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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hindraf man told to enter defence

SHAH ALAM: A butcher charged with taking part in an illegal gathering, organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) three years ago, was ordered by the Sessions Court yesterday to enter his defence.

K. Raghu, 43, is alleged to have taken part in the illegal gathering at the Sri Subramaniam temple in Jalan Besar, Batu Caves, between 1am and 8am on Nov 25, 2007.

Judge Hasbi Hasan ruled that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against Raghu. She set Nov 25 for the defence.

However, she acquitted Raghu on a second charge of using criminal force against a policeman and causing disturbance by damaging seven vehicles in front of the temple at the same place and time.

Hasbi said there was insufficient evidence to call for his defence.

Counsel S. Karthigesan appeared for Raghu, while deputy public prosecutors Idham Abdul Ghani, Hanim Mohd Rashid and Devinderjit Kaur prosecuted.

Read more: Hindraf man told to enter defence

Batu Sapi:Vote not out of Sympathy

By Dinesweri Puspanadan
Here we have the Batu Sapi and Galas by-elections. The usual rhetoric is being used to fish for votes. As compared to Galas, the Batu Sapi “buy”-election has taken a new dimension where there is a tight fight between 3 candidates – Ansari Abdullah, 56 (PR), Datuk Yong Teck Lee, 51 (SAPP) and Datin Linda Tsen Thau Lin, 54 (BN).

What am I interested in is BN’s decision to field Linda Tsen, the widow of the late PBS Assemblyman Datuk Edmund Chong who was killed in a bike crash earlier this month.

Edmund, who was the incumbent MP of Batu Sapi is believed to have maintained a good record throughout his service. In 2004, he won unopposed and in 2008, despite BN’s loss of its two-thirds majority, Edmund took the seat with a comfortable win.

Many argue that Linda will able to do the same with quite a number of sympathy votes for her. Now, that sounds so wrong!

On what basis should we vote for Linda? Is it because she is a widow or late Edmund’s wife or because she is actually capable to lead? Has she been involved in community activities and contributed to the development and betterment of society?

BN has claimed that she is no stranger to politics as she has been involved in her own party as a Wanita Vice Chief.

But my concern is whether she will be able to work with the grassroots to uplift society? Will she be an agent of change?

Yes, Linda has lost her husband and she deserves our deepest sympathy but that cannot be a factor to elect her. Her calm appearance and ability to play a musical instrument is not sufficient.

It is still common that votes are being fished through eleventh hour deeds like dinners, concerts and project approvals. But after the dust has settled, the elected disappear, and the people abandoned.

Our mistakes in the past are haunting us. They contribute much to our contemporary flip-flop in politics.

Why do you think politicians do not fear the public? It’s simple. They think that with money anything can be done, bought or concealed. If our forefathers had voted wisely, we would not be in this miserable state. And today, we are told we need to vote for the widow of the former Assemblyman.

Politicians may speak about transformation, may beg for another chance, may promise development, may get dirty playing football or sepak takraw, may join you for dinner, lunch and breakfast but tomorrow after the election is over, off they go on their way.

This is the time where we, as voters, need to send a strong message to every prospective representative that our votes are not easy to come by. If we elect the wrong person, society will continue to suffer while the process of removing failed representatives is tedious.

Once the corrupt get into power, the system will in turn be corrupted, and the corrupt will do anything to sustain their power and position. Why do you think Chief Minister Taib is confident about winning the next Sarawak elections despite the unearthing of numerous issues including dubious land deals and the oppressed state of the Penans?

We elected failed people in the past and in a few hours, the responsibility to rectify our mistakes rests on the voters’ shoulders. It is difficult but possible. Use your votes wisely.

We need charismatic but also intelligent leaders who will be able to empower the people.

We do not need sympathetic, soft and greedy leaders.

Vote not out of sympathy.

Indonesia hit by earthquake and more volcanic ash

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano erupted several times Wednesday, while an earthquake struck off of the coast of Papua, far to the east of the volcano.

