Share |

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Amid massive security, Egypt's Christians protest peacefully

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Hundreds of supporters of Egyptian Christians protesting a New Year's bombing that killed nearly two dozen of their members marched Tuesday night on a church in a Cairo suburb, where they were met by an equal number of security officers in riot gear.

For the first night since the car bomb, which detonated in front of a Coptic church in Alexandria, there were no reports of violence during the protests.

The car bombing death toll rose to 23, Egypt's state news agency MENA reported Tuesday.

Christians and Muslim supporters in the Shubra neighborhood of Cairo shouted their outrage over the Alexandria attack on Coptic Christians.

"With my blood and my soul I will defend the cross," chanted crowds of protesters, as they wended their way down Shubra Street toward a church. Some carried crosses -- up to 4 feet (1.22 meters) long -- emblazoned with messages of protest written in red ink to represent blood. Some protesters lay down on the street, prostrating themselves in the shape of a cross.

Protests had broken out in Christian areas of Egypt every night since the car bombing outside the Church of the Two Saints. But security forces beefed up their presence Tuesday in Shubra and Alexandria. Hundreds of officers -- outfitted in helmets with visors, body armor and carrying shields and night sticks -- lined the street, leaving a path for the Shubra demonstrators to pass.

Millions of people live in the Shubra neighborhood, home to a strong Christian population and many churches.

About 9 percent of Egypt's 80 million residents are Coptic Christians, according to the CIA's World Fact Book.

The Coptic Church bases its theology on the teachings of the Apostle Mark, who introduced Christianity to Egypt, according to St. Takla Church in Alexandria, the capital of Coptic Christianity. The religion is known for its rift with other Christians in the fifth century over the definition of the divinity of Jesus Christ.

‘Allah’ debate sank latest Umno, PAS talks

Nik Aziz remained tight-lipped over the events at the dinner. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — Umno and PAS leaders had to end their “Malay unity talks” at the Istana Terengganu here last Christmas Eve after debate centred on non-Muslims using the word “Allah” to describe their god, a dispute which remains before the Malaysian courts.

 
The Malaysian Insider understands that an Umno leader at the talks spoke about the need for Malay unity as he said non-Malays were seen to be taking advantage of a split between Umno and PAS to ask for greater concessions including the right to use the word “Allah”, in what was seen as a reference to the Catholic Church’s lawsuit to use the word in its Bahasa Malaysia publication.

However, sources said PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat defended non-Muslims and objected to that conjecture, giving a short history lesson to point out that even Prophet Muhammad’s father, Abdullah, had worshipped Allah although he was not a Muslim.

The Umno leaders at the meeting were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“The talk ended then when the King asked to be excused and Nik Aziz then took the opportunity to excuse himself too, saying he had a sore back,” a source familiar with the talks told The Malaysian Insider.
Nik Aziz had declined to make public details of the talks, but bits and pieces of the discussions have leaked out and this posturing by Umno leaders against non-Muslims will hurt their attempt to portray themselves as leaders of all Malaysians.


Abdullah made the invitation to Nik Aziz. — Reuters pic
The Kelantan chief minister had called for respect about the confidentiality of the meeting, saying only that he went to the Terengganu palace in Kuala Lumpur on the invitation of Abdullah, who was prime minister from October 2003 to April 2009.

 
“When I was hospitalised at the Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM) Kubang Kerian, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi visited me and informed me of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Sultan Mizan’s order for my presence with several leaders including Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang at a dinner in Istana Terengganu in Kuala Lumpur,” said Nik Aziz in a statement yesterday.

“Out of respect for Tuanku’s order I attended the function,” he added.
The Malaysian Insider reported on Monday that Nik Aziz had attended a private Christmas Eve dinner, hosted by the King, with Najib and Muhyiddin at Istana Terengganu.

The dinner was seen as another attempt to revive the talks on political co-operation with Umno in the name of Malay/Muslim unity.

The unity talks is causing concern among PAS allies in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) as it takes place just a week after the coalition had its second convention in Penang to discuss their policies and programmes ahead of snap polls expected this year.

The Malaysian Insider understands that PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail will meet Nik Aziz in Kota Baru today to get more details of the “unity talks”, which had occurred before in the aftermath of Election 2008 when Barisan Nasional (BN) under Abdullah lost four more states and its two-thirds parliamentary majority.

“Abdullah is trying to redeem himself for the massive loss in Election 2008 by bringing the parties together for Malay unity. But he blew his chances and it’s not his job anymore,” a BN source told The Malaysian Insider.


The question of political co-operation with Umno became a major campaign issue in the 2009 PAS election after it was revealed that its leaders, including PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa and Selangor chief Datuk Hasan Ali, met Abdullah and former Selangor mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo after Election 2008 to explore the possibility of forming a unity government.

Leaders aligned to Nik Aziz then accused Nasharuddin of conspiring to take PAS out of PR, but the deputy president successfully defended his post in a three-cornered fight with Mohamad Sabu and Kelantan executive councillor Datuk Husam Musa.

PAS now holds 23 parliamentary seats within the PR coalition and controls two states, Kelantan and Kedah. The other two PR-ruled states are Penang and Selangor.

Hadi and secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali met Nik Aziz yesterday over the unity talks but the party president declined comment on the meeting.

Sources familiar with the latest move to bring PAS into the BN government revealed that both Hadi and Nasharuddin would be given prominent roles in Putrajaya if the party decides to abandon PR, but Nik Aziz continues to be the major obstacle in bringing the party closer to the ruling coalition.

“Nik Aziz stands between us and the possible collapse of Pakatan,” a DAP leader told The Malaysian Insider.


Despite the rift and Facebook postings by his supporters lamenting the possible revival of unity talks with Umno, Nik Aziz has called on the public to stop speculating on the meeting.
“It would be unethical for me to talk about what had happened at the royal audience,” the Kelantan mentri besar said.

“Therefore I call on the media and any individual to stop speculating unnecessarily or making inaccurate statements for the sake of protecting the dignity of the palace,” he added.

No way up, so Khairy exits stage

Khairy’s links to Abdullah now appear to form a glass ceiling for
the Umno Youth leader. — file pic

ANALYSIS, Jan 5 — In the two years since capturing the prized Umno Youth leadership, Khairy Jamaluddin has travelled through the country to speak, debate, engage and even screw in some light bulbs but finds himself going nowhere in the party.

Unable to shake off the “son-in-law” tag, the scapegoating of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for Barisan Nasional’s (BN) abject performance in the 2008 general election has turned Khairy into a persona non grata in his own party as rivals aligned to the still influential Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed hold sway in Umno.

Years of ambition and success while Abdullah was prime minister came to an abrupt halt the moment Datuk Seri Najib Razak took over and Khairy’s decision not to defend the Rembau federal seat over the weekend is the result of 20 months of running around in circles and ending up in the same spot.

Without a seat in Parliament, he will likely step down as Umno Youth chief as well, after saying he will be “taking a break from politics” after the next general election, widely expected to be held this year.

While political analysts believe it is a well-timed “strategic retreat” given the opposition he faces within his own party, critics say the first-term MP is sulking after being sidelined since his father-in-law stepped down as prime minister in early 2009.

“Stepping down does not mean he’s surrendering but he’s taking time to realign his strategy,” said analyst Professor Agus Yusoff.

Khairy rose meteorically during Abdullah’s administration, becoming the vice chief for Umno Youth and gaining infamy as part of the “Fourth Floor Boys” who were said to have the ear of the then prime minister.

His influence continued to grow as he also became deputy president for the Football Association of Malaysia in 2007.

