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Monday, November 1, 2010

Yemen frees parcel bomb suspect

Yemen has freed a woman suspected of mailing two parcel bombs destined for the US, saying she has been a victim of identity theft.

"Authorities concluded that this was a case of stolen identity by an individual who knew the detained suspect's full name, address and telephone number," a Yemeni official said on Sunday.

Hanan al-Samawi, a 22-year-old student, had been detained a day earlier after she was tracked down through a telephone number left with a cargo company.

But when the shipping agent was called in to identify her, he said she was not the right person. Al-Samawi is now on bail, along with her mother who was also detained.

"Thank god she's been released. The problem is over. The truth is revealed," Mohamed al-Samawi, Hanan's father, said.

The packages, found at a UK airport and in a cargo terminal in Dubai on Friday, were addressed to Jewish synagogues in Chicago.

Theresa May, the British home secretary, said the bomb discovered on the plane that landed in the UK was powerful enough to bring down the aircraft.

A US official and a British security consultant said the device, hidden in a printer cartridge, was sophisticated enough that it nearly slipped past British investigators even after they were tipped off.

Saudi suspect

A US official said Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a Saudi bombmaker believed to be working with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is now a key suspect in the plot.

Al-Asiri, who tops a Saudi Arabian terrorism wanted list, is the brother of a suicide bomber killed last year in a bid to assassinate Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi counterterrorism chief.

The latest bomb plot, as well as the failed attack on a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, involved the use of pentaerythritol trinitrate (PETN), a highly potent explosive which is difficult to detect in security screenings.

At least one of the packages sent from Yemen contained PETN.

"The individual who has been making these bombs ... is a very dangerous individual, clearly somebody who has a fair amount of training and experience," John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, told ABC News.

"We need to find him. We need to bring him to justice as soon as we can."

Brennan also said evidence suggested the same person constructed the Yemen parcel bombs and the device worn by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who attempted to ignite a bomb in the Christmas Day attack.

Yemeni security officials said they are searching for al-Asiri, who is believed to be in Marib province.

Al-Qaeda's Saudi and Yemeni branches merged in January 2009 to form Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula under the leadership of Nasser al-Wahishi, a former aide to Osama bin Laden who staged a dramatic jail break from a Yemeni prison with 22 others in 2006.

In the past year, the organisation has emerged as "one of the most dangerous branches of al-Qaeda", according to a US assessment.

The organisation calls for the overthrow of the Saudi and Yemeni governments and has carried out a string of brazen attacks against local security forces.

Although the number of hard core al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen is only believed to number in the low hundreds, they are aided by sympathetic local tribes who see the central government as corrupt and oppressive.

Cargo concerns

The latest bomb plot has put the security of air cargo in the spotlight. The industry is worth about $100bn globally and the freight company UPS alone is shipping 15 million parcels every day.

Al Jazeera's Dan Nolan, reporting from Dubai, said that only about 15 or 20 per cent of all cargo is ever screened.

"But the biggest concern out of this latest plot is that even if all that cargo is screened, it would appear that none of the technology available is actually capable of picking up this PETN," he said.

"It's going to take some kind of new and very expensive technology to be able to track this stuff down and obviously there is going to be huge ramifications for the cargo industry as to how they are going to put that into place and how quickly they can do it."
Al Jazeera and agencies

Indonesian volcano upsets camps

Indonesia's Mount Merapi has erupted again, causing panic in relief camps at the foot of the volcano.

Thirty-eight people have been killed since the volcano began erupting last Tuesday, but there were no deaths reported in the eruption on Monday, Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen reported.

Almost all villagers living along Mount Merapi's rumbling slopes have been evacuated, some forcibly by troops, though many have insisted on returning to their homes.

In light of the latest eruption, authorities are now relocating refugee camps judged to be too close to the volcano's peak. Some of the camps are just 10km below the summit.

"They're moving them down, just to be on the safe side," our correspondent said.

Cities at the foot of the volatile volcano have been covered in clouds of ash, prompting fears that this eruption could be just as fatal as the previous explosions.

The latest eruption has so far reached heights of 5km, less than the high from last week of 7.5km.

Shortage of shelters

The eruption comes as the temporary shelters on the slopes of Mount Merapi are already strained for resources.

Universities located near the volcano have been transformed into ad-hoc evacuation barracks to help house some of the villagers who have fled their homes.

The government has provided 99 shelters, according to the National Disaster and Mitigation agency, but it is not enough for the more than 65,000 evacuees.

Food is provided for the evacuees but many say that better sanitation and more supplies are needed, such as baby food.

"I went to two shelters provided by the government. They were full, so I came and stayed here," Maryoto, a volcano evacuee, told the Reuters news agency.

"It is a very difficult situation for us. I wish the government would pay more attention to us. Provide a proper shelter and food for us," he said.

Surono, Indonesia's volcanology chief, said Merapi will continue to erupt for the coming days, which should release the accumulated materials and lead to a calmer phase.

Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

Uthayakumar on LittleIndia

Umno’s Azhar suspended six months over May 13 remarks

Azhar had suggested the army to assume the police force’s duties. — Reuters pic

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 1 — Penang Opposition Leader Datuk Azhar Ibrahim was today suspended for six months from the state assembly after he refused to retract allegedly seditious remarks made at a legislative sitting earlier this year.

The Umno assemblyman’s suspension also sparked a walkout by his Barisan Nasional (BN) colleagues from the state legislature.

Azhar, who is Penaga assemblyman, had been accused of uttering apparently seditious words and issuing “May 13” threats during a speech to the assembly by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on May 7.

He had warned of May 13 racial riots and suggested the army take over the functions of the police if the latter had lost the confidence of the people.

The Umno man was referred to the assembly’s rights and privileges committee after a motion tabled by Jagdeep Singh Deo (DAP-Datuk Keramat).

Batu Sapi voters trapped in a 'Catch-22'

By Michael Kaung - Free Malaysia Today

SANDAKAN: As the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-elections campaign blitz goes into overdrive three days before polling day, voters here find themselves trapped in a time-warped cycle of promises and disappointment.

For some casting their ballot for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government will not be easy but their hands are tied.

The BN sees a potential of up to 6,500 voters in the bag already. It will come from the 1,500-odd postal votes from navy and military personnel plus 5,000 or so from migrants from neighbouring countries who have secured citizenship and suffrage, but are living outside the constituency.

The BN election machinery is said to have located and factored in about 3,000 of these “new” voters to predict a win on Nov 4 polling day.

"The BN is now looking for the remaining 2,000 who are on the electoral rolls," said a political analyst here who wished to remain anonymous.

Despite “gains” by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), BN is confident of winning over the solidly Muslim Bumiputera voting bloc.

These are the Suluk, Bajau, Orang Sungai, Bugis, and Brunei Malay. Most are poor fishermen living along the coast and on the islands (between 20 minutes and a hour by boat) off Sandakan. Together they make up 60% of the Batu Sapi electorate.

"Umno is depending on getting 60% of this total vote," said a political party worker.

"If the party can get that plus 20% of the Chinese vote, then it believes the BN will win by a 5,000- vote majority," he said.

BN using DAP
The DAP, which is campaigning for PKR candidate Ansari Abdullah, can ruin SAPP candidate Yong Teck Lee's increasingly possible chances of an upset win.

"BN's aim is to use DAP to split the Chinese vote that may go to SAPP. DAP claims it can deliver about 2,000 Chinese votes to PKR,” said the party worker.

The PKR camp, meanwhile, believes that its candidate stands a good chance if it can get 40% of the Bumiputera and about 20% of the Chinese vote

According to sources, Yong, who has up to 80% of the Chinese vote with his “Sabah for Sabahans” campaign drumbeat, is looking to get at least 20% of the Bumiputera vote through Nahalan Damsal (a former state minister and ex-PKR Batu Sapi chief, who has voiced his support for Yong rather than for Ansari).

Nahalan still commands respect in Sekong, one of the two state constituencies that make up Batu Sapi. Though defeated, he garnered 2,082 votes when he went up against current Sekong Assemblyman Samsuddin Yahya in the last general election.

SAPP's concern is the whispering campaign by the DAP that Yong will take the party back into the BN after he wins.

The allegation can inflict enormous damage on Yong's chances and he has strongly criticised DAP Sabah for sabotaging a fellow opposition party.

"The BN wants the Chinese votes split three ways and is hoping DAP will do the job," said a political analyst.

"As it is, BN can get about 1,000-plus Chinese votes. If the Barisan can get 2,000, it will be very good."

