Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, has justified the kidnapping of five French citizens in Niger last month, calling the abductions the result of French injustices against Muslims and warning they will continue.
In a new audio recording attributed to bin Laden and released to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, he called on the people of France to stop "interven[ing] in the affairs of Muslims in North and West Africa".
"The subject of my speech is the reason why your security is being threatened and your sons are being taken hostage," he said.
"The taking of your experts in Niger as hostages, while they were being protected by your proxy [agent] there, is a reaction to the injustice you are practicing against our Muslim nation."
"How could it be fair that you intervene in the affairs of Muslims, in North and West Africa in particular, support your proxies [agents] against us, and take a lot of our wealth in suspicious deals, while our people there suffer various forms of poverty and despair?"
Al-Qaeda's North African wing claimed responsibility for the September kidnappings of five French nationals, along with two others from Madagascar and Togo.
Al-Qaeda released photographs of the group late last month, showing the hostages sitting on the sand as several armed men in Bedouin clothing stood behind them.
The hostages are reportedly being held in a mountainous region in northwestern Mali. French officials say they have not received any demands from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group that carried out the kidnapping.
The hostages are employees of two French firms, Areva and Vinci, which do business in the mining town of Arlit in Niger.
Bin Laden also used the latest recording to criticise France's plan to ban the wearing of full face veils in public - a law due to be implemented next year.
"If you unjustly thought that it is your right to prevent free Muslim women from wearing the face veil, is it not our right to expel your invading men and cut their necks?
Bin Laden used the taped message to urge France to withdraw from Afghanistan, calling it an unjust war - and pledged more kidnappings if his warnings are not heeded.
"The equation is very clear and simple: as you kill, you will be killed; as you take others hostages, you will be taken hostages; as you waste our security we will waste you waste your security," he said.
Anne Juudichelli, the head of security think-tank Terrorisc, told Al Jazeera the message was significant because it gave another frame to the hostage issue "which will have major consequences on how to negotiate with the group".
"It is the first time that Osama bin Laden has directly addressed the French government," said Juudichelli, who worked at the French foreign ministry's Middle East section for nine years, and who was in charge of the government's "terrorism" portfolio post-September 11.
"We are waiting for the group to declare exactly what they want," she added.
"One of his strategies is to try and draw a distinction between French Muslims and French people in order to put pressure on the government and obtain more in the hostage negotiations."
Bin Laden's whereabouts are unknown, but in August, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Afghanistan, said he is "far buried" in the remote mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and that capturing him remains a key task.
Bin Laden is the world's most-wanted man, with the US offering a reward of up to $25m for information leading to his capture.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — Former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and CID director Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin were not personally served court papers ordering the release of two men from a detention facility and cannot be liable for their re-arrest, a High Court ruled today.
Musa and Bakri escaped being cited for contempt of court today for ordering the re-arrest of the two men after they were ordered released by a High Court.
This was because Musa (picture) and Bakri were not told or served the release order, the court reasoned.
B. Sasinthiran, 28, and R. Muniyandi, 26, had initiated contempt proceedings against Musa and Bakri on September 29 for ignoring release orders issued by a High Court, as they were re-arrested outside the Simpang Renggam detention centre in Johor immediately after their release, when the court orders were served at the facility.
“In both applications, it was stated that the writ of habeas corpus was served on the Pusat Pemulihan Akhlak Simpang Renggam Johor respectively and not on both the alleged contemnors personally,” said judge Datuk Mohd Sofian Abd Razak today.
“The court is not satisfied that the alleged contemnors had notice of the express terms of the said writ of habeas corpus,” he added.
KAPIT: The Rajang River, once mighty and voluminous, is fast running low – no thanks to the dry spell and the impoundment of the Bakun Dam.
The water level has reached a critically low point, triggering alarm among residents along the river.
The alert has gone out to the authorities to keep watch on more than 79 schools located downstream.
The schools in Kapit, Song and Belaga collectively have 20,000 students and if it doesn't rain next week, then the schools will have to be closed, a spokesman of the state education department said.
"So far, the Kapit education office has not sent us an SOS... nevetheless, we are on standby and closely monitoring the situation," he said.
The dry spell coupled with the impoundment of the Bakun Dam has cut off river communications with several primary and secondary schools between Kapit and Belaga, resulting in severe shortage of food supplies.
The record low water level in the once voluminous Rajang has created chaos in the state river transport network, disrupting the transport of goods, food and medicines to schools, stores and clinics in the interior.
As a result, prices of food and drinks in Kapit, for instance, have shot up in recent days.
Meanwhile, State Land Development Minister James Masing urged the relevant authorities such as the federal Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to take stern action against shopkeepers seen to be profiteering from the situation.
“The authorities must do something now before the prices of food stuff and drinks go out of control,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kapit MP, Alexander Nanta Linggi, sent an urgent plea to the federal government to intervene and help the people in Kapit affected by the low water level.
“The federal government should give greater attention and bigger allocation for the construction of access roads to longhouses in and along the Rajang River,” he said in Parliament recently.
“It would appear that this low water level of the Rajang River and other tributaries is going to be a permanent feature. It will then be difficult to navigate, thus burdening the people,” he said.
Since the impounding of the Bakun Dam began on Oct 13, the water level at the Rajang River has consistently dropped.
In Kapit itself, the water level, which was recorded at 6.7 metres above sea level on Oct 13, went down to below two metres five days later and continuing to drop. The normal water level is 8m.
Second State Planning and Resource Management Minister Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan had reportedly expressed shock.
He was quoted to have said that the "government had expected the water level at the Rajang River to recede to a certain degree during the impoundment but not at the current level," which is “totally unexpected.”
However, he said that nothing could be done as the impoundment could not be stopped.
Meanwhile, calls for the government to build the long-awaited Kapit-Sibu trunk road have resurfaced.
Nanta, whose family has been spearheading the campaign for the Kapit-Sibu road for over 40 years, said the current development makes it imperative for alternative routes to be built linking the township to Sibu.
“In view of the latest development, the government needs to focus on the construction of the road linking Kapit to Song and Sibu,” he said.
Nanta was reportedly furious when allocations for the Kapit-Sibu truck road was not included in the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
According to a source close to the state government, planners under Chief Minister Taib Mahmud were not in favour of the trunk road as it will “kill” Kapit, a logging town. Kapit is better accessed by a long speedboat ride and visitors inevitably must spend the night in the town.
Besides, a source said, a road was not economically viable as there are no economic activities between Sibu and Kapit eventhough the road will pass through hundreds of longhouses and thousands of acres of fertile land.
Moreover, the government did not want to deprive express boats owners and tongkang that ply between Sibu and Kapit of their business.
But more importantly, the source said, the government will be concentrating more on upstream development where, in addition to the Bakun Dam, there will be Murum and Baleh dams to be built.
"Roads and other infrastructure worth some RM7 billion will be built between Kapit and these areas which will form part of the Sarawak Corridor Renewal Energy,” the source said.
Thus, it appears that the Kapit-Sibu promise will remain an elusive dream.
COMMENT It is déjà vu all over again in Singapore. Anyone with fresh recollections of the diplomatic kerfuffle that erupted following the caning of US teenager Michael Fay in 1994 can attest that it would not be “easy” as it seems when that kind of punishment is meted out to Westerners.
Fay was convicted of vandalism and flogged four times. His punishment at Singapore’s Queenstown prison bruised not only him but also the sensibilities of the US media and their erstwhile hip-shooting, crusading politicians out not perhaps to salve the nation’s conscience but to gain some grandstanding points.
And what many blamed as misplaced, emotional knee-jerk reactions, the then US Trade Representative even sought revenge by urging the global community to move the inaugural World Trade Organisation meeting away from Singapore.
But that was then. Things have moved on and both nations have continued to enjoy cordial relations for the best part of their relationship.
In fact, what has happened since 1994 has been nothing short of what could be called an alliance.
Besides an increase in business activity between both countries, the US military also continues to enjoy close and warm ties with Singapore.
That only became more pronounced after the Sept 11 attacks which culminated in a visit to the Republic by then former US president George W Bush.
Mask of cordiality
Yet over the weekend it happened again and the mask of cordiality that both nations exhibited outwardly was removed.
