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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Taliban in Pakistan: We've got a bigger problem now



Editor's Note: The staff at CNN.com has recently been intrigued by the journalism of Vice, an independent media company and Web site based in Brooklyn, New York. VBS.TV is Vice's broadband television network. The reports, which are produced solely by Vice, reflect a very transparent approach to journalism, where viewers are taken along on every step of the reporting process. We believe this unique reporting approach is worthy of sharing with our CNN.com readers.Brooklyn, 


New York (VBS.TV) -- In a recent trip to Pakistan to report on the recent spike in the region's violence and bloodshed, I heard over and over the same sentiment from people on the ground; America's war on terror is falling flat on its face.

The military conflict in neighboring Afghanistan, repeatedly cited by locals, sends a constant flood of guns, refugees, militants and heroin into Pakistan.

Heroin is now actually cheaper than hashish in cities such as Lahore. The Kalashnikov culture, the foundation of which was laid 30 years ago when the CIA financed the mujahedeen, is all-consuming. According to the Pakistanis I spoke to, it's all taken a devastating toll on the country and created the next generation of militants at the same time.

In Peshawar, I met with Rahimullah Yusufzai, the last person to interview Osama bin Laden and one of Pakistan's most respected journalists.

He emphasized that much of the resulting anti-Western sentiment in the country is because of anger directed at American foreign policy.

"People have suffered, and they are willing to take revenge," he said. "All villages have been attacked, women and children have been killed. So the Taliban can very easily motivate these families to supply suicide bombers."

Today's anti-West tide in Pakistan boils down to reactivity, retaliation and revenge.

"In Pashtun society, taking revenge is very important," Yusufzai said. "You know, there is a saying in Pashto: 'Even if you take revenge after 100 years, it's not too late.' And most of these I believe are retaliation attacks. Suicide bombings and the use of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are the two most effective means of weaponry that the militants can use in this part of the world."

See the rest of The Taliban in Pakistan at VBS.TV

It's important to note that the more people I interviewed, the clearer it became that the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan have abandoned the holier pursuit of imposing strict Islamic law on the region. For now, they are simply young, angry and vengeful beyond belief.

More precisely, I was told they are reacting to decades of interventionist and not-so-covert flip-flopping American policy dating back to the Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan administrations.

In Peshawar, I also tracked down Shabir Ahmed Khan, the provincial secretary of Jamaat-i-Islami, a multimillion-member Islamic movement widely considered in Pakistan to be al Qaeda friendly. As soon as we sat down, I could tell he was pissed.

"The problems surrounding us here are not caused by Taliban or al Qaeda," he said. "It's the Western policies. If Westerners are going to kill and murder us, then we will have to fight back."

He continued, uninterrupted: "There's a saying: 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend.' America is playing the role of an enemy, and al Qaeda is the reaction to it. People need to realize this. No one has the right to dictate over a free country. They force their political and social policies on us, which they have no right to."

Nazri: No media clampdown in cyber-sedition guide

Cameron folks: Talk to us

Day 6: 'Interlok' row goes to Tenang




9.45am: Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad to lead gotong royong programme at Kampung Pekan Air Panas.

11.30am: Indian parties and leaders from Pakatan Rakyat lodge a police report at the Tenang Station police station, protesting the use of the novel 'Interlok' as a school textbook.
11.34am: The sun is out, but pregnant rain clouds have formed in the horizon. Looks like it's going to be yet another wet day.

2.30pm: The pro-BN faction of the Malaysian Makkal Sakhti Party (MMSP) is expected to lodge a police report at the Labis police station over "misrepresentation".

In earlier news reports leading to nomination day for the Tenang by-election, MMSP secretary-general R Kannan had pledged his support for PAS candidate Normala Sudirman, and allegiance to Pakatan Rakyat.

The party, launched by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in October 2009, has since split into two factions - one pro-BN and other pro-Pakatan.

Chinese voters could cut BN’s big win


LABIS, Jan 27 — Barisan Nasional’s (BN) hope of retaining Tenang by a majority of at least 5,000 votes has been made difficult as the DAP’s campaign for the January 30 by-election has begun to gain momentum, particularly among the Chinese.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Umno campaigners, who are confident of winning the majority of the Malay votes, have started blaming MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek for his alleged failure to curb the DAP’s rising influence since nomination day.

“I think they have underestimated the influence Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng have over the Chinese community. They are the crowd pullers here and unlike PAS, DAP ceramahs are only attended by locals,” said an Umno official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kit Siang and his son, Penang Chief Minister Guan Eng, spent one day each in the constituency, addressing two well-attended rallies in the Labis Tengah polling district.

Both rallies, held on Monday and Tuesday night respectively, attracted at least 300 local residents, a huge number by Tenang campaign standard.

The DAP is now confident that PAS candidate Normala Sudirman would win at least 60 per cent of the Tenang Chinese votes especially as most of them will return for next week’s Chinese New Year holidays. In Election 2008, PAS obtained 58 per cent of the Chinese votes.

“Currently, we have about 60 to 65 per cent, we are targeting to increase by over 70 per cent, it is still very difficult because in some areas we are not very strong yet,” said Johor DAP chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau.

The DAP’s estimation is almost similar to projections by Umno campaigners who estimated that the Chinese support level has not gone beyond 30 per cent since the start of the campaign period last Saturday, leading to some in Umno demanding to have more say on how the campaign should be run in Chinese areas.

“The problem is we can’t even have frank discussions with the component party on the situation in Chinese areas,” said another Umno official.

“Without strong support from the Chinese areas, it will be difficult for us to get a 5,000-vote majority,” he added.

The MCA has been under pressure to regain the lost Chinese support in a constituency perceived to be the stronghold of Dr Chua to prove its relevance in BN. The party won only 15 of the 31 parliamentary seats it contested in Election 2008.

In 2004, BN won the seat with a majority of more than 5,517 votes but it was reduced to 2,492 votes in Election 2008, which was largely attributed to the shift of Chinese support to the opposition.

Tenang has about 14,500 voters, with the Malays making up about 49 per cent while the Indian voters make up 12 per cent, leaving the Chinese with 39 per cent.

There are three Chinese-majority polling districts in the Tenang constituency — Labis Tengah, Labis Timur and Labis — where in 2008 PAS secured 50 to 67 per cent of the votes.

Umno abusing religion for political goals

Tony Pua

MCA is hypocritical in its attacks against PAS, when it is Umno which poses the greatest threat to religious freedom and individual liberties in Malaysia.

MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek and other MCA leaders have gone on a rampage against PAS, arguing that a vote for PAS will mean the end to religious freedom for the non-Muslim community and individual liberties in the country.

Chua has gone to the extent of arguing that while“Umno is not perfect, it has corruption”, it is still a better choice than PAS for the latter’s religious principles.

The MCA president’s statement is only half-correct for not only is Umno corrupt, it abuses Islam as a political tool to promote extremism, ultra-conservatism to spread fear among Malays against non-Malays and non-Muslims.

Chua has intentionally chosen to turn a blind eye on the fact that Umno’s attempts to curtail non-Muslim rights far exceed anything PAS has to offer.

Over the past two years, we saw how Umno attempted to monopolise the use of “Allah” for Muslims only and prevent Malay-speaking Christians and Sikhs from using the term for their religious prayers.

The Umno-led BN government, of which MCA is an integral part of, has chosen to fight the Catholic Church in court to restrict the freedom of the latter’s community.

This is despite the fact that the term “Allah” is used by even Christian Arabs and Jews in the Middle East for centuries, commonly regarded as the home of Islam.

Conversion issue

Umno leaders have also sensationalised DAP MP Teo Nie Ching’s attempts to foster greater ties with the Muslim community by visiting mosques and taking part in their community activities.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein even condemned Teo for having desecrated the mosques and insulted the religion as she was “unclean”.

Umno’s intentional procrastination over the issue of conversion to Islam by a spouse in a civil marriage has resulted in scores of broken families and untold suffering.

Non-Muslims like Tan Cheow Hong, Indira Gandhi, Nedunchelian, Shamala and Genga Devi were told by the BN government that they must go to the Syariah Court in order to exercise their constitutional rights to raise their children in their own religion.

Umno leaders have also promoted extremism by supporting activities promoting hatred among the various races and religions, such as the “cow-head protests” against the construction of a Hindu temple in a Muslim-majority residential area.