But personal success in Election 2008 at the age of 32 was bittersweet as BN’s historic failure to retain two-thirds of Dewan Rakyat and loss of five states signalled the beginning of the end for Abdullah.

As Najib’s inevitable takeover in early 2009 drew nearer, Khairy’s dizzying climb through the political hierarchy hit a wall.

After winning a bitter contest with Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir for the leadership of Umno Youth at the same time Abdullah handed over the party’s presidency to Najib, he was immediately accused of money politics by his detractors.

He has since been continuously snubbed in Cabinet reshuffles with Mukhriz and even Umno Youth vice chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim being appointed deputy ministers instead.

Agus observes that given Najib’s reluctance to bring Khairy into fold and the rivalry with Mukhriz, whose father Dr Mahathir continues to loom large in the party, “Khairy knows he can’t go far for now.”

Sunway Monash University lecturer Wong Chin Huat believes Khairy could be testing the waters to see what the reaction would be to his withdrawal from mainstream politics.

He noted that as the next general election held an uncertain future for both BN and PR, Khairy could be sitting it out before making a decision for the long-term.

“He’s still young so he can take time out to further his studies as he says he wants to do and make a clean break from the past,” Wong said.

Khairy’s planned retreat from mainstream politics comes despite his best efforts to defend Najib’s administration in political forums both physical and virtual, taking on Pakatan Rakyat (PR) politicians and supporters on both political and policy matters.

He remains Umno’s most visibly centrist leader and credible purveyor of Najib’s 1 Malaysia slogan of inclusivity.

But it has only isolated him further from a party that has been showing its hawkish tendencies and a Youth wing that traditionally leans even further right.

These include pro-Mahathir bloggers who now criticise Khairy’s move as that of a “sulk” and speculate that he is making a bid for a safer seat by inheriting Abdullah’s Kepala Batas constituency.

Others also believe he is making a tilt for Negri Sembilan mentri besar and gunning for a state seat instead.

But Khairy, who has mentioned before his desire to take a break from politics and further his studies, lashed out at such speculation on his Twitter account.

“You seen someone merajuk (sulk) work as hard as me? Cross 21 parliamentary kawasan (areas), 5 states in 6 days?” he stated yesterday, referring to his hectic schedule in leading BN Youth’s Jelajah 1 Malaysia programme to help fix damaged houses in those areas.

But for all the homes that he repaired across the country, it appears he is currently stuck in Umno’s doghouse.

Gay issue: ‘Why the lop-sided reporting?’

azman
PETALING JAYA: The Centre for Independent Journalism reprimanded the Malaysian print media for their lop-sided reporting on the Azwan Ismail video that was first made by a group called Seksualiti Merdeka.

“While we recognise newspapers’ prerogative to report quotes calling for action to be taken against gay Muslims, we are critical of the lack of balance in the news reporting on this issue,” said the NGO in a press statement.

CIJ also noted that on the whole there were “little or no attempt to obtain Azwan or Seksualiti Merdeka’s response to the criticism that has arisen; nor have other human rights and civil society groups been asked for their informed opinions”.

The media advocacy group also queried why local press opted to quote AFP, an international news agency when the story is a local story.

The Sun was the only print media that stood out as it had given balanced reporting on this issue.

CIJ also condemned the death threats against Azwan from various parties.

Azwan, an engineer, shot to fame after he stated his sexual preference in a video entitled, “I am Gay, I am Okay”.

The video was first aired in an event organised by Seksualiti Merdeka.

His open statement, however, did not go down well with many quarters.

The Malay dailies and the community made their displeasure known via various cyber platforms.

Some even went to the extent of issuing death threats against Azwan.

One prominent Muslim blogger took the government to task for its failure in curbing the spread of gay and lesbian activities.

A beacon of hope for refugee kids

dsc_0632_2633

PETALING JAYA: Dewan Pemuda PAS Pusat merancang untuk mengadakan perhimpunan seramai 30,000 daripada ahlinya pada 19 Februari depan di Kota Sarang Semut, Kedah.

Bertemakan “Masa Untuk Berubah”, Setiausaha Dewan Pemuda PAS Pusat Khairul Faizi Ahmad Kamil berkata himpunan itu merupakan langkah persediaan awal bagi Pemuda untuk menghadapi pilihan raya umum (PRU) ke-13 yang semakin hampir.

Khairul berkata ini merupakan perhimpunan kali ketiga selepas berjaya mengadakannya buat pertama kali di Markas Tarbiyyah PAS di Taman Melewar pada tahun 2002 yang mengumpulkan seramai 5,000 Pemuda PAS dan himpunan kali kedua lima tahun lalu di Kota

Bharu, Kelantan yang berjaya mengumpulkan 15,000 Pemuda PAS dari seluruh negara.

Selain mensasarkan penyertaan daripada anak muda khususnya ahli baru, PAS turut membuka ruang kepada anak muda bukan Islam yang mendaftarkandiri sebagai Penyokong PAS untuk menyertai perhimpunan tersebut.

“Sasaran 30,000 Pemuda boleh direalisasikan dengan mengharapkan penyertaan anak-anak muda khususnya ahli baru dan anak-anak muda yang menyokong PAS daripada seluruh pelusuk kawasan di dalam negara.

“Sebagai nilai tambah kepada kekuatan pemuda, himpunan ini juga turut melibatkan anak-anak muda yang telah mendaftarkan diri di dalam Dewan Himpunan Penyokong PAS (DHPP),” katanya dalam satu kenyataan hari ini.

Perhimpunan itu juga dijadual akan berlangsung selama sehari bermula pukul 8 pagi dan turut dihadiri beberapa pemimpin PAS Pusat termasuk Timbalan Presiden Nasharudin Mat Isa, Menteri Besar Kedah Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak dan ramai lagi.

“Pelbagai aktiviti menarik seperti pertunjukan motosikal, klinik bola sepak, dan pameran pemuda juga bakal diadakan dalam program itu.

“Satu perlawanan bola sepak yang akan menemukan pimpinan Dewan Pemuda PAS dengan bekas pemain bola sepak Kebangsaan akan diadakan pada sebelah petang,” katanya.

A Rotten Future Or What?

Today, I came across THIS LINK on the third issue of The Malaysia Economic Monitor (themed Inclusive Growth),November 2010 issued by the World Bank. The Preface of this 118-page report explained that the Government of Malaysia and the World Bank set up a knowledge partnership centered on the policy objective of transforming Malaysia into a high-income economy last year.

It said that "The Malaysia Economic Monitor series is a key pillar in this partnership and serves as a platform for public discussion, analysis, and the sharing of knowledge on the challenges facing Malaysia in achieving this objective."