This time, another US national had allegedly committed a crime for which caning was the penalty.
“The rule of law will (apply) to anyone regardless of the nationality of the person involved, his background or status,” Singapore's Law Minister K Shanmugam told reporters concerning the fate of Kamari Kenyada Charlton.
Charlton was charged with overstaying in Singapore and cheating. But he was also wanted by Interpol for allegedly deceiving people in Australia in a scam, the details of which are still sketchy.
(It seems that Charlton had gone to Singapore with his pregnant wife to seek medical treatment for her. They arrived in the island republic on Dec 15, last year. Charlton’s visa expired on March 15, 2010. He was detained at the Changi Airport on Sept 1, 2010 as he was about to depart. He has been in prison awaiting trial since his arrest.)
Still there is no guarantee that what happened 16 years ago may not revisit Singapore.
The heart of the question is not what punishment per se is adequate, but whether the type of punishment meted out is proportionate to the crime.
For starters, both nations maintain the death penalty though this is only practised in some US states.
Even so, Singapore is not exempt from the criticism that comes laced with the unabashed hypocrisy originating typically out of US-based human rights fronts in the US.
That being said, it remains to be seen how a US reaction to the present flap will pan out.
But if the Fay furore is any clue, one thing is for sure.
Bilateral ties will continue to remain strong whatever pressure may be applied on the US president to act on Charlton's case that is purely outside American purview and definitely out of its domain.
Yet amid all the acrimony that may or may not follow if and when Charlton is caned, the fact still remains that Singapore is a considerably far safer city than its major American counterparts.
And this was borne out by an international survey in September citing the city-state as the place of abode for immigrants as its streets are safe for people to mingle and interact.
Caning Charlton, if and when it happens, poses a question: is safety in the streets and its surrounding environnment all about how many people a nation canes or how many lashes it administers?
Maxwell Coopers is a freelance journalist based in Singapore.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Malay language expert Raymond Tombung Boin wants the on-going Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan (BBK) – National Language Month – to be a wake-up call for Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP or Language and Literary Agency).
The agency, according to him, has failed to arrest the continuing decline of the Malay language over the years from “poetry and grace” to something unimaginable. Ironically, DBP has in the process become a huge organisation employing hundreds of intellectuals, researchers and scientists.
He sees the lethargy of the organisation symbolised by the fact that it takes perhaps somewhere between five and six years to bring out a novel. DBP has also discontinued inserting notices of newly-created terminologies in the newspapers.
“The government should issue a no-nonsense directive to DBP to pull up its socks and do what it had originally been assigned to do, that is, develop the national language,” said Tombung, a former senior editor. “It’s also a matter of regret that the media is largely ignoring the BBK.”
He was commenting on a call in mid-week by Sabah Umno Youth to set up a National Language Commission under the Prime Minister’s Department, and answerable to Parliament, to complement the DBP.
Tombung, who’s also a Dusun cultural expert and activist involved in reviving dying local languages, sees part of the problem stemming from DBP allowing others to determine terminologies which Radio-Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) then goes on to popularise. This appears to be the case with “penghawa dingin” for air-conditioning instead of pendingin hawa, legenda (spelled correctly as lejenda in DBP dictionary) for legend but immortalised as lagenda in Sheila Majid’s hit song by that name.
The federal Cabinet appears to be guilty as well for deciding that it should be “mampan” instead of “mapan” or “mempan” for sustainable. Again, there was only silence from DBP.
Writers and translators like Tombung “are in despair” over the absence of proper Malay words for common English words such as “argument” (inaccurately translated as hujah), and “description” (often translated as huraian). Elsewhere, he wants to know who created the inaccurate “penggubahan wang haram” for “money laundering” and why “laman web” (website) is part Malay, part English. He does not suggest the alternatives.
Tombung reiterates that in the face of inaction – read DBP – Malay is becoming far removed from its beautiful original form and degenerating into a language with a lot less foundation, especially given the entry of “garbage expressions”. He cites the usage of I, you and so in Malay as among the more notorious pollutants.
He also queries the need for DBP to replace “beautiful, useful and still relevant” words like belanjawan (budget) with English corruptions like bajet, objektif for tujuan (objective), efektif for berkesan (effective), efisien for cekap (efficient), prejudis for prasangka (prejudice) and perspektif for pandangan (perspective), among others.
“The new terms from English have not really improved the language,” says Tombung. “The situation is similar to Malay in Indonesia which has adopted so many English words that often an entire sentence consists of only English words.”
Tombung has nothing against the incorporation of English words into Malay but not to replace words already in the language and provided it was done professionally. In fact, he points out that it was the ability of the Malay language to borrow terminologies that has kept it as a living language.
“If we speak 10 words of Malay, often seven of them would probably be Sanskrit while the rest may be Tamil, Hindi and Persian, if not Arabic and English, Chinese too,” said Tombung. “The hungry adoption of loan words continue but nowadays from English only and often not for the better.”
Citing Sanskrit as a case in point, Tombung notes that words taken from the language for Malay were adopted and adapted seamlessly unlike the entry of English corruptions. He expects the dumping of the word belanjawan to be followed by the demise of other Sanskrit-origin words like rupawan (good-looking), dermawan (philanthropist) pahlawan (warrior) and menawan (capture) all with the “wan” (in Sanskrit) suffix.
The number of foreign words, old and new, in English has left Tombung perplexed whenever someone screams himself hoarse about the “sovereignty of the Malay language”. If sovereignty means Malay not borrowing words from other languages, he sees that as a “non-starter”. Again, if sovereignty means preventing the language being undermined by other languages, he suggests that the focus be more on Malay not accepting corruptions rather than on restricting, as implied, the use of other languages.
Tombung has also observed that the covers of books produced by DBP have not changed in the last 30 years. Apparently, “they can be spotted a mile away” by the two-dimensional, two-colour designs.
“They have to buck up in graphics and improve their designing ability,” said Tombung.
If DBP officials still believe their designs are great, Tombung wants them to answer this question: “Why are books designed by the private-sector publishers doing so well while the DBP books and magazines are selling so poorly?” The result has been piles of unsold books which have to be disposed of through annual cheap sales offering discounts of 70% or more.
“The layout artists need to move away from the too-compact, British-style, text-jamming that constricts the brain, stifles the eyes and congests the breath when we read DBP books,” says Tombung.
He suggests emulating American book and magazine designs. These “appeal to the imagination, enhances the intellectual juices and make reading a breeze and a joy” and best expressed even in university textbooks and modules.
DBP Sabah declined comment. A spokesman suggested that all queries and complaints be referred to its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Or to Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who recently launched the Bulan Bahasa Kebangsaan in Ipoh, Perak.
The Federation of Malaya Agreement was signed on 21st January 1948 and came into force on 1st February of that same year. A form of common citizenship was created for all who acknowledged Malaya as their permanent home and the object of their undivided loyalty. Within this framework the settlements of Penang and Malacca remained British territory while Singapore became a separate colony under its own Governor. NO HOLDS BARRED Raja Petra Kamarudin
Here is an excerpt from the Facebook campaign, now numbering to almost 160,000 members, rejecting the Menara Warisan proposal:
“Rakyat Malaysia mengatakan TAK NAK kepada Menara Warisan 100-tingkat yang memakan kos RM5,000,000,000 yang dicadangkan oleh PM Najib Razak dalam Bajet 2011. … Malaysians saying no to the RM5-billion 100-storey Mega Tower proposed by PM Najib in the 2011 budget. Malaysia needs better education, better health care, better public transportation, safer neighbourhood, cleaner water, but not taller building. We don’t need another white elephant! …
“Malaysia perlukan pendidikan, perubatan dan pengangkutan awam yang lebih baik, jiran-tetangga yang lebih selamat, air yang lebih bersih, dan bukannya bangunan yang lebih tinggi. … Kita tidak perlukan seekor lagi gajah putih yang membazirkan wang rakyat jelata. … Wahai, saudara-saudari warga Malaysia sekalian, biar kita bersatu tak mengira kaum, agama, budaya, bahasa, pendirian politik, geografi atau kelas. Biar kita bersatu dan membela nasib endiri. Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!”