The BN election machinery is expected to pour in funds this week.

Angry voters

BN leaders have started delivering the “good news” by announcing new bridges, roads, walkways in the water villages, houses for the poor, extension of land titles and bringing into line prices of foodstuff in rural areas, which are higher than in the towns due to transport costs.

They have started distributing money to independent Chinese schools and mosques as well as announced the construction of a grand new mosque for the constituency.

But whether this will be enough to soothe the palpable anger of the voters is left to be seen.

Many have openly criticised the BN for "promising everything including the moon but delivering nothing”, said a taxi driver who asked not to be named.

Their anger was glaringly demonstrated when Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin attended a town hall dinner for Chinese associations.

Muhyiddin, who arrived late at the packed hall, gave a speech to a half empty hall as most of the people who came left soon after dinner.
BN followers were quick to downplay the embarrassing incident, saying that it was normal as the attendees did not want to stay up late.

However, others say that it clearly showed how Sabah Chinese viewed Umno and Muhyiddin over various racially tinged statements made by him and party officials in Kuala Lumpur.

On the other side of the divide, both opposition parties are feeling jittery over talk that some voters may cast their ballots numerous times at different polling stations.

Getting transport to the polling stations will also be a factor.

The BN is far superior when it comes to logistics but will not pick up voters who have been identified with the opposition.

The identification can be done based on a scrutiny of the voting streams in the last election.

Internal sabotage

What BN fears the most is internal sabotage by rival groups within Umno which cannot see eye-to-eye with Chief Minister Musa Aman and Samsudin.

Within PKR, Ansari's candidacy has not gone down well. He is not accepted in all areas. He is banking on supporters, including de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar to bring in the votes.

Yong, on the other hand, is making a big impact on his own with his quick thinking, wit and ready smile. His argument that Sabah must regain its autonomous powers has also gone down well.

The party of BN candidate Linda Tsen, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), has virtually surrendered the BN election campaign to Umno and is just making up the numbers.

Influential locals like Karim Ghani, a veteran politician, and retired state education department director Hasbullah Taha have been making the rounds to get disgruntled former members of the now defunct United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) to vote for Ansari.

The PKR campaign, however, shot itself in the foot when its Batu Sapi division chief, Hassnar Ibrahim, ordered seasoned campaigners like Jeffrey Kitingan, Christina Liew, Sabah PKR chief Ahmad Thamrin Jaini, and Awang Tengah Awang Amin not to come to Batu Sapi.

In doing so, Hassnar, who is known to be quite pugnacious and physical in his approach to politics, has also alienated a vast number of PKR sympathisers in the constituency.

Supporters of Thamrin, who had expected their man to be selected as the PKR candidate as he is from Sandakan, are dissatisfied and are being kept away from a lot of functions.

Like the BN, PKR is also concerned over internal sabotage on polling day.

Unkept promises

Cash is expected to start flowing into the constituency for distribution to key BN allies from tomorrow to take the edge off the complaint heard everywhere that Umno and BN leaders have “not kept their promises”.

One voter complained that Samsudin and Musa's people have cornered all the contracts, including the Sandakan Municipal Council contracts.

Tsen's late husband, Edmund Chong, whose death in a road accident on Oct 9 triggered the by-election, was known as a “weekend MP”.

Some islanders living off the coast of Batu Sapi claimed he promised them solar-cell powered lights and they were thrilled when one was put up at a jetty on one of the islands.

"They thought more would be put up for their house lighting but when none came, they said that the first one was only there for him to come fishing in the night," said a local.

"These are promises made 13 to 15 years ago. There is still no running water and electricity in many of these villages. They save rain water or bring drinking water from the town."

The Suluks and Bajaus living on these islands are not newcomers. They have been there since colonial times.

"The newcomers stay on the mainland near the town," explained a local.

While people have rallied to SAPP's election slogan "Sabah for Sabahans", the party's main problem has to do with trust.

Voters are wary of SAPP's history in the BN and are not sure which way Yong will move if he is elected.

Money laundering

Other dirt is also coming to the surface. On Saturday, PKR lodged a police report against Musa over allegations of money laundering.

The issues raised against Yong are his involvement in the Sabah Trust Fund fiasco and the Forest Management Units.

PBS is non-existent in the campaign. Gerakan has more campaign flags than supporters while the Liberal Democratic Party has been unable to convince the Chinese voters why they should support Musa who has been dismissed as the "vacuum cleaner".

"Umno people know the Muslim Bumiputeras are really frustrated but believe that handouts and the 'new voters' will make the difference.

"The new voters will cast their ballots for the BN… they have no choice," said a political observer.

But while BN may have the advantage heading into polling day on Thursday, things will not look so cosy after the dust has settled in Batu Sapi.

"The next general election they (the people in Batu Sapi) will boot out BN. People know what happened during the March 2008 election. They will do the same here... no chance for them," said a taxi driver taking a passenger to Sandakan airport for a flight back to Kota Kinabalu.

PAS orders civilian arrest of vote buyers and lie peddlars

By FMT Staff

GUA MUSANG: With three days to go before the Galas by-election, PAS is tightening its campaign machinery to thwart what it believes is Umno’s last-minute strategy — a cash-for-vote campaign.

Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah, PAS’s operations advisor for the by-election, said the party expected the bribing to begin today.

He issued a directive to his security officers yesterday that gave “signs to look out for”.

"We have directed all security teams at voting centres to take stern action against efforts to spread deceit and money,” he told newsmen.

"Whoever is caught spreading lies or attempting to bribe voters in these areas will have to face PAS security teams, who have been trained and tasked to carry out civilian arrests."

PAS would refer arrested individuals to higher authorities, he added.

Wan Abdul Rahim, who is the MP for Kota Baru, said PAS decided on the strategy after receiving "early information from reliable sources” about the vote-buying strategy, especially in the Sungai Terah area.

The bribe would be in the form of cash gifts of RM1,000 and television sets, he said.

Sungai Terah is the epicentre of the war between BN and PAS. In the last general election, it gave 500 votes towards the PAS’s victory in Galas. Che Hashim Sulaima beat BN candidate Mohamad Saufi Deraman by 646 votes.

Che Hashim died on Sept 27. This Thursday, PAS’s Dr Zulkefli Mohamad will face Umno’s Abdul Aziz Yusoff.

Eyeing the Malay voters

As campaigning moves into the sixth day, both sides are focussing on the Malay votes, which are said to be split down the middle between the two contenders.

"Both sides will be focussing on the Sungai Terah balloting area,” Wan Abdul Rahim said. “In the 2008 general election, PAS received 69 percent of the votes there.

"BN believes that if they can liquidate PAS support in this area, then victory is theirs. It will be a tight fight in Sungai Terah."

He said PAS was confident of retaining Orang Asli support and increasing Chinese support.

The Galas state constituency has 1,889 Orang Asli voters in five settlements — Pos Balar, Pos Hendrop, Pos Bihai, Pos Hau and Pos Brooke.

Since the 2004 general election, the Orang Asli, especially the young, have been showing open support for PAS.

After 2008, observers note a similar trend among the Chinese, who were BN faithfuls before. Galas has the most number of Chinese after Kota Lama, another state seat.

The focus of MCA and Gerakan in the next few days will be to reel in at least 50% of the 2,317 Chinese votes.

PKR polls: Official tally puts Azmin ahead of Zaid, Mustaffa

By Fazy Sahir and Rahmah Ghazali - Free Malaysia Today

FULL REPORT PETALING JAYA: PKR has reversed its earlier calculation of votes and announced that deputy president aspirant Azmin Ali was officially leading the race by more than 500 votes at the end of the first round of polls over the weekend.

Azmin, largely seen as party de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim's annointed successor, has garnerd 3,051 votes, as opposed to Zaid Ibrahim's 2,529 votes.

The third contender, Mustaffa Kamil Ayub, managed to gain 1,149 votes.

These figures were released by PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail during a press conference at the party headquarters today.

Earlier today, PKR deputy secretary-general Sharifah Shahidah had tweeted that Zaid had grabbed an unexpected lead in the first round of the party polls.

According to her, Zaid was leading Azmin by 632 votes. She added that Zaid had bagged 3,683 votes against Azmin's 3,051 and Mustaffa was third with 1,271 votes.
The race for vice-president
Meanwhile, in the race for the vice-presidents' slot, PKR strategy director and Batu MP Tian Chua is leading the pack with 3,621 votes. He is being closely trailed by Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar with 3,543 votes.

