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Monday, September 20, 2010

The price of palm oil

Anwar-Azmin team playing dirty, says contender




By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today,

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR deputy presidency contender and former party deputy secretary-general PS Jenapala today claimed there are fraudulent and underhanded tactics practised by de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and his right-hand man, vice-president Azmin Ali, at the current party polls.
The alleged furtive acts, said Jenapala, included abuse of Selangor government machinery, pressuring challengers to divisional polls candidates aligned to the Anwar-Azmin "cartel" to withdraw and bribery by offering positions to their supporters.

He cited the Permatang Pauh divisional polls over the weekend where Deputy Chief Minister II Mansor Othman had won uncontested after both the challengers, incumbent Che Mat Hashim and Roselai Muhamad, withdrew from contesting.

"After submitting his name, Roselai suddenly withdrew on the day of the nomination after intense pressure to do so. In the case of Che Mat, he withdrew on the day before election and his supporters claimed there was pressure for him to do so by Anwar," he told a press conference here.

“How can they ask Che Mat to withdraw even after his name was listed on the ballot paper?”, asked Jenapala.

He also said Azmin had allegedly abused the Selangor state machinery to campaign for his deputy presidency candidacy, claiming that state executive councilors aligned to him are using their offices and allocations for the party elections while state information officers are coercing and inducing those at grassroots level to support him.

"This is an insult to our Pakatan (Rakyat) partners DAP and PAS and also the people of Selangor who elected them," he added.

He also claimed that Azmin in a visit to Tuaran, Sabah, had in an open gathering told party members there that Ansari Abdullah, the division chief there, would be a candidate for the general election should he win. He also offered federal Cabinet positions to those who support him and ensure he becomes number two.

Manipulations in Sabah

In a surprising move, several divisions in Sabah had nominated Azmin for the closely watched deputy presidency contest despite the pervasive anti-Azmin sentiment in the state.

The PKR vice-president was forced to relinquish his post as the state party chief following a mutiny by several division leaders aligned to former vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan. Ansari was made the new state chief amid demands by local leaders that a native, and not a Malay, be made the Sabah PKR chief.

Sabah is also known to be a stronghold of supreme council member Zaid Ibrahim, the leading challenger to Azmin's deputy presidency quest.

The sudden turnabout by Sabah divisions to nominate Azmin could be attributed to manipulations, claimed Jenapala. Citing the Kudat and Silam divisional polls, the ex-PKR secretary-general claimed there were discrepancies that took place during polling.

"In Kudat, over 800 people turned up with incumbent Mursalim Tangul, most of whom had only temporary ICs and were identified as illegal immigrants. In Silam, incumbent Youth chief and his deputy Johan Nul's names could not be found on the membership list despite their nominations being accepted earlier.

"Johan was subsequently disqualified and he could not compete. The winner, Johani Abdul Halim, is a known Azmin supporter," alleged Jenapala.

There was also a recount at the Bandar Indera Mahkota and Raub divisional polls in Pahang, which he alleged was the interfering work of Azmin's camp. Candidates aligned to Zaid were initially announced as winners but a recount, after some members claimed they had yet to cast their votes, gave Azmin's candidates the win.

Zaid: Azizah bukan boneka, Anwar hanya ahli biasa

Oleh Jamilah Kamarudin - Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Ahli Majlis Tertinggi Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Datuk Zaid Ibrahim berikrar mahu mengembalikan kuasa sebenar Presiden parti itu jika beliau berjaya merebut kerusi Timbalan Presiden pada pemilihan Oktober ini.

Mengulas mengenai kritikan terhadap kredibiliti Presiden PKR Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail yang hanya dianggap sebagai 'lambang' parti, Zaid berkata keadaan ini berlaku akibat wujudnya persepsi di kalangan kepimpinan parti sendiri yang kurang menghormati peranan Azizah.

"Kita tidak boleh membiarkan presiden kita dianggap oleh sesetengah pihak hanya sebagai lambang.

"Terlalu kerap saya dengar bisikan mengenai kononnya Datin Seri Wan Azizah bukan ketua sebenar.

"Malah ada pula yang berkata beliau tidak ada kuasa. Keadaan ini berlaku kerana ada di kalangan kepimpinan parti yang kurang menghormati jawatan presiden.

"Kalau saya menang, saya akan bela kuasa presiden. Presiden parti tidak akan dianggap sebagai lambang semata-mata," katanya dalam kenyataan melalui blog hari ini.

Sambil mengkritik kepimpinan PKR sekarang yang lebih selesa memberikan kepercayaan sepenuhnya kepada Ketua Umum Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim menerajui parti, Zaid bimbang situasi ini akan menjadi satu amalan yang lebih buruk jika Pakatan Rakyat menguasai Putrajaya.

"Kepimpinan parti lebih selesa memberi kepercayaan sepenuhnya kepada Anwar.

"Saya juga memberi kepercayaan dan sokongan penuh kepada Anwar Ibrahim, kerana dia pengasas parti dan juga Ketua Pembangkang tetapi dari segi struktur parti buat masa ini beliau hanya ahli biasa.

"Kalau kita dari parti Keadilan tidak hormati jawatan presiden kita yang sah kerana kita berpuas hati presiden itu hanyalah lambang (walaupun dia berkuasa penuh mengikut perlembagaan parti); apa jaminan kita akan menghormati perlembagaan negara bila kita berkuasa nanti," katanya.

Walaupun masih tiada lagi individu yang menawarkan diri mencabar Azizah termasuk Anwar yang memutuskan enggan bertanding bagi mana-mana jawatan, namun Anwar dilaporkan masih lagi menerima pencalonan daripada cabang beberapa negeri.

Kukuhkan dasar reformis

Zaid turut menyatakan pendiriannya untuk mengukuhkan dasar reformis parti dan pada masa yang sama mahu terus taat setia kepada presiden jika dipilih sebagai timbalan.

"Adalah tanggungjawab timbalan presiden untuk memberi sokongan dan bantuan sepenuhnya kepada presiden sesebuah parti.

"Bagi timbalan pula, kesetian kepada parti bererti taat setia kepada presiden dan menolong beliau dalam menjalankan tugas-tugasnya.

"Timbalan presiden mesti mengimbangi atau ‘complement’ kekuatan presiden.

"Hanya dengan cara itu prestasi dan imej parti kita akan jadi lebih baik.

"Datin Seri Wan Azizah telah banyak membuat pengorbanan termasuklah meletakkan jawatan beliau sebagai ahli Parlimen demi keperluan suaminya dan PKR. Pengorbanan ini adalah pengetahuan umum.

