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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Anwar targeted as sexy dancers jazz up pro-BN dinner

(Malaysiakini) Over 1,000 Tenang constituents were treated to a sumptuous dinner last night with free beer, sexy dance performance and a lucky draw, featuring a 100cc motorcycle as the grand prize.

NONEThe pro-BN 1Malaysia dinner also featured a fiery speech by former Umno vice-president Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, who had made his political comeback by winning the Bagan Pinang by-election in 2009.

He made PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and PAS his main targets.

Describing Anwar as a liar, Isa cited the failed 'Sept 16 takeover plan' to take over the federal government and a promise to establish a shadow cabinet.

"Where are the shadow ministers? Are they talking about economy and development? No. The shadow cabinet has not been realised.

"These are all lies. We in BN have ruled the nation over 50 years. We don't need to give promises like the 100-day (reform) pledge. We are working on it every day," said Isa, who wore a orange t-shirt printed with 1Malaysia symbol.

"I know Anwar. We studied in the same university and we were both in Umno. If he really wants to help the Malays, Chinese and Indians, he would have done it when he was deputy prime minister and finance minister.

"The opposition parties are good at twisting (issues). They can twist from 180 degrees to 360 degrees. Anwar can be in front and at the back (depan boleh, belakang pun boleh). Gentlemen, please don't believe him," said Isa, drawing laughter.

Isa (left) alNONEso took a swipe at PAS, stating that the party had tried to portray DAP as an Islamic-friendly party by claiming that the latter had accepted the status of Islam as the religion of the federation and Bahasa Melayu as the national language.

"Who cannot accept this (status of Islam and Bahasa Melayu)? Nobody is complaining about it. Gentlemen, you can accept these even before you join DAP.

"(PAS spiritual leader) Nik (Abdul) Aziz (Nik Mat) is even insane. He said the DAP understands Islam (even when) we as Muslims sometimes don't quite understand (the religion). How can (DAP chairperson) Karpal Singh and (leader) Lim Kit Siang understand Islam just by being friends with PAS for two or three years? These are all lies!”

He pointed out that PAS has attempted to portray the selection of a woman candidate in the by-election as a recognition for women, but noted that BN had done so soon after independence by appointing a female minister.

"In the past, PAS had said women cannot become leaders. They have only changed (their mind) now because there are more female voters. If you follow PAS, you will go crazy," quipped Isa.

'Two faces of PAS'

MCA Labis MP Chua Tee Yong attended the event with Johor BN assemblypersons Tan Kok Hong (Bekok), Lau Chin Hoon (Pemanis), Lee Hong Tee (Jementah) and Ayub Rahmat (Kemerlah).

Chua revived the Islamic theocratic state controversy in his speech, saying that PAS has been showing a different face to each ethnic group on the issue.

"WheneverNONE they talk to the Chinese, they say they will not implement (the Islamic state), but whenever they talk to the Malays, they say they will definitely pursue the agenda.

"Voting for PAS is equivalent to turning Malaysia into an Islamic state. Voting BN means that you are supporting 1Malaysia," he said, repeated the argument in both Malay and Mandarin.

Chua also listed the BN contributions to the Chinese community under the leadership of its head and premier Najib Abdul Razak.

These include scholarships to all SPM top scorers regardless of race, as well as government scholarships and study loans to graduates of Chinese independent high schools.

"The Selangor government gave out 1,572 scholarships but only 15 were to non-Malays. Even their own leader Lim Kit Siang has questioned why - out of some 4,000 study loans disbursed by the state - only 12 were given to non-Malays," Chua added.

The dinNONEner themed 'Majlis Mesra 1Malaysia', was hosted by local businessman Lee Cheng Chuan, who is also president of the Johor Basketball Association.

More than 1,000 invited guests from Labis and the nearby town of Segamat, attended the dinner held at a Chinese restaurant in Tenang.

Young women in sexy outfits entertained the crowd, while the lucky draw enabled several to win prizes like a Kriss motorcycle, laptop, LCD television set and refrigerator.

According to Lee, the dinner was to enhance rapport among different ethnic communities, in line with the spirit of 1Malaysia. It was noted, though, the most of the crowd comprised Chinese Malaysians.

Ministry, MIC discuss Interlok today

(Malaysiakini) The Education Ministry and the MIC will dabble on outcries over Interlok, a required text for Malay Literature in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia today.

Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi said he would chair the meeting which would be held at the ministry in Putrajaya at 9am.

On the inclusion of two more panel members from the MIC, he said he had not been informed about it.

Dr Puad ZarkashiAsked whether he is willing to accept the duo, he said, "I do not know. You have to ask the education director-general (Abd Ghafar Mahmud) on the matter."

MIC president G Palanivel, in a statement yesterday, named two more panel members for the discussion.

They are Malaysia Hindu Sangam former president Nagappan Arumugam and Tamil Youth Bell Club president S Vaithlingam.

Other members are Malaysia Hindu Sangam president RS Mohan Shan, former head of University Malaya's Indian Studies Department S Singaravelu, current head S Kumaran, MIC education bureau chairperson T Marimuthu and former education ministry officer G Krishnabagwan.

Interlok, authored by national laureate Abdullah Hussain, which revolves on the integration of the Malays, Chinese and Indians in pre-independence Malaya, is said to contain words deemed sensitive to the Indian community.

- Bernama

Al-Turabi arrested in Khartoum


Security forces in Sudan have arrested opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi from his home in Khartoum, al-Turabi's Popular Congress Party spokesman told Al Jazeera.

Monday's arrest comes a day after al-Turabi's party called for a "popular revolution" if the Sudanese government did not reverse price increases.

"He has been arrested ... with five other members of the group, and we don't know the reasons, because when they come to arrest him they don't give any reason," Bashir Adam Rahma, told Al Jazeera.

"Whenever this regime has a crisis ... they will capture Dr Turabi at first. I think they are afraid of him that he might instigate some kind of uprising because ... in Sudan there are no freedoms," Rahma said.

"This is a very bad situation economically, and due to the winds of freedom coming from Tunisia, any dictator in the region is looking to see from where the danger will come.

"If they arrest people, they think they can stay in power."

'Popular uprising'

Earlier, al-Turabi said an uprising in north Sudan, similar to recent developments in Tunisia, was "likely".

"This country has known popular uprisings before," Turabi said in an interview to the AFP news agency.

"What happened in Tunisia is a reminder. This is likely to happen in Sudan ... If it doesn't, then there will be a lot of bloodshed. The whole country is armed. In the towns, it will be a popular uprising, but in Darfur, and in Kordofan as well, they have weapons."

Turabi has been in and out of jail since he left President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's ruling party in 1999/2000.

Source: Agencies

No return to English, says Wee


Wee said the Cabinet has decided on the issue. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong has confirmed the government has no plans to backtrack on its decision to abolish the teaching of Maths and Science in English despite relentless efforts by a pro-English lobby group to reverse the policy.

Wee also denied that the decision to stop the policy, known as PPSMI (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris), was politically motivated as alleged by the group, the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE).

“The reversal of the PPSMI was done through four roundtable discussions, so after much deliberation the Cabinet made its decision based on the findings,” he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

Wee shook his head when asked if the move was the Barisan Nasional’s strategy to recoup its loss of the Malay rural vote in Election 2008, as alleged by PAGE members.

“No, no. Even the Chinese schools wanted the teaching instruction of the subjects to be in Bahasa Malaysia. Just take a simple example and seek comments from some professional groups and you will know,” he said.

Wee acknowledged that PAGE planned on press on with its campaign to pressure the government into reintroducing the PPSMI, but admitted that the Cabinet had no plans yet to do so.

“This is the Cabinet’s decision. It is the supreme authority. We have to adhere to what has been decided by the Cabinet,” he said.

PAGE has been on a two-year campaign since the government decided to abolish PPSMI and recently embarked on a nationwide roadshow in a bid to expand its membership.

But the third instalment of a forum held at the Bar Council building here last night saw feeble response, triggering talk that it was time for PAGE to throw in the towel.

Admitting that the struggle had nearly reached a dead end, PAGE chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim suggested at the forum that the group call it a day.

“We speak about blasting (promoting) this out through the Internet and all that, and we blasted for today but look at what we have.

“We did blast and blasted for a week so if this is an indication of the so-called tsunami we hope to achieve ... I think we should throw in the towel,” she said.

Her suggestion met with protests from participants but the crestfallen Noor Azimah pointed out that “it has already been two years, you know.”