Two other favourite candidates for vice-presidents' posts are party elections director and Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh and Mansor Othman who have garnered 2,895 and 2,852 votes respectively.

For supreme council posts, incumbent Badrul Amin Bahron is comfortably leading a long list of candidates with 3,087 votes. He is followed by Selangor state executive councillor and Bukit Lanjan assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong with 2,582 votes.

Also in the top bracket is Sungai Petani MP Johari Abdul with 2,572 votes. Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian is the candidate with the lowest number of votes for the supreme council post with 2,174 votes.
Tough fight for youth seat
Meanwhile, incumbent women's wing chief and Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin is in a comfort lead over her challengers Animah Ferrer and Suraya Sudin. Zuraida gained 1,160 votes while Animah took in 408 and Suraya, 403 votes.

The fight for women's wing deputy post saw Batu Tiga assemblyman and Selangor state executive councillor Roziah Ismail leading big over her rival Asmah Abdul Kadir. After the first round of polls, Roziah has won 1,400 votes while Asmah has managed only 414 votes.
The contest for the youth's top post promises to be an intense affair with incumbent Shamsul Iskandar trailing challenger Badrul Hisham Shaharin. Shamsul has bagged 1,029 votes while his rival has gained 1,133 votes.

However there is no such problem for the incumbent deputy chief of the youth wing, Khairul Anuar Zainuddin, who has garnered 1,214 votes to leave behind challenger Teja assemblyman Chang Lih Kang who could muster only 833 votes.

Recount after 'protest'

Amid the glaring differences in the vote-tally as released earlier today, party secretary-general Saifuddin said there was a recount following the initial announcement of results by Shahidah. He also blamed it on 'human error'.

He said the recount was made following protests made by supporters from both Zaid's and Azmin's camp.
Saifuddin also said that only nine percent of the total 400,000 PKR members cast their ballots over the weekend.

He said the lower turnout could be due to the party's concentration on the Galas and Batu Sapi by-elections, slated for Nov 4.

Other reasons, according to him, could be the lack of avenues for the party to inform its members on the polling and also the Malaysia Cup football match between Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan.

“With the Home Ministry's ban on our official mouthpiece Suara Keadilan, we are unable to inform our members of the party elections," he said.

PKR elections officer Radin Shamsul Kamar Radin Shamsudin told FMT that the human error was due to staff shortage.

"Only three officers were at hand to count the votes from all the divisions and they were under pressure," he said.

Over the weekend, as many as 68 divisions from Kelantan, Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Pahang, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan had gone to the polls. The second round of voting will take place this weekend

Is Zaid a Friend or Foe of PKR?

If what Raja Petra said is true then Zaid is the kind of man that PKR needed. The ‘Azmin cartel’ is hinting that Zaid might be the Trojan horse Anwar was referring to in his statement. It doesn’t help when Zaid on October 5 in a press statement had chosen to ignore Anwar’s warning to bypass Umno-owned media.

Malaysian Digest

In the wake of PKR party election this month, Opposition leader Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a press statement in September said, “… the criticism that there is an emergence of “Umno culture” in the campaign for party positions is unfounded. At the same time, we cannot rule out entirely the possibility of Trojan horses having found their way in.” In the same month, PKR Supreme Council member, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim made an announcement on his decision to contest for the deputy president’s post in the coming party elections. Several days later, in a press conference, a group of PKR MPs announced their endorsement for Azmin Ali on his candidacy for the number two post.
Considering the timing of the press conference, I wonder if Azmin’s camp was rattled by the prospect of supreme council member Zaid Ibrahim entering the race for the coveted number 2 post left vacant by Syed Husin Ali. Azmin, who is a close associate of PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim, was always said to be uncomfortable with Zaid’s presence and meteoric rise. Meanwhile, Zaid himself indicated in his blog that certain forces were at work to undermine him. Zaid said when he joined the opposition party a year ago, he was hailed as a hero, but now he was being branded as an Umno agent on a mission to destroy PKR. He also revealed that his rivals had paid a popular blogger to tarnish his name.

“The blogger was asked to write that I will pay RM20,000 to the branch that nominates me, and that I was tasked by (former finance minister) Daim Zainuddin to destroy PKR,” Zaid said.

“My loyalty has been questioned, but loyalty to whom? Perhaps, I am not loyal to the party’s cause or to the highest leadership, I don’t know. Perhaps these MPs will come forward and explain why my nomination will not be supported at their press conferences to show support for the great Anwar-Azmin combination,” he added.

But the puzzling fact is that on October 7, Zaid dropped a bombshell by making an announcement that he will back out of the deputy president's race if Nurul Izzah Anwar contests for the post. The big question is how ambitious is Zaid really and why did he made such announcement?

Zaid resigned from his minister’s post in September 2008, in protest against the use of the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) to detain blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng. He was sacked from Umno in December 2008 after he was spotted with opposition members on more than one occasion and joined PKR in June 2009. Raja Petra in his blog stated that he once told Zaid a long time ago not to join PKR. This was when he was still in Umno and not yet made into a cabinet minister.

According to Raja Petra, PKR is not suitable for a person like Zaid. He is too ‘independent’ and does not have the ‘discipline to kowtow’ to what he does not believe in. The former fugitive had also said that Zaid will not be able to tolerate the nonsense in PKR and even described the latter as a “loose cannon” that will always shoot at anything that moves regardless to whether he is a friend or foe.

If what Raja Petra said is true then Zaid is the kind of man that PKR needed. The ‘Azmin cartel’ is hinting that Zaid might be the Trojan horse Anwar was referring to in his statement. It doesn’t help when Zaid on October 5 in a press statement had chosen to ignore Anwar’s warning to bypass Umno-owned media. He reportedly said that he would not “boycott” any media seen to be attacking the party or its coalition Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) leadership. This is the second time Anwar has chastised Zaid’s campaign indirectly after refuting Zaid’s claim that an “Umno culture” was emerging in the party and warning PKR members of possible “Trojan horses” within the party.

Recently, two PKR leaders have defended Zaid's right to speak up. They are Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishnan and former party vice president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan. Datuk Dr Jeffry Kitingan in a press conference was criticizing vice president Lee Boon Chye’s statement accusing Zaid of playing the victim to gain sympathy. According to Jeffrey, he has read the various interviews which Zaid had given to the media and found them to contain Zaid’s aspirations for the party and nothing else. In the interview Zaid also denied that he had undermined the party’s struggle, pointing out that the move to topple Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was a bigger sin, in an apparent reference to the attack against Khalid’s leadership last June that was said to have been mounted by supporters of Azmin.

Is it true that Zaid might be the Trojan Horse Anwar claimed to exist in PKR or is he really trying to improve PKR to become a better and a more transparent political party? As far as I’m concerned, from Raja Petra’s statement Zaid sounds like a breath of fresh air for the opposition movement. But we will only know after PKR members made their decision by the end of this month.

Malaysian blogger free but likely to remain in exile

Malaysian blogger free but likely to remain in exile

Malaysia's top blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, who fled the country after being held under security laws in 2008, is free to return after a detention order lapsed, his lawyer said Monday.

Malaysian blogger free but likely to remain in exile

However the founder of the popular Malaysia Today website, which has outraged top leaders with its stream of critical stories, is unlikely to leave his self-imposed exile in Britain for fear of fresh charges, he said.

"This order has lapsed but it does not stop the authorities from seeking my client's detention on other grounds should he return," said lawyer Jadadish Chandra.

"Raja Petra is in the UK at the moment and he is unlikely to return to Malaysia anytime soon," he told AFP.

Raja Petra was detained in September 2008 and held for 56 days under the Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

He was accused of writing articles that allegedly insulted Islam. But the blogger, himself a member of Malaysia's majority Muslim community, is best known for his political articles.

He was freed by the High Court in November 2008 after it ruled the government had acted outside its powers by ordering the two-year detention, but his future was cast into doubt when the decision was appealed.

"The order has been struck off by the court because the order was valid for only two years so now it has expired," Chandra said. "There was no new order issued."

Raja Petra had also been charged with sedition and defamation after linking Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife to the sensational 2006 murder of a Mongolian woman who was the lover of one of the premier's aides.

Those charges have been "discontinued" but could be revived, his lawyer said.

Raja Petra's detention caused a major stir because unlike the mainstream press, the web and online media in Malaysia have remained relatively free, despite occasional raids, bans and government criticism.