"Sebagai ahli PKR, saya percaya dengan kepimpinan dan kebolehan presiden parti; dan sebagai calon untuk jawatan timbalan presiden saya ingin menyokong beliau dalam usaha beliau dan dengan ikhlasnya meneruskan dan mengukuhkan dasar reformis parti untuk menunjukkan bahawa PKR mampu memenuhi perubahan yang dinanti-nantikan ahli parti dan rakyat Malaysia," katanya.

Nazri: I will shield gov't, even from Mahathir

(Malaysiakini) Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz has picked a public spat with Utusan Malaysia columnist 'Awang Selamat', as he defended his criticism of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

parliament gobind singh ban over nazri mistake 251108 04Reacting to accusations that he is “anti-Dr Mahathir” and that he had been biadap (uncouth) towards a statesman who has done much for the country, Nazri said in an open letter to Utusan that his stand is to the contrary.

So far, said Nazri, Mahathir has been the best prime minister he has ever served. But as an ex-premier, he said Mahathir leaves much to be desired.

Nazri (left) claimed he has been consistent in his defence of the government against its critics - even if these now include Mahathir.

“Awang should get out of his time warp and face the fact that I am now in the government ... It is Tun Mahathir who is criticising the government and not the other way round.

“...I will defend the government, just as I did in the past when Tun Mahathir and (then) Tun Abdullah (Ahmad Badawi) was the prime minister.”

Nazri reiterated his challenge to the columnist to come clean on where his loyalty lies, given the priorities Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has placed on an inclusive 1Malaysia.

NONENONE“I want Awang to know that I am always sure who my boss is. It is not (DAP leader Lim) Kit Siang or (Opposition Leader) Anwar (Ibrahim), because they are not the prime minister of Malaysia, the chairperson of BN or president of Umno.

“I am not too sure Awang knows who his boss is because he undermines the 1Malaysia policy of the prime minister and promotes the narrow racism of (Perkasa chief) Ibrahim Ali, who is not even an Umno member.”

Nazri said even school children know that his agenda is to win the next general election and for Najib to remain as prime minister.

“I do hope that Awang also has the same agenda, unless of course his boss is somebody else.”

Questioning the column for criticising his “civil” treatment of opposition leaders, Nazri said such conduct is the right thing to do in a democracy since “they are also elected by the people”.

“Of course, Awang is caught in the time warp of the days where government MPs did not only not engage them, but hated and disliked them in all circumstances.

malaysia parliament parlimen“Awang will never understand this because he is not a MP, put in the House by the voice of the people. Anyway, did Awang ever think of how five PKR MPs could become Independents, if not for the civility shown by me to them as parliamentary affairs minister?

“The number of crossovers to the Independent caucus has exceeded the single MP from Pasir Mas, this so-called hero for the Malays who Awang idolises. Incidentally, Umno has never asked or needed for Ibrahim to help us. Any association with him will only cause us to lose votes.”

'Malaysian first'


Training his sights on claims that he is pandering to the Chinese, Nazri pointed out that Mahathir - who was reported to have said he didn't need Chinese votes - has realised why he lost in the 90 percent Malay-majority seat of Kota Setar Selatan in 1969 to PAS' Yusof Rawa.

“There is a lesson to be learned from this,” said Nazri.

utusan 140910 majoriti orang malayu menyokong perkasaDriving home his point, Nazri said Awang has never contested in an election and, furthermore, hides behind the anonymity of a pseudonym of a column in the Malay-language daily, which is owned by Umno but which has highlighted the Perkasa cause.

“Politicians like me who have stood for four general elections and won, have to be very careful in what we say and not be reckless like Awang. We need to muster all the votes regardless of race and we do not stay in the comfort zone as Awang does.

“He (Awang) can write and say anything irresponsibly and recklessly, knowing that he will never be punished by voters. I advise Awang to stick to what he does and knows best and not try to meddle in national politics, of which he has shallow knowledge and zero experience.”

As a parting shot, Nazri also challenged detractors to question his identity and priorities as a citizen.

“And yes I am a Malaysian first and Malay next. Does any bigot have a problem with that?”

BANTING MURDERS: Lawyers' nine dogs put down

The dogs at the poultry farm in Sungai Gadung were aggressive and had attacked other farm animals. — NST picture by Rosdan Wahid
The dogs at the poultry farm in Sungai Gadung were aggressive and had attacked other farm animals. — NST picture by Rosdan Wahid
BANTING: Nine pedigree dogs, belonging to the lawyer brothers from here, were put to sleep by Kuala Langat District Council officers yesterday. Six Rottweilers, two Dalmations and a bulldog were put down by lethal tranquilisers at the poultry farm in Sungai Gadung, believed to the scene of a quadruple murder.

The officers were seen entering the farm at 8.15am and left about two hours later with the carcasses in a pick-up lorry.

According to sources, since the murders were uncovered, the hungry dogs which were left unattended became aggressive and attacked other animals in the farm, such as goats, ducks and chickens.
The source said police had told the district council to catch the dogs but the team despatched to the area decided to put the dogs down as they were aggressive.

The carcasses were taken to the Sungai Sedu landfill in Telok Datuk, near here, to be buried.

Meanwhile, scores of local and foreign tourists on their way to a nearby longan farm and curious onlookers tried to get into the farm where the murders allegedly took place.

They were, however, turned away by policemen.

Longan farm owner Lim Soon Beng, 40, said he had lost thousands of ringgit since the entrance to his 6ha farm was sealed to give way to police investigations.

"I have been losing between RM2,000 and RM3,000 a day as my produce could not be transported out and tourists were stopped from entering the farm."

The two lawyer brothers, aged 41 and 38, from here, and five others were detained to facilitate investigations into the murders of Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya, 47, her driver Kamaruddin Shansudin, 44, banker Noorhisham Mohammad, 38, and lawyer Ahmad Kamil Abdul Karim, 32.

The four were killed and burnt and their ashes scattered in rivers.

Police have found bone fragments, a cricket bat and a knife after searching the rivers.

The bone fragments have been sent to the Chemistry Department for DNA analysis and the results are expected this week.

Sosilawati, the founder of the Nouvelles Visages beauty line, and her three aides were believed to have met one of the lawyers before they disappeared on Aug 30.

They were allegedly murdered at the farm belonging to the lawyer. The farm has, among others, a clubhouse, chalet and an office.

Two teams are carrying out the investigations, one on the quadruple murder and the other on the disappearance of three people and the murder of a housewife.


Read more: BANTING MURDERS: Lawyers' nine dogs put down http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/6det/Article/#ixzz103DajZEV

ONE MALAYSIA…… FACT OR FICTION?