Mount Merapi, in central Java, spewed plumes intermittently for about five hours, sending out enough ash to prompt authorities to extend the danger zone an extra 5 km, to a 15 km radius from the volcano.

The extension forced thousands of evacuees to seek shelter farther away, a local journalist told CNN.

Mount Merapi's lava and ash have killed at least 39 people since it began erupting on October 26. An additional 74 have been injured and more than 71,000 people have been evacuated, according to Indonesia's National Disaster Management Board.

Residents on the volcano have repeatedly fled, returned home to check on their houses and farm animals, and fled anew with each fresh eruption.

The 3,000-meter Merapi is famously unpredictable. An eruption killed two people in 2006 and another killed more than 60 villagers in 1994. About 1,300 people died when Merapi erupted in 1930.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake off the eastern Indonesian coast Wednesday did not prompt tsunami warnings from Indonesia's Bureau of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics or the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

There are no reports of damage or injuries so far.

Last week, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia's coast, triggering a tsunami and killing at least 449 people. Hundreds more were injured.

Philippines on high terrorism alert

Government boosts security after Western nations warn attacks may be imminent in capital and elsewhere in the country.

The Philippines is on heightened alert for possible terrorist attacks after Western governments suggested public places could be targeted.

The United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand warned their citizens that areas often visited by foreigners in the capital Manila, and elsewhere in the country, were potential targets.

The Philippine government did not see an immediate threat but the advisories were being taken seriously, Voltaire Gazmin, the Philippine defence minister, said on Wednesday.

The warnings did not identify the source of the threat.

Conflicting intelligence

The five governments specifically mentioned Manila as a possible target in their latest travel advisories - and warned their citizens to stay away from shopping centres and places frequented by expatriates.

They also advised citizens to exercise a high degree of caution.

Australia, citing unspecified but reliable reports, said an attack in the capital may be "imminent''.

"Terrorist attacks, including bombings, are possible any time, anywhere in the Philippines, including in Manila," the Australian department of foreign affairs said in its notice.

The British and US authorities said terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate and could happen in Manila.

But the Philippine military said it did not have any similar information.

"There is no imminent threat, there is no information which says there is an impending attack. And we certainly would like to allay fears of all of these possibilities," Brigadier General Jose Mabanta, a military spokesman, said.

Edwin Lacierda, the Philippine presidential spokesman, said the warnings were part of heightened concerns around the world following the discovery last week of parcel bombs from Yemen that were being sent to the US.

"The travel advisories ... are part of a global alert about possible terrorist activities, not just in the Philippines but also in other parts of the world," Lacierda said.

Lacierda did mention any specific threat but said the military and the national police forces in Manila had been placed on the top-level "red alert".

Recommendations were maintained to avoid travel to Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago in the southern Philippines because of risks from Muslim rebels and al-Qaeda fighters in the area.


Prisoner can consume ganja at Sentul Police Headquarters. Not without police involvement in drugs? 

Singer Ameng jailed for taking drugs in police station

KUALA LUMPUR: Ameng, the lead singer of popular 90s boy band Spring, was sentenced yesterday to two months’ jail for taking ganja.

Magistrate Zaki Asyraf Zubir also fined him RM4,000, in default of four months’ jail.

Ameng, 42, whose real name is Wan Aminudin Wan Ismail, was also ordered to be under observation by the National Anti-Drug Agency for three years.

The singer was charged on May 12 with consuming ganja at the Sentul police headquarters on April 2.

Five prosecution witnesses and two defence witnesses testified.

In passing sentence, the court ruled that Ameng’s defence that he was framed was merely a blatant allegation without any basis as well as an attempt to direct the court’s attention to petty issues irrelevant to the case.

Zaki Asyraf also noted that it was Ameng’s second offence. In 2005, he was convicted and fined for a similar offence.

The accused appeared calm when the sentence was passed.

