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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pope rebukes Pakistan blasphemy law

Pope Benedict XVI has called for Pakistan to repeal its anti-blasphemy law and demanded that governments in predominantly Muslim countries do much more to protect minority Christians from violent attacks.

The law has been in the spotlight since November when a court sentenced to death Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of four, for insulting the Prophet Mohammad.

Speaking in his annual address to diplomats in the Vatican City, the pope said the law was a pretext for violence against religious minorities.

The speech comes just days after Salman Taseer, a senior Pakistani politician who opposed the legislation, was assassinated by his own bodyguard.

"The tragic murder of the governor of Punjab shows the urgent need to make progress in this direction," Benedict said.

It is rare for a pope to use a public speech to ask a country specifically to change one of its laws.

'Internal interference'

An influential religious party in Pakistan said the pontiff's remarks were offensive and amounted to interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs.

"The pope has given a statement today that has not only offended the 180 million Muslims in Pakistan, it has also hurt the sentiments of the entire Islamic world," said Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a senior leader of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI).

"This is an interference in Pakistan's internal matters ... we respect the pope, being head of Christians and their religion, but he should also refrain from interfering in Muslims' religious affairs."

While liberal Pakistanis and human rights groups say the blasphemy law is dangerously discriminatory against the country's tiny minority groups, Bibi's case has become a lightning rod for the country's Muslim religious right.

The JUI has led several demonstrations in defence of the law in recent days.

"There would be an unprecedented reaction in Pakistan if any attempt was made to amend or repeal the law," Hussain Ahmed said.

Attacks on Christians

The pope also used his address to diplomats representing some 170 countries to renew his condemnation of recent attacks on churches that have killed dozens of people in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria.

He said those attacks showed the need to urgently adopt effective measures for the protection of religious minorities.

"This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities," he said.

Benedict also called for religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, where Christians cannot worship in public, and communist China, which forces Catholics to join an official church.

"The particular influence of a given religion in a nation ought never to mean that citizens of another religion can be subject to discrimination in social life or, even worse, that violence against them can be tolerated," he said.

On January 1, the pope, worried by increasing inter-religious violence in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, announced he would host a summit of world religious leaders in Assisi in October to discuss how they can better promote peace.

Last month, Benedict said Christians were today's most persecuted religious group and that it was unacceptable that many had to risk their lives to practise their faith.

The Vatican is particularly worried about Christians in the Middle East, where continuing attacks, combined with severe restrictions, are fuelling a Christian exodus from the region.

Source: Agencies

NASA spots smallest planet yet discovered outside Sun's solar system

An artist's depiction of Kepler-10b, which NASA says is too close to its star to maintain liquid water and potential life.

(CNN) -- A NASA spacecraft has detected a rocky planet that is the smallest ever discovered outside the Sun's solar system, the agency announced Monday.

The exoplanet -- so named because it orbits a star other than the Sun -- has been dubbed Kepler-10b. It measures 1.4 times the Earth's diameter and was confirmed after more than eight months of data collection, the agency said. It is the first rocky, or Earth-like, planet discovered by Kepler.

"All of Kepler's best capabilities have converged to yield the first solid evidence of a rocky planet orbiting a star other than our sun," said Natalie Batalha, deputy science team leader for the NASA mission. "The Kepler team made a commitment in 2010 about finding the telltale signatures of small planets in the data, and it's beginning to pay off."

Kepler-10b's size and rocky composition would make it more likely than gaseous planets to contain liquid water, and perhaps life of some kind, if it were the right distance from its star, NASA said. However, it is much too close to the star -- 20 times closer than Mercury is to the Sun.

Kepler-10b's star is about 560 light years from Earth, according to NASA.

Still, the discovery has scientists optimistic about what else Kepler might be able to reveal.

"Although this planet is not in the habitable zone, the exciting find showcases the kinds of discoveries made possible by the mission and the promise of many more to come," said Kepler program scientist Douglas Hudgins.

The mission is the agency's first capable of finding Earth-size planets near the habitable zone, or the distance from a star where a planet can maintain liquid water and potential life.

The spacecraft measures size and other details by noting the tiny decrease in a star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it.

Subsidy cuts fuel Pakatan’s 13th GE offence

GOMBAK: Subsidy cuts on basic goods has become Pakatan Rakyat’s main campaign fodder to shore up support in the run-up to the 13th general election (GE).

Leaders from all three Pakatan component parties, led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, harped on the subject at a ceramah characterised by a typical Barisan Nasional (BN) bashing session here last night.

The assault on the federal government’s “subsidy rationalisation” programme, an apparent populist approach, is timely amid heated speculation that early polls may be held in mid-year.

The Najib administration claimed the cuts are necessary to balance the soaring budget deficit, but Anwar argued that the move’s aim was merely to replenish drying state coffers caused by widespread graft and poor governance.

Calling the present government “ignorant and arrogant”, the Permatang Pauh MP fired up the 600 who attended last night’s ceramah by accusing Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak of nepotism, claiming the cuts had transferred the nation’s high deficit burden to voters while helping crony companies maintain their hefty profits.

“The subsidies for the people is only RM11 billion but the subsidies for the four main independent power producers (IPPs) is RM19 billion,” Anwar said, adding that the four IPPs are well-connected to the Najib government.

Welfare is possible

The former deputy prime minister said the Pakatan-controlled Selangor and Penang governments have showed that it’s possible to avoid “cut-throat” policies if state resources are managed with transparency and accountability.

“When Penang was under BN, the state deficit was RM2 billion. Under the leadership of (DAP) Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, it now has a surplass of RM2 billion,” claimed Anwar, who is also the former finance minister.

Detractors have in the past claimed that Penang under the DAP government will run low on cash if it continues with its welfare policies like cash handouts for the poor and the old but on the contrary, Lim’s government was praised for its clean financial management by the auditor-general.

The same was said about PKR-controlled Selangor. Under the leadership of PKR’s Khalid Ibrahim, a former corporate marvel, the nation’s richest state also boasted a surplass account sheet along with increased investments.

DAP national publicist chief Tony Pua and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, who were also at the ceramah, said Pakatan aims to expand its “people-friendly” policies at a national level if they are voted in.

Pua said this “earnest” effort to introduce good governance is reflected in Pakatan’s 100-day reform pledges.

RM500 for civil servants

The pledges, considered Pakatan’s election manifesto and unveiled at the bloc’s second national convention last month, among others, acknowledge the role and sacrifices of civil servants by studying the current pay schemes and increasing the incentives for teachers by RM500 a month.

“It’s possible. We have shown that we can do it,” said both Pua and Azmin in their speeches.

Najib, however, rebuked the proposal, blasting the reform pledges as “irresponsible” and a populist measure aimed at merely raking in the votes but will bankrupt the nation if implemented.

Anwar disputed this. He claimed that a Pakatan federal government could afford to pay for a proposed allowance for teachers – projected to be RM3.2 billion annually – by eliminating the “wastages” of the BN administration.

“What is RM3 billion compared to the hundreds of billions spent on the federal government expenditures,” he said to thunderous applause.

School is a ‘cowshed’ for Indian students

BATU KAWAN: A plot of land, four estate staff quarters and a container do not a school make. But that’s exactly what 134 students in Batu Kawan Tamil school in Penang have been saddled with in addition to encroaching wild vegetation and snakes!

Fearful of their children’s safety and frustrated at their community leaders, several angry parents from the school banded together to form the school’s Parent Action Committee (PAC) in the hope of pressuring the state and federal governments into allocating some funds to build a new school.

Their efforts, however, have proved futile, according to PAC chairman A Annadurai.

“We have tried to see the politicians including (Deputy Chief Minister Dr P) Ramasamy for funds but have not been successful.

“The state government said it has given us land… now we have to ask the federal government for money to build the school.

“But this also is not easy… we have sent several memorandums to the federal and state governments. But they have not replied … they don’t seem keen on helping us build a new school,” he said, adding that parents were trying to raise the RM2 million needed to rebuild the “almost 100- year-old school”.

Another parent, Thanaletchumi, said, the school is no longer safe for students.

“The school building is now surrounded by jungle and it’s become a breeding ground for snakes.

“The school authorties recently caught a snake in one of the classroom,” she said, adding that everytime the school organised a programme, local leaders would come and make promises that never were fulfilled.

Racial discrimination

According to Annadurai, what is most frustrating is that other vernacular schools – Chinese and Malay – in the area are “beautiful buildings”.

“As an Indian I feel ashamed and disappointed seeing Batu Kawan Tamil school and what has happened to my people.

“After all these years our students are using a small container and the estate quarters as their classrooms.

“The Chinese and Malay schools in the area are beautiful buildings. Our school is a cowshed… it’s a symbol of the discrimination against Indians in the country,” he said.

The original, almost century-old Batu Kawan Tamil school building was destroyed in a fire eight years ago.

In an immediate reaction, the school was offered the temporary use of four estate staff quarters.

But what was temporary went on to become permanent!

When the school’s student enrolment increased, the school authorities ventured to ask the state administration for help and the then BN government gave them a container!

Just after Pakatan Rakyat took over Penang in 2008, the school was allocated a two-acre plot.

No difference between BN and Pakatan

But with no funds they cannot build their school, said Annadurai.

“Even though the school was given two acres for the new building, until today there is no development,” he said, adding that neither the school authorities nor the existing Parent-Teacher
Association were any help.

Some 250 Indian families live around the school.