Major newspapers and broadcasters are closely linked with the ruling coalition, so the Internet has become a lively forum for dissent and debate.

The government in 1996 pledged to allow uncensored online content as part of a campaign to promote its information technology sector.

Tengku Razaleigh Refutes Allegation That He Played Out Orang Asli

GUA MUSANG, Nov 1 (Bernama) -- The Member of Parliament for Gua Musang, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah refuted the PAS allegation that he had played out the Orang Asli community by disposing off files containing their land applications when he took Semangat 46 out of the Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah to join Umno.

He said the allegation was totally untrue and the files mentioned actually did not exist.

"The allegation is not true...I am also puzzled why people representing an Islamic party would make such lies," he told reporters after meeting with Chinese voters in Kampung Sungai Buru, Tanah Putih, here Sunday night.

He said that there were many Orang Asli in Gua Musang at that time and some in Jeli, and he had been given the responsibility of looking after the welfare of the Orang Asli by the Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah which was then participated by PAS and Semangat 46.

However, he said matters concerning the welfare of the Orang Asli including the allocation of land had never been discussed at all by the highest committee of the coalition which also included the then PAS president, Ustaz Fadzil Noor and himself.

However, as a leader who is concerned about the welfare of the Orang Asli, he had asked the District Officer then to approve the allocation of land to the Orang Asli under the powers vested on the District Officer himself, said Tengku Razaleigh.

"Neither the Federal government nor I have the power over state government land. If they are dissatisfied because I had purportedly played out the Orang Asli, then the PAS government should give the land, but they are not doing it," he said.

Tengku Razaleigh said although the PAS party machinery appeared to be making personal attacks against him, he would not respond by doing the same thing although he had received negative information on the PAS candidate, Dr Zulkefli Mohamad, 44, who is also the PAS Gua Musang acting chairman.

"If PAS wants to make personal attacks, it's up to the party...they should bear (the sin). But we will continue explaining the government policy and what we will do for the benefit of the people.

The by-election for the Galas state constituency on Thursday will see a straight fight between Dr Zulkefli and the Barisan Nasional, represented by Abdul Aziz Yusof, 49, who is the Gua Musang Umno division secretary.

The by-election is being held following the death of the incumbent assemblyman, Chek Hashim Sulaima, from PAS, on Sept 27.

Perak records most cases of brutality against women and children

The Star

IPOH: Perak has the most cases of violence against women, children and even babies with 3,600 cases last year,

State Wanita Umno chief Datuk Rosnah Kassim said data compiled by the wing showed that 97% of the perpetrators were men.

“Something must be done to curb the increasing trend of cases in the state.

“Perak Wanita Umno has come up with a campaign to fight this and I believe this is the first such campaign in the country. We know that it is not easy to create awareness, but it is something that we have to start and do,” she told reporters after the launch of the Men Against Violence campaign by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir here yesterday.

According to Rosnah, the campaign would educate men that it was wrong to act violently towards those who were vulnerable.

“Previously, seminars and workshops on violence only involved women who were victims and not the men who were responsible for such acts.

“We feel that any anti-violence campaign will not be effective without the participation of men,” she said, adding that there should not be any gender biases when implementing such programmes.

Rosnah, who is also Hulu Kinta assemblyman, said the wing’s social secretariat would be setting up an action committee to formulate programmes under the campaign.

The action committee, she said, would work with non-governmental organisations to conduct awareness programmes for Form 5 and Form 6 students throughout the state.

“We must look ahead and launch an awareness programme involving the younger generation whose personalities are easier to mould,” she said.

Dr Zambry and his wife Datin Seri Saripah Zulkifli would be made the patron and adviser to the committee respectively.

KDN perlu tunjuk 'isyarat' jangan pertikai lagi Perlembagaan

Utusan Malaysia

Apabila Sultan Perak, Sultan Selangor, Sultan Johor dan beberapa Putera Raja-raja Melayu melahirkan kebimbangan terhadap usaha pihak tertentu membangkitkan isu kandungan Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan mempertikaikan kontrak sosial, sampai hari ini ia masih diperkatakan.

Baru-baru ini hasil Mesyuarat Majlis Raja- Raja kali ke-222 yang berlangsung di Istana Negara pada 13 dan 14 Oktober lalu, Raja-raja sepakat menyuarakan kebimbangan mereka.

Trend politik semasa di negara ini yang dilihat sedang meniup angin perkauman dan mencabar kedaulatan Perlembagaan negara amat-amat dipandang berat.

Kelmarin, Penyimpan Mohor Besar Raja- Raja, Engku Tan Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah dalam kenyataannya berkata Raja-Raja Melayu berpegang bahawa kontrak sosial yang telah dipersetujui ini merupakan watikah yang menjadi asas kepada keadilan sosial di negara ini yang merangkumi cita-cita bagi mencapai hasrat pembahagian ekonomi secara adil.

Sejak Mac 2008 lagi, akibat nafsu untuk berkuasa, perkara-perkara dalam kontrak sosial tiba-tiba dijadi modal politik untuk ditukar ganti. Jelas pemimpin-pemimpin yang membangkit perkara sensitif ini tidak peduli kefahaman rakyat yang selama lebih 50 tahun telah memahami dan menghayati sejarah pembentukan negara dan Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang diasaskan kepada kontrak sosial.

Tetapi sekelip mata mereka cuba mengapi-apikan rakyat supaya menyokong perjuangan mereka untuk berkuasa supaya dapat mengubah dan meminda kandungan Perlembagaan Persekutuan terutama mengenai perkara-perkara menyentuh agama Islam, kedudukan Raja-Raja Melayu, orang Melayu dan bahasa Melayu.

Sebagaimana telah ditegaskan oleh Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak ketika memberi ucapan dasar Presiden pada Perhimpunan Agung UMNO Ke-61 lalu, bahawa Perlembagaan Persekutuan tidak boleh dipinda sesuka hati tanpa mendapat perkenan Majlis Raja-raja.

Kini Majlis Raja-raja meluahkan rasa hati masing-masing akan perkembangan politik dalam negara yang dilihat amat membimbangkan.

Majlis Raja-raja juga memandang serius kewujudan jenayah yang dikategorikan sebagai jenayah berat, yang boleh mengancam keselamatan, ketenteraman dan imej negara.

Usaha Kerajaan Persekutuan untuk menyatupadukan rakyat berbilang kaum berlandaskan semangat yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan mungkin sia-sia jika peruntukan negara tidak dihormati.

Hakikatnya, pihak tertinggi pentadbiran negara iaitu Majlis Raja-raja sudah menyuarakan pandangan mereka. Perdana Menteri dan pemimpin Barisan Nasional juga sudah berpuluh kali diseru supaya mengambil tindakan serius terhadap penghasut ketenteraman negara.

Tidak sukar untuk mengenal pasti siapa yang memanaskan bara perkauman dan mempertikai Perlembagaan negara. Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) pasti tahu siapa mereka.

Kini hanya pihak berkuasa yang berada di bawah KDN perlu menunjukkan 'isyarat' kepada pihak tertentu supaya hentikan mainan api perkauman dan menyebar dakyah memburuk-burukkan Perlembagaan negara.

Tidak perlu kita mengajar apakah tindakan yang patut diambil ke atas individu yang cuba mempertikai dan menghina Perlembagaan apatah lagi kuasa Majlis Raja-raja.

Jangan biarkan api perkauman terus dibiar membara. Bertindaklah demi kesejahteraan negara dan rakyat sebelum nasi menjadi bubur.

Race relation law for Penang

The Sun
by Bernard Cheah

GEORGE TOWN (Oct 31, 2010): The state government hopes to table the Race Relation Bill next year to forge unity among the public and stop racists and extremists from destroying society.

"We cannot allow racists to run riot and make a ruckus in the state," Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

He said the state authorities would engage various quarters, including NGOs and the state legal advisor to see if the bill can be introduced at the state assembly when it meets next year.

"It is time for us to see each other not as Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban or Kadazan, but as Malaysians," he said. "We all face the same issues in the country."

Lim, who is also DAP Secretary General, said Bukit Gelugor MP and DAP Chairman Karpal Singh had proposed the idea in parliament in the past, but it was thrown out.

"If we cannot propose it at Federal Level,  we will study if it can be implemented at state level," he said at the Deepavali Open House held in Taman Tun Sardon today.