“And it’s not that people do not know about us. The media has given us fantastic support ... some politicians even envy me because I get more media coverage than they do,” she said.

PAGE activists and members also conceded during the forum that the major stumbling block in their fight was politics and in their decision to avoid using violence and aggression to achieve their goals.

During the discussion, one parent complained about the lacklustre response the group was receiving and suggested that it uses more “kurang ajar” tactics to have its arguments heard.

“Look at the ‘Interlok’ issue. Perhaps we may need to start burning books and demonstrating too so that the government hears us,” said the agitated parent.

But Noor Azimah insisted that PAGE’s fight was for the education rights of children, saying that as role models it was important not to resort to such tactics to win support for their cause.

She told The Malaysian Insider later that despite the response, PAGE had no choice but to press on with its campaign until the government agreed with its views on the issue.

“We just have to press on, I guess. It is very difficult ... it has been two years. But giving up is not an option yet.

“We have to continue for the sake of the children,” she said.

PAGE will be submitting its sixth memorandum to the prime minister at the latter’s office in Putrajaya tomorrow.

In the government’s new policy, the medium of instruction for Maths and Science for Form One students will remain strictly in Bahasa Malaysia from next year.

For Standard One children this year, both subjects will also be taught strictly in Bahasa Malaysia.

Wee: Karpal believed in Anwar’s guilt


KUALA LUMPUR: Former PKR Wangsa Maju parliamentarian Wee Choo Keong continued with his attack on Karpal Singh, insisting in his latest blog posting that the latter believed Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim committed sodomy in 1997.

In his posting, Wee disputed Karpal’s open letter to the New Straits Times condemning the writer behind the article entitled “’The Taming of the Tiger of Jelutong”, Shamsul Akmar, who questioned Karpal’s credibility based on the same allegation.

Karpal, now the MP for Bukit Gelugor, was Jelutong parliamentarian in 1997. A year later, he became one of Anwar’s defence lawyer when the latter was sacked as deputy prime minister and slapped with sodomy charges which were later dropped on alleged technical reasons.

The article was published by the same English daily on Jan 9. Shamsul quoted the now-independent Wangsa Maju MP and several other former PKR federal lawmakers to prove his point that Karpal’s “stellar reputation” as the defender of justice is questionable.

Karpal avoiding the point

Karpal in an immediate response challenged Shamsul to report him to the Legal Profession Disciplinary Board if the latter had facts to prove he had committed any wrongdoing.

The DAP chairman also said the major players involved in Anwar’s first sodomy fiasco – former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former Inspector-General of Police Rahim Noor and the Attorney-General (AG) at the time Mohtar Abdullah – had defended Anwar of sodomy allegations prior to his sacking.

“It can be clearly seen from the statements of Mahathir, Rahim and Mohtar that Anwar had been exculpated by these personalities of no mean rank of the allegations made against him,” he said.

But Wee said the response showed Karpal was sidestepping the allegation and failed to respond to the points raised – that he had openly said in party ceramah that he had evidence that Anwar was involved in sodomy in 1998 and that on Oct 22, 1997, he had accused the then deputy prime minister of sodomy in Parliament.

“These two glaring facts were enough to show that Karpal, who is also a lawyer, must have fully studied and was satisfied with the evidence he got from Azizan Abu Bakar, Ummi Halfilda Ali and others for him to pursue against Anwar and demanded that he was to be charged.”

‘Gutless tiger from the past’

Wee then pointed out that until another former PKR lawmaker, now independent Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Mohd Hashim, asked the current AG (Abdul Gani Patail) to subpoena Karpal as a witness in Anwar’s current and second sodomy trial, the lawyer had never made his position on the matter clear.

“He had never uttered that he was in full agreement with Mahathir’s and Rahim Noor’s (defence of Anwar prior to his sacking). Why now? I can only come to one conclusion: his sudden U-turn was consistent with his innate talent for politics of expediency.”

Calling him a “gutless tiger of the past”, Wee said Karpal should stop misleading Malaysians and “stop coming up with the indefensible to justify his U-turn for the sake of political expediency”.

Wee after his defection was the first to make the allegation against Kapal in a prolonged verbal war between him and leaders of Pakatan Rakyat The opposition coalition at the time was rattled by a series of defections by its lawmakers that triggered the altercation.

Four PKR lawmakers including Wee had defected, citing disillusionment with the party’s top leadership, particularly against its de facto leader, Anwar.

Ugly public protests is a disservice to the sanctity of religion

By J. D. Lovrenciear

It is widely known that most often politicians fan public anger involving protests of sorts over allegations, smears, bad intentions or even misunderstandings from any quarter affecting another's religion. And the gullible foolish only make things worse.

The burning of effigies or holding boisterous street protests is not alien to the Malaysian politicizing of religion. The on-going 'Azan' issue is a classic example.

Malaysians have also registered their displeasure by the burning of national flags and effigies of personalities as they joined in a global protest to register their disapproval over issues taking place in a far away land.

Expressing your support or disapproval towards issues of religious concerns is not a wrong thing to do as all faithful have a deep obligation to take care of the reputation and image of their respective faiths. The defining difference is in the philosophy, i.e. 'the end does not necessarily justify the means'.

Hence, for the love of Islam and its beauty we must not resort to rowdy displays that send loud, negative and distorted messages to the public. The burning of effigies and threatening street protests is not the way to protect, promote and live by the teachings of Islam in a globalizing and increasingly scientific environment.

On the contrary, in this age of modernization, we must take a more professional and learned approach to resolving issues that threaten the sanctity of and liberty to practice our faith.

It would serve us all Malaysians well to think carefully. There are avenues to bring our concerns of faith and have them addressed respectfully and with reasonableness just as much as the advent of the new media is not an automatic lane to rubbish and tarnish another's religion.

People who write profanities or unreasonable comments with malicious intent on the net for example are only displaying their gutter mindset and deserve no notice or responses whatsoever.

Religion is not politics. Politics in a large part of the world is about power to rule over man under the pretext of taking care of the public.

Religion is humanity's gateway on earth to heaven (for all believers) and mortal man does not own it. Hence, it does not serve the dignity and beauty of Islam in a justifiable manner if people join in ugly street protests that threaten and intimidate people or tanish the sanctity of Islam.

Unless and until we understand this principle, the chances of promoting the beauty of Islam remains a shortcoming on our part and for which we must account for in the hereafter.

The bottom line is not only must a follower be encouraged and motivated through leadership by example to practice the teachings of his/her beliefs but also to be a guardian of those beliefs.

Guardians do not rant and scream and burn and scheme adversity but promote peace, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.

So please stop smearing the beauty and the Gift for mankind - Islam. Let it shine like a star for those in search of a religion. Let it shine like a moon for those who are in the dark. Keep it lighting up like a rainbow for those who have respect for the religion.

Hopefully Malaysian Muslims can show the world the way forward.

All these may sound very simplistic. Why not? It is in the basics that we find the pathway to truth.

After all when the Almighty revealed The Holy Qur'an, His Word was, is and always shall be for all mankind - for slave and master, for the poor and rich, for the knowing and unknowing, for the learned and the fool, till eternity.

Give BN total victory lah

By J. D. Lovrenciear

Yes. Why can we not give BN total victory not only in the by-elections but also in the coming 13th General Elections?

Look, the nation has been doing fine all this while. No? Take a look at the billboards that dot the nation proclaiming “Another project brought to you by BN”.

Hear well. Even the Secretary of State of USA has recently affirmed that Malaysia is a model nation that enjoys good governance. Surely Hillary Clinton cannot be lying.

Read between the lines. None of our nation’s Prime Ministers, including our current CEO have said that BN has done any wrong. BN as they have always held is the best choice that citizens can have. Even if there are any wrong doings spotted, these have been promptly dismissed as mere occasional bad apples in a basket of goodies. So what is the rakyat’s problem?

BN always tells us that the people have never failed to trust BN since Merdeka. And rightly, Malaysians have been giving BN their votes. Just take a re-look at the past by-elections. So why not give BN all the votes this time?

Oh but what about all the claims and allegations of wrong doing by BN? Listen to BN. What do you expect of losers, they will only say bad things about us BN. They are ‘opposition’ remember? They will always oppose only.

And some may say, what about rising crime? But BN has explained many times before: citizens must also be more responsible lah. And so the citizens have barricades in and around their houses and properties now. Done deal. So, again another reason to vote BN.

Then some may claim that our ministers are all living a life of luxury. But why not? BN is working hard and they say that if you paid peanuts you will only get monkeys to watch over you. So, it is okay. After all, look, even the PM’s wife is working so very hard shuttling across the globe for the welfare of Malaysians and their gifted children.