They have also used Islam at their convenience to protest against welfare policies of the Penang state government, arguing outrageously that the RM100 appreciation for the elderly is “not halal”.

In all of the above events and more, MCA has demonstrated its hypocrisy by doing absolutely nothing and remaining absolutely silent like a mouse, despite being a partner of Umno in BN.

In contrast, it has been PAS which was highly vocal in fighting Umno extremism and defending the rights of non-Muslims in Malaysia.

PAS president Hadi Awang has openly defended non-Muslims’ use of Allah in Parliament arguing that even the Quran permits and cited such usage.

Voters must decide wisely

It was Tok Guru Nik Aziz who comforted and defended Teo and encouraged her to continue visiting mosques and building bridges between the various communities, arguing that even Prophet Mohamed received non-Muslim visitors in the mosques.

It was PAS MP for Shah Alam, Khalid Samad who stood his ground against the Umno orchestrated onslaught to defend the rights of the Hindus in his community to build their place of worship.

It is clear as day that PAS has chosen the path of moderation while Umno has chosen to abuse religion to achieve its political goals at all costs.

Worse, MCA has chosen to abet Umno in the process to ensure its own political survival by protecting Umno and attacking PAS for supposed extremism.

The rakyat in Tenang needs to make a choice between PAS, a party which has proven its moderation in its words and deeds in defending non-Muslims in the interest of justice and equity, or Umno which will stop at nothing, including manipulating the people’s religious sensitivities, promoting extremism and dividing the nation according to racial and religious lines, to hang on to political power.

Tony Pua is DAP’s information chief and the MP for Petaling Jaya Utara.

Rosmah’s own ‘oval office’


PUTRAJAYA: A new unit in the Prime Minister’s Department has set tongues wagging.

The unit known as FLOM, an acronym for First Lady of Malaysia, is a full-fledged department that looks into the operational needs of the Prime Minister’s wife, Rosmah Mansor.

Ensconed within the premises of the PM’s Office, FLOM has a six-member staff headed by special officer Siti Azizah Sheikh Abod.

The rest of the unit comprises two personal assistants Saleha Mohd Rabani and Siti Zaiton Abdul Ghani and three assistant officers with special functions – G Vimala, Rizal Mansor and Nurul Rosemiemmy Kahsimi.

What these personnel actually do is anyone’s guess and FLOM’s mission and vision remain a mystery. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) official website too is not helpful.

Suffice to say that FLOM was probably involved in the highly publicised and controversial Islamic Fashion Week, the recent RM4.5 million three-day First Ladies Summit and, not to mention, the additional “official activities” and visits to New York, Europe and the Middle East.

Curious bloggers hot on the Rosmah trail have been spewing venom at her audacity to establish her own unit within the Prime Minister’s Department.

(FLOM shares the same stature in the PMO as that of five other units, namely private secretary, political secretary, Office of the Prime Minister’s adviser, Office of the Prime Minister’s economic adviser and Management Office of Sri Perdana.)

“Already she’s taking away hundreds of millions of ringgit from the taxpayers’ money to channel into her Permata (early childhood education) and other project. When the PM was sick, she ignored Muhyiddin (Yassin) and stood in for PM… Now she has moved into the Prime Minister’s Office… what will she do next, ” ranted one blogger.

Another blog posting demanded to know the operational cost of running a six-member department and who

“What is she trying to do… run the country? The role of the wife of a PM is to complement him in relation to the social aspects.

“Rosmah should play the role of mother to the people of Malaysia, instead of wasting taxpayers’ money to establish a division,” noted the posting.

Yet another posting noted: “Rosmah fancies herself as Michelle Obama (US President Barrack Obama’s wife)… with access to the Oval office.”

Fascinated by the online brouhaha over Rosmah’s latest stunt, FMT made a short call to the PMO only to be told that the “entire” FLOM team was not back from Oman but declined to give furher details.

Meanwhile, a report in The Star last week noted that Rosmah’s “official visit to Oman will further strengthen relations between Malaysia and the sultanate”.

Opposition parties here have not been without their views. PKR has reportedly demanded that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak explain FLOM’s legality.

Said PKR women’s chief Zuraida Kamaruddin: “Najib should explain this division, and the establishment of this unit without going through the legal convention such as Parliament. Rosmah should not have an office in PMO.”

Call to probe politically-linked families

KUCHING: Sarawak DAP wants an independent Royal Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the massive illicit outflow of funds – RM889 billion between 2000 and 2009 – from the country and its link to powerful politically-connected families.

Citing a Washington-based Global Financial Integrity report on the massive illicit financial outflow from Malaysia, state DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen said: “Not only is the figure shocking but what is more worrying is the trend of increasing illicit outflow of fund from Malaysia.

“In 2000 the estimated outflow was RM67 billion. In 2008, it shot up to RM208 billion.

“Compare this to the total expenditure of the federal government in 2008, which was only RM170 billion.

“The fund illicitly taken out of the country is larger than the total budget of the country’s government in the same year,” he said.

Chong also said that powerful politicians or their family members could be involved in such illicit transfer of money.

He said that the royal commission should investigate Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his family’s alleged ownership of billions of ringgit worth of property in the US, UK, Australia and Canada.

“If the government truly intends to get to the bottom of the matter, investigation must start with politicians whose family members own valuable property overseas,” he said.

No explaination

Chong, who is also Bandar Kuching MP, said that despite widespread reporting of Taib’s massive wealth, no explanation had been forthcoming from the chief minister.

“Until today, Taib did not say whether the reports in the website are true – how the family members got the money to buy such valuable property.

“Was the money illicitly taken out from Malaysia?

“These are the million-dollar questions that most Sarawakians want to know and expect the authorities to investigate,” Chong said.

He also posed a question for Bank Negara.

“Given the severity of the illicit outflow of funds and the possibility that the country could lose more, doesn’t Bank Negara have the required power and independence to carry out a thorough investigation?” he asked.

He also spoke on the recent unprecedented act of deleting recordings from the State Legislative Assembly’s Hansard (official report).

“When DAP state assemblywoman, Violet Yong, confronted Taib in the state assembly on this issue, the whole text of Yong’s speech was deleted from the Hansard.

“Such unprecedented and improper act on the part of the state assembly speaker in not recording the debate of a member in the House gives rise to more suspicion,” he added.

What’s so great about Islamic values?

“So what is so great about that? That is your religious value, which I don't know. How am I to know about the religious values when I'm not practising that religion? I have the right to say that it's basic manners to shake hands with people. That's my values. Understand? You also must value my value, which is good manners, which includes shaking hands.”

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

For years we have been trying to tell the Malays to be more sensitive and considerate to the non-Muslims. I admit it has been a difficult and uphill task when we have the custodians of the religion such as muftis issuing fatwahs (decrees) that reverse everything we have been trying to do.

In 2008, I was detained under the Internal Security Act for what the government said was my crime of insulting Islam. And what was that crime? I had written an article criticising mosques that spread what I called hate sermons (kutbahs) during Friday prayers.

My bone of contention was that some mosques in their kutbahs say that the non-Muslims, whom they call kafirs or infidels, are enemies of Islam and therefore should not be taken as friends. It is forbidden to take kafirs as friends because their mission is to undermine or destroy Islam.

My opposition to these types of hate sermons got me detained without trial.

Back in 1999 I whacked Umno for criticising Tian Chua and Gobalakrishnan for entering the National Mosque or Masjid Negara. “How can the opposition allow these two kafirs who are considered dirty in entering the National Mosque?” said Umno. This was during a demonstration that was held in the mosque. And Umno’s view was supported by some religious scholars.

I reminded Umno that foreign tourists, who are also not Muslims, are allowed into the National Mosque, which is a tourist destination. If Japanese, Koreans, Europeans, and so on, who are also not Muslims, can enter the National Mosque (as long as they are properly attired) why make an issue about Tian Chua and Gobalakrishnan also entering the mosque, as long as they take off their shoes and are properly attired (not in shorts or mini-skirts)?

During the PKR dinners they served beef. Even the vegetables had beef in it. This was pointed out to me by the late MGG Pillai and I brought this matter to the attention of the party secretariat.

When DAP organises dinner functions they make sure that there is no pork served. In fact, it is not enough there is no pork but they cater for halal food as well where Muslims prepare the food that Muslims are going to eat. And Muslims eat on separate tables from the Chinese food. If DAP can be sensitive to the Muslim diet requirement why can’t PKR also do the same? Beef is as haram to some Malaysians as pork is to Muslims.