Also present were Karpal, Seri Delima assemblyman RSN Rayer, Batu Uban assemblyman S. Raveentharen and Datok Keramat assemblyman Jagdeep Singh Deo. About 300 people turned up at the open house, organised by the Lengkok Bawah Taman Tun Sardon Community Development and Security Committee. -- theSun

UMNO doesn’t want Indian votes

Bomb may have flown on passenger planes

A truck leaves the FedEx terminal in at the Dubai airport on Saturday.

A truck leaves the FedEx terminal in at the Dubai airport on Saturday.
(CNN) -- The explosive found hidden in a package on a plane in the United Arab Emirates on Friday may have traveled on passenger planes to get there, airline officials said Sunday.

The explosive, along with a similar device found in the United Kingdom, appear to have been designed to detonate on their own, without someone having to set them off, the top White House counterterrorism official told CNN.

"It is my understanding that these devices did not need somebody to detonate them," said John Brennan, President Barack Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism.

U.S. investigators believe al Qaeda bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, 28, is linked to that package and another one found on a second airplane in Britain's East Midlands Airport on Friday, a federal official, who was briefed by authorities, told CNN Sunday. Both packages were addressed to synagogues in Chicago, Illinois.

Al-Asiri, who is thought to be in Yemen, is a Saudi who was high on Saudi Arabia's list of most wanted published in February 2009. He is also believed to be the bomber who designed last year's failed Christmas Day underwear bomb.

Separately, an engineering student arrested in Yemen was released Sunday, along with her mother, according to her father, Mohammed Al-Samawi. She was earlier identified as Hanan Al-Samawi, a fifth-year student at Sanaa University in the Yemeni capital, said Abdul-Rahman Barman, a human rights attorney and activist who said he was asked to represent her.

A high-level source in the United Arab Emirates said Hanan Al-Samawi's name was found on the cargo manifest of the device found in Dubai.

Also arrested was her mother, Amatilullah Mohammed. Barman had said the mother's arrest was illegal and said holding the two in an undisclosed location was "a criminal act."

The explosive device found in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was contained in a Hewlett-Packard printer, and had a motherboard originating from a mobile phone, but did not have a SIM card in it, the high-level source told CNN.

The device was professionally assembled, the source said. The motherboard was connected by a striker to the printer head and then to the cartridge, which was filled with explosives.

Authorities have the serial number of the motherboard and the printer, and are searching to see where it was sold, how it was paid for and what information they can glean about the people who performed those transactions, according to the source.

Authorities believe an explosive device found at the United Kingdom's East Midlands airport flew from Yemen to a Persian Gulf state, then to Cologne, Germany, the official said. The device was then transferred onto a UPS plane.

Investigators are still attempting to retrace the route of the Dubai device, according to the high-level official. Some believe it went to Doha, Qatar, on Qatar Airways, where it spent the night before traveling to Dubai the following day. However, it does appear the devices did fly on commercial passenger planes, the high-level official said.

Screening the devices would have been difficult, since printers normally contain computer parts and wires, according to Richard Quest, CNN's aviation correspondent.

Qatar Airways, which said earlier Sunday that it had flown the device from Yemen to Dubai for FedEx, is no longer certain that is true, a senior airline source said. The airline is investigating the possibility that the explosives flew on another airline after finding inconsistencies in information it was given, the source said.

An airline spokesman said earlier that two Qatar Airways passenger planes had carried the package.

Emirates Airways, which also flies from Yemen to the United Arab Emirates, said as far as it is aware, it had not carried the package.

The package was being sent by FedEx, which uses other airlines to get parcels out of Yemen because it does not fly there itself.

The two devices found Friday look like they were put together by the same bomber who designed last year's failed Christmas Day underwear bomb, a U.S. government official told CNN.

"The thinking is it's the same person or group of people that built the underwear bomb, because of the way it's put together," said the official, who had been briefed by multiple U.S. authorities and law enforcement sources. "But this one is about four times as powerful."

American authorities are now endorsing British Prime Minister David Cameron's position that the explosives were designed to take down an airplane, the official said. However, a U.S. official said Sunday the United States has not drawn any conclusions on the intent of the bombs and whether they were intended to explode in flight, at the synagogues or somewhere else.

American and British authorities think al Qaeda's branch in Yemen is linked to the plot.

A key figure in the group is the American-born Yemeni militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whom U.S. authorities have linked to Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan and the man accused in the Christmas Day bomb attempt.

Brennan on Friday declined to name al-Awlaki specifically as a suspect.

"Anybody who's associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is a subject of concern," he said.

Yemen is investigating the shipping agency that sent the packages, its President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Saturday, based on information provided by the United States and United Kingdom, who in turn are getting tips from Saudi Arabia.

The United Kingdom is sending a security team to help with Yemen's investigation, Saleh said.

A specific explosive was found in both Friday's devices and in the foiled underwear bomb attempt in 2009, a source close to the investigation said.

It's a highly explosive organic compound called PETN, which belongs to the same chemical family as nitroglycerin, the source said. Six grams of PETN are enough to blow a hole in the fuselage of an aircraft.

PETN was allegedly one of the components of the bomb concealed by Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to set off a bomb hidden in his underwear aboard a Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit, Michigan, on December 25.

"The quantity of PETN in these [new] devices was about five times the volume used at Christmas" by AbdulMutallab, Col. Richard Kemp, the former chairman of the British government's Cobra Intelligence Group, told CNN affiliate ITN.

Yemen's president said his country is cooperating with the U.S., the U.K., and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is sending six inspectors to Yemen to help improve cargo security, an official with the agency said Sunday.

Over the past several months, Yemen, which wants to be seen as a committed partner in the fight against terrorism, has launched several offensives against al Qaeda in its country, but has not captured al-Awlaki.

"We acknowledge that we have a problem with terrorism, specifically the presence of al Qaeda, and we continue to pay a high price," Saleh said.

The Yemeni government imposed new security measures at local airports, the SABA news agency said Sunday.

Meanwhile, U.S. authorities were grateful for a tip from Yemen's oil-rich neighbor, Saudi Arabia, alerting them to the suspicious packages. Saudi officials provided tracking numbers of the two packages, enabling quick tracing to the United Kingdom and Dubai, a source told CNN.

CNN's Bharati Naik, Caroline Paterson, Jeanne Meserve, Mohammed Jamjoom, Susan Candiotti, Kathleen Johnston and Ross Levitt contributed to this report.

Malay-sian Police Special Branch in trail of Hindraf Chair P.Waytha Moorthy at Public Records office (UK National Archives‏)

12fdf0f87403c158876f4ade3375bed2The below photos were taken by well wishers of HINDRAF who are taking turns to keep Waytha Moorthy safe in London at the National Archives Kew London.

On 28th October the 1st Malay Special Branch officer was spotted loitering in the research areas in the archives spying on the research work on behalf of Hindraf carried out by Waytha Moorthy. The next day 29th October he came with a Pakistani/Bangladeshi looking mystery male and pointed out Waytha Moorthy to the mystery man.

Hindraf would hold the Malay-sian Special Branch responsible should anything untoward happened to Waytha Moorthy.

We are particularly concerned with the safety of Waytha Moorthy as over the last 3 months there has been political killings (hired killers) in the UK involving at least 2 overseas Political leaders /activists seeking asylum in UK.

IMG_0004 P1010001

Utusan calls DAP racist, DAP says paper, Umno liars

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — A week after the Umno general assembly that preached inclusiveness, the party-owned Mingguan Malaysia accused DAP of being racist and called it the worst danger facing the country.

DAP Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong immediately responded to the paper’s columnist Awang Selamat’s accusation, saying Umno and the Utusan Malaysia weekly edition are liars.

Utusan has been critical of DAP in the past few months, particularly the Penang government led by party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, over claims that the chief minister’s name replaced the King’s name in Friday prayers, gambling funds being used as compassionate payments for the elderly and Malay reserve land being used for commercial purposes.

“The DAP strategy to get close to the Malays is because they don’t want to depend on PAS and PKR. They worry that PAS will desert the pact. PKR itself looks shaky,” said the columnist Awang Selamat, the pseudonym is usually used by the paper’s senior editors.

“Actually, DAP is the most racist party in the world. For Awang, the DAP threat is more dangerous than any threat that been faced in the country’s history. Only their colonialism is more subtle, cloaked by democratic slogans and without weapons. But the implication is great.

“The constitution, the position of Islam and the monarchy are the wagers, that could lead to Malaysia being a republic. Is that what we want?” Awang Selamat wrote.