I am beginning to sense that the issue will contribute to the downfall of the current regime of Barisan Nasional in the next general election. It is as if the last BN hurrah to showcase megalomania and illusions of grandeur will be a rallying point for the masses/rakyat fatigued by he struggle to survive the daily grind while robber barons rob, dine, and wine.
The issue however is, developmental priority and what lies behind the proposal and what the proposed tower signifies. It is a question of political-economy and semiotics of developmentalism.
Even the name “Warisan” begs the question of authentic history of Malaysia and reminds me of the propaganda song “Warisan” (Anak kecil main api …) used by the indoctrination outfit Biro Tata Negara to create unthinking and unquestioning and mentally-domesticated citizens out of the civil servants especially.
Mega tower and idiotic pride
I wrote this as my Facebook status when I read about the proposal:
Tall towers do not symbolise progress. If the Malaysian government insists on otherwise, stick two toothpicks on top of the Petronas Twin Towers to make the building tallest in Malaysia, taller than the previous twin towers. Malaysia can then be known as the Toothpick Capital of the world – ar
Or – a cheaper path towards grandiose-ness is, as a Facebook friend of mine suggested, is to build two high rise towers on top of Mount Kinabalu.
The ruling regime is suffering from a complex called idiotic pride; trumpeting grandioseness on the outside but trampling democracy inside. I see the image of the oppressors smiling at the camera globally while an army boot is on the head of a screaming citizen on the ground, locally.
This is the image of how the nation is responding to the five-billion ringgit question: The Warisan Tower, proposed as yet another megalomanic project to boost a national ego unprepared for a regime change.
Instead of fixing the education system, attending to abject poverty in East Malaysia, poverty everywhere in general, addressing environmental degradation, improving race relations, fixing the judiciary, battling crime by instilling ethics in law enforcement, giving educational financial aid to deserving Malaysians of ALL races, the focus of the developmental agenda is on more towers, palaces, useless real estate projects, and translating meaningless developmental policies derived from a poorly-understood idea of development.
This goes to the ultra-modernisation of our national defense system itself. We didn’t even need to ‘modernise the armed forces’ – the enemy is inside the country, amongst the corrupt politicians and robber barons, not outside of us amongst the internally-problematic Asean nations themselves.
In the history of human civilisations, the erecting of tall structures has in it the question of the winners and losers in history and of megalomanic rulers.
Glorifying tyrants, sacrificing the masses
From the ancient architectures of symbolic power such as the pyramids of Gizeh, the temples of the Incas and the Mayans, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Great Wall of China, the Collosus of Rhodes, and many more – all these are about glorifying tyrants and sacrificing the masses. Millions died unknown in history whilst names such as Ramses, Shah Jehan, Shih Huang-Ti, and Nebuchadnezzar are remembered for their fame or infamy.
In the history of postmodern civilisations, the erecting of the tallest structures has become a race for idiotic pride and madness. The Eiffel Tower, the Empire State building, the Sears Tower, and the Petronas Twin Towers, Xujjahui in China, International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong, Shanghai World Financial Centre, Taipei 101, Burj Khalifa, and the proposed Lotte World II – all these are symbols of idiotic pride of the both the capitalist and socialist worlds.
Down below these towers lie a population characterised by marked disparity between the haves and the have-nots, and of those living in decaying urban slums.
No, we do not need to trumpet our megalomanic tendencies. We need to look at our immediate needs and prioritise as a nation that is losing its sense of direction guided by a regime that is intoxicated with power derived from the orchestration of the archaic strategy of divide and rule using race as a tool.
WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (Reuters) - A Virginia man who allegedly believed he was helping al Qaeda plan bombings at Washington area Metrorail stations was arrested on Wednesday, the Justice Department said.
Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, was taken into custody early in the morning after a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment on Tuesday against the naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Pakistan.
Federal officials said that the public was never in any danger during the investigation and that federal authorities had closely monitored Ahmed's activities until his arrest.
Earlier this month, the United States and Britain warned of an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Europe, with Washington saying al Qaeda might target transport infrastructure.
A U.S. official, on condition of anonymity, said there was "no connection between recent reports of the terrorism threats in Europe and this arrest."
Ahmed was charged with trying to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to help carry out multiple bombings to cause mass casualties at D.C.-area Metrorail stations.
A law enforcement official said that Ahmed was passing the information to someone who was working with law enforcement.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison, the Justice Department said.
"Farooque Ahmed is accused of plotting with individuals he believed were terrorists to bomb our transit system, but a coordinated law enforcement and intelligence effort was able to thwart his plans," said David Kris, assistant Attorney General for National Security.
"It's chilling that a man from Ashburn is accused of casing rail stations with the goal of killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said.
From April to Oct. 25 Ahmed allegedly conducted surveillance, videotaped, photographed, and drew diagrams of the Arlington Cemetery, Courthouse, Crystal City and Pentagon City Metrorail stations, and offered suggestions about where to place explosives to kill people in simultaneous attacks planned for 2011, the indictment said.
He allegedly told an individual whom he believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda that between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. would be the best time for an attack to cause the most casualties, the indictment said.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, U.S. authorities have worried about another attack on U.S. soil.
Last week, a Jordanian national was sentenced to 24 years in prison for attempting to blow up a Dallas skyscraper.
Earlier this month, Pakistani-born American Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison for trying to set off a car bomb in New York's Times Square.
Friends, I have not felt this strongly about a case in a long time.
I know it’s a long article (I’ve bolded important bits), but the summary is this.
Gunasegaran is a man who died in police detention the same day as Teoh Beng Hock.
Selvachandran, Ravi and Suresh were also detained that day, and in an unprecedented, brave move, they testified against the cops – identifying one policeman as having assaulted Gunasegaran.
Ravi & Suresh have been in detention prior to this. On Monday, the court delivered an open verdict, stating the cause of death was unknown.
That same night, Selvachandran was arrested and beaten in front of his wife and kids.
Please, please come this Saturday morning to show that this is truly unacceptable.
I’ve been feeling a bit down about these things, and seeing you there, standing together with the victim’s families, would really, really help lift my flagging spirits, and help us know we are not alone.
Time: Saturday, 30th Oct, 10.00am
Place: Bukit Aman Police HQ, Lake Gardens Entrance
Thanks to TMI for printing:
I remember the ones who made an effort to get me better food than what lock-up inmates usually get. I think of those who risk life and limb to protect us every single day on the job.
Very little is to be gained, after all, from hating anyone. Or from trying to lump every member of a group as one monolithic being.
While we avoid hating people, I’m not sure it’s wrong to hate acts.
Some say hate is only one side of a coin away from love; that those who hate at least still care, and that the true attitude to worry about is indifference.
Gunasegaran and Teoh Beng Hock — Two deaths, one day
On July 16, 2009, Teoh Beng Hock died. This is an incident I hope we will never, ever forget.
Across town in a Sentul police station on that very same day, another man died as well. His name was R. Gunasegaran, and I believe he was beaten to death.
Today, 15 months later, I fear that the chain of events that started on that July 16 may endanger the well-being or even lives of another three men.
Gunasegaran was arrested in a narcotics sweep in Sentul. Two hours later, he was dead.
His sister R. Ganga Gowri, who I met for the first time this Tuesday, was understandably shocked and traumatised. She did not believe that Gunasegaran died from a “drug overdose” as reported.
She did not let her malcontent sit idle however; this lady bravely made an effort to locate other individuals who were picked up in the raid along with Gunasegaran, to find the truth about what happened on that July 16.
As you can imagine, it’s not easy to find people who are willing to talk about witnessing any criminal acts by the police (we will soon see why). It took Ganga Gowri a month of tracking down individuals and slowly getting them to talk.
One can only imagine how much work it must have taken to persuade three men, already in trouble with the law, to speak out against the police in open court. This, though, is exactly what Ganga Gowri did.
As a result of her persistence, and in what may have been a first for an inquest into a death in custody, three men finally plucked up the courage to step forward and, in a court of law, openly testified that a policeman beat a suspect.
Witnesses: Gunasegaran kicked unconscious
According to documents provided by M. Visvanathan, the lawyer who represented Gunasegaran’s family, the three men who testified are Ravi Subramaniam, Suresh M Subbaiah and K Selvachandran. All three men testified that Gunasegaran was beaten and kicked while detained.
