective interviews with the minority of Malays, claiming that it did not necessarily reflect the true feelings of the grassroots.

“To me, they do not represent the feelings of the Malays on the ground because the Malays who support PAS will continue to support PAS regardless of what Utusan says and so will the PKR boys who support (PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri) Anwar (Ibrahim)... they do not care what Utusan says, and the same goes for all,” he said.

Nazri cited an example of his Padang Rengas parliamentary constituency in Perak, pointing out that Perkasa had not even succeeded to cause a ripple in the pool of Malay voters there.

“I am the Padang Rengas Umno division chief. At the grassroots level, no one talks about Perkasa and in my division, no one has joined Perkasa. I think the same goes for the neighbouring areas of Kuala Kangsar, Sungai Siput, Lenggong, Bukit Gantang... Perkasa has no impact whatsoever,” he said.

Nazri added that Perkasa was only being popularised in Utusan Malaysia.

“They have no impact in the rural areas and you want to know why? Because those who are leaders of Perkasa are Umno rejects. Umno members who hold posts in the division will not support Perkasa.

“Look, (Perkasa president Datuk) Ibrahim Ali himself is a reject. His deputy also lost in an Umno division fight and so did his Youth chief,” he said.

Ibrahim, the fiery founder of Perkasa, was sacked from Umno in 2004 and won the Pasir Mas parliamentary seat on a PAS ticket.

Story of Our PM, DPM and Queen......

By Michael Owen,
Najib asked the Queen, "Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient
government?  Are there any tips you can give to me?"

" Well," said the Queen, "the most important thing is to surround yourself
with intelligent people."

Najib frowned, and then asked, " But how do I know the people around me
are really intelligent?"
The Queen took a sip of tea. "Oh, that's easy; you just ask them to answer
an intelligent riddle." The Queen pushed a button on her intercom. "Please
send Tony Blair in here, would you?"
Tony Blair walked into the room and said, "Yes, my Queen?"
The Queen smiled and said, "Answer me this please, Tony, your mother and
have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who
is it?"
Without pausing for a moment, Tony Blair answered, "That would be me."
"Yes! Very good," said the Queen.

Najib went back home to ask Mahyudin the same
question. "answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a
child.   It's not your brother and it's not your sister. Who is it?"
"I'm not sure," said Mahyudin. "Let me get back to you on that one..." He
went to his advisors and asked every one, but none could give him an
answer.  Finally, he ended up in the men's room and recognized Lim Guan Eng's shoes in the next stall. 
Mahyudin didn't want but asked anyway, "Lim, can you
answer this for me?  Your mother and father have a child and it's not your
brother or your sister. Who is it?"
Lim yelled back, "That's easy, it's me!"
Mahyudin smiled, and said, "Thanks!" 
Then, he went back to speak with Najib.
"Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle.  It's
Lim Guan Eng!"
Najib got up, stomped over to Mahyudin, and angrily yelled into his face,
"No! You idiot!  It's Tony Blair!"

IN Putrajaya


By Muralitharan Ramachandran

KUALA LUMPUR: Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar began his first day in office yesterday with a series of meetings with senior officers. (NST 14/09/10).

Looks like the new top cop in our nation has officially started his duties promising to combat crimes...bla, bla, bla.....just like the other top cops who spoke on their first day of their duty but what about Tan Sri Ismail Omar? Will he be sincere towards his duties...?? To safe guard the nation's law and order, to fight corruption within the forces, to combat abuse of power by his officers and the most talked about lately, the interference of third parties concerning police duties?

 I am sure Tan Sri Ismail has plans and answers for all these questions above. Every Malaysians like me will be wondering what is he going to do about this. And, during media interviews pertaining on going crisis, is he going to answer the same way as the former, The Great Tan Sri  Musa Hassan answers....:"Do Not Speculate, Let Us Investigate" and after someone is shot dead by the police, the same stereotype answers from him " My Men were Following Them, Upon Knowing It, They (the suspected criminals) Fired A Few Shots Forcing My Men To Open Fire At Them."

As for me, I wonder what are his actions going to be on the allegations by his former boss on "Interference Of Third Parties". Is he going to dig up old files and start investigations or wait for the former to lodge an official complain about this? Whatever his actions going to be it should clear the  doubts of all Malaysians who will be magnifying his actions from now.

