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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi released

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's pro-democracy leader, has been released after seven years of house arrest.

News agencies quoted witnesses as saying that she was meeting crowds of supporters at the gate of her home in Yangon, Myanmar's main city, soon after her release on Saturday.

Earlier, witnesses said hundreds of people rushed to her home after the authorities removed barbed-wire barricades in front of her compound.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who heads the country's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), later appeared at the gate of her compound, the crowd chanted, cheered and sang the national anthem.

"We must work together in unison to achieve our goal," she told the cheering crowd.

Al Jazeera's special correspondent reporting from near her home in Yangon said the crowd let out a huge cheer when the police vehicle left the compound, ending the latest period of arrest.

"Where I'm standing now, I can see no security forces around her house. The barricades that have been in place for the last seven years were moved aside to allow those people to come in.

"It was almost impossible for her to speak," our special correspondent said, adding that the cheering did not die down for at least 20 or 30 minutes while she stood there.

A smiling Aung San Suu Kyi wearing a traditional jacket and a flower in her hair told the crowd that she will stay inside her house tonight.

Close to 1,000 people, including journalists, had gathered near her lakeside house throughout the day, many chanting "Release Aung San Suu Kyi" and "Long live Aung San Suu Kyi". Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with messages pledging to stand with her.

Release order

Reuters news agency reported quoting a witness that Aung San Suu Kyi, met a lawyer and a doctor inside her home shortly before she appeared at the gate.

A government official said the release order was read by the authorities to her.

Aung San Suu Kyi's latest detention, which was due to expire on Saturday, dates from last August when a court found she had broken a security law by allowing an American intruder to stay at her home for two nights.

The release of one of the world's most prominent political prisoners came a week after an election that was swept by military-backed candidates and decried by many nations as a sham designed to perpetuate authoritarian control.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Nyo Myint, an NLD spokesperson, said: "I have no words to say. She just sacrificed for the people, who have really suffered. This is the moment that we the Burmese people hoped for more than 20 years.

"All the international leaders, not only the US president but also the Chinese president, Asean, [the] UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon should visit Burma [as it was known then] as soon as possible."

Nyo Myint said the problem was that the ruling generals have not changed anything in the past 20 years.

"We thank the people supporting the Burmese democratisation, but we need to have it more solid and more national reconciliation," he added.

World reaction

In an immediate reaction, Barack Obama, the US president, said in a statement released by the White House press office that the US welcomes her "long overdue" release.

"She is a hero of mine and a source of inspiration for all who work to advance basic human rights in Burma and around the world," Obama said in the statement.

"Whether Aung San Suu Kyi is living in the prison of her house, or the prison of her country, does not change the fact that she, and the political opposition she represents, has been systematically silenced, incarcerated, and deprived of any opportunity to engage in political processes that could change Burma."

Obama said it was time for the military government to release all other political prisoners.

Surin Pitsuwan, the secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said on Saturday he was "very, very relieved" with her release and hoped that she will not be detained again.

"I'm very, very relieved and hope that this will contribute to true national reconciliation in Myanmar and that Aung San Suu Kyi will be able to play a role in bringing national reconciliation," Surin told AFP.

Asean is a 10-member regional bloc which includes Myanmar.

Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of external websites

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

PKR=UMNO,PKR more religious suprermacist than UMNO-no Hindu temple in Malay majority housing estates says Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim

Which housing estate in Malaysia is not malay majority.But PKR preaches to be multi racial.Where is the multi-racialsm here.Why are there no problems when there is a Mosque or surau in an Indian area.In 99% Indian area Brickfields there is a grand new surau but no problems. Simple act of bully by PKR,DAP,PAS and also UMNO/BN


MCA wants clear laws on faith conversions for children

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — The MCA has demanded amendments to allow children to keep their
Loh (centre) says the law should be ammended to allow children to keep their original faith until they can decide on their own if one of their parents convert to Islam. — Picture by Jack Ooi
original faith until they can decide on their own if one of their parents convert to Islam, in the aftermath of several cases recently.