Ravi was made by the police to help Gunasegaran take his fingerprints and urine sample, because the latter was in too bad shape to do so himself.
Ravi then helped Gunasegaran to a room with a chair, and was sent back to the lock-up. He then heard a chair fall. When he next saw Gunasegaran, he could not ascertain whether he was alive or dead.
Ravi also testified that a policeman promised him an early release if he would testify that Gunasegaran fell down of his own accord and was not beaten by the police.
All witnesses corroborated this account, and identified one Lance Corporal Mohd Faizal Mat Taib as the policeman who kicked Gunasegaran in the chest and back. There were also accusations of beatings with a rubber hose and wooden stick.
Cops walk free
On Monday, October 25, 2010, coroner Siti Shakirah Mohtarudin gave an open verdict as to the death of Gunasegaran — stating that there was insufficient evidence to prove any cause of death; saying basically that the state had no idea how he died.
This judgment was delivered despite the eyewitness testimonies. According to a lawyer, at one point in the judgment, the coroner speculated that “the injuries could have been caused by efforts to resuscitate the deceased, even though the medical officer testified that no effort was made at resuscitation.”
Unsettled and in tears a press conference on Tuesday (I really hope you’ll take the time to watch the short video), Ganga Gowri said: “Why has there been no action taken, despite there being witnesses who saw the beatings? I have been crying since yesterday, I still cannot understand. I cannot accept what is going on.”
The last time I saw someone look so lost, numb and distraught was when I attended a similar press conference with A. Kugan’s mother.
One cannot help but marvel at the irony of Manmohan Singh’s visit. Let’s hope he’s aware. Selvachandran beaten in front of wife and kids
Ganga Gowri was joined at this press conference by one S. Saraswathy (I have a cousin by that name), wife of Selvachandran.
Selvachandran was one of the men who placed the truth above a fear of the authorities, and decided to do his duty to the late Gunasegaran and his family by testifying in court about what he saw happen to Gunasegaran.
On Monday night, the very same day that the “open verdict” was delivered, Selvachandran would pay the price for his decision to stand up for what was right.
Saraswathy explained that at around 10pm, a group of unidentified men came banging at their door. While Selvachandran was looking for the keys, they became increasingly aggressive and broke the door down.
These men handcuffed Selvachandran, made his wife remove his sarung and replace it with a pair of pants, and then bizarrely asked her to give him a kiss (goodbye?).
They then took him outside and beat him severely in front of his wife and children. When his poor, confused children tried to ask these men why they were taking their father, the men hurled verbal abuse at both mother and children, and continued beating Selvachandran.
They only then briefly flashed some cards showing that they were police and took off with Selvachandran in tow.
Nobody knows for sure where he is or what he is charged with — early indications suggest that one of the many laws allowing for indefinite detention without trial will or have been used.
The very first episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series “The Wire” features a character called William Gant. In the opening scenes of the episode, we see him nervously giving testimony in court during the murder trial positively identifying the accused — a cousin of a drug lord.
In the courtroom are men dressed in sharp suits, looking quietly intimidating. It turns out these men have bribed another witness in the same case to reverse her testimony, and the murderer walks free.
By the end of the episode, William Gant has earned himself a bullet in the head, courtesy of the drug dealers.
“The Wire” features a world where the cops can do very little to stop criminals from doing whatever they please. In Malaysia, it seems there is very little anybody can do to stop the cops from behaving like criminals whenever they please. Neverending impunity
What kind of police force is so sure of their impunity that they would assault someone who just testified against them the very same night a verdict is delivered exonerating them?
Their fear of justice is so non-existent that it appears never to have crossed their minds that their actions on Monday night might appear fishy. Or even if it did, there was clearly a belief that there wasn’t a damn thing anyone could do about it.
With no verdict ever having found a policeman guilty of abuse or death in custody, can you blame them for thinking so?
In fact, by law, the only thing you can do in the circumstances that face both Ganga Gowri and Saraswathy — where you feel you have been wronged by the police — is to file a police report.
Is their only recourse to justice based on some hope that other cops will turn on their colleagues, brothers and sisters? The same men and women they look to watch their back in the field?
I am entirely hard pressed to see how anyone of any intelligence could possibly fail to see the inherent, mind-blowing stupidity in this blatant conflict of interest.
Lighting the darkness
There are good cops, and there are bad cops. In Malaysia, there are some very bad cops indeed. I feel the culture of beating and torturing people in police lock-ups is widespread and deeply ingrained. I shudder to think of the degree to which these men and women have become desensitised to violence.
Most readers of this article would never experience this, and some of us (who I don’t blame) might subconsciously hope that ignoring a problem like this is the same as making it not exist. Or, worse yet, think that it is somehow a necessity in “fighting crime.”
Some, however, have actually had some seriously bad experiences. Among the middle class, a “popular” case is the nightclub drug raid (read: extortion). This one very unfortunate young man is but the latest in a string of victims in similarly traumatic cases, the type of which we have all heard about for years. Are we ever really the same after?
While the scale differs, the underlying reasons are the same — a culture of impunity breeds bullies.
The willingness and ability to inflict harm on other human beings thrives in the dark. It thrives in places where eyes refuse to look, and light refuses to shine.
The other two witnesses in Gunasegaran’s case have long been in police custody. No one seems to know how they are or what they might be going through — they live in that dark world, one that so few of us can peer into. Thinking about this fills me with dread.
This far, no further
I am not exaggerating or trying to play dramatic hero when I say that we (kita, not kami) could be all that separates Selvachandran, Ravi and Suresh from Gunasegaran’s fate.
I have seen first hand how public pressure stays the hand of excess on the part of the cops — how it saved me from meeting the fate of Mr Tung Ket Ming.
I know there’s a lot competing for our attention right now — by-elections, mega towers, natural disasters, and even the death of Paul the octopus. It is our heavy-hearted plea that you’ll still manage to spare just a bit of your time to write about this, tell your friends and family about what is happening and join our gathering in two days.
On Saturday morning, October 30 at 10am, some concerned citizens will be gathering at the Bukit Aman police headquarters at the Lake Gardens entrance to stand with Mrs Saraswathy, Mrs Ganga Gowry, and many others.
We stand with them not to incite blind hatred against the men and women tasked to protect us, but simply because we can no longer stand idly by as our brothers and sisters are beaten and dying.
I know it’s a lot to ask of your Saturday morning, but I really do hope you’ll come and show them they are not alone. Come early, enjoy a fresh morning walk, and help make sure a few less fortunate Malaysians may one day be able to enjoy that same walk, free from any violation of their most basic human rights.
Saraswathy and her children were forced to see something no human should ever have to see. If we do not take enough effort to show we care and that we will not suffer such evil in our midst, they — or others like them who we have not met yet — may have to feel what Ganga Gowry, Teoh Beng Hock’s family, Aminulrasyid’s parents, and so many more have felt.
PUTRAJAYA: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made it clear he will not support Malaysian Indians’ claims of discrimination.
Manmohan, who is on a three-day visit to Malaysia, said India would respect the Government’s efforts to tackle problems related to the Indian community.
Manmohan said Malaysia, like India, was a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country and as a democracy, it respected the fundamental human rights of all citizens.
“I am confident that the Malaysian system has the built-in flexibility to tackle any problems of the type mentioned (discrimination).
“I, therefore, have no reason to be apprehensive about the future of the Indian community in this great country,” he told a joint press conference with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak after their bilateral talks at the PM’s office here yesterday.
The leaders also witnessed the signing of an agreement to conclude negotiations of a Malaysia-India free trade agreement, which will be signed by Jan 31 and launched July 1 next year.
The Indian leader was asked by a member of the Indian media if their talks had touched on claims that the Indian community in Malaysia was left out and discriminated against.
The Indian media had questioned the treatment of the Indian community here while the Press Trust of India called on Manmohan to raise “serious human rights violations” during his visit to Malaysia.
Newspapers in the country also highlighted calls by the banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) for the Indian prime minister to raise issues concerning the welfare of the ethnic Indian minority here to show a sense of “moral responsibility” towards Malaysian Indians.
Najib, who took the question before Manmohan, said any issue pertaining to the Indian community was a purely domestic matter and the Government was handling it in a positive manner.