The Executive Summary made the following points which I have extracted from THIS LINK and rearranged in bulleted format for easier reading:
  • Following a spectacular year-on-year recovery, the growth momentum of the Malaysian economy is ebbing.
  • After a period of crisis-related volatility, the economy transitioned into more normal patterns of growth: the pronounced inventory cycle began to subside, private consumption became more buoyant, and fixed investment picked up as capacity utilization gaps were closed.
  • Interrupting this process was the return of external weakness, with exports slowing in the second quarter and then contracting. Since import demand for export processing did not react immediately, inventory volatility picked up again.
  • As growth patterns normalized, inflation has recovered. But, the small rise in inflation, reaching 2.1 percent in August, was largely due to food prices, with little impact from non-food subsidy reforms. Bank Negara pre-emptively responded to the recovery in activity and inflation by raising the policy rate by 75 basis points between February and July to 2.75 percent.
  • Rates have subsequently remained flat, while a marked, yet relatively smooth, Ringgit appreciation helped contain price pressures. Asset price strength reflected resurgent investment inflows, as in the region, but outwards direct investment rose too. Steps were taken to liberalize the exchange rate regime, mainly to lower trade transaction costs.
  • Fiscal policy has also started to normalize. The 2011 Budget targets a deficit of 5.4 percent of GDP, down from 5.6 percent in 2010 and 7 percent in 2009.
  • The Government embarked on a first step to systematically reform subsidies in mid-July, raising energy prices, including gasoline and household gas, and sugar prices moderately. It also announced plans to adjust regulated fuel prices monthly, as a step towards indexation, but to date there have been no further adjustments.
  • Economic activity is expected to further decelerate in the second half of 2010.
  • Given the low base in 2009, growth of 7.4 percent is expected for 2010, before slowing to 4.8 percent in 2011. Domestic demand is set to continue to drive near-term growth.
  • The strength of global demand, both from the G3 and China, remains a key source of uncertainty. In addition, domestic sentiment is sensitive to reform progress relative to expectations while uncertainty over the impact of the ongoing reforms and associated investments further complicates near-term forecasting.
  • Achieving Malaysia’s Vision 2020 goal of high-income status requires average growth of 6 percent during the 10th Malaysia Plan period — a marked improvement on the 4.4 percent achieved over 2006-2010. The challenge is not only to boost the level of growth but to ensure that growth is inclusive and sustainable.
  • The policies and projects of the Economic Transformation Program are key to meeting this challenge through greater, and higher-quality, investment and productivity improvements.
  • Risks to medium-term growth remain - the extent of reform implementation and progress on fiscal consolidation.
  • The Government is taking steps to address both areas, but risks remain, both upside and downside. Until solid implementation of reforms is seen there is unlikely to be a groundswell of positive sentiment of foreign investors towards Malaysia.
  • In addition to the sustainability of public finances, the quality of public service delivery will be a crucial determinant of the success of the Government’s plans.
*end of excerpt
________________

Suffice to say the above points DO NOT paint a pretty picture for our future. It is imperative that as many as possible write and blog about this so that the status quo do not launch the next GE until and unless they put things in order.

Since the preface of this report confirms it is the collaborated effort of the Malaysian government and the World Bank, it has to be quite accurate in its analysis.

Now if so, judging from current trends and the way policies are being implemented or not being implemented, it is highly likely that some quarters will bulldoze their way through to launching the next GE as soon as possible BEFORE the rakyat realize how bad is the situation. If this scenario happens, it is sure suicide to launch the next GE without dealing with the problems as identified in the report. But then again, how many rakyat will read this 118-page report???

You have to!!! Please...at least speed read and see what they have to say in this official document.

In the section on Raising Economy-Wide Income-Earning Opportunities (page 12) says:

Inclusive growth rests on a vibrant economy that generates plenty of opportunities for all. To revitalize its weakening engine of growth and generate more economic opportunities, the Malaysian economy is in dire need of further investment climate improvements.

Important in this respect are labor market reforms that raise the level of employment, strengthen the labor market matching process, and reduce the degree of informality.

On December 18th, it was reported HERE that our Deputy Prime Minister said:

"The country has met the target of eradicating abject poverty this year following proactive action taken by the government to assist the affected group.

He said that based on the latest report received through the Government Transformation Programme on poverty, the achievement had been very encouraging.

“Although in this matter, the abject poor group can be said to be dynamic, not static, if the figure is zero today, maybe tomorrow there will be one or two entering the group due to sickness and so on. But in terms of actual measurement, we have met the target, and this is most encouraging,” he said after attending a poverty eradication programme “End the Poverty Era” organised by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development at the Muar district level here.

However, Page 12 of the report says this:


While Malaysia has made great strides in reducing poverty and inequality over the last four decades, significant challenges remain.

Deep pockets of poverty continue to exist and, despite notable reductions in the 1970s and 1980s, inequality has leveled out at comparatively high levels. A large share of households lives on low income levels at less than half of median income.

New challenges are also emerging as Malaysia prepares itself to become a high-income economy.

Raising the knowledge intensity of economic activity may accentuate income disparities across skill levels.
Fostering geographical concentration may amplify urban-rural differences.

Restructuring the sources of growth and introducing greater competition may raise the demand for social protection.

Given these challenges —existing and emerging—how can Malaysia fully meet the aspiration of an inclusive society?
*end of excerpt
______________

Do pay careful attention to the diagrams in Page 13 that give a graphic account of the situations.

As for the section on Promoting Investment in Human Capital,it is VERY DEPRESSING to read the following section from the report at the end of Page 12:

Many Malaysians cannot take advantage of income-earning opportunities because they lack the skills to do so. Some never got them in the first place, despite massive investments in education.

*My comment: So what did the writer mean by 'some never got them in the first place???? And how massive were those investments in education???

2. For others, skill needs have changed more quickly than the availability of educational and training opportunities. This points to the need to: strengthen—the provision and quality of—basic education in under served areas, vocational training, as well as employer and industry-led skills development.

*My comment: What will our leaders do about those recommendations and can they account for the fruit of their labor in those sectors?

Page 17-23 is rather technical. I just want to highlight the following section which I extracted from page 29:

INFLATION HAS RISEN GRADUALLY, BUT REMAINS BENIGN

Malaysia’s consumer price inflation rose modestly through the first half of 2010. By August the
headline inflation had risen to 2.1 percent year-on-year (yoy) from around 1.3 percent in Q1, and monthly inflation rates show a similar rising pattern (Figure 1.24).

Most other countries experienced a similar pattern, with varying reasons (Figure 1.25). The adjustment of some regulated prices towards the economic cost of those goods explains most of the rise in Malaysia’s headline inflation, especially since June.

Food prices led the rise in consumers’ cost of living. Food and non-alcoholic beverage inflation
increased from 1.4 to 3.1 percent from Q1 to August (yoy) (Figure 1.26). Fresh meat prices drove much of this increase, rising by 4.4 percent in the year to August, and the government responded in August by issuing licenses to import chicken to supplement domestic supply. Sugar is one of the most significantly subsidized food items, particularly in light of the rise in global prices this year.

This subsidy adjustment lifted its price by 14.3 percent in August, and this affected other confectionery prices too. Meanwhile weather-related increases in global grains prices had little impact on Malaysian food prices by Q3. While bakery goods prices rose by 3.0 percent in August, only 2.5 percent of the average Malaysian household’s spending is on grains other than rice, and government involvement in the wholesale market is likely to limit the impact from the disruptions to global supply.

*end of excerpt
________________

It is a long report which I urge each of you to read at your leisure to better understand the state of economic affairs in our country. Page 43 of the report states:

THE UNEVEN PATH TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY

The recovery in global growth in 2010 has been steady, albeit unspectacular and uneven. As policy stimuli are withdrawn, this trend is expected to continue. Growth in high income economies is expected to be lower over the medium term than before the crisis.

Recent data releases and leading indicators point to the fragility of the US recovery. The weakness in labor markets (and residential property sector) is unlikely to turn around in the near-term. Consumer confidence has dipped in recent months (Figure 2.1). However, the impact of its debt crisis on Eurozone growth as a whole has been relatively muted.

*end of excerpt
______________

Page 91 of the report also states:

Having achieved almost universal access to basic education, Malaysia is now focusing on improving the quality of that education, which could be improved further both in terms of raising average levels and reducing the considerable dispersion in equality. Arguably, knowledge and skills acquired at the basic education phase has great implication on the individual’s capability for continuous learning, adaptability to a changing labor market environment, creativity, and capacity to produce. Performance of Malaysia’s basic education has shown some worrying signs and significant disparity across different segments of the population.