Vote BN. BN has the experience of governing.

But you may argue, look at the new forts being managed by ‘opposing’ parties. Well BN also has a remedy for that. Have no fear, you have seen how BN rescued the citizens in Perak. So there you go again – vote BN.

Then you may want to complain about our economy going bust in the near future. BN re-assures you. Look at the market. See how we are riding. Investors are coming by the droves, but just that BN is a little selective to make sure we get only the good and favoued ones in. Okay? Vote BN.

Still you have reservations?

What about that brutal, grisly murder of the Mongolian citizen? Hasn’t the case been addressed by Malaysia’s Palace of Justice? What more do you want? Look, even Mongolia is silent. So stop your ranting otherwise you are a public nuisance. Vote BN the guardians of exemplary justice. In fact more developing nations are going to be visiting us soon as the USA has just declared that others in the developing belt must emulate us.

Next, you may drum up the sagas of corruption. Has not the Tun Doctor once reprimanded that such things do happen – even in the developed world. But don't worry, BN will address it as it goes along. Anyway, if you have solid proof, come forward and BN will act. That sounds fine too, so vote BN.

So, let us all vote BN and there will be no fears of ‘crushed bodies, lost lives and ethnic cleansing’. We can all go to bed as soundly as a baby.

Now, what is your (the readers) take on this? Please let your views be made known to BN too. After all one should not listen to one side only yah as Malaysia is truly democratic as proven by USA's official label for us. Oh, yes, vote BN.

The true spirit of the azan

By Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi | MalaysiaKini

Let us be clear on the purpose of the adhan in its original form. According to the hadith (recording of the sayings and actions) of the Prophet Muhammad as documented by Sirah Ishaq:

“When the apostle was firmly settled in Medina and his brethren the emigrants were gathered to him and the affairs of the helpers were arranged, Islam became firmly established.

“Prayer was instituted, the alms tax and fasting were prescribed, legal punishments fixed, the forbidden and the permitted prescribed, and Islam took up its abode with them. It was this clan of the helpers who ‘have taken up their abode (in the city of the prophet) and in the faith’.

“When the apostle first came, the people gathered to him for prayer at the appointed times without being summoned. At first the apostle thought of using a trumpet like that of the Jews who used it to summon to prayer. Afterwards he disliked the idea and ordered a clapper to be made, so it was duly fashioned to be beaten when the Muslims should pray.

“Meanwhile ‘Abdullah b. Zayd b. Tha’laba b. ‘Abdu Rabbihi brother of B. al-Harith heard a voice in a dream, and came to the apostle saying: ‘(In my dream) There passed by me a man wearing two green garments carrying a clapper in his hand, and I asked him to sell it to me. When he asked me what I wanted it for I told him that it was to summon people to prayer, whereupon he offered to show me a better way: it was to say thrice ‘Allah Akbar. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah I bear witness that Muhammad is the apostle of God. Come to prayer. Come to Prayer. Come to divine service. Come to divine service. Allah Akbar. Allah Akbar. There is no God but Allah’.

“When the apostle was told of this he said that it was a true vision if God so willed it, and that he should go with Bilal and communicate it to him so that he might call to prayer thus, for he had a more penetrating voice. When Bilal acted as muezzin ‘Umar heard him in his house and came to the apostle dragging his cloak on the ground and saying that he had seen precisely the same vision. The apostle said, ‘God be praised for that!’”

The main purpose of the azan

It is clear in the hadith that the main purpose of the azan is to call Muslims for prayers at a single time because there was no idea of a mechanical device to tell exact time. The azan was also used to tell people to pray in their homes when there is a calamity or severe weather that makes going to the mosque a dangerous affair as in the following hadith:

“Once on a very cold and stormy night, Ibn Umar pronounced the azan for the prayer and then said ‘Pray in your homes’. He (Ibn Umar) added, ‘On very cold and rainy nights, Allah’s apostle used to order the muezzin to say ‘Pray in your homes’.”

The Malays of the Nusantara region had resorted to the use of the beduk (a tree trunk made hollow to echo the beats or a taboh which is a leather drum in mosques of old). The traditional Malay mosques of old never had a minaret but possessed the ‘rumah taboh’ or a low tower to house the drum.

In one sense, the Malays went against the Prophet’s order of a clapper or drum but because there were no Jewish or Christian tradition to be mistaken with then, the ijtihad of the drum was accepted. This shows that Islam is tolerant of the cultural contexts of the area.

Mosques in China have been found to echo the architecture of the temple form, once again showing the tolerance and magnanimity of Islam. In Spain, when Muslims were in power, there were many churches that were left intact. In Malaysia we see the presence of heritage temples and churches littering the country that proclaims the generosity of Islam.

But what of the antics of extreme Malay NGOs and Malay-based political parties? Burning effigies? Stepping on cow heads with the knowledge that the animal is considered sacred to certain citizens of this country? The Prophet never taught his followers to step on politicians’ pictures or burn effigies or desecrate holy objects of the major religions.

Only once did I find the Prophet’s anger related in this regard and manner, but note that it was in relation to the houses of Muslims who hear the azan but do not come for prayers. In a hadith cited by Bukhari:

Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, I was about to order the collecting of firewood, order someone to pronounce the Azan for the prayer, ask someone to lead the prayer, then I would go from behind and burn the houses of men who did not present themselves for the prayer.”

The issue of the azan is a simple one, but because of ignorance and a sense of cheap political strategies to drum up support, it has been blown out of proportion. The fact remains that in countries such as the US, the azan is not allowed to be pronounced because it is in a non-Muslim areas. Muslims still flock to the mosques because the azan is sounded within the compound only.

A tool of convenience

And even if there is no azan being called, the congregational prayers can still be performed validly. The narrations clearly stipulate that the azan is a tool of convenience and it is not a singular part of the prayer as prescribed to the Prophet and his nation on the Night of Ascension. The azan is not obligatory, though it is still considered important to be called out aloud.

Thus, the request by the non-Muslim lawyer to lower the sound is not a threat to the performance of prayers since everyone now can tell the time of prayers. Besides, in some Malay-dominated areas, the sound of the azan being called by many mosques sometimes creates confusion, to the point that the beauty in its call is jeopardised.

It is time that some kind of ruling about the decibel level of the azan be made in relation to the proximity of various mosques as well as taking into account whether the area is more populated by non-Muslims or not. It is a logical and simple request. And it was made in a letter to Putrajaya in a civil and respectful manner.

What of the answer of some Muslim Malays? Loud threats and burning of effigies! Why are Muslims angry at being labelled as extremists and terrorists by the Western media, when their actions speak volumes and show how the Western media are clearly ‘correct’ in their assessment. But Islam as taught by the Prophet shun these extremities.

I read with interest that a spokesperson of the government denied that the government had ordered the sound to be lowered. I also read in Harakahdaily that a PAS Youth leader condemned Putrajaya and the BN government for giving in to the request by the MCA lawyer.

To me, if the BN government did order the volume to be lowered then they would have acted within the true spirit of Islam as taught by the Prophet. But then, the government spokesmen had denied so.

I am completely surprised and taken aback by the PAS Youth’s condemnation of the alleged move to lower the sound. PAS had shown great magnanimity and true spirit of tolerance in the ‘Allah’ issue, the Teo Nie Ching Mosque issue, the ‘aerobics in the mosque compound’ issue, the church-burning issue, the cow-head incident, and many more.

But the PAS Youth leader has made PAS to be as bad as another Malay political party as well as Perkasa. I hope the senior leaders of PAS can quickly make a clear statement of magnanimity and generosity of Islam as shown in the other incidents.

We must take heed of what Imam Ghazali recorded in his Ihya Ulumuddin as follows:

“One night Said Al-Musayyab heard Umar Abdul Aziz reciting aloud the Qur’an in the Mosque of the Prophet. Said ordered his son to go to the person who was praying and tell him to lower his voice in recitation. His son replied that the mosque is a public place and that they had not a single right to it and furthermore, the man who was reciting was the Governor of Medinah.

“Said then called onto the reciter and said,” O you who is praying. If you desire that Allah The Most High accept your prayer, then lower your voice. If you desire that the people accept you, the people are only in need of Allah.” When Umar, the Governor of Medinah, heard this advice, he shortened his superragotary prayer and lowered his voice in recitation.”

