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Thursday, December 9, 2010

WikiLeaks: Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll -- Saudi style

The cable suggested a thriving nightlife beneath the conservative facade of Jeddah's streets.

(CNN) -- "The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available -- alcohol, drugs, sex -- but strictly behind closed doors."

If you want to get your readers' attention, it's not a bad way to start. The language comes from a short but tantalizing U.S. diplomatic cable sent last year from the consulate in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia -- where alcohol is banned and carnal relations strictly regulated.

"Behind the facade of Wahabi conservatism in the streets, the underground nightlife for Jeddah's elite youth is thriving and throbbing," the cable begins.

In evidence, then Consul General Martin Quinn refers to a Halloween party last year. The redacted cable reads: "Along with over 150 young Saudis (men and women mostly in their 20s and early 30s), ConGenOffs accepted invitations to an underground Halloween party at Prince XXXX residence in Jeddah on XXXX."

"The scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the Kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables, and everyone in costume," it said.

The notorious Vice Police were nowhere to be seen "because the religious police keep their distance when parties include the presence or patronage of a Saudi royal and his circle of loyal attendants." There are literally thousands of princes in Saudi Arabia, but the host of this event was able to trace his lineage back to a direct ancestor of King Abdullah.

As for the details of the party, the cable continues: "The hired Filipino bartenders served a cocktail punch using sadiqi, a locally-made moonshine.... It was also learned through word-of-mouth that a number of the guests were in fact 'working girls,' not uncommon for such parties."

The cable goes on to make the point that black-market liquor is prohibitively expensive -- even for princes. A bottle of Smirnoff vodka might cost the equivalent of $400. "Additionally, though not witnessed directly at this event, cocaine and hashish use is common in these social circles and has been seen on other occasions," it adds.

The Consul General draws an interesting conclusion at the end of his dispatch. "Parties of this nature and scale are believed to be a relatively recent phenomenon in Jeddah. ...It is not uncommon in Jeddah for the more lavish private residences to include elaborate basement bars, discos, entertainment centers and clubs."

"As one high society Saudi remarked, "The increased conservatism of our society over these past years has only moved social interaction to the inside of people's homes."

Polls show PKR losing voter confidence

Confidence in Anwar has hit shaky ground, according to a recent Universiti Malaya poll. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — A recent Universiti Malaya opinion poll has revealed that 43 per cent of residents in PKR stronghold areas here will not support the party in the next general election due to a decline in confidence after its fractious polls last month.

A mere 35 per cent of those polled claimed they would continue to vote for PKR while 22 per cent said they were unsure.

The survey, conducted during the period of the party polls, also showed that 52 per cent of respondents agree that the party’s recent internal strife and leadership squabbles had significantly marred PKR’s voter confidence.

Even confidence in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition’s prime minister-designate, has hit shaky ground with 43 per cent claiming the fiery leader was still politically relevant while a close 41 per cent agreeing otherwise.

The remaining 16 per cent said they were unsure.

The poll, carried out by University Malaya’s Democratic Research and Elections Centre during the PKR polls last month between November 19 and 21 and November 27 and 28, sought the opinion of 1,124 respondents aged between 20 and 50 from opposition strongholds of Cheras, Bandar Tun Razak, Titiwangsa, Ampang, Bukit Bintang, Subang Jaya, Wangsa Maju and Lembah Pantai.

According to the survey report made available to the media yesterday, the respondents were selected as they were considered to be significantly exposed to the country’s political landscape and were mostly opposition supporters.

Additionally, Selangor and the Federal Territory had recorded the largest number of PKR members involved in the party elections.

The report noted that the survey was 95 per cent accurate, with a margin of error at 2.92 per cent.

On the whole, the survey found that the party’s recent infighting had caused a steep decline in public support for the Pakatan Rakyat giant, showing that the opposition would likely not fare well in the next general election, said to be held next year.

More significantly, the voter trend from other public opinion polls has also shown that Barisan Nasional, led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is now on its most solid footing yet since its dismal losses in Election 2008.

Politicians across the divide have also agreed that Najib, with his slew of development initiatives and transformative policies as well as the gradual recovery of the economy, has successfully proven his worth since he took office in 2008.

The just-concluded Batu Sapi and Galas by-elections have also shown that BN had gained significant ground with the public, further fuelled by PKR’s internal crisis.

The UM polls showed that a whopping 52 per cent of respondents agree that PKR’s internal strife had affected their confidence in the party and Anwar while only 29 per cent thought otherwise.

The remaining 19 per cent said they were unsure.

“PKR’s internal crisis had clearly caused a negative impact towards PKR and Anwar’s leadership,” the report said.

However, it added, the 29 per cent of staunch supporters showed there was still hope for the party to revitalise itself.

“This research also shows however that the public’s confidence had been eroded by PKR’s internal crisis, which in turn had also affected their confidence in Anwar.

“The responses showed that they are aware of the developments in PKR and this influenced their confidence towards the party and its leadership,” it added.

To the question of how far its internal problems had caused an erosion of confidence in the party alone, 49 per cent agreed that it had while 30 per cent claim they were still in support of PKR.

“The response corresponded with the public’s confidence in both PKR and its leader Anwar but there was also 21 per cent of those claiming they were unsure, which is quite a high number,” the report said.

It claimed that this showed efforts to topple the opposition party were still unsuccessful yet as a fair number of voters were still fence-sitters.

“The anti-PKR campaign conducted by its political rivals is still yet to produce positive results,” it said.

Perhaps the most critical information from the survey was on how 43 per cent of those polled claimed that they had lost confidence in PKR and would not vote for the party in the next elections.

A total of 35 per cent claim they would still choose the party while a large margin of 22 per cent said they were unsure.

“Although in terms of percentage, the numbers show that PKR’s support has declined significantly but the arena is still wide open for there appears to be a large number who are fence-sitters.

“Additionally, those who reject PKR have not gone past the 50 per cent mark,” the polls report said.

Gobind dares Najib to appoint non-Malay DPM

Gobind said 1 Malaysia ‘is not a policy that is going to see the light of day’ under Barisan Nasional. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — A DAP lawmaker has challenged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to appoint a non-Malay deputy prime minister in the spirit of his 1 Malaysia concept, which stresses national unity.

“I dare Najib Razak to appoint a Chinese or Indian deputy prime minister now,” Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo told some 800 people at a party fundraising dinner in Petaling Jaya last night.

The practising lawyer claimed 1 Malaysia “is not a policy that is going to see the light of day” under Barisan Nasional (BN) due to its racially-divisive politics.

“Do you honestly think that this will work in Barisan Nasional?” he asked the partisan crowd.

“I’ve said many times and I say it again. Look at Barisan Nasional itself — Umno, MCA, MIC. Umno for the Malays, MCA for the Chinese, MIC for the Indians. You talk about 1 Malaysia, one family. You don’t even have that in Barisan Nasional.”

Much ink has been spilled recently over who de facto opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will appoint as deputy prime minister should Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wrest Putrajaya from BN.

Utusan Malaysia claimed two weeks ago that Anwar had promised DAP national adviser Lim Kit Siang the post in such an event, prompting a round of denials by opposition leaders.

Anwar later clarified that every coalition leader, regardless of race, had a shot at becoming deputy prime minister, so long as the decision was “made with consensus” among PR component parties.

Every deputy prime minister since Malaysia’s independence has been held by a Malay from Umno.

Gobind, dubbed “The Little Lion of Puchong”, said that 1 Malaysia was no different from the Malaysian Malaysia concept championed by the DAP in the 1960s, and claimed BN co-opted the idea only after its poor showing in the last general election.

“Those days when our leaders talked loud about Malaysian Malaysia, they were arrested and sent to jail. It was seditious. You could not even question having 1 Malaysia,” he said.

“But after March 2008, suddenly Barisan Nasional realised that it’s time for them to talk about unity, it’s time for them to change,” said the son of party veteran and national chairman Karpal Singh.

'Keep off Taib's turf,' opposition warned

By FMT Staff

SARIKEI: Opposition members and 'independents' have been warned to stay away from areas which are the stronghold of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's Parti Persaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).

A PBB official said that although the view may seem negative from the top, the 'situation' on the ground was different.

"Don't assume that the situation is bad for PBB. There is renewed confidence in the party and policies. We have grassroots support," said PBB Meradong division treasurer Abang Selani Abang Abdul Razid, alluding to widespread reports of Taib's allegedly corrupt ways.

"The opposition should stay away from our (PBB) areas... they only have empty promises to offer and no structured plan for change," he added.