Now, Lets look at the image of our Polis Diraja Malaysia. It doesn't really portray an image of what it should be. There was a spree of  deaths in custody and unwanted shootings lately. How is he going to change it?  Is he going to hold a Royal Commission or at least an internal enquiry on all those police personnel involved?
There are a lot of issues to be looked into by the new Top Cop.

So, Malaysians of all ethnics, let us wait patiently for our answers. And then again, "Do Not Speculate, Lets wait And See".

MB Khalid also wants Anwar-Azizah combo

British prostitution ring sentenced to 2-plus years each

Fatima Hagnegat, Marohkh Jamali and Rasoul Gholampour all pleaded guilty to the trafficking charges.

London, England (CNN) -- Three women and a man who admitted to trafficking in underage girls have been sentenced to prison terms of more than two years each, British authorities announced Tuesday.

The three women and one man pleaded guilty to the charges Monday in Harrow Crown Court, north of London. They were arrested about a year ago and accused of bringing girls to London to sell them for sex.

"This is a sad and harrowing case that involved the main defendants effectively selling the virginity of girls as young as 13 for as much as 150,000 pounds ($231,300)," said Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, head of the Metropolitan Police Service's Human Exploitation and Organized Crime Command.

Fatima Hagnegat, Marokh Jamali and Rasoul Gholampour pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic persons within the United Kingdom for sexual exploitation. Hagnegat and Jamali also pleaded guilty to control of prostitution for gain, police said.

Jamali and Gholampour received sentences of two years and nine months in prison, while Hagnegat was sentenced to two and a half years, court officials announced.

A 43-year-old woman who also pleaded guillty to trafficking conspiracy received a two-and-a-half-year prison term. Her name was withheld under British laws aimed at protecting the identities of children.

The investigation began in September 2009 after a woman dropped off a handwritten note at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel in London's upscale Knightsbridge neighborhood. The note was addressed to the owner of the hotel and mentioned a rented house with girls available, though it didn't say for what, police said.

"I have 12 girls ready from the age 14-20 years, who are living all over the U.K.," the note read.

Concerned staff at the hotel alerted police, who traced the phone number on the note and the woman's car to an address in Wigan, near Manchester in northern England. That was where Hagnegat, 24, lived with her 30-year-old husband Gholampour, police said.

An undercover officer then called the number on the note to ask about hiring girls for a client. He spoke to Hagnegat's aunt, Marohkh Jamali, 41, who said she could arrange a party for four to five people that night with girls from Iran, England and Eastern Europe, police said.

The aunt said the girls would be between the ages of 14 and 20, police said.

A week later, the officer met Jamali at the Lancaster London hotel, which agreed with police to be the venue for the undercover officer's meetings with the defendants.

Jamali told the officer she could provide girls between the ages of 14 and 20. She said some of the girls were virgins, and that a number of them were available for a full range of sexual acts, police said.

Over the next two weeks, Jamali e-mailed the officer 28 times with pictures of several girls 14 and older, saying they were available for sex.

The officer then contacted Jamali to arrange a meeting with the girls. Jamali said she would bring four or five of them, including two 13-year-olds, to London and that she wanted at least 50,000 pounds ($77,000) and as much as 150,000 pounds ($231,300) for each one, police said.

Jamali went to the hotel the next day with Hagnegat and six girls, two of whom were 14, one who was 17, and others who were 18 or older. Officers then arrested Jamali and Hagnegat and took the six girls to a victims center, police said.

The girls told investigators that they traveled from Wigan, England, to London on the understanding they would earn money by dancing for a group of rich men. It was only once they arrived in London that they were told they may be asked to have sex with the men.

Gholampour was arrested when police then searched Hagnegat's home, and the 43-year-old owner of the apartment where the girls stayed the night before the London meeting was also arrested, police said. She could not be named for legal reasons, they said.

"This case highlights the fact that trafficking is not just a crime that involves foreign nationals being brought in the U.K. It is something that happens within the U.K. as well," Martin said. "We hope that this result will encourage any other potential victims to come forward and speak with police who may have felt that they couldn't do so before."