How beautiful was the action of the governor who heeded the reminder of his subject without throwing a tantrum and proclaiming that one must listen and respect the Qur’anic recitation at all times. This is about one Muslim reminding a Muslim leader not to disturb people during their times of sleep.

Elements out to stir unrest

There are elements in this country out to use Islam in order to stir racial unrest. Of that fact it is very clear to me, an educated father of five. We Malaysians must protect the safety of our children from these elements of extremism at all costs.

Muslim parents and citizens of Malaysia must look long and hard at their religion as taught by the Prophet because some religious scholars and political leaders are clearly presenting Islam in a very negative sense to serve their own material agendas.

I beg also of all non-Muslim to be patient and ignore these extremist elements and continue to be civil in their discourse and discussion of Islam in the public arena.

As a Malaysian citizen who is a follower of Islam, I welcome civilised discussions and questions or even ‘complaints’ about my religion. Let us manage them maturely. Just as Malaysia is entering her adulthood, we also must not handle matters in the manner of little children throwing tantrums. The more so when there are childish adults who are out to capitalise on ignorance and suspicions.

———-
PROF DR MOHAMAD TAJUDDIN MOHAMAD RASDI is a 23-year veteran academic and teaches architecture at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. He specialises in mosque and Islamic architecture particularly that which relates to Malaysia using a hadith-based and socio-cultural approach in order to create the total idea of built environment suited for a whole social structure. He is the author of ‘The Mosque as a Community Centre’ (1998).

Alcohol ban: Decision after study is conducted

The Sun
by Meena L. Ramadas

SHAH ALAM (Jan 17, 2011): The Selangor government will study if local councils have the jurisdiction to enforce the Syariah Criminal Enactment forbidding Muslims from serving alcohol at entertainment outlets via guidelines or by-laws.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said today that while the study is conducted, operators of entertainment outlets who have employed Muslims will be able to renew their business licences.

"After the study is conducted and discussed, we will make a decision on whether local councils can implement such a requirement," he said after meeting the local council' heads.

"We cannot have an action that will have a negative effect on non-Muslims in our effort to ensure Muslims abide by the Syariah law but at the same time we also want to reduce the number of Muslims working at these premises," he added.

Last Wednesday, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) caused an uproar when it introduced a licensing guideline banning establishments serving alcohol from hiring Muslims.

It was reported that the additional condition was included in guidelines last year as part of its "self-initiated improvements", because the employment of Muslim workers is deemed to contravene Section 18(2) of the Syariah Criminal Enactment of Selangor.

However, the state government reversed the ban last Thursday. Executive councillor for local government Ronnie Liu said MPSJ had not consulted the state.

Khalid said currently, the Selangor Department of Islamic Affairs (JAIS) has the jurisdiction to take action against Muslim workers who serve alcohol at entertainment outlets.

"So, if JAIS needs help in enforcement, it can ask the local councils for help," he said.

He also said the study will focus on the effects of having such a requirement on the livelihoods of Muslims.

He said any requirement involving the Syariah enactment to be implemented  by local councils under its by-laws or guidelines will need to be discussed and approved by the state government due to the sensitivity of the matter.

He said in the meantime, the state government will continue to engage with the Selangor Zakat Board on the establishment of a fund to help Muslims who intend to leave their jobs at these entertainment outlets.

He said that according to MPSJ president Datuk Adnan Md Ikshan, out of 170 entertainment outlets in Subang Jaya, only 13 have not agreed to the licensing guideline requirement which forbids employers of entertainment outlets from hiring Muslims.

Abdul Khalid said the 13 premises, which will be monitored, employed about 140 Muslims but the number who served alcohol was not specified.

He also said if the requirement to ensure employers of entertainment outlets did not hire Muslims was found to be feasible, it will be extended to all local councils.

This confirms theSun front page report today which said that the Subang Jaya municipality was a testing ground to widen the ruling.

Sources said the initial attempt to implement the enactment by the MPSJ was merely a testing ground before the 20-year-old law is applied statewide.

There are fears that apart from entertainment establishments, breweries, hypermarkets and 24-hour convenience stores may also be affected.

Pyramid that Contains Maya Tomb at Palenque Archaeological Zone Restored

MEXICO CITY.- The pyramidal building known as Temple 20 at Palenque Archaeological Zone, in Chiapas, where the existence of a funerary chamber that contains the remains of a high rank character has been confirmed, is being reinforced and restored by specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) with the aim of guaranteeing its structural stability and the possibility of public visit in the future.

The work part of the site’s Management Plan gives continuity to exploration conducted by archaeologists Merle Greene and Alfonso Morales between 1999 and 2003. Martha Cuevas, researcher at INAH, directs to present the stabilization labors at the 1,400 years old Prehispanic construction.

According to archaeologist Cuevas, the relevance of Temple 20 lies in its dating, which goes back to the Early Classic period (430-600 AD), lapse with little evidence found at Palenque, mainly from the architectural category.

Temple 20 “illustrates an obscure moment of occupation of the ancient city: almost every construction we can admire today dates from the Late Classic period (600 to 850 AD); earlier stages of the site are scarcely known”.

Martha Cuevas explained that “unlike other Mesoamerican cities, it is not easy to detect early stages of buildings at Palenque. In the case of the main temple of Tenochtitlan, Templo Mayor, a base and a temple were built over other similar structures; in Palenque, they dismantled the upper part of the constructions and raised new buildings”.

Regarding the funerary chamber inside the pyramid, the specialist from the INAH Direction for Archaeological Monuments and Zones Public Registration, declared it was identified in 1999 by caving a probing well and introducing a camcorder.

A funerary chamber with mural paintings was captured: on the floor, remains of a person and ceramics allowed determining that the inhumation dates from the Early Classic period, approximately 550 of the Common Era.

“The video recording shows flat vessels and dishes inside the tomb, as well as jade beads, some tesserae, and shell fragments that must have been part of a mask that the entombed personage carried on the belt.

“There are no sarcophagi from the Early Classic period, as the cases of the Reina Roja (Red Queen) or Pakal II; this important character was deposited on slabs directly on the floor of Temple 20. Images do not allow seeing the complete skeleton; apparently, there are just fragments, but this will be confirmed once the mortuary chamber is explored”.

The INAH Council of Archaeology determined that the pyramidal base must be stabilized before exploration to prevent filtration or collapse, safeguarding the conservation of the funerary context. Once this labor ends, investigation at the chamber will be resumed.

Archaeologist Edwin Angulo Torres, in charge of work at Temple 20, mentioned that labor focused on the exploration of the base and the consolidation of the superior temple, resulting in the identification of 2 constructive stages of the building, the first from 430-600 AD and the second from 750-900 AD.

Angulo mentioned that the temple was constructed on a rocky promontory, and Mayas leveled it with gravel and clay fillings that loosened with time, causing foundation laying problems in the northwest area of the building.

“Data obtained by using probing wells and other excavation methods allow us reconstructing hypothetically how the construction’s façade looked like, its bodies and the height of each of them, giving us the approximate appearance of the construction”.

Intervention of Temple 20 also had the objective of “giving the upper temple architectural and structural support, key for conservation of the substructure and the funerary chamber”.

After commenting that in 2011 will take place the second field season, archaeologist Edwin Angulo concluded that the project contemplates the integral consolidation of the base, adding that in 2010, the main façade consolidation was finished, except the staircase.

Custodial death claim: 2nd witness 'missing'

(Malaysiakini) The second witness in the M Krishnan's death-in-custody case has vanished without a trace, raising suspicions that he was threatened against coming out, said a prominent human rights lawyer.

NONEN Surendran (right), who is representing Krishnan's family in seeking a second post-mortem to determine the cause of death, said they do not know where the witness is and are not able to contact him.

"We have lost our second witness in suspicious circumstances. We suspect someone may be preventing him from coming forward," Surendran said when met today.

"It seems common now for witnesses in cases related to death in custody to be threatened and even arrested by the authorities."Krishnan, who was arrested at a friend's house late on Jan 2 night, died on Jan 7 while being detained at the Bukit Jalil police lock-up.


His family has claimed that he was assaulted, based on bruises and cuts on his body, but both the police and the hospital have contended that his death was due to a stomach ulcer.

NONEKrishnan's friend, taxi driver A Sargunan (right), 34, had come forward last Tuesday as the first witness in the case.

Sargunan claimed that the police had ordered them both to lie on their stomach before proceeding to kick and stomp their backs while wearing boots.

Surendran also said the police have made the situation unduly difficult by forcing the family to secure a court order for a second post-mortem to be carried out on Krishnan's body.