In mitigation, counsel Kamarul Zaman Abdul Rahman said Ameng was his family’s sole breadwinner and that he had a three-year-old son and a non-working wife to support.

He told the court that Ameng also had two daughters, aged nine and 14 from a previous marriage.

“A custodial sentence in this case is not suitable.

“His reputation as a singer has taken a blow with this charge.

“If he goes to jail, his income will be affected,” Kamarul Zaman added.

Deputy public prosecutor Siti Hajar Alias, however, asked the court to impose a deterrent sentence as drug-taking was a serious offence and because this was Ameng’s second offence.

Kamarul Zaman applied for a stay of the jail sentence pending an appeal.

The magistrate allowed the application on condition that the bail be increased by RM2,000, to RM5,500.

Let us meet Guantanamo inmates if you want to see Anwar, Dr M tells US

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 3 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad criticised the US government today for continuing to support his former deputy Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is facing his second sodomy prosecution.

He said that if Washington officials wanted to meet with Anwar then the Obama Administration must allow Malaysian government representatives to meet with prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

“Just as they (US government) have a right to talk to Anwar, we have the right to talk to people in Guantanamo Bay. I mean if they are democratic, we are also democratic. What they can do, we can also do,” he told reporters here.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit here had been surrounded by intense speculation she would meet Anwar, currently on trial for sodomy, in a charge many in Washington circles view as politically-motivated.

A face-to-face meeting could potentially have put the Najib Administration in an awkward position at a time of rapidly improving diplomatic ties, but the secretary of state appeared to be trying to avoid offending the government by only making a telephone call to Anwar instead.

However Dr Mahathir stressed that the US government must practice democracy before it preaches it.

“I think if we want to send delegations to see the people who are detained in Guantanamo over the last seven years without trial, without charges then we have the right to see what kind of justice system they have in America,” he added.

The Guantanamo Bay detainment facility was established in 2002 by former president George Bush to hold prisoners from the Iraq war. However, the camp was expanded to hold anyone suspected of terrorist activities.

Clinton’s visit marked a further warming in diplomatic relations with the world’s last remaining superpower, after frosty ties under Dr Mahathir, who is widely known for his stridently critical views of the US that are often seen as bordering on anti-Western.

In April, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak held a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama, just one year after taking office.

Anwar faced his first sodomy prosecution in 1999 when Dr Mahathir was still PM.

A-G closes PI Bala’s case on conflicting SDs

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — There will be no further investigations on private investigator P. Balasubramaniam’s conflicting statutory declarations (SDs) as the case is now closed, according to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Defacto Law Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, in a written reply in Parliament, said that the A-G’s Chambers’ decision to close the case was because Balasubramaniam’s conflicting SDs did not affect the high-profile trial of murdered Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

“Although there are contradictions between the two SDS, the contradictions do not affect the outcome of the trial of Altantuya. Moreover, the individual (Balasubramaniam) is still believed to be abroad,” said Nazri.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said that the decision to close the case was made after “careful consideration” of the results of the police probe and witness statements.

Nazri said that investigations on Balasubramaniam were initially conducted under Section 199 of the Penal Code for providing “false statements.”

Under this law, offenders are liable to a maximum jail term of three years and a fine.

It is understood that investigations against Balasubramaniam took place after he retracted a statutory declaration in July 2008, which implicated Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in the murder of Altantuya.

Balasubramaniam, a private investigator hired by Abdul Razak Baginda, who was also Altantuya’s lover, has made many controversial allegations including linking Najib to Altantuya’s murder.

Abdul Razak was charged with murder but was subsequently acquitted.

Batu Sapi awash with cash

By Michael Kaung - Free Malaysia Today

EXCLUSIVE SANDAKAN: Banks here are reporting withdrawals of large sums of money of between RM500,000 and RM1 million since two days ago as voters in Batu Sapi decide which way to cast their ballots tomorrow.

Those in the know said “towkays” were withdrawing large sums of cash and some banks here have been unable to facilitate such large withdrawals due to technicalities. According to banking sources, Bank Negara Malaysia has to be notified in some instances.