Lessons from the whole Quran episode

The planned burning of Qurans by Terry Jones, pastor of a small Florida church, sparked international condemnation.
(CNN) -- When Terry Jones, a Florida pastor, announced his plan to burn Qurans on 9/11 with a tweet and an "International Burn a Koran Day" page on Facebook, he ignited an international conflagration of outrage.
As news spread, worldwide condemnation and anxiety mounted. At least two people died in a demonstration in Afghanistan. It seemed this obscure self-proclaimed pastor in Gainesville, Florida, was determined to carry out an action of catastrophic global consequences.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates even called him. Jones finally changed his mind.
Now that the crisis is over, CNN asked contributors to write their observations of what happened, and what lessons the pastor's threat and the events that followed can teach us.
Bob Steele, director of the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University and the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values at the Poynter Institute.
Journalism is a powerful tool with very sharp edges. Used wisely and skillfully this tool can craft solid, substantive stories that meaningfully inform citizens. When used irresponsibly and incompetently, the journalism tool causes great harm.
Regrettably, the saga of the Rev. Terry Jones and his Quran-burning threat proves that many journalists and news organizations too easily abandon news judgment, professionalism and ethical standards in a zealous quest for a controversial story.
Journalists could not and should not have ignored Jones and his threats, no matter how inane and injurious they were. Journalists have an obligation to shine the light of scrutiny on those who threaten others, and that is what Jones and his disciples were doing. They were preaching intolerance and hate with the potential for real harm. However, the coverage of this small band of publicity seekers was vastly out of proportion to the value of the news story.

