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Monday, October 25, 2010

DAP wants review of History subject

Pua expressed concern that the government would take a revisionist approach to History for the secondary school syllabus. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — The DAP demanded today that the Najib administration review completely the SPM History syllabus before making it a “must-pass” subject beginning 2013.

Tony Pua, the DAP national publicity secretary, claimed that the government’s sudden interest was likely to be selective — emphasising Malay rights provisions and conveniently neglecting others.

“Given the announcement of the measure at a Umno national convention, the focus will naturally be on Article 153 and other related articles with regards to Malay rights.

“Will there be an equal emphasis on say, Article 8 which states that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”? asked Pua.

Pua said that the onus was on Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to form an independent advisory and review body to conduct a complete “overhaul” of the subject before it is made compulsory.

“We fear that this new measure is a blatant attempt to indoctrinate our students with a narrow and biased interpretation of our Federal Constitution and our country’s founding history.

“We call upon the DPM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to first convene a independent advisory and review body comprising of representatives from the Bar Council, eminent retired judges as well as renowned academics on the history of Malaya,” Pua told reporters today.

The SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) is the national examination for all fifth formers across their country before completing their secondary education. The examination results will decide their passage to tertiary education opportunities locally and abroad.

Umno can keep Putrajaya, give rakyat the rest if...

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar has given Umno president Najib Tun Razak 30 days to decide if he wants be like the noble warrior Hang Tuah or the delusional Mat Jenin.

Commenting on his speech at last week's Umno general assembly, the PKR leader noted that Najib had made references to two of the Malay cultural iconic characters.

As for Hang Tuah, she said the legendary warrior symbolised the noble virtues of courage and fair play, and would never resort to using underhand tactics against his opponents.

Nurul, who is the daughter of PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim, called on Najib, who is also prime minister, to turn his speech into action within 30 days while the Parliament was still in session.

For starters, she said Najib should repeal all anti-democratic laws since he had stressed that Malay rights were locked with a golden key and enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“Therefore in Parliament, he must repeal all anti-democratic laws such as the ISA (Internal Security Act), UUCA (Universities and University Colleges Act) and PPA (Printing Presses and Publications Act), which are no longer needed to protect those rights,” she added.

Since Najib mentioned that the Malays could compete with the best, Nurul said: Therefore in Parliament, the prime minister must guarantee to take measures so that there will be free and fair elections.”

'Big palace, imaginary princess'

The PKR MP said since Najib said that in the modern era, Malays would have to face competition of the minds, he should ensure freedom of the press to create an informed society.

“Let these three benchmarks be a test of whether the Umno president has the moral leadership that he has expounded in his speech, and the courage and fair play of Hang Tuah.

“Or would he choose to follow in the delusional steps of a Mat Jenin who by the way according to legend fell off the proverbial coconut tree when he extended his arms to illustrate how big a palace (maybe which was renovated at a cost of RM65 million) he dreamed of living in with his imaginary beautiful princess,” she said.

“In that case, Umno can keep Putrajaya and let the rakyat have the rest of the nation,” she added.

Anwar: Childish Najib toying with Putrajaya

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has slammed Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak over the latter's clarion call to defend Putrajaya from changing hands.
Speaking in Sandakan yesterday, the PKR supremo said the Umno president was being “childish”.

"Najib's statement just shows the mentality of Umno,” he said referring to Najib's keynote address at the Umno general assembly last week.

During his speech, Najib had called on Umno members to protect Putrajaya “even if our bodies are crushed and lives are lost”.

In an obvious reference to Anwar, he also called for caution against the “traitor” and those who were more interested in jostling for the throne than serving the people.

However, Anwar said the Umno president's remarks were a reflection of Umno's mentality.

“He thinks Putrajaya is his and does not want to surrender, it's like a child grabbing on to his toy and not wanting to let go...Umno too is like that,” he added.

'No room or respect for democracy'

In another development, PAS central committee member Mohamad Sabu said the government was not allowing democracy “room and respect”.

He said when agencies such as the Election Commission, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the media were manipulated by the government, it clearly showed that democracy had lost its direction

"When they see support for them eroding and their targets deviating, then they will attempt to leave and drift away from democracy by abusing and bending the law.

"Umno and BN will try every possible way during the general election to defend Putrajaya from falling into the hands of Pakatan Rakyat," he said.

In the same token, he said Pakatan comprising PAS, PKR, and DAP would stay together and remain focused on Putrajaya.

He also chided Najib for trying to win the sympathy of the Malays by touting rights enshrined in the constitution.

"Truth is Pakatan has never questioned what is enhrined in Article 153 which touches on rights and privileges of Malays as alleged by the Umno president.

"But what we are disputing is the way the government controls the administration. We must have pure democracy and this must come from people's choice. We must have clean and transparent elections,” he said.

"This is what we are fighting for... we are struggling for justice, not the manipulation of agencies and organisations and turning them into 'yes man'," he added.

BN, opposition supporters protest choice of candidates

By Michael Kaung
SANDAKAN: Tensions erupted yesterday over the choice of the Barisan Nasional (BN) and PKR candidates for the Batut Sapi parliamentary by-election on Nov 4.
Waving BN flags, about 500 members of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) members from the Sekong division of the party protested the nomination of Linda Tsen Thau Lin, the widow of Edmund Chong Ket Wah for the seat.
The protesters, who arrived in several buses, unfurled banners demanding a BN Muslim Bumiputera candidate be fielded much to the consternation of Chief Minister Musa Aman and PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitinagan who were announcing the BN's candidate for the by-election.
The PBS supporters said that they were unhappy with the party's choice, claiming Chong had not been looking after the welfare of the Muslim Bumiputeras in the constituency since he was first elected in 2004.
"How can a woman go into Muslim areas and find out about us; we live in the water villages… no outsider, especially a woman, would dare go there," said one protester.
"They held up banners saying that a Muslim Bumiputera candidate should be nominated for the seat," said an observer.
However, Sekong assemblyman Samsudin Yahya, who was close by, was seen to talking to the protesters who subsequently removed their banners and dispersed.
Unpopular Ansari
Pakatan Rakyat's candidate Ansari Abdullah was also given a baptism of fire when his name was announced by Pakatan de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Batu Sapi PKR supporters walked out as Anwar began announcing that the party had picked Ansari, the Tuaran PKR division chief, to contest the seat.
The Batu Sapi PKR supporters had apparently expected that Sabah PKR liaison chief Ahmad Thamrin Zaini would be named their candidate for the seat.
A crowd of about 1,000 Pakatan supporters had packed the Hakka Association hall to hear the name of PKR’s candidate for Batu Sapi.
When Anwar finally announced at about 5.15pm yesterday during a PAS-organised seminar on Sabah land rights that Kota Kinabalu-based lawyer Ansari would be the choice, the crowd started to disperse in large numbers.
Most started to walk out as Anwar ended his speech and Ansari took to the podium.
They were expecting to hear that Ahmad Thamrin, also a local lawyer, would be selected to take on BN and the Sabah Progressive Party in the by-election.
Ahmad Thamrin was the choice of state PKR, Sabah DAP and Sabah PAS leaders, and they were confident that the leadership would pick him.
Some of the PKR leaders and supporters who walked out said Ahmad Thamrin had initially faced opposition from Batu Sapi PKR chairman Hasnar Ebrahim who wanted the seat himself, failing which the latter demanded that it be given to Ansari.
"We sought the views of a majority of state Pakatan leaders and thought Anwar would name Ahmad Thamrin,” said a PKR leader who expressed disappointment with Sabah DAP for failing to push for Ahmad Thamrin.
Sabah DAP instead favoured Ansari, the PKR supreme council member and Tuaran division chairman.
Son of Sabah
Ansari in his acceptance speech told the remaining crowd in the hall: "I am a son of Sabah and a candidate of Pakatan. We want to make Batu Sapi a stepping-stone for our march to Putrajaya.”
Anwar later told reporters that the question of PKR splitting opposition votes with SAPP did not arise.
“SAPP is an independent party not aligned to Pakatan or BN. It did not want to come into the Pakatan coalition or go with BN,” he said.