As I said, it has been an uphill task in trying to educate the Malays to be sensitive to the requirements of the non-Islamic religions. Muslims demand that non-Muslims be sensitive to the requirements of Islam but Muslims do not also do the same. Sensitivity must be both ways. If Muslims want non-Muslims to be sensitive about Islamic requirements then the Muslims must demonstrate the same sensitivity.

Unfortunately, the recent uproar on the issue of Muslim women shaking hands with men has set us back many years. Many years of work has just been jeopardised. Actually, the shaking hands issue is not really that big an issue. But it is the arrogant response by the MCA and Gerakan leaders that has damaged the work we have been trying to do all these years.

Muslims who have been trying to propagate more inter-religious tolerance and understanding have been whacked by fellow Muslims. They call us bleeding heart liberals and religious deviants. They treat us like sell-outs who compromise our religious principles for political gain.

We are constantly reminded that the non-Muslims can’t be taken as friends as they are enemies of Islam whose purpose is to undermine or destroy Islam. We tell these orthodox Muslims or fundamentalists that they are wrong. The non-Muslims have no intention to undermine or destroy Islam. In fact, they have the utmost respect and tolerance for Islam and would go out of their way to accommodate Muslim sensitivities.

But the statements coming from the MCA and Gerakan leaders are now being used to prove us ‘bleeding heart liberals’ wrong. “There you are,” we are now being told. “We told you and you argued that we are wrong. Now who is wrong?”

I am not being spared my share of hate mail. Those I crossed swords with before are now asking me: so, were we right or were we wrong? The non-Muslims have finally demonstrated their arrogance and hostility towards Islam, my detractors remind me.

I suppose we can’t take what a handful of MCA and Gerakan leaders say as proof that the non-Muslims are bent on undermining or destroying Islam. After all, can we take what PERKASA is saying as proof that all Malays are supportive of Malay Supremacy or Ketuanan Melayu?

PERKASA is a minority group. They do not represent the majority voice. The majority of the Malays do not support PERKASA’s views.

However, in the PERKASA case, many Malays came out to voice their opposition to Ketuanan Melayu. In fact, more Malays demonstrated opposition to PERKASA that those who demonstrated support. But in the MCA-Gerakan matter, the Chinese have not come out to attack what their leaders said. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. For once, MCA and Gerakan, which are rivals at best, appear united. For once MCA and Gerakan speak as one voice and the only time they speak as once voice is on an anti-Islam platform.

This is the impression given.

Those of us who have been advocating inter-religious tolerance and understanding these last many years (even advocating an Inter-Faith Commission or IFC, at the condemnation of fellow Muslims) have now been silenced. For decades we had been arguing that non-Muslims harbour no bad faith towards Islam. Then leaders from MCA and Gerakan give us a tight slap on our face and prove us wrong.

Can you imagine how delighted the fundamentalists now are? Finally, they have been proven right and we liberals have been proven wrong. And they use the arrogant response of the MCA and Gerakan leaders to reinforce their point.

I hope the non-Muslim voters in Tenang will vote against Barisan Nasional this weekend. This will give us ammunition to use in our argument that what a few MCA and Gerakan leaders say is not reflective of the view of the majority of the non-Muslims. If not we would be hard-pressed in countering what the religious people say in that the non-Muslims should not be taken as friends because they harbour bad-faith and ill-will towards Islam.

It is most unfortunate that race and religion are used as weapons in election campaigns but I suppose when politicians are bankrupt of ideas then this is what you get

Umno’s new election strategy



Umno is now looking at fielding winnable candidates for the next general election rather than candidates from amongst the local warlords like in the past. And they are experimenting with this in the ongoing and coming by-elections. This has stirred things somewhat but eventually the grassroots accept the decision of the leadership. Let’s see if this actually helps them win the by-elections. 
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin

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MPs say press law changes will drive investors away

By Clara Chooi | The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Opposition lawmakers piled criticism today on the government’s plan to regulate online media content, predicting that the move would see severe voter backlash and hamper investor confidence in Malaysia.

DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang told The Malaysian Insider today that the Najib administration’s latest attempt to quell online dissent was a clear violation of the Barisan Nasional government’s pledge not to enforce censorship on the Internet.

The promise, he noted, was made under the 10-point Bill of Guarantees (BoGs) of the Malaysian Multimedia Super Corridor launched in 1996.

“They should be aware of this violation and if they proceed with this, they will frighten away investors.

“If the guarantee is not honoured, investors will view Malaysia as losing its credibility,” he said when contacted.

It was reported yesterday that the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 will be amended soon to expand its scope and include online media content.

National news agency Bernama quoted Home Minister secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam as saying that the ministry was looking to redefine the word “publication” in the law to include Internet content, blogs and social network services such as Facebook.

The proposed amendments, he added, would be tabled in Parliament by March this year.

But Lim said that instead of “widening the net” of the “already controversial” PPPA, the government needed to amend the law to loosen restrictions on the organisations that it currently controls.

“They should remove the draconian bits of the law like removing the requirement for media organisations to apply for annual licences to proceed with their publications,” he said.

He added that the country presently had sufficient laws to regulate media content that were deemed overly sensitive or offensive.

“If materials are defamatory in nature, there are adequate laws to bring the writers or publishers to book.

“But here, we are trying to control online content… we are just moving backwards,” he said.

PKR deputy president Azmin Ali agreed with his Pakatan Rakyat colleague, adding that the move to regulate online media content would “dampen” the country’s economy.

“We talk about globalisation, about freedom of information, which we are doing in Selangor, and we talk about allowing easy access to information. This is what democracy is about.

“But yet we move backwards. How do we expect our economy to grow? How do we expect to attract investors to park their businesses here when everything is being controlled? We are frightening them away,” he said.

Commission of Inquiry names six-man panel to look into Teoh’s death

The Star
by MAZWIN NIK ANIS, YUEN MEIKENG and ALLISON LAI

PUTRAJAYA: The Commission of Inquiry into the Teoh Beng Hock case will determine if there was any impropriety when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigated the political aide.

The commission, headed by Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen, will also enquire into Teoh’s death and the circumstances surrounding and contributing to it.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who announced the appointment of the panel members, said Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin had consented to the Government’s proposal to set up the commission under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1950.

The other members of the commission are former Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Selventhiranathan Thiagarajah, Penang Hospital’s senior consultant forensic pathologist Datuk Dr Bhupinder Singh and Cyberjaya University College of Medical Science’s dean of medical faculty Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom.

The Prime Minister’s Department’s Legal Affairs division director-general Datuk Saripuddin Kasim is the commission secretary.

“The terms of reference of the commission is to enquire whether or not there was any impropriety in the conduct of the examination of Teoh in the course of an investigation by the MACC in relation to its standing orders and practices.

“It will also enquire into Teoh’s death and the circumstances surrounding and contributing to his death,” the Prime Minister said in a statement yesterday.

Najib said the commission was required to complete its investigation within three months of its members receiving their appointment letters. Their report would be presented to the King after that.

Deputy head of the Attorney-General’s Chambers civil division Amarjeet Singh and DPPs Awang Amardajaya Awang Mahmud and Kwan Li Sa have been appointed as the conducting officers for the commission.

On Jan 7, Najib had announced the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry to determine if there was any abuse in procedures by the MACC when handling the case and if there was a violation of human rights.

The announcement was made after the Coroner’s Court returned an open verdict on Jan 5 as Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas found there was insufficient evidence to prove that the political aide’s death was homicide. He also ruled out suicide.

Commission of Inquiry into Teoh Beng Hock’s death

The scope of reference of the commission are: Whether or not there was any impropriety in the MACC’s conduct during its examination of Teoh in 2009; and to enquire into the death of Teoh and the circumstances surrounding and contributing to his death.

Members of the commission

Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen

(head of the commission)

Born on Feb 25, 1946 in Kuala Lumpur.

He was educated at the Methodist Boys School, Kuala Lumpur and graduated in law from the University of London in 1969.

Foong served as a judicial commissioner in 1990.

He was made a judge at the Court of Appeal in 2005 and later, a Federal Court judge in 2009.

Former Federal Court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman

Born on Sept 29, 1939 and hails from Bukit Meriam, Kedah. He was a junior assistant commissioner in the Labour Ministry in 1960 before taking up a law degree at The Middle Temple, London in 1968.

Abdul Kadir served as the Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in 1995.