The columnist’s rhetoric has been shared by several Ummo politicians and attributed to their anger and envy towards non-Malays, believing that non-Malays should remain submissive to the bigger Malay demographic.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu pointed out yesterday that Umno must temper such talk as some 70 seats contested by the Malay party depend on non-Malay votes for victory.

The Conference of Rulers also issued a statement late last night expressing concern over heightened racial tension and continued questioning of the ‘social contract’. Umno has said the ‘social contract’ for Malay political supremacy in exchange for citizenship of non-Malays cannot be questioned.

In response today, Liew said it regretted the action by Utusan Malaysia and several Umno leaders that Malays will be chased from Penang.

“This lie is not just a fiction to stoke the anger of Malays but an attempt by Umno to hide its weakness to defend the Malay race,” said the party strategist.

Liew also defended the Penang state government, saying a proposed international academic institution has yet to be approved despite allegations to the contrary by Umno.

“But Utusan and Umno are continuing with their lies that Malays will be the victims if the institutions are built. Utusan and Umno use terms like ‘Chinese University’ and ‘Singapore University’ that apparently have been approved to stoke racial fires.

“This is false news. DAP fights for all races and equal educational opportunities for all races,” he added.

He said the people should not be misled by the lies perpetrated by Umno and Utusan.

Musa: Yong is a 'dangerous liar'

By Queville To - Free Malaysia Today

UPDATED SANDAKAN: Chief Minister Musa Aman has called Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) leader a "dangerous liar". He said Yong Teck Lee’s campaign to wrest the Batu Sapi parliamentary seat is paved with lies, deception, and empty promises.

“It is a desperate attempt to grab power. He is a dangerous and an irresponsible leader who says one thing now but when he was in power, he did just the opposite.

“This kind of leader cannot be trusted, whether as an MP or state assemblyman, " he said.

At a meet-the-people-session in Kampung Bakau here last night, an increasingly panicky Musa said Yong is fooling people by saying he is a 'chief minister in waiting'.

Musa was campaigning for Barisan Nasional candidate Linda Tsen who is in a tree-cornered tussle with PKR's Ansari Abdullah and Yong for the Batu Sapi seat.

Musa also accused Yong of even trying to provoke a war between two nations, in order to achieve his selfish agenda.

“Since he joined politics, he has pitted one person against another. Today, he tries to provoke a war between Malaysia and Brunei by again raising the issue of ‘Block L & M’, which in fact is a none issue,” he said.

Musa said the ‘Block L & M’ had been adequately explained by the government since day one when it was first raised.

"There is nothing to hide and there is nothing sinister in this issue.“These areas rightfully belong to Brunei. Period!

“If at all there was even a slightest suggestion that ‘Block L & M’ is part of Sabah territorial waters, the government would ensure it remains ours as what it did for the Sipidan and Ligitan issue,” said Musa.

Complex issue
Musa said that it was sometimes difficult to explain to the people complex matters and issues, but Yong was only ‘fishing in murky waters’ hoping to play upon the naivety of the people to make it look as if the government of the day was in the wrong.

At the last Parliament sitting in June, this matter was again adequately addressed by his brother, the Foreign Minister, Anifah Aman, he said.

Citing the law, according to maritime experts, and based on UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) 1982, Anifah had said the two oil blocks clearly belong to Brunei.

Anifah had said that Malaysia will have its share of revenue from its oil and gas exploration.

Musa also said Yong was mischievous, if not ignorant, for suggesting that the MACC had failed to take action against him, over his alleged connection with a group of people who were arrested over alleged ‘money-laundering’ in Hong Kong.

“Yong is neither blind nor deaf to know that the authorities are doing a full investigation on all these allegations … nothing is being covered up.

"The authorities are investigating without fear or favour. Having said that, those who spread rumours should also be dealt with,” he said.

The non-event debates
Meanwhile the two planned debates among the candidates set for today failed to take off when none of the main actors turned up.

The first was to have involved Yong and Musa.

The other, organised by PKR's Ansari Abdullah, was to have involved him, Yong and BN's Linda Tsen.

However, the debates never saw the light of day when none of the suggested debators turned up.

Both Yong and Ansari tried to score points by calling for a debate -- despite having been told in advance that their intended debator would not participate.

Yong even went as far as to publish a full-page advertisement in local dailies to inform the public of today's debate at Dewan Hakka here at 1pm.

Musa had already said it was pointless to debate with Yong, while Yong, a former chief minister, brushed aside Ansari's invitation for a debate at Sanbay Hotel at 2pm.

Yong had said he preferred to debate with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, instead of Ansari.

Earlier, Tsen had also turned down Ansari's invitation for a debate.

'Stop impoundment of Bakun dam'

By Joseph Tawie - Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR wants the state government to stop the impoundment of Bakun dam immediately.

The party wants the governemt to conduct a 'fresh and independent' feasibility report and environmental impact assessment (EIA) to re-evaluate the viability of the hydro-electric dam project.

“This is in view of the problems brought about by the impoundment of the Bakun dam,” Baru Bian, chairman of Sarawak PKR told reporters.

He said the impoundment of the dam had caused hardship to the people and destroyed the ecological system.

He added that the Balui River which is the upstream part of the Rajang River had dryed up and marine life dying.

“The Balui River (the upstreamd part of the Rajang River) is drying up.

"We have received reports and complaints that river communications have been cut off, food rations, medical supplies and other essential services are affected. A lot of fish, especially the most expensive fish, the empurau are dying.

“So we call on the government to immediately stop the impoundment of the dam as the relevancy and accuracy of the factors and data taken into consideration in the feasibility study and EIA reports conducted in the early 80s are now questionable and doubtful,” Bian said.

He said the feasibility studies conducted 30 years ago had not taken into account the deforestation in the upper reaches of Sungai Balui which had inevitably affected the water retaining capacity of the catchment areas.

Another glaring flaw of the EIA is the dry riverbed experienced now which could not have been anticipated, he said.

Bian also warned the government not to proceed with the construction of the Baram dam project as it woul affect the people’s livelihood, longhouses and their lands will be much worse than that of Bakun dam.

Some 25 longhouses, churches, schools and clinics will be affected by the dam which is expected to submerge 38,900 hectares or 389 sq. km of land.

And more than 20,000 natives will have to be moved out and resettled, he said.

Computer classes: SJKC Jalan Davidson lands in court

By Teoh El Sen - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: A parent has filed a case against SJKC Jalan Davidson for organising computer clasess during school hours and charging parents for it. This is the second such case.
In February this year, 18 parents from SJKC Desa Jaya in Kepong, fed-up with a similar situation, filed a suit against the school principal, and several others, seeking a declaration that such classes are illegal and that it was unlawful to impose a fee.

Following that, now legal firm manager Siew Yen Mee, 35, has make a similar charge. She also claimed that it was unlawful for the SJKC Jalan Davidson to conduct such classes and request for payment as it went against the Education Act 1996. Her two sons, aged seven and 10, are also plaintiffs in the suit.

She filed her suit on Oct 7 at the High Court here naming the school's principal, Pang Chong Leong, the school's Parents-Teachers' Association chairman Dr Lai Boon Hai, and the school's board of governors chairman Yong Ah Pwi as defendents.

Siew, who claimed the defendants had "abused their powers", is also claiming that the government-aided school had no right to ask for a RM300 mandatory School Development Fund, as it was supposed to be a "donation".

"I am not doing this for myself but for other parents who do not know their right or are afraid to stand up to such things because they are concerned about their children's education," said the single mother, who is also a law student.

In her affidavit, Siew said she was "shocked" and "extremely unhappy" after she discovered that the school had "indulged in malpractices" and concocted various excuses in imposing the unlawful charges.

"I was told that I should pay because everyone else was paying the fee. And they kept asking for the amount in a manner that was almost like Ah Longs or debt collectors," Siew told reporters in a press conference yesterday.

She said like other parents, she too had eventually succumbed to the pressure and paid a portion of the school development fund.

Siew said she was asked to pay RM120 per year for the computer classes, monthly contributions of RM8 for the "maintenance of teacher apparatus and computers" as well as a RM300 development fund donation for new students in the school. The SRJKC Jalan Davidson has some 2,000 students.

"I was initially scared to file a lawsuit as I was afraid my children would be victimised but I could not let something that is wrong continue... Nobody is above the law, " said Siew, holding up a copy of the Education Act.

Not legal

Siew's lawyer, Chan Tse Yuen said the law clearly stated 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 timetables of government-aided schools are also exempted from any fees.