“All they need to do is to say 'yes' to a (second) post-mortem. Instead, the police (were) deceitful (in saying) that the family needs to get a court order.
“What surprises me is they (police) still refuse to give their consent after an eyewitness has forward, because now it is in everyone's best interest to have a second post-mortem.”

'Justice for Krishnan'

Surendran pointed ouNONEt, though, that the delaying tactic has done little to dent his clients' resolve to pursue justice to honour Krishnan's (left) memory.

The people from Krishnan's kampong are “extremely upset” and are expected to turn up in force at the Kuala Lumpur court complex tomorrow to protest his death, said Surendran.

“I'm glad the family is quite resolute. His mother said that, no matter how long it takes, she wants the truth out... not just for the family but also for the community.”

Krishnan's family is expected to apply for a court order tomorrow to allow the second post-mortem to be carried out.

Police response
In response to Surendran's claim, the police urged the lawyer to inform them if the witness is missing.

Prosecuting division senior deputy director Razali Basri pointed out that the police so far have no record of any witness "disappearing" in the probe into Krishnan's death.

"There are a number of witnesses. We don't know which one he (Surendran) is referring to," he told Malaysiakini.

"It is normal for witnesses to go on holiday or go (out of town), but if he feels a witness has really gone missing then he should let us know.

"As a lawyer, he should report back to us so an investigation can be carried out."

Razali also urged Surendran to verify his facts first before making sweeping statements regarding the status of witnesses or investigations.

"If you are not sure of certain facts, you can always confirm with the authorities. If your statement can lead to any unhealthy speculation, please avoid it as it is unfair to accuse the authorities of things without being sure of your facts," he added.

Biased Judge in P. Uthayakumar’s Sedition trial disallows reference to pariah in Interlok book to prove UMNO Attorney General’s malicious and selective prosecution.


The biased Judge Sabaraiah Osman had been difficult first thing this morning, despite P. Uthayakumar having to attend another Federal Court Sedition matter where even the Judge Junaidah who had dismissed the criminal charge of Sedition against P. Uthayakumar was “scaked”.

This biased Sessions Court Judge Sabariah Osman threatened to issue a warrant for P. Uthayakumar knowing that he was at the Federal Court.

P. Uthayakumar’s sedition trial at the K.L. Court started at 2.30 p.m P. Uthayakumar tendered the Interlok book, pages 211 “ Satu pekara besar yang membuatkan mereka senang bergaul adalah kerana mereka tergolong dalam satu kasta Paria. Mereka tidak perlu takut akan mengotori sesiapa kalau bersentuhan”, page 224 “Maniam hanya membawa bungkusan kecil berisi sirih pinang. Tidak makan tengah hari tidak mendatangkan masalah asalkan dia dapat mengunyah sirihnya seperti lembu atau kambing memamah biak” and page 276 “Dia berasa bangga kerana anjing orang putih itu jinak dengannya. Kadang-kadang dia menunjukkan lagaknya dengan membawa anjing itu sampai ke biliknya”.

DCP Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani was made to read these passages and a newsreport in Sinarharian 11/1/11 at page S9 of the angry Indians burning the Interlok book.

This biased Judge refused to allow the tendering of the Interlok book or two other newspaper clippings on the seditions use of the word Pariah leading to the angering of the Indian community in Malaysia. She also disallowed the witness DCP Dato Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani the Deputy federal Criminal Investigations Director from answering how many police reports had been lodged by the Indians thus for and why there is no Sedition Charge unlike in the case of P. Uthayakumar who had used the word ‘ethnic cleansing” of Indians in Malaysia referring to Kg. Medan racial attacks , Hindu temple demolishments, killings in police lock up of Indians and shooting dead Indians by the Malay-sian police.

Double standards vindictive and malicious prosecution of the UMNO Attorney General’s prosecution. When the malay call the Indian Pariah there is no criminal prosecution.

This is UMNO AGs’ double standards.

This case resumes tomorrow (18/1/11) @ 9.30a.m at full steam by this biased Judge to convict P. Uthayakumar.

Karunai Nithi @ Compassionate Justice

Gobala to attend Kita launch


PETALING JAYA: Vocal PKR leader N Gobalakrishnan will attend the launch of the newest political kid on the block, Zaid Ibrahim’s People’s Welfare Party (Kita) on Wednesday.

On the same note, the Padang Serai MP said he had no issues with Pakatan Rakyat or any of the coalition’s component parties.

“My only issue is the Anwar Ibrahim-Azmin Ali (PKR deputy president) relationship and the PKR elections,” he told FMT.

The elections, which critics claimed was riddled with irregularities, had also led to Zaid quitting PKR after accusing Azmin of using underhanded tactics in the race for number two.

Zaid also took Anwar to task for purportedly pulling the strings to ensure that Azmin became the next deputy president. Both Azmin and Anwar had denied the charges.

Meanwhile, Gobalakrishnan, who was slapped with a 45-page show-cause letter recently over his online attacks against the PKR leadership and Anwar, also responded to his latest Twitter posting.

The posting, directed at PKR Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, read: “PKR youth chief has to realize that he is nobody to Anwar compared to Rafizi. Sedarlah bahawa PKR hanya utk kroni2 handsome Anwar. (Realise that PKR is only for Anwar’s handsome cronies).”

‘Why should I quit?’

Gobalakrishnan questioned the rationale in choosing PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli over Shamsul for the proposed debate with Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin on the national economy.

“Who is Rafizi? He is nobody. Why not choose Shamsul?” he asked.

“Anwar has preferences. When it was between (deputy president candidate) Mustafa Kamil Ayub and Azmin, he chose Azmin. When it is between Shamsul and Rafizi, he chooses Rafizi,” he said.

Gobalakrishnan also did not discount the rise of Rafizi to the number two post once Azmin became president of PKR, which was now helmed by Anwar’s wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

The Padang Serai MP also confirmed that he would not be responding to the show-cause letter but dismissed the possibility of quitting PKR and returning to MIC.

“I left MIC 12 years ago. I built the party (PKR) from the ground. Why should I leave?” he said.

by K Pragalath

Cabbies allege violence by KLCC taxi concessionaire


KUALA LUMPUR: More than 100 taxi drivers demonstrated outside the KLCC here today, complaining of unfair and even violent treatment by Awana Sutera Sdn Bhd, the company that manages taxi services in the area.

They allege that the company hires gangsters to intimidate taxi drivers who pick up passengers in the area without registering with it.

Registration with Awana Sutera costs RM150. In addition, taxi drivers have to pay the company a monthly fee of RM50.

Last Jan 5, a man hired by Awana Sutera beat up cabbie Mohammed Khalid Razid after he picked up a passenger, according to M Manickam, chairman of the Federal Territory and Selangor Taxi Drivers Welfare Association.

Mohammed received 12 stitches in his head and lodged a police report, but so far police had not acted on the report,  Manickam said.

Another taxi driver, Ram Bahadur Gharti, received a similar treatment late last year from Awan Sutera, he added.

This was the second such demonstration since last October, after the management of Suria KLCC signed a seven-year concession agreement with Awana Sutera and the latter started imposing the registration and monthly fees.

The company also imposes a RM2 charge for each passenger.

Manickam said the cabbies decided to stage the protest today after the director of the Development of Public Transport Licensing (LPKP), Halimah Mohammad Sadique, cancelled a scheduled meeting with them about their complaints..

He said LPKP had explained earlier that KLCC is private land and the drivers had to pay the company before entering it.

“But my question is how come the company can engage LPKP and JPJ (the Road Transport Department) to chase us away and issue summonses even when we wait outside the area?”

Federal Court strikes out appeal by three Hindraf activists

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court here today struck out an appeal by three Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) activists to overturn a High Court decision to reinstate a sedition charge against them.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judges Hashim Yusoff and Md Raus Sharif made the unanimous decision after ruling that the apex court did not have the jurisdiction to hear their appeal because the matter originated from the Sessions Court.

Matters originating from the Sessions Court end at the Court of Appeal.

Lawyers P Uthayakumar, 49, younger brother P Waytha Moorthy, 44, and V Ganabatirau, 37, were charged at the Klang Sessions Court on Nov 23, 2007, with allegedly inciting a crowd through their speeches in Tamil, at a restaurant in Batang Berjuntai between 8.30pm and 11.15pm on Nov 16, 2007.

Ten days later, the Sessions Court ordered the three to be discharged not amounting to an acquittal on a technicality, after ruling that the charge was improperly framed.