By  Muralitharan Ramachandran - http://malaysianminorityindians.blogspot.com
With the most recent declaration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on his standpoint on 1 Malaysia which is not about racial equality, it is established that UMNO and Perkasa have ended their disagreement to preserve their Malay Supremacy agenda. This was already anticipated by non-Malays, setting the phase for even further extreme ethnic politicking and communal deterioration. In previous denial statements given by leaders such as Tengku Adnan, Khairy and others from UMNO regime on their ties with Perkasa, it is indeed an evident that it was purely a deception. The sudden diversion by the premier has also triumphed Tun Mahathir on his call for UMNO not to sever ties with Perkasa which, claimed by Tun Mahathir, will formulate unhappiness among the Malays. This has raised the eye-brows of many on Najib’s sudden diversion.


Najib’s action also has produced query on the power of UMNO if Tun Mahathir and Perkasa have control over it. The recent racial annotations by two school principals made non-Malays express dissatisfaction and anger over the issue while they observed on how UMNO protects their main stream media Utusan Malaysia and the right wing Perkasa even with their racial remarks being articulated frequently. Despites calls by various quarters of people including the opposition to get rid of Perkasa, the premier prefers to go on deaf ears. These actions proves that the 53 year old racist UMNO government is not susceptible over issues concerning other ethnics and will go beyond any extend in order to spark racial controversies and create disharmony among the variety of races just to remain in power and control. This indicates the failure of Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept and efforts to win the support of the non-Malays.


Najib’s failure is also a failure to BN components. Leaders of MCA, MIC and Gerakan have been promoting the Premier’s 1 Malaysia concept and praising UMNO leaders who were against Perkasa and Tun Mahathir on his stance on Perkasa. These leaders from the component parties have also given assurance to their respective ethnics and a supportive statement of UMNO is not racist party and it is against Perkasa. All their supportive statements about UMNO and Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept have set them on fire. They are now being magnified by their own people. UMNO have been their master for the past 53 years and it is indeed the appropriate time for serious confrontation by these component parties with its masters. The recent 12th general election has conveyed a message of dissatisfaction among the non-Malays towards the ruling UMNO/BN government.


Although the message sent is clear, Najib’s UMNO/BN government is ignorant about this significance and continues towards their creed of ‘KETUANAN MELAYU’. Are these component parties going to retain as a string-puppet to UMNO and prolong the lost of confidence by their own community? How are they going to act in response on this set down? Are they going to insist on a justification from the Premier or are they going to assist him to get away with his deception and twisting facts of 1 Malaysia? Or are they going to be tongue-tied on these issues and enjoy the cozy cabinet positions while betraying their community? Let us observe the deed of MCA, MIC and Gerakan on the treachery of their master. These BN components are indebted to us an answer….. 1 Malayisa - Is it a fact or Fiction?

Kulim: SITF's next stop in resolving Indian woes

KULIM: The Special Implementation Task Force (SITF) set up by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to resolve problems faced by the Indian community at strategic locations throughout the country is moving into high gear with its next stop in Kedah followed by Selangor and Pulau Pinang.

Following the success of its first meet-the-people programme in Ijok, Selangor last Aug 15, the SITF would hold its second programme on Sept 25 at Taman Selasih in Kulim between 10am and 4.30pm, said Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam, who is also the SITF chairman.

“Various government departments and agencies will be on hand to address the problems faced by the Indian community,” said the MIC vice-president who would also be present at the programme.

Among them would the National Registration Department to handle the issuance of birth certificates and identity cards; Social Welfare Department; Skills Development Department to offer skills training for youths; Tekun Nasional to provide small business loans; and the Social Security Organisation.

After Kedah, Subramaniam said SITF would move to Sepang in Selangor on Oct 3 followed by Perai, Pulau Pinang on Oct 16.

He said in each programme, the SITF would gather the problems of the Indian community and undertake measures to resolve them in a systematic manner.

“We don’t want to be accused of meeting people but not doing anything to resolve their problems. An action committee will follow-up on the problems brought to our attention,’ he added.

Citing the Ijok programme where almost 500 problems were being scrutinised by SITF, the minister said welfare cases topped the list of problems followed by identification cards and birth certificates.

Subramaniam said the main objective of the SITF which was made up mainly of MIC leaders and corporate figures, was to ensure that the decisions of the cabinet committee for the Indian community chaired by the prime minister were effectively implemented.

He said the SITF would act as a government delivery system at strategic locations where the people would have access to the various government departments and agencies.

Missing 'cult-like' group found alive after suicide fears

Members of a church group led by Reyna Chicas were reported missing amid fears they may have planned to take their own lives.

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- A group of 13 Salvadoran immigrants missing in southern California amid fears that they planned a cult-like mass suicide have been found alive, unhurt and upset to find they were the subjects of an extensive search.

Authorities had been scouring the Palmdale area of northern Los Angeles County on horseback and by helicopter Sunday in search of the group, which included eight children between the ages of 3 and 17, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. A resident spotted one of the vehicles identified in the lookout at a park and notified the sheriff's department, he said.

One woman in the group told CNN they were "perfectly OK" and were shocked and angry to learn that such an extensive search was under way. The woman, who would not give her name, said they had been praying all night in the park, that they had done this routinely and that their husbands were aware of the practice.

The search began Saturday afternoon, when the husbands of two women in the group reported them missing, the Sheriff's Department said. One of the men said their wives were part of a "cult-like group" and had been "brainwashed" by its leader, and Whitmore said the wife left a purse with her husband and asked her "to pray over" it.

When the husband opened the purse, he found money, mobile phones and notes that "talked about meeting Jesus, talked about deceased relatives soon to meet up," Whitmore told CNN earlier Sunday. That raised concerns that the group members planned to take their own lives, he said.

The husbands told investigators that the group had broken away from a Christian church in the Los Angeles area "and formed a separate group that included both traditional and non-traditional practices and beliefs," the Sheriff's Department said Saturday. Its leader, whom investigators identified as Reyna Marisol Chicas, had taken her followers on a similar outing six months ago "in the apparent belief that there was going to be a major earthquake."

Several members of the group spoke with investigators, and Chicas was held for questioning after giving deputies a false name, Whitmore said. Though no crime had been committed and the group appeared to be praying for 'honest and well-meaning things," he said deputies had to investigate once their husbands filed missing persons reports.

"The letters themselves could be interpreted in many ways," Whitmore said. "Now, some of the language in it could be interpreted as saying goodbye as relatives, but that's an interpretation." But given the husbands' concerns, "It is better to overreact than underreact," he said.

Teoh inquest: Mystery note tendered as exhibit

(Malaysiakini) A note said to be deceased DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock's 'final testament', written in Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese, has been tendered as an exhibit at the inquest into his death.

Speaking to reporters during a recess, Teoh's family lawyer Gobind Singh Deo confirmed that the note is the original copy he had seen last month.