The intensity and tone of the reporting seriously skewed its significance. The flawed journalism fueled the fervor of many TV and radio talking heads and online commenters producing much more diatribe than dialogue. The journalistic power tool is a force for good, but only when used wisely and well. That didn't happen in this case.
Akbar Ahmed is professor and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington and the former high commissioner from Pakistan to the United Kingdom. He is author of "Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam" (Brookings Press).
While the desire to humiliate or hurt those who are not like us may be played out on a local level, we learned in the case of Pastor Terry Jones how quickly it could be transported onto the global stage, dragging in the entire world in confrontation. Unfortunately, although Jones canceled his plans, we learned that the very idea was so offensive that it will continue to percolate all over the Muslim world. Several people have already lost their lives in demonstrations.
We learned how a great country, founded in some of the noblest ideals of human civilization embodied by its Founding Fathers -- civility and respect for knowledge -- could have its image abroad tarnished by the actions of an individual. And it was confirmed for us that the actions of small groups of people will continue to exacerbate the already complicated and often tense relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.
Finally, we also learned how Jews, Christians and people of other or no faiths all categorically rejected the idea of burning the Quran as disrespectful and even harmful. In that sense, Jones' story had a happy ending, showing that there is such a thing as reason and compassion in the hearts of the high and mighty and the ordinary folk, which trumped hatred and bigotry.
Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.
Usually in America, when a lone crackpot of any political or religious persuasion threatens to commit a publicity stunt that will needlessly enrage millions of other innocent people, our basic common sense tells us that our national media should not even give that person the time of day.
Sadly, not only did Terry Jones successfully receive media attention, but because of the overexposure of this one man, we are beginning to see other "copycat" Quran burnings around the country.
The consequences of the widespread media coverage of this possible event were so serious that both President Obama and Gen. David Petraeus warned that burning copies of the Quran would endanger the lives and well-being of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. There have already been other copycat Quran burnings at mosques in Tennessee, Michigan and other states.
Sadly, because of our media's overexposure of Jones and his stupid anti-Muslim publicity stunt, we may have only seen the beginning of what might turn into a national trend of Quran burnings around the country.
Brian Fishman is a counterterrorism research fellow at the New America Foundation, a think tank focused on innovative ideas across the political spectrum.
The statement from Asaib Ahl al-Haqq, a Shiite militant group in Iraq with ties to Iran, was typical of militant Islamist responses to the would-be Quran-burning in Florida: "The enemy should know that we are serious about this matter and that, God willing, we are capable of setting the Iraqi land on which they stand on fire; turning it to a volcano that never calms and a fire that never dies, regardless of the sacrifice."
Propaganda to be sure, but Asaib Ahl al-Haqq specializes in rocket attacks on American facilities and has the capability to increase violence. Its capability cannot be wished away.
The Florida church's decision to stand down will mitigate the radicalization and violence that might have occurred had it gone forward. But there were serious strategic costs to the U.S. from the entire sordid episode, including a missed opportunity to remind the world, and ourselves, what 9/11 and the response to it is all about. That matters when we have enemies like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in Afghanistan, who explain the Quran burning as "part of the American war against Muslims" that "they started ... 60 years ago by occupying Palestine, and then invaded Iraq and Afghanistan."
President Obama, Gen. David Petraeus and others were right to condemn the Quran burning, even if their comments increased domestic media coverage. Jihadis were already capitalizing on the situation, and official silence would be easily manipulated by jihadi groups as support. It was a lose-lose situation.
In a world of global communications, crackpots such as the would-be Quran-burners in Florida can disrupt the U.S. war on terror. In the future, Americans might take some wisdom about the responsibilities that come with the right to free speech from Petraeus' guidance to his troops upon taking command in Afghanistan: "Live our values. Stay true to the values we hold dear. This is what distinguishes us from our enemies. We are engaged in a tough endeavor. ... All of us experience moments of anger, but we must not give in to dark impulses or tolerate unacceptable actions by others."
Ed Rollins, a senior political contributor for CNN, is senior presidential fellow at the Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency at Hofstra University. He was White House political director for President Reagan and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
If a tree fell in a forest and hit Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, on the head on September 11, would anyone other than the 50 poor souls who turn to this misguided preacher for spiritual guidance each Sunday care? Would the falling tree make any sound other than thump?
Before the last few weeks, nobody would even know the pastor existed. Then why did his reckless and self-serving threats to burn hundreds of copies of the Quran become a national and international story that, according to Google news, was in more than 12,000 articles? The secretary of state, defense secretary and many other serious people put aside their real work to placate this man's ego.
We were told that his actions would lead to serious threats against the mightiest military in the world and put our soldiers in jeopardy. Have we all lost our minds? Unfortunately, it's the age we live in. Instant communication becomes instant celebrity. We live in a society where "yelling fire in a theater" when there is none won't get you arrested -- but will get you a slot on the morning shows. As never before in our history, instant news stories, regardless of whether they're relevant or not, are just that: "instant news stories."
"Who cares?" and "Does this really matter?" should be the guiding principles of our news organizations. We all know there are consequences when someone irresponsibly uses the media for his message of hate. We will be the poorer if the slogan "All the news that's fit to print," which has appeared on the front page of The New York Times since 1896, is replaced with "Send us anything that's a little sensational to fill our blogs and 24-hour air space." The First Amendment guarantees that we can say anything, but it doesn't guarantee that news organizations need to broadcast or print it.
Farah Akbar is a New York-based writer who has contributed to Gotham Gazette,, Al-Ahram Weekly and
The world is full of attention-hungry individuals willing to do just about anything for fame. Terry Jones got it, and frankly, he did not even have to do much. A provocative threat from him wrapped the media around his finger for days.
His distasteful plan to burn Qurans on the ninth anniversary of September 11 at an obscure church had the media obsessed about him, as teenyboppers are about Justin Bieber.