The country’s top court yesterday unanimously dismissed S. Shamala’s bid to raise her two young children as Hindus, after she questioned their conversion to Islam by her estranged Hindu-turned-Muslim husband eight years ago.

MCA deputy publicity chief, Loh Seng Kok said the law should be amended to specifically provide that in the event both parents cannot agree on the child’s faith, then it should remain status quo until the child reaches the age of maturity.

“The government must act forthwith to table to Parliament the necessary amendments to the various laws to give effect to the Cabinet decision of 23 April 2009 that if one spouse embraces Islam, the children should follow the faith that the parents agreed on at the time of marriage or implied by their common religion,” Loh said in a statement.

He said the law is consistent and complies with the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedwa).

“Such amendments if passed by Parliament would go a long way to fortify the 1 Malaysia spirit and intent,” he added.

The MCA man also said that the five issues raised by Shamala should be addressed by the court.

“MCA believe that whilst the Court was constrained, the Judges could have at least attempted to provide their views on the issues referred to them by way of obiter dictum. Although the views if expressed, would not be a binding precedent, they would provide clear guidance to lower courts and litigants as well as other stakeholders,” he said.

He claimed the court was “unable and unwilling” to address the five issues and suggested that the Parliament review laws relevant to this matter, particularly Section 5 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961.

Yesterday’s 5-0 ruling effectively deals a hard blow to the battle to end one-sided religious conversions, which has caused a deep rift in this multicultural and secular nation but where Islam is recognised as the official creed.

The panel of five of the nation’s most senior judges, led by Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi, ruled that Shamala must return to the country if she wants the court’s protection.

The 38-year-old mother fled the country with her two sons in 2004. Their current location is unknown.

The other four judges had ruled to have Shamala’s challenge thrown out with immediate effect, without hearing the five constitutional questions she had raised.

The five questions are as follows:

1. Whether section 95 (b) of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 is ultra vires of Article 12 (4) of the Federal Constitution (specifically concerning the right to determine the religion of the children under the age of 18 shall be determined by the parent or guardian) and Article 8 regarding equality rights?

2. Whether the same section in state law is inconsistent with federal law, namely section 5(1) of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961, and is therefore invalid?

3. Regarding Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution, where a custody order of children is made which court, between the Syariah Court or the High Court, is the higher authority?

4. When there is conversion of children of a civil marriage to Islam by one parent without the consent of the other, are the rights of remedy for the non-Muslim parent vested in the High Court?

5. Does the Syariah Court have jurisdiction to determine the validity of conversion of a minor into Islam once it had been registered by the Registrar of Muallafs?

The Federal Territory Islamic Council was also a party to the suit, and had sided with the father for his rights as a Muslim to be upheld.

Indian cops detain two in Malaysian triple murder

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu police today arrested two men to facilitate investigations into the murder of a Malaysian woman and her two children in Madurai last Monday.

Initial police investigations have revealed that the suspects, aged 29 and 30, were known to the woman, M Adhila Banu's family and that the killings might be linked to a dispute involving family property.

"We arrested the two suspects, following details given by the victim's mother. We suspect it is property-related dispute which let to the kidnapping and murder (of the woman and her children).

"By tomorrow, we are sure of arresting the people behind (who masterminded) the killings," Vadipatti police inspector PR Lakshmanan told Bernama.

The decomposed bodies of Adhila, daughter Ajira Banu, five, and son Mohd Aslan, seven, were found in a swollen canal at Vadipatti in Madurai, Tamil Nadu on Thursday morning.

The bodies of the children were located about 5km from the mother's body.

The victims, believed to have been strangled, were bound separately in white dhotis.

Adhila's husband, identified only as Muthusamy alias Mohammad, an Indian national with a Malaysian permanent resident visa, is currently working in Malaysia as a driver.

The triple murders have prompted the Indian police to conduct a massive probe in nearby districts, where nearly 20 people, including the woman's neighbours, relations and associates were questioned over the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Chennai-based Malaysian Consul-General Anuar Kasman told Bernama that he had sent Malaysian officers to Madurai to obtain more details on the killings.