The note was found in Teoh's backpack, left in the Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office on July 16 last year.
The MACC had interrogaNONEted Teoh (left) overnight on July 15, in connection with a probe into alleged misuse of funds by his employer and Selangor exco Ean Yong Hian Wah.
His body was found the next afternoon on the fifth floor service corridor of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam. The Selangor MACC has its office on Level 14 of the building.
The item was not initially listed as evidence by police investigating officer Ahmad Nazri Zainal.

Testifying before the coroner today, he said he did not list many of the personal items in the bag because he found them "of little value".

The items listed included Teoh's Mykad, digital camera battery charger and Tesco customer loyalty card.
Also found were a VCD, mineral water, computer accessories, note books and some pieces of paper.
The note and other previously unlisted items were only recorded on Oct 7, 2009 with several items, including the 'mysterious' note which was then submitted to the Chemistry Department for examination.

These were previously stored in a locked cabinet in Ahmad Nazri's office.

GobindNONE (right) has requested that the court interpreter who provided the translation for the note be made available to take the stand when the inquest resumes at 2pm.

"She is now on duty at the High Court. If she agrees with our suggestion, then there will be no need for us to call our own interpreter," he said.
Ahmad Nazri had testified this morning that MACC officer Zurinawati Zulkifli - who alerted him to the presence of the bag - had refused to sign a handover form because she was not assigned to the case for which Teoh had been called for questioning.

He said Zurinawati told him that the MACC investigating officer on the case, Mohd Anuar Ismail who was not present at the time, had initially taken the bag into his office.

However, Ahmad Nazri said that, when he saw the bag it was on a sofa outside another officer's office.
The black bag and the main contents were tendered as exhibits today.
The police officer also testified that he found that a window on Level 14 was ajar and that the handle was missing and appeared to have been broken off.

"(Teoh's body) was found directly below the window," he said, adding that the forensics team arrived at 4pm.
'Not suicide'
At the previous hearing of the inquest, Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand stood by her original testimony that Teoh did not commit suicide, refuting the findings of other three other pathologists.
Present today are lawyers Tan Hock Chuan, representing the Attorney-General's Chambers, and Abdul Razak Musa who heads the MACC prosecution unit.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar is acting for the Selangor government.

Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas is presiding over the inquest in Shah Alam, Selangor.

Sodomy trial: Anwar's appeal to strike out charge dismissed

By FMT Staff

FMT ALERT PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has dismissed Anwar Ibrahim's appeal on a High Court refusal to throw out his sodomy charge.
The appeal was dismissed by a three-man panel led by Justice Ahmad Maarop after ruling that the Court of Appeal had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Anwar had appealed the Aug 16 decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court which had dismissed his application to strike out the sodomy charge.

The matter was to have been heard last week but was adjourned to today following an application by the prosecution on jurisdictional issue.

The prosecution team, headed by Solicitor-General II Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden, had raised a preliminary objection in saying Anwar did not have the right to lodge an appeal against the High Court's decision because the order by the High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah was not a final order.

Anwar's application to strike out the sodomy charge was based on his claim that the impartiality of the prosecution team had been compromised following an alleged affair between Anwar's accuser Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan and a member of the prosecution team, deputy public prosecutor Farah Azlina Latif.

He claimed that as a result of the alleged affair, Mohd Saiful had access to information on the case, and that had deprived him of a fair trial.

This is his second application to strike out the sodomy charge. His first application had been dismissed by the High Court, a decision which was upheld by the Federal Court on May 4 this year.

Anwar, 63, is on trial for allegedly sodomising Mohd Saiful, his former personal aide at unit 11-5-1, Desa Damansara Condominium, Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara, between 3.01pm and 4.30pm, on June 26, 2008.
Anwar's trial will now resume tomorrow morning at the KL High Court.

MORE TO FOLLOW

Nurul Izzah sees red over KTMB land sale

By Stephanie Sta Maria - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The latest sale of prime land belonging to Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) has come under fire from Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar.

In a press statement today, she pointed out that the eight-hectare site worth RM400 million, located behind the former Unilever headquarters along Jalan Bangsar, was sold for a pittance of RM50 million to Pelaburan Hartanah Bhd (PHB).

PHB is the subsidiary of Yayasan Amanah Hartanah Bumiputera, a foundation set up in 2006 to raise Bumiputera property ownership.

Nurul Izzah, who is also PKR's new deputy FT chief, questioned whether future properties developed on that land would then ultimately be sold to Bumiputeras at a deep discount.

“Who will gain most from the 80% discount that PHB has enjoyed?” she asked. “Would it be the developers or would the discount trickle down to the rakyat when it's time for them to rent or buy the properties?”

She also wondered whether PNB would restrict ownership transfer to ensure that the properties remain in Bumiputera hands.

“Once again, could state institutions and government lands be used to enrich a selected few? I hope that the Bumiputera property policy will not be manipulated the way it was in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) modus operandi.”

Land could have contributed to KTMB revenue

Nurul Izzah said the land would have been better used as a source of recurring revenue for KTMB. She explained that KTMB could jointly develop the land and have an equitable share of the proceeds.

“The rental of the property itself would provide a sustainable income for KTMB. This is how the MRT services in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the London Underground sustain their railway services for public benefit.”

“In return, this could not only put KTMB back in the black but also encourage lower ticket prices and more efficient services to the rakyat.”

Referring to the KTMB land in Tanjung Pagar, she said this transaction raised similar unanswered questions and is a form of indirect subsidy only for a minority.

While expressing hope that she would be proven wrong, Nurul Izzah promised that she would monitor this development closely to ensure that the people are granted transparency and accountability from the government.

“I'm also going to propose a bipartisan caucus in the next parliamentary sitting to monitor the implementation of Bumiputera policies,” she said. “The caucus will be able to produce an annual report for the public on the results and list of beneficiaries.”

Dr M's blog 'may harm your computer'

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad's blog has become the latest website to join the “may harm your computer” list. Last week, several websites, including news portals, had faced a similar problem rendering them inaccessible to readers.

Mahathir's Che Det blog is one of the most popular online sites in the country and has spawned many controversies -- of late regarding his thoughts on the special position of Malays.

His views, which have been labelled as “highly racist” and his open support for groups like Perkasa have put Umno and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in a tight spot.

The 84-year-old former premier launched himself into cyberspace after the mainstream media blacked out his views during the tenure of his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

During that period, an ostracised Mahathir had accused Abdullah of attempting to stifle dissent and suppress freedom of expression.

The octogenarian's critics had found this odd since Mahathir was known to be critical of alternative views, especially those published on the Internet, towards the last years of his premiership.

Che Det is Mahathir's nickname as a child and his pen name when he had contributed articles to newspapers in his youth.