Computer classes: Are they legal?

By Teoh El Sen - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here will decide whether it is illegal for government schools to conduct computer classes as part of their timetable and impose a fee for such classes.

Parents of students in SJKC Desa Jaya Primary in Kepong, who filed a lawsuit in February this year, are seeking a declaration that such classes contravened the Education Act 1996. The suit will be heard on Oct 29.

Lim Kian Teck, one of 18 parents involved in the suit, said the school abused its powers by forcing students to take computer classes during school hours and imposing a fee.

"When I enrolled my son in the school in 2007, I was shocked to discover that computer classes were part of the school's timetable and taught during the time allocated for teaching core subjects," said Lim.

"Each pupil was charged RM122 each year for the computer classes ," said Lim.

He claimed that the teachers were over-zealously coaxing, pressurising or harassing pupils to pay the charges under the guise of "voluntary contributions or donations".

"Those who did not pay up had been humiliated, isolated, unfairly treated and or penalised," he said.

"There were even cases where students were told to stand outside their classes or verbally threatened by teachers for not paying up the fee."

The defendants named in the suit are the headmistress of SJKC Desa Jaya, Chow Siew Fon; Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong; former SJKC Desa Jaya PTA president Chu Han Wah; SJKC Desa Jaya board of governors chairman Tan Kim Hor, Edutech Holdings Sdn Bhd and Selangor Education Department director Sulaiman Wak.

About RM400,000 a year is being earned from about 4,000 students considering that each student had to pay RM122 each year.

"The director-general of education had in 1997 said collection of monies for computers was inconsistent with education policy regulations," said Lim.

He said that a March 2000 circular stated that the director-general encouraged computer clubs, not classes, to be set up as an extra-curricular activity outside of the school's official timetable.

"The circular said contributions and in the form of donations were acceptable," said Lim.

He also claimed that under the provisions of the Education Act 1996 and Education (National Curriculum) Regulations 1997, only core subjects stated in Schedule 1 of the regulations could be included in the timetables of government-aided schools.

Under the provision, all subjects in the approved timebles of government-aided schools are exempted from any fees.

"Computer class is not a subject in the approved timetables and is not within the ambit  of the Education Act 1996 or the Education Regulation," said Lim.

He said that a letter from the public complaints bureau under the Prime Minister's Office stated that the Gombak District Education Department had instructed the school to stop and remove computer class from the formal timetable as it violated existing regulations.

"It also stated that students should not be forced to attend computer class and no fee should be imposed.

"Despite this, in a subsequent dialogue with Chow, the headmisstress, she brazenly replied that she had instructions from the Deputy Education Minister's officer to continue conducting the computer classes," said Lim.

Speaking to FMT, the Alliance of Parents' Voices co-ordinator Alex Toong, one of the plaintiffs, said: "We estimate about RM100 million a year is being made from more than 1,600 Chinese schools nationwide. Where has the money gone?" asked Toong.

Instructions from Education Ministry

Meanwhile, one of the defendants, Edutech Holdings, represented by its director Ng Hock Seng, denied being involved in the scheme in his affidavit-in-reply.

FMT learnt that another company, Edutech Computer Centre Sdn Bhd, was handling the classes. The other defendants denied the classes were illegal.In Chow's affidavit-in-reply, she said computer classes have been conducted in SJK Desa Jaya since 1985 and was done in accordance with instructions from the Education Ministry.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that:

  • Computer classes in SJK(C) Desa Jaya, Kepong, are unlawful as it contravenes the Education Act.
  • Only core subjects mentioned in Schedule 1 of the National Curriculum Regulation 1997 can be conducted in the timetables of government-aided schools, including Chinese primary schools.
  • All subjects in the approved timetables of government-aided schools are exempted from any fee.
  • Computer class is not a subject in the approved timetables and not within the ambit of the Education Act 1996. Hence, it cannot be included in the timetables of government schools.
  • Neither the parents, PTA, nor education officers can overule the provisions of the Education Act, and include non-core subjects into the timetables and impose a fees.
  • Wee, by authorising the computer classes, had abused his powers as Deputy Education Minister.
  • The headmistress of the SRJK Desa Jaya had abused her powers by including computer classes in the school's timetables, authorising collecting fees from pupils, and authorising “outsiders” to manage and teach computer classes.
  • The school PTA does not have the authority to organise or conduct such classes or demand or collect fees for the said classes.
  • It is unlawful for the PTA to collect fees, whether in the guise of voluntary donations or voluntary contributions; and to manage those  monies collected.
  • The board of governors of SJKC Desa Jaya had acted unreasonably with regard to the computer classes and failed in their duty under the Education Act, by condoning and encouraging computer classes to be inserted into the school's timetables and to levy charges.
  • It is unlawful for Edutech Computer Centre to conduct computer classes and to impose charges.
  • The Selangor Education Department director had acted beyond his powers by openly supporting the computer classes through the media.
  • All monies illegally collected shall be refunded to the respective parents, with an interest of 8% per annum.
  • Liberty for the plaintiffs to apply for any further order from the court and also further reliefs deemed fit.

PAS slams Najib for "fooling" Malays over the Constitution

(Harakahdaily) - PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar has thanked UMNO president Najib Razak for indirectly denying the claims by some of his own party leaders that the Malays' position as enshrined in the Constitution would be undermined if Pakatan Rakyat took over the government.

Speaking to UMNO delegates at the party's general assembly, Najib was quoted as saying that the the special position of the Malays could not be removed without the approval of the Malay Rulers’.

Mahfuz said this proved that regardless of who was in power, the Malays’ position would always be protected.

He added that the prime minister's statement indirectly vindicated PR's denial that it wanted to remove the clause in the Constitution, a charge familiar among UMNO leaders during every election campaign.

“The guarantee in the constitution as pointed by Najib in his maiden speech in UMNO 61st General Assembly itself revealed a lie and sinister plot by UMNO people to scare the Malays by telling that they would lose power if the party...is no longer in power,” said Mahfuz.

With Najib’s clarification, said Mahfuz, the Malays would not be duped by UMNO again, saying they had been threatened continuously over their special position.

“We will go around the country to rally the Malays to say ‘no’ towards the insults thrown at them. UMNO has been insulting the Malays by fooling the community ... with the sole purpose of abusing power and robbing the nation’s riches,” he added.

The agreement on the Malayan Civil Service (part 4 of the series on the Social Contract)


The Constitutional Conference of 1956 between the British government and the Alliance government of Malaya agreed that a Public Service Commission will be set up and that it will be an independent statutory body, free from political interference, as the essential foundation of good government. Five pages of what was agreed is in this report and it does not mention anywhere about racial quotas in the civil service other than they must be ‘suitably qualified’ for the job.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin





 

Is the ISA the answer to human trafficking?

THREE years ago, amid much fanfare to prove Malaysia’s credentials to the international community, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government enacted the Anti-Trafficking In Persons Act 2007 (Atip).
The law gives enforcement officers the power to arrest anyone they reasonably suspect of committing human trafficking offences, even without a warrant. It also gives them the power to detain suspects for questioning. Furthermore, it provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and fines of up to RM500,000 for serious trafficking offences. Indeed, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil declared that the law gave “clout to law enforcers”, “protects victims and informants”, “provides tough penalties”, and was “very comprehensive in its reach”.
Clearly the police and the home minister think otherwise. Why else would the police use the Internal Security Act (ISA) to arrest nine persons for alleged human trafficking? Doesn’t the police believe in the efficacy of a law which promised “clout”, “tough penalties” and “comprehensive reach”? Isn’t the home minister on the same page as his other colleagues in government? Or was the Atif simply a public relations exercise?