"Our officers visited the woman's family today but they were not cooperative. It is a complicated case, it is beyond our jurisdiction, we leave it to the police," said Anuar.

- Bernama

Even the 'dead' voted in Batu Sapi

By Queville To - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: There were 156 voters who were more than 100 years old whose names appeared in the electoral rolls of the recently concluded Batu Sapi by-election.

But they were also found to be dead, with death certificates issued by the National Registration Department (NRD).

Tawau MP Chua Soon Bui revealed this in Parliament when questioning the competence of the Election Commission (EC) during the debate on Budget 2011 last week.

“We were told that the electoral roll has been cleaned up, but how come these names were still there? How many of these had been found to have voted in the recent Batu Sapi by-election? Please explain why such cases are still happening,” she asked.

She also demanded to know why more than 20 people were prevented from voting in Batu Sapi with their names replaced in the electoral roll with those of others but using their MyKad numbers.

Chua was also dissatisfied with the answer given by the EC officials in Batu Sapi that they could do nothing about it and that the affected voters should check their MyKad with the NRD.

She described such an answer as being irresponsible on the part of the EC, citing that in the first place the mistakes were made by them, hence it was their responsibility to rectify it with the NRD, instead of making the complainants run around.

“I hope the EC would view it seriously because these voters demand a satisfactory explanation,” she said.

She also wanted to know why government officers such as the navy, police and General Operations Force personnel who had been posted away from Batu Sapi were still allowed to cast their postal votes there.

“What is the EC policy on these serving officers who have been moved to other constituencies? Why aren't their postal votes transferred to the new constituencies of their current posting?” she asked.

Chua also asked how much money was spent by the EC in the Batu Sapi and Galas by-elections.

Crusading to save Sarawak's soul

By FMT Staff

KUCHING: Native customary land rights lawyer Baru Bian is a relatively quiet man when compared to his peers in politics.

In fact, many have speculated as to whether Bian, who is PKR Sarawak chief, is “fit” for politics because he doesn't appear to have the “verbosity” and “savviness” often associated with politicians.

But Bian is unperturbed by his perceived shortcomings. He is a man who believes in leaving strong impressions on the public mind.

Emblazoned across his website is a banner that reads: "Baru Bian will bring the change that Sarawak desperately needs. He will return the trees, the lands and the rivers to the people. Corruption will stop... Baru won't steal."

Succinct enough to let one know that he is alluding to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his destructive policies towards Sarawak's natural forest.

Sarawak is on the threshold of losing its “soul” and Bian, along with the state's “younger sons” are hell-bent on not letting this happen.

In a rare blog ( posting about himself, Bian writes that his guiding principle was a proverb from the Bible which reads: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

“This has always been the guiding principle and foundation of my career as a lawyer," he said.

Recalling his early years, Bian said it was filled with youthful idealism and dreams of becoming an effective citizen of this “free country”.

“I returned to Sarawak after spending two years in Kuala Lumpur. My primary intention was to work with the natives on issues involving their forest and native customary rights (NCR) and native customary land (NCL).

"I didn't realise then that these legal battles would become a part of my life and a norm to fight for the preservation and protection of native lands against loggers, quarry operators, tree planters, oil palm plantation owners and housing developers," he said, adding that his first land rights case involved his own relatives against six logging operators who had encroached into NCL in Lawas district.

Source of life

Bian is among Sarawak's better known NCR lawyers and he is of the opinion that to understand Sarawak it is essential to appreciate the importance of the forest in native lives.

“To the natives, the forest is their source of life and the land their very foundation.

"To them, both forest and land represent ‘life’ itself. These forests, virgin or otherwise, are called ‘pemakai menoa’ or simply ‘menua’.

"Pemakai menoa is an area of land held by a distinct longhouse or village community, which include farms, gardens, fruit groves, cemetery, water source and forest within a defined boundary (garis menoa) normally following streams, watersheds, ridges and permanent landmarks."