Malaysia's religious problems: The way forward

By Pak Sako - Free Malaysia Today

COMMENT "You are my brother and I love you. I love you worshipping in your church, kneeling in your temple, and praying in your mosque. You and I and all are children of one religion, for the varied paths of religion are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being, extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, anxious to receive all.

I love you for your Truth, derived from your knowledge; that Truth which I cannot see because of my ignorance. But I respect it as a divine thing, for it is the deed of the spirit. Your Truth shall meet my Truth in the coming world and blend together like the fragrance of flowers and becoming one whole and eternal Truth, perpetuating and living in the eternity of Love and Beauty."
— Kahlil Gibran, A Tear And A Smile (1914)

Religious pluralism is a cornerstone for achieving harmony in societies with people of varied faiths. Yet in multi-religious Malaysia politicians shy away from discussing religious pluralism. It is difficult to get straight answers about their stand on or commitment to it.

Take for example the recently concluded panel discussion on 'National Unity through Religion, Law and Shared Values' at UCSI University in KL. It is unclear whether religious pluralism or religious bigotry were fruitfully discussed. The contents of the discussion are not made public enough. It can be gleaned from news reports that there were barely satisfactory answers to barely satisfactory questions.

What is conspicuous is that there is an excruciating lack of focus on the heart of the issue.

Here I refocus attention on what really matters.

Good values and spirituality should be the essence, not religion per se

If a religious position is to be taken by any political party or any citizen that is founded on respect for religious beliefs and support for the freedom to practice any religion (or none at all), then this position should encourage living a life guided by a universal set of shared moral values and one containing aspects of the spiritual, whatever the religious or non-religious route taken. It follows that religion is a means towards these larger goals. This awareness is cardinal. Unity is achieved as a result of these common goals, not by having or propagating any particular religion.

What we should first abandon is the ambition to create a state of “one mankind under one religion”. We should not harbour false and childish hopes that only through one religion for all can we get people to step onto the expressway of righteousness and practice moral values, or that only thus can we lead everyone to the promised land of God-realisation, as if it is our duty and right. Such an aspiration is but a certain road to perdition.

Instead, we should be enlightened and courageous enough to consider accepting that people can take many valid paths towards goals of spirituality and right living.

We should be enlightened and courageous enough to consider admitting that no religion or belief system has a monopoly of or is exclusively privy to these moral values or “steps to the ultimate blessings of God or heaven”.

We should awaken to the fact that moral values and spiritual teachings are not exhaustively found in any one religion. The teachings of one religion can be instructive to adherents of another religion and vice versa.

We should be able to say that the choice of religion is a personal one; that in line with the right to freely practice one's religion as one shall practice it, religion and religious practices should not be imposed upon any individual such as by the authorities or the state, or by a society that has been so conditioned by state policy that it passively imposes religion upon its own members.

Should there be a public demand for religious guidance or for places of worship, then this shall be provided. In no uncertain terms should this be seen to imply consent for the imposition of religion or its practices by a righteous authority.

These are among the things that the so-called religious democrats should be forthright about, but are not.

This is what we should be striving for if we believe in a Malaysia that is just, free and harmoniously multi-religious, but are not.

There are serious obstacles to these that we are reluctant to come to terms with, but must.

Religious chauvinism as a disease to eradicate

These specific obstacles are almost never clearly enunciated. Here they are:
  • The desire amongst members of society to preach their religions as better or superior alternatives to the religions or belief systems of others and thereby to seek to convert others to their own religion
  • The related belief that non-believers are lowly, of unequal standing or blessing and their religions inadequate and contemptible
  • The refusal or inability to approve the values or truths contained in other religions or belief systems regardless of their merit
  • The related fear that this might shake one's faith in one's religion, or render one's religion comparatively less glorious, or disadvantage one's religion in the competition for religious propagation
  • The myopia of "only one brotherhood through one way of God" that prevents the acceptance of all religious adherents under an umbrella of one humanity in which other belief systems are acknowledged as valid.
This condition and process, which can for brevity be termed religious chauvinism, is the eye of the storm in all the religious tensions and misunderstandings we have witnessed in Malaysia.

The mentality described is widespread and fairly entrenched. The psychology of insecurity and the politics shaping it are interesting and worthy of separate examination.

But the implication is unequivocal. It clashes with the hopes of building a Malaysian society that is genuinely accepting (not merely “tolerant”) of a diversity of religions and cultures.

It means that lasting peace and unity amongst our people is to remain out of our reach so long as this is left to get out of control.

What remains to be done and a challenge to the politicians

It is for the preceding reasons that this matter must be urgently addressed. If a united Malaysia is in our interest, then an honest, open and peaceable national dialogue on this must commence. It should involve the issues mentioned here and others, such as religious propagation, its targets and the ethics of its methods.

Relegating religious talks of understanding to practically useless and toothless inter-faith panels behind closed doors is a cowardly act of evasion. Understanding and consensus must emerge from the majority — the entirety of Malaysians.

We should also cease deceiving ourselves with superficial multi-cultural and multi-religious images and slogans that are purpose-crafted for international consumption or national celebrations. This lulls us into inaction.

To dodge discussion by offering excuses (e.g., "Malaysians are not ready for this") is an unacceptable denial of reality and maturity. To delay further is to permit more, avoidable conflicts. It is to shirk from the shared responsibility of nation-building.

We need to stop the factors that perpetuate religious chauvinism, remedy existing attitudes and inculcate multi-culturalism and multi-religiousness as the definite Malaysian way.

In view of this, to the politicians and policymakers of Umno, MCA, PAS, PKR and DAP, I put the following question:

Do you have the guts, will and conviction (i) to discuss the issue of religious pluralism and bigotry clearly and openly; (ii) to establish multi-culturalism and religious pluralism as a prime policy and encourage it amongst your supporters and colleagues within your political parties; and (iii) to act decisively to correct the problem of religious chauvinism and prejudice such as those highlighted here?


This article first appeared at the Centre for Policy Initiatives' website.

Don’t you dare abandon the BN, Ibans warned

By Joseph Tawie - Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: The Iban community cannot afford to abandon the BN in the coming state election. To do so will mean they will suffer and be left behind, warned state assemblyman Snowdan Lawan.
“We will suffer if we abandon the state Barisan Nasional. This is because the state BN has been in Sarawak for nearly 50 years and has a good track record.

“To me the state BN government is just like a university. It is just like Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard... the older they are the more prestigious and
famous they become.

“The state BN is not only well known, famous and prestigious, it has a good track record in terms of developing the state,” said the Balai Ringgin representative at a dinner organised by the Siol Kandis branch of the Sarawak Dayak National Union on Saturday.

Lawan urged Ibans not to listen to certain quarters which wanted to introduce new ideas and bring changes to the state.

