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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hindraf to rally nationwide against racism

KOTA KINABALU: Hindraf Makkal Sakthi is planning a series of demonstrations against racism after its Feb 27 rally at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) against Interlok, the controversial novel that Form Five students use as a literature text.

Hindraf not only wants Interlok out of the schools, but also seeks to put related issues under public scrutiny, according to its chairman, P Waythamoorthy, who spoke to FMT last night from London, where he has political asylum.

The demonstrations would be held all over the country, he said.

“The series of rallies will be to educate the people against racism and racial polarisation, besides saying no to Interlok even in an amended form,” he added.

“We must not glorify anti-1Malaysia writers with the Interlok mindset.”

Waytha was elaborating on a statement released yesterday by Hindraf national coordinator W Sambulingam, who announced the Feb 27 rally.

Sambulingam lamented that Interlok, written by national laureate Abdullah Hussain, remained compulsory reading for Form 5 students despite attempts by the Indian community to have it dropped.

Several groups take offence at the novel’s alleged stereotyped and misleading portrayal of Malaysian Indians. The government recently said it would order amendments to the student edition.

Waythamoorthy said he doubted that the author would agree to his work being amended. “Any novelist worth his salt will demand that his novel be used in its entirety or not used at all,” he said.

He cautioned against caving in to closet racists. “Today, the focus is on a novel for Form 5. If we don’t put a stop to it, they will introduce similar trash in Form 3 and at the Year 6 level,” he said.

Strong attack

Waythamoorthy also disclosed that the Feb 27 rally had forced the Jan 23 Kuala Lumpur Gathering of the Marginalised and Minorities to delay the submission of their resolutions to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. The new date will be between the Feb 27 rally and the second rally, which is yet to be scheduled.

Sambulingam’s statement contained a strong attack against Umno. He accused it of racism, political hegemony and promoting an “artificial” Malay supremacy agenda.

“At a time when the world is moving away from racism in all forms, Umno and its allies are further encouraging racism,” he said. “Other countries are meanwhile engaged in nation-building.”

The statement dismissed Indians linked with Umno as “mandores” who helped to promote caste epithets, ethnic slurs, racial prejudices and communal stereotyping in the minds of the young.

“Interlok is nothing but an engineered plan by Umno to further plant the seeds of racism and segregation in schools and in the minds of the youths,” he said. “This is similar to the programme run by the Biro Tata Negara.”

The statement claimed that tolerance and co-existence had been abused and misused in Malaysia and patience taken for granted.

“It’s time to take the bull by the horns on racism in order to build national affinity and a shared destiny,” it said.

Mubarak says he won't run again; protesters say it's not enough

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Bowing to eight days of protests, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Tuesday he will not seek office again in elections scheduled for September, but vowed to stay in the country and finish his term.

The concession, the largest the embattled president has made so far, was remarkable for a man who has held a tight grip on power for three decades. But it was unclear whether the offer would do anything to calm opposition groups and protesters who have called for Murarak's immediate resignation.

"My first responsibility now is to restore the stability and security of the homeland, to achieve a peaceful transition of power in an environment that will protect Egypt and Egyptians and which will allow for the responsibility to be given to whoever the people elect in the forthcoming elections," Mubarak said in a televised address Tuesday night.

The announcement rang flat in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands of protesters erupted in chants of "Down with Mubarak!" and "The people want the president to be judged!" following his announcement. Some waved shoes in the air -- a deep insult in the Arab world -- and said they would continue their demonstrations until Mubarak quits outright.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has become a leading opposition figure, said Mubarak's decision was "an act of deception" that would only "extend the agony."

"Whoever gave him that advice gave him absolutely the wrong advice," ElBaradei said.

However, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, said demonstrators should weigh what Mubarak has said before responding.

"I'm aware that there are certain currents in Egypt that will not see that as satisfactory and they need more," Moussa, a possible presidential contender himself, told CNN. But, he added, "I believe that there is something new that has been offered."

Mubarak has led Egypt for nearly 30 years since the 1981 assassination of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, aided by an emergency decree that has allowed him to rule with an iron fist. But following demonstrations that have only grown in the past week, the 82-year-old former air force general told his people Tuesday night, "I have spent enough time serving Egypt.

"I will pursue the transfer of power in a way that will fulfill the people's demands, and that this new government will fulfill the people's demands and their hopes for political, economic and social progress," he said.

Tuesday's turnout in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities came despite efforts by the government to suspend rail service and cut off mobile phone and internet networks, and in spite of the mounting hardships facing Egyptians.

Banks and schools have been shuttered during the demonstrations, teller machine screens are dark and gas stations have run out of fuel. Long lines snaked around bakeries and supermarkets as shops began to ration how much food customers could buy.

In Alexandria, protesters clashed with supporters of Mubarak, leaving 12 people injured, said Qutb Hassanein, a member of an opposition group. The military was called in to restore calm.

Mohammed Mahmoud, a protester, said he was hit in the head by a stick during the clash.

"We don't want him (Mubarak). We are staying here until we die," he said.

Mubarak's announcement capped a day in which anti-government demonstrators stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square for a "march of millions." It comes less than three weeks after a wave of protests that forced Tunisia's longtime strongman to flee to Saudi Arabia in mid-January.

Protesters last week taunted, "Mubarak, Saudi Arabia is waiting for you." But despite calls for him to leave the country, the aging leader vowed Tuesday that "This dear country is my country ... and I will die on its land."

Opposition leader Ayman Nour called the speech "very depressing." Nour said Mubarak was already expected to step down at the end of his term -- but he is believed to be maneuvering to have his son, Gamal, succeed him.

"He did not at any point in his speech reject the possibility that his son could run for president," said Nour, who spent three years in prison after challenging Mubarak in Egypt's first multiparty presidential election in 2005. He said the protesters in Tahrir Square "are angrier than ever" after the address.

Mohammed Habib, deputy chairman of the officially banned Muslim Brotherhood, said Mubarak's speech was built around emotional appeals to his decades of military service and the presidency.

"After 30 years during which corruption and diminishing the strategic role of Egypt in the region became the norm, I do not feel it is time to appeal for people's emotion," Habib said. "We should say 'thank you' to him, 'and get out.' "

In Washington, President Barack Obama said he spoke with Mubarak soon after he announced he would not seek re-election. Obama called for an orderly transition in Egypt that, he said, should be meaningful, peaceful and must begin now. The U.S. president stressed the Egyptian people will be the ones to determine their own leaders and destiny.

In Cairo, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Margaret Scobey, met Tuesday with ElBaradei and will be speaking with leaders of other political movements, a senior State Department official said. The official cautioned that Scobey's talks with ElBaradei doesn't mean the United States favors him.

As in Tunisia, the protests have been fueled by economic woes, including a dramatic rise in the cost of living coupled with high unemployment. Despite the government's food subsidies, people are struggling, with an estimated 40% of the country living in poverty.

The majority of Egypt's population -- and the vast majority of its unemployed -- is under 30, and many protesters are young men looking for economic opportunities and a better life.

As the demonstrations grew, Mubarak fired his cabinet and ordered newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman to hold talks on political reform with opposition leaders. And on Monday, the military -- the foundation of the modern Egyptian state -- announced it would not open fire on peaceful protesters.

"I think it's all over with once the army makes that announcement," said Juan Cole, a Middle East historian at the University of Michigan. Cole said he had expected the regime to endure the crisis with the support of the military, but that the military appears to have "cut Mubarak loose."

Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor and Brookings Institution analyst, said the military may have anchored the government but, "At some point, they are going to have to make a decision about protecting the institution beyond the man."

And Fouad Ajami, a Johns Hopkins University professor and Hoover Institution analyst, said Mubarak's invocation of his years of service was "almost pathetic."

"I believe the crowd was discovering its power as Mubarak was discovering his own weakness and the vulnerability of his own regime," Ajami said. Now, "No one believes his promises, and now no one really believes his threats."

The demonstrations had turned ugly last Friday, when thousands of riot and plainclothes police used brutal force to crack down on people on the streets.

Unconfirmed reports suggest up to 300 people may have been killed during the protests, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Tuesday. Human Rights Watch has reported 80 deaths from two hospitals in Cairo, 36 in Alexandria and 13 in Suez.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm the death toll. But since the weekend, the army has replaced police as the enforcers of security, and the gatherings have been largely peaceful.