Despite scoring higher than other middle-income countries in critical subjects like mathematics, the test scores of Malaysia’s students have declined over time. Also, compared with higher-income economies in East Asia and other countries around the world, Malaysia continues to lag behind in mathematics scores (Figure 3.24).

These results indicate not only that students—and eventually workers—are not ready to compete with students from higher income countries but also that their competitiveness in mathematics has been worsening over time.

*end of excerpt
__________________

What a depressing finding!!! The Education Ministry must tell us what they intend to do with that finding and their plans to improve our children's international competitiveness. Perish the thought of making historical changes with the History debate and do something that will put us on the world map for the RIGHT REASONS!!! We do not need waffling here and there with regards to policies made or changed at the whims and fancies of anyone but we need serious, basic and practical policies that are designed for the development of our children to be ready to compete in the international market!!!

Page 93 of the report shows that there is a mismatch between skills supplied and needed. For sure, the education sector plays a vital role here and must rise to the occasion.

I make no apologies for this very lengthy post. I would have written more but the report says it all most elegantly. Our leaders owe it to us to tell us what are their plans for the people in relation to the findings in this report. They have to - if they want to remain in power for the right reasons!

Perhaps they could pay special attention to the concluding paragraph of the report which I have extracted from page 108:


Making Programs Results-Focused and Fostering a Learning Culture

The monitoring and evaluation of social protection programs needs to be strengthened significantly to ensure that they are judged on the basis of how well they perform.

The factors that should be monitored include the timeliness and quality of information on the program’s inputs, its implementation status, and the outputs it has delivered. Detailed analysis of household data will yield information on the program’s coverage and incidence, as well as on how well the program is reaching its targeted beneficiaries.

It will also make it possible to assess the program’s impact on the consumption and well being of beneficiaries. Solid and rigorous impact evaluation is also necessary to assess the impact of particular interventions.

Much of the information needed for such evaluations is collected but severely under-used in policymaking and program management. What is needed are a results-focused management requirement for all interventions, a well developed monitoring and evaluation system, and a strengthened capacity of the implementing agencies (and government) to assess and to learn from experiences.

*end of excerpt

_____________________

The question that remains is : ARE THEY WILLING TO DO ALL THAT?

They HAVE to - if they love Malaysia and if they want to serve the rakyat and save us from a rotten future!!!

Rakaman Ceramah Di Felda Cempelak,DUN Tenang,Johor



Air force sergeant's detention hearing postponed

The New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court yesterday postponed the hearing of air force Sgt N. Tharmendran's habeas corpus application for his release from detention by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

Deputy registrar Rusita Md Lazim fixed Jan 17 for hearing.

His counsel, Amer Hamzah Arshad, told reporters the application, which was initially set for hearing yesterday, had to be postponed as his client needed time to reply to an affidavit by Batu Cantonment army camp detention centre commandant Lt-Col Mohd Razif Ramli.

"The respondent filed the affidavit last Thursday."

Tharmendran, 42, was arrested by army officers outside the Shah Alam court complex on a charge of being absent without official leave.

He had earlier been charged with three counts of money laundering.

He made the application on Nov 26, a day after he was arrested.

He named Razif, RMAF chief Gen Tan Sri Rodzali Daud and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as respondents.

Governor of Pakistan's Punjab province assassinated

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The governor of Pakistan's Punjab province was assassinated by his own security guard Tuesday, according to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, apparently because he spoke out against the country's controversial blasphemy law.

The security guard was arrested, Malik said. The shooting occurred at Islamabad's Kohsar Market, which is frequented by foreigners.

The guard, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, confessed to assassinating Taseer because "he did blasphemy of the Prophet Mohammed," said Naeem Iqbal, spokesman for Islamabad police. Qadri told police Taseer had described the blasphemy law as "the black laws."

The blasphemy law makes it a crime punishable by death to insult Islam, the Quran or the Prophet Mohammed.

After the shooting, Qadri immediately surrendered to authorities, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported, citing Malik.

Taseer was leaving the market when he was shot. The APP said he had had lunch with a friend at a cafe in the market. Earlier, Iqbal had said Taseer had gone into the market to make some purchases. He was taken to a hospital following the shooting, but died, apparently from blood loss, officials said.

However, Dr. Sharif Astori, spokesman for Poly Clinic Hospital, told CNN Taseer was "already dead when he was brought into the hospital."

Astori said doctors accounted for 26 bullets in his body. Most of the fatal wounds were to his chest, face, neck and legs, he said. Some of the bullets passed completely through his body.

Taseer knew he was targeted by some because of his stance on the blasphemy law, P.J. Mir, a Pakistani journalist and friend of Taseer's, told CNN. Mir said Taseer told him when the two ate dinner together last week that he had already told his wife to consider herself a widow.

Taseer "really felt for the people, felt for the people of all religions" and was not afraid to stand up for the downtrodden, Mir said. "Today we've lost a very good man."

He said Tuesday was a tragic day for Pakistan.

A spotlight was put on Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law in November when a Christian woman, Asia Bibi of Punjab province, was sentenced to death for blasphemy. A court found the 45-year-old woman guilty of defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed during a 2009 argument with fellow Muslim field workers.

An investigation by a Pakistani government ministry found the charges against Bibi stemmed from "religious and personal enmity" and recommended her release. The government also said it would review the law.

In remarks to CNN in November, Taseer said Pakistan's President, Asif Ali Zardari, would pardon Bibi if the courts did not.

"He's a liberal, modern-minded president, and he's not going to see a poor woman like this targeted and executed ... it's just not going to happen," he said.

"The blasphemy law is not a God-made law. It's a man-made law," he said. "... It's a law that gives an excuse to extremists and reactionaries to target weak people and minorities."

No "big, rich, powerful man" runs afoul of the law, he noted. "It's only the poor people who they want to, you know, either grab their property or threaten them or get into local disputes. So the law is actually an unfortunate leftover from a military regime. It has to go in due course or be amended, and I think the pressure is on us, is on the parliamentarians now," he said.

"People have spoken up, I'm very happy to say," he added. "I took the initiative and I think from all sides ... people are coming out and openly condemning the blasphemy law. I think that's encouraging."

Taseer said he would like to see the law "changed in such a way that it just basically says, if you insult any prophet, no matter who he is, that's a criminal offense, but certainly not punishable by death."

Reaction to the assassination from officials in Pakistan and beyond was swift. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said in a statement he "strongly condemned" the incident. The Pakistan People's Party, the nation's ruling party, said it would observe two weeks of mourning over Taseer's death, according to GEO TV.

"I am shocked to hear of the assassination of Salman Taseer," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement. "His death will be a loss to the leadership of Pakistan."

In the wake of Taseer's death, Pakistan's minority minister pledged to continue pushing for amendments in the law.

"I will continue," Shahbaz Bhatti told CNN. "I will campaign for this... these fanatics cannot stop me from moving any further steps against the misuse of (the) blasphemy law."

Asked if he was in fear of his own life, Bhatti said he was not, but "I am getting threats. I was told by the religious extremists that if you will make any amendments in this law, you will be killed. But I am ready to sacrifice my life for the principled stand I have taken because the people of Pakistan are being victimized under the pretense of blasphemy law."

The English-educated Taseer created "a host of highly successful businesses," according to his official website, and is "the pioneer of cable television in Pakistan." He introduced the first English news channel in Pakistan, Business Plus.