In 2005, he was appointed Federal Court judge until he retired in March 2006.

Former Court of Appeal judge Datuk T. Selventhiranathan

He acted as the head of the civil division for the Attorney-General’s Chambers from 1985 to 1991.

Selventhiranathan was appointed as a High Court judge in 1995.

He was appointed Court of Appeal judge in 2009.

Penang Hospital senior consultant forensic pathologist Datuk Dr Bhupinder Singh

He graduated from the Delhi University, India, in 1978.

He obtained his Legal Medicine diploma and Medical Jurisprudence in Pathology diploma from the University of Leeds and University of London in 1990 and 1992 respectively.

He was appointed the northern region Forensic Institute director in April 2005.

Cyberjaya University College of Medical Science’s dean and consultant forensic psychiatrist Prof Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom

He obtained his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the Cairo University, Egypt in 1981.

He obtained his master’s degree in medicine (psychiatry) from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1989.

In 2003, he became a fellow at the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia.

PM’s Department legal affairs division director- general Datuk Saripuddin Kasim

(secretary of the commission)

He obtained his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Hartford, United States and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Malaya.

He joined the public service in 1984 and was appointed the PM’s Department legal affairs division director-general on Sept 15 last year.

Call For Perak Mb To Go For Umno Youth Chief's Post

Call For Perak Mb To Go For Umno Youth Chief's Post

IPOH, Jan 26 (Bernama) -- Larut Umno Division head Datuk Seri Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar said Wednesday Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir would be an excellent candidate for the post of Umno Youth chief at the wing's next elections.

He said Zambry, 48, who is a former Perak Umno chief, had emerged as a young, capable and experienced leader to head the wing at the national level.

Dr Zambry could become an icon for youths, considering his position and experience, he told reporters here.

"I am not saying that we are short of young leaders but he (Dr Zambry) has special leadership qualities and can muster greater support from the younger generation," he said.

Tunisia now, Tun-isia next?

(Malaysiakini) The Tunisian people's ousting of the hated Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali regime reminds all us opponents of criminal governments that it's high time to rid Malaysia of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his successors in the BN gang.

Seeing the Tun flying off to a well-deserved retirement in Saudi Arabia and his thieving, conniving successors, confederates and cronies out of office and on trial for their crimes against the nation would be a democrat's dream come true.

But admittedly it doesn't appear to be too likely any time soon. Malaysia missed what seemed a golden opportunity to rid itself of the Tun, Tunisia style, when so many citizens proved too confused, cautious or chicken to support the Reformasi movement back in the late 1990s.

Since then the NONEsurvivors and successors of Mahathirism have had 10 extra years to continue their looting of the nation's wealth and corruption of its institutions, and the Tun himself has been around to help perpetuate his poisonous legacy.

And however many disappointments the Malaysian populace has suffered in this time; however many billions of public money squandered, embezzled, stolen and stashed away overseas; however many lives lost through police brutality; however many major crimes committed and condoned by the powers that be, the majority seem happy to keep copping it.

Or so it seems, as long as BN can still bribe and bully enough voters to support its candidates in buy-elections, as in the current 'contest' in Tenang.

So accustomed are Malaysians to atrocities committed against them by BN, apparently, that many or even most seem incapable of seeing the latest one as the final straw.

In Tunisia, the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back was the suicide by self-immolation of a young man unjustly targeted by the police. But in Malaysia, or, for the purposes of this column, Tun-isia, many if not most citizens seem content to tolerate a very similar case, the death of Teoh Beng Hock in MACC custody.
NONEThe finding by an 18-month coroner's enquiry that Teoh's suspicious death was “neither suicide nor homicide” has apparently inspired no particular protest by the nation's lawyers, or any outpouring of popular outrage on the streets or in polling stations.

Similarly, the victimisation of senior journalist and National Union of Journalists president Hata Wahari, though no doubt privately decried by many, brought not a murmur of public protest from his colleagues in the mainstream press, let alone a public march or industrial strike in his support.

And when it comNONEes to protesting against the outrageously racist and religionist antics of BN-sponsored 'newspaper' Utusan Malaysia and Malay-supremacist pressure-group Perkasa, moderate Malaysians are rendered silent by BN threats of a repeat of the deadly riots of May 13.

They forget, or fail to recall, that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is the son of Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, the man who allegedly fomented the events of May 13, 1969 for the purpose of deposing and replacing Malaysia's founding premier Tunku Abdul Rahman.

And in any event, let's face it, BN's so-called law enforcers have been waging a gradual or slow-motion May 13 for years, in the process killing far more non-Malay detainees and 'suspects' than there were casualties in the original riots.

Expectations check

Another of the killings that stands out as justifying a Tunisia-style popular revolt against Malaysia's Tun-isian BN government, is that of the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

This case was and remains riddled with so many glaring mysteries and inconsistencies that it would have destroyed any even marginally-respectable ruling coalition.

From the official pre-trial declaration that there were definitely only three suspects involved, through the unexplained erasure of the victim's immigration records to Najib's swearing on the Quran that he had no knowledge of or involvement in the crime, the entire affair was a national and international outrage.

But faNONEr from spelling doom to Tun-isia - or should that really be Tun-Asia? - this monumental scandal didn't even deter the Tun from supporting Najib as the replacement for his hand-picked successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

So, all things considered, I and my fellow political optimists shouldn't get our hopes up too much that the revolution in Tunisia will have any marked effect on the situation in Tun's Malaysia.

In fact, far from revolution or even evolution, the nation seems hell-bent on a process of devolution. It is sinking slowly but surely down the corruption rankings, while rising to the heights in illicit financial outflows.

And from this whishammuddin hussien and bneek it looks set to sink still lower in the media-freedom stakes, with the pending announcement by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on new Internet sedition guidelines.

Unfortunately the deadline for this column won't wait for the big announcement. But going by BN's previous record of bringing the charge of sedition against its critics, notably the self-exiled Raja Petra Kamarudin, it won't be good news for us virtual BN-bashers.

Opposition to BN is not sedition, of course, as BN is just the coalition of parties in government, and not the system of government itself. In fact the BN regime itself is seditious, in that it works tirelessly to corrupt and undermine Malaysia's constitution, while its critics only want it out and respectable government restored.

In other words, the loyal Malaysian opposition and its supporters are calling for the repeal of seditious laws like the Internal Security Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and the cessation of 'soditious' activities like the trial of Anwar Ibrahim on a trumped-up charge.

Or, better still, the Tunisia-style removal of Mahathir and his entire coterie of BN colleagues and cronies.

DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he mentors creative writing groups. Already published in Kuala Lumpur is a third collection of his columns for Malaysiakini, following earlier collections 'Mad about Malaysia' and 'Even Madder about Malaysia'.

Protesters in Egypt greeted by a police crackdown

Egyptian anti-riot police confront Egyptian activist outside a journalists syndicate in downtown Cairo on Wednesday.

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Protesters taking to the streets in Egypt on Wednesday felt the wrath of security forces, a day after an unparalleled display of public rage at the government and full-throated cries for the ouster of the longtime president.

Police turned water cannons and tear gas on protesters in the early hours of Wednesday morning to try to break up unprecedented anti-government demonstrations as the Interior Ministry warned it "will not allow any provocative movement or a protest or rallies or demonstrations."

In the heart of Cairo, where people were being beaten with sticks and fists and demonstrators were being dragged away amid tear gas. Witnesses saw security forces harassing journalists and photographers. Demonstrations continued into the nightime hours.

A minor clash happened in Suez, as well, according to the Interior Ministry.

The ministry urged "citizens to renounce attempts to bid and trade their problems and not lose sight of the consequences of provocation for those who attempt to try to open the door to a state of chaos or portray the situation in the country this way."

The clampdown comes after thousands of protesters spilled into the streets of Egypt on Tuesday, an unprecedented display of anti-government rage inspired in part by the tumult in the nearby North African nation of Tunisia.

At least four people died in the Tuesday clashes, the Interior Ministry reported -- three protesters in Suez and one police officer in Cairo. It also said at least 102 security personnel were injured.

The Interior Ministry put the size of the Tuesday demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square at 10,000 at its peak, falling to 5,000. CNN estimated that demonstration peaked at 15,000 to 20,000.

But Wednesday is a work day in Egypt, so the numbers on the streets of Cairo were lower than they were on Tuesday, a holiday known as Police Day.