In recent days, protests inspired by the Tunisian outcome have spread to Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and Sudan. Calls for political reform prompted Jordan's King Abdullah II Tuesday to dismiss his government and appoint a new prime minister, and a Facebook page urged similar demonstrations in Syria.

John Entelis, director of Middle East studies at New York's Fordham University, said the Arab world is facing a "wave" of unrest sparked by the Tunisian revolt.

"If it were not for Tunisia, none of this would be happening at this time or in this way," Entelis said.

CNN's John King, Ben Wedeman, Frederik Pleitgen, Ivan Watson, Housam Ahmed, Caroline Faraj, Salma Abdelaziz, Saad Abedine, Christine Theodorou, Zain Verjee, Arwa Damon and journalist Ian Lee contributed to this report

School reports student with ‘inquiring mind’ to police

A 17-year-old teenager's future is in jeopardy because he questioned the principles of the Rukunegara.

SUBANG JAYA: Teachers in a school in Brickfields have allegedly lodged a police report against a 17-year-old student who questioned the ‘celebration of independence’ and the tenets in the Rukunegara.

Nicol Paul Miranda, an ordinary Form Five student, who has since been suspended from SMK Vivekananda, said the school is also threatening not to release his school leaving certificate which is a requirement to further his tertiary education.

Relating the reasons for his suspension, Nicol said: “I questioned why are we celebrating independence when our democracy has not evolved. It is still under the BN regime.”

He said his second brush with the authorities took place via his Civics answer sheet for the SPM trials.

The question was on the pros of Rukunegara.

“I questioned why we needed to recite the Rukunegara’s first principle, Believe in God when places of worship are being demolished.

“I also questioned the second principle, Loyalty to the King and Country because it is not right to force an individual to be loyal,” he told newsmen at PKR’s ‘Tweet-Up’ function yesterday,.

As a result, his trial exam results were not released. He was further suspended for three days.

Nicol also claimed that the discipline teachers at his school almost harmed his mother when she went there to query his suspension.

“They (school) have also lodged a police report against me in Bukit Aman and Brickfields,” added Nicol who is currently working with a Malaysian NGO on human rights issues.

Lembah Pantai MP, Nurul Izzah Anwar who was also present at the function assured Nicol that she would raise the matter with the relevant authorities.

Jeffrey to revive dormant political party


KOTA KINABALU: Party-less Union Borneo Front (UBF) leader, Jeffrey Kitingan, is set to take over and lead the long-dormant United Democratic Sabah People’s Power Party or better known as Setia.

Reliable sources said that Jeffrey had been in discussion with Setia president, Henry Sabagong Rumpit, for weeks ever since he left PKR on Jan 1, 2011.

“Jeffrey last week announced in Entilibon, Telupid, that he would have a new party by March. That party must be Setia. His people are in contact with Setia president and its secretary-general Ardino Diris,” a source who requested anonymity told FMT.

Another source who claimed familiarity with both groups said that Jeffrey and Sabagong had a series of meetings but that only the inner circles of both men were involved in managing a transition of leadership of the party.

Setia is now expected to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to pave the way for Jeffrey to take over possibly in early March, as he himself said in Telupid last weekend.

It was also learnt that the Setia constitution provides for a seven-day notice for an EGM to be called by the president.

“Jeffrey is confident and that is why he publicly told the 250 people at the UBF function in Entilibon last week that he would have a party by next month,” an insider said.

The maverick politician announced he would form a new political party in Entilibon over the weekend.

‘Mosquito party’

In each of UBF’s dozen roadshows, Jeffrey’s supporters have been asking the former PKR vice- president to form and lead a political party.

It was also learnt that some of Jeffrey’s men have already started laying the groundwork for the new party by approaching leaders and potential leaders from various districts ahead of their takeover of Setia.

They anticipate strong support for Setia which has long been considered a “mosquito party” and merely there to make up the numbers.

Setia or Parti Demokratik Setiasehati Kuasa Rakyat Bersatu Sabah was established in 1994 by Shuhaidin Langkap, a Muslim convert from the interior of the state.

The party was never fully active but somehow managed to put up a few candidates in previous general elections.

A little more than a year ago, Setia was sued by Shuhaidin who challenged Sabagong’s presidency. However, the High Court here declared Sabagong was the rightful president.

If all goes as Jeffrey and Sabagong have planned, Setia is poised to partner the Sarawak National Party or SNAP and form a national third force called Borneo Alliance to be jointly led by Jeffrey and Daniel Tajem, a respected Dayak elder who was once a Sarawak deputy chief minister and also a former Malaysian High Commissioner to New Zealand.

Both Jeffrey and Sabagong have been tight-lipped on the plan. Sabagong, however, was seen with Jeffrey at an UBF function at Kampung Sayap in Kota Belud late last year soon after UBF was unveiled in Penampang on Dec 16, 2010.

He has not been seen since at UBF functions, but according to insiders, barring last-minute glitch over the takeover, Sabagong will play a senior role in the revitalised Setia.

Dr M’s Tanah Melayu remarks ‘old-fashioned’, say analysts

Dr Mahathir had been forced to repress his “true colours” when he was PM, said one analyst. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call for non-Malays to accept and integrate into the dominant Malay culture has been called outdated by political analysts, who added it would not have much impact among Malaysians. Monash University’s Dr James Chin said such thinking was “old-fashioned” as more developed nations like Australia, Britain and the US have adopted a more inclusive definition of multiculturalism — one which allowed their citizens to profess more than one identity.
He added that while first-generation non-Malays might have had links with their country of origin, non-Malays born in Malaysia no longer have such ties.
“Whatever ties they have is skin deep,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Chin also said Dr Mahathir’s latest “ultra-Malay” message was nothing new and pointed out that the remarks were consistent with the former prime minister’s hardline rhetoric before he took office.
He predicted that Dr Mahathir’s right-wing comments would not have an impact on the Chinese vote — which the political analyst said was unlikely to return to Barisan Nasional (BN) — but might push away some Indian voters who returned to the ruling coalition’s fold after Election 2008.

Chin believed Dr Mahathir’s latest remarks may alienate Indian voters.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Institute of Ethnic Studies director Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin chastised Dr Mahathir for equating unity with homogeneity and ignoring the “reality” of Malaysia’s multicultural society. “He thinks that unity is uniformity. If everyone becomes one then the problem is solved,” he said.
“[But] we don’t survive on ‘unity is uniformity’; we survive on ‘unity is diversity’. There is a problem of contradiction between the reality in Malaysia and the hope that he has.”
Shamsul Amri said that although Dr Mahathir could reach out to many with his rhetoric, he would not succeed in shaping national policy because Malaysians, particularly older ones, were unlikely be swayed by his “recycled” ideas.
“Generally, people will make comments and in 48 hours it will disappear,” he said.
Dr Ong Kian Ming of UCSI University said there was no need to harp on the idea of non-Malay integration as their links to their “so-called country of origin” were already “tenuous” and would continue to weaken over time.
Ong said, however, that Dr Mahathir was right in saying that it would be hard for Malays to accept Chinese and Indians as long as these non-Malay communities did not feel comfortable in a Malay-majority environment.
The political scientist added that the timing of Dr Mahathir’s message suggested it might have something to do with the apparent increase in Chinese support for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Tenang and the greater political assertiveness of non-Malays after Election 2008.
“His understanding is that as Chinese assert their rights, Malays lose theirs... Mahathir might equate the Chinese who are voting for the opposition with the fact that they’re ‘unreconstructed’,” he said.
Universiti Sarawak Malaysia political studies head Dr Mohd Faizal Syam Abdul Hazis said Dr Mahathir was showing his “true colours” now after being forced to tone down racist rhetoric during his 22 years as prime minister.
“He needed to mellow down when he was the prime minister... but since now he’s not there anymore, he’s being him,” Faizal Syam said.
“It sounds like Mahathir is saying Chinese and Indians have to become Malay to be Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian Nation).”