His website describes Taseer as an activist who stood up to Pakistan's previous military leadership, calling it a "brutal and medievalistic dictatorship." He was arrested a total of 16 times, according to the website, placed on house arrest several times and spent time in "jails around the country."

He married twice and had six children, according to his website, which also contained a quote from him: "You live life once, you live it by your principles and you live it courageously -- that's what it's about." He lived in Lahore, Pakistan.

Taseer's official Facebook page lists his favorite books as Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince" and biographies "of everyone -- from Napoleon to Richard Branson to Hugh Hefner."

He had been governor of Punjab province since May 2008.

CNN's Chris Lawrence and Josh Levs and journalist Nasir Habib contributed to this report.

Groups threaten to burn 'Interlok' books

(Malaysiakini) A coalition of ethnic Indian NGOs have threatened to burn copies of 'Interlok', a literature book used in secondary schools, if the Education Ministry does not withdraw it.

Coalition leader A Vaithilingam said that the book burning will be held during rallies in various parts of Malaysia should the ministry fail to heed the coalition's demand within one week.

NONE“If this book is not withdrawn, we will take drastic measures, we will run a road-show around Malaysia and we will burn the books,” he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

The coalition is upset because of the way the book portrays the Indian Malaysian community, in particular the men's treatment of their spouses.

Vaithilingam adds that the book also instills the idea among schoolchildren that the Indian and Chinese communities are 'pendatang (immigrants)'.

“It (the book) had made us look bad... it is degrading that we are labeled as paria, that we are poor struggling families and that we are immigrants,” he said.

Vaithilingam said that the book, meant for upper secondary students, would be implanting the wrong view of society among schoolchildren.

“If it is fiction, then it's fine... But making it seem real and to make it a literature book for the children to learn? This is not the way,” he said.
Does not reflect 1Malaysia
Vaithilingam also urged Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the education minister, to read the book before making any comments.

Vaithilingam added that that the book does not reflect Najib's 1Malaysia concept.
NONEVaithilingam also said the main contention with the book was not the word ' pariah' itself but because of the Indian stereotypes contained in the book.

“It (Interlok) implies that all Malaysian Indians are off the lowest caste, which is the 'pariah'. But that is clearly not true. So are all Indians 'pariah' just because our ancestors are from mainland?” he asked.

He urged the ministry to vigilantly scrutinise all required reading materials for schools, adding that he was surprised that the book was published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, the national language authority.

“It is vital to know how the writer gets it's information and how true it really is...before this, there were several books written by various writers about Indians coming here and the information was true, so there was no issues. But this (Interlok) is pure lies.

“If we, the country, wants division amongst the races as the main agenda, then by all means, don't withdraw this book”, he said.

Thus far, the education ministry claims that it will continue to gather feedback from the Indian community before deciding on the fate of the book.

Anwar Ibrahim must open Sivan temple within one week and not use his Indian mandores to make excuses for closing down this ancient temple.

url anwar
(see The Star 31/12/10 at page N4)

anwar ibrahim

AG answers MACC over link to Tajuddin Ramli

Gani Patail
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has convinced anti-graft authorities of his innocence after being linked to former Malaysia Airlines (MAS) chairman Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli, who is being investigated for graft in the flag carrier. The country’s top lawyer met Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) board and panel members for a dialogue this morning and furnished proof of his recent haj pilgrimage to Mecca which he was said to have travelled with Tajuddin’s proxy Shahidan Shafie.


MACC corruption prevention panel chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, who attended the two-hour session at the Anti-Corruption Academy here, told The Malaysian Insider that Abdul Gani had gone out on a limb to prove his innocence.

“He went overboard and gave us detailed accounts of his trip to Mecca, showed us vouchers and statements and many of us even thought it was unnecessary to have gone so far,” he said when contacted this evening.

Navaratnam said that MACC members were satisfied with Abdul Gani’s explanation and found that there was no need to investigate the allegations.

“We found that there was no case at all to accuse him of being linked to Tajuddin just because of this trip. It was irresponsible to allege that he was in any way linked.

“Panel members did not see it fit to investigate the matter as we do not go by hearsay allegations or irresponsible rumours,” he said.

Last month, Social Care Foundation chairman Tan Sri Robert Phang Miow Sin had called on Abdul Gani to clear the air over allegations made on the Malaysia Today website of the latter’s relationship with Shahidan.

Abdul Gani was alleged to have shared the same travel package to Mecca with Shahidan, adding suspicion to earlier claims that the lawyer had been “convinced” not to press charges against Tajuddin, who also once owned mobile provider Celcom Bhd.

Tajuddin is presently under investigation for graft following the national carrier’s whopping losses of some RM8 billion during his tenure.

Malaysia Today editor and controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin has also alleged that Shahidan, Tajuddin’s frontman, had fostered ties with Abdul Gani when he was formerly a police officer in Johor Bahru.

The portal had also published records and pictures of the duo’s trip to Mecca, under a package said to have cost about RM60,000 per head.

Shahidan was said to have picked up the tab.

Phang, who is also a member of the MACC’s consultative and advisory panel, had called for the claims to be investigated and urged Abdul Gani to break his silence.

“But we feel there is no need for this. These were just loose talks, rumours and speculations with no proper basis.

“Abdul Gani went to Mecca and it was for religious reasons so why soil it this way by attributing improper motives,” said Navaratnam.

In a press statement today, the MACC confirmed that the dialogue session had taken place and had addressed the allegations against Abdul Gani.

“Tan Sri Abdul Gani openly gave his feedback and explanation on his trip with his family to Mecca and the case involving MASKargo.

“The meeting was held on the request of Abdul Gani,” the statement said.

It added that a total of 30 of the 42 MACC board and panel members had attended the session.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed and other MACC top leaders were also present.

Navaratnam added that dialogue had also touched on issues plaguing both the MACC and the A-G’s Chambers, including the problem of “hostile witnesses” and lack of resources.

“MACC members felt that both MACC and the A-G’s Chambers are not given enough resources and we will take this issue up with the government.

“We would like more funding for the employment of consultants, legal and forensic experts as well as communications consultants,” he said.

He added that Abdul Gani had also revealed his plans to strengthen the A-G’s Chambers by employing outside experts and the formation of a training institution for lawyers.

“He also gave us the rundown on the MASKargo case and we were satisfied that he had followed the book and maintained the rule of law.

“To make allegations is one thing but to prove it in court is anothermatter,” said Navaratnam.

’45 days for 45-pg show-cause letter’


PETALING JAYA: Vocal PKR’s Padang Serai MP N Gobalakrishnan has been slapped with a 45-page show-cause letter this aftenoon.

Contacted by FMT later, he said he would request the party to give him 45 days to furnish his reply.

“I’ll be asking for a 45-day extension to respond,” he said, adding that the letter demanded a reply from him within two weeks.

According to Gobalakrishnan, the party wanted him to explain why he had openly critised the PKR leadership.

However, the Padang Serai MP refused to tone down. “I will continue raising people’s problems,” he said.

Asked on the possibility of him leaving the party, Gobalakrishnan denied that he would be doing so.

In recent weeks, Gobalakrishnan had used Twitter to voice his disgruntlement towards party supremo Anwar Ibrahim and other leaders.

The Twitter tirade intensified following Gobalakrishnan’s failure to secure the position of vice- president in the party elections.

More fury was unleashed when PKR appointed lawyer N Surendran as vice-president, who was criticised for not representing the Indian community and not being able to speak Tamil fluently.

In his most recent Twitter message, Gobalakrishnan questioned Anwar’s motive behind the closure of a Hindu temple in Bukit Gasing.

Earlier, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution confirmed that Gobalakrishnan was given a show-cause letter to explain the latter’s outbursts on Twitter.