Selani's views were shared by other local BN grassroots leaders who also believed that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's latest call for all state leaderships to field candidates who are 'always' on the ground as a shot in the arm for 'local' leaders in Sarawak.

PBB Pujut branch chairman Abu Bakar Amit said Najib's strict guidelines meant that candidates who were on the ground and with the people stood a better chance than those who were busy politicking.

"The PM wants committed local individuals... he's set strict guidelines for the state leaderships. If the leadership is listening, it will work well for BN now," he said refering to the fencesitters who are either unhappy with PBB elected representatives or undecided about the coalition.

Regaining trust

PBB controls the majority of seats in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly, which is 35 of 71 seats.

The rest is shared between coalition partners Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) with 11 seats, and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) with eight seats respectively.

In the 2006 election, BN won 62 of the 71 contested seats.

Onus is now on PBB, as the lead-party ruling the state for more than 35 years, to retain all its seats in the coming election.

In 2006 state election, the opposition pried open PBB's grip and took away nine seats.

This time round lead opposition DAP alone is confident of pocketing 15 seats.

Pockets of 'independents' are also working the ground hoping to stake a claim as community-leaders.

Which also explains Najib's call for grassroots leaders to be fielded in the coming elections to counter non-friendly BN independents.

Describing the premier's decision as "sensible during these challenging times', SPDP Batu Danau youth chief Kungee Sandhu said : "The PM's decision will make it easier for BN to win bigger grassroots support.

"These leaders are the ones close to their constituents and they understand the local problems better.

"It will defintely have positive effect on the ground and will help regain public trust in the party.

"I also believe leaders who failed to perform should be replaced to regain the people's trust and safeguard the image of BN," he said.

Masidi calls for calm over student prostitution issue

By Dominic Legeh - Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun has urged the public to stop speculating on claims that female students in institutions of higher learning in the state are involved in prostitution.

He said the alleged involvement of students in prostitution remained an allegation until an investigation into the claim proved otherwise.

“The problem now is that many people are saying they have heard about it or that they were made to understand about it. But no one has come forward with a confession or things like that.

"To me it is unfair to make allegations on something that is yet to be proven.

“I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt, at least for the moment,” he said when asked to comment on the issue after officiating the opening of the International Accountancy and Finance Conference 2010 (IAFC2010) here yesterday.

He said it is better for all to wait for the police to complete its investigation as a report has already been lodged.

“It is best for us to wait and see if it really happened, as alleged by certain individuals, before making any conclusion. We must be fair to the women and students” said Masidi, who is also in charge of education matters in the state.

He urged those who have evidence related to the issue to come forward and furnish the police and Education Department with details as "proof is what is most important now".

Meanwhile, Masidi advised parents to always be in close contact with their children and follow up on their development, including checking if their children have any problem.

He said it is a fact that living in the city and in the village is different and the challenges in the city is centred around money.

“Parents who are concerned about their children who are studying in institutions of higher learning can always communicate with the institution’s student affairs office for assistance to monitor their respective children,” he said.

State 'pulls back' RM300 allowance for poor

By Luke Rintod

KOTA KINABALU: Hundreds of predominantly Christian elderly recipients of the monthly RM300 welfare aid in several districts in Sabah have had their monthly "allowance" stopped without any notice.

Up against a gloomy Christmas, a 69-year-old recipient from Kota Belud said he last received his allowance in August this year.

"We really need some money. Christmas is coming... we need some money.

"When I came to the Kota Belud district office the other day to find out what happened to my aid, I was shocked when a staff there told me that I should not be eligible for the aid as I have a handphone and a wristwatch," he said.

The "warga emas" said he was not the only one affected in Kota Belud.

He said the staff in the welfare section were telling other elderly recipients that there would be a new screening on their "houses" to ascertain their eligibility for the aid.

A quick survey of senior citizens found that many recipients of the "bantuan warga emas" in Kota Belud had last received their monthly aid either in July or August this year.

The survey also found that most of those whose allowance was terminated were Christians while Muslim recipients continued to receive the aid uninterrupted for the past four months.

Uncertainty

The federal government increased the state welfare aid, introduced last year, from RM90 to RM300 to the delight of many families, especially old folk, single mothers and the handicapped.

Under the scheme, those who are 60 years and above are eligible to apply for the aid.

The guidelines stipulate that only one member, either the husband or wife, may receive the aid although there seemed to be exceptions in some cases.

Another elderly recipient from Kota Belud, whose aid was also "stopped" without notice in August, was unsure what to do as he had been told to just wait for his monthly RM300 ever since.

"Maybe Barisan Nasional has stopped giving us the money, but why are others still receiving it?" asked a 78-year-old man who requested anonymity.

It is learnt that some single mothers and handicapped persons have also not received their allowance since August or September.

Concern over Bidayuh votes reason for delay in Bengoh Dam

By Joseph Tawie - Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: The recent decision to delay the impoundment of the Bengoh Dam, which sits in the heartland of the Bidayuh community, until well after the state election is telling, says a former Bengoh legislator.

"The real reason for the postponement is the elections. The Barisan Nasional is worried. There are 1,500 villagers and voters here who have refused to move out of their century-old settlement. These votes are crucial to SUPP (Sarawak United People's Party) and BN," said the assemblyman who declined to be named.

According to him, the dam is an "explosive" conversation issue these days.

“People here are angry at BN. Their relatives from nearby villages have also expressed sympathy for them and may want to vent out their anger against the BN candidate for not being able to do something to stop the dam construction.

“The dam is the hottest issue in the Bengoh constituency and is being exploited by the opposition leaders,” he said.

Early this month, Sarawak Minister of Planning and Resource Management, Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, had announced that the impoundment of the Bengoh Dam would be postponed.

Already there are worrying trends that the opposition could wrest the seat in the coming state polls. The constituency has over 20,000 voters, 66% of whom are Bidayuhs. The incumbent SUPP is Jerip Susil.

In fact, there are five other Bidayuh-centric seats which are also facing a major threat from the opposition.

Influential Bidayuh leader Michael Manyin had recently warned the Sarawak BN leadership that aside from Bengoh, the coalition could face its stiffest ever challenge from the opposition in Opar, Tarat, Kedup, Tebedu and Tasik Biru.

Taib's proxy

Work on the Bengoh dam began in late 2008. The RM310-million dam is about an hour’s drive from Kuching and is expected to provide water for the Batu Kitang water plant which is supplying water to Kuching-Kota Samarahan areas.

But its construction came at the expense of 1,500 people from four villages of Rejoi, Pain Bojong, Taba Sait and Semban. The dam when impounded will submerge an area of 127 sq km, including the four villages.

The affected people have refused to move out to Semadang-Bau area which is some 16km away and have filed their case in the Kuching High Court.

Fodder for the opposition, PKR leaders from the Bidayuh community have been actively campaigning in the Bengoh constituency accusing the dam contractor, Nain Holdings Bhd, of neglecting the interest of the villagers.

Nain Holdings is owned by Hamid Sepawi, who is Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s cousin.

According to a PKR leader, who is involved in the community, Nain Holdings is "more interested in reaping the profits amounting to hundreds of millions of ringgit".

He said that the company had also been awarded the construction of access road leading to the new settlement and the construction of 200 houses for the settlers.

The total value is about RM268.8 million, consisting of RM168.8 million for the access road and RM100 million for the construction of the houses.

He, along with other PKR leaders, have also alleged that Hamid Sepawi has been a proxy for Taib since the day he left the forestry department as a junior officer. Hamid is now ranked the 38th richest man in Malaysia by Forbes.

Dayak graduates

The Bengoh Dam, they said, allegedly earns Nain Holdings almost RM650 million.

The PKR leaders are also urging the community's 8,000-odd graduates to inform and educate their parents and relatives on the government's abuses and excesses.

“What are the Bidayuh community and their educated folk doing about Taib’s politics of development which has affected their own kind and robbing them of their ancestral lands?

“Where are our Dayak graduates numbering about 8,000? Can't this group of intellectual people stop this BN government from trampling all over the Dayaks and taking away their lands at will?

“They should return to their villages and help to educate their parents and relatives on the dam,” they said.

They warned that if such "government blunders" were not rectified, it would be repeated in at least 12 more dams which are in the pipeline.

The PKR leaders also called on all Dayak non-governmental organisations and associations to join forces with Pakatan to stop these multi-billion-ringgit blunders.

“As long as BN wins every state and parliamentary elections, nothing will stop this government from plundering and looting our state."

Mas Selamat, what if he had...