Snowdan’s remarks were an obvious response to the recent call made by Sarawak PKR chief  Baru Bian for a change in the government in the state.

'Fatal mistake'


Bian had said that their forefathers had agreed to join Sabah, Singapore and Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia because they had high hopes that Sarawak would one day enjoy  greater economic development, prosperity and security.

“But for 47 years under the BN, their dreams and visions had not been achieved. This was because Sarawak was neglected by the BN.

“We must therefore change the current leadership and replace it with the Pakatan Rakyat government,” said Bian.

Snowdan, who is Parti Rakyat Sarawak’s deputy secretary general said: “It will be a fatal mistake, if you support the opposition.

"It is just like building a new university whose records are uncertain and it will take at least 50 years to achieve the desired results.

“What we should do is for us to replace the lecturers if they are not good rather than getting rid of the university and build a new one,” he said.

Umno-Perkasa reconciliation: All eyes on MCA, MIC, Gerakan

BN - equal or not equal?
Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

As expected, Umno and Perkasa have reconciled, setting the stage for even more intense racial politicking and social disintegration. It also places a huge question mark on the future of MCA, Gerakan and MIC and their ability to protect and speak up for their communities.

For not only is the Umno-Perkasa patch-up a resounding victory for the conservatives in Umno led by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s multi-racial 1Malaysia plan has also been scuttled. Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan now says 1Malaysia is not about racial equality.

“The Umno-Perkasa reconciliation is very significant. In the past Umno denied links to Perkasa. But because no one believed it, it was forced to publicly reject Perkasa. Now it has publicly made up with Perkasa. What does this mean for Malaysians,” Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham told Malaysia Chronicle.

Najib and Tengku Adnan
“It means that, for whatever his reasons, Najib is still unwilling to discard ketuanan Melayu. Yet we have Soi Lek insisting that Umno has never believed in Malay supremacy. This is now proven to be a bare-faced lie. Not only has Soi Lek failed to represent the views of the Chinese community, he has even lied to them for the sake of helping Umno to retain power and this is totally unacceptable. It is time for them to take stock of themselves and what is happening to Malaysia."

A big let down for the BN components

Apart from Chua Soi Lek, the MCA president, Gerakan chief Koh Tsu Koon and MIC head S Samy Vellu have also been ridiculed and condemned for their part in the Najib-Umno 'sandiwara'. MCA, Gerakan and MIC had rushed to cheer-lead the announcement by Tengku Adnan that Umno would reject Perkasa and its president Ibrahim Ali. This would be the start of a new Malaysian era, they had proclaimed.

Soi Lek
“As a secretary-general I can tell you, we have nothing to do with Perkasa, and certain things Perkasa is doing we are not happy with because they are eroding our support. When they talk about my Chinese friends or my Indian friends, they make us lose more votes,” Tengku Adnan had said on September 8.

But sadly, Najib and now Tengku Adnan has let them down - without apology or explanation. On Sunday, the Umno sec-gen was forced to deny his words after Najib himself made a sharp U-turn two days ago. Now, not only has the PM's prized 1Malaysia plan fizzled out, but it appears his New Economic Model due to be fleshed out next month will also not contain any significant reforms. This ultimately means that endemic high-level government corruption will continue to remain a staple of Malaysian life.

Tsu Koon
“I didn’t even ask members of Umno to relinquish their relationship with Perkasa. It was totally blown out of proportion by Ibrahim Ali. When we had a meeting with BN secretaries-general, we never talked even a little bit that we wanted to distance ourselves from anybody. Our policy is to be close with everybody. We should even go and approach opposition members and explain what our policies are because they are misguided,” back-tracked Tengku Adnan on Sunday.

All eyes are now on how MCA, MIC and Gerakan will respond. Will they insist on a clear-cut explanation from Najib or will they help him to excuse away his latest failure?

Samy Vellu
“Once and for all, MCA, Gerakan and MIC should confront the reality. They don’t need the opposition to tell them, the 2008 election is already enough. But these guys wanted the glory and cushy Cabinet posts. For that they sold out the communities they represent. If they have any decency, they would make a final stand. But I am sure they won’t because they have become like Umno - the money and goodies outweigh social conscience and responsibility,” PKR vice president Lee Boon Chye told Malaysia Chronicle.

*******************************************
Leaders from MCA, MIC and MIC have gone record, praising Tengku Adnan and Umno for the bold move to break off from racial and religious agitation practiced by Perkasa and Mahathir. When Mahathir warned Umno it would be suicidal to dismiss Perkasa, the BN components even condemned him for advising his party to regress. Malaysia Chronicle appends below their quotes sourced from various mainstream media.

MCA

“In my association or the MCA’s association with Umno, I have never heard of any Umno leader who says that the Malays are more superior than the non-Malays. No,” said MCA president Chua Soi Lek, when asked by reporters if Singapore's Lee Kuan was correct in saying Malaysia subscribed to racial policies that favored the Malays

"MCA welcomes the comments by various UMNO leaders in distancing themselves from the racist espousals of Perkasa led by its chairman Dato’ Ibrahim Ali by acknowledging that such association with Perkasa would lead to UMNO’s erosion of support," MCA sec-gen Kong Cho Ha said in a statement.

"Meanwhile, we regret to read the remarks by a prominent public figure who claims that UMNO needs backing from Perkasa if it does not want to risk Barisan Nasional losing support. BN does not consist of only one political party, but is an alliance which comprises various political parties representing all the ethnic groups in Malaysia. Hence, BN thrives on the support rendered by every race, not only from the Malays."

Gerakan

"The statement also reflects the liberal and moderate stand of Barisan Nasional component parties towards all races," Bernama reported Gerakan president Koh Tsu Koon as saying when asked to comment on Tengku Adnan's remarks that Umno would distance itself from Perkasa.

“Unfortunately, Dr Mahathir's latest statement has sent out a very disturbing message,” Gerakan Youth deputy chief Oh Tong Keong Oh said in a statement when Mahathir urged Umno not to break away from Perkasa.

“If Umno has to embrace a racist group like Perkasa for fear of losing 'the Malays' support', as suggested by Dr Mahathir, and other ethnic-based political parties from both sides of the political divide follow suit, then where is Malaysia? How about us Malaysians?”

MIC

“It is not the right thing to do to practise racism as it can affect the country’s stability,” said MIC vice-president Datuk M. Saravanan, referring to Perkasa and the reason behind Umno wishing to distance itself from Perkasa..

“Perkasa is not saying the right things.Non-Malays have never begrudged the position of Malays as enshrined in the Constitution. They have to rethink their actions,” said former MIC deputy president Datuk S Subramaniam.