Asked if the state government had come forward with any other forms of support recently, he said:

“Pakatan or BN, for us it is nothing new; their goal is to ensure that Indians remain poor and depend on their support for school books…

“I think the government does not want to face the Indian community… it is playing politics with the school issues,” he said.

Annadurai added that what was shocking was that Batu Kawan Tamil school came under the purview of Ramasamy.

Ramasamy is MP for Batu Kawan which has 9,000 Indian voters.

Jeffrey searching for common ground with PBS

KOTA KINABALU: United Borneo Front (UBF) and Barisan Nasional partner, PBS, are in discussions aimed at coming to some sort of understanding over the ideals championed by the two organisations.

Confirming the discussions, UBF chief Jeffrey Kitingan said PBS has many good leaders who support UBF’s agenda.

“There are many good leaders in PBS who have told us that they subscribe to what we’re doing in UBF. We are definitely moving towards unity with PBS where our agendas have converged.

“I have taken note of PBS’ stand and we are having talks. I have also spoken to leaders in other parties and we will make announcements,” he said.

Jeffrey, the younger brother of PBS leader Joseph Pairin Kitingan, said that he did not want to be misinterpreted “in the same way that UBF supporter, Daniel John Jambun, was misinterpreted in the media recently on issues concerning UBF.

“UBF issues press statements officially only through Nilakrisna James and if phone interviews are conducted, I have the locus standi to answer as the leader.

“It is not right to approach a supporter and put Daniel, our protégé, on the spot for an issue affecting UBF.

“I understand that half of what Daniel said was not even published by the newspaper which has taken his statements out of context.

“Since we have just started UBF, I would like to be given the chance to make people understand what UBF, the Borneo Agenda and the Borneo Alliance are all about without being partisan.

“We need to be united under a common agenda first before we Sabahans and Sarawakians can move forward with strength and confidence,” he said.

Pressure group

Responding to weekend newsreports that he and his supporters had rejected a PBS invitation to join the party, Jeffrey said: “Political parties can come later.

“My people are united in UBF but they are free to choose what political parties they want to join which subscribes to the UBF Agenda, but I am confident that when they do, they will seek my counsel.”

On whether UBF will only attract local parties, he said that all parties registered under the Registrar of Societies (ROS) are “national parties” and therefore there is no such thing as a “local” party.

He assured potential supporters that they need not resign from their existing political parties to join UBF because “at this stage UBF is just a pressure group and civil rights movement” aiming to unite Sabahans and Sarawakians into one force before there is further erosion of their rights.

“If two-thirds of Parliament agrees to further amend our laws which directly or indirectly erode our rights and privileges, we do not have the critical mass to be able to object,” Jeffrey said.

On whether UBF intends to challenge the validity of the Malaysia Agreement internationally, he said that UBF’s immediate plans are to educate the people on history, laws and economics.

He added that it is the Common Interest Group Malaysia (CigMa) which would bring the matter up to the international level.

He acknowledged that there are two issues frequently raised by the people – the legality of the Malaysia Agreement and laws restricting or eroding political and economic empowerment amounting to a breach of human rights.

“These are the issues which are infuriating the people. This is why we are pushing for the government to ratify international laws unconditionally to secure our full democratic freedom to question whether or not the laws which are passed or amended have been strangling our economic and political developments.

“We are also seeking to review laws which may have breached human rights,” he said.

Land grabs

Meanwhile, Jeffrey said that farmers at Kampung Sayap in Kota Belud had submitted a memorandum to UBF during its roadshow there on Sunday highlighting the loss of their livelihood and homes in areas which in the 1970s were designated for the cultivation of cocoa and other cash crops.

“The villagers have told me that in Taman Sabah the state has altered the boundary to take over lands that the villagers have cultivated for nearly 40 years. This is their main source of food and income.

“This is not an isolated case; it’s happening in other parts of the state as well,” he said.

“I suggest that we either move the boundary back to its original position and allow the farmers to continue with their cultivation or adjust the borders and take only areas which the farmers have not used for their crops.

“Just because the villagers are voiceless and naïve, it doesn’t mean that we can simply bulldoze our way through without hearing their objections first.

“They have tolerated this for a long time and lately have told me they are being forcibly told to leave the areas,” said Jeffrey.

Also present at the roadshow were other UBF leaders including Nilakrisna James and Zainal Ajamain.

Kontroversi ‘Interlok’: Kumpulan NGO lapor polis

KUALA LUMPUR: Sekumpulan badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) hari ini membuat laporan polis susulan tindakan kira-kira 100 penduduk berketurunan India membakar novel yang mencetuskan kontroversi ‘Interlok’ itu kelmarin.

Kumpulan NGO itu terdiri daripada Persatuan Penulis Nasional Malaysia (Pena), Gabungan Persatuan Penulis Nasional Malaysia (Gapena), Ikatan Melayu Asli Nusantara (Iman), Penasihat Persatuan Silat Selangor, Majlis Permuafakatan Persatuan Ibubapa dan Guru Nasional (PIBGN).

Laporan itu juga bagi mempertahan dan memartabatkan penulis novel Datuk Abdullah Hussain dan tindakan itu disifatkan sebagai menjatuhkan maruah penulis serta mengandungi unsur kebencian melampau.

“Kami prihatin kerana penulis ialah sasterawan negara dan tokoh yang menerima anugerah sastera negara daripada Yang Dipertuan Agong.

“Penghinaan terhadap sasterawan negara sama seperti penghinaan terhadap Seri Paduka,” kata Presiden Pena Mohamad Saleeh Rahamad yang mewakili kumpulan NGO tersebut.

Menurut beliau, pihaknya berharap agar pihak polis dapat mengambil tindakan memandangkan peristiwa itu boleh menyebabkan kestabilan dan keharmonian kaum tergugat.

Menyinggung perasaan kaum India

Novel Interlok terbitan Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka menjadi kontroversi kerana didakwa mengandungi unsur sensitif yang menyinggung perasaan kaum India pada halaman 211 dan 220.

Kelmarin gesaan itu dibuat oleh Parti Pogresif Penduduk, Parti Makkal Sakhti dan NGO Persekutuan Pertubuhan India Malaysia (Prima).Kira-kira 100 penduduk berketurunan India mengadakan demonstrasi sambil membakar novel Interlok di hadapan Dewan Sentosa,Majlis Perbandaran Klang baru-baru ini mendesak kerajaan mengharamkan novel tersebut dan menarik balik keputusan menjadikannya sebagai buku teks sastera.

Sepanjang demonstrasi kira-kira sejam itu, kumpulan itu menaikkan poster antaranya tertulis, ‘Hapuskan Interlok’, ‘Jangan Hina Kami’ dan ‘Fikir Dulu Sebelum Laksanakan’ selain menggantungkan kasut pada replika novel itu sebelum membakarnya.

Sementara itu, Penasihat PIBGN Prof Madya Datuk Mohamad Ali Hasan menyifatkan tindakan tersebut sebagai kurang matang.

“Pendidikan tidak seharusnya dipolitikkan. Sebaliknya perbincangan secara intelektual dan bertamadun adalah perlu,” katanya yang ditemui bersama kira-kira 30 ahli kumpulan NGO berkaitan di hadapan balai polis Dang Wangi di sini petang tadi.

Menurut Mohamad Ali, satu laporan polis juga dibuat di Ibu Pejabat Daerah Klang hari ini oleh sekumpulan NGO berhubung isu sama.

Katanya, kumpulan NGO ini akan menghantar memorandum membantah pembakaran novel Interlok kepada pejabat Menteri Pelajaran itu jam 3.00 petang esok.

Ini disusuli pula dengan perhimpunan secara besar-besaran NGO Melayu di Rumah Pena jam 2.00 petang Sabtu ini.

Manakala satu forum bagi perbincangan berhubung isu itu pula akan diadakan di Rumah Universiti, Universiti Malaya (UM) pada 26 Januari ini.

Forum ini dijangka dihadiri ahli akademik, ibu bapa termasuk wakil Pemuda MIC, T Mohan bagi mencari jalan penyelesaian berhubung hal ini.

Shame!! What a shame!! A trully crying shame!!!

We are unable to see ourselves as Malaysians, unlike our above stated neighbours who have no problem seeing themselves as Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians or Filipinos despite their much larger and certainly more complex ethnicity.

By J. D. Lovrenciear

Just take a look at the demographic status of Malaysia against other neighbouring nations, namely Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam. And we should be ashamed of the racial mess we (or more aptly, the politicians and their blinkered followers) keep spawning with each passing day as the 13th General Elections looms.

Indonesia has well over 230 million people; Philippines has over 89 million; Vietnam has 87 million; Thailand has 66 million; and Malaysia has a mere 27 million souls.

Yet we are far, far more a divided nation than the others. We are racists. Period! Shame!!

In terms of ethnic groups agian we lose out. The Thais have more than 40 ethnic groups; Indonesia has 12 ethnic groups but classifed under five main groupings of Javanese, Sundanese, Maduresse, Coastal Malays and others; Vietnam has some 54 ethnic groups and the Philippines has about 170 distinct indegenious languages spoken among its Spanish, Indian, Chinese, American, Japanese, Arab and other indigenious groups.

Malaysia meanwhile ony has five ethnic groups, i.e. Malays, Bumiputras, Chinese, Indians and others. And we cannot even think as One Nation, One People.

Shame!! What a shame!! A trully crying shame!!!