Non-Malays must accept that the country belonged to the Malays, said the ex-premier.
Faizal Syam said it was “very sad” that leaders were still talking about the question of integration and loyalty decades after the formation of Malaysia, rather than bread-and-butter issues that affect the people directly like crime and inflation. He added that Dr Mahathir was “ignorant” for including East Malaysia in his definition of Tanah Melayu, and claimed that the former prime minister had demonstrated precisely the kind of “peninsular Malay hegemony” that Sabah and Sarawak were critical of.  Dr Mahathir told Malaysians yesterday to admit that the country belonged to the Malays and accept the culture and language of the dominant community.
He said that country’s forefathers had given the Chinese and Indians citizenship because they expected the communities to respect Malay sovereignty.
“This country belongs to the Malay race... We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu,” he told an audience at the “Malay Race and the Future” talk at the Tun Hussein Onn Memorial here.
Dr Mahathir had also stressed that non-Malays must accept the concept of Bangsa Malaysia to help strengthen national unity.
He added that the minority communities must place country before race and identify themselves as Malaysians because to do otherwise would be an admission that non-Malays are immigrants in the country.
“(Former Philippine President Corazon) Cory Aquino is Chinese but she identified herself as a Filipino. (Former Thai Prime Minister) Thaksin Shinawatra is Chinese but he speaks the Thai language and lives the Thai culture,” he said.
“It is different in Malaysia, we still introduce ourselves according to our race. This is why the question of race will continue to haunt us.”

Winds of change beckon in Egypt

It started in Tunisia and has now spread to Egypt. People are revolting against longstanding leaders who have ruled with iron fists and lived in opulence while the masses suffer with soaring unemployment and a rising cost of living.

Marina Mahathir, The Star

WHOEVER said the Year of the Rabbit would be a gentle one?

In Tunisia, a small act of desperation literally sparked off historic changes.

A young man called Mohamad Bouazizi, educated but only able to earn a living selling fruit and vegetables at an illegal stall, set himself on fire after the authorities confiscated it.

Mohamad symbolised all the young and disenfranchised in Tunisia, frustrated by the huge gap between them and the extremely wealthy elite, and thus sparked large protests.

In less than a month, the much-hated President and his family were out and Tunisia is now in the throes of transition to a new government, the shape of which nobody quite knows yet.

Whatever it becomes, Tunisia’s people revolt had inspired others.

Smaller protests started to spring up in Algeria, Jordan and Yemen.

And then Egypt, with the largest population in the Middle East – 80 million, suddenly caught fire.

We have to realise that people don’t revolt just to be trendy. The Middle East has been ripe for this for a long time.

Long-standing leaders rule them with iron hands, rigging votes as well as disallowing their people of much freedom.

Some use religion as the basis for such repression.

But such leaders can slowly go blind and deaf.

Many of them fail to notice that their population, which comprise the younger generation mostly, are the ones who are facing a desperate unemployment situation.

According to the International Labour Organisation, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has the worst unemployment problem in the world.

In Egypt, 58% of the population is under 25 years old.

In 2003 it had the highest unemployment rate in the world, at 25.6%, and there is an additional 500,000 unemployed each year.

Across the Arab world, the unemployment rate stands at 20%.

This translates to 22 million people, out of which 60% are youth.

Much of this unemployment is attributed to the failure of most Arab countries to link education to the needs of the job market.

As we can see from the events in Egypt right now, nothing could be more dangerous for leaders than to educate young people for jobs that do not exist.

Couple that with a failing economy which depletes people’s already low standards of living and a refusal to address those issues, then you provide kindling dry enough to be set alight with any match.

And it doesn’t even have to be an internal one.

This should be a lesson for leaders everywhere.

More than anything, people’s dignity and self-respect is important.

In this light, a job and the ability to provide for one’s family is part of that personal dignity.

When people are unemployed, it is not because they are lazy and choosy.

It is because there are no jobs or none that matches their educational attainments.

How humiliating it is to be forced, like Mohamad Bouazizi, to take a job selling vegetables in a market when you are an educated person.

But only leaders who are willing to listen to people will understand the need for such dignity.

If at the same time, a leader is seen as not only unwilling to listen but also greedy and corrupt, living in unashamed opulence as Tunisia’s former President and his wife did while his people had so little, then there will come a time when the patience of the people will run out.

Malaysians may shake their heads at the riots in Egypt.

But it has to be understood that the desperation and frustration of Egyptians far exceeds anything we have ever known.

And after brutal repression all these years, to go out on the streets to demand a return of their dignity is an act of courage which we rarely have to show.

Egyptians and their Arab counterparts are not scared of dying to gain freedom.

That is what’s frightening every single leader across the region now.

Especially since even the police and army, crucial to maintaining power, are also rebelling.

I am appalled at the silence on our side at this historic moment, apart from ensuring our students are safe.

Indeed, most world leaders have been caught off-guard and dumbfounded by this.

Some big powers are even trying to hedge their bets, not quite supporting their old friends while trying to encourage the people’s revolt.

After all, they had been supporting undemocratic regimes and now democracy has a chance to bloom without their help at all.

And the countries they have invaded for the sake of “democracy” are not doing that well either.

We should watch closely this historic moment in the MENA and learn the many lessons from there.

And let us never think that such a revolution can’t happen here.

As MENA leaders are finding, never be foolish enough to say never.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Dr M: Umno a party of contracts

Dr Mahathir took a swipe at Umno. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad criticised his own party today, saying Umno no longer stood for the struggle of the Malays. The former Umno president said the party struggle now was only about contracts, APs and licences.
He stressed that the party must return to its roots and help unite a divided Malay community.
“We can unite the Malays if we are willing to work hard and explain that Umno’s struggle is for religion, race and country,” he told the audience during a talk on “Malay race and the future” at the Tun Hussein Onn Memorial here.
The former prime minister also urged the Malays to question their leaders and voice out if leaders in Umno were found to be corrupt.
He said the Umno will not change if the members do not do their part in ensuring the party was clean of corruption, saying graft will destroy the community and hinder the country from progressing.
He added that the concept of Malay supremacy was meaningless if the community continues to be easily bought.
“Hang Tuah said that Malays will never vanish from the face of the earth but what type of Malays that will never disappear? Drivers? Drain cleaners? Coolies? They are also Malays.
“If this is the type of Malays we want then it is okay. We will just tell Hang Tuah sorry,” Dr Mahathir said.
He also blamed PKR de factor leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat for the current state of the community.
He said both leaders were willing to use religion and politics for personal interest instead of the interest of the Malays.
“If he (Anwar) wants to go to Putrajaya then we can give him a car so he can go. Nik Aziz is an opportunist as he willing to do anything for power,” Dr Mahathir added.
He stressed that the Malays can only progress and determine their own future if they remain united.
He had attacked Nik Aziz’s brand of Islam as worse than that of Umno nationalists, and accused the PAS spiritual leader of “dividing” the Malays and Muslims in the country.