“No significant commitment”
Malaysia has been trying hard to improve its anti-trafficking record in the international arena. In 2009, Malaysia was downgraded by the US State Department in their Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) to Tier 3, which is the lowest category for anti-trafficking efforts. Tier 3 countries were those found “not making significant efforts to comply with minimum standards” under the US Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Other than Malaysia, other Tier 3 countries in the report were North Korea, Niger and Papua New Guinea.
Chagrined, the Malaysian government went into damage control, stepping up enforcement on Atip, and organising public awareness campaigns and training for relevant government officers. This led to Malaysia being upgraded in the Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 Watch List. (Interestingly, many of the Malaysian traditional media reported Malaysia as being upgraded to Tier 2, which is a higher category than the Tier 2 Watch List.)
Although Malaysia still falls short of minimum standards, the 2010 TIP report acknowledges that we are now making “significant efforts” to comply. However, Malaysia is still listed as a trafficking destination. A host of issues remain unresolved, including insufficient protection of trafficking victims and reported collusion between police and offenders.
The report made several recommendations for Malaysia to improve its anti-trafficking efforts holistically. Among others, these include increasing investigation and prosecution efforts.
ISA?
How did our authorities conclude that detaining suspected trafficking offenders without trial was a step forward in our anti-trafficking efforts? How does using the ISA increase investigation and prosecution efforts?
Mind you, no less than the newly appointed Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar believes that using the ISA “to assist police investigations” shows that the police are working hard in fighting human trafficking.
Logo for a United Nations initiative against human trafficking (Wiki commons)
Logo for a United Nations initiative against human trafficking (Wiki commons)
The ISA has long been known to be a draconian law and a human rights violation. It allows for suspects to be detained indefinitely without trial at the home minister’s sole and unquestionable discretion. How can it be right that in trying to eradicate one form of human rights abuse, our authorities perpetuate another form of abuse?
Yes, the US State Department report did recommend that Malaysia step up investigations, prosecutions and convictions, especially of public officials involved in trafficking. However, it did not suggest that Malaysia spirit away alleged offenders and keep them locked up indefinitely to “assist in investigations” with no known evidence, no public trial and no right to defence.
Holistic approach
Preventing human trafficking requires a holistic approach. The TIP report talks about the 3Ps – prevention, prosecution and protection – and how focusing on just one aspect will not be effective in reducing human trafficking.
Prevention involves, for example, ensuring proper procedures are in place for migrant workers to enter the country, and that these procedures are properly enforced. It would also involve investigations into any reports of collusion between the police, immigration officials and the trafficking offenders.
Successful prosecutions would necessarily require thorough investigations leading to evidence that would result in the conviction of offenders in a proper court of law, not somewhere in Bukit Aman or Kamunting, where no case is ever proven against an alleged offender.
Protection would mean ensuring trafficked victims are not traumatised all over again once rescued. Government or state-sponsored shelters would be one way to protect trafficked survivors.
No shortcuts, please
Arresting nine individuals, no matter how high up the trafficking hierarchy, no matter how dangerous, will not make trafficking go away. If holistic measures are not pursued, trafficking will persist, and these ISA arrests will merely be eyewash.
Hishammuddin
Hishammuddin
Additionally, what is stopping the authorities from prosecuting these alleged offenders in an open court? Why couldn’t they charge them under the Atip instead, now that it has been enacted? What is the police trying to hide? And just why is Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein allowing the police to get away with these arrests?
In calling for the ISA to be abolished in a 26 July 2010 statement, the Bar Council said the Act only led to “lackadaisical investigations, misuse and abuse of the law”. The recent ISA arrests only lend credence to that statement. After all, an efficient police force should have the necessary evidence to have offenders prosecuted and convicted in court. And a government that allows such arrests to continue only sends a message that it is comfortable with sloppy police work.
The arrests also make the promises by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak about the ISA when he assumed office in April 2008 look like cheap candy. Surely Malaysians deserve better than an ineffective police force and empty promises, especially when human lives are at stake.

Will Azmin dare lead the PKR charge in Batu Sapi?

Anwar’s blog carries a post entitled ‘Ansari bawa harapan rakyat Batu Sapi’.
I’m hearing differently from my sources in Sabah.
I’m hearing that on the ground, Ansari is perceived as handpicked to serve, not the people of Batu Sapi, but Azmin’s agenda in Sabah.
What’s that  agenda?
“Let Azmin come and tell Sabahans what his plans are for Sabah when he campaign in Batu Sapi, if he dares to. Many PKR members are going to use this by-election to let PKR HQ know what we think of Azmin. Let him come”, I was told  over the phone.


Building projects unsustainable in long run, say analysts

The Malaysian Insider


KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — Putrajaya’s focus on mega construction projects instead of key reforms in its economic plans — symbolised by the 100-storey Warisan Merdeka tower — will hamper the country’s goal of becoming a high-income nation, analysts have said.

They have stressed that economic and institutional reforms to increase market efficiency and human capital development were the crucial elements to lift Malaysia out of its middle-income trap.

“It is not sustainable as we will have first-class infrastructure and facility and third-world work ethics and mentality,” RAM Holdings group chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng told The Malaysian Insider.

“The soft part of the development, which is the human capital, will have to take centre stage for the high-income transformation drive to be successful,” he added.

Yeah noted that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s reform commitments in his New Economic Model (NEM) have been eclipsed by the mega construction projects announced in Budget 2011 and the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

The RM5 billion Warisan Merdeka project has been derided by the opposition and ordinary Malaysians online as a wasteful initiative, with an anti-Warisan Merdeka page on Facebook called “1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower” garnering 156,612 fans as at 7am today since the proposal was mooted on October 15.

Budget 2011 that features other projects such as the RM43 billion new KL MRT project and the RM26 billion KL International Financial District has also been denounced by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) as an election budget honed to win votes over resolving fundamental economic issues. Analysts have also criticised it for neglecting key reforms and ignoring plunging foreign direct investment (FDI).

Various projects in the ETP include the “River of Life” Klang River beautification project in the Greater KL region, future 1 Malaysia malls in China and Vietnam, as well as a huge oil storage facility next to Singapore to form a regional oil products trading hub.
“They have overshadowed the reform agenda, which is the more important element of transformation. Without it, we cannot achieve high-growth momentum and sustain high-growth momentum,” said Yeah, adding that the construction projects were merely supposed to jumpstart economic development by stimulating growth in other sectors like the services sector.

Investment in education was needed for long-term progress, analysts said. — Reuters pic
“Once these projects are underway… we should refocus our economic agenda on reforms, regulatory reforms, how we can enhance the business and investment climate to unleash private sector dynamism, entrepreneurship, and raise market efficiency and competitiveness.”

OSK Research head of research Chris Eng echoed Yeah’s views and noted that the government needed to shift its attention to soft infrastructure like education in the future to upgrade the economy.

“In the long run, there needs to be focus on software elements… like education, policies to encourage entrepreneurship and investment,” said Eng.

Political analyst James Chin pointed out that most of the mega projects would not spur the economy as they relied on funds from government-linked companies (GLCs) instead of actual private investors that were meant to drive most of the government’s ambitious projects.

“In all the mega projects, all the private counterparts are GLCs. They are not the real private sector,” said Chin, honing in on the Warisan Merdeka project where government-linked investment corporation Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) said it had sufficient funds to complete the project.

“There is no real FDI (foreign direct investment) and no real money coming in. It is internally-generated money,” he added.

Previously, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) identified investments worth RM1.38 trillion over 10 years for the ETP, of which 60 per cent would come from the private sector, 32 per cent from GLCs and eight per cent from the government.

The investment aims to double Malaysia’s per capita income and push the country into the ranks of “developed” nations by 2020, rebalancing Asia’s third-most export-driven economy towards domestic demand and the service sector.

Chin, a Monash University professor, called on the government points its attention instead on developing a services and knowledge economy in a bid to achieve Vision 2020.