Mind you after over a half century of gaining independence and enjoying the same coalition party government all this while, we are unable to see ourselves as Malaysians, unlike our above stated neighbours who have no problem seeing themselves as Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians or Filipinos despite their much larger and certainly more complex ethnicity.

Who do we blame for the racial mess we are sunken into today? Now, do not deny the fact that there is well anchored racism mindsets in Malaysia. Look at how our politicians are riling us up every other day through their managed media with race based mantras.

In the first place look at our political party framework these past over half century. Are we not race based, i.e. UMNO, MCA, MIC?

Listen to how the politicians are frightening Malaysians with another potential May 13 again.

Hear the incessant arguments put forth that one race may take over another race and so one race must fight to safeguard its rights. Are these type of messages coming from politicians and even leaders not attesting that we are racists to the core?

Even the Sabahans and Sarawakians are better off than the West Malaysia people. At least they do not see themselves by ethnicity but stick their guns to calling themselves as Sabahans or Sarawakians.

Looks like even they are ashamed to call themselves Malaysians after all.

The blame and the whole blame rests on politicians and leaders. The rakyat have been poisoned with feed of racism for too long a period merely to divide and rule.

Yes, Malaysians must wake up lest they remain permanently the laughing stock in the eyes of their neighbours.

We cannot continue to count on race based politicking. This is Year 2011 not 1948 whence we were fighting foreign enemies.

It has to be Malaysia for Malaysians, nothing less, nothing more. And that is not unconstitutional. What IS unconstitutional is when able Malaysians remain unwilling to lend a hand to their less able Malaysians.

SABM Dinner Lecture: RPK - The Rakyat As The Third Force

Hi Everyone,
It gives us great pleasure to inform you that the speaker for SABM's fourth Dinner Lecture is Raja Petra Kamarudin, who will be addressing us from London via Skype.

Between social change and law

The Star
Director-General, IKIM

There are no easy answers – legal, social, religious or political – to the controversy surrounding the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to a 23-year-old man.

WHEN laws are drafted, lawmakers lay down general rules of conduct. They usually have in mind the average citizen over 21 years old. When the judge interprets the law, he usually speaks in terms of the average, reasonable man. Hence, in a world of average, reasonable men, law making is far less complicated.

But the world is full of exceptions, and the old adage has reason in it, that the exceptions test the rule. The exception in this context is that Muslim girls below the age of 16 and Muslim men below the age of 18 can marry only with the Syariah Court’s consent.

The marriage of Siti Maryam Mahmod, 14, to Abdul Manan Othman, 23, in July, 2010, was indeed a controversial case, which actually represents only the tip of the iceberg.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, was reported to have said the marriage was legal as it had the Syariah Court’s consent. It’s refreshing to know and to see that the minister is answering the controversies around this issue and not sweeping it under the carpet.

But, the main question still remains unanswered. Why did the Syariah court consent to the marriage? Why did the Syariah judge not request both parties to go for pre-marital counseling?

This is a sensitive issue and there are no easy answers to these questions. It strikes on many domains – the social, religious and political as well as legal.

The Syariah court’s decision in this case seems to contradict decisions on the matter by Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the highest religious body in the Sunni world, through a manual on the rights of Muslim children.

It reads: “Marriage in Islam is regulated by certain rules, namely, children must reach puberty and maturity so that they can get married.”

Similarly, Article 10 of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, provides that “marriage must be entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses”.

Even more telling, a similarly worded provision can be found in Article 23 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Siti Maryam, who had reached puberty, was reported to have given her free consent and was not coerced by her father.

The debate is not about puberty but whether she has reached the age of maturity where legal accountability is thrust upon her. Herein lies the difference of opinions.

The Convention on Children Rights (CRC) defines a child as a person less than 18 years old. Whereas, under Shari’ah law, a child has no legal capacity except when he/she has reached the age of puberty (baligh).

It is based in effect on the Islamic principle of ‘akl (reason) which may not necessarily be 18 years old. The child acquires that capacity when he/she reaches the age which Islamic law presumes him/her to have acquired ‘akl.

This is different in the various schools of thought, but it would appear that “maturity of mind” (rushd) in the context of certain transactions gives the child a limited capacity.

As opposed to general principles of Civil law which is used in the CRC, Islamic law, as a general proposition, creates a system of steps in ascertaining legal capacity. Above a certain age, when of “perfect understanding” he can participate in legal acts.

However, the guardian (wali) can intervene, if this is done in the interest of the child. After the child has reached the age of majority, intervention by the wali is no longer possible.

In Islamic law, on attaining puberty, a marriage may only be permissible; it is not mandatory by any interpretation. Neither the Quran nor the Prophet prescribed any fixed age for puberty or marriage.

Prof Tahir Mahmood stated that the supposedly lowest age of puberty for girls (nine years) was based on some precedents of 7th century Arabia, said to have been accepted by Imam Abu Hanifa 100 years later.

Two other jurists of Abu Hanifa’s time, Ibn Shubruma and Abu Bakr al-Asam, had disapproved of minor girls’ marriages, relying on some indications in the Quran.

While the great Imam’s viewpoint prevailed among his followers till recent times, many Muslim countries have now raised by legislation the lowest permissible age of marriage for girls and boys.

The first state law for this purpose was enacted in Egypt in 1923. Many other Muslim countries followed suit. The lowest permissible age of marriage for girls is now 18 in Algeria, Bangladesh and Somalia; 17 in Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia; 16 in Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Yemen; and 15 in those Muslim countries where family law has been codified.

However, the actual working of these enacted laws tells a different story. Nowhere in the Muslim world has the practice of the minor’s marriage been wholly abandoned.

Perhaps we should learn important lessons from India where the law to restrain child marriage has always been a toothless tiger. The Sarda Act and its provisions shared by other statutory family laws have failed to eradicate child marriage.

The old Arab practice of child marriage was not of Islam’s creation. Some great Muslim jurists of the past disapproved it on the authority of the Quran. The law in many Muslim countries does not allow it. However, these laws do not affect the legal validity of such marriage.

From the legal perspective, several studies have highlighted powerful critique of such laws, the lacunae in it as well as the confusions, contradictions, and lack of gender sensitivity inherent in the various statutes dealing with the age of marriage, the age of consent, and the validity of marriage.

These concerns were based on the fact that early marriage violates human rights to which a child is entitled: the right to health, to education, to equality, to liberty and security of the person and the right to make a free and informed choice of a spouse.

Many of these weddings are furtive and hurried. This not only deprives a young girl but also militates against opportunities to think through, especially on practical and interpersonal readiness for marriage.

Significant suggestions as to actions which can be taken by interested persons and, NGOs to challenge and change the existing situation are also proposed in such studies.

These outline strategies to help those who have been married at an early age, and for the prevention of early marriage through education, advocacy and alliance-building.

4 injured as Air Asia plane skids

An Air Asia plane carrying 130 passengers and crew skidded off the runway as it landed at Kuching airport last night.

Four passengers reportedly suffered minor injuries.

The accident happened when Flight AK5218 from KL landed at Kuching Airport at 10.20pm. A passenger said the plane veered sharply to the left and right after it touched down and then skidded off the runway onto soft ground.

The runway has been closed, and flights departing and arriving Kuching have been cancelled, Air Asia said on its website. “So now, everyone can’t fly?” said one tweet.

Services, however, are expected to be resumed later today.
I think airport authorities need to check on the drainage on the runway area. See Bernama report here.

Police dump 'second postmortem' demand

Gatco settlers feel abandoned

The word ‘pariah’ can cause disharmony in schools

The Star,

BARADAN Kuppusamy had obviously carefully studied the novel thoroughly before commenting on it. (“Unlocking the ‘Interlok’ issue” – Sunday Star, Jan 9).

However, he had grossly overlooked the repercussion and implication of the novel in a school/classroom situation.

No doubt the novel is well written by national laureate Datuk Abdullah Hussain, but the use of the word pariah and how these people were treated in those days could bring disharmony to a multi racial classroom.

It’s a compulsory novel for all Fifth Formers, who are going to be our country’s future leaders.

I am very sure our students are going to use the derogatory word pariah to mock their friends, and this is going to cause disharmony and chaos in the schools and in the country in the future.

Therefore, the word pariah and the description of this caste should be dropped from the novel.

Although the particular chapter (Keluarga Maniam) was written with the intention of narrating the history of Indian workers in early 19th century Malaya, it could have been easily done minus the derogatory word.

I urge the authorities to drop the derogatory word to maintain classroom/school harmony.

Seri Kembangan.

Unlocking the ‘Interlok’ issue

A new Form Five literature novel has kicked up a storm among certain quarters in the Indian community due to an offensive term, but the controversy can be diffused if the context of its use is properly explained.

THE novel Interlok by national laureate Datuk Abdullah Hussain that is compulsory reading for Form Five literature should be read, not banned or burnt just because some Indian leaders feel insulted by the mention of the caste system.

Several individuals and Indian organisations are protesting and want the novel banned simply because in one paragraph on page 211, the words kasta pariah or pariah caste are mentioned in the context of how the Tamils were recruited from various parts of South India and how they were packed into crowded ships and suffered long and dangerous journeys to arrive in this country.

The context of the paragraph is how the British masters brought the Tamils, mostly from the lower echelons of the Hindu caste system, to work and clear the jungles and start rubber plantations and later work the trees and produce the wealth for the colonialists.

The 418-page novel tells in a simple, easily read and engaging style the historical story of how our multi-cultural society came about with the beginning of colonial society and the arrival of Indians and Chinese labourers.