Bian said within these boundaries, one may find farming land called “temuda” and virgin forests called “pulau”.

The “temuda”, he said, includes land deliberately left to lie fallow for varying periods of time for the soil to regain fertility and for the regeneration of forest produce.

The “pulau” is specifically preserved to ensure, among others, a steady supply of natural resources like rattan, wild fruits and timber and to protect and preserve water catchments areas and for the hunting of wild animals.

"For the natives, this is the most logical way to sustain and manage the forests and land for the sake of future generations," he said.

Development politics

In the mid-1980s, the Sarawak government launched the so-called “politics of development”.

Bian said the rationale behind the policy was to "eradicate poverty among the natives by allowing their idle land to be developed by outsiders”.

“It also allowed investors into large oil palm plantations or other enterprises on the basis of shared equity.

"This inevitably led to tension between the government and the natives who felt that it was an act of intrusion that deprived them of their rights," he said.

The government’s action, Bian wrote, was however undermined by conflicting definitions of what constitutes NCR or NCL; and blatant disregard for local sentiments and customs in the implementation of the policy.

He said that according to the government, only farm land (temuda) cultivated before Jan 1, 1958 are recognised as NCL.

“But the natives, however, take the view that NCL includes pemakai menua, pulau and temuda created before Jan 1, 1958 under the provisions of the Land Code of Sarawak.

"The government, on the other hand, regards any uncultivated land or virgin forests as state land, and therefore pulaus are not NCL.

"Herein lies the dispute: many logging and quarry licences, oil palm plantation and tree planting leases issued to investors encroach into pulaus, water catchment areas, even farm lands or temuda."

Morally wrong

Bian said that in the 1980s, natives were already up in arms against the rampant destruction of their forests by unscrupulous timber operators.

"They were mounting blockades against these operators to protect their forests and NCL. These blockades were acts of desperation that reflected the hopelessness of the natives."

He said that in 1990, the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) sent a team to Sarawak to investigate the impact of the logging industry on the lives of the natives.

"I had the privilege of meeting the team twice and expressed my views on the matter.

"I emphasised that half of the problems would have been solved if the operators respect and recognised the rights of natives over their lands and forests, and carried out proper negotiations with the natives in the hope of attaining mutual benefits.

"My advice went unheeded. Nothing much has changed since then," he said, adding that it is his personal belief that the disregard of native rights over their lands and forests "is not only unlawful and improper, but also morally wrong”.

'Stop cheating': PKR protesters want polls halted

By G Vinod

PETALING JAYA: About 80 people turned up at the PKR headquarters here today in a bid to pressure the party leadership to halt the ongoing party election allegedly marred by irregularities.

The crowd arrived at about 10.30am, led by former PKR deputy presidential aspirant P Jenapala and former Kota Raja division chief, KS Kotappan. They demanded that the controversial party polls be halted and restarted from the division level itself.

“We want the central election committee (CEC) to stop the party polls. If it continues, it will mean that the party is cheating the public,” said Kotappan.

Kotappan claimed there were discrepancies in the last electoral list, which proved the existence of phantom voters.

“The same phantom voters will be voting again for the central leadership election,” he said.

He added that it was unfair that the party was still going through with the polls as the CEC has suspended the results from several divisions.

“There may be others who are interested to run for central leadership positions. How are they going to nominate their candidates now?”he asked.

When asked whether he agreed with supreme council member Zaid Ibrahim's recent outbursts on party de facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim, and another deputy presidential hopeful, Azmin Ali, Kotappan said there might be some truth in it.

“Zaid is a smart man. I am sure there is truth in his claims,” he said.

On Nov 8, Zaid pulled out from the deputy presidential race in protest against the alleged electoral irregularities. He blamed Anwar and Azmin for the electoral melee and urged them to step down.

'No such position'

Kotappan's sentiments were echoed by Jenapala, who said Anwar had no right to interfere in the election process.

“There is no such position called a de facto leader in the party and he should not get involved in party affairs,” said Jenapala.