Mahathir: Non-Malays must admit that M'sia belongs to the Malays

The gloves have come off. Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is the man Umno is now pinning its hopes on to win the next general election, while current premier Najib Razak is lurking close behind with his 1Malaysia slogan to moderate the temperature in case Mahathir's rhetoric gets overheated and racial tensions get out of hand before their party is ready to benefit from an all-out ethnic dogfight.
Buoyed by the Malay support shown to Umno at the Tenang by-election, Mahathir is striking while the iron is hot.
“This country belongs to the Malay race. Peninsular Malaysia was known as Tanah Melayu but this cannot be said because it will be considered racist.  We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu,” Malaysian Insider reported the 85-year old as telling a seminar entitled “Malay race and the future” on Tuesday.
Good cop, bad cop
On the surface, it appeared that his words completely contradicted Najib's 1Malaysia slogan, which attempts to portray a sense of multi-racial unity. But pundits warned that was just a ploy by the Umno elite.
"It is not so simple. Najib and Mahathir are more friends than enemies. It is the classic bad cop, good cop role-play. Mahathir does not mind playing race-champion for the Malays. It was what brought him up in politics. Najib has much less guts, so he settles for the wishy-washy 1Malaysia, and this is why until today no one know what 1Malaysia means. Ultimately, as long as Umno stays in power both men and their families gain and that's why they don't mind blurring lines when it suits their purpose," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
Indeed, 1Malaysia has been falling apart precisely because the non-Malays it attempted to attract have wised up to Najib's double-game.
His speeches at last year's Umno general assembly were every bit as fiery and racist as Mahathir's was today. Nonetheless, his minders and the BN media have been promoting the slogan as a panacea for all non-Malay grievances.
But at the recent by-election in Tenang, Chinese voters turned their backs on it and voted for the Islamist PAS instead.
Pundits say this may be the reason why Mahathir and Umno have thrown caution to the winds. At Tenang, there was a two percentage point swing in the number of Malay votes for Umno.
"They know they can't get back the Chinese vote at all. The erosion began with Perak crisis and it has become worse. Maybe Najib also didn't realize this, but bigger the size of his Economic Transformation Program the more the Chinese lost faith in him. The small and medium businessmen know how to count very well. They know RM1.4 trillion is really pie in the sky and they been privately ridiculing Najib for daring to announce such grandiose but hollow plans," said Tian.
Malay supremacy
Meanwhile, Mahathir told the non-Malays to admit that the country belonged to the Malays, implying that they had to accept a lower status.
According to him, Malaysia's forefathers gave the Chinese and Indians citizenship because they expected the communities to respect Malay sovereignty
“(Former Philippine President Corazon) Cory Aquino is Chinese but she identified herself as a Filipino. (Former Thai Prime Minister) Thaksin Shinawatra is Chinese but he speaks the Thai language and lives the Thai culture. It is different in Malaysia, we still introduce ourselves according to our race. This is why the question of race will continue to haunt us,” Mahathir said.
He continued to make himself popular with the Malay audience by insisting that race affirmative programmes such as the New Economic Policy were still necessary as the community was still weak financially.
“We must not reject every government effort to help us. We must push away the crutches and realise that we are still limping. Which is better? To be dependent on policies which will save us or depend on others hoping that they will save us? Sooner or later, we will be under their rule,” said Mahathir.
He did not mention who "their rule" referred to but it was obviously the non-Malays in the country. In the past, he has even warned Malaysia could become like a colony of Singapore's if the Malays here were not careful.

Loyalty to King and country – or to BN?

By P Ramakrishnan

All citizens owe their loyalty to king and country – that includes civil servants. Civil servants are expected to serve the government of the day faithfully, irrespective of whichever party that forms the government.

They shouldn’t align themselves to any political party whether it is the ruling parties or the opposition parties. They should remain above politics and stay faithful to their vocation.

Their dedication should be to their profession and their commitment to serve and discharge their duties should not be wanting in any way.

This is how they preserve their integrity and safeguard their professionalism.

However this simple thing was not understood by the Johor State Director of Education, Markom Giran. He despicably attempted to force teachers to play a partisan political role. He was trying to corrupt the civil service.

He forgets that he is a civil servant himself. He forgets his code to serve in an exemplary manner. He forgets that he should remain above politics. He forgets that his duty is to education and his responsibility is to raise the standard of education.

Being an officer under category TG54, he is strictly barred from participating in politics. As such, he has no business to canvass for the Barisan Nasional and to abuse his position by directing his subordinates to campaign for the BN. There are no two ways about it. He was absolutely wrong in what he did.

This so-called educator forgot his role and wanted the teachers to surreptitiously find out the political leanings of the parents. He wanted them to do this under the pretext of organising motivational programmes for the students and to spy for the Barisan Nasional. He wanted them to identify those parents who are opposition inclined and report to him those who are sitting on the fence so that together they – the teachers and he – could work on these parents “to help the government to win in this round”.

Is this the job of teachers? Are they expected to be the stooges of the BN first and foremost – and only after that perform as teachers?

Asking the teachers to do his bidding like this – when it has nothing to do with their duties or performance as teachers – using his authority solely as their superior officer is committing corruption. It is crystal clear!

If Anwar Ibrahim had done this, he would have been charged with corruption – without any doubt, as he was a dozen years ago!

P Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran

Dealing with debts

The Star
ARTICLES OF LAW By BHAG SINGH

A debt must not be neglected else it may evolve into a bigger problem.

WE are no doubt in the midst of a festive season. The event provides an occasion for merriment and enjoyment. However, amidst the celebrations there are people who are confronted with problems that vary from money to health issues.

Health matters are best addressed by medical experts with the end result in the hands of the Almighty. But when it comes to matters of finance, this is a subject that will be discussed in today’s column.

And so it is that a reader faces the festive season that is far from joyous for him. He is unable to pay for his house instalments and the bank is threatening to auction off the property. The debt is in respect of a RM300,000 house for which at least RM3,000 needs to be paid every month. So what should he do?

Based on what our reader says, he has bought the house which he now lives in. But he cannot cope with the instalments. Thus far he has been able to keep up payments but will not be able to do so in the future.

Any default in payment of a loan that has been taken invariably results in costs escalating for the borrower. This is because upon default taking place, interest charges may increase and other administrative charges imposed. The consequences of default, though not always immediately felt, can be serious and costly.

Avoid auction

Following a default in payment, some costs cannot be avoided, but every effort must be made to ensure that the matter does not proceed to auction or even steps in that direction.

Many people in such a situation are inclined to do nothing and leave it to the bank to auction off the property. They perceive this to be a solution to their problem. They think that in this way, they may lose their house but their problem will also end.

However, the reality of the situation is that allowing the bank to auction off the house may not always be the real solution to the problem. Instead, it may be the start of another.

It frequently happens that when the bank auctions off the house, the amount realised may not be enough to pay the entire debt and may leave a certain amount still owing. The bank will usually take further action to recover the balance outstanding through a separate action against the borrower.

Thus allowing the bank to auction off the property does not always mean that it would be the end of the matter. But why, it may be asked, could such a situation arise when the loan taken is sometimes much less than the original purchase price of the property?

Shortfall

The reasons for this could be different. It may be that there has been a drop in property prices across the board and the value of the property is now not only below the purchase price of the property but even below the amount of the loan that was given that is now outstanding.

Or it could be that because of different types of default by the borrower, interest charges, penalties and legal charges as well as other expenses have accumulated and added on to the amount that was originally owed.

In other cases, it can happen that after the default occurred, efforts by the bank to dispose of the property have not been successful even though a number of auctions have been held. When this happens, not only are more legal expenses incurred, there are also the auctioneer’s charges and advertisement costs to be paid.

All this will add up to the total amount owing and could easily exceed the value of the property which is the subject of the auction that is eventually successful. When the property is sold, it leaves the borrower still owing the bank even though the property has also been lost.

Thus it would be in the interest of the borrower to be proactive by taking certain preventive steps even though at the end of the day, he may still not retain the house. However, he could take steps to minimise his loss.

This he can do by accepting the fact that he has to give up the house. Then he can embark on a course of action to sell the house himself. This involves advertising in the newspapers or seeking the help of a real estate agent.

He can also inform the bank that he wants to sell off the property and use the proceeds to repay the loan.

If the sale price is more than what is due to the bank, it would have no right to object to the sale as long as it is assured of repayment of the amount owing.

Emotional element

Of course, there is an emotional aspect to the matter. Selling an existing house under such circumstances may mean having to move to a smaller house or a rented house.

This may be embarrassing because in our materialistic society, a person is always expected to move to a better and bigger house.

However, it is a choice that needs to be made if the matter is to be resolved without aggravating the situation. It is also necessary if the person wants to get back on his feet.

Another option is to obtain temporary loan facilities to cover the immediate need. However, this will only be possible if the person concerned will be able to repay the latest loan that is taken as well as continue to service the monthly instalments of the first loan.

In this connection, the balance transfer facilities of some credit card organisations can be of help. Others give advances on very attractive rates with no upfront charge involved. Yet others even provide a limited no-interest period for such transfer.

However, the catch in this is that once the instalment amount due is not paid, interest charges on the unpaid balance then escalate to ordinary credit card rates. It is therefore important to make a correct anticipation of possible future income that will enable the plan for further payment to be carried out.

Conclusion

In the end, it is a matter of the individual having to make a decision himself. The different approaches would be suitable depending on the circumstances and the capability of the individual to deal with the repayment either immediately or based on future projections.

However, a choice between saving face or bearing the consequences of a default and all that follows, will have to be made.

To all who face such situations, it is hoped that they will find the strength to overcome the challenges in the year ahead.

Air Force Aircraft To Leave For Egypt Today In Mission To Evacuate Malaysians

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 (Bernama) -- Three C-130 transport aircraft belonging to the Malaysian Royal Air Force will leave for Egypt around noon today in a mission to bring home Malaysian students from the troubled country.

National Security Council secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab said the aircraft would also bring along foodstuff.