However, on Dec 10, the same year, the High Court reversed the decision after allowing the prosecution’s application to review that of the Sessions Court.

The Court of Appeal on July 7, last year rejected their appeal and upheld the High Court”s decision to order the trio to stand trial on the charge.

Uthayakumar, Waytha Moorthy and Ganabatirau were charged under Section 4 of the Sedition Act 1948 (Revised 1969) and would be liable to a maximum RM5,000 fine or three years” jail, upon conviction.

-Bernama

MCA lawyer apologises, says azan row a ‘misunderstanding’


KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — MCA lawyer Ng Kian Nam apologised today for complaining about the volume of the “azan” from a mosque in Kampung Kerinchi, and described the matter as a “misunderstanding’.

“I want to apologise to all Muslims for the confusion that I may have caused... actually I did not know how to differentiate between the azan (Muslim call to prayer) and kuliah Subuh (pre-dawn sermon),” Ng told reporters here.

He said he had mistaken the pre-dawn sermon for the “azan”, which led him to send a complaint letter to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on December 20 last year.

In the letter, the MCA youth leader had suggested the authorities set specific guidelines to control the volume of the loudspeakers at mosques, adding that the “azan” often disturbed his sleep in the mornings.

This led to a protest by two Malay NGOs last Friday.

Also present at the press conference today was Lembah Pantai Umno division chief Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin as well as representatives from the NGOs which had protested against Ng last week.

It is understood that Raja Nong Chik had met up with Ng as well as the NGOs shortly before the press conference.

“Everyone has their own weaknesses. As a non-Muslims, when I sent the letter I did not know the difference between the azan and the kuliah,” repeated Ng.

Raja Nong Chik said that he was happy with Ng’s public apology and did not want the issue to be sensationalised any further.

“Datuk Jamil Khir has said, Jawi said that no such action has been taken regarding the azan volume... so I urge people to not sensationalise this for whatever purposes.

“This is a small issue, from a misunderstanding,” said the Federal Territories minister.

The Umno minister also claimed the dispute was a “non-issue”, saying that the NGOs which had protested were satisfied with Ng’s apology and explanation today.

“This is a misunderstanding. Irresponsible people have sensationalised things.

“Mr Ng does not have to worry about living in Pantai Dalam, there are no problems here. The 1 Malaysia concept is always there,” said Raja Nong Chik.

Perkasa Lembah Pantai chief Sulaiman Yasin, who was also present, said he was “proud” of Ng’s actions.

“We are proud of the way Ng has conducted himself. We accept his apology and do not want this issue to be sensationalised.

“It’s as though Lembah Pantai is not safe for other races, when in truth we respect all races here,” said Sulaiman.

Championing Reforms

 
Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, human rights lawyer, activist, and political candidate for the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) talks about the Teoh Beng Hock inquest, Lina Joy's intended conversion out of Islam, and the release of Raja Petra Kamaruddin from ISA.






EPF reminds employers that employee contribution rate back to 11%

By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) reminded employers on Monday that the monthly statutory contribution rate for employees has now reverted to 11% from 8% with effect from January 2011 wage.

Employers are to ensure that the correct amounts are deducted from the employees’ wages based on this revised contribution rate and remitted to the EPF starting from February 2011 contributions, EPF said in a statement.

The employees’ statutory contribution rate was lowered from 11% to 8% in January 2009 for a two-year period.

Members who had previously submitted Form KWSP 17A (AHL) Khas/KWSP 17AA Khas to maintain the contribution rate at 11% during the two-year period, would not be required to take any action.

The employers’ share of the monthly contribution to the EPF remains unchanged at 12%

School principal defends ‘pariah’ remark, apologises to Indian students

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — A Muslim school principal apologised to some 200 Indian students this afternoon, hours after word spread that she had allegedly called the Indian community “pariahs” during the morning's school assembly.

A senior teacher with SMK Taman Tasik Ampang confirmed that headmistress Zaini Mohd Zin made the apology to the students in the school library at 12.30pm.

“She apologised and shook their hands,” he told The Malaysian Insider, adding the students responded positively to her apology.

But one student questioned her intentions in using the term, the teacher said, disclosing that Zaini then gave a private explanation to the student who then accepted the apology.

Zaini earlier told The Malaysian Insider that while she admitted to using the word once during her speech, she had merely been quoting from the controversial “Interlok” novel.

“I was explaining to the students about the importance of excelling in the history subject and it was then that I referred to the ‘Interlok’ novel.

“I quoted from the novel, mentioning that the reason why the Indians were unhappy with the book was because of the word. I do not even dare to repeat the word now,” she said when contacted.

Zaini added that in her speech she had also said the Indian community from the lower castes in India had migrated to Malaysia in the past and were contented here as they were better recognised.

“I said many left India because of the caste system and they are happy here because Malaysia does not practice that. We are all equal,” she said.

But her words, Zaini lamented, had been taken out of context to mean that she was insulting the community by calling them “pariahs” and low class.

She admitted that she had treaded on dangerous ground when she touched on the “Interlok” row and expressed regret that the incident had annoyed the Indian community.

“I am getting cold feet now. I truly did not mean to insult anyone with my statement. It would have been extremely stupid of me to mention the word with the intention to hurt anyone.

“Now, I do not even dare to repeat the word... even to you,” she said.

Zaini said she was willing to apologise over the incident and revealed that she would clarify the matter during school assembly next Monday.

“I am also writing a letter now to the Selangor and federal education departments,” she said.

Word of the incident spread like wildfire this morning as SMSes began circulating that Zaini had insulted the Indian community by accusing them of being in the lower caste and calling them “pariahs”.

The senior teacher vouched for his superior and came to her immediate defence when asked if she had uttered the derogatory term.

“I am from the Indian community myself and here, I have worked with over seven or eight bosses before.

“I am not trying to back her because she is my boss but I truly believe that I have never worked with a superior more open-minded and moderate than Zaini,” he said.

He added that Zaini even allowed her Hindu students to take special religious classes during school hours and never objected when he invited religious leaders to give speeches.

“Even a Buddhist monk has entered our school to give talks. I am convinced that she had made those statements without any malice.

“Zaini is not a racist. She is even willing to retract what she said and apologise although her words were taken out of context,” he said.

The senior teacher claimed the incident was being blown out of proportion as certain parties were attempting to use it to their benefit in the ongoing row over the “Interlok” novel.

“People are just trying to turn it into an issue for their own personal reason. But this is wrong,” he said. - The Malaysian Insider

Weaknesses and Limitations of Religion

It is confusing whether Muslims are the victims or the oppressors.

By batsman

Now that the 13th GE approaches, it is almost guaranteed that race and religion will be dominant issues again. So we might as well get into the stride of things by early discussion on these issues such that things become clearer when the 13th GE is finally
upon us and provocations have less potential to create confusion and ill feelings and when the number 13 for the 13th GE seems ominous in itself.

These days, it also seems that everyone wants to issue challenges to debate something or other (even issues that have resulted in MPs being thrown out of Parliament are being challenged for debate in public, which sort of raises the question why the MPs were thrown out of Parliament in the first place), so it might as well be religion since this subject dogs and provokes us even as we try and escape it or avoid all discussion of it.

Like all things, religion has its weaknesses and limitations. This is obvious, otherwise religion will not be so easily dispersed by the liberal secularists and their henchmen and will continue to be important even in this modern commercial scientific age.

I submit that religion is strongest when the faithful are weak and oppressed and weakest when the faithful are powerful and arrogant.

This is because religion plays the role of the protector when its faithful are weak and oppressed. The core values and teachings of religion such as resolution, selflessness, charity, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, justice and love are best expressed under such
conditions. The faithful are at their best and their most heroic. This is the time when individual faith is strongest and most unshakeable. This is the time when human beings are closest to God.

However, there comes a time when the faithful become strong and powerful. This is a dangerous time when the faithful are placed in a position where they can easily bully or take advantage of others. Many fall victim to or are seduced by such power. This is when human beings are farthest away from God. This is the time when religion is at its weakest and most perverse – prey to manipulation or tricked into blindness, in which case religion is forced into the role of corruptor and bully.

All the bad things that faith teaches man to avoid start to gain ascendance. Things such as exploitation, cheating, bullying, abuse, cruelty, injustice, greed, corruption, falsehood, selfishness and ego start to express themselves in man’s words, actions and decisions.

All these things are obvious because they are black and white issues. But because they are so obvious, people tend to take them for granted and no longer think about them. It is time to re-visit them before the 13th GE as these issues will come sensitive and confusing during such times when potential false prophets may start their evil work.