By Maxwell Coopers - Free Malaysia Today

COMMENT Boy, how peaceful it is Singapore must be feeling these days. For more than two years, the nation teetered on what must have been a dreadful reckoning with an escaped terrorist who, though not quite of the Osama Bin Laden kind of pedigree, knew just what to do if and when he commandeers a hijacked plane.

Mas Selamat Kastari was no ordinary individual. The Indonesian-born who had spent most of his formative years in Singapore is the leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah, known otherwise by its acronym of JI. The JI is the Southeast Asian “branch office” of terror kingpin Osama's al-Qaeda network.

But what he did on Feb 28, 2008, was something that will go down in the annals of Singapore’s history as one of the city-state’s greatest ever escapes, or more dubiously the nation’s greatest blunder. Not only was Kastari able to outfox his very watchful guards at the super fortified maximum security prison in Whitley Road. He was also able to do so all by himself with no assistance whatsoever from fellow inmates. The escape had turned him into an instant cause célèbre.

But make no mistake. Kastari is no folk hero. He was a dissolute terrorist who made no secret of his sharp and running dislike for Singapore which had tracked and jailed his fellow collaborators soon after the Sept 11 attacks in the United States.

He was bent on wreaking revenge with his intention to crash an aeroplane into Singapore’s fabled Changi Airport and re-enact the Sept 11 horror. This bloodcurdling vow and his subsequent escape sparked a massive manhunt matched only in scope, intensity and character by the McCarthy witch-hunts of the 1950s.

The plot to set the airport ablaze, if it had materialised, would have driven a gaping hole into Singapore’s vaunted security apparatus. And along with it, Singapore would be kicked down a few notches in its global security perception index – just the very kind of fear the republic had so desperately tried to avoid in all of its history and at all costs.

Yet what had happened and what possibly could have happened, underscores just the very kind of lessons that are now confronting countries from the United States to Germany, which, as everybody now knows, recently had its own Parliament, the Reichstag, in the cross-hairs of Osama's al-Qaeda group.

Special legal instrument

From what history records and what evidence suggests, terrorists are a special breed. They never give up as they are fanatics. And fanatics, as war-time British prime minister Winston Churchill rightly pointed out, never change their minds and also their subjects.

It was perhaps with that in mind that Singapore has had special legal instruments in place to deal with terrorists to fill in for what Churchill obviously missed out mentioning, that is, terrorists don’t squeal and don’t turn in their “brethren” unlike the thugs who are sometimes wont to do.

So to make terrorists do what they have been indoctrinated not to do, Singapore employs what is known in humans rights circles as “extra-judicial measures”, something that is not too dissimilar from the US version of the Patriot Act.

For all of its born days, right from the time of its violent inception to its present-day modernity, Singapore has known just too well what it would need to do with terrorists of the Kastari ilk.

Its detention without trial laws, enshrined in the Internal Security Act provisions of 1955 which it has maintained for more than five decades, did not come about in a vacuum. British colonial masters had artfully crafted them.

And when it was time for the British to leave Singapore to Singaporeans, the colonial masters made sure the locals knew how to combat the brigands of communist terrorists who in the troubled times of the 1950s and 1960s were just as menacing, fanatical and ideologically-driven as the Kastaris of today. There, however, was one notable exception.

Resembling in doctrine to America’s Patriot Act, the Internal Security Act is essentially a carrot-and-stick approach to treating detainees through the double whammy of incarceration and the careful weaning of their wayward ways by pastoral care.

The “encounter” with Kastari may not be Singapore’s last ever skirmish with terrorism.

So long as it lives in the shadows of its giant Islamic neighbour south of the border, it will have to deal with an assortment of genies that refused to be corked in. Indonesia is huge. Like the old Soviet Union, it is a state with provinces pulling in every direction.

That in turn makes it just ripe for a terrorist and his network to move around and drive a wedge between feuding parties and thereafter turn every adversity into an “opportunity”.

Transformed person?

What is more, with more than 17,000 islands spread over three time zones – the largest archipelago it must seem anywhere in the world – Indonesia remains a plausible cause to attract the likes of Osama and Kastari.

Making the state just as ungovernable is the lack of adequate and incorruptible enforcement agencies.

Few in Singapore remember the 1960s when Indonesia attacked Singapore through its policy of confrontation that, by today’s verdict, can be judged as being purely moved by some old-fashioned, misplaced and certainly misguided irredentism.

Singapore need no longer worry about a new charismatic Sukarno emerging from the background to try a repeat of his 1960s antics.

Deep-seated apprehensions, nonetheless, have remained as can be seen in the numerous times articles on the threat of regional terrorism are deliberated in the country’s Straits Times broadsheet – the city-state’s widely distributed newspaper. For instance, there are still concerns as to why Jakarta took an exceptionally long time to nail down the Marriott Hotel bombings mastermind, Nordin Top.

Top, it is believed, was killed unarmed in a hail of gunfire after he had reportedly contacted Kastari who, upon fleeing Singapore, took refuge in Johor.

Yet for Singapore it must seem that the scourge of terrorism must have come one full circle. Kastari may be behind bars all over again, but the larger question is how “transformed” he will be when he leaves prison which, depending on the security threat one poses, can take years.

Until that question is comfortably settled, the so-called peace dividend Singapore may be enjoying may only be transient.

Maxwell Coopers is a freelance writer based in Singapore.

As UMNO screws the Malays with its lies, so, too, MIC, the Indians

The People's Parliament
The Staronline reported yesterday that Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam has confidently assured that the Indian community’s citizenship and welfare woes will be resolved by the end of next year.
Lets leave off the welfare issues for the moment.
I take it that by citizenship issues, this is in reference to the Indians who are citizens of Malaysia but do not have birth certificates and identity cards as indicia of the same.
The report quotes Subramaniam as saying :
“As of the middle of this year, a total of 4,948 cases (citizenship and welfare problems involving Indians) were registered under the Program Mesra Rakyat 1Malaysia and so far 35% of the cases have been resolved”.
If I understand the minister correctly, as at the middle of this year, 4,948 of these ‘citizenship’ cases were registered and taken cognisance of by the government and, of these, 35% have been resolved.
By resolved I will assume that they now have proof of citizenship.
Now, firstly, 35% of 4,948 works out to 1,731.8, so I do not know how the minister’s staff came to these figures.
Leaving this oddity aside, for the following reasons, the minister must explain how given that the government has only been able to resolve the citizenship issue of 1,731.8 Indians in 6 months, they now propose to resolve this issue by the end of next year.
At my meetings with Waythamoorthy in London last month, we discussed this problem at some length.
Moorthy disclosed to me that this problem affected some 100,000-150,000 Indians throughout the country and agreed that several of the indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak also faced this problem.
We both agreed that this was a serious problem and had to be made a matter of urgency to be resolved.

Now, firstly, 35% of 4,948 works out to 1,731.8, so I do not know how the minister’s staff came to these figures.
Leaving this oddity aside, for the following reasons, the minister must explain how given that the government has only been able to resolve the citizenship issue of 1,731.8 Indians in 6 months, they now propose to resolve this issue by the end of next year.
At my meetings with Waythamoorthy in London last month, we discussed this problem at some length.
Moorthy disclosed to me that this problem affected some 100,000-150,000 Indians throughout the country and agreed that several of the indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak also faced this problem.
We both agreed that this was a serious problem and had to be made a matter of urgency to be resolved.
We also both agreed that a government that was serious about resolving this and put its mind to it could solve this predicament, not just of the Indians, but also that of the Sabahans and Sarawakians, by deploying mobile NRD teams to the areas where most of the affected are located and effect the requisite investigation and registration there.
If the government is serious about it.
Subramaniam now says they will resolve this by end next year.
Yet, in 6 months, they have only resolved the problem of 1,731.8 Indians.
At this rate, Subra would have long died of old age and cremated or buried and this issue would still be plaguing thousands.
Election talk, Subra?

Malay Supremacy versus Malay Sovereignty

It is more appropriate for 'Malay supremacy' to be rephrased as 'Malay sovereignty' as the latter encompasses the position of the Malay rulers and their subjects and not just the purported master-slave relationship said the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.


Sultan Ibrahim said that when the British gave independence to this country, they returned Malaya to the owners - the Malay rulers and their subjects.

He said this was because prior to the arrival of the British and the advent of the other races, the Malay states were owned by the Malay rulers and their subjects.

"Even before the Malay states were made a federation, the Malay rulers and their subjects have accepted outsiders as guests and given them the opportunity to earn a living and develop Malaya together.

"When the states became a federation, the rights of the other races were respected and safeguarded by the Federal Constitution," he said.

The rights of all Malaysians should not only be respected and safeguarded but they should regarded as equals without any prejudice.