The novel should be read by all Malaysians, not just as a literature tool in Form Five, because in a nutshell, it tells the story of Malaysia and how the nation was born through the eyes of three main characters – Seman, Chin Huat and Maniam - and their families.

The story narrates the experiences of all three, their hopes and fears and how they come together and link or interlock in the final chapter, titled appropriately Interlok, which is also the title of the book.

In the contested political landscape today, Interlok is a must read for all Malaysians because it reminds us of the different strands that started in isolation to fit a colonial need but later their descendants came together as a struggling nation.

The novel is hard and tough where it has to be. It is a period novel and tries to tell the Malaysia story as it happened in a gentle and unassuming manner and with great respect to the people who left behind their loved ones and journeyed across the sea to a new land to seek their fortunes.

It does not seek to mock or ridicule any race – Malay, Chinese or Indian – but says it as it was a century and a half ago.

Hussain says although the Indian pioneers came from different parts of South India and were from different ethnic groups and were crowded like goats and sheep into the ships, they could get along because most could speak Tamil, the key Dravidian language.

He said they could find comfort in each other because they shared the same misery and dreamt the same dreams of making it in a new, unfamiliar land.

Besides, the author says in passing, most of the people on the ship were from the same kasta pariah and therefore did not fear being defiled as would have been the case in India a century ago, where intermingling between the lower and upper castes was prohibited by social norms and practices.

Hussain is honest and sincere in giving the complete picture, as best as he can, about how Indians and others arrived and their experiences. He should not be faulted for it.

The word “pariah”, from the Tamil word paraiyar or drummer, denotes the so-called lower groupings in the Hindu caste system that is the bane of a classless and egalitarian society in India and elsewhere where Indians have migrated and settled down.

Sometimes called dalit in India or nammavar among Tamils, they have suffered centuries of oppression and humiliation as untouchables and still do, but not as severely as in the past. That’s one reason why some take exception to the word because it still hurts – to hear it, read it and witness the discrimination.

Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi called them Harijan or Children of God in an attempt to turn the tables on the upper caste that controlled the politics and economy of the country.

The word “pariah” originally used against a group of oppressed people in India has entered the world’s lexicon and is frequently used for many, from songs, to people, to scientists with outlandish theories and to even mathematicians.

For many reasons, the caste system, an evil system of social structuring, has survived concerted attempts to eradicate it.

The Education Ministry has set up a committee to “study” the single, offending paragraph where the word “pariah” appears.

It is not necessary to remove the paragraph because if read in the context it is written, it explains that although the pioneers had a tough life and risked death, they could find comfort in a shared misery and a shared hope, a common Tamil language and a shared origin from South India, which also includes a shared kasta.

If this context is sufficiently explained to students, teachers and the reading public, including Indian politicians, there is no issue in using Interlok as Form Five literature reading.

Interlok gambaran realiti, bukan penghinaan – Awang Sariyan

BESUT: Kewujudan kasta yang digambarkan oleh Sasterawan Negara Abdullah Hussein dalam novelnya, Interlok, bukan suatu bentuk
penghinaan kepada mana-mana kaum malah merupakan realiti pada zaman berkenaan.
Penyandang Kursi Pengajian Bahasa Melayu, Malaysia-China di Foreign Studies University (BFSU) China, Beijing, Prof Awang Sariyan
berkata golongan kasta itu dibawa oleh penjajah Inggeris untuk manipulasi ekonomi mereka.
Beliau berkata Sasterawan Negara itu ialah seorang penulis yang menghasilkan karya berdasarkan fakta dan realiti sosial pada zaman-zaman yang dilalui dan disaksikannya sendiri.
“Novel Interlok adalah merupakan gambaran realiti sosial pada zaman berkenaan dan pengisahan yang melibatkan penghijrahan kaum
pekerja dari luar termasuk orang dari India memang terakam dalam karya-karya ilmiahnya,” kata Awang kepada Bernama menerusi e-
melnya di sini hari ini.
Beliau diminta mengulas tentang desakan golongan tertentu yang mahukan novel Interlok diharamkan daripada diangkat sebagai salah
sebuah novel untuk komponen sastera dalam Bahasa Malaysia tingkatan lima bermula tahun ini.
Mereka mendakwa novel berkenaan mempunyai elemen-elemen yang menghina kaum India di negara ini.
Beliau berkata Abdullah tidak membohongi fakta sejarah dengan mengatakan bahawa dalam kapal itu bersesak-sesak golongan Brahmin
atau golongan Ksyatria dibawa oleh Inggeris untuk menjadi buruh kereta api atau buruh di ladang getah.
Menurutnya, konteks yang menggambarkan suasana dalam kapal itu pula menunjukkan nilai murni golongan tersebut yang memiliki
perasaan dan kesediaan hidup bersama tanpa berasa bimbang oleh sebab berlainan taraf atau kasta.
Sehubungan dengan itu, Awang meminta supaya semua pihak membuat renungan yang rasional dan ilmiah dalam membuat sesuatu
rumusan dan perlu menghayati teks sastera dalam konteks wacana sosiobudaya dan sejarah, bukan berdasarkan sentimen sempit yang
tidak ilmiah.
Katanya, perkara tersebut akan bertambah rumit lagi jika isu itu dikaitkan pula dengan perhitungan politik yang sempit.

Paari to ‘Interlok’ horns with ministry

The MIC leader plans to file a writ of mandamus to compel the Education Ministry to remove the books from classrooms.
PETALING JAYA: A MIC leader is contemplating embarking on a legal collision course with the Education Ministry over the controversial Interlok novel.
Speaking to FMT, party central working committee member S Vell Paari said that he would file for a writ of mandamus to compel the ministry to withdraw the book from classrooms.
Seeing red over the matter, he said there was no point in sending memorandums and holding street demonstrations.
“This requires a more intelligent response, which is to seek legal recourse. When we give memorandums, they’ll say there will be a review, but the process will take one or two years.
“If we demonstrate, then some 50 years from now, another so-called scholar will pen a book claiming that the Indian culture is rooted in street demonstrations,” he said.
“Just because you watch Hindi movies, eat vadai and murukku, it does not make you an authority on Indian culture,” added the son of former MIC president, S Samy Vellu.
Vell Paari said that he consulted several senior lawyers, both in Australia and here, and was advised to file the writ of mandamus.
The MIC leader said he would also file a certiorari order to get the ministry to disclose documents to the court to show how this book was included into the Malay literature syllabus for Form Five students.
“We want to know the process in which these types of books are allowed to go through, who makes the suggestion, who does the review and who approves it,” he added.
However, Vell Paari said that he would wait for the MIC top leadership to return from a conference in India before making his move.
“I will raise this matter during the next CWC meeting on Jan 18 and will suggest to Human Resources Minister (and MIC’s acting number deputy president) Dr S Subramaniam to bring it up during the Cabinet meeting again. If nothing happens, then we go to court,” he added.
‘What if an Indian author disparaged the Malays?’
Criticising the decision to include the book into the syllabus, Vell Paari asked what would have happened if an Indian author had disparaged the Malay race instead.
“Would the authorities and all those defending the book accept it in the spirit of academia? Such books only serve to perpetuate stereotypes and sow the seeds of division in young minds,” he said.
Critics claimed that the Interlok novel, penned by national laureate Abdullah Hussein, painted an inaccurate picture of the Indian community, with regard to the caste system. They also took offence with the use of the term “pariah” (outcaste).
Those who defended the book, such as the National Writers Association (Pena), argued that the detractors had misunderstood the theme, or were exploiting the issue for political interests.
Pena secretary-general Syed Mohd Zakir Syed Othman said the book’s central theme was the integration of all races during the struggle for independence, the Japanese occupation and communist insurgency.
On Saturday, a group of NGOs had torched copies of the novel in Klang.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also education minister, ordered the ministry’s special committee to review the use of the book.

Samy Vellu, MIED ordered to disclose AIMST documents

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today gave former MIC president and MIED chairman S Samy Vellu and seven trustees 30 days to disclose documents related to the party’s education arm since 1990.
Commercial Court judge Abdul Aziz Rahim, who made the decision in his chambers, ordered them to provide the documents including those relating to the construction of the Asian Institute of Medicine Science and Technology (AIMST), which allegedly caused huge losses.
Abdul Aziz also allowed former MIC Youth chief A Vigneswaran’s application for the defendants to disclose copies of the letter of appointment of its former CEO P Chitirakala and her scope of work.
MIED had sought a total of 12 documents after High Court Judicial Commissioner Mah Weng Kwai on June 14, allowed an application to name MIED as the plaintiff in its proposed suit against the trustees of MIED.
Other than Samy Vellu, the other defendants are his successor G Palanivel, M Mahalingam, Dr T  Marimuthu, Dr SK Ampikaipakam, Dr Karnail Singh Nijhar, K Kumaran and G Vadiveloo.
Abdul Aziz set tomorrow for case management to fix trial dates for the main suit.
Other documents sought under the custody, possession and control of defendants were documents showing monies received and paid out by MIED from 1990 up to the date Vigneswaran filed a RM100 million suit against Samy and the trustees of MIED on July 5, 2010.
The documents are:
  • copies of all documents including invoices in respect of legal fees paid to solicitors;
  • copies of all documents showing payments to third parties in respect of the book on Samy “Samy Vellu: As We Know Him”;
  • forensic audit reports for the year 2005-2008;
  • copies of all documents evidencing the payment by Abdul Rashid Abdul Manaf to MIED and vice versa;
  • interest-free loan to Hari Narayanan and Mumtaz Begum with repayment of said loans;
  • copies of documents evidencing purchase of all gifts from MIED from 1990;
  • Semeling land – payment of premium to the Kedah state government; and
  • copies of company’s resolution passed since 1990.
Counsel A Vasanthi, who appeared behalf of MIED, said the judge granted the application after he was satisfied that the plaintif had fulfilled all the three requirements that all the documents requested for must exist, must be within possession of defendants and relevant to the suit.
In the suit, MIED (Vigneswaran) claimed that all the defendants had breached their fiduciary and statutory duties, and failed to discharge responsibilities as trustees and auditors.
MIED is also seeking an injunction to restrain Samy Vellu from continuing to helm the institute,  stripped of his membership in MIED and for him to return all monies or profits made from MIED either by himself or through family members and close friends.
MIED is also seeking a court order to make Samy Vellu compensate for all the financial losses incurred by the institute in the time he had administered MIED as its chairman.
Vigneswaran, who is also a member of MIED, has sought the court’s permisssion to initiate the suit under Section 181A of the Companies Act 1965. This section of the Act requires a company seeking to be a plaintiff in a suit to first get the court’s permission to do so.