"At noon today, the aircraft will take off from Kuala Lumpur. They are taking with them food supply such as rice, cooking oil, flour, canned food and so on," he told Bernama when contacted.

He added that the government was now arranging temporary visas with the Saudi Arabian government to enable evacuation of students to Jeddah.

"Their number is huge so we are bringing them to Jeddah first," he said.

Last night, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak ordered the evacuation of Malaysian students due to the mounting uprising in Egypt.

Najib said the decision was made following a report by a team of Malaysian officials who is currently on a fact-finding mission to Egypt headed by Deputy Foreign Minister A. Kohilan Pillay and participated by the prime minister's political secretary Datuk Sahlan Ismail.

There are about 11,300 Malaysian students registered with the Malaysian Embassy in Egypt.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian stage demonstrations across major Egyptians cities in a bid to force President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30-year rule, plunging the country in its worst crisis in recent times.

Protesters flood Egypt streets


More than a million protesters flooded into central Cairo, turning Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital, into a sea of humanity as massive protests against President Hosni Mubarak swept across Middle East's most populous nation.

Packed shoulder to shoulder in and around the famed Tahrir Square, the mass of people on Tuesday held aloft posters denouncing the president, and chanted slogans "Go Mubarak Go" and "Leave! Leave! Leave!"

Similar demonstrations calling on Mubarak to step down were also witnessed across other cities, including Sinai, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Damnhour, Arish, Tanta and El-Mahalla el-Kubra.

Tens of thousands marched in Alexandria while the number of those protesting in Sinai was estimated to be around 250,000.

Tuesday's protests were by far the biggest since street demonstrations broke out against Mubarak's rule last week.

"The crowd is very diverse - young, old, religious, men, women - and growing by the minute," Al Jazeera's online producer said from Tahrir Square.

"They're chanting the same slogans they've been chanting all week. Someone actually hung an effigy of Mubarak from a streetlight."

Organisers had called for a march by a million people on the day, but the turnout surpassed all expectations.

Soldiers deployed at the square did nothing to stop the crowds from entering.

They have formed a human chain around protesters, and are checking people for weapons as they enter. Tanks have been positioned near the square, and officers have been checking identity papers.

According to reports, the military police have placed barbed wire around Mubarak's residence in Masr el-Gedidah, a suburb east of Cairo.

Sources said Mubarak is expected to offer "a solution" in an address to the nation shortly.

'Gaining momentum'

Al Jazeera correspondents said the mood at the Tahrir Square was "festival-like".

It is peaceful, people power that has united here in the heart of Egypt's historic square," reported one correspondent.

An Al Jazeera correspondent in Cairo said that there were reports that "thugs in certain parts of the city have been trying to stop people from driving into Cairo".

She said that "increasingly large pockets of pro-government protests" are also taking place at various locations in the city. There are fears that if the two sets of protesters meet, a violent clash could erupt.

Gigi Ibrahim, a political activist, told Al Jazeera the protesters will not be satisfied until Mubarak steps down.

"... Every day there are more numbers on the street than the day before. I think the protests are gaining momentum. The people ... will literally not leave until Mubarak steps down," she said.

In turning out at Tahrir Square and elsewhere, the protesters overcame various odds. Authorities had stopped all train traffic from Monday afternoon in a bid to deter people from joining the protests, but they came out in very large numbers nevertheless.

State TV has started showing footage of the protests in Tahrir Square, though it continues to delve on how the protests are hurting Egypt's economy.

Protest organisers had called for an indefinite strike to be observed across the country on Tuesday, the eighth day of an uprising that has claimed at least 150 lives.

Army promise

Our producer in Egypt reports on the latest developments


The protesters have been emboldened by the army's statement on Monday, in which they said that force would not be used against them.

"To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people," stress that "they have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people," said the statement.

It was the first such explicit confirmation by the army that it would not fire at demonstrators.

It urged people not to resort to acts of sabotage that violate security and destroy public and private property. It warned that it would not allow outlaws to loot, attack and "terrorise citizens".

Mubarak swore in a new cabinet on Monday, in an attempt to defuse ongoing demonstrations, but the move has done little to douse public anger.

Panic and chaos

On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund said it was ready to put in a place an economic rebuilding policy for the country.

"The IMF is ready to help in defining the kind of economic policy that could be put in place," IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.

Meanwhile, chaos has been reported at Cairo's international airport, where thousands of foreigners are attempting to be evacuated by their home countries.

Our correspondent reported on Tuesday that about 1,000 US citizens have been evacuated to Cyprus or Turkey, from where they are expected to make their own way home.

She also said that China is sending two additional planes to evacuate its citizens.

Hindraf-HRP to be neutral in Merlimau

Seeing no difference between Pakatan and BN with regard to the Indian community, P Uthayakumar says a decision has been made to stay out of the contest.

GEORGE TOWN: The Human Rights Party (HRP) – Hindraf Makkal Sakti political axis will take a neutral stand in next month’s Merlimau state by-election.

HRP pro-tem secretary-general and Hindraf legal adviser P Uthayakumar said the stance was adopted due to the indifferent attitude shown by Pakatan Rakyat towards the Indian community.

“We will not participate in the campaign to woo Indians for Pakatan. So long as we are not there, Pakatan will never secure the majority Indian votes,” he told FMT, adding that HRP-Hindraf would never back Barisan Nasional either.

The Election Commission fixed nomination day for the Merlimau by-election in Malacca on Feb 26 and polling on March 6.

The seat fell vacant after the death of its BN assemblyman Mohamad Hidhir Abu Hasaan, 54, on Jan 20. In the 2008 general election Hidhir defeated PAS candidate Jasme Tompang with a majority of 2,154 votes.

Merlimau has 10,679 registered voters consisting 64.69% Malays, 21.11% Chinese, 14.16% Indians and 0.04% others.

Indian support has shifted

Uthayakumar pointed out that the Bagan Pinang, Hulu Selangor and Sunday’s Tenang by-elections showed that Indian support had shifted from Pakatan.

He warned that the trend would continue in Merlimau unless Pakatan worked with Hindraf–HRP.

He insisted that Hindraf–HRP would never work with the Umno-led BN due to its “racist policies and massive discrimination” of the Indian community for the past 53 years.

But he said that did not mean Hindraf – HRP would support Pakatan blindly without securing any political and socio-economic concessions for the Indian community.

He said Pakatan had so far refused to acknowledge the strength of the Hindraf–HRP axis to galvanise Indian support.

Therefore, he said that Hindraf-HRP would continue to work on its own 15/38 political agenda and not help Pakatan to regain lost ground among Indian voters.

“We won’t back anyone in Merlimau,” said Uthayakumar.

Referring to the Tenang by-election in Johor, he pointed out that 62.6% of Indian voters moved from Pakatan to BN.

His calculation was based on balloting results in the Indian-dominated Ladang Labis Timor, in which only 40 voters backed Pakatan on Sunday, a huge dip from 107 in 2008.

He claimed that the Ladang Labis Timor voting trend was a reflection of current Indian sentiments nationwide.

He stressed that only the Hindraf–HRP political axis could check and reverse the trend, as in 2008.

“But Pakatan leaders are not interested because they know we will never become their mandores,” he said, adding that there was no difference between BN and Pakatan with regard to Indians.

“If this attitude continues until the next general election, Pakatan can never end BN’s reign,” he said.

No tears shed for ‘racist’ Gobala

PKR claims that its former Padang Serai MP is trapped in a racial mindset, and his departure from the party is a welcome development.

PETALING JAYA: PKR has denounced Padang Serai MP and former party stalwart N Gobalakrishnan as a “racist”.

Party commnications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said that many ex-leaders had accused the party of sidelining certain races but these people were trapped in racist mindsets.

“It is appropriate that leaders such as Gobala, who is still trapped in the old mentality, to leave the party. The rakyat will judge him in the next election and PKR will continue to move forward as a progressive multiracial party,” he said in a press statement.

Nik Nazmi also compared Gobalakrishnan to Kulim Bandar Baru MP Zulkifli Noordin, who accused PKR of betraying the Malays.

He added that the Padang Serai MP only aired his views after he was defeated in the race for vice-presidency in the recent party election.

Despite being a once PKR loyalist and diehard supporter of party supremo Anwar Ibrahim, Gobalakrishnan quit the party on Saturday, citing differences with the leadership.