“This (show-cause letter) is a normal procedure when there are party leaders who continuously attack the party without going through the proper channels,” he was quoted as saying.

PAS names Rais in ‘rape’ case, demands probe


KUALA KELAWANG: PAS has named Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim as the high-profile figure who allegedly raped his Indonesian maid four years ago.

The opposition party also challenged the 69-year-old Jelebu MP to deny the charge.

Referring to the alleged WikiLeaks disclosure of diplomatic whisper regarding the matter, Negri Sembilan PAS chief Zulkefly Mohamed Omar led a delegation of local PAS leaders armed with placards to file a police report on the matter.

The report was lodged by Jelebu PAS vice-chief Jamalus Mansor with the district police headquarters here this morning.

Naming Rais in the report, Jamalus urged the police to investigate WikiLeaks, Rocky Bru’s blog and Migrant Care (member of Migrant Forum in Asia and International NGO Platform on Migrants Worker’s Convention) regarding the matter.

Speaking to reporters later, Zulkefly called on the Umno minister to clear his name or resign.

“If Rais has any dignity, he should clear his name by suing WikiLeaks, Rocky’s Bru and Migrant Care over the allegation,” he said.

“WikiLeaks also reported that former Singapore premier Lee Kuan Yew believed that (Opposition Leader) Anwar Ibrahim was involved in the sodomy case. But at least Anwar challenged Lee to furnish evidence in court and the latter denied that he said it.

“If Rais does not dare to do this, then he should just resign from the Cabinet and as MP for Jelebu,” he added.

Najib must break his silence

The PAS chief also wanted Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to break his silence over the serious allegation.

“The country’s image is at stake because this allegation does not concern an ordinary citizen, but a Cabinet minister. Najib should be bold enough to clear this matter, and if the allegation is true, he must take action against Rais,” he said.

Meanwhile, another police report would be lodged on the matter in Seremban tomorrow by an NGO called Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM) led by PKR’s Badrul Hisham Shaharin.

In a text message to FMT, SAMM claimed they would expose evidence regarding the alleged rape case.

Contacted later, Federal CID director Mohd Bakri Zinin said that the police would investigate the allegation.

Previously, it was reported that based on the alleged WikiLeaks report, former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had purportedly covered up the rape case.

Khairy’s fire still burns

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin’s fervour for politics is far from extinguished despite his shocking Twitter announcement to take a break.

According to sources close to the energetic first-term Rembau MP, Khairy has yet to indicate any loss of interest in politics although he has confirmed that he will “stand down” from defending his seat in the looming general election.

“Yes, he may not defend his Rembau seat but he may contest for other seats,” said a political aide who spoke on condition of anonymity. “He is a politician through and through. That much I can tell you.”

The news that the charismatic Umno Youth chief will not defend his Rembau seat was first reported by the Malay-language news website M-Star. It quoted the MP replying with a terse “Yes” by text message when asked if he was being serious in his Twitter posting on Sunday.

He said in the posting that he would be taking a break from politics but not before ushering in more youth support for Barisan Nasional, which is gearing for snap polls widely speculated to be held in the middle of next year.

“Hope to help win more youth support for BN in 2011 & work hard preparing for elections,” he twitted. “Then I’m taking a break from politics. Can’t wait.”

The father of two further said the break would give him more time to focus on “other things” like furthering his education.

Hate remains

The sudden turnabout, amid his intense effort to rake in youth support into BN’s hands, has triggered waves of speculation.

His enemies in Umno say he is sulking from being sidelined. He is the only the second Umno Youth chief not to be given a ministerial post, while his deputy, Razali Ibrahim, and one of his defeated rivals in the contest for the Youth chief post, Mukhriz Mahathir, were both made deputy ministers.

Khairy’s decision also came after the announcement of a minor revamp in Umno’s state leadership structure. Mukhriz, a son of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was made the party’s deputy Kedah chief.

Sources close to Khairy admitted that he remained hated in the party, particularly among members of Mahathir’s camp, and that concerted efforts to kill off his political career were still a real threat.

Mahathir’s influence has played a pivotal role in denying Khairy a Cabinet title.

Najib impressed

Umno officials said party chief and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has been impressed with Khairy’s performance as Youth chief but that this was a double-edged sword and had caused an escalation in efforts to bury him.

A source said this could be one reason why he had decided to take a break. “The obstacles against his doing his job remain hard. Ironically, the problems are internal and not external.”

The source rubbished off allegations made by Khairy detractors that he was sulking.

“If he wanted to sulk and moan, he would have done so a long time ago, when he was not made a minister,” he said.

“He’s not your stupid orthodox Malay politician. He wants to do things differently and is honest in his intention to change things.”

Ketuanan Rakyat versus Ketuanan Melayu (UPDATED)

Umno says that Anwar Ibrahim and Dr Wan Azizah Ismail are traitors to the Malay race for opposing Ketuanan Melayu. Anwar and Dr Wan Azizah, however, propagate Ketuanan Rakyat. Today, for the first time, I am addressing this issue not in my normal cheong hei article but in an audio file. I hope you like this new format of listening rather than reading. Many say that I should reach out to the Malay audience so these sound files are in Bahasa Malaysia.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin

LISTEN TO THE RECORDING HERE

An indictment against the Christian community

"Are they not God-fearing Christians, just like Muslims are also God-fearing? Why then did the organisers remove the sacred crucifixes? Isn’t it logical to deduce that they are not God-fearing beings but Satan-fearing arse-licking politicians who claim to be Christians? God-fearing Christians would have defended the crucifixes, Jesus Christ and God. Do they value the presence of the PM more than God?" Jackson asked.

Thomas Lee Seng Hock, Sin Chew Daily

My friend Jackson Ng has raised a very rational and legitimate point in his comment in the Malaysia Chronicle on the matter of the Najib aides asking the organisers of the Christmas Eve gathering at the St John’s Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur to remove the crucifixes, and the banning of singing hymns.

Jackson asked why didn't the church organizers object to such unreasonable instructions?

Although he is not a Christian, Jackson said he decided to write on the issue because it is a matter concerned with the universal acceptance of basic principles and the rights of mankind.

He has rightly pointed out that the removal of crucifixes and the banning of hymn-singing at St John’s Cathedral constitute a violation of religious freedom guaranteed under Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution.

According to news reports, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s aides had ordered the removal, claiming that the crucifixes would be offensive to the prime minister.

Jackson said he was not only upset with the instruction given by the Najib aides, but more angry with the church leaders for their failure to stand up and speak out on the matter.

"Are they not God-fearing Christians, just like Muslims are also God-fearing? Why then did the organisers remove the sacred crucifixes? Isn’t it logical to deduce that they are not God-fearing beings but Satan-fearing arse-licking politicians who claim to be Christians? God-fearing Christians would have defended the crucifixes, Jesus Christ and God. Do they value the presence of the PM more than God?" Jackson asked.

"As it was, the organisers, for reasons best known to them, felt the presence of the PM was more important than their Jesus Christ and God. To them, it was more important for the PM to grace the function and, therefore, abandon Jesus Christ and their God. Disgraceful and shameful are two words best to describe the organisers," he said.

"God-fearing Christians must therefore start defending Jesus Christ and their God by throwing out the organisers from their holy house of worship. If not, they too are condoning what they did," Jackson said.

Strong words, indeed, but Jackson certainly is right to lambast the church leaders for being spineless cowards in the face of such violation of human, civil and constitutional rights.

Jackson's denunciation of the action or lack of it of the Christian leaders is perhaps the first public indictment against the Christian community in Malaysia, as far as I know. And it is not without justification, and surely, appropriate too.