He also urged party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to step forward to end the electoral fiasco.

“However, if she wants to remain behind her husband's (Anwar) shadows, then she is not fit as well (to lead),” said Jenapala.

On Zaid's recent outbursts, he said he cannot blame the former law minister as he was also aware of the alleged manipulation in the party polls.

“So far, 162 complaints had been filed but none of them had been investigated,” claimed Jenapala.

Meanwhile, a group of youths claiming to be PKR members, said they did not know why they were brought to the party headquarters.

“All I know was that someone called Anand asked me to tag along with the crowd,” claimed R Logan, 19, who was joined by his friend, S Yuganathan 19.

Kamisah Ripin, 75, also said she has no idea what the protest was all about, and that she came just to show “support”.

“They told me to come show 'support'. So I came along,” said Kamisah.

When queried on the matter, Jenapala said while there might be some people “planted” in the crowd, almost everyone knew why they participated in the protest.

“Maybe they were not briefed earlier but they are all PKR members,” claimed Jenapala.

The crowd dispersed peacefully at about 12 noon.

Raja Petra on PKR's Chances in GE13

Mom in non-halal uproar wants school to act

By Joe Fernandez

KOTA KINABALU: Angela Jabing Beginda, whose 10-year old son Basil was caned 10 times on Oct 15 by the Muslim senior assistant of his mission school in Kuching for bringing non-halal food for his recess break, wants principal Alice Chung to act on the matter instead of waiting for the education department.

“It’s not necessary for Chung to wait for the outcome of a disciplinary committee set up by the department,” said Beginda last night. “St Thomas Primary School can act on its own accord if its regulations have been breached.”

She was commenting on a press statement on Nov 11 by Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department, Fatimah Abdullah, who gave the state government’s stand on the matter.

Renewing “the school must act first theme”, Beginda pointed out that the senior assistant, Iskander Fadeli, from Simunjan, was not among the four teachers authorised by the school to cane students. For this infringement alone, Beginda said, she wants Chung to show some backbone and either do what is right or step aside, “failing which be put on the carpet by the school board”.

Dismissing Fatimah’s version, she stressed that the Nov 9 meeting at the school did not resolve that no action should be taken against Iskander. “What the meeting decided was that the school board did not have the authority to take any form of disciplinary action against the senior assistant,” said Beginda. “So, it was decided to leave the matter in the hands of the disciplinary committee.”

Fatimah also disclosed that the education department will soon decide on how best to deal with the senior assistant who has since admitted caning Basil. The form of action to be taken will depend on recommendations to be made by the disciplinary committee set up by the department.

The disciplinary committee is currently going through the report of a meeting of various parties held on Nov 9. The mission school has reportedly left the caning incident in the hands of the department since the disciplinary panel also includes its members besides the department and its divisional office.

“It’s up to the disciplinary committee to decide... as long as it’s fair and appropriate,” said Fatimah.

'A good lesson'

Fatimah could not explain why the school couldn’t take action against the senior assistant for caning a student without being duly authorised to do so.

Instead, Fatimah stressed the caning incident was “a good lesson” for the school, the senior assistant and the parents of the boy concerned.

“It’s also a learning process. We must learn from our mistakes,” said Fatimah. “The school and the senior assistant have learnt the best way to tackle similar cases if they happen again in the future.”

Fatimah also took issue with a February circular by the education department banning the sale of non-halal food at school canteens in the state. She deems it “inappropriate” and not because the Muslims are in a definite minority in Sarawak.

“We live in a multiracial country,” said Fatimah. “Some schools are 100% non-Muslim, some are mixed while others are 100% Muslim.”

She said it’s more important that parents educate their children – on sensitivities – although the Ministry of Education “has given leeway to schools to have their own rules and regulations”.

She urged that schools make their regulations clear and explain nicely to the students and parents before misunderstandings arise.

She has a particular message for non- Muslim parents.

“If your children bring non-halal food to school, they should have it alone and not pass them to Muslim friends,” she said without relating it to the caning incident.