He also claimed that the party was not paying attention to its Indian members.

The Padang Serai MP was first seen incessantly attacking the party – particularly deputy president Azmin Ali – after lawyer N Surendran was appointed as vice-president.

Annoyed by his criticisms, the party slapped him with a 45-page show-cause letter.

Gobalakrishnan’s resignation also prompted his former comrades to demand that he quit as an MP as well.

Meanwhile, the PKR communications director also disputed Gobalakrishnan’s claim that the party leadership was racially unbalanced.

Gobalakrishnan had previously alleged that although Indians made up 40% of PKR’s membership, its leaders, however, were 90% Malay.

However, Nik Nazmi said that this statement could not be further from the truth.

“From PKR’s 371,612 members, Malays form 45%, Chinese 11%, Indians 23%, Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputera and others 21%.

“At the same time, the central leadership council for 2010 to 2013 consists of Malays 62%, Chinese 20%, Indians 12%, Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputera and others 4%,” he said.

Boycott Interlok panel, Indian reps told

Calling it a futile exercise, an Indian business group leader says the demand is crystal clear – withdraw the book.
PETALING JAYA: Representatives of the Indian community slated to sit on the panel tasked with making amendments to the controversial Interlok novel should boycott the appointment.

In making this call, Malaysian Indian Business Association (Miba) president P Sivakumar said the panel was an exercise in futility, when the community’s stand on the issue was crystal clear.

“We want the book to be withdrawn. How many times do you have to meet over a school book? The last meeting went on for two hours,” he told FMT.

Sivakumar also reminded politicians that the issue concerned the shaping of young minds and should not be viewed from a ballot box perspective.

“Politicians should not turn schoolchildren into a vehicle for political mileage. It’s about doing the right thing, so the book must be removed from the syllabus,” he said.

However, he warned that the government’s adamant stand in retaining the book could court political repercussions for Barisan Nasional (BN), with regard to Indian votes in the next general election.

“The decision to retain the book albeit with some changes to the offensive parts is not the desired remedy as the book has left bitter memories in the minds of the Indian community,” he said.

“The community is disappointed; we expected nothing short of a complete withdrawal,” he added.

Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also education minister, said the book would be retained but would only be distributed to students after a panel, comprising literary experts and Indian representatives, made the necessary amendments.

Interlok, penned by national laureate Abdullah Hussain, was introduced as a component for the Malay literature subject for Form Five students this year.

However, Indian groups, including MIC, objected on the grounds that the book contained inaccurate and disparaging information about the community.

Disappointed with MIC
Elaborating on the yet-to-be formed panel, Sivakumar said: “This is perceived as a design to further frustrate the Indians and somehow force them to come to terms with the authorities’ decision.”

“It is feared that the representatives from the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) and from groups aligned to the DBP would impose their views and compel the panel to accept some shoddy changes.

“In the final analysis, the book would leave much to be desired and would turn out to be a bitter pill for the Indian community to swallow,” he added.

Sivakumar said that he was bewildered by the government’s “insensitivity” towards the feelings of the Indian community and its inability to see eye-to-eye with MIC on the matter.

The Miba president also expressed disappointment with MIC for bowing to pressure and compromising on its stand.

“We expected MIC to remain firm in its call to have the book withdrawn,” he said.

Sivakumar stressed that Miba would work with other NGOs to continue pressuring the government to withdraw the book.

Cikgu! Penari Kathakali tidak pakai topeng

Sebagai individu yang diakui sudah ‘dewasa’ dan ‘matang’, pelajar perlu berani bersuara semasa perbincangan di kelas. Adik-adik sekalian,
COMMENT
Kita sambung perbincangan yang ditangguhkan semalam. Sebagai pelajar dan remaja yang sudah diberi lesen ‘dewasa’ dan ‘matang’ oleh pelbagai persatuan penulis mewakili kaum tertentu dan NGO kaum tertentu, anda boleh membaca secara terperinci kisah di halaman 210-284, novel Interlok edisi murid dan mencatatkan jati diri Maniam, jika ada.
Maniam hanya ‘menyaksikan pawai gajah yang dihiasi dalam perayaan Onam di pekan Tricur’ (halaman 211). Tiada apa-apa bukti menunjukkan identiti keturunannya sebagai seorang Malayali (Malayalam); termasuk namanya!
Upacara perkahwinan Maniam-Malini di Malaya disempurnakan mengikut budaya keturunan Tamil, iaitu keturunan Perumal (bapa Malini) yang berasal dari Madras, Tamil Nadu, India. Malah, ‘pesta perkahwinan’ itu digambarkan sebagai ‘upacara yang meletihkan’ (halaman 229).
Sejak masih berada di ‘sebuah desa yang terletak berdekatan dengan Tricur, Kerala, sebuah negeri di pantai barat India Selatan’ (halaman 210) hinggalah ke saat Maniam ‘hanya berdoa dalam hatinya, untuk keselamatan anaknya’ (halaman 288), tidak ada apa-apa penanda dan petanda yang nyata untuk menunjukkan Maniam ada sebarang jati diri sebagai seorang Malayali (Malayalam) beragama Hindu; kecuali bahawa – syukur, segala pujian hanya bagi-Mu, Tuhan! – ‘Sebagai orang Hindu, lembu tidak boleh disembelih dan dimakan dagingnya’ (halaman 215).
Sebenarnya, ‘alasan’ mengenai sebab kaum India tidak makan daging lembu seperti digambarkan dalam Interlok edisi murid lebih berciri purana dan bukannya fakta. Siapakah agaknya ‘a scholar from University of Malaya’s Indian Studies Department’ (New Sunday Times, 23 Januari 2011) yang menjadi ‘pakar rujuk’? Entahlah, segalanya masih menjadi ‘misteri nusantara’ (common noun).
Sekurang-kurangnya anda tahu bahawa Maniam bukan Paria (proper noun) atau paria (common noun) kerana istilah itu sudah terbukti merujuk secara khusus kepada ‘kumpulan manusia yang makan daging lembu’ (common noun). Ini baru fakta, dan ini juga mungkin fakta baru untuk anda.
Dramatari Kathakali
Adik-adik sekalian,
Maniam juga tidak tahu apa-apa mengenai budaya Malayali walaupun dia lahir dan membesar di Kerala sebelum menjadi ‘pendatang’ di Malaya pada usia 30 tahun. Ops, maaf! Pendatang (proper noun), bukan pendatang (common noun).
Maniam sangat suka melihat penari-penari Katha-kali yang memakai topeng dan melakonkan kisah-kisah lama. (halaman 211)
Petikan di atas menunjukkan bahawa Maniam – atau Sasterawan Negara Datuk Abdullah Hussain (Pak Lah)? atau pakar runding/rujuk penuh ‘misteri nusantara’ dari Jabatan Pengajian India, Universiti Malaya? – tidak tahu apa-apa mengenai Kathakali iaitu suatu bentuk dramatari yang mula ditarikan di Kerala oleh orang Malayalam (Malayali) mulai abad ke-17.
Salah satu kehebatan dan keunikan Kathakali adalah bahawa penari/pelakon mengenakan solekan (mekap) yang tebal pada muka. Saya mengkaji Kathakali semasa mengaji di Universiti Malaya (1993-1998) serta menulis makalah dan cerpen mengenai dramatari itu, serta pelbagai aspek budaya kaum India. Maka, saya tahu bahawa watak Maniam dalam novel Interlok edisi murid tidak tahu apa-apa mengenai Kathakali.
Dalam hal ini, seorang pensyarah, penyair dan penterjemah terkemuka dalam kosmos sastera Melayu tempatan tampil mempertahankan kesalahan fakta mengenai Kathakali (baca: menegakkan benang yang basah) dengan mengatakan ia berciri faksyen (faction) dan ‘the author wanted to incorporate something new or different into his story’ (New Sunday Times, 23 Januari 2011).
Bukan model yang sesuai
Adik-adik sekalian,
Ringkasnya, watak Maniam dalam novel Interlok edisi murid bukan model yang sesuai untuk dijadikan ‘cerminan’ jati diri kaum India beragama Hindu di Malaysia; khususnya generasi muda yang mahu tahu mengenai sejarah nenek-moyong yang datang dari India.
Segala perkara berkaitan Maniam dan kehidupannya (termasuk budaya) seperti yang diangkat dan dijulang dalam novel Interlok edisi murid hanyalah imaginasi liar seorang pakar runding/rujuk penuh ‘misteri nusantara’ dari Jabatan Pengajian India, Universiti Malaya yang mungkin boleh dianggap sebagai ‘tangan halus’ (common noun) yang berjaya menyesatkan Pak Lah yang tidak bersalah.
Sayang sekali tiada kisah terperinci mengenai 119 Paria lain yang datang bersama-sama Maniam menaiki kapal ke Pulau Pinang pada Julai 1910. Mungkinkah ada dalam kalangan mereka yang lebih ‘berjaya’ berbanding watak Maniam?
Analisis kritikal dan waras seperti ini – ‘you need to look at it in the context of history, sociology and social linguistics to get the right message’ (New Sunday Times, 23 Januari 2011) – perlu anda lakukan sendiri tanpa berkiblatkan buku-buku panduan menjawab soalan peperiksaan yang membantutkan niat murni Kementerian Pelajaran (baca: Kerajaan, proper noun) menjadikan anda benar-benar ‘dewasa’ dan ‘matang’ menerusi pembacaan novel Interlok edisi murid yang dijadikan teks Komsas di Zon Tengah.
Semoga panduan yang saya berikan selama ini membantu anda menjadi pelajar yang benar-benar ‘dewasa’ dan ‘matang’ serta berani menyerap reformasi dalam pemikiran.