“I do not think I have to go into it and it is certainly not a matter that we have discussed between our two countries,” he said.
Padang, Indonesia (CNN) -- At least 311 people have died in a magnitude-7.7 earthquake off Indonesia and the subsequent tsunami, said the head of West Sumatra's disaster management agency Wednesday.
Another 410 people are still missing, agency coordinator Ade Edward said.
Rescuers and aid workers were struggling to reach the victims in the remote, hard-hit Mentawai Islands region of Indonesia.
"It's very difficult" to reach the region either by boat or road, said Andrew Judge, CEO of the nonprofit SurfAid International.
At least one team, from the Indonesian Red Cross, had to turn back because of high seas. The organization was set to try again Wednesday, taking some 400 body bags, said spokeswoman Aulia Arriani. The trip takes at least 10 hours in good conditions, according to aid agencies.
The Red Cross will send more supplies, but is waiting to see what is needed. However, Ita Balanda, a program manager for the World Vision aid organization in Padang, said the urgent needs are expected to be clean water, food, blankets, clothing, medical attention, emergency shelter and hygiene kits.
"These people lost their houses, mostly," said Balanda, who is receiving information from the local government as well as a local nongovernmental organization. She said three public schools, a bridge, a road and four churches were also reported damaged. An estimated 7,900 households were affected, she said.
Medicines, tents, food and water have been sent to the area by boat, Edward said.
"The worst hit area is North and South Pagai Island. Reports of villages flattened are coming from there," said Antorizon of the West Sumatra disaster management agency, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
"Limited hospital services are overwhelmed," Judge said. "A lot of homes have been destroyed."
The first pictures from North Pagai Island showed damaged and flattened structures.
In Padang, an atmosphere of concern prevailed. Balanda said young people on the street were soliciting donations to aid victims.
Mahmuddin Moedpro, a former NGO employee who has mobilized a team of volunteers he calls "a voluntary association of humanity," said in an e-mail he was attempting to get aid to the victims as well.
Moedpro, who said he is particularly concerned about the plight of children and pregnant women, said he plans to send supplies, including children's milk, vitamins and food. He said he hopes the government of Indonesia will provide aid and assistance to the victims.
Because of the quake and tsunami, as well as the eruption of Mount Merapi in central Java, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cut short a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, and headed for Padang, Indonesia's Antara news agency reported.
"The president is deeply concerned over the tsunami in Mentawai and the Mount Merapi eruption," Djoko Suyanto, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, told Antara.
Monday's quake generated a "significant" tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Some of the missing might include people who are unaccounted for after fleeing to higher ground, said Henri Dori Satoko, head of the Mentawai Islands parliament.
Though communication poses a challenge in the remote area, some witnesses in West Sumatra reported seeing a wave 6 meters (nearly 20 feet) high. Other reports described the tsunami as being about 3 meters (almost 10 feet) high.
At least one village with a population of about 200 people was swept away, with only 40 people recovered, Satoko said.
The quake struck at 9:42 p.m. Monday, triggering a tsunami warning. Its epicenter was 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Padang, at a depth of 20.6 kilometers (12.8 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The magnitude was revised upward from a preliminary magnitude of 7.5.
The government issued a warning to people in West Sumatra province to stay alert and stay away from the coastline for up to five days because of the possibility of more earthquakes, Balanda said.
The city of Padang and the Mentawai Islands are at the meeting place of two tectonic plates, making them vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.
On December 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off northern Sumatra. A tsunami generated by that earthquake killed more than 225,000 people in 14 countries -- mainly India, Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The Indonesian region of Banda Aceh was hard-hit: About 150,000 died there.
(Malaysiakini) Senior lawyer Karpal Singh raised suspicions that the denial to allow the defence to see the clinical notes of Hospital Kuala Lumpur's examination on Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan indicated "something is wrong".
He felt there might be an attempt to implicate the accused, de facto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim.
This follows Anwar's previous experience during the infamous 'black-eye' incident 12 years ago involving the same government hospital.
The matter came to light when Karpal (right) applied to have access to the clinical notes as well as the July 10 preliminary medical examination report.
He was refused the former but allowed the latter.
The application for the clinical notes was objected by solicitor-general II Mohd as the documents were not referred to by the prosecution during its examination-in-chief.
This prompted Karpal, who is also DAP chairperson, to say: "We do not want a repeat of the black-eye incident where the doctor, Dr Abdul Rahman Yusof, was asked to do something which he did not want to.
"In that case, Dr Abdul Rahman was asked to testify that Anwar's black-eye injury was self-inflicted. Certainly, we do not want this to happen in this case.
"Anwar can bring its case against the doctor for perjury. A lot of things happen in HKL. Hence, we need the notes to show corroboration."
Yusof attacked Karpal for making a political speech and for relying on that incident as a basis to make the application to get the documents.
"He cannot rely on what had happened 10 years ago to make this application."
Karpal argued that the black-eye incident involved HKL, and now with its involvement in the current sodomy case, it indicated that something was wrong.
"This is not a political speech, but the court has to go to the bottom of the matter."
Yusof said the attorney-general was cleared of tampering in the case, but Anwar shouted from the dock: "It's the AG! (Abdul Gani Patail). That's a lie."
An independent investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission following Anwar's report absolved Abdul Gani and former police chief Musa Hassan from being involved in the cover-up.
This was despite the investigating officer in the 'black eye' incident, former senior assistant commissioner II Mat Zain Ibrahim, having allegedthat Abdul Gani and Musa were involved in it.
Rahim's assault on Anwar
At the height of the reformasi era in 1998, Anwar was sacked from his deputy prime minister's post allegedly on trumped-up sodomy and corruption charges.
While in detention, he was assaulted by the then inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor.
But initial reports said that Anwar's injuries were self-inflicted, following the HKL doctor's report.
This resulted in Anwar accusing the then prosecutor Abdul Gani Patail, now the attorney-general, of a cover-up.
Subsequently, Abdul Rahim pleaded guilty to assaulting Anwar and was jailed for two months. A royal commission of inquiry was also held.
Following the discrepancy, Anwar lodged a police report accusing Abdul Gani and former IGP Musa Hassan of their role in the cover-up.
Oct 27 (PTI) In the backdrop of discrimination being felt by ethnic Indians in this country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed confidence that Malaysia would tackle such issues through its inbuilt flexibility while his counterpart Najib Razak asserted it was a "purely domestic matter" which India should respect. "Like India, Malaysia is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic entity.
It is a democracy which respects fundamental human rights of all its citizens. "I am confident that the Malaysian system has built-in flexibility to tackle any problem of the kind you mentioned," Singh said at a joint press conference with Najib when a question was asked about the feeling of discrimination among people of Indian origin in Malaysia and whether this issue was discussed.
Najib, while responding to the question, said "this is purely a domestic matter for us to handle and we are handling it very positively. We don't have to discuss such matters between the two countries."
He went on to add that "as much we respect what happens in India", he expected the latter also respects "what we do". Ethnic Indians form eight per cent of Malaysia's population of 27 million people, with majority of them from Tamil Nadu. In 2007, more than 20,000 ethnic Indians took part in a massive protest rally here against alleged marginalisation of the minority community by the Government.
The protest was organised by a group called Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) which was later banned. The government denied the charges of discrimination. In the general elections the next year, the ruling coalition of Barisan national had a dismal performance at the polls barely hanging on to power with several states voting for the opposition. A huge chunk of the ethnic Indian population also voted for the opposition as many believed that the Malaysian political party Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) had hardly done enough to uplift them. Their ire was against the party chief Samy Vellu, who has been at the helm of the party for 30 years, alleging he had done little for them.
Samy Vellu is expected to step down voluntarily in January next year and pass on the presidentship to his deputy. Indians were brought to Malaysia by the British 200 years ago as indentured labourers to work in plantations and make roads in the then Malaya. Soon after India's independence some left for home while many stayed back with subsequent generations growing in Malaysia as Malaysian Indians.