The the talk in town is that money started flowing into the water village settlements yesterday. Some estimate that up to RM5 million cash has been withdrawn from local banks in the past 72 hours.

According to a taxi driver, they (taxi drivers) are being given RM250 each and ordinary voters are getting RM150 each. The money is supposed to be for food, transport and logistics.

Those identified as “get-out-the-vote” organisers were reportedly given RM200 and they are expected to bring voters to the polling stations tomorrow.

Several people said that they were promised RM100 to RM150 more as they cast their ballots.

This afternoon, a huge crowd gathered at the MCA operation centre here after talk spread that the party was giving “handouts” and groups of voters have been circulating around town this evening as word spreads that this or that group is handing out cash.

However, as the excitement spread, some who said they received RM150 were disappointed as they were told that they would be given RM400.

SMSs are now floating around asking voters to go to opposition centres and even hotels to collect their money and food.

Higher turnout forecast

Meanwhile, the Election Commission is expecting a higher voter turnout tomorrow in the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election and predicted it would be about 75% compared with 63% in 2008.

This piece of news did not go down well with opposition campaigners who said a prediction of a higher voter turnout means that voters from outside the Batu Sapi constituency would be coming in.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who arrived here today, gave a final rallying call to voters to chose their candidates wisely.

He ended a campaign speech for the Barisan Nasional candidate Linda Tsen with a few barbs at opposition candidates Yong Teck Lee of the Sabah Progressive Party and Ansari Abdullah of PKR.

He also dismissed the opposition's election campaign issues as “outdated”.

Last push to win over hearts and minds

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today

GUA MUSANG: Both PAS and Barisan Nasional are making a final attempt to woo undecided voters with the former holding one last ceramah as campaigning enters into its final hours.

Heavy downpour, however, had disrupted Pas' last bid to convince the local electorate that Galas must remain with the Islamist party.

But that did not prevent PAS and its allies from bringing in national leaders like DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang and PAS central working committee member Dr Hatta Ramli onto the stump.

For Galas, which falls under the semi-urban Gua Musang parliamentary seat, the core issue is land, and, to a certain extent, development.

In the speeches of Pakatan Rakayt leaders tonight, they touched on what mattered most for the locals – land titles – and urged voters to be pragmatic.

On land, the leaders drove home the point that state governments have legal power over land matters and that means only the Kelantan government can resolve any outstanding issues concerning land.

By urging pragmatism, Pakatan hopes voters would cast their ballots for PAS' Dr Zulkefli Mohamad, a medical practitioner, who faces Umno Gua Musang division secretary Abdul Aziz Yusof.

No big projects

BN, on the other hand, has chosen an uncharacteristically "quiet" approach – busying its campaign with ministerial programmes while relatively staying away from holding ceramah.

BN, led by its election director, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, has distanced itself from the usual anouncement of "big projects” that traditionally characterise its electoral campaign.

Instead, it is betting on the presence of its heavyweights on the last day of campaigning. Today saw Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin making his final round in Galas.

Others like Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, Umno Wanita chief and Women, Community and Family Affairs Minister Shahrizat Jalil and Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen were also present.

Given total control over BN's direction, Razaleigh, who is Gua Musang MP and Umno division chief, has set a rather sheepish tempo. The meek pace mirrors Razaleigh's own "gentleman-like" personality, observers and foes say.

PAS has not fully capitalised on this for a practical reason: the Kelantan prince is a commodity for the party which controls Kelantan. His support for Kelantan's right to oil royalty of which the BN-controlled federal government has rejected makes it important for PAS not to upset him.

Of course, Razaleigh, affectionately known as Ku Li, has no control over everything. The MCA has harped on issues it felt was dear to the 20% Chinese voters. It accused PAS of Islamic extremism which was a threat to the Chinese way of life.