There has been no suggestion so far that Basil offered his non-halal food – friend rice with pork sausages – to any Muslim student at the school.

Two conditions

According to Beginda, it was the senior assistant’s son who confirmed for his father that Basil had brought non-halal food to school on that fateful day. This was after a Muslim boy, an Alif, complained to the senior assistant about Basil bringing non-halal food to school. The tell-tale boy had apparently gone over to the corner of the school hall where Basil was finishing his food to check on what he was eating.

“My son would never share his food with anyone,” said Beginda. “He’s very stingy about that.”

Beginda also clarified that she’s giving the disciplinary committee another week to take appropriate action against the senior assistant.

Beginda said that she doesn’t want the caning incident to veer off in other directions involving questions over the religious status of her husband, Beginda Anak Minda from Kapit.

She said that her husband, an Iban like her, remains a pagan while she and her children are Christians of the Anglican Church. She’s from Engkili but resident in Kuching where she’s attached to the Sarawak chapter of PKR as executive secretary.

She expressed willingness last Tuesday, albiet grudgingly, to accept a belated apology from the senior assistant for the caning incident. The senior assistant did not refer to the caning incident when he apologised, according to Beginda.

However, she has set two conditions if she’s to accept the apology.

She wants the senior assistant to be removed from the school for caning her son. Beginda made the demand on the grounds that her son “lives in fear of the senior assistant”, had been traumatised by the incident and that the senior assistant had acted arbitrarily.

She also wants the education department to clarify a February circular on halal food. The department had promised to issue an immediate clarification on the circular which states that no non-halal food can be sold at school canteens, according to Beginda.

“They should state their stand on the sale of beef and other meat as well, besides pork, since these are not allowed by certain faiths and vegans.”

Beginda’s first request, however, is under consideration by the department pending disciplinary action against Iskander.

Tengku Adnan: Umno will not accept Zaid back

By Bernama

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 13 — Umno will not accept former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim back into the party, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said.

“Zaid, we have expelled him. Why should we take him back?” he said when asked on Zaid’s chance should he want to return to Umno’s fold.

“He will also give us problems. We don’t like to have people who give problems. We want people who join our party, the Barisan Nasional(BN) component parties, to understand the party struggle, not those who want to pursue their own interests,” he told reporters after opening the convocation day for Kemas kindergartens in Putrajaya today.

On November 8, Zaid announced his withdrawal as a candidate for the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy president’s post and resignation from all party posts following allegations that there was no transparency in the party election.

However, Zaid, who was expelled from Umno in December 2008 and then joined PKR six months later, has yet to voice his intention to return to Umno’s fold.

There have only been reports of his intention to form a new party.

Letter From Malaysia:The Malay Dilemma

From New Yoker

By Ian Bruma

LETTER FROM MALAYSIA about opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and the ethnic and religious problems facing the country. Anwar Ibrahim has come back from six years in prison on corruption and sodomy charges to become the best hope for a more democratic, less corrupt Malaysia. This is the same Anwar Ibrahim who had once been at the heart of the Malaysian establishment.

He was poised to succeed Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad until he launched an attack on “nepotism” and “cronyism” in his own party, the United Malays National Organization. The “cronies” included members of Mahathir’s family and in 1998, Anwar was removed from the cabinet and from UMNO. He was charged with corruption and sodomy and was beaten while awaiting trial. Mentions accusations that Anwar is a Jewish agent. Released from prison in 2004, Anwar eventually returned to Parliament in a landslide. In the next general election, possibly as soon as 2010, Anwar Ibrahim may well become Prime Minister. Writer discusses the role of race and religion in Malaysia. The country’s population is more than half Malay, defined by ethnicity and Muslim faith, but large numbers of Chinese and Indians arrived in the nineteenth century.

Discusses Mahathir’s 1970 book “The Malay Dilemma,” in which he argues that the Malays could not compete with the Chinese for genetic reasons and needed to be protected with affirmative action and mandatory ownership of business enterprises lest the Chinese and Indians take over. The book was banned, but activists succeeded in distributing copies to Malay students, including Anwar, who was president of the Malaysian Muslim Students Union. Tells how Mahathir and Anwar steadily gained influence until Mahanthir became Prime Minister. Anwar was brought into the government to help implement Mahanthir’s ethnic theories.