One of the major reasons that the fundamental human, civil and constitutional rights are slowly being eroded is the failure of so-called community and religious leaders to stand firm and steadfast to preserve, protect and promote these rights.

I am very familiar with the Malaysian Christian community, having been a Christian for nearly 45 years and actively involved in teaching and preaching for nearly 40. Hence, I think I am well-qualified to make observation and comment on the Church in Malaysia.

There are basically three types of Christians in Malaysia.

The first common type is the introvert conservatives, who are generally shy, reticent, and typically individualistic self-centered persons, predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings, with nary a care for things outside the walls of their church.

These traditionally orthodox Christians are always concerned about their own "spiritual growth", and are generally timid and harmless. They live their lives in the familiar safe comfort zone of their church community, and speak a sort of churchy language, often convicing themselves that they will be okay if they go to church regularly, give often to the church and their pastor, pray always in whatever situation they are in, and shun, evade and eschew controversial matters, especially political ones. They dress decently and avoid elaborate and spectacular extravagant and lavish display of wealth and luxury. They made good church members and citizens as they never ask questions or challenge any rule, precept or instruction, no matter how excessive, unreasonable or even oppressive the rules and instructions are. They are generally afraid of anything official, especially the government and its enforcement agencies. Mention the ISA or May 13, and they will secrete cold sweat and clinched in fear.

Their pastors and church leaders love these church members, because they are literally under their complete control, and want them to remain in their innocent gullible situation. Hence, there is no real teaching of doctrines, biblical and theological matters, and on issues concerned with life, thoughts and faith in relation to the world outside the church. Actually, the pastors and church leaders themselves are as biblically and theologically disabled as their church members. Hence, they play church happily, and never growing beyond their religious pubescence. The church is their safe abode, and anything outside the church is none of their business.

The pastors and leaders of such churches generally avoid speaking up on issues, even if the issues affect their churches or their rights to religious freedom. They will not sign petitions to seek release of political and religious freedom fighters, and will not want to be part of the movement to struggle for the right to use the word "Allah" in the worship, teaching, preaching and publications of the Church. We have many of such Christians in the Malaysian Christian community.

The second type of Christians are the so-called Health and Wealth charismatics, whose main focus in their life, thoughts and faith is material wealth and luxurious living. Their church worship services are no difference from that of an entertainment disco joint, with whirling colourful psychedelic lights, with an intense, vivid and swirling abstract loud music and repeated chantings masquerading as worship songs that produce religious hallucinations and apparent expansion of spiritual consciousness.

Most of the worshippers jump, wave, swing, sway and undulated to the thumping rhythm of the deafening music, and wail loudly, with some making animal sounds. There is no solid biblical exposition, only entertaining motivation talks masquerading as sermons. A good preacher is one who tells a lot of stories and joke, and make the congregation laugh. No Bible message, just a feel good prosperity gospel.

Such churches are usually housed in mega complex with attractive facilities like gyms and swimming pools to attract members of other churches to their fold. There is no growth by evangelism or conversion, only the seduction of church members from other churches.

My personal observation is that most of these people are no different from those under the influence of psychedelic drugs, with their mental intuitive capability almost unilaterally being under the complete control of an irrational runaway emotion. These people are certainly brain-washed into giving large sums of money to their churches and pastors. Most of the pastors of such churches receive big fat pay packets, driving top brand cars, and live in luxury houses in upmarket residential areas. They go on church-sponsored overseas holiday masquerading as "mission trip" two or three times a year.

Obviously, the pastors, leaders and members from such churches couldn't care about what is happening in the real world outside their churches. They are in a world of their own. For the members, the churches are where they can find escape from their frustration, misery, griefs, mental suffering, and get release and relief for themselves. For the pastor, the church is a bigh income generator, giving him undreamt of wealth and luxury. The recent news reports of a mega church in Singapore, where the pastor is a multi-millionare is one example of such a church.

Such churches will not hestitate to remove any religious artifacts, like the Cross, and stop singing hymns and praying in order to receive a non-Christian VIP. To the pastors and church leaders, the Lord Jesus Christ is irrelevant so long as they receive material benefits such as government grants for their mega church building and facilities. After all, Christ is just a brandname of their religious commercial enterprise.

Finally, there are the radical non-comformist Christians, who will stick out their necks to stand up for their faith and principles. There is no organised body of such Christians, but they are found in various churches, especially the traditional denomination churches. These are Christians who are well-educated in their faith, know what it means to be "salt of the Earth" and "lights of the World", are professionals in the various fields in the secular marketplace, are outspoken and articulate in issues, especially on matters concerning the truth, righteous, justice, fairness, racial and gender equality, freedom of religious practices, freedom or speech and press, and accountability and transparency in the church and in government.

These are the Christians that the pastors and church leaders generally ignore and avoid, and will distance themselves from, for fear of getting into the bad book of the authorities. We don't find them holding leadership positions in the churches, but we see them active in the secular marketplace, spearheading the struggle for the advancement of God's kingdom among the people of the world, standing up and sacrificing career prospects for the sake of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

These radical non-conformist Christians will never allow their faith and ethics to be compromised for the sake of acceptance by any unreasonable and oppressive regime.

My friend Jackson Ng is right. It's time the Christians who are truly God's people stand up and be counted in the face of the increasingly exessively unloving and tyrannical repressive regime.

MUMBAI BRIDGE


1. I spent my annual holiday in India. After three days in Delhi I flew to Mumbai. The population of the city is 20 million spread over seven islands linked by bridges to each other and to the mainland.

2. From my window in the Taj Lands End Hotel I can see a bridge across the sea to the City Centre.

3. The bridge is curved forming a half circle from end to end. The centre part is cable-stayed with two supporting pylons. The rest, both the eastern and the western ends are supported by concrete pillars.

4. The haze is bad but the whole curved bridge can be clearly seen in the evening.

5. I wonder whether the Mumbaians protested about being curved and not straight.

Tenang: Kemuncak Keangkuhan UMNO-BN

Dari Suara Keadilan

Ketua Umum Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KEADILAN) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim menganggap Umno dan Barisan Nasional sudah sampai ke tahap terlalu bongkak, takbur dan angkuh sehingga sanggup membelakangkan perundangan negara demi menjayakan agenda politik jijik pimpinan mereka.

Menyentuh berkaitan isu perlantikan Datuk Mohd Khusrin Munawi sebagai Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri (SUK) Selangor yang baru, Ketua Pembangkang berkata belum pernah dalam sejarah lantikan itu tidak dirujuk terlebih dahulu kepada Menteri Besar.

“Umno dan BN sudah terlalu bongkak, sombong dan takbur. Saya nasihatkan mereka supaya jangan khianat (kepada rakyat Selangor), zalim dan fitnah.

“Pagi tadi Menteri Besar mengadap Tuanku Sultan dan Tan Sri Khalid (Ibrahim) diberitahu baginda tidak masuk campur dalam perlantikan ini. Jadi sekarang mudah bagi Menteri Besar untuk terus berunding dengan SPA (Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Awam) untuk selesaikan masalah ini,” kata Anwar dihadapan lebih 2,000 penyokong Pakatan Rakyat dan peneroka pada Majlis Mesra Bersama Rakyat di Dataran Niaga, Felda Cempelak di Labis malam tadi.

Majlis tersebut merupakan ceramah pertama Pakatan Rakyat di kawasan Dewan Undangan Negeri Tenang selepas pelancaran jentera pilihan raya kecil PAS di di sini Sabtu lalu.