Protesters had been expressing their anger over the rising cost of living, failed economic policies and corruption, but all those concerns were distilled into one overriding demand: the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, a reliable American ally who's been in power for three decades.

Egyptian authorities have been aware of complaints, but protesters widely believe that the government has simply paid lip service to their grievances.

Protest organizers on Facebook called for "strikes and marches in populous neighborhoods" Wednesday, but did not outline specific plans.

"Tomorrow has to be spontaneous and must be in the more populous neighborhoods and not set for any particular time," the post said.

"Entering Tahrir Square will be dangerous and the response of security forces will be overwhelming," the post said, referring to the location of the largest protest Tuesday.

There is talk among protesters about staging a big demonstration on Friday, after Muslim prayers.

Twitter was blocked in Egypt on Tuesday, the microblogging site said, adding: "We believe that the open exchange of info & views benefits societies & helps govts better connect w/ their people."

Protesters used social media including Twitter and Facebook to organize the demonstrations and to communicate during the day.

Magdi Radi, spokesman for Egypt's prime minister, told CNN that the government "didn't block Facebook, Twitter or any other website. He said that "the websites may have been slow because of the heavy usage."

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, a human rights group, on Wednesday underscored a "national demand" -- the dismissal of Interior Minister Habib Al-Adli.

"Yesterday, disengagement of peaceful gatherings by using excessive force was added to his crimes as well as arbitrary arrests of hundreds of citizens and detaining them in illegal locations, such as security camps of Darrasa in Cairo and Madinet elSalam at the outskirts of Cairo, two locations completely controlled by the Interior Ministry."

The group said police "turned into monsters attacking demonstrators , especially small clusters in side streets, without distinction between an elderly man or a woman or youth."

Organizers said they hope to capture the regional momentum for political change set by Tunisians, who forced the collapse of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year rule.

But Mubarak, unlike Ben Ali, remains in his country. Stories that Mubarak or any other member of his family left Egypt are categorically false," said Karim Haggag, Egyptian Embassy spokesman in Washington.

Calling its relationship with Egypt "strong and friendly," the U.S. State Department regards Mubarak's help in maintaining security in the Mideast as critical.

The government, which has diplomatic relations with Israel, has helped forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians and has helped in efforts to stabilize Iraq, the State Department said.

It contributes to U.N. peacekeeping missions, "played a key role during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis," and is a "key supporter of U.S. efforts against terrorists and terrorist organizations such as Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, the department said in a background note about Egypt.

U.S. military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually, and the U.S. Agency for International Development has passed along over $28 billion in economic and development assistance to the country since 1975.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the Obama administration continues to monitor the situation. He believes all parties should refrain from violence and that authorities should lift bans on protests.

He reiterated the position that "Egypt is a strong ally."

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh spoke to reporters about the ferment in the Arab world.

Clinton urged freedom for people and called on Egyptian authorities not to block social media. She urged the countries in the region to enact reforms and expressed optimism that the leaders there can do so.

"It is something that everyone knows must be on the agenda of the government as they -- not just respond to the protests -- but as they look beyond to what needs to be done economically, socially, politically. And there are a lot of very well-informed, active, civil society leaders in Egypt who have put forward specific ideas for reform and we are encouraging and urging the Egyptian government to be responsive to that."

Jordan has experienced demonstrations over economic issues, and the foreign minister was asked whether the protests that raged in Tunisia and Egypt will spread.

Judeh said Jordan doesn't exist in an economic bubble and faces hardships other lands endure. But he said the country is tackling a political and economic reform agenda and its system promotes freedom of expression.

A.G. Tan Sri Gani Patail and Malay-sian police have started bullying young 14 year old boy. 6 months & not ready with prosecution documents so court sends back 14 year old poor child Mughilan back to jail to continue with 2 ½ months jail before even being found guilty.

2
Arising out of a swimming pool misunderstanding where Mughilan (14) was alleged to have at worst  accidently touched a young girl while swimming. The policeman slapped Mughilan 3 times on the cheek, handcuffed him to his motorcycle and brought him to the police station. Mughilan started sobbing and repeated that he had not done any wrong.

Children are naturally naughty and should be protected and not punished under any legal system in any part of the world. Just because two police reports were lodged by Mughilan against the police, he was slapped with a charge under Section 354 of the Penal Code for outraging modesty and criminal force in outraging modesty which carries a ten year jail term whipping and a fine.
1How could a 14 year old boy use force on an 8 year old girl in a public area swimming pool at 6.15 p.m which is peak time with scores of other swimmers? Yang Arif Attorney General Tan Sri Gani Patail and the Malay-sian Polis Raja Di Malay-sia will now applying Malay-sian standards of justice.
P. Uthayakumar appeared before the KL Malay-sian Juvenile Courts Magistret Puan Suhaily binti Samsudin this morning, 26/1/11, applying that Mughilan be released after advising (if necessary) further to Section 93 (1) (9) or (b) of the Child Act 2001.
P1010022The DPP objected when the DPP wanted another mention date as the documents under section 51A of the Evidence Act for purposes of the trial were not ready. Uthayakumar urged the Court to dismiss the charge on the grounds of it being groundless further to Section 173 (g) of the Criminal procedure Code and mala fide especially so when Mughilan has already served 2 ½ months jail without even being found guilty.
Uthayakumar also submitted that Mughilan was denied his Birth Certificate and Identity Card and given it only last year. So he could not attend secondary school (The Tamil school headmaster admitted him to school off the record). But the secondary school Malay-sian headmaster refused to admit Mughilan  to school (like thousands of other Indian poor). Mughilan, his parents and grandparents are all born in Malaysia but have been made stateless together with an estimated 450,000 other even 4th, 5th and 6th generation Indians.
The racist and biased Magistret Puan Suhaily Samsudin turned down Uthayakumar’s application.
Uthayakumar repeated that Mughilan’s mother, a cleaner who only earns RM 450 per month could not afford the RM 1,700 bail despite 2 ½ months now since Mughilan’s imprisonment. Uthayakumar took out his wallet and appealed that he had RM 300 to help out and asked for the bail to be reduced to RM 300 so that Mughilan could go home with his mother.
The Malay-sian Magistret yet again turned down Uthayakumar’s appeal and sent Mughilan back to jail upholding the racist malay-sian standards of justice.
Would the Malay-sian Magistret have done the same had Mughilan’s name been Mohamed bin Abdullah?
Both Mughilan and his mother were in tears as Mughilan was taken back to jail. No bail money and no legal fees, no justice, and long jail sentences to thousands of Indians in One Malay-sia. Uthayakumar is attending to Mughilan’s case on a pro bono basis.
Uthayakumar is preparing a Revision (Appeal) to the High Court.
Karunai Nithi @ Compassionate Justice
UTHAYAKUMAR_-MUGILAN_KES
UTHAYAKUMAR_-MUGILAN_KES_1

Final Malay-sian Court nail on Hindu Corporal Moorthy’s coffin who lived as a Hindu but buried as a Muslim against his wife and family’s wishes.

image

(See The Sun , 26/1/2010 at page 10 and NST, 26/1/2010 at page 22)
Final Malay-sian   Final Malay-sian 2

Royal panel will now probe Teoh’s death


KUALA LUMPUR: The Najib administration has caved in to public pressure and widened the scope of the royal panel to include investigating how Teoh Beng Hock died despite its initial refusal to do so.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in a statement issued today. It was also revealed that Federal Court judge James Foong Cheng Yuen will lead the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

Foong will be assisted by former federal judge Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, ex-Court of Appeal judge T Selventhiranathan, forensic pathologist Dr Bhupinder Singh and Cyberjaya Universiti College of Medical Sciences Profesor Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom.

Saripuddin Kasim, the director-general of the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Department, is the secretary of the commission.

The other members are senior federal counsel Amarjeet Singh, and deputy public prosecutors Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud and Kwan Li Sa.

Najib said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has consented to the appointment and the terms of reference set for the royal panel.

The terms of reference will probe the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating procedures, and enquire into the death of the former DAP aide and the circumstances that contributed to his death.

“The commission will have three months from the date of its appointment to complete its inquiry. The report will be submitted to the King,” said Najib.

Teoh, 30, the former DAP aide to Seri Kembangan state assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, fell to his death on July 16, 2009, at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam, after he was questioned overnight by the Selangor MACC.

An inquest was set up to probe how he died but coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas returned an open verdict after more than a year of proceeding.

The verdict sparked a nationwide outrage with the opposition piling the pressure on Najib to set up a royal panel.