Why I will vote for HRP/Hindraf and not PAS/PKR/DAP or BN/Umno

I cannot get a job in the government, a scholarship, a job with Ah Pek Sales and Marketing Bhd, a place in MARA, a cheap home that I can afford, a meager 10 acres in some FELDA scheme somewhere, a loan from the bank, or teachers that won't call me Pariah to my face during sastera lessons, and I know that only HRP/HINDRAF finds that this is simply not acceptable.

By Indian MALAYSIAN

I am a Malaysian. But that statement needs to be qualified 99% of the time in this country.

I am an Indian Malaysian; and the only two times the fact that I am of the Indian persuasion did not matter was when I cast my vote. As an Indian Malaysian, my vote is counted as one, just like the vote of a Chinese Malaysian or any other; and when I slap down my passport in some foreign land.

I would love to vote on the basis of who will lead this country better and reduce the wastage and corruption that has become endemic in this land I love, but I cannot do that for a few simple reasons.

1. I am more likely to be killed by the authorities, either when and if I find myself in custody, or when some dude in blue decides to get some target practice done on the roads. Now, I have followed enough extra judicial killings to know that PAS/PKR/DAP will not raise much of a fuss if I am the victim but I do know for a fact that HINDRAF/HRP will.

2. I get thrown in the slammer for some reason or other, maybe I had witnessed a fellow Malaysian (Indian Malaysian to be exact) get beaten to death and decided to open my big mouth. Once again I know that PAS/PKR/DAP won't even pick up the phone, but HRP/HINDRAF will.

3. I had knocked some girl up before I was thrown into jail, and the poor girl now cannot get a birth certificate for the baby, as the daddy (yours truly) is busy learning how to survive on 800 calories a day behind bars. I know PAS/PKR/DAP won't even find out the name picked out for the baby, but HRP/HINDRAF will. Now if the girl decides to give up the baby, or she dies giving birth to it, PAS/PKR/DAP will have no issue with the baby now having a Bin/Binti in its name, but HRP/HINDRAF definitely will.

I believe you get my drift now.

I cannot get a job in the government, a scholarship, a job with Ah Pek Sales and Marketing Bhd, a place in MARA, a cheap home that I can afford, a meager 10 acres in some FELDA scheme somewhere, a loan from the bank, or teachers that won't call me Pariah to my face during sastera lessons, and I know that only HRP/HINDRAF finds that this is simply not acceptable.

So you say I should vote for PAS/PKR/DAP because of the greater good. Okay I will, with a couple of conditions.

Give it to me in writing that the next time I am at risk of getting shot or beaten to death by the police, one of you will come and take my place. Tell me that the next time I apply for a job in the private or public sector, you will give up yours so that I can have means of livelihood. Tell me the next time someone decides that I am not entitled to what another Malaysian is, because I am an Indian Malaysian, you will march on the streets and hound those responsible until things change for the better.

Tell me that, and I will give your beloved PAS/PKR/DAP my vote. If you cannot do that, there is an easier way for you to get my vote. Tell your PAS/PKR/DAP to sit down and talk to HRP, MCLM, KITA, UBF, SNAP and whoever else is out there who is anti BN. If you cannot even do that, I suggest you take your opinion on who I should vote for and stick it where the sun don't shine.

Elia Geneid Shows Sarawak’s Youth How To Be Go-getter Land Grabbers!