It is important to note that a new nation was established after Malaya was granted its independence from the British colonial power in 1957 and when a nationhood, Malaysia, was created in 1963. Malaya was not returned to only to the Malay rulers and their subjects but to the people who had inhabited both Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak prior to independence.

The new nation was given a new form of governance based on parliamentary democracy. A federal constitution was drafted and adopted to recognize the formation of a federation, a modern nationhood and to formalize a legal status, citizenship, for all races who had pledged their loyalty to Malaysia.

Any politicians, individuals or persons who refused to accept the spirit of Malaysia's nationhood and the equal rights of all Malaysians accorded in the federal constitutions are the real traitors.

Within the federal constitution, the role of constitutional rulers, the status of Bahasa Malaysia and Islam as an official language and religion of the federation are undisputed. But the constitution is silence on the notion of Malay supremacy. There is no such thing as race supremacy in the constitution.

It is unfortunate that the current government which has ruled Malaysia since independence has refused to accept the original spirit of the constitution. The ruling regime has allowed its members and leaders to continue to misguide and misinterpret the constitution to create an imaginary two-tier citizenship.

The divisive categorisation of Malaysians into either non-Bumiputera or Bumiputera is politically motivated. As a result, Malaysia's social division has become more pronounced compared to the past. It is unfortunate that Malaysia's political development is lagging far behind its economic development. Racial politics and the divisive categorisation of Malaysians according to their skin colour is outdated and outmoded.

Any attempt to insist that the Malay is a far more superior race compared to others is going to jeopardize nation building.

Unbelievably, some in the ruling regime are still harping on race supremacy. In this era, skills and knowledge are the ones that determine superiority and supremacy. Not colour of the skin or heredity.

Why waste time on Malay supremacy or Malay sovereignty? We should be grateful of our Malaysian sovereignty and try to work together to build our Malaysian supremacy based on real skills and knowledge. 

Press Release: Human Rights Day 2010: “Against All Odds”

Thursday, 09 December 2010 10:40am
Image On 10 December this year, the Bar Council Human Rights Committee once again joins the rest of the world in celebrating Human Rights Day.

Our focus this year is on the rights of persons with disabilities.
      
Malaysia recently ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“CRPD”).  While the Malaysian Bar welcomes this move, there are still grave concerns on the Government’s reservations to Article 3 on general principles, Article 5 on equality and non-discrimination, Article 15 on freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Article 18 on liberty of movement and nationality, and Article 30 on participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

Malaysia has also not signed or ratified the Optional Protocols of CRPD, which grant specific rights to the citizens/residents of a country to refer their government to the international supervisory committee for non-compliance with any of the articles.

Locally, the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 has yet to be amended to provide for any form of punishment or remedy for breaches.

These are fundamental issues that need to be addressed, to give full force and effect to the CRPD, without which the rights of persons with disabilities in this country are not even close to being fully acknowledged, what more protected.

Aimed at raising public awareness on rights of persons with disabilities, “Against All Odds” will feature a Public Forum on Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 that will take place on 12 December 2010 (Sunday) from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Bar Council Auditorium, No 15, Leboh Pasar Besar, 50050 Kuala Lumpur.

Invited panellists, and the topics of discussion, are:

(a)    Professor Dr Tiun Ling Ta, President, Persatuan Orang Cacat Anggota Malaysia: “Opportunities in education – early, primary, secondary and tertiary”;
(b)    Zakaria b Yahaya, Teacher, Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Setapak, Kuala Lumpur: “Observation and expectation from the vocational and recreational perspectives”;
(c)    Helen Chin, advocate and solicitor: “Malaysia's ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and human rights for the disabled community in Malaysia”;
(d)    A representative from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) (TBC): “Commitments by the government ministries and agencies”; and
(e)    A representative from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (TBC): “Enjoying life from human rights perspectives”.

The forum will be conducted in both Bahasa Malaysia and English.

After a successful inaugural event in 2008, the Bar Council Human Rights Debate is now being featured again in conjunction with the Human Rights Day celebrations.  It is a three-day event that will be held from 10-12 December 2010 (Friday to Sunday) at KDU University College, Section 13 Campus, No 76, Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Aimed at promoting free speech and creating greater awareness and education of human rights standards, while at the same time advocating important principles of international rights law, the theme for this year’s Human Rights Debate is “Against All Odds – Making a Difference for Human Rights”.

Out of RM30,000.00 prize money allocated from registration fees and corporate sponsorships, RM25,000.00 will be donated equally to five institutions caring or advocating for persons with disabilities from all over the country, to be selected by the Bar Council Human Rights Committee.  The remaining RM5,000.00 will be awarded as prize money to the champion of the tournament.

Teams from 18 institutions, including some from India, Bangladesh, Philippines and Singapore, as well as local universities such as Universiti Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia, have registered for the tournament.

This is a unique debating tournament, the first in the world to be hosted by a statutory body of legal professionals.

Admission to both the public forum and the human rights debate tournament is free, and open to the public.  Due to limited space, pre-registration is required in order to attend the public forum.  To register, please contact Adi Irman by telephone at 03-2031 3003 ext 105 or by email at adi@malaysianbar.org.my.


Ragunath Kesavan
President
Malaysian Bar

9 Dec 2010


For more information, please contact:

Adilah Ariffin
Executive Officer
Bar Council Human Rights Committee
Bar Council Malaysia
No 15, Leboh Pasar Besar
50050 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2031 3003; Fax: +603-2026 1313
URL: www.malaysianbar.org.my
Email: adilah@malaysianbar.org.my 

Double ‘green energy’ threat to Borneo tribes’ rainforest


Construction is already under way at the Murum
dam site. ©Survival
As environment ministers from around the world meet in Mexico for the UN climate change conference, tribes in the rainforests of Borneo are facing a double ‘green energy’ threat as hydroelectric dams destroy their rivers and their forests are cleared for palm oil plantations.

Tribes in Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo, reacted with horror when the huge Rajang river shrank to a trickle, after it was blocked in October to flood the state’s notorious Bakun dam.

Ten thousand indigenous people were displaced to make way for the Bakun dam, and the Sarawak government plans to build 12 more hydroelectric dams across the state. The drying up of the Rajang has increased alarm among Sarawak’s tribes about these plans.

Around 1,000 members of the hunter-gatherer Penan tribe have been told they must move to make way for the Murum dam, the first of the 12 new dams. A ‘social and environmental impact assessment’ is being prepared for the Murum dam – but construction of the dam is already well underway.

The area of rainforest that the Penan say they would be prepared to move to is being rapidly cleared by the palm oil company Shin Yang to make way for its plantations. Palm oil is used for biofuel and in many foods and cosmetics.

‘We have found out that Shin Yang Company has started clearing and felling the forest for oil palm plantation in Metalon River area without our consent… We want our forest in these areas to be preserved,’ says Penan man Ramlie Bujang.

Palm oil plantations already cover huge areas of Sarawak which were until recently cloaked in thick forest.

Survival International’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The destruction of Sarawak’s rainforests and rivers is ruining the lives of the Penan and other tribal people. It’s deeply ironic – and tragic – that this is being done in the name of ‘green’ energy.’

Read Survival's reports on how hydroelectric dams and climate change mitigation measures affect tribal peoples

.

Terror Strikes Hindu Holy city of Varanasi - Secure Safety of Hindu Pilgrims Says HAF

Washington, D.C. (December 7, 2010) - The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) leaders were stunned and outraged over the deadly bombing today that killed one child and injured dozens of others in Varanasi, India. Varanasi, a major place of pilgrimage for Hindus, sees millions of visitors annually. The bomb detonated near the Vishwanath temple, a busy area where thousands of devotees attend the daily sunset lamp ceremony on the banks of the Ganges river. The attack took place on the day after the 18th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri structure in Ayodhya, India. It has been reported that the terrorist outfit, Indian Mujahideen, sent an email claiming responsibility.

“We offer our condolences to the family whose daughter perished and pray for the speedy recovery of all those injured.” said Jay Kansara, HAF’s Associate Director. “It is our sincere hope that the state brings the perpetrators to justice. No member of any faith should be fearful of visiting a place of pilgrimage and prayer.”

Today’s bombing is the third bombing in four years for Varanasi. In 2006, serial blasts killed 15 and injured dozens more -- an attack claimed by the militant group, Lashkar-e-Kahab. And in 2007, a bomb killed more than 20 people and injured over 100, Bangladeshi terror group, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, sleeper cells of Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed were suspected of orchestrating that attack. Government officials claimed that security forces have been lax in monitoring and policing the area prior to today’s attack.