Walaupun tiga trak Unit Simpanan Persekutuan, puluhan anggota polis serta lebih lima sekatan jalanraya dilakukan bagi menghalang kejayaan program Pakatan Rakyat namun golongan peneroka Felda Cempelak yang dianggap ‘jantung Umno’ tidak mengendahkan segala bentuk ugutan pihak keselamatan untuk mendengar amanat Anwar.

Anwar sempat menyentuh mengenai penubuhan Felda oleh bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Abdul Razak Hussein yang menjanjikan tanah untuk golongan Melayu miskin.

“Tun Razak berjanji untuk beri tanah kepada orang Melayu miskin dan berkata tidak akan rampas tanah mereka. Beliau janji dan beliau laksana janjinya.

“Anaknya, Datuk Seri Najib janji macam-macam, ETP, NKRA, KPI tapi satu pun tak jadi dan satu pun tidak ditunaikan,” tegas Anwar.

Beliau berkata PRK Tenang adalah penting kepada Pakatan Rakyat kerana kemenangan di negeri yang dianggap kubu kuat Umno bermakna isu serta perjuangan menegakkan keadilan untuk negeri Johor akan lebih berjaya.

“Kemenangan di Tenang tidak mudah, ini kami akui tetapi apa yang penting ialah istiqomah dan yakin serta terus berjuang. Kita tidak lagi boleh bergantung kepada Umno-BN kerana mereka bercakap tiga bahasa – di depan orang Melayu mereka menakutkan-nakutkan dengan isu Cina, di depan orang Cina dan India pula cakap lain.

“Pakatan Rakyat mempertahankan hak orang Melayu sebagaimana dalam Perlembagaan tetapi pada masa yang masa hak kaum lain juga dipertahankan. Inilah pendekatan kita.

Sementara itu Ketua Angkatan Muda KEADILAN Pusat Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin memberi amaran kepada Umno-BN suoaya jangan terlalu yakin kerana mungkin Tenang akan menjadi ‘ribut’ bagi mereka.

“PRK Tenang penting kerana ia akan menjadi pencetus kepada gelombang perubahan di bahagian selatan Semenanjung. Jadi pilihan raya kecil ini adalah peluang kepada rakyat Tenang khususnya dan Johor untuk membuat perubahan penting,” kata Shamsul.

ADUN Batu Caves Amirudin Sahri pula mengatakan pengundi di DUN Tenang akan membuat keputusan penting 30 Januari nanti yang bakal merubah landskap politik Johor dan seterusnya di seluruh kawasan Felda yang mempunyai majoriti pengundi Melayu.

Sebelum itu di Kampung Air Panas yang terletak kira-kira 10 km dari Labis, Ahli Majlis Pimpinan Pusat KEADILAN Abdul Rahman Yusof berkata perubahan amat perlu pada PRK Tenang dan Pilihan Raya Umum ke 13 kerana kerajaan Umno-BN kini lebih mementingkan golongan kroni dan kaum keluarga serta membebankan rakyat dengan kenaikan harga barangan keperluan.

“Keadaan ekonomi Malaysia ama berbeza ketika Datuk Seri Anwar menjadi Menteri Kewangan di mana
beliau pernah terpilih Di pilih sebagai Menteri Kewangan terbaik oleh akhbar Financial Times dan negara menyaksikan pertumbuhan ekonomi terbaik semasa beliau dipertanggungjawab mengurus kewangan negara.

“Sekarang ekonomi dan sumber kekayaan negara semuanya dibolot secara rakus oleh pemimpin Umno-BN dengan rakus sekali, Kata Abdul Rahman.

PRK Tenang diadakan berikutan kematian ADUN Tenang Datuk Sulaiman Taha, 59, pada 17 Disember lalu di Hospital Ampang Puteri akibat komplikasi penyakit kencing manis.

Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya menetapkan hari penamaan calon pada 22 Januari dan hari pembuangan undi pada 30 Januari.

Defuse Selangor constitutional crisis by suspending Khusrin’s appointment or Najib’s slogan of an inclusive 1Malaysia government would suffer another irreparable blow

The Chief Secretary, Tan Sri Sidek Hassan should defuse the Selangor constitutional crisis by suspending Datuk Mohd Khusrin Munawi’s appointment as State Secretary and consulting the Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim on the most ideal appointee to be the top Selangor civil servant or Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s slogan of an inclusive 1Malaysia government would suffer another irreparable blow.

Najib’s 1Malaysia concept proclaimed as its goal “to make Malaysia more vibrant, more productive and more competitive” by fully embracing “our diversity of ethnicity, religions and beliefs and, by being inclusive, build mutual respect and acceptance into a solid foundation of trust and cohesiveness”.

The 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme Roadmap made public a year ago had identified seven areas to achieve the ideals of 1Malaysia, with the ultimate goal specifically spelt out as to create a Malaysian nation where “every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second and where the principles of 1Malaysia are woven into the economic, political and social fabric of society”.

The seven areas are:

1.

The economy and national unity under 1Malaysia
2.

Education and national unity under 1Malaysia
3.

Promoting 1Malaysia social interactions
4.

Managing religious and cultural polarities
5.

Towards a truly 1Malaysia government
6.

Promoting and practising all-inclusive 1Malaysia politics.
7.

Promoting an all-inclusive 1Malaysia media.

A strong case can be made out that apart from massive propagation of the 1Malaysia logo in the past year, the 1Malaysia concept has suffered even greater setbacks rather make greater inroads in all the seven areas concerned.

The constitutional crisis over the appointment of the Selangor State Secretary without consulting the Selangor Mentri Besar underlines the fact that the Chief Secretary and the Federal Government are not prepared to set the example of being fully committed to a “truly 1Malaysia government” which fully embraces inclusiveness in a federal-state relationship involving different political coalitions running the Federal and state governments.

If the 1Malaysia concept of inclusiveness, to build and promote mutual respect and acceptance among Malaysians regardless of ethnicity, religion or beliefs (which must include political beliefs) is the guiding national spirit under the Najib premiership, the Chief Secretary would be even more mindful that he should consult with the Selangor Mentri Besar on the appointment of the Selangor State Secretary so as to strengthen trust and cohesiveness in Federal-state relations instead of inviting the opposite consequences.

A full-blown Selangor constitutional crisis over the appointment of the Selangor State Secretary would be proof that Najib’s 1Malaysia concept is an empty slogan – reason why the Selangor constitutional crisis should be defused immediately with the Chief Secretary suspending Kushrin’s appointment and fully consulting the Selangor Mentri Besar on the ideal appointee for the post.

First Government Halal Analysis Lab Ready In 2012

NILAI, Jan 4 (Bernama) -- The first government-owned halal analysis laboratory will be built in Bandar Enstek, here, next year with the first phase to cost RM27.3 million, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.

He was confident that Malaysia would be the first country to have such a facility as most labs which analysed halal and non-halal products were owned by the private sector, but the new institute-level lab would be placed under a government agency such as the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

"The lab will not only conduct research on food but also other products, and its services will be used by local and foreign clients," he told reporters after visiting the Malaysia Halal Institute Laboratory site in Bandar Enstek Tuesday.

He said Jakim currently had about 23 overseas clients as the department's halal certificates were recognised by Muslim communities worldwide.

"Construction of the halal institute on 16 hectares (40 acres) of land will begin in September and is expected to be completed in December 2012. It will start with a lab, guard station and 57 employees."

Jamil Khir said the lab was timely as the Halal Act would be legislated after the coming parliamentary session.

"After the Act is legislated, only Jakim will issue halal certificates and the private sector will not be allowed to do so anymore," he added.