The body of Tamil Tiger leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran is carried through a group of Sri Lankan soldiers at Nanthikadal lagoon in northern Sri Lanka May 19, 2009. A court has sentenced a Tamil Tiger to 30 years’ hard labour for helping carry out a 1999 suicide bombing. – Reuters pic
COLOMBO, Oct 27 – A Sri Lankan court today sentenced a Tamil Tiger separatist to 30 years' hard labour for helping carry out a 1999 suicide bombing that killed 26 people and cost the then-president her eye.
Sri Lanka's government defeated the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009, ending a civil war that became one of Asia's longest-running at nearly 30 years.
The LTTE's hallmark was suicide bombings that killed government leaders, and the 1999 attack almost added President Chandrika Kumaratunga to the casualty list that included a previous Sri Lankan head of state and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Sathyawale Ilangeshwaran had pleaded guilty to transporting the explosives and helping the female suicide bomber who blew herself up in the December 18, 1999, attack at an election rally.
"Even though the LTTE is a terrorist organisation, its members are Sri Lankans and they fall under the law of the land and they can not kill or harm anybody," Judge W.T.M.P.B Waravewa told the court while handing down the sentence.
Sri Lanka's rights record has been battered by years of extra-judicial killings and personal score-settling carried out against the backdrop of the LTTE conflict and two other homegrown insurgencies, the first of which started in 1971.
LTTE sympathisers and rights groups still accuse the government of operating outside the law to handle former separatists.
The government says it follows the laws of the country when dealing with members of the LTTE, which was on more than 30 nations' terrorism lists. Powerful wartime emergency laws that allow indefinite detention without charge remain in force.
The military today said it is dismantling permanent military checkpoints in the capital Colombo due to the eased security situation. It will replace them with remote surveillance and spot checks, a military spokesman said.
The Indian ocean island's $42 billion (RM130.45 billion) economy has been rebounding across most sectors since the end of the war. Tourism arrivals surged 44 per cent year-on-year for the first nine months of 2010 owing to the improved security situation. – Reuters
KUALA LUMPUR: Amidst much fanfare and heavy security presence, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh today put “Little India” on the big map of the world.
Both premiers jointly launched Malaysia's new attraction at Brickfields here at about 6pm to rousing applause of the nearly 10,000 crowd.
Najib and Manmohan unveiled a giant water fountain at Jalan Travers, as performers showcased their dance routines to reflect the multi-racial nature of the country.
Earlier, the two leaders were entertained to a special rendition of the 1Malaysia song, both in Malay and Tamil, praising Najib for his 1Malaysia concept which promotes acceptance and unity in diversity.
Later, the crowd was treated to a classical dance featuring Ramli Ibrahim, a well-known Odyssey dancer.
Among those who witnessed the special event was R Deva. He said he came all the way from Ipoh to see the Indian prime minister unveil “Little India”.
“I can see a lot of changes in Brickfields and I am very happy about it,” he said, adding that business for traders will certainly pick up with this new look.
But for some representatives of the National Union of Banking Employees (NUBE), they initially had something else in mind when they came for the event.
“At first, we planned to submit a memorandum to both premiers over some grievences involving a bank that employed staff from both countries.
“However, after receiving a guarantee that the government will look into our grouses, we dropped the plan,” said NUBE's representative Mohd Dauzkaply Nor.
Instead, he and his colleagues joined in the celebration in support of Najib.
More tourists, more revenue
Turning his attention to Little India, Dauzkaply said the area had always been a popular business hub and with the new image, it will attract more tourists and generate more revenue for the tourism industry.
“It will be good for the Indian traders here as they will see better business in the future. Besides Indians, other races too will come here to shop and dine,” he said.
But for some traders, the heavy security net thrown around the area had affected their business.
Kannan (not his real name), who owns a saree outlet nearby, said his business was affected because the area was cordoned off .
“My loss for today stands at RM10,000. I may have lost additional sales as this is nearing the Deepavali season,” he said, adding that the police should not have blocked all the roads, including the pedestrian walks.
“The police must understand that the people did not only come to see the launching but also to shop and dine around here.
“By blocking even the pedestrian paths, customers were put off” said Kannan.
However, there is one bright news to cheer up Kannan. He said the Little India project will serve as an advertisement for the traders which will benefit them in the long run.
“Tourists will come to know about us and visit this place,” he said.
SEREMBAN: Felda is forcing settlers to deal with a specific company in the felling of old rubber trees and the sale of rubber wood, according to a report filed with the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) today.
"We want the MACC to investigate abuse of power by Felda and we want to know who are behind the company that has been awarded the contract,” Negeri Sembilan PAS Commissioner Zulkefly Mohamad Omar told FMT outside the MACC office here.
Zulkefly and Jempol PAS chief Abdul Rahman Ramli accompanied settler Osman Sentul in lodging the report. Osman claimed to be a representative for 120 settlers in the Lui Selatan 1 and 2 land schemes in Jempol.
Zulkefly said Felda was denying the settlers the right to cut down trees and to sell the wood on their own.
"These 120 settlers don't have any more debts with Felda and it is their right to do whatever they want with their rubber trees, including choosing their own contractors for the cutting down of trees and the sale of the wood,” he said.
"The Group Settlement Agreement between Felda and settlers clearly indicates that the moment the settlers pay off all their dues with Felda, it doesn't have any more rights over their rubber or oil palm holdings.”
He also alleged that Felda appointed the contractor without going through an open tender system.
“I learnt from the settlers that Felda gave this company the contract to deal with other Felda schemes as well.”
Zulkelfy also said that Felda had not told the settlers how much the company would pay for their wood.
“What is so special about this company?" he asked.
In other words, Pakatan Rakyat does not trust their own party members and they also don’t trust their own candidates. So they have to keep the names of the candidates a secret until the eve or the morning of Nomination Day.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
There are two areas of concern that the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) would like to thrash out with the three Pakatan Rakyat political parties contesting the elections.
One is the problem of which party gets to contest which seat.
Second is the eleventh hour decision in naming the candidates resulting in candidates ‘parachuting’ into the constituency and most times the voters do not know them from Adam.
222 parliament seats and 505 state seats were contested in the last general election. If we include the 71 state seats in Sarawak then the total number of seats would come to 798.
In the previous general election, the opposition won 82 parliament seats (so they lost in 140 parliamentary constituencies) and 196 state seats (so they lost in 309 state constituencies). This, of course, does not include the 71 Sarawak state seats because Sarawak did not hold the state elections at the same time as the last general election.
This means, in the last general election, the opposition won 37% of the parliament seats and 39% of the state seats (Sarawak not included), roughly one-third of all the seats contested. In other words, the opposition lost almost two-thirds of the seats.
That is not so bad, really, because, first of all, there are only three parties in the opposition versus 14 in Barisan Nasional. Secondly, even then the opposition managed to garner almost 50% of the popular votes. Unfortunately, though, because of the gerrymandering and the ‘first past the post’ system, it is seats and not votes that determines the winner.
And this is exactly the grouse of the LibDem party of the UK and which has also been my grouse since way back in 1999 when I wrote that the opposition would need to garner 60% of the votes to win 51% of the seats (if you analyse the 12 general elections since 1959, in particular the 1969 general election) -- which is almost impossible for the opposition to achieve.
Okay, we are talking about almost 800 seats in all (if we include Sarawak) and the opposition, at best, appears to be able to win less than one-third these seats. So how does the opposition decide which party should contest which seat?
Now, I can understand PKR, DAP and PAS being very protective of the 82 parliament seats and the 196 state seats that they won in 2008 (total 278 seats). These are seats that they ‘own’, since they already won them. But what about the remaining 520 parliament and state seats (Sarawak included) which they lost? Who owns those 520 seats, which the opposition lost and Barisan Nasional won?
And herein lies the problem. PKR, DAP and PAS will not quarrel over the 278 seats. After all, those seats are seats that they already won so they 'belong' to the respective parties that won them. No one would dispute that the winner gets to keep those seats, especially if the party that ‘owns’ the seats had won it the last three, four of five general elections in a row. It is the balance 520 seats that they lost and which Barisan Nasional won that is the problem.
PKR, DAP and PAS considers those seats that they lost as also ‘belonging’ to each respective party based on who contested those seats in the last general election (or last few general elections). The fact that they lost those seats (sometimes many general elections in a row) is not important. It is who contested those seats, even though they lost those seats, which will be the criteria to decide who ‘owns’ those seats.