“It is imperative that the Indian government provide adequate security in places of pilgrimage for any faith,” said Mihir Meghani, HAF co-founder and board member. “Three attacks later, the state has failed to bring security to the millions of Hindu pilgrims journeying annually to their holiest cities.

The Hindu American Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism.

Prison fire kills 83 in Chile

Relatives of inmates wait for news of their loved ones Wednesday outside the San Miguel prison in Santiago, Chile. 

Santiago, Chile (CNN) -- At least 83 people were killed and several more were injured in a fire that broke out after a riot at a prison in Chile, the country's president, Sebastian Pinera, told CNN Chile on Wednesday.

The fire started in one of the towers of the San Miguel prison, south of Santiago, the Chilean capital.

Fourteen people were hospitalized in critical condition, Health Minister Jaime Manalich told reporters. Four rescuers were also injured.

"This is a terrible tragedy," Manalich said, calling it the worst incident to strike the country's penal system.

The prison housed 1,961 inmates at the time of the fire, said Felipe Bulnes, the justice minister. The prison was built to hold only 1,000 inmates, CNN Chile reported.

Metropolitan regional mayor Fernando Echeverria said that the fire broke out after a riot among inmates.

The call came in at 5:48 a.m. (3:48 a.m. ET), the fire department said. The cause of the blaze is under investigation, the department said.

Meanwhile, a large crowd of inmates' relatives gathered outside the prison, worried about the fate of their loved ones.

"Why won't they give us information?" one woman asked.

Echeverria said authorities will inform the relatives of deceased prisoners before making the names public.

The mayor told the families that the only ones affected by the fire were the prisoners on the fourth floor of Tower 5.

All others are safe, he said. A list of the victims will be released to the families later Wednesday, he added.

"Our main concern is to attend to those people who were injured and to handle the information regarding those who died diligently," Bulnes said.

Rulers’ Conference needs to also protect minority’s rights

It seems that the Rulers' Conference fail to comprehend that as rulers they are also duty bound to the second limb of Article 153 of the Federal constitution as the minority’s interests also need to be safeguarded in the current polarized state of affairs between the Muslims and the non-Muslims.

By R.Shan (Human Being)

Bearing the escalation of conversion rows (latest involving Yi Min in Penang), including 'body-snatching' cases where Islamic authorities have battled with relatives over the remains of the alive and dead when religion is disputed encouraged the cabinet to table proposed amendments to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976, Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993 and Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984.

Initially when the Rulers’ conference was approached in June 29, 2009, it was decided by them that matter of the conversion and religion must be referred to the state religious authorities before proceeding with it.

The proposed changes would involve procedures on the dissolution of marriage, right to custody of children when coversion happens after marriage, maintenance of children and wife, and division of matrimonial assets.

Now the current reluctance by the Rulers' Conference to consent to the proposed amendments although the proposals are only reflective of a person’s rights prior to becoming a Muslim. It seems that the Rulers' Conference fail to comprehend that as rulers they are also duty bound to the second limb of Article 153 of the Federal constitution as the minority’s interests also need to be safeguarded in the current polarized state of affairs between the Muslims and the non-Muslims.

In no instance do these proposals diminish the rights of either a Muslim or their obligations but rather to ensure the minority rights are not neglected in contrary to Federal constitution on unreasonability and installation of fear through religion as we have seen at a rampant stage in Malaysia of late.

As Rulers, they have the natural duty to safeguard and protect the Islamic faith, but not in a retrospective manner prior to them embracing the Islam faith or how it is forced upon without their natural consent.

The consensus requested by way of these bills will no doubt weather the storm of the currently strained race relations in Malaysia and enhance the position of the Rulers that they are indeed concerned with the second limb of Article 153.

As for the UMNO & PAKATAN state governments, it is obvious that they are trying to do a balancing act to ensure their vote counts in their typical political manner whereas the public continues to suffer in silence. By pushing the buck to the Rulers, it does nothing but undermine the faith of the people on how ineffective they have become when the public’s interest is at stake when the constitution is crystal clear that minorities are to be protected to ensure their own freedom of practice.

This indeed would be a clear indication that the Rulers’ Conference is equally concerned to ensure justice, reasonableness and fair play is afforded in their role as the rulers for each and every Malaysian besides only serving what is politically expedient.

Hindraf duo to file suit against Najib

Two lawyers and Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders, P Uthayakumar (below, right) and M Manoharan, are scheduled to file a RM200 million suit against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak tomorrow over their allegedly unlawful detention under the draconian Internal Security Act law for 514 days.

hindraf btn 151209 manoharan uthayakumarThey will also name former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and former inspector-general of police Musa Hassan and the government as the other defendants.

Manoharan(above, left) told Malaysiakini that they decided to cite Abdullah as a defendant as it was during the former premier's tenure that they were detained, while it was during Hishammuddin's tenure that they were finally released.

They also named Musa as he was the IGP who may have ordered their detention.

They claimed that their detention which began on Dec 13, 2007 was unlawful, where they had been kept for 514 days.

According to them, this was the first suit filed against Najib in his personal capacity as it was during his premiership that he had earlier decided to release some ISA detainees, and later released three Hindraf detainees including the two in May 2009.

The two, who are seeking RM100 million each, are scheduled to file the suit tomorrow at the Kuala Lumpur High Court civil registry.

Hisham says Soi Lek has upset Umno leaders

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 – Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein claimed today that Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek had upset a good number of leaders last weekend when he called for a ban on terms like “Ketuanan Melayu” and censured Umno for approving government policies during its supreme council meetings.

The Umno vice-president told a press conference in Parliament today that many had expressed their dissatisfaction that the straight-talking MCA president had used the Barisan Nasional convention over the weekend as a platform to air his grouses against Umno.

“I heard a lot of people were not happy with what Soi Lek said, including MCA leaders themselves, in the context of last weekend’s BN convention,” he said.

Hishammuddin’s words today appeared to suggest that Dr Chua’s censure of Umno during his speech on Sunday had reignited the recent war between the two BN ally parties, when they clashed in their opinions on affirmative action reforms and the abolishment of the 30 per cent Bumiputera equity target.

However, the Umno leader took pains to stress that despite the unhappiness that Dr Chua had caused, what was more important was the convention had shown that BN was a truly united coalition.

“All the party presidents in BN were given the opportunity to make their speeches but of course, it was this sensational issue that has been picked up.

“To me, what is more important is that the BN convention, had shown that we are a united front. We know that we need to transform, that we need to move forward,” he (picture) said.

He added that if he were to respond to Dr Chua’s hard-hitting statements against the ruling party, the issue would likely be prolonged unnecessarily.

“I want to look forward instead. What was said [by Dr Chua] could have happened to all leaders, all parties, but the most important thing is that in the conclusion of the convention, in our BN chairman’s (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) speech, his words and his aspirations to transform BN, that is what is important,” he said.

When pointed out that an Umno deputy minister Datuk Dr Puad Zarkashi had openly slammed Dr Chua in his article today on the “Ketuanan Melayu” issue and the latter’s allegations that a “big brother, small brother” system existed in the coalition, Hishammuddin said:

“There may be some disappointment felt by some leaders but it does not mean that BN is in total agreement with Soi Lek or that BN is in agreement with this deputy minister.

“But it is more important what the people outside think, whether they believe that we are truly serious in our struggles to move forward.

“It is not about certain personalities or certain statements made that will determine BN’s future in its strive for transformational politics.”

In his article today, carried in The Malaysian Insider’s website, Puad, a deputy Education Minister, said that Dr Chua’s statements had been untrue, unnecessarily and not in tandem with Najib’s views or those of other BN component party leaders.

“If Umno behaves like a big brother and Malay supremacy is wrong, how can the Chinese be more dominant than the Malays in business?” he asked.

He also told the MCA president not to be hoodwinked by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who has been attempting to promote the concept of ‘Ketuanan Rakyat’ (people’s supremacy), in his outright rejection of ‘Malay supremacy’.

“In the past, it was Anwar who had expounded on Ketuanan Melayu. Now, he has linked the concept to that of ‘master and slave’. He is trying to kill Umno with this tactic although he is the one who has created this ‘master and slave’ practice in PKR.

“Doesn’t Soi Lek see all this?” Puad added.

When asked today to respond to Dr Chua’s demand on Umno leaders not to announce important government policy decisions during its Supreme Council meetings or annual general meetings, Hishammuddin urged the MCA leader to air his grouses in the right channel.

“I would like to advise him to bring it up during the BN meetings. It is an avenue for that purpose and if he is upset about something, he can use this avenue. It has existed from before,” he said.