Umno’s Perkasa dilemma

Before: Perkasa is not a threat
“At the end of the day, it’s the government that decides on everything. I don’t think Perkasa will win if it contested in the general election… it has even used the PAS ticket to win.”
Perkasa logo
Perkasa logo
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz uses sarcasm to dismiss Perkasa which is led by independent Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Ibrahim Ali who won in Pasir Mas on a PAS ticket. Ibrahim has also frequently changed political parties in the past. (Source: Perkasa not a threat, say Umno leaders, Free Malaysia Today, 5 April 2010)
“I never saw Perkasa as a threat at all because Umno has been in existence since 1946 and has struggled for the Malay community. Every community has benefited directly or indirectly from Umno’s leaders who are also the nation’s leaders. So I do not see Perkasa as a threat but what is the threat? I have always been fighting for the country, race and religion. There is no threat at all.”
Ahmad Maslan (source: parlimen.gov.my)
Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Umno information chief and Pontian MP, when asked for his comments on Perkasa earlier this year. Other Umno leaders like supreme council member Datuk Bung Mukhtar Radin, party deputy permanent chairperson Datuk Seri Mohamad Aziz, and Umno Youth deputy chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim, also said they did not believe Perkasa was a threat to Malay Malaysian support for Umno. (Source: Perkasa not a threat, say Umno leaders, Free Malaysia Today, 5 April 2010)
“Perkasa is not so extreme, if you listen to them carefully. They can shout about Malay rights as long as they are not extreme in their views, and you know, to the extent that we can accommodate Perkasa. And we can [also accommodate] the non-Malays [...]”
“They are by and large supportive of Umno and they believe that Umno is the only vehicle that can really not only promote Malay interest but really hold this country together.”
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in an interview with satellite channel Al Jazeera aired before both the Hulu Selangor and Sibu by-elections. He was explaining the New Economic Model and how the government deals with groups like Perkasa. (Source: Perkasa not so extreme, Al Jazeera interview as reported by Malaysiakini, 3 April 2010)
Now: Some Umno leaders try to distance the party from Perkasa
“The Umno members in Perkasa are rejects from our party and the leaders at all levels of Umno are with the Prime Minister and his 1Malaysia concept; that is why we will never subscribe to Perkasa’s way of fighting for the rights of the Malays.”
Nazri dismissing Perkasa again, but this time adding that the group’s way of championing Malay Malaysian rights will lead to racial discord and perhaps even riots. Just before this, Ibrahim had said that Perkasa was strong enough on its own and did not need Umno’s support. (Source: BN leaders band together in stand over Perkasa, The Star, 10 Sept 2010)
“The struggles of Umno are more holistic than Perkasa’s. Umno fights for the Malays and Malaysians, which Umno had been fighting for since 1946.”
Umno information chief Ahmad, saying Perkasa’s fight was only for the rights of one single race while Umno’s agenda was bigger and wider in scope. (Source: BN leaders band together in stand over Perkasa, The Star, 10 Sept 2010)
“They are not wanted in Umno, they are no more leaders, they are just ordinary members. Umno has nothing to do with Perkasa.
“Why should Umno support him (Ibrahim Ali)? Umno should put a candidate in Pasir Mas. We will contest in Pasir Mas.”
Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (source: parlimen.gov.my)
Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, saying Perkasa was eroding Barisan Nasional’s (BN) support among non-Malay Malaysians. He said the party would not back Ibrahim in the next general election. Tengku Adnan also said most Perkasa leaders consisted of those who were defeated in the last Umno elections who were now seeking a political platform to be heard.
Tengku Adnan reminded Perkasa leaders that BN had to address the needs of all racial groups in the country. In response, Ibrahim snapped back, saying that 60% of Perkasa members were Umno members. He is also mulling the possibility of political cooperation with other parties in the next election.(Source: Umno rejects Perkasa, The Star, 9 Sept 2010)
” … In Umno, we defend Malay rights but we believe there is a place for all Malaysians.
We want all groups to understand this part.”
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin calling Perkasa’s views one-sided as it did not take into account other communities. (Source: Umno leaders reject Perkasa’s ‘narrow struggle’, New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)
“We should reject ethnocentricity in this country, it should not be encouraged.”
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi saying Perkasa’s struggle was ethnocentric in nature while Umno also fought for the rights of non-Malays. (Source: Umno leaders reject Perkasa’s ‘narrow struggle’, New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)
“They should work just as an NGO and carry out their programmes as one.”
Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar describing Perkasa as nothing more than a non-governmental organisation. (Source: Umno leaders reject Perkasa’s ‘narrow struggle’, New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)
“Perkasa is hurting us, our chances in gaining non-Malay votes. For Umno, BN to win, we cannot afford to be associated with these people. They are alienating us from a large segment of voters.”
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who has been at loggerheads with Ibrahim, saying Umno must disassociate itself from the group. At a Ramadan forum, Khairy also said: “If there is a situation where Umno chooses Perkasa over me, I will leave (the party).” (Source: Khairy wants Umno, BN to move away from Perkasa, The Malaysian Insider, 27 August 2010)
…and here’s how the Umno president and country’s prime minister addresses Perkasa.
“They are not against us. They are talking more about bumiputera rights. But actually we are not taking anything away from the bumiputera, but we are saying that let us do it differently. Let us get better results. Let us achieve a more equitable society. But at the same time, [be] fair to the non-bumiputras as well. Because we want to build a One Malaysia.”
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on CNBC Asia, when asked why former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Perkasa were getting upset with the current leadership. (Source: Transcript of CNBC Asia’s interview with PM Najib, The New Straits Times, 11 Sept 2010)
“…it troubles me to see a rise in issues rooted in extremism in the nation. This is not limited to racism. Extremists are groups or [individuals] who subscribe to radical views and actions against others. They treat anyone who is different as an enemy and engineer fear in people who don’t conform to their thoughts or ideologies and in some cases in people who simply look different.
“I am strongly opposed to these types of behaviour. It saddens me that despite living in an independent multi-cultural nation for over 50 years, there are still those who cannot tolerate, much less accept the benefits of a [diverse] society. It saddens me because by rejecting our [diverse] way of life, they reject 1Malaysia.”
Najib a few days later, in his official address for Malaysia Day posted on his website. He did not name Perkasa but talked about groups which he said may be “small in number” but whose “presence is amplified through their extreme sentiments and acts.” He said Malaysians should remain calm and rational and that the government would keep a watchful eye on such groups. (Source: Our Fight Against Extremism, www.1Malaysia.com.my, 15 Sept 2010)
But when subsequently pressed by reporters to clarify whether he was referring to Perkasa or not, Najib dodged the question and said he wasn’t talking about any specific group. He added that Umno considered Perkasa to be like any other NGO, and that the government did not want to be in conflict with any NGO. After Najib’s reply to reporters, Tengku Adnan, too, denied ever saying that Umno and BN wanted to distance themselves from Perkasa.