But a check around the sleepy town proved otherwise. Chinese restaurants are free to sell pork and beers too. Temples are seen everywhere and Chinese schools, perhaps one of the most important issues to the local Chinese here, are freely built.

Will BN win?

Nine days of campaigning ended today but both sides remain cautious with their projections.

An independent survey showed BN is leading the race by a narrow margin, 22% to 15%, as of yesterday but PAS is not too worried about the latest figure.

Muhyiddin, however, said confidently this afternoon that BN will win with a big majority, but PAS has maintained that the game is not over until the fat lady sings.

Either way, both sides concurred that a victory to either side will not change anything, given that PAS already controls 37 seats in the 45-seat state legislative assembly.

Those who disagreed felt that the outcome of Galas by-election is important for the opposition bloc as it faces a possible snap polls on the national stage.

It all depends on where you stand

Putrajaya division Umno Youth today lodged a police report over DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang calling Umno members infidels during a Galas by-election campaign ceramah (public talk).


Raja Petra Kamarudin

A police report has been made against Lim Kit Siang. It seems Kit Siang called the Umno people ‘infidels’ during a ceramah in Gua Musang, Kelantan. Kit Siang, however, has denied the allegation and says he was not even at the place where he was supposed to have uttered that statement.

You can read both reports below.

Now, what is an infidel? According to the English language, an infidel is a non-believer or unbeliever. This would be synonymous with agnostic, atheist, gentile, heathen, heretic, non-worshiper, pagan, etc. That is the understanding of ‘infidel’ in the English language.

So, if you were a Jew, you would regard all non-Jews or gentiles as infidels. A Christian would view all non-Christians as infidels. And Muslims regard all non-Muslims as infidels.

But it does not stop there. Jews consider fellow Jews of other sects as infidels. As do Christians and Muslims -- who regard all those of their same religion but of different sects as infidels.

Have you not noticed that the Sunnis, Shias, Wahhabis, etc., all call each other infidels even though all are supposed to be Muslims? The same goes for the Jews and Christians as well. And I have a Buddhist friend who also said the same thing about other Buddhists who he said are practicing ‘wrong teachings’. And a Hindu friend of mine said the same thing about other Hindus.

In other words, based on the understanding and beliefs of all those who profess a religion, the entire world population are infidels. There is not single true believer in this world. Everyone is an infidel.

Therefore Kit Siang, if he had said what he was alleged to have said, is not wrong. Since he is not a Muslim then Muslims are infidels -- meaning non-believers or unbelievers -- according to his religious belief. And Muslims, in turn, would see Kit Siang as an infidel as well, according to their religious belief. So both Kit Siang and the Muslims are equally infidels according to each person’s religious belief.

Infidels are basically those who do not belief in the same thing as what you believe in. I personally know some Umno people who regard PAS people as infidels. This is because PAS people believe in Hadith and Sunnah and these Umno people do not. They believe only in the Quran and regard Hadith and Sunnah as fabrications and untrue. So PAS people are infidels, according to these Umno people.

So it all depends on what you believe in. And if you believe the opposite of what I believe then you are an unbeliever or non-believer, and therefore an infidel. The Malay Muslims do not believe what the Shias believe. In fact, if a Malay declares that he or she is a Shia, the Malaysian government would arrest or detain this person. And a Shia, in turn, would regard all Malays, not only Umno Malays, as infidels.

From this angle Kit Siang is not wrong in calling Malays or Umno Malays infidels if he looks at things from a non-Sunni Muslim point of view. But then he did not do so. In fact, he was not even there. But if he was and if he had called them infidels he would be right -- unless Kit Siang is also a Sunni Muslim. Then he would need to explain why he regards fellow Sunni Muslims as infidels.


Police Report Lodged Over Kit Siang's Statement

Putrajaya division Umno Youth today lodged a police report over DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang calling Umno members infidels during a Galas by-election campaign ceramah (public talk).

Its representative Mohd Hisamudin Yahaya said the report was made at the Putrajaya police headquarters for the relevant authorities to investigate the offence allegedly committed by Lim under the Election Offences Act 1954.