"Computer classes are not within those 'core subjects'. And since the day of Merdeka until today, its an undeniable, naked fact that no fee should be levied.

"All these fees are 'unreasonable'... its beyond the ambit of the law. The school's officers also used very high handed manner to pressure my client to pay those fees," said Chan, who added that this was an issue of national interest.

On the development fund, Chan said: "How did this amount come about? This RM300 is a figment of the schools imagination. If at all students are to pay a stipulated amount, then it should be synchronized in all such schools in Malaysia."

A team of nine lawyers, headed by Chan, are assisting Siew in the case.

Another lawyer and MCA central delegate Chang Aik Ming said: "This is an example that goes against the 1Malaysia concept.

"People are not put first, the law is not being put first. We support computer classes, but does our government, our schools have the power to go against the laws of the land?

Malaysia Chinese Schools’ Parents Association advisor Ong Koh Hou said the most important thing was that the accounts of all these classes were kept secret and not transparent.

"Why is it not being published? The students paying these so-called fees must know," he said.

Zaid’s ‘beyond Anwar’ theme morally correct

By Joe Fernandez
COMMENT Pakatan Rakyat co-ordinator raised more than a few eye-brows when he themed his campaign for the PKR deputy presidency as “beyond Anwar”.
Quite a few felt that he was being kurang ajar (ill-mannered) towards the de facto party chief “and more than a little ungrateful”. It’s not so if one really thinks about it.

The truth is always unpleasant. Many among the party faithful believe that someone has to say it.

Zaid did and now everyone in Pakatan has to live with the bald fact that Anwar Ibrahim will be counting the bars again sooner rather than later, and then what? This is the question uppermost in the minds of PKR members.

Again, they ask, must Pakatan Rakyat revolve around Anwar with everyone doing a song-and-dance act as he commands and die with him? The agenda for change and reform, it is universally felt, must be much more than the fate of one mortal individual. No one is indispensable.

If Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is thinking right, he will surely cart Anwar off to jail after the next general election while screaming himself hoarse on the independence and integrity of the judiciary. An Anwar in jail before the general election will be even more dangerous for Umno than an Anwar outside.

But how sure is Najib that he will win the next general election? If he calls for snap polls and loses, a strong possibility, it’s more than likely that he will be counting the bars himself instead of Anwar. He has more than a few skeletons in his cupboard as well. But jail is a risk that Najib would have to take if he wants to gamble on the odds.

Between Umno and Pakatan, it’s more likely that the former would still win the general election, albeit with a simple majority. The political tsunami factor of 2008 is missing thanks to Hindraf Makkal Sakthi parting company with the opposition alliance over Anwar’s constant taunts about the human rights movement being “racist”. Hindraf distancing itself from Pakatan has had Najib leaping with joy and doing cartwheels.

Simple majority

In a nutshell, there will be snap polls soon, probably at the same time as the Sarawak state election, certainly no later than late next year. Najib needs his own mandate and soon. He cannot afford to continue with the mandate of his predecessor or risk being labelled “utterly unscrupulous and shameless”.

Pakatan will not be able to seize control of the Sarawak state government. The 70% literate Ibans will stand solidly behind Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud who doesn’t hesitate to play the Dayak card with them. Taib is a Melanau Dayak who claims he’s Malay whenever he’s in the Malay kampungs in Sarawak.

Umno will win the snap national polls with a simple majority to form the federal government once again. Anwar will be carted off to jail by Najib, shortly after that, as per the script laid out for him by his mentor Dr Mahathir Mohamad. That will be the end of Anwar. He will be history this time.

Mahathir wants to save his son Mukhriz’s political future and his family’s vantage position in the gravy train. He cannot afford to have Anwar around.

Hence, Zaid’s concern that Pakatan should not be history with Anwar out of the picture.

There are also other reasons why Anwar should be taken out of the Pakatan and PKR equation. This is something that PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar, the Lembah Pantai MP, would understand and accept.

Anwar was done in during Sodomy I by a brother and sister pair. Azmin Ali is the brother of the notorious duo. Now, Anwar faces Sodomy II but he continues to root strangely for Azmin as if he’s “God’s gift to Malaysia” in politics.

New heroes

It’s obvious that Anwar hasn’t learnt anything from Sodomy I and is a poor judge of human character. For this reason alone, he should be taken out of the equation as Zaid has reasoned well. Logic dictates that Anwar should not have anything to do with the likes of Azmin and this is something that both his wife and daughter will agree.

Anwar’s exit will no doubt make it easier for PKR to deal with Azmin. He’s guilty by association as far as the party faithful is concerned. They want to boot him out at the earliest opportunity before he does further and perhaps irreparable damage. He will perhaps return to Umno where he will be more than welcome in a party desperate for new heroes.

In the unlikely event that Pakatan seizes the reins of power in Putrajaya at the forthcoming general election, Anwar would still have to be removed from the equation. Sodomy I and II have tainted him beyond redemption and the best that he can do is retire from politics and seek a new occupation as a visiting academic at any university that would have him. He can muse there at leisure on the what may have beens.

Sodomy aside, the Sabahans and Sarawakians are not too impressed either with Anwar’s integrity and sense of fair play. Pakatan needs to woo the other half of Malaysia across the South China Sea and this can only happen if Anwar is taken out of the equation.

Sept 16, 2008 would have happened had not Anwar instructed Sabah strongman Jeffrey Kitingan to hand over the nearly accomplished task to Azmin. The Sarawakians in particular got cold feet at the sight of Anwar and Azmin renewing the Sept 16 promises.

Like the Sabahans, they were also annoyed that someone like Jeffrey whom they trusted had been taken out of the Sept 16 equation. Anwar and Azmin wrested defeat out of the jaws of victory.

The general feeling in Sabah and Sarawak is that it will be a sad day for PKR should Zaid fail to win the deputy presidency and Azmin instead comes in. Things will never be the same again.

Between Anwar and Azmin, both control freaks, PKR will be even less welcome in Sabah and Sarawak. The prognosis may not be that good for Zaid since the PKR elections are being conducted in the same manner the Judiciary is conducting Sodomy 2.

Zaid may not be the best In PKR in the tussle for the deputy presidency after Nurul and Jeffrey stayed out but he’s certainly the best of the worst. Beggars can’t be choosers! Zaid still has several more weekends to make his campaign felt.

The parade of “Muslim sensitivities”: Where is it taking us?