He added that if Dr Chua chose not to use the avenue, it raised questions on the MCA president’s personal objectives.

The MCA president had appeared to make full use of the weekend convention to push for equal treatment within the coalition, sternly telling its Umno allies that there should not be a “big brother, small brother” system in the ruling pact.

In his speech, Dr Chua had made direct references to Umno as he shrewdly reminded the ruling party that MCA, and all other component parties, deserved to receive equal recognition as coalition partners.

The veteran politician even took a direct swipe at Umno by pointing out that MCA was not in agreement with how important government policy decisions was made during Umno Supreme Council meetings instead of in Cabinet.

“MCA is of the opinion that we should cooperate with one another as equal partners and for that very same reason as well, MCA feels that important policies should not be announced during Umno annual general meetings or Umno Supreme Council meetings, where such a decision differs in status from that of the Cabinet’s,” he said during the winding up speech at the BN convention at Wisma MCA here this evening

He had also cautioned leaders against using sensitive words like “pendatang” (immigrants), “penumpang” (passengers), “terhutang budi” (indebted to), “kurang patriotic” (unpatriotic) and “ketuanan Melayu” (Malay supremacy).

Such words, he added, should be labelled as taboo in Malaysia.

Lawyers sue cops for 'unlawful' arrest

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Six lawyers, one of whom is a member of Parliament, filed a civil suit at the high court here this morning over their “unlawful” arrest and detention three years ago.

The lawyers, Subang MP R Sivarasa, N Surendran, Latheefa Koya, Eric Paulsen, Amer Hamzah and Johny Andu were arrested during the Human Rights Day walk on Dec 9, 2007.

They named former Dang Wangi district police chief Che Hamzah Che Ismail as the first defendant.

According to a statement by Laywers for Liberty, Hamzah had acted as the “ground commander” for the operation even though he had given permission for the participants to walk.

Also named as co-defendants were the inspector-general of police, the Home Ministry and the government.

“The unlawful arrest and detention led to them being detained overnight in the police lock-up and charged the next day on exaggerated, malicious and frivolous charges under Section 143 and 145 of the Penal Code (unlawful assembly with the intention to cause public nuisance) and alternatively under Section 27 of the Police Act (unlawful assembly).

“During the charge, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail had outrageously and in bad faith tried to object to the bail application on the ground that since the accused persons had not adhered to the police warning not to assemble and walk, they posed a threat to national security,” read the statement.

However, bail was granted to the lawyers on a “personal bond” of RM2,000 without surety.

“On April 16, 2009, at the end of the prosecution’s case, the judge bravely discharged and acquitted the accused persons of all charges,” said Lawyers for Liberty.

In addition to the “unlawful arrest and detention”, the six also claimed to be victims of “malicious prosecution” as the facts and circumstances of the case do not support such charges at all, and that the police had “falsely and maliciously” implicated them.

As a result of these acts, the lawyers were among other things claiming for a declaration that their constitutional rights had been violated and that the police acted wrongfully and unlawfully.

They were also claiming exemplary and aggravated damages.

Pakatan MPs booted out after motion on Anwar's suspension shot down

By Syed Jamal Zahid and Patrick Lee
KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Rakyat MPs were booted out from the Dewan Rakyat after the Speaker rejected an emergency motion to debate Anwar Ibrahim's looming parliamentary suspension.

Azmin Ali (Gombak-PKR) had questioned why the Opposition Leader was disallowed from cross-examining witnesses or defending himself before the Rights and Privileges Committee.
Speaker Pandikar Mulia Amin shot down the motion, saying that a decision was yet to be made by the committee and that Azmin's motion was prejudicial.
Azmin's continuous argument with the Speaker then caused the latter to order Azmin and four other PKR MPs to leave the Dewan. This prompted the remaining Pakatan MPs to stage a walkout in support of their colleagues.
Anwar was hauled up before the committee following his accusation that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's administration had employed a public relations company, APCO Worldwide, linked to Israel.
Information was leaked to the media that the committee had already decided to suspend Anwar from the Dewan Rakyat and the decision is expected to be tabled next Wednesday.
Anwar in a press conference last week said he was aware of the decision and said he and his team of lawyers were denied the right to defend himself.
In a press conference at the Parliament lobby today, Azmin said that he had submitted the motion on Monday morning but it was rejected by Pandikar in the Speaker's Chambers this morning under Standing Order 85 (which states that proceedings of the committee cannot be disclosed).
However, Azmin said, “I'm not asking about the documents or the notes of the proceeding. What concerns me is how could we bring the recommendation to the House when the proceeding has not taken place?”
'An Umno lackey'
Karpal Singh (Bukit Gelugor-DAP) said that it was also wrong for the Speaker to reject the motion in his chambers instead of in the Dewan Rakyat, as Pandikar was also the chairman of the committee.
He added that the decision should have been made by deputy Speaker Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar as he was not a committee member.
Incensed by this rejection, Azmin attempted to bring up the motion before the Dewan Rakyat, but was overridden multiple times by the Speaker.
Finally in a fit of anger, the Gombak MP called Pandikar's actions a “conflict of interest”, and accused him of being an Umno lackey.
“If judges and doctors can be bought, then I don't want the Speaker to be bought by Umno,” he said, which caused an uproar, with several BN MPs standing up in defence of the Speaker, and shouting at Azmin to back off.
Eventually, the Speaker told the Pakatan MPs, including Azmin and four other PKR MPs standing up at the time, to leave the Dewan Rakyat until further proceedings at 2:30pm.
Reacting in disgust to the decision, more than 20 remaining Pakatan MPs walked out in protest.
“This is outrageous, and goes against the principles of justice, where the accused is not allowed to give his statement,” Azmin later said, adding that Pandikar's decision went against what he previously said on April 22 this year.
'Stain on Parliament'
According to Azmin, the Speaker said that a person referred to the committee was to be given the right to give his statement and to call for witnesses.
He also found it odd that Pandikar invoked Standing Order 83(11), where the committee may refuse any statements that had no connection with the charge involved.
R Sivarasa (Subang-PKR) revealed to the Press that BN committee members had called for the proceedings to carry on without calling for any evidence or to give Anwar a chance to defend himself.
As he and Karpal were both members of the committee, they objected strenuously, but to no avail. “We considered that completely unfair to Anwar, so we withdrew from the proceedings,” Sivarasa said.
Condemning the rejection of the motion, Karpal said that it was a clear-cut case of the Speaker having an agenda against the Opposition Leader.
He said that even an APCO representative and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz had been invited to give their testimonies before the committee's previous June 9 meeting.
Expressing his disappointment, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang (Ipoh Timur) said that the rejection of today's motion was a stain on Malaysia's Parliament.
“Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done. When Parliament forms this committee, there must not only be a majority report, but also a minority or dissenting report,” he said.

Dad to lead MIED and Aimst, son could be next info chief

By S Retnanathan - Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: Retired MIC president S Samy Vellu will lead the party's educational wing Maju Institute of Educational Development and MIC's "jewel in the crown" the Asian Institute Of Medicine, Science and Technology (Aimst).

The combined worth of these two educational organisations, which was initiated by Samy Vellu during his 31-year tenure as president, was more than RM700 million and had been under constant attack from critics for mismanagement of funds.

Sources revealed that Samy Vellu, who relinquished the top post on Monday, had only resigned from party position but not as the chairman of MIED or from the Aimst board of directors.

It had been the norm in the party for the president to hold the positions as these initiatives were done through government grants and public donations given through MIC.

"He still maintains those two positions. The education wing of the party would come under him from now on. In fact, his office which was on the sixth-floor of the MIC headquarters is now moved to the first floor, where the MIED office is located," said the sources.

"The new office has been renovated and refurbished. He is expected to work only on the education part... so now all MIED and Aimst matters will be handled, not by party leaders, but by Samy Vellu."

Samy Vellu was behind the establishment of these two entities apart from the Tafe College in Seremban and Kuala Lumpur. Since he took over MIC as acting president in 1979, he had placed education as top priority and the two organisations were fruits of his labour.

Positions allow Samy Vellu to touch base

Sources said by holding the two positions, the former MIC chief would be able to touch base with the Malaysian Indian community as MIED provided grants to needy students of the community, while Aimst ensured a seat for higher studies.

"We may see more crowd at the first floor (where the MIED office is located at the MIC headquarters) than the sixth floor (the president's office). But I do not think (president G) Palanivel will mind this at all."