"Accusing Umno members of being infidels is extreme and appears to have been endorsed by other quarters in the opposition pact," he told reporters, here, today.

"It was clearly an act of provocation and against the Federal Constitution, which states that people of other religions cannot interfere with a community's religious faith," he said.

Newspapers reported today that Lim had made the statement in front of PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the Kesedar Land Rehabilitation Scheme in Sungai Terah, Gua Musang, Kelantan. -- Bernama


Kit Siang denies calling Umno 'kafir': I was not even there

An outraged Lim Kit Siang denied uttering seditious remarks during a ceramah in Sungai Terah, Gua Musang, saying that he was not even present at the function.

“This is a slanderous accusation...I never said this and I was not even there at the ceramah. This is a twisted and irresponsible plot to spread racial and religious hatred,” Kit Siang told reporters.

Umno-owned daily Berita Harian, in a news report dated yesterday had accused Lim of saying “orang Umno kafir” (Umno members are infidels) during a PAS ceramah in Sungai Terah, to “influence Malays to vote for PAS” for the Galas by-election.

The article quoted Melaka Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam as saying that Lim’s alleged remarks were made in the presence of PAS spiritual advisor Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during a ceramah in Sungai Terah.

“What is said is that when Lim accused Umno Malays of being 'kafir', PAS members greeted his remarks with shouts of 'Allahuakbar'. Should we support this party which has deviated from Islam’s true teachings?” said Ali Rustam during a function in Kampung Baru Hulu.

Kit Siang said today that since the “false” news report, Umno Youth Putrajaya had lodged a police report against him.

“I myself will lodge a police report in Gua Musang and will instruct my lawyer to take action against Ali Rustam for defamation,” said Kit Siang.

Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who was at the press conference, demanded that Berita Harian withdraws the report and issues an apology.

“No DAP leader has ever said Umno is kafir. We are not Muslims, so how we say someone is kafir?” Guan Eng noted. -- The Malaysian Insider

How can you not love her?

“Today, we are facing groups like Perkasa, racist groups that are supported by Umno. That was why I challenged (Perkasa chief) Ibrahim Ali, eventhough I am Malay and Muslim. I cannot support those who are racist. We don’t want Malay-saja… we want a Malaysia. We must fight racial politics” – YB Nurul Izzah, urging the Chinese voters in Galas to give their vote to PAS and reject the race-based politics of BN, as reported in FreeMalaysiaToday.

Climate Change Devastates Oceans

Image(Asia Sentinel) Even as warming seas trigger unprecedented species decline, policymakers avoid climate-change action

Legislators, scientists and conservationists meet again in Nagoya, Japan, under the gathering clouds of species extinction to discuss the state of Earth's biodiversity at the Tenth Conference of Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity.

It takes place amidst discouraging news.

The convention's Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 reports that the target, set in 2002, to achieve significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 has failed. Underlying causes of continued loss of biodiversity include habitat loss, unsustainable use and overexploitation of biological resources, climate change, invasive species and pollution.

There is some good news in this report on localized or partial success in stemming some of these pressures. However, while climate change is viewed as a threat of "increasing significance," it's remarkable that this document does not call for international agreement on an effective course of action to tackle climate change with utmost urgency.

Without such an agreement, humankind will be the causative agent of a planetary extinction expected to rival the five great extinctions recorded in geological history.

Coral reefs are the most species-rich marine ecosystems on Earth. Despite only comprising about 0.2 percent of the area of the oceans, coral reefs host a quarter of all marine fish species and perhaps 1 to 3 million marine species in total. In economic terms, they provide goods and services estimated up to $375 billion per annum. Around 500 million to 1 billion people rely on coral reefs for food, and 30 million of the world's poorest people in coastal communities depend entirely on reefs as their primary means of food production and livelihood.