He did so until the late nineteen-nineties, when the consequences had become too blatant to ignore. Writer observes Mahathir (who is no longer Prime Minister) speaking at a demonstration protesting the Israeli attack on Gaza. Tells about Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Izzah, who was elected to Parliament in 2008 and who wears the Muslim headscarf. Discusses the growth of independent blogs and alternative-news Web sites in the late nineties in Malaysia, including Malaysiakini, which was inspired by Anwar’s call for political change. Describes the obstacles that need to be overcome before Anwar’s coalition of opposition parties is ready to rule. Briefly tells about the current Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Please Klik Here For View The Article BURUMA~2

PBB Vice-president Breaks Silence On Political Future

KUCHING, Nov 13 (Bernama) -- Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman has finally broken his silence on his political future and medical condition which has been a subject of intense speculation in the state since last month.

The assistant minister in the Chief Minister's Office (Islamic Affairs) admitted that if the state election was held this year, he might call it a day as his health would not permit it.

"(However) If the state election (was held) next year, Insya-Allah I think I can continue but I will leave the final decision (whether he would be re-nominated or not) to party president and Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud to decide," he told reporters after attending the Zasa Kindergarten convocation here Saturday.

On his medical condition which sparked speculation that he might quit politics for good, Daud, 59, who has been Tupong assemblyman since 1991, said the doctor has advised him to rest after suffering a minor stroke, about six weeks ago.

"The minor stroke has affected my, I have fully recovered but need a rest," he said, adding that he was given medical leave until Monday.

Credited for transforming Tabung Baitulmal Sarawak into one of the best managed financial institutions in the country, as well as strengthening the image of Islam among Muslims and non-Muslims in the state, he was also renowned for being outspoken, especially when touching on Islamic development in the state.

On a claim by Beginda Minda -- the father of a 10-year-old student who was caned for bringing non-halal food to a school in Kuching -- who denied he was Muslim, Daud said the Jabatan Islam Sarawak (Jais) would check with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) as Jais had no record of Beginda converting to Islam.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz had said that the Government asked Jakim to investigate Beginda's religious status, following a debate in Parliament on whether Beginda's son, Basil, was raised as Muslim or Christian.

Society seeks way to protect Hindu parents’ rights

The Malaysian Insider 
by Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — The Malaysian Hindu Sangam is checking with its lawyers for a way to keep alive S. Shamala’s conversion challenge after it was dismissed by the nation’s highest court earlier today.

A five-man panel of the nation’s most senior judges, led by Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi, ruled to close the case of the 38-year-old mother who wants the Federal Court to recognise her right to raise her two young children as Hindus.

“We feel disappointed with the decision. We are also checking with our lawyers on what next we can do because from the first day we have been involved,” the Hindu society’s president Mohan Shanmugam told The Malaysian Insider.

“The conversion was not done right,” an upset-sounding Mohan added.

The society has been keeping tabs on the court case of Shamala’s bid to raise her children Saktiwaran and Theivaswaran in the religion they were born into, for the last eight years.

Shamala had married anaesthetist Dr Jeyaganesh C. Mogarajah in 1998. Her husband was a Hindu at that time but embraced Islam four years later.

He converted their two children into his new-found religion shortly after without Shamala’s knowledge or agreement.

Both parents are in a bitter fight to gain custody over Saktiwaran and Theivaswaran, now aged 11 and nine respectively, and to be allowed to raise them in their respective religions.

Under Malaysian Islamic law, a child necessarily becomes Muslim when one parent enters the faith.

But Shamala claims the federal constitution, the supreme law of the land, provides that she has an equal right as a parent and guardian to decide the religion for children below 18.

Malaysia has a dual-track justice system that allows Muslims to seek legal redress in the Syariah Court, but not non-Muslims.