For example, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Ku Li) has never lost his Gua Musang parliamentary seat. And PAS has always contested that seat against Ku Li and has lost every time. So who from the opposition ‘owns’ Gua Musang?
Why, PAS, of course. PAS 'owns' the Gua Musang parliamentary seat because it has always contested that seat and lost each time.
Okay, what if PKR or DAP has a good candidate to face Ku Li in Gua Musang and probably could even win? No way! Gua Musang 'belongs' to PAS so only PAS can contest that seat even if they do not have a good candidate who can give Ku Li a run for his money.
Now, Gua Musang is just an example, although it may not be the best example, to help you understand the issue about ‘seat ownership’.
What if there is another candidate who is not a member of PAS but a PKR/DAP member who is actually the best candidate for Gua Musang? Well, tough luck. Gua Musang 'belongs' to PAS and if this candidate is really very good then he or she can always contest that seat but will have to do so under the banner of PAS. There would be no way that PAS would ‘surrender’ Gua Musang to PKR/DAP even if there is a better chance that the opposition can win that seat if PKR/DAP contests it instead.
The opposition does not work on ‘winability’ (actually that word does not exist). It works on ‘traditionally’. Traditionally, which was the party that contested that seat in the last election (and lost)? That party would then ‘own’ that seat. Winability is not the issue.
The opposition has to discard the ‘Barisan Nasional formula’ of deciding which of their 14 parties contests which seat. That is Barisan Nasional’s formula. That is old politics (politik lama). We should look at politik baru (new politics). And it should be ‘winability’ and not ‘traditionally’ that we use to decide on which party contests which seat.
Another thing to note is: since there are three parties in the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat -- PKR, DAP and PAS -- then the seats are divided three ways (one-third to each party). So we use this ‘equal share’ calculation and then fight over which seats are yours and which are mine.
So, PKR, DAP and PAS each get roughly 74 parliament seats and 168 state seats (Sarawak excluded) to contest. Where these seats are is a second issue, which will be resolved after a great battle (and sometimes when they can’t be resolved there will be three- or four-corner fights like how history has proven).
But do PKR, DAP and PAS have enough candidates for all those seats they now ‘own’?
Apparently not! And that is why many have to contest two seats (both parliament and state as well) -- plus PKR, DAP and PAS are forced to pick lesser quality candidates of low capability, no integrity, and zero honesty.
PKR, DAP and PAS are greedy. They just focus on numbers (quantity). Quality is of no concern. The MCLM wants to engage Pakatan Rakyat and talk about quality candidates. Don’t just play the numbers game. Take only as many seats as you have candidates. And if you are short of candidates then hand the seat to one of the other parties, or let MCLM assist you in filling these seats with civil society candidates.
This has been done before since 1999, although not on a grand scale. Of course, in 1999 none of the civil society candidates won mainly because the time was too early and Malaysians were not ready for change yet. But the fact that the civil society candidates did not win in 1999 or 2004 is not because of the lack of quality of the candidates.
No, PKR, DAP or PAS need not ‘surrender’ or give up their seats. They can keep the seat. The civil society candidate will contest under the respective banner of the party that ‘owns’ that seat, like what happened in Johor where PAS fielded an Indian-Hindu woman lawyer (note: professional). And if PAS can accept not only a woman candidate, but also an Indian-Hindu on top of that, this means that PAS is not adverse to the idea of fielding non-party professionals as its candidate.
The final issue is about the eleventh hour decision on naming candidates, sometimes the morning of Nomination Day itself. This needs to change.
Let’s say the civil society movement wants to contest the Bentong seat. We will then have to work the ground early, maybe a few years before the election. But if suddenly on the morning of Nomination Day we are told that that seat will be given to us, we shall have to scramble to look for a candidate (if we can find one). And then that candidate will have to rush down to Bentong to file his or her nomination papers.
However, most likely not many voters in Bentong will know who this candidate is. And he or she has just a week to ten days to meet the voters and become known. How can seven or ten days be enough time?
Now, the reason given as to why the party does not want to announce too early their candidates is because, firstly, they want to avoid internal sabotage by their own party members, and, secondly, they want to make sure that Barisan Nasional will not buy over their candidate.
In other words, Pakatan Rakyat does not trust their own party members and they also don’t trust their own candidates. So they have to keep the names of the candidates a secret until the eve or the morning of Nomination Day.
What does this say about the opposition? This would mean the opposition is no different from Barisan Nasional who holds back announcing the names of their candidates for exactly the same reason.
If your members are committed to the cause there should be no issue of internal sabotage. And if your candidates are people of integrity, you should not be worried about them being bought over by the other side. It appears, however, that this is not so.
This is even more the reason why the opposition should revamp its criteria of how candidates are chosen (and also how seats are decided). Months back the MCLM (which was then still only in the pipeline) already started identifying suitable candidates and started talking to them. Many, of course, said they want to wait and see first as to whether the idea is acceptable to the opposition. The last thing on their minds is to enter the fray in three-corner fights with Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.
We are not worried about announcing their names too early. After all, if Barisan Nasional wants to ‘steal’ them then better they do it now and not after they win the election (not that I think they can be bought).
And -- as has been proven over the last two years -- even if you announce the names of your candidates late this does not mean they will not be bought, like what happened to about ten or so Pakatan Rakyat candidates who have since jumped to the other side.
The voters need to know whom they are going to be voting for. It is okay if the candidate is a high-profile figure like Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang, Anwar Ibrahim, Nurul Izzah, Hadi Awang, Mat Sabu, Hannah Yeoh, etc. But what if it is someone you have never heard of before? Don’t you want to know whether he or she is suited for the job of wakil rakyat?
And that is why the prospective candidate needs to work the ground early, move around the constituency, meet the voters, talk to them, discuss issues, answer questions, do some community work (even though he or she is not the local wakil rakyat), and much more.
And this can only be done if, today, we know who will be contesting that constituency in the next general election, whenever that may be.
These Chinese with immigrants’ mentality refuse to acknowledge that Malaysian history doesn’t start from Malaya but it started way back from Tanah Melayu and beyond. Malays have been here since God created the Malay race, and that was how this land was called Tanah Melayu.
The Fall of Malacca was caused by the ungrateful Chinese: Soi Lek's hopeless attempt to manipulate history
By Terrence Fernandez, Malaysia Instinct
We are not at all surprised when DAP starts questioning the decision to make History a core subject and a must pass for SPM. “Why brought the matter in the UMNO Assembly?” So they asked. Well, why not?
DAP is the only political party in the world who would go to the extent of trying to change the history in their quest to justify their lust and greed to dominate and conquer.
They have been pushing the Malaysians to believe that communists too, were the heroes who fight for Independence. Not mentioning how fighting for Independence would mean killing our very own soldiers and civilians.
Denying history is such a ridiculous thing to do. Trying to change the facts of what happened is a dirty way of fighting. If DAP wants to fight for power, at least do it gentlemanly.
But we already know who DAP is – hopeless racists. What we are questioning here is who Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek really is.
Soi Lek went against the PM’s order to stop questioning the Malay Rights almost as immediately as the announcement was made. Soi Lek told the reporters that the issue of Malay Rights will still be discussed in closed doors.
When the Education Ministry announced the move to make history a compulsory for SPM, Soi Lek again voiced out his ‘concern’ that History textbooks tend to predominantly favour a particular race and religious civilization.
And by mentioning ‘race and religion’, we know for a fact that Soi Lek is referring to the Malays and Islam.
It doesn’t make any sense when Soi Lek said that the subject should be reviewed to make it racially fair.
How could history record be unfair? History is history and it is recorded as it is.
Naturally, Malays and Islam are dominantly recorded in history of this country because Malays are the original settlers and Islam has been their religion ever since Parameswara converted to Islam in the 15th centuries or even earlier in 1326 when Batu Bersurat Terengganu was written.
Soi Lek is a typical example of ‘immigrants’ mentality of the Malaysian Chinese but yet insists that he is a loyal citizen.
These Chinese with immigrants’ mentality refuse to acknowledge that Malaysian history doesn’t start from Malaya but it started way back from Tanah Melayu and beyond. Malays have been here since God created the Malay race, and that was how this land was called Tanah Melayu.