The impacts of climate change are already apparent on coral reefs. There's no need to resort to models that forecast the effects of increased global temperatures on coral-reef ecosystems and the species associated with them, the evidence is there. In the late 1970s the first mass coral-bleaching events were recorded. This phenomenon is associated with abnormally high sea-surface temperatures and results from the corals ejecting algal symbionts from their tissues.

The symbionts, microscopic plants, produce energy from photosynthesis and provide corals with most of their nutrients. Once these are ejected from coral tissues, the corals change from various shades of brown to a bleached white color; if warm conditions are prolonged, the corals die.

Mass coral bleaching has increased in frequency as sea-surface temperatures have steadily increased in response to global warming. In 1998, a single mass bleaching event reached across the tropics and killed 16 percent of all the world's shallow-water coral reefs. At the Nagoya conference, news that another large-scale mass coral bleaching event affecting the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean and Caribbean has occurred in 2010, potentially rivaling that of 1998 in severity, is particularly unwelcome. By the middle of the century the steady increase in SSTs will make bleaching annual events, laying waste to corals reefs globally.

However, global warming is not the whole story of CO2-induced climate change. The oceans have been absorbing a large proportion of the CO2 produced by humankind. When absorbed by seawater, CO2 forms carbonic acid and reduces pH, a measure of the acidity. So far a pH reduction of 0.1 units has been recorded by long-term ocean monitoring stations around the globe suggesting the oceans are becoming more acidic.

This change may seem tiny, but in fact represents a major shift in the oceans' chemistry. A pH change of 0.1 represents 30 percent more hydrogen ions in surface waters. These hydrogen ions react with calcium carbonate, the raw material that corals use to build their skeletons, converting it to bicarbonate, a process known as ocean acidification. Reduction in the availability of calcium carbonate has profound implications for coral reefs. Both corals, and other organisms that build and connect intricate structures of a reef, grow shells or skeletons out of calcium carbonate. As concentrations of this mineral decline in seawater, the growth rates of corals and other organisms also decrease. Already growth of corals is slowing down in several major reef areas of the world, and acidification is thought to be at least partially responsible.

Ocean acidification has been found to have other unexpected effects on the marine animals. For example, clown fish lose their ability to discriminate between the reef on which they were spawned and other reef habitats, possibly less favorable for their growth and survival.

Ocean acidification not only affects the tropics. If CO2 emissions continue to increase at the present rate, parts of the polar-ocean surface become under-saturated with calcium carbonate by the middle of the century. This means they will actually become corrosive to calcium carbonate. The consequences on marine food webs in high latitudes are not understood.

We know that careful management of coral-reef ecosystems helps them to recover from the impacts of a mass-bleaching event. Fishing has a profound influence on reef recovery because the removal of grazing fish species allows algae to smother a damaged reef and prevent re-colonization of the reef substrata by coral larvae. Sustainable management of fishing and prevention of destructive fishing practices maintain reef health and improve resilience to climate-change impacts. Likewise, the presence of sediments and pollutants can also damage reef health and inhibit reef recovery.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook points out that careful management of the largest reef, the Great Barrier Reef, will give it "the best chance of adapting to and recovering from" serious threats, "especially those related to climate change." This statement is wholly misleading and underlies a fallacy that permeates current discussions on action to reduce CO2 emissions.

Observations indicate that already, at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of ~380ppm, coral reefs are in decline as a result of climate-change effects combined with direct human impacts. At a CO2 level of 450ppm and beyond, which will be reached by the 2030s, mass coral bleaching will progressively destroy most coral reefs in shallow waters. Sometime in the third quarter of this century, CO2 levels will move beyond 560ppm, a point at which ocean acidification will adversely affect carbonate levels at the surface of most oceans.

Coral reefs at this point will be in an uncontrolled decline from which recovery will be unlikely. Climate negotiations are currently discussing 450ppm atmospheric CO2 level as a target for stabilization, not peak emissions. This means that, at best, careful management of coral reef ecosystems will postpone demise by a few decades. This may give human populations some chance of adaptation to the destruction of these ecosystems, but it will not save the biodiversity associated with coral reefs. By the end of the century we will have lost the most beautiful, most diverse and in socioeconomic terms, one of the most valuable marine ecosystems on the planet.