“It (construction) won’t help us with a high-income economy. Refocus on the services and knowledge economy, like bringing back talented people from overseas,” he said.
Najib had announced in his Budget 2011 speech that a Talent Corporation will be set up early next year to arrest the country’s growing brain drain problem that is threatening his vision of turning Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020.

About 700,000 Malaysians are currently living abroad, with half of them in Singapore, while the rest can be found mostly in Australia, Britain and the United States.

The number of Malaysian migrants rose by more than 100-fold in a 45-year period, from 9,576 Malaysians in 1960 to 1,489,168 Malaysians in 2005, according to the World Bank.

Political analyst Lim Teck Ghee was similarly critical of Najib’s grandiose construction projects, pointing out that such projects were unsustainable and likely to rack up higher bills than initially estimated.

“Not only are they not sustainable, but so called iconic projects often turn out to be white elephant projects which have massive costs overruns and take much longer to complete,” said Lim, citing the Istana Negara project as an example.

The cost of the new palace project in Jalan Duta has ballooned to more than RM935 million from the RM400 million figure originally announced by the government in 2006.
The Centre for Policy Initiatives director also highlighted several skyscraper projects in Osaka, Japan that failed to draw investors and resulted in massive public bail-outs in 2002.

“There are plenty of examples from cities such as Osaka where three huge skyscraper projects — the Asian Trade Centre, the World Trade Centre and the Minatomachi Distribution Centre — were forced to seek protection from their creditors. The projects also failed to attract investor support and businesses shunned moving into them,” said Lim.

Political Gatherings Banned During UN Chief's Visit To Thailand

BANGKOK, Oct 25 (Bernama) -- Thai army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday said no political gatherings are allowed in the Thai capital during the visit of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday but representatives can instead present a letter to the UN chief, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

Prayuth made the remarks ahead of an official visit of Ban on Tuesday as guest of the Thai government on his way to attend the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Vietnam.

The visit was arranged following an invitation earlier extended by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva when he met with Ban while attending the official opening of an Exhibition to promote Enhancing the Lives of Female Inmates (ELFI) Project on October 6 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The army chief said security measures have been prepared as Bangkok is still under a state of emergency.

The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) bans all gatherings but will allow a representative of any group to hand in letters to the UN chief if they wish, said Prayuth.

The army chief added that police will be main force to provide security for Ban and his visit venues, while the army will be on standby to help the police. Rapid respond mobile units have been prepared if any untoward incident occurs, but initially there's no report of possible violence.

"This is the image of Thailand. Please do not demonstrate and cause any disturbance to the public," said Prayuth.

Regarding the plan of the Red Shirt to present a complaint letter to Ban on the death of the red-clad demonstrators during the army operations in May, Prayuth said they should consider whether it is appropriate to hand in such letter as this is internal affairs and the army had strictly followed the law.

At least 89 people died and nearly 1,900 were injured during two months of political unrest, with several confrontation between army personnel and Red Shirt protesters in April and May.

Ban will arrive in Bangkok Tuesday morning and will have a bilateral meeting with the prime minister at Government House, followed by a joint press conference.

Tuesday afternoon, the UN chief will meet with the UN team at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) offices on Ratchadamnern Road, and deliver a speech on the occasion of UN Day, and will leave Thailand in the evening for Cambodia before proceeding to attend the 3rd Asean-UN Summit in Hanoi.

The Secretary-General's working visit is part of a four nation-tour in Asia, visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China.

Orang asli can help police curb smuggling

The Star

GELANG PATAH: Police want more community policing within orang asli villages in the state to help curb smuggling.

Johor deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm (I) Datuk Jalaluddin Ab Rahman said the orang asli could become the eyes and ears of the police.

“When they see or hear any criminal activities in their area, they can forward information to us,” he told reporters during a press conference after the launch of the Kampung Simpang Arang community policing programme here yesterday.

Kampung Simpang Arang is the first orang asli settlement in the state to set-up community policing in their area.

SAC Jalaluddin said Kampung Simpang Arang has been identified as an entry point for illegal immigrants and smuggling activities.

“This area has a lot of rivers and thick jungles which make it ideal for the smuggling of alcohol, cigarettes, fireworks, and even illegal immigrants. The orang asli community can alert us of such activities.”

He added that there are about 757 orang asli living in Kampung Simpang Arang.

SAC Jalaluddin said an officer has been appointed to become the liaison between the community here and the police.

“We want to create a better networking system with the orang asli community and we would be meeting them on a regular basis,’’ he said.

He added that police would identify other orang asli villages statewide for community policing.

Let refugees take up jobs, urges Kayveas

The New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: People's Progressive Party president Datuk M. Kayveas will propose to the government that refugees in the country be allowed to work as maids and construction workers.

He said the country was in need of labour and the government could use them.

"They came here voluntarily to escape the hardships in their country. They are given identity cards but are not allowed to work.

"They do not have money and their children are not accepted into government schools," he said yesterday.

He was speaking after receiving a memorandum from the Alternative Action Team, a non-governmental organisation that looks after the affairs of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.

Kayveas said there were 92,200 refugees in the country under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

They include 83,000 people from Myanmar, 3,900 from Sri Lanka, 1,000 from Somali, 680 from Iraq and 520 from Afgha-nistan. About 19,000 of them are below 18.

He said to support their families, 10,000 refugees could be working illegally in restaurants and construction sites.

Kayveas added that he would discuss the issue with the prime minister in a meeting scheduled for next month.

MCMC interrogates Wong Choon Mei

1151: The MCMC is now interrogating Wong Choon Mei of the Malaysian Chronicle news portal. Two officers have been questioning her at the MCMC office in Cyberjaya since 11.00am.
Her lawyer, Latheefa Koya, says she was refused permission to sit with Wong as her lawyer. She is now watching from outside.
“At first, the MCMC was okay for me to sit in and started with their questioning. But suddenly they brought a higher official to tell me that if I sit in, they would have to record my statement!” she added.
“I refused to record any statement as a witness and warned them this is a form of intimidation!”
“The interrogation is believed to be related to reports the Chronicle carried about Najib’s speech at the Umno assembly about defending Putrajaya, but I think they also want to know more about the Chronicle,” said Latheefa.

Faith held hostage by violence

The kidnapping and killing of one of Iraq's most prominent Christians exposed al-Qaeda's brutal fundraising methods.

3 ACR reported that Bishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of the Chaldean Church of Mosul and 3 bodyguards were found murdered in a sedan in the Al Ikha neighborhood.

UPDATE: 292007FEB08 IP's from ERB4 reported 3x LN KIA at that location, none of them are the bishop. ERB4 IP believe the bishop was kidnapped. The bodies were taken to Al Jamouri Hospital.

UPDATE: 131750MAR08 1 West reports that the body of Bishop Paulos Faraj Raho was found at grid 38SLF 39700 21600 in the Al Intisar neighborhood.


The murder of Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, marked a nadir in interfaith relations in Iraq. He was kidnapped by al-Qaeda in Iraq operatives in February 2008 in what appears to have been a desperate attempt by the group to raise money.

His story demonstrates how al-Qaeda in Iraq operated with little regard for the people of Iraq as they waged war against the US presence in the country, using them as little more than cannon-fodder and cash-cows.

Bishop Rahho had lived almost his entire life in Mosul, which has a long established community of Chaldean Catholics. In 2001 he became the Archbishop of Mosul, becoming the leader of about 20,000 Catholics in 10 parishes.

When Iraqi Christians found themselves at the wrong end of a growing campaign of violence as the war progressed, Rahho stayed with his flock, continuing to preach a message of forgiveness and religious tolerance in the face of the attacks.

As one of the most prominent Christians in northern Iraq, it was a matter of time before Rahho found himself attracting the attention of al-Qaeda. After he had finished giving a mass on February 29, 2008, the archbishop's car was attacked with gunfire and he was bundled into the boot of a waiting vehicle.