Jones, a radical, fringe Christian with less than 50 followers, wound up having a change of heart. His only claim to fame before this was a hateful book he wrote that has only six reviews on, most of which are negative. And besides his title of pastor, what authority or influence does he have when it comes to matters of religion?
But if Jones had followed through on his pledge to burn Islam's holy book, the results could have been disastrous. Many Muslims perceive any insult toward their revered book as an attack on their faith. The Daily Star, an English-language paper in Lebanon, said that if the event were to have taken place, it was "likely to ignite a fire of rage that could consume swaths of the globe." Demonstrations against the burning took place in Pakistan, Gaza, Indonesia and Afghanistan.
His cheap attempt at getting attention trumped important news, such as the devastating floods that have ravaged much of Pakistan. Aren't there individuals on the planet who are actually making a positive difference in the lives of others who would have been more worthy of that attention?
How could this situation, with the potential to have had very damaging effects here and elsewhere been avoided? Simple -- don't let obscure people, whose actions have the potential to incite violence, dominate the news cycle.
Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
In the Quran burning that wasn't, seven lessons can be learned.
1. There are extremists in every religion. Islam has them. Christianity has them. We shouldn't let our perceptions of Christianity be determined by Terry Jones, or our perceptions of Islam by al Qaeda.
2. Don't let the extremists control the story. When Jones canceled his 9/11 Quran burning and then abruptly uncanceled it, you could almost hear a collective groan from the media: How and why did we end up giving this nut so much airtime? The more important question is whether we are going to let the fringe control the religion conversation. We have done that in U.S. politics to a shocking extent. Are we going to let it happen with Islam?
3. We need stories about interfaith cooperation to balance the stories about religious conflict. Yes, conflict sells newspapers and captures eyeballs. And God knows there is plenty of conflict to cover. But the hard work of religion is being done every day by people like Zeenat Rahman of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, who challenges her readers in the Chicago Tribune to seek out their Muslim neighbors and ask them what they believe.
4. The religious world is flat, too. We can gaze into the inner workings of a microchurch in Gainesville, Florida, not only from New York and Atlanta, Georgia, but also from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Jakarta, Indonesia.
One reason Gen. David Petraeus felt he had to respond to Jones was that the story was gaining traction in the Muslim world. No religion story is merely local any more.
5. Religion matters. Even if you aren't religious you cannot avoid the power of religion, which continues to refuse to be relegated to the private realm either at home or abroad. Religious beliefs and behaviors may or may not move mountains, but they move people. They turn elections in India and in the United States, and they affect economic behavior in Saudi Arabia and China.
6. Religious illiteracy is rampant, not least about Islam. It is easy to wag a finger at Jones for condemning a book he has by his own admission never read, but Americans as a group admit to being almost ignorant about the world's second largest religion. According to a poll released last month by the Pew Research Center, 30 percent of Americans say they know "not very much" about Islam and 25 percent say they know "nothing at all."
Are we going to continue to get our "information" about Muslims and the Quran from Jones, Franklin Graham and Newt Gingrich? Perhaps it is time we started listening to Muslims themselves -- to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Park51 project, Ingrid Mattson of the Islamic Society of North America and Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota.
7. We need to have an informed conversation about Islam. After 9/11, that conversation died aborning, collapsing into uninformed platitudes about how Islam was "a religion of peace" or "a religion of war." We need to get beyond the platitudes by informing ourselves about, among other things, the Quran.
Jocelyne Cesari is director of the Islam in the West Program at Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University. She is a political scientist, specializing in contemporary Islamic societies and Islam in Europe and in the United States. For more, see and islamopediaonline.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Americans hurried to bookstores to buy the Quran, hoping to understand why 19 Muslim extremists carried out the most devastating terrorist attacks against America ever.
Now, on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, some Americans prefer to desecrate Qurans. Terry Jones created an international media frenzy by threatening to burn 200 Qurans, but didn't, while members of the Westboro Baptist Church made good on their threat, but with hardly any media attention at all. Vandals left burned Qurans at mosques in East Lansing, Michigan, and Knoxville, Tennessee.
While resentment has simmered against Muslims in America since 9/11, not since the attacks has the backlash been so intense. There are several reasons. For starters, America's military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, accompanied by the news media images of al Qaeda and Taliban extremists committing suicide attacks and beheading infidels, has planted a monolithic and evil image of Muslims in Americans' heads.
Second, the persistent and increased threat of radical Islamism across the world, coupled with the rise of homegrown terrorism, from would-be subway bomber Zazi Najibullah and Fort Hood shooting suspect Nidal Hasan, to the more recent Times Square bombing attempt, among others. This year, fear and feelings of insecurity are growing among many Americans, exacerbated by economic hard times and perceptions of an America in decline.
What hasn't changed is that the Quran is still perceived by many Americans as the motivating force behind Islamic radicalism. It's not a completely unreasonable conclusion, given that extremists cherry-pick verses of the Quran to justify indiscriminate violence. Yet it's a misinformed conclusion. No Scriptures, especially sacred religious texts, stand on their own.
Taking the Quran out of context to turn it into a political weapon against the West is what radicals do. While the media and public often assume that extremist interpretations of the Quran are classical interpretations, they are in fact new, and very far from Islamic tradition and centuries of religious interpretations and contextualization of message.
Repressive regimes and America's military presence in the Middle East, for example, have led to the creation of a political movement like al Qaeda. Taking these factors into account, rather than cherry-picking Quranic texts for evidence of violent tendencies, as radicals do, would be a much more effective way of countering terrorism.
Ruben Navarrette Jr., a regular contributor to, is a nationally syndicated columnist and an NPR commentator.
Terry Jones never made good on his boorish threat to burn a copy of the Quran. But the Florida pastor did manage to ignite an international firestorm.
Of course, Jones had help. The same media that helped fan the flames of this controversy because apparently some readers, viewers and listeners were curious about whether the attention-craved preacher would actually carry out his plan, later turned around and accused Jones of creating unrest and inciting violence around the world.
That theory gives Jones more credit than he's due. It's obvious that he was playing us -- the media, politicians, activists, all of us. Whatever it took to get him the most attention at any given time -- make a threat, try to make a deal, cancel a threat, catch a flight to New York, etc. -- he did it.