At the Tenth Conference of Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity, there will be calls for more protected areas, greater action to restore populations of threatened species, more efforts to reduce consumption of biological resources and destruction of habitats.
But the elephant in the room that is climate change cannot be ignored. Beyond direct actions to protect biodiversity the message must be delivered clearly, without compromise, that failure to take action on climate change and curb CO2 emissions immediately and drastically will result in ecological catastrophe. The consequent loss of biodiversity and ecosystem goods and services will significantly impact the Earth and along with it humankind.

Alex David Rogers is a professor with the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. This is reprinted with permission from YaleGlobal, the magazine of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.

Kit Siang denies ‘Umno kafir’ remark


DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang has denied a news report that he had dubbed bitter rivals Umno as kafir (infidels) during a ceramah (political talk) in Gua Musang, pointing out that he was not even present at the event.

“It is a slanderous report… I have never been there. This is very irresponsible and they are doing it to propagate hatred,” Lim told a press conference at the Parliament lobby today.

Malay-language daily Berita Harian had claimed that Lim made the remark during a ceramah on Monday in Kampung Baru Hulu, Sungai Terap while campaigning for the Galas by-election in Kelantan.

PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim were said to have been at the event as well.

Yesterday, the daily quoted Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam (left) as saying that Lim had been coached by PAS leaders to speak in that manner.

Mohd Ali further claimed that what made matters worse was that the crowd had chanted ‘God is great’ after the remark was made.

Retraction, apology demanded

On a police report against him by Putrajaya Umno’s Youth wing, Lim said the movement had acted on information in a report which was “clearly fictitious”.

He said DAP will lodge a police report in Gua Musang today over the report and that his lawyers have also been instructed to take legal action against Ali Rustam.

Party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who was at the press conference, demanded that Berita Harian withdraws the report and issues an apology.

“No DAP leader has ever said Umno is kafir. We are not Muslims, so how we say someone is kafir?” he noted.

Police reports against Ali Rustam

In another development, at least three police reports have been lodged by DAP representatives against Mohd Ali over the Berita Harian report.

The reports were lodged by Thomas Su, DAP’s election director for the Galas by-election, DAP Youth secretary Teo Kok Seong and DAP women’s wing deputy secretary Leong Mee Meng.

In the report the three said that Mohd Ali’s statement contained elements of slander and was done in bad faith to incite hatred among different ethnic and religious groups.

BN Ready To Compete Against Anyone In Next Polls, Says PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 (Bernama) -- Barisan Nasional (BN) is prepared to take on anyone in the next general election and not be intimidated by the ongoing sodomy trial of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"We are willing to compete against anyone, this is democracy. Let the best party chosen by the people form the government," said Najib, who is also BN chairman.

He made these remarks in a recorded interview on CNN's TalkAsia aired Wednesday night when asked by anchor Anna Coren whether Anwar, the former deputy prime minister, would be a threat to BN in the next general election.

Najib also refuted claims that the trial was politically motivated to keep Anwar, the current Opposition leader, out of the picture in the next general election, which some speculated would be held next year.

"That is what he likes to say, but the facts do not support that. The government would not be able to charge him if not for the complaints made by his former assistant. We wouldn't want to charge him in the first place.

"It's not a choice and we don't plan for this. It so happened that his own (former) employee made a criminal complaint against him. We just have to take it from there," he said.

Najib added that the ruling coalition would explain to the people that the trial was purely "an individual thing" and that it had nothing to do with the government.

Najib also disclosed that he has good personal relationship with former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad despite the elder statesman's sometimes strong statements on his policies.

"Dr Mahathir has a strong mind and strong opinions. I don't expect him to be with me on every single issue. But most importantly, he supports the government, supports my leadership," he said.