Stifling online press: ‘A useless move’


KUALA LUMPUR: Several Umno leaders today joined forces with their rivals Pakatan Rakyat in criticising a proposal to regulate online media content, describing the move as “useless”.

Pulai MP Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that it was better to counter the “negative elements” in the Internet as well as voters via a strong online government campaign.

“It’s a silly thing to do,” said Nur Jazlan. “Unless we have jurisdiction to control the content outside of the country, the law would be redundant.”

Nur Jazlan, the Pulai MP, is the son of the late Mohamed Rahmat, an Umno veteran and former information minister.

The news that the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) will be amended soon to expand its scope to include online media content was reported by Bernama yesterday.

Home Ministry secretary-general Mahmood Adam said his ministry was looking to redefine the word “publication” to include Internet content, blogs and social network services.

The proposed amendments, he added, would be tabled in Parliament by March this year.

The Facebook and Twitter “revolutions” have given politicians from both sides ample space to disseminate information and campaign without having to rely on traditional media.

“So does this mean they are going to clamp down on them as well?” asked Nur Jazlan.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin was dead set against the move. “It’s ridiculous. We should be moving towards greater freedom,” said the Rembau MP.

Discourse in media freedom shifting

The idea of regulating online content in Malaysia is not new. It has been ongoing since the mushrooming of blogs and online news portals critical of the BN government.

Attempts to curtail its influential growth started with then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who made a similar proposal to the Home Ministry today.

Recently, Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim floated the idea of the “Green Dam”, following China’s footsteps in controlling dissidence in the online realm.

The move was purportedly to curb alleged “spreading of lies” and “libellous contents”, but the general public perception was that it was aimed at crushing dissent.

Public and international pressure forced the government to abandon the idea.

Like his Umno peers, former Selangor menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo said it was not necessary to regulate online media content but stressed the need to strengthen existing law, chiefly the Sedition Act, to crack down on “rumour mongers”.

“It is also impossible to regulate. The future of media is in the likes of Facebook and Twitter. You can’t regulate these things,” he said.

The discourse on media freedom in Malaysia has seen a drastic shift in recent years.

In the past leaders in the ruling coalition would have agreed to such a move in a whiff, but now they agree that free competition of ideologies would help restore Malaysia’s democratic image in the
international arena.

However, Pakatan leaders like PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang and the DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok remain convinced that nothing has changed with BN.

They said that the move to amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 was “another measure to further stiffle the voice of the people and tighten government control”.

‘Don’t question government policies’

SUPP, whose political existence is propped by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's patronage, says the Chinese have always been given equal opportunities.

MIRI: Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Dr George Chan wants the Chinese to discard the old perception that they have been marginalised by the government.

Urging the community to discard its old views about the government here yesterday, Chan said: “Don’t question government’s policies because they are made in the utmost sincere manner.

“The Chinese community should discard the old negative perception that it is marginalised by the government.”

“The Chinese have always been given equal opportunities in business and education,” said Chan, whose daughter is married to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s son and sits on the board of multi-million ringgit “first family-owned” Monarda Sdn Bhd.

However, Chan, who is Deputy Chief Minister, warned that no government policy could be implemented instantly.

“Implementation takes some time. When we talk about social justice, the Chinese should not think that they are always marginalised.

“They should see the bigger picture of the overall performance of all races in the country,” he said.

Chan’s views followed a worried call by SUPP’s Sibu branch leader Tiong Thai King who claimed that a fed-up Chinese community was “putting politics behind their business and economics”.

Business opportunity

Tiong said if this “thinking” continued, then the Chinese would suffer “uncertainty in the future about education, job opportunities and others”.

“We must play an active political role because the Bumiputera communities are very united. They have the political power and they get what they want,” he reportedly said.

Chan said the Chinese community had “always been given equal opportunity”.

“I was informed that Chinese businessmen have always been given the chance to participate in any business opportunity made available by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) and Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida).

“I was told that these opprtunities are not meant merely for the Bumiputeras.

“So the perception that the Chinese are marginalised is not true,” he said.

Poor NUPW workers, ‘rich’ union sec-gen


KUALA LUMPUR: Irate estate workers have taken the National Union of Plantation workers to task over a resolution at its recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) allowing for a 14% increase in the salary of the secretary general.

Claiming ‘malpractice’, the members said they were not informed of the AGM and were shocked to read about G Sankaran’s salary hike.

“How can they approve a big increase like this for Sankaran when the workers are still struggling with RM15 a day on daily wages.

“The union has been around since 1954 and we are still living hand to mouth,” said a frustrated worker who refered to himself as a ‘paying member’ of the union.

Declining to be named he said, Sankaran’s new salary was now RM7,100 which was RM274 per day and this did not inlcude the RM0.80 sen per kilometre travel allowance and other ‘perks’ that ‘he had tailored’ for himself since he took over 18 years ago.

“The AGM was just a ‘drama’ staged by Sankaran and his cronies… NUPW has been ripping off the workers for years.

“The NUPW constitution states the secretary general must be a plantation worker …we know Sankaran is not and that he pays a source in an estate to get his docket done so that he can stay in power.

“He is very powerful. No one dares question him, even the chairman and the treasurer-general. At the AGM, they did not even read treasurer Samsudin Samad’s financial report. But it was approved and passed.”

He said there were ‘too many’ ambiguities with the current financial report and in NUPW’s investment and management portfolios.

Among them were Sankaran’s stature as secretary general of NUPW bearing in mind that he is 60 years old. According to him the constitution only allows for members to hold a post.

“Most plantations retire you at 55, so how come he’s still there?”

The other is the Great Eastern Group Insurance scheme which NUPW invited members to take up.

Some 5,000 members have apparently joined the scheme.

“The insurance company gives NUPW a 2% commission for getting its members to sign up for the policy. If a member signs up, he pays RM20 a month. Great Eastern pays NUPW about RM2,000 a month in commissions but it’s not reflected in the accounts,” he said.

PM's wife's rescue efforts begs some answers

'What is her role here? Why is she speaking on this platform? Why not the PM or his deputy or other cabinet members? Shouldn't they be addressing and affirming the NS success story?'

By J. D. Lovrenciear

It was said to be reported in BERNAMA that our honourable Prime Minister's wife had graced the launching of the "National Service Training Programme - a catalyst for 1Malaysia Generation" here in Putrajaya.

The event as reported was attended by the big brass from our defence ministry and some 3,000 National Service trainees.

Datin Seri Rosmah was reported to have come to the defence of the success of the NS programme. She expressed how the programme has successfully addressed the nation's human capital development and that it cannot be measured.

From what was reported, it seems that she also bluntly dismissed critics and opinion formers by stating that the NS success "had repudiated all negative accusations, allegations, criticisms and comments."

For a wife of the nation's number one leader, it would have served well if she had stated in the affirmative with a positive twist.

She could have acknowledged that the criticisms, comments and feedback have helped the programme owners rise to the challenge and keep improving to new heights of excellence.

In any case, the marketplace is asking: 'What is her role here? Why is she speaking on this platform? Why not the PM or his deputy or other cabinet members? Shouldn't they be addressing and affirming the NS success story?'

And there is also talk as to why are the top brass of the defence sitting there and patronising the PM's wife's efforts to rescue the NS from the challenges it faces?

And as if that is not enough, some are even raising some weird questions like 'Who is supplying food rations to the defence ministry? Who is supplying the uniforms to NS trainees? How did these companies get their tenders awarded? Who are the players behind these companies?

The PM's wife should seize the moment of truth and clarify so that people who have diabolic intentions can be silenced by public opinion.

Otherwise, public opinion will prevail to the contrary, only to add further hurt to the First Lady's reputation. And this in turn will rub-off on the PM's coat too.

The right to know one's history

The teaching of History at the secondary school level is shrouded in controversy due to the apparent inaccuracies, biased representations and distortion of facts.

At the primary school level, Malaysian history which is examined in the subject ‘Kajian Tempatan’ (local studies) fares no better.

Consider the subject matter and emphasis taught at the Year 5 level. A government approved textbook comprising 98 pages focuses on two main segments or themes i.e. ‘Tema mengenal negara kita’ (to know our country) and ‘Tema sejarah negara kita’ (the history of our nation). In the first segment, seven pages are devoted to Malaysia’s geographical position, 11 pages to topography, 16 pages to climatic conditions and another 13 pages to wildlife, flora and fauna. Well and good.