Sadly, in the end, according to news accounts, at least three copies of the Quran were burned. And at a counterdemonstration in London, anti-American protesters burned the Stars and Stripes and a copy of the U.S. Constitution. So now we know: It doesn't take much to turn mischief into madness.
The opinions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of the authors.

Suspend Racist and religious supremacist UMNO Utusan Malay-sia for maliciously implicating Hindraf lawyers in murder of Susilowati

No.6, Jalan Abdullah, Off Jalan Bangsar, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-2282 5241 Fax: 03-2282 5245
Website: Email:

Your Reference :

In Reply :

Date : 14/09/2010

Y.B Dato Seri Hishamuddin Hussein
Home Minister,
Aras 12 Block D 1,
Complex Kerajaan Fasa D,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,                Fax: 03-8888 4913 62546 Putrajaya. E-Mail:

Dear Sirs,
RE: Suspend Racist and religious supremacist UMNO Utusan Malay-sia for maliciously implicating Hindraf lawyers in murder of Susilowati.

We refer to the above matter and to the Utusan Malay-sia headlines amongst others “Siasatan juga mendapati Datuk itu (an Indian lawyer) pernah memberi bantuan guaman kepada Pertubuhan haram Hindraf dan menjadi ahli seumur hidup sebuah parti politik”.
This statement is a completely untrue, false, malicious and a Seditious statement calculated to tarnish Hindraf, cause disunity among the peaceful Indian and Malay communities in Malaysia and to cause racial disharmony.
Hindraf categorically denies that the lawyer/s implicated in the murder of Susilawati has ever represented Hindraf or any of it’s supporters or had rendered legal assistance to Hindraf at any material time. And neither do we know them or had ever known them.
This is not the first time but this UMNO linked Utusan Malay-sia has repeatedly done this especially during the period immediately before and after the 25th November 2007 Hindraf Rally.
We hereby call upon your goodselves further to Article 8 of the Federal Constitution (Equality before the law) to stop this UMNO and Utusan Malay-sia racist and religions supremacist agenda and forthwith suspend Utusan Malaysia like what your goodselves had done to Makkal Osai at least on two occasions
within a space of about six (6) months or so in 2008 and previously to Tamil Malar a Tamil daily and various other publications.
End the UMNO racist and religious agenda in One Malay-sia.
Kindly revert to us accordingly.
Thank you.
Your faithfully,
P. Uthayakumar
(Secretary General pro-tem)
New Scan-20100914181450-00001

Finally, Mahathir concedes he screwed the merit system

JB03_170508_MAHATHIRSambu lingam, via e-mail - free Malaysia Today

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad in a statement (FMT Sept 4, 2010) finally admitted that he and the Umno government intentionally discriminated against innocent non Bumiputra students by denying their educational rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

He said: "If we use the merit system , half of the university students (Bumiputeras) don't qualify..."

What one can gather from his statement is that the education system over the past 53 years has failed to produce Bumiputera students to meet the set requirement by Umno's own higher educational qualification merits.

Despite the billions spend to improve the educational achievements among Bumiputeras, citizens of this country are now been told by this longest serving Malaysian Prime Minister that Bumiputera students in Malaysia can only survive upon discrimination against their fellow non Bumi students. What a shame!

The former Prime Minister also revealed the truth on why local public universities are constantly dropping in international standard ratings. He admitted that half of the undergraduates did not qualify for entry into universities but were nevertheless granted places merely on race considerations.

I wonder how he justifies such brutal educational injustices. The moment a government tolerates such discrimination, it is actually planning to fail the country and its citizens over the years to come.