More than Sri Lankan Tamil

Meera Samanther (all pics courtesy of Meera Samanther)
WOMEN’S rights activist Meera Samanther left legal practice in 1995, thinking she would have a short break after a difficult pregnancy. “I thought I would volunteer for a while, do some charity work,” she tells The Nut Graph. She started helping at the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)’s shelter and ended up becoming its president, actively advocating for women’s rights for the last 15 years. WAO, along with other women’s groups, played an instrumental role in bringing about the amendment to Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, prohibiting discrimination based on gender.
Meera says advocacy plays an important role in women’s rights. “I realised when I started volunteering that we couldn’t just do band-aid work,” she says. “We also had to advocate for changing the law and the policies. We couldn’t do one without the other.”
The Nut Graph interviewed Meera at her home in Kuala Lumpur on 28 July 2010.
TNG: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Meera: I was born in Kuala Lumpur in 1959. I lived in Kajang till I was five, and then we moved to Ampang Hilir, as my dad was working as a civil servant with Jabatan Kerja Raya [Public Works Department].
What are your strongest memories of the place where you grew up?
A young Meera with her family
We went back to Kajang every weekend and holidays to see all my relatives. I remember roaming the streets with my cousins and brothers. There was a railway line behind my grandmother’s house and we used to walk on it. There would be 10 to 15 of us and when the train was approaching, we would come down the tracks. I remember that vividly; till today, we talk about it and how dangerous it was. We’d walk everywhere — sometimes to town, a mile or so away, to eat ice kacang or tauhu bakar.
The other big impact in my life is my school, BBGS (Bukit Bintang Girls School). Until today, my primary and secondary school friends still meet up. For our 50th birthdays last year, we organised a two-day event at a hotel, with activities. Friends from all over the world came, it was lovely.
Can you trace your ancestry? How did your parents/grandparents come to Malaysia?

Meera's maternal grandmother
Maternal grandmother
My paternal and maternal grandparents came from Sri Lanka. In fact, my parents were related. It was not uncommon at that time to marry your relatives. As a result, the link between my dad and mum’s siblings is very strong.
My grandparents came from a village called Tellipillai in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. There was a very strong sentiment, especially from my dad, about our Sri Lankan ethnicity. I was indoctrinated that, “You’re Sri Lankan Tamil. You’re not Indian, you’re Sri Lankan”. There was a kind of snobbish attitude amongst Sri Lankans.
So what was the reaction to your marriage to a Chinese Malaysian?
Oh, good grief. It was blue murder! It was extremely tough. I nearly wanted to pack my bags and leave. My husband was the sane one, he said we’re not getting married under these circumstances, we have to win them over. My dad had passed away so his brother met with my husband to try and “talk sense” into him and dissuade him.
Meera's Hindu wedding ceremony
Meera's Hindu wedding ceremony
My uncle told my husband everyone was very unhappy about us wanting to marry. But my family members all seemed to like him after meeting him. So my husband told my uncle a story about an [African] man looking to rent a room in London. Everywhere he went, he was told by white house owners that they would love to rent him a room but someone else would object. “My neighbours,” one said. “My spouse wouldn’t want an African man here,” another told him and the excuses went on. At the end of the story, my husband said to my uncle, “Don’t tell me what other people are saying. If you have a problem with me, tell me so yourself.” He won my uncle over. My uncle rang my mum after that and said, “I think he’s a good guy.”
And then my brothers had a meeting with him and still didn’t succeed in dissuading my husband. So that was it. I told my mother, “I’m getting married on this date”. She started crying but miraculously, the next day, she relented. And since that day, it’s been fine. He won everyone over eventually, especially my brothers.
Are there any stories you hold onto from your family?
Meera and her father
Being held by her father
I’ve lost both my parents now. I remember the most fun moments were when we went to Port Dickson. We always went with a huge group of relatives. When we got there, we would open the car boot, and there would always be big tubs of mee hoon, curry and rice. We would eat from paper plates, go swimming, come back, eat some more, go back to swim. Those are wonderful memories. We didn’t have to travel far, we just went to Port Dickson, and we were so happy.
My relatives were in my house all the time. I remember sleeping in the hall with bodies strewn all over. After dinner, my dad would say, “Let’s go buy ice kacang” and we’d all troop out for dessert.
How do you connect to these stories as a Malaysian?
Being Malaysian wasn’t something we thought about much. We didn’t really reflect on what it is to be Malaysian. It was never an issue.
Meera and her husband
I suppose for my parents, there was always an affinity to Sri Lanka. They talked about life there, they brought me there when I was 11 to have a look. As for me now, I definitely don’t see myself as a pendatang, and I totally reject that notion. If that’s the word, everybody’s a pendatang everywhere. This is my land.
But many from my generation keep focusing on what they’re not getting, and instead of fighting for it and claiming it back, they just get into the habit of comparing life elsewhere. People ask me sometimes, “So your child is studying overseas, you wouldn’t mind him living overseas, would you?” I say no, I want him back in this country. I hope he will choose it himself rather than me telling him. This is home. I don’t want them to stay away, not at all.
There’s struggle everywhere and you always think the grass is greener on the other side. […]
Are there any aspects of your identity that you struggle with?
The struggle I had was always having to think I’m Sri Lankan Tamil, in everything I did. I was always told, “When you get married, make sure it’s to a Sri Lankan Tamil.” Most of my relatives married Sri Lankan Tamils — my cousins, brothers. I was the first in my father and mother’s family to marry a non-Sri Lankan, non-Indian. The ball started rolling after that, my cousins said I paved the path for them.
The thing is, I don’t even see my husband as Chinese and me as Sri Lankan Tamil, even though we come from two different cultures. Sometimes, it’s only when we stand side by side in the mirror, then I realise, he’s fairer and he is Chinese.
Describe the kind of Malaysia you would like for yourself and for future generations.

First, I don’t want race-based parties. Can we just go on principle and issues?

Meera with her family and mother-in-law
Meera with her family and mother-in-law
I would like the national economic policy to be based on needs, not race. And I would like to imagine a day when we see a civil service as I saw it when my father was a civil servant. Where [anyone] can rise to the top, where there are many ethnic groups. That would be a major change.
I want a secular state. I believe and know that Malaysia is a secular state and we should reclaim that. I want the institutions and leaders to claim it and believe it, not just the non-governmental organisations.
On women’s rights — where to begin? We need a sexual harassment and gender equality legislation enacted. I think many still don’t understand what gender equality means and we need that defined in the gender equality legislation. All we have to do is follow the definition in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (Cedaw) but the courts, in the Beatrice Fernandez case, failed to do that.