Anwar kehilangan detik saat terbaik selepas kegagalan rancangan 16 September?

By Merdeka Review,

Agak zalim seandainya sejarah dinilai sekadar pada kayu ukur menang-kalah.  Dari sudut ini, Anwar Ibrahim mungkin dinobatkan sebagai tokoh besar jikalau rancangan 16 September 2008 berjaya untuk menukar kerajaan persekutuan.  Namun, apa yang berlaku sebaliknya, Anwar dituding jari apabila Barisan Nasional merampas kerajaan negeri Perak dari Pakatan Rakyat pada Februari 2009, dengan cara "lompat parti", sebagaimana yang diuar-uarkan Anwar sebelum ini.
Persepsi umum menganggap PR hilang asas moralnya (moral ground) untuk mengecam taktik BN kerana pendekatan "lompat parti" inilah yang disarankan Anwar sebelum ini.  Malah, Pengerusi DAP Karpal Singh mendesak Anwar untuk berundur sebagai Ketua Pakatan Rakyat selepas rampasan kuasa berlaku di Perak.
Melihat kepada senario terkini, mungkin tidak kurang yang pesimis terhadap misi PR untuk menawan Putrajaya pada PRU ke-13.  "Program 100 hari" yang dijanjikan Konvensyen PR pada 19 Disember 2010 - selepas siri kejadian negatif yang menimpa PR - tidak menerima sambutan memberangsangkan sebagaimana yang diharapkan.
Situasi terkini mencungkil beberapa persoalan, apakah Anwar telah kehilangan detik saat yang terbaik untuk menjatuhkan kerajaan persekutuan BN selepas 16 September 2008?  Ia semestinya berbeza jikalau "Program 100 hari" diumumkan pada tahun 2008.  Lantas ia mencungkil persoalan selanjutnya, mengapa tumpuan PR dialihkan kepada rampasan kuasa, sedangkan beberapa agenda terpenting seperti reformasi sistem pilihan raya, kehakiman, kebebasan media tidak diberi keutamaan yang setimpal pada ketika itu?
Malah, mungkin ramai yang masih meragui "30 kerusi" yang bakal berhijrah, seperti dakwaan Anwar Ibrahim ketika itu.  Fenomena "keluar parti" selepas itu menambah kesangsian itu, apakah ia sekadar strategi Anwar untuk mengekalkan ahli parlimennya dalam PR - agar pakatan ini dimantapkan sementara meletakkan musuhnya dalam kedudukan bertahan?
Dalam satu wawancara bersama MerdekaReview pada 6 Januari 2011 di pejabatnya, Anwar tetap mempertahankan rancangan 16 September-nya ketika dihujani pelbagai soalan yang mempertikaikannya.  Beliau mengakui dirinya tahu sebelum kejadian "keluar parti" berlaku, meskipun tidak menguasai maklumat sepenuhnya, tetapi menafikan bahawa rancangan 16 September dibuat berdasarkan perkiraan tersebut.
Hilang asas moral dalam kes Perak
MR: Bagaimana kalau saya katakan, dengan adanya rancangan 16 September 2008 itu, ia menyukarkan Dato Seri untuk mempertahankan pendirian Pakatan Rakyat, bila Barisan Nasional merampas kerajaan negeri Perak dengan cara yang sama?
Anwar: Tak betul...
MR: Sebab ia melibatkan lompat parti.  Dato Seri mendakwa lebih 30 orang ahli parlimen yang bakal melompat pada 16 September.  Method lompat parti untuk menukar kerajaan ini digunakan dalam negeri Perak.
Anwar: Method lompat parti ini (digunakan) sejak tahun 1960-an dah-lah.  Pastikan sejarah kamu betul.  (Tahun) 1959 dah berlaku.  Jadi, bukan masalah orang pindah parti.  Dia pindah dengan program PR pada masa itu.  Program yang kita (utarakan), maknanya dia pindah... orang yang menyetujui program, agenda PR, ok?
Kalau dia setuju, dia pindah, jumlah cukup, baru berkenan Raja.  Isunya itu ialah agenda Pakatan.  Baru lagi kerajaan ditubuhkan... siapa yang setuju agenda baik BN, kekal BN.  Siapa yang setuju agenda PR, sertai PR.
MR: Tetapi pada pesepsi umum, mereka lihat PR hilang moral ground itu untuk mengkritik rampasan kuasa di Perak, sebab...
Anwar: Rampasan kuasa itu dengan apa?  Kamu ugut orang, kamu beli orang?  Kita bawa agenda.  Kamu setuju tak kita pindah ISA, atau batalkan ISA?  Kamu setuju tak Agenda Ekonomi Baru Malaysia?
Maknanya tak boleh?  Orang itu mesti kekal?  Makna saya kena kekal UMNO-lah, kalau itu argument-nya.  Kita masuk dengan PR, siapa saja setuju agenda perjuangan PR, maka dia diterima.
MR: Tapi alasan ini juga boleh digunakan oleh UMNO-BN...
Anwar: Tapi kita bagi bukti, orang itu kena ugut, orang itu kena charge mahkamah.  Orang itu ada hutang.  Dan dia tak bagi tahu kata dia tak sokong agenda PR, apa dia?
MR: Pada ketika itu, 16 September, rata-rata melihat saat itu adalah kemuncak sentimen rakyat untuk menyokong PR...
Anwar: Masa itulah ya...
MR: Yang tsunami politik itu dicetuskan kerana masalah rasuah...
Anwar: Ya, agenda Pakatan.  Jadi ahli-ahli parlimen Sabah dan Sarawak yang setuju agenda itu, termasuk peminggiran masyarakat Sabah, Sarawak.  Kalau dia setuju, dia dalam BN.  Tapi dia kata, Sarawak dia terpinggir.  Dia datang jumpa, dia kata kita nak jadi sebahagian daripada program baru ini.  Apa hak kamu nak nafikan dia?  (Alasan diberikan) "Oh, tidak, tidak, sebab kamu bertanding atas tiket BN, kamu tak boleh sokong agenda PR."  Tak boleh!  Dia kata dia mahu, 'masyarakat kita terpinggir, kita nak ikut Pakatan', pada masa itulah....
MR: Tetapi bagaimana pandangan Dato Seri, pada ketika itu, soalnya ISA, sistem pilihan raya.  Dia (isu-isu ini) dialihkan kepada rampasan kuasa untuk menawan Putrajaya?
Anwar: Dia masuk dengan agenda itu, kita jelas.  Maknanya siapa saja masuk PR, dia mesti tolak ISA, dia mesti terima Agenda Ekonomi Baru Malaysia, itu sahaja.  Apa hak kamu nak nafikan hak sesiapa, yang dalam UMNO, ahli UMNO atau ahli MCA yang kata "Now I have decided to join PR, because I reject ISA dan sebagainya..."
MR: Maksud soalan saya, fokus itu sebenar pada agenda-agendanya.  Tetapi pada kemuncak itu, dia dialihkan kepada...
Anwar tetap tegas, bahawa PR menekankan agenda pada ketika itu, dan menerima mereka yang sanggup membawa perubahan bersama dasar PR.  Beliau menolak tafsiran wartawan bahawa isunya dialihkan.  Anwar kelihatan jelas enggan mendalami isu tersebut, apabila menepuk tangannya untuk meminta isu selanjutnya.
Pakatan "under siege"
MR: Kita melihat baru-baru ini PR keluarkan Program 100 hari...
Anwar: Maknanya kalau masa itu pun (16 September), program yg sama.  PR, kita tak pernah berganjak dari prinsip itu.  Mengapa saudara (wartawan) nak tafsir berbeda, seperti mana UMNO suarakan?
UMNO yang mengatakan, kalau PR ini... kita compromise.  Kita jawab masa itu lagi, apa yang kita compromise?  Prinsip kita tak compromise.  Dasar ekonomi, siapa yang masuk, (dari) Sabah, Sarawak, bekas UMNO, kita tak kira.  Kamu masuk PR, ini prinsipnya.
Prinsip ini, kita kemudian formulate, kita olah dengan cara terperinci dalam Konvensyen PR terbaru.
MR: Ia mungkin sudah kurang memberangsangkan?
Anwar: Memberangsang atau tidak ini masalah lain.  Masalah kurang memberangsangkan kerana Perdana Menteri baru tukar, kempen yang berbeda, orang punya expectation (harapan) berbeda di negeri-negeri, dan isu juga berbeda.  Itu biasa, nak sustain (kekalkan).  Orang yang fikir masa itu enthusiasm dia boleh tubuh kerajaan cepat, dia sokong.  Dia nampak tak boleh, dia lompat.  Ada, kategori begitu.  Jadi ini menimbulkan persepsi yang kurang baik di kalangan rakyat.  Tapi ini harus kita betulkan.
Parti ini... (kerja kita) tidak setakat kita menulis.  Parti kita ni under siege (dikepung dan diserang).  Orang beli, orang ugut hari-hari.  Orang kena charge, jadi dia kena hadapi itu.  Dia tahan, dia duduk.  Dia tak tahan, dia lompat.
Masa itu masih baru.  Tahun 2008, keadaan macam Selangor.  Dia bertahan bukannya mudah.  Kamu bukan bekerja dalam keadaan biasa, kamu kerja dalam keadaan siege.  Tiap-tiap hari kamu dikecam, dihentam...
Soal penulis, pengkritik duduk di luar, dia tak sedar.  Kalau dia kena, belum tentu dia tahan.  Sebab itu, saya fikir sekarang ni, kita dengan pengalaman ini, untuk mendapat kebijakan baru untuk memilih kader-kader, dan pendukung atau calon yang jauh lebih kental.  Dia tak boleh bertahan kalau dengan yang dulu.  Tekanannya berat, dan saya sebut ini dari awal.  Kalau Dato Najib (gambar kiri) ambil alih, Dato Najib ni potensi, cara keras itu jauh lebih, daripada Perdana Menteri sebelumnya.
MR: Sebagai ahli politik berpengalaman, Dato Seri jangka tak, mereka akan lompat, selepas kemenangan tsunami politik itu?
Anwar: Ya, jangkaan tidak.  Tapi kita tengok juga mutu orang itu.  Dan kita juga tahu tentang beberapa rundingan dan sebagainya.  Macam di Perak, itu kita tahu berbulan sebelum itu.  Saya maklumkan kepada pimpinan Keadilan, PAS dan DAP.  Dia tidak mengejutkan saat akhir.
(Ahli parlimen) Kulim Bandar Baru.  Orang tahu enam bulan sebelum itu.  Cuma pada masa itu, kita fikir, kita fikir pecat cepat ataupun tangguh.
Kita tengok.  Rekod hutang, rekod kes mahkamah.  Kemudian rundingan dia dengan... ataupun kenyataan-kenyataan.
Kemudian, macam (ahli parlimen) Kulim Bandar Baru (gambar kanan), bila dibawa ke jawatankuasa disiplin, "oh tak boleh, kerana ada dua orang kafir dalam jawatankuasa".  Itu semua akan mengundang tindakan yang tegas daripada kita.