These issues will become confusing and sensitive because they will not be so black and white anymore and it will be difficult to identify who is the victim and who is the oppressor. The classic trick of demonizing the victims will be played to the hilt, because often everyone will feel like they are the victims. Quarrels break out over grey issues and it will take a wise man indeed to sort out the opposing sides and bring justice to the situation. The wise man’s counsel will need the support of wise followers to bring justice to the situation, so it is best if things are fully discussed in a disinterested way under calm conditions before they become sensitive, emotional and critical.

In a sense, religion is like genetics. Most of the faithful (apart from some converts) are born into their faith. Most can no longer choose their faith but they can choose to go their own way and conveniently forget their duties to the faith.

In a situation where the faithful are oppressed and bullied, it is not so easy to forget. One is reminded everyday through cruelty, bullying and discrimination. The situation demands that the faithful be self-sacrificing, strong and resolute, holding high the ideal of
justice.

On the other hand, when the faithful are strong and powerful, it is quite easy to forget and one only needs to claim membership when there are benefits and privileges to be obtained. These are like fair weather friends who hide when there are duties and
sacrifices to be made, but elbow their way to the front of the queue when there are benefits and privileges to be obtained. There is even no need to prove one’s faith since one is born into it i.e. automatic membership.

Under these conditions, good core values need to be self-imposed and internalized against seduction and attractions from a situation that automatically and blindly favours the faithful. This is when ones’ personal faith makes all the difference and strength
becomes internal strength to be able to uphold justice and refuse the seduction of corruption and cronyism.

The perils and benefits of automatic membership hold not only for race or religion but also for citizenship of a powerful country. This is sometimes called big power chauvinism. One is entitled to be arrogant and chauvinistic just by automatic qualification as a citizen of a big and powerful country. This feeling of arrogance comes automatically even for recent immigrants who have made enough money to come back and visit their old country. They compare everything in the old country against the new and guess what? – the new is always superior.

Of course not all citizens of a big and powerful country act arrogantly and chauvinistically. If they have strong self-imposed and internalized values, they can often refuse the seduction, arrogance and corrupting influence of being an automatic member of a big and powerful country.

The same goes for people of faith who know that moral courage and moral decency is never automatically bestowed whether as a genetic inheritance or as a member of a religion or as a citizen of a big and powerful country. It is an endless struggle against sin and corruption, to be strong and resolute defenders of the faith but also not to be rapacious bullies and not to take undue advantage of others.

For Muslims, this is not always so easy because Muslims in different parts of the world face vastly different challenges and it is difficult to find a perfect role model. How a Muslim reacts to his conditions cannot be the same for Muslims in Palestine compared to Muslims in Saudi Arabia. The challenges are worlds of difference apart. Similarly Muslims face unique challenges in the US as they do in Malaysia. No two challenges are similar even though Islam is a universal faith.

In Malaysia, some very strange challenges crop up. Historically, Muslims have been economically backward and they have been bullied because of this. But after more than 50 years of UMNO rule, UMNO and their cronies have now monopoly of banking, transport, oil and gas, energy and utilities, agriculture, the civil service, the judiciary, the police and the military among others. In addition they control almost all licenses and approvals as well as contracts and scholarships. Yet the majority of Muslims are still poor
and marginalized not only in the rural areas but among the urban poor. This situation of having monopoly in almost all sectors of the economy and industry at the same time being poor and marginalized is a strange and confusing challenge for Muslims.

This is like being victims and oppressors at the same time. Such a strange situation is also shown by the concept of Ketuanan Melayu existing side by side with the lack of confidence and insecurity of being unable to compete with non-Muslims on fair and level playing field.

Islam prohibits Muslims from suppressing other faiths i.e. Islam forbids Muslims to be arrogant bullies, yet Muslims are being encouraged to behave aggressively by Ketuanan Melayu types because Islam is being threatened by others. People of other faiths are even not allowed to use the word “Allah” because Islam is being threatened as the dominant faith of Malaysia. It is confusing whether Muslims are the victims or the oppressors. This is the challenge facing Muslims which needs to be resolved properly so that people of other faiths can go about their lives without fear and without being oppressed accidentally and the country can be assured of peace and brotherhood.

Doubtless many of these issues are in a grey area where it is difficult to come to a fair compromise but the situation is so confusing that some non-Muslims friends are even asking whether although Islam cannot oppress other faiths, can Malays do so? How is Ketuanan Melayu connected with Islam? And so forth. Obviously Islam is receiving a bad name because of the actions of some people. Whether these people are false prophets or not is not for me to decide, but there is altogether too much confusion and this needs to be sorted out especially with the 13th GE just round the corner.

BERSIH 2.0: All Hell Breaks Loose with Proxy Voting

PRESS STATEMENT

BERSIH 2.0 urges the Election Commission to withdraw its proposal of proxy voting, warning that all hell may break loose when proxy voting is abused, threatening even the legitimacy of the next government.

BERSIH 2.0 will organise a public forum later this month on absentee voting reform, which is the real solution to help address the issue of absentee voters. The coalition hopes EC Chairperson or his representative will participate as a panelist to respond to the public’s concerns.

BERSIH 2.0 stresses that proxy voting is highly vulnerable for democratizing countries like Malaysia because it may succumb to vote buying or coercion, resulting in disenfranchisement. Bosses may ask employees to sign away their voting rights.

So will superiors their subordinates, husbands their wives (or vice versa) and parents their children. In the most absurd scenario, loan sharks (Ah Longs) may even force every of their debtors to be registered as voters and then sign away their ballots, which can then be traded to political parties.

BERSIH 2.0 warns that, widespread disenfranchisement will erode the legitimacy of the new government – whichever parties are elected – and land the nation into political chaos. There are already enough allegations of bosses controlling employees’ voting in East Malaysia and under the current postal voting system, coerced proxy voting in military barracks and police stations.

BERSIH 2.0 says that the way to help address the issue of absentee voters is to make postal voting available to all and mandatory to none. All voters with reasonable grounds to be away from their constituency on polling day should be allowed to vote by postal ballots, provided they apply in advance, say, three weeks before polling day.
Under the current system, postal voting is imposed on military and police voters, but available as an option to only overseas bureaucrats and students and election officials.

BERSIH 2.0 expresses regret that the EC plans to propose 30 changes to the electoral process to the Cabinet without consulting civil society and political parties. Nothing was raised in BERSIH 2.0′s meeting with the EC last November.

BERSIH also criticizes the EC, whose independence is provided for by the Federal Constitution, for reducing itself to a subordinate body of the Cabinet by seeking the latter’s permission for any changes. It has failed to fulfill its constitutional mandate and, therefore, not gain public confidence.

Issued by

Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee

Contact:

SC members — Wong Chin Huat @ 019 350 2823 or Maria Chin Abdullah @ 013 342 2931

CENSORSHIP


1. Governments have often been accused of censoring unpleasant reports or books about them. Obviously this practice is not regarded highly by democrats everywhere. People believe that there must be some truth in the censored articles or publications, otherwise why should they be censored or banned.

2. Now we are seeing individuals, organisations and governments which have no power to censor also indulging in censoring unfavourable reports about them.

3. This they do by threatening to sue or suing the whistle blowers. The threat is intended to deter not only the particular individual but others also from uttering or reporting the same allegation. If the threat fails, then the matter is made a subject of libel action. Whether it becomes sub-judice or not the person is deterred from repeating the statements as it may prejudice the courts.

4. The affect of the libel action is to prevent the respondent from repeating the allegation. Effectively he has been censored, his right of free speech denied.

5. And if the court case can be prolonged, the censorship, or denial of the freedom of speech of the respondent will be effective in hiding the truth of the matter.

6. I am not a lawyer of course but I think the law is being abused to hide acts which may be criminal. Or it may be in order to prevent the public from getting the right information to make political decision.

7. I wonder whether the act to protect whistleblowers cover this thing or not.

Malaysia's One-Two Punch for Journalism


Image
Hata Wahari
(Asia Sentinel) Bloggers to face sedition law, a prominent journalist is suspended

Malaysia suffered two ominous blows to independent journalism last week, one with the announcement that the government is about to formulate a sedition law to cover bloggers, who are fast becoming some of the most independent news providers in Malaysia.

The second was the suspension of the National Union of Journalists President Hata Wahari from his job at the Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia, one of several newspapers controlled by the United Malays National Organization, the country's biggest political party, for advocating an impartial press.

Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia's Home Affairs Minister, announced on Jan. 13 that the federal government will write guidelines to define "online sedition," a move which critics say is an overt attempt at cyberspace censorship.

"On a whole, officers from the home ministry, PM's department and the information ministry have agreed on the contents of the guidelines," Hishammuddin said in a prepared statement, adding that seditious items are expected to include "malicious news," pornography, false information and other cyber crimes.

No one knows just what will be in the new law. "We actually have no clue at this point, the government has not even had a public airing, there has been no consultation with the press itself," said Chuah Siew Eng, program officer for the Center for Independent Journalism in Kuala Lumpur. "We can only rely on news reports. There is no freedom of information law that would force them to divulge what is in it."

"What we're seeing in Malaysia is part of a much longer-term trend," said Bob Dietz, Asia Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "The country never really emerged from the Mahathir years in the same way, say, that Indonesia had from Suharto. As Internet activity has grown the people in power – UMNO – have had to distance themselves from Mahathir's promise not to interfere with online activity. Frankly, resorting to sedition charges to control press activity – traditional or digital – is a tactic we regularly see in other countries where the government is straining to stay in power."

Other critics were quick to point out that Malaysia's existing sedition law, a holdover from British colonial Malaya in 1948, has already been used on bloggers. Chuah Siew Eng pointed out the government threatened sedition charges against bloggers who insulted the memory of the late Sultan of Johor. Last year, authorities also threatened sedition charges against Asia Sentinel for critical reporting on the country but never followed through.

However, many observers agree that a main target is Raja Petra Kamarudin, the irrepressible editor of the online publication Malaysia Today, who fled the country ahead of charges of criminal libel and sedition for, among other things, suggesting incorrectly that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's wife Rosmah Mansour was present at the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006. Two of Najib's bodyguards were convicted of the murder and, although one confessed that they were to be paid RM100,000 to kill the woman, no attempt was ever made to find out who was going to pay them.

"I think there is no reason for such a law," said Tony Pua, an opposition Democratic Action Party Member of Parliament and prominent blogger, in a telephone interview. "Existing laws are very easy to use, broad and nonspecific. The sedition act itself should be repealed or substantially reduced in terms of scope."

That seems unlikely to happen. In particular, Malaysia's growing legions of bloggers played a major role in the relative drubbing that the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition took in national elections in 2008, winning only 51.1 percent of the popular vote and running behind the three opposition parties on the mainland. It lost the three most urbanized and industrialized states – Perak, Penang and Selangor but was saved partly by gerrymandered constituencies long-rigged in its favor, and partly by Sabah and Sarawak, which voted solidly for the status quo. For the first time since independence, the Barisan lost its two-thirds lock on the Dewan Rakyat, or parliament.

As to Hata, the Utusan Malaysia reporter, on Jan. 11, the Malay-language daily informed the veteran reporter that he would be suspended until the completion of an investigation into charges that he had tarnished the newspaper with statements he made to independent media last year calling for press freedom. He has criticised Utusan several times for publishing pro-Umno propaganda and blamed its editorial policy for the dwindling circulation of the UMNO flagship paper, which once boasted the highest daily circulation in Malaysia but has now fallen to sixth.

He faces eight counts of misconduct for issuing statements to news portals and is expected to face a disciplinary hearing on Jan. 17 and, say other reporters, is likely to be fired.

A 16-year veteran reporter with Utusan, Hata was elected president of the country's National Union of Journalists in September. If he is sacked, he would be the third Utusan employee to lose his job because of his activity with the journalist union. Former NUJ president Yazid Othman and NUJ-Utusan Malaysia chairperson Amran Ahmad were also dismissed earlier. If he loses in disciplinary hearing on Jan. 17, he will also be forced to give up the chairmanship of the nUH.

The letter informing Hata of his suspension was draconian at least. He was not only ordered to stay out of any Utusan Melayu offices but stated that he was not allowed to "leave his neighborhood" and would have to be in areas that are reachable by the company "at all times." He is also barred from bringing in outside counsel to the disciplinary hearing and must rely on the NUJ branch at Utusan Malaysia for assistance.

V Anbalagan, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, told the online publication Malaysiakini that the directive to impose "house arrest" on Hata was utter nonsense.

"I don't know where Utusan derived their power from. Which law says it can do this? Utusan is not the police, nor is it the Attorney-General's Chambers," he said.

He added that while he will be present at the daily's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur in an attempt to represent Hata, the NUJ will still adopt a wait-and-see approach until the decision from the inquiry is made.

"We just want to go through due process. We want to fight the DI (domestic inquiry) first. We are not going to protest now, but we will wait for the outcome of the DI," said Anbalagan.

Following Utusan's suspension of Hata, a Facebook group has sprung to his support for those who wish to register their objection to his treatment.

Returning to democratic foundations should be the top priority

January 17, 2011JAN 17 — Malaysia is considered by the present leaders as being a democratic country. It goes to the polls every five years or whenever the ruling coalition feels the time is right. It allows its citizens to practise whatever religion they choose, with some major exceptions. It allows the media, electronic and print to exist, with again very major restrictions. But, of course, the rationale behind all these restrictions is to maintain peace and order. This is the common cliché used to justify the existence of all the preventive and restrictive laws. Of course, the real reasons are to maintain power.

Looking back on how Malaya then was formed, there was every reason to believe that our model of democracy would be a shining example to all the newly independent countries that were once colonies of Britain. Malaya followed the Westminster model. Malaya had all the trappings that would make all other countries envious of it.

It had a bicameral legislature just like Britain. Instead of the House of Lords, it created a nominated House known as the Senate. Members of Parliament were to be elected through a general election. It separated the functions of the Executive and that of Parliament. Each had a definite power of its own. The Judiciary was independent of the Executive. The separation of power was put in place to allow democracy to flourish. The media was to act as the fourth estate.

To top it all, Malaya created a unique constitutional monarchy to be rotated every five years by the nine Sultans in the country.

And the civil service was to remain neutral.

It was beautifully conceived by the founding fathers. The country was to be secular in nature although Islam was made the official religion with all other religions allowed to be practised. There was, in other words, religious freedom.

But like all other cases with newly independent countries, the path towards practising true democracy came to a sudden halt. None of the former British colonies except India ever progressed politically towards true democracy. Some even moved towards anarchy, dictatorship and autocracy. Malaya achieved its independence on a platter but power corrupts the leadership and thus currently Malaysia too is affected. It lost its way and the people are merely fed with slogans, one after another. They are catchy but bereft of any meaningful content.

To struggle and fight for independence was morally right and an obligation but to know how to govern justly and efficiently was another matter. Most had completely discarded the goals, motives and the inspirations in achieving independence. In Africa, the fight had caused thousands to die. With independence, another evil had surfaced — ethnic cleansing. Killings had gone on unabated. Corruption became the order of the day. The nations’ wealth was treated as being the personal wealth of the leaders.

Slums and shanty towns mushroomed as no plans were formulated to give the people their basic needs — education, food and shelter. The leaders were too busy enriching themselves.

But in Malaysia, the ideals as espoused by the founding fathers were cast aside soon after the second prime minister, Tun Razak. True democrats knew what separation of powers meant and what it was meant to foster. It was to stop the rise of any megalomaniac.

Pseudo democrats felt that this arrangement was an impediment to what they wanted to achieve. They felt that all the organs in the separation of power should be subservient to the Executive. This was especially so with the Judiciary. The Judiciary was to be just an appendage of the Executive. It should not be independent of the Executive. Thus the Judiciary was mauled and made to be an institution without honour or respect.

Parliament and the Senate simply acted as rubber stamps to the whims and fancy of the Executive. The media was compelled to support the Executive and had no business to report truthfully and fairly. They were made the tools for propaganda to shape the thinking of the populace to support the government.

All other instruments of government were politicised and became impotent. They lost the power that was originally bestowed and power was transferred to the politicians. The politicians thus became the policy makers and also the implementers. All semblance of checks and balances was thrown to the winds.

A new prime minister has come into office with full of promises to transform the nation, But there has been no effort so far to again remodel the country as was enshrined by the founding fathers. Will Datuk Seri Najib Razak be a saviour and clear the mess that has befallen Malaysia? The task is herculean in nature but will Najib be brave enough to institute the changes that will bring the country back to its original sovereign status, respected and admired by others?

If he truly wants to transform the nation into a united, prosperous and a high-income nation this should be his first priority.

* Ahmad Mustapha Hassan is the author of “The Unmaking of Malaysia” and a former general manager of state news agency Bernama. He was also the press secretary to Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the then-Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.