His kidnappers demanded the release of foreign fighters captured in Iraq and that they be paid $ 3m for his release. The kidnappers also demanded that Iraqi Christians form a militia to fight US forces in the country.

But the money was never paid. Church officials said that Rahho had managed to call them on his cell-phone while in the boot of the car and had instructed them not to pay any ransom for his release.

“He believed that this money would not be paid for good works and would be used for killing and more evil actions,” the church officials said. A month later Rahho's body was found in a shallow grave after a note describing its whereabouts was passed to church members.

His death provoked international condemnation. Pope Benedict XVI described it as "an act of inhuman violence". George Bush, the then US president, said the archbishop’s killing was "savage and cruel", while Nouri al Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, condemned it as "the work of a criminal gang intent on provoking religious strife."

In his will, Rahho called on Christians to build bridges between the different faiths of Iraq. One of his killers, an al-Qaeda cell leader call Ahmed Ali Ahmed, was captured and sentenced to death soon after his death. Rahho's church opposed the use of capital punishment against the killer.

Hindraf/HRP: Abused and Citizenship denied to Mother and Child

The Third Force Torchbearers, The Third Eye and Trisakthi – By Iraiputtiran

U la la … the temperature is rising in the country! The red-hot status of the social contract, the blistering criticisms on the recently presented crappy budget, the fiery speeches of delegates and the national peace threatening flaming speech by none other than the country’s Prime Minister himself in the 61st UMNO General Assembly, the bursting replies from the opposing team, the broils and fracases in the recently concluded PKR divisions polls nationwide, the infighting and bickering in DAP, the boiling madness of the public over the failure of both BN and PR to stand up to their expectations for a race blind, clean, unbiased, democratic and upward mobility politics, etc. ! U la la … the scorching heat of the 13th General Election looming ahead is beginning to be felt! The call for the THIRD FORCE is sizzling!

http://www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/fiery-speech.jpgOn one hand, we have the UMNO-led BN that has miserably failed the whole nation, especially so the Indians without any remorse or regret for the injustices inflicted upon them the past 53 years! The Prime Minister’s recent speech in the UMNO’s 61st General Assembly with such life threatening rhetoric … “even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost, brothers and sisters, whatever happens, we must defend Putrajaya!” is indeed a testimony to UMNO’s inability to rebrand, reform, reinvent, and above all, stay relevant in today’s more civilised politics!

The fiery speeches in the recent UMNO assembly is also a testimony to UMNO’s level of politicking in the country, lacking logic, substance, in depth studies, sincerity, sensitivity, critical and analytical thinking and many more that we so need to reform our politics and change for better. The speeches were also generously arrogant, concealing the truth and cognitively manipulative and above all, full of racism.

http://www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/sk-school.jpgOne delegate questioned the presence of only 2,245 Malay teachers in Tamil and Chinese schools whilst there are 33,777 non-Malay teachers in national schools. They called for more multiracial teaching staff in Tamil and Chinese schools to strengthen the unity among people. This inevitably invites one important question. If small presence of Malay teachers in non-Malay schools has caused unity among the people to weaken that it needs to be strengthen, than how weakened should our national unity be that the public service department of 1.3 million servants strong, the BTN, the Petronas, the MARA, the MRSM, the Malay College Kuala Kangsar, the sekolah-sekolah agama, the police force, the army, the air force, the postal service, the health department, the universities, FELDA, RISDA, FELCRA, MARDI, KEJORA, etc. and almost all other government related agencies, bodies, departments, ministries, etc. are 99% Malay if not 100%? How come these had never undermined the national unity and race relations? What is the percentage of 33,777 non-Malay teachers compared to the total number of Malay teachers in both national schools (primary) and secondary schools? 1%? 2%? Or at the most 4%? Will they in return, agree to taking in more non-Malays into all the government departments to improve our national unity? What is new about UMNO anyway?

On the other hand we have the ‘BIGGER picture’ PR coalition. The faithful and ardent devotees of PR have transformed into cyber troopers and have been hard at work defending their equally failed politicians. Every time there is a disenfranchisement, disgruntlement, dissatisfaction, an unhappy or unpleasant situation, PR cyber troopers had never allowed any criticisms. Without fail, they persuade, convince and urge the public, especially the Indians, to throw their blind support behind PR to capture the 8th wonder of the world, the PUTRAJAYA!
http://www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/pakatan-rakyat.jpg
Is it true that PR needs to capture Putrajaya first in order to look into the bread and butter issues of the Indians in this country? Can and should the Indians trust them? What could PR do in Putrajaya that they can’t do in the three states now? Why do they need Putrajaya to grant lands to Tamil schools, temples and cemeteries which is absolutely within their state powers now? Isn’t it obvious that PKR, PAS and DAP are just being bi-racial in the land matters? Without Putrajaya they can give 1,000ha (about 2,500 acres) of land to nine Chinese schools in Perak, and thousands of acres of land to Malays, Chinese and Orang Asli in Perak, Selangor and Kedah. Why do they need Putrajaya to do the same for Indians? Just an excuse? Why do they need Putrajaya to table an emergency motion in Parliament to stop the brutal racially bias killings of hundreds of Indian youths in police shootouts and police custody? Why do they need Putrajaya to debate in parliament the issue of bright Indian students being denied scholarships and their rightful places at higher learning institutions? What was the point of holding a useless discussion in the parliament lobby instead of tabling an emergency motion in Parliament to amicably solve the issue? PR needs Putrajaya to bring up Indians problems in parliament?

http://www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/kg_pala4ogos.jpgHow capturing Putrajaya could undo demolishment of Kampung Buah Pala and Kuala Ketil Hindu cemetery? Would Putrajaya ever change PR’s passive racism on the violence inflicted upon Indians by the police? How Putrajaya will change PAS, DAP and PKR’s stand in the issue of forced conversion of Hindus to Islam? How was Putrajaya hindering them from extending their helping hands to the IC-less and BC-less Indians in the three states they are ruling? Why do Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Hadi Awang need to capture Putrajaya to issue a mere statement in any media to urge the government to look into the grave Indian problems when they have done so, many a time, on Malay and Chinese issues, without the magical Putrajaya?

In short, Malaysian politics has gone beyond human decency! As Dr Azly Rahman (azlyrahman-illuminations.blogspot.com, 22.10.2010) succinctly put it in his article “Trisakhti and Malaysian Politics”, “In Malaysia, both waves have failed. The third wave is here. The March 2008 tsunami was warning of its inevitability. But the Third wave needs a Third Force and a Third Eye; Third Force cannot be stopped, Third Eyes cannot be blinded. TRISHAKTI resides in the cave. Plato’s cave.”

Whether it is a mere coincidence or intended so symbolically by Dr. Azly, only God knows. Nevertheless, some words from his article have indeed caught my attention and reminded me of HRP/Hindraf’s struggle. Trisakthi, Third Eye, the cave, the dance and the masses! Trisakhti sounds so close to Lord Shiva, the third member of the Hindu Trinity, the other two being Brahma and Vishnu. The third eye is the eye of Lord Shiva. He is also called Tryambaka Deva (literally, “three-eyed Lord”). The third eye symbolizes spiritual knowledge and power, and is thus called the eye of wisdom or knowledge. Like fire, the powerful gaze of Shiva’s third eye annihilates evil, and thus the evil-doers fear His third eye. Shiva’s cosmic role is dissolving the universe for creation of the next cycle. He protects the souls from pain and suffering that would be caused by a dysfunctional universe. And how does Shiva perform his cosmic role? The Dancing Shiva or the Cosmic Dancer performs His divine dance to destroy a weary universe and make preparations for Lord Brahma to start the process of creation of a new universe. And the cave? Hmmm… Guhan or ‘cave-dweller’ is another name for Lord Muruga, the son of Shiva.

http://www.humanrightspartymalaysia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/hrpflag_thumb3.jpgDoes any of these connect to HRP/Hindraf’s struggle in the contemporary Malaysian politics? And the people’s aspiration to bury the old politics and give way to a new political paradigm?