Jadi nak kata kita tidak tahu, kita tahu.  Mungkin kita tidak tahu semuanya-lah.
MR: Tapi dah menjangkakan-lah?
Anwar: Ya, sesetengah kita jangka.  Macam Kulim (Zulkifli Noordin) kita jangkakan, kemudian Bayan Baru (Zahrain Hashim), buat kenyataan yang kaitkan dengan....
16 Sept sebagai strategi untuk elak lompat parti?
MR: Jadi, kalau saya katakan rancangan 16 September itu adalah untuk menarik mereka supaya kekal, kerana mereka ada harapan untuk berkuasa?
Anwar: Tidak juga.... Dia orang, dalam keadaan dia rasa kita boleh ambil-alih (kerajaan persekutuan), dia dukung.  Dia berasa tak boleh, dia rasa patah semangat, dia keluar.  Tetapi pada masa itu, bukan pada kiraan orang akan bertahan atau tidak.  Pada masa itu, pada kiraannya, apa kita boleh buat agenda.
Kerana kalau berlaku, makna yang pertama kita lakukan ialah, bersihkan Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya, supaya pilihan raya boleh segera diadakan, dengan mandat baru yang bersih.  Kalau tidak, orang boleh bagi teori, tapi kalau kamu pertahan dengan kuasa yang ada, pilihan raya yang akan datang, pun dengan cara yang curang juga.
Beda kalau kita mampu ambil alih 2008.  Kita tidak akan pertahankan kuasa selamanya satu penggal.  Tapi kita akan bersihkan Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya, dan kita akan dapat mandat baru yang lebih meyakinkan.  Jadi dengan sendirinya terpadam isu 16 September.
Otherwise you tengok keadaan sekarang.  Kamu boleh bertahan, tetapi pilihan raya masih... Pada hakikatnya sekarang, orang bimbang pilihan raya akan datang jauh lebih curang.  Kerana jumlah undi pos yang jauh lebih banyak.  RELA, tentera, polis...
Yang saya lakukan itu dua, iaitu we break the psychological barrier (kita pecahkan batasan psokologi), bahawa kalau ada pemindahan kuasa, ia tidak menimbulkan huru-hara.  Orang terima yang itu.  Dan keduanya, bahawa hanya dengan perubahan kuasa, kita boleh dapatkan pilihan raya yang bebas dan adil.  Ia tak berlaku, bermakna kita hadapi cabaran yang lebih besar sekarang.
MR: Tiga tahun telah berlepas sejak PRU yang lalu, dan ada rakyat tidak merasakan ada perubahan yang besar dalam PR.  Jadi, adakah Dato Seri menganggap PR telah terlepas detik saat yang paling baik (the best timing) untuk meyakinkan rakyat bahawa PR boleh mentadbir negara ini?
Anwar: Well..., yes because people are getting impatient, they had been waiting too long.  But we tell them, that you know, we are under siege by the day.  (...ya kerana rakyat semakin tidak sabar, mereka telah lama menunggu.  Tetapi kita memberitahu mereka, tahukah kamu bahawa kita dikepung selama ini?)
Kamu memecah-belahkan kuasa itu, katak berada di sini sana.  Dan media membuat kesimpulan.  Siapa yang membuat kesimpulan?  Media.  Siapa yang mengawal media?  Itu soalnya.  Yang kata perception rakyat itu, kerana apa?  Kerana kuasa media.
Tetapi di kalangan mereka yang mendapat maklumat media alternatif... Saya berada di Permatang Pauh semalam.  Menarik.  Pergi ke kedai kopi yang biasa, tak ada program, tak ada notis, kita kumpul.  Kamu tahu?  Oleh kerana...ya boleh jadi Permatang Pauh, ya?  Kerana dia lebih peka... Saya pergi, (isu) Selangor dia bincang.  (Pilihan raya kecil) Tenang dia bincang.  Itu jauh lebih...bagi saya... positif!  Ini cakap-cakap orang kampung ni, Melayu... yang dianggap selalu keliru, soal kuasa raja... dia tidak (keliru).
Maknanya, kalau dia lebih terdedah kepada maklumat media yang bebas, dan berpendirian jelas, bagaimana sekali pun asakan media tidak akan mengubah pendirian dia.  Tapi soalnya, kita tidak mudah dalam hal ini, kerana soal media.
Dan kita juga kena tahu bahawa, UMNO tidak berdiam.  Dia terus asak, dia terus beli, dia terus pecahkan.  Dan dulu kalau blogger majoriti dengan kita, dia juga mampu membeli sebahagian daripada mereka.  Ada jawatan-jawatan baru, dan ini sedikit sebanyak... Melainkan orang itu sedar, dia mungkin fikir ini independent bloggers.  Dia no longer independent, they are UMNO bloggers.
Sebab itu saya caution orang-orang yang nak timbul perpecahan dalam parti atau PR, untuk fikir, apa alternatif dia?  Melainkan kita meninggalkan prinsip kita.  Dulu kita menentang ISA, sekarang kita sokong.  Atau dulu kita kata Agenda Ekonomi Malaysia, sekarang kita sokong Dasar Ekonomi Baru.  Itu isu fundamental yang kita tidak tolak-ansur.  Tapi tak ada, tak ada tolak-ansur dalam isu itu.
Lompat parti satu demi satu
Wawancara kemudian dilanjutkan kepada isu "keluar parti".  Meskipun isu ini agak lama, malah mungkin boleh dianggap "basi", tetapi MerdekaReview cuba mengeluarkan sesuatu yang mungkin terpendam dalam hati Anwar Ibrahim.
Beliau pada mulanya mempertikaikan istilah "orang rapat" yang digunakan wartawan, walaupun tidak berniat untuk menafikan bahawa mereka yang meninggalkan perjuangan itu adalah antara kawannya.  "Orang yang ditafsir sebagai rapat dalam parti, itu orang yang paling banyak yang dicari.  Dia (UMNO) tak akan cari... Kalau dia dapat umpamanya Ketua Cabang Pokok Sena, dia tidak...valuable.  Dan offer tidak semahal itu," jelasnya.
Bagaimana perasaannya, apabila seorang demi seorang meninggalkannya?  "Ya, tidak menyenangkan.  Tiada sesiapa yang akan gembira dengan benda ini.  Tapi saya realistik.  Kalau kamu memandang kepada sejarah, kamu melihatlah sejarah semua pergerakan di serata dunia... Adakah ini masalah yang sebenarnya, apabila orang keluar, parti habis?"
Beliau mengambil contoh PAS, yang pernah menyaksikan sejarah bagaimana bekas Presidennya Asri Muda meninggalkan partinya, sebelum UMNO yang menyaksikan hampir semua Presiden Parti pernah meninggalkan wadah parti itu, termasuk Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Hussein Onn dan sebagainya.
MerdekaReview mengambil contoh Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor (gambar kiri), yang pernah bekerja sebagai Setiausaha Politik Anwar Ibrahim sebelum beliau dipecat selaku Timbalan Perdana Menteri.  Ezam antara pejuang yang paling terserlah pada zaman Reformasi, sehingga ditahan di bawah ISA dan Akta Rahsia Rasmi 1972.
"I knew him, selepas saya dibebaskan... Tapi intention dia, dia kata, 'erm... you know, we have to survive Then, kalau kamu (Anwar) nak jadi Perdana Menteri, mesti jalan UMNO'.  Itu dia punya pendirian, konsisten," kata Anwar, yang tidak terkejut apabila Ezam kembali ke pangkuan UMNO pada Mei 2008, selepas tsunami politik.
Apakah faktor di sebalik fenomena keluar parti, selain "habuan" yang dikatakan itu?
"Kamu dah struggle lama, kadang-kala susah, pressure, duit tak ada, macam-macam.  So saya tak tahu apa yang sebenarnya.  Tapi saya tengok, masalah hutang, kena charge mahkamah, ada hukum.  Kemudian kalau kamu masuk saja, terus... semua settle!  Sangat menarik dalam negara ini...," sindirnya.
Apakah beliau terasa sedih apabila kawan dan orang di sisinya meninggalkannya seorang demi seorang?
"Terasa?  Yes.  Tapi kadang-kadang dalam perjuangan, ia juga membantu.  Pertamanya, bahawa kita pilih calon mesti yang betul-betul krediber dan wibawa.  Itu pengajaran.  Yang keduanya, kemungkinan ini proses pembersihan.  Lebih baik sekarang.  You menang besok, yang tak layak pun minta jadi menteri, bergaduh juga.  Kadang-kadang kamu perlu terimanya."
"Kamu cukup tabah untuk berdepan dengannya?" aju wartawan, "Ya, kamu perlu begitu," jawabnya.  Malah dengan nada ringan beliau mempersalahkan dirinya, "Boleh jadi juga kelemahan saya tentang sistem.  Cara saya tu, saya lebih toleran.  Kalau setengah orang, kalau ikutnya sebulan pertama dah pecatlah Zul (Zulkifli Noordin) tu, saya tangguh enam bulan..." (Bahagian kedua, bersambung)
*Wawancara ini dijalankan oleh Chan Wei See (Editor MerdekaReview, edisi bahasa Cina), Lim Hong Siang (Editor MerdekaReview, edisi bahasa Malaysia) dan Ong Vic Kee (Wartawan MerdekaReview, edisi bahasa Cina), di pejabat Anwar Ibrahim pada 6 Januari 2011.