Dr Jeyaganesh, now also known as Muhammad Ridwan, went to the Syariah Court and won full custody while Shamala, a Hindu, resorted to the civil High Court.

She was awarded custody as well, but was ordered to allow her estranged husband weekend visits.

Shamala appealed the ruling but fled the country with the two children in 2004 before the court could hear the case.

For a while, they were believed to be in Australia, but Shamala’s current whereabouts, as well as that of Saktiwaran and Theivaswaran , remain unknown.

Today’s ruling dealt a hard blow to the battle to end one-sided religious conversions, which has caused a deep rift in this multicultural and secular nation but where Islam is recognised as the official creed.

Zaki, in his grounds of judgment, noted that Shamala had gained an unfair advantage over her husband when she breached a court order allowing the father the right to visit the two children.

“By doing so, she had unlawfully had custody of the children and even if the court were to examine the children now as to who would they chose to live with, most likely they will choose to live with the wife,” the top judge said.

The Federal Court said it cannot adopt a “fugitive doctrine of heads I win, tails you lose” in deciding the basic rights for either parent.

“Parties must have equal footing and not unfair representation,” Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said in his judgment.

Tindakan jika persoal hak bumiputera

Utusan Malaysia 

KUALA LUMPUR 12 Nov. - Tindakan undang-undang di bawah Akta Hasutan 1948 boleh diambil terhadap sesiapa yang mempersoalkan mengenai hak bumiputera kerana ia telah termaktub di dalam Perlembagaan negara.

Pakar undang-undang, Profesor Salleh Buang berkata, hak bumiputera Sabah dan Sarawak adalah sama dengan hak orang Melayu dan kerana itu ia tidak boleh dipertikaikan.

"Hak itu tidak boleh dipersoalkan. Kita perlu berlapang dada bagi sebarang pertikaian dalam pelaksanaannya.

"Jika ada pihak yang persoalkan tentang hak itu, maka tindakan boleh diambil oleh pihak berkuasa," jelasnya ketika dihubungi Utusan Malaysia di sini hari ini.

Beliau mengulas kenyataan Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin semalam bahawa hak bumiputera Sabah dan Sarawak sudah termaktub dalam Perlembagaan dan tidak boleh dipinda sewenang-wenangnya.

Sementara itu, Dekan Fakulti Sains Pentadbiran dan Polisi, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Datuk Prof. Dr. Ramlah Adam berkata, segala hak bumiputera telah tertulis dengan jelas dalam Perlembagaan negara.

Beliau berkata, kerana itu, sebarang pindaan perlu mengikut prosedur yang terpaksa melalui beberapa peringkat.

Presiden Pertubuhan Pemikir Profesional Melayu Malaysia (PPPMM), Prof. Datuk Dr. Kamarudin Kachar berkata, kenyataan tegas Muhyiddin semalam adalah tepat dan perlu diingati oleh semua orang.

"Negara ditubuhkan dengan asas yang konkrit melalui Perlembagaan kita. Hak bumiputera yang ada bagi menjamin perpaduan antara kaum, pertumbuhan ekonomi dan kesejahteraan negara.

"Pihak lain diminta agar tidak mempersoalkan hak tersebut. Jangan kerana kepentingan sendiri atau politik, hak ini dipertikaikan," katanya.

Tambah Kamarudin, pihak-pihak tertentu juga diminta tidak menimbulkan salah faham serta rasa tidak selesa orang ramai mengenai hak itu.

"Lebih baik beri tumpuan untuk membangunkan negara dan perpaduan rakyat," jelasnya.

Ketua Umum Badan Bertindak Perpaduan Melayu (BBPM), Osman Abu Bakar berkata, perkara yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan perlu diikuti oleh seluruh rakyat Malaysia.

"Hak bumiputera tersebut tidak boleh dipertikaikan. Jika dipertikaikan, tindakan undang-undang boleh dikenakan ke atas mereka.

"Perlembagaan perlu dihormati tidak kira kaum dan agama untuk kesejahteraan semua," ujarnya.