By implementing this racist based policies, thousands of fully qualified non Bumiputera students are cruelly denied entry into matriculation courses , local public universities intakes as well the PSD scholarships.

To summarise Mahathir's statement, he as the former prime minister and those in power ruling this country today clearly do not implement meritocracy in local university intakes, half of our university students are actually non qualifiers for higher education.

Fully qualified non Bumiputera students are oppressed and suppressed by the implementation of racially biased educational discrimination. The Umno-led Barisan Nasional government over the past 40 years have conveniently violated article 8 and 12 of Federal Constitution.

Singapore was cause of Malaysia’s racial problems, says Dr M

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that racism in Malaysia was clearly the result of Singapore’s short membership in the country, and not because the island was “turfed out” as suggested by the republic’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew recently.

“Can we really believe that if Singapore had not been ‘turfed out’ Malaysia would have no racial problem?

“While Kuan Yew talks about his belief that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races, he also said that “once we are by ourselves (out of Malaysia) the Chinese become the majority,” said Dr Mahathir in a posting on his blog.

In an interview with the New York Times, Lee argued that if Malaysia had accepted a multiracial base much of what had been achieved in Singapore would have also been attained in Malaysia.

Lee, Singapore’s longest serving prime minister, claimed that if Singapore had not seceded from Malaysia, the country would have improved inter-racial relations and an improved holistic situation today.

“Now we have a very polarised Malaysia — Malays, Chinese and Indians in separate schools, living separate lives and not really getting on with one another. You read them. That’s bad for us as close neighbours,” he had said in the interview according to the transcript made available on the website of the Singapore prime minister’s office.

The remarks by the two retired prime ministers come ahead of Malaysia Day on Thursday.

Singapore joined newly-independent Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia on September 16, 1963, but was subsequently expelled in 1965.

Lee’s and Dr Mahathir’s comments also come amid a heightened race debate in Malaysia, as a result of plans by the Najib administration to roll back some of the country’s affirmative action policies favouring the Malay and Bumiputera communities.

In his blog post, Dr Mahathir pointed out that Singapore’s population was made up of 75 per cent Chinese and that the community owned 95 per cent of the economy.

“It is therefore not a truly multi-racial country but a Chinese country with minority racial groups who are additionally much poorer,” he claimed.

Lee had said in his interview that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races.

This, he said, had been his greatest satisfaction in helming Singapore.

“We made quite sure whatever your race, language or religion, you are an equal citizen and we’ll drum that into the people and I think our Chinese understand and today we have an integrated society.

“We will not as a majority squeeze the minority because once we’re by ourselves, the Chinese become the majority,” he said.

Lee also took a dig at the Malaysian scenario, pointing out that the Singaporean Malays were English-educated and were no longer like the Malaysian Malays.

Dr Mahathir’s stand contrasted sharply with that of Lee’s. He argued in his blog post that Singapore was a country dominated by one race and not really multiracial.

“Whether the PAP admits it or not, the party has always been led and dominated by ethnic Chinese and have won elections principally because of Chinese votes. The others are not even icing on the cake.

“If Singapore is a part of Malaysia the PAP can certainly reproduce the Singapore kind of non-racial politics because together with the Malaysian Chinese, the PAP will ethnically dominate and control Malaysian politics. No dissent would be allowed and certainly no one would dare say anything about who really runs the country.

“Amnesia is permissible but trying to claim that it is because Singapore had been ‘turfed out’ for the present racist politics in Malaysia is simply not supported by facts of history,” said Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir also asserted that there was less racial politics in Malaya before Singapore joined the federation.

“In 1955, the Malays who made up 80 per cent of the citizens gave a large number of their constituencies to the few Chinese and Indian citizens and ensured they won with strong Malay support. As a result the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested.

“The Tunku then rewarded this willingness of the Chinese and Indian citizens to support the coalition concept by giving them one million unconditional citizenship. This reduced Malay majority to 60 per cent.”

He claimed that it was because Lee had subsequently reneged on a promise that his PAP would not take part in politics outside the island that sparked racial tension.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister, was forced to expel Singapore because racism had taken hold, Dr Mahathir claimed.

This, Dr Mahathir suggested, led eventually to the 1969 racial riots in Kuala Lumpur.  - The Malaysian Insider