However, in the next segment, the history of our nation begins with introduction of the Melaka sultanate in the 15th century. Some 25 pages are devoted to this subject matter, giving it a weightage of about 53% of this segment!

The history of Sarawak is discussed  in a mere six pages  whilst the history of Sabah is explored in seven pages. The glories and virtues of the Melaka sultanate are extolled at length, to the exclusion of other states. The histories of other states are not featured prominently but are mentioned in passing as a result of the expansion of the Melaka sultanate to those states.

No attempt has been made to discuss the early history of our nation. The influence of early Hindu-Buddhist empires such as Kedaram, Majapahit and Srivijaya dating from the 2nd to the 14th century  which collectively have shaped the lineage, language and cultural norms of the nation have been omitted. 

Subsequent chapters in this segment focus on the successive conquests of our nation by the Portugese, Dutch, British and the Japanese and the efforts of our national heroes to regain independence.

Of the six heroes mentioned, five belong to one ethnic group in West Malaysia and one from East Malaysia. The sacrifices of all other ethnic groups towards independence have been ignored altogether.

Omission of key historical events and personalities only serves to distort the past of our nation. Our children deserve unbiased accounts of their history. It is their right.

http://english.cpiasia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2128:the-right-to-know-ones-history&catid=219:contributors&Itemid=171

Unlock Interlok

An award winning novel comprising impressionistic portrayals of fictitious characteristics cannot by itself meet the exacting standards of teaching material for a textbook and the absence of the application of an ethnic/race relations framework, and appropriate methodology to establish validity and reliability totally disqualifies the work as being suitable for the purpose intended.

By Dr. Collin Abraham

The unprecedented controversy arising over the selection, and continued use of the novel Interlok as a secondary school text book for almost forty years, offers the opportunity to institute institutional reforms so that this error is rectified once and for all and does not happen again.

The selection of the work as the ‘standard’ text for the study of social history and literature at the important secondary school level, can be seen as a microcosm of a situation, where decision makers have given insufficient attention to the likely staggering negative impact this might have and continues to have, on the educational system in the context of the country’s well being.

In this connection it is well known that a nation’s political and economic stability is only as viable as its educational system. “So powerful is education that even the slightest tweak has the propensity to elevate or relegate a nation on the global stage”.

Therefore it is important to recognize that what may seem a ‘slightest tweak’ in the incorrect selection of textbooks at secondary school level, can be most important and significant because it fails to lay the foundation for the intellectual and mental development of students especially in preparation for higher education. Text books comprise knowledge to fulfill the requirements of the curriculum and are intended to stimulate critical thinking and generate the capacity and capability for issue oriented analysis which is essential for problem solving.

Nowhere is this more important than for the development of human capital subsequently to produce Malaysians who can think, articulate and come up with innovative proposals which is fundamental to economic growth and development. Furthermore, failure to build strengths in these areas will weaken the capacity to build competitiveness, create dependency and eventually cripple the flow of FDI.

It is therefore submitted that the failure to give serious attention to the selection of suitable text books as teaching material, which is valid and reliable, can result in a situation, especially where school leavers proceeding for higher education, will find themselves ill prepared to apply themselves to benefit from a holistic education. The likely consequence is that on graduation a significant proportion are likely to finds themselves not only unemployed but unemployable.

With respect, it would be tedious to respond to the many comments supporting the retention of Interlok as a textbook for the simple reason that they jointly and severally missed the point that the work does not meet the standard academic and methodological requirements as teaching material for a text book. Almost all the responses have merely repeatedly mentioned that the book won a literary award and that it was aimed at fostering national integration. These arguments fail on both counts. An award winning novel comprising impressionistic portrayals of fictitious characteristics cannot by itself meet the exacting standards of teaching material for a textbook and the absence of the application of an ethnic/race relations framework, and appropriate methodology to establish validity and reliability totally disqualifies the work as being suitable for the purpose intended.

Further questions need to be directed to the decision makers at the education Ministry and the Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka as to why this book continued to be identified as a textbook for almost forty years and has now been recommended as the textbook for yet another required course as well. What this must surely mean is that the officials concerned had not reviewed the suitability of this work in relation to other theses on the same topic by Malaysians submitted to renowned universities. (I am aware of at least one such Oxford Doctorate thesis that was accepted in1977). But adapting such material for Form V secondary school students can be a formidable task, particularly where the officials concerned are not as qualified and experienced as they need to be, and it is not surprising therefore that they simply extend the prescribed book however unsuitable it might be.

The Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka seems to have abdicated its responsibility to evaluate suitable educational material for school textbooks. It is well known that the Dewan faces serious problems in translating works from English to BM and attempt to overcome this problem by repeatedly publishing the same books. Moreover there is no problem of sale of books considering that there is a captive market in publishing required reading for school texts. For instance it is estimated that 120,000 copies of Interlok have been published and are awaiting distribution for the current 2011 school year. If this figure is anything to go by, the sale of textbooks for almost 40 years makes it a best seller many times over generating hugh profits for all those involved in the production process.

Finally, it might be useful to end on a professional note. A spokesman for Ganepa had queried why this matter is being raised after nearly 40 years. The obvious answer is that the awareness of this situation only came about through access to the Internet, thereby exposing the entire question that had hitherto been held in ‘wraps’ by a select group of education officials. They more or less ‘called the shots’ and it seems they were answerable only to themselves. This practice calls for immediate reform.

It is respectfully suggested that representatives from parent-teacher associations be appointed to a specific body established to oversea all matters associated with curricula review and the selection of suitable text books for secondary schools. Such a body could also provide a further forum for more transparency for public scrutiny in the way schools are run thus enabling parents to be more in involved in, rather than opting out of the educational system, seeking changes through the ballot box, or voting with their feet.

Selangor Gerakan makes stand known on Interlok while HQ keeps mum

On 21st January 2011, Selangor Gerakan said that although there were some historical truth in the now-controversial novel ‘Interlok’ with regards to Indians in the country a certain cast-linked word in the book was not appropriate in the spirit of the current administration’s I Malaysia agenda.

"We are not against the novel but it being used as a literature book in schools is causing us worry," said S. Vijaya Kumar, the state assistant secretary.

Vijaya together with several committee members held a press conference at a coffee shop near the Gerakan headquarters in Cheras to express their disgust over the use of the word ‘paria’ in the novel by Malaysian national laureate Abdullah Hussein.

He claimed that many Indians feared that the ‘sensitive word’ would create greater polarisation among students in the future when the meaning is taken out of context and used as a tool to ridicule one race.

Selangor Ampang division chairman G, Parameswaran, who also heads the welfare committee said the government is not to be blamed for the book being used as a text book.

"The panel under the Ministry of Education in charge of vetting the books must be held responsible for not being sensitive," he said.

Before it causes more damage, he said the government would be wise to pull back the book from schools.

"Compare the advantages and disadvantages of allowing the book to be used as a text book. There is greater good if it is not used as a literature book. What does the government lose if it is taken off?" he asked.

Asked if Selangor Gerakan’s stand echoed the party’s sentiment at the national level, Vijaya said it was Selangor Gerakan’s stand alone.

"Interlok" is the textbook for the literature component of the Bahasa Malaysia subject for Form Five students starting this year.

The Malaysian Indian Congress had already made known its stand that it wants the book withdrawn from the Form Five syllabus for Malay literature on the grounds that the novel contains "offensive" words and depictions of Indian Malaysians.

The MIC claims that the book will offend the entire Indian Hindu community, who, according to them, no longer practise the caste system.

Coming from the MIC, this smacks a little too much of hypocrisy, because it is a known fact that many Indian Malaysians still have to battle with issues of caste within their communities and families.

KAUM MELAYU SINGAPURA

1. Tan Malaka yang namanya amat terkenal di zaman Sukarno mendakwa Melayu Singapura lebih disiplin (daripada Melayu Malaysia). Ini memang benar. Bahkan rakyat Singapura tanpa mengira bangsa juga amat disiplin.

2. Sebagai contoh mereka tidak akan buang sampah di jalan. Dengan itu jalan-jalan di Singapura amat bersih.

3. Tetapi apabila mereka menyeberang ke tanah besar Malaysia mereka akan buang sampah dari kereta mereka dalam perjalanan.

4. Ada pelawak yang memanggil Singapura "a fine city". Sebabnya kerana bagi tiap kesalahan kecil rakyatnya akan dikenakan denda iaitu "fine".