1. Di antara kegagalan saya semasa menjadi Perdana Menteri ialah pemulihan dan pembangunan Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.

2. Setelah mengumumkan rancangan Kerajaan untuk membangunkan Kampung Baru KL, beberapa masalah timbul berkenaan dengan pemilikan tanah dan harga tanah.

3. Ramai penduduk Kampung Baru yang asal telah pun pindah dari situ kerana mereka setelah mencapai kemajuan mendapati Kampung Baru sudah tidak lagi selesa bagi mereka.

4. Di masa yang sama ramai tuan tanah telah meninggal dunia dan siapa pewaris mereka sukar dikesan.

5. Tuntutan harga oleh tuan tanah yang dikesan adalah terlalu tinggi dan ini akan menyebabkan kos pembangunan juga amat tinggi. Dengan ini orang Melayu tidak mungkin dapat membeli kedai atau ruang untuk kediaman apabila dibina. Mungkin orang bukan Melayu sahaja yang mampu.

6. Jika harta yang dibangunkan dijual kepada bukan Melayu maka akan hilanglah Kampung Baru sebagai kawasan Melayu di KL.

7. Untuk menentukan penduduk Kampung Baru terus berada di situ maka satu syarat yang telah dikenakan kepada pemaju ialah penduduk Kampung Baru bukan sahaja dibayar harga tanah tetapi mereka akan diberi tempat perniagaan dan kediaman di bangunan yang akan didirikan. Syarat ini boleh menjamin orang Melayu yang sekarang berada di situ akan terus berada di situ. Mereka tidak akan terusir keluar.

8. Tetapi sekali lagi syarat in akan menaikkan kos pembanguan. Pemaju Melayu mungkin tidak berminat. Bukan Melayu juga mungkin tidak berminat kerana kemampuan Melayu membeli amat rendah. Hari ini pun banyaklah tempat kediaman dan kedai yang diperuntuk kepada orang Melayu tidak dapat dibeli oleh mereka.

9. Oleh sebab ini pembangunan Kampung Baru KL gagal dilaksanakan semasa saya menjadi Perdana Menteri.

10. Saya berdoa Kerajaan kini akan berjaya membangunkan semula Kampung Baru supaya pelawat ke Kuala Lumpur tidak akan lihat kedaifan orang Melayu di negara mereka sendiri. Di tengah-tengah ibu kota yang penuh dengan bangunan pencakar langit, yang moden dan mewah terdapat kampung setinggan Melayu dengan rumah kayu berbumbung zink karat.

Rakaman Ceramah Perdana Shah Alam 09/01/2011

Malaysia's Rape Scandal: Was there One?

"I TOLD you it wasn't me!"
(Asia Sentinel) Or was it a political move to get rid of a cabinet minister?

Two Indonesian agencies, one a government body and the other an NGO, are offering opposing stories on whether an Indonesian maid was raped by Malaysian Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim in 2007. But whether she was or wasn't, it has become the latest episode in a feud between the 68-year-old Rais and Malaysian bloggers who gave the story wide currency, with overtones of an attempt to drive him out of the cabinet.

One agency said the woman, identified by her single name as Robingha, denied being raped although another said that four years ago she told them she had indeed been sexually assaulted. Jumhur Hidayat, chairman of the National Board for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Overseas Workers, said Friday in Jakarta that the maid had delivered a written statement to four of the board's personnel in central Java that she had never been raped and that she had been treated well in Rais's home.

However, Anis Hidayah, the director of Migrant Care, an Indonesian NGO, said the woman had reported in 2007 that she had indeed been raped and that a report had been filed with the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the Indonesian National Police. Anis Hidayah said Rubingah had claimed at the time that she had been raped.

"She told us in 2007 that she was raped," Hidayah told the Jakarta Globe, adding that the NGO had never meant to publicize the investigation beyond submitting it to authorities and the embassy. Despite reports otherwise, former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the report had not been given to the Malaysian cabinet while he was premier.

"Everybody here is treating it as if it's over," said a well-placed political source in Kuala Lumpur. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and other political figures hinted Saturday that the story about Rais could have been brought up now, amid rumors of a cabinet reshuffle, because his adversaries want him dropped from the government.

Any possible physical evidence obviously has long ago disappeared and at this point it would appear to be the maid's word against Rais's unless a witness were to suddenly appear, and it seems doubtful that the matter will go any further. Last week the minister issued an outraged statement denying the allegations and charged that bloggers and opposition parties were behind them. Rais dropped out of the running in 2007 to become Commonwealth Secretary a week after the date on the Migrant Care report on the allegations.

"I refute the allegations, whether they are about raping any individual four years ago or any other allegation, raised by bloggers on the Internet or by any political entity," he said, calling the report "heaps of libellous statements and awful, ugly and wicked lies."

The confrontation between Rais and the bloggers started in September last year. The bloggers are more closely connected to the United Malays National Organization than to the opposition, including one called Rocky's Bru, written by Ahirudin Bin Attan, President of the National Press Club of Malaysia, and a second, only known as bigdogblogcom. Rocky's Bru historically has been closely aligned with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad although insiders in Kuala Lumpur say Mahathir didn't have anything to do with the current controversy.

The two alleged that Rais' son's telecommunication company was one of nine companies which had benefitted from the government grant to develop the broadband connectivity access in Malaysia.

Ahirudin wrote a blog entry calling the information minister "Santa Rais" and intimating he had steered a RM1 billion contract to improve the country's 3G and broadband reception to three favored companies and hinting that Rais's son was somehow involved.

Rais told local media that none of his family members was "even remotely associated with those slanted and ill-intended allegations, and will forthwith assert my rights under the law and report the matter to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) so that an investigation could be under way".

He promptly filed a police report against Ahirudin and the bigdogdotcom blogger, who were hauled up before the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and asked to explain themselves.

The matter has also become a bone of contention between the two countries, which have been deadlocked over treatment of workers in Malaysia. Indonesia imposed a ban on allowing workers to go to Malaysia in June after a series of high-profile cases in which Indonesians were physically abused by their employers. Other issues included the guarantee of minimum wages for migrant workers and who must shoulder worker placement fees along with other issues. Indonesian workers say employers hold their workers' passports and many don't allow a weekly day off. Many Indonesian workers also complain that they are barred from associating with fellow workers or contacting their embassy.

Neither Indonesia nor Malaysia has ratified Convention 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining. Indonesia has not ratified Conventions 138 and 182 on abolishing child labor. Malaysia did ratify Convention 105 on eliminating forced and compulsory labor in 1958, only to reverse its decision in 1990.

1Malaysia test of Najib’s Political Transformation Programme – get all BN parties to speak with one voice on 1Malaysia with Utusan Malaysia stop being the biggest enemy of the 1Malaysia concept

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak spoke of his new “transformation” programme after his meeting with Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament on Saturday – political transformation.