"This will also ensure that he (Samy Vellu) keeps check on party activities. You cannot ask a man who has been president for over 30-years to just forget everything and stay home. He loves this party and what a better way to utilise him than to give him the positions.”

Sources said while his critics had accused the 74-year-old leader of mismanagement in handling MIED and Aimst, the fact remained that it was he who instilled the need for the community, which was relying on employment in rubber estates and other odd jobs in the early 1970s, to be educated.

“They cannot deny that it was Samy Vellu who fought for more seats for Indian students in professional courses such as law and medicine in government funded tertiary institutions.”

Sources further claimed that Palanivel also preferred MIED and Aimst being run by Samy Vellu.

"He wants the education arm run separately from party matters, especially politics. Palanivel has always maintained that MIC should not be a social organisation but a political voice of Malaysian Indians and he may have just found a solution," they said.

They also argued that while monies involved in administering the two educational organisations ran into millions, the party president and its leaders, who sit in the board of directors, ultimately control the funding.

"With this, talk of Samy Vellu siphoning cash is out of the question. It is a collective decision. It cannot be done by one man alone."

Paari expected to be made MIC info chief

In a related development, Samy Vellu's son Vel Paari was expected to be appointed party information chief in the near future.

He would replace Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan, whose hands were full as a newly elected parliamentarian and MIC Putera coordinator.

Sources said the announcement was supposed to have been made by Samy Vellu at the MIC central working committee (CWC) meeting on Monday, but he had rejected the idea, preferring to let Palanivel do it.

Another man in a songkok


In the old days kids of 10 or 11 went to war and at 14 or 15 they were veteran soldiers and at 18 were considered old (by 40 many were already dead). That was more than 1,000 years ago. So at 14 they got married, even in the west.

NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin

The height of a man’s songkok is not a measurement of his piety, says the PAS spiritual leader, Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat. Nik Aziz was of course referring to the songkok-clad PERKASA leaders.

In fact, a songkok makes a man an Indian because the songkok originated from India, not Malaysia. So the PERKASA people should be screaming Ketuanan India rather than Ketuanan Melayu.

Now another man with a songkok -- the Jakim director-general -- has decreed that child marriages are kosher. Imagine children of the age of 14 can get married but they are not old enough to vote. You can trust them to have children and raise a family but you can’t trust them to vote.

And they say we are insulting Islam.

By the way, this man, Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, was one of those who made a police report against me that resulted in my ISA detention back in 2008.

Okay, is Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz now going to defend slavery? Slavery is legal in Islam and has never been banned. Ask any ulamak and he or she can tell you that Islam never banned slavery. Therefore, you can legally keep slaves.

The hadith also says that a man can have sex with his female slaves. Sex outside marriage is illegal in Islam. In fact, all you need to do is to be alone with a woman or girl who is not your wife and that is enough to get you arrested -- even if you did not lay a finger on her.

According to the hadith, a slave is a man’s property and you can do whatever you like with your property. You can therefore have sex with your slave.

Let’s hear what Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz has to say about this since he feels marriage with a minor is allowed in Islam.

In the old days kids of 10 or 11 went to war and at 14 or 15 they were veteran soldiers and at 18 were considered old (by 40 many were already dead). That was more than 1,000 years ago. So at 14 they got married, even in the west.

Times, however, have changed. Today, although slavery has never been banned in Islam, no one keeps slaves any longer. Should a marriage of a 14 year old therefore also be allowed? If the answer is yes then slavery should also be allowed in Malaysia and the slave owners can have sex with their property, the slaves.

Aiyah, when I talk like this they make police reports against me and detain me without trial. But how not to talk like this when those songkok-clad people keep making silly statements?
************************************


Jakim defends child marriages

(Free Malaysia Today) - The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) sees nothing wrong in child marriage if the wedding is bound “by love between couples”.

Going against the tide of resentment triggered recently by the marriage of a 14-year-old Muslim schoolgirl in a mass wedding, Jakim stressed that the practice was now widely accepted and considered “reasonable”.

Jakim director-general, Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz, said child marriage should not cause any problem, especially if the wedding was bound "by the love between couples”.

"The main issue is whether it violates Islamic law and the laws of Malaysia... but if there are elements of coercion, we must conduct an investigation,” he told FMT via a text message yesterday.

He, however, said that given the growing social problems among Muslims, such type of marriage should be encouraged.

"We ought to encourage marriage and not frighten the young people who want to get married," said Wan Mohammad.

Furthermore, he believed that pre-marriage courses introduced by Jakim since 1992 have helped many young couples to get through their married life, including the schoolgirl who tied the knot with a man doubled her age.

"The public may have objected to this idea at first, but now it (child marriage) is already widely accepted as a reasonable move," he said.

Civil rights groups have described such practice as “unacceptable” and have continuously called for restraint by religious courts empowered to approve underage marriage.

As there are many underaged unions that go unreported, the matter involving the schoolgirl only came to light when she and her husband participated in a mass wedding celebration at the Federal Territory mosque on Dec 4.

According to news reports, schoolgirl Siti Maryam Mahmod married 23-year-old schoolteacher Abdul Manan Othman last Saturday, after being given permission in a Syariah Court.

Raise the minimum age of marriage

Activist group, Sisters in Islam (SIS), which disagreed with underage marriage, proposed that the government raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 years for all Malaysians.

SIS spokesperson Yasmin Masidi said in a statement yesterday that the onset of puberty did not mean that the person has attained sufficient maturity for marriage.

"While the Quran does not state a specific age as the age of marriage, Surah an-Nisa' 4:6 requires that when orphans reach the 'age of marriage' or a 'marriageable age', they can be tested for 'sound judgment' or maturity of mind'.”

Yasmin said this indicated that a marriageable age was linked to soundness of judgement and maturity, where a child below 18 could not be said to have the life experience necessary to assume marital responsibilities.

"There is no sound reason why her family and her intended groom cannot wait until she reaches the age of majority before asking for her consent to marry," she said.

Yasmid added that Malaysia should emulate other Muslim-majority countries which are already taking steps to address child marriage as a problem.

"A man was jailed in Indonesia for sexually abusing a minor after he married a 12-year-old girl, and even Saudi Arabia is mulling over a ban on child marriage. "Studies on child marriage point to harm suffered by children, particularly girls: the loss of childhood and adolescence, denial of freedom and personal development, difficulty in accessing education, health problems due to early pregnancies and abuse," she said.

The marriage of the 14-year-old child is only the tip of the iceberg as many more cases of child marriage go unreported.

According to Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Heng Seai Kie last October, 16,000 girls aged below 15 in the country tied the knots.

Malaysia refuses to ban child marriages

(AFP) - Malaysia's law minister on Wednesday shot down calls to ban underage marriage, despite an uproar over the recent wedding of a 14-year-old Muslim school girl.

Siti Maryam Mahmod wed 23-year-old teacher Abdul Manan Othman last weekend in a mass wedding at a major mosque, after being given permission in an Islamic syariah court.

Malaysian Muslims below the age of 16 are allowed to marry as long as they obtain the permission of the religious courts. Sharia law runs in parallel with civil law in the multi-ethnic country.

Nazri Abdul Aziz, a minister in the premier's department in charge of legal affairs, said the government has no plan to review laws allowing for underage marriages because the practice is permitted under Islam.

"If the religion allows it, then we can't legislate against it," he told a press conference.

"Islam allows it as long as the girl is considered to have reached her pubescent stage, once she has her menstruation," he added.

However, Siti Maryam's marriage has sparked criticism including from Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who insisted the government did not condone the practice.

Activist groups have also called for the laws that allow underage marriage to be repealed, saying that the practice is widespread with some 16,000 Malaysian girls aged below 15 already married.

"The onset of puberty is no indication of sufficient maturity for marriage," pressure group Sisters in Islam said this week, citing a passage in the Koran which also requires "maturity of mind".

"No marriage of a minor child can be deemed acceptable," said the group's spokeswoman Yasmin Masidi.

Muslim Malays make up about 60 percent of the country's 28 million population and on certain issues, including family law, they are subject to Islamic justice.

Ketuanan Melayu lebih sesuai disebut Kedaulatan Melayu, titah Sultan Johor

(Bernama) - Ketuanan Melayu lebih sesuai disebut "kedaulatan Melayu" kerana ia mencakupi kedudukan Raja-raja Melayu dan rakyatnya dan bukannya soal antara "tuan" dan "hamba", titah Sultan Johor Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.

"Ketuanan Melayu merujuk kepada kedaulatan di negeri Melayu dengan kedudukan raja sebagai puncak kerajaan negeri-negeri Melayu," titah baginda semasa merasmikan Multaqa Ulama Darul Ta’zim di sini hari ini.