5. Rakyat Malaysia pun bila ke Singapura akan berjaga-jaga supaya tidak dikenakan fine.

6. Di Malaysia buang sampah selori di tepi jalan pun tidak diambil apa-apa tindakan. Sudah tentu rakyat Malaysia di Malaysia tidak disiplin dalam soal kebersihan dan lain-lain.

7. Mungkin ini kerana kita demokratik. Parti-parti politik takut rakyat tidak akan sokong mereka jika mereka bertindak terlalu keras supaya rakyat berdisiplin.

8. Parti pemerintah Singapura tidak takut kepada rakyat. Jika rakyat pilih bukan calon PAP, dia akan diheret ke mahkamah, didenda dan dijadikan bankrap. Selepas itu dia tidak dapat ke Parlimen untuk membantah perlakuan pemerintah.

9. Jika dia dibenar mengambil tempat di Parlimen, dia tidak akan berani berkata apa-apa.

10. Mungkin Tan Malaka lebih senang jika amalan di Singapura didapati di Malaysia.

11. Jika "demokrasi" ala Singapura diamal disini saya yakin bukan sahaja Melayu Malaysia akan disiplin tetapi semua kaum akan disiplin.

12. Sesungguhnya keadaan di Singapura amat mengagumkan sesetengah daripada kita di Malaysia. Apa tidak. Masalah Kampung Baru dapat diselesaikan dengan mudah. Pindahkan sahaja penduduk Kampung Baru, dan bangunkan rumah pangsa yang akan diduduki oleh sesiapa sahaja. Seperti hilangnya Geylang dan Pasir Panjang akan hilanglah Kampung Baru.

13. Menteri-Menteri pun lega kerana jika dicalonkan semula oleh parti, kemenangan terjamin walaupun menidakkan hak bersuara rakyat. 

Malaysia Ignites an Internet Firestorm


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It was all a joke, Hussein says.
(Asia Sentinel) An apparent trial balloon about censoring the country's bloggers and news sites goes flat

Malaysia's government Wednesday appeared to be backing rapidly away – for now at least – from a statement by Home Ministry Secretary General Mahmood Adam that that the country's Printing Presses and Publications Act, which requires all publications to be licensed by the government, will be amended to include online publications.

Mahmood's statement, which appeared in the government news service Bernama, was met with an uproar from the country's opposition politicians and online press. Lim Kit Siang, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party told local media that instead of widening the net of the already controversial act, which requires all news publications to be licensed by the government, the government needed to loosen restrictions. Even some members of the United Malays National Organization, the leading ethnic political party, condemned the move. Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin called it "ridiculous. We should be moving towards greater freedom," he said.

The National Union of Journalists condemned the proposal as well.

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, two senior government ministers told reporters the government at this time is far from ready to amend the act, saying nobody has decided what, if any, changes will be made.

"Nothing has been finalized," Home Affairs Minister Hishamuddin Hussein told reporters after the first meeting of the Committee on Strengthening Government Communications at Parliament House. "With the committee in place, whatever views will first be brought before the committee." The proposed amendments, he said, weren't discussed at the meeting.

Mohamad Nazri Aziz, a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, also held a press conference to tell reporters that the government has no plans to implement introduce any new controls on online media content, saying existing sedition and libel laws already govern the Internet, as does the Printing Presses and Publications Act. The government, he said, was merely only preparing special guidelines to help the public better understand the press laws on the books.

The government, he said, has a policy not to censor the Internet unless it involves national security. Nazri, however, also said the Printing Presses and Publications Act already applies to the Internet. It is unclear whether the government might use the act to force online publications to obtain government licenses.

All of Malaysia's mainstream media are owned by the country's political parties. While the opposition parties have their own publications, they cannot be circulated generally. The Internet has thus fostered an explosion of online publications and blogs critical of the government, led by Malaysia Today, edited by Raja Petra Kamarudin, who fled the country last year in advance of sedition and criminal libel charges. He now edits the publication from London.

Two other Internet sites, Malaysiakini and Malaysian Insider, have gained wide readership and considerable respect as independent and reliable news organizations. The blogs and online news portals are considered to have played an important role in a major pickup for opposition political parties in 2008 national elections.

"Many had expected Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to be more stringent in enforcing controls a la Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the media," wrote Steven Gan, Malaysiakini's editor-in-chief. "Few expected that he would be worse than Mahathir."

Mahathir, when he ordered the creation in 1996 of the so-called Multimedia Super Corridor in an effort to emulate California's Silicon Valley, created a 10-point "Bill of Guarantees" ensuring that the Internet would stay uncensored, and in fact after his retirement created his own blog, Che Det, which has become immensely popular and which he has regularly used to beat the government around the ears when he feels it is going in the wrong direction. He is considered to have played a major role in driving his anointed successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, from the premiership following the disastrous 2008 elections.

Gan, in a telephone interview Wednesday night, said it isn't certain whether the government has given in so easily. Although the Hishamuddin and Nazri said the printing act governs the internet, the word "internet" is never uttered in the document, which states that "No person shall keep for use or use a printing press unless he has been granted a licence…For the purpose of this section "printing press" means the machine, equipment or article for printing, copying or reproducing any document… The Minister may in his absolute discretion grant to any person a licence to keep for use or use a printing press for such period as may be specified in the licence and he may in his absolute discretion refuse any application for such licence or may at any time revoke or suspend such licence for any period he considers desirable."

Gan said he is fearful that the government may follow Singapore's Internet restrictions, proposed two weeks ago, which would force a political website, the Online Citizen, to declare itself a political organization, which would bar its team of volunteers from writing, reporting, analyzing or commenting on elections, which are expected to be called in March.

(The government) wants to table this bill in March," Gan said. "That means they are pretty well along already."

The announcement by the Home Ministry follows a statement on Jan. 13 by Hishamuddin that the federal government would write guidelines to define "online sedition," a move which critics described as 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.

National Union of Journalists President Hata Wahari, who was suspended from his job last week as a senior reporter for the Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia for making public statements that the newspaper was biased in favour of the ruling national coalition, described the alleged attempts to muzzle the Internet as "a step backward" that would turn Malaysia into an "outdated" country in terms of free flow of information.

"The NUJ has (long demanded) that the Home Ministry should amend the Act to provide print publications the space to operate with more freedom, and to eliminate the need to renew the printing and publishing permits every year," he said in a statement.

Guidelines For Three Laws Including Sedition Act To Be Drawn Up

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 (Bernama) -- The government will draw up guidelines for three Acts related to information dissemination and Internet use to make it easier for the public to understand these laws.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said the guidelines were for the Sedition Act 1948, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Act 1998 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.

He said the proposal was agreed upon at the Strengthening Government Communication Strategy Committee meeting Wednesday and would be submitted to the Cabinet for approval.

"We have to be fast, hopefully (everything can be settled) before the end of February," he told a news conference after chairing the meeting at Parliament building, here Wednesday.

Also at the meeting were Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

Nazri said the committee, with the cooperation of the Attorney-General's Chambers, would hold roadshows and public meetings in each state to explain the three laws, including on the gathering of evidence and cases that could face action.

He said the public including journalists and bloggers would be invited to the meetings. "It's important for them to know what they can and cannot do. They should be careful or they could be violating the law and have to face action."

Nazri denied that the move was to stifle freedom of expression in the country, but that the government was stern on issues that could threaten national security.

He said the guidelines were also relevant in view of the increasing popularity of the cyberworld.

"People have been talking about freedom of expression, freedom of the press. They think freedom of expression is everything, including the freedom to lie, to slander, to do anything, even to the extent of jeopardising the country's security.

"Security of the nation is paramount. No compromise on that," he said.

Nazri said so far, 217 cases had been reported to the MCMC on misuse of Internet content, 13 of which had been taken to court, six required further investigation, 23 imposed with fines for violating the conditions of the licence and 175 categorised under "no further action" (NFA).

According to the police commercial crime records, investigation papers were opened for 38 cases with 29 still under investigation, five charged in court and four categorised as NFA.

Nazri also disclosed that a meeting would be held on Feb 14 to decide whether plea bargaining would be implemented, while the guideline on this was being prepared by the A-G's Chambers with the cooperation of the courts and Malaysian Bar Council.

Plea bargaining is the negotiation between the defence and prosecution for the accused to choose to plead guilty for a reduced sentence or amended charge and not have to go through a court trial. It is aimed at reducing court case backlogs.