Since becoming Prime Minister 18 months ago, Najib has been drumming the “transformation” mantra, with a plethora of alphabet soup like Government Transformation Programme (GTP), Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and now a Political Transformation Programme to gird his signature concept of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.”

But sadly, the country had never been more divided in the nation’s 53-year history than in the 18 months of Najib’s premiership, highlighting the hollowness and hypocrisy of his 1Malaysia concept, precisely because the loudest voice against Najib’s all-inclusive 1Malaysia concept had come from none other than UMNO’s official organ, Utusan Malaysia, which had been churning out a daily staple of lies and falsehoods to stoke communal hatred and national division.

It is most shocking and outrageous that in the past 18 months, there had been no serious effort to ensure that Utusan Malaysia, as the Umno’s official organ, should spearhead the 1Malaysia concept instead of being its biggest enemy and detractor with the daily diet of lies and falsehoods poisoning inter-racial and inter-religious relations and fanning national divisions in the country.

Why have the Ministers for instance, not only from Umno, but also from MCA, Gerakan, MIC and Sarawak and Sabah component parties, failed to raise in the Cabinet the gravest challenge and threat to Najib’s 1Malaysia – Utusan Malaysia’s daily lies and falsehoods to stoke communal hatred and illwill and undermine national division?

Apart from the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, is there not a second Cabinet Minister who dare to publicly declare his or her full commitment to the 1Malaysia objective and being a Malaysian first and race, religion, geography and socio-economic grouping second?

Or are all the other Cabinet Ministers in support of Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s declaration of being Malay first and Malaysian second – rejecting the 1Malaysia rationale where every Malaysian regards himself or herself as Malaysian first and race, religion, geography and grouping second?

The first test of Najib’s “Political Transformation Programme” is to get all Barisan Nasional leaders and parties to speak with one voice on 1Malaysia with Utusan Malaysia stop being the biggest enemy of the 1Malaysia concept with its daily staple of lies and falsehoods to stoke communal hatred and national division.

Can Najib’s political transformation programme pass this first 1Malaysia test?

Tenang By-Election : A Battle Of Women Candidates?

By Alan Ting

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 (Bernama) -- It may be the country's 14th by-election since 2008, but the Tenang contest on Jan 30 is likely to be the first between two women.

No political party has announced its candidate yet, but there are already signs that both Barisan Nasional and PAS could field a woman candidate.

A local woman leader of PAS resigning her teaching post last month after giving 24 hours notice has only fueled the speculation.

PAS finalised a list of two candidates, both locals, at its central committee meeting here last Sunday.

However, the party will only announce its choice at a party function in Tenang on Sunday, just days before the Jan 22 nomination.

Party sources said the former teacher, 38-year-old Normala Sudirman, who is the women's head in the Labis PAS division, is one of the two.

However, party secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali, when contacted today, declined to reveal their names, only saying that the candidate would be known on Jan 16.

But he confirmed that the party have selected two people, including a woman, both proposed by the PAS Johor state liaison committee.

Just as talk grows rife of PAS seriously considering a woman for the Tenang by-election, word is going around that BN will probably do the same.

Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abd Jalil intensifid speculation today when she called on the BN top leadership to choose a woman candidate.

And she told reporters that she had forwarded the name of Labis Wanita Umno leader Haslinda Salleh as candidate.

Hailing from Chaah, Businesswoman Haslinda is said to be one of the three potential candidates.

The other two are Rusdin Mahmud, an assistant headmaster and Umno Labis division deputy chief, and Hashim Daud, a retired headmaster who is the Labis Umno division vice-chairman.

BN is expected to announce its candidate on Jan 18 for the by-election which follows the death of BN assemblyman Datuk Sulaiman Taha on Jan 17 due to diabetes-related blood infection.

However, the by-election may turn into a three-corner fight with G. Sivanandan, a 50-year-old member of the National Union of Plantation Workers, expressing his intention to contest as an independent.

Sivanandan had said that he wanted to use the by-election as a platform to voice the problems of some 800 estate workers in the constituency.

Even so, the by-election will, to all intents and purposes, be a fight between BN and PAS.

Opposition's 100-Day Plan Irresponsible - Najib

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 10 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak lambasted the opposition's 100-day reform plan, which was unveiled last month, describing it as populist and irresponsible.

He said the plan was unrealistic because it did not state the source of fund to finance the undertaking.

"We should not be too populist to the extent of pawning the country's future. We should not act that way; it's irresponsible and will cause our children and grandchildren to suffer.

"In fact, it won't take that long; in just two years, according to our estimates, our country will become like Greece if the plan is implemented without regards to the country's means to implement it," he said at the Prime Minister's Department's monthly gathering here, Monday.

Last month, the opposition pact unveiled a 100-day programme which they said they would implement if they win the coming 13th general election.

It contains nine agendas including the management of the country, economy and education.

The plan includes asking Khazanah Nasional Berhad and the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) to facilitate the takeover of highway assets by the government to abolish tolls, revamp the subsidy structure to reduce subsidies for the private sector and shifting it to cover subsidies for the public, increasing teaching allowances to RM500 per month and getting rid of Felda Plantations to allow farms to be managed by Felda's second and third generations.

Najib said civil servants were knowledgeable and would be able to see the follies of such plan.

"I'm always of the opinion that if it's too good to be true then it probably isn't.

"If we believe in something that is too good to be true, then we are deceiving ourselves and we will be taken in by our own errors," he said, adding that the opposition's plan was all about populist measures but made no mention about the source of funding.

Citing buying a better car or a bigger house as an example, the prime minister said, any plan to do so should be based on whether one had the means to finance the purchase.

He questioned how would the opposition implement and fulfil what they had outlined in their plan.

Najib also called on civil servants to rev up the momentum further this year in implementing the country's major agenda and policies.

The prime minister added that all policies and plans implemented by the government were formulated out of its sense of responsibility to the people, something which he said was very much unlike the opposition's 100-day plan.

He also hoped to repeat and build on the success the government achieved last year when it steered the country past the adverse effects of the global economic crisis.

The government had also successfully kicked off it major plans such as the Government Transformation programme (GTP), National Key Result Area (NKRA), Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), National Key Economic Area (NKEA), New Economic Model (NEM) and the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP).

He said civil servants and public service institutions were crucial in making sure the government's plans were implemented and delivered to the target groups and to the people in general.

"I hope that these can be implemented promptly, in accordance with all the rules and financial procedures, so that we can achieve the vision of making the country a developed nation," he said.

Mr and Mrs Taib Mahmud

The much talked about Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his new wife just days before a crackdown on activists in the state ahead of what promises to be keenly contested state elections in March.
Mr and Mrs Taib Mahmud attending a wedding in Subang Jaya on Saturday - photo in Borneo Post
Image and report in The Borneo Post here.

PR will make Msia Greece? BN has ALREADY made Msia Greece

I do hate it when people say stupid things:
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak lambasted today the opposition’s 100-day reform plan, which was unveiled last month, describing it as populist and irresponsible.He said the plan was unrealistic because it did not state the source of funds to finance the undertaking.
“We should not be too populist to the extent of pawning the country’s future. We should not act that way; it’s irresponsible and will cause our children and grandchildren to suffer.
“In fact, it won’t take that long; in just two years, according to our estimates, our country will become like Greece if the plan is implemented without regard to the country’s means to implement it,”
First, allow me to refer you to my colleague Rafizi’s quick response, backed up with numbers and real research.
Beyond that, I do not enjoy rehashing comments already made, so I seek your indulgence in allowing me to repeat comments made last May, which I think are still eminently relevant:
Malaysia risks becoming the next Greece unless voters swallow subsidy cuts that will see the price of petrol, food, electricity and other staples rise, a government minister warned today.
Idris Jala, a minister in the prime minister’s department who heads the body advising the government, said that Malaysia’s debt would rise to 100 percent of gross domestic product by 2019 from 54 percent of GDP at present without the cuts.
“We don’t want to end up as another Greece,” he told a roadshow, referring to the European Union member whose debt woes have unsettled global markets.
100% disagree: subsidies is what could make us another Greece.
100% agree: we are on our way to becoming another Greece.
Now, I understand this Idris Jala chap isn’t too bad a guy, but what he is saying here is straight out of the BN bullshit spin handbook.
Does anyone believe for a second that the real problem behind Malaysia’s economy = too many subsidies?
I’ll admit that from an economic point of view, the issue of subsidies are contentious.
Nonetheless, I’m absolutely confident that it is a drop in the ocean compared to what is really destroying and ruining our economy, and truly bringing us close to a Greek scale tragedy: corruption.
Observe Wikipedia:
However, the Greek economy also faces significant problems, including rising unemployment levels, inefficient bureaucracy, tax evasion and corruption.
In 2009, Greece had the EU’s second lowest Index of Economic Freedom (after Poland), ranking 81st in the world. The country suffers from high levels of political and economic corruption and low global competitiveness relative to its EU partners.
Oh. Sound familiar?
No need to repeat our litany of RM 500 million submarine commissions, MCA presidents who get fired because of PKFZ investigations, missing jet engines, election bribery. (whoops, just did).
So, YB Idris and YAB Najib, please don’t try to mislead the rakyat. Removing subsidies hurts the least protected in society – why don’t you remove the corruption that is bleeding the entire nation dry, just so you can line your own pockets.