Menurut baginda apabila British memberikan kemerdekaan kepada negara ini, mereka menyerahkan semula Tanah Melayu kepada tuannya iaitu Raja-Raja Melayu dan rakyatnya.

Ini kerana, awal sebelum kedatangan British dan sebelum kedatangan mana-mana bangsa ke negara ini, telah wujud tuan kepada tanah ini iaitu Raja-Raja Melayu dan rakyatnya, titah baginda.

"Sejak dulu lagi, ketika negeri-negeri Melayu belum dijadikan sebuah Persekutuan, Raja-Raja Melayu dan rakyatnya menerima orang luar sebagi tetamu dan memberikan mereka ruang mencari rezeki serta sama-sama membangunkan Tanah Melayu. Apabila sudah menjadi Persekutuan, hak-hak kaum lain terus juga dijaga dan dihormati serta dijamin oleh Perlembagaan," titah baginda.

Sultan Ibrahim bertitah baginda membangkitkan soal mengenai ketuanan Melayu memandangkan masih ramai rakyat tidak memahami perkara berkenaan dan menyalahtafsir maksudnya yang sebenar.

Baginda mengingatkan orang Melayu supaya bermusahabah diri dan mempertahankan ketuanan Melayu memandangkan ada orang Melayu sendiri yang mahu menolak kedaulatan Melayu yang telah termaktub dalam Perlembagaan.

"Berdasarkan perkembangan semasa, suka saya mengingatkan kepada orang Melayu sekalian supaya muhasabah diri dan segera kembali ke pangkal jalan," titah baginda.

Sultan Ibrahim bertitah sistem raja dan kerajaan Melayu yang telah wujud ratusan tahun dahulu tidak pernah putus malah kekal sehingga ke hari ini serta termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Menurut baginda, konsep kedaulatan Melayu yang merangkumi kedudukan Raja-Raja Melayu, Islam sebagai agama persekutuan, Bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa kebangsaan, hak-hak istimewa orang Melayu dan hak-hak lain juga tidak pernah melihat orang lain sebagai orang luar di negara ini.

Baginda meminta golongan ulama memainkan peranan menjelaskan dan mempertahankan ketuanan Melayu selain menegakkan hukum-hukum syarak.

Sultan Ibrahim juga mengingatkan rakyat supaya terus mempertahankan fahaman ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah dan mengamalkan ajaran Islam mengikut Mazhab Syafie bagi mengelak perpecahan.

Bagi mengatasi masalah yang timbul berkaitan akidah, ibadah dan fahaman Islam, baginda mencadangkan kerajaan Johor mewujudkan kumpulan pemikir Islam yang dianggotai pakar termasuk ulama, ahli perundangan dan sasterawan bagi membincangkan masalah berkaitan masyarakat Islam dan penyelesaiannya.

Baginda turut meminta ulama menyebarkan ilmu dan pengetahuan melalui penulisan sebagaimana yang diamalkan oleh ulama silam seperti Imam Al-Ghazali dan Imam Syafie.

Sultan Ibrahim juga mengesyorkan pengwujudan pusat pemurnian akidah serta pusat kajian, penyelidikan, pengembangan dan penyebaran Mazhab Syafie.

Malaysia lost a patriot with death of Fan Yew Teng in Bangkok yesterday

All who know Sdr. Fan Yew Teng grieve at his passing in Bangkok yesterday, losing his personal battle to cancer.

As I alluded this morning when Parliament observed one-minute’s silence as respect to Fan and condolence to the bereaved family, his wife Dr. Noeleen Heyzer and his twin daughters, Malaysia has lost a patriot as Fan had fought many important battles for justice, freedom, democracy, human rights and good governance for the country and people in his life.

Fan was Acting DAP Secretary-General for a year from October 1969 when I was detained for the first time under the Internal Security Act at the Muar Detention Centre, and had held various important positions in the party, including National Organising Secretary and Editor of the party organ, the Rocket.

In 1969, Fan was elected MP for Kampar and under the cloud of a prolonged sedition trial, he was elected MP for Menglembu in Perak and Selangor State Assemblyman for Petaling Jaya in 1974.

Even before his full political involvement and at an extremely young age, Fan already made a name for himself as trade union leader, especially as editor of the organ of National Union of Teachers (NUT).

Fan’s parliamentary life was cut short when he became the first victim of the repressive sedition laws in the country for publishing as editor of Rocket a speech by the then Penang DAP chairman Dr. Ooi Kee Saik at a dinner to welcome my release from ISA.

Fan left DAP over party differences before the 1978 general elections but two decades later, he returned to the DAP fold in 1998 and was in the forefront in the party’s battle for justice, freedom, democracy, human rights and good governance.

Fan contested in the 1999 general elections in the Perak State Assembly seat for Tebing Tinggi but was not successful.

I will attend Fan’s funeral service in Bangkok with other party leaders which is scheduled for next Wednesday.

Fan will be remembered not only as a patriot, but a humanist and a fine human being.


(Note: Fan’s family has set up an email account for those who wish to send their condolences: fanyewteng@gmail.com )

Parliament: I Did Not Mean To Hurt Feelings Of Other Races - Ahmad Zahid

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 (Bernama) -- Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the Parliament on Wednesday that he had not meant to hurt the feelings of any race when citing lack of patriotism as a reason for the low presence of non-Malays in Armed Forces.

Ahmad Zahid told Parliament that he did not mean to hurt the feelings of the non-Malays when citing in Parliament on November 9, that non-Malays made up less than 1 per cent of new recruits in the Armed Forces for 2008 and 2009 and that the small number was due to a "low spirit of patriotism".

"I feel it is unfortunate if my answer to the House in November had hurt the feelings of any race," said Ahmad Zahid when offering his clarification after question time this morning when the issue was raised by Ipoh Barat Member of Parliament M. Kulasegaran.

Kulasegaran who urged Zahid to apologize for his statement, said that the reason for the small number of non-Malays was not due to lack of patriotism but due to a lack of information and promotion.

The Defence Minister said he was well aware that history has proven non-Malays, including Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Kadazans, Dayaks, Sikhs and other groups had sacrificed, struggled, fought against the British and communist insurgents for the country's independence.

He also urged leaders of political parties, community leaders, non-governmental organizations and youth organisations to work hand-in-hand and improve the presence of the non-Malays in the Armed Forces so as to achieve the 1Malaysia concept.

Meanwhile, after Ahmad Zahid's clarification, the Dewan Rakyat offered condolences to the family of former Kampar and Menglembu Member of Parliament, Fan Yew Teng who passed away yesterday.

Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee informed the Dewan Rakyat about the death of Fan and called on members to observe a minute of silence as a mark of respect for the former Parliamentarian.

"On behalf of the Members and Parliament, I wish to offer condolences to Fan's wife Dr Noeleen Heyzer and his entire family," he said.

Fan, 69, died at the Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok yesterday after a six-month struggle against cancer.

He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Lawyers welcome law on protecting informers

The New Straits Times 


KUALA LUMPUR: The implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) 2010 has been lauded by the Bar Council.

Its president Ragunath Kesavan said although this was a good move by the government, he was concerned over its implementation.

He said it was important to explain to the people what were the agencies involved and the definition of whistle- blower.

"The government has always been introducing good laws, but the implementation should be good as well, only then would the people be confident with the new laws," he said.

"Take a look at the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission). It was a good commission, but many people think that it is biased," he added.

"In my opinion, the Act should be looked after by an independent party such as a public prosecutor," he said yesterday.

Former Bar Council president Yeo Yang Poh said providing whistle- blowers with immunity from civil and criminal action was a step forward.

"Without the protection, it would be difficult for any individual citizen to report something, especially when they know that they don't have the full facts.

"So, with the Act, they don't have to be fearful of the facts that they don't know."

However, he said, the WPA alone would not work and needed genuine political will, especially when it involved high ranking officers.

"The Act is a start, but for it to be successful, there is a need for thorough investigation and competent prosecution.

"Officials also have to take complaints seriously," he said.

"This is only the first stage. The whole process has to be fair, thorough and independent from politics to be really effective. Only then can it work," he added.

Lawyer Karpal Singh said the WPA was in the public's interest, especially in the sense of the people who give the information.

"But there must be a check and balance so that it is not abused," he said.

On Monday, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, passed by Parliament in June, would come into force on Dec 15.

He said the WPA would give whistleblowers protection in the form of confidentiality of their information and immunity from civil and criminal action.

The act also encourages people to report improper conduct and graft.

The whistleblower will be informed of the progress and steps taken at every stage of an investigation.