Church plays are insulting? (© PBoGS | Flickr)
by Jacqueline Ann Surin
AND so Perkasa has made the news again. And this time by its own doing, not because a media bent on sensationalism tried to cultivate the Malay nationalist group in order to increase readership.
In the latest of Perkasa moves, its Petaling chairperson, Zainal Abidin Ahmad, lodged a police report against a Protestant church in Shah Alam and its pastor for planning to stage a Christian play during Ramadan. “We want the church and pastor to be investigated for sedition and for insulting the Sultan,” Zainal Abidin told The Malaysian Insider on 17 Aug 2010. Zainal Abidin also accused the church of deliberately attempting to preach Christianity to Muslims in Muslim-majority Shah Alam.
We may be lulled into thinking that the issue at hand is limited to a Malay, and hence Muslim, rights group making wild and curious allegations against non-Muslim, non-Malay Malaysians. If only that were the case. Unfortunately, much more is involved. Indeed, what is really at stake is the control of public space and what it means for all of us.
My space, not anyone else’s
What Perkasa’s actions boil down to in Shah Alam is this. It’s saying that because it’s Ramadan and because Shah Alam is a Muslim-majority suburb, no other faith group is allowed to practise freedom of religion, expression or association. If they do, they can be cited for sedition, insulting the Malay ruler, and the crime of proselytising to Muslims.
I suspect that the citations of sedition etc are just a means of asserting control and power. By making out non-Malay non-Muslims to be criminals of the highest order, it becomes that much easier for lesser-thinking members of the public to believe that non-Muslims deserve to have their constitutional rights denied.
We may dismiss Zainal Abidin, and even Perkasa as a whole, as lunatic. That would be a mistake. Because Zainal Abidin and Perkasa are not the only ones who want complete control of public space, and who use a particular version of Islam to exert that control. Additionally, they are not the only players in town who do this at the expense of the rights and freedoms of other citizens.
Let us remember that before Perkasa started making the headlines, the national censors in 2005 banned the movie Babe because it starred a pig, considered haram in Islam, as the lead character. Following that, anecdotes from parents tell us that in some schools, non-Muslims children are told what they can and cannot pack in their lunch boxes in deference to Muslim sensitivities.
How about pig-eons? (© grendelkhan | Flickr)A Malaysian columnist once also told me that the word “pigmentation” was censored from a documentary he had watched presumably because the first syllable was “pig”. And in 2007, I discovered that Guardian pharmacy did not offer Piglet as part of its Winnie the Pooh gift redemption promotion.
Over in Section 6, Petaling Jaya, the local mosque has no qualms blaring the terawih prayers till late at night at decibels that are inconsiderate to the neighbourhood.
And let us also remember PAS’s own moves to define what can and cannot be done in the public domain. Everytime PAS Youth calls for a concert ban, what it’s effectively doing is telling all those — Muslims and non-Muslims — whose faith would not be threatened by attending a live concert, that they cannot because PAS says so. Similarly, when Selangor PAS tried to ban the sale of beer in Muslim-majority areas in the state, what the party is saying is that the lifestyle of all non-Muslims must be subservient to those of some Muslims.
And so the proscriptions on public spaces don’t just include what a Protestant church is allowed to do during Ramadan. It also affects the food our children are allowed to consume in schools, the drinks non-Muslims can buy in their neighbourhood, the movies and concerts and words we are allowed to watch and hear, the gifts we can redeem at a pharmacy, and the airwaves in our neighbourhood.
Piglet (©  Bo Gordy-Stith | Flickr)What do these events tell us? They tell us that there is a creeping, even if not concerted, effort by state and non-state players, to determine what is publicly kosher and what is not. It doesn’t matter if nothing in Islam actually prohibits non-Muslims from staging a Christian play during Ramadan, drinking alcohol, eating pork and watching a pig character in the movies.
The bottomline? Public space is no longer everyone’s space. It’s theirs — those Malay Muslims who believe that their imagined sensitivities alone give them the right to deny others access and use of public spaces.
The biggie
The biggie of all proscriptions in the current Malaysian context is of course, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s ban of the words “Allah”, “solat”, “Kaabah” and “Baitullah” among non-Muslims.
Even though Muslims don’t own copyright to these Arabic words, the BN government is asserting that these words belong to Muslims, and Muslims alone. Particularly Malaysian Muslims who apparently are prone to being confused should another faith community use the same words.

The ban on “Allah” and the three other words is no different from what Perkasa is doing in Shah Alam. A publicly-used word, like publicly-shared spaces, only belongs to Muslims. It’s as if these Muslim state and non-state actors are declaring, “Our space, not anyone else’s. Our word, not anyone else’s.”
Can one religion own certain words from the Arabic language?And because their demands have no historical, cultural or legal legitimacy, they resort to demonising non-Muslims, accusing them of crimes and ill-intentions. And they use the powers of the state to impose and enforce ownership over “our space” and “our word”.
And so the biggie isn’t that our political landscape is littered more and more with irrational demands and wild allegations from certain Malay Muslim quarters. The biggie is that increasingly, there are more and more concerted attempts by these forces, which include the Umno-led federal government, to take over shared public spaces.
What’s the limit?
After the story on Perkasa’s police report was published, someone on Twitter commented that we can next expect police reports to be lodged against non-Muslims for eating during Ramadan. Indeed, I believe that’s not too far-fetched a scenario if we continue to allow those who try to control the public domain for their own narrow vested and bigoted interests, to continue doing what they do.
Guinea pigs eating (© shimown | Flickr)Already, non-Muslims are constantly being told to defer to the sensitivities of some Muslims. At the rate Muslim “sensitivities” are paraded about, one would think Muslims lived their lives like exposed nipples, ever excitable. When the truth is, we know that Muslims are thinking, rational human beings who belonged to one of the most historically advanced civilisations.
To be certain, there is a need to be respectful of different customs and belief systems. But “Muslim sensitivities” cannot and must not be the measure by which a non-Muslim citizen is denied the right to eat pork, watch a movie or use “Allah”. If we allowed that to happen, we would be a nation where behaving like an exposed nipple trumps constitutional rights to freedom of religion, assembly, association and expression. – TNG

The anti-ISA protest in London: Saturday, 30 October 2010

Is our Education system failing?

Dinesweri Puspanadan, Malaysia Chronicle

When one particular question is raised; ' Is our education system good?', majority of Malaysians, sweeping aside their political preferences and individual principles, echo one mutual answer; NO. Whether we like it or not, we need to accept the fact that our education system has been failing.

Before exploring this issue further, let me remind you that we are not going to discuss the issues of passing examinations with flying colors, enrolling into prestigious Higher Institutes,or graduating as a gold medalist but another dimension of education, real life education.

Recalling one of my buddies' tweet recently; 'No one can dictate to you WHAT to think if you know HOW to think'. Has our education system has been teaching the kids how to think? Food for thought.

Look at the undergraduates. How many of them do you think are vocal and reasonable with their thoughts? Supposedly, undergraduates should set a good example. Contradictorily, their acts are not parallel with their thoughts. Some of their responses to Adam Lambert's concert is a good example. One of the justifications they used to oppose the concert is it could encourage homosexuality. Ironically, this group fights for students' freedom. Don't you think that by putting forward one group's demand, we are actually surpassing another group's rights? Who are we to decide for the others even if they are just the minority? Are not these students 'educated' on making reasonable justifications? Mind you, they are the 'future leaders'.

Our Philosophy of Education emphasizes holistic development particularly intellectual growth in learning. Intellectual people are usually able to discuss any issue despite its sensitivity without offending others. They tend to be less defensive and more diplomatic whenever they present their arguments that they normally back with loads of justification. They are open to criticism and these people also many times present constructive feedback. How many Malaysians do you think fit to this category?

Politicians especially are driven by their own political agenda to the extent where they talk things which make less sense. They shut up the public, they penalize those who speak their mind, and at the end of the day they end up making fools of themselves and the people's laughing stocks. We can only nod our heads at their stupidity. On the other side, we have a bunch of people who are browsing for opportunities to bash their 'enemies'. If someone really cares for the people and the nation, they should offer long term solutions for problems instead of wasting their time slamming others. Where exactly are these people's intellectual growth restrained?

Some Malaysians are either too outspoken or too dumb and fearful to stand up for their rights. Their 'tak apa' attitude surpasses their ability to think and reason which at the end erodes their ability to empathize with others. How many of Malaysians are concerned about what happened to Aminul Rasyid, Teng Beng Hock, Kugan?(the list continues). Many actually take a step back whenever it comes to a fight for justice.

The implementation of the education system fails where many of its products are inert and they are trained to mind their own business. Our people are lacking the sense of ownership. How do you think this could be cultivated if administration work lands on teachers' shoulders plus they have to complete the syllabus before the examination. In some worse cases, some teachers even seem blessed with 'making babies' assignment throughout their service! With these type of conditions, how do you think we could provide space for the kids to explore themselves, build relationships with their friends and learn new things through exploration. Feelings are not taught but shaped through experiences with their buddies during their learning. Does our education system provide the space?

The highest point of a good education should be the ability to see every human being as one regardless of their race, color, and creed. Issues of race and religion are always twisted in our country. When it comes to these issues, one should not question why? But why? Isn't questioning part of learning? Hilariously, many are shut off when it comes to the issue of religion. Why aren't we allowed to question the validity of certain practices in religion? Why should one particular religion appear as superior to another? Is your God different than mine?

Disappointingly, even so called 'educated' people are not prepared for table-talk when it comes to religion. They insult other people's beliefs and make fun of rituals and prayers. How are you sure that your religion is the best and superior to other religions? Did God appear in your dream and present an academic paper to prove it?

We fail to understand that religion is a set of disciplines which guide us throughout our life. Remember that even Holy books are written based on interpretations provided by prophets. Interpretation varies according to people's beliefs, background, and culture and that's the reason why cults are formed. In this context, our education system has failed miserably. It fails to form the structure of critical thinking among the learners. They are surpassed from thinking. Putting it in its naked form, education is politicized. Others decide what we should question and what we should not in the name of religion!

10-year-old kids even talk about skin color, calls his buddies from other races names, makes fun of the rituals of other religions and this kid is a future parent who is going to groom his family. What personality would his child have? Something for us to ponder.

Our education system needs a set of effective implementation. It needs to cross the boundary of scoring As and has to teach our kids about being good human beings and not straight-A students with terrible attitude and who tweet and comment nonsense with shallow and skewed logic.

By the way, Tun Mahathir, are there any handicaps provided to ensure fairness in the growth of the spiritual, intellectual, and attitude?