Enough of the feel good, fake, artificial, public fund wasting I Malaysia crap! And enough of the feeble excuse, “we need to capture Putrajaya first!” Just utter crap!

The third force is indeed the solution to the present day malady of our politics! So a third force? Yeah, let it be! Let the time-tested leaders of HRP/Hindraf, P.Uthayakumar and P.Waythamoorthy be the torchbearers into a new political dawn in this beloved land of ours! The rest are most warmly welcome with open arms to join them! Surely the new dawn will be more meaningful to most, the average, non-politician public!

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs, is to be ruled by evil men.”

Plato

Thank you.

Iraiputtiran

History subject must be passed was made compulsory in UMNO AGM.

Senator Dr. S.Ramakrishnan,

Muhyiddin Yassin the deputy prime minister who is also education minister, announced during his winding-up speech in UMNO AGM that history subject is now made compulsory in all secondary schools. Students have to pass the history subject along with Bahasa Malaysia to obtain the SPM certificate. This was in respond to a complaint by one UMNO delegate about the state of the younger generations' knowledge of history. It was previously made compulsory for students to take history as a subject in the secondary SPM examinations but Tan Sri Muhyiddin said starting 2013, it would be compulsory for students to pass the subject, along with Bahasa Malaysia.

UMNO’s history subject will include ketuanan Melayu, one sided social contract, Hindu prayer strings as dog leaches, pendatang, penumpang, si-botol, si-sepet racial slurs. Everybody knows UMNO history subject will polarize Malaysians even further apart. This impromptu decision by an education minister is unprecedented and irresponsible by any standard. But the Malaysian education minister made the decision off the scarf without any consultation with concerned educationists and stakeholders. It implies that the minister knows better what changes needed to make our younger generation accept the present reality and move forward as one nation competing with the other countries. If UMNO delegate’s proposal gets such an urgent and immediate attention, we don’t need expert opinions and public consultations. This can only be expected from a deputy prime minister who is Malay first and Malaysian second.

But our education system is going down the drains. Malaysians who migrate to other countries cite the deteriorating education quality as one of the key reasons for moving out. Malaysia is finding it difficult to attract foreign and overseas talent because of our poor quality education. Richer Malaysians sent their children to international schools. 70000 Malay children are in Chinese schools. Thousands of Malaysian children cross over to Singapore for schooling every day. Even those who sent their children to national have to spend quite a fortune on tuition classes. Tuition is a thriving business in Malaysia. Without tuition classes the results in national schools will be atrocious. Islamization of national schools is of great concern to many parents. The quality of headmasters and teachers are pale shadows of the past. Education in Malaysia should be in ICU now undergoing rigorous test of its validity and general health.

Knowing UMNO politicians, the history subject will now be stuffed with UNMO politics and Islamized and the contribution of non Malays will be distorted if not deleted. This will make our students further dislike history subject and will make the teaching of history more difficult for history teachers. It was reported in the media that “Ministry of education will improve the contents of the history syllabus by emphasizing the aspects relating to the country's constitution, with the aim of shaping a deep understanding of how this country which we love was shaped,” said Muhyiddin. He added that in 2014 would also see the introduction of history as a core subject in primary schools under the Primary School Standard Curriculum. This report makes us a laughing stock and history subject is certain to be unpopular. Students will be stuffed with lies, half truth which will polarize thinking students leading to confusion amongst Malaysian students. Thanks to UMNO!

Pakatan, BN differ on Najib’s commitment to NEM

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have claimed the axe has fallen on Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s New Economic Model (NEM) following his vows to uphold the pro-Bumiputra New Economic Policy (NEP) over the weekend.

In his winding up speech at the Umno general assembly yesterday, Najib (picture) assured his party faithful that he would not backtrack from the principles of the NEP introduced during the administration of his father, Tun Razak Hussein, the second prime minister.

“I do not think he has the political will to continue the NEM,” PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail told The Malaysian Insider today.

“To continue means the end of his political career. The risk that he’ll face is from Umno itself with its continuous rent-seeking culture,” he added.

The Machang MP pointed out that the Umno president’s stand on maintaining NEP-style policies was an about-turn of his NEM that boldly proclaimed an end to rent-seeking and patronage through merit-based economic reforms.

“Datuk Najib’s statement on continuing the NEP but stating his commitment to do the NEM is an obvious flip flop. Datuk Najib plays to the gallery because his stand on maintaining the NEP was done during his winding up speech at the general assembly,” he said.

“Najib’s promise to continue the NEP will not bring long-term benefits,” he added.

Saifuddin cited the pervasive rent-seeking culture and race-based affirmative action in the NEP as characteristics that harmed the country’s competitiveness and alienated foreign investors.

But BN leaders insisted that the NEM was scheduled for implementation but claimed it was an extension of the NEP.

“I think the NEM will go ahead. The NEM is a continuation of the NEP,” said Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.

“I don’t think he will take off the Bumiputra equity in the NEM. It may be 30 per cent, maybe higher,” he added.

Tengku Adnan also pointed out that Malay privileges did not necessarily slash the country’s competitiveness.

“If you give some Bumiputras some percentage, will it deprive you of competitiveness? I don’t think so,” he said.

“The NEM is to make sure that we are in a competitive society. We can’t be a competitive society when certain segments of the society are still struggling,” he added.

Malaysia dropped two spots in the World Economic Forum (WEF) competitiveness index this year to a ranking of 26 out of 132 countries, while foreign direct investment in the country plunged by 81 per cent last year.

There is widespread acknowledgment that four decades of affirmative action have hurt the country’s competitiveness and economic prowess since the inception of the NEP in 1971.

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal echoed Tengku Adnan’s views and stressed that the NEM protected the Malay agenda.

“NEM doesn’t mention that (30 per cent quota), but the interests of the Malay community is there,” said Shafie.

The Semporna MP also expressed confidence that Najib would translate the NEM into action.

“It doesn’t mean he will stick to the NEP. We must move forward and the future is RMK10 (10th Malaysia Plan), NEM, and ETP (Economic Transformation Programme),” he said.

MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai claimed the NEM had already been kick-started.

“I think the NEM is already launched and we’ll make sure the NEM is a success,” he said, adding that Najib had also scrapped the 30 per cent Bumiputra equity target in 27 services sub-sectors in 2009.

The health minister, however, appeared to contradict his Umno colleagues when he stressed that meritocracy was crucial in determining aid to the poor.

“We are not against helping the poor, but it has to go through the meritocracy system,” said Liow.

DAP Socialist Youth chief Anthony Loke pointed out that the NEM was a moot point as Najib had said that his brainchild economic plan — which was meant to transform the country to a high-income nation — was not an official policy.

“The NEM is irrelevant. Even Najib concurred openly saying that the NEM was not an official policy of the government,” said Loke.

“NEM is definitely not on Najib’s plate. What is the point of continuing debate on the NEM when Umno’s not willing to talk about meritocracy? They are still talking about the 30 per cent quota,” he added.

Malay rights groups led by Perkasa have voiced strident views against the NEM for its aims at making affirmative action more market-friendly until Najib was forced to backtrack and call the policy a “trial balloon”.

The second part of the NEM has yet to be launched since its unveiling seven months ago on March 30.

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar derided Najib’s “hypocrisy” in proclaiming Umno’s fight for Malay rights which contradicted the needs-based NEM that sought to eradicate poverty irrespective of race.

“Najib has shown his hypocrisy during the general assembly when he said that Malay rights will be defended as in the Constitution, but at another point, he wants to introduce the NEM based on the 1 Malaysia spirit for all races,” said Mahfuz.

“He gives the message to non-Malays that the NEM that is based on the 1 Malaysia spirit will not happen. Maybe the NEM will be administered, but it will be done within the constraints of a narrow racial agenda,” he added.

The NEP, put in place in 1971, officially ended in 1990, but many of its programmes continue.

Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended the policy and spoken out against the NEM, signalling fears that Malays and Bumiputeras would stand lose out the most if the Administration were to implement a 100 per cent meritocracy-based system.

Najib’s brother Datuk Seri Nazir Razak — who is the CIMB group chief executive officer — however has lambasted the NEP for being “bastardised” and argued for economic reforms.

MIC will remain intact, says Samy Vellu

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president S Samy Vellu said he was confident that the party will remain intact even after he hands over the leadership to his deputy, G Palanivel in January next year.

He dismissed talks that the MIC would plunge into chaos and infighting after he stepped down from the post.

“Palanivel will be able to steer the party well,” the former works minister said of his former press secretary when asked during a live Tamil talk-show over RTM today.

He said this when asked if his successor would be able to hold the party together after he (Samy Vellu) was no longer the president.

It was reported that many MIC leaders and members were worried that without Samy Vellu’s tough and disciplined leadership, the party would disintegrate and disappear from the political scene.  

Samy Vellu also expressed his “deep concern and uneasiness” over the “communal politics” being practiced by certain groups within the Indian community.

He said their “exclusiveness mentality” of identifying themselves more with their own ethnic groups such as Tamils, Malayalis, Telegus and Sikhs rather than as Indians would further divide the community.

“If this situation continues, the Indian community will be at the losing end, both politically and economically,” he said.

His remarks appeared to be aimed at communal minded Indian leaders from the various ethnic groups within the community who have over the past several months held their own large gatherings.

Samy Vellu said the Indian community stood a better chance of securing their slice of the country’s economic pie if the remained as a single entity.

“That single entity is to move as one group with one voice,” he said, adding that the MIC would serve as the ‘gate-keeper” for the community.

Haze highlights weak Asean cooperation: analysts

By Martin Abbugao - Free Malaysia Today

SINGAPORE: Just a week after Southeast Asia hailed "substantive progress" against cross-border air pollution, Singapore and parts of Malaysia are again being blanketed by smog from forest fires in Indonesia.

The problem, known euphemistically as "the haze", raises fresh questions about the effectiveness of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), whose leaders will hold a summit in Hanoi from Oct 28-29.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo phoned his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa on Friday to press for action and offer help in extinguishing forest fires largely set by farmers in the vast island of Sumatra to clear land for cultivation.

Malaysian officials also vented their frustration at the persistent problem, which analysts said highlights weakness both within individual Asean countries and the bloc itself in enforcing domestic laws and regional pacts.

"This just shows that Asean must move from talk to action," said Joko Arif, Southeast Asia forest team leader at environmental group Greenpeace.

"Asean has been talking for more than 10 years on how to combat forest fires and haze, but I think more concrete action needs to be done," he told AFP.

For its part, Indonesia should effectively implement laws that ban the use of fire to clear land and be more transparent in giving out information on the location and size of the burning activities, Arif said.

Haze has been on Asean's agenda since 1997-1998, when a choking pall of smoke caused by fires on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan wafted across Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

More than nine million hectares of land were burnt, costing the region an estimated nine billion dollars in economic, social and environmental losses, according to Asean.

In 2002, the grouping adopted the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution to coordinate efforts to fight the fires, often caused by slash-and-burn practices by farmers and companies as they clear massive tracts of land for products like palm oil.

Only Indonesia has yet to ratify the treaty.

Asean also boasts a Regional Haze Action Plan, the Aseab Peatland Management Strategy and a Panel of Asean Experts on Fire and Haze Assessment and Coordination.

Toothless bloc

Yet the forest fires recur every year and the smoke continues to afflict Indonesia's neighbours with varying degrees of seriousness.

The latest fires on Sumatra this month triggered health alerts in Singapore and parts of Malaysia.

"Asean really has to transcend its reputation as a talk shop," said Rafael Senga, the Asia Pacific energy policy chief at World Wildlife Fund International.

"We all know that Asean has achieved some headway in some areas as an organisation. But for issues that have a domestic character like deforestation, Asean is basically toothless," Senga told AFP.

"They can issue communique after communique every year but at the end of the day, it still depends on the national governments involved to do something about it."

Senga said that Indonesia's drive to significantly increase its palm oil production is leading to massive deforestation, while Indonesian officials often blame poor farmers for the fires.

The region is susceptible to haze pollution because 60 percent of the world's tropical peatlands are in Southeast Asia, covering around 24 million hectares, with Indonesia accounting for 70 percent, Asean's website said.

When set on fire, dry peatland can burn for weeks because the blaze can be extinguished on the surface but continue to burn underground.

Mely Caballero-Anthony, a Singapore-based expert on non-traditional security threats, said that while Asean has a haze agreement, it cannot be fully implemented because Indonesia has yet to ratify it.

Moreover, the bloc has yet to draw up an implementing mechanism for the treaty, said Caballero-Anthony, who heads the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at Nanyang Technological University.

- AFP

Dr M gives ringing endorsement to Najib’s leadership

(The Star) - TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a ringing endorsement to current Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s leadership.

The former prime minister and party president said that he felt nostalgic at this year’s assembly and expressed confidence about the party’s direction under Najib.

“It feels like the Umno of old,” said Dr Mahathir, with a broad smile.

Asked to comment on Najib’s leadership, Dr Mahathir said: “I am confident of his (Najib) leadership,” he said.

Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir agreed with his father’s sentiment and felt that the party was back to its original struggle, which is to fight for the rights of the Malays.

“The president’s speech outlined the importance of putting the rakyat first.

“It also stressed on ensuring the majority receive a certain portion of the economic cake,” he said.

He added that if such goals could not be ascertained, he could not see how the country could continue with its current political landscape.

Asked to comment on his father’s endorsement of Najib’s leadership, Mukhriz, who is also Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister, said it was a great bonus to current administration.

“It is common knowledge that my father has a great impact on everybody.

“Such endorsement is great for the party and the leadership,” he said.

Usah Gentar Gertakan Najib,Rakyat Terus Mara Tuntut Perubahan

Dari Harakah

Ketua Umum Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim menegaskan, biarlah Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak bercakap ikut rentaknya sendiri sebelum bersara sebagai Perdana Menteri yang keenam apabila Pakatan Rakyat berjaya ke Putrajaya.

“Biarkan Najib bercakap ikut rentak sendiri kononnya mahu menyekat kemaraan Pakatan Rakyat dengan nyawa dan badannya. Ini menunjukan dia dah bimbang, cuma takut nak khabarkan,” ujarnya ketika berucap dalam Majlis Makan Malam Tabung DAP di Raja Uda, malam tadi.

Tambah beliau yang juga Ahli Parlimen Permatang Pauh, jika rakyat mahukan pembaharuan dalam pentadbiran, mereka perlu berani ke hadapan mengundi Pakatan Rakyat untuk ke pusat pentadbiran negara buat pertama kali dalam sejarah.

Katanya, kemegahan seorang Perdana Menteri harus dikikis seandainya mahu menjiwai rakyat jelata, bukan menambah parah kewangan negara dengan memperelokan penginapan rumah sehingga RM65 juta.

“Rakyat sudah muak dengan kelakuan Perdana Menteri sama ada yang lepas atau pun yang kini sedang memerintah negara. Habis wang rakyat digunakan untuk kepentingan diri dan keluarga,” tegas beliau.

Sekarang ini, kata Anwar, bukan isu pengubahsuaian rumah Perdana Menteri sahaja hangat diperkatakan malahan tanah perkuburan baru sebelah Makam Negara yang menempatkan 250 orang Islam dan kenamaan bukan Islam menelan belanja RM70 juta.

Umno must avoid PAS’s old blinkered views, says Asri

By G. Manimaran - The Malaysian Insider


KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Umno must be practical in its approach and must shed its narrow views which were no longer relevant now, Islamic scholar Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said.

The former Perlis Mufti described Umno’s tackling of issues now was similar to PAS’s approach in the 1980s, noting that the Islamist party has progressed by presenting itself as a moderate alternative.