It’s the word ‘Melayu’ or ‘Malay-land’ is what bothers these Chinese so much, am I right, Soi Lek? You are a racist, aren’t you? Just like DAP, huh?
If race is all that matters to Soi Lek and DAP, I would like to urge them to read this part of the history of our country:
According to Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al-mondo (Report on the first voyage around the world) written by Antonio Pigafetta, when the Portugese first attacked Malacca, there were 20,000 Malaccan soldiers which include mercenaries from Java, Persian and other Islamic countries. There were 3,000 artilleries and 20 elephants plus Turkish made guns and explosive weapons. Needless to say that it was quite an equal fight in terms of weaponology.
Malacca was only defeated by Alburquerque when five Chinese ‘jongs’ (ships) and a few others owned by Indian traders teamed up with Portugese. The Chinese traders were the ones leaking information to the Portugese on Mallaca’s strength and weaknesses. They were also the ones telling the Portugese to hijack the food supplies from Java and that all the supply was stored in the middle of the city.
Alburquerque then borrowed a number of ships from the Chinese traders and gave them an exclusive place on the galleon to watch the whole war.
In actual, there are many more historical facts that are not exposed just to avoid hurting the good and the loyal Malaysian Chinese. The history of the Chinese betrayal, did not end in Malacca.
The Chinese were known to be gangsters and cruel to the locals. History was also not recorded correctly when Yap Ah Loy was said to have opened Kuala Lumpur, whereby the city was actually founded much earlier by the Malays.
There, that’s a fair mentioned of race ‘contribution’ in the country’s history for Soi Lek’s information. Obviously, somehow, somewhere, Soi Lek had missed this part of the history lesson in school.
Ministry of Education must emphasize this part of the history just to ensure that all races are equally mentioned in the reviewed textbooks.
Being tolerant people, we have always honoured the Chinese who had fought for the country including the Perak Ex-Police Chief who was killed by the communists and so were the Chinese Special Branch officers and others who were responsible for the success of overcoming communist activities and organized crimes.
These heroes were never left out in the country’s historical record.
As for DAP, I doubt they learn anything significant about this country’s history in the vernacular schools. If I’m not mistaken, history subject in Chinese schools emphasize more on Mao Tze Tung rather than Parameswara.
Now, this is why the announcement of making history a core subject was made in an UMNO Assembly.
Appendix A of the report on the Constitutional Conference held in London from January-February 1956 shows that it was attended by the Alliance government of Malaya and not Umno. Also in attendance were representatives of the British government and the Malay Rulers of Malaya.
Last Monday, RPK wrote in MToday that he had, in 2004, “attended the inaugural meeting of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Society (MCLS)…That was six years ago and after six years nothing further has happened. This is because the MCLS is still awaiting the approval of its registration”.
I, too, was at that inaugural meeting and to this day I remain a protem committee of the MCLS that awaits registration.
I have given up waiting on the registrar of societies.
I was therefore excited to read in RPK’s posting that this coming Saturday, 30th October, he will cause to be registered in the UK the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement.
It’s objectives, as disclosed by RPK in his post, are :
to ‘offer’ non-political party candidates from amongst the Malaysian professionals/lawyers and the civil society movements to ALL the political parties contesting the general election that may either be short of candidates or are not able to find ‘quality’ candidates to field in the elections
In a post entitled ‘Why the mad scramble’ yesterday, RPK disclosed that the immediate focus of the MCLM is to engage the 3 Pakatan Rakyat parties in dialogues to try to convince them to change their system of candidate selection in the general and by-elections.This, RPK elaborates today in his ‘When you don’t trust your own people’ post, spotlighting two issues : first, which party gets to contest which seat and, second, the practice by political parties of naming candidates at the eleventh hour.
In three posts, RPK has summed up the concerns of so many of us about what is believed to be an imminent 13th GE that offers an opportunity displace BN from federal governance, and an opposition that does not look quite so ready to go to war and despatch BN to the Indian Ocean.
I received an e-mail last Monday inquiring if I would be willing to serve as the interim spokesperson for MCLM until this Saturday when they will officially appoint office bearers.
I replied in the affirmative, subject to getting clarification on one point. The first objective talks about making available civil society candidates to ALL parties. Did that include BN?
The reply I got was reassuring.
All non-BN parties.
I agreed to that request, for one reason only.
If you compare the objects of MCLM as disclosed by RPK with the much discussed Third Force, I think you will find little difference between the two.
Before I go any further, I want to observe and acknowledge here that many have expressed concerns and reservations about the ‘Third Force’ that has been mooted by many, myself included.
The concern has principally been about this ‘Third Force’ forcing three-corner fights in the 13th GE.
Maybe the very name, ‘Third Force’ conjures in the minds of many civil society forcing three-corner fights in the 13th GE, although I have in many posts emphasised that this is not the case.
Let me say it clearly now that that which I have been speaking of as the ‘Third Force’ is no different from the initiative and objectives that RPK now moots through the MCLM.
However, to placate the many concerned out there, let’s stop calling it the Third Force.
Let’s call it ‘Inisiatif Rakyat’ or simply IR.
Or any other name that any of you would care to suggest.
I agreed to serve as interim spokesperson in the hope that, in that capacity, I could try to get MCLM to serve as the platform by which we push forth IR or whatever name you want to call it, to make ready for the 13th GE.
Should we try?
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.
by Dr Lim Teck Ghee, Dr Mavis Puthucheary, Dr Azmi Sharom, Dr Toh Kin Woon and Dr Wan Zawawi Ibrahim
We would like to provide some feedback to the speech made by Prime Minister Najib Razak on 21 October 2010 to the Umno general assembly in which he gave the impression that there is a ‘social contract’ whose terms are set in stone. He also told the delegates that no Malaysian should question it.
It is necessary to note that there is a range of views amongst us on the social contract issue and on how to respond to the Prime Minister’s advice.
One colleague has argued that it is not yet time for an “organized effort” of civil society to make such a statement as it may provoke negative reactions that may be harmful to our common pursuit of a fair and united nation.
Another has expressed concern that we must not play into the hands of politicians who will mobilize Malay support by trying to show that the non-Malays have reneged on their so-called promise to accept Malay political superiority in exchange for citizenship.
A third colleague has noted that there is really no need to contest what is ‘written’ in the social contract. Rather, we should question where a copy of the social contract is to be found so we can verify and discuss its contents and meaning.
Despite our different points of view, we are in agreement on three key points.
* It is important for Malaysians not to be gagged into silence on what is perhaps the most contentious issue standing in the way of better inter-communal relations in the country. The quicker we can
reach consensus on what the social contract means — not only in terms of what was agreed by the nation’s early leaders in the past but also, more importantly, on how this agreement should be understood by Malaysians today — the less divided and more hopeful will be our future.
* For us to reach this consensus, it is important to have the facts on what took place during that critical period of our history fully disclosed and available for public discussion. In particular, we will need to have the relevant reports of the Reid Commission so that Malaysians have the opportunity to read and understand the logic and wisdom of our early leaders and do not have to depend on politically skewed interpretations of what is supposed to comprise any agreement or social contract for that period.
* At the same time it is necessary for constitutional and legal experts, historians and other scholars to lend their expertise to the public understanding. Professional organizations such as the Bar Council, the Malaysian Social Science Association, and other bodies should organize talks, seminars and forums to ensure that the best minds on the subject can have their opinions disseminated to the public.
We believe that the Malaysian public has reached a level of political maturity so that we can have a rational and public debate on the way forward in terms of any inter-communal accord or understanding arrived at, and on what needs to be honoured and respected. For that reason, we are opposed to the position of Umno and MCA which is tantamount to decreeing a ban on public discussion of the issue.
The danger is that in not debating the issue openly — which is what the two main BN parties seem to be driving at — there is a real danger not only of driving that debate underground but also of reinforcing or entrenching ethnocentric interpretations that do not reflect the true intent of the constitutional agreement reached more than 50 years ago.
* Issued and signed by Dr Lim Teck Ghee, Dr Mavis Puthucheary, Dr Azmi Sharom, Dr Toh Kin Woon and Dr Wan Zawawi Ibrahim.