Mixing business with partying – an example for Sarawak’s womanhood?
We all love to admire this well-connected socialite and businesswoman, Elia Abas/ Geneid!  She may look like a barely-dressed party girl, but Elia was scarcely into her 20s by the time she had established herself as a major figure in the oil palm plantation business, with a series of multi-million ringgit concessions all to herself!
But, of course the gorgeous young trend-setter is also Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s neice and therefore has several brilliant (if hidden) attributes.  Indeed, the Taib family has provided endless shining examples for the rest of Sarawak’s youth, showing how to seize the many ‘Equal Opportunities’ that are handed to them through government projects!
As Taib exhorts the rest of the nation’s young people to show more energy and initiative and to work their way out of poverty, he can be proud of how all his nieces and nephews have been so successful in demonstrating the path to riches
The party-scene will miss you Elia!
Even more amazingly, Elia has been able to turn herself  into a multi-millionairess, while at the same time managing to spend so much time publicly partying and carrying on with goodness-knows how many chaps!  Two marriages and three engagements in two years is pretty good going for such a young thing!
Demure look for wedding No 1 (the marriage lasted 2 months)
Isn’t it lucky she has made so much money that she can pay for the millions of ringgit that has been spent in celebrating it all?  “Work hard and play hard” is clearly the motto that has been drummed into the mini-Taibs from an early age by their stern Uncle (the Chief Minister himself!!!).  [See our earlier reports with pictures on these lavish events] and [More here!]
So, what do we know about Elia’s business career and how she has maximised the opportunities which are on offer to her and also of course to others?  Well, in 2008 Elia managed to secure an amazingly good deal with the Land Custody and Development Agency (LCDA) that happens to be controlled by her Uncle Taib.  She spotted the opportunity, whereas others were so slow and lazy that they never even knew that the land was available!
In fact the eagle-eyed Elia had worked out that nearly 10,000 hectares of land had been removed from Native Customary Land owners in Tatau, Bintulu without them even having realised the situation!   She moved double-quick and (presumably because nobody else had yet expressed an interest in the land) she was able to pick it up for a mere snitch at just RM5.5 million.  This was a fraction of its real value of course and she arranged for it  to be paid in installments later!  What a hard business brain!!
‘Stupid’ Iban natives miss out!
Sarawak Report has made enquiries and discovered that the Iban communities of Tatau had their land alienated by Taib in 1996.  The stupid things are so poor they claim they could not afford a lawyer to fight their case, so how do they ever expect to take advantage of the opportunities Taib so kindly makes available to them?  Quite rightly, Taib has once again this week denounced as ‘crabs’ (?) those people who criticise the wealth of go-getters like Elia and the rest of his family members.  In fact he has made so many speeches denouncing the critics of his wealth we really think this must be the key platform on which he wishes to fight the coming election.  We have such a clever Chief Minister – three cheers for all your wealth and let us remind everyone about it and how cleverly you accumulated it!
Too distracted to read his people's thoughts? Given the rumours surrounding the new first lady's obvious weightiness, will we have to start paying for her new family soon?
Once the Ibans had lost their lands, Taib sold the timber concession to Borneo Pulp and Paper, who chopped down the 150 million year old jungle (the oldest in the world by the way) and turned it into …. well pulp and paper.  Then in 2008 it was Elia’s chance to show her quick-witted gumption.  She rounded up RM5.5 million (from her piggy bank?) and made the purchase before anyone else could get to hear about it.  Well, no one else was going to hear about it actually, because in his ‘land of equal opportunity’ Taib likes to hand these concessions out privately… to his family.
Minda from Sugai Anap (son of the former Pengulu Jipun) is a spokesmen for the Iban longhouse communities who have lost their livelihoods because of this development.  He expressed astonishment on learning that the young Elia now has the concession for his lands.  He told us
“We received a letter from the British in the past to say this was our area, but the Government has now told us this is not relevant anymore.  To begin with the company came and paid the 4 headmen to keep quiet, but when they came with their bulldozers we made a police report.  This matter  is in discussion now”.
Ikrar Bumi Sdn Bhd
Mixing business with glamour - an example to Sarawak's youth?
Elia managed to secure a series of so-called ‘Provisional Licences’ to turn the whole area into an oil palm plantation between 2008 and 2009 – the deal was finalised in March last year.  The licences are provisional, because in theory the local people who have Native Customary Rights in the area need to be brought into agreement about it.  But nobody really takes any notice of these useless types – no commercial instinct, basically lazy.
The company under which Elia has secured this huge land-bank is called Ikrar Bumi Sdn Bhd.  Coincidentally, it is registered at the headquarters address of Parabena, a company run by her mother Raziah Mahmud who is Taib’s sister.  Taib himself has shares in Parabena and this company has received a large number of valuable Government contracts and concessions.  We have calculated that the sister companies registered at Parabena address have received lands totalling an area of about half the size of Brunei!  What a truely amazing family?!
Just under 10,000 hectares of Native Customary Rights land for RM5.5 million – Good work Elia!
Of course Elia is a very young lady, so the person who has actually been doing the boring work of dealing with the land registry on her behalf is shown in the official records to be one Joanna Kho, who happens to be her Mum’s secretary.  Kho gives her telephone number as the main number for Parabena Sd Bhd.
But there is no doubt as to whom the beneficiary of all this is.  Elia is her mother’s second child, born during the first of her three marriages.  Therefore her actual name is Elia Abas, the name of Raziah’s first husband.  Elia Abas is a Director of Ikrar Bumi, as is her mother.  She also owns 998 of 1,000 shares of the company! Gosh!
Elia Abas owns 998 out of the 1,000 shares! Wow!
Elia’s business acumen is further demonstrated by the fact that although Ikrar Bumi had only RM1,000 in shareholder capital, she has been able to convince her Uncle Taib that it is acceptable to purchase a RM5.5 million state asset with only a promise of future payment.  Why cannot the rest of Sarawak’s youth just buck up and take notice and follow this shining example?  We should all feel ashamed to be poor when Elia manages to be so fabulously rich!
Where she will make her money?
However, Elia is still to close the deal by transferring her new lands for a multi-million profit to another gneuine plantation company which can actually get down to the business of sorting out any complaints from the natives and digging up their lands to plant oil palm.  After all you can’t really expect a pretty, rich girl of such quality like her to dirty her hands with an actual job!
Joys of wealth, Elia and lucky husband No 2 - But don't be 'envious' demands Taib, follow Elia in taking the equal opportunities he has given you!
Normally, any protests about the ‘provisional licence’ sold on by the likes of Elia have been easily dealt with by such second parties.  They just lie.  The natives are told they have no rights and that the licence is not  provisional, but a full licence to log and then plant the land.  The stupid fellows are led to believe that they are not elegible for more than a few ringgit compensation!   If they do kick up a fuss, well then the gangsters move in and the police turn a blind eye until the issue is sorted out.
Well that is business for you and it is how the Taibs take advantage of their opportunities. You really do have to admire how clever they are, really don’t you?  Amazing!   But, in fact, we are getting just a little bit worried on behalf of the stylish Elia. By this time, as the practice goes, she should have long-since washed her hands of the matter and sold on the licence to one of these enforcers for a fat profit.
But is the gravy train coming to an end for the Taibs?
Victors against Raziah’s Quality Concrete – the Ibans of Kampong Ensika have won a restraining order against this Taib Land Grab
Confidentially, Sarawak Report’s Tatler Correspondent is left wondering why Raziah and Robert have allowed such a long time to pass before encouraging their daughter to cash in on her profits and quickly distance herself?
Certainly, in previous years such a sale would have been conducted in a matter of days or weeks!   So has Elia been too diverted by the preparations for her three lavish wedding parties over the past couple of years?  Or could the family be encountering deeper problems?
Perhaps they are suddenly finding it rather hard to find a buyer willing to take on their hot potato?  Don’t forget these days there could be a very messy and public court case now the angry locals have discovered what has happened.
Things are changing very fast on that front.  More and more of these situations are ending up in court, thanks to Land Rights Lawyers such as the new PKR leader Baru Bian.  He has 200 such cases going through the courts and has started winning against the Government of Taib Mahmud with frightening regularity!
So many pretty gems for Elia and her sisters! Rubies no less! - But might they have to tighten their purse strings if they cant steal more land?
And, of course there is another problem, which is that all these big oil palm companies want to look ‘sustainable’ these days.  It is the new fashion and Tatler says it is hot, hot, hot!  Meano Deforestation is out, Greenwash is in!
So, buying dodgy provsional licences off the internationally notorious Mahmud Family doesn’t look at all good on the Annual Report and would involve a lot of explaining to shareholders and NGOs!  Best avoided. Look at the example just this week, when Mummy Raziah’s own latest land grab in Simunjan, Sebangan was halted by the courts.  This is an expensive blow to Quality Concrete Sdn Bhd, which had taken on the area at enormous cost after a huge payout to Raziah.  They had even given her a position on their Board  and shares in the company to sweeten the deal!
So, could it be that pretty, clever, go-getting Elia is having a difficult time finding her buyer after all?  What was easy a couple of years back may not be so easy now!
Do not criticise the ‘wealth creators’ like Elia!
All this must be causing worrying moments for the the Chief Minister, who has been trying time and again in speech after speech to get it through to us that we must ENCOURAGE the wealth-creating activities of young ladies like Elia for the good of us all.
Where would we be without all her expenditure?  What about the jobs serving at her parties and cleaning after her (and writing about her)? We NEED her wealth!
Elia and her wealthy family live it up in Monaco last summer at the Islamic Fashion Show!
There is also the personal concern of the Chief Minister that his family may not yet be quite rich enough and of course he may have a whole lot more little ones to worry about very soon indeed with his lovely young wife, so many decades his junior.
For these reasons Taib is known to have started threatening the judges who have been finding against him in these cases and seeking to undermine their careers.  However, they are answering to the judgements of a higher court and have little option but to carry out the law.
Elia and her nice big house..... don't be 'envious' because you should have earned it (like Elia didn't)!
This all may mean that Elia will have to restrict herself to just two husbands.  Unlike her mother she may not be able to afford a third!

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PKR wants Rosmah as foreign minister

Since she appears to be more effective than minister Anifah Aman, a PKR leader suggests that Rosmah be allowed to run the ministry.

PETALING JAYA: A PKR leader has proposed that Malaysia’s self-styled First Lady Rosmah Mansor be allowed to spearhead the Foreign Ministry.

In a statement oozing with sarcasm, Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin said Rosmah’s holiday trips were more effective than Foreign Minister Anifah Aman’s diplomatic duties.

The PKR Wanita chief also accused Anifah of apple polishing when the latter had referred to Rosmah as a “wise and clever woman”.

“Anifah should be working towards ensuring the safety of Malaysians who are in danger from the unrest in Egypt instead of sucking up to Rosmah,” she said.

A Bernama report on Saturday said that Anifah had termed Rosmah as a smart woman who helped to strengthen Malaysia’s ties with other countries.

The minister also endorsed her abilities at the international level, adding that he would be honoured to see the the prime minister’s wife being invited as a guest to a foreign state.

Anifah’s remarks came hot on the heels of the criticism from the opposition that Rosmah was taking advantage of her position to travel the world.

‘Rein in your wife’
Based on the minister’s glowing appraisal, Zuraida said: “It seems that Rosmah needs to be appointed as Foreign Minister as she is more effective than Anifah himself.”

The PKR MP also advised Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to rein in his wife before she embarrassed the country.

She also criticised Najib for being evasive when queried on the First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM) division within the Prime Minister’s Department.

FMT previously reported that FLOM, a six-strong office within the PM’s Office, might have been involved with Rosmah-centric events.

These included the Islamic Fashion Week, the RM4.5 million three-day First Ladies Summit and several “official” visits to New York, Europe and the Middle East.