In the past two years, PAS has been seen as becoming more progressive and this was highlighted by Umno delegates during the party’s recently concluded annual general assembly, which also tabled a motion on religion and education.

Asri stressed that Umno and other political parties must consider the country’s multi-racial composition when expressing their views on religion or risk Islam becoming politicised.

“In my opinion, it is sad to see that Umno has recently played up issues that made it look like PAS in the 1980s. When PAS is beginning to assert itself as a moderate party, Umno instead are trying to play up issues that are unnecessary.

“Like issues where Muslims cannot enter mosques, cannot pray for non-Muslims, the issue of gambling money, [these] have made Umno seem to have views which are narrow and not relevant to a government [of a country] with different races and religions,” he wrote in his blog.

Asri added that pro-Umno media have also highlighted extreme religious opinions by certain Islamic scholars, which he described as unfavourable to Barisan Nasional.

“Finally Islam has become the victim, Umno must be regarded as dangerous.

“Political ideas with knowledge should be promoted. Political yes-men without thinking must be avoided. This happened when Islam Hadari was propagated and others just nodded without giving critical view. The slogan then finally buried Umno itself,” he said, referring to the concept introduced by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Asri was grateful, however, that he was invited to attend Umno’s assembly, but insisted that he will not join any political parties in the near future.

“Our politics should go further than just filing in forms. Politics should not be about affiliations but be based on thoughts and ideas. Politics are measured by views and ideas and this is what I have been trying to do,” he said.

But he noted that there was still space to have difference of opinions in Umno compared to other political parties and was impressed with Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin’s call for open politics in a new political era.

“I am sorry but the [the party’s] other wings are still following to the beats of yesterday and have yet to mirror a new political era,” Asri said.

The Islamic cleric added that the public today wanted the political parties to compete in healthy manner.

“They (political parties) should be a market of ideas that benefit the country. They should be an open market which provides fresh and quality products, and anyone who manages to provide with the best products will [get] the people’s vote,” he said.

According to Asri, it was not a party’s role to merely expose the weaknesses of its opposition when they themselves do not provide any new ideas.

“Politics is not simply talking about others but forgetting yourself and not be able to bring us anywhere.

“The greatness of a political speech is not in cursing your opponents but it is great when you are able to give views and ideas that can develop the country,” he said.

Asri said narrow political interpretations of Islam must be rejected because political Islam offered great breadth and was widely-based on public interest.

“Political Islam is very broad, flexible and practical but it is always underpinned by the revelations. Not all that is said by Islamic teachers can be accepted. Politics has its unique discipline that requires Islamic knowledge for the benefit of the people and country.

“Just learning a few things in religion does not guarantee a deep understanding of politics in Islam,” he added.

PPP Hopes BN Will Be Selective In Admitting New Members

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 (Bernama) -- The People's Progressive Party (PPP) wants the Barisan Nasional (BN) to be selective in admitting non-political bodies as members of the coalition when its constitution is amended.

Its president Datuk M.Kayveas said that this was to ensure no racial and problematic organisations were admitted into the BN's fold.

"I am totally against racial politics," he told reporters here Sunday.

Kayveas said this when asked to comment on the plan to amend the BN's constitution to admit friendly individuals, non-governmental organisations and political parties as members, as was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also BN chairman, earlier this year.

Earlier, Kavyeas had opened a forum on Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Malaysia which was organised by a non-governmental organisation.

Kayveas said he sympathised on the fate of 3,970 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Malaysia which still remained uncertain even though they had been here for six months and that he would be writing to the government to suggest that they be allowed to work here while awaiting for deportation to a third country by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

End the Occupation: Mid-East bishops

Middle East Catholic bishops meeting at a special synod in Rome over the last fortnight have called for Israel to end the Occupation of Palestinian territories so that a two-state solution can be found.
The bishops are the ones who are familiar with the situation on the ground.
Here is an excerpt from their final joint communique:
IV. Cooperation and Dialogue with Our Fellow-Citizens, the Jews
8. The same Scriptures unite us; the Old Testament, the Word of God is for both you and us. We believe all that God revealed there, since he called Abraham, our common father in the faith, Father of Jews, of Christians and of Muslims. We believe in the promises of God and his covenant given to Abraham and to you. We believe that the Word of God is eternal.
The Second Vatican Council published the document Nostra aetate which treats interreligious dialogue with Judaism, Islam and the other religions. Other documents have subsequently clarified and developed the relationship with Judaism. On-going dialogue is taking place between the Church and the representatives of Judaism. We hope that this dialogue can bring us to work together to press those in authority to put and end to the political conflict which results in separating us and disrupting everyday life in our countries.
It is time for us to commit ourselves together to a sincere, just and permanent peace. Both Christians and Jews are called to this task by the Word of God. In his Word, we are invited us to listen to the voice of God “who speaks of peace”: “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his holy ones” (Ps 85:9). Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable. On the contrary, recourse to religion must lead every person to see the face of God in others and to treat them according to their God-given prerogatives and God’s commandments, namely, according to God’s bountiful goodness, mercy, justice and love for us.
V. Cooperation and Dialogue with Our Fellow-Citizens, the Muslims
9. We are united by the faith in one God and by the commandment that says: do good and avoid evil. The words of the Second Vatican Council on the relations with other religions offer the basis for the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Muslims: “The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men” (Nostra aetate 3).
We say to our Muslim fellow-citizens: we are brothers and sisters; God wishes us to be together, united by one faith in God and by the dual commandment of love of God and neighbour. Together we will construct our civil societies on the basis of citizenship, religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Together we will work for the promotion of justice, peace, the rights of persons and the values of life and of the family. The construction of our countries is our common responsibility. We wish to offer to the East and to the West a model of coexistence between different religions and of positive collaboration between different civilisations for the good of our countries and that of all humanity.
Since the appearance of Islam in the seventh century and to the present, we have lived together and we have collaborated in the creation of our common civilisation. As in the past and still existent today, some imbalances are present in our relations. Through dialogue we must avoid all imbalances and misunderstandings. Pope Benedict XVI tells us that our dialogue must not be a passing reality. It is rather a vital necessity on which our future depends (Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with Representatives from the Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005). Our duty then is to educate believers concerning interreligious dialogue, the acceptance of pluralism and mutual esteem.
VI. Our Participation in Public Life: An Appeal to the Governments and to the Political Leadership in Our Countries
10. We appreciate the efforts which have been expended for the common good and the service to our societies. You are in our prayers and we ask God to guide your steps. We address you regarding the importance of equality among all citizens. Christians are original and authentic citizens who are loyal to their fatherland and assume their duties towards their country. It is natural that they should enjoy all the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom in education, teaching and the use of the mass media.
We appeal to you to redouble your efforts to establish a just and lasting peace throughout the region and to stop the arms race, which will lead to security and economic prosperity and stop the hemorrhage of emigration which empties our countries of its vital forces. Peace is a precious gift entrusted by God to human family, whose members are to be “peacemakers who will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).
VII. Appeal to the International Community
11. The citizens of the countries of the Middle East call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations conscientiously to work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region, through the application of the Security Council’s resolutions and taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories.
The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security. The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders. The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope that the two-State-solution might become a reality and not a dream only.
Iraq will be able to put an end to the consequences of its deadly war and re-establish a secure way of life which will protect all its citizens with all their social structures, both religious and national.
Lebanon will be able to enjoy sovereignty over its entire territory, strengthen its national unity and carry on in its vocation to be the model of coexistence between Christians and Muslims, of dialogue between different cultures and religions, and of the promotion of basic public freedoms.
We condemn violence and terrorism from wherever it may proceed as well as all religious extremism. We condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism and Islamophobia and we call upon the religions to assume their responsibility to promote dialogue between cultures and civilisations in our region and in the entire world.
The full text of the bishops’ communique can be found at the AsiaNews.it website.